Tetris

What does it mean to be me?

It may sound like a self-explanatory question, even tautological in some senses, but the truth is that this question has eluded me my entire life, maybe because I’m thinking too hard, maybe not enough, but I have struggled with that since I can remember. The self is not something one should take for granted even though we are indeed the answer: I am. Do not be fooled, I’m still searching for the meaning of it all. God knows I give myself harder moments than any other person have tried to since I can remember: I want to be the best version of myself and the fact that I fail to grasp myself as I would desire it to be bothers me more than often.

My early days are blurry to me and I’m not ashamed to admit that in front of you. I bet most of you remember how it was to be young, really young, what it was to embrace your childhood moods, passions and desires. You probably had fantasies and maybe dreams, and maybe you got to know you better with the moving time making teeth fall and teeth grow, rapidly. I bet you can still think of those days and live it all over again. I think I can’t. I’m not saying that I cannot recall anything from my childhood, of course I can, but the opaqueness of it all makes it so difficult that when people ask me about our early facts that we share together, I tend to nod whilst feeling a strange feeling of a not-quite-a-déjà-vu. Even though I am surely not a psychologist nor a psychoanalyst, I’m convinced that the way I presented myself to the world since my early stages in life worked as a dimming mechanism of those years that so many people cherish. The reason for that unscientific theory is that I lacked elemental human composites like profound desire, will and self-awareness. As a kid, I only had two interests in life: videogames and the inner necessity to watch others exist. Ask anyone who knows me from that period and they will probably say that they knew about the former and could not possibly see the latter in my behavior, which is understandable when you take into consideration the fact that I was a boy who spoke only if needed to and that hid behind his games and long silences.

It is difficult to explain myself to you. As a young boy, the feeling that I can still acknowledge as mine is the feeling of wanting to have a peaceful existence and that others didn’t interfere with that sensation. in any case, I will admit that at that age span I was not a good person, I could not even say I was bad because I neglected life in society as much as I could. I had siblings and a cheerful family, I had friends, I had parents that loved me and money to compensate for any need a youngster may have. I have thought about this fact for so long, this so called self-induced ‘amnesia’ and it all arrives to the same place: when your inner truth does not burn your chest enough, when your fire is almost extinguished or low-flamed, when you fail to realise that as a human being, you are entitled to your existence and that your existence comprehends a myriad of situations, feelings, thoughts, wantings, longuings, of youness, when you refuse to acknowledge it all, days become years and you are attached to so few of them that you just forget because you were not really paying attention. I have problems to pay attention to life, back then and now in the present, let’s just agree that I have been paying attention that I have not been paying attention, which is indeed something to be proud of, at least to me.

That absence in my own life created a series of gaps that fragmented my self-awareness as well as a healthy development of one’s personality; it’s funny to say that I have taken a long time to figure out how I really am and I’m still clueless about how others perceive me, even though teachers, parents and some books say it is not important, I think it is colorful to be aware of things like that in one’s life. Childhood faded away with the arrival of teenage years, those years of fundamental changes for everyone of us, including me, yes. I can recall those years way better than any other year from my childhood, and it is not only related to the fact that I was older, or that that was ten years ago and not fifteen. I truly learned what it was to feel, to desire and to share. I discovered music, which was to me holier than the Bible, inducing me into a state of drive, of rediscovering. I discovered books and philosophy and my mind opened up a few inches as well as my inner self did, and I could feel the mutations. I fell in love for a lifetime and got to know the beginning of every pain and of every pleasure of human existence, dear merciless and beautiful thing called love. I started to live, to really live, and if my life acted as tetris, each of those gaps I created in my inner self commenced to vibrate voraciously, trying to make those misplaced pieces fit my soul, asking myself over and over again that unanswerable question: who am I?

