Seattle-bound life a twisted mess, I lie beaten, tattered, and torn, drowning in an icy pool of loneliness and remorse, feeling melted and empty, finding apathy in abundance. This is how it began.
I was headed for a trip to Seattle to help others, but in all reality I had been the one needing the help. The evening before the trip started, I had gotten into a fight far worse than any other fight I’ve ever experienced before, even though it wasn’t even fought on the physical level. It was fought on the emotional battlefield, mortar shells tearing apart my soul. I had come to fight an opponent I have not yet faced.
It was a battle, ironically enough, fought only on one side, against one thing: myself. I had lost my sense of self worth in others. I no longer felt as if I belonged anywhere, and in this new feeling grew hate. Hate for anything and everything. I yelled and shouted, and I liked to hit things. I had quit. I wanted no more from life. There was a time where I had not wished or longed for death, just merely wouldn’t mind it. I had given up; lost sight of where I was going. I hated everything.
The battle was short, yet it possessed a fierceness to it that I had never seen in anyone or anything. I hated the enemy. I had suffered an injury, other than those that struck my mind and soul; I was now marked and branded. Failure, a simple phrase that seemed fitting at the time, was now carved deep into my abdomen. I thought at that point that life was a frivolous fight for air. I hated life.
Take for instance the analogy of a tunnel. I had just entered. The entrance of a tunnel is a tenebrous chasm devoid any promise of light. Deliverance from this present darkness seems bleak and non-existent. The miniscule glimmer of light gives a mere hint of its existence, far in the horizon. Life near the entrance of a tunnel is frightening, especially when it is a trip taken alone. To enter in is the first step. Life then becomes nebulous and unclear. Merely, it seems, an existence is taking place and no more are you a living, breathing organism. More over, you become a mechanism. You mechanically create a system that will help you cope with the otherwise bland, day-to-day darkness we all find ourselves cloaked and surrounded in. I found my self a failure, a constant disappointment, and hardly a necessary object/part/mechanism in this existence.
In this condition I found myself. In this condition I left.
In essence, the Seattle trip was a mission trip that took high school kids to go help the Macaw people on an Indian reservation. It seems funny when we look past ourselves to help others what details we miss in ourselves. Broken, torn, and tired I came looking to assist others in life. Weakened, I drudged through the beginning of the week as a machine, a mechanism sans life, a pointless existence. As the week continued, a brewing cogitation on my part led way to my own uncovering of desire. I had entered the stage of life in which now, I hit the bottom and entered into darkness as a single, lifeless, being.
“Where is the light?”
I sat in darkness and thought to myself. A seemingly simple question, but for some reason it seems it’s the hardest to ask. As the darkness seeps into our innermost being it seems as if we get caught up in the immense vastness and become overwhelmed by the surroundings. It is as if we get so tangled up in our pride that we lose sight of what’s really important. So to ask even the most simplistic question, leads way to a desire and a way out of the mess. We want to find what we can do to get out.
Then I found myself in Seattle, after periods of painting, shoveling, and hopeless contemplation over life.
Actually I take that back, It was a town before Seattle, the day before. I found my self sitting over the sound, peering out over the water, staring up at one of the most beautiful sites in all of "the everything". If you’ve never seen Rainer, I suggest you take a pilgrimage, and quick. It is one of the most beautiful and awe-inspiring sites I have ever laid eyes upon: a single, solitary mountain towering over the world for all to lay witness.
I lay near the opening of the tunnel that I currently resided in and looked out towards beauty, sky, and heaven. I lie there, finally being relieved from my coma like status, a once motionless being finally stirring. A twitch here, a kick there, I now decided I’d find something else out.
“Where’s the Light switch?”
Darkness allows a great and insightful contrast into light, so when in the dark we tend to feel isolated. You wouldn’t know it if you were blindfolded, trying to find the way, and there was a hand outstretched toward you. You would be completely unaware of even the slightest outlet of help. The hand is out there, you just need to open your eyes.
