Let’s be frank. I haven’t written as much as I’ve promised and it’s been almost more than a year since this blog was started, since that wild life-changing odyssey was over, that I’ve been home ever since. Sometimes I do manage to write, small bits and pieces of insight here and there, but the truth is I don’t think I’ll ever manage to write *everything* down per say. I don’t think I would even if I could.
That’s selfish of me to say, I know, but sometimes in life there are moments in which are best left private. It’s not that I’m ashamed of my memories or experiences – Gods no, I’ve spent a good portion of the year answering the never-ending streams of questions about the things I’ve done, the things I’ve yet to do. Admittedly a part of me relishes this fuel to my ego, the prestige, the reputation, all the benefits of becoming a small-time celebrity amongst my peers. The drinks, the phone numbers, and all the opportunities that come with the titles and gossip that follows.
But to those of you who know me in person, let alone some of my readers, you’d probably understand that all this is part of the great conflict that I deal with constantly. I’ve become more a recluse than I was before, so much that I avoid people on general principle – not because of anxiety or because of fear, but because like anyone that’s ever embarked on something that’s anywhere as profound as a life-changing experience, the world becomes a different place.
For every writer, every storyteller, comes the realization of the delicate balance between fact and fiction, between fantasy and reality, a truth and a lie. Every good story has some form of exaggeration or a stretch of truth, but sometimes in life a person must be as brutally honest as they can not just to their audience but mainly towards themselves.
This blog, this memoir, and every little piece of excerpt and writing I’ve produced has been the product of a greater conflict than the road has ever conjured. It’s no longer an issue about check out times, politeness, or catching the next bus out of a state or province. It’s the issue between recognizing the person I was before and the person I’ve become ever since. Most importantly it’s also been about coming to terms with all that and managing to live with it.
One could argue that this type of self-reflection is not uncommon especially with the course of age. It’s a sign of maturity to some, a mark of integrity to others. It’s rare, I think, especially in this day and age when one can be surrounded by the issues of the day-to-day. Family. Friends. Work. Education. Paying taxes. Good credit. The same mundane things that shoved me out the door with a bag of sex toys and a desire to leave it all behind.
Truth? I don’t deal with these things. Maybe it’s because of something I’ve got called savings, maybe it’s avoiding responsibility as any other young adult in their late twenties – whatever the reasons, I just don’t have to deal with the same worries as the other person. It’s not that I’m not aware of these things, Gods no, I’m not that delusional.
Personally it’s walking a fine line between allowing those memories and their messages to be shared as they were meant to be, passed onto me that is, rather than make them a selfish one. It’s one thing to become absorbed into the fabric of our own experiences. Still I refuse to believe that anyone can be as selfish about such things. It’s quite something else to share them with others, I mean hell, it brings the world right around the campfire so to speak.
So what’s the world been like in my eyes? What’s the world been like in the eyes of some wandering vagrant, some free spirit, a flag bearer?
The world’s more bleak and dreary than it’s ever been before, at least once I came to terms with the inevitable return to the mundane side of things. You can hardly blame me for being cynical – going from some wild adventure of self-discovery, surrounded by compassion and wisdom from deviants of all shapes and sizes (literal or otherwise, for those of you who are dirty-minded) to the seemingly endless chaos of world affairs.
In my eyes, we’re living in an age that has no longer become as black and white as it was before. Everywhere there’s a realization and a drive for understanding, for tolerance, and in the course of this pursuit an indefinite cascade of conflicts by those who are – on the bottom line – on the same fucking side.
There’s gay marriage, yes, and that’s more cause to celebrate than ever before in the United States (For those of you from Salt Lake City, here’s looking at you) but likewise that barely scratches the top of an enormous amount of issues still to be addressed. Homeless LGBTQ (and whichever applicable terms may further apply) youth and adults. Transgendered rights. Anti-Equality laws disguised as religious bills and issues. The so-called ‘Gay Agenda’ that threatens widespread heterophobia and whatnot.
If not that, there’s the constant political correctness in the air. A man’s t-shirt causes an international avalanche of sex objectification from even the same people who advocate slut-walks and anti-body shaming. Oh, by the by, it’s perfectly normal that some big-wig celebrity flashes her ass on the cover of every magazine as this argument unfolds.
Religious bigotry and intolerant discriminating individuals hiding behind a mantle of ‘pro-discrimination’ from outside critics. Why yes, how dare you answer my fist with your nose? The fact there’s repeals going on over the issue of religious ‘equality’ in the form of anti-gay practices makes my blood fucking boil.
The happiest man decided to kill himself over depression and there’s such a mad disrespect for the departed over some self-righteous push for one platform or another that his own daughter goes into hiding. Gaza burns into the ground in an act of genocide while the rest of us punch in the 9-5 shifts and look forward to the weekend.
