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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Have you ever done something knowing that action was correct, but at the same time were completely aware opening your mouth could have a pretty significant backlash?  Hello, I am about to do that because, well, I seem to be doing that fairly often, so keeping with the theme seems like a good idea. A bit.

I am going to tell you a little about the world I come from, but do not assume I am going to enter into a closed-minded tirade of any sort as this is applicable to most positive motivations in life.  Growing up in church, we were told to "Spread the Good News", reach out to the community, draw people into Christianity, so forth and so on.  As a Christian, the Bible tells us to convert people, or at least take a pretty good stab at it ("stab" not being the best choice of word, but moving on).  With this idea in place, my church did some things from my childhood to teenage years that seemed normal enough to me as an effort to make this happen.  Just to give you a few examples over a two year stint: A group of us walked around a neighborhood and invited people to church, about twenty of us walked down a very busy street playing guitars and singing hymns,  that same group also went to the fair that year and handed out little "tracts" (papers with scripture on them) to random strangers, and we had these t-shirts made up with a logo and "inspirational" saying printed on them that was styled after the John Deere logo and slogan, which I actually designed and still have one of.  Now,  to a church person or someone who grew up within a Christian church, all of this seems run-of-the-mill-normal, and chances are those same people have done similar things at some point.  There is a problem...  While all of this seems fairly typical and like a great idea to Christians, those who are not Christians generally find it all completely insane; in a bad way.

I did not realize how the rest of the world looked at the actions of those with similar beliefs to mine until I spent about a year away from the church.  You see, growing up in the church, I always heard some of the congregation talk about how Muslims were strange because of their daily prayer rituals, or how Catholics were off because they prayed to saints instead of directly to God, and until I stepped away I was, ashamedly, on the same page with those making such comments.  After spending that time away from the church and most of the people in it, I started thinking about how crazy the evangelical Christian people looked to even me;  someone who grew up thinking it was all normal.  

Now, I get it, I spent five years of my life in Seminary, I know Hermeneutics, Greek Interlinear makes sense to me, and I had a GPA to back all of that up;  so I know that Christians are supposed to spread the love around in such a way that people are drawn to them almost magnetically.  But, if the evangelicals would take a step back and look at how most of the world views their attempts at converting people or reaching out, they may all realize why it is not really working.  Hey, I was one for most of my life and happened to run away from the church but still kept my faith intact while most others leave their beliefs sitting in the pew.  I left the church, but I did not leave God behind.  Yet, I had a moment where I was at the fair (the same, yearly one as I mentioned earlier) two years ago when some preacher tried to hand me a Bible while saying "Son, leave the life you live, the tattoos, and sinning behind you.  Repent and be saved."  It took everything in me to not give him a little lesson in Theology and explain that the tattoo he made reference to was none other than a first-century translation of the name of not only his God, but mine as well.  Instead, I just went on my way and brushed him off as a disconnected lunatic.  

All evangelicals are not like this, I know that.  The outreach things I did as a younger man were not quite as extreme as the Bible-thumper in the suit at the fair, but for those who were not brought up around that environment... they could feel much differently than I do.  And is that not the point of anything where you are attempting to make a difference?  Anyone who has a good motive to do good things or make a positive impact must have a presence that anyone can relate to.

Allow me to give you another example.  Certain groups of people are making a big push to legalize marijuana on a federal level and as far as I am concerned, well, I am not concerned, nor does either option bother me at all.  These people are not making much progress and part of their problem is perception.  The only people I see fighting for marijuana legalization are exactly the same people who fit the pot-head stereotype.  (Maybe more professional examples exist, but I have not seen any;  which could just be the media throwing a blanket over reality, but we still do not see them if they are out there.)  Most people cannot relate to the stereotype they see, so they do not pay attention to whatever those pushing for the legislation have to say.  Again, I could not care less if weed gets legalized or not, but I know the marketing for the cause is not effective and the mark is being missed across the board.  The powers that be are not taking the effort seriously, nor are the people the supporters are looking to influence.

This idea follows anything and many more programs or movements would do much better for their cause if they found a way to appeal to everyone without looking like they have a few screws loose.  Anyone heading up a cause with the intention of reaching out beyond their own niche or circle should probably think about the way the public views them.  I know that we are not supposed to really care about how other people perceive the way we look or act to a certain extent, but let me pose a question.  If you were shopping for a brand new BMW and one dealership had a coffee bar and salespeople wearing suits who were properly groomed, while the other dealership across town had dirty bathrooms and chain-smoking salespeople wearing dirty t-shirts, which one would you find more appealing?  They are both selling for the same cause, and both have a similar pricing structure on their cars...That would be a no-brainer.  

This is how the general public decides upon becoming involved.  They need a common denominator and something they can relate to in order to give commitment or support.  Any of this can be applied to religion, non-profit organizations, fund raisers, business marketing, anything.  Being selective within your consumer/support market for whatever your venture is comes down to personal choice.  You will never be able to sell a dump truck to an attorney, but as far as causes go and good things that people believe in are concerned, they can be tweaked in a way that the public will accept them without losing the identity and personality lying at the core of their movement.  Our families and our friends know us personally and are very aware we are (mostly)  not crazy, so they will usually support our motives within reason;  complete strangers can easily walk away.  Maybe those of us who are pushing to make change should step back for a minute and ask how we look to the general public or inquire a few strangers to be honest and tell us what they think.  Crazy does not cause change,  crazy does not sell anything, crazy hinders progress.

At one point, I lived the role of crazy.  
Two entire decades later, I opened my eyes.
Think it over before people start ignoring and you miss your target.
I am not giving a solution to anything though;  I simply found the kink in the hose.

Grace and Peace,

The lyrics in the title of this blog came from this song:

Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Millennial Meltdown. Part 5 - Male Edition

Dear God, another preface...  I have to, I just do.  My choice to preface is not for my regular readers and subscribers, but for those who may stumble upon my blog from a Google search.  I form my blogs around thought-provoking questions that cause open discussion.  Anything I say is not judging anyone intentionally.  Now, shall we move on?

