The Box I Built … February 9, 2013

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I gave my caretakers, instructors and the adult world nearly two decades to make their imprint on my life, to prove their case. I think that’s pretty generous.

And then I noticed “now abideth faith, hope and love…” I suddenly realized in my late teens that I did not believe in my clan’s faith. It’s not so much that I had doctrinal differences as that I was completely dissatisfied with the absence of a belief system. My parents adhered to God without ever allowing the influence to permeate the corners of their minds. I wanted more than that.

I also did not favor the hopes they had for me. They wanted me to be a slightly updated version of their rendition of the American pursuit. I was not very impressed with the American pursuit. It advertised great promise, with the fulfillment of a dream, but rarely delivered the goods. I went out looking for my own hope.

In our house, I always felt “love” was a word that was set off in an emotional parenthesis–assumed, as it were. I don’t want you to think I’m being critical of their choices. My parents were raised in an era when survival was much more important than hugs. So emotion was basically drained from the experience of affection, and intimacy was only expressed following moments of crisis.

Let me explain.My father passed away when I was seventeen. About three months before his death, realizing that he was terminal with cancer, he came in the room and tried to converse with me, ending our session by reaching over to tickle me. I was seventeen years old–not really “tickleable.” I pushed him away. As I look back on it now, it probably was a point of sadness to him. But the emotion of love does need to be expressed more frequently than when you’re afraid you’re dying.

So I pursued a “reborn” identity. I chose to be born again spiritually–in a way that my family would have considered to be over-wrought and overly involved with the Divine. I rejected working at the local retail store as a means of occupation and pursued the hope of being a writer and performer, even though I was qualified for neither. And with a very limited understanding of human sexuality, I went out to find love, experimenting with the ease and ability of a blind chemist.

It didn’t all go well. But I was satisfied with my choices.

I built a box for myself. It was still a box,. I was inhibited by my childhood fears, restricted by my family’s traditions and intimidated by my own insecurities. But I still stepped out and tried things. I did some things poorly; I did some things well.

But I got away.

It’s one of the first things you learn about Jesus of Nazareth. Had he never left the home fires and the carpenter’s shop, running away from his family (which pursued him to drag him back to his duty) we would have the story of a Galilean carpenter who found a new way to refinish wood, instead of a teacher who changed the world with the Golden Rule.

Unfortunately, many people never escape the box built for them. They live with their “born” identity, making excuses for their lacking while simultaneously being defensive over their choices.

Sooner or later, you have to build a box for yourself. It is the only definition that truly fits the  phrase “right of passage.” You have to find your own faith, you have to chase your own hopes and you have to define “love” for your world.

It is the box I built.

Yet one day I realized … it was still a box.

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

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