the edges of the brain are sleepy and dry from the sleep medicine

the edges of the brain are sleepy and dry from the sleep medicine. they grate against my mind as it tries to ease its way back into its case. if i had the opportunity, i might drift back into sleep and not consider a damn thing.

it is almost early august, that time of year when the hopeful watch for fall begins. little memories of autumns past come creeping into the mind, especially on sundays.

i was six years old, living in colorado, and we were on the verge of moving. i had this innate sense of being poised to take on something epic and grand, something made for storybooks. the small missouri town and its inhabitants were quaint and charming and rustic, though i had no vocabulary to call them such.

i wonder if every parent and every child collectively dream of that child’s grand future–envisioning a sweeping narrative of conquering all the arts and sciences and being athletic and at ease in any sport. the child will have a future of roaming europe, russia, south america, asia with distinguished children of distinguished socialites.

of course, the child’s vision of her future and the parent’s own sense of what is possible or not are completely different, but the parent surely contrives grander things than any objective realist outsider would imagine.

but then, you do occasionally bump into the children of the very wealthy who are in their thirties finishing up their PhDs in psychiatry after decades of study while they travel about on a trust fund or stipend of some kind. you meet people who effortlessly sell their art and crafts to other rich people and start up clothing lines like they were starting a tab down at the local bar.

books, of course, are the best escape, though they become oppressive at some point in adulthood when the child reading them begins to realize that he isn’t going to ever remotely be like one of the characters in the books he adores. this, too, passes, and the adult comes to accept his lot in life and again find escape and respite from the oppressive banality of his existence inside a fantastical tome.

if i could get myself on top of what words actually do for me, to make them serve me better, to enable them as true vehicles to take me some place new. this is what i’ve always been thinking in the back of my mind every time that i write.

i am most certainly not the same thing as my words, but my words work better to represent who i am than photographs do. photographs are never as accurate as i would like them to be. i suppose that if i wrote constantly about whatever i saw around me and how i felt about it, i might start to form in the sum total of my words a most accurate representation of me.

you chide me for worshiping an invisible God, but that which is really you is invisible, too. when you view the corpse of a loved one, you know that the loved one’s real self is no longer there. that which is you, that which you really want me to get to know, is bubbling up from invisible places inside of you. your brain is a local repository/router for the information between your physical self and environment and your mind and the spirit world, but if i could extract all that was stored in the brain of someone recently deceased and re-animate it inside a complex virtual reality algorithm, i would have nothing more than a sophisticated series of images and words cobbled together.

the reason you don’t detect the life force is because you focus on the dead matter to try to discover where the living energy resides.

the life force in all living things is a powerful thing, a force far more powerful than the most powerful forces humanity has been able to harness and produce. even a nuclear explosion cannot touch the life force ebbing through the universe. if you want to discover the life force, you must focus on your own life force and the life forces of others around you, rather than their static things and artifacts that they leave behind. these things like words and paintings and sculptures only get you so close. when you focus on the Bible as a living, breathing text, then it begins to speak to you and engage with you in ways that it previously did not.

that which is of life seeks out like life energies. those who would seek to perpetuate life on earth and welcome and introduce new members into the beautiful experience of life are of a certain kind, while those who would selfishly hoard their lives and seize each moment and memory as if it were treasure that could be secured forever–those will be destroyed as they ultimately seek death, dead matter.

one who has life knows that she doesn’t have life in the sense of possessing it or owning it eternally–life is a gift, life is a thing that is temporarily given and meant to be freely passed on. those who gave their lives so that others might have life are the ones who gave the most–Christ gave his life in an eternal way so that we might have abundant life eternal upon dying.

when you begin with the premise: where is/was the life in this thing? (ie, when reading a book written by someone long ago or viewing a painting; but also when considering a house or city or even an old blanket) then, you are connecting again with the Life Force that ultimately created you and will decide the time and place of your death.

those who would pursue collecting material things as if they were living things or things that they could animate with their imaginations are ones who are caught up in a childish state of arrested development.

leaking into our consciousness, the collective one, is a sense that we can’t have it this good for much longer. our actions are destroying the planet, and we are turning up the heat each year. people everywhere can’t take it– they lose it in their own unique ways. some people may be doing things that have always been done–folks have been jumping out of buildings for bad reasons ever since there have been buildings–but you sense the insertion of pernicious thinking entering the mainstream channels of thought which brings about a lot of strange new forms of madness.

if you are not in love with life and its Source, you will inevitably lose your will to live.

