In Search of Something, Desperation

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I find that more often than not, media that stems from my faith is dictated by a series of hidden puppet masters who inspect the content and make sure it is “Jesus approved” by a host of likewise sinful people who chose to cheapen a message by hiding it behind a mesh screen and chose to swing Jesus’ name around in the sky like a rickety bat instead of telling us why Jesus’ name actually matters.

Disillusionment is never the answer.

I will forever be honest about my faith, and I will forever be honest about how shitty I can be, how shitty the world around us can be.

This is about three things:

  • How Christian media presents themes you should respect and look up to, but does it in the worst way possible.
  • How Underoath’s return has broken my heart.
  • How I struggle with the fact that I am a Christian, writing fairly “un-Christian” books, and yet still find my purpose in writing them.

I told you today would be about a struggle within the context of my faith, and here it is. Why I strive to be the best version of the collected gifts I have been given. How I want, above all else, to be a Christian who will always level with you and understand you. Regardless of your faith. Regardless of your life. I want to be someone you can come to.

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Back when I first released “The Darling Bones” I had a friend from church who read it and afterwards, make some rather questionable comments to my parents about my faith. Among them, they claimed that my novel was not a “Christian” novel because in the book a character directly refutes God’s existence. They also suggested I seek guidance through prayer and scripture to get back on track amid my walk of faith.

Of course, when this news returned to me I thought it was ludicrous. For several reasons, chiefly among them, “The Darling Bones” is not a Christian novel. I don’t write “Christian” novels. If I wrote a Christian novel in the manner that many religious minds expect, it would be the worst one of my career without a doubt. Perhaps a useful tool for prompting other Christians to seek out clarity in their faith, but undoubtedly not something I would feel is worthy of advertising, let alone accepting as my own.

That’s a lofty claim to make considering I am whole-heartedly a Christian and I truly believe the only reason I am able to do what I do is because I was given the talent for it.

However, despite how talented I may or may not be at telling a story, no talent, God given or earned through dedication, will remain a talent without constant and difficult work. You cannot be a champion weight lifter without lifting champion level weights every day. You cannot be an Olympic swimmer without swimming with the charge of an Olympian. Why is it that Christian Media is any different?

I grew to understand this idea years ago when I met face to face with Underoath. Labeled by some as “bad boys” of the Christian music scene. Their lyrics were, by all accounts to a thirteen-year-old, dark and edgy. They screamed with passion and their music was heavier than much else out there. No offense to the likes of Toby Mac, but I just couldn’t get behind worship music for a long time. I followed Underoath as a band for years, using their radio station on Pandora to seek out other bands in the same vein where I found Demon Hunter, As I Lay Dying and more, all of whom stood out to me as a young man searching for his place in the world as strong Christian influences that proved I could be exactly who I was and still be a man of faith. I could have both worlds and I could live in them at the same time.

Then Tim Lambesis tried to assassinate his wife.

To be honest, that really threw a wrench in my whole ideology.

If you are unaware, Tim was the lead singer of As I Lay Dying, a band who for a while proclaimed their Christian faith and stood out among the masses as one of the heavier bands who stuck to their guns amid the metal scene, despite being a Christian group. To make a long story short, if you want to read more information on the story I’ll leave a link, but their lead singer got jacked on steroids and decided he wanted to kill his wife, so he hired a hitman who was actually an undercover cop. He went to prison and that was that. AILD was broken up and I was more than a bit disappointed.

As his trial approached, I came to follow the story closely and in one interview he made a comment that upset me much more than the fact that his band had broken up and he turned out to be a despicable human being. In this interview he had made a comment about how many of the current (At the time, 2016. Who knows what has changed since then.) Christian bands were honest about their faith. In various interviews, which gave all kinds of sporadic information in no sensible order and actually let to more confusion in the long run about his situation, he claimed that 1/10 Christian bands that AILD toured with were actually Christian.

For you to understand my frustrations you should understand that I was somewhat shielded from things. Not in a “My parents wouldn’t let me do anything.” kind of way, but more like a “I thought every story had a happy ending, even when it didn’t.” Kind of way. I think in my youth there was this idea in my head that it was impossible for bands and even to a small degree, individuals to lie about their faith. I just assumed that a Christian would be honest about their walk and that was all that needed to be said. Of course, this is bullshit because we inherently are deceitful creatures. Christian or not. We quickly learn to lie about things to hide our shame or to process our own pride. Regardless of our stance on God.

After the news broke about Tim Lambesis I went through a patch where I would obsessively research the backstory and interviews of the Christian bands I listened to, to try to uncover the deep seeded secrets they were hiding. As if my research and silent pleading would change their minds if they had stepped away from their faith. I clung to this idea of Christian bands that were good and not cheesy for so long that I never wanted it to end. I wanted bands like As I Lay Dying and Haste The Day to exist forever. I felt the same way about Underoath, who had broken up in 2013, then crowd funded the completion of a DVD and returned in 2015. Later to release their first album in eight years, Erase Me.

