Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Patron Saint of Solitude

"Let me tell you this: if you meet a loner, no matter what they tell you, it's not because they enjoy solitude. It's because they have tried to blend in with the world before, and people continue to disappoint them." - Jodi Picoult

Growing up Catholic I became familiar with the Saints. A particular favorite of mine was Lawrence the Martyr. He was a Roman deacon who was in charge of the church treasury and the distribution of alms to the poor. After the death of Pope Sixtus II the Roman army demanded that in three days he should turn over all the riches of the Church. In that time Lawrence gave away as much of the Church property to the poor as he could in order to prevent it from being seized. On the third day, when he was asked about the treasure, he showed the Romans the poor and the sick in his care and proclaimed that these were the true treasures of the Church. For this act of defiance he was ordered to be place on a gridiron over a fire. As he was being burned alive he said something along the lines of "Turn me over, for I am done on this side".

I have always admired that level of righteous sass in the face of imminent harm.

I loved the lesson of laughing through the pain. It was something I wish I had learned to do more of in my early years. When I was little I remember sobbing at my grandfather's house. He told me lovingly "Don't cry, or one day you will run out of tears". It was a good tactic. I rubbed my eyes naively trying not to waste this seemingly precious resource.

Later I learned that the average human body is about 60% water. I am literally made of tears. As, long as I am alive I remain my own personal, endless supply.

My twenties were an enormous struggle. I survived unhealthy living situations, disastrous relationships, a crippling lack of finances, and severe sleep deprivation. I couldn't wait to be thirty. I wanted the stability I thought it would come with.

I worked tirelessly because I always thought I was working towards my goals. One of my goals was to start a family. I didn't realize how lonely that would turn out to be. I put my heart and soul into everything. My work ethic has become my greatest achievement and my splintering cross. When it comes to love there is a tremendous void. It just doesn't exist for me.

Work pays off. I have a finished product, something to reflect on, something added to this world. Love burns me up. I give but get nothing back. Karma only rewards my industry and forsakes my heart. So I devote myself to the work.

Love surely exists, but for others. I have always been comfortable being alone. Silence is freedom to think. To bridge the gap between heart and soul. Resilience is my only virtue. Cloistered in my room I create. I have become the Patron Saint of Solitude.

Penance in learning how to go forward without answers. Letting go without getting bitter. To love without receiving and to keep fighting without a reason.

You realize that the darkest hours are always in the beginning of the day. You open your eyes with the knowledge that you still have to make it through one more time. You have to battle demons but you have no weapon, only stamina. You'll never defeat them. You can only survive them.

I have been told for years that I am "an artist and that means I must suffer". As if the sarcastic lack of understanding is somehow meant to imply that my talents are some prolonged sin. As though I could never hope to find myself until I see the world though teary eyes. 

This concrete heart is heavy and tough, but porous enough to crack. We'd all like to think we are able to withstand, but how many days could you go without food? Without water? Without love? The reality is we are all just a few precious days away from disaster. I have had to endure this lesson many times over. The only way to grow was to create. Work with the parts of the soul that are not often expressed. Learning to never shy away, even when the pain is unbearable.

My weakness swells from my heart until it falls from my eyes. I wish I could be more like my grandfather. It is so easy to say "move on", to pick up the pieces, but all I've ever had was pieces. I've been trying to make something out of this broken mosaic for years. How do you reclaim something you were so happy to give away? When did working on a dream turn into begging for scraps?

Born to love but forced to battle. I never wanted to be a martyr for this cause. I just wanted to work miracles.

Turn me over, for I am done on this side.

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