Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Every Lost Song: If You Have Never Been Known

You're born with something missing. Eyes, maybe ears.
One half of your family blames the other. You become a problem. You become a situation. You're not objectified, you're treated like you need to be solved.
You're confused. This environment isn't natural to your brain's own wiring. You see people who seem to navigate it more smoothly. You're frightened, and feel inadequate.
You struggle to learn. You observe everyone and constantly think about what's going on. You try to interpret actions, discern intentions. You're irrationally determined on keeping your head above water, a dog with a bone. You're passionate and emotional and it clashes with your need to be logical in order to survive even daily situations, which seem utterly alien to you.
You come to love puzzles. They teach you about the world. You realize, painstakingly fitting piece to piece, that you can't know anything about a puzzle that moves itself.
You flare up internally, wanting to challenge that thought. You don't lift your head to meet anyone's eyes, but your own eyes harden. You will find a way. If you don't come to understand your surroundings, you resolve to put your feet where you choose to and force your body to take the necessary steps.
This only comes after years of tightly held panic, which always seems to escape its leash. You go through several diagnoses. You eventually reject them all. You need to not be afraid. You know that you won't be so broken looking when you aren't so anxious. You know that inside, you aren't what you look like.
No one else does.
You're labeled a million things: inadequate, irrational, unreliable, ungrateful, liar. All you wanted to do was hug those people but they didn't appear to want a hug if it came from someone with your exterior.
Those in close proximity to you, those who love you, call their expectations by your name instead. They blame the fact that you are not that person on everyone you choose. Arrangements among your family and friends grow toxic and strained. Eventually, people drift away from you. You close your eyes. You want to sleep.
You put on a mask just to make speaking to family and old friends easier. You smile through the tears you don't cry. You used to cry all the time. Your family knows you as a very emotional child. So everyone assumes you're happy when you smile.
You start to realize that you aren't known at all, and you don't know anyone. You want to break that silence. You go looking for people in the strangest of places. You turn to the rest of the world--maybe seeking validation at first, but definitely seeking understanding all along. You want to look someone in the eye. You want to fall in to step with someone else. You bridge gaps that seemed impassable. You start to heal.
Everyone from before firms their opposition against this new turn of events. More and more, you are not the person they call by your name. You start to take off your mask. You take a deep breath.
The water is cold, colder than you've imagined. Everyone you have seen are behind you, traps in hand. Those boxes look so familiar. You start to turn around.
Someone you know calls your name.
You hang undecided. You could be safe. Sad, yes, but safe.
There comes that voice again.
It thrills in your blood, that memory of belonging.
You will be in uncertain territory. You will be searching and unsure and the people who you spent your time around will drift away because you are not like them anymore. But you know where you belong and you will be actively pursuing it. You will feel loved and give love in return.
You keep moving forward.
You look back, and occasionally someone looks for you on the horizon. But you don't go back. You let yourself grieve, because you know that no level of malice dictated the conditions you lived in. You know you were loved, you just weren't known.
You want to open your eyes again, so you do that.
Eventually someone from the shore splashes out to join you. You laugh and hug and cry, and you're not really sure why, except that it feels so indescribably right.
No one knows if you're flying or falling. Sometimes, you do both. But you don't do it alone anymore.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Call me by Name: "... for those who are still looking"

A letter from anyone who has come through the other side to anyone who hasn't.
It is only cryptic because I cannot layer these words with the manner in which they were originally expressed. It is one of the clearest things I have ever written, but the language makes clarity difficult.