My thoughts on the album itself are separate from the content of this blog. To be truthful, I love the direction the band has gone in. Their music sounds refreshing and new to Underoath, but I perhaps think I’m such a fan of it because I have been a fan of Bring Me The Horizon for years, with their latest release That’s The Spirit being one of my all time favorite albums. If you aren’t aware, BMTH has never been religious, in fact they’ve been openly opposed to religion on many accounts. Which brings me to a comparison that I find ironic, if not disheartening.

BMTH has been making music for quite a while and you can hear Underoath’s influence on their sound with each album, with the release of TTS I fell in love with what they had done, and I considered it their best work yet. The same can be said for Erase Me regarding Underoath, musically it is great, and lyrically it is dark and difficult to listen to, but that relates to my passion for what Underoath was to me.

I had built them up to be some kind of monolith in my mind, that if those guys were a Christian band and were as grungy and real about life as they were, I could do the same thing in my writing. I had such a strong appreciation for Underoath for many reasons but chiefly among them it was because Christian music just seemed so… empty.

It isn’t that the music was without substance. Many of my favorite religious bands sand about things I would experience in my life or things that I would feel, worship music was worship music and it all served its purpose, but after I found Underoath and other bands in the same vein I realized that their music was not only rooted in the faith I shared with them, but it was just damn good.

Comparing Christian music and movies to secular music and movies you see a stark difference in content. Many of the “huge” Christian movies were rooted in deeper religious philosophy that was beaten over your head with a board at best, or at worst, simply created to outright disrespect non-Christians. (Looking at you, God’s Not Dead.)

I’ve always sat through youth group move nights with a bad taste in my mouth. It isn’t that Fireproof is a bad movie it’s just…

Actually yes, it is. It is exactly that Fireproof is a bad movie. The Left Behind series tried to be horrifying and apocalyptic, whatever else you want to plug in here tries its best to be a tear jerking story of salvation, but it is deployed so ungracefully that it ends up being stagnant and difficult to process. Especially when you sit through the whole movie feeling like you’re getting hammered with the Jesus Stick. Compare that to any secular movie with meaning and you will find yourself comparing the two and seeing what I mean. Put Fireproof, a movie about the struggles of a relationship and using pornography as an addiction, compared to a movie that you can compare, Don Jon, about pornography and the struggles of a relationship, you can see that one of them had a much higher quality of production, one of them allowed people to connect with the message, and one of them didn’t constantly use God as a cattle prod.

I use this as an example because this is the same sort of thing we see in Christian music. Obviously, regarding the two movies, a Christian production company is not going to allow anyone to portray pornography on the screen. That’s against a core value of the faith. Still, there wasn’t a better way to show the character’s struggle with the addiction? Fireproof, though I haven’t seen it in a long, long time was even one of the bolder movies at the time. I was shocked to see them tackle pornography in a movie that went to the big screen.

This heavy-handed mystery that Christian media tries to inject into their creations comes across as half hearted and difficult. Obviously, porn is not going to show up in a religious film and that is fine. There are other ways to show that struggle without displaying any film of it. I have critiques to both, but I’ll save that for another time. This Fireproof problem occurs just the same in music as it does in film, and it leads me to the final point of today: Why I am actually heartbroken that Underoath has stepped away from their Christian title, why “Christian” art gets a bad rap for what it is and what that means to me, as a Christian.

A few days ago, I listened to a quasi-interview with Aaron + Tim from Underoath as they talked about their new album and their past actions as a religious band. One thing came up that I’ve always been curious about. On an early UO album, there is a line in a song called A Boy Brushed Red Living in Black And White,

“Well, look who’s dying now
Slit wrists sleeping with the girl next door
I always knew you were such a sucker for that
It doesn’t matter what you say
You never mattered anyway
I never mattered anyway”

In the third line, “I always knew you were such a sucker for that…” the band members talked about how the original lyric was supposed to end with the word “whore” and the producer/label told them to cut it because it was a bit too edgy for a Christian band to be singing. For context, the whole song is likely about a younger couple, possibly teenagers, who are raised religiously and begin having sex and then the boy in question becomes addicted to sex with the girl. Not at all uncommon in the world of heavy Christian music. Back in 2007 they’d tackle a lot of topics that my generation was beginning to deal with. Relationships, Virginity, Drugs, whatever. While it seems cheesy to someone who is outside of these circles, this was real shit back in my day. I had friends who related ferociously to this song. They believed it described their actual life and their feelings towards the ex-girlfriend they went toe curling with two nights a week.

As I listened to the interview and looked into a few other lyrics I’d always had hunches about (I found nothing relating a label-oriented change in lyrics there.) Regardless, it echoes the problem I have with Christian Media.

It’s like they are afraid to be real with themselves and with their fans.

