Sunday, December 26, 2010

Die to live, die to death.

I think heroes prove that God exists.

There have been many times in my life where I was either not sure why I believed in God or just simply did not believe at all. But when the time came in my life where I was certain I wanted to find out why and mature enough to actually do it, I discovered a few things about my faith journey that made me realize I had been searching a lot longer than I thought.

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away...well actually, in our own galaxy, I was an eight-year-old being introduced to the wonderful land of Star Wars. Action, adventure, heroism...Jedi Knights and Rebels...I loved it. There was something about it that made me so excited. Made me want to BE Obi-Wan Kenobi, Luke Skywalker, Han Solo. I thought it was the action alone...just the cool fights and all that. But what do all my favorite characters in the series have in common? Obi-Wan lets himself be killed so that the young heroes can escape. Luke Skywalker refuses to turn to the dark side, and instead invites certain death at the hands of the evil Emperor, inadvertently causing his father's redemption as he saves his son's life. Han Solo forsakes a life of greed and risks his neck to give Luke the chance he needs to blow up the Death Star. All of this from a secular writer, and all of this appealing to a very wide audience. Why would we admire those who do these things if we are supposed to be eating, pooping, mating animals with no God?

Then there was Lord of the Rings. Tolkien was Catholic, however, he explicitly stated that Lord of the Rings was not an allegorical tale, but an applicable one. But yet, his belief in God leaked into his story anyway. The heroic Aragorn risks his life time after time for his friends, for his love Arwen, and for his fellow men - and towards the end of the book, he even assaults the gates of the middle-earth equivalent of Hell when he is quite certain he has no chance of surviving (though he does win, anyway). The wizard Gandalf actually DOES die to save the others, however, comes back to life to complete his task. The hobbit Frodo selflessly takes on the terrifying task of destroying the One Ring, an artifact of pure evil whose very existence threatens all good...and very nearly dies many times in this task. Does this all ring a bell?

And then there's Dragon Ball Z. Oh yes, I know many people consider it a childish kid's show with a bunch of men yelling and fighting each other. But beneath the surface of ignorance there is so much more there. The main character Goku dies and has his life restored not once, but TWICE, only to risk his life again and again afterwards, and once put his very existence on the line to save the world. He's directly responsible for the heroism or complete conversion to good of at least six other characters, who look to him as an example when they make the difficult decision to put their lives in jeopardy, sometimes for just a small chance that their friends might survive. There are so many examples of emulation of Christ slipping into this work I struggle to pick just one...Possibly the best one is when Vegeta, a character who is, for most of the series, an incredibly evil anti-hero, decides to fight for someone other than himself for the first time, at the expense of his own life - after being told by a reliable source that he would likely not receive any reward for it because of his previous selfishness. Sound familiar?

And if even in secular works we can admire those who are willing to die to save the lives of others, what sense would this make if we're supposedly just animals...what animal would die to save the life of anyone other than children or close kin? These animals - Obi-Wan, Gandalf, Vegeta - they die for their friends...and sometimes, for people they don't even know. If we have this desire for more meaning to our lives, than there must be something...someone to fulfill this desire.

All this time, I'd been searching for proof that God exists, and here it was right in front of me, all along. The characters from these shows that I admired so much, were mirroring traits of Christ's love...Christ's death on the cross...and not only that, proving that there is more to life than living.

There is a point in Dragon Ball Z where four evil android creations of a mad doctor threaten to destroy the world. One of these, Cell, is thought to be stronger than all of them, and wishes to absorb Androids 17 and 18 to make his power complete. If he succeeds, he will be unstoppable by the forces of good. However, Android 16, who is an earlier model of android, unable to be absorbed by Cell and thought to be weaker than the rest, steps in to stop Cell. The quiet Android 16, who had previously refused to do anything but follow Androids 17 and 18 around, reveals that he is just as strong as Cell and can save Android 17 from being absorbed, which is just what was about to happen. Android 16 says: "I will kill Cell. This world is a good place. Cell wishes to destroy it. I will not let that happen." Android 18 warns him: "Come back! You'll be killed!"

But the brave android replies: "That does not matter. Life is good, but living in fear is not my idea of living." And then he goes to fight...but I won't spoil what happens. :)

There was a dream that I dreamed, and that dream was that heroes lived forever.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Christmas romance.

I have always thought Christmas was the most romantic season. Even when I was a kid and didn't know what that meant.

Long long ago, I would spend hours just watching the Christmas tree glow. We had lights that you could change the settings on, so they would do different was just a soft fade-in, fade-out glowing effect. It was wonderful to watch on the Christmas tree. It struck some kind of special feeling in my child heart that I could not recognize then. It was what I now call the feeling of romance.

Looking out into the night sky, watching a sunset, seeing the snow fall. It's that kind of thing that makes you feel something special is happening...a sense of awe and splendor. I think these moments come especially easy at Christmas time. You have all of those things and more...there's just something about Christmas-time that's romantic. I can't even write about it properly, and I know I don't fully comprehend something when I can't write about it.

