Diversions

Ooo, shiny!

We live in an insatiablely intolerable world at times. Life is a messy, dirty, steaming pile of excrement some days. There is no escaping the to-do lists and the schedules and the ever growing piles of bills. It almost makes me jealous of the people of old who lived short miserable lives. At least they were short…

I’ve never been able to drown out my worries with diversions. I hear of people escaping their troubles and woes with movies, music, video games, or even alcohol. Perhaps I’m just not a focused enough person to forget my cares and immerse myself in numbness or fantasy? I can only be so distracted before my mind wanders back to the struggle of the day.

Painting, writing, playing Pokémon GO with my kids and wife. I enjoy these. But none provide any forgetfulness. Stress is always right there making it hard to find forgiveness for not accomplishing everything on that to-do list. “Why are you taking a break when you should be doing this?!”

Will it ever change? Maybe. Maybe one day my cares will be few enough to drown out with frivolity, at least for fleeting moments. Until then I’ll just continue distracting myself half-heartedly.

This Is The End

This is the end.

The end of what?

Not the end of me, nor of this blog. You can’t get rid of me that easily.

No, this is the end of the summer. And the end of a long, hot, dark season of my life.

I had high hopes for this summer. But they were dashed by some not-so-fortunate circumstances. I had plans. But none of them happened.

I learned a lot though: Regret is a terrible response to disappointment. God always provides, though not always how we want or with what we want. Anxiety is physically draining, but you don’t have to let your mind get caught up in what your body’s doing.

We’ve had a rocky couple of months, almost a year’s worth. We almost lost our house. We thought we would. We had our water cut off once (though that was just missing the payment because we were distracted by other bills, we actually had the money) and almost lost it one more time. We spent a week internet-less, much to the kid’s chagrin. We had to reinstate our car insurance twice because it was canceled. We got phone calls threatening to re-possess our trailer (good luck with that). Food got short once or twice. Cars broke down. Jobs were had, jobs were postponed. Church got over-crowded and we had to find a new one (still figuring that one out). The house is in disarray. Projects have been put on hold.

I spent my summer mowing lawns, weeding gardens, and moving boxes and furniture. And a load of driving here there and everywhere.

But now we have two stable jobs. The bills are getting caught up. Routine has come back.

And looking at that list I can’t help but feel it’s all first world problems.

But problems nonetheless. Especially for an anxious brain like mine.

It’s the end, and I couldn’t be more glad.

I Don’t Care

Every time it seems to get better, it just gets worse again. Every time I think I am going to have a break from all the awful, something else comes along. And I’m broken. Broke and broken. And alone. So utterly alone.

I am human and flawed. I’m negative. I see nothing good. While I believe there is good, it is apparent to me that it is not for me. Good things aren’t for me to enjoy. I haven’t failed. I haven’t lost my privilege to good. It’s not like that. It’s just that good things seem to stay away more than the bad.

Maybe there is good. Maybe. I have blessings, sure. But every blessing seems to come with a drawback. Every choice good, bad, and neutral has negative consequences to some extent. There are no purely “good” things in my life.

Is that normal?

I know I have friends. I know intellectually that there are people out there who do have some care about me. Maybe even some concern about my soul. But where are they?

“You gotta be a friend to have a friend.” OK. But when I’m drowning in shame and anxiety and self-loathing who really wants me to be their friend? No one wants an anchor. No one wants someone who takes more than they could ever give in return.

Because I don’t have anything to give in return right now. I’m burned out. I lost my ability to empathize. You might talk but I might not listen. When I do I’ll turn every statement negative. Even the positive statements I will twist. I suck the life out of joy. I can’t give you anything. Not that you would ever ask.

I do care. I care a lot. There wouldn’t be a boiling rage or a twisting knot in my gut if I didn’t care. I wouldn’t want everything to be fixed to desperately if I didn’t care.

As I said the other day, to all six of you who read it, I don’t really want to die. Despite what the voice whispering in my darkest thoughts keeps telling me. There are too many good things to enjoy in this life.

I just want to be able to enjoy them for a change. Is that too much to ask?

