The Answer Changed

My mind is racing more than usual, and with good reason…Four months ago, I stumbled upon an essay that I found very interesting and just down-right pure and honest, something you don’t see a lot of in our world today. The essay I’m speaking of is that written by Aiden lead singer/creative genius behind William Control, William Francis. In the piece, he was referring to something that he had posted on one of his social networking sites and the reaction he received because of said post…Basically, he was setting the story straight, as any good person would, explaining where he came from and how he became the person he is today, beliefs and all. I found this very interesting because while I couldn’t relate to how he grew up, per say, we do share similar beliefs.  I know some of you are thinking that I only agree with Mr. Francis because I’m a fan of Aiden and William Control, but even if he didn’t front such awesome works, I would still feel the same way about his views. So please, don’t assume. It never makes anyone more knowledgeable, believe me. More on assuming later, it strangely fits in with the questions at hand.

Sometime last summer, I wrote a piece about how I questioned religion at a young age, how my questions weren’t being answered and all that jazz, but I never really cared to mention what caused me to deny an existence in God. The answer isn’t rocket science, it’s actually really simple. Probably not worth explaining because I will more than likely only be shot down by someone who thinks they know what’s good for me, but that’s the thing…No one knows what’s good for me…Only I know what’s good for me. Granted, my mother and father’s judgement does matter of course, but I’m an adult and only I can make decisions and know/choose what I want to believe in.

Before I go on any further, I would like to apologize for offending anyone because I know right off the bat, that I will. It’s not something that I do intentionally, but it always seems to be what happens. People sometimes cannot handle their convictions being challenged and while it isn’t something that should be blown out of proportion, almost 100% of the time it is. I don’t mean to change anyone’s way of thinking because I down-right loathe when the same thing is done to me. It seriously isn’t something I agree with, but that’s beside the point. Back to what really matters…

I had been questioning religion and everything it stood for for a very short time, but I always thought that there was a God. I was completely, 100% sure that there was some all-powerful being that would sooner or later decide my fate upon dying. It was something I did believe in. Honestly, it was something I was raised on. Pure and simple. I was raised Catholic. There’s no two ways around it, that’s just how I raised. I was raised Catholic and believed that there truly was a God, until I started questioning such claims of course. I believed in it until it started not working for me. As I grew up, I started to turn away from the whole church-going-thing, on account of the fact I wasn’t attending a Catholic school anymore. Blame it on the public school system or the fact that I was just becoming a teenager, but I found myself not going to church anymore. I found myself changing, as any normal person would during their teenage years, and it seemed like instead of going to church, I was preoccupied with school and its never-ending array of horrors and new experiences…I was raised Catholic and that is that.

Over time, I started to find better things to do with my time. From doing homework and staying out late on some school nights to catch an underground show, to spending time with people who I hardly talk to now. Hardly is actually an understatement. Never would be more like, but then again this isn’t a how-much-we’ve-all-changed post. Not today. Honestly, I wasn’t going to church anymore, and sometimes forgot that there was a such thing as God. Well, not really forgot, but it wasn’t something I thought about on a daily basis, not like before when it was an essential part of my days. I wasn’t thinking about God as my friends and I were being verbally abused day in, day out or before and after my head was smashed into a locker. The thought of such a thing didn’t cross my mind anymore.

Instead of learning about religion, right/wrong and such, I was learning about how incredibly cruel people are, how heartless. Yes, I said it. People can be cruel, wicked, down-right horrible. I dealt with things that I normally hadn’t dealt with before. I was learning about real life. Sure, being at two Catholic schools did somewhat have their fair share of pressures, struggles, I suppose, but I don’t think I learned anything that would help me in the real world. I mean, I did learn that you were supposed to treat others the way you wanted to be treated, something I try to live by, despite the fact that people won’t always return the favor. I have to say that that’s the only thing I learned that I still put my convictions in. It’s really just something I believe in. There is some amount of good in the world, you just have to know where to find it, I guess. While I learned that smoking lead to blackened lungs and lung cancer, getting good grades were the main objective if you wanted a bright, shining future, and that God was the Lord and his son Jesus was our Savior, dying for our sins, it didn’t really seem to help me anymore…It was like I was in a whole other place entirely because, quite frankly, I was. It wasn’t the same guarded structure I was familiar with. Now, it seemed like you were all on your own, with maybe a couple tight-knit friends to help you fight your way through…I believed in all of that until those things started to not be all rainbows and Care Bears. I believed in all of it until those things stopped working for me. Until they started to slowly unravel and not be as true as they seemed. (Granted, tarred lungs and the cancer that comes with it is definitely not rainbows and Care Bears, but you get the idea.)

From a completely personal standpoint, the individuals I knew who smoked practically their entire lives, and then decided to quit to better their health or what have you, have developed lung cancer and died from said cancer. I honestly believe that if they hadn’t quit the habit, they would still be alive. It sounds outrageously idiotic and stubborn, but somehow makes sense. There is always the dreaded possibility that the cancer would develop later in their lives, or that they could expire from something completely unrelated to the fact that they smoked all those years. It’s more ironic to die by something that’s never harmed you your whole life, as oppose to expiring by something that you’ve built up a tolerance to. Whether it really makes sense or not, is completely up to the way you look at it. As for the whole good grades agenda, it is true. Hard work and good grades could get you into a good college and on your way to a bright future, but in the same breath, could swamp you up to your knees in school loans and debt and it isn’t always certain that you will find a job in the field you majored in. I’ve ranted about this fact more than once, and quite frankly, it’s really annoying. This isn’t some college-ranting post, and I’m not making it into one. Not today. God being the Almighty and powerful Father and his son Jesus Christ, our Savior, the one who died for our sins…I’m happy you stayed around here for the so-called clincher.

