I saw a building I hadn’t seen before, though I had walked by it at least a few times a month. I stood on the corner for three lights, while we caught up on lost time.
I heard five people’s voices rise in pitch as they walked by me, saying “puppy!” I looked down at Ruby and thanked her.
I bought a man some food so he could eat, using money a friend loaned me so I could.
And I looked into the eyes of everyone I could, hoping to feel a new friend, or love. Hoping my soul might see her and kind of say “Oh, there you are. I’ve been looking for you.”
And it would feel like two people finally meeting each other
after a lifetime of not meeting each other.
I try to step away from the constant gnawing distraction, the thoughts that tell me what I should be doing instead of being here, now, writing – but they are insistent, demanding.
“You need to be working. You’ve saturated the circle of friends, they’ve bought what they wanted, and if you don’t figure out how to let the world know it will all end. You’re broke, hungry, borrowing money from friends just to survive. Your business is falling apart, failing. The fight is going out of you. YOU are failing…”
But I need to be here. This is my medicine, my solace. This is where I come to make sense of the things I need to – to make sense of me. Somewhere long the line I’ve lost who I was and I need to find that person again – that person who shined…
But that’s not correct, is it? I haven’t lost that person anymore than when you bury a body in the ground you’ve lost the body. I’m still here, buried alive, and I need to dig myself out.
I saw someone I’ve known for a while at a party this last Sunday. I felt a lightness, a peace to her that hadn’t been there before, and I commented on it. Her father had died the month before, but he had been sick, hanging on, a shell of who he had been for the six years prior. When he passed on, she was released from his pain as well. For the first time since I’ve known her, I saw her.
I saw the lesson for me in that. There is something that I am letting corrupt who I am, and I need to find it. Bring it out, name it, and let this weight go. Shake off the dirt.
The other day I happened upon things people had said about me in the past – testimonials I had asked for to liven up a resume or project, and some things written simply because they had a desire to express their love to me. In reading them, I cried for the person I had forgotten – and vowed to bring him back:
“I keep a little picture of you I stole from the interwebs in a frame, and recently she asked about it.
I said, “this is the man who taught me how important it is to write, and use beautiful words, even for ugly things. He is one of the most amazing, most special people in the world, so that’s why I gave you his name.”
“kSea walks the walk, talks the talk, and is more amazing in ten
seconds than most people are in a lifetime.”
“kSea is what happens when you decide to live your dreams. His unstoppable passion to live is breathtaking.”
For years I’ve been looking at the shape of my life from before I went into hospice. Even before I created the magazine. (culturefluxmagazine.com) I remember the adventure, living in a van & on couches yet still, nearly every day, going to perform on The Wharf. I remember working with The Dresden Dolls & being a mentor & friend to so many beautiful young artists & performers who were just starting out; living on the road, going wherever I was needed then moving on – and I remember how pure my happiness was, how much joy I always felt.
I’ve made the mistake of thinking that my happiness depended on getting back on the road, that it was the mirage outside of me that created the pureness and the shine inside. We all seem to fool ourselves of that – that we need something besides ourselves, whether it be a great job, a house with a fenced yard, a fancy car – or in my case, the adventure of not knowing what would happen, where I would be from day to day. I longed to somehow recreate those times. Then I would be happy again, then I would be me again…
But happiness does not exist in the illusions outside of us – or at least, it’s not found there. The joy we feel or have felt only can come from inside, and if we depend on the world outside of us for it we are sure to forever be disappointed. All over the world there are people who exist on nearly nothing but the barest of essentials, and the honesty in their smiles, the depth of their joy, is something that could never come from possessions or circumstance.
It is now time to look deep into the mirror, scrape the mud mask off of my face, and see the truth – the truth in me. Turn up the lights, look down at the person on the operating table and see that it is myself – and that writing is my scalpel, my medicine, and my bandages.
I’ve had a taste of how beautiful life can be. That is what kept me alive in hospice, and that is what I will again use to heal my soul.
I’ve had a taste, and I want more.
(And now back to work. 😉 ) By the way, if anyone is looking for some beautiful & unique jewelry, come on by my web-store – and please, spread the word! http://chainstore.kseaflux.com
This timing isn’t working. All I can do when I sit down to write in the morning is think about how quickly I can get it done. There are so many stories I want to write, so much life I’ve lived, but they don’t fit neatly into a few small paragraphs. Into a small pocket of time. There is so much more I need to be doing, and so much more time than I had intended to have this ready by has already passed. just a few more things and every bit of focus I can dredge up to get them done before I’m able to take my art and life to a place that has only been a vague dream with no knowledge of how to get there – like the whisper of a pirate’s buried treasure with no map of how to get there.