Starting over, that’s the story

Starting over, that’s the story. Nothing special, there is no glory.
Some say to life, “I can’t stand it.” I just revolve like the planet.
There are no guts or grounds for meaning.
There is no semi-fertile soil for the gleaning.
I’m wearing, more or less, the same pair of shorts and shirt,
Yes, I’m pretty much dressed the way I was when I used to flirt
With dreams of abundance and poems of innocence and expectation.
These days I drive for distances beyond this Lone Star fence and call my drive a vacation.
These days I get excited about entering a brand new apartment with a pool;
Finding a few new coworkers who haven’t heard yet that I’m just a fool.
These are the years where fears have left me but the business that remains
Is based on minimal losses and marginal gains.
This is the story that I am required to tell, just outside of heaven, but closer to hell.
I could have been a burned out wasted fool, or some kind of pervert,
But instead, I chose to be a flea on a dog munching crumbs in the sun of a dying universe.
An unwelcome guest, a visitor to a realm, a tempest at the helm of a ship bound for Neverland.
And so, starting over means less than lips could speak or leak into the unyielding shifting sands
Of the desert that is clearly an ever-keening ecosystem wrought by my peculiar plans.

This morning we got up and decided to go to a kid’s museum twenty miles north of here

This morning we got up and decided to go to a kid’s museum twenty miles north of here, because the one in town was for older kids. The place was a mob scene, what with so many summer camp groups moving through it. There appeared to be two lines moving to two separate ticket desks when we arrived. We got in one of them behind a group of a bunch of day camp kids and the people who had gone in right before us. Within minutes, the day camp kids had gone in, and a lady in the right-hand line started snarling at us, “the line is over here.” She was one of those entitled, self-important, Daddy’s sorority sister-types who had clearly just recently been burdened with the housewife life, and was having trouble adjusting to the thought of any people getting something in life before her. I made some remark rather loudly about how where I come from people are smart enough to form two lines to ensure smoother traffic flow, but hey, I’m sorry that I didn’t know that doing things smart wasn’t the way they did things down here. She just huffed and sniffed and did her best to ignore me. I was almost tempted to make a scene and yell in her face and get kicked out, but I decided to keep my composure and just give her the evil eye from a distance.

Our son led us from exhibit to exhibit (or, mob scene to mob scene, as it were), not finding much to his interest until we finally came upon a semi-large car jacked up with somewhat realistic tires (rather heavy for him) that had to go on the posts/pegs and have plastic lug nuts screwed in to keep them on. After that, our son was hooked and wanted nothing else to do with anything else. He figured out how to fit the tire onto the pegs and that made him very proud and obsessed with the activity. Soon, he was preventing other kids from joining in the fun, and even dropped a tire on a little girl’s foot–she politely left the scene of my disruptive hooligan, but I wasn’t going to allow this to continue to go on. The young man, if anything, needs to learn some manners in public so he doesn’t end up like his dad. After repeatedly asking then begging him to do something else other than change tires, he refused to budge and so I picked him up to carry him to something else. He ferociously kicked me in the nuts, and that was it. Between the many overly made up young housewives snooting about and the mobs of children careening everywhere, I was already reaching my limit, and now I had a disobedient son on my hands. In our lovely modern culture, I know we are supposed to all be raising free range, affluenza kids who will hopefully find a way to adjust to having had no discipline in their lives before entering sports teams and bands where their coaches and band directors will be endlessly humiliating them and shaping them into becoming somewhat healthy members of society. However, I can’t see myself working with an affluenza, free-range child for the next twelve years or so until we can ship him off to endless band and sports camps, so I yelled at him, he yelled at me, and I made snide remarks to any parent who dared cast their eyes in my direction. A lot of them looked very smug and self-satisfied that it wasn’t their child making a scene, and a few of them got into that act where they pretended that their own children were all perfect angels and had never had one single toddler meltdown, which is the most egregiously-disgusting act of them all.

