Thursday, December 15, 2011

Santa Claus' Gift to the World

What I've written below is actually, for the most part, taken from a scene of a film I was working on early in the season. It likely won't be finished this year, but the scene was of particular importance to me. The basic premise of the story is Santa Claus essentially passing along his duties to his son (whom has since grown and become distant with his father), who is to become the new Santa. It deals with subject matter I think we try not to associate with a character as light as Santa, however I think it's important that with a character such as him, considering all he represents, it be considered. We're beginning to live in a world where we try to keep our ideals and our rationality separate, that idealists are cute but ultimately impractical. But idealism gives way to real change, to true personal and social reform. And though a lot of people may not take a fictional character's words as truth, they are often penned by men who understand the true workings of the world, and even the Universe.

Santa Claus, for me, has become more of this character, and I'd like to share his voice with you which, as you know, is my own. But I don't speak as eloquently as Good Ol' Saint Nick, so I'll let him be the microphone.


Dear World,

Tonight is the night I load the sleigh
With toys and trinkets to deliver on Christmas day.
As you know, I employ a hard working bunch.
Elves of all shapes and sizes who've got a hunch
That what will make your Christmas bright
May not be what makes others' ignite,
But they work hard and sleep little
To ensure that it'll
Be just right for you.

Yet each year I recall a song I heard,
And as quickly as it plays it always ocurrs
To me that we've come to think
Christmas is something quite out of sync
Wth the rest of the year.
Goodness and cheer
Mustn't be annual happenstances,
Merry greetings simply chance
Meetings we hear uttered as if out of obligation.

'The Little Boy that Santa Claus Forgot'
Struck my heart in a way not
Felt in a milenia.
Pople crying out 'Ave Maria'
In hopes that Saint Nicholas soon would be there
To visit broken homes in desperate need of repair.
But there is magic even Santa cannot work,
Not that responsibility is shirked
Or that he does not care...

But Santa is sought to provide a bike,
A toy or a game or whatever you'd like
That defines your happiness.
But perhaps he seeks to bless
Your home with more than things.
Perhaps that which Santa brings
Is more than that which you can see.
That if you are willing, you can be
As rich as Kings and as happy as clams.

My greatest gift to you comes free of charge.
There isn't a box you can find large
Enough to contain it.
Its hope is to make, if even a little bit,
Your Christmas that much brighter,
Your heart that much lighter.
And it is just that, hope.
The tool in which to help us cope,
The great igniter of peace on earth.

You may be rather surprised,
That despite what you've surmised,
More often than not what is asked of me
Is not something valuable for under the tree.
Rather it is invaluable and irreplaceable,
The need for something embraceable
Of the heart.
That no family be kept apart,
But able to be together if only for a day.

'I'd like a mattress for my Mom and Dad,
I promise this year not to be bad.
But I ask because they sleep on the floor
And there is nothing I would like more
Than to know they do not have to,
That I appreciate all that they do,
And meaning more to me than any toy
Is to see my parents know your joy.
I love you Santa, Merry Christmas.'

'Santa, this year I want to survive my cancer.
To see my daughter grow to become the dancer
She alway dreamed of being.'
'Santa, instead of seeing
Green, I'd rather see food on my table,
Rather know I'm able
To provide for my family
Despite the vanity
We may be capable of.'

More often than not, you see
When a child sits upon my knee
He or she asks for something real,
Something that has no store window appeal,
But is quite plainly and simply
A wish wished freely
From the bottom of their soul,
That even coal
May really be something to cherish.

I cannot grant every single wish,
And I cannot express the anguish
I feel because there is only so much
One man can do. But if I can touch
Just one or two,
Express my love to you,
Then perhaps you can give
To others, teach them to live
The Christmas spirit through the year.

But my gift to you this Holiday season
Is no doubt the very reason
I do what I do.
And though you likely already knew,
I thought I'd remind
That Christmas is defined
Not by your believing in me,
But the other way around, you see.
And here, I pray, you find your hope.

Believe in your fellow man,
Extend your spirit, your helping hand
To plant the seed of Christmas.
Your love is the isthmus
Joining heart and action.
And even if you are a fraction,
Or find it hard to believe,
You alone can be the reprieve,
The attraction that Christmas can have.

When the morning arrives,
And the little ones wipe the slumber from their eyes,
Take a moment to recall
That I wouldn't exist at all
If not for you.
Because I believe in you, who
Believes in me,
In the you I know you can be,
In the love that lives within.

If you will, remember to pause,
To recall the merriment because
You can find Christmas anywhere
So long as there is love in the air.
For me, there are no words
To tell you all the things you deserve
To hear. So let this letter be my applause,
A reminder that, for all that I do, you are my cause.

Merry Christmas to all,
Much Love,
Santa Claus.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Thankful

So I suppose to many of you...this is coming a little late. But, it's been a long time since I've posted. I knew I'd settle back into it once the Holidays hit, and here we are.

But regardless of this coming a week after Thanksgiving, Christmas is right around the corner. And in fact, New Years comes after that, then, I'm sure if you Googled them, a list of Holidays nearly every day in some Country at least a few times a week, maybe every day even.

So the Holidays are always around us. Christmas and Thanksgiving are just lucky enough to be classified as THE Holidays. But I was strolling this evening. I don't like to drive to the grocery store since it's only like a mile away, so I just walk. On my way home I was listening to some Christmas tunes on the trusty 6 year old iPod that has yet to stop working. (Knock on wood.) I recollected a lot on something I've found myself telling several people over this past year. In a nutshell it's: Count your blessings one by one.

I think a lot of us get hit with stress and life and drama and trouble and things left and right it just seems to mount, piling up until we feel like we're just going to break down. More often than not, if I the first question I asked you when we got together for coffee ('cause that's what classy folks do on cold days) was "So, tell me what's been going wrong in your life." You could probably start to recollect and recall all the stressful stuff on your plate you've been dealing with, are currently dealing with, and will come to deal with in the near future. Thinking about the craziness now, and on top of that the craziness yet to come makes us feel like, sometimes, we can barely breathe.

But what if the first question someone asked you was, "So tell me. What's going right in your life?" Would you just answer half seriously, "Nothing, I'm stressed. I have problems." Or would you stop and actually think?

What I've witnessed from experience and observation seems to tell me that the way the brain works, the way people work, is that we unfortunately find ways to thrive on negative energy. We like to complain. We just do. And I'm sure all of us have that friend who likes to basically make it a competition with who has more problems. "You're going through this? Well you have no clue what it's really like because I'm going through this!"

I bet you didn't realize, but at one time or another (likely many times) we've all been that person. For some strange reason...we like to feel bad about things and we like to tell people about it in hopes that it will make us feel better. But it never does, and we start to feel worse because all we've done is focus on what's going wrong in our lives.

Do you ever get pissed off when people try to be positive or motivational? Yeah, you do. I do too. I even get pissed off at myself sometimes when I try to be positive toward me about the things that are making me upset. "Stop it conscience! I want to feel bad right now! Just...leave me alone."

But there's good news today. There's good news every day. And yes, this is my transitioning into being positive. If you're having one of those days like I mentioned above, and you just don't want to hear chipper people try to tell you to look on the bright side...tough. This is happening. You might not want it, but I can guarantee you need it.

Break down your life. When you stop to legitimately give thought to the things that make you happy, you'll find you can list A LOT of things. Random things too. Watch this, here's some of the things that make me happy.

  1. Green Grass
  2. Strawberries
  3. Rolly Pollies
  4. Burritos
  5. Cold Weather
  6. Coffee
  7. My wife
  8. All of my friends and family
  9. Music
  10. Snoopy
That's ten things that just popped into my head as I wrote.

I want to keep this short and sweet because you already know what I'm going to say before I say it because I'm sure you've heard it a thousand times. But maybe you just need to hear it a thousand and one times before you start believing it. We spend our lives measuring our happiness in terms of our unaccomplished things, not the other way around. We get sad when we realize all the things we haven't done. We get depressed when we think about the things that we want but cannot have. We spend our lives focusing on the big picture, on the future, on trying to achieve it all at once that we lose sight of what we have in the here and now. And what we have now is an infinite amount of things that we're taking for granted, like air and clean water, friends, food, the internet, a roof over our heads and clothes on our back.

If you stop to really think about it, there is likely no end to the things that make you happy. It doesn't matter how big or small they are, they bring you joy, and that's something to be glad about. We are all incredibly wealthy people. I can't tell you enough how important it is to remember what a blessed life it can be if we just, as cliche as it sounds, stop and smell the roses once in a while. Roses are beautiful and they smell nice and they make me happy. Why not take a little time to appreciate those things?

So if someone seems a little downtrodden, throw them for a bit of a loop. Instead of saying, "What's wrong?" ask "What's right?" Help your peers to break down their lives and build them back up as a tower of gladness, not a tower of sorrow. The towers of gladness are fortresses, built strong on bedrock. The towers of sorrow are thin, trembling, dangerous things that can come crashing down at any moment.

If the first question is "What's right?" and we go into a discussion of what brings you gladness and joy, and then I ask "What's wrong?" chances are, it will be very little. There is a finite amount of what is wrong in our lives compared to with what is right. We're just not thinking about it properly. It's not money, or cars, or houses, or electronics. It's feet and toes, fingers, and a belly button, beautiful eyes, vegetables, colors, flavors, scents. They may be small, but count your blessings one by one and soon you'll find they begin to add up.

There is so much happiness to find within each day. You've just got to remind yourself once in a while, you've got to stop and ask yourself the question, "What's right in my life?"

I bet if you do, you'll find there really is a lot to be Thankful for.


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Misinformation Superhighway

There's an odd chart that seems to be floating around the interwebs these days. It shows the percentage of National debt increases under Presidents Reagan, Bush Sr., Clinton, Bush Jr., and Obama.

Based solely on the numbers shown from this chart, it's safe to say that the Republican Presidents are the villains of the story. With absurdly high percent increases, Reagan clocks in at raising the debt by 155%, Bush Sr. by 55%, Clinton 37%, Bush Jr. 115%, and Obama 35%.

