My Family, My Enemy, Part 3

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Prologue: Friends Are Either God’s Way of Apologizing to You For Your Family, or Proof That There is No God

“Your friends are your family” a woman once told me in response to my situation. I suppose that a caveat there that many people miss is to consider what their definition and criteria for what makes someone a friend is, and it’s a life-long process of culling people until I find the right ones. Another view I’ve heard is that the definition of Hell is Other People.

Part I: Second String Family

It is no surprise to most people about the difficult relationship with my stepfather and mother. My mother and I are a lot better, but there is still the same distance I have with people with her, sadly, though that does not stop her from helping me and loving me. She will unfortunately never understand me, and my stepfather refuses to understand me.

As I’ve mentioned before–I do not have a home with my mother and stepfather. The fact I was able to stay for three months this summer was a miracle, as he views me as a guest who “intrudes on the peace and privacy with his wife”, and that I am a “failure for not having a ‘real’ job”. From sending Jewish rabbis to tell me to get a “real” job to speaking in a very belittling manner, to insulting and ordering everyone around, and alienating my mother and others because he’s got a strong personality, he’s definitely a challenge. I don’t have an easy time with him understanding my background, especially since his default outlook is that “it happened, get over it” and I am “American, there is no cultural confusion” or how my career is “only for financially stable kids and Rockefeller [privileged rich kids]”, and that “I have failed for two years and chose the wrong path because it’s impractical, I don’t deserve the privilege to be happy [again: only financially stable people can be happy], I have to find the right job to earn enough money to buy a house, car, food, and pay bills, instead of doing this and struggling even when I’m 40 as a failure”. The last part bothers me in that he assumes so much about my career and disregards my accomplishments, measuring things purely by financial earnings and American values.

Despite this–there’s no doubt that he cares and only wants me to be successful and have what is best for me. The problem is, many times, what people think is best for others is not what others need or want for them to be happy, fulfilled, and truly successful. I do appreciate the other things he does to show how he cares–he temporarily took on my student loan debt to tide me off for this year, treated me out to dinner and cooked for me, spent time to have lunch during work and get my hair cut, and paid for a hospital bill, among other things. It’s the reward for dealing with him, or as my mother tells me, “dealing with him is the price we pay for the good he might do if he likes me.” I do appreciate him, but he has a way of dismissing my life experience and belittling my values and decisions.

It’s not the most ideal situation to be treated as a guest and constantly devalued, and most normal people refuse to deal with my stepfather. The amusing thing I find is that it’s actually the closest to a normal, stable home I have ever had compared to growing up with my father.

This does not change the fact that my psyche and self-worth are always compromised by being around him. It’s a series of contradictions to the point that I am told to get out, be my own person, don’t inconvenience him because I am an adult, but how I go about doing this is “stupid” and “impractical” and “will never succeed”–something my father also felt the same way about and was a shared language they had between them, despite mutual disdain for each other. Therefore, it is no surprise that I do not feel at home around him and my mother, and seek to find people whom I relate to and connect deeply with outside of my blood ties. Unfortunately, I do not find them very easily.

Part II: International School, Community College, University, Graduate School, International Development Nonprofits and Expat Circles: Fun House Mirrors

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There is something about yourself that you don’t know. Something that you will deny even exists until it’s too late to do anything about it. It’s the only reason you get up in the morning, the only reason you suffer the shitty boss, the blood, the sweat and the tears. This is because you want people to know how good, attractive, generous, funny, wild and clever you really are. “Fear or revere me, but please think I’m special.” We share an addiction. We’re approval junkies. We’re all in it for the slap on the back and the gold watch. The “hip, hip, hoo-fucking-rah.” Look at the clever boy with the badge, polishing his trophy. Shine on, you crazy diamond. Because we’re just monkeys wrapped in suits, begging for the approval of others.