So I won't try, and I'll get to my point. When I got older and understood my feelings about Christmas better, I knew I would always want a Christmas romance. Meet a girl at the turn of the season, fall in love walking through the snow, kiss under the soft glow of a Christmas tree. By the grace of God I've been given this. The past few weeks have been full of the best days of my life, and it just keeps getting better. I've found someone who makes me a better and happier person just by being with me and talking with me...and every day I don't think I can possibly love them more, and every day I'm proven wrong.

I wonder if I'm sharing too much...but this is all so good that I don't want to keep it to myself. Thus it is with all good things and a generous heart, I suppose?

There was a dream that I dreamed, and that dream was that Christmas never lost its romantic touch.

Monday, December 20, 2010

A whirlwind in my head.

"It's like a whirlwind in my head...but if I concentrate, I know what people are thinking all over the world. Presidents; diplomats; scientists. I can help them understand each other."

Thus says the immortal Connor Macleod at the end of Highlander. It's a good movie, and for whatever reason, I've always really liked that line from it. Maybe it's because sometimes I, too, feel like there is a whirlwind in my head.

I am not used to my life changing so quickly.  There have been long spaces in my life where my world was relatively the same. I think the longest period may have been elementary school...I can think of only a handful of moments where anything really changed much.

Yet in the past year or so my life has taken a series of rapid changes of direction. From month to month I have been a completely different person. I've really grown up in some ways. Many ways, if I can say so without sounding too arrogant or naive.

With these changes, the people I've spent my time with and how I've spent it has changed as well. Early on, I was only desperate to spend time with anyone doing anything...later, I was looking for people to help me and listen to me. After a few months of advice and self-searching, that was flipped on its head and I desired only to share what I had learned with others as much as I could. And now, something completely different.

It makes me nervous to say something so bold and assuming, but I truly believe I've finally found the sort of friendships that last for a lifetime. This is something I've been looking for all my life, and never really knew it until God brought it to my doorstep. Last night, I spent the evening with some wonderful people sharing a meal, praying, playing a game, and talking. Not to mention sharing thoughts, feelings, and experiences with a beautiful woman. :) This is the sort of thing I want to carry with me for the rest of my life. This is what I know will help bring me to God, this community, these friendships, this relationship.

When I was younger I was bullied a lot. I never had too many friends, and in high school there were a lot of people who liked me, but very few I was close with, and none whom I prayed with on any regular basis. Any connections I built with people were usually skin-deep, the kind of friendships that center around utility - who's fun, who's not. There were moments of real friendship, I'll admit, but they were rare. With a very select few, I believe I built true friendships with, but with many of these friends I find it difficult to stay in touch with and spend time with, and none of them are God-centered friendships. For a while this continued in college, and for some time I even neglected most of my real-world friendships for friendships with people around the world I met online. Sad. But now, everything is different. I'm with people who understand me, who build me up, and who I seek to understand and build up. We shine like Christ for one another, and we love it.

I've had this experience before where I live...the experience that happens when you have God-centered friends who love one another - TRULY love. But for whatever reason it's not always lasted or been quite so strong. I have a feeling that this is different somehow. I can't really explain it, but this is different. It feels favored. I don't know how else to describe it.

It must be a God thing.

There was a dream that I dreamed, and that dream was that all friendships nurtured love like a whirlwind.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

My life in two words.

A miracle.

How can two people so right for one another find each other in the midst of millions? Not only that, but how many times along the way was I looking for something or someone else, never knowing that another hand was in the mix, turning my "missed opportunities" into "steps in the right direction"?

My girlfriend (yes, girlfriend now!) and I were watching the Notebook tonight. It is of course a great romance flick, but the whole thing isn't great - just parts of it make the movie. There is one part near the end that struck me...Allie as an old woman asks Noah "Do you think our love can create miracles?" The thing with this movie is that it always comes so close to getting true love right, and even makes it sometimes, but fails in areas like chastity or just doesn't go deep enough. So I said aloud, "I would take it one step further and say love is the source of ALL miracles." And it's true. I can't name all of the times in my life where I've asked God for something that would have caused me to miss out on what I have now.

The God who loves me knew what he was doing all along...

There was a dream that I dreamed, and that dream was that we could all recognize the miracle of our lives.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Burnt bridges, bright beyond.

I am fresh as morning dew, you are pure as falling snow.

I had the most wonderful conversation two nights ago. I finally told someone who really understands me the last little secrets I have...and she did the same. Except in reverse order.

Looking back on life, I have found that a lot of the things I never understood why I had to go through have prepared me for now. I am so happy now because of those things - if they never happened, I would not be the person I am now. I would not be prepared to face the wonderful challenge of being a mirror of Christ's love to someone I truly care for. For instance, if I had never been bullied, I never would have escaped into books and writing...and in a small part, that passion has brought love into my life.

A good friend of mine told me yesterday that Teresa of Avila, Doctor of the Church, wrote that the prayer of agony prepares you for the prayer of ecstasy. Long ago, I prayed for God to take away my pain...but instead, through the pain I was given a chance at something better. I would still be a little boy in a man's body right now, and much less happy of a person, had I not had some pretty blistering slaps to the face.

