Tuesday, December 19

Wherever Life Takes You

Part of being willing to write is just being willing to write. Even if maybe it isn't as powerful as it could be.

I saw Wonka tonight with my family. Laughed, cried, grinned, groaned, and ultimately burst into song in the theater. Yeah, I'm that kind of guy. I think movies are meant to be interacted with, just like books and stories and video games and theater performances.

It captured what I want in a movie. Music that makes me want to sing. Characters that are a little bit over the top but happily so. A vivid lack of gore, or profanity, or violence, or sexual innuendo... enough so that it feels good. Wonder. Magic. Happy endings, and a stubborn belief that everything will work out in the end. And if it hasn't worked out, it's not over yet. It gave me the music and showmanship of The Greatest Showman without the politics and the broken promises. The wonder that should have been Wish. And the characterization that made Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and other golden musicals into classics from my childhood watched over and over and over again.

I walked home beaming. Also with my phone playing the soundtrack so I could sing along. Of course.

The only bittersweet is that moments like this make me wish... hope... pine... dream... not really sure about the word... for music in my own life. I love to sing. To perform. Dancing is great too. Acting whatever. But the singing. I don't think that I have any real shot of being famous or anything. My voice isn't that great, and the world is a world of who you know. And, unfortunately, my own personal talents lay in forging and creating new connections, not in reinforcing and leveraging them. I'm stellar when it comes to creativity and connecting with new people. Absolutely abysmal at reliability or maintaining those same connections over time.

Is that a copout? Maybe. It's probably somewhat of an excuse to keep myself from diving into a world that both calls and scares me. The feeling of inadequacy probably insulates me from the unknown. Keeps me safe someplace that I can control, where life makes sense and I know what is happening next, what I'm good at and where I can make a difference. Maybe music could offer more than that. In moments like now, I feel like it could. Like I could be doing more if I sang more. A clarion call that pulls on the inside of my chest. It feels like there's something inside just longing to be.

Years of feeling it, and I've understood portions of what it is and isn't. It isn't a call to be part of the TabCats. It's not a call to sing choral or opera or a similar style. It's something more modern, wholly upbeat, with a message, a purpose, and vocals powerful enough to sing along.

I... don't even know where to start though. I had some of that when I was in Grace - the a cappella group I ran during grad school - and have had glimpses of it during moments of life. But apart from moving to New York City, or Hollywood, and trying out for... who knows what... or trying to apply to a music program somewhere (and I don't know which ones take people as old as me or who already have degrees), I don't even have a clue on where to begin.

Maybe I'll ask for that for Christmas. Or my birthday. Help coming up with ideas on how to incorporate more singing into my life. And I'll ask in my prayers and look for opportunities as they come along.

Either way it's been a really good day.

Sunday, December 17

Remembered resolutions. And peace.

Sometimes I forget why I began writing here at (G)MG.

I get caught up in feeling like I have nothing important to share. I find myself lost in the everyday of life. I feel unworthy, immature, unimportant in the grand scheme of things.

Either that, or overly melodramatic. Far too emotional, far too tossed by simple, meaningless things that shouldn't be an issue but somehow are. I have a great family, lots of success, and yet I am absolutely emotionally wrecked by things that seem so... mundane.

I look out at the world and see so many people who are better than I am. More connected, more accomplished, who have worked to create towering structures that seem built to last forever.

And what do I have? A handful of fleeting memories, a resume I can't remember. A handful of sand so fine it pours through my fingertips.

And so I don't write. Because I don't want to waste your time. Because I don't want to waste my time. Because I assume that if you spent it elsewhere, you'd be better off.

And maybe you would be.

But that takes me back to why I started writing here at (G)MG.

It wasn't to write to you. It was to write to me. To write to the person I was in the past. The kid who prayed to die each morning and night because suicide was a sin. The teenager who woke up socially more than a decade late and found himself, albeit surrounded by people, completely and totally alone. The teenager who made a New Year resolution every year to make a single friend that could fill the void inside. The freshman who lost himself in being busy and reaching out to people. The missionary who lost himself in God, but in quiet times still felt isolated and alone. The brooding college student who finally realized his mundane, everyday, seemingly simple dreams of friends and family might not come true. The young man who tried to give himself over to God but found the pain just got worse and worse and worse, as more and more issues cropped up along the pathway to making his dreams come true.

I started writing here at (G)MG because I saw someone else who was going through the same thing I was. Do I judge myself? Yeah. A lot, in fact. But I'd rather hear from myself, see the story, feel the pain, than just have silence. Because at least I'm still there. And writing here is one of the few ways I can keep track of the thoughts I have in life.

I was singing in the choir for the church I attend with my family today. I remembered why I started writing. And I felt prompted to write again.

Maybe that means that some of you won't find as much meaning here. That you'll go elsewhere. 

That's ok. I'm writing to the kid I was before, to the person I am now. If it makes a difference, that's awesome. Hopefully it does.