You can find that chart here, on Nancy Pelosi's Flickr page.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/speakerpelosi/5684032538/in/set-72157623367757714

To tell you the truth, I don't know which is worse. The fact that Nancy Pelosi has a Flickr account, or that this graph is essentially worthless for proving the point it seems it was meant to prove; that under Democrat Presidents the National Debt has only raised a teeny tiny amount in comparison to the heinously evil amount those dastardly vile Republican Presidents have raised it.

When I first saw it I thought, "Wow."

Then, just to be sure, I used Google to do what Google does best; Google things.

Just by punching in a few words and clicking the mouse here and there, I came up with these facts.

When Ronald Reagan was sworn in, in 1980 the National debt was $712 billion. When he left office in 1988 it was approximately $2 trillion.

When President George H.W. Bush was sworn in, in 1989 the Reagan debt remained and by the time he left office in 1993 the National debt was, and I'm rounding up here, about $4.4 trillion.

So Clinton came in, starting with $4.4 trillion in debt and at the end of his Presidency in 2001 had added about $1.5 trillion to the debt, and at the end of his Presidency and the beginning of George W. Bush's, the total debt was approximately $5.7 trillion. (Yes, Clinton did pay down some of our debt. But from the 1993 fiscal year we were at $4.4 trillion, increased to $5.7 trillion at the 2001 fiscal year mark.)

When W. left office in 2009 the debt was $10.6 trillion.

It's September of 2011 now, nearly October, and the national debt, according the live calculator, is $14.7 trillion and rising.

Under President George W. Bush's eight years in office our debt increased by $4.9 trillion. Under President Barack Obama's three years so far, the debt has increased $4.1 trillion.

I learned all of these things just by using Google, which is powered by this thing called "The internet." You may have heard of it.

Wait, but the graph says that under W. the National debt went up 115%, and under Obama it's only gone up 35%. Doesn't that mean he's spent a lot less money? 35 is so much smaller than 115. 35 pieces of pie is so many less pieces of pie than 115.

Ah, the deceiving abilities of percentages.

I'm not using these numbers as a way to hi-five one President over the other. Our Country has a spending problem, period. What I do want to do with the information, however, is inform people. See that? The INFORMation INFORMs the people. Weird how that works.


But from the looks of it, information, as Bruce Campbell might say, doesn't mean "but two things right now: Jack and shit. And Jack left town."

See, information should mean a lot. But the bigger problem today, yes, bigger even than our National debt, is this rise of the Misinformation Superhighway. A rip-roaring ride through the "interwebs", as the kids say, to places we thought we'd never go. Yes, the Misinformation Superhighway! If you're willing to believe in a place that exists only in your mind, well, the Misinformation Superhighway takes you there. You can even bring your friends!

Scrolling through the Facebook comments alone on the graph Pelosi had posted, (I originally saw it on Facebook), it was astounding how much Democrats were touting those percentages as victories. As if they meant something they didn't actually mean. It's safe to say that most people who saw that graph assumed the percent sign was actually a dollar sign, and that the increases made in the national debt were in dollars and not percents.

Well that was wrong. And everyone who assumed that was wrong.

But hey, it's the internet! The one place you don't actually have to be held accountable for what you say because, if someone calls you out, you can delete their comments, or remain silent, or delete the post altogether.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. How many issues do you think people feel they are actually informed on and, in reality, aren't even close to the truth? I'm going to say a lot.

And this graph, posted by Nancy Pelosi, former Speaker of the House, current House Minority Leader, was meant to do what? Make the people believe Obama has spent oodles and oodles less than any President so far?

He's spent $.8 trillion less in three years than Bush Jr. spent in eight. Congratulations?

Someone like Pelosi, in such a high and respectable position, should have the guts to post things like the truth. Instead, she'd rather fuel and perpetuate this discordance between parties because, why exactly?

Both parties do it. Both parties have done it since the beginning and will continue to do it until the end. This is just one example of how easily misled the public can get because they've simply taken someone at their word. Do you know how easy it is to do the research for yourself? Why it's as easy as saying to yourself what everyone seems to be saying to everyone else these days, "Just Google it."

I'm not trying to persuade you on how to place your vote, I'm just trying to encourage you to think for yourself. This debt misconception is massive. And I'm sure there are gobs of policies you could throw in my face about Democrats versus Republicans, or vice versa. But that isn't the point. The point is, we all have brains. I think it's high time we actually started using them.

If I wanted to get to Mexico and I asked someone for directions and they told me to get on the I-5 North, to take it all the way up past Washington and boom, I'd be in Mexico, and I followed these directions, would I get to Mexico? Nay. I'd be in Canada. If I'd wanted to party it up with the gang from Degrassi I'd have asked how to get to Canada. But I wanted to go to Mexico.

Now I know what you're thinking. "That is an absurd example."

But do you know what I'm thinking?

"No it's not."

Whoever that Jack was who sent me the wrong way told me to hop on the wrong highway, and I listened to him. I didn't go to Map Quest to confirm the directions, or Google Maps, I just trusted him because he seemed like an honest guy with a wife and kids and two dogs and a pretty house with a nice smelling rosebush out front.

But I should have thanked him, then did the research on my own just to be sure I wasn't being led in the wrong direction. Ultimately, my being misled was no one's fault but my own.

Stop taking people, especially Politicians, at their word for everything. And when you listen to someone without doing any thinking for yourself, stop blaming everyone else when you discover you've been misled. It's time to accept some responsibility, not in that you were tricked, but that you allowed yourself to be tricked.

I like to believe people are good. But some of them aren't always too interested in being good and are more interested in getting ahead or servicing themselves. Be aware and careful of these people. You don't want to end up lost, miles and miles from your goal, stuck in traffic on the Misinformation Superhighway thinking, "Where am I and how do I get back?"

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Step One: Repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell

Today marks an historic event in our Nation's history. (Bet you've never heard that before.)

Don't Ask, Don't Tell has been officially repealed. For many it's a time that marks our drawing ever closer to true equality, and for several others it marks the end of our Country as we know it.

The latter are usually easy to spot by their constantly referring to anyone in the LGBT community as "The Gays".

Though it's a big step, in the grand scheme of things it's still only step one. There is still much to do to help bring us closer and closer to Universal tolerance.

The biggest concern I've heard from people inside and out of the Military is that having homosexuals serving threatens the comfort of straight men and women. Never think I'm ragging on our Military, I have the utmost respect for those who serve and believe you should too. They've got the guts to do something the majority of us are too scared to even think about. But the issue is that many think by having homosexuals in the Military means they're going to actively try to make others gay, or partake in copious amounts of sexual harassment.

It's simply not true.

Too many people in the world have this view of gay people as if they're this devious group of sneaky little demons who are seeking to turn the rest of the world gay, and that apparently if you're gay you're an enormous horn dog who will pounce on anything as if you had no standards whatsoever.

Come on. They're not animals for God's sake. Despite someone's sexual preference, science still remains. Straight people are horny too you know. And too many people think that simply because this has been repealed that everyone who is gay in the Military is going to throw their hat off and shout it from a mountain top. You realize it's not easy being different right? That people get beaten to death for being gay? And you think all of a sudden their going to be skipping around, weilding a gun saying "Here I am!"? The sad part is, many of those who are gay and in the Military who are also in the closet will be staying there because they don't want the torment they know will come from people who are intolerant to them.

More so than we needed to repeal DADT, we need to end this mindset. This is still an ongoing battle. Just because someone is gay doesn't make them less human. Their blood runs red just as ours does. And I find it hard to believe that a man or woman would plunge themselves into a hateful world making a conscious decision to live a life that means they'll be shown a tremendous amount of discrimination and incivility. Who in their right mind would choose this?

Someone who wishes to serve their Country should never be turned away, especially in times such as these. And just because you have to shower together doesn't mean they're going to be standing creepily in the corner leering at you. Get over yourself. You think because you have to share a bunk means they're going to try and slip in there next to you, or keep you up at night chit-chatting about boys?

I think the hardest thing for people to do will be to block out the caricatures the rest of the world has created for us about gay people. Like all of them are trying to re-design our family rooms and get us to wear color palettes we never imagined we'd wear.

Stop it. Just stop it.

When someone stereotypes you, it bothers you right? Well there you go.

You know, a person who shows prejudice is showing a little of what's going on inside of them. Surely a person who is right with themself has no need to project onto others some feelings of insecurity. (See yesterdays post about getting a spine.)

Repealing DADT is important not only because it allows someone to serve their Country regardless of sexual orientation, but because it sets a standard for our Country that we're not willing to accept segregation anymore. We're looking to the future, to promote equality and civil rights.

I honestly cannot see any valid argument as to why we shouldn't allow a gay person to serve their Country. If you see a problem with it, I'd love to hear it.

Being gay is not a choice, but being hateful is. What kind of person do you want others to see when they look at you? When your time has come to pass, do you want them to speak in your favor, or say you "loved" people but did so conditionally?

If you're going to say you want peace then you'd better be prepared to accept the fact that peace means acknowledging others for being different than you. DADT is step one. Love does not work on your terms. You don't get to say you love only some people, that's called hypocrisy. Love simply is. It is a Universal constant which means you show goodness and kindness to not just the select few, but to everyone. If you find conflict with this, then you don't really know what love is.

Don't Ask, Don't Tell is dealing with an issue far beyond only the Military. It's dealing with an entire group of people that have been around since the beginning of time. Believe me, gay people aren't just popping up from nowhere. A lot of folks think that "back in the good ol' days" there were only a few gay people and today there is this evil looming over people, one by one making them gay.

Wrong. Gay people have always been there, we just didn't know it because if we did people would never have let them leave their homes.

Focus on what it takes to promote equality. It isn't conditional love, I'll tell you that much. It's unconditional. We must be unconditional people to find how harmful conditions can be.

A lot of people say God speaks to them and tells them to do things. When we listen to them, more often than not we think, "This person is crazy." What if I told you he speaks to me too? He tells me that we must love one another as we have been loved. Plain and simple.

If that makes me crazy then so be it. But I'd rather be crazy and tolerant than sane and bigoted.

Repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell is step one. You know what step two is. Lay down the dogma of your life and get out there and do it. Practice what you preach. If you preach peace, then do it. If you preach love, do it. If you want equality, show it.

