“WE’VE BEEN AT THIS FOR OVER THREE HOURS, AND YOU HAVEN’T DONE SHIT,” one of the admins derided as I attempted to calm the group of agitated ladies.
This was the fourth day in a row sparks had flown within the walls of the Sisters of Resistance, a gaming group that was born from the ashes of their previous endeavors. Established with a solid crew of seven, the “Seven Sisters”, as I jokingly called them by the name of a song from the metal band “The Sword”, were comprised of three multi-game professionals, and four new admins. The original trifecta consisted of three bright young ladies, all of whom were tragically torn by their self-righteous sense of justice. Born of the womb of a broken gaming clan, their splinter group was established under the premise of “absolute democracy”, which ironically led to some of the same pitfalls the American voting system breeds every four years. With no ideals of order set in stone upon their inception, they were left in a state of constitutional limbo. Of the seven sisters, only the three senior members were left vying for the rank of “leader”.
The first was a strong-willed, stubborn as hell lady that the group had lovingly dubbed, “Max”. Maxine was the group’s designated “tank”, which meant she took the hits for as long as possible in-game, and protected the group from harm. This was appropriate, as she more often than not carried a demeanor that one could only describe as “prickly”. She was a die-hard believer in the fact they had done the right thing by leaving, and it was her view that, “the only way the old group could survive was through us. We did all the work, and made all the progress. It’s only fair that we reap the benefits.” Unfortunately, she also had a quick temper, and the slightest transgressions sent her into a fit of rage.
The second of the trio was my liaison to the group. Her name was Caroline, but everyone in the group insisted on calling her “Carrie”, as she was informal, the oldest of the group, and was the member who hatched the idea to discard their previous guild, the Shield of the North. SotN was a guild on the game “RIFT”, who had a reputation for picking up primarily females, and members of the LGBT community. This had a positive effect, until the original leader suddenly disappeared, leaving them all to fend for themselves. Carrie decided it would be best for them to take as many people as possible and begin an exodus, and being that everyone in the guild knew Carrie as the only active admin left, they did as she requested out of respect. While Carrie was an experienced officer in multiple guilds for several years, she had a tendency to be indecisive on serious issues, and moments of temporary weakness left her paralyzed with inaction.
The third, and final member of the guild’s senior members was a remarkably calm girl that the majority of the group knew as “Saffron”. Her actual name was Molly, and she was Maxine’s younger sister. As you can imagine, this was a consistent problem for the both of them, whether it was between others or just themselves. Molly was the group’s “healer”, which meant she played a role as important as her sister’s. She kept her alive in dungeons and raids, and by way of reason— everyone else. While she was useful in the most desperate of situations, she was also regarded with an apparent amount of distance from the rest of the group. Molly was cool, and constantly calculating. She never flinched, but for some reason was prone to starting fights within the guild over positions that she felt were indefensible.
That’s where I come in.
I was brought in at the request of Caroline, in order to solve the disputes of the fledgling clan, and get them off the ground. Leading The Sic for over eight years, as well as the work I had done for multiple other guilds at the time, had given me an illustrious, if not notorious name among the series of games out at the time. Knowing my level of commitment, however, was enough to inspire confidence in Caroline, and she threw me a message requesting assistance. She wanted to place a cornerstone on the foundation of her guild by building a rank system, assembling a small council for top-tier members, and enacting a constitution for the guild to follow as law. I agreed, and informed her that her guild’s senior members would need to be present for at most a week, simply to create balance and order. She accepted the terms, and within hours her members were gathered in a TeamSpeak channel, readily awaiting the steps necessary to give birth to their cause. From the moment I opened my mouth, they became a flurry of innovation.
The first three days went by like flowing water. The sisters had worked tirelessly to come up with the right words to pass their code of conduct. In the end, the settled on a concrete base of seven rules; one created by each representative of their member corps. They knew their goals, and what sorts of targets they wanted to aim for. They knew who their prime recruiters were, and what their efforts could yield. They worked with purpose, discipline, and finesse. They had a website, an expanded voice server, and a forum to match. Everything moved at a quick, and even pace. That is, until the topic of leadership came up.
It started softly at first. Whispers danced through the air that there would be elections. Other rumors played with the idea that they would all lead in the small council. A couple of people, disillusioned by their momentary lapse of cooperation, felt there would be no chain of command, and they would exist in pseudo-anarchy. Even I had no idea what they had in mind, until all three of the most likely candidates approached me simultaneously.
“So…uhh. We were just curious because you haven’t made it clear yet,” Caroline gingerly inquired. “Who is going to be leader?”
I stared at my screen in disbelief. We had come all this way, only to be met by a cliff.
“W-Wait. Wait. Let me get this straight,” I stuttered as I worked up the courage to ask the question. “You…don’t have a leader?”
