December 25, 2011

I Have Not Been Myself

I have not been myself. For a while now. I mean, I have been lately, but…that was a pretty recent development. Up until last year, I was not myself. At least not in the best sense of the word. I was something less than that. A watered down version of myself. “KJ .50”. For years. And I didn’t even know it. And the day I became aware of the extent of it was the day that that changed. 1 night, over a year ago. Blink. Boom. Reformed. I was not myself for nearly 10 years. My god that’s a long time. Such a shame, such a waste. Passing thru life like a ghost, only so alive. Only so happy to be alive. This was me. I was becoming “just another cog.” With little in the way of aspiration or ambition. And I was okay with that. Seemingly. There was one period of “greatness” in my life when I was younger. A time when I began to feel great, but also see signs of greatness (in some way) within me. It started in high school, when, for the first time in my life, life started to seem good. Even…nice sometimes. I think a lot of this had to do with the circle of friends I had found who gave me my first taste of true friendship. And, collectively, my first taste of unconditional love and “family” (at least as far as most people experience that word). I felt comforted and un-alone, and had people I could be myself around for the first time. Whoa, crazy. Along with that, my freshman year, I found my art. Which was big to me then, and exciting then and interesting then, but…I don’t think I realized what I had. Or that there was anything really special about it. And I don’t mind putting some of the blame for that on the people around me. There was a surprising lack of support from “adults” in my world. Family and teachers alike. It’s kind of weird to me now. It’s like nobody sees each other’s potential. It's like nobody wants anybody to do better than themselves. And on top of that, I assure you it was drilled into my head that there was no “future” in choosing to be a poet. I HAD to be practical. Fair enough. Wait…no it’s not. Regardless, I didn’t have to worry about that stuff til after I graduated, and by Junior year I was VIBING. Vibrating with life and ideas. I had so much energy and so much enthusiasm for everything I was doing. And I think part of that was having less stress in my life than ever before. I was beginning to feel peace. I was writing a poem every day sometimes. One day I had an idea and just decided to start my own writing club in the school! The only one of its kind. I had another idea and STAGED poems in cahoots with the drama department and won an award for “best director.” These were relatively small things that were big signs. Or should have been. I was a mover and a shaker and I could MAKE things HAPPEN. This was news to me. Everything was going fantastically. Well….aside from having to throw out the annual bucket of unrequited love, everything was going fantastically!

I had begun thinking big and dreaming big. I was beginning to see my potential. I was growing. A lot. Things were coming out of me that…had power to them. In them. And I felt like I had a responsibility to put these gifts to use, to not waste them. And I really thought I would, I really thought I’d see these dreams thru. How could I not? The signs were too clear. When ALL the signs say “Go THAT way,” what kind of idiot wouldn’t go THAT WAY?
By the end of high school, life was good. Understand, in general, I hated my high school. The education was fine, and I was a pretty good student by then, but the people and the culture just sucked. You have no idea how long it took me to figure out that “People don’t suck, it’s just Phoenix!” But thankfully, by the end of it I had found maybe half a dozen people I really cared about AND (this was new!) genuinely seemed to care about ME. You have no idea how good that felt. It was in the fortress of their friendship that I felt safe enough to pull the pieces my self out and put them back together. I rebuilt myself under their watch. Thank you. I was feeling SO GOOD and so alive at the end of my senior year, that I had my first conscious and visceral experience of psychic phenomena!

After graduation, the school hosted an all night party, and we actually went. Because…that’s what all the cool kids did. Ha. At the end of the night (i.e. 5 in the morning), which was a truly wonderful night, we were all in the cafeteria for the last hurrah and a big raffle. The raffle was of course just a gimmick to get us to stay the whole night and not go out and kill ourselves stupid. I didn’t care about it, but everyone who came was like automatically entered in or something. And there were some badass prizes, so yeah, we were there. Sitting there around the lunch table, FOR THE LAST TIME. Lunch tables that some of us had NEVER even sat at before (we all ate outside, in a corner usually, like we were hiding from the fucking world. A lot of my friends were in Sci-fi club and had a penchant for black trench coats. Nuff said). There we were, Class of ’99, getting all sentimental and shit over our plastic cups of coke, and it happened.
I was enjoyin the last hour of the party, talkin, listenin, laughin, whatever. Tired but alive. And there, in the midst of that, the strangest sensation came over me. Suddenly, my entire body….wanted to stand up. I had no idea what was going on, I just felt this push in my mind, telling me over and over to do something that I didn’t understand. I did Not want to suddenly stand up in the middle of the cafeteria for no reason at all! That was not something that I wanted to do, I valued my invisibleness. But some part of me was trying to tell me what to do in a language I was not familiar with. In the midst of that sensation, I heard my name. And then I heard it again. And it wasn’t just in my head, I knew that after the second time. And because people started to look at me. My name was being called, quite loudly. Over the speaker system. I was being called to the “stage.” I had won something in the raffle.