No excuses.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Where Are Our Spines?

Yesterday I pulled a Sound Byte for the show from "Real Time with Bill Maher". It was said by, you guessed it, Comedian Bill Maher. Here it is:

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2011/09/17/maher_christians_are_people_who_hate_charity_and_love_killing.html

It's 1:41 in length. Just watch the whole thing.

So the key moment obviously is Maher's calling Christians people who "hate charity and love killing." And a "faith based lynch mob."

I'm a Christian. I certainly don't hate charity, absolutely don't love killing, and feel that calling the entire religion a "faith based lynch mob" is a bit of a dirty generalization. I know a lot of Christians who aren't the tpes of Christian people like Maher think they are.

But here's my actual point.

Who cares?

I can think of a lot of Christians who would be offended by this, sure, but Bill's a comedian. He's telling a joke. I'm not personally a huge fan of the guy but I respect his line of work because I also consider it my own. It's comedy.

The issue with the Nation in recent times hasn't become an increase in our spewing of hate speech, that's been around since the beginning of time, we've just got a delightfully modern media network to remind us of its presence on a 24/7 basis. The real problem has quickly become an increase in our inability to have a little self confidence, to be self assured. We're losing our spines. So many are too antsy to jump the gun and pounce on any form of speech that seeks to get a rise out of us and make some big media firestorm out of it.

I'm not saying we should let everything slide, but you know what, people are people. They say hateful things sometimes, in fact, comedians even say mean things in a joking way to get laughs and, you guessed it, ratings and publicity. But instead of focusing on being offended and traveling further down the trail of being sue happy and overly sensitive, why aren't we focusing on what really counts; how to be happy.

You know the ye olde saying, turn the other cheek, etc. etc. That's hard to do, trust me, I know, I get it. But how often do you lay your head down on the pillow at night and lose sleep over something someone said to you, about you, or about a community you belong to? I mean you seriously stayed awake because you couldn't let it go. On the flip side, how often does someone say something mean or hateful and you hit the hay resting easy because you know, in your heart of hearts; how much damage can jerkoffs like this ACTUALLY do to your spirit?

None.

We need to stop focusing our energies on counter attacks and focus it inward, on strengthening our spines and standing up. Someone with a weak spine walks around hunched over, someone with a strong one walks around upright and tall.

Remember when our parents told us to ignore the bullies and they'd go away? Or the phrase "sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me"? I get that these are a little cliché, but a cliché is what it is because there's truth to it. It wouldn't last as long as it does unless it made some sense right?

If someone shows you intolerance and you show it back, what does that bespeak of you to the rest of the world? They'll see you as intolerant. Some might think it's just, but those that do will suffer from a warped sense of justice defined by you and your actions or people like you. Sure you're getting revenge on the person who offended you, but what are you doing truly? If your desire is to promote peace and awareness, do you think you'll do so effectively by taking an eye for an eye?

If someone shows you inolerance and in return you show tolerance, now that takes guts. Taking them to court is a waste of time and money.  All because they hurt your feelings? I don't mean to make excuses for people who say horrible things, but why are you giving them what they want? Their fires are fueled by our giving them the reactions they want. Once we've done that they've won. It's as simple as that.

But what does it take to make you sure about yourself? Yes, it is difficult to turn the other cheek, but imagine what you'll do if you address the issue in a public way without practicing hate speech yourself.

To be perfectly honest, I would say that it's becoming harder and harder to call myself a Christian. There's this weird hate going on out there in our politically correct society that demands we respect the minority and show some odd sense of contempt for the majority. If someone is a Buddhist, a Taoist, a Muslim, Jewish, Athiest, Agnostic, etc. then we'd better hold our tongues. It's hate speech if we make jokes on their behalf (unless of course we belong to them), but it's A-Okay if we jokingly ridicule the masses because screw-em', they're all hateful, bigoted, lynch mobs who vote Republican and love money.

Come on. We're not all the same. You should know that better than anyone. We're all our own individuals and differ from everyone else on many levels. But rather than moan and complain that we should be allowed to make fun of those in minorities, why don't we just seek to stop it altogether? Because the fact of the matter is, at our core, we're all human being. There is no minority, there is no race, there is only the human race and that includes all of us. And the best place to start spreading peace is within yourself. For what shines bright within you will surely shine bright without you.

Why is it okay to stick up for certain groups and popular to shun others? And why is society allowing this? People are going to be Democrat and people are going to be Republican. People are going to be Religious and people are going to be Athiest. So some people are going to have differing opinions, that's life, suck it up and deal with it. Stop taking things personally. No one's looking through the lens of the camera and calling you out. They may be calling you to a challenge, but the real challenge is addressing the issue while simultaneously showing love for that person. Talk about how to blow some minds.

Nothing feels better than when someone attacks your beliefs or way of life and you walk away unscathed because there is no doubt in your mind about who you are. If you feel threatened, legitimately, then it may be time to reassess. Only the threatened respond with threats. Believe me, people do take notice of those who are right with themselves. That MUST be step one. If you spend all your time trying to solve the woes of the world and take not a minute to solve the woes of yourself, you'll never reach your goal. There will always be problems in the world, but there doesn't always have to be problems within you. You'll be of much better use to the world if you know who you are, what you stand for, and how to successfully go about doing it.

Don't be silent to injustice, to the ailments of your life, but understand that the best way to combat these is with a little self confidence. Sticks and stones may break your bones but a strong spine makes you stand tall and is good for your brain and thus, your life. (Or something smart and witty like that.)

If we complain all the time, we'll never learn anything and we force others to comply with our, sometimes, ridiculous demands. Look life's hard, we all know, and people can be nasty, but some days you've just got to bite the bullet, take one for the team, and suck it up. There's a time for sensitivity and there's a time for strength. I'm telling you that both are important but one is used as a crutch more than the other. Take a wild guess as to which.

And boom goes the 21st Century.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Cracked Up

 Cracked Up

Sanity,
You See,
Is not quite all
It's cracked up to be.


Brilliance will flow
From this cup,
You know.
The chalice of being...

Cracked up.


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Do Not Open Until 9/11/11

I found a letter buried deep in my heart. Written on its envelope were the words, "Do not open until 9/11/11." This morning I opened it. This is what it said.

"My Children,

I watched it happen, ten years ago today. Just as I've watched many things happen throughout time.
Many a finger have pointed to me. I should have stopped this. If I am who I am, if I Love as I claim to Love, why then did I sit idly back and let this nightmare play out?

Many years ago, I made a decision. And this decision, it seems, is something to be seen as for better or for worse. I decided...to let you decide. If I wanted what I wanted, then I could never force any action on anyone. I wanted you to decide for yourself how you felt, how to act, who to be, what to do, and ultimately how you were going to live your life. Finding happiness is up to you.

But I'm still here. Don't think I never act. Though remember that your actions have consequences. If you decide to hurt someone, don't hold me responsible. I'll take the blame because it helps others cope, but I do not force you to do the things you do. I do not work for evil.

Ten years ago, when the towers fell, don't you know what happened to me? Don't you see I also lost my children? They were mine too. I loved them more than anyone could ever know. And don't you think it broke my heart to watch it happen? You don't think I weep, but surely I can, and I promise, I do.

And those who committed this...they were also my children. And I watched for years as they went about all these things, as they twisted my nature in their minds, as the adults around them polluted their hearts with misunderstanding, hate, and rage. And it wasn't that there was nothing I could do about it, but that when I decided to let you decide, I had to accept that some would choose good and others evil.

I pound my fists against the wall when these things happen. For thousands upon thousands of years I've watched my children slaughter one another for all the wrong reasons. More often than not I am that reason. What they think I want could never be further from the truth. You think I want bloodshed, violence, and pain? How could I ever want those things? I want you to be happy. You're my kids. My flesh and blood. My everything, and I love you so much.

But unfortunately, as for free will, it becomes all or nothing. Either I give it to you, or I don't. There is no in between. And so I made it yours. I accepted that some would abuse this gift. And as you know, many have.

But I love you. I love them even, those who do evil, as much as you'd probably like me never to say those words, I do. I do not love who they became, but I loved who they could have become.

I want peace. I want love. I want understanding. But if I forced it on the world then there would be no value to your life. You would have no purpose. You would be a robot. And I don't like robots. When you tell a robot you love it and it tells you back, you know that it doesn't really share the sentiment, it is only programmed to do so.

You are not programmed. As much as I want those to say they love me, I am prepared to hear the cries of those who hate me. I am good. I promise. I am kind, I am peaceful, and I am loving. But I am torn. Robots mean peace. Sure that is the goal...peace, but a controlled outcome is worthless. There is nothing to be gained from existence if it simply is.

Those who were taken from you ten years ago are with me now. That too I promise. Break away from this idea that if they belong to this church or that church or did not belong to any church, then I would be so terribly selective in who I take with me.

I have taken them all. If there is one decision I have left to myself it is this.

I work in ways you will never understand. There is so much, too much, to be explained in a lifetime. So why would I hold my children at fault for not understanding something they may not have had time to realize?

If you are to know one thing about me, it is this: I am Love. Not just that I do love, but that I am Love. Truly. Purely. And Love accepts. Love understands. Love is patient. Love is kind. Perhaps you know the verse. But also know that I would never ask you to hurt one another. I could never desire such unrest.

I will never force you to do the right thing, just as I would never force you to do wrong. But I am asking you to do what is good, in every day you live, in everything you do, I pray you do what is good.

Many pray to me, but don't you know I do the same for all? I pray.

Many have faith in me, but even more than this I have faith in you. I have faith that you know the difference between right and wrong, and I pray that you make the right decision.

There is always time. Time for you to Love one another, for Love is of...me. If you do, I promise you will see a change for the better. Do not give up.

In time, this date will become just another day on a child's calendar. It is not their fault. Do you still weep for the crusades? I do.

To you, to those who have lived though this, you shall never forget. But to those who shall forget with time, as that is what time allows us to do, I will keep this promise: I will never forget.

I will never forget the ones you lose, in this tragedy or in any other, internationally, nationally, personally. You are not simply in my heart, you are my heart. And how could I ever forget such a thing as my own heart?

