Religion, and other ramblings

I had a long, and lengthy, discussion with a friend of mine on the topic of religion and beliefs. For the longest time, I thought of myself as a pagan. Then, when belief failed me, I turned to atheism. Now, I am not so sure what to call myself. I cannot say there is nothing out there, but I cannot definitively say something is out there either. I simply do not know.

What I can say with certainty is there is much to this world that we still do not understand.

I believe gods were created out of necessity. People needed something to put their faith in to believe that everything would be okay. This could be anything from the weather patterns, food, fertility, even death. Every culture, every people that has walked this earth, has held some form of  belief. By the time Christianity was conceived, tens of thousands of cultures had been long dead, and with them their gods died as well.

We must then choose to belief that there is something, or there is nothing. Furthermore, we must then decide who is right, and who is wrong. But what if the truth was no one was completely right, and no one is completely wrong?

I am of the belief that true faith comes from acknowledging the fact that we simply do not know. We can strive to find answers, but ultimately, we just do not know. We want to be right so badly that we sometimes miss the fact that answers can lie in unsuspecting places. Religion does not explain everything, and science does not explain everything. If you were to put the two together, however, you get more answers, and the divide between people is thinned. If you acknowledge that answers can lie within multiple religions rather than just one, more answers are presented.

I do not believe in absolutes. Nothing is absolutely bad, and nothing is absolutely good. Nothing is absolutely correct, or absolutely wrong. Bad can have good intentions, and with bad comes lessons. Good can have bad intentions, and good can also have its own set of lessons. While we argue incessantly over who is right and who is wrong, we are missing the biggest picture of them all; we are all human beings sharing an earth together, and our bickering is leading to our own demise.

Religion, and even a lack thereof, has led to countless centuries of bloodshed. Our earth is covered in gallons of blood from fallen warriors willing to die for what they believed to be correct, and its the age old chess match. There is no winner when there is death. The biggest armies does not mean one is more correct than another. A religion with a massive following is no better than a smaller following. The number of followers does not dictate the level of faith a group of people may possess. The only thing numbers provide is a larger army from which wars can begin, and how history will remember the fallen.

Going back to a point I made earlier within this post, I believe gods were created from faith, and that faith came from necessity. As people moved from land to land, they took their gods with them. The people changed, evolved, and the gods were forced to do the same. That is why we see so many who call themselves by the same name, yet believe so differently. This is why we see so many beliefs that are similar to other religious beliefs from countries we’ve never visited.  What I see now, however, is stagnation. The world, like it or not, is constantly evolving. New gods are being created out of necessity, new beliefs are forming from necessity, yet people cling so dearly to the old ways they have always known. This is not the way the universe is supposed to work. This is not to say, of course, that we should completely abandon the “old ways”, but we should not stay stuck in them. If we remained stuck, you would not be sitting at your computer, or holding your phone, reading these words while constructing your responses. We must learn from the old ways, and bring the old into the new. We must take the lessons we’ve been given, but continue to move forward. We will be ancient history one day. Our future generations will look back on this generation in disgust, as we look back on certain aspects of our ancestors, and wonder “How could people sit by and allow this to happen?” Stagnation.

There must be a balance, a harmony. The longer we continue to allow ourselves to be divided, the more we see the world being destroyed. Soon, there will be no one to argue with of right and wrong, because there will be no one left to have an opinion.

I do not believe faith comes from a book written by men. In fact, I believe religious texts are one of the poisons of our society. A book that teaches people how to live can easily be rewritten, or mistranslated, to sway the public opinion. We have seen the evidence of this, in fact, with the changes made to the bible over time. Faith comes from within, belief comes from within, and we create our gods out of necessity. Each person serves a purpose, and therefore we must also accept that “bad” people also serve a purpose. With the recent popularity in Ted Bundy, I’ll use him as an example. Ted Bundy did terrible things, but from those terrible things, we got a unique insight into the way the mind of a serial killer functions. We have a better understanding of just how terrible the human mind can be, and we saw warning signs. We bettered our understanding of the evolution of a serial killer, While we focus on the acts done by the man, we also looked at the victims. Each death gives us more answers about the human body, the human vessel. Each day we continue to move forward and learn, and that is the way we are supposed to be. We are supposed to move forward and learn more so that we may have stronger beliefs in the capability of mankind.

