Dreams and Freedom (or the illusion of it)

I woke up this morning from a series of detailed but strange dreams. The first series of dreams involved my little brother and my mom. I was at the high school I attended in real life. I asked my little brother and mom about a teacher who used to have an annual canoe trip in Minnesota–if he was still there at the school. They said they weren’t sure, and I said “well, you attend the school (to my little brother) and you substitute teach there (to my mom), you should know.” I said it with the conviction that this was so in the present — ie, 2014. Of course, my little brother has been gone for over fifteen years, and I don’t believe my mom continued her substitute teaching at the high school by the time he started there. Except, I was perfectly convinced that both of them were at the school in the present.

When I awoke I began to think that perhaps my insistent dream appearance of school is a metaphor for something else.

I have almost every single night these dreams where I am suddenly realizing that almost the entire semester has passed, and I have simply been negligent in attending my classes, and the important test to take in order to graduate is almost upon me. Sometimes the feeling is one of utter despair, that I’ve missed out on something wonderful that everyone else got to participate in, and other times it’s guilt for not having been a better student.

The next series of dreams involved me trying to get away from a mafia that was actively trying to recruit me. They had surrounded me with their people, and bugged all of my communication devices. I knew that if I simply tried to run away at that moment I would be shot dead. So, I was biding my time to for the perfect opportunity to make my escape. During this period, I met a girl and fell in love with her. She turned out to be the mafia boss’s daughter. I didn’t care because I loved her so much. We were holding hands and the boss came up to me and started talking to me about hand gestures that Italians found offensive. I played it cool and told him the ones I remembered from my days of working at the translation company. He said the classes are about to begin and walked away.

Apparently, both his daughter and I would be together for some of the classes, and then I would have to be taken away to a “special class” for fellows like me who had been recruited to be officers at the top of the organization.

Again, the dream came back around to a kind of school where I needed to go somewhere special to learn a specialized kind of knowledge. My advancement or enlightenment depended upon acquiring this knowledge.

So, I wonder if these dreams are all part of my own insecurities surrounding not having learned everything I need to know about being human, being a man, and being a man of my own culture and time and place, or if these dreams are trying to tell me that I am actually deficient in some area of wisdom and understanding that is beyond my earthly self.

In part, my insecurity that everyone around me knows something I don’t began at an early age. I can remember having this fantasy when I was six and we’d just moved to Missouri where the entire town got together in a secret cave located on the side of a hill that you passed when you were entering the town from Kansas City. I imagined that the townspeople were all well connected with each other, and had known each other for generations. To some degree, this was true. My family was probably one of the first ones to settle there who had a parent that commuted to KCMO for work. This would become more and more common until the time my little brother went to school, where most of his classmates had a parent that commuted to downtown KC.

I can remember that my insecurity simply continued as I passed up on every opportunity to be initiated into little groups and clubs of boys on the playground, and I declined playing sports like soccer and wrestling and t-ball. I remember my utter despair when all of the other boys in my class got to see the sex ed video in sixth grade, but I had to go to a district spelling bee contest because I’d won the spelling bee for our school. Then, it went in freefall. I missed every dance, and didn’t play football. I tried to play little league baseball, and signed up for band and track, but these were kind of nerdy, wimpy ways of being involved socially as a boy learning to become a man.

By the time I left for college (and in later years moving into different workplaces), I was simply unaware of how to get involved with anything. It was no longer a matter of being fearful about joining something, or having an affected disdain for group activity. I was simply clueless. I remember by the time I was 34 and started working at a software company for the first time how a young lady came in and was on a committee to encourage volunteering in the workplace within the first week of starting there, and another fellow was playing on the pickup basketball team every morning the first week that he started there. I was dumbfounded. I had this ill-conceived notion that you had to earn your place in the ranks of these kinds of groups after many years of getting to know the people and having them trust you and then getting a special, highly selective invite– and here were these folks just sauntering in and becoming a part of the social groups and committees at the company.

