…into a world where someone always arrives before you do.

You were born into a world where the last bit of earth was being explored by adventurers even as you cooed for your mama. Deep seafaring vessels were hitting the bottom-most part of the ocean, and men were photographic the last known tribe to have never seen a European. In your childhood, the money to visit the moon dried up, and the chances of a man visiting Mars in your lifetime grew slimmer with each passing year of money spent on cold wars and wars on drugs and terror.

All of the open range of the country you called your own was now fenced in and owned by the descendants of men who’d gotten there before your family did. The most you could hope for was a few acres of land that many other men had already tilled and put their cattle on to graze and suck up all the water and minerals lying underneath it. There was no more frontier, no open range, no lands left to be explored. From the bottom of the ocean, across the planet and all the way to the moon, men had gotten there before you even arrived upon the planet.

You experimented with psychedelic drugs, but knew all the while a generation before you had already charted these corners of the mind.

You weren’t even the first child in your family. Brothers who’d been adopted before you arrived, eyed you with suspicion as you were the biological offspring of your parents, and inevitably bound to become the favored son, receiving all the attention and energy.

You arrived at parties and came into new work environments as a traveler on a well-beaten path. The girls you dated had known many men and boys before they knew you. The things you learned were unoriginal, non-novel–they were things whose trends had come and gone years before you came upon them. You picked up the guitar in hopes of becoming a rock star, but how many kids had already done that? You thought of submitting a novel for publishing, but the market was glutted with books cast forth by men and women hoping to die as a somebody of literature.

You were often comfortable following others, though you might resent somewhat your status as an entirely unoriginal man. Some days you might even resent it a lot–because you happened to occasionally pin your sense of unique identity upon being able to do, see or say something nobody else had ever done.

Such is your story, though you are for the most part a grateful one, and you live with a strong knowing that you live in a world that is a lot better than it could be. Perhaps your great grand kids will have no idea what it means to breathe air that doesn’t send them to their graves by the age of 30. Or maybe they will only know a world of smog and rotten concrete, eating each other and eating vile things that grow beneath the earth.

Perhaps if you had been born into an era where you were given an opportunity to fly to the moon, or travel to Alaska while it was still a true frontier–perhaps you would have been too frightened to take the opportunity, and quickly sought out a life of refuge inside a well-mapped, highly-trafficked city. These times you live in could be the best possible times for an entity like you, for all you know.

…ever mindful of the search.

The search is for the meaning of your being. You decided that you cannot except that you exist simply due to evolution and procreation, and exist to help the human race continue to evolve and procreate. You must exist for more than this. You spend hours immersed in religious teachings. This makes you hateful of the world, and often makes you hateful of God, too. Why on earth can’t Jesus or the Buddha speak plainly to their disciples about what is what and what isn’t? Why all this insistence on paradoxes, double-meanings, deeper meanings, parables, etc.? You spend hours immersed in pictures of art and architecture and writings about such things. This leaves you feeling cold, as if you yourself had become a two-dimensional, static object on a wall in a museum. Then, there are human beings. At their best, they would seem to exemplify what you are looking for, at their worst, they are what you are trying your hardest to get away from.

And really, humans seem for the most part to be more like animals. They are content with their lot, and do not want to spend every waking hour (and ideally every sleeping hour) in search for the meaning of their being. Emphasis on the fact that they seem that way–for everyone is likely discontent to some degree deep inside about these matters.

Life must be more about working the jobs that make the most money to bring joy to replicants of your DNA so that they too may pass on whatever of quality happened to be inside your father and mother and you. Life must be more about the food, entertainment, experiences and information you consume. Life must contain the key, but not the key to happiness. Happiness is overrated. The search is for the meaning of your being, and the quest to make your being be something better than it was when it arrived on this earth. So far, you’ve done your best to simply make yourself worse than where you were when you started, then return to who you were when you first started to go bad. As souls go, you’re about as good as you might have been around the age of sixteen, which is to say you aren’t that great, yet.

There’s still so much work to do, and forty is approaching you fast, mercilessly.

The face you see inside the mirror is not your own. The times you live in don’t belong to you. The way you are around others is not the way you really want to be. But, it’s a hard lesson, a constantly repeated lesson to learn that you have to be so much more proactive than you ever thought was necessary–you can’t be like some chosen wizard boy along for the ride, getting all the breaks and having everyone exclaim your name with delight when they see you.

