End Times

2018 will be a year that sticks with me for many reasons but the biggest is the loss of my mother, something we knew was coming but which, as they say, you are never prepared for when it happens.

With mom it was a slow decline that we could only bear silent witness to. It was an awful burden but never more awful than her own, a woman who had suffered enough in her life.

I remember getting the call that mom was going to be entered in hospice and it felt like the world had fallen away beneath me. It was early in the year and while there had been talk that she was nearing the need to enter hospice care, her finally entering it meant that the silent clock that had been ticking was suddenly very, very loud.

Time was running out.

For several years now I have had the awful understanding that eventually we would have our last Christmas together as teh full family. I have been very lucky to have my family alive for as long as I have. A lot of people don’t have that luxury. I can tell you though that it was an awful feeling last Christmas, a feeling of sick dread as the day drew on and it became time to leave because I knew that vague fear was turning from cold chill to ragged bone and time was just running out. It was a good Christmas, we had had better, we probably had had worse, but it was good. I won’t say I knew it was the last one but I had a bad feeling.

You just never know.

The reality of hospice care hit me when I went out to see my mom after finding out and saw the packet that was left – it detailed what Hospice was, had a series of forms to be filled out, including a Do Not Resuscitate form, and it ran through the signs that death was imminent. Then it was real. It was all real. I kept going back to that, over the next three months, wondering when the signs would begin and not realizing that things were already underway.

The hospice workers were good to mom. She’d never have to go to a doctor again. Her medications would be ordered and delivered. They brought air for her. They eventually brought a hospital bed for her. Nurses came, a social worker, and everyone we dealt with was sweet and genuinely cared about her. My mom was a charmer, a sweet woman who won over people easily with her humor and laughter and that stuck with her until the end. She had changed, to be sure, but she was still mom. After the stroke the onset of dementia crept slowly in but it did change her, her moods, her mind, bht she was always mom. That, at least, never changed.

The final three months were a slow march towards the end. The hospice care dropped off a photo album which would allow mom to record messages but she never did. Mom and dad were never ones to take to technology and that was just one more thing to figure out and it just never happened. We had a good day, I remember, when all of us got together with my wife and went over pictures together. We laughed a lot. Especially mom.

When the end came you could almost follow along with the symptoms in the material we’d been left. The curse for the living is to live with the regrets. The moments you regret. The things you said. The things you never said. We got our time to say goodbye, before, and at the end. As awful as it was, I am glad we were all there for it. I had taken to staying at my family’s house for the last two weeks of her life, only going to my own home to clean up and change, then it was back to the house. As the last few days came the nurses told us that she was close, that she was holding on though. It’s an awful thing to have to give permission to someone you love to die but I did, my sister did, but my father couldn’t. Until the end he began to believe that maybe she was just sick. She hadn’t eaten in a week and was barely taking fluids. She had lost so much weight she was literal skin and bones. I had the nurse talk to my dad, to insist that yes, this was the end, that we needed to let her go. To let her be at peace. My family was never one to say ‘I Love You’. It wasn’t that we don’t love one another but that it just was not something we did. That changed, for me, when she had her stroke. I probably didn’t say it as much as I should but I said it, and I said it a lot at the end. I was a terribly flawed kid, troubled, and I put her through Hell. I don’t think I could have ever said I Love You enough to make up for it but I tried. All I wanted is for her suffering to end. It seeemed to go on and on and on.

I had mentioned it before but it was a sweet bit of Providence that my wife and I took our dogs out to see mom about a week before she died. She loved dogs and our dogs were so sweet and gentle with her, our one Husky pup, Banshee, wanting desperately to get into the hospital bed with mom. We lost mom not long after and Banshee not long after that. I am glad they got to enjoy one another’s company before the end.

Family came to see mom. Friends came to see mom. People wrote. People called. Mom was afforded the time to say goodbye, though I can’t imagine how you even do such a thing, how you process it, but she at least got to see many people that meant something to her.

We were there at the end, her suffering finally ending after her body finally ran out of fight. We were able to be together, and were together when the nurse came to clean her, then the funeral home came to collect her, and then when we had to start dealing with the fact that she was gone. The finality of it all struck me hardest as I saw her name on the television during a local channels obituary list. I knew she was gone but it was so new it was as if she was a phantom limb but that was the first dirt on her grave, the funeral the last, and since it has been dealing with the aching realization of her absence. That the world didn’t stop spinning. That I was back at work a day after her funeral (my decision, having been out of work for almost three weeks), and that there could still be joy in the world all seemed strange to me. But we HAVE to laugh. We HAVE to move on. We have to or we die with those we lose. It’s only through that laughter, those tears, that love, and that pain that we keep their candles lit.

