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turnstile

All we are is the result of what we have thought

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My acne experience culminated into one moment. Mental anguish caused by physical appearance, devastating in mine but trivial in some peoples’ eyes, led me to the Golden Gate Bridge. Have you ever felt the steel railing, there at the Golden Gate Bridge, connecting San Francisco to Marin, Mill Valley, Navato and so on? I’ve never felt steel so cold…sending shivers through my body as I grasped it with two hands and lifted one foot, intent on jumping.

These marks on my face are indelibly mine. So is this cycle, so worn out and experienced that I can perceive it from any angle. This incessant ebb and flow which has directed the last 6 years of my life: mine. The expectations and hopes do not fall lightly unto you after everything is torn apart, yet again.

Either does the pain of hiding form everything you love. I have an insatiable curiosity in a perpetual battle with habitual and reclusive tendencies. I have a world I want to explore, learn from, experience, but for now I am seated, bashing my head against a bathroom wall. Have you ever felt the pain of hiding from everyone you love, who you would want nothing more than to be with forever, soaked in the enjoyment pervading every soul but yours? Excuses don’t always come so easily. No, not when you arrive home and hear the voices of friends, then slam the door shut and run back to your car and drive somewhere, anywhere, and return home 4 hours later. And if you think this experience can not destroy a life so thoroughly, so completely, consider this: 9 months ago I dropped out of college. I quit my band, who tours the US and Canada frequently, so my face would not show. I sold nearly every possession I once had and donated the money to charity in a search to add meaning to my life. I’ve moved three times because of it. I’ve shattered every friendship or connection I have ever had. I quit my job working with people who are actually disabled (mentally), and two other jobs as well. I just got an acceptance letter from a college I would want nothing more than to attend, but I would never be able to bring myself to go. All before the age of 20. The list is endless.

I’ve been told this is transitory. Some ephemeral event in a sequence of events which will eventually fade and be forgotten. My dermatologist told me that. He gave me a prescription to a powerful medication which side effects include depression and suicide for some. I tried to hide the irony when I realized the medication and the hope it fueled was the only thing keeping me alive. To him I say: How transitory is a face full of disfiguring scarring? I would have acne for 10 more years over this if it did not scar, as it never did before. I have exchanged one devastation for another, but this time it's permanent devastation.

And on top of this, I have hatred for myself when I realize my situation on a larger scale. Hunger? Homelessness? War, bloodshed, bitter poverty? How could I even justify my pain. Selfish excuse for a compassionate soul…you should jump.

You think: It is all mental. If I quell desire, that will do it. That is my panacea. All of this pain emanates from my desire to fit into some shallow and superficial bullshit western culture. No matter how detached you think you are from this shallow side of our culture, no matter how insubstantial and unimportant you realize it is, it is nearly impossible to elude it. You can pack your mind full of whatever non-conformist, individualistic ideals you want and you might nearly pull off some nonchalant facade. But you wont. Somewhere between the time you spent convincing yourself that the body is nothing more then a vehicle to experience life and the hours spent in the solitude of reality you will have wrecked yourself.

I try to think: wipe the dust from the fucking lamp and see where the glow originates. So I study up on Buddhism and Hinduism, as if I don’t always spend enough time with books, one thing to find solace in I suppose. I agree with almost every word. I am inordinately attached to my desires. If I liberated them I could liberate myself. Or to quote the first line of the Dhammapada “All we are is the result of what we have thought”. Which I know to be true, yet still can not follow.

But no matter how much positive, substantial and meaningful ideas I expose myself to, I can not escape. I still drive myself five hours to this bridge, intent on jumping. I’m suspended now…hanging in the grey of a weather heavy cloud. The sun breaking through and illuminating the outer edges is the only thing that convinced me otherwise. Walking away I remind myself that the film has other frames. Or it should. Is there ever a reason to prematurely press stop? When the tape is rolling, but the screen is paused?

And now I am lost again, hopelessly entangled in the vines of a mind which will torture me until I break.

I am not sure what led me to type this. Maybe I thought someone else might understand.

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Great write up, I know it's easy to say , but I feel your pain. If I could only count the number of nights I've sat down with clearasil on my face and a bottle of JW Black Label. Only to awaken in a drunken haze with an empty bottle and a new found solace, knowing that it then matched my soul. . Though the journey continues each new scar adding a new revolving thought and distancing myself from how I use to think. The small glimpse of how I use to think remains, which only brings frustation and disbelief on how I let this change my life. I, too am a praticing buddhist although i have distanced myself from his work lately I still find some comfort when I do read and hopefully you still do. Seriously, thank you for your post it very enlightening.

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I agree with cage, it's a fantastic write up. Prose. It's bueatiful.

Maybe the meaning isn't to be found in moving or stripping yourself of possessions, friends, even acne.