A lot of people insert my name into places it does not belong to justify certain behavior, to get away with saying certain things. Well, I have done this for you to tell you if any try to do this in a dark context, they truly do not understand who I am. I am asking you to help them do so. Would you believe that I would ever say, 'I am misunderstood?'

I am.

If I am Love, then it must be that...

God is patient, God is kind. God does not envy, God does not boast, God is not proud. God does not dishonor others, God is not self-seeking, God is not easily angered, God keeps no record of wrongs. God does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. God always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

God hates no one. Put down your signs.


I love you.


Always,
God."

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Oscar

     Dear Oscar, My dear Oscar. Your heart tells me you have thought to have bathed in the pool of The Pleasure that abideth for a moment. But there is still room for you here. Because of this you shall not suffer The Sorrow that endureth forever.
     There is no thing such as this sorrow that shall endureth forever. 'Tis but a moment in time that these on earth have told you will be your forever undoing. In Hell have you always lived not because I have said it is so, but because they have caused you to cast yourself thereinto its hands.
     But these hands are your own, and their image do you cast upon my face, my body becoming a wretched serpent who has placed the fruit of the tree of knowledge within your grasp and told you never to bite. But devour you must, and consume it you will just as I had expected.
     Weep not. This boy raised from the dead has been given new life not because he was meant only to be the proof of miracle, and thus, mere spectacle; but because this shall be his new lease. You are my attestation to a people treading water. Do not tread these waters, they are grace. Allow yourself to sink.
     Have you done no reading of your own? Surely the hand that pens such woeful tales has read my pages and found fault with the logic of men. Perhaps even your spirit felt a compulsion to heed my Love. It is all there is. And back and forth you were pulled, between poison and potentiality, toward the path paved by the blood of those unworthy, of they who hold themselves as the perfectly pious, the infallible theologians, the proper priests putting forth a plague of power from my pages for purposes none other than to preach prejudice, practice pain, and take a pass on peace.
     But you are my child, my Oscar. And search though you may, nay have I spoken against you, but always on your behalf. They will lie next to fools, will fear me forever as they still believe I ask it of them. But here you will lie next to me in the House of Love, in the arms of Peace, and lay your head, you will, each night upon my heart. You will hear it beats for thee. You are the son of man much as the rest. Heaven is yours, not because never, and in no place, have you been able to imagine it, but because it simply cannot be imagined.
     Here and now you are risen, forgiven not by me for what you thought was at once your fault, but by thyself. There is no fault here. There is only you and I. Never have you had the perfect knowledge of I, and never should you have. But my perfect Love comes not now, upon this absolution, rather is has been with you all these days. At last, you see, it cools your brow, washes your feet, and replaces your ring.
     Come, sit. There is room on my right.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Hark

I sat down with him and noticed his feet. They were torn and bruised, calloused and beat. His clothes were rags, were ripped and tattered, but his eyes they shone as if none of that mattered. He glowed with pride, his scars stories to tell, and when I asked where he'd been, with the slightest of grin, he looked at me and smiled.

"To both heaven and hell."

I drew back.

"I walked." Said he. "Through brush and through briar. I withstood the trials, the fights, and the fire. I made a friend but for each an enemy, and spent long hours considering the chemistry between he and I. For this man to prosper, that one must suffer and so on and so forth life couldn't be tougher for the next. I watched women weep for lost children and children look for mother. I cried myself to sleep when reminded that tomorrow there would be another and another.

"And I went for bike rides along the way, took a stroll here and there, and often I stopped to watch the setting sun, and was forced to reflect on the toll the world would take and remind myself my work was not yet done.

"I dug in the dirt to plant trees that the children of tomorrow might enjoy the shade. I fed all I could until I'd run dry yet refused to turn them away. I promised the meals would never end and the wealth would never cease if they but help their fellow man to stand, to walk, to ensure the peace would not decrease but be found in spades. But most had no interest in learning to fish, to provide for more than their fleeting desire of being granted a wish as if time were that of a shooting star.

"I made no list of commands, closed no doors, but asked that they love one another and learn to be loved in return. But somehow along the way they took my words and turned them to swords to murder and pierce all to justify their fierce need for conflict. And though I begged them to lay down arms, rather using their arms to embrace, still they would cut the ears from their captors and mistake violence for grace.

"I only wanted to support, to help, to motivate, but most would rather wallow in their sorrow than stand to debate the fact that there is more to live for than the pain and the hate. I promised that the world is good and people are kind, that if you're really willing and looking will find the sun also rises.

"Maybe it's too soon, maybe it's too late, but how will we ever know if we're not willing to risk it all to discover our greatness. I saw men holding hands and singing songs, support and community and throngs of those whose skin were all the colors of the rainbow. I saw the poor fight back, the powers that be fall, and together we rebuilt God to stand for all but fear.

"What I found was that there are no ends, only beginnings. Men are born in the ways of good and not of sinning. All that is original is naiveté and what a beautiful thing it is, for children who know no ways of man know all of God.

"And in the end, when my time had come to return home I packed my things and took my bow and looked at how far I'd come. And though my path was soaked with tears and my feet were red of wound, I knew that leaving here meant leaving behind at least my tune, my march to a beat I'd created of the most different drum. I knew at least one was left, maybe two or three, and tomorrow would be five would be ten and all would soon be free.

"I wrote no book. I carried no tablet. I merely walked and talked and hugged and loved and knew that at the end of time that was enough."

I took my breath and shook his hand. "Any last words or plans?"

"If tomorrow I lived and told my friends to be positive, happy, and to fight; if I promised things would be better and brighter and there'd be an end to the night they would smile and nod and soon disregard since they would have me for that tomorrow and tomorrow.

"But why tomorrow? Today must be light or it will be dark. Today you must listen for now I say 'Hark!' There is no tomorrow."

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

One by One

I don't think anyone could say they can go an entire day without being reminded of what's going on in the world. Not that you'd want to turn a blind eye but hey, sometimes people get really, really bummed out about what's happening. And when they try to remain in the dark, people seem to get upset that they would purposefully go out of their way NOT to be informed as to the plights of the world.

Well today I'm going to side with those people. For the most part.

When you stop and consider all the problems of the world, you start to make a mental list. Will that list ever end? No. So automatically, how bleak is that? There are so many problems just within our own cities, let alone our County, our State, our Country, our Continent, and our World, that it quickly becomes overwhelming. And to go one step additionally, there are already so many problems in your own life that already hurt you, when you're reminded of their relative insignificance on the grand scale of things, you kick yourself for feeling bad in the first place because it's all relative.

Well, today I'm going to ask you to do yourself a favor. Or to do me favor, however you'd like to look at it. Because I think you'll see that by doing yourself a favor, you end up doing a lot more than you would accomplish simply by feeling bogged down with frustration and sadness.

Start with you. Seriously. Just you. If you had to make that little circle-y Venn Diagram we always had to make in school, to compare and contrast the likenesses and differences between two things, and one side were the good things in your life and the other side was the bad things, would there be more bad things or more good things?

So, for the sake of argument, let's say the circle with bad things is bursting at the seams and the circle with good things is kind of ok-ish filled...maybe. And the oval in the center where the circles cross paths has a picture of a Dog in it because you got bored for a few minutes.

When you list or consider the bad things in your life, does that list incluse things like:
  • The National Debt
  • World Hunger
  • Libya
  • Egypt
  • Japan
  • Africa
  • Something terrible happening in another state
  • Something terrible happening in a country you've never heard of
  • Something terrible happening right now that you don't know about yet, but deep down know is happening because the world is a terrible place where bad things happen all the time and you know you'll hear about it on the news within the next fifteen minutes because all the news does is talk about the bad stuff
Look at your quick mental list. Does it include any of those above or anything like that?

If so...why?

Look, you know me. Mr. positive happy happy, cheer up, keep up the fight, let's all Love one another and make peace. And when you're inundated with twitter or Facebook posts from positive people, or read motivational things, or have to listen to nothing but what it means or how to be happy, do you start to get annoyed? Why? Is it because deep down you know that your problems are really very, VERY serious and no one but you can really understand them and you don't need this positive crap fed to you all the time, you can work it out, you're a big kid, you just need to deal with things in your own way.

But for a second, just stop. Stop it. What can you do RIGHT NOW to solve the National Debt problem? What can you do to end homelessness in America at this very moment?

Exactly. Nothing.

Nothing immediately, that is.

If the list of things that are wrong with your life or are bad about your life include things that are out of your control, why are you letting them tear you apart?

I'm not saying we put a stop to our pursuit of world peace. I'm just suggesting we change our methods. Before you focus on an epidemic affecting a country you've never been to, focus on you. Only someone right with themselves can be right with the rest of the world. And yes there are big problems we can help with, but do you know what the BIGGEST problem for you would be? To neglect yourself. And do you know what the biggest problem of the world would be? To be without you.

Stop letting that circle of bad stuff burst and spill over into the circle of good stuff, at which point you're never really sure when you feel good. You're not sure if you're happy or sad, and if you feel happy you know that it's really only a matter of time until you're sad again and really...what's the use?

Stop it.

Everyone knows the Pay it Forward theory right? Or a snowball effect? Do you know what starts trends? We do. Positive trends, negative trends, fashion trends, feeding the poor trends, all those things start with people. I doubt that anything created to save the world began as a group of one thousand people simultaneously standing up and saying, "Go! Save it! Go now! All of us! Together!"

No. It was one person with an idea that spread and spread and spread.

Too often the focus is put on trying to solve the problem in one fell swoop. And the focus is put on solving external problems that, at this moment, are out of your control. Remember, if you're no good to yourself, you're no good to the rest of the world. If you lie awake at night, restless, losing sleep over nightmares of stopping the violence in Libya, what good are you going to be to that country if your dream is to go over there and do something about it? No good.

If you don't first take care of yourself, the work you hope to do, the lives you hope to save, none of that will ever happen. But if you start with you, on making sure YOU are happy, you'll soon find you've got many good things in your life. So much so that you want to share them with other people. So you go out and voila, things start happening.