I said things like “he’s a toddler, have you never seen a toddler before?” and when we got outside made remarks to the entering groups who were staring at us like we were zoo creatures: “yeah, it’s really going to be that much fun.”

Fortunately, for us, my wife’s grandfather had a toy excavator when we got to his apartment, complete with wheels that could be removed using a little plastic power tool that actually worked to take off the plastic nut or reverse direction and put it back on. My son couldn’t have been more thrilled, and there couldn’t possibly have been a more perfect gift waiting for the young man.

My wife’s grandfather’s lady friend had gotten it into her head that we needed a picture of my son with his great-grandfather getting soft serve ice cream down in the assisted living cafe together, and so we all worked mightily to stage this production. All the way there from the kid’s museum, we kept telling our son that he would be getting soft serve ice cream and he kept saying he was already full of it. I told him he was certainly full of something…

Then, upon seeing the little bowl full of ice cream, our son changed gears completely, and was mostly happy thereafter.

Last night, yet another dream about finding some great deal of discomfort and uncertainty around leaving seminary for the private sector to go back to doing what I was doing before. In this dream, we were having our final exam (again) this week, and I was suddenly realizing just how busy I was going to be with moving my family out over the next couple of weeks. I called up my brand new employer, told them I had changed my mind, and called up the dean’s office to let them know as well. The reason for me changing my mind again? So I could have an extra three weeks off to do nothing that I wasn’t going to be getting if I had to get my family moved into a new apartment and prepare for a new job.

The dream, I think, may have been saying how some of my reasons for dropping out are just as absurd as my reason (in the dream) for making the switch to stay. That, a desire to get fat and lay around and cash out on all the dreams of making something of myself was what was driving my recent decision, rather than any deep sort of discernment. There may be truth to this, but I probably won’t know just how much or how little truth until a few years from now…

In Easy Rider

In Easy Rider, the scene where Peter Fonda asks Dennis Hopper if he’s ever wanted to be anyone else, and Dennis Hopper says glibly, “Daffy Duck,” and Peter Fonda says, “Not me man, I’ve never wanted to be anyone but me.” Or, something to that effect.

For that generation, it was the first time such a large group of people coming of age had the opportunity to be many different things. The ones who survived the 60s and 70s became yuppies who wanted to die with the most toys. You could have been a rocker, stoner, junkie, pool shark, traveler, hippie, and a middle manager of a large corporation–if your parents had the means and you had the will to stay alive and keep moving.

For my generation, we were the first generation where our parents could decide via the pill and legalized abortion whether they wanted us or not. It didn’t always work that way, of course, but many of us came of age as “starter children” to parents who would go on to have millennial younger siblings that received more attention and focus so they could succeed in school and life. These are, of course, broad strokes. Gen X came of age with computers that didn’t do much of anything and anyone serious about making movies needed access to a lot of expensive film. There was electronic music, but anyone who wanted to be a computer DJ would have to wait until processor speeds caught up and chips got small enough so you could tote around your DJ lab in your laptop.

The so-called millennial generation looks a lot more like the Baby Boomer generation in a lot of ways–but one way is how the technology came into their hands–mass-marketed consumer technology to make music and art and film seemed to arrive in a first wave in the sixties, and the Gen X generation mostly worked with improvements on it. Video wasn’t really a viable medium for serious storytelling until the digital format caught up, became HD, and techniques and tools became widely available to make video look less like video.

But, the principle still applies–the amount of time you have on your hands to become anyone you want to be is limited. If you have too many disparate things you want to do and be, you may very well end up being none of them.

