About Me

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I'm Kyle, and I forget when I start my laundry. Also, I am a small human being and apparently a college student. I laugh a lot - usually in my brain, and usually when nobody else laughs. Oh, and I've probably consumed more Skittles than any other human being on planet earth.
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The Black

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The night was cool - a frightening chill, unexplained by simple temperature, hung in the air. My surroundings, once so familiar, now seemed different - dark, and barren. My breath was short, the terrible anticipation gripped my chest, squeezing tighter and tighter until I was hopelessly at the mercy of its overpowering clutches. I knew what I had to do - I had spent many minutes (at least ten) preparing, and yet, I felt unprepared, and unaware of what was ahead of me. My journey was far from over - it hadn't really yet begun. The weight of expectation was heavy on my shoulders, like some sort of really big tortoise that you can't move because it's big...and also really heavy.

It was then that I realized I hadn't yet moved. "How long have I been standing here?" I thought, as I continued to stare straight ahead - looking forward, but wishing to remain behind. Every step forward would be a step toward danger and confusion - I would be walking directly into fear itself. "Let's start small," I said to myself, "just one foot in front of the other. Start with the right foot, its steadying balance will surely be required tonight - it would be wise to start on the right foot. You can do this." I tried, uselessly and unassuredly, to reassure myself, "You can do this. Can I do this? Am I doing this?" I was suddenly aware that my feet were moving - my feet were going where my heart dared not, as if summoned by an unknown source - dark, unseen, and unheard. A mystery to me, this source, to be sure, but not I to it, for it was calling me, pulling me in - closer and closer until all hope was lost, and with it any sort of cogent and coherent thought. I had entered the black - darkness now surrounded me. I could not see. I had my vision of course, but could see nothing. I looked around, but found only confusion, chaos. I pressed forward, I had accepted my fate (or, it had accepted me) and could not turn back now. I felt as if I was in a dream, a nightmare really, and could make no sense of this reality (could it be reality?) - surrounded by so many, yet completely alone - there was so much, and yet there was nothing. I saw many familiar faces - friend or foe I could no longer tell - passing me, following me, smiling - but what truth hid behind each deceiving smile? I could trust no one, of that I was certain, but why I did not know. This is the fate of one such as I on a night such as this. We are all wanderers tonight. We are all alone. On a night like this, the more you surround yourself with the presence of others, the more alone you become - the unnamed, unknown presence has you right where it wants you.

Time passed painstakingly slowly, and yet frighteningly fast. I moved about as though I was in a daze - unaware yet undeterred, a part of reality yet somehow, apart from it. Apart from myself.

If only there were a way to fully explain what I saw on this fateful night. If only I could convey the terror, the horror, the no good, very bad things I witnessed. But there are times when words are not enough, when what we have seen is too gruesome, too frightening, or too disheartening to share. And then there are times when what we witness is all of these. This was one of those times. The words I share with you now do not do this experience justice, and for that, really, we can all be grateful.

Where there had been chaos and confusion, like when you and your siblings realize there is only one cookie left, there was now silence, and stillness, like that awkward moment you make eye contact with a stranger, and you're both like: "This is weird, why are we doing this?" An unexplained moment of expectancy was upon us - my heart raced, my eyes elbow itched, so I scratched it...and I listened. I could almost hear it - impending doom. Certain destruction. Then, in an instant, as if commanded by the voice of the unheard presence itself, the floodgates were opened, and true madness spewed forth. Man, woman, and child pitted against one another in a battle for supremacy, all were alike, all were equal, all were enemies. Friend, family, these terms meant nothing now. Survive. Destroy. Hunt. This is now the world in which I find myself.

I move slowly at first, cautiously, aware that every move I make could very well be my last. I am not where I need to be, where I am supposed to be - my instincts told me it was not safe, so I waited. "One one-thousand, two one-thousand, three one-thousand..." I could wait no longer - had my instincts betrayed me? I had not time to decide - I was off! Keenly aware of my surroundings, yet blind to them, I raced! Nothing could stand in my way, not now, not anymore! My target was in sight, but ah, the horror! The sharks of greed and selfishness circled it, feeding upon the helpless prey sharks feeding upon helpless prey. It's worse than I ever imagined, fear, greater than I had ever known overcame me. One more step and I would certainly meet my demise. My instincts, the same instincts I had just questioned, had been protecting me. They had protected me and I had betrayed them - there was no helping me now. It was too late to turn around, too late to accept any other outcome than the one now staring me in the face. I was being pulled into the madness, with a quickness for which I was unprepared - it wouldn't be long now, my misery would surely end soon, the suffering, no doubt, will be brief. Predators don't wait, I will be finished shortly.

But then, in an instant that can only be described as inspiration. Or maybe it was an epiphany.....

But then, in an instant that can only be described as a flash of inspirational epiphany, I thought to myself: "This isn't how I go."

