Oath of Silence

A silent prayer for quiet
is drown out by detestable drivel
this out of body experience of being unable
to stop myself from speaking is unbearable

Double voice of internal tongue-lashing
while arrogant assertions and petty comments
continue to spill from cracking, spiteful lips
in the moment it doesn't feel like a choice

Conversations contaminated with dread
presenting myself as someone I don't want to be
the sickening shame of perpetually poisoning
others' perceptions of me

The reoccurring oath of silence never seems to matter
when my mouth falls open again against my will
how have I still not learned how to bite my tongue
or simply speak in line with my true intention?
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Fill in the Blank

Don't allow yourself to believe
the dead space between us
is left empty or filled with
the benefit of the doubt

Anxiety and mental illness
are excellent at filling in the blanks
with haunting shadows and
viscous, hateful delusions

An "I love you" not uttered
is not assumed to be neutral
it is a shrieking echo of "I hate you"
that reverberates inside my head

A compliment offered only once
is not carried over into the future
it fizzles and is transfigured
into just another lie

Resentments are slowly added
to the waters of my soul
until an all-mighty tide of indignation
becomes a tsunami to tear you apart

An unseen pressure is surely building
like hot air inside a teapot
everyone always acts surprised
when the shrill whistle of anger erupts

Your silence speaks volumes
to a heart that needs constant reassurance
there is already too much bitterness
to make it better

Soft Escape

There is a stillness in the night
that stops all thought
I often wonder if it is supposed
to feel so sweet as I slip
underneath existence

Each morning is an agony
of renewed responsibility and expectation
awaking to find myself again confined
behind the same searching eyes
within a cumbersome prison of flesh and bone

Where is it exactly that we spend half our lives?
why does my soul seem more suited
to the ethereal landscapes of the unconscious?
why has the waking world never seemed
to hold me fully in its solid hand?

I've always looked forward to the night
to the moment I am swallowed up by
the soft oblivion behind my eyelids
even a dreamless inky darkness
to me seems simply scrumptious

I've rarely known the torment of
an agitated, incomplete night's sleep
I am equally a stranger to even a moment
of conscious rest and repose
I'm accustomed to black and white

My soul is perpetually sleepy
exhausted by the constant fires
lit within the waking world
It wants to dissipate under deep slumber
to be scattered into stardust

I can only hope that I'll be greeted
by this same strange pleasure
as I let go once more into my ultimate end
and sink beneath those familiar, dark waters
for one sublime and final time

No Internet

Yesterday morning, my internet went out for a few hours. This isn’t the first time it’s happened. I live in a very rural area and when my internet goes out, it’s out. I can’t just use my phone data or walk to a restaurant or library with free wi-fi. I’m left in utter silence, cut off from the virtual world I’ve become so dependent on.

In these instances, it is really apparent how much I rely on the internet for everything. There isn’t a moment of my existence now that isn’t supplemented in some way by this technology. I am absolutely panic stricken when I see that little wi-fi symbol go dark. I am disturbed by how much it disturbs me. I feel an overwhelming wave of desperation as I try to think of some way to get back online. My mind races with thoughts of how I’ll make it through the next hour, the next day, god forbid the next week. Whenever this happens it is a huge wake-up call. I am unable to avoid the terrible truth that I have become horrified of being truly alone with myself.

Yesterday, I managed to avoid my usual meltdown and just get really curious about my fear. What was I so afraid of? Was I really incapable of getting through a day without lo-fi hip hop playing in the background and YouTube videos to watch while I go about my daily tasks? I tried to remember what my life was like before I even had access to a computer. I’m so grateful I at least had that experience for a good portion of my life. Otherwise I might not have believed it was possible to go without.

Even though my connection came back after only around four hours, I really feel that forced time apart from the world wide web was a blessing. I always say I’m going to try to take a break from screens and the internet for a day, but quickly come to find it nearly impossible to do. The only way I ever seem to manage it is when I have no other option. Being forced to face the eerie discomfort is truly a gift. It may sound silly, but I’m proud of myself for getting through it. I was submerged in the silence I’ve grown to fear, and I made it out unscathed. In fact I was even calmer and more grateful the rest of the day because of that quiet time of uncomfortable reflection.

