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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

knots and honey badgers

the only thing that's changed, is that thinking about tertiary matters makes me laugh instead of freeze up. they were never the decision makers anyway, but now they interfere only with minor behaviors and thought patterns. it surprises me that james proved so helpful in this matter, but perhaps that's because i didn't realize how much my 'fear' of essencia was affecting my process.

well, the process is nearly done, at least with regard to making a cooperative decision. talk about mixed feelings: anxiety all through my core, and into my throat. a foretaste of relief. longing for past blessings. a sharp, cold ache for what's probably permanently lost. and when i think about the possibility of leaving, i feel a dull disinterest, maybe because i expect nothing can compare with the journey i've enjoyed here.

even apart from my selfish desires, i would wish for you to move on from all things past. to shape something completely new, instead of trying to fix what's broken. it would be arrogant of me to prescribe anything while knowing so little, but i know that there's so much more and better in store for you, and even though it seems i will give you not one particle of that, i still want just as much for you to have it all. i want all good things for you, no matter where they come from. i would rather you have them sooner than later, because you are important to me. i care about you as fervently as i ever have.

tomorrow i'll find out whether that matters at all, and whether it makes any sense to continue. (not sure i have much choice at the heart level, but it isn't as though i'll ever give up the battle for that unruly element of me.)

tomorrow i'll find out whether anything can be rebuilt. i'm ashamed to say a small portion of me hopes not, because it is so tired of opposing something so massive, of trying to unravel something so well woven. 

inertia 1, honey badger 0.

this post's alternate title: broken record record record

~     ~     ~

i've tried so many times to distill what i want to say to you, but something original emerges each time, half-formed and riddled with unanswerable questions. as a result, i'll request that you speak first, because otherwise i'll do that thing where i try to move several directions at once. (turns out that method of locomotion is ineffective.)

i don't even know what to pray for. that alone should give you a good enough idea of how messed up this situation is.

within me these things brawl incessantly: anger, disappointment, gratitude, determination, listlessness, despair, apathy (mostly just gets in the way instead of throwing punches), and so on. i don't think it matters much which wins, as long as i do what's right.

i hate it when sorting through right and wrong things leaves me with remainders that don't fit in either basket. i hate that so much.

please forgive me if i mess up or fall short tomorrow. please don't leave with any loose ends dangling or lights of hope flickering or shadows of pain fluttering. this needs cleanup. maybe it won't end well but it can at least end definitively. i hope for that, for both of us. i know i need it. 

if i could ask only one question: "what do you need?" but i'm thinking i don't have whatever that is.


Sunday, February 23, 2014

out on the moonlit floor

disclaimer: this post is about sex, sort of. if it challenges you to expand your comfort zone, good; not my intention, but lucky you that it's a natural byproduct of my ramblings.

credit for this post goes first to the man from Nazareth, and second to my favorite pagan, who is helping me learn how to be human. thank you both.

~     ~     ~

i was hijacked at an early age. found a magazine in an empty field, under tattered remnants of a sleeping bag. Dad talked with me about it when he found it in my room, and actually, he did a great job... it was probably one of the best conversations he ever had with me. from that point on, though, it was a losing battle. Groundhog Day, for years, and then more years.

three serious relationships later (plus a few unplanned-and-therefore-inevitable casual encounters), i finally managed to destroy myself. to this day (and probably in perpetuity) it remains my most gloriously abominable accomplishment, especially since i managed to damage several others in the process-- not to mention all of the friends i was forced to abandon.

the good news is that that's over, and now i'm a new person.
the bad news is that i no longer have the slightest effing clue what i'm supposed to be doing.

~     ~     ~

now, that is very different than not knowing what i want. i have a strong idea. i think about it almost daily. and, it's also not the same as not knowing what i'm capable of, nor am i clueless about what my options are. all of that is vaguely clear to me; i get the gist. what bothers me is the sudden freedom (and therefore ambiguity) that comes from being free of the constant battle between black and white. not that i don't struggle, but that doesn't consume all of my resources anymore.

in other words: now that i'm not barreling down the road to perdition, i have the privilege and challenge of choosing which other road to take.

and yeah, i know: i've got what isaiah would call an attitude problem. (i call it confidence, or swagger at worst, but whatever.) and that's definitely genuine; i'm not doubting myself in any respect. but, all the swagger in the world would still leave me with decisions to make. so, after so many words on the topics of essencia and relationships and the pursuit of happiness, there's still so much work to do. ugh... work. gross. 

i take that back a little bit. this kind of work can be fun. not that i'd know where to start, since i've never pursued a woman romantically before, but from what i hear i guess it can be pretty exciting. isaiah's mostly an idiot when it comes to casual social interactions but i'm sure we could work something out, as long as we agreed on the end goal.

if he had it his way, he'd add some commentary as i typed this out. he'd be interrupting every paragraph to talk about how he'll never do such-and-such because it's blah-blah-blah and whatever. screw him; this is my post, and i'll speak my effing mind. if he wants he can submit a comment, same as everyone else who isn't the post's author. i might even not delete it.  ^.^

unfortunately i still don't have any kind of plan whatsoever. so instead i'll just talk about kissing.