Beneath these layers built up by people who teach us what to be, something stirs sometimes. Some old remnant of what I am. If I hold on to them, I could share something with someone one day. If I let them go, I will revert to my nature.
I am not the vessel, as I'd once believed. I am the thing I thought I contained. TO realize it demands a closer, more immediate knowledge of its face and voice. To realize it makes me learn that I don't understand me on some vital level I have no name for. Why? Because you took it away. You took it away from all of us. And we protect these manufactured layers because removing them will make us alone.
It's no trouble to understand the words, but words are an instrument. Words are not the hands which play the instrument. Would you look up and see the player? I've been told that most would have no idea what they are looking at. Robbed of the clean mindset that allows information to impress itself on their hearts all at once, the outlook that makes few assumptions, they can't see something for what it is. They need to give it a name.
Call me by my name!
I despair of anyone ever learning my name, but what alarms me the most is that many can no longer learn their own.
This is the ugly truth that confinement has taught me. It isn't simply being denied motion or choice. It's being denied a sense of self, creating an impressionable creature who needs one manufactured for them.
What am I without the me that was manufactured?
Call me by my name ...
If you realize that other people created a dependence in you, a need to be defined and directed externally, you can at least have the opportunity to try and let it go.
Your name is fundamentally altered, whether you retain enough resilience to withstand the pain inherent in breaking out or not. Your name is an impression of the force which makes you whole, the natural tendencies which temper it or amplify it and now. And now. Our names also say that we have been made once, not born, the way it should have been. Our names contain immense levels of pain, the result of barriers and struggles and manufactured inevitability. No one could call each other by name without being overwhelmed.
This is what humanity has done. Humanity has committed a crime worse than any other known creature ever has.
Call me by my name!
But don't. I don't wish this on you, even though my dearest dream is to watch people being set free.
Do you want to escape?
I'll warn you ... it's going to hurt.
What am I without my name?

Friday, April 8, 2016

A letter to my future children

I have to remember to say this if I have children, so I don't forget what it was like to be in those shoes. I'm not really saying anything unique, just something I mean to keep in mind. I haven't been out of them long enough, but taking the effort now will be easier than relearning everything later. This is why it's not pointless to fight for one individual.

Dear heart ...
An unavoidable problem in giving advice is that we can't really explain the transition between learning something because it makes sense, and understanding something because you've finally lived it enough times. An unavoidable problem with taking advice is that it always works differently on the inside. It's not medicine, it's just a tool. I don't have painkillers for your heart.
The best pieces of advice I ever got weren't like warm blankets, thrown down in to my hole to comfort me. They were ropes thrown down for me to climb out on, but it was like I'd never seen a rope before and couldn't imagine what to use it for. I got angry at the people who had thrown it, thinking they were just trying to humor me, someone throwing a catnip mouse to an exasperated cat. It made perfect sense to believe that my guardians treated me like I was all overreaction and no brain, invalidating the frustration of the hole. And when I realized what the point was, I didn't immediately scramble gratefully out, I planted hands on hips and demanded to know how a plain little piece of rope could be of any use. What was I supposed to do with a really thick string?
It was like I'd forgotten my world and believed the hole was the only place I could be even though it made me miserable. It's why I thought the planet was a hopeless place even though it wasn't. I convinced myself that the entire world was the hole, that whatever I could see from here was only a bigger and more elaborate trap. We just forget sometimes, when we're free, what confinement is like.
That's why a lot of people can't understand that you're sad, they don't really hate you. If someone tries to help you, you fight it, and they get mad, odds are it's not malice. Pushed in to foreign territory, that experience could be confusing, invasive, frightening, or painful, it seems to hurt more than it helps, your guardian looks like a jailer, and the hole seems to shrink with every question asked.
That impression sends the best people over the deep end, you're not to blame for tumbling sometimes. I came to think of it this way though: That sinking feeling, walls shrinking in on me, confusion mounting, hopeless frustration boiling inside, flashes of anger and indignation, were all the bad side effects of a very good sign: I wasn't used up yet.
When I contemplated dying, it was out of sheer desperation and exhaustion, it wasn't because I was done. Eventually you're bound to hear someone's diatribe on suicide, and a lot of them are only different ways to call someone a selfish, weak-minded attention seeker. People who say they've thought about it get it even worse. In those moments we can't fathom their frustration, and they don't get why someone would make such a mountain out of a molehill.
I heard someone say once: "The will to survive will always outweigh the ability to die." My reaction was so cliche, but the first thing I did was drop everything to listen. It was a concert DVD, of all things, that I couldn't even watch. It was Shinedown's "45," which everyone thought was about suicide. And in a way, it kind of is--it's about dodging it. A literal interpretation isn't accurate, but mine was that if I'm still hurting, still feeling so much, still asking so many desperate questions, then I must not really be ready to die.
If outrage, hurt, indignation and confusion are still there, you're still alive. If you're still asking questions, still throwing why in people's faces, still shedding tears, still feeling confined--if you still get up and pace sometimes--even if you lash out, it's not over. It might not be caused by a big problem, it might come from something really traumatic--but it doesn't help to tell you that. You'll know once you're out, because if you were unreasonable enough to fight what looked impossible, you're smart enough to understand.
And you do have the strength to get out.
I'll do my best to throw you a rope, when I see that you're trapped. I'll give you the time you need to find it, figure it out, believe it in the end. I'll be waiting, even when you can't find me, for you to take hold and start pulling yourself up. I'll climb down to you to give you a hug and stroke your hair all the time, even though it might sting when I climb out and leave you there.
There's more than one hole to fall in to. This may happen again and again. You might need to fight this fight until you can't count them anymore.
Humans frequently give one another, and other species, no choice in this matter. No one throws those people a rope. Those holes are so much worse than all of mine combined ... but it's still why I do what I do.
So I'll say to you what I've silently said to every trapped creature, human or not, regardless of the trap's nature.
When you get out ... it will be so good to see you smile again.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

