Life, Love, spirituality, Stories, Thoughts

a mind that is stretched

“A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.”


In the last year-and-a-half, I’ve changed a lot. I am no longer who I was.

In the last year-and-a-half I’ve experienced far more of the world than I ever thought possible. Certainly, I still have much more that I need to experience (Burning Man, first tattoo, publishing contract, etc…)

But the things I have experienced, they have irrevocably altered my existence. I can never go back to my old dimensions.

I am changed. So who am I now?

Somebody told me, once, that I would “change the way people see the world.” Apparently, in order to do that, God has to change the way I see the world first. And, boy, is He ever doing that.

I used to avidly argue that I would “never write contemporary.” Sci-fi/fantasy was the “only genre for me.” And, yet, in the last year I have gravitated away from that genre and have been compelled by stories with a contemporary depth and richness to them that matters and is sorely underrated. Stories about suicide, tragedy, romance, cancer, depression, oppression, bias, heartbreak – these are the stories that matter because these are the stories we need. Why? Because humans have an inherent desire to know that they are not alone. And stories like these – stories that so often say what we could never seem to articulate – tell us that we are not alone.

I used to be that person who would tell people struggling with their sexuality that prayer and abstinence are key to spiritual success.

What did I know?

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In the last two weeks, though, I’ve learned that there’s more to it than that. It is, truly and deeply, possible to have genuine romantic affection for someone of the same sex. In fact, it really is no different than that feeling of falling love with someone of the opposite sex.

The religious world, though, is so disillusioned to this. They legitimately think that “pray the gay away” is a viable option for someone going through what I and thousands of others like me are going through.

So maybe I’m meant to change the way religious people see my world? Maybe I’m meant to be a catalyst which leads to the stretching of the Church into new dimensions.

That being said, I have a story.

It’s deep and it’s raw and it’s unfiltered and it’ll hurt.

But I truly believe that, if I were to endeavor to fertilize this story, it would blossom into something inevitably magnificent, a monument to both the religious and the secular world of altered perspective – of new dimensions of thought and spirituality.

But the thought terrifies me. Because this story would be my story. It wouldn’t be an objective tale – it would be purely subjective, raw and sewn to the fibers of my soul. How do I write a story where two guys fall in love and eventually kiss and redeem that for both the religious and secular communities? Why is it that religious folks are only okay with talking about the hard things as long as it’s not homosexuality? Why is it that entertainment companies like PureFlix can release stories about atheists and smokers and alcoholics and depression, but they remain silent when it comes to a struggle of identity that has existed since the before the rise of the Roman Empire? Why is it that homosexuality is one of the “untouchable” themes when it comes religious fiction? Why?

I’ve decided I am not satisfied with this. The world needs more than this from us. The LGBT community – or even Christians who struggle with their own identity like myself – need to know that we are not pariahs. We have souls, we have struggles, we have needs, and we need a voice.

I’ve decided that I will push the edge of these man-made boundaries and I will write what matters.

Because that’s what the world needs.

That’s what I need.

books, Fiction, Love and the Sea and Everything in Between, NaNoWriMo, NaNoWriMo 2015, Novels, Stories

nanowrimo // day sixteen

*pops head in* Well… hello there, strangers. It’s been awhile, hasn’t it?

I suppose I could make the typical excuse that “I’ve been writing for nanowrimo and have had no time to blog”, but, while that’s true, I’ve had plenty of opportunity to post an update… I just didn’t feel like it at the time. In any case, I’m back now with an update and some snippets. (YESSS)

So after taking the weekend off Love and the Sea and Everything in Between is just about to 30K and I hope to reach that goal by tonight. (fingers crossed)

The two-day break was well-needed. Before, my writing had grown to feel awkward and dry. Now, though, it feels deep and therapeutic once more. I can feel the magic in my veins making its way to the words on my pages. What a wonderful feeling. There really is nothing else like it.

Also, I hope to make a more personal blog post later this week, so stay tuned for that!

Now…

SNIPPETS!

 :

// I stand on the edge of the earth, where everything ends. Where the
earth has been cut away and the sky swoops down to fill the void.

// And our hearts move to the beat of the rain.

// I think of her. Because if I don’t, I would lose myself.

// Adventure starts here: with a choice to depart the Now. Goodbye, Now.

// I think this is what love must sound like: the beating of our hearts mingled with the crashing of the waves.

// Isn’t that usually the way it goes? After a while, the numbness just… becomes normal. It becomes right.

// The sky tonight is a masterpiece to behold and I feel lucky to behold it. It’s funny; when you’ve experienced such brilliant life, the colors all seem brighter, more brilliant. Now, it seems, I stand in the afterglow of that experience and I can’t help but wonder when it will fade.