Late last night when I was trying to sleep, I started thinking and kept myself awake much too long; just as I am doing right about now.  My thoughts compounded, then carried over to today and concern a subject matter about what my gender has evolved to exactly. 
Case in point, this:
Have you ever seen the movie "A Christmas Story"?  The father (who's name is never actually mentioned in the film) takes pride in being able to change a flat tire on his car in record time.  The movie taking place in the 1940's shows a pretty great reality of the mindset of men at the time;  a problem arises, they fix it.  The picture above is my car on a Sunday afternoon, in a parking lot.  Yes I timed how long it took me to change said tire, and I checked in around eight minutes from flat to back on the road.  After running at the park, I went back home and patched the faulty tire myself.  After that day a few months ago, I began thinking about how I do not know many men within my age demographic who have even the slightest clue about how to change a flat tire.  They would rather not get a little dirt on their hands but instead call Roadside Assistance and wait an hour for someone else to do the job for them.  Then I started asking questions...

I went to a restaurant to get an unbiased opinion.  What?  Yes, because if you are going to harass someone with stupid questions, why not let it be a server at a restaurant.  No, I am not kidding.  This server's name is Meghan and I had talked to her a few times prior so she knows I write blogs, and I cleared it with her before asking.  She is an attractive woman in her early twenties, I assume is in college, or is at least within the age range. Asking that question would have helped.  Whoops.

What I did ask her was related to masculinity and whether or not a man's ability to fix things or problem solve in real-life situations was attractive to her.  Being in the Atlanta suburbs, I did not expect to hear the answer she gave me as I assumed women were looking for the guy with a big bank account, free-spirit, or whatever else who pay someone else to fix their issues for them, but that is not what she told me.  As far as Meghan was concerned, she felt a sense of comfort, security, and attractiveness in men who possess the ability of fixing things themselves.  Her own words told me that being able to do so was "part of being masculine" and "a part of being a man".

My friend Katie and her boyfriend had walked in earlier, inadvertently sitting next to me, so I asked them the same question.  She confirmed the same things Meghan had told me, also saying her boyfriend had those qualities.  Apparently after dating some of the helpless men-types before him, she was now much happier.  Then he chimed in with "I would rather change a tire than a diaper."  Which made me realize he did, in fact, know how to do both.  Touche.  The question floated around to one more server and she confirmed the same thing about her boyfriend, who was oddly enough a good friend of mine in high school.  Weird.

What I am wondering is when we, as men, decided that an inconvenient instance was only to be solved by bringing someone else in to fix the problem for us, even if the task was relatively simple?  Maybe I am biased because of my learning nature.  What I mean by this is that I hate giving up on anything and I will beat myself to death trying to find a solution to my inconveniences which stem from previous "convenience".  

When my seventy-eight year old uncle and I were talking about tools a few weeks ago, he said "When I was growing up, we didn't take stuff to the shop to get it fixed, we fixed it ourselves.  If we needed a tool and didn't have it in the barn, we made it ourselves."  This is the same man who told me the story about hoisting an engine out of a car with a rope draped over the limb of an oak tree; and the same I admire so much for the tenacity you find in mostly men of his age, and not mine.

I think that maybe, somewhere along the way, most of us decided we would rather learn all we wanted to know out of a book, or be told by someone of experience in the subject while sitting in a classroom chair.  Application no longer became necessary and we stopped thinking for ourselves.  Maybe our survival instincts are waning in light of continual advances in technology,  I am not sure.  I hear the excuse of "I wasn't brought up around that sort of stuff."  But, for me, it all comes back to thinking for yourself and your own determination or hunger to learn things you do not know.

Maybe we have just lost the desire to help ourselves and became dependent in the process.  Once we hit that point of getting our degree or settling for some aspect of life, we also hit the wall and stop wanting to gain useful or applicable knowledge.  Some of us could rattle off the stats from the top picks in the NFL Draft last year, but have no idea how to change a car tire or change a light fixture in our house.  

Men in the past would learn new skills and become self-educated out of necessity.  
Men of today would rather spend fifty dollars for someone else to do a remedial task for them than learn something new, interrupt the football game on television, or hinder their time playing Call of Duty.

Somewhere along the line we stopped being proactive and stopped doing things for ourselves.  
At some point we stopped paying attention and started being helpless.
Problem-solving and the need to educate ourselves to reality is falling away from us.

Am I perfect?  Not at all, but I refuse to be the type who thinks doing tasks for myself is somehow beneath me.  I refuse to stop learning.  I could probably spend my days doing nothing but playing guitar and convincing myself of how awesome I am, but doing so is fruitless and would numb my brain too much.
Never take the easy steps away from a challenge.
Be a man...

Grace and Peace,

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Men Have An Obligation...

*I wrote this as a Facebook Note and wanted to integrate those previous posts into my blog. So, if this seems familiar, that is why.*

    Honor, dignity, helpfulness, chivalry. But first, a quick and true story to get the ball rolling.  Maybe two months ago I was taken aback by an event that some of you may have read on my Facebook status. I was on my way to work and stopped for a drink at a gas station near my house, just like any other day. There was a woman walking from the gas pumps to the store, probably about twenty steps behind me. When I arrived at the door, I waited for a few seconds and looked back at her before holding it open and allowing her to enter the store before I did. When I stepped inside, she was somewhat staring at me as if she had something to say; and she did.  "I bet you pull chairs for women too, don't you?" My reply: "Yes, ma'am. I do." She followed with "If I didn't have a husband, I would marry you today."  Now, the funny thing is that I do have quite a bit of self confidence, but being vain is a foreign concept to me; however, this particular woman would not have been on my radar for a few reasons, the largest of which is age. I was just doing what I consider proper.
     Sure, a woman can open her own doors and I know the majority are perfectly capable of doing so. I am also well aware that a small fraction of women prefer you not do such things, as they find it offensive and as a sign of dominance. The latter idea, however, has nothing to do with the reason I keep my chivalrous nature, as I have no personal sense of brutish empowerment by doing so. The reason I hold even women I do not know in such high regard and enjoy doing little things for them is simple. Without them, none of us would even be here, now would we?  
     Believe it or not, over the course of many decades of men slacking and failing to appreciate the opposite sex, women have come to no longer expect chivalrous actions from us.  What was wrong with doing so? Why did it stop? Point blank: Men are pretty rude. Now, I could go into a long tirade about my gender and point my finger in my own face about certain aspects and behaviors of the modern man, but I would rather focus on where we are right now. As with anything relating to social activities, some habits and expectations just die off slowly over a period of time, some with good reason, while others should have lasted.
     Realistically, finding a man who will do something as simple as holding a door for a woman really is not that hard a task, you just have to meet the criteria of being "worthy" of their attention.  If you are really good looking, super old, dressed provocatively, or in the early stages of dating, you are more likely to have a man hold a door for you. Well, that is just so sweet. Those men feel motivated to show a chivalrous lie in the hopes of making themselves look good or getting something in return.  If you were to put an average looking or middle aged woman in the same scenario, most of those same men would have no motivation to show their "respect" in that way.  Being selective with an act that should be genuine and unbiased?  That is not something I want to be a part of.
      I know few men who will hold a door for any woman, regardless of age, appearance, race, weight, or whatever defining characteristic you can think of.  I know far less who will open and close a car door for a woman (every time). We can go farther and say that I know barely any men who find it proper anymore to have a woman walk ahead of him in public unless he is leading the way specifically. (Side by side, or her one stride ahead of you, fellas. If your great grandfather saw you walking ahead of a woman without reason, he would punch you in the mouth.) 
      What about me?  I am not boasting of myself or trying to inflate my ego, but I can honestly say I implement all of those acts in my daily life. Why, you ask? My simple answer is because I think it is the proper thing to do. Chivalry is a very old concept that has been lost over time, and very few care to bring it back. Doing so, for me, has nothing to do with thinking males are the superior gender, but it has everything to do with showing honor and appreciation to women.  Maybe one day I'll have the chance to lay my coat over a puddle and not think twice about doing so...(If you don't understand that reference, I'm afraid it is far too late for you.)

