Ever The Addict – Takes 2 and 3

I like to think I’m not a total cynic, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t prone to viewing the world in such negative terms quite often.  Well, here I am, on two sides of a gap in worldview at once.

See, when I started this post, it was just kind a flood of all these thoughts I’d been having for a while.  Next thing I know, I’m going to a talk from a consecrated woman, and things start to get answered; some of the anger I experienced in the first half of this post, is now lessened, and now I know I’m being heard.  I’ll get to that though.  Just a warning, this’ll be an extra, extra long post in light of the fact that a lot has happened recently to cause this surge.  Plus, she suggested writing about the high and low points of life, so here’s mine.  Maybe I’ll include a TL;DR note.  Maybe.

~1: Storm~

Raw writing has never been my strength.  There’s a certain outpouring of unchecked passion thrust into it that blurs the meaning and detracts from the piece as a whole.  I’ve learned that with papers, I’ve learned that with speeches, I’ve learned that with people.  Or perhaps I haven’t.

You might call me a fool, and you’d be right of course, I never really learn.  I have this… infuriating habit of making resolutions to change things, and then… well, there it goes.  I said as much regarding coffee in the last post, but there’s always a deeper issue.  Perhaps I’m just going with the flow, not quite present.  I think that perhaps I am too stuck in my ways for a number of reasons.  An unfortunate repetition and lack of attentiveness, my environment, and my own mental blocks.

I love writing, watching my thoughts materialize on the page, the feeling of seeing me outside myself.  Perhaps that’s egotistical of me, I’m not sure.  It’s said that when we love others, we’re able to recognize that they are another “me”.  As we desire happiness, peace, safety, and security for ourselves, loving them requires wanting the best for them as well.  Why am I talking about love in a post about being addicted?  They stand opposed.  Love is free where addiction binds.  The latter warps something intrinsic, and makes the visible light fade.

My mind isn’t what it was when I was younger.  I felt like I was sharper then, more quick witted, ready with a punchline, a thought of considerable depth, or a brandished blade, all at the drop of a hat.  My prayer felt more sincere, and the work in my life became more apparent.  Now, that seems to be more concerned with staleness than anything, but I suppose it is an addiction.

I hate feeling, yet I also despise the idea of being apathetic.  I love to experience new things, but I hate the journey.  I am a contradiction in many terms, yet have some high ideals that I am sure.

Who am I?  I am the addict.  “Good men don’t need rules; today is not the day to find out why I have so many.”  Sometimes I wonder whether I truly believe that, but I suppose it makes sense.

Good men don’t need rules per say because they have already internalized them.  The words are as simple affirmations to what they already live.  I don’t live by the rules that free me.  Another form of contradiction, it seems, but then Eagle Eye knowledge jumps to the fore, to aid me in time of struggle.  As the river needs the banks to avoid stagnancy, so rules become the guiding force.  Then as they direct the flow, as they are internalized, true power rises forth, spilling toward their destination, an unstoppable tide.

Have I reached stagnancy, in my addiction to “feeling good”?  Yes, I think so, unfortunately.  A part of me gets frustrated when I don’t feel anything in church.  I feel a surge of powerlessness when I walk out of that confessional, and I don’t feel a “something” in my soul.  In the past, I used to exit feeling somehow lighter than when I walked in.  Now… well… I just am.

I suppose that quote is rather truer than I’d like: “Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly.”  How relevant, how unbelievably discouraging to hear.  Because I can’t take myself lightly.  But I crave it terribly, that feeling.  Not emotional, I don’t think.  Just a clarity.  A sharpened sense, where I am aware that I am fully attuned upon receiving Communion.

And yet I know the reasons.  I’ve heard it before, probably said it once, and I’ll say it again.  God doesn’t want us to be addicted to Him, or addicted to the feelings He grants us.  That is not freedom, and no matter how much I might want to just have it easy and just sink into that feeling, that thing that makes it easy to just drop into that plane of reality normally unseen, I can’t.

My heart of hearts knows that if I can’t choose it freely, then I never actually wanted it to begin with.  Addiction is born of curiosity, not of any desire to possess the thing that one eventually becomes addicted to.  I know what addiction is, because three years ago, I was trapped in another kind, just as powerful, if not more.  From that, I know that freeing oneself from addiction is beyond me, myself, and I.  The lone wolf cannot hunt and survive on its own.

Nor can it create itself to aid.  There I go, sounding rather like I have a multiple personality disorder all over again.  I even had names for each of them, you know.  There was a real warrior type, taking my brightest aspects, then there was the assassin, everything dark and hated about me, stuck in one form.  I started a book.  It didn’t end well.
Those are my ghosts, the fantasy that I reject today, but I see where my younger self was coming from.  Coping with the tug of things is difficult, and that was my response then.  Now, it’s me.  I’m not going to invent more of me to fight my problems.  It doesn’t work.

