Elvis Has Left the Building

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So there are no more words and all is ended
The timbrel is stilled, the clarion laid away
And love with streaming hair goes unattended
Back to the loneliness of yesterday.
(Joseph Auslander)
The time has come for me to put down my pen, say good night, and bid you farewell.

I’ve always felt that self-eviction is the best eviction. Sort of like quitting before your boss tells you you’re fired. Get out before it becomes embarrassingly obvious you should have left a long time ago. And for me, that’s now.

When I first heard about blogs, I thought they were quite possibly the worst thing to happen to mankind. It was as if suddenly millions of people who had nothing to say were going out of their way to let everyone know that they did, in fact, have nothing to say. What genius! But I’ve come to appreciate them for what they can be. They have their uses, and they can be fun. I still think, though, that there are too many people talking and fewer listening—and sometimes, probably more often than not, the people who are listening should be the ones talking, and vice versa.

As for me, I always wanted to believe that I had something important to say, some great well-spring of wisdom and knowledge, some constant source of God-breathed revelation. I wanted to believe that what I thought mattered, that what went on in my head was significant, that I could somehow, in some way, possibly convey an idea or a thought that was unique and new and meaningful.

But I can’t. I have nothing important to say. I’m not a ‘deep’ person. I have no more depth than is inherent to everyone because of Who created us. If anything, I seem to bask in my mediocrity, I relish it, like a pig loves his own filth. Probably not on purpose—after all, what human being wants to believe they’re not important, that they’re mediocre at best? But it's easy to play pretend and get caught up in the role, until you can't distinguish between who you are and what you want to be perceived as. And while that might sound like killing two birds with one stone, it really isn't. Pretending to be something (and even believing you are) is not the same as being that something. I expect that a person of deep thought, of character, of genuine substance doesn't dwell on whether he is or is not those things, nor whether anyone else thinks he is.

It’s naivety that made me think I was different. Because I’m not unique. I’m not special. I’m just a guy. I don’t doubt that God gives us each gifts, that He blesses us with what thoughts we have and what ideas we develop. And I don’t want to sound like I don’t recognize the beauty of what He’s made. But we have a tendency to blow our birthright as Children of God out of proportion, and turn it into our birthright as the Only and Most Important Child of God. I do that. A lot. I forget that God’s plans are bigger than my own, that God’s plans are bigger than me. I know He loves me, and I know that He cares for me as a person. But I also know that there is more to existence than that. There is more to reality than Kyle Francis Douglas Stewart.

I don’t doubt that there are people with legitimate ideas that need to be written and spoken about, things that I need to hear and understand and chew on. And I confess that I want to be one of those people, someone with something to say that is worth being said. Should that day come, I’ll welcome it with open arms. But it isn’t here yet. I think, right now, I need to be a listener. I need to be an ear, not a mouth.

I also realize that at this point in my life, what I say is pretty much meaningless. Not only am I just not articulate enough to say what I mean and mean what I say, but I’m not so sure that even if I wrote a beautiful, flawless essay on The Inner Workings of Kyle F. D. Stewart and His Dreams and His Plans and His Hopes and His Passions and His Reasons for Living, anyone would understand--or care to, for that matter. It’s not that I think people are insensitive or unloving, it’s just that I know people. And people, by and large, don’t really care. Of six billion people alive, why would one bother wondering how the other five billion, nine hundred and ninety-nine million, nine hundred and ninety-nine thousand, nine hundred and ninety-nine people are living their lives? I want to be optimistic, to believe that people are generally more caring and kind than I give them credit for, that they deserve the benefit of the doubt, that they deserve trust and faith, but I suspect that such optimism will arrive the same day my ideas worthy of being shared are delivered. It’ll be a merry occasion, I’m sure.

This last week has been forcibly crammed with enough change, emotion, hurt and pain, up-and-down’s as I think I can handle for another four-to-six months (give or take a decade). And I realize, now more than ever, that it’s time for me to stop trying to figure things out, and just be. I need to stop trying to write the story before it’s even happened. I have no new narrative for you, no plot, no characters, no theme to speak of. I have nothing but words that are all too often empty and without meaning. And that needs to stop. Because what I’ve been doing just isn’t working. What story I thought I had when I first began this online journal has come to an abrupt end. The conclusion wasn’t the one I had intended, it wasn’t the one I had planned for. But it’s an end nonetheless, and when it comes, it comes. And I know from experience that you don’t argue with inevitability.

