Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Sometimes I have a tendency to rewrite the events of the past. When I was in the middle of battling this "temptation" and engaged in the "struggle" I would sometimes convince myself that I was not fighting hard enough. I would tell myself that some part of me wanted to be gay and that I was allowing myself to be gay. Even now having somewhat come to terms with my sexuality there are times when I wonder if maybe I just didn't try hard enough. However, a look at the things I wrote just a couple of years ago reveal that this is not the case:
"Daily I struggle with feelings of inadequacy, a struggle against desires I don't want to have"
"I think if I continue to fight temptation and stay resolved my life will improve"
"I am struggling with something horrible inside of me and need to be receptive to healing. It is a daily struggle and sometimes I don't know how much longer I can bear it. I just want it to vanish or be destroyed"
"I realize that this journal will be read when I die. Let me clarify something. I do not want to be gay. I don't know if people can 'get over it' but I am going to try"
This is a very tiny sample revealing a glimpse of the turmoil I was going through. Looking back on the anguish I was in before I wonder how I accomplished anything in school. I also wonder how I was able to be so self absorbed. Did I not realize how much pain others were also enduring?
In my journals I rarely used the work gay or homosexual. I was much too closeted for that. I always alluded to a "great evil" or "temptation" or "this struggle". What I was referring to was the fact that I was sexually attracted to guys. I would get sucked into watching stuff on youtube (not even porn) and feel extremely guilty if not physically ill afterward. A lot of effort was put into trying to end this attraction. I will not go into what now seem comical lengths to overcome "this evil", but trust me when I say they were exhaustive. From working out, to befriending more straight guys, to praying for the lust to stop, I was desperate to try anything.
Monday, December 29, 2008
When I talk about faith I give the impression that I had an infantile faith in which I only demanded things from God. While that was a part of the story, it was far from the whole truth. First off, I was more begging and pleading than I was demanding for my attraction to change. Second, I was very passionate about God and Christ. I was determined not to be one of those "lukewarm" Christians and was inspired to be radical by the likes of Shane Claiborne.
While it is definitely true I was angry with God and relentless in my desire to change my sexual desires, this was not what my faith was about. Reading over the old posts made me realize that was the image I was presenting.
I just wanted to clarify. As I've mentioned before, these posts are just snapshots revealing a tiny portion of the dozens of conflicting thoughts bouncing around my head.
Gearing up for 2009 has seen me more earnestly work to simplify my life and clear out my physical space (apartment) and mental space (books I am working on, posts I am writing, topics I want to study). The bulk of my posts for January will be a purging of a dozen or so old posts that need to be completed. Some I will post with a January date and others will keep their original date. I don't want to make my "thought timeline" out of sync.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Liz: And meeting someone new, uh, all the nodding and smiling and sibling listing and what's the upside? It works and you have to have a bunch of sex?
Jack: Lemon, what do you want? Do you want to be alone for the rest of your life?
Liz: No, I just wish I could start a relationship about 12 years in when you really don't have to try anymore and you can just sit around together and goof on tv shows and then go to bed together without anybody trying any funny business.
Oh Liz Lemon, if you were real I would so marry you.
Friday, December 26, 2008
1. I was born in California
2. I went to 5 elementary schools
3. Airports are one of my favorite things
4. Spending the night in airports is not one of my favorite things
5. Old school Nickelodeon shows rock
6. Old school Disney shows (especially So Weird) rock
7. When I was a kid I read ever single Peanuts comic strip collection
8. I like the person I am today more than the person I was four years ago
9. I thought I was a pretty good person 4 years ago
10. When nobody's home I like to dance
11. I never dance in public
12. Buying things for people makes me happy
13. Bookstores are magical
14. Jamie Cullum songs speak to my soul
15. Singing at the top of my lungs to Brandi Carlile can dramatically alter my mood
16. The popcorn at Target always smells delicious but tastes disappointing
17. When I go to the movies I avoid wearing button fly jeans because they are awkward at urinals
18. Number 17 may have been TMI
19. One day I would like to have a scholarship named after me
20. I don't like hot liquids (though I can manage hot tea when abroad, chamomile is my favorite)
21. Tommy was my favorite Power Ranger.
22. I have had a crush on Matthew Lawrence since Super Human Samurai Cyber Squad
23. Forrest Gump always makes me teary-eyed
24. You've Got Mail is my favorite romantic comedy
25. Emperor's New Groove is my favorite movie of all time
26. I would like to learn Arabic
27. Traveling the world has a permanent place on my "to do" list
28. Mexico is my next international destination (followed by Turkey)
29. I was a Royal Ranger
30. Veggie Tales amuse me
31. Esther is my favorite book of the Bible
32. Not auditioning for the school play is my only high school regret
33. High school was kind to me
34. Middle school was not kind to me
35. College was awesome
36. I'm pretty sure grad school is going to kick ass.
37. Eliminating global hunger is a dream of mine
38. I don't do enough to help those in need
39. Making this list is harder than I thought it would be
40. Express is the source of 80% of my work attire
41. One of my biggest fears is getting fat
42. I weigh 152 pounds
43. I am short, 5'8 (rounding up)
44. Skechers are my favorite shoes
45. I used to work in a shoe store
46. CST is my favorite time zone
47. 12+ books need to be read (most are new)
48. Writing a book is another life goal
49. Pinecar Derbies are awesome
50. Camping is not awesome
51. I prefer the mountains to the beach
52. I've never been drunk and don't care that much for alcohol
53. Margaritas are an exception
54. My iMac brings me joy
55. I have a Miley Cyrus song in my iTunes library
56. Kids would be nice in the very distant future
57. Living abroad is something I dream about
58. Every now and then I dream of being independently wealthy
59. A Lexus iS would be sweet
60. I will probably buy a Honda Fit
61. My car is named Rhonda and I plan on staying together until death do us part
62. Ephraim is one my favorite boy's names
63. Jasmine is one of my favorite girl's names
64. I am hyper competitive at board games
65. I hate it when my roommate beats me at Scrabble because it hurts my ego
66. Vampire Weekend is super white, but super awesome
67. Oxford commas are amazing
68. Rollercoasters bring me joy
69. The ability of Americans to queue up astounds me
70. I can eat an entire 7oz. Hershey's bar in one day
71. Thin Mint girl scout cookies are delicious
72. I spend an unhealthy amount of time on YouTube
73. Cookies in general are a big part of my life
74. I use an aluminum water bottle now
75. This was going to be a 100 item list, but I am tired.
Friday, December 19, 2008
There are a few more big topics that I would like to discuss soon. It will take a while to gather my thoughts so don't expect anything soon. After reviewing some previous posts it came to my attention that the word "I" is used a lot on this blog. While it's understandable, I can't help but think about what my elementary school teachers said about using too many "I's" when writing sentences. They were very much against it.
The recession has hit my company. After a big announcement I am still fortunate enough to have a job. However, if the economy does not turn around there is a good chance I could get the boot. As one of the newest employees in my area there is a good chance I would be the first to go - LIFO style. All I can do now is pack a lunch more often and make sure I am debt free. No need to be broke and unemployed.
Obama's choice of Rick Warren has been on my mind, but I am not too passionate about it. It was very politically savvy.
Tuesday night I saw Milk with a friend of mine. We went along with an older gay couple. While I still have an aversion to gay-themed things, I must confess I had a wonderful evening. I stopped by their place first after work and then we all headed to dinner. After dinner was the movie (highly recommended) followed by conversation at their house. They have been together a decade (if not more) and it was interesting to hear their stories. Like me, they came from very conservative Christian homes. L actually taught in California when Prop 6 was being pushed. He taught in a fundamental Christian school and lived his gay life in secret. He told the story of receiving a teacher of the year award from the school and the proceeding to have a small breakdown afterwards due to the stress of living a "double life". S is very successful at his job and does a lot to help those in need. Still, he is not out to his coworkers and must keep a large part of his life a secret. I found both of these stories sad. Nevertheless they are happy today and it was great to see a non-stereotypical gay couple. It does help give me hope for the future.
