What We Are Here For

At some point in our lives, we question why we are here.  Are we here specifically to worship a god?  Are we here to just procreate and keep our species going?  Is there even a reason we exist?  I know I am not the only one who has asked these questions.  Here is a question: Does it even matter?  We all have our own religious beliefs.  Yes, atheism is actually a religious belief.  I hate it when people try and push their religion on me, so I do not press mine on them.  I just live my life how I think I should (with a bunch of added shit I know I shouldn’t).

I have a challenge, but first, there has to be some back story.  In today’s world, especially with the younger generation, people are only worried how everything affects them.  We get into pointless arguments with people who hold no value in truth.  They only value their thoughts and beliefs, and if we hold some other view, we are condemned.  Instead of trying to empathize with the other person or figure out why they think the way they do, these people lash out and attack.  Why?  In a society where everyone gets a trophy, people are not being taught there are other solutions to problems.  If we don’t like someone, it is always their fault (think about politics).  The challenge for us is to change that.

Change starts with ourselves.  We cannot change other people, but during our interactions with people, we can, perhaps, open their eyes to a new way of thinking.  Throughout The Event series, Evan Willcox brought new ways of thinking to alien societies.  As is in the real world, it is often met with fierce resistance.  He always tries to do what he thinks is best, but it never ends up like he thinks it should.  Something unexpectedly bad always happens.  Why?  He fails to see the bigger picture.

So, why are we here?  People think they know, but really, no one can be sure until we die.  In the meantime, we should be the best version of ourselves that we can be.  Yes, we will make mistakes, but we must learn from those mistakes.  I will tell you that I will be here to expand my boys’ horizons, and make them think outside the box.  They should ask why all the time.  I will also be here to try and make people’s lives around me better.  I might not be the best person in the world (far from it, actually), but I will do what I can to help those around me in their time of need.  Perhaps, that is while we are here.  Acquisition of material things at the expense of our friends and family is pointless.  We cannot take it with us, but we can lose everyone that we care about in the process.  Let’s quit worrying about why others are wrong and worry more on improving ourselves and helping the people close to us.

Inspiration

I do not think of myself as an artist.  I am not very fond of the stereotype that is an artist.  I suck at drawing, but I have written songs and books, so I guess my paintbrush is a pen or a keyboard.  In any case, good ideas are hard to come by and even more difficult to implement.  In my case, I created a world that my stories live in.  Once that moment of inspiration has left, it can be very difficult to get the idea into a solid form that makes any sense.  I guess that is why they call it writer’s block.

But just as things seem to go nowhere, inspiration can strike in the most unlikely of places.  These inspirations can cause the story to go into a completely new direction.  It could be good or bad, change can work in the favor of the story.  I have had many strikes of inspiration lately.  Some of the inspiration has come from positive events while others have come from negative events.  Either way, my story, both in books and real life, becomes stronger.  What I thought might happen doesn’t.  Where my life goes, like my story, is still up in the air.

Walls

We take walls for granted.  Wall separate the area you sleep in from the area you shit in.  Walls were erected throughout history to keep foreign invaders out of a kingdom.  Walls make sense.  We also build up metaphorical walls around us so we do not get hurt.  Often after a painful event, we build walls around us to keep us safe.  Even though these walls make sense, are they good?  We all do it.  It could be from a nasty breakup, the death of a family member, a tragic event, or a friend’s betrayal.  We don’t want to get hurt again.

While walls might stabilize our present state of mind so we can deal with our own emotions, they are detrimental to our development.  Just as we cannot grow if we stay within our walls, neither can we let people in.  We have all been hurt by someone, and while we say we want to let people in, our actions contradict that.  This isn’t to say we shouldn’t have walls, but we need to know when to tear them down.

I have been following my character’s (Evan Willcox) approach, and it has not been helping.  I followed the approach because it is me.  It is how I would have reacted to the underlying situations in the books.  Sometimes it takes an unbiased outsider to make you see your mistakes, to tell you that you’re doing it wrong, to think.  I have built walls that have been standing for years.  I built walls so high that I could no longer feel.  I did not want to feel.  Unfortunately, it has been unfair to my family, friends, and those who have tried getting close to me in the past.

How long have these walls been standing?  After a lot of reflection (and still more to go), close to twelve years.  Not knowing whether my youngest son would survive for nearly two years takes its toll.  I thought I had to be the unwavering rock the family needed to survive.  I could not show weakness.  I buried my emotions deep in the dungeons of my soul and built the strongest walls I could.  Unfortunately, I took care of those walls for too long.  Every time someone knocked some bricks loose in my wall, I would repair it and add another layer.  This practice is self destructive.  Over the last twelve years, I have grown, but I have been confined by my walls.  I can no longer do that.  I do not want to end up like Evan Willcox in my books.  It is weird how a sci-fi action/adventure book can be a prophecy of what is to come even though I had no idea at the time.  What is even more surprising is that in this fourth book, Evan Willcox either self destructs or tears down his walls.  I guess I wanted to tear down my own personal walls, but I had forgotten they existed.  I wrote about it without knowing why I wrote about it.  I believe everything in life can teach us many lessons.  We just have to have our eyes open enough to see them and our minds open to accept them.

