I really appreciate all of this wonderful feedback.
I have to tell you that all through my 20's and 30's - because of my experiences as a child and teen, I was very angry and cynical. I basically thought people sucked. All I felt I'd experienced was negativity. And then something wonderful happened.
I found out I had cancer.
I was suddenly faced with a choice - truly embrace my cynical dislike of people and die alone and angry - or step back from myself and choose to see people in a different light. I was going to have to trust my life in the hands of strangers.
I think being so tired and sick (from chemo) knocked the fight out of me. Or perhaps it knocked it down to a level that I only had enough available to focus it at the cancer. If I took my focus off the cancer and focused it back out at the world as I'd always done - I'd not survive.
I experienced so many beautiful and life-changing moments.
People were kind and gentle with me - complete strangers - they didn't judge me or criticize me - they just loved me unconditionally. And in this I saw what I'd been missing all of those years.
We are all so uniquely complex... to make any assumption about anyone else and from that assumption - form an idea of who they are and what their value is - a unilateral judgment - it's beyond wrong.
Many cancer survivors I've spoken to speak of their finding of "faith" during their fight for survival. And the majority of them are talking about religion of one fashion or another.
When I talk of finding faith - I mean in us - in others - in people.
It starts slowly... turning the corner from being a rage-addicted cynical thinker, distrustful of other people - to understanding that everyone is simply trying to make sense of the world around them and they are doing their best to survive day to day... that the guy who cuts you off in traffic - he doesn't even know me... so why take his actions personally?
He must be under a lot of pressure and stress - perhaps he's late and might loose his job, leaving his family homeless...
My thinking moved from - "how dare that asshole..." to "man, I hope he gets where he's going and everything is OK."
I went from "You're not cutting in front of me at this exit to be one car ahead of me - I've got places to go too!"... to "Dude - you must need to be there a lot more than I do. Go right ahead."
And I looked at all of the behaviors that had hurt me so badly - people judging me - criticizing me - insulting me - and I realized that those things only affect me if I allow them. No one defines who I am except me. I have to decide if I'm going to be a good person or not.
Once I let go of all of that past baggage and opened my eyes, I saw so many people around me - guarded and jaded - just as I'd been. And I decided that I have the choice - the ability - to choose what I stand for and how I treat those around me. I decided that I'd only focus on the positive and that I'd never treat someone I didn't know in a defensive or guarded way.
I can't control what other people think, feel, do, or say. I can only control how I choose to react to it. I've purged my life of many unhealthy relationships. And I simply ignore people who are determined to be unpleasant. Eventually I've moved to trying to engage them... to not feed into their anger or negativity - and try to talk to them respectfully. Once they see that I'm really sincerely a pleasant person - many have apologized for their initial rudeness.
And that is a very powerful feeling. To know that through reason and compassion you can bridge differences. I had always been of the opinion that if you kick over my sand castle, I'm going to not only kick yours over - I'm going to dowse it in gasoline, light it on fire, and then chase you with a handful of flaming sand - doing my best to throw it on you. I'm sad to admit, I was vicious to people who I felt were ugly to me.
It never made things better. And truly, I never felt better. But to see that just as anger and rage begets more anger and rage - that anger and rage can be transformed into kindness and understanding - it just takes patience... this was the good feeling I'd always assumed didn't exist.
I've shared these stories and my personal experiences with many people - individually - face-to-face and that sort of thing... I've never thought about sharing them publicly.
I guess for me - I've never really wanted any attention that way.
I absolutely believe and live everything I've shared and written. It's like I was a child until I was nearly 36 and diagnosed with cancer. And that was my childhood's end. I emerged as someone firmly on the path to being a real grown-up. I stopped making excuses and blaming life, the world, the universe, for my own poor choices. Once I started owning my choices, good and bad, I couldn't turn back to the emotionally-stunted - pointless existence I had before.
If you all really think that sharing this can help others, I'm certainly willing. I came here to be inspired and to hopefully inspire others. This isn't exactly what I had in mind, LOL. But inspiration is like an element - it's pure. It is something different to us all, but is born of the same root needs and desires we all share.
I guess I need to figure out how to organize such a thing. I've never really done expressive things without them being visually based.