In the end, only the soul matters.

Here is one that doesn’t fit into any category.  I mean it kind of does, in that it can be part of my SCA Life tag but it is about everything.

I have seen several posts from friends about “fake” friends, about “haters”, about negativity.  Let me share some life lessons.

I don’t know that my life experiences have been unique (insofar that each life is unique) but I do think they are not usual.  I grew up as a military brat.  For those who don’t know, that is slang for I was a child of military parents.  For much of that time, my parents were officers.  I have lived in North Dakota, Pennsylvania (while Dad was in Vietnam), New Mexico, Massachutes, Northern Florida, Alabama, Southeast Virginia, different part of Northern Florida, college in Pennsylvania, summers around the DC area, grad school in Pennsylvania again, then finally here in Central Illinois.

Up until college, I moved about once per 4 years.  My earliest memories are from Massachutes. My favorite memories are from Virginia.  My most painful memories are from Alabama.  My lowest point in my life memories are from the second stay in Florida.  I say I grew up in Northern Florida.  I went to 5 different schools before college and two different high schools.

So that is the back story, so what is the point?  I got to reinvent myself roughly every four years.  My mistakes, in general, didn’t follow me.  When we moved, no one knew who I was, so I could be whomever I wanted to be.  No one knew what mistakes I had made, so I could pretend they didn’t exist.  I rarely kept touch with my former friends and it is to the point now that I can only remember the names and faces of less than a dozen of them.   To an extent, that was similar when I moved out to Central Illinois.  No one knew who I was or what things I had done so I could be who I wanted to be.

Except this time, I wanted to stay put. I didn’t want my kids to have my kind of life.  I wanted them to see the world or at least the country and we have done some of that.  But I wanted them to have a stable group of friends, people they had grown up with, things I didn’t.  And I wanted them to have to live with who they were.  That sounds cruel, doesn’t it?  I really believe it is for the better.

Like I said, I was used to morphing myself whenever I wanted to.  Any mistake I made would soon be forgotten.  My early career in Central Illinois quickly reinforced that I couldn’t just run when I wanted to.   There are times that I lied at work.  It was mostly to cover that I had forgotten something but would soon put it right if only someone didn’t look too closely.  They did.  I was arrogant.  I believed I was smarter than anyone else.  And if I wasn’t, I could fool them long enough that I would be gone before they figured it out.  It didn’t work that way.  And since I never really had close friends, that I didn’t need close friends.  It didn’t matter, people would come and go but I was constant.

These mistakes and the fact that I could no longer run from them meant I had to figure out who I was.  Deep down.  Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t think I was ever a BAD person.  Flawed, certainly but not BAD.  But I had done bad things.  I had actually, physically hurt people.   So I started learning from my mistakes.  Perhaps I should have learned some of those lessons earlier in life.  But since the easy path for me was to run and hide until no one cared, I often did that. I didn’t need to learn when my past could be erased.

Kids changed some of what I was.  I had to morph again.  I had to be the Dad I wanted my kids to have.  I was mostly there.  Divorce changed more of it.  I had to learn some big lessons there.  Getting remarried, that changed more still, for the better I believe.

MMO’s and RPG’s still allowed for some more morphing.  I remember Ordan.  Man, was he an angry young man.  The arrogance hadn’t quite gone away yet.  Viv was a lot more fun and responsible.  I liked being Viv.  Some days, I miss being Viv.  Then came the SCA.  Another chance to be whomever I wanted to be.  I like Oswyn.  I see Oswyn as a better Sean.  I stopped wearing my wedding ring and started wearing the simple woven wire ring Oswyn has as a reminder to me in my every day life to be like Oswyn.

Then the fire happened.  I could have, I mean there was a significant chance, I could have lost everything.  The fire started right outside my oldest son’s room.  It burned through my wife’s closet in our bedroom.  In all likelihood it was the solid oak bookcases stuffed with books that actually bought us the time needed to realize what was happening and get out alive.   This was a life lesson.  What is really important.  What is worth saving.

We replaced many of our favorite books.  Amongst them is a series by Eric Flint on what would have happened if Belasarius had to fight against a cyborg from the future.  It is actually pretty good.  In that series, Belasarius brings over some Kushans to his side and also another excellent Hindu/Buddhist fighter.  One of the sayings these characters often said was ,”in the end, only the soul matters.”  Yeah the fire drove that lesson home.  Christian philosophy touches on this too, “what good does it a man to gain the whole world, if he loseth his soul?”  In the end, it is the soul that matters.  I learned to forgive.  Really truly forgive.  I spoke to my ex-wife shortly after this and forgave her for our troubled marriage.  I let go of hate.  I don’t care what people say about me or do to me.  I am lucky to have the things that matter to me yet.  Why waste time or brain power on these lesser things?  Do I back slide?  Sometimes but at least I have goal.  I have a measure of what I should be.

Ok, still where am I going with this?  Look at your lives.  Look at the lessons you should have learned.  In the end, it is your soul, that intimate part of you, that matters.  Is pettiness worth your soul?  Is politics (real world or SCA) worth your soul?  Is being less than you can be worth your soul?  Is being a false friend worth your soul?  Is worry about the above things in other people worth your soul?  You are what you want to be and what you put energy into.  Form your soul into the best version of you you can think of.  My faith teaches that the world returns to you what you give. It makes sense then to give the best of you so that you get the best in return. It also follows that if you give the worst of yourself, you will get the worst in return.  Karma = female dog.

The Egyptians believed that at the end, your soul would be weighed against a feather.  If it weighed more, it was cast out and fed to a crocodile.  In the end, truly, only the soul matters.

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