On nature, respect, conviction and contradiction

A wandering outpouring of emotion, hypothetically addressed to a particular creature, became a reaffirmation of why there is nothing wrong with my contradictions, and by extension others' as well. My only hope, in posting this, is that someone might relate, that someone might participate. (The you fluctuates back and forth, but I hope it's not too confusing.)

I don't see potential anymore, because I'm looking at you.
No, I don't mean that the way it sounds ...
Everyone has stolen yours.
Oh music. What kind of heart steals from a song?
In a perfect world the strength of my love would help you see the place where you belong, one more time ...
In a perfect world, I would stand beside your prison, a hand on the window. I would look you in the eyes and you would see my earnest desire to help you, rather than another person there to objectify you. I would promise your dwindling spark the highest honor in a language that you would know. I would rally people to your predicament with the sound of your name.
I would be a friend of yours. They mocked you with that name, didn't they?
Did you know? Did you know they could obliterate one that they called friend?
But it's not a perfect world. I can't speak a language you know. I can't communicate my determination with my eyes. And if I could, I know it would be cruel, because I can't give you even one second that you have lost, and I certainly don't have the resources to give your last days to you. If I could communicate that to you, you would be absolutely entitled to mock my idealism, to call me out on hurting you with hope, to lay bare the shortcomings of a dreamer. I would take it, too--because you are greater than me, and because you would be right.
Love does not rewind time, in fact, nothing does. It seems like such an obvious thing to say, but who doesn't wish, at least once, that impossibility would smile on them? Who doesn't want to witness a miracle?
Deep down in our hearts, we are all unreasonable creatures. The closed-minded reject honesty and respect, and the open-minded are just individuals, holding hands in a long human chain, struggling against the tide. And as for the rest, I haven't the faintest idea, because they are usually the quietest.
I dare to believe one thing though. We wouldn't wish for miracles if they never happened. We couldn't miss something that had never existed, even if it only existed in thought. Sometimes miracles happen inside of us, and it's up to us to give our all to realizing them.
There's no shame in not accomplishing the miracle, musical one, but there is shame in discovering one and never trying to set it free. It's a waste to find a miracle and keep it to yourself. You clung to things, I'd imagine, because experiences where nothing was demanded of you, where events were yours to dictate, were probably your personal miracles. I don't look down on you for that, you deserve those.
I dare to believe magic is real. Maybe not the way that some people think it is, though. Magic is a product of the heart. Magic is a product of the soul, the abstract, the unreasonable dreamer demanding that we grasp a single radical idea: Science may give us answers, explanations, and insights. But science can reveal the magic in the world with startling clarity. Science, when viewed with endless wonder, is inseparable from magic.
It makes no logical sense to deny the system that supports us. As they say, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. A creature's power is directly proportionate with the responsibility inherent in wielding it. A parent is responsible for protecting their child's youth, but not responsible for the child's decision to mind it. A random individual, entering that child's life for a second, is probably more responsible for anything they are connected to, by choice or by circumstance, than they are for that child--but priority is no excuse for abuse.
People like to study one side of a coin and deny the other, and this utterly baffles me. But there could be an explanation. Humans struggle to understand that things which create a paradox are not made invalid simply because they contradict each other. All the universe is a place of dichotomies, like yin and yang, but despite that, there are no absolutes. It doesn't make any sense. But it doesn't have to. Many people don't seem to understand that things which make no sense still deserve the respect given to things that do. There seems to be a common belief among humans, stating that things must make sense to us individually. If that is true, it's made all the more dangerous because it's so unconscious.
Integrating that in to our worldview becomes possible when we understand that, by default, we don't have the capacity to make sense of it all. Life is a fickle, contradictory thing, too fluid to control, too powerful in its randomness to harness. Living in close proximity with a being that could overpower you at any moment, but chooses not to, drives this home acutely. Just because you can break down the processes of your environment with mathematics doesn't mean that you suddenly hold the key to control. Regardless of whether something is a rule, a greater force, or a creature capable of choice, when we intend to use it we still need to accept its guidance or its limits or its nature. And the step beyond that one, when it comes to beings, is accepting their rights.
