All posts by blairpatrickschuyler

Writer, Editor, Proofreader, Memoirist, Actor, Poet

Get the Motor Running

There are few things in life more propulsive than a powerful internal engine. Those who possess an inherent ability to run in the red at all times can manage infinite checklists, juggle limitless balls of obligation, and spin more appointment plates than the average “avoid friction at any cost” modern human. They are the first in line and the last to leave, having apparently, inexplicably inked a deal with the devil to require less sleep than a roaming elephant.

But instead of lamenting a lack of that wild-eyed Tom Cruise caffeine by resorting to self-caning or drowning in feelings of unyielding inadequacy, it’s important to remember that we all shimmy and shake to the sound of our own drummer…even if he’s keeping it slow and steady at 45 bpm.

The key is time management and a focus on achievable goals. No one likes to be buried beneath the mud of self-imposed demands. There’s no oxygen, and at a certain depth, the stains become impossible to remove.

Sometimes the hare spins in circles, while the tortoise takes care of the details. We all have our roles to play at a pace that works for our wiring. The dissimilarities and peculiarities of our species are what keep the soup spicy. I’ve been called “crazy,” “weird,” “unorthodox,” “strange,” or “perplexing” more than once. But I stopped trying to squeeze into the wrong shoe size a long time ago.

Accepting the tag instead of tearing it from the seams has generally limited holes on the collar.

If your engine is turbocharged, enjoy the speed. But if you need some time to get lost in the weeds by seeing where the winding roads of your brain will lead, embrace the room to wander and roam.

You’ll rarely regret the detour.

Adolescence Interrupted

Around the Next Corner

The most unexpected twists and turns of life arrive with the surprise of a shotgun blast. But the persistent pace of the ever-chasing tortoise is what ultimately helps dry the wet concrete of the foundation beneath our feet.

This very human inability to predict the future is what keeps us driving toward the possibility of a fresh start with every sunrise. If we were to possess a thorough comprehension of our trajectories, that inherent knowledge alone would influence the outcome of decisions and choices we didn’t even know we were making.

So we’re left to wander through these incredibly short lives blindfolded, with arms outstretched and fingers splayed, searching for the grasp of something solid to help steady the spin. Day after day, we turn blank pages in a book waiting to be written, occasionally penning a line or two before we lose the light.

But consistent tenacity is the key. Sometimes simply staying in the game is enough to claim victory. We are not able to forecast the arrival of a rainbow after the rain. So the opportunity to write a new chapter might surface far later than expected.

It would have been inconceivable to envision this beautifully balanced Sunshine State existence while I was in the excruciatingly painful throes of those LA migraines. I spent countless nights searching in vain for any semblance of a glimmer in those infinitely, frightfully dark tunnels.

We can’t see what’s waiting just around the next corner.

The hopeless global desperation experienced by millions of people during this pandemic is further evidence of our supremely frustrating lack of clairvoyance.

It may not have slowed the spread or saved the dying, but a kernel of hope that help was on the way could have delivered the most basic and most lacking resource…perspective.

There’s a reason our planet swims to the current of a constant clock. We like to mark our starts and stops.

Take that away and the blindfold gets a little tighter.

Adolescence Interrupted

Delay the Blame

“There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”  —LC

Leonard Cohen was right. But maybe that’s how the truth sneaks in as well. In an age of finger-pointing panic, saddling innocent necks with a concocted albatross feels like an exercise in sweaty futility.

Punching someone else in the mouth to alleviate your own toothache is psychotically pointless, and we are witnessing a disturbing cycle of dangerously misplaced condemnations in the form of false attributions.

Clean hands are too often tarnished and soiled by the stream of mud and muck spewed from the mouths of rabid believers desperate for vengeance. Idiots search for scapegoats in a world that has turned its back on their illogical ignorance, and they’re running out of easy targets.

Unforgivable violence as an outlet for the bottled frustration, isolation, and loss that have permeated the population is not going to stop the spread, clear the lungs, or bring back the dead. Sidewalk assaults, venomous threats, and racial slurs only fuel internal fires. So maybe it’s time to spin that mirror and explore some page-turning solutions—as opposed to bullet-spitting blame without scientific proof or justification.

The sneaky little secret that no one likes to share is that it’s not about race. It’s about disgusting food manufacturing and the ugly, unquenchable consumption of innocent, sentient beings. As long as we continue the barbaric practice of wet markets and turn a blind eye to the perilous commingling of humans and animals, we are at constant risk of viral outbreaks.

That’s a much longer discussion, best suited for another post.

But if we don’t take a drastic collective turn as a people and a planet, I recommend we start seeing this pandemic as simply one in a line, not one in a million. 

Adolescence Interrupted

A Panglossian Perspective

“Your end can be greater than your beginning: butterflies are the greatest proof of this.” —Matshona Dhliwayo

The thaw on the heels of a freeze. A rainbow following a storm. Resets and restarts. There is a beauty and certain merit in the gift of a new beginning.

