I’ve been thinking about me, the story of me. How the fuck do I sum it up? Has it been perfect? Hardly. Any story with me at the center of it will never be anything less than a big smiling mess. But here’s what I know for sure; my time in the sun has been a thing of absolute fucking beauty. The pain, the heart breaks, the nightmares, the hangovers, the fucking and the punching. The gorgeous shimmering insanity of these friends of mine where for countless times I woke up, fucked up, said I was sorry, passed out and did it all over again. I call them my drug friends. I also have friends who are just friends. The distinction is important.
As a writer, I’m a sucker for happy endings. The guy gets the girl, she saves him from himself. But as a guy who loves a girl, I realize there’s no such thing. There’s no sunset; there is no happy ending or happy ever after. There’s just now, and there’s just the two of us, which can be scary and ugly sometimes. But if you close your eyes and listen for the whispers of your heart; if you simply keep trying and never ever give up, no matter how many times you get it wrong, until the beginning and the end blur into something called until we meet again- that’s it. I don’t know how to finish it, because it’s not over and neither has it really began. It’ll never be over, as longs as there’s her, and there’s me, and there’s hope, and grace.
Writing can unleash a terrible fear. I suppose it is the fear of possibilities, too many possibilities, each with its own endless set of variations. It’s like looking too closely and too long into a mirror; soon your features distort, then erupt. You look too closely into your own writing, or listen too closely to the voices as they arrive in whispers, and the features inside you – call it heart, call it mind, call it soul – accelerate out of control. They distort and they erupt, and it is one strange pain. You realize, then, that you can’t attempt breaking down too many barriers in too short a time, because there are as many horrors waiting to get in you as there are parts of yourself pushing to break out, and with the same, or more, fevered determination.
Consequently, you feel out of place in this world and when you no longer fit in, you become superhuman. You can feel everyone else’s eyes on you, stuck like Velcro. You can hear a whisper about you from a mile away. You can disappear, even when it looks like you’re still standing right there. You can scream, and nobody hears a sound.
You become the mutant who fell into the vat of acid, the joker who can’t remove his mask, the bionic man who’s missing all his limbs and none of his heart. You are the thing that used to be normal, but that was so long ago, you can’t even remember what it was like.
You feel like the world has given up on you; like people have given up on you. But maybe, it is just enough to believe with a positive heart that people didn’t let you down. It could be just this: they couldn’t give you the compassion you really wanted based on where their heart was at the moment. Maybe, not now, but years later they will catch the memory of you in a quiet moment. There on that Sunday evening, a light will shine through the fog of lies, misunderstanding and frustration they built inside their angry mind about your true character. And, when it does, the shadows will be cast out to reveal a scared and hurt little boy or girl that just wanted to be loved, but went about it all wrong. Maybe, on that day, the whisper of their gratitude for your love will find its way back to your heart. And when that day comes, you will find yourself smiling all day long and not know why.
Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some people move our souls to dance. They awaken us to a new understanding with the passing whisper of their wisdom. Some people make the sky more beautiful to gaze upon. They stay in our lives for a while, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never, ever the same. They teach you what real love is. They teach you that it is blind devotion, unquestioning self-humiliation, utter submission, trust and belief against yourself and against the whole world and giving up your whole heart and soul to the smitter.
They make you ask the difficult questions. Why does one love? Ever wondering how queer it is to see only one being in the world, to have only one thought in one’s mind, only one desire in the heart, and only one name on the lips; a name which comes up continually, rising, like the water in a spring, from the depths of the soul to the lips, a name which one repeats over and over again, which one whispers ceaselessly, everywhere, like a prayer.
But these are the secrets of the heart. And there are other secrets too; the secrets of the mouth. Most secrets are secrets of the mouth. Gossip shared and small scandals whispered. They are secrets that long to be let loose upon the world. A secret of the mouth is like a stone in your boot. At first, you’re barely aware of it. Then it grows irritating, then intolerable. Secrets of the mouth grow larger the longer you keep them, swelling until they press against your lips. They fight to be let free.
But the secrets of the heart are different. They are private and painful, and we want nothing more than to hide them from the world. They do not swell and press against the mouth. They live in the heart, and the longer they are kept, the heavier they become.
Perhaps it is better to have a mouthful of poison than a secret of the heart. Any fool will spit out poison, but we hoard these painful treasures. We swallow hard against them every day, forcing them deep inside us. They sit there, growing heavier, festering. Given enough time, they cannot help but crush the heart that holds them.
