Closing art by Mad Kobra. Click image to visit his studio.
Listen to Live Reading
Have you ever had your mind blown in every conceivable direction? I have. Indeed, one particularly potent example of this would be the evening just passed. Having spent the past few days cowering within the darkest of emotional recesses, I witnessed a show of flickering distant lights on the horizon, the likes of which moved me to, and promptly beyond, tears. To be perfectly honest, I still haven’t even begun to process the slew of kind gestures that were incoming as I bared my deepest soul and left myself as wide open as I have at any other point of my life as a scribe. Right now, I am deep in the throes of working through a number of significant traumas, the culmination of which, amounts to a lion heart which lays in fragments at my feet. However, if there is one thing the past six years have taught me, then it is that my destiny has never and will never entail the tossing in of towels. For as much as I am currently hurting in a manner all too profound, I know that I have a purpose and said purpose is to shine a light for others which will never be extinguished.
I suffer from two blights primarily. While never officially diagnosed, PTSD is very much the tree perched against my window pane. Having identified all triggers, I now have an idea how to counter this and feel blessed to be able to do so without the assistance of medication. The majority share of our psychological wiring may transpire during childhood, but any trauma present as we make the awkward transition into adulthood and each subsequent journey, has an impact. Parts of our brain metamorphose, others simply cease to operate, as last line of defence, more often than not. Throw in a reasonably hefty case of social anxiety and you have yourself a damaged little soldier. No more so than any other and I am always hyper-aware that I’m, in no way, exclusive. But, just to be crystalline clear, any confidence and belief I possess in my ability as a scribe, doesn’t necessarily translate into everyday interaction.
Can be tough being your own fiercest critic. That being said, I wouldn’t actually change this dynamic in the slightest. It’s what keeps me striving and, as self-professed poster child for positivity, I will forever search for the upside to any shakedown. Tend to be something of a Nazi when holding mirror up to my own reflection and, while meeting and greeting is a strength of mine, anyone paying close enough attention will discern the timid cub who doubts he has anything worthwhile to interject. In truth, I mask this pretty well. As my favorite pastime is elevating the spirits of others higher than my own. Should I be present at a social gathering, then nothing thrills me more than working the room, sprinkling stardust on each and every soul I glance within it, in turn. Likewise, when taking to the potentially terrifying social platforms I utilize, my go-to action is to spread joy and belief in others as wide and far as the opportunity presents. And, all the while, I’m often questioning my own validity and purpose. Needless to say, this has been known to prove deeply exhausting on an emotional level.
Mercifully, I am seen. Perhaps not always as I may appear a particularly elusive creature and this has been known to frustrate on occasion, understandably I hasten to add. But anyone who has followed the breadcrumb trail of prose from the commencement of this pilgrimage will be aware that this is never with anything other than sense of self-preservation. Have been in recovery the whole while and could not have made it thus far, had I not limited interactions to peeking between the blinds when the storm clouds have been at their most fearsome. The key is that I invariably head back towards the light at some point, as such illumination has remained ever constant while I’ve been solving all manner of personal conundrums.
I have blood relatives and do cherish them unquestionably, one and all. Howbeit, while under no illusion that they don’t love me back and wouldn’t mourn me sincerely and deeply, were I ever to pass, no connection is more critical than the ones I have forged with perfect strangers and nurtured into the unbreakable threads of chosen family. The reason for this is simple – it is here, within these rivers, where I open my heart to its very widest, regardless of whether or not there is fresh scar tissue on display. The soul within me is present in each and every syllable bled from the quill I brandish, akin to broadsword of a true Viking brave. Nothing is off-limits and I have found acceptance here amongst chosen blood, the likes of which has made me feel a part of something genuine and non-dependant on parameters. I’m an artist, the days of being a blogger passed the very moment I began to realise my innermost potential and learn how to translate that into rhythmic verse, be that written or, more recently, spoken.
Here is where you can always find me. Always see me. Feel me. Taste me. Open wings to span and embrace me. I’m a hugger by nature. Such will never ever be subject to change. No seedy designs on reaching around for the grope, no lusting thoughts of rattling bones or unleashing the Kraken upon the bride of the seas. Nothing nearly that sordid. Now, I do feel duty bound to interject at this point, that I have had my moments in the past. The thing is, with regards to my second childhood, these were very much my adolescent years. Know me intimately and you will see that I am a gentleman always. And my endeavors are never any less than both tasteful and respectful. Guess I’d be what one would class as an old-fashioned guy. What can I say? My initial wiring was very much geared towards treating others with the same respect I would hope to be treated with myself.
