This is not exactly the way

This is not exactly the way. The old ways were better. But, this is the way I’ve learned to do it, and so here I am.

My approach to developing a deeper relationship with God has taken too many wrong turns.

There is a heavy price to pay for someone who should have remained pure and become a priest. But, the price is nothing compared to the cost of still having the debts when you die.

I’m not even orbiting the same sun as these people

I’m not even orbiting the same sun as these people, much less am I on the same planet or even in the same ballpark.

Such a lesson has been the toughest lesson to learn.

The sun these people orbit is one of the Superman as a product of all human endeavor. The ways in which they seek to have their lives ordered, and the laws these people wish to enact all come from the sense of needing an ultimate authority here on earth to codify their behavioral purpose and give meaning to their existence. This is the what all of the wars are about.

A man who truly has Jesus as his Superman has no need for an earthly authority to back him up.

Do you get what I’m saying?

The liberal-humanist-atheist and the conservative-faith-based-christian and the radical-islamicist and the petty dictator — they are all fighting to achieve the SAME THING. Their eyes are all on the prize of seeing an earthly man be the manifestation of their collective belief system or worldview, and have that earthly man force all others to align with his way of thinking. Some groups are more tolerant than others. But, all of them are orbiting around the SAME SUN.

All seek the perfect man, the Superman in some form or another, but all of them are seeking their heaven here on earth.

A man who truly has Jesus as his Superman would never expect the leader of the country he lives in to even come close to being like Jesus, or whatever the man thinks Jesus would do, were he on earth ruling it today. The awesomeness of Jesus’ power and the power of early Christians and the great Saints–this awesomeness came from their humility, and their inward-looking abilities. They saw the beauty and potential of others as lying deep inside.

The atheist who would assert that all of the great wars are caused by religion is more correct than he realizes. Religion as a codified system in which one attempts to realize ones’ own image of the Superman in the form of a charismatic human leader forcing that system upon others–why yes, that is the cause of all the great wars and genocides. And among those religions we must include the versions of atheism practiced by Hitler, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot. But, while we are at it, we should include the atheism practiced by the U.S. when we rationalized maintaining slavery as a practice, and the atheism of butchering Native Americans. Let’s include the atheism of the Inquisition, and the atheism of the wars between Protestants and Catholics.

For those who would commit such atrocities rejected the one true Living God, in favor of an image of a god or a man who was nothing more than a manmade image, an idol.

Let’s be clear. If you have faith in an omnipotent God who is outside of the petty dimension of our linear time, then you have enough faith to know that He will ultimately take care of you and exact appropriate vengeance upon your enemies when they attack you. If you are missing this faith, then you will seek out positions of power in government, or try to influence those who would hold those positions that they might enact laws that benefit you and yours. You will seek out security in the form of weapons far beyond simple self defense. You will spend more time concerned about those in power you don’t agree with, instead of meditating deeply on the omnipotent God you serve.

If you have faith that your omnipotent God provides salvation for all, then why on earth do you need to be loyal to one man or one nation? Do you think God smiles more favorably upon your country than another one that has an equal or greater number of people worshiping him?

The metaphor of us orbiting a sun is used because many of us are not even orbiting the sun of the Superman. We are, instead, like satellites–moons of minor planets far out in the solar system, with our eyes fixated on the planet we’ve chosen to orbit with the occasional desperate, longing looks cast toward the sun our planets orbit. We pattern our lives after such planets, buying the same cars, clothes, houses, and material things that our planets do. We hope that our offspring may perhaps one day shine brighter than we could, and move up the planetary hierarchy. What a coup to see one of our children becoming successful with a reality show or recording contract!

It could be that we are among those so-called Christians who have carefully copied the solar system of the Superman into our own little planetary ecosystem, that we think we are, in fact, creating a Christian version of the solar system that has Jesus as its sun, rather than a President, celebrity or scientific thought leader. Except, in our zeal to outwardly emulate, we’ve done nothing more than set up a planetary ecosystem that itself revolves around the worldly sun.

To be less metaphorical, many Christians are simply imitating worldly gods in a weak, watered down sort of way.

