Josh Kraus: Special 25th Anniversary Edition

Tomorrow is my birthday. Yep. On June 20th, or rather in approximately 45 minutes I will be twenty five years old. Of course, it will likely take me that long just to write this blog, so it really won't be 45 minutes till my birthday by time I am done writing. And chances are you will likely be reading this long after I have turned 25. That or someone from the future is actually reading this from the year 2124, at which point I will likely not be 25, and will instead be dead. Unless of course we have invented some way to cryogenically freeze people before I kick the bucket, at which point maybe I won't be dead, I'll just be locked away in some fridge somewhere awaiting some horrifying science experiment likely to be performed on my helpless, unconscious body; or better yet, perhaps my frozen remains will be displayed on the walls of the futuristic alien lifeforms that will invade our planet in the distant future to steal our natural resources. At least if that happened I'd get to go out looking like Han Solo frozen solid in Carbonite ala The Empire Strikes Back.

But I digress. I realize that so far this blog has yet to find some purpose or meaning, and let me tell you right now if you are still reading this in the hopes that I am going to reach some sort of philosophical understanding of what it means to be 25, or a symbolic reminiscing of some of my past life experiences then go ahead and drag your little arrow cursor to your browser's "X" button and click it. I have no real purpose, no real goal, and no real outline for why I am writing this blog.

So why write it then, you ask? (or if you didn't I am just going to imply you did to simply begin my point). Well, because for one I haven't written anything in a while. Two, I think the Diablo III servers are currently down, and C. because writing is very much a part of me and so whenever something supposedly important happens like growing a year older, I feel it's always a good way to start that year out by writing something. Even if it's pointless drivel like I am writing now. Besides, I recently had to pay 15 bucks to keep my domain name so I guess I should get my moneys out of it.

Before I quit writing this I feel the need to share something with you. I guess watch this video first and then we can have a little powwow about it afterwards.

Yes, I just posted a music video from the 1980s. Yes, it's Alphaville's "hit" single Forever Young. No, I am not gay. First off let me just say that for the longest time I thought this song was sung by Phil Collins. I don't really know why I though that, but I did. And the strange part of this is that I actually didn't mind this song when I thought it was originally sung by Phil Collins. But now that I know it was sung by some much more fruitier 80s band, it's made me more or less despise this song.

And then I watched the music video.

I just watched this for the first time about five minutes before writing this blog, and after watching it I felt like I had to write about it. There's just so much to say about it, that I am not really even sure where to begin. To put it mildly, this music video just sort of reeks of the 80s. The ridiculous falsetto singing. The overly done makeup and mascara'd face of the singer. The red and white jumpsuits that make the band look like they'd be better off landing a spacecraft on mars then performing a song in some building. And let's not forget that hair. Sometimes I think everyone was on drugs during the 80s. Why are they playing in what seems to be an abandoned church? Why are the non-band people so impressed by this sub-par, crappy, mainstream 80s group? Why does the one old dude have, what appears to be, bird fecal matter on his face? Why is the band faking to play two separate pianos, when all the music is clearly being mixed by a synthesizer?Why does the whole group walk through what appears to be a cardboard cutout of a diamond ripped directly off of a playing card? So many questions that will never be answered.

But maybe that's for the better. Maybe turning 25 is sort of like this terrible music video. You can't really ask logical, intelligent questions like Why? or How? or What's the point? Instead, it just sort of exists. Just like turning 25 just kinda exists. We can't really question what's the point of it. Instead we just sort of need to accept it. Minus the whole falsetto voice thing, and wearing jumpsuits that were made for wrangling space cattle on the moon, that is.

- J.D.K.


Old Friends

Take the sting away
Save it for another day
Don't you rain on my parade
Time to turn a brighter shade
What's this feeling under my skin
Is it life, or just one more emotion
Peel it all away,it's just another schism
Are we really anything more than just an organism?
Time is running out, the air in here is getting quite thin
I can't even stop this, I don't even know where to begin
I feel the cold hard grip at the very edge of my pale throat
"Sorry I can't do this anymore," is etched into the eternal note
"You can't stay here," he says, "I'm sorry, but it's time to leave."
"Old friend," I say, "No one's left. Who will it be that shall soon grieve?"
"It matters not, for your time is now. Please Come quietly, and do not bicker."

I turn and whisper,



The Chronographer (part 2)

“H-h-h-h-h-h-h-hey, y-y-you!”

Chase stuttered worse than usual as he spoke. The two men either did not hear Chase over the commotion that filled the bleached color room, or they simply had chosen to ignore him. Chase licked his lips and did his best to speak up. His voice quivered as he spoke. His legs began to wobble and he could feel his hands begin to shake.

“H-h-h-hey, I’m t-t-t-talkin’ to you! Y-y-yeah, that’s right. W-w-w-w-ord’s a’goin’ round that y-y-y-you got a t-t-t-thing for m-m-m-men!”

The two men glanced up at Chase. Neither of them spoke or moved. Both men sat parallel from one another, with the game board separating the two. The man on the left was a tall, slender man, whose hair line was beginning to recede. On the right, the man who sat was a much more menacing figure than that of his gaming partner. The man had a grizzled face with a small scar over his left eye. He had a lazy right eye, and was bald. His arms were well toned and muscular, and his face was covered by an unkempt beard.

“W-w-w-w-what’s the matter? Are y-y-y-y-you d-d-d-d-deaf and r-r-r-r-retarded? M-m-m-maybe you’re too b-b-b-b-busy checking out your b-b-b-b-boyfriend to notice when someone’s insulting you!”

The man sitting to the left gave his friend a questioning glance, but the man on the right did not return it. He instead began to stand from the table, and walked directly in front of Chase. The grizzled man stood a good head above Chase, and both of his arms put together seemed to be that of the width of Chase’s entire body. The grizzled man stared directly into Chase’s eyes. Chase could feel the pounding of his heart within his chest. The sweat was pouring off of him, as he nearly felt his legs give out from underneath him.