Now, I do advocate for those who can't make their own voices heard, from nonverbal autistics to dolphins. But that doesn't mean that I'm suddenly going to turn vegan. Maybe it's because attempting to understand the nature of others forces me to attempt to understand my own, or maybe it's not that complicated at all. But I think, I am an omnivore. It's just as natural for me to eat animals as it is for me to eat plants. No, I don't deny that science says we don't naturally eat large quantities of red meat. But we still eat both, and have historically eaten both.
I would like to only eat meat and dairy that comes from free range farms, or animals which died a quick and humane death, but circumstance forces my hand. I live on SSI, and until I gain a skill set which society respects, I probably will stay there. I've touched on the problem that blind people have in finding work before, so for this purpose I'm only pointing it out, not delving in to it. It's going to be difficult, but difficulty hasn't stopped me in some time. This is the same person who is about to move for a seventh time in under four years, because I'm not willing to settle for confinement, physical or intellectual. I accept the fact that everything from circumstance to personal limitations may keep me from having the resources I would need to respect my environment the way I want to, in more than just thought. But who hasn't wished that impossibility would smile on them?
People might not take me seriously because I only take part in social media activism. I expect it, and I understand why. When you can do more than another person, or when you've already tackled the hurdles they're facing and won, it's hard to respect their belief that they can't do more than that. I intend to work tirelessly toward doing more, but I don't expect anyone to believe it. There's a certain arrogance in being a human--pride, if that's too strong a word--and I won't claim that I've conquered it, but I'm not arrogant enough to ask people who don't know me at all to believe in me.
Actually, don't believe me. Challenge me. If you've seen people in my situation do more than I am, demand that I do more too. I'm not demanding you notice me at all, but if you do and you give me more than a passing glance, don't give me leeway where it comes to defense. Make demands of me, challenge me to push the limits of my abilities and resources. Don't smile and pat me on the head. Don't sit on the sidelines and shake your head. Tell me, "That's a start, but you still have more steps to take."
Growing up, I was actually a very timid child. I had intense emotions and intense beliefs, but people gave me almost constant criticism that wasn't constructive at all, and I let it get to me. You'd never know it, heck, people who grew up with me didn't know it. I was free with my loud voice, my gesticulating hands, my extremely overinflected speech patterns, my volatile emotions, and my incurable case of foot in mouth syndrome. Among those who knew me, on and offline, I became that hopelessly unreasonable, helplessly emotional, pathetic, unreliable, demanding teenager. Inadvertently, I gave the impression that I thought I knew "how the world works," that I considered myself to be some sort of world weary poet doling out advice and unique abstractions. I didn't mean to! The plaintive refrain of people everywhere, having just escaped from those years. I gave myself a complex, I eventually thought I was that person. It was just as ridiculous as it sounds.
As I've started to come out of that shell, ironically, I've grown more cautious. How should I word this? How should I express that? How can I best exceed this expectation or break out of that mold or stand up for these people? My kind of strength took shape in an uncompromising way, even though I'm aware that in a way, all my interactions will hinge on compromise. In defending someone, especially if humans can't understand them, I take an uncompromising approach. I believe that my defense isn't enough until I've forced myself to face the worst that the subject faces. I demand that I mean what I say more than anyone else, because no one else asks me to strip off my defenses and expose myself to the realities of what I'm speaking out against. By the rules I operate under, if I can't look at the worst of your pain head on with armor removed, my defense of you is not meaningful enough for me.
I shifted from hypothetical letter to the world to myself because I'm just repeating my perspective, I'm only expressing the concepts that I've observed and the things I feel strongly about. I'm not putting this out there under the belief that what I've gathered from my experiences constitutes a guide to life and interaction. I don't even think there is a single right way, and that's something we struggle with. I think I'm safe in assuming this much: Equilibrium, for many of us, is completely upended by the idea that there are questions that don't actually have answers. That's a personal struggle of mine, too--I want to gleefully pry sense out of my surroundings. Well, I include people too, but I come across as if I'm launching an attack when the truth is that I've recognized a challenge in someone, and I want the mental stimulation of it. I have broken people that way ... lost many a friend that way ... been isolated and shut out for it ... but instead of giving up, the negativity becomes fuel. How do I best balance my need for challenges and novel experiences against the damage I can cause just by chasing them?
But the way I think of it is this: There's a common, detrimental assumption that certain issues are questions by nature. I operate under the assumption that some of these questions are actually veiled challenges and forked roads. I've come to the conclusion that some questions are meant to be continuously answered. Some questions are meant to be lived, with solutions that resemble active expressions more than they ever resembled written answers.
