Monday, April 21, 2014

My Evolving Stance On Religion & God



Admittedly, I can be pretty tough on religion. For the most part, I think I've been fair in my treatment of it overall. Yes, I focus on the negative aspects about 90% of the time. This isn't a newspaper, so if you want balance find it elsewhere. There are plenty of apologists and supporters that can tell you about the good things that religion can bring to the table. Often though, they act as though the good that is done by the religious couldn't be done without the behest of an ancient book. I take major exception with that premise, as even a two or three year old child can feel when someone is in need of comfort. For that matter, there are less evolved primates that can feel sympathy and care for others. That's not where I'm going today though. I want to actually put some of my thoughts down on how religion can be a benefit without being a detriment. Of course, I realize, even before I forge ahead that I will likely aggravate both the believer and non-believer with what I have to say. That's OK. I feel like maybe I'm doing something right if that's the case! 

Perhaps it's time to put aside the miracles. I don't care how devout you are, there has to be that little voice in back of your mind saying "That didn't happen.". No, it's not the "debil" saying that, it's your common sense. There are more reasonable explanations. And among those explanations are.....someone made it up. The virgin birth is not mentioned in two of the gospels. I, personally, would think that would be a pretty big deal if I were writing an account of someone that I considered to be the son of god. A better explanation would be that the authors (and nobody is 100% sure of who they are) that did include it were fulfilling prophecy. I'm not going to start listing all of them, but since there are no credible accounts of miracles since, it's pretty safe to say that the miracles were probably made up or misinterpreted. A lone person such as Muhammad, Paul/Saul, Joseph Smith, etc seeing heaven and being told what to do by god could just as easily been a mental delusion or the effects of psycho-active drugs. It happens today all the time (UFO sightings, people saying Jesus appeared to them), but nobody gives them credence. Read it in a 2,000 year old book and suddenly it's the spot on truth! Let's not pretend that people were not using hallucinogens for religious ceremonies in the past. That's been happening all over the world for thousands of years and could very well be the basis for why Jesus said the kingdom of is within you. I certainly know that I have felt that connection much stronger in seeking "god" (I really hate using that term, but for the sake of understanding I will) apart from religion than I ever did when I was immersed in it. Most eastern religions also refer to god or heaven being inside of us and not an external place to be sought after. So, I guess in these areas I'm asking folks to consider that the books written thousands of years ago may contain quite a few exaggerations, inaccuracy, and perhaps some passages that need to be re-examined in the context of what is possible or mostly probable. 



What about the notion of defining the attributes of god? God is explained in the ancient texts of our most popular religions as a man. A man with very human attributes and what we would consider flaws if we were speaking of a human being. We are told god is all loving, yet he is unforgiving. We are told god knows endless grace, yet he is vengeful. Maybe, just maybe, god has all the attributes of man because that's exactly who created the account of what/who god is? Why would god have a sex? Why would god need to be full of vengeance and anger? Why would god need to be jealous? Not very god-like attributes are they? Sounds like you or I, doesn't it? If we let go and actually admit to ourselves that we have no idea who or what god is, we could unshackle our imaginations and allow ourselves to be truly in awe of what god is (if god exists). What a wonderful creation we have. What an awe inspiring universe we are a very small part of. Do we need to be so certain that we are the center of it all? Do we have to be so certain that a very human-like god is keeping an eye on everything as a sort of cosmic pit boss? How about seeing the watchful eye of god in nature? That we are evolving and nature takes care of its own by instilling survival skills that can adapt to different environments or stimulus? Philosopher Alan Watts says that god is everywhere and everything, so any harm you do to anything else, means you are hurting god. He also says, so brilliantly that "the only god we can cling to, is the idea of god". Watts means that we can't possibly know something that is by definition vastly superior to us, and also is us. You let go of the idea of god because god can't possibly be defined in any way that doesn't limit it. I am not certain either way if there is a god or not. I will say this; if there is a god, I am CERTAIN that I wouldn't know how to describe it. Anything that we say about god must be so weak that we do a disservice to the very notion of what an all-powerful entity is. It's a disgrace to describe god. The religious texts are very wanting in the description of god. Amazing and awesome are even inadequate if there truly is a creator, don't you think? 



