The Overview

What’s the overview here? Day after day I keep asking myself that question.multi

Why are so many suffering in such horrendous conditions all over the world?

It’s easy to get caught up in the disasters occurring nationally and globally, especially when they directly affect you or the friends you care about in some way, but what is the overview of what is actually happening worldwide and WHY is it happening? Is that is even discernible?

There are many distinct possibilities to consider: climate change, nuclear testing, fracking, air and water pollution, over-populations, disruption of natural eco-systems, solar flares and excess solar activity, pole wobble, electromagnetic devastationfluctuations, mankind proliferating in general and all the corresponding havoc that creates, etc..

Then there are all the subheads under “mankind in general” like: stupidity, greed, self-interest, maliciousness, vindictiveness, fearfulness, fratricide, sociopathic and psychotic behavior, to name a few easily recognizable traits.

I haven’t even touched the theology-related excuses for reasons too onerous to god disastmention all basically claiming God’s displeasure over some aspect of our existence that doesn’t adhere to the doctrine being prescribed by a believer.

I don’t even want to go there!

BUT…at the same time a part of me says that to do an accurate overview you have to be able to VIEW the entirety of the situation from a perspective distant enough to allow random chaos to form patterns of coherence. And WHO/WHAT handles that type of perspective other than an omniscient/all powerful being or force that not only understands the logic of what is occurring but INITIATES the situations that create the aforementioned chaos for a reason we are not able to discern.

catch 22.jpgIt’s a Catch-22. The (book and movie) World War II scenario think-process: You’re claiming to be mentally unstable so you can’t serve in the military, but what is more mentally unstable than to want to be in the military serving combat duty? So you use saying you’re crazy as your defense for not-serving, but the military knows you’ll use it and therefore considers that you must be sane to try not to serve, so they ignore your insanity claim.

(Defined by Wikipedia as “A situation in which a desired outcome or solution is impossible to attain because of a set of inherently contradictory rules or conditions.”)

Which means that in this situation I do believe that there is an overview reason for all the chaos, but since I’m not privy to that level of knowing to declare what it is other than my guessing at it—which is what most religions do in their own unique ways, so any answer that I offer will sound eerily close to a theological argument—just slightly skewed because of my own beliefs.

Meaning my view of the OVERVIEW is not verifiable fact, it’s just a different flavor of belief.

And with that stated disclaimer, here goes:

To me it all comes down to whether or not you believe that life is intentional or accidental. Then that distills down into whether or not you believe there is such a thing as “an accident.”voltaire accident q.jpg

If there are no accidents, then everything is intentional and everything has a purpose and a reason for its existence and function in the world we recognize. We just may not know the purpose or reason for it.

Pardon me for this tangent, but I was just rereading some old Carlos Castaneda quotes this morning about the KNOWN, the UNKNOWN, and the UNKNOWABLE, time cc.jpgwhich tries to define the limits to our human comprehension ability. This description alludes to our limited ability to know or learn things that we previously did NOT know, which are represented by the UNKNOWN. Then there is the infinitely large category called the UNKNOWABLE, which is beyond our present human-existence context and our capability to comprehend.

We can’t get our arms around the UNKNOWABLE because it exists beyond our present frame of reference and mental capacity to make any sense of it or even to conceive of it.

To make my point here with no soothing reassurances what-so-ever: I do believe thatcastenada.jpg there is a reason for all the chaos and destruction happening in the world at present, as well as a reason for all the chaos and destruction that has ever occurred at any time in the recognizable history of the earth, BUT….it is likely a reason we cannot grasp with any certainty, or catalog definitively within the material-world parameters that we know.

So does my overview help to calm our fears and anxiety over the nasty situations many are experiencing world-wide?

Not in the slightest.

gods handWhich is the very real example of WHY religions grew in popularity over thousands and thousands of years of human existence—to make sense of the UNKNOWN and to speculate on the UNKNOWABLE, because it’s a pretty scary world out there if you’re on your own and you don’t have a group structure to support you.

Shared risk is shared relief.

And the knowledge we gain over the course of our lives only matters in how we use it.

I concede that some things are knowable, and to that I would say that the overview of catastrophic destruction is that it creates opportunity for change and revision—a clearing of the palate sort of thing for the next course of action.

The key point to consider is that the next course of action is truly up to each of us. How we react to chaos and devastation is how the next phase of our lives unfolds.