They create these images of real struggle but make them holographic and immaterial for the sake of saving face at their local worship meetings. I’m not here to lambast every single Christian artist in the world, there are so many who do such good with what they have and I’m not ever saying that this kind of artistry doesn’t have a place, but there is a huge difference between selling yourself as a Christian and selling your art as Christian. I think it is much better to be the former.

Life is real. It is disgusting. It is difficult. To my fellow Christian readers, there is some gruesome shit in the Bible. Last I checked, we didn’t get to gloss over the crucifixion, so we didn’t have to bear the image of what happened to Jesus. We don’t get to have the lashes of the whip and the spear through his side implied to us. It is all told. Explicitly, on the page. We don’t get to hide from the reality of the world just because we have faith to shield us. Moreover, we don’t get to push out half assed work for the sake of saving face. (To those of you who will process this like I’m sure many will, assuming I’m encouraging my fellow Christian readers to begin creating graphic torture porn, no. Stop it.) I’m not saying you must fill the lyrics of your songs with the explicit scenes of a child murder. I’m not saying your movie must have a rape scene. I’m not saying you must fold and abide by the rules of the ever-growing power play that AAA media is becoming. We don’t have to do things louder and bloodier to get our point across.

We must do them better.

If you were given a gift, a talent to create, then create. By all means. Create the best thing you can. Inspired by God, inspired by your imagination, we will attribute it to the same thing regardless. The only reason I am who I am is because I believe in God and I believe in the gifts He gave me. So, I’m calling you to do the same thing. Don’t falter your work because you think it isn’t Christian enough. If a character in your novel walks away from his faith, then let him walk away. Make it hard. Make it heartbreaking. Make it impossible for you to read to yourself aloud. Because that’s what life is like. If I were to walk away from my faith today, it would be the hardest thing I’ve ever done or ever will do. I wouldn’t just emerge from the other side of it okay.

Which is why Underoath’s resurgence as a non-religious band hurts me so much. Not because I’m some integral part of the band, not because I believe they are doomed now. Not because I want to see all my favorite bands in Heaven. It hurts because that band kept me focused on Christ in the darkest moments. I held on to the messages of their music for so long, knowing that every season of drought would end. I would listen to them when I was afraid. I would listen to them when I was unhappy. I would listen to them every chance I had when I felt distant from my faith or lost. Having that taken away from me is painful. It meant a lot to me that I could always seek Underoath for that. That there was a band out there who unflinchingly told things like they were. Yet, in the end, they turned away from their faith and walked away from the Christian label. I don’t fault them, to be honest. I would have walked away from labeling myself a “Christian” author too if I were in their shoes.

So, I won’t start labeling myself as such. I have no desire to cheapen the message of my work to make it clearer that I am a man of faith. My work is not “Christian” because it isn’t meant for a Christian audience. My work was penned by a man who believes in a Savior. That will not cheapen what I have to say, because I won’t be writing it behind a screen and pretending that I am immune from the struggle. If it finds you I will rejoice, but it is meant for anyone who is hoping for help. Anyone who is hoping for love. For those who are lost and need just a glimmer of hope. Those things aren’t exclusive to Christians, so I won’t be writing just for those in my same cloth. I decided long ago to write for those who need it. Those who are in touch with the darkness in the world and don’t have a light of their own. Who don’t know what to do, what to say, or where to go. I won’t pull punches in the telling of my story. I won’t pretend that I don’t struggle. I have been honest with you through this blog and through my writing every single time I’ve released something. At my core, I am born again and because of that I understand that I’m not shit in this world. I am a speck of dust that writes books, thinking he is important on a floating pebble, adrift in a sea of infinity and yet, I have a purpose. There is no reason for me to be loved, yet I am. By so many. There is no reason for me to exist, but I do. Because I was meant to. There is no reason for anything to care about me, but I am cared for by the creator of the very sea I float in.

For that, I will write.

I will write well and true.

That is that. My faith does define me. My faith is the only reason I exist today.

It is the only reason I am who I am, today.

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I’ll release my thoughts on the album itself soon. Until then, live well. Stay true to yourself. Ask questions. Answer some.

Live.

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www.linmtba.com

Separation Therapy

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Welcome Back

(Wanna see a schedule of the weekly releases? Cool, I thought you might.)

I find it most comforting that after a long day, I can come home and visit my girlfriend, relax and do whatever I please. I am blessed with the comfort of knowing I am taken care of. I am comforted knowing that I have a home. A place to sleep. A place to think.

I took some time after my birthday to just be, for a while. A lot has changed since the day I decided to put forth something worth consuming. I have spent so much time only soaking in things and I wanted so badly to put those things back into the world in a new way. I just didn’t know how.

Hell, I still don’t know how, but I’m building.

I’ve noticed a problem in my work pattern and my personal life that needs to be addressed publicly before I can really work on it privately.

I’m terrible at owning up to things. I am possibly one of the most passive aggressive people I know, I am cluttered, and I am messy, and these things make up a pretty spectacular light show failure as each connected bulb pops one by one.

