Saturday, October 22, 2016

Epilogue




"I have said it before and I'll say it again; 
It is not that I don't believe in God, 
I just don't believe in your God. 
My God isn't a human being with mutant abilities. 
It doesn't punish for having a mortal nature 
or cast us out for the actions we have taken. 
In the emptiness of the unknown, 
there is peace in the silence and rest in the true divine. 
If you close your eyes and listen, 
you can hear absolutely nothing at all."






This blog is completed

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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Getting Off

"The most frequent question I am asked regarding this blog is what I mean by the term 'surviving god.' The answer is not a complex one. For anyone who has suffered at the hands of a religion or been cast out from their God because of the doctrines and dogmas of an organized faith institution, the term is precise. Surviving God does not necessarily mean you no longer believe. It does not denote some form of atheism or rebellion against the object of your devotion. It simply refers to getting past all the garbage that seems to come from the traits and limitations mankind tends to place on the Divine. Surviving the damage these concepts can inflict is a subjective process, an evolution both intellectually and spiritually. Surviving God means just that, endurance in the face of damnation and recognition that one remains a child of God despite our harshest critics. It pertains to salvation through subsisting and pulling through in spite of all the well meaning, and often quite nasty, religious folk who would have us believe their way, their convictions, and especially their gods, are against us but for them."
(Skeletal Remains - December 30th, 2014)




            I had already been posting a blog for well over a year when I started Surviving God. That was over 5 years ago. I had no idea I could go that long, although I don't recall anyone ever complaining. Such an investment, such a commitment and yet I am here, with 200 plus blogs under this heading. I never monetized. I never censored myself unless to prove the point. I did what I set out to do. In this case, I am done doing. I'm stopping this train and getting off (so to speak). Don't get me wrong, I am not abandoning this cause. I'm just hopping on board a different train. I'm just pointing myself in a new direction. I have come to a fork in the road. I can continue with the way it was or I can see what lies another way. I am excited by the idea of what I might encounter and create. In the truest sense, like the heading simply states, I have managed, thus far, to survive God. That being said and done, I still have much to write about and to explore with words. It is the words I have already written that I hope linger for many to see. I have done my best to explain myself and that's the best I can do.

"What were you looking for when you found me?
No, I'm not everything that you'd thought I'd be now ...
Was that a rude awakening?
I ain't no devil, I ain't no saint
I am what I am, can't be what I ain't now ...
Would you really want me to be?
I said I'd bring all I got to the table
I said I'd stand by you long as I'm able
But I never said I could walk on water
I never said I was perfect in any way
Trying to put my love to you
Doing my best and ... that's the best I can do"
(Walk on Water, Amy Grant 1995)

            No matter what has occurred. No matter the insight gained, or information gathered, I still want so much to know God. In particular, it would be nice if my Christian upbringing did not conflict with my newly gained perceptiveness. I want to have a relationship with the deities I was raised to believe in. This has become impossible for me to do. I cannot ignore the anthropomorphic characteristics the Abrahamic theologies would have me believe are divine traits. I can't look past the angry, judgemental and downright cruel behaviour on this God's part. The God I was taught to believe in appears to be nothing more than a mutant human being. I cannot, in good conscience, worship at the feet of a mortal. Whether it can walk on water or not is irrelevant. So I have been left to question whether all this surviving god was for naught. I get the feeling I was just wasting my time. There was never anything there in the first place. So now it would be so  easy to simply walk away altogether. I cannot abandon my gut instinct. It might be a UFO or some consciousness containing the universe. It might be Jesus but it might be Buddha. There are still so many questions, even more than there was before. The truth is there are no answers. Nothing is all there really is. We are bound to this mortal coil and are limited by the reality we have created around us. Any idea we entertain regarding the paranormal is filtered by our humanity. We are limited by our preconceived notions. We cannot know, we aren't supposed to know. All we know is nothing.  

"The only true wisdom is knowing you know nothing."
(Socrates, classical Greek/Athenian philosopher)

            Other than bringing back the dead, if there was only one thing I was allowed in this life, I would choose writing. Creating characters and worlds from nothing is a thrilling experience. To purge, like blood onto a page, is emancipation. It is pure penance. A selfish, needy act with better cause. To affect one other with one's work is in itself the greatest reward. There is nothing, in my opinion, that I can do better. The journal of my life is not all in my head. It now rests in a cloud, a digital record for all to see. For those who would ask to know me, I simply refer them to the entirety of my little masterpiece. Each expression is self-defining. Each part of this journey has managed to recreate me in my own image. What began as an exercise in futility now acts as a testament unto itself. The art of "pen to paper" has delineated my life. In the best sense, writing about who I am, where I came from and how I felt en route has reshaped me. Viewing my experiences as a third person has allowed me to see things much more clearly. I have, in a sense, been refined by my own hand. Relaying my very own message to others has allowed me to reach myself. At this point in my life, I cannot fathom no longer writing.




"I searched, I searched, I searched my whole life
To find, find, find the secret
But all I did was open up my eyes ...
It's all an illusion
There's too much confusion
I'll make you feel better
If it's bitter at the start
Then it's sweeter in the end"
(Get Together,  Madonna 2005)

            There is no happiness, only moments of happiness. These small doses are hard to achieve and even harder to maintain. Something always gets in the way. The truth is that's the way life is. You have to earn your peace. Nothing comes easy, and in the end, it usually isn't worth the trouble. While I consider myself religion free, no longer a hostage to it, I cannot abandon what I have come to know. I have come to this place relatively intact, it would seem. I have survived God simply through the process of cut and paste. At this stage of my life, I'll take as many incidents of joy as I can get. I might take a happy trip. I keep moving along my way although I have no idea where I am headed. It seems to me that it all ends up with life being nothing more than a giant amusement park, unfit to play in forever. Right up until the end, it's one adventure after another. In order to survive this life, you have to adapt. You must evolve. You have to ride the ride until it comes to a complete stop. Then you get to exit.

