Spiritual Focus

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As many know, it’s obvious that 50% of my arms are covered in permanent ink in a variety of beautiful colors and tattoo designs. When I first started getting tattoos, I only had one goal: strictly and ONLY get American Traditional style tattoos. Most of them can be viewed as a old school, cartoon styled form of art which I can attest to. Personally this style of tattoo has drawn a huge interest in me not because it’s closest associated with those in my music scene, but for the beautiful art and design of them. Primarily the only reason why I got them through flash designs is because of the liking and appreciation of the artwork itself even though I constantly was getting shitted on for it not having absolute meaning… However, out of the 13 tattoos I have, 2 in mind do have significant meaning that I hold dear to.

I have been giving this a lot of thought when deciding what next tattoos I’ve been wanting to get. Aoife urged me to at least get something with a value behind it, so, I took her suggestion into consideration and went through with it. Through her suggestions, I got the most beautiful tattoos I have: Mandala Flowers.

I got these tattoos located on both of my elbows and man.. Did the life leave my soul during the tattoo process.. These flowers hold more than just a specific design and factual meaning behind its realness. Simply, I got these not only because they are beautiful, but for more of a personal wellness. As researching on these flowers, I learned that many religious and spiritual interpretations are shown at hand. For someone who has lost faith in religion, I however did not lose my spirituality (or at least I hope I haven’t). Through my interpretation, these flowers heal through a spiritual and mental barrier. They bring me back to a sense of reality and the focus. These last few months I had felt that I lost myself in a disconnect; with being as an RA, school, the people that I love, and myself. I was wearing a coward’s mask written in “courage”. I was launched into a sea of depression and fell under the cracks of mental slavery. I still feel that way in most cases; however I will be getting the professional help that I need which I will talk about later.

I’m sure that Mandala Flowers are personal for those who seek it more than just the art form itself; I do give credit that its spirituality defines the deep focus of life. They are personal to me and only a few select people I hold close to know some kind of meaning behind it.

 

“Let a garden and a set of flowers grow between yourself and whatever Hell you encounter. Give yourself the honest reminder to heal even in pervaded spaces of harm and apprehensiveness. In the love that you live without, remain untethered and give that endearment effortlessly.”

The best reasoning I can possibly at best explain about these pieces of art.

These are inspired by my own mental health. For my favorite band, Counterparts whose lyrics resonate with me.  For my everlasting healing process that is a work in progress. This is for my Spiritual Focus.

Lyrical Genuis’

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It is irrefutable to say that we all have some kind of outlet when it comes to shit hitting the fan. Arguably I have many outlets where I am able to keep my emotions at bay; hiking, talking a walk, the sporadic glorious house of gainz getting the sickest pump, spending one on one time with the people I love and care about, the list goes on and on and on. My biggest outlet from what I have learned in search of myself is music and live music (shows/concerts). I can easily say that I have attended many concerts and like to say that my genre of music is diverse as the Bay Area. But what really gets me moving is one of my favorite bands in the extreme music scene, Counterparts. To them, I owe them a lot for not only the sick breakdowns I mosh to in my apartment and at their shows, but most importantly piecing the words that I can never say..

Counterparts is a band primarily from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Who knew that one of my favorite bands would be from the land of Maple Leaves, eh?

Anyways, I have seen this band 6 times throughout my 5 years of going to shows. The first time I saw them was in Oakland 3 years ago at the Oakland Metro, one of my favorite venues in the Bay Area. The second time last year in San Francisco at the Great American Music Hall, the third and fourth time were back-to-back Vans Warped Tour dates in the Summer of ’17: Mountain View and San Diego, fifth time in San Francisco at the Regency Ballroom 2 months ago, and lastly, the sixth time in Berkeley at the Cornerstone Brewery just a few days shy of May. Seems like that I’ve caught these guys for a good amount of time throughout those 5 years, right? I have taken an interest in these guys but not as much as I thought I would now.. Man, I wish I was a dedicated fan during the 2011-2014 years..

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The only reason why they are any relevant now in my life is because of the real, honest, accessible lyrics.. During my state of depression from January to even now (to be honest), they have been my go-to band for whatever bad feeling I was ravaged by. Most of my statements are pulled from their lyrics that all the band members have wrote in their songs. The confiding feeling reassures me of why I feel the way I feel and that someone who has gone through Hell, feeling the same feelings as me, gives me the gentle reminder that I am not alone in this world even though I feel that I am most of the time. A majority of their lyrics deal with a dark imagery of self-worth, the loss of loved ones and oneself, loneliness, abuse, the list goes on. Ironic that something so lyrically negative is my catharsis in my own world of chaos? It sounds like they can be the contributing factor that triggers my emotions, but they’re not, it’s more than that. Yes, whatever they have in their songs can come off as negative and depressing but I’ve learned to be ok with it because of the emotional tension and anger it feeds off. The raw energy is just what I need.

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Counterparts holds a special place in my heart. No matter what sound they drift to, the shows I have attended and will attend in the nearby future, Counterparts forever. Hats off to these lyrical genius’.

“I understand you.”

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I have to give credit where credit is due in all this so I figure why not elaborate on that and discuss about it as best as I can?

Anyways, I took this picture on March 30, 2018 at a small field at my school, Cal State East Bay. I remember this day pretty vividly; the sun sucking so bad due to the heat, the cherry blossoms in full beautiful bloom at our school’s small Japanese Garden, and my subjects natural beauty.