All of us have a life to give, and, as has been said, the price of loving is to suffer the grief of loss. It’s part of the deal. We are all flawed, and damaged, and most of us try to do the best we can, knowing that it’s never as much as we wish. We never pay the debts we create with people, not all of them, we don’t finish ever project, or live every dream, We do the best we can because a life is not meant to be perfect. It’s a long path that leads us through the dark towards an end we cannot imagine. All we have is one another in the end and the love we share together. Hate is a fast burning fire that will take all there is of you if you give in to it. The hope we have is that we have grace and wisdom enough to learn to let go of the slights done to us, large and small, and hopefully we can learn too to forgive ourselves.

There was no way to repay mom for all that she gave to us but hopefully she knew how loved she was. That was the last and only gift we could really offer – To be with her and to love her through the end.

…c…

 

The Only One Screaming Is You

I think it’s pretty obvious to say that American society is at a breaking point. People will argue that, saying that it’s Fake News and that things are fine and all that but these are also many of the people who are tuning out things that upset them or disrupt their vision of how the world is. People tune out because of ‘too much politics’ and ‘too much social justice’ and any number of reasons, preferring the cat videos and baby pictures they hold in quiet disdain instead of the political and social stuff which tends to bring out the worst in people.

We deserve our personal safe places. Our safe havens.

Life is hard enough without feeling under constant barrage, whatever your opinion and feeling on things. We deserve it…within reason. The problem is that reason isn’t in use much these days. We are isolating ourselves, picking hills to die on, and by god, if you cross some line that you have, well, then you’re a terrible person and are blocked and deleted on social media and ignored in real life. There is nothing common about decency any longer and the notion of civil disagreements seems lost. And I am no different. We’re at a point where the divisions seem bigger, the stakes higher, and for me, it’s hard to want to listen to someone make excuses about a world I see gone off the rails.

And that is me, just me.

Everyone is different.

Everyone has their own views and ways that the world works for them.

And I know full well that my outrage weighs no more, and no less, than anyone else’s. We live in a world where outrage is the default, leading to the great Tune Out.

But the problem here is that, in tuning out the Other, we’re tuning out the whole, not just the part, but the whole. There is a narrative being written about this nation, this gneration, and this world, and it’s being written by a very few people to represent the many. That’s always been how politics works, that’s not new, but it’s also never been more contentious or dangerous. Even the Civil War’s main effect was on America, today our policies and decisions shape the world. We’re in an era where it is easier for people to believe in nothing, than it is to buy into anything. An era where people can adamantly believe that the world is flat, despte evidence of the ages. We live in an era where it is easier to believe that the whole of the government is part of a conspiracy to lie, to obfuscate, and to kill us. It seems laughable, heck, it is, that people’d rather believe not even the worst but the utter worst, but you an see why things got that way. You can see why people would take the lies that are told, that are bought and are sold, and we are living in a time now where the lies of the President seem acceptable to many, so long as he holds the Them at bay, whomever they are for someone.

Every day brings a new twist to a nation that once prided itself as the leaders of the world. We have turned against all of history and have decided to wrap ourselves in our national flag and want to close the borders and do for us, with us, by us. Unfortunately the genie is out of that bottle and we can’t go back. We are part of a global community, something we used to take pride in, and all isolation will do is keep our allies away. The thing is that the enemy is within. The disgruntled, the broken, the lost, the angry, and the militant. We have created our own monsters and that isn’t slowing down.

There comes a time where you have to open your eyes to the fire that’s around you. A time when you either accept that you are being willfully ignorant or you take in a situation for what it is.

While truth is a flexible, malleable thing, there are things we cannot deny and right now, this national house is on fire and many of us are choosing to stay in the house. Social rights, personal liberties, and climate devastation should not be topics we are willing to fight as they seem to be part of what oure nation is founded on, for the first two, and what may be our undoing, on the second part.

Climate science denial is the new flat earth buy in. People refusing everything that seems to say that we are adversely effecting the world. I always look at that idea in this way – sit in a car for a few hours with a smoker and the glass will fog and be covered in a yellow film. Now imagine that you were in there for not just a couple of hours but many hours, days, months, years, and you are starting to get a vague notion of how we are damaging the ozone and planet. To think that humans are not having an effect on the world is nuts. Pure and simple. But again, the hills we choose to die on.

