Saturday Morning Musing

Ever since the flooding in the Madison area happened, I’ve started to regard thunderstorms and rain storms as actual storms rather than a simple minor shift in weather conditions. I used to enjoy sitting on my porch during storms, drinking a beer or just watching the rain fall. Now I can’t really shake the feeling that I’m looking at one of the first steps required to create a natural disaster. I used to take comfort in rain but now I spend most of the storm wondering if this is going to be enough rain to flood again or if the slow but steady rain over several days is going to make the lakes and rivers around here rise even more. I’m not in any danger, thankfully, but tons of people who live near me are in danger, as are a bunch of people I know.

Storms were once incredibly dangerous weather phenomena because they could knock over buildings, wash away months or years of hard work, and easily ruin the lives of people who were in their path. As humans developed into what we are now, we learned to set up our lives in such a way that it would mitigate the dangers of a storm. Things like better building techniques, irrigation, mechanical pumps, and stuff like gutters or cisterns or aqueducts are all things we’ve developed or learned to use as part of our adaption to storms. Most of them were meant to make it more likely that we’d survive the storms or to prevent the storms from wrecking our things, but some of them were things we built to make the storms work for us. Humanity, ever-adapting, learned to be able to thrive in an environment where chunks of ice, huge globs of water, and the occasional bolt of electricity are fairly frequent over the course of a year.

We got used to the storms and nature’s wrath expressed through earthquakes, giant storms, hurricanes, tornadoes, and lava spewing out of giant rocks on the horizon. We learned to adapt and to build our homes in a way that would leave them somewhat more likely to survive the same disaster again. We refused to move away from places we’d adopted as our homes and determined we would master our environment. No amount of flooding, storming, hurricaning, or erupting would stop us from living where we wanted. For a while, that even worked. We built giant walls to keep the water where we wanted it, with complicated doors and windows so we could control where the water went once it was gathered up. We learned how to make big, strong buildings that would not only stay upright in an earthquake, but protect the people inside them. We learned how to predict eruptions and what to do when they started in order to save as much of our community as possible. We figure out how to predict the worst of the storms and then communicated to people that they needed to hide in specially designed shelters. We just adapted to the problems we found in our areas, invented insurance to pay for the homes that kept getting wrecked, and carried on with our lives.

And then we screwed it all up. Thanks to global warming and the fact that the entire world dragged its feet on responding (and many parts of the world still refuse to respond and at least one significant part of the world refuses to accept as fact), we get the leveled-up version of every storm. Hurricanes flood and destroy the costs. Tornadoes rip apart the interior of the US. Earthquakes show up in areas where there never were any before. Giant waves wreck coastal countries. Rainy seasons and typhoons stick around much longer in come areas and disastrous droughts show up in other places. Wildfires burn all summer and destroy ever larger patches of land. All the while, the people leading my country stick their heads further up their asses, people with money decide how best to screw over everyone else, and reactionary politics starts working its way into political systems that seem designed to let them have their way. The world is on its way to hell in a hand basket and it feels like all I can do is watch. And write.

I don’t really think I’ve got the power to change much right now. I’ve got a platform and a voice, but not a lot of people listen. I’m not even the person people should be listening to for these problems. Those people are screaming at the top of their voices and all the systems that should be taking notice are ignore them. It sometimes feels like there isn’t much of a point to trying. I wonder if there’s any point in trying all the time. Not about sticking to writing, I’ve thankfully passed that point in my life, but about trying to make people see what’s wrong in the world. So many people want nothing but confirmation of their own biases or to be told that someone else is taking care of the problem. What’s the point of reaching out if everyone who will listen already agrees with you and everyone else refuses to accept anything that differs from their opinion? In the age of the internet, it’s super easy to find whatever you want to confirm your incorrect beliefs. I mean, we’ve got people who think vaccines are bad because one shitty-ass doctor lied to the world (and lost his license) and we’ve got people who believe the Earth is flat because some people wanted to figure out if they could make people believe something stupid. How the hell do you try to talk to people about scary, difficult topics in a world where people will believe governments are controlled by some fictional “deep state” and that a bunch of money-grubbing assholes are actually prophets of some insider who will shortly expose the “deep state” for the dark cabal of secrecy and manipulation it supposedly is?