The invite to join the mafia in the second dream seemed unbearably authoritarian. You have no choice, you must join our group, was the attitude. No matter where you run to, we will find you. This is an especially strong fear that runs through me. There is some precedent for it. The years that I got involved at Ahmis Communications, my first real job after college, it seemed like my boss Karen Winthrop controlled every aspect of my life. We hung out all the time outside of work, and we were going to start a web design business together. At work, we were joined at the hip. It was too much. I felt like I couldn’t go to the bathroom without coming back and having Karen want me to talk to her about it. When you decide to commit to doing something in the community, you have to be prepared to show up at times and places even when you don’t feel like it at all. Volunteering with an organization on a committed basis is not easy at all for someone like me, who is used to being able to decide at the last minute whether or not if he wants to show up at the event.

Now, my inclination is to try to take my paradoxical, push/pull attitude about group joining or lone wolfing and apply it to my politics.

Quite frankly, something doesn’t set well with me about the encroachment of the nanny state. If you don’t like a restaurant because it’s full of cigarette smoke, you don’t have to work there or eat there. Banning cigarette smoking almost everywhere has turned out to not be such a bad thing, though. I get completely nauseous now at the thought of smoking even one more cigarette, and it feels as if my skull wants to crush my eyes when I walk through a casino in Vegas. The nanny state of outlawing smoking has seemed to have a surprisingly nice effect, but at the same time, part of me wonders just how much we have to ban to prevent people from killing each other. I would prefer not to walk into a Chipotle and see a shotgun sitting on the table of the diner next to me, but if a local restaurant wanted to become a like a speakeasy for gun owners and cigarette smokers, more power to them. It’s not for me, and I wouldn’t work there or eat there, but if it’s someone else’s cup of tea, they should be able to drink as much of it as they like.

I can’t stand just about any bureaucratic requirement that comes with being an adult. I hate paying my taxes, not because I don’t believe that at least some of my income should go to the services and protection from the government, it’s just the hassle of the paperwork and messiness of all the rules. I’d rather just pay a fixed fee for being a U.S. citizen, and be done with it. I hated playing sports in high school gym class for the same reason. Basketball seemed to be the worst. There were too many rules that got in the way of simply dribbling the ball and trying to make a basket with it, and trying to prevent the opposing team from doing the same. Rules that seemed to make perfect sense to those who loved the game a lot, but rules that seemed to get in the way of the purity of what the sport could be.

The question of whether or not I’m really free to move about as I please runs around in the back of my mind in an inarticulate sort of way. I can sit here on a Saturday morning, and know that I’m free to listen to whatever I want to on Spotify, and write whatever I like, but if I wanted to just haul off and fly to Tokyo, I would experience a number of limiting factors along the way. One, I would piss off my wife for spending my money recklessly and going without her. Two, I would put myself into more debt than I care to be in, in order to make it happen–unless I wanted to resort to stealing money from someone. Three, I would encounter all of the well-documented bullshit TSA maneuvers to get me through the airport and on the plane. Four, I would hit so many angry pencil-pushers along the way (aside from the TSA bunch) who would be barking orders at me to come over here, no stand over there, no sir, your bag can’t go there, no you have to get in this line, that line is for the very wealthy people who paid extra to stand in that line.

Is this freedom? I suppose it is relative to what my chances of getting to Tokyo would have been if I were a citizen of the Soviet Union in 1954 or one of Nigeria in 2014, or of the U.S. in 1874.

But, it doesn’t feel like an especially strong sort of freedom.

In fact, it seems like most examples of the freedoms I enjoy as an American citizen are what I would call weak freedoms. I’m free to write whatever I like and publish it, because the likelihood that very many people are going to read it and take me seriously and cause a revolution in dismantling the current power structure is quite a small likelihood if it exists at all. At best, I would be like an Alex Jones–taken seriously by a core group of rabid fans, but dismissed by most people as being out of his mind.

What I am really free to do in this life is, in fact, not be hassled too much by other people to fulfill a series of obligations and duties that come with the privilege of being a citizen of this country, this world, this universe. In many other times and places, being a citizen meant being required to go and serve on civic committees and fight in wars. My private time would be extremely limited. To some degree, my time and place is not that different. Now, instead of being a good civic-minded fellow down at the Senate, I am obligated to do my part to keep the economy up and running. The U.S., in terms of its real value and legitimacy for existing as a nation state, is not really a geopolitical entity anymore so much as it is an economic one. I contribute to the well-being of my nation state by maintaining a full-time job, sending a quarter of my earnings back to the nation state’s government itself, and most of the rest of my earnings back into its economy. Keeping the economy alive and well is the civic duty of the citizen of the 21st century.

