Showing posts with label atheism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label atheism. Show all posts

open letter to my would-be identity thief

To Whom I Should Be Concerned About,

Thank you for your recent interest in assuming my identity. As by now you're probably aware, my financial institution has unfortunately decided to reject your offer of anonymous proxy. I say "unfortunately" since, not having met you, I can't comment on whether this was a wise choice. Fact is, most days I rather suck at being me. You might very well have been better at it. Hurt fewer people, be more productive, cook more interesting meals - that sort of thing. Now we'll never know.

That is of course unless you decide to reapply, say, after a respectable interim? I can assure you that my bank is quite inept as a rule, and I expect any additional attempts at grift to slide by unnoticed. Indeed I remain shocked this one even caught their eye.

However, should you wish to take another stab at defrauding me, might I make one small suggestion? Sign me up for better websites. I understand you must be terribly busy, but I cannot emphasize enough the importance of getting to know your intended victim. And I, dear sir or madam, am no Christian. In fact there are few places online that hold less interest for me than ChristianMingle.com. For future reference, I've taken the liberty of compiling a short list of sites I'm more likely to be found browsing:

FistAndMingle.com, the web's premier destination for brachiovaginal-curious singles

ChristianMangle.com, containing a comprehensive photo archive of ancient Colosseum bloodsporting events

CrispinMingle.com, where Crispin Glover fans can connect over their love of this multi-talented actor, director, recording artist, publisher, and author!

ChristieDingle.com, fundraising home of presidential hopeful Chris Christie's fecal conservative supporters

Thanks again for taking the time to briefly, if unsuccessfully, impersonate me online. As a blogger, I sustain myself emotionally on the supposition that everyone wants to be me. I appreciate you confirming my suspicion!

Until next time,
Ellie

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blabberthreads

Hi! Lest anyone worry that, having been silent for a nearly a week, Blabbermouth is unwell - she is not. She is fine. It's just that the jar in her head from which she draws blabspiration is (all but) empty. She keeps checking it - several times a day, in fact - but there's only a few wispy blabberthreads. Pathetic.

Things Blabbermouth has been up to while she waits for the jar to fill back up:

1. I watched Citizenfour, was fascinated, went online to learn more about Edward Snowden, and fell down a weird and winding rabbit hole that led me to this exchange between Glenn Greenwald and Sam Harris. Maybe not compelling reading on its own, but (one element of) their argument raised an interesting question for me, and one I visit again and again in my life online: How much tacit approval do we give of someone, when we align ourselves with that person on the internet? By, say, retweeting a link to an article, are we endorsing that entire article and its author, wholesale? Is following someone on Twitter or Instagram a show of support, or simply neutral interest? And the kicker - what happens when a blogger or internet personality you've publicly befriended does something terrible? Do you look bad by association? Should you look bad?

2. I cheered Brian Keith Dalton's fantastic video response to the shooting of the three Muslim students in Chapel Hill last month, and made a mental note to share it. But the note got scribbled over with my Bonnaroo schedule or something, and I didn't do it. For context, BKD is an atheist writer/actor/comedian whose satirical web series Mr. Deity kinda sorta changed my life, in that it showed me a whole new way to dissect, understand, and ultimately dismiss the hypocrisy and horror of religion: through humor. Anyway, I very much agree with his sentiment that everyone involved in the atheist community should speak out to condemn the violence. In his words:



3. I stepped a little further into my New Neighbor Friendship, a relationship I'm trying to let incubate quietly rather than blather on about it too much. But get this: on the day I had a dentist appointment she left a smoothie packed in ice outside my door, in case my teeth hurt afterward. You are thinking "Wow, NNF is rad" - and you are right.

4. Terence and I went to see an EDM guy I really like, but it was kind of a letdown. He pandered to the very young crowd, playing mostly the worn-out favorites of other producers rather than his own music (which is great). I can understand where he's coming from - he hadn't played LA proper before and his Coachella set last year was, as the LA Times put it rather harshly, "a ghost town". I suspect he was afraid of losing everyone; attention spans be short, yo. But Mr. Brun, should you stumble across this for some reason, you should know that I was one of those fifty or so people who happily blew off Outkast to dance in that near-empty tent. You are tremendously talented and I look forward to the day your shows consist solely of your own stuff.

