There was a moment in my life recently when I realized that my struggle was not one which could be conceived of as complete; my adventure not yet concluded. With great health comes a series of minor reevaluations and recalibrations that must accompany the growth of the spirit in all of its depth and immensity. I have evaluated my quest for bodily purity, and simply opted out. I broke my sobriety in December, and I broke my pledges much the same. My quest for pushing my health to new heights has finally reached the plateau, my future rests fully within my hands, and I am prepared to make it my own. The difference between physically-exclusive disciplines and the place at which I have arrived is not one of purity as I had so long presumed to think, but one of intentions and discipline. I am the same Gabe Poland, but now I understand the value of society for society’s sake – and approaching it with an embrace and a kiss on the cheek is far superior in its capacity to enrich than that of a curtsy. There is great passion in love of life, and there is much life to live. I now refuse to set any of it aside… Any. One. Thing. I will taste the entirety of the platter which society has prepared for me. I will live life like a lion in the wilderness, and love the world as a child in deference to its wonderment.
There was a point some time prior to New Years Eve, a point which boasted some sort of unfamiliar clarity which has since dispersed in the wind. This point was a reckoning. A piece of my future finding the roots of my recent past, and digging them up. I found myself at an impasse: do I continue on the same path of corporeal cleansing because this is what I have been doing, or move on from it? What I found was something like coming to the edge of the precipice, looking down, and wondering if we should jump. That which is static is a comfort, but my heart no longer marches alongside this drummer. I need something new, and I found myself still treating my body and mind as though they were the belongings of illness, and not the spirit. So I jumped.
An interesting thing happens when you take your spiritual introspection and direct it outward. You become open, and have one crucial and indispensable revelation: it was never about you at all. My life has been lived under the thatched roof of kindness and love for a long time now, but that roof leaks. There is a sweetened taste to that roof when you can patch it with something tangible. While I was sick, I was alone. The sicker I became, the more people began to leave my side; yet happiness did not elude me, and my understanding was alive and well. There is a reason for this, and it had nothing to do with finding myself. The critical apex of my spiritual growth came from the genesis of my love for the world that was not me. To know the self is to open up that path, surely; but to access true happiness, you must walk it.
It seems to me to be something like this: the human condition is such that we are something of a jigsaw puzzle. We are a perfect fit, but one piece remains elusive. Alas, this piece is missing in all of us. We begin to feel that the piece must exist within us, somewhere, and we look inward for definition. The borders of the puzzle have filled in, and the design is clear, but there is one piece missing…and it is a doorway. A gateway. The beauty of this is that you don’t have to fill it in with some predetermined source, but you get to craft this piece; to build it with your own hands and determine your own fate. Take the empty doorway, your threshold to the future, and fill it with faces – with love.
There was a very distinct moment when I fell ill that I knew I needed to find out who I was as a man, where I stood as a soul, and what my goal in this life truly was. So many hours spent with my pen as my sole guide through the darkness, yet only into the Inferno did my Virgil guide me. I spent great hours meditating on what I could become, and what might be missing for years; which predates the site, as well as my adulthood. What became clear to me at the apex was that this piece was not mine at all, there was nothing left inside. This piece belonged to the world that embraced and surrounded me.
I am loved and appreciated, but I found that this was not something which defined my happiness. Perhaps to be loved was my ultimate goal when I began this journey, but it was simply not the answer. To be loved, alone, is not enough to define the heart. You must find refuge in your own love: love of others, love of family, and love of loving. The output of my own heart was the genesis of the input as well, and through it I found solace. We are all – always – loved; but we find our lives lacking, nevertheless. Our magnificence fades only in the absence of our reciprocity, yet to love a world which we know not is the source of a true and honest happiness.
My stress was life itself at the beginning; a nascent quest to find the definition of my heart on precarious footing. My bills began to stagnate, unpaid, as I grew too ill to work and attend to them; the putrid odor of failure and regret permeating my heart. It was at this time that I knew what I needed was not a loan, or assistance; what I needed was to redefine the direction of my spirit – a renewal. I was terrified of the looming spectre of Death…at first. I was terrified, as well, that Death may actually come to me to extract its due penance from my wretched past. I would often wake up and cry, or simply stare with great emptiness into the dirtying glass of my windows; at a loss. I felt I was entitled to so much more. I felt that I had accomplished enough to be worth something. I was mistaken, and I approached it improperly. I was entitled to nothing, of course. I am not a good man, and I should consider myself vastly more fortunate than I truthfully do. Nor was I a good man then. When the world around us continues to pulse as does the beating heart – one man alone cannot demand remuneration for his accomplishments; for if he so demands, he has truthfully accomplished nothing. He has not grown in his spirit, he has not learned. And so stood I, naked, before God and sickness; to receive judgment.