The worst thing that many people told me was that once I was in one place or environment, I would thrive. My high school mentor for one said that I would be embraced in San Francisco because it is “an artistic place full of open-minded people”. Ha! Just what kind of alternate universe was he in to think what he saw in the 1970s was the same in 2002 when I landed there? Or how the techie assholes in 2014 proved to me that that soul is gone?

Nevertheless, his later words later on scarred me for years: when I found myself struggling with my first long-term repatriation for university in America after high school, how I was ostracized, labeled as “weird” and not happy or fitting in, he said, “Johnny, there must be something wrong with you if people in San Francisco find you weird and don’t get along with you.” This was my first encounter with the lie of multiculturalism, global cities, and people making assumptions.

It’s a constant theme of people making assumptions and just showing how they know little or nothing at all about reality. From ethnicity to passport to attending an international school and being Third Culture Kid, UCLA undergraduate or a grad school student studying international relations, people don’t understand anything, they go based off of essentialist characteristics based off of assumptions and stereotypes, overlooking complexities and trivializing the difficulties that accompany each category.

As my summer of 2014 back in San Francisco and the complexities off repatriation remind me of the trauma I first experienced when I landed in America in 2002, I must now jump backwards in time to the moment before I boarded the plan in Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport to San Francisco International Airport.

Flash backward.

When I was in international school, I was told that once I left for America, especially to San Francisco, I’d be in my element with people who were like me. People assumed I was also just like every other rich kid, without realizing my dad was always paying tuition late or on borrowed money he seldom payed back. They also assumed that I just didn’t fit in because I was American and that Brent International School of Manila (affectionately known as Brent International School of Morons) just had too many rich kids living in a bubble.

Flash forward.

When I was in community college San Francisco, I was told that once I went to UCLA, I’d be in my element with other like-minded intellectuals. People assumed that because we were all in college, we’d all be intelligent and mature, without realizing what college had become in America, whether it be university or community college: a second high school full of kids who replaced a fishbowl for a lake, or perhaps a big pond, and mistook it for the sea of life. My dad assumed that the level of education and pedagogical practices were of high caliber, without realizing that many programs and courses were cut to accommodate larger classes and print more diplomas, and that it in no way guaranteed a job.

Flash.

When I was in UCLA, I was told that it was people’s first time away from their parochial hometowns, countries, and comfort zone, therefore, it was imperative for them to explore their sexuality, their alcohol tolerance, and maturity through their choices that edged towards selfishness or rejection of anything that didn’t fit into the categorization boxes they either came in to the university with or the new ones given to them by their fraternities, cliques, and clubs. I was then told that perhaps I needed to be around serious people, particularly graduate students, because then my mind and creativity could truly thrive. Many other people all also assumed that I perhaps was too elitist, having come from international school and a higher social class as opposed to the hard-working entrepreneurial laborers and independent people. They had no idea that more money or better grades does not denote maturity, intellect, creativity, or even integrity, for that matter, with rampant cheating, grade inflation, and an utter lack of principles and ethics.

Flash.

When in graduate school, I was told that I should be more open-minded because I came from international school, went to UCLA, and lived in San Francisco and in many countries overseas. I instead was around a very smug group of people whose self-importance, self-worth, self-entitlement revolved around being graduate students, who felt they were more educated, more worldly. This was especially exaggerated as it was an international relations program, with many who seemed geared towards saving the world and promised higher jobs, but there was a greater emphasis on the latter when I saw how often they drank and excluded non-departmental people, save for those whom they boasted of their prowess to, expecting admiration and adoration. I was then told that looking forward, I would do better with people actually doing the work and living abroad, no longer in their comfort zone.

In the present: if recent experiences show me anything, I see no difference again in people, both in expatriate circles and those working in development and nonprofit. As I recall in very recent history, I only need to think of many people I’ve encountered  watching pornography while at work, focused more on boasting of the things their organization does and how they are special for the brand they are associated with (be it the cause, organization, or the work and people they are supposedly helping), and the many assumptions that both local and expat workers make about me based on my nationality and ethnicity. Furthermore, many of these people tend to stay in their groups of those with their own nationality or ethnicity, and retreat more into old routines of eating pizza and drinking beer, as they did back “home” at the same establishments all the time, whether it’s a small town or a big city.

