Monday, July 4, 2011

And Then There Are the Special Days

I guess this may sound shallow to many of you who hold substantial places in the world, who are well educated and who lead busy and productive lives, and especially to those of you who have completed a formal study of philosophy, but music and reading have always held great influence over my life and these things have contributed greatly to the development of a personal philosophy of life that has sustained me more and more as I grow older. I enjoy these things a great deal.

A couple of years ago my wife bought me an iPod for Christmas. I hardly knew what an iPod was and I hadn't asked for one. I'm one of those people all of you have in your lives, more than likely, who is difficult to buy for at Christmas time. I like to purchase my own shirts and underwear and ties. When I want something, I tend to go out and buy it. So much of what someone might think to give me as a gift I already have or don't want or need.

But on that Christmas, a couple of  years ago, my wife decided to buy me the iPod. It's dark gray, very small and sleek; and I quickly came to see why Steve Jobs has sold millions of them and why he runs a multi billion dollar company.

I had never had an Apple product before I received that iPod. And to tell you the truth I didn't expect ever to own an Apple product. My impression of Apple was that it didn't play well with the rest of the world. I'd always had PCs since my very first computer. I knew PCs. I liked PCs. I had a cell phone which I really liked. Not all the bells and whistles, but it met my needs. I was satisfied with my cell phone and my PC and I didn't want to be troubled with a switch to Apple products.

But the iPod was a seducer. From the first, it simply amazed me. I began to load my collected CDs onto the iPod and when I had everything loaded from a big stack of CDs there was still a great deal of space left empty on that little piece of electronic gear. It was simply amazing to me what could be packed into that little electronic device containing a small electronic chip. Somewhat reluctantly, I made my first visit to the Apple Store's music download section. And I found a wonderful world.

I also found another reason why Steve Jobs is a billionaire. He not only hooks us with these well engineered electronic divices, but then he builds an electronic store to sell us all kinds of things to make them fill our every need. And in my case, needs I didn't even know I had.

There in the iTunes store I found all the music I've loved throughout my life, including the songs I had purchased as a teen ager on large vinyl LPs that inevitably became scratched and worn. Now I was purchasing them again and downloading them in digital format to this tiny little electronic device which would not only play the music but combine it all into various playlists and even remind me of music I didn't have but was sure to want. In addition to that the digital format would never get scratched and never wear out.

That little iPod renewed my lifelong love of music and I liked it so much I soon went out and bought my first iPhone. The things that iPhone will do are simply amazing to a guy whose family never had a phone in the house until he was a teenager. The iPhone lays the world at my fingertips almost anywhere I happen to be. And as an added bonus, I don't have to carry my iPod around with me. I can leave it in my gym bag because the same music library that is on my iPod is always in my pocket on my iPhone.

My son bought me an iPad for Father's Day recently; and now, I am busy stocking it with iBooks which amazingly I can read right there on my iPad in the font I choose and with just the right amount of backlight to suit my taste; and if I find myself waiting somewhere with time on my hands such as waiting in the doctor's office, I don't even have to have my iPad along. The same library that is on my iPad is on the iPhone in my pocket. I can just pull out my iPhone and it will pop up the very page I've read to on the iPad. So now that these divices have made reading so convenient I am reading much more than I have over the last few years and enjoying it more.

Music and reading have played a great part in building my personal philosophy of life. As I see it, song writers are among the greatest philosophers that have ever lived.  The wisdom that is embodied in the lyrics of a song can pack an awesome punch. And of course, through reading, one can go any place in the world or even out of this world and to any point in the past or the future. There is nothing imaginable that cannot be explored through reading.

It was through music and reading that I made the first dents in the hard armor of guilt and self hate that my bisexuality had constructed around my life and my being. It was Christian gospel music which spoke to me telling me that all I had to do was give whatever I had over to God, even my pain and my self hate, and he'd give the rest. He'd give whatever it took to make me whole.