In the end, our outrage is our own.

Our upset, our rage, our disdain.

We can join it to others and to causes but you need just read between the lines of society and what is happening to see where we are going, and it’s not a good place .

It’s not a happy future.

The house is burning around us, and unless we decide to wake the heck up and get out, we are just aren’t going to make it out alive.

…c…

Letting It Go

It’s a heck of a thing to be able to walk away from the last word.

To close your mouth, push your tongue against the backs of your teeth, and to set your jaw firmly. Harder still when you feel, as most of us do from time to time, you have been wronged.

I HAVE BEEN WRONGED!

You want to scream it to the world, to call out those who have done you ill and to burn the earth around them and then salt it so nothing can grow for them again. The righteousness of the perceived transgression pushes to take hold of you and to pry open your mouth and let out all of the things you are compelled to say.

You have to say them

You have to drain the poison from your mind lest it slither into your heart and poison that.

The thing is…that poison, like the pain, is yours. While it’s for you to figure how to dispel it, it’s also yours to live with.

But why?

Why live with poison when it feels best to share it and to poison another?

To speak to the fact and not around it – there is a righteousness in pain and in being done wrong. Perception is always dependent upon who you ask, the person done wrong will tell a different tale than the person who was on the other side and the truth often lies in the gray emptiness between. Once you spread that poison, once you tell someone else the blackness that is in your heart you become as much of a villain as the person you feel did you wrong.

You will never be as eloquent, as intelligent, or as thoughtful as you imagine you will be once you open your mouth.

You’ll be singing a song of pain for someone who won’t hear it.

And finally, once you aim your angst and upset in the direction of someone else, whomever they are, you lose any claim to righteousness, you’re just another villain in a play filled with them.

No one wants to be fired, broken up with, ignored, cheated, or just simply done wrong and having to, no, CHOOSING, to swallow the feelings that come with something like that is a hard, hard road. But swallowing it down is the only way forward. Finding an outlet for it is the key. Finding a grave to bury it in, or a house to burn down around it, figuratively speaking. Or, if you are able, to find a place to bury it and a way to turn it into a forest to shade you in coming years.

But once you let it out, once you fail to let it go, you are suddenly as much a part of the problem as whatever it was that caused you to feel wronged.

And there’s the rub, as they say – the only way to move forward is to move slowly, deliberately, dragging that baggage behind you, until you can find the right way to process it and move on. Moving on doesn’t come with dragging someone down to where you are though when you are at your lowest. Getting over it, whatever it is, doesn’t come by digging down but by finding a way up. Some how. Some way.

The only way through is up.

So get climbing.

…c…

Our Lonely Gods

Since the beginning Mankind has looked to the great Other for guidance. It was a Creator, or a Punisher. Or an an all seeing Eye that We have always looked to something else/someone else for guidance.

This is not a dig on religion at all, because the needle of faith, the heat of faith, can guide a life forward in a thoughtful way. This is not me saying There Is No God.

This is me saying – we keep creating gods.

We want gods for everything.

Our own, personal gods that will care only for and about us.

And that’s sorta weird.

 

We have gotten so that we build gods from anything.

Everything.

We build our gods as walls to keep others out and armor to fight others off.

We want our gods to watch out for us, to take care of us, and to love only us.

We want them to forgive without question and judge without measure.

We want our gods that will make us rich.

We want our gods that will get us laid.

We want our gods that will let us win.

We want our gods make our teams win.

We want our gods to make us famous.

We want our gods to shine on us like an undying sun, forever and ever amen.

 

We play the lottery, make bets, and fill the casinos praying god will make us rich.

We pray during sporting events that god will favor our team over another.

We tweet, and video, and capture every moment of our lives in the hope that we’ll go viral or find some strange piece of fame.

 

All of these things we do to our other gods, the lonely gods we speak to only when we want something.

We don’t give them love, or faith, or fealty.

No.

We take.

We beg.

We demand.

These gods without faces that we put together out of found parts and abandoned hopes.

The gods we turn against one another when we don’t get our way.

 

Faith, true faith, is found over time and contemplation. It is found with introspection and patience.

Faith doesn’t build walls to keep one another out.

Faith doesn’t run for the fame or the money.
Faith, true faith, is the foundation we can build lives upon.