As if answering a question that hadn’t been asked yet, the three women began listing their own qualities, often deliberately louder than the other two. When they finished their positive outlook speeches, they started in on each other. Maxine condescendingly informed her sister that since she was technically brought in later, that she might as well be disqualified from the conversation. Molly retorted by questioning her older sister’s level of dedication, stating that she couldn’t just run away from these people the way she did every other person. Caroline attempted to pull rank by claiming that this was all her idea originally, commenting that without her, their group would’ve never survived the week. This only exacerbated things, as they soon began an inflammatory dialogue about the meaning of seniority versus superiority, as well as a lengthy discussion about the merits of achieved status over ascribed status.
This was a disaster. They weren’t the unified coalition of females I had known for their integrity days earlier. They were squabbling children, more interested in tearing each other apart over a silly title, than attempting to create greatness out of nothing. After a few minutes of attempting to regain their attention, I resigned myself to the loss of control, and began scheming as to how I could find out who was truly cut out for it. At the rate they were going, their clan would be dead long before they decided on leadership, and this was an integral topic for them to ponder. However, it needed to be done quickly. They couldn’t be torn over this, nor could they allow themselves to be seen as compromised in the face of their peers.
They stopped instantly, surprised my by sudden volume. I was given the floor, and I began.
“You can’t let this kill your ambitions. This position is worthless, thankless, and the most important job here. Only the person with the right mindset should do it. I would ask you to consider that.”
When I finished, I was met with the all too familiar voice of defeat, and frustration.
“That’s easy for you to say, when you don’t even have a guild anymore,” Caroline chided. “So, how is your ambition doing these days?”
I froze. You smug bitch, I thought to myself. In seconds, I realized what I had to do. It was time to make or break this group. After all, it’s what they wanted me to do, and the sun was quickly sinking into the afternoon sky. I switched channels in the TeamSpeak server, trying desperately to seek the right key to this doorway. I didn’t have to look far. The head admin of the newer members of the group was a highly-trusted woman named Gabrielle. Everyone called her “Gabi”, and more importantly, it was universally accepted that she was the guild favorite. No desire for power, and no need for recognition made her an invaluable asset to the community. She brought people in. She made friends with them. She gave them information. Gabi was an all-star, that I would’ve liked to have stolen from them. Alas, it was not to be. I told her my plan, and she accepted it without hesitation. As I dragged her into the other channel with the bickering broads, I spoke over them to make an announcement.
“Hey guys, I think Gabi has something she wants to say.”
They all paused, pricked by morbid curiosity. This was an irregular visit by her. It was all coming together. I sat back, and watched the fireworks.
“Well,” Gabi began. “I’ve thought about it a lot, and all of you are my friends. I want you to know that. The past few months have been a really awesome experience between us, and I’ve enjoyed getting to know all of you. However, with all that has gone on over the past couple of days, I’ve come to realize that I can not be an admin in this guild, and I don’t think I like who I’m becoming around you all. I thank you for the good times, and I’ll excuse myself.”
I beamed from ear-to-ear. The silence in the room told me that they had just been bomb-shelled by their most reliable person, and now had no clue what to do about it. It was the perfect setup. As Caroline’s microphone lit up in the server, I shivered with anticipation of the coming events.
“I guess…okay, Gabi. Thanks,” she conceded.
It was a tone of surrender. She buckled under the pressure, and now had nothing more to add. This was her moment of weakness, and it took its toll.
“Gabi, I’m really sorry. We just let the leader shit get really out of control,” Maxine chimed in. I had never seen her apologize before. This was interesting, and enlightening. She left her microphone on for a second, but evidently felt it didn’t need to be stated, so she released her push-to-talk key. I allowed myself another grin, as Molly was last to speak and as far as I knew, the person with the least to say. What I was met with, however, was as far from the expected result as possible. As she clicked her key, a tirade of unparalleled resolution escaped her lips.
“OH FUUUUCK YOU, GABI!!!!”
The room stood still.
“You ungrateful cunt! Oh, so mommy and daddy have an argument and that’s your cue to skip town on us, eh?! Well, guess what? You’re replaceable. EASILY. You think the others aren’t waiting to get at your spot? They are. They want everything you have, and now, I’m gonna have to give it to one of them. So thanks for nothing, and get the fuck out of here,” she finished.
I sat staggered. Gabrielle too, seemingly, as I didn’t hear another word out of her mouth. I took a deep breath, and remembered the point of this exercise turned incident.
“Well, it looks like you know who your leader is,” I asserted. “A real leader doesn’t waver, even in the face of their friends. They stay resolute, certain, and act with a purpose even when that purpose isn’t as clear as they would like it to be. Nicely done, Molly. Oh, and a big thanks to Gabrielle! I couldn’t have demonstrated this without her.”
Gabi was either still regaining her composure, infuriated with me, or both, because she left the channel and I didn’t see her again. Mission accomplished, though.
Knowing my work was more or less complete, I informed the three of them that I would be leaving a couple hours later. They had accepted that Molly would be the best for the position, and with that out of the way, they could finally focus on the important issues at hand. Rebuilding is a hell of a task. We had a chat about how many times The Sic had set up our house of cards, only to have it blown over time, and time again. I informed them that it will happen again. It’s guaranteed. They just had to be ready for it. They thanked me for all my help, regardless of how unorthodox it was, and asked me what I intended to do now. I told them I didn’t know, but it was beginning to become clear that I was gunning for a ceremonious return to my gaming clan. It was time to stop hiding from it. You can’t run forever, after all.
