It’s been awhile since I’ve looked in the mirror with the naivety of youth.
Shuffling off my shell. Survivor of a synthetic suicide.The emotions flood back like an avalanche of intrigue. My entire soul is on pins and needles as a limb wakes after falling asleep for what seems like decades. Vulnerable and sympathetic. Every movement stings in the most beautiful way. My eyes. I’m blinded by the possibilities that lay ahead. Barely breathing. I stand on the shore of tenacity as I look down into the acrid water of the life that nearly claimed me.
My mind, candy-coated in wonder. Visceral and vicious, I choke on a pill that I couldn’t fathom to swallow years before. As the pill works its way through my body, I feel a calculated corruption taking hold. At first it terrifies me. As I let my soul drift into the inky darkness, I am covered with a warm blanket of reassurance. Looking at this world with smoke colored glasses I come to a realization. This is who I am.
It’s been awhile since I’ve looked in the mirror with this level of certainty.
Save a handful of occasions, I haven’t been in a church for nearly 14 years.
I posted something about finding a tie to wear to church on Facebook today. A few eyebrows raised. Let me explain why:
For more than a decade I have “not believed in God” or that’s what people have chosen to believe about me anyway. The truth is, I’ve believed in God nearly my whole life. There was, indeed a period where I wanted to set out on my own path and find a faith that worked for me. I practiced Wicca for a bit. I even looked into a few Eastern religions. They all ended up linking back to the same principles as my Southern Baptist upbringing. I am not saying that all religions are the same. What I am saying is that, by and large, they have a lot of similarities in the core message. That got me thinking. What if someone had strong beliefs in his heart but varied the words used to describe them. How would people perceive that person?
I began doing just that. My faith hadn’t changed but the vocabulary I used to describe it had. I started using terms like “the Force” or “the Teacher” in place of the traditional God. In reality, they were the same thing, it was all about what I called Him. Things changed. People started treating me differently.
To some, I was clearly and Atheist. To others a Warlock (Stop calling a male Wiccan a Warlock, they don’t like it). Sure, I put up with a lot of BS and I, admittedly, brought it upon myself. But I learned something very valuable: what you claim to believe defines who people think you are. I also learned that, in my experience, you were either right or wrong based on whether you subscribe to the same dogma as the particular person you are speaking with. I disagree.
The concept of right or wrong simply based on the school of faith you belong to seemed arbitrary. Seriously, not everyone can be right. Or can they? This point was illustrated perfectly by my amazing girlfriend who is a devout Catholic. During dinner one night we were discussing religion and I asked her “as a Catholic Christian, what makes you certain that everyone else is incorrect about their version of God?” Here’s what she said:
“Look at that box of salt over there. I see it from a different angle than you do. We are both looking at the same thing. We both know it’s real but from where you and I are sitting neither of us can see every side of it at one time.”
*I’m paraphrasing based on memory but I think that’s the gist.
Best. Answer. Ever.
I was looking for a debate. I was expecting the same canned answer I’d gotten every time I’d asked a question like that. This answer was so unflawed, so succinct and intelligent that I had nothing more to say than “that was the best answer I’ve ever heard.”
I knew she was right. While we don’t agree on every aspect of religion she has the same perspective on other religions as I do.
So, yeah, I’m going to church with her tonight. And I’ll do it again and again. I am proud to.
My eyes are burning. My head is pounding and I’m a little shaky. I like it.
Sometimes things happen and you simply have no logical explanation. Even for a guy like me, who thinks he has a handle on what’s logical, can’t figure it out. There is no amount of science that is going to have the answers.
Love. Sometimes it comes on like a gentle breeze. Smelling the sweet perfume as flower petals dance in the wind. Sometimes it hits you like a city bus. It destroys everything that you thought you knew and you never saw it coming.
One day you’re just a guy, checking email, feeding the cat, recording a podcast. The next thing you know you’re having breakfast with a friend that you’ve known for, we’ll say, a year and a half and it’s so incredible that it could potentially change your life if you let it. The food is pretty good too.
I let it happen.
I was so hypnotized that I let my guard down. All the negative experiences of past relationships (most of them) that had jaded me, fortified my insecurities and left me broken were all washed away. I was baptised in enchantment and my sins were rinsed clean. Or at least taken into an alley and beaten.
The ones who would tell me to take it slow, play it cool, had obviously never experienced the same emotions I have. They speak about falling in love as if there is some sort of fairy tale. They tell you that it’s never “happily ever after”. Maybe they’re right. Maybe they are wiser than my heart will allow. But maybe, just maybe, they see the sparkle in my eyes and hear the joy in my voice when I say her name. Maybe they are jealous.
I guess I said all of that to say this: if you know someone who is head over heels, don’t tell him he’s just infatuated or that it’s just a crush. Maybe this is how his ever after begins.
Last night we recorded our culinary podcast Right ‘n the Mouth. Our good friend Henry dropped by so we decided to do an impromptu episode of our old show Broken. The three of us haven’t had mics in our faces at the same time in over two years. Check it out.