What do all of these circles have in common? Each of them views each other with assumptions that I must fit into their boxes and categories.

It can be summarized in one encounter with a rich British-Filipina expatriate who went to international school in Hong Kong, whom I met in Manila. The moment I was introduced as having gone to international school, she doesn’t introduce herself or ask about me, she simply says, “Oh, you’re one of those kids.” And when I ask her what it’s supposed to mean, she says indifferently and judgmentally, “I’m not rude; I’m British: I just say things as they are.”

I don’t need to explain her any further after exploring that theme of assumptions about others or about one’s own identity and her rudeness, entitlement, judgement, and immaturity that has tendrils in all of the above circles. There are only three words in Latin that best carry my view on her and everyone else: res ipsa locquitur: the thing speaks for itself.

In short: looking forward at each phase, everyone assumed the next step would put me in a better place. Upon taking the next step, people assumed that because of where I came from previously, that I must be of the exact same ilk of others from there, therefore, stereotypes were imposed moving forward and and looking backwards on me, because nobody understood complexity.

I couldn’t make friends because of where I came from in each phase as people judged me for whom they thought I was, and I’m always told that the next step will put me with the right people instead of drinking the poison that’s been forced down my throat by family, school, patriots, tribes, and the like.

Part III: The “Community” of Asian America, Chinese-Filipinos, American Expatriates and The Inner Schism of Mr. Lonely

Lonely, I’m Mr. Lonely
I have nobody for my own
I am so lonely, I’m Mr. Lonely
Wish I had someone to call on the phone

Now I’m a soldier, a lonely soldier
Away from home through no wish of my own
That’s why I’m lonely, I’m Mr. Lonely
I wish that I could go back home

Letters, never a letter
I get no letters in the mail
I’ve been forgotten, yes, forgotten
Oh how I wonder, how is it I failed

Now I’m a soldier, a lonely soldier
Away from home through no wish of my own
That’s why I’m lonely, I’m Mr. Lonely
I wish that I could go back home

I was never an immigrant to America, nor were my parents–we were expats who simply wanted to live the best life we could live, and I do not deny I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth, but I also have difficulty explaining how I went from being the son of the man who was not only the 1% in Manila, but the number one with his company Dynetics in the 1970s and 1980s, to a boy who was physically and verbally abused, neglected, and struggling as someone was in and out of jail, unable to pay his bills and perpetually in debt. He was the man who left me in the backseat of cars on hot days, had girlfriends who beat me with dictionaries, abandoned me in parking lots for hours because I didn’t obey him–this is what shaped my psyche growing up. I might add briefly that “obeying” my father was admitting to things that never happened, which his drug-induced episodes led to him accusing me of and beating me in public or shaming me.

What does this have to do with Asian America or expats overseas? Many Americans like to segregate themselves by race if others aren’t segregating them. When I share hints of these stories, nobody can understand why I had a family that didn’t support me growing up or when I was a homeless beggar in 2010, assuming things like “Family must support you; you are related”, as though the concept of an abusive family doesn’t exist. If the concept existed, it was placed in the context of an immigrant who didn’t speak English or understand American culture, without realizing that my father spoke Oxford English and it was his first language of the nine he eventually knew fluently.

My father had no problems integrating into America at all–he was the talk of the town and people of all races and social classes wanted to be part of his entourage due to his wealth. And when his reputation didn’t precede him, he was charming everyone with his intellectual conversations on religion, philosophy, and science. As the years since childhood and his passing remain in the past, I am unable to explain to people that this is what I lived with, and their experience struggling with immigrant parents who are stuck in their ways and their language are not mine.

