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  • “I’ve seen all good people turn their heads each day, so satisfied, I’m on my way”

    Jon Anderson, Yes – “I’ve Seen All Good People”

    “I set out runnin’ but I’ll take my time
    A friend of the devil is a friend of mine”

    Robert Hunter, Grateful Dead’s “Friend of the Devil”

    “It is done - so, now he must borrow
    The life of his brothers
    And living in sorrow
    Must do for the others”

    Stephen Stills, “For the Others”

    So, what is it with this whole “darkness vs. light” business, anyway? I’m not necessarily talking literally here – although here in the U.S., we turned our clocks back an hour on Saturday night, so we have the darkness setting in an hour earlier at the end of the day, now, and it will steadily progress as we move towards winter, to the “shortest day of the year”, December 21st. It seems that much of the rest of the world did the same thing a week sooner. We tried to cheat and squeeze an extra week of daylight out of the deal. Hey, why not?

    This does coincide with us spending more time inside, more time to face ourselves, and let’s face it – we all have a dark side, to go along with our striving for the light. That’s more what I’m talking about. The darkness and the light, within. Godliness vs. the devil inside. Good vs. Evil. The struggle that some seem to engage in, and others never seem to even worry about. This used to really bother me.

    I used to run from my dark side. That is what so much of my “quest” in my early years, right up to about age 29, was all about. Running from the darkness, running to daylight. I gave it my best shot. It was a constant struggle, because I felt like I had a particularly cunning and baffling devil lurking deep down inside, one who always seemed to set me up just to knock me down. There would be sublime moments when I thought I had finally “arrived”, had finally beaten the devil and fully embraced the light, heavenly moments of bliss, only to be tripped up and fooled back into the darkness, frustrated and defeated once again.
  • One of the amazing revelations, when I finally stopped running, finally stopped trying to win the unwinnable fight, was when I realized – it’s all a part of who I am. Like it or not, I would never be Saint Pete, never be this holy dude who was all good, all the time, all things to all people. I really don’t know where that came from, that desire to be that person, but it rain deep and it drove me hard. Maybe being raised Catholic by a father who spent six years as a Christian Brother before he decided a lifetime of that was not his bag, and traded that in for a wife and seven kids, had something to do with it? One of my older brothers apparently had a similar “calling” – he actually wanted to be a priest, right up until he went off to college, and ironically, Dad wouldn’t sign the papers to allow him to go off to seminary. He was mad at Dad for a long time about that.

    I never went that far – I liked girls too much to ever consider such a calling, but I did have this driving desire to be “good”, and it was tied, somewhat, to my father – I wanted him to approve and acknowledge my “goodness”. That, too, never seemed to be possible. Up until my mid-20’s, all I ever really got from him was that I was shit, and never would be good enough. Good enough for what, I really had no idea, but I just never felt like I would measure up, in his eyes, to whatever it was that I I thought I was supposed to be. None of this really had anything at all to do with Dad, mind you. It wasn’t him –it was me. It was all in my own mind. But, it was there… and there, it was real. I had to live with it, everyday, this struggle between good and bad, light and dark, God and the devil. Christ, no wonder I was so screwed up all that time! I was what they termed as a real “head-case”.

    The miracle of recovery, for me, the moment that I began a lifetime process of growing comfortable in my own skin, and realized that life might actually be worth living, was when I first fully understood that all of this struggle, this thing that I was running from, this thing that had driven me from my earliest memory, was all a part of me, was who I am. I just had to accept it, and let it be – let it be me. I was never going to be that saint, the perfect person, that holy of holies, always walking in the light, being everything to everybody, meeting all others’ expectations of me. I could just be me, and as I learned to accept all aspects of what that meant, I lost a lot of my condemning self-judgements. Funny thing how that worked – I also stopped being so damned judgemental about others, as well. The more I accepted myself, the more I learned to accept others, for who and what they were.
  • It’s all a part of the human condition. There is no good or bad, no dark side to run from. The darkness turned out to be those things, those aspects of myself that I just couldn’t accept were really a part of me. They were too terrible, too “dark”. I didn’t want to admit that they, too, were a part of me. But, once I accepted them, and realized that it was o.k. to have those thoughts and those feelings, the fight was over - the war was finally won. I lost. I surrendered. I unfurled the white flag. And, in losing the fight, I gained life. I won the war. I became human. No better than the next person – and no worse, either.

    The minute I find myself looking at someone else and judging them for some behavior or aspect of their character, I best be looking at myself, because the only reason they’re bothering me is, there is something in them, in me. Some part of myself that I haven’t come to accept yet – why else would it bother me? If it was something that I had been and simply grown out of, I wouldn’t be bothered, I would have compassion. Lacking that, it’s just one more thing that I haven’t come to accept about myself, and so I just need to take a look at it, and be willing to grow, and learn.
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