At present, whatever situation in which we find ourselves, no matter how horrific, simply IS. Our only choice is in how we acknowledge that fact and move forward to a better existence for ourselves and for everyone else in the world that we know, …if we can even define what that might be.

I’m not sure that I can define it other than it will likely be a shared goal, vilsack goals.jpgrather than a self-interested one.

I’ll go with that.

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Manifestation of LOVE

There were a few things I wanted to accomplish this morning, including some tiger kit.jpgcomputer-related stuff, so I plopped down in front of the screen and began to type. Max, the 4-month old tiger kitten from the jungles of Sumatra (or perhaps the neighbor’s barn)—the tiny, orange baby that adopted us 3 months ago, was tearing around my room trying to engage me in play and mutual rough-housing.

I was having none of it. I wanted to write. I wanted to check the news site, Facebook, etc.

He was having none of my “none-of-it,” and began climbing up on everything in sight, including me. When he’d jump up onto my chest for nap-time, I’d put him back down tiger 4again because it’s hard to type one-handed and he’s getting heavier by the day. He must already weigh what our last adult female cat weighed before she died. He’s going to be a monster—a genuine mini-tiger!

He’s at the “look-at-me-I can-jump-as-high-as-the-counter” stage now, so after repeatedly yelling at him for his numerous incursions onto everything I did not want him disrupting, damaging, or pilfering, I finally just gave in to his last jump-to-my-chest assault and held him to me. He immediately quieted and began purring, then nestled gently into my arms and promptly went to sleep.

That’s all he wanted.

He just wanted to be held and loved. All the acting out—the naughtiness—the terrorizing—it was all because he wanted to be held in my arms and I had refused to allow it. So he made me regret my decision in any way that he could.

tiger face.jpgAs I listened to his deep-throated purr that vibrated against my body with a soothing reassurance that this little creature truly loved me in return, I realized that this fuzzy bundle of condensed, kinetic energy was exactly what I wanted, wasn’t it? Spirit gave me the very thing that I needed to fill that void from our last feline housemates passing away. S/he gave me LOVE.

We cuddled for as long as my arm could hold him; and he was ready to move on anyway as evidenced by the little nip to my other arm when I disrupted him. (We’re still working on that no-biting thing.)  Then he was content to sit on his own and watch out the window.

LOVE is not to be ignored. LOVE is not to be taken for granted.4 month old max.jpg

LOVE is to be gratefully enjoyed whenever it manifests.

If you doubt it, …I have LOVE’s Sumatran enforcer I can loan you.

Archetype as Manifestation

om symb.jpgReading a blog post on Hinduism, I ran across a sentence that stated that Hinduism is often thought to be polytheistic (many deities) but actually it is monotheistic (one Supreme Being which is TRUTH); and the various other Hindu Gods and Goddesses depicted in statues and iconic art are merely manifestations of the Supreme Being. They are the recognizable ways that TRUTH manifests Itself in the world that we know.

True, this may be one person’s opinion/perception in general on the subject. But it spurred a thought in me that each of the iconic manifestations (Shiva, Vishnu, Brahma, Ganesha, Tara, Kali, …etc.) which handle specialized functions and forces of the arch black.jpgrecognized Hindu Universe, were similar to archetypes—specific behavioral patterns depicted in a generalized, recognizable form for the collective mind to grasp.

In no way can I, nor would I, try to adequately explain one of the most complex, ancient belief systems of humanity, but I can recognize that religions in general were often created to help people conceptualize/rationalize the interacting forces of their lives from birth to death—to help make a type of sense to how fragile their lives often seemed.

  • What’s the purpose, the reason, or the point of LIFE in general?
  • Why come into this existence for so short a time and then leave with little evidence of our having even been here?life purpose.jpg

Well, religions have tried to supply those illusive answers. Some folks might be satisfied with those answers, and some may not.

But what most religions do is to provide their followers with a purpose of life narrative that many find comforting in some way. To be believable, that narrative needs a cast of characters to provide the story’s action. Those action characters often provide the religion’s examples of the human-like behaviors to admire or detest—the should’s and should not’s examples—the goodness aspects to emulate and the badness aspects to avoid.

With deities, however, it is not so much the human attributes and failings that are primarily important about them, because their importance lies in the affecting forces of the Universe that they represent—forces for destruction or creation—forces for condemnation or adulation—forces for cruelty or compassion—forces for personal defense or protection—forces to block adversity and to clear obstructions.

