Monthly Archives: June 2016

This is Where Everything Changed

Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory painting by Salvador Dali

The Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dali. (Image/dalipaintings.net)

It was unexpected.

It really was.

This is where everything changed.

That’s where I met my wife.

That’s my old apartment.

Whoa. Look at all these new buildings.

Whoa. Our freshman-year dorm is still using the same furniture.

Whoa. They banned tobacco on campus, and we used to smoke right there and there and over there.

The Taco Bell with the drive-thru we used to walk through four or five deep at 3 a.m. is gone, as well as the neighboring corner gas station where we used to buy cigarettes and cheap beer. In its place is a large new commercial development with nice restaurants, a huge Barnes & Noble campus book store, and a Starbucks.

It wasn’t the memories that shook me up, though there are plenty to go around.

It’s the time.

While I was looking over there, the world kept changing over here.

People were walking in and out of new buildings that weren’t supposed to be there. They either didn’t know the buildings weren’t supposed to be there, or had already adjusted.

Things were the same.

And things were different.

We live here in this place. And in other places the hands on the clock keep moving, and everyone living there keeps flipping calendar pages, and younger people move in and make choices and then more things change.

Things always change.

I was just a college student back before the world changed. Just a kid from a small town an hour and a half’s drive from campus.

I didn’t know where I was. A place teeming with knowledge and resources. A vast library. Thought leaders. Curious minds about that, and this, and other things.

I didn’t ask very many to share knowledge with me. When they tried to share it in classes I sometimes attended, I mostly thought about the fun things I was going to do later.

Maybe if I’d read more books and asked more questions and thought more deeply back when I was a student there, I wouldn’t have felt the shock.

Maybe I’d have known better.

Some of my friends from college still live near the city.

One is married with three kids. I’ve known his wife for years, but I’d never met his children.

Here’s this guy I have all of these memories with. And then—bam!—my entire worldview of him changes with an overnight stay at his home.

Three girls, ages 12, 9, and 5. Kind and beautiful, all of them.

The 5-year-old is magic and missing her two front teeth, and I wanted to clone her so I could have one, but don’t tell the 9-year-old because she’s great too, and knows many things about a couple of make-your-own-lip-syncing-music-video apps she thought I needed to have.

I told the sisters I was too shy to make lip-syncing videos, which probably sounded like a lie since their father and I were consuming beer and tequila the night before and seemed presumably less shy.

One of my friends corrected me: “You’re not shy. You’re self-conscious.”

Hmmm. True.

But back over here are these little people who, to me, didn’t even exist five seconds earlier, but now they do, and I love them, but probably not enough to make lip-syncing music videos to share on their favorite apps.

I was 18 when I went to college, but since I could barely remember the first four years of my life, it’s kind of like being 14.

And now 14 more years have passed.

I don’t know where the time and memories go. Like something we drop into a bottomless pit to eventually forget a little bit how things look and feel as they fall further and further away.

Walking through the center of campus on a hot, summer day, there were very few people around. Some incoming freshmen and their parents visiting for orientation. I took photos of this and that. I stopped in various places to sit and soak it in.

All of the familiarity to reacquaint myself with.

And all of the strange and new to get to know.

I would never have stopped to read an inscription back when I was a student there. In the center of campus was a small monument displaying the university seal. On the side was a quote from the university president back in the 1930s when the campus first opened.

I don’t have the quote.

But it talked about the students. It talked about me.

How this place was supposed to help students go on to do things in this world. Something about light. About hope. About truth.

After all of my wasted time and personal failings, what would the collective brain trust think about me?

Proud? Embarrassed? Indifferent?

I don’t think they’d care. I don’t think it would matter if they did. These are just the things I think about.

Because I’m not shy. Just self-conscious.

But not so much then. Not in that different time and place and life all those years ago.

Whoa. That’s where we used to throw the best keg parties.

Whoa. Our favorite old bars are now someone’s favorite new bars.

Whoa. That’s where I used to write with a pen and a notebook.

This is where I dreamed about tomorrow.

This is where yesterday became today.

This is where everything changed.

It really was.

It was unexpected.

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Poor Meal Planning Can End Your Marriage

(Image/quickenloans.com)

(Image/quickenloans.com)

“My DH (Darling Husband) makes me want to kill him over dinner. Kill him. I don’t know why 30 minutes that occur exactly the same way each day can drive us to such rage. Marriages would be so much better without dinner.” – A wife, speaking for many

Before my wife and I were married, we sometimes fought about dinner plans.

I thought it was stupid and wasn’t afraid to say so. Like: Just eat food! Who cares?! I thought.

Figuring out what to do for fun, making sure I was getting to class or work, keeping my schedule clear for Cleveland Browns football games—now THOSE were important.

Having a conversation about what we were eating later that night, or God forbid, later in the week? Who in the hell could ever know what they might want? Why would someone subject themselves to that? And why does it matter?

I didn’t care. It’s because I was 21, and peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, pasta with canned sauce, Hamburger Helper, fast food, pizza, Chinese takeout, and boxed macaroni & cheese weren’t just acceptable—they were awesome.

But she cared. “We can’t eat the same three things every night. People eat dinner, Matt. Eating dinner requires a little thought as to what might be needed from the store to make those meals.”

It all came back to me while reading this comment on an internet message board:

“My H seems to think that dinner is magic and just shows up. No planning, no groceries required, etc. When I ask him on Sunday at 8 a.m. what he wants for dinner, he gets all annoyed. Um, I have to defrost or go to the store. Thanks,” she wrote.

I remember getting annoyed about things like this, too. I’d be watching or reading or playing something, and then my girlfriend/fiancée/wife would have the audacity to ask me what I wanted to eat for dinner.

Sometimes the easy and delicious path of least resistance like ordering pizza would win the day. Other times it wouldn’t because she wanted to, like, eat vegetables and stuff.

On the list of Common Marriage Domestic Disputes I perceive wives to be “right” about that accidentally selfish shitty husbands should come around on if they want to stay married, Dinner was the first one to rear its head in my relationship, and one of the few I actually did a decent job of adjusting to through the years, but maybe that’s only because I have a legitimate passion for cooking.

Dinner is one of those things that starts the long, slow, nearly imperceptible fracturing and eventual breakup of marriages.

It seems like such a harmless and innocuous topic. An argument about dinner? DINNER?! That’s one of those topics boyfriends/fiancés/husbands get pissed about once it transitions from Typical Disagreement to Actual Fight.

Ummm. I LOVE you. LOVE. Stop starting fights over stupid crap like food! Your warped sense of reality is really disturbing!

We do love them, us oblivious guys. But we also think anyone who would FIGHT over what to have for dinner has serious issues. We think we’re cool for giving her a pass. We think we’re loving for staying with her even though this is one of those “batshit-crazy” moments.

Because someone linked to one of my posts in a message board thread, and I clicked on it to discover what it was about, I stumbled on this GBCN (Goodbye Cruel Nest) thread where the original poster asked the community if she was overreacting to a situation with her husband.

The quick-and-dirty version is that she does most of the domestic heavy lifting around the house, mostly taking care of their daughter, and mostly always taking care of housework and dinner prep. For a short time, their routine was interrupted when on Tuesdays, she couldn’t get home until 8:30 p.m. instead of the typical 7 p.m.

When she’d come home and there was no food prepared or thought put into dinner, she asked if he could do that moving forward, and was surprised he hadn’t thought of it on his own. For a few weeks after, he did.

Then, another Tuesday rolled around, and when she got home—no dinner. He forgot, he said.

“It just seems very ‘clueless husband’ to me to be all ‘oh, dinner? you don’t say!’ especially after I have laid out my expectations to him in the past,” she said.

I started reading through the thread.

I was struck once again by how common these Shitty Husband traits seem to be. I thought it was interesting how many wives reported “We’re married to the same husband!” but it didn’t really surprise me because these patterns emerge in divorce story after divorce story to the point where it all starts to look depressingly predictable.

Five different wives (speaking for many!) said essentially the same thing:

“I would be annoyed but that sounds like my husband exactly.”

“I would be mad, but this is totally something my H would do.”

“In short, yes it would drive me crazy, because I’ve seen it happen in my house before. But I’d probably just remind him (‘nag’) over and over in the future.”

“My husband is lovely, but spacey sometimes, so I find it most effective if I articulate expectations.”

“If I don’t spell it out, he’s clueless. He admits this and welcomes a list so he knows what to do. Why stuff that is so simple to us is so difficult for them, I’ll never understand.”

This is hard for wives to understand sometimes, and I don’t know how to explain it, but I’ve tried. I don’t know why it’s so common for men to be oblivious, thoughtless and clueless about things like this.

Probably some combination of parental enabling while growing up and poor boundary enforcement from their partners early in relationships.

Divorce. It’s What’s for Dinner.

Will she REALLY leave you, break up your family, and start a new life because you leave dishes by the sink?

Yep.

And she’ll do the same thing over your failure to help with dinner.

“It would bother me immensely. IMMENSELY.” – A wife, speaking for many

And divorce is so much shittier than meal planning. It really is.

The original author of the dinner post asked whether her anger was justified. Like, borderline-divorce-level pissed.

82% said yes. 93% said yes or maybe.

“The helpless husband act makes me rage. A grown man should be able to use his own brain and realize dinner is a thing that he needs to take care of.” – A wife, speaking for many

When husbands blow off their responsibilities around the house, no matter how innocent the inaction was, nor how irrational they consider their wives to be, they make her feel one of two things: Rage or Like His Mom.

As those experiences pile up, things tend to end badly.

