Friday, April 15, 2016

Bad Guy

It's like I'm in the dirt, digging up old hurt
Tried everything to get my mind off you, it won't work
All it takes is one song on the radio you're right back on it
Reminding me all over again how you fucking just brushed me off
And left me so burned, spent a lot of time trying to soul search
Maybe I needed to grow up a little first
Looks like I hit a growth spurt
But I am coming for closure
Don't suppose an explanation I'm owed for
The way that you turned your back on me
Just when I may have needed you most
Oh, you thought it was over
You can just close the chapter
And go about your life, like it was nothing
You ruined mine, but you seem to be doing fine
Well, I've never recovered, but tonight I betcha that whatcha
'Bout to go through's tougher than anything I ever have suffered
Can't think of a better way to define poetic justice
Can I hold grudges, mind is saying: "let it go, fuck this"
Heart is saying: "I will once I bury this bitch alive
Hide the shovel and then drive off in the sunset"

Saturday, January 16, 2016

12 Goals to Becoming my Best Self Possible

Every January 1st, many people around the world start their year with a resolution to better their lives in some meaningful way. Perhaps they aspire to live a healthier lifestyle, as many often do, or maybe they want to be a better parent or partner and have an external impact on the lives of others. I've never been one to make New Year's resolutions, but this year is different for me - in a good way. The first week of January I came across some motivational videos on YouTube (because why not), and it got me thinking about what I wanted in life and why I wasn't taking immediate action to accomplish those things. The advice from the videos evoked an internal excitement in me unlike anything I had experienced in awhile. For the first time in months I felt inspired - not just to be happy, but to actively seek happiness. I reluctantly accepted that happiness couldn't just be a goal. It had to be a state of mind. So at some moment, during the middle of the video, I knew I had to set goals to reach that state of mind. I want to be happy. I want to be successful. I want to be my best self possible this year.

It felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders when I came to that conclusion. Up until then I knew I wanted to be happy and achieve both personal and professional goals, but I made excuses and allowed myself to make little to no progress by telling myself that success would find me. In reality, I was being unsuccessful. When unsuccessful people set goals and start thinking about what's going to be required to accomplish those goals they begin to limit their expectations of themselves and what's actually possible. Specifically, unsuccessful people say three types of things:

First, they often times say "I don't know how to do that" - so they stop.
Or they say "I don't have those things" - so they stop.
Or they say, "I'm not like those people" - so they stop.

A successful person takes their limitation and puts it on their agenda as a goal to accomplish. When a successful person says "I don't know how to do that," they don't stop at that realization. Instead, they say "My job is to go learn that;" or when they say "I don't have those things," they respond with "My job is to go create those things;" and when they say "I'm not like those people," they reply "My job is to become more of that person who can accomplish those things." Successful people must first be their best self possible and that is why I am committing myself to becoming my best self this year.

But what does it mean to be my best self? How do I become my best self? In many ways I've already done so by simply committing to the improvement of myself - something I hadn't done in years. But it goes even further. Today I am better than the person I was yesterday, and the day before that, and so on and so forth. Tomorrow, I am going to take the things I learned today, apply them where necessary, and continue to inch closer to my goals. Being my best self means I change my attitude and approach life with optimism rather than pessimism. Becoming my best self means I act on my newfound attitude to create positive developments in my life rather than remaining complacent to current situations. All this must come from within, because only I have the power to make the most out of my life. I want to think this clearly everyday and remain just as determined on December 31st, 2016, as I am today.

So for this year I am committing myself to accomplish one major goal each month. These are goals, both personal and professional, that have been on my radar for quite some time now, and for one excuse or another have not received any momentum. This is not a New Year's resolution. Being my best self will be a way of life and that is partially why I am writing this. I want to be held accountable for my success or lack thereof, and you're going to help me do it. By typing this out I have now made family and friends aware of this goal. Those who know me well enough know that I am a determined individual who, in the past, has enjoyed participating in monthly personal challenges, such as No Shave November and adopting a vegetarian diet; among other things. While these voluntary challenges have allowed me to create fun tests for myself, I received little tangible benefit to personal or professional development.

I am starting the year off, like many others, with a goal to get into the best physical shape I have been in in a decade. And I don't mean I will be completing a couple reps on free weights. I'm pushing my limits. For the month of January I will run a mile in under 8 minutes - something I haven't done in probably 12 years. As an asthmatic who probably worked out a dozen times in my entire college career this is going to take some dedication. Since watching the motivational videos the first week of January I have made it to the gym almost every day; and that's damn good for me. Dedication leads to results so I am forcing myself to take a few puffs of the inhaler and reach intermediate goals leading up to the full mile, such as running a half mile in under four minutes.When you're body is healthy, all other goals become much easier to reach; and I want to reach this goal.

I'm not sure if I will record my goals in a public forum. I thought about vlogging, blogging, or even using snapchat to share my daily progress with everyone, but that just seems too ridiculous for some of my personal goals; and quite frankly I don't think I could provide much entertainment value aside from a monthly update. So now that you know my first goal to becoming my best self I will assume that those who care to know my other monthly goals will go out of their way to ask me and be genuinely interested in my growth. If you too would like to become your best self possible this year feel free to contact me - even if we haven't spoken to each other in a decade. Reaching our goals is always easier with support and encouragement from others. I'm looking forward to this time next year.


Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The Saddest Truth

One day, whether you are 14, 
or 65
you will stumble upon someone
who will start a fire in you
that cannot die.