So then after sitting and marinating upon my current situation I came back to the group, (previously I had left to find solitary dilation, I left to meditate).
We all decided to gather around some place, I believe it was a wishing well. So we show up, the cliques form, the others group and myself. I slipped away and became singled out, even amongst my peers. I looked into the fountain and saw the cold water ripple out of the fixture. I had some change in my pocket and made a little wish. I wished to find my path.
“Is there light?”
There I had accomplished the first step to finding light: leaving the tunnel. I had stood up. I had gotten up to search for the way out. Darkness doesn’t seem nearly as ominous once you find there is purpose for all of it. Plunged into darkness only to emerge into the light makes light not only brighter but more beautiful/grateful/appreciated.
I had stood up and began the search. I was looking for that miniscule dot on the horizon, a way out of the darkness. Darkness had poisoned me, with a mere prick, sickened my mind and soul. I convulsed and fought back the empty, lifeless droning. I now sought out to find light, and if there were naught, I would succumb to the throbbing of the darkness, and concede from this façade of life.
Seattle, finally. With a new desire, desire wrought from my weary condition, I waited for the next step. The group as a whole decided to break apart for sometime while consumables could be taken in. Then we would rendezvous back at a previously agreed upon position: Pike’s Market. I started the day with a meal of waffles and orange juice. After finishing my meal I was confronted by a member of the homeless. I think he wanted to know if I did acid or if I had some. I found it quite humorous. With my fellow missionaries, I started off back towards the market.
Pike’s Market is a large place, although it seems larger when one is looking for a restroom. This I could say was the beginning of the real story, the finding of the light.
I had left my group in search of a restroom. I found one and used it. It was in leaving the facility that raised a query worth some consideration. I had found myself alone. I decided to search for my comrades/friends/ topside of the Pike’s market. I searched through the market from ground floor to the top. All 6 floors turned up empty. Not one of the 36 Lovelanders were to be found. But, being drunk on apathy like I was, I merely shrugged and began a descent around the city.
Aimlessly I traversed about the town until I decided to amuse my self with a little game. As I walked I came in contact with many a crosswalk. In accordance with my new game I decided that when I reached the walk, if the light was indicating that I might continue walking in the current direction in which I was traveling, I would continue walking. If the sign opposed my direction, I would merely change direction and continue walking, destined off to a new future. I was relinquishing my grip on the reins and letting fate have a go.
After sometime of traveling, I then desired a new activity to pass the time. I began to search for a music store. So I looked up. I had been walking with my gaze stretched no further than a foot beyond my toes, unless of course a crosswalk confronted me. I lifted my head to begin my new search, and there in front of me, there stood a music shop. It seemed too easy.
I entered the shop and began searching for the usual: a primus shirt. Primus, the California-Born, Bass-Fueled, Three-piece trio, had been the idol of mine for quite sometime. I must say now that I am an avid musician and that I love bass guitar, it has been my focus for years now. I had just recently bought a new bass. Well, when I was first introduced to Primus I had fallen in love, and since then every music shop I had been to had failed to produce a shirt of that nature. But there, in front of me, I encountered one. It was an original Seas of Cheese Concert t-shirt, circa 1993. I quickly shelled out the $17.75 and vacated the store with my prize.
I thought to myself, I have to put this shirt on; I’ve never owned one. I quickly ran to the store closest to the shop, “Mike’s Baseball Emporium”. Excited quickly was I to rush to the nearest bathroom and change into the treasure that I had recently encountered. I grabbed the cold brass handle and gave a quick tug. The door was locked.
I figured it merely a fluke and traversed to the next shop. It too was locked. I tried every building on the street and not a one was open. It was then that it struck me. It was Sunday. Almost everything I had encountered recently had been closed. I panicked, I ran. The end of the street closed in quickly. I saw movement. There, at the end of Battery Boulevard, I saw an open facility. I looked to read the sign. It read, “All Nations Community Church.”