"This is how it seems to me
Life is only therapy
Real expensive and no guarantee
So I lie here on the couch
With my heart hanging out
Frozen solid with fear
Like a rock in the ground
You move me
You give me courage
I didn't know I had
You move me
I can't go with you and stay where I am
So you move me"
(You Move Me, Garth Brooks)







                                                          

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Tuesday, October 11, 2016

monster hope


"Looking out to the hills
To the setting sun
I feel a cold wind
Bound to come
Another change
Another end I cannot see
But your faithfulness to me is making it
All right
I fall down on my knees
Tell me that it's all right
You give me what I need
Years of knocking on heaven's door
Have taught me this if nothing more
That it's all right ... what may come"
(All Right, Amy Grant 1986)

            The more time I spend alive, the more I realise just how senseless and random all this living is. I'm not sure that this conclusion applies to any other life than my own but I think I am safe in saying, I am not alone. There is futility in existence. Nothing always means nothing and sometimes it means even less. Life isn't sunshine and lollipops. Life is suffering and hopelessness and doom. The entire process of living is simply death measured out. There really is nothing else. To put it simply, all those promises are for naught. It all is. Even the earth and sky won't last forever. One moment we are here and the next we are gone. In between, there is nothing but the constant barrage of chaos and loss and agony. We are screaming as we are all led to slaughter. Just like when you love someone, you are simply wasting your time. No matter your lot in life, you are born to suffer and then you die. There is nothing you can do about it. Between our birth and our death, the middle ground is only fallow, sown over for each of our amusement. All the while you sit and cry from an unending onslaught of destruction and pain. All hope is lost, not that there was ever any to begin with.  
            We are monsters. We skulk and crawl and we act like creatures. We hate much more than we ever love. We bite any hand that dares to feed us. Our bite is far worse than our bark. Culled by living, and controlled by fear, we don't embrace our salvation until it's far too late. We project our own folly in the gods that we worship. They too are monsters but from a distance they roar. In the heart of man beats a demon that no angel can rid. No one can be trusted. We are selfish and shallow and think only of ourselves. We are narcissistic without ever needing a mirror. We know it very well. We live in our shadows so much they become our friend. We do not need anyone to self-flagellate in private. It's a secret for no one but you and you alone. One always fails to see their own little horror, so they don't even look for it in others. We all are monsters. The fact we might smile towards sunshine is irrelevant to our history and current place in life. You can deny it all you want, and curse me even more, but it's the stone cold truth. Just because we only think something sleeps under the bed doesn't make it any less real.
            I used to believe that love and compassion ruled this world. I used to believe that underneath our mortal coil there was something worth living for, some grand sense of obligation to one another. I was wrong. No one gives a damn about anything but themselves. One of my greatest struggles has been to look past the actions of mankind and instead see children of God battling to make it through. What a crock of horseshit. We don't care about each other, all we care about is our own purpose, our own way down the road. My hope and direction once led me to understanding. Now, the constant drone of reality has convinced me that all along I was doing nothing else but wasting my time. There is no hope. Mankind is doomed.
            Obviously, my way of thinking regarding life in general has become somewhat dark, cynical and without much optimism. I only see doom and chaos these days. Life has become so bitter that I barely remember the taste of anything else. There appears to be no purpose, no reason for anything at all. As I flounder in all this decay, I am constantly reminded that I have been through much worse. The difference now lies in the consequence of this go round. I have tried, no matter, to see some hope in all the things that pass before me. It has been my mission to survive not only God but any action for which I believed God held me accountable. For so long I have served my penance. Paying the price for the push I didn't do but might as well have. I have taken it all like a man. I deserved what I got for the things that I have done. I am judged and condemned all in the same sentence. I have hardened my heart. I no longer wish to be a part. I am weary and suffered and dust in the wind. Just stopping to view myself has become a lesson in terror. I never wanted to admit it but I am no better than anyone else. No one really evolves, we just tell ourselves that we have. I have fallen to the reckless abandon of this world. I may be surviving but truly living escapes me. Perhaps all the walls I have built to protect me have fallen to the wayside, victims of the wrecking ball. In the most disturbing turn of events, in the most melancholy of ways, I have become a monster just like you.
             
"No one knows what it's like
To be the bad man
To be the sad man
Behind blue eyes
And no one knows
What it's like to be hated
To be fated to telling only lies"
(Behind Blue Eyes, The Who 1971)

            I am a pathetic little man trying desperately to make some noise. I have convinced myself that I had something to say so I tried to say it as clearly as possible. Again, I was just wasting my time. Writing a blog has been one of the most cathartic exercises I have ever undertaken. It not only helped me deal with my feelings about almost everything, but I converted the experience for what it was into something that suited my needs, my purpose. I am a fool. To believe even one person would stop and give heed to the warnings, pay attention to the cries, was ignorance and stupidity.  I just don't matter and neither do you. Nothing does even though it has become somewhat attractive. Like an orphan lost in the forest, there is no home to go home to. There is little if anything at all. You wake, you breathe, you suffer into sleep and you do it all over again the next time. I have said it over and over again. Life makes dying look easy. No matter what you do, no matter your intent, you're screwed. There is little reason to face the sun. Who wants to go towards the light when the darkness is a better friend? Why do we bother at all?
            It was not my intention to repudiate anything divine or holy from my life. After decades of soul searching, I suddenly realised that there was little left to search for. I have fallen into the idea of nothing so it's hard to find something, if anything at all. The world itself is doomed. So is mankind. So am I. There is absolutely fuck all you can do about it. Just the fact you are living means you're dying. There is no hope. To sit and to be expected to believe that a god who punishes, tortures and murders his own "children" can somehow reward with a better salvation causes great pause for me. It makes it enough for me. It leaves me to hope for the darkness. My attempt at surviving god only convinced me that the god I was trying so hard to survive, did not exist. Like a painter in a dark closet, I cannot see to create. I cannot fathom what is out there so I see little to see. That's the thing about surviving god. That's the thing about moving on. You need somewhere to go or you are lost on your own. You flounder, you folly. Given time, just like the rest of us, you turn into a monster.

"So cry for me baby, and I'll cry for you
And we'll both break down and we'll both break through
We'll find our way and we'll face the truth
We both will be stronger
And we'll lie down in our loneliness
And wake up with our sad regrets
Even though we don't know it yet
We both will be stronger"
(Stronger, Faith Hill 2002)