~     ~     ~

as i said earlier: the process of ruination started early. most of my experiences contributed to my confusion and taught me nothing true or noble or right or pure or lovely or excellent or admirable or praiseworthy... i had to learn about those things the hard way. but, check it out: i did eventually learn something good. it's this thing where to people touch their lips together a certain way and, contrary to the foolish opinion i held for so long, it's pretty awesome. 

"james, did i just hear you right? you thought kissing was lame?"

honestly, yes. didn't do a whole lot for me.

"how is that even possible."

it's possible, and probable, because compared to my Designed Image, i was somewhere between a Picasso and a missing link.

"what's that mean?"

it means my soul had been disfigured.

"oh. ........what's that mean?"

it's like when you apply the Unholy Abomination filter to a selfie.


more than gross. it affects the way you see yourself, the way the world sees you, the way you interact with the world... everything. try getting dressed in the morning, hung over, in complete darkness, in a stranger's closet. in this isaiah & i agree: we all were and are and will be (for awhile longer) shattered mirrors, seeing through that Unholy filter, dimly.

enough about that. you get the point.

"what does any of this have to do with kissing?"

the reason i was never really into it, is because i had forcibly disconnected (mostly) my emotional self from my sexual identity. this had the now-obvious effect of making me more like an animal than a person, in romantic situations.

"that sounds hellish."


"then what happened?"

got rescued.

"and now?"

now i would give my left you-know-what just to touch the face of someone who wanted their face touched. now i would discorporate blissfully into a non-Newtonian substance if someone's lips touched mine. now i want more than two hugs a year (gasp!). now when i think about romance, i think in joules and pure pathos. one point twenty-one metaphysical gigawatts via vestibulum oris. when i think about romance, i think about expressing my love for someone in ways that transcend and yet happen to depend on my body.

~     ~     ~

"what do you do for a living?"

i do quality control and tech support / service for a company that sells and installs photovoltaics.

"what's that mean?"

it means i am regularly interacting with circuits that contain greater than 20 amperes at voltages between 200 and 600.

"isn't that kind of a lot?"

if you put a new state-of-the-art electric stove in your kitchen, it will probably use a maximum of 40 amperes at 240 volts. if you've ever shocked yourself while plugging in a lamp or other small appliance, your appendage experienced less than 5 amperes at about 120 volts. so, trust me when i say i know what it feels like to be electrocuted. stupid co-workers... i have mostly disdain for the ridiculous safety measures OSHA requires in our industry, but when it comes to electricity specifically, i kinda understand why they get paid to be paranoid and bossy.

sooooo, kissing... i believe we refer to this as "first base" in today's culture. pardon me, but this perplexes the proverbial shit out of me. how is kissing the least of the sexual interactions?! the people who came up with this hierarchy obviously have yet to experience electrocution. i should arrange this.

i can't downplay any particular element of sex (the other bases); rather, i want to un-downplay kissing, because whoever wrote pop culture's rules on the matter clearly did violence to the original Text with their careless redaction. i'll repeat myself for emphasis: just to touch someone's face with a fingertip would be enough to make me shiver head-to-toe. why is this true of me now, after years of oblivious numbness? because some important spiritual synaptic connections had been severed and/or hot-wired. 

(by 'spiritual' i mean in this case the transitions and intertwining areas between mind and heart and body, rather than the soul.)

all of this means that i was once effectively worse than dead: i was twisted. now, i am not only alive, but closer to my self, which has long been depriving itself of nourishment. it's a weird feeling, being healthier and yet hungrier. kinda like giving up some addiction cold-turkey: at some point you realize that you have an appetite for what's good for you, and that thing you had trained yourself to crave seems like garbage.

which, of course, it is. and that thing you want instead is something you actually need, which means the appetite is actually stronger, in a way. kinda sucks, actually. sort of.

none of this gives me any insight into my future, except that i know what it will not look like. i will not gorge myself on junk food, nor lose control when something deceptively delish presents itself. no more doughnuts.

it isn't exactly easy now, but still i strongly prefer these appetites over the previous chapters'. i would rather crave the feeling of a few fingertips on my shoulder; i would much rather receive strong, genuine affection via one hug than strive desperately (in futility) for satisfaction through purely physical interactions. these new desires, for essencia, are not comfortable... but at least they are not unhealthy.

i expect them to mostly go unfulfilled; but, again, this is far better than what i've left behind. and if i remain a distracted and whiny single person for the rest of my life, i will still live in gratitude for what the Redeemer wrought, with pain and grace, at the point where i could have been destroyed permanently, but was instead rescued for... some purpose i have yet to discover.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

in between


you probably won't read this; i don't plan to ask that of you, since i know long readings go against your grain. but the things i needwant to say this time will organize themselves if i speak as though to you. so, thanks for letting me volunteer you as my primary audience. i owe you one [more].