I have a hard time committing to a schedule, even though I schedule things adamantly. I have a purpose, and in an effort not to let this block of text bore you into slumber, I’ll get to the point.

I have a purpose, but somehow, I don’t know what I want to do. I have so many things in my back pocket that I slowly chunk off one by one with each passing day. I work adamantly at everything that I do and I come tell all of you about it on the blog. But what is it truly worth? I’ve seen a decline in the way I’ve been behaving. Short tempered and obsessive. Things I am not, not truly.

I came to be a part of this world and not to simply absorb what others can offer me. This led to my break. After a rather impressive period of high stress and panic, my own insatiable despair mounting in a way I had not anticipated I found myself somewhat lost at the crux of this moment that I had spent so much energy preparing for. My birthday is often a big deal to me, something that I choose to celebrate all month long with my friends and family, as well as any fans I’ve picked up along the way.

I have lists and lists of birthday related projects that I want to work on with each new year, I have novels to write and poems to create and I know all of this consciously, but I realized that I wasn’t in quite as much control as I’m used to this spring. I was set to finish my latest work in progress in March, and I put it off every day for one reason or another. Spend time with friends, family, girlfriend, random dogs I find in the street, whatever.

As a creative I often find myself caught up in things. Things that vary in importance. I can spend hours looking up fantasy names for a D&D campaign and do absolutely no work. I can spend the night playing video games instead of sleeping. I can spend a day in a coffee shop reading instead of studying. I can do all of these things and I have this profound ability to waste time, but it is wonderful.

The fact that I have this choice at all, is wonderful.

I have been blessed with a monumental gift that I have often squandered. In most blog posts, I’ll tell you that I mean writing. Not today. That isn’t the purpose of this blog post. This is a reignited fire. A part of me that sleeps so frequently and finds itself awake in the midst of a torrent. A part of me that is alight with energy because I felt the presence of this wonderful gift that each of us shares.

We exist.

We exist and there is a clock on our heads. There is a moment where everything will run out and we will be gone forever, but between every ticking second, we have all of the time in the world. We have all the ability we could ever hope for to stop the clock and look around us. To make time stand still and really see what it is we get up and fight every day for.

I needed a moment to do that, so I’m sorry you didn’t get anything from me all through the last month. Then again, without that break I wouldn’t be here now, would I?

I don’t know. That’s the beauty of life.

I don’t know anything, and it is my job merely to learn and experience. Everything afterward is a choice of my own making and there are few things more beautiful than that.

Take a break today, rest the stress off. Play video games. Watch a movie with your kids. Just…

Live.

 

God of the Gateway

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The stars are these celestial beings spiraling above us at all hours of the day, singing hymns for the purpose of this universe. We are not unlike them, as we sing our own purpose too. With our passions and our hobbies, the way we meticulously trim grass or paint houses, we are adding to this kind of infinite chorus of the universe.

Each time you step out your front door the world changes, every time you make a decision it changes again. We live for this great meaning and yet so many of us don’t know our actual purpose.

There is a time and a place for all of us, it may not be today, it may not be next year, but every year that goes past we are given unlimited ways to build up and create our own life.

I like to think of it like this, at the onset of every morning, we are given a choice, stay in bed for a while and find the momentum to stand up, or stay there and rest. When we get up we have a handful of new choices to make. Shower, eat, get to work, play video games, paint, whatever the choice may be you have decided to move forward in one way or another. If you shower and eat, you are filling yourself with energy for the day. If you sit down to game for a while before jumping into your tasks, you are training your reflexes and hand eye coordination. If you read in the morning you are expanding your breadth of knowledge by a bit with every turned page.

Each action we make causes a new set of decisions to unfold before us. We can rarely choose multiple paths, lest we find ourselves overwhelmed by the pressure of completing many things at once. Of course this isn’t always the case and that idea is remarkable.

We can take on an infinite amount of tasks and jobs, or whatever the case may be. We will do many things in our lives but even if we stack up all of the things each of us chooses to do, let’s take the things we say, for example.

If we counted up on a celestial abacus all of the things each human that has ever existed has said, we still would not come close to the number of stars hanging in the sky above.

We are not infinite, not in our physical bodies, at least.

This also means we have been blessed with a kind of choose your own adventure that nothing else on earth is allowed to have. We can decide our own fate and our own destinies simply by the first choice of getting up in the morning. Having that kind of power is awe inspiring, isn’t it?

Within each of us there rests a small piece of something that another human needs to make it through the day. Encouragement, love, inspiration, a stern talking to. Everything we do, and I literally mean everything is watched by our peers. Every time I make a foolish decision, someone sees it and someone knows that I have done so, which will later on be used to see me in a different kind of light. When I do something that is encouraging or good for another, people will see that and they will likely turn around and do something the same for another.

We are linked together through this small connection, endless energy pouring out of our souls and into one another much like the stars that hand above us. Galaxies crash into each other the same way we meet people and become friends or partners or associates. We are all tiny galaxies adrift in the ever stretching galleon of space and time. A ship within a ship, I believe.