These forces are often depicted as recognizable human-like figures—meaning that they are ARCHETYPES—a collectively recognized symbol representing a pattern of thought or behavior.

Example: When Shiva or Kali manifest in the world—watch out! shiva.jpgThey both represent destruction.

So if we wish to change our social and cultural concepts of how the world around us should function and flow, perhaps we should examine the archetypes/symbols we often associate with peaceful co-existence.

If we truly want to manifest a loving and compassionate world, we need an archetypal model to emulate. That may be the draw of Christianity, where you have an entire religion based on a recognized symbol of love and compassion for all in Jesus.

In Hinduism or Buddhism it might be represented by Tara, or Buddism’s Avalokiteśvara (male Bodhisattva) or Guanyin (female Bodhisattva) who also represent mercy and compassion.  But the point being: There are recognized archetypes already existing that represent the desired state of being. We don’t even have to create them. We simply need to utilize them as archetypal examples of loving forces for the betterment of humanity.

I am NOT a fan of organized religions. But I do recognize that their function is to promote models of positive human behavior and right-attitudes for humanity’s peaceful co-existence.wild angel.jpg

So perhaps if we focused less on the doctrine espoused by these religions and more on the general intention by all for positive, peaceful human co-existence, then there would be less necessity for warrior archetype to remain the primary action hero of today’s life narrative. Let’s switch to SAGE archetype for awhile. We need a little less automatic reaction and a bit more consideration before action in the world we occupy.

It’s a stretch, I know. But it’s definitely worth the effort.

Remember that an archetype is representative of a pattern of behavior, so what behavior is most productive for all of our futures? Hatred and destruction only create more of the same.

Love and peaceful co-existence assure that there might actually be a tomorrow to enjoy.

I vote for that.love hate.jpg

Eclipsing Cultural Archetypes

I knew the transcending archetypes theme would be a multi-part war aech.jpgexploration because the overview intention is to cover how we as a species are actually transcending the great collective warrior archetype—being constantly at war with ourselves and everyone around us.

But before we can examine species transcendence, we have to address our cultural and societal archetypes that presently prevent our future transcendence into a more sage-like existence where wisdom is more appreciated than force or power.

eclipseHere, midst the lunar and solar eclipse season in the USA, it’s not hard to see darkening shadows moving across our society’s sun. The latest insanity involves once latent and now rampantly exposed racism and bigotry across our nation, primarily led by the election of a self-proclaimed change agent “the likes the world has never seen before,” or so he claims.

Actually I’m pretty sure the world has seen a change agent like this before. About 1933 or so, the world took notice of hatred’s rising star at that time in Germany. So, if this hit8.jpgpresident were truly a student of history, which he isn’t—not even the Cliff’s Notes version, he would know that he isn’t unique. He’s just rehashed and reheated fascism at its worst.

What the Donald doesn’t realize is that the rest of us who DO know history know Hitler’s story in its entirety, and how it progressed into authoritarian madness for the world and all the people in his march of destruction.

How this could happen in our nation, is the same question that I’m sure many sensible and intelligent Germans asked themselves at the time of Hitler’s rise to power. What perfect societal storm made the conditions ripe for a narcissistic sociopath to come to the forefront, other than he knew how to successfully con people into believing in what he was selling because he’d done it all his life? That, and his backers (in this country and questionable others) threw all their billions behind destroying the opposition before him.

So here we are left with the aftermath of bad electoral decisions and their resonating, worldwide consequences.

kid w glasses.jpegHowever, what happened over the last week since the lunar eclipse, until the present with the solar eclipse diagonally crossing the entire nation today, has shifted the nation’s collective attitude and perspective so radically into resisting the hatred and bigotry espoused by the president and his minions of white nationalism, that it was like whiplash to the rest of us watching it happen.

City by city, for every white nationalist rally across the country, the countering peace/resistance rallies absolutely engulfed them. After the first skirmish in Charlottesville, VA, where the president spouted his support for the “free-speechers” of the alt-right at a press conference, then BOOM—the country and even Republican law-makers fought back to say, “Not on my streets!!!—Not in MY country!!!”race riot.jpg

I’m pretty sure this reverberating fallout from showing his true colors on national television isn’t over yet. And actually I was almost surprised that only Bannon got the boot so far when I’m nearly certain Amendment 25 was on the Security Council’s minds, if not lips, at Friday’s session at Camp David. I mean, isn’t that why Mike Pence was called back from South America? That’s what I would assume would be serious enough to make him cut his trip short. National Security can also mean eliminating internal threats to the country and people, which is what he most represents now.

