Path of Paine

Wow, hi guys!

Can I lead up at the top that I appreciate you? Whoever you are, though I don’t know your name, your voice, your favorite food, or whether you prefer high-five’s or fist-bumps – I think you’re pretty great.

Out in California, right now we’re all collectively preparing for fire season. Mostly that means expecting power outages, preparing (at least mentally) go-bags we can quickly pack or grab in the event of an evacuation, and taking stock of what things are important enough to warrant inventory space and which might need to be committed to flames (worse case scenario, obviously).

Most of us have an idea of what we’d bring, and what that does is highlight what matters to us. It also usually highlights how many things of ours are…just things. And when that happens, it leads to a deeper appreciation for what we have. This could lead into a never-ending rant about how Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, and how I think it suffers the incredible irony of being severely underappreciated whilst getting crushed under the stampeding boots of Christmas shoppers- BUT we’ll leave that for another day.

In a largely roundabout way, what I mean to center on is that it’s a common thing for most go-bags to include a small stack of a person’s favorite books. Now, while fiction is my first love, and my treasured collection of Witcher novels would need to be pried out of my cold, dead hands, another that would need to come with me is Thomas Paine’s “Age of Reason.”

Enormously controversial in its day, I’m sure it could still be seen that way nowadays. In short, Paine describes it simply as his thoughts on religion. No wonder why then, in the mid-eighteenth century, the book landed him in some pretty hot water (and, actually, totally in jail). The second half of the book was written from prison, and it’s essentially his dissection of the Bible and the reasons why, in his view, it’s complete cockamamie nonsense.

I don’t love it for its second half. I love it for the first half.

The first sixty-eight pages (of my edition, anyway) are Paine outlining his own personal form of Deism – deism being a viewpoint that sees the universe as having a supreme, creating intelligence, but one that is separate from and does not intervene in the material world (Creation).

And while I want to, I’m not going to quote anything here – because I insist you read it yourself (found easily enough as a pdf right here —> Here!); and if you do, scroll down to pages thirty-three and thirty-four to get a taste of the root of his outlook.

In brief, he doesn’t see God necessarily as being a big bald-headed man in the clouds with a big floofy beard. Whatever name you want to give the force greater than understanding, more universal and common but as mysterious as consciousness itself, doesn’t matter so much.

But what is important is that the worship is in seeing. It’s in listening. In feeling. In smelling. In tasting. Taking in the world around us, trying to comprehend it, but above that – appreciating it.

Not to get too ‘woo-woo’ on us, but do you ever take a moment to recognize that you exist?

Just the fact that you, the awareness behind the eyes, inside the body, and behind the thoughts of whoever you are – are real. For no discernible point or purpose, from a mysterious some-say-unknowable origin, as a cosmic phenomenon…you exist. AND you’re able to contemplate that fact. Cogito, ergo sum, after all.

Worship is in appreciating what’s in front of you. What’s in you. What’s happened, or all the unknowable things that will happen. All of the heart-breakingly beautiful shapes and creatures on the planet, or those things our astronomers have shown us out in the cosmos.

It’s such a warping thought to know it’s so large that to even try comprehending the full breadth of it is unimaginable from the start.

Anyway, I’m feeling lost in the weeds now. We’re FULL rant. But…gah, things to think about right?

TL;DR – I appreciate you, things are awesome, good to think on that sometimes, woo-woo.

See you guys next time.

Be a Part of a Secret History

Had a thought that just occurred to me.

Do you remember in History class, or Social Studies, or whatever it was called where you went, and in the lessons you might be told, “People of this time thought ‘X’,” or “Members of this culture believed ‘Y’,” right?

I took a college course called ‘History of God,’ as well as a number of other religious studies curriculum, and one thing I will love my professor for forever was a distinction he drew: no matter what time period or culture you’re talking about, it’s not 100% true of all its members. Which is to say, it’s inaccurate to assume ALL people of a given time, given movement, or given culture can be attributed a given attitude or belief.

Many of us are familiar with the popular myths of the Egyptians, Greeks, Babylonians, Norse cultures, so on and so forth, but you can’t declare that those beliefs were held by all members of that time. Did many believe a stroke or seizure was a person being struck by an arrow of Apollo? Maybe, but were also many who heard that and thought, “Eh, I doubt that?” Yeah, totally. Were there Norse folk who thought the clouds in the sky were the brains of a frost giant? On record, yes. But might there have been those who saw the rain and quietly disputed that explanation? Of course.

Now, this is going to be a rough segue, but bear with me.

