“Fuck this, he’s the stupid one, he’s the useless one!”
Marco slammed the door, as a loud voice kept yelling unintelligible words, words that couldn’t be grasped, but whose sound could be understood by anyone, in any language.
As the distance grew and the voice faded, the boiling anger in his chest started to hurt him, betraying him, because he was keeping it in store for the bitter man back at the cottage, who clearly wanted him out of his life, but couldn’t bring himself to abandon him.
Marco believed this inability to act on his real feelings wasn’t a matter of decency, but plainly a fear of rejection, it was a small town and single parents were frowned upon, let alone one who abandons his teenage kid.
-“If he isn’t bold enough to leave, or kick me out, I will leave instead, I’ll find something, I’m old enough to make some money on my own.” He murmured as he hastened his pace and clenched his fists.
But he knew better than this, he was a good student with top grades, and he also had a very detailed plan for his life. Deep inside he knew this rejection, this constant reproach was his curse to bear, his price to pay. If he just managed to hold on for a couple more years he would go to college, miles away from the home that wasn’t a home any longer, but barely a shelter for the homeless; that is, himself.
But he walked, he used to walk. More and more, his weekends were becoming lonely walks, talking to himself and building fantasies. In these day dreams he became smarter than anyone else, he became wealthy and successful, he could see himself returning to town driving a car like no one in that miserable place has ever seen, and buying the biggest farms, just to let every crop wither, every animal die, and not a single soul would be able to do anything about it for he was now the owner and master of that stinky place.
-“Imagine the old man, making up excuses, ashamed, trying to explain why his son is such a disgrace, such a ruthless bastard”.
As time passed, the anger slowly evaporated, and when he was far from everything, he would let the pain take over and cry where no one could see him. He would just sit and cry by the creek because once he did, he felt like he was able to make it through another week.
Those tears, he thought, were like scales in his eyes that blinded him and wouldn’t let him see things for what they were; for it was only after dropping them on the grass that he would start noticing the small things he knew he would miss once he departed for his new life: the colorful birds chirping, singing and dancing like the ancient ancestors summoning the rain; the flowers enduring the wind, never defeated by it, and the wild hares who seemed to always be plotting schemes just like he did during his lonesome afternoons.
But this time, something was different. After the blinding tears came out, it felt like the air cleared and all that surrounded him, even nature’s ongoing celebration had stopped and became solemn, and silent. This made him feel uneasy, but also moved him into action, so he started walking further than usual.
After a few minutes, he approached the abandoned mine, a ghostly place that served as a natural boundary with the closest village; none of the other kids in town liked being there, but then again, it felt like a better place to be than back home.
Something red was moving, actually flapping, near the entrance to the mine; this wasn’t an animal or a plant, it was something entirely different, something that was put there by someone, something with a purpose. He felt like going back to the creek, but couldn’t ignore the mesmerizing object, agitated by the wind.
Taking a deep breath, the slender teen drew near and crouched to look closely: it was a flag. A flag! From every single possibility of what could be found in that place, he found a small, red flag playfully moving, planted in the middle of nowhere.
This time he really felt like running away; was he being observed? Was this a prank? A snare? He looked around him, his heart was pumping faster: not a single soul. Even nature seemed mute, expectant, holding its sounds and motions, waiting for him to dig.
He couldn’t run away, he’d made it all this way to make this discovery, he had to see it through. Besides, there was not much else to do and this was far more entertaining than doing his usual pencil drawings, sitting by the creek.
Using a piece of wood he found, he started digging; at first sight, it didn’t seem like the pole was too long, but to his surprise, it wasn’t easy to pull it out. As he dug deeper, he saw something resembling a piece of cardboard; he took it out and dusted it off, it had something written on it:
“How did you find me? Keep digging and ”
The sentence was incomplete. He could now hear his own heart pumping, he dug faster, as if all he wanted was for the unexpected trial to end, and leave that place to take cover in his usual thoughts and the drawings in his notebook.