I think I’ve just come to realize that I can’t do here what I first intended to do. Sometimes private thoughts need to stay private. And I think I intended to spill too many of those than I realistically can. I used to keep a lot of things private. And then I opened up quite a bit and willingly shared what was happening in my head. But I think I’m at a point where I don’t want to do that anymore. I want to keep private things private, personal things personal. It doesn’t seem to do anyone any good to be unflinchingly honest all the time. The most you can hope for is misunderstanding, the worst, rejection. And you know, maybe it is worth it. Maybe the chance you take is what’s most important. But I’ve lost my nerve. I’ve lost the hope I had in people, the general optimism that they’d come through. I know that’s a problem. And maybe the last thing I need to be doing is shutting people out. But I can’t do anything else right now. Whether ‘now’ is today or this next week or a few months or a year, I don’t know. But when your heart is in a thousand pieces the last thing you should be doing is playing with knives. And words are knives. And I play too carelessly, too often. So maybe it’s time to retreat, learn the rules of the game again, and come back better prepared.

It’s hard to make heads of tails right now. You ever feel that? When life is completely upside down? It’s all very much.

I find myself with a great deal of hate in my heart. It’s sobering to know it’s there, to recognize it, to be honest with yourself about it. I tend to cover it up quite a bit, as a natural reaction. Someone once told me that I’m a ‘quiet rager’—meaning I get ridiculously angry, but I keep it inside and noiselessly seethe about what’s bothering me. I think I’m a quiet hater, too. And it eats me up. It gnaws at my insides. I haven’t always been like that, but I think at some point in my life I let myself become defensive and offended all at the same time—and let me tell you, the two don’t make for a pleasant person. I want to be more pleasant, to be the type of person someone would like to sit down and have a cup of coffee with, chat with, talk about life and love and the mysteries of the universe with. I’d like to be the sort of person that can sit down with a stranger and leave a few hours later having made a very dear friend. I’d also like to be the type of person who can be a friend no matter location, circumstance, personal sacrifice. And yet I feel about as far from being that person as a man without legs feels from running a marathon.

Is life fair? Absolutely not. So, do I have a right to complain? Absolutely not. It’s a strange experience, facing God and being angry at Him and telling Him what you think should be, and knowing all along that He knows more, sees more, controls more, and that what He allows or doesn’t allow is His responsibility, and that all of my complaining is but the sound of a baby crying.

I’m having a very hard time saying what I want to say right now. For some reason the words feel choppy and angry and incoherent and ridiculous. I feel like that little baby, wailing away in incomprehensible mumbo-jumbo, wanting someone to ‘get it’ but knowing at the same time that there is a massive communication barrier between what is understood and what is meant. Sigh. I guess that’s exactly what I’ve been trying to say all along.

This blog was meant to share a little bit of me, but it no longer does that. At least not in the way I hoped or wanted. And there is only one possible solution to that: end it. If the dog has rabies, kill it. If the leg is infected, chop it off. If the blog isn’t working, pull the plug.

I have too much hurt and anger and disappointment and cynicism in my heart right now to be able to share anything with anyone that could be possibly worth sharing. I think I am too disappointed in the world, in people, in life in general to be able to give anything productive or good or beautiful. And to do otherwise would be irresponsible of me.

Yet still I hope…
But I understood at last that God breaketh not all men's hearts alike...
(Richard Baxtor)
I tend to go through these great spans of time in my life where I don’t read my Bible, where I don’t talk to God. I think it’s because I carry around a lot of shame and guilt. And the more I feel those, the more I buy into the sales pitch from the Master Salesman, the less I feel like I have any right to talk to God. It’s especially ridiculous because I know (more so in my head than my heart, I suppose) that God is always there, that there is no condemnation, that He’s waiting for me to just stop trying to do it all myself, to stop crying like the baby I am and talk with Him. It’s almost comical how easy it is to put aside the most important part of who I am. How can I not forget to breathe, but I can forget to talk to the only Person who understands me, cares about me, loves me? I can’t forget to breathe, but I can forget why I breathe. Is it normal to be this stupid?

Anyway, about a week ago I started reading a bit of the Book of Job. I just sort of flipped open my Bible, and it’s what I saw first. And ironically enough, it was exactly what I was feeling and what I needed to know the most.
“So man wastes away like something rotten, like a garment eaten by moths. Man born of woman is of few days and full of trouble. He springs up like a flower and withers away; like a fleeting shadow, he does not endure…
If only you would hide me in the grave and conceal me till your anger has passed! If only you would set me a time and then remember me!...
You will call and I will answer you; you long for the creature your hands have made. Surely then you will count my steps but not keep track of my sin.”
(Job 13:28-14:2, 13, 15-17)
“Though he slay me, yet I will hope in him…”
(Job 13:15)
When I think of Job, I realize that I will probably never fully grasp the kind of torment he went through. But I think I always feel like I can relate to what he says because of what we do have in common: pain. There are different severities of pain, I don’t doubt. And on the scale of 1 to 100, the most I’ve probably ever had to deal with is a 1.3. But it’s pain nevertheless, regardless of its severity. And I am constantly aware that the point of pain is humility. I know that that isn’t the physical point—the physical point is to let you know there is a problem, that something is wrong, that you need to fix something. But I think that the spiritual point is humility. It screams, “You are not all-encompassing. You are not invincible. You are not Great, Wonderful, All-Powerful. You are frail, finite, temporary, small.” And there is greatness and wonder in that, I know. And I suppose that’s what humility is--accepting the great in the small, the wonder in the dull, the beauty in the misery, the infinity of the moment. I just feel like I am teetering between a world of anger and hate, and of complete brokenness, of humility, because I remember again what it’s like to be so small, to be alone, to know that I have no ally but God. It’s a scary place to be, because I know that which way I tip is dependent not on God, not on circumstances, not on other people, but on me, on what I choose.

