I knew you first when I was 7. My folks didn’t have it in them to bring you up before that. First nightmare I ever had was about you arguing with your son over who was more famous while I hid behind a cloud. As far as I know, noticing my nudity and freaking out in my parents backyard at 2 is the very first idea I ever had. Maybe I had thoughts before that, maybe not; either way, there’s a strong chance the first intellectual thought I had on record was heart crushing shame. You let Eve feel that way in Genesis after eating the apple; you know people like us don’t stick around.
At 7, I figured you to be a wish maker. In prayer I wanted just one from of you: An extraterritorial close encounter of the first kind; the kind where you meet a wide eyed and big headed grey alien that becomes your friend and suddenly causes you to understand more than everyone you know, that kind of gift. Praying for that didn’t work and over time I reworked my prayers to become a little bit more complicated and difficult to really say for sure whether or not they were being ignored. I had a routine. First, a German prayer my Grandmother taught me, I could phonetically pronounce each word, I still can. Don’t know what I means. Then, I’d recite the Lord’s prayer before ending with a nightly improv prayer where I stressed to remember each person I wanted to remind you not to kill. Even in my single digit years that little flicker of an idea would butt in and ruin the whole thing. “This is dumb”. I’d have to start the worship over. Took me pretty long sometimes.
I spent years in a youth group. Even when they singled me out upon every announcement for a paid speaker showing up to a paid event with, “you of all people need to hear him speak”. They knew I liked to skate with kids from Ephrata, probably could tell I swore in my free time, probably could sense I was a threat to the whole youth group. You can smell that type of thing on a kid. Regardless, I lit candles for you every Sunday in front of the procession. I brought plates to tables at events. I went to the huge festivals, I learned some songs on guitar by DC Talk and Relient K even though I knew those songs had nothing to do with me.
They provided me a list of acts that would replace similar secular bands I liked but I was hardly 12 and already could sense the feeling of me intellectually betraying myself with shit like Pillar. I had already started calling bands like Deftones and Radiohead “real music”. I was that young and already sending something insidiously market driven by artists who provided me with an ideology before they even hit the first note. The thrill of figuring out whether Chino or Yorke where really psychopaths seemed like art while Pillar’s assertions of “stop complaining, move along… one nation under God, indivisible” already seemed far beneath me. To me, artists were to be surrounded by mysteries that only reading the lyrics could unveil, like a dungeon in Zelda. I wanted to figure them out like a code. I still played ball, I still went to the lock-ins and listened to my youth group blast the same P.O.D. single over and over. I heeded the advice of “indivisible” and didn’t complain once.
When the church decided it was time to build two new wings in the building, I sat through all the youth group sessions where a Vicar would encourage us to make sure our parents each remained “honest” and gave ten percent of our family’s income to the church. I disregarded my cries of “bullshit” and kept my mouth shut. Besides, my Mother’s best friend was leaving her son with us every day during work, Sunday school was the only time I got to see him on the weekend; it was the closest I ever had to having a brother.
When you watched him and Chris die alongside some of my classmates, I always wondered why you let me just show up minutes afterwards. I wondered why you let the scene get so bloody, why you let the motorcyclist’s 14 year old daughter soar over 100 ft. I wondered why you let me ask my friends to walk with me to an abandoned hotel, why you let me drive home early from the beach. We were right fucking there, man. That was a bullshit move. Either way, my doubts were eliminated for a short time, you had my full attention as a son. I didn’t cry at the funeral as decided to let the church build the new wings without me ever setting foot in there again. When your people started reaching out to me, they made me miserable; I wasn’t so naive to remain unaware of my vulnerabilities. I had outgrown your believers, at least the ones I knew. It was the closest I got to you.
As for my friend, I actually saw him at the beach two days prior, got a chance to say I was sorry for not keeping in touch. Not sure if you were around for that one but these days I’d like to think that one was my own dumb luck. Hope you don’t mind my keeping the credit for that one.
I started reading your book on my own, without the guidance of a youth leader. I liked idea that the bible was an allegory about manhood and the architecture for the most incredible love story ever; a man that would be tortured to death for the one he loved, no questions asked. I wanted a love like that more than anything. Not with you, though. Sorry. I wanted to fuck, too, and I wanted someone who felt the same way I did. I didn’t want someone who could read my thoughts. Besides, you watched your son get tortured to death. Dogs make better fathers than that. The resentment was definitely there, I figured you’d understand.
I decided to see what some of your rivals taught: I took classes in religion, I read about Hinduism, about Buddha, about Islam, they each seemed sort of different, sort of similar. Emulated a feeling of smartness while deep down, over and over again, “This is dumb”. Sometimes I hated myself when the kids on tour prayed for me, asked me to profess with them as I uneasily assured them of “my beliefs”. My anxiety asked me over and over if I really felt superior in some way; what an asshole I was becoming.
Their belief was always a little intoxicating; I could hide in it. When we woke up in a Spanish household, and their father “free’d out a preach” for us in nothing but briefs, I really did think you were there with us. Within a day, a youth group leader invited us to check out his churches new sound system and flat screen tv’s and I wondered why you didn’t just cook the power in the room and ruin it all just to fuck with them.
