Month: August 2015

An Elaboration On Love

Almost nine years now I’ve been single. This has not been due to lack of interest by outside parties, just not the proper alignment. As I’ve said previously I am fortunate to know some absolutely amazing and incredible people. Just not the right person for what it must be. You see, for all my lack of emotion and self-centeredness, I still believe in some level of magic.   I’ve elaborated in the past about “it” and the magic that was, but I want to share about the magic that can be, that will be. Because if it doesn’t, it may not happen at all (which would… complicate things considering my eventual desire for children.)

It is said that when you are dying your whole life flashes before your eyes. You become distant and the world around you happens in slow motion as your brain processes (possibly for the last time) the events that led you to this point and made up your life. Depending on who you ask or what you believe, this is simply your brain going into emergency mode and firing on every channel it can in a panic before it shuts down forever. Others will say it’s a much more pleasant experience, that you’re recapping your life and experiences to this point before moving on to the next inevitable and unstoppable phase of your existence. To me, love is a little bit like the latter.

That moment...

That moment…

I believe that when you find the right person, the one who aligns with you in the right ways in both perfection and imperfection and is as drawn to you as you are to them, a moment will happen (perhaps many, but at least the first, pivotal one.) This moment will feel a lot like the second explanation of the moments before death above: Everything that was your life up to that point will converge into a singular moment and purpose, and from that singularity something new will be born, like a Phoenix burning to ashes and arising new… reborn.

It could be a small gesture, even a shared look, or it could be a dramatic and well orchestrated event, but that moment will come when you know that it’s time, and that you’ve found what you have both been looking for. You’ll know that everything leading up to this moment has passed, and something new is beginning, something that is powerful, hopeful and made up of the best of two individuals. Something that includes all that led them to this point: friends, family and experiences and uses that foundation to become something even greater, something that shatters limits and boundaries, something infinite. I believe that is power of love and that is the feeling that comes from it and fills the two souls that partake of it. Most importantly, I believe it exists.

This is, perhaps, the least pragmatic and realistic of my beliefs, but I know it exists simply because I can comprehend it… I can actually feel it as I imagine the possible scenarios in the future with the one whom I will share such things. To be sure, this person does not yet have a face, and the circumstances would vary greatly depending on their life and experiences that led them to this point, but all those details will simply feed into the next step.

35 years later, still taking adorable selfies.

35 years later, still taking adorable selfies.

It is this love, this power, that I believe fuels those who pull off the true long-term relationships. I speak of the adorable people that have grown old together over fifty years and celebrate their anniversaries as if no time has passed at all. I speak of the families that are tested, encountering great hardships and pulling together to come out stronger in the end. I speak of the undying, unyielding light that outshines the great darkness this world and it’s people can bring to bear. I speak of perfection and light born from not from desperation, compromise, impatience or mistakes… I speak of something right, that is the product of two imperfect beings that have found something perfect for them both through their bond. It is never the absence of doubt, fear or despair, but the strength to conquer them. All of those things and more are love and it’s power.

Additionally, I know and believe that “love” comes in many forms among many people. I would wager to say that just as there are many shades of any color, love also occurs in a spectrum that is infinitely larger than that. It is not for me (or anyone) to say what you love or that your love is true or not. It is not for me (or anyone) to say that any love is right or wrong, real or not. I speak of a specific love, one that I am familiar with and believe in. But I will never tell somebody that they are not in love with their life, their pets, their religion or even their money. Perhaps I could argue that love of some things has much more obvious drawbacks than others, but that is a discussion for another post, another time, and to be honest I’m not certain that at it’s core I could effectively argue with any real love, no matter how I perceived it.

0610087d21f25e9b18b7b784f8b59a97More realistically speaking, I also know that such love can exist and then, over time perhaps, diminish. I don’t think it is destroyed, but I would say it is possible for it to become buried under the many things in this life that can get in the way of it. When this happens it does not mean that it never existed, or even that it ceased to exist now, but whether or not it can be dug up and saved is solely at the discretion of those experiencing it. It’s easy to take the stance of “It wasn’t real if it doesn’t last.” But I don’t think that’s true, it’s more likely that it’s simply locked away, or that it has changed into something else. I suppose my point is, though I spoke ideally above in an enduring and everlasting love, I am also hesitant to discount love (including my own) that has reached those heights and, for better or worse, changed into something else. Perhaps due to timing, circumstances or one or both of those involved not being ready, just because it would ideally last forever, doesn’t mean it has to. It also doesn’t mean it was any less real.

But in the meantime, as with most things in this life, I think we need to shoot for the ideal, to believe in it. I don’t think there is any less ideal or less powerful concept than the belief in love and all that comes with it. I know it exists, I know it is out there somewhere and even if it takes another decade or more to find it, when that moment comes, I know it will be worth it.