The world suddenly got too weird for me to understand it. I want to be a voice of reason, but it’s pretty clear that people care less and less about reason lately and more about emotional appeal. But only emotional appeal that benefits them because screw all the people who die due to, or have their lives ruined by, worsening natural disasters, racism, police brutality, fascism, extreme poverty, or disappearing natural resources.

Normally, I’d like to go sit on my porch and take comfort in the rain that’s gently falling on the area, but I can still see the pile of ruined furniture and carpet sitting next to my neighbor’s driveway if I do, so I can’t really enjoy the rain that’s probably helping to grow mold behind what’s left of the drywall in their once-finished basement. Instead, I’m going to sit here and write something until I feel better about being unable to make the change I want to see.

 

Sometimes, I’m Still Sick a Week Later

If you read last week’s post, you’ll remember that I stressed myself out to the point of actually making myself sick. Well, with everything that’s gone on since then, I haven’t actually gotten much better. I can breathe through my nose, now, but only as a result of a steady application of DayQuil and tea. I’ve been sleeping more and resting way more than usual, but the flooding happening in my area has erased a lot of the benefits of the rest I’ve been getting.

Thankfully, I’m completely safe. I got a little water in the basement and was unable to go to work for a few hours, but that was it. What’s been stressful (and I recognize this is an extremely privileged problem to have during a natural disaster like this one) is trying to figure out how I feel about everything that’s happened. People down the street from me had to rip all the carpeting out of their basement because they had standing water. Go less than a mile away and there are people whose entire basements filled with water, people who had to be evacuated from their home, and streets that have been destroyed. There’s even a bridge that’s been half washed away. And I’m fine. I live at one of the highest points in the area so I escaped entirely unharmed. the biggest inconvenience was the loss of power while I was trying to make dinner on Monday night.

There’s nothing I can do to contribute to the flood relief efforts because I’m sick and my depression is at its worst so far this year. I can’t contribute money because I’m basically broke and I barely have anything useful to spare in terms of item donation. I replace most of my crap by asking for it as presents. I wish I could help but I’m effectively powerless other than writing something about it and even that isn’t working very well because I spent all night and day trying to come up with something for today’s poem post but ultimately failed to finish anything because I feel like all my creative energy has dried up. I feel like I’m scraping the bottom of the barrel and nothing I can come up with is any good. I’ve got five stanzas of something that’s clearly unfinished but I can’t even tell what’s wrong with it because my insides shrivel up every time I look at it.

Poetry is about emotional expression to me. Something I’m feeling captured in words and brought out where I can look at it outside of myself. Right now, I can’t even figure out how I feel. I know I’m feeling something and that I’m feeling it strongly, but every attempt to confront it or start processing it accomplishes nothing and leaves me more drained than before. It’s like trying to lift a heavy lead blanket off of something when you’re already so tired you can barely keep standing and you’re only this tired because you’re carrying whatever’s covered in the lead blanket.

I think it’s partly because I feel powerless to address what’s going on in the world. There’s nothing I can do to effectively contribute to the flood relief going on where I live, and there’s nothing I can do to address the severe weather that’s contributing to (and possibly causing) the flooding because global warming is a problem for all of humanity to address but all the people with the power to do anything about it are busy fucking around with their heads in the sand. The current administration of the US Government is literally marching us further and further toward destruction, they’ve abandoned the rule of law, they stand for nothing but personal gain, and just thinking about everything that’s happened in the past three years has made me want to vomit. Sometimes, it feels like the world is ending and I can’t tell what point there is in fighting it since my only weapons are words almost no one sees.