Of course, most of the roles played by those of us who hold jobs and actively participate as consumers are roles that aren’t conducive to becoming better human beings. If we allow ourselves to remain solely defined by our status as producer/consumer citizens of the U.S. economy, which most of us do no matter what our title or profession is, then we probably don’t grow that much spiritually or intellectually beyond where we left off with such endeavors during our years of high school and college when we felt like it was okay to pursue thinking about thinking on our leisure time. Most of us don’t even question how we feel about it–we seem to think that it is quite okay the way it is–improving our inner selves is a waste of time when there is a game on or a big meal in front of us to devour.

As long as I don’t expect too much in the way of freedoms, I can live pretty happily in the time and place that I live. It’s only when I start having the old yearnings for travel and acquiring more friends, power and wealth, that I get depressed and realize just how free I am not. The freedom my mind has to wander wherever it will is not closely matched at all by what freedoms my waking, physical self has in this world. I can’t fly up from the sofa, out of my house and over to Washington D.C. to poke my head into some inner quorum of dealmaking going on between politicians and their benefactors. I can’t fly back in time to meet the Abstract Expressionists in NYC or the Beats in SF.

The frustration of what is lost by being unable to physically experience something that you can only experience with the mind is the source of all depression, angst, and rage.

The solace that I take in being able to let my mind wander where it will is at times a perfect comfort and other times an utter sham.

If I thought my thoughts had power.

If I thought that my thoughts had any power to transform the world, what would I think about all the time? Would I continue to let little obsessions get the better of me?

What if it was revealed that each of us holds an infinite amount of power, by way of channeling some kind of mental/emotional energy, and that the powers-that-be know this, and use media imagery to keep us pacified? If each of us stopped watching any and all television, and stopped obsessing over the outcomes of sporting and political matches, and started focusing all of our attention on the power that we hold inside of us.

It all would have to begin with the basic act of truly believing it to be so. You don’t believe that you hold that kind of power. That is nonsense meant for the youth, who can still believe they might end up like Harry Potter in the near future. But, you don’t believe you hold that kind of power because you never took the time to fully and completely believe that you do.

It would have to begin with each of us accepting that we can hold infinite power as individuals, and that by infinite, we mean infinite-seeming to a being who exists on a 3Dspace+1Dtime plane. That by accepting our power, we won’t trample on each other, for most of us are innately good-hearted, and we wouldn’t want our power to hurt an innocent being. And by accepting our power, we won’t be trampling on the territory of God and Jesus, who you might think would take offense at our acceptance and assertion of individual power.

But, as the rationale goes, if we can only access it by believing in it, and it is clearly extant once we access it, then why wouldn’t God want us accessing it? Is it only the domain of Lucifer? Are we to be so incredibly docile and meek that we must hide our lights under a bushel?

There is light and then there is light, and sometimes in a reading of the Bible the light of the love of the Lord and the light of Lucifer don’t seem that much different. But the light of the love of the Lord carries with it the pure Heart Love, that is absent from Lucifer’s light. So, if you want to accept your power, and express it, be sure to be in complete touch with your heart as well as your head, or you might find yourself among those who gain the world but lose their souls.

At any rate, I can’t help but wonder if all my thoughts do have power, and the results of my blasts of love or hate have had effects unseen, but were every bit as impactful for good or evil as me walking next door to my neighbor with a loaf of bread or a stick of dynamite in my hand.

…and you are credit card debt-free.

For the first time since you turned 20, you are carrying no credit card debt whatsoever. The moment is anti-climactic. Anyone who might really appreciate the struggle you went through is dead or out of your life. Remember breaking up with Olivia, and carrying about ten grand in debt while making only twenty grand a year? Then, Karen Winthrop and the gang sucked you in to go out drinking every night after work, and you still had another ten grand available on the plastic, because in college you’d provided your dad’s salary on a credit card application.

Over three months, you ran up that extra ten grand and then some. It took you another two years to move back into having a salary of thirty grand a year. You ate one meal every other day: a can of tuna, a box of pasta, and a can of vegetables. Five years later, you took the hard hit on cashing out your 401K, and got your debt back to where it at least wasn’t so bad that you dragged yourself home helpless every night from the awful backbreaking load you carried around on your shoulders.

