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…

 

School Grays

School Grays

Fair warning, this is a very long bloggy post.

After writing my last blog about Halloween I heard something that got me thinking, thinking about school and the way we treat school…and the way we treat our kids.

You would think that in 2015 we would be at a place where education was prized above almost everything else in America. Sure, wealth, fame, and power are all great but they are just tools and without the knowledge in how to wield those tools you will misuse and abuse them and regret the day you came across them. Oversimplifying? Yes. But I don’t believe it to be untrue. Education is the most important thing when you can step outside of the basic needs.

Continue reading “School Grays”

Asking Too Much

   Two posts in one day?

Outrageous.

YET TRUE!

So I got a funny letter in the mail the other day from my collegiate alma mater. Now, I have never been close with either my high school or the colleges I attended. I stayed away from the high school because I didn’t enjoy my time and didn’t have any interest in returning, and when I tried I wasn’t really someone they remembered any longer. My colleges I liked well enough I just didn’t have a reason to return. I worked for my alma mater for a short time and it ended and I didn’t have an interest in keeping the ties between them. I stayed in touch with the people that mattered and outside of that I didn’t much care. Since graduating though I have found it very funny that I suddenly get requests for donations from time to time, and each time I make sure to answer in some way.

See, here’s the deal –

When I graduated I did so with a BA. I was an English major and a writer and had no interest in teaching. There are too many teachers who don’t love what they do and because of that the students suffer. I wasn’t going to be that person too. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, heck, am just figuring it out now actually, but I knew what I didn’t want to do. No big deal. It was my degree and my responsibility to get a job. Well, I have rarely had a job where I was comfortable enough where I could contribute anything to anyone yet time and again I would get pleas from my alma mater to please, pleas, please donate to this cause or that, this program or that, or whatever they needed money for at the time. I take general umbrage with this because, frankly, they should do two things –

1. Keep track of your graduated students and what they are up to. Be involved with me and I may be involved with you.

2. When checking in on said graduates make sure they are in positions to actually donate. Sure, this may take a little more work but you can either do surveys or you can get a feel for whether they are in fields that they were looking at in school.

Why?

Because you get people like me that get very offended when you can barely make a living at the job you have and then you get pleas from a huge university for alms when they should be helping you try to get a darn job or get further.

Oh, and sure, they’ll help. If you join their membership groups and pay dues. Then you can mingle with other grads and hit them up for jobs directly. Awesome.

What makes things worse is that since graduating I have published books, maybe not great novels the school would be proud of but they are valid books, are real books, and they were written by one of their grads. Their interest is little and none. Yet they still feel they can pop up from time to time and ask me to support a student that wants to get into a writing program, or to help fund a writing scholarship or whatever it is. It drives me mad. You support the ‘children’ you helped make and then you support the ones that are not yet born. That’s how I feel in this case.

You need to give a damn that I was a student, am a graduate, and that I am working desperately to get my work out to the world. Help me do that and we’ll talk about your projects. I just can’t get too worked up to help someone when all I am is a number and a potential dollar sign. When that happens these institutions become little more than high profile beggars hitting up everyone on the street to see if they can get that much needed bus fare.

Nope.

Not from me.

When you can start caring about your students that didn’t set the world on fire but are working to make themselves, their families, their friends, their communities, and the universities themselves proud then I will care right back. There are plenty of glory hounds in college, the ones that get help and acclaim but don’t need it. It’s the students that fall between the cracks and disappear into the system that need the extra care and interest.

Start living up to your own standards, dear alma mater, and maybe I’ll start you off on an allowance. For now, go out in the yard and rake some leaves. It’s getting messy out there.