5. I started making cold-brewed, condensed coffee and cashew milk, which separately are wonderful but together are divine. If you've never had BluePrint's Cashew Vanilla Cinnamon Agave or their Coffee Cashew Cinnamon Vanilla, DO NOT START. They are incredibly addictive...and they cost a metric fuckton of money. Between $8 and $12 a bottle. Hence the need to figure out an alternative or hack the recipe.

Enter Cookie and Kate (for plain cashew milk), Kitchen Treaty (for cold-brewed coffee concentrate), and Janny Organically (for a SPOT ON recreation of BluePrint's versions). Money saved and morning coffee sorted!

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And that's about all I've got today, 'cept for a handful of pics:

Tickle Claw: not just for mommy bloggers!

His fur felt so chilly this morning. Invited him up for snuggles to get us both warm.

I heart you too, Michael Brun

Ugh, why can't I make bedhead and a hoodie look this good??
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NEW FEATURE! I thought it might be fun to occasionally look back at what I was doing exactly one, two, and three years ago right now, kind of the way that Smitten Kitchen does, but without the useful recipes. Dunno how often I'll do this as it's a bit of work, but wow, what a neat reward for having put in the time to scrapblog so far...

One year ago right now, Terence and I moved in together. He had just met my friends Kenne and Alfie; the four of us went for ramen in Little Tokyo. While we were waiting for our table, I saw someone I was sure was a musician I like named Trevor Powers. Trevor Powers is the force behind Youth Lagoon, which is the experimental shoe-gaze music that I was listening to at my first Coachella, when I took a bunch of shrooms and tripped and thought I saw monkeys in the grass. Anyway, I approached the guy I thought was TP, but he rebuffed me. I told Mason about the encounter, and this is what he replied to make me feel better.  

Two years ago right now I was single and dating. One dude I'd met was nice enough, but way too square for me and more than a little egotistical. He did, however, have an awesome roommate with an awesome pet turtle. And he liked karaoke. This was our second date.

Three years ago right now I was still recovering from an abusive relationship that, other than that post, I've never written about. It took me a very, very long time to figure out which way was up again - but I did. And I eventually started dating again. But mostly, I was enjoying taking Chaucer for long walks, just the two of us

the gift

It's coming up on five years ago that my mother died. Rather, it's coming up on five years ago that she was discovered dead; no one is exactly sure how long she'd been that way before she was found, alone on her couch in front of the television. I'm sure the coroner had some idea, but if that information was conveyed to me at the time, it mercifully didn't find purchase in my shocked and grieving brain. And as I was the only one around to absorb and process the particulars of her demise - not to mention handle the logistical consequences thereof - I guess that macabre little detail dies with me.

I'm being gruesome on purpose, because I'm trying to establish context: namely, how horrific I felt about the circumstances of her passing, and how the additional guilt and shame inherently tethered to those circumstances ultimately led me to say goodbye to something else, as well: religion.

I've long credited myself with atheistic tendencies, even when I was too young to understand that's what they were. I started losing my religion as quickly as it was given to me - by parents whose own belief systems conflicted so completely that I couldn't help but see holes in both; by Catholic school teachers whose punitive natures so alienated me that I couldn't imagine a Creator who'd sanction their nastiness; by an older brother who professed Christian values one minute and physically assaulted me the next. 

But while my confidence in rejecting dogma grew over the years (manifesting in refusals to attend church, to engage in prayer at the dinner tables of my friends, to utter devotion to god along with allegiance to my country's flag), I didn't actually shed the final dregs of faith until my mother died. 

That's not something a lot of people know about me, partly because I am so vocal about my non-belief, and partly because it hasn't been something I've heretofore been keen to admit. But here is the bald-faced truth: it wasn't until I was sure I was facing eternal damnation by a supernatural deity for having abandoned my mother that I realized eternal damnation - and the supernatural deities who arbitrate its assignment - aren't real. Nor are they fun scourges with which to flagellate oneself in the wake of a devastating personal loss, but whoo boy did I think otherwise at the time. I couldn't get enough of them, in fact. Hell and God. God and Hell. I'm. So. Fucked. 

Keanu Reeves is partly to blame.

