Recipe for men

Solitude,
has been a recipe for manhood in my family for as long as I remember. Floors groaned at three am when my father would walk across wooden tiles that I always thought someone had meticulously jigsawed across the whole apartment.
His belt buckle, I can still hear, then came the jingle of coins in his pockets as he set off quietly to his work day, alone.

I still drive by that apartment and assume that it belongs to us, my childhood will haunt whoever lives there until I can buy it, just for fucks sake and keep it as a memory.

My grandfather was a loner too, son of many sons of mountain people wedged in a village and on the other side a sea.

He’d walk, in the early hours of the morning to his work too. He’d toil the mountains, his father a shepherd and farmer.

My uncles, all land people. Quiet men, but robustly strong men.

There’s manhood in solitude yet!

Someone tells us that we’re of prophetic lineage, Hashimi to be exact and this seems to be on the lips of other families in surrounding villages.

I hear it more than once as if it’s a get out of jail free card, but I’ve wrestled with myself in just as much quietude as my ancestors for me to believe that it’s true.

Still on the offchance it is, I think of my noble grandfather – I hope he’s my grandfather – The Prophet who received revelation in……. Solitude but was believed in multitude.

The man who was responsible for transforming the otherwise then despicable Arab peninsula – perhaps now just as despicable – into the centre of the world.

Maybe it’s solitude missing from my people, stopping them from rising to that place again.

I’ve turned too many pages to not know that great men, men who’ve had the biggest impact, real impact were always introverted and preferred the humble sifting grounds of solitude over the cacophany of noise amongst people.

And so distraction feels like an enemy sucking my marrow and I feel bad for even thinking of people as distractions.

They don’t even get a chance to develop a relationship with me before I have ignored them based on their incessantly noisy approach to being heard.

Tap me gently,
wake me softly,
brush up against me with prose,
waft past me with a perfume so enchanting you pull me out of my shell,
but don’t vie for my attention with claptrap and hyde.

I’ll find you, I’ll hear you, I’ll notice all your nuances like I noticed my home, my father, like I think of my ancestors walking alone at night.

Quiet men,
noble men,
men of fortitude,
sunken in solitude,
bathing in introversion,
aching in longing for answers to all their ponders,
too proud to ask,
stoic in acceptance of their fate.

Men that thought so much, that their hearts beat double as fast, silently away from the masses,
men who all died early.

Maybe they all die when their need for solitude is no longer met, when they can’t keep enough of themselves away from people.

Maybe they die when their secrets are exposed.

Introversion Impulses -short story

 

“You have to let people see the truth of who you are”, she said.

I had no doubt that her intentions were sincere, that she was trying to get me to share more of myself, more of my work and to come out of the shell I’d grown comfortable in.

I also felt that she was somewhat attracted, that she was holding back by her own standards and not divulging her interests or motives for conversation. Why on earth would she extend such kindness, such interest in me or my words? Maybe she was thinking out aloud? Maybe I’m looking too far into her words, but she continued.

“You can’t hold back if you want people to find you, you know, if you want to commit to someone whole heartedly you have to show them who you are, how else will they commit to you and share themselves with you as well?”

She strangely intertwined the idea of commitment to a person within the idea of the collective she seemed to be generally referring to earlier in the conversation.

Only in a perfect world I thought. Perhaps if people were not so mean and would not squash your heart as soon as they had full access to it, not unlike many things losing their lustre once the hardship of having to attain them is overcome.

But my mind kept going back to the question; why was she so interested in me, or my writing? Maybe my words were an easier entry point into a conversation she was holding back from, but before I could articulate a reasonable reply, it happened, like a flood on a page, the same semi-conscious expulsions that propel me to write saw me blurt it right out into the plain of thick air.

“It feels”, I paused, “so invasive though….like a devaluation of sorts. Tell me I’m wrong. Do you really feel you can share that part of you? That crevice so deep and dark that you risk someone else holding it in their hands and having the ability to toss it at will? I think it’s a protective mechanism of sorts, for me anyway. ”

“Protective?”

“Yeah, if I keep that part subdued, to myself, I can control it. If I share it, I have no control.”

“Control what?”

“The urge to hurt someone for hurting me. I couldn’t take that. Sharing something only for them to use it against me.

I might even kill someone for abusing it. The hurt would be too much. I couldn’t contain myself knowing I share a part of me so deep, because I get urged or forced into the idea that I have to be open with a partner, that I have to share everything with a partner only for it to later be used as a method to hurt me, look down on me or whatever. It would for once, perhaps show me the other side of a person who’s lost control and killed another person. Perhaps they’re just people who could not handle their vulnerabilities being known and then discarded. I don’t think I could handle the hurt, I dunno, I’d much rather keep shit to myself. Even this I feel….”