So now you see where the dark danger comes into play, don’t you?  You get addicted to the idea of isolation, keen to hide yourself and everything that you are from what you see as prying eyes.  You bury yourself deep, and all the while, this stagnancy of spirit, this addiction to feeling plays against you.  I don’t like needing people.  Thing is, I’m still young, and I appear to have a foolhardy heart still.

You see where I am, I’m sure.  I seek escape in a dangerous way, tied to “feeling better”.  My transformation becomes external, rather than internal.  The surface you see changes to suit the newness of it all, but within, there lies a barely contained… something.

I feel it sometimes, boiling to the surface, blood pumping fast, eyes becoming steely, heart like it’s about to burst, a pain in the sides of my head, my breathing barely controlled.
It never gets far, as I slow down everything about me, shutting my eyes, sealing it as one does a vault, only it’s my mind.  A palace of madness.  And I have fears that one day it will be the thing that hurts not only me, but someone close to me.  A tenuous hold in the future shattered like glass.  A million pieces that cut.

Father Nathan was right.  I have been filled by the world, and I need another emptying.  I need Eagle Eye, or something just as life-changing.  Something more than just a week.  I need to change, radically.  I have to go, outside the bounds.  My land isn’t doing me any favors.  Nostalgia has a habit of killing things, and this isn’t my home anymore.

Maybe I’ve something gone undiagnosed, I don’t know.  Food related issues, possibly?  I know a favorite book character of mine struggled with that herself, but she at least had an innocent head on her shoulders.  Anger issues?  It would explain a lot.  Depression issues?  Maybe.  Also would explain.

I’m looking for a cure, which is problematic.  I don’t need some bloody doctor, I need other guidance.  I haven’t had the heart or the time to take on a spiritual director, but I feel as if that’s going to be the turning point.  Yet I second guess myself.  What if I don’t find one, and I’m just left with the same nagging sense of frustration?

I’m an agitated fellow, a real butterfly in the mind.  It’s leaping and flying all over the place, unable to stick to one solid path.  Still stuck in those dreams of my own concoction, torturing myself with the “what if I fail?” scenarios, or the “what if I can’t reach that?”, or better yet, “what if I can’t escape?”

A longing to leave.

Yet I can’t.  I have to sort things out here, before I go.  Just because one runs from something doesn’t mean they can avoid carrying it forward into everything that they do next.  And in my discernment of priesthood, I can’t be like this.  I cannot be a priest controlled by emotion.  Heck, I can’t be a father, I can’t be a good anything if I don’t get a handle on this.

 

~Nearing The Wall~

Raw.  Unchecked.  Me.  If you got through that, I applaud you.  Sort of.  Now you see where I stand.  Of course, maybe it’s good this way.  I make no pretense about what sort of person I am.  I might not say everything about me, but that’s probably deeper than I’d normally care to go.  Welcome to my world.  Still, I promised another part to this, didn’t I?

 

~2: The Eye~

When I talk about my own goodness, it’s usually not in relation to actually being good as a whole, it’s about my being good at doing… things.  I believe it’s alright to doubt that, doubt in my abilities.

My danger comes from this perfectionism that I’ve talked about before.  See, I place a lot of value on my capabilities.  Drawing a sketch “correctly”; being able to lift weights with the proper form, and okay, some decent amount of burden to them; being able to do the moves in any dance correctly; being able to put the right words in papers, etc.   I despise anything that I perceive as a weakness in those areas, and I find that when I “fail” per say, in those small areas, I begin to doubt myself on a much larger scale.

It’s like… like messing up a math problem.  You write out the numbers, plugging them into an equation, and miss one (this is something I actually did on a test), which inevitably throws the entire rest of it out of whack.  Worse still is if it’s one of the first calculations you make.  Thing is, life isn’t a math problem.  No amount of calculation and planning on my part is going to help the unplottable, and I’m certainly not going to be able to “plan out” perfection.

For a long time now, I’ve been plagued with this doubt that I’m a good man – goodness being in its truest sense.  It’s just the way it is, and I expect a way that the devil is going to attack me for a long time.  Just because I write something in a mad fit of passion doesn’t mean that thought just came to me then.  It might have been lurking in the shadows for some time.  Voices in my head, nagging at me.  I don’t get a moment’s silence.