The event that made me believe that there was no way there could be a God was my friend’s suicide in the late summer of 2008. Yes, it’s probably not a good enough excuse for denying the existence of said deity, but way back some 3 years ago it seemed like the best reason. I had already seen many loved ones expire, all of them far older than me, riddled with some kind of cancer, and all that time I’d still had faith. I was a foolish child. I didn’t know any better. I think it’s when something is unexpected and at the same time incredibly shocking, you tend to question your faith. In this particular circumstance, it seemed like just another question on my never-ending list.

It was one of those times where you remember everything that happened, and I remember exactly what I was doing the day I got the phone call I almost didn’t answer. I was just randomly browsing Hot Topic’s website, something to past the time, when I heard my phone ring. I almost wasn’t going to get up and answer it. I was being lazy. Plain and simple. I didn’t want to get up and pick up the phone. I only answered it because it happened to be one of my best friends calling. She was wondering what our one friend’s sister’s name was. I, of course, had absolutely no idea and asked why she wanted to know. She said she saw something in the obituaries in the paper and wanted to be sure about something. I said that I didn’t know, but I would check it out because now I was a little curious. At first, I honestly didn’t believe it. After I went online and typed in obituaries, I saw what she was talking about. The obituary in question appeared to be that of our friend. I immediately knew this couldn’t be the same person, that’s not how his last name was spelled, it’s not him at all. It just didn’t seem possible. Of course, that was exactly how his last name was spelled, the obituary was indeed his. I immediately thought that he’d expired by being hit by a car, riding his bike. Horrible thing to think, I know, but it was something that could have been a possibility, despite the fact that he loved cars. How ironic, right? It only gets worse. The idea of him expiring by being hit by something that he loved was indeed ironic, but the truth was that of an even more chilling caliber.

I called my one friend and while she wasn’t really friends with him (just acquaintances), I was curious to see what she knew about the whole situation, if she did indeed know anything. She did. She told me that it was suicide. He strung up himself a noose and hung himself. He committed suicide in a nearby park. The park that just happened to be less than 5 minutes from my house. I didn’t want to believe it. The person I’d known since the 6th grade was dead. I also didn’t want to believe that I was one of the last people to know. He was dead for four days or so and I find out that he died the day of the wake. We weren’t outrageously close, but we quickly bonded and became friends when I first arrived at my new school. We had hung out outside of school and shared common interests. We had a friendship. He was (at least he seemed like) the happiest person I knew. His Myspace screen name was Mr. Wonderful for fuck’s sake.

Rumors started to surface about why he went to such extremes. Strict home life, possible depression, murder…The idea that one of his best friends might have murdered him first started to circulate, but then died rather quickly. I don’t really believe the whole murder thing. I met his friend a couple of weeks before at the library and while he was quiet, he seemed like a pretty nice guy and they seemed like genuine friends by the way they talked to each other. I didn’t want to believe the whole suicide thing either, although it seemed like everything I knew about him was shattered, like nothing about him was real anymore. Everything was just some big facade, a cunning charade. His whole life was one big neatly sown together lie, stitched, holding back everything he knew no one would want to see. I racked my brain for weeks, a couple of months even, trying to understand why such thing happened, what drove him to the so-called edge. After a while, I stopped searching for answers to why he committed suicide. He had his reasons, whatever they might have been, and he is now gone from this world. To where you’re probably wondering? No one knows. Yes, Christians would say that he is burning in Hell for all eternity because suicide is considered a sin, the self-desecrating act of taking your own life, but I know better.

While I lost my faith upon learning first hand the reality and aftershock of suicide, there was evidence that my said faith had an even better reason to be questioned. Earlier that same year, my sophomore year, I learned about the Theory of Evolution in my Biology class and honestly, it changed the way I looked at the world and religion. This theory has absolutely nothing to do with suicide and whether you burn in Hell or not, but it is probably the best evidence to support the fact that the world didn’t start out with Adam & Eve. It is also just one of those things that I still remember to this day and find plausible. I’m not saying my memory sucks, but sometimes I surprise even myself with the things I can remember. I also distinctly remember that some girl in my class was gone for the semester or so that we learned about the subject because it went against her religion. All I could think of was that it goes against almost everyone’s religion. Honestly, the Theory of Evolution just seemed to make sense to me. As I stated before, it isn’t something I’ve forgotten to this day, but then again, I’m not saying God is something I’ve forgotten either. I remember almost everything I learned in my years at those Catholic schools just as well as I remember the basic concept of Darwin’s theory. I’m not saying I remember one thing just because it happens to make more sense than the latter. I recall both school lessons and I know where I came from and know what I believe in now.

The world didn’t start out with Adam & Eve. How could it be written that Adam & Eve were the only two people on Earth, if there was indeed just that? How could something like that be recorded if there was no one around to record it? I distinctly remember that  was one of the questions that crossed by mind in the beginning, and one that I still ask today. I’m totally serious when I ask this question. How could it be documented that Adam & Eve were the only two people created on Earth when there was just the two of them? The same question applies to the story of Noah’s ark and the great flood. How could something like that be recorded if there was no one there to record it? Sure there were people alive, but that was before the flood. There was indeed Noah and his family if I remember correctly, but it was never stated that he was recording the events that were happening. This question also comes to mind: How could someone who created all mankind and everything under the sun, be so cruel as to send a massive flood to destroy his precious creations only because they weren’t acting as such? Does that mean someone could destroy his home and family because they weren’t acting how he wanted them to? God destroyed his creations once, why isn’t it alright for man to do the same?

I was watching this show called American Occult a while ago, coincidentally two of the stories took place in my birth state of Ohio. In the show, it explained the story of, if I remember correctly, a teenager killing two people in the name of the Devil and everything that happened after said acts. Now, I don’t mean to sound stereotypical, but it seems like you hear that a lot. People killing in the name of Satan and honestly, that doesn’t sit very well with me. Before you start pointing fingers and judging, no I’m not a ‘devil worshiper  or Satanist, but in that particular belief system, what they practice makes sense. Coincidentally the same year I learned about the Theory of Evolution, there was this 2 hour-long show on the History Channel about Hell and how such a place came to be. Somewhat towards the end, the Church of Satan was mentioned, explaining how it became to be and what it stood for.

