Because Monsters In the Night Really Suck

“When I became convinced that the Universe is natural — that all the ghosts and gods are myths, there entered into my brain, into my soul, into every drop of my blood, the sense, the feeling, the joy of freedom. The walls of my prison crumbled and fell, the dungeon was flooded with light and all the bolts, and bars, and manacles became dust. I was no longer a servant, a serf or a slave. There was for me no master in all the wide world — not even in infinite space. I was free — free to think, to express my thoughts — free to live to my own ideal — free to live for myself and those I loved — free to use all my faculties, all my senses — free to spread imagination’s wings — free to investigate, to guess and dream and hope — free to judge and determine for myself — free to reject all ignorant and cruel creeds, all the ”inspired” books that savages have produced, and all the barbarous legends of the past — free from popes and priests — free from all the ”called” and ”set apart” — free from sanctified mistakes and holy lies — free from the fear of eternal pain — free from the winged monsters of the night — free from devils, ghosts and gods.

For the first time I was free. There were no prohibited places in all the realms of thought — no air, no space, where fancy could not spread her painted wings — no chains for my limbs — no lashes for my back — no fires for my flesh — no master’s frown or threat — no following another’s steps — no need to bow, or cringe, or crawl, or utter lying words. I was free. I stood erect and fearlessly, joyously, faced all worlds.

And then my heart was filled with gratitude, with thankfulness, and went out in love to all the heroes, the thinkers who gave their lives for the liberty of hand and brain — for the freedom of labor and thought — to those who fell on the fierce fields of war, to those who died in dungeons bound with chains — to those who proudly mounted scaffold’s stairs — to those whose bones were crushed, whose flesh was scarred and torn — to those by fire consumed — to all the wise, the good, the brave of every land, whose thoughts and deeds have given freedom to the sons of men. And then I vowed to grasp the torch that they had held, and hold it high, that light might conquer darkness still.

Let us be true to ourselves — true to the facts we know, and let us, above all things, preserve the veracity of our souls. If there be gods we cannot help them, but we can assist our fellow-men. We cannot love the inconceivable, but we can love wife and child and friend.

We can be as honest as we are ignorant. If we are, when asked what is beyond the horizon of the known, we must say that we do not know. We can tell the truth, and we can enjoy the blessed freedom that the brave have won. We can destroy the monsters of superstition, the hissing snakes of ignorance and fear. We can drive from our minds the frightful things that tear and wound with beak and fang. We can civilize our fellow-men.

We can fill our lives with generous deeds, with loving words, with art and song, and all the ecstasies of love. We can flood our years with sunshine — with the divine climate of kindness, and we can drain to the last drop the golden cup of joy.”

Robert G. Ingersoll, 1896

This wonderful passage was borrowed from The Agnostic’s Wife, who borrowed it from her husband. 😉  This probably sums up the reason for my lack of belief better than any words I could ever muster. 

I was the kid in church (Church of Christ, fyi) who realized pretty early on the information just didn’t jibe with what I knew (even at a relatively young age) to be logic.  Let alone what I consider to be the profound nature of existence and humanity.  It just didn’t make sense, and I recall feeling isolated and strange.  Why doesn’t everyone else see this is pretty silly? Am I the only one who thinks this is nonsense?

I realized pretty quickly it was just a bunch of fables and parables to teach people how to live, mixed in with a lot of stuff to keep people oppressed. 

1 TIMOTHY 2:11-12
“Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. And I do not permit a woman to teach or have authority over a man, but to be in silence.”

I mean, really??  Women were not allowed to speak in our church.  Incidentally, my use of the term “our church” is about as loose as a city cop’s ticket-writing hand on a holiday weekend.  It was the church we attended, pretty much on Sunday mornings only (and not even every week) for a handful of years.  I stopped going not far into my teens. 

Now, that’s not to say I didn’t struggle with feeling “wrong” and “sinful” about my dissident thoughts (or just, you know, life in general) – religion is a hell of a torture device, no pun intended. 

Anyway, that was just one red flag about organized religion.  At my mom’s funeral, one of her closest cousins (also a woman) wanted to get up and say a few words about what my mother meant to her.  While they were polite (in the typical Anglo-Protestant fashion of gentle condemnation), the preacher and church officials were quite uneasy at this suggestion.  The indignation! 