It’s not a get rich quick scheme, or a means to punish the people we oppose.

Faith isn’t about making our lives bigger but making our lives more meaningful.

We forget all that though in the drive to be bigger, better, faster, and more.

We have gotten lost in the glitter of fame, thinking that that is the love we need, that the money is the support we need, and that power is the path to happiness.

LIke everything else in life, if you try to cheat the system it won’t feel nearly as authentic.

You will feel like a fraud.

And hey, if being a fraud still makes you rich and you can find your happiness in that wealth then boss.

You do you.

 

We have a new pantheon of gods in our modern world. Similar to how many niche saints we are.

Gods of wealth.

Gods of power.

Gods of fame.

Gods with no names, no faces, no bodies, just some invisible will that we can call upon.

We have taken to looking to others for so much of our lives that now we want these imaginary gods to step in and lift us up.

Where real faith can guide us or encourage us, this fool’s faith simply encourages us to keep still and wait for you to get what you deserve.

Watching other people’s lives via videos and pictures and stories and believing they have it so much better than you because we can’t see the clutter that’s just out of frame.

The mess that exists in everyone’s lives.

 

Oh lord, oh god, oh great and mighty whoever you are, gimme what I want-need-gotta have because I deserve it.

 

Only, we are better than that.

Stronger than that.

We can accomplish so much if we trust in ourselves and our own power

And if faith can guide you then swell.

False gods will do nothing though but distract you and derail you.

The thing about life is we are not made to get all that we desire.

We have to make choices.

Make sacrifices.

That’s what makes the things we DO get, that we EARN and work for, so special and meaningful.

We will have days where we will wonder What If but the fact is that all we can do is forge the best life for ourselves and go from there.

And no faceless god of fortune can make that happen.

You can.

And there’s the rub.

 

…c…

(I write books. Go to the links and check them out).

 

Good Grief

Grief is a different monster for every person. To some it is robed and silent, watching from a distance, for others it is hulking and ever-present, pushing in on every breath. Everyone experiences it and it’s lifequakes differently. There is not a right way to go through grief and until you get into self-harm and self-destruction it gets blurry as to what the wrong way to deal with it is. You just – deal with it. The best you are able to. The last thing anyone can do is tell you how to go through it. That amounts to telling someone with their eyes closed how to navigate a room with no light. Sure, you can point things out and give ‘tips’ but in the end the person has to find their way forward for themselves.

The thing with grief though is it isn’t an enemy.

It isn’t a villain.

Even though we see it that way it is but a pale sheet in the form of the thing we loved and lost, ever with us, step by step and hand in hand. We can embrace it or fight it and it’s that decision which forms what it becomes to us.

It is as featureless as the pain we feel, forming its face to match our hearts.

Angry.

Sad.

Outraged.

Heartbroken.

Guilty.

Comforted.

Continue reading “Good Grief”

The Truth

So this here is a true story, with, obviously, the name of the person I am going to refer to removed.

I don’t write this thinking it will change someone, or change how they see the world, or change their mind on what they believe.

I write these blogs, as I have said, as my own statement of how I see the world.

Nothing more.

I hope that if something profound finds its way here then someone gets something from it but I don’t count on it or assume it will happen.

Life isn’t that way.

So.

My story.

 

As we all have seen and experienced, the internet is a wonderful and horrifying place.

No need to go deeper than that because we all know it.

There has always been the dark alleyways and the overgrown and wild places.

And there have always been people lying to us.

On dating profiles, in our emails, on websites, and on and on.

Lying isn’t new to the web.

It just wasn’t weaponized as efficiently as it has been in recent years.

There’s suddenly two strains of people running the mean streets of the web – the trolls and the goblins. I dunno if goblin is a proper term but to me it feels right.

Trolls are the angry idiots that get upset at every last thing and want to make sure you know it.

By god it’s their world and we’re just taking up space in it.

Goblins, again, my term, are the people who get paid to sell lies and untruths – even if that pay is in glee.

Trolls are ugly, are horrible, but goblins are the more dangerous because their lies have enough of the truth in them to draw in people looking for answers and desperate to have the world explained to them, even if that explanation seems like a long drink of madness.

 

I had a friend who fell prey to the darkness of the web. Whether its trolls or goblins that tricked him I can’t say because there’s a point where both factions fight on the same field, shoulder to shoulder because all either side wants to do is burn down the world, at least the parts of if that don’t ascribe to the world they see.