The

Scientists are working hard to find a way to view our memories in HD

Scientists are working hard to find a way to view our memories in HD, by any means they can. You might picture the old cliche of electrodes affixed to the temples as if the subject were made ready for shock therapy. And then, a fuzzy TV picture is made crystal clear through some fiddling with the knobs. Or, you can agree to be more sophisticated in picturing how it’s done: tiny nanotravelers injected at the base of the cranium where the brain meets the spine. These nanotravelers come equipped with a full array of cameras and sensors and transmitters.

At any rate, they haven’t succeeded yet. Or if they have, they are reluctant to make their findings public.

So, for tonight, you can rest easy knowing that your memories are still yours to keep, or share only with God and anyone else whom you choose.

But, what of your memories?

Why is it that you can remember with shocking clarity an entire collection of random moments, some highly significant, others not seemingly important at all–but, you can’t remember entire decades’ worth of stuff that might be of some value to helping you survive in this world?

Why is it that you can perform exercises to help you increase your potential to remember things, and these exercises seem to only last through the duration of you doing them? What is the point in trying to remember anything at all, if you know that it’s going to be wiped when you die?

There has to be a better way to enhance the functionality of the brain.

I let my brain fall on a few random memories.

A memory of this girl who played trumpet with us in band. Her name was K H., and she was known by all to be quick to jump into bed with any number of guys. K H. had a threesome on the last jazz band trip. K H. had sex with R S. on the pool table. K H. was dating some vo-tech dude, and she’d let him prop her up on the back of his car, and wrap her legs around him and kiss him like crazy when everyone was arriving to school.

I had a brief crush on her, and I could sense the sexual energy. It troubled me. I wanted to have some of it the way the other guys were having it, but was terrified of it. She must have seen enough of something in me to invite me to go haunted housing with her and some friends down in KCMO. I was enraptured the entire time by the fact that I was getting to be a part of this event with the cool kids. At the end of it, she turned to me and said, “Wow, you haven’t said a word all night. What’s wrong with you?”

Such was the perennial thing that I would soon come to accept as being a given. But, why do I remember this just as easily as I can remember some odd dream about a poor reconstruction of the house I grew up in, and the fear in the dream that people were coming for me if I didn’t get away soon?

The truth is, I never had a crush on K H. like I had on T C. or some other girls. She never appeared in my head as my “soul mate.” T C. would appear as such all the time, and I have maybe ten very distinct memories of her actually bothering to interact with me. I never did anything with T C. outside of school functions, but she appeared in so many of my fantasies, even for years after High School.

I can remember Freshman Algebra, and for whatever reason, T had been moved during the middle of the year to sit at a desk near me. I was practically strangled with fear and excitement. One day, I got the nerve to turn to her when she came into the room and smile and say, “Hi.” She replied, “It’s ‘Hi, T.’” I chuckled uncomfortably to let her know I got her humor (though I doubt I did), and never said a word to her again the rest of the year.

As uncomfortable as those situations were, they don’t make me feel uncomfortable to remember them now, unlike some memories that can still elicit an emotional response years later.

They are more puzzling than anything. What did I do at those moments in time to take such clear snapshots of those certain events, and so many others, and why is it so hard to take the same kind of crystal clear snapshots of information I’m supposed to remember for school or work?

It’s not just the emotional content of these memories, and it’s not just the fact that both K and T happened to be people who radiated a lot of energy that almost everyone found to be attractive.

I can with great clarity remember the evening that I found my dog at Barton Springs, and the walk up the Greenbelt back to the apartment complex. I can remember running into a lady on the way back who I didn’t see for a year, and then when I finallys saw her again, she was leaving Austin to go to Chicago to get back together with her longtime boyfriend and eventually marry him and have a kid with him.

In fact, now that I sit here and try to remember other events, they all have the quality of being significant in their ability to stand out from the day-to-day, or they were recorded by me in word or photographs when they happened, or they were events that clearly had other witnesses, as if seeing that other people probably remembered it happening it must be worth remembering.

But, not all of the above are significant in the sense of being life-changing.

