I Shine This Light For Boston

It has taken me a while to parse my feelings on yesterday’s tragedy in Boston, a city dear to my heart. A city of great friends, and joyous memories. And I find my answer in the words of great men, and the wisdom of a a geeky creed that has seen me through the collapse of my life in Washington D.C. and the battle with cancer that have tested me these past three years.

I hold with Theodore Parker, who was later paraphrased by many, most notably Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and President Barack Obama, that the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice. Because the world is getting better. It gets better slowly and there are always setbacks, but my hope for the world will not be snuffed out by any violence, any terror, any tyranny or injustice.

And that is why acts like this are ultimately futile, no matter how hard the cynical and hopeless try, no matter the violence and brutality of those of us who have gone astray, the hope of Humanity is an unquenchable flame, and it will see us through.

I shine this light for you, Boston.  I shine it from atop this mountain, I shine it for those whose courage drew them toward danger that they might help their fellow man.  I shine it for the wounded, persevering in the face of darkness.  I shine it for all those angered and grieving.  I shine it for those three who were lost. I shine it for those who are defiant in the face of fear.  I shine it for you, wherever you are, reading this, in the hope that its light might bring comfort and inspiration to you as it has to me.  My light is small, but it will never go out, for as the Blue Lanterns say, Hope Burns Bright.

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The Epic Legends: The Great Trial of the Sword Kings

I know I have only posted one epic legend before, but lo, another has happened during my long absence.  A force that will no doubt shape many things to come.  Read on, dear friends, and learn of the Great Trial.

Over the past two years I became a proper adult human.  I know, you’re thinking “Surely, Sword King, you could never be considered Adult or Human!” and two years ago I would have heartily agreed.  Oh how times have changed.

Before I fought with raid bosses and people taking things too seriously, I fought with women, mostly in an attempt to get them to end the, my god, nearly ten year dating hiatus.  I’ve slayed trolls and took a picture straddling the Washington Monument, as if it were the great stone phallus of freedom granted to me for my unchallenged cocksmanship.

The foes I’ve faced of late have been far different.  I’ve had to deal with problems financial, navigate the treacherous labyrinths of federal and state bureaucracy.  I’ve had to watch as my father, a great man, was broken down by the state of the world and fell into depression, bitterness, and cynicism.  I’ve watched constant pain take its toll on him, I’ve raged at The Man for doing nothing to help.  I’ve made miracles happened, made promises I can’t keep, and kept promises I thought impossible to keep.

In September of 2009 my father lost his job after over a decade of hard, honest work.  At first I found myself in a panic, and then, as days turned into months I started to find solutions.  Solutions, sometimes from the unlikeliest of places.  From World of Warcraft, a good friend of mine needed a place to live in Northern Virginia for an internship.  We had a spare room and rented it.  His help came at a time when our resources were all but spent.  It gave us nine months of precious time, time to think, time to regroup.

From the mother of a man I consider a brother, and among the best, most stalwart friends anyone could have, I learned of a government disability aid program that did not require an extensive work history.  I applied, and just as the now-Guild Master was moving back to school, I was certified disabled.  I had enough money to make up for what was lost in rent.  Once more, we had time.

Time, however, grows short quickly when you’re living hand-to-mouth, making every penny count.  My aunt Gail and, yes, even my mother provided significant financial aid and support during the Great Trial of the Magic Sword Kings.  As bureaucracies stalled, bungled paperwork, the clock was running out.  My father’s own application for Disability was taking a long time, unemployment money had run out early this year, and I was pulling miracles out of my ass on a semi-daily basis.

My greatest duty, though, was to try and be a rock.  An immovable object of belief and hope that would keep my father and I from being swallowed by the storm.  Being the nerdling I am, I took a liking to the philosophies and purpose of the Blue Lantern Corps, who wield the power of hope, to which there is no equal.  I wear a Blue Lantern ring on my finger to this day to remind me that no matter how black the night, All Will Be Well.

If I learned anything from this, any advice I can pass on to you, take your strength where you can find it, even if it seems silly to someone else.  Never be ashamed of what makes you strong.

Hope and willpower and luck will only last so long, though, and the reality was that August was going to be my final month in D.C.  There was no avoiding it, the lease was up, the money would either be utterly depleted, or reinvigorated.  I hope for your sake you never have to live through a month, knowing that you stand on the precipice, and your fate is no longer within your hands.

In July, my life, and the lives of my entire family were at a great crossroads.  We waited breathlessly for word on a disability determination.  It is a very strange thing indeed to hope with all your being that the government agrees that things are, in fact, as painful as you think they are.

Two paths lay before me. If the money were to come through, I would be able to move away from DC, preferably to New England, and know I had succeeded in my task.  I would know that I had kept my promise to stand by my father through the dark and the light until we emerged triumphant.  We had no idea if it would happen, but day after day I would look my father in the eyes and tell him “I have no doubt.  We will succeed in this.  We will make it through.  We will survive.”  I believed it, harder than I believed anything.  I would, at times, recite the Blue Lantern oath as a sort of mantra, to keep me focused on giving hope, and holding hope.

Down the other path, the path of least resistance, waited catastrophe.  My father would have been utterly crushed, and I, for all my effort, would have followed suit.  No doubt I would have eventually made my way into the care of my mother’s family.  My father, though, my father had nowhere to go.  No one to turn to.  His family all but abandoned him long ago, and he abandoned them in turn.  If this had indeed been the outcome, I would not be writing a blog post.  I fear I would be writing a eulogy.

I’ve never faced an existential threat that didn’t come from the darkness within me before.  Like many who suffer from mental illness I’ve done horribly stupid things.  Over the past two years I’ve overcome addiction, I’ve found treatment for what turns out to be a supremely rare circadian rhythm disorder that is found most often in the blind.  I’ve made my peace with love lost and chances missed.  After twenty-four years, I have left Washington, D.C.  Reading my own blog (which I do think is a form of intellectual masturbation, but sometimes a man’s gotta do, you know) I remark often about how I “gotta get out of this place”.  Well I did.

The outcome was not ideal, nothing ever truly is.  We were victorious, though.  I was victorious.  I was right.  I remember sitting outside on that fateful September day when this long trial began, thinking I would never survive it.  To grow up is something people do in different ways.  Most go to college, or get jobs.  I fought my way through the dark to save my family.  And I kept my promise.  I never lost hope, I never lost faith, and I stood by my father as he has stood for me time and again.  I fought the world and won.

I do not write this from the forests and rivers of New England, rather the foothills of the Appalachians, four hours southwest of Washington.  It is peaceful here.  There is a tranquility that over time, I hope will heal many of the battle scars that I endured.  I know now that I can resume my life having survived the dark, and emerged the stronger.  Sure, Jerry Falwell’s megachurch and “university” are five miles down the road, and there is a church next to the local dildo shop, but that’s fine, after what I’ve been through I can deal with this.  I am happy to be able to look out on a clear night and see the sky filled with stars.

I’m a different man now, than the one I was when I started this blog.  A more proper man in some ways.  A wiser Sword King, to be sure.  And sitting here, at the dawn of a new day in my life I am reminded.  As Scott Mosier said, and as I echoed in my very first post here at The Chaos Fold, “Not every moment rules.”

But then again, some moments do.

This is one of them.

in fearful day, in raging night, with strong hearts full our souls ignite, when all seems lost in the war of light, look to the stars – for hope burns bright