I read Buddhist text, when i find the time to be diligent and sit down. I’m often brought to tears from the softness of the readings, an accepting voice that I rarely provide for myself. The stories and lessons lead me to think of wasted opportunities, careless ways I have portrayed through my actions in life. I don’t know if it should be titled conviction, guilt, or remorse. There was a time when I sought the christian church, starting in high school when life seemed easily confusing. The age where boys and girls are propelled into making choices that affect immediate and long term outcomes. I fell in love with the people surrounding me, the ones trying to do good and hold to standards that children of that age can never meet. Your weaknesses are always revealed when you sit with yourself and consider every little thing in your life as good or bad, sin or non-sin.
Diving deeper into the Bible, I never gravitated to the old testament, where everything was more black and white, direct response from God with the actions of his people. For whatever reason, the new testament fell upon me as foreign to its predecessor. Jesus was a different creature than the God of the past stories, he had heart that gave compassion to those suffering around him. Maybe because of my upbringing, (where money was never certain, work was a question of if my father would receive a call from a construction site, mom working restaurant server jobs in the night, followed by office jobs that would never have a ladder too high to climb), I gravitated to the beatitudes, the stone not being thrown at a sinful woman, the “wicked” being worthy of the man named Jesus. I found myself among the meek, the lowly, not out of pity for myself, but because it simply seemed like our blue collar family were the same people being rescued by the mercy and patience of Him. I committed myself more, sought Christian colleges, with a glimmer of hope that I could become a teacher of his word. When the tuition fee revealed itself, and the attempts at grants fell through, community college became my reality. I joke now that God didn’t want me to be a pastor, still not sure He wanted me to be a tattooer, but fuck it, a lil late now to question that.
I moved on past that, with friends by my side, holding me “accountable” to the Word of God. I met my ex-wife senior year, and she was adorable, with a sense of humor that couldn’t be charted, for it was too weird to understand. I’ve stolen alot of her material over the years, faces she would make, noises, mannerisms. We married a month after I turned 21, it was a beautiful day. At least at that time, which isn’t long ago, dating with a purpose was the mantra of the high school group. I remember my father warning me I was too young, but how can one tell their son who thinks he has found all the answers that he doesn’t know what will be around the next corner. As children, we learn from our parents example of marriage, and I was witness to one that endured so much physical and emotional strain, and still survived. We attended church regularly, but also became adults together, working in fields that both sheltered us with income and shined a daunting light on a post-high-school life. There are authors out there that write amazing books to help the married, to give them guidance through difficult times, but nothing matches “field-study”. No one should ever wonder why there is a 50/50 chance of making it in marriage, 2 parts to one pair that don’t always align to make 100%. In saying this, I’m not looking for a scape goat for my past, an excuse to free me of my errors, more like a clear vision of the immaturity of my age, the lack of experience in life; to understand the complexities of attributes like sacrifice, willingness, humility, compassion, and generosity. People ask me how long I was married, the answer is always the same, 3 years good with a couple more of separation, ending with divorce. In the end, we both made poor choices that led us into a place of disgusting lack of respect for one another.
My education in life had just gotten a lot heavier and my spiritual life was in shambles. I met with a friend on a regular basis, Josh, sometimes in anger, several times in tears, feeling like a fall leaf that could be stepped on and crushed into a million pieces. We asked questions about God, the first time in my life where nothing was off limits. In this period and the years following in New York, I could only relate to the desert story of Jesus. A friend in Brooklyn, shocked to hear of my faith, asked me if I was retarded because of my christianity, or what little i still had left in me. I once tried to drink and pill myself into a blissful departure from my reality, kinda glad it didn’t work out, some of you may not be glad, i consider that fair. There were few people of the church around me who didn’t seem to think they knew it all about what was going on in my life. The title “hypocrite” was given to me, no joke, and I like to keep that one floating around to this day. Has an honest ring to the human condition.
When I did move to New York, it was to pursue one last attempt at salvaging our broke-down marriage, and to escape the confines of the orange county church mentality- where success in life is a true testament to your faith in God, for who else would provide wealth and security then the man upstairs. I never have understood how mega-churches never get likened to the temples that Jesus stormed into and turned tables upside down, in furious anger of how people turn faith into a mini-mall of purchasable salvation with this book and that shirt. From what I gathered, He always moved away from these places, turning to nature, to settle the hearts of his apostles and followers.
New York has been my greatest teacher. After one month there, nothing was different between my ex and I, we were still up to no good, still untrustworthy, holding onto a once innocent love affair that grew rotten from our lack of nurture. I moved out on my own, took on rent well above my means, two dogs below me and a path full of questions. My new group of guy friends revealed to me that the best way to get over the old is to get into the new, meaning women. I was 26 at this point, only slept with two women, my ex-wife and the one during our separation, my lack of confidence bled through my pours. It took almost a year for me to ask someone out, I hibernated away in emotional weakness. The one I did ask on a date, in a buzzed state of mind, turned out to be more than I was ready for, 5 years my senior, and a wealth of wisdom. To this day, I consider her the bar set too high. I’ve worked drawings and paintings in remembrance of her, sounds crazy, but for me, I liken it to a young boy going out of the tribe to seek visions, and the owl of the night reveals itself in that moment, and from that day on, the boy is now a man with the spirit of the owl in him. She was my owl. Its taken years following that relationship to grasp the importance of her words. She would look into my eyes, tell me to be present, to be here now, not knowing I was still lost in the past of my failures, the uncertain future, and the lack of courage to understand her presence.
I left New York, late 2007, even more angry than when I arrived there, cursing the soil of the big apple. California was my home, where I belonged, and nothing and no one would change my mind on that, not even someone as loving and guiding as Her. I’m kind of a dick at this point in my life, thanks to motorcycles, Long Island, and hipster hatred, if I can simplify it into three neat categories. These last couple years have been amazing, shitty, stupid, awakening, and yet, still heavy with conviction. I found Buddha! yay! that’s my interpretation of having an aha moment.
But I’m still a fuckhead, confusing I know. Not really, since I am human and have a little better understanding of how ignorant we can still be in our path. It’s not like enlightenment means you wake up one day, and can sit lotus, spit mad rhymes about compassion, and cloud walk. Although that would be rad, to use cali slang. If you’ve been in my presence, my tongue usually sets fires that turn into low brow humor and stories about my life’s rambunctious turns for the worse, or better, if you enjoyed the audacity of it.
I’ve left a good portion out, in the name of saving some face, but this was written more as a journal/confessional. I’m attempting to be more “present minded” these days, not speak so much, listen attentively, and find the softness of good love in my life, again. This is where I would say, “well, I guess I’ll go fuck myself…” but that’s the old me, and the new me says, ” shaka spirit till death do us part.” only because Buddha did it under the bodhi tree.