“You talkin’ to me, boy?”

The scarred man spoke with a deep southern accent that seemed to bellow throughout the room. Chase was quivering. He glanced back behind him to see if he could spot the man, but he wasn’t able to catch sight of him. A sudden feeling of being very alone came over Chase. His hands were shaking as he began to clench them into a fist. And after several moments of nearly unbearable silence, Chase drew up enough courage to answer the man, his voice cracking as he spoke.

“Y-y-y-y-y-y-yes, I’m talkin’ to y-y-y-y-you, y-y-y-y-you ugly, bald headed, son of a b-b-b-b-bitch. Y-y-y-y-y-you’re n-n-n-n-nothin’ but an overgrown, piece of r-r-r-roast beef that likes it when men stick things up your-“

Chase didn’t get to finish his last few words. The scarred man brought his right hand up and clenched it into a fist; he then stepped forward into it, putting nearly all of his weight into the blow, as the man’s hand met its marked perfectly which happened to be Chase’s open mouth. The man’s hand dug deeply into Chase’s flesh, with one of Chase’s front teeth catching on the man’s knuckle causing it to be knocked freely from his mouth. Blood began to pour from the spot where Chase’s tooth had once rested, and before he could react he was now finding himself in a state of being in mid air. Chase was falling, falling, falling, and for a moment he imagined himself somewhere else. Somewhere in a nice spring field or meadow, or on a beautiful sandy beach. Anywhere was better than where he was now, getting beaten to death by a man that he had purposely enraged.

The grizzled man climbed atop Chase like he was a carnival ride at the fair, and began to pummel him with his hammer like fists as if he were a butcher tenderizing a slab of meat. Left, right, left, right, left, right. Blood now covered the enraged man’s hands as Chase cried out in screams of horror. Cries of panic began to flood the room as the man continued to pound away, but they were quickly drawn out against the hard dull ‘thud’ of flesh pounding flesh. With every punch and every crunching sound Chase’s face became less and less human, and began to resemble something else entirely.

Blood spattered onto the floor around both men. Chase was sobbing tears of sheer agony and pain as each blow began to feel less real than the one before it. His face felt as if it were on fire, and he couldn’t stand to open his eyes. His brain was telling his body to do something, anything, to react in any way, shape, or form so as to thereby stop the torment he was currently enduring. Then when he began to feel his entire body go numb, and he felt as if there was no way he could possibly take another strike, something happened. Three guards armed with wooden batons began striking against the back of the grizzled man. The batons made a hollow ‘thud’ like sound that echoed throughout the pale room. Again and again the guards struck the scarred man, until his screams became entwined with that of Chase’s, both unrecognizable cries of pain and woe. The grizzled man eventually fell to the floor, laying face first and sprawled out parallel to Chase. Eventually the guards let off, and a barely conscious Chase peered through his one good remaining eye to see if he could catch sight of his old friend. But he was nowhere to be found.

Before Chase ever said anything to the grizzled man who was now responsible for nearly killing him, the man Chase so desperately longed to see one last time had already started to put his plan into effect. At exactly three forty five P.M., the guard at the front door of the white room left to get his daily paper. As he left, and as Chase began a conversation that would inevitably leave him scarred for life, the man quietly slipped out of his seat and proceeded down the long hallway. Once in the hallway, the man did not make a break for the nearest exit, but rather he began searching for a room.

The man passed one room after another, each door looking identical to the one before it. The doors had been painted a shade of dark grey. As the man pressed on through the long hallway, he felt his heart beat quicken when he noticed a sign up ahead above one of the gray doors. The sign had been painted with black letters on a white border, and in all caps it read, “CONTRABAND”. The man reached forward and felt his hand shake slightly as he grasped for the door knob. The hard, cold metal of the handle sent a shiver through the man’s arm and down the back of his spine. The man gripped the knob and leaned slightly into it, freeing the door from its latch.

The room was filled with hundreds, thousands of small and large lockboxes. Many of them were stacked from floor to ceiling; others were strewn across the floor where it looked as if a careless staff member had simply thrown them into the room and had foregone the entire organization process. The man stood in the center of the room for a moment, and an overwhelming feeling came over him. He then took a step forward to the large stack of boxes on the right side of the room, and began glancing at each one in a downwards order. Each box had been labeled with a five digit number. Time seemed to stand still as the man checked the label of each box. And with every stack of lockboxes that the man ruled out, a sense of urgency and desperation began to sweep over him. The man moved faster. He could feel his body begin to sweat and perspire. In the distance the man could also hear screams, screams of agony and pain. He knew he had little time left. He began to question whether or not it was worth it. Whether or not this was worth risking escaping in time. He was flustered. He felt defeated. The distant screams grew louder and louder. There was no time, he had to leave it behind, but he couldn’t bring himself to let go. A little bit longer he told himself. A few seconds more, he thought to himself. Then as the last of his nerves were about to give way, his eyes spotted it. Box number 69341.

The man reached up for the lockbox and removed it from its hiding place. The smooth, cool steel of the box caused a therapeutic sensation to come over the man as he held it in his hands. The man then reached into his shirt, and revealed a silver chain that had been hidden around his neck, and at the end of the chain laid a single silver key. The man took in a deep breath and held it for a moment. He then took the key and placed it into the hole on the front of the box. The key clicked into place, and the lid of the box slowly opened. The man’s eyes widened as he looked into the small, metal tomb-like case. The man reached into the lockbox and removed the solitary item. He then held it up close and spoke aloud.

“Hello my old friend.”

