Some Thoughts on Restriction and the Freedoms it Has Provided For Me – By: mOUNTbRENDON

I had an amazing conversation tonight (and in conversation I mean mostly relying on the others’ conversation) about loneliness. For some silly reason, I think that loneliness is my biggest strengths. Here’s my last writing assignment for the semester for my Nonfiction class. It explains why that is. Enjoy.

Assignment # 13: Develop a braided essay that weaves together your thoughts on three abstract concepts (such as time, travel, distance, language, memory history, etc.)

Some Thoughts on Restriction and the Freedoms it Has Provided For Me

A human is not a book. Growing up, I thought that, to be a good person, I had to form myself in the shape of a book and write the letters, B-I-B-L-E on my chest. I had to look like all the other walking, talking, and preaching books that surrounded me. At times, I tried to inch my way out of the pages, the box shape, that I had placed myself in and to allow the ink and the thin leafed pages to escape from the leather binding that became my skin. But each time I tried this, I was met with a subtly severe backlashing from the other books, so I climbed back in and I chose not to think about it. When you’re shaped like a book, you can’t help but feel extremely restricted, so you have to choose not to think about it.

All the while, a steady ticking sounded all around me as I rode a large swinging pendulum topped by stiffly printed Roman Numerals, watching me like attentive prison guards. The two large black hands constantly circling my consciousness always found a way to fill my mind with a panicking sense of claustrophobia. This feeling resurfaces nearly every day, but when I remind myself about the subtle beauty of those Roman Numerals, keeping me safe from free falling down into some kind of meaningless abyss, the claustrophobia goes away.

I feel a claustrophobia in language as well, but this never really goes away. I wonder what it would be like to live outside of language and to release the cog in the portion of my brain that translates signifier into verbal signified. It has forced an anxiety that I seem to carry with me in my every day life. But then I think about the passion this anxiety has created and how reliant my passion has been on the claustrophobia of language. A reliance that I have slowly come to embrace with open, but still rather restricted arms.

This embrace was made easier thanks to my arms reemerging from their former leather bookbinding. I learned to walk without a waddle, which seems simple, but when you’ve lived in the shape of a book for so many years, it takes practice. I was free to evaluate myself and to open up my own pages inside where I learned that no one should live in the shape of any kind of physical book. Instead, everyone should take his or her own shape and let the pages roam free on their own accord, because if you allow yourself to become shaped like a book, religion can be awfully restricting.

It can seem equally restricting to have to constantly stare at those pesky Roman Numerals guards as you try to fit your ever growing list of to dos and desires in that circular setting within the clock. But I’ve recently learned to find the beauty in this setting that has been forced upon us, because the things in life you love the most can be met with a much higher sense of importance and gratitude as you are forced to organize and prioritize around them.

Language is always there, always to be prioritized. It can form isolation, but is yet our greatest tool for community and relationship. As anxious as its restrictions make me, its uses are also my greatest motivators, my greatest passions. Without its restrictions, there would be no need for poetry, which I believe to be any attempt to reach beyond the constrictions of language, yet within its very words. Language and its restrictions are necessary, for without it, I would not be writing this very essay, and I would not find the joy in writing that I do. Because language, like life, is what you make of it.


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Clean the Air – By: mOUNTbRENDON

The air was a clean and clear as I remember for a long time as I sat outside the other day for about an hour. The blanketing sun was warm, evened out by the light, cool breeze. My head was like a submarine, stuffy from my cold, but the stillness and quiet of the Wyoming air made me forget about that. I brought a book out with me, but within minutes, it found itself closed on my lap. I didn’t need a book to fill my mind with distraction. The atmosphere was too inspiring for anything outside of it. I just sat and thought, and soaked it in.

There were several birds that struck my attention after twenty or so minutes in the whiskery tree at the edge of the yard a few yards away. I wouldn’t have noticed those birds, camouflaged in the tree branches if I didn’t allow myself to soak in the surroundings – to be still. I would have missed their short, jerking head motions and their silent communication with one another as they hopped from branch to branch.

There is a certain quality to Wyoming that I have always criticized, always wanted to escape from. But there is a certain quality to Wyoming that I absolutely adore, something I will always miss when I am away from it. I’m not very journeyed, but I can’t imagine very many other places where you can sit in your backyard, in the middle of town, and experience that same stillness and quiet. Even the occasional revving engine of a passing truck contributes to it.

I couldn’t smell anything as I sat out there thanks to my cold, but I didn’t have to to internalize the brown, sagy pungency that I have taken for granted most of my life. That dry, dusty smell will be something I carry with me the rest of my life, reminding me where I come from. I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

It struck me the past week or so how critical our society is. We love to criticize at any chance we get. Newspaper columns, blogs (mine included), news stations, sports commentary, etc. is filled with critical opinion. For some reason, that is quickly becoming the only opinion worth publishing. We’re moving to the point where we are on the verge we totally disregard, like me with Wyoming, the good aspects of things.

In an ideal world, I think that politicians would not spend the entirety of their energy criticizing the perceived weaknesses of their opponents, but instead look at the strengths of their opponents. Instead of pulling each other back like children fighting over a loose football, they would push each other forward, challenging each other like Bird and Magic fighting over an NBA championship.

It’s easy to criticize. It’s not easy to criticize correctly and constructively. And it’s not easy to slow down and empathize, or emphasize the good. But I am going to challenge myself to do just that, to not look at what I disagree with so much, but focus on what I agree with and what makes me disagree.

I don’t think this world needs another writer going around criticizing everything he sees without offering any kind of solutions.

There’s no poetry in that.

But there is poetry in the inverse.