“Because it’s a great big white world
and we are drained of our colors
we used to love ourselves
we used to love one another…”
-Marilyn Manson, Great Big White World
“It seems like every day’s the same
and I’m left to discover on my own
It seems like everything is gray and there’s no color to behold
They say it’s over and I’m fine again, yeah
Try to stay sober feels like I’m dying here…”
-Seether, Fine Again
When I was a young artist, I saw the world in vivid color. Everything I knew, everything I enjoyed was found in the contents of a Crayola box. I played in innocent sand and ate laughter for lunch. It was action and adventure, Super Soaker summers and a spinning imagination. I opened up a hole in my head where I used to step in and float in a world of fantastic creatures and confident superheroes.
Play time was the best time. And I always played best on my own. But when people came into my picture, they muddled my colors. They stepped into that hole in my head and saw fit to trample through my fantasies and tear down my constructed view of the world. War went from being a Saturday morning cartoon to a Wednesday night news headline. The bright blue hues hewed into red chunks of violence. Green grass grew into a greed for money. Yellow corner suns stretched into police tape. Purple popsicles transformed from treats to treating the sting of bruises. All my colors had to conform to the world outside of my imagination, a world I could no longer avoid or ignore.
The art in me dried up. People came into my life to pick my brain, break my heart, and claim another color. I looked up from my canvas and saw the landscape of the earth, the willingness of man to crush anything for cash, character, or clout. People on one side of the world hungry for food, people on the other side starving for power. Killing animals, shitting into the ocean, blowing up everything we are scared of in an orange ball of flame, flaming the fires of an orange man’s ignorance, insecurity, and fear.
My world, my life, my existence was devalued, limited to black and white. It came from near and far, outside the scope of my vision all the way to my front yard. A rotating glass door of people pulled the brown from my hair and stole the pink from my flesh, all leading up to him swallowing up my warm white essence before breaking me in half. All that was left was black and a few shades of gray.
Each day grows dimmer. Black oil bubbles beneath our feet and gray smog fill our skies. We can’t see past the hazy hatred that we type up at our computers and send off like missiles. We praise corrupt politicians and cage innocent children. Death, disease, pollution, and politics come barreling at us like a train and even if we wanted to stop it, what more could we do but put up our hands and brace ourselves for impact?
A man who sits and smirks on top of a floating father and child. A cop who kills without consequence. A woman stripped of her clothing, consent, and clinic. A man beaten to death for being gay. Celebrity justifies insanity. God justifies guns. Power justifies the poor. We use any excuse we can to segregate and spit on those we consider less than human. But when did we get so arrogant to think we could ever make such classifications? And when did we get so stupid not to realize skin, culture, and orientation are all shades of the same color?
Life lights us up. Hatred, ignorance, and intolerance work its way into our lives to dim our shine. But we are too busy trying to fit in, too concerned with climbing to the top that we either don’t see the absurdity around us, or even worse, we turn a blind eye to those with white privilege or black water.
Deep inside the shriveled heart, a time or two I feel a twinge, an awakening of defiance, a simple brilliance of clarity that people will understand the error of the world if only they could listen to reason. But reason is the first thing to go in religion, political parties, and powerful people. Still, it comes alive in hopes it might impress or press down on the doubters, reach deep inside to resonate within the souls of those who might still stir toward a solution. If you can see it, you might care enough to change it. It might be too late for some, even for myself, but I look to those who still maintain their colors. The artist is on his way out but maybe the art can live on and help others do the same.
I dream almost every night. Most people do. Most people can’t remember them. I can remember that I dreamed, just not what I dreamed about. And it’s frustrating because my dreams are often either pretty boring or pretty nice and I want to be able to recall a good feeling. ‘Cause I sure don’t have them in waking life.
And I always wonder why I remember some dreams vividly and others not at all.
A few weeks ago, I dreamed that I was in a building that looked a lot like a Blockbuster. I had an uneasy feeling, like I was out too late and should be at home or had a weird feeling about being at that location (maybe because most Blockbusters are closed and why the heck would I be in one?) but I shrugged it off.
Moments later, a guy came in carrying a gun. I was alarmed, of course, but tried not to freak out. Maybe he was just carrying it to make himself feel better or in case anyone tried to jack his membership card. I reasoned with myself that I would be okay. People only get shot on television and in movies. It doesn’t happen where I live.
But he turned to me, stepped up to me, and shot me in the ear.
The first thing I thought was, “I knew I shouldn’t have been here.”
I didn’t hear a gunshot or even feel anything but my vision turned into diamonds shining against a white light. I fell to the floor and once I hit the ground, I knew I only had a fraction of a second to live.
So I prayed to God to forgive me.
And then I felt this relief come over me. I don’t know if it was because God had answered my prayer or that I felt better that I’d had a final chance to get right with God or that I was just finally dead and didn’t have to be sad anymore.
And then (and this hasn’t happened before) I realized I was dreaming. But by that time, I knew my mind was being pulled back into consciousness. I felt myself being shot through that slippery tunnel that connects reality and dreams. And as that happened, I tried to get up from the bloody floor and fly away. I wanted to take over the dream but it ended before I could lift off the ground.
Most dreams of mine feel random but I could determine a link between this one and my waking moments of contemplation. I had recently listened to a podcast in which a guy said he woke himself up from his dreams by killing himself in his dreams. I guess he had the lucid dream experience down pretty well.
