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Friday, December 19, 2014

Free My Mind Friday Before Christmas

I've been pretty open about my bouts with depression as well as my physical health and I've been asked recently why I am so candid.  The person asking had a sneer on his face, as though I were passing gas rather than sharing intimate details of my time on this big blue ball.  He was actually offended that I would do so.  He clearly had a higher view of me than I have of myself because he felt it necessary to recite my resume' to me in a chastising and condescending tone as if I were giving away state's secrets.  My response to him was simple, to the point:  "Look, I don't give a damn what you think is appropriate or what isn't appropriate.  For me, it frees my mind in the hopes that maybe someone else can kick depression's ass by knowing they're not alone.  It's easier to let this stuff out of my head than it is to keep it bottled up for days like this when douchebags question me and I get the urge to rip their f*cking heads off."

He shut the hell up about it.

Some coping tools are probably not so healthy, but writing about the crap I've gone through isn't going to hurt anyone - unless I actually DO start revealing secrets.  But that's just not going to happen because it serves no purpose to hurt others intentionally.  For this little gray duck, it's all about trying to get healthy and helping other folks get healthy for as long as I can.  No one knows how much time we have left with one another here on earth, so it's best spent sharing the truth and maybe extending some love to one another.  Is that too much to ask?

This week has been a strange one.  The fact that we're actually seeing discussions about fracking near Lake Hefner - a major water source for the citizens of Oklahoma City, blows my mind.  I know that Oklahoma is all about the oil and gas industry and we're willing to drop trousers and bend over for any one of those energy companies, but seriously?  To me, it shows the absolute arrogance of the industry and the lack of spinal fortitude our elected officials have where they are concerned.  It proves that in the state of Oklahoma, every single elected official is bought and paid for by someone.  This is emblematic of the week, in my opinion.

Yes, Christmas is right around the corner and I confess, it's been a long time since I've had a holiday season that hasn't made me want to do bad things to people.  This year, however, it's been much nicer, much more palatable.  There is hope, there is joy and perhaps the meaning of the season itself is being made manifest in my life.  The concept of grace, mercy, the deliverance from the darkness of the human pathos - that's what Christmas is about.  Through the birth and sacrifice of One, the whole may be saved.

That's just my opinion, and I could be wrong.  But I seriously doubt it.


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Pain Is Supposed to Hurt

They loved and cared for one another in ways that were impossible to describe.  When together, it was as though nothing else in the world mattered, it was as though their breaths were dependent upon that of the other.  When they were apart, the glint in their eyes were there because of anticipation of being in each others' arms again.  They were perfect in every way - even when they fought, they did so with a hint of eagerness to make up, to apologize to one another with love and passion.  What the world couldn't see is that between the two of them, there was immense pain.  They knew that their days were limited, time was of a rare and precious commodity.  They didn't know the day, the hour, but they knew that they would have to say that one final goodbye.  He had been diagnosed with a terminal disease.  He would die.  He would leave her side.  On the surface, they were perfection.  Behind the passion, exists pain.

Everyone experiences pain - physical pain of one sort or another.  The human body is designed with nerves that feed information to the brain where pain receptors let us know that something is horribly wrong and action should be taken.  There are medicines available to relieve pain to be sure, but there's another type of pain that kills not only the body, but the spirit of man.  It's the pain that accompanies loneliness, the feeling of utter solitude even when surrounded by people.  It's cliche' to say, but we've heard the axiom of being in a crowded room and still feeling alone and it rings true.  The reasons for such solitude are varied and different for everyone.  It may be different, but it is equally devastating.

Over the course of a lifetime, each of us will experience loss and experience the subsequent pain that accompanies it.  There's a timing to life, a rythm to life, a pace if you will.  For example, parents shouldn't lose their children early in life and children shouldn't lose their parents at a young age.  We're just not hard-wired to handle that kind of trauma.  But still, we see it every day, we experience it within our sphere of influence whether we like it or not.  Life sucks at times and we're the ones being drawn into the tube of maladjusted consciousness, only to be stored in someone's trash heap of emotional carnage.