Was there a massive outcry following the finale of Game of Thrones, calling it garbage, full of ‘bad writing,’ and character abandonment? Yes. Are there also millions of us who acknowledge some of its flaws, enjoyed it massively regardless, and hold a lot of the outcry to be a bandwagon bit o’ bitching but just didn’t feel like shouting about that. Yes, God, and please remember that.

Was ‘The Last of Us’ a fantastic video game experience, whose sequel has fallen under fire with an enormous amount of controversy and outrage? Yes. Are there those of us who recognize the work, skill, creativity, and direction that went into it and are wondering why there’s so much hate? You bet your butt.

The sad thing is that the outrage is the louder voice, and so will be the one that’s heard and remembered. But, there’s an opportunity in that.

Imagining the future, where the archeologists and historians of tomorrow will look back on the records of today, they’ll see and know the hordes of angry fans, they’ll hear the desperate braying of upset followers, and recognize those things as the attitudes of the time…

But the astute among them will know there was another side of that time. A secret society of those of us who knew the true worth of those creations, whose job was to quietly safeguard the integrity of those arts, to hold them and keep them through the turmoil and the chaos until a time when they no longer need hide; and that they may fall into the hands of truly worthy, respectful recipients.

I literally stood by a window looking out at the sky while rehearsing that block. It brought me peace, breath, and probably an undue sense of importance; and I hope it can bring you the same.

Go in peace, brothers and sisters.

This is the way.

Watch the Time go By

Life is funny.

One minute, you’re writing a poem for your crush in the fourth grade, and the next, you’re thinking back on the decade since you last saw them, quietly browsing through their life on Facebook, wishing them well.

One minute, you’re a ten-year-old kid opening their bright blue lunchbox on the first day of fifth grade, and the next, you looking at that same, now-gray and weathered lunchbox while you’re twenty-six, emptying the pantry to move your mother out of her home.

One minute, you’re just a bunch of teenagers. Pot smoke, skateboard bruises, burgers, and savory high school politics, and the next, you’ve just come home from work, maybe you have plans with your colleagues maybe you don’t, and you’re reminiscing on those times you hadn’t thought would end.

Maybe you think of the cousin you’ve grown up with. Think of the man or woman they’ve become, then think back to the child you grew up alongside and realize that somewhere in the middle one became the other.

Somewhere in all those memories is the splendor of watching a huge web roll out (because “unfurl” would sound a bit pretentious here) like a gigantic road map of lives, seeing where the kids we knew somehow became the adults we know (or don’t, anymore).

“It is possible to make no mistakes and still lose. This is not a weakness. This is life.” – Captain Picard

Moments like this, where we zoom out for a second, realize we’re twenty-six now, and we get to see how far we’ve come and how far we still get to go (if we play our cards right).

We knew kids…that became adults and then died.

We knew kids that didn’t make it that far.

We’ve probably seen friends accomplish really cool things.

And known others that have spun out.

Maybe we’ve fallen away from people who we were really close to.

But then again, met new people we’re glad to know now.

Nihil nove sub sole – “There is nothing new under the Sun.”

None of this is meant to be some epiphany or great revelation, some wisdom I’ve found that I’m sharing to waiting ears. This has all been figured out before and gets figured out all the time. It’s more like a moment in a reaaally good meal – just taking a second to savor what you’ve got. It’s a way to harness the good times, to get more out of them. We tell ourselves to do it all the time with struggles. “When times get hard, just think about how strong you’ll be on the other side.” Same thinking here. If you don’t take a moment here and there to examine the life you’ve had and the one you’ve got, how can you ever be sure of what’s important?

Pain sucks, but it’s part of the human experience, and thus can be a pleasure.

Loss sucks, but its memory can be used to make warmth.

Regret sucks hard, but its lesson is a real straight road to wisdom and experience.

A long time ago, a farmer would walk to a far away well for water. He had a yoke on his back which held a bucket at either end. He would fill the buckets and carry the water home. Well, after the years, one bucket became weathered and cracked, unable to hold water with its leak. “I’m sorry,” said the bucket. “I’m old now and cannot work like I used to.”
“Not to worry,” replied the farmer. “When next we gather water, look to your side of the path.”
When next the farmer gathered water, the bucket saw that its side of the path was covered in fresh flowers, watered from its own leak.
“I planted seeds,” the farmer explained. “You see, as we grow older and acquire new qualities, they may all be turned to good advantage.”

Love hard, take care of yourselves.

In My Own Bed Tonight”

What’s crack-a-lackin’?