Grace and Peace,

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/drew.silvers
YouTube:  http://www.youtube.com/drewcoustic
Email:  drewcoustic@gmail.com

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Let Me Set Your Soul On Fire Tonight...

When I was fifteen years old, I picked up a guitar and made a real attempt to play it.  A few years prior to that I had a guitar as well, but cared nothing about actually learning anything about music.  Something changed at that point, as you can tell, because everything you see in the picture above belongs to me, other than the blue acoustic in front;  you could say I became obsessed.  After playing guitar for a while, I began writing lyrics and an overflowing notebook exists at my house that is full of nothing but a decade's worth of songs in various stages of completion.

There was a time, as I have written about before, when I had a chance to stick my foot in the door with that catalog of original music and lyrics, but I left the whole idea behind me with good reason.  Some things never change, and besides that two years I spent in a self-induced dark place, I have continually written lyrics as they pop into my head, in the same was as I write my blogs.  I come across people all the time who say "Yeah, I write music/lyrics/stories all the time, but nobody ever reads them because I don't think they are good enough."  Those are the people who are either fishing for praise when you coax them into letting you read their stuff, those who have no confidence, or they actually believe the cannot write.  None of these are me. 

When I write lyrics, I write them as a way to clear my head or transcribe a lingering thought into reality.  Sometimes I do write them about other people and share with those very few who are in the subject matter, but overall most of these live on my hard drive or scribbled down on a piece of paper; most of them have actual music I have added in as well.  What do I do with them?  Nothing.  For me writing lyrics and music is a sincere and actual moment of clarity.  Most of the time when I write an entire song it will never again resurface, because for me that whole process served it's purpose on my end.  Personal expression that you keep on a personal level can move mountains in your own mind.  Try it sometime.  

I have written lyrics and contributed suggestions to quite a few of my friends who either do music as a hobby, in different facets of the public eye, or professionally, and I love that.  My own original writing, however, stays mostly unseen just because that was not the reasoning behind writing it in the first place;  for me, this has been a personal or relational exercise since I turned down a potential opportunity when I was nineteen years old and have not looked back...until now...  I am going to throw a few of those songs and lyrics I have written onto my blog occasionally for no reason other than wanting to share a bit and after realizing they can all be read as poems and still somewhat make sense. 

Like my stuff or hate it, either is fine with me.  But remember, if I die, there is a massive notebook full of similar things lingering around in my house somewhere to either be found or pitched away.

Here is one I wrote and added to my notebook yesterday:
 Just Ask
Ask me what I'm thinking
I'll tell you half what's on my mind
Jump up on the surface
Discover something to define
Hot days or cold nights
Shadow, cloak and life hidden
Sticky sweat to lifetime
No clue who or what's beginning
Moon shines bright
Glare down in those green eyes
Reflections of tonight
In my mind live forever defined
Sometimes I wonder off-time
If the struggle's really worth the fight
Can't see, can't breathe
Tomorrow's so far not in sight
We're all there
We're all there
We're all there
You may not see it, but we're all there
Imaginations of today
Tales of impossible dreams
Take it all as given to you
Lost to leave, love or need
Sink and swim at the same time
Drops in the bucket don't matter
Lies of the bad, truth of the good
They say "Don't worry it gets better."
That plan, smile, the look
Still in the deepest shade of green
Across the room or right beside
Small moments mean everything
Grace and Peace,

The lyrics in the title of this from are from this song:

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Millennial Meltdown. Part 4...

Generational change;  this is where the series continues and I will first start with a little personal story about my childhood that nobody has ever heard before.  

When I was a toddler, I went to preschool and I really do not know if that process helped anything because there is not much of substance I remember about it.  After that process I began going to primary school and I was introduced to a word that confused me for many years to come:  respect.  This is the same exact word I have been writing about for the majority of this series, but to be completely honest, I did not know the exact definition of it until I was about twelve years old.  

Respect was one of those words I understood somewhat because after hearing it in context numerous times, I began putting the pieces together, but it was not until I was about twelve years old that I took the time to actually look it up in a dictionary.  You see, when I was a kid, my parents and family put a great deal of effort into making sure my sister and I were brought up with high morals and understood the proper way to treat people.  We were shown how to live our lives in a relevant way without attaching any sort of defining words to those actions.  As far as I was concerned, our actions were not a part of any terminology, but just something we did, if that makes any sense.  Over time, I figured out there were many people all around me who were brought up in much different environments where the same morals were not applied as a part of their existence.  This has a point, stay with me...

Regardless of what situation we are reared into, there is still a natural, human desire to have respect for someone else;  at least, I feel that way.  Anyone who has a solid mental stability does not desire to hurt people instinctively from the point of birth, but to grow into life alongside others.  This happens in every other part of nature, so why would we be any different?  Somewhere along the line, our visions and expectations can become skewed, however, and the negative actions of those surrounding us can lead to our own actions changing in the same way, which also spreads the same idea to others.  After a while and with enough exposure, those actions become more and more accepted as justified over the span of generations.  

