I’m trying something different for this post. These are my recorded thoughts on the concept of “salvation.” Follow the bouncing ball ..
Wait .. that would be easier if there WERE a bouncing ball, but here’s the next best thing. Listen and follow along with the words below the video if you’d like.
However, I must warn you, there’s foul language in this piece. It isn’t suitable for kids.
Nobody ever said it would be easy.
But if they had told me how hard it would get, I might have thought twice about this whole “life” deal. It’s not like I can remember standing in front of God and hearing a booming voice say
“Let’s see which door this one chooses, huh folks?”
There wasn’t really a choice involved. I was born to the people who raised me. I was born into a family with a lot of issues.
But If anyone had told me that this meant screaming matches with someone I used to love at four o clock in the morning, I would have told them had me confused with someone far less well adjusted.
And I would have been wrong.
My views on alcoholism haven’t changed. I’ve known too many people with the disease. As both a hospital and retail employee, I’ve seen strangers with the addiction. It’s different when the effects of the disease are something that I can’t walk away from. It assumes a permanence in my psyche. I wish it wouldn’t.
It isn’t like there aren’t a great deal of other things for me to think about. I’ve got other dreams to pursue. I’ve got goals. I didn’t sign up for this. I feel like I’ve been drafted into an army of disposable heroes, and I keep asking myself one question that I think I heard in famous movie once.
“How do I get out of this chicken shit outfit?”
Perhaps a faceless drill sergeant will point his or her finger at me and tell me to “secure that shit.” But I didn’t sign up be a in a fucking army. I never agreed to this shit.
So thanks for the advice, serge, but you can suck my balls.
I don’t know that I would have made it in the army. I appreciate the soldiers who can walk the walk. I have enormous respect for the troops who are overseas representing the United States of America, and I can’t even begin to fathom what it would have been like to fight in each of the world wars of human history.
But as far as I know, war is a human concept. Strategic combat on that sort of scale may in fact be a uniquely human invention.
I, for one, would like to focus my energies in a more creative setting.
I’ve always created worlds into which I could escape when the realities of this world proved to be too unwieldy. Too many people in my life have told me to “grow the fuck up” and stop fucking with fantasy. They’ve told me to “think practically.” They’ve told me to “focus on the here and now.”
Personally, I think they talk too much. I’ve found that most of the same people who tell me that the daily grind of work and family are all there is to life haven’t tried hard enough to be happy.
Happiness is work.
I think about this in terms of writing and I know my conclusions are right.
You can tell anyone you want to that you’re a writer, but as a friend and fellow blogger wrote recently, a lot of people have a tendency to belittle that statement. I have to say I agree with her assessment.
You’re always going to find those who look at you and wonder that you can say that with a straight face. Some will challenge you outright, asking you what books you’ve written. Others will simply laugh and say “no, seriously.”
I don’t want to tell anyone in my family that I write. Even the people who know will probably wonder why I ventured into it in the first place. They’ll forget that I entered a story telling contest as a 9 year old kid, memorized an entire book and RETOLD that story in a way that made most of the adults in the room cry, including my own father. They’ll fail to recall the hours that I spent, pen in hand, writing my own versions of fairytales, movie scripts, and stories of the events of my day. These people will not understand that I went to college in disguise. I donned the garb of a healer/scholar, and I wore it well enough to fool the masses for more than a decade.
But college proved to me what a lie that really was. Stories were the food for my soul. The lives and motivations of others were what sustained me. I ventured into psychology as a major, thinking that it would be an easy way to “still be a doctor,” since that was what I told everyone in my family that I wanted to be.
Again, I was wrong, but it would take me more than a decade after my graduation to finally accept that my muse had been waiting to greet me again with open arms. A relationship of ten years crumbled around my ears before I finally accepted that I didn’t know who I was anymore, and that I’d stopped caring.
A friend of mine was doing some sort of film project in college. I couldn’t tell you if it was for a class, but he was interviewing students and asking them some very poignant questions. He asked one question that has stuck with me over the years.
“What does salvation mean to you?”
I remember the answer I gave him back then as the camera lens took in every blemish of my face and every expression of my dark eyes.
“I believe that salvation comes from within.”
I still believe it.
I was raised catholic, and I was raised in a family that believed in things like divine intervention, fate, and all sorts of other concepts that I never really took to as a kid. I was a little control freak. I was a picky eater. I didn’t want my choices taken from me just because some big, mean man couldn’t handle that I didn’t want to sit still and listen to boring stories.
But what I didn’t realize until I was in the first grade was that I wanted to tell my OWN!
Show and tell was an interesting concept for me in school in elementary school. It wasn’t easy for me so sit still and listen to other kids and their stories sometimes, but I used to anyway because there was something for me to learn in each story. “This kid likes chocolate, that girl likes trees.”
But then my turn would come, and I would talk about the things that happened in my life. I would leave my classmates “spellbound.”
At least, that’s what the teacher told my father on “parent teacher” night before she went on to tell him that I had trouble listening and not daydreaming in class.
Those are hard moments to forget, but somehow, I allowed the memories to fade.
That was a mistake, and one that I don’t intend to make ever again.
When I gave my friend that answer in college, I didn’t have a clear sense of what my personal salvation would be. I can type and speak these words now with a fuller understanding of that that word means to me.
There is no magic bullet for happiness. There are no words that a shaman or a priest can utter that bring automatic joy to anyone’s lives. That sort of magical thinking ,to me, represents a misunderstanding of egregious proportions.
The universe owes me nothing. It’s just there, just as I am here.
In terms of life, writing is the same as many other things. You can only learn it by doing it. You can only perfect it through practice. You can only improve it by sharing it with others and getting their insight.
You suit up, show up, and get down to it and see what happens. That’s what writing is to me.
That’s what life is.
Perhaps the ultimate lesson here is that when one seeks salvation, they might just discover that it lies in the living of life. Getting out there, meeting people and having experiences are the things that life has to offer you if you are willing to reach for them. Sometimes it may feel like you have to stretch until your muscles ache, until the skin is peeled from your bones. Your day might end with you having nicked your hands on many thorns. But, to me, even the thorns are worth it. The pain means just as much to me as the pleasure. It can be just a powerful tool for learning as a hug.
I still like hugs better, though, just sayin.’