The devil and hell have to go. Much of the Old Testament doesn't really deal with the idea of hell after death. That death is merely the end with no eternal torture. Depending on the OT translation, "hell" could mean several things from merely being non-existent to a separation from god. I've said a good bit on hell on this blog before and don't intend to repeat much other than this; an eternal hell is in direct opposition to a loving and forgiving god. This notion of blaming everything that isn't "godly" on the devil is excuse making for our own humanity. It's time to stop bringing people to eternal love with the fear of eternal torture. Notice, I didn't say punishment....I said torture. That's the only way to describe what hell is as defined by most modern religious folks. 


Let's bring the ancient texts into modern times. The Bible/Torah/Koran are only precious and not meant to be altered because they say they are. They are only true because they say they are. Could you write "Kobe Bryant is god" on a napkin and use that as proof that Kobe Bryant is god? Of course not, so why would you take the word of a book that a bunch of people wrote that had absolutely no knowledge of how our natural existence worked? Because the books tell you to, right? See where I'm coming from? 

The 10 Commandments are nice, but we know that they are not the absolute authority on how human beings should act. There are some good ideas there, but any guide that doesn't include something about treating women and children humanely might need some revamping. A guide of morality such as the Bible is called that doesn't tell us to abolish slavery, yet tells us just how severely we can beat our slaves might not be that moral. I guess I will defer to Sam Harris on the 10 Commandments; 

“If you think that it would be impossible to improve upon the Ten Commandments as a statement of morality, you really owe it to yourself to read some other scriptures. Once again, we need look no further than the Jains: Mahavira, the Jain patriarch, surpassed the morality of the Bible with a single sentence: "Do not injure, abuse, oppress, enslave, insult, torment, torture, or kill any creature or living being." Imagine how different our world might be if the Bible contained this as its central precept. Christians have abused, oppressed, enslaved, insulted, tormented, tortured, and killed people in the name of God for centuries, on the basis of a theologically defensible reading of the Bible. (23)” 
― Sam HarrisLetter to a Christian Nation

We could merely lift the ideas that are fit for modern time and apply them to our lives. It'd be so easy. Jesus and Muhammad supposedly said some great things and among those were lessons on how to treat other people and even animals. How can modern Christians and Muslims hold to those standards while at the same time wanting to deny the mere humanity of homosexuals, women, children, and opposing faiths? This "do unto others" thing doesn't really work unless you apply it to yourself honestly. If judgement truly is for god, you must give up judgement. We could also use a heavy dose of "STFU" when it comes to wanting to teach religions dogma in public schools. Science is science and we can't teach our children that Adam and Eve and Noah are the origins of life on the planet. We are already slipping down the list of the top educated countries and we continue to confuse the issue by telling our kids that the Bible/Koran can tell them more about the world they live in than modern science and basic common knowledge. The stories in these books can be inspirational and strong metaphors for living a life, but to teach them as truth is outlandish and a disservice to our nation and to humanity. 

We have seen the Crusades where Christians would "save" (baptize) babies before murdering them to serve god. We have seen Muslims blow themselves up taking life with them in order to serve god. These are extreme cases, but these things are done in the name of ancient texts which have no bearing on our modern society. Christianity has mostly evolved past the killing of apostates, but Islam is still behind the game. The ancient books hold us back. They separate us. They shame us as a species in how they ask us to treat people who do not believe as we do. 

Religion can be such a positive and if people truly think of their god as all loving and all forgiving, then they need to start acting like it and separate what they know in their hearts and minds from what they are being told by people that were trying to control populations and force their will on the poor and weak thousands of years ago. They still hold power today and that's a disgrace. Make religion personal. Make it about you and your relationship with god. If you say with your mouth that god is love and wants us to love one another than start reflecting it in your actions. It doesn't have to involve hate, distrust, and separation from others does it? Do we really think that is what god would want? 



So, I say that we can move towards a more harmonious existence that may well please a god by showing love, forgiveness, empathy, and understanding to one another. Not just to those who agree, but with everyone. We are not us and they are not them. We are all the same. We are of the same species. We belong to the planet and should be doing all we can to preserve this place for future generations. We should be doing all we can to ensure that our children have a pathway for living a life that doesn't involve worry about being ostracized for being a different color or of different sexual orientation. Shouldn't our children grow up thinking of others and how we can better existence for everyone? Should another 18 year old have to die in a war that is fueled by the unwavering dogma of a religion that holds absolutely no relevance in our modern times? Do you think the Middle East problems are going to be solved? If you do, you better think again. The problems in the Middle East are directly related to the notion that the believers of different religions (that all believe in the same god, the god of Abraham,oh by the way) think god promised them a piece of land that is for them and them only. That's not going to be solved until we set aside the two thousand year old bullshit. Nobody owns god, but I see people every single day that act like they do. To pretend to know what god wants is very presumptuous and prideful. If anything would help us to avoid killing or hurting one another it would be understanding at least that much. 