The things that I found actually very interesting during the program is Satanism’s take on dealing with frustrations and individualism. Instead of keeping all your frustrations bottled up inside, waiting to explode, you go into a room and yell. Scream out your frustrations and once you do that, everything obviously isn’t guaranteed to be better, but you feel relieved, far less frustrated. I mean, seriously, that makes a lot of sense. I think that if everyone in the world yelled out their frustrations in a room somewhere every once in a while, this world would be different. Not completely changed mind you, but maybe a lot less chaotic. The other concept that I agree with is that of individualism. Being an individual is always something I continually strive for. I hated going with the crowd and what not. I tried it once, and it didn’t work for me. I was surrounding by people who I shared no common interests with, people I actually talked to and such. Now that I think of it, I’m not entirely sure as to why I interacted with those individuals in the first place. I was probably trying to be nice or something. I’m not sure the same thing can be said now. There isn’t that much individuality left in the world, but it always makes sense to be yourself and know who you are. Let’s face it, if you don’t know who you are as a person, it’s far too easy for other people to take advantage of you and what not. It’s really just common sense. I’m not saying I would make Satanism my religion, I’m not saying I wouldn’t. I’m honestly not too sure if I would claim any religion as ‘my religion’. Bottom line, the basic fundamentals and beliefs of Satanism do make sense. Embrace the person you are and be an individual. Know what you stand for. Pretty simple.

While the first episode in the hour of American Occult told of murder in the name of Satan, the second episode caught me by surprise. The second episode began to tell the tale of a man in Ohio who formed a congregation of sorts, and ended in the murder of an entire family…You’re probably thinking that it was like the story that was told before, but that is not the case. The conclusion is a little more shocking…The man killed in the name of God. Yes, you read correctly. The whole ‘killing in the name of the Devil’ assumption is stereotypical, and now that I know more about the religion that most people wouldn’t dare to look into, I find that very assumption offensive. It’s a rarity to hear that someone kills in the name of God or so it’s thought to be a rarity. People have been killing in the name of God and/or religion for centuries. When it all comes down to it, that’s usually what disagreements stem from. Religion or differences between individuals. Murder isn’t a good thing to do in any religion and isn’t good period. It doesn’t matter what religion or congregation you’re a part of. It’s just pure common sense that something like murder is wrong.

Why do people feel the need to have the promise of Heaven or the fear of a Hell to determine how they live their lives? Such beliefs shouldn’t indicate how you live your life. Again, its common sense that such acts are bad. It isn’t rocket science. It really isn’t. As I watched the episode, I honestly couldn’t believe it. If something like that doesn’t make you question your religion, then I don’t know what will. Furthermore, I couldn’t believe how incredibly ignorant the man’s followers were. I mean, seriously? Someone crosses you on the street and says that they’ve spoken to God or they’re the son of God, and you don’t even think twice? Are some people who devoted and brainwashed in a sense, that they cannot distinguish a truth from a lie? Seriously? I’m not saying religion is bad, or that I’m against people who are religious. Definitely not. Religion is something you believe in, one of a person’s many convictions, and I don’t look down on someone because of their religion. I respect people for who they are and what they have to say, regardless of whether or not I agree with them. That’s just the type of person I am. I don’t try to act like I’m better than anyone else because I’m not. While religion is something you believe in, it is not necessarily a freedom. A freedom is something that is well, free, a luxury of sorts one might say. A freedom should be something that is without criticism or bias and religion, in that respect to what a freedom should be, surely isn’t a freedom when a different religion or rather lack there of, is chastised so to speak for being so.

I know that there are some individuals that would say I’m crazy for questioning and denying the existence of a God, that I’m only going to burn for all eternity in Hell because I’m a non-believer. That what I think is wrong and I need to be ‘saved’ now while there’s still some kind of hope left. How would those said individuals know that I’m going to burn when they don’t know what is on the other side of the great divider known as death? No one knows what is on the other side, so to speak. No one knows what happens when you die. Sure, people have been saying for centuries that there is indeed a Kingdom of Heaven for those who follow God’s path, and an eternity in Hell for those who do not, but there’s no real evidence supporting those ideas. I remember a month or so after my friend’s demise, (he decided to leave the week before our Junior year started) my English class was reading Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God by Jonathan Edwards. If you aren’t familiar, it is a sermon written to persuade churchgoers to stay on the path to the Lord. It spoke of fire, flames and the Devil. Basically, what will happen to you if you didn’t stay on the said path or aren’t currently on it at all. When all is said and done, how in the world did he know such things? How did he know of this place called Hell? Sure, he probably knew most of what he knew from the Bible, but there’s isn’t actual evidence supporting the Hell he spoke of. He had never been to such place. Therefore, he couldn’t really know what the fiery place known as Hell even looked like or held in store for the ones that would inhabit it…

I’m going a little off subject here, and I do apologize, but recently I’ve learned that you don’t really know how something is until you’ve actually experienced been through it yourself first hand. You don’t know how someone else’s life is just because they tell you. You haven’t truly lived it. You don’t know how an addiction, any addiction, is until you’ve actually lived through it. Just because you see how something is on TV or the Internet, that doesn’t mean that you automatically know how said scenario is. As I just stated, you don’t know how something is until you’ve experienced it.