Life-changing events come less and less as I get older, and it’s hard to frame up much of anything as being exceptionally life-changing. I’ve changed jobs four times in the past four years. Changing jobs no longer carries with it exceptional amounts of meaning. Meeting new people doesn’t either. After putting myself into so many situations where I’d hoped to meet that epic group of friend who would be my closest companions for life, I feel these days as if I’m lucky to meet people who want to talk about anything more than just the weather and work.

Traveling is still a pretty big deal, since it costs a lot, and I don’t get to do it that often. But, I’ve traveled enough to no longer feel as if I’m going to have a great epiphany while standing in an art museum or looking at an old statue or building. The memories I’ve created from my travels of the past four years are probably not ones that look much different than anybody else’s

The point is that it’s much harder to convince myself that much of what I’m doing really is worth remembering, which probably sets me up for failure a lot of times.

I have to begin my morning free of the concerns and cares that will greet me throughout the day

I have to begin my morning free of the concerns and cares that will greet me throughout the day. Trying to preemptively attack them is an invitation for heightening the stress I will feel later.

The people I interact with now are almost all remote. Their cares and concerns for success are none of my business. Quite frankly, if they wish to fire me today, or completely wreck their business today, then good for them.

I am tired of screaming and screeching over things that aren’t going perfectly, when I know damn well that they don’t add up to nothing.

I’m tired of turning my back on the Lord for weeks at a time while I think I can get by without the Bible or prayer. The truth is, I am already slipping out of sync with the Lord the minute I turn my back and put all of my focus on my secular work.

I don’t know how much longer I can go on like this. I am thinking, not much longer at all.

I work myself into a frothing frenzy over some random thing a person at work isn’t doing the way I think they should be doing it, and convince myself that I need to m to calm myself down.

…and there are a few things I want to share with you.

You should be filled with the same unlimited amount of hope that I once knew. There is no reason for me to share with you how quickly life will grow to put limits on what you believe you can do, and who you believe you can be. You can, with the flip of a switch in your mind, go from thinking that there is nothing new under the sun to believing that you’ve only scratched the surface of what there is to know.

You shouldn’t worry too much about whether or not you can become a somebody. You don’t need to prove anything to me, and you shouldn’t feel like you have to prove anything to yourself. If you happen to become a somebody along the path of doing that which delights you, then this is all the more to be celebrated. But, if you find yourself pushing forty without anything to show for your four decades of occupying some space on this Earth, just keep pushing onward with whatever thing it is that delights you.

You should be filled with the pure delight of happiness that comes with being young on a spring day. You don’t have any credit card bills to pay, or medical issues to address. The complex world of negotiating adult transactions of love and commerce is one that shouldn’t fill anyone’s head. You should be excited to know that you have decades of exploring the world ahead of you. Don’t for a minute let another person or the poison of booze and drugs take away your youthful power. You are lost once you agree to hand over your youthful power for the chance to try to get a little higher than life itself could get you.

You might think that the pressing problems you face today are the most difficult problems known to man, and that I just don’t understand. But, please try to be easy on yourself, and seek a little perspective before you go throwing away an abundance of opportunities just to prove a point about how independent you really are. Let me reiterate that people can be much more poisonous than booze or drugs. If you let the wrong ones in, they can control you with little guilt trips when you want to do something that isn’t in line with what they perceive to be cool or authentic. It’s those daily, needling little guilt trips that can add up into one giant condition of living under the thumb of another human being.

The next thing you know, you will find yourself living many years of your life for someone else, always asking yourself: “What would my friend X do?” What you don’t understand is that so much of what makes you feel invincible and immortal today will be gone within a few heartbeats. You are brimming with the drugs of being young, and can’t see just how powerful these drugs are. Wait until you’re very old and in a lot of pain, and your mind is slipping, before you take it upon yourself to seek out additional highs and lows.

If the world is being unkind to you (or at least it seems that way), then the last thing you want to do is pile on this awful behavior by joining the world in being unkind to yourself. If you are being routinely mocked by friends, classmates and even teachers, you are pretty much a lost cause if you start believing them and your voice joins theirs in the mockery of yourself. Take a day off to get back in sync with yourself. Tell your parents you’re sick, or simply skip school and accept the consequences later. You don’t need to make a habit of it. But, you should catch your breath and take some time to build yourself back up from the inside, without the help of chemicals.

