A Guinness Extra Stout.

A Guinness Extra Stout. Oh yes, that hits the spot. Am I extra stout? No, I would say not. I am stouter than some, much less stout than many. I am probably right at the top of the bell curve when it comes to being a stout, suburban father. You know, a badass dad who keeps a gun and kills small animals for fun vs. a simpering bleeding heart who wears the panties in the family. I’m right in the middle. I liked watching some romcoms with my wife and her favorite shows when we were dating, just to show her I wasn’t completely opposed to sitting through these things and being entertained by them. But, I prefer Sci-Fi and violent action, horror and thriller movies–mostly psychological horror, but if someone’s guts need to be opened up now and again, I can be a fan. However, I have completely stopped watching sports, except when the game is on at my Father-in-Law’s house. In that aspect, I guess I tend toward the simperer.

I think of myself more as a primitive, than a pansy. I don’t like guns, tools and gadgets mostly because I prefer simple machines and primitive things. If you left me completely to my own devices without any sort of sense of duty and obligation to family and loved ones, I would be a homeless, crusty guy.

I’ve never considered my civilization to be one that was air-tight guaranteed to remain the way that it is. In fact, I would hardly be surprised (though I don’t want this to happen) if our civilization collapsed and anarchy broke out for a few decades before some heavy-handed brute pulled it all back together again and we reformed under the Mark of the Beast–at least those of us who don’t care about our souls–where I am not even including myself in the Royal We.

I’m not a Luddite or anti-technology–I want to be clear about that. I am simply not opposed to the idea of living without most of it. While it’s here, yes, I am going to leverage the technology that I like to use.

Then, I go looking at trucks on Craigslist under $3500. I want to have one and some land out in a place like Smithville some day. Or, Charleston, South Carolina. I can live out there and write mysteries like John Grisham.

I was not made for this world

I was not made for this world. I was not made for a world lesser than this one, either. I wasn’t made for a world full of gadgets and distractions, things and noise. I say goodbye to the things humans have created to keep themselves amused, entertained, and separated from the Truth. I become a boring, stodgy old man in the eyes of others.

I need a cave and minimal food. Perhaps a blanket for when it gets cold and some means of making a fire. I don’t need to strike a hermit’s pose, though, because this is just grabbing onto something less that Truth itself.

All books written are just stabs into the light.

Most health issues and things that prevent a longer life are created by the progress that seeks to ultimately make people live in a state they could have lived in if they’d remained true to their original natures.

Practice flipping off the things that haunt you as if you were flipping a switch, shutting off a television. The past is gone, the future is yet to be. The moment just is, it just exists, or, you exist within a greater existence. Remain tethered to the Christ consciousness, the sense of pervasive love. Seek to remove the clouds, but seek a clear sky to replace them, not a sky filled with more clouds.

Seek as much natural peace and healing as possible, but don’t stop taking medicine if it helps, but take medicine with an eye to no longer needing medicine, not with an eye to remaining dependent upon it. Anything that is additionally added to you beyond the food and water needed to survive is a kind of medicine. A medicine that is used to placate something or excite something.

Try to find yourself away from your physical self, but don’t discount your physical self as being irrelevant to your identity. Who you are in physical form is part of a precise plan. When you seek to be someone/something that is completely Other, you prolong the formation of the particular plan.

But who you are in this time and place physically isn’t everything you are, either. The sum of who you are is still being added together.

Cast off what you really don’t need and cease trying to take on more and more.

The unhappiness comes from the expectation that arrives when you realize that there is always more you could attempt to have, that you will never have.

The unhappiness comes from chasing things that aren’t really happiness–quick shots of ecstasy and euphoria to the brain. You chase after these things, and you are made inordinately full of something that feels good then leaves you completely empty or even depleted and angry.

Things that come down to you from above/within and above/without–things that came down to the first humans–these are the things that matter. When the feeling of the first true day of spring arrives, you know again an added kind of peace that makes being alive worthwhile. And then, you want to chase after that peace by adding all kinds of extra stimulants to it–chemicals and exercise–until you are miserable and it is now summer and hot, and you are simply chasing memories of when summer actually meant a complete break from everything that taxed you.

Meditate on what “store up your treasures in heaven” means. It may mean more than simply tithing or giving to the poor. It could mean how you change your Eternal Self for the better or worse on this earth, in this life. The person you truly are when you die becomes the person you will be in your next life. None of this is new wisdom or a new idea…it’s simply a concept you haven’t fully taken to heart yet, because you are still acting out some of the terrible things you brought with you from the previous life, and creating karmic snares for yourself that will continue to follow you if you don’t rid yourself of them.