When television first came into existence, there was no question of anything vulgar showing up on the screen in your home while your children watched;  this just did not happen.  Then someone pushed the envelope to test the limits of censorship one time.  After that point the reserve factor of television shows has been continually stretched over time and still is to this day.  This is the exact same principle behind anything else in life.  With time, actions which were not accepted in the past slowly creep into the mindset of being tolerated, and eventually accepted by most of the public.  The concept of respect and what it actually means has been evolving exactly the same way for generations now and we are at the point of being entirely selective with the parameters of the word's actual meaning.

When one generation sets a certain level of tolerance, the following generation always takes it a step further, and to the following, and the cycle continues.  Sometimes this can be for good reasons of accepting certain issues that were looked down upon previously, but the negative examples tend to be much more prominent and defined.  Fifty years ago, tattoos were not tolerated by the majority of people and now they are.  I love tattoos and have four myself, so this is a good example of tolerance.  The person who gets a profanity-laden tattoo across his stomach, on the other hand?  That is subject to scrutiny and goes back to our selective attributes of respect for other people because of it.  Hey, I am guilty of of sneering at something like that in private.  We all are, but there are other people out there who would tease, mock, or intentionally anger this person publicly as well, which is an even worse reality to behold.

Should I start a movement to protect people from being publicly judged and scrutinized because of their questionably-chosen tattoos?  No.  The problem still lies at it's very core as having respect for someone else.  The person with the vulgar tattoo somewhere in their life most likely developed issues with their self-respect and made a questionable tattoo choice, which became other people not having respect for him/her because of that choice.  See?  Everything has a line of successive reaction.  Everything starts somewhere.

Well, what is my point in saying all of this?
How do we fix this?
Simply put, everyone has flaws and everyone has moments of their respect levels for other people slipping.  Unfortunately, this is the world we currently live in and is a necessary evil for survival as well as being part of the psyche we have developed over many years of trial and error concerning what is and is not acceptable by our society.  We are all a product of an increasing thick skin necessity that began a very long time ago, before we were even imagined. The only way to escape any of this is through a generational change, and such a thing can happen, but this takes a commitment of more time than any of us are given individually.  

Redefining and restructuring the mindset of the current generation of Millennials is not any more possible than attempting to do the same for Generation-X;  we simply cannot be swayed in that manner.  The generation behind us now who are still in diapers are most likely on the same page, because some of them are already getting a grasp on the world surrounding them.  The only hope we have for generational change is those who follow them;  our grandchildren.  This is a slow process, but it can work if we all get on the same page and begin fizzling-out the more negative and public attributes as they pertain to a lack of respect for others.  

The Millennial generation that I am a part of is making babies, many, many babies, and my point is that we can make the world better for them than the world we grew up in; though we do not have enough time left in our lives to change it.  I am not saying we should shelter them and keep them away from reality, but we can show them a more positive and respectful future than we were given.  Progress and evolution grow with time and for centuries, we have been growing in the wrong direction.  We can start the reversal with our own generation of children and maybe by the time they have children of their own, that generation will be of a more respectful mindset and want to influence for the better instead of teaching them how hideous the world is.  

This task is huge, but not impossible.  The method we use now of breaking down the concept of respect into so many different pieces and creating new sets of rules is outdated and has not ever worked effectively.  In order to make change in the future, we all need to cause change now.  As a generation, we are too far gone and set in our own personal ways to make a drastic change in ourselves without reverting back, but if we teach the next generation the positive aspects of life so that is all they know, the odds of them carrying this lifestyle to the next generation is much more likely.  

What do we all have as a way to spread the message and leave behind a better imprint?  Besides actual interaction, we have social media and we are in-tune with it; we CREATED it.  Just think that over for a moment.  Anything and everything you do online is permanent.  Privacy settings or not, by digging deep enough, if you have ever posted anything questionable on social media in the past that you are embarrassed by, it is still out there somewhere.  My own Facebook is private and has been since day one, but if I search certain terms on Google in just the right way, some of the past comments I am ashamed of or embarrassed by today do come up.  As a generation, we can do better.

The things we write now, even more importantly than the things we do now are the exact factors the next generations will use to judge us.  If we do something stupid without any witnesses, we take it to the grave;  if we do or say something stupid online, it is permanent.  By throwing away the more negative aspects, frustrations, and strong wording we have become so accustomed to posting online, we open the door to actual communication with a real person.  When someone needed to vent or get something stressful out of their system a few years ago, they had an actual person beside them to listen and show support.  Now, many of us turn our personal issues into a public forum, which makes the initial problem worse.  Those who live after us do not need to see that, our future children do not need to see that, and this is step one in reversing the problem of respect degradation in our society.  

You may think this is far-fetched and impossible, but it is not.  Think back to 1800's America when the majority of people were pro-slavery. The people of America, on their own accord, began to slowly to believe slavery was immoral until those passionate enough to want to make the change jumped in to do something about it.  A war broke out, a country was divided, but eventually we went from a country of a pro-slavery majority to a country of an anti-slavery majority.  The issues continued, and one hundred years later, The Civil Rights Movement happened so things could get better even further.  Here we are more than fifty years past that point and we are still working on making that entire situation right, but we are getting closer and have not given up.
This entire chain of historical events was not about creating rules to help people, but instead to break every rule in order to do so.  Think about that.

The point of all of this is that if we want to cause a generational change, we can; and we have before.  But we need to stop breaking down the main issue into so many different sub-headings as a way to create rules and restrictions.  By starting at the core of the problem and making an effort to have a positive impact on the next generation, they can follow suit with enough of an initial push by us, but we must start somewhere...  

Let us not make the issue more complicated that it has to be.

Continued in Part 5...

Grace and Peace,

Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Millennial Meltdown. Part 3...


Millennials having an obsessive connection to the word "awkward" seems fairly justified to me.  Social connections and their ever increasing ease of use have made most of us very socially awkward.  I have said this many times, but I believe the more connected we are to our digital surroundings, and the more the entire world is at our fingertips, the more disconnected we become as people.  What we seem to be missing here is the concept of social values.  Technology and everything else entailed with it has put us in a world never before seen, nor imagined as possible.

Everything we do as a generation has "social" ties if we so choose to take part, and honestly, most of us do.  We can tell anyone in any country that we just ate a burrito, or "check in" at an auto shop while we are getting the oil changed in our car; we broadcast pictures of our food, we take "selfies", and we express our momentary thoughts online in an effort to sound profound or educated more-so than to be inspiring.  Yet, for some reason, we are still making an attempt to correct social issues by way of creating or attempting to enforce sets of rules.  Why?  Placing restrictions upon people has worked in history a total of zero times,  but we are still trying to implement this method.