WARNING – IF YOU’VE NEVER LISTENED TO BROKEN YOU SHOULD KNOW THAT IT IS A COMPLETELY UNFILTERED PODCAST ABOUT ALL SORTS OF THINGS. YOU’VE BEEN WARNED.
What makes us drawn to the dark side? Besides the awesome Force choking. No, seriously.
What makes certain people attracted to the darker side of things in life? Myself included, there are certainly people who prefer night over day. Michael Myers over Care Bears. Dark chocolate over milk. Well, maybe that isn’t the best example. I want to be clear though, by “dark” I do not mean wrong or bad or evil.
If light is good then how can I say dark isn’t bad? Then again, who says light is always good?
Here’s my take on it: everything in life is made up many shades of gray. No, not those Shades of Grey. Life is a spectrum of grayscale values. Some darker, maybe more emotional and certainly more macabre most of the time while some are lighter, happier if you will. But everything has the ability to encompass both sides of the spectrum at some point. Sure a kitten is adorable and furry and tiny but he will also scratch the Hell out of you and keep you awake at night (you don’t know dark until you’ve seen me with no sleep).
My point is, good and evil are arbitrary definitions and they don’t apply to real life. Now that we have that cleared up…
What is it about The Dark Side that is so attractive to some of us? I’ve been living on the darker spectrum of life for as long as I remember. I listen to heavy metal, a good percentage of my wardrobe is darker colors (it’s slimming) and I have a fascination with other aspects that some might consider to be toward the darker side of the gray-rainbow. What makes me like scary movies? Am I genetically predisposed to listening to Slipknot?
Historically, cultures have embraced the duality of life. Honoring, both, the light and dark aspects of their culture. It is a relatively modern way of thinking that you are either good or bad. Not both. A man has the ability to save lives but at the same time he can just as easily destroy them. Of course laws, religion and an instinctual moral code generally prevent this but it doesn’t change the fact that he is both capable of great, honorable things as well as the darkest, devastating actions as a creature and every shade of gray in between. While everyone is capable of both polarities, I don’t believe anyone is truly light or dark. Most of us live somewhere in between.
Upbringing? Media? Mental illness? Is it society that pushes some of us toward embracing the dark? I don’t think so. Sure, some people bend to pressures of society but I can’t see that being the cause as a rule. It’s something inside us. Something primal, visceral. It’s something that pulls us in and comforts us. We find solace in the shadows. Perhaps we are afraid the light might reveal us for who we really are. We all have a little bit of monster in us. I’ve embraced the Hyde in me as long as Jekyll still drives the bus.
What draws you toward one side of the grayscale or the other?
Recently I wrote about some things that have aligned in my life lately that almost force you to believe in some sort of higher calling. It was pretty much an excuse to tell you how awesome my life has been lately wrapped around a feel-good nougat center.
That was all about event(s) leading up to the present. I have a few projects on the fire for the near future that I’d like to share with you and, even, get your opinion on perhaps.
Miracle Miles 5K
About a month ago, I was challenged to complete my first 5K race in Orlando on September 21 of this year. For those of you who are counting, and I know at least one of you is, that is in roughly a month and a half from today. I have been losing weight. I’ve been doing pretty well, really, but running just isn’t my thing. I’ve been hitting free-weights and walking from time to time but mainly focusing on losing as much excess bodyweight as I can. In a controlled, healthy way of course. I probably should be nervous, especially with the possibility that I may have asthma now, but I’m really not. Maybe I’m just crazy but, while I know I won’t run it entirely, completing 3.1 miles isn’t all that daunting. I got this – also, if I beat Carmen’s time she eats a tomato. She REALLY doesn’t want to eat a tomato.
About a year and a half ago I started working on a project that I’ve called ArronTV. Basically ATV is my version of a video blog/podcast. I’ll talk about things from health and food to Star Wars to the people that irk me. Basically whatever I want and think that someone might find either informational or entertaining. Infotainment. The pilot can be found here from April 2012. The show will be getting a major overhaul and I will be taking viewer questions and possibly even recording live from time to time. Why would I do this? Well, it turns out I like talking, sharing information and I’ve been told that I have a sexy voice.
Health, Happiness & Badassery
Yeah, I’m writing a book. It’s on my bucket list and I figure, why not now? I started the idea for the book last year but haven’t been able to do much with it until recently. It is a user manual and bio of how I went from near death to self-proclaimed Ninja-vampire-rockstar-superhero by finding out what matters most in life. I have the introduction preview available as a PDF just to see if there is any interest in it. I’m writing it for me but it would be nice to have some fans.
Alchemy Graphic Design
Some of you know that I have a background in design and right next to my family, my girl and bacon, I keep it close to my heart. I’ve had my own graphic design business for a while but I’ve never given it the attention that it deserves. Alchemy is still a fledgling but I see it growing up to be a respectable design studio in the area. I specialize in logos/branding in addition to the standard print design fare such as business cards, brochures, flyers and, essentially, anything. If I can’t do it I will find someone who can for you. I’ll also be offering small business web design packages. If you wouldn’t mind too much, head over and LIKE the Alchemy Graphic Design Facebook page for me. Thanks!
