Sunday, October 31, 2010


I often view my life as many broken pieces of a whole and beautiful existence waiting to be found and put back together. Here are a few of them for consideration. For any of the three or so readers that may pass by, I will kindly reiterate my disclaimer here.

I. When I turned 18 or so, my mom gave me a mix tape for my birthday. My mom, you see, isn't a great communicator, but passed on her love of music to me, and so as a result, it is a medium we both use extensively to address and express our deepest feelings. All the songs on the tape had meaning, but among the most memorable was that tune by Lynyrd Skynrd called "Simple Man."

You don't need to be a hardcore fan of the band to get this song:
    Mama told me when I was young Come sit beside me, my only son And listen closely to what I say And if you do this it'll help you some sunny day Oh, take your time don't live too fast Troubles will come and they will pass Go find a woman you'll find love And don't forget son there is someone up above And be a simple kind of man Be something you love and understand Baby be a simple kind of man Oh, won't you do this for me son if you can? Forget your lust for the rich man's gold All that you need is in your soul And you can do this, oh baby, if you try All that I want for you my son is to be satisfied And be a simple kind of man Be something you love and understand Baby be a simple kind of man Oh, won't you do this for me son if you can? Oh yes, I will Boy, don't you worry you'll find yourself Follow your heart and nothing else And you can do this, oh baby, if you try All that I want for you my son is to be satisfied And be a simple kind of man Be something you love and understand Baby be a simple kind of man Oh, won't you do this for me son if you can? Baby be a simple, be a simple man Be something you love and understand Baby be a simple kind of man (Songwriters: Ron Van Zant, Gary Rossington; lyrics found here)
Obviously, a lot has happened in nearly 20 years since, but the message here is timeless. I'm still working nearly every day to follow this advice.

II. This morning, I had the fortunate experience of mixing up my weeks. It was not the fourth Sunday, and I was not on duty in the preschool Sunday school room, as I'd thought. So I sat in the actual church service. Imagine that.

Now, I've discussed in varying degrees my faith and spirituality. According to Doctrine, I'm a clumsy and crude believer at best, but it is not uncommon for the spiritual energy handed out word after word from the pastor, or note after note from the choir or organist, to overwhelm me. It is always difficult for me to comprehend this experience, and it is never easy to have in front of anyone who knows me better than in passing. This isn't the way one should feel attending the church they were married in, their children were baptised in, et cetera, but it's true.

Today's sermon was entitled, "The Melting of the Wicked Witch;" the scripture was the story of Zacchaeus. In short, Rev. K (an avid fan of much of the same fiction so beloved to me) told us how in a particular presence--a Great Presence--all the wickedness upon a person can be stripped away, revealing only that which we were intended to be. (The example in title is after the Wicked Witch is melted by Dorothy's accidental splash, all the soldiers suddenly were glad of her demise. The example in scripture is after Zacchaeus was in the presence of Jesus, offered half his fortune to charity and to recompense those he'd cheated fourfold.)

III. There as been a great underground upheaval in my daily existence. Not a great tragedy, not a grand betrayal, not a life-changing family event... but something massively significant just the same. A part of me was called into question, and because that part sees so little daylight to begin with, its presentation in the glare of interrogation made everyone uncomfortable, and therefore suspicious. As a result, whispers turned to grumbles, and trepidation turned to tears. I learned a long time ago that the best way to save face is the keep the lower half of it shut. So I stopped expressing the questioned part, and, consequently, squelched an important piece of who I am. I am forced into this position until I can express this piece in a manner that is easily understood and survives the scrutiny of public examination. I am very afraid that if it takes too long to figure this out, this piece will again be driven underground, and the parts of my soul that depend on that spiritual and emotional nutrition it provides will fade and darken. And then nothing will have been solved.

IV. Inside me is a Core Being. While it has many complexities, it is essentially a simple Being, created with a Divine Purpose, grown and nurtured with all the Good I've encountered, tempered and taught patience with all the Bad. Everything I do and feel originates from this.

The problem is that in the course of my days, I've built complex filters and structures along and on top of this Core Being. Some have been meant to tweak or modify the experience others have of who and what this Being is, while others are meant to protect the Being from adverse emotional and spiritual surroundings.

The problem this creates is that I've compromised myself. In shielding others from those things I am afraid to show and share (or don't show/share well), I deprive those people of my True Self. In shielding myself from the negativity handed freely from many of the people I surround myself with, I dilute my awareness of my True Self and deprive myself of the ability to share it with people who are willing to accept it as-is.

Obviously, living in a society requires some such filters and protocols. Keeping a job, living in a neighborhood, raising children, and working a marriage all have different requirements of this sort. However, what I've missed, and what I think most people have missed, is that a person's job, friends, neighborhood, and family should all reflect who and what a person really is on the inside, as opposed to a person becoming defined by all those things. In truth, I don't think anyone can be truly defined by the life he lives publicly, though he can delude himself and others into thinking that is the case, and therefore seem happy and content.