“Any chance you could stay and watch us launch the guild officially tonight?” Maxine asked excitedly. “I mean, you’re as much as part of this as we are, now.”
With a chuckle, I responded.
“Sorry, I can’t. I wish I could, though. I have a big date tonight, and I’m heading out to the drive-in theater later. I’ll let you know how it goes, though.”
The seven sisters bid me farewell, and wished me good luck. I would need it. I had been at this same location ten years earlier, on my first date. I couldn’t tell if it was coincidence, or fate that brought me to this place on this day, but at that point I didn’t care. It was the start of a strange, and unfamiliar era, and for the first time in forever, I felt like a different guy.
Dusk came, and the night brought the appealing prospect of a new beginning.
Run, to where the smallest ray of light will never find you
Run, to where you will not need to shield your eyes
Run, away from all the soulless, heartless fiends who hound you
Run, away and let your memories go blind, when I
Take all the pain away
I cannot stay my hand
From reaching out so that I can
For all eternity
It seems to ease my mind
To know that you’ve brought
Meaning to my life
Everything, and everyone you know will ditch, decay, or die.
My crown sat high on the chessboard. I was the king of the black. Around me laid the tools of my success. I played the wrong game.
The first two turns were a merciless assault of one close death after the other. The third and fourth brought to me a mass exodus. The past five turns have been a suffocating, dehumanizing necrosis. Piece by piece I have struggled to maintain some sense of sanity as I slowly descend into this grave. Talent squandered, care devoted to poor choices and poor people, attention constantly diverted toward the stars of systems light-years away. I can’t see around the mirror I’ve put up, and within it lies a hollow boy with little left to grin at, and nothing left to overcome.
Wallowing would be easier to do, if I weren’t too busy withering.
I: I sit a king on the mountain of dirt. My queen watches all and I drive the Lincoln Continental of our victory tour. It’s not to last. The pawns of the board are beginning to flare, and the knights have rallied a mutiny. They take their shot, and I’m left with less than a quarter of my previous squad. Stricken by defeat, the rooks fearfully swarm. They scramble to hide behind the king, forgetting the game and retaining nothing. They have no moves. No rules. No honor. The board turns white, and the last remnants of the black army hold tight to their corner. It’s not a friendly table, anymore.
II: The queen no longer values her kingdom. She removes her crown, and exits the game. The king desperately clings to the last of the pieces. The white army is no longer playing. The board has consumed them, and is now slowly sinking. The king sends pawns to return as queens, knowing it for the suicide mission it is. They return with the power, and none of the will. Their resentment of the king drives them away from his corner. The king attempts to alter the game; a last ditch effort to save what was left of the kingdom. The board just changes direction. The table stays the same.
III: You can change the game, and you can stop being black and white. You can’t remove the red you’ve earned, though. It’s permanently stuck to you, and will eventually be the last trace of you. Unlike black or white, you have to take red. It’s a color of passion, and worse. Red is proof you’ve made victims, and those who smell red come running. Red attracts hyenas, and those same hyenas who were once part of your pack eventually will devour you. I inform them all that I can lead us again. I tell them that I have the ability. I give them assurance, and feed their needs. I don’t supply their food, though. My fatal mistake came too late. When living amongst hyenas, only females can be their leader.
IV: This game is not chess. It’s a grapple with the others for carrion, and the king is now fighting to get across the board for scraps. We no longer see the board. We just see orders, demands, and requests. The game has long since become a bloodsport, and the last animals standing are wandering in circles. The king trips, and falls off the table. On his way down, he is met with visions of other games; these realms are filled with other pieces, cards, and boards that he had never imagined. He just wants to find a game where he fits; one that allows him to take off his crown, and find somewhere that his decisions, and the decisions of others can no longer harm him. He hits the floor.
V: As I regain my footing, I look back up at the table. Suspended miles above the ground, is the island of chaos. Black and white clash as the remaining bishops, pawns, and queens struggle for my crown. I pity them, and I begin the long walk away from the feet of the table. The towering appearance casts a long shadow, and the weight of the world above me begins to lift. It doesn’t lift far, though. The pieces peer over the side of the table, calling my name and urging me to return. Behind them stands a fiery glow. The table is burning, and the ashes are a snowfall on my head. I can’t save them. I can barely recognize them. My words fall on dying ears. The table splinters, and collapses on itself. I approach slowly, and as the dust settles I catch a glimpse of a shattered bottle, and the crushed contents of a cake. The labels hit me in the chest. Scrawled on the two notes are either instructions, or pleas of suicide I had dreamed of for years. They say:
Eat me, Drink me.
I was invited to
A beheading today.
I thought I was a butterfly
Next to your flame.
A rush of panic and
The lock has been raped.
This is only a game,
This is only a game…
There are many tales of tragedy and woe, but none I know quite as well as the tale of my gaming community.
