Depression

I had posted this on my facebook page, but I wanted to get this here on my blog as well.

With all the recent talk and posts of those meaning well with regards to depression, I felt compelled to respond in some way. What I am going to do right now is attempt to shed some light on depression.

Some know, many don’t, that I am depressive. Due to my past I have dealt with PTSD since I was 3, and the depression, I believe, was spawned from the same things that caused the PTSD.

Now my goal here is not to ruin your worldview, or try to make you feel bad or anything. That’s not me. But my purpose in this post is hopefully to educate you so you understand perhaps just a little bit better about how we think and how we operate.

Let me explain how it works for me.

My childhood was hell. I’m going to leave it at that. My middle school years were horrible and I became suicidal at 14. Figured the world was better off without me.

I still believe the world would be better off without me. Please understand, there is absolutely nothing you can say to make me believe otherwise. This is a daily battle. A struggle I have to face every day of my life.

At some point I realized I had to begin a journey if I was to survive. And this journey became my life. You see, I had to understand. I had to understand myself, my perception of what it meant to be a part of this world, what I meant to others in my life, and how all these things intertwined to create me. In the end, it all comes down to perception.

But the journey to oneself is not to be taken lightly. And it ends only with our death. In a way, to embrace this journey is to admit we know nothing, are nothing, and eventually we may discover ourselves in the midst of all the commotion and noise surrounding us.

Now, here’s the thing that many don’t seem to grasp: While I appreciate your kindnesses, they are irrelevant. A kind word doesn’t make me get up in the morning. Trying to remind me that I have a wife and daughters who love me doesn’t help me roll out of bed. You don’t have that power.

I’m sorry if this hurts your heart. I don’t mean it to. But I need you to understand. My life, ultimately, is my own. It is not yours to do with as you please, and in that same vein you do not have the capacity to make me feel better or worse about myself unless I gave you that power.

Trust me, I didn’t. Now, I am not speaking for all depressives, but I’d venture to guess that there are many like me. But please know this, if someone wants to talk, they will talk. If they do not want to talk, you cannot force them. If anything, you may force them to shut down further by trying to intercede… and we lose that person we love so much at the end of our actions which were meant to save.  Ironic, isn’t it?

The reality is that there is no real answer to this problem. All we can do is our best. In a world beset by the ravages of philosophical, theological and political turmoil, with people confused, or in utter hatred of those different than they are, I fear the problem of depression will only get worse.

Our vets are taking their lives at an average of 22 a day.  But we tell them to man up.  Or we tell them that they just have to work through it.  What about those who have had to deal with childhood issues, like physical or sexual abuse?  Their demons are among the worst a human could face.  But they just need to get over it, right?  Forgive and move on, because that fixes everything [Sarcasm].

I want you all to know that I am okay. No need for worrying or anything. But I also need you to know and understand that even if there was cause for concern, your words would be met with a smile and a ‘thank you’ that was as empty and meaningless as your gesture. I know that sounds harsh, but this is exactly how we see it. We can’t just be fixed, or snap out of it. It does not work that way.

For those of you who stuck through reading this, thank you for listening.

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A Rant.

So much of what I am about to say is going to come across as insensitive or uncaring to people’s feelings…  Both of which are true.  If you do not know how I truly feel, and think that my words are too mean or uncouth, I really don’t care.

Let me start with the story… Some of you have seen the picture floating around social media about the school where the assignment was given for the students to present the pros and cons of life as a slave.

Now, I’ll agree that on the surface this sounds bad.  And perhaps the assignment wasn’t properly worded, but here’s the thing:  my daughter goes to one of the campuses of this school.  This is a school that has a classic education curriculum, and whose curriculum is very advanced by modern American standards.

This school teaches our kids critical thinking skills.

Before I move forward, I want to repeat that…CRITICAL. THINKING. SKILLS.

We as a society have been complaining for a long time that millennials are lacking critical thinking skills, but parents are so quick to find any little thing to complain about and attempt to mold our kids’ education into what only they deem appropriate.

