Layers of Clothing

Too often, writers get caught up in the mundane, the utilitarian, and the homogeneous. We want to be “real writers” but we are not getting paid. Writers that try to get deep that are not effective, do not engage, and cannot encourage readers to ask more of themselves get frustrated and end up writing about celebrity news, sports and entertainment, or do reviews, because that is the most effective way that they can get underneath the skin of their readers. Other writers talk about spiritual or political issues, because that is what they are most emphatic about; this is what gets them stoked. Some writers talk about one’s self because they are in love with themselves and need to hear themselves talk; whether anyone reads their material or not is never a consideration because the only readers they will get are those few voyeurs that have a sincere interest in learning what makes them tick, or, like the writer, are also narcissistic and sociopaths and have found someone else to relate to.

This “article” is about that last writer I’ve mentioned, sort of. I have always wanted to bring something poetic to my work, and that is often harder than it seems. After we are in fall approaching winter, and one needs to slow down and take into consideration where they are at in life. During the summer months everyone is excited and you see loud, boisterous behavior, everything is fast paced and we live for the moment. The temperatures have cooled and everyone is inside trying to stay warm. But a writer has to survive and prepare for the elements, because the winter can either kill off their career or reduce their spirits to those of mediocrity and melancholy, or they will refuse to move forward.

When I was a kid I tried to be cute. Boys are just as cute as girls, just in different ways. For me I might wear a denim jacket when it was 20 degrees outside. These days I see young men in flip flops with socks. But if I really wanted to survive, if I was ready to brave the elements, I would layer myself up in clothing. It is in the twenties right now, and it isn’t fall yet, but I already have a coat with a jacket underneath it, a plaid shirt, an ugly wool sweater, wool socks a t-shirt. This is what I want to do if I plan on being outside for hours.

Writers need to get out from behind their computer screens and go outside and live life and press flesh in order to bring a fresh approach to their writing. I do not want to be cold, at all, I do not want to feel the wind and I do not want the wind to cut through my chest. When the wind pierces your flesh like a hollow point bullet sickness is right around the corner. I do not want to be the one that is responsible for you getting sick, but if I become sick myself I want to get over this cold in a matter of days, not a matter of weeks.

This is the time to take a walk through the parks in your city and look around and observe. Take a walk around downtown and actually experience your neighborhood. You cannot experience anything in an automobile. Sometimes you have to get in contact with the Earth itself and see what is going on around you. I went without transportation for a year and a half back in Ohio. During that time I met a lot of prostitutes, drug dealers, miscreants, “riff raff”, losers and the rest of the disenfranchised in the city. I got hit on a lot, propositioned, offers to go to strange places and walk down alleys I did not know existed. It was dangerous, but it was that aspect of life that exists that you can easily miss. I never met any of these individuals when I was driving in my car.  But I learned something; the city is not about what you see illuminated through brights lights that welcome all to come in.  The city is about those dark places in the recesses of the shadows that no one who is not in the know dares to walk into.  It is about what is hidden, what is not advertised and what speaks for itself.  Not everything is in the light, some things are hidden in plain sight, which is exactly the point.  We have been conditioned to look for skyscrapers, bright lights and large crowds.  That was never really the point of the average American city.  There is lot out there, but you have to be willing to put in the work to get out of your car and find it, because there are places that your car cannot take you. 

I heard a lot of stories about strip clubs, drug addiction, sexual addiction, all sorts of interesting things. I would walk through my neighborhood and people actually knew me. We would walk for a while, talk and then get off the bus and part ways until I saw them again. There is a feeling about taking that last bus that leaves at 20 minutes after midnight and getting off when there are no cars driving through town that you cannot get any other way. Sure you can put on one big coat that is full of down and wear a t-shirt underneath it and leave it unzipped because you are sweating because it is not that cold. But that is the problem with an easily solution to an easy problem.

The problem is not always what it appears to be on the surface. I learned as much by the people I met on the streets of the city. See the problem with the big coat is that if someone takes it you are pretty much naked and exposed until you get to your destination. Hopefully you have enough money to buy another big coat. Such is the case with most big solutions in life. We buy all of these big things, and we know that we are going to get robbed because we are asking for it this is the big sign that is sprawled across our back so we invest in all of these security systems, and methods to protect our self. We then need to buy other big things to protect the one big thing we’ve bought.

Sometimes the big coat is too much of a good thing, and you get sick because you are 120 degrees inside of that thing when it is 5 degrees outside. Not to mention the fact that you return to a house that is 80 degrees inside. All of these big things are hard to keep up with, all of them are expensive and all of them require a lot of upkeep and maintenance that a bunch of smaller solutions, fit together in creative ways can address.

Where I live now in Virginia they are arguing about how best to solve our transportation woes. What about the consideration that we need all of those ideas to be implemented to begin to scratch the surface? We need light-rail, we need to expand all of the tunnels, we need a third crossing, we need to widen I-64 all the way to Richmond, we need to expand all of our streets and force businesses to relocate (these are businesses no one frequents anyway) we need to build up into the heavens and we need dedicated bus lanes and other forms of rapid transit. We need everything. There is no one solution, and no one fix that is going to help us; implement the cheapest solutions first, do not ask the General Assembly for anything and implement tolls because Richmond is no longer going to help us and move forward.

So half of our economy is dependent upon the military, and the other half would prefer if the military would move somewhere else. Well the other half needs to pay as well as the military for any citizens to actually get behind moving the military somewhere else. The other half pays enough for you to have a roommate, and it doesn’t pay enough for you to gain any true independence, so what do you think is going to happen.

There aren’t any easy solutions in life. It isn’t about who or what you date, what church you attend, what your world view is, what you purchase or who or what you are. It is about a comprehensive solution. Problems come to you in many layers, and the solutions that you take to fix those problems are going to require many steps, and different approaches, on order for those problems to be solved. Everyone is looking at life from a high place they refuse to come down from to tell you how your issues can be solved. But your problems are complex, and the loudest voices, are those that have not been through what you have been through. The sympathy is there, but the empathy leaves much to be desired. Who wants to take on your pain through their own consciousness? Who wants to put in that hard work to get into your shoes when they never fit anyone else’s feet?

There is a lot superficial sympathy going around. People that say they are standing with you; I get that you agree with me on ideology, but we may have approached at the same school of thought from two different paths. My lack of closure about the significance of life may have differed from your own; some people are upset by the fact that they are still here, but I rejoice. Some of us have been manipulated by everyone. Too often people have died a long time ago, and no one ever noticed, so if they address the situation themselves and take life into their own hands everyone is shocked. Who are the individuals that actually saw this coming? There is lot of silence.

Someone does not want to get lost behind all of that clothing. When summer returns again, as it always does, you can strip down to a single layer in an article that is tight and form-fitting and let loose. But nature works against you in the winter. There is always someone that does not make it through the winter because they lost a bet with nature and things did not work out and they were alone in the cold somewhere and everything gave out. Their body was without the energy that they needed to move forward. Someone may have fallen asleep and is laid out in the snow somewhere until we find them.

This is what life will do to you when you refuse to protect your mind and your soul. It is easy to allow all of these external factors attack you during the summer because nature is with you and we can run away from all of the voices that we hear in our heads. Other people are around, and we do not have to pay attention to what we are being assaulted with. Our attention deficit disorder kicks in, and we leave the Ritalin behind. But in the winter, everyone is looking out for themselves and preoccupied with getting through the season. This is when we need that moral, spiritual and ethical support, because it is too easy to crawl up in a corner and close our eyes. You simply cannot do what you did during the summer during the winter. Do not believe in the hype of an easy fix, and find a comprehensive way to stay warm…

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