We're told social media is too happy, too idealistic, too sterilized from real life. We share triumphs, victories, achievements, celebrate and congratulate, but are we ever honest?
What about when it's hard? When it's too much? When you would do anything to get out the place where you are? Why doesn't that ever show up? Are we too afraid of appearing weak? Vulnerable? Of fishing for compliments? Support? Be brave. Courageous. How many of your virtual friends would you feel comfortable calling up when you're complete wreck, knowing that they'd stop what they're doing and rush to your aide? Two?
Depression is so hard to understand: Its causes, its symptoms, its lingering, its suffocation, its intricate interactions and interconnections with other disorders and mental health states.
Pick yourself up. Start again. Step by step. Just do a little. I want to scream.
The moments where nothing's okay and everything seems wrong and the task ahead is insurmountable. Not seems, is.
Right now I'm frustrated out of my mind. I've tried every avenue I can think of (that could be its own post - the amount of work I've put into different options and ways of moving past is absurd), including going back on medication for ADHD. And it's just. not. working. I'm just stuck. On Tuesday I was super productive and I worked for hours. Yesterday, I sat in the exact same place and did absolutely NOTHING. What changed? How was it different one day to the next? I literally want to stand up and shake myself and scream JUST WRITE. OPEN THE $#%& DOCUMENT AND JUST. WRITE.
I know that if I had that best friend, someone, anyone, stood here doing that exact thing it would just make me shrink even further into this pit of despair. So how do I win? How I get up? All it takes is one click, right? So what's stopping me? That space, that chasm, that vastness is mind-blowing and mind-numbing all in one. Fascinating and frightening. Not somewhere I want to be. Ever. And yet, somehow I do, because it's here that I could tease out reason and function, understanding, comprehension... then maybe I could defeat it easier in the future. I could just say 'pfft' and click.
When someone reaches out to support me, when the lifeline is there, I don't answer the call, I close the chat box. For years, I wailed about being so alone, about not having these people, and now they are here. So why don't I use them when they want only to help? Why do I persist in separation? How does that HELP? Something keeps me from taking that step, holds me back, pins me down, and that's the thing I don't understand.
I want to. But how do you begin taking apart and exploring something nebulous you don't even have a name for? How do you reach into that space and pluck something worth looking at? Science? Mysticism? Philosophy? Does ANY of that, this, even matter if I can't reach my stupid deadline?
We cry. We break. We fall. Then somewhere down the line we use powers and strengths we don't understand and can't name to get past and never talk about it again because it's been beaten, it's been vanquished. Overcome. Don't look back, look forward. Move on. Heal. Forgive and forget.
I don't like that.
Can we stop being perfect models and cookie-cutter images of pure joy, success, and happiness and start being a bit more real? I think that's a good place to start. Today is a down day for me. I'm having a rough go. I'm crying. I'm anxious, I'm worried. I'm stressed. More importantly, I want to SHARE that. I want to be seen: weak, fallible, that I'm not just happy, go-lucky, 24/7. I'm human. And to be human is to err, is it not?
Maybe take a minute and walk out of the department store display and come sit with me for a while on the curb, or in the dirt, and we can be weak and unhappy together. Human. I need a hospital right now, not a hotel. I don't want to hide my problems, I want to heal them. And if in doing so, I can help with yours too, even a fraction; I'd relish the company.
Let us be "willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light; Yea, and [be] willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things" (Mosiah 18:8-9)
I wasn't sure where to put this, so it's going here. Since I cut my hair and have been trying to slowly work my way back into the Ultimate world, I've decided I need to be more serious about some things. I want to be more dedicated. I want to try harder. I want to give more.
So in light of that I wrote up some daily goals today. Writing them down is the first step to doing them. Then I did them. They are lofty, and ambitious, and I'm sure that I will fail. Many times. But failure is part of the process of building success. You don't just throw a victory banner up and celebrate because you're already done. That would involve zero effort and zero growth. Next, I will keep them. Because change isn't about one day. It's about the long run, the habit, the permanent difference. It's time to get into a routine. And then stick it, over and over and over.