Two feet deeper, he felt the pole start to loosen a bit.
-“Almost there, maybe 1 foot deeper”.
Then, a new piece of cardboard appeared:
“we can play a game, after all this digging it makes sense to have some fun. Hi, my “.
Again, the sentence was left unfinished.
He needed to stop to take a break; his fingernails were filthy as were his clothes, he wasn’t prepared for this amount of work, with nothing but a piece of wood, and his fingers were already injured. It didn’t matter, he was almost done.
He shivered at the thought that once he was able to remove the flag, a new piece of cardboard will complete the unfinished introduction.
But he wasn’t prepared, no one could have ever been prepared for what was at the other end of the pole: a human hand, a skeleton hand the size of a 10-year-old, was tightly gripping the pole. Marco fell on his back, as he pulled the whole thing out of the dirt.
-“What the a-actual fuck?
Is… is this…?”
It was. Inside the bony fist, there was another piece of cardboard, the final one (he expected):
“name’s Armand, I’m dead.
But I guess you figured that out already. This was “Capture the flag” when you’re ready to play “Tag” enter the mine. I promise if you play, I will tell you why you’re playing with a dead kid, how cool is that? Hi-five!”
As he read the last line, the hand opened.
Marco would have screamed with all his might, but what came out instead was a gasp; he couldn’t utter a sound. He couldn’t move, he couldn’t close his eyes to stop seeing, nor could he release his new friend’s hand. He couldn’t make sense of anything, he could barely begin moving his legs to try and stand up.
But in the midst of all those things he couldn’t do, there was only one very clear thought in his mind, one thing he could do, the very thing he couldn’t avoid:
“I need to get back home, bring the flashlight, and enter the mine”.
I think this is probably too deep for this hour of the night and a day packed with real-life cybersecurity action at work (woo hoo!).
In any case, I have some ideas I don’t want to leave unexpressed tonight, also I’m listening to a “Jazz Noir” playlist, which helps me make it through the night with the guts and toughness of a broken detective, way too tormented to sleep and obsessed about catching that monsters of the streets, that’s proven so elusive: “but, tonight is the night…” as our good-old Dexter Morgan would say.
So what’s up with the void?
Oh, come on folks! Shouldn’t you know it by now, that I have a natural affinity with drama?
No, but seriously, I’ll talk about real shit here just be patient and bear with my introductions; I’ll tell you two things:
This has to do with my journey as a writer and artist (of course, if you read me, you probably figured that out)
This is another of this self-discovery-type-of-article in which I feel like having these epiphanies about my own journey, may (even if accidentally) help some of you on your own, or at least get you to think more about it. If that’s the case, I will feel satisfied.
I don’t usually quote people that much in my blog, but I believe the following is worth quoting and helps me as a good starting point for my topic tonight:
“Every bit of learning is a little death. Every bit of new information challenges a previous conception, forcing it to dissolve into chaos before it can be reborn as something better. Sometimes such deaths virtually destroy us.”
So the thing is, this guy from the start challenges you with: “writers have to write, every day”. Well, it’s not the first time I hear it of course, but hey since I’m used to “doing things my way”, I ignored all the exercises and the prompts and started binging the thing: I didn’t get too far, it became burdensome and then I thought to myself “well, you’re already working in your books and if this instructor is right, you should probably just keep writing those”. Well, guess what? I’m stuck now, cause, in reality, I do need all the help and instruction I can get and if I don’t start using what’s available, these projects of mine will never see the light.
Now, folks, it’s taken me years to grow up and stop self-beating for about everything, but I have to be honest because I’ve assessed this with sincerity: that fucking attitude of mine is plain arrogance, disguised as something else. The truth is, it comes from feeling I’m above “writing prompts” and above hundreds or thousands of aspiring authors and somehow my stuff is more special and I don’t need to do what everyone’s doing in forums, and in communities and…
You get the point.
