Guest Columnist #70 - Sera - January column

    These days, I've been thinking too much. Too excited to live, too wide awake to sleep, drinking too much coffee and zipping around on my bike. Letting my eyes catch on everything I find inspiring or beautiful - ivy overtaking an empty house with molding like wrought iron, sunsets magnified in the angles formed by alleyways, skylines like the jagged-toothed smiles of a stranger in the fog, the leftover sting of adventure in the eerie stillness. My physical life has been pretty tranquil, compared to the past few years where it has been non-stop. But the roller-coaster in my mind has reached highs and lows I never dreamed possible. In these days where my life has definitely slowed down some, I've been searching for the journey within myself.
    Rich memories sit in slices like the pages of a photo album in my mind. And while I'm grateful for, and even fascinated by the life I've lived, when I get to the page where today should be, all I see is a mirror, my own reflection peering out tentatively, as if I'm not sure what I'll recognize. Looking over the past few years, I wonder what it's really all added up to. Sure, I've thrown myself into countless projects, some of which I'm intensely proud of, some I've given up on as well. I've tried my hardest to make a positive change in this world, and that's not something which I'll ever stop at. I've given my voice in the streets, my hands to the physical struggle, my words to try and tell the stories. And while I've done this for the larger cause, it would be a lie to say I also didn't do it for myself. To feel better about who I am, to fight the things I can't deal with inside myself as much as to fight injustices. And while it's come from love itself, it also comes from an intense desire to be loved, at the same time. This love and respect must be earned, I've learned, but it's tempting either way to think we deserve it because we live it outwardly.
    Lately, I've been called on many things about myself which I need to deal with. This felt like a slap in the face at first, others noticing things deep inside myself I wish were different, but it also felt like the first time in a while that someone cared enough, and knew me well enough, to tell me the truth. None of us is perfect. We carry a lot of internalized bullshit with us, from growing up in this society. We do fucked-up things to ourselves, and to each other, often without realizing it. If we are to be the person we've always dreamt of being, we will not be able to do this, see this, and especially, be this alone. Now the company of honest people is the only kind I care to keep. As many struggles as there are out there to fight, there are a million within ourselves we must deal with at the same time. Just as calling attention to injustices is often the first step in fighting them, getting called on (or calling yourself on) parts of yourself which need to be worked on shouldn't be seen as some kind of attack, but rather an act in the highest degree of respect, and even love.
    It's all starting to melt together. Looking at the world, and figuring out what I can do to make it better. Looking at the life I've lived and seeing it all in negative space, illuminating rather the kind of life I want to live. Looking at myself and wrestling with all of the internalized elements which are holding me back from being the person I know I can be.
    It's been lonely, all of this reflection. While I consider myself lucky to have friends who insist upon telling me the truth, in the sea of faces I see every day, I can't help wondering who really sees me for all I'm trying to be. I've been dealing with these feelings of isolation in various ways. The hardest, but most healthy, has definitely been this commitment to myself, like the one I made to the world some time ago. To live the way I know I can, the way I know I was meant to, using the past for its depth, perspective, and the million lessons I've learned hard. Admitting that it's scary from this angle, like I've climbed up somewhere high and am shaky with something I can't tell is fear or the freedom from overcoming it. Not afraid of heights, but of falling.
    These days, I've been climbing a lot. Bridges, abandoned buildings, rusty iron structures which serve no obvious purpose except to jump from the past into the immediate. And I am not scared, looking at myself. If anything, I'll recognize the real truth of who I am. I'm anxious to keep building the life I'm living, adding photos to the stack, dreaming deep and living fast. Being a punk has given me a lot more than some good stories, crazy adventures, blinding memories with a soundtrack I've heard in my bones as well as my ears, and (of course) a few bad tattoos. It's given me this challenge to live up to my fullest potential, and not only to act for the greater good, but to live both comfortably and intensely within myself.