Plato's Play-Doh

Play-Doh for the Mind

Tag: life

Who is Russell Lehmann, and Why is He Writing?

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Who am I? I’m just a creature put on this cruel planet, who somehow continuously finds a way to survive. I have autism, bi-polar, OCD, depression, anxiety and have overcome an excruciating battle with anorexia. All of my major accomplishments in life have come in the forms of self-improvement and overcoming my disabilities. Yet, is this what I want to be known for? Honestly I am still trying to figure that out. I would love to make a living writing, but everybody tells me that earning money as a writer is a lost cause. Hearing this makes me want to write even more, for I never get tired of defying the odds.

Perhaps I’m just a lost soul. I just want to be happy. My dream would be to write for a world renowned magazine such as National Geographic, Scientific American, The Economist, The New Yorker, etc. I would love to stop living on disability payments and support myself. I feel like after all I have been through, I deserve one of the aforementioned positions, for my experiences and struggles have molded me into an extremely smart, insightful and profound young gentlemen. Then again, who am I to deserve anything at all? I am already blessed with an amazing family and an unbelievably generous and understanding friend. I am beyond thankful for who I am as a man, and I lay my head on my pillow each night with the satisfaction of always doing the right thing and holding myself to the utmost standards of integrity. Is this not enough gratification for a tortured soul such as myself? It should be, but then, who am I to settle? Should not I strive for more? Not solely for the benefit of myself, but to spread hope and inspiration to the furthest corners of the world?

As to the question of why am I writing, to be honest, I don’t really know. It has proved time and time again to be a great coping mechanism for me, but I also enjoy the power that comes with writing. The power of creating new worlds, educating the masses, supporting the oppressed, disproving the skeptics and giving a voice to the unheard.

Perhaps someday I will end my pursuit of having a career as a writer, whether I accomplish this goal or not. For now, however, I will continue my quest in an effort to better not only myself, but those who I have the privilege of calling my readers.

Mr. Halley

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Edmond Halley was an English astronomer, geophysicist, mathematician, and meteorologist recognized for computing the orbit of Halley’s Comet, which later took his name. In 1692, he proposed a theory that the Earth was hollow. This poem is written from the view of Satan, who resides inside the earth.

 

Mr. Halley

Year 1692 is when that blasphemous buffoon

Revealed the dwellings of man’s mind

A song of sorrow tune

 

In hollow earth his thoughts aren’t welcome

I put forth fire on my everlasting

Souls that were in tombs

 

He shall not last in man’s own head

For their psyches reside with me

And slumber in my bed

 

My home, he thought, is bright as day

He knew not it is the flames

Feeding on likes of him for play

 

The expanding air of my own singed lives

Releases to the world above

Making for the glacial lights

 

Dare not his ideas flow

Through the river of the blood

Ensuing to the float to those unbeknownst

 

Down! Down! I’ll come to pluck him from the sky

21 grams smothered in a fire

So hot the blaze will cry

 

Soon, not enough, he will accompany me

Into my dear bed

Filled with minds – temper free

 

Hesitance not taken to his own wit’s dying out

It is his time for him to be tucked in

No more spews from his shriveled spout

 

Invincible in future times of the past and present

I shall remain the captor of all thoughts

Mr. Halley, you will learn your lesson

 

Copyright ©2014 Russell Lehmann

Enough

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The following poem was written by me back in 2012. I had been going through an extremely tough time for many years and just wanted to give up. Every day I took solace in a certain line from Edgar Allan Poe’s  The Pit and the Pendulum: “And then there stole into my fancy, like a rich musical note, the thought of what sweet rest there must be in the grave.”

Perhaps I didn’t want to die, I just did not want to keep living.  However, I have always prided myself on the strength of my character, and I knew that better things were to come, whether they arrive in a day, a month, or a decade.  My time here on earth was far from over.

Still, as Poe’s quote stirred the machinations of my mind, helping me to picture a place without pain, so did writing poems.  It felt good to know that if I wanted to, I could end all my pain.  However I knew that I would never sit down at the table where this option lay.

