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Charleston, SC, United States
"Fear is a stranger to the ways of love. Identify with fear, and you will be a stranger to yourself." -ACIM

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Sometimes being where you are...

...really fucking sucks!

Dear Reader,
I don't know who the hell reads this since I can only name about three of you, but the numbers say that dozens of people out there read my posts. Why? Who the fuck knows. And, after this post, that number may drop a bit. Or a lot. But you know what? I don't give a fuck! In fact, the numbers may swell. People do like watching a burning building and can't resist looking at a car wreck, so maybe you'll enjoy what's to come here on 'What's Now.'
There I said it. It's not that I don't like you guys, it's just that you may not like me a lot; and that's okay. I'm me. You take it or leave it. Accept it or reject it. I'll be fine (eventually) either way.

I say that to get to this. I fucking hate where I am right now and it's high time I make some changes around here. One, more F bombs! There's a voice in my head that says it's base and not really a great choice of writing styles. I'm choosing to tell that voice that I'm done playing by any fucking rules.

First (although this is about the third point), an update. I'm once again finding myself in an unfortunately familiar place. Another version of a long relationship has come to an end. Why? Me. There. That's it. It's me again. Fucking me. The emotionally withdrawn, defensive, stoic, role playing, role assigning, rule creating, rule following, master of his own illusion, asshole that is: Me! (This is not self-pity but calling it what it is. Don't try to sympathize with this version of me either, he's about to die a painful death).

Put yourself here: Your relationship ends... again. Your partner says they've done everything that they could do. A third party (who knows both sides of the story and can be trusted here) says that I'm not the one that got "dumped" because I am the one who ended it by withdrawing and not shifting. So, who's responsible here? Me! That's who.

Daaaaaaamn! (Insert Russian novel length diatribe on self-loathing, guilt, sorrow, and bleakness here). Fuckin'-A-Man; really? How in the hell did I allow this to happen? Again! What in the fuck??? I can type a thousand blog posts on lessons I'm learning, I can do forgiveness on whatever comes up, I can listen, I can pray, I can be patient, but for some fucking reason I can't get out of my own god damned way and be vulnerable, open and available to the people closest to me. I can't just fucking be me! I'd rather dick around and act the part than drop it all and get real. I'd rather watch all my closest relationships end... than get real. Ain't that some fucked up shit there now?!

And, you know where that has left me dear reader? Do you? It's gotten me to right the fuck right here. So wrapped up in self blame that I can't even allow myself to forgive myself for my mistakes. Mistakes! Fuck it. We all make them, we all get the chance to start over, we all get to reset and retry. So there's your optimism. I get to retry and get to restart! (fade).
Shit. I didn't want to be back here though! I certainly didn't intend to "let down" those that I had hoped to grow closer and grow older and take this journey with. But now those doors are closed and I'm left with finding an exit out of this shitty mental and emotional state that I find myself...again! (Have I mentioned that this has happened before? No need to beat myself up over it right? We get the lesson till we learn the lessons).

My lessons for the day could not have come at a better time: "I am determined to see things differently. I can escape from this world by giving up attack thoughts. I do not perceive my own best interests. I do not know what anything is for." -ACIM WB 55.

I do not know what all of this (or anything for that matter) is for. Amen to that. I don't know why I'm in this place in life, I have no idea where it's going, and I have no idea how I'm going to get there. However, I am determined to see things differently, and I am not interested in attacking others in my thoughts or my words. I am willing to see things differently, and I am not perceiving my own bests interests. How could I be? This whole time I thought I was serving my own interests and look where it's gotten me. Once again, by myself and emotionally torn up and in tears.

Dear reader, if you've made it this far, one thanks, and two, so far I have only one solution for us. Go back to the basics. Look within, find out who you are, what you want, and go be that. Go to God and give it all over. Give over the pain, the guilt, the anger. Go back to the basics.

Kurt Cobain once said, "I'd rather be hated for who I am than loved for who I'm not." That's true. It's also true that he must have hated that shit himself since he took a shotgun to his head. I don't know what the fuck that has to do with anything, but the sentiment he was going for is what matters here. I've got to go back, not in any linear sense, but go back to the basics, I've got to figure out who I am, and I've got to start to love that person. Because I'm not about to live where I am right now in life. I'm not about to wallow in my own self loathing. I'm going back to the ground floor and I'm starting over once again.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Real Raw in Haiku

This is me right now,
Afraid, conflicted, real scared,
This is my real face.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Have You Tried Turning It Off?