It’s hard for them to see me as Chinese because I don’t “look” Chinese, even if I am Chinese-Filipino. They can’t understand why I am not Catholic or have parents who are fluent in unaccented English, have a small family, and have nobody who wanted to be a doctor, nurse, or engineer as the stereotype goes. They see me as “whitewashed” because I refused to “discover and rediscover my culture” at the Filipino Culture Clubs in UCLA, or that I “must be ashamed of my heritage because I don’t automatically get along with the other Filipinos they try to introduce me to.”

When I watch the Asian Americans on YouTube, they are not my people. I cringe when these suburban types assume that Southern California’s Monterey Park is the pinnacle of Asian American culture, that it’s all about what restaurants you eat in, the color of your skin, having their culture be “cooler” than non-Asians as though it were some trend, and many who believe they are experts at Asian culture–often without ever having traveled to Asia, lived there, or worse: assuming because they’ve been to one country, they’ve been to all of them. My struggle is not to be recognized as “American” and “normal”, nor is it to be “special” because of my race, as it seems to be with them. My struggle is simply to be recognized as an individual without judgments or assumptions for anything.

I do not care if I see Asian women with white men. I do not have friends who are all Asian and exclude my Mexican, black, or white friends. I do not avoid Asians altogether either, as the other extreme of Asian Americans are wont to do. I simply go with people who share my values and are kind-hearted travelers, artists, or simply good people who take me as an individual rather than a series of superficial categories. I do not need to be recognized or have more people who are of Asian heritage appearing in mainstream entertainment, nor do I need to have them in positive, empowering roles. I like people for their craft, regardless of their race.

The community of Asian America is simply not mine, and for this reason, I am often seen as a traitor. Why do I owe anything to America or Asian America due to the accident of birth and passport or ethnicity? The community has done nothing but ostracize me, especially at Asian American film festivals, where the social-climbing types dismissed me because I wasn’t cool or well-connected to people who could help them climb. It led to a few years of scorn for Asian America and a very heavily critical view, where my disdain and loathing was prevalent in previous writings. When I see their videos, I see the assumptions they make about Asia, many places I have lived in and cultures that are nothing like the ones they stereotype or the superficial views based almost exclusively on their experience with the majority working class immigrant types that comprise Asian America’s recent generation (seldom looking at older generations or the refugees, whose experiences and values are vastly different).

The biggest example of where Asian America and I diverge is when discussing the movie Cloud Atlas. I’ve talked about it before many times, but people focus more on yellowface prosthetic makeup and no jobs for Asian American actors, completely missing the point of a film that transcends race. But no matter what I do, nobody understands my views due to the complexity of my identity and my values.

Unsurprisingly, people don’t understand the layers of complexity in being Chinese-Filipino either, assuming that there must be a mixed race dynamic but purely American or purely Filipino amalgamation that transcends race, yet oddly enough makes it the center of identity in a bizarre contradictory paradox. Like Asian Americans, the Chinese-Filipino community also has certain expectations of who I am (and my father), and because I don’t “look” Chinese nor did my father mingle solely with the Chinese schism in Manila due to how we dislike being inward-looking and incestuous, he was ostracized not because he was different, but because he was a success story and was defined by who he was as an individual rather than his ethnic community or his social class.

To many Filipinos and Chinese-Filipinos, I’m just that dumb American who looks as ignorant and unwanted in the same way I see the immaturity of the Asian Americans on YouTube. People from The Jubilee Project for example once approached me because of my expertise, and rejected me because I refused to work for free or explain to them that their assumptions about Asia are very different from what they thought they could do. People in the Philippines approach me to help them with American and international-oriented things, but get mad when I don’t do it or give them special treatment for being a fellow countryman.

Is it any surprise that in the American expatriate circles overseas, I also don’t get on well because I do not have the same love or involvement with the country? I don’t miss America or cheer for American teams during World Cup or the Olympics–it doesn’t feel like my team at all.