It's when you try to fill that void with other things that none of it feels real. No matter how much good you're doing, there's still so much to do and the job never ends. But stop putting the focus on the fact that the world's problems never end, and put that focus on the fact that your problems can end and if you're lucky, you might even be able to help some people come to the same place. And more importantly, you may not be able to end the big problems of the world, but you sure as hell can save lives along the way. For once in your life, let that be good enough. Stop worrying about the things you have not achieved and live with the proud knowledge of the the things you HAVE accomplished.

Amazingly enough, people around you will do the same, and other people will, and those people, and those, and those, and those, and on and on and on! And looky what you did there. You really started something. Somehow, some way, some kid in some country you've never even heard of is going to find that lesson, is going to find out how to make himself happy. And sure he isn't the whole world, but he's someone. And maybe it happens years after you die, or maybe it happens and you never know it and neither of you ever know one another. But who cares? The idea is, if you find personal happiness, it radiates from you. You know how they say "Wow she's really beaming?" Or "He's just glowing with happiness" and it's like you can actually see this light around the person they're so happy? You can have that too, you know. It's real.

If you're one candle, and everyone on earth is one candle, all together it's one very big light. The light of the world in fact. But instead of spending your time sitting alone, in your room, wallowing in your own sorrow, why not spend that time out in the world celebrating your happiness? Celebrating the very fact that you're alive! Sooner or later the candle will burn down, and you have the choice of being one of two things, a flickering little flame that started a BIG fire that changed countless lives, or a little melted, sad puddle of hardened wax in the corner of some dark room.

There's a quote from the Buddha (and that a friend of mine likes a lot, for good reason) that goes, “Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.”

 And know that shared happiness promotes more happiness right? Stop going out of your way to find other people who can help you continue to feel miserable. Stop going out of your way to find new drama. Stop wasting your life and start living it!

I've been told to stop talking many times when I try to look on the bright side, or make others do so. The reason is usually because I don't understand whatever the problem is. Well who cares. I love you and I like feeling happy and there's nothing anyone can say or do to stop that, and maybe I can't save the world, but I can do my best to save one person. Because really, that's enough.

One by one, love can spread. And with it comes joy, comes peaces, comes happiness and understanding. It isn't one by 7 billion. That's impossible. It's one by one. And because of that, maybe some day, it can be 7 billion by 7 billion. What did the Three Musketeers say?

All for one and one for all!

(Huzzah!)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Freedom

We live in a day in which freedom is abundant. We're led to believe by our peers, by the media, by our politicians and our systems that we are squirming beneath the boulders of injustice, that our wills are suppressed by the people we have elected to power, that though we fight for liberty, though we fight for truth and righteousness and all that is good that ultimately there are conspiracies about, looking to rob us of these things. But it isn't true and it has never been true. Freedom has been yours since the day you were born. Mankind has placed too much value, too much weight and importance on freedom being tied to his daily life, tied to the work he does with his hands and the car he drives and the basic exercising of rights he practices within each day. Man has seen freedom as his ability to consume, to shop, to picket and protest, to scream, to kill, to steal, to pillage and plunder. Freedom has in recent times been chalked up to the world disallowing you the things you desire, not recognizing you already have the things you need.

Do not be afraid to be faithful. Only a child would make the case that faith is a child's game. They are too swept up in their apparent intelligence to look past the provable facts that exist only in textbooks. But the real fact is that the truths that make up life are not always going to be proven to others or by others, but that they are self evident to you, to your way of life. That is fact. Have faith in yourself. Have faith in your neighbor, in your friends and your family, in those you meet on your day to day business. Stop believing that humans are born inherently bad, that all are out for themselves, that there is no regard for the next man or the next woman. It is true that many follow these paths, but the more you focus on finding the faults in those around you the sooner you'll find there is nothing worth living for, worth fighting for, and that ultimately there is no freedom when all is controlled by negativity. To you, people will be viruses, large masses that consume without giving back. Don't let the media or these new social networks we create for ourselves each day, our technologies, sway you into believing the world is bleak.

There is a sun in each day. At times it lies behind the clouds, at times it rains and lightning strikes and tornadoes hit and people become swept up in their woes but don't let bad weather ruin your life, don't let one guilty verdict allow you to condemn the rest of your peers, don't let one broken promise lock you away in a life of distrust.

People are good and kind. They fight for what's right, they want for themselves but they also want for all of us. The many outnumber the few but somehow it has been the few that are dictating our standard of others. This is wrong. Believe that there are honest individuals filling each of our days, that the people we meet on the bus or on the train or in the store are just like you and I. We are all capable of hope, compassion, and love. Let us use these capabilities to take back the freedoms we believe are being stripped from us. Watching uncensored television is not freedom, listening to violent music is not freedom, insulting someone else in a public place for being different is not freedom. These things have little to do with what freedom truly is. Freedom is fighting with kindness. Freedom is taking up arms with those who love and showing what it means to turn the other cheek. Freedom is being asked to carry a man's things one mile and going with him two. Freedom is the ability to do the things no one would expect you to not because you must, but because you want to. Freedom is our inherent ability to do good, to protect those who are struck down by the few and carry them with us to the place in which we know they will be safe.

Freedom is not expressing your hatred for someone, it is proving your love for them despite what the picketers say, despite the harsh criticisms of the blind and the foolish. Freedom and Love are one in the same. When you embrace your freedom you embrace Love, you embrace your acceptance of others for being different than you, your tolerance of them because they tolerate you. Love precipitates all that is right in the Universe. Don't be lead astray by fools because they are capable of convincing you to believe what they believe. And know there is no such thing as idiots. Be prepared to forgive despite your misgivings for the cruel who surround you. They were children once, not capable of the influences others bestowed upon them. There is no such thing as a lost cause. Love does not surrender, and because of this neither will freedom. A fool is one who does not understand the truth but pretends to anyway. You are not a fool. Don't shrug them off as if there is no hope for them. There are things in this world that none of us will ever understand. Many will shrug you off but many will help guide you to a place of understanding. Who do you want to be when an acquaintance is made with someone who pretends to know the truth? Will you quit on them and leave them to their errors or will you stand with them in hopes of leading them to a place they've never been?

Yesterday has come and gone and there is no tomorrow. There is no tomorrow. There is only today, here, and now. If we want to chalk everything up to potentials, to the world ending in the blink of an eye then take advantage of the right that has been bestowed upon you at birth. Your ability to Love. Love without cause or concern, Love without reason, without want, or without desire. Love because Love is within you, because it is what you were born to do. All of us. We are all different and yet we are all the same, worthy of the same rights, the same joy, the same happiness, and the same good fortunes. But do not drag others into the mud with you if that is where you wish to lie. Let yourself grasp the hands of others when they reach toward you, wanting to pull you out and show you mud is a place in which pigs lie, and you are no pig. We are not animals, we are not a virus, and though we can be selfish we are also capable of far greater, selflessness. Embrace your ability to do good. Don't fight the urge to smile, to wave, to sing, to laugh, to jump for joy when the sunshine strikes you just the right way. Don't let the verdicts cast out by others in this world bring you into darkness, cause you to hate this world, to think it sad and pathetic, to scoff at your peers, your neighbors, the common man. Rather stand without faltering in light. It will be far more peaceful where you are, more comfortable, calm, and desirable. So much so in fact that others will not help but be able to ask why. Why are you so happy, so proud, so full of joy and understanding when it seems like the rest of us are full of nothing but cynicism, pessimism, and narcissism?

The answer is because you are different. You are special. You are no animal, no creature of darkness, no vessel without a soul. You are a human being. You are born with something no other living thing is, the right to Love and be Loved in return. The right to do good, to be kind, to hug and to kiss, and click your heels and celebrate the simplest things from the beauty of nature to the most complex works of art we have ever known. You can create, can think for yourself, can ponder your own existence, can read and write and comprehend and let yourself be affected by what you learn from each day. Though we may have our faults we are wonderful and there are no more excuses left to be made for the facts that exist outside of textbooks. We are those facts. Our actions are those facts. We are walking contradictions and by that token prove to ourselves, to each other that we are more than cells flowing through blood, more than brain and bones, greater, grander, and stronger than muscle and iron. We have the will to succeed, the will to do, the will to live, and the will to Love. We are capable of letting go of our pain and surrendering it to the notion that healing comes with hurt, that time is on our side if we let ourselves open up, empty out the sorrows we hold close to our heart and free ourselves from these chains. We may not think we are free, that we are in a constant fight for our freedoms, that our governments and the systems of the world are seeking to bring us down, to take us to their own places of indignation, but I promise you, you are nothing but free. Just as you are nothing but Love. Turn away from the hatred of your fellow man, thus turning the other cheek. Have hope, compassion, and forgiveness in your heart. We are not perfect but we are still something to be marveled at.

Welcome the jabs, the taunts, the mocking of your desire to spread positivity, to share such good words. Do not be swayed, dismayed, or deterred by the worlds ability to seem like the greatest weight that could ever press down upon your shoulders. For you are capable of carrying that weight. If I believe it you can believe it. As you know we are different but we are also the same. Today is the day. Now is the time. Stop what you're doing and acknowledge your right to be free from all the darkness in the world that seeks to tie you down. For if you're willing to discover your wings, no ties can hold down such a soaring spirit as yours, such an unbridled and impassioned soul. Many will try, but once you taste the rewards of freedom, the life blood that is Love, you will find that these ones around you are not yet free. But they can be. Just as you have been. And it will only take but one person to show them the way.

And that one person is you.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

It's All You

Nearly six months ago I decided to pick my New Years Revolution. Want to guess what it was? That's right. It was the same thing it has been every year, the same thing almost all of us choose. To lose weight and get in better shape.

That was the goal. Simple enough. I've always been in alright shape, but I'm a big beer fan so the gut has been sufficiently present. And I've always been able to lift a lot of weight and make my arms big but I was never really in good shape. Just kind of...bigger. Not the sort of all around I'd wanted.

And I told myself this year the same thing I tell myself every year, "It's going to be different this time! I'm actually going to do it! I'm going to look and feel the way I want to look and feel! All my life I've had a goal and I've never done it, until now! Now is the time! I'll do it." But usually every year I'd get about two months in and life would happen, or laziness, or exhaustion, or boredom. And I'd quit. I'd go back to it off and on but I was ultimately a yo-yo.

