“I’ve had a lot of experience with semantics, so don’t try to lure me into some maze of circular logic.”

couple separating

I know I haven’t said a word about the Beyoncè show.  I’m still processing the experience.  Spoiler:  🤯🤪🤩😁😍😭😍😭🙃  I finished reading a novel for the Gettin’ Grown podcast book club last night, titled, An American Marriage by Tayari Jones.  (It’s an Oprah book club edition.)  I’m surprised by how much I enjoyed the story.  Marriage is a painful subject for me.  (Skirting spoilers, sorry if I tripped.)

I realized about halfway through the book how much it mirrored my (former) marriage.  How circumstances beyond our control sabotaged both our relationships.  While the sabotage differs, the effects on those involved are remarkably similar.  It allowed me to see things from another perspective, where before I didn’t have one.  The way my marriage ended was so far outside my experience and understanding it left me emotionally paralyzed.

The novel brilliantly allows the reader to exist in the minds of the main characters, getting a complete and intimate view of their perspectives.  It’s like watching a movie filmed from the eyes of the actors.  All the minute details we don’t consciously collect are just so.  I lived this story as different individuals, and I understood their feelings.  I effortlessly adopted their thought language as my own.  I was male at times, and female, others.  I gained insight into how it feels to be a black man in America today.

marital tensionI’m intrigued by the writing.  Tayari Jones is an impressive author.  The small details and phrasing that stand out and beg for memorization are like Easter Eggs in novels.  I’m so glad I read this book, and I highly recommend it.  It’s packed with useful information about how to survive when your world explodes without notice, and it’s not your fault, and there’s nothing you can do to reverse it.

Everyone knows we’re supposed to get back up when we fall.  Thank goodness for the people that show us how.  I put a lot of trust in books, music, and art.  It’s because it’s people giving us their best after a lifetime of training and practicing.  Most artists have to compete fiercely even to get noticed.  I’m sure there’s corruption involved in who gets famous, but I’m excellent at recognizing unicorns.  They catch me up when I lose faith in humanity.

Even though I still get twinges from my mom’s spirit when fangirling over famous people, I hold tight to my unicorns.  My mom had an incredible record for being right.  I had accepted this by the time I was 12, merely because it was statistically logical, and painful to ignore.  However, in this single instance, I think she was wrong less than right.

mother nurturing puppiesI don’t think it’s unreasonable to appreciate the gifts these incredible artists give for little in return.  I love my obsessive tendencies.  They’re part of who I am.  So is my need to express my delight in what others give me.  I realize most people don’t study every interview with Stevie Nicks on Youtube.  They probably don’t continually reread long epic novels and marvel over the useful information presented in such an enthralling manner.

Not everyone wept (with joy) while watching Beyoncè be so Beyoncè.  I may be the only one who grieved the loss of my little sister with Amy Lee and her beautiful songs that expressed what I felt when I couldn’t find the words.  I’m probably the only one who has to listen to ABBA Gold on repeat to participate in raids in video games, (but I usually get at least three other people to sing along and celebrate their fabulous, universally adored music with me.)

It’s probably about time, but I think I’ve finally grown beyond the need to escape epic guilt by only doing what my mom approves.  Her stings from beyond the grave no longer rule me.  Instead, they remind me how much I needed my mom for most of my life.  I realize now she was the perfect mom for me.  She’s a significant, bright part of who I am, and I’m glad.  Even though she died, she’s always with me.  So is Beyoncè, Stevie Nicks, Amy Lee, J. K. Rowling, Sheryl Crow, Oprah, and so many others who nurture my spirit through their creations.

Here’s every word my mom ever said to me about spirituality:  Don’t take the bible literally.  She raised me up but isn’t part of my spiritual data gathering.  It tickles me (now) because her words were necessary.  I just laughed hard remembering what I was like before my mom gave me this advice.  When I was eight, we got kicked out of our church.  I recall my brother swallowing the Sunday School goldfish on a dare as the reason.  My inner adult suggests there were probably several prior incidents involved in the decision.

The Great Upside-Down Philosopher by Rube Goldberg

All my biblical knowledge came from songs I learned in Sunday School.  After we stopped attending church, I went through the house and stole all the bibles I could find, then hid them under my mattress.  (No idea.)  It’s also when my friendship with Jesus may have grown a bit obsessive.  I developed my continuous internal conversation with him (and stopped talking to anyone else.)  We talked about everything like we were aliens exploring and observing earth.

Now I’m starting to get self-conscious because I’ve never told anyone about this.  🤫  I assumed everyone did it.  (I still do it, but I often doubt my Jesus is THE Jesus these days.)  I suck as an atheist or anti-theist.  The more I reject Christianity, the more time I spend wrestling over it in my mind.  I forgot what it’s like to take a shower without weeping over the horrible, awful shit people do to other people every single freaking day.  How can I hate organized religion so much while also loving the people who hold tightly to it?  What kind of never-Catholic-atheist loves the Pope?  What the entire hell?

So I keep reading and listening and watching.  I don’t call myself a Christian because I don’t understand it.  I still feel like an alien on this planet.  I’m just thankful for these invisible connections that comfort and guide me through this maze of unknowns known as life.  I’m fascinated by how our spirits can and do lift each other up from even the deepest pits of despair without our ever even crossing paths in the physical realm.  I don’t understand it, but I love it.  I’m off to band practice.  💜