Conversation with a Friend

Sometimes the greatest of insights arise at the most unexpected of times. Good conversation can be the perfect lubricant to get ideas flowing and those mental gears turning. With permission, I’ve shared an existential concern of one of my dear friends below. The universe has decided to use my head as a data dump again, so I’ve also shared my thoughts on the matter.

Friend: I don’t know — I just feel like I don’t know what road to take, because all I truly want to be is happy. I know it seems selfish, but I just truly want that. I want to be at peace and happy with everything that I am and everything that surrounds me, and I don’t know how to go about it. I see a few roads to take, but I feel like the road I’m taking will sooner or later kill me. I’ll reach a point of complete burn out, and I don’t want that. I just want to truly rest and find a way to do what I love — to hope that doesn’t take away all of my energy.

Me: The answer that I’ve come to, after all of my soul-searching and pondering, is that there is no right answer. There is no single path that will navigate you around all of the suffering, conflict, and confusion that life has to offer. One has to wonder if it is an almost necessary experience to doubt yourself, burn out, and question if you are doing the right thing. Sooner or later, every life path will kill you.

Look around and tell me if you see a single soul who has reached a state of true peace and happiness. If you say yes, I will tell you to delve deeper — beneath the surface — where you will undoubtedly uncover their very real and present fears and insecurities. We have a habit of portraying our successes without the context of our failures. The two go hand-in-hand.

The best advice I can give is to let go of expectations and any semblance of control you think you have over life. You are too intelligent to believe the lie that is a comprehensible order to the universe for long. It is too vast, varied, and twisted for any one of us to discern a “right” answer. Trying to find definitive clarity amidst the chaos is like trying to catch air with your bare hands. It’s all relative.

The answer is everything; it cannot be distilled into a statement, direction, or philosophy to live by. Simply let go, and allow the tidal forces of energy to carry you toward the nonexistent destination. To be carried without resistance is to live. 🌹

Dark Night of the Soul

What follows is something I should have addressed long ago. A personal foray into the topic of mental illness is something I have refrained from discussing, partly due to my own confusion and uncertainty on the subject. However, I feel as if I have finally reached a point where my thoughts on the matter might do some good to those who are interested. My journey is never ending, and I cannot claim to be a perfect authority. But I hope I can bring some insight and wisdom to the suffering we all endure.

Being one of those unlucky individuals with probable depression, I have often wondered why I have been cursed with such a plight. The unfairness of the world weighs heavy as I contemplate the darkened state of my mind. Why do these successive patterns of negative thinking have no end? Why can I not look upon people and the world with joy and optimism? I feel that looking into my past, and my reactions to past events, is the best place to start this inquiry. There was a time when the child within me reveled in every delight. There was a time when I felt nothing but curiosity and adventure upon thinking about the world. Those bygone times have since faded into obscurity and dull memory. But why?

I can remember the day, after my parent’s divorce, when my mom told me we were moving to Kansas City. I recall the thought of leaving my family and friends behind, of switching schools and starting my life anew. At that moment, my heart was imbued with more excitement than anything else. I had yet to experience the harsh reality of my entire world being turned upside down and ripped to shreds.

My eagerness and bright-eyed wonderment lasted quite awhile. In my new environment, surrounded by new and strange people, I managed the culture-shock seemingly beautifully. It was an undercurrent of resentment, personal failure, and disenchantment with society that ultimately led to my embitterment. I feel as if I squandered the last of my energy in high school, with no future intake to supplement it. By the time college rolled around, I was running on existential fumes. It’s amazing how long I was able to deny to myself the full extent of the problem.

Life is comprised of cycles and tidal movements of energy. For a successive period of years, we can live with forward momentum, our sheer force of will and passion carrying us onward. But in a brief moment, all of this enthusiasm can change for the worse. The forward momentum gives way to spiritual friction, or resistance. This can commonly arise from some form of trauma, but in my case it also happened to be a procession of existential realizations. It may be a controversial claim, but this is the beginning of a natural process.

