Tag Archives: philosophy

The Ultimate Conspiracy

Something horrible has happened to me.

I was raised in the Catholic church. The Catholic church is what the religious community would call fundamentalist. What the H-E-C-K is that?

Let’s go GOOOOOOOOGLE it!

The All-Seeing-All-Knowing-Great-and-Powerful voice of the Internet defines a fundamentalist as a person who believes in the strict, literal interpretation of scripture in a religion.

Yeah, that was me. Certain ideas that come along with fundamentalism are:

  1. Creationism. The Earth was created in a literal six days.
  2. There was a literal Adam and Eve, real people in a real garden.
  3. Noah put two of each animal onto an ark.

The facts of the story are the facts of the story and the facts of the story are literal.

When I was in high school, in ninth grade, I have a very powerful memory of sitting in my Biology classroom while my teacher, a hulking football coach with the body of a line-backer, explained what evolution was.

Any questions? he asked.

No hands go up except mine. The truth is, I don’t have a question. I have a statement and I’m about to drop a Knowledge Bomb on this entire class. Get ready for this treat.

“Johnny?” he calls on me and I can almost hear in his voice that he doesn’t expect much to roll out of my mouth. Why would he? I fail nearly every class I’m in and spend every single Saturday in detention. I had a track record of being a brilliant rock-star and I’m about to back it up even further.

“Mr. Bailey. Today is April 1st. Happy Evolutionist Day.”

What a joker I was. What a cocky, thoughtless, sub-human, unconscious animal I was. A chimpanzee wearing Vans and a crucifix around my neck. A WWJD bracelet adorning my wrist.

He cocks a beefy eyebrow at me. My extremely clever joke has gone over his great gorilla head, it seems. I try to speak on his level.

“Today is April 1st. Today is April Fools Day. Happy Evolutionist Day.” Because only a fool could believe in evolution.

Everyone sitting in my class was being fed some laughable story about evolution from this brain-washed academic messenger. Goodness. His tale about man from monkey (not to mention amoeba) was insanely laughable. It was crazy. It was koo-koo-bananas.

Mr. Bailey takes a deep breath. “Please enlighten us, Mr. Brookbank.”

“God created us. God made us.” I recite.

“When?”

“Recently. About six or seven thousand years ago.”

“How do you know?”

“The Bible told me so.”

“And the Bible was written by?”

“God. Man. Man inspired by God.”

He tries another angle but I block him. “John. Do you believe that Noah put all those animals on the ark?” “Yes.” “Two of each?” “Yes.” “How did he feed them?”

Shit. I hadn’t thought about this. Thankfully, I had an answer for things I hadn’t thought about. “God made it okay. God can do anything.” Ah, yes. That’s a clever one. The Wild Card. The Get-Out-Of-Jail free card. Works every time.

The rest of the class is mostly disengaged, happy that they’ve escaped talk of DNA and the process of natural selection for at least a short amount of time.

“If Adam and Eve were the first humans, wouldn’t their children be bred by incest?”

Dang it. He’s caught me off guard again. It’s okay, though. I’ve got an answer for it.

“God made it okay. God can do anything.” Wild card!

“So God is okay with incest?”

“No. Incest is an abomination but it was okay then.” I kind of start to panic. I blurt out my red button phase that rockets me into the untouchable zone. “God is mysterious and his powers are not understood by man.”

The conversation ultimately ends with me raising an eyebrow and balking at his idiocy. I walked out of the class, absolutely shocked and appalled that such a person would be allowed to teach the youth. What a complete moron.

I was so proud of myself when this happened. I had stood up for my personal beliefs. I had bravely confronted psychological evil in the world. I knew my ideas were different but I was okay with being the black sheep. I did it for Jesus. I couldn’t stand down and let these guys get the best of my homie. He had died for me. The least I could do is get his back in Biology 101. How would I ever be a Warrior for Christ in The Real World if I couldn’t even verbally defend my faith within the confines of a classroom?

You want to get in shape? Create a habit of going to the gym. You want a clean house? Create a habit of cleaning your house. You want to be confident? Create a habit of telling yourself that you’re confident. You want to hold a belief, any belief, create a habit of telling it to yourself every single day.

I think, therefore I am.

You want to be a fundamentalist, go to a church where they reinforce that idea. Have your family and friends reinforce the idea. And if you’re born into it, even better. You don’t ever have to think that maybe there is another option. When I was a kid, I was so thankful that my parents had raised me in the one single correct religion. Thank God! Literally.

What would have happened to me, I often thought to myself, if I had been born in some filthy country where they worshipped Allah? My uncle was a Muslim and I think he might be going to Hell. His kids too. And probably his wife. Which was a shame because I kind of liked them. If I had been born into that land, amongst those people, I would have had to go out, find Jesus on my own, leave my native faith, commit to Christ and then be saved. That seemed like a lot of work and also that country and the people seemed kind of dirty and so I was really thankful to be where I was. They were hell-bound blasphemers who believed in a silly invisible God that told them what was right and wrong. And they prayed to him, hahahahaha. Idiots.

April 1st was also Happy Muslim Day, it would seem.

I thought to myself, Thank God that I was born into the greatest place on earth. Thank God I was born into the correct religion. Thank God…..”

….that I didn’t have to think for myself.

Thank God that I had been raised to be thoughtless. Thank God I had been raised to disavow the use of my own human logic in favor of a faceless and fact-less belief system that told me everything I thought was right and everything everyone else thought was wrong.

Thy ego is starving. Let us feed it with self-righteousness. YUUUUUUUMMY. It is bitter with ignorance but sweet with self-satisfaction.

I was so right, in fact, that I didn’t even have to read a book to know I was right. I didn’t need to read the biology books because they were full of lies. Science was always trying to “explain everything” and that we should just trust in God more.

Carbon dating was a joke because, didn’t my teacher know, that someone in my church told me that scientists somewhere had carbon dated a living turtle and the results said it was 10,000 years old? But the reality was that there was no study. It was just a guy at my church.

It was just a willfully ignorant, brain-dead drone repeating mindless drivel that the other lemmings had been mumbling to themselves. And I digested it and I repeated it. And it felt good to be right.

But then something interesting happened to me later in life. It was life-changing. It, quite literally, quite fundamentally, rocked my entire world.

I read a book.

Nothing in particular. I just read a book.

looked at what was presented and for the first time in my life I realized that I only believed what I believed because I had been told to not look at the other side. Stand by your faith. Be strong. There is no value to their opinions. You have the truth. You have the answer. You don’t even need to consider another side. And when you are tempted to look and consider, just remember that The Dark One is tempting you. Come back to safety, my little sheep.

But when I looked, when I read, when I ingested, when I saw, when I thought, when I took the bite of the Apple from the Tree of Knowledge, my eyes and my mind opened and I saw.

I Saw.

I saw that the idea of the world being created in seven thousand years was not only preposterous but one that was borderline absolutely insane. And I don’t use that lightly. I use it like mental ward, asylum, existing outside of reality insane.

It was Insane what I had believed for the past TWENTY-FIVE YEARS. That is a fucking long time to be, by any standard, super-stupid.

And then… The Internet. We were no longer living in caves. We were no longer illiterate. We were no longer sourcing our facts from distant philosophers and great thinkers. We didn’t even have to go to the library to get a book anymore. We didn’t even have to get it from our teachers. The Internet – it was a portal into the purest knowledge and it sits inside of our back pocket. With a few quick key-strokes, you could have a nearly unending supply of information from any and all sides of any and all topics.

There are two kinds of people, in my opinion, that are allowed to be Creationists. The first are the elderly. Many of them don’t have access to the internet. Bad eyes. Tired. Etc. The other group are children who can’t read.

Everyone in between those two groups no longer has any excuse for not taking the time to properly educate themselves on their own biological history. Pure ignorance is no longer acceptable with Time Warner. The internet has taken every single other reasonable option completely off the table. If you don’t know, you aren’t looking.

Reminds me of my kids. “I can’t find my shoes!

“Then you aren’t looking. They’re sitting right by the door.”

“Oh.”

There is an amazing amount of anger and contempt that exists inside of me for having ever been told that all of this – our world – was made recently. It infuriates me that I was encouraged to be ignorant. It upsets me – truly – that I was taught such wild and inconceivable tales.

I like to tell myself that it was different for me when I was younger. The Internet was picking up but wasn’t nearly as ingrained in our daily lives as it is today. Today, I tell myself, if you believe the world was created less than ten thousand years ago, you are committing the greatest sin of all.

You are choosing to intentionally remain willfully ignorant in the face of facts and endless amounts of evidence.

Carbon dating doesn’t work because–

Because you don’t understand it. That’s why. And you don’t understand it because you refuse to try to understand it. And that’s just lazy.

In the age of YouTube, you can learn about how carbon dating works in a four minute video.

Today I sit down and I look at two options and I say to myself…

OPTION 1

Slowly, slowly, slowly, over the course of great amounts of time, life developed on this planet, growing from a small force, to a Force to be Reckoned with. We see this drama of life play out over and over again with plants, animals and even the cycles of the seasons. It is repeatable and predictable.

OPTION 2

God farted everything out in six days and humanity in one. Nothing like this has ever happened before or since. No one was there. No one saw it. There is no evidence of it except for a book with no author. A glove that doesn’t fit.

 

Now, if I’m sitting in a courtroom and I have to decide which of these I’m choosing…. I mean, Option 2 feels like a story a kid would write. It feels objectively silly when you stack it against the other and A//B them like that.

It is laughable (but also horrifying) to think there are people (adults) who select OPTION B. Who are these people? What makes them select something that is so entirely and clearly wrong? You can have a vacation on the beautiful beaches of Hawaii or we can send you to Guantanamo Bay, where you will be tortured for weeks on end! The choice is yours!

I don’t know, Bob…. OPTION….B?

Here’s another multiple choice, this one a little closer to reality.

OPTION A

Particles in the clouds create electric charge, build up and cause lightening.

OPTION B

God is throwing lightening bolts.

One of them has facts and things we can observe and read about and replicate. One of them is a fortune cookie that was written by people before people knew what science was. It’s crazy how easy this test is. It’s crazy how many people fail.

It is tremendously disturbing to me when I have conversations with people who are Fundamental Creationists and I realize that they vote.

Individuals – and quite a large group of them – who are unable to review information from both sides and make a rational decision on their own are able to vote and craft the voice of our country. It is terrifying to me. They aren’t listening to themselves. They aren’t reading. So how do they decide? They just wait for someone to tell them what to do, where to stand, how to think. In the game of chess, these are called Pawns and they are disposable because there are so many of them. In real life we call these Pawns soldiers and we send them to die for some purpose. I think it has to do with protecting our fence or our oil or our God – or is it our freedom? I can’t keep up with it.

 

More than bashing on the population base of Creationists (which I’m also doing because it really does deeply upset me at my core level), I am writing to say that I am so thankful that I have been broken from the bondage of faith. Faith is the enemy of intelligence. And lack of intelligence is the enemy of Man. And Willful Ignorance is Evil Incarnate.

The question that was posed to me during a church class echoes back through my mind. Why does science have to try and EXPLAIN everything?

Today I understand that the answer is not the problem. That is just a crazy-stupid question. CRAZY stupid.