I could have really sunk my teeth in to more, but I'm not writing a book here. Our modern society can benefit from all religions fulfilling what many modern believers see as their core values; selflessness, forgiveness, understanding, kindness, and love. If you believe those are the attributes of the god that you worship, why would you accept the awful and disgraceful written words that implore the religious to act in direct opposition to those things? It's a tall order, but isn't it worth the effort?

I guess I'll close this by saying that I don't have a belief in "god". I do not have unbelief in "god". It is religion that I have the problem with. You Christians should really dig into the words of Jesus a bit deeper and think of them on a deeper level. I can't imagine that his words can be taken as someone that was intending to create a dogmatic religion based on his existence. I merely want to find as much understanding and knowledge as I can and religion gets in the way of that by limiting my (dare I say it?) god given gifts of reason, intellect, and curiosity. In that way, it doesn't matter to me if a god exists. I know that there is at least one conscious being on this planet and it's me. I can't be certain about anyone else. For now, I'm a part of the universe experiencing itself. I am not perfect, but even though I fail quite often, I want to try to treat people decent and with love.  I truly don't believe any amount of jumping through dogmatic hoops will honor our existence or a possible creator more than that. 











Saturday, March 29, 2014

Deadwood: One Helluva Dramatic Series



All I can say after finishing up the series "Deadwood" is "WOW!". I didn't expect to enjoy it and be as engrossed in the story and characters as I was. It's sort of a western, but it isn't your typical "cowboy" movie or program that most of us are used to seeing. It is a true dramatic series with layers of black humor and metaphor. HBO has always delivered great television and this program was no exception.

I see the United States and how it came to be as the real story of "Deadwood". Deadwood was a mining town on Indian territory that basically cropped up without law. It didn't have to have law, because it was an illegal settlement due to it breaking a treaty between the US government and the Sioux native Americans. The government didn't break the treaty, but miners and those from the east looking to strike it rich did. As a lawless new town being founded by people looking for wealth and to start new lives, I see it as representing the founding of the United States. The native Americans were drove back and demonized at every turn as that was what was best for the town and the only way to maintain distrust enough to ensure that people would be unified in believing they had a right to this land and the riches, because the Sioux were savages (at least that was the narrative that helped keep the camp united). 



The people that founded the settlement didn't want law, but as the population continued to grow, it was inevitable that there would have to be some organization and rules that would be expected to be followed. Our nation underwent the same thing. As we (the United States) grew, there was a need to develop a way of life that would protect the interest of the people and give order to everyday life. 



The two main characters, Swearengen and Bullock, both want to enjoy the benefits of being business owners in a lawless territory where wealth or the potential for wealth was abound. They were at odds often times and there was almost a father/son aspect that grew out of their stormy relationship. They and the town were challenged by Hearst, a wealthy and ruthless business man who came to Deadwood to buy up all the gold claims and exploit the labor and the town itself for all he could get. The lack of law allowed him to manipulate different aspects of the town and to pit greed and opportunism against the common good. This brought Swearengen and Bullock together and eventually led the town to bring order through a sort of psuedo-government. The Hearst character represented ruthless greed. The "corporate" interest in Hearst character wasn't good for the town and if it were to survive, then the common man and business owner were going to have to unite so they could continue to carve their place out in this place they wanted to be their home. These things along with other story lines revealed that the story of "Deadwood" is about the town itself and how it developed, just like our nation did. 

There is so much more to write about the subplots, but if you have read this far, you have likely already watched it or you are contemplating it, and I don't want to ruin any of it for anyone. 

I've watched a lot of good drama series, but as a whole, this ranks right up near the top of the list. "The Sopranos" is the best series I have ever watched, with "Lost", "The Wire" and "Breaking Bad" right up there and I have to say that "Deadwood" is certainly in that group and if not for it ending without a true conclusion, I'd say it would best those programs. The story never takes on more than it can deliver for you to understand. But don't think that means there isn't depth and subtlety. There is plenty and most of it revolves around how individual relationships have an effect on the development of the town. The acting is simply superb. The characters are fleshed out as not "old west" characters, but as real human beings with flaws and hidden virtue that are usually revealed with a deft touch, so as not to allow a black and white view of who that person is. 