It was in reading the words of atypical and unconventional Christians that I came to see that there were Christians, Christians with exceptional credentials, who had a view of God that did not line up with the view I had been bombarded with in my youth and found so troubling. They always said faith was meant to bring peace. The kind of fundamental faith that they tried to force into me as a child and young adult, I did not find in any way peace inspiring. But these unconventional Christian writers knew a God of love and grace. They did not know and did not believe in a God of wrath and vengeance that all to often is the face of modern fundamental Christianity.

And this view of God was not something necessarily new. It was just new to me. Books referred me to other books. One of the books that impacted me greatly had been written more than 150 years ago by a man named John Campbell McLeod. The book was entitled The Nature of the Atonement and it spoke to me of a God I thought no other Christian had conceived of other than me, the type of God I had always thought should exist but had been told all my life did not exist by other Christians.

That book laid the foundation for more contemporary books such as Philip Yancey's What's So Amazing About Grace? Yancey's book brought home to me that there was indeed a God whose grace was greater than all my sin, all my pain and all my self hatred. It changed my life and the way I see my life.

And it hasn't just been religious music or religious books that have impacted my life and contributed to my philosophy of life. Secular music and secular books have had their own contributions. I lead a blessed life. That is not to day that its always been a happy one or an easy one. It hasn't been. There have been big bumps and jarring collisions along the way. I've had my share of sadness and pain and feelings of hopelessness. There have been those days of doubt and despair and then there are the special days.

As I get older I find how very true, with a bit of a twist, the words to Marvin Hamlisch's Oscar Award winning song are: 

     Can it be that it was all so simple then
     or has time rewritten every line?
     If we had the chance to do it all again
     tell me would we? Could we?
     Memories, may be beautiful and yet
     what's too painful to remember
     we simply choose to forget
     So it's the laughter we will remember
     whenever we remember
     the way we were.

There was a time when life seemed simpler, but it was also a time when life was filled with more pain and despair. But life has been good to me. It has given me the opportunities to rewrite the old paradigms of hate and despair and change them into paradigms of hope and fulfillment. I have made a choice to forget the old paradigms which are too painful to remember and I choose to remember the good times when I think of the past. Some may think I'm seeing the past and the present through rose colored glasses. I'm not. I can recall the past, I have just learned to focus on the good side of it and on the new paradigms of the present.

And its not that life has now reached a point for me in which there are no disappointments and in which there is no pain. There are those days, of course; and then there are the special days. Its far more difficult to focus on the good of the present than the good of the past. I guess, perhaps that's because the present is dynamic and the dangers are still very much a possibility wherein the past is more static and the dangers past and handled. But while there are always nagging guilts and nagging questions and nagging burdens of life to deal with, I find that often enough if I only look for them, there are many of those special days.

And I'm not talking about a special day as a 10 year old would define it. I'm not talking about the day you get to spend in Disneyland. Special days are days more special than Disneyland, less pricy and much more priceless. Special days cannot be had for money. They can only be had as a karmic gift. Special days are the days you notice and experience the sunrise or the sunset. Special days are the days you spend with a friend who needs you or one you need and he's your friend in spite of your need.

And I still need friends. Everyone does, even with a positive outlook. Friends are a part of the anchor of our lives. They keep us grounded and integrated into the society around us. They support us when we need it. They let us know when we're screwing something up. I need my friends, but more and more as I get older, I'm happy to know my friends need me.

More and more as I get older, I find that the old admonition in the Book of Acts is indeed true, "It is better to give than receive." Even more meaningful to me has been the Prayer of St. Francis:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury,pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen
Special days are the days when you really understand and you really believe that your bisexuality is a gift and like the gift of my iPod, that I didn't ask for, didn't want and didn't know I needed, opens whole new worlds of joy and understanding and convenience and peace and a sense of awe.

Special days are the days you enjoy giving to others and are thankful for what others have given to you along the way.

Special days are when you recognize that you can never repay what your friends have given to you. You can only take their gifts to you and pay them forward to someone else in need and you know in the doing of that paying it forward that they debt is paid.