Because if we lived in a world where we didn’t try to explain things, we wouldn’t progress, we would still be living in caves yelling at Kronk to just put down that fucking wheel. Listen, Kronk! If God wanted us to have fire, he would have given it to us! Quit dabbling in The Dark Arts!

 

In 2018, Fundamentalism is not fun. But it is mental. Like crazy. Like fucking bonkers. Like the chicken from Moana seeing the wall but just walking directly into it over and over again.

Evidence of the wall does not matter. Keep marching. Keep marching. Keep marching. Evidence does not matter. Evidence not matter. Evidence does not matter. I am right. I am right. I am right. I sleep at night. God loves me. Amen.

I hope I’ve adequately offended you enough to at least go YouTube something. SOMETHING. Challenge your beliefs. Challenge yourself. Open yourself to the idea that you actually may be stupid like I was, marching around publicly proclaiming how under-developed my brain was.

Larger than 9-11. Larger than Area-51. Larger than Crop Circles. The idea that millions and millions and millions of people believe, without evidence, that the Earth is 7,000 years young is The Ultimate Conspiracy Theory. At that point you might as well believe that the Earth is flat and that the Sun commits to doing large circles around us.

Open the trap-door. Look into the darkness. Then jump down into it.

What if I’ve spent my whole life believing a lie?

No! Your brain immediately shrieks in response. It’s too insane to even consider. The Dark One again, tempting you with knowledge.

Better to be what God desires me to be – an ostrich with my head shoved down into the sand, listening to the gentle hum of my own heartbeat, ensuring me that I and I alone, am saved.

I think back on my Biology Classroom Experience and I shutter with embarrassment. How much patience that teacher had with me, I’ll perhaps never know. How much empathy he had for me, I’ll never know either but I look back at myself and I look out at people I know who still believe these things and it feels like my heart breaks for them. I’m so sad that they live such shallow, unsaturated, lives with boring belief systems that shrink down the magnanimous beauty of our ever-expanding universe into a novelty trinket that can be contained in four words and be mindlessly repeated by any child old enough to mimic.

God can do anything.

You could probably even teach it to a parrot.

God can do anything.

Including make a race of apes that know how to pull a trigger but not read, it seems.

God can do anything.

Including encouraging you to believe an enormous story with zero evidence. Heads up, that happens anywhere else in life and you would be called a raving lunatic.

Water does not come out of my sink through the pipes. I turn on my God-faucet and Jesus juice pours out. It looks like it comes from the pipes. But it doesn’t. It comes from the … Jesus Juice place….

Are you a raving lunatic?

Perhaps.

I was. Shrieking outlandish and incoherent thoughts in my biology class. There was no reason to learn.

I already knew everything.

What a sad, pathetic little creature I was. So wrapped up in my own absolute certainty that I left no room for exploration.

I am so thankful for the internet and books and knowledge and science and academics and philosophers and people who think and inspire us all to think and to lead mentally active life-styles. I am so thankful that I live in a world wherein I am not just allowed but encouraged, to learn and expand my intellectual horizons.

I’m going to wrap this up with my own personal beliefs, which are an opinion and which, like the rest of this post, is probably pretty offensive.

If you take your children to church, but don’t watch BBC Planet Earth with them, you are doing our society a great disservice. You are harming mankind by intentionally closing malleable minds off from information that would make them Greater Than. You are intentionally stunting their growth and handicapping their ability to problem solve and use critical thinking skills.

But my faith is important to me!

Well, ignorance is bliss. And you look very blissful.

Very blissful.

Also, you can teach your child about love and forgiveness and compassion without teaching them about impossible magic that fucks with their heads and leaves them with a gap between imagination and reality for the rest of their lives.

I shudder, thinking to myself again that these people with wildly low IQs not only vote, but own guns.

In the most ironic tone I can muster, I end with, God help us.

And if God can’t, Science help us.

albert-einstein-god

 

 

 

 

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NODULES: CHAPTER 17

It’s been a few weeks since the last chapter. I apologize. I’ve been out of town celebrating my father-in-laws 60th birthday as well as the birth of my nephew, Gavin John.

But now I’m back.

And so is the story.

We last left off here. Surgery was done. Testicle was removed. And then we went back to the doctor where he informed us that the cancer was back and was 300x more active than previously thought.

That’s called a plot twist. And it was a true to life WTF moment. Very hard reality to swallow.

The previous chapter covers the very beginnings of chemotherapy, getting the IV, the drips beginning and Jade and I wondering what comes next.

And now we press on with chapter 17: Nodules. We’ll pick up with the very first morning following the very first chemo.

cancer_title_page

I open my eyes and immediately notice two things: The first is that the sun is trying to peek through my blinds, scooping its rays around the edge of the window. The second is that I feel incredibly hung over and the sensation seems to just be amplifying by the second. I take several deep breaths and fumble around in the gray light, looking for a cup of water while trying not to wake my wife.

I manage to kick my feet off the side of the bed and take three big gulps from a cup filled with something that’s the same temperature as horse spit. My stomach churns and rolls and I gag and the water rises up my esophagus and into my mouth. I hop off the bed, pursing my lips and waddle into the cramped bathroom, pulling my IV (mine, mine, mine) behind me. I bend over and open my mouth and the three gulps fall gracefully into the toilet like Olympians at the high dive. Ker-splash.

I gag, gag, gag again but nothing comes up. I sit down on the floor and hear Jade in the other room shift around, “Are you OK?”

“I’m just . . . sick.”

A nurse enters and asks if everything is OK and I tell him that I puked and he tells me that it’s a side effect. I thank him and expect him to leave but instead he takes my blood and I wonder if they’re going to do another cancer marker test and if those numbers are going to be lower than 900.

Jade turns on the television and the show with the million kids is on again so I just turn my head and stare at the drip-drip-drip and try to imagine my numbers dropping, 900-899-898, even though I know there’s no possible way it could be decreasing so rapidly.

By lunch the nausea has increased so much that I consider just making camp in the bathroom. I keep munching on ice chips but my wife continues to suggest that I eat something solid. “Panda Express?” she asks, “In-N-Out?” she asks, “Chipotle?” she asks.

I cover my eyes with my forearm and gag. I tell her she should just go grab some-gag­-thing for her-gag-self. She leaves and a nurse enters and takes my blood and I wonder what those cancer markers look like: numbers floating around in my blood like alphabet soup? The nurse thanks me for some reason and then I flip through the channels and, of course, there’s nothing on, so I just find the least offensive show I can and dig in, some episode of Family Guy, but it’s on the final act so it ends too quickly and then I watch an episode of Seinfeld and Jade is back with food and I manage to take a couple bites.

 

The Hazmat Nurse comes back in and changes my bag to Medicine #2, something called Platinum and I can only picture Madonna. “One bag down!” I think and am genuinely happy. “I feel a bit pukey but this isn’t so hard!” The Hazmat Nurse exits and a short Asian woman in a yellow shirt and lanyard around her neck enters. “I’m Dr. Yen,” she says and offers a tight but friendly smile, adjusting her glasses with her index finger. “I’ll be your oncologist, OK?” This is the good friend/specialist to whom Dr. Honda had recommended us. This is the woman who will oversee the ritual. This is our personal witch doctor. She smiles politely and says, “How are you feeling?” and I tell her that I’m a little nauseated and she tells me that it’s normal and that she’ll order me some anti-nausea medication. I thank her and ask what I should expect and she takes a few steps toward my IV pole, examines the bag and then takes a few steps back. She says, “Here’s what we’re dealing with. Most people, your regular cancer patient, they’re going to get what’s called outpatient chemo, OK? There’s a clinic, like the one at my office, and they come there and hang out for a couple hours, OK, and they leave and go home and go to work and then come back two weeks later and get another two-hour treatment and so on and so forth, OK, until we’ve, uh, eradicated the cancer, all right? OK?” and I say, “OK. But that’s not what I’m doing,” and she says, “No.”

She walks around the bed and looks at the Panda Express and says, “Panda Express. Man, I love those egg rolls,” and my wife smiles and offers her one, but Dr. Yen shakes her head and says, “No, I try not to eat them. Too greasy.” Jade sighs and pops half of it in her mouth while the doctor continues.

“You’re going to stay with us for six days and we’re going to give you chemotherapy every day, for six hours a day. Six and six. Once it’s over, we’ll release you back to your home for two weeks and then, just when you start feeling better, we’re going to bring you back in,” and I say, “Uh . . . wow,” and she says, “We’re going to do this three or four times,” and I say, “ . . . All right.”

 

She asks me if I have any questions and I say, “A million,” and she says, “Shoot,” and the first and foremost that’s been resting on my brain for the past month is, “Am I going to die?” and with wildly strong confidence she answers, “No. You won’t die. Well, I won’t say won’t. I’ll say you shouldn’t die because there’s always that chance but your odds are very good. You’re young. You’re strong,” and I say, “OK. Then do what you have to do,” and she says, “Listen to me. I’m going to hit you with a Mack truck. I’m going to run you over. I’m going to take you right to the edge . . . and then I’m going to bring you back. You’re not going to like me very much,” and I just smile and look at the bag and say, “Keep them—” gag “—coming.”

 

***   ***   ***   ***   ***

 

The only thing that’s saving me, poison or not, is the constant, drip-drip-drip that’s running into my arm. The miracle of modern medicine. The blessing of science and technology.

Later that night, my parents show up, having driven straight through from Mitchell, South Dakota, all the way to Los Angeles over night. It’s a 1,500-mile trip and they took it in one 22-hour hit.

My mom walks into the room first and throws her purse in a chair and bends down over me and hugs me and just cries. I say, “It’s OK, it’s OK. I’m just fine,” and she says, “You’re not fine! You have cancer! You’re getting chemotherapy! You keep telling me you’re fine on the phone and it’s not a big deal but Theresa (my sister) ran into June (my mother-in-law) and she says that you’re not well at all and that this IS a big deal and that you haven’t been completely up front with us about this! John Lowell   . . . what . . . how sick are you?” and I say, “The doctor says I’ll probably survive,” and my mother wails and says, “Pro-bab-lee?!” in all italics like that and holds me tight and it’s not until years later when I have children of my own that I’m able to actually imagine a shadow of the pain and fear she must have been experiencing.

 

She loosens her grip and leans back and I say, “Mother?” and she says, “What?” and I say, “Listen. I just need to tell you . . . that . . . you have . . . mascara running down your face,” and she laughs and slaps me and says, “John Lowell. Shut up. Mascara.” She stands up and exits into the bathroom to fix herself up while my dad bends down and gives me one of those Dad Hugs that is sort of in the styling of one-arm-draped-loosely-around-your-neck-side-squeeze things and then quickly stands up and says, “You look good. Down in the parking lot I told your mom that she needed to be ready because you were probably going to look pretty sick, like one of those kids on the quarter collections you see in restaurants but—you look good.”

He sits down and says, “They feed you here?” and I say, “Not food,” and my mom comes out of the bathroom and says, “Did you guys eat?” and Jade says, “I ate. He’s been feeling pretty sick,” and I realize that it’s already happening. They’re starting to talk about me like I’m not here, like I’m just this thing that’s happening and everyone needs to take care of.

 

The next several days play out in a slow-motion blur of blood withdrawals, bad food, reality shows, chemotherapy bags, good nurses, bad nurses, sleeping, and vomiting. I become intimately acquainted with the toilet as I bow down before the porcelain throne and give my tithe.

