How Starved You Must Have Been That My Heart Became A Meal For Your Ego

When a narcissist says “I love you,” they mean that they love the way they feel when you work hard to make them happy.

They love how easy it is to take advantage of your generosity, compassion and kindness. They derive pleasure when they make themselves feel superior to you, and make you feel insignificant and small.

They love the feeling it gives them seeing you as emotionally crazy, weak, and vulnerable, as, in their view, your gullibility, innocence and childlike desires prove your inferiority and weakness.

They love how easy it is to use gaslighting or other manipulation techniques to make you do what they want. They love the feeling it gives them making you doubt yourself or question your own sanity. They also love the feeling it gives them making you feel “crazy” for asking and bringing up issues that they are not interested in.

They only care about themselves, and they love the way they feel when you carry all the load of the relationship. They also care about you in the sense that you give them something, so they love you for that.

They love the fact that your life is all about them. You solve their issues, fix their problems, and relieve their pain.

They love how easy it is to keep your primary focus on relieving their pain (and not yours!), and that, no matter what you do, you will never make them feel good enough, appreciated enough, loved enough, etc.

They love the way they feel when you are with them, seeing you as their possession, as a piece of property they own. They love the extent to which you improve their status in the eyes of other people.

They love the way they feel when you feed their ego, their sense of self-worth, and give your full attention to them. They love the power they have to make you work hard to prove your devotion, loyalty and love.

They love the way they feel when they are with you. As they tend to look down on and hate other people, the mirror neurons in their brain cause them to experience feelings of self-loathing; so they love that they can love themselves through you.

They love how easy it is to criticize you; criticize what is important to you, such as your religion, your family and your friends; and make you believe that you are worth nothing and that you have to stay with them.

“Since narcissists deep down feel themselves to be faultless, it is inevitable that when they are in conflict with the world they will invariably perceive the conflict as the world’s fault.”
— M. Scott Peck

“Narcissism is a grave condition of insecurity and desperately feeling unloved and unacceptable. An individual with Narcissistic Personality Disorder inherently believes they are ‘damaged goods’ and fears other individuals will discover the truth: that they feel powerless. Thus the narcissist invests a great deal of energy into ‘gaining the upper hand’, to hide feeling vulnerable, insecure and broken. When they are getting what they want, the charm is flowing and plentiful. When the charm doesn’t work the intimidation begins. Narcissism is categorized as an unhealthy level of self-absorption and a lack of empathy regarding how their insecure, aggressive and damaging behavior affects the world around them.”
— Melanie Tonia Evans

“Relationships with narcissists are held in place by hope of a ‘someday better,’ with little evidence to support it will ever arrive.”
— Ramani Durvasula

“Sadly, when many individuals realize that the narcissist is insecure and isn’t reassured, they try harder to love this person. Additionally, the narcissist blames his her behavior on something that you are or aren’t doing, and a hooked person we may try to ‘do it better’ or ‘get it right.’ Your increased efforts to love and fix the narcissist only lines you up for more abuse.”
— Melanie Tonia Evans

“When I look at narcissism through the vulnerability lens, I see the shame-based fear of being ordinary. I see the fear of never feeling extraordinary enough to be noticed, to be lovable, to belong, or to cultivate a sense of purpose.”
— Brené Brown

Often the narcissist believes that other people are “faking it”, leveraging emotional displays to achieve a goal. He is convinced that their ostensible “feelings” are grounded in ulterior, non-emotional motives. Faced with other people’s genuine emotions, the narcissist becomes suspicious and embarrassed. He feels compelled to avoid emotion-tinged situations, or worse, experiences surges of almost uncontrollable aggression in the presence of expressed sentiments. They remind him how imperfect he is and how poorly equipped. ― Sam Vaknin

Narcissists will never tell you the truth. They live with the fear of abandonment and can’t deal with facing their own shame. Therefore, they will twist the truth, downplay their behavior, blame others and say whatever it takes to remain the victim. They are master manipulators and con-artists that don’t believe you are smart enough to figure out the depth of their disloyalty. Their needs will always be more important than telling you any truth that isn’t in their favor..” ― Shannon L. Alder

