The will to persist is here

The will to persist is here. I don’t feel like letting up. The struggle is hard. It will not be an easily won fight. Each week, at the start of the week, temptation to fall back into all of the old patterns begins to rear its head.

My problem may be that I’m not using my imagination enough.

This morning, my mind takes me back to May of 2006 when I flew to San Diego for the 2nd annual Web Corp Comm event. The angry side of me was already starting. The ego. The man who thought he was entitled to something. I was rude to the man at the check-in desk.

I got terribly sick on that trip. It was the sickest I think I’ve ever been in my adult life. Almost ten days, including most of the trip, I was at the mercy of a bad flu. Before the sickness had begun to set in real bad, I walked down to a nearby beach. It was a dog park beach. I loved it. I wanted to spend the entire trip down at this beach.

I can remember still very clearly dining in a Denny’s one morning by myself and hearing a young couple–probably high school or not much older–talking about whether or not they wanted to continue the relationship. I can still recall the girl saying, “You see, I was thinking it was going to be just a couple of nice f***s and that’s it, but then it got out of hand and became something more.” My imagination was in the red with the whole notion of it.

I never learned to adjust to the modern world like all of my awkward friends. They accepted themselves as they were and found their tribes.

I never accepted myself as I am. I always felt that somewhere lost inside of me was a perfect badass trying to punch his way out of a nerd’s mind and body.

I never went along with that notion “just be yourself” very well. I always felt like when I tried to just be myself, it never quite worked the way I intended it to. Or, to be more precise, I wasn’t getting the expected responses from others.

…and you are born again.

Each morning is a rebirth. You celebrate New Year’s Day and the morning of your birthday, as well as some other solstices, equinoxes, anniversaries and special dates as being significant. But, each morning is a rebirth.

You tend to think that once the week is underway, there is no hope for getting back to your place of peace until the weekend comes.

Each morning you wake up and feel cleansed, but immediately the problems of your particular time and place in life overwhelm you.

You are fiercely proud of your imagination and your creativity, but more often than not, they get you into holes and under mountains that don’t need to be there. This is where you could let God step in.

You don’t see a way out of so many little hells here on earth, but God gets you out of them time and again, and yet you still show so little faith for Him and his ability to do great things.

You declare a problem to be intractable and that you’ve reached a dead end here. It’s time to reject ever being able to conceive of achieving that particular dream in this life. You say you believe in God, and go through the motions at church, but then you come home and fume and fret about the utter impossibility of your situation.

Or, you take it all upon your head to try to solve without God’s help. You only ask God to step in when you’ve sinned or when you feel your life is in danger of ending.

Is it simply pride that prevents you from asking for help at all times? Are your eyes too blind to see and remember every past situation in your life when you thought you were hopelessly stuck, and God opened a door where there was no door? Are you so arrogant as to demand that God show you the way in which you will get out of the situation before he’s ready?

You’d like to think that you are changing in many mighty ways. But when Monday morning comes, you meet the same self you’ve been carrying around for so long that you believe this is all there is to being you. You greet the day with the same sloppy patterns of behavior that have kept you from being bad, but also kept you from becoming great.

Let’s be clear–if you are as clever and creative as you think you are, and God is as great and wonderful as you believe him to be, then why are you still walking in a rut of mediocrity? Just because you can’t see what lies ahead doesn’t mean that something wonderful is on the way! Your actions would indicate that you have little or no faith, and that you would rather be some kind of angel who can see the future than be a man.

If prophecy was really meant to be one of your gifts, then you will have it in good time. If it is not, then you can cease trying to acquire it through your own misguided attempts and arrogant demands made upon God.

If you are stuck in a rut–and all signs would indicate that you are–then perhaps the first steps are going to be small ones. Disrupt your morning routine. Don’t attempt to make any grand plans and set ambitious schedules of running, working out, prayer, reading, writing, etc. Just do things differently. Instead of groggily slurping that first cup of coffee while reading unimportant news, why not try splashing cold water on your face and walking the dog, then reading your Bible?

You could pick up books at random, and read passages from them. You could refuse to check your email until it’s time to go to work. You could stop reading the news until much later in the day. You could briefly watch a mass-market morning show in an attempt to have some of the same experiences others do waking up. You could go find webcams in other parts of the country or world, and sit and meditate on the power of peace that pervades all societies and radically arrests even the most horrific strains of violence.

The world of man would never have reached the stage of peace and economic prosperity that it has today if the men and women known in history were the only ones that made a difference. The anonymous people throughout time who sought only to have a harmonious existence with their families, neighbors and environment are the people who keep the peace. If all people were to rise up and want absolute power and dominion as gods, and all humans were to lose that natural spirit of peace, then the world would be covered in the blood of a total, anarchic war. In short, if each of us behaved like some of our worst leaders and celebrities, then life really would be like life described in the Leviathan.

Which is not to say that men and women of history have not made any difference at all. But, by and large, the great number of ones we hold up and esteem as being the game changers for the kinds of freedoms we enjoy were but the figureheads for movements and people toiling behind the scenes anonymously and without any expectation that they’d ever receive credit for what they did.

The most radical spirit of all the spirits is the spirit of peace. This spirit dwells in all of us from birth, and is at first the easiest one to access. But, we are trained from the earliest age to seek out ways to hold power and control over our fellow human beings. Children in kindergarten who are asked to line up to go to recess will soon realize the benefit in being first in line. The benefit has nothing to do with being able able to enjoy the outdoors five seconds before another classmate, but everything to do with holding a place of power and prestige over other classmates. The awe and respect that flows to the more dominant little ones becomes the more important thing to seek out for the rest of one’s life. Each of us in our own way seeks to get as far away from our spirit of peace and good conscience in favor of the spirit of control and dominion.

If we are not gifted with looks and athleticism, we find other ways to control and dominate our peers. Each of us feels a kind of thrill surging up within us the moment another human being gives his or her power over to us, and looks to us to be the leader. Even the lowliest of us who is mocked and teased by almost every other classmate might find a child with mental development issues to mock and tease in turn, or a younger sibling to lord ourselves over. Of course, because our ancestors have spent millenia developing laws and mores to prevent every new human on the earth from doing whatever he or she can to gain total power, we are eventually (hopefully) socialized into practicing our quests for power and dominion in a more constructive fashion.