 

Enough

 

Synapses, neurons, are vital to life

But these crucial facets are detrimental to mine

Ablaze all the time with thoughts that bind

My mind to the chair, with the sponge wet and primed

 

An explosion of thoughts, a cacophony of sorts

Render me helpless, as I crumble once more

Expletives are shouted to these notions I abhor

But they only grow stronger, for winds make the fire roar

 

These unrelenting ideas have started to persuade

My once innocent mind to believe what they say

I used to fight back, but now I just lay

And accept the torment that I have come to obey

 

I’ve waved the white flag, I have no more strength to persevere

I’ll go down with this ship, the water feels so sincere

I look down from this cliff, into the abyss I do not fear

For when I take this last step, my mind will be cleared

 

©Russell Lehmann 2014

The Man at the Window

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Saturday, November 22, 2014 was a very rough day for me. I was questioning my life, my potential, my future. I was pissed off because I have lived such a mentally excruciating life, with very few good experiences to speak of. I was sick and tired of going head-to-head against myself, with a brain that was beyond fucked up. I was angry, I was sad, I was confused, but above all else, I was hurt. I’m such a great guy, with so much to offer this world, and yet, for some reason that I could not wrap my head around, I was being punished. Why? Every day I pour my heart and soul into becoming the man I want to be, going to battle with my disorders that some may say have already predestined my future. I aim to be that intelligent, funny, kind and loving man who is full of integrity and who stops at nothing to accomplish his dreams, but that Saturday I felt like the universe had it in for me.

And then I experienced a moment I will never forget. It was late at night, the downtown air brisk and cold. As I was walking to my car, I noticed a shady figure moseying around the parking lot. I was alert and cautious as I sat down in the driver’s seat, keeping one eye on the whereabouts of the mysterious character. Once I was in my car with my doors locked, my gaze followed his every step. “What is he up to?” I asked myself. “Probably nothing good”

The man slowly approached a store window, and started to peer inside. I immediately thought that he was casing the place, but when I looked closer I noticed that he was looking into a bakery, its window showcasing their freshly made bread. The man had his hands cupped around the outside of his face, his breath fogging up the only obstacle between him and a good meal. Once I realized that this was a homeless man in need of food, my mindset changed immediately. I dug inside my pockets trying to find some extra cash to give him, but to no avail. I desperately wanted to help the man, but I had no means of doing so. I watched him gradually take his eyes off the loaves of bread as he slowly started to walk away, with his head down and his hands inside his pockets.

I soon drove away, contemplating what I had just seen. Within minutes I broke into tears. I felt like a little bitch. Who was I to complain about my circumstances? Here I am, a smart, healthy young man who is very financially comfortable, with a great family, friends and an amazing girlfriend. I’m in the prime of my life and I have so many things going for me. On my drive home I came to understand that the world is my oyster, and that I am capable of doing anything I set my mind to. Watching that man sorrowfully walk away from food he was unable to have broke my heart but gave me a huge kick in the ass. I have it better than 99.99% of people out there, and it’s about damn time that I start acting like it.

That night I made the decision to reach every single goal I set for myself, no matter what obstacles may be thrown in my way. As one supremely insightful soul once told me, “You can do anything you want. You underestimate yourself.”

Oh, and I’ll be sure to keep some extra cash on hand for the next time I come across a person in need.

The Premature Burial

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He was a man of mighty words

He was loved throughout the town!

He preached to the needy herds

When in their sorrows they drowned

 

He was a man of many years

But his soul was so young!

Yet he could not help but fear

That his time here on earth was about done

 

He was a man in fast decline

His physical essence was about gone!

The crowds waited in line

To declare their “so longs”

 

He was a man now passed on

For his body was so cold!

Yet his soul stayed strong

And never left its mold

 

He was a man now entombed

For the grief was so strong!

There was a feeling of disquietude

As he was lowered under the lawn

 

He was a man who was now resting

In such a pleasant peace!

The people put forth their blessings

To the disappointment of his soul, for it was not yet deceased!

 

He was a man all alone

Now all alone in the ground!

Yet unfeasibly he uttered a moan

While his eyes looked around

 

He was a man now alive

Brought back from the dead!

Hi soul had survived

Helping to keep his heart fresh

 

He was a man stricken with luck

Yet in unison with misfortune!

For he was now forever stuck

In a box of retention!

 

He was a man now hoping to be saved

But he had to come to terms!

His future had fatefully been paved

For death was quickly approaching with yearn!

©Russell Lehmann 2014

Broken Souls

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Molested by the utmost disgraceful thoughts. Subjugated by authority who thought they knew best. Disparaged by contemporaries. These are a few characteristics of a broken soul. Nay, perhaps these were just the characteristics of my broken soul, for one man’s problem is another man’s pleasure.