The world has become a digital world, and people’s brains and identities are shifting and changing, though they may not know it. The mechanical man, a man who knew how various machine parts fit together to make everything in his house work, the man who wrought ideas on paper by way of pen or typewriter–he’s a dead man walking in this world–you kind of know him but you mostly only access him through the ways of your father and the faces shown in movies. A man like Bullitt vs. a man like Bourne–each is encoded differently, wired differently inside his brain for how he will interface with the world. Even the supposedly rougher, flawed current Bond seems to be a digital man–a man made for a world of cyberwarfare and guns that go off at the command of a remote entity.

And, it’s only bound to get worse. Soon, the massive amount of knowledge and computing power you carry around in your pocket will be affixed to faces, attached to ears, and finally, embedded in skulls. Scientists will replicate everything that takes place on your iPhone onto a single strand of DNA that is now available for a quick affixing to the preforontal lobe.

Are you ready for it? You are being taken down this path, seemingly against your will. You woke up thirty-seven years ago inside a womb where complete freedom seemed to be the path your life would take. You came into this world a child highly irregular, incapable of cutting a true straight line with your little child’s coping saw you used to try to make the same wooden boxes your dad and brothers made. Theirs were straight and true, cut to fine measurement, crafted by individuals cast completely in the mold of the mechanical man. Then, your dad discovered computers, brought one home, took it up as his life re-boot at the age of forty, and you were indoctrinated into becoming a digital youth, a digital man long before many of your peers.

You arrived at college in 1994 more comfortable inside the computer lab than hanging out in clubs, flirting with girls around campus at the student center or the gym. You fought with all your might the way life seemed to be forcing you to become a digital man, but you ended up with a shoddy compromise–you chose a major of words instead of bytes or equations or DNA. And, how on earth did you think you could become a man of words unless you prostituted yourself for years at ad agencies, or sacrificed yourself upon the altar of some MFA Creative Writing factory?

You fought and fought in spite of the way reality was sucking you into its Satanic, digital mode.

You refused to own a cell phone until 2005, and even then opted for the cheapest, pay-as-you-go Walmart special. But, the path became more calcified, as employers hired you to fix and maintain their websites, not write their marketing copy.

In some strange way, you’ve become a lot like the greasy cliche of a mechanic, a jack-of-all-trades webmonkey, often working in environments surrounded by mostly males, while the females handle all of the customer-facing, strategic responsibilities. You try as hard as you can to get those around you to perceive you as an ideas man, a creative man, a strategic man, but at the end of the day, you are back under the hood, getting your hands dirty with code, fixing the broken pieces of the world wide web.

Some part of you yearns to join those men on garage reality shows, working on old cars, shooting the shit about guns and girls and football, having your brain reset to be as completely analog as possible in a world where even the lowliest grease monkey has to learn a thing or two about computers to know anything about cars.

You dream for that day of retirement where you can follow the footsteps of your father, who once seemed to have a monomania for computers. He uses them now for email and saving photographs he takes, and that’s about it. The man who once brought home the latest model of computer every year, and talked about computer programming all evening from the dinner table until bedtime–he now uses them as much as anyone who bothers to stay in touch with the outside world. Your retired computer programmer father would prefer to spend his time woodworking, making ceramic objects, tinkering with old motors, cutting up trees with his chainsaw, playing with his dogs. Something about the manic, digital universe seems well-qualified to line up perfectly with a young man’s world, a man who loves speed–things that will race about as fast as his thoughts, things that obey his commands and things he can control. Old men don’t want to die inside a digital world–at least none of the ones you know. Old men are too fully aware of the place they came from, and to which they shall soon return.

Ironic, then, that one in the prime of his life should love the digital world, the artificial universe humans have created to be most like the spirits of the air. Are the air spirits all completely false, and one who adheres to them even unto death will find himself inside an eternal furnace? Perhaps the urge is one born of knowing that if you die in love with the earth, you will be reborn on this earth–and at the end of the day, most of us would prefer to inhabit bodies we’ve known and are so familiar with, than try to explore an alien universe that exhibits physics completely unlike our own.

…from a dream of an alternate reality, circa 1992.

A call for precision has been going out before you fall asleep. If you must dream, then dreams must be utterly perfect recreations of the past–memories re-enacted in 3D/Surround Sound as you know them to have taken place. If dreams cannot deliver this, then they should provide some kind of straightforward explanation of reality that enables your understanding of the universe to accrue in a straightforward manner, or they should increase your IQ so that when you wake up, you can perform higher math.

