Cause wouldn’t it be such a shame if all was wasted…

I think I should spend more time listening to music. It always reminds me of who I am, at my core. It always brings me back to myself.

Something about hearing a certain chord with the right voices gets straight to the heart of everything.

I had an interesting conversation with my sister the other day. In the nicest way possible, I’m pretty sure she told me, “Enough is enough.” I’ve been hiding out since my unceremonious departure from law school. I devoted months of my life to studying for something I didn’t even want to do and when the whole thing became too much I completely retreated. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out the whys. I have a lot of theories, but I think the reality is that I was scared. Academics are easy for me. I took the LSAT after doing two shows the day before, one of them that started at midnight, and then going out for drinks afterward. Went to bed at 3am and got up at 6am and did well enough to be offered several full tuition scholarships. I know this sounds like bragging, but it’s not. I can’t take pride in something that wasn’t that difficult for me. Given the choice between what was right and what was easy, I chose easy. I seriously need a Pocket Dumbledore to remind me that the easy choice never comes without a cost. But this choice is starting to become more expensive than I bargained for. I already paid with a year that I can’t get back. So perhaps the well-intended admonishment from my little sister was more timely than I initially realized. Because it made me think. I’ve been in full retreat for awhile, and while I’ve gained an impressive knowledge of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I’ve lost time that I can’t get back. Also, while I can blame some of my current ennui on my thyroid, I can’t keep allowing it to be an excuse. I told my wife yesterday that she could complain about something or she could decide to change it. (Disclaimer- I was not being my most patient and diplomatic self at that particular moment, but the words were true and now I need to start practicing what I preach lol.) So today I thought I’d brainstorm and come up with a list of some of the things I want to do and why I can’t do them if I’m busy hiding out and watching old sitcoms.

  • Scuba diving- I have wanted to learn to do this forever, but until I get my sedentary butt off the couch, I’ll never get in decent enough shape to make this a possibility.
  • Spelunking- I prefer to keep my thrill seeking at or below ground level, so you won’t see me talk about sky diving, but I am utterly taken with the idea of crawling around caverns. I’ve never had much chance to experience it, but what I have seen has left me with a serious itch to see more. But it’s the same deal. Even guided tours generally have some fitness/weight restrictions.
  • Aerial dancing- Can we just talk about how freaking amazing it would be to make art like this? But it requires CRAZY arm strength. CRAZY. And I don’t have that right now. And I can’t have that if I’m not doing anything more difficult than walking a 1/2 mi. to get coffee.
  • Surfing- You’d think a Florida child would have been surfing at least once or twice. No such luck. But I sure would love to try it. I’m pretty sure the real thing beats the heck out of channel surfing.
  • Tap dancing- I used to be a pretty decent hoofer, but I haven’t even put on my shoes for longer than I am comfortable admitting. An amazing teacher I had the last time I was coming out of a life rut told me I was a natural dancer. She pretty much made my life with that statement. But I got tired and started to forget myself again and on the way I lost the dancing. But I miss it. Gosh I miss it. Only now, and forgive me for making the uncomfortable statement, but I feel like that awkward fat kid in the back and I’m scared to go back. Logic always fails me here. It’s the one thing in the world that I want the most, but I’m terrified to go get it.
  • Performing- I want to be onstage again. The best part of me only exists when I’m actually being my best. My best me has been hiding out for awhile, sulking about being an old failure. But the only thing that’s done is start to become a self-fulfilling prophesy. Every day that I spend avoiding the world is another day of failing and another day of getting older.

I think the gist of it all is that if I want to do anything with my life other than memorize obscure Angel quotes and reminisce about the golden days when I was full of glorious potential, I have to get back up. Falling down happens. Staying down is a choice. And maybe these are the golden days. Maybe that glorious potential is just waiting for me to resurrect it from where it’s been waiting while I was in hiding. I’m pretty sure it’s waiting in my feet somewhere. 🙂 Even at my saddest, my toes never stopped tapping out their rhythms. Something in me remembers the music. Maybe tomorrow will feel different, but today feels worth getting up for and that’s something to hold onto.