From all the negative things that have happened, good has come out of them. Every experience shapes who we are as people. While some events have a bigger impact than others, we cannot point fingers and continue to hate one group or the other. Instead, we take the information, good and bad, and we learn from it. The situations thrown upon us are up to us to decide how we are going to react to them. Bad can be changed to good.

Perhaps I’m getting a bit rambling, and perhaps I’m even not making sense now. I honestly cannot tell. I can only hope these words make sense to someone out there. I wish these words could help the progression by helping people realize the importance of accepting change, of accepting progression, of accepting we do not know everything, and accepting that absolutes simply don’t exist. No one is right, no one is wrong, no one is bad, no one is good all the time. It is simply impossible. Change, evolution of ourselves, however, is very possible, if we’d simply allow it to happen.


The True Power of Positive Mental Attitude

The True Power of Positive Mental Attitude

I get a lot of comments on my tattoos. Sometimes they’re positive, sometimes negative. You get used to it after some time, and the explanations can become jaded. But a nice woman came in to get a room, and asked me what this tattoo was all about, because it looked cool.

I don’t know what possessed me, but I decided to give her the actual meaning behind it.

I asked if she was familiar with YouTube, to which she said she was. I told her there was a man, named JackSepticEye, who does a lot of charity work, who makes people laugh, who publicly fights depression, and maintains a message known as PMA.

“What is PMA?” She asks. Her questions are genuine.

“Positive Mental Attitude.” I explain, “As a person who suffers from a mental disorder on a daily basis, I got this tattoo to show my support for him, his movement, but also a reminder to myself when things get bad.”

She’s fallen silent. I look up at her, having been busy looking down at the computer screen checking her in. Had I gone too far?

She breathes what I can only describe as a sigh of relief and says “I’m going to have to tell my husband to look him up. He’s bipolar, and he could use a bit of positivity in his life like that.” I looked at her, and we had an unspoken understanding. Mental illness is hard on everyone. It’s hard for the person dealing with it, and it’s hard for those we love. I set my professionalism aside, and told her she was awesome.

I’ve had people walk out of my life, cast me aside, because they “couldn’t handle” my “crazy”. Indeed, I’ve destroyed friendships with my “crazy”. To have her standing in front of me, and tell me of her husband’s condition not because she was ashamed, or because she hated him, but because she saw someone who understood from both sides how stressful and difficult it could be… I told her she was awesome, and thanked her for being a good person.

A man was sitting in my lobby at the time, and overheard everything. He’d needed a place to stop to change his daughter’s diaper. As soon as the guest left, he approached the counter and handed me $20. I was shocked and said “Sir, you don’t have to do that.” He shook his head, waved his hand, and said “Thank you for letting us stop. Keep up that positive mental attitude.” Then he walked out as I thanked him.

THAT’S the power of Positive Mental Attitude. That’s the TRUE POWER OF PMA.

The Fridge Project

The Fridge Project

So, I wanted to share a bit of a story with you guys. A YouTuber I watch, named Markiplier, started this thing called Kick Cult. We were all going to spread positivity, joy, be happy, etc. But with all things Markiplier does, there is always a plot twist. He started a chat server on Discord.

During Markiplier’s Kick Cult craziness, I stumbled into one of the discord channels known, at first, as Yippee. It became Congay, a safe haven for all members of the LGBT community to join. We became fast friends, the chat was very chill. But the plot twist came when one by one, Mark began closing the channels. As the channels began to die, Congay members rushed to create new servers, spamming them as fast as possible to continue the friendship a little further. I clicked on one, and after a short time I began to realize….I was probably the oldest one there. Let me tell you. If you’ve never experienced this for yourself, it is a very awkward situation.

I thought about leaving. After all, what do I have in common with a group of teenagers? I’m old to them! So, I observed. And I noticed something interesting. Many of them were in bad places, with parental figures who didn’t support them. They’d been betrayed by family, by friends. Most of them just wanted someone to be proud of them. I realized then… I had EVERYTHING in common with them. Not only that, but I was in a unique position to share with them my experiences and…being an adult, I could help them. I could spread some of that JackSepticEye PMA (Positive Mental Attitude). I became the mother of the group. It started off simply with reminding them they were loved, telling them I was proud of their accomplishments… But I had no way of showing it. I’m a firm believer in actions speaking louder than words…but how? How can I show almost 300 people that I cared.