This is why I will tell anyone that my stance on captivity is that it is an unreasonable practice, detrimental to both captive and observer, yet I don't always repeat every anticap opinion. This is why I have a collage of very liberal and very conservative beliefs. This is why I will speak out against the negative effects of organized religion and still respect the religious individual. This is why I think of myself as a very spiritual person, but I put importance on science, research, and logic. This is why I can put such stock in science, and sometimes remain skeptical of parts of the scientific community. This is why I love to fight, yet I'm almost quicker to protect. I'll be volatile enough to cross lines even in the eyes of volatile people, but I'll rush to hold someone who's hurt, even if they've hurt me before. I'm independent, but I don't mind dropping things to care for someone even if there's no personal return in it for me, even if it's a dirty or dangerous job. This is why I treasure my abstract, emotional, often unreasonable heart as much as I stick by my demanding, analytical, and logical tendencies. This is why I can unapologetically live a life that seems contradictory to many.
My personal challenge is to continuously answer my questions, to live my solution rather than state it, to reinforce my beliefs in realtime, using my environment--not just what I take away from it. When stumped by a different perspective, or confused by what seems like a nonsensical viewpoint, I remember this: "I center my mind, not my world. This experience, this viewpoint, or this issue, belongs to all of us. If it had a center, it certainly wouldn't be me." I try not to live based on one decision I made long ago when I knew less, or one defining moment which depends on its context, or guidelines written by people who could never relate to everything that now entails.
I won't apologize for the fact that you've become a part of my heart, even though I never knew you, never even saw you, heard your voice only in recordings. This is how I love you--with an unreasonable reaction, but with hopefully reasonable actions. This is why my feelings go beyond respect and in to the highest regard I can give, undiminished by the healthy dose of fear I have, a contradiction I believe any creature so powerful and complex deserves.
This is how I can embrace contradictions, even though many people would attribute that kind of outlook to an unreliable character, one who can't stand by their claims and beliefs and choices.
This is how I can put my mind out there, and still try not to preach. A world where everyone was like me would be a terribly boring one, and I'll admit that I welcome the stimulation of a good healthy disagreement. I live by the conclusion that conflict makes progress--if you never had something to overcome, you would never need to change anything.
This is why I think that the impossible has its own potential. Science has broken down so much for us, but unexplainable things happen constantly, good and bad. How has Tilikum lived for thirty-three years in his environment, or Lolita for that matter? How does a person live in to their forties when expert consensus said they wouldn't see their third birthday? How does a tornado fling the remnants of a house more than a mile away and leave a flimsy shed which stood feet away untouched? How does a holocaust survivor bond with one of their former guards? How has Yellowstone not wiped us out yet? Why are we hundreds of thousands of years overdue for a catastrophic meteor strike?
This is why I accept responsibility, but embrace nature. I have to draw my own line here, and I think everyone should have that right. I might eat meat, sometimes regretfully, because I am an omnivore. But I do not want to cause undue suffering just because the human sense of individuality can get blown out of proportion.
This is why I can accept and even respect things that make no sense to me, despite the fact that I'm endlessly curious. Even though I want to break things down for the sake of learning itself, I try to find wonder in the puzzles I can't solve. Some of them aren't to be solved by anyone, but that aside, frustration will only make me aggressive and unreceptive. I can't avoid it all the time ... not even most of the time ... but I make the effort.
And this is why I want to be pushed and challenged. Demands make me try harder. The unreasonable makes me all the more determined. I will not live out my life as some armchair twitter activist. I don't care whether I fade in to obscurity or not. It's not recognition I'm looking for. As much as I welcome challenges, I challenge my environment and the people in it to challenge me. It's not unlike a game, but it can be a deadly serious one. I respect people who stand toe to toe with me, and I give due deference to those I can't stand toe to toe with. I respect people who win against me--not because I'm all that, but because every one of those people has taught me a valuable lesson.
If you've stuck with me this far, you'll know by now why I drew this out.
Thank you, even the ones who never respond, for the exercise you inspire me to do. Sure, logic says that I'm going nowhere the way I'm living. But I don't accept that. I don't accept defeat. I will not die in some dark studio apartment, relying on taxpayers for my continued health. I will not end my life having abandoned people who go unheard.
If someone shoves us, we can retain our balance if we're moving forward. But if someone shoves us, trying to stand still just gets us knocked over.
Remind me of that, if I become rigid, if I stop listening ... if I let someone down.