Anyway, you probably remember the first time that I accidentally told someone how I really felt. She didn’t even say much, she just kept me on the phone and asked me over and over to explain my beliefs, patiently listening to my unspecific ramblings about a power higher than me, my hopes, the way things “should” be. I fucked up in what I said, total accident.
"I pretend I believe in it because maybe it’ll make me happy again."
She was the first person to hear me cry in a long time. After all, I was holding the smoking gun. Lying to you, calling you dumb, that was one thing. But shooting you dead? I decided not to tell my friends. They could smell it on me, the monster I was. A fucking father killer. I kept self-asserting my new responsibilities to be more just and honest, that I had only one chance to get this shit right.
All the while my favorite believers got disinterested real quick. No more bonfire type shit, no more pumpkin smoothies at the coffee place in groups of 15 and up. You must have been the one who told them, I sure as hell didn’t.
And look, I get it. The world they see isn’t wiring through the lake of bullshit I’ve populated inside my own mind. I accept they are all just as right or wrong as I am, in their own universe. I often respect them, sometimes envy them, always miss them, I’m just not family anymore. To them, you are everything. And that’s good enough for me to have been meeting with you, missing you, wanting to bring you back just so I can put you down again. I’m starting to think that time could be a little bit better spent.
I never respected the tales of your jealous love; what a weakness. It drove you to want rent in our heads, to keep us worrying over the quality of our thoughts. You had me spending two decades of my life thinking about you, theorizing about you, all while I could have been busy elsewhere. Tell me that’s not an abusive relationship. The desire to control others and their thoughts disgusts me and I will not empathize with it. Should I have children, I refuse to let them spend their happiest years worrying over what you may or may not think. They will be free of you unless they choose otherwise. Won’t be up to me. They also won’t get nailed to anything.
I think my “faith with a purpose!” friends avoid me because somewhere deeply buried in the midst of their rhetoric I’m not a dip in the hat anymore. That’s fucked up. They can say “misguided” or “unwise” to their hearts content, say I’ve changed, say they need to spend their time around people more “uplifting”.
Some hurt keeps us focused.
I’m not going to feel guilty when they ask anymore, I deserve the right to feel pride in my beliefs just as they do. And I refuse to think they’re wrong. In their world, you exist. I’m willing to believe our worlds are all vastly different. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking on it: I have as much of a chance of taking you from them as they have recreating you in mine. I’m 27 and I’m no longer willing to entertain the idea that the very core of my reality is going to be amended by another human being. You’re free to talk to me about it but I’m not going to sit and meditate until I hallucinate over it. Sometimes, I wonder if I’d be happier pretending to be yours again, if I’d get all those friends back. If I could work at their ministries, join in on the wealth they seem to have in common with each other. Making promises to yourself can be a bitch sometimes.
I’m still going to keep that German prayer my Grandmother taught me. As I watch her mind slip away over an entire decade, I decided it’s truly too beautiful to ever learn in my own tongue. I’ll keep repeating it when the anxiety attacks happen, if you don’t mind.
“I am losing precious days. I am degenerating into a machine for making money. I am learning nothing in this trivial world of men. I must break away and get out into the mountains to learn the news.”—John Muir (via in-to-the-wilderness)
When in doubt, tea. When happy, tea. When cold, tea. When sad, tea. When sick, tea. When no inspiration, tea. When have to leave bed, tea. When supposed to be doing homework, tea. When scheming to take over world, tea. When summoning minor demon, tea. When accidentally starting apocalypse, tea.
Hate that I have to write about this subject here and pollute my otherwise rather upbeat & chirpy young blog page but after failing to fit what I wanted to say within the confines of a tweet I’ve decided to ventilate here instead.
As of today we all feel pure abhorrence for Ian Watkins and the ‘mothers' involved in the horrible stories coming out of his trial. (I use speech marks around the word 'mothers' here as we must ask the question do these women still qualify to be labelled as 'mothers'? Surely with their disgraceful actions they have rid themselves of the title of a female harbourer of young human life.)
But instead of the immature calls for death wishes I see disseminate through twitter can we not please focus our efforts on coming out of this dismal situation in a direction that would benefit society?
With his death, all we would see would be a simple case closed; end of; “the cunt got what he deserved” kind of thing. I.e. No one would objectively benefit from this situation. What we CAN do however, (yes, whilst locking him away) is psychologically analyse the man thoroughly to seek some answers as to how and why a human can comfortably commit such atrocities. Was it not just a cocktail of drugs but also perhaps some childhood trauma that brought on the propensities for a man to act like this? Causality must be taken into account and examined rigorously. Simply, we must find out what makes a human act this way. The more empirical evidence gathered on this subject the closer we can become in preventing further similar cases.
If our prison systems concentrated on gaining knowledge about the human condition and the human mind we might be able to stop cases like these happening in the future. (because whether we like it or not this is not some isolated case)
Future prevention > simple ‘justice’ or ‘vengeance’.
But if you’re one of the troglodytes calling for him to be hung or given lethal injection I’m sure this will all go over your head anyway.