I just remembered something that I wanted to share, and it’s cool because the reason it came to mind is that I used it just a short while ago. What “it” is, is advice I gave myself when I was about eight. And I know that sounds self-aggrandizing and lame to say – because it is, no doubt – but believe me when I say it’s worthwhile (as verified by…well…me…hang in there!).

The advice itself is best served, like any superhero or do-gooder, with an origin story:

I’m an eight-year-old little boy going to K-Mart with his mom. We were probably there because I’d just gotten out of school and she needed to grab some things for the house before taking us home. I, obviously, was there to scout Yu-Gi-Oh cards and other toys, but that’s beside the point.

The point is that while we were there, I got lost.

No biggy, it’s just a department store, but I was a kid. I was a kid and we’d just moved to California, which meant I didn’t really have any friends or neighbors I could hope to bump into. One minute I’m looking at Transformers, the next I realize I don’t know where mom is.

The panic starts to settle on me, the anxiety tickles my scalp with its pins and its needles.

I’ll never know what brought it on, but right as my chin is beginning to tremble, a thought dawns on me: “It’s alright, because tonight, I’m going to be asleep in my own bed.”

The relief came almost instantly. I went from lost in a city of strangers to temporarily inconvenienced while I looked for someone.

It’s taken me eighteen-or-so years since then for the full weight of that to fully take root, and even still, I’m not sure I have all of it, but: “Whatever is the problem now, it’s alright, because later is going to be different.”

There are versions of that thought all over: “Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, then it’s not the end.” –everybody (but specifically found John Lennon being quoted this time)

Now, don’t misunderstand me. I fully realize that not every problem can be set aside so easily as with this little mental trick. If a family member is in critical condition after a heart attack or something, just saying, “It’s alright, because tomorrow’s a new day” won’t alleviate the worry on its own (and it won’t solve shit).

But I’ve used this perspective so many times for similar issues (to getting lost, not the heart attack, though we’ll get to that). Lost in San Francisco at night because I can’t find the car? I’ll make it home eventually and this will all be a story for later. In a fight with a friend? Life finds a way to sort itself out one way or another? Driving during a dangerous storm? Keep focused, and you’ll be feeling the sheets soon enough. Just having a shitty day at work? Ride it out, and that cotton will feel even better for getting through it.

In a rut just with life in general? That will require work, probably lots of it. But those restful nights will be critical, and after enough effort, life will change in a much more colorful, flavorful, storied way.

So the next time you’re in an uncomfortable situation, it’s worthwhile to look ahead knowing there’s something on the other side of it.

Anyway, that’s my two cents.

#twopennies

Insanity isn’t What I Thought it Was

Sup everybody.

(Hmmm…word of warning up top: this one is a little heavy. I was going through some of my random files and found the following. It was deep into a really tough life event (about a year ago), and is basically a diary entry from then. I’m mostly putting it on here as…well, going on whim, really; but also in case it resonates with anyone. I’m going to omit some names, given the nature of the thing, but otherwise, it’s just something I sat down and typed out as the feelings arose. Anyway, consider yourself informed [sounds less dramatic than “warned,” and we’re trying to have fun here- well, not today, exactly, but just in general and you get what I- oh God, okay, onto the thing]).

I think I might be going insane.

It’s been about seven months since mom went to the hospital, and about that long since we first heard the word “dementia” as it relates to her. Since then, it’s been neurology visit after neurology visit, insurance call after insurance call, email after email with hospital management – everybody either not knowing what to do or trying to get rid of us.

I just woke up from the same nightmare, three times in the same night, and bawled my eyes out.

I cried for an hour.

In it, mom died, the bank wanted to take her house, [landlady] said she couldn’t keep me as a tenant, and nobody was around – Mandy, [uncle], [aunt], [cousin], [in-law], [in-law], [aunt], [Pierre], even city workers from the damned coroner’s office – absolutely nobody.

There were people, but no one I knew and no one who was willing to help.

I was utterly alone.

And I woke up feeling that way, thinking that way.

Mandy came to bed when I called and lie there, consoling me. I told her the voice in my head kept telling me that the dream was right, that no one would miss me if I was gone. She told me that I was loved and listed people who felt that way.

In the nightmare, though, that was just the thing. Nobody was around, nobody cared. And all the people who would love me…the feeling just didn’t go that far. Nightmares have always been that way: I need to run, I’m slow; I need to punch, I hit light as a feather; I need love, the most someone can feel towards me is casually like me.

It was a world where love towards me just didn’t exist.