I stopped and realised what I had just said. I could see her eyes turn cold – oh no, she thought I was a monster – and then warm again. Then she surprised me, they welled up as she then looked into her lap and placed one palm over other as if to say she was ready to catch a stream of her tears.

“That’s really quite sad”.

I felt my throat swell and fill with regret.

But she smiled and continued, “and beautiful at the same time”. The tears were now just falling directly onto her jeans as if to say there was no use hiding her own vulnerabilities and the moment was urging her to unshackle her inhibitions, to share more of what she really felt.

I thought about what I just said as the silence tempered the mood into an agreed introspective freeze.

Was I really that fragile, that afraid? Unable to share the truth of myself with anyone because I was repulsed by it all or was it because I was apprehensive of rejection? Am I crazy for thinking it was unacceptable for someone to squash you at will, after you’ve slowly desensitised yourself into sharing a part of you? I rationalised that it wasn’t. That people who did that with disregard deserved to be hurt back.

Could I kill someone over that? I could. I remembered the rage I felt when I was bullied when I was younger and my work I had been struggling with for a week, destroyed by a kid who thought it was cool. I was only twelve years old. Work I had spent hours on, deeply engrossed in, only for him to think it was funny and cool to destroy it. I still remember the coolness of the steel chair legs in my clenched blue fists as I picked many up, one after the other and hurled them with everything I had, directly at his head with no consideration for his life.

At twelve, I was quite comfortable in knowing he could be seriously hurt or die, because what I lost meant that much to me.

I could kill if someone discarded something that meant that much to me.

No, I thought, grand as the the fairytale of believing perhaps that someone could hold your heart in their hands and protect it, the temptation to discard it, the ease of discarding it for their own comfort would probably overwhelm them and they’d ditch your vulnerabilities at the earliest convenience to make themselves comfortable.

I’d much rather not hurt anyone, so I won’t allow them to hurt me by giving too much of myself.

Beautiful as her tears were, they suddenly became bound by a used by date. How I wanted to give her access, how I wished she could hold that part of me forever, safely, but I couldn’t believe it and back into my cocoon I went, and it felt as if the physical space between us grew hands that pushed us away from each other and back into everyday niceties.

Her face was kind enough for me to believe her, but not hard enough to accept the reality of how dark some of us are.
Better for her that she live in a world where she didn’t have to see that part of human capability, the compulsion to meter out justice.

People cannot walk around thinking it’s acceptable to hurt others without knowing there is a consequence.

be alone

I guarantee,
there will come a time,
you will regret not being alone.

You’ll scurry like a cockroach when the lights come on,
scathe walls with skinless fingers,
walk barefoot and barren back,
trying to flee from the noise inside,
and you’ll see people for who they are,
all cowards,
afraid to be alone.

What strength and sinew,
men and women who choose the life of solitude have,
without so much as the flutter of apprehension,
without any doubt,
they breathe.

But what spine and love,
those that choose to return,
and effuse their wisdom into the fabric of humanity,
have better yet.

Ay this,
the paradox of losing and finding your self,
to be selflessly of servitude.

Try as you may,
listen to the hucksters of academe,
or the deluded,
hypnotised by technology and science,
the secrets remain with the sages and saints,
with the barefoot troubadours,
with the barbarians and nomads,
desert folk and mountain people,
farmers and shepherds,
the loners,
those who have time,
to simmer their thoughts,
thrash open their wounds without shame,
and suture themselves in front of us all.

I’ve never seen a thing of repute,
roll of the tongue of a man infatuated with attention,
nor a woman that needs reassurance at every pulse of her vein.
I’ve not seen hands that wait for eyes to ogle,
create a thing that benefits us all.

You’ll cry a tear yet,
for not embracing more solitude.

W.E.

Feeling all and nothing at once.

I like things,
that make me not know how to feel,
or make me feel everything at once.

Contradictory things,
and nothing.

My introversion depends on it,
there’s a crosswire somewhere,
alone is my cocoon,
yet I apparently need my intellect to get there,
that’s at least what Myers says.

But this is more,
or maybe God chose an optional extra for me,
means I throw out the category I’m meant to be in,
and am switched on by a feeling,
or a signal that I was meant to feel something yet didn’t,
to activate my withdrawal to silence.

I don’t know how not to feel,
even about the sinisterism of all things interconnected and unimportant,
rippling off other things,
mundane as it may seem,
it carries with it a history of influence,
a DNA of repurcussion,
inescapable tragedy and elation from ancestors.