We’ll see I guess. Once the successful businessman façade is completely torn away and the man’s character is exposed in its absolute moral bankruptcy, then there will be little left for even his most devoted followers to exalt.

So one major archetype is under close scrutiny and eventual trump whitetransformation right now—the archetype of a strong leader must be more closely examined to reveal what actually defines leadership for the future of civilization in general.

Pretty sure the present example lumbering over the ‘White House’ golf course in Jersey isn’t it.

Agent of Chaos

Sure, I could easily be talking about our Chief Executive Officer of the USA—certainly nobody does chaos like he does, but actually I was referring to our kitten/cat/Tasmanian 20170609_131620 (1).jpgDevil that magically appeared on our front step about 2.5 months ago.

I don’t mean to be discriminatory about orange, tiger-stripe cats here but since I’ve had a large number of cats and kittens in my life, including two previous ginger-striped ones, I knew that seeing this tiny, starving, max shoe.jpgmonth-old baby at the door was likely going to be quite a ride if we kept him because the other two little tigers had been in leagues of their own for terrorizing everyone around them, including the other cats and dogs.

But how can you turn away a gift from Spirit like that? We just couldn’t.

I named him Max—short for Maxim the Great. He’s very entertaining, very challenging, and he’s very, very naughty.

max eyes (1).jpgWhen a kitten holds eye contact with you to the extent that Max did at the start, I knew he was pretty intelligent, and would soon learn how to push all our buttons.

He’s going to be a big guy from the looks of his over-sized paws to his ever-lengthening legs and tail.

He’s also a real toughie who doesn’t back down from a good rough-housing until you’ve called the truce, not him. After the first week, he walked around here like he owned the place and we were merely his servants. I know most cats do that, but he’s worse—he’s a max eyes (2).jpgbiter—he enforces his own rules. I can trim his nails weekly but I can’t trim his teeth.  The only thing that presently saves us from blood scabs all over our arms and legs is using a water squirt-bottle on him when he bites or locking him in time-out for awhile.

Clearly we’d forgotten how good-mannered our last inside adult cats had been until Max reminded us of the difference between him and them. No plants are safe now, nor is any small object that can be pilfered from fewer and fewer locations that remain outside his leaping abilities.

The house is a mass of toys to distract him, boxes and beds to house him, and towels and blankets on all furniture to prevent him from shredding them—with his teeth, no less.

He has brought chaos into our previously quiet and stagnant lives.

max me.jpgI mean I’m trying to type this one-handed at times because he insists on being the middle of whatever I am doing; and it’s so rare when he’s loving and huggable, that you make allowances to accommodate him because Tasmanian Max is a terror of “epic proportions, unlike the world has ever seen before,” to quote the earlier mentioned agent of chaos that our nation/the world must presently endure.

I wonder if water squirt-bottles and time-outs would work with him? Someone should try it.

Anyway, I keep reminding myself that kittens go though behavior stages and soon enough he will be fat and lazy like most adult cats become. We simply have to survive the 1st-year growth phase. In the meantime, I also recognize Spirit’s metaphor on agents of chaos shaking things up in stagnant environments.

Let’s hope the nation and the world survives the large “orange one’s” insanity because I’m pretty sure he won’t outgrow it.

But as the vet said to give us hope for the future, “Neutering might help.”max on afgan.jpg

Me, Against the World

me world.jpgI had someone say this to me once—something to the effect that I acted like it was ‘me, against the world.’

“So?” I asked him back, “You mean it isn’t?”

While I might be able to laugh about it now, he likely had a point that I couldn’t see at the time. However, he also didn’t live in my skin back then to know how the world and everyone in it actually appeared to me.

I think all of us have lived through difficulties either of our own making or we’ve been the recipients of the attempted manipulations or the ill will of others. Yes, there are some genuinely nice, caring people in the world—I do know some, but at the time, they either weren’t in my circle of intimacy or they had stepped back and decided it was up to me to sink or swim by myself.

Back then I felt that I had been betrayed by the people I had called my friends—that I’d even been abandoned by those I cared most about; that they left me to survive alone with little resources abandoned.jpgor options other than by my own indomitable will.