“People with NPD have a strong need, in every area of their life, to be treated as if they’re special. To those with NPD, other people are simply mirrors, useful only insofar as they reflect back the special view of themselves they so desperately long to see. If that means making others look bad by comparison—say, by ruining their reputation at work—so be it. Because life is a constant competition, they’re also usually riddled with envy over what other people seem to have. And they’ll let you know” ― >Bandy X Lee

“Playing the victim role: Manipulator portrays him- or herself as a victim of circumstance or of someone else’s behavior in order to gain pity, sympathy or evoke compassion and thereby get something from another. Caring and conscientious people cannot stand to see anyone suffering and the manipulator often finds it easy to play on sympathy to get cooperation.”
― George K. Simon

“There’s a reason narcissists don’t learn from mistakes and that’s because they never get past the first step which is admitting that they made one. It’s always somebody else’s fault, a lawyer’s fault. Ask them to account for a mistake any other way and they’ll say, ‘what mistake?”― Jeffrey Kluger

You get discarded as a supply for one of two reasons: They find you too outspoken about their abuse. They prefer someone that will keep stroking their ego and remain their silent doormat. Or, they found a new narcissistic supply. Either way, you can count on the fact that they planned your devaluation phase and the smear campaign in advance, so they could get one more ego stroke with your reaction. Narcissists are angry, spiteful takers that don’t have empathy, remorse or conscience. They are incapable of unconditional love. Love to them is giving only when it serves them. They gaslight their victims by minimizing the trauma they have caused by blaming others or stating you are too sensitive. They never feel responsible or will admit to what they did to you. They have disordered thinking that is concerned with their needs and ego. It is not uncommon for them to hack their targets, in order to gain information about them. They enjoy mind games and control. This is their dopamine high. The sooner you distance yourself the healthier you will become. Narcissism can’t be cured or prayed away. It is a mental disorder that turns the victims of its abuse into mental patients because it causes so much psychological manipulation.”
― Shannon L. Alder

Narcissistic entitlement has nothing to do with genuine self-esteem, which comes from real accomplishment and being true to one’s own ideals. Individuals who feel entitled to respect without giving it in return, or who expect rewards without effort, or a life free of discomfort, are forfeiting any power they might have to shape their own destiny. They assume an essentially passive role and count on outside forces to make them happy. When what they expect doesn’t happen, they feel impotent. By claiming entitlement, they demand to live in the fantasy world of the one-year-old child. No wonder they’re enraged. ― Sandy Hotchkiss

“I found peace of mind when I walked away from small fights not worth fighting. I stopped fighting for people who gossiped about me. I stopped fighting for those who didn’t respect me. I quit worrying about those who wouldn’t value me for being me.”
― Dana Arcuri

Article from Optimal Positivity Quotes from Goodreads

If You Were Lucky

“I thought of all the others who had tried to tie her to the ground and failed. So I resisted showing her the songs and poems I had written, knowing that too much truth can ruin a thing. And if that meant she wasn’t entirely mine, what of it? I would be the one she could always return to without fear of recrimination or question. So I did not try to win her and contented myself with playing a beautiful game. But there was always a part of me that hoped for more, and so there was a part of me that was always a fool.”

The above quote reminds of Glen and George whom I’ve met on two separate occasions with years in between. The first when I was a teenager (with decades of experience being forced to grow up fast) and the latter during my wild episodes. George said he didn’t want to start something with me because I was just passing and he had no intention of nursing a broken heart when I’m gone. The night before I left while we were walking around the neighborhood, he confessed that he regretted his decision and called himself a fool for not taking advantage of the time he could spend with me creating memories he could hold onto when everything is over. Glen, I wrote his story here. Some of it anyway.

Guys are funny. With their notions and expectations. Why not just enjoy the ride and make most of the experience while it lasts.

No?

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It’s Okay to want to Live a Slow & Quiet Life.

How often do you question if the life you are currently living is the life that feels most authentic to you?

One of the biggest questions I’ve mulled over the last eight months is, “What kind of life do I really want?”

