Zuihitsu #35

Isn’t there something wrong here?

Many things, actually. It’s not hard to see. There will always be things that are wrong – our lives will never be perfect. But that fact shouldn’t deter us from trying to fix the wrong things and make them right.

For one thing,
Aren’t people too impatient?
They are too easy to push to the edge
Too easy to get them yelling
As if they have no time
As if they can’t conceive of the possibility
that those around them might be human…
But then,
is it so hard to realize a person’s humanity?
is it so hard to project into another person’s life?
once we realize our inevitable deaths,
don’t we then really have all the time in the world?

Impatience is something I see no good use for.
And I don’t think it’s so very hard to overcome.
Just use that brain of yours,
and go on living.

Zuihitsu #6

Humans, I think, seem to have an innate desire to simplify, and to simplify too much.

Liberal or conservative
Male or female
Black or white
Gay or straight
Catholic or atheist —
Good or bad
Worthy or unworthy
Happy or sad —
Love or hate.

There are too many to name.

We reduce immensely complex feelings and thoughts to only a few words
We push those words onto a categorical binary —
Then we worship it;
And condemn any who do not seem to fit,
Or who fall on the wrong side of the line.

My political views cannot be reduced to a word.
Not all liberals or conservatives think alike;
What is the purpose of this all?
For now we promote doctrines on shaky grounds,
Like a house without a foundation,
Rejecting one’s ideas simply because “You are not
In the same party as I” —
And to what end?
How are we to progress?

You may look at me and term me female,
And perhaps it is true that I am —
But since I was young,
I display “male-type behaviors”
And reject the female —
What say you now?
Stop and think.
My behaviors cannot be reduced to a word.
They cannot be categorized —
They do not dictate my gender or my sex —
So why do you care?
Why do I care?

And what of love?
You say I love you
To your father
To your sister
To your friend
To your lover —
Do you really presume to say
That every feeling is the same?
Love is a category
Not any one feeling.
So why is it that you judge
When I turn to a friend and tell him I love him
Or to a cousin?

Why do you assume?
Why do you care, if it does not involve you?

A person cannot be reduced
To good or bad
To worthy or unworthy
To sinful or pure
To anything.
So why do we insist?
Can we not believe in each other
Simply as we are?

But that, too —
That is a form of simplification in its own right;
Is it yet impossible to break free?
Are humans innately unable to comprehend the world
Without reducing the whole to some of its parts
And losing all the significant intricacies in the process?

Zuihitsu #4

Even in the dead of night I know that I am not alone. Across time and space, memories always keep me company.

For instance, the memory of a brief but eternal plane ride, the one that set the gears in motion for us to become closer than we’ve ever been. The plane ride that led to the great bridge, to the two of us standing together at the water’s edge, to the terrifyingly vulnerable confession, and everything after.

That’s a good one.

Or the memory of her face that night, flooded with genuine surprise and delight and embarrassment all at once. It takes on a soft, pensive look as four hands run over the piano keys in the background. For a moment it almost overflows with love, but it doesn’t, because love can’t overflow – it builds, expands, acting as its own container, its own master, the pace of its growth only restrained by the being it fills, but always on an endless journey towards infinity.

That’s another good one.

Sometimes, I am kept company by other people’s memories rather than my own. The memory of a broken childhood, of parents angry or never there, of social harassment and tears and pain and rage and above all a single, desperate, unspoken question, still perhaps unanswered, a question that a human being shouldn’t even have to ask.

This memory is not mine, but it may as well be, because when I lay awake at night this memory comes to me with the same depth of emotion as my own.

Memories are strange. They can evoke happiness, or suffering, or a million other indescribable things. They are not always reliable – they can change, become corrupted, or lost into the vast reaches of the universe, to be recovered someday, or not. They can be shared, or kept hidden, or they may be public in the first place. But in any case, it is memory that sustains life.

After all, memory keeps dead people alive, and it keeps living people alive along with them.

And which one am I?

Does it matter, in the end?

Zuihitsu #3

Someday, you will be happy.

Someday you’ll live in a world where you are valued. A world where every person, every book, every movie, screams out I love you, a world that affirms your very existence, your right to life as a human being. A world of freedom and peace, a world where the sun shines bright and never goes down. A world where the curtain never falls. Where darkness is something unknown to man.

Someday you’ll live in a world where you don’t need me. A world where you don’t have to call me in the middle of the night crying. A world where you don’t have to silence yourself, restrain yourself to just looking at me with pleading eyes, hoping I’ll see your pain. A world where you don’t have to lie awake at night trying to understand… why. Why you exist. Why you suffer. Why nobody seems to care.

Someday you’ll live in a world where you are not alone. A world where you are surrounded by dozens, hundreds, millions of people who love you unconditionally. A world where you are understood, accepted, invited in with open arms. A world where you can talk freely, act freely, where you can put down your facade, your safety net, your wall. A world where you can simply be you.

