Say it With Your Chest.

It’s taken an ironically long time for me to put these thoughts onto paper.  In one of his skits, comedian Kevin Hart says that his uncle from prison tells him to “say it with his chest.”  While the skit itself is humorous given Hart’s exaggerated gestures and storytelling, it got me thinking about what the phrase itself could be twisted to mean.  Simply put, I feel like the phrase can mean something along the lines of: say something with your heart, say something you truly believe. And that’s why it’s ironic that it took me so long to write these thoughts down; saying something that I believe shouldn’t be so difficult.  But it seems like there is a part of me that has adapted to adapting, shifting what I say to fit the situation and please the greatest number of people.

I never wanted to communicate like this, yet I was always aware of it.  I never saw it before, but little more than half a year ago I realized that my writing was merely eloquent on the surface, flowery without the substance.  One of my closest friends, with whom I haven’t had much communication after graduating, noted this and brought it to my attention.  At the time, I sheepishly acknowledged it and admitted that yes, that was a way of viewing my craft.  But what part of my craft was actually craftiness?  What was written on paper eventually became a part of my being, a bit of my personality, as well.  I was a shape-shifter with a quick tongue, eager to produce whatever statement was necessary for the progression of whatever goal I had in mind at the time.  As I wrote more and more, I also found that there were two paths which writers take: eloquence or efficacy. And then, there are the rare few capable of rendering both a unified entity.  However, the more I grew as a writer, the more I despised my method of relaying my message; I certainly wanted to be the master orator with an exhaustive lexicon at my disposal when I was young, but the “me” of current times desires to speak with simple effectiveness.  While my peers often enjoyed my spewing out of various lexical minutiae, I grew frustrate with my inability to do anything else.

But that’s another topic.  To bring it back to the original point, I merely wanted to say what I felt without any sugarcoating or deception or alterations.  I wanted very much so to “say it with my chest,” but I had abused the social shield of tact and guile for so long that I lost a small part of my ability to be real and accessible.  I became like the ones I despised, incapable of doing anything but giving out compliments and sticking to the easy topics.  This, for lack of a better expression, alter ego was justified in my mind; when I tried to truly speak what I felt, I bore loss after loss, heartache after heartache, until I declined to ever utilize that side of me again.  Saying what was on my heart at the time was a big reason, I guess, why I lost one of my closest friends; and yet I can’t help but wonder if the condition of my heart was not a part of the issue.  Perhaps too quick to “love,” my heart convinced my mind of the convictions that I felt inside, making it so that I ended up living “500 Days of Summer,” loving the notion of the person rather than the person herself.  Why I would go back and open this box of memories is beyond me, but I felt like I should dwell upon it a bit longer before the presence of college blurred my past.  To this day, I still feel about the same way as I did back then, and I question if it is because of my attraction to that image of a person that keeps the feelings going.  I’ve prayed every day, asking for God to show me the way, but He keeps showing me closed doors.  Through thoughts that occur, advice from my close friends, and various other devices, He shows me that what I need to do now is just believe in Him and His ability to create the best for me.  Though it’s difficult for me to talk about much else I believe, it comes easy for me to talk about the ways that God exists in my life.  The people He draws me to, the thoughts He places in my mouth and at my fingertips, and the life He breathes in me each morning, these are the things that I am capable of speaking about, and these are the things that I can say with my chest.  After all, He is the only one occupying the cavern of my heart, illuminating it and urging me to press on with each new day.

Waiting for a Train.

Recently, I took the Amtrak from the Goleta station back home to L.A. (it was for Mid-Autumn Festival, got to have those moon cakes).  Along the way, I sat next to no less than four different people, all hailing from a different nationality and bearing different personalities.  As part of an experiment, I acted differently with each of them, and to my surprise, neither I nor the passenger beside me felt uncomfortable.  Normally a fairly reserved person around those I don’t really know, I took the initiative and struck up a conversation with one of my fellow passengers and when a new passenger sat down, I would change personalities.  A feeling of liberation took place when I discovered a single, important truth about daily interactions with strangers – they don’t know you.  They have no prior knowledge of your background, your likes and dislikes, your religion, your, well, anything. All they can rely on is the meager hope that you turn out to be someone agreeable and that you allow them to carry on with whatever business they were tending to before boarding.

This got me thinking and an interesting thought came to mind.  Having recently started college, I am in pretty much the same predicament.  With the exception of what they can glean from my past likes, status updates, and basic info – and that’s if they have me as a friend on Facebook – they have literally no knowledge of the person I was in high school.  It’s interesting, in a way, that simply riding a train pushed me to this realization that I am capable of starting a new chapter in the entity known as “Ben Fan,” but it has served to be a great aid thus far.  I would like to apologize for any incoherent thoughts or misspellings that are uncharacteristic of me, but I’ve also learned that college homework is no pushover.

The main thing is, the timid, the shy, the cowardly of us, we’re all waiting for a train.  The phrase has taken on a whole new meaning for me; “waiting for a train” simply means to wait for the right opportunity to that amiable, successful person you see inside of you but fail to exhibit.  And with college, I believe the train has already arrived. All that remains is you and your ticket to ride on the journey of change.  All aboard.