So much has happened since I graduated from college and moved to Madison and it’s all been a daily reminder that I don’t really matter and the power of words is ephemeral and fleeting when it can be felt at all. My old job, some of my relationships, old roommates, the current government, people leaving, the reasons people leave, and natural disasters that feel surreal because my life hasn’t changed but a guy has died and thousands of people have been evacuated from their homes, all of which is happening only a few miles from me. For the most part, I feel like my life is just a thing that’s happening and all I can do is try to keep my head up as it carries me wherever it goes. I know that feeling isn’t entirely true, but it’s hard to push that feeling away when my birthday present to myself is using the money I’ve saved up to pay off my car loan so I can start putting more money toward my other debts. Paying off my car loan is great, but all the extra room it creates in my finances is just getting sucked into my other debt. It’s exhausting to be working toward something for half a decade now and feel like I’ve made almost no progress. It’s exhausting to look at the enormity of the world’s problems and know that I can’t change anything unless everyone else agrees that we should change it.

I’m tired. I’m going to go to bed early and rest up this weekend. Hopefully I’ll be able to sort out my emotions over the next few days so I can finally get back to feeling productive again. This blog might not do much in the grand scheme of things, but my words are all I’ve really got and I believe that I can eventually effect some small change even if it takes me banging my head against a wall until the wall breaks. I’m not going to give up trying to change things, but it’s hard to keep hoping I’ll eventually be able to change anything when I look back at the past five years and can’t figure out what’s changed for the better.

Saturday Morning Musing

There’s a lot to be said for doing new things. Almost every bit of life advice will include something along the lines of “expand your horizons” or “step outside of your comfort zone.” It is possible to grow if you stay focused on what you’re already good at or interested in, but you can’t really grow in new ways if you never push yourself in a new direction. If you want to meet new people, learn new things, and participate in new experiences, doing new things is your best bet.

There’s also a lot to be said for doing the same things. Only by constant practice can you even approach mastering something. You can’t really master the violin by playing the saxophone. Sure, playing other stringed instruments and listening to music will definitely help your understanding as a whole, but you’ve got to stay at least somewhat close to your chosen instrument if you want to master it. You need discipline and repetition if you want to find the peak of your abilities. If you want the highest level of recognition, mastery over your chosen field, and to transcend your limits, you need to stick to more or less the same thing.

That being said, doing nothing but new things isn’t going to let you really gain experience or enjoy something because you wouldn’t stick with it long enough to really experience it. Doing nothing but the same exact thing is stifling and will only hold you back because small variations and exploring new parts of the same concept or practice is what will eventually achieve a higher level of skill. A mixture of repetition in your new experiences allows you to really experience them on a deeper level and trying new things in your repetition lets you feel out the edges of your ability so you can focus on surpassing them. The key to both is to mix in a little bit of the other.

At least, that’s been my experience. Doing something new is great, but only by doing it a couple of times can I really get a feel for it. It’s like when you buy a new album and enjoy a few of the tracks at first, but grow to enjoy different ones (or more of them) as you listen to the album a few more times. As you listen to the individual songs multiple times, your understanding of the song grows and you notice things that you missed initially. If you only stick to doing the same thing, though, you blind yourself to what might be out there. If you only listen to the same album or the same artist, you’re going to miss out on the rest of the genre you’ve been enjoying.

The first time you do something, you’re so caught up in the newness of the experience that you don’t really have the opportunity to appreciate it. The second time, it is still very new, but you start to notice things beneath the surface. Every time after, you find something new you missed before or get another chance to appreciate something you might have only noticed in passing the first time. If you keep doing it, though, you start to lose appreciation for something you enjoyed. Whatever hidden things intrigued you so much initially become boring and plain. You stop looking for something new in the experience because you think you’ve found it all.

Right now, as I try to get my life back in order after its relatively recent upheaval, I find myself seesawing wildly from one side of the equation to the other. I want to lose myself in something new, to experience something so wholly new that I don’t have any ability to analyze it or to do anything but open myself to the experience, but I also want to lose myself in the comfortable repetition of familiar things that don’t require my participation. I want either nothing but new things or nothing but old things. I want to be able to ignore all thoughts of all the things in my life that have been repetitions of new things and new aspects of old things because they’re tied up with a lot of complex emotions that I can only feel right now. I can’t do anything to them but experience them and wait for them to pass. For someone who wants to be able to control every aspect of their life, it can be a little hard to swallow the fact that there isn’t always something proactive I can do about what I’m feeling.

