Noisy Water Review

The Dimly-Lit Road

Mark Lawrence

At Sunday school we received little wooden coins called shekels after reciting memorized bible verses.  I had no idea what the verses meant, I doubt any of the kids did.  We just wanted those shekels.  We had to have them.  As soon as class was over we would all run to the bible store and drool all over the glass cases which contained all the greatest of material possessions every nine year old desired.  The motive was to teach children the Christian values found in the bible, but the shekel system only taught children of the importance of money and material possessions.

I was raised by a fanatically religious single mother.  The foursquare Baptist Christian morals were imbued into my childhood, and I am grateful for them.  They have molded me into the person I am today.  However, looking back I can see the twisted hypocrisy that eventually led me away from my Christian faith.  As I lived and breathed as a scrawny young freckled boy I learned more and more of how highly regarded Christians held the value of money and material possessions.  Although they wouldn't dare teach these lessons at Sunday School. All I truly remember from those days was how much I enjoyed watching the cartoon VeggieTales and hearing Larry the Cucumber sing silly songs.  

My next lessons on Christian values would be taught in history class when I first learned about the Crusades.  At that time I understood very little about Christianity and the Christian values.  Like many other kids I used to where a “W.W.J.D” bracelet on my wrist.  The acronym stood for What Would Jesus Do?  Slaughtering thousands of women and children in the name of god just didn't seem like something Jesus would do.  But who was I to question the will of God?  Who was I to question anything at all?  

I began learn what it really meant to be a Christian, and I was surprised at what I learned.  It turns out some of the important Christian values aren’t really valued by most Christians.  “Love thy neighbor as yourself,” only applied if your neighbors were Christians too.  I was skeptical about the fire and brimstone of hell as well. I’d ask my pastor what would happen to the good people in India and China when they died without ever knowing Jesus?  Would they suffer eternal torment because they lived in a different part of the world and believed in a different God?  The poor guy didn’t know what to tell me.  It was honest question, but he couldn’t give me an honest answer because he had no idea.

That was the problem.  I had honest questions but I couldn’t ask them because I never got an honest answer. My questions weren’t about the curriculum, they were about my life.  As I grew older and older I began to care less and less about whatever it was they were trying to teach me.  I remember I used to have this plan when I was in middle school.  I was going to college and  I was going to be a computer scientist.  I had no idea what a computer scientist even does, I just heard they made good money.  I was taught life was about security and success.  Money was the measuring stick that determined at the end of my life what I was truly worth.  I began to honestly question that notion as well.  There was no one willing to give me an honest answer. So I set it upon myself to find the answer myself.

Like any rebellious teenager I began to separate myself from any and all authority, and I began to resent anything and everything that ever controlled me.  I didn't trust teachers, pastors, or even my own mother.  Everyone had lied to me my whole entire life and now I had this false ideal of what life was about.  I was lost, but I wasn't the only one. It was my whole generation.  So we all made our tight-knit close group of friends, and put our faith in each other.  Like a herd of sheep without a shepard we wandered through life with no direction or purpose.  Until life became so bland and worthless I abandoned the herd.  My only goal was to find the truth.  To discover my purpose for life.  Thus my journey down the dimly-lit road to enlightenment began.

I have always believed in fate. Countless times in life situations and circumstances came to be in a particularly eerie way.  Any moment the words luck, chance, or my personal favorite, “coincidence” were applied; I was skeptical. Something peculiar was going on.  The exact song I was thinking of just moments ago would start playing on the radio.  People I had recently thought about but haven't seen in months would appear before my very eyes at the most inconspicuous locations.  It was as if the universe was reading my mind and delivering to me the very manifestation of my thoughts.  Was I the only one?  It seemed to be that I had some hidden power to control my own destiny, to dictate my own fate, but this kind of power was God’s and God’s alone.

I moved to Bellingham one year ago.  No longer the scrawny young freckled boy, my reflection had evolved into the image I see today.  I abandoned my Christian faith, my friends, and even my mother in search of the truth.  I had to deconstruct the boy in order to become the man.  The first step was to learn.  I have learned more useful information in the past year than I have in my entire life.  I say this without a doubt because of the significance of this knowledge.  To know and understand what I now know and am still trying to understand and apply to my own life gives me infinite potential.  The kind of potential our second grade teachers said we could have.  “You can be whatever you want to be if you put your mind to it.”  How right they were.

But potential without action is as useless as a camera with no film.  I was starting to figure it out, but I found myself in another herd of lost sheep with no shepherd 30.  I was always looking for a way out, for any sort of adventure or anything to make my life spectacular and amazing. I was fascinated with music, but mostly with musicians.  I read biography after biography searching for what made their lives so inspiring and adventurous.  I was beginning to see the world differently.  It used to be a place where I was always trying to fit in, or to be a part of.  But the things that mattered so much two years ago didn't matter anymore.  I began to care less and less about the trivial pursuits of life.  All I was concerned with was my own life.  What is the truth?  What is my purpose?  I was searching and I found an overwhelming amount of answers.  I was collecting ideas, but I was not applying them because I didn’t trust them.  I was lost.

I found myself at the hospital.  It had been a long day, a long week, and a long month.  I was struggling.  Day by day my life was becoming more and more bland and worthless.  My reflection showed me who I truly was.  A sad, confused, sorry sack of shit.  Six months of searching for the truth, and I had absorbed so many different conflicting perspectives I didn't know what the hell to believe.  I was giving up.  There was no purpose to my life.  No truth to be found. As I looked around the hospital waiting room I could see the rest of world had given up too.  It was on this particularly woeful and bloody day I found the truth.  The lantern that would shine ever-lasting light on my dimly-lit road to enlightenment was lying in the form of a slender book in front of me.  “As a Man Thinketh by James Allen” I thought to myself as goose bumps rippled own my skin.  I proceeded to chapter one and read the words that would transform my life.  

“The Book of Proverbs proclaims, “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.”  This adage reaches out every condition and circumstance of the human endeavor. Each of us is literally what we think... As the plant springs from and could not be without the seed, so everyone one of our acts springs from the hidden seeds of thought and could have not appeared without them.”

It then all made sense.  Without a doubt this was the truth I had been seeking.  My previous thoughts had brought me to that moment, bleeding, lost, and desperate.  My present thoughts will dictate my future.  I continued to read the next two chapters before I finally got medical attention.  I went back to take the book with me, but I decided to buy my own copy in hopes the truth would reveal itself to another lost soul.

The wisdom of James Allen now belongs to me.  As a Man Thinketh led me to another of his works From Poverty to Power.  There is no equivalent to the value of the this knowledge.  I only seek to reflect upon my thoughts, to understand the present moments.  What some people may call chance, luck, and coincidence I know is truly fate.    

Because the universe is truly reading our minds, and delivering us the manifestations of our thoughts.  Now through practice and patience I try to limit my mind to only pure, productive, and positive thoughts. My reflection shows me my image, which is the sum of all my thoughts up until that point.  I reflect inward, determined to have peace of mind and self-control. Now I aspire to become the lantern to shine everlasting light to your dimly lit-road to enlightenment.

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