what is happening right now cannot be completely understood by the likes of you. no matter how high you aim, your trajectory will be weak, and fall short of its mark. most people are headed in the wrong direction, they are fearful and violent. a few are fearless and violent, and a handful more are fearful and peaceful. to be completely empty of fear, and completely full of peace, is to be Jesus himself, which you are not, but you can sure try. better to die trying to be this way, then to die a violent death wrought by a careless temper.

you lose your temper all the time when you get behind the wheel. this has got to stop. most people aren’t trying to make your travel experience a miserable one, and the ones that are, typically have more guns and balls than you do.

you’ve been so angry because you can’t bring yourself to feel completely okay with whatever God decides for your life, as if you can control or change it, anyway.

don’t be jealous of those who succeeded where you’d hoped to, because a slight shift in this reality, a change in the way we all do business, will render their success meaningless. don’t gloat if this happens, either, because it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll become successful.

you can’t know the future, you never could.

you should never be in the business of judging others, no matter how inviting it looks. refrain from judging even the worst of the worst–if you believe in God, then you believe in justice beyond the thin veil covering revenge that men exact.

don’t underestimate the number of people you’ve helped, but don’t boast about what you do to help others, either. someone is keeping score, accounting this.

of course, it’s often hilarious to people to watch you be so eager to offer a helping hand. some find it cute, as if you are mildly retarded–a grown man should busy himself with serving himself. others sneer at you with contempt–this is not a world for kind idiots, he can join the old ladies at the local charity and help the human refuse that piles up there. even some of the local charities no longer want to get their hands dirty–help those who are willing and able to help themselves.

letting go of all the little things you still hang onto has been the hardest part. you have cherished notions about yourself and others, and they have rendered you blind. don’t hang on to faces and places that will be of no help to you at any time in the rest of your life. don’t hang on to things you keep in the dark from everyone you know. one day, you will have to resolve all sides of yourself and integrate them, and be accountable for them, or the worst parts of you will drag all of you down.

don’t hang on to youth, but don’t destroy your body, either. don’t take life for granted, but don’t keep it locked away in a room at home, either. you are beyond the age where death seemed so cool, beyond the age where it was poetry, beyond the age where it was an intellectual exercise, beyond the age where it was more than you could bear. death is just there, deal with it and be done.

what’s happening right now in places like india and africa could come to your door any day now. the fabric that holds the darkness back from all of us upon these shores is not so strong, not that it ever was. a trampled walmart worker could be multiplied by thousands if it were food, or a vaccine for a rapidly spreading deadly pandemic.

if i were completely sane, i would move nowhere. i’d stay here, quietly work at my job for another year, eat beans and rice, save money in the form of seeds, rice, beans, water, bio-algae superfood, and other end of the world extremist stockpile necessities. i’d convince my dad to let me live with him, or buy a small camper trailer, and park it on his plot of land. i’d learn a thing or two about guns, and buy a gun or two. i’d read my bible every single night before bed, and morning before leaving bed. i’d spend free time on the internet reading practical advice for surviving a global meltdown, as well as learn what every single edible fauna and flora is in the area. i’d map out escape routes from austin, driving the perimeters of travis county, looking for weak spots where they won’t have checkpoints at first, and develop plans of action based on various scenarios of end-time conflict. some scenarios would obviously make much of this not worth doing in the first place. if, for instance, i turn out to be all right with God by a certain time, and get taken up in the rapture, or i get wiped out in a nuclear holocaust, or taken down by a superbug–then i can rest easy knowing preparing to be a survivalist would be a waste of time.

i could even take this notion that the world will definitely end in the next ten years to the ultimate extreme, and if i truly am 100% serious about utilizing the Christian belief system as my means of ultimate trust for this endgame, then i don’t really need to worry about feeding or clothing myself at all, per the parables of the sparrows and the lillies of the field. a man with complete faith in his God, will simply go about his business trying to give away his gifts, per the parable of the talents, and when the end of days comes, he’ll trust in God completely to take care of him. if he were to find himself in a situation where, in spite of all the best faith he could put forth, he was by all accounts left behind by the rapture, he would continue to place is trust in God, believing that God has a plan for him. he would hold that faith through all manner of torture and psychological warfare, even as it would seem that he is already in hell itself.

obviously, i am not completely sane, though, and i believe that i must first remove this urge to exit austin that began that night i hit rock bottom at the end of ’01. i must see for myself over the course of the next two years whether God has a plan i can’t imagine in mind for me, one that will be executed because of or in spite of anything i try to do with my sad little life.

you are propelled by two motives: control and comfort. you seek a certain degree of mastery over yourself and your environment, and you seek a certain amount of security. pursuing the first in excess renders you less than (though it may feel like “more than” at first) human, pursuing the second in excess renders you less than a man.

my dad drove a crop-duster fuel truck when he was fourteen, two states away from home, and hitchhiked home when the summer job was over.

my dad served in the air force, learned chinese, did intelligence work in taiwan.