This is very random, but I feel like sharing. There is a lot of cheesy Christian music out there, but if you are interested in something high quality I have some recommendations:
Jonny Lang - Turn Around
Jars of Clay - Good Monsters
Jason Morant - Abandon
Jason Morant -Open
Sara Groves - Add to the Beauty
This may sound strange due to my current state of affairs, but I still listen to the music as it comes on my iTunes quite frequently.
See you soon.
Monday, December 15, 2008
Work continues to go well. I am fortunate to have a job (that I like) and although our company is hurting, I don't feel at risk of losing my job. However, I am going to watch my spending a bit more and try to squirrel away some money in case 2009 does see me unemployed.
My brother is back in the States with his lovely fiancé. They are quite cute together. I bought her a couple of sweaters since Mexico is a bit warmer than here. She loved them and said I have great taste, what can I say? She also wondered why my brother did not dress as nice as me. I found it amusing. Having extra money to spend on wardrobe is quite nice.
I am going to get a new haircut! My hair is not that styleable, but I think I can make a new look work. For those of you know me in real life (if you even care) I will try to include a new photo when I relaunch my Facebook account. Wow, that whole paragraph was really vain.
Plans for moving next spring have been set! A coworker needs a roommate and I think it will work splendidly. Now, I can see the worried look on some of your faces. There will not be any conflicts with work. She works in a different building (across town) and reports to a completely different management team.
Next month I am going to the optometrist and getting new frames. This always excites me.
This week at work we are having a door decorating contest. I have gotten very into it. It's going to be great!
This morning I intentionally mismatched my socks. This was to counter the socks I unintentionally mismatched last week. One was tan, the other cocoa.
Saturday the family leaves for vacation! This is only the third family vacation we have ever had and the second I can remember. My brother and I told my parents we were going to have a marathon session of Disney parks to make up for the crushed dreams of our youth.
The Wall-E soundtrack is delightful.
That is all.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
I have experienced grace. What I mean is the feeling above described by Paul Tillich. My experience with grace came last Easter. I was coming out of a spiritual funk and during church I started crying. It was during the time that I was ready to come out to my family and the emotion was overwhelming. I was sad, angry, and confused, but the feeling of grace overwhelmed me and I knew everything would be okay.
Amazing Grace. For a long time I never really understood that song and felt weird singing about it because I did not like to admit that I was a wretch. I never felt like a bad guy. Of course, I know I am not perfect. I guess I just felt that saying you were a wretch was a bit harsh. Plus, from where I stood I was morally superior to most of the people in my life.
Now my faith is radically different than it was before. It lacks the black and white that I had before. I fought through nihilism over the summer to reach the point I am at today. However, I am not sure where that is.
I grew up in a very conservative Christian home. The fall from this conservative Christianity was brutal. I just finished reading a great book by Peter Gomes: The Scandalous Gospel of Jesus. It was written for people new to the Christian faith and to people like me who have fallen out of conservative/evangelical Christianity. I can't think of anything in particular I took away from it, but nevertheless I recommend it. I have a hard time evaluating my previous Christian faith. I know it was quite self-centered and immature and dealt a lot with me failing in sin (being attracted to guys) and asking God to heal me. A lot of it was me being angry at God for withholding my dreams from me. I thought he was punishing me. However, my firm belief in there being "a plan (Providence)" allowed me to bear the suffering for years. My faith was also about works, and I tried to be a force for good in the world. However, I don't know how much of that was really tied to Christianity.
Today I am trying to live a moral life. I find this is a lot harder than I ever imagined. It requires, like Jesus said, "mercy not sacrifice". This does not mean that sacrifice is unnecessary, it just means mercy trumps it. I am now much more cognizant of my actions and the way my life impacts others. I have always had a passion for volunteering and a soft spot for immigrants. I'm working on increasing the time I give to others. Now that my life has become more devoted to morality I wonder what's the point? If there is no God, I don't believe in salvation through Jesus Christ, and I am highly skeptical about there being anything after this life, why should I care about this world? Shouldn't I just do everything I can to ensure my security, protection, and comfort?
No. I love creation. I want to build community. I want to share grace with the world. I want to usher in a messianic age (to borrow from Reform Judaism). Many people say that you can't be moral without believing in God. Maybe that's true. Maybe atheists don't know the source of their goodness.
I don't believe in cheap grace. It seems to me that many Christians (myself included) have a tendency to do immoral things and treat them as a "stumble", but that's all well and good because Jesus forgives. Now that Jesus has lost that role in my life, I find all of my decisions have a lot more gravity. Before I speak a slanderous word I mull it over. I realize that I will be living with the consequences. I can't just hide my conscience behind the cross.
I very much want to be a follower of Christ and I very much want to believe in God. However, I don't really believe in the theistic God that I held on to for so long. I also don't buy into the doctrine and dogma peddled by the church over the millennia. Lately I am especially irked by Augustine, Calvin, and rapture "theology". I feel so much hatred simmering when it comes to evangelical Christians and fundamentalists. I want to wake them up but would hate for their beliefs to crumble as mine have. It's not like I have anything better to offer them.
I like religion. I really, really do. I am a constant seeker and studier. I still pray, though prayer life has been severely damaged by my feeling of God's departure. Seeing all the hate and ignorance in the world I often wonder if it would just be better to jettison religion altogether. However, I am not the biggest fan of secularism.
This post didn't go anywhere and I am sorry to be so bitter and blunt.
I will leave you with one thing to mull over. During church today we talked about how easy it is to "love humanity, but no one in particular". So true.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
A few weeks ago I was reading this article and was caught off-guard by this line:
"And, just as JPL pitched in to help create Wall-E, now the movie's DVD release will help NASA name its newest robot: NASA announced a naming contest for its Mars Science Laboratory rover scheduled for launch in 2009. This will be JPL's biggest robot to date -- about the size of a compact car, compared to the kitchen table-size Phoenix."
"Kitchen table-size?" How big is that? What kind of measurement system is that? Does this table have leaves? How many? Is it a table in a formal dining room? Is it eat-in kitchen size or breakfast nook size? I am not satisfied with this description!
I thought this was a rather odd, yet hilarious way to describe an object's size.
Monday, December 8, 2008
Ironically, I am here today to make the same statement. However, it must be tweaked to say "god is dead" for the God I worshiped so long was an idol. He was an old man god, anthropomorphic, picking up fallen sparrows and doling out wrath and smitings.
As I continue on my "faith journey" (conservative Christian vocabulary) I am unsure of where I am going.
However, there are a few things I do believe. I believe in resurrection; new life from what was once a corpse. I have seen and felt it in my own life. I believe in casting off the things that have weighed us down. I believe in humility. I believe in charity. I believe in justice. I believe in mercy. I believe in grace. I believe that despite evidence to the contrary there is more to life than what we see. I believe in transcendence. Tomorrow offers hope. Tomorrow offers new life. With resurrection comes insurrection, a casting off of the old order and the building of something new and better.
As I have mentioned before, God and I have been wrestling it out, and I think I have emerged from the fight, limping and a bit disoriented, but understanding things I never did before.
I will not apply a label to what I am now: atheist, agnostic, deist, christian atheist, Christian, liberal Christian, liberal Quaker - I don't think any of these are fully applicable.
This has not been easy. I have always considered myself an intelligent person and have pursued understanding and knowledge with a passion. However, it appears I had neglected to apply this same trait to religion. I will not fault my parents for raising me in a conservative Christian home. They were doing what they thought was best. Growing up there was no "metaphorical" interpretation of biblical events. As a child I converted cubits to feet to see if a full-size brontosaurus would fit on the ark. God really led his people out of Egypt with a pillar of fire and a pillar of smoke. Jesus was coming and the rapture was real. A younger me would often fear Jesus would come before I had a chance to grow up and that I would not get to experience being an adult.