The gold from that of the object glinted off the man’s head, and for the first time in a long, long time a slight smile crept across the man’s face. Gripping tightly his newly reacquired possession, the man threw open the door, and began a mad dash down the long hallway towards the nearest exit whose guards had conveniently been called away from their post to respond to a disturbance within the white room…

The doctor’s newly shined, black shoes echoed throughout the long hallway as he strutted toward the pale room. The doctor stepped to the side of the doorway as two men were being carried out on stretchers. One of the men squinted up at the doctor with a single opened eye and let out a slight whimper. The doctor gave the injured man a slight glance, and then proceeded into the white room. The doctor removed his right hand from his coat pocket and brought it up to his chin. He then stood quietly, as if to take in the entire event that had just transpired. As the doctor began to speak, he was quickly interrupted by his assistant who nearly barged through the door. The doctor’s assistant opened his mouth to speak, but he was silence by the doctor’s hand gesture. Both men stood in silence for what seemed like ages, but this was finally broken by the doctor.

“The guards tell me the dispute was over an insult. This seems… strange to me. I wonder if this was truly the reason for such a brutal attack.”

The assistant began to speak once again, but he was abruptly cut off by the doctor who shot him a glaring look.

“I’m told that a patient has escaped as a result of this outburst.”

“Yes. That’s correct sir.”

“And if I’m not mistaken the patient that has gotten out was 69341, correct?”

“Yes sir, you’re correct.”

“Ah. Very well then. I suppose we should go and contact the authorities then. You will want to tell them that are patient is considered dangerous, and has had a history of psychosis as well as has shown signs of Pseudologia fantastica.”

“Yes sir, right away sir.”

“Oh, and one last thing. Be sure to call a maintenance worker and have him come up here and clean up these blood stains as soon as possible… Those sort of stains seem to really agitate the patients. Alright then, carry on, carry on.”


The Chronographer (part 1)

The pale, vanilla splashed walls reminded the man of a place he had been before, but no matter how hard he tried he couldn't seem to place where or what made him feel reminiscent about the achromatic design of the room around him. The floors on which his feet rested gave back a slight reflection when he glanced down into it; the wax that had likely been applied to it last night was starting to give the man a headache from the malodorous fumes rising from the floor tile. The room felt cold. Not necessarily cold in temperature, for climate of the room was endurable, but rather the pleasantness of the room seemed to be lacking. This too reminded the man of something from long ago.

"D-d-d-did you s-s-s-see what happened this morning to Marcus?"

"Shut up, Chase."

"The g-g-g-g-guards really g-g-g-gave it to him t-t-t-t-this time."

The stuttering man licked his lips as he spoke. His arms were crossed at his chest, not to signify a sense of authority or power, but rather to keep himself from likely losing control over his limbs. The stuttering man was short in stature; his face was worn and strained, and showed advanced stages of aging. He couldn't have been more than 25 years of age, but his face was quite deceptive of this fact and made him look much older. His eyes shifted from one side of the pale room to the other as he finished his story.

"Yeah, D-d-d-d-don told me what happened. He said that M-M-M-M-Marcus asked for a piece of toast at breakfast right, b-b-b-but when he got his toast he started complainin’ that it was b-b-b-burnt. So he went up to the s-s-s-s-server and s-s-s-s-s-started complainin' bout his toast, and then started yellin' or whatever about it, and the next thing ya know he's gettin' his ass b-b-b-b-b-b-b-beat."

The stuttering man looked behind him after he finished speaking likely to check and see if any of the wards had overheard him telling the story. The stuttering man's wrinkled face seemed to accent the fear in his eyes.

"D-d-d-did you hear what I said, Al?"

The man's face was of cold indifference. He hadn't glanced at the stuttering man at all during their conversation. His gaze was fixed upon a lone clock that ticked silently in the corner of the room. The man's appearance was considerably more pleasant to look upon, and he looked half the age compared to his stuttering counterpart. The man sat upright in the semi-plastic folding chair, his back straight, hands upon his lap, giving off a sense of vigor and eminence. The man did not respond to the question.

"Al, w-w-w-why do you always do this to m-m-m-m-me Al? W-w-w-why do you act like you don't h-h-h-h-h-hear me sometimes, Al?"

"... Chase, didn't I tell you to shut the hell up?"

"C'mon Al, I thought you'd just w-w-want to know what happened. T-t-t-that's all Al. T-t-t-that's all."

"Stop. Just sit down."

The man's gaze did not fail to break as he callously ordered Chase. The stuttering man removed his arms from against his chest and began rubbing the cheeks of his face with both hands in a clockwise manner. He continued to do this for a few moments, and then stopped as he sat down in a chair parallel from the other man. Chase brought his hands back down from his face and crossed his arms once again. He then began to look from one side of the room to the other, his eyes darting from each living person in the room to the next in a frantic search to make sure that he recognized each person within the bone white walls. The stuttering man then began to rock back and forth uneasily, causing his bony elbows to knock against the back of the seat. The sound emanating from the creaking chair seemed to saturate the walls of the alabaster room. As Chase continued to rock in his seat, for the first time since the stuttering man had entered the room, the man broke his gaze from the mounted clock and gave a bitter look to Chase. The stuttering man seemed to shrink into his seat, and quickly stopped his incessant swaying.

The man turned his cold, hard stare away from Chase, and began to refocus his attention back upon the ticking of the wall clock. Reaching behind him and digging his hand into his left pocket, the man pulled out an ebony colored plastic comb. The man then began to run the comb through his hair in a right-to-left motion. As the man brushed his hair he quickly glanced down to the floor beneath him, and caught a slight glimpse of his appearance; his ashy brown colored hair which he had now parted to the side was being reflected back to him in the way of a distorted like image. The man peered at his image and stopped what he was doing for a moment. His arm fell to his side as if it had been paralyzed by some unseen force. He sat silently for a moment, and peered down into the contorted portrait that lay before him. Many thoughts ran through his mind, as well memories from long ago, most of which he could hardly remember. Others seemed to be nothing more than dreams that once existed, but were now all but lost.