We lose relationships along the course of life's journey and that too causes a great deal of pain.  More so for some than others.  None of it is designed to be easy and all of it is supposed to cause us pain so we shouldn't be surprised when it hurts.  In some ways, we should embrace it because each one of those moments of loss, those moments of extreme pain build up emotional scar tissue.  Scar tissue deadens the nerve endings both emotionally and physically and sometimes, that's a damned good thing.

Approaching the Christmas holiday, it's important for us to remember that it's not easy for everyone.  No amount of neatly wrapped gifts can replace the energy that human touch and interaction can bring.  Without it, the pain for some is immeasurable.  We're not created to be independent creatures void of contact with one another.  We were created to have fellowship with one another. Is there someone in your life experiencing pain?  Is there someone in your life you suspect is experiencing pain but is just too broken to admit it?  Reach out.  It could reduce the amount of scar tissue build up in their lives...


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Closing the Book

I started writing about the garbage in my life here a few years ago.   I was told that it was the right thing to do, as it would compliment the radio show on WKY and give folks a chance to look a little deeper into the mind and soul of the artist formerly known as the "400lb Gorilla of Oklahoma Media."  I thought my friends were nuts, but they were right.  I've received quite a bit of feedback - both positive and negative - about my opinions, thoughts are various issues.  It's been a blessing either way.  I wouldn't trade any of this time for anything in the world.

From a political standpoint, legislatures across the nation are welcoming new faces, new ideas among their sacred chambers.  The hope for all of the electorate is that what has happened in the past, the adversarial policies could all be left behind.  Maybe, just maybe the future will bring something new and exciting and growth will take place.  In Washington, there's a bit of a changing of the guard, but we already expect more of the same.  The chapter continues...

My brother, Mark
In my days, I've faced some pretty intense adversity and admittedly, much of it is of my own doing.  I've made horrid decisions at many stages of my life on this planet and I've done some deplorable damage.  I think of the days before moving from my home state of Washington after serving 8 years in the Navy and they haunt me.  My brother lost most of his lower extremities due to diabetes and I wonder whether or not if I would have stayed there and took a more active role in his life if his world view would be different - maybe even save those limbs.  Then there's my cousin, Wayne.  He died a horrible death as a result of his lifestyle and I wonder if in that case were I there to plant my foot up his ass if wouldn't still be alive today.

And my two oldest children...Matthew and Heather.  God, what a disaster I've been as a father for them.  There's no one to blame but me.  It's the kind of thing that torments me daily.  They have become amazing adults, incredible human beings and this is in spite of my destructive force.

Mark, Me, Matthew, Dad
I see so many people around me who are having a rough go of it and I confess, I have no answers.  I hate the contrived, "I'll pray for you," sentiment because it's bullshit.  If you have time to "pray," you've got time to get off your ass hug someone's neck - and don't think I've got it down, because I am as guilty or more guilty than the average Joe.  I've tried to reach out, have spent a good portion of my life giving of myself to others but now, I'm just running on fumes.  I have to try and throw myself a life vest before saving the Titanic.  But it still hurts.  Where there is opportunity to be there for someone, I take it.

We often hear the axiom, "time to close that chapter and move on to the next one."  For some of us who have counseling resources on speed dial, we need to close the book and light it on fire and watch it burn until there is nothing left but a trace of an ash.  Over the last few years, I've written new chapters of my life, but they are all from the same story line.  I'm working toward that moment when it's released and the new existence begins.

Why all this depressing shit?  Well, I'm sure that there are many out there who are have a rough go of it during this Christmas season.  I used to think that I was probably the only person in the world experiencing this, but I've come to learn beyond the abstract, that there are others struggling to keep heads above water. Life isn't easy - much of the time it sucks ass.  But not being alone in the sojourn means so much...  To be able to look into the thoughts and heart of another may be the beginning of that walk of freedom instead of the walk of death.

Who knows?  Maybe you're reading the ramblings of a complete lunatic.  Time will tell.


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Evil Is As Evil Does

Let me give you fair warning now:  Some of what you're about to read will probably upset your conventional wisdom apple cart.  The discussion of evil and its impact on humanity is a serious subject - but not as serious as we often take ourselves.  This is not for the wimps among you, but rather, I implore you to put on your proverbial "big girl panties," grab a chair and join me around the dinner table of unfettered dialog.