Ms. Jackie, the speaker,  said something rather vital about those.  Satan has the title, “The Accuser”, which makes perfect sense, considering one of the voices in my head is constantly accusing me of my faults.  When I say accusing me, it’s constantly reminding me of how I’ve failed, even over things I thought long past.  Not only that, but the voice likes to point out how I can’t rise above such depths.

That’s key.  “Guilt can be a good thing.  The soul’s call to action.”  However, guilt that is constantly berating and putting us down is not from God.  God’s voice recognizes the fault, but it also encourages us to move forward, to rise.  How do we combat the other?  We literally send it away.  “Go to Hell where you belong.”  Just writing out those words already has my blood pumping, it’s kind of funny.
Remember that difference:  God lifts us up, like a hand clasp between brothers, pulling us to our feet.  The devil sees our failure, and stands over us, telling us we’ll never make it back to the surface.

I could go on to talk about the main personas the devil takes on, but I think there’s one in particular that was important for me to know.

“The secretive one”, in the context of a relationship.  Let’s say you had a friend who was dating someone who didn’t want anyone to know that there was a relationship present: Not family, not friends, no one.  That would be quite fishy wouldn’t it?  I hope you’d tell them to get out of that.  It’s quite unhealthy and dangerous.

Still, same thing here in essentials.  You’re faced with a situation, attached, in the thick of it, and here comes the voice.  It’s telling you that you don’t need anyone, trusting others is a weakness, and you need to hide what’s happening.

It’s a lie.  A lie that I myself keep believing.  Maybe I’m just stubborn, but I recognize and ignore that inner plea for help too often.  I like to shut myself in, because I tell myself I’ve gotten tired.  Tired of the struggle.  Tired of trusting, and feeling like I’ve been let down too many times.  I like to say that it’s just a weakness, needing others.  But we do, however much I might despise it at times, we do.  I won’t make it far otherwise.  I suppose it all comes under that desire to know and be known, doesn’t it?

And while there’s pain, I suppose it makes the best parts of relationships really stand out, doesn’t it?  I wish I could accept the pain for what it is, and use it to act, like I do sometimes with anger.  I channel it, I push myself further than I thought I could, I use it to better myself.  Pain on the psychological and emotional level is another battle entirely, and I’m not quite sure how to combat it yet.

So on the subject of whether I’m a good man or not, the question that keeps filtering through everything I think and write, can I just say that I don’t know?
Well, then that would be a lie, I suppose.  Listen very carefully to this next part, as it pertains not just to me, but you as well:  God made us good, and that will not change.

Say it three times, making it personal, believing it.  The consecrated woman said it to us, letting the words wash over us like cleansing water, as energy for the soul.  I can’t say I’m totally convinced myself, but I have hope that my heart will soon catch up with head, overcoming that disparity.

I’ve been so afraid for a long time of my actions, where I’m going, how I’m going to get there.  I suppose that’s what’s really holding me back from asking for a Director, as well as visiting with those at the seminary I hope to attend in the near future:  Fear, and attachments here still.  Do I settle said attachments before I go, or just leave, and hope that the environmental shift will have a much needed, profound effect on me?  It’s not apparent yet.

However, the last thing she left us with was one message, the most needed message for me, the one that she knows was given to her by God to pass on to us.  It was this: “I trust you.

Yeah we’re unworthy, sure we think we’re pretty unlovable when we fail, yes I oftentimes think I’m failing Him by my choice of path, and yes, I’m definitely afraid of that trust being placed in me, but He did.  He does.  He loves us as we are, and He believes in us.

And that is enough reason to stand tall – or as tall as you can when you’re as short as I am – and live on.  He saved me from getting killed or seriously injured in a wreck for a reason; saved me from a lot of stupid decisions I could have made in a lot of different areas, and will again in future, because I have a purpose.

My work isn’t done, and if I still believe in what He put in my heart at Eagle Eye and Abide, then my path is one of greatness.  I would be a fool to set that aside.

So here I am, off on another Eagle Eye adventure, ‘ere the sun rises.  I’m sticking with it, my life, because it’s what I’ve been given.  Do the same, because He made you good.  And that will never change.

-M

All Or Nothing (The Addict)

I’ve gone through many addictions in my relatively short life.  I’m not proud of a number of them.  Others are of no consequence.  Still others have their ups and downs, a cycle of choice and rejection, again and again.

Coffee is a good example of the last.  I go through a period of time where I find myself drinking it, day in and day out, without fail.  I want to feel it, like a fire coursing through my veins, keeping me from exhaustion.  I view every moment of sleep as a moment wasted, and I try to avoid the night.  My main goal is to stave back slumber until only absolutely necessary, and then succumb as my eyes begin to blur.

