Self Discovery: Influences
As a young man, the world was quite literally mine for the taking. I knew it. I could feel it. Taste it. Hear it audibly beckoning me to enjoy its fruit. But as we all know, life is hardly that simple. There are always other voices, mitigating factors, expanding factors, meandering factors, and much more, goading and prodding us in various directions. From a young age, I fancied myself a logician. If it made logical sense, then that was good enough for me to run with. The problem with that obviously was that many things in life make no logical sense. A belief in God, miracles, family drama, love, friends, unfortunate life circumstances… These things were as far from logical as my adolescent brain could fathom, yet, they were as near to me as the skin on my flesh. God. YHWH. This transcendent being who had issued forth the very life I enjoy, is as illogical as 2+2=35. Yet, that was a truth that would prevail, and still is.
The influences on our lives, tell our stories better than we can. Often times the narratives of our being are so entangled with pride, fear, or shame that we’ll alter them to suit some perceived rubric of acceptance. When you look at the raw influence, TV, educational, institutional, or whatever, you can clear figure an individuals trajectory, calculate their vector and make an educated guess about their position in life. I being a preacher’s kid, uprooted out of the Midwest and thrown into the gaping mouth of LA suddenly experienced, diametrically opposed influences. Thus shaping my mind today. Although certain ways I think now are firmly Oklahoma, a serious amount of me has assimilated to the prevailing wisdom of this diverse metropolitan area.
My pitfalls in life, and there have been many, have all revolved around the embedded discrepancies between illogical things and logical things. Since my life was based, rooted, inundated with the immaterial, intangible, batshit crazy concepts surrounding Jesus and the Lord, the likelihood of me ever embracing scientific order and logic seemed far. But its me we’re talking about. As the years flew by I began acknowledging the logical questions opposing God:
How can He be real? Why choose Jesus over say, Muhammad or Zoroaster? Why not ditch monotheism altogether and choose a meditative route such as Buddhism and use acceptable Christian tenets as supplementary material? How can I believe in a man who lived 2000+ years ago? History was written by the winners, and Christianity was the undoubted winner of the last 2 millenia, how is that unbiased? Christianity is the religion of the white man, as a black man you’ve been deceived and alienated from your heritage. How can there be a God with so much evil in the world? How can there be a God when many things can be proven by science?
And so on.
These logical questions, came in avalanche form and I did not believe in God at points in my life. He was too distant, too arbitrary, too damn difficult to understand for me to place any stock into. But from age 21 and on, He moved in ways that have shaped my theology now.
Other influences on me. Music counterculture. Jazz. Intellectualism. My parent’s marriage. Etc
I haven’t even begun to talk about all the other experiences in life, minute things which have quietly reverberated through my spirit. Influences are frequently acknowledged but rarely dealt with. Especially in our fast paced world of instant gratification, the seemingly inconsequential things are often the most character shaping factors in our lives. Television, radio, the media as a whole… Various cult of personalities like that surrounding Obama… Our leisure activities.. Etc.
I am like a planetary body drifting through space.
My orbit’s focal point is my Sun.
Yet, as I hurtle through the darkness of life,
Other celestial bodies affect my paths,
Gravitational forces from those around me,
Overtly coercive, or surreptitiously deceitful,
Push and pull me to no end.
My atmosphere is my own,
But this space I’m suspended in is inhibited by many,
The occasional comet,
The bumbling asteroid,
The regal planet,
The feared blackhole,
The endless array of stars,
The wondrous galactic bodies.
This harmonized dance.
We affect each other.
We are each others effects.
We are each other’s greatest decisions.
We are each others regrets.
Not because I’m afraid of my future,
Because the destination is set,
Instead I am apprehensive of the journey,
Where those external influences are constantly met.
Getting to know thyself.