Link, +/- 10 Years

I have been afraid of so many things, mostly of failing, of letting people down, of letting myself down. Or, perhaps more precisely, afraid of discovering a limit I didn’t want to believe I had, afraid of having to confront a reality that says my opportunities aren’t endless, because there are some things I genuinely can’t do.

I’ve spent a lot of time in imaginary worlds where I don’t ever test what could actually happen, because it lets me believe that anything is possible.

It makes me feel powerful, this notion that I actually could do anything, if I’d just set my mind to it. Never mind that I haven’t, or that I don’t. As long as it remains entirely in my head, I always could, and that makes me feel safe.

But can I actually? Does it matter if I believe I can if I never do? Why do I feel safer and more protected in a world where I’ve never proven myself? Why does that allow me to continue to believe that I can, rather than looking at the evidence and recognizing that it suggests I can’t, since I’ve never even begun?

Or is that the tension I’ve been living in these last several years, where one side of my mind soothes itself by imagining anything is possible, while the other stews under the realization that nothing is possible if I never move beyond imagining?

What if I do test things, and find out? Things change either way. Either I discover I can do the things, and I do do the things, and my life becomes a life full of the things, or I determine that I can’t do the things, and maybe I try trying really hard, just to make sure, and if I really can’t, I decide whether they still need to be done, and if so, what else I can do to help the people who can do them. And if not, I recalibrate my expectations.

This isn’t only true on the career front. It’s true on all the fronts. For the last probably 10 years, I’ve been telling myself I don’t want big things, because I’ve been scared to death to dream of big things. I’ve been scared to stand out, scared to be different, scared to excel, because I don’t want the pressure or the attention or the scrutiny that comes with all of that. So I’ve tried to tell myself that my desires are actually quite small, that the things I want don’t require striving.

But fuck that.

If I’m only going to get one ride on this roller coaster, I don’t want to spend it like that. I don’t want to spend it running from myself, and that’s exactly what it’s been.

I’ve been afraid to be me, because I’m afraid there’s something fundamentally objectionable about my me-ness, even though I’m the one who knows me best and I’m actually pretty fond of me.

What if I dared to admit the things I actually want? Some of them are simple, and obvious, like that I want to work on projects and with people who inspire me, and who are really trying to change the world in fundamental ways, who are really working on things that can make life better for real people, and are doing so passionately.

I want to solve interesting problems by connecting interesting people, and I want to learn as much as possible about their interesting ideas.

I also want to be in robust health. I’m so tired of this constant achiness and digestive issues and lethargy. I want to do the work to figure out what it is that makes my body thrive, and I want to do it, consistently, always.

I want to earn the kind of money that lets me change the trajectory of things I believe in, to help them accomplish goals they couldn’t without my help.

And I want to feel at ease in my own skin. I want to be able to meet people and have the impression they get of me from the outset be a reasonably accurate one. I want to look in the mirror, and see myself.

I want the people I love to know how much I love them, not because I tell them, but because I show them in the ways that make sense to them.

I want to use more than words to communicate, or maybe just use more than the literal senses of words to communicate. I want to convey ideas from my head to someone (or everyone) else’s head in ways that are clear, and resonant.

And I don’t have a good reason I can’t do these things. Other people have done them. Other people I know have done them. And while I don’t think they’d tell me it’s been easy, I don’t doubt it’s been worth it.

The people I know who have most fully stepped into themselves, have taken ownership of the people they are and the ways they feel and the things that matter to them–they’re the ones who seem most alive, and most integrated. I want to be like that, alive and integrated, even if the particulars of being fully myself are completely different from the particulars of being fully themselves.

Ten years ago, I was, unequivocally, someone else. I was trying to be what other people wanted me to be, and I wasn’t happy doing it.

Ten years from now, I want to be recognizable at a glance. I want people to see things and think, “Oh, that’s so Link,” and have them be things I love having associated with me.

I want to own myself, in the sense that I know who I am, and have a peaceful relationship with myself.

And I think if I can keep asking myself, with each decision I make, which option makes me more myself, I just might be able to get there.