Then I realize that I don’t want to live like that, reliant on a drug to keep me up and about, and I stop.  How long I stop varies.  A day passes, then two, then the headaches start, and I fight through.  A day after those headaches vanish passes, then two… then inevitably, I find myself taking a sip of the drink.  I can’t escape it.  It’s too tempting.

Maybe it’s not problematic that I don’t have self-mastery over such a small area.  I don’t know, I just hate the feeling I get after going without it, and the feeling I also get when I spend too much on the drink at school.
It’s also clear to me that if I don’t have self-mastery in this small area, then perhaps it’s also safe to say that I will find difficulty in self-mastery over larger matters, which… I already have.

Over these past weeks, I feel like there are lapses in my memory, gaps where there should be something, where I should be remembering… something important.  My life has reached the point where it’s becoming a blur, and the moments that stick out are my only reference points to hold on to.  Alas, some of them are not so conducive to keeping one’s head on straight as I would like.

Still, I welcome the blur.  The swirling colors, all coming together, in their various shades and hues.  I would say I’m addicted to the feeling of spinning in the current.  Any second that I find myself emerging is a moment of weakness to me, and so I inevitably seek to be busy.  Busy busy busy.  Ever thought about that word?  It doesn’t always lead to being productive.  So I get obsessed with this idea of being busy, I get addicted to the endless cycle, and things that are important become mere flashes in the mind, until I’m faced with the reality that I have work to do.

A procrastinator’s dream interrupted.

I don’t have any advice this time.  I say a lot of things, trying to understand even myself, follow my own ideals, but as you can see, I’m not good about that.  This is more a plea for help than anything I’ve posted before.  I realize that I need prayers, that I don’t have everything together, and that if I can’t get most in place, some very vital life plans that lie contingent upon that fact might go very, very awry.  I wish to give my due attention to the spectacular now, as I have said, but even that seems to be passing by too quickly and yet too slowly.  I feel like something’s catching up to me, yet it’s taking its sweet time about it.

I want to go, discover who I’m truly called to be, whether by determining that I’m not to go a certain route or that I should in fact go.  But it feels so far.  So very far.  If you can’t tell already, I have a lot of fears about how things are supposed to go.  I know I have to trust, and that there is someone who can be trusted, but moments have this infuriating fashion of taking their sweet… time.  Trapped, but hoping to find that spark here.

I don’t know, but I have no time to write more.  I’m about to go to this thing called driving and square dancing, and it should be fun.  I want to find joy in it, but I’ve had difficulties lately.  So I request, once more, that you pray for me, as I pray for you.  Because I’ve been addicted to a lot of things that have held me back from being me, a sentiment I’m sure many of you may share.  And I suppose, if it’s any comfort, though time is painful, it also brings healing.  And maybe I’ll be searching for a long while, but I can at the very least say that I’m still seeking.  That perhaps is an addiction I can accept.

-M

Sky. Soul. Song.

You know what I hate?  Music shopping.  Seriously.  I think I’ve found that perfect tune, and inevitably, within a few short weeks at most, I’m sick of it.

Of course, listening to it Nonstop probably doesn’t help.  Welp, even on A Lovely Night, I shan’t be Satisfied.  Of course, tomorrow might just be Another Day of Sun.   May It Be the day I find something that I won’t ever grow tired of.  After all, songs are Little Wonders, passing by, heading off Into The West (a song I’ll admit to having feels over).

Hopefully you got all those references, but the point is, I constantly find myself playing such songs to death, and then after I’ve hit saturation point, I can either barely stand the sound of it, or I’ll only ever listen to it if my shuffle picks it up.

Music has always been special to me.  It’s allowed me to get in touch with my deeper emotions in a way that nothing else can.  It has brought love, fear, hate, strength, and sorrow to me.  And yet I cannot stand it for long, so I hunt for another to replace it.  The access point closes off, a now worn out path.

Why do I do this?  Well…

~

When I was younger, I used to lie back and look at the clouds.  I was enamored with the simple beauty present there, high above.  Indeed, this so affected my childhood that I named one of my first story characters “The Skyblade” in tribute.  He could fly above, suspended between, master of the domain, unencumbered and unimpeded.  He is free, and he (or perhaps I) still flies in my mind.

Today, finding myself with less time to lie down on the ground and appreciate the sky, I find that sunsets and sunrises are very dear to me indeed. The contrast, the warm glow, stretching across the blue expanse, radiant.
I always get a lift in spirits, especially after a trying day, seeing such things.
I do regret my inability to capture their magnificence in photographs while driving, but even when I do catch them, it lacks… something defining.