So, we go about our lives looking for answers wherever we can. And on rare occasions there comes along a profound original, an odd little book that appears out of nowhere, from the pen of some obscure storyteller, and once you have read it, you will never go completely back to where you were before. The kind of book you might hesitate to lend for fear you might miss its company. The kind of book that echoes from the heart of some ancient knowing, and whispers from time’s forgotten cave that life may be more than it seems, and less.
The day you read it, you read something that moves you and makes you realize there are no more fears to fear. No tears to cry. No head to hang in shame. That every time you thought you’d offended someone, it was all just in your head and really, they love you with all their heart and nothing will ever change that. That everyone and everything lives on inside you. That that doesn’t make any of it any less real. That soft touches will change you and stay with you longer than hard ones. That being alone means you’re free. That old lovers miss you as much as you miss them and new lovers want you and the one you’re with is the one you’re meant to be with.
That the tingles running down your arms are angel feathers and they whisper in your ear, constantly, if you choose to hear them. That everything you want to happen, will happen, if you decide you want it enough. That every time you think a sad thought, you can think a happy one instead. That you control that completely. That the people who make you laugh are more beautiful than beautiful people. That you laugh more than you cry. That crying is good for you. That the people you hate wish you would stop and you do too. That your friends are reflections of the best parts of you. That you are more than the sum total of the things you know and how you react to them.
That dancing is sometimes more important than listening to the music. That the most embarrassing, awkward moments of your life are only remembered by you and no one else. That no one judges you when you walk into a room and all they really want to know, is if you’re judging them. That what you make and what you do with your time is more important than you’ll ever fathom and should be treated as such. That the difference between a job and art is passion. That neither defines who you are.
That talking to strangers is how you make friends. That bad days do end but a smile can go around the world. That life contradicts itself, constantly. That that’s why it’s worth living. That the difference between pain and love is time. That love is only as real as you want it to be. That if you feel good, you look good but it doesn’t always work the other way around. That the sun will rise each day and it’s up to you each day if you match it. That nothing matters up until this point. That what you decide now, in this moment, will change the future. Forever. That rain is beautiful and so are you.
That to be fully human is to be wild. That wild is the strange pull and whispering wisdom. It’s the gentle nudge and the forceful ache. It is your truth, passed down from the ancients, and the very stream of life in your blood. Wild is the soul where passion and creativity reside, and the quickening of your heart. Wild is what is real, and wild is your home.
We all have an inner voice, our personal whisper of wisdom from the universe. All we have to do is listen, feel and sense it with an open heart. Sometimes it whispers of intuition or precognition. Other times, it whispers an awareness, a remembrance from another plane. Dare to listen. Dare to hear with your heart.
I try. It is that time of day when the sun hasn’t come up yet, but you can already feel it coming. It’s an elusive warmth, like a subtle promise whispered in your ear and you can go on with your day knowing you’ve been given another chance to get it right. At this point I start to think that the knowledge has come to me at last, only at the very last. But misery had found me out early, and had taken on me a terrible vengeance. It had whispered to me things about myself that I did not know, things of which I had no conception till I took counsel in great solitude in a period of self-isolation and the whisper has proven irresistibly fascinating. It now echoes loudly within me because I was hollow at the core.
I remember all the pain and all the tears. With this awakening comes a realization; that the greatest portion of grief is the one you dish out for yourself. Especially when it starts with a lie. But that’s what happens when you’re a liar, especially when you’re telling the worst of these lies to yourself. I have stumbled into love again, and now I’m stuck there. I had fairly gotten used to not getting what I want, and I had dealt with it, yet I can’t help but wonder if that’s only because I didn’t want anything so badly. And now here I am, all used up. And although I’d never have believed it in the past, these lines in my face now and the scars in my heart are the most beautiful parts of me. They reveal what I’ve gone through and what I’ve survived and who I am deep inside.
Interestingly, I now have a new wonder, what if everyone is pretty much the same and it’s just a thousand small choices that add up to the person you are? No good or evil, no black or white, no inner demons or angels whispering the right answers in our ears like it’s some cosmic CAT test. Just us, hour by hour, minute by minute, day by day, making the best choices we can. The thought is horrifying. If that’s true, then there’s no right choice. There’s only choice.
But then again, could this the devil whispering? One of the most poisonous of all the devil’s whispers is simply, “things will never change”. That lie kills expectation, trapping our heart forever in the present. To keep desire alive and flourishing, we must renew our vision for what lies ahead. Things will not always be like this. We must understand that life as we know it can change; does change and our reality today could be totally transformed. Desire is kept alive by imagination, the antidote to resignation. We will need imagination, which is to say, we will need hope.
©C. J. Njoroge