Constantine, a Reeves-helmed film about heaven and hell and the reasons a soul will secure itself a spot in either, came out years before my mom died. I'd seen it in the theater and had been entertained but not particularly engrossed. That changed when, out of what I can only guess was a perverse need to punish myself, I watched it again and again after her death. Each time a wise-cracking Keanu descended into the fiery, demon-filled depths, I felt like I was seeing my future. The movie is straight-up cartoonish in its depiction of hell, but masochistic me just could not get enough. 

If you've been lucky enough not to experience it firsthand yet, take it from me: grief can play crazy, cruel tricks with your head. I let it play with mine for months. What was already a painful experience became exacerbated by excruciating bouts of self-recrimination, fear, and crippling depression - all because I thought I would be punished, at death, for having finally cut ties with my alcoholic, emotionally abusive mother (a gut-wrenching decision decades in the making) by a god I hadn't really believed in my entire life. Thanks, religion!

The remaining ghosts of childhood indoctrination (because that's what it was; I sure hadn't gone pursuing religion on my own) robbed me of the chance to mourn my mother in peace, with love in my heart and a rational mind to guide me through the rockiest bits. Instead I looked at her and her death through a terrified fog that kept me from coming to any clear understanding of loss, regret, and familial relationships. They bumped around in my brain, those ghosts, clanging chains of fear and shame, whispering things a thousand times more vicious than anything my mother, even at her most unforgiving and manipulative, would ever say. 

Eventually, something snapped. Maybe it was my inability to reconcile God's Law (I'm not sure if there's a Bible verse about damnation for estranged daughters, but it sure seem a subtextual given) with the knowledge I am not an evil person. Maybe I rejected the incomprehensible horrors of a hypothetical, punishing god so thoroughly that all my auxiliary religious beliefs got flushed in the purge. Whatever it was, the entire system - every last silly little bit of it - suddenly screamed of fraudulence. Of disgusting and unnecessary fear-mongering. Of darkness and mystery clouding up a space where the already painful realities of life and death don't need the complication of unrealities. I rejected it wholesale. Shoved every last ounce out of my life once and for all. And the things that have filled the space left behind have been more beautiful and more gratifying than I ever could have imagined. 

It's the gift my mother never knew she gave me. 

4.24.13

The other day I watched a TED talk which I enjoyed so much that I want to recommend it. Dan Barber, a chef from New York, traveled to Spain where he met an eccentric fois gras maker with a unique approach to raising and keeping geese. I'm not a foodie and I've never even had fois gras, but I loved his story so much. If you've got 20 minutes, I promise you won't reget giving them to him.

After I'd watched it, I texted a friend to recommend it. He asked if I'd ever seen Sarah Silverman's TED talk, which apparently was pretty controversial. So I checked that one out, too, out of curiosity. If you haven't seen it and don't care to, the controversy boils down to the things she said about wanting to adopt "a mentally retarded baby with a terminal illness."

I think she made an interesting point in her interview with Bill Maher afterward, which was that the PC or un PC nature of the word "retarded" doesn't concern her, because the people that get upset by it aren't the mentally handicapped people themselves - they're their advocates. And she doesn't give a fuck about their advocates.

Anyway, what to me was more interesting than that part of her talk (which was more or less disjointed and unrelated bits of stand up), was her weirdly vicious attack on adult film actresses, in song form. It was just so strange and, like, cruel. And grossly misogynist, completely ignoring male porn stars. I just found it mean spirited and shaming and unfunny and sad-making. Sex workers are human beings too, for fuck's sake.

---

I unfollowed someone on Instagram yesterday, because he started adding Bible verses and religious quotations to every photo he posted (his pics are mostly various nature macros). I didn't say anything or flounce or whatever, I just quietly clicked the green button and showed myself out of the room. Well, this morning he commented on one of my pics, saying he knew why I'd unfollowed, but he still liked me anyway.

And we had a friendly exchange where I explained to him that while I understood that the verses were important to him to share, they made me feel like I was having to sit through commercials for something I have no interest in buying, when all I want to do is watch the show. His perspective was that he believes in heaven and hell, and he loves everyone, including me, and doesn't want me to go to hell, so he feels obligated to do what he can to prevent that.

So that was how that broke down.

It's the second time I've done that on Instagram. The first time, I think the woman must have lost a lot of followers, because she stopped doing it, and made a sort of outreach back to followers she'd lost, being very like-y and chatty with them. So I added her back, because I truly do enjoy her photos.

I enjoyed this other person's, too (as well as interacting with him), but when the verses and quotes are coming at me every single day, all day long, it feels a little heavy-handed and aggressive, and it's just alienating.