            I tend to sit in my backyard, alone most times, absorbing the silence. Peace and quiet are a rare thing so finding such refuge does not go unnoticed. It is not pure but it is much better than nothing. I contemplate. I meditate. I commune. My friend Red is with me every time. He hops along the fence with his red breast and he talks to me. Betty, the dove, coos for me, resting just above my head. Herbert and his mate (I think they are partners) dance in and out from beneath the deck. They sit from their vantage point and they watch me as they feed. Like Chip n' Dale, they speed about, cheeks full of joy and sunflower seeds too. I have always loved rodents. The grass is green and the sky quite blue and the world is also warm and fuzzy to me. The plants and their flowers take to task, overwhelming the gardens with plush green leaves and every shade of yellow known to man. It is beautiful here. It is sanctuary and safe harbour. Each evening, as twilight begins, I stop myself from dwelling and I find my resting place. I am in the same place. As the day discovers night, I sit and discover myself. I think of my Mother and just how empty my world still is without her. I linger on Doug and how I wish that he was here with us. I think of my Father and the friend he has become. Of my friends and my social connections, I stop by for a visit. I look upon the life I now lead, the partner I have, and how my pets are going to die soon. I don't ever have to be alone.
            The house is almost finished now. With some painting, and a rug or two, my mission will be complete. In under a year, I have created the space. It is fluid and classy and comfortable. It looks like home but it also feels like home. My house is filled with the aesthetically pleasing. The life I lead is rich. I want for nothing and have much more. If one was to measure the abundance of material things, you could conclude that I had fallen into God's favour. I could hardly ask for more. It's the icing on top of the cake. After 18 years, I still have Ben. It's not always peaceful between us and we know it. It's not always smooth sailing by any means but it thrives and lingers and drives me crazy. The proof is not lost on me. I have everything I have ever wanted. The Christian would claim I am blessed beyond measure but the darkness weighs much more than any light. It haunts me, forced screaming in an empty room. There is something missing and the hole, the void, it drains anything good from my sight. It drowns me in nothing but nothing at all. It rules my senses and promises peace. I do not know how to mend that which has been broken. I can't even tell if things are corrupted or not. I do not know how to fill the space. What the hell happened to me?
            I don't commune with God much these days. Our relationship has always been one-sided anyway. I do all the begging and God does all the ignoring. He never talks to me. He never says a single word. I suppose, the separation I feel from anything Holy had to be in order for me to be. In order to survive God, I had to alienate myself from Him. I had to build the walls between us for any semblance of peace. Now that the dye is cast and I sit in my yard alone, I cannot help but to hope somewhere in the darkness, which brings much comfort, that something remains. Perhaps the answer has been a simple one to find. Perhaps in letting go of the Abrahamic deity I was raised to believe in, there is room for new definitions. Maybe in order to survive, I have to recreate the God I have experienced. Who knows, I may have already found him in the silence I've discovered. Perhaps if we all took a moment to seek it out we could find it once again. I have to believe that somewhere there is a place that welcomes all us monsters.

“Only in quiet waters do things mirror themselves undistorted. Only in a quiet mind is adequate perception of the world.” (Hans Margolius, American author)

            I lead a quiet life. I have solace and peace and joy in spite of the empty space reserved for Jesus or a burning bush or a flying camel. I just know I will be okay, whatever comes. I have embraced the silence for its own sake. Rather than looking outward for signs and wonders, I now listen to the quiet. I look within for anything divine or heavenly or metaphysical. I guess, in a strange way, all this seeking has been like shedding my skin, a trait of a true monster. My biggest mistake was expecting God to do me any favours. Religion always sounds so much noise that I failed to seek Him in the silence. I hope that He is there. I hope and I continue to hope. I don't want to be like the most of us. I refuse to become a monster, even if I already am.









Photo

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Tuesday, October 4, 2016

31 - 08





            There are just some days. No matter the time and space between them, they repeat annually without fail. Year after year will mark the same day in the calendar. One may be your birth date. One may be your anniversary. Often, the date of a significant death may appear time after time. It matters little when it is, just why it is contains the meaning of it all. These anniversaries, or as I like to call them "commemorations," never hold the same day but they always hold the same date. They live with us. In a cycle they appear, over and over until your own turn at insignificance. Some of these benchmarks tell tales of woe and sadness. Others stand in pure memory, meaning nothing to no one at all. Some are celebrations and some for mourning. Some stand for a beginning and others for that end. You don't even need to commemorate a day in your life. Today could be your first day not smoking or the first five pounds lost. Almost anyone can claim one. All you have to do is mark it down in the blink of an eye and it is there with you. It will come again. The next and the next, like a welcome friend or despised enemy. All are sure to come back around. You don't even have to remember them yet somehow they manage to carry on without you. Somehow life marks the spot.
            Whether it's Christmastime or Easter, even Halloween, there are set dates that we all tend to observe. The date on which you bought your house or when your favourite dog died, they too act as a marker, a place in time we choose to recreate every twelve months or so. They are a constant harbinger of what has once been and they will always be sure to remind you. On occasion, a date will stand out because multiple events occurred on it. Like fate has chosen, throughout your lifetime one day contains the most. More often than not, each person holds such a commemoration. Every year, the anniversary adds fuel to the fire. It can seem like that day was meant to stand out. The message it bears quite lost to our senses and logic. It still occurs. You can't help but notice the significance. One thing after another is added. As the years pass, the pile becomes overwhelming at times. Sometimes it means nothing at all.
            You can look for meaning in the numbers. You can search for knowledge from the past. When it all comes down, these benchmarks are nothing but a constant reminder that life is passing, so quickly it can seem. Whether the day holds some special esoteric meaning is rather irrelevant to our quickening demise. These are not conditional to one's survival. Therein lies the metaphor. Every year, the day of all days, is a lighthouse off the coast of our living. Sink or swim, it stands there firm and strong. It gives light in the darkness and darkness comes with the light. It can seem that it is mocking us, all the while taunting us from its shore. We can see it coming from a distance and pass it evermore. Every year it persists, returning again and again as we approach it. It follows us, or we follow it. Once in awhile we see a multitude of beacons all in the very same row. They are on top of each other, once a quality of time has passed. They mean more though, in that unique way. They are thought of with dread or anticipation. Each is full of fury and sound and each signifies everything.     


- 1976

            I don't remember any August 31st before the one in 1976. I even looked up any grand event on that date, outside my experience. I hoped it might act to reignite a memory. There really were none to speak of, at least not from that vantage point. The fact that this Tuesday was like any other Tuesday did little to calm my fears. In fact, this was no ordinary day. This was the beginning of an entirely new life for me and my family. Relocating from place to place may be stressful but moving from the largest city in Canada to a small southwestern Ontario town was disruptive, unnerving and intimidating. At 11 years of age, the only thing I really cared about was the reality of leaving my life behind. All my friends, all my familiar gone like dust in the wind. The day was undeniable, its effect immeasurable. Nothing would ever be the same again. I recall sitting in the rear of our escape, watching as the city disappeared to blue skies and scenic views. The entire 401 corridor is caked with hills, valleys and escarpment (both remnants and the full deal). Like some odd dream, this day can play over in my mind. Leaving Toronto was one of the hardest things I have ever had to come to terms with but it was one of the very best things that ever happened to me.