At least, up until now.
Suddenly this lifelong glassy-eyed, “wouldn’t it be nice if someday” dream has an incredibly good chance of becoming real… and I’m having an insanely difficult time believing it. It’s as if David Bowie called you out of the blue to explain that his death was just a hoax, and not to intrude but he would love it if you could find a nice two bedroom apartment where you & he could live for a while, and just live quiet lives hanging out, chatting over pints at local dive bars on the nights when you two weren’t at the studio while he cut another album – and by the way, do sing or play an instrument?
Okay, so that may be a bit unbalanced on the level of disbelief in the possibility of it happening, but you get the picture. The life I’ve considered nearly impossible to ever be mine is now so close to becoming reality that I’m absolutely terrified. More than finding my birth mother, more than dying. This is being able to do what I want, to have the freedom to go anywhere, to simply treat a friend to a nice dinner on a whim as we walk past an interesting looking restaurant – I can’t even remember how many years it’s been since I’ve been able to do something as simple as that…
and to be able to help. Having a car when someone needs a ride or to move, money if they need that, donations to animal shelters & sanctuaries, and eventually even a yard large enough for Rubes to run around & plan in – with her new friends.
I see the steps, have carefully thought about how it’s going to grow, and am ready as I can be for the inevitable challenges along the way.
I’ve learned quite a bit about how to work through adversity over this life I’ve lived.
Maybe it – the good and bad – maybe all that I’ve lived through has been preparation for this new adventure. Maybe it has all been trying to teach me not to be afraid, that one way or another, it will all work out – just like it always has.
All I need to do is get my ass in gear & get the things I need to get done, done – and maybe, come this Friday – four days from now – this impossible dream will get its first taste of reality as I receive the first wholesale order for my jewelry.
Either that, or David Bowie will call.
Just sit. Be quiet. Think.
Though I don’t do it as much as I used to or would like to now, it is still one of the things I relish most in life – having the time to do just that – or making the time.
But admittedly, as much as I love it, it’s not something that comes easily to me, and never has. My mind just simply doesn’t work like that. My thoughts don’t organize themselves into something that I can easily follow or make sense of, and my head seems to enjoy dancing around from one thought to the next, as if they were in that lottery-ball machine, bouncing around & randomly shooting up the tube into my awareness.
Sometimes I can let them go – just a passing thought of little consequence, or something that I can figure out or decide upon right then and there, gathering a bit of logic & other things I may have learned along the way – but then there are others, like the one I only just had – and the only way to play it out in my head so that it makes sense – is to write. It’s the way it’s always been for me.
Lately I’ve had a number of people comment on how much better I’ve been looking – how much healthier. Enough people to make me wonder why, and try to figure out if anything has changed, or maybe they just haven’t seen me in a while. Probably a mixture of both, but answering it so easily with absence – well, that’s not going anywhere. That won’t help anything or get me thinking about a path of possible growth, something that has happened that I can continue… But if anything has changed? Now that could be interesting – so that’s what I went with, as well as I could inside of my head. And I found an answer.
I’m creating again. I have a purpose again. I’m doing something I love, and best of all – making people happy.
And, in return, my health has improved, I feel happier, and with my chainmaille jewelry business, there seems to be, as long as I don’t let myself procrastinate it all away or find a place where I’m “okay” but not where I want to be and call it good enough – there is almost unlimited growth potential. I’ve even figured out a way to move beyond the terror of not doing every little thing myself.
I’ve found, however, that it’s fragile. I have such a fucking frustrating propensity to procrastinate, to put things off with some of the best excuses imaginable, that what I need to do doesn’t get done – and I’m only happy when it does.
I need to remember that. I’m only happy when things are moving forward, when I’m growing, when I’m stepping out of comfort into something I’m terrified of doing – because that’s the only place I find passion. Only then do my eyes shine the way they used to, and only then… only then, I believe, does my mind use the power it has to heal my body, because it has a reason to.
Why else would it have been that I was mostly fine – able to walk the 3/4 mile to the cafe from my motorhome to work on my magazine every day for months – and then within the first week of being in the hospice with nothing to do, my body decides to completely shut down?
There’s something in that – and now, if you’ll pardon me, I’m going to get my ass in gear and get to work. I have a business that I love to make grow, and a life to continue to live.
I went to a memorial last night, a celebration of a friends life.
