My Summer of 92
Regret, Gratitude, Love, and a Blank TV Screen
I have traversed this country six times, spent three days in jail with a man who had just murdered his wife, lived in my car, been homeless several times, stranded in Europe with no money, drove 200 miles in an alcoholic blackout, planted trees on the side of a remote mountain in Virginia, and skirted death so many times I pinch myself in utter disbelief that I’m still among the living. Among those few life changing events, one would surely think that a single event might have had such an impact on my life to warrant at least two pages. Yet there is one word that dwarfs all experiences in my life – Love.
I’m not referring to my first love, at 16, whilst sitting at a bar in Hagerstown, MD sipping what I thought was Lipton’s Ice Tea (actually Long Island Ice Tea). Nor was it Snikkie the ultra-hot bartender whose ample bosom was straining to be released from her post disco tube top (although if I was to experience love, she would come in a close second). Neither was it that first hit off my uncles bowl of low-grade pot (incidentally, that was within hours of that Long Island Iced Tea).
It wasn’t until nearly ten years later in the summer of ’92 that I discovered Love as I know it today. One day, early that summer, I found myself lounging about in my humble abode of an A. E. Staley corn processing factory home in Decatur, IL staring at the blank screen of my TV. It was a mere 30 days after kicking my then wife out for smoking weed and on that fateful, life-changing day I had this amazing revelation. I said to myself, “What I really need is a good woman.” Little did I know then what ‘good woman’ actually meant; you got it, SEX. Of course I didn’t make the connection of that statement to being horny as I continued my prophesying, “What I really need is a woman who will Love me for who I am, support my feelings and not make fun of them, accept me for exactly who I am, and who will not throw my past up against me.” As quickly as I said that to myself, I answered, “A woman like that does not exist.” Like many things in my life at that time, I had another, in a long string of many, Divine Intervention.
The proverbial 2 X 4 struck me square in the middle of my prominent forehead with a brain shaking thud. I had had numerous ‘spiritual experiences’ up to that point, the least of which was God as I understand Him removing from me the desire to drink one day at a time. Not quite two years sober that summer, I was keenly aware that a force (Higher Power?) was taking shape in my life and many ‘coincidences’ could no longer be labeled as such. After my brain stopped sloshing around my cranial cavity, I came to long enough to receive what I consider a direct communiqué from you know who. God spoke to me that day and said, “No one person is going to provide for you that thing I have in abundance – Love.”
Now, I can hear the Atheists and Agnostics and even the Christians on the right and left – liar, blasphemous, you are nothing but a low grade schizophrenic with mild delusions of Godly voices floating around your chemically imbalanced noggin. Well, I will freely admit to some of the chemical imbalances but I can assure you, my humble reading audience, that the voice I heard that day was indeed that of God as I understand Him. You see, that is key here – AS I UNDERSTAND HIM.
Short of a long dissertation of my non-religious, God as I understand Him belief system, I will attempt to provide a brief snapshot of how I view Love and life in general. I’ve spent years in pursuit of a simplistic understanding of the convoluted mess of the universe and how I relate life in general to Love and vice verse. I believe I can sum up my view of Love and life in a few brief statements:
- I am absolutely, 100% grateful for everything that has happened in my life. All that has happened, good, bad, indifferent, or whatever label I have to put on it – all life events, thoughts, feelings, and the people who have come and gone from my life, absolutely everything has happened for a reason. Since I believe that absolutely everything happens in God’s world happens for a reason, it would be rationale to conclude that, in God’s world – ie. my life – has happened, and continues to happen, for a reason.
- Enter Gratitude and its evil red-headed step sibling – Regret. Some of the more common ‘regret’ words: could have, should have, and would have to name a few. These are commonly used in association with regret. Let’s say I have a ‘bad’ experience and say to all who care to listen (which, by the way, I don’t say these things any longer), “I wish that would not have happened.” Basically what I’m saying (to God) is, “Yo Dude, your plan sucks. I have a much better idea of how that could have happened.” Allow me to clarify. If that one thing had changed as per my (warped) plan, if God had a moment of insanity to believe that I knew what the hell I was doing and allowed me to change whatever it was that I believed was not quite right, He would have had to change the entire universe and life continuum to realign it with my plan. Since every minute particle of life and the universe is affected by the particle next to it, my changing that one event would have undoubtedly changed everything down to the fact that you are reading this very sentence – chances are, you would not – perhaps you would not even exist.
- I believe that Love is the center of God’s universe – like a wheel which has God and His Love at the center and every facet of our existence emanates from that hub – neither can exist without the other (God and Love) nor can we exist without them. Conversely, I believe that God Loves us as He identifies us with Love.
- Here is where it begins to come together: Since absolutely everything in God’s world happens for a reason and God = Love (they co-exist as one), we exist because God and Love do – in essence, we are Love. In addition, it can be deduced that, as my life relates to these points and nothing happens in God’s world (a Loving one) by mistake, Love is Gratitude. Additionally, since I have no regrets in life and I believe that everything happens for a reason (Gratitude), then Gratitude and Regret cannot coexist.
My life changed that summer of ’92 in ways that will affect me, and those around me, for as long as I inhabit this space in time and surely beyond. I Regret nothing, I have Gratitude, and I feel infinite Love from God that fills the finite space of my heart.