I will leave you with words from someone who expresses what I’m trying to say much better than I could ever hope to.

ODE
We are the music-makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers
And sitting by desolate streams;
World losers and world forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world for ever, it seems.
 
With wonderful deathless ditties
We build up the world’s great cities.
And out of a fabulous story
We fashion an empire’s glory:
One man with a dream, at pleasure,
Shall go forth and conquer a crown;
And three with a new song’s measure
Can trample an empire down.
 
We, in the ages lying
In the buried past of the earth,
Built Nineveh with our sighing,
And Babel itself with our mirth;
And o’erthrew them with prophesying
To the old of the new world’s worth;
For each age is a dream that is dying,
Or one that is coming to birth.
-Arthur O’Shaughnessy
 
I want to be a music maker again. It’s time to resurrect some dreams. Thanks for the advice, little sister.
Advertisements

My best theory is already in me…

I’ve decided to take a short break from The Book of God. I made it as far as the story of Joshua and the wall of Jericho before I got too bewildered and sad to continue. I’ve been plaguing my Catholic educated wife with questions and pleas for explanations enough that she’s relented and agreed to play catch up with me so we can have discussions about some of the things I take umbrage to. Ex/ I don’t get the Jericho thing. I understand that from the side of the folks wandering the desert for 40 years it was like finally getting a bite of the carrot that had been dangling in front of them for so long. But what about the poor people who were living behind that wall? What exactly did they do that they deserved to die violent deaths? They were just going about their business. It’s not like anybody put up a sign on the land that said, “Beware of impending death when we’re back to claim our place in 40 years.” Pretty crummy deal for those folks and I can’t imagine that it won any converts among the displaced. Any Christians out there that can explain this for me? My understanding is that the Old Testament is mostly the history leading up to the dawn of Christianity, but it still bothers me. I’m also having some difficulty understanding what I’m supposed to read as literal and what is supposed to be allegorical. In theory, there’s a good mix of both, so how do you decide what’s what?

After I took a break from that, I picked up The Path of a Christian Witch. Not deviating from Christianity with this one exactly, but I was intrigued at the idea of two such opposing viewpoints merging into a cohesive spirituality. Overall, though, I found the book to be a bit disappointing. The author does find a way to make peace with seemingly disparate belief systems, but not in a way that made a lot of sense to me. I did find it interesting that she came from a Catholic background, because they tend to be a bit more restrictive on thinking outside the box, but I think that same background prevented me from connecting with her. (One of the few certainties I have, religiously speaking, is that I don’t agree with the Catholic doctrine.) All the same, it was interesting to read someone’s story of finding their own path. I’m pretty sure my path is going to include little bits and pieces from everywhere, all amalgamated into my own brand of faith, so it’s nice to read about others who took the same approach and made it work.

I’m branching away from Christianity this week. Currently I am engrossed in “The Buddha Walks Into A Bar” by Lodro Rinzler. I’m not very far into it, but he’s made some key points about being patient with yourself through the process because enlightenment isn’t attained in a day. I feel like that’s important to remember. We live in a one-click world where we can get anything we need/want/desire delivered to us with little to no lag time. We don’t have to wait for letters to know how family is because we just check Facebook. We don’t have to take the time to cook an elaborate meal because we can order in or have it catered. Everything’s easily accessible. So we expect the same from ourselves spiritually. We should take an hour to meditate and that will clue us in on the secrets of the universe and how to be our best selves. Only it doesn’t work that way and Rinzler makes sure to repeatedly state that you have to be gentle with yourself and allow yourself whatever time you need to figure out who you are. He also makes a (deservedly) big deal about staying present in the moment, which is spot on considering most of us can’t last five minutes without some type of external stimuli. And it’s not our fault! It’s just the world we’re in. But being able to stay in the moment is a gift to yourself and everyone you interact with. It’s a powerful ideal to work towards.