So I anxiously pick it at in the back of my mind and I wait. Impatiently. Unfortunately, reclaiming my life for myself is easier said than done and it requires a good deal more repetition of new experiences that I anticipated. It is interesting to see just how much of my life changed over the past year. To see how much of it feels like it no longer belongs to me alone. How often I feel as if something important is missing as I do things that I never imagined would belong to anyone but me.

Most of my relationships before this one where in college and the one that wasn’t in college was immediately after college. I didn’t have a life the same way I do now, with little routines, habits, and a set of things I kind of just assume will be a part of my daily life. Back then, everything was fluid, apt to change, and exciting. Now, I struggle to find meaning in the routines and to find purpose in pushing myself out of my comfort zone. People entering and exiting my life felt so natural back then and I never did anything long enough to feel like it belonged to me or to anyone else. Now, I feel like there’s a giant hole in my life and no one has even left it, not really. We’re just different now and that little, enormous shift was enough to throw the orbit of my life out of balance.

I guess I don’t really know what I want my life to be. I don’t want it to be a series of days where I repeat everything in new ways until I achieve mastery of whatever I’m working on. I don’t think I want it to be casual repetition of a string of new things, either. I want to say it should be a mixture of both things, but that feels like a cop-out as I write this. I feel like there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation for how I feel, hovering just on the edge of my ability to voice it, but I can’t quite get it to take the one last step I need to be able to put it to words.

I feel like being able to finally understand that thought, to be able to put it precisely to words, would answer a lot of the questions I’ve been asking myself for the past couple years. I don’t think it will solve my problems or fix anything, but I feel like it’s the key to figuring out how to solve some of my problems and fix some of the things that feel broken. Maybe, after enough new experiences and enough honing my craft, I’ll find the right thought and the right expression. Maybe.

Everything Changes

I’ve been thinking about change a lot, recently. And not so recently. Change has been a big part of my life and a common topic during my own private musing for almost a year now. After some of the events of last summer, it has never been far from my mind. I struggle to accept its role in my life, especially the individual instances of change, but I think I’m getting better at embracing it as a whole. I dislike big changes that happen all at once and I don’t like when it lots of little changes happen quickly, but I think I’m better at accepting it than I used to be.

That’s the thing about change. You’re always better off accepting it. You don’t have to like or enjoy it and you definitely don’t need to learn to love each individual change, but it is beneficial to work toward embracing change instead of fighting it. The thing about change in life is that you can either learn to swim with it or you can get swept away by it. It is going to happen whether you want it to or not, but you can exercise a certain amount of control over where you wind up if you learn to work with it.

That has always been my struggle. I know change will happen regardless of my desires or actions, but I still find myself trying to fight it. I am a very determined, stubborn person and I tend to push back against things I don’t like or feel are wrong. Unfortunately, a lot of the change in my life winds up feeling wrong to me. I crave consistency, love my habits, and tend to plan everything out as much as I can. Change, and life in general, takes these things away from me. As a result, I tend to fight against change and try even harder to find comfort in consistency, habit, and planning. Generally speaking, this works about as well as bailing out a boat with a sieve. You feeling like you’re accomplishing something because you’re working hard, but you’re really doing nothing but wasting your time.

Thanks to a lot of work over the years, I’m getting to a point where I will only fight against change or stress-out about it for a little while before letting go and accepting it. I still fear it and I like to avoid it when I can, but I can also deal with it now when I recognize that I don’t really have a choice. Which is most of the time. It wasn’t my choice to start going bald or for the neighbor kids to start acting shitty, but I’ve learned to accept these things.

The thing I’ve learned this year, though, and that I’ve probably been in the process of learning for a long time, is that everything changes. It may sound like a pointless mental exercise or philosophical argument, but change is constant and we’re different from one moment to the next. Who we are is made up of our experiences, which means we will likely never be the same person twice as even a repeat experience is a new experience. I try to embrace this idea because it matches how I view the importance of words. You can use the same words multiple times, but they’ll mean something different each time you use them, both to the person using them and the person on the receiving end. It’s the idea behind the name of my blog and the poem that inspired the name: Broken Words. Every time you use words, they mean something new, so it is worth it to take the time to make sure you get them right the first time. You can’t take them back any more than you can un-shatter a piece of glass. You can make something new from the shards, something that seems incredibly similar to what you had before, but it will never be the same again.