But then, somehow, you managed to run up another 10K within a few short years. Your salary had jumped to fifty grand, and you thought: what the hell? I’m on my way to making it now, I can live a little. And then, it was back to tuna pasta and veg every night. The economy tanked, and you hardly noticed. Your salary tanked, but not by much.

You don’t want to stop to think about how much money the credit card companies made off of you during these past eighteen years. Oh, the shame and pain of having to learn how to handle credit the hard way. One thing you can say: you never defaulted on any loans and never declared bankruptcy. The few times you asked daddy for money, you paid him back within a few months, except for that stupid loan on that stupid house you bought with Olivia. That one took a while longer, but whatever.

You don’t want to stop and think about all the places you missed traveling to during the prime of your life, because you carried this around on your shoulders. You’d rather think about how you’ve learned to live within your means and how you paid back every penny you ever borrowed, times at least ten.

If you were standing up to receive an award for your accomplishment, you’d probably thank nobody but yourself for this one. You may not have worked exceptionally hard to become a rich man, but you did this particular work almost completely by yourself. Go have a drink, and feel good about slipping them the plastic for the tab.

…and you try to break free.

You try to break free. You have to break free. You’ve been playing some of these songs for almost a decade, now. The same old habits, and the same old thought patterns. The same descent into what might have been, and only if. 

You are entering a period in your life when you can begin to expand again. Nobody is limiting you or stopping you. You don’t have to pretend that the people who you work with will one day read your blog and find themselves in the characters you describe. You don’t have to wonder if God will punish you, or your wife will kick you out of the house.

Think about what it means to be who you are in the time and place in which you live.

This is pretty important, and pretty amazing. The older you get, the more you realize just how much your DNA and your culture made you who you are. You are about as far from being a self-made man as a man can get. You would have been a poor man if you’d had poorer parents, and a rich man if Mom and Dad had been richer. Who you are today has everything to do with the hard work of others, and little or nothing to do with you.

But, this is nothing to be despondent about. You don’t need to feel bad that you didn’t possess a strong will and ego to power through every single group you encountered to become their leader. You don’t have to cry over the fact that you are not exceptional.

What you have, is the great gift. You have the great gift of still being alive on this plane of existence.

Each time you draw a breath of air into your lungs you are receiving another great gift. Each time you get to watch a movie, read a book, fly somewhere or eat a great meal, you are bearing the proof that you are truly an extremely wealthy man. You live like a king compared to almost every other single human being who has ever lived in the history of humanity.

You can hop over to Wikipedia and learn anything you want to, without going to the public library, or even pulling down a heavy tome off of a shelf. You can click onto a pizza delivery chain’s website and have food and beverages brought to your door.

Listen, you should start paying more attention to what the voices inside your head are saying. Beyond the broken record voices that you created once upon a time there are voices who don’t speak of vengeance and how poorly life treated you. There are voices of love and excitement. There are voices letting you know that there is still so much life left to be lived. There are voices that can guide your mind where to go on the days when you don’t have the means to drive or fly anywhere. Take advantage of the voices in your head. Nobody out there has to know.

Let’s get started, shall we? 

…and it is that time.

It is that time, my son. It is that time, Mother. You have walked down many different roads, but now it is that time to enter this particular path.

When you were young, you went where you willed yourself to go. You laughed at the suggestion that you believed yourself to be immortal, but you didn’t know death the way you do now.

Nothing makes a man so meek as the realization that he is completely powerless in the face of death, and now you know this meekness as well. As you were in the beginning, so shall you be in the end. If only you’d had the patience and the heart to be this way in the middle, then perhaps you wouldn’t be fearing the judgement of the higher forces.

What is it about being alive on this earth that can make some folks willing to go on living at any cost of pain, and cause others to seek out snuffing their own lives when the slightest of ill winds blows their way?

You can’t declare that you know who you are until you’ve walked down this particular path. All of the books, movies and happy songs you sang seem to be so far away as you ascend into the tunnel with the being of light.

It’s like you are forgetting everything, but you are pretty sure there will be someone at the other end of the tunnel to help you remember it all.

How many days did you waste away, just loafing by the sea with a book draped on your knee and a glass of sugary sweet booze in your hand? How many people did you carelessly dismiss as being unfit to be your friend or your lover?