No, it's not January. And tomorrow isn't even July yet (but we're close). But here's to a new me. And a new chapter. And new goals.
-Physio Exercise Regimen (3 sets of 3x30 exercises, 3 times daily)
-Read at least 100 pages (or 2 hours)
-Write at least 5000 words (or 4 hours)
-Pushups (start with as many as possible, +10 daily)
-Crunches/situps (start with as many as possible, +10 daily)
Ready, set, achieve.
Journal Entry dated July 16, 1995*
Hi again, it's just another boring day in the life of David. So from now on we'll do stories to make things better. Well here goes nothing.
I'm Patrick and it's 11:00PM at night. I'm very tired but I can't sleep because my little brother won't stop sucking his thumb. I hate that SSUUCCKKing noise. Ah, finally he stopped now maybe I can get some sleep... zzzz, zzzzz.
Next Morning (A few hours later).
Hey! Pat get uupp! It's already 5:00AM. What!, I yelled as I sat up, only 5:00AM, Uh, Uh, I'm not getting up until 8:00 I said drearily as my once again shut. But, Pat we have to do paper }KLUNK! THUD were the last two things I heard before everything went black.
TO BE CONTINUED...
*Original punctuation and formatting preserved.
I was clearly meant to be a writer, right? Laughing so hard at myself right now. #TBT
First off - If you haven't read Ender's Game, do so. Second, after doing so, go see the movie. If you've done neither of those, probably don't read this.
Me writing about Ender is nothing new per se, but in some ways it is, so here we go again. Ender. Ender's Game. If you've forgotten the past, feel free to refresh yourself. This and this are my most important writings to date on Ender.
Ender and I have been an experience and journey like no other. Years we've been on this road, and now the movie adds a new layer to that. I -against all trepidations about doing so- went and saw it. I will note here (this could easily spiral out of control into its own rant-y diatribe, so I will not let it) my extreme dislike of Card as a person for his personal agenda/beliefs. His homophobia is rampant and very problematic. However, I must say that Ender is still one of the characters that hits closest to home for me -deeply, wholly, on ALL levels of who I am- and so I cannot discount that. He and his experience are incredibly sacred and valuable to me, even if his creator is less-than-ideal in my eyes. I finally figured out WHY Ender is so important to me, and why I feel so strongly about/for him. It's because I relate to him on a deeper level than anything I have ever experience with another human being. I may never relate this completely to anyone in real life. But with Ender I do. Asher Lev is the same way. The bond goes beyond the surface and takes it to something visceral, something I feel with every iota.
That said, this is about the movie adaptation of Ender's Game. The next piece of my journey with Ender. As stated, I was very nervous to see this. I have been less-than-impressed with quite a few book-to-movie adaptations in recent months. Most notably Hunger Games whose rant I don't ever seem to have finished (though I could have sworn I did...)
But the movie was not the let-down I was praying it would not be. Phew. Indeed, it plummeted me back to the same space that made me so agitated I had to pen my thoughts on the vomit bag in an airplane because I had nothing else, and it needed out of me. Tonight I was to attend the farewell party of a friend moving to Ghana. I stopped by and said hello, and then exited myself to the side politely. I told a few people what was up. I am in that space. Ender does this me. Whether Ender's Game, Ender's Shadow or, now, the movie - I am driven by something in my soul to put words on paper and make sense of these thoughts and emotions swirling inside me, pulling and pushing in so many different directions.
