THIS is not a story about combat, or why I joined the Marine Corps, this is a story about discovering truth in a creative writing class. For the past two years I have been writing. I have been writing essays, poems, and short stories – I even had a short run at screenwriting. At one point I thought I could make it as a famous Hollywood scriptwriter, that dream is dead now. The point is I have been looking for something, trying to find a truth long lost in my experimentation with drugs, alcohol and other things. I became lost in the abyss of choices, both personal and professional. Should I reenlist and become an officer in the military? Should I become a teacher? Should I take a year off and travel? What the hell should I do? Where the hell should I go? That is the question that all of us ask ourselves as we journey through this experience we call college. We take classes hoping to find an answer to the question: What is the meaning of all this, and how do I get paid after graduating? Now, as I am just a few weeks away from graduating I will tell you what I have learned. Number one, I don’t care about the money. Yes, that’s right, I’m not motivated by how much money I can make. I am motivated by what I can do and how I can do it well. As many have told me along the way, “Money comes and it goes,” which leads me to my second point. Work. It’s not enough to have passion for something because at the end of the day you still need to eat, the rent has to be paid, and taxes are due in April. When I was a teenager I wanted to be an actor, work on stage and in all the big blockbuster movies, but when I finally came to Los Angeles, the city of broken people, I soon recognized that there were hundreds if not thousands of people, just like me, who also wanted to be an actor. From this realization I learned that it’s not enough to want something, or desire it, you actually have to go out and work for it and a lot of times, it doesn’t work out the way you expected it to. We have to work, that’s the harsh reality of it all, some of us get to do what we dreamed of and others well, they have to settle for something less sexy. Number three. Love and romance are hard things. There’s passion involved, but like a job, it requires a lot of work and a lot of rejection. When I was young I believed that love was this thing that just happened to you, and everyone would get a piece of the pie. Well, that’s not true. The truth is not everyone will have an opportunity to love and be loved, some of us will experience a void in that department, and so I learned to deconstruct these false realities and assumptions that everyone will get married, have kids and do the mommy and daddy thing. No, in actuality a lot of us won’t experience that old American dream. We will work for the rest of our lives and in the midst of it all try to make meaning of our circumstances and environment. When once in academia we were philosophers, sociologists, writers, painters, and future road scholars to then handling phone calls, emails, learning the different functions of the Xerox machine fully adapting the ways of the keyboard warrior. Administrative special ops are what I call these technicians in all their glory and valor. Number 4 beneath each person’s smile and presentation is a vault of brokenness and uncertainty, a cloud of confusion and at worst, anger and frustration. You see we’re all suffering to some extent. There’s some part of us that remains unresolved and we mask it with finances, degrees, careers, shallow relationships, and many more things that occupy our space and time. While some are good at hiding their pain others are living it out in the streets, huddled away in holding cells, or in rooms with white walls and a twin bed in the corner to sleep in. With suffering comes the understanding that madness is a universal trait that is unprejudiced to race, gender or any other political identity. We all got shit and some of us are better at concealing the smell while others let the aroma fill the room. Number 5: Blaming someone is easier than taking responsibility. Something that I did not know existed until I entered university circles was the notion of privilege. I stand here and read this and think to myself, “Well, hey, I’m pretty privileged. I didn’t have to endure through any firefights, I have all my limbs, and for the most part, my mind is pretty intact – for the most part.” However, I didn’t understand this concept of privilege as a vehicle for blaming injustices or inequalities. I simply just didn’t get it, but then I realized we have been doing this since the beginning of time. It’s the easiest and fastest way to give an answer, blame somebody. The white man, black people, Jews, Nazis, the British, women, the gays, just blame somebody and it all makes sense. Well, not exactly. I have learned that no matter what the powers at be are orchestrating the thing that I must do is take accountability of myself ultimately that’s what we must all do. Number 6. Life is hard. There’s no easy way around it, it’s difficult. It isn’t sunshine and rainbows, far from it, it’s a cold dark world and we all do our best to filter the evil that takes place everyday. We see it in the news, and often times we shield ourselves from it because we don’t want to deal with that reality. Instead we all do our best to live our secure and comfortable lives and try our best to control the outer chaos with colliding with our inner turmoil. It’s an unfortunate reality, but it’s the truth. Many will say I sound like a pessimist, or that my piece here reads like nihilism, but the truth is I am an optimist because I do believe at some point things do get better. That there is redemption at the end of the road and although it may be hard to see, it’s worth traveling the long hard road to find peace, happiness and serenity. When I look in the mirror I face my ugly truth, and when I go outside I see the world’s ugly truth, but the truth is better than living a beautiful fantasy contrived by fables, Disney movies and inspirational political speeches. Just give me the truth, the cold hard truth and nothing more.


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