Sunday, June 22, 2014

Pom Poms, Sneakers, and Bleachers

You wouldn't have guessed it, but I was a cheerleader in high school. It didn't happen by accident. From the time my sister and I were about eight or nine years old, we had our own gymnastics studio in the basement of our house. Mind you, it was a concrete basement, including the floor. We would pile empty cardboard boxes one by one until one of us crashed into them as we made the headlong leap over them. Obviously, we had created a cushioned landing area. We would make our own balance beam, and hope we didn't fall. We never did. We couldn't afford gymnastic lessons, even if they had been available. So, we would watch gymnastics on TV every chance we could, and try to mimic what the real gymnasts were doing.  We taught ourselves to do flips and backbends, and all unnatural means of bodily contortions. I believe it was the simple fact I could do a backbend that earned me a spot on the cheer squad.

That was almost thirty years ago. I remember then I had always wished I could be a player on the court. However, my history and knowledge was not in playing the game, but in dance and gymnastics. That's the general rule for life and career. You get what you prepare yourself for.
Today, I wear sneakers of a different kind. I'm a doer. My history has prepared me through education - formal and informal, - and through experience. In high school, I studied hard and graduated at the top of my class. In college, I studied hard and graduated with honors the first time. The second time I was more interested in the learning than the GPA. I still graduated with a 3.0+.

Life has prepared me for a transformation I never expected. Although I was intelligent, strong-willed, and independent, I was lost to the purpose and function of my life. That said, I made some categorically tragic errors in judgment. Again, you get what you prepare yourself for - choose wisely.  I should note that I have never been and am not an alcoholic or drug addict. My categorical tragic errors in judgment stemmed from a need to be liked, and gaining the approval of others to validate my own worth - for better or worse.

Through trial and error, I learned that if you want to play with the big kids you have to put your sneakers on and get out on the court. You have to do this with the full knowledge you will make mistakes - just like everyone else. If you drop the ball and fall on your face, you have to get up and keep playing.

The trick is to make sure you are on the right team. Characteristics of the right team include: group effort, everyone has everyone else's back, there are no star players, and trust is an integral part of the team. If you find you are on the wrong team, then you have to find a team that is right for you. You get what you have prepared yourself for, are you prepared to compromise, support the successes of others, while assisting the bad plays by teammates?

I'm at the end of the third quarter of the game, and preparing myself to sit on the bleachers to watch the next team take over the court. I didn't expect this. Sitting on the bleachers is a lot tougher than I thought it would be. Anyone over the age of forty understands what I am talking about. We want to be in the game. We want our ideas and voices to be heard, and at the same time long for the rest the bleachers offer.

I didn't know what my purpose in life was until about a year ago. The whole of my life has 
prepared me for my purpose that didn't really arrive until the third quarter of the game arrived. I didn't see it at first. My focus was on the game. I was in the thick of the battle of winning and losing. Exhaustion and burn-out overtook my normal enthusiasm. The thrill of the game was no longer enough to satisfy my tired mind. I would look with envy at those who were already firmly seated on the bleachers.

In the midst of all of this, inspiration took over to write the Chrysalis series. I had already taken the plunge once in publishing, so it wasn't a real stretch for me. More often than not, my mind would be in the middle of the story plot than the game.

Where you find peace, you find your purpose. For me, the culmination of my purpose will be met on the bleachers. When the time comes, I will still shake my pom poms for the team, but my sneakers will be retired and replaced by a nice cushioned seat on the bleachers. 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Chrysalis: Torn Wings...Coming Soon!

The na hÉireann men of science, forced to work with the Daoine Réalta, must discover the secrets of The Butterfly Fields before all of Johnsport is lost; and indeed the world. At the edge of the canyons, the armies of the world prepare for a battle of which they have no knowledge how to fight; or win.

Standing at the edge of The Butterfly Fields, fierceness fills the breast - fear is the true enemy. Or, so they believe. Coming face to face with the Emperor, who now rules the heart and mind of The Butterfly Fields, shall truly tell the tale of what is fear, and what is terror.

In the skies above Johnsport shines a star that seems to grow in size and brilliance with each passing day. Is it a sign from He Who Created All Things, or an omen of the days foretold in the Great Book of All Things? The seasons are out of season, famine has swept the land, and a plague of fear has engulfed the Lowlands.