Have you ever heard the phrase "You're doing it wrong?" because we really are a shining example of those words in action.  Maybe I am being harsh, but give me a second to explain myself.  

We love a good, emotional high and love thinking we are doing something great in whatever actions we have recently embarked upon.  When I was a kid, I would see people come into my church and get all hyped up in the moment, tell the congregation they had changed and they were going to live their life for the greater good from that point forward.  Sometimes after a matter of months, or sometimes after a matter of years the majority of them disappeared and went back to exactly the same place they were in before the supposed enlightenment or even to a place much worse.  Stepping away from the religious aspect, criminals who spend a few years in jail tend to become reformed while incarcerated and do well for a varying amount of time after being released on parole, but the majority end up going back to crime or returning to jail.  Why is this?  Simply put, people do not like rules if they were not brought up to maturity with a clear understanding of why they exist in the first place.  Still, some do understand the implications and purpose of rules, but see them broken so often by those they look up to that they assume such things no longer apply.  Being the "good kid" for a time and having a sense of momentary enlightenment makes anyone feel like they are on top of the world, but invariably, most cannot upkeep this lifestyle since the whole process is largely foreign to their psychological development.  

Think back to primary school and how we were taught the principles of respect and giving, but by the time we became teenagers, those concepts began to slack off and we were given the excuse of it being a "phase" or "growing up" but rarely does anyone grow out of this lifestyle once we venture into it.  With age comes that pivotal time frame where the concepts we were taught as children are either still implemented in our lives or entirely rejected.  The scary part about this happening is that even the negative aspects of our new personalities are accepted because so many adults act in the same exact way.  What?  Those same people, those same mentors, those same teachers who taught us the values of respect, sharing, compassion, and decency do not practice any of it themselves?  Some do, but many do not;  at least not in their private lives.

Overall, I am not speaking about anything religious, sheltered, or biased.  Agree with me on one thing, if there is nothing else you can agree upon with me concerning the values above, you must be able to believe that every person needs to know and practice having respect for others.  Every other issue we can consider within any facet of social interaction as a whole comes right down to the principle of respect.  One topic, one mindset, one simple concept.  Respect.

You may want to get out your scissors because I am about to put my umbrella over everything social and give all of us Millennials a hard dosage of truth;  you may want to destroy it.  Just like I said, we can put respect as the main issue over human decency, tolerance, rudeness, bullying, ego trips, or any slew of similar actions.  Every generation before us has tried to tackle social issues individually and create causes and awareness about every one of them on a personal level while missing the big picture entirely; and we are following suit.  The problem is that by breaking down the attributes of the core issue into so many different puzzle pieces, we are creating rules.  People hate rules.

Mankind has been creating rules since the beginning of time and we have not stopped.  The problem with compounding rules set more and more heavily, generation over generation, is that more and more people find ways to skew or defy them; because they are new and because they demand a rapid lifestyle change.  Just like I said earlier, nobody is a fan of personal submission enough to actually enjoy being told what to do.  Sure, we can jump on the bandwagon of an emotional high when confronted with a sad story about why which ever social issue on the table should make us want to change our ways.  The problem is once the high wears off and we come back down to reality, we find ways to justify throwing away the rules we swore to uphold.  Think that over.  I will be the first to say I have done exactly that in my life numerous times.  Consider when someone disappointed you in a deep manner and what unwritten rules of decency within the situation were broken by them as the underlying cause.  We all do this; continually.  We are all guilty.

Every single social problem we have is rooted in one, singular life attribute we do not follow closely enough:  respect.  Instead of tackling our ever-increasing social issues one little piece at a time and creating more and more rules we are expected to adhere to as a way to make change and a better world, why would we not tackle everything as a whole and fix the ENTIRE issue instead of making life even more complicated and confusing?

We can, and I want to tell you how.
I will explain everything in detail in the next blog because I have made this one long enough as it is.
Nothing that impacts the world as a whole has a quick fix.
However, time can be helpful if enough of the world believes positive changes can be made.

Continued in Part 4...

Grace and Peace,

Saturday, June 22, 2013

A Blog For My Mother...

This is a pictorial journey for you to behold.
My mother's car had a starting issue and after running a few tests, I figured out the problem and fixed the car for her, saving a $400 labor charge.  I took pictures of the process and put it in terminology she or anyone not fluent in cars would be able to understand.
You are welcome...

This is the engine:

This is the throttle body:

These are the air-vortex-sucky-tubies:
You must remove them to get to the twirly-motor-cranky-thingy I replaced.  You have to take caution when you remove this because that is where tornadoes are made.  If you are not careful in this step, your entire town could be leveled within a matter of minutes...

Whew!  The tornadoes did not escape:

We have arrived at our destination.  
The twirly-motor-cranky-thingy:
This part works alongside the tornadoes in the air-vortex-sucky-tubies to give them more momentum as they travel through your engine.  Have you ever wondered why you have exhaust coming out the back of your car?  Those are the dead tornadoes after they have been all used up.  Sad, huh?

Oh, look, I removed the twirly-motor-cranky-thingy!  It was in that empty hole on the right side, but you must put the new one in quickly because that goes straight to the third realm of hell.  The demons cannot escape, but they will reach out the hole and try to steal your tools.  Again, use caution.

I installed the new twirly-motor-cranky-thingy without having any tools stolen.
I should probably mention what that long, golden rod above it is.  That is your "beating wand".  If you do happen to see a demonic appendage emerge, smacking it with the beating wand will send it right back into the hole.  Luckily, this time I did not have to use it, so I put it back where it goes.

I put the spinny-nut-holders back on the air-vortex-sucky-tubies after installing a new gasket, a few stabilizing mounts, some wire clips, a few harness connections and we are almost done:

The new, shiny black tornado-generation-tube was put on and she was back in business:

  I hope this helped some of you realize how a car's engine works and gave a few warnings of the potential tragedies you could encounter when working on one.  
Have a fantastic day!

Grace and Peace,

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Millennial Meltdown. Part 2...

Token Millennial drink.

Continued from here.