You’d have thought Beelzebub was about to rise screaming through the church floor the instant cousin Barbara opened her mouth at the podium.  And that she did.  Get up and speak, I mean.  I applauded her bold move, for bucking convention and telling the church of EFF off in a subtle way.  Sorry, Preach, nothing trumps a grieving family member’s intent to say a final farewell to a beloved relative.  My grandmother offered an apology to the preacher after the service, which I admired her for (for keeping the peace) whilst simultaneously rolling my eyes (and seething with anger).  That really was the final nail in the coffin for organized relgion to me. 

While I respect everyone’s right to hold belief in some sort of religous context – and understand the inclination, mind you – I see religion as a whole as something of a poison, that oppresses people in the name of eternal liberation, and man’s struggle to make sense of the inconceivable.

This is why I am not a militant non-believer, and why I (if I’m pressed to do so) would call myself an Agnostic-Atheist.  In short, I don’t believe in the existence of a Supreme Being (certainly not the type force-fed us by the world’s major religions), I have no first-hand proof either way – and neither do you.  That said, I believe in the “divine” nature, if you will, of the natural universe and it’s many wonders.  I believe in the shared spiritual connection between humans.  I believe in the mystery that is ‘love.’  I believe in compassion, understanding, the seemingly supernatural, transformative power of art, music, and knowledge. 

I believe there may well be something beyond the veil – indeed, I hope after I expire here, my next journey will be a wonderous cosmic voyage beyond anything my human brain could conceptualize! – but there’s simply no way I could know that.  All I can do is try to live a principled, compassionate, thoughtful life with some meaning that adds to the greater value of my species.  Beyond that, everything else is but grasping for light in a dark world.

When the Scheiße Hits the Fan, You’ll Want to Be Wearing Your Raincoat

 

I haven’t had the willpower to blog much in the past couple of months…there has been so much going on – and I don’t use that term generically, at all – I couldn’t even begin to relay it all to you here. 

So maybe I will, in some retrospective blogging.  For now, I’ll just jump to the present.  I’m having an extremely difficult time concentrating on anything today. 

April was a very difficult month for me.  May was much better.  June seems to be a relative mixture.  It started out okay, but the past several days have been a little trying.  Not sure how to put it in a “pretty” perspective, so I’ll just blurt it out (in keeping with the ‘present tense’ theme) – I have some mental health issues that are beginning to become a very visceral part of my life, and I’m at the point where I need to do something about them.  Well, something more than what I’ve attempted thus far. 

One of my “issues” (I dislike that catch-all terminology, but don’t have anything better this morning) is that I seem unable to complete things (like blogging) for more than a short burst of time (see my January – March postings in this blog’s lifecycle), without going on to another project.  I seem unable to reconcile all the parts of myself, as just one example, to only one all-encompassing blog.  I have a multitude of blogs “registered” on WordPress, although it’s only this one I’m really using.  Well, that’s not true.  I have another blog geared only toward my mental health journey, also on WP, but registered under its own credentials (as opposed to ‘undeniablymaybe’).  I don’t think I’ll disclose that url just yet…

That’s part of the problem.  I don’t know if I’ll keep this blog, that one, or abandon it all (yet again, as so many times in the past).  I even started a tentative new one yesterday (not on WP) – my word, this is getting out of hand. 

*sigh*

For years, my friends have poked fun at me for my supposed inability to keep the same phone number, email address, etc. for more than a few months’ time.  (I’ve had my current cell number for over a year, I think – victory! ha)  What they never understood (mostly because I never acknowledged it, let alone shared it with anyone) was that it was something beyond my scope of control.  Some sort of compulsion, I guess…with each new chapter of my life, or each new (rapidly shifting) change of course for my lifepath or grandiose new idea (!), I apparently have a deep need to encapsulate that with some sort of cyber-branding.  A snazzy new email address to match the “new” me!  Perhaps a new blog to show everyone “what it’s all about!”  A new number – well, that was usually me just changing carriers, either because my bill got out of hand and I had little other option, or because I hastily changed to a) get a coveted phone, b) “start fresh” with a new provider, or c) some twisted mix of all of the above. 