Now I want you to think on that concept for a moment as well…  Parents only want their kids taught what they want their kids to learn.  Not the facts.  So I’m going to ask the question: do you want your kids taught what to think?  Or do you want them to be taught to think, and how to approach determining an answer?

We need to be able to understand our own bias as we proceed with life.  Critical thinking skills teach us how to do this, or at the very least, gives us a starting point.  We need to see how our bias informs our decision-making ability.  We need to understand that not everyone has our same experiences, nor do they draw from their experiences in the same way we do.

Back to the issue at hand.  I want to show you that I practice what I preach.  My daughter, who attends one of the campuses of that same school in question, came home with homework where an interesting question was offered.  Now, I’m paraphrasing here, but the question was “Was it moral for the Europeans to come to the new world and claim land that was already inhabited by natives?”

You might be thinking that’s not the same thing.  So allow me to illuminate this for you.  I am a card-carrying member of the Cherokee Nation of Tahlequah.  And yes, I can prove it.  I could easily find a question like that unsettling, but instead of going off about the question and why it was being given to my third grader (keep in mind that the slavery question was offered to 8th grade, where the level of thinking expected is much higher), I instead decided to make it a teaching moment.

Many of you have spoken with me and learned about my passion for ancient culture.  That includes mythology from all over the world, theology, belief systems, and the cultures that embraced them and why.  As such, I speak often to the fact that we, in our current world and American way of thinking, which is incredibly…mind numbing… have the luxury of being armchair quarterbacks.

What does this mean?  This means that I spoke with my daughter about the different points of view.  The Europeans thought what they were doing was moral.  They thought it was ordained by God.  The heathenistic Indians were not people, they were only savages and should be eradicated so they could take the land and claim it for the one true God.  Sure, it sounds stupid to us now…  But put yourself there, in the footsteps of the settlers?  You’re human, and you’re afraid, as all humans are, of anything that is different than you.

Again, I’ll let you think on that a moment.

Was it moral?  To the Europeans, absolutely it was.  To the natives?  Not so much.  But even today, what I see a lot of is that natives are not taken seriously.  So in this we haven’t learned a thing.  But we LOVE to talk a big game, don’t we?

So now I get to the slavery assignment.  Perception, people.  Critical thinking skills.  Was there anything right about slavery?  Truth be told, it depends on what side of history we die.  The Hebrews were enslaved in the Bible a lot.  The Jews during the Holocaust were both interned and enslaved.  The slave trade has ALWAYS been a part of human advancement (although the current human trafficking/ slave trade doesn’t show me any advancement, only regression of the mind).

I would argue that while I am ultimately glad the Emancipation Proclamation was enacted, the more I’ve learned of the after-effects, I wonder if Lincoln did not fail the prior slaves.  Let’s look at this honestly, the death toll for blacks increased exponentially in the years following the Emancipation Proclamation, for slaves were no longer looked at as property, and therefore had lost all of their value.  If this statement upsets you, you’re not looking at it from the perspective of the time, you’re looking at it from our current comfortable position all these years and movements later.

America was built on blood.  A lot of blood.  To say anything else is trying to sugarcoat the facts.  However, we also need our kids to make these decisions for themselves, to see for themselves the issues and why these things are so bad.

The assignment was to offer a balanced perspective.  I don’t think there is one.  And perhaps that is also part of the point.  From the eyes of the slave of the time, which we truly can’t put ourselves into, what were some positives that we could attempt to extrapolate?  Even the slaves had a hierarchy within the slave system.  There were slaves who had made it high enough to garner the trust of the owners, some were those exacting the punishments on their fellow slaves.  Whipping them, doing what was needed to keep them in line.

Who was wrong?  Who was right?  At the end of the day, every person is selfish.  Every person looks out only for themselves.  Once in a while we will find common ground and join forces to make a change for the better of society, but once that is done, we have a tendency to forget, and then we as a people move on with life, on our own, apart from those who had helped to shape ours.

At the end of the day, I want my daughters asked the tough questions, and I want them to find the answers for themselves.  ALL of the answers.  The good, the bad, and the ugly.  Because it is only through all of the answers that we find the truth through the lies.