I certainly strive to live with very little as I generally see most of the really nice things I would want to have being out of the reach of my paycheck and my current lifestyle as a father. The thought of owning a muscle car, a motorcycle and being able to pack up a truck and go camping when I feel like it is highly appealing, but it probably won’t happen in this lifetime.

Vacation Notes

Today is Tuesday, July 18, 2017. We have driven up from Austin, stayed with the in-laws in Dallas, stayed in Little Rock, and now we are in Nashville. For the most part, the trip has gone smoothly, aside from the adjustments we are still making to traveling with a small guy. But, overall the small guy has been a pretty good trooper.

Of course, every time I remark about this in a journal entry or to my wife, the young man becomes incredibly needy.

In short, I haven’t had more than little five minute chunks to write about anything at all.

I haven’t drank too much–I was probably drinking more during the most stressful nights of my classes.

The new company called last night and they made me an offer that I can accept. I’ve accepted the offer and will be leaving seminary and leaving behind all of the old dreams to do something with my life other than be an office schmuck. It’s clear to me now that I wasn’t made to be a pastor, and the way that I am going to make the world a better place is to write checks to churches, non-profits, schools, etc. and raise a son.

Every time I’ve sat down to write, I’ve sat down with so many things on my mind to write and dreams of things that are mostly dreams about my current classmates in settings of going back to work. However, the constant need for attention on the part of the little one has scrapped most of whatever was in my head.

This, too, is part of the program that I just need to come to accept–I am no longer going to think for even a second that I have a future as a writer of anything…I was put on this earth to pass along my DNA, and make sure that it’s in someone who is equipped with the right social and intellectual skills and caliber to pass his/her DNA along as well.

It will feel weird over the next few weeks, getting used to this cashing out completely, but in the end, it will make me a happier person.


Wednesday, July 19
We are driving in to Charlotte today. I will get the full, in-law experience over the next few days. I suppose I shouldn’t be drinking as much at night because it is making me more grumpy than usual in the morning.

However, I have tried to steal away tiny little moments where this actually feels like a vacation instead of a constant battle to keep my son from melting down. Yesterday, at the train museum, which was, of course, a thing just for him to see, he got upset because he couldn’t hold the model trains and play with them. It was pretty much downhill from there until we got to the hotel and he had a chance to play in the pool.

I’ve tried not to get excessively focused on any particular thing on this trip, and just let my mind wander. I will be needing to undergo an intense amount of preparation for another big shift when we get back: reading up on the industry of my new employer, refreshing myself on marketing automation best practices and how to use their particular MA tool, dealing with people who are going to be hostile toward me for skipping out of seminary, finding a new place where we can live and keep the dog, moving–all of it will have to happen in a three-week time span.

It seems like an inordinate amount of stress to put myself and my family through, but it should pay off in the long run. The amount of stress we’ve been through in the past year has been way out of bounds for anything we should have to go through at this point in our lives. I think we will have to hit this one bump, and my son will be transitioning to a new school next month as well, and then we can get into a nice groove where we live more or less like every other American middle class family that has gone to sleep as it pertains to the problems of the rest of the world.

For me, the big shift isn’t going to be any of the moving or new job stuff–I’ve done that many times over and I’ve never been in a better place financially to pull the trigger to make it happen this time. The big shift is strictly about changing my mentality. I will no longer really concern myself with thinking that I am on some sort of “great path” toward an ultimate life telos where I will become the absolute perfected being as it pertains to God’s will for me. Or, to be more to the point, I will no longer think I was put here on earth to accomplish something specific. I will no longer be looking over my shoulder at options for going back to school and wondering what might have been if only I’d studied harder in math class my Freshman year of college, or what would have happened if only I’d joined the Army, or had the guts to ask so-and-so to a dance.