*sigh, redux*

This is but scratching the proverbial surface, dear reader(s).  Perhaps more will come… shall I stay here and press on? 

Just to give you perspective about the wild instability of a) my mind, and thus b) my life, here’s a fancy-schmancy little rundown of the general Awesome!™ ideas I’ve had in say, the past two weeks:

  • Move back to Oklahoma
  • Move back to my hometown or another small town in Oklahoma, specifically
  • Move to New Mexico
  • Legally change my name to something “Native American” (actually, I wasn’t being too stupid about this, I was at least going to use some Choctaw names/words – my natural family has Choctaw roots in there somewhere)
  • Legally change my name to something else not Native-inspired
  • To start smoking again or to not start smoking again (don’t really want to, but been craving the act of smoking lately, probably as some anxiety-release)
  • Deciding to live in a total state of positivity at all times (actually worked for a blissful week)
  • Deciding I no longer want to use curse/swear words (still a noble idea I may indeed work on, although yesterday on the drive home from work I had some weird compulsive urge to repeatedly say/shout things like “F*#kers! F*#k! Motherf*#ker!” – that was a new one)
  • Move to the desert or somewhere really remote and live in a yurt or something similar (I think a lot about moving, but this is nothing new.  I’ve literally spent the bulk of a day’s minutes consumed with these thoughts, to the point of total exhaustion.) 

I guess that’s the gist of it.  By the way, when I say “ideas I’ve had” I don’t mean just passing nonsense whilst staring out the classroom window type of daydreaming, I mean putting some actual energy and hours into the consideration and planning it would take to actually go through with these things.  Is that enough to possibly illustrate the fabulous complexity of my life?  “LOL”  I’m not trying to play the world’s smallest violin here, I promise.  I guess I just needed to get that out, and although it makes me a teensy bit squeamish to do it here (as some people who know me IRL read this), whatever.  I’m tired of living behind the stigma people put on mental health issues.  Mind you, I’m not going to broadcast them via a flashy slogan’d tee-shirt or anything, but it is what it is.  Like my penchant for chocolate and foreign films, it’s simply another part of what makes me…’me.’ 

That said, it’s also really fucking intrusive to my life.  (Whoops!  $1 in the swear jar!  Hmmm…no, I don’t have the money for that, nevermind…)  Basically, I stopped blogging a couple of months ago when I pretty much had an intense meltdown, or what I like to call a little “psychotic break.”  Some people around me may not have noticed much, for example at work – but that’s probably because I did my absolute darndest to avoid being around anyone for more than oh, 5 minutes at a stretch. 

Blah…so there you have it.  More Than You Ever Wanted To Know!™  Brought to you by undeniablymaybe.  Suh-weet.  Actually, maybe not, since you read this blog.  You must be idling away the hours minutes seconds of your day here for something.

Shall I go on?

Incidentally, this is probably always good advice to heed. Just sayin'...

Help Japan

In case you somehow haven’t yet heard, a devastating 8.9/9.0 magnitude earthquake hit the Pacific Ocean near Northeastern Japan at around 2:46pm on March 11 (JST) causing damage with blackouts, fire and tsunami.  The death toll may stand at more than 10,000.

In the days since the quake, Japan has reeled from fires at a nuclear power plant, only adding to the chaos and confusion.  There are various ways you can help, and no way is too small.  For starters, if you have a blog or Facebook page, why not spread the word about ways others can help?

You can text REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10 to the Red Cross.  It simply gets added to your phone bill. 

Alternately, you can text JAPAN to 50555 to donate $10 to GlobalGiving

Yahoo! News – Japan earthquake and tsunami – how to help

Google Japan Crisis Response page

List of secular charities helping the Japan relief effort

So, I Finally Said My Piece…

So today I sent my birth mother a long email, basically spilling my guts at how I feel about our situation. 