I have come a long way from the faith I had as a child, yet I don't know what or where I am going to end up. Atheists seem so arrogant and agnostics so Charlie Brownish in their convictions.
All I know is this:
Sunday, December 7, 2008
The biggest struggle I currently face is overcoming my desire to buy things. I am hyper-materialistic. I love things. Shiny, new things. I will openly confess that I also want money, lots and lots of money. I can easily see myself becoming a millionaire and traveling the world floating from one luxury hotel to another.
The question that arises is why? Why do I want all this stuff? There are two main reasons. The first is to impress people. I enjoy complements and desire people to admire the crap I own. Second, a part of me still thinks things will make me happy. It's true. I feel entitled to things that will "make my life wonderful". Funny, my DVD collection contains movies never watched, and the Wii with several awesome titles sits unused. The idea that these things are adding value to my life is nonsense. Any joy they bring is fleeting.
I used to attribute my financial blessings to God and was so wrapped up in praising the blessing I kind of forgot about the source. I cannot begin to describe the changes that have occurred in my heart over the past 4 years. Back then I would not have realized how immature I was. I am quite certain that future Joseph looking back 4 years from now will be equally astonished at the growth that has occurred.
My motto for 2009 is "Here's to less". There is no need to purchase everything my heart desires. Soothing existential emptiness with stuff is idiotic. Drawing the line about how much constitutes "less" is still tough. What constitutes "enough" to where I don't feel the things I have are causing me to live immorally? I very much like my Burt's Bee's lip balm, J. Crew peacoat, and P.F. Chang crispy honey chicken. Also, a new digital SLR camera is hopefully in my future.
In seeking an answer to this question about balancing giving and having I asked my father. For several weeks I had been debating buying a new peacoat. I ended up buying it but was torn for quite some time. Lately, giving has not been the priority I had told myself it would be. In talking to my father he made the statement "it's not the coat's fault". Buying the coat does not prevent me from giving to the poor. It does not prevent me from volunteering or helping widows and orphans. He also stated guilt should not motivate my giving. Referencing the sermon on the mount he implied that the hand that shops should not know what the hand that is helping those in need is doing. I love my parents.
Moving forward I will strive to have a more generous heart. Slowly but surely I will keep changing and growing into the person I want to be. Hopefully the worst side of me can slowly be killed.
Friday, December 5, 2008
It is amazing how much has changed in such a short period of time. In 2006 I came out to the first person ever. It was a girl I had become best friends with. Everyone thought we were going to get married. In fact, I spent a lot of time agonizing over whether or not to marry her. That's another story for another day, maybe.
Fast forward to now. I am relatively comfortable with my sexuality and more and more people know. This has moved from consuming all of my thoughts and energy to just being a part of who I am.
It has been interesting growing as an individual. It has been painful.
After regaining my sanity and mending my soul I was still left in the midst of rubble. Most of my dreams had gone up in flames. The fire consumed the dream of a wife and kids, my midtown home, hosting the church home group, my heirs. However, it did not stop there. It continued to consume my faith and all the assumptions and convictions I had previously held.
I refuse to live life afraid of the future. Daily I will strive to overcome cynicism and my own ego in order to make a positive impact on the world.
Sunday, November 30, 2008
First off, I was not as successful during NANOWRIMO as I had hoped. However, I did much better than I did than last year.
The reactions to the outcome of the election almost caused me to lose all hope in humanity. If I had to read one more Facebook status mentioning "how far we strayed" as a nation in God's eyes I would have lost my mind or been arrested for assaulting horribly misguided people with a big stick.
I was convicted this month about my spending by a friend who rarely offers critique. I am redoubling my efforts to get out of debt. The fact that I have any right now is a shame.
Facebook and I decided to take a break. I will probably come back in 2009, but we just needed some time apart. I was spending an unhealthy amount of time on it and needed to disengage.
I did something I don't regret, but I do regret the motivation for doing it. I asked someone out for the first time. I was rejected, but not offended or hurt. He was gracious and I have learned an important lesson about listening to myself instead of the voices of others. I will also not let jealousy of others lead to me to such rash decisions in the future.
I have finally decided that the idea of me buying a house is utterly ridiculous. I do not need to take on that burden and at the age of 22 there is no need for me to own a house in the first place.
I am headed out of town for work and it's going to be cold and snowy. I bought some gloves.
I have been thinking a lot about faith/God/religion lately and will probably be posting a few things that I have written over the past few weeks.
It's good to be back.
Friday, October 31, 2008
I flew back from Ohio today. It was much nicer than anticipated and I am eager to return. On the flight back I was in a good mood and feeling a little romantic. I better bust out Pride and Prejudice!
After seeing a parade of 6 year olds in adorable Halloween costumes, I have decided I want to have kids someday. Well, I am least open to it. We will see what happens.
There will be much to talk about when I return (I assume), but in the meantime all of my energy will be redirected this month into a special project. I will most likely cheat and save posts to draft, but NO PUBLISHING. I must remain strong.
Goodnight and good luck.
Monday, October 27, 2008
Church of The River is located on the banks of the Mississippi and from the sanctuary you can see the river as well as the bridge trains use to cross (it's pretty darn impressive). The covenant of the church affirms:
"The purpose of this church shall be to promote the high ideals of a rational, progressive, and exalting religion, in the love of God and in service to our fellow human beings, and to hold regular church services in this community. To this end all activities of the church shall be conducted without distinctions related to race, color, or previous religious affiliation; and the right of private judgment and the sacredness of individual conviction shall be recognized in all things".
Unitarian Universalist churches do not subscribe to any doctrine or dogma. The goal is the growing of souls and to know in deeper ways what is good and true, beautiful and holy, and what they require of us in our daily living and service to others.
Needless to say, I was a bit apprehensive. It sounded like it could have cult potential or at the very least be full of wacky, hippie liberals.
As I walked up I was a bit nervous. They had a welcome team that I passed by. They were chatting and standing next to a big bulletin board type stand full of nametags. Everyone at the church has a nametag. After exploring a bit I turned back and asked them if I should get a visitor's tag. They provided me one and told me where to go.
As I sat waiting I was struck by how old the people in the congregation were. At first I was afraid nobody under the age of 50 was going to be coming in. Even by the end of the service I saw only two people who may have been my age. At the church I am a member of, there are very few people over the age of 50. In fact, nearly all are in their 20's and 30's. Also, my current church is pretty diverse race wise, but the Unitarian church was a bit white.
I was not used to the hymns or the communal reading. Having last experienced that over a decade ago when we attended a Presbyterian church, the slow nature of the service caught me off guard. The actual sermon was short, but good. It was odd not hearing references to Christ and sacrifice, but it was a good message. It was uplifting and made me think.
Something very odd did happen while I was there. As I was greeting my neighbors, I asked the lady on my right how long she had been coming here. She replied "forever, I was born Unitarian". This blew me away. I must say, while I understand the concept of people having different religions (three of my best friends are Sikh, Muslim, and Hindu) a part of me still feels these are people who have rejected the divinity of Christ and are living with some inner conflict about leaving the one true religion. I know that sounds odd, but it's true. I suppose I assume everyone has had some extended dark night of the soul like me, and emerged with a new, albeit different, faith.
I don't know if I will be going back in the future. Next Sunday I am helping throw a gala! Therefore, I will not be attending church. I will be headed out of town for the remainder of the week, so I will post this coming weekend. Pura vida.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
I know I need to leave my church, but I don't want to. I don't know where else to go and I don't want to be without a meaningful religious community. Also, we have not even had a falling out. The sermon on homosexuality was surprisingly moderate with an emphasis on welcoming those in the "homosexual lifestyle". I am the one who changed. I must move on.
