Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Escape Into Chris - Entry 10

Sketch by Chris Al-Aswad

March 2005 – Normal, IL

"How do I trust or learn to trust? How do I place faith in simply being myself and not strive so hard to be the world’s next great author? When if ever will I be able to not think about writing. My consciousness, dominated by a few ideas branching off from one main purpose – I must be a great writer. If I was only a writer, then I could take my time. But I’m constantly reminded of the clock. And it removes me from the experience of life itself. I would like to see my writing become something – I would like to let go also. My mind is obsessed. Can it become un-obsessed when I feed that obsession every day, nearly every minute. What is that vital fluid that circulates my veins like hot lava? Will I ever know that the same substance – in the end – will kill me? Like my mother whose spark was too intense, I see her – in me."


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Escape Into Chris - Entry 9

Sketch by Chris Al-Aswad

April 2009 – Normal, IL

All is incomplete
Can you handle
a work in progress
Can you handle
unfinished symphonies

The moments of perfection
of completion
like finished work
that you set your gaze upon

When I stop to think about
the shuffle and
that John Lennon song
pops into my head
the one about the wheels
it occurs to me that all we have
and all we’ll ever have
is unfinished work

I guess the realization comes
when you realize you’re not headed
to some moment of perfect
but just another
moment of unfinished
incomplete work

It was a dream I had
before I went to bed
I said ‘Dad-
both of us were in the car
on a strip of the highway
Both of us stared into the
light on the road ahead

What – my dad answered
Is it always like this -
I mean do you ever get
to the end of the road

That’s when the desert appeared
in and out of the shadows-
and cacti made faces

Your work is never done
and the road never ends he said-
Then are we lost I wanted to know-
No, we’re not lost, we’re just driving

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Escape Into Chris - Entry 8

Sketch by Chris Al-Aswad

March 2005 – Normal, IL

“…Greatness is not assumed, it is earned and I have not earned it yet. These are just my thoughts, they are not public displays of art. Why to write art you need a form, like a poem or a short story, or a novel. Those are the buildings. But a journal, a journal is not timeless, it is transitory, fleeting like butterfly wings. One flap, and they’re gone. We so want to assert our spirits upon this earth. My mother, why hers casts a light across the family, her artwork, a colorful mural once foregrounded, now subtle, behind us. Where will her son come out? There needs to be industry. What will I produce, just these 25 year old thoughts? Language must be handled deftly, it must be learned from masters. This is not a vacation here on earth. We are expected to leave legacies for our children and if our children were never born, those who we love instead, but build we must. We must express the unexpressed, the eternal must seep through the words. And silence must fill our ears with images so resolute that we shy aware from their gaze. Our discussion is only with ourselves, we are forever talking back into our womb until our mother hears us calling back into her. We must warn our families, tell them to stop before they begin. These creatures have spirits. these animals have real hearts. We’re alive and song pours out of us. We’re so much of life we cannot hide from our own enormousness, impossible faith, beyond beyond…”


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Escape Into Chris - Entry 7

Sketch by Chris Al-Aswad

February 2007 – Normal, IL

“…My mind is a temple of illusion and I am a false god. True, there is something pure and positive in me but it is hidden so deep, under all the layers of illusion. I seem to know my soul exists but I am constantly running from that source. Instead, I obsess over personal problems and my mind resorts to fantasy – to lusts or material desires. The Buddhists are right about one thing – that we can’t trust the mind. The mind is not to be trusted. And yet I listen to the thoughts that run through my head and quickly, I get caught up in my old ways – nervousness, busyness, impatience – never resting in the moment, always rustling. I try to practice awareness but my awareness is not genuine because simultaneously I am giving in to the pleasures of the ego of lusting, of wanting, of fantasizing. I can not be aware without gravitation toward illusion and then my mind becomes more charged with anxiety because now I am self conscious.
The ego has a plan for me everyday. Will I follow it? I usually do – that plan leaves me with little satisfaction and more desire. My desires have many faces but the general urge is to have something else to change how I feel by possessing something.
What is wrong with how I feel? I feel like time is running out. I feel the need to perform. I feel the pressure to maintain an illusion.
My life is mostly an illusion with a grain of the truth. The paradox is that my illusions teach me to become wise. We cannot be led directly to the source, the source is too powerful. We must go by indirection – mistake after mistake we learn to take another route. Once I thought I knew what I wanted. Now I see that I want everything and none of it will help me change the way I feel.
I feel the burden of living. The flux, the rise and fall of hopes, the patience involved. Where am I moving toward? Not more illusion but less – I am moving toward the light. These illusions will not save me more. I am not who I thought I was - my talents, my security, my good sense is not what I thought it was. I must tell myself Chris, you are not so wise. Your life is little more than a petty day dream. Wake up. These illusions you drown yourself in – do not trust them – do not trust your mind.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Escape Into Chris - Entry 6

Sketch by Chris Al-Aswad

Poems to my mother

We had fun didn’t we – on earth
We laughed, our laughing
released us from the pain
of circumstance.

We couldn’t adequately explain
or escape but like now
there are these nether worlds
right above or beyond – the
colliding particles of everyone else.