Then it hit me.

When I was a kid, every time I accomplished something, my mother would put it on the refrigerator for all to see. So. I went to the store.

And bought 1,000 post it notes. I posted a message to the server.

And waited. It didn’t take long before something amazing began to happen.

These kids, some of whom had so many self esteem issues, were finding positive things about themselves so they could get on the refrigerator. They were going out, trying new things, and telling me about them. Not just that, but they started nominating each other. Encouraging each other. Tagging me left and right to make sure I saw the accomplishments. I started carrying a notebook around with me so that even at work, I could keep up with messages.

I got many of their birthdays and added them to my calendar.

(August is a slow month. September and October are where the party is!)

And I’m just so blown away by all of this. Somehow, I managed to become the mom to so many people…But I realized I wasn’t just helping them. I was helping me, too..I was able to tell them all the things I wish I’d heard, or all the things I wish I’d known. I want to push myself harder to help them see they can do AMAZING things!!

The protect has only been going for about two to three days, but this is what my refrigerator looks like now.

(Pardon the stains, it was a hand me down). More and more messages come in and I’m so…happy… And my “babies” helped me more than I could have ever imagined. I went from being a very lonely, sad individual to the mother of a bunch of people… I matter. I make a difference.

You live once, but you grow up thrice.

Hello, my dedicated readers. It has been a while, and for that, I must apologize. I felt I had much to say, but no great way to say it. I don’t ever want to feel I’m wasting my reader’s time, but most importantly, I want to feel proud of everything I deliver. Until now, I did not feel I could do such a task. I am, however, going to attempt to post more regularly. With that out of the way, one of the reasons I’ve been so quiet is actually the topic of today’s blog. It is my personal opinion that each person grows up three times.

The first time is legally. In the United States, an individual is classified as an adult upon reaching the age eighteen. At eighteen, most teenagers are finishing, or just recently finished, high school. They’re preparing to go out into the world and take in all it has to offer. Many are filled with hopes of what the future holds. Some begin working, others go off to school, while others wait patiently to see what comes their way.

The second time a person grows up is independently. This is the first time an individual pays a bill on their own, acquires debt of any sort, makes a big purchase, so forth. This is growth in the sense of realizing you’re on your own. I should mention now that each stage of growth can happen at any point. A person could reach this stage at sixteen, or be considered legally an adult at sixteen depending on circumstances. Like much of life, these are not considered absolutes.

The third time an individual grows up is, arguably, the most difficult growth of them all. Mentally. In many ways, this growth is depressing. It is the realization that life is not what you thought it would be, and the people you’ve surrounded yourself with are not who you thought they were. This is the moment where long held relationships are brought into question, closely examined to judge compatibility. It is the moment when you question everything you’ve done with your life, and compare it to what you want to do in your future. Have you made the right choices? Are your actions moving you forward? Dreams are replaced with reality. It is a hard pill to swallow, and can break you. It is painful, much like the growing pains of our youth, because not everyone reaches this stage at the same time. You’ll find friendships that you’d always counted on distancing, interests you’ve always held slipping away into obscurity, and you’re left wondering…what’s the point? You feel, suddenly, very alone.

What is the point?

Here’s the beauty of the third stage. It is not a guarantee deal breaker. Those around you may grow to match your new found adulthood. Others will not. Your priorities will change. Just like when you made your first big purchase by yourself, you can control how this growth controls your life. Those that refuse to grow may cease to matter, but you find those who grew with you grow closer to you. Dreams may be replaced with reality, but we all shape our reality. You now have the clearest mind to make those dreams come true. Perhaps with some adjustments. This is different for everyone and it is painful. But you have the strength to push forward.

The reason for my silence can be blamed on growth number three. I’ve had to make quite a number of changes in my life, not all of them easy. I did feel broken. I fought hard for friendships I knew, deep down, were over. I’d become so focused on the lack of direction towards the things I wanted that I became stagnant. Upon realizing what I was experiencing, I finally surrendered to it and accepted the change. I was the one holding myself back rather than making myself go in the direction I wanted to go.