my dad found a beautiful woman to be his wife when he was twenty-eight.

my dad had a motorcycle and a triumph sports car when he was in his twenties.

my dad lived for several years in austin, san francisco, denver and traveled to europe several times later in his career.

my dad adopted two sons, and sired two more. he owned property almost everywhere he lived.

my dad went back to school at the age of forty to learn computers, and always knew more about programming and math than i ever did.

my dad took less appealing jobs later in life just so his kids could have a stable home and school life, and paid for his oldest biological son’s (my) entire college experience.

my dad stayed with my mom the first time she got a kind of cancer that killed almost everyone who got it, stayed by her side during months of an experimental treatment in omaha, and stayed by her side the second time she got the cancer that killed her–watched her die in a hospice after sleeping by her side in hospitals and the hospice for months.

they hired three people to replace my dad when he retired, and he wrote computer programs in c to deliver dynamic web pages before there ever was such a thing as php, asp, cfml, or visual basic.

my dad wrote the first computer programs to screen terrorists back when planes got hijacked all the time. planes stopped getting hijacked all the time after that.

my dad wrote the computer programs that powered the entire us banking system, and the economy went south in ’01 after he retired. no causal link here is implied, i’m just pointing this out.

at 68, my dad bought another motorcycle.

at 69, my dad routinely dates more women in a five month span than i ever have.

my dad took up welding, pottery, painting, weaving, sculpture, woodworking, gardening, etc. when he felt like it.

i knew a lot of tough dads when i was a kid, and some of them probably coulda kicked my dad’s ass, but those dads woulda fallen apart after losing one son to aids, the other in a car wreck, and they woulda divorced their wives after the first cancer battle she fought. those dads probably can barely use e-mail. those dads might know more sports and own more guns, but none of those dads have a prouder son.

the man at his finest is a brief moment in the day. the qualities we all admire and find precious are not the ones you see in the man in his younger years, nor in his older ones. the child rarely has them, and the dead and yet to be born typically do not possess them, either. strength of character, lack of fear, presence of self: these are the gifts of a fully-developed healthy, adult mind and body. they are gifts that are quickly taken away, by age, sickness, tragedy, darkness, doubt, booze, and other environmental factors. for some strange reason, we can treasure these qualities like gems and take them for granted at the same time. when we are standing in the sunlight, we forget about the darkness. we praise the sunlight as the day begins to dim, or when the morning mercifully greets us again. but, in the noon hour, with sun overhead, we take not one second to be thankful for the light of day–sometimes even daring to curse it when it burns our heads a bit, or exposes us scurrying about the earth in the middle of some unholy activity. the healthy, viral man in his thirties and forties is like the noonday sun. he was beautiful when he first lost his boy’s body, but he was awkward and scratchy and unsure and slipped into little moments of fear. the cracks were easy to find in the light of the morning sun. unlike the sun though, we rarely love a man who’s like the setting sun–and, it’s not necessarily our fault, because the sun usually dies gracefully each day, giving us promises of more beauty to come–by showing us beauty. but, the man often dies sloppily, struggling to find within himself the grace and wisdom he should have gotten with age, and struggling to give it back to the world that gave him so much.

the sun’s most magic moments and beneficial shining come because it has the earth to refract the light and appreciate it. the same with the man. but, the sun never steals anything from the earth.

the obligatory austin thanksgiving with the fam. last year was the first one with mom gone. every year down here has been one with roy gone. garry, my remaining brother, has managed to make it down here once, for mom’s funeral. every year, a great and heroic effort on my part to be thankful for my health, and be thankful for those around me as they all try to one up each other at stories and games. five or six years ago, it was kind of fun to see my uncle (the man my aunt re-married, but the only one i’ve really ever known in that bunch as the uncle) meet his son’s new boyfriend, after his son came out of the closet at 42.

that boyfriend still shows up, lord only knows the inner workings of that relationship–my giant cousin gregory who is generally loud and overbearing with his supreme advice on how you should do anything that involves your professional life or a computer, and his boyfriend stu, a happy, effeminate, petite sort of man who is always eager to know what each person has been up to. nobody finds the relationship especially shocking, or interesting, anymore. heck, my mom, who was one of the most rightwing sort of Christians i’ve known personally, took the relationship in stride.

the other real blowhard, my dad and aunt’s cousin, only seems to show up to these events once every two or three years now.

everyone was actually fairly nice and engaged this year, most of them cutting out the oneupmanship crap, and just getting together like a family would. my dad seems to be aging a lot faster than i would like, what with me considering leaving town soon, but he no doubt carries a lot of sadness with him when he hears stories of family memories and has to think about the fact that half of his family has been wiped out.

i try to not pay a whole lot of attention to any of it, because everyone has really been doing the same stuff for years, and we’ve been hearing the same stories for years–and there’s rarely any new blood at these things, anymore. i’ve shown up with a girlfriend maybe three times to the austin thanksgiving feast, and occasionally, a cousin from out of town will drop in, or my aunt and uncle will invite a friend from their senior activity group.