All of these choices we have to make, for good and for bad, come down to our own minds. Will we take up the honor of the stars and do everything in our power to love and uplift, or will we take a moment to consider that in a machine this large, nothing truly matters?

I think my answer is the former, and my response to the latter is this:

We were not built to be machines. We were built like trees. We grow upwards and our roots sink deep into the earth. We may leave our homes but those roots will always be there to feed us. My family will always support me, my friends will always be there for me. My life will always carry significant meaning because of the people that have crossed paths with me. All of these things rest in the end, on my shoulders.

I would much rather stand tall and stretch out, even on a lazy day, to be there when someone needs me than to sit idly by and watch as the world, as big and wondrous as it can be, still shake someone to the bones.

The world around us is a mean and nasty place sometimes. We know this right now more than we ever have, we can turn on any news station and see that this world is not what the peace bearing leaders of our past wanted it to be, so we should take up their mantle and fight.

Not with hands, but with words.

I believe in a God. This is not an unknown idea, and I believe this God did not design us to watch the world around us spiral out of control. I think our purpose is much grander than just picking up a passion, although important, I think we need to find our passion and use it to uplift, encourage, and to remind those around us that we are all just like stars. Each one of us twinkles in the night time, regardless of what we have done, there is purpose born into us.

We will never outgrow that, even those who choose not to use it.

The first step to all of this… is looking at the gateway before us and stepping through.

If you like this, be sure to check out the Life is not Meant to be Awful compilations over on Amazon! There you’ll find the first four years worth of blog post goodness.

Feel Every Yard (BIG Announcement!)

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Before I get to the post today, I promised you a couple things from Wednesday. Sorry if it was a tad bit misleading, I wasn’t about to shout out some cool stuff if I wasn’t sure it was happening, but here we are.

So, first of all, I’ve been releasing a few shirts over on Teespring for Random Acts Creations. Year One through Year Four shirts/hoodies/v-necks are available now + I don’t plan on pulling the stock ever. I’m working behind the scenes to release a spring line towards the middle of April this year. It will be full of rad stuff like hoodies, T-shirts, and phone cases. (There is more but Imma keep some of it a secret!)

Second, I’ll be releasing a compilation of poetry from the blog itself (edited and updated, I promise.) Some of em were pretty rough around the edges but They’re shaping up nicely + you’ll be hearing more about them towards the third quarter of the year.

Third, I’ll be putting out another blog compilation this November, Year Five is going to come with a lil bonus though, I don’t want to give you too much about it, but I’ll tell ya you might want to keep some space available on your wall. 😉

All of that being said, if you’ve made it this far, you can check out my website, freshly updated and looking super fly to see my release schedule every single month. I’ll have days scheduled for blogs, poetry, YouTube videos + anything else I’m doing. Don’t think I’ve been forgetting about some of the older stuff you all loved. Over on the S+I Facebook page i’ll be bringing more happiness and inspiration than ever before. Snapchat will be live with some new tutorials just for kicks and I have SO much more. 2018 is just getting started and your favorite hippy is swinging harder than ever.

Best believe that.

It’s funny how they say time is money when we are so reluctant to spend time but we will freely throw away our time. Before I get into this week, I hope that you spend much more time this week than you do money, it is so much more valuable and so much more appreciated.

Last week I was having a conversation getting to know a new coworker and discovering their interests when they told me something I have said to others. We were talking about his passions and his dreams and he told me that he wanted to travel, he was going to set up a motorhome and just drive around the country in the next three years. That his dream was to see every state in the US and then he continued by saying something I have said countless times before.

“I know it seems stupid…”

Right before he launched into the description of his dream since he was a child, he wanted to touch every piece of dirt in the USA and he looked away from me in shame as he told me that.

It rang a bell inside of me that has been softly ringing since the day I picked up a pen.

I remember when I was that kid, unsure of my future with lofty goals and dreams, this grand desire to be all that I am working to become, an author, a YouTuber, a poet, a musician, a business owner, a chef, a friend and a blogger among so many other things. I remember being in that exact same place, telling others that my dreams sound stupid.

That was before I found The Buried Life, I’ve written about the show before + in case you’re new around here and have been hiding under a rock, they set out with this idea to cross off items from a collective bucket list and along the way help others cross one item off of theirs. The show + corresponding book inspired me so much that I decided to do the same.

It’s funny how these things that cross over into my head overlap so often. It is a still small reminder that my purpose is clearly defined and I cannot stop building for it, fighting for it and praying for guidance along the way.

I lost my job and began to panic about making money, how I could support myself still, how I could keep moving forward and what I could do to pay my bills, when I was provided for as if by magic I silently prayed a thanks and kept moving, without realizing that I had begun orienting my time beneath making money. The time I spent with friends decreased, the time I spent working increased and I began to trip up a lot, wondering if I was worth it or whatever.