The only hope for the world is the power held between the two McCormick sisters. A power they have kept hidden in the elusive fields of butterflies. The na hÉireann men of science must find the source of this power, and the Daoine Réalta an explanation. The answer to the question must be found - Does He Who Created All Things exist or does He not?

Sunday, June 8, 2014

The Jesus Man

“If you ask me, how I’m doing, I’d lie and say I’m doing just fine…” ~ Gavin Degraw

Note to Readers:  The Jesus Man post began to formulate after a conversation I had last year [2013] regarding how people don’t listen when others talk, and then came home to a deeply saddened FB status by an old high school friend. His friend, and fellow U. S. Soldier, had committed suicide. The ironic thing about the status was how my friend implored everyone to listen to what is being said. There’s a lesson in this for all of us. If you don’t get it, it’s probably because this post is directed to a much younger audience.

In the 1990s, a young man rose to fame and fortune through his music. That young man was Kurt Cobain. At some point, Kurt Cobain was dubbed The Jesus Man, either through his own volition or his fans’, but it stuck.

On April 8, 1994, at 27 years old, Kurt Cobain took his own life, leaving behind his wife and young daughter. Later, the suicide note he had left behind was published. It was filled with all the reasons why. Summed up, it said No one was listening; not even his fans. They were not hearing what he was trying to convey in his music, which led to unfathomable frustration.

Outside of his fan base, most people didn’t even know who Kurt Cobain was until he had grasped the brass ring of stardom. By that time, most people only saw what was on the exterior of this extraordinary, deep-thinking soul lost in a world of chaos of which he could not make sense. And worse yet, in his mind, could not get his fans to understand him as a person and all the things he really represented.

He was seen by the older generations as a drug-addicted malcontent who was a bad influence on the children. The fans consumed his misery and unsettled soul like blood sucking vampires. His public image was distorted; not at all what he wanted his fans to feed on. He wanted to make a difference. He wanted to say all the things his soul was feeling, but he could not get the monochromatic world to listen. He was frustrated.

The songs he chose to perform, whether his own or those of others, all had a deep significant meaning to him. They all had something in common. They were all the double-edged sword of spiritual confliction. Let’s take a look at a few of them:

Come as You Are, as you were, as I want you to be. The lyrics of this song sound familiar outside of the music world, don’t they? We hear the words that it’s ok to be who you are, it’s safe, don’t worry; and then all the worries about falling short come to mind and things go haywire from there.

Lake of Fire (Originally, recorded by the Meat Puppets as a swipe against what they perceived as the hypocritical Christian faith.)where do all the bad people go when they die? They don’t go to heaven where the angels fly. They go to a lake of fire, don’t see them again ‘til the 4th of July.  Kurt Cobain was a huge fan of the Meat Puppets and performed this song often. In his suicide note, Kurt Cobain expressed several times his feelings of guilt. He didn’t feel guilty for what you might think. He felt guilty for being perceived as something he wasn’t, and his inability to live up to it. He wasn’t a drug-addicted malcontent whose soul was destined to be consumed by the vampirical fans of misery. You’ll have to think on this one for a while.

The Man Who Sold the WorldWe passed upon on the stairs...He said I was his friend…Kurt Cobain struggled immensely with his own self-identity. He also struggled with what he believed to be true. In his note, Kurt Cobain spoke about love, empathy, and humanity. This song was about meeting Jesus on the stairway to Heaven. He was surprised by the encounter. (Figuratively speaking) He had come face to face with the man who, in his mind, had sold the world. He says in the lyrics, I thought you died alone a long, long time ago. He felt abandon by Jesus long ago in his tormented life. In the second reference to the man on the stairs, he is referring to himself as the man who sold the world - the man who died alone a long, long time ago.

Kurt Cobain was indeed an extraordinary man in his own right. The world will never have the opportunity to know the true depth of his spirit, and what he desperately wanted - needed - the world to hear; because no one was listening.

When a person reaches the point of spiritual bankruptcy there are only two ways left to go - up or out. Unfortunately, many people choose out because they feel they are not being heard. I will always believe that Kurt Cobain was a good soul, lost to the millions of deaf ears his words were falling on.

When others are speaking, are you listening? Really?