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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Dreams That Haunt Us

This morning I woke up to a surreality. I dreamed that I was on a truck with four young men, in the bed of the truck, horsing around like five young guys would do. We laughed and joked as the driver of the truck drove us along a dirt road that gently wound it's way through the foothills of a quasi-desert. If you've been up the Ute Trail near Salida, you know what I'm talking about. It's a desert with rocks everywhere, each potentially hiding a rattlesnake. The trees aren't too thick, but they are there, short and dry pinion trees. But anyway, back to the dream...

So were driving through this open space, and suddenly the truck starts, and we aren't in it anymore. The five of us are in a stadium of sorts, behind the stands, in the dark of the concession area. I look around, and the guys are now in military uniforms. We walk out to the balcony where the stands would be and look down. Beneath us, a street comes out of a tunnell, and the packed stadium is built around it. Everyone's cheering. From the tunnell are troops, marching in parade with tanks and even an F-18 fighter jet. Amazing.

Suddenly we're on ground level in the parade. I let my guard down, and feel honor and duty swell up in me, just in time for the parade to be suicide bombed. I saw some things in my dream that I dare not repeat on a public blog, but wow....

I woke up this morning motivated. To do what, I don't exactly know. I'm still hanging in this odd daze. I can't get over just how powerful our brains are to be able to create such a vivid world, so vivid that it can effect our emotions for hours or days or even years after we wake up.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Snow Day Enlightenment

I was supposed to work today, a Sunday. Yesterday I went with a co-worker and spent 8 hours driving to Colorado Springs in the snow, installing window graphics on two banks, and driving back. Afterwards, I allowed myself to enjoy a Saturday and went to another co-worker's birthday celebration. I sang some comically offensive song, drank some delicious beer, and made a great night. I defended my friend and co-worker against those who would seek to hurt his feelings, and then I laughed and made everone else laugh.

Today I woke up exhausted, so I shot a text to my co-worker. Today is a snow day, I'm going to enjoy it. I took a brief ride in the beat up, battle-ridden BattleWagon (whose recovery from the infamous Battle of Trout Creek is still on-going). I went to the grocery store and got the fixings for a crock-pot of Red Chili, using hot italian sausage and ground buffalo instead of the more traditional ground beef. I spruced my apartment up, and I caught up on some liberally religious newsletters I've been neglecting.

It's amazing to me how much we neglect when we get so caught up in things. We work and do chores and go to sleep. We wake up, we do it all over again. Sometimes we squeeze in some time for reading or, accidentally, TV. We listen to the radio during our commutes, and we go on with our lives having just had a snippet of what may be going on in the larger world than our own.

Last night, I met some incredible people and had a wonderful time. It was excellent to be able to get out and do something that wasn't the normal ebb and flow of life. Today, I'm learning how important it is that we all do this regularly. It's difficult to do, I know, but it's necessary for our sanity to take time to appreciate or even accept that there are things, people, pets, news... there is stuff that we're missing. To gain knowledge is to truly grow a healthy thirst for more knowledge, and when we fail to come to terms with this, we become stagnant, not desiring to learn or do anything else, for that matter.

Don't be complacent or stagnant or bland with your life. Learn and grow and learn some more. It's much too short a trip here on this blue and green and white sphere to simply let it fly by us and vanish.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Depends on the Day

Lately I've been pretty introspective, looking inside myself for the things that make me tick. What it all seems to come back to is what and how I believe.  Coincidentally, I've had several spiritually minded newsletters and conversations find their ways into my life, including an opportunity with a curious young lady who asked me what I believe. I told her it depends on the day. It got me thinking about things, and I had to ask myself more seriously what I really do believe.

I don't think we should confine ourselves to believing a religion. I wrote a blog a while ago about what I believed, using the word "belief" in a different context. My spiritual journey has taken me from my naturalist roots through brief stints in Evangelist Christianity, Buddhism, Agnosticism, Humanism, Jediism, Athiesm, and even a made-up religion my high school friend Donavan and I created called Schlingoism.  Where it deposited me, roughly, is a place that I sort of conveniently call myself a Universalist, or more specifically, Unitarian-Universalist. However, I think the specific label is a mis-nomer, for the Unitarianism within that church is all but dead. Far gone are the days where most of the church claimed to be Christians who rejected the idea of the Trinity. It seems that now everyone would fit into the Universalist category.

Basically, this means we believe whatever we want. God is a term used loosely and interchangably with words like "will", "universe" and "spirit". We understand that there is something that ties everything together, and however we decide we want to view that web, that's up to us.

So that puts me in a place to answer the question of what I believe. The answer: I don't exactly know. It's always growing, always changing. I do believe that there's a source (call it God if you want) that is like a silent guide that helps us find our own way if we're willing to let it. I do believe that death is but a way for us to pass on to the next level of conscious existence. I do believe that we should challenge what we hold as true constantly, knowing throughout that the idea of truth itself is only relative to our experiences. I do believe certain people throughout history have mastered their emotions and actions enough to become prophets and visionaries.

So, is this a religion? Maybe not, but putting this all together in my head, heart, and soul (my trinity, oddly enough), I feel like I've gotten a deeper understanding of life itself. Perhaps this IS a religion to some. It feels more personal than any faith I've ever been officially a part of. It feels like I've done all the work and will continue to do so, and every new thing I discover makes me fele that much more joyous and tuned in to the world in which I exist.