~

I must confess, I feel like singing when I see beautiful things.  Please don’t tell me I’m alone in that, but if I try to vocalize or form a tune, it doesn’t quite work out.  You ever try expressing yourself through spontaneous song composition? It doesn’t end well for me, and if I sing a song composed by someone else, it… lacks me in it, even if I can relate to what it’s saying.

I want to sing because there is something before me worth singing of, or composing poetry about.  There is something awesome in nature that begs my attention, something which I would be unwise to ignore.  When I see the sky, when my spirits soar to the high heavens, I wish I had a song to sing.  My being is overcome enough to need to pour forth a response.

~ My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior ~

Naturally, I’m nowhere near the level of Mary, but one can relate.  The outpouring, the cry of the heart, even the dissatisfaction, make sense in the light of one fact: that all was given by the Creator.

In their fleeting nature, these gifts have been made all the more precious.  Naturally, it’s easy to get frustrated with that, I understand, I am and always will be there with you, but there is hope.  So yeah okay, you might be single, or in a relationship that maybe isn’t as great as you had hoped.  Maybe you’re struggling with school (like me, yay), or a particularly difficult day/week/month on the job, or something else I can’t even begin to fathom.

I urge us, both you and myself, to find joy in the moment, whatever it is.  It might be more difficult, depending on your unique situation, but we have to seek it.  All things shall pass, good or bad, and we have to make the most of what we have been given.

On this Valentine’s Day – and really, every day that we live – when we see others, the ones we love; when we see things that cause our soul to sing, internally or vocally; when we are held spellbound by a sight… try be thankful for that moment.  Thank God that we get to live in the created world he gave to us, experiencing the life that he breathed into us.

Goodness knows, I’m not thankful enough for everything that has been placed in my path right here, right now.  I have not given the beautiful now its due.  So let the soul sing, and face the day!  Despair not the passage of time, but free your unique tune unto the world, verso l’alto!  It needs you as you are.

-M

Dreams, Daredevil, and… La La Land?

So, I recently watched this movie, perhaps you’ve heard of it?  La La Land.

You might be asking, “How in the world can you relate the grim, dark world of Daredevil to La La Land?”  Well, I’m glad you asked, my good humans, because I’m about to do it terribly.  Full disclosure, I’m basically spoiling some stuff from both, so… you’ve been warned I guess?

Let’s start with Daredevil.  It’s a world on fire, heh heh.  Two sides, Matt Murdock and Wilson Fisk, duking it out in a battle that requires everything that they have.

Their two worldviews stand in direct opposition to one another, but both seek what seems like a common goal: saving the city, making it a better place.
And yet they remain incompatible.  Why?  Well… one wants it in their image, controlled like crazy, and the other wants it to be free of all the crooks and thugs that plague it.  It’s… yeah okay, it’s kinda obvious.  Drat.  My bad.
Hell’s Kitchen is a mess of power, and these two opponents are… actually a mess in their own right, but that’s something I want to save for another, more focused post.

The point is, they have these goals, these dreams for their city.  They’re willing to sacrifice basically everything to reach it, both walking on their own dark, individualized paths, only able to play the game a few steps ahead at a time once they figure out that there’s another player on the board.

~

Now, La La Land, a recent watch of mine, and something I enjoyed, even if certain naysayers *cough, an Eaglet friend, cough* despised it, was also basically all about… dreams and sacrifice.  In a different way, obviously.  The two main characters aren’t exactly out to wreck each other’s plans, but… well…

That’s kind of the key thing at the end of the movie: the sacrifices involved, and the choices made.  No human ever knows how things are going to turn out in the end, we know this fact.  It’s only after the long move has been made that we look back and say: “Oh, I could have done it this way.” but even that view may be an idealism, unrealistic, and most likely disregarding the true challenges that would have been faced had said route been taken.

Dreams however, are good, even ones involving the past.  Indeed, Pope Francis in Amoris Laetitia (which I’ve been working through reading with my Kenosis group/fam/whatever over at Ruah Woods) says that a family without dreams is dead.  I’m paraphrasing from memory of course, because I lent the paper to another student to read, and now I don’t know where it is.  The point still stands.

Dreams are important: they’re how we visualize where we want to go, whether in general or moving on from a situation  – in those cases where our dreams tap into memory.  It’s a balance, and it’s risky, dreaming about life.  Nothing will ever go fully according to dream or plan, yet one has to willing to accept the consequences.

A year ago today, I had… a different experience of life.  An hour or so from now (when I wrote these specific words, obviously), one year ago, on a cold Saturday night.  Thanks Facebook memories, you’re both a blessing and a curse.  Feels like a different lifetime, really; one of those dreams that you wake up from and laugh at, because it was probably impossible in reality.  And yet it happened.  It really did, and it was good.  Even the buzzing in my ears at the end.