In lieu of a family who doesn’t understand or want me, the community that is supposed to make up for that, both in terms of nationality and race, just don’t give me any comfort or familiarity. If Americans overseas can be with other Americans, I often don’t connect to them or feel connected at all, and the same can be said among Filipinos, Chinese-Filipinos, or Asian Americans in America. I have no family or community that loves, understands, misses, or even wants me. I still do not know if my name is Mr. Lonely.

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Part IV: Third Culture Kids Are Not My People

When the online community for Third Culture Kids appeared and I joined roughly in 2008, I initially assumed that I had found my tribe, the people who knew what I went through and understood me. It was only after interacting with many of them that I realized I hadn’t, because I was then reminded of the ostracism I had in international school and the rich, privileged kids whom many associate as being TCKs (and by and large, many are), but still do not represent TCKs as a whole, especially not me and the unprivileged few whom I presently include among my friends now.

I no longer have any excitement upon meeting Third Culture Kids in person. Back in community college and UCLA, there was excitement and the mutual anticipation that we finally found people who understood our uniqueness. Very few of these friends exist anymore, as our personalities caught up with us and the wonder faded. These days, it’s even less special because they don’t have that struggle due to the online resources, and it has changed their attitude and appreciation for meeting people who’ve shared their experience–quite possibly because they don’t like their uniqueness challenged, in some strange competition to be more unique at times.

I don’t run down a checklist of traits that are posted online about what makes someone a TCK. I don’t try to match that criteria, but much of it seems to align with my experience. It is not the sum total of who I am, for I am not a privileged kid who flies places because mommy and daddy want to send him here and there or he wants to go to Machu Picchu for Spring Break. At the same time, I’m not someone who insists that the world should treat him as special because he lived among elephants and history away from the “normal” world, whether it be Germany, America, Canada, or the UK; someone who thinks because they lived away from the “normal” environment of their passport country, that they are special. Or, a person who feels that everyone else is beneath them when after they proudly boast of their unique experiences, they are not viewed as special, they are instead seen as the braggarts they are who are unable to deal with the common man. The world doesn’t owe me for my past, and I am not special, whether it’s because I survived abuse and neglect, or that I am a Third Culture Kid or an Asian or an American or a college graduate or an international development specialist.

The TCKs have their community that I am simply not part of, because what I realized is that many have parallel experiences, but are often far more privileged than they realize, and their toughest challenge is repatriation, alienation from family because they are not understood (but still have a home and money), and do not have the values or principles I follow to give back to the world that rejects me, simply dismissing the world in a very “Us versus Them” mentality. They are not special, and the world doesn’t owe them. I and the TCKs share many challenges, but there are greater ways of relating besides past trauma and cultural barriers.

I am often the subject of controversy among TCKs, for I have written about us in textbooks, articles, and stories. Many of my friends who fall into the TCK framework found me through my writing, and I’ve had friendships as a result of this. But what kept us together wasn’t our shared suffering, but our shared values. And I again repeat: I am not special, I am not someone who will outgrow these experiences or the TCK label–they do not define the totality of me, but they explain a lot of the conditions that came together to create me. For that reason, despite how much I tried to explain to family and community that I am not like them, I am a Third Culture Kid, I also do not feel connected to the TCK label or community. They are closer to me than Americans or Asian Americans or Filipinos, but rarely do they align with me, for it’s not where I came from, it’s where I’m going, and it’s not what soil I climbed out of that made me, but what I will make out of the clay that I have gathered out of the earth as I rose from the dirt to gaze into the sky, determined that finding my place in the sun wasn’t enough and decided that my fate lay beyond the stars.

Part V: Lovers, Friends, and Fans

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I’ve had people walk in and out of my life, whether from just getting tired of me (and the reverse is true as well), or in some cases, dying.

My friends are people who have ranged from being lifelong friends (until they died) to people who served their purpose, and who only lasted the season (or phase) I knew them in.

It takes a lot to be my friend, because I’m intense, I won’t deny that, and for most people, they can’t handle it, even if they think they understand the complexities. I’m too alert and never relaxed some say, I am hard to categorize or understand, my views and opinions are too strange, and I ask too many questions or know too much.

