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GOING MY OWN WAY ON LIFE'S ROCKY ROAD

It's euphemistic to call the last five or six years of my life interesting. They've been mind-boggling.

During that time I've been treated for depression, told friends and relatives I'm gay, faced financial collapse, seen a psychologist, stopped drinking, been out of work for extended periods and just recently moved from my home to a small apartment. Interesting, yes, the way two hours of root canal work is interesting.

But I consider myself fortunate. I'm gay. So what. Family and friends were not fazed. They left medieval thinking where it belongs, a thousand years in the past. Not everyone finds that sort of acceptance.

And for those of you who want to tell me I'm going to burn in hell, feel free. I've got to do some laundry. Depression, drinking, anxiety and some other personal issues had to be addressed. What was a cause and what was an effect? It doesn't matter.

There are professionals and others who helped. They knew what to do, and their advice was invaluable, "Do this, don't do that, go see this person, talk to these people, and take two of these every day." You'd be surprised what two of those every day can do.

Hurdles still remain. My employment status and financial situation are still not secure. That's a common enough theme in today's economy. However, I won't use the passive apologetic, which often manifests itself in the phrase, "Mistakes were made." That sends responsibility somewhere off into the cosmos. I'm here largely because of mistakes that I have made. Perhaps there also were a few things over which I had no control. Nonetheless, my sense of humor, sometimes paralyzed or obscured, has remained intact. It has often turned disappointment into some hilarious observations.

I've also had some revelations. Secular Humanism and author Joseph Campbell have both helped me find some order amidst the chaos. Healthy skepticism often leads to new answers. Placing trust in myself and others, instead of waiting for some ethereal intervention, has helped at every stage.

Joseph Campbell, who died in 1987, was a comparative mythologist with a stunning intellect who showed how much we all have in common if we only take the time to look.

We are six billion perfect, yet distinct, examples of humankind. And I'm no longer obsessed with the Sword of Damocles. I now identify with the mythical phoenix, which rose from the ashes. I've wallowed in the ashes. I'm now working on the rising part.

I hope some of you benefit from my tale. Physically and emotionally, unchecked rising pressure invariably results in an explosion. It happened to me. Don't let the prejudice of others and your own fear keep you from making the personal changes that you need to make.

I often find myself saying, "What was the big deal?" Others have fared far worse. Many families have sent men and women to fight overseas, only to see them come home for burial.

I can't complain. I can only heed Campbell's advice: "Follow your bliss." I don't know where that will lead. Perhaps telling my story to others is a start.

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