Every day, there will be stories in the news to terrify you, plus the memories of what happened to your own family. Stories that make you terrified to raise a child in this world. Except, you have to remember that most people don’t experience these things, and the ones that do generally have no control over what has happen to them. They just happen, maybe for an ultimate cosmic reason where all of the pain and sorrow and suffering will be alleviated at a future time and place on a higher plane, but for sure, they happen most of the time beyond the control of the people they happen to.

The things you do have control over start with the things inside of you that you need to fix before you die.

The discipline that you do on your own mind/self is the discipline that really sticks with you. The discipline that comes from the outside, as a matter of course, due to circumstance, etc., may or may not stick. You might die just as non-transformed as you were when you were born.

The places you go when you sit still and push aside the distractions: breath, heart, gut. Mind is too furtive. Sex is to volatile. The seat of the Self seems to be between the heart and the gut. This, too, is nothing new. Many sages and saints have come to this conclusion.

Dream that I was at some kind of fair

Dream that I was at some kind of fair, where I wanted a croissant with peanut butter on it. One booth sold croissants, the other peanut butter. The lady at booth A wouldn’t let me take the croissant over to the peanut butter booth and purchase my combined peanut butter croissant sandwich from booth B. And, the croissant was only ten cents, but all I could find in my wallet was a five dollar bill and a one hundred dollar bill. After I’d already given her my hundred (because for some reason I thought the change from the 100 would be better suited for buying the peanut butter), I found a one dollar bill, which was apparently what I was really looking for. For my change, the lady returned a bunch of cancelled checks she’d found at the bottom of the cash register drawer, along with some plastic card holders. There were also some envelopes with various amounts written on them that didn’t amount to the $99.90 she owed me.

At first, I interpreted the dream to mean that I am going through life in a similar fashion. I keep trying to take $100 worth of brain power and skills and experience, and use it on ten cent jobs. And, what I get back for my efforts is a lot of garbage that looks like it might have had some kind of value at some point. Of course, this doesn’t make complete sense, because a job should pay you at least what you are worth, if not the dividend of additional experience you can use to move on to a better paying job. However, maybe that’s the point. I am not really thinking in terms of finding a job that matches me for what I am worth. I am still stuck in the mode of trying to find the least common denominator of a job so that I will get hired and have a job of some kind.

I also remember having some kind of dream where I was getting feedback about my teeth on a website. Most of the commenters seemed to think that my teeth were fake and should be replaced with better fitting teeth, and I was somehow proud that people thought my natural teeth were so good as to be fake.

Today is Friday, and it feels like each Friday is getting harder to reach. Where I work, the work that my boss wants me to do, I don’t really want to be doing, and it’s not much work, anyway. The other work that is required of me is small-change work like the kind of work I’ve been doing for too long. I certainly need to figure out a way to move into a more senior-level position somewhere, but this is hard. I don’t have a lot of official people-managing experience, even though I’ve spearheaded plenty of projects and groups, and have been responsible for seeing many tasks to the end that required the delegation of work to others. I am at an age where I should at least have a Director in my title, but the VP title I held was so brief that I think it would just look weird on a job application. I don’t know, I’m in need of some free time to really think this through and just get tight about what I really want to do for the last twenty-five years of my career, but I never seem to have that kind of time, anymore–or I am just so drained by the end of the day/week that I don’t feel the least bit like thinking about my professional sphere of being.

***
It probably goes without saying, but I am going to have to admit that I am experiencing the downhill slide of the aging process. I am not motivated to try to do new things, learn new things, create new things. My preference is to be entertained or simply sit and do nothing, letting my mind wander in no particular direction, and certainly not in any direction that would net me some new creative idea to help me make more money or grow more as a person. Certainly, part of it is purely mental. I’m going on my seventh year of marriage, in my forties, have more gray hair on my head than dark and more bald on my head than hair. I have resigned myself to the fact that I will never do a lot of new and first things that young people do for the rest of my life, but I haven’t bothered to replace the desire to have and living for those experiences with something equally stimulating. My condition isn’t any different than most people’s. Most of my peers entered this state of being ten years ago or more when they got married and had their first children.

But, I think there is also just the kind of resignation that comes with having seen so many experiments and attempts to become something or someone amount to nothing. At the end of the day, I wouldn’t say I look forward to my dreams more than anything else, but they certainly supplement the ordinary, regular and the mundane in a way that no original television programming or movies seem to be able to.

A couple of times throughout the week, I almost feel as if I am about to breakthrough into some higher state of Mind. When I’m on my way to work, or walking about the city on a break from work. There is a sense that the way we are all connected is out there, floating in the air, beyond the reach of the highly spiritual and the highly materialistic, the religious and the atheistic. But these are just hints. The way that I end up connecting with people, if I do at all, is mostly angles and deflections–people all around ducking their heads and not wanting to be intruded upon, except by those who know them well. It’s not like I’m any different, except sometimes I believe that humanity could be completely connected in a way that was pure and righteous, rather than evil and obscene, like some kind of hive mind that is controlled and manipulated by an evil government pyramid with Satan sitting at the top.

