THE HALLWAY

I woke up in an empty, white paneled hallway. It was lit with rows of florescent lights, which reflected off the walls to make them appear even brighter. When I got up to look around, I noticed that there were no windows, but in the distance there was the vague outline of a doorway. I glanced behind me, only to see the ongoing nothingness continued that way as well.

I began to walk thought the hallway. The emptiness was filled by the soft pattering of my shoes beneath my feet. The clothes I had woken up in felt clammy, and stuck to my skin awkwardly, but the more I walked, the more they fell away from my skin. The door, which had been but a tiny outline in the distance, grew closer as I walked toward it, and it became clear that it was built for another time period.

In stark contrast with the walls around it, the door was made of a faded bronze metal, with a handle rather than a doorknob. As I put my hand on the door handle, my eyes came into contact with a large door knocker. The knocker was made of a large metal serpent’s head, which looked vaguely draconic. The serpent held the metal knocker ring in its mouth. The ring itself was another work of art, which had been fashioned with careful detail into the design. Rather than smooth metal, the ring had been made to look like a chain of people moving into and out of the serpent’s mouth.

I realized I had been transfixed on the serpent, and shook my head back to the task at hand. I pushed and pulled on the door handle, but found it to be stuck in place. A few more shakes and I yielded. I sighed, and took a step back from the door to look around. The white halls stretched endlessly on either side, but in the distance from the direction I had come I could hear the faintest of sounds. Dah-duh…Dah-duh it was the unmistakable rhythm of someone—someTHING walking closer. I strained to look into the distance, and noticed a speck of black at the edge of my sight. It was definitely moving, albeit slowly.

Fear shot through my body, and I had the sudden urge to run away. I restrained myself, and turned back to the door. I wondered what could be on the other side of the door. Freedom. Safety. Slavery. Murder. Death. It was the great unknown, locked to me. And what monstrous being would be on the other side? But as my ears turned back to the slowly approaching creature down the hall, I decided it was best to take my chances. At worst, I would have two things coming for me instead of one. I drew my hand up to the ring of people, and banged it hard against the door twice. I stepped away from the door again, and prepared myself for what came next.

One…two…three moments past before I heard the distinct clank of metal unlatching from the other side. The door swung open, and the stale air of the hallway mixed with the moist, wooden air of the new room. Standing in the doorway was a little girl, no older than my cousins. She was pale white, with light brown hair that fell down to the middle of her back. She looked on at me with wonder; her head cocked to the side slightly. Her eyes were black and dead, yet her mouth moved with the most colorful and lively emotions. Shy, happy, concerned, scared, and so on. She was dressed in a white ballerina’s leotard, and white ballerina shoes.

“Hello,” I said cheerily, meeting her empty eyes with as warm a smile as I could muster, “and what is your name?” She didn’t answer. I glanced off into the room, and saw nothing but a black void before me.

“Do you have parents? Or a caretaker? Would they be available for me to speak to?” Again I was met with silence, though this time the little girl stepped back from the door and into the darkness. The light faded away from her body, and I could barely make out the barest hint of her form. She beckoned me in, then stepped to be completely engulfed in the darkness.

——

 

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GIVE THANKS

As we sit around the thanksgiving table

Let us not forget those that make us stable

Let us not forget those who have sacrificed

Let us not forget those who still pay the price.
All the people who struggle to find food.

All the people who want water that’s good.

All the people frozen at Standing Rock

Who have been cheated by the white mans talk.
Can we take a moment to love,

And look on at the stars above?

One moment to see each other,

As siblings of the same mother?
We need to stop bleeding

We need to start feeling.

We need to love life

And not give in to strife.
One people.

No evil.

To bring us

Our justice.

BURNING THE CANVAS

“Make your mind a blank slate,” the monk told us. We were sitting in the wooden temple, performing our daily meditation cycle. It was around 6:30 in the morning, though the bells had yet to chime. I focused on my heartbeat, calming myself. The goal of enlightenment was a difficult process. I had been told to make my mind a blank slate, in a few moments, the monk would instruct us further.

“Now, make your mind empty,” said the monk with a quiet yet firm tone. It was at this point that most disciples struggled. How, in fact, does one create nothing? I was sitting with my legs crossed in the lotus position. My hands were at my knees, palms facedown so that my fingers slumped down, fully relaxed. Every disciple was given the choice of meditative positions, right down to the direction they faced, to further calm their mind. The idea was to become one with the world. In history, but one monk had become fully at peace in this way, but he became unable to speak after his awakening, and in truth he departed from most human communication in general.

I focused my mind. I could picture the blank slate before me—an empty canvas, endless, with no sides or edges. I could feel my heartbeat slow from a normal speed. Thump. Pause. Thump. And so on. Then, I attempted to remove the canvas from my mind, until nothing was left. At first, I tried to condense the canvas, to put it inside a box equally infinite, and make the box disappear. But how could I possibly erase something that was infinite? After that, I tried to eat away at the canvas from the middle, like a fire as it burned from the center of a paper to all edges. In my mind, I could almost feel the heat, as the sparks became a flame, and the flame became a wall of fire, and finally the wall of fire erupted from all ends of my mind. I held my breath, to snuff the oxygen out and force the flame to go out. I could feel my heart rate quicken, straining against the lack of sustenance. But the fire had spread to far. How could I compete with a flame the burns infinitely?