I have burnt a lot of bridges in my life. People say "Oh, don't burn any bridges, you might want to go back!" But I never want to go back. I've ended a lot of friendships, left a lot of places, and I have absolutely no regrets. Not anymore, not now that I understand. Now that I've met someone who really understands what it's like...someone who like me, wishes to leave the past behind and become reborn to new life in Christ...I am interested in her past, in my own past, but I don't want to reflect on it as a place that has anything to do with who we are now - the past is how we got to be who we are now, only. It is a prologue; a stepping stone; a way station. It is a past life somehow connected to this one. We're like children again - fresh as morning dew, pure as falling snow.

Perhaps I'm being far too naive, but I can only see a bright beyond now. There may be hard times too, but I think they'll be like a couple of thorns in a bush of roses...I'm much stronger now too, and I pray better as well. No matter what happens now, I always have hope. If 21 years of bad memories can lead to something so wonderful, even if this "something wonderful" is gone, I know God will lead me on.

There are only a few last loose ends to clear up, now, before I ask my question...

There was a dream that I dreamed, and that dream was for hope beyond all burnt bridges.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

"My sister, my bride..."

True love not only wants to sacrifice, but enjoys it.

So, I have a couple of adopted sisters who live down the road. I love these girls so much and I've only known them for a month. Fun fact: I rarely enjoy cooking...but for whatever reason, I felt really excited to make something for these girls, since they were hungry at 10 PM...what a bunch of weirdos. Well, I was hungry too, so perhaps I shouldn't talk.

Anyways, it took a while for me to figure out why I enjoyed it so much. I mean, I hate cooking for myself unless I haven't done it in a while, in which case it's only a moderately fun activity. I thought of a story a friend told me...when he was younger, his mother basically spent every waking moment of her day serving her family. My friend couldn't figure out how she could stand it...she never did anything for herself. When he got older, he realized that his mother actually ENJOYED it. She loved her family so much that all the busy work she did for them was her joy in life. How wonderful a thing to happen to me! For me to love my sisters so much that I'd enjoy doing something I hate just because I could help them in a small way!

Anyone not versed in the Song of Songs from the Bible may not recognize the title quote. It's part of a statement made by the bridegroom in of erotic love the middle of the Bible...yes I'm serious. Anyway, he says something about how beautiful his bride is and then calls her his sister...And if you don't think too deeply into it, you're likely to say something to the effect of..."WHAT?" Don't worry, she's not ACTUALLY his sister.

But think about it. If a man truly loves a woman chastely, he treats her like a sister FIRST. A brother is fiercely protective of his sister...he would do almost anything for her, and he certainly doesn't think of taking advantage of her womanhood. If only we men were all like the bridegroom! Thinking of potential lovers as sisters first, and only later as brides! Well...obviously tonight I have in some way shown my love as a brother...what a beautiful start! ;-)

There was a dream that I dreamed, and that dream was that the human family would all be united in true love.

Friday, December 10, 2010

A splitting discovery.

Who ever thought a split-open chin could lead to anything wonderful?

I sure didn't. Last night I fell because of a big patch of black ice and faceplanted, getting my nose and cheek scraped, and my chin totally split open. It didn't hurt that bad, but I felt like my night was ruined. What would I say to the guest I brought to a party? "Sorry, you'll have to have someone take you back to your apartment...I need to go to the hospital. I hope I'll see you tomorrow" is what I thought I was going to have to say. I didn't need to say anything at all though...she went to the hospital with me. There wasn't any other place she wanted to be. She tried to be modest, perhaps she even genuinely didn't think it was a big deal, but I was touched. She chose to spend over an hour in the hospital talking to me than to go be with her other friends. It meant a lot...the cut didn't make me cry, but that sure did.

I find that even though things are going well I still get nervous a lot. It's hard for me to really believe that anyone could like me as more than a's something that I'm still trying to get rid of. Little things make me nervous, such as silence after I say something bold about how I feel, or if I find that instead of talking I'm just smiling and staring like a big creep. But...there is a special someone who always seems to take that away from me, at least for a little while. She's probably reading this right now, so I will just say, thank you. :)

There was a dream that I dreamed, and that dream was that love could set all hearts at peace.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Dreams have come to life.

"...Sam lay back, and stared with open mouth, and for a moment, between bewilderment and great joy, he could not answer. At last he gasped: 'Gandalf! I thought you were dead! But then I thought I was dead myself. Is everything sad going to come untrue? What's happened to the world?'"

This, my friends, is how I feel, and I'm posting late at night so I can put it down before I forget exactly what I wanted to say.

Life nowadays is like a waking dream. I keep wondering when I'm going to wake up and the dream just keeps going on. It's as if I decided what I'd like my life to be like and it just came true. Why did God choose to bless me this way? I may never know. What I do know is that all the pain I've experienced in life has led me to this point...I've never appreciated pain so much in my life. It has brought me here to this land of dreams.

I've never been called perfect before in my life, nor has anyone ever said they were excited to do something as simple as getting coffee with me, but I've now heard both, and more yet, in one night. It was so cold out, but walking with the wonderful woman who said that to me...I felt warm. I think I'd still be out there walking with her now if it weren't for the fact that if I weren't going to bed soon, I probably wouldn't wake up for morning prayer.

I find it funny in a wonderful sort of way that she and I were thinking the same things about each other these past few weeks: Why would someone so wonderful like me? They probably don't...All without knowing the other thought the same thing. How close we were to missing something beautiful.