What’s insulting is when people may respect me or admire me for what I have gone through, and are fans, what I call friends at a distance. I don’t need “Sometimes Friends” as I call them, I need people I can trust my life with if something happens. A Sometimes Friend might appreciate the parts of my story I share and my character, my principles and my intellect, my art and my accomplishments, but they don’t want to be close to me. They call me Bro and think that I can understand that it’s perfectly fine to not be close to me, but I have very little time to deal with people who want to take a picture, say they hung out with me, but don’t want to offer themselves in the same way I do all the time.

The reason I do have good friends is that I take genuine care in their lives despite my own struggles, and I make time for them. I do not have a lot of time or money, but I’ve been told that my integrity and genuine nature, kindness and intellect are what make the few people who love me want me in their lives. I give this to everyone, but I also do not throw pearls to swine. Sometimes Friends are basically fans who may care a bit, but are drowning in fear and afraid of what others might say by being around me. They do not like how I challenge their views or question their answers. I never tell them absolutes–I merely inquire and try to know and understand why and how their experience led them to hold certain views I find no use for, such as ethnic and national stereotypes as criteria for determining character. For this reason, people may see me as a know-it-all, but all I know with strong conviction is whatever I have experimented in that does not work for me.

Every phase is a season, and this is where I find many Sometimes Friends/fans are only there for when I am around, but once I am out of the country, I cease to exist except as a concept. If friendships are divided into seasons and reasons, the friends who are there for a reason are those who have hurt me or taught me lessons, especially those from seasons or those who weren’t part of the season.

From being cheated out of money to being backstabbed and used or abused, and influenced to adopt a certain way of thinking that fits into their world view of what they think is best for me and universal, I just never had people who believed what I endured, nor did I have those who trusted I could achieve greatness until very recently. This leads to more fans who in turn are nothing more than Sometimes Friends, and they still do not understand who I am or appreciate me. Do I care? At this point, no. I don’t need to endure this further, but I also am quite comfortable alone, and loneliness isn’t something I have too much of, despite calling myself Mr. Lonely earlier.

I used to hope to find someone who would be my soul mate and redeem me, one who validated me and appreciated me when nobody else could. But this was not what happened, I was either viewed as an exotic fling or treated as someone with baggage, or dismissed as someone who couldn’t fulfill their materialistic pettiness and refused to tolerate their abuse. Many ex-girlfriends assumed I was weak or unstable when the exotic fetish was not what they thought it was. They spent my money and knew my family sucked, they promised love, but behind my back, they cheated on me and slandered me, then abandoned me. Lovers for me never became replacement family, and at times, were no different from Sometimes Friends: they may be fans or just have some sort of fetish for whatever box they are able to put me in, but the closer they get, the farther they want to run because they are unable to appreciate or reciprocate.

I don’t look for love or validation from anything external nowadays. No girlfriend, no family, no degree, no career, no possessions–none of that can give me the love, validation, or happiness that all used to be absent in my life. It all has to come from within, and very few people can relate or understand. For those who do at least one and the even fewer who do both, it’s what makes my friendship with them all the more wonderful and fulfilling, and I have nothing but love and gratitude for them–even long after they have left me behind after dying.

Part VI: All My Friends Are Dead, But Nobody Cares

assholesIt’s no surprise that I’ve lost many friends over the years, from murder to suicide to bombing and terrorism. As recently as last year, I lost someone whom I truly loved and who in turn loved me deeply as well when he was murdered.

The difficulty of losing them is magnified because so few people exist who accept me as I am, do not judge me, try to help me, and maybe even understand me, all while guiding me towards self-improvement too. To talk about those who were kidnapped and murdered or those who died in church bombings, I remember an arrogant law student in Los Angeles merely said that “Everyone has problems and [I am] just a show-off, that what I went through isn’t important at all and doesn’t make me special.” I never tried to be special, but I certainly don’t need Los Angeles assholes trivializing my experience and dismissing it outright as insignificant as they talk about how awesome they are for being law school students at Marquette in Wisconsin.