Much of the breakthrough starts to come when I am firmly able to leave off from considering other human beings from the place of what use they are to me. This is hard, because this is how we are conditioned. That each human I meet must be a person who is useful to me, even if it’s to prove how virtuous I am and aggrandize my own ego-driven sense of having a noble self. Such an insight can come easily, but it is hard to really change it. I’ve simply taken my old, selfish approach of asking whether each human I meet can serve me in a material sort of way, either through a sexual or a business relationship, and I’ve replaced it with a similarly selfish approach, albeit one with a presumably altruistic veneer.

Dream: my Greek teacher from last summer had become a Calculus teacher

Dream: my Greek teacher from last summer had become a Calculus teacher as I had gone back to school to learn math and computer programming. The Calculus class was just as intensive as the Greek one was in real life, with a ton of homework due every night and a test every day. Also, it just happened that on a day I was wrapping up the toughest homework assignment yet, the teacher was also taking us to Italy. I had just moved back in with my parents in Missouri, and drove to our class, which was regularly held at the airport. Except, I didn’t know until the moment I was at the airport and was past security that today was the day we were going to Italy. I had left my ticket back at home. I called my parents, and my dad chewed me out, naming all kinds of current programming concepts that I had been learning that he didn’t understand (he believed that I was just bullshitting him about having gone back to school). I just wanted my parents to bring my ticket and an extra change of clothes, but it sounded like they weren’t sure if they wanted to do this or not. I told my dad that I was trying to get my life turned around, but he wouldn’t believe me. I went down to the ticket counter, and I could see that the airline was TWA, where my dad had worked. Apparently, TWA still existed, though I thought they had been sold to American. The ticket counter attendant said, “We’ve been resurrected as TWA, a Boeing Company.” I remember as a kid thinking that Boeing was its own airlines, as my brothers would routinely point out that this or that airplane was a Boeing airplane. The lady was skeptical about whether I had really purchased a ticket, but I offered to show her my ID. She said, “look, I’m doing a favor for you,” and printed out two boarding passes without checking my ID. I said, “well, my dad’s worked for TWA for almost 30 years, so of course I deserve these…”

A lunch trip to the new public library today.

A lunch trip to the new public library today. Everyone was doing something else for lunch, and so I missed the social work lunch that has become so frequent. Of course, I am spending way too much money on lunch, so I am eating nothing for breakfast and nothing for dinner most days. I haven’t completely justified the excessive spending on food and drink yet–it shouldn’t last forever. Maybe I am just lonely, and have forgotten what it’s like to have friends outside of family, and this is my one attempt throughout the week to try to rectify this.

I am sad sometimes about having walked away from seminary. I am sad that none of my former pastors ever asked me how things were going for me after I started there, and nobody has reached out to me after I left, except E did one time. That’s life I guess–people don’t really care as much about you as you might start to think–and, I’m actually okay with that. I’m used to it now. I’m used to eventually seeing the invites to events stop coming, and the workplace crew circle the wagons around each other. I’m used to having to be the one to call my dad, and I was always the one who called up my brother. I don’t know why it works that way. I suppose if I ever won the lottery, I would have a lot of people calling me. There’s one lady I used to work with who absolutely will never respond to any of my LinkedIn messages, when I am reaching out to see if she has any work for me or if I have found a job she might be interested in. Then, out of the blue, she will reach out to me at times with the presumed expectation that I stop everything I’m doing to help her when she needs help.

That’s the way we all are, I guess, and I’m probably no different, though I might like to think that I am. We only want to talk to people we really think we can get something from, and we only talk to them when we absolutely need it. The rest of the time, those people are dead to us, and besides, they would react with perplexity and suspicion if we bothered to reach out just to say ‘hello.’ I remember one boss I had a long time ago who would greet me every time I went into her office with “what do you need?” even though I made the effort just to make small talk and see how she was doing occasionally.

I wonder if hell really is other people, or if hell is just someone finally getting their wish to be left alone for eternity. Hell could be no other people or anyone or anything at all…and you just sink further and further into a cosmic quicksand, knowing you will never return to other people or be saved by any other being, because you never bothered to connect with other people authentically when you were alive–you simply treated each person as an object to be used and consumed.

Drive home. I lack energy, focus, will.

