Blurred and Known chronicles a journey through the mind of a young boy who endures the obstacles, turmoil, and chaos of family violence and substance abuse. The story is told through self-discovery, deep contemplation, and reflections on the world and self-defining events. Follow along as he steps into the realities of the world while being thrown into a whirlwind of life lessons and human perseverance. Speaking from deep within his heart, this young boy observes his soul through each experience until reaching a breakthrough to overcome in adulthood.
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.37(d)|
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BLURRED AND KNOWNa journey through chaos
By Ryan R. F. Wilkinson
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2012 Ryan R. F. Wilkinson
All right reserved.
Are we given our smiles before we are born? Are they our shadows that follow, keeping our secrets? I have no place on earth like the one filled with peace in my own heart and mind. But I have to create this.
I don't remember being born. I remember nothing of it. As babies, we receive one thing constantly and immediately: love. As we get older, it gets complicated. Since I don't remember anything from infancy, I will fabricate it; I was happy, joyful, cranky, smelly, crying, hungry, ambitious, eager, curious, motivated, confident, loving, pure, safe, and full of life. My thoughts were new, and my thoughts were real. There were no tainted obstructions to adulterate my thoughts. For babies, nothing drives thoughts towards the sadness and pain that we all encounter later on in our lives.
My ears remained sharp to the sounds around me. My mouth exploded with sensation when I ate. My eyes took in the colours and objects I was encapsulated by, and saliva dripped from my lips. My fingers tingled when they touched whatever it was I touched. My sleep was sound, deep, and invigorating. My worries were none, and I knew nothing of the world's horrible things. My world was simply my world. It was beautiful. But my vision of the future was somewhat blurred. What wasn't so beautiful was the violence, chaos, and turmoil about to unfold before me.
I wondered. I continued to wonder and ponder. I felt pain, sadness, and loneliness early, wanting to understand the world with a profound appetite. I found peace in happy people. I gave everything I had into everything I did because I didn't think of consequence or failure. It was a constant awareness that helped me grow through the years. Antoine De Saint-Exupery said, "Grown-ups never understand anything for themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them." It took a particular wisdom stapled into the peripherals of my mind to understand that I was aware.
I reached out for a hug from my father. He hugged me back. I reached out for a hug from my grandmother. She hugged me back. What a simple gesture, I thought. It was effective and yet immensely rewarding on both ends.
I admired my older sister, and a few years later I would have a younger sister whom I also cherished. I started to take notice of other family members. Being five was interesting because I certainly found an awareness of life. It was a transition from being too young to comprehend, to a point when I was kicked in the face with the consciousness that life is happening around me. Things started to click. I began to wonder about the world. I asked my mother, "Does everyone have food?" She replied as if I had asked a silly question, "Yes, of course, Zechariah." I considered her answer but continued to wonder if it was really true. And of course, I would later realize that not everyone in the world eats every day. I formed my own opinions of my family, kids at school, and people in general. I took note of strangers. For adults, strangers go by so fast, but for children, strangers look at you with a smile. They pause, and take the time to wholeheartedly give energy and light. They smiled at me when I was young, but this seemed to fade as I got older, as if smiling could put you in prison. I have always felt warmth from people's friendliness, regardless if I knew them or not. When people were smiling around me, it put me in a different state of mind. It let me enjoy life without worry, angst, or fear. It helped open the door to letting me be me. Innocence emanates and surfaces when smiles are offered. What would life be like if we always smiled?
For some reason, we moved a lot, always settling in and then picking up over and over again. It felt like we were running all the time. Of course, at that age, I just followed along and didn't really have a choice in what happened. I remember lots of boxes packed high to the ceiling every time we moved.
My parents had divorced when I was two and remarried other partners when I was six. The way I was raised was not guided or instructed, but rather loose. This means that there was no strict structure in place helping to form who I should have become. Nor should there really be, but guidance would have been welcomed. "Mom, can I go down to the store to get some sports cards?" "Sure, don't be long," she said, even though the store was two blocks away and I was only six. It's amazing how times have changed over the years. I was given no instruction on how to be or on what to do with my life. Is there ever really instruction, for anyone? I had only the reality around me as I watched and soaked it all in. I learned by observation, and I failed through application most times. I eventually thought, of course, that I knew everything, but this would be curbed later in life by humiliation and reality. I learned from my parents, and they learned from their parents, and so on. At that age, we can't choose our surroundings; we only see and hear what is presented in front of us. That's where I eventually found a bit of madness. The madness was learned. I knew something was going on outside of my immediate world, and I knew that I was interested, curious, and in need of something more. I knew what I saw at times was not right.
