|Top of Potrero Hill
|February 3rd, 2016
Why, God, do You persist on teaching me self-respect instead of just giving it to me?
I won't get it. I don't think I ever will. I mean I respect the fact that I'm a walking miracle
and that every moment I breathe, every time I look up at Your blue sky or lay down to
sleep after a long day or recover from a demonic stomach-flu I am always respectful and
grateful that I am alive and that You have given me permission to live.
But when it comes to holding myself up with confidence, like standing firmly with my feel
(ings) on the ground, like I mean to be alive as opposed to my skin crawling with apology
whenever Go(o)d-Footed People ask me about my life, about where I see myself in
whatever years it takes to be someone these days, then I don't respect myself at all.
Why should I? Especially when I don't feel like You do.
I know that You do. I know. But I don't feel it. Rather, I should say, to un-snide my
remark, I don't feel your respect for me in the crude and ignorant ways I desire to value
my life. I'm not saying I'm deserving of your respect either. Trust me, I know I'm not.
But if I was ever to qualify to earn any kind of respect at all, if not for my efforts to
better myself then for the few few good things I've so far done [so little of] in my life,
then it would be - I want to vainly assume - through Your notary of my plans for my life.
Almost as if You said 'Go on and prosper as you wish. You're blind as a bat but you'll
thrive because, deep down, you're a good person' and so it would come to pass and I
would come to respect myself.
Which is why I sincerely hope you will pardon me if I suspect my self to be evil precisely
because You have not made me as rich as my fantasies delude me into believing I could
be if I was ever lucky enough to garner the powerful mercy of your blessings. My self-
respect, sadly therefore, is yearnfully unpregnant of its own cause for it wants You to be
its mid-wife but only after having given birth to material wealth.
In less dramatic - and much less hubristic if not downright simple thus sacred - words,
how can I say I respect myself if I have nothing to show for it?
The irony is that I confidently spent my decade between 20 to 30 in a devout pilgrimage
through the uncharted territory of the abstract, either in philosophy or in the philosophy
of philosophy, to claim concretely, without even a whiff of sarcasm and all the aroma of
naïveté, The Meaning of Life solely in materialistic terms. And I did so because I knew
You were watching and, (do) bless my heart, I wanted to impress You.
What I've learned from that decade, which You have inexplicably blessed me with, is an
uncanny talent to make the best of what I've got, what's in front of me, who's in front of
me - to love my life as is and be grateful as infinitely as possible for that's how much of
this Life, my little ill-assessed life, I feel I'm undeserving. And this is what I'm afraid of.
You have taught me the skill of settling which kind of unsettles me a little bit.
Do you think I shouldn't be an artist? Are You lulling me over to a teacher's life knowing
how much I dread not having done anything and pretending that I have (for that is my
current definition of a teacher which I know You want to make more profound by
planting me in their shoes)? Am I not worthy of a second miracle, the first one being my
license to ask for Your forgiveness despite my gluttony for self-indulgence? All is indeed
possible with You and therefore, as impossible as my artistic ambitions billow like the
furnace of hell, You and only You can make them burn with light.
So why then are You challenging me to respect myself? What have I done to earn it?
Or is the more crucial question here whether I over-respect myself? Could it be that I
arrogantly expect so much of myself to the extent that You, God, will need to be in my
service in order for me to fulfill my expectations and therefore anything short of that I
must deem useless? Could it be that I am that guy who, when someone says 'Dream Big',
I go a head or two too big? I think so, yes.
But this doesn't inspire me to rein it in as-it-were, to respect myself more modestly, in a
more human(e) form. On the contrary, I feel like a douche, God because subconsciously
I think I desire to be one. A god. I want to say like You but I believe there can only be
One hence this stifling choke-hold of a forbidden desire with a satanic flare.
And in the next few hours, when I jump into the shower to appear clean so I can drive
looking like a modest human being in my modest 1999 Toytota Solara all the way to San
Francisco to volunteer as a teacher's aid to the most spiritedly "disruptive" heart-warming
fourth and fifth graders, I'm not so sure the path to deity begins up that Portrero Hill.
So we're- I'm back to square one. I can't respect myself because I'm a lunatic with rabies
And yet, You insist.
In fact, I swear I almost feel like You're waiting to give me something - something that
I've asked for, like a miracle within a miracle - but You won't until I respect myself
enough. For surely, with unbridled certainty, I know I'll botch it up with my canine
impatience to sink my jaw into Life's veins. So, if there is something which I gravely
hope there is, please don't give it to me before I'm ready. As much as I fear I'll never be
ready, I know I'll never recover from the despair of having let myself down that much
like that because - as You can still see - I is the god I seek to worship even when I don't
I believe the only other reason I can find as to why I should respect myself is for...
Having Faith in You.
I should. I should.
And I'll have to figure out how for my obsession to rank myself high on your report card
while still playing in the devil's court got me cross-eyed about my Christianhood.
I believe there is a world of flesh, of art, of trade that is within your permission but
instead of working towards it I have let myself off the hook altogether by saying 'If I
can't have Your Bliss then why bother'. In reality, I'm terrified of losing my appetite for
this world because it pales to oblivion in comparison to Your profound silence, Your
Peace, the inequity of thought in the Presence of Your Superiority and the Wealth of
Feeling, the Explosion of the Forever Expansive Heart in the Bestowing of Your, and
ONLY YOUR, Love.
Had I not believed this world is betrothed to the devil not as a lost reward but as
punishment won then I would have dared (to attempt) to ask You, Lord, to give it to me
first. But I won't. Even though I already have. No matter how duplicitous my lips make
my words, I want to go on record and say 'I only want this world because I am selfish,
not because I am falsely convinced by myself that I could be worthy' which in some
twisted way somehow makes it better(?).
I respect myself because I have faith in You.
In action, the implications of this statement means I'll have to activate everything
mediocre about myself to rise to excellence because I can no longer afford to abuse my
faith with the weight of my Ego. As it is, Faith is the Act of Vulnerability. And if what
must give light, endure burning then that must be why You gave us egos, God; something
that never stops growing by feeding on itself, which is why we must immolate it so we
never run out of light.