The same way of thinking goes for the belief of an afterlife. It’s been said that when you’re dying or close to death, you see this great white light and you are supposed to be taken into the loving arms of God. How could someone know this if they’ve never been dying or close to death? Yes, there are exceptions because people have been in near-death experiences before, but everyone is different. It isn’t destined that everyone in a near-death experience will see their lives flash before their eyes and a white light. With all honesty accounted for, I was close to death on September 16, 2008 (and a couple of weeks after that), after suffering from the worst asthma attack I’ve ever had and being in the hospital for almost a month. Now, I don’t like to talk about it because I hate to seem like a sympathy hound and it’s the last thing I want, but honestly, I didn’t see any white light…The only things I had seen were the product of a horrible trip, thanks to whatever medicine I was given to keep me under…No act of God saved me. Sure, there were people praying for me, but it wasn’t God or their prayers that saved me. Modern medicine did. Just like how I’m in better health now. God didn’t just magically tell my intestines to stop hurting for a while. It was the new medicine I’ve been taking for the last two months.

…If you haven’t truly been in the same position as another individual, then you have no reason to assume how it is for them or put your two cents in. Sure, opinions and such are perfectly fine, but seriously? Don’t assume you know someone just by the way they talk or the things they believe in. Assuming doesn’t benefit anyone. Really, it doesn’t. The person who assumes just looks like an idiot for going on pure assumption alone, when finding out about said situation would’ve made a lot more sense.

When it comes to the concept of religion, it seem like more times than not, people assume without hearing the other side. Going back to Satanism, people would automatically assume that just because there’s ‘Satan’ in the title, it’s something blasphemous and horrible. If they took the time out of their day to do a little research, they would know that they’re gravely mistaken. Another thing that is often assumed to be a downfall according to religious folk, is what people do behind closed doors. Recently, my eyes have been really opened to this fact and like the assumptions with Satanism, I find it very offensive. The fact I’m talking about is the sexual orientation of individuals and how it supposedly plays a huge part in where they’ll reside when they die.

I remember a couple of months ago, there was a story about some church in my home state that claimed it could ‘pray the gay away’, ultimately converting a homosexual individual into a heterosexual. I guess a little prayer and hopes of changing someone is something that actually works, right? Wrong. You can’t just change someone like that, or shouldn’t change someone at all for that matter. Just because an individual’s lifestyle is the complete opposite of your own, doesn’t give you the right you condemn them. Just because an individual is in love with the same-sex, doesn’t give you the right to try to change them because you’re most certain they’re going to Hell. How do you know that you’re not going to burn in your own manufactured version of Hell for condemning another to such a place?

While I don’t believe in much, I do believe in Karma. Yes, condemn all you want, but it’s the truth. What you do indeed does have a way of catching up with you, and hitting you tens times as hard, depending on how much of an asshole you were. I’ll be honest, I have absolutely nothing against homosexuals, just the people who think it’s okay to badmouth them. It really bothers me when they’re judged for their sexual orientation and their sexual orientation alone. It’s like those individuals are automatically judged and not given the light of day by some for the simple fact that they’re different. Some people just judge people without the giving the slightest amount of thought to how it will affect the ones they’re criticizing. I myself know people who are gay, and they’re the nicest people in the world. Who are you to say that homosexuals are ‘damned and unclean’ when you’re just basing your statements on assumptions? Seriously? Just leave people alone, and let them live their lives. No one tells you how to live your lives, don’t tell others how they should live theirs.

Like I said early on, I’m not trying to offend or change anyone’s view. Just merely explaining myself because I felt that it was time to. I decided to write about religion because I’d written a previous post without explaining first what lead me to believe so, and because it was fitting to the article I’d read by Mr. Francis. Pure and simple. While I don’t believe what the Bible says anymore, there are good morals in the stories. Be kind to thy neighbor, do not steal, basic things that children are taught early on, but you shouldn’t need stories written some 2,000 odd years ago to reinforce the fact that you should be a good person. You shouldn’t need the promise of Heaven or fear of Hell to help you determine your actions in life. It’s just pure common sense, what’s right is right and what’s wrong is wrong.

As I’ve said, I’m not trying to change anyone’s views, just let people know where I’m coming from as a person. I don’t need to have a belief in God to be a good person. I believe that there are good people in the world, whether they’re easy to find or not. I don’t need to believe in God. All I need to believe in is myself and the things around me, despite the fact that it’s not always the easiest thing to do. I don’t care if I’m categorized as an atheist because technically that’s what I am. I don’t need to believe in something higher in myself. We’re all just people living in this world, filled with swirling vortexes of change and excitement, just trying to survive. Everyone’s just surviving the best they can. I’m surviving the best I can.

Don’t say how someone should survive when you’re barely holding on.

Oh, That Shining Realization 

A couple of months ago, well sometime last year (if you want to be critically technical and correct) I wrote about how there was the unbreakable camaraderie that my friends and I shared some long time ago. I now realize that maybe it’s better that bond decided to break.

I honestly think that if I was still friends with the majority of the individuals I was some now 6 or 7 years ago, I would amount to nothing. Yeah, that sounds a bit harsh but, that’s just the way I see it. I think that if we’d all kept in touch, it would either be the greatest thing in the world or the greatest personal tragedy. As much as I used to love them all, I think it would have been a complete downfall.

You’re probably wondering why I’m talking about people I used to love so dear and care about almost with my life so bitterly, and I have the perfect answer. I’ve seen the kind of people they’ve become. I know they say everyone changes and indeed everyone does, but it seems to be so different now. Looking back at who we all used to, and who we are now, it’s safe to say that I’m relieved to know that we’ve lost our hold on each other. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.

I think I’ve finally come to the conclusion that I don’t need them. I don’t need certain people around me just to get through my every day, just to breathe. Sure, there are sometimes when it could hurt, the fact that they’re not here mainly, or where I miss them, but I then I wonder…Do they feel the same? If I had to take a good, educated guess, I would have to say no. I often wonder what it would be like, if we all remained friends, if nothing changed at all, but then I realize that I don’t think I would have it any other way.