With awareness, I've always agreed it's good to admit mistakes, and at times it's alright to hide the truth to protect your children. What isn't alright is to take away an environment that's conducive to a child reaching his potential. Sometimes I would notice people with a mentality built from walls. They would be closed off to the outside world and what was really going on around them. To have that mindset is to be behind a road block. Children, as we know, have an uncanny ability to develop and grow their minds at a fast rate. Imagine what we can learn from a child. We can learn as much from them as they can learn from others, if not more. Regardless of the age gap, imagine what we can take away from them every day if we open our minds. Imagine the exchange that could take place. Children look at the world through the eyes of original innocence. I was wise to it. Sometimes we don't see ourselves as individuals in tune with awareness, but as individuals in line with society, obsolete of original thought. But children are aware. Children are deep thinkers, who constantly grow through soaking in the elements around them. I was aware.
It was 9:09 on a Tuesday morning. My mother quietly walked over and sat down beside me on the couch. I was lying across two cushions and she sat at the end, lifted my feet, and put them back on top of her legs. I was not talking but staring at the television that was making noise with daytime game shows. "Zechariah, you need to eat breakfast; how about some eggs?" my mother whispered. I shook my head and started drifting to sleep. I was sick with the flu. It was day five. As my fever regressed, I had asked for some toast on day four, but that was all. It was a hard flu. I had watched enough television to sustain me for months. I looked up at my mother and asked, "Why are all these people pretending?" My mother looked at the television, then back at me, and told me it was all just for laughs anyway. I agreed that since they were all in a small box, they may have gone crazy. I chuckled at my thoughts and was aware of how silly and sick I was at the same time.
As much as I could recollect as a child, when I became an adult, memories of childhood surroundings became insurmountable, like short films constantly flashing before me. When they were bad short films, as time went on, I felt they should become photos stored in unopened photo albums. What if the movies kept playing over and over again in my mind? What if the movies were horror movies? What if I couldn't put them away forever?
My life bulb was shining bright early in my life. My eyes were opened as I saw dark places that had the possibility of being filled with fear. My awareness allowed me to understand my surroundings. I realized I could bring this awareness into everything I did and adapt to new surroundings. It eventually let me understand who I was, who I could become, and what I could do for others. When I was one with my surroundings and myself, I was aware.
I always wondered why my life unfolded the way it did. I thought about the people and events which had the most impact in my life. Was it really so hard to find someone who could show me the way, show me how I was supposed to act, feel, grow, and be? Struggle came when I had no one to guide me, no one to look at, and no one to help make me feel that everything would unfold as it should. I had no one to tell me that I would ultimately be safe. The struggle of finding the right path, of creating my own self, came at a price. Even more so, it took great effort to find my morals and ethics along the way. I can't help but think we are all connected, with our souls passing through each other and our minds locked in an unconscious state. Face it: we are all alike in some way. We are all one, though at times we are lost in a world of no one, wearing masks. Ethics were important to sustain my growth and form me into someone who was not alone.
It was another Tuesday morning around 8:09. My stepdad decided to take the training wheels off my bike. "Ready, Zechariah?" I nodded hard with a big smile on my face. He ran beside me as I pedaled and then he let go. My hands gripped the handle bars, my teeth clenched, and my little legs moved as fast as they could. The bike wobbled and I took a nasty spill. The training wheels went back on.
When I was six, my mother, sister, and I lived with my grandparents. The house was very warm and inviting. My grandparents were rich in their traditions. My grandfather was a well known painter. His art held such originality. With each passing year, his paintings resembled the growing maturation of his soul, and his journey poured out on the canvas. The colours gave glimpses into his love for life. His timeless art took me from as early as the forties to modern day. He also carved wood, although rarely. Through the years I tried my best to emulate his work, using vibrant colours, heart, history, and most of all, passion. For so many, art is a demonstration of love and life experience, and I was attempting to understand that. Above all my grandfather was one of the most inspirational men in my life. He knew what life was about, he laughed and smiled, worked hard, and provided for a family the way a man should. He was a man because he believed in himself. He had integrity as a father, a grandfather, a husband, and a friend. He was always smiling, no matter the situation.
My grandfather never got angry with me, except once. I was at their cottage pushing my little sister in a stroller very quickly along a gravel driveway. I flipped over her and landed on the back of the stroller, smashing her face into the gravel and knocking out a tooth. My grandfather ran over, helped us up, and was quick to ask, "What are you thinking? Why are you doing that with your sister?" This was the only time he ever raised his voice at me. I understood his point very clearly, and began to apply more logic to what I did.
My grandmother was always so caring and loving. She admired my grandfather, supported him in his life's passions, and they complimented each other perfectly. There was always adoration and admiration for each other sparkling in their eyes. I thought what they had was rare, and it turned out to be true.
I was fortunate to have two sets of grandparents whose lives reflected bravery, honour, and ethics. They were unique, caring, interested, warm, and always full of love. I formed a particular closeness to my grandfather on my mother's side, probably because I lived around them the most. He taught me the importance of ethics and how to use discipline to structure the way I lived. I paid close attention to my grandparents; they instilled my values.
