Thursday, January 30, 2014

Better Late Than Never...

When I was a kid, I was sure of two things: One was that there was a lot more to how the world works than what I was being taught. 

I spent the better part of my life battling the fear that came along with that first piece of knowledge; having been brought up in the South, in the Baptist church, I was taught to view life in a way that was usually short-sighted and consistently terrifying. Everything was about fear - fear of hell, fear of retaliation, fear of those who are different, fear of our own desires - and from a very, very early age, I realized that that simply did not work for me. 

My brother and me as kids. 
My idea of God was always that of a benevolent, loving force, and being told that He was sitting in heaven, watching and waiting, ready to judge me and hand down punishment, was very difficult for me to deal with. When you're a child, you don't necessarily have the cognitive ability to think that your own judgment is correct. You instinctively believe that the adults around you are telling you the infallible truth, because that's what adults do. So, when I found my own beliefs at odds with those of my parents and my Sunday school teachers, it disturbed me on a very visceral level, because I automatically assumed that it must have been me who was wrong. And I tried for a very long time to fix my beliefs. 

I remember lying awake at night, thinking about death and dying and trying to imagine what it would be like to go to hell, to be punished for the fact that my brain would not allow me to think the way that the adults thought. It seemed astonishingly unfair that I would have to suffer for something that was as natural a part of me as my fingers and toes, because the idea of not believing that God is love and only love seemed as feasible as cutting off my extremities. 

For years, I vacillated between actively trying to reconcile my beliefs with the adults' beliefs and just flat-out faking it in hopes that I would succeed in making it. And even when I got to the point where it didn't make me lie awake in bed, frantically praying to God to help me believe the right way so that I could be good, it still took awhile for me to truly make peace with it. I eventually realized that I could have my own beliefs and that that was okay, but then I had to start the work of refining what those beliefs really were. I had spent so long just trying to convince myself that I wasn't wrong for questioning, that I had never really taken a hard look at the questions themselves, my answers, and what they meant for me. That was the next part of the journey, and I'm still making my way through. 

The other thing that I was sure of was that I wanted to be a writer. I wrote constantly as a child, indiscriminately. Illustrated picture books, short stories, poems, novellas; there was nothing that I wouldn't write, and I wrote joyously, free of restraint. Everything that was on my mind or in my mind found its way onto a page. Somewhere along the way, however, I fell victim to the self-doubt and malaise that terrorize teenagers. Not only did I no longer feel that I was capable of writing, but the act of writing began to make me feel uncomfortable. When I was younger, I was able to transmute my sensitivity into art, but as I grew older, writing felt more and more like being skinned alive and put on display. And I eventually stopped doing it. 

The reason why I'm starting this blog is to combine these two certainties of my youth into one passion project, to hold myself accountable to my 6-year-old self by practicing my art while exploring my spiritual side. I plan to use this blog as a place to talk about my holistic journey: spirituality, happiness, fitness, good food, and how it all comes together for me. I hope you'll enjoy it.

Me, all grown up.

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