The tragedy of my clan is not of the sort where death and painful misfortune strike incessantly, eventually bringing the protagonist(s) down to a point of inconsolable misery. It’s not of the hero who marches onward towards their demise, knowing that glory and certain defeat await them. This story revolves around a self-inflicted wound, and the irreparable damage caused by the inaction of many.
Though it has decayed into the city of Terminus, The Sic originally was a flourishing haven for the weary soul; those who had been out in the purgatory of the average gaming group, and had experienced for themselves the lackluster attitude of those whose entire frame of reference was built around statistics, and dull number values. They came to us with the hope of belonging. We gave to them a purpose, and a potential to thrive so long as they were willing to commit to the cause. This presented people with a unique opportunity to actively become social with others from our legion, and work together to accomplish goals thought unobtainable by most others. For a time, we not only proved this true; we set the bar for other groups to follow in suit.
Despite the greatest efforts to keep a sense of stability within our walls, the group has collapsed on itself. The reason? One could make the argument that we no longer had anything left to offer people, and people have attempted pushing that story. That however, is only a half-truth. Another tale woven is that we’ve switched theater of operation too often. Notable, but also false considering it was the only aspect that allowed us to retain a large base of operations for each game we entered into. The actual reason is hilariously simple, and in retrospect I lose my mind thinking about the one word its anthology of examples demonstrates:
An infuriating pattern has emerged over the past couple of years, that has slowly killed off the remainder of my team. While I believed they all fully understood the necessary actions that are required to maintain the status quo of the clan, I no longer believe this to factor into their decision-making abilities. There are only a few facets that require attention from high-ranking officers within the group. The first, is a reasonable rate of activity. This is simply a reassurance for the sake of your members. The second action, is organization. Whether we’re talking members and ranks, game branches and items, or website users and backgrounds, people take a person seriously who can at least be counted on to have a checklist completed by the end of the day. The last action, is of course, recruiting. Without getting people in the door, your gaming clan is doomed to fail.
Therein lies the issue. If you have a gaming clan who isn’t willing to recruit, organize the assets or follow the protocol of the clan, let alone show up at all, then you’re better off throwing in the towel. That’s not a team-effort; it’s a sign that they’re digging your grave.
Allow me to explain what it takes to keep an organization that you care about running. Whether that is keeping your business afloat, trying to promote a cause that you believe is worthy of public attention, or even something as trivial as a gaming clan- this rule still applies. You can’t half-ass your endeavors of any size, and you can’t just sit idly by and hope someone else will do your job for you. If you want a task completed (especially a large one, mind you), it takes more than just what you can offer “when you have time”.
It takes SACRIFICE.
During my eight years managing The Sic, I’ve learned the hard way a dozen times that you have to give up quite a few things that you normally wouldn’t if you want to succeed, and in the process I may have given up a couple of things I probably shouldn’t have. For the sake of continuity, I’ve skipped countless amounts of social engagements that friends had invited me to, as well as a handful of events that these people considered important. I’ve let go of multiple opportunities to network for my career in a new environment, with new people under new circumstances. I’ve willingly buried a fairly successful relationship, and almost another that was my final straw before I finally took my leave. All this I did for the “greater good”, but in reality it was out of a vain sense of responsibility, resting on a mantle that I alone did not have to carry. Only now do I come to accept the sad truth that perhaps I had a misplaced sense of trust, because I presumed others cared as much about our survival as I did.
I know now that people don’t want to sacrifice. They claim they have no time, and conjure outlandish narratives to make it seem as if there is nothing more they could do to show their faces than what they already are. They present apologies, and deflect when presented with inquiry, all while shielding a surreptitious agenda. Most insulting of all is this facade that I’ve never seen end; this cruel world in which no one can just inform me that they’re finished, and that it’s best to simply mark their journey as completed. I have learned my lesson, and thus have played Captain for the last time. If people understand that you’re willing to take the helm even when they’re not there, they feel no remorse about abandoning their posts. It’s the insecurity of not being able to step up and take the wheel when another crew member falls. It’s the shame of calling others your friends, just to leave them to their devices when the obstacles become too great to climb, and it’s the cowardice of not being able to face them, as you run away from your shared problems and pretend you’re too busy to notice the flaming hulk of the ship you’re escaping.
I never left the helm of my ship. I might’ve stepped aside, and even sat back to observe others as they tried their hand at steering, but when the lifeboats were all gone and the crew was sailing furiously into the darkness of the night, I somehow still managed to find myself clutching onto a burning bridge. Much as you start with nothing in the field of leadership, so do you end with nothing.
The dust has settled in
The broken structure
Is now one with
This shattered beauty
In timeless indifference
Become one, become none
Good morning, children.
I will begin by apologizing once more for the recent absence of over a month. I was on vacation in Pennsylvania, and I daresay I enjoyed the time. Thanks to the hospitality and adoration of my lovely lady friend, I was able to relax for once, as well as focus on issues not pertaining to my usual lexicon of ideas and topics. Of course, after a visit into the mountains of the Poconos, a trip to the large, and ominous city of Philadelphia, and a quiet stop at State College, I naturally obtained a flurry of thoughts to reflect upon, as well as new tales. One of those, I shall share right now.