“Say Al, w-w-w-why is it that you keep on lookin’ at that clock?”

The man’s head slowly turned away from the floor, and returned to face the direction of the clock once again. The man answered in a frigid, emotionless tone, and he made sure not to turn to Chase as he spoke.

“I’m waiting.”

“…Well whatcha waitin’ for, Al?”

“Something. Someone to be exact.”

“Well w-w-w-who is it, Al? Who’s it you’re w-w-w-waitin’ for?”

“I’ve already told you. You know who I am waiting for.”

“Aww, d-d-d-dammit Al, you knows I’m no good with rememberin’stuff. Does this have to do w-w-w-with you being the special person that you are?”

“… Yes.”

“W-w-w-w-well then… I think I understands now.”


An eternity seemed to past before either men spoke again. Chase had started to shift in his seat slightly, and began to watch some of the other people that were also in the room. Chase licked his lips, and gave a quick glance over at the man to see if he had moved from his statuesque state. The man ignored Chase’s glance, and refrained from moving his eyes. The stuttering man then quickly averted his attention away from his friend, and opened his mouth to speak. His arms and hands which had been resting at his side for most of their conversation were now placed into his lap. Chase’s eyes darted from corner to corner of the hoary room, until finally they became focused upon the floor just slightly above where his feet rested.


The man did not answer.

“Hey Al?”

“… Yes, Chase.”

“I was w-w-w-wonderin’, if maybe, just maybe you could, ya know…”


“If you c-c-c-could maybe tell me the whole story again, since ya know, I w-w-w-w-won’t be seein’ yas anymore really.”

The man’s eyes turned away from the clock. He slumped back into the plastic folding chair and pushed back against the floor with both of his heels causing the feet of the chair to rise slightly up. As the man replied, his eyes met the table in front of them.

“I don’t think that’s a good idea Chase.”

Chase frowned and removed his hands from his lap. He made a motion as if he were about to stand up from his seat, but a further response from the man stopped him cold.

“… I’m afraid if I tell you again, it will only confuse you.”

The stuttering man shook his head violently.

“N-n-n-n-n-n-no Al, you w-w-w-w-won’t confuse me. I’m a smart guy, Al, honest. Y-y-y-y-ou know me Al, you can t-t-t-trust me.”

Silence filled the space between the two once again. The man sighed long and hard. He exhaled from his nostrils and breathed in deeply from his mouth, letting the warm air fill the very inside of his lungs. The air smelled funny, and to the man it seemed to even have a peculiar taste, if that were even possible for air to have a taste, the man thought to himself. The man continued to sit in silence, and chose neither to move nor speak. Chase squirmed in his seat, awaiting an answer from his elder.

“… If I tell you, will you still agree to go through with the plan?”

A look of exhilaration came over Chase’s face.

“Y-y-y-yes! Of course! Y-y-y-you know me Al. I’ll just sit here and listen, then I’ll do w-w-w-whatever it is you want, Al. Y-y-y-you can trust me, Al.”

The man leaned forward causing the front legs of the chair which had been previously suspended in mid air to touch down upon the floor. The legs hit with a crunching sound, and skidded slightly against the ground. The man then looked down for a moment, and caught yet another glimpse of himself in the waxed floor. Then, for the first time during both men’s colloquy, the man turned and looked Chase right in the eyes.

“…My name is not ‘Al’… It is Aldred Caldwell de Montfort. I was born in Leicester, England in the year of our Lord 1643. I was a distant relative to the 6th Earl of Leicester, Simon de Montfort, and as such I am of noble birth. I fought with him at the Battle of Evesham where he was famously slain by the army of Prince Edward. During the battle I felt a moment of cowardice, and instead of staying and dying a courageous death like my lord and cousin, I instead fled and hid like a peasant. Many years passed and knowing that I could not show my face again amongst my brethren, I instead lived amongst the poor and needy, tilling the land and working with my hands to sustain myself, trying to live an honest life to pay for the sins I had committed. Then one day while I was working the land, I saw a beautiful girl from afar. I later inquired of this woman, and shortly afterward she became my wife. The two of us lived in peace and happiness, or at least as much as a couple could during those times, however as time moved on, I began to notice something. I noticed that as I grew older, my face did not seem to show it. My wife, who had been considerably younger than I when I had first met her, now looked much older than myself. Even the children that we had together were beginning to look older than I. Time passed on as it always does, and before I knew it I was burying my wife. Then my children. Then my children’s children.”

The man stopped speaking for a moment, as if he were trying to bring to remembrance so many different things that happened so long ago. The man cleared his throat, and the sound seemed to echo throughout the ivory room. Mesmerized by the man’s words, Chase sat in a tranquil, sedated like state.

“… Since then I’ve been married thirty seven different times, have raised hundreds of children, and have had to bury every single one of them. I’ve fought in 16 different wars, two of them a ‘World War’, as well as countless battles. I’ve seen more men die than I care to recall, and I’ve killed more men than I’d like to take credit for. I’ve seen cities destroyed, towns rebuilt, and entire countries started a new including this one. I’ve lived more of a life than a thousand men put together, and yet all I wish is to sleep an eternal slumber like all of those before me… I don’t know why I have been chosen to endure this curse, perhaps it is because of my fearfulness so long ago. Perhaps it is because of my bloodshed upon the battlefield. Or perhaps it is simply a result of the sins of all those who came before me. Only God Himself knows. Regardless however, I am but alone in this dreadful walk that I have been irrevocably damned with. The only ally I have or have ever known is but the constant tick tock of time herself, and even then she has been nothing more than a cruel tyrant.”

The man glanced away from Chase. His words fell hard upon his own ears. Telling his story was the last thing he wanted to do for it meant reliving so many things that he had wished would stay forgotten. Chase started to try to speak, but the man cut him off.