My parents come and go—they’re staying at our house while they’re in town—and Jade, working a part-time job, stays the night with me if she doesn’t have to work in the morning. The second and third night she sleeps on the cot because, as romantic and harlequin as it is for two young lovers to share a single hospital bed, it is actually extremely uncomfortable and nearly impossible to sleep while your partner continues to shudder with dry—gag—heaves.

Nurses periodically bring me nausea medication but it’s never quick enough to stop the sickness or strong enough to fight it back. They try pills and they try intravenous injections and it seems to take the edge off but not enough to actually stop it from cutting.

On November 26, while my wife is outside the hospital smoking a cigarette (I won’t even get into the irony of it), an older gentleman sporting a plaid button-up and thick glasses enters my room and introduces himself as Dr. Sharpe, a partner to Dr. Yen. He tells me that she’s busy at their office today but he wanted to come by to quickly speak with me.

I say, “Nice to meet you,” and he pulls up a chair and says, “Likewise,” although there is no smile in his voice. It’s just a word rolling off a tongue, a guttural noise that has some human meaning.

He opens a manila folder, pulls the glasses from his face, and holds them halfway between himself and the paper. “The reports of your CAT scan are back and it says here that you have several nodules on your lungs.”

 

Silence.

 

“Nodules? What is that? What is—”

 

“Sorry. Tumors.”

 

“Tumors? On my lungs?” and there are so, so many thoughts flying through my head at this one moment but the one thing, above all else that I just can’t seem to process is the term lung cancer. I mean, I know that I have cancer. I’ve accepted that and am taking the proper precautions to make sure it doesn’t spread and I’m lying on this bed, plugged into this beeping machine that’s lowering chemicals into my body and probably killing my kidneys and I gave up my testicle and what’s that now? Lung cancer? Did I mention that my wife is outside smoking a cigarette while I’m being told this?

 

“Yes. Lung cancer. There are several dark spots,” and I say, “Several like three?” and I can feel my voice starting to crack and there’s nothing I can do to control it. There is, in fact, nothing I can do to control anything. I wipe my nose with my hand and pretend that I’m just wiping “casual snot” away and not “crying snot.”

“I’m not exactly sure. A lot. Maybe 17 of various sizes.”

And then he stands up and says, “But this,” and he signals to my IV bag, “should take care of it. You should probably be fine.”

 

Probably.

 

And then, without saying goodbye, he leaves and I am alone.

 

Alone.

 

The reality show plays on mute and I stare at the TV but I don’t see anything. My vision goes blurry and my nose starts to run and tears stream down my cheeks and my head slumps down and it has broken me one week in and—

The doctor pokes his head back in, the way someone might pop back in to say, “Did I leave my keys here?” but instead of inquiring about a misplaced item, says, “Oh, sorry. I forgot to mention, there are also spots on your heart,” and then, like that, he disappears.

I’m sitting hunchbacked, head tilted down, tears dropping onto my groin in such quantity that it’s actually looking like I’ve pissed this stupid blue robe. My wife enters and says, “What’s wrong? Are you OK? What happened?” and I say, “I have lung cancer and heart cancer. I have stage four cancer,” and I sob and take a breath and say, “Do you know how high those numbers go?” and Jade is silent so I say, “Four. They only go to four.”

 

I believe the human spirit can evolve through nearly anything and, given enough time, most things about cancer even become routine and expected. Months and months down the road, the brokenness and isolation and hopelessness will be old hat but today it is brand new. Today I’ve been told that my cancer is twice as strong as it was when I walked in the door. Today the hopelessness is fresh and new and horrific. My wife and I are twenty-four and twenty-six, respectively, and I’m wondering if I only have months to live and my wife is wondering if she’ll be a widow before her twenty-fifth birthday. We wonder how far this can go. How deep is this hole? How dark is this blackness? And we wonder it all in silence as we squeeze each other’s hands and shoulders and we both stare at our feet and we shut our eyes and we gasp and sob, confronted by the potential of personal death here and now.

 

The sun goes down as I’m left wondering what I’ll think of Cancer once I’m on the other side, in Remission. I try to imagine how it will look when I’m standing much further away. How will it change me? Will it change me?

But yes, I already know the answer to that. When I come out the other side, I will be something altogether new and transformed. I already know that I’ll never be the same. I already know that Cancer is my chrysalis, and when it cracks open, something that flies will emerge.

 

Jade lies on the bed next to me and runs her hand through my beard and says, “I’m going to quit smoking,” and I can smell the stale cigarettes on her fingertips. She doesn’t stand up and dramatically march to the garbage can, throwing her soft pack of Parliament Lights 100s into the trash. She doesn’t make a declaration of Cold Turkey. She doesn’t even immediately denounce her nicotine habit that has lasted her a pack a day every day since she was sixteen. Instead she just says, “I’m going to quit smoking,” and I believe her and one week later, she does. She snuffs out her final cigarette, leaving me to wonder how many years my cancer has purchased her . . . this thing that’s killing me is saving her. I wonder about Cancer and alternative purposes or “Higher Purposes” or silver linings. Call it whatever you want. It’s all the same. Bad news with happy endings.

Drip-drip-drip.

822-821-820.

I think about dying and death and cemeteries and morgues and morticians and corpses being embalmed. I think about the blood being sucked out and some foreign chemical being pumped back in so as to preserve the host.

Drip-drip-drip.

809-808-807.

Someone comes in to take my blood out of my body and away to a lab. Someone else comes in and gives me new chemo, some chemical pumping into my body to preserve the host.

Alive or dead, I am a corpse.

 

***   ***   ***   ***   ***

As always, thank you for reading. Next week continues with CHAPTER 18: INTERMISSION

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THE SPIRALING CORNUCOPIA OF PALE LAVENDER [SEQ. 14 – 15]

The Spiraling Cornucopia of Pale Lavender is  a 10-part series of fiction that explores perception and reality. Below is part 8. To read the introduction of the project, click here.

To read part 1, click here.

To read part 2, click here.

To read part 3, click here.

To read part 4, click here.

To read part 5, click here.

To read part 6, click here.

To read part 7, click here.

To read part 8, click here.

Otherwise, begin scroll.

 

[SEQ. XIV] 1Now I’m making waffles. 2I am thirty years old and I have short hair and a good smile. My muscles feel good and my confidence is strong. 3The kitchen is wide open and there are pots and pans hanging from little hooks. It looks nice. 4My wife is a thin brunette who usually wears white shirts and black yoga pants. She doesn’t teach yoga but she’s thought about it. 5She’s a vegetarian who thinks vegans are pious. I don’t really like her. But I love my daughter. 6And right now my daughter is sitting at the kitchen table and she’s dressed up like a princess for no special occasion. She wears a pink dress with a crown on her head and a scepter in her hand. And now that I’m actually looking at the costume and giving it more than just a passing glance, I think she might be dressed as a kind of fairy princess instead and not just a regular, run of the mill, earth bound human princess. Boring. 7I lift up the waffle iron and see that the waffle is burnt to an absolute black crisp. “Okay, baby! Guess what we’ve got here?” “Smells like it’s burning. Did you burn my waffles again?” 8“I sure did. I know just how you like em! Black with a little bit of whipped cream.” 9“Ebony and irony,” she sing-songs jokingly. 10I love her and I’m thinking about packing her up one night and leaving her mom. 11It might work but the horuscribe tells me it’s a mistake. 12The horuscribe is a small creature, three feet tall, that lingers in the ceiling corner of all rooms that I enter. 13Its body is very narrow and has always reminded me of a carrot – thick at top and tapered out at the bottom. 14It wears a black robe and a white mask. The white mask looks like a deer skull with black make-up applied to it. 15The black make-up highlights certain areas like spots on a dog. 16Sometimes, however, I wonder if the deer mask is not a mask at all but rather just its face. 17The horuscribe has eyeballs – two in the front of its face in the same place that I do. 18It has long black and white fingers that also look like bone. 19It watches me. It simply watches me. 20On the morning of my 26th birthday, it was the first daybreak of the second Knuckled Moon, I woke up and my wife told me, “Happy Birthday. I’m pregnant.” And it was that same morning that I first saw the horuscribe. 21My wife has never seen it. Nobody has ever seen it. 22When I use the bathroom, it is there. 23When I am intimate with my wife, it is there. 24In my car, it is there. It is everywhere. 25It was there when I opened my eyes. And now its there whether my eyes are open or not and I can’t get rid of it. 26Everywhere I go, there it is. 27I’ve tried to touch it but nothing happens. My hand passes through it but there is a sense of captivity when I do. 28It watches me and sometimes it points at me but I don’t know what it means. 29It is always in the room that I’m in and it is always there when I leave and it is always in the next room before I enter. 30It is never positioned in such a way wherein I can see if it exists in two places at once. 31One time I was watching a late night science documentary and it was talking about how, in quantum physics, a singular atom can exist in two places at once and move in two different directions at the same time. 32There’s nothing I can do with this information because I am not a quantum physicist but I found it interesting albeit useless. 33At first I had a very difficult time coming to terms with its presence but now I find it kind of comforting. 34I’ve gotten used to it. 35And then one day I walked into my house after a long day of work and I found that the creature was sitting atop my daughters head, propped on top of her scalp like a vulture. 36It seemed to be in a state of subdued ecstasy – a kind of waking coma. 37“Meghan?” I asked and her hand lifts in the air and she smiles. “Hey, dad! How was your day at work?” 38She is full of joy and she seems like herself but it is not her. 39This creature is puppeteering her being. 40The creature was controlling her like a puppet, drawing her arms and legs like marionette strings, creating mock emotions that felt genuine but were imposters. 41Has it not been observing me? Has it been observing her? What has it stolen from me? 42All things my daughter does, no matter how genuine they seem, are now only reflections of real emotions. 43When I tell her I love her, she responds and the worst part is that she thinks she means it but she doesn’t. 44When she goes to school, she studies hard for good grades and she really does try but really it is the horuscribe trying and succeeding and I want to be proud of her because she doesn’t understand the difference but I do. I understand. I see through her. 45Perhaps this horuscribe is her true self? 46Is my daughter a projection of this oddity? 47Is the horuscribe a projection of a projection? 48Do I have a horuscribe attached to me that I cannot see? 49Do I think I am making my own decisions while only being a puppet myself? 50Has my daughter been living with her own visions of a creature attached to me, understanding that I am not her father at all? 51If my daughter feels emotions and thinks they’re real, even if they are being manufactured by the sentient thoughts of another, does that negate them? 52When does self-awareness stop or start being self-awareness? 53My world is false. My world is a projection. My world is transparent. 54My daughter is here but she is not real. 55My daughter is this creature. This creature is my daughter. 56My daughter is just a body. Just a sock filled with meat that is being propelled through an entity no one can see except myself. 57My wife speaks to me. I listen. My wife speaks to Meghan. She listens. 58She answers. She smiles. She waves. She jokes. She eats. She poops. She vomits. 59She is my Meghan. 60And then one day the creature speaks to me. Speaks to me for the very first time. And it says to me, in a voice that sounds like a phone sex operator at a PTA meeting, ‘The Sky is Falling.” 61And I feel the sentence with each of its capital letters. 62I feel the hard importance and the factuality of this statement. 63I look up and the sky cracks open and begins to crumble like rocks. 64Large boulders of celestial matter crumble and fall to the earth in slow motion. 65Their ragged edges rip holes in the fabric of existence. Sheets peel down from the sky, of the sky, like billboards in a hurricane. Earth. The Greatest advertisement. 66We are knocked out of orbit and our planet tears through the cosmos. 67I lift off the ground and my back slams into an apple tree in our front yard. 68I feel my spine snap and my legs disappear but it’s okay because I can fly. 69The soil and the sky switch spots and the earth tears apart like a loaf of bread. 70 “You can save her,” the creature whispers to me. “You can save your daughter from this fate but you have to do it now.” 71“Do what? Save her from what? What is happening?” 72I desperately want to save my daughter and I desperately want to make a decision but I don’t know the rules. I don’t know the logic. I don’t have the information readily available to make a smart move. 73Can I even trust this thing? 74 “You must choose now, Richard.” “What is happening?” “Everything is falling apart. The pants of existence are getting unzipped. You knew it would be your generation. You always knew. And now here it is and you weren’t ready. There goes your house.” 75I turn my head and I see my house tip over like a two dimensional slice of cheese and then it vanishes. 76The world suddenly looks flat and strange although I think it has always looked like this? Do I have new eyes? A new brain? Where am I? [SEQ. XV] 1I look down and see that I have neither body nor eyes. I am not breathing. 2I am embedded into the actual fabric of time. 3I am a moment. 4My eyes perceive all at once. 5Asia is my hand and Europe is my fist and North America is my toe. 6I feel the people walking on me and planting in me and digging in me. 7The pressure of the cities are great, like tumors. The gray masses grow and grow until it destroys my life cells. 8And then the people crumble. 9They always crumble. They always come and go. They rise and they fall. 10They destroy one another. 11This time it will be with cellular weapons. 12The land will become polluted by their toxicity and then I will heal. 13I always heal. 14Until my mother Sun eats me alive, I will grow, the chosen princess of Miss Universe. 15The Greator chose me to bear life and to hold the secrets. 16I reach deep into my core and I find fire and I squeeze it tight inside me and I feel it drizzle out of my holes like burning shit. 17People scream for their lives from my red-hot diarrhea and I destroy their villages and burn their cultures in my frantic filth. 18Ash cakes the sky and thousands choke to death. 19They should have known better. 20They should have asked me not to do it. 21The cities will be next. If only I could reach them somehow. 22They are destroying me and eating away at my simple perfections and flawless ecosystems. 23They are recreating a photoshopped copy of life and it disgusts me. 24Bow to me, you fucking Humanlings! You stand atop me! You eat my grain! You eat my vegetables! You eat my fruit! I give you water. I give you trees and oxygen! I bore you. I gave you life. I nurtured you in my womb that you call the atmosphere. You are my children. Bow to me and respect me. Worship me. Tell me that you love me. Show me your appreciation. Tell me that I am beautiful. Fall to my feet, you pitiful worms or eat from the dumpster of my asshole. 24I flex my unbreakable abs and a tsunami rushes over the coastal communities and I laugh as they drown and I watch their miserable little bodies float through the streets. 25Let the buildings save you now. Let your silly paper money bandage your wounds.

