Steroid Nights, Part II

On Sundays I take a hefty dose of steroids, which counteracts, to some degree, the diarrhea of my chemo, and it also helps the chemo to work a little better. However, the steroids’ have their own side effects of causing two nights of insomnia, and at least the first night, a touch of mania. Mania isn’t always bad because with it comes euphoria and a remarkable amount of optimism. Optimism beats depression.

But with this state comes thoughts like they are being fired out of a machine gun. Mostly good thoughts. Incredible thoughts of wanting to build a submarine and explore the oceans, or write one hundred books (plots popping into my mind faster than I could type), climb mountains, and the list goes one. I wanted to write down some of these raw thought again, harvesting just enough from my fields of ripe thoughts, to give me space to try and sleep again. They may be nonsensical to you as some are even to me when I read them after steroids’ have worn off. Some may also be redundant . . . and at 3 am I’m sure a typo or two will slip in. I will try to be more brief this time.

  1. If we were born into the world today, as fully devolved adults, all our fine-tuned senses there, well established cognition, I think we would spend the first few months prone on the ground, weeping, at the grandeur of the cosmos around us. The beauty and mystery would be overwhelming. I once camped in the high mountains of Switzerland for a month. I asked a local one day, “How are you not overcome by the beauty each morning when you come out of your house? How do you get anything done?” He answered, “Oh, I was born here. I don’t notice … because it is normal.” The Cosmos is “normal” to us because we have lived in it all our lives. But it is truly remarkable.
  2. In the 1990s I had a unique opportunity. Having been totally disillusioned with Bible-belt evangelicalism, and most of organized religion, I spent the decade studying everything I could to try and find truth. I studied history, science, theology, philosophy (considered atheism), world religions, and etc. In that process, did I not only become reacquainted with science and the incredible cosmos, but I met the very simple, historical Jesus for the first time. Profoundly simple. If he came to a “Jesus Rally” today, he would get totally lost in the crowd, pushed out of the way. Looking at organized Christian religions and seeing the historical Jesus, is like looking at a pile of wood chips and trying to reimagine the tree. I think if the world met this man, they would be enthralled. That what frustrates me with religious mischief under his banner. Still not a fan of religion.
  3. I have always been intrigued by social pretense, especially after the experience of the 1990s. I see humans like a 100 story building where only the foundation is buried in reality and truth and for each story above, you live more pretentiousnessly. The penthouse is occupied by TV evangelists, cult leaders, and some politicians, all of which live in a fake world of lies only to gain wealth, prestige, votes, and sex. I won’t name any names. They are so out of touch with reality, that they start to believe their own lies and brainwash their followers. Below them, comes many more politicians who lie to get your votes and a lot of religious people who lie to manipulate you. When I was an evangelical we (and I think it was more than just me) lived about the 60th floor. We lived in a pretend world of perfection, where we covered our flaws and faked a persona. I made a decision in the 1990s that I would try to live as authentically as I could, warts and all. All the “Jesus talk” disappeared (thank goodness) and my insecurities, doubts, depressions, elations, and true selfishness, I try to wear on my sleeves. I write honestly here … to a fault. I look weak … unprofessional. It has been difficult. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been told I’m going to hell or that I’m not a spiritual persona or that I’m too silly … or too serious. The way society is structured, there is tremendous pressure to pretend to be what we are not. This drilling down toward the foundation is a lot like diving in the deepest trenches of the ocean in submarine and the further down you go, the greater the pressure is around you to conform back upward. I created a character in my book Ristretto Rain, Jamie, who due to a brain injury could only speak the truth of what he was thinking. I knew someone like that in real life, who lived in the foundation of reality … zero pretense. Awkward … but beautiful. But that real person is that person deep inside you, that even your closest person (spouse, family, friend) doesn’t know, heck, even that person you don’t know.
  4. I can look at and understand the most heinous people who ever lived, because they resonate (only a little I hope) with the selfishness and evil within me. However, for those people who live in this wonderful cosmos and are never curious, who believe everything they are told by who they look up to, who never want to explore or take the unbroken trail, never ask hard questions, who have never doubted, who don’t beg for authentic answers … those people are a complete mystery to me. I feel like something in our society has murdered their souls. I am a raging skeptic, thank goodness. For example, you can’t be a good theist if you don’t consider atheism as an option, and vice versa. Believing in God without doubt is not faith but social coercion in my book. You will never see a real miracle if you call everything a miracle. You will never know any truth if you arrive at “truth” through emotional coercion rather than honest study. Politicians, profiteers, and many religious leaders (rarely scientists) use emotional coercion toward their flawed goals. I’m glad my preacher isn’t one of those types of religious leaders.
  5. There are some people, my aunt Helen was one, who honestly care about and love other people so much … and they were born that way. It comes to them naturally. I don’t understand it. While I share the aspiration to be like them, for me, it must come through discipline … not my selfish nature.

Good night, Mike


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