And I’ve been pondering the idea of reconnecting with God. I never turned full atheist but I just gave up on trying to get God to ease the ache in my heart. All the church and prayer and scripture never seemed to make a difference. I was, as I still am, beyond reach. Yet God is always in the back of my mind. I don’t know if it’s Christ convicting me or just that old time Christian guilt at work. All I know is the Holy Ghost is haunting me and it kind of sucks.
While the dream obviously incorporated the different things I’d heard, experienced, and thought about in the weeks leading up to it, it might not be anything significant. It probably stood out to me because it was the first dream I’ve ever had in which I could feel myself dying. I usually wake up before the last breath. But not this time. And instead of it being scary, it was strangely satisfying.
I was talking to my supervisor at work the other day and out of nowhere, she said, “Brannon, from some of our conversations we’ve had, it seems to me like you’re dying a very slow death.”
“Been there, done that,” I said. “Now I’m just rotting.”
“They’re fooling themselves. They think all this bullshit about hard work and achieving means something but it doesn’t. Universe is completely random. Particles colliding at random. Blind chance. So you didn’t make it. No big deal. It’s not your fault. Shit’s random.”
I’m not an atheist, just apprehensive.
I’ve mentioned before that I’ve stopped praying or relying on God in any kind of way. I used to feel guilty about it but now I don’t feel bad at all. Nothing in my life has changed. I’m no better or worse for it, which makes me wonder if God was ever in my life at all, or if God is anything at all.
I don’t know. I’m not sure I care. I do hate that I’ve slid so far down but what can I do? I’ve tried it all with the prayer and meditation and Bible reading and patience. Nothing helped. Nothing ever does.
Faith is a lot like a slot machine. You pray and pull the lever and you hope for good results but you never know if you’ll hit it big or end up empty. It’s really all random chance. You can never be sure if the constant prayer ever pays off or if things in your life just finally line up. You want something long enough and if you work for it, you might just get it. It doesn’t mean God had anything to do with it. Just to be fair, it also doesn’t mean he didn’t. You just can’t know so why get caught up in it?
It pisses me off when people think I have given up on my faith in God just because I am not where I want to be in life. Do people think that’s how I think it works? I’m not new to this game. I’m not asking for a perfect life. It’s not about circumstances but sensations. I have never felt that comforting presence. I have never had a good feeling when it comes to God. I’ve only ever felt separation, emptiness, nothingness. I am not reassured when I pray. When I scream for God to give me a sign, I get nothing. I am not comforted and therefore I don’t think there’s anything out there to comfort me. How hard is it just to say hello? If God cares/exists, why has he not shown me?
And where’s the stable relationship with anyone in my life, cosmic or concrete, with flesh or faith? My parents are distant, my coworkers are crass and former friends are too busy. I can congregate and communicate but I’m no one’s number one.
I wish I could believe again. I wish I could be the good little Christian boy in my Christian bubble like so many people around here. They are small-minded and naive and annoying. And sometimes I think it would be easier if I could just be that way, too. What if God gave a shit? What if he finally had mercy on my menial life?
It’s not like he’s bullying me or anything. It just feels like it. But that’s conceited on my part because, really, who am I? He has a whole big world to ignore so why would he single me out to slice and dice? No, he’s saving that dirty work for the devil.
My staycation is over.
I had to go to back to work three days ago and not ten minutes into my shift, I broke out into a major sweat. The air conditioner must have broken while I was away. And it does it every year. Every summer, more specifically. Of course.
And maybe half an hour later, a group of scuzzy white boys came in and spat chewing tobacco on the fitting room floor. Our customers are all class.
Yeah, I was back in full swing.
I was so stress-free while I was on holiday. Sure, I pressured myself to write more and work on finishing the first edit of my book (which I didn’t even touch), but other than being my own bully, things were great. Even greater when my parents were gone for two days.
I felt content. My skin was clearer. I was refreshed and much less despondent. But of course, as soon as I walked into that low rent cesspool of losers, the emptiness sank in again. All energy regained in those several days was drained in several minutes, due to the intense heat and intense idiocy of customers and coworkers alike.
It just showed me how much that job is killing me. The mental energy I have to expend to put up with everyone is incredible. It’s no wonder I’m not inspired to write or draw or do anything creative. The first thing I want to do when I get home is eat and then take a nap so I can wake up and go right back to bed.
I only worked two days and now I have another day off today and I need it. I don’t even have any plans. If I couldn’t get anything accomplished in seven days, there’s no hope for a productive one day. But I’m fine with that because although I didn’t do anything constructive, I still did what I wanted, which was….
|You’re pretty much looking at my vacation. Nothing fancy but effective. Regrets? A few. Refreshing? Definitely.|
Several weeks ago, my sister’s coworker, Jon, went to a man’s house to sell him car and homeowner’s insurance.
As Jon was assessing the house, the man’s wife went up to him, a bit frazzled, her eyes enlarged with fear, and said, “Don’t sell him any insurance. He’s going to burn this house down and then kill me.” No doubt, Jon was startled by the statement. What do you do in that situation? Do you take her seriously or blow it off as her being crazy or paranoid? Jon decided to shrug it off and sold the man the insurance anyway.
He didn’t think too much about the lady with the large eyes until he got a phone call two weeks later.
It was the man.
“You can take my wife off the policy,” he said. “She committed suicide a few days ago.”
Jon, concerned, called the police to let them know what the man’s wife had told him but they refused to look into it, saying the case was officially closed.
So…he killed her.