I’m eagerly awaiting the arrival of “Am I a Hindu?” and “Awakening the Buddha Within.” This whole process has already been incredibly eye opening and I’m excited to see what I learn next.

The essence of all religions is one. Only their approaches are different. -Gandhi

I’ve been thinking about religion a lot lately. I’ve spent my entire life referring to myself as a Christian, but it’s starting to dawn on me that I barely have a clue as to what that means. I know that I have faith in something more than this existence, but that’s true of pretty much every religion. The utter hypocrisy of declaring membership to this belief system when I have never actually read the Bible in its entirety doesn’t sit well with me. It’s also occurred to me that what I have learned has encouraged me to suppress certain curiosities and has encouraged me to view the world as innately patriarchal, both of which I disagree with as a general rule.

I think faith should be a celebration and a source of peace and I’ve struggled to find those things of late. I know it’s kind of the trend to not really believe in anything, but I’ve always felt like having faith in something was important and so I have decided maybe my faith needs to be restructured rather than discarded. So I’m throwing out the rules. I’ve always believed that all paths lead to the same place, but I’ve never actually found the courage to follow my own path, rather than taking the standard one laid out before me. I don’t fit into the standard size box and I don’t think I have to. Faith isn’t one size fits all. And yet I’ve let myself be boxed into something not quite comfortable because of fear of some kind of lasting punishment. Just seems wrong. So I’m going to find a way to believe and to celebrate my spirituality in a way that fits in with the core of who I am. I’m trying to remind myself that if I don’t fault other people for the way they believe, then I shouldn’t fault myself for trying to find my own way. Ultimately I think it will be a worthwhile undertaking. I want a faith that fits me, not one that I have to try to pretzel myself into fitting. And I have to believe that that’s acceptable.

I came across the quote, “An it harm none, do as you will,” while I was reading, and I think it’s a pretty solid rule to start with. I don’t know where my path will take me or how I will identify when I reach the end of it, but I feel certain that however I journey, I will inevitably reach the same peak as everyone else. That said, it occurs to me that it would be fair to ask why bother with finding your own path in the first place if you’ll end up the same place regardless, but it seems to me that it’s kind of like walking through life in clothes that are too small. The end result is that you’re not naked, but wouldn’t it be nicer to be not naked in clothes that fit perfectly? 

And so off I go to hit the books. First stop, The Book of God by Walter Wangerin. Gotta love when someone can put the Bible in novel format. I know many argue that you miss the subtleties when you simplify the reading, but I’d say that putting the material in a format that is easier to digest makes people more apt to actually read it. At least people like me who would rather focus on the story that the language.

I could go for some more reading suggestions, though. I find I’m especially interested in learning more about Hinduism, so if anyone knows of a book that provides a good overview, that would be awesome. I still feel a great deal of certainty re: my chosen deity, but I’d like to find a way to believe that fits in more with who I am, and from what I’ve read, Hinduism might actually be a good fit for that. That said, I’m open to other ideas. Ultimately, faith is deeply personal to me, but right now I am finding myself in a stage of evolution and value the insight of others who see the world differently.  I’m not really up for starting a debate on who’s right and who’s wrong- that defeats my purpose right now- but I’d love to be able to discuss ideas and beliefs in an open and non-judgmental way with anyone inclined to do so. So for all ten or so of you that randomly check in with this blog- fire away if you have thoughts or opinions or expertise or suggestions. I’d certainly appreciate it. 🙂

I believe forgiveness is the key to your unhappiness.