But, the laws and mores of our society are almost 100% there to prevent each of us from trying to wrest control of governments and become demigods. The channels of sport and commerce give the more egocentric of us opportunities to be every bit as ruthless and cunning without typically having to resort to physical violence and bloodshed. The less malleable will find a home in the military, and those even less malleable will end up in prison.

The laws and mores of God are all about the path toward peace, and finding the spirit we were all gifted with as children. The laws of God do not permit one human being to have control over another, because in God’s eyes, the hierarchy is completely flat once you get below the order of Jesus and the angels and the saints. Everyone here on earth is an equal and should be treated as a brother or sister.

In short, the rule of law and humanist ethics seek to forge evil into something useful in the material world. The rule of God seeks to do away with evil completely and replace it with Love. You must abandon your lusting after the ways of man. If you were able to completely abandon the laws and mores of man in favor of the ways of God, you could live on this earth unharmed, because you would have nothing that another human being could take away from you. Since you cannot completely abandon these laws, you must abide by them to the extent that they do not actively remove God from your life.

But, there may come a time in the not-so-distant future when humans have declared that God is evil, because they conflate the wars of man over power and resources with the laws of God. They will confidently argue that the way to peace is through following only the laws of man, and that any expression of the spiritual is a cause of war. During the first years of this new world order, there will be a great global peace like no one has ever seen on this earth, and the humanists will proclaim victory. But then, those who still know God and the spirit of peace endowed in them from birth will want to continue to worship God and pray to him in peace. These humans will be tortured and butchered for their ways.

You shouldn’t concern yourself with these things, though. If you don’t have yourself right with God and the spirit of peace yet, then you will inevitably run to the law of man for protection, and still seek in small ways to hold power and dominion over others. You will lust after little material things, even if you don’t have grand aspirations to be a great lord and god over many other people. You will find delight in the empty creations of man that have sprung up, and seem to exist independently of the primal creative force that gave men the power to create these things.

Divorced completely from this primal creative force, men will continue to create so-called art that is vastly inferior to what came before them. They will make noise and call it music, they will assemble trash and call it sculpture, they will slash canvases and smear all kinds of fluids on the canvases and call it art. They will violently defend their so-called art, hiding being excessive verbiage and rationalization for its existence. In these days you might find some spark of the creative force throughout these works, and feel as if you are delighting in something that is good for the soul. But, if you have enough of the spirit of peace left in you, you will quickly see that these works are vastly inferior to the naturally created works of God. You will walk out even into places in nature that have been badly destroyed by the trash and so-called progress of man, and find natural things that man can’t yet come close to creating, and declare them to be gorgeous and intoxicating.

Of course, don’t get drunk and high on Creation, for it is but a manifestation of the greatness of the Creator. You will see much more marvelous things in times to come, and of course, you know that it is idolatry to worship the creation instead of the Creator.

But, above all, you must return to having simple faith in Jesus and his ability to move the mountains that exist in your life. If you can’t pause for even ten minutes to consider this while you whine and complain about your lot in life, then what good are you to convincing others that Christianity is a path worth following?

…inside a world you did not create.

You can’t take credit for any of this. You were drug along ruthlessly by forces much greater than any force you could possibly produce of your own volition. All evidence of free will and control of your life is illusory. This is what you believe now that you are too old to move around much at all.

What is freedom, anyway? Is freedom being free to come and go as you please, wherever and whenever you like? If that’s the case, then you lived your life in a world where you had little freedom to speak of. In ten short years, you watched the driver’s license you were so proud to earn become a National ID card, and then a Global ID card.

You spent some of your life blaming your father and men like him for the kind of planet that he left you to inherit. Your dad was raised on dreams of becoming President, and being part of the colonization of Mars. Your dad was raised in an era where he watched his freedoms evaporate, one by one, but did little to try to stop it. After all, he reasoned, he still could publish whatever he wanted to on the Internet, and get in his car and drive about the country. Of course, he rarely did these things because everybody was publishing what they wanted to on the Internet and nobody was reading anything that the other guy published, and the cost of fueling and maintaining a car that you drove all over the country (not to mention the expenses of lost wages from not working and being able to stay at a reasonably safe motel) was prohibitive.

You began to see things differently as you became more acquainted with the arc of history that began long before your dad was born.

You could see that he and your grandfathers were already ensnared by forces that they couldn’t comprehend or change. When men ended the first great war of the 20th Century, they came up with a treaty that everyone hated and few abode by it. When men ended the second great war, they came up with a treaty that very few people knew about, and even fewer understood where the spoils of that war were headed.

When you were ten years of age, you noticed something very peculiar happening to people in your neighborhood. They would momentarily freeze up, roll their eyes into the back of their heads until only the whites showed, and snap their heads back and forth, spouting gibberish, sometimes barking like dogs. You rarely watched television, because your parents had made it clear that television was for a person who had no imagination. But, you happened to catch a news program running on several screens when you went into a Walmart (something else your parents had always declared was meant for an inferior kind of person). You were with your friend on a sleepover, and his mother had said she needed to stop in and grab something real quick.

Suddenly, the news anchor froze up, and began the weird seizure you’d witnessed happening to several people. Your friend’s mom, along with most of the other adults in the store, were all having the same seizure, and only you and your friends seemed immune to it.

“What is happening to them?” you asked.

“Happening to who?” asked your friend.

“Your mom and all the other grownups. Do you not see it?”

And then, it was over. Your friend gave you a blank look, shook his head and muttered, “you’re crazy,” and then everything was more or less back to normal.

You asked your parents about it. “Well…” your dad began, looking to your mom for assistance.

“It’s not something you need to know about yet,” said your mom. “It’s something a lot of grown-ups are participating in, and we’re not.”

“But, my friend Barry acted like he couldn’t even see it.”

“His mom gave him something so he can’t see it.”

Later on in life, you noticed that around the age of fourteen, a lot of your friends (especially the ones whose parents were already having the seizures) would be out of school for a week, and then they’d come back and be among the ones seizing up as well. Most of your teachers had the seizures, and classes would come to a standstill for these 3-5 minute periods where everyone shook and barked in sync with each other.

