Some people say that life is just a classroom where we come to learn the things we need to complete ourselves. But why does it have to be so hard? Some say it doesn't have to be hard. Life's lessons are about as hard to learn as your head is hard; as your heart is hard. The defining moment in my life was in learning to not resist. Willfulness is often a mindset of self-battery. It's very tricky in that it can seem like strength when really it is just arrogance. But you can't resist the whole world. It will wear you down over time. It seems like the whole purpose of life is to humble you, and made humble we certainly are — or will be.
I have been humbled more than once in my life. Reading memes online about humility is a whole lot easier than learning the hard lessons of humility in their moments of merciless instruction. Memory is pretty merciful, at least in my life. Much of the distant past is so vague it seems like a dimly remembered dream. Trauma mercifully seems to blot out the periods of its betiding, like a compassionate amnesia, but many sweet moments are also lost in that personal fog of war. And so my childhood is a landscape of forgotten beauties. When I close my eyes I travel there like a walk in the night where I only see shadows and highlights of fading memories. But the one thing I continue to grasp for is the innocence of that little boy; a child who was curious about everything — who was always laughing and making others laugh, but who in private had many fears and troubles.
I spent a lot of time alone as a child; in the dark woods covered in thick Kudzu amongst giant oaks draped in sleepy Spanish moss I would spend my time day-dreaming. This is where my dialogue as a writer began; as whispers to the trees in my own imaginary world — an only child with no real friends to play with except a few remarkable bullies who tormented me and polluted my innocence with their demented cruelty, fear and self-loathing. Like it had been put in them it was put in me; they transmitted their fear to me like the disease it is — viciousness, ignorance and rage infected me. The way the Kudzu vines strangle a forest is how my innocence was overcome; a slow and relentless act of suffocation and domination that steals the light from your life.
Much of my life has been a mourning of the the loss of innocence; an attempt to reach out to that scared child and save him — to excavate him from his demolished spirit which was swallowed in the earthquake of coming-of-age with no sense of belonging. I belonged to the woods. I belonged to the red clay roads. I belonged to the blackberry vines and the blue jays. I belonged to the crimson and white azaleas. I belonged to wildness and the wind; as a Son of Dixie I would whistle, hum and sing — alone. I looked like a character from the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn; dirty, bruised, sun-kissed and freckled. I was just a little boy running around bare-foot on a dirt road in the middle of nowhere Alabama. I may have been a hick, but I could run! At dusk, often on my way home, I would run bare-foot through a five acre field of dew-covered grass. I was running wildly on the tips of my toes with such speed, that all I could hear was the loud winds blowing in my ears. I felt like Mercury, or an Indian brave, and my energy seemed inexhaustible. I could run like the wind; feeling my power rushing through me. That memory is a highlight in my life. It's the freest I ever felt in my youth. Everything I write is about is really about freedom. Freedom is everything; being free from falsehood, fear, control and your own demons.
A heart's call for freedom is its own form of bondage in a world of liberty lost. Nothing can torment you more than yearning for freedom in a world of civic enslavement. No more trees to climb; no more careless adventures; no more dreams — living a scripted life where you barely even remember who you are; only who you were told to be. Routine and responsibility becomes a form of amnesia where we forget who we are as we slowly die inside. But you can remember again. You can be free. You can reclaim your innocence. You can dream again. You can awaken. A new chance can begin through your inner-life by making peace with yourself through total acceptance. You can co-exist peacefully with your past and present when you learn to respect your journey. You can rekindle the fires of your imagination and let the light lead you to best of what is old, and what is new. I have learned that the past cannot be left behind. A rich life-story is dependent on every chapter from beginning to end. It is always the things we run from or try to forget that hold us back. Forgetting your childhood is a form of child abandonment. I believe the reason writers write and readers read, is to remember. The way to move forward is to simply remember; remember who you once were. It is only when you accept who you truly are that you can access the potential of who you could be. I have remembered myself and remembrance has given me the treasure of myself and kept me alive. May you discover the wonderful treasure of yourself too. May you walk the path of your dreams in delight, with grace and ease. To live fully awake and feel fully alive and free, is the most courageous dream.
written by Bryant McGill