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Dear Life.

Dear Life. Unconventional Wisdom.

February 10, 2014

Welcome to the newest installment of The Manifest-Station. Dear Life: an unconventional advice column with a spin. The questions get sent to various authors from around the world to answer. Different writers offer their input when it comes to navigating through life’s messiness. Today’s 2 questions are answered by author Robert Wilder. Have a question for us? Need some guidance? Send an email to dearlife at or use the tab at the top of the site to post. Answers will vary according to the voice/personality/sense of humor of each author. Need help navigating through life’s messiness? Write to us!



Dear Life,

Life has never felt easy. As a four year old I remember worrying if my parents could pay the bills. I remember going home early from kindergarten with stomach aches I couldn’t explain. I remember wanting to speak, but not feeling the courage to do so. I remember hearing them fight all through the night, doors slamming and the sound of a hand hitting a face. I remember wondering why they kept having more kids. And then I remember taking care of those kids. I remember begging my mom to leave my dad. And then she did. And I remember the poverty that came I wasn’t expecting. Life. It only got harder. I remember wondering why everyone had when we didn’t. I remember people leaving cash in our mailbox because “your mom is a hard worker but has no way to buy you gifts.” I remember through that time having a crush on a boy and then hearing him call me homely to my best friend. I remember my best friend dating him then. I remember everyone saying I was so responsible and helpful and going to go places in this life. I remember the adults saying that the bullying would stop as I got older. I remember them saying if I just got good grades and worked hard that I could become anything. I believed them.  They were wrong. Or they lied.

I remember at 17 filling out the financial aid forms to go to school. Not a person to help me. I remember the joy of opening my acceptance letter to school and the response I got was “I can’t help you in any way.” I remember being embarrassed of my second hand clothes in my new world I moved to. I remember staying up all night to do my homework after a long night of work. I remember the boy in college that I thought really liked me. I remember doing whatever I could to make sure he did. And then I remember that he never called me again. I remember the shame. I’ve never lost the shame of the things I did to get them to like me. I remember working and studying and working some more. I remember I still believed that I was meant to do great things. That I could be the one in my family to make it out. I remember those with daddy’s that cared got the better internships and jobs after school. I remember I didn’t know how to play the game. I didn’t have anyone to show me. 

And as the years continued, I remember the slow death of my hopes and big dreams and all I thought was possible to those who worked hard. I got tired. I got so tired. I gave up. 

I have settled. I live a life that looks nothing like what I ever said I wanted.

How do I get them back? The dreams? The idea that things are still possible…even for me? Will life ever feel easy?

Signed, Will it ever feel easy, in Missouri.


Dear “Will It Ever,”

It seems as if you’ve hit rock bottom. What to do? I know this is no consolation but everybody is suffering. Everybody I know at least. Death, bad divorce, drug addiction, abuse, bankruptcy, you name it. Life is really hard, but I think I have a prescription for some temporary relief: Contron. I know Contron sounds like a combined comic
book/futuristic convention, but it’s not. Contron is a twenty-year-old, unemployed, low-fi bedroom singer living with his mother in Pensacola, Florida. Contron writes songs about sadness, drugs, heartbreak, abortion, going to the moon, picking daisies, but mostly sadness. My seventeen-year-old daughter turned me onto the gospel of Contron,
and I feel (slightly) healed. Why? Humanity. Contron makes art out of misery, and that my Dear “Will It Ever” makes me hopeful. I know how it is to have loss. My mother died when I was seventeen; my father is only weeks or months away from leaving right now. There’s more, but I will spare you. My advice: find the humanity in everything. Oh, and listen to Contron here:

Good luck,

Rob Wilder


Dear Life,

This comes to you from the other side of the world. Why is that I always feel like I’m in the wrong place? And is where you are even relevant?

Why is it that I constantly make the wrong decisions? I keep
on shoving myself into situations that don’t seem to agree with me… I see
myself as a rather conscious individual: I take care of myself from a
nutritional point of view, I meditate, I walk/cycle every day, I do
Pilates, I practice gratitude… and I question my life regularly… maybe
a little too regularly.