At this point, it became pretty obvious who was and wasn’t part of the seizing class.

You would seek out those kids in your high school years, and at first, they were reluctant to even associate with you. None of them would talk much about what was happening. You could clearly see that the seizure kids were easily the most popular, athletic, and got the best grades. Any time a special field trip or project came up, they were always picked. Occasionally, you would sneak a peek at one of their papers that had received the mark of an A+, and the paper would either be empty of answers and writing, or the writing would be all gibberish.

Finally, around the age of 16, you furiously demanded that your parents tell you what the hell was happening to people.

“The world is changing extremely fast, and a new class is being formed, Steve,” said your father, finally caving in.

“But, why aren’t we a part of this class?” you asked.

“Well, it’s kind of complicated, but your mother and I decided pretty early on that we weren’t going to participate. The offer came up during the early years of the Watson presidency, and we could have checked a little box on our IRS forms to join.”

“Is this why you and mom lost your jobs at the university, and now work down at the Megamart stocking shelves?”

“Well, not exactly.”

“Of course it is!” snapped your mom. “We both had tenured, faculty positions and low teaching loads. We’ve given up everything all because your father believes in some passage in a book of fairy tales.”

“Why did you go along with dad, then, if you don’t believe what he does?”

“Oh son, I used to, but now things are different. It’s hard. This world is so very hard on a person, and the beautiful things of the spirit and soul are sucked out of the body as an adult gets older and older. Very few people believe anything about God and higher places by the time they get to be my age.”

“So, why not just divorce dad and go off and participate in the program?”

Your dad shot you a dark look that made you shudder.

“Because I watched your grandfather, my dad, die. All of his life he’d been a pretty staunch agnostic, and then when he started to lose his life force, he suddenly began seeing spiritual things, and converted to Catholicism. It made me think that perhaps there is some kind of greater force that keeps us going–one that we just don’t see in the prime of our lives. But, I’m hardly ready to become a Catholic or even go back to church.”

Your family had stopped going to church about the time you were eight.

“But I still don’t understand what the program is, or why people would want to do it, or why they are having seizures.”

“I couldn’t honestly say, son, because the program itself is pretty secretive. All I know is that these people now put 70% of their income back into the program. They seem healthier and happier for the most part, but I’ve heard stories of IRS agents coming into their houses and removing all of their books.”

“But, hardly anyone ever reads a real book anymore. They are just decorations. Don’t they get everything they read online?”

“Well…I’ve heard that their Internet is a lot different than ours. Before you were born, they had a service called AOL that delivered a very stripped down version of the Internet. Remember that time we went and stayed in Corpus Christi, and you found that USA Today newspaper outside of the room?”

You smiled and laughed. You’d never seen a newspaper before, and you thought it was for kindergartners because the news they reported was so simple and easy for even you, a bright eight year old, to read. You read so much more news every day with your dad on the tablets.

“That certainly was a dying technology,” your dad chuckled kind of wistfully, “Well, the people who are part of the program have a version of the Internet that’s kind of like what that newspaper was to real news: news from a million different sources and news written for people who like to read.”

You sat there kind of stunned. Surely it wasn’t true. Perhaps it was just a rumor he’d heard from another coworker who had declined participation.

By the time you had reached the age of 26, you were carrying a Global ID card, along with everyone else who had declined participation in the program. Whatever bugs in the program in its early days that had caused the seizures had clearly been worked out. You were denied passage to other states or even the larger cities or more pleasant parts of your own state. You lived in one of the smaller cities that was full of people who had declared they would never participate in the program. You worked alongside mean-spirited, petty individuals who constantly talked among themselves about rousing a militia. These were hardcore Bible-thumping folk who had declined the program because they interpreted the Bible in a literal fashion. If they had ever decided to participate in the program, the IRS wouldn’t have had much work to do in the way of removing books from their homes.

Your home, however, was filled with books. You kept this a secret, because it seemed like pretty much everyone was against the notion of having books and reading them. Books were your escape to all of the different places that people once had the freedom to roam to. Occasionally, after reading an especially vivid passage, you’d get extremely tempted to go down to the local IRS office and declare your readiness to participate in the program. But, something about the memories of the way all those people’s eyes went white made you refrain from ever doing this.

In your life, you never married, and you only had a few brief relationships that could be described as serious. You were a stranger to almost everyone you knew. You were well-educated and worldly wise (or as worldly wise as you could be without access to everything that was happening in the world of people who actively participated in the new global program). Most women who’d agreed to go on dates with you found you to be strange, a man without a tribe of other men that he consorted with in the dead of night. Of course, dating a woman who was an active participant in the program was out of the question.

In the early days, these women had simply out-talked you with their silver tongues that were powered by direct access to the higher intelligence of the program. By the time you were 36, the Internet was shut down, and you had only access to the knowledge found in old books and the few websites you’d bothered to print out before it went black. You suspected during some of these conversations with women that you were being watched from some kind of cameras embedded in their brains that peaked out through the dots between their eyes. Even if these women had only conscious access to a greatly dumbed-down version of the Internet, they were clearly being fed responses from a vast intelligence beyond them, and these responses were obviously intended to shut down any chance of a rapport being created.

They only went on dates with you out of some morbid curiosity–to try to better comprehend why there were still men who didn’t want to participate in the program. Or, they seemed bent on recruiting you by using the allure of their sex. Just the intoxicating promise of being able to go to bed with them was often enough to have you out of bed the next morning after a night of little sleep and marching in the direction of the IRS office.

But, something always grabbed you and stopped you–maybe one of your parents was looking out for you from somewhere beyond this realm.

The great tribulation described in the Bible has yet to come, and now you are much older and with little health left to fight a certain death. Without access to anything other than the kind of 19th century medicine practiced by pseudo-doctors and faith healers who’d chosen not to participate in the program, your body has seen its share of aches and pains that once took down people in their fifties–and this is now happening to you.