Change is hard. I don't like it. At church I serve on the welcome team and set up the tables for coffee twice a month. I enjoy it. Everyone at the church is friendly and a dozen of my friends are regular attendees. The teaching is solid for a church that believes in a literal Garden of Eden and whose OT training spoke of Saul speaking to a ghost and the sun standing still as actual events. (They also stated the destruction in Joshua was God treating sin like cancer. It must be eradicated before it spreads.)
I have to tell the Welcome Team coordinator that I am leaving, but I have not worked up the courage. It's like when I had to tell my piano teacher I was quitting lessons. A sense of dread and guilt built up inside.
A part of me thinks I should keep going. I would not have to lie to my parents or provide some excuse when they ask where I went to church when we meet up for Sunday lunch. I also could still see my friends and not have to face the challenge and uncertainty of finding new community.
However, this is silly. I can't sing the praise songs anymore. I can't get riled up about the evils of "moral relativism" and pluralism. I can't keep pretending I agree with their doctrine. I can't keep skipping every communion Sunday.
I know this is kind of negative, but I assure you I will be working to keep it upbeat in the future. Soon I shall start chronicling my adventures in church searching. Stay tuned.
Saturday, October 25, 2008
I really have the best intentions of delving into serious subjects but I keep putting it off.
Life right now is pretty grand but I am constantly struggling to be a better version of myself on a daily basis. I just take it a day at a time and realize it is not my job to save the whole world. I work to be a better friend, son, brother, neighbor, and employee.
Tonight I saw High School Musical 3. It was great. It's nothing Oscar-worthy, but it was entertaining.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
"I feel like I'm taking crazy pills!" - Mugatu
Do you ever have conversations that make you feel you are the only sane person on the planet? The other person's views are so opposite of yours that you find it hard to fathom you are actually having the conversation?
I was having a frank chat about sex with a friend the other day. I am a very modest person and don't really talk about sex or even joke about sex with people. I never say, even in a joking matter, that I want to "do things" to a guy or that I want to have sex with someone. I don't mind commenting on someone's attractiveness, but I don't ever make crude, vulgar, or even "off-color" statements. Maybe it's just my Puritan upbringing.
Anyhow, chastity is very important to me and I think it goes hand in hand with fidelity (which I also value STRONGLY). The friend I was talking to considers himself a virgin, which I found very strange. I believe that if you have been in a situation where you feared you might have contracted an STD, you have had sex. Yet, this person firmly believes that they are still a virgin. I am trying to avoid being blunt, but forget it. I consider oral sex, sex. I also don't think a "hand job" is just a "hand job" (quote from same friend). I was appalled! How can you be so cavalier about something so serious? When you share this kind of intimacy with someone you connect with them on a very deep level (scientifically and emotionally speaking). Your body physically makes a connection whether you think so or not. Casual sex does not exist (at least from the limited research I have seen). What I am saying is that many friends who try casual sex end up realizing it can't work. You usually end up developing an emotional connection too. I certainly know a lot of promiscuity exists. I just can't fathom sex without love. I also can't fathom someone's view of chastity being doing everything except having anal sex.
I know this is a rant, and maybe I am just old-fashioned and naive. However, I don't think so. I am not looking for any vulgar or inappropriate comments, but I would like to know if I am alone in these convictions. I know at least some of my fellow bloggers are on the same page, even if they are firm believers in sex being exclusively reserved for marriage between a guy and girl.
I don't know why I am asking for answers out here. I know perfectly well what my convictions are and they are not going to change. I don't look to others to define my own morality (a trait I find lacking in contemporary society). I will find someone who shares my convictions, period.
I just had to share. This post may be taken down once the modest part of myself decides to reread it. Once again, I apologize for the soap-box nature of this latest update.
Monday, October 20, 2008
I am continuing to clear out my draft posts. I have love, humility, faith, and heresy coming up. Be excited!
This post will be concluded by some non-serious thoughts.
How come I can't get hit on by cute, intelligent, moral, funny guys with integrity? I seem to attract creepy old men and promiscuous "shady gays". I got a haircut tonight and the guy cutting my hair was definitely intrusive with his questions and touched me a bit inappropriately. It was completely disturbing! I should have left as soon as I saw him working, but I didn't. It is just time to find a new haircut place.
Why do people think it is okay to compare homosexuality with alcoholism?
How come nobody does any research when it comes to politics or anything else that matters. I get made at Democrats and Republicans who refuse to see the other side of any issue and are woefully ignorant of their candidates stance on things. Abortion and gay rights seem to trump much more important issues like THE ECONOMY (this is true for Democrats and Republicans, my gay roommate seems to think Obama's stance on gay rights is the only reason he should vote for him). Still, I don't see anybody reading up on their candidates plans for NAFTA or working to understand which policies are best when it comes to international trade. People love ignorance, it is comfortable.
Pride is so dangerous. I try so hard to not be full of myself, but when I observe the absolute ignorance around me it is hard not to become smug about my own "sophistication" even though I am terribly ignorant myself.
I love spending time with people who lived through the civil rights movement and have stories to tell. It is even more interesting when they marched with MLK before his assassination during the sanitation strikes in my city.
This weather is amazing.
I am blessed. I have been given more than I could ever, ever ask for. I MUST continue to realize that everything I have is on loan and that tomorrow is not guaranteed. I pray for perspective and an ability to get over myself when narcissism sets in.
The thought of sweater shopping delights me!
The Macaroni Grill is tasty.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
I recently came to realize how cold I have become. It was a gradual process. I moved from finally tapping into my emotions this spring to gradually declining to my current state. It's as if I have a finite amount of emotion to expend, and I used all of it up in a matter of months. I don't really feel any more emotion welling up inside, instead it's just a lot of confusion. So many things have changed that I struggle to keep up. However, some days it is not a problem at all. I suppose it depends on how much time I take out of my day for introspection.
I don't know what I want out of the future, but I don't really want to think about it too much. I have some immediate goals, and a lovely goal of moving overseas for graduate school, but that is about it.
I am a bit weary these days. I have been trying to be better at building community, and it is exhausting. I find I don't have as much time for myself as I would like. I don't know if this is good or bad, it just is.
I will wrap this up with some other things that are on my mind.
Being a grown-up come with a heck of a lot of bills. It is a never ending onslaught. Also, why can't I say no when the magazine people call asking me to renew? I have a year's worth of Time, The Economist, Portfolio, and Business Week. I cannot read them fast enough!
Why, despite my best efforts can I never get to bed by 10:30?
How can my room always be so dusty?
* This is another one of my older posts that I felt a need to publish. I am not quite in the same place now since this was written over a month ago. I will work to give you all a bigger update on my current state in the very near future. Ms. Mills from the last post has helped thaw my heart a bit.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
This fortune was in my cookie last week. Immediately my thoughts leapt to Edinburgh, Ankarra, Dubai, Barcelona...some strange, enchanting place that would bring me a renewed perspective.
It turns out the "strange place" was within walking distance from my apartment.
Last Friday I volunteered with Meals on Wheels. Before you think of saying I am noble or charitable, I will confess that it was through work and it allowed me to leave town for my Six Flags adventure early.
"Messick-Buntyn" is a neighborhood in decline. It's not really the ghetto or a rough part of town, just neglected. My coworker and I knocked on the first door and Ms. Mills answered. She was probably in her 60's and was delighted to see us. She could not really remember if she had met us before (she had not) and was taken aback by our bright t-shirts (part of the volunteer day). She proceeded to tell us how happy she was that we came because since she got sick her power got cut off and she could not cook anything. These meals and the ones from her church family were pretty much the only ones she had.
She did not say any of this in a manner to solicit sympathy or pity. She was in extremely high spirits and genuinely delighted to see us. Before we left for the delivery the volunteers told us this might be the case because many of these people don't get many visitors. We are the only human interaction many of them have all day.
Talk about a change of perspective. This woman was one among thousands in my city. People elderly and alone. Widows and orphans. Yet, she was thankful.