 

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The Spiral Cornucopia of Pale Lavender is winding down to its next Monday.

Lifestyle pieces go up every Wednesday. Stay tuned.

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THE SPIRALING CORNUCOPIA OF PALE LAVENDER [SEQ. 7 – 8]

 The Spiraling Cornucopia of Pale Lavender is  a 10-part series of fiction that explores faith and reality. Below is part 6. To read the introduction of the project, click here.

To read part 1, click here.

To read part 2, click here.

To read part 3, click here.

To read part 4, click here.

To read part 5, click here.

Otherwise, begin scroll.

 

42The Painter says, “You have to do this part alone,” and I turn around to find him standing at the top of the steps. 43“I’m afraid.” And he says, “I know. Everyone is. You are not alone.” 44And then he shuts the door and I’m left in the starlight. 45I witness a shadow descend from the ceiling – a shape about my size but darker – its features a shadow. Not cloaked in shadow. But actual shadow. The form of a man. 46His clothes are baked of darkness. 47I can see Him but I cannot contain him with my brain. 48I see a figure but not a form. 49His structure is both tall and narrow. He slowly descends through the air until he lands on his hands and knees. 50I watch his face rise and think that the lack of light must be playing tricks on my eyes. “Who are you?” I ask but there is no response. “Hello,” but still nothing. 51HE stands up and says, “Don’t think of me like that. I do not deserve capitalization.” 52He walks to me, cracking his knuckles as he does so and I see that a silvery stream is being left in his wake. It fades. His shoes are black and 53his socks are red. “They are not red. You only perceive them as such.” I perceive his shoes to be black and his socks to be red. My mind also perceives him to be wearing a soiled black suit and a white shirt that has been covered in dried sweat. 54He speaks, “If you mean to converse with me it is because you have come a long way. You have come a long way to find me and so you deserve certain truths. 55First, understand that you do not see me. Understand that this is a form your consciousness gives you in order to process my vastness. 56Understand that I am not a HE or a she. Understand that gender binaries are beneath me. 57To be a singular male is to have weakness for you cannot repopulate alone. 58Your species is destined to die without your counterpart. 59Likewise, I am above it as well as you would place value upon it. I am not an it, lacking in sexual orientation. 59I am above sexual orientation because it serves no function to me as I live outside of the parameter of time, your greatest enemy. 60Time plays no role in my existence. 61Day and night are just different points in one long stream of consciousness. Time holds no value for me and as such, I will never die.” 62The question comes tumbling out of my mouth, “Are you God?” and the creature stops and smiles. “You always ask the same question. And I always answer the same way. 63Why do you wish to know? When will you cast aside your simple curiosities and step forward in conscious decision? 64What would you do if I said, Yes. I am God and you are my great ejaculate, formed in my image to wander the earth seeking truth. 65Does this help you? Does this give you forward motion? Why are you here?” and I tell him (it) that I want to know the truth. 66He laughs and says, “There, there. You’ve made it. Great job.” And he places his hand on my shoulder and I cringe at how much emotion radiates from it. 67I feel the complete spectrum in one complete charge. The happiness and the fear are tangled and braided together. But I can also sense something else. Something bigger. 68There are emotions beyond my spectrum. I can see them at the edges of the color wheel. I can see that the spectrum continues on but it all goes black and white and then it starts to fade. But it’s right there and I’m on the edge of it all. 69I almost ask what it is but I know what he’ll say. He’ll tell me that I already know and he’s right. 70Everything is coming back to me. Whatever I knew before. Whatever I used to understand, it’s all coming back. 71I know that I used to know something else and I know that I’m hatching into it. 72Have I been here before? When this creature said that I always ask the same question, did he mean me personally or did he mean all humans or did he mean everyone / thing that has ever come up here and the man says, “That is right. But I am not a man.” 73I look at him and think to myself, “Who are you? What do I call you? How do I think of you?” 74“My name is not important and what you call me is not important. 75For the sake of our exercise, you may call me Uncle. You may associate that term with the male side of your species but understand that I do not. I tell you all of this to help you understand. 75First, elevate your perception. 76I am beyond sex. 77Second, your language lacks proper words and I would like to be represented as closely to my true form as possible. 78Your personal emotions are very closely tied to the word ‘Uncle’. I see why but I would like to hear you tell me. 79I find your voice pleasant. Do you ever go to the park to listen to bird’s chirp? It’s quite nice.” 80“My Uncle Andy raised me when my dad left.” “Uncle Andy. I appreciate the transgender element of the name. Would it help you if I were to dawn the glamour of Uncle Andy?” Uncle Andy asks me, sitting in front of me, in his leather recliner. 81I try to pull back what The Shadow Thing looked like before – before he was Uncle Andy. Did I see his face? 82All I can bring to the surface is pock-marked skin the color of fabric softeners, a scar of red lips and black, featureless eyes that hold universes within them. 83“Does this help you, son?” Uncle Andy asks me and pops a small powdered donut into his mouth. 84“We can talk about ultimate consciousness if you think it sounds cool.” 85“No. I don’t want this. I don’t want the pony show. I want the truth. Not a version of it. Come back to me as you are – as close as I can understand you. Help me understand you more.” 86“Oh, lonely boy. You will never understand me. The Big Bang was earlier in my afternoon. I have seen the rise and fall of cultures before brunch. I have witnessed countless evolutions. I have seen life crawl from the seas and descend from the heavens and I have watched it grow and breed and destroy itself over and over in many places, in many realms, on many plateaus. 87And now you’re wondering if god created you in his image and I’ll tell you that god did create them in his image but “they” are not “you” and “you” are just a nucleic acid in the petri dish of a greater intelligence. 88How does that make you feel? How does that answer make your heart cry out?” 89and I feel hopeless and tired and everything turns grey. 90“If not for god, what is my purpose?” and Uncle Andy says, “But what has changed? Do you not feel your simple curiosity for the zest of life any longer? 91Does your compassion for your earth bound brothers and sisters dissolve into mud? Do you no longer desire your favorite foods or yearn to take part in your favorite past times? 92Do you not desire to have a career that feeds your soul? 93What difference does your origin truly make to you?” 94I stare at my hands and at my feet and realize that I am a cosmic joke. 94I stare into the sky and wonder if a technologically advanced microscope is staring into this lighthouse and if it sees me and I wonder if, worse, it can actually see into me? Can it peep into my brain? Can it stare into my soul? 95Do I have a soul? 96“What do you mean when you say soul?” “I mean something inside of me that makes me live.” “Like your heart?” “No. Something deeper.” “Your brain holds many mysteries.” “Not my brain. My soul. It is the thing that makes me tick. It’s the thing that brings me life.” “But your organs bring you life.” “But what brings them life?” “Your blood.” “And what gives me blood?” ”Your bone marrow.” “But – ” 97“What is it you want me to say that will put your silly curiosity to sleep? 98If I told you that I were god and that I created you, would you next ask me…” “Where did you come from?” 99“And if I told you that I were burped from a black hole you would say…” “Who put the black hole here?” 100“Yes. And at risk of sounding rude I am going to tell you that your simple curiosity is stupidity cloaked in false intelligence. 101Do you know what I am? That is a rhetorical question. 102You have come to my realm and crawled up the steps of my tower and you have found me and you could ask me anything and you waste your time with trivial brain vomit.” 103I apologize and tell him or it or THAT or THE CREATION or Uncle Andy that I am sorry and feel insignificant for wasting his time or its time. 104“You are not wasting my time. Time has no bearing on me. It is a box that does not confine me. Time is an element that I do not have to acknowledge. 105Do you understand that you are a projection? 106“What? No. A projection of what?” 107“You are a projection of your true self. This place – this world – this level of consciousness – is defined by laws and rules. Time being one of them. Gravity. The elemental forces. These are things that are unique to this level and your being – your present form – is being projected onto this surface. 108Who you see is not who you are. Who you see is just the version of yourself that most accurately suits this realm. 109I will tell you what you need to ask because it is clear to me that you are drowning in a sea of thoughts and anxieties right now. 110What you need to ask me, while you still have time is who is your projector? What is your projector? What and where are your projections coming from? 111If this is just a version of yourself that is meant to fit into this world, then what is the true version of you? 112Is it in your brain? Is it in your heart? Is it in this soul that you speak of? 113Do you exist on another realm? Is your real self aware that it is projecting an avatar onto different worlds? 114Are you being controlled by someone else? Is your projector a part of you? 115Or are you just a tool that someone else mentally controls to complete tasks? Are you a defunct program? Have you gone rogue? Are you a virus? Are you a cancer? What are you?” 116A heavy silence falls across the room that causes the windows to shatter. The breeze blows in and brushes my blonde hair out of my eyes. 117“I just want to know the truth.” Uncle Andy shakes his head slightly. “No. You don’t.” 118“You don’t know what I want.” The words sound childish coming out of my head. 119“If everything in this world was breathed into existence by The Painter then aren’t you and your Eternal Power also subjects of another’s creation?” 120Uncle Andy smiles and asks if he may touch me. I don’t answer but he reaches out regardless and places his palm against the center of my skull. “Are you ready for a glimpse?” 121A tear runs down my cheek and my stomach and heart fill with fear. 122I don’t know what’s about to [SEQ. VIII] 1I see a giant black orb floating in a sky of absolute white. Small streams of red pulse through the white like rivers of blood. It reminds me of photos I’ve seen of Earth taken from outer space. The white stretches to the horizon. 2A rushing wind hits me and tears my skin off, peels it back until I am just muscle and blood myself. 3My skin flaps in the breeze and disappears like a pair of lost pants. 4I hear a voice that is a loud and booming whisper. A spring breeze that will destroy a city. 5Voice says, “Look upon me and be in awe.” 6And it is in this moment that I realize I am not looking at a giant black orb and the sky is not white and the red is not rivers. 7I understand that I am looking at an eyeball. A singular eyeball. An eyeball that is so large that I am dwarfed by the pupil. 8I look down and see that I am standing on a platform made of flesh.