It was in those early years of teenagehood that I understood I had a long journey to accomplish, that I had a responsibility towards myself, which was to get to know me so I could learn how to love myself. The thing is, it was the other way around; I understood much later that in fact love came first so understanding may arrive at my door, but I was young, once again. As many other teenagers, the ocean that my life was, so calm and colorless as it may appear at first changed: it was turbulent, opaque and filled with waves I didn’t know existed accompanied with whirlpooling feelings of realisation. I was: typhoon of breathing paradigms. You all know this story, some of you have experienced it personally, some of you through your loved ones, but those waves and winds had names likes ‘depression’, ‘anxiety disorders’, ‘insomnia’ and some, ‘suicidal tendencies’. I have drowned under those waters and then stick my head out to breathe for a second and plonge back again, over and over. It’s the sea, one can’t expect it to be calm overnight, or could you? But it did eventually, because I made it happen, because I was tired of feeling overwhelmed and forced myself to learn how to swim. Resuming all these situations and feelings in lines feels almost wrong, because if you have felt at least a bit like I have, you know that the true story takes years to explain, and maybe a proper book that does not necessarily need to be self-help related.

I was not prepared to be an adult, I think no one really is, but from the moment I realised youngsters saw me as a ‘sir’, that the same boy I was could not be reflected on my face or height (even though I’m not really tall), I realised that a part of that path I chose had being walked, towards something. I still do not really know who I am, I just know how I look and I’m pretty good at recognising myself while looking at pictures. But being honest, I do have a clearer sense of what it means to be me; I know that even though I’m not sure about anything that regards my existence, if I’m not truthfully kind, I want to be kind, that even though I’m not sure if I deserve success, I want my passions to be a great deal in my day-to-day life, which means that I’m passionate about things, which means that I’m not only the same boy I was playing Pokemon Blue on his Gameboy Color. I know that I’m still afraid to let myself be a provider of causality in social life, that I have issues letting people know if I agree or disagree with something that eventually will have an effect on me. I know I should not be afraid of making people feel angry, or sad or happy because something I did or do, that if I refuse to choose it could make them feel angry or sad only out of disappointment, because I can’t pretend I don’t exist like I did long time ago, even though things seem to feel easier that way and that ending up being only an illusion.

What does it mean to be me? I think I know the answer wordlessly, I think I do not dare to answer it because it is indeed an affirmation that I am not used to endeavor. I want to believe my achievements are not over, not yet, and that the path I have taken will be one that will take me towards myself, because I want to know me better and stop pretending to be playing tetris with my own heart-

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Upside-Down Tentation

A declaration of passion before reason

This is what it is and nothing else, it’s a confession

No discretion this time, words have no disguise;

The soul of this writer loses common sense with each stanza

The whole being of him being filled with real sense: truth

His heart asking of him to break all rules,

To set the world upside-down

Because,

Just because

Firmly because

He found you, dear love:

He read your words and thoughts:

I

took my time and make sure there were any illusions:

(There were not)

I

Gave myself time and saw if what I felt was true

(Oh darling, it was)

I shiver just to think of you, with that voice and those eyes

I sound like a man who has lost common sense

Because I gave it away when I saw you.

I did with you what I never expected I’d do

My head giving me a headache at first

And now, even it asks for you,

My eyes, my voice, my tongue, my lips

My shoulders and hips as well as my fingertips;

My fears and joys desire you;

My good and bad, my best and worse

I’m here for you to see me, as I am

I am yours, if you accept me, I am all yours

This is a declaration as well as a confession.

I would never say that everything about you I’ll adore

I won’t lie, that’s simply ridiculous, you and I solely humans

But I want to get to know the things that I won’t adore

Because I want to know you, in your best and worse

I want you to be the person that makes my days tickle

And desperating sometimes;

Without knowing, I chose you.

I’m not the best man there is, not even close

So many imperfections and a whole lot of work in progress

I do not impress as much as my Self would like

I am not good because with this poem being written

I imply without saying that I want you to say yes

To be with me and let me love you as you much deserve.

Nonetheless, I assure you I can love you

Properly, passionately, happily

I assure you that I want to take care of you

(As much as I can)

To listen to your thoughts, ideas and impressions

To hold you tight when you have days of grey expressions

If you ever say no to me, I’ll respect your wishes and I’d be gone

No hard feelings, no expectations, as I said and I withstand upon

If you ever say ‘no’ to me, that would be what your heart wants

Between you and I there is an intrinsic tentation;

There’s no answer with words and feelings go everywhere

Anywhere,

You are the object of my tentation, and I fall for it

Because I have nothing to lose,

Because I’d immediately lose if I let you go

You are the gravity that makes my world

Go upside-down, isomeric woman

You, love, that’s what I want.