I recreated the canvas in my mind again, each time attempting to remove it in new ways. Each time, failing. By the time the bells struck 7:30, I had become drenched in sweat, despite remaining motionless the whole time. My mind had become a battleground against the forces of itself. By the time the clock struck 8:00, I was grateful our meditation session was at an end. I exhaled deeply, and opened my eyes. When they had closed, the sun was still below the horizon, yet now it had brightened the whole day. The monk crossed the floor of the temple to me, and put a hand on my shoulder.

“You are making good process, Seigfried.”

“I don’t feel like I am making progress,” I lamented. It was exhasperating.

“Why do you struggle?” The monk’s question seemed rhetorical, but I knew he expected an answer.

“I struggle because when my mind is a blank slate, it, like my imagination, is infinite.” The monk made a small smile, revealing no teeth, but clearly happy with my answer.

“If your mind is infinite, perhaps you should seek not to remove infinity, but to alter it.”

“I have altered it!” I gasped, “I burned the canvas away and then tried to snuff out the fire, but how does one snuff out infinity?” I turned away from the monk angry. The monk nodded to me, but I could sense his smile had disappeared. He walked away to leave me alone in my own thoughts.

WORKING NON-STOP

Hello everyone,

 

The weekend has passed. School has started for quite a few people. Fortunately I have a few more weeks of freedom…er…10 days. Man 10 days until I go back to college, and I’m going to be spending most of it at work. In fact, I spent a large part of the summer at work. Thus is the life of a college student.

Of course, I’m not the only person that works pretty much year round, in fact, there are quite a few people who work non stop. Funny to think about it—in the United States, there are people who work every day of the year and still struggle to put food on the table for their families. Or even struggle to have a table. I’ve talked at length about income inequality and how it is completely unfounded in the US, which is the richest country in history, and I still stand by those points. That being said there is still more to say.

Which is the effects on people who struggle to put food on the table. First of all, there is the obvious one—that there will be a breakdown between family. It’s hard to expect “good kids” to develop when they have parents who are rarely around. Parents are a necessity to having a well-developed human being. In addition to this, it’s pretty easy for me to see why lower socio-economic citizens are the people who are stigmatized for being criminals. Why else would a person steal? Either greed or desperation—and anyone who thinks the poor steal because they feel greed is being unrealistic.

This breakdown at home causes breakdowns in other areas of life. Take school. Students of families who live this struggle often are expected to do more at home—prepare meals, do their homework without outside assistance, walk to school, and so on. Is it reasonable to put this responsibility on an eight year-old? I can tell you I couldn’t ask my ten year-old brother to do these things with confidence he would follow through on a day-to-day basis. And yet that is the world we live in.

Additionally, people in these communities often die younger and in worse conditions. Dying younger makes complete sense when you think about it. Non-stop work leads to mental and physical breakdowns. Think of those people who work 80-hour weeks. I work 30-40 hours a week, more if you count school as work (which many students do), and I feel drained after I finish working. Those people that work 16 hours a day, 5 days a week? Or the people that cut their weekend down so that they are spread slightly less thin daily? Those are the people who really have it bad. And to think, many of these people skip meals in order to make sure their children can eat, or get a present for their birthday. And yet, socialism—the system of government that can provide people like this with the necessary means to have a family without these same constant struggles, is often vehemently opposed by these people.

Why? Well, why don’t you tell me your thoughts on why! You seem pretty smart.

SICK WITH TROUBLE SLEEPING

Hello everyone,

 

Wow, I am not feeling very well today. I think I’m on the border of either being sick or being well enough to show up to work. But here I am typing away regardless. Being sick is one of those things where it is sometimes hard to tell whether or not its good to just lay down and recoup or to go out and do something to take your mind off of it.

My dad used to make me exercise through nearly every illness, because, for whatever reason, he thought it would help me get through anything. Which, to be fair, he was right about. In any situation where my body had a fever, exercise would help because the same process of raising the body’s temperature would occur after running for long enough. Which is brilliant. Of course, there were other illnesses that I had in which it did practically nothing to whatever sickness I had, and instead I was just miserable for several hours. I don’t recall ever feeling worse, though I did have a sickness at one point in which there was so much phlegm built up in my chest that I had trouble breathing, and when I was forced to “play through it” I ended up playing without much breath. Which was absolutely the worst.

That being said, it taught me a lot about overcoming mental blocks. It also got my in a rhythm to challenge myself even when I was feeling unwell. Of course, this does come with it’s drawbacks. For example, when I have been really sick and probably should not have done anything except for sleep, I have often gotten out of bed and done things. Today is quite possibly one of those days.