I immediately stood up. Thrilled to give in to this crazy impulsive urge. Even though I was still trying to process what was happening. “What.….just….happened?” I think I stood there for a second like, “What the fuck WAS THAT?” The fact that I won something was cool (and weird), BUT….something way bigger just took place in my little existence. The whole way up to the stage my head felt like it was in a dream. I was not there. This could not be happening.

Somehow….I knew this was going to happen several SECONDS before it happened. Some part of me knewwww.
How is that possible?

Needless to say, that experience redefined the word “possibility.” My mind was reeling. What a message to receive. It’s one thing to believe, it’s a whole nother thing to know. From experience. Experience trumps faith, and always will. This was mine, this was just another door blown open. My mind used to be a cell, but now it’s full of skylights.

There are so many well-defined lines that can be blurred. That’s what that experience taught me, phenomenally, for whatever reason. And here’s the thing, I won three hundred dollars in plane ticket vouchers. Which is a pretty cool prize. BUT….I never used em. Just never used em. Just like that. It’s safe to say that…my life was pretty sheltered in certain ways. I would say this was a sign of that shelteredness. I had only flown in a plane like twice up to then, and it was by no means normal for me to “travel” on my own. Why am I putting that in quotes? I have no idea! I guess cuz that word was pretty foreign to me back then. It’s not that I didn’t have that kind of independence, I just didn’t have that kind of freedom.

My point is though…I Had That ONE OF A KIND EXPERIENCE over something that would lead to nothing. Wow. Do you see what that means? That didn’t happen because that trip was fated to be some huge turning point in my life that was echoing backwards into the present. It wasn’t. It never happened. I sensed the future about something completely insignificant. It happened because it happened. It happened because it’s POSSIBLE. Because I was ready for it to happen, because my mind happened to be in that perfect place that would allow for such a blur in the time continuum to occur. All within that tiny space that is my awareness. Lucky me. Still, what a thing to know.


But yeah, that’s how good my life WAS. And my state of mind. And my relationship to the abstract. It all climaxed when I was 18. My life was better than it had ever been before and that was largely due to the fact that my understanding of life was better than it had ever been before. I got it. And it’s worth noting that this culminated with the end of my search for God. I "found" him. All by my lonesome. I went from being a nonbeliever and an active skeptic to the opposite. I opened my mind to it, I searched, and God came in. It was all adding up. I could see it now. For the first time in my life, my life made sense.
This was good. This was all very good. But unfortunately my life on the outside, hadn’t changed as much as I had changed within. I was still the son of the same parents. I was still the brother of the same siblings. I was still living in the same vapid city. I was still a product of a failed system and all of its drama. My friends were the only consistent source of positive experience (that didn’t completely exist in my head). And ultimately, that was the problem. I had overcome a lot of adversity, but there were still some things I was just too scared to do. Like telling my family and the world around me what I believed I could do. With words, with poems, with lyrics. I couldn’t break out of that box. My family has always been my kryptonite, despite the best of intentions.

I did not have the wherewithal to see it thru, to see thru what I knew needed to be seen. And said. And heard. And shared. I failed. And I did it by choice. Which is quite a kicker. Still kicks me in the gut every now and then. The Alchemist went from being one of my favorite books to a source of guilt and shame. I betrayed myself, I stabbed my own life in the back. After everything that had ever been dumped on me, the one to break me was me. It sucked. It’s the worst thing I’ve ever done. Within a couple years, I could hardly call myself a writer. And it set me on a course that would take TEN YEARS to complete. One big loop, one big detour full of little detours. What a trip. Despite all I’ve ever learned, and all I’ve been given, I still gotta do things the slow way. Sucks.
For all those years, I was living, and encountering people and touching lives and being touched by lives and I wasn’t even myself! I was not being the best me I could be. I was not representing human existence as I knew it should be, full of verve and splendor. I was barely invested in the story of us. I was not appreciating what I had or what I was given. I was not in love with life. And I was okay with rarely feeling GREAT.
I almost feel like I should apologize to all those people I came to love or came to love me then for never showing them my best. I’m sorry. You all deserve better. I hope that you will open your minds to all that I really am. It only gets better. I promise. Unless you don’t really like me that much. probably…..doesn’t.It’s a silly thing to dwell on, but if I do, it brings me down. What a shame. To go from such a high to such a lifeless medium. To go from being a catalyst of good and betterment to being a glimmer in the window of your own life. Silly.

But you know what, that’s what life does to us. It makes us less than ourselves. Kills us by degree. It’s the deaths we never see. Our inner child, our spirit, our innocence, our belief. It’s the deaths we never see that affect us the most.

But whatever, thank god for second chances. These things can be regrown, the abstract world is very plentiful. I’m back now. And I am truthfully better than ever. Positive energy is an amazing thing and can take you to great places IF you can harness it. And truly believing in yourself is like throwing off the chains of doubt and sprouting wings. I would suggest doing both, if you have something worth flying for.

My life right now is better than it has EVER been. And I think it’s worth noting that that is a pretty remarkable thing to be able to say. I am thankful for it. I have been more alive and more creative this past year than I have ever been before. And the quality of my work AND my life have risen to new heights. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: it’s a really exciting time to be me. And the opportunities on the horizon are absolutely TITILLATING. I would be jealous if I were you, but thankfully, I am me. ;-)


The Nickster said...

