… finally ready to admit that you’ve lived a soft life.

at any other time in world history, the luxuries life has handed to you would be considered the fortune of a king. you are a prince, as far as the rest of the world and the rest of history is concerned. you are a prince among many more princes than history has ever known. the hardships you’ve endured are not unique–they don’t set you apart from other men of your background, they don’t make you any more authentic.

you’ve never slept a night outside because you couldn’t find a place to live. you’ve never gone hungry because no one was there to feed you. you’ve never lost a job or fought a war or raised a child. your father paid for your college education, and you have reaped the benefits ever since.

all of the soul-crushing debt and social shortcomings you’ve faced have been due to your own weaknesses and fears, and nobody else’s mistreatment of you.

you walk among others who are prone to spending a lot of time in hospitals and worrying about their children’s futures, and you are healthy, with health insurance. you’ve never gone a day in your life without health insurance, and every bone you’ve broken was due to you being stupid.

you spend too many waking hours crying over whatever scant items you were denied growing up, and eyeing with lust the lives of those more fortunate than you, and on this planet, that number is actually very few. so, you can’t hop on a plane and fly to anywhere you like at any time. so, you have to work a forty hour a week job in an office that will never win you any awards. so what? you didn’t sign up to go fight in iraq, and you didn’t get the first girl you fell in love with pregnant to be stuck with endless child support requests.

you took your time growing up, and you still opt to spend a day like today loafing and reading books instead of volunteering to help others in your community. why should anyone look at you and use your life as an example of someone they should aspire to? sure, you took the time to learn a few computer skills so that you’d have jobs when a lot of jobs left the country, but you didn’t take the time to try to start your own business or invent something new. why should anyone hold you up in high regard as a shining example of what centuries of blood, sweat and tears have produced as an end result of the ultimate american?

…fervently possessed by one vision you had.

in one vision you had, the people who had taken the mark of the beast were like zombies to the people who hadn’t, and vice versa.

those who took the mark had a chip embedded in their frontal lobe that gave them visions of a world that wasn’t there. while they descended into squalor and grew more and more emaciated, they thought they were living in prime luxury. such are the deceits of the devil. when one of the ones who took the mark saw someone who hadn’t, they were programmed to kill those “godluver zombies” in the name of science and atheism and stamping out all of religion.

but the children of the ones who’d taken the mark didn’t get to take the mark until they turned sixteen. this was because the antichrist required that all who took the mark, took it willingly and without coercion. of course, the social coercion of peer pressure, and the absolute reduction of the human individual to nil, thanks to social networking groups online, caused most adults to take the mark without a second thought.

most of the true Christians were taken up in the rapture, as the prophets said, but those who remained were heavily blinded into thinking that no such thing had occurred. for there were many wars and plagues, as well as natural disasters upon the earth during this time. true Christians were taken up in the spirit when their mortal coils were completely eradicated, and restored in the flesh into a new Earth and a new Heaven.

but those who had not been met with God’s approval, yet still understood what was happening, those who were left behind as in the popular series of books, went about the earth as healers of the children of those who’d taken the mark. for those who’d taken the mark were beyond the repair of the Spirit’s healing powers. their children were invited to come into the flock of the Last Church, and these final Christians who walked the earth providing healing were condemned by the antichrist as pedophiles as well as godluver zombies.

all who’d refused to take the mark came together in the mountains like in the king novel the stand, and this is where they congregated, and repented earnestly of their sins so that they might not be left behind again. the antichrist and his henchmen waged war on these Christians, and they were tortured in ways beyond any mortal’s imagination, with the help of scientific understanding and the devil himself.

the parents who’d taken the mark, but retained the last vestiges of remembrance of their humanity would shelter the last Christians, but were eventually destroyed along with everyone else. all who didn’t take the mark met excruciating deaths at the hands of the antichrist and his henchmen, but their souls were taken up into heaven to live forever with the elect after their work was done.

all of those who’d taken the mark, along with the antichrist and his henchmen, had no more opportunities to repent, and they burned in the lake of fire for all of eternity.

you, of course, being the wayward son that you are, were left behind and you were among those who led the last Christians about the earth, performing acts of healing. you met your death on the road, running from the evil ones, and were sliced clean in half, but kept alive by machines for days while various visions tempted you with pleasure to take the mark. each time you refused, the pain grew worse, if that were possible, but finally they could hold your ghost no more, and you were no longer a prisoner to this corrupt world.

you rose up and were reunited with those who’d gone before you.