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Interlude: Kaska-Ta, the Shepherd and the Crossroads

Note: This can be described as a semi-fictional, metaphorical auto-biography.  It builds off of previous “Kaska-Ta” entries and will likely resurface from time to time when I wish to present situations without specific details. (It’s my blog, deal with it.) The settings/terms/names/periods are changed but the story facts are essentially true.  I will return to regular programming soon.

Kaska-Ta had been in the desert many weeks now. His food had run out days ago and only drops of water were taken when necessary. The occasional rains had done little to refill his mostly-dry water sack. He knew at this rate he was very near the end of the road.

In truth, the only thing that had brought him this far had been a combination of experience, wisdom and the kindness of those he had come across; mostly merchants and other travelers that had wished him well. He had accepted what his pride would allow out of necessity, but he knew that accepting too much might doom them as well. He could accept his fate if need be, but he would not shoulder the responsibility of compromising theirs.  Despite their generosity though, Kaska-Ta’s supplies were essentially gone and the gravity of his situation sapped his energy almost as quickly as the savage desert sun.

Finally, he came to the edge of the desert, where the sand began to give away to bits of dry grass.  Encouraged, he continued on and came across a lone shepherd surveying the area.

“A bit sparse here for a flock isn’t it?” Kaska-Ta asked.

“That’s why you don’t see them here. One of them broke off and wandered out this way. I have to find her before the rains come. You’re a mess though, you come through the desert!?” The shepherd regarded Kaska-Ta with a combination of cynicism and curiosity.

“I did.”

The conviction of Kaska-Ta’s answer shifted the shepherd’s expression to visibly impressed and concerned at the same time. It was obvious Kaska-Ta’s journey had taken it’s toll. “Good lord man, I’d offer you my water but I only have enough to get me through the day, and I may need it if she’s wandered too far. But there’s a farm directly ahead to the west I believe you can make before sunup tomorrow. If you’re willing to work through the rains we can put you up, feed you well, give you time to build up your strength and set you up with supplies.”

“The rains? How long is that?” Kaska-Ta asked.

A grave but amused look came over the shepherd’s face. “You really did come from across the desert eh? The rains last three cycles here. During that time the surrounding lands are flooded and un-travelable. Where we’re standing becomes a lake that borders the desert. My farm is on the only high ground to the west of this area. We have to hunker down, but fresh water is plentiful and the fish from the surrounding lakes along with my farm make for easy meals, so we’d have no trouble supporting an extra set of hands. The shepherd paused. “In fact… to be honest we could really use you. It’s like you were meant to be here.”

Kaska-Ta was intrigued… “What say you, voice?” he asked inwardly. There was no reply, just the sensation that it was indeed there, watching, but choosing to remain silent.

Kaska-Ta surveyed the lands around him; he had come from the seemingly endless desert to the east, meanwhile the land did indeed get visibly more lush and inviting on the trail to the west where the shepherd claimed his farm was. Then his gaze turned south where a faint trail of smoke could be seen on the horizon.

“The Badlands.” The shepherd had followed his gaze and responded. “You can find water there… and possibly shelter as well if you make it before the rains come. But it will cost you. The people there care little of honor or humanity, they will take you for whatever they can get from you in return for anything they give. You don’t seem like that sort of man, but to survive there you would have to be.”

“Would I have to stay there through the rains as well?” Kaska-Ta asked.

Fear crept into the shepherd’s eyes and Kaska-Ta got the distinct impression he was choosing not to lie despite himself.

“No.” The shepherd said. “Though the way back here would be blocked, should you make it through The Badlands with your soul intact, the road continues south.”

“What’s beyond The Badlands?” Kaska-Ta asked.

“I don’t know. I’ve never been and I avoid those that come from there. Stragglers have attacked the farm in the past and I’ve done what I had to in order to protect my people. I mean it when I say they are dangerous and without honor, I would be sad to see you choose that path… and honestly why would you?”

“To see what’s beyond it.”  Kaska-Ta had dealt with such people before, he was quite capable of defending himself and though he was reluctant to admit it, fitting in, but telling the shepherd that would serve no good purpose.

Instead he turned to the North to see what might be another alternative, but saw only more desert. “How far does the sand reach north?” he asked.

“I realize you have no reason to trust me, but I don’t think you would make it.” He said.

“How far?” Kaska-Ta persisted.

“I only know what the few that come from that direction tell me, and they keep to themselves.” The shepherd replied. “No less than a moon… but possibly as far as a cycle or more. You’ve been very lucky to have made it from the east, and that was… what? No more than three moons, right? Even with all that luck and more you’d never last a cycle out there.”