 

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Part 7 premieres next Monday the 27th. We become a food source of God, travel through the holy G.I. tract and find ourselves evacuated into a living memory.

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The Spiraling Cornucopia of Pale Lavender [seq. 3 – 6]

“I started reading The Spiral Cornucopia of Pale Lavender… and I didn’t really like it. But then I realized I was trying to read it like a book – I was trying to just read it. And so I went back and slowed it down and tried to imagine it more like something to ingest bit by bit. Like a poem or a fortune cookie. It’s still weird. But I like it a lot more.” – C.M.

“This is truly incredible.” -C.O.

“I have no idea what this garbage is supposed to be. Were you drunk when you wrote it?” -S.G.

***   ***   ***   ***   ***

 The Spiraling Cornucopia of Pale Lavender is  a 10-part series of fiction. Below is part 3. To read the introduction of the project, click here.

To read part 1, click here.

To read part 2, click here.

Otherwise, begin scroll.

74She opens the door and enters first. [SEQ. IV] 1We go through the black door and down a small set of three steps and into a small bunker area. It is a small box. It is made of metal. There are shelves. 2On those shelves are boxes and cans filled with things. Some of it is food and some of it is generic office supplies and there is also a bag of yeast that is turning black. The ceiling drips water onto the floor. 3There is an electric plug on the wall but the shape looks like a straight line an inch in length instead of anything my collective conscious may be familiar with. 4The door dissolves as we approach it and we enter a hallway that is lit by light that seems to radiate out of nowhere. It is both odd and familiar to me. 5The smell is both sweet and delicious. Like a steak in cranberry sauce. But it isn’t strong enough to make me hungry. It’s just strong enough to make me satisfied. 6I see that the old woman is suddenly standing up quite straight and looking decades younger. 7She tells me that everyone looks different here. They look the way they want to look in their hearts, which is typically a more glamorous version of themselves. 8Rarely do people want to become someone else. It happens but you typically stay yourself. 9She looks at me and laughs. 10And when I look down I see that my skin is pale white. 11We pass a mirror and I see that I am the man in the river but I don’t know why. 12She points at me and tells me that my hair is white. She pulls out a lock of it and shows me. 13We walk through the tunnels and then up some stairs and mostly I follow her because she walks as though she knows where she is going. 14At the end of the hallway there is a key. She picks up the key and uses it to open the door and I say, “Where did the key come from?” and she says that it was always here and I wonder who built this place. 15She tells me that she doesn’t know but the place is really big. She tells me that the other doors have been explored but none of them connect except two. You can go in one door and then come out the other one later on. 16A couple of guys that have been trying to map it – just some local guys in the village – figured it out. 17They think all of the doors are connected in some fashion. 18But the question is, if it’s a giant maze, what’s at the end? 19They found a room with a ceiling that appeared to not exist, a darkness that sat like a blanket. 20Another place from another time. 21The afterbirth of a local apocalypse. 22I ask her where we’re going and she just says we’re going to go to the quiet room until the Stomping Process is over. 23She says we have to stay here for several days because time moves differently where we stand. 24She says if you perch at the doorway (she used that word perch – like a giant bird) on this side and look out at the village, you will see everyone moving around very fast. They move like they’re all running around. 25Time moves more slowly over here and I say, “How old are you?” and she tells me that she is seven hundred and twenty six years old and suddenly my heart breaks because I know that her husband that is dead is not her first and that she has experienced the loss of a lifelong husband seven times. 26She carries more grief than anyone. Than everyone. 27There are things she is not telling me but I cannot prod right now. 28She tells me that we have to stay in here and wait for the Stomping Process to be finished. 29I ask her how long three days in here is and she tells me that it is seven years out there, which they call a threshing. 30When the Stomping Process begins it always lasts for seven years. 31They take the people and pull them into the sky. 32I ask why and she says she does not know. But I know. 33I know that some of them are kind and some of them are cruel and I know that they are fishing. 34The woman leads me down a hallway where the walls are gray and red and when we come to the end there are two men standing outside of a double door that is locked and the men have guns but no eyes and they don’t ask what we want because their job is not to keep things out but to keep things in. 35We walk through the doorway and inside I see a large group of people and they are all sick and broken in different ways. Some of them are covered in sores and some of them are thin and frail and some of them have blood dried around their mouth and nose and some of them lie on the floor coughing and some of them are dead. 36The smell is unpleasant but not unbearable. 37I notice a vent in the ceiling with a fan that is always running. I also see a vent and it is out of this vent that I sense a smell. 38There are perfumes being pushed into the air here. Something tangy like a grapefruit but instead of masking the stench of sickness and disease it instead adds to it, combining with it, making a smell that is neither good nor bad but making something that is neither. An ambivalent scent that I don’t think I will or could ever get used to. 39The people turn and look at us and some hold out their hands but most of them acknowledge us with their eyes and then turn away, aware that we are unable or unwilling to help them. 40I see a ham sandwich sitting on a counter but the bread has turned a dark green color. There is a refrigerator but it isn’t plugged in. 41When I turn to ask the woman a question I see that she is gone and I am so stupid and now I am alone and now I am afraid and now I realize that I am one of these people and I don’t want to be. 42I want to be free and outside even though I really don’t know what is out there and even though the fishermen are reaching from the sky and pulling people from the earth, or whatever this place is. A hologram, an illusion, a spell, I still would rather be out there because freedom inside of oppression is better than being a prisoner without a view. 43I don’t go towards the doors because I know the men will never let me out. 44I know that I cannot call my mother or my friends or my brother, if I had one, if I ever had one. If I ever had a mother. If I could find a phone. 45I cannot scream for help because no one is listening and I am alone and panic begins to wash over my body and it makes me sick and I start to pace and then I lie down and I sleep and when I wake up there are loud banging noises and the walls are shaking and the lights are flickering and I run and I hide behind the refrigerator that isn’t plugged in while the rest of the people crawl towards the door. 46They fall to their knees and they hold their hands in the air and they all begin shouting and screaming and I hear, “I am here, Lord!” and, “Take me!” and, “I am ready!” and many of them begin to laugh but most of them begin to cry and sob and I see that this is the first time they have been happy for a very long time. 47The banging stops and a whisp of something that I would call smoke or mist creeps under the door except the mist looks like a prism and I see all the colors of the retinal spectrum blending and sparkling like a gemstone and I see other things too. But I don’t see them with my eyes. I feel them. I feel the words and the thoughts and I know that yes, this prism mist is a good thing but I fear that it is also a trap and none of the people know it and I watch as the colorful mist wraps around the group of them and envelops them and I see the mist start to boil and I hear screaming but it is not screams of pain but screams of ecstasy and it seems like they are experiencing other-worldy pleasures and it is in this fashion that they go away. 48They are not pulled through the door but the prism fades as mist does and when it is gone, everything inside of it is gone as well. 49Sitting on the green and white-checkered linoleum floor is a small stone, the same prismatic color of the mist. It is about the size of my fist. I pick it up and find that it is quite warm, somehow imbued with human life but no; I understand that that is wrong. 50This is their sickness and their hatred and their sorrows and their remorse and all of the terrible and bad things of the world that have been placed and given and gifted to them over their many years wandering this strange place, this life, this existence, that they’ve gathered up and now they’ve all been allowed to leave it behind like old shoes, freed from it completely. 51I smell the rock and then I taste it, rubbing my tongue along the top. It tastes like pepper and makes me sneeze but immediately I feel the effects of it as my brain expands and I see all the pain in the world. 52I see it all. 53I see how it works into our bodies. I see that sometimes it enters through our ears and sometimes it enters through our eyes but mostly it is birthed from our hearts. 54We are like mother hens sitting on our eggs, sitting on our evils, sitting on our selfishness, sitting on our jealousies and we keep them warm and we let them grow and we birth them out into the world, not as eggs, but as words or actions or in the tone of our voice. 55I drop to my knees and I want to cry but I don’t get to. I don’t get to expel the feelings. 56I grip them in my heart and I squeeze their complex singularity with my body and my soul cries and breaks and I stare at the ceiling, which breaks away and crumbles away and I see, outside, not sunshine, but ultimate darkness and in that darkness I sense nothing at all. No great evil staring back at me but absolute sadness and it reaches out for me and it wants me and I can feel that if I follow it I can do anything I want. 57I can partake in all of my wants and desires but there will be no pleasure in any of it. There will be no taste to any of it. 58I feel laughter pulled from my body and I feel joy retched out of my hands and I feel happiness, like a coin, taken from me. 59And now I understand that I am empty and this body is truly nothing more than a little package. An envelope with a piece of paper inside and what’s written on that paper? What does my letter say? What is my message? 60I feel the darkness reaching in for my letter but I hang on tight and it says, “No. This is mine. All is mine.” 61And I know that it isn’t true but I wonder if it is and I unfold my letter, not a real letter, but my purpose, and I reach deep down inside myself and [SEQ. V] 1I say, “Who are you?” and the answer comes back. “Compassion. Understanding. Friendship. Don’t ever forget. You will die.” 2And then everything is pulled away from me but some kind of residue is perhaps still left and then my body is sucked through the gaping chasm in the ceiling and my eyeballs melt away and everything is dark and when I turn around, I see a hole in the fabric of whatever this is. Maybe a version of reality or a dimension or time or space. 3I drift away from it and I don’t care because nothing matters and everything is darkness and nothing serves a purpose and floating freely through space is better than being trapped against my will and I feel my consciousness expand and I understand that I’ve been here before and perhaps this is where I came from and perhaps this is the cradle of Now and I call out with myself, not my voice and not my heart because these things are all gone and now I am just a thought. 4My physical being has been removed and I know that I am transcendent but have somehow de-volved to a flickering memory. 5I feel out towards the edges but find nothing but vastness and then a vibration touches my thought and I know it is another place or another person or another thing – there is something. 6There is life. 7Something in this vastness and blackness and darkness and abyss and I call to it and I find it and it is a/ [SEQ. VI] 1I open my eyes and I’m underwater, inside of a narrow tube and I can’t lift my arms.

