Sunday, March 9, 2008
What's a guy supposed to do? There have been times when I have gotten in trouble for my dress assembly. I went through a phase in college where I was really into collecting knives, mainly hunting knives. Now, I've never hunted a day in my life, and personally, I don't care for the activity. My interest in hunting knives was an interest in knives, not hunting.
I purchased this very cool knife one time at this midwestern fair. I still have it today. It is this amazing, Texas toothpick, hunting knife. It's so rad. I love it. In any case, one day I was getting dressed at college, and I thought of the coolest idea. I would wear my camouflage, army pants, black boots, black t-shirt, and my knife, locked and loaded, attached to my boot. It looked so badass.
As I've mentioned in previous writings, I attended a conservative, evangelical Christian college. And it probably goes without saying, but dressing in that style and going to morning, religious services did not show a great deal of prudence on my part; although, I never thought it would cause the stir it caused. I was pulled aside by the campus police, because someone called me in, stating that my dress was very threatening, and that they were worried that I may do harm to someone.
Are you f'n kidding me? I'll tell you what, after being pulled aside like that, I most certainly wanted to do harm to someone.
Well, eventually, my camouflage clothing days faded away, and I moved on to other fashion styles, and some of them people actually liked.
Now, jump ahead with me. A couple of months ago, I was getting my daughter dressed for the day. I picked out a shirt and pants that looked good together. My daughter, with eyebrows raised, was incredulous. She said, "Daddy, that doesn't even match! Let me do it."
My daughter is three. . . .
Some things never change.
Saturday, March 8, 2008
My friend Matt wanted to comfort me. He said, "I'm sure your mom will be fine." I said, "And what if she doesn't make it? Whether she makes it or not, her life is in the hands of God." I've never really been good at duping myself, at pretending that everything always works out for the best. It's not the way life is. My mom will die some day, and it may be on Monday or Tuesday or 20 years from now, but the one thing I can't do is pretend that this may not happen soon.
I couldn't keep a smile while with her. She's scared as hell. She's so torn, so sad. I am so sad, so torn. I couldn't do much except cry today. I wanted her to hold me like she did when I failed that test in the 5th grade. I wanted her to hug me like she did when I was busted for shoplifting, and the store owner wanted to press charges. I wanted to hold her and let her know that I am in pain, as well.
I knew when I reflected on Joan of Arcadia that God was telling me to pay attention and prepare myself.
I sat there in the hospital room and wondered if I was ready for all of this, and these tears that run down my face right now have no simple solution. The bear has jumped out in front of me and is loudly roaring.
or you can take it right between the eyes
suck up, suck up, and take your medicine
it's a good day, it's a good day to face the hard things."
Cloud Cult, 'Take your Medicine'
Friday, March 7, 2008
I was feeling rather anxious on my birthday today. Didn't know why. I took a nap and I had a dream about my tooth falling out for no reason. Apparently, teeth dreams are about blocked anxiety within a person's life. Why was I feeling anxious?
I suspected that it was because my mom went into the hospital for an explorative scope; the doctors wanted to see if there was any blockage to her arteries. My ma doesn't have a crazy amount of medical problems, but she does have some concerns.
The procedure was only supposed to last a couple of hours, and then she would be released from the hospital within the same day. Perhaps I was feeling anxiety because of this. I hadn't heard from my dad, and I was slightly worried.
When I went out for dinner with Tessin this evening I couldn't concentrate on the meal. I needed to find out what was going on. I called my dad and he told me that they had to admit my mother to the hospital because she needs an immediate triple bypass on her heart. You heard me right: a TRIPLE bypass.
I don't know how I feel. I'm numb. I feel as if death is approaching my mother. I'm trying to gear up for the worse. No sense to give myself some idea of false hope. For if she dies, that will make it much worse for me, if I sit there and say, "Oh, she'll be fine." I am much more of a realist than that. I am not afraid of death. We all must die. But though I know death's inevitability, I am sad about death, and the thought that I will lose my mother one day. I just don't want it to be now; yet, I sense that this is one of the signs I was sensing a couple of weeks ago. And oddly enough, I feel as if there are more signs to come. This is only the beginning.