Shaking Colours

A single sound vibrating through air

Beating its beats carrying one color,

Encountering others like him, animously,

Spreading some other liquid contrasts, rhythmically,

Incredible things coming out from tremor,

Tremor of harmony that loving ears can bear.

Music; unexplainable, way further than simple physics,

Our senses and soul being pulled by intelligible strings

For us, self-proclaimed musicians, it is art,

For the ass and the stupid for the uptight smartass,

Music; soul-lifting energy of sound and bars.

Break all the rules, keep them safe on your lap,

She makes it possible to be beautiful, ageless,

Even theory-lovers and listeners will clap

To the everlasting and colorful dance of this Goddess,

Tremors of harmony that loving ears can bear.

Anathème

Clarté d’une coquille avalant la mer,

Chaque poisson, requin et hérisson

Se demande la même chose amère,

Où est ma mère? Je n’entends plus sa chanson,

Celle des vagues et de tous les courants.

Et l’eau se déplace dans les tunnels de la coquille,

Le soleil n’est plus son cher amant

‘A mon Dieu je crie: Ne suis-je pas Ta bleue vermeille?’

Où vais-je? Est-ce celui-ci du néant?

Obscure, froid, et vide anathématisant.

Les poissons se sont vêtus de sable,

Les requins ont fait pareil à leurs côtés,

Les Hérissons ont subi un destin minable,

Comme tous les fils et filles de la mer

Ils se sont séchés sans pouvoir voire lutter.

La coquille n’arrête pas d’avaler,

Et avec de l’air elle en a commencé

Finira-t-elle pour tout accumuler

Cette coquille, nature arrachée

Coupable et victime du manque de l’air et la mer.

And I say:

We all understand pain,
Not to blame our darkness
Hidden stain that does not
Go away.
Try not to clean it in despair
Because it’s oily and unwashable
And could cover the inside
Of your soul and there will
Be only you
To blame.

It aches in a beating beat,
Fear being the root
Strong and strange
Of your soul’s disease.
Fear not your fear,
Embrace it,
Face it,
Tame it.
Like the passing-by of your shadow:
Acknowledge it.
We do not know what it is,
Yet we know that it looks like me.

I am so afraid, I’ll say it at loud,
Stray thought that collides
Noise so overwhelming
That comes from the
I of My life.

And yet,
Why deny it?
Why to overpower it?
Do you wish to know it all?
Do you think you can handle that better?
Why do you fear your fears, friend?
Why don’t you love them?
And yet,

The less you fear it;
The more you understand it,
The more you tame it;
The less you avoid to face it.
More or less,
The stain will cease to be stain,
And there will be no one to blame:
Darkness creates a contrast
In the canvas that you want so white-
Desperately-,
And gives you colors that,
If it wasn’t for it,
Will never be there.

Pain:
The fear of our fears,
Perception of the ill mortality,
Faints and reveals,
The universe of One-self.

Modal Epiphany

I remember vividly the first time I played jazz live, as strongly as the first time you realise you fell in love with that person that you know you will never forget. I was eighteen years old, almost nineteen, and after tribulations I decided to join the jazz ensemble of the university back home in Venezuela. To be honest, I didn’t understand much about how jazz worked even though I knew a bunch of different scales and concepts, I didn’t quite understand it at first.

They were older than me, from different backgrounds and gladly accepted me to join them, and with no hesitation I went to rehearsals. I started to really improvise for the first time in my life after years of classical training and I knew something was off; there was something ungraspable about it. Not the chords changes, not even the whole dynamic of fusion (which was mostly what we did), but there was indeed something in the air, like that silence before a natural event that made me nervous, in a good way.

At the university we were asked to give a midterm concert, which we happily agreed upon and worked some 14 to 16 different jazz standards from almost every period and we were set to go. I never truly believed that, and I mean that positively. That morning I was nervous about the unknown, the ticking clock was heavy and fast-paced and after preparing everything on stage, we were ready. I had to support my fellow musicians when they would take turns to improvise, listening to what they were doing and stick to the color, and then to have the courage to let go and improvise for the first time for an audience. I am not sure if I will be able to explain the scene, but to me it was a life-changing moment right there.