Bad News—You Don’t Get to Dictate What Matters to Other People

I don’t know whether it’s because I was smart, but immature and unwise; or because I was a monumentally huge asshole with zero self-awareness; or because I was actually a dumbass moron, but I used to think my opinions about things were a fair metric for evaluating situations and how I should treat people.

I think I still do this, but tend to recognize it much faster than never, as was the case back then.

My wife was upset about DISHES. How petty! I’m right and she’s wrong, so now I don’t have to care about the thing that’s upsetting her!

My wife was upset about DINNER. Her capacity for love is smaller than mine, therefore SHE is the one who sucks! I know how to really love in marriage and she doesn’t as evidenced by her valuing silly things like meal planning!

The crash back to earth is painful and embarrassing, but I’d encourage everyone to try the life strategy of not automatically assuming you’re right about everything, which forces you to assume the worst about the intellectual and emotional capacity of everyone who disagrees with you.

It’s not a good thing, especially since you’re probably wrong.

My wife wasn’t REALLY upset about the dishes.

“Guys, the point isn’t that [she] and her H could eat a quick dinner. It’s that she cooks on ‘her nights’ (i.e. every night they don’t eat out) and he doesn’t even think of dinner if she doesn’t remind him. It is not on [her] to come up with quick easy meals because her H can’t/won’t cook.” – A wife, speaking for many

My wife wasn’t REALLY upset about the dinner thing.

“I feel like we are giving the H all these excuses for why there was no dinner. We are giving him an excuse that maybe dinner isn’t important to him or not something he cares about.
It doesn’t matter. It was important to [her] that she eat. So even if she came home and he said ‘here honey, I made you a bowl of cereal’ at least it showed that he considered that she may want to eat. He didn’t even consider her needs. She got home and mentioned dinner and he acted like she suggested they paint the living room
Sometimes I make some dinner for my [daughter] and I and I know it won’t last for reheat but I always ask my H when he will be home or I suggest he get something at work because I didn’t make him anything. I always consider his empty stomach.”
– A wife, speaking for many

My wife was upset because when I had numerous opportunities to demonstrate—not even GOOD partnership—but simply EQUAL partnership which would have almost kind of-sort of come close to giving her as much as I was receiving, I didn’t.

It wasn’t intentional.

That was always my defense. Accidental neglect.

Accidentally killing people isn’t nearly as horrible as intentionally murdering them, but the result for the innocent victim is always the same.

A husband must learn to see past the dirty dish, and see past the forgotten or neglected dinner.

A husband must learn to anticipate needs, and actively care and empathize enough to take action, no matter how inconvenient.

That’s what it looks like to shovel the coal necessary to keep the train moving.

Unless, of course, he really misses eating those peanut butter & jelly sandwiches alone every night.

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Life & Love: When Basketball is More Than a Game

LeBron hugs Larry O'Brien trophy

Those bracelets he’s wearing say: “I Promise.” And in a highly unorthodox and unexpected way, he kept a promise made long ago. The implications are bigger than just basketball. (Image/Jose Carlos Fajardo-Bay Area News Group)

Six years ago, I sat in stunned silence on the edge of my living-room sofa with my hands covering the bottom-half of my face.

I couldn’t speak.

I was three years away from getting divorced, so I didn’t know that feeling was a diet version of what I’d experience every day for months a few years later and that it would hurt so much that death would sound more like relief than something to fear.

That feeling.

It’s the life-transforming anguish that sometimes connects readers here to the words on the screen. You’ve either been so afraid, so sad, so angry—so hurt—that you feel mentally and emotionally lost, and spiritually dead, or you haven’t. And when you have, you obtain the superpower of empathy—the life skill of being able to share a moment with someone on a deep and meaningful level because you can feel what another feels, creating powerful and important connections with others.

Six months had passed since I lost my job on Jan. 1, 2010 as part of a corporate downsizing during the worst macroeconomic conditions I’d ever seen.

I was failing my pretty wife. She was sitting on the other sofa with two of our friends who’d come to share the moment.

I was failing my two-year-old son. He was asleep upstairs.

Life was getting hard. But at least we had hope. There’s always hope. Right?

I was still a college student in my home state of Ohio when I first heard about the Akron kid who played basketball like Magic Johnson—an artistic and unselfish facilitator, but could score like Michael Jordan—a hardcourt assassin.

From Ohio?!

From Ohio. “The Chosen One,” Sports Illustrated annointed him a month or so later. A skinny fresh-faced kid unapologetically wearing Jordan’s #23 on his jersey.

He was five years younger than me, and according to the SI article, had Jordan’s private phone number in his cell phone.

The Birth of Hope

It must be hard for non-sports fans to understand. I think it might even be hard for people whose favorite teams win a lot.

That’s not how it has been for sports fans in Cleveland, Ohio. Not since the 1960s.

I’ve heard the narrative—literally—my entire life, watching my favorite football team fumble away championship opportunities as a child. I cried, and my mom got upset because “it’s only a game.”

It’s no secret to anyone paying attention: Cleveland teams don’t win.

Still, we dream.

Still, we hope.

It was almost exactly 13 years ago when a series of events which included a lot of losing basketball and fortunate bounces of ping-pong balls allowed the Cleveland Cavaliers to own the first pick in the 2003 NBA Draft where Akron high schooler LeBron James was the presumptive choice.

Northeast Ohio’s native son.

I sat in joyful silence on the edge of my living-room sofa a thousand miles south in my Florida apartment with my hands covering the bottom-half of my face when James became a Cavalier.

It felt like destiny.

The humble, but confident kid promised to “light Cleveland up like Las Vegas.”

This combination of Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan was the chosen one. A force greater than some silly “curse.” This kid was going to save the downtrodden sports town.

This kid was going to win titles.

It was truly the birth of hope.

And Then the Death of Hope

Then it all went up in flames that night six years ago. The Decision.

Back in Ohio, but unemployed. Not enough alcohol. My little boy, who was supposed to grow up watching James and the Cavs win titles, was asleep upstairs.

My dreams of watching games, sharing moments, and celebrating with him—shattered.

It’s the same thing that happens to us when we divorce. We lose our partners. We lose our families. We lose our homes. But we lose something else you don’t hear many people talk about.

We lose our dreams.

We lose EVERYTHING. We lose yesterday AND tomorrow. Our past memories are poisoned and we realize our future plans are lies.

It’s devastating.

And yeah. It’s not up to the same level, but people who’ve never been divorced can’t tell the difference: You can feel that sitting on your living-room couch watching your favorite athlete tell the world on national television that he’s WILLINGLY dumping your favorite team, his hometown, and moving to the state you’d come back to Ohio from, to join another team.

You’re not allowed to tell me that it didn’t matter, or that Cleveland fans reacted poorly, or that it’s pathetic that adults would let something like a basketball player switching teams affect them so much.

If you’ve never felt totally out of control and as if your heart would stop while fighting tears and trying to remember to breathe at some really inopportune time like a conference room meeting at work, or at a party with friends, then you’ve never felt the crippling power of anxiety.

If you’ve never invested your emotions in athletes on a TV screen or from overpriced seats at a stadium or arena, then I wouldn’t expect you to get it.

It mattered.

This wasn’t just some basketball player moving to another team.

It was rejection.

It was embarrassment.

It was betrayal.

Friends were losing all those nights together at the arena. Local businesses were losing all that income from excited fans. Families were losing all those nights together sitting around the TV sharing the moment. Together.

Fathers had dreams for their sons. Gone.

The Cleveland faithful had taken to calling us Believeland. A laughable name used recently as the title of a film documenting the sports culture in Cleveland—one rife with heartache and disappointment.

Believeland?

Right.

Hope had forsaken these lands.

Our Unfinished Stories

People like to say: “Everything happens for a reason!”

I don’t agree with that because I don’t believe little kids get cancer “for a reason.” But I totally agree with the spirit of the phrase, because I’ve seen it play out time and time again.

As the stories of our lives are written, things which were hard to go through and difficult to understand at the time often prove to be these important pieces of the story which had to occur in order for future good things to happen.

So, it’s not: “Everything happens for a reason!”

It’s: Someday, something is going to happen. Something big and important and beautiful. And when that moment arrives, it will become apparent that the ONLY way that could have happened was for life to work out exactly as it did.

I know I’m just some asshole-nobody, but I like to tell myself that maybe some of the words here can help the right person at the right time. Maybe someone can be a better husband and father and save his family because the right sentence resonated in the right way.

Maybe the ONLY way for me to evolve into a man capable of raising my son to be a good man, or loving a future partner as they’re supposed to be loved, or writing something that matters, was to experience the worst thing that ever happened to me.

Maybe easy is bullshit.

Maybe difficult is the only way.

Maybe that’s where redemption lives.

The Long and Winding Road

When James joined the Miami Heat, a bunch of things happened.

Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert wrote a now-infamous letter assassinating James’ character. I haven’t read it in six years, but I remember Gilbert calling him “the self-declared former king.”

James teamed up with two NBA superstars and became the presumptive championship favorites every year. They went to the Finals all four years he was in Miami, winning the two in the middle.

The Cavaliers got terrible. Losing James created one of the largest freefalls from winning to losing the sports world had ever seen. But when you lose in the NBA, something else happens: You increase your chances of getting high draft picks to select the best players. Which happened.

The Cavs earned another first pick in the NBA Draft, which they used to select a 19-year-old Duke freshman named Kyrie Irving who only played 11 college games due to injury. They had the fourth pick too. They picked a guy from Texas named Tristan Thompson which excited approximately zero Cleveland fans.

Because LeBron grew up around here, and people know people, one of my closest friends told me a story that sounded plausible, if unlikely: LeBron James wants to come back to Cleveland.

Good things don’t really happen to Cleveland sports, so it was easy to dismiss as hopeful fantasy.