I just took the trippiest little jaunt down memory lane. I spent the last hour reading journal entries from ten years ago. It’s amazing how intensely you feel things when you’re just starting out. I sat and read and remembered so much. And I shook my head at the little girl I was a fair amount of times. Current me just wants to reach back and shake old me and tell her that some people aren’t worth jumping through hoops for and that forgiveness doesn’t have to equal forgetting. But mostly current me was overwhelmed with a wave of affection for old me. Old me was making a lot of mistakes and doing a lot of silly things, but she was also falling in love and making memories and dancing sparkly dances. Sometimes I look back at myself in such a damning way, feeling so stupid to have made the mistakes I made, but tonight was different. Tonight I remembered myself and it felt kind of healing. I remembered the girl who was broken to pieces over her first love choosing someone else and  who went a little crazy then, but I also remembered the girl who had stars in her eyes and still knew with complete certainty that she was going to be someone special. She felt everything so profoundly that every single day was full to the brim with life. And that’s where my affection for her comes from. She may have made poor decisions on occasion, but she also made some pretty solid ones now and then. She exemplified loyalty and forgiveness, probably to a fault, but she really believed that friendship could overcome insurmountable odds. And, despite all evidence to the contrary, she was sure that happily ever after would find her.

I may have messed up, but it seems to me I wasn’t such a bad kid after all. After all this time spent in self-flagellation, it’s a real relief to look back and know that it wasn’t all bad. To know that nothing was ever that simple. Even at my worst, I never completely wrote off my future self. Old me never stopped believing in the healing power of dancing and kisses and swinging on the swings and, y’know, in spite of everything, I’m kind of impressed with her for that.

Extra! Extra! Angel marathon leads to moral ambiguity mini-rant!!!

As a newly minted freelancer, I would be a liar if I didn’t admit to playing catch up with my old friend Netflix when life gets slow, the idea of yet another job search becomes too depressing for words, and I’m fresh out of spanking new ideas to blog about. Today Netflix surprised me with a story that struck me as very intriguing.

The players are a girl, a boy, and a man. The man is the villain. He tried to kill the girl. The girl is the victim. She has suffered at the hands of the villain. The boy is the hero. He wants to save the girl. The interesting thing to me is how the roles change based on the choices they make and the choices that are made for them. The girl wants to kill the man, but the boy wants to prevent her from doing so and save her from becoming a killer. This could be possible if the girl hadn’t already taken steps to ensure that the man’s death is inevitable. He is going to die no matter what. Even so, at the last moment, the boy steps in and performs the fatal blow. 

So then, who is the victim and who is the villain and are there even any heroes left in the story? The girl starts as victim, but in seeking retribution does she become villain or has she taken on the challenge of being her own hero? And in dying in a manner similar to how he killed others, does the man become the victim? Do the scales of justice re-balance in an eye for an eye way or is he always just the villain? As for the boy, is he still a hero because his motives were pure, or does he become the villain because he took a life? Or maybe he becomes a victim because chivalry spurred him to do the unthinkable to protect the girl and in doing so he became what he despised. The story line can’t resolve because the players no longer know what roles they are playing. And that is the part that is intriguing.

If we can’t define ourselves, if we don’t know what role we are playing, it’s hard to resolve our own story. And yet time keeps moving and whether we actively participate or not, we’re pretty much all marching onward to our inevitable resolution.

In addition to ruminating a bit on how we are defined by choices, I have been reflecting a bit on moral ambiguity and on how we determine right and wrong. Do we know something is wrong because we have always been taught that it is wrong, or is there some intrinsic knowledge of the universe we are born with that helps us to avoid moral uncertainty? Maybe it’s some combination of both. The big questions come up and they’re not always easy to answer. So how do we eventually settle on our own moral compass? And how do we allow that compass to evolve as we evolve? There are a lot of reasons I was reflecting on this, personally, but an example that occurred to me as a way of illustrating the broader question was one I’m more familiar with. I’ve always defined myself as a Christian. I have also defined myself as not heterosexual for the entirety of my adult life. But many that subscribe to the teachings of Christianity say that if it’s not hetero, it’s a big no no in the eyes of the big guy. So, how is that apparent conflict resolved? Tough question. And one that doesn’t have an easy answer. Lots of soul searching and tears and angst happened before I found some peace with that aspect of myself, but I still can’t easily explain the hows or the whys. Lately, though, my reflections have taken me down a bit of a different path in terms of moral ambiguity. I can’t say I’m questioning my faith, because I still feel a very deep certainty as far as that goes. I think what I am questioning is the limitations imposed upon us by those professing to have a direct line to heaven. I find myself very uncertain about some of the rules and regulations. I get the big ones. Totally. Don’t kill people and all that jazz. It’s the little ones that I find myself taking issue with. I feel like if we could have a direct translation of the big book, the story we’d hear might be a lot different than the one we’ve been told.