I aimlessly asked through social media via snapchat if anyone wanted to be my subject for an impromptu photoshoot that day. I figured it would be worth a shot because I desperately wanted to take pictures of our school’s Cherry Blossoms before they die out. The first person that was able to get back to me in a quick time was my good friend Jennifer Diaz who I have mentioned previously before in one of my posts. As we finished out first session of the shoot at our Cherry Blossoms spot we moved over to the small fields at these yellow flowers to take a different set of pictures through a different outfit change ironically matching?! They came out really well and to both our liking which I was extremely happy about.

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After our finished set Jennifer wanted to treat me to something good so I figured why not?! It gave us some time to catch up more on life. I did not expect the car ride from school to Castro Valley to change my whole perception on how fragile life can be…

In March when I was away in Portland, I told her something that I used to do 8 years ago, and through that 5 years ago, I decided that I no longer wanted this messy part of me to triumph over my own health. Jennifer had asked what made me want to tell her specifically her and to be completely honest, I have no idea why? I know that I have told a few select people on this, but what I told her is more than just being 5 years harm free: my own self-worth and self-hatred along with everything that was inside of me. Jennifer has always been this kindhearted person that EVERYONE I know admires, always smiling, happy, and throwing the raunchiest, offensive comments that would make my circa 2011 during the scene/emo days guyliner cry off. Knowing her for over a year I made the grand assumption that she had a pretty great life with great people associated around her. BOI WAS I FOOLED.

This is what really caused a deal of great pain that day: Jennifer went through an inexplicable state of heartbreak and mental slavery through a handful of months. She debriefed me on everything after I had told her my own story. Debriefed how she went through the most hard and painful months that I could never imagine to happen in such a season. I will not go into detail about her struggle but from what she had told me, I was genuinely pained and it left a heavy heart that whole weekend. At one point we were both crying driving our way through traffic to CV in the car wanting to hold her and tell her that  “I understand you”. “At the very least, I understand you.”

Eventually everything lightened up and we were back to our normal selves making offensive comments, that day was heavy but with a good outcome. One thing is for sure in all this: I truly believe that this photoshoot of an afternoon has brought Jennifer and I closer than ever. Never would I imagine that this beautiful person could go through so much strife and toil.. I guess seasonal depression is all year round and it can happen during any season. I believe that hers hit the start of summer, feeling as if no direction or sign was being given to her when she desperately needed it the most. Eventually she has found the drive to seek the right help and I am happy for that. Still a work in progress, she is doing absolutely better.

Jennifer, please know that you are a one in a million type of person with a heart of pure gold. You’ve endured so much pain and loss in a few short months and I am so happy that you are still here with us. I know that it hurts sometimes and whatever state of depression you are in just know that you have wonderful people that are willing to go out of their way and be there for you. I will always be here for you no matter what and I WILL ALWAYS support you in your decisions in hopes that they will make a positive impact not only for the community but most importantly for yourself.

You got this in the bag and you have held on. I have nothing but the utmost respect and love for you.

Just know that I understand you. At the very least, I understand you, Jennifer..

I love you so much.

– Josh

Difference Between Hell & Home

The reason as to why I started to do this is because my lovely friend Jennifer shared with me her blogs about some of her stories. Stories that warmed my heart, gave me the laughs I needed after a rough day, even a story that pained me in unimaginable ways. I have nothing but the utmost love and respect for her.

So, with that being said, I decided to dive into this. personally.

The reason as to this title as stated is more than one of the albums from my favorite band but also just how I have been feeling for the past 8 years of my life. I wouldn’t say that I had a horrible life; however I have made horrible decisions within those 8 years. I started doing drugs and drinking alcohol at the age of 13, an age where the “Hell” has started, and through that, I felt like my whole life was changing. My attitude desperately needed the adjustment for sure, the people that I associated with, the overall mental slavery that existed within me. This was the age where I also started to cut my own skin, and reflecting back on that makes me irrefutably sick and regretful. I have many regrets to say the least. Regrets where they would make many people sick.. I’ve almost killed people, I have hurt them in ways that would make people sick and I long for the feeling that I have the ability to take everything back.

However, every sporadic while, I do manage to convince myself that I am a good person. As worthless as I am, I know that I still serve some kind of purpose in life, but the minute I come in to contact with something that gets the best of me, something that takes me back to those disgusting memories, all I feel is hate, shame, regret, and anger never knowing how to shake off that feeling..

I wish I could justify a reason as to why I do the things I do and think the things the way I think; something to pin the blame on. If people are able to read each others hearts may they never know the blackness of my own.. But the majority that rules over those small moments of warmness and goodness of my heart, surely and truly, I am not a good man. I am not a good friend. I am not a good best friend. I am not a good son. I am not a good brother. I am not a good person. I am a criminal and a slave to my own mentality and in all honesty I’ve learned to be ok with all that.. A person that is told that they hold a good heart who has also done sickening things can’t settle inside the same being.

May everyone that I love and hold dear to my heart never know the life of my own chaos. May they never know the heinous, twisted, and cruel things I have done. May they never know the darkness that instills within me. May they look away in disgust and protect themselves from the sight of my deception. May they never know the liar and coward I am masking in courage and happiness. If they do, I do not blame them for the stranger that I will become as their outlook on me or hating the very thought of me.

No matter the war that has ravaged my mind, in the midst of all the chaos, I long for a Home. A Home that sets the boundaries of my own comfort. A place where my own anxiety, depression, any sick thought that can be casted away. The Home of San Francisco during a clear night. The Home of lights guiding me and gravitating towards the right direction. Even the simple Home of being held close in someone’s arms. But everything seems so far out of sight and too far gone. Though these can only be lived through few hours, on select days, they make me feel alive and warm even if only for those blissful moments, reminding myself of the little things in life even if the world has given up on me leaving me exhausted.

For those who have gone through their own Hell and have found their small measure of peace: Home, I am still aimlessly searching and I am happy that you have identified the Difference.