How do you feel when you don’t have access to the internet? Does that even happen to people much at all anymore? How do you think this dependence on something so easily lost is going to affect humanity, especially the younger generations that have never known a time without it? I’d love to know if this is just a personal problem or something all of us have come to rely on to an unhealthy extent.

The Artist

I'd love to know how others write
do they have a plan before
they put pen to paper or
place their fingers on the keys
do they know where they're going
as they embark upon this daily journey

For me writing is a chance encounter
with my secretive inner self
I never know what she has to say
until I sit down to listen
the conversation begins in silence
shyly unraveling in slow motion

Revelations of private wisdom
glimmering behind the veil
of the person I pretend to be
that funny feeling of never knowing
what's inside my own mind until
I give it space to surface

The stifling self-criticism that bars the door
to my still, secluded, subconscious sanctuary
tells me a masterpiece must have a plan
fills me with fear of wasting time translating
an underwhelming message
that doesn't matter

But conversations do not have blueprints
you can't predict which will change you
or save you suddenly from yourself
it's always worth it to take the risk
even if it's just for the pleasure
of having someone to talk to

So I faithfully open the door each morning
hoping that the artist within arrives
to tell me something beautiful 
even though some days she stands me up
she is a busy woman after all
with lots of better things to do

Outrage Fatigue

Obligated to fight for change
I bared my bloodied heart
inside my clenched fist
I was always much better
at biting off heads than
biting my tongue

Staying silent feels like defeat
it feels like surrender is
the same as giving permission
having the privilege to turn my back
and shut my eyes to the horror
of a society sliding backwards

Abandoning my sisters
just because I am safe
sounds egregious
but how can I kill myself
for a cause that can't be won
I'll only make things worse

Trying to make an impact
from a place of violence and hate
only serves to further salt the soil
beneath our bruised and tired feet
nothing good can be grown from
actions fueled by rage

It's best to hold back rather than
adding to the viscous chaos
my modest gift must be silence
sitting quietly to quell the storms
inside my own soul instead of
spewing more poison

Please forgive me
for long ago losing faith
in the human race
for not having the power
to protect anyone
but myself

When I Feel Small

Silence settles in my throat
a choking conviction that
coils around my vocal chords
a sickening, slithering sensation

A sacred connection
cruelly muffled by shame
the all consuming ocean
of not being enough

Set me free from the binding belief
that I am unworthy of witnessing
taking up spaces where
I have to earn my place, but haven't

Grant me the courage to exist
within this vast, incomprehensible world
to take what I need, what is offered to me
without guilt or apology

Give me permission to be present
to consume and create 
and collect my share of love
from the universe 

The Silence We’ve Lost

Silence is a special thing
a commodity that cannot be
boxed up in cardboard
and set on shelves for sale

Society only sees value
in the shape of dollar signs
so it's seen fit to fill 
that sacred void with noise

The saddest thing is
this absence is not even noticed by most
it feels like good fortune
to never be forced to face ourselves

We pity the people of past generations
that had to make due with their own minds
to bear the boredom of still moments
and shake hands with silence every day

We've forgotten that space is necessary
for new thoughts to be born
for inspiration to strike us
and give birth to beautiful things

Silence has become unbearable
feared above all else
A sure sign that we desperately need
to be submerged in it

Trusting in Lost Memories

silencing the inner chatter
to hear the soft hum of celestial wisdom
lifting myself above the tumultuous tides
of my own mistaken mind

finding stillness in the radio static of consciousness
to tune in to the salient source of everything
surrendering the obsession for contemplating complex patterns
in favor of opening to the energy trying to be channeled in

life's challenge is a sweet irony
a call to remember what we are
amidst the chaos of time and space
to pause long enough to transcend them

humbling ourselves to the unknowable truth
to trust in forces we cannot control
to be guided by an unseen hand
down a foggy, confused path

learning to mirror the beauty of faith
reflected back in the eyes of the innocent
by the joyous confidence of children and small beings
with blindly open hearts

our trust will not be betrayed
only the temptation to doubt will mislead us
even so we are never lost
only learning new lessons

Getting Out of My Own Way

When was the last time I truly allowed myself to do nothing? Was there ever a moment that I’ve allowed myself that space, that freedom? No matter how busy I make myself day after day, year after year, I still go to sleep at night feeling like I’ve wasted so much time. I still wake up every morning with the pressure of thinking I’ve dwindled away all the days before. I keep myself in a flurry of frenzied thoughts and trailing to-do lists. I hold my breath as I rush around my home, my office, my head, trying frantically to get as much done as possible.