Monday, April 4, 2016

For the one that got left behind, Pt 2

Contributed by a dear friend of mine, Cam Dawson.
Dedicated to Tilikum.
For captive dolphins everywhere. Including orcas.

What would become of a creature that was eternally free? That was given nothing more than the gift of life, and nothing less than the expectation to live it. The ability to trust that the world is not a lie, and that there is nothing more or less than what can be perceived, given and taken, expressed and understood.

What would become of a creature that was demonstrated pain for a reason that could not even be imagined. Immeasurable pain for immeasurable time, for how does a creature calculate the degree of its suffering or the lengths it has endured, when it has never needed to be bound by the constraints of time?

What would become of a creature forced to be a piece in a game it was not even playing, for the amusement of the faces and voices it did not understand. Such fear, such horror, and for what?

What would become of a creature left to the confines of its own mind. Screaming to be heard over a storm unseen, unheard by those who made it? Left with its own thoughts, its own songs. Watching as its world grew ever smaller, and its songs ever shorter. Without rhyme, without purpose. The cold, bright fist of fear. Anguish, terror, becoming rage. Rage is not intelligent, but it works. What would become of a creature who had to learn that?

What would become of a creature if it came to find that the controllers of its storm enjoyed it? That this was no misunderstanding, that this was no lack of communication? What would become of a creature that tried, and tried, and tried to reach out and convey its fear, only to reach the smiles and beckoning hands of people who knew that it hurt. Oh yes, let me drive the knives in deeper, oh yes, let me use you for all you are worth, because that is all there is. What you are worth to me. What would become of a creature that came to understand that it did not exist?

I know. That creature would be you. I need to look no further than your haunted eyes, your wild desperation. Even though deep down you know it is all too late. That what is said is ignored, and what is done is done with enough deliberation to do it to thousands. It's all over. It's all over.

What become creature need to sleep. Leave me, leave, leave, need sleep, need sl...

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

My letter to the world's nonhuman people

This was originally written under the assumption that any of it could be communicated to dolphins, if their intelligence was of a type that could understand and if we could ever break the communication barrier. It could be modified for other nonhumans, though, if that time ever comes.

