My Beliefs

My journaling journey continues with the next in a series of probing questions. “What do my current beliefs mean to me? And do I practice any form of religion?”

My personal beliefs are extremely important to me. As with anyone else, those beliefs help to define me as a person and guide me through everyday life. 

I got my beliefs from my parents just like almost everyone else. I was taught to follow my heart and my instincts rather than a set of rules and dogmatic instructions. This made me different from my friends growing up, and I am proud of it.

As far as religion, I tried it. My parents encouraged me to see what it was all about and I was not pressured to accept or reject it. I was taught to trust what I had been taught by them, to follow my heart and to judge what religion delivered against what religion promised. After a few years, I came to the conclusion that religion was nothing more than a MINDFUCK designed to stifle creative thinking and individuality. Religion is a con game run by charlatans only interested in making a quick buck. Religion is nothing more than a tool to control the masses, as Marx indicated, by promising people that suffering is noble while the rich get richer by exploiting the poor.

Religion is an excuse to allow the problems of the world to continue without being properly addressed because “It is God’s will”. This is a lame excuse to allow wars, famines, injustices, and other cruelties to go unpunished. Religion is designed to make people feel like they have done something when in reality they have done nothing at all.

Religion has no place in my beliefs these days. I have moved past it. 

Mortality

     Just over an hour ago, a quiet Sunday afternoon was shattered by the news that Kobe Bryant had died in a helicopter crash in Southern California. Adding to that was the even more heartbreaking news that Kobe’s oldest daughter was also killed in the crash. 

     I am not a big NBA fan, I want to put that statement out there first. The real tragedy is that a 41 year old man, in the prime of his life and his young daughter are no longer with us. Both are gone far too soon, and no explanation will ever give true understanding about what happened. 

     Life is fragile. That makes it so important to enjoy and live life to the fullest. It can be gone in an instant without warning.      I hope that Kobe’s widow and children can find love and support as they go to this terrible day, and the days to change me. I hope that everyone will respect their privacy and not make them a part of whatever macabre spectacle the media comes up with. 

    Tell those you love how special they are and how much they matter to you, because you never know when Mortality will show up. 

The Big Day

     It was 56 years and today when I entered the world. Obviously, I don’t remember that exact day, but the fact that I was born on my Dad’s birthday has always been special to me. 

I have never been a person who celebrates birthdays with over-the-top parties. Historically, my birthday has always been a quiet event for family and a few friends. As my family has dwindled through the years due to geographic separation and emotional indifference, friends became more important. At least that was how I felt until those times and people began to deteriorate as well. The reciprocal buying of gifts always turned into a question of who spent more on their gift, them for my birthday, or me for theirs.

With Hal (person) I have enjoyed a quiet day with lunch at Golden Corral and then some errands to spend time together for the rest of the day and evening. Gifts were given but I am glad that Hal didn’t spend a ridiculous amount on me. Personally, I believe that my birthday is just as much about showing how much I care about those close to me as it is about them making a fuss over me.

56 years ago today, I came into the world. I am still here and doing just fine.

Top 5 Fears

I spent much of my life dealing with the fear of being alone. Loneliness is a terrible thing if left untreated because we are all social beings. My attempts to cure loneliness were often unsuccessful because I was raised so differently from the other kids I grew up with. I had two great parents who took an active interest without the “helicopter” approach that seems to be all the rage now.

I made friends easily, but most friendships didn’t last that long because I was seen as opinionated and arrogant. FOr my part, I thought of so many people as shallow and insincere, willing to follow whatever mindless trend dominated the moment. I felt that I was held to a higher standard by my parents, not necessarily making me superior in any way, but making me more mature and honest.

Romance was difficult as well, and this highlighted the loneliness. I seemed to be unable to find the right person. It wasn’t until I realized that I was never going to meet the “right” person that my loneliness started to ease. When I met Hal (person), I was mature and experienced enough to not try to rush into anything, and neither was he. We had shared experiences that brought us together, and that is where the first bonds were formed.

I no longer fear loneliness. I have spent a lifetime dealing with it and overcoming it.

Who doesn’t fear failure? I struggled as a child to do my best to live up to my parents’ expectations. Thankfully, both of them told me that there were no standards that I had to meet other than being honest and to be myself with them. I had a great deal of trust from my parents, and that added to the perception that I was aloof and arrogant as I mentioned earlier.

I learned that failures are what we build upon as we go through life. No one likes to fail, but those who never fail have never tried.

There is a trend here because the next fear is rejection. The hardest lesson I ever had to learn was that not everyone will like me, regardless of what I do or say. The struggle to gain acceptance can cripple us emotionally. I eventually learned that the people who would demand that I meet their expectations were the people who wanted to exercise that level of control over me. I refuse to give my life to someone else.

If you ever saw the movie “The Replacements” about a football team, then you will understand the reference to quicksand. It is the fear of getting into a situation where you feel that there is no way out and that anything you do will only serve to make the situation worse. Eventually, you decide to stop struggling, knowing that you will sink, but afraid that trying to change anything will only make things worse. If the outcome is predetermined, then struggling is not going to make a difference. I refuse to accept that there are those situations. It is always better to strive to improve things rather than simply accept them as they are because the choice to accept is more comfortable.

I used to fear being ridiculed. I overcame that one, so go ahead, I can take it 🙂

Unconditional Love

     Sometimes when I get so wound up with my own problems such as insomnia, I lose track of the important things that are happening all around me. As I was sitting here feeling sorry for myself, Stevie Nicks showed up at my feet. 

     After I greeted her, she jumped onto my lap and began rubbing against me, almost like she was telling me that everything was going to be OK. Her purring soothed me and I managed to get the following picture where her expression is one of Unconditional Love. 