And just like that, I became one with the madness - I was no longer afraid! I was no longer the hunted, I became the hunter. I was not being pulled into the madness, I was creating it. I saw no people, I saw obstacles, but they would not stop me. I pushed, I pulled, I kicked - I crushed. There was no stopping me - there was a fire in my eyes, and my fists of rage knew no bounds - I would succeed. Kill or be killed - the law of the wild. Or don't kill and don't be killed, but do whatever you have to do to destroy the will of your opponents without ending their lives - this is a secret law of the wild that not many people, or wild animals, know about...this was now my law.

My target was once more in sight, but I was not the only one seeking this treasure - the heartless, nameless, shameless monsters of the night stood ready to pounce - on me or the target I did not know, and I would not wait to find out. It started suddenly, in an instant, I had no time to think - I grabbed the nearest bystander, used him as a shield to block the treacherous lunges of my new-found enemies, and snatched my target up. I came and conquered, and would not wait to witness the destruction of a people such as these. I chose my escape route carefully, instantly, and seized my open opportunity - I put an egg in my shoe and beat it. I did not look back, and I would not until I reached higher ground. There was no point, the lesser creatures were being consumed by the madness and I could not bear to witness their demise - I could not bear it because it could have been mine.

This thought may haunt me for the rest of my life.

I sought safety and found solace as I reached high ground. From this vantage point I could see all, but in their fits of uncontrolled rage, these animals, these fanatics could not see me. My pulse was racing, like words coming out of a nervous guy's mouth as he asks a poor, unsuspecting young lady on a date. My senses heightened, I discovered an unexplained urge to join the madness once again, but I refused - this is not sport, it's survival. I had done enough damage for one night, and I still had an escape to make.

The second wave of madness was quickly approaching - the unknown presence called out to me with every passing second: "You are weak. You cannot escape. You know how this will end. You cannot hide. Give up now." Its taunts, although harming my self-esteem, could not derail my plans. I responded to the presence the only way I knew how: "What you say? Get up out my business! I thwarted you and your hoodlums once, I'll do it again. I done told you once you son of a gun, I'm the best there's ever been."

And with that, I was off, it was not time to make my escape, oh no, not yet - but it was time to seek solitude and safety in a place these hooligans would never suspect. I walked directly into the heart of the beast, the source of the flame - I stood face to face with fear. The source of this madness surrounded me, I could feel its awful presence, but I did not fear. Like I always say - the closer we are to danger, the farther we are from harm. Just a little phrase I coined...

I was surrounded by fiends, monsters, and stinky people - I saw them all, but they did not, could not see me. I can avoid being seen if I wish - so that's exactly what I did. Insanity. That is all I heard, all I could see. In this frightful display of pointless derangement I found solace where there was none, safety where it could not be. I would survive.

I knew my time was short, my window of opportunity would soon open, and just as soon close. I must be swift as a coursing river. "One Mississippi, two Mississippi, three Mississippi..." I was off! With all the force of a great typhoon, with all the strength of a raging fire I made my escape! I could not be caught, I could not be touched. Whether I was seen or not I do not know, it did not matter, the plan was in place - there were things then in motion that could not be undone. I made a decision to leave the carnage behind and I would not stop, I would not deviate from my now determined course. Tranquil as a forest I knew I would soon be free, but on fire within I quickened my already quickened pace to almost unthinkable levels - I could see my exit - closing yes, but there nonetheless. Surrounded by a blackness that somehow grew ever darker, I pushed forward. There was a struggle yes, the presence would not let go, and I would not give up.

Finally, after a herculean effort certainly powered by large amounts of turkey, I escaped. The presence no longer had any influence over me, and I stood, breathless yet full of life, back where my journey began. I had returned to where I should have stayed. It's like I always say - once you find your center, you are sure to win.

It was finished.

I had won. I was victorious.

I came, I saw, I conquered.

Morning came quickly - I awoke early, stirred by the harrowing memories of an unspeakable presence, an unfathomable horror. Was it a dream? Surely such terror could not exist in a place such as this. It must have been a dream - a nightmare not to be forgotten.

I looked out the window. This had been no dream.

"A red sun rises. Blood has been spilled this night." I whispered to myself in dreaded awe.

The hypothetical blood of innocent shoppers.

I survived Black Friday (Eve).

The End

p.s. The real title of this post is "Black Friday Eve" but I didn't want to give away the ending...

p.p.s. It may be impossible to separate fact from fiction, it may not always make sense and most of it never happened, but this is based on a true story.

I'm a Human

Monday, November 12, 2012

I think I might be afraid.

Now let me tell you a story.

