I knew it was going to be at best, interesting…when the man pulled out a chair and sat down uninvited at my breakfast table.
A friend may do this, unexpectedly encountering me in any number of places. A stranger, simply needing a place to sit or searching out companionship, would ask first. The waitress in a familiar place might, just to flirt a bit.
Any other such visitors are probably bad news. To dramatically intrude shows that the respect…is simply not there and the visitor has already plainly demonstrated that by their very first act.
It’s a hazard…curse…or perhaps a blessing of solo distance travel and eating alone. I seem to attract either hookers or madmen. Sometimes they are one-and-the-same. Makes conversations interesting at least.
The waitress at the small, cheery cafe had just been by and refreshed my coffee, and I said nothing to the man at my table as I methodically added the cream to my cup and slowly reached for the spoon.
I’m always fascinated by how the cream seems to go straight to the bottom without mixing. Hot vs cold. Black vs white. Viscous vs watery. Opposites. Out of balance and seemingly determined to stay that way.
Just one slight touch with my spoon is all it takes to start the mixing process and then I simply watch as the two substances dance and swirl and shortly meld into one pleasing color, one surprisingly complex taste. Balance sought is achieved with minimal effort on my part, and both substances together become better than they were apart. The combination, significantly more than the sum of the parts. It is not lost on me that different people would find other combinations pleased them more or less than mine.
That is the sort of quiet reflection I desired in that moment.
But I had a visitor to contend with. I sighed and looked into the man’s eyes.
I knew what was coming before he said it. The mind-set was plain to read there. Mirrors of the soul and all that. On a mission. No responsibility for his actions…and lack of respect. Following orders.
“God can fix you.”
I took a bite of my omelette, slowly chewing and savoring the mix of eggs, cheese, spinach, and mushrooms, all the while staring intently at the man. I kept waiting for the respect to kick in. I already knew he wasn’t going to get the message, but I may as well enjoy my breakfast.
After a sip of ice-cold orange juice I finally spoke. “What makes you think I’m broken?”
“You ride a motorcycle.”
I glanced out the front windows of the cafe at the big Valkyrie gleaming in the intense morning sun, then down at my riding gloves and wrap-around sunglasses sitting on my table.
I blinked and allowed just a trace of a smile, one corner of my mouth really, to show. I actually had not expected that particular answer.
I blew on my coffee…took a sip. “Hmmm. I must have missed that reference in the Decalogue.” I took another bite of my omelette while he formulated his answer.
It came fast, “The what?”
I finished chewing, took a bite of my rye toast (real butter!), washed it down with more orange juice. “The Decalogue.” I tilted my head in concentration. “Exodus 20 or so if I recall. You know…The Ten Commandments. I can’t think of a single reference about motorcycles.”
I pointed my finger at him, “Not even about helmets. Not that anybody’d know that with the all the fervor in those debates.”
That last was said mostly to myself.
“We have to interpret the lessons of the Bible to our modern life. That’s what Bible study and churches are for.”
I raised an eyebrow at him, then turned my attention back to my meal and plowed into my hash-browns. Crispy but moist, without being greasy, just the right amount of seasoning. Mmmm. Salt, maybe a little garlic. So far, this place was flat out rockin’ the food.
Raised in an educated and moderately religious household, I am actually quite well versed in religious studies. Raised Presbyterian, I’ve also studied in the Baptist, Methodist, and Catholic churches. I’ve also read the teachings of dozens other factions/religions as well…and a number of interesting and effective philosophies from a half-a-hundred ancient cultures spread over several thousand years. Gods and demigods, angels and demons, monsters and magic all inhabit my world. Combining this with my education in science, engineering, art, music, and half a dozen other disciplines will take me a lifetime…one way or another. I’ll stop learning…stop integrating…stop experiencing…when I’m dead. Not before. Maybe not even then.
It’s an interesting journey, yes?
I’ve learned several critical things from all these studies, trials, and experiences over the years though…
- As humans, we tend to WAY over-do, over-analyze, and over-blow this religion thing. We assign way too much importance to it, use it to justify our actions when we don’t want the responsibility, and look too hard at it for guidance in the day-to-day minutia of our lives.
- NEVER confuse predestination with predeterminism. Those that don’t know the difference probably have them confused. We are ultimately responsible for our actions, choices, and paths in life. Whether you are religious or not, your life is a gift. Friggen OWN it!
- Humanity NEEDS a moral code to live by, or we devolve into the very worst kind of animal. Examples are abundant and always close. Those that can’t see them are not very observant.
- As far as the moral code thing goes, The Ten Commandments pretty well covers the entire thing and is remarkably common across the peaceful side of religions and cultures. Unfortunately most religions and cultures ultimately ignore it or interpret it to oblivion. Religion is frequently used to justify atrocities.
- The Ten Commandments could be replaced with one word, “Respect.”
- Those that insist on over-blowing things could expand that to:
- “Respect yourself.”
- “Respect others.”
- Pretty much anybody seeking to change or influence others actions or in-actions beyond the “respect” thing is up to no good. Again, examples abound for those choosing not to wear blinders.
- If something represents as God or God’s agent and tells you to do something…it’s probably best to ask for some I.D.
The man at my table this day had learned none of this.
“God *will* fix you.”
Seemed he had upped the ante. I couldn’t help but equate the word “fix” the way he said it to the term when we use it applied to our pets at the vet. Involuntarily having a fundamental part of me removed in the name of man trying to mold me to his version of religion is not on the agenda.
“I don’t think so.”
That seemed to irk the man. “He made you, he can fix you.”
I looked him in the eyes again. “There’s nothing to fix. I’m not broken.
“I am exactly as I should be. I was not made. I was forged. I’m still being forged!
“I am the product of a moment of ultimate humanity, the passion between lovers.
“I’ve been formed over the years by love and hate and broken homes.
“I’ve been hammered by heat and cold, good and evil, and a lifetime of experiences.
“I’ve been tempered by education, science, magic, and superstition.
“I’ve flown with dragons, fought with demons, and made love to angels.
“I’ve conquered the darkest nights and seen the brightest days.
“I’ve despaired in a moment, and rejoiced in a lifetime.
“I’ve ridden the storms and learned what it is to die, even while I discovered what it is to live.
“I am what I am today, and tomorrow I’ll be something different…and still will be exactly as I should be.
“Life is a road, and how we travel that road and what we encounter on it forms who we are and what we can become, and that is far more important than what we might find at the end of it.”
I’d had enough, dismissed him with a look, and turned my attention back to my breakfast.
He had a little more in him though. “Are you a Christian?”
I genuinely smiled at the man. “That, my friend, depends entirely on who is defining the term at the time.”
“But, do you believe?”
That may have just been the question he should have asked to begin with, but a straight answer was beyond me at this point. That respect thing…yaknow?
“I believe in the balance both religion and science insist infuses all things, I know Death rides close with me, always, and I’ve fought with the Devil himself. You figure it out. Please leave me to my meal.”
I’m not broken…for today anyway. I’m still traveling the road. We’ll just have to see what I am tomorrow.