My friend was an angry guy who had the intelligence, skills, and charisma to get a lot further in life than he found himself but every frustration, every setback, every challenge only deepened his bitterness and anger and showed him that the game was rigged, the rules hacked, and the world was against him.

I can’t tell you what set him off.

Was it his folks splitting up?

Was it a girl doing him wrong?

Was it a job that lead him astray?

I dunno, but if I think about it for a moment I can see that he was always broken, I just hadn’t realized how broken he was and overlooked the cracks.

Maybe out of friendship.

Maybe because I saw my own cracks more clearly.

Or maybe because it’s just hard to admit to the darkness you find in someone’s heart.

That was my friend.

A lot of us saw personalities traits that were damaged but we overlooked them.

Overlooked them until he found himself lost with no way for us to reach him any longer.

 

He had called me one night to tell me that he saw a UFO hanging still in the sky. It was something he couldn’t explain and he wanted me to see it. He rushed over and we got my binoculars out and we looked and he was right. It was a lighted object in the sky a bit off just hanging still and silent. He claimed he’d seen another but I didn’t see it. And it was weird but if it was of origins of another world I wouldn’t commit. He was certain though. When my wife returned home later that night and I told her she gave me the easy and obvious answer – it was a police helicopter near the scene of a shooting.

Ahh.

This was the point where my former friend began moving away from the rest of us.

He began diving into YouTube and the web for answers.

UFOs.

Golden Ratios.

Divine Truths.

Hidden Meanings.

Hidden Agendas.

Conspiracies.

And finally, a flat earth.

 

When he began talking about all of this we laughed. It was crazy. Who would believe that?

That the earth was flat?

He did.

Everything seemed to come clear to him – there was a vast conspiracy to lie to us about how our world was under a dome, on a disc, and that there was an alien presence that ran the show. Governments were in collusion. There was no moon landing. The truth was hidden in nature but we just wouldn’t see it. Divinity existed, even for someone who had once been an atheist, and it was all around us.

Taken together it was beyond madness.

It was illogical.

I don’t have to believe in everything that everyone does.

My belief only has bearing on me.

The thing is though that once you start denying truths that have been proved over and over and over again, choosing instead to believe in the harder story, the stranger story, I have a problem.

We proved the earth was flat back when there were only manually operated scientific instruments and the courage of people to see what happens when you sailed further than was reasonable.

We have proven over and over and over certain things.

The thing though is that there are people who are so damaged that they believe the whole world is lying to them, is against them, and is conspiring to make them fools.

They will buy into any lie that tells them they are right.

Flat-Earthers are the sore thumbs that stick out the most but the notion incels have that women owe them sex and companionship, the notion gamergaters have that videogames should be only white and hyper-masculine, or that some religious people have that anyone that does not fall into the binary heterosexual lifestyle is sick.

We are in an era where the lies have become bigger than the truths because we take the truth for granted.

We take it as an obvious thing.

Too many others don’t.

Even if they may believe, deep down, that the world isn’t how they see it, by god, they will do whatever it takes to make it into what they believe.

It’s the last efforts of someone, of a group of people, losing their grip on a shifting landscape.

Losing connection to a world they don’t feel they can control.

It is what someone desperate does.

They revert to the cold comfort of hate and ignorance because there is nothing better, nothing that feels purer than the simple act of being against the norm.

By god, you won’t change me.

I won’t let you change my mind, my heart, or my body.

This has become a scary world.

A scary country.

We want freedom…for us and those we love.

We want rights, for ourselves.

We want knowledge, for the things we feel are right.

We hide behind gods and politicians and blame them when our truths are shown to have holes.

We are a broken people with no desire to patch ourselves up.

 

Our friends went so far out to sea that we couldn’t reach him.

One night I tried to connect with him, went to pick him up and hang out and he asked on the way to my house if it was an intervention.

It wasn’t, and sadly, I was the last of his friends to care enough to even reach out to him.

I had thought we’d watch something on TV, talk, and just have fun.

He had other ideas.

He had made up a PowerPoint presentation to show me his beliefs and, presumably, to convert me.

Alas, as soon as he started it he lost me.

I can reason out a lot of the mysteries he was fascinated by and those that I couldn’t weren’t enough to drive me towards declaring wrong things that science had already proven out.

And that was it.

I remained his friend until he started to get aggressive online any time someone questioned his claims and his YouTube links. His answers came in the form of other people’s diatribes posted online or videos that were supposed to prove out things that had already been proven hundreds of years earlier.

