I like the idea of being reborn. I’ve been thinking about it all night in the glow of this scarlet candle, flickering in the midst of the thunderheads and thunder booms outside my window. Since turning “apostate”, I’ve been considering what subjects to write on, and what I have to say – now that I’ve concluded that silence is the only honest way to live out my faith. Of course, I’m writing about it right now, some disciple I am.
A few nights back I went and visited an old familiar estate, an estate I frequented in the hot midwest summers of my youth, accompanied by my old friends. Since returning to the midwest, I’ve had to confront nostalgia and forgotten memories in droves. One morning I woke to the realization that my youth has long since passed me by, prematurely by most standards. The last good thing about my lost youth is getting married off this week. It’s probably defeatist, but I think this week may be the last time I see her in this life. Color me a pessimist. I intend to see her off well. If it is a farewell, I finally have the chance to make a good one.
I was chatting with an old friend about my morbid assumptions, and he took it upon himself to offer me a bit of insight. He’s observed that I rarely spend time with my friends, particularly my newly acquainted friends. I flake and I disappear. I drink and I write. Hiding is what he calls it. Some days the stray hopes pop up, I do my best to smother them before they ignite beyond my control. It’s my dreams that get me in so much trouble with disappointment. I’ve never been able to contain the damn things, dripping and piling up in my brain. Lately I’ve attempted to honor reality, and what exists. It seems to help with the dreams. When I stopped expecting people to help me put my head back together, I stopped with socializing altogether. I’m lonely, but not any more than I have been at any other point in my life. Well, save for the golden days.
I’m doing my best to begin socializing once more, visiting friends, and performing readings in the next few weeks. Portland really took it out of me. You can only hide and walk on eggshells for so long before you start to go mad. Fortunately, I’m free from all that and back to being myself. It’s nice, I can socialize with drinkers and smokers and cursers, without feeling guilty. I like that. They are my people.
I imagine that it’s a fairly normal stage in life: coming to grips with oneself. Who are we? What is our responsibility? Which cultures one true God is the one true God? Do all the freethinkers end up spent gladiators, falling and dying, young and confused? Do we get to a point where we stop seeing the present and future, only living in the past? Are we a lost cause? Are the majority, the billions and billions who believe wrong ideas, fucked from the start? Does escaping this inevitable despair mean wrapping up the world in black and white theological views with forced faith and insincere belief?
A few years back I was attempting to sleep in a wigwam, just inside the border, near Ciudad Juarez. Looking back I attribute the event to my accidental dehydration (likely from American Honey sans water) and sleep paralysis. I woke up and watched a pair of feet (via my minds eye) approach the front of the tent, heard a voice whisper my name before regaining full consciousness. I should have remembered the two hundred milliliters of bourbon that I’d consumed earlier from my plastic hospital cup, sending me into my sweat fueled delusion and paralysis. Regardless, I was certain that I’d finally begun to experience the great unknown that I’d been searching for at the start of my reckless wandering. I was certain that Jesus was after me. These days I don’t think of myself so highly, but back then I was certain that I had some mysterious purpose on this anthill down here. You can imagine my dismay when my studies of neuroscience led me to sleep paralysis. Each symptom mirrored my own. I remember thinking that I was just like every other creature on this dying rock. It was a humbling experience. It was a defeat.
I still desire to feel whole again. Now I spend all my time in my head bouncing from memory to memory, searching for meaning and goodness. It’s hard to be honest with myself about the memories that leave the biggest marks. I’ve concluded that most of them only had meaning to me. I’m not convinced that this revelation detracts from their worth. Sadly, I’m not convinced that my spirit sings loud and clear anymore. It strikes me that it might be more merciful to believe the untruths in my head. But on I go!
My Christian friends are bothered by my apostasy. (and my drinking and cursing) I don’t fault them for it, nevertheless, I can’t help but see them as I see myself looking back, a baby boy, safely entombed in my belief. My closest friends have always been skeptics, atheists, confused drunks. They always cheered me on in my searching, grinning, and phoning to check on my wellbeing. Some of them are dead now.
I miss them.
I hope I see them again.
For now I’ll live like they do. I’ll clutch my loved ones closely. I’ll hold onto my memories, and search for more promising leads. I’ll ignore the theologians and evangelists, crack jokes about pizza and beer. I’ll gaze at the picture I keep close to me and think about death. I’ll read some words I wrote to curious folks, and I’ll silently beg them to make me less lonely.