I started having dreams again.

I’m not holding onto as much stress as I was by trying to conquer the world’s problems, while it spit on me in return. I learned to pick my own battles, I learned to appreciate what was important. It hurts. It absolutely hurts. You begin to accept the things you cannot control, you cannot handle, and you find a new path. Even if you have to carve that path from stone with a spoon.

Do not be afraid of this growth, my friends. It is okay to be afraid. It is okay to make mistakes. It is okay to try new things. It is okay to fail. It is okay to say no. You will come out the other side stronger than ever before. I am not preaching from the perspective of a success story, I’m telling you from the point of view of someone who has finally realized…life is mine… Truly mine… And I’m okay with that.

I hope this, in some small way, helps someone out there.

Witnessing Tragedy from Afar

April 5th began as a normal day. I drove to work, had fun with my coworkers, made plans for dinner… On my way home, I noticed police activity ahead, and traffic was slowed to a crawl. I had places to go, things to do, and the slow moving traffic was an inconvenience. I’ve learned, however, that sometimes life forces you to slow down for a reason.

The reason this time was a tragic accident. A young man had been struck by another vehicle, killing him instantly. His body, hidden from view by a sheet, lay in the road surrounded by cops and witnesses. It was so startling. You never expect to see such a sight when an accident slows traffic.

It broke my heart. Still does. I won’t go into too many details, but I will simply say it was bad. It stuck with me, sent me into a bit of shock. For the remainder of the evening, I couldn’t get it out of my head, and desperately searched through the news trying to find more information on what happened.

They released his name.

I found him on Facebook. This led me to his family, who hadn’t yet heard the news. Friends who were carrying on like normal. They’d released his name in the early hours of April 6th.

I continued to check his Facebook, and saw when the news of his demise spread to his family and friends. I wanted so badly to reach out and say something, but what could I say?

Nothing I could offer would make the situation better. Witnessing the travesty of the accident was a few moments for me, but will be a life time of pain for them. My heart aches for them, but I have no right to share in their grief.

I can only hope the family is able to find peace, and solice. I can only hope that the death of their friend, their son, their brother, has touched the life of a random stranger.

How did we get here tour review

Hello, everyone! I know it has been a long time since I’ve posted here, but I wanted to take this opportunity to share my thoughts on the JackSepticEye tour aptly named “How Did We Get Here”. I won’t be going into details about issues we had with the venue, or the New Orleans trip, just the show.

I bought the tickets for myself, and my daughter. She adores JackSepticEye, so I thought this would be a grand opportunity for her to see him, and have a bonding moment. Like some, however, I worried about the content of the show. Was he going to be playing video games, was he going to talk, what was in store for us? No matter, I’m a big fan, she’s a big fan, we’ll enjoy it no matter what.

I can honestly say, I was not disappointed. As the crowd began to gather in the theatre, chants began to echo through the venue. Hearing hundreds of voices coming together always gives me chills, but hearing the entire crowd shouting “PMA PMA!” was truly astounding. PMA being Positive Mental Attitude, for those who are not familiar with the YouTubers recent catch phrase.

The man himself struts upon the stage, posing for quirky pictures for a moment before asking everyone to put their phones down. Around the venue, I see all the lights slowly turn off, leaving the only lights, and focus, on the stage. “We go to these events and we struggle to remember them because we weren’t paying attention. We were too busy trying to capture the moment rather than live it.” He says as explanation. He was right, I realized, as I momentarily thoughtback to other events. I’d been too focused on taking pictures to help me remember the experience, but I didn’t experience it because of the camera.

The young man goes on to use humor to detail events of his life, beginning with his childhood all the way to present day. I won’t go into too many details regarding the show, because I do not want to spoil the experience for anyone, but let’s just say I laughed extremely hard throughout the stories. The main point the eccentric Irishman wanted to drive home to each of us was, we could accomplish anything, and overcome all obstacles. No matter who we are, or where we’re from. “With hard work, passion, and a little luck, you can make anything happen.”

