What I Write

Some people think I don’t write enough about “happy” things.??Don’t get me wrong. There’s a shitload of stuff to be happy about- for you and me, much more than we let on. ??You and I were born into the Bright–into lives where what we consider “basic” is luxury to too many others, and because we were born this way, we know these luxuries as expectations. They come standard.

Look at yourself. You’re safe. You’re literate. You probably aren’t worried about where your next meal’s coming from. You have a decent life, friends who love you, and the freedom of ambition. Much of the world cannot say these things.??Yet, with all the wonderful things we have to be thankful for, we hardly bask in life’s brightness. Pain for us comes on another plane. Worries like “safety” and “hunger” are replaced with “insecurities” and “debt.” Our pain isn’t unwarranted or irresponsible; it’s real. It’s just different.??Every so often, a self-help book or motivational speaker comes along and reminds us of this truth, and to count our blessings. When they do, we feel good… we feel damn good. How long does that last, though???

Before long we’re back to worrying about what we’re missing rather than what we have. ??As many are the highs that we should be happy for, the valleys in life are us at our most poignant. The valleys are painful, yes. They are the moments we wish not to duplicate, but to learn from. The valleys harbor our flaws, our tragedies, our regrets, our wants. The smallest valley can seem to erase our highest highs.??The valleys interest me. Us At Our Most Poignant, in the middle of the bottom (however superficial the bottom may be)–this is when we find out the most about ourselves and other people.

This is why I write.

I don’t write for you or me. I write for us. I write because I like making people smile, think, and reconsider. I write because I think language is beautiful. ??I write to explore happiness and agony; oftentimes, to appreciate one, we must visit the other. ??My columns in this magazine have extended from stupid, self-deprecating first dates to graphic descriptions of suicide and soap box nostalgia. ??I write to you the way I feel when I sit down at my coffee shop and open my laptop. I attempt to convey my selfish interpretations in a fashion that resonates with, and entertains, you. ??I am honored for such a forum in which to do so. There aren’t many 25 year-old gay columnists who are granted such freedom.

My writings have garnered positive and negative attention. In tribute to my grandmother, who said always to be modest, I will focus now on the negative.??As of late, a few letters to this magazine have addressed my writing as being “too graphic,” “too intense,” and “too dark.”??A technique I use in some of my writing, particularly in those “dark” situations, places the reader with me at an event–to feel with me the pang of hurt in that moment. This calls for sometimes gut-wrenching imagery. I do this because such is life.

Rarely can we appreciate a truth without experiencing it. ??I’ve described in detail some painful memories of my past, and of others’. I’ve done so not to portray myself as an emotional mess, but as an honest mess (though I mind neither). For your trust and eyes, I bare my soul. ??Does this mean I’m a Debbie Downer? Does it fit in the pages of this magazine? To some extent, yes. Many of you appreciate the gritty–it’s a little different; but the last thing I want to do is have those dark details consume my message; they’re the means, not the end. ??The tone of this column may change somewhat in coming months. I’ll still deliver to the best of my ability poignancy when it’s called for, comedy when we want it, and hope when we need it.

“These Eyes” aren’t just mine. They’re yours, too.

I love hearing from you! Feel free to share your thoughts with a Letter to the Editor or via Facebook at Facebook.com/JustinJonesWriter.

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