When I was a kid, maybe 10 or 11, I used to debate with my younger brother, Jason, about who loves mom and dad more.
“Well I love mom and dad THIS much,” as I would hold out my hands as wide as they could go.
My brother would walk across the room and notate a distance from the door to the bed.
“I love them this much,” he’d say.
It wasn’t always a contest with him, but when it was, it was usually goofy things like this that got us both going.
“I love them to infinity,” I would say, smugly, thinking I’d bested him.
“Well I love them to infinity +1,” Jason would say. Despite young age, and to this day despite his demeanor, he’s always been a subtle intellectual force I’ve frequently misunderstood.
“That’s not a number,” I would exclaim.
“It is for me,” he said.
“Well. then I love them to infinity + 2,” he’d say.
This continued this way. And as I learned more math. I would add in things like
“Well then I love them to infinity times infinity”
“Well then I love them to infinity to the infinity power”
No one ever really ‘won’ these discussions and debates, a lesson I had learned at an extremely young age about abstract concepts in general, but the weird lesson behind it all stuck with me.
Fast forward to the year 1990.
I am married. And me and my wife at the time, Donna Suppes aka Donna Gregory aka Donna Damron aka Donna who the hell knows what last name she has now – her and I a are up in Las Vegas visiting her sister and brother in law, Darlene and Paul.
While I enjoyed their family, and I certainly enjoyed the trips to Las Vegas, one thing I dreaded was the inevitable conversations Paul would thrust upon me concerning religion.
You see, I’ve always been what I consider a religious and spiritual mutt.
I had been this way pretty much since I obtained this thing called a mind at a young age, a mind which had me investigating the questions religion tried answering such as what happens with life after death and why are we here – on my own from a very young age.
Paul, however, was a very strong willed Mormon who held no qualms about pushing his beliefs onto others.
And for some reason. Every time our family units got together. He’d make it a fact to corner me and thump me with his bible.
That’s a metaphor, not to be taken literally, by the way, he didn’t literally hit me but psychologically the equivalent was certainly there.
So one Christmas. I’d been working too much, and wanted to relax with Donna, who’d agreed with her sister that we would head up there for the holidays and spend a week there.
The last time Paul and I had met. I walked away with a sour taste in my mouth and told Donna “I am NOT going to allow myself to be put in that position again”
And here I was, involuntarily thrust into a situation I was dreading.
So I told Donna. Please tell Darlene to tell Paul “NO RELIGIOUS CONVERSATIONS”
Otherwise, I was refusing to go.
We arrive. and two days in. It was going fine. Then a hard freeze hit Las Vegas on Christmas day, which caused the pool to freeze over, and it was beginning to cause damage to the walls of the pool with the expanding ice. It was 4 inches thick, and Paul and I were out there for a couple hours breaking up the ice with hammers, taking extra attention not to cause harm to the sides of the pool.
The entire time.
Paul would not drop his discussions.
Explaining how disappointed he was in my lack of faith.
Telling me how horrible a man I am for not believing in something greater than me.
And how someone like Donna deserved better, and what is going to happen when she has children?
He was relentless.
I told him to drop it.
But he wouldn’t.
It just didn’t stop. For three solid hours. And I bit my tongue for all of it.
At about 5pm, the girls – who were fabulous cooks – called us in to dinner.
Thankfully, the torment had stopped. But we still had 5 more days with them.
Paul, unfortunately, didn’t get the idea that the conversation was done, and continued throughout dinner, despite the glares from just about every adult at the table. He was bound and intent on converting us right then and there to Mormonism.
It was. Difficult to say the least.
And after dinner.
We sat in the chairs.
When I was thinking, wrongly, “Ok, he’s done,” as we relaxed with a glass of wine.
It was painful.
And as he continued. Shutting everyone else out. I set down my glass of wine.
And let loose.
