Afraid of ending up like your parents? I spent a lot of my 20s trying to decide how much like my dad I wanted to be, realizing how much I was like him, and hating and loving myself for parts of my dad I saw in me.
My mom always told me “you’re just like your dad!” I didn’t see it. I didn’t want to see it. My dad was a killer jazz bassist. We’d drive to San Francisco or San Diego every other weekend to see him perform with top tier musicians. But by day he drove a school bus in a small town, and for most of my childhood, he was a 350 pound man. I wanted us to be like the families on tv. I wanted to be like the people in magazines.
Evil’s strongest attribute is disguise
What is evil? I didn’t think I was evil until I realized what evil really is. I was a Christian missionary most of my life, but I was still evil.
Every time I decided to be untrue to myself – To believe a lie, and worse to act on it – I was being evil. Evil’s strongest attribute is disguise. Evil hides in the form of every good thing. Lies depend on truths. Shadows depend on a source of light. And evil’s favorite place to hide is between the cracks of the good.
The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love.” – Dostoevsky
Like many kids, I rebelled against my family’s values in my youth as much as they would tolerate. I went into the world. I adopted other cultures and foreign ideas. I tattooed my body and challenged my every value.
Not only did my personality change, my soul changed. It became defined by my search for the truth of “Who am I?” and “Why am I here?” The scars from my life’s journey now define me as much as my childhood.
Positive and negative share the same signal. Decision determines whether a signal is positive or negative. Pain doesn’t happen, signal happens. Some people find pleasure instead of pain. Pain shares the same signal with bliss. Truth with illusion. Good with evil. Love with hate. Life and death.
The only sin is to believe a lie. Truth runs deeper in you than blood, it’s encoded to your soul: It’s your intuition. A sin is every time we lie to ourselves, because it distorts our perception of reality.
A strong understanding of reality in all its layers makes us God-like. Therefore, self-realization makes us less sinful. Self-realization is the path to superhuman.
There are divine layers of life, which open up to those who learn to live without lying to themselves.
“Children begin by loving their parents; after a time they judge them; rarely, if ever, do they forgive them.”
– Oscar Wilde
When I first heard “forgive your parents” I didn’t think I had anything to blame them for. Most people hate their parents, I’ve always loved mine.
I was spoiled rotten. Explain this paragraph better
They forgave every sin. Punishments lenient of hand, unlike my older siblings. They praised the shit out of me. They pushed me in front of the town to perform at every opportunity. That made me an entitled, delusional pretty boy when I entered the world.
Surely I could blame them for spoiling me. And that type of unforgiveness didn’t manifest in typical ways like anger and rudeness. It hid in an appropriate disguise. It hid by making me feel uncomfortable at family get togethers. It hid by keeping me from being myself around my parents. I kept it “high brow” instead of letting myself feel like a son. Instead of being angry and rude, my sin was a feeling of not relating to them. Or anyone, for that matter. The degree I have been depressed is the degree I have felt un-related to the world.
“If from infancy you treat children as gods, they are liable in adulthood to act as devils.”
– P.D. James
Evil’s strongest attribute is disguise.
And so I had to forgive them in my heart. I forgave them for spoiling me. For being too soft, for not teaching me self-responsibility and discipline. I divorced my ideas of who they are based on who they used to be. And since then, we have become true friends. I can look them in the eyes. I can share my true thoughts with them. And we can reminisce on memories like two old friends.
Did it solve everything? Of course not. I’m still snuffing out shadow monsters in my closet. But because I forgave my parents for how I ended up, I could finally take responsibility for those things I hated about myself. The truth was revealed: We do not have to be defined by our past. Only when we’ve forgiven our past can we learn from it.
If you have any chance to express love and respect to your parents, be grateful for it. Not everyone does. Love and forgiveness can wash away every petty difference you have with them: It’ll make you feel better, it’ll make them feel better, soon they’ll be gone. Then you’ll be them. Then you’ll be gone.
Develop a soul of love. Love IS power.
Special thanks to Arthur Plainview, Lyssa Menard, Chris Wong, and Simone Silverstein for your help with this essay.