Nothing would break through.

He had made his choice.

I should have seen it coming.

He had quit his jobs.

He had moved into what was essentially a hovel in a sketchy part of town.

He sold his car and just rode his bike.

He cut off everyone who didn’t see the world the way he did.

It all added up to someone removing themselves from society.

That isn’t always a bad thing, at all, but taken with his world views, it’s a dangerous thing.

And I find now that I worry about him, and about what he has become.

He’s not yet 40 and has already given up on people.

I don’t know what sort of future he has.

Just day after day after day.

Fighting a world that you can’t convince, though I think if he did he’d probably change again.

Better to be alone and righteous than surrounded and part of the herd.

 

And I can’t help but think that the trolls and goblins online preyed upon him as they prey upon anyone broken enough to look for truth and answers from random strangers with a video account or people with a website…or book…or some sort of bully pulpit.

Act as if you have authority and knowledge and you will call the weak and fallen to you like lost lambs.

Look around and you see it. Facebook is still full of wolves in sheep’s clothing. Websites that JUST want a little info that they swear they won’t sell. Maybe.

Social sites that want your feedback as they tell you what other people voted…the man behind the curtain a firm that is using your data to preach to you about a specific topic, dressed up as hard journalism.

We all get conned.

Some of us worse than others.

We want to believe.

In ourselves, in others, and the world.

Alas, the world has gotten uglier and it’s gotten easier to fool strangers for fun and profit.

And when our leaders are part of that system of lies, when they profit from it and excel because of it there is no one to help guide us back to reasonable truth.

It’s a lot more comforting to be a zealot than it is to be part of the pack.

And so few want the drama of speaking up and correcting people.

So few want to deal with the trouble of this world that the lies get grander and sink deeper until you start to wonder – but what if…

Everyone has an agenda, we figure, and everyone is on the take.

Every great movement has holes in its base which people pick at until the whole of it falls apart.

ALL this are ALL of that.

There are no grays, just black and white and red all over.

God is dead in a world full of Judases.

And we’re bound to lose friends when the truth of people comes out.

Because how do you look past deep-seated ignorance, or abuse, or bigotry, or sexism, or hatred, or any of the ugly parts of ourselves that we all have an ounce of in us?

How do you forgive someone who wants to see the world burn so they can feel warmed by its fire?

 

In this area of truth, the only thing we can depend on is that truth is malleable and changing and that you have to go with your heart to find what is truest of all and even then you have to look deeper at whether you too might just be wrong.

 

…c…

Where We Come From

All of us, whether we acknowledge it or not, come from somewhere.

Some of us hold where we come from in high regards, spouting off to whomever will listen about our grand background and lineage.

Others of us will act as if we sprung from the darkness fully formed, tied to nothing and owing nothing to anyone.

Each of us has a past though, a beginning, and it is that beginning that forms the foundation of who we are to become and what we have to overcome.

I was lucky.

I don’t think I saw it as a kid because when you are in the middle of a part of your life you cannot see past that moment.

I know I didn’t.

I was lucky.

I had a mother that was artistic, loving, and into scary stuff.

I have a father who was a smart business man and a straight shooter.

I have a sister and cousin who encouraged my imagination with scary stories and scares.

I grew up out in the country on a street where I was across from a field and had woods on both ends of the lake we lived on.

We had an island in the middle of the lake and I had friends who I would swim with when we weren’t riding our bikes until late.

No childhood is perfect, and no one survives childhood without scars but it’s the scars that help teach us about the world around us.

It’s the scars that teach us about life.

My parents weren’t perfect.

My sisters wasn’t perfect.

Hell, I wasn’t perfect.

I am still not.

No one is.

But I was loved, and I was taken care of, and I survived.

Sometimes that is what you have to do with childhood – survive it.

Get through it.

For me, it was about survival.

I had to survive myself and the hell of adolescence.

But I did.

Not all of us do, but I did.

Writing, and drawing, and watching movies, and making movies, and spending time with my friends got me through things.

It got me to the point where I could find myself and make myself when I went to college.

It got me to the point where I could start to make and re-make myself, flawed as I am, and could find people who would encourage, enlighten, and make my life mean so much more.

We all take this journey forward, from childhood to adulthood and to what comes afterward, and none of us will take the same path.

People can put all manner of expectations and demands and dreams on our backs but it’s we who decide what made this life worthwhile and happy.