           
- 1980

            We lived near downtown Strathroy for a few years before the house went up. Slowly, wall took to frame and space to filling. The back lot of my Grandfather's farm turned from the mound of horror I knew as a child to a safe place, a strong place, the place we all come from. I can still focus on the feeling I had watching our creation find fruition. Standing in the unfinished doorway of my bedroom to be, I basked in youthful joy. The day of the move was uneventful but has gone down in my thinking as a prominent event. It is worth remembering the sense of hope the entire experience brought me. Having left Toronto heartbroken, Strathroy soon became my sanctuary (not that I had much choice in the matter). Our new Scott Street location cemented me to the town. Swapping one ground for another meant gaining new roots but it was obvious to me I had been replanted. This dwelling became our home, the home. The day it all was done, waiting for possession, is the day that changed just where I claim to be from. At the end of the day I still laid me down to sleep. Visions raced through my mind as I settled into the place I was meant to be. Like any other day, it came and went with the rest of them. Like the very same day, it stood out, demanding recognition.


- 1988

            Exactly 122 days from the New Year, the last day of August holds one of the most significant moments in my life. I can still feel myself shaking when he walked in the room. He was tall and chiselled with a full and very dark beard. I had never experienced such attraction before. He was the most beautiful man I had ever seen and I knew I wanted more. The day we met is just the beginning but it marks what turned out to be the beginning of the end. In less than 7 years he would meet his own doom. Face to face, he took the one thing from himself that he could never return. Still, I try not to fixate on the finish line. I try to remember how it felt to meet him for the very first time. Every August 31st, I make the trip to Stratford with flowers or a card or sometimes even both. Beyond the guilt I have had surrounding his death, it is often nice for me to sit and think back on what might have been. I journey to the day I first saw him. I recreate it in my mind. In spite of the dark place that it ended with, year after year I get to pay homage to the man that I got to know and love and said goodbye to.


- 1997

            The day Diana Spencer, the Princess of Wales, died in that fiery car crash was monumental to my view of life. I was approached that evening by a co-worker at the gay bar where I was a bouncer. The call had gone out and the news came quickly to me. I rushed home as fast as I could and sat speechless while watching the event unfold on CNN. For years, I followed Diana. Her wedding to Charles found me watching at 5 AM EST, sitting in front of the television lurking with my Mother and sister Tracey. Her compassion, philanthropy and commitment to major causes like HIV research, cemented in my mind how significant she became to the world. She stood as a beacon for those who felt isolated from the 1%. Her class and position sat in stark contrast with her ever evolving care for humanity. For me, Diana came to represent hope. In her I found the goodness that others sorely lacked. It's sad that in death her influence has been lost to great degrees. She is the example we all should try to follow. We should remember to emulate her. I commemorate every year. The fact that it occurred on the date that it did stacked the tragedy with a growing trend.


- 1998

            A few years before I met Ben, I was grieving. The heavy burden had come upon me. Ben however, on August 31st 1995, was having his first sexual contact. Three years later and he got off a Greyhound bus and walked into my life. He has yet to leave. With 18 commemorations behind us, we look towards many more. The almost 2 decades we have known together have held laughter and tears. They have known struggle and they have known chaos. We remain through it all. No matter, they never seem to matter over the long run. It is a curious thing this thing called love. It never ceases to surprise me. I had never believed in such romantic notions regarding the love of your life or one's soul mate. I certainly would have argued, back then, that there are no second chances. I was wrong. I have been blessed with two distinct and life-changing partners. It seems love lies waiting and you don't even know it. Every August 31st holds a great dichotomy. The more the date passes, the further away I get from the pain of what happened with Doug . At the very same time, I have to look on the life I have now and remember just how fortunate I am. The world is both merciful and yet tragic. Every year, on the very same date, I find myself in deep contemplation. I find myself thinking of both the worlds that I have known and the loves that I have loved. There is no comparison as they are both so different yet they both mean so much.


 - 2000 and something
           
            There have not been many significant events on August 31st over the last 20 years or so. The day was already pretty full of hauntings and anniversaries and melancholy. There is much to them. Those things which bring joy to me on this day are muddled with longing and appreciation  and regret. This does not mean the day did not continue to bring its own complications. In 2000, a young man in his small car drove out from a Tim Horton's parking lot and smashed right into our 1984 red Firebird. It died a tragic death on Colborne Street in Ben's hometown of Brantford Ontario Canada. We replaced it with a white Sunbird which died on August 31st, 2002. In 2003, I was devastated to learn that Teddy, a large black chow, had to be put down after attacking a woman who was caring for him. I was heartbroken. He was a guard dog, after all. He was just another dog to everyone else but he helped me conquer my fear of large dogs. I had been severely bitten as a child by a large Irish Setter so initially I ran from the beast. So did everyone else. He was volatile, unpredictable and rather mean. I used chocolate chip cookies to soothe him. We eventually became wrestling buddies. My brown leather jacket has remnants of him chewing on my arm during play. I learned he was tender, he was fun but most of all his size did not determine his intent. It was all about how you treated him. To be frank, from what I know, that victim got what she deserved. It was unfair to put him down. If I had the ability to keep him at the time, I would have. I guess you can't save everyone.
            Over the last 15 years, August 31st has been a busy day. To commemorate the time I met Doug, I always try to make it to the cemetery in Strafford Ontario. Sometimes I go alone. Sometimes Ben comes with me. I just can't ignore this event. It gives me hope that somewhere in all the damage done, that Doug will somehow see my loyalty. It's the same loyalty I now have towards Ben. Whether before, or after, that visit to Avondale, we often spend our anniversary near the water in Port Burwell, on the north shore of Lake Erie. We prefer to mark the day in the sun rather than any lurking darkness. No matter, the day is never forgotten. It has in itself become a tradition.


- 2016

            I was told recently (by a person claiming to have a dialogue with God), that I would live to be 100 but only look 70. I can't begin to imagine this endeavour but I don't have issue with the looking younger part. I am good for that. If this is true, I will have experienced this life to the year 2065. This means 75 Augusts without Doug. I can't imagine how many with and then without Ben. Everyone I know, now, will be gone or well out the door by then. By the time I reach 100, I expect my calendar to be full. Every day will be a reminder of something. The marks on the paper will signify another goodbye and the echo of all my hellos. Moments that are full of happy and moments dark and sad. I will remember all the loving and the losing. I will remember, not so much because I am forced to, rather because I choose to. I suppose the hard cold reality is that no matter how much time we get, it is never ever enough. Commemorations simply help ground the experience so that we can choose not to forget.