As I pick through the versions of the lives I’ve lived over the last 15 years, what I keep coming back to is a life founded on simplicity. The life that resonates the most with me was a time I lived on a 50-acre vineyard and farm. My days felt like molasses—a slow, steady, and sweet flow.

It was a life of less in many ways but full of so much more richness because I was away from the busyness of life that is easy to get caught up in. I had time to experience the slow beauty of what was around me, the warm, summer breeze weaving between the apple trees, the distance cries from my flock of sheep, and green grass as it tickled my feet when I walked in it.

Back in January of 2019, I started hearing a quiet voice in the back of my head, “simplify Amanda,” but this idea was counterintuitive to everything buzzing around me. Aren’t we supposed to want it all? Aren’t we supposed to “hustle” and “work hard to play harder?”

After a series of meltdowns brought me to make an appointment with a psychiatrist, I knew that I had to make some changes because the alternative wasn’t something I could afford. My health had come to mean something so different to me after I went through cancer two years prior.

Everything inside of me knew I was living an inauthentic life. One that was out of alignment with who I truly was.

So, against what felt like the responsible thing to do, I had a long conversation with my employer and cut back my hours, as the role was causing me a lot of unnecessary stress that I just didn’t have the bandwidth or mental clarity to handle. We also realized that the role I was in wasn’t one that allowed me to flourish. As he put it, “You’re an artist, Amanda, not a Project Manager.” So, in the interim, as I was “figuring out what’s next” I created a list of tasks that I would be able to focus on as I worked on healing my body and mind and explored some of my own dreams.

My ego-mind told me a lot of stories to feed my constant worry, but my heart and my soul felt a new sense of empowerment as I leveled up my self-worth and leaned into who I really was.

I know this isn’t always possible in every work situation. I’m lucky that I’ve been able to work from home for employers who value well-being; however, at some point, every one of us has to prioritize our mental and physical health. I tend to believe that if there is a will, there is a way, and sometimes you have to ask for what you truly want and deserve.

I removed email and Facebook from my phone. Yup, you read that right. I no longer get emails or Facebook on my phone, and I periodically delete Instagram.

At some point along the road of technological advancements, we decided that being available 24-7 was okay and healthy. I’m here to tell you it absolutely is not. You are allowed to have boundaries. You do not have to be connected all the time. I stand by this through and through, and I’ve felt healthier, happier, and more in alignment ever since.

I’ve also decluttered my closets and house about 10 times, getting rid of any and everything that doesn’t feel like me and my most authentic being. If I wear the same 10 articles of clothing every week, well, so be it. Nobody really cares anyway.

I had to get really present with my goals as a small business owner, as a creative, and an artist. It’s easy to be led to believe that we should want a life full of achievements, including stuff, but what kept coming back to me over and over was this idea of a simple life with just enough to keep me feeling like myself.

So, what if all I want is a simple life? What does that really mean anyway?

I had to let go of the story I created that I had to be some big-time #bosslady or build my empire. What I realized was I don’t actually want to run an empire. I want a life doing work that feeds my soul while paying all my bills and saving for a rainy day.

I want a life that allows me to create my art and write really well.

Something that supports me in paying off my debts.

A life that allows me to live in a way that feels like me, and provide me with the means to help others too.

But mostly, what I truly want is to walk barefoot in the grass with the ones I love, free from the constant pressure to be anything other than me. This involved simplifying my current life significantly.

The greatest change in my life, however, has been my recent decision to leave the Southern California beach town where I’ve lived for the past four and a half years and move to Northern California to live in a yurt on a goat farm.

During that time, I kept hearing the quiet whispers from my soul—it had been leading me the whole time. I feel most like myself on a farm and on land surrounded by tall trees and changing seasons, and I can’t afford to not live in a way that feels most like me any longer.

You see, I don’t think many of us were actually made for the hustle, “work hard to play harder” way of life as is evident with the rise of mental and physical illness in the more recent years. Despite being overly connected to a plethora of resources that are supposed to help us stay healthy, stay skinny, stay sane, and stay happy—all with the click of one of the five thousand apps on our phones—I think we’ve overcomplicated our lives and grown incredibly disconnected.

Simplifying my own life over the last eight months has made me more present to the fact that so many others are feeling called back to this way as well.

