No Monsters

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As a young man my parents would share music with me, their tastes blended with mine and allowed me to evolve the complicated mix on interests that I choose to listen to, even to this day. My music library is well over 100,000 songs and steadily grows as each album release season comes and goes. I have been a fan of many things over the years for many reasons, but there are some artists who will always stand out above the rest. Rush, from my father. The band that was instrumental in creating my passion for music, Coheed & Cambria, He Is Legend, Maylene, Watsky, so on and so forth.

However, among these artists there is a particular one that I want to talk about today. Carman. For those of you who don’t know, Carman is a contemporary Christian musician who has been releasing albums for somewhere around 30 years. Many of his songs encompass the cheesy and over the top dramatization of the Christian faith, with a twangy country styled piece called “Step of Faith” about believing that the plan is laid out for us, and we need to trust in Christ. There is “The Champion” which takes the final moments of Christ’s life and makes them into a title fight for the souls of the universe, with God in the announcer’s box calling the plays of the battle. The “Soap Song” Which is an evangelical piece based around the titles of various soap operas. Then, the one I’ve been railing into my mind lately, “No Monsters.”

I’ve spoken to you about monsters and magic and dragons. I’ve talked about personal demons and so much more, but this song is something incredibly special to me. The premise is that a young man who has seen horror shows on the television is being afflicted by the spirits that he saw, taunting him and terrifying him, in the form of an alligator man and a serial killer cannibal. These demons infest his home and torment the boy as he is trying to sleep and to combat them, he turns to the biblical teaching of calling on the name of Jesus to turn them away.

As I was listening to Carman a few days ago and talking to my mom about stress levels and how frustrated I am at some of the avenues and dragons that had popped up into my life, she told me that “No Monsters” applies to real monsters and demons too. Not just the ones I’ve made up in my head. By that, she meant to tell me that I need to focus more on my faith and my relationship with Christ as opposed to delving so deep into my own head to manage how I feel and figure out what I need to do.

See, every point of pride or sorrow or shame or worse in our lives can form a chink in our armor which will inevitably be attacked by evil. I find new scratches in mine every day, and when I do, sure as I’m living and breathing something grotesque will rear its head and try to destroy me. The fears of failure and ineptitude, the greed of desiring more money than I would ever need, the pride of knowing I am right about something, the jealousy when someone gets a bit too close to my garden. These thoughts and feelings are accompanied by evil spirits that float around my head, more often than not I let their taunting and deceit get to me when I truly shouldn’t.

This same concept can apply to you, even if you aren’t religious. Consider the story of the wolves. It is (possibly) a Native American folk tale about two wolves that are fighting within you, one embodies all good, love, joy, kindness, patience, peace and more. The other is the wolf that carries in its coat the evil in the world, jealousy, hatred, anger, impatience, lust and the rest. A young man asks the elder who wins the fight and the elder replies,

“Whichever one you feed.”

So, to wrap this up for you today, this world is filled with evil that is always going to be at your throat. Each new problem, new point of stress is just another bastion for the battalion of destruction to gain access to your fortress. When that happens, and trust me, it will, just stop moving so fast for a few seconds, look the evil in the eyes and tell it that it cannot defeat you.

No monsters are welcome in your fortress, and you should do well to remember that. You and I are building them as each day passes and they don’t belong here.

Fill it with love instead.

If you want more Polar Bear King love, check out my website!

www.linmtba.com 

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A Year of Battle: Fighting Dragons

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This is it, friends. The final post for Gravity, My Enemy Year Three: Fighting Dragons.

It has been an honor to write for you and to live life with you. I hope that as we dive off the roof for year four I will continue to inspire and to show my love for you through words.

Thank you, my friends.

It is almost time to wish Year Three away from me, and I have the same feelings about it that I do every other year before. It’s strange, how you can grow so attached to a concept that you’re writing about. Still, this year has been the most valuable yet as I sit here at the end of it knowing what I know now.

You will all find dragons in your lives. They could come disguised as anything. Your fear of commitment, your fear of the future, of animals, of large bodies of water or spiders or even your friends. Fears are justifiable things to hold. That doesn’t mean that we should sit around an allow them to exist without fighting back. Take the note from me, if you sit around and wait for your fears to go away themselves they will only grow in strength. They will creep around the shadows of your mind and try to take control of you.