You might get thrown into the lottery, and wake up tomorrow as a dog, or a profoundly crippled little boy. You might be an ogre of a man, or a hairy woman, or a teen cast in abject poverty. Yesterday you were somebody great, and you actually believed that your greatness was due to your own efforts, and tomorrow all those efforts will mean nothing to the culture you inhabit. In fact, you might become quickly shunned, teased, mocked, raped, stoned.

You don’t know.

You prayed to a higher deity once or twice when you were too scared to walk down the hall to the bathroom, and prayed to your mother’s God when you were facing the death of your spouse. You try to pray now, but the words don’t come.

What are words, anyway?

There are so many words tossed carelessly about. You can go a lifetime writing millions of words that nobody will ever read; or say the wrong two words at the wrong time in the boardroom and lose your entire career in the blink of an eye.

You can make so many different promises and deals with God that you know you’ll never keep, and never think that any consequence will come of it. But, you can take a million lifetimes to repair one misspent life, one life spent being wretched and evil toward humanity.

Men and women who find their voices become like gods on this earth. They are promoted quickly through the ranks of the tribes that they move in. Those with strong voices can also quickly become hated by the silent masses who look on with envy. In the flash of a group consciousness shift, a beloved leader can suddenly be hung, shot or nailed to a tree.

You can move through an entire lifetime without a voice of your own, and find yourself creating more evil than good on this earth, just to be heard and recognized for a little while by other members of humanity.

But when the day comes, and it has, the words you made and the words you tried to take back will all be gathered up and placed in the great weights of karmic justice. Are you fit for heaven or hell or earth again? You can’t believe any of it. No, you absolutely won’t. But, come now, the time ahead no longer belongs to you and your voice. You cannot move as you wish, but you move apace with your angelic handlers.

It is that time, my son. It is that time, Mother.

On this morning, when I woke up, I started to think about all of the same old stuff

On this morning, when I woke up, I started to think about all of the same old stuff. All of the people who probably manipulated me in the past, all of the dreams that were never realized, and all of the ways in which my life as a childless man are drawing to a close.

And then, I started to remember what this time of my life needs to be about. This is not a constant, mournful gaze back to the past or a trembling, reluctant tiptoe to the future. Such is the story of my life, and you can see just how far that kind of living got me.

This is a time of my life where everything is up for consideration to be destroyed and reworked. There are no sacred cows. If it is no longer in my best interest to mourn the dead, then perhaps I should let the dead be wherever they may be on this plane or another one. If it is no longer in my best interest to cast my gaze upon the activities of politicians, nation state leaders and celebrities, then all of these must be destroyed inside my head.

Once you make a thing yours, then you feel the need to defend it in ways you really never will be able to.

You can make yourself feel better psychologically by waving a flag and screaming for God and country; toting a gun and screaming for the right to keep you babies safe. The day may come when you are tested, or it may never come. You may fail or pass the test when you are tested, but you don’t know, no matter how much you think you do.

What I don’t want or need anymore in my life are mental blocks that I built to keep me comfort.

Nothing rings in my head with more seductive appeal than the thought of immersing myself in video games and science fiction for the next twenty years, while I get fat and chase Junior around the house. I am also angry at this side of me, and will leap up to do a few bicep curls and run up and down the street when this side of me starts to appear to be winning too much.

There is a sneering, sophisticated man that sits on the far other side of me from the fat, complacent slob. He absolutely despises the fact that I am settling down in a small Texas town, and that I’ve given up too many times in my pursuit of career advancement. He thinks I have sold myself short in every single life choice I’ve made, from the way I cut my hair, to the choice of my car, to my deciding to keep the stray puppy who came into my life after my Husky dog died. This man is much more dangerous, because when I let just a bit of him come inside me, I do find myself moving to a better job, finding a wife, etc. Of course, he thinks everything I do is a sissy’s compromise, and if he had it his way, I would have left Missouri right after college to go to NYC to become a day trader, and be the Wolf of Wall Street cliche.

I can’t discount either of these fellows, actually, but neither of them are quite accurate.

The slob misses the mark of Truth, and this should be plainly evident. He has accepted his environment without question, and doesn’t want to raise a finger to change it. It’s better to get as holed up in a little cocoon or mancave womb, and tell God he can wake you up when it’s all over. The worldly, cold man is of course, not any closer to the Truth, as he is the kind of man who will gain the world and lose his soul. However, he comes closer to the Truth, just because he refuses to bury his head in the sand, and faces every single problem life throws at him head on.