I liked the movie way more than I was expecting to, which I was glad for. I must say, up front, that had I not read the book my experience and understanding of the movie would have been totally different. I touched on this sort of bias/expectations previously in my post on Ender's Game the book. Without book knowledge, much of the movie would have been confusing, or dare I say shallow. Hollywood uses sweeping brush strokes that gloss over the nuances and depths that make books the better half. skipped SO SO SO much in the movie. Like Peter, for example. He was in the movie 1 scene. Maybe a minute of screen time. But he's such a pivotal part of who Ender is and how he got that way. Same with Valentine, though she appeared a little more. The book greatly enhanced my viewing experience because I had the background, I had the knowledge that related to these characters and who they were that wasn't going to make the movie's final cut. I have to say one of my biggest complaints about the movie was the fabricated love story between Petra and Ender. She's the one girl in battle school with a name, and let's have her head-over-heels in love for Ender in the movie. That's not how I remember the book. Kind of lame. I also didn't like the portrayal of Bean, which I feel is a pivotal, crucial, role... but that bothered me less than The Petra thing.
The movie did alot of things right. I feel like the movie in many aspects enhanced my experience of the book, and I was glad for that. Asa Butterfield was 100% the correct pick for Ender. Graff and Anderson were well cast also. The movie was almost 2 hours, but I think they did okay; especially if you come to the table with the book behind you. They missed A LOT, but I don't think 3 movies like the current Hobbit debacle would have been appropriate either. Asa did great as Ender and I felt for him many times. I cried in the movie, like I was hoping I would. That means they got it right. They connected to me in the right places, the right way. But I feel like they failed to convey the sense of aloneness and isolation that made Ender. Of just how incredibly stacked everything was against him, and how he would not be broken, even when he was completely, utterly, alone. So alone. I had that from the book though and mapped it onto the events on the screen, and it ended up okay. That's part of why the whole Petra thing was so annoying to me. The book made it clear that though he gained respect, Ender never really gained friends. That was a luxury he couldn't afford, and Graff made sure of it. I did find myself wishing that the book were a little fresher in my mind, but I was worried because I knew the movie is on its way out of theaters, and if I was going to see it, I needed it to be on the big screen. So it had to happen now. I just didn't have the time to revisit the book.
But the main message got across. I was absolutely bawling, yet acutely aware of my skewed viewing experience as Ender took his "graduation exam." With the book as my foundation, I was omniscient where he was not. I knew what was happening, even when he did not. The lives being lost, the ships being abandoned, I was crying, crying, crying. And then the moment came where he would be broken, and I sobbed along with him. "I just killed an entire species." The crushing, crushing weight of that genocide. They made you, Ender. They built you, and you fought, and you tried the best that you could with the knowledge you had been given. You won their war. At great, great cost. I actually really liked the ending of the movie. I remember the book ending with the Formic War, not him finding the queen, and vowing to find them a new home, but maybe that was in the book too. I really liked how it was executed in the movie.
It's so interesting to me how I have changed and grown and am in such a different place than I was when I wrote my previous Ender thoughts. Yet, deep down, I still resonate on such a level with Ender. I connect with him in a way that I cannot explain. Him and Asher Lev. I am not the broken, hopeless, totally alone, peaceless youth I once was. I have ended the largest, worst, most pervasive battle for peace I have ever fought. The one inside me, with my warring halves. I have reached the place where Asher Lev is free. I am there. But I remember. And I can still feel the past, even if it doesn't define me anymore.
I remember the pain, the loneliness, the fear, the empty. I have not forgotten and I will not. And thus I still feel Ender. Not just for him, but him. I feel Ender. I feel Asher. And this is part of what drives me to know that I am on the right track. I must write. I must create. I must share. This kind of human-ness on the page is so real, it's terrifying. I must try and do the same. I've talked about that before in my previous Ender posts. It's so real, it hurts. The movie got that. That's why I cried. Shaking, crying. I am looking in the mirror, and it hurts. He hurts. I hurt. We hurt. And yet still, even after all that... After 10,000 deaths Ender presses on. His humanity is played out perfectly in the movie. Graff curses him as Ender questions what they were waiting for, saying what you were going to do, start a dialog? Ender has stopped all future battles, but in doing so, has revealed humanity's own ugly nature. The nature that is instinctual in him, but that he is trying to distance himself from. The violence. Peter. I omitted some lines from my initial write-up from the throw-up bag. I don't know why now I chose to do so at the time. I wasn't hiding anything. I went back to the bag (of course I still have it) and revisited those cut lines and found one I regret not having included the first time:
Ender captures the notion [of decency], but there is no indication he ever achieves it. "I don't want to beat Peter." "Then what do you want?" "I want him to love me." All I want is for people to love me. So why does Ender play so perfectly to me? Because he is so human? Yet where is his redemption? The knowledge that he can bring back what he unwittingly obliterated?