Life is like that. We’re like that. But we’re not the only thing that changes. Everything and everyone changes. People from the past, things we wanted to leave behind, even things we didn’t actually leave behind but just aren’t watching all the time. As a lot of wise characters in media often say, life goes on whether you’re paying attention or not. Change happens whether you’re there to witness it or not.

Everything I thought to leave behind in my life, as a means of coping with pain or trying to move on from things I want that aren’t possible, all of that is still there behind me, but it’s different now. The situations and people involved are different. The most recent is four years old now and I’m so different that, looking back at it now, I barely recognize it when I compare it to the memories I have. Four years isn’t even that long, but it has been long enough that I don’t recognize the pain and anger I remember feeling. I barely recognize the other person involved. We’ve both changed so much.

My past is full of situations and things I’ve left behind that changed when I wasn’t looking. A few of them, the ones I could never entirely leave behind, actually made me miserable because I was trying to fit back into them the way I did when I left. I don’t fit in them the way I used to, and neither do any of the people involved. Trying to slip back into the way things used to be is not only a disservice to myself, but to everyone involved. It keeps the pain alive. We’re all so different now that I have a hard time justifying my attempts to hold onto the feelings I have leftover from then. Right now, as I’m trying to see what has changed in those situations when I was blinded by what I thought they would always be, I feel two forces warring within me. I want another chance at what I feel I lost, but I still have these intense feelings formed from the pain and hurt I felt when I finally got free enough to actually recognize how awful everything was. I can’t let either of them gain any ground because they’re both agents of what I wanted and felt back then. I need to go in with no expectations, no hopes for what might be, and just work at finding out what is.

I feel like this realization is one that a lot of people with painful pasts eventually come to, as they grow. This sentiment I’m feeling as I write this matches the feel of a lot of stories I’ve read about people trying to recapture their past, and learning they can never go back. Hell, I’ve only gotten to this point because I found a story that was literally all about this, about the inevitability of change and way things can quietly change when you aren’t looking. I found it the days after my view-altering event last summer, and it startled me out of my mopey sulk. Right now, as I’m trying to deal with my depression and a lot of stuff I’ve been working through alongside my depression, I went back to that story and was reminded that everything changes and sometimes things just come and go without any reason. Life is fluid and change is constant.

Maybe, someday, I’ll finally get to a point where I’m not struggling to accept change and the shifting nature of existence. That would be nice. In the mean time, I hope this helps you with your own struggles. I hope that my writing is a bit of light and a new way of phrasing things that makes you think. I know that the act of writing this out settled half of the questions still in my mind from the past few days and made me realize that the rest are things I can’t answer right now. Whatever happens, I think I’m going to be alright. I’m ready to stop fighting change.

A Little Change Can Go a Long Way

Last night, I got caught up reading a book. I was already up late because of D&D and remembering to update my blog, but deciding to read for a bit before going to sleep definitely kept me up for another two hours on top of all that. I’m running on about three and a half hours of sleep today. For now, I’m managing alright, despite having spent most of Saturday in a big-group social situation. Weddings are great, but they really wipe me out. Meeting tons of new people and being around that much energy takes a lot of effort for me. If it wasn’t for how wonderfully restful Sunday was (prior to staying up three extra hours, anyway), I’d be dead on my feet.

I don’t regret my decision. Matthew Colville is a wonderful author and I’m excited to review his two books, Priest and Thief. They’re an absolute joy to read so far and I find it incredibly frustrating (in the best way) that the third book is not yet visible on the horizon. The man has been incredibly busy lately, with his usual YouTube video series about running Dungeons and Dragons called “Running the Game” and working on the incredible Kickstarter he ran only a few months ago. Setting up an office and writing a D&D supplement take a lot of work and he’s managed to do them both without dropping any of his other plates, so I am willing to cut him some slack when it comes to working on his book series.