(I'll be brief)

(....I'll try to be brief)

(Let's just be honest here...I'm not very good at being brief)

I was sitting in a British literature class recently as we discussed a book entitled The Quiet American, and analyzed, as a class, the book's narrator and main character. Throughout the course of our discussion my thoughts kept returning to one particular passage from early on in the book, which gave us necessary insight if we were to understand the character. What's that? You want to read it? Well good, here it is.

"Why should I want to die when Phuong slept beside me every night? But I knew the answer to that question. From childhood I had never believed in permanence, and yet I had longed for it. Always I was afraid of losing happiness. This month, next year, Phuong would leave me. If not next year, in three years. Death was the only absolute value in my world. Lose life and one would lose nothing again forever. I envied those who could believe in a God, and I distrusted them. I felt they were keeping their courage up with a fable of the changeless and the permanent. Death was far more certain than God, and with death there would be no longer the daily possibility of love's dying. The nightmare of a future of boredom and indifference would lift. I could never have been a pacifist. To kill a man was surely to grant him an immeasurable benefit. Oh, yes, people always everywhere loved their enemies. It was their friends they preserved for pain and vacuity."

This passage stood out to me for a number of reasons, but mostly because it somehow sounded very familiar. And then it hit me - this character, in this passage, wasn't talking about himself - he was talking about me. Now, granted, there is nobody sleeping beside me every night (which is good...BYU housing frowns on that sort of thing), I don't have a particular desire to die (in fact, I kind of really like being alive), I have a very strong belief in God, and I don't usually find killing people to be very beneficial. But, despite all of that, I found that I can relate to the essence of the paragraph.

The man speaking in this paragraph is a man who claims to be indifferent, who constantly reminds the reader that he is simply an objective observer, a man who doesn't take sides. He tries to convince the reader, or really himself, that he is not emotionally attached or involved in anything going on around him. But here, perhaps accidentally, he confesses that this is not truly the case. He isn't objective (nobody is), he isn't indifferent, he does take sides and he does find himself emotionally invested. By claiming to be indifferent, by working to convince himself that he doesn't care, what he is really doing is trying to protect himself from loss and from pain.

And I can relate.

Although I typically refuse to admit it, I too am always afraid of losing happiness.

I am afraid of losing happiness.

This is a problem.

This is a problem because when I am afraid of losing something (happiness itself, or a source of happiness), I distance myself from it, thinking that somehow this added distance will make the loss easier to handle. This is a problem because I've unintentionally taught myself to live in such a way that my happiness, for the most part, is replaceable. This is a problem because I seek to convince myself that I don't care, that I too am an objective observer, and that I am not involved. This is a problem because instead of making decisions with the intent of increasing my level of happiness, I find myself making decisions simply to avoid decreasing my level of happiness.

I'm afraid of happiness, because I'm afraid of losing happiness.

I'm afraid to dream, because I'm afraid of unfulfilled dreams.

But really, it's not the happiness that I'm afraid of, and it's not even the loss of happiness. I'm afraid of being vulnerable. I'm afraid of the vulnerability that inevitably comes when placing a certain level of trust in another person. In an earlier post I mentioned wanting to feel vulnerable and safe at the same time, which is an honest desire, but I'm finding more and more that it is this feeling of safety, not vulnerability alone, that I seek. I dread the thought of vulnerability without an accompanying sense of safety. It scares me.

I can't fully explain this to you - although I really wish I could - if you haven't had a similar experience in your pursuit of happiness, then you probably have no idea what I'm talking about. And that's okay.

I also wish I could explain why I need to write all of this, but to be honest, I don't really know. I know I'm writing this for my benefit, but I don't have any solutions, so I don't know what all of this typing will accomplish. If you've survived this post up to this point I thank you - this is all a sort of strange moment of honesty coming from me. This is not an easy thing to talk about - it's very real and very personal, and those are two things I typically try to avoid.

While I don't have many answers, or many adequate explanations, I have learned a few things:

1. Happiness is not meant to simply be replaced. If you're living your life in such a way that your happiness is easily replaced, you'll one day find that the life you lead is not the life you need. Trust me.

2. Happiness without vulnerability, in many instances, is not complete happiness. As we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, we open the door to happiness. As we open the door to happiness, because we are now vulnerable, we run the risk of disappointment and pain. It's complicated, isn't it?

3. We need to learn to trust, and we need to live in such a way that we can always be trusted.

I still feel like something is missing from this post - like this is just a big, incomplete thought, and really, it is. I know that I fear vulnerability, and I know that I enjoy happiness. I know that I try to protect myself from loss and from pain, and I know that by doing so I experience a different kind of loss and disappointment - missed opportunities, and what might have been.

And I know that life is good.

It's simple, really - I am a human, and sometimes it scares me.

"We're never so vulnerable than when we trust someone - but paradoxically, if we cannot trust, neither can we find love or joy."

-Walter Anderson

Also, spiders. I'm afraid of spiders.

......Seriously though, they creep me out.


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