In A Prison

Did you know today is Blog Action Day? Join bloggers from around the world and write a post about what inequality means to you. Have you ever encountered it in your daily life?


Inequality is like being locked in a prison
With no one to see or hear you
No matter how much you shout for help
You are all alone and there is no one around to care
I’ve been in this type of prison many times in life
Nowadays I feel more free but as a young adolescent it was a tough battle
I had to endure taunts and long uncomfortable stares
Whispers behind my back, little things that cowered me further into a shell
I feel like I was born with the most unforgiving inequalities:
Bad eyes, can’t drive, trouble with relationships, futile job searches, being turned down every time, bad hips, scoliosis, getting discouraging thoughts about life, feeling of hopelessness
The broader inequality prison today for me is in terms of money and power
How certain people get top priority and special treatment over others just because of fame or name recognition
It angers me inside how unfair life can be
How the world still views money as the driving force between individuals
But there is nothing I can do about it
Because I am within the boundaries of a prison
I can only go so far before hitting a hard invisible wall like in video games
Looking up, I can see the faintest way over this barrier
But it is very, very high and slick and all I have is a single length of long rope
I’ve tried many times to throw that rope over the wall
Only to have it fall back down to earth in a pathetic heap
I still have not given up hope though
There is still a chance for me
Graduating from college with a degree has given me an edge
Someday I’ll be strong enough to get that rope over the wall
And scale over it to reach new, exciting places
But for now I’m trapped in an inequality prison
And life is neither good nor bad, but mediocre


Daily Prompt 10/16/14

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WPC: Earning Cash, Saving Lives

0213 Saving A Life

This picture was taken back in February 2014 at the CSL Plasma center in Lansing, Michigan where my family and I go to donate plasma (the pale-yellow, mainly water portion of the blood) and earn about sixty dollars per week on two separate days: $20 on the first and about $40 on the second. At the time I was working on a 365 day photo project and this sign seemed like a great addition to the mix. The photograph means something special to me because my family and I are actually saving people’s lives (in a fragmented way) by supplying various hospitals and clinics with the essential components from our donated plasma, including proteins and antibodies, needed to make certain life-saving medicines. This is a multibillion dollar worldwide business that is viewed both strongly and negatively by various organizations because of the immediate dangers of pathogenic diseases such as AIDS/HIV being spread through the blood, tainting the plasma, and infecting patients receiving it but this seems to be under control. Continue reading “WPC: Earning Cash, Saving Lives”

The Four Pillars

The daily verbiage. A nice touch to a day that has been quite the ordinary. Four simple words that look so innocent on the surface but are perplexing to put any thought into. Me in my sleepy state can’t quite get everything out to tackle this.

To be. To have. To think. To move.

Hmm…this is a tough one to decipher. Who am I? Which verb describes me best?  Am I connected to any of them the most? These are strong verbs. Basically the verbs that form the core of the human experience. The four pillars of everyday life.

The one that sticks out the most for me is to think. I am an avid thinker, I think all the time, about lots of things, ideas mostly. I’m always thinking of that next idea that will be big for me, but sadly when I try to live it out for real my expectations can not be fulfilled. There was once a brilliant idea of mine to learn to play the guitar and learn music but that has faded quite a bit in favor of other interests. I’m still thinking about playing again, maybe when something inside me tells me it’s about time, a certain emotion; when I first pluck those strings after a long absence my mind is instantly gratified, a veil being lifted over my head, and I go to a far away happy place. Ok, the sleepiness is gone now. I feel like a car engine that had to get warmed up out of the icy cold and now is running at maximum power…

We are all thinkers but not everyone thinks constructively – giving top priority to things that really matter and will be beneficial to them, instead of letting the negative nellies block the way and bring them down. Those negative nellies are with me everyday and I try hard to fight them and find something positive in myself. There are always thoughts about me doubting my self-worth and wondering why I am slacking behind when I could be running down my dreams at a full pace. The positive thoughts that happen to extinguish these demons in my head are the ones that look like a burst of bright light; the light at the end of the tunnel; the storm clouds dissipating. Music always seems to invoke good thoughts into me and make me refocus on my life goals that get sidetracked sometimes by my worries and fears. “Don’t You Worry Child” by Swedish House Mafia is one song that instantly instills hope and confidence in myself.

To be…is about my life goals and aspirations – but I am not so dedicated to those as I should be; I don’t find myself chasing them constantly. In fact, my dreams are vague and undefined most of the time or are rapidly changing to best suit my interests. In my life I have gone from wanting to be a carpenter or architect to being an artist, to being a musician, to becoming an engineer, to becoming a photographer, and now to becoming a writer. They aren’t really things I want to be prominently, just things I happen to be on a minimal level.

To have…the first thing that comes to mind is money of course, but then most importantly love; I’m constantly waiting for that hole in my heart to be filled but it seems to be alluding me. I have an accomplishment of getting a degree from college in engineering but that has to equate to the to be part of finding a career in that field.