To you, my gentle audience, I present the obvious. Churches are open on Sundays.
I quickly ran inside and changed into my shirt. I looked myself over in the mirror. Quite satisfied, I ventured out of the restroom and in my contentment almost missed the sweet sound of a low-frequency bass groove kicking from what sounded like a gospel rendition of “Jesus Loves the Little Children”. I decided to venture into the sanctuary and explore further this bass groove.
I wandered around the corner and my eyes shot quickly to the bass man. There was an entire choir, a tenor sax, a full-size jazz piano with full sized jazz pianist, and a lead guitar player. But I went straight to the bass player; something had caught my eye. He was playing a Warwick thumb bolt-on. Obviously he has good taste in basses, for I too play the very same bass.
The song ended and the pastor came out. An eccentric looking man, he had long 4 inch spiked bleached-blonde hair that accompanied his otherwise fairly dapper attire. He spoke with somewhat of a southern drawl. I quickly became curios and decided to stay and hear the man’s sermon.
Well to shorten a long story for now, the man might as well had been speaking straight to me. He imparted into me that that life was worth it. He said that life is full of obstacles that make things hard, but to over come the obstacles is to taste real life.
“Everyone jump up now and shout, Iss all-ah worth Ittah!” he instructed. The congregation quickly followed suite. He then diverged into preaching about how God isn’t done with me yet and how we as a people are a work in progress.
“There is no reason to hate yourself cause you’re a work in progress.”
“God loves you” “Life is worth it” “You’re not stupid, you’re not lazy you are worth it-ah!”
The sermon ended just after the pastor instructed everyone to tell their neighbor that he was worth it, and that they were a work in progress. I was instructed that from a black man twice my size and smiling big. Life’s questions being answered and a new doubting of coincidence. Eyes watery, tears streaming, I sang and laughed at the top of my lungs as I ran through Seattle. Then, it hit me. I was 20 city blocks away from anything; I didn’t even know where it was. I was now lost, lost but no longer alone. I was stranded in downtown Seattle, without the slightest inclination of what I was doing or where I was going, and I could not have been happier.
I started running. I figure I got here through fate I ‘d get back through fate. I followed the signs. I figured I was in the best hands I could be in. However, it seemed as if I was now headed in the opposite direction that I had come from. I figured I still had one more stop to make.
I walked until I met an Old Spanish hobo; he sat on a wall near the corner of the crosswalk. His hand was outstretched toward me. Sparked by the curiosity lit by the homeless man I had encountered earlier, I reached my hand out to him. I embraced his hand. He was old and wrinkled like the brown sack used to carry his liquor.
I conversed with the man for a span of an estimated forty minutes. He talked on and on about this and that. I hardly could cling the current of his ramblings. I was lost in a sea of muddled and broken Spanglish. I did however manage to decipher these four phrases.
“Jesus was human”
“Como, is how in Spanish”
“We are all brothers, we are all kin”
“You have got to learn to speak, learn to listen”
The hobo’s comrades came then and collected him after he had finished imparting unto me his words. Still lost I decided I would turn and run for the last time. I took my first steps and began to run.
I looked up. I hadn’t taken a step.
“Dude, get in the car, where goin’ to the space needle.” It was Dono. Donovan was the youth pastor in charge of the entire trip. He had come to collect me. It was time to leave. No one worried about me in my absence; they didn’t even know I left. Fate had dropped me off, run its course and picked me up, right on time. But was it fate, or even coincidence? I hardly can even believe so.
I am back now, Seattle-returned. I am exhumed from the darkness of the tunnel and set free into the light. Never looking back, I am re-oriented towards new goals and aspirations. New life breathed into me with fire burning, passion rekindled. The path is clear with obstacles looming over. Nevertheless, I set off toward this new future. This is how it begins.
what's it to you?