But then, another year went by and the whispers turned to internet rumors which turned to national stories: LeBron might come home.

I’d been divorced about a year. Things were mostly still shitty, but I was writing here and choosing hope.

And then it happened: LeBron James announced he was coming back to Ohio, rejoining the Cleveland Cavaliers, and committing himself to ending the 50-year stretch of misery that had become part of the very fabric of the region.

Redemption Song

LeBron James swallowed his pride to return to his homeland, forgiving all the hate and anger thrown his way four years earlier. He hoped fans would embrace him again.

We did, of course. He had us at “I’m coming home.”

He put his ego aside, agreeing to rejoin a team owned by a man who destroyed him in a venomous public letter that will live forever in Cleveland sports lore.

Because of the long and winding road full of unwritten stories, who could have known that the two players picked in the 2011 NBA Draft could have ONLY happened if James was not in Cleveland?

The Cleveland Cavaliers became instant title contenders.

In James’ first year home, the Cavs made it to the Finals. Two of our three best players were injured and couldn’t play. He makes a heroic stab at it, but the Cavs ultimately lose to the Golden State Warriors. Another bullet point on the Cleveland Never Wins Championships resume.

Enter 2016.

The Cavs are just okay. Clearly underachieving, but maybe this is just who they are. Not good enough.

The coach is fired halfway through the season. Meanwhile, the defending champion Warriors are having the best season in NBA history. The San Antonio Spurs (the only other franchise to beat the Cavs in the NBA Finals) is also having a historically great year. Either team looks poised to throttle the Cavs in a hypothetical Finals matchup.

Around the holidays, drink in hand at a birthday party, my friends and I laughed at the situation even though no one considered it funny.

“How CLEVELAND is this?! LeBron wins championships in Miami, comes back to Cleveland where everyone assumes we will finally win one, and then we run into the most dominant team in NBA history!”

Only. In. Cleveland.

People say that around here. People feel that around here.

But then things, just, happened.

The Cavaliers started playing better, dominated in the playoffs, and we found ourselves back in the NBA Finals with the team that knocked us out a year ago.

It was probably going to happen again, too, because this is Cleveland.

The Warriors won the first two games. We’re not good enough.

We won Game 3. Hope?

We lost Game 4 at home. Over. It’s never happened before. No one recovers from 3-1 in a best-of-seven series. All 32 teams who have tried—failed.

But then very non-Clevelandy things happened. One of the Warriors’ best players was forced to miss Game 5. LeBron and the kid we have only because LeBron left both scored 41 points.

We win.

Game 6 is back in Cleveland. LeBron goes for 41 again, because he’s not a normal person.

And then Game 7 was back in Golden State’s home arena, where they’d only lost four times during the entire season and playoffs to that point.

My Florida buddy texted me two days before the game. He was sitting in the room with me the night the Cavs drafted LeBron 13 years ago.

“Percent confidence for you that Cavs win Game 7?”

My brain said we had a shot. My heart damn sure wanted it. But this is Cleveland.

“49%,” I typed back.

I was on the phone with my dad before the game. He told me one of his friends had placed a bet on the Warriors.

I involuntarily said: “Good,” but I really meant “Screw that guy. I’m never talking to him again.”

I was invited to join friends at a big watch party in downtown Cleveland.

I declined. It was Father’s Day.

Just me and my son. A young boy who loves basketball, but is still too young to stay awake through a late-night game.

He fell asleep on the couch next to me, still too young to know that Cleveland never wins.

But in a weird way, this was it. This is what I dreamed about rocking that swaddled baby boy back when the world was still different. When it was better?

Was the world better before the worst thing that ever happened to me, happened?

Could the Cleveland Cavaliers contend for a championship if LeBron never leaves, allowing them to get Kyrie and Tristan?

With 4 minutes and 30 seconds to play, the game was tied 89-89.

I was sipping vodka for medical reasons for the first time since the first couple of months following my wife moving out.

I sat in tensed silence on the edge of my living-room sofa with my hands covering the bottom-half of my face.

No one could score.

And then with 1:55 left on the clock, I finally see how Cleveland will lose. A two-on-one fastbreak with the NBA’s MVP the past two seasons and the guy named NBA Finals MVP against us last year.

The Warriors will make a layup. The fans will go crazy. And that will ultimately prove the difference.

And then, in a split-second, LeBron James flew through the air like a human missile and blocked the would-be layup in the most amazing, powerful, unexpected, iconic, meaningful, magical basketball play I’ve ever seen.

Since a sleeping child was the only other person in the room, I never got to say: “HOLY SHIT. DID THAT REALLY JUST HAPPEN?” so I’m saying it now.

Then, more time ticked off. Still tied at 89.

And with 53 seconds left, Kyrie Irving—the guy who only plays for the Cavs BECAUSE LeBron left Cleveland for four years—makes my new favorite three-pointer, a highlight we’ll be seeing and talking about in Northeast Ohio forever.

A shot block by the kid from Akron. Redemption.

A heroic dagger from LeBron’s unlikely future running mate. Providence.

A memory for every father, mother, brother, sister, son, daughter, friend, neighbor, stranger near or far whose hearts were on the line. A moment.

The kind we usually only have when tragedy strikes. Those uniting Where Were You When…? moments are so rarely joyful for so many people.

Champions.

Cleveland, Ohio.

Believeland.

Champions.

Are you shitting me?

And now everything gets to be different. Because it happened. So now it CAN happen. Belief and hope won’t just be the harmless weapons of the delusional, but the justified tools of people who have been there before.

My little son woke up the next morning with no memory of the night before, despite my efforts to wake him.

“Who won, Dad?” were the first words out of his mouth. “Let me guess: The Warriors,” he continued, sadly.

“Here, kiddo. I have it recorded. Let’s watch the final two minutes.”

“Okay,” he said.

And then I hit the Play button and watched the miracle again.

This time, complete with celebratory hugs with my son. A dream I thought was lost, but wasn’t. Because we don’t always know what will happen next. Because we don’t always understand why yesterday happened. And because we have no idea what’s in store for us at the end of the long and winding road once this next chapter is written.

When do sports matter? Times like this.

When is something silly like basketball more than just a game? On Father’s Day. When curses are dispelled, and dreams come true, and hope returns.

Sometimes Life is a game.

And sometimes, a game is Life.

A moment.

Providence.

Redemption.

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Male Dishonesty & Divorce: Choosing the Man Card Over Succeeding ‘Like a Girl’

unexpressed emotion and dishonesty

(Image/choosehonesty.com)

Men lie constantly.

I think maybe everyone does.

Sometimes, they are classic bald-faced lies: “I didn’t do it!” Even though we all know he did.

Sometimes, they are exaggerated lies, like when basketball and football players’ heights and weights are inflated slightly.

And sometimes, the lies are so subtle and nuanced that most of us don’t even think of them as lies. There is no malice in the deceit. The deception is not to harm others, and in fact, may be to preserve another’s feelings: “No. Seriously. I think you look beautiful with your super-short haircut!” Even though he thinks it makes her looks boyish and hates it. 

But there are many other deceitful moments that seem harmless as they’re happening, and as isolated incidents, probably are. But they’re not isolated. They’re constant. Not “constant” in a hyperbolic way. “Constant” in a That Guy is Wearing a Mask and Hiding Fundamentally True Parts of Himself from Everyone way.

Why?

He wants his Man Card. Even if it kills him.

He wants it to be good enough for his father.

He wants it so he can feel accepted by members of his various tribes—friends, sports teams, fellow soldiers, professional networks, fraternities, hobby groups, social clubs, etc.

He wants it because he believes it will make him attractive to women.

There’s The Man Way® to do things. And all things must be done that way because I’m a man, not some wussy little girl! I’m doing it The Man Way!

And it’s a little bit funny because there’s no universally established Way Men Do Things. Everything depends on culture, environment and behavior models. Wearing Irish or Scottish kilts doesn’t seem “manly” to guys in cultures where men don’t wear kilts. Where I’m from, you’d almost never see guys in pink, and very rarely in purple. Those were “girl” colors. But now, it’s not only common, but fashionable, to wear pink or purple shirts or neckties.

In other words, The Man Way is a constantly moving target, and purely dependent on where a guy lives or the specific culture of a group to which he craves admission or acceptance.

Take beer drinking for example.

Some guys are strictly Budweiser guys. Hell, maybe they even want it canned. And they’re going to drink 10-12 Budweisers because Real Men drink a lot of beer! And don’t you dare try to give him some fancy-boy craft beer like he’s some uppity hipster or metrosexual.

And then other guys are strictly craft beer guys. And maybe they only want draft beer in a pint glass. And they’re going to drink like a refined connoisseur, and if you want an education on beer styles or brewing techniques, this Renaissance Man will tell you all about them. Don’t you dare try to give him some cheap-ass swill like Budweiser. Only Cretans drink piss like that.

But maybe the Bud guys will play along and drink stouts and IPAs in a crowd of craft beer drinkers, and maybe Craft Beer Guy will pound Budweisers out on the boat or golf course with the guys on a hot, sunny day.

And maybe they’ll be just a tiny bit dishonest about their real feelings in order to fit in.

It happens all the time. Probably with everyone, every day.

But when it happens with men because of The Man Card thing, our relationships suffer. When our relationships suffer, the rest of our lives suffer. We take more damage that we brought on ourselves. And then the even-more-damaged versions of ourselves repeat the cycle, but it only gets worse.

We wonder why. Because, we’re MEN. Strong. Logical. Correct.

We’re not little emo girls who sit down to pee, hit from the red tees, drive wimpy cars, play with smaller basketballs, go to the restroom in groups, or do girly things like cry and talk about our feelings.