Regardless, broken souls are everywhere, although I have never been able to relate to one. However, I did see two movies this past year in which I saw myself in both of the main characters. Albeit they were somewhat fictional accounts, comfort and resonation swam through my blood in such a manner that my body was pulsated with the calming vibrations of the interconnection of the human race. For the first time in my life, I was able to fully and completely identify with another person’s struggles. Alas, I will never meet these people, for they were just actors acting out scripts in front of a camera. Nevertheless, I have to say, witnessing someone go through the same struggles I have dealt with felt good. REALLY good.

Might this intertwined feeling of mine, that of consolation and relief, be a result of instinctual selfishness? Who’s to say, that’s a discussion for another time. For now, follow me as I delve into the two characters that helped me feel not so quite alone.

The first character made me realize that we all have our routines, however some become empty burdens rather than a functional categorization of life. Melvin Udall sticks to the same exact schedule every day in order to not upset himself. Rather, in order to not aggravate his Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. He hates being touched by anyone, is afraid of germs and performs rituals in order to prevent any danger that might come his way. He frequents the same restaurant every day, eating the same breakfast at the same table and eagerly hoping to be served by the same waitress. If something unexpected happened during Melvin’s daily routine, than all hell would break loose. He would become increasingly agitated and uncomfortable, and lash out at others around him. Melvin Udall was, in essence, a broken soul.

Melvin was the first person, fictional or real, that I ever found myself relating to. I used to have the exact same routine every day, and if anything put my routine in jeopardy, I would have a mental breakdown. Growing up, I absolutely hated to be touched by people who I did not know, and I would wash my hands over and over and over until the water ran red with blood. My rituals included everything under the sun, from locking doors to flipping light switches to retracing my exact walking patterns to moving my jaw in precisely the same manner with every bite of food I took. If I was strong enough to deny myself permission to perform such rituals, my mind would become overwhelmed with disturbing thoughts, such as my parent’s being lit on fire and then dismembered. I could not, for the life of me, liberate myself of these thoughts. That is, unless I began to perform my self-degrading rituals again.

As I observed Melvin’s slow but eventual progression into recovery, I felt as though I was watching myself through the eyes of an individual who had also traipsed the wallowing depths of Hell. I felt exultant for Melvin, while feeling grateful and joyous that a certain stranger could relate to his own personal hardships. You see, I was this stranger, because not only did I find someone whose actions were the exact representation of my own, but I also found, inside myself, that lone observer that I have spent my entire life waiting for. That one onlooker who says “I see a piece of you in myself. A piece that has defied all odds. A piece that obliterates any obstacle in life. A piece that, although born flawed and defective, has turned into an astonishingly exquisite specimen.”

The second character offers a glimpse into how I conducted myself when I was a boy. Charlie Fineman’s soul was broken after his wife and daughters died during the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Charlie was once a sociable and successful dentist, however five years after his family died he is but a shell of his former self. He suffers from PTSD and is a withdrawn social outcast, all the while being judged due to the fact that his actions differ from the norm. When he does traverse the terrifying, carnivorous jungle of civilization he keeps to himself, hiding behind his unkempt hair while blaring his favorite music into his headphones. It is extremely difficult for him to communicate with others, and he takes solace in his house by playing video games in the dark. Charlie Fineman was an extremely promising being whose potential was being devoured by a broken soul.

Watching Charlie aimlessly toddle his way through life pierced my heart as if it was a pumpkin being carved by an overzealous child on a cold and rainy October night. I sobbed throughout the majority of the movie, tears streaming down my face and neck until they became one with the wrinkled shirt I was wearing. I realized that I used to be Charlie. I used to be a shell of my former self. I used to be victimized because of my odd behavior. I used to hide under my hoodie and blast music into my ears to drown out my terrorizing surroundings. I used to have a broken soul that ate up every last ounce of my sweet, innocent potential. Perhaps worst of all, unlike Charlie, I knew what kind of capability and aptitude was bestowed upon me, yet it was eclipsed by my unreserved fear of the horrors of the outside world. I had been beaten down and stepped on so many times in my young life that I was excruciatingly petrified of trusting and depending on anyone outside of my family, and the notion that you can make it through life in this world by yourself is an immense fallacy.

Melvin Udall and Charlie Fineman both redeem themselves at the end of their respected movies, which was yet another reason I could relate to them. I am becoming the man who I have always yearned to be: a thoughtful, honest being who is determined to accomplish his goals and who is strong enough to persevere through the darkest of hours. A loving, caring individual who is exceptionally understanding of others and their afflictions. A man who acquires his intellect through great erudition, and who takes tremendous pride in his intelligence, for he now knows that knowledge is the one thing that can be given to you, but can never be taken away.