Unfortunately, dreams have not fulfilled these requests. Since you have stipulated these things, with an ultimatum to please refrain from staying in your memory if they don’t meet these requirements, you have for the most part, not been remembering your dreams at all.

Except for last night.

Last night, the dream you had was crystal clear in a lot of ways, delivering the old, boyhood home with a kind of clarity of placement of objects that you ordinarily don’t see. For example, there were no additional floors or rooms created in the dream, no add-on structures to render it barely recognizable. All of the same rooms, house and outer yard were still intact and placed in relation and proportion to each other as they had been in real life. Except, you were clearly experiencing an alternate reality.

The old family AMC Hornet and Ford Tempo were parked as heavily rusted/burnt up hulks in the front, side part of the yard. The individuals you met upon waking (and you woke up inside the dream inside what was your parents’ bedroom) were unrecognizable, but they greeted you as if they were your siblings. A male and female in their late teens, early twenties. You discovered that you had your present day Samsung Note II on you, and checked the date (but not the year). It was your birthday. You announced it to them, and they appeared to be nonchalant. They seemed to be recovering from a night of boozing and partying, of which you seemed to have been at least tangentially a part of.

You went down to the basement to the pen where your childhood Dalmatian, Bruno was kept at night. A dog was in there, but it was a tiny little Chihuahua mix of some kind. You let it out, and it ran yipping upstairs. You noted the nearby garage, which opened into the half-basement of the house, was all ashambles, covered in unfinished boarding and clearly not in a state your father would have left it. Stepping outside is when you discovered the burnt out hulks of old family cars.

And there was Bruno in his outside dog run! And boy, was he happy to see you. He was inside the pen, but also cast in several chains and ropes, as if he were a completely vicious, feral thing. You opened the pen and took one of the ropes off of him, with the intent to remove his chains and let him run free completely–your adult sensibilities have always chafed at the way your dad insisted on penning dogs up instead of training them.

You could see your dad was approaching on the riding lawn mower, though, and so you didn’t want to completely take Bruno off his leash. You decided to act like you were just taking him for a walk. Then, as the man got closer, you could clearly see he wasn’t your father from real life, but some kind of redneck, Jeff Foxworthy sort of man, who wouldn’t understand even the concept of “walking a dog”–dogs for him were meant to be chained up and bark viciously at neighborhood kids while he ran to kid his shotgun to scare them off his lawn.

“I thought I would just walk around a bit with Bruno,” you said to him.

“Mmmm, okay, whatever.”

“Guess the yard really needed mowing?” you ask him.

“Yup.”

“Well, let me know if you need help with that.”

“Yup.”

You walk off with Bruno, and see that the yard has more or less been left to return to the way it was when your family moved into the house in real life–most parts were overgrown with giant weeds, and old boats were parked here and there. You could see the sailboat that your real life father had purchased for the family to use but a few times was parked near the cesspond. Again, everything that had been in extant in real life–Bruno’s pen, the cesspond, the back fence, the driveway, the house, were all laid out correctly in relation to each other, but this was clearly some kind of unknown, alternate reality of an unknown time period.

With Bruno still alive, it couldn’t be later than the 90s, which meant your cellphone traveled with you back in time, and your weird stepsiblings were probably now playing with it and breaking it.

Your father/stepfather drove the mower past you, and you made an effort to steer clear of him. And then, you woke up.

Such a reality could have only happened had your real life father died some time back in the early 90s, and your mother married another man. Your mother never appeared in the dream. Since you woke up in your parents’ bedroom, the thought crossed your mind briefly that perhaps YOU were your mother in the dream, but the cellphone and the birthday indicated otherwise. Also, your stepsiblings reacted to you as if you were just you.

For you, dreams seem to be a lot of wasted time. It’s as if for seven hours a day, your mind is busy watching the worst of television, on hallucinogenic mushrooms. Admittedly entertaining, but useless for helping your true, waking self get ahead in life. You never wake up smarter or more enlightened, and frankly, the whole idea of having to interpret dreams as metaphors and parables seems to you to be bullshit in the arena of astrology as you get older–why should you have to spend the time to interpret them as such? If dreams are at least partly from a God who loves Truth and hates lies, why can’t he make dreams carry the same directness and crispness of reality? If dreams are a window into a higher, more meaningful reality, ie, the one outside of Plato’s cave, then why are you wasting your time dicking around with this so-called waking reality if there is a more appropriate one to be accessed?