"The Sopranos" seemed to be about how organization and living by a code effected individuals and their behavior, and "Deadwood" is probably the opposite. It's the story of how individual behavior fostered the need for organization and law. 

There is so much more I could write on this in regards to the actors and the characters, but if you are at all interested in this program, that's left for you to enjoy! Check out this list of actors and you just have to know that you are getting some authentic depictions of many characters that really existed and some composites. The leads are played by Ian McShane and Timothy Olyphant (who does a spot on Clint Eastwood without reducing it to strict imitation), but Powers Boothe is a strong presence and Brad Dourif is brilliant as the town's doctor. Other highly regarded actors that brought their skills to the show are Garrett Dillahunt, Brian Cox, Jeffrey Jones,  Keith Carradine, Titus Welliver, Molly Parker, John Hawkes, William Sanderson, and W. Earl Brown. Most of the main characters were real people that were in Deadwood and many of the story lines are based on actual events. 

If you like dramatic, authentic television and are a fan of seeing great acting, then give this show a whirl! I don't think you'll be disappointed. Yes, it's only three seasons, but it was well worth my time and left me wanting more.

This is a really cool "trailer" using "God's Gonna Cut You Down". 












Thursday, January 9, 2014

A Different Angle On Louisville Hiring Bobby Petrino


Yes, I am a Louisville Cardinal sports fan. I have been for almost all of my life. It's only natural that I would have some sort of opinion on the Cardinals hiring Bobby Petrino to coach the football team again. How do I feel about that? Well, I'll be honest, because that's all I ever am. 

I like it and I'm not ashamed to say I like it for mostly football reasons. I like watching the team win games and that's my primary focus as a fan. It's also the primary focus of most fans, because most fans of a college program didn't get their education at that school. They have no stake in the reputation of the university. The stake most of us have is in the amount of time and money we put into following our favorite team. Louisville is going into the toughest division in the ACC with Florida State and Clemson. This program is bigger than it was just a year ago. It's not every day you get to hire someone that has the kind of experience that Petrino does when it comes to winning games against big competition. 

The reason that this is even worth writing about is because there is an angle to this hiring that goes beyond wins and loses for a lot of people. Some Louisville fans and fans of other programs that compete with Louisville think it's terrible that Petrino got another chance. I don't. Why? Because the best athletic director in the country seems to have the best interest in his heart, not only for the university, but for people. Oh, and winning....make no mistake about that. This is also about wins and losses. That said, Tom Jurich has been a guy that isn't scared to give people a second chance. As a human being I find that supremely important. If nothing else, we are all flawed creatures and if it were not for the dozens of second chances I have been given by family, friends, employers, and mentors in my life there is no telling where I'd be. Most of us grow as we age because we have been through times where we were not up to snuff, which is to say the standards of those who love us and even more importantly, our own standards in many cases. We grow because we gain knowledge and insight from situations that test our ability to rise up from dark, difficult, or unhealthy places.

This hire is more about Tom Jurich than it is Bobby Petrino. Jurich has put himself out there. This is on him. If Petrino screws him, it's just a snake being a snake and the guy that gets bit is the fool. If  Petrino doesn't come through and make the most of this opportunity then Jurich will be held accountable by his employers, employees, and supporters of the program. Nothing is shameful or disgusting about grace. In sports there is nothing shameful or disgraceful about wanting to win. Sports is character building? Your damn right. And nothing has the potential to build character like having yours revealed and then, hopefully, having to evaluate who you are. Some learn and become people of substance and value. Others don't and life can be difficult as they never find a place of peace in their life. 

I don't know Bobby Petrino and I'm fairly confident that anyone reading this blog doesn't know him personally either. I do know he's a human being though. I know he has a family. I know he has friends. And I certainly know that if he has people sticking up for him (former players, his children, the employer that he pissed off royally) that are close to him, then he must be a person worthy of salvage. 