“Paul, have you ever – ever – considered that other people may not WANT to share your ways and beliefs? Have you ever – considered that many of us – me especially and I suspect Donna does as well – we want something different than a predesigned master plan that was laid out for us before we were born that answers all the questions that we may WANT to find different answers for?”
I’d been relatively tight lipped the entire time. But going on 5 hours now of this crap. I was done.
I remembered the time I spent with my brother playing the infinity game.
“God, to me, is an abstract notion in much the same way infinity is that I may or may not EVER hope to understand, and I am PERFECTLY fine with that. But what I don’t appreciate is someone who calls themselves FAMILY who relentlessly disregards my feelings, who takes advantage of the relationship and spends 5 fucking hours cramming their beliefs down my throat hoping to convert me…” I said.
He was about to respond, when I added in.
“Have you ever considered I don’t WANT to be like you?,” I ended.
It sounded rude. And while it wasn’t intended as such, it hit a mark I needed to.
“What’s that supposed to mean?,” he said.
I’d just started in software, programming, and was actually enjoying myself, and Paul had spent a great deal of time trying to get me to come up to Las Vegas to work in construction with him. A business that was both stressing him out and leaving him absolutely exhausted physically and mentally at the end of the day.
“I don’t want to be in construction,” I said.
I’d told Donna to break the news to Darlene before we went that we weren’t going to move up to Las Vegas while I would take Paul up on his offer to take a job working for his construction company. As someone he’d trusted, he’d been hoping I’d partner with him and take some of the drudge work responsibilities, but quite frankly, I was lazy and enjoyed my desk work.
Paul flipped out.
Donna clearly hadn’t broken the news.
The heated debate instantly turned into a screaming match that almost went to blows, when Donna exclaimed:
“We’re leaving,” she said to Darlene through her tears.
In hindsight, I realize the entire situation wasn’t about me and my beliefs.
It was about Paul. He clearly saw me as a light at the end of the tunnel to help offload his successful construction business, and he wanted our families to be close, so he insisted on shared religious values which preserved his vision for the future.
But that wasn’t my vision.
And as Donna and I arrived back in Glendale, Arizona at around 1am on the day after Christmas.
I looked over at her, asleep in her seat next to me.
As a tear went down my cheek.
Paul had a point about something that I needed to fully consider. I’d gotten married to Donna knowing full well she was more of a prize to me than she was a spouse and life partner, and while she was a wonderful woman who I absolutely love to this day.
But the point he’d made in the conversation.
The words I needed to hear.
Wasn’t what he said about us.
It was what he insisted on in his own relationship.
The same thing Darlene embraced.
Which was one and the same thing Donna herself treasured.
Even though I may choose to walk as a mortal on occasion, there’s always a part of me that knows – deep down knows – who and what I am. Relationships – come and go because time itself – even as a mortal – moves differently for me than other mortals.
So by the time Paul relentlessly confronted me.
I’d already known who I was and am as a deity. And since believing in other deities is a sure fire way to lose my own mind due to insanity, instinctually, out of simple self preservation I avoided religious discussions and confrontations throughout my life.
I’ve gotten more direct lately, and just shut people down by telling them I’m God. That’s my way of saying I’m proud of you for having your own beliefs but I’ve reached that destination for my own life and am moving forward along that path, which I will gladly discuss.
But back then with Paul.
I realized that Donna and I were fundamentally broken from the start.
And I was decidedly not interested in turning her into someone she doesn’t want to be.
If you’re reading this.
I’m in a literal sense effecting the me then through space and time as I type this.
I invented the affair. Led myself to believe it so thoroughly, that I created Chris. And the situation that caused our divorce.
I love you. To this day.
But you and I had to become two different people, and this was the only way I knew how.
Being God. Like Infinity. Like Eternity. Are all abstract notions that only form in tangible ways when we assign value to them. But this never takes away from the fact they formed from abstract concepts and do not replace those abstract concepts.
You had a different idea for God than I did.
There’s nothing wrong with that.