By Joshua Blake
Life’s weird. Lately I’ve been reminiscing on mine by looking back on all of the notebooks and journals I’ve written in. Like any song you listen to, a story unfolds and a narrative appears. I believe the same to be true about life.
So, what about mine?
I started by going back to where it all began for me: writing poetry in an old notebook from when I was in high-school. I was 16 or 17 at the time, and I initially thought that this poetry thing wouldn’t last long. Two-hundred-to-four-hundred poems and a decade later, here I am.
I’ve kept all of the 7-10 books I’ve written in as a way to remind myself of where I once was, and in some ways, where I still am today. If I could condense everything I’ve written down for the chorus in a song, it’d have to be something uplifting, with a touch of doubt. Maybe something like “I always knew I’d be able to get by, but it wouldn’t happen until I passed through time.”
The current journal I’m writing in has been through a longer lifespan than any other I’ve had – about four-and-a-half years. But the last poem I’ve written in my current book from January 31, 2019, really sets the tone of what my writing is all about: Fear of my past and of my future.
“I don’t know where to look,
Or where I should go.
But I’m always pulling you in tow,
Like an arrow fired from a bow.”
[Excerpt from “Now What?”]
The very first poem I wrote called “False Assumptions,” lives somewhere, but the page I wrote it on in my original book of poems has been lost to time. I put it in a word document years ago on an old laptop, but the point is that title is, to this day, something I think of whenever my anxiety or depression flares.
However bad a situation seems, it never turns out how I think it does in my head.
Moving forward, I’m going to break down the last decade of my writings, in an attempt to see how far I’ve come, what I’ve learned, and what I can learn further on my journey through life.
The Formative Years: 2010-2012
My beginning poems centered around love. What it meant to love, how I would ever be loved, and if I would ever allow myself to be loved. But then something changed.
Despair and agony flooded my mind, and I wrestled with these emotions until I wrote about them on March 12, 2011.
“Reoccurring events running through my mind.
I feel as if I’ve traveled back through time.
Who can I trust either than myself?
I don’t want to be stuck by myself.
Fear now runs through my veins.
There’s nothing I can do to stop these pains.
Reoccurring thoughts are coming back.
Reoccurring thoughts make me see black.”
[Excerpt from “Reoccurring Emotions”]
“I regretfully give in to your gesture,
And all I see is that familiar texture.
Are you here to tell me otherwise?
What answers are hiding behind your deceiving eyes?
Can you guide me to my salvation,
Or will you send me to my damnation?
You are the only one I truthfully hate,
Hence your ability to control my fate!”
[Excerpt from “The Eternal Story” October 10, 2012, 2:14 a.m.]
This was the catalyst for my transition into journal-ing about my woes as well. I continued to write dozens upon dozens of poems throughout that year, while also expanding on these thoughts more and more in depth.
January 19, 2012, 12:50 a.m.
“Whenever I have any sort of downtime, it plays as my enemy. I believe I am – and always have been – wondering about my future. Where I will be, who will be in my life (if anyone) and when will I get what I’ve always wanted.
I’ve lost my identity. I don’t know who I am anymore. Mental illness? Insanity or helplessness?”
The Broken Times: Dec. 2012-Nov. 2014
Possibly the darkest times I’ve ever been through emotionally and mentally, and it all came to a head in early December of 2013. After years of believing Love was a road I’d never travel down, I knew I was at a breaking point.
December 7, 3:07 a.m.
“I am in a very dark place yet again. I’m not enjoying this cell – it’s killing me – and I’ve put myself in, while throwing away the key.”
Ironically, my only salvation during this period of my life came from writing music with my grandmother – a force like no other, with a voice that could carry for thousands of miles.
The first song we ever wrote happened in June of 2014
“I’m stuck in this free fall
Patiently waiting until I stall
It’s getting lonely up here
My only friend is fear.
My greatest enemy.”
October of 2014 was another low point, however…
On the 11th, I wrote “Far From Never.”
“I’m going back to that time and place/ The one that gave my heart such disgrace…If I’m beat enough, maybe I’ll listen/ And your gentle face will start to glisten…I need this now more than ever/ Even if love is far from never.”
On the 18th, I wrote “Everything.”
“Everything feels so broken/ My heart beats, even though it’s frozen…Everything is crashing down/ My head hears awful sound…Everything hurts when I think of you/ My eyes cry at things past due.”
On the 27th, I wrote “Tunnel Vision.”
“Tunnel vision stuck on her/ My thoughts never could deter…Life seems so out of sight/ When will things start to go right?”
The Current Era: Nov. 2015 –
The difference a year makes is extraordinarily underappreciated. In October of 2014, I was a mess. In October of 2015, I met my now fiancee and we’ve been engaged since 2018.
Still, that doesn’t mean my past doesn’t come back to haunt me every now and again.
Four years after I wrote “Everything,” I wrote “Stuck In Between,” on Oct. 18, 2018. Looking at it now, it feels like a successor of sorts.
“Stuck in between something I can’t explain/ Like something in the middle of pleasure and pain…Stuck in between something that I can’t name/ It doesn’t feel real, like I’m playing some kind of game…Feel as though I’m forever maimed/ As if I’ll always live with this pain.”
“Inside Out/Outside In” Sep. 27, 2019
“It’s like I’m cold, but on the inside/ Like pins and needles all over my mind…It’s like I’m hot, but on the outside/ Like I can’t outrun what’s been left behind…Shaking inside out and outside in/ I’m not even sure where to begin.”
“Now What?” Jan. 31, 2019
“I don’t know where to look/ Or where I should go…But I’m always pulling you in tow/ Like an arrow fired from a bow.”
“Sleep-talking” Jan. 21, 2020
“Sleep-talking but you’re silent/ Oh you’re so violent/ Starring right through me/ Not letting me be…Sleep-talking but you’re silent/ No longer one of your clients/ I’m lookin’ right past you/ As my memory forever haunts you.”
As a way to end this little trip back through time, I wanted to end on a entry I wrote nearly a decade ago and a lyric from a song I wrote nearly six years ago.
Oct. 8, 2011
“After I fill the last page of this book, I wonder if I shall have the wisdom on how to move forward – both emotionally and physically…There’s still some holes to be filled, and I’m trying to find the shovel to fill them.”
“Know Me Now.”
“So afraid of where I’ll be/ Cryin’ for you to set me free…Heart beat is out of tune/ Racin’ straight towards my doom. Keep repeating the same old story/ Hoping to find my fame and glory…Will you find me soon someday/ So my mind can break away.
I remember when we met/ You came to me with a bet…Do you really know me now/ If so, show me how.”