Every name she gave, the voice found a way to tell me why that wasn’t true. (Except when she said “Jeremy”. Weirdly, the voice said “Yeah, I guess him, actually”.)

She told me that I was family, and that her family was mine too, that I needed to let go of this feeling that I’d be so easily abandoned. She gave [a sibling] as an example of how persevering her family was with troubles.

Again, the voice piped up and told me that that was different. [A sibling] is family by blood, it said. Of course they won’t abandon him, it continued, he’s a son and brother by blood – you, though…?

“Even marriage,” it said, “is different.”

It seems true for everyone else, I tried telling it.

“For them, yeah. But for you…?”

I went from crying to laughing into her chest and shoulder. And I’m not sure why. I think it was because I could see how crazy this all looked and sounded, and the laughing didn’t help but kept going anyway.

When we had to put Ferdinand (our cat) down a couple of years ago, it was the reminder of how harsh but sure a teacher experience can be – or rather, just is.

I stood in the bathroom and she brought me a glass of water and a hug. After she left, I swirled the water around and drank it. And I think I know why people prefer the burn of whiskey or scotch in moments like that, like in the movies.

I’m starting to wonder when people describe voices in their head, whether they mean actually hearing someone speaking to them inside their head or if it’s impulses or thoughts that just don’t sound like what they’d usually think to themselves. Foreign ideas and concepts that feel like invaders.

Because this voice was fully the latter.

But boy it was convincing. And I think that’s because it sounds like I’m talking to myself, telling myself things. But it still sounds like a voice that’s not mine.

So I’m starting to think that’s what insanity is. It may not just be a sudden crack into mad raving, but soft touches like this, a voice that tells your low worth, how easily you’ll be forgotten, and that if you confide this in anyone, that gives them power over you and they might use it just for fun, because they know they have it now.

The more I woke up, though, the quieter the voice got – which isn’t really a super sign in and of itself. You shouldn’t be afraid of sleep, afraid of whatever-this-is waiting for you when you’re tired. But as I woke up, another voice spoke up that told the first to shut the fuck up.

It told me that I’m not the only who gets like this, and I believe that.

Which is both comforting and kind of scary, isn’t it? I don’t want the people around me to wake up crying and then cackle about it, and to have that be something normal.

But se la vie.

Which is what the voice said next. “That’s part of the human experience, baby. Learn to love it. Happiness, anger, thrill, depression – they’re all in the same basket.”

It didn’t say the parts past “baby”, but I know it’s what it meant.

While I was crying into Mandy’s shoulder, I told her something. Something very true that I don’t think I’ve told anyone – even myself.

I’m afraid of dying alone.

Not “dying while single” or “dying and not being in a relationship” or even “dying with nobody around at that particular moment” even though they’re all definitely true.

I’m scared (ironically to death) of dying and nobody caring.

Then my team of mental coaches – Deadpool, Kevin Hart, and Kratos – ganged up and beat up the voice in a cartoon dust cloud.

And I’ve been pretty optimistic and comfortable in my skin since.

Also, because I think I learned something.

When I was a kid, I thought going crazy was scary, but maybe a little fun. I thought you’d get used to seeing people that weren’t there or hearing voices no one spoke and you could just make it a fun new world view.

But I think insanity’s a little softer than that and a LOT more intimate.

We’re all a little bit insane.

Or at least part of me hopes so.

A Different Look at Optimists II

(It’s a re-post, on account of being busy. Sorry + Thanks for being you!)

To start off, I hate it when people behave like ultra pessimists and respond to accusations of being such by saying, “I’m not a pessimist (bro), I’m just a realist.”

Translated, that says, “I’m totally not being a whiny b-hole (bro), I just see things the way they really are because I’m hype and in-tune n’ shit.”

See how goofy it sounds when clarified?

It’s the same lazy route people take when they fancy themselves a sophisticated critic when all they do is harsh on whatever the subject matter is. It doesn’t make you all high-brow, insightful, or point to a delicate taste when nothing pleases you, it’s lazy. L-A-Z-Y, lazy. Criticism is a dissection, a surgical breakdown and analysis of what you were presented with followed by feedback on what elicited responses from you in positive and negative ways. It’s not just being hard-headed.

It
grapes my nuts
chives my spuds
grinds my gears
gets my goat so badly because it takes no effort whatsoever to not see the good in things. It’s so easy to look at a situation and see why it sucks or how it could suck. Armchair anthropologists/psychologists will tell you it’s a primal rooting in our brains to see, seek out, and guard against the negative. So of course it’s easy, it’s natural.