I suffered one of these traumatic realizations without recognizing what was happening. The act of my world turning upside down destroyed my momentum and instigated the friction. Looking back, I see how unavoidable this process was. I was indeed on the doorstep of a personal “dark night of the soul.” This was something that garnered the scorn of my subconscious. This was something that I could not accept on a truly innate level, and I therefore made it infinitely worse. I wish I could have realized my folly sooner, but alas, I could not.

One of my biggest flaws has always been misguided idealism toward the people in my life. With my cursed ability to see the potential of humanity, I unfairly hold others to unattainable standards. I see the possible greatness in everyone, but often at the expense of not accepting their imperfections. When I finally started to see that the people I loved were not living up to my idea of them, a painful and bewildering dissonance befell my soul. This comprised the gist of my existential realization. In hindsight, much of this mental shift could have arisen from simply growing up. But I believe the combination of a major life change and an evolution of my awareness created the situation.

So many of us fall into depression at some point in life without recognizing the process for what it truly is. With a healthcare industry that puts emphasis on the material and chemical, we are often left in the dark to depression’s true meaning. While we treat our symptoms in order to remain functional members of society, the underlying causes of our inner darkness are left unaddressed. According to Buddhist teachings, life itself is suffering. But the growing pandemic of mental illness highlights the singular nature of this moment in time. It is indeed a repressed spiritual nature and an ignorance of the natural cycles of the soul that are grievously dampening our wellbeing.

As younger generations become increasingly unfulfilled and lost in this materialistic society, they are taught the wrongness of depression. The dark night of the soul is a time where old concepts and attachments die. With proper guidance and understanding, it can lead to a state of renewal that is necessary for spiritual growth. The metaphor of a phoenix rising from its ashes embodies this rebirth philosophy. We all have the shadow of depression in us, but sweeping it under the rug and denying its existence lets the darkness fester and eventually consume the soul. So many of us never receive the direction we need to traverse our shadow.

Depression settles on me now, and I feel the icy clutches of nihilism reaching out. How do I combat the dark insights my tainted intuition conjures up? Am I failing, or am I working through a process that is a natural part of my spiritual development? These are the questions I ask myself on the most difficult of days. The disappointment I have toward society mirrors the disappointment I have toward myself. Hate for others is rooted in a fundamental hate for oneself.

All of my introspection has led me to the simple conviction that love is the answer. The part of our soul that lies in obscurity and depression is just as worthy of love as the part we take pride in. Only by having compassion for our inner darkness can we transcend the breaking down of tired concepts and attachments. Only by recognizing and accepting our shadow can we eliminate the power we give it through denial. Only through true love for ourselves can we fulfill our spiritual destiny.

Note: Dipping my toes into the world of podcasting, I thought it wise to play around with possible formats. This simple narration was easy for me, and it provided the experience I needed to create a better workflow in the future. I have ambitious plans for Head Junk, and I can’t wait to divulge more in my official introductory episode, which is coming soon. For now you can find my episodes on Anchor, but they will soon be available on most streaming platforms (Apple Podcasts, Spotify, etc). Thank you for all of the interest and support, my dear friends.

A Newfound Compassion

As I look out upon the world, I am overcome by the strife that plagues humanity. I bear witness to the repeated acts of selfishness that are rooted in fundamental failures of communication. I see how our fallen species has lost its understanding of the most important universal truths. I gaze into the hearts of men and discern their villainous intentions. And yet, this dreary perception is not the whole story. Once your eyes have been opened to the ugliness and imperfection of this reality, it’s easy to experience a natural slide into dejection and cynicism. As one who is conscious of the rising jadedness in his heart, I am compelled to see the spiritual futility of such a perspective. There must be something I’ve missed — some greater understanding of all things — to give me hope for the future.