Staying up late can be a lot of fun. As long as I’m staying engaged and enjoying myself, I don’t mind doing it once every so often. It only becomes a problem if I start to make a habit of it and wind up leaning on caffeine to see me through the day. That’s never a healthy habit and it is an easy one for me to fall into since I feel the most awake and alert in the evening and night, no matter how little I’ve slept.

Thankfully, getting better sleep has been easier since I’ve gotten a “new” (owned by a friend, but still in way better condition than my previous mattress) mattress. It is some kind of foam and, while sitting on the edge causes it to sink alarmingly, it does a much better job of supporting my back than my old spring mattress did. My lower back pain is much diminished and might even totally disappear in time and all of my joints feel way better which is a benefit I didn’t expect. Six hours of sleep now feels like eight or more hours of sleep on a good night with my old mattress.

It was amazing to realize just how much my old crappy mattress contributed to the problems in my life. Low-quality sleep, aching joints and muscles, constant lower back pain, and little desire to actually go to sleep all added up to a certain degree of constant irritation or frustration that now seems so clearly tied to my old crappy mattress that I’d been putting off replacing for over a year. Almost a year and a half, actually. I probably would have continued to put it off if it wasn’t for the fact that one of my friends just happened to be moving and my girlfriend made a few comments about how my back pain was clearly tied to my creaky, dented, shitty mattress.

It is amazing how changing one relatively little thing I’d been ignoring for a long time made my life so much better. Even a return to “neutral” in terms of what sleeping did for me was a huge boon. Last week was super stressful and exhausting for a lot of reasons and in a lot of ways. If I’d been sleeping on my old crappy mattress, I’d probably be depressed, exhausted, and on the verge of tears/a panic attack at this point. Instead, I’m tired but ready to go play D&D again. I don’t need another evening of rest before I feel up for tackling another social situation.

That’s not to say I don’t want to rest. I would love to get to sleep early tonight and try for a lovely eight hours. I might actually wind up feeling properly rested if I could do that for a few nights in a row. I haven’t felt properly rested in a long time and it is now so easy to see why. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard to convince myself not to spend money on a new mattress. It was definitely worth what I spent and then some.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about what else might be a seemingly insignificant thing that could have a huge impact on the quality of my life. Working out more springs to mind, as does putting more effort into ensuring my diet is well-rounded instead of the “eat food and just make sure it includes fruit and veggies” thing I’m currently doing. Neither of those are really insignificant, though. They’d both take a fair amount of discipline and effort every day, but the potential benefits should outweigh the costs. Back when I was more active in regards to maintaining my physical health, I felt better than I have since I stopped. Combining that with the benefit of a non-shitty mattress could have an incredible positive impact on my life. Likely will have. Should have. I don’t really know and I won’t until I try it out.

I’m going to keep thinking of more things I can try as well. I’m still trying to fit all the puzzle pieces from the past two weeks of meditation together, so something else to focus on for a bit should help me wrangle everything into place. We’ll see. I feel like I say that a lot. It’s kind of exciting to know that there’s the potential for so much positive change, but also kind of scary. Thing could wind up being incredibly different and, while I one-hundred-percent support myself getting into better physical and mental health, I’m not sure I’m ready for all the changes that might entail. Thankfully, I’m not on a schedule.


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Where I Am

I watch them grow
And I see them change
­                           Here where I am.
I see them move,
With great breadth and range,
                           Here where I am.

I saw them fall
And get up again
                           From where I am.
I watched them learn
What we might have been
                           From where I am.

They walk away
While I stay quiet
                           Right where I am.
I watch them go,
Filled with disquiet,
                           Right where I am.

I’m still standing,
After all these years,
                           Stuck where I was.
I’m stuck standing,
Rooted by my fears,
                           Still where I was.

­

Through the Eyes of a Statue

Everything seemed so quick. The little creatures around it moved faster than it could track, but it enjoyed watching the blur of their movement. The humans were respectful, ensuring the constant exposure to the elements and birds did nothing to damage it. It didn’t really mind the birds, seeing as they moved even faster than the humans, but it did enjoy the colder months when the birds were scarce.

There was a door at the statue’s feet and something through that door attracted many humans and their companion creatures. It suspected that the door led to whatever was behind it. It couldn’t turn to look, but it could feel the reassuring weight of something even larger than itself at its back.

