It’s 11:48 PM. I’m in a ’96 Oldsmobile, listening to rap blasting through my speakers, and I close my eyes because I want to shut everything out except the guitar solo, as I only listened to the type of rap music that would have guitar solos and lyrics filled with Bukowski references. I am completely alone. The light has turned green while my eyes were closed, yet I stare at the lights with eyes open, waiting for something to happen. No one behind me honks. I’m not sure they noticed. It’s eight miles and ten minutes later that I hit another red light. There is a woman in a green sedan stopped at the intersection, and I ease my car next to hers. I stare at her, because it’s what I do, I stare at strangers in other cars, because I’m safe in my bubble while I’m in my car and because they are safe in theirs. She too is completely alone, and I begin to wonder why. She seems old enough to be married and attractive enough to have suitors. Maybe she has, but then again maybe she hasn’t. I would say “hi” but she won’t look at me and even if she did I wouldn’t say anything but turn my head and pretend I wasn’t staring at her. The visage of a stranger alone conjures up the most powerful emotions, and I begin to feel detached, like nothing matters and we’re all cars stopped at lights, and even if we speak to each other someday the light will change and we will never see each other again, and in that moment I love her, not like a boy loves a pretty girl, or a mother loves a child, but like an auto mechanic loves a thirty year old V8 engine in perfect condition, or the way an Irish grandmother loves a stone house built on the edge of a landscape, or like a ten year old boy loves a castle that he has all to himself. Is it possible to love a stranger with such depth and they not even know it? Still she stares ahead. I love her but hate myself, loath my emotions, and still she drives on, and my heart breaks, and I am once again, completely alone.
The truth has never been uglier. Our scars. No one is normal, and the more we admit to it, the more sadistic we seem.
Our family has a torch that we like to pass around to one another. I couldn’t see it when my dad held it, and certainly not while my mother possessed it, but once I held it, and I began to see. I carried the torch when I ran away, became a fugitive, and my family knew not what happened to me. I carried that torch proudly, though that’s not the right word for it, no the opposite is more closely the truth. The words I choose matter little. The words I choose mean everything.
While I held the torch, I could see myself, which was incredible and horrifying, and it took me so long to pass it on. I didn’t want to, because once you possess it you can’t see anything past its light, that light that reflects your mistakes for the world to see. And I made the mistake of thinking I was alone. But soon the torch left my hand, and was carried by my sister. And, oh, I saw forgiveness. A forgiveness I didn’t know I possessed, expressed most sincerely by those who bore the torch before myself, a forgiveness and deep love for the one that holds it now. The one my sister passed it off to. The one that holds it now has seen it before, but never truly grasped it. This one’s identity, this one’s scars, I keep hidden, because the torch is blinding the carrier of the forgiveness that comes with this family.
It need only be embraced.
I hate this blog. I hate it, and I’m sorry for anybody that read it.
Maybe, just maybe, if I decide to be an atheist, I must have proof. Absolute proof, and right now, the evidence is circumstantial. Is God a gene? Certainly not. Is the very existence of Jesus a fable? Considering there is more written documentation-type evidence of the life of Jesus than the existence of Alexander the Great, not believing as much takes an incredible amount of faith.
And is faith good? Or maybe, why is faith good? Why do we value the idea of beliefs? And from our own point of view, no matter what we believe, it is the right belief and everyone else is wrong. Because we feel it, and if our beliefs are wrong, then our feelings aren’t real, and if what we feel isn’t real, then we aren’t real. We aren’t authentic.
Even if faith and feelings are not the same thing, it is certainly arguable that most justify faith with feelings. How do you know God exists? Because he spoke to me. How did he speak to you? I could feel him talking through others. You feel he is real. You feel spirits inside you. The Holy Spirit moving through you. This sense of elation is quantified by Dieus.
We hate having our faith questioned, just like we hate having our feelings questioned. If I feel angry, and you tell me I am not feeling angry, not for real, I don’t actually believe you. I hate it, and possibly hate you.
There seems to be a certain point in our life when we stop recycling old beliefs, and this doesn’t even have to do with religion. Not necessarily. There are many things I believed that I had to admit were untrue, things I thought I knew about religion; but I grew up.
These are, but aren’t limited to: the Bible was not originally written in English; when we die we won’t be angels; Jesus’ real name is not Jesus or Christ; the parables may not have been a re-telling of an actual event. The list goes on and on.
If I become an atheist, then all is lost. This is a point I tried to make to a certain therapist, who really didn’t see my point. He saw some intrinsic value to sucking oxygen that I just couldn’t see. Why exist if there is nothing or no one to live for?
We enjoy ourselves until we destroy ourselves, and then we find God. When we are at the end of our ropes, we cling to God. As if he can be found. Like a geo-cache.
We no longer need God for an Apocalypse.
The secular world still focuses on Jesus being the messiah for his miracles, as if it were the weight and substance of our savior, and not the words he spoke, or the person he promised he was.
And those who refuse to question their faith, whether in the existence or absence of God, follow it blindly, and often sound like fools.
No man is an island? One of those ambiguous phrases that I had never heard, up until a few years ago. Since then I started hearing it everywhere. Like “never look a gift horse in the mouth.” They’re phrases that I’m sick of; even before I had ever heard them, they had been beaten into society’s lexicon. By the time they reached my eyes and ears, the speakers and writers assumed you knew he meaning. Like a pop culture reference to the plot of Star Wars, they just assumed you had heard it before. Because everyone has seen Star Wars.
Most of the time, the context doesn’t even make sense. “Hey Jerry, did you hear it’s Max’s birthday? We’re throwing him a party.” “Oh, he doesn’t celebrate his birthdays.” “Well, never look a gift horse in the mouth.” “You know, you’re right. No man is an island.” Earlier I used the word ambiguous to mean that there is more than one way to interpret these phrases. Seriously, assume you don’t know what it means, then the differences emerge. Should I also never look a present cow up the udder? Are women islands, which is why men can’t be islands? No man is an island? Really? No man is a coffee table either, but I didn’t feel like I had to bring that up.
The worst part of that tired cliché is that the polar opposite, being “EVERY man is an island,” is equally used, dividing all of society into two types of people: there are those that believe the latter and those that believe the former (and of course those that don’t give a shit either way). Both the extremes are arguable. Nobody is truly alone, and everybody is truly alone. But why don’t we just say this; why use a five word parable that confuse people who have no concept of metaphors.
And why must we leave out moderates? What if life is really as simple as: the lonely are alone, and everybody else has people who love and support them. Some people are islands, other people are mainlands. Such is life.
No man is an island? Then why does my cell phone never ring? How can I go for days without human contact, when most people couldn’t do that if they tried? If I’m not an island, than what am I? And empty life raft? Maybe a coffee table? And if everybody is an island, why does most of society never eat alone? Not in restaurants, at least. I see people addicted to social life. I know people who can’t be alone for ten minutes without whipping out a cell phone, to send off novels worth of texts, and to update their Facebook.
Everybody is an island? How come there is marriage?
Nobody is an island? How come there is divorce?
My point: don’t be afraid of defying cliché. Think before you speak. And embrace the moderates.