There’s something about jazz that annihilates the concept of time even though we measure musical space. Past, present and future merge into something abstract and hardly describable, jazz is about being present at all times, not only as a player or performer, but as a whole with the others. Rehearsals never had the same magic as that concert did, and by that I desire not to undermine the magic that they had, but playing without looking for “perfection” and well structured pieces was quite different. Ideas came in and out like deciding the universe we are creating and that will inevitably die after the last measure and final silence is by any means, wordless.

I will tell you something about improvisational musicians: that moment on stage is as thrilling and unique to most of us that we lose ourselves. Thinking is too hard, unnatural, music theory, harmony and rhythm are no longer concepts but tools of pure visceral expression; most of us are as happy as one could ever be during those moments. Most of us see life through our ears and fingers and mouths and say nothing at all. That’s why we smile while listening to other musicians improvise next to us: we hear the notes and maybe think about the theory implied if you are willing to, but what we really hear is the speech of a soul beaming. What we call discourse, that conglomerate of phrases, licks, silences and ideas, vibrate through us and through the audience and we cannot help it but smile and laugh and scream sometimes. It does not need to be virtuous, one note could change the world to us if it is pulled out the right way: in a truthful way. That concert gave me a taste of that, of that sense of immortality and mortality, of wholeness and recurrent surprise.

Since that day I fell madly in love with that music that savantly knows all the rules and heartfully knows how to break them all in ways I never thought possible. I have played in dozens of jam sessions and concerts ever since and the feeling does not go away; it grows heavily and thickly inside me, asking of me just one thing: be truthful and to understand my own speech, which is probably the hardest thing to do, and the most beautifully thing that one may find in that art. Listening to people as clairvoyant as Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, Jaco Pastorius, Richard Bona or Herbie Hancock, or so many other brilliant minds and souls make me understand I’m still far away from where I want to go, but I follow the chord changes and go along.

Gentillesse

S’il y a quelque chose que la vie m’a apprise, c’est de bien apprécier la gentillesse, ce trait si inaperçu que me fend le coeur, mon existence et ma respiration. Être gentil c’est d’être capable d’ouvrir nos portes primaires aux personnes, sans prendre en considération la chimie qu’on en maintient, sans prendre même pas compte dans notre jugement si on connaît l’individu envers lequel on empathise; c’est d’avoir un vrai sourire qui s’étend aux proches ainsi qu’aux inconnus. La gentillesse serait le chef d’oeuvre d’un sympathique-empathique.

Cela se voit dans notre regard, dans le vibration de notre voix, dans notre langage corporel, cela est un parfum indubitable de tous ceux qui emportent avec détermination l’amour envers autrui même si la vie n’est pas ce qu’on voudrait que ce soit au présent. C’est-à-dire, la gentillesse n’est pas situationnelle, elle est pour nous, êtres humains, essentielle. Néanmoins, par cela je ne voudrais jamais dire qu’elle soit inatteignable pour certains, sinon que c’est un sentiment que l’on nourrit dans notre coeur et qu’il faut jamais oublier qu’elle existe en nous, comme tous les autres sentiments humains, “bons” ou “mauvais”.

Vous, les gentils, hommes, femmes et animaux, vous arrivez à percer n’importe quelle membrane que je puisse avoir dans mon âme. Vous, les gentils, comprenez bien la nécessité humaine de comprendre, même si rien n’est clair, même si on n’y peut rien, y inclus comprendre. Ce n’est pas un appel à se laisser faire, à se laisser léser, c’est un appel à notre humanité, de regarder la mortalité aux yeux, aux corbeaux de l’ignorance et de leur dire “Je suis avec vous tant que je le pourrai”.

La gentillesse vient de l’amour, elle vient de la sagesse aussi, elle vient de l’expérience, elle vient de l’exemple. Vous ne saurez jamais à quel point une âme gentille peut faire une différence dans la journée de quelqu’un, parfois même dans sa vie, alors, un rappel pour nous tous: soyons gentils ou du moins, essayons.