At times you’ve sought to retreat into the precision of mathematics, but your brain can’t handle this, and from what you can see, mathematics would only be helpful in informing a certain kind of truth–it would say nothing to you about the transformation of your soul and the meaning of your existence. And so, your only recourse is language–the printed medium becomes your rectifying agent, a sole means to sort out the chaos swirling inside and outside of you.

Which is not to say that your writing always and only embodies Truth–it in fact often strays pretty far from it. Rather, it is the only way to anchor the things that otherwise seem to come and go in a nonlinear fashion and continue to rain upon you as nonsense and hopeless mystery.

…full of all the things that keep you here on earth.

It’s this springlike weather, that comes every two weeks during winter in Texas. Imagine getting to wear all the trappings of the cruelest month several times a year. Up in the North or in England, they only know about this once a year in April. Then, they promptly forget about all the old, unrequited desires for another year. If April is the cruelest month, then Texas must be the cruelest place, for each of these recycled, false springs that come throughout the winters down here bring all the memories of a young man’s hopefulness, his dreams dashed against the shores of a reality he didn’t want to recognize when spring aligned with the springtime of his life.

You wake up with false memories, wistful kinds of nostalgia for some girl who never quite existed. She’s like a lot of girls who you saw around campus back then, wearing a tight t-shirt over a long-sleeve t-shirt, and olive drab, thrift store pants. Maybe she has steel-toed boots if she’s especially punk, or perhaps she’s wearing Birkenstocks, if she’s a child of hippie parents. You and millions of other young people thought your class must be the last, that there could be no more after you. You were born at the tail end of what they labeled Generation X, and so you looked to GenXers as older siblings, and saw the so-called Millennials as a foreign race, born under a completely different sun, worshiping other gods that you didn’t know.

All of your quiet, patient soul work has been destroyed by this false spring. You spent the past week carefully meditating each morning and evening upon the boundlessness of Christ’s love. You sought to avoid all those terrible thought patterns that have you dreaming up the old soul sicknesses, and patterns that have you lashing out at anger at anyone who slights you. Then came the thawing that happens every two weeks. The springlike weather, the sun reappearing, the smell of things fresh and green. And with all this comes a memory of a girl who might have been that girl you once knew in pre-Calc your very first semester. She liked bands like Pavement, and was kind of alternative, but you had no idea just how focused women like her were on being grown-up, moving on, getting their degrees, storming into their careers, having children, being successful working mothers with homes and rich husbands who do work like engineering, lawyering and doctoring. Women like her were abundant–they knew just how much fun they were allowed to have, just how crazy they could get in that tiny window of living before the long march to death.

You thought wearing Pavement t-shirts and birkenstocks meant she’d love your ratty Jimi Hendrix t-shirts, the fact you smoked clove cigarettes, the way you were growing your hair to look like Eddie Vedder’s (but it probably looked more like Jimi Hendrix’s hair), the way you were always going on about how soon you’d get a tattoo so you could be extremely legit.

The memory that pops up is one of who you might have been had you put aside the fantastic bullshit that kept you at a distance from the world, had you taken a month to really explore your true Self as it relates to others, and see all the ways that it was weak and immature, flabby and untried. The memory is one of you who found your true manhood ten years or more later, and re-appearing inside a young, eighteen-year-old man’s body in a warm, balmy spring or autumn on a college campus. A young man who would burn all of his ratty Jimi Hendrix t-shirts, and step into a normal, preppy, fraternity brother’s wardrobe. A young man with a full head of rich, dark brown hair, and blue eyes that now were laser focused and crystal clear instead of wandering and shy.

It’s memories like this one that keep you here on earth, keep you getting reincarnated again and again in bodies like the one you inhabit. You pray and hope to have a magical life full of perfect experiences that you somehow believe will surely be the proper path to Truth and infinite bliss. But, if you have obtained any wisdom at all, you should know by now that this universe, in its very nature that permits you to exist as a man apart from God, as a man with an illusory ego identity–that this universe in order to house these particular conditions MUST be a fragmented universe, and its true state is one of becoming ever more so.

The very air you breathe in 2013 is not the same air you breathed in 1994, nor is it the same air you might have breathed had you been eighteen on a college campus back twenty years more in the past. Its particles are less dense, the oxygen molecules are less pure, and even if humans completely stopped polluting the earth altogether, it wouldn’t make a difference–the universe would continue to expand and become ever more fragmented. For, its not just as if the outward bounds of the three-dimensional universe are ever-expanding, but everything you see, breathe and touch is expanding and taking on new shapes that make returning to earth less and less hospitable for human being souls.