I assume that by now you are quite curious as to what the titles of these movies might be. The first movie, starring Jack Nicholson as Melvin Udall, is As Good as It Gets, while the second movie, starring Adam Sandler as Charlie Fineman, is titled Reign Over Me. I will always hold these two films in high regard, and I am exceptionally thankful that I stumbled onto both of them. Although my soul is no longer broken, from time to time I still wage war with my inner tribulations. At least now, however, I have two individuals to think of when somebody tells me that I am not alone in this fight.

No More

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4,026. I have spent 4,026 hours staring at my computer screen waiting to find love, and it hasn’t gotten me one damn thing. I have no friends, okay? I have no social life. I take my college courses online and I work at home, so where the hell am I supposed to meet a woman? I have tried so many times to immerse myself into society and make friends, but every single time it blows up in my face. The harder I try to put myself out there the worse I get hurt.

Perhaps the most infuriating element of being lonely is that people don’t understand how truly devastating and detrimental it is. The pain that stems from it is excruciating. My soul, the very essence of who I am, frenetically writhes as it is cast aflame by the smoldering remains of what my life could have been, what my life should have been, and is stoked by what my life is.

I collapse on the floor and soak the carpet with my tears multiple times a week. I become so enraged that I have to keep myself from literally tearing down my house with my bare hands. LITERALLY. I oftentimes think about putting a bullet in my brain, and wonder at what sweet rest there must be in the grave. I pray every motherfucking day that I’ll meet someone who understands my pain, for I have never met a soul who can relate to me. I suppose this is what keeps my heart beating, because although my life has been absolute shit, I somehow believe that one day I will encounter somebody who can comprehend my fucked-up life. Somehow, someway, I believe.

Since I was 14, I have wanted nothing more than to be in a relationship. Maybe this is the reason that I have spent 4,026 hours (the equivalent of 168 days or 5 ½ months) scrolling through profiles on dating sites and blindly gazing at my inbox to see if I receive a message.

I don’t date for fun. I date as a means of vetting a woman who might be compatible with me, in order to form a relationship that blossoms into something meaningful, something magical, something…beautiful.

As I have already mentioned, I have no connections to the outside world. Therefore, five years ago I took the desperate dive into the shallow pool that is online dating. As a result, I have come away with more head wounds then I ever thought imaginable.

In the years that I have been a participant in online dating, I have gone on dates with dozens of women. It is an exhausting, grueling and arduous practice. To always give every ounce of effort I have in being a gentleman. Always opening every door. Constantly paying for every dinner, movie or other event. Never letting my date walk to her car alone, even if it was a horrible date. Regularly offering my jacket when the woman seems to be cold. At all times initiating the first text to see how their day has been, and yet after all this I seemingly never receive any reciprocity. It’s a full-time job, for the reason that, unfortunately for me, I take this shit seriously. As I said before, I don’t date for fun, I date for substance.

If I am to be completely honest with you, every single woman I have gone out with has turned out to be beyond superficial. To add texture to such a rather audacious claim, allow me to lay bare the performers of this circus I have been trapped in.

 

  • Emma: After having a great first date, she told me that she didn’t want to go out again because she was gay, which she made me promise not to tell anyone. One month later I saw a photo on Facebook she posted of her and a guy, with the caption “I love my boyfriend SO MUCH!!!”

 

  • Angela: She broke up with me, just to text me a week later saying that she wanted to get back together. I texted her back, but was completely ignored. She went on to text me every month or so with such messages as “miss you” or “come on over”, which I obviously never responded to.

 

  • Chantel: We were dating for six weeks when I asked her to be my Valentine. Her response: “No thanks. I don’t see a need for such a holiday. Plus I don’t want to be committed right now”. She never spoke to me again and was in a relationship two weeks later.

 

  • Camille: This woman had a knack for ruining plans. We dated for quite a while, and at one point she had canceled on me four times in a row. So, to make things simple, I invited her over to my place. “I’m really looking forward to it!” she told me. I spent the whole afternoon making my house absolutely flawless and texted her to let me know when she was on my street, which was supposed to be any minute. She texted back “OMG! I totally forgot about tonight!” We never spoke again.

 

  • Candace: We talked over coffee for three hours on our first date. During our conversation, she told me how she absolutely hated it when people purposely ignored her texts. Our date ended, and she told me that she would like to go out again, and I agreed. She never again responded to any of my texts, calls or emails.

 

  • Seven women made it quite clear that they wanted to form a relationship with me, only to go back to their ex within a matter of weeks.