Talking about my father’s death, people say that’s nice, they’re sorry to hear that, but some guy they are dating or some article they read and their recent career promotion or new pregnancy is really awesome. With individuals like this, why would I want to be around them or care about their pettiness as they make assumptions about me or dismiss and trivialize my life as nothing but a series of lies and attempts to garner attention?

The few people who were basically my family keep on getting taken from me. Nobody likes to go beyond their broad strokes and huge umbrella categories, because the truth is, very few people like to think, and if it is beyond their capacity to understand, they just outright condemn or dismiss it. At the same time, they try to get me to relate to their huge, broad groups out of obligation, whether it be American patriotism, ethnic pride, school spirit and exclusivity. I don’t need big groups, because there is very little connection beyond the superficial veil. There’s no sense of being part of a family or tight-knit circle, it’s just a big incestuous cave that doesn’t want to acknowledge the world outside. And instead of bringing me security, it brings my isolation and insulation, an illusion infiltrating reality.

But what do they know? It’s just entertainment to them, and because I don’t offer anyone escapism or validation, I’m not some profound news flash, I’m a dead channel that people immediately tune out by changing the channel to whatever distracts them better. This is human nature: change the channel, don’t face reality. Bury their heads in the ground like ostriches and pretend that whatever is there will go away, hoping it won’t bite them in the ass. This attitude, of course, was not just something that was said by people in the various communities and social circles I came across whom I theoretically belonged to, but also by my family.

Interlude: Forsaken

Sandman-Brief-Lives-Dream-blood-into-flowers-Jill-Thompson

When I have nothing left to feel
When I have nothing left to say
I’ll just let this slip away

I feel these engines power down
I feel this heart begin to bleed
As I turn this burning page

Please forgive me if I bleed
Please forgive me if I breathe
I have words I need to say
Oh so very much to say

And whose life do I lead?
And whose blood do I bleed?
Whose air do I breathe?
With whose skin now do I feel?

I’m supposed to walk away from here
I’m supposed to walk away from here

(Help me.)

And whose life do I lead?
Whose blood do I bleed?
Whose air do I now breathe?
I’m convinced there’s nothing more

The day you died I lost my way
The day you died I lost my mind

What am I supposed to do?
Is there something more?

The engines power down
Like a soldier to his end I go
Because I’m convinced
That there is nothing more

And whose life do I lead?
Whose air do I breathe?
With whose skin and whose blood do I feel?
What happens now?
Have I done something wrong?

Forgive my need to bleed right now
Please forgive my need to breathe
But I’ve so much to say
And it wouldn’t matter anyway
You’re not here to hear these words that I must say
And I’m convinced inside
That there is nothing more

Whose life do I lead?
Whose air do I breathe
Whose blood do I now bleed?
With whose skin now do I feel?

I have nothing left to say
I have nothing left to feel
Am I supposed to let this go now,
Let darkness come and take you away?

(If you’re frightened of dying, and you’re holding on
You’ll see the devils are tearing your life away.
If you’ve made your peace, then the devils are really angels
Freeing you from the earth.)

Part VII: Star Soldier on The Shores of Infinity

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Far away
The ship is taking me far away
Far away from the memories
Of the people who care if I live or die

The starlight
I will be chasing a starlight
Until the end of my life
I don’t know if it’s worth it anymore

Hold you in my arms
I just wanted to hold
You in my arms

My life
You electrify my life
Let’s conspire to ignite
All the souls that would die just to feel alive

Now I’ll never let you go
If you promised not to fade away
Never fade away

Our hopes and expectations
Black holes and revelations
Our hopes and expectations
Black holes and revelations

Hold you in my arms
I just wanted to hold
You in my arms

Far away
The ship is taking me far away
Far away from the memories
Of the people who care if I live or die

And I’ll never let you go
If you promise not to fade away
Never fade away

Our hopes and expectations
Black holes and revelations
Our hopes and expectations
Black holes and revelations