So, I’m here to give you permission. It’s okay to not want to build an empire. It’s okay to not want all the things we are told to want in order to be happy. And it’s definitely okay to be content just wanting a simple and slow way of life.

AUTHOR: AMANDA WHITWORTH

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An Open Letter To Those Who Have No Ambition, No Goals, And No Dreams

I get it. I get the feelings of emptiness, the feeling of pointlessness, even the hell of having given it your all and failed.

I get the unhappiness, the self-recrimination, the fear, the frustration, the confusion, and the sick irony that you know you would be amazing if the world made even just a little sense.

Because it’s not that you don’t have ambitions, goals, and dreams; those dreams just haven’t fit into the slots and boxes of old systems and preconceived notions.

You don’t even consider yourself a maverick in any kind of way. What kind of narcissistic fool actively thinks of themselves as a maverick? But, well, the world attaches a lot of silly stuff to ambitions, goals, and dreams.

You’re supposed to be type-A go-getter material! On the job, on the climb, networking, branching and leaning in and synergizing and earning plaudits before eventually winding up on the lecture circuit telling others in your field how they, too, can follow your path.

You’re supposed to reach for the moon, grab it, sell condos on it, then off to Venus for the next round of real estate.

But what if your ambition is simply to live? And by live, I mean experience each moment by being inside each moment, not with an eye for future benefits.

My guess is you’ve heard a variation of the “If he’d only apply himself, he could be a star” speech of concern from family and friends, which assumes that money and stature are your goals.

And because you’re not seeking those out, you’re circling the slow drain of impending failure, yes?

Listen to me now and hear me later: if you’re able to live without being a financial or emotional burden on others, you’re already doing something right. Hell, that counts as a huge win in a world which seems intent on grinding 99% of us into usable dust.

On the outside, it might look like you’ve given up, but on the inside, there’s a full-on war. Your mental forces would put Legolas at the battle of Helms Deep to shame.

And don’t act like you haven’t seen the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Samwise’s speech to the battered and exhausted Frodo has kept you going many a night:

It’s like in the great stories of Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were, and sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened?

But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer.

Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something. Even if you were too small to understand why.

But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back only they didn’t. Because they were holding on to something.

What looks like no ambition, goals, or dreams to the outside world is a battle to assert and hold on to your place in it.

So don’t give up.

Please don’t give up.

Ambition. Ambition has to come from inside you. It’s not poured into you, it’s not taught by a wise elder. It’s the answer to the question: What are you doing with life itself today?

Only Y-O-U make the effort to bridge the answer to that question outward. If you’ve momentarily forgotten that effort, let me ask this: What do you enjoy? Not just what do you enjoy doing, what do you enjoy, period?

Because whatever that is, it means you want to see more of that in the world. You want people to enjoy it just as much as you.

Somehow, what is inside you has to connect with that increase to make it out into the world.

The cliché is “sharing is caring,” but you do, you freaking care. You want to give people the moon, not for condos, but for the best walk of their lives.

The best ambition in the world is to somehow want to present the world to others in better shape than most find it.

Do you see now that your ambitions are about as awesome as awesome can get? Ennui is temporary; passion, that deep, soul passion, is not.

Some part of you wants to bring about that shared awesomeness. How do we do this? Surefire way: fuse that feeling that you’re gonna burst to an adaptive and flowing plan of action.

That synthesis becomes Goals.

Goals are attainable. Don’t let anyone tell you they aren’t. Don’t buy into the noise of hardship, disappointment, and failure.

The noise is hypnotic; it mires you to stopping points and unfocuses your eyes. The noise is an active deterrent; hardship, disappointment, and failure, however, are not.

There is no way to escape hardship, disappointment, and failure. No running from them. Not for anyone. No matter how well you’ve stretched, how tightly you’ve tied your shoelaces, and how well you know the landscape, you’ll trip.

So how about another cliché? Do you get up?

And after you get up, do you keep going or do you shuffle off to the side so that other runners can get by?

Do you feel foolish for ever having thought you could run?