Men get indignant. No one tried to feminize our fathers and grandfathers! They fought wars and built things with their hands! They’d slap a bitch!

Our identity has so many stakeholders, we think.

Our parents and extended families. Our friends. Our romantic partners. Our kids. And everyone we interact with.

And sometimes we’re not who we really are. We’re who we think we’re supposed to be for everyone else.

I think this is why most divorces happen.

I think the social skills “acceptable” for women to showcase are the life skills necessary to not have shitty relationships, full of fighting, dysfunction, infidelity or sexlessness or every other horrible thing couples suffer from before their eventual divorce.

Divorce damages men HARD. Harder than women, all the experts say, and there are a million reasons why, but the main one is this: As a general rule, wives do way more for marriages and families than men do, so when a marriage ends, it’s harder for a man to maintain his way of life because he can’t replicate nearly as many marriage tasks she performed as she can of his.

I don’t write it much, but I’m not afraid to: Women are demonstrably BETTER—more skilled, more knowledgeable, more capable—at relationship skills than men.

And since I can’t think of anything more influential or important to our daily existence than our relationships, the conclusion is simple:

Male behavior is mostly responsible for the divorce crisis, thus men are the key to solving it.

Step One: Stop Lying to Everyone (Including Yourself)

From The New York Times’ article “Teaching Men to Be Emotionally Honest”:

“I wanted the course to explore this hallmark of the masculine psyche — the shame over feeling any sadness, despair or strong emotion other than anger, let alone expressing it and the resulting alienation. Many young men, just like this student, compose artful, convincing masks, but deep down they aren’t who they pretend to be.

“Research shows what early childhood teachers have always known: that from infancy through age 4 or 5, boys are more emotive than girls. One study out of Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital in 1999 found that 6-month-old boys were more likely to show ‘facial expressions of anger, to fuss, to gesture to be picked up’ and ‘tended to cry more than girls.’

“‘Boys were also more socially oriented than girls,’ the report said — more likely to look at their mother and ‘display facial expressions of joy.’

“This plays out in the work of Niobe Way, a professor of applied psychology at New York University. After 20-plus years of research, Dr. Way concludes that many boys, especially early and middle adolescents, develop deep, meaningful friendships, easily rivaling girls in their emotional honesty and intimacy.

“But we socialize this vulnerability out of them. Once they reach ages 15 or 16, ‘they begin to sound like gender stereotypes,’ she writes in Deep Secrets: Boys’ Friendships and the Crisis of Connection. ‘They start using phrases such as ‘no homo’ … and they tell us they don’t have time for their male friends, even though their desire for these relationships remains.’”

The article’s author Andrew Reiner, hits earlier on the ongoing trend of male and female students, as female academic performance has steadily increased through the years while male performance has not, and how the underlying reason is that young boys believe: Boys Do This, and Girls Do That.

“Better to earn your Man Card than to succeed like a girl, all in the name of constantly having to prove an identity to yourself and others.”

Step Two: Redefine Manhood

Men get pissed at me all the time. They read one of my posts shared on Reddit, or linked to in some forum, or at The Huffington Post, or right here on this blog.

The message is always essentially the same.

“I’m tired of everyone blaming guys for everything! Look at you turning your back on your gender and pandering to women! Look at all these women showering praises on you, but I bet if you wrote about all of the things they do wrong, they’ll tell you what a sexist pig you are! The writer of this blog needs to clean his vagina, because his ex-wife clearly took his balls with her when she left! Women are the real problem!”

And I insta-pity them, along with their wives, girlfriends and children.

Because that guy has no chance. NONE. Not in his current form.

I mean, he might find a subservient wife to cater to his every whim and suffer in silence. He might find a trophy wife who appreciates his substantial wealth and enjoys those financial luxuries without him while he’s away on business. He might find a physical or emotional punching bag to make him sandwiches and give him on-demand oral.

But I don’t think that man can ever have what I perceive to be the foundational thing we need for a life of contentment—one where we enjoy being alive and don’t feel miserable every waking second of every day: Stable, healthy, loving, reliable, energy-giving relationships.

And as long as men collectively believe that The Things You Must Do to Have Healthy Relationships are “girl things,” then I think the institution of marriage is doomed.

If communicating effectively with our partners about the things we think and feel (preferably BEFORE marriage) is a “girl thing,” and therefore bad so we won’t do it, then we have no chance.

If sacrificial love and a willingness to compromise or be influenced by our partners’ wishes is a “girl thing,” and therefore bad so we won’t do it, then we have no chance.

If courageously taking off our masks that hide our real selves from everyone else and protect us from imagined rejection and judgment—if being truly VULNERABLE—with our partners is a “girl thing,” and therefore bad so we won’t do it, then maybe we deserve this fate.

Because the only way to kick ass in your relationships is, in many respects, to play “like a girl.”

And if you’re too much of a wimpy bitch to accept that? Well, you’ll always have your armchair where you can marinate in loneliness and anger while marveling at how young you were in that faded man-card photo.

…..

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Throwing Stones in Our Glass Houses

throwing a stone

Go ahead and set that thing down. (Image/onesteadfast.com)

I hurt my son once and had to take him to the hospital afterward.

When the little person I love most was just 3 or 4, he was doing the thing little kids do where they let their bodies go limp to protest another idiotic parenting command, like going inside the house to potty when they’d rather be outside playing.

When I went to lift him by his hand I’d been holding to get him up the back porch stairs, I yanked harder on his uncooperative little arm than I should have. He started crying and I probably didn’t care.

It didn’t take me long to start caring because he cried longer than kids do when they’re being needlessly dramatic. His elbow was hurt for real. And I caused it. Oh my God. I hurt my son.

His mom and I (we were still married then) took him to the emergency room at the local children’s hospital where I assumed I’d be arrested for child abuse, and the doctor would call me a monster, both of which would have bothered me less than the fact I’d hurt my child.

I wasn’t arrested, nor did the doc eye me suspiciously. Our son was feeling the pain of a slight dislocation so common to young children that it has a non-medical name: Nursemaid’s elbow.

By the next day, his elbow was totally fine.

But I’ll never forget how I felt in that emergency room, nor how I’ve felt any number of other times in which I’ve raised my voice in anger, either scaring him or making him cry.

It’s the same thing I felt when my wife would cry during an argument.

It’s the same thing I’ve (only on TV, fortunately) seen men do when they hit or push their wife or girlfriend resulting in serious injury or death.

One minute, you’re raging. And you say or do something that falls in the “I didn’t mean it” category once regret replaces the anger. And the next minute you feel sorrow. You feel the love and concern return, even though those feelings were absent when you were inflicting mental, emotional or physical damage.

So, which is it?

Who Are We?

Which of those is the Real Us? The angry one? Or the person insta-concerned about the wellbeing of the person they just verbally or physically assaulted?

I want to believe the genuinely concerned, not-angry version is. But I guess I don’t know.

You know what I think about people who physically hurt children? You know how I feel about men who make their wives or girlfriends cry during arguments?

I think they’re assholes, and since I generally trust my gut and opinions, the conclusion is obvious.

I’m an asshole, too.

Dear Assholes, We Can See Inside Your Glass Houses

A man armed with an assault rifle and handgun went inside a Florida nightclub this weekend and opened fire, murdering 49 people and hurting 53 others.

We hear that news, and 99 percent of all sane people are insta-horrified.

But then more details emerge:

The shooter targeted an Orlando nightclub called Pulse which is popular with the gay community.

The shooter worked for a security firm, had weapons training, and legally bought both of the guns recovered by police at a Florida gun shop.

The shooter—American-born but of Middle-Eastern descent—reportedly dialed 9-1-1 and pledged allegiance to ISIS immediately prior to the attack.

Then toss in the fact that an aspiring young pop singer was killed tragically in a random act of gun violence the night before in the same city.

THEN, add in that we’re in the most-heated presidential election in my lifetime during the age of social media.

Mix it all together, and you have a bubbling cauldron of anger, sadness, and fear, creating a massive batch of shit stew which I think might be unprecedented in size and scope from a political and social commentary standpoint.

Here’s what actually happened: A man deliberately took guns into a densely populated place where people were trying to have fun and murdered as many as possible.

What happened next was predictably stupid.

The anti-gun crowd wanted to scream about gun control. As if an ISIS-pledged terrorist couldn’t have used a bomb to kill even more people, and potentially still be alive and on the run.

The pro-gun crowd wanted to scream political conspiracy and opportunism. As if questioning whether a man like Omar Mateen (previously investigated by the FBI for potential terrorist ties) legally buying an assault weapon which he used to murder or hurt 100 people is somehow unfair.

The anti-Obama crowd criticized the president’s comments afterward, because he chose not to speculate on unconfirmed facts during a national address, and because he said things consistent with his well-established political opinions which got him elected President of the United States twice.

The pro-Obama crowd got butt-hurt about the president’s detractors as if he doesn’t have an equally well-established history of avoiding labeling acts of terrorism anything he deems politically incorrect.

Republicans blamed Democrats. If Obama and Hillary would get tough on terrorists, this wouldn’t have happened, some said. Which seems presumptuous.

Democrats blamed Republicans. Because all Republicans love gun violence, invite attacks through racism, promote bigotry by supporting Trump, and oppose marriage equality for gay couples? Please.

People internet-screamed for banning Muslims. Because Banning Things That Scare Us and pigeonholing entire groups of people has proven to be such a wise choice in the past.

Others internet-screamed that white Christians with guns commit way more mass shootings than brown-skinned Muslims. As if the teachings of Christ can in any way be linked to condoning murder.