            You have to learn to carry on. You can't survive if you're sitting in a corner screaming all the time. Suck it up, everyone else has to. Use the dates and times of your life not so much to recall but to reflect and in so doing, live a better life because of all the scribbling. Days are just days and anniversaries are just that too. What you do with them is all that really matters. In a strange way, marking the days of your life is just a simple way of recognising the things that matter most. It's hard enough surviving all the stuff (including God) that living brings to you without congesting the event with any long-term effect. Some things just are and the rest we turn into special occasions. The things in this life that happen to us, we are supposed to remember. They act like a guide, directing us through our experiences. Without them, we are left with only things. We should all know by now that the best things in life are not things. Life is contrived. You have to notice the connectivity with events and people. There is far too much coincidence to not see something purposeful in all these dates and occurrences. You have to gather all the lessons if you're going to find your way.


- 2065

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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The First Place





            The last thing I told myself was, "This could be it!" I know it sounds silly but I actually thought of the possibility. It might be over. I hadn't been under the knife since I was 12 years old. I rarely entered a hospital, let alone allowed them to cut me open. Yeah, yeah, it was only dental surgery but the idea came to me nonetheless. I laid on the cold and sterile slab. I felt like a lamb led to slaughter. I gave them permission to kill me. It was only a dotted line but it seemed as if I had signed my life away. Once the drugs were administered, at the beginning of my fade, I went to God in my head. Just for a brief moment, I assumed I would now meet my fate. I thought of Joan Rivers and how she also laid herself down to die. I then recognised my lack of trepidation. I wasn't afraid of it. I was ready, I was sure. The effect did not creep. In that one moment I was able to face my maker, then I dropped off the face of the world and jumped into the darkest place. There was no dreaming. There was nothing but black and calm and peace. If this was all death would bring me then I really had nothing to fear.
            It felt over in a second but the shadow seemed to linger forever. In my childish dread, I felt surrender. Actually, I didn't feel much at all. I slipped into the black believing I would never come back. Somehow, I was okay with that. This microcosm of what it feels like to end sat relatively easy with me. The tunnel wasn't harsh or ridged. I melted into the void and never even stopped to say goodbye to my life. When I awoke, I felt stupid. I felt like I needed to find a new hobby. I tried to tell myself it was natural to think the way that I had. I believe that everyone must doubt before they slide into the abyss. I have seen so many people suffer on their way out the door that I was almost gleeful that I didn't have to have this experience through that filter. In the past, my Bipolar disorder insured that I knew what it was like to scream upon approach. So many times, I closed my eyes bearing much fear and even loathing towards what rested on the other side. I was, most certainly, scared of any pain, any extremes that death might bring as I passed into oblivion. I was always frightened to meet Jesus, or God, or even the devil. Years of contemplation and focus had chased all those daunting faults away. To be honest, after the silent emptiness was over, I began a new approach to my doom. The recognition that I was no longer afraid of facing God makes it easier to survive Him while in this mortal coil. Perhaps, just perhaps, there was nothing to survive after all. If we all end in this vacuum then bring on the worst.
            We spend our lives waiting for monumental changes to occur. We think we see them coming. It can feel a little odd when true change comes in small doses. Some experiences are silent filler. It appears that the tiniest amount of shift can have a greater and much more lasting consequence than some of the most monolithic events from a lifetime. Not every lesson comes like a big bang. There are often whispers rather than ruckus. Pinpricks collect into bruising. What appears to be an insignificant moment in time can change a person forever. More often than not it is meant to. Unfortunately, just because someone is presented with a lesson doesn't mean they will absorb it, let alone pay attention to it. People don't change their stripes, they have to be forced to. It matters little the catalyst. Fear, trepidation, that sense of nothing approaching very fast, they are all illusions. Perhaps our Near Death experiences are just that. It must be probable, a possibility on some level, that the other side is not full of light or Glory. Perhaps the other side is nothing but black, nothing but constant floating on a sea of nothing at all. Could it be that I was wrong all along? Is it possible that heaven is permanent bliss inside that ether? Is the blackness home?

"I'm not scared of dying
 And I, don't really care
 If it's peace you find in dying
 Well then, let the time be near
 If it's peace you find in dying
 Well then dying time is near
 Just bundle up my coffin
 'Cause it's cold way down there
 I hear that it's
 Cold way down there,
Crazy cold, way down there"
(And When I Die, Blood Sweat and Tears 1969)

            I have danced with the idea that there is no God for decades. The truth be told, everything I studied, everything I came to understand, always pointed in two directions. On the one hand, the light I pursued was a pleasant place to stay. Everything would be okay if you go towards the light. God awaits therein, such peace and calm we will only know when we are taken into His Presence. Heaven has no dimmer switches. Then you come to it. The fork in the road goes from sunshine to shadow. In the other direction lies nothing at all. So, if all there really is, is nothing, then there is nothing to fear. Arguably, all this bleakness and ebony and empty is unto itself something. Again, nothing in itself is something. Constructs from ancient manuscripts would have one believing that God dwells in everything. So if God is everywhere, in everything, then the darkness holds Him too. If when we die there is the true end, then at least there is comfort in the black. Perhaps the scriptures are correct. Perhaps there is peace for all, we shall rest in peace. There is a chance, albeit a large one, that the other side to our living is not living. I still believe in a personal God but I have to say it's getting harder to keep believing as my life goes along. I'm starting to think that God may well be forever in darkness, serenity in the nothing that is nothing. Bliss from leaving it all behind.




            A few months after the suicide of my first partner, I was hopelessly lost in the scope of it all. I had committed myself to my contrition, riddled myself with guilt and a sense of penance in spite of it all. The light I encountered during a recent Near Death experience convinced me that there was more to the pain, more to the world in which I lived. I went from beggar to borrower. I began to search everywhere for hints of the light. I went on a quest to study, to understand, I believed the only way I could survive God was to comprehend Him. At first, this trip was exclusively Christian in its nature. Given time, my journey took me to other Gods and other spiritual disciplines. As much as I would have hated to admit it at the time, all the words did little to quell my questions. In fact, things just got worse. I started to realize just how much human nature one could find in the Holy nature. Anthropomorphism became my catch word. It seemed not that God had created man in His own image (Genesis 1:27), rather that somewhere in our history we had created all gods in our own image. Personification personified. I couldn't handle this revelation at the time so I switched from academic study to inspirational analysis. I needed some sugar in with all the sour. I remained riddled with bleakness, walking the line between my own doom and the punishments that lie waiting for me. Oh how I dreaded more. The light came when I least expected it.
            Sitting on a railroad tie atop the hill on my parents' property, I had placed myself in a meditative state. I sat facing the fullness of a hot July afternoon. At first, I thought it was the sun. My epidermis soaked in the summertime. It spread quickly and I was suddenly overcome. My contemplation flipped a switch somewhere deep inside me. Even during my NDE I had not felt such a calmness, such soothing energy. Every question was therein answered. Every doubt, every fear washed away in steady stream. It was the presence of something far beyond what I had encountered before. The light in the tunnel had come out of the darkness but this light forced the darkness to disappear. I sat frozen in spirit. This was not imagination, something had entered me, filled me, touched me and I knew not what it was. The Christian may summon a Holy Ghost. The Buddhist may achieve nirvana. This essence was not grounded in earthly ways. It was all encompassing and I eventually found myself floating on the universe. I left like molasses draining through a sieve. I was possessed. Although I have encountered brief moments with this captor in the years that have passed me by, I have not come close to the experience I had that day. There is a part of me that yearns to reunite with such magnificence. For me,  unfortunately, that time and that person are lost now to abandon and survival. I am cold to those things which I cannot hope to understand. My heart is not hardened but my mind has become a safety wall, protection from life as a wrecking ball. 

"Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness."
(Archbishop Desmond Tutu - retired, South African activist)

            I find it rather interesting that I spent my entire adult life running scared. I was so afraid of getting to the other side that I lost touch with what was on the other side. Whether it was a natural repulsion to pain upon approach or the condemnation I feared upon landing, I tried not to fly at all. It is strange that after all the years I spent trying to survive God that I somehow discarded Him along the way. Nor have I missed the irony. It says a lot about religion when eternal darkness holds more comfort in death than facing the God who professes to be the light. Although I cannot deny that I still believe on some level, I am convinced that quite often it is better to believe in nothing than it is to give credence to the institution of religion. Its subjective expression through scripture and Holy books is more a justification of the character found in the explanation than an expression of how things really are.
            Yes, there is light if you wish to seek it. You can find it on a hilltop if you look hard enough. Yes, there is darkness. You can swim in it if you close your eyes. Either one is only the grasping at straws. We can't really know anything until it's over for us. The only conclusion I can come to is that one experiences the unknown based on the circumstances one exists within. In the light of an NDE, we find the archetype we have been raised to look for. In the darkness, there lies the peace we have been taught to fear. These figments, these conditioned hopes, are nothing but an artificial pathway to a place of which we know nothing. There is surrender in the reality that we know nothing at all. I now cling to the idea that, in the end, I will survive God because the very same God I was trying to endure never existed in the first place.   





The Monster in the River

The village priest was distracted at his prayer by the children. To get rid of them he said, “Hurry to the river and you will see a monster breathing fire through his nostrils.” Soon the whole village had heard of this monstrous apparition and was rushing to the river. The priest too joined the crowd. As he panted his way through four solid miles, he kept saying to himself, “It is true I invented the story. But you never can tell.”

A good way to believe in the gods we have created
is to convince others of their existence.
(The Song of the Bird, Anthony De Mello 1982)













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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

I, Robot




"Falling in over my head
Caught out, out of my depth
Trying to find my way, I am lost
So I'm running around in circles through it all"

            I grew up believing that God would fix the chaos of your life if you surrendered to the dogma and doctrines demanded by the Holy Scriptures. Although I was raised Christian, the same idea easily could have come from any other religious school of thought. Of course if God hands out favour for good behaviour, then He must cast down punishment and consequence for our sins. If we are shaped and moved by the Holy Spirit, then it exists within us. Our Pentecost should be like the Pentecost.  If God refuses to incubate therein, we are abandoned. Lucky for us, we are constantly given the opportunity to submit and tow the line. We may be rewarded. When our vessel is corrupt, we cannot find His Grace indwelling. It doesn't matter the circumstance. Whether you're "normal", crazy or imbalanced, or even lost to the world, you had the opportunity to make things right before finding yourself separated from God. You have no one to blame but yourself. The only way to make it right with God, is to accede. To paraphrase what a supervillain once said to Superman, "Kneel before God." 
            How do you fight an idea? With another idea, of course. It's really just a practical solution. It's very important nonetheless. In order to survive god, you have to abandon your pre-conceived notions of the Holy, then set to purge your conditioning. Every bit of information you attempt to remove from your psyche, every change leaves a hole, a breach on the path you are trying to follow. It can seem there is more damage than road. Only an idiot fails to recognize the shallow from the deep and you can't just leave a sinkhole in the middle of a busy street. Something is bound to fall into it. It's the filler that matters the most. It is what you choose to use to erase the space that will determine any future bump in the road. Allowing yourself to think outside the box, exchanging one concept for another, is the most healthy thing I have ever done. It was more important for me to do than quitting smoking or taking my medication. Instead of being in terms of the status quo, I gave up one god for another. I had no real choice. The only real way to rid yourself of the repairs in your road is to repave the entire thing. It's the only effective way to get rid of the holes. Consciously choosing to evolve, switching ideologies for something better, is a mandatory step on the path to surviving god.
            It never really mattered what I did, I cast upon myself the Wrath of God. We all do it. We have been so trained, so brainwashed into thinking God behaves like a human being that guilt, and often contrition, are automatic. We are less because we are not perfect. The rub is one can never be. It is impossible to live up to the expectations of the gods we bow and pray to. Just the fact that we are mortal defines us as fallible, weak and oh so very flawed. No one can escape the reality of mortality. We always have a destination. The mistakes and errors we have manifested along that journey are the very foundation of the person we have come to be. Without the fall, there could be no rising. Without the sin, there could be no forgiveness. Life is more often than not pure chaos but you don't need chaos to struggle. Just existing can be more than enough to cause God's judgment to permeate your life. It doesn't even have to be a choice. If God punishes then all the negative, all the hardship must filter through it. God punishes us because we deserve it. You get what you pay for.