Pre-2013, I had a nice little set-up in Brussels (Belgium), with a
part-time job at a law firm, doing the occasional translation job and a
small community of dear friends to help and support me. For the two years
prior to 2013, I was engaged in a long-distance relationship with someone I
met online, and who lives in London. After 2 years, I sort of pushed myself
into making “a decision” as to where this relationship was headed. I
decided to move to London, to be with him, dragging everything I own with
me (and later dragging it all back again). After barely 6 months in London
and many spanners thrown into the works, creating all-round bad vibes: “we”
weren’t really functioning, which led to me not really functioning as an
individual either (I seemed to be paralyzed on many levels). One evening,
after yet another horrendous altercation with our obnoxious down-stairs
neighbor, I felt like it was the straw that broke the camel’s back, stuffed
some clothes into a small suitcase, and left. I went back to Brussels,
where all of a sudden, job opportunities were falling into my lap. I was
couch-surfing but it was summer and I didn’t mind… I was being received
with open arms by my friends and I will eternally be grateful for this.
However, after about a month and a half of that, I decided to go back to
Ostend (a seaside town in Belgium, where I was born and grew up), to be
closer to my family while I decided what I was going to do…

In the end, I decided to stay in Ostend to be by the seaside, go for daily
walks along the seafront and the beach, etc. Idealizing the prospect of it,
no doubt…
I rented an apartment which is pretty spectacular (in a certain sense). I’m
on the 12th floor of a tall building, of which there are only 2 in the
city, so my view is amazing. It’s a small flat, so it’s easy to heat and
maintain, and thanks to my 2 floor-to-ceiling windows, it never feels
enclosed or claustrophobic. It seemed like a perfect set-up. On top of
that, the place is relatively affordable, despite the fact that I’m
surviving on unemployment benefits. Anyway, the plan was to find a
part-time job and try to find translation work, which I’ve always done on a
free-lance basis… you know, trying to find a workable solution to make
ends meet and not get bogged down in a job that would suck the life out of

(Oh dear, this is going to end being a novella… I apologize sincerely…)

The above is a seriously abridged version of my background. It doesn’t
mention that I’ve been doing this my entire life… My trajectory to date
(25 years) has been as follows: Ostend – Brussels – London – Brussels –
Chicago – Brussels – London – Brussels – Ostend.
Yes, unsettled might be the right choice of word!!

To get to the point… I have been in Ostend for 3.5 months now and I’m
feeling defeated, completely out of whack. There is no work in this small
town! Unless, you are willing to work retail or do cleaning jobs. Not that
I look down on those… not in the slightest! I just know that it would
cause me to slide into a deep depression again. I need to have work that is
worthwhile and has added value…

I’m not connecting with people… This town is a bit of an elephant’s
graveyard, populated mainly by elderly people. Hence, there is no
motivation to change things… and when there is, there is opposition from
the municipality, who do their utmost to make this place as comfortable as
possible for aforementioned elderly and as unattractive as possible for the
younger generation. That’s why they all move away…

I thought I’d enjoy the peace and quiet, but I’m not! It reeks of death,

My brother has his family and job and is perfectly happy in his way of
life. It’s actually a joy to behold. They just bought a house and they’re
thinking of buying garages and renting them out as an easy investment with
high yields. I understand, but couldn’t possibly imagine being stuck in
that kind of life. They seem to be perfectly content with their lives,
although my brother did mention the other day that he doesn’t find
fulfillment in his job… that said, he accepts his present situation

I envy that… I wish I could be happy with a bog-standard, conventional
way of life. My reasoning, though, is as follows: these are not the “simple
things” in life, as my brother claims. As far as I can tell, he is enslaved
to a system, which forces everyone to spend their life in servitude. You do
work that offers no personal fulfillment. You’re part of a huge machine
that serves only itself, under the illusion that is doing good by providing
“work”. You are enslaved by a system that forces you to work your ass off,
in exchange for a measly wage that then immediately heads out the other
way, to pay bills and taxes, etc. Your work isn’t even benefiting anyone in
particular, except for that huge company that has “given you a chance” only
to enrich themselves even more… How can that be fulfilling? That is not
why we were set on this earth, is it? All of this begs the question as to
why I was set on this earth? Not to sit around getting worked up about the
status quo, I hope!? It seems like I should be doing something to change
that status quo!