Do you remember back in that April of 1993, back when I was on that desperate train that had gone far out of control? Do you remember? I called you one day because I wasn't sure if I was going to make it. I tried to call my mom and tell her that I was in pain. I tried to tell my mom that I never really wanted that boy to take advantage of me. I tried to tell my mom without really telling her, but she couldn't see that I was bleeding, so she just kept cutting. And I was almost bled out, Charlie. I almost bled it all out on that day, Charlie. My thoughts were cutting me, and I wanted to jump from that train. I was almost convinced that jumping would be fun. I almost couldn't see past the moment of my jump, but then I called you. And you listened. And you pulled out that bandage. And I cried because it hurt so bad, Charlie. And I never saw God more clearly than on that day. You listened. You prayed. You let me cry, Charlie. And I almost couldn't take it. I wanted to punch my head through a wall, so all the blood could come out at once. And you never made me feel bad for that.
If ever the time comes, I would gladly lay down my life for you, Charlie. You have always been the soft whisper of God in my darkest nights.
It's strange how timely it has been for your footsteps, your friendship to enter into my life. I know you think that you don't have the magic words to speak me out of the whirlwinds and hurricanes that beset my path, but you, Irish soul, listen graciously with heart. Your words and thoughts have brought comfort to me. It was you, in my darkest moments in the fading autumn light, who reminded me that darkness was only the absence of light; darkness truly doesn't exist within a relationship unto itself. It corresponds to the degree of light. Darkness can only exist if light dims herself; darkness can never take over light. It was you who reminded me of this simple truth. And I know I've said this to you before, but it's worth saying again, you, with laughter and truth, have melted some burden down. Ferron said it best:
And I found that all the world could love you save for one. And I don't know why it is, but that kiss will be the haunted one. You'll pine and weep and you'll lose good sleep and you'll think your life has come undone, until you learn to turn and spurn that bitter wind.
So, that's it. I'm learning to turn and spurn that bitter wind. I just wanted you to know that I am deeply blessed to have your friendship in my life, at this time. And when you do finally resign yourself to those Irish shores, know that you will always be irreplaceable within my heart.
Dear Charlie. Dear Aine. I think on you two today, my birthday, and the friendships you've bestowed upon me. And with this, I give thanks.
Mostly what I choose to make it; mostly almost done.
And yet, as I breathe, as I know,
We, (mostly I), are fortunate to dance with each other
in time, in step. Who knows what our silence will bring? Who knows if we will be awakened, or sleep with sleep, dreaming
about it all again? For now, I am grateful to curl in my bed,
returning back to that place where I almost knew all the
answers. Birthdays should not feel sad; yet, something about
the rain coming down causes me to focus on the rain coming
down. I am the perfect seven on the dice, so humbled and
gracious for all of you beautiful friends. All of you.
Happy birthday to me.
Sunday, March 2, 2008
The Rubik's Cube: A theory in defense
of the existence of God
We've all seen the Rubik's Cube; that six sided enigma that has perplexed simpletons and the brain-powered. To some mathematical geniuses, it is just a fascinating equation, one that can be solved using a minimal amount of moves. To me, it was, and remains to be, a luring quandary.
I started playing with the cube when I was 10. I studied books on the cube, and would spend hours trying to solve it. When I eventually solved, (with the help of some suggestive books), I decided to mix and match different approaches in solving the cube. (I've never been quite good at following someone else's approach.) I had Rubik's cube books that claimed the cube could be solved in 45 seconds or less. I've never been able to solve it that quickly. My fastest time was 70 seconds.
When I was younger I focused on results, (e.g., how fast could I solve it, why is it so hard to turn at times). I wanted to do it faster and faster. But alas! 70 seconds was the best time I could get. Eventually, I got bored with the Rubik's Cube, and I put it away.
Within the last six months, I mentioned at a show about my Rubik's Cube abilities. After this show, a girl came up to me, holding out her cube, asking me to solve it. I froze. I hadn't seriously tried to solve the cube for more than (Gulp!) 20 years. And because the cube is not a mathematical equation to me, (geometry was the only math I disdained), I was stuck. I couldn't solve it. I couldn't remember my moves. I walked away embarrassed that I even mentioned my Rubik's Cube days.
I went home determined to solve the cube, once again. Within hours, I was able to solve the cube; I rediscovered the process. It's odd how things start to come back to you when you haven't done an activity for so long.
This time around, though, I was intrigued by the process, the "how," and not the "how fast." There are hundreds, maybe thousands of ways to solve the cube. I have my series of 20+ ways. One approach that remains consistent with me is that I start off solving the cube by working on two opposites first. The color patterns are always the same: red/orange, blue/green, white/yellow. Therefore, if I choose the yellow as my first color, the white side will follow. Before fully completing those two sides, I arrange the corners of the four remaining colors, and then I finish the rest of the two colors with which I began.