And back on again?

My Internet modem fried on Thursday night. Couldn't get a replacement till Sunday morning. So, I just finished spending almost three days without it. Wow. Wonderful. Really. It was kind of cool not having Google at my fingertips to answer all those random questions that pop into my head throughout the day. P.S. Tangier is in Morocco, but not the Capital City just in case you were wondering. You probably weren't though.

But that modem was pretty much a metaphor for my life right now. It's fired. Just done with it all and needing a fresh start. So, once again, I've turned it all off and am now sitting quietly as I wait on it to reboot. My power light is still on and I'm uploading information, but I'm just sitting here waiting on life to start streaming in again. Now, I have a fresh access point, some new hardware, and while a lot of it is the same, a lot of it is different.

My lesson this morning reminded me of just that:

God goes with me wherever I go.
"[This] will eventually overcome completely the sense of loneliness and abandonment which all the separated ones experience. Depression is an inevitable consequence of separation. So are anxiety, worry, a deep sense of helplessness, misery, suffering, and intense fear. [God is with me wherever I go] has the power to end all this foolishness forever. And foolishness it is, despite the serious and tragic forms it may take. Deep within you is everything that is perfect, ready to radiate through you and out into the world." -WB 41.

Yes. That. No matter the circumstance, whether the modem is running along or being reset once again, here I am and here God is also. It's tough to admit sometimes that I may have too much spam and I may stream one too many cat videos and blow out the modem myself, but at least I've gotten past the point of blaming others or God for my connection problems.

That's right dear reader... it's not you, it's not God; it's me. I've fried out another round of life and once again need to turn it off and back on again. Thankfully I know that I'm just a power cycle away from another opportunity and another chance to create life along with my creator. I'm just me and just rebuilding after another storm and another realization that this life is just about learning, just about growing, and just about figuring it all out... by letting it all go and getting out of the way.

Some things never change? Bullshit. Given enough time, everything changes. Looking back at the last decade of my life I am in serious awe of how much has changed. From who I was, to who I know, to how I think, to how I feel; everything has changed. Looking back over the past year of my life I am in serious awe of how much has changed. Looking back at the last week... I may not be in awe, but seriously impressed by how much can shift and change... that I am. There is the one ever present constant however; God. I may not see Him with my eyes, I may not hear Him with my ears, but I feel Him here and I can see him in the wind, the trees, the table, the chair, and the modem of my life. I can reach out and know that despite the circumstances that I've created for myself in this life, I can find God wherever I go.

"It is quite possible to reach God. In fact it is quite easy, because it is the most natural thing in the world. You might even say it is the only natural thing in the world. The way will open if you believe it possible." -WB 41.

The way will open and life will go on. With or without what you call or thought was a comfort to you, with or without people or things, life will go on and God will be there. Be you! Be open! Don't say no to possibility right now. Nothing is impossible and nothing has to (or will) stay the same. Make your choices, make your mistakes, make your successes, walk your road. However, despite what you may try to tell yourself, never believe that you walk it alone.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Defense does not win championships

In sports, there is a common belief that defense wins championships. Shut down the opposing offense and you win games; win games and you win championships. Being the champion means that you're better than, the best, the champion and the best.

In life, defense is killing me. Killing me? Really? Yes. Defensiveness is killing the real me. Behind all the defense is the real me the me that desires connectivity and love. The me that I want to be. Above all else I want to see this me and I want to be this me.
Imagine a castle. Already the first image that probably popped into your mind you saw walls, towers, gates, maybe a mote. Maybe a mote with some kick ass gators in there. No? No gators? Anyway, you immediately pictured the defensive capabilities of the castle. Why? Because that's what you've learned that castles are. Places to hide and places to defend what's yours, what is most important to you. Castles hold the king, queen, some really hot princess, or maybe some treasure. You keep those in the castle because you want to protect them from attack from the outside world. Those damned Mongol hordes are out there and they want your shit!