A flood of footsteps and chattering people fill the streets in a city that has grown so large, it is comparable only to a concrete jungle of droning noise, and flashing lights. The time is early evening. The setting sun casts a crimson glare in between buildings, turning them into sheets of blinding reflection. The wind, a punishing reminder of the looming rebirth of winter, stings against my cheeks. Passing by numerous streets, the grey of the scenery forces me to contrast it with the beauty that has spoiled my eyes for numerous weeks already. Lush forests, promising continuous views of a priceless canvas lift my spirits as my heavy feet drag my weary form back to our hotel. I catch the gaze of my partner, as she weakly grins and informs me once more that she is fine, so long as we’re back soon.
Though cheery and bustling at a glance, the streets are littered with unsettling creatures. Pockets of loud adolescents crowd the sidewalk, oblivious to the intricacies of city life, and to the world around them. The fleeting sensation of youth is vivified amidst friends, and with volume even the most timid of beings can be turned into vultures. Unfortunately, these entitled children are already vultures; feeding from the misfortune of others, and caring only for the web of vanity that their lives are entangled betwixt. As I stride behind the pack of unruly juveniles, their shenanigans turn from harmless banter, into disgusting antipathy. Before crossing the street, one of the older females of the group sways the herd in the opposite direction, citing her supposed need to avoid “that nasty fuckin’ hobo”. Her sight, it would seem, was as flawed as her moral inclinations. The “hobo” she so desired to evade was actually a Vietnam war veteran who just so happened to be an amputee. His unshaven look, complimented by the tattered raincoat and hat denoting his service, clearly had given the impression to the girl that he was a degenerate, looking to scrounge change from her purse upon first contact. This tragic scene, a testament to our country’s complete abandonment of many veterans who should’ve received prime care, is one more example of how our nation has turned its back on the virtues of compassion, and generosity. Especially in a city with such a rich, patriotic origin, I fail to understand why any human being could have such an outward disdain towards the derelict.
As sweeping cold drafts whistled in the distance, the sun began its final descent. Vermilion streaks sketched a skyline above us, outlining black monoliths on the horizon, while casting our pathway into the shade of the night. The smell of multiple restaurants cloud the air, as the aroma beckons passing travelers in. Those wishing to escape the arctic winds quickly navigate indoors; opting to shove past others smoking, and conversing on the front steps of hotels and apartment complexes. Brilliant lights from nearby buildings cast a faint glow from the window to the sidewalk, granting all who paid attention a tiled floor of light and shadow. While passing near a long since abandoned store, a gentleman playing the cello serenaded those who dared to traverse the chilling evening.
We stepped onto Broad street as the light faded from the sky. Above us, a curtain of Catalina blue had been drawn, outlining the majestic eyesight at the end of the street. Philadelphia’s city hall; a sprawling citadel of granite, and marble, that will cause anyone’s jaw to drop at its sheer size and architectural ingenuity. Being not only a geek for history, but a lover of the arts, it’s easy to see how I narrowly avoided becoming a statistic for pedestrian casualties that day. As I snapped a quick photo of this palace of politics, I silently regretted not setting foot on the steps myself. Now, however, was not a time for such considerations. Catching up with my girlfriend, I scanned the now darkened streets for potential hazards. I have never been particularly at ease with a dense, urban setting. The compact, filth-ridden streets were enough to make me uncomfortable, and subjecting my lady friend to the elements as well as unfriendly terrain were not on my list of things to do.
Upon reaching the corner of the street next to ours, the group of blatantly intoxicated yuppies stood in a fit of laughter outside of a bar. The object of their amusement: a friend of theirs, crouching at the street corner, inches over a puddle of his own vomit. While I can surely understand the humor of such a situation, it was clear that the sick individual was not having a good time. His friends, having drank away better judgment and their inhibitions, mercilessly cackled away at his plight. As he sat crouched on the curb, humiliated and disheveled, he did not notice as his social circle began to walk off in the opposite direction from him. As he turned around, a look of exasperation crossed his face. With ruffled brow, and grimace showing, he took off at an incredibly slow, stumbling pace down the street after them. The antics of the horribly inebriated have never truly amused me, and to this day I frown on people who don’t at least attempt to lend a helping hand to those who are incapable of logical action at the time. It’s irresponsible, and has been the cause of many deaths for those who were left to wander on their own in a drunken stupor. While I recognize that it is each person’s own responsibility to take care of themselves, when you’re with a group, it should fall on your friends to take heed of your activities (to a certain degree).
As we entered the hotel lobby, we climbed eagerly into the elevator. The familiar smell of the frequently cleaned chamber reminded us fondly that we were close to being able to relax. With haste, we sped down the hallway and quickly opened the door to our room. Within seconds of being inside, our clothes had been torn away and we began searching for our night garments. The sights and sounds of our silent room were a welcome relief, as we climbed under the covers of our bed. As I climbed out of bed to adjust the airflow in the room, I gazed out of our 5th floor window at the Philly skyline. There lay a sea of lights, floating seemingly miles above the ground.