I posted a couple of videos to Facebook earlier.  One about California and their laws during the gold rush era to get paid for Native scalps.  And then the federal government paying all that to California (you know it was as a thank you for doing their job for them, money well spent in their eyes).  The other video was about the nature of mankind and how they divide themselves into Us vs Them…  If you didn’t see these videos, please do.

My goal in all of this is not to be preachy, although that’s exactly how it sounds, but to try and educate.  So go, learn, and educate yourself, and then do yourself a favor and stop getting in the way of your kids learning.  We need our kids to be able to think critically again.  So stop filling their heads with stupidity or PC rhetoric, and LET THEM COME TO THEIR OWN DAMNED CONCLUSIONS.  Let our kids be intelligent, for the love of a future we may never know since we’re already in a world beset by idiocy.

And please, PLEASE, stop being afraid of anything different.  Different is NOT your enemy.

Feel free to add me on Facebook if you haven’t already…  https://www.facebook.com/robert.cano.750

 

The Dark Archer

The Dark Archer is finished and being edited. I am currently, but anxiously, anticipating the cover art for it.

In the meantime, with some minor coercion from my editor who was asking way too many questions, I decided to give The Dark Archer a sequel. This sequel has a working title of The Shadow Cult.

As for The Dark Archer, it will be ready for a July release, so stay tuned as I look forward to my first novel release.

The Suffering

The Suffering is officially released as of the 26th of January.  It’s weird, if I were to be honest, but really cool.

I’m sitting here looking over the book, getting feedback on it, listening to my readers, both critics and fans alike, and I don’t know if I ever imagined this feeling.

You see, it was never about becoming rich and famous, or selling the rights so a movie could be made.  No, it was about telling my story and getting it into the hands of readers who might be interested.  It was about bringing them into my world for a spell, about making them feel something for these characters I poured so much into.  In many ways, it was about nothing more than the creation.

How many of you played with Legos as kids?  Do you remember that feeling of having finished something?  It could have been the set, per the instructions, or it could have been of your own creation, from your own mind, but there was something about having borne something new with your hands.  Do you remember that feeling of elation when you ran, carrying your new spaceship, or boat, or house to your parents, so excited to tell them all about it?

Yeah, this is kind of like that.  Except exaggerated.  Multiplied exponentially.  I’m not sure there are words enough to really do the feeling justice.

And that was just for a novella.  Nothing too big, just something small to introduce my world and bring my readers along to meet some characters.  Now, here I sit, with a finished manuscript for The Dark Archer, a novel which spins off from The Suffering with a character who held a small but significant role in the events of the protagonist within The Suffering.

The Dark Archer is currently being edited.  And as it looks right now, it’ll be ready for a July release.  When I consider the time I spent with The Suffering, I look at this next story with excitement, as it is the culmination of many years worth of work and learning, and it expands the world you meet in The Suffering.  And these are not all that’s planned in this world, as I have already begun work on Reyvyn’s Dance, which is only the first of a trilogy.

I say all of this only to let you know that I’m not stopping any time soon.  And I hope you continue along on this journey beside me.

If you’re interested, come follow me on Amazon.  And if you’re up for a quick read, pick up a copy of The Suffering.  It’s pretty short, but a pretty crazy ride.  https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B0798JC552

Talk to you soon.

Robert.

The Poet – What is Poetry? Part II

“Poets are damned… but see with the eyes of angels.”
― Allen Ginsberg

In the last post, I began the attempt to answer the question, “What is poetry?”  In order to answer that question, however, I first had to define art, for art is all encompassing, with the idea of oral tradition being possibly the oldest artform on the planet.  This, in its very essence, was the beginning of the storyteller, the first trappings of the poet…

We cannot, and must not, look past the importance of the poet when trying to explain what poetry is.

The poet’s chosen medium is pen to paper.  In today’s world, this might be more figurative, but the fact remains.  Instead of choosing to draw or paint a picture which tells its own story, the poet chooses to convey a message, to evoke emotion, or paint their own picture through his or her words.  This is a wonder of the written word.