There was a dream that I dreamed, and that dream is becoming real.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Pure as Snow.

I keep wondering when I'm going to wake up from this wonderful dream, but it keeps going on...

Excuse me for not posting in a while. I do have MUCH to say but I've been without a computer for a while.

So, last Tuesday I was a wreck. I thought I had somehow blown my chances with a very interesting young lady, and I was also very mad at a former friend. I pretty much blew my head off at them and in the most wrathful way possible told them what problems I had with them. It was bad.

Wednesday things were better. I was still nervous and I couldn't get to confession that day. But suddenly, on Thursday, things changed. I prayed to God, asking what I should do. He told me that I should stop being afraid. "Raise me as your shield, and I will give you a life without fear" came to mind. I swear I've never heard that before, so I post it here as word from God Himself! And I took His advice...I had confession, and that night, even though I was still afraid of rejection, I asked a girl friend of mine if she would like to "friendship date" for a while and pray about a relationship. She said yes! Things are going so well, and we're closer than ever.

Snow has begun to fall where I live. It's beautiful to watch...I don't think there is anything physically more pure than falling snow. Icy cold, pure water, fluttering in the wind, untouched. It is water that is purified by evaporation, and once more has the chance to not be mixed with dirt or be drank...

...I was given a confession of sorts recently. It was something I needed to know, but this person was so nervous about what I thought. It makes me think of the snow. It has a chance again to be crystal clear water. Who you are now matters much more than who you once were. I like your past, but I don't want to live there. Run away, my friend. Take my hand, and along with me, be pure as snow...

There was a dream that I dreamed, and that dream was that we would all become pure as snow...

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Trust issues, and the best of the best!

By human standards it would be reasonable to expect me to doubt the world around me.

I suppose I have to talk about my life a bit here. The one person in my family I was closest to died a little over 5 years ago (my mother) and many of the people I've been closest to since then have been more than a little misleading...many of them romantic interests which I've come to realize that it was a blessing things didn't work out.

Regardless, I find it hard to trust God sometimes, even when he's working wonderful things into my life. Sometimes, especially where friendships are concerned, I find it easy to panic just because of a small thing. The tiniest change in behavior for the worst in someone, even something so little as being a tad quieter than normal, can make me nervous. Even one little text message that doesn't receive a response can set me on edge. Did I say something wrong? Did they read it? Did I bother them? I've let the people who have been untrustworthy in my life ruin my trust for God, which is not acceptable...and I think now that I've realized it, I can end it. That's a promise, God!

We all have some growing up to do. I hope it doesn't sound judgmental for me to say some people have a little more growing up to do than others. I'm really bothered by the actions of people around me sometimes. There is a particular person I know who I once had a great deal of admiration for who I no longer have almost any at all. This person has/had the potential to become a beautiful person but now treats me, at least, with a great deal of disrespect. I will always love this particular person, but I no longer like them, and probably never will again.

On a nice note, though, I think the reason I have such low tolerance for their new attitude is because I have met, only a few weeks ago, a group of people whom I have quickly grown to love and admire. They are, quite simply, some of the best people I've ever met! I'm not exactly sure why things have happened the way they have, but I'm glad. So glad. This is all God's doing...everything good is, but in this case it's remarkably apparent. I have no words for how much I love them!

There was a dream that I dreamed, and that dream was that trust given was trust kept.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Why, God...WHY??

Why are you so good to me? :)

To think that only a few weeks ago I was practically wishing for death, and now everything is turning around. And I really don't deserve much. In fact, if you, the reader, knew everything about me, you might say that God has very good reasons to punish me.

But that's not the way God works. Consistently throughout my life, He has worked to bring me back towards Him. He has, time and time again, turned my blunders into blessings. I'm completely in awe at how everything has worked out.

I guess that's really all I have to say today. :)

There was a dream that I dreamed, and that dream was that all could see the wonderful mercy and love of God.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


I am fascinated by silence.

Most of my day today has been filled with silence. My social plans fell through, and so I ended up spending a lot of time alone with a book...I went on a long walk. I even went into church and hung out with Jesus for a while (I intended to go to mass, but it turns out they had adoration and moved it to 7).

Silence often speaks louder than noise, and gets the point across better. When you don't have the distraction of things on the outside whistling for your attention, you can better hear your voice on the inside. You can more easily reflect, stop and think. God finds it easier to talk to you, too.

I'm even more fascinated by silence when it comes to the way people interact. The things we are unwilling to say to one another...the one "secret" that everyone knows but will not discuss. Silence really does speak loudly.

I found out today that most people are oblivious to the observations I make of other people. Sometimes I can tell how people feel about me, or other people, just in the way they walk, the way they look at what's around them, the way they position themselves, their expressions, what they say and how they say it. Sometimes I'll move people like chess pieces into entering a situation or conversation where they will unconsciously reveal something they're thinking, all without them ever knowing it. It's not an exact science, but it works most of the time. Am I manipulative or just clever? Or perhaps you think I'm bullshitting you. I'm not out to convince anyone of anything, so make your choice any way you like!