To think…getting my words down, having daily thoughts about my supposed future. Assessing my true feelings, my true self. Wondering what makes me special, what’s my clear defined purpose on this planet.

To move…this one involves me wanting to break out of my box that I live in to roam wild. My photography aspirations are dying for this verb to be more in action since it is the only way I can truly find those ‘diamond in the roughs’ that photographers constantly search for and advance their skills. But there is a profound comfort of being stuck in one place. I love being home and having my family around me all the time. I feel happy and content. If I was on my own I find it would be harder for other people to love me because I’m just not that kind of person. I don’t like to open myself up to everyone spontaneously; only when I am coaxed into it and trust has been built can I truly reveal my full character and then it actually feels fantastic for me to take a big step like that.

To be, to have, to think, to move — which of these verbs is the one you feel most connected to? Or is there another verb that characterizes you better?

Eudaimonia

Aristotle, one of the greatest thinkers of western philosophy, taught us that happiness is a virtue, not its reward. This means that happiness is a gift that is not to be taken for granted. It is the ultimate purpose of our existence. It does not come and vanish in a mere couple of hours. Happiness depends on ourselves. We choose to be happy. Aristotle gave a true definition of happiness:

…the function of man is to live a certain kind of life, and this activity implies a rational principle, and the function of a good man is the good and noble performance of these, and if any action is well performed it is performed in accord with the appropriate excellence: if this is the case, then happiness turns out to be an activity of the soul in accordance with virtue. (Nicomachean Ethics, 1098a13)

Am I a good judge of other people’s happiness? That depends. I don’t know if I’m truly happy myself. My self-absorption clouds my judgment, I can’t look past my inner demons to realize others are facing predicaments that question the nature of their existence. This is tough. I am more inclined in seeing the sadness in people. Since I am a loner and often have depressive states, seeing people on a level of my own makes me feel better because I know they have something in common with me: this insurmountable wall that I cannot seem to get over. But I feel safer on the other side anyway because I don’t have to face my struggles with human interaction and emotion. Stepping out into the light bothers me. I feel better being isolated and not having to win the acceptance of someone else because when I fail at that I often become even more depressed.

I close my eyes for a while, trying to think of a time when I knew someone was happy. For some reason, my late grandmother comes to mind. I am standing by her bedside, seeing her lying there, pale and cold as ever, holding on to her last few breaths of life. She has lost all focus of the world and her words and actions are not entirely hers, coming about from the Alzheimer’s that has progressed ruthlessly. I can tell she is happy and content inside, even if it isn’t readily apparent, because very soon she will be going to a better place, away from the agony and suffering that has been cast upon her. This is not like her. She has always been a strong woman, always alert and on her feet. I hate to see her struggle like this, acting like a totally different person and scaring me. I can tell she doesn’t want to go through with this sickness any longer, wants to rest in peace, be in a state of happiness. A deep depression washes over me. My mind is numb as ice. I can’t quite decipher any emotions for this experience. I guess I just realize dying is the natural part of life and learn to get over it. Grieving is painful. I don’t know how to deal with it. I’m trapped in my mind. Nothing can get out. It is a dark void. There is no where to go but straight. Behind me is just the shadows of despair. The road is foggy up ahead. I am so young, unable to take the burden of this loss.

I’m tired. I can’t go on any longer.


 In Response to the Daily Prompt: Happy Radars

Amateur Tent-Makers

With constant reminders that we, the mix and match bunch from Michigan, will be going away for about seven days to live like village people, I have been wondering just how we are going to survive. Yes, we will have tents and lots of other gear such as bug spray and flashlights but actually living in the great outdoors without the magnetic force of a computer nearby is rare. Sure, I have been camping before, at Mystic Lake in fifth grade, but I got to stay in a nice heated cabin with electricity and a bunk bed, not lying on the ground as a huge thundercloud rages over. There was also a nice bathroom near the cabin that I visited frequently during the night. Where we are going, there won’t be those luxuries, which is a challenge I like and am ready to face. Of course, it is not going to be true wilderness – the place is going to be regulated – but being out there with nature is something a lot of people should invest part of their life in.

A lot of people waste their summer, though, sitting in front of screens playing mindless computer games or banging on plastic toy drums that sound like (censored). Of course, not everyone has a readily accessible pool right near their house that they are not responsible for keeping cleaned and maintained (which becomes such a chore that you feel like giving up and wonder why you bought the damn thing). Our Windham Hills pool is great because it provides a place for the community to cool off and relax after a hard day. It’s open to just about anyone nowadays – the check in/check out list isn’t enforced very well and there isn’t always a hired pool attendant/supervisor down there who even cares. Still, there is some control. Kids that are wild and rambunctious will be told to stop or get kicked out. I find it really annoying when a kid makes a huge cannonball jump in the water and I get the full force of the splash. There is hardly anyone of my age group down there also, since it’s mostly kids who barely know how to count and are still in the early stages of elementary school.

