Out there in the darkness, something is circling us. something cold, something terrible. It circles us, and sometimes, it takes one of us.
Punks tend to have a short lifespan. We die early, through overdose or violence, through neglect or disease. And we die of suicide. It happens. Way too often, it happens.
It is patient, this terrible thing, it waits. We huddle together around the light we created for one another. The thing hates the light, but there is just too much darkness, and the terrible thing whispers, and sometimes, one of us, we listen.
We come to punk in self defense; in many ways it is a reaction, a response to a hostile and uncaring world. Hardly anybody comes to punk as an adult. You don't come to punk because you are well adjusted. You come to punk because you're fucked up. You're fucked up and angry and young, and then you hear a song, and the sound sounds like you feel, and the words speak like you feel, and you realize that someone out there feels like you do, someone out there understands. And you go to a show, and there in the sweaty roaring darkness you get it, you understand that you're not alone, and you are never the same after that.
Sometimes it speaks to us, the terrible thing, and one of us wanders off into the darkness, and we get lost out there and all we can see is the dark and all we can hear is the voice of the terrible thing and even though our friends are near and the light is close, we get lost. Sometimes we find our way back, sometimes we find the light again, we find our friends and our songs, but sometimes... Sometimes we don't come back at all.
It is tribal, in a way. We show our affiliation in our tattoos, in our piercings, in our hairstyles and our T-shirts. As we age, these things tend to fall away; we get older and we begin to wear our Mohawks on the inside, so to speak. We may look normal to a degree, but we know who we are, and we can sometimes recognize each other in the world. We nod at each other, we say I like your shirt, we go to shows and we stand in the back and maybe we have a house, a mortgage, but this is home, here with our brothers and sisters, strangers, people we have never met. This is home. Here we are never alone.
When one of us is lost, we cry, we grieve. When one of us doesn't come back, we get scared. We know the darkness, have wandered it ourselves. We know the voice out there, know that terrible thing that encircles us, that waits so patiently. We hate ourselves for losing another friend, for allowing them to walk off alone. We hate ourselves for wondering who is next, which one of us is the next one to be lost? Is it someone close? Is it me?
We lost someone recently. Someone close, someone too fucking close, one of us. It hurts, and we grieve, we fear, and we cling to one another and hide our guilt, our shameful failure, drown our regret in songs and booze. And I have to wonder, have any of us really made it out alive, or are we all just wandering in the darkness, riding out the inevitable, just waiting for the terrible thing to take us... I hate it, but I can't help but wonder: who is next? Could it be me?
...and out there somewhere in the darkness that surrounds us all, the terrible thing, it waits for another one of us to wander off, away from the meager light that we have created for each other, waits for one of us to forget that we are not alone. Out there in the darkness, it waits and it whispers, and maybe it is just a matter of time, maybe it is inevitable that another one of us will hear the voice of the terrible thing and we will listen, and it will take us.
...and the worst thing, the coldest, hardest truth is that the world barely cares. Tomorrow will come and the sun will rise and we will all get on with our lives pretty much the same as before, the only real difference is today we all have one fewer friend in this world.
So I have been thinking for a long time about why I write things and why I feel compelled to share them, whether it is about some kind of validation, or about my ego, or whether it is about art, or something else entirely. I don't fully understand why I do it but I hope it makes a difference to someone, somewhere. I hope I reach the right person at the right time. I don't know. I know I write things that I want to read, that I want to exist in the world, and sometimes that alone is enough. I hope the things I choose to share are meaningful to someone. I hope that I am not just seeking something meaningless, I really do.
Anyway, Comment if it means something. And as always I am reachable via email: dissent.within at gmail.com and on Twitter @RDPullins and I check Facebook for a bit after I post things, and then generally avoid it after that.
Give more than you take, love more than you hate, show grace and mercy and kindness to the world. We need you.