If a person’s behavior doesn’t make sense to you, it is because you are missing a part of their context. It’s that simple.” ~ Devon Price

The vast majority of misunderstanding in our world stems from the false perception that everyone thinks precisely like you. Familiarity with the variety of cognitive functions, and their many different ways of manifesting in the psyche, negates this perception. The morals and ethical beliefs that you keep rooted so deeply in your identity may not be applicable to another, and thinking so will merely give you false expectations of their behavior. No, we are all such beautifully multifaceted creatures. And while our fundamental similarities will always outweigh our differences, there is too much variety in the human makeup to hold everyone to a single set of standards.

“The one eye of the Godhead is blind, the one ear of the Godhead is deaf, the order of its being is crossed by chaos. So be patient with the crippledness of the world, and do not overvalue its consummate beauty.” ~ Carl Jung, Liber Novus

By staying conscious of this, you are naturally inclined to have a more open mind. By reminding yourself not to pass judgement too quickly, you can be open to the possibility that there is a valid reason why someone’s behavior doesn’t make sense to you. And this openness will only ever bring you closer to a person, fostering a much better understanding of who they are and a respect for their inherent uniqueness. Unless you’ve truly walked another’s life path, you will never know what it feels like to be them every day. You will never know all of the traumas and experiences that contribute to making them who they are. Ease up on your misinformed and rigid expectations of their behavior. You might find that this acceptance warms your heart as much as their own. This is the root of all compassion.

“In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder a secret order.” ~ Carl Jung

Every macro, societal, and cultural issue can be traced back to fundamental psychological causes. We are a collective consciousness. The many comprise the totality. The composition of underlying issues always manifests as a greater image of chaos and discord. From a purely macro perspective, this perceived chaos is what can engender cynicism and later nihilism in the soul. The greater, societal condition is merely a reflection of the internal, human condition. All of the world’s plights are natural consequences of spiritual and psychological failings. There is indeed a reason for the imperfection we witness in reality, and it’s from not realizing that this very same reality lives in each and every one of us. It results in a disastrous and heart wrenching lack of compassion.

“As above, so below; as within, so without.” ~ Hermes Trismegistus, Hermetic Corpus

The nature of reality and the shortcomings of humanity are both perceived and dictated by your perspective. You have the ability to make the biggest difference in the world by first making a difference in yourself. Instilling your way of looking at others with more acceptance and a broader mindset will let you better see the underlying machinations of the world at large. Open your heart to embrace the suffering of those around you, and understand that all the strife they’ve experienced made them who they are today. By truly staying conscious of the varied and multifaceted nature of the human condition, you create within yourself a newfound compassion for those whose hearts you previously judged without context.

Hope is a Fickle Thing

The total obliteration of hope within the human consciousness is an uncommon occurrence. There is a strength of will and mental fortitude within the human psyche that keeps our soul and very spirit on top of its game. The nearly indomitable belief that a better outcome is always possible can be likened to faith in the most powerful of senses. However, hope can still be trampled and forgotten, or merely overridden by a plethora of fear and depression.

In this sense, the realization of hope can be quite fickle. It is usually present within our hearts, although humanity has a way of forgetting their most beautiful mutual characteristics. When we are placed in a situation of extreme stress and anxiety, a certain blindness can overcome our good sense. We succumb to the tyranny of emotional turmoil and lose faith and conviction. But hope in the deeper sense is usually present, although sometimes it takes the likeness of a gem buried beneath the rubble.

I’ve noticed an intriguing paradox concerning the concept of hope. One can deny the impetus of this force, and even believe, in all honesty, that its practical uses are few and far between. However, this cannot stop an individual from hoping entirely. We all wish for better times and a brighter future, even when the fruits and bounty of life are served to us on a gold platter. The choice between faith and action is not a necessary decision, no matter the rhetoric some may jaunt.

Hope and faith, in actuality, are the result of positive action. This equation cannot be lived in a one-sided manner. Hope stems from action, and this action, in turn, produces a new infusion of hope. Faith alone may guide us in times of strife and confusion, for it is the fire within us that dreams of what could be; the passionate desire for an idealistic outcome. Yet, this expectation and feeling of desire for a certain thing to happen must be acted upon.

