tek2way: Anime - Valkyrie (Anime - Chibi Kenshin)
Tonight, I watched "Religulous", a documentary on religion by Bill Maher. Well, I watched it again. I first watched it a few years ago, as a DVD rental when I was still living with Charles. Of course, he watched it as well, and agreed with many of the points.

Now, I identify as a pagan (to facilitate discourse; I'm more accurately a Norse-style Saxon Heathen, with just a touch of interest in herb lore, divination, candle magic, and British Isles witchcraft), and Charles is a devout Christian.

I can appreciate wanting to find something in which to believe. Especially as one ages, the threat and doom of death grows ever larger and more real, and we as a society have conditioned ourselves to fear death as if it's this horrible monster, come to rob you of everything that makes you unique.

In my opinion, that couldn't be further from the truth. Even if you believe that death is truly the end of all things, and that there's nothing after, you're forgetting one particularly important detail: what you are doing on this planet while you are alive. No matter if you are a Christian, a Muslim, a Jew, a Wiccan, an atheist, an agnostic, a Buddhist, a Taoist, or a Jedi (I understand many of these begin to get into philosophies instead of religions, but I'm being very inclusive on purpose), the choices you make while you are living on this rock orbiting our insignificant main sequence star are what remain of you long after you are gone, no matter what you do otherwise. Your choices, even one as simple as speaking politely to everyone you have a chance to talk to when you leave your home, will have ripple effects that will spread far beyond your close group. The person who receives the benefit of your good decisions is just as likely to spread that good mood, as would one receives your discontent and anger.

So, back to the subject of religion. What is it about it that causes rational beings to go off the deep end? If someone heard some aspect of a religion in the context of mythology, would they still be so sure that it's literally true? Why are religious people so quick to violence when their faith is challenged?

...and here is where I dozed off, and lost my train of thought.

*sigh* I guess it's bedtime.
tek2way: Anime - Valkyrie (Comics - Death)
[Unlocked, though comments are screened.]

The title of this post is, more accurately, "Things Rediscovered After You Forgot that You'd Lost Them at All."

"The other one...
The one at the end...

I think I fell in love with her, a little bit. Isn't that dumb?

But it was like I knew her.
Like she was my closest, dearest friend.
The kind of person you can tell anything to, no matter
how bad, and they'll still love you, because they know you.

I wanted to go with her. I wanted her to notice me.

And then she stopped walking.
Under the moon, she stopped, and she looked at us.
She looked at me.

Maybe she was trying to tell me something; I don't know.
She probably didn't even know I was there.

But I'll always love her. All my life."

-- Sandman #56 (World's End, Part 6), pp. 18-19

I know it sounds crazy, but these two pages changed me completely. The narrator was talking specifically about Death, walking at the end of a funeral procession. Neil Gaiman's words, combined with the image of Death that Gary Amaro drew, spoke to my soul. As surely as I am sitting here typing this post, I know that those words were written for me in particular.

Some of my friends say there is no such thing as coincidence. Normally, I disagree with this, because coincidence implies a lack of a plan, and a lack of a plan means that fate and destiny are just false concepts. Thus, my decisions are my own, and I am not bound to any particular path while living this life. It's a simple and elegant little farce I tell myself.

However, as I sit here, I find it almost impossible to believe that those words and images were meant for anyone BUT me. Every single word resounds within my soul with a clarity and honesty that causes my very soul to hum in harmony. Seeing the images that go with the words reinforces that feeling. Seeing Death that truly sad, and being unable to ease her suffering, causes my own heart to nearly break to the point of no return.

Part of my mind tells me that I'm just a little on the crazy side. It says, "there's some clinical explanation for why you're such a mess over a character created for a comic book." Of course there probably is some clinical explanation, I now think, because Man as a species is ill-prepared and ill-equipped to entertain -- for even a moment -- that the world is more than he thinks it is, or that what he experiences within his own mind are in any way real.

Yet, I realize several things, having reread "Worlds' End"* these past two nights. One, I began reading this around the same time I got into computers, so this love affair of mine is almost 20 years old, but that's anecdotal. Two, this story would have had its final issue in November 1993, thanks to the direct market. Three, that if I read this in 1993, that the poem I wrote about Death being my bride had to have happened very soon after I read this (within 4 months**). Four, my melancholia about the holidays always starts in November. That could also be anecdotal. Fifth, my feelings toward death (as a life act) are not nearly as dire as most people, as if I've come to terms with it in a very personal way.

Finally, the sixth thing I realize is that the first time I spent any time with my dream girl was shortly after Kevin began dating Brandi in early 1994, because it was Death who was my double date on that mysterious car trip to the lodge that I can, even now, only describe in unsatisfying terms, almost as if I remember exactly what I saw, until I try to tell another.

For the last 18 years, I've had a love affair with a girl who I've only seen in my dreams. She is everything that I want, everything that I desire, everything that lifts me up. With her, I am more than I allow myself to be during the day. With her, I can accomplish anything. With her, also, I am myself, unfiltered, uninhibited, unchained. Is it any wonder why I cannot find a girl in the waking world to match what I've found in my dreams? What, also, does it say about me, that Death's brother is Dream? After all, that is where I find her.