This sort of thing has come into play in my life recently. I have a group of friends who I am sure all know what I know, but none of us are willing to say anything about it. It truly is for the best, since it just wouldn't be prudent to talk about it at this point, but it still fascinates me how we all hint to each other our knowledge but never quite openly speak about it. It makes me literally giggle sometimes!

There was a dream that I dreamed, and that dream was that silence was given its proper respect.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A life of irony.

Everything seems so far away in the middle of the night.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not talking about staying up late with friends or something like that. I'm talking about times like last night, where I got up in the middle of the night to do my scheduled holy hour. My church does a 23-hour adoration where people can sign up to take slots so that there are always at least two people with Jesus. Silly me, I signed up for the 3 AM slot. But there's something about it that's so strange. It's like a waking dream, where it's just you and your thoughts, and everything else...anxieties, plans, the future, the past...they all seem so far away. Then when you go back to sleep and wake up in the morning, everything is back to normal. Even though you were awake only a few hours before for a whole hour, it seems like it was ages a dream you had last week.

It's times like those, where everything is just like a dream, that I can really reflect. My reflections lately have come to the conclusion that my life is a giant string of ironies.

Sometimes I feel like I'm caught in a loop. Things in my life seem to happen over and over again, except slightly different, and sometimes at the same time of year. The funny thing about November is that ever since college started, and perhaps longer, it has been the month that some girl or other burned me. Or broke my heart, if you want to be melodramatic about it. So far though, it hasn't happened this month...well, at least not like it usually happens.

Even more ironic, though, is the fact that this time just a year ago, one of those heartbreaks transformed my life. It was the wake-up call I needed to begin pursuing a God-centered life decide what I want from life, how I'm going to get it, and who is going to come with me. Now, the theme repeats itself. I am deciding almost the very same things right fact, I may have already made my choice. Yet the choices are different...much more exciting. God has a sense of humor, in that the decisions I'm making now are the evolutions of the decisions I made a year ago. Instead of deciding how I'm going to follow Christ, I'm deciding what vocation I could BEST serve Christ in. Instead of deciding how I'm going to cope with the sadness I felt, I'm deciding how I'm going to channel the joy I feel. And instead of deciding what friends I'm going to take with me through my life, I'm deciding...well, I'll keep that a secret for now. :)

It just goes to show God has a sense of humor.

There was a dream that I dreamed, and that dream was that we could always be open to God's call.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Completely at ease.

"Strange...I should feel terrified. But I feel so calm..."

Allow me to go nerd mode for a moment, but I feel like I can apply something from Dragon Ball Z to this blog post. The previous quote is a paraphrase of something the main protagonist from the show, Goku, says before he faces hand-to-hand combat with the then-most-powerful villain in the universe, Frieza, a being as impossibly powerful as he is impossibly evil and ruthless.

Goku is the Christ-like figure of Dragon Ball Z in that even though he is incredibly strong he is humble and never thinks of himself: even when faced with death many times before in the series, he thinks only of how he can save others.

However, even though Goku is shown to be incredibly courageous, the new villain of the show, Frieza, has even the arrogant and foolishly confident character Vegeta losing his will to fight. The bold Vegeta dies in tears. Obviously the author of the story is trying to make the point that Frieza is an entirely different challenge than has been in the show. So when Goku realizes he is the last hope for his friends, and that he will soon face Frieza in a fight to the death, his usual attitude of brave hope is already established as an unlikely reaction for him, even though it would be in character. At this point, those watching expect Goku to be terrified. Yet Goku, standing in the open air before flying off to face the villain, just calmly feels the wind on his face. He feels at ease.

But why? We, the viewer, do not yet know. Not until later, when Goku is revealed to be a legendary warrior called the Super Saiyan, who, when of a calm and pure nature, is suddenly faced with extreme anger and indignation (in Goku's case, witnessing the cruel death of his best friend) transforms into a being far more powerful than Frieza. It turns out that the strength he needed to overcome his enemy was inside him all along. Subconsciously, somehow, he knew he could defeat Frieza, which explains his inner peace, but outside he felt he should be terrified.

His rational mind did not understand what his heart new all along.

And I thank you for allowing for the long diversion I needed to make my point. This is where I feel like I am at. What is going on in my life right now are things that both excite me and make me terrified...some of them overt, some of them covert, and none that I'm going to mention in this blog post, since anyone can read it. I apologize for the cryptic nature, but it's not necessary for me to mention what's going on to explain my feelings, which is the purpose of this blog anyway.

So, with what I'm going through right now, I think I should be terrified, or at least nervous. But in my heart, I feel completely at ease. Right now I don't know why. But I'm waiting...waiting for when I can find out what the "Super Saiyan transformation" of my life will be...

There was a dream that I dreamed, and that dream was that the rational mind would understand what the heart knows.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Empathy, and other tales...

I can tell when someone's upset.

It doesn't have to be very obvious...once you've experienced enough of misery, you know what it looks like. Last night, there were quite a few upset people around me. I wanted to comfort all of them, that's just the way I am, but the most I could do was make one of them smile and laugh a little. It felt really good to do that...I'm still not sure what they were upset about, or if they knew that I knew they were upset (I never gave a reason for my sudden attention) but having that empathy and trying to cheer them up was awesome.