With the connections we have in this generation come expectations that were placed upon us by those who came before us.  We are taught to act in a certain way and at the same time not to settle for anything but the best in our lives.  Unfortunately, the world is not kind enough for us to live in a presumptuous bubble of a dream-world reality.  I started writing in detail for the first time during the height of Myspace popularity and carried it over to Facebook, then to the blog you are reading now.  Having a positive outlook on life was my general theme and was fairly well received by everyone until I was sent an anonymous message from someone I have most likely never met.  Anyone who follows me on Facebook or is my friend may have read this before:

"U need a realty check i dont no u, but u dont have a clue bout how life rlly works the world isnt a nice place, ppl r ******* n u cant change it sum1 like u wudnt make it far if u had com up in a place were u didnt hav evrything given 2 u. U must b a cray-z repulicin christin Go kill urself ******!!!!!"

That is supposed to be English;  I think...  But putting aside the headache spawned by having to read such a message as it was written, it did make me think a little bit harder about how people I do not know in person perceive me.  I began pondering then and even to this day am realizing how insane a succession of collectively happy notes/blogs/status updates must look to those on the outside.  People who know me on a personal level understand my character and are aware that I try not to act like a pillock, but that sometimes everyone does.  Those from the outside looking in probably do think I am insane or somewhat occult.  This is where my original idea of expectation I mentioned earlier comes from.

Sometimes we have characters that were developed due to the environment we were brought to maturity in and sometimes our characters are situational, while other times a life event is what makes up the fiber of our being.  What I have figured out is how perceived happiness and actual happiness seem to differ in very dangerous ways from each other.  You see, I personally have an outward personality with a preference for acting composed and fairly upbeat as well as positive, but I can turn that off in a split second when need be.  If someone I care about comes to me with a big issue, I will undoubtedly be their biggest defender, no matter what that entails; no question.  There are people in my life I would die for and people in my life I would go to jail for, considering the situation merits such a thing.  The issue would need to be of significance and not silly drama that will not make a difference within the next twenty-four hours, but you get my point.  I am protective when I need to be and nonchalant or a calming listener when such is within merit.  Realizing people thought I was some happy-floaty, unperceptive hippie-type made me realize I should probably begin writing in touch with reality just as much as I write about the more positive aspects of life.

I grew up around this certain person who was always happy, always joking, and always in a good mood and trying to spread it to everyone.  She was was always a joy to be around.  Encouraging, funny, and looked out for others;  that is who she was all the way to the core, or so I thought.  After more than a decade of knowing her as nothing but this incredibly, unnaturally pleasant woman to be around, for no perceptible reason, she fell apart.  This lead to me considering her situation and digging a little deeper into who she was behind the scenes of what I saw, and the breakdown began to make more sense.  The outside that I saw was a facade covering something else inside of her.  Watching someone go from one of your favorite people to an entirely depressed, completely broken down shell of their former self is devastating.   She knew that everyone had her back, but was not willing to accept anything offered.  Believe it or not, for a while she was actually dangerous to be around.  Sometimes you sense everything is happy and butterflies with a person, when it can just be a very realistic character they are playing.  Her case was pretty extreme and I am sure she had other issues lingering around besides who she wanted people to perceive her as, but it made me think about how many other instances just like this one I had been around.

Sadly, I have seen similar issues happen with other people I know, not to the point of a full breakdown as above, but for some reason those I perceive as the happiest also have the most chaos when they do finally snap.  Sure, we all fly off the handle a little every now and then, but doing so can be healthy.  From what I have noticed, however, the people who seem a little too happy also tend to be the same people who are repressing or ignoring thoughts that would be better when expelled from them somehow.  I think of an example as the college student who goes away with enough money in his college fund to pay all tuition and basic living expenses, but two years of partying, spring breaks, and meaningless spending deplete it all.  Carefree happiness over a span of four semesters quickly flipped into a panic and anger;  they are never the same person again when an instance like that happens.  

This is the rug-pulled effect.  Everything is great and life is wonderful, but once something unfavorable happens, the person cannot handle the outcome.  This happens too often and many Millennials are unprepared for how to deal with the consequences and instead shut down as a defensive avoidance.   As a generation, we are often told to run and do what we want, but I know too many who have fallen into a psychological hole because they were also not taught how to deal with the realities of life.  We were always told to follow our dreams and I agree with that entirely, considering we also keep one foot on the side of reality.  Very few of us were ever told that we should do the things we are passionate about for no reason other than passion, not for a paycheck or to be frivolous with our lives.  Occasionally, the lucky ones do get the opportunity to put their passions before their careers with a huge future ahead of them, but most are not given this gift.  Eventually, for the unprepared, the reality catches up to their dreams and they fall apart.  The latter is the effect for most I have seen, and the results are usually drastic.  The few who are strong and survivors end up doing great things and find other ways to invest their energy into something they grow to love because they are willing to be realistic with their expectations, but finding such a person is rare.  

Some of us went into the world unprepared for whatever reason that I cannot seem to place my finger upon.  Some of us saw the realities of life early on and knew that while the act of living is something to be cherished in and of itself, it is also full of potholes and setbacks we must effectively confront.  

I have found this gap and separation in my generation concerning reality and those unprepared to join us.  
Is this elementary and applicable to those who came before us?  I have no idea.  
Are we a generation of sheltered beings tended to by false impressions?  Possibly some, but not all.
 Sometimes we need to be sure that we keep our passions within our grip of wellness, to laugh, to strive about being a good person;  yet not be afraid to admit we are human while at the same time be aware and prepared for our world to fall apart at any moment.  
Would you be able to handle it?

Grace and Peace, 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The MIllennial Meltdown - Part 1

1.  This is not a blatant attack on the media.
2.  I only write as a way to ask questions and provoke thoughts.
3.  If something you read is my own opinion, I state that within the text.
4.  Enjoy your stay and leave a comment.

Human emotions hold a significant power upon us and we all allow submission because of them at one point or another.  We play games with each other.  Constantly, from the beginning of time our emotions as people have helped to control our decisions;  sometimes for good and sometimes dangerously.  People in face to face situations have been able to do this for our entire existence, then written communication became prominent and added to the distress and everything began growing as people became more and more connected to each other.  Think back to the past twenty years and how our methods of communication have changed, how rapidly we went from hand-writing letters taking weeks to be delivered to pushing a button on your phone, sending an e-mail across the globe within seconds.  This is scary to me, but a part of life I experience and accept every single day. 