An interesting emphasis on love that I previously omitted. This now coupled with the emphasis the movie gave from its very first seconds with the opening quote:
“In the moment when I truly understand my enemy, understand him well enough to defeat him, then in that very moment I also love him.” – A.E. Wiggin
I want to be loved so deeply that I am totally and wholly vulnerable to the point of someone being able to absolutely and completely destroy me. And yet, they do not or will not - for love overcomes the need to destroy. That is where true victory is achieved. This is what Ender boils down to for me when you strip everything away and leave only that single element. That level of love and understanding is something I have achieved with Ender and Asher. In reality, I love and I give of myself to gain that power over people. Some I regrettably have destroyed or attacked in moments of anger, rage, or discomfort. But others I cherish and protect and would give my life for in an instant. This force drives me at my core, surrounded by the loneliness of my past.
Ender's isolation and manipulation are severely undercut in the movie, and much of battle school is left out. I would have loved to have seen way more of the Battle Room. Not to mention the moral complexities that arise when using children to engage in war. That's barely even touched on at all. Also downplayed is what is intended in the book to be rife food-for-thought on the dynamics of empathy and vulnerability, and instead the movie offers us only the line I already mentioned where Ender confronts Graff, denouncing the "ends justify the means" methodology just used to win a war and commit genocide. Ender is now tasked with the stark reality that he has just annihilated an entire species of sentient beings -not to mention the lives he unknowingly sacrificed when he abandoned the majority of the fleet- who had just as much right to life as humans do.
I think though that when you consider how internal and inside-Ender-driven the plot is of the original book, many good things have come from this movie adaptation. It is worthy of its place, and I accept it as a fitting supplemental experience to my enjoyment of the book. I would not replace it, and I sure as hell hope this movie is not the attempted beginning of a franchise, but on its own, Ender's Game the movie is not as bad as I expected, and thus I came away pleasantly pleased.
It definitely dredged up all the questions I'd mulled on previously, and took me back to the place of balancing empathy and vulnerability without costing humanity, even if the movie did not explicitly do so. It was fulfilling to watch, and I appreciated being able to revisit the world of Ender, even if for me it comes addled with so much alienation and loneliness. But this, I think, in many ways allows Ender to be even more of a redemptive character, especially with the way the movie ending was framed. I appreciate Ender in new ways from my new point in life and perspective and am glad for him to have been such an impactful, insightful part of my journey toward better understanding myself, the human condition, and this crazy construct we call love.
In the end my desire, and Ender's, remain the same. No matter the bruises, bumps, or attacks, we seek only love. Even when the cost of giving that love is at great expense to ourselves, we will give. And give freely.
To recap, the movie is well done for the most part. If you accept it as a supplemental experience enhancing your view and understanding of the book, then it is well worth your time and money. So read the book. Then see the movie. And love. Love fiercely and wholly, even when everything is stacked against you or you feel alone beyond all reason.
A good friend of mine made a facebook post on December 5th, asking people's opinions on two questions. She specifically tagged me, asking my thoughts. I had to mull on it for a while, but I felt like my thoughts were important enough that I didn't want to share with just her.
I've discoursed before on bullying in other forums, including my experience when she invited to go visit the kids in detention with her. Knowing that she's going to weigh heavily my response and have it help shape her discourse with them made me feel like these next words would be even more important.
The questions to consider
#1-- What is the difference between "unique" and "odd"?
#2-- What makes someone an "original" or a "freak"?
Alot of people gave the standard, sort of knee-jerk reaction answers. Two of the words are how we define ourselves and help build us up, while the others are negatives other label us with to tear us down. That sort of thing.