// This is why life has to be more than just survival: because when we spend our entire lives trying to just survive, we don’t know how to do anything else. We don’t know how to live.
There has to be more than just survival. There has to be. Or else it isn’t worth it.

// I wonder who I could have been if I lived back when there was still so much wonder in the world. When there was still so much yet to be discovered. I wonder if, maybe, I could have been the one to discover the Americas, or discover electricity, or create the telephone, or build the pyramids, or lead the Israelites out of Egypt.
I wonder who I could’ve been if everything was different. If this world, today, the one in which I exist never existed. Not to me, anyway. If the only world I ever knew, or ever thought could be known, was a world full of endless possibility, a world full of discovery and wonder.
I miss it, the wonder. I miss it even though I never discovered continents or built pyramids or discovered electricity or mapped the stars. I miss it like an orphan misses the mother he never knew. I miss it like the housecat misses the wild it never wandered.
It’s a strange feeling, to miss the things you’ve never known. It feels like remembering, but in reverse; like remembering something that hasn’t happened yet.

// Is this what love is: a hurricane to the soul? Is this what love does: lay to ruins everything you thought you knew about love?

Life, Stories, The Walking Dead

life, hope, and the walking dead

I was having a conversation with my best friend over text about The Walking Dead. I’m a fan and he’s hesitant to try it out.

Our conversation took an interesting turn when he brought up an article we’d read on Facebook about why “Christians absolutely should not participate in Halloween.” We both agree with the points the article made concerning Halloween. Neither of us celebrate the holiday, nor do we wish to associate ourselves with it.

But my friend suggested that his hesitance to watch The Walking Dead could be similar to his aversion to Halloween. At first glance, people – mostly Christians – frown at TWD because, well, zombies, right? It’s a show the glorifies the undead, soulless shells feasting on human flesh. Seems… dark, right? Yes, but no. I’ll attempt to debunk some misconceptions about the show here.

1 – It glorifies death, destruction, anarchy, and mayhem.
This couldn’t be further from the truth. Throughout the show, the “walkers” and murderous thugs are never highlighted as a “good” thing. The writers do a good job of always showing the distinction between the good guys (Rick and his group) and the bad guys (Walkers, the Wolves, Terminus, etc…).TWD Daryl 305 Holding Judith Sophia Mention

In fact, the main characters are in a constant fight for survival in a world that’s dying.
And even beyond that, new life is glorified when we see one of the characters give birth and the entire group works to protect the newborn as they hope that she won’t have to grow up in a world run by the dead.

2 – It’s about the zombies.

Well, that’s not entirely true. Every story has its plot points.

The Introduction: Sets the scene by introducing characters and context. In the pilot episode, Rick awakes from a coma to find the world ended while he was recovering from a gunshot wound. Rick is the main character. His context is that corpses now serve as hosts to a violent parasite.

Complication: Introduces the main problem for the characters in the
story. 
Disoriented and confused, Rick is brought to safety by a stranger who tells him how the world works now. Throughout the series, we see our main characters come to terms in their own timing with the reality that they are at war.

Body: A series of events and smaller problems the characters have to overcome. This is generally shown episode to episode as they have to confront emotional issues while fighting to stay alive at every turn.

Climax: The pinnacle of the story in which the characters solve their main problem. This is also shown episode to episode, as well as season to season. Their main problem is the walkers. The walkers are not the story’s focus; they’re simply the force that keeps the story moving.

And then, of course, there’s the resolution, but aside from individual episode plots we’ve yet to see the whole story resolved. And hopefully we’ll get a few more seasons before that happens.

So, the point of this is to show that TWD is not about the walkers, it’s consistently about the ways in which the characters relate to and cope with the walkers (the conflict).

3 – Zombies are demonic.Daryl Dixon ~ The Walking Dead

Zombies have been a classic sci-fi plot point for decades. I would argue that they’re about as demonic as aliens. In TWD at least, zombies (walkers) are the result of an infectious virus (spread through bites or scratches) which kills the host body but enables the corpse to retain its motor functions. The parasite inside the host body, like all parasites, seeks to devour. This is why the walkers eat flesh. It’s not because they’re cannibals (that would imply some sense of free-will); it’s because a parasite is using the body of a dead person to do what parasites do: feed on other entities.

Zombies are not demonic; they’re purely scientific. Furthermore, in the Dark Ages, the Church thought mental illness (PTSD, Autism, etc…) was the result of demonic possession. Now, we no better, don’t we? Well, most of us anyway. 😉

If TWD was about an alien invasion, would people think it demonic? I think not. The walkers are merely the tool in which the writers use to add conflict to the characters’ story arcs.

