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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Haunted Generations

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Christmas is almost here! I hope you are all having a wonderful time. I’m still getting over this sick business that decided to set up shop last week. My Christmas celebrations will likely be really laid back. I hope that you all have the most wonderful celebrations that you could have, regardless of the holidays you are celebrating. Only a couple more posts for this year that I am excited to bring to you.

We are close to a tribe of people who we are supposed to love and cherish, daughters and fathers, sisters, cousins. It has been on my mind a lot lately, the idea of a family. That my mother and father are my whole world and that my grandparents were the world to them. The bonds that we find with our family seem so strong, but can be so quickly severed. Those cuts may come quickly, but they are certainly not painless. I still have some people in my life who I will sucker punch should I see them again.

Growing up, I think we have this great picture of our extended family that is painted for us. Fearful to reveal the horrors of the world to the children, the adults painted a picture of peace and happiness with us. Some friends of mine didn’t even get that luxury. Their life at home was strife and worry and sadness always. I want you to know that you are not alone in it. Every family has secrets.

At the beginning of December, I went on a trip with my mother and grandmother to visit some family across the country. As we went and I met these people for the second time feeling as if it was the first, I heard all kinds of stories. My mom took me around in Kansas and showed me where my great grandma once lived and where I played as a park when I was a young pup. I watched as one of my relatives lit a cigarette right next to his oxygen tank and panicked briefly, afraid it was going to blow up. After the fourth or fifth cigarette, I was less worried about dying.

I heard stories from my family that I thought I would never hear. Things that would be hard to believe even if I had written about them. I came to smile and laugh with them when my mind was in the conversation and sit back in awe of their lives when it wasn’t. This trip was the echoing voice in the back of my head, whispering that the world around me is not what I believe it to be. That I have a lot of work to do. Hearing stories of bitterness and greed and tall tales galore from these people I have only met once before rang a bell in my head.

All families have their secrets. All families have things that never see the light of day.

Mine is not excluded from that, but as my mom came to pick me up from the airport in SLC and take me to a convenience store for some snacks, I fell into a pensive mood. We talked about the trip and our plans to leave the following morning and I recollected all of the things I had experienced from my family on the trip. My mind spun back to my father’s side of the family, who have grown tense as the years passed from my grandparents deaths. I remembered the conversations, the faces, the things said to my father. I remember the stories that my grandparents told and I remembered all of the things that I don’t think I was supposed to know when I did. All the stories I was told perhaps a bit too young.

Then I thought of my friends. Some of whom I had been growing tiresome of. My mind was getting tired of the antics and this or that about them, and as I slapped a frosted red velvet cookie on the counter and asked the cashier for a pack of smokes, I thought of one friend in particular, watching his family go through what my family had gone through a few years back.

The only difference is that his family was much closer than mine was. So the struggle hurts him and I can see it. It brought the conversation into my head as we drove home and I grabbed my things from the car and entered the hotel room. Family is difficult, it is confusing, but there is always hope.

I say something often, because I enjoy the way it sounds. An old saying that has been mutilated to mean something different.

“The blood of bond is thicker than the water of the womb.”

Meaning, the family that you choose is more important than the family you are born into. You can choose the family you were born into as well, and I have, but I took a deep breath as I remembered I chose every single person in my life today.

I chose them all, despite their demons and their monsters, because no matter who you are, or where you come from…

Every family can be haunted, even if only by a few spirits.

Today is the LAST DAY to preorder MEan Shadows and get the super rad bookmarks that come with the book! It releases TOMORROW MORNING + I hope that all of you have your copies snagged. You can find them here.

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Rock Chalk Jayhawk

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This blog post might seem a bit confusing, but it came from a real place to me. I have always touted about being there for others and being someone to lean on, but that can’t be done when I’m too wrapped up inside of my own heart to look around and see who might need a hug or a kind word. I don’t want to do that, because that isn’t what Grandpa would have done. He would have loved. So I will too.

Things have been moving so fast lately, I’ve hardly had time to stop and look at myself in the mirror. I’ve been out of Elko four times in the past two months, making a few trips. I’ve just moved into a new place and I’m getting prepped to get another job so that I can actually afford living where I am currently. Through all of this, I have been wrapped up in my own problems. I’m not writing my books fast enough, I’m not publish blogs consistently (oops) I’m not doing so and so in whatever timeframe I needed it done and it’s been bothering me so I’m constantly trying to get myself back up to speed. This, coupled with working and getting some freelance jobs started has caused me to fall behind in other aspects of my life.