Well that’s some shit if I’ve ever heard it.

Talking to my friend I was reminded of the madness that my life has become and how I enjoy every last second, every last wasted cent, every last smile and tight embrace between myself and those that I love.

This life is so much more than we always think it is. In the midst of darkness, for you or me, there is always light. You have your purpose and I hope that you consider it if you feel lost today. You have dreams and goals somewhere within you, you have a calling and there is no greater sin than wasting you valuable time.

Spend it instead, searching for the next step and moving forward. If you want to become an author, start writing. Streaming on Twitch? Download the app and go. There is no back tracking as long as you are aware that you are accomplishing goals and dreams with every new step you take. So don’t stop stepping.

Just get out there, climb in your motorhome and hit the road. We have a long list of items to work through, it is going to take a minute…

…and every minute will be worth it.

Thank you so much for reading.

Rivers

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“Rivers and roads, rivers and roads, rivers till I reach you.” – The Head and The Heart; Rivers and Roads

For years this blog has been about memories and lessons, the way the world shifts beneath our feet and twists our ankles, the way we hit the ground… the way we get back up.

This week one of my best friends moved away from home. I don’t know when I will see him again, I know I certainly will, but I have no way of knowing when. This is another instability of life.

When I was a younger man I had this dream that me + all of my best friends would wind up in the same place. Despite the fact that we all wanted different things, teaching, theatre, engineering, photography, writing, it’s all the same, really. We all have these things that call to us and beg us to move forward step by step, even when we don’t know where to go there is always something pulling at us until our bones shake. Some small voice in the back of our minds begging us deep down to steel our shoulders and wrap the rope around our hands, to begin dragging the slabs of sandstone up long and shallow ramps.

It wasn’t until a couple years ago that this dream of mine had truly shown itself for what it was, a sham. Not that it is a bad thing at all. I’m so endlessly excited to see where each of the boys go, what they do, who they become. I’m so excited to evolve from Alan the Novelist to Uncle Alan, or Dyzygy on a Guest Stream, or even Alva Tobias, celebrity guest at a grand reveal of a play or movie. All of these things seem silly, I’m sure, but it wasn’t until a couple years ago that I realized that if we do not have these dreams, if we do not have these passions, we are lost completely. Each one of us, you and I, are bound together by one everlasting and powerful link that groups us together and cinches us tight.

Purpose.

I sat this week with someone who I hold extremely dear to my heart and talked with him about his novels, our jobs, his future and mine alike. We laughed like we always do, we joked like we always do, and we sat in the same dingy booth in the same shitty casino restaurant that we had frequented for years now and just experienced life together.

I ramble fairly frequently, if you think the blog is bad you should speak to me in real life. I have a hard time getting to the point, because I’ve never believed that the point is where we should be getting. We should be getting onward, guys like me don’t define ourselves by early or late. We don’t think about the end of the story, I know damn well that the end will come when the end comes and I have no intention of rushing or delaying anything. That being said, it is important that we must continue moving.

My life pulls me in a dramatically different way than everyone else’s. My best friends and I may not see each other forever, but they will always be a part of my pyramid. The bottom blocks, the biggest ones, that hold this entire wonder up. I would not be the man that I am today without the constant love and support of these men and watching them grow and change, evolve and struggle to overcome things is nearly greater than the joy I see in them when they have successes and we can share laughter over those small victories.

I love watching their stories unfold because I see all of us as these wondrous characters, grafted and designed with innumerable purpose, fleeting as our lives may be at the end of time, we can still stand at the gate of change or death or life and scream to the world that we were here, we exited and we lived, we loved with everything we can.

It is this way too, when friends and family pass on.

I talk so much about purpose, because I don’t think many people truly find their purpose. I stumbled around for the majority of my life, only recently discovering that I am here to inspire, to tell stories, to help others in some manner. I forget that sometimes. I forget too, that our lives aren’t meant to be rushed through. We have to take things one day at a time, thought is not a matter of moments it is an expanse of time.

Though thorough we may be to seek out our next step, it will come when it is ready. It is up to us to be ready for what comes next.

If you have to say goodbye, for the moment, or for forever, remember that it is all part of the purpose we are searching for. Each of us are destined to find our own way. Our friends may not live in the same city forever, but it never hurts to put yourself and your family in a boat and float down the river for a while, just to say hello every once and a while.

There are many things about my past that I don’t look to for inspiration. There are many facets of my own personality that I can’t stand to admit and yet, I was blessed with men and women who love me unconditionally through everything. Despite how horrid I believe myself to be inside some days.

I welcome change, I welcome the twists and turns of the earth. I know that my friends and I are in the same boat together and they will never be too far for me to paddle towards. I know they will paddle towards me in return. I am in no hurry and I am not one to wait around either. Everything happens, all good and bad, when the world wills it to happen. I cannot control it, so until the end I will enjoy every step, every laugh, every chest pain and every last splash of water into my boat, no matter who is sitting beside me.