I'm the guy who didn't want to fool with making a switch to Apple products. I am writing this blog using my new MacBook Pro. I've come to love this MacBook Pro just as I love my iPod, IPad and iPhone. They are not my life. I'm not that shallow. But they enrich my life and I'm very much aware that in enriching my life my acquiring them has enriched the lives of Steve Jobs and 12,000 or so people that he employs. It is in providing me and countless others around the world with great products that they received deserved reward. 

I didn't ask for my bisexuality. For years I didn't want it. I tried everything I could to send it back. I couldn't imagine needing it and I couldn't imagine liking it. But I've found that I do want it. I do enjoy it. It enriches my life. It has expanded my concept of life in ways I could not have otherwise imagined. It has introduced me to friends, I would have otherwise never have known.

Don't get me wrong. You're bisexuality can be a dangerous thing. So is your car. So is the plane you willingly and thoughtlessly board to fly around the world to your business appointments. So are the stairs you take every day in your home. Life is dangerous. It is filled with risks. But we learn, quite naturally, to negotiate these risks and we minimize the risks while making the things that are inherently dangerous serve our needs and enrich our lives.

You simply must learn to do the same thing with your bisexuality. It won't go away. It's inherently dangerous, but you can let it destroy you, or you can moderate it and use it in a way that will serve you and enrich your life. There are days we wish it were not so, and then there are the special days when we are filled with awe over the richness of our lives.

Look for the special days. You'll find them tucked right in there behind a change in your attitude about your bisexuality.

Jack Scott


  1. Thankyou again Jack for a brilliant article, which I found quite moving. I can relate to so much of what you have said.A dear friend opened my eyes to the words of songs I had known for years, but never really listened properly to.The lyrics of some are so powerful, meaningful and moving and can at times be painful to listen to, as they pull up feelings that have occurred.
    Thankyou Jack for taking the time to share with us all.

  2. Thank you for a very kind letter. Letters are always appreciated and it makes me happy to know there are others out there who recognize that songs are more than entertainment.

    I have a fairly small iPod collection of about 800 songs. Most of them are my favorites from years ago. But you know what, I still hear new messages in the lyrics sometimes.

    Do you know this one?

    All I had to give was imperfection
    There was so much more I lacked than what I possessed
    I could hardly even comprehend his offer
    I'd give all I had
    He'd give the rest

    I said if you knew me you wouldn't want me
    My scars are hidden by the face I wear
    He said child, my scars go much deeper
    It was love for you that put them there.

    That is such an amazing song. A perfect song about the grace of God.

    Thanks again for following the blog. I'm so happy to know that something in it reached out and touched you quite deeply.


I deeply regret that I must reinstate the verification process for those who want to leave comments on my blog. This is due to the intolerable amount of spam that spammers are attempting to leave on the blog.

At the same time I am changing settings so that those of you who have a Google Blogger ID or other recognized blogger ID will not have to have your comments moderated. My hope is this will encourage more readers to take the time to comment. The fact is I want to read comments with those of you who disagree with me as well as those of you who agree with me. All I ask is that you keep your comments clean and non-threatening.

The only reason I take the time to write this blog is to spur your thoughts and comments. Please do not let the spammers cause you not to comment. I know entering the verification words and numbers is a pain in the ass, but I hope you will not let the spammers cause you not to comment.

I still very much look forward to hearing from you.

Jack Scott

Anyone can comment on what I write in this blog. Regretfully, the recent amount of spam in my email account as required that I reinstate the word verification process for comments which I personally hate.

But at the same time I have loosened the comment moderation process so that those of you who have a Google Blogger ID or other recognized blogger ID will no longer need to wait for your comment to be moderated. I'm hoping this will tempt you to take the trouble to comment.

The truth is I want respectful comments both from those who agree with me and those who do not. All I as is that you keep comments to the point, clean and non-threatenting.

I look forward to hearing from each of you.

Jack Scott