Also, I think my week long happy-spree might be over. That might be the reason I've not posted that much lately...I was just feeling too good to sit down and write properly. But since last night I feel like I've been shifting back into my usual mode of melancholy. But the difference this time is that I'm prepared. :) Now that I've recognized that these mood swings are not rational as I have previously thought, that they are merely an illusion, I can do something about it. I can ignore it...not let it rule me. I can act happy even though I don't really feel all that happy, and who knows? Maybe there will be a fake-it-'til-you-make-it effect: If I just act like I'm happy, eventually I will be!

In that case, I can't wait to be happy again...

There was a dream that I dreamed, and that dream was that joy would be more contagious...

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The true nature of depression...

I have decided to treat sadness as an illusion on the other side of happiness.

Regardless of whether or not I'm bipolar as I think I may very well be, it was very easy for me to learn that the main difference between myself when I'm happy and myself when I'm sad is perspective.

When I was sad, I could only see the negative in my life. I totally ignored the things that made me happy, or could make me happy. However, without any aspect of my life changing at all, I can become very happy by simply focusing on even the smallest sources of happiness in my day. It's not easy, but it's possible! I prove it to myself every time I have a mood swing.

So, if my mood is merely a reflection of whatever is on my mind, I can control my mood by intentionally blinding myself to my problems. I can break the illusion of sadness by adjusting the mirrors, so to speak!

A note of importance: This is easier said than done. I'm not yet sure whether I will be able to do this with any sure success...but it's definitely worth trying. I will probably mention this again someday.

There was a dream that I dreamed, and that dream was that the illusion of sadness would be broken for good.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Bipolar? And other questions...

So, I think I'm bipolar.

I have proof. How many people do you know go from in tears all day one day and the next, feel completely fine? Every time I go through these phases of depression and happiness I notice something: I can't understand why I was in the other state.

When I'm depressed, I am completely convince that I have no reason to be happy. My mind is completely focused on misery, and I can't feel happy. When people are nice to me, I don't know how to respond. I can't motivate myself to do anything. I am convinced I'm worthless.

When I'm happy, like I am now, I can't understand why I was ever down. The problems I was upset about seem a dream, or like it was long ago, or happening to someone else. I love everyone. I find joy in the tiniest of things...I have a good self-esteem, I feel invincible.

It's like I'm two separate people. I don't get it.

I also think I might be done discerning the priesthood. I'm not 100% sure yet, but for a while I've been rolling the question around in my head...since last summer, actually. What is God calling me to? Marriage or Priesthood? Or something else? Well, the original reason for discerning wasn't a really good one, in my opinion. The sheer multitude of rejections by women I liked made me feel like it could be a clear message that I'm not supposed to be married - since there are really no coincidences.

Now I feel different. I have felt for a long time a great desire to give of myself to a woman, for life. That's not really a priest thing...and it's not going away, even in the face of prayers about being a priest and the continued "bad luck" with women. I think the whole women issue might be a nice post for another time, though.

The other question I'm faced with (throughout the day, in prayer, etc.) is what I'm doing after I graduate from college. I'm an English major with a Journalism minor. There is a possibility I can get a job, but I feel called to stay where I am. Work for my church as a minister. Since I wasted so much of my college life on stupid things, I feel like it would be poetic justice for me to stay here for the same amount of time I wasted: doing it right this time. But that's also a long story for another entry.

There was a dream that I dreamed, and that dream was that there could be balance and certainty.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

"Nobody said it was easy..."

"Come up to meet you, tell you I'm sorry, you don't know how lovely you are..."

I think God made all people equally beautiful, but some people he made it more easy to see...There is nothing that makes me want to love myself more than when I see someone else needs my love, especially when I know how beautiful and special that person is.

Last weekend it was easy to love myself because I was loving a friend of mine. I've only met this person twice now, but we've kept up a nice phone/internet/mail correspondence for a long time now. My friend is a beautiful and amazing person, and I'm so lucky to know her, but sometimes she doesn't see what I see. Hope seems hard for her to hold onto because of how others have treated her. Between having fun doing things like shopping (cool shopping, like books and petting dogs and cats at Petsmart, not lame shopping like going to try on clothes) and watching movies, I told her how I saw her and her place in the world. It made me cry at one point because I don't think she believed me when I told her how she was destined for happiness.

During my drive back home today, I was touched by the song "The Scientist" by Coldplay. It put into words a lot of the feelings I was re-experiencing because of last weekend. I find so many people, especially women, who don't seem to understand how beautiful they are. Their beauty isn't a physical thing, it shines out from the inside, from their goodness, what makes them unique in the tapestry of life. But it's usually not prudent for me to share my feelings with the women I know. They would take it as a come I'm forced to just paste the song here and hope they find it:

Come up to meet you, tell you I'm sorry
You don't know how lovely you are

I had to find you

Tell you I need you
Tell you I've set you apart

Tell me your secrets

And ask me your questions
Oh, let's go back to the start

Running in circles

Coming up tails
Heads on the science apart

Nobody said it was easy

It's such a shame for us to part
Nobody said it was easy
No one ever said it would be this hard

Oh take me back to the start

I was just guessing

At numbers and figures
Pulling the puzzles apart

Questions of science

Science and progress
Do not speak as loud as my heart

Oh tell me you love me

Come back and haunt me
Oh and I rush to the start

Running in circles

Chasing our tails
Coming back as we are

Nobody said it was easy

Oh, it's such a shame for us to part
Nobody said it was easy
No one ever said it would be so hard

I’m going back to the start...

