The first time I died, it dawned on me that I was a man born to die a million deaths. It was going to happen again. Now I’m not speaking of that resoundingly final death that the living is so achingly aware of. That cessation of life that follows the crunching of a cockroach’s minuscule head under the lofty heels of a woman’s party shoes. That force majeure that leaves in its cold wake pain, dejection, insanity and sometimes pomp and pageantry, no I’m not talking about that death. I’m speaking of the death of the caterpillar that morphed into a butterfly. The demise of the egg that soared into the skies as a squawking eagle. The homicide of the cute innocent little boy that grew into a serial killer.
The single most important war I have been fighting growing up and into in my adult life has been that of identity. The battle for supremacy among my numerous doppelgangers. Between the angels and the demons that have made my soul their abode. The war of attrition between the good in me and the bad. I have been called shy, cute, smart, honest, diligent, charming and amazing by so many people that I’m tempted to believe I’m all these things. I have also been called malevolent, malicious, arrogant, selfish, insensitive, dumb so many times that I wonder whether the first set of people were delusional or just a bunch of expert sycophants. To many people I am an enigma but to myself I am a greater enigma.
Because I keep asking this question of myself every single moment of my life. Who am I? What am I? the hopeless romantic that inspired the character Romeo in Romeo and Juliet or the snow hearted man that was Patrick Bateman in American Psycho. Am I yin, am I yang. Am I pure or am I sin. Am I good or evil? Am I bashful or cocky ? I confuse the people around me. What they do not know is I am confusion unto myself too. In the mornings I walk the earth trembling, like a dog fearful of its master. In the nights, I become a god of inexhaustible temper. In the mornings, I am so vocal, in the nights; it is as if my deliverance lies in my silence. I could not take it anymore.
And so I began to search for myself; in books, in dreams, I have looked for myself in the clear reflections of still water. But the answer has never been simple, because the straight path sometimes seems crooked, and the ways forward sometimes seem to go backward. In fact the closest I have come to an answer is this; I am neither good nor bad, as I am both good and bad. I am neither a fool nor sage. I am like clear fog, I am life, and I epitomize it. So just like in life, where the highs and lows need each other, where there is no light without darkness, where sound and silence complement each other and mysteries and the obvious are infinitely intertwined, my beautiful and my ugly have to understand each other, to complement each other. Wise men have spoken; and they say that there is no one aspect to an entity, there are two, there are hundreds, and the eyes see only what the mind wants to read. For believe it or not, sometimes there is good in the evilest deeds and bad in the most holy of acts.
With this realization I have accepted that ‘goodbye to the old me’ would be the constant theme song of my life. As I morph from good to evil and to good again. There is no beginning and no end to these deaths I would die time and time again. It is only accepting and embracing the very nature of the human that I am. And it is only when we accept and use and balance both ends of the good-bad spectrum that we can truly achieve harmony.
So what I say to you today, my dear friend, is learn to work with your angels as well as your demons. Learn to use your confidence as well as your fear like the Great warriors of Assyria. Learn to use your narcissism as well as your modesty like the Pharaohs of old. Learn that you can lose by gaining and you can gain by losing. Learn that the tree that can bend is the one that survives the storm. Learn to prevail by yielding. Learn, that in this crazy ole world of ours, there never are absolutes.
Happy Worker’s Day. 😀
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