It’s better that they’re not in my life anymore. It’s better that they’re just fleeting memories. It’s not like we would talk like we did back then, when things seemed endless, almost untouchable. Some 2 years ago, when we were in a sense ‘reunited’, there was this feeling of emptiness in the worse kind of way between us all. Granted, the circumstances weren’t exactly pleasing, but still. It was the greatest shock of my natural life so far that day, to be struck with the news that impaired me to feel and to be among the ones I once felt about so dear.

After all the useless calculating and grinding of memories and thoughts in my head, it all comes down to the one solid fact: I’m so glad I don’t associate with the people I used to. I think that if I did, then I wouldn’t be the type of person I am today. I think I would more than likely become the type of person I don’t really like, someone who I honestly couldn’t see myself being. For what might be better and at the same time possibly worse, I’m who I am and no so-called friend can change any of that. I’m just happy I realized that before I started to actually care too much.

Oh, that shining realization…Better late then never.

Newsflash From “Heaven”: I’ve Descended Into “Hell”

There’s something that makes every one of us on this Earth question things that we don’t understand, can’t understand or just simply refuse to…Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think that it’s safe to say that the concept of religion has always been something that’s second-guessed or questioned.

And if I question that, then what kind of person does that make me?

I honestly never used to question religion. It just wasn’t something that was questioned. You just go with it, and think that it’s something you personally believe. After awhile, it’s all you’re willing to believe. No one can change your mind; your heart is set on that way of life. It can turn you into something you’re truly not, while on the other hand can bring a whole new perspective on things. Which ever you may choose, there’s always questions that will arise that are going to make some wonder and others won’t even pay attention to.

I first started to question religion, being the foundation for my day-in, day-out education at school. I’d been at a Catholic school from Kindergarten to the first half of the 6th grade, and being at a Catholic school, I’d have to go to church every Friday with the rest of my class. There wasn’t an option of not going, and I honestly didn’t mind. We would be rewarded if we were good, anyway. I remember in Kindergarten, I literally thought the priest at my school’s church was a cannibal. I literally thought that when he said the “body and blood”, he really did mean the body and blood of someone. How crazy is that? Really?

What kind of person does that make me?

I began to ask questions about the religion that I’d learned about five days a week and sometimes on Sundays. Whether the questions made sense or not, I have no idea. They probably made absolutely no sense, the reason why no one could give me a straight answer. The questions made all the sense to me though. If Jesus died for everyone’s sins, why do people still sin? I distinctly remember that was one of the questions I’d asked. Yeah, a pretty stupid question. All my teachers probably thought it was, or maybe they thought I was crazy or something. I look back on that now, and think that it was a pretty foolish, but it also makes me realize that any other outrageous question I had would be let right in with all the eagerness, only to be shot down for being utterly stupid.

Now what does all this grade-school reminiscing have to do with my feelings toward religion now? It proves that there are questions that either can’t be answered or are being pushed under the rug. Let’s face it, who wants to believe in something that can’t be answered or proven? I don’t mean to judge anyone here. What the next person believes may not be what I believe, but that doesn’t mean I’m gonna jump down their throats about it. That would just be ignorant, and I absolutely hate ignorance. People are more than entitled to have their own beliefs and opinions, despite what other individuals think or say. I firmly believe in that, and truly have the utmost respect for that fact.

I would be much more comfortable knowing that what I’m believing in is, well, worth believing in. Sometimes, I believed that there possibly could be a God, but there are things that come in the way me truly accepting that fact. There are facts and reasonings that are so hypocritical and no way near logical. Say one thing and it doesn’t add up to what’s being said next…Yeah, that makes a hell of a lot of sense…I myself have a hard time agreeing and believing everything I hear because it all just doesn’t sit right with me as a whole. I suppose somethings could be plausible, but that still leaves others unaccounted for and to me, that isn’t good enough.

What kind of person does that make me?

I’ve been asking that question all though this post…What kind of person does that make me? Honestly, it makes me a goddamn human being. Most would say that questions and questioning isn’t the way to go because it will either get you nowhere or everywhere you don’t want to be, but I don’t find that the case. People don’t know if there is indeed a ‘Heaven’ or ‘Hell’ because no one has ever been there. Some are so fixated on something they’ve been feed throughout the years or what have you, and can’t comprehend that maybe there isn’t anything after you die. Maybe there is just nothingness, a creeping sense of darkness that’s just out of our reach with every passing second. Maybe not. ..Does death scare me? Damn right it does. Do I believe in something after death? I’m not sure. There could be something amazing beyond anything we’ve ever seen above and something else amazing in quite another sense of the word way down below, but who am I to know? Exactly. I have absolutely no idea and I think it’s best that way.

If people really (and I mean really truly) knew what happens when you die, they wouldn’t take any risks. If people knew what happened when you die, they wouldn’t be living. The entire point of living is taking risks and taking whatever comes at you, not matter the speeds or intensities. I think that knowing where you’re going to go when you die, totally dictates one’s risk-taking and therefore the entire concept of Life. Some people live that way already out of faith or whatever you choose, and that is entirely their choice. I have absolutely nothing against people with healthy convictions in what they believe in. I think it’s the best thing in the world, please just don’t try to press it on me. While some completely discreet and totally polite about brandishing their beliefs, not pressuring others at all, there are other people that think they know everything that the afterlife has to offer (or religion in general for that matter), down to every detail and I personally don’t believe any of it. Yeah, that probably sounds pretty bad, but notice the things I’ve said so far. My brutal, honest opinion.

I honestly don’t believe what people have to say about what it will be like when you die because they don’t know, they’ve never been there. No one knows, no ones ever been there. Unless of course with the exception of a near-death experience, that’s the closest thing to the afterlife you can get without feeling death unfortunately pull you out of this natural life permanently. Other than that exception, I don’t believe.