Kaska-Ta knew he was right. The truth was he’d be extremely lucky to last another moon even with the chance help of random travelers. “What is beyond the sand?”

“I’ve heard it’s a city of some sort, scholars or some kind of monastery. But very few come this way, and they rarely stay long or share details, so I can’t be certain exactly. They pass through my farm on the way to western tribal city. I assumed that was your destination, isn’t it?  To join one of the tribes that migrated from the east? You’d be well prepared for that journey after the rains passed, I can assure you.”

Kaska-Ta said nothing. The truth was he didn’t know where he was going. The choice seemed obvious, but he had never made a choice simply because it was obvious.

“Some of the tribe members come to help on the farm during the rains and tell tales of the eastern lands.” The shepherd said. “Should be there now preparing. They seem like good people, perhaps you know them.”

Kaska-Ta thought back to the tribes he had grown with over the years. He had been tribeless for some time now. “Perhaps… but some are good, some are not. Like any people.” He said.

“Well, the light will fade soon and I’m not going to find my girl standing here trying to convince you. But I believe you’re here for a reason, and any other way you go might very well kill you. So keep my offer in mind, spend some time and live. Seems like the obvious choice if the desert hasn’t taken your mind completely. But, whatever way you go, be safe and good luck.” With that the shepherd turned and began to survey the area.

“Thank you.” Kaska-Ta said. “For the information, as well as the offer. I might well see you soon.”

“Hope so.” The shepherd said as he waved and walked away. “You’d be a lot less useful dead and washed up on my shores during the rains.”

And Kaska-Ta was alone again.

“Not alone. We’ve been over this.” The voice chimed in.

“Which way then?” Kaska-Ta asked, but as he expected his question was met with silence. Such was the way with the voice, it was always right, but it shared it’s wisdom on it’s own terms, not his.

“You will die if you linger here too long.”

 “There’s a good chance I’ll die regardless.” Kaska-Ta replied. “The obvious path takes valuable time that I don’t have and the other two may kill me anyway.”

No. So long as you keep moving, you may suffer, but you will survive this.”

 “Great.” Kaska-Ta sighed to himself. “The all-knowing voice predicts suffering… that’s regardless of the path I choose?”

Suffering takes many forms. You’re better at some than others and it will change you in different ways regardless.”

 “You’re no help.” Kaska-Ta replied. But he was glad for the banter and understood that the point was for him to make this choice on his own.

And it came to pass that the sun was low in the sky and the ground was still soft enough with sand to lie comfortably. Kaska-Ta set up his crude tent to provide shade from the last of the sun and lay down to rest and ponder his direction. In a few hours, when he had regained a bit of his strength, he would allow himself enough water to motivate him to move again, make a choice, and take the first step.

Uber Tales: The Downtown Alpha Male (Douchebag)

This is a totally true, cautionary tale for you ladies that frequent the downtown nightlife.

So I’ve been meaning to write on the different levels in which the vast majority of stupid, misogenistically-programmed men ruin it it for the rest of the halfway decent heterosexual males out there and I had a few ideas, but around a week ago I was given a prime example that not only prompted a bit of introspection, but left me with a few questions.

Around midnight or so I received an Uber request at a nightclub in Orlando called “Gilt”.  This particular club was formerly known as “Roxy” and is one of the few major nightclubs that is not located in or around the downtown area of Orlando.  (At least the only one that’s not an actual strip club.)  It turns out I was passing nearby after another drop-off so I literally pull in to the parking lot within a minute of the ride request and pull to the side to await my riders.  The club was not closed yet, so I expected it would be easy to spot the people waiting for their ride.  I observe the valet and security staff talking to a couple of guys in the parking lot in front of me when one of the security guys points at me, prompting the two guys to turn around and head for my car – easy enough.  The men – let’s call them Bob and Steve – confirm I’m their driver, exchange some pleasantries, and Bob gets in the front while Steve gets in the back.  They ask me to head downtown towards Wall street.  I know it well and we’re on our way.

Close Enough.

Close Enough.

Bob and Steve are well dressed, well groomed, relatively attractive men in their late twenties to early thirties.  Bob is especially muscular and probably spends an above-average time in the gym, whereas Steve is not as obviously “swole” but still defined and in shape.  It becomes obvious very quickly that Bob is an alpha – type A, outgoing, attention seeking and a strong personality while Steve is a / his follower (though not necessarily “weak” but less controlling in the dynamic of their friendship.)  Steve is very likely also a strong personality among other groups that he runs with, but Bob is clearly running the show this night.