Friends who love like that are hard to find, but they are out there and it can make you feel like the world will shake beneath your feet, and if you feel it…

You’re right.

Here is something that I did with my friend, I hope you enjoy it.

Doki Doki Literature Club: [Ep. 1] – Let’s Play a horror inducing dating simulator.

Not into video games? How about this then?

Conversations With Machines

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“There are things in the twilight that trace the terraces of turmoil.”

“Did your father die, or was he artificially constructed?”

“You already knew the answer, why did you ask?”

 

Have you ever pondered things you already know the answers to? For example, things like how much time you spend a day, how long it will take you to fall asleep, when you will be off the clock at work, how long it will take to brush your teeth? How many lightbulbs are in your home, transistors in your computer?

Some of these things may be a mystery to you. I don’t know how many transistors are built into my PC, nor do I really need to in this moment.

I often come to my own headspace and question thinks I already know. Why I am continuing to write in an uphill climb some days, beating my brows out just to get words onto the page. I question some days why I get out of bed, it would be so much easier to stay, wouldn’t it?

Of course it would but that is not what we are alive for.

There will always be things we will never understand. In some cases, those things can even be our own motives and ideas. I urge you to consider the reasons you do things. The reason you think, act, move, work, all of them are instituted with great purpose. You breath carries a weight behind it more valuable than gold. So I pose the question today:

Do you know why you are here? If not, it isn’t something to fret over. I have many friends who don’t understand their purpose and don’t know what it is they were created for. All of us must find those things in our own time, with our own chosen path that we create.

It does us no good to speak to those without answers, we must instead learn from them. It is something I’ve come to find recently, even those who don’t know how to tell you the answer to your questions will, in the least, give a clue to finding it within the way they speak or act or move or work.

Have you ever watched a dancer go about their talent without a seeming care to the rest of the world? They could dance anywhere, a stage, their own living room or the crowded streets of New York City, and yet it would still draw your attention. There is beauty in the way they move their bodies. There is a certain grace in the way public speakers shape their lips. The way passionate people operate through the stormy waters of their chosen craft is always bleeding and pouring out magic from within.

Yet, here we are, wondering what we will do next. It isn’t something to be ashamed of. I often don’t know my next move, but I am regularly working on it, because I want the feeling I feel when watching a master craftsman or a mechanic, a sweet old lady knitting a scarf, or a DJ mixing tracks to be the same feeling I send to you with the way I write.

All of us have a passion within us, some rest it deep inside out of fear or anxiety or some other motive. Others have found theirs already and are building upon them, but I can tell you from experience, there is nothing to be gained from sitting in the corners of our homes with our hands folded across our chests wondering what our purpose is.

To some, your purpose may be to divine your purpose. To understand the world around you. Others may have story pent up within them, others contain art, engineering talent, mathematics, or more. None of those things will flourish when we sit alone and wonder what to do.

The quotes at the top of this post exemplify that. I chose, as an example to have a short conversation with Cleverbot online. I wanted to give a true definition to what it is like when we answer our own questions. All three of those responses made less than no sense in accordance with the conversation, yet the bot continued it. It is a lot like that inside my own head sometimes.

I like to ask myself things, I like to wonder and I love to question, but I would be nowhere if it weren’t for the plethora of other people in my life who willingly spar words with me and question my motives. I would be nowhere without the existence of you, my friends, my family, and the numerous people on this earth who seek to challenge my way of thinking. I became a writer for all of these people and through doing so I have come to understand my passion, my purpose for life, no matter how difficult things get.

If I had spent all of my time alone, in my own mind even in a public setting I would not have reached this place and I would not be working every day to move forward to a new place. This of course, is a silly notion in itself. We are forced into social interaction at almost all hours we are not pent up at home, so this week, what I’m saying, is go outside.

Stop talking to computers or video games or books or yourself. Spend some time with your friends, enjoy dinner, and enjoy life together.

Stop talking to machines.

Stop being so hard on yourself.

All things will come in time.

 

“Pacing hallways back and forth, asking yourself questions you already have the answers to. In the end, stumbling upon something found that was never lost at all.”

Thank you for stopping by! If you like it, check it out, feel free to tell your friends and share the post. It really helps me out and I’d love you for it!

For more, you can always pick up a copy of the compilations I release at the end of every year! You can find all of them on Amazon right now for $8! If you’re in the mood to pick up some new sweaters for the cold January coming, my store on Teespring has just what you need! Batches print every 3 days, so the stock will never run out.

(One more.) If you’re interested, I have been working on Youtube under the name Dyzygy, Go check it out if you’re into video games and inappropriate comments about them.

Bad Pharaoh

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Standing above the necropolis, the great Pyramid rises out of the horizon like a fang shredding flesh from the earth itself. What was once a gilded tomb, covered in gold and meant to stand as an honor to the ego of the Pharaoh, now has fallen to pieces, barely an echo of its former glory. The remnant of a dynasty that has long since passed away. Even today, the Pyramid of Giza is considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. I’ve spoken about the Wonders before, and likely will again.