Most of the clan came up to the water hole today as well as the rest of the neighborhood. I like to have room to spread my arms out and do a few laps around the pool but with it looking like the Atlantic Ocean during the aftermath of the Titanic sinking I mostly stick to one spot, near my odd but loving family. Yeah, they are all misfits in their god-given ways and wouldn’t come within twenty feet of Hollywood but my folks are simple, easy to get along with, and live their life without caring what others say about it.

The Nokia girl comes back to my uncle Jack and I and reminds us that the cleaning job she was offering us is still on, albeit strangely. Its seems legit and I have been waiting for a steady paying job for sometime now. Maybe the answer lies with a woman who has a friend nicknamed Goober and swims around in a pink inner tube acting just like a little kid. Business woman…hmmm….I guess anyone can own a business these days. Is this woman serious or just psycho? I’ll see but I’m leaning more towards the latter just to be smart about it.

The sun is hot so sunscreen is a must. I try to once again get that illusive tan and am actually more successful today. Lying on the chaise lounge is relaxing. I am able to wash away my worrisome thoughts and regain focus on things I want to accomplish in my life. And one of them is definitely not getting that stupid bike of mine fixed.

Jack said he had a present for me when I got home from swimming. Like in most cases, I was like “okay, it’s probably something cheap or silly that will probably be gone in a few minutes and I won’t care about it”. But when I popped open Emily’s trunk and saw a medium sized duffel bag, Jack said it was a tent for our camping trip. Well, that’s good. I will not be forced to sleep in the same tent as Charles and mom, which would be a nightmare. We immediately went to getting the tent set up in the yard. It seemed simple at first but then trouble set in. I have never set a tent up before and getting those pesky poles upright to support the tent was difficult but not torture. With a little bit of help from Charles, the bearded man with the know-it-all attitude and technology that could rival the U.S. Government, the tent went up in no time. The result was a 10 by 8 foot tent with enough room for about four to five people, depending on size. Jack and I would have probably been out there longer if it wasn’t for Charles. He helped us fix some mistakes, like the knot in the roof I tied wrong, and gave us advice but I believe I could get the tent up by myself next time. The secret to getting the ruddy thing up was forcing the flexible poles into their foot slots when it felt like they wouldn’t budge anymore. The tent had to be moved left and right and the stakes adjusted in the ground, stretching the tent out.

Of course I wanted to sleep in the tent the first night so that’s exactly what happened, with the addition of Jack. With a few blankets and a small, uncomfortable pillow, along with my phone that I call my extended arm, I made it through my first night under the stars. I have stayed in a tent one other time in my life, up in Cheboygan while on visit to John Wrosch’s sister’s and family’s house. My sisters and I shared it since it was large enough that we didn’t have to sleep right next to each other (which would have been awkward).

It was different back then. I was thirteen and going through the tough sledding of adolescence while going to a school full of hard-knock ghetto kids who would knock you down and make you feel like the most worthless, terrible thing in the world. Now I am twenty-one and free to take on the world as I choose with no one to stand in my way and tell me I cannot do anything.

Okay, I’m being too dramatic. I’m just in a tent outside my house with the ever so talkative, spieling Jack Draffen keeping me company. It’s nice to have someone on my level, though, who I can have a conversation with without them being too overbearing. Jack has always been that way to me, a kind of friend who I can talk to whenever I want without feeling scared. We are probably the biggest goofs when it comes to things like pitching a tent, moving furniture, making a garden, fishing, playing sports, or meeting women. Whatever Jack says I usually listen to and respond with simple answers, even if I am not totally interested. We usually have simple conversations, such as one tonight where he is going on about what we need for our camping trip and the prospect of learning to fish for the first time and if we will even catch anything. He pitches in ideas and I pitch in ideas – like a tandem bicycle working towards the same goal. It’s this kind of bondmanship/team work that makes us a great pair and I would like to see that continue on but I know it will be hard since I want to move on with my life and Jack won’t be here forever. He was actually the first person that I felt comfortable having a good conversation with. Before him, I was usually confined to a shell, occasionally saying a few hellos or asking a question. I have really opened up since then and am better at conversing with anyone in general. I don’t mind Jack stating the obvious, the fact that with every piece of new technology he encounters he needs my expertise to show him how to use it, or that he needs help spelling any word in the English language longer than 4 letters. He has his quirks, like naming objects such as his radio (Chauncey) and his newer radio (Chauncey Jr.). He’s had some of the same problems as I’ve had in life – being trapped in a lonely box with no way out and no one who understands how to help you. Thankfully I got help and found a way out, and it’s been a struggle or failures and successes. From my first day of school to now being an amateur tent-maker I have learned the ropes and have experienced life. There is still a long road unwinding for me and where it takes me I will soon find out. Only I can decide that. Right now though, I am lying on the floor of a tent, listening to the wind and rain pattering the roof, the cars rumbling by, and the sound of water dripping and splattering into the mud pit we call a garden.

our mud pit is not exactly like this but close