I feel like I made the wrong decision, AGAIN, by deciding to move to
Ostend. I am increasingly plagued by a sense of dread… I don’t want to do
a “whatever job” just to pay the bills. I kind of like my apartment but I
feel anxious here… There are “antennae” on the roof of the building and
I’m convinced that the weird humming noise I constantly hear, is down to
the radiation they are emitting. It’s disrupting my sleep. I feel detached
from nature (despite the sea and the beach). In London, we had an allotment
(a plot of land in a community garden) and it was my life… I spent most
of my time there tending my vegetable garden. If anything… that was a
valuable lesson I learned by moving to London (of all places!): that I need
to be in close contact with nature!!
I feel like I should just pack up and leave… become a WWOOFER, go
volunteer somewhere… do something worthwhile…

Except… am I making the right decision? How do you make a living? Am I
also caught up in the same-ol’ same-ol’ pattern of trying to maintain a
grasp on the “future” (which, to all intents and purposes, doesn’t exist)?
A friend of mine is doing just that, but he has his property in Brussels,
which he will be renting out while he’s in Italy learning about
permaculture. When/if he decides to come back he will have money in the
bank! I know (from experience, mind you) that there is no point in
projecting into the future and yet, I get caught up in it every single
time. I don’t trust my gut instincts anymore… They change at the drop of
a hat… As much as I want to step out of this contrived society we live
in, I don’t trust my gut enough (it’s so fickle) to, once again, follow
what I’m feeling right now and just do it… It might, after all, be a
momentary thing… Following what I feel deep down inside has led me to
waste buckets of money, time and energy. For instance – and this is just
one of the obstacles – how do I get out of my rental agreement, which has
just started and is  meant to be an agreement for 3 years? If I break that
agreement, I have  to pay 3 months rent… I don’t have that kind of

I have always suffered from bouts of eczema and know that it’s mainly
related to my emotional state. Right now, it is about as bad as it has ever
been, which says one thing: I am on the wrong path… again…

Stuck, stuck, stuck… all tied up in knots… I am very conscious of the
situation in this world… I am feeling “the shift” like nobody’s
business…  I just don’t know how to step out and head in another
direction… I am 50… I am unsure… I am willing but don’t seem able…It is killing me…
Signed, Stuck.

Dear Stuck,

Wow. Sounds like you have 99 problems and calm ain’t one. A wise friend once told me (when I was feeling anxious. Maybe not as anxious as you, but close) that when you don’t know what to do, do nothing. He didn’t mean sit on the couch, drink cheap beer from Owl’s Liquor (really near my house) and watch Enlightened although that sounds 
great right now. He meant don’t make any grand decisions or sudden moves. Sounds like you’d be unsettled in London, Paris, or Espanola, New Mexico (near my town).

It was my birthday on Sunday, and I had over 400 pages of grading to do. Grading 400 pages of high school work would drive anyone insane. Believe. I was crawling out of my skin. But I plowed through, setting hourly goals, and taking breaks. Maybe I screamed some; my memory is foggy when it comes to outbursts. I suggest you give Ostend, 
which sounds lovely by the way, at least six months. Get a job that will pay your bills; tell yourself it’s only temporary, and continue to do your meditation. Try walking and lying meditation as well. Write in your journal (read Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down The Bones) and chill out. Tell yourself that you will not make any major decisions for six months. Stick to it. Don’t envy anyone else’s life. Don’t worry about the world; the world can take care of itself. Just take it day by day. And read some poetry. I recommend Matthew Dickman, Laura Kasischke, Dorianne Laux, and 
Tony Hoagland. Read it aloud. 

Good luck,

Rob Wilder

PS It’s not the antennae; it’s your state of mind, yo.