While I may not love the overwhelming atmosphere of the city as much as I love the elegance of nature’s scenery and soundtrack, there is something mesmerizing about the life-stream of streets that forever echo with the sounds of the citizens that inhabit it. Some people have their birds and crickets, while others have their taxis, and construction crews. The sounds are different, but the equilibrium remains the same.
Regardless of location, I enjoyed my vacation to the fullest. I was in good company, and I look forward to many more trips with her in the future.
All was silent.
But in a flash of unscripted, awe-inspiring inevitability, the supernova shook the far corners of my color-spattered night sky and the stars came raining down over our heads. This impressive display of cosmic death occurring took place in a field, with a radiant wave of star-light illuminating the emerald hue of the grass around our forms. As the fireworks show from light-years out formed its flower above our heads, and the field of life upon which we rested swayed in the twilight-caressed breeze, chestnut eyes met with dual turquoise pools, glowing as brightly as the anomaly unfolding around us. In that momentary lapse of purity, it was unknown to either of us whether the miracle at hand was the sight we beheld, or the one laying next to us in the last field on earth. At that moment though, it didn’t matter. What did, was the gentle swaying as the strings of light from the night sky rocked our terraformed hammock side to side for eternity.
My visions upon awakening never stray too far from “immaculately retained”. Luckily for me, this one outlasted the nightmares and novel pleasures alike. This dream was brought on for the first time not by an aspiration, but by reality itself. That’s right children. Finally, the dawn has come for me in this epoch of modern glory. As I realize the treatment I have brought upon myself unwillingly is now unconsciously bringing me to a better place, I’ve now reassured myself that I have done the right thing. It’s not a matter anymore of how much I want to wallow in apathy over it. It’s not stopping me anymore, and too long has it been since I’ve thoroughly enjoyed myself without the state of mind of being trapped within a bubble of secluded caution. I can now step out of the metaphorical cave created by the great Plato, or perhaps it is that the cave was created by myself, and he just helped me to realize that? For whatever reason that may be, I’ve now entered into the realm of “good” and will now begin to build once more upon something that I believe is 100% worth it.
No one believes me either. Maybe it’s for the simple fact that I’ve spent so much time ushering a cynical viewpoint to the frontlines that people have forgotten that I know how to use optimism, or perhaps it’s the endless cycle of disappointments that I’ve warned people of; so much so that when I actually show them with a genuine form of sincerity something to be overjoyed by, they mistake it for satire on my part and laugh it off.
This isn’t a joke though. By no means is this a means of me executing long-form sarcasm to show my contempt for something. This isn’t an exercise of my constant ranting, in an attempt to bring light to a subject that most people don’t consider. It’s not a grasping at straws type of desperate plea for some form of human interaction, or emotional attachment. I’m not leading you on in this post just to tell you at the end “abandon all hope, you aimlessly over-optimistic tool”!
No, for once I’m going to stick to the simplistic approach of informing you that I found something worth looking forward to everyday. Not just for the trivial, explicit means that most people consider relevant either. Those are fine and dandy, but once you’ve had enough of it you realize that it either 1) all tastes the same, or 2) feels not unlike the rest. Pointless is swiftly followed by monotonous, and after a while you’d kill yourself just to have something different. It’s the song stinkfist all over again, but this time you take it seriously because it’s happening to you. The same cheap smile; the intolerable awkward few minutes of ridiculous silence immediately following your shameful attempt to feel something other than utter disregard of moral action.
Now you understand what polar opposite it is I speak of, I’m sure. We’re speaking of the same now. You get it, don’t you? It’s the cruel joke you have to double take on to realize someone set you up. It’s the money on the ground; placed so eerily precise that you are forced to scan your entire environment to ensure that you’re not the pawn in some dramatic scheme to play at your avarice. It’s the perfect wardrobe, with all necessary details designed to your specifications. It’s the book, or movie that leaves you in tears because of how frightfully accurate the plot was to a situation that might just as easily happen to you. I’m talking about the person, who knows all too much. The individual who grasps exactly what you’re talking about, to the degree that you almost don’t require the conversation, but relive it anyways so you can know what it looks like for someone to make you happy when they retort with why they agree with you.
It’s the phone call from an old friend; the chance to crawl in bed after a long day of exhaustive futility. It’s the comforting set of warm hands on your shoulder as you make a difficult decision, empowering you to do what is necessary. It’s the feeling of drowning, and the hand extending downward through waves of punishment to embrace you and pull you back to the surface once more. It is the light in the darkness, and the sunrise after a merciless night. It’s the mystery of not knowing, and the certainty of reassuring yourself that it’s worth it. You know now, don’t you?
