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Several years ago I was reading the blog of Stan Rogers, a gent I've respected quite a bit for his technical skills, and after reading his blog, I've gained far more respect for him as a person. Stan revealed quite a bit of his personal history and pretty much laid bare his soul.

My own history is not as interesting, nor my courage as well-forged. I had a college prof (a huge baseball fan) who once told me he saw me as like a baseball player who could steal all the bases if I could make it to first. Hmmm. Well, I'm going to take Stan's posts as the base hit (I'm not a baseball fan - much prefer soccer - so forgive me if I screw up the terminology). There is far too much dishonesty in the world today, and just beneath the surface of blatant lies fester the rampant deliberate misleadings and the cautious omissions. So, I'll tell of bit of my past and beliefs here. If nothing else, it should prove a useful read for insomniacs.

I was a middle child of 6 in a Catholic family. Well, sort of Catholic. My mom was a very devout Catholic, and her mom was wont to suggest that she really should have been a nun. My mom was schizophrenic, but I'm sure it was not related to her own mother telling this mother of 6 on frequent occasion that she really should have been celibate. I think it was more of a comment about the kids.

They tell me that my mom's first breakdown was just after I was born. I guess I have that effect on people. Hey, I wanted to be tall, dark, and handsome. Just ended up short, pale, and bald. Apparently my mom used to carry me to the neighbor's house when I'd be crying and just kind of hold out this screaming infant, as if to try and pass off Satan's spawn on someone else. Fortunately, I never heard about any of this until I was as grown as I was going to get.

My dad was raised in what - in those days - we referred to as a 'mixed marriage'. His dad was Protestant and his mom was Catholic. So he was raised as a sort of Catholic and agreed when he married that the kids would be raised Catholic. It was sort of like an early version of the Bush/Cheney loyalty oath. Once my mom started having bouts of crazy, my dad got scared and started seeing other women. He'd sleep at our house sometimes, and be elsewhere at other times. I made a vow to myself that when the day came that I got married, I would honor those vows and never cause the pain that I felt he had inflicted on his wife and family. Shirley and I were married in 1980, and still love and laugh and dream, and for that I am extremely grateful.

In the summer after my 9th grade, we moved from New Jersey to Washington state. My dad was already living there with his significant other and her 2 kids. In a year's time my folks were divorced, and in the best dysfunctional manner we lived a few blocks down the street from my dad and his new family. So now it was my mom, her mom, and my siblings in a home of pretty constant yelling and fighting. And smoke. Don't know why, but my mom must have been stressed, and smoked pretty much all the time. The house was a fog zone. I've never liked cigarette smoke.

By this time I'd started reading about other religions and happened on the Bridey Murphey story. I don't know or care if that was true, but it did get me interested in Eastern religions. For a time I was active in a local Catholic Pentecostal group (speaking in tongues, and various things that many - including Catholics - do not realize are part of the Catholic faith). Within a year or two, I decided that the Catholic teachings placed too many limitations on one's personal thought processes and responsibilities. After a time, I stumbled on Transcendental Meditation and began to meditate regularly. These days I do not meditate every day, although I do still meditate, and also practice Reiki. I tend to agree with Marx that religion is the opiate of the people.

I spent some time in my early 20's working on various political campaigns, and became rather disgusted with the state of things. It did seem that the vast majority of people really didn't care to be educated about the issues, let alone bother to vote! Some things are slow to change.

After almost 4 years of college (I think about a quarter shy), I really didn't know what I wanted to do, so I stopped college and spent some months meditating. I spent a little over 2 months at a small hotel on the Olympic Peninsula just meditating. Folks talk about life-changing experiences, and this truly was. When I left, I was still the same person, but there was a very profound and subtle difference. I had spent many years being extremely depressed, I had planned out exactly how I'd kill myself, but (as mentioned earlier) I lacked a little courage, and so never quite completed the task. Those depressed and suicidal thoughts have never returned.

I got a job teaching private guitar lessons (and eventually all fretted instruments), got married, played and sang in bands in the local clubs at night, bought a house, kept meditating, did some serious weight-lifting (some folks used to ask me - seriously - if I was training for the Olympics'd *never* think that now :-) ...and was very happy and content.

Then the glorious Reagan years came, the economy went down the toilet, and I needed to retool myself. We walked away from our first house, having sold it for the mortgage balance to avoid foreclosure, and bought a trashed former rental home from a friend for zero down.

Our son was born a few months after we moved into the former rental, and we were the recipients of the church food baskets that year. I went back to school full time, and got an Associate Degree in programming, while working more than full time and drinking literally 20 cups of coffee every day (plus caffeine pills and cola and lots of vitamin C to fight the chronic sores in my mouth), and sleeping 4 hours a night. Except for one night each week when I'd do an all-nighter studying. With a young child and a job, and a husband who wasn't available enough to help, my wife had a tough go of it. We'd go on a date once every quarter, and through some miracle she stayed with me. Things got better and eventually we paid off our debts (after cashing retirement accounts, selling musical instruments, selling furniture do what you have to do). After several years of spending our vacations working on the house (we have done landscaping, fencing, cement work, masonry, plumbing, roofing, framing, tile, carpet laying, electrical, etc), the house was absolutely beautiful. So it was time to move. Work was going well for both of us and we built a 2,000 square foot, 4-bedroom home with a big front porch. Ahhh...

Many years were spent coaching soccer, playing soccer, reffing soccer, singing and playing music with my wife, going to school activities, and thoroughly enjoying the privilege of being a parent. I believe that for the vast majority of folks, it is impossible to understand the concept of unconditional love until you have a child.

We've have moved across the country and I'm still working as a geek. We've travelled in the South Pacific, Canada, USA, Mexico, France, Switzerland, Italy, Greece and Spain. Our son always travelled with us (until he got married in 2011) and that was truly wonderful. I survived being laid off - from Enron of all places. We moved into our new house here in Florida at the start of 2005. I still believe that most voters need to take a little more personal responsibility to learn about the issues and candidates and to VOTE.

And I believe that honesty is golden. I am extremely proud that my son has grown up to be honest to a fault, and like to think that some of that is from growing up in a family that values honesty and integrity tremendously. I believe that Jesus truly did rise from the dead, and that his mission here was to show us all our true potential -- that we should expect that we shall do even greater deeds. I do not usually label myself 'Christian', as I think that is too confining by most definitions, and often seems to then negate the equally legitimate and valid wisdom of other paths. There have been many saints through the ages, and many are alive today. Most get no recognition and probably prefer it that way - or flat don't care enough to even consider the issue.

The purpose of life is to increase happiness. If the net effect of one's action is to increase the joy in the universe, then the action is probably right. The single greatest task to which any of us can devote ourselves is spiritual evolution - learning and growing and becoming better people.



Collaboration technologies, web development and other geek pursuits. Soccer, music (playing, singing, writing, listening), spiritual evolution, warm sandy beaches with teal water and palm trees. Email me: jrlitton at gmail dot com