The creation of thoughts and ideas, the ability to weave a spell with the flick of the proverbial tongue, or pen as it were, is powerful, even within this modern world which is often found to be devoid of appreciation for the poet.  As people, we still require communication, community, and connection, for without these three things, life seems to lose all meaning.  Poetry, through the voice of the poet, offers a means of both hearing, and being heard simultaneously, as we seek the poem which speaks the loudest to our joys, or our aching souls, or for any emotion we seek to elevate in the moment.

Is it the words with which we connect the most?  Or is it through the poet’s exposed heart that we find ourselves with caught breath, anxious for the next word, the next line, the continuance of their message?  The poet dances with the pen and paper, inking between the lines in an effort to release themselves from the burden of the words weighing heavy in their minds.

The manifestation of the poet’s soul, that is what poetry is, in its most raw state.  When we read a poem, we bear witness to this manifestation, we see the poet’s mind, we hear their soul, we feel their past.  As such, the poet becomes the poem, and vice versa.  It is impossible to separate the two.  The poet’s dance with words is meant to elicit a visceral and emotional response from his or her reader.  Sometimes, there is a connection, and sometimes there is not.  The poet’s words, even if fallen upon deaf ears, are not lost, however, for the poem was not meant for the deaf, but for those who could hear.

I have often said that in order for the poem to be fully understood, the poet also needed to be understood.  Often, in critical analyses, the life of the poet, particularly in moments of their highest poetic achievements, is looked at more closely when seeking to understand those achievements.  What was going on in the poet’s life?  What was happening in the world around them?  Was there joy?  Or loss?  These things all matter, and yet, those poems which resonate loudest often do not resonate because of the poet’s life…rather because of the poet’s chosen words.

Depth, then, is not always required.  Often times, only the reader and the poem are required.

I will post Readers – What is Poetry? Part III soon.

What is Poetry?

To start, I believe I will be writing this as a series, exploring different aspects of this question as I move along from one topic to the next.  The end goal will be to find the answer I seek through the journey.

“Painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt, and poetry is painting that is felt rather than seen.”

– Leonardo da Vinci

 

Art.

Perhaps in an effort to define poetry, one must first define art, for poetry is art in written form, and possibly in its purest form.

Simply put, art is the expression of oneself, creatively, through a chosen medium.  It is said that one’s art could be in anything.  We speak of the “science” of things, the idea that something can be reproduced, or recreated, or fixed.  But, in like manner, we have also heard of people elevating a science to an artform.  What does this mean?

I think it is best described in terms of music.  One can teach someone else how to play the violin, the technical aspects of it, how to hold the bow and optimum angle for holding the violin to your chin, the type of violin which might be best, or the strings on the bow.  The music played could also be technical, following a piece as simple as a nursery rhyme, or as magnificent as a Mozart concerto.

So where does the art come in?

The art of the music is not found in the music itself, but in the emotions it evokes.  We can hear Mozart over and over again, played the exact same way, and every person with a violin playing that piece could play it exactly the same way, and so the magic is not found within the technical aspect of playing the music.  Either we will feel because of the music, or we will not.  Either we will get swept up in the wonder of the piece, or we will hate it and never listen to it again.  Here, there is no middle ground.

But what happens when a piece is elevated beyond the technical?  What happens when we hear that same concerto, but with variations in the way it is played?  What happens when an instrument, not originally in the piece, brings the piece to life?  As you read this, you’re thinking of songs you’ve heard, you’re imagining them with different instruments and variations on the tune itself.  You might hear the music slowed, or quickened.  All these things can change the entire meaning of the song.

So what is art?  Is it truly as simple as the evocation of emotion?

Perhaps art is the search for that emotion.  Perhaps art is found within the seeker, as much as in the artist who creates it.  Perhaps art is hidden within the journey.

In order for art to matter, what elements must it have?  Can art be art simply because its creator calls it such?  Or is art in the eye of the beholder, which can and must include the one who formed it in the first place?  I believe the answer to this is that in order for art to be considered as such, it must first be created, and then it must be given its importance by those who seek its truth within themselves.

Truth.

