The Path of Thorns


Before you judge me, try hard to love me…

by on Jun.29, 2010, under death, goodbyes, human emotions, inspiration, love, music, nature

It’s never fair when you’re given the world, and are expected to live up to it.

A year ago now, we lost a King, a leader, a sensation and most importantly, a seemingly wonderful human being.  I can’t imagine being the center of the world’s attention, and then on top of it going through such trouble, despair and confusion.  While still being all of that, for earth to see.  We all like to jump to conclusions, judge as soon as possible, and with that judgment tear people down like moldy old wallpaper.  The second something isn’t what we imagine it to be, when it’s something we can’t understand without tearing down our own walls of perfect image, we condemn and destroy it.

I may be wrong.  This man may have been a sexual deviant, a double-crosser and a disgrace to generations worldwide.  We’ll never really, truly know if he was.  What we do truly know is that he showed the world nothing but love, dedication and endless talent that we ate up and later chewed out when it tasted a little funky.  I myself have dealt with emotional issues, heartache and awful depression.  Letting the world see not only that, but how I’d deal with that, is a trauma none of us could ever begin to imagine.  He dealt with his issues with physical changes, interactions none of us gave any time to listen to or understand (including myself, absolutely), and decisions that were questionable at best.

I was having a panic attack once.  I was in financial distress, dealing with more uncertainty than I’ve ever experienced, and dealing with losses I never thought I’d have to.  If the world saw my reactions to that, and knew nearly every last detail of it, I might have changed myself and made bizarre relations as well.  I nearly lost my world; and when you want that world back, and you don’t know how to, you don’t always know your own reason.  All you know is, you lost something and you want it back.  But you don’t want to be hurtful to anyone, and you don’t want to make a fool of yourself either.  Well, to err is human, and there’s no margin of error when the scale is that large.

This man gave us every last drop of all he had to give.  His talent, his creativity, his ecologic intelligence and passion, and even a good deal of his sanity.  Yes, as we’ve all violently pointed out, he had his mistakes and character decisions that made him far, far from perfect.  But are you?  Am I?

He pleaded with us, with so many of his songs and lyrics within them.  He tried to get us to listen.  And of course we didn’t, myself included; he practically lived in obscurity and financial demise for years before he gave his final breath.  The same market of journalists, TV hosts and press that glorified his imperfect mistakes and actions all of a sudden felt compassion and loss, and gave their best words.  In the world’s best example of not knowing what you have until it’s gone, we lost the Polaris of the entertainment world.  Had we heard him out a little better when he begged us to, maybe he wouldn’t have led such a life of inner misery and with such a lack of self-understanding.

He had everything there was to have, absolutely everything – and I can’t imagine he realized much of any of it.  He paid dearly for trying to go back in time within his own life, with his home, with choices he made, and he knew it.  Still, he died wondering if the world ever even gave a damn about him beyond what he gave and gave until he literally no longer could.

…I take that back.  I saw his final documentary that hit theaters last year, and he had all the heart and talent he ever did, and it made it that much sadder to know that never got a chance to develop again.  While he should have known better in some way, he paid the price of being cast off too soon.

Do we owe his spirit an apology?  Who knows.  Should he have shown remorse for his own trouble?  Yes, and he did plenty of times.  It’s an altogether tragic, sad and confusing loss of one of the best entertainers and activists we’ll ever witness.  And if you scoffed at that last statement, I certainly can’t blame you, but I can’t help but understand and even relate a little to someone as in need of help as they were profitable in their deserved success.

He said it best in his own words, which is cryptic and even more melancholy to listen to now:

Like A Comet
Blazing ‘Cross The Evening Sky
Gone Too Soon

Like A Rainbow
Fading In The Twinkling Of An Eye
Gone Too Soon

Shiny And Sparkly
And Splendidly Bright
Here One Day
Gone One Night

Like The Loss Of Sunlight
On A Cloudy Afternoon
Gone Too Soon

Like A Castle
Built Upon A Sandy Beach
Gone Too Soon

Like A Perfect Flower
That Is Just Beyond Your Reach
Gone Too Soon

Born To Amuse, To Inspire, To Delight
Here One Day
Gone One Night

Like A Sunset
Dying With The Rising Of The Moon
Gone Too Soon

When his sunlight began to dim, we shut our blinds well too soon.  I absolutely hope the anguish you felt in this lifetime is long gone wherever you are now.  Rest in peace and quiet, Michael Jackson.