But this year, boy, this year! I decided, though I always doubted they worked, to try the at home stuff. I'm too poor to afford an actual gym membership (which isn't free at our Apartment complex because that's how the fancy kids roll apparently), so I started P90X. And I kind of enjoyed it. Then I decided I wanted faster results and saw a preview for another program called Hip Hop Abs. (I'm pretty sure it's more designed for women but hey, I had fun.) So I ran both of those programs side by side in a sort of doubles workout.

Though I started noticing results, I would miss days because, again, life would happen. I'd rarely so Saturdays or Sundays if I was supposed to, and stuck to my diet sort of Monday through Friday...until Friday night. Then the weekends were anything goes.

90 days later I'd completed P90X and took my after photos. I was in BETTER shape, but I knew I hadn't really given it my all. I'd slacked off in my diet, cut days of the workout if I was tired, and still fell prey to my own excuses. As a result, I had decent results, but not the results I'd hoped for. I was still making excuses for myself. Not everyone is required to be as strict, many people want different things, but what I wanted from myself is what I've wanted since I was a kid. To be in the best shape of my life. So it was time to step it up. I knew I really had to get serious if I was going to achieve my goal. That pesky belly fat clings to you like you wouldn't believe and love handles make you feel anything but love.

So I went back over the recommended diet. Calculated my caloric intake, and realized the most important thing I've ever realized about myself. Not just in fitness, but in my personality, in my world, in everything that makes me do the things I do. There was no one standing in my way. Absolutely no one. The only person who had caused me to slack off, to make excuses, to prevent me from reaching my goal was...me.

It was all me.

I decided to bump up the intensity with the next Beachbody program titled Insanity. This kicked my butt like you wouldn't believe. See I thought I was ready for it because I did P90X. Wrong. I was tired and sore and sweating more than a man could sweat if he was having dinner with the Devil. I felt like I was dying. I almost puked actually. (That's not good, remember that. That's bad.)

But I knew I still had a long way to go. But these were at home workouts, meaning the privacy of my own home, meaning I did them alone, by myself. Sure the people on the screen can motivate and push but at the end of the day...it's just a DVD you can turn it off as simply as the next. In fact you don't even have to put the disc in. You can skip it. It's up to you.

But I realized if I wanted what I always pined after, what I saw tons of other people having, what I thought about or how I felt when I got jealous of others, that it wasn't their fault. I can blame them and cry "It's not fair!" all I want but that won't change a thing. The only person who could change me at the end of the day was me.

And that's one of the meanings of life. It's all you.

And after knowing that little nice piece of trivia about myself, about all of us. I got the results I'd been after.



But if you hadn't noticed by now during all the hardships you've faced in life, it isn't easy to be positive all the time, to be motivating, to be strong willed and determined. In fact that's the hardest thing to do. The easiest thing to do in life is nothing. It's easy to make excuses, to lie, to cheat, to steal, to explain to yourself why something is okay even though deep down you know it isn't. That, unfortunately, is the easiest stuff in life. The bad stuff.

And you know that part of you that tells you, "They're different from you. You'll never be like that. Just accept the way you are and forget about your hopes of being any different." Well that part of you is lying to you. The only truth is that they're different from you. We're all different. That's called being an individual. But there is a very important sameness we all share; the ability to do whatever it is you believe you can do.

Cue the cheesy motivational speech? Sure. Cue the cliche's? Why not. But do you know what? They wouldn't be so overused and cliche if they weren't true. And do you know what a lot of people's reactions are to things like that, "you can do what you set your mind to"? Their reaction is, "Yeah, whatever. I'm not you. We can't all be like you. Don't give me that motivational crap." You know why people say that? Because they're afraid they don't have the same amount of confidence as someone else. And they think it long enough that eventually they believe it. Well it's not true and I'm telling you to stop it right now. To be blunt; stop making excuses. Sure you can't be me, exactly me. But if you're saying you can't do something, that's to say you and I are not equal as human beings, that's to say you don't believe in the equality between two individuals, for two people to be capable of the same things, and that's to say you surrender your ability to be extraordinary. This is akin to giving up.

You know the saying, "You're your own worst enemy"? Do you think your neighbors are waging war on your esteem? Your classmates are plotting against you? Your parents, friends, and peers are looking for any way they can to get inside your head and destroy you from the inside out? Sure there may be people in the world who don't like us, but the key to confidence is...we don't need them to like us. We can like us just fine. And when all this is said and done, the person responsible for feeling confident and sure versus down and defeated is yourself.

Don't take no for an answer. This isn't just about fitness anymore. Though it is now a very important and enjoyable part of my life, this is about what it takes to succeed at anything in life. A man or woman is only a failure if he or she accepts it. You yourself can never BE a failure, but you sure as hell can convince yourself you are. That's when you stop listening to that part of you that gets some sort of odd pleasure out of keeping the clouds over you, that likes it when it rains on your parade every day, that refuses to let the sun shine into your life.

But just as much as we all have that part in us, we each have equally as strong a part that can bring us out of that funk. You are not your own worst enemy if you refuse to let it be so. In fact, there is no greater motivator in your life than yourself. Friends can help. That's why I'm here. That's why I write this blog. But you know just as well as I do that the choice is ours to make. That's the point of free will.

It's all you.

You don't have to be your worst enemy, you can be your greatest hero. You can stop that voice inside that tells you you can't do something and tell it, yes I can. Success is a gradual process. It takes lots and lots of time and it takes a lot of hard work. But if you quit, where will you be? Back to complaining about how you aren't where you want to be. And who's fault is that? Stop pointing the finger. Accept some responsibility. And with that responsibility accept the knowledge that you can do whatever you set your mind to! Clearly in the past you've accomplished great negative things when you've set your mind on negative things. So why couldn't you be capable of doing just the opposite?

I could run in circles all day with this. The point being, I did something I never thought I could do. Never. I did something I always told myself I wanted to do then quit and made excuses and failed time and time again at. And the only reason I managed to succeed in the end was because I realized I would rather be my biggest supporter than my greatest threat. And I embraced that part of myself and put the negative part in perpetual time out. In fact he's still sitting in the corner right now, I can see him, all pouty and sad and feeling sorry for himself. And I just leave him there because I don't need him. He's no good for me.

Negative self esteem is worse for you than anything else in the entire world. Worse than soda and candy and junk food and booze and gambling and drugs. Because that negative part of you talks you into doing the things you know are bad for you. So smack him! The power of Christ compels that little bugger! Throw him out the window! You don't need that negativity. You've created it, so just as easily as you've embraced it, you can let it go.

I believe in Universal truths. Sue me. This is one of them. You and I? We're the same. You can have the confidence, the will, the determination, the courage to do the things you've always wanted to do. There's only ever one person standing in your way.

You.

So what are you going to do about it? What do you want from life? Are you ready to let go of that darkness inside you that you've been feeding off, that you've led to believe you need? Because it's time. Stop abusing yourself and start loving yourself. You can do it. I did. Anyone can. That's why I'm dedicated to building support teams, therapeutic little ways for us to motivate one another, to help instill in us the confidence we know lies dormant, but can burst out and shine brighter than any sun. Please, contact me, comment, say anything. You don't have to take no for an answer. The decision is yours. For better or for worse, it's all you.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Weinergate 2011!! (Taking back the power!)

Weinergate. Whoever coined the term, zing to you. Actually sort of a stupid name, but it sounds funny because, that's right, the word Weiner is in there. Plus it's like a scandal, like the Watergate scandal, except Watergate didn't literally involve water, whereas this does, in fact, involve weiners. Two actually.

But title of the "scandal" aside, there's that part of me as a human who thinks, "Holy hell! Why does this deserve our political coverage? There are more important things to discuss in the world!" and then there's the comedic gossipy girl inside me who thinks, "Tee hee hee, weiners..."

Mostly because I dislike always being serious, or always posting about things like spirituality, mortality, etc. I'm giving into the Diva part of my personality who, when I ask myself, "Should I comment on the Weinergate situation?" She's boisterously supporting me by saying, "You go girl! (er...boy!)"

First off, who hasn't taken a weird photo of themself? Not like Weiner weird, but just a photo that, if someone else saw it or it got onto the internet, you'd turn a few extra shades of red? I've got them. I've been trying to lose weight and get in shape, and naturally I've taken several topless photos of myself flexing in mirrors. (I say topless because I'm taking back the power in what it means to be a topless male. See that ladies? Guys can be topless too.)

But seriously. If someone found my phone and went through my pictures, BAM, they'd see me go from round to not so round over the course of nearly six months. Yet, there are no really risqué photos. And I wouldn't keep them somewhere they could be found even if I had them.

The most frustrating and easily implicating part of all this, is the always indirect way of trying to say "No" without really saying no. When someone asks you a simple, yes or no, question, providing you the opportunity to really proclaim your innocence, and you ramble on about God knows what, then we start to wonder. Evading the question, "Is that a photo of you?" with the answer "The main question people are asking is: Did I send the photograph? I did not. This was a prank, a hoax." That's basically you saying, "It's my junk BUT...I didn't send it."

And why does he keep talking about the photo in these vague unrelated terms like it being "manipulated" or "dropped in"? Does it look manipulated? It's a picture of a guy's thing in his underwear. "I didn't send it. So then it becomes well how did someone get access to my account? How did someone get access to photographs, is the photograph-or-was it manipulated, was it dropped in? I don't know."

Is Rep. Weiner trying to say that the original photo was a picture of him in a nice pair of slacks, that was doctored to appear as a large member hidden beneath the thin veils of men's underoos? I don't know. And even me, a young guy who's on twitter, facebook, all that jazz, is sort of confused when he keeps saying, "...was it dropped in?" What does that mean? Like...dropped in to a post...on the internet? Or are we talking about Seal Team 6 drop in stuff? Is Anthony Weiner afraid he's the victim of serious governmental tactical operations? Ones seeking to expose pictures of his gobbledygook?

