Tag Archives: the human experience

Dirty Work

I need a shovel.
Someone get me a shovel.
Please, quickly, I’m begging you!
Get me a shovel!

Will anyone stop this relentless slinging of dirt?

Clawing at the walls with soiled nails. Suffocating from dust filled lungs. Tasting bitter, hand-sown layers of the purest, natural earth.

With my spade to the ground, I stamp my foot down and slice the blade through. My arms heavy with the weight of my burden, lift a shovel’s worth and toss it away. My calloused palms tighten their grip. I repeat: Stamp my foot, slice the surface, lift and toss.

I hear a hissing. “Your efforts are wasted.”

Stamp, slice, lift, toss…
I mop my forehead with a swipe of my arm.
Stamp, slice, lift, toss…

I hear the sound a second time. The s’s are drawn-out like a serpents coil just before striking. “Go ahead, dig faster. Your sweat will only turn the soil into mud.”

Stamp, slice, lift, toss…
My body aches with every exertion of my energy.
Stamp, slice, lift, toss…

The voice finds its way in, “What do you hope to unearth that hasn’t already been dredged up?”

Stamp my foot on the metal edge, slice the surface, lift and toss…
Stamp, slice, lift, toss…

“Foolish undertaking. The holes you dig will bury you.”

Stamp, slice, lift, toss…
Stamp, slice, lift, toss…

 

-CS

 

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Why Do I Write?

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Incredible, isn’t it—that we are able to explain what the mind imagines with a pen or keyboard? If you think about it, there is a hell of a lot of time and space between our brain and our fingertips. I like to think that extra distance is a gift. I’m able to express thoughts and ideas in a way I am not capable otherwise; streaming out the words one by one with clarity and conviction much like a fierce water current.

Often my writing serves as a form of therapy. My mind is a churning, boiling pot of thoughts and providing it with a point of focus allows steam to escape through to freedom. A break from the constant sloshing, I like how my writing seems to keep me in the present moment. Recently, I was introduced to a quote from Lao Tzu that says, “If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.”

Even if I’m writing about a memory from the past or an idea about the future, my brain chooses to focus on the words. I focus on the way in which I sew them together, the art of writing. And so I stay in my skin, in my body, in the chair I sit. In the moment. Focus for a busy brain is like the sensation felt after removing a heavy backpack from one’s shoulders: relief.

Writing is my friend, my colleague and my coach. It reminds me that I’m intelligent, thoughtful and authentic. It challenges me to be bold, to take chances, to be creative and to have a voice when my vocal chords fail me. It teaches me lessons about life, about others, about myself while bathing me in sunlight and pouring water down into my roots; forever supporting and encouraging my stalk to grow taller.

Writing gives me the opportunity to feel like I’m serving a greater purpose. If I fold my genuine, honest, passionate and love-filled work into a paper airplane and send it flying out into the universe, I feel that for the most part only good things can come from it. I aim to see it as I’m doing my part to spread good in the world no matter how small or insignificant I feel at times.

Happiness is found in the thrill of stringing the right words together to mean exactly what I’m thinking, in an artfully crafted fashion. It is in the smug smile brought to my mouth after using a word correctly based on its definition before I’ve checked it on dictionary.com. Happiness is in the eternal hope that another person may feel something from words on a page. From my words.

If you think about it, there is a hell of a lot of time and space between my words on a page and the brain of another human being. Incredible, isn’t it—the idea that my own creation could be the source of inspiration in another, given the distance?

 

-CS

Round One

I put my gloves on
They smell the same
Like layer upon layer
Of flesh and sweat
Frozen in time

Like the old me and the new me
Thrown in the ring together
Opponents of the rawest kind

I sit here rolling through the film
Imagining what it might be like
To punch through this wall

Instead I slump against it
I feel the impact
My head lulling forward
After it’s been knocked backward
I taste salt
Licking my freshly opened wounds

My breathing is labored
I suck in the air in front of me
I let the blows exhale
Inside a cloud of smoke

What’s it gonna be?
Will you stay down there
On your ass
Will you rise up
On your feet

 

The bell sounds again

-CS

 

 

 

The Words I Never Said

There you are, stunned. Frozen to the very ground you stand on like a man made of snow who’s been left alone after all the cheerful, rosy-cheeked children have gone inside.

Muscles immobilized, heart or stomach (at that moment it’s uncertain which) beneath your feet, limbs hanging on by thin threads…

In the middle of a winter snow storm, everything stops.

The only sound is the silent, suffocating, choking on all the words that refuse to release themselves from your throat.

Have you been there?

Before any one clear thought or emotion can bubble itself to the surface, feeling as if you’re trapped inside a tumbling, swirling snow globe filled with a thousand emotions leaving you simultaneously nauseous and paralyzed…

I have.