"Close, close my eyes
Sleep, sleep tonight
Adrift upon your ocean, I can hide
No more running around in circles for a while"

            My early twenties were, from what I recall, a time of great fun and frolic for me. I was excessive in my play. When they told me I was Bi-Polar, it had little effect. I carried on, flushing what they told me to take. I was indifferent to my diagnosis and eventually managed to create a living hell for myself. I did exactly what any untreated manic depressive would. I self destructed. My first partner was my saving grace. I didn't change my approach to treatment but somehow our great love grounded me enough to make some semblance of a life. His death should have been the end of me. I most certainly acted like it was.  As the years passed, I discovered a new life, a new partner and a new way of thinking. In spite of this fortune, things got to a point where I could no longer handle the impulses, the rapid cycling or the lack of self-control. I knew that the only way to be free was to succumb to my reality. When my second partner asked me to try medication, I reluctantly agreed. I put on my hope, well knowing that it's hard to repair something that needs to be fixed until you admit it's broken. 
            I have to admit that determining what medication works on me took years and much struggle. I was surprised when something finally started to work. The first day the light bulb came on. I was washed over with normality. For years I passed through life with chaos and upheaval. Soon, that would all be gone. The medication I take works for the most part. It has given me a new lease on life that I have tried to fulfill for the decade or so that has come and gone. For awhile I felt like a machine of sorts. I often would look in the mirror and name myself. I started to feel like a robot. The same process of each and every day became like a drone. I had to balance, stabilize my life so that the medication could do what it was supposed to do. I had to focus on moderation and maintaining equilibrium. Silence became my friend. Every day struck out with symmetry, each day the same, over and over. Creating a lifestyle of isotropy was the only effective means to not reaching my end. A world of panic and anxiety quickly disappeared and I was left with a calmness, a sense of peace and order. I had to create it for myself. I had to take every pill, every day until forever, at least, if I wanted some semblance of the normality that everyone else seemed to have. For almost a decade I left the impulses behind me. I was a good boy. I never missed a dose and I rarely wondered what I was doing. I became that robot, without fluctuation, without feeling much at all. For the better part of ten years  I have known this path. I have walked it for the quiet, for the oneness it had me believing I had gained. Life always gets in the way of our best laid plans.

"Will you catch me when I fall?
Will you save me from it all?
Will you lay me down in golden like a doll?
And be my sunshine through the night
Be my hope when all is gone
Be my soldier while I try to fight on
Will you keep on loving me through it all?
Will you be there to catch me when I fall?"

            Moving into a new home destabilized me. The world around me shifted in less than a day. The rental truck was returned to its place but I was not. It felt like the rug had been pulled out from beneath me. I knew the day was coming. I had prepared myself, resolved myself that it was no big deal. I almost immediately took to creating a routine.  Having the same schedule, doing the same things every day in the same manner can help balance you out. It was somewhat challenging making a fit. I have to admit that the entire event sent me reeling. It wasn't just my relocation that put me off keel. Long periods of stress brought on by outside factors slowly crept into my psyche. The longer my exposure, the more cracks started to appear in my facade. Little by little, fracture by fracture, larger fissures formed. It was building up within me and I didn't even know it. Secretly, over a 6 month period, the robot started to malfunction.
            On occasion, I would short change the medication I took for manic depression. The night before an event, or something significant to do, I would lower the dosage by more than half.  I found it challenging to wake up drugged in the early morning and function, let alone drive and interact with people. Every once in a while, I simply skipped the full on treatment. I never really noticed any effect other than alertness. I had no idea how dangerous my actions were. Despite the move to Paris, Ontario, the constant chaos that life brings and severe anxiety from my personal relationships, I recognized nothing out of place. There were no warning signs of the coming doom. The crescendo built, the wave strengthened, and I was left waiting for the ball to drop. I didn't even see that there was a problem. With my family coming the following day to work the landscape of our new home, I divided my meds the night before. One simple but full treatment was pushed aside, ironically, so I could be more alert, so I could be more productive. It was a very long but fruitful day. As always, it was great to see my Dad. All the work we wanted got done and the gardens took their first steps towards perfection. After the finish and after they had left, somewhere into late afternoon, I started rapid cycling. I hadn't experienced that state in over a decade. This robot had blown a circuit.

"Calling, calling your name
Save me, save me again
Adrift upon your ocean, I am blind
No more running around in circles in my mind"

            The catalyst could have been indefinite, it didn't matter really. At that moment, almost anything would have set me off. The constant stress, the instability and all those significant emotional factors pushed me right over the top. Having skipped my medication only granted the madness its freedom. The result was instantaneous. I completely lost it in the most intimate of places. The flood brought more than a rush, I was drowning. The rapid cycling started to rapid cycle. The panic, the anxiety overwhelmed me in the most complete manner possible.  I had not felt this way for years. I was possessed, controlled and there was little I could do about it. Almost instantly I began to suffer. I had a physical response. My chest tightened, then got heavier. This may have been of great concern considering my blocked arties and angina. Of course, I would have had to give a damn. My head pulsed and throbbed for weeks. I stopped taking all my medication. The chaos in my mind ruled me for days. When I started taking the pills again it lessened, but lingered like a nosy neighbour or your true regrets. As if draining through a sieve, the madness dripped onto the ground then turned to stain. It is still with me. This pain, this angst has been a part of me for so long I don't know why I was so surprised that it might return one day. Prescriptive options only control the fire but they can never, not ever really put it out.   
            God must hate me. If the events from our life go through Him and He punishes accordingly, then what does that say about those afflicted by birth and genetics? How greater are the sins of the diseased, the imbalanced and the suffering? What have we done to deserve this before we have even committed to our error? Why do I have to strain by the sins of my father? I must have had a wicked childhood. My foetus must have done some damage. Boo hoo, poor thing. You do the crime, then you do the time. It really doesn't matter anymore. I can never find absolution from a god that struck me down before I could walk.  If He is just and merciful and loving, then I must be the problem. I get what I have coming. I get what I paid for. I've learned to recognize that I am little more than some villain waiting for future consequence.

"Will you catch me when I fall?
Will you save me from it all?
Will you lay me down in golden like a doll?
And be my sunshine through the night
Be my hope when all is gone
Be my soldier while I try to fight on
Will you keep on loving me through it all?
Will you be there to catch me when I fall?"
(Catch Me When I Fall, The Corrs 2015)

            I am quiet again. All is fixed and polished and shiny and new. I should check if my warranties cover repairs. Every pill keeps popping, every schedule returned to function. There is silence and balance and stability in my head and somehow, just for moments, it is around me. An oil treatment, new sparkplugs and a good cleaning have given my parts life again. I have returned to moderation. So I sit waiting for the beast to return. I know now that I will never have a moment's peace. Most certainly the forces that influenced its resurgence still exist and then some. So I stand facing the mirror, staring at my metal face and aluminum hands. I am ticking from the outside in. At any time I expect to go boom. Input, just one more dose. Shut up and mind your place. Just follow, you little robot. Get in line for updates to your programming. Smile and bear it. It really doesn't matter, God still hates you.