What I am in need of (indeed, maybe what we all are in need of) is a Great Presence in which to immerse ourselves, and thereby remove all those filters and structures we put in place to make ourselves and everyone around us happy. What is the Real Happiness that is waiting for us when we strip away all the falseness, and share our True Selves with each other? How much are we losing? How tragic is it that we teach our children not to be True, but to live in this society/world and follow all its rules so we don't stand out (unless by virtue of having mastered those rules)?

Let us all stop a moment and wonder: What if we all just stopped pretending, and allowed ourselves to be the Beings were were made and intended to be?

Let this serve as a warning: I might be trying this soon.


  1. Well said. I eagerly await your test run of the you you've longed to share.

  2. I think and feel a similar thing quite often, that I hold a lot of myself back for one reason or another, and it manifests itself (or appears to others to be, anyway) conservatism. More and more I try to *not* do things simply because of convention and because it's what's expected. And more and more I get frustrated with myself when I perceive that I'm holding myself back and am being unsuccessful in one thing or another because I have to be "good" or "nice".

    It's been a recent joke around here that I need to turn "evil" and do whatever the hell I want for a change and see where it gets me. I guess it becomes a problem, especially in young/early adulthood when people go through their "selfish" phase where they do whatever they want and eff everyone else, and they don't realise the need for balance. Every system needs balance, and extremes either way (too accommodating/too selfish) disrupt that.

    For me, my challenge is identifying these 'filters' I've applied to myself and decide which are beneficial to me (either directly or because they let me interact with the ones I love) and which ones are detrimental. (And sometimes, when I'm being *really* introspective -'cause, you know, that *never* happens! ;) - which filters I need to apply.) I've identified a lot in the last 12-15 months and experienced quite a few different ways of life (hell, in 12 months alone I've gone from living at home to living with and caring for a grand parent to living alone to living overseas, living overseas in a sharehouse with friends and extensive back-packing).

    I know for myself that, right now, I don't know where I belong. I really am the ugly duckling as it were. Do you think it makes sense to say that we're all the ugly duckling because we haven't found the flock of geese we belong to yet (or was it a swan? I forget), and so these filters are how we try and fit in with the ducks? That's probably exactly what you already said :) And yeah, once we find the other flock we require fewer and fewer filters because they already love and accept us for 'who we are'. Thoughts?

  3. I think, Brad, that we are already surrounded by our flock, but neither we nor those around us recognize it due to the many fears and falsehoods we perpetuate to survive socially. This is one reason finding a mate can be so beneficial: if you do find someone you can truly be yourself with, they become a sanctuary.

    I think your friends may be right that you should probably let your inner crazyman out. But do it alone (or around strangers) first; that way you are sure you're not doing it for your friends' sake (and therefore not be influenced by their perception of how you ought to act in this state). You'll learn a lot about those filters when they're not in place. You'll forgive me for saying so, I'm sure, but you've never struck me as being "happy and content" (IV, paragraph 4), and so I don't think you'll have as much trouble throwing off those filters as someone who is, shall we say, better integrated socially. And that puts you ad an advantage.

    The only thing I'd say you're missing, my friend, is motivation. You're on the right path just by realizing this is a necessary journey, and IMHO, you are taking very appropriate steps just by virtue of living so freely and experimentally lately. I have my motivation, 'tis true, but I also am far behind others my age who might have a similar (exploratory) background to yours.

    Keep searching, keep learning, and never, ever freeze the design. Good luck.

  4. heh, you're forgiven, brother ;)

    You're right about the appeal of partners/companions. You don't have to worry so much about the crazy getting out so much because (hopefully) that's part of your appeal to them ;P That, or they see beyond it, just like we do with the ones we love: see past all their irrelevant BS to the things that are important.

    I agree whole heartedly re: me needing motivation. In the words of the great Joss Whedon (in the musical Buffy episode), I'm really just searching for something "to sing about." I think part of that is finding my gaggle, if there's one to be found.

    Life's definitely a looong journey for men like you and I. I know a LOT of people that aren't this introspective, or is it that they're just happy and content with what they find? Now take this with a grain of salt, because I'm saying it with the image if a samurai warrior-monk robot with the voice of George Takei floating around in my head, but maybe the trick to this whole introspection thing is learning to be happy with what we find? That it's okay to NOT be all of the man that we think we should be? Like that prayer: "Give me the strength to change the things I can, etc, etc."

  5. This reminds me of all the times the two of you would go off on a tangent and Nancy and I would look at each other and roll our eyes because we knew it was going to be a while before you came back to the real world. :) Ah memories!