 Information is everywhere and depending on your information sources, this can put our personal emotions on the line very easily.  What do I mean?  Take a look at the media, for example:  News outlets and other media try very hard to draw in their audience by engaging the public on an emotional level, first and foremost.  Sometimes the media even invents certain topics to stir the pot and keep people interested in what they have to say;  yes, I said "invents", as in entirely fabricated.  A local, Atlanta news outlet recently ran commercials for an entire week about a huge investigative story they were to broadcast concerning a brand new drug that was plaguing middle schools and killing students.  They built up a big following of curious and concerned viewers for days, and I later found out they were talking about  a form of Ecstasy called "Molly".  I am twenty-seven years old and I knew more than one kid in middle school who had done Molly back in the 1990's.  The news station's Facebook page quickly exploded with people commenting on the story saying the same exact thing I was thinking in my head and within a few hours, that link with all comments had been removed from their page.  When confronted with questions of confirmed child deaths or overdoses from the drug, the journalists kept their mouths shut and could not back up their sources.   The people who ran these stories knew exactly what they were doing when they presented this information and created days worth of commercials.  Sparking curiosity and pulling on the heart strings of the public to feel sorry for the children hopelessly addicted to this drug was their goal because it looked good for the company; in short terms, they drew an audience.  The public proved the story was not justified and their way of backing up the alleged validity was to act like they had never received the truth.  Most people who saw the story most likely still believe it and think half of the teenage population in Georgia is on a massive MDMA trip.  Great.

-Do you remember Kony 2012?  That video exploded and everyone believed it instantly because it played upon emotion.  Was the video true?  Yes, but the information was apparently dated.  The same viral video was played for a large group of the Ugandan public and they were disgusted by it.  The cause was great, but the information was not current enough to be accepted by even the same people the creator, Jack Russell set out to help.  He ended up having a mental breakdown shortly after.

-Have you heard about "Thigh Gaps?"  apparently this was another teenage epidemic according to recent news and social media.  When this topic first sprang up, I remember immediately checking out message boards and hashtags to find information because something about it did not seem right to me at the time.  What I found were more and more teenage girls who had no idea what a thigh gap was.  Now they do because someone fabricated an isolated incident and played the emotion card to make it newsworthy.  They even gave it a name.  The greatest part of this mess is how I did not bookmark my findings and there are so many websites covering how much of an issue this is that I can no longer find anything supporting my point.  Take that or leave it as you may.

-There is a big movement going on about bullying that has been gaining momentum for at least two years now.  Schools are changing their rules, so are public playgrounds, parents are in an uproar, and so are some teachers.  I want more.  I want sources before I buy into any of this (again, I am asking questions, not discrediting).  Is bullying a problem?  Absolutely, and it has always been a problem.  My research information just does not seem to match what I see on national news or on social media.  Click here to read an article on a study about school bullying and violence that shows it has been dropping across the board over the past decade for the majority of students in this country.  They cite their source and it is credible.  Where do I stand?  I have no idea;  I simply wanted to put it out there.  I was bullied as a child and I learned life lessons from it.  For me, that is where it stops. 

What do I mean by all of this?  Where the heck was I going?  This generation gets pulled in so many different directions because of the emotional plays we are fed on a daily basis.  Often times we believe the so called "facts" that are presented to us which sometimes live as lies eternally in one way or another, or sometimes make us fall into a heap of disappointment after investing mental and sometimes physical energy into a cause.  Going back fifty years, our grandparents did not have this emotional battle of people trying to convince us to think a certain way quite as heavily as we do now.  Back then, everyone trusted the journalism in the newspaper because the reporters valued their content from an informational standpoint more than one of fabrication.  News crews were not standing side by side, battling to be the first to tell the public about a water main break that affected one city block for three hours, which they then sent as an emergency notification to your smart phone.  The media had a greater sense of relevancy two generations ago and knew they had an obligation to be honest with the public.  

As a Millennial, I am wondering where this ends.  How much longer will it be before we all start to crack because the emotional toll we are put through on a daily basis compounds into something horrible?  We are all educated more than we ever have been and we are all connected to seemingly everything, even beyond the media.  This sort of stress and information overload is becoming more and more prominent. Where does it stop?  This is only a minor example scratching the surface...

Continued in Part II tomorrow...

Grace and Peace,

Monday, June 17, 2013

Decisions... We all make them and sometimes we loathe them.  Today I made a decision I should not have.  Well, actually, I made two and they were in the form of food consumption.
What in the hades is this?
This is a Cheeto's Puff.  I do not eat things like this anymore because I have been on sort of a permanent junk food sobriety for about nine months now and I feel fantastic.  But you know how it goes.  You see something you remember being yummy and want to relive it once.  No, just no.  I ate five and not only felt as if I had ingested an artificially-flavored brick, but the salt seriously hurt my tongue.
I finished my realm of fantastic choices with this.  Also a bad idea because I have this acid reflux thing that had all but subsided entirely over the course of my diet change, until today.  Something about HFCS turns my stomach into a blender of pain that puts me on the very edge of thinking the consumption of kerosene would have been a better life choice.  
If you can eat this stuff, more power to you.  For most of my life I very well could, but now?  My body would like it much more if I spent a few hours chewing on paint chips as opposed to consuming any of the above.

What the heck does any of this have to do with anything at all?  I am going back to the decisions thing I mentioned in the beginning.  I made the decision to tell you fantastic people about my self-destructive actions today and I hope it made you snicker a little, but there are times where telling others about your decisions is not the best thing to do.  

I have touched on humility before but want to give a real-world example.  Now, I do not watch the news on television with any sense of commitment, but I did catch something in passing today that bothered me.  Yesterday, there was a man and woman in a packed restaurant here in Atlanta who made the decision to pick up the tab for the entire restaurant, very clandestinely.  The couple told their server to add every bill to theirs and allow them to be anonymous through the transaction.  These two made a selfless decision to do a good deed without wanting anything in return.  They left and everything was fine until the server snapped a picture of the couple while her camera was hidden before they left.  She then contacted the news station, had an on-camera interview, and allowed the station to post the picture she had taken of the couple.  Their gesture was ruined.  Sure it still meant they did what they wanted out of the goodness of their hearts, which is wonderful, but they asked not to be exposed and their server could not even do them that request and instead had a few selfish minutes talking to a reporter on television.  Now much of Atlanta has seen the faces of the do-gooders who wanted nothing at all but to do something selfless.