For example, I haven’t had a sit down with my friends in weeks, to just talk about our lives. A couple of them are going through some pretty rough patches and I realized the other day that I haven’t had time to bring it up or see if they were okay. I haven’t played my guitar in months. I haven’t done anything remotely relaxing since November of last year. That’s not to say that I haven’t been relaxing, don’t get me wrong I’ve used a lot of my time pretty poorly. It hasn’t relaxed me, it’s just stressed me out because I can’t seem to stay caught up because of the lack of focus.

Regardless, that isn’t what I’m here to talk about. I’m here to talk about grandparents.

Recently, a friend of mine lost his grandfather, and due to my busy schedule I realized a week ago that I haven’t asked him how he is doing. I’ve been so wrapped up in my own shit that I’ve kind of glossed over it.

That’s unacceptable.

It makes me think of my own grandfather, who has already passed. I took his first name to use as a pen name. I did this because I wanted to honor him with the things that I do, but I asked myself something this weekend.

How can I say that is what I want, when that is not what I’ve done?

My grandpa was kind and strong. He cared about so many things and he loved so many more. I sat down at our campsite on the 21st and really looked at my life, all of the things I’m doing and the things I’m not. I weighed them against my backbone question, the one I always ask myself.

What advice would Grandpa give me in this situation?

Well, I can’t know for sure but I have a pretty decent idea. I know that he wouldn’t let something this important pass by him. He would be there, and he would love that person and make them know they are loved. He would stand by them and he wouldn’t let his own problems or his own thoughts come first until he knew his friend was taken care of.

I’ve contemplated a lot about my life within the last week. Watching my best friend get married was a huge thing for me and it really made me think. I’ve been waiting around for something that isn’t going to appear on its own. I haven’t really been taking my life seriously. If I have been anything, I’ve been a seagull waiting for a fisherman to give me some squid so I don’t have to hunt for food on my own.

I am not a seagull.

If my grandpa taught me anything about this life, he taught me to stand up and be strong. When I was a kid, he would always draw the KU Jayhawk. I have colored in more pictures of that damn bird than I could recollect today, but now when I think of it, it reminds me how important it was meant to be.

I would always color when I was sad. Grandpa would draw something and he’d give it to me to color. I didn’t put the pieces together then, because he was the one who was always putting the pieces together. I would just fill them in.

Today, I have to do both jobs. It’s not easy by a long shot. Still, I know that my grandpa is out there drawing all kinds of horses and Jayhawks in heaven and waiting for me to come home.

Until then, I’m going to remember what it meant to color those pictures in. I’m going to learn what it takes to draw them. I am meant to carry on a legacy of great men. My grandfather, my own father. There are so many, and I don’t think any of them would have let their own personal struggles hamper them from being a friend or loving their brothers. It is important to me that I pick up my crayons today and color in someone else’s picture, if it will help them, I will do what I can to put the pieces together.

Even if it seems like the pieces will be impossible to find.

I was always told the importance of dirty shoes, because it means I work. So… I’ll take that lesson from my grandpa and I will put those dirty shoes on, climb down into the mud with my crayons and color things, even if we are knee deep in terrible.

I will be there for you.

Just like my grandpa was, and is, still here for me.

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Just Writing Because I Thought of You (Poem)

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This is the second poem you didn’t get this month because of my scheduling issues. I was sitting around my house one day + out of nowhere I started thinking about my cousin who passed away a while back and I couldn’t stop, I was filled with a kind of sadness and I needed to write it out. Here is the product.

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King + Forever

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This week, in honor of Father’s Day I wanted to release a poem that I had written and dedicated to my pops. There are a lot of things that we don’t agree on, there can be some tension between us, but he was the man who taught me to chase after the things I love and to pursue them with fervor. You are the man who taught me that I need to do what is right, not what is popular. That’s what I’m doing now, I don’t know any other way to go.

Thanks for that, dad. I love you.

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(If you liked this or any of my other posts, please consider following me on Twitter @alvatobiasbooks where you will see more poems that I haven’t released onto the blog as well as more words about life and love and existing in this planet. Thank you for reading, until next time I hope you remember, life is not meant to be awful.)

Walkways

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My parents have always guided me and pushed me to do the things that I love and that I believe in. That drive has created a monster within me that won’t slow down, even if I was paralyzed or dying I wouldn’t stop writing and working.

Above all… I wouldn’t stop loving. The two of you taught me how to do that. I can’t ever really express my thanks for those lessons learned, but later in my life when it is a mess I want to give you an easy walkway to live and love within, the same way you gave me one.

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