Doubts. We all have a few. A lot. Guess what? I’m doubting myself right now. I don’t know that I have the tools, know-how, or depth of compassion to reach you… but I won’t stop trying. I haven’t given up on trying.

I suspect neither, have you. People looking at you might think you’ve given up, but they don’t see the wheels turning a thousand miles a minute in your head, trying to figure a way out of a maze of external expectations.

Maybe they’ve forgotten how much it hurts to fall while running, and forgotten that healing takes some time. Maybe they need a reminder that nothing’s over till it’s over. Maybe they need a hundred different comfortable clichés to use as elbow and knee pads next time out.

Maybe you do too.

Or maybe you want to think about who you are, where you want to be, and how to get there. It’s not impossible to do either one of those. You think about it every night. It’s called dreaming. When they say “We have a dream,” it’s just projecting our lives onto a bigger screen.

Basically: Who you gonna be, where you gonna be, and out of all those chances you’ve had to turn back, are you gonna hold on to one and say, “This is now me”?

A Hobbit sitting on the side of the road?

I think not.

That’s not you.

Not when you know there’s magic inside you.

Not when you know you’re a warrior.

Not when you know you have the potential to quest for things barely dreamed of.

Not when you know that if you’re smart enough to rest, you can run any distance ever thought of and that if you’re honest enough to know that you’re hurting, you take the necessary actions to heal.

Samwise didn’t give that speech to Frodo because he had some keen interest in danger and long, arduous journeys. His eyes were on the goal after the danger: home.

“Home” is wherever your sense of possibility and creation waits for you to settle down and dream.

So the question you have to ask yourself is, where do you live?

~Borrowed article from Conscious ReThink

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ThumbelOona

You’re growing so fast Sunshine

Your clothes are getting smaller

Your face changing

You are getting bigger

Not in a conventional sense

But you are growing alright

Growing into Oona size

Thumbelina size

Forever

Compact slight petite

Tiny slight pint-sized

All elfin features perfect

A miniature person

Small beautiful Unique

I love the way your toes curl when I kiss them. I love how you look at people with your scrutinizing gaze as if you are studying them weighing knowing understanding. I love the sound of your voice when you are trying to convey your feelings in your own way, without words. I love how you smile when you hear your favorite song and how you listen attentively when your mother read you stories. I love the way your big eyes light up when you are happy and the way your eyelashes touch your cheeks when you’re asleep.

I want you to be happy and healthy Sunshine. I want you to be safe. I hope they are taking care of you properly. You will always be in my heart. I will always be here when you need me. I love you my Oona. My ThumbelOona.

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The False Grinning Faces We All Wear

“I’ve never been lonely. I’ve been in a room — I’ve felt suicidal. I’ve been depressed. I’ve felt awful — awful beyond all — but I never felt that one other person could enter that room and cure what was bothering me…or that any number of people could enter that room. In other words, loneliness is something I’ve never been bothered with because I’ve always had this terrible itch for solitude. It’s being at a party, or at a stadium full of people cheering for something, that I might feel loneliness. I’ll quote Ibsen, “The strongest men are the most alone.” I’ve never thought, “Well, some beautiful blonde will come in here and give me a fuck-job, rub my balls, and I’ll feel good.” No, that won’t help. You know the typical crowd, “Wow, it’s Friday night, what are you going to do? Just sit there?” Well, yeah. Because there’s nothing out there. It’s stupidity. Stupid people mingling with stupid people. Let them stupidify themselves. I’ve never been bothered with the need to rush out into the night. I hid in bars because I didn’t want to hide in factories. That’s all. Sorry for all the millions, but I’ve never been lonely. I like myself. I’m the best form of entertainment I have. Let’s drink more wine!”

― Charles Bukowski

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A Quote that will either Utterly Depress or Completely Inspire You.

By Emily Bartran

I should probably preface this by saying that to see the beauty in this quote, you might have to be a little dark and twisted.

Not, like, Marla Singer dark and twisted.

Just enough to acknowledge that life, in its entirety, is as tragic as it is joyous, as painfully lonely as it is rich with love and friendship and serendipitous-bordering-on-fateful connection, and as unconcerned with our individual sufferings as it is generous with extra servings of the good stuff.