my original intent this year was to not even go, whether i was in austin or not. but then, things moved so fast with this potential job that i began to see that this may be the last one i ever go to. you never know. my aunt and uncle are pretty old.

this year, it seems enough to be thankful that i made it through an entire year with nothing majorly bad happening, with the exception of lucy walking out of my life. i kept my health strong, i got to visit sf, i was able to keep my job while many around me were laid off, and i took out a huge chunk of my debt–over $10K of it. nobody i know died, or got seriously injured, and neither did i. my dog stayed healthy, too.

there were years where i felt healthy, sane, and completely myself–okay, more or less myself. the craziness always had a climax, and it ended badly, with me hurting someone’s feelings and maybe even pushing them out of my life for good. the friends i made when i was crazy came easily enough, and stayed way too long. the friends i made when i was sane were hard to find, hard to befriend, and easy to lose. the sane years:

Age 6
Age 8

Age 13*

Age 16
Age 17

Age 21**

Age 23
Age 26

Age 30
Age 32

Each time I’ve cycled into a sane phase, I’ve left a crazy period that was less crazy than the one before. The shorter gaps between the sane ages saw me dip back into craziness, recover, then flounder for many years.

* This is a dubious year of sanity. I was able to make a mostly clean break with the craziness of childhood, but in many ways was just as crazy as the year preceding it, only crazy with puberty, adolescent issues.

** Another dubious year, following the DWI. With Jerry living in another town, I briefly touched sanity again–maybe even something cosmically greater, but slipped quickly enough when he returned to town, and the drinking began.

The sane years are marked by a tendency toward purification, removing too much extraneous activity and thought processes and sin. The sane years see a lot of disciplined, building kinds of work–nose to the grindstone, get focused, etc. The rewards of sanity and hard work are typically too difficult for the ego to deal with, though, and the ego starts believing it can have anything it wants from the world that surrounds it.

The goal here is to duplicate the sane years, the disciplined years, remove all of the fears that hinder me when I start to succeed, and stay focused on specific things I want to accomplish, rather than letting people pull me this way and that.

Age 16-17 is probably my proudest sane window. This was before the mullet and the cigarette addiction. Before the grades went south, before Stella Anderson and the summer I worked with her and tried to work up the courage to ask her out. Stella was three years older than me, and gorgeous, and I think she even liked me at first until she saw what a hopeless boy I was. During this period, I ran my best mile time ever, about five minutes, which was out of this world for me. I benched 255 lbs, which was superhuman for me. I was a project away from having my Eagle Scout. Pictures of me in Florida or Scout Camp in Missouri show you that the working out really had paid off, in spite of the fact that I couldn’t see it at the time. The acne pills I finally convinced my parents to get for me had paid off, and all of the manfur I was to grow upon my chest and arms and back was yet to be noticeable.

My inability to ask Stella Anderson to go out with me didn’t faze me. But, the mullet kept growing.

My trip to visit the University I would attend inspired me to work toward college, for a little bit. But, the mullet kept growing.

Then, I decided I could work two jobs. Not only my nice, clean healthy one at Subway, but a nasty, greasy one at McDonald’s next door. This was the first crazy decision, not counting my decision NOT to ask Stella Anderson out.

Then, when Subway chided me for working too much, I said up yours and went to work at McDonald’s exclusively, alongside Pauly Naples, who once bullied me. This was my second crazy decision.

Then, Larry Bradshaw and Homer Berry pissed on my in the shower in weightlifting class, and I completely lost it. I started smoking cigarettes on a regular basis. This was my third crazy decision.

Then, I decided to date a fat little redneck tramp who’d moved in from a town twenty miles away, and by this time, the mullet was practically down to my ass, and I was making Ds in all my classes, playing hooky, hating my Dad, talking about dropping out of high school, and just about the biggest greaseball little bitch you can imagine. This was my fourth crazy decision.

I would not successfully kick the cigarette habit for another year, well into my second semester in college. And, my bruised ego from the shower pissing incident rose up every time I thought people were talking about me and snickering behind my back. I finished high school clean cut, respectable, with a 3.4 GPA and girls seemed interested in me again. But I was anxious to discover the joys of being drunk at college, and never quite completely cleaned my act up again. Sure, my act is pretty darn clean now, but I have regular relapses, and I’m still carrying around quite a bit of debt.

The difference between now and then, though, is that I can spot a bully from a mile away. I can also spot a crazy, white trash slut of a girl easily enough, and avoid that, too. But, more importantly, I am learning to keenly spot within myself the things that make me tick–the triggers that set me off and cause me to go crazy again, to throw up all kinds of delusions about myself and the world in order to escape dealing with problems properly.

I have a mechanism now in place that sends a red flag to my waking self every time I start to fantasize, and imagine a future timeline that is highly improbable, and requires little effort on my part to realize success.

I also understand that there are moments where I have to catch my breath, you know. I can’t be taking more of life on and in when my being is saying that it’s time to exhale, relax.