I suppose I could play the devil's advocate with myself here, though, and say that there are plenty of people who post lengthy comments, or poems, or song lyrics with their photos, and I just ignore that stuff when I'm not interested in it. So why can't I ignore the preachy stuff?

Well, I guess partly because I respect the creative endeavor of adding a bit of short flash fiction or original poetry or something like that. And the occasional quote (that someone else has written) doesn't bother me, and can in fact be cool. But I feel like those people who make an effort to match up quotes with their pics are at least diversifying a little bit, instead of just plunking down the same source (the Bible) again and again and again. I find the Biblical stuff alienating and boring, so I just change the channel.

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Walking Chaucer has been so lovely lately, at dusk. The weather is amazing, and the grass at Grand Park is so nice. And none of the security minds if I unclip him and we play fetch on the (relatively, we are in the city after all) huge expanse. He just runs and runs and his tongue hangs out and he smiles and it's my favorite part of the day.

Here's our daily view:






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And finally...out with the old, in with the new!



(Recaps still coming! They're just pretty epic and I've been waiting until I felt ready to tackle 'em...)

love and play

I tried to teach Chaucer about sin today. An opportunity presented itself, and I decided it was time. I don't think the lesson quite stuck, though. Here's what happened.

We were at the dog park, and a Boxer there was playing with a tennis ball. I hadn't brought any toys for Chauc, and I could see him glancing over at the Boxer enviously. "Now Chaucer," I said. "Stop coveting that ball. Covetousness is a sin."

Chaucer looked at up me, a curious expression on his face. "What's 'sin', Mom?"

I kneeled down in front of my dog and looked in his massive, dark eyes. "Sin is a very bad thing," I explained. "A very, very, very bad thing." Chaucer flinched when he heard me say bad, in the way that he does when I scold him for naughty behavior.

"You mean like when I get on the bed without being invited?" he asked, tilting his big head thoughtfully.

"Yes," I said, and gave his chest a rub. "Exactly like that. But there are other kinds of sin, too, And they're all equally bad."

Chaucer looked at me, his eyes wide. "Like what?" he asked.

"Well," I started slowly, thinking of how to explain what I had in mind. "You know how sometimes you like to mount other dogs?" Chaucer nodded. "It's ok to do that to girl dogs. But when you do it to other boy dogs, it's a sin. And remember, sin is bad. Bad, bad, bad." With each "bad," his sweet doggy face drooped a little bit lower.

Chaucer peered up at me uncomprehendingly. I knew that all this talk of sin was confusing to him, and that the words I was using were ones that made him feel sad and ashamed and scared. I knew that pleasing me was all that mattered to him, and he was starting to think maybe he'd done something wrong - something to disappoint me. And he hadn't, really.

He hadn't done a single thing other than to be a dog, wishing for a toy.

But it was important, so I soldiered on. "Sweetie, it's ok. You're not the only sinner. We're all sinners. Mommy's a sinner and all these other dogs at the park are sinners, and remember that Dalmation who stole your frisbee last year? She's a sinner, too."

"I don't understand, Mom," Chaucer said sadly. "Should...should I go home and go to my bed? Are you mad at me? I'm really sorry, Mom. I won't look at anyone else's ball again, ever. I promise. I won't sin. Please don't make me go home. I'm having so much fun."

I looked at my boy, dreading what I still had yet to say. I reached out and gently pulled his velvety ears through my fingertips. His eyes closed halfway in bliss. "No, you don't have go home," I said soothingly. "But you need to repent your sins, because if you don't, you're going to go to The Kennel when you die."

I could feel Chaucer tremble under my touch when I said it. His sixth sense had kicked in, and he knew I was talking about something very serious, and very scary. "'The Kennel'?" he repeated, his eyes wide and shining.

"Yes," I said gravely. "The Kennel. The Kennel is where you'll go if you're an unrepentant sinner. And do you know what it's like there, Chaucer?" He shook his head slowly, his jowls rubbing softly against my wrist. "The Kennel," I continued, "is a place where dogs are crowded together, one on top of another, millions upon millions of them, and tortured forever and ever. There's no one to feed you or pet you or play with you in The Kennel, Chaucer. It's filled with mean, cruel people who will kick you and beat you and punish you, over and over, because you sinned."