It was so long since it had first opened its eyes and seen the wonderous world around it. The area had changed drastically since then, as the humans molded the world to their will. Once it was the tallest. Now it was dwarfed by the structures around it, whose height passed beyond its sight. It could not turn its head and it missed the sky, but there had been so much going on below that it had not cared.

The humans and their creatures had stopped coming around, though. There had been rumbling and a bright light. Most of the humans had vanished, leaving behind black smudges everywhere. There were some humans left and they still moved quickly, but not as fast as they once did. The statue was sad to see them go, but it thought they would be back. There had always been humans around it.

For now there were the plants growing where the humans once occupied. They moved much more slowly, and it enjoyed that. Maybe the humans would too, once they came back.

And Lo, the Silence is Broken

I’ve always been a fan of silence. There are many different types and I love most of them. The noisy silence one finds in the deep woods or the countryside, where all the noises of city live and humanity are gone, no longer hovering just below hearing like an invisible weight dragging us down but replaced with the cacophony that is nature. The soft silence of a quiet afternoon as the fans whir and the whisper of cars on the distant highway is only interrupted by the drone of an airplane heading to the airport. The heavy silence of a moment shared between two people as they recognize the depth of what lies between them and the strength they find in each other. The quiet silence of a good book as the rest of the world fades away and all you are is subsumed by the story unfolding between the quietly rustling silence.

There are a few I don’t like, some that I find every so often that seem to make me more miserable and depressed than I truly expected. The painful silence of two in the morning that weighs down the world and all of its problems, threatening solitude and loneliness without end. The mournful silence of hotel rooms in the quiet glow of a busy city that seeps through the curtains no matter how tightly they’re closed, weeping as it tells the tales of all the lonesome nights spent staring at the textured ceiling. The yawing silence that grows between people who have no more words for each other, who can only seem to hold up what once was and is now broken while bemoaning their inability to restore it.

I like silence, despite how deeply it can sometimes cut, because it gives me a chance to reflect and let my mind wander. I spend so much time just trying to get from one day to the next that I have an awful tendency to completely ignore what is going on in my head. Unraveling that mess can be a painful or exhausting experience. Work drains me more than anything else I’ve ever done and I don’t always have a lot of energy to spare outside of it. As a result, I tend to enforce an internal silence by removing all of my external ones, filling my life with noise and life so I don’t have the ability to look inside.

When I have a less stressful day or I get to the point where ignoring my internal self is no longer an option, I will take the time to create a comfortable silence for me to reflect in. Today, that silence is whistling wind, no music, and the quiet tap of my keys (plus the annoying screech of my sticky spacebar whenever I hit it off-center). It is my first silence in a couple of weeks, almost, and I’m taking the time to reflect a little bit on all the changes in my life. I’ve been in Madison, Wisconsin for almost 3 years now and I’ve been through a lot to get here. I’ve lost contact with people and let friendships diminish. I’ve renewed contact with other people and strengthened other relationships, not to mention started entirely new ones. I’ve learned a lot about myself even if there are a lot of things I learned before that I need to be constantly reminded of.

The origin of today’s blog also lies in a silence. I hadn’t talked to a very good friend of mine in years and he messaged me out of the blue today. We started catching up and when we talked about my writing, he had a lot of positive things to say in addition to having complete faith that I’d eventually finish and publish one of my novels. It was not only nice to be speaking to my friend again (you know who you are), but it was an excellent reminder that I’ve been working toward the next major step in my life for years. I’ve been writing since high school and I’ve constantly been improving. I can write faster now and at a much higher quality than I could have ever achieved with editing. I have written at least a million words just in terms of creative writing projects. My bigger book projects alone get me well over halfway there, not to mention the hundreds of short stories, unfinished novel ideas, and practice drafts of random situations.

Silence is good. In my life, at least, it helps more than it hurts. However, there is always a time to break a silence and I think today is as good a day as any. So thank you friend, who is hopefully reading this, because you gave me the push I needed today by breaking our silence. I am not ready to be specific (sorry, I know, vaguebooking sucks), but I can promise anyone who follows me will see the results in the coming months.