“… I’ve been in this place for thirteen years. ‘Doctors’, therapists, shrinks, and other kinds of people have studied, questioned, and pricked me with God knows what. That’s why in exactly three minutes and nineteen seconds my time here will come to an end… and you Chase, are going to help me.”

The stuttering man jumped from his seat. He looked both startled, yet eager to help. He knew what he must do. He had been rehearsing the plan for the past eight months. Every night before he went to bed he went over his lines, remembering exactly what to say, when to say it, and then what to do after he delivered it. Chase walked over to where the man was seated and gave him a nervous smile; he then anxiously began to wring his hands together and took a step forward. With his back to the man, Chase spoke in a quiet tone that the man had to strain just to understand what had been said.

“I’m gonna m-m-m-m-iss ya, Al.”

The man gave a slight nod; his face remained emotionless, however. Chase began to walk. His steps were small and clumsy as beads of sweat began to run down the side of his ruddy cheeks. He could feel the perspiration at the bottom of his neckline, and he swallowed hard as he approached two men sitting down at a table. The men were playing a board game that Chase did not recognized, although the pieces from the game were made up of two different colors, black and white. Chase stood awkwardly in front of the two men whom neither seemed to notice that he was there. Looking behind him, he caught sight of the man and waited for his signal.

As the clock’s hands reached both the three and the nine, the man knew that it was now time. For the past thirteen years, the man had been making mental notes of precisely where every personnel was at during any given time. For example, on Fridays at 9:35 A.M. the man knew that both door guards at the east wing left their posts for exactly five minutes so that they were able to walk to the cafeteria and obtain their weekly coffee. He also knew that every Saturday at precisely 6 P.M., the head of psych ward B would receive an anonymous female visitor into his room. And today, the man knew that at exactly 3:45 P.M. inside the white room, the door guard leaves his post for precisely three minutes to walk down the hallway into the staff lounge area to pick up today’s paper, and then walk back down the hallway to return to his post.

The man thought to himself for a moment, and spoke silently to himself.

“Three minutes.”

As the man spoke, a simple thought entered his mind. The next three minutes although seemingly trivial when compared to the length of the man’s life, will in fact decide his future. The man dismissed the thought as quickly as it entered his mind, and began to try and focus on the task at hand. He glanced over at the guard who was now beginning to stand to his feet, and the man could begin to feel his heart beat grow faster. The man looked over at Chase and nodded towards him. The plan was underway.


On Free Will

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about free will. And no, I’m not talking about that crappy kid’s movie that was made back in the 90s about some Macaulay Culkin wannabe and an orca whale (sorry if this disappoints any of you cinephiles out there). Nope, instead I am talking about something much, much more important. I’m talking about FREE will. I’m talking about the freedom that us human beings have. The ability to think, do, act, and say basically we please(of course, some of these things can be inhibited by law/legal authorities, but regardless we are ultimately still free to make our own choices and what not despite the possible outcomes/consequences). See, free will is really an interesting thing when you begin to consider it. Right now you and I are both exhibiting a level of free will. I personally am CHOOSING to write this rather long blog post, whereas you are choosing to read whatever random crap I write. Neither of us are bound by some external force that ultimately compels us to do something different. Both you and I can stop whatever it is we are currently doing, and do something completely different if we feel like it. You can right now decide that, “You know this blog isn’t really any good. I think I will go and see what’s on instead.” On the other hand, I can decide that I would much rather go and blow people up in Team Fortress 2 than sit here and write philosophical gibberish that no one will read/care about. And that’s the whole beauty of free will. It happens almost every second of every day, and if you are anything like me you likely don’t notice it as you go throughout your day. And I guess that’s the whole beauty of it. Wow I am taking a really long time to get to my point. Let me try a different approach here.

Right now as you sit here reading this wall of text, you are making a conscious decision to either continue reading (even though you might not think it’s a conscious decision, the fact that YOU ARE HERE AT THIS VERY SITE does in fact demonstrate a conscious decision on your part), or hit “back” on your web browser. However, whatever choice you decide to make it is ultimately your decision. There’s no strange creature/demigod/Higher Being/Flying Spaghetti Monster (that I know of) that pops in from time to time to tell me/you what to do (unless of course by chance you suffer from sort of mental illness and here voices from time to time who tell you to do things, at which point I would suggest you stop reading this blog and begin to seek help elsewhere). Even if we were allowed free will 99% of the time, but then that one percent of time we had to listen and obey some outside force against our will, we still couldn’t truthfully call that free will. The fact of the matter is if free will doesn’t exist 100% of the time, then it cannot exist at any time.

So now that I’ve briefly covered how free will allows us to perform any real action in any way we wish to, let me move on to thought and  free will (so perhaps I can finally get to the point of this post). See, because of free will, we are able to think and believe more or less anything that we want to. If a person wants to believe that he or she is a super hero who has inherited powers from a radioactive spider, and because of this is able to shoot webbing from his/hers wrists, then said person is freely able to think such preposterous thoughts. Granted, to everyone else around this “spider-freak” will most likely think that he is certifiably insane, but then again that’s the beauty of the whole thing: because of the free will we have when it comes to thought, we are all able to think of different things that may or may not directly match up to what another person is thinking. In short, free will allows us freedom in what we can choose to believe or not believe. Okay, now we are getting somewhere.

So then what’s the point of all of this? Well, I am getting there (albeit slowly). But unfortunately I am going to switch gears for a bit on you. Sorry about that. Here we go though. So I guess the next question to ponder is WHY do we have free will, but in order to answer that we need to begin to ask ourselves where does free will come from? Well, for reasons I won’t delve into in this post, we need to assume that our free will is either the result of a random instance that occurred without warning and without any real proper planning, and is merely the result of a need to survive and adapt, or our free will is ultimately the result of a higher intelligence who planned for us to have this ability from the get go. Now of course, most of you know my bias already, but let’s look at both of these sides anyway. On one side, we can see free will is simply the result as a need to survive. Human beings have adapted several abilities over time (according to this theory), and as a result free will must have been one of these skills that eventually transformed into something that allowed higher intelligent species the freedom to make their own choices.