Basically, it’s an unpredictable mess, but it’s the only unpredictable mess we’ve got, and at the end of the day it’s usually pretty enjoyable.

I struggle, sometimes, to remember the latter halves of all those extremes life seems to hand us—you know, the halves that are actually good. Instead, I get caught up in the waiting game: once this is over I’ll be happy again, when I move here it will be easier to make friends, my life will really get started once I do this/that/the other.

Instead of figuring out how to make the life I’m currently living work best for me, instead of actually making a change, I make plans for a change. There is a lot of list-writing and smugness for having successfully “figured it all out” involved.

But I stumbled across a David Foster Wallace quote that simultaneously felt like a punch in the face and the tender kind of hug only a consoling mama-bear can offer.

It openly acknowledges the (really) bad stuff, but it doesn’t allow me to wallow in the waiting game.

It starts like this:

“…the horrific struggle to establish a human self results in a self whose humanity is inseparable from that horrific struggle…our endless and impossible journey toward home is, in fact, our home.”

My first reaction to this was a previously unexperienced emotional combination of emphatic agreement and the immediate disillusionment of the trajectory of the rest of my life.

Trying to figure out who we are is hard and horrific and only ever vaguely successful, but because this is what society has loosely defined as part of our “purpose,” that hard and horrific and only-ever-vaguely-successful struggle has become all-consuming. It’s what we aim to resolve every day, from choosing our career path to choosing the Instagram filter that best fits our virtual aesthetic. Cue emphatic agreement.

But—this struggle is my home? No no, that’s not right. This struggle is a means to an end. This struggle is taking me somewhere.

Once I figure out who I am, once I conquer this struggle…

And it was this exact moment in my train of thought that I found myself playing that pesky waiting game again. Cue disillusionment and metaphorical punch in the face.

The aim of trying to figure out who we are is nearly impossible to separate from the massive and minuscule decisions we make as we go about our daily lives. And you know what our daily lives are? Our entire lives.

We fall in love at a bar on an otherwise unremarkable Tuesday evening. We get the call that a loved one died while we’re grocery shopping. We take a business card from the guy sitting next to us on an exhausting plane ride and that business card changes the course of our career three months later.

The journey to establish our self—to build a home that is complete with four walls and a roof and has a concrete definition of You sitting at the dinner table—is never-ending, because every experience and decision we make further informs and develops that definition. 

That means the struggle that comes along with it never ends, either.

Now that I’ve spent 613 words’ worth of your time presenting you with what probably seems like an absolute bummer of a quote, here are 119 more that will (maybe, hopefully) turn that perception around.

I think I may have audibly sighed with relief and solace when I read the rest of Foster Wallace’s quote. If words had the power to physically tuck the anxiety and expectations surrounding life, in general, away into a dusty little corner of my mind, that’s exactly what these words would have done.

Interestingly, though, I’ve shown this to a few people and each of them had completely different interpretations and responses to it.

So, the rest of the quote will be left here without any other comment. I hope you feel the comforting arms of a mama-bear around you: 

“…finally, the door opens, and it opens outward: we’ve been inside what we wanted all along. Das ist komisch.

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The Mailman

Imagine death, as a corporate looking mailman.

with his black suit and red tie,
black pants, and black leather shoes.
a brown leathered sling bag all the way to his waist and a blue cap on top of his head as it overshadows parts of his face though you can still see his smile.
sure, it somewhat looks creepy, but he tries to be a cheerful person.
he leaves the house before sunrise and proceeds to work.
delivering presents in every houses, with a little note on top of every gift that says,
“you’ve made it today, here is a gift from me. sincerely, death”

inside the box, is your life, for you to use today. the dew of first breath in the morning, until you wake up.

death never fails to deliver his presents in every house,
because each house is different every day.

some look as bright as the sun,
some look as colorful as a rainbow,
others look as dark as his suit,
but most are pretty normal.
but nothing stays the same.

most days, no one is there to receive his gifts, but he never feels sad about it.
he just cheerfully knock on your door or ring the doorbell.
though, when no one answers, he carefully places the present in front of the doorstep and leaves,
for he has no time to wait — he needs to finish all his work before sunrise.