Use this time to take stock of what you have. You have something quite powerful that others are trying to steal from you, and this is why you are experiencing all of this abuse. People see how smart and good-looking you are, and they can see how clueless you are about it. You get inklings sometimes, looking in the mirror, that you might be especially easy on the eyes, but then, you hear people snicker at you when you walk by, and have memories of adolescent awkwardness from five years ago running on repeat.

By all means, seek out people who don’t treat you this way. Not everyone is unremittingly jealous or full of ill will toward those who have gifts that they do not have. Seek out people who will celebrate your gifts, but first you have to begin celebrating your gifts by yourself, so that people will want to join the celebration.

Does my advice sound hackneyed, trite, mushy or plain inauthentic? I suppose it probably does. You are used to hearing so much similar advice from your teachers that you probably don’t really hear much of what I’m saying at all. Perhaps you think that none of it is practical, that you can’t take it and apply it to what you are going through.

Fair enough.

You won’t gain much or change much until you put a stake in the ground and lay your claim to which side of that stake you live on. If you are still unhappy after you put everyone and everything that makes you unhappy on the other side of that stake, then you are not taking enough time yet to stop and listen to yourself breathe.

…and you are the subject of this entry.

You feel isolated, removed, cut off from a group of others who would validate your existence. You have held yourself up to standards that you will never meet. It breaks my heart to see you here, in this place.

You were the platinum album singer, the Oscar winning actor, the next great American novelist, the science editor, the brother, the mom. You couldn’t shake the demons, and so we had to bitterly bury you.

You were loved.

You are loved.

You are sitting there, saying, “but I am none of these.” But we will tell you that you are. You are loved for all that is unique about you; all that the world will reject and call defects.

I’ve been where you are, and I probably will be again. It’s not some pinnacle of success to shake the demons and enter the garden of Eden.

What breaks my heart is how cut off you’ve become from the rest of us. You have removed yourself by degree each year out of fear of being hurt again by the rest of them. And, we understand.

But, let me be clear: what matters on this earth isn’t anything made of flesh, or stone, or steel, or words, or data, or money, or information, or memories. No, not even memories matter.

What matters is that on this earth there are more of those who hold more light than dark in their hearts. The balance is about to tip as you hold that tip of blade or gun or pharmaceutical poison up to your face to take the plunge into the non-space that is the Void, from where you may or may not return. Do you want to be cut off completely for all of eternity?

You may be plucked from the Void and invited to return, but it’s likely to be on behalf of the dark, not the light. At that point, you matter nothing to us, because you have crossed over past the point of no return.

What matters is the fact that you hold so much light within you. You are standing in a dark place with a small candle in your hands. Your flame will get much bigger if you seek out the rest of us and join your light with ours. Your flame will get much bigger even if you seek out but one of us whose flame is faltering, and join your light with his or hers.

We love you when you are fat, do you understand? We find great beauty and exquisite finery in your wrinkles and sagging skin. The thinning, greying hair is a treasure to our eyes, and your crackling voice a treat to our ears. Our standards of beauty are much different than those of the world, because we see the entire spectrum of time–we know you as an infant, and we know you as an ancient one. Who you are to us includes everything in between. The sum of all of this is what makes you part of the light.

You know in your heart of hearts that you are still part of the light and not the dark, in spite of what the demons might be whispering in your ears.

In this dark night of your soul, you are experiencing a transformation, and the pain you feel is real. But the pain is there because all of the parts that are still dark can’t stand to see the light. Those areas of yourself are very much like vampires. They are attached to you, sucking the blood of your soul, and when you shine your light on them, they scream in pain and dig in deeper to your nerve endings so that you know the pain that they know. But, their pain is only theirs to bear, you should stop listening to their screams, and state clearly that you don’t need to feel what they feel, for their pain inflicted upon you isn’t real.

