The Art Left Behind

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I have to admit I was never a fan of Mac Miller.  But there was something about his recent passing that impacted me.  I guess, in some way, Mac Miller was a semblance, a representation of all the young men and women I had come to know over the past 13 years who had also fallen to the grips of addiction and as result went spiraling down to the harrowing end of an overdose.  Like the young rapper, many of the people I came across had artistic dispositions, possessed a unique way of looking at the world, and always expressed themselves via creative means of music and art.  Sometimes, they sang songs, poems, or played musical instruments in between therapeutic sessions.  Sometimes, I’d watch in amazement as the words rhythmically escaped their mouths, cigarette hanging out of the side of their lips, their tattooed arms bearing the faded healing needle marks flaying about with the sounds of the music.  These souls who I had come to know were soon gone, victims of drug dependency.  I could still remember the songs, the poems, the debates, the drawings many of them left behind.  It is this art, somehow clearly unfinished, that leaves behind a sense of bitterness and sorrow.  I can remember rationalizing their deaths as “a part of the disease” in the many community vigils… later, having to pull my car over succumbed by the crushing reality: Addiction is powerful…indiscriminate, and it takes the lives of young men and women who possess great potential. 

It has been through these individuals that I’ve confirmed there is something creative and divine about the addict.  The addict lives an expressive life, in a state of constant desperation to reunite with a greater reality- unfortunately, many times, the connection is an erroneous one, sought artificially through a substance.  Many addicts die in their relentless pursuit to be whole again, to be reunified with their source and relieved of their separateness.  Mac Miller and the 350 souls that die daily from drug related deaths in the US alone should remind us all that money, fame, and achievement alone does not grant us wholeness and that the ultimate source of fulfillment must be sought after to make recovery possible.  

Beauty of the Beard

2FC5968E-4C29-44F7-8785-800B9CFDD618“What’s with the beard?, she asks as the last drops of coffee spill into the forestry of salt and peppered chin hairs.  I should have known the question was coming as it happens to be as of recently she turns her gaze from my eyes to the puzzlingly scouting of untamed facial hair.  I sip air, hoping the quieted seconds will quell her curiosity and she’d derail her questions to colorful topics like politics or conversion or counseling in prison.  But I’m stuck and break the silence with “ideals.”  I realize I’ve already gone too far, recognizing I have missed the exits of ‘early Movember’ or ‘fashion statement.’  And then enters the anticipated dread of un-interruptions so I continue:  “The beard is a sea of ideals, a vast and seemingly infinite ocean separating who I long to be and who I am.  The strands of hair represent the endless journey, an ongoing battle to merge the contents of the mind with the desires of the heart.  My beard is a story composed of daily dialogues with the Creator- it is a panoramic museum depicting refined poets and unrestrained savages in combat.  My beard is a composition of curled letters telling tales of wandering peoples through the desert- an anatomy of a broken heart daring to mend itself.  The beard is a covenant, a promise to always recall what I’ve been through, where I stand, and where/who I want to be.”  

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