Upon completion of the initial colors, I work on completing the remaining four sides. However, in order to complete the remaining four sides, one must be willing to "upset" the order of the two completed sides. When I am solving the cube I don't even pay any attention to this disturbance; it is what is necessary when I am trying to solve the cube. I thought about how wonderful of a metaphor solving the Rubik's Cube is for life. If there is a lot of distractions and disturbances and confusion for a relatively simple cubed equation, what more can be said for the distractions and disturbances and confusions within the multi-variables of life?
As some of you are aware, I am intrigued by philosophical and religious meanderings. I love to sit and ponder; this brings me joy. Lately, I've been reading and listening to discussions about Evil. For those of you who are unaware, the problem of evil is the chief weapon for atheists in their defense that God does not exist. Personally, I believe God exists. Yet, I can't just ignore this serious premise: If God exists, why would God allow evil? If God is loving and benevolent, almighty and omnipresent, why would God allow bad things to happen to good people? Why is there suffering?
For the sanctity of blogging, and for the sanity of my reading audience, I will keep this discussion to simplicity; yet, I recognize that even simplified, this discussion can be discoursed equally as well with mushrooms, as with sobriety. By the very nature of this discussion being philosophical, some of you may bow out right about now. For those of you who are still around, let us enjoy one another's company.
I can get bogged down with themes such as the local and global arguments from evil, the idea of God, the hiddenness of God, and the suffering of animals to approach this discussion. However, time and interest is of the essence; therefore, allow me to draw upon my rediscovery of solving the Rubik's Cube as a general, but faulty, approximation of why evil exists.
Earlier, as you may recall, I mentioned two salient points concerning the cube that I would like to infuse within this discussion. First point being, there are multiple methods to understanding and solving the cube. Secondly, the process in which I take requires the disruption of seeming perfection in order to obtain holistic perfection. In other words, I must first destroy the two sides I solve in order to complete the remaining four sides.
Could not the Rubik's Cube, in theory, be seen as a working metaphor to address this question? What if life, as we know it, (or life unbeknownst to us), is working to achieve some level of perfection? And what if this journey is far more extravagant than some simple cube? What if the mathematical computations are played out through billions of years, with infinite possibilities, with pieces (i.e., people and things) that don't necessarily fit within their given time and space, and can only later be understood through reflection or the revelation of other factors? What if God is beyond the scope we place on God? Beyond the books and sermons and suicides and prayers and judgments and boxes in which God so neatly fits? What if God can only be God? What if stopping all the evil would no more be of God than stopping all the good?
When I solve the cube I solve two opposite sides first; the opposites work in tandem with one another. They work together and rarely against each other. What if these opposite sides were to be seen as love/hate, evil/good, suffering/healing? What if to God the framework is not greater and lesser evils, but rather, greater and lesser goods? And what if it is about the intentions of things, rather than the acts themselves? For example, if I say to you is a mother evil if she purposefully shoots her child? Would it matter if I told you the mother was mentally ill? A criminal? Or if I told you that the mother had been wounded during war time, dying, and her eight year old girl would be raped, tortured, and killed by her captors. Would that make a difference?
We can only see through this glass darkly. We are trapped within the immediacy of our time. We attempt to understand the pieces of this cube we call life, but we don't know the intentions or strategy of the Cube Solver. Onlookers can only gasp and remain baffled by the movement of life within God's hands, and what appears to be the destruction of perfection, what we label as evil, could in the end, be set to serve the greater good.
You twice asked me to completely move on,
as if it were like stretching,
and not like rubbing sand to make diamonds.
I am amazed, blinded by your persistent
faith, by your dedicated, Catholic belief
that we are wrong for each other.
I wish I could sing like a lute;
words aside, harmonizing to your lilting voice.
But alas! I have lost. I am jazz to your self-reflective pop.
I once avoided an argument with you
over the use of the word ironic by Alanis Morissette.
We both remained smitten by her song.
It appears ironic to me that you were the only
one who fastidiously held to your druthers
that my death was not rapidly approaching.
This is ironic because, in truth, it was your hand,
thrusting that heavy dagger of disbelief
up under my rib, piercing my heart, and bleeding me out.