Cleaning slates can achieve more than neat stockpiles of dust generated by rote eraser smashing. For all the effort involved in the grind, the result is a smooth, sharp edge. As our eyes start to squint from the glare of an unfamiliar sun, there’s a chance to see what’s changed while we were away.

With a significant (albeit temporary) reduction in carbon emissions, the planet was able to take a deep collective breath, without choking on the exhaust from a billion daily tailpipes slingshotting between home and work. The solution? Home=work…and it’s not that tough.

A nonsense-free workspace shone a spotlight on the delays and distractions inherent in an office setting. It’s impressive what people can accomplish when left alone to focus on a task. Increased opportunities for mindfulness, meditation, and achieving a better work-life balance replaced idling on a gridlocked freeway, wondering what happened to an already-tenuous grip on sanity.

But the most obvious gift we’ve been granted in this past pandemic year is the smack in the teeth of perspective. What matters and what doesn’t? The global population was left to ponder which relationships were worth preserving, which hobbies and activities warranted the necessary time commitment, and how to best live life on a loop.

Introverts soared, propelled by lighter wings and limitless air, while extroverts crashed under the burden of unattainable energy reserves, held just out of reach by isolated friends behind social prison bars.

Those who craved connection were glued to substandard Zoom chats and a perpetual battle against the glitch. The best-laid intentions for daily commiseration sessions soon became weekly, monthly, and then nonexistent.

But using the sting and pain of the present as brick and mortar for better days, we can stack the necessary blocks to avoid building a road to repetition. Lessons are only valuable when learned, and this is a prime opportunity to put into practice some real, tangible change.

The list of what’s on that docket is a volume too extensive to tackle in this condensed format, but the opportunity for metamorphosis has presented itself, here and now.

Static caterpillar or unbound butterfly? Choose wisely.

Adolescence Interrupted

Groaning Pains

For years, I felt a mounting, suffocating disillusionment with the future direction of this country and the transparent apathy that seemed to only fuel a fire of hatred and inequality. Trapped in a plummeting elevator—destined to crash without an emergency brake—we stood stuck in some debilitating glue of inaction, waiting for someone to pull it.

Maybe it took thousands of deaths a day for us to realize that something had to change. Maybe the volatility of our quotidian safety or the cognizance that the greatest country on the planet was nothing but a fallacy built on tired, outdated notions of some unattainable dream was enough to snap us out of our opiate-induced haze and finally feel some pain. Maybe we simply grew tired of watching facts wobble and shake, forced to stand on cracked foundations in desperate need of some concrete. Or maybe being forced to wear the pawn’s high-collared uniform, made of aging wool, too brutally tested our tolerance for the itch.

As a self-described radical Socialist who thinks even Bernie is too far to the right, I had hoped we were ready to hit some detonators on this broken system and start fresh in every facet. But I’m willing to accept progress over regression, in any form I can get it. 

We have a population tattered, torn, and divided. Those wounds (imaginary or real) are not healed overnight. Anger and pain will persistently propel action. Information will be relentlessly manipulated and propagated.

There are always winners. There are certainly always losers. But I will continue to adamantly support whatever ultimately benefits the greater good.

When eggs are sacrificed for omelets, there’s no use spending time lamenting the splintered shells.

Adolescence Interrupted

 

Parting clouds

Riding a bandwagon in the backseat of the planet’s most unoriginal thought, let me be the millionth person to comment about the rigor and emotional discomfort of the past twelve months. Guess what, everyone? Things were a bit difficult last year.

But, for the first time in a deep stretch, I see a future lined with silver optimism and some serious potential for the globe to recognize lessons learned from reaching out for a hot stove, simply to see what happens.

If our collective crispy singed digits weren’t enough of a system shock to take a different course of action, it seems we are drowning in a sea of punishment gluttons who relish the disruption of every conceivable facet of their lives. If that’s the case, we’ll need a lot more than masks, common sense, and science to save us from ourselves.

Offering benefits hidden inside doubts, I’ll wager this next spin around the sun feels more like fuzzy slippers than frozen skates. Just the ability to walk out of a grocery store without immediately initiating NASA-level decontamination practices is enough of a reason to rejoice.

Suffice to say, our limbo stick expectations aren’t very low. Most of us would gladly take normalcy over excellence, and the installation of leaders who are intellectually capable of recognizing the stakes will benefit the greater good, regardless of how much detractors resist the helping hand. But “normal” needs to wear a different outfit or we’ll still be able to see the stains.

A fresh start to something stale. A moment to reflect, banish, and then change. Watch this worldwide debacle get smaller in the rearview as we walk into a better and brighter tomorrow.

Raise your hand if you’re ready.

Adolescence Interrupted

Death in place of pain

“Sometimes a scream is better than a thesis.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thrust into a modified global reality where the skyrocketing daily death rate has become a TV screen graphic as commonplace and mundane as lotto numbers, it’s hard not to pull that handheld mirror in for a closer look.

As a general rule, I have spent much of my adult life sprinting from pain, but standing steady for death.