You never would have thought that you would be suffering like a ninety-year-old man of your father’s time period would have suffered by the time you turned 56. But, the only work available for those not in the program went from the night shelve stocking and package throwing of your parents’ time to the really dirty jobs. Little protection for mouth, eyes and hands was available during those years of applying industrial solvents to remove paint and adhesive inside buildings being remodeled. Then, the only work was that of the garbage man, and it was definitely a young man’s job. Moving into your fifties and riding the back of a robotic garbage truck was not the life you’d envisioned for yourself when you were quite young and using your tablets to learn about the world.

And then, all of these jobs were fully automated, and they came and told you that they didn’t need your services, anymore. The younger folks moved through an underground railroad of sorts into the Rocky Mountains. Those of you who were too old to run came together in the ghettos of the town that was now filling up with elites who were part of the program. The house you grew up in, and the one you held onto after your parents died and the work grew more and more grim, was a house that was appropriated by an elite family who threw you out with all of your books and family photographs.

Of course, the powers that be were stunned to see all of the books. The family that came in and forcibly evicted you was too young to know what books were, but the powers that be descended upon all of your things and decimated them in one quick flash of fire.

And so now you live inside a rotting structure that is infested with termites, never had the lead paint removed, and smells of urine and feces from the old people around you who are too weak to even drag themselves to a corner when nature calls. You can still move fairly well, hobbling along a peg leg that was a gift from one of the pseudo-doctors who was able to amputate a horrid case of gangrene setting in after your leg had gotten mangled in a garbage compactor.

And then, you suddenly can move again freely. For brief moments, you leave your body and approach the proverbial light. Forces assail you from all sides. This world is now heavily guarded by the same powers that came to this earth to provide the program for people. But, for the first time in your life, you feel that there is indeed a power stronger than all of them that resides in you. It is a life-giving, creative force that only someone who’d declined participation in the program still has. It is a force that you can feel emanating from within a place of the heart, and pouring out onto your missing limb.

Something is reviving you, and you think that it isn’t completely of your own volition, but it can’t do its work without your help.

You suddenly have a vision. It’s a vision of the next world after this, and it is a world that you will help create.

The moments where I reach the most for God

The moments where I reach the most for God are the moments when the Devil tries as hard as he can to get in. The Devil doesn’t need to work too hard when I am schlepping along on auto-pilot, and am more or less marching to the beat of the NWO programming. It’s only when I start trying to wake up from my circumstances and become someone better than who I am that the Devil begins to aggressively squeeze poison coated in candy into my skull.

I too often easily conflate the idea of becoming a better person in the spiritual sense of the word with improving intellectual, physical, social and ego-related parameters. All of them get mixed up, and ego usually runs off with the rest of them. It isn’t long before life reminds me of the vast difference between who I really am and who my overinflated ego thinks I am. All it takes is a few minutes spent with people who are more attractive, more personable, socially adjusted and better looking than I am–and who are the same age as me or slightly younger–and I remember that I am not even half the man my ego led me to believe that I was.

The harder part comes with the recovery following the reminder.

It’s too easy to then proceed to believe that I am not even worthy of licking the boots of the lowliest criminal–that I must be some kind of malformed primitive or subhuman. This kind of thinking leads, of course, to self destructive behavior and settling for work that is very much beneath my level of intellect and experience. People also seem to despise even more the man who puts himself in a lower place than he deserves to be. Unless his humility is 100% sincere–and even a 99% sincerely humble man will find his 1% sniffed out by others–a man’s humility is perceived to be at best a weakness worthy of contempt and at worst a ploy to get attention and sympathy to later manipulate those who would fall for it.

Fortunately, I don’t descend into the boot licker funk much anymore.

I have learned to temper the ups and downs with a much more practical and realistic outlook on life. Simply realizing that most people don’t pay that much attention to you when you make mistakes is enough to not go off into a tailspin every time I screw something up. It also helps that I take an anti-histamine every night–this drug seems to prevent me from swinging erratically into manic ups and black, bitter lows.

But, I still have this idea, and perhaps it is misguided, that I’ll be able to reach a point in my life where I don’t need drugs of any kind to regulate myself. I’d like to think that some of the mental space I’m getting to think clearly is helping me retrain my brain to develop new, good habits that will eventually override the old, bad ones.

Equals

If there is one thing I’d like to have completely out of my head before I die, it’s that sense of any particular human (myself included) being more or less worthy and valid to exist on this planet. The subtleties of this sense are profound and many. It comes on without me having to half think about it. A story appears in the news of someone dying, and I immediately express the amount of concern or lack thereof based on the newly deceased’s class, race, age, nationality, and what they did with their life. This isn’t a conscious thing, and it’s often so immediate and instinctual, that it is hardly thought about twice.

It isn’t like I have a well-defined linear progression in my head for how important a person is, and how valuable their life is. But, at the same time, I think I instinctively do possess something of the sort, even if I couldn’t quantify it for you on demand. A great composer or scientist sits above me on this unholy food chain, and people living in impoverished countries who die mostly in anonymity sit some place below me.

In any given situation, when I meet someone face-to-face, I am quick to promote them to a pedestal or demote them to a subterranean area. It is the way in which the cult of celebrity perpetuates itself. If Lady Gaga dies tomorrow, the world will find this to be more of a loss than if I die tomorrow.

This has been the source of so many of my problems and conflicts in life, that it is absolutely a must-go in order for me to evolve spiritually. My two worst faults of childhood and adolescence, making fun of others and being an excessive people-pleaser, brought me all kinds of misery as I grew into adulthood. You should go through life making fun of nobody, ever. Perhaps you can make mild jabs at yourself now and then to put people at ease, but that’s about it. Even extensive making fun of yourself is cause for concern.

You should go through life with a zero tolerance for the uprising of the people-pleasing mentality. Perhaps when you are still under the age of four, it makes sense to have this kind of mentality, but any persistence of it means that people will take advantage of you, and that you will resent them in your moments of clarity about who you are and how they are using you.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with following directions when it makes sense to play by the rules, and it certainly is a virtue to love your parents and let them guide you into adulthood, but it is quite another thing to be caught up in a will to seek immediate fanfare in everything you do, and fall into deep depression when your every action is not recognized by the people you want to please. It sows the seeds of rebellion and hatred of elders, because you aren’t genuinely considered about their happiness and welfare–you are trying to gratify yourself through immediate praise and recognition.