“All we can confess of what we are has in it the defeat of isolation– If not our own, then someone’s, anyway.”

“Regarding your lifestyle, it is not something I condone or support or agree with.”

I have read those words several times and I am still struggling to understand them. I don’t spend a lot of time writing about my personal experiences with homophobia and bigotry, largely because I have not been on the receiving end of a lot of it, at least not in a deeply personal way. But you see, my best friend wrote those words to me. And while I can’t say I didn’t expect it, somehow seeing it in writing still has me reeling. I guess the reality is that this person has not been my best friend for a long time, yet I hesitated to ask the question that would cement that truth as permanent. But last week I decided enough was enough. I was going to send one last message and then I was going to let go. I don’t think I expected to hear back. I almost wish I hadn’t. I wonder if it’s less heartbreaking to learn by omission.

I actually intended to start getting in some serious writing this month, to start pulling together my thoughts into something a bit more cohesive, but after I received that message, I was overwhelmed with anxiety every time I thought about writing. I guess I was afraid of what might come out. I still am, really, but I can either let this marinate in me like poison or I can try to find the words to say goodbye.

And therein lies the difficulty. I didn’t ask for this goodbye. I didn’t want it. All I wanted to hear was that the reason we don’t talk much anymore has everything to do with her being busy with family and nothing to do with my choosing to marry a woman. I have been out and proud SINCE THE DAY WE MET. Nothing about that has changed, except that I’m legally married to a woman now. Woo freaking hoo. Who I am married to has zero impact on the content of my character. So I don’t understand it. And I am hurt and I am angry and I feel completely bewildered as to how I am supposed to respond. Or IF I even should. And it kills me because if some random on the street said something like that to me, I would have no shortage of words with which to respond. And I wouldn’t hesitate for a second to use all of them. But now it’s personal and painful.

You’d think it’s be NBD. I mean, plenty of people said horrid things about my wife and me all over the internet when the farm story broke. You’d think after that barrage of vitriolic garbage, I’d be immune to something so small. Apparently that is not the case. So my apologies to any of you out there reading this horribly stilted and awkward blog. The truth is, words are failing me and I don’t know how to deal with that.

You know, I considered writing back or blogging or doing something with words in the heat of the moment, right after I read the message, but I curbed that impulse. I worried that I would use the wrong words and do irreparable damage. But the damage was already done and the only thing I managed to do was lose what words I had for dealing with this. I regret that. The words I had then might not have been perfect, but at least they would have been true. 

I guess this week’s lesson about being a grown up is that you shouldn’t ask the question if you aren’t ready for the answer.

Liebster Blog Award

 

My good friend Kelly over at Catch Kelly’s Fancy nominated me for a super fun blogging award last week. The Liebster Award is for blogs with less than 200 followers, and it works like this: I tell you 11 facts about myself, answer Kelly’s 11 questions, then post my own set of questions and nominate more blogs! As I’m a bit of a blogging novice, I am going to satisfy the first two criteria, but hold off on making my own nominations since the only blogs I follow that qualify for the award have already received it. So. Here we go.

Some stuff about me

1. The idea of being perceived as unintelligent is abhorrent to me. I graduated from the kind of high school where going on to a four university and graduating within four years made you the exception rather than the rule and I was certainly not one of the exceptions. I’ve spent every minute since I left Florida trying to make up for that.

2. I get a huge kick out of being able to shop in the kids’ shoe department. Some of my favorite boots ever had a teeny Disney Shake It Up logo above the heel that was not noticeable at all, but I thought it was hilarious.