You can’t let that happen. If you do, you will find yourself locked up in a dungeon of your own design. These dragons don’t eat their prey. They play with them first. They wait, taunting and torturing you with what they do to the inside of your head. Some of them will mutilate you for years before finally going for the kill. I have seen men and women at every stage. Those who are just coming to grips with their dragons. Those who have been fighting them for years. Those who are winning and those who are losing, and it showed me something that I hadn’t understood then.

We are all afraid.

Fear is okay. It’s good to be afraid, because it reminds us that we are still alive. That we still have some blood in our veins. Don’t let that fear swallow you. Don’t let the dragons berate you and hurt you. Don’t go down without a fight.

Let me tell you a story about myself, before I get to the end of this blog and the penultimate post for this year, I want to share something deeply personal with you, again, for the forty eighth time.

I am terrified of relationships. I am. Afraid of giving my feelings up to someone else because of the fear that they will turn against me, that they will use me, that I will be hurt. In the process of allowing those fears to fester I didn’t realize how badly I had hurt myself. Mentally. I was lacerating the edges of my brain because I was too terrified to be real with myself for one second about the reality of life. It is scary. Every single thing we do is scary. Yet we don’t run from it all. We pick and choose the things that terrify us, because we want so badly to feel that fear. It makes us feel alive, or complete, or determined, whatever you’d like to say. Which is why I would chase attractions and romance that I couldn’t have and walk away when I was right on the cusp of something special. I did this, because I loved the chase. I loved the moments leading up to relationships but when things got real I didn’t notice myself change to fend off the things I was afraid of.

I was a marionette being swung around by a scaly beast with claws. I let my fears control me.

So, this year, after a long conversation with a friend about fears I decided I would actively work to change those things within myself. So I did.

I forced my mind to think everything through. I forced myself to work on who I am as a person. I forced myself to forge a sword and fight back from the fires of my uncertainty.

What do you think happened?

If your answer was “You made it, you’re okay with relationships and commitment and all that now, you’re not afraid of it.”

You would be wrong.

That fear does still exist. I am afraid of the implications that come along with a real relationship. I still get nervous and paranoid and I still do things that I don’t like when I have feelings for someone. I believe that I always might. However, I noticed something this year that I have never seen in myself before.

A level of control.

It felt as if that dragon didn’t have the ability to control me as well anymore. As if I had taken that sword and began chopping at the twine I was tied up within. When my friends saw me fighting for it, I think they knew what to do. They picked up their own weapons and began fighting too. Helping me and giving me courage to fight and to swing with everything I have. No decision I made this year was one I made with uncertainty within me. I knew that at the end of whatever I was getting myself into, I would be fine. I would come out unscathed.

You may be thinking to yourself that it sounds as if I was the type of man to lead women on and then break their hearts right at the last second. To be honest, yes. I have done that before. I won’t excuse those things. I have hurt a lot of good people because of my myriad of fears. Still, I am fighting. I am growing and I am learning.

This year I learned through fighting that:

I am not afraid of water, I am afraid of drowning.

I am not afraid of relationships or commitment, I am afraid of the pain of separation.

I am not afraid of the woods, I am afraid of dying in the woods because I was doing something dumb.

I’m not afraid of pushing boundaries, I am afraid of being rejected for doing those things.

I am not afraid of my future, I am afraid of becoming someone I am not proud of.

I am not afraid of this world, I am afraid of the darkness within it.

I am not afraid of death, I am afraid of the hole it leaves behind.

I am not afraid of the potential that I hold, I am afraid of going too far and losing myself.

I realized this year that I am not afraid of fear.

I am afraid of Dragons.

 

…but that doesn’t mean I will stop fighting them.

If you liked this or anything else I’ve done, please follow me on Facebook/Twitter @alvatobiasbooks to see news of any upcoming projects I am bringing to you!

Thank you for another good year my friends, here is to many more.

Starting tomorrow we begin with Year Four: Noose Ends. Check the Alva Tobias Social Media pages for information on the upcoming blog posts! 🙂

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So, this was supposed to be a spoken word poem that I was intending on recording for YouTube but time got away from me and I have to resort to keeping it in text for the time being and sharing it with you here. This year coming to a close has, like always, put me through the ringer. This is the final poem for the year of Fighting Dragons + I’m super happy that we got to end it on the note that we did. Only a couple more blog posts left before we leave these fields and head for a town.

I couldn’t be more excited.

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For updates on new projects + poems you can follow me on Facebook + Twitter @alvatobiasbooks

Only a few days left before we introduce you to Year Four: Noose Ends.