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Baseball does not build character. It reveals it.

by on Aug.13, 2009, under baseball, goodbyes, human emotions, love

For twenty-three seasons, X has been a major league baseball player.  A star for many seasons, always reliable, always professional.  Always came to batting practice early, always doing the extra infield drills, always talking to each coach thoroughly, with the eagerness of a rookie, year after passing year.

That’s what made X such a wonderful player, and such a perfect role model.  It doesn’t take a baseball fan to understand the love he had for his craft, for his brethren, for those that loved him as much as he loved them back.  It’s may be talent that allowed him to work his magic with his glove and his bat, but it took character to turn that into the respect and devotion he’s put into his entire carer.

X was finishing up work on his glove one Spring morning, in the clubhouse.  He always used the same mitt; that same old trusty mitt, that’s caught over 10,000 balls in its lifeline.  X was beckoned into the manager’s office, where the door was shut gently behind him.  X stood up and smiled, and put the mitt inside of his duffle bag.  He knew.

“What’s going on, Mr. Coach?” X asked, knowing the conversation that was about to begin.  Yet still respectful, as always.

“X, I don’t know how to say this, but I’m going to try anyway.  The staff and I just put together the 25-man roster, and I just spoke to (General Manager).  This is killing me…but you didn’t have a good Spring, X.  We both know that.  you hit under .100 and could barely chase any fly balls.  If we kept you on this year, everyone would see it would hurt the team, and neither of us want that.  I know you’ve been on this team since half our lineup was born…you know what I’m saying, X.”

X blinked a few times, and looked down, noddling slowly.  “I know, Mr. Coach.  I lost count of how many hours I ice my shoulders and knees these days.  The desire’s still there, so is the passion…but my body isn’t.  You don’t need to say anything else.  I’ll clean out my locker for the kid and fly back to Chicago.  Thanks for letting me play the Spring out, Mr. Coach.”

The coach smiled, with faint tears forming on the sides of both eyes.  He stood up and shook X’s hand gratefully.  “We could have put you on the 40-man roster and sent you down to the minors, but you looked like you were saying goodbye every day already.  You and I go back a lot of years, X, no one will miss you more than I do.  Thank you…thank you.”  The coach took his hat off, holding it in front of his stomach, and let the tears flow.

X was speechless.  He nodded and smiled, and went to open the office door.  As he did, he looked back one more time.  “It’s been a great run, Mr. Coach.  I’m going to go on the field one more time, if it’s alright, and I’ll be on my way.  Give the new kid my regards.”  The coach humbly nodded and smiled back, and X shut the door.

Getting back to his locker, he went through each memory he had as he packed up.  The first cap he got when he signed his first contract two and a half decades ago, pictures of him friends long since retired or deceased, and a sticker he got on the first day of spring training twenty-three years ago that said “Baseball is your music; sing your finest tune.”  A token from one of the best players of his lifetime.

X’s eyes watered to match his lightly quivering cheeks as he carefully peeled the sticker off the locker and put it outside of the locker door.  “Best of luck, kid” X said as he gathered his things.  He took one last look at the old and small clubhouse, still as can be.  All of the other players went on that old familiar plane right back to the major league city, preparing for the 162 game season ahead.

X walked slowly out of the clubhouse, down the long and low hallway leading to the field.  He walked up to the plate and took out his bat.  Seeing the groundskeeper, also a dear friend, he called out to him “Hey Z, can you do me a favor?”

Z didn’t need to ask what he was doing there, but wasn’t sure what the request was.  An old high school friend of X’s, he felt the goodbyes of the Spring with everyone else.  He shook his head and laughed, and walked over from where he was in the visitors bullpen, where he was fertilizing the grass.

“Yeah X, you old lug, what do you want?”

“Do me a favor and walk over in front of the mound and pitch one like you used to.  Just one.”

“I’m not even going to ask.  Whatever floats your boat, X.”

Z walked up in front of the mound, about fifty feet from home plate.  He picked up a nearby ball and got his grip.  Smiling through his focus, he threw one straight and true in front of X.

X pushed his right foot back, flexed his arms, quickly raised them and swung through his aching bones and muscles.  He flinched in pain as he connected with the ball, and swung through before dropping the bat immediately.  The ball sailed, almost looking as if it was enjoying its moment in the air, before finding its home past the center field fence in the accompanying lawn.

X stood there, with the numb pain lingering throughout his upper body, with his throbbing fingers.  He looked at where the ball landed for what felt like eternity, and looked back at Z, who looked back at him quixotically.

“No worries, Z, just had to do that one more time.  I’ll see you around.”

Without another word, X walked through the field, taking it all in after his self-produced last hurrah, and let himself out through the right field gate.  He didn’t look back that time; he let the hit speak for itself, as he always had before.

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