I’m still of a mind that I am on some kind of cosmic journey. But, what that really is, is something unfolding independently of human-imposed notions on what the timeframe should look like for progressing toward an ultimate state of being. I will no longer pay much attention to people who insist on me having a career of some kind in mind at my workplace. I was having a perfectly okay sort of career as a web developer and email marketer when I started letting every single voice in my head steer me this way and that. I wanted to be a great leader like Bill Clinton, so I spent one summer volunteering full-time while still working full-time. Then, there was the insistence that I would have a career in the local non-profit community. Then the EMT preparation summer with the A+P and medical terminology classes. Then, a summer dating my wife, and that was probably the best summer I’ve ever had, at least since I was a teenager. I think that was the best summer because I completely stopped caring about my job and the workplace as being the catalyst or stepping stone toward ultimate happiness.

But, I wasn’t done yet. At my next employer, I really let the people who supervised me talk me into thinking that I needed to advance through the ranks of marketing, and be career-focused instead of content and happy just doing what I had been doing. That finally ground to a halt after so many false starts, and I spent a summer thinking I would like to go back to school and pursue a BS in mathematics. However, somehow, by hook or crook, I found myself back at the company I’d left recently with VP in my title, though it was utterly meaningless–they’d given me the title because some of the management were too damn lazy to sign contracts and the company was in Waco so they couldn’t figure out how to use docusign.

And then, this past year at seminary. And, what I’ve come to realize about myself is that I absolutely despise being told what I have to read, and when to read it, when I’m not on the clock drawing a paycheck. During the hours of 8-12 and 1-5, M-F, I am more than happy to read about my company and make my goals its goals, and make my reading material be all about how to ensure my company’s and team’s success. But, when I am off the clock, I don’t want to be weighed down with the burden of having to read only books that pertain to what my company does. If I want to spend the next three months reading through some science fiction and dipping into military history books, so be it. If I decide that poetry is going to be my thing, or math, or physics, or whatever–then I’m on my own time, not the timeframe of my MA or PhD program…

Which is to say, it has been made abundantly clear to me that more school for me never really was in the cards. I had to give it my best shot, though, because so many of my past rejection of going back to school was an immature sort of hang-up around me being uncomfortable with the fact that my father had paid for all of my schooling and had all but physically prevented me from doing anything else until I got a college degree. I had to eliminate the people-pleaser in me as well as the rebel and get down to figuring out what I want to do. And, I think to some degree, the seminary program has been a kind of people-pleasing activity. It is designed to be something that I hope makes my mom happy from wherever she is watching, or would have made her happy had she still been on the earth today. Admittedly, I do find historical writing and linguistic study about the times and places the Bible was written to be fascinating, and I always will. But, I also find other times and places in human history to be equally interesting. So, I don’t want to ever get focused on one particular area of study to the point that I am able to successfully obtain a PhD.

Which also means that I have to abandon any ego or pride that what I write is especially profound or earth-shattering for anyone. It is simply a record of my thoughts and activities.

You might think that it is a bit of a tragedy that I have only reached the conclusion that I’ve reached at the age of 41, when most people arrive at this kind of understanding by the end of their 20s. I should have cashed out a long time ago, started a family in the suburbs and have been saving up money from my office job for the kids’ educations and our travels post retirement. But then, there are plenty of things I should have done differently, and worrying about why I didn’t do them differently never makes a bit of difference.

So much for all of that. The rest of this vacation will likely be mostly on the boring side, as I no longer feel compelled to take my son to an attraction every single day. We visited the Clinton Presidential Library while in Little Rock, and they had a big animatronic bug exhibit inside the building, which was helpful for us. Knowing what I know now about Presidential campaigns and presidents, I’ve finally come to an understanding of what we really look for in a President–by we, I mean almost everyone who has a family or has thought about the importance of the future when they consider the current generation of children.

We really don’t want a president we can have a beer with, what we want is a president we can proudly say to our children, “this was our president” or “this is our president.” It then depends on what that has to be for various people. For many people in America, it is still unacceptable that we had a black man as a president, and the thought of having a woman as a president was equally awful. Whatever deluded conspiracy theories regarding Kenyan births, Islamic tendencies or evil machinations of a single family (ie, the Clintons), it all came down to a person standing in the booth and asking themselves “do I want to tell my child that this is our president?” For many, a pussy-grabber was far preferable to someone possessing her own vagina. And this was because in spite of his poor track record when it came to morals and ethics, Trump is still a father at the end of the day who appears to love all of his children deeply. Which is not to say Hillary doesn’t love Chelsea, but it is to say that a woman president was too much to bear, and the alternative was a man who at the end of the day was at least a father (who was at least good enough of a father that his kids were willing to publicly appear to like him).