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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Emancipation 101


"We are stardust
We are golden
We are billion year old carbon
And we've got to get ourselves back to the garden"
(Woodstock, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young 1970)




            Life is hard. It is supposed to be. Without the trials and tribulations that each of us must endure, we would be stagnant. We would be captive to the same moment, the same day, the very same year as every other year. There would be no growth, no evolving. We would become benign and not in a good way. Any movement forward would be for naught. Instead of growing like flowers come spring, we would be quite wilted, limited and undeveloped. If things were easy for us, there would be little to strive for. Without the hurdles, there would be no contest. If you take everything else that life brings with it and hide for a day or two, the pain would still remain. There is little we can do about it. We must grin and bear it but only until we can't anymore. Life is hard. Living it is harder.
            No one ever gets their Disney movie. There are no happy endings (so to speak). There are no princesses to rescue and no prince to ride away with. Fairy tales never come true and chipmunks just can't talk. There are rarely fireworks at the end of each day and wishing upon a star won't make anything come true. We don't get the cartoon even with all the back story. Life just doesn't work that way. It can be bitter, hard and crushing in the most severe manner. It's not even gentle when we are sleeping. The best we can do is continue to move forward regardless of all the chaos. We can hope for our animated version but it never comes no matter how long we wait. Life is not a Disney movie and the rating has never, not ever, been G.
            You have to adapt if you're going to survive. Change is a necessary evil even when it's not. It pushes us down the road. Survival requires that you just keep going. It may hurt but you can't just lay down and die. It goes without saying. The one prerequisite, the only thing that your survival demands is that you continue moving forward. Life requires that we be men in motion. With motion comes change. It is not so much the catalyst that drives us but our reaction to it. We can curse it and try to toss it away. What futility. We can embrace it, allow it to shape us, and carry on our way. The only realistic way to adapt to change is to accommodate. Make room for different thinking. Expand your mind and your spirit. You must change to survive, so why not strive for better things? We get what we pay for. It is our karma, as we reap what we sow. You have the choice. You can be burdened and trapped in your chaos or you can grow, evolve. Along the way you might even figure out a way of surviving god.

"You are loved, you are golden
And the circle won't be broken
When you sail into the shadow of the storm
Every son, every daughter
When you're out on troubled water
Just hold on
Just hold on"
(Golden, Amy Grant 2013)

            I don't think anyone who knows me now would recognize the man I used to be then. He is long dead and gone. He no longer is. No pause. He was not a friendly face. He was often not worth knowing. He was corrupt and broken, his bitter ways met only by his tainted actions. He was up and down and all over the place. There were many reasons I once knew this state. Not that it was all there was to me, but any honourable traits were lost beneath my sea of turmoil. The path I travelled back then was a rough road and a burden to follow. The change was instantaneous. I didn't have to think about it and I did not have to ponder. It was a complete shift and it cut me to the core. In a moment, I lost almost everything. It was taken from me. The rush was silent but it consumed me. There I stood, at 29 years of age, trembling over his body. A night at the bottom of his doom ensured he was freshly frozen. The damage from the fall iced up to the sides of him. The bloody aura around his head looked more like pizza than remnants of blood and his brain. The shock must have hit me but I remember it all. My world had completely changed in a fraction of time, a mere moment. I had as well, even if I didn't want it to be true. I would never be the same again.
            In the 1994 film The Shawshank Redemption, the narrator sums up the secret to human survival. As he rides a bus to freedom, we are instructed to "get busy living, or get busy dying." I have never met words more true and profound. They have never left me since the first time I saw this movie. I took them to heart. We really have no other choice, do we? Every day we must pick, we must decide to carry on or abandon all hope. Do you fight the good fight or allow the dying of your light? Each day may bring with it enough to change your mind. You have to reapply come morning. You have to get up, continue breathing and face the day. The alternative is to hide in shadow, giving up all that ever mattered to you. It's a cold road sitting, waiting for it to end. Eventually, you will get your wish. You either evolve or you perish, it's that simple.  
            The metaphor 'Surviving God' refers to the same process. You can sit in ignorance regarding the matter or you can evolve, adapting to new ideas and recognizing there is a huge difference between religious truth and religious rhetoric. To truly survive the constant influence of, in my case, the Christian God, I had to adapt and change to comprehend it on any level. It ends up that we often have to leave our traditional religious upbringing in order to survive that god's influence. Needless to say, fighting your conditioning does not stop because you've walked away. The God you have known your entire life does not always fade, even with a fresh spiritual beginning. To survive god, we must abandon god, but then we must learn how to come to terms with the remnants. We must evolve. The Abrahamic god can be one nasty muther. Whether we call it I AM, or Yahweh, or Jesus, or even Allah, there is one thing you cannot ignore. This deity did not make itself known to bring peace, but rather the sword (Matthew 10:34). People just make God up as they go along. They don't educate themselves, often until it's too late. They do not stop to recognize the character and actions of the being that they worship. In the quest for inner peace, they end up at the feet of something more murderous, more human than we ever could have imagined in our previous state of mind. When the God we worship is more enemy than friend, it's time to flee.

"In the game of life, less diversity means fewer options for change. Wild or domesticated, panda or pea, adaptation is the requirement for survival."
(Cary Fowler, American agriculturalist)

            It has been over twenty years since my resurrection. Sometimes I stop, looking in the mirror for the person that I used to be. I can never find him. I cannot be sure he is even there. I'm not convinced that this is a bad thing.  I wouldn't want to go back, even if I could. For two decades, I have waged a war on myself. I refused not to evolve. I strove for change, constantly reaching and struggling to be better and to think better. I was initially propelled by grief and guilt but I am still moving in the same forward motion, without all the drama. I am still growing, still trying to be that better man. I had to adapt in order to survive. I still have to adjust my thinking to new ideas and new revelations. Change is a constant, even if you cannot see. Without it we would be marshmallows, unable to deal, unable to cope. A useless glob at the end of a hanger. Life is hard and it builds us to withstand. We are made strong by the scars we bear.  
            I try to have no expectations of God. No expectations, no disappointments. Where my mind was once haunted by dogma and superstition, I have found peace in the unknown. I had to discover for myself a place where, rather than surviving god, I could find Him. If I had not embraced change and allowed myself to be shaped by experience, I would never have known the things in my life that freed me. I would be trapped in the past, holding to the guilt, holding to the memory of all that entails. In my attempt to understand the Holy, I found nothing but myself. To survive god, I had to see there was nothing to survive. It took some time for that idea to evolve in my mind. There is no enemy to punish me. There is no gatekeeper to restrict my entry. To survive god, you must abandon god. As a theist, I just went and found another.

"Bad things happen. And the human brain is especially adept at making sure that we keep track of these events. This is an adaptive mechanism important for survival."
(David Perlmutter, American physician)






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