Pretty amazing, man. You're one of those who are awake. Most everyone else is fast asleep. What you describe isn't that unusual - you will often meet people who will chop off your legs to keep you down to where they are. Family and "friends" are very good at that. "It's okay to be yourself as long as you're like everybody else." Don't be surprised when that happens, when people cut you down because they're afraid that you might be better than they are.

That which is beautiful is that which is most perfectly itself - whatever it is. Part of becoming what you truly are is losing all those parts of yourself that you're not, which can be scary because you will soon find yourself walking alone where few have ever walked. You will be tempted to return to the mall and start shopping just like everyone else because it's lonely on the mountain.

I don't know why I feel this affinity for you. I wish I could have met you while I was in Bangkok. Maybe you remind me of myself such a long time ago now. Maybe it's because I'm a bit of a bitch and I'm tired of listening to people who have nothing to say and I tend to seek out people who are willing to say something, risk something, dare something, really put it out there, and that's what you do. Don't be surprised if that scares a lot of people. That only means you're onto something. And for all the people who get scared and walk away from you, you will find others who are awake and listening, who will seek you out and talk to you.

I don't know if it will be true for you, but it has been for me: for every mountain you climb, there's a very deep valley that lays beyond that must be crossed so you can get to the next mountain. You go up, then you go down, because the only way to get to that next level is to start at the bottom. A lot of people get to the top of a mountain and stay there, but some of us keep going because we just have to know what the view is going to be like on the next mountain. I can tell you it's ALWAYS worth the struggle to get up that mountain, but it also requires a tremendous effort and a lot of hard work.

The Nickster said...

"My family has always been my kryptonite." Couldn't have said it better. It shouldn't be that way, but it is, for many people. Nobody can kill your spirit like your family, especially if they're dysfunctional and abusive. Myself, I walked away and haven't been back and it's been almost 30 years. It's not much comfort, but some of the best artists/writers/poets come from very troubled backgrounds. It forces you to question a lot of things, and that questioning leads to a lot of discoveries (many of them quite painful) about the human condition. I don't think I would have succeeded in life if I hadn't had the overwhelming and desperate desire to get the hell away from those people, and to get as far away from those people - physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally - as I possibly could.

I'm not a Christian, but Jesus is a good example. "No prophet is accepted in his own county," the Bible says, and Jesus was not able to do anything in his hometown. And then, for loving people and exposing the hypocrisy of the priests, he got himself killed. Very symbolic of many things and a pretty accurate description of what can happen you go your own way. And then there are examples like Beethoven and Galileo, people way ahead of their time in a world that's not ready to understand them yet. We have the modern piano thanks to Beethoven, who started off with rinky dinky harpsichords that simply weren't up to his demands, that couldn't express what was in his mind. Piano makers had to work hard to make something that could withstand his furious playing. Must have been incredibly frustrating for him, trying to "work" with tools that just weren't up to the job. He could have taken the easy way and just accepted things as they were, but fortunately he did not. That, too, is very symbolic, in many ways, especially for social reformers who have a vision of what society could be like, but isn't. Do you accept the limitations or do you insist on something more?

Theron Kennedy said...

Have you ever read about the 8 circuits of consciousness? I know you probably haven't but its one of those things that I'm proud to say I have. I learn so much about me from reading. randomly, quite by accident I've activated all 8 circuits. I'm kind of like a baby on some but to activate them all is quite rare. I hope to be fully awake and functioning on all of them in this life. I mention all that to say I understand. I'm very happy to know you. I appreciate your heart for people and your talents. 2012 is your year. :) I still want to get that autograph.

KJ Ink said...

Mr. Kennedy...

I mention all that to say I understand. I'm very happy to know you. I appreciate your heart for people and your talents. 2012 is your year. :) ~ Dude! you're too cool. Thank you! No, I have not read about that, it sounds interesting and it sounds familiar to other things I know about. So it might be good for me to find out more about that take on things at some point. But what matters most is it WORKS for you. I believe there's a dozen different ways to get "there," and some ways are better than other, but so long as you're on the path, so long as you're aware and not hurting people along the way, then it's all good.

And yeah, I kinda would like to think 2012 is gonna be my year, certainly bigger than any other year before. It's crazy how much my world has been changing and is about to change. A year ago Theron, I performed publicly for the first time in 8 years man! And NOW Look at me! COME ALIVE MAN, COME ALIVE! that is me right now. And it feels great. And I'm stoked to find you in the process man. We are allies in the good fight. And it is good to be fighting and rhyming by your side. Peace!

Anonymous said...

Love The Alchemist! ^_^

KJ Ink said...

Nick, I think I'm just gonna email you my comments, it's pretty long. :)

sam villareal said...

that was amazing... everything beautiful! :-)

KJ Ink said...

Trust me, it takes beauty to see beauty. So you be beautiful too!