I love how the subject goes from the disbelief concerning religion to the disbelief an afterlife. They’re two different subjects that sometimes (maybe more often than none) become intertwined and discussed on the same playing field. I suppose that this is no exception to the conversations on the subjects that came before it. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. I honestly don’t know.

When all is said and done, I just don’t believe…Yeah, it might sound like I’m just another teenager (technically I’m not really a teenager anymore, but whatever) who listens to death metal and is ‘brainwashed’ by the ‘Satanic’ lyrics, but I’m here to clarify. While I do listen to my fair shares of black/death/heavy metal, my musical preferences in no way impact my views on religion or the afterlife, as which was mentioned earlier…Or rather there isn’t anything good enough for me to believe in. That probably sounds pretty arrogant and whether arrogance plays a part at all or not, it’s true. I don’t think it’s that there’s nothing good enough for me to believe but actually nothing I feel comfortable really believing in. Hopefully there will come a time when I find something that I indeed feel comfortable enough with to believe in without questioning or second-guessing. Until then, only time will tell.

So I ask you now, as I’ve been asking throughout this entire post…

What kind of person does that make me?

Newsflash from “Heaven”: I’ve surely descended into “Hell”.

All This Talk 

Last year as a junior, I remember overhearing all this talk about college, the future and what a headache it was. It’s all too safe to say that I now know what everyone was talking about.

It seems like right when you have all your plans neat and in a row, something comes along and ruins them. I’m not saying that that’s bound to happen, but it’s something that generally does. Don’t ask me why. I didn’t make the rules. I can say that my plans for the future and college have changed dramatically since last year, though. I thought that I’d had everything figured out last year, I thought I knew exactly what I wanted to do. Turns out I was wrong.

People change their minds a million and one times before they finally know what they want, or they know exactly what they want and go for it. I think that no matter what type of person you are, there is no true way of denying that your future isn’t set in stone. Things change for better or for worse and it seems like a lot of people think that they can work their way around that, the ever-changing events of this thing called Life. Just because they know what they want to do and know how to accomplish the said goal, nothing will happen to them. They’re invincible…It probably sounds like I’m being an outrageously morbid dream-killer, but whatever. I’m just clearly saying that things change all the time and some people don’t think that it will ever apply to them.

I’m just now starting to realize, with less than a month left of school, that I’m overwhelmed for the first time in my life. Yeah, it might sound like I’m exaggerating, and believe what you want, but it’s the truth. All this talk of college and plans for the future, and everything else going on, it’s not hard to be swallowed up by the ever-growing multitude of things to come. Luckily, I know exactly what I want. It’s just a matter of accomplishing it. I’m overwhelmed but not so to the point that I don’t know what I want.

My freshmen year, I never would’ve thought I’d be making journalism my college major…Yes, you heard right…I’m majoring in journalism. Is that such a crime? I didn’t think so. I remember freshmen year I was so caught up in the new experiences of high school that I had no idea what I wanted to do years down the road. I’d thought about maybe going into graphic design or something because my other passion (that I often put on the back-burner) is drawing. Art. I love it and everything it entails. I’m good at drawing, but I think I’m even better at writing. Sure, writing might not be as lucrative and in-demand as graphic design is at the moment, but I don’t care. You should be able to do something you love because you love it, not just because it pays the rent. My major is journalism and that is that.

Instead of starting classes in the Fall like any normal person would, I’ve decided to start my classes either in the Spring or next Fall. Everyone is different when it comes to well, just about everything, and my decision is no different. At first, I thought I HAD to go to school in the Fall. I thought it was something that just HAD to be done. I wasn’t even thinking that I had the choice to take time off from school. It wasn’t something that was going through my mind at the time. I was stressing about starting classes in the Fall, and I had absolutely no reason to because I didn’t have to start in the Fall. I’m so totally not starting in the Fall. I mean the last year of high school is stressful enough, why make it even more stressful by having to go through more school less than 4 months after you graduate? It might sound like I’m a total loser, not going to college right after I graduate, but I don’t see it that way. I want to be somewhat established in one way or another before I go off to college. It’s better to have a general idea of what you’re going to do, then storm through it all, guns blazing. Or at least that’s how I see it. The whole-guns-blazing-thing is only good for somethings, not all, and I don’t think college plans qualify as one of those things.

Right now, at this very moment in time, I’m happy to say that everything is planned out for the most part. Yes, like I said, things are bound to change whenever, but for right now, it’s safe to say that everything is good. School is over in less than a month, and while it would usually seem hectic and overwhelming (as I just stated a million times over above), that’s all a part of the ride. Prom is in a than a month, too and that’s something I’m actually looking forward to. Whether I happen to have a date or not, I’m going. I have the cutest dress (a dress I’ve had for a couple years now, actually) and I know exactly how I want to look.

All this talk is just that…Talk. It means nothing unless you actually go through with it, and all this talk is finally starting to turn into something. It’s more than safe to say that I have nothing to stress about anymore. I’m ready for whatever life has to throw at me, yet again.

Life is overwhelming and I’m just starting to realize that. Look ahead and hold on tight. It only gets more intense.

The Nerve/The Legend

Something just came to my attention. Well, a while ago actually…I’m not sure if it matters or if it’s that big of a deal, but I think it proves a fact. People will gravitate to someone after something very tragic happens. It’s almost like no one pays that much attention to that person, and then when something unexpected happens, they flock to the scene. It seems like that’s sort of what happened with late actor Heath Ledger. My friend brought it up, and it had me thinking a bit.

You’re probably asking how I came to this realization…I saw the movie Lords of Dogtown for the first time, and my friend brought it up before the movie started.

As bad as it might sound, it is true. After people learned that Heath Ledger had passed, it seemed like all of a sudden people were huge fans of him. It seemed like everyone immediately recognized him as the Joker in The Dark Knight, completely forgetting about the movies he’d played in before, probably because they didn’t know the movies he’d played in prior to The Dark Knight. Focus only on a movie everyone knows, instead of the ones that got him the start to be able to play in his most well-known picture. That’s original.