Looking back on U.S. presidents, the ones we admire the most are the ones that we are proud to tell our children: this was our president. JFK can be at times admired more than FDR, simply because we like the idea of a younger, healthy, attractive fellow who looks like the man many men want to be and women want to marry. JFK didn’t do much during the time of his presidency and FDR probably did more than any other president since Abraham Lincoln, but we just like pointing to a virile, photogenic man and saying: that was our President. JFK was the last president before America got caught up in Vietnam and its protests and race riots and hippies bombed out on drugs. Ronald Reagan fits this same mold. He may have run us into more debt while talking about shrinking government, and he may have messed up the economy to the point where Bush Sr had to be left holding the bag. RR is someone most of us can happily point to and say: this was our president. To some degree, Bill Clinton came along and tapped into this same desire. If he’d just kept his pants zipped up, he very well could have walked out of the White House having as much love for him as Reagan. Sure, Clinton had his detractors who would never love him no matter what, but so did Reagan.

As for me and my son, I will happily point to Obama any day of the week and say to my son: this was our president–maybe even moreso than any other president since FDR, and that includes JFK. What Obama actually accomplished will be made clear as history progresses and the appreciation of it will increase. What Clinton accomplished will carry a similar arc of increased appreciation, but not nearly so. Clinton lucked out because he presided over an economy that was just starting to become an internet one, and he got out before the dot com bubble really burst. Bush Jr was left holding the bag for some things that probably were beyond his ability to fix, and the bad things that happened in the economy at the end of Bush Jr’s term weren’t necessarily all his fault. Bush Jr will, however, be mostly damned by historians for having allowed his henchmen to lie freely about uranium from Nigeria and weapons of mass destruction to get us back over to Iraq to finish what his daddy started. He will not be eyed nearly as favorably by historians as Clinton or Obama.

This is why Republicans love Reagan so much. They know at the end of the day that their only good presidents since WWII are Eisenhower and Reagan, and nobody hardly remembers Eisenhower much, anymore. When they do, it’s usually to quote his warning about the military industrial complex and mention that Eisenhower started the freeway system, which isn’t an especially small government sort of thing to do. Nixon was terrible, Ford was okay but was just cleaning up Nixon’s mess. Bush Sr was about average, and let’s be honest, Bush Jr had all of the same northeastern nasally voice as his father without any of the more masculine projection. Bush Jr didn’t exactly project the kind of masculine confidence that even Bill Clinton was capable of. Clinton was also well aware of the fact that he didn’t fight in Vietnam because that kind of thing still mattered at the time.

Of course, this is why Democrats ultimately allowed Dean to fail in 04–Kerry just looked like a president, even if he was wooden and boring. This is why they let Obama win in 08–they knew that at the end of the day more men (and even a lot of women) would rather see a black man than a woman of any color in the white house. I suppose they should have taken the same approach with Bernie, but Bernie projected less of the “here’s what an American president should look like” than even Hillary. So, the Democrats hedged their bets that more people would want to say “Hillary is our president” to their children than say “Bernie is our president.”

But, too many people wanted something that was the complete opposite of Obama, and that’s what we got. Is it racist and sexist? Absolutely. Most people would deny that they think this way, but I think we all do to some degree. I mean, I personally would rather tell my children Hillary was our president than the traitorous pussy-grabber we have in the White House right now, but my vote and my opinions matter very little when it comes to your average white, middle-class suburban American psychology. People are terrified of America becoming too brown or too liberal or having a woman telling them what to do. People want the President to look and talk like what they think a President should look and talk like, which is what their parents and Hollywood has told them since childhood–and that person generally should be a middle-aged, middle-height white dude with some distinguished gray hair but not too gray and no visible bald spots. Basically, Mitt Romney minus the Mormonism, though I think that after these four years of a train wreck, many many people would love to have Mitt be their president.