And that’s the thing that La La Land is real about, why I can appreciate it.  At the end, when the two main characters have had their little montage of “what if they had worked it all out differently”, they just kind of look at each other.  They look at each other, and then they smile.  And after that smile, comes the nod, as if to say with all sincerity and love: “Well, here we are.  We made our dreams reality.  And isn’t that fantastic?”

The thing is, spoiler again, they’re not together.  After all that time spent united, working together, loving and supporting one another, they got the premature farewell, when things were looking up for them once more.  That’s why it felt more realistic.  The choices they made changed where the sacrifice lay; by pursuing their individual dreams, they sacrificed their being together.  And that’s not a bad thing unless you look at it from that viewpoint that they should have ended up in the expected, movie finale way.

I say no, it was a good ending, and there’s something there worth striving for: Acceptance.  That’s where that “handy, if annoying at the worst of times” serenity prayer comes in.  There are things we can’t change, things we have to let go, and things we can do right here, right now, standing in front of us.  Dreams, if they hold us back, are a danger; dreams ignored and pushed aside are too.

~

The way I see it, every life is a pile of good things and bad things. The good things don’t always soften the bad things, but vice versa, the bad things don’t always spoil the good things and make them unimportant.

– The Doctor

~

The point is, I try to remember the past fondly, including all those embarrassing moments I experienced.  They made me who I am today, with my current dreams.  So, stealing another quote from Doctor Who: “To days to come.  All my love to long ago.”

Life is a complicated, ebb and flow of roads.  A bunch of highways with loopbacks and dead ends, and all sort of mental mishap on the way, but hopefully there is one singular destination.  Now, before they get there, some people have roads that cross multiple times.  Some have the high road, and others take the low road.  Some take a very long time before they cross again, as was the case with the movie, but in the end, they were able to accept what had happened.  They found their peace.

As for Daredevil and me watching it… well, I have yet to reach the part where one of their dreams is fulfilled, and I’m definitely not at peace waiting for the next part of that great and yet terribly cliff-hangery series.

So, try to find peace with your present situation, even if it does feel like that part in a TV series where everything is going wrong, your favorite characters are dying, and unresolved plot after unresolved plot follows (heh).  It gets better in time.  There’s no clock I can reference, but it will.  You just have to see it through.  Like the battle for Hell’s Kitchen.  It gets darker and more gruesome before the enemy’s gate is down (ah, that Ender’s Game reference).

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to listen to “A Lovely Night” for the gazillionth time while writing a dastardly paper.  I’m living in the moment, livin’ the dream.  And you should too.

-M

Heart Unbound

Closure.  That’s the word.
As hard as some things are, it’s always more difficult without closure.

If one reaches an end and receives closure, it’s quite the gift.  Some would rather do without it, but in many cases in life,  I think it’s worth it.  It’s the lightening of the heart from a weight you never really realized was there to begin with.  That’s what the gift affords you.

I’ve lived nearly two decades, and I’ve made many mistakes, some of which I will forever wonder about, but just this once, I’m not left without a clear finish line.  A clean break on the path, as it were; another marker to reference and be sure of as the next move is made.

Oh, there is or was pain involved, most of which I made myself, but it is outweighed somehow.

How?

Here’s the thing:  I’m not someone who thinks of happenings relating to one’s life as coincidences;  I take it as the Spirit reaching out to me.  Well, as far as noticing the signs, I believe it’s the Father pointing them out and teaching me; when I actually move and take action, I reckon it’s the Spirit working.

Before I saw all these… promptings… I felt overwhelmed, filled with a storm of anger thoroughly unwarranted by the situation.  My mind was more of a mess of emotion, fueled by a sort of buried madness.  Anyone else’s brains ever start to go into overdrive, becoming a blur, at which point hardly any coherent thought comes through?  That’s where I was, often.  I’d lost my sense of focus, and it became apparent throughout the days as I tried to work on a number of projects.

~

Maybe it was an experience at Mass… no, it was.  I remember it.  The first sign.

Father’s homily was quite the kick in the face, but it didn’t start there.  That Sunday, I felt more attentive to praying the Mass than I had in quite a while.  Reminds me of a quote from St. Irenaeus, actually (though there is some debate on whether he said it exactly or not).

“The glory of God is man fully alive, and the life of man is the vision of God.” and that’s what I felt.  As if all my senses, hampered by worry – not just over this one failure on my part, but also a number of matters related to my schoolwork – were kicked up several notches and suddenly unburdened.  I was able to see and pay attention to everything, but not be distracted by it (which is how I normally am at Mass, unfortunately).  This time, I felt right at home, truly in communion.
So when it came time for the homily, a time when I tend to zone out because of how hard it is to hear Father from the altar (shh, don’t tell, I do try), I was so there.  Amazing how God speaks if you actually listen to/for His word *coughs*.