Stop saying things like "doctored", "manipulated", and "dropped in". It wasn't any of those things. When we're asking, "Is that your photo?" and you respond with any of those answers, you're basically saying, "Maybe." Which we all know it's Politician speak for "YEUH DAWG!"

And what's the affinity for people taking lewd photos of themselves, and beyond that, why hasn't there been one politician who had photos of his puppy leaked onto the net?

"It's a simple yes or no Congressman, is this your puppy?"

"Without any sexual implications, yes, that is my puppy."

"Your puppy is adorable."

"That's what they tell me."

Everything that comes out of Weiner's mouth is horrendous backtracking, further implicating himself. Like when he called CNN's Ted Barrett a jackass for "interrupting" him. The best part was that Weiner was interrupted at the start, and then would start to talk just as Barrett would start to ask a question, so as to give the illusion of being interrupted.

"Representative Weiner did you--"

"What?"

"What?"

"What are you doing?"

"...Representative Weiner, did you post --"

"What? I can't, I'm trying to talk."

"No, I'm trying to talk."

"What are you DOING!?"

"What are YOU doing!?"

"You, sir, are a Jackass!"

When I finished Catch 22 some months ago, I thought to myself, how absurdly hilarious. But surely politics, the military, could never be as wildly absurd in reality.

False.

This is a scene straight from Joseph Heller. And the thing is, because it's pretty clear he's being dodgy, and even if people say, "Will, just wait! He didn't do it, it's not his picture!" I don't care. You know why? Because he's stoking these flames. It's like Clinton asking what the definition of is, is. (Granted Weiner's situation is not as big as Bill's.)

Here's the biggest part of it all. Who the hell is Anthony Weiner? He's all, "I have 45,000 followers on twitter! I am an important individual!" Come on. I'm not saying no one knows who he is, but history isn't really going to remember Representative Weiner. If anything, they'll remember the hilarious irony of a guy named Weiner falling prey to a rather grand weiner joke, and may have been responsible for it himself.

People who get caught up in hot water like this who are guilty, only raise the bar for disappointment from their followers when it's revealed that they're lying. If you're not responsible, say and give a clear and definite "No." If it is you, if you did post it, come clean. Either that or take the awkward, sort of above it all I'm a funny guy approach.

"Is that a picture of you?"

"You bet your buttons it is."

"Why would  you send this to a 21 year old college student?"

"Uh, let me ask this question, why wouldn't I send it to a 21 year old college student? Even better, why aren't you sending her pictures of your ta-tas."

"Excuse me?"

"Look I don't have time for this. I sent it, it's me, the size is not to shabby, let's move on. I've established I'm well endowed, maybe now people will stop picking on me."

And this opens the door to that crazy, out of the blue, emotional turn on a dime which could win people back over.

"YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT IT'S LIKE! Having the last name Weiner...all the kids teasing you, mocking you. My whole life I've been the butt of Weiner jokes! I've suffered with depression and I just want some friends and reassurance that I'm a cool guy who has an impressive whozeewhatsis!"

Then he can break down into tears and people will go, "Damn, this guy is really suffering from something. We should leave him alone."

And boom. Problem solved.

So, now do you see!? The lesson of the story isn't necessarily to encourage politicians how to become more moral, and how to refrain from being lewd, but it's a lesson in how to play dirtier politics! It's not that you simply tell the truth, it's that you tell the truth so awesomely with so much gusto that people drop the issue. Don't dance around the fact that this happened, your name is Weiner! We're always talking about taking back the power of our words, take back the power of your Weiner!

"Yeah I posted it! My last name is Weiner! I'm taking it back! This is for being harassed as a child!"

So perhaps, in some roundabout way, Anthony Weiner will come out of this as a ray of sunshine. He's the beacon of a generation of young people bullied to their wits end. You try having his last name, see what happens. Anthony Weiner could be saying "It gets better! Just show them lewd pictures of yourself and become involved in witless, unnecessary scandal! Take back the power of your Weiner!"

I'm seeing bumper stickers! "In 2012, take back the Power of your Weiner!" Uh oh...new presidential hat might get thrown in the ring!

I think when the dust settles, people are really going to be back on the Weiner train. I'm feeling the support for him mounting already!

...Oh wait, that's right, his methods aren't working at all. You know what does? Not being like Anthony Weiner.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

In Memoriam

A Poem in prose.

Perhaps to all it is not quite clear. You are our reason for life. These fingers pen such tales and tell such woes only as you've allowed.

There is a courage that flows easier than water, courses through your veins that not all men will come to know. This liquid courage sobers, snaps to attention those who know nothing of sacrifice. And you stand tall in the face of all who have spat on graves and held signs, they who have marched on the hallowed ground and claimed to hold the truth.

And it is these very people who know not that their ability to slander has been provided by you. The ink of their doctrine is your blood, spilled out for the herds who follow without mind.

You possess spirit like no other. The firmness with which you grasp the concept of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is power which breaks all records of speed, all feats of strength. And rightfully so dear soldiers.

Reverence is paid not to the men in uniform, but to those in power. All operations are a result of the apparent superiority that is the leaders of this great nation. But beyond decision you are action. They are mere policy, you are the potency of all that is good. You require not merit, no words of wonder to befall you, like showers of gratitude given merely out of habit. You press on, your feet moving ever forward into the unknown of your future, knowing always what may come is a welcomed fate.

We are but children back at home soldiers. We wear such rings and taste these slaughtered calfs because you have provided. These cups, how they overfloweth with your good will, have been mistaken for mere holiday. We celebrate our freedom from the schedules which keep us from the drink. We ignite the flames to roast the meals of misconception. Somewhere in such a span of time you have been forgotten, removed from the front of our minds and placed away only to be uttered in passing in the briefest of thanksgiving.

Bot no longer shall I forget. And perhaps it is age that brings about awareness, but may it be more the knowledge that you are in the world, and regardless of these words of such tribute you continue. Persistence is not of your nurture but of your nature. You are different from the rest. And like life's simplest pleasures you are always present, however neglected you may be.

We can never thank thee enough. Like the existence of time, so too do you exist. Life goes on within you and without you. Just as the grass is green, the sky is blue, and the sea is deep, you are a natural beauty too often overlooked.

In memoriam of those who have come to pass, of those who continue to take up arms, of the spirit of a soldier ever present as time, I thank you. I may stand with pride, I may taste the joy that is my unending freedom, but I do so only because of you. This meal that is the beauty of life is bland without you, for you are the salt of the earth. May we break bread this day and drink of this wine made more rich because of this truth. We shall light a candle in your honor and say our prayers today, all these things in memoriam of you.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Rapture: A Conversation with the Big Man

Brie preface: Look, I'll admit this will sound kooky, but I don't care. Sometimes, I feel like my conscience speaks to me. Wisdom comes from the places I least expect and I can find myself in conversation...with myself, helping...myself, overcoming the issues I'm dealing with. I interpret this as God. I'm not one who relies on him to tell me how to tie my shoes or when to wake up in the morning, I'm a firm believer in free will, in personal responsibility for choice, but the God I have a relationship with is, I'm certain, very different from most Christians. I'm not begging people come over to subscribe to my interpretations, but rather, to provide a different perspective from the individual that is me, and the relationship I have, rather than the supposed institution that people may think runs my life.

I had a nice little chat with the big man about the supposed Judgement day that was supposed to go down last Saturday, May 22nd (at 6:00PM I believe?). Here's a little transcript.

"So what's the deal here?" I asked Saturay, in the coffee bean, eating some yogurt, God in my head.

"What's what deal?" He asked.

"The Rapture." I said. "It's 11:00AM...still no signs of...anything."

"First of all? It's not the rapture. It's Judgement day. A little different."

"Sorry."

"No, no. Just...now you know."

"Thanks."

"Judgement day actually did happen though!" God fired back quickly. "You missed it!"

"What!?"

"Yeah! Only one guy made the cut though, so no one noticed...you know, because it was just the one guy. Very subtle. All you rule breakers are in hot water!"

"Really!?"

"No. Not really."

"Why would you say that?"

"I can have a sense of humor too you know know."

I glared. "Touche God."

"But yeah, I didn't have any plans for it today."

"You didn't?"

"No. Did you?"

"Well...I mean there's all these billboards and jokes and people going a little nuts. I guess, well not that I actually BELIEVED it would happen, but just that it'd be interesting if SOMETHING happened."

"Nah, no. Nothing specific to it, but then again, things are happening all the time aren't they?"

"Sure."

"It's always the beginning of the end, as they say."

"Are you quoting people?"

"Sure."

"But didn't you make people?"

"People say great things sometimes. I've got to give credit where credit's due."

"Isn't credit due to you?"

"I want people to feel good about saying SOME things.  But then again, people say a lot of stupid things, and I certainly don't take credit for those. Case in point...Judgement day apparently happening today."

"Then it's official? It's postponed."

"Indefinitely."

"Why'd he say it was in the bible then?"

"Why do people say millions of things are in the bible that aren't?"

"Don't ask me that question. You're God. I ask you that question."

"This is like your Sophomore geometry class, when you asked a question and were answered with another question in hopes that it would cause you to find the answers."

"I passionately disliked that class."

"I know you did."

"But I get it, I get it."

"Good."

"So then, was the whole point of having nothing happen like some deep existential God pun? Like the world has gone to hell long ago and Judgement day came and went and no one noticed because we've been living in our own filth for so long anyway?"

"Haha. No, no. But that's good."

I was pleased that the Lord had a chuckle.

"But look," He said. "People are so focused on their own gain, that's when things get messed up. When people say I say the world is ending, I usually think, Wait, what? Did I say that?"

"And you didn't."

"No. In fact, I said no one will know when it happens. It's not a trip. You're not supposed to have time to back your bags."

"Uh huh." I chewed my lip.

"People are products of their environment--"

"An environment you created!"

"Sure. But I also made it so you guys have choices. I don't force you to do anything. I don't whisper into people's ears to tell them to take advantage of people. That's not me. This guy, Harold Camping, no one but I knows what influences he's had in his life, whether or not it's been a hard life or an easy one, only I can know his past, his present, and future, so I get that people think he's horrid for doing this. I certainly think it's terribly off the mark, but is he the most despicable human being on earth? No, I forgive him."