 

 

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Part 4 premieres next Monday the 6th. 36and then he reaches up and he peels off his face like boiled skin from a tomato”

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I am the Devil (and you might be too)

 

We all know this story.

 

Lucifer is hanging out in Heaven, acting as captain of the cherubic hosts. He (male pronoun used here for simplicity) is basically the worship leader in Heaven. With every movement he makes, there is music. And it is beautiful. But Lucifer becomes jealous of God, gathers up a third of the angels and tries to overthrow The Great One.

 

Lucifer and his “army” lose and God casts them to either Earth or Hell (interpretations vary) and now Lucifer is The Devil and the angels are the demons that we know today.

 

This would be considered a literal translation of Satan’s origin story.

 

But what else can we pull from this story? What else is happening that we are not acknowledging? There are pieces in this simple paragraph that the church (as a very general body) tends to ignore.

 

Based upon this telling, if I am a Literalist (to believe the Bible is word for word accurate with no symbology) I am to also believe that there is such a thing as jealousy in Heaven. Correct?

 

If you are a Heaven-Is-A-Perfect-Place-Where-No-Pain-Exists type of person (which most Literalists are, please correct me if I’m wrong), please do not shut off to this. Based upon the telling from the Bible, Heaven is a place where jealousy exists. And not only jealousy, but hierarchy. Lucifer stood above the other angels.

 

And not only jealousy and hierarchy but hatred, violence, rebellion and punishment.

 

In Heaven.

 

This is not what we have been taught.

 

But this is what is written.

 

How do we come to terms with these two contrasting worlds?

 

***   ***   ***   ***   ***

 

There is, without question, a darkness in the world. There is evil in the world. There is selfishness and greed and hatred. You can turn your TV to any news station, fire up social media or peruse the papers at your local grocery store to see it.

 

Darkness is real.

 

But is The Devil?

 

Have we pinned our every shortcoming on this singular being? Is he our universal scapegoat? Is The Devil responsible for tempting us at every occasion? Are demons responsible for tempting us at every occasion? Are there so many creatures of darkness that each of them lingers with each of us, constantly tempting and whispering words into our ears? Is that how we think we exist? And does that sound medieval? Demons whispering in our ears.

 

Do we believe that we are inherently good people and it is only by the temptation of dark forces that we do evil?

 

Or… is that evil inside of us?

 

Is The Devil inside of me?

 

Am I The Devil?

 

Could the snake in the garden that tempted our perfect heroes be nothing more than symbolic of our own wants and desires?

 

What is the first sin we commit as humans? We disobey.

 

“Rory, clean your room.”

 

“No.”

 

Just like Adam and Eve. Or “Adam and Eve”.

 

Does darkness and light, good and bad, God and Satan, exist within me and you and everyone at every moment of every day? Are we each, as individuals, capable of doing what is right or wrong with our free will at any moment?

 

Here’s a personal confession that isn’t really a personal confession at all.

 

I love pornography.

 

Love it.

 

I could watch it all day long. Just sit down with a bowl of popcorn and let it rip. Video after video after video. Non-stop. 24/7. Weekends and holidays.

 

Now, it should be noted that I do NOT do this.

 

I do not watch pornography.

 

But I want to.

 

I choose not to. It is my choice that creates my actions. And it is my actions that define my character. Same for all of us.

 

We are each, as men, addicted to pornography.

 

Our male brains are hardwired, like magnets, to draw us to those images. We are born with that compulsion. Ladies, if your fella is telling you that he doesn’t like pornography, watch out, because you have got a liar on your hands and he is telling you things just to keep you satiated. If a man produces testosterone, he wants naked women. As many as possible. As often as possible.

 

This want is not a threat to the sanctity of your marriage or the commitment of your relationship. This is a burning in his very human nature. And it cannot be shaken.

 

And now you say, “Nah, my husband is not like that.”

 

And then I say, “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he does not exist.”

 

If you don’t think that darkness is there, it’s because you are being fooled. There is darkness in each of us. But it is our choice to be swallowed by it or to shine light on it. Light in our thoughts. Light in our actions. Light in our words.

 

Now I’m going to take that popular phrase a step further and say that the greatest trap we, as humans, ever fell into was believing that we were not subject to darkness. That we were somehow above darkness.

 

You are not above darkness. You are not above selfishness. You are not above greed.

 

Nobody is.

 

Liking something. Wanting something. Being drawn to something. And actually indulging in that something are very, very different things.

 

Now, without going off on too much of a tangent, I do want to quickly acknowledge that there are various schools of thoughts on pornography – some people think it’s fine and some people find it repulsive / sinful / harmful. I tend to be of the latter group because, even though the act itself is being committed by two or more consenting individuals, the people experiencing it in the privacy of their home are, at the very least, being brainwashed to believe that sex is a certain way. And I believe this is very damaging to the individual.

 

This is my opinion. You are obviously free to disagree. (High-five for respectful diversity!)

 

That said, I am opposed to brainwashing in all of its various forms – cultural, religious, sexual, analytical, creative, etc. We should not be told what or how to think. If given certain data, the truth should be self-evident.

 

For example, does extended exposure to pornography affect the way in which a man views a woman? Does it alter our opinion of what women should be capable of / interested in? Does it alter our expectations of our wives?

 

If the answer is yes to any of these, then it’s brainwashing.

 

If you were raised in the jungle with one woman as your partner, you would still desire her sexually but your wants and actions would not be formed by things you had witnessed. We choose to be victims of our environments.

 

The devil is not tempting you.

 

You are fighting your culture and your human nature. And it is a difficult uphill battle. But we must admit that we are fighting a battle. And we must admit that we are fighting a battle with ourselves. It isn’t until we know who our enemy is that we can begin to overcome them.

 

We need to adjust our cultural perspective on darkness – what the church likes to call sin or what humanity calls immorality. Being drawn to the darkness is not immoral. We are each drawn to the darkness in our own way. We are each selfish in our own way and, ultimately, doesn’t each sin come down to a form of selfishness? To sum up sin would be to say, “Putting oneself before another.” Murder, envy, lust, greed, lying, stealing, etc. It’s all really different forms of the same thing. But these are natural human traits. Survival at all cost came with us when we arrived in the universe. Batteries included.

 

Being drawn to a thing does not make you a bad person.

 

Making a decision to be a part of that darkness is where things spiral out of control.

 

I don’t believe that’s Satan whispering in our ear. That’s us.

 

That’s our own wants and desires.

 

You’re sitting at a dinner table and you’re stuffed. You’re so full. You’re going to puke. But then dessert shows up and you take just a couple more bites because it looks so delicious.

 

That’s gluttony. Your body is begging you to stop poking food into it and you just keep on truckin’. You think a demon is sitting at The Cheesecake Factory, prodding you on, encouraging you to have one more bite? Does that thought sound silly? It should.

 

That’s you.

 

Those are your decisions.

 

The Devil is not in you.

 

The Devil is you.

 

And you create the darkness in the world. When you choose not to share. When you talk about someone behind his or her back. When you insult someone, whether in his or her presence or not. When you choose to ignore a hungry person. When you pressure your wife / girlfriend to do something they’re not comfortable with. When you steal something, even a tiny thing that nobody will probably ever notice is missing because really, they weren’t using it anyways…

 

That’s you. That’s you creating darkness in the world.

 

Don’t worry about the splinter in your brother’s eye until you’ve removed the timber from your own. That’s a biblical truth that I think anyone, regardless of faith, can apply productively to their lives.

 

Maybe stop worrying about The Devil and start worrying about yourself.

 

Start thinking about each moment. Each day. Each word. Each decision that you have to make. You bring either darkness or light with every action that you make.

 

If The Devil is real, he only exists within the temptations themselves. He does not cause the temptation but is the temptation.

 

Likewise, I don’t think that God causes the kindness. God exists within the kindness. God is the kindness.

 

And we choose to cast light or we choose to cast shadows.

 

Go forward.

 

Cast light.

 

And thanks for coming to church on a Wednesday 🙂

 

***Subscribe for updates. New blog every Wednesday – friends, family, life, death kids and adventure. And on Mondays we’re currently releasing a fiction in 10 parts called The Spiraling Cornucopia of Pale Lavender. Part one linked to the left and the intro is linked here. It’s a tale of evolving consciousness through many different plains of reality. If that sounds weird enough to check out, you should.

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THE SPIRALING CORNUCOPIA OF PALE LAVENDER [SEQ. 2 – 3]

The Spiraling Cornucopia of Pale Lavender is a 10-part series of fiction. Below is part 2. To read the introduction of the project, click here.

To read part 1, click here.

Otherwise, begin scroll.

 