And then all of that outrage caused even more “Yeah, but…!” internet-screaming.

Fringe members of the anti-religion crowd railed against Christians AND Muslims because organized religion is the real problem, they say. As if most religious people aren’t peaceful, or responsible for an ENORMOUS amount of good that’s done on behalf of humanitarian causes globally.

Fringe members of religious groups pounced on the opportunity to condemn the homosexual lifestyle. Because their sin and human failings are somehow more pure and noble than those of the gay community.

It’s healthy to acknowledge your assholeishness. You instantly become less of an asshole the second you do so, as a self-aware asshole is infinitely more tolerable than a self-righteous one.

Few things anger me like hypocrisy and unfairness. Who sucks more than the Holier-Than-Thou crowd?

The self-righteousness on display from people politicizing a mass murder is as disgusting and nauseating a thing as I’ve ever witnessed.

I hope Muslims understand why random acts of violence in the name of terrorism is a scary thing for the average American family, and ignorant people sometimes have a guilt-by-association mentality about it. I’m Catholic. For the rest of my life, I have to answer questions about the systematic cover up of a vast sex-abuse scandal within my faith.

Even though zero Catholic or Christian teachings say: “Sexually abusing kids is okay!,” and even though the vast majority of Catholic priests are fantastic, kind, principled men who make enormous personal sacrifices to serve as spiritual leaders and would never harm a child, Catholics—especially Catholic priests—must now deal with the scrutiny and questions about child molestation. It unfairly comes with the territory.

I know what it’s like to have people make ignorant assumptions about what they think my beliefs are.

I’m no expert on Islam, but my rudimentary understanding is that it is a religion which promotes peace, and condemns violence. Extremist violence is rooted in politics—not faith. According to things I’ve read, the word “Jihad,” is SUPPOSED to mean “to struggle for God.” To live well, spiritually. It’s HARD to walk the walk in our spiritual lives. It requires commitment and discipline. That’s something I understand and can relate to.

And now the word has been compromised. An ancient teaching to fight against oppression has been perverted by some into “kill anyone who doesn’t agree with us.”

People do bad things. Others get scared. The scared people do bad things in response. And round and round we go. You know, like the breakdown of pretty much every marriage that ends badly.

Every person alive is someone who had ZERO say in where they were born, who their parents are, how they were raised, or what they were taught by their childhood influencers and adult behavioral models.

I’m in no way condoning ignorance, stupidity, and certainly not behavior which harms other people. But human beings are a little bit hamstrung by the whole We Can’t Know What We Don’t Know thing.

We are born.

If we’re lucky, we have parents who love and care for us and teach us things which help us grow into functional people who contribute positively.

If we’re unlucky, we don’t have parents who do those things.

In EITHER case, we only know what we see, read, hear, feel, experience, and are taught by the people who earn our trust. We only know as much as we can with the resources of our schools, or books we have access to, or teachers who share knowledge, etc.

There are exceptions, but we by and large grow up following in the footsteps of our parents and the people who surround us growing up.

Children born to Buddhist parents in Thailand tend to grow up practicing Buddhism.

Children born to Hindu parents in India tend to grow up practicing Hinduism.

Children born to Muslim parents in Iran tend to grow up adhering to Islamic teachings.

Children born to Christian parents in Texas tend to grow up practicing Christianity.

Children born to Jewish parents in New York tend to grow up practicing Judaism.

Maybe kids raised by gay couples think having a mom and dad is weird.

Maybe kids raised by atheists need to witness a miracle to believe in God.

Maybe kids raised by liberal parents in San Francisco can’t help but think the kid raised by conservative parents in Utah is a bigoted, oppressive, close-minded and dangerous fascist, and maybe the Utah kid can’t help but think the liberal kid is a Constitution-hating, baby-killing, unholy and dangerous Marxist.

How to Be Less Assholeish

Maybe we could try not hating or being afraid of people who disagree with us. One of the best things I’ve ever done (and this is mostly in the past three years following my Ah-Ha Moment RE: shitty husbandry) is learn to embrace trying to understand people who disagree with me.

It’s hard and it’s scary, but it’s worth it.

Possible outcomes:

  1. You learn something you didn’t know.
  2. You teach someone something they didn’t know.
  3. You eliminate a false belief or help someone else do so.

All of these are good things.

People are afraid of terrorism, so they demonize religion.

People are afraid of societal desensitization to and acceptance of openly homosexual relationships, because they believe it’s immoral.

One asshole pastor in California reportedly said the shooting victims in Orlando got what they deserved. He posits that because they were in a gay club and presumably homosexual, that they were an immoral scourge on society who deserved to be murdered.

A CHRISTIAN PASTOR TOLD A GROUP OF PEOPLE THAT MURDERED PEOPLE WHO HAPPENED TO BE GAY DON’T WARRANT MOURNING.

Any Christians out there wondering why people lacking good information about Christianity who read that might frown upon Christianity and perpetuate false beliefs afterward?

Anyone wondering why gay people might feel hated or oppressed, and how that seems to clash with purported Christian beliefs?

Anyone out there connecting dots about how hateful actions in the name of other religions might paint similarly inaccurate and unfair pictures of certain people?

Anyone out there think God hates people dancing in a club, but loves church leaders who casually dismiss mass murder?

Anyone out there wondering whether THAT might be the problem?

The exact same thing that happens to so many married couples—people who VOWED to love one another forever? Is it any wonder two strangers from opposing camps or opposite sides of the world have conflict?

STOP. BEING. ASSHOLES.

We all live in glass houses, messing up, and feeling fear, and falling short.

They’re not the only ones messing up. Maybe we can encourage them.

They’re not the only ones afraid of things they don’t understand. Maybe we can comfort them.

They’re not the only ones falling short. Maybe we can let them jump on our shoulders.

And maybe they’ll offer the same in return.

And maybe we’ll have the strength because we finally stopped throwing stones.

…..

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The Lazarus Theory: Bringing Relationships Back From the Dead

ECG heart monitor

(Image/stock-clip.com)

They say the opposite of love isn’t hate, but indifference.

I don’t believe that. I think hate is love’s antonym. But if I’ve realized anything in life that could be described accurately as wisdom, it’s that what I believe doesn’t mean anything.

Your beliefs are crap. Sorry. I don’t mean your beliefs are untrue. They may be 100-percent true. I mean simply that us believing something doesn’t make it true.

Examples of common beliefs which are in dispute or known to be false:

A jolly and overweight man named Santa Claus delivers gifts to children worldwide in a flying sleigh pulled by magical reindeer in one night.

Bill Cosby is a good guy.

Bats are blind.

It’s hard to admit because we love to believe we’re somehow in on The Secret, and all who disagree are incorrect dumbasses.

All religions, political affiliations, fields of study, or groups of any kind and size—including two-person romantic relationships—are comprised of human beings who believe things. Some, possibly most, of those beliefs aren’t true.

It’s terrifying to consider the implications of believing in things which might not be true. Devout members of every organized religion on Earth are totally convinced they have unique knowledge of Absolute Truth and the mysteries of the universe. Impassioned atheists think people who believe in God are totally insane and irrational. Like you might feel about a 50-year-old educated adult convinced of the Tooth Fairy’s existence.

When you challenge your core beliefs, the very foundation of your life shakes and you feel unsteady.

The devout might wonder: What if everything I believe is a lie? What if that other belief system is true?

The atheist might think: What if I spent my life denying the existence of that which gave me life? What if I’ve been wrong this entire time?

I think astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson said it best, and I’m more than okay with you replacing the word “Universe” with “God” because Tyson’s oft-repeated statement applies to both:

“The universe is under no obligation to make sense to you.”

The thing that always makes me feel better is this: The truth will always hold up to hard questions and scrutiny.

The Death of a Marriage

My wife didn’t think I loved or respected her as a husband should because my actions and words throughout our marriage didn’t reflect what she believed to be consistent with the behavior of husbands who love and respect their wives.

I didn’t think she thought “correctly” during our disagreements, defaulting to a position of believing her to be illogical, and therefore—wrong. I didn’t think I was responsible for her emotions (and there are healthy boundaries to be enforced on that subject), but when you’re not even speaking the same language, it’s really disheartening to learn later that things you did which said “I’m going to go do this other thing right now, since you don’t like it!” translated loosely to: “You don’t matter, and I value mindless distraction more than I do all of the things you think and care about!”

Everyone was wrong.

But we believed things. And our daily choices reflected those beliefs, and slowly but surely, killed our marriage. Not with a bomb, or a gunshot or a violent stabbing.

But a slow, indiscernible poisonous drip. So slow, we never realized we were dying.

We just woke up one day… dead.

The night she told me she didn’t love me nor know whether she wanted to remain married wasn’t the night the marriage died. It’s simply when I finally got around to checking for a pulse and realized there wasn’t one.

As the more astute member of our marriage (and I believe wives are just that—the ones typically in tune with relationship health), she’d figured it out a long time before that. Maybe she was just too afraid to say it out loud.

At first, I did the thing I always did—acted like a victim and someone who was getting totally hosed since I never did anything wrong.

Then I retreated to the guest room, saying I wasn’t comfortable sleeping in the same bed as someone who said she didn’t love me nor wanted to stay married.

Every day was bad. The walking dead. Roommates wearing masks for a little boy at home and everyone else we knew.

What were we holding on for?

We wanted to bring it back to life, I guess.

Can a Dead Relationship Come Back to Life?

Tina said: “Would love to hear your thoughts on if marriages can ever be brought back from the brink to a healthy place.”

Here’s a common marriage or long-term relationship scenario:

Two young people meet in their late teens or early twenties. Everything’s all feelingsy and lusty and wonderful as such things typically are. They’re at the age where people meet “The One.” They’re following The Life Blueprint. This is just what people do!