My father's parents were similar to my mother's parents. As role models, they set examples that I could emulate, which were important in defining who I became. For my grandfather on my father's side, what stands out for me was his ability to learn and adapt. He was honest and dedicated to his family. He always knew how important ethics and morals were to a good life. I needed them to complete the structure that was vital to my existence. If I was to be happy, I needed a foundation to take me there. My father's mother was pure and kind, and I do not recall a time when she wasn't putting others first. Her spirit has always soared through me and her smile remains in my thoughts. In fact, both my grandmothers were remarkable women who stood beside their families and were honest, caring, and loyal to the ones they loved. I always felt I needed more people like them in my life.
One late night at my grandparents' house, my cousin and I were searching through the mountain of toys on my bedroom floor when she looked at me blankly. "Who is that?" she whispered. "Who is who?" I whispered back. She pointed at the window and I turned to look. In the window was a man's face. It was wrinkled and dark. The face looked like it had been carved from wood, old and aged, reminding me of an old soul holding on to what little life was left. The face had no emotion, nor did it move in any way. The face continued to look at us and we continued to look at it. It reminded me of an old Native Indian, lost in his journey, lost in the new era and struggling to find his way. I felt slightly scared, sad, and somewhat excited that this was happening. I was too young to really understand the 'spirituality' of the event. We didn't rush, but slowly went to find our grandparents. "There was a face in the window, a face in the window!" I said jumping up and down. My cousin piped in, "There was a man's face in the window!" while pointing to my room. They didn't seem impressed and just looked at us with puzzled expressions. My grandfather went to my room, took a quick peak and said, "See, no one is here but you two." Were we seeing things? Did the face in the window have meaning? Why did we both see it? It was years later that my cousin and I talked again about the face to get confirmation. We still wondered why it had been there, who he was, and what journey was unfolding for him. From a young age, my cousin was always a fun happy girl, full of laughter and inspiration. She was one of the most honest and pure hearted people I knew. It would have made no sense for her to be a story teller. We were still so young and pure when we saw the face; however, maybe our story was a bit much for our grandparents, and if it was too much for them, why would we tell anyone else?
One Sunday morning as I was riding my bike, the neighbours told me that my training wheels weren't even touching the road. So they convinced me to take them off. Actually, they took them off. Sure enough, when I got back on my bike, I rode without training wheels. I didn't need any assistance in helping me rush through the air and pedal freely on the road. I remember smiling from ear to ear until my mother came out and was upset at the neighbour kids. "Zechariah, what are you doing? Why did you take the wheels off? You could get hurt!" she yelled. Was she mad because she hadn't helped me, and had missed the moment? I looked at her and happily said, "But, Mom, I wanted to show you I could do it on my own." A slow mirroring smile began to stretch across her face. "I knew you could do it on your own, Zechariah!" she replied.
I knew I was beginning to ride life on my own. The ethics and values I had been forming were starting to roll. I looked down at my bike, proud and knowingly absent of training wheels, and then I looked over at the front window to see my grandmother smiling and waving. She was proud of me, and I was happy to see her face in the window.
Thinking deeply can really spin our minds. Our thoughts can lead us in multiple directions. Our thoughts can distort and blur reality. Our thoughts can bring demons if we let them. It's only when we have control over our thoughts that we can nurture them toward good or bad. It's really our own choosing. Otherwise there are other forces at work, coercing us in uncertain directions. Our past can become elastic, and distort and blur our reality. At times it can hold us back, cause tension, and add weight. It can paralyze us. We have the ability to bring foresight into our lives if we take the time to reflect on our past and propel clarity to our future. We have the ability to envision something real and we can achieve deep thoughts that slowly become our reality. Or, our minds can gradually become our prison.
I was walking down the street; it was dark, with the glaring wetness of newly dropped rain. As I turned the corner, I could see the department store, and people running. Screams filled the streets as I walked closer with a rising interest. I froze suddenly and just watched. I heard two gun shots, close. I have got to move, I thought to myself. "Zechariah, move!" For some reason, I ran toward the store, against the people running in the opposite direction. Then I saw him, the gunman, standing tall in the darkness. I could see the streetlight reflecting off his gun. I ran straight into the store, pretty sure the gunman saw me. Although he walked, and I ran, his walking speed was just as fast as my running speed. "Where to go? Where to go?" I repeatedly asked myself. I saw a circular rack of clothing out on the open floor. I jumped into the middle of it, and waited. The screams had diminished and I couldn't hear much of anything. There was so much silence after so much noise. Do I peek out? Do I get up? Then I felt something cold and metallic pressing against my head ... click. At 1:09 in the morning, I awoke. It wasn't real, but I would have this dream a number of times.
Excerpted from BLURRED AND KNOWN by Ryan R. F. Wilkinson Copyright © 2012 by Ryan R. F. Wilkinson. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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