Author’s Note: If you have not read the first post in this series then all the rest will make no sense at all. Please click here to take a quick look at Just Write Something Damnit! — Day 1
No Respect? Not An Option.
When I was growing up I was taught to respect three things: Authority, my elders, and myself. Having ‘no respect’ for any given person or situation was a punishable (yes, that was a thing) offense.
It was pretty simple. If an officer or teacher told me to do something I was to do it. If I was addressing someone older than me it was to be by “Mr” or “Ms/Mrs”. If I was going to do or say something I was to first consider if it was the right thing to do based upon the situation and the participants.
Respecting these things was not presented as an option. It was not a pick and choose scenario. It was a written-in-stone edict that I was to follow at all costs. It was the brick and mortar upon which all my other lessons would be set. It was also a basic tenet of the world in which we lived. It may have been taught, and/or, enforced differently by all my friends parents, but it was taught nonetheless.
Respect Is An Obstacle – Or Is It?
Of course, I questioned this way of doing things at the time. In my childish mind I felt that respecting these things always, and in every situation, was in direct opposition to being myself and being able to voice my own opinion. It also put a serious obstacle in the way of being able to get what I wanted, whenever I wanted it. As I grew older I questioned my parents.
This was when they taught me that it was okay to question anything and everything as long as I did so with respect and positive intent. My father taught me that respect for these things did not have to mean I agreed with them. It only meant that they needed to be given the benefit of the doubt and, if need be, challenged with respect and tact.
Please do not misunderstand. I am not and old man grousing about the way we were. I’m not lamenting the missed opportunity to be called Mr by my neighbors children the way their parents were by me. I am just trying to call attention to the glaring lack of respect that we, as a nation, currently suffer from.
Respect Is A Foreign Concept
The concept of respect is foreign to us as a people now. We have forgotten the lesson we learned and, in so doing, failed to pass it on to our children. We run roughshod now in our never ending quest to get what we want, when we want it. Our actions and words are put forth as if nothing, and no one, else mattered. We do not consider the situation or the other people affected by it. We simply lash out on Facebook or twitter like petulant children demanding our desires.
Social Media Eliminates The Need For Respect
Every problem we face as a county today is a direct result of this missing edict coupled with the ease of opinion sharing provided by social media. We form our ideas and opinions without respect, and then spread them to the masses. Once unleashed they are feasted upon, digested, and regurgitated ad infinitum. We do not respect authority. We do not respect our elders. We do not respect ourselves.
The result is the creation of entire movements based upon, and geared towards, the individuals right to have their every desire sated regardless of how it affects anyone else. We want to do and say as we please with no repercussions. Anyone that gets in the way of that is fodder for the social media masses. Facts no longer matter because no one respects themselves, or others, enough to check them before hopping on the bandwagon.
Respect Is A Two-Way Street
I assure you there is a better way. Everything and everyone can, and should, be questioned. The questions, respectfully asked, allow us to move forward, and be better as a nation and a people. Lack of respect is a killer of that process. It fosters hatred and unleashes vitriol. It sends valid points to wither and die upon deaf ears. You see respect, as I recall, is a two way street. If I put forth an opinion without respect for the intended audience I cannot logically expect a respectful reply. No matter how valid my point disdain and disrespect are the only possible return.
Writing For God
I have not written anything of substance in quite some time. Now I begin again with this statement: I am writing for God.
It is a simple declaration with a not-so-simple backstory. The people that know me will, most likely, be confused by it—those who have read anything I have ever written before, even more so. The following essay is intended to explain that decision and the path that led up to it. It is also my attempt to pull it all together in my own mind so that I can move forward, and accomplish what I intend to with this website.
The early years
I have been writing since I was about ten years old. No matter what has been going in my life I always found my way back to writing. It felt like a calling of sorts—like something I couldn’t, and shouldn’t, live without.
What I wrote was always dark. Hell, I don’t even think ‘dark’ covers it. Twisted. Masochistic. Misogynistic. Those are probably better adjectives to describe the stories I was telling. This was all intentional of course. I loved horror and that is what I wrote.
For some reason, it always seemed to me that the best way to find the truth about a person or a situation was to torture it until it screamed its soul out. Fear and destruction were the only lenses through which I could see anything. I could be walking into a church and see a simple—even beautiful—situation that my mind would immediately twist into the most terrible story possible. For example; I was driving down the street one winter day and happened to pass a home with a large picture window out front. I glanced as I drove by and saw a mother and daughter happily decorating their Christmas tree. Instead of appreciating the beauty of the moment my mind immediately asked the question ‘what if the husband/father was being murdered right outside that very window? What if his throat was slit and his blood washed upon the window that framed that perfect scene?’.
