Fleetwood Mac “The Chain”
 Bruce Springsteen “Dancing In The Dark”
How well do any one of us know ourselves? I mean, we know enough right? While none of us could possibly claim to perceive every last thing, we receive the most intelligence and the only true director’s cut is viewed through our very own eyes. Others can claim to see from our points of view on occasion and are no doubt onto something, but can only ultimately discern what we choose to outwardly project. The rest is under wraps, so much so, that we can often feel like outsiders ourselves. The amount of data I have processed in recent years has been tremendous, and each day I piece the puzzle together a little more. It’s an adventure if you choose to view it as such and, like any good escapade, comes with its very own list of perils just to keep things edgy. But we’re always learning and I have regarded this particular period of my life as a second childhood in some respects. You see, we wire as children and, while millions of neurons find homes, others are cut free and never actually utilized. Then middle age approaches like the lipstick wearing wrecking ball that it is, only minus the scent of Miley Cyrus’s rosy red petals, and swiftly obliterates everything we thought we knew. Everyone’s different I guess but that’s how it happened for me and I’m more than happy to offer up my experience to such a beautiful crowd of people as the Grueheads.
So I’m gonna make this all hearts and flowers then? Sure if you don’t mind the odd claymore lying low with intent to snap, crackle, and pop around your ankles at any given moment. No pain, no gain right? Well I make a conscious effort not to “bleed” too profusely but only because it ain’t just girls who wanna have fun. Nobody wants to hear all the grim truths I happen across when there are so many magic carpet rides to be undertaken or perhaps I’m mistaken there. Maybe that’s what some cry out for most as we’re all attempting to make sense of ourselves and it’s great when a feeling can resonate through the written word. Thus I do what I do in such instances and offer up my deep red nectar willingly as it seems only righteous to do so. That said, the quaint little sorting office in my mind is run off its feet, and days can pass at a time before I even realize that the valve needs releasing. This just so happens to be one such day and I shall attempt to place affectionately into words what has recently been sifting through my central hub. As has long been customary with me, I’ve been engaging in a spot of mental sparring, and I’m starting to suspect it’s getting a little easier you know. Better the devil you know they say and my little bugbear has a list of priors longer than Gulliver’s inside leg so I know this impish little bogie only too well. I’m also more than willing to blow his cover.
Here’s where my main strife resides – I struggle to juggle the will to continue. Sounds dreadfully bleak I know but that’s the long and short of it. There are numerous reasons to do just that and I’m fully mindful of each, but my fiend has something to say in the matter or, at least, likes to believe that he deserves one. His suggestion is that I’m wasting my time and everyone else’s just by hanging the inevitable out any longer and this is where my paradox lies. I scale flight upon flight of stairs, only to find myself three floors below my projected finish point. However, I’m at standing at the apex the whole time, so go figure. Love ’em or loathe ’em, paradoxes are anything but predictable. Needless to say it can grow tiring and more than a little disheartening but that all depends on how we choose to embrace our vantages. I do so by saying it as I see it, shooting directly from the soul cage, and channeling every last drop of angst into something we can use collectively to illuminate the path ahead. This is where it gets tricky for me as I just find these ever comical jazz hands so dang tough not to wave around but I know I must use them sparingly here as I wish for you to identify each abrasion and callus and match it to your own. Therein lies the beauty in recognition.
It truly is better out than in and, just because my ‘lil devil proposes a less than satisfactory conclusion, he’s still ultimately one voice in many. Life’s too good not to repeat until fade, even though it can simply appear too contorted a route to follow at times. Whenever I feel really desolate, I recall the fact that I haven’t the vaguest idea what awaits beyond the veil, and find this a reasonably potent smelling salt to inhale in one hit. I mean, what if there’s nothing at the end of all this? Or what if there is something but it’s far less hospitable than the current scenario? Am I able to make such a call? Not even in the slightest, there is just too much uncertainty involved so this suggestion is politely declined out of hand. Of course, habitually punishing myself is its own source of slow-burning suicide, and that is where my devil ceases playing by the rules. I guess it’s no less than I should expect for a little one with bright red horns, a forked tail, and similarly three-pronged accessory. He tries everything in his power to consistently undermine my logical side and waits in the wings for those perfect moments to strike. I’m just relieved I have been gifted the chance to know my enemy.
Of course, it’s traditionally a darned sight easier knowing than showing, and this entails a degree of hard labor on our parts as those ‘lil devils are only too happy to offer suggestion of an easy way out. In their opinion it is pointless doing today what we can leave until tomorrow and they’re more inclined to suggest simply living in the moment. If, like me, impulsive response toots with far greater urgency than cold calculation, then the carpet slippers are on before he can fire up the kiln and, for all my best efforts to “show him”, I rarely ever reach that all-important encore. Knowledge supposedly equates to power and I make that assumption bang on the money but we’re still required to know how to harness said power and the moment I’ve sussed that particular conundrum, you’ll be the first to know I assure you. I will say this however, opportunities are becoming more frequent and writing like I am currently is a display of my refusal to suck it up as per his request and instead take his very best shot square on the chin. My words are my gumshield and, with you fine people wishing me well from the ringside, I’m far more composed once those knees start to buckle. Both knowing and showing require a fair degree of perseverance, whereas growing plays out during those rare instances when our adversary is sprawled out on the canvas.
Remember that we only get a few seconds here and must make them precious as any knockdowns achieved will likely be as brief as they are uncommon and our ‘lil devils know precisely how to come back swinging. Here I am looking to make just a solitary connection with another soul just to get word out that this fiend is fallible. Should this occur then the light around me glows a little wider and brighter, in unison with another for the ultimate in two-way relay. The next time that haymaker comes a crashing, I’m supplied a split second longer to discern it approaching my personal space and can now bob and weave like a true heavyweight. It’s any pay-per-view whore’s wet dream as, just like fight night, the entire process boils down to three individual stages. Preparation is key, stamina just as much so, while victory is within our grasp if we know and show enough of what makes us human in the best way. Self-doubt and acceptance of anything less than triumph will suck away the very marrow of our will to endure if we allow such and this is where it is critical that we remember our ‘lil devils can know, show, and grow in much the same way as we should we offer such endorsement.
I’d recommend remaining light on your feet, attempting to catch your opposite number off-guard, and taking that swing of faith the very instant that you spot an opening and not one later. Each to their own with regards to fighting stance but I like to arm myself up with the following – it’s never too late to become the person you truly wish to be – or words to that effect. A tad cliché perhaps? You betcha and never let a solitary person suggest that to be a negative as I’ll take every last guilty pleasure I can get my hands on and do so willingly. Let the pessimists eat cake I say, what do they know that doesn’t involve taking their eye off the prize anyhoots? My entire life’s goal is to become the man I desire to be with every last strand of my DNA. Since becoming a father six-and-a-half years back it has all been about Jacob Nathaniel Stevens knowing his father, showing me that he can feed from any light I cast his way, and watching him grow with immense pride each time I’m in his celestial presence. It is the greatest gift a man can hope to bestow and the chief reason why I’m still growing myself well into my forties. Everything else is just a beautiful bonus. Every share I make, soul I glance, and kiss I plant along the way assists in the expansion and, for anyone knowing, showing, and growing on this journey alongside me, thank you truly, really, clearly, and forever sincerely. Now bugger off will you before I start welling up.