And most of us will face death unfulfilled, realizing the things we didn’t see as they faced us – the time we should of spent, the love we should have shared, and the things we should have done.

But we do the best we are able.

Maybe it’s faith that guides you.

Maybe it’s love.

Maybe it’s just you, chug, chug, chugging along.

All of us are on this journey though, and we are on it together.

So easily we miss the pain of those around us.

The love.

The heartache.

The heartbreak.

We are so wrapped up in our personal stories that we forget that we are all in this together, more similar than different, our journeys all our own but the paths all heading towards some manner of happiness.

We live in an angry, hurtful, hateful world that has become moreso in recent years.

We accept lies told from the highest seats so long as it soothes us and tells us that things will be OK.

We turn our backs on one another for fear of losing the place we hold in society, terrified that change means loss, and loss means failure, and that we will be forced to admit that maybe we aren’t special, we are just as special as we believe ourselves to be.

The lie of this life is to believe that we are special above and beyond all others.

That we are chosen, because of our faith, color, sexuality, creed, wealth, or some other arbitrary reasoning that makes us feel as if we have a set path, a golden path to the salvation of our choosing.

Heaven, we are told, is waiting.

If we follow the right person, pay the right money, and do the right things.

Only, this sort of salvation is paved with brimstones.

Turning the back on the ideal and way of the savior as they listen to the words of someone with an agenda.

With a job.

With a golden lie.

Salvation is in moving the human race and the world forward.

Salvation is in honoring this planet and its creatures and the magic they hold.

Salvation is in finding the things you love, the people you love, and the causes you love and supporting them and working to make yourself a whole person.

A person of love, and happiness, and faith in something beyond yourself.

And happiness will come and go.

Love will come and leave.

But all of it builds who we are.

Who we can be.

What sort of world is built on hatred?

THIS world.

This fragile, collapsing world where the biggest bomb will win a temporary stay of execution so that those people can die last, alone and damned to dine on cinder and ash.

What god would tell you to hate, when it was love that unites us?

And we will not love all people.

We will not love all things.

But we must learn to live together, to find it in ourselves to accept one another, and even if we disagree, to find the common ground of humanity because hate has no future.

I was lucky enough to be born in a world of privilege, of skin, race, sex, family income, and location.

I was lucky enough to survive myself and my teen years.

I was bullied.

I spent more time hating myself than I can count but I survived.

WE survive.

I had people that helped me survive.

I had things that I loved that helped me survive.

I saw people not as my enemies but as people.

I didn’t have to like them, at all, but I didn’t have to actively try to hurt them either.

I had my heart broken, time and again.

But I survived.

No one owed me their love.

No one owed me their body.

I owed myself the strength to move on and move forward.

I guess I was lucky because no one taught me to not hate women, to not hate people of other races and creeds and nationalities, no one taught me not to hurt people that I either felt hurt me or that I felt should just hurt out of hand.

No one did but they should have.

We should teach our children that hate is a fuel that burns bright but dirty and it ruins everything it touches.

Love, even if it’s just the love of the self, is something that can lead you through the darkest of times, and we just don’t teach that.

Not in a way that seems relevant.

Instead we hate.

And we rant.

And we show the example that the only way to get ahead is to push down those around you and stand upon them as you climb higher.

We teach that you have to get yours and you deserve yours and that you are special above all others.

We don’t teach that we are all flawed, all struggling, and all deserve the opportunity to find our own happiness.

To do that would mean to admit that we need to step back sometimes and let someone else take the lead and that doesn’t mean we lose but that we don’t have to always win.

OR that we can win in different ways.

Or just that the path forward takes twists.

But we don’t.

We teach about money, and power, and fame.

We teach hate, and lust, and greed.

We teach that if you want that you deserve it and to hell with the person that doesn’t want to give it to you.

We let people build empires on lies.

We let people forge themselves into victims so they don’t have to feel guilty for their crimes.

We let ourselves turn this world into a timebomb that is tick, tick, ticking into oblivion.
But at least a few got theirs, right?

I was lucky in how I grew up.

I got a childhood.

An imperfect, messed up childhood.

But it was mine.

And I got an adulthood.

And it was mine, flawed as it is.

Damaged as I am.

A lot of people don’t get the opportunities I got.

And if we are not careful, a lot of people won’t get any opportunities at all very, very soon.

But at least we won’t be inconvenienced with giving a damn, right?

…c…