 However, if this is truly how free will came about, if human beings went about only acquiring this ability over time, then one must assume that either (a) free will is merely a result of human beings needing to meet a skill necessary for the survival of the species which eventually developed over time (AKA adaptation), or (b) free will was simply a discovery made at some point early on by human beings. The problem is I see several problems with both these theories. With the first possibility (which happens to be the most logical of the two in my opinion), we need to assume that the development or discovery of free will is a result of human beings needing to survive and/or adapt to their surroundings. However, free will is hardly something that encourages the survival of a species. In fact, just the opposite can be true. If anything, free will causes strife, turmoil, and violence/danger amongst people, which ultimately leads to the threatening of the species. For example, look at a nest of bees. Nearly all bees share a common goal or idea (and for the most part, lack any real self/free will) which happens to be the survival of the hive/nest. Because of this lack of free will, or choice, bees serve the queen/nest with their lives, willing to sacrifice their self if need be for the survival of the species. Humans on the other hand, are allowed to choose for themselves whether or not they wish to aid/help/agree/listen to another fellow human being, which thus suggests that free will likely instead hinders (or at the very least doesn’t aid ) the survival of the species simply because it encourages human beings to not think on the same level, let alone to always agree with one another.

The second point which happens to be a rather silly one if I might add, can be thwarted simply by asking the question of when or how did human beings discover the idea that they even possessed free will? The notion to even discern that one has free will in fact demands that he/she is capable of free will. Basically, if one cannot freely think about his/her own free will, then who is to say it even exists at all? I hope that makes sense… (I feel like it doesn’t… I must go on though).

So then, let’s move onto “the other side” of this argument. If human beings were given this ability to think freely by some sort of higher power, the most obvious question to ask next would be “Why?” And here my faithful readers, is where I get to my “point” so to speak. If it’s possible that this higher power (who I will now call God) gave us the ability to freely think and make up our own conclusions about the world, then it is also possible to think that we can (and do) reach conclusions that dismiss the possibility of God existing or giving us free will. So then why would God possibly take a chance at allowing His own creation to possibly not believe in Him? Well, I’ll tell you, and let me just add, this is where it gets good. If we are talking about God, we have to assume that the God we are talking about is quite literally the greatest being possible, and because of this, He must also be the most benevolent being imaginable as well. Therefore, since God is both all-powerful and all-loving, He wants (notice, I didn’t use the word demand) his creation to love him back in a true and real way. Let’s see if I can explain this a bit further.

Imagine that you are a master engineer who has received countless awards and praises for all of your great inventions and accomplishments. Because of all that you have done for mankind, you decide that you want to create a small talking robot that praises you and tells you how great you are throughout the entire day. So you spend a few months building this robot, and after many hours of hard and arduous work you’ve finally completed your talking, praise giving robot. Obviously you are proud of yourself, so you decide to take a few weeks off from work. About a month later you come back and start working on a new project. As you toil away, your faithful robo-companion walks over to you, puts his hand on your shoulder and says, “You’re doing a great job. I love you master.” This pleases you of course, and you continue to work harder. A few days later, you are nearing the completion of what will likely be your greatest accomplishment yet, but something goes wrong. Possibly a result of your lack of sleep as of late, or perhaps just carelessness on your part, but you accidentally drop one of the main components that powers your latest invention! It shatters as it hits the ground, and weeks of work have just been lost in seconds. You curse under your breath, however your robot friend walks over, and repeats an all-too familiar saying, “You’re doing a great job. I love you master.”

Now obviously this is a colorful illustration to prove my point, but it works regardless. The robot in the story is in capable of showing any freewill, and although at the time it likely makes you/the inventor happy when the robot tells you how great a job you are doing, it eventually becomes obvious that this is no more than a programmed response once something goes wrong and the robot continues with his recorded message. The robot in the story lacks any sort of free will, and thus lacks the ability to show real love. This is exactly what God wanted to avoid when he gave us free will. Without giving human beings the ability to think for themselves, and without allowing us to choose who we wish to love and serve, we would be no different than the robot in the story. He wanted us to be able to make our own choices. He wanted us to seek for ourselves what the answers are, and what the truths of the universe truly are. In short, God took a risk in allowing us to have freewill in order to allow us to find what is true and real, and as a result He wishes for us to love Him in a way that is both true and real, as opposed to a false and dependent servitude.

However, there is a downside to all of this. With free will comes the choice to not only do what is right, but also the ability to do what is wrong. Because of this human beings are ultimately lacking something. If God is perfect, then it only makes sense that for us to have an equal relationship with God that we somehow, need to be perfect as well. And this is where God bends the rules so to speak. Even though He gave us free will, which presumably led to us becoming imperfect creatures, God still made a way out for us. Through sending His Son, Jesus Christ who was perfect to die for us, He was able to bridge the gap so to speak. Because of this, the connection that was lost due to our free will was once again rekindled. Of course this action happens to be the greatest example of free will: Because just as Christ himself was human, He too exhibited free will. At any point in time he could have easily not gone through with his terrible sacrifice on the cross, He could have chosen to instead returned to heaven, unscathed. But thankfully He did not. Once again, God showed us the greatest example of free will, and as a result showed us what real love is all about.

So ultimately, free will enables God to demonstrate a love that only an all-benevolent being can show, and through Jesus Christ, it allows us humans a way to choose God and show Him not just a level of servitude, but rather something greater altogether: true love.


Two Hundred and Seventy.