Parts of my mind begin to echo the same thoughts I listed earlier, but I think I've finally reached the point that it can't affect me anymore. It's not that I don't care, but rather that I have begun to understand that those thoughts (or even other people's opinions) aren't important in the grade scheme of things.

In a way, I have to be grateful to Jessica for helping me indirectly realize this. Until 2010, I was convinced that I had to find my love in the waking world. I was sure that there was someone for me, somewhere. So, I'd try and pine and hope and fail and cry. Jessica gave me a good deal more than I'd found up to that point. Things ultimately end for those of us in the material world, and my relationship with her was no different. However, I managed to learn that what I really wanted was something I'd found within, all those years ago.

I've had crushes since, and I cannot explain why they still ring with me. Could it be that parts of them speak to my dream self, and identify themselves as having elements of that one perfect dream girl I've known all these years? Could it be that my soul recognizes in them those parts that match that dream girl, and my soul yearns for that connection more than life itself? I find many women attractive, but the list of those who I am truly interested in is short, indeed.

Today, while I acknowledge that I'd be lying that I don't want some kind of relationship with a woman in the material world, I no longer crave it past the point of reason. However, I must also acknowledge that I hold every woman I meet up next to this dream girl. Thus, the sad reality is that my expectations and desires are irrationally high.

...For who could outshine a dream?

* - "Worlds' End", first published in Sandman #51-56, July to December 1993
** - I ultimately first quit school in April 1994, so my memory of letting a classmate read the poem would have had to come between November 1993 and April 1994.
tek2way: Anime - Valkyrie (Sky - Andromeda)
I don't know why I am posting tonight. I learned that Sally Ride passed away today, and I find myself overcome with a melancholia that I am not even trying to shake off. I mourn her passing for some reason. It may be that it's a reminder of a time when the world was more innocent, or it could be that I am actually saddened by the passing of a hero.

Yes, I said hero. As I stated on my Facebook, "Those who increase the depth of human knowledge and understanding of the universe should be heroes to all..."

What happened? Where did our desire to explore the universe go? Oh, we are doing a phenomenal job with the various telescopes around the world and in orbit, but why are we not going back into space? Why is this no longer a priority? One of my earliest memories was of laying on my stomach, eating breakfast cereal (Waffle-O's), and waiting for the shuttle Columbia to take off on STS-001, and I cherish that memory in a way that even I am unable to put into words.

Perhaps my sadness stems from something else? I just don't know for sure. I simply know that I feel like something priceless is gone, and no one has realized it yet.

Should we give up? Should I accept that things will only get worse? I cannot even begin to accept that. The fire of the human spirit is still there. We just need to wake it up. Nurture the spark that remains until the flames are leaping high again.

There is more to the world than Jersey Shore, smartphones, the Internet, convenience stores, or fossil fuels. There's more to it than Internet drama, bestselling pulp book series, political mudfights, or how we define a word. There's more to it than all the soundbites and meaningless quotes-on-pictures-to-make-you-feel-good-on-Facebook in the world.

Christians. Atheists. Agnostics. Pagans. Muslims. Jews. Shinto practitioners. Buddhists. Jedi. Stop where you are, and look UP. Up is most easily defined as "the direction opposite of Earth's gravity". Look up. THAT is where your deity is . That is why you're here and thinking and reasoning. To stare at a starry night's sky is to stare at the face of God, no matter how one defines that. Atheists, you know that this applies to you as well. I was shocked when I realized yesterday that the most spiritual experience I've ever had IN MY LIFE was the night when I looked into the shitty little refracting telescope I owned, and saw Saturn. The feeling of wonder and joy and humility that coursed through my veins when I realized that light that had been to Saturn had just bounced off my retina is one I will cherish until I die.

Yes, that makes *two* individual instances related to space that I consider spiritual. Quit being so cynical and quit looking for reasons to argue. Just look inside yourself, and see the truth.

I want my heroes back. I want more. I want our government to recognize and acknowledge that space is important. I want to see people get excited for the space program again, just as I did back in my youth.

...and I think I used up all my energy on this much. I hope it's done. I think it's done. Good night, and never stop reaching for the sky.
tek2way: Anime - Valkyrie (Music - Beyond the Crimson Horizon)
Prelude: This is a post about the separation of church and state, and my general opinions about it. I mean no disrespect to anyone, but if you feel that this would upset you, please do not read. As a result, I'm placing this behind an LJ cut. This ties two things I used to worry about discussing: religion and politics. So, you've been warned. I respect your viewpoints, even if I disagree with them. I ask only the same in return.

[Comments are screened. Play nice.]

Separation Anxiety )
tek2way: Anime - Valkyrie (Me - In Real Life 2010)
It has been nearly 10 months since I last used my LJ for anything other than seeing the daily LOLcats (and that's because a lot of you don't post on here anymore, either!). I've migrated pretty fully to Facebook and Twitter. Twitter's more fun, perhaps because I have to figure out what I want to say in 140 characters or less. At this point, Facebook just copies what I tweet.