Hold you in my arms
I just wanted to hold
You in my arms
I just wanted to hold

All in all, I believe I still live in the best of all possible worlds and times, the here and now. Whatever has happened, I accept it as being part of some cosmic scheme that I am only fulfilling my duty in, for my ego is not me. When I gaze at the stars, I know that others wish upon them as well, long for love and answers too, and at the same time, the stars shine on everyone on this planet whether they are good or bad, happy or sad, privileged or poor. And at least I can pretend that perhaps in this universe, as Carl Sagan might say, for all the people whom I can’t stand, there are no other people in the known universe who are exactly like them, or any other planet where anyone like them would exist–they are all unique and exist for not even a nanosecond of life. And if I’m all alone down here, then there really is nobody else like me, and the more I should be thankful for all that I have gone through, because I’m a soldier who still continues to shine on through the darkness and tries to give the few good people and believers out there a little hope that someone does give a damn and has endured Hell and more, yet continues to be one of the good guys (or at least tries to for now).

I’ve been told that I am delusional and need to drop this world view where to others, I appear to believe I am a superhero. Maybe I do, and there’s nothing wrong with that–it’s what inspires me because I know I’m strong enough to endure what most people would be unable to go through themselves and remain both disciplined and determined enough to still strive to improve and be better while serving others instead of lashing out and destroying the world that rejects them. And apparently, fairly recently, psychologists are using superhero therapy to encourage people to conquer their demons too. It’s also no surprise that most heroes are weirdos, too. This is who I am–deal with it.

Regardless, I’m here now. I haven’t given up or given in, and even if I’ve had my moments and walk alone, I’m going to continue doing my best to do the right thing. This fight is mine to win, and when my life inevitably ends, they won’t think of me for the family that mistreated me, the communities that disowned me, the societies that alienated me, or the people who abandoned me. I do not see myself as a pariah, nor do I think that I will one day become some messiah.

No: I’m a traveler, and I’m going to keep doing what’s right because up to now, whatever has happened to keep me alive throughout this ephemeral existence, there must be a reason for it, and I might as well see it through to the very end. And if I make it to the end, I hope to not only earn some peace, but deserve it by striving to do what is right even when I have been wronged throughout my life. And if anyone were to remember me, I’d rather it be for what I have given to this universe rather than what I have been deprived of in this life.

Hope is the key, compassion is the banner of the righteous man

Hope is the key, compassion is the banner of the righteous man

Epilogue: Invictus (Unconquerable)

“To every man upon this earth
Death cometh soon or late.
And how can man die better
Than facing fearful odds,
For the ashes of his fathers,
And the temples of his gods,
And for the tender mother
Who dandled him to rest,
And for the wife who nurses
His baby at her breast,
And for the holy maidens
Who feed the eternal flame,
To save them from false Sextus
That wrought the deed of shame?” – Horatius, XXVII-XXVIII

“Society is not like a machine that is created at some point in time and then maintained with a minimum of effort; it is continuously re-created, for good or ill, by its members. This will strike some as a burdensome responsibility, but it will summon others to greatness.” – John Gardner

“Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, it’s at the end of your arm; as you get older, remember you have another hand: the first is to help yourself, the second is to help others.” – Audrey Hepburn

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” -Mahatma Gandhi

“What is the use of living, if it be not to strive for noble causes and to make this muddled world a better place for those who will live in it after we are gone? How else can we put ourselves in harmonious relation with the great verities and consolations of the infinite and the eternal? And I avow my faith that we are marching towards better days. Humanity will not be cast down. We are going on swinging bravely forward along the grand high road and already behind the distant mountains is the promise of the sun.” – Winston Churchill

“Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.” – William Ernest Henley

“You – you alone will have the stars as no one else has them…In one of the stars I shall be living. In one of them I shall be laughing. And so it will be as if all the stars were laughing, when you look at the sky at night…You – only you – will have stars that can laugh.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

destruction6

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