Robert Wilder is the author of two critically acclaimed books of essays: Tales FromThe Teachers’ Lounge and Daddy Needs a Drink, both optioned for television and film. He has published essays in NewsweekDetailsSalonParentingCreative NonfictionWorking Mother and elsewhere. He has been a commentator for NPR’sMorning EditionThe Madeleine Brand show, and On Point and other national and regional radio programs including the Daddy Needs a Drink Minute which airs weekly on KBAC FM. Wilder’s column, also titled “Daddy Needs A Drink,” is printed monthly in the Santa Fe Reporter. He was awarded the 2009 Innovations in Reading Prize by the National Book Foundation. Wilder has lived in Santa Fe, New Mexico, for the past twenty years.

Visit Robert Wilder on Facebook.


Please note: Advice given in Dear Life is not meant to take the place of therapy or any other professional advice. The opinions or views offered by columnists are not intended to treat or diagnose; nor are they meant to replace the treatment and care that you may be receiving from a licensed physician or mental health professional. Columnists acting on behalf of Dear Life are not responsible for the outcome or results of following their advice in any given situation.


Jennifer Pastiloff is a writer based in Los Angeles. She is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Jen will be leading a Retreat in Costa Rica at the end of March and her annual retreat to Tuscany is in July 2014. All retreats are a combo of yoga/writing and for ALL levels. Read this post to understand what a Manifestation retreat is. Check out her site for all retreat listings and workshops to attend one in a city near you. Jen and bestselling author Emily Rapp will be leading another writing retreat to Vermont in October

And So It Is, Guest Posts, Making Shit Happen, Manifestation Retreats

Are You Full Of Things That Aren’t Serving You?

January 13, 2014

One of the women from my last retreat wrote this, and, with permission, I am sharing. 

*                                                           *                                                      *

Okay, I am not a writer or a poet but I am compelled to put in writing the changes already taking place in my life not 48 hours after closing circle of Jen’s retreat. Going into the retreat this past week, I was stuck. Really, really stuck. Scared of connecting with anyone because I already felt completely depleted.

Isolation was the only thing that felt safe.

I found this retreat because I was looking for space to find my true authentic self again. Throughout the retreat thoughts, images, and a feeling of who I was “before”, started to emerge.

Jen’s words “begin again”. Jen asking “How will you serve?” Her words “what do you need to let go of?” These stuck in my mind and I found myself unable to sleep thinking about them.

Then Jen said something life changing thing for me, “You have to let go of things you don’t want to make space for what you do.” It clicked.

I was full of things I needed to let go of leaving no room for the things I wanted. I am kind of amazed her words stuck like they did considering at the time I was trying to keep up with the whole Vinyasa’ing thing. But I heard her and I watched others let go of their fear and then I felt myself begin to let go of my own.

I could then begin to hear what my heart had been saying all along, “I want connection”, “I want my purpose to be revealed to me”, “I want to use all of my gifts.” I hit Fawntice’s gong on the New Year’s Eve and sent it that sound, that vibration out -knowing opportunities for connection were all ready on their way.

Which brings me to yesterday morning….

Scouring Facebook for more photos from the retreat, missing my new friends already, I noticed a post on a local mom’s board from a 17 year old girl who is due to have a baby girl in 3 months.

She posted, asking for help. Clearly scared, with no job and only a few baby clothes. She was asking for any used baby items to help her prepare for the baby admitting she didn’t really even know what she needed. I smile a deep soul smile. Jen’s voice “how will you serve?” echoed. Not even 48 hours after the Manifestation Retreat and in front of me on the computer screen was an opportunity for connection.

Of course I could just donate baby things since I have a 6 month old baby girl. But I also have gifts. I am a trained birth and postpartum doula but I have never used the training.

I wrote her and offered all the baby essentials I have to give but I also offered support. I offered love and connection. She was thrilled and was willing to meet today. There are so many excuses I could have and would have given myself for not reaching out in this way, I am a recent single mother to 3 kids under 5, I don’t have business cards and should go to school and get more training first. More schooling and a complete website with business cards, tend to be my favorite excuses.