You know what isn’t easy?

Being an optimist.

And trust me, this isn’t a boo-hoo on behalf of optimists. We have it pretty good always seeing some kind of benefit or path to success in grimy situations. What I am saying about it, is that it’s exhausting.

And not in a day-to-day sense, necessarily. But it seems to be an undeniable fact of adult life that things get pretty shitty sometimes (also natural, as armchair sociologists would have it).

We fall into ruts. We run up against walls. We lose traction. Time to time we just zig when we ought to have zagged, and Boom! — life problem.

THAT is where being an optimist is goddamn exhausting. (And that’s a little different from having a spirit to persevere, but we’ll get to that in a second.) Because especially if one is an optimist by nature while thing after thing in our life explodes or crumbles around us, the part of our brain that makes us shitty gamblers takes over: “It’s okay,” says The Brain, “this next thing we try will be the one that works out,” or, “Nope, it’s fine. It’s this next thing that will be what works.” So on and so forth.

You lose your job and you set up three interviews at new places of work. The first two totally bomb and don’t call you back, and while you’re thinking, “it’s okay, this next one is the one that works,” your car breaks down. “It’s okay,” say Brain again, “we’ll just take the bus.” And so you take the bus to your third interview, but you get sick the night before and mugged as you step off the bus. “It’s okay,” Brian pipes up once more, “at least we’ll have a new job to help us with our car soon.” Meanwhile, you make it to your third interview, and it turns out the interviewer is racist or something – boom – rejected immediately. And your phone’s battery died, so you can’t Uber home and have to walk instead.

“It’s okay,” whispers Brain. “In a few years, you’ll be able to look back on this as one hell of a chapter in your life.”

Even those points where you’ve been knocked down, picked yourself up and dusted yourself off, only to see your efforts fail and get knocked down again, and repeated that process dozens of times with only minor, scattered successes…

…it can leave you feeling really trapped to know that come morning, after a night’s sleep, you’ll be back to telling yourself that it’s this next effort that will break through.

It’s dancing on the line of delusion, battling – almost secretly – with this inner question of whether or not you should cut your losses because this is a vain effort, but knowing your habit is going to keep the cycle going anyway.

This isn’t to speak on those who’ve fallen into a dark place and need help to climb back out. Having a spirit that perseveres is hard for everyone. And I guess that’s my point here, really. Times get difficult for everyone (and if they don’t for you, either congratu-fuckin’-lations, or re-examine what you get up to, because you’re a liar and/or it’s probably boring and unremarkable).

My point at the end of it all with how it regards optimism, I suppose, is that just because a happy face and strong spirit are at the front of it doesn’t somehow magically erase the struggle. It’s difficult emotionally loading up each new effort, sure that “this is the one,” then watching it fail, and trying to convince yourself you aren’t delusional when you do it again because giving up just feels icky.

Not trying to change anyone’s mind or “spread enlightenment,” really; but cool if it happens.

Anyhow, peace y’all.

A Different Look at Optimists

To start off, I hate it when people behave like ultra pessimists and respond to accusations of being such by saying, “I’m not a pessimist (bro), I’m just a realist.”

Translated, that says, “I’m totally not being a whiny b-hole (bro), I just see things the way they really are because I’m hype and in-tune n’ shit.”

See how goofy it sounds when clarified?

It’s the same lazy route people take when they fancy themselves a sophisticated critic when all they do is harsh on whatever the subject matter is. It doesn’t make you all high-brow, insightful, or point to a delicate taste when nothing pleases you, it’s lazy. L-A-Z-Y, lazy. Criticism is a dissection, a surgical breakdown and analysis of what you were presented with followed by feedback on what elicited responses from you in positive and negative ways. It’s not just being hard-headed.

It
grapes my nuts
chives my spuds
grinds my gears
gets my goat so badly because it takes no effort whatsoever to not see the good in things. It’s so easy to look at a situation and see why it sucks or how it could suck. Armchair anthropologists/psychologists will tell you it’s a primal rooting in our brains to see, seek out, and guard against the negative. So of course it’s easy, it’s natural.

You know what isn’t easy?

Being an optimist.

And trust me, this isn’t a boo-hoo on behalf of optimists. We have it pretty good always seeing some kind of benefit or path to success in grimy situations. What I am saying about it, is that it’s exhausting.

And not in a day-to-day sense, necessarily. But it seems to be an undeniable fact of adult life that things get pretty shitty sometimes (also natural, as armchair sociologists would have it).