Freedom of media threatened by some psychotic cult-of-personality nation in the far side of the globe. Russian homosexuals being dragged out and bludgeoned on the streets. Democracy threatened in post-Britain Hong Kong. Some extremist group emerging from the hell mouth of Mordor and pushing forward a new era of terror and backwards mayhem. A murderous misogynistic and disillusioned young man goes on a woman-killing rampage and somehow becomes a hero in the eyes of every other reject and broken heart.
Beyond that, there’s war and rape and torture and human rights violations being brought to light about as frequently as the next media-circus celebrity scandal or cultural fad. Everywhere it seems people’s attention span has dwindled to the point of some hyperactive adolescent.
There’s unemployment, pension cuts, tax raises, and all the boatload of mundane issues – friends and family come and go, children born and parents die.
Don’t even get me started about the movie they’re releasing next year that virtually brings to life every violation of trust, respect, and consent within the scene. I’ll need at least three packs of cigarettes for every horror story that pops out from anyone that attempts to recreate the things that the Book That Shall Not Be Named depicts.
Now, knowing all this, knowing that this is an age where conflict is everywhere and more so than every other decade in the past; knowing that every investment a risk, every degree a gamble, and every direction an uncertain future – clearly the return to the mundane has little to no appeal for me.
I refuse to dismiss experiences that breathe light into an otherwise dark existence. I refuse to go silently into the night with the very things that make this world worth fighting for.
That part of me I mentioned earlier? There’s a term for that.
It’s called animus.
Spirit. Passion. Youth. The motivation to do something. Amor Fati – Not to merely accept but embrace all things which it pertains.
I learned this year there are some matters in life that aren’t unique to the road alone. There are some things in life which may be considered private but aren’t always unique to the individual. It’s a core part of human nature, something that’s entirely irrefutable. That part of me, beneath all the cynicism and worry, all the fears of tomorrow, lingers a year, two years, a decade since the end of my adventure.
That’s that sees beneath all the interpersonal dramas, the insecurities, the divide in belief, the arguments online and offline, the contempt and the animosity, all the mistakes and regrets, the goodness within each and every individual. The part that never once stopped believing in hope for others, not even when I was at my worst, not even beneath all the psychotic state of modern affairs.
You could call me naive or whatever term that is most suitable. I’ve felt a kind of love that should never be traded for anything and most importantly, never left to be forgotten or replaced. A kind of love that should never be ignored. That’s the part that brings this absolute feeling of glee – wild, insane, and depraved – even before the madness of the world itself.
It’s the part of me that repeats: We’re still here.
I’ll scream it at you if I have to and until my voice cracks, take five to sip water, and do it all over again. That between your right to keep fucking fighting and surviving, for whatever reasons you want, that you’re still worth a damn even if we’re no longer friends I’ll do it all the same.
Each of us that deviates from the rest of ‘normal’ standards, away from expectations, and answers only to the things that reach down and captivate us the most. It’s not the kind of realization that comes from putting needles or hooks into our skin. It’s not from melt-a-hole-on-the-floor sex or romance. It’s that unspoken and often private discovery of trust, respect, in a world seemingly driven by apathy.
They can take from you everything you hold dear – destiny will rot and decay every foundation a person builds, rob them of their loved ones, and leave them alone to wither in an open grave but passion? Love? Hope? These things must never be taken from anyone, not even if the rest of the world threatens to devour them.
It’s that little part on that weathered flag of black and blue, that small corner shape of a big tacky red heart, that pulsates with a different kind of living energy – the kind that is held not with pride from vanity, not from material worth, but a deep and utterly human emotion. The kind that nothing, not even before the madness drowns it from the outside, could be take away.
I know some things though.
I know I’ll sooner be damned than forsake the very things that I’ve sworn to uphold in this tiny seemingly meaningless flag I fly. I know there are things worth fighting for in an insane day and age. I know that for all the histories and stories, all the lessons learned, there’s still a story to tell – the kind of story that somehow makes sense. I know that beyond that there will be a great many more conflicts and with each realization this flag becomes a heavier one.
I know in this crazy fucked up world of ours, despite all the labels and the blaming and the shaming, that if people like ‘us’ are still as readily capable of that simple belief then there’s hope for everyone yet.
I know that for all the regret and sorrows, all the failures, that you’re not the type of person who would be selfish to ignore these realities – not selfish enough to accept the lie of being perfect, and that being the little deviant that you are that’s reason enough to raise hell, fight back, and go out with a bang.
I’ll see you all as the ramparts fall and together spit the venom back with the same fury that took me across a continent, calling you over and over, even as I take the plunge for the other shore.
See you next year, you dirty perverts.
“The Flag Still Stands”