 There was a dream that I dreamed, and that dream was that you knew how lovely you are.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The torture of humility...

O Jesus, meek and humble of heart, hear me.

That's the first line of the Litany of Humility, which I've begun to pray daily. It's basically a list of desires and fears that you pray Jesus takes from you to help you be humble. It's torture. Every time I pray it I realize how much I want and fear all of those things, especially these three:
  1. "From the desire of being loved, deliver me Jesus.
  2. "From the fear of being forgotten, deliver me Jesus.
  3. "That others may be loved more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
The reason I've begun to pray this prayer is because my pride has gotten to the point where it hurts me emotionally, constantly. It hurts a lot to always wish people loved me, or loved me as much as they say they do. It hurts to be left out and forgotten. It hurts that others are loved more than I am. If I was just humble, I would almost always be happy. I'm sure of it.

Every time I get on Facebook I see exactly what I fear the most every time. Because of my feelings of isolation, I am addicted to feeling the connection I get over Facebook, but at the same time Facebook feeds my isolation by forcing me to see pictures of friends hanging out together without me, and sending messages to each other about how much they miss each other and want to hang out, while I'm simply forgotten.

If I were only humble, none of this would bother me. So even though it hurts, I HAVE to try. I've never felt the need for God's help so strongly.

There was a dream that I dreamed, and that dream was that I would never be bothered by pride.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

On love and honesty.

Have you told someone you love them today?

I love to tell people that I love them. Especially because it's true. I love a lot of people, and I'm not afraid to say it to their face. Often times though, the response I get is a look of confusion and words that basically mean "This is awkward, where did this come from?" And then I feel pressured to agree and pretend it was said in humor.

This, I believe, is a tragedy. Why? Allow me to answer with a story. I believe my mother died without truly knowing how much I love her. I allowed this to happen because saying "I love you" regularly and in such ways as to truly express how much I meant it never crossed my mind. This is a frequent source of guilt for me. Don't let it happen to you! People you know today may very well be gone tomorrow. I knew my Mom was dying for months and I didn't do anything. Don't make my mistake.

How many people do you know and love who have no idea or might need reminding from time to time how much you care that they are in your life? Don't be afraid to say so. It might mean more to them hearing it, than it means for you to say it.

Being a college student living with college students, I'm prone to hearing a lot of excuses. I am not innocent of this, but I feel as though I'm more aware of it than others. People say that they don't have time to do or say something that might take them less than a minute and have a great impact beyond themselves. Such as telling someone they love them, even if they have been too busy to spend time with them. Don't just pass by a friend's door if you have been very busy...maybe they'd like to know the reason you don't talk to them anymore is because you're busy, and not because you don't care about them anymore. To some this might seem like a silly assumption but it's a reality...people can feel that way.

That being said, make sure that you mean the things you say to people. If you tell someone you trust them and feel like you both could talk about anything, don't stop talking to them for no reason. You will have made yourself a liar. If you tell someone you like spending time with them, don't stop spending time with them for no reason. You will have hyped up your relationship with them, only to disappoint them.

There was a dream that I dreamed, and that dream was that we were all open and honest about our feelings.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

On determination, and November.

Boy, when I actually feel good, I feel it.

Through a complicated series of events, I've been launched into this strange state I find myself in from time to time where I have neither solved, nor forgotten my problems and anxieties, but found the strength to overlook them temporarily.

I'd rather not bog down my writing with the details, but suffice it to say it's the stuff that usually makes me feel good: spending time talking and laughing with fun and loving people, sharing things, and feeling truly welcome. Granted, most of it was due to circumstances that were forced upon us all, but I'm trying to ignore that minor detail.

So, whenever I feel good like I do now, I am always filled with a sense of determination that it should continue that way, and that I have the chance to make my life better. Things don't seem so hopeless: I feel fun and attractive to women, rather than a "bottom of the barrel" sort of guy I usually feel like...Rather than feeling like people have lost touch with me because they don't care about me anymore, I feel like "it's their loss." My sense of humor improves, my self-control improves, my work ethic improves, and my mood improves most of all. It's an all-around welcome change.

However, I'm worried that this might wear off again soon. It usually does, sometimes very quickly. And it always makes those disappointments seem so much worse. After all, when you expect disappointment and failure it hurts a lot less than when you are so sure things are taking a turn for the better and you turn out completely wrong.

Now that it is November, I feel especially susceptible to this sort of thing. Most of the biggest hurts in my life have happened to me in November. I'm not entirely sure why, and I don't mean to be superstitious, but I see a clear pattern. I hate being so cynical, but that I am feeling alright, if I'm not careful I'll start asking myself "So, I feel good, which usually means something awful is about to happen. It's also November, the month where the worst things always happen. What's it going to be this time?"

But this determination...I don't even know what to do with it. It makes me want to go run outside and save the world. But the things that bother me in life are all the things out of my control. Determination has little to do with it all. I'll just have to enjoy the feeling while it's here.

