Meet Four Men Who Shine

Jim Portrait Pastels 1

Being grateful isn’t always easy.  Sometimes I want to rail at people, sometimes I am loving and concerned. Sometimes the beast, sometimes the prince.

But being bipolar isn’t a simple state of existence.  At times I wonder what it is about my interactions with others that drives people away.  I feel that most see me as an oddity or worse, believe I am completely, totally nuts which, I might add, may in fact have a ring of truth to it.

You see, I am by nature a hyper-velocity individual, an Energizer Bunny at supersonic speed, who bounces from deep, philosophical and meaningful discussion to rude but funny and sick jokes at a finger snap. When I am asked if I am always like this, my most frequent answer is, “I only have two speeds: 3000 MPH, or unconscious.”  It seems to have always been this way.

My creativity is bound up in a whirlwind.  I can unleash this creativity, but at not too fast a pace because the velocity of my creative process scares other people.

Those few who have seen me tackle a problem know that when it comes to resolving one, I am an absolute pit-bull.  I don’t let anything rest.  For example, I will turn my house upside-down to get a single decent photo good enough to use and of which I approve.  I spend 16-hour days working on a single poem for, if a poem is to be anything worth reading, it takes that long to get me to the point of ceasing to edit the damn thing.

But there are benefits of living in the vortex I create around me.

First on that list of benefits is that, I am sad to say, the tornado that surrounds me weeds out people who can’t keep up with me.  Most people misunderstand my oddness and can’t take the intensity, and I don’t mean that as a disparaging opinion of them, or of me.  As I have stated in a personal profile, some find me an acquired taste that can be sampled only in small doses.

Fair enough.  I agree with that opinion, or, rather, accept it, since there are so many people who feel that way.    And some of them simply dislike me, and find me impossible to tolerate and so promptly run as fast as they can in the other direction.

At least they’re not having a problem with their decision-making process.  I envy them.

Some, well, some are baffled by my gyrations; they see a person who can’t slow down or shut off the flow.  Perhaps they have never met anyone quite as unusual or outspoken and find me an oddity in a good way; someone who lives in a world he’s made so wound up and so tight he could at any minute fly apart in an astounding explosion but somehow manages to hang on by the skin of his teeth and sheer force of will.

Someone that can do what they say they can do and then does it if at all humanly possible to do so.

Someone that doesn’t lie.

Someone with a good heart.

Someone who needs to get these thoughts and express them, get them out of his head and communicate them to those around him, someone hoping to be understood, hoping for acceptance, someone who is in the end a human who lives with his doubts, his fears, his failings, his frailty.

It is amazing in all of this hyper-velocity, hyperbolic, supersonic existence of mine, there are people who manage to understand me and stand with me, or at least not run from me so fast all I can see is a blur.

Let me introduce a few of the guys, those who, in spite of it all, have stuck around. Four men who shine, who try to understand me and appreciate me for who I am and, as a result, are priceless to me.

I’ll be brief (anyone that knows me knows being ‘brief’ for me is of course quite impossible!).  These are some of the special men in my life.  There are other people who I love deeply, too, and who I will introduce some other time but these four are men that bring a wellspring of gratitude and it flows from me to them and to the world.

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Jose, whose friendship is one of the most surprising and most cherished.  When I thought no one would ever want to be near me and was feeling completely out of it, he befriended me and made me see that even though my bipolar disorder is a challenge, there are those in the world who see me as the man I really try to be, a good man with a good heart.  He is someone who became a guide and brought me further into the light of day.  He is profoundly quiet, perplexing, and one of the most wonderful men I know. Jose! Te amo mi amigo!

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Fundi, who is a poet, writer, singer, dancer, historian, activist and one of the men in my life who shines like a nova.  Our discourse is amazing and our communication so valuable to me!  He is not only a treasure to me but to many others who look for authenticity in the world because baby, he is the real deal.  He excites my mind, makes me laugh, fills me with awe and brings out the dancing spirit within me.  Fundi! Nakupenda rafiki yangu!  

 

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Marino, who is many things all rolled up into a singular, gentle, intelligent and sweet human being with the heart of a lion and with a soul filled with delightful contradictions who is very, very special to me. (Marino, Portrait in blue jeans, from his first photo shoot with me.) Marino! Ti amo mio amico!

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My wonderful and supremely talented friend Michael who is a visual artist, a performer who inhabits a terrifyingly fun and incredibly – well, there’s no other word but astounding – alter-ego named Uta Schrecken (first row, right, Uta Feather, a poster I made; photo, Uta Schrecken Portrait No.1, middle row).  He is a remarkable painter (Fundi, me and other friends pictured in one of his oil paintings, bottom). He is someone so dear to me that to say I love and appreciate and ‘get’ him pales in the telling. Michael! Loves bunches!

These men have been in turns loving, frustrating, delightfully shocking, brilliant, crazy and irreplaceable as a result.  To say that I am grateful is completely lackluster in the saying of it.  The experience of them in my heart is a series of wonderful vignettes, a full and glorious pastiche of experiences that few people have the grace and the good sense to appreciate on every level.

I may live in the whirlwind, true, and bipolar disorder sometimes does its best to take from me all the goodness and love that I have and turn it to ashes, but the disorder is not me.  It is merely a chronic state of being that afflicts me in different ways.

Yet I am very humbled because luckily, I do have the grace and good sense to realize that without these men my life would be very, very different.  Each of them shine like a beacon to me.  I delight in them, understand and appreciate them and I know that without them I would simply not be the same man, the same being, that I am.

Whirlwind or vortex, tornado or energizer bunny, those states of being are just who I am, and I no longer apologize for who or what I am.  If I can have men in my life of this caliber, then I must be doing something profoundly right.

 

 

 

 

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