Indeed, hope is a fickle thing, but fickle in the sense that it is always in the process of burial and renewal. We all have that flicker of something beautiful within us; that core of innate longing for an outcome that goes beyond mere survival. A very testament to the will of humanity, hope is our light. It is the mutual drive that propels our society, consciousness, and dreams ever forward.

The Breeders by Matthew J. Beier

The Breeders by Matthew J. Beier

The Breeders by Matthew J. Beier

Publisher: Epicality Books
Release: 2012
Image Source: The Author

Synopsis: THE STORM HAS COME. 

The homosexuals, once an ostracized social minority, have taken over the world. They understand the angers of an overpopulated planet, usurped government power, and created a culture of perfectly engineered families. But Grace Jarvis and Dex Wheelock are heterosexuals—part of the government’s highly controlled backup plan for reproduction—and they have a problem.

Grace is pregnant. Dex is the father. It is a crime that has only one consequence: banishment to the Antarctic Sanctuary, an isolated biological reserve where reproductive criminals are allowed to exist in peace, without disrupting the rest of civilization. Yet there are rumors that genocide has already begun and that the homosexuals are finally setting natural breeders on a path to extinction. This leaves Grace and Dex with only two choices: to succumb to the tyrannical regime, or run. 

THEY CHOOSE TO RUN.

Review: The Breeders by Matthew J. Beier is a heart wrenching story of love and hope. The author manages to weave an intimate tale of lovers while making a vast foray into controversial social issues and life values. Published in 2012, The Breeders has the potential to become a modern classic. Within its pages lies discovery and realization on an unprecedented level, one that could strongly impact culture and make one think twice about the fundamental values of being human.

As a dystopian thriller, The Breeders takes place in the late twenty-third century. Technology has advanced, if not quite as extremely as one would expect. Society has shifted dramatically and not necessarily for the better. The world has finally recovered from the “Bio Wars,” which almost brought about the total extinction of humanity. The remaining population is considerably smaller and dictated by a highly conservative regime of sexual politics. A world government retains almost absolute control, even placing restrictions on the natural birthing process. Even more shocking is the fact that homosexuality is the new norm. Heterosexuals have become a minority and are in a constant and accelerating state of degradation.

Matthew J. Beier has concocted a tale of masterful proportions. His goal in writing The Breeders was to provide a different perspective to the intense debate over gay marriage. What is generally considered normal in our society has been reversed, only to provide insight for issues our nation is currently undergoing. Beier found inspiration in the 2008 ad campaign for the National Organization for Marriage, which likened gay marriage to “a coming storm.” His vision is to give people the opportunity to “step into the shoes of those they are speaking out against.”

The Breeders has captured the beauty of two individuals trying to find value in a world where their kind must endure the condemnation of society. Solace cannot even be found with friends or family who struggle to hide their blatant disapproval. The mere act of producing a child via unplanned and natural reproduction has become taboo in this backwards world. The protagonists must face their own insecurities if they ever hope to find peace at the end of the road. The storyline was one of those that actually made you stop thinking and feel your way through the novel. Understanding the motives behind Beier’s characters can only be done by stepping into their very shoes and feeling for yourself why they made certain decisions and chose particular paths. The humanity in his words was refreshing, almost reminiscent of Suzanne Collins, author of The Hunger Games. While reading, I felt the pain of Dex Wheelock as he struggled with the fear of taking responsibility for his own child, and I could almost taste the tears of Grace Jarvis when she realized she may never see her beloved father again. This is the kind of book that makes one realize how wonderful and terrible it is to be human. This is the kind of book that bridges the gap between sorrow and joy.