But I disagree. Like, almost completely. It's not that simple. I wasn't vocal about it either, because she's one of the few people who remains in my life from a more conservative background than I can generally stand to associate with. So I wasn't sure how her friend-base would take to my truths. In short, I was scared to have a different opinion. I didn't want to be "odd." Not their label, but my own perception of them and how they would label. Those are different in nuanced ways.
I'm getting away from myself before I've even started. Stop. Step back.
Let's start with question one. Difference between two words. I'd have to argue that the difference is that the words practically aren't even related. Unique and odd don't even fall along the same parallel in my mind.
Miriam Webster defines UNIQUE as "very special or unusual" and "belonging to or connected with only one particular thing, place, or person." Furthermore, it states "being the only one" and "being without a like or equal." "Unique." Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 11 Dec. 2013.
ODD is defined as "strange or unusual," "different from what is normal or expected," and "happening in a way that is not planned or regular." Additionally, "being without a corresponding mate" or "differing markedly from the usual or ordinary or accepted." "Odd." Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 11 Dec. 2013.
Let's break it down. To me these words are very, very disparate. Unique to me denotes something singular, almost anomalous. There is no replica, no duplicate, nothing like it. Unique stands on its own, apart. Odd reflects un-same, but it still ties to the greater whole. It relates, it can be measured against something else, it still has place, even if that place is apart. There can be more than odd. People can be odd in the exact same way. This isn't attainable with uniqueness. Once you achieve any level of sameness in the realm of unique, the realm has been lost. The landscape has morphed and changed, and unique has broken.
That said, labels are not mutually exclusive. I could have an entire other super long deconstruction post on labels, but I won't for the sake of brevity and focus. I acknowledge that there is some overlap. I'm not saying these are completely, wholly unrelatable terms. Just that the relation is not as strong as many people make it out to be. You can push the boundaries of odd until it becomes unique, but there's a point where once you've transcended to unique, you have to abandon odd. They can't exist at the same time. I don't know that I can illustrate just where that point is, but it is.
I also don't think it's relevant to delve into the attachment of values to these words. Yes, most people see unique as a positive, but what about those of us who that being unique creates an uncrossable chasm of separation from everyone else? And so it isolates and hurts us more than it helps? That's a pretty lonely way to look at unique. And most people would call odd a negative, but what about those who see "odd" in a different light as something that sets them apart, keeps them with but away from the masses, and thus take strength from embracing the label? Some of my oddities are my favorite qualities about myself.
The second question to me hinges on the word "makes." What makes... warrants a foray into definition, perception, self-labeling, and group-labeling. I don't know that I have the time and energy to go deep into all that. It can get messy, and philosophical, and aporetic very quickly. Yup, cop-out. So let's stick to the words themselves for now. Original is is understood as "[A] document, film, painting, etc., which is created by someone and from which a copy or translation is made" and "a person who is different from other people in an appealing or interesting way." Likewise, "a person of fresh initiative or inventive capacity." "Original." Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 12 Dec. 2013.
Most of the responders to my friend squashed original and unique into an impossible box of co-existence. Original much more closely relates to odd than it does to unique. Original denotes a copy has been formed from it. Original is comparative in nature, just like odd. It is separate, but relatable to the whole. Again, it cannot occupy the same space as unique, just like odd couldn't. Because of their inherent ties to others, they annihilate the possibility of the existence of uniqueness.
Freak is characterized as "a sudden and odd or seemingly pointless idea or turn of the mind," "a seemingly capricious action or event." Also, "archaic: a whimsical quality or disposition" and "one that is markedly unusual or abnormal." "Freak." Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 12 Dec. 2013.
I think really there are myriad reasons and arguments that can be applied to these terms to shade them one way or another. And really, when you throw them all in a pot and boil away everything, that shading is the only thing that remains. I guess we're having the conversation anyway, though I'll keep it brief. Making is an action word, it involves doing, energy, effort. What makes someone these things is action. From themselves or someone else. These words are all lifeless and unimportant until we pick them up and start to paint with them. We can color them with our emotions, biases, and experiences. We can paint ourselves and we can paint others. But in the end, that's what it will always come back to. These terms can be fluid, argued, attached and discarded like fashionable or horrific accessories.