Not one of us can throw a stone at Bobby Petrino. Let each one of us put our darkest secrets on the table for others to see. Let each one of us put our worst deeds on the table for others to see. Let each one of us put our transgressions against friends and family on the table for others to see. Do you feel me yet? Thing is, most of us don't have our mistakes posted all over the paper and ESPN do we? So we get a bit of a pass because we don't have hundreds of thousands of people (or millions) knowing exactly what you have done. We have the balls to pass judgment on others for their deeds and want to deny them their right to move on. That's less human than anything Bobby Petrino, Bruce Pearl, Jimmy The Greek, Pete Rose, John Calipari, Tiger Woods, Rick Pitino, or any other of a myriad of public sports figures have done. For some reason, we don't want to give benefit of the doubt to public figures. We want to see them hurt. I've certainly been guilty, but as many of you know....that isn't me these days, or at least I'm trying for it not to be. Ups and downs, ups and downs.

The bottom line for me is that Bobby Petrino is a football coach. He has never been investigated for cheating and he has won. He may not have been the type of person you want your daughter to marry or even the kind of person you want as a friend, but he has done his job. I don't "like" what he has done in his personal life any more than anyone else, but it's not my place to judge him any more harshly than those who know him best. 

I am not making a case to change any one's mind about how they feel about Bobby Petrino. I am making the case for human understanding and seeing the bigger picture. And I will take it another step before I close this out;

Have any of you cheated on your spouse?
Have any of you had your spouse cheat on you?
Have any of you ever lied to your employer?
Have any of you ever lied to a friend?
Have any of you ever had a friend lie to you?
Have any of you ever taken advantage of having an upper hand at some point in your life? 
Have you ever been treated badly by people you love?
Have you ever treated people you love badly?

Have any of you ever been given a shot at redeeming yourself by someone that has grace and your best interest at heart? Have you ever given grace to those that have wronged you? If the answer is yes, congratulations....you are winning the game. 

When it comes right down to it and you strip away the unimportant window dressing of sports or any other form of entertainment, we are all human beings. We are capable of redemption. I find that more uplifting and motivating than I do seeing someone scorned and punished for being what each of us are; human beings that make mistakes, but are also capable of turning it around. A big part of turning it around is the grace and support of those around you. Without them, you would be an island and life isn't worth living if we are not willing to allow each other to make mistakes and try to come back from them. 

For now, the hiring of Bobby Petrino by Louisville is a football or sports story, but when all is said and done the story will be much more human, whether it turns out good or bad. 

Oh and by the way....I can't see this picture;

without thinking of this;






Thursday, January 2, 2014

Some Musings....


I don't have much to say these days, so I've pretty much given up on writing. It feels like self-indulgence most of the time anyhow, but to keep up the charade, I wanted to put a few things down. If you want to read on, do so....but at your own risk. You have been warned. I'm feeling a bit "saucy" today, or old and bitter....you can choose.   

Duck Dynasty

I prefer to refer to it (if only in my mind) as "Dumb Fuck Dynasty". If you watch it, good for you, but seriously, isn't there something on that you could learn from? Maybe pick up a book? I do get the fascination with hicks, idiots, bad mothers, skanks, and "guido" types, because they are so ridiculous that they are amusing. For any of these shows to last more than a year or so just reveals how pathetic and empty we have become when engaging our entertainment. I'm proud to say I have NEVER watched a minute of the Dick Dynasty. So how can I judge it? By listening to the people that watch hours of it. By the way, I have no problem with what that dude said about gay and black folks or marrying a 15 year old. I like the stupid to reveal themselves. It's their right as Americans to say things that they believe, influence others and hold society at large back. It's also everyone else's right to tell him he's a moron or stop watching the show. Don't censor these people.....leave them on the air!

Music

The state of pop music is pretty sad. Between boy bands and untalented Disney bitches you just can't find anything on the radio that is worth listening to. Oh, I guess I could turn it on the country station and listen to songs about pickup trucks, dirt roads, and fucking plastic cups, but that doesn't really take me up a rung on the ladder does it? Oh, and what's the deal with Miley Cyrus' tongue? Put that thing back in your head already you ugly little troll. She's built like a 14  year old Asian boy, but insists on running around in "clothing" that would be better suited on a real woman. At least Madonna has talent. 

ESPN

They don't just cover the sports news, they make it! Between their scheduling games at 9 or after on week nights and causing all of this conference upheaval, I don't have much to care about on that network any longer, unless it's a Louisville game. For all the greatness they have brought over the years, they have just about equaled it in how terrible they  have been for sports. They have turned sports into a highlight competition and pretty much control college athletics now. The NCAA is filthy with ESPN money and it's been to the detriment of college athletics. It's not about the students or the athletes....it's about the money. Don't forget that. 