I decided to tack on an extra 5 dollars a month to my electric bill to help those who can't afford to pay. For a long time I stubbornly refused, thinking it was not my responsibility to give the utility company money for other people. However, nobody should live without electricity. Nobody.
I must never forget how fortunate I am.
Note: This is an older post, but I thought it deserved to see the light of day.
Monday, October 13, 2008
Humility and vulnerability are two things I struggle with immensely. I don't really know why. Tonight I am going to have a conversation with someone that will require both.
I just realized that my back-up drive has died. Ironic. I guess I will have to replace it this week. Please, if you don't get anything else from this post, please understand that it is VITAL to back up your hard drive. You are a naive idiot if you think nothing can happen to your hard drive. Have you ever seen one? Do you have any clue how fragile they are? Do yourself a favor and start backing up your data (at the very least documents and photos) on a weekly basis. If the day comes that your computer crashes, you will be very thankful.
The real point of this post was to get some of the weight off my mind by posting out here to the Internet.
I no longer consider myself a Christian. I know I have mentioned this before, but I mean it in the sense that I don't believe Jesus came to pay for for our sins, I don't believe in original sin (which is still okay if I convert to Eastern Orthodox), I don't believe in the resurrection or the virgin birth, and I don't believe in the Bible being the word of God.
Now, I know I have a small but diverse group of readers and many things are probably going through your minds. First off, this is an indirect result of me coming out. As you know, I have already tried atheism twice, but can't find contentment in that answer. However, this did not all start because I came out, but coming out did really force me to reexamine my convictions. I do not mean some half-ass reexamination where I watch a DVD or read a book or two to shore up my previously held assumptions, I mean a serious spiritual and intellectual search for truth.
I have not been wronged by the church or Christians. Most of my friends are Christian and I really loved my church. This is not something I announce gleefully or with a sigh of relief. This is not what I wanted to happen at all. I am not falling away to chase after the sinful desires of my heart. In fact, I am beginning to care more about my fellow man than I ever have before. Additionally, I am not going off to live a life of hedonism or get a boyfriend and start having sex all the time. I am still terrified of relationships and the prospect of sex. I am still working to overcome all the shame and hatred and fear of myself I harbored for so long.
This post may make me sound like a mental wreck. However, this is not true. I have honestly (after emerging from my existential crisis) become more happy to be alive than ever before. I look back to the days of depression from years past and wonder how on earth I was ever in such a terrible place.
This blog will not turn into some atheist/agnostic rant or one of rejoicing about throwing off the"shackles" of religion. That has not been what my faith has ever been about. In all honesty, much of my faith was already heretical and had been for a very long time.
There is much more to say, but I will spare you for now. Good night.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
I will provide a few trivial examples, but this can apply to much bigger subjects.
My chapstick is always on the ground. I can never find it on my desk but sure enough it can be found on the floor. For months I have been thinking it must be because when I move stuff around I knock it off the desk. However, I just realized the problem is that chapstick rolls! It rolls right off the desk! All the time! Now, surely being the intelligent person I am, I should have put two and two together much sooner. However, it did not happen until this morning.
It took me until this spring to realize that "Kwikset" keys were called that because they can make you a "Quick Set". Now I understand the name of the company.
Because I repressed my sexuality so much and focused all of my energy on finding a girl to be attracted to and marry, I never realized how powerful sexual attraction could be. Chastity is not as easy as I once I assumed it would be. Especially since I am pursing individuals I am sexually attracted to. I should be more careful in my judgement of those I see as promiscuous or shallow in their convictions.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Anyway, on my way to see this apartment I passed by some condos that I have been wanting to see for quite some time. They are a little bit of a stretch for my budget, but they were having an open house. They are beautiful and the condo fee is quite affordable! She asked if I had an agent and I said I didn't. I told her my timeline and she recommended a mortgage broker and everything. She was so friendly and I did not pick up any sketchy vibes from her at all. I am ridiculously excited. I may be getting my very own starter home/condo this spring. You can come visit me (as long as you are not creepy or crazy).
This morning I went out to suburbia to rescue my parents dogs from doggie jail (a.k.a. the kennel). They were delighted to be free. As I was driving to the house I realized the suburbs are not so bad. Although I like to say that suburbs are where souls go to die, they are so very pleasant and enticing. The houses are big and clean. There is virtually no crime. You can hear birds chirping. They can really take you in. You could build an entirely false reality out there.
Like always my mind is constantly obsessed with weighty topics, but I have made such tremendous progress in enjoying life. It's pretty grand.
That's all for now.
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
The weather today has been amazing. I love overcast weather and 60's-70's are ideal for me. My goal for the day was to run a mile, but I think I fell slightly shy of it.
Anyhow, I am the proud owner of a new inhaler. This has significantly helped my breathing this allergy season and is what enabled me to run this evening. I have been working on slowing down my mind and taking in the sights and sounds around me. I don't want to brush through life in a hurry. I want to stop and appreciate things.
As I turned the corner near the bus stop, the bus roared off leaving a cloud of exhaust. As I inhaled the fumes a cool breeze came in and I was transported to the Mall de Los Andes in Ambato, Ecuador. There the exhaust from the line of taxis can overwhelm you, while the views of the mountains make you forget the pollution choking you. The weather there is perfect, never oppressive.
Continuing down the street I passed the library and an odd perfume in the air shifted my thoughts to the Lilac festival in Rochester. I knew I was not smelling lilacs in Memphis, TN but inside my head I was still wandering the park with all of the purple plants in bloom.
Tonight I am going to hang out with a friend, buy a book, pick up the new Aqualung CD (hopefully), and watch PR.
Monday, October 6, 2008
I don't know how many readers I have out there, but you will have to prepare yourself for a flurry of posts. I am going to force myself to write something substantial (not counting today) at least 4 times a week until November. I need to get in the habit of writing. While I hope that what ends up turning into a novel will be better than my musings here, anything can help get the creative juices flowing.
You have been warned.
Sunday, October 5, 2008
For a long time I built a false God in my head, a bit of an idol. When I was younger he was a cosmic genie but as I grew older our relationship evolved. Still, I later found Him to be some unjust cosmic being, preventing me from having the one thing I thought I wanted. He was a Creator who messed up and derived some pleasure from my pain. Someone or something that got off on being withholding.
Now I see how wrong I was about this god and I am not certain where that leaves me. What kind of faith do I have? Should I believe the unbelievable? What do I give my heart to?
God is love, or so I am told. It's hard to find that message from the bible sometimes. I truly find reading the bible to be one of the most dangerous things a Christian can do, especially if they subscribe to any form of inerrancy or literalism.
When I care enough, I sometimes want to ask God why? Why do you allow poverty, famine, and suffering? Unfortunately, He might ask me the same question and I would be ashamed at my answer.
Despite my feeling of being lost and my constant fretting about whether I have a courageous enough soul, hope remains. It's rather strange and I don't know where it comes from. Is it God?
My faith has been changing and evolving and throughout I have been forced to throw out (at least for now) many of my previous beliefs. Ironically, I have become more committed to becoming a follower of Christ and it's not easy.
Love is challenging. Love is putting others first. Love and pride cannot occupy the same space. Love is loving yourself. Sometimes this last thing can be the most difficult.
I find it's easy to love people I like: smart, funny, attractive people with similar tastes to mine. However, this is not what love is about. You have to love the outcasts, the oddballs, the loners. The weird kid and the fat kid. The socially awkward and those who annoy you. You can't just write them off and go back to your little clique. They are humans too! For this reason alone you should love them. They have feelings and need love and attention just like you.
Recently I have had the words to a certain song rattling around my head. If you know me at all, you know posting song lyrics is one of the things I hate more than pretty much anything else in the universe. Therefore, I will only post a portion. Think of it as a poem.