Occasionally during the course of my day, sometime in between my morning day morsels and before I lay my little head down upon my pillow at night, I ask myself several questions throughout the day. Mostly these questions range from the rather usual variety such as, "Did George Washington really have wooden teeth?", to the much more odd question such as, "I wonder what it is like to get cut in half by a katana?" However, every once in a very rare while I will ask my brain a rather important and philosophical question. It just so happens that yesterday one of these rare instances occurred. I can remember the scene perfectly in my head, just as if it happened yesterday: I was at my job, hating it as usual, when I began to think about God, and what God is like. Where did God live before He created the world? What did His house look like? Was He lonely at times? These were all strange and random questions I asked myself, and for the most part, I really couldn't come up with a solid answer. Then, for some reason or another, a rather more serious question entered the gray matter located within my skull: Is God currently happy with us?
At the time, I didn't really think about it too much, but on my way home, I began to think about this question a bit more in depth.

As I'm sure everyone knows by now, Bin Laden was found and (supposedly) killed by American troops on Sunday night. After the news had been announced that he was dead, it wasn't long until my Facebook was exploding with comments left and right from people exclaiming with great joy that Osama had finally been killed, and now America could finally live in peace, and so on and so forth. Even on the news a similar story was being broad casted. I saw that in New York, people were celebrating in Times Square that Osama had finally been killed. After seeing this, I started to think more about the question I had thought of earlier in the day, and I began to wonder if God was up in Heaven somewhere, dancing around on a cloud and having a party to celebrate the fact that Osama Bin Laden was now finally dead (and likely in Hell). Just as soon as the thought entered my head, I also remembered a verse in 2 Peter that says, "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” Right then and there, I figured there’s no way God could be as happy as most us Americans were that another person was dead. And it was then and there that I learned of the answer to my question: There’s honestly no way God can be happy with us as a nation, and there’s no way God can be happy about the place that Jesus Christ’s church is at within modern day Christianity.

I’ve heard it been said a thousand times by preachers, but each time I hear it, I still end up taking it for granted: as Christians, we are truly blessed to live in America, yet at the same time we are cursed in so many ways. In other countries throughout planet earth, Christians are being persecuted and even killed on a daily basis for the very same things that we do here in America with no or very little cost. It is still considered illegal to be a Christian in over 60 different countries, with many more countries denying basic human rights to people who profess to know and love Jesus Christ. A site I checked out earlier claimed that last year, nearly 270 Christians were being martyred everyday throughout the world. Just think about this for a second. This isn’t the 1800s we are talking about. This literally happened just last year. Every day while you and I are too lazy, too tired, too bored, too stressed, and too overworked to get up and go to church, or actually do something for God, someone was serving Christ to the point that it meant dying for Him; and were not just talking about one or two people here, but an average of two hundred and seventy every single day. Can you imagine what sort of state “American” Christianity would be in if people in this country were threatened on a daily basis for praying, talking, and worshipping God? I can’t help but think the results of such persecution would end up shattering three-fourths of the population of American Christians, and would end up leaving them to desert God, forsake their beliefs, and ultimately reject their faith. But what about that other 25%? What would happen to them? Would they fall by the wayside, just like the rest of their Christian brethren? Or would they be so filled with the Spirit that they continue on in such a way that made their Christian walk seem more real now than it ever was? Would their faith become truly great as they had to rely on God not only for their day to day needs, but also for protection as they continued to try and serve Him? Now obviously all of this is quite hypothetical, but it seems quite feasible to say that the Christians who are threatened on a day to day basis when it comes to serving God are ultimately on a higher level as far as their relationship with Christ is concerned, compared to the rest of the Christians in America who seemed to approach their spiritual lives as if it’s some sort of recreational activity. Throughout history it seems that those whom are forced to depend upon God for their general survival, seem to develop an intimate relationship with Him that seems to be only accessible throughout complete and utter dependence upon Him. Ultimately, it is when we are at our lowest and at are weakest that God becomes the realest.

So then, why would God allow us to be persecuted in the first place? I mean, if we are doing what He wants us to be doing then everything should work out fine, right? Well, Jesus actually spoke on this several times, and in John he actually says, “If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.” So right there Jesus kind of gives it to us straight. If we are doing what we are supposed to be doing, which is serving Christ, we are going to be suffering some level of persecution from it at some point or another. That’s how I can know for a fact that God isn’t happy with us right now. Then there’s also the verse in Psalms 116:5 that says, “Precious in the sight of the Lord, is the death of His saints.” Man, that doesn’t sound like a God who wants my best life now! When we have a country that preaches things life a Prosperity Gospel, and people say that your life will simply be easier with Jesus in it, I know for a fact that God cannot be pleased with the way American Christians are “serving” God.

So I guess the whole point of this post is just to get you (as well as me) to think about your walk with Christ. As an American it can be easy to think, “Well I’ll for sure serve Him when it gets rough”, but the problem is, most of us aren’t even really serving Him right now when it’s easy and costs practically nothing!  So let’s try and please God for once. Let’s try and actually do what we can for Him now, so when the hard times do come, we can already know what it’s like to rely on Him before things get really tough.


7 Items or Less

"… so then I'm standin' there in the line right, and I look over and the freakin' sign says 'Express lane: only 7 items or less per person', and the lady in front of me, I kid you not, had at least 30 plus items in her cart. Now this lady she's what I would call, uhh, how do I put this in such a way that I don't sound like a jerk… she was rather… obtuse. Yeah. Obtuse. That's a good word. She could definitely stand to miss a few meals. God, people like that make me sick, 'ya know? Go outside, go for a walk, a run, something. Is it really that hard to lose a few pounds for Chrissake? Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah. So I'm standin' there right, and I look at the sign again, then I look back at the lady's cart, and I begin to get that old feeling that you and I talked about. Immediately I can feel my heart begin to pick up a few beats, and I feel my face getting all hot and whatever. I clenched my fists or whatever, and started to do my counting. 'One', I said. 'Two, three,' and so on and so forth until I got to 'bout thirty. After doin' that, I began to feel a bit better, but then some schmuck behind me, who for all I could tell was some kinda fag or somethin', started mutterin' something under his breath, real quiet like. So I turned back to look at the fag, and – "


"Wait, huh?"