We fall into ruts. We run up against walls. We lose traction. Time to time we just zig when we ought to have zagged, and Boom! — life problem.

THAT is where being an optimist is goddamn exhausting. (And that’s a little different from having a spirit to persevere, but we’ll get to that in a second.) Because especially if one is an optimist by nature while thing after thing in our life explodes or crumbles around us, the part of our brain that makes us shitty gamblers takes over: “It’s okay,” says The Brain, “this next thing we try will be the one that works out,” or, “Nope, it’s fine. It’s this next thing that will be what works.” So on and so forth.

You lose your job and you set up three interviews at new places of work. The first two totally bomb and don’t call you back, and while you’re thinking, “it’s okay, this next one is the one that works,” your car breaks down. “It’s okay,” say Brain again, “we’ll just take the bus.” And so you take the bus to your third interview, but you get sick the night before and mugged as you step off the bus. “It’s okay,” Brian pipes up once more, “at least we’ll have a new job to help us with our car soon.” Meanwhile, you make it to your third interview, and it turns out the interviewer is racist or something – boom – rejected immediately. And your phone’s battery died, so you can’t Uber home and have to walk instead.

“It’s okay,” whispers Brain. “In a few years, you’ll be able to look back on this as one hell of a chapter in your life.”

Even those points where you’ve been knocked down, picked yourself up and dusted yourself off, only to see your efforts fail and get knocked down again, and repeated that process dozens of times with only minor, scattered successes…

…it can leave you feeling really trapped to know that come morning, after a night’s sleep, you’ll be back to telling yourself that it’s this next effort that will break through.

It’s dancing on the line of delusion, battling – almost secretly – with this inner question of whether or not you should cut your losses because this is a vain effort, but knowing your habit is going to keep the cycle going anyway.

This isn’t to speak on those who’ve fallen into a dark place and need help to climb back out. Having a spirit that perseveres is hard for everyone. And I guess that’s my point here, really. Times get difficult for everyone (and if they don’t for you, either congratu-fuckin’-lations, or re-examine what you get up to, because you’re a liar and/or it’s probably boring and unremarkable).

My point at the end of it all with how it regards optimism, I suppose, is that just because a happy face and strong spirit are at the front of it doesn’t somehow magically erase the struggle. It’s difficult emotionally loading up each new effort, sure that “this is the one,” then watching it fail, and trying to convince yourself you aren’t delusional when you do it again because giving up just feels icky.

Not trying to change anyone’s mind or “spread enlightenment,” really; but cool if it happens.

Anyhow, peace y’all.

Non-Lucid [Horror-ish] Dreaming

Hey all,

Since this has become- I just realized the greeting looks like the beginning of a letter. That’s how you know I was writing emails just before doing this. Let it serve as a reminder that this whole thing, this whole “The Light of Day” project is basically the raw milk of online blogging. I edit embarrassingly little. It’s mostly just a stream of consciousness that I type out as I think it – like these words are talking to you. Which…which is sort of how words…are supposed…to work…

ANYWAY.

Since this has become a bit of a dream journal as of late, I think we’re gonna roll that out again. This time, though, I can kind of track where the dream came from, which won’t make it any less fantastical once we get into it, but that’s beside the point.

Two things we should probably highlight before we delve into this:

  1. I have a warm fondness for the scoundrel archetype. That doesn’t necessarily mean troublemakers, pranksters, or ‘yee-haw!’ wildcards. Scoundrels, to me, are the characters that exist for themselves. They can be the main protagonists, but serve better as part of the auxiliary cast. Their motives serve themselves entirely. They might help the heroes, and might hinder the villain, but mostly as part of happenstance, coincidence, or convenience. They aren’t mean-spirited, they’re just sort of selfish survivalists.
  2. These past few weeks have been rough. I’m not going to use this to bitch, bark, or “woe is me,” cause that’s annoying for all included. Just letting it serve as context for how said stress wound up personified in the dreamscape.

I was standing on the rain-slick battlement of a castle during a stormy night (because of course it was). Around me was a small gaggle of faceless knights who I presume were supposed to be my friends, family, and/or securities (as opposed to “insecurities”). In a Battle of Helms Deep fashion, across the murky field stood an absolute army of vampires.

Why vampires?

Good question.

I don’t know, but they were vampires. And none of that nonsense, sparkly, Twilight vampires. Good, classic Magic: the Gathering-style vampires. Fangs, claws, black armor n’ shit.