Maybe the meaning is to be found IN all of that.

I spent years trying out the idea of spiritual sucess through various forms of deprevatity. In the end, it just became an escape. I was too spiritual to deal with the "regular" world, you see. Too spiritual to be bothered with all of "that mundane" stuff.

In the end, it was the mundane that saved me. It was the job with the bills and the apartment with the dirty dishes and the fiance who snores that saved me. It was me realizing that perhaps the truth of letting go lies in accepting the fact that I am HUMAN - both flesh and soul. I had to learn to live in THIS WORLD, I had to learn to be a part of it - not float above it.

For many people, the awakening comes when they start to let go of the material, of the ego.

For me, it came when I realized that the material world and my ego are just as much a part of me as my soul.

And I hear you about the busy life. Before I reached the age of 22, I had lived in two psychiatric wards, three foster homes, a homeless shelter, my car. I had taken a cross country trip with a man in an RV I'd JUST met - I was supposed to be gone 3 months.

I was gone 2 years. I have tried Wicca, Christianity, New Age, Buddhism, all sorts of things. I was goth, I spent some time playing the part of a junkie, I later became quite wrapped up in the buiseness of various 12 step recovery programs....all of it, in the end, brought me to the mirror. To the face that has never changed despite everything it's been through.

That used to frighten me, the solidity of my own self. Now, it comforts me.

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A simply amazing piece of writing. Remember, be stubborn and don't let your face beat you. There is never any reason to press stop on the tape that is your life, whether it's paused or fast forwarding, because as you said there are plenty of frames left - more frames left than frames you've had already. Good luck with the accutane, it should clear you completely. Scars are treatable too, so don't think that your current face is unsalvagable either.

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I take it you've taken Accutane. What effect has it had for your acne?

Welcome to acne.org. This community has some of the smartest, funniest people I've known, and, more relevantly to you, represents the most experienced and knowledgeable cross-section of acne sufferers in any one place in the world, literally.

People here range from prom queens with their first ever pimple to people who have lived their whole lives with-- indeed tragically even attempted several times to commit suicide because of-- acne so disfiguringly severe and seemingly incurable as to confound even the best dermatologists.

So this is certainly a place where you can open your heart and seek support and advice without judgment.

I like books too, and I'd encourage you to enrich your scholarly solitude with one in particular: The Will To Believe, by philosopher William James.

In particular, his essay "Is Life Worth Living?"

"Be not afraid of life. Believe that life is worth living, and your belief will help create the fact. The 'scientific proof' that you are right may not be clear before the day of judgment (or some stage of being which that expression may serve to symbolize) is reached. But the faithful fighters of this hour, or the beings that then and there will represent them, may then turn to the faint-hearted, who here decline to go on, with words like those with which Henry IV greeted the tardy Crillon after a great victory had been gained: 'Hang yourself, brave Crillon! we fought at Arques, and you were not there.' "

And when times get truly intolerable, I always remember a strange friend of mine who once said, in his usually poltiically incorrect but amusing manner, "I could never understand why anyone would kill themselves. I mean, so what, your wife fucks off, you get caught with your pants down, you get fired for embezzling from third-world charity funds and you go to trial for pedophilia and you're a disgrace, then you lose both legs in a horrific accident. Maybe even all in one day. Why kill yourself? Think about it: YOU COULD SPEND THE REST OF YOUR LIFE JUST SITTING IN A ROOM WATCHING MOVIES AND EATING CHOCOLATE BARS. How bad would that be? Would you give up watching movies and eating chocolate for the rest of your life just so you could be dead? I don't think so."

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Has any of u tryed magic mushrooms? They open ur mind into ur deep semi councious u can learn alot from urself and figure out how to sort ur life out etc...

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I had a really bad trip the first time but the second was kind of cool. I think I would descibe it as the drug equivalent of Deepak Chopra. It DOES slow everything down and give you the look at yourself that is otherwise very difficult to attain at a 'normal level' of consciousness.

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C'mon turnstile. You need a friend cause you don't like yourself. People are what you need. There are millions of them out there, each with a TexasLoad of insecurities and ifIhadOnlys. Go out and find comfort in people. Not books or things or sayings.

You'll reflect on this essay one day and laugh at your own needless despair once you realize the best thing for you is a major dose of regular old common folk (there's lots of em) mixed with a regular old common lifestyle.

Good for what ails ya. Fuck the ance thing. We all know what you're talking about here. Let life surprise you.

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Drugs never did anything for me exept destroy me.

On the other hand, not everyone is an addict. I have met those who WERE able to have truly spiritual experiences while intoxicated.

To each thier own. BTW, Antony - I like that friend of yours. I have GOT to remember that!

Damnit, Cliff - you just said EXACTLY what I posted, only in simpler words! Damn you! tongue.gif

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