oftentimes, someone is already waiting by the doorstep to receive the parcel.
from then he tries to bargain, he is not a businessman nor business inclined, but he gives you the freedom to choose between the gift of life or the package of eternity.
if you choose life, then he will give it to you, whether you want it or needed it. a chance to see another day.
yet if you choose eternity, as he always had in reserve for you, when the right time comes, then, that is the time you need to leave your home and pass on,
but he will let you bring the boxes that you have,
the box which once contains life is now filled with memories, a gift for you to take with you.

funny, how death gives us more presents than Santa could ever give, no matter how naughty or nice you have been.
how he gives us more chances, more than God ever did.
and yet, he never asked anything in return.

death is your ordinary cheerful corporate looking mailman, that never fails to do his job. though he may be sometimes under-appreciated, he still finds his way to deliver his gifts each and every day.

Words by Clarke Stein

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The Past Comes Peeping Out Again

By accident, I came across a familiar name online, a name I know so well. A name I’ve seen written on railway sleepers outside our house once upon a time. A name which was converted into numbers as a part of coded messages written on walls around the neighborhood meant only to be understood by me but meaningless to others. A name that has now an extra name added to it, inserted in between and belonged to a familiar face of a stranger. How did it happen?

The face belonged to a friend. A son of one of my father’s workmates and buddies. His father was trying to couple him with me even before I set eyes on him. I always nod and politely smiled whenever the topic was brought up but deep inside I was not the least interested. Judging by the appearances of parents and siblings, this phantom boy who worked in the city will never be anything to me. And so I thought.

Till one sunny afternoon, I was trying to read and heard a commotion outside. Peeping through the slit on the wall I saw two young men carrying air guns chasing each other across the train tracks. I found their accent funny. Clearly, they were from the south and speaking a dialect I heard my father used sometimes. I wondered who they were.

I saw the older of the two boys again during an old fashioned barrio fiesta dance. He was more good looking than I remember, looking like a city boy that he was, fresh and modern. I was charmed.

I wish he wasn’t a show-off. I wish he didn’t dominate the dance floor, I wish he wasn’t so sure of himself the one hundred percent crush I initially had for him reduced by twenty-five percent after his performance that night. On the way home, he deliberately stayed behind to have a word with me he said and I thought: This is it! He gonna professed his undying love for me. But what he actually said was he got an eye for my friend Rose and could I possibly help him to win her heart. The seventy-five percent crush plummeted to fifty after that revelation. When I heard that he was the phantom son of my father’s co-worker, the remaining fifty percent went all the way down to zero and we became best of friends. That’s the face the familiar stranger belongs to.

The name is totally another matter.

It belongs to someone else entirely. Same town, same neighborhood, same young dreamers club (he was the president, the other the vice) but different looks, different age category; he was older. Twenty-six to be exact. I knew right away he fancied me. Actions speak louder than words, right? He showed it in so many little things but he never made an attempt to voice out his feelings or formally court me. I confronted him with it and to my surprise, he didn’t deny what I already knew. When I asked him why, he said he was not a teenager anymore to give in to impulse, too old to be foolish. I was a handful he said. Starting anything with me was like picking a rock to bash your own head. I was too much for him he said. I called him a pussy and he laughed about it. We laughed about the whole thing. I was not the least insulted nor angry. The whole conversation was bordering on funny, a joke. But we understood the seriousness of what being said and not said. We accepted it.

He was a frustrated engineer to be, dropped the dream in favor of drinks. He carries a big scar across his stomach. A souvenir from a street fight which almost killed him. If he learned some lessons from the experience, it didn’t show. Life goes on.

I went away in search of a better future. I lost track of the people I once knew. Forgotten almost. Never seen them again nor I set foot on the once familiar turf once more. Now I saw online a stranger who is carrying his name wearing a familiar face of another.  Too much of a coincidence. It piqued my curiosity and started to dig deeper.