With all honesty involved here, I first fell in love with Heath Ledger as an actor when I saw 10 Things I Hate About You. I didn’t know that it was a modern adaptation of The Taming Of The Shrew until I’d seen it a couple times and found out from my sister, but that didn’t really make a difference. He played the character of Patrick Verona perfectly, and I don’t think the movie would’ve been the same without him as the rebel who ends up having a little of a soft side.

The next movie I’d seen Ledger in was The Patriot, as a part of a school project in the 8th grade. I’m pretty sure I’d missed the beginning of the movie because I wasn’t in school when it started, but I’d seen the rest of it. His role as Gabriel Martin, a patriot’s son, is a far-cry from that of Verona in 10 Things but that’s the entire idea of acting. I distinctly remember that some of the girls sitting in front of me thought that he wasn’t bad-looking, which honestly, he wasn’t. They thought this for most of the movie until…They found out that he was one of the main characters in the controversial, award-winning film Brokeback Mountain. I can’t say that I wasn’t shocked upon learning that Heath Ledger was to play opposite of Jake Gyllenhaal in the particular role he was in, but I didn’t lose any respect for him. Yeah, I was pretty surprised and what have you, but whether you’re in a provocative role or not, something new to you or not, it doesn’t change you as a person. You’re still the same person once you leave the set of whatever movie you’re shooting or whatever it is you’re doing. Some people, I think, don’t understand that.

Another Ledger film, that I still haven’t seen all of, is Candy, filmed in his native of Australia. From what I saw of it, the movie isn’t hard to follow, but is very raw and real. The story of Candy revolves around the complicated and deadly love between artist Candy and poet Dan. Their love that was once strong and stable, gives way to Dan’s heroin addiction and swirls into something they never saw coming. Like any movie that focuses on more of the real world than some are willing to accept, it really makes you think about how some people live their lives and what happens when some kind of dependency ruins a part of them or in the process, destroys someone else. The other film I still haven’t managed to watch all of is A Knight’s Tale. I swear, it’s been on a million times and I’ve never seen the whole thing. A Knight’s Tale, inspired by The Canterbury Tales, came out after 10 Things and seems to be one of the movies other than The Dark Knight that people seem to recognize him in. Don’t get me wrong, The Dark Knight displays one of Ledger’s best performances via the Oscar that he won, but there was more that led up to that point. While Candy shows real life in a present-day, on the receiving end of an addict in love with the two very different things in his life, A Knight’s Tale shows real life in a completely different time, on the receiving end of a squire who fills his dead master’s shoes, literally, with his jousting talents.

The last movie I saw Heath Ledger in was, as with almost everyone in the entire world, The Dark Knight. Before I’d seen the movie, I heard a lot about how the classic villain wasn’t the same criminal that was portrayed by Jack Nicholson or that of Cesar Romero before him. Every actor has their own way of portraying characters and Ledger’s rendering was no exception. While Nicholson and Romero’s interpretations of The Joker seemed clean and well-kept (for a criminal) as far as make-up and clothing go, Ledger’s version was more gritty and rough, via the smudged make-up and cleverly stylish mismatched clothes. Out of all three actors’ perspectives on the classic character and his deranged nature, it seems like Ledger’s interpretation was unexpected. The very core of his character bleeds with the corruption and insanity of a society driven under, something that previous outlooks didn’t display in such the manner that you get chills down your spine.

Most people are quick to believe that The Dark Knight is the Australian actor’s last movie before his untimely passing…and they’re right for the most part. The fantasy film, The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus, would have been Ledger’s final finished movie, but everything doesn’t always work out how it should…Oddly enough, the movie still manages to work out. The main character, Tony, is able to go travel through this imaginarium (via the title) and as he travels, his image changes. Upon Ledger’s untimely departure, the role of Tony was taken by Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farrell, working out perfectly since Tony’s character looks different every time he goes through the imaginarium. Even though the film didn’t finish with Ledger fully present, I would still like to see it for myself and see how good it is.

The whole time I watched Lords of Dogtown, I wasn’t thinking about the comment my friend made beforehand, but how I would’ve like to live in California in the 1970’s. I could honestly picture summer, the sun all around, watching people skateboard in empty swimming pools, so care-free without a worry in sight. Aside from the fact I was thinking about summer in California, I felt pretty educated because I honestly never knew where the sport/culture of skateboarding started. I had really never thought about it, and after the movie ended, I still felt proud that I knew how it all started. It’s pretty amazing how something so simple as a way to kill time could be the next big sport. I was also amazed to know that the movie was written by Stacy Peralta…The Stacy Peralta. One of the three individuals that started the skateboarding movement and went on to become a legend. That definitely made me smile. Just learning and knowing how the legends actually became legends, it was 100% worth it.

Seeing Dogtown was (as I just said) definitely worth it. Not only did it feature the beloved and missed Heath Ledger, but it also showcased the origin of how skateboarding started and how the legends came to be. That’s the beauty about movies sometimes, you learn little (or big) facts that you never knew before. May Mr. Ledger rest in peace and the heart & soul of skateboarding live on.

Life is a joyride of non-stop ups and downs. Live every day and regret nothing.

Procrastination At Its Finest?

Procrastination. It’s completely normal. Almost like human nature. Almost, not quite yet. People become preoccupied with a hundred different things at once or something called laziness takes over and what needs to get done won’t be finished ’til the last-minute. Sadly, I have succumb to dreaded procrastination more than once, but for some reason I think that streak of surrendering is somehow coming to an end.

I’ll be completely honest: I’m not a big fan of research papers. The first research paper I had to do was last school year, and it wasn’t that fun. Being a new school year now, I have to do another required paper. Thankfully, this paper is easier and not due at the end of the year, as with the latter. There is a topic, not a thesis. An author, not an issue that we agree or disagree with.