There is much that we don’t know about the history of Egypt, specifically, some of the pharaohs. What evidence and knowledge we do have is slowly being uncovered day after day by the researchers and the historians who have devoted their lives to learning.

All of those things stand well and good, but I want to talk a bit about the symbolism of pyramids and one Pharaoh in particular, in relation to how we all can be today.

The pyramids, beautiful and impressive as they are, still are a symbol to some. In the hand of those who find their knowledge and identity in speculation, they belong to aliens or the illuminati, or, for some, Jay-Z. All of those aside, the pyramids are simply put, massive tombs. Legions of dead rest in some of them, buried with their Pharaoh, if my research was done correctly, they could have been buried alive beside their kings. A final attempt to reach the afterlife with their leader. The tombs are symbolic of their ascendance into the afterlife, perhaps becoming gods or supreme beings of one kind or another. The pyramids standing as a blister that shows the imagined importance of the meek human lying within, rotting slowly with each turn of season. The Ancient Egyptians were obsessed with the afterlife, consider the structure of their mythology, the gods and how they interact with the living, the symbolism of their god of death, Anubis. Which out of the number of gods the Egyptians worshipped, seems to be one of the most popular in our lives today.

Humanity as a whole is obsessed with death.

Even in the time of Pharaohs, gods and goddesses, we have been fascinated with the possibility of death and what it is like. Why it occurs. When it happens. All of the aspects of death are impossible to obtain and then share to our information hungry society. So, many of us seek out answers through life that will satisfy our craving for the knowledge of death. We seek information and knowledge to dissolve the fear that every living, breathing being holds dearest to their hearts.

I tend not to believe those who say they are unafraid of death. I am not afraid of the afterlife, I am secure in my faith and belief. I believe I know what will come of me after I pass, but death itself, the act of passing to another realm, that terrifies me. Just like everyone else I seek out answers to satisfy and hide my fear deep within my heart.

I use these tactics by telling stories, by writing poetry, by creating music. On some deep level that I struggle with admitting, I do these things because I know that they will live longer than I will and I want what I’ve said to pass the test of time. In my own way, this blog is just one of many pyramids I am building. This blog, my novels, my relationships, my future, all of them are just tombs.

This idea, brings me to a particular Pharaoh, who I think on some level is just like you and I with more jewelry and gold trim. Amenhotep IV is regarded as the worst Pharaoh that ever ruled. Going so far as to erase names of previous rulers in favor of his own, taking the responsibility for actions he didn’t commit and I don’t mean that in the “Oh I totally stole your bike, I’ll return it.” When he obviously didn’t steal the bike.

Bicycles weren’t invented then.

The point is, more often than not I find myself thinking with the same mentality as our Amenhotep, I write the things I do because in some moments, behind a curtain where I can hide my face I begin to think I know more about life than I truly do. I have seen some horrific things in my lifetime. I have experienced a lot of death, the kind that is eternal. The death that gives you closure. I want the things that I write to stand out beyond the grip of death and give my friends that live beyond me, as well as everyone else I can touch a chance to see the world how I saw it.

This comes from the same place of desperation that our ego evolves from. Amenhotep built many things in his name, out of pride and arrogance. He wanted Egypt to worship him, even later changing his name to reflect that of a god in an effort to turn more eyes towards his false light.

I think we all do this, to one extent or another. I use my writing as a way to get people to look at me, there are so many other ways to do this, using job status, family name, wealth, looks, religion, political ideals. All of these things can turn a good leader into a terrible Pharaoh. I have spent my time as Amenhotep. I have seen the efforts of gilding my creations with my name and accolades instead of my deeds and purpose.

When Amenhotep passed away, he was buried and the succeeding line of Pharaohs spent years and years trying to undo what he had done. It’s a pretty stark reminder.

No matter how beautiful you think your world is to others, the status we keep, the money we make, the ideals we hold, none of them matter when it comes down to the wire and we are being carried into the necropolis by those that either loved us, or hated us in life. I asked myself this question the other day, and I want to pose it to you as well…

When they drop your body off beneath the pyramids you built, are those people going to leave talking about how amazing you were, how you helped those in need, how you offered a kind word or gesture to anyone who needed it, how you were the pillar for those in times of weakness, or will they spend their lives trying to erase all the damage you have caused?

It doesn’t matter how beautiful your pyramid is, one way or another tourists will show up, will the guide to your life explain how you lived with kindness and grace, or will the stories of your victories be followed by stories of greater victories by others for a greater purpose? Either way, the people will strip the gold and the limestone from the face of your pyramid and you will be none the wiser lying beneath it, dead and gone like the rest of us. Peacefully staring at the ceiling, all of the things we obtained here in this life meaningless to the clawing void of necropolis, a labyrinth for the dead.

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