I don’t get emotional about people dying. At most, I feel a little saddened or concerned for the family they may have left, but inside of my heart, if there is anything felt at all is is more focused around fond memories of them, feeling blessed that they were in my life and that we were able to experience some of it together, share it and some of the time we have with each other, enjoy its magic.
When I heard of Jan passing, however, it was different. I only knew him a short time, but I sensed something of a kinship in him that I seldom feel with anyone , and seldom have. He was someone special to me, someone I looked forward to getting to know, share stories with, share our sadness, frustration, joys and love.
But I never had that chance. He never knew what I felt. I never took the time to tell him, to pull him aside, to tell him what I felt. I figured that, if I was right in what I saw in him, it would happen – after all, we had time. I would see him again, and maybe then the opportunity would arise where we found ourselves engaged in conversation, standing outside at a party or the last two sitting around a campfire in the early hours of the morning…
Last night I found out much more than I had ever known about Jan as people stepped up to the microphone to talk about him, his life, frustrations, joys, and love – and they described the exact person I felt when I saw him, in the few times we chatted. They described who I saw behind his eyes – the person I wanted to get to know better, the person I felt was more – and as they were talking about him, the tears fell from my eyes as I found out more and more… because they were also describing me.
Jan, even though we never had the chance to know each other, you taught me a valuable lesson, and I thank you.
In the future, if I come across someone who, behind their eyes, I see kin, see someone familiar, see someone who, even if I don’t know why at the time, I feel like I should get to know – I won’t hesitate. If I have to, I’ll step through my shyness & insecurity & fears & pull them aside, to a place we can talk, and begin: “This is going to sound weird and I apologize, but you remind me of someone that I never got a chance to know until after he died, and I think we could be friends…”
Every morning I would wake up excited, the doors to infinite possibilities wide open & inviting me in. Decisions were sometimes made by careful deduction, but more often than not with little more than whim, the flip of a coin, direction of the wind, or the quiet, passionate desperation that endlessly seethes inside of me – the eternal need for the unknown, for adventure. To continually test myself with whatever blessing or adversity the Universe could conjure up to throw at me, and grow. And learn.
Plans to move to Boston fell through so I found myself in Austin volunteering for Katrina refugees in an artist’s forest. A new friend had never been to Burning Man so I promised her a ride from New Orleans, only being able to find a van to buy less than 10 days before we had scheduled to leave. I couldn’t find the magazine I wanted to read so I decided to create it, not having the first idea how I was going to, or even how to build a website – and four months after it launched was producing shows for the first time & winning awards.
Nothing could stand in my way. The world opened to whatever I sought or desired, and if it didn’t exist I created it. It felt like nothing could stop me, like this life I had shaped and formed and fashioned would keep storming ahead. I made my dreams so real, so beautiful, that they virtually fulfilled themselves…
…and then there was nothing. I felt like I was lying in the middle of a freeway, unable to move as life rushed by and all I could do was lay there, static in a world of action, decaying, decomposing, trying not to die.
And time passed. What was supposed to be a three month vacation turned into eighteen months of hell. People visited, some, I’m sure, expecting it to be the last time they saw me alive. I was good at reassuring them, I think, letting them believe I was fine, strong, getting better so that they would be more comfortable. I don’t think I ever expressed how terrified & unsure I was most of the time. I wouldn’t even let myself believe that. I couldn’t. Instead I focused on healing & what I would do when I walked out the door. When I could, I read feverishly. Studied quantum science, I taught myself to use my mind to heal my body.
It was easy to get to know the people in the hospice well, as it was only 14 rooms, 14 people at any time. You found out why they were there, created a familiar bond with them. Of the 15 who died in that time, I watched four with the exact same diseases and symptoms as I had give up and die – three of them younger with less severe symptoms. I’ll never know why. Was it the constant pain, or thinking there was nothing to live for? Had they forgotten their dreams?
I don’t know. I would just wake up and their room was empty, sterile, as if they had never been there.
I couldn’t let their deaths affect me. I couldn’t give in to the pain or the constant terror or the stench of my own flesh rotting. Up until the moment I walked into the hospice – those years had been the happiest of my adult life. I wanted them back.
I had to keep fighting.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
I walked out of the hospice just a little over six years ago.
All that time I have carried what happened, what I went through, on my shoulders & in my heart – and deep inside of it, I have also carried my sickness. Using it as a crutch, the only thing special about my present is my past – that I’m simply here. Alive, but not living. My life no longer moving forward the way it had been before it all went to shit, and I was left with nothing to hold onto but what I “had” done, instead of what I am doing.
I learned a lot about mind/body healing while in the hospice. I have absolutely no doubt that, as impossible as it was sometimes, if I hadn’t *known* I would live, I would have ended up just like those I watched while there – another sterile, empty room, my body carted out on a gurney behind the curtain of night.