And, of course, we all know that if you take your people-pleasing mentality with you everywhere you go, you will begin to do things that run counter to each other, and do many things that go against your conscience of what’s right and wrong. Trying to please everyone is a well-known path to failure, but even a mild case of the “sycophants” can be disastrous.

You would never make fun of anyone, ever, and you would never have a day of the people-pleaser mentality wreaking havoc on your life if you simply saw all human beings as equal creations in God’s eyes. No man is more legitimately here on earth than another man. Your boss doesn’t deserve a longer life than you do. Lady Gaga or President Obama are not better people than you are. Just because they happen to have character traits and wills toward power over others doesn’t mean they are more legitimately human. What they leave behind on earth will be taken and measured in proportion against the true outcomes they left behind, as well as the true talents they were given.

I think that this is to some degree a fault in all of us. We hold up certain people with such high regard that we almost deify them, if we don’t completely go there. When these people fail to live up to our expectations, we are quick to almost demonize them, even if we don’t quite go that far.

I also believe that at some level, each of us has a soul that is about as equal in terms of power and potential to be great, both spiritual and intellectual, as every other soul. The most severe mentally handicapped person is operating under a weight of challenges caused by their unique genetic makeup, but on a deeper level, they are (and will be in the eternal scheme of things) seen as being just as valuable a soul as you are. The same goes with the most elite athletes and highest paid actors. Those folks are operating under a wealth of genetic blessings, but if their souls were picked up and plopped into a different womb in a different time and place, they might be the ones who are considered to be inferior human beings by everyone else.

This is a thing that I’ve been slow to accept and admit–the fact that I can so immediately put any other human being on a scale in relation to me, and have made up in my mind before I think twice about it whether they rest above or below me on this scale of sub to super human. You don’t want to admit it, because it means that you might find yourself admitting to latent racism, classism, ageism, xenophobia, and having an all-around overly egotistical self.

But, this is the first step. To admit it, and meditate on it frequently when I’m in the company of others. To seek ways to expel it from me altogether. To ask the hard questions, like, does a serial killer in prison ultimately deserve to be treated as an equal soul to me? Perhaps in a past life I was the serial killer in prison, and someone believed in me enough to advocate on my behalf in front of the angels that manage the bardo passages. Or, perhaps in a future life (or this one) I will be wrongly accused and innocent, but nobody will believe me. Wouldn’t I want to offer the same benefit of the doubt to the man whose fate is not mine to decide?

Those are hard questions indeed, because I can’t say as I would be able to ever reach a point in this life where I honestly believed that Hitler, Jeffery Dahmer, Mozart, MLK and me are all souls cut from the same cloth and worth equal consideration in a grander scheme of things beyond this narrow timeline and tiny, 3D universe.

But, putting those harder questions aside for the moment, I think I can certainly feel that most people I meet, aside from these extreme examples, are people worthy of treating as complete equals–equals in the eyes of God.

I start from nothing

I start from nothing. This is beautiful. There is nothing, and then there is something. The something that appears is there because I made the effort to put it there. You can credit God, my parents, my teachers and other adults who mentored and taught me things, but their hands didn’t make this thing. Their brains didn’t conceive it. They made me and shaped me, but I made this.

I am proud of it, no matter how much the rest of the world may criticize it. Of course, it’s not original in the sense that someone hasn’t made something like it before. But, I am earnest in my efforts not to copy or steal the work of others directly. I won’t even borrow a single note or phrase or lick or gesture or word from a thing they made.

In no time at all, I can see that this thing has taken on a predictive pattern, and is no longer dynamic and interesting. I add to my thing and I can see that it is too busy, I subtract and something is missing. I add again, and I have chaos, or at least a thing that’s not as elegant as it could be.

I get depressed. Maybe I am not is creative as I thought I was. The spirit to create is there, but the flesh is clumsy. It doesn’t matter how many classes I take or how much I practice. There is a chasm between my vision and the thing in front of me that I can’t seem to cross. Perhaps I need to become more of a being in this world. Not necessarily a completely worldly man with no sense whatsoever of a soul. Just a bit more time focusing on the outer world and less on the inner.

Before I know it, I have become a slug. I slurp away at content on my different devices. I consume articles, movies, shows and music. I even stoop so low as to play a few casual games, getting caught up in the mindless thrill of destroying zombies and racing birds in go-carts. Where did the time go? Where did my will and discipline go? What happened to the need for order and precision in my mind?

I begin again.

There is nothing, and then, I make something. Yesterday it was a painting, today it is a rambling, improvised piano or guitar tune. Tomorrow it will be the written word.

I start with emptiness, or to be more precise, emptiness as I can best visualize it. A dream leaks through the cracks. It’s a dream of going back to school, or a dream of never finishing school, or a dream of simply trying to get to class and getting lost. I learned something a long time ago that was important, and then my flesh made me forget it.

I had a harmony with others that persisted even into my college years. An unknowing sort of harmony. Even when I was at my most insistently vulgar, the faces that met my high schooler face were always smiling. I hadn’t frozen the scowl permanently yet. I was a being in this world, and I was connected to other beings in a most important way that I didn’t need to consciously realize.

Why did I lose it?

I blame it all on the Devil and his drink.

Nothing makes a man a monster like booze does. He thinks he can handle it, and that because he’s staying sober enough to get a college degree and hold down a steady, full-time professional occupation, the booze is not affecting him. The hours of recovery from a binge, and the hours of anticipating the next binge–those are the hours that slowly kill the man, and turn him into a zombie. The drink itself destroys brain cells and the liver, but the time spent in between drinks re-organizes the man’s neural pathways and converts them into dysfunctional dead ends.

Where once I could get by on letting my unconscious self communicate with others below the surface, I have to be keenly aware of what is rising up from my solar plexus and heart and sex at all times. Just the slightest tinge of a bad thought will make my face deepen into a black scowl that scares away even the hardiest of souls. If I intentionally scowl at someone, they just laugh because they think I’m being silly. I have to constantly be mindful of the energies inside of me and how they are impacting my facial muscles, so that I first keep my face serene, and then consciously deliver a sincere smile.

For all of this, there are those who are studied experts. They’ve been aware of these things since adolescence, and they can manipulate entire arenas with their words, modulated voices and body language.