Drive home. I lack energy, focus, will. I am not sleepy, so much as full of a funk that skates on the edge of depression. I am knocked down by all of the little blows of the day. No real knockouts, just a technical knockout by default. The boss who alternates between being overly involved and overly absent and never correctly tapped in to what we are doing. The colleague who laughed at my jokes the first three months and then abruptly stopped and suddenly became a “no” person and one who is trying to get ahead like everyone else. The job ad posted on the site that reads like the job I am supposed to be doing. The team that invited me to their first outing, and now does not. The endless jokes I try to crack that go unnoticed. The consumption of caffeine to try to jolt me out of this.

Of course, I’m feeling sorry for myself and of course I’m whining. I’m whining because this is the place to whine. I don’t whine much anywhere else so it has to be here. Of course, nothing is really that bad, and nothing is really that great, except my son, my wife, my family. But, I crave magic, the exceptional, the extraordinary. Something completely unexpected, but is good and not tragic. I don’t know what. Winning the lottery. Being suddenly seized with special powers to do complex math problems. Getting a visit from an extraterrestrial. Who knows?

The body is too weary for complete escapism, the mind lies still in defeat. I take ten minutes at the end of the day to read something that might enrich me, better me, make me think differently, and then I am adrift in dreams. Why do I have cable television and internet streaming packages, when I have dreams that are purely there to entertain me?

Past few nights, dreams have been forgotten. A vague feeling of remembering the usual archetypal themes that crop up: not finishing school, back in the old home with intruders and/or fights with family, trying to get away and head out west somewhere. I wake up to the sound of my wife’s alarm going off, or my bladder is full and the dog wants out, but I don’t want to get up just yet.

My eyes feel all bleary, and it’s dark, but at least it’s no longer completely dark going to and from work.

I do eat and drink too much during the lunch hour most days now, and I’m eating and drinking up my retirement and my son’s college education, I suppose. Except, I see it as being more or less what I’ve always seen it to be: a mini-vacation in the middle of the day. Instead of saving all of that money and going to Paris, I spend it on an overpriced lunch at a downtown restaurant.

It could be argued that some of it is survival tactics. I am marking time at a place I’m not particularly excited to work at until I get to the one year mark or close enough that my job hunt will land me something after I’ve been here for a year. I’ve more or less given up on the notion that a magical work environment exists, much the same way that most magic has departed from my middle-aged head and life.

Right around the corner isn’t a magical experience, a novel thing, a wondrous moment on the cusp of becoming a life-changing event.

As such, it should be noted that reality itself isn’t as terrible as I make it out to be when I write. I hardly ever write when things are just going along in a state of equillibrium, a state of good enough. Occasionally, I get the reminder from a news article or some other story told to me that life could be much worse, and it may yet be so, given the direction our current world leadership seems to want to take things.

From where does this desire for a little bit of magic in the day come from, anyway? Too many promises made by parents and pop culture that never came true? A memory of a life before this one inside the bardo passage where a thing willed became a thing realized? Or is it just the devil tempting me to cry out to forces that are not created by God, to assist me in attracting great wealth and prosperity for a few years before I die and trade my soul in for eternal damnation?

This will be the year when everything becomes clear.

This will be the year when everything becomes clear. Where have I heard that before? This will be the year when accelerated changes take place, when work transitions into a passion, a calling, a vocation. Where have I heard that before?

This will be the year that I finally wake up and become a real man, not a half-awake boyish, shadow man grasping at straws and shadows of other men’s dreams. I’ve heard this one, too.

I am not thinking about who I am, but who I will be for you when you finally come to read me. I will be no different than the other men and women pressed between the pages of books and left behind in lost and forgotten photographs. I will not be me, but I might be more than me, or perhaps less, if I am not careful.

For anyone who has lived on thie earth with some degree of privilege and luck, or the promise of such, there lies the perfect, warm and wet spring day that arrives with a friend who will touch and you and never let go.

For everyone else, there is the hope of a heaven that is kinder than the men who rule this planet.

I can’t help but imagine a fortuitous spring that never came for me. I was one who held the promise of the spring in his hands, but never quite grasped it. My fortune, it was clear, lay in my autumn and winter, though I never really knew myself to be an autumn child.

The familiar tropes were destroyed by the monster who ate itself. The will to be a child with an epic story faded as the story was retold many times over. Soon, it was clear that the land was not as fertile as we once thought it could be.

The grandchildren lived off of the royalties of their grandparents’ novelties. The novelties of the day were nothing more than recycled visions of the same eroding future. It was encumbent upon us to do something rather than think something, write something, playact something.

But, we playacted anyway. It was the easier choice, and the materials from our grandparents’ closet were soft enough to seduce us into a warm embrace that might have worked if we’d just kept our heads buried a little longer until the bomb came and went.

After the bomb, nothing was soft. Everything was harsh and sharp.