However, our true selves are what we are hiding in the castles of our minds. We've been taught and we've learned really well that we have to protect ourselves from the outside world because if we let people in, they'll see who we really are. Think of all the ways that you've hidden yourself from not only others, but the lies you like to tell yourself.
For me, sometimes I like to use humor. Make jokes to cover up what I'm really feeling. I am funny, but sometimes that spills over and is used as a way to cover up real emotions or prevent me from having a real experience because I'm looking to make some kind of joke about it. Sometimes I'm cutting because as I've been taught in the past, the best defense is a good offense. Bring someone else down and then they aren't looking at your shortcomings right? Sometimes I like to be apathetic. 'Meh. I don't care. Who cares? It's not a big deal.' All of those and many many more tactics are used just as defense. They are my walls, towers, and gator filled motes. They are what 'defend' me from the outside world. They are what prevent me from realizing my true self.

"In my defenselessness my safety lies."
The world gives rise but to defensiveness. For threat brings anger, anger makes attack seem reasonable, honestly provoked, and righteous in the name of self-defense. Yet is defensiveness a double threat. For it attests to weakness, and sets up a system of defense that cannot work. Now are the weak still further undermined, for there is treachery without and still a greater treachery within. The mind is now confused, and knows not where to turn to find escape from its imaginings. -ACIM WB 153.

Consider any "fact" that you've known for your whole life. 1+1=2. The sky is blue. There are 24 hours in a day. The Braves are the greatest franchise in baseball history. Wait? What? Never mind. There are lessons that we've "learned" in our lives that are repeated over and over again and  become "fact." They become part of what we no longer consider to be changeable and they become part of our reality. These "facts" no longer are questionable. They just are. Well similar lessons are taught and learned about ourselves. 'Well that's just who I am. That's just how she is. Oh, you know Jim, he's...' whatever.

But what about when those "facts" are challenged? That is when our minds become confused. In the context of defensiveness, my mind becomes confused when its told that defense is no longer needed. Safety lies in the presence of love and those that are around me who would offer me nothing but that. What do you mean? Aren't all these people just trying to Trojan Horse me? I bet once they get in here they'll jump out and start attacking and plundering my castle. Well that's awfully depressing isn't it?

So when does relaxation and balance come when you're constantly defending? Where does safety come from? Safety comes from no defense at all. Safety comes from trust. Safety comes from vulnerability and openness. Safety comes from being who you really are and letting others experience that and your growth in that. Open the gates, let others help you build your castle not for defense but for a haven of growth and love. Let them see the shitty side streets and then help you clean them. Don't hide the ghetto of your mind but ask for help in the gentrification of your slummy mind. Dropping the defense and opening the gates not only allows you to let others in, it allows you to take a walk in the countryside and maybe visit other castles as well. Maybe learn of other places that have the same problems you do. Maybe just maybe you can then work together to grow and improve together.

None of this gets done if everyone is sitting in the own castles locked away in their own towers. Stuck in your own mind means you're only allowed to take your own council. And, where has that gotten us? Where has it gotten me? A year ago I was so shut down and defensive that I let a relationship grind down to an ugly halt. I got an opportunity because of that to work on it and drop some defense and grow. Proudly, I was able to accomplish a lot. However, this past week my defensiveness once again not only stepped out of the shadows, it jumped right out and said 'Hey hey here I am! Don't touch my soft shit cause fuck you! Guards! To the towers! Close the gates! Release the gators! Fuck you people!' Fortunately, I was in a room with people who don't tolerate that and were able to say, 'um, hey, what the hell man?' Fortunately, I'm at a place in my life where I'm able to sit down and forgive myself for that kind of mindset and let it go... again.

It is a journey. My defense is still here. But I'm now at a place where I can choose to put down the sword, back away from it and say, "This is not who I am."
I may have been taught defensive strategies. I may have convinced myself that I need defense. I may have learned that being vulnerable is a bad thing. I may have convinced myself that locking my true self away in the castle of my mind is how to stay safe. But now I'm at a place where I can say no to that. I can put down the sword and leave my gates open. Like any habit or addiction it will take practice, persistence, and patience. It will take forgiveness. It will take love. This is not who I am. It is not the real me. So why protect it?
My strength lies within in my true defenseless self. I can choose something different. I can share my castle. I can open my gates and I can live openly. I can chose to learn different lessons. I can choose that now...

No gators were harmed in the typing of this blog.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

If you love it let it go...

Well I've got one less hat in my closet this morning. For the first time in over 16 years I'll be without my favorite Braves hat. Bought that hat at the start of the 2000 season and wore it almost everyday over my last few years in college and then... it went with me everywhere; and I do mean everywhere. College road trips, Peace Corps services, European vacations, Russian "adventures" and the list goes on.