Now, before you just hate me, two things:
Being honest is not easy, I know for a fact most people won’t be. So take the above as a confession, as an attempt to defeat this stupid arrogance that has no real foundation, for I’m the newbie of newbies and I know it.
I think this has a root in other seemingly “unrelated” things that reside in my subconscious and have been sabotaging me for years; perhaps joining me in my analysis may be an interesting exercise for you too.
So taking all of this into account, I started pondering, very seriously: “why am I acting like this, if it’s evidently counter-productive?” And also “have I been doing this in other aspects of my life?” “In other projects, maybe?”
Short answer: “Yes”. Also, I happen to know at least a part of what’s lurking in the subconscious mind that’s affecting me like this, and it’s not something I like to talk about but here we go.
Show these motherfuckers!
So this guy right here is a big part of my personality.
“Seriously? A tough guy?”
Yes, maybe you find me quite melancholic, I am that as well xD. But yeah, this ‘tough boy persona’, who’s a part of me, has been playing some tricks and I have exposed him.
In honor of our story together and the huge help this “tough-boy Josue” has been, let me tell you a little about him and why he’s such a strong part of this troubled mind of mine. Do you know, or could you imagine where tough people come from?
Answer:Tough people comes from tough places.
And yes, there’s just so much to my personal story, at least in the part of my life where I couldn’t really manage or decide, that it could become a series of articles. But the thing is, as soon as I became an independent adult, even with the serious health, financial and emotional problems I dragged from earlier stages of my life, I decided no one was gonna fuck with me ever again. Not only that, but I also decided that the world was majorly a hostile place for me, and I would get from it what I wanted even if I had to force it to hand it over to me.
I know this is a cliche, the cliche of the damaged person who decides never to be a victim again and in becoming epic, also becomes unreachable, unreachable, and oftentimes, unwanted.
To me, this wasn’t a “stage” of early adulthood, it was probably how I was during my 20’s and the beginning of my 30s (I’m 36). I got used to this because it wasn’t only an emotion, it became my lifestyle: courageous, charging forward, an excess for effort, muscle, hard work, relentless… But also, often times reckless, overly self-centered, and hostile. And I did get the benefits of becoming ‘the tough guy’; I’ve been able to do many things that destructive people around me considered “impossible” and I’ve felt amazingly great seeing them from afar, confused and stale where they’ve always been and will probably always stay. All of this while I continue to move, while I charge ahead.
Now, the fact that I’m now able to see myself with more critical eyes, and understand sort of the “archetype” represented by this part of my personality, doesn’t mean I condemn myself for being this way: I accept and love that tough boy, he’s helped me a great deal and others around me as well because hidden in his hostility, he’s got a heart that wants to help others, especially the damaged ones. Without his violence and his strength, I wouldn’t be me, and I accept myself and really like it, nowadays.
But that doesn’t mean I’m blind to his shortcomings, and some of the consequences of using this guy so much are becoming obstacles for me.
There’s A World Beyond The Fight
What happens to a soldier, after the war is won?
My life story required a soldier and a very epic one. But see the thing is, I got attached to that character, to that version of myself that brought me so many victories, so much satisfaction, who protected and provided, who endured the worst times. But this soldier is now facing a time he was not built for, a time of peace, a time of quietness, a time of beauty, a time of exploring new things and by the way, a time he bought with blood and tears.
The tough boy has been in a crisis of meaning for a few years now.
And what’s growing in me, is a different animal. It’s still part soldier because I will never let go of that, but I need to integrate it with a philosopher, an artist, a thinker, and a businessman because these other “auxiliary” parts of me are no longer the “auxiliary” ones but the ones taking precedence.
So among many other things, I will not brute-force my way into writing a good book, recording a decent music demo, or developing a voice worth listening to. All of these new things, require me to connect with others, learn from others, and accept the possibility that others hold many of the keys I’ve been desperately trying to find.
It’s time for bravery to give way to humbleness, and violence, to wisdom.