3. I just found out that I’m allergic to trees. All of them.

4. I think maybe I’m a better person than I used to be, but old me had some good qualities and I’m struggling with trying to figure out how to incorporate them into new me.

5. I didn’t get into the one grad program that I applied to which led to a complete breakdown in an East Village coffee shoppe. Not one of my finer moments.

6. I’m not a fan of most grown up literature. I tend to shop almost exclusively in the YA Paranormal section. And I’m not ashamed. Mostly. The redeeming fact here is that I despised Twilight.

7. I miss the sunshine, but I will never move back to Florida.

8. I just found out that teacup pigs aren’t actually a thing and it broke my heart.

9. I’m fascinated by the idea of Christianity and witchcraft being combined, but my upbringing has thus far prevented me from giving the idea more than a cursory amount of attention. I think embarking on a study of this idea will be a spiritual journey for me and I’m not in a place where I’m ready to undertake that. However, I feel pretty certain that at some point in my life I will be and it will be fascinating.

10. Sometimes I miss Albany and think it was a mistake to leave.

11. I have an uncanny ability to track down the best chai latte in any zip code.

Kelly’s Questions

1. Do you consider yourself an introvert, an extrovert, or an ambivert (an equal mix)? Why?

-This is actually complicated for me. I used to be an extrovert, but over the past several years that has changed. However, I recently learned that I have a thyroid problem which may have contributed to some of that because it can cause depression and anxiety. So as of today I’m more strongly oriented to introversion, but I think perhaps that will change once my body starts acting the way it’s supposed to.

2. What was your dream career as a child?

-Well, when I was in third grade I started reading Lurlene McDaniel books and decided I was going to cure childhood cancers. Then I hit puberty and got shallow and squeamish and settled on being an actor.

 

3. What was the last book you read that made you cry?

-The Tao of Martha: My Year of LIVING; or, Why I’m Never Getting All That Glitter Off of the Dog by Jen Lancaster. My tears, though, were tears of mirth. I spent a couple of evenings cackling to myself over this book certain my wife was going to wake up and think I was insane. Literally, I was in hysterics. So. Good.

 

4. If you could have unlimited free ice cream or unlimited free cake, which would you choose and what flavor?

-Ice cream! Ben & Jerry’s Imagine Whirled Peace. This stuff is like crack.

 

5. Where’s the farthest you’ve ever traveled?

-Vegas for my honeymoon. I’m plotting a trip to Europe in that ever distant “someday” though.

 

6. If you could have lunch (or drinks) with an author of your choosing, who would you pick?

-I would LOVE to have drinks with Lev Grossman so I could ask him why he wrote a book that took all of the joy out of magic.

7. What’s your favorite movie based off of a book? Least favorite?

-Favorite is definitely Perks of Being a Wallflower- I think it was exceptionally well done. Least favorite includes the first several Harry Potter movies. Don’t get me wrong, I loved them, but I also thought they left out some really great stuff. I mean seriously, we’re a nerdy fandom- we’ll gladly sit though a longer movie if you’ll just include ALL THE THINGS! I was horribly disappointed not to see the Potions logic game at the end of Sorcerer’s Stone.

8. Do you have a favorite word? If so, what is it?

-I like so many words! Facetious might be one of my very favorites, though. I’m also a big fan of Ethereal and Automaton. Ooh, and Whimsical!

 

9. If everyone around you suddenly burst into song and choreography, would you join in or run in the opposite direction?

-I wish that would happen every day of my life. I would so join in.

 

10. Where’s your favorite place to read?

-My favorite ever was at Emack and Bolio’s in Albany, sitting at one of their outside tables under the trees. Perfection. These days I settle for my balcony if the weather is nice.

 

11. Which fictional character would you marry if you could?

-I’m gonna give the cop-out answer on this one and say I’m already married. (Mostly because I can’t think of any answers that aren’t predictable and a tad cheesy. :p )

 

Nominations and questions to follow eventually!