Needless to say, this year’s research paper is on an author of our choosing or one that we were reading. Chosen by the student, nonetheless. It seemed like most people picked the first author that came to their head, like they didn’t really think about. Their brains just said ‘write down this name and pass the paper to the next person.’ I had no idea what author I would do a paper on. I had about five lined up, with obviously one being the victor. Unsure which author should be cut from my list, I chose two. Yeah, that probably sounds like a hassle or that I’m being a ‘teacher’s pet’ or something, but that’s not it at all. I thought the only way to get some kind of point across would be to do two papers on two completely different authors.

I have to admit, I was kind of surprised by the reactions I got when I was asked by fellow students what author I was doing my paper on. It’s not like the answer was different each time, it was the same every time. Dante Alighieri and Hunter S. Thompson. I got this bleak, almost dumbfounded look each and every time. Granted, I didn’t fully know about Dante until I saw something on the History Channel. I knew that he wrote Inferno, but didn’t know THAT much about him. As with Thompson, I didn’t know he wrote Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas until I saw the movie starring the beloved Johnny Depp. I did a little research after seeing the movie, thus finding even more about him. So, I guess I can’t really say that I’m surprised, but it sort of just shows that either I read too much or other people don’t read at all.

If anything really surprised me, though, it would have to be the fact that I’ve already gotten the majority of the information on my idols. Which isn’t something I usually do. For my previous research paper, I procrastinated and I felt like it wasn’t the best I could write, or write and research. I just flat-out wasn’t very happy with it, and I actually want to be happy with the things I write. Whether it be recreational creativity or not. The entire reason why I’m starting this paper a month early. Call it me breaking the curse of procrastination or not, but my motivation is probably at its best right now. I can’t say the same thing for volleyball, though. My motivation for that is still up in the air.

My motivation for writing definitely doesn’t lack foundation and the breakdown.

Tear It Right Out Of Your Chest

I’m beginning to think that either there’s something wrong with other people, or there’s something wrong with me. I know I’ve already established how people can be today, but for some unknown reason, this has me thinking, and asking:

Does the music I listen to suck, or are people just ignorant?…

I’ve been reading music reviews lately on iTunes, which is very rare for me. I hardly ever read reviews because I don’t usually think twice about reading what other people have to say about music. Like I’ve said before, I listen to the kind of music I want to, and don’t pay attention to what other people think about what I listen to. For some reason, I’m partially drawn to the bottom of the screen, below the tracks and recommended albums, where the criticizing reviews ominously rest.

Don’t ask me why I started reading reviews because I don’t know why. It first started when I pulled up Aiden’s Knives. My eyes instantly seemed to travel to the bottom of the page, to what people had written. All of them were pretty mixed. Some saying it was a great CD, others saying it was horrible. More people seemed to choose the latter compared to good. In my honest opinion, it is a short CD, but it’s not bad. There are some songs I can do without, but the ones I can’t do without are really good. The release of the album didn’t weaken my liking for the band. I’m still a fan. Sure,  Knives  is different from their past three releases, but it proves that sound doesn’t really matter. It’s still Aiden. That sort of made me think a little bit, then I remembered that everyone has their own opinion and are totally entitled to it.

The next attraction at the iTunes amusement park that I visited just last month was AFI’s newest release, Crash Love. I saw it on iTunes the day it came out and wanted to see what other people were saying about it. I’d heard a lot of mixed reviews about it. Even though I’d already listened to the whole album, I still had the awkward desire to see what other people had thought about it. My eyes again, trailed down to where the reviews were. The reviews, just like with Knives, were mixed. This surprised me. Crash Love  was anticipated for a while, and I didn’t think it would get the reviews it did. Granted, just because something is greatly anticipated doesn’t mean everyone will find it good. Some said it was good, great even, while others didn’t like it, and were begging for the “old” AFI to come back. I guess this is how some people react to change: They either love it or hate it. I personally think Crash Love is pretty good, different from anything they’ve ever done, but still good. It’s still AFI.

I think this is what truly got me thinking and asking. The last attraction at the iTunes amusement park that really, really surprised me, was Lady GaGa’s The Fame. Once again with my brutal honesty, I’m a new fan to Lady GaGa. I’d first seen the video for “Poker Face”, and didn’t watch the whole thing, but then I fell in love when I saw “Just Dance”. I didn’t think I’d like an artist that was so different from what I usually listened to. It’s just feel-good music. Like the two times before, I found myself overly curious to what other people had to say. Let the mixed reviews pour down like the hardest rain. Like the Crash Love and Knives reviews before it, there were a lot of positive reviews, but at the same time, there were an equal number of not-so-positive ones. It seemed to me like most of them were trying to compare her to other musicians before her, which sort of annoyed me, but that’s always bound to happen. People compare bands/musicians to others all the time, and like I said before, everyone’s entitled to their own opinion. Whether I happen to agree or not.  Needless to say, none of these reviews changed the way I felt about this newly found, infectious music. I’m still a newly born Lady GaGa fan.

Right at that moment, I was asking myself, Does the music I listen to suck, or are people just stupid? Like I’ve said probably a million times over, opinions don’t sway me, especially when it comes to music. I’m just not moved by what people have to say, but reading these reviews on three artists that I listen to, kind of had me thinking…And I finally came up with a pretty obvious, maybe way too obvious answer: The music I listen to doesn’t suck. Sometimes people can say things that lack common sense, but they’re more than welcome to state their opinions because they have every right to. Plain and simple. I had the thought in my head without really knowing why I was thinking it. I’d already had the answer. It just needed to be confirmed. I think it’s better when thoughts aren’t over analyzed.

Tear it right out of your chest. To be loved. To be criticized. Take a bow.