“The core of understanding lies in the individual mind, and until that is touched everything is uncertain and superficial. Truth cannot be perceived until we come to fully understand our potential and ourselves. After all, knowledge in the martial arts ultimately means self-knowledge.” (Lee)
A good friend told me recently that I’m “wrestling with a lot of big, difficult demons”. She was right. I appreciate this friend’s patience with me over the last year as I endured one of the most perplexing personal cycles in recent memory.
Reinventing yourself is an uncomfortable scrum that some don’t survive. Some lose themselves along the way and become the big (or small) demons they sought to control.
Or, some don’t survive at all. Like my friend Clark, who evidently drank himself to death recently. Clark was a middle-aged father, artist and groovy human who I didn’t know well, but knew well enough to appreciate him as a friend. He drifted into the bottle and then into oblivion. All around me, the demons seem to be winning. Ending lives too early. Twisting great people into savages, saints into sycophants, artists into martyrs. Lulling the populous into a sleepy nod and compliant gaud.
“Don’t be that guy”, I tell myself, while feel my tread slipping on the icy roads of a frozen life.
Is this the slippery view from inside the midlife crisis, or true recognition of what it means to be human? Not an American. Not a census demographic. Not a number in the system. Not directionally accurate or balanced. Not even.
Not normal. “Don’t be that guy”, I tell myself, but find that I’m surrounded by chaos, lies and deplorable people who claim to be normal, but are anything but.
But what does it mean to be human then? Which influence should we follow?
Without a paternal figure, coach, counselor, guiding light or guardian angel (as my Mom likes to say I have), it is easy to lose yourself to the battle inside, succumb to the cacophony of selfish voices shouting for dominance. We need to be careful of which voice we follow – angel or demon – as each has motive and will to manipulate.
In truth, my demons are comfortable company. The angels of our world are as imperfect as we are; the only difference is that their secrets are shielded behind scripture, gilded walls and pious wings.
I would rather bloodlet heaven than add my cruor to its pool.
And so I keep the company of demons. In many places of our civilized world, that position makes me an outcast, a target for violence or inquisition, and/or an antagonist. Even now, taking stands against the disingenuous and draining circles of our human civilization results in being labeled “counter” or “liberal” or “evil”.
While I certainly am a liberal person, I do so with the best overall endstate for humanity in mind, knowing the challenges we all face as imperfect beasts in a flawed, fauxed system. We all grow old. We all fall apart. We all die. But we live most of our lives pushed to spend resources as if we are going to live forever.
Live beyond our means, arteries and beltlines. Live bigger, flashier, best.
I died in my 20s, and have been living in bonus time since that point. Time that wasn’t gifted to me by loved ones, by science, by angels nor demons. A creator wasn’t involved, or if one was, it must answer for the 13 years of hell I endured.
This time I have was gifted to me by the fight itself. As long as you don’t give up the fight, you’re still in it, present for the punches and temporary victories. Screw the Holy Wars, the World Wars, the generational wars, financial wars and cultural wars.
Your demons may usher you to the ring, but the greatest fight that exists is with yourself. You against you.
I am reminded of a poem I wrote a decade ago when I was very ill, battling with a chronic condition that never let me sleep a full night, eat a regular meal or feel like a normal human. Much of this experience is captured in poetical and metaphorical (and sometimes graphic) ways in my first book “Obscurious“, which was how I voided my darkness. Due to the severity of the condition at the time, I would regularly void blood, often leaving me anemic and exhausted. When you’re fading, the fight is both physical and mental, between angels that claim they can save you, and demons that offer you exit from your pain.
The tussle between heaven and hell – between a life that civilization told me I was to strive for, and the daily reality that was starkly different – turned into a war between my identities – past, present and future. Sometimes, I feel like Pollux who sacrificed his immortality for his dying twin; and sometimes I feel like Castor, the lesser brother of an immortal who was never as good as his twin, yet shares in the brilliance of his glow.
In reality, I am both, tightly intertwined in a wrestle for survival and radiance.
A human should not spend their life on the edge of oblivion, stricken with the disease of death and the void of hope. Remember, according to the Biblical myths, the Devil was once an angel too. Perhaps we create the demons around us by our actions and distractions, causes and affectations.
The jagged nature of the text is intentional. The twins of humanity are twisted in conflict. The struggle is real.
Follow at your own risk.
this con stant
con flict with
the nether me
the better me
that I see
in dire dreams
from my eyes in
he is two
we ak and
con stantly and
curse, this con stant
hell, pray tell,
how does one
murder a similar