I have to write. I have to get this out. If nothing more than to untangle the web of lies that seems to have ensnared me of late. I have never been so overwhelmed and lost in my life.

But that is hyperbole. It can’t be that bad, can it? Other people have it worse. Other people are dying. Other people are enslaved and abused. Other people have way bigger problems than I ever have. I’m just a whiny loser who can’t keep his head on straight. Everything bad in my life either isn’t truly bad or if it is bad it’s deserved.

It is totally hyperbole. Right?

Why do I crumble so quickly? Or have I crumbled that quickly? When did all of this begin? Has it been a year? More? A week? A month? How much time elapsed vs how much time did my brain tell me had passed? Truly life isn’t that bad. And if it is, it can’t have been for that long. Right?

I honestly don’t know. Maybe I have been strong but I just didn’t see it. Maybe I have been good. Maybe I’m better than my lying mind will let me believe. Or maybe I am much much worse

I care. I do.

Dailyish Thoughts #104

Literally nothing to do with this post. But look at that snail go!

My youngest just turned five, my eldest is about to turn thirteen. And I am just getting older by the minute. People don’t give kids enough credit. Those minds are quick, clever, and always absorbing. It is a joy to watch these wonderful people grow up. I would be lying if I said I didn’t take at least a little bit of pride in them. But really, what have I contributed much more than a few genes (and all the good genes are from their mother)? They are wonders on their own.

Why do I suddenly have a flashback to some horrible Chinese food we had in Arkansas? Does anyone else ever pull up random memories completely without context? That place was awful, and I’m easy to please, so that’s saying something.

We are talking about completely rearranging the house again. Rooms will be repurposed, furniture rearranged, and multitudes of items “rehomed” in the trash or shelves at Goodwill. This should be interesting…

Dailyish Thoughts #103

Not by me…

It’s been a month. It’s been a couple of months. So much for sticking to the plan. Life is one smack down after another. Every tunnel has a light at the end, only to find yourself back in the tunnel, not sure if you left it to begin with. Then you realize the light has never been at the end, the whole of life is a tunnel, with flashes of light coming from time to time, a blur in an otherwise dark landscape. We don’t see the light at the end. We have faith that it is there, but we don’t see it. If it comes, it comes quick, before we know it. For most though, it will be be the sudden end of any light that will catch their attention. Darkness will be forever.

Yeah, it is cryptic. I’m tired. I’m beat up. I’m anxious. I’m lost. I’m still headed into the future. I am wandering, but with a vector more or less tuned toward Heaven. I fall. I get up. I fall. I get up.

I drag along a family. I don’t have time for friends. Or they don’t have time for me. I’ll never know which, honestly. I drag a family. I steer the ship. Or so I imagine. The till isn’t broken, but it is frequently ineffective. The oars have been burned. Or stowed. I know not which.

God always provides. Maybe not what we think we need, or in the way we think we need it. But He always does. For some of us, it’s in a way that forces us to recognize “He IS God, we are NOT.” We never steer the ship. We never had oars. We just ride, watching for the little flashes of light in an otherwise dark and ugly cavern.

Protected the whole time by His goodness.

Trust. Humility. Noise. Tired. Work. Labor. Money. Faith. Friends. Why. How. Confess. Rinse. Repeat. My body is sore and my heart is tired. My mind is a web and my thoughts are impasto. But I do plan on getting through this. I don’t give up.

There is far too much of this tunnel yet to be explored. Too many flashes to bask in. Too many good things to taste, see, and feel in the midst of the darkness. Too much joie de vivre to be had.

Why give up now?

Writer’s Block

I say I have writer’s block, but really I just have too many ideas. Too many thoughts floating around, bouncing off the walls of my skull. Too many short thoughts without context or the rest of the thoughts to turn them into something good.

The sexual habits of married Christians. Christians and mental illness. Working for Task Rabbit. Being poor. Depression and anxiety and all the troubled thoughts. Several bands local and not. How I want to make art but my life is too messy to do much of anything right now. My back pain. Aging. My many desires that will never come true. My messy house. My tendency to be an escapist. The idiocy of raising the minimum wage.