And in that sense, the words of Dr. Peterson echo strongly in my current midnight (not a metaphor, it’s literally 12:36 A.M.), listening to jazz noir and feeling very tired, and also very satisfied that I’m tired for the right reasons.
And let me finish with this: I will go through that whole Udemy writing course, and I will start again being engaged in writer forums and communities and actually read what others are doing, helping them review and also asking for their reviews and their feedback, even if it’s hard to hear. This is now a public commitment with you, my wonderful readers; actually, I published my first exercise from that course, it’s called Blue Door in case you’d like to read it.
Friends, I’m learning, every day, dying a “small death” every day, and watching something new come to life every day. We’re humans, we’re wonderful creatures capable of reinventing ourselves, capable of deciding to become someone better than yesterday and if I die tomorrow I’ll go with a smile.
Yes! I keep making content and posting it about Death Stranding. Now that I’ve finished this large streaming project, I will not be quiet about it!
I made a fan-art video: “Teardrop – Fragile’s Theme”. I hope you like it, and in case you haven’t read my big post on Death Stranding, I will leave you here an excerpt of it which is the section talking about Fragile.
Fragile is played by Léa Seydoux.
Fragile is a character with quite some baggage, a heroine and villain in almost equal parts among the “preppers”, people who live isolated from the main cities of the UCA. The reason: associating with the wrong people and being stained by the actions of her former business partner who betrayed her.
Fragile is a business heiress, of the type that works for her wages and cares about the legacy of her father. In that, she’s often very proactive, and considering her story and the state of the world, she’s often in impressive high spirits; she’s a strong woman. While Bridges is a huge private corporation gradually assuming government functions, Fragile could be thought of as a smaller business partner with considerable reach in areas Bridges is not necessarily welcome; and so, she’s very instrumental in achieving the whole chiral network expansion. Besides this, Fragile has mastered a technique to travel via the “beach”, that surreal area previously accessible only to the dead, and so she discovers a rather weird means of long-distance instant traveling. Fragile has DOOMS, meaning she has special perception “powers” coming from the Death Stranding, just like Sam does.
There are two big drivers for Fragile, which put her at the intersection of Sam’s mission and hence, makes them compulsory partners:
The expansion of Fragile Express and honoring his father’s vision
Taking revenge from Higgs, the leader of the terrorists, for his betrayal and the death of thousands in the destruction of Middle Knot City
Stemming from this, we witness Fragiles story of breaking with the limitations of her name and condition. Fragile’s body is always fully covered in a sort of whole-body special suit, she’s always wearing globes and constantly eating a disgusting insect that’s also a product of the Death Stranding, called a “Cryptobiote” which contains healing and regenerative properties. This is not a mere eccentricity.
Higgs, Fragile’s former business partner, turned to become a leader of a terrorist group, a sort of “doomsday cult” advocating for the completion of the Earth’s annihilation and accelerating it by using his incredible powers (mysteriously acquired) to lure the world of the dead into a massive collision that would destroy everything. Before going public about his agenda, Higgs tricked Fragile into placing anti-matter bombs in two cities: Middle Knot and South Knot; when Fragile realizes this, Higgs gives her the opportunity to save one of the cities, the one nearby, by letting her drop the bomb into the tar lake; but the price she has to pay is, she’s stripped down to her underwear and sent into the heavy time fall wearing only a mask; if she wants to save the city she will pay with her body aging to death or near death. She accepts Higgs’s conditions and saves South Knot, indeed damaging her own body beyond repair in the process.
Fragile’s body is highly debilitated, aged to the appearance of a very elder woman and her face remains her own age, in a twisted mockery designed by the terrorist leader.
However, besides her frail body, there’s nothing weak about her: she’s entrepreneurial, risky, determined, and relentless. Even in her worst physical state, she manages to transport all members of Sam’s crew to a single location to meet and support him in his final adventure and almost dies in the attempt, so one of Sam’s last missions is to bring her a box of cryptobiotes to save her life.