Thursday, July 20…
Up early in Charlotte, NC with the baby while his mom still sleeps. A fairly non-eventful ride into Charlotte from Knoxville. The hills and trees were making me swoon. Why have I devoted my life to living somewhere with so few trees? I love the beach, I love mountains, I love places where trees are everywhere. I live in Austin. Each year that has passed has seen me come up with a new reason to remain there, mostly centered around family and fear of the unknown. After a year of full-time chugging away at a job, I think I’m going to make the push to live some place else–maybe Portland, Charlotte, Boulder–I probably don’t even really care at this point, other than to be somewhere new.

I’ve entered into that awful period of silence where it seems like no one is really interested in talking to me, but I would really like to have someone available to discuss some of the decisions I’ve made, as well as make sure that I am still running on the right track.

***
Those thoughts were this morning. I recognize that it is pure folly to expect instant and constant validation from everyone for whatever pops into your head.

I think that I have been cycling through a lot of latent bullshit over needing to be affirmed as if I am four, and it’s got to stop. The world is mean and doesn’t care about you, and that’s that. I don’t need any more bitch sessions, and I apologize for all the writing that amounts to only that…

Nobody is going to be happy all the time about my decisions but me. That’s just the way it works. I’m the same way toward others.

What you already had was the ideal way of being with only a few pieces missing. Striving for a whole new way of being has messed you up.

The difference between expanding your ego and getting closer to God is a polar opposite one, yet sometimes you think that the two processes are identical.

If you decide you want to be more like Christ, why then, you want to see yourself progressing toward being identical to the kind of person you think that Christ would be in your time and place.

Yet, your approach to perfecting your saintly self might as well be the same one taken by a hedge fund manager on his way toward obtaining as much wealth as possible. In other words, you are more concerned about how the world, or at least one significant segment of the world perceives you, rather than whether or not you are remotely righteous at all.

This is not to say that you are a complete hypocrite. You don’t commit the morst perverse acts of evil before turning to face the cameras and kiss a blind, orphaned widow and hand her a small plate of food. Instead, you mostly spend your time trying to grow your reputation and any good that you do for the orphans and widows that comes while you are making a name for yourself is to be highly marketed and made to look as if it were the most good done by any one human being since Jesus. But, your main goal is in how the world perceives you, and what they say about you.

You wake up … and you realize that the world is still turning without you.

They go on. They get on with their lives. Theirs are a series of binary decisions that started with, should I live or should I die? You, however, are suddenly faced with an infinite series of possibilites, should I be reborn into another life, should I roam the world as a ghost, should I inhabit my own fantasy world, should I go to hell, or heaven, or the place of nada?

I walked on. I woke up many mornings feeling like a nobody, a nothing, an unexceptional accident, a passthrough body where eventually my DNA might manifest itself as something great in my son, grand-daughter, or a descendant fifty generations from now. I didn’t know who I was or why I was here.

I severed ties with loved ones and strengthened ties with people I couldn’t stand. I dreamed of the beach and found myself in the plains of the Midwest. I dreamed of the mountains, and lo and behold, I was in the desert. I dreamed of travel and went nowhere. I dreamed of fortune and found poverty. If my law of attraction was working correctly, then I was surely malfunctioning at almost every level imaginable. Either that, or I was in the wrong universe. Perhaps in every universe, in order for the law of attraction to work properly, some of us must repel everything (negative or positive) that should ordinarily be attracted to us. We are the anti-matter of the universe that keeps the matter and the winners stable. We might seem to be successful, privileged, spoiled, but we actually repel what we obsess over (good or bad) what others attract.

Let me be clear, I am not a good guy. The good of me will not be interred in my bones–my good will be in whatever my good little son takes and makes his own. My good was just a gift of God, not my own creation. Perhaps my son will make some good of his own–he’s such a good guy. But, I’m not going to put him under too much pressure to be a great man–a president of a company or some such.