Each little nugget of experience you could ever hope to have, each little object you might try to possess, each granule of knowledge and wisdom–these are all but fragments that are ever-increasing in their fragmentation–to try to cling to any one of them would be to miss the mark of eternal Truth and Beauty altogether.

Prayer

I would like to begin by sending out thoughts of love to all around me. Going out in waves from where I sit, I am pulsating out feelings of intense love for my fellow man. I am praying for their safety and well-being. I wish only peace and prosperity for the people that are passing by outside, either on foot or in cars. I am sending thoughts of love and healing to them, so that their minds may receive ideas for better ways of being. Those who are caught up in lives of drugs and prostitution, or simply think that all there is to life is booze and television–I am praying that they will obtain ideas for ways to become more involved in their communities, and praying that people of good moral fiber will reach out to them, connect with them, and enable them to achieve paths of prosperity.

I am praying for friends on Facebook whose lives seem to revolve around sickness and disease. Either they or their children seem to be constantly sick and at the hospital. I pray that whatever foul spirits impinge upon their households will be lifted by the Lord Jesus, and that healing hands will encompass them and their families, and they will learn to speak and think a language of health and well-being, rather than keep any sort of focus on their illnesses. For the lady who has just been diagnosed with lymphoma, I pray that she will be filled with positive thoughts of love, joy and healing, and that her family will rally around her with a circle of support.

I am praying for my neighbors, the ones that I know and the ones that I don’t know. I am praying for B and C, though I have been remiss about going by and seeing them, I pray that they are doing well and are in good health. I pray for their family as well. I send thoughts of love and safety, protection and health down to the little kittens they take care of, as well as their next-door neighbors on both sides, including the men who lost their dogs in the fire, and the fellow who runs the K business. I am sending thoughts of love to the church congregation that is building the parking lot across the street, that they may obtain many more members who come to hear the word of the Lord, and that the people in my neighborhood seek out Jesus and his love even when it doesn’t seem that such a thing exists.

I send thoughts of love and health to the operator of the train in the distance who is sounding his horn, to the plant sitting on the table next to me, and I send thoughts of love to my father, that he may see Jesus in some form before he passes from the earth. I am saying a prayer for my wife and our animals, and their safety, and sending thoughts of love and health to her parents. Love goes out to all of my family members living and not, that they may know I still cherish them deeply, or at least feel an added presence of Jesus in their lives, if they do not have me in their thoughts anymore.

Love goes out to all of my coworkers, and our clients. I send out love to the teams who work in all the different regions of the world, and I also say a prayer for the coworkers who recently lost their jobs.

I hear people walking by below me caught up in a heated discussion. I am sending them thoughts of love and health, healing and well-being, prosperity and peace.

I love the animals of the world, the animals at the zoo, and the ones who try to survive in environments heavily polluted by humans. I am sending huge amounts of love to the politicians who represent me, that they may pause to listen to Jesus first, and make decisions based on how they are more deeply informed by the still small voice. I am sending thoughts of love to the operator of the ambulance that is approaching, and hope that God will work with them to best discern whatever illness or medical issues prompted this call. That the person who called for the ambulance receives Jesus’ complete and utter healing.

I have complete and absolute faith in the power of my words, that my prayers are heard and answered by the Lord Jesus. I do not hold any special powers of my own, but the act of faith and undertaking of prayer are what make the difference. I have complete faith that God will do his intended work in me, and will assist me in discerning which path I should take next to help others, and will point me down the right roads necessary to do fulfilling work while being able to support my future family.

I have faith that the Lord is guiding me, and helping me, keeping me healthy and focused on the important things I need to do to grow and change as an individual, so that I can become a better person and others will witness the changes in me. I do not undertake these things in hopes that humans will praise me and shower acclaim upon me, but that they will begin to see that a different sort of Light emanates from me than what has been there in the past.

I am praying that the Lord will continue to fill me with right-facing thoughts, and give me the necessary focus on the perfect path, that all which fills my head, heart and soul is positive and from the Lord Jesus–is a good and perfect thing, a right and true thing. The words that come out of my mouth will be positive, and carry helpful suggestions to others to improve whatever might need to be made whole again.

I seek to have a head and heart full of positive, right-facing thoughts, and my will is toward all that is good, right, holy and true.