"I have joined the long defeat
that falling set in motion
and all my strength and energy
are raindrops in the ocean
so conditioned for the win
to share in victor's stories
but in the place of ambition's din
I have heard of other glories
and I pray for an idea
and a way I cannot see
it's too heavy to carry
and impossible to leave
I can't just fight when I think I'll win
that's the end of all belief
and nothing has provoked it more
than a possible defeat"
Saturday, October 4, 2008
I woke up this morning to two voicemails. One from my brother, and one from my life coach.
My brother is getting married. My younger brother is getting married. I had no idea until two hours ago! It's crazy, exciting, and unexpected.
I have never met her but she is supposed to be beautiful.
Oh yeah, she does not speak English. Time to brush off 501 Verbs.
This will most likely result in several lengthy posts to come. Brace yourself.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
My addiction to blogging began my freshman year of college. I was actually introduced to it by my brother. My first love was Xanga, and it served me well for four years.
In the meantime, I leave you with a few things that have been happening in my life. I am going out of town again for a bit, so I may have nothing new for awhile. It depends on the weekend.
- I am horrified by the fact that I now have to trim my nose hair. I know this is gross, but it's true. I thought this would not happen until I was 60! What is happening to me?
- Although I rail against owning an animal, I am beginning to have an affection for dogs. I won't be getting one anytime soon, but maybe one day in the distant future. Maybe.
- I am once again hopelessly confused about whether to buy or rent starting this spring. I guess it will depend on whether the economy collapses or not.
- I have decided that unless something/someone more important comes along, I am going to go to graduate school in Scotland. My aim is 2011 or 2012. I know it's a ways off.
- Lots of my friends are having babies (not all under the best circumstances) and it provides me an excuse to buy absolutely adorable clothes at The Children's Place and Baby Gap.
- Life is pretty darn good, seriously.
- Politics is making me passionate! I have actually donated money to a campaign and I cannot wait to vote. I am currently not registered with either party, but that may change.
- I really, really, really want to take a weekend getaway (by myself). Unfortunately, I am being responsible and paying off my credit cards, so the trips will have to wait until I am out of the hole.
- Last weekend I went to Six Flags. The lines were almost non-existent for the majority of the day. I rode the Mr. Freeze coaster twice in 10 minutes. It was awesome.
- I am getting back in touch with my emotions.
- Last Sunday I woke up and words were welling up inside me. I had to write. I grabbed a pen and the back of an envelope and wrote. I wish this would happen more often.
"The peace I feel is definitely accompanied with a little bit of trepidation and uncertainty of what the future holds. All (or most) of the plans I had for the future have changed, but it's ok. Life has to be uncertain or it would not be worth living. I know that my optimistic view and brief moment of perceived clarity will probably give way to a season of cynicism, but this too is natural. It's just being human."
I wrote this back in the spring, and I must say that I have definitely just come out of a season of cynicism. I am impressed by the perceptiveness of my past self.
Lately I have reverted to the self that blocks off emotion. I allowed fear, anger, and jealousy to take too great a hold. Thankfully that is over. May my misanthropic, jaded, cynical self stay away for awhile.
I don't wish that I could be, I am being.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Blog Reader Bill of Rights:
Readers will not watch this blog degrade into an outlet for me to channel all of my middle class white boy anxiety.
Readers will not have to offer me validation by leaving comments.
Readers will always be allowed a glimpse into my genius/madness.
Readers will be allowed to correct any grievous grammar or spelling mistakes, as long as it is done in an unpretentious manner.
Blog Reader Expectations:
Readers will be expected to understand all allusions and pop culture references I make, even if this requires you to spend time on YouTube and Wikipedia.
Readers will think, reason, question, and pray.
Readers will understand that I do not profess to have exclusive ownership of the Truth or even many truths.
Readers will indulge me when I decide to post things like this.
Monday, September 15, 2008
My last post was a horrible reminder of my own humanity. I tend to perceive myself as stoic and cold, but that's far from the case. However, I do fear becoming too cynical and jaded, but I doubt that will really happen. I am a big fan of whimsy and it has the lovely effect of negating cynicism.
Hope is returning in fuller force to my life. It's not that it had completely receded, it was just less tangible. For a long while I felt ennui creeping in like some vapor cloud as I swung furiously with a golf club beating it off (a futile endeavor). I know that is an odd choice of imagery, but it was truly the picture I got whenever I closed my eyes over the past couple of months.
I do wonder if I am too candid on this blog and am curious what picture of myself I have painted. Am I a crazy, self-absorbed, pretentious twentysomething or some overthinking, moody, pseudo-intellectual? Hopefully I leave a positive impression, I try to be a positive force in the real world. Still, I have a nasty habit of caring too much about the impressions of others. Nevertheless, I try not to sugarcoat what I write about and strive for authenticity.
This post is quite meaningless. I am going to work diligently to complete some posts I have been saving for quite some time. I try to be like a certain someone (well, someones) whose posts I find are generally well thought out and poignant.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
I have really been making an effort to remove fear from my life. I try to take an honest account of my emotions and make decisions more on my head than my carnal desires or human nature. Now, I won't say I am always successful in this endeavor, but I will say that it does help me make more rational decisions and create a higher quality of life.
Unfortunately, since I no longer live in a world of denial and repressed feelings, I have quite a few dilemmas, especially when it comes to dating
I have determined that fear is the main impediment to me dating right now. The primary fears are related to the reactions of my family and friends and the fact that I don't know if I have the patience, love, and strength to wait for them to accept me being gay or the fact that I am in a relationship. Additionally, my grandparents (one pair) are adamantly against "homosexuality" and I don't want this to drive a wedge in our already distant relationship, especially because my grandfather has prostate cancer that is untreatable.
I do think I can overcome these external circumstances, and I feel that if I meet someone I truly love I will not be ashamed of them and will be okay being open about our relationship.
The real hurdles are internal and have a lot to do with sex and other things involved in a relationship. I suppose I will start by saying that I am a virgin. I have also never dated a guy or even kissed a guy. All of my close relationships (that were dating like) have been with girls, and since I have never had the desire to be physically intimate I haven't.
I am at the point where I am working through the changes in the script of my life. These changes include finding a significant other who is a guy, or remaining single.
Rules have always played a major part of my life. They are as important to me as cookies and "to do" lists. However, I don't know what the rules are for me dating guys. I had always planned on getting married and losing my virginity on my honeymoon. My future life was built all around the idea of a guy/girl couple. We would set up house, start a family, host church home group, etc. I had planned on being married by 25 and having a young family. I would be a super cool hippie dad, and we would take the kids around the world. Now, I know some of you reading this might be screaming "HE CAN HAVE THAT WITH A GUY", and I suppose I can. I am just not there yet.
I have never (with one complicated exception) allowed myself to develop emotional intimacy with someone I am sexually attracted too. This most likely contributes to the feeling that I won't find someone to share my life with. I do have intimacy in my life within several friendships. These friendships are very rare and take years to develop, but are vital to a healthy life.
My dating philosophy is to turn friendships into something more. I think you really have to gauge someone before you enter into a relationship. Therefore, I am hesitant to start a long distance relationship (though there are some potentials) and I am not keen on trying to pick up some cute guy on a whim.
I have a friend who I had a crush on since the day I met him. He came out recently and we have become closer. While I definitely know he is too immature for me to date at this present moment (and probably ever) I still care about him greatly. He has taken a different approach to dating. and is obsessed with romantic gestures and the "Hallmark" version of love. He makes iTunes playlists with his boyfriend's name as the title and pines over his love from afar. He talks about him incessantly and I will probably hit something the next time I have to hear about how "hot" he is. Now, being the emotionally aware person I am, there are two reasons this makes me so upset. The first is jealousy (that he can be so carefree and that he has someone) and the second is that his relationship forces me to acknowledge that sexual attraction does have to play a role in a relationship.
