I have died many times in this life. Perhaps not physically, but certainly emotionally, financially, spiritually, and psychologically. Each time I stood before my adversary or trial at the end though, it was with a smirk on my face, knowing that the next strike would destroy me. And it most certainly would. The pain is usually so great that that I have to question everything that I ever was and am. I wonder why I am at this crossroad, and if this truly is the end.
It never is. Because I am soon reborn. The moment the last of the ashes hit the ground, a light within them begins to hum like an ember, glowing in intensity until I am once again aware. I am not the same person I once was, and I love it.
I am stronger than before, and though I mean no harm to anyone, and I never want to fight, whoever or whatever decides to come my way should be afraid. Very afraid.
I am not one to boast, but I will set the record straight here. I am certainly a lover, not a fighter. When I was growing up, I was a people pleaser. Though there were a few minor excursions (like I lied about some things when I was little), I always tried to turn myself around. Whomever I met, I tried to become that person in a sense. I had this notion in my head that if I conformed to society to the very core of my being, then I would have a great life. I would be rewarded. Everyone would be my friend. How beautifully naive I was.
I learned that the world took advantage of the kind and revered the proud and arrogant. Hard workers were run into the ground while the lazy were given passes. Though I saw these unusual injustices, I still kept my mouth shut and trudged along. Surely I would escape such fates. Of course, I was wrong.
I died spiritually once. Various churches showed me the hypocrisy of man. I was told that people are people and to not concentrate on the faults of their members, until I saw that even the intentions weren't pure. What is a doe-eyed young man supposed to do then? Do I follow along blindly even if I now know the truth? If the very people that I once revered are now telling me to my face what their motives are like a villain giving a monologue. In that moment, they know that I am to be ostracized, so why not reveal their hand? If I say anything that is contrary to the status quo within the confines of the church, I'll be deemed as crazy or influenced by the devil. I gain some freedom, but it comes at a price.Knowledge indeed brings sorrow, but with knowledge also comes power, and when I pick myself up from the dust of my spiritual death, my focus is sharpened. I no longer care about what human beings are telling me when it comes to God. I keep my focus on the scriptures, my prayers, and those that are saying things that make sense. It is comforting to find people that are able to give me answers to questions, and not just shut them down in their infancy. I am now very optimistic, but painfully realistic.
I died financially once. I once believed that the perfect track in life was to get good grades in school, go to college, get a career, get a house, and so on and so on. After all, that is what everyone was saying. Funny enough, I didn't examine the lives of the adults around me enough. It didn't dawn on me that having a college degree didn't equal success. I stayed the course, and it didn't go well for me. I graduated from a state University with a Bachelor's degree in English. Though I had decent grades, a great resume, and applications given to many places, I ended up working at the Olive Garden for a year and a half. Not exactly what I went to college for.
I eventually taught English for a high school, but it was in an inner city district in which lay offs were the norm. I was laid off every summer, with the expectation that I would be called back right before school started back up in the fall. One year, I learned that I wouldn't get a call, and so I now found myself unemployed, even though I had just began going for my Master's degree, expecting that where I was, I would always be. Teaching was to be my career, but it was not meant to be. But I'm grateful for this test, because if it didn't happen, I wouldn't have fought to become a full-time writer and accomplish my dream. I will detail the particulars some other time, but needless to say, my time on unemployment was very well spent. In less than six months, I went from broke to being able to pay all my bills and more off of my writing. It took everything I had, and daily I would have to renew myself, telling myself not to cry and to keep trying. I'm now in my fourth year doing what I love, and my wife doesn't have to work unless she wants. I am grateful everyday for what I have, and I value hard work more than ever.
I died psychologically once. I went through an ordeal with family that made me question everything I believed in. Though there was plenty I wanted to say on the matter before us but I stayed as frail and humble as possible in order to preserve the relationship. I needed to get my point across, but I didn't want to be disrespectful. Not after all these individuals did for me. But in the end, I had to make a decision, and it ended up being the right one for my life. I am a different person because of it. A little more assertive. A little wiser. A little more mature. I learn that family and friends are what you make of them. Like my set career path, or my spiritual path, I learn that you can alter these courses to become the person you need to be. I surround myself with as much positive energy as possible, and it pays off in droves.
I died emotionally recently. I questioned a lot. Who I was. Where I was headed. What it all meant. But now I feel renewed. It's making me appreciate those I have around me even more, and I realize that this episode is only a drop in the bucket compared to the rain that will pour down in life. I'm done trying to hide my tears in the rain. I now feel stronger than ever. Because if I can die financially, spiritually, emotionally and psychologically, what is left? I feel invincible, for nothing short of physical death can take me now.
I've always looked at life as a test, and one great thing my father taught me was that when you go through a trial, you will be doomed to repeat it until you learn the lesson. It's time to move forward and see the bigger picture. It's time to knock on the door of my enemies and smile as I reveal that their finishing blow was meaningless. They didn't realize that I can't really die. I am a phoenix. I will rise again, and even if I should be killed physically, my written words will live on. My characters will continue to tell my story, and collectively, they are me.
James is my fear of the unknown. Catherine is my sense of duty. Aidan is my anger. Lydia is my pain. Vincent is my cunning, and Echo is my love song for those that I've left behind (oh, that's right, you haven't met her just yet!). Anyways, Lysander is my innocence and Kyran is my darkness. Remi is who I want to grow to be someday, and the list goes on and on.
So yes, I will boast this one time. I will say to life one more time...you didn't win. You didn't win. You keep throwing this stuff at me, and the trials keep getting bigger, but every single time, I get even more powerful than before. My voice gets louder. My wisdom grows. I can't die. Don't you get it yet? And the more I talk to other survivors like me, the more immortals I meet like myself. And Life...seriously, if you're having this much trouble killing me, how are you going to take down two of us? Three? Several? A whole people? We will meet. We will exchange ideas. We will conquer you, and all of your puppets. We will live on, and show others that they don't have to settle for less. You can knock us down, but then we get back up. Someday you'll understand, or you'll burn under our collective might.
I am a Phoenix. I am an Immortal.
And if you're one too, let's talk. We've got a lot of work to do.