Anyway, the vampires charge, all screaming obscenities for some reason (that part seemed excessive even to me as the dreamer), and we clash on the field of battle. Pretty quickly, it turned into one of those scenes wherein, one-by-one, the heroes slowly fall to the insurmountable numbers of the enemy, but I stood there on the battlement cleaving away, just, bushels of vampires.

I’m ducking. I’m dodging. I’m slashing with my sword. I’m getting bit. I’m getting punched. I’m throwing expert Muy Thai knees like a fuckin’ ninja in medieval-fantasy armor.

But the whole time, no matter how much success I find, the horde of vampires just keeps coming, and I realize that going at it, fighting them all off myself – no matter how expertly I feel I’m doing it – just won’t suffice forever.

So I keep at it, fighting like a choreographed badass, until an idea strikes me.

I shout orders to my few remaining knights to line the grates by a nearby looming castle wall with some sort of explosive. What came next when I gave the order to light it, was the deus ex machina-style victory, wherein the hero remembers that the big fuck-off wall in the background was some kind of long-forgotten damn, and in demolishing it, we flood the valley with running water that drowns out the vampires and saves the day.

I think…I think it’s supposed to be some kind of metaphor for how the power is within you “all along,” and you just need to know how and when to tap into it.

Or maybe it was just a killer dream about vampires.

I leave it to you.

Happy Thursday.

Peace.

Lucid [Horror] Dreaming

Guys, I think I might be losing my touch a little bit.

Once upon a time, I used to have a super power. Unfortunately, it wasn’t anything cool like immense strength, ultra speed, or being able to reliably find the last parking spot on a busy day; though I CAN usually guess the time without looking, but I’m consistently a single minute off – which I’m sure is what will eventually drive me to being a super villain.

ANYWAY.

No, my power was that I could, in a very limited way, reliably lucid dream.The way it worked was simple: if I was in a dream, and it started to get scary or in any way stressful, I would suddenly become lucid and therefore decide if I wanted to continue with the dream, or pull the rip cord and wake myself up. One of my favorites went sort of as follows:

I’m on an alien space ship, and it’s sort of a cross between Alien and the Halo series. I’m in a Spartan suit, but I’m being stalked by a Xenomorph. Things are going however they’re going as I look for a battery for the last escape pod, or whatever, and I come to a place in the ship where the lights are out. There’s a break in the flooring, and I know I have to go down into this super creepy spot next, when suddenly, I realize it’s a dream. I hear a snarl over my shoulder, but now suddenly lucid say, “Hahahahaha- no.” And boom, I wake up. Easy peezey.

That ability has given me the confidence such that I’ve made it a consistent hobby of mine to eat spicey food or have a bit of booze just before bed for the bizarre dreams. And that’s landed me with some real zingers.

But I think I’m starting to slip.

Last night, I had a series of bad, scary dreams. I mean, fortunately, they were the kind of “horror/action movie” bad as opposed to “real life tragedy” bad, but still.

I went from trying to escape some kind of compound, stealthily taking out guards and praying I wouldn’t get caught, to – naturally – a zombie apocolypse. From there, the last two softcore nightmares both took place in mansions. The less supernatural one was kind of a Victorian-era murder mystery; which would have been sort of cool, if I weren’t hacked to death at the end of it.

But the last one motivated today’s post entirely. And not even for the whole of it – which, of course, I can’t totally remember anymore because dreams are shitty that way (especially the good ones!) – but for an eerie effect that I remember happening somewhere near the middle.

I was walking up flights of furnished mahogany stairs in a half-covered mansion. “Half-covered” in that much of the furniture was draped in old sheets to protect them from dust. It’s morning time and the sun is pouring through the windows, and I’m looking for something. I don’t totally remember what, but I remember it was important.

I make it to the top floor, search for a while, and make for the stairs again. I’m at the top when I hear a sound, so I look over my shoulder. Behind me and down the hall is a figure, draped in black cloth and wearing a stoic, featureless, white mask (picture a creepier No Face). I’ve never had sleep paralysis before, but I’ve heard it’s terrible, and now I sort of understand why.

I couldn’t move a muscle.

But that didn’t keep my heart from pounding, my breath quickening, or my nerves frying while I fought it. The white mask floated over to me – it didn’t walk – but just coasted over the hardwood like a chess piece, and while it did that, I watched the light in the hallway and coming through all the windows shift. I watched morning, become noon, become evening, become night, become morning again, over and over, so quickly it was like a slow strobing effect. Every time the figure was hidden by the darkness of night and reappeared in morning light, it was different: arms slowly grew out from under the sleeves which turned to claws, it grew taller, the expression on the featureless, plain mask became more and more malevolent.