I do make connections instantly. And do begin as I mean to carry on forevermore. Should I announce that I love you, then that doesn’t mean I have a chloroform-soaked rag behind my back and narrowed eyes only for seduction. I’m simply pure love and at my most leisurely when expressing that openly. No ulterior motives or cruel intentions to close a deal only one party is consciously aware of. Right now, my lion heart is in a slipshod state, and I appreciate the importance of gradual healing. The thing is, I’m so much stronger now than I was even three months back, and refuse to spend too long in the doldrums when life can prove so decidedly fickle. Too much work afoot to deny myself the air all about me, particularly when my lungs currently resemble a pair of aged carpet slippers doused in brick-dust. Shall keep on loving, to no ends, as it simply is the nature of the beast. And this heart of mine will heal over time. Providing I provide it with the oxygen and light required to make it through each blackened night and seize the timeless day beyond it.
The evening just passed, my mind was blown in every conceivable direction, and it seems fitting that I return now to the original point I wished to make. I needed collective strength. Received it in an embarrassment of wealth. Needed to be seen as the Viking brave I am. And boy, was I seen. Humbled doesn’t even skim the skin of the blancmange and it will take a few days yet for me to even begin to process that one. Needed more than ever before, other than one chilly November evening in 2017, to witness a leap of faith. Not for the purpose of self-gratification. To see a soul I cherish infinitesimally overcome a huge obstacle to breathing the very sweetest air, deprived for so long by life’s most wicked of games, and quite simply take a leap of divine innocence. Such pleases me beyond. Thus, at the close of a day which had commenced with the familiar twist within my abdomen groping my will to continue with filthy hands, I slipped away into slumberland peacefully and wearing wide smile of pride, bereft of prejudice.
There has been no villain of the piece here. Other than fate for cruelly snatching away one of my lifetime personal heroes, with nary a tremor of warning. True love may appear to have been subtracted from the equation but I know very well how this works. And the rawness will subside to reveal the same feelings just where they were left, just momentarily. There is a period of readjustment to undergo and I get that. But my goals remain precisely the same. To witness the full and total recovery of one so utterly magnificent. I am the victim of nothing. Merely circumstances out of either one of our control. When you truly love another, selfish thoughts naturally dissipate. For you place them on the higher ground and never once lose sight of their own need for clear vantage point. Thus, my actions will ever remain dignified. For I have not been knowingly wronged. This is so very much more than all about me. Things I abhor – jealousy, blind hatred, passive aggression, snap judgement, and undignified pursuits that arise from things not working out quite like we’d hoped and dreamed they would. None of which I shall ever subscribe to.
Moving forth, this is me. I’m the guy who will never one time click the “Like” tab, when one exists for “Love”. I’m also the one who will happily retweet any praise extended to my work. Given just how much time I spend on my front-of-house feed, it would seem ludicrous not to bask in such incandescent rays, particularly given my tendency to be too hard on myself. I’m inspired frequently by those around me and, make no mistake, my mind has been blown in a multitude of directions not even conceivable, before such genuine warmth of feeling has been projected. I am of Viking blood. Any mantra extended me I shall wear ever so proudly. But, as the timid cub I am right now, I shall not self-proclaim unless such is offered up through interaction. Again, this is simply the nature of the beast. Plus, I still need to reclaim all of the fragments of my obliterated mind after an evening nothing whatsoever less than massively spiritually healing.
Thank you, one and all, for seeing me. For believing there is indeed magic within this soul of mine. And for affording me one thing entirely unconditional. I am a creature of the light. One who gets one almighty sick kick from playing in the Shadowlands. Darkness falls upon me regularly and, on occasions such as the evening just passed, can appear all-encompassing. However, thanks to the distant lights that have guided me through the dense mists, said soul is never ever in any danger of being taken. I may have my quiet moments where I prefer to observe from the sidelines as opposed to dive in like Jacques Cousteau on uppers. I may be a cheeky little monkey when I spot a fresh banana skin to make phallic suggestion of. And, I will most certainly continue to deliver razor-wire prose for those who discern the healing balm within. Most of all, I shall be me and unflinchingly so. My mind may be blown wide open right now. My lion heart mortally broken. But rest assured, this immortal soul of mine is so much more than customary token. It is all I am. Way more besides. It is home, sweetest home with chosen tribe. Will never ever be denied. And with the blood of Odin coursing every particle imparting none too distant lights. And only truth in my eyes. Shall arise.
Richard Charles Stevens