But I still had work to do. Until I let go of that part of my past, I would always consider myself “sick”, and therefore never be able to be *truly* healthy, perfectly healthy – but it had turned into my identity. “The guy who didn’t die” was all I felt I was anymore.
At least until recently.
It feels, now, like I have a future, something to look forward to, and something that I’ve been looking *for* since the moment I walked out. Though it’s not close to enough to satisfy me fully – I still need a vehicle to get the fuck out on the road & just *drive* for days on end and find myself nowhere I’ve been before, I am creating again – I am frequently challenged, always learning, and I love designing & constructing my jewelry. And I have something to look *forward* to. I can let go of who I *was*.
The warrior awakens. There are new battles to win.
And you better fucking believe I will.
There was no sleeping on those nights. I knew this, but still I tried. Laying on my unfolded futon in my tiny room, I could see the faint glow of the full moon through the wooden slats covered by the blue-tarp roof.
The air thick and hot, it wrapped around me like a fever sheet as I finally got out of bed. I stepped the few feet to the kitchen, careful not to bang my toe on anything in the dark, and looked out my favorite window onto the street one floor below. The willow tree that on a breezy day would reach inside was as still as death, as was everything else I could see. The porchlights on the small homes across the street looked like they were shining through a light gauze, and leaning on my kitchen counter, gently pulling the branches of the willow through my hands & loving the feeling of its life, I knew that it was far too hot for me to sleep. I could either fold up my futon, sit down & write, or…
I looked at the clock. Still around 8 hours until I needed to be out at Jackson Square. I liked being there earlier, but definitely no later than 11am for the lunch crowd walking up & down Decatur. I would stand until the storms came through, nearly every day like clockwork around 2:30 or 3, and use that time to either grab a café au lait and beignet’s at Du Monde, or just sit on my milk crate and rest underneath the balcony of the nearest building, reading, writing, and waiting the hour or so it took for the thunder, lightning & rain to move on.
So much, I love the storms. Many times I would just sit there watching the rain splash into puddles of itself, and feel a charge roll through my body & mind as the lightning flashed & thunder rumbled across the sky, through my body. It felt like I was a part of it, and if I wanted to, if only I knew how, I could simply disappear into its magic & become a part of the storm’s passion, leaving everything behind & off to another new adventure…
Still naked, I put on some clothes & my boots, poured some ice-water into my thermos to bring with me, and stepped outside, locking my door behind me. At the top of the stairs I breathed in, and smelled the fragrant still air of the Southern night. Completely relaxed but eager to feel the wind on my face, I quietly walked down the stairs, unlocked my bike, then walked out the front gate on to Esplanade. I thought a few seconds, then realized – I knew exactly where I was going.
It felt beautiful to be riding through the streets. Everyone was inside & the city was still quiet from everyone leaving because of Katrina, so the streets were mine, & mine alone. In no rush to get where I was going, I swerved back & forth from side to side, sometimes riding up on to the sidewalk for a bit then back into the middle of the street, or randomly riding in extended figure 8’ts, at the top of each “8” moving just a little bit more in the direction I was going. The warm wind on my face felt glorious, and feeling so wonderfully light-hearted, knowing these moments were as perfect as they could possibly be, I wanted this one to last as long as it could.
Crossing through Jackson Square Park then Decatur, I smiled & circled around the spot where I would be standing again in just a few hours, visualizing hundreds of people putting 5’s, 10’s & 20’s into my busking box. I was still saving up for a van to get Raven & I to Burning Man, as I’d promised her a ride a month or so before without having a ticket or any way to get us there at the time, but knowing things would work out. In those days, they always did. In those days, I was magic.
There was no one around, so I didn’t bother locking my bike – just laid it down off the sidewalk on the rocks. There was a soft glow from the moon, but still I was proud of myself that I had thought to bring a flashlight as I stepped from rock to rock, down to the river. Finding a good rock to sit on right on the edge of the Mississippi, I saw the cargo ships downriver, silent, still, & peaceful. I couldn’t help but think of what it was like a hundred years ago, remembering all I could of “Huck Finn”. I guess if I ever had a hero, someone I wanted to emulate, it would, without question, be him – with a good helping of Samuel Clemens thrown in for writing & the Gentleman.
Feeling on my face the slightest whisper of a cool breeze coming off the river the full moon giving just enough to see the ripples in the water moving with the current… and as I sat there savoring this perfect solitude, I felt my heart beating and strong, full with the beauty of this life.