The last reason may sound odd so I will elaborate. Two friends were at the apartment the other day and I was talking about my past relationships with girls and one said "the only problem was she didn't have a penis". He was not trying to be insincere or a jerk, but I was quite upset by the statement. Unfortunately, I have to admit it's true. Not that I am obsessed with sex organs, it was the fact that she was not a guy. I (despite my best efforts) am not sexually attracted to women. I have tried so many times to be. I don't think they are ugly or disgusting. I can definitely acknowledge their attractiveness, I just don't have the same feelings for them as I do for guys. I suppose a part of me still wants love to conquer all and for me to enter into a relationship with a girl devoid of physical intimacy. I still hate to admit that something so carnal, so human has such a key role in my daily life.
I know this post is spiraling out of control, so I will head for home.
I definitely want physical passion in my relationships, but it has to go hand in hand with a much deeper love. This is a love that I have experienced with close friends and I will have a form of in my relationship with my future significant other. It is the Catherine/Heathcliff, Mr. Darcy/Elizabeth kind of love. A love that burns in defiance and lasts eternally.
This is what I want and I will be committed to chastity and my own moral standards until it comes. It can just be hard sometimes, especially with opposing voices telling you to be celibate, straight, or a slut. You just have to look inside and be confident in your own voice.
Friday, September 12, 2008
On the ride back into town, the conversation took a rather odd turn to the morbid. Conversation between coworkers usually has to do with the latest project, department news, our field, CPA exams, and the like. Instead, we began really talking about things that mattered and it was very refreshing.
I mentioned how I was bad about keeping in touch with my parents and how I should do a better job of calling them. Alex mentioned that on a trip back from New Orleans he was really tired and meant to call his mother but put it off until the next day. That following day she died and he thinks about that night from time to time and how he could have had that last contact if he had just picked up the phone. A very similar story was told by Casey involving her grandmother.
It got me thinking about the urgency with which we should live our lives and how horribly off my focus is nearly 100% of the time.
My ability to complain, whine, moan, bitch, and pretty much be a seed of discontent is limitless. It comes naturally. Why can't I just be grateful? There are absolutely a ton of things to be grateful for, yet I let my petty worries and fears get in the way of my contentment.
I am probably being too hard on myself. I strive daily to be thankful for what I have, but my selfish, deceitful heart often prevents me from totally being content and living in the moment. Nevertheless, the guy I am today is a vast improvement over who I was years ago. I am most definitely a work in process and I plan on being one until I take my dirt nap.
Another realization from this trip is that I am entirely too severe. Maybe I'll bring that up again at another date.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Thursday, September 4, 2008
I have been reflecting on my life up to this point and I realize it is nearly impossible to have an objective view of past events. I feel like I rewrite things that have happened in an effort to minimize conflict. I hope that does not sound cryptic.
The weather here is changing and it makes me excited. I love cool/cold weather. Coats are my favorite.
I was talking to a friend the other day about having an old soul. She has one as well. I feel that if my outside matched how I felt on the inside I would be knocking on death's door.
Unless something super fun or noteworthy happens in the next 48 hours I will be away until next weekend. It's time for another business trip! It's not to anywhere glamorous, but I will have an opportunity to read, write, and relax.
Haha, I almost forgot about the title of this post! Whenever I used to get overwhelmed with life I would go to my favorite chain coffee store and sit out on the patio. It sits next to one of the busiest streets in my city and I would see hundreds of cars go by. Each car containing one or more people. People trying to make it through their own journeys. People living, loving, laughing, crying, hurting, rejoicing...just being human.
It helps put things in perspective.
Monday, September 1, 2008
I was going to put off running today, but decided I could not. I already caved and ate lunch out, had a cookie, ate pop-tarts for breakfast, and picked up ice cream during work! Something had to counteract all of this fattiness! Anyhow, I really enjoy running. I feel so good afterwards. While I used to hate sweating, I find the sweat induced by running strangely satisfying. It's proof that I have done something. I have exerted effort and worked towards a goal.
I run around my university. It's a nice rectangular shape and I keep to the perimeter. I attempt to run 3 times a week with a new goal each day. First to the mailbox, then the end of the drive, then the corner, then the lamppost, the bus stop, the other corner, the track, the big tree, the library, etc. It's so hard sometimes. I can see the day's goal in sight, but I just want to quit. I frantically skip through the songs in my shuffle trying to find something upbeat (why does Hey There Delilah always come on, also, what was I thinking when I decided to download it?) Anyhow, despite the pain I achieved my goal today. I may regret this tomorrow if my shins hurt, but until then I am happy. I will keep taking it one day at at time. Getting further and further each day.
The ultimate goal will be to achieve "shirt optional" status where I am so sexy I don't need to worry about running in a shirt. Haha. I don't think that day will ever be coming...I will probably think I am too boney to go shirtless.
*I am aware today is Labor Day, so I really was not at work. This is just one of those old posts that had been simmering. Plus, I did run today.
Friday, August 29, 2008
It has occurred to me that I have not really shared any updates on some of the more regular aspects of my life. An update is in order.
I suppose I am making progress on coming out of my existential crisis/dark night of the soul. This period has been very dark and I felt very lost. My faith needed to change or it would die. I feared it was mortally wounded, but that's not really the case. I suppose I am working on upping the amount of awe in my life and realizing that the big questions do not have clear-cut answers.
One of the most painful parts of this process is that the "secular" comforts in my life lost their appeal at the same time many of my old core tenets of faith collapsed under the weight of my doubts. I was in Crabtree and Evelyn looking at $16 dollar soap (which I had bought in the past) and I was sickened a bit. The same occurred when looking at the $1,200 nightstand at Restoration Hardware. I used to be able to dream about a kick-ass condo full of absurdly overpriced stuff, but not anymore. I will not say that I have overcome my materialism by any means, but I will say that I have become disgusted with excess and am striving to "live simply so that others may simply live."
I do plan on posting about "Faith 2.0" in the future, but it is a work in progress (which it will always be) and I have a long way to go before I am comfortable posting anything. I would say I am a "freelance monotheist" at the moment, but that's mainly just because I think the label is clever.
Tithe. I have been pretty consistent in giving to the church, but I will confess it was primarily due to the guilty feeling I had whenever I did not give. I felt God was some loan shark or hit man demanding his cut of my money. I have thankfully outgrown this. Giving is now one of my greatest joys and I look forward to figuring out how I can contribute my resources to furthering the Kingdom of God. It's refreshing.
Church. I am still torn on what to do. I am still attending the church I knew I should not have joined in the first place, but I really do enjoy Christian fellowship. It's not as if you can cast aside a core part of yourself in a matter of months.
Work. I am still enjoying work for the most part. It's so strange having a grown-up job. I have been learning a lot and I get to interact with great people. I also am working on a certification in my field that excites me greatly. If I ever meet any of you in person, I would love to talk about what I do. However, you will most likely need to shut me up because I will bore you.
Relationships. There is still a major lack of those in my life, but I am not necessarily complaining. However, there is a slight chance I may be dating soon...if I am bold enough. My roommate is obsessed with getting me set up with someone (apparently he likes seeing people happy). I don't feel especially dour or unhappy, I suppose he just really wants a project. FYI, one of his potentials is extremely cute, but a little on the young side. I feel creepy dating someone born in '88, even though we are just 2 years apart.
In sum, I am going to be okay. In fact, I am okay. I am working to live, love, and build community. The change in seasons will also help, as autumn brings me great joy and I love wearing coats!
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
A couple of weeks ago a friend and I were discussing the church we both attend. I am a member, but wrestle with whether or not this was a mistake (more to come). Anyhow, we were talking about how it seemed difficult to really get to know anyone at the church. I mentioned another local church I had attended and how they had nametags at the front door. I thought it was a good idea that fostered community. A little later into the conversation the girl said "'Church XXX'...just so you know, it's not really biblically sound and it's a little universalist".