I suppose the moral of the story is this:  The next time someone asks you what you believe or what church you go to, really think about your answer. For me, I'm very content and satisfied to have the where-with-all to simply reply "depends on the day".

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

It's been a very challenging week or so for me. It's been a difficult time that put a few things into perspective yet exploded other things so far out of perspective that I can't help but simply have faith that I may start to get it... someday.

Take death, for example. So many of us have such a difficult time when we lose someone close to us. Some of us even crumble when we lose our childhood pet. After surviving the initial shock, we move on into a stage where we wonder how we will ever get by without the person we lost.

Up until recently, I was under the impression that I had moved through this stage rather quickly. I thought I believed that I was ready to celebrate, not remembering what I had lost, but instead chosing to focus on what they had achieved and where they are now. I veiled my own sadness in blankets of joy, failing to acknowledge that the pain was hidden underneath the whole time.

Now that some time has passed and I have grown and learned some hard lessons (lessons that I taught myself through the cunning use of mistakes), I've discovered that there are very hard parts of our lives that we can't simply lie to ourselves (or others) about, covering the pain within ourselves with falsehood. I've started to discover the joy of pain, rather, the relief and growth that can be found in acknowledging and sharing the things in life that we somehow con ourselves into thinking we need to wrap in some sort of escape and toss over the side of the mighty ships of our own souls.

I challenge those who read my blog to grow as much as possible.  Feed your soul by doing things like reading books and magazines and newspapers and talking to friends and strangers and loved ones and everyone else.

Don't fear.  Nourish the saplings in that they will grow to be among tallest trees in the forests of our souls.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Russ for President, 2020

I know this probably isn't the best idea for me, personally, but I feel like I have something to contribute. After reading Friday's Denver Post and seeing the bickering, the arguing, the shady deals, the behind-closed-doors antics, the public displays of power and conflict, and after electing the symbol of HOPE I feel we all wished would bring the change we so desired.... after all of this, I'm deciding, not only to support Todd O'Brien in 2012 (, but I hope to launch my own campaign in the coming months. My platform will not be based solely on my own thoughts and opinions. I desire to create a website where people can securely log in and vote and tell me which way to vote on whatever issue is in question. I desire to have a camera crew follow me around and post every second of my life on my website to show the people that I will not be making closed door deals or having secret rendezvous with anyone out of the ordinary, both during my term and in my campaign. I will not accept campaign contributions or accept gifts from the ceo's of failing and corrupt corporations. I fight for those who have earned their lot in life or worked hard and have unfairly been robbed. My platform is serving the people, serving my country. My cabinet will consist of friends, not people with the sort of "experience" that Washington "requires". And, when all the dust settles, I will drive my then-26-year-old BattleWagon right down Pennsylvania Avenue, a symbol to all that even a broke and dirty hippie who reads the news and digs to find out what's REALLY going on, can become president of these United States.

My tirade, brought to you by the shady dealers in Washington, stealing your freedom more and more every year! Get your lapel pin now! Supplies are limited. Made in China.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Retrospective Look at Clarksville

While on my road trip last week with Monkey, he snapped this morning picture before we set off for home. We stayed the previous night in Clarksville, which was beautiful, although it wasn't Chattanooga.

Digressing into current events, the time has fallen back to standard time, and it's nearly dark now, just after 5 pm, here in the Centennial State. The sky is overcast, and it's bitter outside. My mood seems to reflect what's going on outside. This time of year always seems to remind me what I've lost, what I've thrown away. There's a song by Incubus called "11am", and it opens with the lyrics: "7 am. The garbage truck beeps as it backs up, and I start my day thinking about what I've thrown away. Can I push rewind? Are the credits rolling signifying the end? Did I miss the best part? Can we please go back to start? Forgive my indecision..." I love that song. In a very general way, it seems to correlate with my mood when I'm down and morose, and finally appropriately connected with the not-so-joyous memories of my life.

There are times when I am happy where I long for the balance of feeling not so great, where I am frustrated that I can't seem to be immersed in emotions I feel should be tied to memories. When these times finally arrive, it's bitter, yet also sweet in that it gives me hope and faith that I am whole and not fractured.

Random Musings on Society

I've been reading a lot of news lately, news about health care reform and balloon boys, wars and potential troop deployments, mid-air collisions and innocent, young ladies being traumatized after their high school homecomings. My friends and family are drinking, celebrating, mourning the deployment of their husbands, laughing and crying together, laughing and crying alone.

I think about the things I learned in history class and things I've researched on my own, talking about how we were as a society and culture and as a nation. We used to have block parties and talk to our neighbors. We used to let our kids vanish for hours at a time, to where, God knows, only having faith that they would be home for dinner. We used to care about things that meant something and dismissed trivial things as they are, in fact, trivial.

Now we've shifted. We don't let our kids leave the house. Some of us do, and are branded "bad parents". We don't know our neighbors, and we don't know what's really going on in the news. We do know that Eastasia is at war with Oceania... or, wait... that we are at war with the Taliban and terrorism as a whole. We're at war with an idea. What happened to the guy who sued God in Nebreska? He's crazy! But we're at war with terrorism, and that's accepted. Grab your duct tape and plastic wrap.

I don't have time to mold this into anything cohenent and constructive, so I leave you with this: get involved and care about what you get involved in. Enrich your life and grow with those around you. Love deeply, despire the potential consequences.