Where I was
That is where I was—Living that kind of life, with that kind of internal monologue. In retrospect, I realize that I had subconsciously trained my conscious mind to find the horror in every situation. I am sure there are some people who can handle that. To be honest, it was an empowering feeling to have the type of imagination that could write stories that would make people feel all types of ways—none of them good! Stephen King, Clive Barker—They were my heroes and I wanted to be them.
The problem was that I could not. Even though I loved writing those terrible stories there was always a battle going on in my subconscious mind—I felt guilty for putting such negativity into the world. I would have an idea and table it for months. Part of me just wanted it to go away. Another part of me had this insatiable desire to write—no matter what the cost. I tortured and destroyed myself over and over just like the characters and situations in my stories. Eventually—or maybe always—it all started to spill over into my personal life. Depression, anxiety, panic attacks, divorce, custody battles, breakups—every single thing in my life went to shit.
So there I was in my early 40’s—twisted, broken, filled with self-loathing, and self-pity. Sounds like a great time to make a major life decision right?
Instead of clearing the negativity from my mind I doubled down on it! I decided that I was going to self-publish some of my earlier work and start working on a novel that I had been thinking about for years. It was a terrible decision that, in hindsight, produced a miraculous result.
Two things needed to happen in order for me to move forward. First, I needed to re-read all of my previous work in order to prepare it for publication. Next, I had to sit down and actually outline the novel that had been a mere buzz in the back of my head up until that point. Both of those tasks combined to form the seed of the person that is writing this essay right now. It is so very easy to see it in hindsight, but at the moment there was nothing but darkness.
Editing the past and outlining (what I then considered to be) the future showed me something I never expected to see. There was a spirituality to everything I had written. It was well hidden to be sure—drenched in the blood and excrement of words I had chosen to tell my tales of terror—but it was there. I had always considered myself a ‘spiritual’ person but, for some reason, had never connected that spirituality (and God) with my actual life, or the words I was writing. It sounds ridiculous to say. I suppose the only thing I can chalk it up to is that sometimes the hardest thing to see is that which is right in front of you.
Realization and the wrong tales
What I finally realized was that I was telling the wrong tales. My heart and soul wanted to be writing for God, spirituality, and the connectivity of everything under the sun. My mind—covered in the thick dross of accumulated experience—only wanted to write stories that tortured the characters within.
That day had started out absolutely terrible. It was as if all of the negativity that I had put out into the world was crashing down on my head all at once. I felt beaten—full of self-loathing, self-pity, hopelessness, and completely out of control. It was in that moment that I decided to give up writing horror forever.
Decision & sacrifice
That decision (to give up something I had loved for the majority of my life) was terrifying but was the exact sacrifice needed to bring me back to God and change my life forever. It was my ‘come to Jesus’ moment, and it changed every single aspect of my life in a split second. I wiped the tears from my eyes, took a deep breath, relaxed, and felt at peace for the first time in a very long time. I said the words ‘Please guide me Lord’ out loud, and moved on with my day.
Moments later—amidst all the chaos of the surrounding me—I had a sudden desire to read. It seemed inappropriate considering the things I needed to deal with, but my mind would not let me rest until I did. I had started two books on my Kindle already, but neither of them seemed to be the right ones to read at that moment. I logged into Amazon and looked at my ‘suggested reading’ list. I saw a book there that I had glanced at on numerous occasions, but had never purchased. I bought it immediately, and my world changed!
A Book full of breadcrumbs
The book I bought was Morals and Dogma by Albert Pike. It was a laborious read and I almost stopped after the first chapter. Something inside me pushed me on though, and I finished it over the next couple of weeks. I plan on chronicling the ways in which it changed me in a later post, but for now, it is enough to say that it put everything that I had experienced in my life thus far into perspective. Suddenly the decision to sacrifice the thing I loved to do most (writing horror) was rewarded with the idea of what to do next—write for God!
The Dilemma with writing for God
Now here was the big dilemma: how does a person that doesn’t go to church, and doesn’t identify with any particular faith, begin to write about God? The more troubling question, perhaps: does that person even have a right to? These questions and fears stemmed mainly from my memories of—and questioning mentality with regards to—the church (any church) and organized religion in general.
Where I Am Now
Over a year has passed since I made that decision, and bought that book. I have come to realize it was just one, of many, waypoints in my spiritual journey—like breadcrumbs on a wooded path leading me home.
As I said, in the beginning, I have not written anything in a long time. I struggled with the questions above and let them hold me back. I held onto, and trusted, that moment I had asked for guidance the whole time though. In doing so waypoints (obvious ones) began to show themselves more and more along the way. It was not easy (our spiritual path never is), but it was always filled with joy, appreciation, and a way forward.
The answer to the dilemma above? Have faith and move forward with the complete certainty God will show you the way. That is it. That is what brought me to write this essay. That is what stirred my soul to create this website with the hope that someday it might be a spiritual waypoint for someone that was lost—just like me.