When I went to detention with her before, the lesson was all about showing them they could be in charge of what labels stuck to them and which ones didn't. These words are no different. Words have power, and so do we. To accept, to mold, to change, to heal, to hurt. Power is all around us. We can imbue words with that power, or we can choose to let them bounce off us like harmless drops of water. When you take a step back from language, the way we use it, the ways others use it, and trace back the power there to the wall plug, we find only one thing driving all our interactions, classifications, and understandings.
If you want to use those words to empower yourself, by all means do so. Thrive and prosper. Be odd, be a freak, but be great while you are. If you use them to hurt yourself, tear yourself down, or as self-torture, you should stop. You should seek help. You should find a way to move past that. There's enough already out there that will try and smash you to dust... you don't need to help the process along. If you find yourself using these terms to hurt others, or build yourself up by separating them out and holding them beneath you, you need to stop. You're damaging. And you're part of a larger problem. Flippancy and thoughtlessness are rampant, and the use of words in this way are some of the dark heart of bullying. When I didn't know how to protect myself, I came away bloodied and bruised. I can't even count how many times. I was surprised when after seeing the documentary "BULLY" with friends how unlike their experiences that movie had been. I was shocked actually. Because that was my reality, and my normal. Whenever someone else uses chooses to use their power to make their words weapons, often to try and tear you down in a feeble attempt to bolster themselves, I admonish you to hold fast to the words of David Brinkley:
A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him.
Bullying is difficult, terrible, and exacts a toll. But you can move past, move up, and find strength in broken places.
Having lived in broken spaces, imprisoned in cages built by other people's words and perceptions painted onto me for many years, I now try and live in a way that is as embracing as possible of all terms and language, underlining them with the intent and power of building, helping, and healing. Really, I just try not to get hung up on labels at all. I'd sooner just wash away all the labels that get thrown at me and just BE.
Define me with all your words
Then find me a lesson to be learned
Try to brand me or burn me and I won't let it hurt me
Define me as what I am
Then try me as just a simple man
I’m no harm to you, I’m just doing the best I can
And if I’m defined by what I do
Then what am I supposed to call you
The shadow of a broken past you abused
And if I can stand on my two feet
I’ll break the wall where we will meet
I’ll document our combination for you
We’re starting this party tonight
Where people will be undefined
And love who they want, when the judgment is done
And won’t have to hide
We’re starting this party right now
Where people can shake off their doubts
And send out their love as it moves through the crowd
And people can shout
That they love a man
Or they love a woman
And no one will be judged for love
And I can’t be judged for who I am
Define me with broad clichés
But I won’t undergo any hate for a stranger’s mistakes
I’ve struggled through the boundaries of society’s needs
And now I’m not trying to please
Define me as God’s child
I am human and we’re all in the wild
This Earth is as much mine as yours in the end
So let’s unite as friends
But if I can lie in nature’s bed
Without the roses killing me dead
I think the Earth has got a point
And we’re a moving joint
And if I can say my prayers at night
I think I’m doing something right
Let’s open up a song of safety
And carry through the night
We’re starting this party tonight
Where people will be undefined
And love who they want, when the judgment is done
And won’t have to hide
We’re starting this party right here
Where people will shake off fears
And mass tolerance is replaced with resistance
And everyone cheers
That they love a man
Or they love a woman
And no one will be judged for love
And I can’t be judged for who I am
SADS Foundation - By supporting the SADS Foundation, you are helping save young lives. Your generous contribution supports the mission of supporting the families and saving the lives of those affected by SADS conditions.
Your financial contribution to the SADS Foundation supports awareness, medical education, family support, and directing public policy.
House of Hope - Our mission is to provide addiction recovery, and behavioral health services that help reclaim and rebuild lives, strengthen families, instill accountability, and promote personal growth.