Amber

“Give your lady a stone
to make it a happy home” –
or so I heard,
from those “wise and matured”.

But my love was unsatisfied
and claimed umbrage for her pride,
because she wanted to dazzle
and said my stone looked frazzled.

So the lady departed,
leaving me broken-hearted
holding a stone with a legacy
greater than her love proved to be.

*This poem is a continuation of a project where I chose a color, and wrote a poem on the first three words that came to mind. In this case, they were a woman, a stone, a memory/fossil*

On Faith and charged objects

Have you ever had something that means…just a little bit extra to you? Whether it’s a lucky shirt, a favorite song, or, hell, even a lucky pair of underwear, these objects seem to make things go our way. Maybe we do well on a date or an interview, but something always seems different when they’re around.

I call these objects “blessed objects”, or sometimes “charged objects”.

I call them “blessed” because their effect is to bless our lives. We feel stronger, more confident, better when they’re in use. And because of that, we seem luckier when they’re around. But I call them “charged” because this effect is not inherent – it’s something we make ourselves. Maybe we have a good day, and attribute the success of that day to something we’re wearing, a song that made us feel pumped up, or maybe a book we were reading. But whatever the object or the reason, we have a good day and associate the reason why to this object. So the next time we want to have a good day, we put the object into play again and believe it will bring us luck.

Maybe it does, and the object gains more of our faith. Maybe it doesn’t, and we look at the previous successes as flukes. Perhaps we just exhausted all the luck of that particular object, and need to find another.

But at the end of the day, we can find another, and that’s important. These objects are neither unique nor miraculous – they are something we can create on our own. It is our faith in them that gives them power. And knowing that, we can choose to create objects when we have need of them.  That’s the way magic works, the way rituals work, and the way faith works.

Faith is a great currency of the soul. While we may not be able to move the world like magicians in stories, we can do wonders with enough belief. If we have a hat, a shirt, a tie that we KNOW is special, we will feel more confident while wearing it. And as the saying goes, confidence is sexy. It’s attractive. People like confidence, and the confidence we create with this belief can carry us just as far as any spell from a storybook. It will open doors, charm managers and dates, and it will inspire.

I participated in many rituals in my life. I have made a candle on the summer solstice that was meant to strengthen and inspire me. I’ve said a few words and destroyed a cup and a photograph to help myself get over some people. I’ve woken up early on the weekend to eat bread and drink wine in the hopes that doing so will save my soul.

Whether or not they work is a matter of some debate. But each and every one of them meant something to me. I believed in them, and that faith gave them power.  And the knowledge that I was the one doing this gave ME power.

And taking back that power is the reason why I wrote this post. Because anyone can believe in a miracle, but the one who explains a miracle… Well, now I feel a bit like the guy who ruined a magic trick. But I’m also the guy who’s telling you that you can make your own magic, perform your own miracles.

So go out there and do something amazing. You are powerful beyond measure, and limited only in the depth of your faith.  To borrow someone else’s words, which have meant a lot to me:

“Believe in yourself. Not in the you who believes in me. Not the me who believes in you. Believe in the you who believes in yourself.” *

Have faith, and you will do wonders.

 

* From the animated show Gurren Lagann, spoken by the character Kamina in episode 8

Gunmetal

Fresh from the forge,
they still carry a spark,
if you look closely you can catch them
smoldering in the dark.

Steady under starlight
mirrors reflecting the moon,
but they hide from the intensity
of the sun overhead at noon.

Tread carefully in their presence,
unless you wish to learn
the swiftness of their ire
and how cold their fire burns

For whether eyes or guns
or ruthless will,
mark my words well:
all of these can kill.

*This poem is a continuation of a project where I chose a color, and wrote a poem on the first three words that came to mind. In this case, they were eyes, weapon, resolve/ruthlessness/full of intent*

The story of the wind

When I was younger, I felt happiness like a wind.

It blew across my face, my arms, and my skin like a gentle caress. It laughed and teased, but never too harshly. The wind blew through me and my heart and washed me clean.