I tell myself that I’m trying to do extra work to create a bubble of free time for myself in the future, but that future moment never arrives. There is always something more that I could be doing. From time to time, I become so overwhelmed, so run down by my own errands that I have to stop and try to remember why I’m even doing any of this. I must have a good reason right? What was my ultimate goal again? What’s the point of all this work?

When I ask myself these questions, it’s hard to wrap my mind around the answer that always seems to come up. My only real goal, the thing that I’m struggling so desperately to achieve is just to be happy. I become so tangled in all the techniques I’ve piled on to my daily routine in order to facilitate a happy life, that I forget happiness is a choice. All I have to do is keep making that choice in every moment. These limits and restrictions and qualifications I put on my happiness are mine to hold on to or let go of as I wish. No amount of self-help or self-care rituals will generate happiness in my life. These things are just reminders, opportunities for me to give myself permission to experience the happiness that is already inside of me.

Despite all my years of yoga and meditation practice, I keep grasping and clawing at the world around me, at my external circumstances, trying to reach some perfect, organized, flawless outer condition in order to finally rest. I keep feeding myself a story that I know is a lie. I say, “In order to be happy, I must do this or achieve that or resolve all the problems in my life.” I place my happiness in some far off idealized future world that is intangible and unattainable. Then I beat myself up for not being able to reach it. “I’m a failure! I’m lazy! I’m not trying hard enough! I’m too easily overwhelmed! I’m too mentally ill to ever be happy!”

I allow my own inner voice to berate me and belittle me in ways that I would never allow anyone else to. I hardly even recognize the self-abuse I inflict every day. I place the aspirations of who I’d like to be off in the future and set up hurdles for myself to reach them. I make life more complicated, grave, and serious than it has to be. I tell myself to be calm and then pile on unrealistic tasks for myself to complete in order to permit a moment of relaxation. I tell myself to be happy while I rattle off endless criticisms of myself and everything in my life.

Life can be more simple and light-hearted if I only allow it to be. I don’t need to be or do anything in order to be happy or find peace. Those states are part of me. They are not dependent on anything outside of my head. I can go within and find peace, love, and happiness no matter where I am or what is going on in my life. They are not objects to be acquired out in the world. They are essential aspects of my nature. I generate them. I am them.

I am finally giving myself permission to stop regularly and ask, “what is it that I need right now?” and then simply allow myself to have it. Instead of withholding all of the compassion, understanding, and tenderness that I so desperately long for until I reach some distant abstract goal, I can give it to myself right now, this moment, every moment. I no longer require anything of myself in order to offer myself kindness. Real love is always unconditional. We merely clip it’s wings and distort it’s healing energy by placing qualifiers on it in any capacity.

I’ve wasted so much time and effort trying to earn love, trying to earn happiness, when in reality, all I have to do is stop choking off these energies that are always naturally flowing within me. No matter how many times I affirm it to myself, it’s so hard to remember that when I find myself in a state of distress or despair, I don’t need to do anything or obtain something to “fix” it. All I’ve got to do is be there. Just allow myself to be there, with whatever is happening internally and externally. Just allow myself to feel what it’s like to exist in that moment, to breathe, to experience life.

It sounds so simple, so easy that it just can’t be true. It’s very hard to combat so many years of telling myself the answers are outside of me somewhere, that reaching milestones and goals will bestow the inner experience I am seeking. It’s a daily effort in mindfulness to pull myself back down to earth, back into my own body, and redirect my soul’s awareness to that deep, dark, smooth, cooling stillness that soothes all of life’s struggles. It’s always right there inside of me. It is me. If I can only be silent enough to hear it’s soft, kind, loving voice. That’s the me that I want to be. That’s the me that I really am. She’s always there waiting patiently for me to come home. That path home might be perilous and overgrown at the moment, but I know with time it will be worn down until one day I’ll be able to make that journey back to myself with ease.