I will be here, in any capacity you ever need me to fill. I will not take your independence away, and I will not shy away from your decision-making capability. I will love these things about you, honor them as they should be honored. I will not belittle you by assuming that you cannot communicate with me. You know what you're saying, and I will not insult you in taking your right to say it. It is humans who hold back progress, and I will keep this in mind when trying to interpret your actions. I can't make elaborate promises, but if I am ever in your presence, I will let you challenge the limits of my understanding. It will not be easy, these things never are. But I will cooperate, not lead. I will let you guide me and try to offer useful feedback through hopefully helpful methods. I will not try to dominate what should not be dominated, especially not by the likes of me.
If we ever open communications and I am fortunate enough to be part of that effort, I will do my best to tell you this. I am not your equal. In some ways you are far superior, but in some ways we have the upper hand. But I would like us to be able to treat each other as equals. I will try to let you know the details of that from our perspective, but I will not use my advantages on you unfairly. I will behave respectfully if the chance comes, and I will let you control my access to you. If I can say it to you, I will back up every word with visible reinforcement. If I can't, I will express that reinforcement anyway, letting you be the deciding factor on what I become to you.
To me it all comes down to something simple: You don't think like me, or like any of us. It is insulting for us to assume what you are thinking. Your thoughts range on entirely different topics, and they function based on different primary senses. The way you conceptualize things has been shaped by an utterly dissimilar environment, and the areas you have to focus on are far different from the areas we need to focus on. This is what people need to understand, bearing in mind that you do feel, perhaps very differently, and that you do have motivations, perhaps very alien ones. And if it never comes my way, I would hope that, at the most, someone who has that chance will see this, and keep it in mind.
If a day comes that you hear and understand this message, I want you and whoever has cooperated with you to know how very proud I am. Reaching that point will have been a long, difficult journey. you are honored, know that for certain. My greatest dream is for that experience to happen, whether I'm involved or even alive to witness it.
Love is a funny word. By the time we can tell you this, you'll probably have gone over it. Love is neither temporary nor permanent. It is bright and hot, but steady when it's treated respectfully. Love can exist between human mates, or family, or friends. Love can be far harder to explain than that though. I would call what I have for you love. It is respect, an intention to be mindful of your perspective. It is compassion, a desire to see you safe and to help mend what people have done where that is possible. If you have too much doubt to heal the gap, I will not force it on you. It is the belief that you deserve space, and the willingness to listen if you dictate it. It may sound silly coming from a smaller creature, but it is protectiveness, a need to speak out on your behalf, a willingness to put myself in harm's way for you.
I could expound upon it all day, but I will leave you with this. You can depend on what I feel for you if the need arises. The emotion fills me up completely, it is bigger than me. Sometimes when the moon floats in front of the sun, it cannot block off all the sunlight. It is very similar, my mind is not big enough to cover what I feel. It is a deep sense of warmth. It isn't something I can choose to feel or deny, but I wouldn't reject it if I could. It will not go away even when you cause damage, even when you meant to. That said, my regard is yours.
In the spirit of the effort expended, the dead ends, the frustrations, the milestones and breakthrough experiences, the embarrassing misunderstandings, the perseverance and curiosity and drive needed to pull this off, the joy and relief at each baby step, I salute you. Here's to your potential, and here's to ours too. In a manner of speaking I am casting a vote. This is one of those funny things that only humans might do. It isn't based on rationality or observation, it's based on an unflagging determination that I know we both share. This vote means I believe in you and I am not ashamed to let it be known.
I write this at a time when you are seriously disrespected. Right now my race is looking down on you, many of them use you for their individual benefit. And some of them always will, unfortunately. I don't believe I can move the world by wishing. But as you know, what we mean occasionally has a funny way of changing itself from thought to reality. My vote's on you, and people who believe in you too. Let's beat the odds. There will be others like me, I may never be there. Work with each other, not against each other. We share a joy in challenges, and we know that about one another. Let's stop dreaming about it, and meet this challenge as a team.
I am Iyana. I am a human woman who cannot see. I rely on sound and touch to navigate in an environment designed for people who can see. I try to balance a need to keep things realistic and accurate with a passion for music and the abstract. For example, I want to break communication barriers. I want to use reason and logic to do this, instead of using the emotional reactions most people have inadvertently hurt you with. I take in knowledge and new experiences like a body takes in sustenance. But I am awkward and sometimes uncertain, and my emotional reactions get in the way of what I mean. But I'm loyal and I'm earnest, even if I'm sometimes so clumsy. Despite that, I'm willing to take a hard road and a heavy burden. Responsibly, honestly, and mindfully. Even if I can only offer minor contributions and even if I can't contribute at all.
That's a part of the center of who I am. But I think I can speak for all of us when I say that the offer stands even if you reject it. You see, we have more than a few things in common. Our entire race is divided, but some of us love you. It doesn't mean we can do anything, but it does mean we will do everything we can.