Part of my simple mind tends to think that there was once a point in time where there were many people like the couple in the restaurant, but good deeds have sort of lost their merits by a lack of humility.  You see it all the time on social media "This person was in distress and I helped.  Here is how I did it!  Look at me, look at me!  Pay it forward!".  When it comes to situations like that where we give ourselves praise and look for the all important Facebook "Like" or Twitter "Retweet" for something that should have been selfless, I feel the whole intention of paying an action forward has been negated.  Maybe I am just old fashioned in that sense, I am not sure, but something seems wrong about doing that.

"Shut up!  You write blogs about what you do for people!"  Sometimes, I do mention those things, but they are in the interest of my personal beliefs and not for self-promotion or personal praise, ego boost, or anything of that nature.  If you have not taken notice, I am very vocal about being fairly hard on myself at times for not doing enough for people when I should.  My blogs and the things I say are not to lead by example, but to provoke thoughts in other people in a way to make us all breathe a little bit.  The mindset I have comes from a different decade, when bragging about being a nice person or your good deeds was not accepted because doing so meant it happened face to face; so if you did that, someone would kick your ass for acting that way...

I am not judging, you can type whatever you want just like I can;  you have that right and so do I.  Sharing such things with certain people when it makes sense within a situation is fine or when someone is proving a point.  Blasting personal acknowledgement for hundreds or thousands of people to see to garner individual praise means we should probably study our own humility a bit more deeply and exemplify positive actions because we want to.

The moral of the blog? Stay away from junk food.  My stomach hurts.

Grace and Peace,

The title of this blog came from the lyrics in this song:

Sunday, June 16, 2013

I'll Be Dancing On The Ground...

Why?  My mom reads these and I found this picture of her 
on my old motorcycle.  I thought it was funny.

Today, as my weekend comes to a close, I am going to write a short blog.  Usually, my schedule is Monday through Friday, but sometimes, as a part of my natural expression, I just want to write and share whatever is on my mind.  Today I want you to carry something with you.

Take a moment to look around, to really pay attention when you are with those you interact with regularly, even if doing so is not face to face.  Spend some time thinking about these people and what they actually mean to you.  What we often forget is that life is not a guarantee or a promise, as it can leave as quickly as it came upon us in the first place.  Never take for granted the people who stand beside you.  Be sure you show them the respect and honor they deserve, because even though we should not go into a good deed with an expectation, being thankful in such a way shows a deeper sense of caring.

Going into next week, we should all remember that without the unconditional relationships surrounding us, we would not be the same people we currently are.  I really do not think there has been a single man or woman in the world who lived their life without someone trying to instill a positive notion into their mind.  Some made a choice to reject the offer, but if those same people open their eyes just a little, or listen a bit harder, they should be able to find at least one other who will care and back them up in life.  

I have lost too many in my life that I did not take the time to invest enough of my care into.
The years of our lives are not guaranteed, and not naturally within our control.
Guard your heart, but be sure to open it for the right people.
Never forget to tell someone they are special.
Put a purpose in everything you do.
Always stay humble.

Grace and Peace,

The lyrics in the title of this blog came from this song:

Friday, June 14, 2013

You Really Only Feel The Love When You're Lied To...

I am posting the song the blog title came from first today.
Click the "Play" button and enjoy:

We are slipping.  All of us.  A hot topic in the media today is that of the millennial generation, of which I am a proud-ish member.  Granted, I try fairly hard not to not pay attention to the media as a whole and would rather get my information from a source collective, but none the less, we are a part of this.

Anything I say from this point forward is only scratching the surface of where I think we are falling short, and there will be many other instances to come when you will hear about myself and my generation as a whole, so do not fear, because I have all intention of exploring our uncertainties over a span of time.

We are expected to be a certain person or act a certain way on a continual basis and through all of this, we are exposed for no other reason than living in a time of exposure.  The chivalry we were taught as recently as a few generations ago has faded to the point of many women thinking a man is creepy for acting in such a way.  I have written about this before here.  As a generation, we have been told to put on a mask or put up a front in so many situations that we are losing our individual identities and we are slowly becoming more and more lost within our own characters because we no longer seem to have control over them.  
Forget making music.  Just fake it!

Two generations of parents ago, their children were taught by them to have a certain face and persona within their respective business as a means of achieving success.  To a point and within certain situations, this can be sound advice;  be one person at the office and who you really are in your free time.  I spent enough time in a business world of interacting with people and having to use this face that I became accustomed to it and played the game really well.  Exceptionally well, within my career path at the time, if we are being honest.  The root of the problem seems to have started here for many people, though I do not see the business composure model as the enabler as much as the gateway of individual translation.

I fear that sometime along the way, we began losing the cognitive ability to be an individual because we were taught to be what someone else expected us to be.  Etiquette is one thing and there are moments where one should be a little more formal than when in their own living room, but even then, what is considered "normal"?    What I mean by this is the person we see sitting on a park bench, reading a book is usually not the same person we see in a bar on a Friday night, even though they live in the same body.  The person we see helping their neighbor clean up their yard after a storm is not the same person we see attacking someone over a Facebook comment.  The way I see it, the whole idea comes right back down to what I said from the beginning, exposure.

Just like an actor plays a role, we seem to be doing this to ourselves in our own realities (or lack thereof).  We were given and grew up in development of so many new ways to wear any face that we often do so without even noticing.  As a generation, we are allowed to get involved in volunteering and spreading positive actions and then go back home only to scream at our children.  We can even work in an environment where we help people on a daily basis and then go home to anonymously bash people in online forums or blogs to make us feel good, because, after all, the person on the receiving end of our comments is someone we will never see in person, right?
At least we can be expressive for $12.99?

I understand where we are, but I also know we can do better and get out of this mess we have created.  Understanding effectively the reasons why we cannot identify with ourselves and figure out who we really are is beyond me.  Getting to that point only makes the journey of life much harder, which is why I do not trust anyone right away anymore.  I have found too many of the nicest people in the world who would eventually go entirely out of their way to hurt me in one way or another;  not only practice such a thing, but then wonder why we are not on speaking terms after the fact.  After putting six years into a friendship and having nobody else I talked to as often, I was stabbed in the back and made a fool of without any notion of there being a problem by the very person I put so much trust in.  

We do this to ourselves and it seems to be all we know.  I made a vow a long time ago to be the same person to everyone and I am trying so hard to make that happen.  I just wish we could all wake up one day and realize there is no longer a need to invest in an alter ego.
Unfortunately, for the time being, the road to being real is a long journey.
Being a fictional character is easy.
Having character is a necessary difficulty.

Grace and Peace,