Friday, December 30, 2016

Letter to a former Facebook friend...

Dear ____… 

You don’t know me, ____, and you don’t know what kind of a person I am, so please don’t speak to me as if you do and please spare me your specious piety and hateful sarcasm. If you don't like what I post, ignore it. Simple. Have I ever come to your page and blasted on you for anything you've said? No. You know why? Because I respect your right to post whatever you wish and would never call you out and embarrass you in front of anyone else. Why? Because you don’t know me, I don’t know you, and people just shouldn't do that to other people!

We spent our early years hovering in one another's periphery, and at the time you were most active, I thought you to be a fine musician, and had nothing but respect for you. Time has passed and we have three things in common, ____: we're both male, we're both musicians, and we're both from Midland. That's it. We have nothing whatsoever in common aside from these three things. 

You keep making quasi-religious references in your responses to me, so I think you're trying to tell me something. If I'm wrong about this, please accept my apologies, but in case I'm not, you need to know that I'm an agnostic atheist and you're whatever you are. You believe in what you believe. You have faith in what you have faith. You look to a deity I'm fairly certain doesn't exist (agnostic, of course, meaning "does not know or profess to know"). Good for you, and I mean this. If faith helps you, great. And I mean this too, but I happen to see religion, blind faith, and fervently, often fanatically held beliefs as having done more to fuck up this world and millions who live on it, than any other 10 things ever could. I am up to my neck with those who profess to be pious and ethical and moral, and who then hatefully blast others for what they think, for not thinking the same way. It's called tribalism and it's rampant. 

Ironically, people of faith, people who so often claim the moral high ground, seem to do this with alacrity. I see it every day. It's all around us. I don't believe in an invisible man in the sky. I don't believe in a life after this one, so I want to live this one, the only one I will have, as well as I can without being harassed and without harassing. I don't feel that ethics and morality spring from some invisible force, and, frankly, I see people who think they actually hear from their deities as delusional; and they're bordering on psychotic if and when they act on what they claim to have heard, because it's often some pretty heinous stuff (e.g., the Crusades, the Holocaust, Son of Sam, the Spanish Inquisition, Westboro Baptist Church, Pope Alexander VI, the KKK, ISIS, Boko Haram, etc.). 

But the saddest part is that what they're hearing is just the voice in their heads that we all hear. It's part of being human. We have a conscience; this is not a deity speaking to us. It's our inner regulator doing its job. But when that regulator takes over, when our conscience lets us down, problems arise and things run amok. Besides, what sort of hubris and ego does it take to believe one is in direct one-to-one communication with what, assuming its existence (which I don't), has to be the busiest entity in the universe; it's a rhetorical question, but please. Really? C'mon.

Anyway and in closing, please do feel free to continue to stop by my FB page, as I will yours, but please, if you don't like what I'm saying or posting, have the good grace to keep it to yourself, as I do with you. My making fun of pandering politicians and low-lifes via satirical commentary is not an attack on anyone but those pandering politicians and low-lifes. No one. Full stop. Facebook is an egalitarian place, ____. People are free to post what they wish and others are free to either read it or not read it. But if they do read it, subsequently using bigoted ad hominems to attack the person who posted is just classless and mean, and not at all "Christian." Like anyone else, I post things I think are funny. If someone else doesn’t think they're funny, if you don't think they're funny, ____, so be it. Yet another thing we lack in common, and vive la diffĂ©rence.

It's really pretty simple: I am a happy, optimistic, and kind and warm recovering-Catholic, and if you really knew me, you'd know this, but you don’t, so... you don't.

Thank you and respectfully...

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Good Bye, Brian Bennett...

I wrote and sent the following in a letter to my friend, Brian, back in July of 2016. Today he passed away from the effects of his cancer, which had been ravaging him for some time. I was lucky enough to have had his friend and caregiver read this letter to him, because I knew I would never be able to do it myself.  If there's someone in your life who you feel you need to speak to, do it now. You might never have another chance.

My Dearest Brian… 

It’s been far too long since we last spoke, this is entirely on me, and I’ll have to live with it. But now that I have your attention, I want to speak to you as directly as I can; I’ve always written far better than I could speak.

The last thing you need is to have me blubbering beside you, which is what I would do, all I would do. I can’t even talk to friends on the phone about you without losing it. So please humor me in this. I’ll speak plainly: I’m struggling mightily with what you’re going through and I take comfort knowing I’m lucky to have you as my friend. I’m thankful for our time, for our experiences, for you, Brian Bennett.

From the first second of the first minute we talked in Bay Music, what seems a lifetime ago, I knew you to be just as sweet as you always remained. I loved you then, I love you now, and I will love you until the day that I die. I believe you already know this, but saying it to you now helps me. You would of course remind me of your flaws and humbly deflect, but you can’t do that to a letter.

People so often refer to their hearts when they’re talking about affection: they’re hearts are “filled with love,” and their hearts “go out” to people. Well you entered my heart that day, you’ve never left, and there you remain. And although that part of my heart is breaking now, I know it’ll mend with time; however, enough about my heart. This is not even remotely about me, how I feel is immaterial, and the pain in my heart is my problem, not yours. Please know, though, that this breaking place in my heart is yours alone, and it will always be. I’ll always have you there to visit in my memories. Always.

Because it’s you I’m talking to, because you are to your core a sweet, kind person, I know you’ll understand this expression of love and not squirm over it. We’ve told one another “I love you” for decades. We’ve always meant it. Your strength has been humbling, but not surprising. You’ve been like a big brother to me, you’ve taught me so much, and I thank you for the lessons you’re teaching even now, Brian. Thank you.

In closing, please be at peace, please know within your own heart how I feel about you, and please know that I’ve enjoyed our journey so much. Although Todd Rundgren, your favorite, said, “There’s something here that doesn’t last too long,” please believe that my affection for you will last a long time.

Until we might meet again, ever your friend, forever your friend…