With a bevy of nutritional supplements, a crippling need for exercise, and a diet that has become so limited it’s nearly impossible for any average human to follow, a meticulously constructed system has been designed to maximize health and eradicate weakness or deficiency. 

I’m smart enough to realize it’s most likely the result of pure insanity, but convincing myself of its necessity reinforces its strict adherence…and the loop spins round and round.

For some wholly inexplicable reason, colds, viruses, sore muscles, mental fatigue, any decline of joint function/mobility, headaches, reduced energy levels, etc. are avoided like the plague. But the threat of death is embraced with almost zero care or concern.

There is definitely some mixed brain wiring to blame for a deleteriously inverted fight-or-flight response, but this black-and-white laissez-faire perspective with regard to mortality has probably been rattling around in this head for longer than I’d like to acknowledge.   

To confess that a torn ACL ranks higher on a list of fears than a fatal plane crash is pretty vulnerable stuff. But this blog has repeatedly been a platform for naked testimony, and there’s no point in trying to pull up the covers now.

As always, there’s a focus here on sharing, not solutions. Catharsis takes many forms, and if an online diary is simply a means to wipe away some mud from the surface of the madness, so be it.

Introspection can be a nauseating teacup spin into the most baffling recesses of the psyche, but the fun is following the breadcrumbs back to the beginning…unless some hungry crows have already had their way with your exit strategy. 

Adolescence Interrupted

A Point of no return

A stopwatch thumb clicking down to zero. We are hurtling toward an impossible recovery window, and the fate of the future rests in the hands of the next anointed leader of the free world.

Partisanship aside, that’s a terrifying concept. If we slide our chips to the center of the table, is the action anything more than a clenched-jaw “wing and a prayer” blindfolded dart toss?

Stakes are impossibly high, and we are sprinting along the edge of an unfinished bridge. Hands clasped tightly over ears, there is an absurd reluctance to embrace the inevitability of fate beneath the towering mountain of science playing the crucial part of a canary in the coal mine.

So do we choose to be silent observers or screaming warriors? Should we take a pass or take a swing? Regret is a nasty little rash, so some active engagement might prevent a life of head-swimming insomnia or a ceaseless swarm of butterflies in the belfry.

Sitting on the sidelines is not an option when the planet’s very survival hangs in the balance. Unfortunately, the countless species of creatures who continue to be affected by the savage stripping and polluting of their homes still lack the opposable thumbs needed to pull those levers in a voting booth.

They’re counting on you to do what’s right. We all are.

Adolescence Interrupted

Everything New Is Old Again

Novelty is a nasty little trick. Senses excited by the freshness and originality of the unknown, untested, or unused soon face the harsh reality that anything shiny will ultimately lose its sheen.

This goes well beyond the new coat, car, college, or company. Brainwashed from year one by an onslaught of marketing ploys to convince us we are never fully whole, we crave the latest, most advanced modern marvel promising to ease our pain, simplify our lives, and save us time.

Leave the heavy lifting to automation, so we can stockpile precious seconds to spend on screens and devices built by the same companies promising (and selling) the fantasy of tangible untethering.

With each day that passes, the new becomes old, and the old is discarded. A cycle of inattention, lack of focus, and rampant consumerism has become a cyclone, and it’s destroying everything in its path.

A counterargument proposes the merits of our impressive adaptability. We are a dynamic species, exhibiting a high proficiency for transformation and reconstruction. Ready to spring back to standing after every takedown, humans tend to face a fight or challenge without allowing buckled knees to shake us into a sense of inaction.  We simply find ways to justify the new normal.

Shoes are off at the airport. Masks are on in the stores.

But the belief that tomorrow will present some gift that today is unable to wrap creates a dangerous habit of sacrificing the now for the then.

There isn’t always something waiting around the next corner. Sometimes it’s just an empty sidewalk.

Adolescence Interrupted

Deserted Island of the Mind

Thoughts lost in isolation. A time for healing. A time for self-reflection. But we cross a collective threshold when those finger-wagging mirrors hover close to grimaced faces for far too long. Is there a limit to this period of limitless wondering, wandering? The escape valves are useless if constantly void of steam, and the wrinkles in society’s fabric are growing more difficult to ignore.

Sitting with sandcastle carvings in the shape of an SOS, eager for a glimpse of dropped rope ladders, descending from the heavens and offering a haven. Crossing fingers and toes that the cure won’t be worse than the disease and putting faith in the hands of the senseless. Clocking days on the calendar, desperately hunting for dissimilarities. Masks masking everything we’d actually like to express.

We’re dizzy from riding a spinning misery-go-round, searching for keys to the cage, and losing focus behind unblinking eyes.

The aftermath of bad decisions. This is nature’s revenge, and she’s not pleased with our choices.

Will anyone wake up to the call? Change what they consume? Evaluate how they think? Cease the irresponsible behaviors that are crippling the planet? Recognize the risk of heavy feet on pedals with cliffs fast approaching? Consider the greater good above the personal gain?

Time will tell…if she’s willing to speak. But silence might be a better teaching tool for a population unable to hear.

Adolescence Interrupted