Humanity, when left to its own devices, is incapable of anything but darkness and evil.  For my Christian brethren, read Romans 3 and you will see my premise underscored, highlighted and bolded for your protection.  For my humanist, secularist friends, one need only look at the empirical evidence provided every night on the evening news.   Story after story of one human being harming another, ripping off another, using the judicial system to screw over another human - if that's not enough evidence, consider the following:

  • Every 2 minutes, someone is sexually assaulted in this country.
  • 1 in 5 women and 1 in 7 men have experienced severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
  • 19.3 million women and 5.1 million men in the United States have experienced stalking in their lifetime.
In a previous blog entry, I covered some pretty scary statistics about domestic violence and how there is a massive under-reporting problem with violence against men in intimate relationships.  That being said, it's simply more evidence that humanity, when left to do what it will naturally do, will never choose to do "the right thing," but rather will embrace the darkness on one level or another.

Darkness doesn't just inhabit the innards of men.  Women are prone to evil just as much as men, but society tends to overlook the reprehensible behavior and attitudes of women because, I guess, the myth that they are the "weaker sex" is still prevalent in our culture.  It's easier and more acceptable on an emotional level to consider women "victims" than it is a man.  But even within those judgments themselves, there lies an evil desire to create imbalance.

Romans, Chapter 3 tells us quite loudly that "there is no one righteous, no not one," and that we have "altogether become useless."  Now, I know that comment goes directly against the doctrine of human potential, but I've already given you just a few examples of humanities inability to make the author of Romans a liar.  Then, in Romans 7, Paul gives is this incredible look at the dichotomous nature of the human existence - "For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing."  According to Paul, we are incapable of keeping at bay the dogs of war that exist within us, but admittedly at varied levels.  For example, how many of us have been on a diet and knowing that our efforts will be wasted by sucking down that fast food, but we do it anyway?  We know our "temple" will be jacked up, but we cannot completely abstain from that dark side of our humanity.

So, Paul asks the question in chapter 7, "Who will save me from this body of sin and death?"  The answer is obvious, and it's evident he's talking of the Christ.  And for me, I believe that.  I don't think that we can have true peace until we make it right with the Creator through the sacrifice that took place a couple thousand years ago, about a 20 minute walk outside of downtown Jerusalem.  And I will take it one step further:

While the act of salvation, the forensic declaration of righteousness is all about the individual, there is a social, a community aspect to it as well.

In other words, we're not intended to be alone and we sure as hell can't survive alone.

The darkness that overtakes us becomes less controlling when we're not alone.  When we have someone with whom we can bare our souls, with a friend who can embrace us regardless of what dirt we have under our fingernails, the evil in our hearts calms, becomes more quiet.  There is a part of all of us that exists through divine intervention that by the nature of its very existence, connects with the light that is in others.  When the puzzle pieces of our hearts don't fit, however, the evil is exacerbated and becomes more intense.  But when the light within us connects with the light of another who truly understands and accepts us as we are, we begin to see a glimpse of who we were designed and created to be.  It doesn't have to be a romantic interest either - it could be a best friend, a family member, someone who just "gets you."

I've seen the evil that men do and continue to do, and it's not pretty.  Hell, I'm honest with myself and I've seen my very own evil manifest itself and I've seen the fallout.  I own it.  It's mine and mine alone.  There's no one who can or will ever take this burden and remove the scars, but you know, I'm honest about it.  But I've also seen moments when I've been able to somehow, miraculously tap into the river of positive consciousness and do good.  Sure, it's rare, but it happens.

Life is more than politics.  Life is more than liberal vs conservative.  Life is more than a damned bumper sticker.  Life is not your denomination or lack thereof.  Life begins with the death of our expectations and dependence upon human potential.  It begins and flourishes when we realize our weakened and evil state doesn't have to own us.  We know that we're not perfect and it is in that real acceptance of who we are that we begin to experience freedom.  There's liberty in knowing the depths of our depravity when we know it doesn't always have to be that way.  And it's a beautiful thing we don't do it alone.

It's just my opinion and I could be wrong - but I seriously doubt it.