That hat was with me in some amazing wonderful times and it was with me during some really low times. I've woken up on floors wondering how I didn't lose the thing during the adventures the night before. It was with me when I met some really important people in my life, it was on my head when I left people in my life, it was knocked off my head in one or two confrontations in life, and it was put back on my head by some amazing friends in life. It was on my head when I built things, on my head when I tore things down...

Over the years it saw the sun, snow, rain, wind; it was even blown out of a convertible at one point and the driver forced to turn around for its recovery. It got a bath in more bodies of water than I can count and even took a shower with me one time on a dare. It had gone fishing, hunting, camping, skiing, flying, and driving. That hat has seem more life than most people ever will.

Since I got that hat the Atlanta Braves amassed a record of 1,408 wins and 1,182 losses. Not too bad. The hat went with me to see the retirement of Bobby Cox and Chipper Jones. It went with me to see so many gods of Summer hit a ton of balls over walls and so many amazing pitchers paint corners like masters. Hell it was even on my head when I hit home runs... in softball.

But, after all these adventures the old blue and white... yes that hat was originally blue; had to be laid to rest. The bill was about to fall off, it was a little stiff on top, and frankly, it had developed a bit of a smell after all these years. So, as this rebuilding Braves season begins, I decided it was time to rebuild my hat collection and let this old boy go. Only one fitting way, only one more element to complete its journey... fire.

Good bye my old friend. You were so so well loved.

Monday, March 28, 2016

What do YOU want?

Ever feel like sometimes your life comes down to a balance between what you want and what you can have? Meaning, do you ever feel like you don't have everything you want in life because, well... that's just impossible right? Pizza and dessert? What are crazy!? One or the other here fat boy.

What if it isn't like that though? What if you could have everything you wanted? Just poof and there you have it. Tricky thing is, you'd have to know what you want first. Some people say money, power, and fame! Wooo! Champagne bottles! But at the end of the day those empty bottles lead to empty lives. The fame and fortune aren't as fulfilling as they might appear to be on TV.

I think if we all truly had what we truly wanted, our lives would look very simple and somewhat "boring" to the mainstream of society. I think if we really boiled it down to brass tax (idioms come free of charge this week) we really only want Love. Now, we might get to that by needing forgiveness, understanding, empathy, intimacy, openness and honesty but all of those are paths to... Love.

Remember Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs? Here...
Back when most of us took Psychology 101 at one point in our lives we saw this table. Start at the bottom, work your way up and boom. If all your needs are met you're well on your way to being a healthy individual in mind, body, and spirit right? The only problem here is that we've learned that most of the things on this chart we can do without and still be quite healthy. In fact a few of them are impediments to that process. Take "achievement" for example. Trying to "achieve" something that falls into the "respect by others" realm of conscience could in fact be very dangerous. Because you skip the question of do you want to do this? Does respect = love? Take a look at any of those things listed above and ask does X = Love. 
Now I can ask you to skip the "physiological" section on the X = Love question (minus sex of course because if you feel no need to reproduce that moves up to "Love/Belonging" and even then it does not hold up to the "math"). But even the title of that whole section "Love/Belonging" is misleading. Friendships don't equal Love, neither do families or sexual intimacy. In fact all three of those can easily be toxic and harmful if not used as places to grow love. They can in fact keep us away from that which we want the most. 

Ever gone to a place with someone to order food and been influenced by their decision? Comes time to order and you've had your eye on that juicy burger but they order something like a salad and it makes you totally rethink your decision. Uh uh uh... club sandwich! Damn it! I didn't want that! But that's how most of us have chosen to live our lives. Other people say: Get a job, be in a family, have a family of your own, have lots of friends, buy a house, get the new i-phone, gain the respect of others, wear this, drive that, eat this way, talk this way, it's what you do. Well... what do you want to do? What do you want?

We all want Love. The love of God. Simple right? But what about all these lessons we're surrounded by day in and day out? Our jobs, our relationships, our own mental practices... what do we want from them? What do you want? is not an easy question to answer most of the time because a lot of the time we just don't know. We know what we're told we should want, we know what we don't want a lot of the time, but how many times can we truly say that we're clear on what it is that we do want? 