10 Years

I have two options:

  1. 10 years from now, be 10 years older, and 10 years into a software development career; or
  2. 10 years from now, be 10 years older, 10 years farther out from structured education, and wishing I’d started learning 10 years ago.

That’s really it. Those are the two things I can decide between. It’s so simple, when I look at it that way. I can start doing the work now, and be 10 years in 10 years from now, or I can decide now that I wouldn’t like to be as good at this in 10 years as I could be otherwise.

I don’t think the desire is going to go away. I think the most interesting challenges are going to be in this field, and I think I have the right kind of mind to attack them, as well as the interest to do it. I’m really good at thinking outside of boxes, of pulling together data from a lot of different points and synthesizing something new. And I haven’t ever put that to its maximum use.

I feel like I need a separate post to get into that.

Inside A Weird Head

I’m having one of those days where I’m trapped between my own ears. I don’t feel great. I’m anxious. I’m tired. And I’m feeling out of place.

I feel unadjusted, and I don’t like how it feels. I was expecting it, and it sucks anyway, and it’s not anybody’s fault, but I still want it to go away.

I’m on the fence right now about whether to write this in my language or yours, and by “yours,” I mean, “everyone else’s,” because from the ways they manage to communicate with each other, I’m fairly forced to conclude most people share a common native tongue. But I live my entire life in translation.

And that also means I live most of my life afraid, or I have. I’ve been afraid to express myself authentically because I hate the judgment of “other” I read on people’s faces when I do something that doesn’t make any sense to them. I’ve seen it in every face but two that I’ve ever seen.

It makes me wonder if life would be different, easier, freer, if I were sure of anyone, if I had someone I knew really, truly, genuinely got me, and embraced me, and believed that I was right, that I resonated, at least with myself, correctly, rather than always being judged to be slightly out of tune. I think that’s supposed to be the role of parents, but when one of your parents is the only sound he’s ever heard, it’s hard for anyone else to find resonance with any other frequency.

I’d been listening for my own voice, watching for my own colors, feeling out my own touch. And now I’m sharing it with someone again and I don’t know how to do that. I hear hers, but when I do, I can’t pick mine out of the noise.

A year ago, I was so sure, or becoming so sure, about who and what and how I wanted to be, and then part of that got wrenched right out of my chest, and as the dust has started to settle, I’m starting to recognize how much of it is still there.

I want to spend my time working on projects and solving problems that really might change the world. The ones I see that are most likely to do that all require software development skills. And those are learnable.

And I still don’t want to have a lot of things, but damn do I want to have the right ones. I want to figure out how to communicate myself with people through all their senses. I’ve miscommunicated for so long, giving people the wrong impression no matter how they encounter me first, because I’ve never leaned into figuring out how to say the right things.

But I also have to fix my relationship with myself. I don’t feel at home in my own skin. Even when I see me, something’s wrong, and that’ll make a guy crazy.

Where do I start today? I think with a clean room will come a clean mind. I at least need my living space to look like I live in it. My mom’s lived here a week and she’s more moved in than I am. It’s time I fix that.

First clean room. Then the right furniture and art. And then, maybe, once I can walk into a space and feel my heart open to it, I’ll be able to fly from home.

Stop Talking

I don’t know yet.
I don’t know why.
Stop talking.

Mine are not yours.
Yours have no mine.
Stop talking.

It’s premature.
They’re all unformed.
Stop talking.

STOP. TALKING.

Because I can’t.

Space to have been

To look into another’s broken face,
to see the tears,
to feel the shards

To see, with your own heart, a color your own world never knew
And to savor it
or its aftertaste
or its fleeting reflections still glistening in the eyes of one who once was full

To make space for life to have been.

Nashville

You are not what I want.
You are only a distraction.
And you can’t erase the pain.

But for one flash, one moment, one breath,
I breathe.

The light held carefully,
secretively,
in your hands, clutched near your chest,
protecting my heart,
shines the yellow I fight to remember.

It’s an impossible light, not even yours to hold.

But when I sit, when I stay,
when you smile,
I see. And I remember.
And my own frail light gains courage.