Fragile is just her name, her character is tough as nails.
Last night, an old enemy knocked at my door, very violently so, neither hiding his face nor disguising his voice.
He smelled of moist walls, and of old, cheap wood; of rotting hope and dreams past due. He carried a bag, his intention was to leave it inside of my home, where I struggle to be born.
This insidious gift was a generous serving of the harvest he can no longer bear, as it’s more abundant than he expected and more devastating than he would ever anticipate. This fruit and its maggots are the death of every winged creature and the doom of every child who struggles to live inside the likes of me.
For a moment, I stretched my hand to turn the doorknob, for destruction is far easier than the journey ahead; for there’s a foe to blame and a poison to explain to myself and then others so they can later explain it to me again. For I am tired, and there’s a wild abyss ahead, and I could be the hero or just one more of the dead, in the womb of fate. For it seems safer dying at home and let it happen so, that it seems the thing most would call the way of man.
Then I stopped, and I screamed with hatred and violence, and pain: “Accursed, go away! For there’s a land beyond the abyss and a torch to lead the way, for the glory of the hero is also the glory of the dead he finds in his way, they’re the bricks that lay the path of the brave, and their blood will never go to waste. Away with your living carcass and your prudent mask, for you who claimed to be wise, are the tomb of the unborn hero and the thief of every precious gift of light”.
This is a post about me, this is a public declaration of a decision that will change my life forever, I know it because I’ve taken a similar one in the past, and it did.
Let me tell you a story.
I got married young, very young. I didn’t know what the fuck to do with adult life suddenly falling upon me like a fucking iron dome, no way out. It wasn’t marriage that was the issue, as a matter of fact, this was no issue at all, my life was already a lot better than it was years before. The issue was, that I had to become a full adult as an “emergency procedure”, there was a sequence of decisions that were all about breaking free and having a very slight chance to actually build a life of my own, and the promise of these decisions came with a high cost.
It was tough. I was broken, really broken not like nowadays that everyone with a hint of anxiety says “we’re all broken” to get sympathy, fuck it. Seriously.
Do you know what it is to see everything you prepared and worked for years be destroyed in a matter of days?
Have you had an experience where something out of your control rips your life apart and effectively takes away every dream and hope you had sinking you into chaos?
Have you felt a hospital is more of a home to you than your actual home?
Have you been institutionally abused, harmed, tied to a bed, or threatened with getting electroshocks to your brain?
Have you watched every person you know move on with their life and plans, while your youth is draining like the blood of a dying man in an alley, with no hope to be helped, no one who can stop the hemorrhage?
Have you ever felt death was a gentler fate than dealing with who you are or have become?
If you have, because I’m sure I’m not alone in tragedy, then I send you a sincere hug and I tell you: this will pass, but you need to hold on to hope, focus on that and find a way out, things will get in place eventually.
If you haven’t, then I hope you never have to walk those paths, I don’t envy or resent people who’ve had a better or easier life, I believe this world needs all the happiness it can get, and I sincerely hope you’re making the best out of it.
I lost the five most important years of my young adult life, my college years, not in college as I have prepared for, getting the best grades, getting admitted to the college, and the program I dreamt of and planning everything carefully. I spent those years in between hospitals, doctors, depression and despair. It didn’t come to me because of a bad decision, it simply happened and it couldn’t be helped.
Back to where I began: adult life. At 23 I was just recovering from the darkest period of my life when I decided to make it on my own and marry. Not only was I broken mentally, emotionally, physically, and with no structure whatsoever in life but also, I was financially broke and absolutely ignorant of how things work. So I came out of a personal tragedy five years long, to an absolutely brutal struggle with my own decision of becoming independent and the poverty that came with it; when I say poverty I mean it.
Then, a life-changing decision
While I took a crappy call center job, I came across network technologies; I heard it from lots of people this was a hot trend to get into and people were being paid lots of money. I needed no more explanation.