At the worst of the worst, all I knew was that some way, somehow, I had to make it through each day and night, and to do that I needed to muster my own inner fortitude to simply endure the horror of everything that I was experiencing and to keep pushing through the darkness until something in my life changed for the better—until I could actually see the light again and pull myself out of that underworld hell I’d unfortunately been touring.

I could give specifics, but they don’t really matter because it’s all about the lessons we learn along the way. Everyone has a story. Everyone has a challenge that pits them lifes challengesagainst the demons, real or imagined, in their lives. Everyone has the choice to fight for their own existence or to lie down and die, hoping death will free them from the torment (It won’t—don’t try it—your next-life challenge might be even worse.).

So sure, I might do the ‘me, against the world,’ thing at times. That’s fine. I’ve earned the right to do it if that’s what I want to do, because I did survive my personal ordeal to be here right now laughing about some aspects of it with the rest of you.

No one gets out of this life untested in some way, primarily because it’s why you came. You came to be tested. You came to be thrown into the blast furnace of your choosing and then be hammered into strong steel for whatever purpose your present life represents.

That’s why you are here: To learn, to experience the joys and sorrows of life on this dimension of existence.  Sometimes the joys are indescribable and sometimes the sorrows are nearly unbearable, but only YOU can choose to share them with others or face them alone.

myss quoteI know now that I’m not really alone here. I never was.

But those dark nights of the soul that we ALL must face sooner or later only strengthens our resolve to better appreciate the beauty of the light again, once we can pull ourselves out of that damn hole that we’ve stumbled (or jumped) into earlier.

That’s the real choice we make each day: the choice to whine and wallow away in the darkness, or to climb out of that stinking hole and come back into the light.

It’s a choice we ALL have to make.light.jpg

I made mine. I prefer the light.

Being Honest with Oneself

A couple weeks ago I read a man’s revealing blog entry about how his world was suddenly upended by his loving wife dying from a fast-acting form of cancer. He wrote how he simply came apart after her death and spent the majority of his time tipping a bottle. What saved him, he said, was bottoming out, letting everything go, and being brutally honest with himself about every aspect of his past, present, and future without her.

While these words below (inspired by his article) are mine and not his, it was a powerful and hopeful message that needed to be shared—how he slowly rebuilt his life from the ground up by changing how he viewed his role in the process.  I’d like to list his url page of the article here for all to read it directly but unfortunately I can’t locate it again. Sorry. This fictional account is the best I can do.

***

Jack, my counselor, told me he had one rule, and that was to be honest in our talks. “Be honest?” I sneered back at him. The only truth I knew for certain was that I was still sinking in a tar pit of pain over my wife’s sudden illness and death that past year—I raged for half an hour at the unfairness of it all to both of us.  “You want REAL?” I told him, “THAT is very real to me—so there Jack, THAT is my being honest with you!”

My counselor then said to use that very real pain as the starting point to feeling what truth is for me—to use it as the gauge of honesty for every other aspect of my life to help determine what I expected from life in general, and even more importantly, what life might actually expect from me—which made no sense at all to me back then. “What LIFE expects from me?” I yelled, “Screw life! What did it ever do but give me more pain?”

He said that if I could just be honest with myself over what I truly felt for my wife before and after her illness, and allowed myself to feel the real depth of my loss over her death, then I could be honest about other parts of myself as well. That honesty, he said, would help me determine how I wanted to live the rest of my life.

The booze, he said, was keeping me from ‘feeling’ in general because if I never really let myself feel the pain, then I could never get past the pain to move on from there.

The court-required AA meetings helped because other addicts/alcoholics won’t let you lie about what you do or why you do it. They know. They’ve been there. They’ve said and done the same things, and they call you out on your stuff. You can’t hide it from them. You get that real fast. And I needed that.  I needed their truthfulness to help me uncover my own.

But I wouldn’t call those meetings support as much as I’d call it a mirror held up to your face that you can’t avoid.  There you are—twenty or so different versions of you—all gathered in one room sharing stories, shame, and self-loathing.  And there I was with a bunch of other people supposedly just like me—like being called by some other name to tell something similar to my story, like Jim or John or Lori, …or Frank or Jerry—but they were all different versions of me. “Same brand of ice cream, just a different flavor,” Jack said.

Well I didn’t like how that made me feel, so I told them about it. Said I didn’t belong there.