Throughout the novel, readers will began to recognize the plot as an exaggerated reverse-scenario of our own society. In the world of The Breeders, intolerance toward heterosexuals is rampant. In our own world, the exact opposite is occurring. Hate crimes against gays and lesbians happen every day. The LGBT community is constantly under attack for being ‘unnatural’ and ‘sinful.’ This ideology is based on the literal interpretation of scripture, dogma, and an outdated viewpoint of humanity. It’s a simple and sad fact that people are willing to condemn others for falling in love with someone of the same gender. I question any authority that justifies limiting the definition of love. This is a fundamental gift all humans can partake in, one that is all-inclusive. Gender and other worldly characteristics cannot inhibit the pure and relentless power of affection. I am confident that Matthew Beier will share this wisdom with the populace and stand by his dream to help people see that humanity is “only as strong as it is united and as weak as it is divided.”

While reading, I also stepped into the shoes of its author and began to understand the impact his life experiences have had on his integrity. Living in a society where being honest about yourself leads to prejudice and disdain is a carving experience. It whittles out a character like no other. Something truly remarkable about a book is its ability the capture the soul of the author. The Breeders has done this and more. The character of Beier is evident in every sentence: his passion, hope, and even a bit of fear. Matthew Beier is truly an exceptional individual, one who understands the difficulties of living in a largely intolerant society. I sympathize with him and know from what direction he speaks from. To find the willingness to reconcile with those who are opposed to his orientation is a courageous action. I can only hope to channel this courage when facing life difficulties of my own.

Even though The Breeders ended (spoiler alert) on an incredibly dismal note, Beier was able to implement a sense of hope into the reader’s experience. As the protagonists Dex and Grace were deceived by the very people they thought were helping them, the novel begins to show its true spiritual colors. Left to die in the frozen and apparently uninhabited wasteland of Antarctica, the couple with their infant child realize how futile their efforts have been to evade government. Everything the reader hoped for seems to be lost, and one may even end up hating the novel because of it. The author intended to write the end as emotionally honest as possible, which proves his persevering integrity. This was his intention, yet Beier could also not devise the ending to be entirely hopeless. By the fleeting glimpse of a rainbow, Dex departed life with God’s promise that life would go on. The story ended with a sobering and eye opening enlightenment. The empowering and stunning realization of The Breeders is revealed, and readers are instilled with hope that even the “worst of life may merely be a prelude for what is to come.” It was the perfect ending, one that speaks of life’s gift and the great mystery afterwards.

The Breeders is one of the most heartfelt books I have read. There is sincere passion and inspiration between its covers. It’s one of those incredible works of literature everybody should read once in their lifetime, even if they disagree with what the author advocates. It definitely provides an enlightening perspective, and together with refreshing characters, a strong storyline, and superb writing, grants for a truly gripping read. It is my strong desire to see literary works like The Breeders impact society for the better. Intolerance only breeds conflict and creates a rift in our nation. If humanity is to rise above and meet new, more problematic difficulties head-on, we must realize how impeding our petty quarrels truly are. Denying rights for homosexual couples, including marriage, is a mindset that causes harm and threatens to derail any sort of political compromise. Personally, I can say that it hurts. Being unable to express your feelings for someone you love is heartbreaking and depressing. I severely hope that ‘traditional marriage’ advocates will someday understand the pain they inflict upon homosexuals who are otherwise no different from themselves.

There is a bigger picture to life than trying to oppose the suffering we all endure. We can let it tear our hearts and minds apart, but we can also realize that it is a gift in itself: the opportunity to learn from our mistakes, grow because of our hardships, and appreciate the occasional moments of awe that comprise the foundation of spiritual experience. When death finally rolls along, we can depart reveling in the knowledge that life goes on, and what lies ahead is the ultimate mystery. I thank Matthew J. Beier for making this review possible and for unknowingly handing me the answer to a long-standing dilemma. All in all, I recommend this novel to readers who are not afraid to open their eyes. I recommend The Breeders to the ones who need it most: the hopeless, the inhibited, and the downtrodden. For all of those who need to hear it, this book has a message that rings loud and clear: It gets better.

Beier, Matthew J. (2012) The Breeders. United States: Epicality Books