     Soon after taking the picture, Stevie Nicks jumped down and wandered off in search of a snack. Her kindness still lingers with me. 

Dreamer’s World February 27 2017 – Daily Prompt “Center”

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The Daily Prompt is “Center”. To me this means the point at which all things converge, and therefore, the place where we must deal with them all. When I studied meditation (not seriously) I was advised to find my “center” as the point where I had absolute control. I was to then either allow or reject all of the things that demanded to get into my “center”. In effect I was triaging the events and issues in my life and determining which ones had to be dealt with immediately as opposed to those that simply wanted attention that was better directed elsewhere.

The first step was to empty the “center” and become calm. This was a lot harder than it sounds and is the place where many give up on the practice of meditation. It takes time and patience and continuous practice to get to the “center” in a clear state of mind. Each step was a journey as I tried to learn to block out all of the things that demanded to go along for the ride with me.

Once there, the second step was to learn to embrace and enjoy the peace that the “center” offered. It is a spiritual experience once you have mastered the willpower to get there in the right frame of mind. It always helps to have a singular focus point. I would visualize a candle burning and try to think of nothing but the flame.

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It was a living thing as I learned to watch it and see how the variations happened. I didn’t physically look at a candle, I simply imagined it in as much detail as possible. What at first was rather boring was in fact a way to focus myself. I had to learn to let the distractions go and simply keep my mind on the candle.

Step 3 was to learn how long I could maintain this “center” and the peace it provided me with. As time went on, I was able to stay there longer and longer. I then began to learn that the “center” is a place that we should only visit occasionally.

There is a scene in the Harry Potter movies where Harry sees his dead parents in a mirror. Obviously Harry doesn’t want to leave and constantly gazes into the mirror because it makes him feel complete. He has found the thing that he always knew he was lacking. “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that.” is the advice that Dumbledore gives to Harry, and he is absolutely right.

The hardest thing about the “center” is letting go. When I broke away too quickly, I was overwhelmed by the onrushing issues and concerns that I had just recently escaped from. I had to learn to gradually put out the flame on the candle that I focused on. I would slowly extinguish the flame and then I would picture myself turning away from the candle and leaving the room and locking the door behind me. As I did this I was consciously allowing the real world to filter back into me. In this way, leaving the “center” was not as hard or painful.

The “center” is within each of us. We should all visit it regularly, but learn to never overstay our welcome. The temptation is great to never leave, but I refer to the quote listed above as to why we all must leave it. It will always be where we left it, the journey to find it is an exercise in self-discipline and is worth the effort because once we have found it, we can return as needed.

Dreamer’s World April 10 2016 – Siblings Day as an Only Child

I wasn’t aware that there was such a thing as Siblings Day until today when I saw friends posting about it on FaceBook. It seems like a wonderful idea to celebrate one’s siblings so I am surprised that I hadn’t heard of it before. I am sure that I would have remembered this from the past, because it does hold significance for me, although not in the way that it does for most people.
     I am an only child. The reasons are complex, but they center on the fact that my Mother was rather small of stature. I found out when I was a child that my birth, had it occurred naturally, would most likely have killed my Mother and that was why I was born via c-section. Obviously, this led to the decision by my parents that they would not attempt another child at the expense of my Mother’s health and/or life.
     I have always envied those who have siblings. I choose that word carefully because I am NOT jealous of those people, I envy them. The best way to explain that rather deep sentiment is that I can envy someone who is rich, because I have never been rich. I can only be JEALOUS of someone who has something similar to what I have, but which I feel is better than what I have. I hope that clears things up.
     Growing up as an only child was something that I was aware of, but that also involved the realization that there was nothing at all I could ever do about it. I asked that question about why i had no brothers or sisters when I was very young, because all of my friends did. When I was told about the medical issues with my Mother, I understood and never asked again.
     And so, I lived my childhood knowing that I was different to a degree. I was never spoiled, but I was made aware that I was special and unique. I was given a healthy sense of self from both my parents and I am grateful to them for that every day of my life. I learned responsibility by being the one who was responsible for things, not for being one of a group of people. I had no fall-back position if I did something wrong. I could not blame anyone else for my fuck-ups. While this lesson was not particularly pleasant, it was very important as I journeyed through life.
     I found this picture and it does resonate with me as I talk about this. After the death of my parents I am totally alone. There is no other real family left. I have my relationships, and I cherish them, but they are not the deep bond that siblings have. Siblings know that they carry on what was given to them collectively. They remain as sources of support throughout their lives, and that is beautiful. Anyway, back to the picture
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I am the figure on the path. I may be moving towards the viewer, or I may be moving away. It is beautifully indeterminate, just like life itself. For me, as the figure in the picture, my reality is where I am on the path. It is everything else that changes as I move along. As much as I love Hal (person), this path is my own. Only a sibling would have enough of the commonalities to be pictured as walking with me.
     Surprisingly to some, I seldom feel alone. I feel normal, as I always have. My path was always the solo path, fate made it so. To be miserable and feel overwhelmed and alone would mean that I would stop moving altogether. I will never stop moving along my path until I die, there is too much to see. The direction I choose to move in is irrelevant from this picture. If someone sees me moving away from them, then so be it. If they choose to see me moving towards them, then so be that as well.
     I will get to where I am going, through the sun and the shadows. I will not get there by standing still. For those on their own paths who are fortunate enough to have siblings, enjoy the journey together, and may there be as few forks in your path as possible to separate you. My path may have forks in it as well, I have the freedom to take them to see where they lead, knowing that only myself will answer if things go wrong.
     That sense of freedom is exhilarating and scary at the same time. Not having to worry about a family member is a blessing and a curse. In the end, it all evens out, and my Type B personality just tells me to take things at my own pace and enjoy the journey.
     Happy Siblings Day to everyone. Hold them close.