What I’m saying is that there’s
always a space to build a
sanctuary -

No space is too small -
your laughter filled those rooms
my laughter was the sky blue lining of yours -
enspiraled in one another.

hard to explain things now -
there has obviously been
a change

me here

you there

or here
i’m not able to give
the right word for every

but i know this world is where
i’d rather be

opposed to the world on the other
side of this thin wall of
air? clouds? membrance of
something -

there are default worlds -
default worlds of pain – of
hunger – of void -

And i’d rather be in this
bright world of you -
of miracles dancing

I belong here. don’t i mother
with you. or not?

Are we really in two separate places?

i laugh when i think of all people i project my feelings onto -

when it’s so much better -
to relieve these minor deities

And talk to the source -

talk to the source – All these
bright stars – these individuals
web of stars – i’d talk to them
all – i’d memorize each one
of their stories – but

the door – the big door

is open. why make cold calls

to darkness – when angels

welcome you into light -

go ahead, fall back if you have to

it’s only natural – gravity pulls
you down – everyone has to
deal with that -

Then go – let yourself go – Rise
like nothing – like everything
without weight -

this life it fades out -

watch with me

i disappear


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Escape Into Chris - Entry 5

Sketch by Chris Al-Aswad

March 2005, Normal IL

“…We exist outside our conversations, with ourselves and with others, we are part of the silent nature of things. When we are confined to our thoughts, we look remotely out from the lighthouse of consciousness to the silent order of things. We move deeper into the sea of the body, the tide of the senses. We begin to taste reality. The unconsciousness formless realm has no preexisting shape or destiny but erupts spontaneously in unpredictable manifestations that can hardly be expected. Control is an illusion. By my fear, I am trying to control the silent order of things. It is a reaction to feeling separate, divided from nature. As I learn to objectify my mind and not allow the mind authority over me, I move closer into the realm of the unconsciousness. The silent nature of the universe brings life and death. Life and death cannot be escaped. By retreating into the stories of the mind, I am not avoiding death and I am not controlling it. Death happens and it will happen in various unforeseen manifestations. The silence is enlightenment, the silence is awakening.”

Monday, March 7, 2011

Escape Into Chris - Entry 4

Sketch by Chris Al-Aswad

March 2005 – Normal, IL

"…After the meeting, I went to Chestnut, which is an adolescent facility for addicts and sometimes I go there to help out and be of service. Every time I go there I am reminded of all the institutions I was put in and locked in and remember how horribly I treated the staff members who were trying to help me –who was i back then, something of the devil – my idea of myself outgrew the person and I was acting out a tragic role, a villainous cantankerous youth — who was I, all I can think is that I was lost, lost and the only way to know I was real was to stand out and gather attention, to draw the light on me at all costs…

…As I listened to to the adolescents, there was peace in my heart. I felt a well of silence in me and no strong emotions were pulling me one way or another – I was aware and listening deeply to every adolescent who had something to share. They were confused. How could you forgive someone who is unwilling to forgive you? They struggled with this because although they understood that it was the right thing to do, they explained how hard it was and how they refused to do it. I could see these adolescents were unlike me when I was their age – they wanted to get better. And they understood things that I didn’t understand at their age – they spoke of consequences and the law of cause and effect. They understood that no act goes unpunished. I meditated upon what they had to say and when there was a moment when nobody spoke I offered to say a few words. First I talked about how I had treated the staff members at Northwestern Hospital – how I spit in the faces of people who were trying to help me and my father who was trying to help me the most, I spit in his face too – he was the epitome of evil, the supreme justification of my drug addiction, he was the reason for my failure and I told the adolescents how my life was like a Greek tragedy and I was the ultimate victim at the center of it, the wronged Hamlet — After the meeting one of the adolescents who was sitting next to me said he had a question for me, I could see that he was nervous. This youth had acne all over the sides of his face and you could see a heavy burden of anxiety and confusion mixed with fear on his brow. He said he’s been looking for a sponsor for three months and he hadn’t found one. He was wondering if I would sponsor him – this struck me – that for the first time in my recovery there was actually someone coming for my help, asking for my help – two human beings created with the possibility of helping one another. As if in God’s divine creation I could see the pieces fit, how two humans mutually benefited each other. It amazed me, someone asking for my guidance, a flood of joy was rising in me but I stayed calm and told him of course I would help."

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Escape Into Chris - Entry 3

Drawing by Chris Al-Aswad

Spring 2007, Normal IL

“…The woman you love, her actions and behaviors toward you, her words, that is the balm for your soul. She is there to validate you, to reveal to you your utter worthiness. God has made it so without her, you may have never known. The inner lack is filled by love and she loves you – constantly so your inner lack may be filled again and again and so that you will know that there is nothing you need to do to be yourself. But once you deeply realize this, then you can accomplish anything and you will accomplish your desires and dreams freely without the whip of your inadequate thoughts. Because you will know that you are complete within and without…

…She validates me, I feel complete. I feel adequate, something I never felt before. I don’t feel as though I’m unique and that doesn’t bother me either. I’m like every other human being. My feelings and experiences are not much different. My ambitions, my striving. Also, I get to take another look at how I structure my life around feelings of inadequacy. How I have to prove something to the world that I’m intelligent, that I’m artistic, that I’m different. But I’m really not. And who I am is wonderful, the way I am. I don’t need to accomplish anything to be myself….

…The goal is not to stop working. The goal is to work but not be attracted to your work. My work is my writing but my writing, good or bad is not me. I am much greater than anything I can create. My mind, my heart, my soul – masterpieces already written, works of art already created. The beauty of creation is that the work is me. I am the work. Any part of the work I can reveal is truly great but it does not replace the source and the hand that made it
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