Dad

Apparently you’re expecting me to call you for Father’s Day. I hope you’re not holding your breath. I have no intention of speaking to you, now or in the future.

You’ve had every single chance to be, and you’ve never been. You’ve run from every challenge, every opportunity, every growth, every encounter, everyone, every me.

You are the epitome of cowardice, the example of what I’d rather die than become. I’ve spent my entire adult life fighting to be anyone but you.

To me you are a loathsome and pitiable thing, one who could have been so much, could have flown so high, but instead lives a life of fantasies and could-have-beens, pretending you blame yourself for hubris when you’ve never dared approach the authenticity necessary for pride.

Without exception, there is no one I would less like to emulate, would less like to become. You are a mouse and not a man.

I could have been a better man than you. Some days I believe I am, hidden inside these X-chromosome pairs. The fact that you got to be considered a man and I never will is one of the grave injustices of my senseless world.

I have no room for your voice in my future, no room for your condescension, no room for your patronizing. I have no room for your trumped-up reality, which exists only in your own mind, that makes your miserable life bearable only by dragging others into it, enwretching them, and viling the whole repulsive mass out at your own feet, something to allow you to feel whole by comparison.

Your “faith” is nothing. Your “knowledge” is nothing. YOUR “God” is nothing. Because you are nothing, and they all come from you, only you, without exception or independent origin. You create an illusory world and inhabit it, because you’re too much the weakling to face the one that is.

And I’m through.

I have a life to live. I might yet become. I might yet matter.

But freeing myself from you, scraping all vestiges of you, your influence, your attempts to mold me, your warping of all that was good and beautiful and POWERFUL in me OUT, no matter the wound I leave behind, is crucial to my path forward.

You are too toxic, too radioactive, too poisonous to touch. And for so long, I could not escape your touch.

This effort has cost me dearly already, more dearly than I ever could have imagined. I missed my last chance to see my sister alive because I finally found the courage to refuse to see you.

And as far as it depends on me, you’ll see her again before you see me. I reject you with the strength and the power of my identity, which you’ve never made the time, made the room, to see. I exist in my own right, as a subject, not merely as an object in yours.

And the day you dare to become a subject to yourself, to live even your OWN life as though you might actually matter, willing to face the agony of existence, maybe then you may be a man.

But you’ve had every opportunity. And you refuse them. Over and over and over you refuse yourself. I will not fill that void for you. I will not let you manipulate me into being something small enough to be safe, but bigger than you’ve ever dared to be.

I would celebrate Father’s Day if I had a father. But you have chosen to be nothing.

Why

Because I need to. Because my life depends on finding ways to drag the jumble of emotions in my heart and my mind out, into words, somewhere I can look at them, think about them, and consider them.

This is for my sake. And I’m going to write it in my language. Sometimes, I’m going to throw words at it, hoping something will stick, whether they come from ordinary English, used correctly, or not. Ordinarily, I spend so much time making sure I’m using the words the ways everyone else does. But forget that. I need to have the words right now, whether they communicate my thoughts to anyone else or not.

Shannon died. Asa died. My world died. My god died. My family died. Everything I thought I knew, everything I thought I was, all of it got turned inside out, regurgitated onto the ground in front of me, mocking anything I ever thought I might have known.

I have to become. I’m not right now, but I have to become. I have to grow through this, and out of this, and into something that’s new and real and alive.

Also because forever. Because the only thing scarier to me than living through this is LIVING. Maybe that’s something I can get ready for, that I can strive toward, instead of something that will make me panic for the rest of my life.

In so many ways, I’m not free. I’m in chains. I’ve made many of them. Others have made them. Some of them are probably imaginary. But I MUST do this. I MUST fight for this. I either become free, become whole, become ALIVE or die in the attempt.

Most of the time I don’t even know what to write, what to think through first, which convoluted notion is most going to need to come out of my fingers. There are so many.

But I need not to filter them. I need to throw whichever one will come out OUT, in whatever form it will take.

I don’t want comments on this for any reason. If people read it, I don’t want to know. I’m going to try to find ways to make sure that’s how that goes.

And you know what? Right now, I need to change the subject.