Embracing a “scattered” future

I have trouble remembering people who really do not remember me. I did torture myself assuming that my relative youthfulness meant I was a bad guy for not immediately latching onto these missed connections.

Why did I care so much about saving face? I think elderly and middle-aged people had wormed their views into my brain and wrought their folklore into my programming. I forget all the time that we don’t consider “MEDIA” as gestures, exclamations, guffaws, sighs, facial expressions, or awkward silences.

But that’s the way of some people. We have been lied to. We think media is just TV, streaming stuffs, and whatever comes from some executive’s idea of a “channel”. But media is very much a scattered thing. And how people relate their memory of me scattered my whole world.

I believed once that my future was fixed on the few people and things I had.  But maybe it’s time to re-evaluate.

Some people need to bust your chops about what they believe you should and should not relate about. People are full of their own prefabricated ideas about what things mean, what you mean to yourself, why you remember a song, or a conversation. And often those people are so spoiled in their own web of memories, the things that make them most happy and comfortable, that before you know it, being forced to save face and acquiesce to being “bad” for not savoring someone else’s connections is easier and more honorable, than admitting that you were never supposed to care as much as you once did.

A great example of that scattered future thing would be the time I told someone a story and that someone only seemed to “get it” if and only if I was shaming or mocking the other people in my story.

We get a very human satisfaction from being Annie, saying that anything you can do, I can do better.

I have discovered that less and less do I care to remember stories that don’t build groups up or come with a character evaluation that has a sidecar of myth debunking.

For if I’m buried in the scattered mess of that, I cannot truly see what project I am building and what it matters for me. To go back to what I said…

I now mourn as often as I deem necessary for the present state of my scattered memory. And I accept that I do not have to know why that matters to you… if you are not going to help me fill in some blanks.

 For I have gleaned from experience and life as a single man that community only reveals its true self by the grace and bravery of time, awareness, and steadfast repetition.

If we all purposely accept the ascetic identity of the revolving door, there can be no way to understand who is an intimate connection, and who is simply “traveling light” with the intent of passing through.

How are we to consider our main-stay support from the “edited out” one-night stand?

When I remember the one-nighter, I refuse to limit it to the unbridled erotic creative sexual expression or the mass-produced empty longing. One night stands and standards are the minimalist, random texts and calls from people who never reply. “One-nights” are the strippers who wanted your tips but won’t remember your name from the next patron who grins at them 10 seconds later.

“One nights” are the “hole in the wall” places, people, and scenes wherein the lines blend together. There is no demarcation that suggests your finding a place where belonging is celebrated, necessary, or even optional. And so that is why…  

I no longer blame myself for the many faces of disgust I receive when I say with honesty and grace: “No, I don’t remember you.” Or NO…I don’t quite get that reference point.   

I am fresh off a 4 day run in the Midwestern United States. In my estimation, the Midwest is idolized as the breadbasket, the easel and canvas of the “All-American” boy and girl, the Old-Glory fantasy often reserved for a painfully specific American person.

We celebrate these towns on our televisions. When we are not doing that, we are hemming and hawing rivers, lakes, and streams of California’s fastidious spectacle, New York’s fruit-syrup that doesn’t skimp on diversity or fructose. We smile longingly then on Georgia’s peaches. And someone’s beach-combing and pining about the water in Florida.

My friend and I go to the Midwest for the scenes. I believe we need authentic proof to convince ourselves that communities can be well-kept, that roads are not always over-run with potholes that people with grateful attitudes are still in our nation. Alongside the autumn glories and frosty dunes of Indiana, Missouri, and Illinois, America seems more statuesque.

 It’s so unlike the jazzy haze of my own Southern life.

While living that kind of United States, I fought every frayed fiber of my being to forget the Louisiana I had left. Not because I hate where I am from. No. To be fair, Louisiana’s people have everything thing to do with why my scattered memory is what it is.

Louisiana is a bowl of culture confusion. We’re every color and most of us here do not fully understand what that can mean for the way we remember and relate.

We like our tribes, our football games, our team colors, and our breakfast and dinner behaviors. And we hold our gossip higher than we’ve held our connections with ideas, feelings, institutions, and churches.

If I do not always have the people who remember me— and who knows what ME they remember—neatly marked with the place and time they marched through my life and took what they wanted, I release the right to intuit where it all fits.

I am one month alcohol-free, trudging slower across my life here in this Southern crucible. Everything here is some kind of test of your attention and I’m always fighting to pay attention. While I was Mid-Western Harold, I was seeing a play called Alabama Story about why libraries, books, stories, love, passion and information get complicated.

While I was Midwestern Harold, I slowed down and held on to scattered ashes, hung garland and tinsel, and a really good cup of black coffee.

 I was able to put the madness of my chaotic Louisiana self down. I wrote on most days. I read my Bible every single morning. I prayed to God without always needing a reason. I turned my fears about the future into words, movements, music, and re-connection.

When I went away, I remembered me. I remembered the “me” in the near future. I realized that I am without as many fixed roots as others have placed in my soil. And if I were a tree, I would readily understand when the yield was not scattering and migrating to a truly transforming renewal.

 I remembered my education. I remembered why in this new scatter future I discarded so much. The Midwest beaming up to the grandeur of Lucas Oil, Castleton Square, Carmel, and Blytheville, Arkansas let me peek behind the curtain of my own becoming. What I saw made me so frightened of my beautiful self. I can now admit that I have been using fear as a bonding agent for so long that I needed to re-visit where I’d been to remember where I’m going.

I don’t remember people who do not remember me. Those who authentic see my “becoming” don’t rely on fear, guilt, or shame.

Best of all, they seem less worried about my ability to perform tired soliloquies that hit all the “right” targets. I was not worried about the qualities of my steadfast repetition. I was just repeating a posture that made my joints ache, made my heart hard and my feelings numb.

It was not the states we visited. It was not the play I watched. It was not about me and more about everything I failed to notice. When I faced the fears and pains within me, I realized that I cannot remember when I have not worked to build.

I never built my past without fear as a bonding agent. And that explains why I don’t connect the same anymore. The Midwest had no nostalgia of the old Harold just the continued thrum of new roots. My new roots have come from understanding that my future self is scattered like bread upon waters I haven’t seen. The new “me” must be free to go. The new Harold in 2019 must be willing to question more than just tree. I must dig into the soil.

The Saturday before having dinner at a McAllister’s deli, God revealed a mystery to me that I had been too hurt to grab hold upon. I noticed that I was walking on a snowy pave where salt had been sprinkled. Ice needs salt upon it so that people do not stumble. And there in the white specks, revelation blazed up into my spirit like fire. God revealed scripture to me and said: See that salt? It’s you. You have allowed the gifts I gave you to lose their intended use. You’re the salt and you must start working to make your seasoning worth something more than being a mere step-stool. I cried and laughed in my heart. I knew what God meant. Salt is a life-giving agent, but we choose the remembrances, the magic, and the force with which to share that life. I can either be psaltery of tragic comedy or the psaltery with purpose. But before the salt does it job, I must keep facing forward and attack the old bonding agent… thawing the ice that threatens to kill the scatter of my hope. Thank you, Indiana. I received my sight back.

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