Dead Man Walking

I can see an image of myself in ten years. I'll be 36 years old, probably with a few grey hairs nestled in my beard. They'll make me wiser and so will the time that's past. I can see the clothes I'll wear, the conversation I'll have. I can see Poloroid pictures carrying the memories I've made, the world I've seen with my wife, the songs we've written. I have an image of myself as a father, even the temperament I'll have.

Sometimes I find myself living in this thought, in this image for a few minutes at a time. It's as if I get abducted from my present self and parachuted into the middle of this world I've made. It's okay to dream. In fact, I think it's as natural as breathing. I worry about anyone who isn't dreaming because you can only hold your breathe for so long. What worries me is the thought of so looking forward to the man I'll become that I don't experience the man that I am. What worries me is entering such a slumber that I never really wake from it. My dreams are beautiful, they are birthed out of an embracing of my reality with the desire to better it. My fantasies though, they are dangerous. They are birthed not from the embracing of reality but rejection of it. Not the desire to better it but to exchange it. 

The world of fantasy is perfect. It is in fact corrupted and innately polluted by any measure of imperfection. It needs constant protecting. When we view ourselves through the lense of fantasy, rejecting our true self and reality we put everything on the line, all the time. We are forbidden from embracing our imperfect yet authentic self and instead choose to walk the leather tight rope, stretched between two trees that cause blisters with every step taken in balance. Fantasy is without Mercy and is no friend of Grace. When we walk into a room to present ourselves as the person we fantasise being, we have everything to prove. A word tinged with critique or a question that digs deeper into the depth of who we are feels like a dagger into the soul. We are defensive because we have to protect the illusion, everything is at stake. If our fantasy self is rejected we have nothing left to offer since our authentic self has already been sacrificed on the altar of fear. The fear of being known and rejected. The fear of dissatisfying and being dissatisfied. 

Last year I chose that I would not sacrifice my self. I would not sacrifice the man I am today, riddled with imperfection and marked by disappointment. The man who wrestles with God, and runs from his fear. The awkward me, the unsatisfied me the painfully impatient and uninteresting me. I chose that I would rather crucify the illusion and the option to live within it. I would rather put a dagger into the heart of the man I'll never be. The man without scars, the man who has it all and has nothing because he doesn't have a story. The man who caused me to become dissatisfied with my reflection, my thoughts, my ideas, my creativity and humour. If he is dead then so is my need to prove, protect and walk the tightrope.

As the taut leather breaks beneath my toes and I feel the soft green grass below my feet, I am reminded. I am reminded of who I am, who I was yesterday and who I am today but not tomorrow, for I do not know him yet. I am reminded that I need not waste a moment in proving myself, rather I am free to encourage the room I am in. I am reminded that when all your focus is on balancing your self and the illusion, you simply can not carry anyone else. You can not vouch for them, it may cost you your place. You can not celebrate them, it may cost you your position.

On the soft green blades of Grace however, there is room. There is space to dig for the gold in everyone and it costs you nothing, for what is there is left is loose?

Artwork by Joshua Luke Smith & Elaine Tregaskis