Backstory, since you’re probably a bit surprised at the above statement…

I was adopted at birth by my parents who raised me.  It was a private adoption – no agencies were involved.  My mother was young and single and unable to provide me the type of life she wanted me to have.  I found out I was adopted at a very early age, after this stupid little girl at school told me.  I didn’t know what she meant, but it sounded bad, the way she said it.  I went home and asked my parents, and they confirmed.  I am so glad I didn’t grow up with it being a secret.  I can’t imagine how people take that, when they find out as adults they were adopted.  Anyway, at 18 I started asking questions, saying I wanted to find her.  It was remarkably easy.  She still kept in touch somewhat with a good friend of my adoptive mother’s.  A phone call, literally, was all it took.  We spoke over the phone.  My mind reeled.  It was surreal.  A while later, she was back in Oklahoma (she had long since moved across country), and we met.  That same day I met my newborn half-brother, 18 years my junior.  We’ve met a couple other times in the 14 years since.  She used to send me poems (I get my writing talent from her) and letters, and gifts.  She still sends thoughtful gifts at holidays or birthdays, but the relationship has been somewhat tentative all these years, much to my chagrin. 

After my parents that raised me died when I was in my early and then mid-twenties, I began to focus more on needing to develop a connection with my blood relatives.  I reached out to her at one point, even mentioning that I was toying with the idea of moving to a city near the town she lived in, just to be close enough to have a shot at developing the meaningful relationship that had been denied us all our lives, but with enough distance to not be, you know, right next door or anything.  I think it’s about 20 miles away.  Close enough to see each other, but far enough to be busy working and such all week.  That sort of thing.  I don’t know why or how, but the relationship I naturally assumed would develop…never has. 

Her letters have always been filled with shades of regret, and longing for us to “one day be together…as a family,” and yet, she always says she feels too shy to call me, and that “someday” my brother will know who I am (though she thinks he’s figuring it out in little bits, by himself), etc. 

Today I sent her an email from work, on a whim.  It started out innocently enough…a “how’s everything” sort of short email.  Several long paragraphs later, I pretty much laid my case for exactly how I felt about the seemingly growing distance between us, and asked a few questions that I feel entitled to know (any major illnesses that run in the family, my father’s name, etc.)  The father’s name part is another blog post altogether, I’m sure. 

I wasn’t mean, but hope nothing sounded harsh or angry.  I will admit, however, that I was writing from a place of emotion and frustration.  It has boggled my mind for 14 years.  It’s not been the “adoptee-meets-birth mother-everyone-rejoices” sort of TV special I’d envisioned. 

Anyway, so that’s done.  Um…yeah.  We’ll see what comes of it.  I guess I’m at a place where I’m tired of not saying all those things out of fear.  For too long, I’ve been afraid of being selfish.  I mean, she’s got her own family, and a teenager to raise, her own life and job, etc.  She’s dealing with a health issue with her mother.  So I’ve always been afraid of intruding with my “problems” and needs.  Telling, I suppose. 

But I’m at a place right now where I also realize I need to protect my feelings, and ensure that my needs are being met.  I’m even open to something along the lines of, “I have so much else going on right now, I can’t focus on this until I sort some things out,” or whatever.  Anyway, I could to an exhaustive blog entirely on this topic, I’m sure, so I’ll cut this one off here.  More to come, no doubt…

Mapping America’s Happiness

For the past three years, Gallup has contacted 1,000 randomly-selected men & women per day to ask them questions about their quality of life.  Responses have been converted to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, and mapped.  Below is a map of the 2010 results. 

To view the actual interactive graphic, go here.

Don’t Forget to Dig Your Toes In

Today I was feeling very nostalgic.  Actually, it began last night, as I took Chester out for a walk – he’s my (almost) 2 year old Basset Hound.  I love living in the middle of a big city, but I sometimes miss the countryside.  I grew up there.

Needless to say, in the middle of Dallas, one is not often very inclined to walk barefoot anywhere.  I saw a particularly inviting patch of emerald green grass outside the loft while walking Chester this morning/early afternoon.  I had slipped on some flip flops to quickly take him out.  After examining the spot to ensure it was free of detritus, I slid my foot out and let it make contact with the grass.  I smiled instinctively, and dug my toes in – it was cool, nearly cold, to the touch, and felt wet.  It wasn’t, though, and I was glad of that.

It reminded me of the endless grass growing up, and the way I’d walk barefoot outside as a kid.  Yeah, I was that country, I guess you could say.  I miss it.  It was a nice feeling, so I snapped a pic.  Now I have something to remind of that feeling…

Incidentally, while I am classically Euro-white, and perhaps prone to haunting the house with my whiteness, the hipstamatic effect enhanced it. ;-P