Pinballs in my head. Any number of topics to be explored. But I am overwhelmed. I am too busy with trying to stay afloat in so many ways to begin digging too deep into anything.

My life revolves around trying to make money to pay the bills. Free time is unfortunately limited but all too abundant. I need more work, even if more work means less time for life. Life is work and work is life at this point.

Praying that it all settles. But who really knows? This could be my life for awhile. I hope not, but at least it’s interesting, right? Maybe when it settles I’ll have some tales to tell.

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The Subtlety of Opinion Making

I can’t tell you how many faults I have, it could be many, it could be few. But I can tell you that wanting to be accepted by everyone is one of them.

I care too much what people think. I let them get in my head and tell me what to feel, what to think, what to do. I let them convince me what I should do and what’s wrong with what I do do.

I let it bother me when when they tell me I’m an exception. Not in so many words of course, they just state what they believe “average” people feel about a subject. If I don’t fit that “average” there must be something wrong with me, right?

I can’t stand to be wrong, which is a double edged sword. On one hand I’ll debate people until I am blue in the face when I think I am right. On the other I’ll fear and worry that maybe everyone else is right, which is crippling when you just want to be accepted. If I am wrong, what is right? Why can’t I seem to get it?

We are hit with a fire hose of data every moment of every day. We see more images and read more words in a day than most people in history saw in a year or in some cases a lifetime. Many people of the past never strayed much further than a small radius from their place of birth. Opinion forming was a simple process of observation. What do my parents think? What do my neighbors think? What does this book say?

Now I get to read the opinions of thousands daily. I get every point and counter point. I get bombarded with the proper use of logic and the most illogical thoughts, often by the same people and frequently in the same sentence. People get in my head. I am a people pleaser, and if I don’t agree with people I must surely be a disappointment.

No, that would be thinking too highly of myself. I care what people think about me, but that assumes people actually do think about me. People post all the time “I’m stepping away from ______ for a little while” like everyone else actually cares. Just because we get hit with everyone else’s fire hose, and we let that hose of opinion bother us, doesn’t mean anyone else is actually concerned with what we think. Sure, there are “influencers”, people who attract a following and become known for their wisdom and wit. But most of us are not those people.

Most of us are a tiny voice in a monstrous cavern filled with the roar of everyone else’s combined tiny voices.

How many opinions do I have of my own? People have told me how to think and how to feel for so long. I’ve swallowed what they said hook, line, and sinker, even when deep inside of me I didn’t feel right. I’ve become the master of “smile and nod”, suppressing my true opinions to the point of choking my own identity. No one knows the real me, frequently I don’t even know the real me. I don’t even know the me that others know. I am a fake, a fraud, a liar. All because I worry what others would think if they saw the “real” me.

But who’s looking? I hide in shame, behind the fig leaf of a smile and nod, but are people really looking for the real me? Or do they just want to spout their own noise and if I agree I agree, if I don’t, oh well? Is it shame, or is it pride? Wanting to please people is pride. I don’t want to look bad, I don’t want to be the cause of someone else’s discomfort. Everything is truly about me and my own desire for acceptance. It’s not shame, it’s fear. And fearful is not a way to live.

So maybe I will step away from the fire hose. Maybe I will narrow the voices I listen to down to a select group who actually matter. Maybe I will be able to care what others think and feel because I will be able to discern their tiny voices without the din of data from literally everyone in the world. Maybe I will flee from shame and fear and actually express myself for once. That would be a change.

Supporting Murder The Modern Way

I was going to write an impassioned post about my pro-life position. I was going to use reason and logic and philosophy and law and science and ethics to build a case.

But watching my news feed has shown me the futility of this desire. Those on the pro-abortion side aren’t using any of those things listed above to argue their case.

They appeal to nothing more than emotion, ad hominems, unlikely what-if scenarios, and plain old shouting to make their case.

It is truly a matter of throwing pearls before swine with these folks.

I have made my case before. I have been yelled at and called names. I have tried to appeal to reason in this debate, but all to no avail.

So I give up. If you want to murder your kids, have at it. One day maybe the depth of your depravity will strike you and you will repent. Maybe one day you will realize the clouded darkness of your thoughts and will seek out Truth.