You see, I was a failed law student because of tragedy, but that was in the past now. At this point, I was able to have a job (that was a huge achievement believe it or not given my circumstances at the time), I was just married to the best girl I’ve ever met and we were both enduring great pain. It didn’t matter that “it wasn’t my passion”, it didn’t matter that “I felt life was unfair to me”, nothing of that mattered. What mattered was that there was a very slight chance of turning the tide for us, and I took it.
It wasn’t easy, I was never a systems person, I have always been a culture and humanities person. But I’m thankful to God I had the opportunity, and the vision to believe I could thrive in this; I couldn’t afford lessons so I had to learn this by myself.
I had no computer, I stayed late at my job to use their computer and then took the bus home; my health was still in terrible shape, and doing my job plus studying was simply taking me to the limit. When I finally was able to buy a cheap Toshiba Satellite laptop, I was living in a tiny, cheap apartment full of noise and shady people, one of whom actually came to threaten me with a gun if I kept asking them to lower the music a notch. These are the conditions in which I completed my first I.T certification, after paying it with a credit card because it was impossible for me to afford the exam, and then failing my first attempt.
It didn’t matter, now I was in a different community, a different market with unbelievable opportunities and I laid my life on the line to be part of it. Many more years of study, a lot of tough on-the-job learning, and countless hours of side freelance gigs to increase my learning and development, finally took me to a proven position of seniority and the ability to pretty much choose my jobs, after a decade.
I let myself go and also my previous aspirations in order to be able to attain opportunities for me and my family. It’s taken me a lot of time to understand that there are years of my life I simply lost and they’re not coming back, nor the experiences I was eager to live during those years. But I got something different and amazing, certainly far better than what my original career was going to give me as far as life quality and opportunity.
I was blessed, and I consider myself blessed. The decision to jump into the void finally proved to be the right one.
But this is not what I want in life, it’s certainly a beautiful stop on my path to it, but it’s not it.
I told you before, I’m a man of culture and humanities, not a man of technology. I’m a thinker and a writer, and it’s amazing that I got to build a strong career as an engineer given the fact that I’ve never had fulfillment doing this.
Man, you build a life for more than one decade of continuous, hardcore sacrifice, sleepless nights, all sorts of jobs, you earn certifications, study the coolest and craziest cutting-edge stuff, build a business and succeed, then fail, rise again, build connections, travel the world with your shiny career… all of this after being poor and having nothing at all! And then come to realize this will always get you a good income, but will never fulfill you, will never replace what you know you want, what you know you are. It’s hard to know what to do.
I’ll tell you what I did: I wrote.
A New Beginning
This takes me to 07-01-2022 at 1:52 AM, the time of writing this post.
When I was a child, I used to create monsters, stories, and worlds of my own; my first short stories, I wrote just because I felt like at 6 or 7 years old. My first poems at around 9 years old, and as a teenager, I always carried a notebook for thoughts, songs, and poems, and I ended up destroying it always because I felt it wasn’t enough and because the contents hurt me more than they would help me.
It’s been extremely hard to find myself, but this is me, a writer.
I believe even if tragedy hadn’t struck me and I had carried on with my plans, sooner or later I would have realized law was not going to fulfill me the way writing and creating does.
This is me, I’m an artist.
It’s hard to find it out at 35, but it would be a lot harder to never find out and live with a deep pain I can’t understand.
My English sucks, I really need to work on it, I’m totally rusted, I have never studied creative writing seriously and I know no one else close to me who is a writer, who could give me a hint.
But I found out I have a slight chance to be fulfilled at what I do, even more, to leave a mark on other people. And I will take it.
I will keep working in technology because my career is a miracle and a blessing and because I have to fund my dreams and provide a platform for my family. But once again, I will study at night, and spend late nights writing, reading, and editing, not because I need the money like the first time, but because I need to be me.
The first serious poem I wrote as an adult, “Binary“, is my story and my promise to that broken teenager who died in darkness, that he will live again and become what he should have been, and do what he’s meant to do.