Father’s homily spoke of finding three things, well, finding two things and doing the last for both of them:
-A companion
-A teacher
-Giving them a break

For this, I’ll focus on the things that really hit me in relation to what was happening, which were the first and last items on that list (the second – I’m pretty sure – is a push to continue my hunt for spiritual direction).
I’d heard it before, but he made note of the fact that John the Baptist sent his disciples to Christ.  Good companions lead one another on a journey of growth, with Heaven as the high goal.  Further still, he noted how Christ gives us specific companions, and… because they were given to us by Him… we shouldn’t easily turn our backs on them.
In a finishing blow, Father turned to the subject of expectations of others, how they won’t always meet ours, and sweet glory, how we’ll never meet theirs, so for Heaven’s sake… Don’t.  Give up.  Based on that.

Now, I must confess, I ignored this push for a bit, and as another day or so passed, well… it was St. Mother Teresa’s turn to smack me across the face, as I scrolled the endless Instagram feed:
“Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person…”
Because that’s what I’d been waiting for.  Initiative from someone else, anyone else, so I wouldn’t have to move on my own.  Did I mention I’m a prideful person?  It was pride that was keeping me back from admitting my failure, unwilling to admit that I remained restless in guilt.  And so… in response to that, God made me see the caption underneath the St. Teresa photo, from Mother Angelica: “… start looking into your own life and attacking your pride in all of its many forms.”

So that’s two mothers smacking me upside the head.  A trinity of smacks to the cranium, if we add Father’s words.

~

Suffice it to say, I did what I felt was right, this time with surety that I don’t normally have.  And when it turned out the way it did, when it was over, I ran.  Not away, but to.
I ended up in adoration, and it was the best decision I’ve ever made in my life.  The chapel was mercifully empty, and there I stood before the tabernacle.

Those moments will forever remain locked within me, like a calm fire; not deadly or destructive in its ways, but comforting and warm.  It was my turn to make a promise.

And so with clarity, and to quote Venerable Fulton Sheen, I say: “Sometimes the only way the good Lord can get into some hearts is to break them.”

There, I admit it.  I have a heart, and it’s broken.  Don’t look at me all funny, I’m not made of stone.  However, the gaps are closing, and faster than I expected, to be honest.  Because right there, in the immediate aftermath, I can look back on what took place and see why God drew me back one last time: to right the wrongs, to fix what I had brought to ruin.  To leave this artwork at peace with it and move on.  Because it isn’t terrible, it isn’t faulty, it is… a beautiful ending.  And oftentimes, you’ll find that the most beautiful endings are the ones that cause the greatest pain.

So I’m beginning.  I am… me.  I do have an idea about where to go, placed in me during what I now consider another era altogether.  Who by?  The voice, the whisper that follows me beyond the bounds, guiding me forward.

Am I a good man?  Let’s find out.

-M

Striving Death

How many times do we consider death in a day?  How many moments come to us in which we consider that mystery, the gate through which we all must pass eventually?

I like to think I’m rather good at planning ahead, thinking about the big picture, the consequences of each act, of every chance where death could have claimed me that was denied.

Now, that might make me sound suicidal, but I think the man who has not considered death is very unwise indeed.  It’s all very well to live in the present, but to deny the reality of mortality is foolhardy indeed.

I choose life in all its greatness and its struggles, but there’s always that blade hanging high above, the Sword of Damocles as it were.  When shall it fall?

I have absolutely no idea.  No one ever does.  I’ve taken steps, or at least tried to, in case I do die before all matters are sorted out, but there’s always something that’s bound to be missed.  A relationship, a personal goal, etc.

We write our stories expecting to reach a conclusion of our own making, but life isn’t like that.  More often than not, the end of the chapters, the series, they come to us, quiet as a breath of wind.  To end it as we wish renders us… cowardly, diminished, and lacking.  To force the hand of the writer, to stop at the point one wants misses something beautiful: the epilogue.

A lot of stories have such unexpected conclusions to great sagas.  One reaches the last chapter – and in their mind, the conclusion – thinking it the end of all the greatness of the story, and then is pleasantly surprised at times by what many pass over as an afterthought.

“Oh, this story has had its time.” some might say, “Let it pass, for to add anything further would ruin it.  Drop the book now, before it’s spoiled by whatever last words the author wanted to add.”

Rarely however, in both stories and in lives, have I found an epilogue not worth reading, or seemingly so.