In my circumstance, I was hurt by someone with whom I had shared a very close bond. When I had my last and final conversation with that person, I found that I was at a loss for words. Overwhelmed by shock, anger and grief it seemed the only words I could find were, “What happened?! Explain to me what happened!” I spewed them on repeat like I was an improperly programmed robot.

I replay that conversation in my mind over and over again until I feel sick to my stomach, haunted by the words I never said. I feel ashamed, I feel foolish. I feel smaller than a speck of glitter floating around the inside of that snow globe. I find myself wishing that I could have a do-over.

If I could push the reset button and my interaction was played out just as I wanted, would I feel better? Would that bring me peace?

For anyone who wishes they could go back in time and say the words that needed to be said, I can’t give you a time machine and I can’t bring you peace, but I can give you comfort and acceptance. Comfort in the knowledge that you are not alone, and acceptance from one who has endured the same method of torture. It doesn’t matter if it’s been 20 years since, or 20 minutes. Your words have infinite value. Your words matter because they matter to me.

I don’t know who you are or your individual situation, but I promise you, your words are precious stones. Not all those you encounter deserve to hang them on a chain around their neck.

-CS

Sleeping Beauty

In the darkest room
warm puffy cheeks
eyes beneath closed curtains
ripe lips sealed
perfect pristine figurine lying unaware, untouched

Come, crawl into bed with your Sleeping Beauty

I’ll dream I’m awake
that I have wings, that I’m soaring
and I turn my head and see you flying beside me

I’ll dream I’m awake
that you wrap my hands carefully and intently with yours
and your sweet, assuring voice
recites the indisputable equation
two plus two can only equal four
no more

I’ll dream I’m awake
that you see me, and I see you
and we are both alive

I’ll keep dreaming
And you keep sleeping

-CS

Yes, I’ll have the retrospect with a side of introspect

Dear 11 year old self,

Don’t worry about the kid that takes advantage of your quietness, because you don’t know how to stand up for yourself yet. Don’t worry about the girls standing in a giggling bunch by the bleachers, jeering because you’re not allowed to shave your legs yet. Don’t worry about feeling different, like you’ll never fit in.

You will learn to speak your mind. One day you will know what it means to have a voice and to speak with conviction. One day you will be able to make your own choices. One day you will choose compassion over ridicule because you know what it feels like to lumber in those shoes. You will know that you are different from all others, and you will learn it is the greatest gift you will ever receive.

Dear 27 year old self,

People will come into your life strangers and familiar faces, and not all of them will be with you for the duration of your journey. It won’t always be clear why your path crosses with theirs, why you walk alongside one another for however long it may be. Sometimes it won’t be easy, parting ways with a fellow traveler when your paths diverge.

Know in your heart that this is truth: you have been walking for *27 years. For 27 years you have lived, learned, loved, suffered, experienced, fell onto your hands and knees, got back up on your feet and kept walking. You have made the choice time and time again to put one foot in front of the other. Out of all of the people that walk with you—those that no longer do, the ones that continue to, and those that may in the future, not a single one could ever take those steps for you or from you.

No matter the events that transpired you have never stopped walking. You’ve come a hell of a long way and you’ve got a lengthy stretch of road ahead of you. Persevere my dear, YOU have built this person made for conquering.

-CS

*Now 28, I wrote this prior to waving goodbye to 27. The timing was perfect.

For those of us still having birthdays

This is the first birthday I can ever remember feeling unsettled about my age. Does everyone go through some sort of crisis as they draw nearer to 30? I’m certainly not where I thought I would be nor where I want to be. I’m not necessarily unhappy with the way things have turned out up until this point. It’s just that all of a sudden it feels as if someone flipped over the hourglass labeled Brittni’s Life kickstarting the steady, streaming descent of sand. I don’t recall signing any paperwork authorizing this. I demand unlimited flips for the rest of time, thank you very much. No? That’s not how this works?

Previous birthdays were spent celebrating milestones with each new age giving rise to exciting new found freedoms and independence. What now? I find myself frustrated and at times sick to my stomach because not only do I feel so far away from my goals, but my birthday is a bright yellow sticky note stuck to the inside of my eyelids reminding me that I have less time to reach them. I have less time to be young, less time to have new experiences. I could worry myself into a mental institution obsessing over lost time, or a more likely scenario, hinder my progress taking active steps towards my aspirations.

Here’s where I try to turn my thinking around: Why am I putting so much emphasis on what I have not yet accomplished, rather than celebrating the life that has been lived thus far? Your birthday is a celebration of the experiences you’ve had and lessons you have learned. Instead of fixating yourself on turning another year older, celebrate the person you’ve become.

Celebrate with the people who love you, the ones who think you’re great even when you’re not. Celebrate not the years, but the moments that have come to pass. Celebrate solo. Truly celebrate yourself. Feel the weight of what you carry on your back, good and bad, all that you are is worth celebrating.

-CS