But reaching out is beginning again, it’s letting go of fear and it is one way I can serve someone else. So I did it.

Jen reaching out to me, and a room full of beautiful others inspired me to reach out.


I was going to end this here but what happened today at the meeting with the girl was so moving I have to share.

I spent an hour with her at a coffee shop just talking. It took an hour of letting her talk to get to her real problem. She doesn’t have a safe place to live and she doesn’t have enough food eat. It was midday and she had not had food since lunchtime the day before. I could tell she didn’t want me to know this. She went from being in AP classes, playing 3 sports, performing spoken word poetry and running girls empowerment workshops to doing independent study because she didn’t have enough money to take the bus to school and eat.

I started with getting her lunch and a bag of groceries. Next up: cooking classes and diaper changing 101 at my house. This girl was meant to be in my life. She’d realized we crossed paths at a bus stop 3 months ago and had a short conversation.

I didn’t need a website to connect with her and make a difference. I just had to let go of my shit and say yes.

Thank you Jen and each one of you for putting me in a place where I could open my heart to this girl. It is just a small thing, but it’s the beginning.

This is going to be a great year.


To learn more about retreats with Jen or to book one, click here.

Beating Fear with a Stick, Eating Disorders/Healing, healing

Bitch Slap It.

March 4, 2013

Dear Jen, I am coming to you for some major support right now. I know it may seem really unimportant and lame, but it’s weighing on me right now. When I had my first weird symptom in the summer I gained 10 lbs. They say I am retaining fluid. As of this week I gained another 10lbs. I got on the scale this morning and it read 150. Just a number I know, but full blown panic has set in. I was 129 lbs this time last year. So many things come up for me. I can’t stand my body. I don’t want to be seen or wear clothes. I feel right now like I AM MY BODY. I feel ashamed that I teach yoga and I am this big. I feel sad that I can’t lose weight and be the way outside that I feel on the inside. I know this conversation feels so dumb. Our friend’s baby just died, my son has PWS, a man just got swallowed up in a sinkhole in Florida, and yet I can’t stand the sight of myself. That is sad. How do I get past this? I am soul searching. I am reading books, writing, doing all the spiritual journey I can find. How can I learn to love myself at any weight? I feel ashamed right now, of my body and how I feel about myself. I have never shared this with but a few people before. I truly need support right now. I am on a journey to be a spiritual being and I AM STUCK! I need your help. xo, Stuck.

Unimportant and lame. That’s what you think you know and what we think we know is usually miniscule compared to what we really don’t know at all. Compared to what we actually know, what we don’t know is a towering lion.

What you don’t know is more important.

You think you know that this feeling of being ashamed is a petty and silly, possibly even irrelevant. That compared to some of the troubles in the world (so many troubles! So much sadness and death and dying and potholes!) that this, this stupid little thing isn’t even worth a thought. You can’t quantify sadness or grief or upset. You can’t say this is worse just because it is a more obvious “worse.” Although we try and do that all the time. I should be more grateful because the guy who lives next door to me is in a wheelchair. Comparing our problems or lack of problems and making ourselves wrong for feeling what we are feeling is a recipe for misery.

How do I know? I spent many years of my life telling myself I had no reason to be depressed and yet there I was at three in the afternoon, laying in my bed with the covers over my head and an ugly pair of pajama bottoms on. What you don’t know is this: you are not stuck.

A stuck thing couldn’t write this email asking for help. What you don’t know is this: your sharing this will help more people than you will probably be able to process because guess how many of us feel this way? A lot. I don’t know the exact number but it is a lot.

I have some questions for you though. You say you want to be the way outside that you feel on the inside? How do you feel on the inside? It seems to me, based on this email that you feel sort of shitty on the inside so the first thing is ABTTT. As I said in my essay yesterday, Always Be Telling The Truth. I think perhaps the real issue is on the inside not the outside.