Only God knows.

Lies, Pernicious Lies

Lies are ugly. Lies are literally everywhere around and in us. Our own hearts are deceitful. The world feeds us half truths and outright fabrications all day long. It gets so thick that it’s nearly impossible to distinguish falsehoods from reality.

I was saddened to hear about the death of Rachel Held Evans. I disagreed with her on so much, and her style was highly grating to me. But every death is a sad event, and every death should give us pause. I saw people celebrating, calling her a heretic, saying she spread lies and her young death is a judgment of God. Perhaps she did say some false things and promote some outright sinful things, perhaps she wasn’t the most orthodox of Christians, but how many of us are free of lies?

I don’t know the state of her soul. I do know she has now met the God whom she wrestled with for so long in her short time here on Earth. I hope that meeting was a good one. I know her glaring errors, but who would make it to Glory if we had to have perfect doctrine? Who would be saved if we had to know perfectly every jot and tittle of the Scriptures and exactly what each meant?

She led a lot of people astray, and I hope she repented of that before meeting her maker. But she did claim the name of Christ, there is reason to hold out hope for her eternal soul.

There are loads of false Gospels out there, and many false laws as well. The pitfalls of man’s depravity are too numerous to count. But can unorthodoxy on secondary and tertiary matters be elevated to heresy status?

If we believe in Christ crucified, buried, and risen, and the imputation of Christ’s righteousness on the elect then we are not believing a false Gospel.

However, if we add to it extra commands and laws and expectations of perfect sinlessness on the part of the elect, we are believing a false gospel. Modern day Judiazers are everywhere. Christians should be careful to avoid them and avoid becoming them.

I don’t know if I can judge the state of anyone’s soul based purely on how well they hold to certain laws or matters of conscience. I do know that if perfect knowledge and adherence to the Law was the only way to Heaven, I would be damned indeed.

I am grateful for a Savior who is patient and forgiving.

Music and Art Monday, April 29th 2019: Psilocybin Jam

This week I want to introduce you to another local band. But not local to Jacksonville like all the other bands. This band is local to my third home: Cloudcroft, NM.

There is a funny story about how I was introduced to Psilocybin Jam: my wife and I fixed our perpetually broken truck and decided to take it for a test drive into town. While there we figured we may as well soak up some 4g for a bit and parked on Burro Street across from the Western.

I heard a tapping on the window behind my head. I turned and there is this dude with dreads motioning me to roll down the window. I scrambled a bit, but obliged. “Hey, you want to go get a drink at the Western?” We sat a bit confused but responded “Sure” and followed this guy over to the bar.

He introduced himself as “Wild Bill” and then said he had to run home for a bit. We got a beer and waited for his return. It was probably two hours later that he returned, seemingly oblivious to his new friends. We had found other friends to hang out with so it wasn’t a big deal but be got a bit of a chuckle out of it. Eventually we did end up hanging out with him and he told us literal war stories (Bill’s a vet, but you wouldn’t know it looking at him) and invited us back the next week to see his band.

Psilocybin Jam is pretty good live. They are even better on their album. So good, in fact, that some guy at a stop light asked me if I was listening to the Dead. I’d argue that Bill Larrubia’s bass playing is better than anything I have heard from the Dead honestly.

Lest you think all jam bands sound alike let me point you to two songs on the album that particularly stand out. “Nietzsche” blends the sounds of an 80’s metal band with Jim Morrison-esque  vocals from Felix Hernandez and a bass line reminiscent of The Prodigy. Figure that one out… “Bad Connection” sounds like the Doors if Ray Manzarek had never discovered the keyboard. I don’t know who’s on horns but dang.

Apart from those two songs the album sounds like a typical jam band, but with something super special. Bill’s bass playing along with the drums and percussion provided by his wife Heather Miller and drummer Albert Vallejo provide a perfect foundation for the eclectic styles guitar ranging from classical Spanish to Funk to classic rock and metal. There are no boring songs on the entire record.

As of this post, Psilocybin Jam has 4 monthly listeners on Spotify. I bet we can get that number way up there. Go check them out, you’ll thank me.