~     ~     ~

maybe i should view it as a gift, that i'm socially awkward by default. i've built up a resistance to the feeling of being out-of-place. which is why i could stand very close to several people i didn't know, without making any nervous gestures or gluing my face to my phone. i did eventually cave and spend time with the people i knew and liked best; but it was my first night back, and i should probably cut myself some slack.

when you asked me at the end, how i felt about everything, i shouldn't've answered. experiences like this are like steaks. they need to be digested slowly. this time right now is actually the first block of time i've dedicated to it. i probably won't be done by the time i attend Leverage again. but anyway: i said that it felt different. i told you the drive was gone, the force that used to push me forward inexorably to collect everyone's middle name and ask personal questions of people without even introducing myself.

that's still true; the fire seems to be out. but i find that the sense of fulfillment after caring for people seems to be intact. things as simple as giving my coat to someone who's shivering, or paying for a kid's ice cream, make me feel like what i do matters. listening attentively to someone who has trouble speaking (and obviously lacks confidence for that reason) feels incredible. i love doing it. i love loving people who have been underloved.

Pastor told me Sunday morning that he'd been praying for me this past week, not with any specific request but for general guidance as a member of CCC. i told him that my schedule outside of work had been quiet in recent weeks until this week. suddenly opportunities are bubbling to the surface: friends and acquaintances asking for prayer & various kinds of help, my reattendance at Leverage, our upcoming Thursday meeting with all of its ramifications, etc... and all of this seems quite normal to me in the context of our church's current chapter. 

i wish i could make this post all about resolve and decisions. i wish i could tag it #success #growth #needs. unfortunately it's all still pretty vague. key pieces are still missing; i still don't even have the big picture for this puzzle. i don't know where i'll be living four months from now. i don't know what my ministry will look like.

more significantly: i don't know what i want it to look like.

i know that i will spend the rest of my life hunting for opportunities to care for people. the questions are: which people? how? where? and the more i agonize over these questions, the more i realize that i'm not nearly as picky as i used to be. it doesn't make sense, to try traveling backwards, as much as i miss previous chapters. i hate the way certain arcs ended; i hate leaving things undone. but i guess i'll just have to get over it.

it wouldn't be so difficult if i could look forward to my future. there are wonderful things coming; that's not in question. i just wonder whether there's more to anticipate than just the good things i have planned for myself. i spent so much time waiting for things to return to normal... and now i'm realizing they cannot. there isn't even a normal to return to anymore. so what comes next instead? how much say do i have in that? if i asked God what He wants, would He ask me what i want, or would He just hand me my assignment?

most likely: something in between.

Friday, February 14, 2014

something about me seems familiar

i want you back.

but not the rash, small-minded you who justified his outbursts by comparing himself to a messiah. he suffered from and gloried in myopia, and made mountains out of molehills, and mistook mistakes for predictions of the future. i don't want him back. his many faces bickered over the most minuscule matters, and his moods were mercurial. he found malice in every corner of every room of his home, and magnified it. no. not him.

instead: the one who knew who he was, every day and every night... or at least he behaved as though. give me back the one who chose the wrong paths with his jaw set firmly and his best foot forward, instead of cringing & awaiting the consequences. i want you back the way you were when theology of place made sense, when simple elemental things satisfied you. i want you back.

i want you to come back, by returning to the you who didn't just enjoy being alone, but knew he was alone. he was never truly independent, but at least he knew when to lock the world out. this new you takes boarders and couch surfers like he needs the extra income, like his misery not only loves company, but approves of it. i don't like him. i want you back.

and no one else. just you.

i want that reliable you who always kept his appointments with his imager, who could navigate those canyons and craters blindfolded. or half-asleep. or mostly dead. i want the back and forth you like ripples in a pond, or a tree's leaves; not like the wind. and not like bad wifi either. i want hard-line, deadline, front lines you who sang when his train stopped at the wrong platform and saved his last dollar for breakfast the next morning, who promised strangers he would see them again and never gave up searching for them.

i want you back. but only if you'll leave everything else behind, because all that extra garbage is getting old.

i want you back if you will only open up when things are quiet and no one is watching. i want you back if you can find words for everything but never enough words for anything. it isn't something of which to be ashamed. some things need endless words and some need none. i want you back if you are confident that you can tell the difference without me explaining it to you every time.

i want you back. and it will be different this time because i have that 20/20 going on now. better late than never. it will be different because i know what it costs me to rely, and to be reliable. it will be different because i've blogged about it enough to know better.

i want you back for good, so that we don't have to have this conversation again.
i want you back to back with me, so we can keep an eye out for anything that would separate us.
i want you back, blade in hand, demanding nothing less than victory over and over.
i want you back so that we can go forward, instead of in circles.

i want you back, because i can tell right away you're the kind of guy who never leaves things undone. and i have much to do, and to undo, because of you, with you, to you, for you, in you, around you, through you... and i loved that it was never really about you.

right now it's about you, and i really hate you for that.