At that moment, I wanted to say "I'm not biblically sound!" I also wanted to mention how I was attracted to guys and this was the primary reason I am uncomfortable at our current church (due to their firm anti-gay stance). I also wanted to mention how I was not really a believer in the notion of hell most often portrayed in evangelical circles (another thing preached at this church). However, I withheld all of this information. We did proceed to talk about the origin of scripture and she laughed at how many people seem to think Jesus FedExed the Bible to humanity in King James English.
Was this the appropriate level of the honesty? I feel like it was. Nevertheless, I do wish I was more up front about the fact I am attracted to guys. There are countless people who still don't know, some who suspect, some in denial, and some clueless. For honesty's sake, there are several reasons I am still not "out". First, moral superiority has always played a major part of my life. While I intellectually understand how stupid this was, emotionally I don't want to give it up. Second, whenever I talk about the fact I am attracted to guys, the old dream of a wife and kids and my midtown home seems to drift further away. I will not lie and say that I am 100% okay with this attraction. I am not so much wrestling with theological issues surrounding it as much I am about the social implications. I still value the opinion of others far too much and seek man's approval. Also, I have a very conservative sexual ethic which stands in stark contrast to a lot of the guys that are out. Third, by coming out fully I would encourage others to come out as well (this was part of my coming out process). However, I am unsure whether I want to force other guys/gals into the same period of questioning and confusion when it comes to merging intellect, faith, and sexuality. There are several guys that I am sure are closeted, and most of them would be dateable due to our similar ethics and moral standards. However, I am nowhere near so selfish as too encourage them out of the closet so I could find a man. Also, it frustrates me that the morals and ethics I value so much are part of churches I have a hard time relating too.
P.S. The girl I was talking to is absolutely AMAZING and I do not want to give any impression that she is naive, bigoted, or any such thing. Just FYI.
Monday, August 25, 2008
Wikihow, I love you:
An Existential crisis can occur when the answers to the questions about the meaning and purpose of life (as well as our place in it) no longer provide satisfaction, direction or peace of mind to an individual or, even taken further in a society.
- The problem you are facing is not your thoughts- it is your attachment to the thoughts. Your thoughts come from your conditioning, your society, your reaction to experiences. Your thoughts are really not your own. At their core, the thoughts are made up of units of societally-created things called words. Your language is not yours, it is from others. So to be attached to language will ultimately make anyone miserable. Therefore, first of all drop the "story." To do this, one can partake in any activity that allows them to flow- especially moving one's body vigorously. And, one can come to Reality- that which truly exists in the non-thought realm- by partaking in meditation or other practices of consciousness (tai chi, Breema). Even a good massage and steaming can do wonders! Then in a relaxed body, look into the world with the help of people who have attained more happiness than the average Joe- any pillar of exemplary morals or knowledge would be relevant. Yet remember they can only communicate words, not Reality itself. They can only use words, like a finger, to point at the moon. Don't confuse the words/finger for the moon/Reality.
- Try to see life and your place in it as they 'really' are. Question everything and attempt to see past all social, political, spiritual and personal conditioning and falsehoods. Know that we humans often feel that we are stuck in a game designed and controlled by others who do not have you or humanity's best interests in mind. When you're in crisis it looks like others succeed through ignorance, fear and the ability to lead you around by the nose. Research the history of civilization and how this rat race began, and how it is perpetuated, then begin to formulate your own understanding as to where it may be heading. Begin to adjust your attitude and actions accordingly to reflect this new understanding. Once you know how we are being conditioned to think and act it is a little easier to think and act for our own interests (and for those we love). Once we begin to do this we will have a new blueprint for our personal as well as collective existence. The rest is up to you.
- Turn on a light, preferably 75 watts or brighter.
- Drink a cool glass of water.
- Clean whatever room you're in. This will help you clarify your power over the world and give you a few minutes to do some basic problem-solving. Don't just straighten things up, but clean. Use a cleaning product. (Note: Does not apply if you have OCD -- cleaning isn't your problem).
- Try to voice what your problem is. Some people write full-length sentences to help determine what their issues are. Others start by writing a poem in order to get their thoughts and feelings flowing. Later, you can elaborate in prose.
- Imagine several different people you like or respect giving you advice. Don't pick anyone abusive. Try Mr. Rogers, your first grade teacher, or that person you had a crush on in 9th grade. They don't help very much, do they? But it's fun talking to them.
- Imagine giving advice to someone else in your situation. Would you still think this was as big a problem?
- Talk to someone who loves you, like a friend or a parent.
- Problem solve. Remember how you figured out how to use that cleaning product? If you can't figure out your problem, that means it's legitimate. If your solution involves making big changes, take a few days to think about it.
- If you can't do anything about your problem right now, accept it. If it's late, go to sleep; if you can't sleep, find something to do that does not involve a television or computer screen. Blue light causes insomnia. You'll want to go to sleep later. If it's daytime, get some exercise or finish your job. Be professional. A few successes never hurt anyone.
- Consider how well orchestrated life seems to be. Some type of consistency does appear to exist, at least on a micro level.
- Although there is arguably no reason to not commit suicide, existentialist thinkers, beginning with Nietzsche on, have foreseen a wave of nihilistic thought among future generations. Nietzsche welcomed the wave of nihilism as he saw it as a phase between the death of old beliefs and a birth of the overman. It is something that must be overcome by the will to power, he states. Though every philosopher who wrote regarding the birth of new meaning in life authored it in such a way that was notoriously vague, it is nonetheless something to research heavily before making any decisions. Notable authors include Nietzsche, Sartre and Camus. Researching their views will lead you to other interpretations of what comes after nihilism.
- If after exhausting research you still feel unsatisfied, you still have gained a lot of insight into the philosophy of the situation. You must know by now that a will to truth is absurd (to use the terminology). Since we truly don't know whether there is meaning to existence or not, we can always fall back on risk assessment. If you put life and death in two columns, and meaningful/meaningless existence into two rows, you will find that living out the rest of your life is the best option (no matter what horror existence may be).
- In whatever situation you find yourself, do no harm to yourself or others, aim to create peace and enjoyment of your experiences. Even though sometimes it hurts, it will pass. Find meaning in the simple pleasures of life through your senses. Stop to smell the roses, feel the sunlight, taste the food, see the beauty and listen to your heart calling. You can create your own meaning for yourself your own life. After all, it is your life, your game, your experiment. Play your game with respect for others, and deal with your circumstances to the best of your ability. To really succeed, respectfully enlist the help of others.
- Remember tomorrow is a new day and another opportunity for you to make changes in your life to seek happiness and self fulfillment. This power is yours, claim it.
- Don't refuse to confront a problem because you've heard that life is supposed to be more meaningful when you suffer.
- Don't do too much thinking after midnight. That never goes well. You might turn into a gremlin or worse yet, a pumpkin. Seriously, you never know.
- If you're married or live with a significant other, here's a rule of thumb: don't wake them up tonight if you did so last night. They love you, but have already given you the advice you need.
- Don't be afraid to laugh and make fun of yourself. It's a good way to find out who you really are. This practice gives you a true sense of personal freedom. This is also a good way to clarify what's really important. If you find it difficult to laugh at something, your problem is much bigger than you originally imagined.
- Remember that 'normal' isn't necessarily 'typical'.
- Take care of your body. Drinking more water can combat headaches and changes in mood and improve brain function. Taking a walk can provide you with a new perspective and a boost of endorphins. Breathe deeply through your nose and out through your mouth; shallow breaths through the mouth are a signal of panic.
- Eat real food and drink plain filtered water.
- Be love in action.
- Find success in small things, this will lead to bigger things.
- Don't be afraid of failure. If you perceive a failure, approach it from the perspective that it is just an experience which gives you wisdom and opportunity for change and growth.
- In fact, don't be afraid at all!
- Choose to live, forgive, learn, love and prosper.
This excerpt is courtesy of http://www.wikihow.com/Deal-With-an-Existential-Crisis
I think I need to clean my room...