There’s nuance to notice,
I said ‘that make me not know how to feel’, I didn’t say ‘that confuse me’,
I’m glad my soul structures it this way,
I’m rarely confused,
I’ve spent too much time inside to be confused.

My liking them,
these things that make me not know how to feel,
or tsunami me with feelings,
are gene codes for comprehension,
there is no being without them,
every body feels them,
I’m just constantly micro managing them,
and no one likes a micro manager,
except when they’re confused.

W.E.

I’m not socially awkward, I’m socially unwilling

Sometimes I wish I could dance with the rest of you,
but to waltz into conformity,
leaves me two left feet awkward,
stumbling over myself to find a foot in mediocrity.

I’ve been guilty of looking down on others,
and what a bitter lesson it is,
to taste my own bile,
and stare straight at a victim in their eyes.

I’ve no boat big enough,
to carry my remorse out to sea,
the most restless winds,
won’t blow my shame away.

So when I see how easily,
everyone makes the same mistakes,
it hurts to be reminded,
to have a replay reel of who I am inside,
flickering perpetually,
a self fulfilling prophecy is inevitable,
if I don’t pretend not to know how to dance.

That’s why I shy away.

I can love with the best of them,
boy can I love,
I can laugh and play,
I fight with a rage so turbulent,
it attracts even those who hate it,
but looking at innocence is too much for me to bare.

This comfort with the quo,
is the mediocrity that pains me,
alas, solitude is a great shackle to wear,
and if all else fails,
a great anchor for this flailing soul that won’t behave itself.

If the boat isn’t large enough,
and the winds aren’t strong enough,
the sea bottom is surely large enough,
to swallow far greater than me,
far worse than me, far better than me.

Here I am all Pharaoh like on display,
waiting to be swallowed whole.

All this,
admittance,
ownership,
accountability,
and still no acceptance.

How then,
did I find solitude in separation,
calm in introversion,
whilst others are out wrestled by urge and inclination?

How do I pause when others impulse?

There are still a few of us,
who shun the outer for the inner,
but society has been a frequent customer,
of the comfort world.

We’ve learned to avoid pain so well,
that we’ll inevitably stagnate and whither,
if people don’t remind us,
that it’s OK to see some ugliness,
some bad shit,
some gross stuff inside you,
not to accept and parade it as acceptance,
and contentment with ones’ self.

Rather, it gives you the incentive to improve,
to learn – in the process – what it takes to get away from all that unsavoury stuff inside.

Any process that allows you that,
will inevitably add value to your character,
be it in a month or twenty years.

Pain is not there to be avoided,
it’s there to jolt us into growth,
a reminder to manage and push through it for adaptation.

Avoidance, only limits exposure,
and lack of exposure leads to oblivious ignorance to a better way.

I recluse,
cocoon into hermit disregard,
to bathe in pain,
because I want to grow.

How’s that for a dance with ones self?

W.E.

Quiet rapport

I’m patient like that.

Where others will demand and hold you to account,
I know vulnerability waits for a soul to be ripe with sincerity before it spreads itself,
before it undresses.

I know that if I bottle my anxiety and show a face of indifference,
I run the risk of losing many,
but the ones that see with the eye of their heart also know me from a thousand thousands.

I’m patient like that,
because I know where I’m from and how I’ve travelled to be here is beyond just forty two years of worldly existence.

I’m not just matter and that’s what matters,
but I never let that matter to the point that it’s all that matters.

We matter said no one of intelligence and worth except who think their lives are but a series of what people owe them.

I’m still patient for them.
Waiting for their poems to undo themselves.

I’m always a poem away from myself.

W.E.

Introversion – seventy six

 

Introversion isn’t an inability to socialise,
communicate, or come out of my shell,
it’s a choice not to.

 

When you are not overwhelmed, influenced or feel the need to conform to the social behaviours, to the appropriated practises and often mechanical actions of the rest of people around you, when you don’t feel the pressure to be a certain way to please others or fit into their comfortable habits, you become a subconscious agitation in many uncomprehending minds.

It’s the irreconcilable idea that you have the ability to overcome anxious desires to be around others and can do it alone. It’s not social anxiety at all, it’s the opposite for a true introvert. It’s the ability to not be lured by anxiety to any extent and carry on your own way without even batting an eye.

But do you know what it takes to be like that?

Yes you can be born with stubborn resolve and an ability to see things beyond the average person, to overcome otherwise paralysing and habitual ways to respond to stimulus. But it also means there are things you must learn and train yourself in, things you practise and grind repetitively, things you drill ad nauseum, revisit and keep drilling. It requires discipline you don’t wane from, and that path is stoic and noble. It’s dignified and shows character that frightens people who haven’t got the balls to grind it out.

W.E.