Lately, I have not been functioning too well. My mind has been tired, my eyes have been tired, and every time I get out of bed I feel light headed. And it’s partially my fault because I stay up too late sometimes, though I also have the issue that when I take naps I end up sleeping for too long, which means I either don’t take a nap and am tired all night, or take a nap and I am for sure up too late, and don’t get a full night’s sleep. Perhaps I should be trying to get to sleep earlier. But there’s so little time in the day to do it all. If I go to sleep earlier, then I lose the opportunity to experience the things I enjoy as much.

Of course, it could very much be the fact that I am not getting enough sleep nowadays and that my body has left me sick. In which case it is self-inflicted. What do you think? Let me know in the comments!

THROUGH THE WIRE TO SUCCESS

Hello everyone,

 

We’ve made it though another successful holiday! Time to get back to work. It’s Monday on a Tuesday. Wait. That’s not how it works. Anyways, today I don’t really have anything in my heart that I really want to talk about. But I’m sitting here in the office waiting for someone to tell me my responsibilities for the day. Listening to “Through the Wire” by Kanye West on Pandora, which I recently found out is about how he broke his jaw and rapped an album anyways.

Hey I found a topic! This is a good example of dividing people between the hard working and the uninspired. Let’s take this as an example. Kanye broke his jaw before he finished an album that he needed to release. Rather than say “well, my voice doesn’t sound right, let’s figure out how to make it sound right” so he overlaid several other voices throughout the song in order to make something that sounded he good. And he rapped himself, which probably hurt quite a bit. Imagine it hurting whenever you opened your mouth. That’s pretty much what a broken jaw would do, unless you were completely drugged up—which is a possibility I suppose.

Regardless, this example shows what someone who is inspired and has desire to achieve their goals can do. Which is to over come the hardships placed before them. Certainly, this isn’t to say go out and run a marathon on a broken leg because you wanted to compete in the upcoming competition. But it does mean that when you feel like things go poorly, or when you feel like giving up, make sure that there isn’t another avenue to success. Because there very well might be.

For a broken jaw, change how music works; for a writer, maybe go out and find something new to write about; for a teacher, find an alternate way to communicate; for an actor, maybe look for a different way to voice your character. Maybe this blog doesn’t have to just be about what’s on my mind, maybe it can have poetry, and other creative writing (see what I did there? That’s something I already did to expand my writing!). Regardless, it takes persistence. It takes saying “I’ve looked at every possible way I can do this. Now lets make another way.”

Every major artist has a story, and in many of those stories there is a struggle. Think of anyone, from Bach to Eminem, and there usually is as many good times as bad. Or not. Maybe I’m wrong. What do you think? Let me know in the comments below!

MENTAL ENDURANCE

Hello everyone,

 

I’m really tired. I mean really tired. Like Eminem “knees weak, arms are heavy” tired. Even just sitting here typing right now hurts a bit. Why? Well, for the past few months I’ve been doing only an ok job at exercising. By that I mean I have been doing 4 days a week of weight lifting, which honestly in itself was hard enough. But I realized I should be doing cardio, so this week is the first week of me adding some miles to my routine. Of course, this is also my first week back from vacation, which means I have not exactly timed things too well.

Which brings me to today’s subject: mental endurance. You can probably figure out what mental endurance is simply by hearing the name of it, but we’re going to talk about it all the same. Mental endurance really comes down to answering “Yes” every time you ask yourself “can I do this?” though I can definitely see room for the argument that it is saying “No” every time you ask or tell yourself “I can’t do it.” Either way, mental endurance is what helps us push through barriers within our own bodies. Think about that 6:00 am alarm clock on a Monday morning. Getting out of bed for work is hard, right? It really takes a couple “I can do this” thoughts before you can roll out of bed and get moving. Same with anything else.

That being said, mental endurance can’t make up for everything. At some point, your body will hit a breaking point. Usually you should stop just before you hit this point when you are really pressing yourself, but it can be extremely hard to judge when that point is sometimes. Even harder is knowing when to stop taking a break. I was thinking about how difficult it was for me to put in a couple miles when just a couple years ago I could run roughly 5 miles a day and hardly break a sweat. Which means pain is a relative factor. So, overcoming pain is relative too. While I certainly don’t want to pull a muscle by exercising too hard, I also want to make sure I’m not babying myself at all. That can be a tough thing to monitor alone. In fact, self motivation can be really had for people—I think that it’s the main reason people hire personal trainers, because it’s hard to get yourself going when its all on you.

Of course, this is true for any form of success. Being internally motivated to go above and beyond what your comfort zone is hard for anyone. Sometimes people bite off too much, and in doing so they give up even worse when they fail. Or think they fail. I can’t tell you how many times I have talked myself into thinking I had failed before I had actually failed. But to succeed it takes gritting through the pain, which is where the idea of “blood, sweat, and tears” comes from. But realize that, for many people, that’s not just a saying. It’s a reality. And it’s scary. But to succeed you have to be willing to fail. Again and again and again. But when you finally do come out on top, every failure won’t look like a loss, but instead just another step you had to take towards being great.