She dreams of a beautiful wedding and family life together. He realizes he needs to settle down at some point, and she’s really great, and maybe they share the same general life goals and long-term plans.

He starts giving up some of his young bachelor activities, which may include parties, something sports-related, or any number of hobbies.

He spends less time with his buddies, and more time with her. Maybe his friends chide him for being “whipped.” Maybe when he chooses a night out with the guys, she protests because it makes her feel like he’s only thinking about himself and not “us.”

Sometimes they fight. The trigger might be different each time, but may ultimately prove to be the same fight they always have for the rest of their relationship.

Both of their boundaries are being violated, but they lack the maturity and wisdom to identify or discuss them peacefully. They don’t know these problems won’t magically go away and that their lives will suck as a result. No one ever talked to them about any of this before. His guy friends say: “Girls are just like that, dude! Mine’s the same way!” And her girlfriends say: “Do you love him? I know you do. He’s totally the one!”

She’s more eager to seal the deal than he is. It’s a security thing, and maybe some of her friends already have rings. He’s hesitant for a variety of reasons, ranging from fears of being “tied down,” to self-doubt, to financial concerns, but in the end thinks: “I’m more afraid of losing her than I am of marrying her.”

He gets a ring and proposes and she says yes.

They marry, assuming they’re doing so for life, with good and honest intentions.

Routine develops. She starts noticing ways in which she’s forced to work harder because of him if she wants her life and house to look the way she wants them to. She tells him about it. Leaving his pants on the bed. Leaving his socks on the floor. Leaving his dishes by the sink.

When she says something, he thinks it’s irrational nagging. She’s so ungrateful. How many MORE things do I need to change about myself before she’ll finally be happy?!

When he continues to do the things that cause more work for her, she thinks it’s because he doesn’t love her or value the marriage.

It feels like neglect, and morphs into resentment. After the same fruitless argument over many months and years, she starts to feel like his mother, and loses feelings of attraction for him.

Her resentment and sexual disinterest makes him feel as if she doesn’t love or respect him.

The next bad thing that happens—a major health or financial blow, or life trauma like a death in the family—will be the nail in the coffin.

The love withers on the vine. Then dies.

Then sometimes this funny little thing happens: the husband who had his head in the sand for most of his relationship now realizes his marriage, family and very way of life, are in jeopardy. He freaks. Because even though his wife doesn’t believe it, he really DOES love her.

He goes into Super Husband Mode, where he eager-beavers around the house every day in a last-ditch effort to show his wife he can be a good husband.

Sometimes, it’s genuine.

Sometimes, it’s bullshit.

In my experience, she’s unwilling to gamble any more of her heart or years away, regardless.

And then—like some smoke that he tried too hard to hold—she’s gone.

The Lazarus Theory

The second most famous resurrection story in the bible involves a man named Lazarus. He was a friend of Jesus and got really sick. His sisters tracked down Jesus, asking him for help. He sat tight for a couple of days, and then made the journey to Lazarus’ town. He eventually arrived to learn Lazarus died and had been laid to rest in the burial tomb four days earlier.

Lazarus’ sisters weren’t keen on the idea, but Jesus told some guys to roll the stone away from the tomb. As the story goes, with a crowd of mourners surrounding the tomb, Jesus called for Lazarus to come out. “Lazarus, come forth!” he commanded.

And, per the story, Lazarus—dead four days—walked out, alive.

As far as I know, people who die mostly stay that way.

I’ve never seen anyone flatline and then come back to life, though I’ve heard stories. Some are probably true.

Marriage is really hard. That’s why it fails half the time even though people wish it didn’t.

I was in a dead marriage that I wanted to come back to life. It never did.

I hear story after story after story from blog readers. Usually, a sad, angry or indifferent wife is exhausted with her shitty husband and ready to leave. Sometimes, I hear from a distraught husband who is trying and failing with Super Husband Mode.

It’s too little, too late.

I’ve heard of sick relationships being nursed back to health.

But, dead ones?

Guys write me and say: “I really DO love her! I’m freaking out, and I’m trying really hard to save our marriage! Do you have any thoughts on how?”

It makes my stomach hurt a little, because that was me a few years ago. Sometimes I say I’m sorry. Sometimes I offer words of encouragement. And sometimes I tell them the truth: I HAVE seen a few dead marriages get a second chance, but it came with a price—one of them had sex with someone else first.

I’m sure there are outliers, and people who buck the trends or overcome the odds. I just don’t see it often.

You see, it doesn’t matter what’s true. It doesn’t matter that, unless you’re going to stay single for the rest of your life, there is no compelling reason to try and replace your partner under the false belief that the replacement might somehow magically not present conflict or emotional turmoil. (Second marriages fail more often than first marriages.)

It doesn’t matter that the marriage died because of years and years of the husband and wife believing things about one another’s words, actions and intentions that were never true.

With love, it doesn’t seem to matter what’s true. It only matters what people believe.

But our beliefs are crap. We are constantly missing information about what someone else—even someone close to us—thinks, feels and believes. So our brains fill in the blanks with guesses, and our bodies feel whatever those guesses are.

He doesn’t love me. She’s illogical and overly emotional.

We believe so many things.

There’s the way things are. And there’s the way things should be.

Do things come back from the dead?

I’ve never seen it. But I’ve heard stories. Some are probably true.

Can an extinguished flame be rekindled? Can a broken heart be healed? Can a dead love be brought back?

I’ve never seen it. But I’ve heard stories. Some are probably true.

But on this particular topic, it doesn’t really matter what’s true.

Only what you believe.

Can you? Can’t you?

Choose.

…..

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The Worst Thing Wives Do

crime scene

(Image/iStock)

During our first year of marriage, my wife was so unhappy living in Florida that she wanted to move back to her parents’ house a thousand miles away and live with them instead of me, not knowing when or if I’d find a job back in our home state that would allow me to move there and be with her.

If anyone’s curious about when I started losing self-assuredness and questioning my self-worth, now you know.

Long before I was accidentally (but egregiously) a shitty husband, I was just a young guy trying to figure things out.

I didn’t know that’s what I was doing. The younger me spent a lot of time coasting through life, living for the next fun thing, and almost no time thinking about how my actions affected others, or what I could do to be a better person.

I was a young newspaper reporter, just a few years removed from college, living in a Florida beach town and writing business stories at a daily newspaper.

We got married when we were 25. In front of a few hundred people in a pretty Ohio church where people came from all over the country to support us. Family. High school friends. College friends.

It was a good day. A good day that represented everything we wanted our life to be after discovering that whatever good the sunny beach life brought us didn’t outweigh for us the negative consequences of missing the company, support and comfort of being around long-time friends and family.

As easy as it was for me to find a newspaper gig in the economically vibrant conditions Florida enjoyed in 2002, it was excruciatingly difficult to find newswriting jobs in the economically depressed conditions Ohio was experiencing a few years later.

Many people don’t understand the challenge, but I’ll explain it. Before financially viable online journalism existed, a newspaper reporter had the following choices: 1. Get a job with a city’s daily paper (of which there is usually just ONE). 2. Get a job with a business or alternative weekly newspaper. 3. Get a magazine job. 4. Abandon journalism.

I was just 25, and the macroeconomics of print journalism’s future hadn’t become obvious to me. I still believed I’d ultimately end up as a reporter for a large metro daily newspaper in one of the Ohio cities, or maybe even land an Ohio-based gig with The Wall Street Journal, the paper with which I was totally smitten.

But we have to walk before we can run, so while I had already begun forging relationships with editors at the big papers, it wasn’t realistic to think I could jump right from my first reporting job at a mid-sized daily to a major metro paper without a few years at another mid-sized paper first.

I stayed in touch with editors at all the viable papers, sending them front-page stories I was proud of, and keeping my name and resume in front of them.

Every so often, I’d be invited to fly up for a job interview.

That was exciting at first. My wife would light up with the possibilities. We’d tell our parents. We’d tell our friends back home. We’d poke around at real estate listings that were totally out of our price range and dream a little dream of a fairytale life where everything was perfect and beautiful.

Then, one by one, I’d fly back to Florida from each interview hopeful that this time it’s going to work!

I liked making her happy. I liked giving her things. I liked feeling as if she was proud of me.

But, of course, one by one, I’d get news that the newspaper was going to hire someone else. Someone who lives closer. Someone who better understands the banking industry. Someone with previous experience covering city hall. I either didn’t have enough experience, or I was going to be too expensive for the Ohio economy.

And one bit of bad news after another, she was crushed.

We were up here. High. Hopeful.

“Thank you for your interest in career opportunities with our company. We’re sorry, but at this time we’re moving forward with another candidate. You’re going to be an excellent reporter someday! Please stay in touch! We’ll be sure to keep your resume on file.”

Then we were down here. Low. Disappointed.

Close family members fighting scary health problems piled on the pressure. She felt helpless and far away.

Every failure to get a job offer represented me failing my new wife. I couldn’t give her the thing she wanted most: Home.

The High Crimes of Wives

I’ve written twice about what I’ve identified as the worst thing I’ve ever done to my wife. The second time, people got really upset with me about it.

It helped me (and hopefully all the male readers) understand just how big of an emotional trigger the subject of child birth and husband support actually is.

From the discussion came a question I’ve been kicking around since:

Taylor asked: “Question Matt: this abandoning wife in childbirth is evidently a very common husband sin of cosmic proportions; what is the wife equivalent? I’m guessing there is at least one really common wife sin of cataclysmic proportions that women just don’t get that is comparable to the shitty husband cop-out we’ve been discussing.”