Chaucer didn't speak for a moment. I could see he was thinking. "You mean, if I were to go over there and mount Sydney right now, I'd...I'd be sent to The Kennel? Just for playing with him? Because he's a boy?" I nodded.

"But," he said quietly, his furry brow deeply lined, "how do you know about all of this, Mom? How do you know about these sins, and about The Kennel?"

I composed my face sternly. "Because, Chaucer. It was written in a book, a long long time ago, at a time when very few people could read or write, and when very little was known about the world, and about how it works. It was written by people who didn't have the understanding that we do today, of astronomy and geology, of medicine and mathematics, of biology and sociology. And those people repeated what was written in the book to other people. And those people repeated it to other people. And along the way, other, nicer stories were added to the scary bits, to make them seem less scary. And people started repeating those nicer stories because it made them feel good, and happy, and gave them a reason to live, and a reason not to be scared of dying."

Then Chaucer looked at me with an expression wiser than that I'd seen on most humans. "Mom," he said, "I felt good and happy and had a reason to live before you told me any of these things. My reason to live is because I have you to take care of, and my friends to play with. And because the grass feels so good under my paws when I run. I'm happy because the world is beautiful, filled with kind strangers who pet me on the street."

"Oh, Chauc," I said, and sighed. "If only it were that simple. But it's not. There are rules, lots of rules. And consequences. But there are rewards, too. If you're a good boy and do all the many things you're told, and none of the many things you're told not to do, you'll get to live forever and ever, and have as many frisbees and balls and treats as you'd like. You'll get to see all your friends again, and me, and this life you have now will be but the blink of an eye in the scheme of eternity. It'll be almost as if it never happened."

He wrinkled his muzzle. "I don't think I want to live forever, Mom. I get pretty tuckered out after we just play fetch for a while." Chaucer paused and took a step toward me, nuzzling my neck with his cold, wet nose.

"I'll be good, Mom, and not because I'm scared of The Kennel, or because I need a reward. I'll be good because it feels good to make you happy, and to not hurt my friends. And if I only get this lifetime of being with you and them, that's ok by me. Because that seems like an awfully long time to squeeze in a lot of love and play already."

And after giving me a quick kiss on my cheek, my dog turned and started off in the direction of home.

I had no choice but to follow his lead.

why I'm an atheist

I'm an atheist. Some people like to call me a "militant" atheist, because they think that demonizes me. But I think it's awesome. I picture myself all badassed-out like Lara Croft, armed with weapons that shoot laser beams of rationality and common sense. I will take you and your magical thinking down, muthafucka.

Being an atheist doesn't mean I beat up homeless people or eat babies (though they are delicious). It just means I don't believe in the existence of supernatural deities, including Yahweh, Allah, Mbombo, Rod, Pangu, Brahma, Thor, Zeus, Hera, or Atum, to name just a few.

I'm an atheist because I see no reason to believe the Judeo-Christian creation story over any other creation mythology. Because I don't believe in talking snakes, consciousness-raising apples, global floods, virgin births, zombies, alchemy, peep stones, angels, ghosts, devils, magical Jesus-flesh crackers, or babies springing from heads. Because I believe that calling these fairy tales "metaphors" is a convenient, modern-day way of distancing oneself from the fact that, for millennia, they were considered anything but. Because I believe it is hypocritical to cherry-pick biblical verses for literalism or symbolism, depending on the stakes.

I'm an atheist because I know the gods people believe in at any given point in history are a result of the wholly arbitrary circumstance of their birth. Because I know that had I been born in 18th century India, I'd have been raised to believe in Vishnu. If I'd been born in ancient Greece, I'd have worshipped Aphrodite. If I'd been born in Afghanistan, I'd believe in Mohammed and Allah. As Mark Twain says, "The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also."

I'm an atheist because I see no reason to take the bible any more seriously than any other religious text history has passed down, and passed over. Most holy books have more or less the same content anyway. There is very little that's original in the Christian bible. Proscriptions against certain crimes ("sins") have been in place since the development of civilizations. The Golden Rule is a necessary precept for any society to survive. Aesop has more to teach us about wrong and right than the Christian bible, which is a hate-filled tome of questionable authenticity and authority. It contradicts everything modern man has learned about cosmology, geology, physics, physiology, and medicine. It's stuffed to the gills with genocide, murder, incest, slavery, misogyny, and misanthropy. The Judeo-Christian god of the bible is a sadistic, vengeful, and jealous tyrant who punishes thought crimes with eternal physical torment.