… and you want to reach inside your head and grab that young man and shake him.

still living out his fantasies, and quick to find the most self-destructive activities, he’s caught up in the cool bliss of a delicate austin autumn, smelling the limestone and dead oak leaves blowing through the air. you are him, you are bathed in the glow of the summer sun’s last embers, you are sitting on a picnic table outside at a local drinking establishment, or crunching gravel on the urban jogging trail with your dog.

you might be wearing a pink, button-down shirt, proud that you are now man enough not to care what people think about you wearing a pink shirt.

you are full of fluff and fantasies. life will still have to kick you around some more, even though you’ve been hit by about as hard a blow as you can imagine, with your mother now gone.

you still think you are biking up that hill you almost lost your life on last year, but you’ve long since left the bike and are stuck at the bottom of the hill, swinging from a precipice.

you wake up and you are a married man today, and you are sitting in on your third phone meeting of the day to rectify some problem you created at work that means a lot to a few mean souls, but nothing to you or God, or Time or Truth or Beauty or Love. you are suddenly possessed with this zeal to spout out whatever pops into your head, careful not to cross a certain line that would surely get you fired or perhaps arrested.

you don’t know much of anything, anymore, about people or life or God or Truth. but, you do know that you don’t want to find yourself in a position at work again where you’ve been shoved into a corner and everyone believes that you are an ineffectual, effeminate nothing of a man.

damnit, you will say whatever you think needs to be said in the moment, holding back only from complete anger and intimations of physical violence.

you aren’t going to find a pink shirt in your closet, anymore. you don’t really like pink. you also hate camo–the men up here in this whacked out town your wife’s job has taken you to all wear camo hats and shirts and shorts and watches and sandals and sunglasses—at least one article of clothing or accessory has to have some camo on it.

you don’t really like your silly polo shirts that have come to consume your spring/summer/fall wardrobe. these all look like shirts that the men at this company wear—these strange office artifacts who appear preserved from a state of being a young man circa 1992. you don’t know what most of these men at this company do, but they all shuffle in and out dutifully each day like they’ve probably done for decades, dealing with data and irate customers and you do pretty much the same thing–yes, you aren’t any different.

a couple of the young hipsters who think they are creative and not destined to be sad artifacts in polo shirts laugh loudly about politics, and they clearly believe that anything of the left is right and true, and anything of the right is primed for derision. it’s this smug self-righteousness that made you come to hate all your liberal friends. but, of course, you can’t stand the conservatives up here in whackedoutville, either. these fat slugs that plant their asses at the bars of chain restaurants and much on wings and cheesy bread, sipping beer and talking about football, watching football, and letting you know with some camo article of clothing that they will kill animals with high-powered rifles in another month–or maybe, they’re letting you know that they killed iraqis with high-powered rifles many months ago.

something about every subculture and genre of american culture disturbs you–most of it doesn’t seem to be much of anything at all that would make the ancestors of the people who sit in offices and bars today very proud.

it doesn’t matter whether the obsession is sports or politics, hunting or fashion, music or food–it’s like all of america has fallen asleep and is stuck in a trance of bland idol worship. the drugs kids get addicted to aren’t interesting, the music is recycled, the sports are fake and fixed, the food is processed and full of carcinogens–everything, even the stuff created by hipsters and hip hoppers trying to keep it real seems fake and commercial and destined to become another collection of kitschy, plastic bygone artifacts for some future generation observing these present generations of americans.

you don’t have any answer except to sleep a lot, read a lot of classical books and books on the history of the world, seek true love with your wife, and take the dog out on long walks in the safe, well-maintained trails of the area. you are by no means the antidote to the poison of inhuman, uninteresting fakeness that seems to pervade every aspect of your country’s people.

there seems to be a will toward not being completely human–as if once one acknowledges one’s own humanity, one becomes too vulnerable for one to cope. the nobility and dignity of the american pioneer, sailor, farmer, solider of bygone years seems to have been replaced by slugs and comic book characters–most of us our slugs, and we hold up politicians, movie stars, soldiers and other heroes and celebrities as being cartoonish in the way they are deified or demonized.

Jesus of the early church was interesting, but today’s Jesus is made of pure plastic. for some, he is no more or less than superman in sandals, and for the irreverant who want so badly to worship someone or something more real, he is a crude butt of their jokes.

is it because we no longer are as close to death as we once were? is it because most of the population has access to just about anything that was once considered a luxury item?

or do you simply have a romanticized, highly filtered impression of who american humans once were?