Neither of them really have any sort of compassion for others, or sense of curiosity about how poorly most of the world is being treated. They are both extremely self-absorbed in their own ways, although the slob will likely help someone in need if he’s put in the right situation to do it–he hasn’t lost his soul, he’s simply tried to hide himself away from it.

The will is here to not allow myself to take fatherhood as a copout vacation from improving myself.

The question for the last ten or more years has been: what the hell am I supposed to be doing on this Earth? The imperative moving forward is to be an active producer/creator in everything I do. The time of being a passive consumer is over.

Even when I’m surfing hundreds of news articles in one sitting, I should be taking notes–at least in my head, so that I’m not this simple slug who mindlessly slurps up everything without bothering to think twice about what any of it means.

The focus has to be less on the things that tend to make the news–we are some of the poorest souls you’d ever know, when we allow ourselves to remain undeveloped even as we devote huge amounts of our time to worrying about what politicians and celebrities are doing — people we have almost no control over whatsoever command more of our time and attention than our own damn selves, of which we have almost infinite control over when we are still young and healthy.

The key here is control, and how one’s impression of it changes through time.

When I was younger, I thought I had more of it than I really did. Somehow, I thought that I was in control of what happened to my hair. I thought I was ultimately going to be responsible for getting whatever I wanted out of my life–including my lovers, my cars, my houses, my jobs. In the face of life constantly telling me otherwise, I still found ways to get up every morning and tell myself that today was going to be different. The unfortunate part to all of this was that I was overlooking any particular ways in my soul that I actually did or could have control. In other words, I was foregoing doing a lot of work on improving self control of my still-adolescent, selfish tendencies, while I pretended that I was exercising enough control over my environment that I would quickly become a powerful and great man.

The great bicycle accident of 2006 changed a lot of this. It would take me many more years of making painful adjustments to myself and how it related to its environment before I began to understand better the ways in which I really did have the ability to control myself and my environment.

The ways are much subtler, and don’t get turned into Hollywood movies. Learning to control one’s spending habits so that one isn’t in debt all the time–that’s not the plotline of a great blockbuster film, but it is an enormous step in the development of the self, and one worthy of great recognition. Learning to control how many drinks one has in one sitting–a great masterwork of control. Learning to modulate one’s voice in the face of highly dominant personalities–exceptional.

What I probably don’t even understand just yet, is that I’m on the verge of opening up whole new frontiers of inquiry for myself. They might seem at times to be trite to the outside reader, but the subtle changes in the patterns of mental habits that I will witness will accrue to become something quite remarkable.

For me, maintaining the mental discipline not to have a kneejerk reaction to start thinking about some event or person in the past is a discipline more extreme than attempting to become a chess champion or highly enlightened yogi.

The other kneejerk reactions that seem almost out of my reach to ever control: being able to control when and how much I masturbate, not resorting to infantile temper tantrums when I’m working at home alone and someone sends me changes to my work or the software tool isn’t cooperating, not mindlessly surfing the news when I have downtime to read any number of the hundreds of books I’ve purchased and haven’t finished, being able to think of a creative solution at all times to all problems that come up, instead of resorting to the overly hyped critical-thinking mode (which in and of itself can be an extremely useful tool, but becomes a pathological disorder when one can’t turn it off).

I need to be very clear about who I am and what I want out of life moving forward, because if I’m not, then people will continue to take advantage of me. Even well-meaning individuals will think they are offering opportunities to me that I really don’t want to take.

I need to be patient with God. I need to have the good sense to know when a blessing is unfolding in my life, and if I start rushing it, or seek to move on to something else, I could be missing out on an important lesson and gift. I need to be able to recognize when I am getting too caught up in a topic that I am reading to the point that I am just getting drunk on knowledge without my reading serving any other purpose. It’s okay to have downtime where I am just reading for entertainment, but I should be very clear about this when I approach it, so that I don’t find myself suddenly caught up in an intellectual pursuit that is far afield from my core path of self development.