I’m not comfortable speaking on behalf of men on this one. I’m not confident there is a critical mass of husbands who ever experience the unique circumstances which brought this on.

As always, I only know what happened to me.

Symbolically, What is Marriage?

Everyone has their own take.

Here’s what I thought it was: Two young people leaving the nests of life with their parents, and building a new nest with each other.

If you and your parents are the innermost ring in your life, when you marry, your spouse replaces them as the innermost ring. Then, your parents move out to the second ring in our little personal Who Do We Love Most? solar systems.

That’s what I was taught. That’s what I believed. And that’s how I felt inside.

One day, she looked me in the eye and said she wanted to move a thousand miles away to go live with her parents in Ohio and leave me alone in our Florida apartment.

I died a little inside.

In our first year of marriage, and at a time when we didn’t have the financial resources to buy airline tickets.

I didn’t have the gut-level emotional reaction I had during our separation and torturous march toward divorce, but—for me—that was very bad.

Very bad.

So bad, that—not unlike how I imagine my wife might have reacted had a crystal ball owner told her she was marrying a guy who would leave the hospital the night of her only child’s birth—if someone had told me the person I wanted to marry would choose her parents over me within the first year of marriage, I would not have married her.

Maybe we can chalk it up to young people not knowing how to express themselves honestly or ask the right questions.

So, what does that mean? What do you call that?

I’m not sure.

The person I had mentally, emotionally and spiritually replaced my parents with, didn’t do the same for me.

It made me feel as if geography and her parents were more important to her than her marriage. It made me feel something less than loved. It made me feel as if she didn’t trust that I could ever be enough for her.

Maybe those things are true. Maybe they’re not. I know better than to presume I know what other people are thinking.

I didn’t think I was committing a major crime when I left the hospital that night. I didn’t know that would be such a defining moment in our marriage. No matter what you think, I didn’t know.

I’m quite certain my perfectly decent and well-intentioned wife didn’t think she was causing significant emotional harm by wanting to be with her family, which because of health issues, was for more than just selfish reasons. I don’t think she knew that would impact me as it did.

We were just kids. Kids dreaming our dreams.

So, what’s the crime? Making him feel as if he’s not enough, and intentionally or otherwise, rubbing his nose in it.

She couldn’t trust me to be enough. And in the end, I suppose I proved her right.

And now we dream new dreams.

…..

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What Will I Tell My Son To Help Him Avoid Divorce?

Father Son talk

(Image/Marsha Rakestraw)

Lynda asked: “My question for you is: what are you going to say to your son to teach him how to have a healthy relationship as he grows up? What seeds are you going to plant to help break the cycle? I have only a few years left with my boys under my roof to teach them what they need to know, and I don’t want to feel like they are doomed, given the family history. What are your thoughts?”

Divorce is very bad.

People often downplay it, A. Because it’s so common, “Can it really be THAT bad?” B. Because our parents did it, or we did it, and we’re all world-class experts at rationalizing our behavior no matter how sucky the behavior is, and C. Unless you’re the one getting divorced, or are intimately involved, it doesn’t cause much trauma. So when we hear about another divorce we all just kind of shrug and think: That’s a bummer! They seemed totally fine! or That makes sense! They never seemed right for each other!

But yeah. It can really be THAT bad.

Cancer is super-common too, but we take it pretty seriously.

Our sucky behavior is sucky regardless of our rationalizations, and even the best of humanity hurts other people sometimes, even if only by accident.

And I think it might take getting divorced yourself (while not wanting to) to fully appreciate what it’s capable of doing to your insides. Some people LOVE divorce, because it helped them escape a horrible situation.

Maybe my ex-wife feels that way. I hope not, but since I’m not inclined to ask, I’ll probably never know.

Setting aside the societal trickle-down effects of divorce for a second, the emotional and psychological fallout alone strikes me as one the things people don’t talk about enough. Because I simply didn’t know. Even when I was afraid of my marriage ending and having trouble sleeping every night, and even after 30 years of life experience as a child of divorce, I DID NOT KNOW.

Maybe because it’s another We Can’t Know What We Don’t Know thing. (I guess everything is.)

We live, and we learn.

The end of my marriage destroyed me internally and fundamentally changed me.

The “me” that existed for 33 years ceased to exist because I became someone else. That’s a painful process. It was the crying that gave it away. That’s not something I spent a lot of time doing post-childhood. But then I got divorced, and it happened a lot.

And when toughness is a virtue you admire, every little breakdown is another reminder of what a failing loser you grew up to be. And then maybe you cry some more.

On top of the brain and heart stuff, there’s the logistical fallout and ripple effects. Logistically, divorce makes you poorer, because it takes away your money, and something even more valuable—your time.

It was one of the first things I realized when my young son went from being home daily, to half the time: I just lost half of my son’s childhood. Ask any parent how fast 18 years goes before the little people they love most leave the nest. With 13-ish years to go at the time of the split, the truth hit me hard and fast: I just lost seven years.

I’m not shy about calling divorce the great social crisis of our time. It’s an epidemic that really hurts people while it’s happening, and then makes the lives of all involved a little worse every day afterward, even after the emotional wounds have scarred over.

Only about 1 percent of couples are going through divorce at any given time, so it’s easy to look the other way and act like we don’t have a big problem on our hands. But over 15 years, half of all couples will divorce. Nobody who hasn’t yet divorced believes it will happen to them. And most of the people who survive the emotional crucible post-divorce move on with their lives and don’t get involved afterward, even though everyone who remarries divorces even more frequently than the one-marriage couples.

Children of divorced parents have nearly triple the emotional problems, drug use, arrests—and are more likely to drop out of school and have unwanted pregnancies, according to Dr. Brunilda Nazario.

The risk of divorce is 50 percent higher when one spouse comes from a divorced home, and 200 percent higher risk when both of them do, says Nicholas Wolfinger, a professor of family and consumer studies at the University of Utah and author of Understanding the Divorce Cycle: The Children of Divorce in Their Own Marriages.

Children of divorce are also 50 percent more likely to marry another child of divorce, he said.

The only way to address divorce is for a cultural shift to take place where people learn effective relationship skills.

I don’t mean: “A happy wife is a happy life!”

Nor: “Marriage is hard work! You must work together and compromise!”

Nor: “Never go to bed angry!”

I mean real-life, hardcore, make-people-uncomfortable, mask-removing, road-less-travelled conversation and behavior to help people go from ignorant (which most of us are) to enlightened on all things related to relationships.

We teach kids about past-participles and the Pythagorean Theorem and the French & Indian War and many other things long-forgotten from my school days. But we don’t teach (or even bother trying) kids relationship skills, and provide important information about the basics of effectively communicating and co-existing with other people (romantically or otherwise).

Maybe someday, that will change. I hope so.

Meanwhile, the only thing we can do is talk to our children and try to help them learn these things so they can slowly chip away at the problem and experience less horribleness in adulthood than we did.

Today’s kids have Generation X and Millennials as their relationship role models, which in their current states, shouldn’t inspire much confidence in the future of long-term relationships.

But We Still Have to Try

Cancer continues to vex medical researchers and practitioners, but we continue to fight.

The complexities of human relationships are such that we’ll never be able to hand someone a reliable instruction manual on how to succeed. So we’ll do the best we can.

Lynda asked me what I will tell my son. No one has ever asked me that before.

There’s almost no reason to think my son will listen to me.

No matter how many times I tell him his made-up word “Eccleest” is actually two words he already knows well (“at least”), he continues to say “Eccleest” instead. No matter how many times I demonstrate that being 37 should afford me some trust on matters of both fact and educated guessing, he continues to—on a case-by-case basis—behave as if I’m the world’s biggest moron on matters of disagreement since one of his friends and/or grade school teachers once told him something he believes contradicts whatever I’m saying.

He certainly loves his father, and is super-impressed with my ability to add large numbers together in my head (even though I could totally give him the wrong answer, and he wouldn’t know the difference because he doesn’t confirm it with a calculator), but if he doesn’t WANT to agree with or listen to me, it doesn’t matter that I can prove 2+1=3. If he wants it to equal 79 million—to him, it will.

It’s a natural handicap brought partially by his age, and mostly because he’s a blend of genetic code produced by his mom and I. In the You Should Listen to Your Parents game, little man never had a chance.

What Will I Tell Him?

That the romantic couples he sees in the movies are a lie.

I’ll tell him that—just like so many things he sees on TV—that’s not real. It’ll be some innocence-robbing shit, too. Like when he inevitably discovers in the next year or two there isn’t actually a Santa Claus. I kind of feel sorry for him. Robbing him of hope and optimism on the romantic front. But it’s exactly what I’m going to do anyway.

I’m going to teach him what real love is. I’m going to show him how it’s a choice to be made. And that when two people are willing to make that choice every day, no matter what, there WILL be legitimate romance sometimes. Not always! Nothing is always. But sometimes. And that just because forever-love looks a little less exciting and like a hell of a lot more work than fairytale-love, it doesn’t mean it can’t be beautiful.

I’m going to tell him how HARD marriage is. Over and over and over again. Not to discourage him. To prepare him. And not to scare him. But because it’s true.

I’m going to teach him (and if I can’t, I’ll find someone who can) what it means to define your core values and vigilantly enforce personal boundaries so that his life won’t suck.

I’m going to help him understand that all those little things running around his head that he’s too scared to talk about are byproducts of fear, anxiety and insecurity (and that FEAR is really the only thing we should be afraid of). I’m going to teach him one of the most important lessons so many people don’t understand: YOU ARE NOT THE ONLY ONE.

I’m going to help him recognize that being honest (like, uncomfortably honest) with his partner is awesome, because then he can wake up every day knowing the real him (and not the mask-wearing pretender other people think he is) is truly loved and accepted.

