Written during a trip to London with my husband, this piece documents a pivotal and transformation period of time where I began to rediscover a sense of self by letting go of self. A candid journey inward, questioning what it means to be human, to be a father, to be a gay man, but most importantly to be authentic.
Experiencing love is linked to higher self-esteem, improved immune system, lower blood pressure, and various other health benefits. For many, achieving love is akin to self-actualization: it is the ultimate goal of life and synonymous with true happiness. The desire to attain love can lead to obsession, codependence, and intense fears of rejection. Without love, we feel unworthy. So, what happens when love becomes additive? When a fundamental human faculty is utilized excessively, transforming a healing experience into a damaging one? Is it better to have loved and lost, or better to have never loved at all?
One inescapable attribute of the human condition is that events do not always proceed as people expect, intend, or wish. Another characteristic of the human condition is that humans rarely, if ever, find an optimal solution to any problem or situation. Nevertheless, people manage, muddle through, and find a path that works for them. “Phone Tag” addresses those and other aspects of what it means to be human. The characters in “Phone Tag” see, as people in the real world see every day, that small, even minute, perturbations in external conditions and circumstances can lead to enormous differences in results.
“Flight of Fancy” explores themes of adolescent attraction, personal freedom, disappointment, and misunderstanding. There is a strong focus on the ego as part of the human experience and the way it disrupts relationships. The protagonist is guided via his perception of supposed “signals” of attraction and acts according to what he believes is expected of him. There is rarely a display of his honest feelings; rather, he often interprets the behavior of his female companion in terms of what the other boys at the school yard have told him. There is a mode of behavior, a template, which he believes dictates female displays of attraction. That mode is of course incorrect, but the protagonist is too young and inexperienced to escape that mentality. This exploration of the protagonist’s expectations is relevant today because it speaks to the very human difficulty of establishing stable relationships early into one’s life. Due to simple inexperience, a potential relationship can be abandoned or ruined based on perception and a lack of open communication.
Mistakes or poor treatment in romantic relationships create tension and leave the individuals involved with a choice — to forgive or not to forgive? If the goal is to stay together, forgiveness is a huge part of moving on. But is the partner more likely to make the same mistakes or behave in the same inappropriate ways if forgiveness is granted? Holding the partner accountable might encourage changed behavior, but what if that doesn’t work? How do you know when the healthy choice is to forgive or to let go?
How is the self conceptualized when viewed from someone else’s perspective? This foreign perspective brews doubt and confusion within the subject’s mind. It results in a gradual decline of confidence which, in turn, leads to complacency or inaction. “Only Fools Can Be Truly Happy” draws on this confusion of self-perception and attempts to bring forth the complexity and unpredictability of human behavior.
It can be easy in today’s world — when many people’s horizons have shrunk to their living rooms, or at most a necessary outing to the darkened streets — to forget that small, seemingly insignificant acts can have both personal and political significance. This also holds true for animals. ‘The Midnight Boys’ attempts to dig under the surface of one household’s experience for the ruff truth of the human condition.
Appearing in Leviticus, the concept of a scapegoat is that of two goats — while one is sacrificed, the other is released into the wilderness to carry the sins of the community. Family dynamics and the process of development can lead to the scapegoating of a family member, as someone unfairly blamed for the errors of the group. How does a process such as this taint an individual’s worldview, faith, or trust in others?
How do ideals interfere with our ability to perceive reality? Is a jaded person just an optimist who encountered reality? This poem touches on the experience of reacting to things outside one’s control to the point at which it breaks one down.