I remember my trips to New York, SF and Rome. I fell in love with the beauty of the play between the planned creations of man and the organic structures and combinations of manmade stuff that arose up throughout the city. I felt guilty for loving the big, dense cities so much. Is this not a tendency toward idol worship? What does that say about me, that I’d rather be wandering a large city surrounded by the works of man, than be alone in a dark room lost in meditation and prayer? Do I not have enough faith that the City of God will be infinitely more beautiful to gaze upon than all of the works of man put together? Or, perhaps the City of God will, ultimately, be nothing more or less than God’s careful curation of man’s greatest hits? There is that part about the wheat and the chaff, after all. One would hardly hope that the wheat of the verse means only those who lived in empty rooms eating a little bread every other day and only drinking water while they feasted constantly upon the word of God. What a waste it would be, if God had intended all that his subjects created be merely fodder for the fire.

Of course, I could do without most of Las Vegas in heaven, though there are probably many that would disagree with that. I don’t need oil rigs and refineries, feedlots and slaughterhouses, offal burning plants, and coal mining operations. I would also hope that God would make such things part of the chaff as he embraces the creations of man that give most people delight.

I grab my tablet and hop on Google Earth. I fly in and out of Manhattan, sweeping through the 3D rendered buildings and popping down to street level to see the people who were walking by on the day the Googlecam went by. It’s one of the most incredible achievements in human history, that few people probably know about and take advantage of–this ability to go even into some buildings. I find myself in the conference room of a hotel that I’d visited as a kid when I drop my Google Pegman on top of the hotel. The Googlecam has been inside parts of the hotel itself, and now I can visit any time I like.

Of course, something is missing. There is a complaint from my internal sensibilities about how much this can really serve as a substitute for the real thing. There should be someone to share it with, and also a greater purpose involved here, other than simply floating aimlessly through cities and beaches that have been thoroughly photographed or recreated in 3D. There is no tension or drama or smells or sounds. Of course, movement isn’t perfect, and at times I’m pounding furiously on the tablet, to get my Pegman to move through the streets. The rendering seemingly takes forever in my world of instant gratification. The faces of people are often blurred for the sake of their privacy. The art museums are only partially available–a wing here, a room there.

Naturally, I am not completely satiated. I have created nothing and contributed nothing to all of this. It exists and grows or decays due to the work of others. In a flash, it all may be gone, and I am powerless to stop it. In another instant, it all may be available only to those who have the chip of the global ID and currency exchange embedded in them. I will be locked out, among the unprivileged and the newly made primitives left to scavange a pollution-ravaged earth in search of food and shelter where none is offered for those who don’t want to play by the New World Economy’s rules.

For now, I simply have a will to create. To make something simple, and add to it, bit by bit, as insights and revelations appear inside my head. It becomes a complex thing, a thing of horror and beauty–like an exquisitely made European auto driven by a Frankenstein monster. In an instant, my eyes can pick out the beautiful and ugly parts, no matter what they were intended to be upon first creation.

Somewhere inside my brain are a set of instructions embedded there, to be retrieved upon the mention of a trigger phrase or upon seeing a certain symbol or tableau before my eyes. I will suddenly have access to a wealth of information that may or may not be information I can really call my own. Does anything at all belong to me? Does my soul itself belong to somebody else when I die and do not have the gift of limbs and linear time to help control and move my soul in a focused sort of way?

My own soul seems to crave an onslaught of information. Perhaps it is a greedy whore of knowledge. My Lord wishes she, my soul, would be faithful only to the things of the Lord, but she lusts and pants after all manner of novel information that comes to her. She delights in being dropped into a place like NYC for the very reason that she can instantly receive a completely different set of visual cues by simply waiting for a traffic light to change on a street corner, or walking a block in any direction. The massive onslaught of this information is lost in the recreated worlds found inside Google Earth and Google Streets.

I am witnessing nothing more than a 2D snapshot, frozen in time, and made to trick my eyes into thinking it is 3D. All of the activity that transpired seconds after the Googlecam snapped the picture is gone, and only embedded in the memory banks of those who were there.

I feel a similar distress when I gaze at all of the books I’ve accumulated on my shelves. I know that if I were to read them all, I would be gifted with an amazing variety of information that delights my soul and takes me out of my everyday, predictable life. But, I can’t possibly access this information all at once, the same way I can take in a busy city streetcorner. I have to painstakingly begin the dry commentary of the editor in the preface and the author in the introduction, and then slowly become acclimated to the world that the writer created. After a few chapters, I am already feeling the same kind of ennui I feel from being penned up in the everyday world around me. It’s like I’ve left one predictable world for another.

Even the television begins to provide only a predictable set of information when I flip through all of the channels, constantly seeking something that my brains says is truly novel. Each channel, even the ones with breaking news, is telling stories that on some level seem to be the same stories I’ve seen on television my entire life. A new show about a new subculture or group of people is novel and exciting only for a few minutes. Once you’ve seen the wealthy or redneck family interact among each other for half of an episode, you have seen the entire season of the show, and every season that will follow it.

The pleasure of letting something evolve organically, and not trying to control every last little detail, is often overcome with the startling realization how easy it is to fall into a rut. The brain hits a groove of pleasure, and wants to play the same note over again, or the same three chords at the same tempo. The young people trying to assert their individualism by borrowing a mix of this and that from fashion of the past one hundred years end up all looking more similar to one another than a previous generation that had only a few styles down at the local Wards, Sears or Penneys to choose from.

So, how do you make something beautiful that doesn’t look like the production of it was controlled down to the last pixel, but not become overwhelmed with the chaos that comes with letting everything evolve completely organically, or the one-dimensional aesthetic rut that appears when unstudied eyes and hands attempt to think out of the box and express their individuality in a way that’s never been done before?

I begin again.

I don’t feel obliged to try to re-invent definitions of the beautiful and the sublime when plenty of artists and philosophers have mapped this out in the last 100 years. What I want to make note of are the particular sublime or beautiful moments in my own life–when I reached a place of living in which the pain brought on by a corrupt world couldn’t touch me. Perhaps these were moments of pure delusion, later to be rendered as myth.