I was recently introduced to a strangely profound Dr. Seuss book, called “Oh! The Places You Will Go,” that sort of sums up how I’m feeling (or how I want to be feeling). I was going to condense it down to a few parts that I liked most, but I realized that every little bit of it is relevant and meaningful and important. So here it is (and please, no one report me to the Copyright Police):
Oh! The Places You will Go!

You'll be on your way up!
You'll be seeing great sights!
You'll join the high fliers
who soar to high heights.

You won't lag behind, because you'll have the speed.
You'll pass the whole gang and you'll soon take the lead.
Wherever you fly, you'll be the best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.

Except when you don't
Because, sometimes, you won't.

I'm sorry to say so
but, sadly, it's true
and Hang-ups
can happen to you.

You can get all hung up
in a prickle-ly perch.
And your gang will fly on.
You'll be left in a Lurch.

You'll come down from the Lurch
with an unpleasant bump.
And the chances are, then,
that you'll be in a Slump.

And when you're in a Slump,
you're not in for much fun.
Un-slumping yourself
is not easily done.

You will come to a place where the streets are not marked.
Some windows are lighted. But mostly they're darked.
A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin!
Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in?
How much can you lose? How much can you win?

And IF you go in, should you turn left or right...
or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite?
Or go around back and sneak in from behind?
Simple it's not, I'm afraid you will find,
for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.

You can get so confused
that you'll start in to race
down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place...

...for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or waiting around for a Yes or a No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting.

That's not for you!

Somehow you'll escape
all that waiting and staying.
You'll find the bright places
where Boom Bands are playing.

With banner flip-flapping,
once more you'll ride high!
Ready for anything under the sky.
Ready because you're that kind of a guy!

Oh, the places you'll go! There is fun to be done!
There are points to be scored. There are games to be won.
And the magical things you can do with that ball
will make you the winning-est winner of all.
Fame! You'll be famous as famous can be,
with the whole wide world watching you win on TV.

Except when they don't.
Because, sometimes, they won't.

I'm afraid that some times
you'll play lonely games too.
Games you can't win
'cause you'll play against you.

All Alone!
Whether you like it or not,
Alone will be something
you'll be quite a lot.

And when you're alone, there's a very good chance
you'll meet things that scare you right out of your pants.
There are some, down the road between hither and yon,
that can scare you so much you won't want to go on.

But on you will go
though the weather be foul
On you will go
though your enemies prowl
On you will go
though the Hakken-Kraks howl
Onward up many
a frightening creek,
though your arms may get sore
and your sneakers may leak.

On and on you will hike
and I know you'll hike far
and face up to your problems
whatever they are.

You'll get mixed up, of course,
as you already know.
You'll get mixed up
with many strange birds as you go.
So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
and remember that Life's
a Great Balancing Act.
Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right foot with your left.

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)

I appreciate all of you sticking with me for as long as you have. God knows, and I know, it hasn’t been easy. But I appreciate it. Probably more than you will ever know.

Please don’t think this was a spur of the moment decision, or somehow a knee-jerk reaction to circumstance. All you need to do is look at the amount of posts (or lack of) over the last few months as evidence of the end drawing nigh. I suppose it’s been like a house slowly filling with gas, and all it takes is that one spark to set the whole thing ablaze. So pull out your marshmallows and hot dogs and have a feast, comrades.

I expect that one day I may start up another one of these things. Maybe when I’ve grasped and learned to live a better personification of humility. Maybe when I feel like I have something worth sharing. Maybe when blogging becomes currency and without words I’ll starve. Maybe it’ll never matter. Or maybe tomorrow morning every blogger in the world will wake up, realize that blogging isn’t where it’s at anymore, and all will be silent, thus making everything I just said absolutely pointless. (Hey, anything’s possible.)

So, until then (and for those who’d care, I’ll let you know if/when it happens), thanks for roughing it out, amigos/amigas/muchachas. It was fun while it lasted.

Yet it is in this loneliness that the deepest activities begin. It is here that you discover act without motion, labor that is profound repose, vision in obscurity, and, beyond all desire, a fulfillment whose limits extend to infinity.
(Thomas Merton)

Epilogue of the Epilogue: Ironic, isn’t it, that I had so much to say about not having anything to say? I think my brain exists outside the realm of logic. And that isn't a good thing.

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