I'm an atheist because I don't need an archaic set of rules written by goat-sacrificing tribesmen thousands of years ago to give me a moral framework. Because I believe that determining right from wrong is a matter of personal common sense and collective, societal self-interest. Because the concepts of "sin" and "damnation" are a leash and chokehold created and maintained by tyrants and their lackeys in order to manipulate and dominate others through fear. Because I was born in the 20th century, not the first, and I know that eating shellfish isn't a moral crime, any more than wearing mixed fiber clothing, or walking my dog on Sunday, or having oral sex with my boyfriend.

I'm an atheist because I believe that anyone who tries to tell me an omniscient, omnipotent being would equip some humans with a biological predisposition towards same-sex attraction, and then judge and punish them for acting on it, should stop spending so much time worrying about the personal lives of others and go offer Yahweh a fatted calf. While they're at it, they should sell their smartphones, cars, and homes, give the proceeds to the poor, and go live the Christ-like life they so sanctimoniously cluck about.

I'm an atheist because every part of my body belongs to me and me alone. What I do with it and to it is my business, and not subject to the concerns or jurisdictions of others who want to impose their supernatural beliefs on me.

I'm an atheist because I rely on my faculties of reason to make conclusions about the natural world and to determine what is ethical and moral - not the proclamations of old men claiming to have a direct line to god. Because I have and practice intellectual autonomy. Because I won't accept That's just the way it is, and we believe it because it was written in this serious-sounding book as an answer to life's biggest questions. Because I know anyone who claims to represent or speak for a god is a charlatan, a crook, and a liar. There are no prophets, anymore than there are soothsayers, witches, wizards, or tooth fairies.

I'm an atheist because I'm not afraid of death. Because letting go of the need for an afterlife frees me up to fully appreciate the one I've got right now, here today. Because the beauty and wonder of the natural world is sufficient on its own; I don't need it to be filled with invisible forces of good and evil, in order to make sense of things that happen.

I'm an atheist because one life is enough.

If you're a voting atheist who values reproductive freedom, who wants children to be taught science instead of lies, who believes in equal rights, and who recognizes the necessity of secularism in government, why not step forward and say so, too? You're not nearly as alone as you might think.

letter to a questioning believer

I'm incredibly excited for you. I, who have been one of your harshest critics. I smiled to hear you say I'm not sure. Aren't those three of the most liberating words you've ever spoken? Doesn't it feel good, to admit you don't know? You're in good company. Nobody knows. Least of all those who claim to.

You're on a path. The same one I'm on, though yes, you're much further behind me. I'll walk slowly, if you'd like, so you have a chance to catch up. There is so much we can talk about, so much I can show you that will bring you joy and peace and excitement for your life. Questions will beget more questions, and you'll fall in love with asking and wondering. Rationality and reason and observation and experience - they are ballast which will give you something sure and strong to cleave to, when superstition and nonsense and fairy tails start to fall away.

You've made strides others don't have the strength to make. You've asked yourself questions they refuse to even consider. Whereas others don't have the courage to even light a candle, you are shining a spotlight. With so, so many people watching. That is a brave and noble thing, and you are to be commended.

Keep going. Keep thinking. Keep asking questions, of yourself, and of anyone who tries to tell you they know The Truth. Keep deciding for yourself. Keep feeling the exhilaration of autonomy.

Look at the world around you. Take in every sight, smell, sound. Once you realize it's all there is, that this life is the only one you've got, it will all become infinitely more precious to you. Every day will be a treasured gift.

Some will try to scare you by saying you're on a slippery slope. And do you know what? You are. You know in your heart that you are. And that's ok. You shouldn't scramble for purchase on ground that won't hold you up anyway. The foundation is shaky - shakier every day. The more light you shed on it, the more you'll see that. Give in, and let your doubting mind take you on a journey. It may be fast and furious or it may be plodding and slow. It may take months and or it may take years. Go at your own pace. Let yourself slide down the slope, because there is something good and firm to land on at the bottom.

There's your good heart and your strong, curious, questioning mind - and those are all you need. You already know it. Don't be afraid to feel it. Some day, you'll even be able to say it. You won't be alone when you do.