There is something to be said for embracing the moment of life, and not trying to control it, or spend your time making lists of things to do. But, there is a tendency to go to sleep when you are caught up in the moment and you just let yourself go. I don’t necessarily mean sleep in a literal sense, but more of the sense of believing you will be well-received by others whom you meet along the way. That is where the rude wake up call comes, and where the disconnect with the inner self and the universe is most palpably felt.

The beauty of living in a world of words is that you become more immersed in the pure self of the writer–if you are the writer or you are reading an other writer. You don’t have facial tics and body language and poorly modulated voice to get in the way. When you are reading the mind of someone in a relaxed manner, and not simply reading their texts or emails, you start to feel as if you could be that person’s very close friend.

Meetings with such people, when they are prefaced by an extended period of reading thousands of their words, are usually met with sheer disappointment. The time you allowed yourself to get to know the person in their words is not permitted in a face-to-face meeting.

The person might not look as intelligent as you thought they’d be. They may have great difficulty communicating verbally, even if their writing is superb. You are ruining the chance at building a friendship, and they probably are as well. A few misguided words are tossed back and forth–maybe nerves bring out a latent demon or two the person thought they’d long since conquered, and the next thing you know, you are declaring this person (or they are declaring you) to be ignorant, stupid, sexist, racist, subhuman, etc.

People don’t think they need words anymore like they used to. “It’s too wordy, too flowery,” says every creative writing student when they are critiquing each other’s work. Indeed, it’s almost impossible to make it through any number of prefaces and introductions written in books published in the 1800s. Somehow, writers back then managed to create more paragraphs of words that literally could be condensed into a few short phrases.

Except, what these writers were often doing was taking their time to think something over carefully, and make sure that they’d considered their point from every angle. You attempt to nuance a point in such a way today, and you will inevitably get (especially from a younger person) “I get it, what you’re trying to say is, X = Y.” They don’t have time for parables as cautionary tales. They are the end recipients of centuries of Rationalist thinking–how do we distill all meaning into a series of mathematical symbols? But then, they find themselves in awe of life mysteries and believe themselves to be living epic lives that nobody else has lived, while having experiences that are at times trite or at least watered down from what a previous generation might have experienced.

If the world we live in eventually reaches a state of total war, where people everywhere are reduced to placing themselves in enclaves and tribal allegiances, and we are constantly at battle with one another, the reason for this total war will be that we thought we could achieve world peace more rapidly by enabling people to be capable of communicating with each other anywhere at any time in a face-to-face manner. When I can put on my Google Glass and talk to someone in Cambodia who is doing the same, and we have technology that immediately translates our words for us, we will stop thinking that we need to pause at all to way the consequences of any of our decisions. The value of reflection and contemplation will be completely lost, as will the value of letting an extended letter be crafted and read and considered at length before action is taken.

I have been in enough workplace meetings where rush decisions were made by everyone letting the most vocal and snappy thinker decide for the group what they were going to do, and then later going back to my desk and thinking through more carefully some of the consequences of doing such and such activity–usually to be ignored until the decisions were made and months later the consquences were experienced. Of course, the sharp retort is always, “well why didn’t you speak up in the meeting? If you couldn’t tell us what you were thinking then, then it doesn’t matter.” Except, not every “best choice for optimal outcome” can be completely articulated on the fly. Certainly, it’s easy to say sometimes that “we were faced with the need to make a decision immediately, and couldn’t wait any longer.” Except, that is usually due to a lot of self-imposed, arbitrary deadlines. The fact is, that unless a team has been handed a clear structure and process for working toward that best choice for optimal outcome, the end result is almost always one of the loudmouth ego in the room getting their way.

And then, the typical American managment style is to let the loudmouth ego fail as much as they like because “they are going places and are clearly the smartest person in the room.” Occasionally, the loudmouth ego gets something right, or pauses to listen to someone else in the room who might just happen to be the wisest person in the room, which the loudmouth ego is almost certainly not. Being the wisest person in the room is much more difficult, and that is not taught in any business school, nor is it a desirable person to be in most places.

At the macro level, I would argue that our civilization has achieved great things precisely because it has continued to reserve at least somewhat of an honored place for those who would take more time to think through what is happening, what is being decided and what the long-term implications are. In short, we still value in a limited way the elders of the tribe, the shamans who gaze much farther into the future and hold that much more of the oral history of the tribe in them. We don’t pay them as much, and we don’t typically make public our sense of reverence for these folks, but I would argue that most great leaders do spend a fair amount of time taking words of wisdom to heart when they aren’t playing the role of the loudmouth ego. And by great leaders, I mean those who actually do end up creating a proven track record in business, military or government–not the ones who are the simple ladder climbing, careerist types that move from C-level role to C-level role without ever actually showing that they were directly responsible for making a business profitable.

The illusion of doing good work is not as hard to perpetuate as you might think. In fact, if you are interested in becoming successful at a company, you should forget about actually doing any real work at all. The amount of time you spend preparing a presentation and your delivery of the presentation makes all the difference. If you are excellent at taking a failed project and finding the silver lining and turning that into a few bullet points of success and a graph that trends upward (even if the metrics are completely irrelEt to describing whether the original goals of the project were achieved), then you can thrive in just about any corporate or governmnet environment–and this includes non-profits at the leadership level, and I would hazard a guess the same goes for the military at the leadership/powerpoint level.

If you are so naive as to think that you need to be up front about what failed, then you will go nowhere. You only need to have an explanation for why the failure happened in you back pocket, in case someone asks, and be ready to immediately deflect attention away from it and put the blame on any number of circumstances and individuals aside from yourself. In that occasional instance where you do have to take the bullet of responsibility for mistakes made by your team, why, there’s nothing to worry about, because there will be a consultant job waiting for you where you can lay low at a firm and draw a paycheck for a few years before moving on to be the leader of another company.

To get back to what I was saying–there are those few, truly great leaders who may exhibit some of these characteristics as it comes with the territory and it’s part of playing the game, but the truly great ones can demonstrate at least one successful venture in their past.

Is Obama one of the truly great ones, or simply one of the “other kind,” who played by the rules and got promoted because people saw potential and wanted to groom him and keep him on their short list for advancement? I don’t know his biography well enough to say, but I would imagine that he is highly overrated by his biggest fans, and highly underrated by his biggest detractors. I think if you looked at Obama’s career with a careful, measured eye, and you soberly examined his track record of what he’s actually done as a president, I think you’d find that he’s no better or worse than any of the last fifteen presidents.