There’s a lot of typical talk about the club we came from and it quickly becomes apparent that these two are the all too common (read: shitty) men who by their discussion see women as objects meant solely for their pleasure.  Apparently the crowd at Gilt that night had not impressed them and they were ready to use the remaining ninety minutes downtown to salvage the night.  The highlight of this enlightened exchange is when the two start to go back and fourth regarding STDs (Sexually Transmitted Diseases.)  Up until this point I had mostly tuned them out, but this particular section of their discussion was especially disturbing:

Bob: “The only STD I’m really concerned about getting is HIV you know?  Obviously that’s the one nobody wants to get..”

Me: “I don’t know man… I mean that’s the worst, but any of them would suck and once you get Herpes there’s no cure for that either…”

Steve: “Yeah I was going to say you don’t want to end up with Herpes man… and a lot of people have that!  You know, that’s just people who get cold sores and shit.”

Bob: “Oh I’m not worried about herpes, who cares about that?  I’ve probably already got it anyway.”

Steve: “Dude you would know if you had it.”

Bob: “I know that, I figure if I’ve had open sores for a few days that probably means I have it.”

Me: ……….

Bob: “That’s just what happens when you fuck these bitches downtown without a condom… that shit just happens man.  But as long as it’s not HIV you’re not going to die or anything, so fuck it.”

Steve: “Yeah man, you should try to use a condom downtown.”

For the love of god downtown folk... please?

For the love of god downtown folk… please?

**Note: If I need to elaborate on the many, many things wrong with this dialog, it’s probably too late for you.  What kills me though, is that this is not atypical for the kind of guys that frequent clubs downtown (I also realize there’s SOME good ones)… and it works… you ladies actually go for these guys or whatever persona they show you… mind blowing… regardless let me continue. 

What followed was more or less them continuing to talk about the “action” downtown.  Bob asked me how it looked down there that night and I responded that it was busy, but only average for the night, not overly packed.  Then came the more interesting part:

Bob: I bet you see all kinds of action in here man!  How often do you get blowjobs from the bitches you pick up?

Me: Actually I’ve heard those stories and I’ve seen some things, but never anything like that. Drivers try to avoid touching their riders in general… you know, liability and such.  Besides, even if I had a rider that wanted to do something like that, think about the liability involved there.  What if later on they decide they were drunk, regret it and decide to tell Uber they were harassed?  Then, at the very least, this is no longer an option for making money.

Bob: Oh yeah man, you can’t trust drunk bitches… but what if they want you to come party?

Me: I’ve been invited along a few times, but honestly by that point, they’re pretty much done for the night anyway and I still need to work, so I haven’t taken anyone up on that yet.  If I wanted to do something like that, I’d pretty much have to be done for the night so nothing that happened would have anything to do with Uber.

Bob: Tell you what, why don’t you park the car downtown and come out with us.

Me: I can’t man, I have to work.  (And.. you’re essentially the LAST guy I would care to hang out with..)

Bob: How much you think you’ll make tonight?

Me: Probably around $200?

Bob: I got two bills right here for you.  Come out, relax, I’ll buy drinks, then we’ll find some bitches at the club, go back to my place in 55 West and at the very least you’ll get your dick sucked.

Me:  You’re serious? ( I should’ve given a higher number…)

Bob:  Yeah man I got you, let’s have some fun.

What's the worst that could happen...?

What’s the worst that could happen…?

From that point on I more or less avoided the question, and Steve regurgitated some of what Bob had said.  When we finally reached the downtown area I pulled up to the corner of Orange Ave where they close it off to traffic.  As I ended the fare, Bob was disappointed that I wasn’t going to go with them and the condescension was pretty obvious.

But as I drove off to gather my next fare I wondered if I had made a bad decision.  Obviously, I had no intention of making decisions as bad as Bob and Steve undoubtably did, but at the same time I had passed up a story… and adventure… and honestly more money than I would make that night.  Had I kept things on my terms and gone along with them, it might’ve been fun and maybe I would’ve met somebody worthwhile downtown.  If things had gone south, it would’ve been a simple matter to break off and head home (possibly even via Uber had I been too drunk to drive myself.)  Part of me wondered at what point did I lose my sense of adventure, of new things and new experiences?

I resolved that I didn’t know those men beyond that things they said that were nearly the opposite of how I view things.  To be associated with them, and somewhat inebriated at the mercy of them downtown and especially at his place did not seem like a great idea.  There was more potential for discomfort and possible disaster than there was anything promising and deep down I knew that.

Admittedly, it’s possible over the last year or so I’ve become a bit more introverted.  We all grow and change and though I did have a great time at an EDM club in Seattle earlier this year, for the most part my days of weekly clubbing are long past me.  It’s on my mind though… the fear of leading a boring life and not being open to new experiences.  Frankly, at this point I don’t have the resources for such things anyway, but when I do, I’ll have to pay a bit more attention to finding my groove again… without any assistance from the Alpha Douchebag.