Religion

I've gone from Christian to atheist to agnostic to spiritual seeker and have finally settled on this;
Ehh....I don't really give a shit. If there is a god; great. If there isn't a god; great. I don't really care. Atheists that gather for meetings and try to convert people are every bit as annoying as the religious zealots. I'm very much in favor of personal religion. It can be a positive thing. Just don't think that what works for you will work for everyone. Not everyone needs Jesus to live a good life. If I hear "What keeps you from raping, stealing, and killing if you don't have Jesus?" one more time I think I will claw someone's eyes out and respond "Nothing, I guess." Seriously if you need to believe in Jesus to keep from hurting others, you need to stick with it. It tells me a lot about a person when they say stupid shit like that.....as in...."this person is potentially dangerous".

Stand Up Comedy

OK, something positive! We are in a new golden age of comedy, even if you can't see it in the mainstream. Comics like Louis CK, Bill Burr, Doug Stanhope, Joe Rogan, and Jim Jeffries (among others) are just killing it these days. Get on You Tube or Netflix and find some specials by these guys or Patton Oswalt, Marc Maron, Daniel Tosh, or Tom Papa. You will get a ton of laughs consistently. Our culture is ripe for ridicule and these guys take it on from all sides. 





Saturday, October 26, 2013

How NOT To Turn 45 (or How I Got Old In Three Weeks)



Aging is something I never really thought about very much until the past six or so months. Before that, I was one of those people that believed numbers are numbers and how you feel and perceive the world says more about you than an age. To some degree, I'll hold that as true, but we have to face reality. Being in your 40's basically means you are probably at the half way point and more than likely, you are past it. That can be a startling reality when you let it seep in and you start taking stock of who you were at 30 and who you are in your mid-40's. 

I guess I should have seen the train wreck that has been my last month or so coming. I am not sure exactly when it happened, but at some point in the past year I started saying my age was 45 when I was asked. I didn't turn 45 until recently. Why was I doing this? I didn't make a conscious effort to do it. I just started saying it. It didn't bother me at all to do so. Maybe my mind was preparing me.....taking care of me, well aware that I have an underlying fear of growing older and furthermore, death. I have been brave in the face of what I thought was catastrophe with death imminent, but that only served to mask my internal thoughts about how and when I may kick the bucket and how lonely that moment may feel. 

Anyway, this isn't about death, it's about aging and how to deal with it. Forty-five. No going back. There are things that I can't really do anymore to my satisfaction. That depresses me. There are things I should have done, even as late as 5 years ago, that I have not done. That depresses me. I see a road in front of me paved with an attitude that has me playing out the string. Hell, if I live to be 70, that's another 25 years of waiting. Holy fuck!! 25 years and I'll be 70!! When did this happen? Nobody told me when I peaked, but they sure don't have to tell me I'm on the way down the slide. 

In some ways, I am who I want to be. In many ways, I'm not. In the past month I have taken stock of most of the things related to my life. From something as simple as the books I read to things as complex as my marriage and relationships with my extended family. 

Don't get me wrong, I'm not throwing a pity party. I just can't help but feel this 45 thing strongly. I have a lot going on for me, and I know it. Great wife. Great kids. Great friends. A nice job. A healthier relationship with my extended family. I have a fairly comfortable life. So why the roller coaster emotionally? If you know, throw me a life line! The things I have been enjoying most for the past few years, I have backed away from, as if I were being over indulgent in my own happiness or satisfaction. I've felt "in my own head" a lot more and not really wanting to share with anyone. Perhaps the death of my grandfather has thrown a monkey wrench into my psyche. My link to my beloved grandma is now gone. That portion of my life is forever gone. Did I somehow equate my grandparents being alive to my being "young" with most of my life in front of me? The closest connection to her is gone. I've had three consecutive nights of dreams where my grandpa was present. What's that all about? Is it just another part of what is dogging me? Is there something I am missing that has me so withdrawn? I don't know. Do other people go through this? When will these odd feelings pack up their shit and move on? 

I know, I know....it's just a damn number. It just seems like an awfully scary number for me. I sort of have to accept that I can never be the same person I was, even if I wanted to. That ability slipped away when I wasn't looking. Didn't even bother to leave a note!