I think that covers it. If you have any input on any of these or just want to know a bit more about them let me know!
It’s been a while since we’ve had time together here. A lot of things have changed in my life and I’d say that I’m not only happier but I’m better for them. I suppose in order to find the catalyst of some of the most recent changes, I’ll go back to March of 2012. That was when I met someone who would unknowingly lead me to door that would make me happier than I thought I would ever be allowed. This isn’t about her though. This is about what I learned.
I don’t talk about my beliefs often online and only seldom with my closest friends and family whom I trust considerably. In the not-too-distant past, something has happened. I’ve learned some things about myself in which I may have not without a very specific series of events. I’m not sure how much detail I want to get into here. I’ll do what I do best – wing it and see what happens
I’ve not always believed in the concept of destiny at face value. On the surface, and maybe I’m wrong, it seems to be a concept that we are on a linear course through life and have no real input on where we end up. Well, I’m not willing to believe that. As I may have mentioned, I believe in choice. I believe that we do not have one set path ahead of us but that we have many paths with many variables affecting the next step. I suppose you could call this a non-linear fate if you chose.
Back to what I’ve learned. Some time in May of this year a decision was presented to be. One of 2 doors that would affect the next. I could either stay complacent in my menial, low-paying, somewhat-miserable life or I could take a very daunting step toward changing it. I had chosen wisely.
On an alternate path, my relationship had run it’s course. It started much earlier than May, let’s say November, let’s say November 20, 2012. I won’t go farther on that. The relationship was done. I was hurt but only at first. When I clued in my friends and family I got a lot of “I’m sorry” and “Sometimes it isn’t meant to be.” – they were right. It’s never meant to be. Until it is.
This change coincided with others. Perhaps it was my destiny. Nearly in perfect sync with my relationship officially dissolving, I was offered a job that I, both, love and really needed financially. I also learned some things about my personality that I’d buried so deep I didn’t realize they existed. I’m a happy man. Of course, I also live in the real world and understand that things can and often do change. Not always for the positive. But, as I’ve said, everything that happens to us in life is an chance to learn. Learn from it and apply it.
I’m writing this from the living room of the most amazing woman I’ve ever had the fortune of meeting. She has shown me doors that I will be eternally grateful for. But this isn’t about her. It’s about what I’ve learned.
Maybe there is something to this destiny business after all. I like to have the answers but sometimes I just don’t. What has happened in my life as of recent cannot be easily explained with logic. You could say, perhaps, Karma is at work. Possibly, I’ve just earned enough ethereal currency to cash in on happiness. Maybe it’s just luck (hint: it’s not). Who knows, maybe it is fate or destiny, perhaps with a little bit of magic stirred in. Then again, maybe it’s something else entirely. It’s not my job to question why. Just enjoy every minute as it could, most unfortunately, shift like a summer wind.
Grown for a parasitic existence and baptised in Technicolor. You were not welcomed or wanted in this lackluster engagement of complacency.
You simply exist.
You are thrust into the little black book of the machine to be ruined like a prom dress. There will be no mercy for the whistleblowers.
They don’t exist.
Not for long.
The blasphemy of your mind is a constant betrayal to the oiled monster that monitors your dreams. Irony. You are slave to your thoughts yet aren’t permitted to think.
No thought exists.
Hold dear the magic withheld as you shuffle in line to receive the communion wafer of a fallen system. Numbered and ordered, praying for escape. It is up to you this time.
Trace the fading glimmer as seconds become eons quickly when you are lost in the forest of your subconsious. Within the eyes of a child will you find your way.
I press on.
Walking the shards of shattered dreams long passed. each sliver grazes my skin, reminding me of a life unrequited. In agony I press on, ever seeking the one to reassure me that everything will be alright.
Seeking refuge from the maelstrom subconscious, the mangled heaps of those before me come to focus. The smell of ny failure, the taste of regret infiltrate my senses. At once I collapse.
Still I must press on. The air burns my throat with each labored gasp. My vision poisoned by the sun. The mirage of success just in reach, I falter over my own defeat.
My eyes clear, the clouds part. Then breath is stolen from as the blow of reality rapes me of my dream. Once again I find myself exactly where I began.
Still, I press on.
As a writing prompt, I was given this link.
And then I bit him.
If you asked me now, I couldn’t tell you why. Why would I bite my best friend? The days that passed he began to… change. He became increasingly aggressive. A few days after I bit him he attacked a dog on the street. I tried to stop him but it was as if he was possessed by something. Something primal. I wanted to run as he began eating the animal but I couldn’t make my feet move. As I watched him devour this stray dog I felt a hunger like I’d not felt in my life. Still, I managed to run. Several days later he spiked a wicked fever and became more aggressive. He died yesterday. I killed him. He tried to attack me as if I was the same stray dog from weeks ago. It wasn’t intentional but I’m glad he’s gone. I saw people walking around today. A lot of people. I haven’t seen people in some time but they were different. They had the same look as he did. A look in their eyes like caged animals who had been beaten and abused now free to seek revenge on any around them. I will have to deal with them soon. They seem to be interested in finding a way in here. It’s going to be a long night.