I get it, I do. I have struggled with severe anorexia and body dysmorphia and all the rest. I still do at times. I sit writing and feel my belly hanging over my waistline and think how do I call myself a yogi, let alone a yoga teacher? I am a fraud. I am a fatass. Then I start writing and I get out of my own way. When I actually get up and away from the compter and do my own yoga practice or walk or whatever it may be, I feel even better. Even though my belly/waistline ratio is exactly the same, I somehow feel lighter and more grounded. I believe it’s called endorphins. We need them and as much as I prefer sitting (gasp!) and writing or reading, I must get off my ass and move. Not for any reason except that it keeps me feeling what I want to be feeling on the inside. And that is alive.

The other thing? It does matter. How we look often indicates how we feel and how we feel is important even though life often tries to tell us differently. By life I mean our family, peers, Facebook.

The catch is this: most of the time we can’t see ourselves clearly. We think we look fat or ugly or bad or this or that, and again, I must point out two things. One, what you don’t know (or can’t see) is greater than what you know, and two, ABTTT. Always be tellin’ the truth.

Are you telling the truth to yourself? Oftentimes we don’t want to admit that we look good or feel good because that would be admitting our happiness and we don’t deserve to be happy, do we?

Can I get a Hell Yes? Hell yes, you deserve to be happy.

We all do.

A few more things I’d like to point out since you asked. Can you give yourself some time away from the scale? I have written a lot about the fact that I can’t get on the scale still. That’s my own personal demon that I intend to face but what I am wondering is how much getting on the scale and seeing the numbers keeps you feeling stuck? I am not suggesting to live in denial but rather to give yourself some space from it so you can appreciate how you look without getting made wrong by some awful numbers.

How do I get past this? Listen, you don’t get past this. You are in it. You may be in it for the rest of your life. Who knows? I know it still comes up for me more than I care to admit. You have to learn how to be with it and waltz with it and eventually how to own it. It’s owning you now. It has your attention and your focus and you can’t really get anything done until you come to terms with the fact that you are letting this dominate your life. Why are you letting this dominate your life? I have no idea but I know why I let it dominate my life. I literally spent at least 15 years being bitch slapped by an eating disorder and self hatred until I took it by the balls and said I own you bitch.

You absolutely have to get crass with it and tell it who is who. You think you know. What you don’t know is this: it will listen to you eventually. You must do the work though.

It sounds like you are with your writing and reading and asking for help. You just have to tell it who’s boss. You have to admit you don’t know what you don’t know and start from there. You have to admit that you deserve to be happy. (We all do!) You have to ABTTT.

And then you have to do what may be the easiest or hardest part depending on your personality. Exercise, stay away from the scale, get out of your own head (bad bad neighborhood) and my own personal favorite, stop looking in the mirror so much. You may not do that but I do and it’s like falling down the rabbit hole and landing in a shitstorm of disapproval.

Asking for help is just about the best thing any of us can do. Most people don’t know this secret (so please pass it on if you would). What we think we know is usually miniscule compared to what we really don’t know at all and what we don’t know is how the world will open up and show us that we are held.

So when you say I am on a journey to be a spiritual being and I AM STUCK! I need your help I’d like to point out that the help has been granted. It’s right here. And here. And there.

Oh, and one more thing, you are already a spiritual being. You may have just forgotten. It happens to the best of us. You made it. You’ve arrived.


healing, loss, my book, Things I Have Lost Along The Way

Chicken Bones In The Throat.

November 9, 2012

The things that get lodged in us.

Those that need dislodging like a chicken bone in the throat.

How some things get stuck. And others, not so much. Other things in their own river-like way flow through us and by us and if it weren’t for a photograph we might forget them completely. (My 20’s! Certain men I’ve dated! 7th grade! Books I have loved and forgotten.)

Things that get stuck: certain sentences and the way someone looks at you, the beat of a song whose words have long since vanished, the way it felt to be young, how your father died.

Last night as I was working on my book I called my mom to ask her some questions about my dad and how he died. I wanted to know precisely the cause of death and which drugs he took and exactly how many cigarretes he smoked a day. I wanted the facts as if the facts can turn into something soft and malleable, as if they can change if you hear them enough. They do, don’t they?