On a wholly different note, I finally got a diagnosis of one of the issues that makes me feel most isolated. It's not from autism. It's a memory condition called Severely Deficient Autobiographical Memory, and I'm working on a Ted Talk / blog post that encapsulates the concept and its impact on life. Long story short, everyone remembers things for different lengths of time due to natural encoding processes in the brain. There isn't a major issue in that, until the length of time is significantly longer or shorter than the norm. People who remember for significantly longer tend to live emotionally in the past, and spend their lives in fear of bad experiences that leave traumatic scars... because those scars last forever. On the upside, they also can treasure positive memories for close to forever. People who remember much shorter can see the remnants of their memories and connections, feel the loss, and are aware of it. It feels incredibly isolating, as if a portion of their selves is constantly being ripped away. They also struggle to build anything that takes a significant amount of time, as their motivations and goals can change from day to day. On the upside, they are mostly immune to the PTSD and long-term trauma that haunts everyone else. Well, except for the trauma caused by feeling constant isolation.

The condition seems to give insight to almost everything in my life that still seems weird. My patchwork resume or course transcripts that jump fields with no rhyme or reason. My inability to remember and struggle to reach out to people in my past. The absolute, crushing, yet utterly confusing isolation that heightens when I'm surrounded by people who love me. The extreme jealously I have for so many people who seem to connect with others more easily than I do. My desire for connection, and the freedom I have to connect deeply and personally. My ability to be wholly present. The ease with which I walk away from traumatic experiences, and the struggle to hold on to any kind of memory. The struggle to create any kind of habit that doesn't involve changing my environment.

As I do more research and thought, I'm hoping to come up with a framework that I can share with others, and use myself, to better my life and improve my outcomes. Working on it. Slowly.


It's sort of awful that I write most when I'm somber and brooding. Where's the bright, upbeat, everything is awesome part of David's life?

This is mundane. Personal. An issue that is completely inside my head.

I guess part of the reason is that life isn't meant to be awesome. At least not the awesome of everything-is-going-fine-and-it-always-will. The greatest meaning in life is growth, and, for me, growth comes from new and difficult experiences. There is holiness in all things... even overwhelming physical, emotional, social, or any other kind of pain. There's meaning in watching my dreams break, in giving myself over to God, in feeling totally and completely alone. Because each of those can have the power to finally change something deep inside me, bring me closer to God, and make me into a better man than otherwise possible.

I'm made of stubborn stuff. Strong-willed, with a sense that I'm in charge of my own destiny. So it makes sense that the tools God uses to shape my will would need to be just as hard, or even harder.

I do still pine for the things I want most. For the most painful aspects of my life, I find myself grieving, running, or blissfully unaware of the pain. It's ironic that the same condition that rips away my connections can also help me forget they were ever there. Holidays are hard. Comparison is the thief of happiness, and holiday parties, family gatherings, and everything else brings my sandcastle life to the surface. Even worse is that no one seems to understand how much it hurts. Not that I would really want them to, since I don't have a solution yet. I think that one of my therapists, and maybe a couple people in a group therapy thing I did, were able to feel some of it, years ago. The therapist completely broke down and just cried. I had to change therapists. The people in the group became suicidal and hospitalized themselves. The group broke. If being able to empathize with me caused that, I don't really think I want people to understand it / feel it if there isn't also a way for them to make it less somehow. Pain without some type of outlet or way to manage it? That's just... awful. Or life. Maybe that's one of the roles of this - a constant source of emotional / social pain without a solution. Lol.

It's real though. If I combined all the worst frustration and longing that I feel from being gay and not being able to pursue the people I love / my inability to create the family that I wanted most, the frustration of being single in a world that says love is the only way to find happiness and meaning, the cultural feeling of "otherness" that comes from being autistic, and the intense suicidality and depression from being bipolar... all of it together still wouldn't equal the pain of losing my memories and connections and the isolation that causes. 

And if I am experiencing pain like this, pain so bad that I literally found myself wanting to die at my neighborhood Christmas breakfast, then it's possible that there are other people who want to die, especially right now during Christmas, because of the same isolation. People who, like me, don't see any way out.


To you - my younger self or any who feels the same, I want to share something that I have chosen to believe.

Yes, life can be difficult. Painful, isolating, tougher than I could imagine. There may be moments when I just want to give up. Where there is no light at the end of the tunnel, and no hope for tomorrow. There may be no solution to my problems, no one who seems to understand, no way to get away from the pain.

But there is One who does get it. God gets it. And I've chosen to believe that it's in the hardest, most painful and difficult moments of life that He is also most present. When I lose a loved one, or see them wracked with pain, when I feel isolated and misunderstood and life itself has no meaning, when everything I've built crumbles around me and I see no way forward. That is when God is there. When He reaches out His hand and asks me. Not just to follow Him. Not just to keep His commandments. But to trust Him. To believe in Him. To take the sorrow and pain and isolation and loss and everything that is wrong with life and put it on the altar of sacrifice along with the gifts and talents that were already there, believing that He does make it better. That life does have meaning even if I can't see it. That my work makes a difference, and following Him will bring the best outcome out of any other possibility.

I choose to believe in God. To trust Him. To follow Him. And I choose to believe that every aspect of my life is a gift from Him - a stepping stone to greatness, meaning, purpose, and peace that He will help me climb. His shelter is strongest in the storms, and His light shines brightest in the darkness.

During this Christmas season, to all those who mirror me. To those who feel isolated and lost and alone, even or especially surrounded by things that seem to fix it for everyone else: may God be with you. May you come closer to Him, and find some semblance of peace in His love.