It’s where it all started. Full circle. 5 years later the Orchestra stands, bent but never broken. Side ways, but strong. Old, but perfect. My old friend. True & brutally honest. Dust on my hand, as my calused palms drag upon the faded red cloth chairs. Row after row, higher and higher the 5 story auditorium rises, until the dark slowly starts to cast a blanket over the last few seats. Seats where we have sat in so often, as our skeletons play sad songs from the broken strings from our past. Perfect harmony, perfect motion, and perfect sadness. Dark, empty, but ever so bold. Too bold and honest for most, for most don't enter, only those who truly want, and can accept their past can make peace from this Orchestra. My feet stick from the salt water on the ground, as broken strings lay next to broken promises, promises that held dreams oh so tight, only now to lay out like an old rug that runs up the once lit up isle. I am back, and it feels ever so good. The bright light from the outside world creeps underneath the exit door, as boards and nails do their best to block the sun. Black walls, filled with a black stage. Broken chairs & fallen wallpaper sob like so many who enter this closet. Passed the coats, passed the boxes, there lies a door, a door that leads to a place I found back in 2010. I’m glad you can join me once again. Join me as our journey continues. The next chapter may begin. But first, let’s go back before we move forward.
2010, I needed a place like this. A place where I could face my demons like a man. I place that shed no shame, but bathed me in guilt. A place that would introduce me face to face with the skeletons that kept me up all those past nights. The boogie man under my bed, as smoke and coke chased me around the nighttime life I called hell. A world of frightful tales, amongst the worst of devils. Regrets from my childhood haunt me; decisions I have made lay me awake, as what if’s wrestle me to the point of depression. What I have created today takes me high, where I stand now is a dream world, one of beauty and honesty, but entering the Dark Orchestra is a must, for it keeps me grounded. 2010, I was going through a very hard time, one without saying you can relate to. Slamming bars, chugging coffee, and yelling on the platform wasn't enough. I needed something to yell at me, something to slam me down and give me a rude awakening to the person I had become, and the person I was. I needed the truth, one not sheltered by caffeine and weights, but real, horribly real that could help me grow to the man I always saw myself becoming. 2010, I sat down in the back room of Cal Strength, & began to write. It was weird…I started to write about this thing called…well…The Dark Orchestra. Where it came from…I will never know to this day. But boy, I am glad it came to me. Without it…. who knows who or where I would be today. This is my 5 year reunion of my blog, today I write again after a year to give thanks to something that connected me to you, you the reader, & hopefully through my writing helped you along the way as well.
I continue to slowly drag my hand over the stage and music stands raised up high like a skinny robot, as my walking feet creek the hardwood floor. A projector plays old videos from being a little boy all the way to my early days at Cal Strength, slamming bars at Sac State, flying to the American Open under Hassle Free, long chats with Ben Claridad, and long training sessions with Coach Jackie Mah. Scraping change for monster energy drinks to split with my wife, all with happy smiles on our face. Not a care in the world besides training. No cares, for all my skeletons at this point in my life were locked away and forgotten in my long lost closet door. Now sitting on the stage, feet dangling down as if I was a kid in a tree, now reminiscing about moving across country and throwing weight at squat racks at MDUSA. Epic YouTube videos cast a small smile over my face. I shake my head sometimes to see if it was all just a dream, but no…I was truly a part of so much good. I was truly a part of so much greatness.
Gold medals and bomb outs, missed teams and made teams, friends, enemies, brothers, and sisters. The scratchy projector screen above the stage continues to play a timeline of my life, as if it was waiting for me this long year I have been MIA. What happened? How did I become the man I am today? I walk the stage and throughout the maze of isles and seats with more confidence than ever before. I have come along way with my wife by my side, staying off by the exit door as so many memories catch me by surprise. We have accomplished so much; we have failed so much. I have changed, but this Orchestra hasn't. Still hungry, but at the same time, satisfied with my hard work. Hard work…something that sounds so simple, something that rolls off the tongue…something that is so hard…something that still must be performed.
A young, ambitious kid lifting weights for the love of the sport, and the world the sport lives within. Community…something I finally found back then. Acceptance, pride, attention, something that felt as warm as the sun on my face. I walk amongst this stage as my skeletons start to come out from the dark, cellos, violins, bass, saxophone, & pianos start to come together like life has a way of doing. I sit. I listen. Half my body covered in dark, half in dust, as sad music from my far & recent past keep me humbled and in check. An odd understanding comes forth, giving me pain, while turning it into strength. Sad songs at first, morph into songs of truth and fortune, breath and lungs, dreams of better places and untouched grounds, as fog circles my feet, and dark captures my head. My white eyes stay up toward my songs that play, as my chin points low, as thoughts interact with the music. The best part about the skeletons is they have a way of relating. You see…after a few songs your skin melts from understanding, admitting, seeing, and finally accepting. Your white bones become strong and loud, your white eyes turn to black, as your nails fall like leaves. Your clothes become nothing to you, so pure, so honest just this once, just this minute, your true feelings are the only thing that consumes you. You my reader, you my fellow friend, who sit next to me tonight, you are now turned into a skeleton. We are now skeletons. Nothing but bones that can be seen right through. Nothing to hide, nothing to fear. Skeletons of the dark are nothing more than our own mirror.
I can truly say that I am more of a man that I was last year. More mature, wiser, and more understanding on how this society works and turns. More keen to human behavior. Not as trusting, but more trusting in some situations. Still growing, still trying to understand, still playing my violin as a skeleton…no matter how much success I create, the Dark Orchestra keeps me straight. How far I have come…oh but how far I have to go. Blogs of sad, blogs of crazy, blogs of tears mixed with hate and love…this blog is more me than me, as my fingers bleed for truth and honesty, honesty within myself and others. My father not too long ago found the Dark Orchestra; I know so many skeletons reading this now have as well. Finding is key, but ever growing is a must. As my good friend and coach Les tells me… “This is only the beginning".
Skeletons of the dark that sit with me tonight, let us take pride in ourselves, our families and friends, and never forget that our past is what has made us who we are today, and today is a great day to fight.
PS: Hey Shankle, better step up your writing game……I'm back. #blogwars