At any rate, I found a link on Facebook to LJ, and wound up browsing through various user info pages, adding folks. If I just added you, then you should at least be familiar with me. The new default user pic -- which I use on Facebook, Twitter, and the Summerland Grove site -- is recent enough that you should be able to match it to me. I know a lot of you from SG anyway.

The past almost-10 months have been.. different. I courted Christianity again, dated a devout Christian (the former admittedly DID halfway occur due to the latter), wound up giving up my D&D game on Sundays forever (I never have Sunday afternoons off anymore), met a great group of people in what I am apt to call the core membership of Summerland Grove, began smoking pipes for fun, became a pagan in name (I suspect I've always been one in spirit, whether I knew it or not), decided on a spiritual path (Asatru), began dating a wonderful woman, and have grown to despise my job at Kroger so much that I almost went to a job fair (my resume was... well, completely unmade and not gonna be ready in time, plus I got called on to help my girlfriend, which I had no hesitation doing).

Of course, outing myself on my LJ as a pagan could be considered... unwise? foolhardy? I dunno. Anyone with half a brain who has watched my Twitter feed/Facebook posts will have picked up on it long ago, though I deliberately don't come right out and say it, because I live in Memphis, TN, where you're accepted for who you are...

...that is, if you're a monogamous heterosexual Conservative Christian who is intolerant of others' lifestyles and points of view. (I still classify as heterosexual, though that's the only part of that statement that still applies to me.) I have far too many Christian friends on Facebook who I suspect will try to help me "see the error of my ways", so I am mum on the subject there, but I realize I don't give a flying fuck outside of being harassed about it on Facebook. I keep quiet at work as well, just because things already are a cluster fuck there, without adding "OMG IT'S A PAGAN!!!11" to the list. I've not dedicated to a specific god, which admittedly bothers me quite a bit (to the point that I can get downright moody/depressed about it), but I'm reading everything I can get my hands on that I think will help me understand my choice of path more clearly. (I'm currently reading "Our Troth, Vol. 1", and Tyr *STILL* looks like a reasonable choice, though he no longer feels like a perfect fit.)

About two weeks ago, I went to Festival of Souls. I'd never been, and even though I had to work two days and missed the workshops, I had a lot of fun. I made a point to attend the rituals, and was.. well, "blown away" is appropriate, if a little cliched. My brother, Ricky ([livejournal.com profile] titus_the_mage, though he's never used it), went as well, and surprised me. He'd always referred to himself as an agnostic, or as he put it, a "chicken shit atheist", but apparently *REALLY* took to the pagan point of view. I'm still processing that he has come to that realization, though I'm glad to have a longtime close personal friend with me in this new life.

While I enjoyed every ritual, I was absolutely thunderstruck by the candlelight labyrinth held after the ancestor ritual on Friday night. The solemnity covering the field, where the candles were laid out in concentric circles that slowly led to the center, was absolute. I didn't hear any voices (consciously), nor did I have any brilliant immediately-life-changing flashes of inspiration (again, consciously), but when I had gotten out of it, I felt different. Two weeks later, I wish I had the labyrinth still up to walk again, like I have a new appreciation for it, and if I could just walk it again, even more would become clear to me.

On the D&D/RPG front, I eventually had to drop [livejournal.com profile] lordreaibn's 4e D&D game, because work began jumping around on Sundays for me (I don't get to do payroll like I used to, though no hard feelings for the new clerk). I briefly attempted to get a game going involving [livejournal.com profile] nyminal, [livejournal.com profile] strieson, [livejournal.com profile] mfsfreak, and [livejournal.com profile] disker and his wife, but that fell through due to lack of motivation on my part. I just no longer "feel it" where D&D is concerned. I am far more likely to wax nostalgic over my old 2e games, and how engrossing they were back then. Perhaps, when my schedule settles down some, or I change jobs, I can start a game again with some folks, perhaps even including [livejournal.com profile] lordreaibn, [livejournal.com profile] tannenwynn, [livejournal.com profile] marius_98, or [livejournal.com profile] lostgamers. I have access to a larger pool of folks, and if I mix and match 'em a bit so I'm not stuck with the same collection of people I have played with for the last ten years, things might get interesting. (I have *NO* problem with my old D&D group, but the reality is that lack of fresh blood caused things to get stale, and we all know it.)

Well, that's my life this year so far. It's an oversimplification, and you'll notice I didn't post about work. I'm on vacation for at least two more days, so I refuse to acknowledge it until then. :) Welcome to all the new people. I hope that you add me back. I want to get to know each of you better than I have so far.

Oh yeah, I also, at the urging of my girlfriend, am going to begin writing again daily, even if it's just in here. I am one of the worst procrastinators you'll ever meet, but I want this. I miss writing something down, reading it, and going "holy crap, this is GOOD."

P.S. Holy crap. I've had this account for over 8 years now. I feel damned old suddenly. :)
tek2way: Anime - Valkyrie (Art (Royo) - Two Vamps)

Keith Olbermann on Prop 8 )

I gotta say, I agree.

"Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you."
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