Responsibility and Others

I read an article that a robbery suspect might be suing the good Samaritan who subdued him during a robbery for “excessive force.”  Excuse me?  The guy tried to rob a Starbucks with a knife, and when a hero tried stopping him, the hero was stabbed in the neck before stabbing the suspect a couple of times with his own knife.  Son, if you did this in Ohio instead of California, I would have just shot your ass.  Technically speaking, I would have drawn my legally concealed firearm and held you there until police came or you can running after me.  At that point I would have shot your ass.  Well, if Starbucks didn’t allow conceal carry, I wouldn’t be doing business there, so I guess they can feel free to rob Starbucks.

ANYWAYS… I guess I should get to my point.  Responsibility.  TV shows and movies portray a myth that if you take responsibility and accept what you have done, you will sleep better.  That is not the case.  Look, I can understand the desire to not be blamed for bad shit that we cause.  I really do.  I have done some shit in my life that I did not want to take responsibility for, but I did.  As much as it sucked, I did.  Mistakes from my past still haunt me to this day, not because I haven’t accepted it or taken responsibility, but because they were stupid mistakes I should have never made.  I am embarrassed by some of my mistakes.  I can still feel the consequences of these mistakes.  Having asked both God and those affected for forgiveness does not wipe out my guilt.  Some say that beating yourself up and reliving the sin is a sin in itself.  The pain of the mistakes will fade over time until it comes back at 2:00 AM and hits you in the face like a shovel, waking you up with the feelings of panic and dread.

These pains and struggles follow Evan Willcox in The Event series.  (Yay!  I actually tied something back to the books!)  The character of Evan Willcox is based off me.  I have made a considerable amount of mistakes since I began writing the series, but the torment I feel over some of these mistakes are shown throughout the books.  One of my goals in writing is to show people that they are not alone with their struggles.  We all have our demons, and we all have our crosses that we must bear.  I do not lay my soul out for everyone one to see because I am brave (because I am not).  I do it in the hopes that one day, I can help at least one person realize that even though life is hard, and we make the dumbest of mistakes, life is still worth living.  I do not want pity, nor do I want others to take pity on the people struggling.  I want those who are stronger to lend a hand to those who are currently weak, for people to think about the welfare of someone else instead of their own–for us to act like compassionate human beings once again.

Simple Pleasures

Time is limited.  We all know this.  We all wish we had more time.  Time to sleep.  Time to play.  Time to get shit done at work.  Then, there are those moments that we never want to end.  We want time to stop, cherishing a moment forever.  Those are rare.  There is nothing like feeling the calmness of someone you care about sleeping on your chest, feeling them breathe, maybe even hearing them snore a little.  There is no safer feeling than being wrapped up by that person’s arms.

There is so much bullshit in this world that it is easy to get caught up in the drama.  Society makes it difficult to make it through life.  We make it, but we are not unscathed.  We carry the cuts and bruises of life.  Stress can literally kill a person.  Even though we wish for more time, we will not get it.  We have to prioritize.  We usually suck at that.  We do dumb shit like watch TV instead of doing dishes.  Then, when we run out of clean dishes, we panic because we have to get the kids to soccer and football practices, and we do not have the time.  We then say we do not have enough time to relax.

We need downtime though.  I enjoy writing and exploring back roads.  Yesterday, I drove down to Parkersburg, WV taking old state and county roads instead of the interstate.  It was a relaxing trip.  I took my time.  I enjoyed some scenery.  Instead of mindlessly watching some worthless TV show, it was good to get out and enjoy something real.  I am learning to stop and cherish these simple pleasures in life.  In thirty years, I will never remember what happened on Game of Thrones, but I will look back about how peaceful it was traveling on State Route 821 through the southeastern part of Ohio and how someone felt in my arms.  Those are the memories I want to look back on during my last days on Earth.

Did I Make You Cry?

I am sorry.  Did something I say make you cry?  Why?  Why do you need to cry over something I said?  I didn’t hit you, stab you in the kidney, or fuck your mom.  Are you that big a sissy-ass?  Growing up, I was picked on, teased, and made fun of.  It toughened me up.  It made me learn that people’s opinions of me didn’t matter as long as I did what was right.  You cannot always do what is right and popular at the same time.  It doesn’t work that way.  Often times, what is popular is not right.  You cannot always follow the popular path and expect to be happy.  The sooner you realize that, the sooner you can be happy.  The only way to grow is through pain and hardship.  Don’t believe me?  I have been sued, divorced, and lost my job all in the span of a year.  Did I cry myself a river?  No!  Granted, I might have needed the help of a little Xanax and weed, but I grew as a person!  This has been lost on this younger generation.  They think those things are bad.  They want to grow without pain.  They want to make millions without doing any work.  We as parents want the very best for our children.  We want to shield them from pain and suffering, but that only stiffens their growth.  Kids need the unfiltered truth.  No person should offend you.  No statue should offend you.  If it does, then you are a pussy and need to reevaluate your life and your goals.