Take intimacy for example. (We'll start with a nice easy subject like that. Ha!) I recently had a conversation in which I discovered that I and the person I was talking to had completely different definitions of that word and perceived the act of giving and receiving intimacy completely differently. Does that mean that we will never have an intimate relationship? No. Does that mean that neither of us can ever truly fulfill our version of intimacy with one another? No. It does mean that we have an opportunity to share with one another and express what it is that we want within our relationship, if we want it to be intimate, and if we want it to be loving. This could come down to a chicken or the egg (idioms all day people) type situation. Does a loving relationship lead to an intimate one or does an intimate one lead to a loving one? Can you have one without the other? Does it matter which is first? Are they even different? I think all that matters is that both parties in a relationship say what they want! 

I want Love. I want to give love and think nothing of what if anything comes back to me. Remind yourself of that before you move on to 'what do I want in ____ scenario.' Work, family, relationships, whatever... keep the focus on 'how can I make this a more loving ____?' and you'll have what you want in the end... Love. Sounds easy enough right? It does get tricky to me though on the "form" of certain aspects of my life. What if I just don't know? What if I don't know if I want a relationship that includes cake on Fridays? (pick an arbitrary aspect to ask) Are you okay with never having children? Are you okay with not being the one who chooses your linens? But ask: how can you make cake or linens more loving? 

Until you're clear on what it is that you do want it's always okay to be patient, always okay to be open, always okay to be loving. Take time and figure out what YOU want. Because, at the end of the day you can only live your life for one person and that's you. I'm learning more and more that's it's okay to not know, it's okay to be patient, and if I'm doing things, saying things, and acting truly from a basis of love, then I have nothing to worry about. I'll figure out what I want and when I do I'll honor that. Until then... I can only look for the one thing that I do want... Love. 

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Where Does Fear Come From?

Where does your fear come from? Why are you afraid? What's the motivation?

We all live with some level of fear. Whether you call it anxiety or stress or nervousness, it's all just fear. I read an article a few months ago that claimed that fear is a natural state for humans on some level because it's what kept us alive back in the cave man days. Back when everything had bigger teeth and bigger appetites than us, fear is what kept us aware and alive. Being afraid of bumps in the night kept us from being a midnight snack and allowed us to stay alive. However, now that we're the dominant species on this planet, there aren't too many situations that we find ourselves in where that level of fear is needed... but it's still there.

These days it seems that we've just found new things to project that fear towards. Maybe public speaking is your lion, maybe walking alone at night is your tiger, maybe heights is your bear... oh my! (too easy there). Seriously though, all of us are afraid of something and maybe we're just struggling to define what that something is.

Think about all the things you're afraid of... rejection, abandonment, not being loved or valued, not being taken seriously, being alone, or how about the big one... death. We're all afraid of death. We all have a belief that we will die and that we can "lose" all of this that we've surrounded ourselves with. But where do these fears come from? And, why? Why? Why? This is a question that I've been struggling with for some time now. Why am I afraid?

I've come to learn that we are all afraid of punishment from God for all the "bad things" that we've done and all of our fears are just manifestations of that one fear. Especially death. Death (health issues, cancer, strokes, heat disease; all of them) is the one thing that our ego has convinced us has to happen. We have to die! That's it; turn off the music, shut off the lights, time to end it. You only have the few years here on Earth and then it's all over. Ashes to ashes, get your ass in the ground.

All of those fears that we carry around with us are just little fears of death. Some of us will cling so hard to life out of nothing more than fear of the "unknown" of death. It's only the belief that life continues on after physical "life" that can eliminate those fears. Only the belief in a strength of God eliminates those fears. We try to convince ourselves that our strength will save us and we insulate ourselves and hide from God in order to try and hide from those fears.

"There is nothing to fear. The presence of fear is a sure sign that you are trusting in your own strength. The awareness that there is nothing to fear shows that somewhere in your mind, though not necessarily in a place you recognize as yet, you have remembered God and let His strength take the place of your weakness. The instant you are willing to do this there is indeed nothing to fear." -ACIM WB 48.

Remembering God. Ah! That is what I've been reaching for lately dear reader. Remember that God is with me and that there is nothing to fear. Trust. Just getting back to trust and knowing that there is nothing to fear. Even if the Bengal Tiger comes through my apartment door and stalks me down and rips my limbs from my body; I have nothing to fear. I will continue on. Then, where will my fears go? They will go with everything else, my books, my computer, my couch, all will be left behind as I return to God. Death can not be feared for it is not an ending. All of those little things that we make so big in our lives can not be feared because they are not who we really are. We are love and we are here to learn just that.

Go today and know that you are loved. Go today and remember that there is nothing to fear because you are not alone. God is with you.

(Not just for Douche-bags anymore)