Tuesday, March 25, 2008

A head full of ghosts - an opening scene in 3 acts

ACT 1: There once was a very unfortunate barber

Do you know the story of king Midas? Not the one where he turns everything to gold, everyone knows that one. Well at least they used to. No, I mean do you know the other one? The one where he gets cursed with donkey ears? Well, the story was read to me a long time ago as a child and while I don’t remember all the details, I still remember parts of it. See King Midas was cursed by some supernatural being – probably one of the Greek gods as on the whole they were kind of petty, cruel and it seems like the kind of thing they would do. Now I can’t remember why he got donkey ears but lets face it, those gods could be dicks and it didn’t take much to set them off. Anyway, that’s not the important part, the important part is that the king had donkey ears and didn’t want anyone to know so he hid them. Unfortunately for him there was one person he could not hide it from – his barber. Now the unfortunate barber had to swear under pain of death never to tell a soul about the king’s “condition”. Now over time this became a bit much for the poor man – knowing the biggest secret in the kingdom and not being able to tell anyone – so to keep from exploding, he went out into the marshes, dug a deep hole and shouted: “KING MIDAS HAS DONKEY EARS!!!!” into the hole. With that finally out of his system he covered the hole, went home and went about his business. Of course, this being a Greek myth the whole thing did eventually come back to bite him in the ass. See, reeds grew where he dug the hole and some shepherds made flutes from the reeds and every time they played them, instead of music, the flutes said: “King Midas has donkey ears”. Now I’m a little fuzzy on the ending, there was probably some bad times for the poor barber in there as well as a moral for us all. Hey, when you live in a Greek myth your life will suck so that others may learn from it! In any case, I’m not relating this tale for the end or the moral. The reason this story stuck with me for so many years was because of the middle. It’s because of the middle of that story that I decided to start blogging.

Look, I’m not conceited enough to believe that legions of people will end up reading this, awestruck at my words. Not at all. Plus, what I have to say isn’t the biggest secret in the kingdom either. Still, I have things that I need to say and where better to find a hole in the ground than the internet? A blog on the internet is the most privately public thing you can have (you have to love the juxtaposition of that! I know I do!). Sure, potentially you are talking to the whole world (except North Korea). But in reality I know I’m pretty much talking to no one at all. So then, as there may not be a real you reading this, I am dedicating this blog to the only audience it may have in real life – the ghosts in my mind.

ACT 2: Ghostwriting for beginners

Does that sound like mental illness? I assure you it is not. I was an only child who was often home alone and I learned to keep myself company at a very young age. Talking to yourself may be looked at with suspicion by the psychiatric community at large, but the psychiatric community should feel free to bite me. I’ve never had imaginary friends you see, I always had real friends. It’s just since I was home alone most of the time I learned to have conversations with the imaginary counterparts of those real people in my head (this was back way before instant messaging, cell phones and the internet) so that I didn’t feel lonely. Also, back when I was a kid there really wasn’t that much on TV. I guess old habits die hard. I have so much I want to say and no one to say it to and therefore I decided to come here – the internet, the ultimate hole in the ground. In this way I get to speak to an audience at least slightly less embarrassing than an actual hole in the ground. Also in this way I feel a little bit more heard – even if not by people then at least by the idea of people. It would be extremely hard for me to write to no one after all. How am I supposed to write to a nameless, shapeless being? Maybe others can, but I need to write to someone – even if it is just the idea of someone – if I am to write at all. It may sound weird, but I simply think of it as thinking out loud. Having an imaginary audience of people I know just always helped me shape my thoughts. By the way, if you happen to be real and you are actually reading this, welcome! But I’ll ask you kindly to please remember that we are in fact not in a Greek myth so I’d rather prefer it if you don’t look for a way to make the things I say come back to bite me in the ass. This is a no smite zone. Thank you.

ACT 3: So there I was

Lucky for me, I keep no royal secrets. If only things were that simple… See, I’m not keeping secrets I’m trying to figuring some out. You see, my dear ghostly audience, I didn’t simply choose to name this blog “My life in juxtaposition” because it sounded cool. As it turns out, I really am a study in contradiction. My life is all about juxtaposition. Now this all may sound like the kind of thing someone would say in a vain attempt to sound artistic and conflicted. I can promise you though, I don’t say this for the sake of being cool or different or arty or counter-cultural at all. If I had any choice in this then heaven knows I would have chosen a very different life. But then again, I have never known anything else so maybe I wouldn’t choose any differently if I could. After a while you get used to it. After a little bit more time you can actually learn to love it and I guess that after decades of wishing to be someone else I have finally learned to love who I am. Now, all that I have left is to make sense of who I am and what I believe.

See here is what I know about me so far: I know I am a Christian, I know I believe in God. I’m not the fundamentalist, young earth creationist, incredibly na├»ve Christian I was raised to be, but yet I keep the faith. Regarding my faith I am a mystic – although probably not in the sense you may think when you hear the term. Regarding my outlook on life I am a skeptic – though I haven’t been one for as long as I would have liked to be and there is still a lot I have to learn. I have a white collar education and a blue collar job and I have trouble fitting into either world. I look for symmetry and reason but I believe in chaos, coincidence and mystery. I’m cynical and optimistic. I want nothing more than stability but yet I constantly crave change. I’m a theologian and a heretic (at least according to some). I can fit in almost anywhere and yet I cannot find a place where I belong. I’m a Christian unlike other Christians and a skeptic unlike other skeptics. I’m too old to see the world in stark black and white and yet I’m still young enough to believe that some things aught to be in black and white. I’m too old to still believe I know all the answers but I’m still young enough to want to learn them.

In short - I am a thirty-something man who is trying to figure out his life. So please be patient with me dear ghosts and bear with me for a while.

Picture (c) XKCD.com

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