What strikes me as amazing about this man is how humble he remains. He uses his platform to boost others, bring them up, rather than parading his fame around. He does not flaunt himself, but offers encouraging words to help bring an entire community together.

By the time the show was done, I wanted to hug the entire audience. I laughed, I cried, but more importantly, I walked away feeling much better about myself and my own abilities. I walked away feeling closer to a massive group of strangers. I walked away with a change in perspective about the world around me.

So, if you have any doubts about whether you should see this show, I can honestly say it is worth seeing.

What Do Emotions Feel Like…. Synesthesia Edition

Everyone associates synesthesia with this great, powerful gift that allows you extrasensory abilities. Indeed, the newest trend and a quick search on a search engine will make it seem that almost everyone has this. Artists have used it to create beautiful works of art, singers and songwriters use it as inspiration. And writers, oh, it grants them a gift of being able to describe things with almost inhuman detail. This gift has been proven harmless. With such beautiful creations springing forth, it would appear this strange and baffling thing is a superpower. 

For the most part, I’ll even agree. Until you begin to try and explain something to someone who doesn’t have it. Then life can get weird. I experience life in sound. Different types of pain have sounds to me (sharp pains are high pitch, dull pains are bass), even foods are sounds (chocolate is low pitch, bread is middle, lemons are high pitch. Anything way too sweet or salty is glass breaking high pitch, and therefore painful). 

I’ve based entire opinions of people based on the sound of their voice. Perhaps it isn’t fair, but I can’t help it. High pitch and nasally voices are painful, where lower tones are pleasant. Accents add an interesting spice to the sounds, and perhaps that’s why I love accents so much. 

If I’m not interpreting the world in sounds, then I’m experiencing texture, sometimes color. France, for example, feels like warm and makes me think of a lovely orange color, where Scotland feels like soft grass, and makes me think blue. 

Now that I’ve given you a road map of my brain, let’s make things even more interesting. What do emotions feel like, sound like, etc? Before I go completely into that, allow me to explain one other aspect. My mind is always noisy. There is always a dull static that surrounds my head. It’s like hearing snippets of conversation in a crowded food court, but drowned out by the roar of the crowd. I call these my potential thoughts. Thoughts, emotions, imaginary conversations, or memories I’ve not experienced yet, but lurk in the shadows waiting to happen. 

Happiness is a strange emotion. It feels loving, impenetrable, like I could take over the world. It sounds like a harmonious symphony, and laughter feels like waves of an ocean. It feels warm. 

Anger feels like ice and fire competing in my veins, with a darkness waiting behind whoever wins. The angrier I get, the harder these two fight. 

Sadness feels like loneliness. It feels like a television left alone in a dark room, with the channel playing nothing but snow. Loud static can be heard. 

Depression feels like this, but with the added benefit of clarity for the potential thoughts. There’s always a dark, twisting figure tat seems everywhere and nowhere, and this figure encourages these thoughts. This leads to the spiraling low, and the static becomes like knives. “Just kill yourself. It’ll save the world a lot of trouble. Everyone will be better off without having to deal with you. You’d be doing them a favor. No one actually cares, they humor you because they need something, want something, from you. As soon as you’re no longer useful, you’ll be tossed away entirely.” 

Bipolar low feels like…. I’m surrounded by hundreds of these figures, and they’re all shouting at me to just end it. Just do it. Which leads to, what I feel, is a level of bipolar psychosis. The world seems to be moving so fast around me, and I’m standing still. Or maybe it’s the other way round, and I’m spinning so fast I have the illusion of standing still. The world doesn’t include me, I’m an outside observer peeking into a window of reality. 

Thankfully I haven’t experienced that often. It is truly terrifying, to exist but not. To feel, but not. 

Stress feels sour, like sour milk. And the more stressed I feel, the more soured I feel. I even begin to think I smell sour, which increases the stress. 

Why am I writing this? Why am I telling you? To be honest, I have no idea. Maybe I just need people to know and understand the extra layer I feel beneath the emotions. Maybe I’m hoping someone will read this who can give answers, or can relate. Maybe I’m hoping my words can help a study. What happens when you combine synesthesia with a mental disorder. Chaos and beauty happen, of course. 

I hope this has been educational. I feel better now, at least.