Equal Rights

In this country, we are all born with equal rights.  It does not matter who you parents are or what they do.  After birth, all of the decisions we make in life effect how our life ends up.  Our parents’ decisions only effect how our life ends up to a certain point.  If we kill 10 million people, does that mean that we should not be tried and executed because we have the right to life even though we revoked that right for so many?  We can take this a step further.  If our ancestors killed 10 million people, does that mean that we deserve to pay for their sins?  We are not Klingons.  The mistakes of our ancestors should not provide dishonor to our family for several generations.

Some people will say that me, as an American should be ashamed for the way my ancestors owned slaves in this country.  Guess what, fuckers?  My family was still in Europe when slavery was going on in America, so you can take that argument and fuck yourself in the ass with it.  Do you kill a child, nephew, or granddaughter of Hitler just because their relative killed millions of people?  Do you wipe out the lineage of Stalin (who killed way more people than Hitler) because he ended the bloodline of millions?  Should all Catholics be eliminated because they killed a lot of people during the Crusades and Inquisitions?  No!  That’s just stupid!

Instead of blaming history for how your life ended up, look at the decisions you have made.  We are not in the Middle East or parts of Asia where people do not have equal rights.  We are not in parts of the world where millions of people are still owned as slaves.  Jesus said, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”  I see a lot of stones already in the air, and I sure as hell know that we all have our own sins.  Quit being upset by injustices done hundreds of years ago and be pissed at the injustices being done today.  If we erase our history, we are doomed to repeat it, good and bad.

There Needs to be a Reset

There seriously need to be a reset on Earth.  The good news is that we are doing it to ourselves.  The bad news is that we will not get rid of stupid people fast enough to make much of a difference in my lifetime.  Now, before everyone gets all butt hurt over this, I am not saying we should go kill stupid people.  “Survival of the fittest” was supposed to do that, but what Darwin didn’t take into account is that stupid people breed, a lot.  The governments of the world have told stupid people it is okay to breed because the government will support their family when they cannot.  The more stupid-people offspring, the more the government helps.  Normal, intelligent people know their limits with children.  Accidents do happen, but even when they might have a kid too many, they find a way to afford it and keep the smart side of the gene pool in tact.  Unfortunately, stupid people out-breed intelligent people 10 to 1.

About the only way to get rid of the stupid people epidemic is to allow climate change (whether it is man made or natural, it doesn’t really matter because stupid people don’t care and intelligent people will debate it) to occur and let the Earth eliminate most of the human population.  Hopefully, all of the stupid ones perish.  There will be a few who escape the fate of their brethren, but the gene pool will have been chlorinated.

Controversy and Our Reactions

Reactions can make or break just about anything.  A great reaction can turn a tense moment into a light-hearted, amusing one.  A poor reaction can turn the best date in the world into a please-God-just-get-me-out-of-here-by-any-means-necessary date.  Reactions can also trigger great controversies.

People react differently in different situations, but I always try to pause and think about what just happened before I fully react.  Granted, I do have those initial, what-the-fuck-did-I-just-witness reactions that can derail my thoughtful reactions.  A lot of people seem to have forgotten that they can control their reactions.  They fly off the cuff, and everything offends them.  They do not take the time to ask why something happened, if there are other sides to the story, or if they might be misunderstanding what was meant.

Reactions are reflective by nature.  That is not the word I wanted, but I cannot think of it.  What I mean by this is that if someone reacts with emotion, the other parties tend to do the same.  If someone reacts with calm logic, others tend to calm down as well.  Instead of being offended by every little statement ever made, instead of flying off the handle in an emotional tirade,  and instead of reacting like everyone is out to win or out play us, if we just take a moment to think about other possibilities, responding in a calmer nature, there might be less violence and less massively offended people out there.  My father taught me that I cannot control what others do, but I can control how I react to them.

Be Happy With What You Have?

No.  That is the simple answer.  The real answer is more complicated.  When someone tells you to be happy with what you have, it sounds like you are not grateful for what you have.  That is not true though.  I am grateful for everything I have (and lost).  I have made a lot of money, and I have lost a lot of money.  I have had relationships, and I have lost relationships.  I have made some good decisions, but I have also made a lot of stupidly bad decisions.  I am grateful for all of the good times, and the bad.  The good times are easy to appreciate.  I choose to look at the bad times as lessons learned… if I pay attention to them.

I would not be who I am today (for better or worse) without all of the good and bad in my life, but that does not mean I am satisfied with who I am.  I always strive to be better.  I will always want a better life for myself, but more importantly, for the people around me that I care about.  Going through the challenges of the last few years, watching my youngest son deal with his disabilities, and seeing my oldest son deal with his brother’s disabilities, his parent’s divorce, and his struggles to fit in, it has certainly made me appreciate what I have more than I otherwise would have.  That, however, does not mean I will not strive for more: more happiness, more security, more quality time, and more family time.  I will never stop trying to be a better person.  My priorities might have changed as I have gotten older, but my ambition has not.  I am happy with what I have, but that does not mean I cannot strive for more.