Maybe it’s that one bit of happiness that you had at a single moment. It was that one, fleeting expression of belonging. It was what years, perhaps even decades of decaying friendships, decaying relationships, and blissfully ignorant relatives never bestowed upon you. It was that moment you first held hands with someone who you adored, and bashfully tried not to sweat into their palm as you quaked in your shoes. It was that moment you realized, that this entire post is about the person you either care for the most, or are perpetually searching for.
Without sounding like a hopelessly smitten child on the verge of tearing down the wall of fortitude that has been constructed through years of bad attitude; For the first time in years, I can say I’m actually more than content currently. It brings me joy to consider possibilities now, and with her help…maybe those possibilities can become our reality.
The song rings true once more, as it did on Valentine’s Day of this year. For those of you who have read this, a song by Dark Tranquillity comes to mind called “Iridium”. The song is of course up for open interpretation, but for me it has come to be known as my anthem of finding belonging. For what it is worth now, I believe I’ve finally found Iridium; however she hasn’t travelled millions of light-years away in a bright fireball of cosmic transcendence. She was sitting right next to me in a dream, watching it all happen with eyes as bright as the stars I compare them to.
Let the horizon lead
On through the ether of the night
Dragged across the burning heavens
Flying homeward like a burdened soul
Shattered into a million brighter stars
we fragile, naked, rare
Scattered across forever
Out from creations core
An end beyond compare
Now is the time to leave
We lie awake, we stand afire
At the edge of the world
Above, mirror of light
Below, the mantle of the stars
And strangely they fall
Shattered into a million brighter stars
we fragile, naked, rare
Scattered across forever
Out from creations core
An end beyond compare
Shattered into a million brighter stars
we fragile, naked, rare
Scattered across forever
Out from creations core
An end beyond compare
An end beyond compare
Today marks the second year in a row I’ve been left behind by someone I generally regarded as important on THIS fucking day.
I’m starting to see a relatively unsettling pattern setting in. Of what I can only consider as myself lost in this apathetic storm of pitiful aimlessness, I’m attempting to hold it together. The only question relevant though remains; how do you face down those whom you try to reassure, and lie to them by informing them that things are going to be okay. It’s the worst, most shameless display of dishonesty one can bequeath to another. What’s left, is a festering mess of horrific “what ifs”, “maybes”, and warm feelings that something somehow or another was remedied by the slight fluctuation of energy from negative to positive.
I’ve now taken down a readily available collection of logic from those of whom around me believe it a necessary action to shield themselves from any and all shades of gray. As it would seem; there is not enough of a supply of apathy in this image driven, avariciously fueled cestpool. This is why, they’ve deemed it appropriate to use every excuse in the book as to why it’s perfectly fine to quit, and give up. Why it’s important to give advice, and never take it. Why it’s fine and dandy to presume the role of the mentor, but when asked to show for their efforts, they shy away so fucking swiftly you’d think they weren’t there to begin with.
I’m going to publish the collection of shut-outs, passion plays, futile pseudo-shame, and pathetic copouts in an anthology called “Sorry”, because it seems to be the last word you get out of anyone in that situation. It doesn’t mean a thing, nor should you bother yourself to think that it does. Sorry is the word most commonly used by people who wish to convince you that they actually gave a fuck in the first place. They, as well as the well-oiled machine that is propelling them always strive to ensure that you know how “sorry” they were to begin with. Sorry means everything is better, and when everything is better you can go back to forgetting exactly how well everyone treats everyone else around them.
As it appears, I care too much. Of course, I tell every single person around me I don’t. You evidently have to, because it’s an unwritten rule that people who care are the first to be picked off. I didn’t crawl out of middle and high school, just to come out morally superior. Those days are long since gone, and I’ve tried my damnedest since then to make a worse person out of myself that way I can finally get what I’ve always desired, which is to slowly devour the tears of those around me who can only metaphorically represent those who did the same to me so long ago. This process is a vain, tireless exercise that never ends because by the time you’re done watching out for all of those bad people, the good people have already gone and turned you into Julius Caesar. They stare, and try to feel some sort of emotion that could be described as empathy, but they’ve never come close to it. Empathy is reserved for people who have ACTUALLY been where you are now, and are now visualizing the recurrence within themselves.
So, what have you got now? Let’s see. You have a short list of disappearance acts, shrugged shoulders, cowardly shadows, and the world’s longest list of excuses swiftly followed by “I’m sorry…but”. I have all but absolutely lost my zeal for that which I love. A flag once waved by multitudes who understood, has been carelessly thrown to the dirt without a second glance. It can’t be construed any other way. There’s not a viewpoint behind this shit anymore. There’s not a “well you don’t understand” situation left. I can’t even begin to think that I’m STILL over-analyzing and exaggerating as to the details of how little those around me actually pretend to care anymore. I can’t even receive a confirmation of action from people at all now. It’s nothing but ideas that are whispers lost on the wind, and ambitions crushed beneath waves of forceful disregard. No one has informed me of what they WILL do in ages, only what they’d like to do. With such blatant neglect, and with an all but blind-eye to their task, I don’t even bother counting on people who say that anymore. They wait for me to act, or for others to step forward. It’s not a good move, nor is it admirable or a sign of reliability. That’s a sign of weakness, and every moment that people tell me what they want is another moment of tribulation as I scream inside my own head.