At the end of it all, when the heat of this struggle came to its most embittered flourish, I found that love of others would echo within my heart. What made me relent in my obsessions, and the fear of that which consumes the fire within our hearts was the realization that at the climax of our struggles, it is the world around us which provides the greatest source of strength. So much of our heart and mind focuses on that which may destroy us that we cower in fear, and we forget to pay homage to that which will bring us to life.
Within the borders of the jigsaw that is our spirit, there is a missing piece for absentee friends, and absentee family. There is a missing piece for sickness long passed us, and a missing piece for thousands of dollars of unpaid debt kicking down our doors. But this does not define us, because the doorways are ours to fill as we please. To those of you on your journey of the spirit, and traveling the winding path through the forest of self-discovery: replace those doors with faces, my friends; and may your love of the world beckon the crescendo of your spirit’s symphonic obeisance to your heart.
And so it was that which drove me to become what I wanted to become – who I wanted to be – was my love of others, and my love of everything that is. To be loved is always something we take for granted, but is essential to our being. Cherish always those who love you, and never let them forget that they are appreciated. Yet, in the absence of being loved, there is fulfillment in our own hearts. To love gives me an essential purpose that being loved cannot. When we love something – anything – we pack its essence deep within us, and it colors who we are. But, because loving is self-determined, we can choose who we are at our discretion. Even though it is possible to turn these lights on or off at will, what remains critical to me is the fact that I made the decision to renew at a very specific moment in my life; for a very specific reason. From that moment on, I was in control of my own destiny because I chose to love before anything else.
Our innate capacity to change this world is something at which we can truly marvel. One should never try to find the self internally, for we will not be there. Search not for the self within the self. No one soul among us could succeed in this task. We forget so easily that in such a case, the person we are searching for is a person who is searching; that is who we are at the time we embark on our internal journey, a person searching. The person which we are at the time we venture out on this endeavor is going to be forever lost, yet searching always. Look outward, eternally. It is much like being lost in a large place; an amusement park. If both of the people looking for each other are wandering through the throngs of people, guessing and searching desperately, they will forever be seeking the other in the masses. Neither must your search and your self unite in their questing. One must stand firm – as a rock – until your heart ascends.
It is a treacherous task to find the self without knowing the extent of your heart; for it is the fire that burns within each of us that might light our way on this journey. Humanity is a community, as one; and so, we can be at one with this community. Alas, our selfish journey is one which might beckon the light, yet allow it to ever shine elsewhere. And, lo, we shall lose our way; and our Virgil is as so much dust. You see, it is the world we must find, not our self – for we have been here the entire time.
It is the little things, my loves. The little things which light me upon my quest and path. The smallest things can bring me from the brink of desperation and stultification – the smallest fire can set me ablaze…bring me back to life. My heart opens because something stands firm as a beacon, and within its beauty do I bathe. A single flake of the purest snow, the spirit of a kindred heart, the soft setting sun, the golden wheat of the autumnal harvests; or perhaps simply the portrait of love painted by the distant futures and admiration alone. And so, because I know in my heart that the world, in all of its magnificence – with all of its loving, warm smiles – is as one. Because I have come to learn this, I know in my heart and in my soul that I can rediscover my heart each and every day. As the sun rises, so does it set with nobility and love. I offer a world my entire self, and I have learned that the most important thing in my life has nothing to do with my offering at all. The most determinative factor in the exultation of my spirit is through the hearts of those I love – and not my own. I have a heart waiting to beat for anything – something – anyone…always. But that heart knows that the self is an external force, and that the definition of its solace was the recognition of the love of a world which once could help not that it passed me by.
I am here now. I will not be leaving any time soon. And I alive. I am lost, yet found so easily through this world in which I fly through. The street lights a blur, and the shining of the glorious stars shifting in proximity. My self is discovered through infatuation of life itself. Life. Love of life and love of others. I love my parents, for they are my heart. I love my friends, for they are my spirit. I love my acquaintances, for they are my causation. And to those whom I know not, I love thee with great love – for it is you who give me possibilities. Know thyself, for through the world may you change the heart of that within which you live.
I could never have a portal into the struggle of my readers, but I can assure that I will offer great love to anonymous faces throughout this world. I understand that my demographic is unknown to me, but that we are all on some search for the meaning of that with which we should happen to define our future selves. There is something great in the conquest of the self, but something greater in the conquest of the definition of that self through love alone. You can find yourself in this world as a mere person amongst the throngs of the plethora – yet love yourself through the recognition that your love of those within your grasp are those within your heart. Love need not be romantic, it need only be the answer to your emptiness. So often in the CF community do we contemplate our worth by the calculation of our symmetry to the normality of those who walk amongst us without a cough or a strain, but I warn you of this: we are unique. We have the blessing of power; the power to fight – and the power to win.