I thought my dad died of a heart attack until one day when I was 13 my mom told me that he’d had a stroke. From 13 until last night I’d thought he’d had a stroke. My mom said last night that it was not a stroke at all. Oh, the confusion. How did he die, dammit? I need to know exactly what went down on that night in July, 1983.

So Mom says it was this mouthful of ugly words: Atherosclerotic Coronary Artery Disease.

Which is caused by blockages which can be caused by the unfathomable amount of cigarretes he smoked daily or the speed he took. Same thing Whitney Houston died of.

Then Mom tells me this bit of news which is now forever stuck and will not be dislodged. Ever. She told me that the hospital had told her he had vomited and choked on his own vomit and that was how he died. Offical autoposy said, however, Atherosclerotic Coronary Artery Disease.

I want to unhear this.

Is it possible to do this? I, of all people, should be entitled to this gift with my profound hearing loss. It must be how my friend Emily Rapp felt when the doctors told her that her son Ronan had Tay Sachs Disease and would die.

It’s a mistake! This shouldn’t be! This was an accident. This wasn’t any “meant to be” bulllshit yogis are so fond of saying. The way I see it, this was a f*ck up.

Just whose f*ck up, I am not sure, nor do I want to guess, but it was definitely some kind of mix-up. I mean, choking on vomit and dying? How can this be fair at all? One minute you are in your bed watching an episode of M*A*S*H on tv and the next your are drowing in your own bodily fluids? In what world can this happen?

How can death be that easy when life isn’t? 

To dislodge means to leave a place previously occupied. This is what happens with death.  (I imagine.) You dislodge yourself from your body. And that’s that. If it weren’t for the things that stuck, things like your smell, or rather the smell of an old leather wallet and how it has become your smell, and your sheep’s laugh, that high cackle and how it would run around the room before it landed back in your throat. Other things that stuck: the song You Are My Sunshine keeps you here, maybe not in body but certainly in heart because that’s where the pain is when the song is heard, no matter when or where. That rusty dagger is stuck in the heart since you used to sing that song every night, and maybe that isn’t a bad thing because certainly some things need to get stuck in us or we might forget who we were.

I asked my mom to send me an email with all the facts she could remember being that most of mine are old and broken down having been told so many times since I was eight years old that they lost their functionality sometime around 1990-91.

Another sentence that stuck:

He used up his body.

How can I make that sentence go away? What is behind the sentence is more what I want to go away and that is the reality that my father used up his body in a way that suggested that the novelty of it was over, that the use of it was no longer needed, that in essence it was worth nothing. That it was trash. What else do you think of when you hear those words, which are nothing short of true: he used up his body. Depleted. Bankrupt. Drained. Empty.

So things get stuck in me. Maybe because I am a little bit obsessive. But aren’t we all?

What gets stuck are the things that shock me back into breathing, that slap me in the face until I realize this fact: It could be me.

How easy it is to do really. To let yourself slip.

No, maybe you don’t smoke and maybe you don’t do any drugs but maybe you talk to yourself in such a way that it chips at you day after day until there is nothing left. Until you are used up.

Maybe the things that get stuck are there so we pay closer attention to the facts. Had my father, I doubt he would have killed himself. Oh, you think he didn’t kill himself in some way? Look closer.

I revise my earlier statement about wanting to dislodge these things. I will never be able to unstick these thing and that is fine. You want to know why? Because I am writing a book and my greatest wish is for at the very least a few things to be stuck so I can remember long enough to get them on paper.

Secondly: some things must always be stuck in me so I remember that I am not unfailing. As painful as some things are and as much as we want them to not have happened, they did. They will always have happened.

They existed somewhere in the world, in some space time continuum, and they are some small molecule of us, even if they happened to our ancestors before our birth. The way we react to the world is in drect relation to the stuck things within us.

The way we listen to a song. The way we fall in love. The way we look at our children. If we even have children.

All of it.

The stuck things make us who we are. They help us remember where we have been.

by Jenni Young of course