What’s worse, is that now I see that the most endangered species on the planet isn’t a sea creature being rapidly poached; it’s not a bird being slowly eradicated due to deforestation. It’s not a rare predator, that has been viciously hunted for its scarce and precious hide. No, the creature most in danger of disappearing from the face of the Earth forever, is the leader. Whether it be the fear of failure, or the perpetual need to constantly maintain a sense of insanity in the face of all opposition; the leader population anywhere is swiftly approaching zero. Look around you. Name the last time you had someone you could honestly look up to and know that they are taking charge while others retreat. My group of friends used to BE those people. We weren’t just a circle of those not wanted by others. It was the joy of knowing no one else would be stepping up to do what we do. We would more than excitedly stretch our long arms out, and embrace the children who appeared at our doorstep. It wasn’t about figures, statistical evaluation and the sake of trying to be something that was the husk of an entity.
We never sat idly by and wondered what we could get if we tried. We made that happen time, and time again. People were envious at how close we were; the idea of how driven we were to accomplish any and all goals was an inspirational mind-fuck to our generation. We lived by our code, and understood it perfectly. Without faltering, I ushered forward every step of the way, certain that we were heading for rough waters but it was alright, because I had the best crew any captain could ever desire.
All apathy aside, my group now faces the outmost crossroads. They must either wither and come to accept this, or stand and become the final resistance. There’s no more simple way out. It won’t be easy, or enjoyable. Will we be able to cross the uncertain waters of ruin? Will our name become an echo in the museum of leaders?
Great peril awaits us, beyond the black river;
sounded by the beating of drums.
Our number is few
Our errand is dire.
We do what must be done.
And so it was written.
Each letter was carefully placed in structured harmony; thus forming the protecting barrier of cautious serenity, in which only happiness and purposeful creation could be spread. There was none who could attest to the insincerity of the message itself. Fragile glass words sheltered behind what could’ve only been viewed as quite possibly the most emotionally driven passage to ever be relayed to someone. It seemed so simple, and accomplished that by the end of reading through the immaculately crafted screenplay, even I was madly in love with the author for her work.
Much could be said now about what appears wonderful, but is ultimately false. Many of you have perhaps found yourself staring humiliation in the face; a cold torrent of failures fled, that of which was avoidable but unforseen. In a world where all around you seems distraught and untrustworthy, who would’ve figured it to be that whom you hold sacred?
Absolutely, it’s understandable to feel grief over it. I could only call it natural to think that you, like me have the image of that moment stuck in your head; forceful echoes of opportunities lost and dreams shattered because of a slight lapse of wavering caution. So powerful that even the strongest urges to return to reason are cast aside in favor of the warm blanket of precious gratitude. You accept the guilty pleasure, and embrace it as if it were your token of intimate fortitude.
I used to carry with me a much less cynical disposition. That of which was one that enjoyed trivial joys, and preferred the bright spectrum of awareness to the various novelties of frivolous compassion distribution. As those close to me may remark upon; I used to be a much more morally acceptable character. I used to be of the sort sounded the trumpet anytime I felt danger close, or cheered at the minor victories accomplished. I was the one who gave gracious attention to those around me because I knew it was important to consider all possibilities and viewpoints. I trusted whoever crossed my path because I viewed the human race as a species that generally wanted what was best for everyone, and hoped for prosperity as aimlessly as I did. Now that I’ve come to understand that in a black and white rainbow, there’s a hell of a lot of gray in between. There is no human being too trustworthy to not watch carefully, no battle that should be entered without a firm grasp of the repercussions therein.
One must forgive my analogies, as they could only seem more brutal and frank than I intend to endow the situation with. In retrospect now, I’ve seen myself as only the master could see their dog. The faithful, and forgiving lap-terrier that day by day tirelessly follows their friend around until one day, master dies. With that comes the unexpected, and undeserved sense of abandonment and desertion. I then dwell on master’s final metaphorical resting spot until the time comes, where I slowly starve myself to death. I can only embrace this reality that I’ve created for myself, as I have become my own antagonist and mentor in this trustless, and lustless purgatory in which I merely muse and draw useless conclusions to rant to others about. I have become the ultimate over-thinker in a world where no one remembers that step one entails that there is another step immediately following it.
Perhaps one can empathize with the idea that it’s not just me experiencing this either. There are plenty of others like myself, who are caught in their own tale of paradise lost, attempting to figure out what exactly got you to this spot, and why it feels as though you’ve been forsaken by your own sky. Meticulous delusions of desperation parade ceaselessly, as you lose sleep and sanity over irrelevant fantasies that even you don’t believe in, and your stuck once more in treachery, right where you remember leaving off before you became an optimist.
Of what you could only deem a futile tirade of tearful truths, I’ve placed myself in the wings of Lucifer, and for whatever misguided reason I’m now pacing the territory I now possess, ready to escape my ever-growing prison of fruitless fervor.
– O-Yama (formerly known as Jake)