4 – It’s violent and dark.

The Walking Dead - season 5 trailer gif Rick Grimes. Awesome. I. Love. Andrew. Lincoln.The characters are at war. War is never pretty. The show is in it’s sixth season and by now most of the characters that have existed since its conception have come to recognize that they’re at war and that there is darkness in the world (Walkers, the Wolves, Terminus, etc…). While they do, in many cases, commit acts that seem atrocious to us (killing living humans) this does not mean they’ve succumb to the darkness; it simply means they recognize Yes this was my face when I watched as well The Latest Episode Of 'Walking Dead' Was One Of Season 5's Most Brutalthat they’re at war and will do anything to protect themselves and those they care about. And throughout the show we see our characters wrestle with their own humanity as they struggle to keep from succumbing to the darkness.

War is bloody and violent and dark, but exists for one reason: to preserve what light remains. And that is exactly why our favorite characters in TWD do the things they do.

5 – “What fellowship can light have with darkness?”

TWD never pretends that walkers and humans can coexist. (Well, there was one character who did…. but she was crazy.) There’s always a “them or us” attitude.

6 – In a show about zombies, there can’t be any redeeming themes.

Again, the show isn’t about zombies. It’s about the characters. And I’m just going to say that I absolutely disagree with this statement. The show is full of redeeming
themes.

Amid this war against the dead, babies are born, TWD Daryl S4 Rick You're My Brothercharacters get married, people fall in love, hearts are broken, bonds are formed. There are themes of forgiveness, courage, selflessness, love, hope, teamwork, family, compassion, humor, sorrow, remorse, strength, understanding, and so much more.

The Walking Dead 5x02 And that is why I watch the show. The writers do a great job of making me feel the impending danger coming from various sides (Walkers, the Wolves, Terminus, etc…). Tensions are high every episode and I feel like I’m right beside the characters, fighting with them to see at least a small part of the living world restored – even if it’s only a walled safe-zone.

In the end, I think TWD, like all stories, attempts – and succeeds – to illuminate the light and hope and new life amid a dark, violent, dying world. Of course, my duty is only to make sure people don’t avoid a potentially beautiful story based on misconceptions. So I leave whether or not you invest in this story up to your discretion.

Fiction, Heroes, Life, Stories, Writing

the heroes we need

What determines a hero? Character? Personality? Behavior? All of the above?

Many of us use fiction to escape from the despair of reality, to venture into a world where heroes are alive and well, kicking evil’s butt. Whether its through movies, books, comics, TV shows, or what-have-you, we all long to live in a world with heroes we can look up to and emulate.

I want to highlight some of the heroes of the fictional realm that I admire.

#1 – Katniss Everdeen – The people she loves mean everything to her. She sacrificed herself to save her sister and was unwilling to kill the man she loved even if it meant she might die.Hunger Games... Another movie I didnt think Id care for but all in all ima fan really good movie!!:

#2 – Daryl Dixon – Most people might not consider Daryl a hero, but he has shown time and time again that he would do anything to protect the people he cares about. And to him, family is more than just blood.

When Daryl slings a crossbow over his shoulder, the heavens part and a blinding white light of sexual heat appears. True statement. (28 Reasons Why Daryl Dixon Is The Sexiest Man On “Walking Dead”):

#3 – Steve Rogers/Captain America – Good ol’ Cap. Justice, loyalty, honor, and the defense of the innocent and those he loves are all that matter to him. Repeatedly, he puts the good of others before his own well-being.

Which Superhero Should You Hook Up With? You got: Captain America. (Steve Rogers is the ultimate boy scout, but if you’re into an old-fashioned guy who happens to be a perfect human specimen and a legendary war hero, this is the jackpot. He’ll treat you very well.):

#4 – Samwise Gamgee – Even when the One Ring drove Frodo mad – to the point of cursing the loyalty of his best friend, Sam stood by him and never gave up on him. Sam saw past the darkness in the world. He saw the good.

March 2013 - Sean Astin - Toronto (Goonies & LOTR....fan since the age of 7!):

#5 – Owen Grady – He saved people from dinosaurs at the (almost) expense of his own life. Plus he’s epic and played by Christ Pratt. What more needs to be said?

Daenarys - Mother of Dragons OWEN - FATHER OF RAPTORS that is all:

The world needs heroes. And unfortunately they can’t always be found in real life. Sometimes we have to turn to fiction to find peace for our souls. And what’s wrong with that?