“Accept it,” they said. “We are alcoholics. You’re an alcoholic—lying is what you do, especially to yourself.  That’s who you are because that’s the most comfortable way to be—at least it always has been. Problem now is that even lying doesn’t work for you anymore.”

They were rough with me at times because I was so stuck in denial—claiming I was the victim here—why couldn’t they see that? One guy even pointed to me and said, “You want to keep seeing this same lying sack of shit staring back at you every time you look in the bathroom mirror? NO? Then change what you’re doing—change what you’re thinking. Because if you can’t accept the living proof of who and what you are sitting here all around you—if you can’t stand to think that you’ve been lying to yourself and to everyone you say you loved day after day for most of your life, then don’t expect your future to be any different. It’s your choice. YOUR choice, man!”

The “Your choice!” repeated over and over in their own stories. It’s always your choice. It’s your decision. “No one makes it but you,” they kept saying. “It isn’t really about life’s unfairness, or how much you miss your wife,” one of them told me. It was about being honest with myself about what I was feeling—what I still AM feeling about it all, and deciding if that’s what I want to feel in the future.

“If you can do that,” my counselor who led the group said, “if you can be honest with yourself, then you can pull yourself together and get on with your new life without the booze. But it’s really up to you.”

And as a parting shot, another guy who looked a lot like my sleezy Uncle Charlie, who was the last person in the world I ever wanted a lecture like this from, told me, “If you aren’t willing to help yourself buddy, don’t expect us to help you.”

Well, a couple years later I can tell you that it wasn’t easy by any means. Some days are still a struggle, but eventually I learned to view that past history of my previous self and life in a different way—what Jack called “in a more constructive manner”—one where I could refocus on how I had survived those painful life lessons, and use that survivor mentality to help me feel good about myself again, …which was far better than feeling so rotten all the time, where I simply wanted to numb myself into la-la land with the booze.

But maintaining the what Jack had named “lesson-filled, boot-camp view” of my previous life which he said I had successfully survived, was a difficult choice that I had to keep making day after day—sometimes every minute of the day for awhile, until I grew more comfortable in my new skin.

And getting to know this new me who thought and acted completely different from the old me, was the hardest part of it, because I finally realized that for 42 years I’d basically been doing nothing more than lying to myself, so I hardly knew what truth looked like, or even what being truthful felt like.

In fact the more I considered it, I’m not sure that I had ever been honest with anyone, let alone being honest with myself back then.

Was everything I’d said and done in my entire life a lie? If so, then wasn’t any part of it real? And what part of me was the real ME who was actually worth knowing? To figure that out, Jack tried to flip my mind again to see WHO it was that I wanted to become, to know how to get there. He said it was like creating an image of the new and better me that I would simply have to GROW into. But how could I do that?

Jack framed it to me this way: If I were the adult parent of a newborn ME ready to be introduced into this world full of challenges and wonders, what kind of parent would I truly need to be to successfully raise baby ME into a solid, well-balanced adult? Would I need a critical, demanding, drill sergeant constantly condemning ME and beating me down for my failings, or a nurturing, caring, coach continually encouraging my daily progress and raising me up to feel good about myself?

Not a tough choice, really. I didn’t need to feel any worse about myself than what I’d already been feeling.  What I needed was to feel more loved and supported than I had actually felt throughout most my childhood. Jack agreed. He said what I needed to help me succeed in my new life direction was my own loving guidance and support, not more self-condemnation.

Per Jack’s instructions, every morning now when I look in the bathroom mirror, I ask myself this question: “How are you going to encourage the best from that young kid in you today—how are you going to parent yourself to become a strong and loving person?”

Then I look right into my own eyes and say the words of a speech I’d memorized for doing this daily self pep-talk, “How can I express myself in more compassionate ways—in ways that other loving and caring people want to share in—ways that help them to recognize the goodness of my heart so they want to become more a part of my life?”

“How can I be a good person?”  I ask the ME staring back in all my imperfections. And that’s the goal I set for the day—every day—just trying to be a good person in some way—trying to help somebody or to do something nice for somebody else, because it makes me feel good when I can do that. And the more good I do for others, the better I feel about myself. Funny I know, but that’s how it is.

Well, as you can see, I’m still working on that goal of being a better person. But I wanted others to know that being honest with myself was a key to clearing out the garbage from my life. Think about it: You got to keep taking out the trash to keep from stinking up the house.

And if that ain’t being honest, …then I don’t know what is.