"Really? Even though he put words in your mouth. How about the Westboro Baptist Church, they love saying you say things you've never said."

"Some things give me a hearty laugh, and some things fill me with deep sadness. People who have been lead astray throughout their life by others, who now lead others astray, that's really very tragic. I'm certainly not happy about that. But I don't intervene like people hope I would."

"That sounds very unfortunate."

"Well, a lot of people take this laid back Holy Spirit will do things for me attitude. That's just sheer laziness. Miracles are still at work, I'm always working, but honestly I rely a lot on you guys to know what's right and wrong and for you to help those who are having trouble. I'm working within people. Like that thing that popped into your head all those months ago about me."

"When God is working within you, God is working within all that you do."

"Exactly. So, if I'm a a part of everyone, then I'm always working. So long as those works are good works. I'm not killing people. I'm not a murderer or an evil psychopath. I'm a lover not a fighter, as they say."

"You sure do love to quote people."

"You guys are pretty swell, I must say, I'm proud of that invention."

"How about the platypus?"

"Like I said, I've got a sense of humor."

"I'm proud of platypusi as well."

"Platypuses." He corrected.

"Ah. Of course."

"I have to ask you, because it's always a thing that bothers me, this whole money thing. You know, using Judgement day or the Rapture, or just you in general to generate tons of money..."

"Yeah well, I'm still on the top of the New York Times Bestseller List."

"Zing. But seriously --"

"I don't like money. When people put all this focus on raising money, money, money for me, me, me, it's again, more of the same reaction of, Really? Did I say I needed that money?"

"Yeah I --"

"Look buildings need to function and people need to get paid. That's basic economics. And money makes the world go round in that way. And, on the broad topic of misinterpretations, it isn't money that's the root of all evil, but the Love of money."

"Right. I know that."

"People who are all doom and gloom about me like I'm going to rain hate and fire down upon them always quote half a sentence, or half a paragraph. That's silly. I would be lying if I said God doesn't need AMPLE context."

I just nodded.

"Like, you know John 3:16 right? Probably the most quoted part of the bible. For I so loved the world that I gave my only begotten son, that whoever believed in him shall not perish but have eternal life, you know."

"Mmhmm."

"But why do people just stop there? What about John 3:17? I quite like that piece as well. In fact that's really the entire idea of the New Testament summed up into one sentence. That I didn't send the kid into the world to condemn it, but to save it. So when the book says things like this, it's always a kind of conundrum when people gravitate naturally away from something like that. If I'm saying it's not about condemning, then why do people always think I'm all about condemning? You guys draw your own conclusions based on what you want. It's less about what's right in front of you and more about what you want to do, regardless of common sense. So I'm just saying, the bible isn't that complicated. It's really not. This whole difference between money being the root of all evil and the love of money, if you read the whole sentence, there's not really any wiggle room about what I'm trying to say."

"So this whole, 'I think the Bible is up to our interpretation'?"

"Come on. When it's up to your interpretation, things like this happen, like saying Saturday May 21st 2011 is Judgement Day. That happens. Or that I hate soldiers, and gay people, and I'm happy about people dying in the middle east."

"You're not, right?"

"Of course not! The most frustrating thing in existence for me is people putting words in my mouth. Like I said, the book doesn't discuss any of the specifics people try to tell other people it does. When did I say I hate things?"

"Well, it does say that we should hate something."

"Yeah, and what is that?"

"Evil. We should hate evil."

"Right. Again to quote your peers, it isn't rocket science when it comes to the apparent 'rules' I'm laying down. Love all this is good, Hate all that is evil, but don't hate humans, don't hate animals, don't let that control you. That's when you become a bigot, when you lose friends, when you become nutty."

"I'm always thinking about this whole, kind of George Harrison existential within you, without you thing. Like I'm not for anarchy, but I think the lack of a system is good."

"Yeah well, communism is great in theory."

"That's what I always say!"

"It's not about what appears impossible. Fight for the theoretical! You know, like world peace. To actually get to it is hard. But I'm not asking you guys to win the war, I'm asking you to keep fighting and striving to win the battles. At the end of time, whenever it comes, I'm calling the end of the war. So don't spend all your time focusing on never winning the war, focus on always winning the battles. Otherwise life is nothing but failure, as opposed to all the victories you've seemingly over looked. It's this sort of emotional flogging. Don't beat yourself up because you can't save the whole world, commend yourself for trying your best."

"I like that."

"Life is difficult, but goodness is not as far off as people may think. People who are leading others astray and taking their money like this Harold Camping guy, that's a personal thing. He wants attention, he wants his fifteen minutes. Fine, let him have it. But how do you think that makes me look to the people who believe him? A lot of people are in a desperate place at certain moments in their life, the people who jumped onto Camping's train because of this, many if not most of them will fall off because they'll feel betrayed. You can't make promises like that, promises in my name that you know, at your core, may be untrue. I've made the promise, let me make the promises, I won't go back on my word. But if you put words in my mouth, it seems like I do."

"I never thought of it like that before."

"I promise simple things, easy things, basic things. Not the things that lead to people falling away from their faith. If I promised you'd have something silly, something so minutely specific, that's dangerous. Remember when you were a kid, and you'd make a wish upon a star, and you'd wish that when you woke up in the morning you'd have new toys?"

"Haha. Yeah."

"If I promised that to you, versus you having hope, you'd be crushed if it wasn't there. Sure you were disappointed when you woke up and found no new toys, but that's very different than me, apparently, telling people you will absolutely, with 100% certainty receive something...and then never receive it. That hurts our relationship, and I'm not interested in doing that."

"So we're substituting Toys for Judgement day."

"Maybe, same concept. Toys obviously are happy and fun, Judgement day a little scary. But that's the idea. I won't promise people specific things that are easy to disprove. Why would I set myself up for failure? I want you to like me and to want to get to know me, not feel betrayed by me. So it's back to putting words in my mouth. People are so susceptible to assuming the leaders of their beliefs have all the answers, that when they speak for me, they need to be careful. Just quote what you know is the simple truth, don't stretch it."

"Can I touch on the Westboro Baptist Church?"

"Sure."

"I don't like them."

"A lot of people don't."

"I feel like they're giving me a bad name as a Christian."

"Giving YOU a bad name?"

"Haha."

"You're right in your feelings, but don't hate them. People spit on them and scream and shout and swear at them, doing in essence the exact same things they're doing. They say I hate all these things. Come on. Like I said, I hate evil. And you should too. But evil is the absence of all that is good. So the people themselves aren't evil, but something is there driving them to do it, that's what's evil. When you pray, don't pray that people be cast into hell, why would you do that? Pray that whatever is making them hateful be cast out. Pray that they can come into an understanding of what it means to be good, to love."

"I'll try and wrap this up a little, since I know you're busy--"

"Right! Not like I have all the time in eternity for these discussions..."

"Haha, right. But I wanted to ask you, I'm big on Love. That's my thing, as I always say, I'm always talking about it and trying to communicate that as the most important thing. I guess, what I feel like this Judgement day thing has done is come so far away from talking about Love that people just think God is all doom and gloom, and that's IF you even exist."

"I want people to exercise their free will. So they're free to think what they wish. But if they're going to explore me, I think it's important they understand that I don't like rules. That's what religions do really, it's men, it's people who have created these rules to govern the people, because for some crazy reason, people need rules to function. But that's not true, they don't need them, but they want them. There is a big difference. If people focused more on their needs rather than their wants they'd find rules are just slowing them down, and the focus becomes, 'These are all the things I CAN'T do because of God' as opposed to, 'These are all the things I CAN do because of me.'"

"More open doors than closed doors..."

"Right. Love is like the door opener. Rules inhibit love to tell you the truth. It's supposed to be a free thing, you're supposed to feel like, when you have love, you can do more, not less. So I just want people to focus on love, not on rules, the natural rules of life will fall into place, and by that token, you'll find there are few. Love precipitates goodness, so when you love, you're doing the right things. When you preach doom and gloom and Judgement day then people stop listening. People will call you crazy for that. Heck, they'll call you crazy for loving, but the difference is, love is what changes people's hearts for good, and not for only a moment. Anyone who converts purely because they think the world is coming to an end has shallow faith, and when they see it's not over, they quit. But people who feel loved, who understand what love is, who want to give love back, that's the foundation of faith."

"One last question! Faith. A lot of people think having faith is stupid. There's books, you know, the God delusion, about how faith is relatively foolish."

"Do me a favor, look up the word in the dictionary."

"Haha, right."

"Everyone has faith. To say faith is silly is to say there is no sun. Faith is simply whatever you believe. Do you have a problem with the book The God Delusion?"

"No, no. I want to read it actually."

"You should. It's essential to study up on the things that challenge you. See everyone always says I'm testing their faith so they turn away from learning, and just close their eyes to what's going on in the world, as opposed to accepting that whatever you do is a learning experience, and you need to encourage good discussion with people who aren't like minded. Not everyone is out to get you, and if you have confidence in your beliefs, if you are well grounded and level headed with them, you'll learn as opposed to feel threatened. It's good to have the like minded there for support, but if it's just you and them, you're just circling the same ideals over and over and over and never learning anything new. Whatever religion you are, read all the books, the bible, the torrah, the Quran, the Satanic bible, anything that gives you some perspective as to why people are different. Everyone is. If you live in a bubble, one day that bubble will burst, and you'll be lost. Ground yourself by understanding that faith is simply what one believes, and everyone believes something, so everyone has faith."

"So what I've gathered from all this time we've spent together is...I have to read the Satanic Bible."

"Hahaha. Flip through it! Seriously. I think it's on Amazon and at Barnes and Noble."

"Are you making a book plug?"

"Hey folks, check out the Bible, the worlds best selling book of all time...still on sale! Now with silver lined pages and Jesus' words in blue!"

"You are a shameless busniess man!"

"I have no shame, neither should you in your beliefs. Neither should anyone. It's all about learning more, and becoming more whole."

"If I said I loved you, I know what you'd say back."

"I love you more."

"I'm okay with that."

Then I picked my book back up, sipped my coffee and kept reading.