…wondering what a study of you would look like.

a study of you would be a study of binaries, paradoxes, dichotomies. you severly careened from one extreme to the other, and then tried to extremely be moderate, middle-of-the-road, bland. nothing satisfies you for more than a few weeks at a time. you’ve learned to accept that you must hold onto some things for much longer to survive, but you refuse to let your mind become completely focused on one thing for perpetuity. when you spend weeks reading nothing but the Bible, and trying to practice love the way Jesus taught it, you grow grumpy, then irritated, then angry, then hateful of others. everyone becomes the enemy for some reason or another: for not being perfectly in sync with you, though you hardly know what that is or should be.

you wake up from a dream where it is being summed up so exquisitely in both context, feeling and words. you know this dream to be a true thing. you are traveling through life as this sojourner who keeps getting almost there: almost to the summit of important realization, of closing the deal, of taking the next step to become great–and then, you back off. you walk away. you get scared, you lose interest, you get kicked off the mountain by someone more ambitious, who is pushing on ahead, and sees the summit just like you do, and won’t let anything stand in his way.

you think back to those things you used to hold up as being almost priceless finds during your dark years of youth: lighters left at campgrounds and half-smoked cigarettes. what treasures! then, finding your dad’s stash of booze, or a neighbor stealing a bottle of gin from his brother. nights of early college years before you turned twenty-one, when a friend of a friend materialized and said he or she would go buy booze for you. coveted discoveries of pornography on the early internet. a homeless man who could score you some lsd or mushrooms.

decades later, a piece of you still lights up when you are out walking the dog and you stumble upon a lighter. you can go to the store and buy as many lighters as you’d ever want, and as many cigarettes as you’d need to kill yourself, but that feeling of that shine is still there.

such is idol worship, when you make all of your energy and intent focus on some random, worthless piece of trash that you convince yourself will give you as much satisfaction as Christ’s own love. but, it is always followed by the much longer tail of senseless addiction–when you are gorging yourself on whatever was once rare to you, to the point where it is doing nothing more than returning you to a state of equillibrium.

even still, you approach life in this manner, thinking that some new natural supplement or book of wisdom will transform you into being saintly and full of love for others. nothing loses shine faster than a thing hidden that becomes known and easily possessed. will Jesus lose his shine for you the day you finally meet him in person?

…and your face has changed again.

Does everyone’s face change the way yours does? You can’t seem to plug into any sort of identity from what you see in the mirror. Some mornings, you are a complete stranger, sometimes you are your dad, and sometimes you are a handsome movie star, other times an ogre.

How can you ever know yourself if you don’t know who you are each morning, and can’t recognize the person passing through your reflections on the day just spent?

…but, the dreams were so much better than the day you face.

The day you face is a day comprised of all the promises you’ve made, all of the loans you’ve taken out, all of the putting off of the inevitable. The day you face is a day of paying up on all you’ve borrowed.

The dreams that slide from your eyes were dreams of an epic life, a warrior’s life, a life of steel forged in the fires of constant, purposeful living. The meaning you extracted in five minutes of a dream was equal to five months’ worth of meaning provided by life.

Why continue living in this world? This world gives you the opportunity to steady your flighty mind, and hew to a linear path. But, it also provides endless opportunities to fall into negative habits–patterns of though and behavior that just won’t die.

…and you’ve lost your way.

You went through an orgy of book-buying, music streaming and news consuming, to find yourself no more full of anything than you were when you first started.

Nothing lights the way for you, the path is as dim as it ever was.

You sit in these incredibly dull meetings at work, discussing matters that don’t mean anything to anyone. How could it be that every single thing in life you’ve loved is not a money maker–and the more you press onward doing something you disdain, the more money you make at it?

You want to read a book about math or physics or philosophy, and come away much smarter. You want to read a few books from the literary canon, and write with a bigger vocabulary.
You want the world to start to change around you as you are transformed. People stop scowling at you and getting away from you as fast as they can. People want you to come to their parties and talk to them about the things that are in your head. People want you to do more for them at the office than just schlep along, pretending you are helping some business be more successful.

You can’t go crying about these things to anyone, now. You’re married, for Pete’s sake. You have a nice wife and kind animals that care for you. You’re supposed to tend to a hobby like drawing, or writing spy novels–not get mixed up in being relEt to society. Your relEce from now on is to be the genes you pass on to another generation.