By such final moments, by gift of the Great Giver, by mercy itself… the story may yet reach what may be pictured as a vast and utterly beautiful library; its shelves lined with books beyond imagination that are each uniquely penned, and yet all are wonderful and delightful to the eye of He that brought them home.

– M

Shatterpoint (An Analogy)

Hello, 2017, you’re an odd kettle of fish.

Perhaps it’s time to come back down off of that ethereal plane of a new year high and reconsider things.  I’m trying to break out of a bad habit… again.

The habit in question is… wait for it… you’d never believe me if you knew me in the past… oh… 6 months or so… video games.  Dun dun dun.  Oh, the horror!  So, as you can probably tell, it’s severely hampered my writing abilities in this mind-numbing fashion that brings out all the animalistic instincts I normally try to dissociate myself from.  Did I use that word correctly?  Oh well.

My point is… I need to get back to this.  I need to retune my skills like one attempts to tune an instrument (which I’m terrible at, ask any of my siblings).  And what else to bring me back to writing but a sobering, earthly subject?

I confess, I used a particular video game as an escape route, *cough* Shadow of Mordor *cough* thinking it quite cathartic in venting streams of anger that I didn’t quite know what to do with.  Am I an angry fellow?  I like to think I keep myself rather even tempered, but I’ve been prone to odd outbursts lately, and here’s where things actually start.  In the spirit of years’ resolutions, we’ll take the examples of goals for this, seeing as that’s basically what I had.

I had several goals this past semester, this past year, these past days, to reach a point regarding a matter rather… important to me.  So, in pursuit of that goal or that point that I saw as success, I kept hacking away at this wall of things that stood in the way of reaching that place.  As it turned out, well… the wall was much more solid than I imagined, and what had been envisioned as success rapidly turned into a nightmarish attempt to reach the other side.

I was left angry and bitter at my failure, and as such, sought an outlet.  Several outlets, actually.  And after each outlet, I thought I saw a glimmer of the far side of the wall, perhaps closer again than in truth.  I started once more at the wall, again and again, until at last, I saw that my efforts were fruitless in the extreme.  So… I tried to leave the wall.

Did I succeed?  I’m not quite sure just yet.  The heart is an odd thing, and memory another.  To cherish the latter has often led to a great distress in the former, at least in my case, but still I do it.

Why do I tell you this?  Well, indulge a young fellow, but I put this out here because I’m hoping I’m wrong, in a way.  If what I speak of seems unclear, garbed in analogy as it is, I do apologize.  My emotions hamper what I say more effectively than the shouts of a thousand men.

There is a point where one’s emotion must bow to reason.  When one has tried over and over to reach something that perhaps (I say perhaps, as one has yet to see) is not beneficial to the soul, to the ultimate goal of reaching Heaven; when one has experienced a greater negative outcome than positive by that continued attempt… perhaps it is time to conclude that the hope was in fact flawed.

Hope is not flawed, hoping in something in which one should not however, is.  I have tried, time and again to reach what I saw as the greater good, per a promise I made.  I met the wall.  Efforts met with the blank silence that comes from futility.  Oh, there may have been a few sparks as I battered at it, but no true persevering light.  Of course, there is the possibility that I went about it the wrong way.  I am a swordsman, so let’s take that analogy.

The approach I took by the way of the sword left no truly visible mark on that impenetrable wall; indeed, it only led to the blade growing duller with every attempt, and at last, that blade which I thought would hold forever shattered.

Maybe I used the wrong tool, maybe the wall was never mine to break through, but I think that I ask the questions of myself too late.  I lost, in those terms, and hopefully I’ve won in others (heh, see below).

 

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My personal seal I made, which I realized too late was a bit stubby.  But I succeeded-ish!

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Took me a good five attempts to get that right.  First I did it reverse, then it was too shallow, then it wasn’t showing up so clearly in terms of width (the picture doesn’t show the final product, unfortunately), then  it was too shallow again, then finally I found the right look.

 

The lesson I hope to take from it, for everything must be learned from, is to know when to change course.  Steer the car another direction as it were.  This road I’ve walked or driven might have been good and right at one point, but… maybe it’s not the case anymore.

We all have to face things like that at some point in our lives.  It’s kind of a downer, but it’s true.  The thing is, we must pray that we have the grace to know when to live with the consequences… and move forward (bit of Flash there for ya) from what we once thought was right for us.  That’s not to say it won’t ever be in the future… but at the moment… let it pass, into the west (them LoTR feels).

And also:

“Things end… that’s all.  Everything ends, and it’s always sad.  But everything begins again too… and that’s always happy.  Be happy.” – The Doctor

-M