Well, it turned out to be this: Mr. Frustrated Engineer married a sister of my once best friend. (Why they all ended up together eventually? Too little choice? Too lazy to cast the net wider? Whatever) Mixing the name and the looks perfectly well. There are six siblings to the familiar stranger. All good looking, all degree holder. Three of them engineers. Not bad I thought. And the familiar stranger who is bearing the name of his father, well, he is an engineer too. Surprise surprise. Kudos to him and to the sister. Despite circumstances, they managed to raise a family of well educated talented young people who will be parents to more successful future generations from my past. Making me wish I am thirty years younger and back to the place I tried all my life to escape from. Fancy that.

And to him, he made the right choice by not choosing me. It would never work out. I am too much of everything for somebody like him. For anybody for that matter. The best way to keep me is to set me free. Something my husband understands so well. And by the way, he’s also an engineer.

Well, Mr. Frustrated Engineer… Do you still remember the song you used to sing to me while strumming your guitar?

This is it:

Something New In My Life 

by Stephen Bishop

I guess I wanted something new in my life
A new key to fit a new door
To wake and see a different view in my life
The one I’ve been waiting for

Dreams like everyone I had a few in my life
Who knew that this one would come true in my life
I knew the moment when you touched me
You touched me

You’re like a sudden breeze that blew in my life
A new face, a new smile, a new song
And now I know I wanted you in my life all along

You’re like a chance I had to take in my life
I found you and couldn’t lose you
And all the difference that you make in my life
The feelings I never knew

I guess I must have saved an empty place in my heart
For you to come and fill the space in my heart
That long before I said, I loved you
I loved you

Whatever happens, this is true in my life
When all the springs have come and gone
Whatever doors I may go through in my life
Whatever else that I may do in my life

You’ll always be the something new in my life
From now on
I know there always will be you in my life
From now on…

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I am made for Autumn

Yes. The colors, the atmosphere, the way the light slant through the trees and on everything. The sky mix of hues, lavender orange pink purples and blues… The chilly breeze and evening fires, the rain, the smell of earth, late-blooming perennials shorter days and early nights. All of those makes me feel peaceful and warm.

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A Wet Man Does Not Fear The Rain

Is that so?

When you hit rock bottom the only way is up?

Dangerous are the people who got nothing to lose

They up the stake and go all the way.

I feel like that sometimes.

Other times I worry about everything and nothing.

But one thing is true

The more you have, the more scared you get of losing them.

Same with people I guess.

The more you love them, the greater the fear.

Watching thriller and detective films sometimes, I curse when I learned that the leading character has a family, children especially. I think to myself: How stupid you are to have an Achilles heel. In that line of work, better to live alone and have nothing you cannot walk away from when the situation calls for it.

If I have got my wish, I am living that kind of life. Solitary. Lone wolf. Always in transition, nothing to lose, never vulnerable.

I will be a Ronin.

Yeah. I like that. A secret fantasy of mine.

I never walk into a place I don’t know how to walk out of.

And I never took a companion I cannot shoot in the head without a second thought.

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Found Treasure

We all have carried storms in our spine.

These days, I kept wondering when or where would it start, that time would heal all wounds. I haven’t known pain for months now, not that I am already healed nor that I have been used to the pain. Instead these days, I still sing along to my favorite songs, I still watch my favorite shows, I still read and go out sometimes. But for long I have felt numb— numb to the very fiber of my bones.

It’s like I became an empty shell, just drifting along or as to how they say it “going along with the flow” of whatever this routine pattern that had become of my life. I have lost the fire to do what I want, I have lost the power to realign my life. I became a shadow that watches my life passes by; like another person watching through a body that doesn’t feel like mine anymore.

However life wasn’t supposed to be easy, it wasn’t supposed to be all good days, or rainbows and butterflies. Life, is a storm, and it will hit as hard as it could, and all we have to do is take the blows, endure the thunder and lightning, for I realized that in life, it really meant nothing if we hit hard, or we hit fast, or if we hit back, what matters is we endure, we brave the waters, we carry ourselves no matter how battered or tired or broken we may get; what matters most is our ability to stand back up— our persistence to continue being alive in a life that wanted otherwise.

After all these time, waiting for the day that time have healed all our wounds would be worth it, for we have already carried storms in our spine, what else are we going to be afraid of these little rains?

— Chard Christopher

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