Kindness is the vehicle by which we may express our love, and we must always consider the benefit of the perpetuity of this kindness on those amongst which we revel and live. I found this homeless man in a city somewhere south of Findlay, standing on a corner with a filthy, black gym bag. The bag had nothing in it, which you could tell by the way it collapsed when he picked it up. Yet, doubtless, there was one thing in there which he held precious. It is a symbol for those of us with such great fortune; a symbol of how much we have that he did not. A state of being, such that we could fill an entire gym bag and say to ourselves: “I feel as though these are not all of my things!” Yet he would say: “I am fortunate to simply have this bag!” I bought this man lunch and coffee, and asked only his name. But his surprise should be a warning to us. We must open our hearts to everyone, and not simply our self. We must love universally, and live with compassion. No one man should be surprised at our kindnesses…he should be able to expect them.
Our battle of perspective is a difficult one, yet symbolic of our task at hand as to the extent of our kindness and the exultation with which we express to the world our gratitude. Yet, alas, there is great kindness within each of us; and from this kindness may we find a river of happiness flowing eternally. The waters crisp, the temperature warm enough so that the world may find comfort within. The stream calms as we flow down it, for the rapids are subject to naught but the love in our hearts – and yet they may be subjugated by the kindness which we project. The world is not our oyster, but it is – indeed – our definition.
Wheresoever we should happen to find ourselves, we often seem to want to find this thing. This spectacular revelation and epiphany within the borders of our jigsaw. The missing piece…the doorway. We require of ourselves the foundation of that doorway’s boundaries and seek the insight of its missing piece before we will allow ourselves to seek the soul we have waiting within. I have cast my oars upon the shallows and depths of this river – albeit in a different boat, as always. We will ever find ourselves saying we must complete this journey alone, to find our missing piece in isolation. But here I stand, arms outstretched…beseeching you to look outward. You need not have CF, and you need not be ill – you simply need have a journey. I encourage you to love this world for all its faults and glories, for its beauty and corruption…for its magnificence alone.
I come before you on bended knee. Without demand of reciprocity, and without expectations, calculations, or loaded sentiments. I come before you to plead that you love this life for life alone – for one reason – because I have learned first hand the cost of sitting on your heart only due to the fact that you lack the courage to act. To speak; to scream at the precipice – “I will take your stars, and your faults. I will take your love, and your loss. I will love Life, and all that Is.” There is no way for me to know the struggle of the soul of another, but I do know that – no matter who you are – this world needs you with great urgency. You, my dear reader, shine a bright light into this world, and a I believe that we will all feel the pulse of your revelation.
Sobriety, celibacy, and frequent meditation were essential parts of the makeup of who I have become. Yet, at the end of the battle with Death himself, I have realized that they were naught but disciplines in a complexity which I cannot comprehend with coherence or clarity. Two years alone in a sickroom, dying alone and without recourse, I realized one thing – it is not what we do, but it is the world outside of us which composes the breadth and magnitude of our hearts…the voluminous chapters which our love may write when the world comes down to necessity or failure. In the end it is not our discipline which completes us. Our disciplines and meditations are naught but guideposts along the island of our internal Purgatory. We will find nothing here, except the gateway to that which may offer us Heaven’s ascendance…but only the gateway.
Live your life passionately, and pursue your arts. Live your life in a constant state of wonderment, pursue your love and astonishment. Pursue beauty, and live your life with love. Pursue your disciplines, and live your life with strength. But please, for my love of my readers and my love of this wonderful world – please – pursue your life with a fire blazing in your heart, and love always.
To those whom I know, I thank you for impacting me in a positive way. Your kindness has changed who I am, and I pray only that before I have gone from it that I may change this world with great conviction. Perhaps this post is a misguided attempt to return the favor of the love you have shown me, for it is this which has awoken my heart and soul. Perhaps it is the honest intention of my heart. With or without guidance, you will amaze this world – I believe that with my whole heart, whomsoever you may be. I will always be here, writing of my journey – health or rejection. I can promise one thing. That all good and bad things will come…and pass. But, nevertheless, we are all capable of something amazing. Your strength will guide the fire in your heart, and you only need access it. When you are ready to shine, the world will know. But, SHINE. For you, my friends, I pray that you may find your missing piece. May you find it! Through love of the world may we all define our hearts. And through it all, I say “thank you”…and I send my heart to the entire world. People are my strength, and the world…that is my heart.