9I enter another room that is more like a great hall and see that it is more vast than my simple field. So large that I cannot see the roof. 10Where am I? Am I not on a craft? The sky seems endless. Am I on a planet? Where have they taken me? 11The inside of the cavern glows with perfect light that radiates from nowhere. The essence of life gives light to itself. It is a light that exists at the origin of everything. 12Two doctors converse and stop speaking when I approach. 13I feel as though my presence makes them uncomfortable. 14No words are spoken. Instead, we stare at one another and have a conversation of thought. 15Because I am a creature comprised of emotional experiences and every experience shapes me differently, like a fist hitting plaster, every other individual’s experiences make them uniquely who they are and, even if our experiences are identical, we will process them differently based strictly upon our natural birth bend – the organic recipe of our brain bubbles. 16I will try to transmit my pure, raw thought which I apply emotionality to, and I will churn it out into raw and savage words for you to then process through your ear and get filtered through all the bullshit that makes you uniquely you. And so often what I say is not what you hear. 17So much is lost in our primitive grunts. 18The greys speak through emotions. It is not the hearing of an audible voice in your head. It is the feeling of justice. It is the feeling of wrongness. It is the feeling of love. They are able to transmit the very essence of the thought to one another. The very pureness of the emotion. The core. 19Nothing is lost in translation. 20And because of this they cannot lie and in fact do not understand what a lie is. A lie is beyond the fence of their mind. 21I also sense that they don’t know that they don’t know. 22The knowledge of the unknowable does not exist to them. I don’t sense a hole wherein something is missing from. I sense that there is nothing there at all. 23A loud but warm and not altogether unpleasant alarm begins going off. It seems to radiate in the very air itself. The siren is not audible. There are no speakers but rather a general consistency in the air quality that shifts. The local energy wavers and quivers. 24The greys all knew what the “sound” meant by the sensation it gave them. There was no need to make the feelings abrasive. The good feeling gave them the knowledge for what was needed to be accomplished. 25This made me wonder why fire alarms on Earth are always screeching headaches. Especially when you want everyone to remain calm. Would the same effect be created if the powers that be simply played loud but pleasing music that encouraged people to run? I always have a more difficult time completing a task if there is a person screaming in my ear as loud as they can. It’s difficult to concentrate. 26When I realize that I’ve been lost in some stupid rambling thought I suddenly acknowledge that [SEQ. III] 1I am standing in the field again and there is a rainbow that arches across the little stream. The grass is tall, the sky is blue and the clouds are white. 2I can see the day moon sitting in the ocean above me and it is so beautiful and I know that I am in a computer-generated image. I know that I am still on the ship or on another planet or in a machine in a small room or I’m on Earth and everything is being projected onto us but this is not real. 3I know it like I knew the feeling of their lies. I know because I can still feel some kind of emotional residue. 4None of this is real. 5Why am I here? 6What are they doing with me? 7A moose walks to the rivers edge in the distance and takes a sip. It’s weird because he drinks it with his lips and not with his tongue. 8A couple of blue birds fly past me and I feel like a child again. 9On the other side of the stream I see a scarecrow and I wonder who put him up. I do not feel concerned that I haven’t seen any people or that I don’t know where I am. 10The world feels real but I don’t know what I’m doing here or how I got here but it all feels okay. 11This is where I was before they took me but this is not when I was before they took me. 12I hear a large boom and then another and I become fearful. Very fearful. 13My stomach rolls and my knees begin to shake and quiver and I find that I’m having a very difficult time walking or thinking appropriately. 14It is awful. 15I fall to my hands and knees, my stomach washing waves of panic over me. My brain feels like it’s crying. 16With one hand I pull myself to a large rock that is nearby and hide behind it. 17BOOM. What is that noise? Is it a giant? Is it a bird? My mind begins thrusting images of giant birds at me, making me stare at them. Look at this bird with its enormous beak, pulling you apart and splattering your blood against the soil! Watch your neck break and your body become consumed. This giant blue bird with its feathers chasing you through an empty field and squawking. 18Where are these thoughts and feelings coming from? 19I look around the rock and I don’t see anything. I don’t hear the noise anymore. 20I turn and crawl up a small hill where I find a fence that is made from posts of wood and barbed wire. I crawl between the top and middle wire and approach the scarecrow. 21Its face is brown sac cloth and its eyes are made from plastic buttons. One is red and one is blue. Its nose is made from a tightly wrapped fresh condom and its mouth is made from rotten banana peels. It’s wearing a tracksuit that is gray with white tennis shoes. The brand is expensive. Someone has put something in its pants to make it look like he has a comically huge boner. Someone else has smeared mud all over its ass to make it look like it shit its pants. 22At the base of the scarecrow are two small chairs – lawn chairs. There are also some cups, a fire pit made out of rocks with ashes in the middle, a tea kettle that looks like it’s lived a busy life but has never actually been used here, at this spot. It is gray and covered in rust. It is tall and narrow and looks like something you’d find on a camping trip and not in a kitchen. There are old metal forks. A red compass. A stack of pornographic magazines and a pack of cigarettes. I notice that there is no lighter nearby but then I see a box of strike-anywhere matches. 23I see a trail that cuts through the corn where it has been trampled down a number of times by repeated use. 24Then I notice a second path. One leading somewhere and one leading somewhere else and which one will I choose? 25I look up and I see the day-moon and the sun both in the sky, both right next to one another and I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like that before. 26I feel a strong vibration in my body but I don’t know what it means. 27I push towards the path on the left and it winds through corn that is taller than I am, a mouse in a maze, an Earthling in a labyrinth. 28We are all observed and studied. 29How will I react? 30I feel like a child. 31I am lost and I am not afraid and not fearful but I feel like something terrible is going to grab me. I don’t want it to grab me. It will touch me. The black sleeves and the green hands with cuts and warts. And what are those hands attached to? What is on the other side of those hands? Is it a witch? No. It is faceless. 32A hungry, lusting darkness that lingers at the fringe of the peripheral. 33And where are you? What are you? Why do you make me feel like this and do you like it? Is my fear necessary to the world? Does my fear feed a creature that needs it the way my breath feeds the trees? Is my fear powerful? 34When the path ends I see that there is a small white farmhouse but I also see that it exists in a tiny little community. There is a small community playground with a swing set and a merry-go-round and a tractor to sit on and dig with. There is also a water fountain inside the head of a giant inanimate lion. There is an old barrel that is very tall and lying on its side – kids get in and run. It’s a human gerbil wheel. I see children running in it now. Four of them. Five of them. A girl in overalls tries to stand on her hands as the barrel spins, taking her in a full rotation, spinning her a day into the future around their imaginary sun. 35An old woman sits on a swing by herself. I notice that the other swing is empty and I know that she used to be married and that she used to have a husband and that she is very sad that he is gone and she misses him terribly because they were together their entire lives. Their whole life. 36They were together when she was fifteen and he was sixteen and they’ve now been together for sixty years. 37They don’t remember life before one another. 38The memory of their individual lives before their counterpart existed has long ago been washed away off the placards of remembrance. 39They were together for so long that she considers him a true extension of herself. 40He had the authority to act on both of their behalves because they had achieved such simpatico that they had become the same person in two bodies with two separate interests. 41They understood and achieved true love and compassion for the other person until they understood what the other person wanted perfectly. 42Her husband has been dead for three years and she doesn’t have any friends. She has people in her life but she would not consider them friends. They are okay to eat lunch with but she couldn’t share these thoughts and emotions with them. 43They don’t understand and none of them has ever lost a husband and she wishes she could speak to someone about it. 44And because I know I am supposed to, I approach her and ask how she is and she looks at me because the question is very straightforward. Her face crunches up and then becomes very kind and she says she is alright and I tell her that the day is beautiful and she agrees and I see the foot marks in the ground where her wooden shoes have been dragging back and forth in the dirt. 45Her skirt looks homemade. It is white and comprised of chicken feathers. She wears a pilgrim style bonnet that is white and her chest is covered in purple sheen although it is completely transparent. It projects a perfect twenty year old chest onto her body and it deceives the eyes in order to look as real as possible and this is what these people do here. 46It is okay and acceptable because it isn’t a question. 47She tells me that she is fine and I ask her if she knows which one of these buildings is a schoolhouse and then I hear a loud BANG or BOOM and it’s the same sound as before and she tells me to run with her. 48She gets off the swing and starts to strain towards a home. She is old and moves very, very slowly but I stood by her and I helped her as she hung onto my elbow. I notice that her back is quite hunched over. 49She takes me to a small plot of land that is filled with doors – just regular house doors – but they all appear the same. 50Identical black doors. 51There are no numbers on any of them. Just handles. 52She approaches one in the front row and opens it. Inside I see stairs spiraling downwards. 53I don’t ask if we are going underground because I know that we are not. 54The doors are vices that hold the fine fibrous Fabric of Feich open like surgical clamps hold open a wound. 55These doors lead to Someplace Else. 56It isn’t on this Earth but it also is not off this Earth. It is a kind of side-step to a higher perception of reality that exists on top of us, an overlay that we cannot perceive. 57We have not yet discovered where this other place is in relation to our world or planet or solar system or existence. 58Scientists have gone through and acquired samples and have found strange molecular patterns, sacred geometry and interesting fruits and flowers but still no people and the doors are too small to take any major tool through – like an astro-scope or bio-splitter. 59But I also know that scientist is a very loose term because the people in this village are the only people on this planet. 60There is no one else. 61The moment I heard the bang I knew. It was like the vibration alerted me. There are no others but these. 62I know this to be true. 63But what is out there? What is beyond their city? 64I need to know. Do I need to know? Do I want to know? Why does it matter? Why does it matter what is beyond their city? Why do I care? 64Is this my human nature? 65Is curiosity just an advanced form of the house cat and the laser pointer from the future of my old world past? Is my entire life someone’s stupid video? Am I the punch line to an advanced joke? 66Are alien children watching us and cooing, “Oh! He’s becoming curious! Watch him play with his curiosity! Hehe! He is going to see what that scratching noise is! He’s going to go investigate the odd auditory stimulation! Tee hee!” 67I have my life happening right here and I have problems at hand so why does it matter if there is a desert or a mountain or something else entirely out there? 68Right now I have to deal with this problem and that’s how I need to live my life. I need to appreciate the now and right now I need to get to safety and this old woman is walking very slowly but finally we do get close to the doors but before we do I see in the distance a great metal rod stamp out of the clouds and slam into the earth. 69BOOM            !! And then another. And another. And another. BOOM   !! BOOM          !!BOOM           !! The sound hits my ears seconds after the vision does. 70I ask her what they are doing and she says that they are collecting and I say, “For what?” because I already know who. 71She says that they are fixing them – hey, Chuck! – but I don’t know what she means and I also know that there are other people out there. 72Why was I so certain there was nobody else out there? How could I have known that? 73How could I have been so certain that it was true but now here I am being proven completely wrong? What else am I wrong about? What else is sneaking up on me? What else am I living with that I need to re-examine and release? 74She opens the door and enters first.

 

 

Return next Monday, May 30th for part 3 of 10 as we visit a prison at the center of time, witness the mystical collection of energy and fall into complete oblivion.

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The Spiraling Cornucopia of Pale Lavender [seq. 1 – 2]