Depression was like wandering into canyon caverns and losing my way out. It was hot, dusty, and dry. The ground was parched and cracked; the air was sticky and stiffling. But no matter how long or how far I walked, I could not find the way out. I could feel the wind crashing against the cavern walls, but no puffs of clean air found their way to me.

I lost the wind, and I withered in the heat of my despair.

I cracked and broke, and lost pieces of myself. I lost my smile and laughter. My feelings numbed and diminished to dull, grey echoes of their former glory. And slowly, the holes in my heart grew. Little by little, I lost more and more of what made me the person I used to be. I wandered and wondered, quested and questioned. But answers were as elusive as the wind, and I began to lose hope.

Until one day, I had a revelation.

You, the fears and insecurities that cut at my heart – and you, the sorrows and self-pitying judgments – I have a message for you: bring it. Bring your worst to bear against me. Burn a brand new set of scars into me; take each and every piece of my heart you want and tear it out of me. But you cannot destroy me.

All your efforts to diminish me will fail – and I’ll tell you why. For every piece you steal, for every hole you leave, you do nothing more than deepen my song. You’ve turned me into an instrument, and while the hollows left behind by your efforts grow, my music is not for you. And on the day I find the wind again, it will blow through me, and we shall sing a breath-taking duet.

While you sing a song from the soundtrack to the breaking of the world, the wind and I will sing its counterpoint. We will sing of joy, celebration, and love. We will sing for havest dances and wedding waltzes. We will weave the melody of the someone meeting their first-born child. We will compose an opera to the end of oppression. We will forge an aria to tears of forgiveness. We will trumpet triumph through tragedy.

So do your worst, and I’ll show you my magic – and transform my scars into something beautiful.

Ivory

Ivory is a color
that comes at quite a cost,
a history worth lamenting
all the lives which were lost.

Every life is sacred,
whether great or small,
but all creatures feel the fear
when a titan falls.

So be mindful of the dark harvest
farmed from each and every head,
and I pray thee to remember
that ivory’s ringed in red.

*This poem is a continuation of a project where I chose a color, and wrote a poem on the first three words that came to mind. In this case, they were elephant, tusk, and blood/death*

Language study: to vs with

“I want to talk to you.”

Few words inspire such dread as these. Childhood memories of scoldings rise like blisters. These words are the opening act to every breakup argument, a sweat-soaked overture to an amorous ending, and the denouement to a heart-breaking dream.

These words mean, “You’re in trouble now.”

And we brace for a fight when confronted with these words. We become defensive, and that’s a natural response to this kind of stimuli. And while I could write an entire article on the nuances of our responses to stress, that’s not what I want to do today. Today, I’m going to show you how changing one word makes a world of difference.

“I want to talk with you.”

Do you see the difference there? Do you feel it? By changing one word, we change it from a directed statement into a cooperative one. It’s not longer accusatory, but an invitation to dialog. It lets the recipient know that their opinion is not only welcome, but wanted.

So why do I care, and why am I bothering you with my thoughts on this topic?

As a poet, writer, and storyteller, I make language a subject of much study. I muse on the meaning of words and phrases. I love puns, and delight in finding new ways to express a greater depth of meaning while using only a smattering of words. And sometimes I take the lessons I learn for my writing and apply them to the rest of my life.

I’ve had plenty of times in my life when I’ve been told, “I want to talk to you.” I’ve had plenty of times I’ve said that to someone, and seen how they react. But when I think of how those words have made me feel, and how I’ve seen them make others feel, it makes me want to be a better person.

I don’t want to be a “to” person. I don’t want to lecture or badger someone. I want to talk with them – I want to express my opinions and feelings and get feedback. I want to be a “with” person.

I want to be open and inviting. I want to inspire people – not terrorize them. So these days I make an effort to use “with” over “to”. Because living well, and making the world a better place, takes effort. And sometimes all it takes to make a difference in someone’s day is the choice of a single word.