What is truth, specifically within the realm of this topic?  By using this term, what I mean is the truth of ourselves, those elements hidden within us which can only be unlocked by searching out those difficult, metaphysical and philosophical questions the art brings to our minds.  The art may use truth, or it may use untruth.  It might use that which we can see, or touch, or taste; or it might use a story, a parable or tale woven to elicit a realization – your truth.  Perhaps this is why we have such a hard time defining these things which matter the most to life, but are given such a small importance…or perhaps a big importance, but without ever knowing or understanding.

Stay tuned for Part 2, The Poet.

 

 

Echoes of Darkness

The crystal’s light echoes in Byzantine
Clarity, in diamond hues it breathes fate
Into her Phoenician harbors, unseen,
Unkept, hidden near, beyond the ornate.
Her heart a ruby, its shadow is cast,
In darkened hues of crimson void of light.
With Sapphic eyes yet filled with joy, now glassed,
A starry ceiling is her final sight.
Her cries do not echo, the quiet lea
An offering of solitude – her stilled
Soul mirrored in Atlantis’ berth at sea,
Where solace and comfort share in Fate’s will.
She views the echoes from a distant hope,
In desperate crystalline fits of woe.

The Shore Cries – a Villanelle

The cliff-side falls into the sea,
As tears might fall through anguished loss,
And yet she stands, beyond the lea.

In hope her cries might finally
Be heard amidst the foamy toss,
The cliff-side fell into the sea.

And he, bereft of freedom’s plea,
Lay grieving ‘neath his sorrowed cross,
And yet she stands, beyond the lea.

Her heart leaps, sudden jubilee,
A ship, a lover’s joy – pangloss –
The cliff-side falls into the sea

Winds, they echo in swaying trees,
Their movements measured, a mere coss,
And yet she stands, beyond the lea.

Her hair, it blows about, she sees
The quay now crushed in tidal frost.
The cliff-side falls into the sea,
And yet she stands, beyond the lea.

 

Common Measure

Common measure, also called common metre or ballad metre, is a form that follows a simple metrical pattern and rhyme scheme.  However, the form, in its simplicity, lends itself to a gentle sway that is quite musical to the ear, and can be used to great effect in telling a story poetically.

To explain it simply, common measure is written in an alternating pattern of iambic tetrameter and trimeter, with a rhyme scheme of abab, although in ballad form, which is a variant, the trimeter lines are not required to rhyme, and may have a rhyme scheme of abcb.  If unsure about meter, please reference the following link:

https://shadowyembrace.com/2017/06/02/poetry-a-beginners-guide/

This poetic form is an exercise in understanding the musicality of poetry.  What I mean by this is that, when done properly, the iambic metrical pattern, combined with the alternating lengths of the lines, gives a feeling of being on a boat in a gentle breeze, where the waves lapping the hull beneath rock the boat.

When writing common measure (and, indeed, any form poetry), it is important to understand that it is as much for the ears as it is for the mind.  This means that poetry is meant to be recited aloud.  The flow of the lines, and the entire piece, are brought to life when one is allowed to really hear the words.  Those natural stresses carry a forcefulness with them, bringing a subtle but very real power to the piece.  As such, take the time to read your stanzas out loud to yourself, or to someone, much as one might when composing a piece of music, because it helps to play the music so the ear can hear.  Feel the ups and downs, adjust as necessary.  A trochee or a spondee are sometimes very necessary, but again, reading your lines out loud is paramount to achieving your aim.

With this said, I will leave you with a common measure poem of my own, Songs of the Eventide.

https://shadowyembrace.com/portfolio/songs-of-the-eventide/

Thanks for stopping by, and to steal a line from the late great Bob Ross, happy writing!

Robert

 

The Dark Archer

The writing of The Dark Archer, set in the same world as The Suffering, has officially begun!

This book follows Bene, the captain who gave everything for his princess, and his quest to figure out who he is in a world that no longer accepts him as the man he once was, for he is something else now.  Last seen in the epilogue of the The Suffering, Bene’s torment has only begun, and his enemies are of the same shadow as that which created him in the first place…

I can’t wait for you to read about the man whose eternal battle rages on within himself, between that of what he wishes to be, and that of his true nature.