 

  • Nine different women have canceled a first date, a few of them more than once or twice. Some of them gave me a day’s notice, some an hour notice, and some notified me after I had already been stood up. Great, thanks for the heads up.

 

Online dating has become ridiculously polluted by egos, drama and dicks (literally and figuratively). Women will create a profile just so they can get more followers on Instagram. They state that they are by no means looking for a relationship, but that you should message them anyway. I assume they sign up for online dating just to boost their pride, to see how many guys will drool over them and ask them out, even when they are obviously not on the market.

If you are an average-looking woman, expect to receive around 50 messages a day from guys who just want to hook up, and be prepared to receive some unwanted pictures. All of this leaves guys like me, guys who are truly looking for a relationship, almost no chance of finding any success, and yet, I can never seem to delete my profile. Don’t ask me why, but even though I have been to hell and back enough times to accumulate frequent flier miles, I am still an overwhelming optimist, and I always tell myself that tomorrow will be the day when the woman of my dreams creates an online dating profile.

But no more. I am writing this today to tell you that I am deleting my dating profile. I am succumbing to the old adage that true love only comes to those who are not looking for it. Instead of spending hours a day searching for love online, I am going to start immersing myself in public once again, with the hopes of making connections to the outside world. I need to broaden my horizons and expand my worldly experience; I need to take my mind off of finding love and in its place focus on finding individuals who are genuine, grounded and admirable.

I need to stop looking for love, and await the moment when love starts looking for me.

 

My Standards Can Go to Hell

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I am a man who takes pride in having the utmost integrity, who cherishes the fact that I am incredibly understanding of people and their situations, who strives to be the best possible human being I can be, who reveres the reflection he sees every morning in the mirror. I am an extraordinary man, but where has that gotten me?

The last true friend I had was a kid named Ryan, and due to a number of unfortunate circumstances, that friendship ended when I was eleven. The following twelve years I blossomed in solitude. No friends to go hang out with, no pals to get into trouble with, no girls to develop a romance with. I have never been accosted with peer-pressure, for I never had any peers. I’m sorry to say that I never experienced any of the joys of growing up. No parties, no hilariously drunken nights, no make-out sessions, no goofing off in class. I have grown up alone, with only my thoughts, wishes and ideals to accompany me. Damn those ideals.

I would like you to do me a favor. Picture in your head a young boy in a glass box, watching the world go by, yet unable to hear anything besides his own thoughts. That young boy was me. Without any primary, firsthand knowledge to take into account, I created my own version of the world. One that I thought would sync with my own standards and expectations on how people should act, behave and feel. You may call this arrogance, naïveté or immaturity, but I prefer to be called Russell.

Now, come along with me as we fast forward to the present. I have just recently, within the past six months, begun to break through my glass box in an effort to become a member of society, endeavoring to actually live my life, and not let the world pass me by. I have attempted to go on dates, to make friends, to participate in social activities, to push my astonishingly heavy boundaries. And what has come of these attempts? I’ll tell you what.

I have been stood up, insulted and played. I’ve been ignored, lied to and left hanging. I have been discounted, overlooked and tossed aside. I’ve been deceived, ridiculed and mentally defaced. I’ve been trampled on, spit on, chewed up and spit out.

Above all, however, I have been hurt. And do you want to know what the worst part is? I pride myself in adhering to my values, principles, morals and ethics, and yet I am the one who always comes away limping. I have oftentimes wondered what it would be like to have no standards, to only care about myself and to squeeze every last drop of joy from a situation, even if it means giving the finger to others.

I have come to realize that as I grew into the man that I am, with no contact with the outside world, I put upon myself standards that I thought to be the norm. Yet as I slowly walk further and further away from my glass box, it becomes apparent that I far surpassed all expectations of what a “good human-being” is made of, and that I overshot my goal of being a stand-up guy.

There are times when I would love to go back to my glass box, because in all honesty, society has let me down. The amount of human decency in this world has let me down. Above all, I let myself down, because I vastly overestimated the makeup of the fabric of moral integrity.

Before I finish, let me make one thing clear. I know for a fact that there are some incredible people out there. People who are full of love, generosity, kindness and honor. I just have yet to meet many of those people, and I anxiously await the moment when I do.

All in all, I will stick to my principles and stand by my values. I will conduct myself professionally and grant an abundant amount of courtesy to others, even if they do not deserve it. I will live to be the admirable man that I want to be, regardless of where it may get me in life. I cannot and will not change who I am, for my ideology is ingrained within me.

And so I say to you this:
My standards can go to Hell, but I will be with them every step of the way.