Why am I not a good guy? I am selfish and self-serving…just read all of this. You won’t hear me write about my friend from seminary who lost her mother today while she was twelve hours out from getting home after her final test of the full Junior year. We are Juniors, Middlers, and Seniors, here. I would rather sit and write about my day, my dreams, my problems, my issues. Me, me, me. You’d think I was the most special human being God ever made.

Now, even though I am not such a good guy, and I am so self-serving, God continues to be good to me. My health problems consist of acid reflux disease and premature gray hair, along with terrible eyesight and an average intelligence coupled with average athletic ability. In short, I am more blessed than 99% of humanity has ever been in its history, but to hear me speak, you’d think I was slightly more persecuted that Christ himself.

Why do I whine and complain so much? I suppose I think that if I stop, I will become boring, life will become boring–too many normal, good things flowing my way might turn me into the dud I’ve always feared I really was (and was often told I was partially behind my back).

Now that I’m older, though, I like the idea of being a dud. I look back on my so-called career and see myself evolving toward being a data and numbers guy instead of a creative, artsy dude. If I were to launch a brand new career tomorrow, I might want to be your accountant instead of your marketer. Being a creative, strategic thinker (really, a “feeler”) who hates mornings is sexy, but if you are called sexy by no one, and clearly unsexy to your core, then maybe being a coldly logical, tactical person who reserves emotional content for the children and the spouse is not such a bad thing at all. What’s more, if every single bum in the building is trying to be creative and an individual, perhaps you will stand out that much more if you give that shit up and let yourself be plodding, predictable and interested in the same Sci-Fi movies and classic rock as the next boring Honda or Subaru driver. Take a family vacation some place predictably part of the 1950s American dream. Drink beer. Befriend those who are fat and white. Just do it.

Let this life destroy my ego for good. If there’s one thing I want, it’s to stop wanting things for myself, and begin to want things only for others. I could be a breatharian, if you would just show me the way. I will live like one of the sky-clad Jains, in the woods or by the beach. I could be naked, free of even the most basic necessities. Make me into a conduit who simply takes the goodness and blessings of life and the Lord, and passes them on to others.

I don’t need a permanent home, or car or collection of family heirlooms. Even my writing can blow away. The Son of Man has no home, why should I? The wise man built his house upon the rock, but what kind of house was it? Was this a metaphorical house upon a metaphorical rock? Sometimes in the Bible, the wicked and evil are rootless and shiftless, and yet, so is Jesus. Jesus sleeps and drinks and eats among the sinners. He came to be a physician for the sick. I am surely not Jesus, but why should I live as a sick man pretending to be well? Why not be the sick man I truly am and live in those places where Jesus might surely find me?

The worst kind of hell wouldn’t be other people, but it could be a place where no one answers you, and you feel yourself drifting endlessly farther away from a place of salvation. Drifting eternally into a deeper sludge of no one and nothing to answer you, validate you, help you out–why, wouldn’t that be a scarier thing for you than roaming about a fiery furnace and gnashing your teeth against a trillion other damned souls?

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Where would I be without all of this technology to assist me and my memory? I would be like any other peasant or soldier from any other time in human history–farming or killing, depending upon the available means and resources of the given culture. Sure, they had what is technically technology back in the good fine days of pre-history and eras of widespread illiteracy. However, only earnest fools would consider a rough plow pulled by a donkey to be different by degree from this magic Internet machine.

Things I am good at–that used to be a thing to ask

Things I am good at–that used to be a thing to ask. Surely, there must be one good thing for me to be good at that the rest of the world. I thought being a painter could be my thing. I loved checking out books about Matisse from the public library, and trying to understand what he was trying to accomplish, and then making my own mess of colors on a canvas as if nothing had really happened between Matisse and the 21st Century, except maybe Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko. Oh, there’s that dude who puts embalmed sharks in aquariums, but he’s not a painter.

Of course, there’s always poetry. If you learned to write back in school, you can write poetry. You can slap together just about anything that looks like your language in written form and tell people that it’s poetry.