"Homosexual. I think the preferred vernacular is homosexual."

"Yeah, that's what I said wasn't it? Anyway…Where was I? Now see what you gone and made me do?"

"You were referencing the homosexual man saying something to you, if I recall."

"Ah yeah, that's right. So yeah, anyway, the fag – err homosexual as you call 'em, said something that I couldn't quite make out, but I was able to get the gist of it or whatever. Dude said somethin' like, 'When will people learn to read signs'. I think that's what he said. Don't really remember for sure, but I'm pretty sure that's close to it. Anyway, I figured the guy was talking about the 'express lane only' sign, so I looked back at 'em and replied, 'Yeah, tell me about it.' Now for some reason or another which I am not privy to, who knows, maybe the guy had some fight with his boyfriend the night before or somethin', my little comment seemed to really sort of set this queen off. The dude repeated what he had said to me, only this time in a much more louder and stern voice. You woulda thought I was some kinda war general who was rallying his troops before a war. So the gay guy makes this comment loud enough so everyone around him can hear him right, and before I can say anything or make a remark, all the other people who are standin' in line behind the queen begin chiming in with him. 'Yeah' they say, 'Only 7 items per customer!' some other lady says, 'Move to a different line!' and so on and so forth. So at this time the checkout kid, who for all I know looks like he just fell out of his mother's uterus last week is really starting to piss himself. As I stood there and looked at him, I began to see the fear in his eyes, and the real dilemma that seemed to be plaguing him. On one hand, he had an angry mob who wanted him to make the fat lady move to a different lane or they were gonna end up crucifying him. On the other hand, he obviously looked like he was lacking the balls to ask some lady if she would kindly put all fifteen hundred of her items back into her cart and move to a different lane. So the kid looks over at me, as if in some desperate plea for help, knowing that I am the only other person in line who hasn't demanded that he asked the lady to move, as well as being the only person that still hasn't lost their mind."

"So then what happened?"

"What'dya mean?"

"Well, what did you do? You were obviously placed in a difficult situation."

"Well what would you have done? I mean you're the shrink and all."

"… I think I would have moved to a different lane. That way you aren't complying with the 'mob', but you also aren't agreeing with the lady who was clearly breaking the store's rules."

"Ha! That's funny. Sometimes doc, you've gotta picked sides. But I wouldn't expect you to understand that, with being behind the desk and all. Anyway, guess I oughta finish the story. So I was standin' there right, and there must have been a million different thoughts in my head. At first I was pretty sure the crazy grocery store mob made up of soccer moms and gay guys were right. I mean the lane did have a seven item limit right? But then I couldn't really justify havin' 'em all gang up on that one lady like that, you know? I mean maybe it wasn't her fault she was so fat. Maybe she was born like that or somethin'. Maybe she couldn't read either. The way I saw it, both sides were in the wrong, and I really wasn't sure what to do. But what happened next really just sorta pissed the hell outta me. Through his rallying and protesting that the fat lady moved to a different lane, the gay guy must've noticed that I wasn't exactly chiming in with the rest of the mob. 'Hey,' the guy said to me, 'Why aren't you shouting with us? You want her to move right? After all, you're the one that started all of this!' I nearly lost it after the dude said that. But I bit my tongue, and asked him what he meant by stating that I started it. The gay guy replied by telling me that if it wasn't for me he wouldn't have gotten all riled up. He said that he actually wasn't speaking to me when he muttered somethin' about people not reading signs, but since I answered him or whatever, he then took upon himself to lead the crusade against the fat woman. As if I'm some sort of revolutionary that helped inspire this certifiable moron to go on his campaign of stupidity! I got that old feeling again, and I tried to do my counting, but it wasn't helping. 'One.' I said. 'Move her, get her out of here!' the mob cried. 'Two.' I said. 'Only 7 items to a line lady!' the mob cried. 'Three.' I said. 'Say something, you're the reason we are here! You're the reason we started this in the first place! Tell her! Move that fat whore!' the gay guy screamed. 'Fo... uhh… Five… no.. wait…' Suddenly, I couldn't remember what came after three. I couldn't move, man. Couldn't breathe, couldn't think. I tried my breathing technique. Inhaling deeply, then exhaling slowly. The mob kept yelling and yelling. I was just standin' there, tryin' to remember what in the hell came after the number three! My face was getting hotter and hotter, I clenched my fists and looked over at the gay guy. 'Tell her! Tell her it's seven items or less! Tell her!'"

"Then what happened?"

"Well what the hell do you think happened? I blasted that gay dude right in his face. I made a fist, pulled my arm back, and stepped into the punch with everything I had. My fist ended up catchin' him right on his jaw, and without a second's notice he dropped to the floor like a sack of potatoes. 'The next person that tells the lady to move it is gonna end up just like this guy!' I shouted to the mob… And that's about it I guess. The crazed shoppers suddenly became much more nicer all of a sudden, the lady checked out and left, and the gay guy called the cops on me, which you already know how that went down."

"So you ended up giving into your anger after all."

"Yeah, but you said it yourself, I was in a tough spot."

"Yes, I did say that, but I also said that you had options. You could have chosen to not get involved. Remember what we talked about in one of our prior sessions? If you don't learn to master your anger, it will eventually become your master."

"I hear what you're sayin' doc, but there's gotta be a point in a person's life when all that guru stuff goes right out the window, and a man's gotta do what he thinks his best and right."

"… I think this is a good place for us to stop for today. I think next week we can talk some more on what is and isn't the 'right' thing. On your way out don't forget to schedule for next week with Charice, and also feel free to leave the check with her for today's session."