Such a world doesn’t exist. I know that. I’m not naive. But hope doesn’t have to come from a place of innocence.

Sometimes, hope comes from a place of love.

And sometimes, hope is just hope. It doesn’t have to get any more complicated than that.

Zuihitsu #34

How many are left?

This is a loaded question –
Perhaps you don’t want to ask it,
Perhaps you don’t want to answer –
But there is so little time…
We must face it now.

So I ask –
How many generations are left?

How many years do we still have on this earth?

How many more children will be born –
And how many more children will die,
In school shootings and genocide,
After how many more promises and prayers,
How many more “we shall never forget”s?

How many living beings are left on the planet?
How many have we killed out of ignorance and selfishness,
And how many are left for us to kill – or save?
How many people still think we have the right?

How many tragedies are left before the end of the world?
How many more wars and fights and meaningless arguments,
How many people still must die?
And then, how many more times will killers try to justify their acts –
And how many more times will we accept?

We must ask these questions now,
While we are still here –
While we still have the capacity to change our answers…
Time is running out...

Zuihitsu #33

We spend our lives
Trying to be true to our hearts
Trying to be ourselves
Trying to not let our thoughts and actions
Be influenced by someone else –
And yet isn’t it a fact of life
That we all influence each other?

We spend our lives
Trying not to put on a facade
Trying to be genuine
Trying to stop playing a social role
As in a movie or theater –
And yet isn’t it true
That there are some roles we cannot live without?

We spend our lives
Pursuing the meaning of our existence
Searching for humanity’s true nature
Agonizing over our purpose here on this earth
So that we can truly learn how to live –
And yet isn’t it often overlooked
That we should also know how to die?

Open your heart, I say –
Accept all the things that come to you
All the feelings
All the actions
All the thoughts
However contradictory they may be;
Bring them into balance,
Return them to the world around you,
And just live.

Zuihitsu #32

A world – ravaged by fire and flood,
Filled with man-made toxins,
Destroyed by storms and acid rain.

A world – without natural wonders,
Without a single green forest to walk in,
Without a single white waterfall to breathe under.

A world – without the millions of creatures
That used to call it home,
Creatures of every color and size and shape.

A world – torn apart by poverty and failure,
Where only the rich can afford what little there is left,
Where violence is used to ensure survival.

A world – destroyed at the hands of man,
Ruined by our greed and arrogance,
By the tragic flaws of humanity.

This is not a world in which I want to live,
And it is not a world our innocent children deserve.
So why do parents, adults, fail to do anything about it?

To the older generations I say:
You do not own this world.
You are borrowing it – from us.

Zuihitsu #31

Sometimes I dream of a world without lies.

I dream of a world in which the very thought of telling something other than the truth would never cross a person’s mind, because I am tired of meaningless lies used to fuel meaningless hatred, I am tired of empty denial that only ever leads to filling that emptiness with man-made tragedy.

And yet … 

And yet I know I can’t dream of such a world, because a world without lies is also a world without imagination, because the ability to tell something other than the truth is tied to the ability to transcend the very thought of what is real.

And I know I can’t live in a world without imagination. It might very well be worse than a world with lies.

And so I hold in one hand the power to tell a lie, and I hold in the other the power to imagine, and I close my eyes and I accept them both – however painful and infuriating that may be.

Zuihitsu #30

I’m not weak.

I’m not weak, even though I weigh forty pounds below the average for my age.

I’m not weak, even though I was always sick as a child.

I’m not weak, even though I have a bad shoulder.

I’m not weak, even though I’ve never been able to run a mile under ten minutes.

I’m not weak, even though I am biologically female.

I’m not weak, even though I throw up and nearly pass out every month.

I’m not weak, even though I’ve been depressed and suicidal.

I am a complex, living, breathing human being.

You cannot jump on these facets of my identity to call me weak –

So don’t.

Zuihitsu #29

I am tired of standing between other people and death.

I am tired of saying, “If you need me anytime, just give me a call.” Because when they call, I am tired of saying, “Please don’t kill yourself today.”

I am tired of staring people in the eyes, hoping I will see them the next day because there is no guarantee my words will carry them through the storm – no guarantee because nothing can guarantee life, and yet…

Promise me I will see you tomorrow, I said.

They smiled, nodded through their tears. They promised.

They promised. Tomorrow came, and they weren’t there, and I…

I am tired.

But what else, what more can I do?

Nobody wants to stand where I stand, but someone has to. We need people here, at the edge of the cliff, people who can create a safety net to catch those who are about to fall –

And sure, the net breaks sometimes. Sometimes the net itself needs saving. But we need it to be there in the first place.

Now more than ever, we need to look out for each other. We have to take care of one another.

Because who among us is strong enough to continue alone?