For whatever reason, my paralysis finally broke free and I turned to make a run for the stairs, but they were suddenly missing, leading just to a sheer drop down four stories.

The rest of the dream was a chase as I dashed in and out of bedrooms and down hallways trying to escape, until I eventually was tackled by something.

WITHOUT WAKING UP OR BEING ABLE TO GO LUCID.

I guess my point is that getting older sucks. (Eh, but it’s kind of cool too, but more on that later. I have to go.)

Ciao.

*creak, creak* Ahem…

Because it probably doesn’t make sense, I’d like to explain that the title is supposed to be the sound of me setting up a soapbox, because this is about to get a little preachy (for, like, a second).

I’m on Facebook, but I’m not really on Facebook. I pop by, scroll for funny or insightful pictures, “tune in” to certain people’s pages like I’m checking the news or drama, then I pop back off. Not that this is letting any cats out of any bags, but: any longer than that, I find, it can be enough to drive the best of us utterly insane.

I’m only saying that because even from underneath my big-ass rock, I heard about Kobe Bryan’ts death (I almost said “passing,” but let’s be real with each other, he and the several others on board died that day). And I’m going to keep this short, because this blog is two things: 1) a place for fun tales and day-dreams, and 2) thought-vomit and healthy, cathartic rants. What it isn’t, despite the introduction, is a place to be preachy or political. But as I was scrolling Facebook yesterday, I came across…just…too many un-apologists.

Does that make any sense?

Just, several people who took time out of their day to address the current event and be sure to include that while condolences to the victims of the crash were due, they were never going to say they were sorry for calling him a rapist.

Who…who’s asking you to?

When the story broke on the news (before his family was told, which is shitty), did a queue of people just line up asking if you were yet willing to reneg on your years-old comments?

Probably not.

I don’t have a dog in the race, no opinion on the matter, no facts to spew, but it just struck me as odd how many people took time out of their day to proclaim their negative thoughts on a seventeen year old, single accusation.

The story as far as I understand it is that back in 2003, someone accused him of sexual assault.

If true, gross; definitely make up for what you did.

If not, also gross, because that’s the damage an easily started rumor can do, if after two decades you, your daughter, and several others all die, and people spring out of the woodwork to call you a rapist in response.

I don’t really have a direct message here with all this other than to say- nah, fuck that, to ask if there’s room for redemption; any space for understanding; any ground for a moment’s patience prior to judgement anymore? (Trick question. Answer’s “yes.” Why we don’t avail ourselves of it seems to be another issue.)

There are obvious cases out there (cough Weinstein cough), and everything those evil-doers get is probably deserved. But then there’s the gray area of nuance, misunderstanding, of – and don’t think of all this in the context of sexual assault, either; just…anything. Fucking life is full of passing ships, mixed messages, misinterpretations in every area. What motivates droves of us to throw fire, and to slap ourselves with a “Hello, my name is” sticker labelled “Judge, Jury, Executioner” on it (tortured metaphor, but stick with me) is weirdly beyond me.

Just…don’t give yourself a hammer, then call everything a goddamn nail. At least not without looking inward, first. I don’t know if it’s a radical idea to put out there, but maybe check to see you have your shit in some semblence of order before giving your unsolicited sermon. God, especially if that sermon doesn’t do anything beyond showing your colors.

To those folks, and just any of us, three suggestions:

  1. Make your bed every morning.
    This one’s pretty age-old, as advice goes. Life can suck sometimes, true; and doubly true when things feel out of your control. So while it seems like a tiny thing (because it is), just making your bed can do a fuck-ton to bring you back to center and turn you towards the right stuff.
  2. Find someone you respect, and memorize their voice.
    One of the things that I’m sure leads to a lot of the stuff I complained about above is the emboldening power of the anonymity of the internet. Stories of trolls online being confronted by their targets suddenly turning into apologetic, down-to-earth people are countless. Having a person in front of you changes the interaction. So, if you don’t have someone in front of you, imagine one.
    Just earlier today, I was deep into a mission on Far Cry: New Dawn (great game if you love the franchise like I do), had to go to the bathroom, did that, and almost popped right back to the living room without washing my hands. I reached for the light, and Israel Adesanya’s voice just came to mind and went, “Tch, wash your hands, boy. What’chu doin’?”
    A minute later, I was back in my game, but my hands were soft and smelled like lavendar.
  3. Hug someone.
    This one is pretty self-explanatory. Hugs are awesome.

Cool. I think that’s enough to pepper the internet with for one day. Later, gators.