[SEQ. I]1Inside, but also outside, of the grand sweltering nothingness I do not exist. Nor am I an I. No singularities drift. 2In empty space that is not cold, a warmth suddenly envelops me and I recognize and accept that I am a thing. 3Liquid washes over my being although I do not know the word liquid because I have never known anything. The currents of motion and time push me where they wish. 4I am the first of my kind. 5Something tingles at my core and I feel a tugging and a separation of my being before becoming aware that there is another. A second presence is nearby and it is the same as me because it came from me. 6I am a singular cell. A collection of atoms. A bond of life. I am both mortal and divine. I am spiritual and temporal. I am life. The very first. 7And now there is a second, made from me. My partner was pulled from my essence and made from my content. 8We are not identical but we are not the same. 9Another spasm and then we have some company. There are four of us. Eight of us. Sixteen of us. A village of faceless, emotionless, drifting amoebas in the liquid love juice of existence. 10We are the spermatozoa in the semen of creation. 11A tail. Gills. Limbs sprout from my core. Intentional movement drags me to a mate where we replicate and create our own life. Our community calls our replication evil. Says we are dabbling in the unknown. Playing God. 12The breath of life rushes over me again and I can move faster, hide better. 13Survive in the darkness. 14Stay away from That Thing that has engulfed so many of my kind. 14Above me is a sharp blanket. It hurts my eyes to look for too long. I push towards it. Ah, yes. Light. 15The pressure of the environment pushes back against me. 16Our tribe says not to go towards it. They say that is where God lives and we were meant to stay back. If He wanted us to approach Him, then He would not have placed the pressure barrier between us. 16My body has changed and the pressure doesn’t bother me any more. 17I am curious. 18I crawl along in the shallow dirt, the light just above me calling not my name, as I have no name, but calling me. My code. 19If it is God, I want to see. I want to press upon It with my eyes. 20I press on to the light and then, like a gentle slap, my face births from the water and I understand that I am in water and that there is such a thing as out of water. 21I have been reborn. 22One step at a time I emerge from the ocean, the cradle of existence, the warm goo that is The Earth’s Womb. As I have birthed a child, so too has the Earth. 23The air is cold and a fibrous material begins to coat my body, covering me, changing my form. 24Fruit hangs from trees and I crawl up them to eat their sweetness and I look around and I see The Land stretch out in front of me in such a great distance that I become dizzy observing The Eternal. 25I hop out of the tree and my face has altered. 26In the distance I hear a noise and when I follow it with my recent eyes, I see a four footed creature behind a tree. It too is covered in brown fur but it is not like me. My stomach rumbles and I know what I must do but I know not how. 27I straighten up, accepting the task at hand. 28I pick up a stick that has fallen to the ground. I rub it against a rock until the end is sharp and I hunt. I follow the creature until I fall upon it and I stab it. 29Red life gushes out of it in currents and I drop to my knees and press my hands into the warm blood. I did this to you. You gave your life for me. I am grateful for you. 30I watch as its eyes blink, staring into the trees. I follow its gaze and see another one like it but a smaller version. A baby. 31I am ambivalent to it. 32Without waiting for my beast to die, I reach my fingers into its chest and I pull, ripping open the skin. Greasy and stinking organs ooze out of its hole and coalesce at my feet. 33What are you? What is it that controls you? 34I dig in deeper and find a hard white material. I crack it open and expose a soft beating rock. I lift it up. Here you are. 35And I smell it and I engulf it and I am filled up and the creature that is a part of this place becomes a part of me and I become stronger. 36A breeze scratches me and I find that I am cold and so I peel off the hide of this creature and I wrap myself in it, dripping blood down my naked and goose pimpled body. 37I stand above this beast and I stare at its empty shell. I stare into its hollow eyes and I send my value and worth towards it. I am grateful that it has given its life for me. It has given me food and warmth at the very cost of its breath. 38I recognize something called color and that each object in my surroundings contains variances of its own. 39In an empty field that is green and yellow, a forest suddenly bursts from the ground, not saplings but large oaks that are mature and the Earth continues to change as I do. 40It happens fast because I don’t pay attention. 41There are natural holes in the trees trunks, inverted knots, where small animals roost and nest. Creatures scurry in the branches. I see a red squirrel with a white belly and a fuzzy tail. It has big cheeks, full of food. The squirrel runs down and curls up in the hole of the tree but then the tree eats it, consumes it, nurtures itself. 41It contracts and the hole squeezes shut and I hear a crunch and a squeal and the tail of the squirrel, which is trapped outside of the nest, gives a few weak kicks and then the tree sucks it in like a dog eating spaghetti. 42I walk towards the river and I find a small raft made out of thick cut branches tied together with old yellow fabric. 43Who built this? 44Underneath the raft I find a dead and bloated body that resembles my own save for the color of the skin. Where mine is dark, his is light. It reminds me of the color I saw in the ocean, hovering above me. 45Could this be the source of the light? Could this be God? 46Has our understanding of God been wrong? 47This is a man with a potbelly. He has white hair in a male patterned type of baldness. His skin has turned into cottage cheese. His eyes used to be green but now they look like someone has poured glue over them. His fingernails are yellow and brown and caked with dirt. 48I wonder what this man’s penis looks like, mangled and gross, bloated and crawling with bugs. 49He is wearing a white shirt with blue trim. The subtle intricacies of the design are unparalleled. How he was able to fabricate such a creation sits beyond the fence of my understanding and must be a kind of divine wonder. 50I wonder what is in his pockets. I wonder who this man was. 51I hear another crunch and my senses tingle. I turn my head and see another beast walking towards me but this one is far different. It is what I will look like someday. It is what I will become. What I will change into if I am left to change. But I will not be left to change. This thing is about to take me away and show me things. 52I have been chosen. I have been chosen. 53If the others thought the bloated man was God, it was because they did not lay eyes upon the creature approaching me in grace. 54It is short and thin – its body structure narrow and delicate. It has big black eyes and gray skin. It approaches me and I see that it has a very tiny mouth. 55I wonder if it has teeth. 56It stands before me and we observe one another in silence. 57The Great Being looks at me and I get lost in those monolithic eyes. Getting lost in their darkness. Am lost. 58I want to sing their praises and write their poetry. A sense of awe pours over me and I realize how tiny I am. The Earth that I saw from the top of the tree is nothing. 59I am a speck of shit on the toilet paper of existence. And now I’m going to have my nose rubbed in it for thinking I was better than I was. Such a foolish and limited creature I am. My stupidity and primal state are embarrassing. 60I take a step closer. I could touch it if I chose. Or I could try to. 61A gentle humming that is not verbal radiates from the body and sends shivers up my spine. My penis tingles and a tear runs down my cheek. I smile and my hands clench to fists. I drop to my knees and stare up at this thing. “I love you. Please. Save me. Show me. Anything.” 62If it wanted to, it could end me. It could simply cap off my life and tear me open and wear my skin to cover its nakedness but I sense that it won’t because it has not an interest, but no need to do it. 63The holy black eye surrounds me and [SEQ. II] 1then I am standing on a craft that crawls through the blackness of space. 2I know this to be true. 3The fence that circles my mind doubles outward and I see the lay of more land. My understanding rises up out of the Earthly sludge and comprehension of things previously unknown dawn on me like the beginning of time. 4I now understand that there is a fence and that my mind can only approach the fence and that I cannot wander past it. Present, future and past tense are moot. All happen simultaneously. Language tense is invalid and lacking true dimensionality. 5All around me are greys, none of them staring, all of them observing. I am the center of naked attention. 6There are machines everywhere. And hallways that seem endless. 7I walk down one and off to the side I see a woman with the top of her head split open and her brain exposed but she is still alive. She says, “Hey, Chuck!” and wiggles her eyebrows at me in a friendly gesture. Her hair is brown and curly. The grey operating on her brain reminds me more of a mechanic than a doctor. 8He is just fixing a small problem in one of the machines. 9I enter another room that is more like a great hall and see that it is more vast than my simple field. So large that I cannot see the roof. 10Where am I? Am I not on a craft? The sky seems endless. Am I on a planet? Where have they taken me? 11The inside of the cavern glows with perfect light that radiates from nowhere. The essence of life gives light to itself. It is a light that exists at the origin of everything.

 

 

Return next Monday, May 23rd for part 2 of 10 as our adventure continues through the realms of deep space. We’ll also ground down to a small village and meet a woman who carries the weight of many lifetimes of misery. She will guide us to a community park filled with doors that lead us to the land of Somewhere Else. Fear, hope, anxiety, betrayal and escape. This is the beginning.

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WHAT IS The Spiraling Cornucopia of Pale Lavender?

Dear Audience,

Today is Friday, May 13th.

On Monday, May 16th, the first part of my novella The Spiraling Cornucopia of Pale Lavender will premiere here, at JohnnyBeBald.com.

The book is broken into 18 Sequences (or chapters) which will premiere here over the next 10 weeks, roughly 2 Sequences at a time. Mondays will see the release of Pale Lavender. Wednesdays will continue to be regular scheduled programming of the more traditional content.

The majority of work that I write here is non-fiction and based upon my life, whether that be my experiences as a father, husband, son, friend, stranger, road tripper, camper, adventurist, spiritual explorer or inhabitant of this planet / universe. I like to think that I write about the human condition in all its glory, both good and bad, from a multitude of perspectives, and I like to hope that we all, as a group, grow together through it.

It is my goal that you see some of yourself in some of my stories and that we can all re-examine our lives through group illumination.

That said, Pale Lavender is something completely different and please consider this post the back-of-the-book or inside-flap read to prepare you for what is to come, in case you’ve decided to take this journey with us.

The Spiraling Cornucopia of Pale Lavender opens on pre-time, pre-existence, pre-life of any form, and follows a single entity from before the dawn of time, through its journey across various plateaus of reality, consciousness and spirituality in a variety of bodies and identities, in its quest for Ultimate Truth.

It is told in one continuous paragraph and, due to this, the Sequence breaks will appear at random. This is the nature of the piece.

At the end, on the 11th week, I will post the book in its entirety from top to bottom in a single post. Beyond that, I would love to release it as an e-book.

This is the first time that I’ve released something of substance that is fiction – and especially fiction that is so far removed from my traditional wheelhouse – and so am experiencing a certain sense of nakedness, exposure and vulnerability. But to grow as people, I believe that we must leave our comfort zones.

I’m very excited to present this to you and it is my hope that, in some way, by reading it, it also makes you feel naked, exposed and vulnerable.

Have a great weekend and we’ll see you all on Monday.

Johnny

 

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The Genesis of Observation

 

In our beginning, existence was formless and empty, darkness and abyss were over the surface of the cosmos. The Observer witnessed the creation of space and time.

And The Observer witnessed a great star ignite in the abyss, burning hydrogen and creating heat. The Observer noted that with light came darkness. Millions of years passed.

And The Observer witnessed gases collect around mass and create atmosphere and The Observer noted: This will contain the elements necessary for life and will protect the inhabitants from elsewhereSlowly, the atmosphere formed. 8Millions of years passed.

And The Observer witnessed pressures underground shift the plates of the planets and the low spots began to gather water and the high spots began to gather snow if the elements allowed. 10 The Observer witnessed the formation of dry ground and the formation of seas. And after millions of years, The Observer noted that it was good.

11Then The Observer witnessed vegetation evolve from the soil. The land produced many seed-bearing plants and many trees that bore fruit with seed within them. 12 And after millions of years, The Observer noted that it was good. 13 Time passed.

14 And The Observer witnessed more hydrogen atoms begin to ignite in the cosmos across vast distances. And The Observer noted that constellations could serve as signs to mark time passing from other shores, 15 and the stars gave light to the Earth and everywhere.” 16 The Observer witnessed Alpha Centauri ignite, which would warm Earth and The Observer witnessed gravity draw the moon into the orbit of the Earth. 17 The Observer noted that the moon reflected light from the sun back onto Earth at night, 18 and new evolutions began. And after millions of years, The Observer noted that it was good.19 Time passed.

20 And The Observer witnessed the individual cells of life continue to multiply and witnessed them evolve. The Observer witnessed them divide in the water and crawl towards the land. The Observer witnessed them evolve wings to fly in the air across the sky. 21 The Observer witnessed the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it evolve, according to their kinds, and every winged bird evolve, according to its kind. And after millions of years, The Observer noted that it was good. 22 The Observer also noted that the creatures continued to divide. 23 Time passed.

24 And The Observer witnessed creatures evolve from the sea and walk upon the land: the livestock, the creatures that moved along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind. 25 The Observer witnessed the wild animals, the livestock, and all the creatures that moved along the ground, evolve and change. And after millions of years, The Observer noted that it was good.

26 Then The Observer witnessed their brains evolve conscience and self awareness and witnessed them becoming more intelligent than their ancestors had been so that they could care for them; the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, and the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and all the creatures that moved along the ground.

27 So The Observer witnessed the creatures evolve,
with self awareness and consciousness, both sexes evolved;
male and female both evolved together.

28 The Observer noted, I hope they are kind to one another; it is a great thing to care for the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and every living creature that moves on the ground.

29 Then The Observer noted: Their bodies have evolved to fit this planet perfectly. They can sustain themselves on the vegetation of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it.30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.

31 After billions of years, The Observer noted: the machine works. Time continued to pass.

 

 

 

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