I’m going to teach him what empathy is and make sure he can prove to me that he understands it because it’s the skill he will need most in order to succeed in his relationship.

I’m going to teach him that his marriage can’t be about HIM. That if he’s marrying for himself, he’s doing it wrong. It’s going to be for the person he chooses to marry and any future children he might have.

When he’s old enough, I’m going to tell him that pornography destroys relationships, but maybe not for the reasons he might think.

And I’m going to tell him that the one surefire way to turn a female partner into someone who resents him and loses all feelings of attraction toward him, is to put her in the position of having to do things for him that his mom did.

I’m going to tell him that his mom and I splitting up is the worst thing that ever happened to me, and that he shouldn’t marry until he can demonstrate mastery of all of these concepts and life skills so that he can recognize a partner who understands them too, and teach any children to do the same.

I’m going to make DAMN SURE he understands what hedonic adaptation is. That it happens to EVERYONE about EVERYTHING—including romantic partners.

I’m going to help him really understand that the grass isn’t greener over there.

How?

What am I going to tell him?

The truth.

…..

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Is a Child More Important Than a Gorilla?

Harambe

RIP, Harambe. Thank you for the opportunity to ask important questions. (Image/Reuters)

By now you probably know the story: A four-year-old boy crawled through some bushes and fell 15 feet to the bottom of a gorilla exhibit at the Cincinnati Zoo.

A 17-year-old, 419-pound male western lowland silverback gorilla (an endangered species) named Harambe emerges from a cave to find the little boy (whose name is Isaiah).

Eyewitnesses recorded it on their phones of course because that’s what we do now, which is somehow both awesome and horrible.

The male gorilla appears to help Isaiah to his feet. In the video, you can hear people screaming and freaking out. Harmabe’s like: Ugh. STFU, humans. Then, as gorillas do with their infants, he pulls him by the leg through the gorilla enclosure. In normal gorilla terms, it’s all pretty innocuous. At the Cincinnati Zoo, with a small human child involved, it’s terrifying.

Zoo staff hurriedly evaluated the situation, and quickly determined they’d have to put Harambe down to save the child. Tranquilizing 419-pound gorillas is apparently NOT a speedy process. Attempting to would have jeopardized Isaiah’s life as Harambe could have spazzed out pretty hard after being shot with tranq darts, zoo officials said. A rifle shot ended Harambe’s life. Tragically. That’s not in question.

Then the internet did what it always does when things like this happen. It internet-screamed. It internet-screamed in Facebook comments, on Twitter, and in the comments under news articles posted all over the world.

Harambe, the gorilla, is dead despite doing nothing wrong. Many people, if not most, are wondering whether Isaiah’s parents should be held accountable for Harambe’s death.

And at this point, I’m in lockstep agreement with the planet.

OMG, I’m so glad the boy’s okay!

OMG, that’s horrible they had to shoot the gorilla!

OMG, how did a little boy seriously get INSIDE a gorilla exhibit at the zoo with no adult able to stop him?!

But then the conversation took a turn.

People were questioning whether a human child’s life was worth killing an innocent gorilla.

Some suggested that because there are 7.4 billion people and gorillas are facing extinction, that maybe the gorilla’s life is actually more valuable than the boy’s.

Others countered that humans have souls and animals do not, sparking further debate about faith and religion, as some people argued the concept of souls was a made-up fairytale, while others argued that animals do have souls that are more pure than most humans’ will ever be.

Hmm. Heavy things here.

Heavy things which beg the question: How do we rank living things?

Do People Matter Most?

No need to beat around the bush. That is THE question.

Does a little boy matter more than a gorilla?

I was married to someone who would cry when an animal died tragically in a movie (even one we weren’t attached to as part of the story), but wouldn’t bat an eye when a person died in the same story.

I thought it was weird.

But the older I got and the more people I met and the more things I read, the more I realized there were super-hardcore animal lovers who aren’t shy about telling you they’d likely rescue a dog over a person if faced with the choice.

There are people who simply like and care about animals more than they do other people.

That was a foreign concept to me for years because of my upbringing. Let’s talk about that, because our individual upbringings are totally responsible for shaping our thoughts on such things.

Growing Up Me

I was raised Catholic in a small Ohio town where most people were politically conservative.

While I was never a farmer nor a hunter, both farming and hunting were a common way of life where I’m from.

We are taught that God created all things. The Bible is typically where the philosophical buck stops. In other words—whatever the Bible says is true, and everyone else is wrong. But since the original text was written in Hebrew and Aramaic (Old Testament) and Greek (New Testament), even the Bible itself is debated intensely.

Husbands and wives don’t understand one another while speaking the same language and standing in the same room.

It’s little wonder that meaning and intent is difficult to decipher in words written thousands of years ago in ancient tongues and using ancient cultural references and communication styles.

But there’s not a ton of ambiguity in the very first chapter of Genesis—the first book of the Bible.

Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

And then my ancestors taught that to their kids, who taught it to their kids, who taught it to their kids, who several generations later, taught it to my grandparents, who taught my parents, who taught me.

I never even questioned it.

Here’s what me, and I assume, most people with a similar upbringing believe: God made people and they matter most because they have souls and an intrinsic value that all other life forms don’t have. You can see it in our ability to reason, and create, and love, and display kindness, and to conceive of these important concepts. We can understand the difference between right and wrong and choose accordingly.

We are called to be good stewards of the Earth, but at the end of the day, non-human animals are a lesser life form, which is why we eat beef, pork and chicken; keep pets; allow hunting; aren’t criminally charged for killing deer, raccoons, opossums, skunks, squirrels, or even dogs and cats with our cars; and aren’t considered cruel for caging or leashing animals as we would for doing so to humans.

I assumed EVERYONE, regardless of a belief in God, sort of thought and felt along those same lines, save a few outliers who are really passionate about animal stewardship and live accordingly.

Growing up, I foolishly assumed people with differing viewpoints were wrong, which is why it took me so long to achieve any semblance of maturity and wisdom.

Now, I see differing viewpoints as an opportunity to pause and reflect.

Do I believe—generally speaking—that humans are more important than animals, because a bunch of selfish and misguided humans kept telling the story over and over again, and everyone blindly believed it, so I blindly believed it, even though it might be wrong?

Did people selfishly and cruelly decide one day to dominate other life forms, and because we have the intelligence to reason and communicate as we do, we simply gave ourselves moral license to enslave animals for labor, entertainment and food?

These are fair questions everyone should ask themselves.

Humans vs. Non-Human Animals

Anthropocentrism is the belief that human beings are the central or most significant species on the planet (in the sense that they are considered to have a moral status or value higher than that of all other organisms).

Biocentrism is the belief that all living things possess inherent value, and that nature doesn’t exist simply for human consumption.

As I think about those two concepts, I’d tell you that I was 100-percent in the Anthropocentrism camp in my youth, and have slowly adopted what I’d call environmental sensitivities as I’ve aged.

As a little boy, I didn’t think anything of people flicking cigarette butts out of their car windows. That’s just what people did! And back when I used to smoke, that’s where all of mine went too. But then I moved to Florida as a young adult where I discovered the Gulf Coast’s beaches to be among the more beautiful things I’d ever seen. Sometimes when I was on the beach, I’d see discarded cigarette butts and think the people who put them there were assholes.

Then, because I was still a smoker back then, I realized: Whoa. I’m an asshole, too. And then I stopped flicking them out of car windows, and made sure I found garbage cans to put them in.

There were certain areas in and around Tampa Bay where manatee would congregate in warmer waters. High-speed boaters would sometimes run over their heads and backs, causing severe injury or death to the slow-moving manatees.

After a lifetime of paying little attention to things like littering or wildlife protection, I finally felt the tug: I want to protect these things, even though it means restricting human behavior.

But, where do I draw the line?

I don’t remember when it happened, but at some point in adulthood I realized I was fundamentally against hunting for sport.

What that means is, I would feel uncomfortable killing an animal simply because I wanted to hunt for entertainment purposes. I would probably feel okay about it if I was doing it for food, but since I have supermarkets and whatnot readily available, it seems unnecessary.

Which raises another question: Are animals bred and butchered for grocery sales treated more humanely than animals which are hunted in the wild?

I don’t like to write things and not tell people what I believe and why from a moral and ethical standpoint.

I thought I would discover something about myself in the writing process here. But I haven’t.

These are big and important questions.

Am I more important than an animal because I’m mentally capable of pondering this very question?

If I AM more important than animals, does that mean people more intellectually capable than me are more important than me?

Does that mean less-educated people matter less than me?

Are animals just as valuable as humans?

Are all animals equally valuable? Why do I care about manatee more than I do about goldfish and sparrows?

Are endangered species more important than abundant animals? Where do we draw the line? Between gorillas and sewer rats?

Are our pet dogs and cats and other animals more important than the animals we commonly eat? Which animals are most important? Who gets to decide? How many people have to agree to make it true? Whose opinion ranks highest?

Are insects just as valuable as animals?

Are plants just as valuable as insects?

Is cattle and poultry farming ethically wrong?

Should I avoid killing bugs in my house?

Is eating animals morally reprehensible?

If so, is eating plants morally reprehensible?

HOW wrong is killing an animal?

What if an animal is killed by another animal? Is it okay then? If so or if not: Why?

I read people openly question whether the life of a four-year-old boy was worth killing a gorilla for.

Maybe they wouldn’t have thought that about an alligator or rattlesnake or wild boar. I don’t know.

All I know is, ever since I saw SEVERAL people openly question the value of a human child’s life, I can’t stop asking the question.

How do we rank life?

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