The things that people exult JFK and Reagan for are probably for the most part myths, and more of the “he’s a great leader because he gave a great presentation” variety than of the “he actually did something that was highly successful and wouldn’t have otherwise happened without him” kind. But then, you could also find things that George W. Bush did in his presidency that are rarely mentioned, that likely have had signficiant impact for the betterment of humanity–and the same could be said for just about any other leader. When all sober, clearheaded measurement is made of the presidents, you’d probably find that almost all of them were most effective as mythmakers rather than resultsmakers.

Is that such a bad thing? you ask. I think that it is if every kid in America has abandoned the dreams of actually making something, doing something, working hard, and building something new–and traded those dreams for being a mythmaker, a celebrity, a personality, a leader who got there by successfully putting on endless dog and pony shows. At some point, we will become a nation full of nothing but myths, and we become like all other great civilizations that have come before us.

Is it such a bad thing to incorporate just a little myth into the legacy you are building for yourself?

If there is one thing I’d like to have completely out of my head before I die

If there is one thing I’d like to have completely out of my head before I die, it’s that sense of any particular human (myself included) being more or less worthy and valid to exist on this planet. The subtleties of this sense are profound and many. It comes on without me having to half think about it. A story appears in the news of someone dying, and I immediately express the amount of concern or lack thereof based on the newly deceased’s class, race, age, nationality, and what they did with their life. This isn’t a conscious thing, and it’s often so immediate and instinctual, that it is hardly thought about twice.

It isn’t like I have a well-defined linear progression in my head for how important a person is, and how valuable their life is. But, at the same time, I think I instinctively do possess something of the sort. A great composer or scientist sits above me on this unholy food chain, and people living in impoverished countries who die mostly in anonymity sit some place below me.

In any given situation, when I meet someone face-to-face, I am quick to promote them to a pedestal or demote them to a subterranean area. It is the way in which the cult of celebrity perpetuates itself. If Lady Gaga dies tomorrow, the world will find this to be more of a loss than if I die tomorrow.

This has been the source of so many of my problems and conflicts in life, that it is absolutely a must-go in order for me to evolve spiritually. My two worst faults of childhood and adolescence, making fun of others and being an excessive people-pleaser, brought me all kinds of misery as I grew into adulthood. You should go through life making fun of nobody, ever. Perhaps you can take mild jabs at yourself now and then to put people at ease, but that’s about it. Even extensive making fun of yourself is cause for concern. You should go through life with a zero tolerance for the uprising of the people-pleasing mentality. Perhaps when you are still under the age of four, it makes sense to have this kind of mentality, but any persistence of it means that people will take advantage of you, and that you will resent them in your moments of clarity about who you are and how they are using you.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with following directions when it makes sense to play by the rules, and it certainly is a virtue to love your parents and let them guide you into adulthood, but it is quite another thing to be caught up in a will to seek immediate fanfare in everything you do, and fall into deep depression when your every action is not recognized by the people you want to please. It sows the seeds of rebellion and hatred of elders, because you aren’t genuinely considered about their happiness and welfare–you are trying to gratify yourself through immediate praise and recognition.

And, of course, we all know that if you take your people-pleasing mentality with you everywhere you go, you will begin to do things that run counter to each other, and do many things that go against your conscience of what’s right and wrong. Trying to please everyone is a well-known path to failure, but even a mild case of the “sycophants” can be disastrous.

You would never make fun of anyone, ever, and you would never have a day of the people-pleaser mentality wreaking havoc on your life if you simply saw all human beings as equal creations in God’s eyes. No man is more legitimately here on earth than another man. Your boss doesn’t deserve a longer life than you do. Lady Gaga or President Obama are not better people than you are. Just because they happen to have character traits and wills toward power over others doesn’t mean they are more legitimately human. What they leave behind on earth will be taken and measured in proportion against the true outcomes they left behind, as well as the true talents they were given.

I think that this is to some degree a fault in all of us. We hold up certain people with such high regard that we almost deify them, if we don’t completely go there. When these people fail to live up to our expectations, we are quick to almost demonize them, even if we don’t quite go that far.

I also believe that at some level, each of us has a soul that is about as equal in terms of power and potential to be great, both spiritual and intellectual, as every other soul. The most severe mentally handicapped person is operating under a weight of challenges caused by their unique genetic makeup, but on a deeper level, they are (and will be in the eternal scheme of things) seen as being just as valuable a soul as you are. The same goes with the most elite athletes and highest paid actors. Those folks are operating under a wealth of genetic blessings, but if their souls were picked up and plopped into a different womb in a different time and place, they might be the ones who are considered to be inferior human beings by everyone else.

This is a thing that I’ve been slow to accept and admit–the fact that I can so immediately put any other human being on a scale in relation to me, and have made up in my mind before I think twice about it whether they rest above or below me on this scale of sub to super human. You don’t want to admit it, because it means that you might find yourself admitting to latent racism, classicism, ageism, xenophobia, and having an all-around overly egotistical self.

But, this is the first step. To admit it, and meditate on it frequently when I’m in the company of others. To seek ways to expel it from me altogether. To ask the hard questions, like, does a serial killer in prison ultimately deserve to be treated as an equal soul to me? Perhaps in a past life I was the serial killer in prison, and someone believed in me enough to advocate on my behalf in front of the angels that manage the bardo passages. Or, perhaps in a future life (or this one) I will be wrongly accused and innocent, but nobody will believe me. Wouldn’t I want to offer the same benefit of the doubt to the man whose fate is not mine to decide?

Those are hard questions indeed, because I can’t say as I would be able to ever reach a point in this life where I honestly believed that Hitler, Jeffery Dahmer, Mozart, MLK and me are all souls cut from the same cloth and worth equal consideration in a grander scheme of things beyond this narrow timeline and tiny, 3D universe.

But, putting those harder questions aside for the moment, I think I can certainly feel that most people I meet, aside from these extreme examples, are people worthy of treating as complete equals–equals in the eyes of God.