I got lost in Compton...not kidding. It was a brief sojourn into the wild, but enough to make me thankful for a better than average sense of direction. Arriving in one piece this morning took more chutzpah than I had imagined when I left my hotel in the early morning darkness. The traffic was snarled, the sky was heavy with smog, and I was grinning at the ridiculousness I'd managed to schedule for today. First, there's the MOVE Conference from which I'm typing stealthily right now. Well, probably not so stealthily, but still typing nonetheless, and second, there's a stop at Homeboy Industries immediately after I secure my freedom from this Jesus festival (I was here about three minutes when the first name drop occurred and let me tell you, there's nothing more annoying than name dropping with the son of God), and then I have a coffee and donuts hook up with a former World Champion. He actually said that..."coffee and donuts,
" so I'm expecting the worst.
I really should be paying attention, but instead I'm busy being media savvy, which is a great way of saying that I'm being a bit of a distraction to the guy in front of me. That's right, he's wearing a toque. Despite the 73 degree temperature, don't forget, LA is the cool capitol of, well, it's own little universe, I guess. I'm wearing shorts and a t-shirt, everyone else here is apparently going to a rock show right after lunch. It makes me giggle...out loud...I just did. My phone also made that camera noise when I took this shot and now everyone knows who the class clown is, I think.
We opened with suicide. Who opens with suicide? Depression maybe, that would make for a logical progression perhaps, but nope, we're going for it right from the get go. I'm joking about this whole thing thus far but it feels pretty good aside from God's unsettling presence. The info is going to be incredible, and the people here are enthusiastic, to say the least. I love that about Americans, they don't $#%& around. Wait, can I type all those suggestive symbols in the house of the Lord? Stop it. I can't help myself. God has nothing to do with us being here, if he did then we would never, ever be having to talk about suicide. He obviously must also hate the Texas Rangers, but how is that possible? Josh Hamilton LOVES him. Stop...stop, stop, stop. I'm such an @$%&le.
Zoey...someday when you read this, please, know that I'm not this much of a jerk on your average day. This is all just too easy.
I don't know what's come over me in the last few weeks, but I'm finding the strangest strength and clarity. Maybe it's because of my mind set? This new project has me feeling pretty passionate and awfully justified. Really smart things have been falling out of this often irreverent head, and I'm feeling well beyond competent and skilled. All that, and this whole God thing just keeps coming up. I just heard someone say something about it...yup, just two people over from me. I heard "blah blah blah blah God blah be blah blah.
" Why does he keep coming up? It's funny. This part I'm not even joking about. Everywhere I go lately it's been religion, religion and more religion. I know that sounds strange but it's beyond true. There aren't even words to help me articulate how ridiculous it's been. It's got me creeped out. Walking down the street yesterday some young dude, just hands me a DVD...some surf film, and asked if I'd seen it yet. "Nope,
I replied. So he just gave it to me, told me to check out...that I'd be "stoked
." Turns out it's a surf movie alright...a Christian one. And this conference...it's gonna be great, and I can tell by the things I'm half hearing that I'll learn a lot and come back a better guy, but the organization has a definite Christian lean to it. Then there's my meeting with my friends down at Homeboy Industries...yeah, Father Greg has something to do with God. Lastly, there's my hook up Christian Hosoi. He found God in prison and I just know that he's going to do his best to help me find him too.
Why is it that the minute you want to help people you're surrounded by evangelism? I mean, I get it. It makes perfect sense, but here's what I'm selling...It doesn't have to be about faith.
It shouldn't have
to be about faith. I know plenty of incredible people who aren't necessarily faithless, but who's lives don't revolve around a book, a building, and a deity. I think we can do this without his help, in fact, as I'll mention to my new friend tonight, I think that if you truly believe in a God, that he'd surely be the kind of guy who'd like us to be doing this on our own. If the way you live your life and the manner in which you walk on this soil suggests that you need a God, then cool. Good for you, and him. What I believe is that we are all responsible for each other, just as we can all so easily ignore one another to our greater detriment. If we need God to find kindness, or to pull us from depression or addiction or whatever we might be struggling with, well, we've got problems. What these people's God, not everyone's but certainly this evangelical God, does is take from you the strength that you've found inherently in the human spirit. Go ahead and believe in what you believe. I believe in things too. What I feel strongly about is that we don't deny ourselves our own worth.
All this religion stuff makes me squirmy, and I don't like it. What's weirding me out is why is it suddenly flat in my face all the time? Is it just the world I've thrust myself into. I can tell you, it couldn't have come at a better time in terms of giving me something to stare across the ice at. It's not much of a game if you don't have anyone to play against, is it? I went to the Church of the Holy Vicious Elbow growing up, so I'm ready for this tilt. Not that I'm necessarily finding an opponent in religion, as the analogy might suggest, but....well, no, maybe that is what I'm saying. I hope he can't skate very good.
On another much less squirmy not....check out my ride for these three days. Yeah, that's right...THIS crazy machine is a rental. Only in Southern California.
Now I'd better start paying attention. This is important business. I still can't believe we started with suicide. That's like going straight to the guilt before you even get to the lie. I'm going to have to drive really, really fast back don to Orange County to wash all the religion off of me after today.