I wil fall, but I will not lie down

People like you are killing people like me.
That sounds like a pretty overdramatic statement. And in a way, it is.
Every day, I wake up in a studio apartment and hate myself because I live on government assistance. I'd be in school, but I've been running around the country trying to find an area with affordable living, good public transportation, a good college and a well-oiled support system. I've been doing this for four years now. I've been in three states, and this will be the seventh time I've moved since mid 2012. Each time, I leave almost everything behind. I own no furniture. I have only ever owned two pieces of furniture. I am infinitely grateful for the goodwill of other people who looked at me and saw someone who still had a chance, instead of a worthless piece of trash.
I watched my ex submit his resume hundreds of times. He had a business degree and prior work experience, with glowing recommendations. He only ever got one response, from someone who wanted to give him the graveyard shift, which would have required him to live a life with almost no family contact or social interaction. The only reason he went through this is because he is blind. Of course, it's illegal to discriminate, but all they need to do is cite some other reason. They can even invent one. It doesn't matter. Discrimination laws have barely put a dent in the practice. And they never will, because humans are human. I've had six different career ideas rejected outright by rehab departments simply because they didn't want to take chances on a blind person. And in comparison, my experience has been an easy ride.
But that isn't to say I've given up. If I had given up, I would have stopped moving. I would have laid down and died in some rundown studio somewhere. I haven't, and I won't.
If I ever put on a pair of headphones, all I hear is a monotone electronic voice rolling out a constant stream of bad news, hatred and condemnation with less inflection than you would give a comment about the weather. If anyone dares to show support for another living thing, or share a survival experience, the internet immediately piles on them in an attempt to destroy them. Because support is bad,help is bad, survival is bad, progress is bad, healing is bad.
But I am going to be here, because these things are not bad. I am going to wake up every day. I am going to make this decision consciously every time I go to sleep. I am going to think of the millions of abused people and creatures in the world and swear to be there for them in every capacity I can. I will resist the mentality the internet perpetuates with every fiber of my being until there are none left. I will not be extinguished, I refuse to be, not until someone does it forcefully or natural causes do me in.
Of course, I know that if this is ever seen, it will be attacked with the same fervor that any similar statement receives. People don't like it when their motivations are so easily discovered. They don't like it when they are transparent. Deep down, most people who became terrible weren't always so. Often, harsh reactions come because people do not want to admit to what they are doing and why. Many humans would ruin the things they love before admitting they're wrong, let alone things they don't have any attachment to.
But there are plenty who don't. They stay quiet, intimidated by the loud noises. They huddle in the corners of their mental confinement, whether self imposed or not, dying for just one supportive touch, but too afraid to speak out. There are people who are genuinely proud when they reduce humans or other creatures to such lows. But there are people who are proud to build your confidence and strength back up. There are people who are proud to love, proud to fight, proud to stand up.
We can't rescue everyone, human or nonhuman, from their predicaments. But we can hold a hand out to all of them. We can sit beside you in companionable silence. We can offer moral support. We can love you intensely, and we are not afraid to show it.
I've fallen down more than a few times, been pushed down often. But every time, I've gotten up. To those we can't save, we offer the safety of a presence that will not attempt to alienate or manipulate you. Some humans are too broken to hear this, and nonhumans can't understand what we're saying.
But if I could tell the world one thing and be certain it would be understood, it would be this:
For those who have no place in this world, and for those who are still looking,
I am here. Unconditionally. I might fall, but I will not lie down.