I still have too much of a tendency to worry about what other people think — as if there is an imaginary audience of people who are trying to counter everything I say, every time I say it or write it. It is certainly good to be completely aware of the fact that the world is always seeking to shoot you down in the face of any endeavor you undertake — there are many people out there who just love to see someone else fail, but many more who simply prefer to pick apart at whatever is put in front of them without offering any practical or constructive suggestions to make it better. Having an awareness of this reality can prevent me from becoming overly confident and egotistic, but at the same time, if I am constantly feeling as if I need to apologize for what I believe and think to be true, then I will end up stuck in first gear — always trying to defend a position, instead of moving on to further down the path of insights.

The thing that is missing

The dreams insist that something is missing. Something urgent needs to be made manifest and brought into my life front and center before I die. This isn’t the missing puzzle piece to obtaining greatness, as greatness is expressed by Man. This is the area where I alone am lacking.

The search has been derailed and sent down many false paths by the images of man. If only I try hard enough at this particular thing, then I will achieve the glory and greatness that was meant for me. That which remains elusive and missing to me in the waking world has been too often a thing sought out in a million books and bottles. Places of knowledge and depravity.

But in each quest I reached a point where I was told that I could go no further unless I abandoned my connection with God in favor of making that thing my god. The stark realization that appeared: if I should choose to remain obsessed with becoming something other than who I am, I will be rewarded with the great gift of being that thing, but I will no longer be a child of God.

I had to walk back with my head hung in dismay and return to the Source, the starting point, the same place I’ve returned to since I was but a boy. The only thing I have with me now that might make the outcome different is a glimmer of understanding that the Truth can only be reached through a constant dialogue with the Source, which is to be undertaken while remaining a regular reader of Scripture and in constant fellowship and communion with others who are on this path.

If I am to simply treat the scriptures as if they are another historical artifact, to be read and analyzed and memorized, then the scriptures will have as much impact to my betterment as reading any other teachings of wise men who hope to improve their readers. The impact will not be negative, at least at first. But, because I am not seeing the scriptures as the words of a living God who lives and breathes through the presence of the Holy Spirit, I will not find my soul completely restored.

The thing that is missing from my life can’t directly be found in the texts without the guidance of the Spirit, because the thing is mine and mine alone to grasp. It may look and sound like what is missing from the lives of others, but their paths are unique and can only be made perfectly manifest during their individual times of contemplation.

I don’t think that the missing thing is a particular body of knowledge of which I am lacking, but may encompass many. Fundamentally, my subconscious appears to be trying to tell me that there was something everyone else learned back in high school or college that I never learned.

These are the days where I am resigned to accepting that when I interact with people, the engagement will end with them either: immediately reacting negatively to me or dismissing me after very little polite, banal conversation. The whole notion of being able to develop deeper, more satisfying adult relationships with those around me has been put to rest. I’ve come to accept this and recognize that I am moving into a time period where I need to focus on presenting myself to my child in a most exemplary way, and assist him in becoming a young man of good character. I would say that if it turns out that this too was not meant to be, then I will find myself incapable of doing anything beyond merely existing.

The thing that is missing shows itself inside almost any external experience or internal memory or piece of written knowledge or wisdom. In other words, it can be found everywhere like little flecks of gold. It’s the main vein, the primary cache that will lead me to the motherlode that I’ve sought fruitlessly. The appeal of taking on a certain mode of existence that is simple and humble always comes with it, but then so many lives of simple men seem like traps laid out so that I might wander in the proverbial desert for the rest of my life.

The primary aspect of what is missing, though, has to do with how I am at all times and in all situations, which becomes the sum total of who I am. The vision of who I am is that of a wise, old-but-active gentleman who is capable in many life situations, but also is completely aware of when another man is more capable. This man is free of the cant, insipidity, and sycophantic prattling that came out of my mouth so much when I was younger. He is also free of the quickness to anger and mad desire to see revenge quickly enacted upon those he believes slighted him.

The struggle, since adolescence, has been one of constantly yearning to be the most masculine of men, and finding myself in practice being weak, effete and prone to letting those around me get the better of me. This has meant that a constant inner/outer struggle is there, where I am quick to torment myself for being so unmanly, without pausing to try to examine more deeply what is preventing the broken pieces from being fixed. The outer portion of the struggle consists of me entering into hypercritical phases where every single person’s character flaws are magnified to the nth degree.

As much as I have resigned myself to accepting that I can’t have meaningful adult relationships with others, I’ve also come to understand that I can’t become a complete hermit, either. The persistence of the outside world to enter into my consciousness and demand some form of engagement will always be there.