There was a dream that I dreamed, and that dream was that determination would always bring results.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Something about people.

I really like people.

Really, I do. But I can't help feeling that much of the time people have let me down. What I mean is, as much as I reach out to people in friendship, and attempt to be someone reliable when things get rough, it is seldom that I get the same in return...and never for the reason I would hope for.

Living in a community of people who are both God-centered and compassionate, I can understand why people might feel like I am either lying, not paying attention, or am expecting too much. But it's a lot different than that.

There are four reasons why people care about another person:
  1. They want something out of the other person.
  2. They feel like they should.
  3. It's their job.
  4. They want to.
In my experience, a lot of what's going on is numbers two and three in the list. And while some help is better than none at all, I need someone who cares about me because they want to. Not because they feel morally obligated to or because that's just what they do as a missionary or minister.

Let me back up before I get too ahead of myself. I kinda got the short end of the stick when it comes to moral support. My Dad is about as sensitive as a rock and only ever calls to make sure I'm doing things right. My sister is too busy to care much about my life. My little brother despises me. My Mom is dead. My relatives live too far away. All of the "best friends" I had in high school seem to give not much of a shit about me anymore, since my attempts at keeping in touch and hanging out once in a while are met with what I can only describe as apathy.

Around here, if you know where I live, you would think things might be a little different. And it is, somewhat. There are plenty of people around here whom I could vent my frustrations to, and spend time with. But, you must understand, I realize this is only a temporary thing. These people are around here now, but will be gone from my life before long. When I seek them now, they answer, if they have time. But before long, they'll be gone, and because they help me not because of number four on the list above but because of number two or three, I know that our friendship will become little more than a "We'll keep in touch" sort of arrangement. No guarantees on that, even.

It seems when I am most happy in life, I have someone whom I strongly believe cares about me because they want to. Yet, time after time, I'm proven wrong. They forget about me. Or I find out they never really meant a lot of the nice things they said about me, or about our friendship. It's a disappointment I've come to count on.

And yet, I'm held to blame. I expect too much from people, they say. I should rely more on God, they say. Easier said than done. Is it wrong of me to expect at least one of the couple dozen people I invited to a lunch/dinner chat to invite me in return? Is it wrong of me to be upset when people forget about me? What about forgetting twice? If I was a ninja, I would expect to be forgotten, but this is ridiculous!

There was a dream that I dreamed, and that dream was that someday I would have someone who loved me as much as I loved them.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

How this began, and the meaning of "There Was a Dream"

A long time ago, there was a blog that no one read. That blog belonged to a younger me with an entirely different but related life. Long story short, lack of readership meant lack of motivation, and that blog is lost even to me now.

Regardless, I still love to write, but most of my writing is poetry that has been shared to some extent, but a lot of the best pieces I've shown to only a few, or no one at all. Blogs, however, have been something I always wanted to return to, but couldn't bring myself to try it. Why? Quite simply, I felt I already had one. Every once in a while, I'd write a note on Facebook. That was my blog, and it was yet another blog that went relatively unread.

However, I wasn't entirely honest with myself. Most of my thoughts that I could write a page or two on (and possibly make into a Facebook note) stay in my head and then are forgotten before I write them down. Not only that, but I wasn't giving myself much of a chance. It's true that my writings might not become the choice of read for millions, but it might become the choice of read for a few. And that's worth writing for.

After all, the only 100% chance that my blog is a failure is if I never write one.

That being said, I suppose I should mention that a friend of mine did tell me I should write a blog. I haven't a clue why. She's read some of my poetry, so I'm not sure why she thinks that my prose will be any better (just kidding, my poetry rules). But she did mention that she has one and people comment on it. She thinks her writings are boring too, and even though I disagree, it IS something we have in common about blogging. So that's an encouraging thought.

One last thing - I'm sure people are wondering about this blog title. Sounds a bit dramatic, like I'm some kind of pretentious emotional mess. Well that's true that I'm an emotional mess, but I'm not pretentious and I can explain the title better than that. There Was a Dream ultimately comes from the line "There was a dream that was shall be realized" from the movie, Gladiator. The line is said as Maximus (spoiler alert), the general turned gladiator, after successfully killing the tyrant emperor who ruined his life, reinstates the republic, the DREAM that was Rome, and then dies.

The line has served as some inspiration to me. Maximus is a man who was "the greatest general Rome ever had" but yet, only desired to return to his family and his farm. Yet, the Emperor wished for Maximus to succeed him, because Maximus' humble intentions were the means by which the republic could be restored to Rome. Before Maximus could be named his successor, however, the Emperor's son kills the Emperor and becomes the new emperor by default. Maximus is ordered to be killed, but escapes, finds his wife and son dead, and is sold into slavery as a gladiator.

Yet, even while death seems such an easy escape, Maximus perseveres to not only become an incredible gladiator and leader to the men around him, but using the influence of the crowd manages to become more powerful than the emperor himself, goading him into a fight and killing him even while he himself is mortally wounded because of the tyrant emperor's tricks. With his dying breath he fulfills his promise to the deceased emperor: "There was a dream that was shall be realized."

Everything he loved was taken from him, but yet he continued to live to fulfill a promise, and a dream. I sympathize.