That’s right, go ahead, and shine your light on all of those dark-lurking demons that only come out to feed when you are certain that your soul has gone pitch black, and you are desperate for a friend, or a doctor to put the pain to its end, and all you can do is lie there paralyzed without any effort to stop the vampires from rising up and seizing you and making you believe that you can only obtain release from their sick pleasures.

Shine your light upon them, to watch them burn up into ash, and leave you clean and white as snow underneath the layers of years of sorrow.

The week was rough.

The week was rough. I entered the week with that kind of gusto that is worn better by a younger man. I didn’t get very far. I lost my temper a lot. I did m a lot. I let small people get big in my head, and people who should be big and important become small.

I turned my back on God. A lot. I had all but stopped reading my bible and praying. I don’t know why. I felt better today after I read from the bible, and tried to get back on track with God. I think maybe I approach spiritual matters like everything else. I start to read the bible and pray every day, and fancy myself turning into some kind of great preacher bringing the masses to God. Of course, I’m about as far from being great at anything as I could possibly get.

Through and through, I am a workhorse. I can become a very competent, proficient workhorse who outpaces everyone at menial tasks once I get adept at them. But, I am pretty piss poor at switching my brain to make it more nimble and refocusing it on the things that matter the most. I’ve often wondered if I might have suffered from some kind of mild, undetected autism as a child. But then, I think my singular obsessions with random subjects were probably born more out of a misguided notion that I could win friends and impress girls by being the smartest kid in the room about a subject for which other kids expressed a passing interest.

For example, my neighbor across the street was into reading the guitar magazines and took lessons for awhile. He expressed great anger over the news of Stevie Ray Vaughn’s death. I was just getting into playing guitar myself, and had never heard of SRV. So, I took it upon myself to buy all of his albums on cassette tape, and listen to them repeatedly. I told my friend about how much I loved SRV, and he seemed kind of surprised. I think he had one SRV album, and had probably mostly read about SRV in magazines, or heard from some other kid who was even cooler just how great SRV was.

Fast forward to my first semester of college. I was studying in the dorm’s communal lounge and MTV was playing an REM video. I’d only kind of lightly liked REM’s music, and had even at times thought they were a bunch of wimps. An older co-ed came up next to me, and noticed the video on the television, and made some comment about how different Michael Stype looked with his head shaved. Of course, I was tongue-tied simply because I’d never mastered the art of being able to talk to girls, but I took it upon myself to buy REM’s latest album and play it over and over again until I pissed off my roommate who really loved the band.

So, I guess it’s not only a misguided attempt to impress people, but I think this need to dive deeply into some random subject and forget about all others could also be described as an avoidance mechanism. It’s easy to make up an excuse for why you don’t want to do something when you can tell people that you were just too busy doing something else. After all, Americans still love the idea of the hard-working individual who goes the extra mile at whatever he’s doing or learning to become the champ.

And there in lies the insight of the week. I probably don’t even know what it means to work hard at a single thing the way a pro athlete or PhD candidate might do it. Those folks probably stay singularly obsessed out of a sense of duty akin to what the rest of us use to drag ourselves to work everyday. To be certain, it’s a pretty broad brush, and there are no doubt any number of people who are at the top of their field that got there because they were trying to avoid facing something else while impressing others with their knowhow of one minute subject. But, I would be pretty inclined to think that there must be something missing from my own peculiar array of obsessions that has prevented me from turning any one of them into a career.

You could go way back to my obsession with baseball cards and baseball statistics. I loved all things baseball, and I certainly could have ended up with a back office support kind of job with a MLB team, had I been passionate enough about baseball past the age of 14. Around 14 though, I started to get this notion that if I was going to impress girls, then being obsessed with baseball statistics wasn’t the ticket. Instead of actually trying to meet and talk to girls, and go to school dances and join clubs that had girls in them, I opted instead to buy on cassette tape all of the classic rock music my older brother had listened to, with this terribly misguided notion that this music would magically transform me into becoming someone as cool as my older brother, who no doubt had tons of girlfriends when he was in high school.

There are plenty more examples where these came from, where I’ve basically picked one particular facet of some great person’s story, and without much thought turned that single facet into the entire source of their success. For the most part, it’s all very superficial and lacking in any substance.