However, the saddest,
most awful truth
you will ever come to find -

is they are not always
with whom we spend our lives.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Confessions of a Pro-Life Atheist - Origins of Consensus

It can be said without argument that all who are against abortion have at least one thing in common. Be that as it may, the process in which we come to that conclusion is oftentimes a result of many different factors, thus our beliefs, while similar in principle, can be quite different in theory.

Dozens of people have asked me why I am pro-life.

In the past it didn't seem like such a hard question to answer. After all, if I have the ability to form a belief then surely my answer to such a question should come without forethought. However, I have never been asked by a pro-life Christian to clarify my position as a pro-life Atheist. Admittedly, the question has become a bit more difficult to answer because of the unnecessary adaptation. It was my presumption that this was not a confusing concept, but once I began to compile my thoughts I soon realized where confusion could emerge. The purpose of this article is to clear up some of the misconceptions about pro-life non-believers by providing a general comparison between Theism and Atheism in relation to the abortion issue and contributing a personal account of my own journey to the pro-life movement. An argument from morality has been purposely omitted.

To state the obvious, the only difference between my label as a pro-life Atheist and your label as a pro-life Christian is our outlook on the existence of a deity. Similarly, the difference between a pro-life Jew and a pro-life Muslim is once again rooted in religious differences. That being said, we can easily deduct that an anti-abortion position is not dependent upon adhering to a specific religion; thankfully. For example, one can be religious without ever taking a position on the abortion issue. Likewise, one can be pro-life without being religious. Because the two labels are independent from one another, it is not hard to imagine the diversity of  personal convictions within the pro-life community. This may become a confusing concept to those who base their pro-life position on the belief that they could not differentiate between right and wrong without guidance from their respective deity. This is where I believe some confusion and hesitation may occur.

The Christian religion, for the most part, has adopted a position on the abortion issue. Churches which have chosen to take a position on the issue have subsequently suggested that its followers do the same. To the contrary, Atheism asserts one thing and one thing only. That assertion makes no mention to the the issue of abortion or any other social issue for that matter and therefore does not require that Atheists accept any more or any less. An Atheist's position on any other topic is simply a personal opinion.

Personally, my pro-life beliefs belong to the discoveries in science. While I am sympathetic to women's rights and would even consider myself a Feminist as would any man who believes in gender equality, the right to life outweighs our personal discomforts. I will hesitantly concede that had I been born 10 years earlier I most likely would have considered myself pro-choice based upon the absence of scientific evidence within the pro-life movement at the time. More so, if science had proven that life began at birth I would have had no foundation for an anti-abortion belief. Thankfully for the pro-life movement, science has reemphasized the movement's argument that abortion takes the life of an unborn child. Today, the movement has realized that science is much more likely to reach an audience which is increasingly looking for demonstrable evidence from which to base their position on social issues; not just the church's suggestion.

It's worth mentioning that the internet also had a substantial effect by allowing me to better research fetal development and share information and ideas with others.When I began exploring the issue as a seventeen year old back in 2006, the internet allowed me to see the larger picture, unlike the tri-fold pamphlet provided by my Catholic church. The pamphlet provided me with no context or arguments from the opposition. Heck, I didn't even know there was an opposition.

I am not sure why the issue ever captured my attention, but it evolved beyond into a passion. After a couple years of researching the issue I decided that I would adopt an anti-abortion position based on the scientifically accepted conclusion that conception was the formation of a unique and living member of the human species. This was done absent of religious arguments and by 2008 I was beginning to question a different position - Theism. That year I wrote a pro-life blog which turned out to become the catalyst for my pro-life activism. The MySpace blog [insert joke here] titled The American Holocaust, was my first attempt at arguing against abortion from a secular perspective. The amateurishly written blog received hundreds of comments and at times was the third most active blog on MySpace. At that moment I was convinced  that the incorporation of religion was unnecessary to make a point against abortion and instead allowed readers to view the issue as a scientific and moral obligation rather than just a Catholic issue. The internet had allowed me to understand the various ways the issue affected people, something I would have never understood within the walls of the Catholic church.

I am currently concluding the final chapters of God is Not Great by the late Atheist, Christopher Hitchens; a post-abortive father himself. Hitchens, a hero to many non-believers, also noticed the reality of the unborn human life. I would imagine it took a great deal of courage to advocate the value of the unborn human despite the overwhelming number of supporters whom he knew would quickly voice their disapproval. For unfortunate yet obvious reasons, theists were just as reluctant to commend him. Undoubtedly, Hitchens has taught many non-believers and believers to rethink their position on the issue for purely scientific reasons. Like myself and the thousands of other pro-life secularists, Hitchens recognized that science had demonstrably proven that life does exist before viability and therefore deserved proper acknowledgement from the pro-choice side.

“As a materialist, I think it has been demonstrated that an embryo is a separate body and entity, and not merely (as some really did used to argue) a growth on or in the female body.  There used to be feminists who would say that it was more like an appendix or even-this was seriously maintained-a tumor. That nonsense seems to have stopped.  Of the considerations that have stopped it, one is the fascinating and moving view provided by the sonogram, and another is the survival of ‘premature’ babies of feather-like weight, who have achieved ‘viability’ outside the womb. … The words ‘unborn child,’ even when used in a politicized manner, describe a material reality.”
-Christopher Hitchens, God is Not Great (pp. 220-21)

It seems to me that the confusion many people have when I tell them I am a pro-life Atheist happens to originate from their perception that Atheism and pro-life activism are incompatible. This is a half-century old product of religion's disproportionate obsession with the issue and the subsequent and illogical 'We want to be everything you're not!' attitude of Atheists. The middle ground, a pro-life Atheist (or a pro-choice theist), doesn't seem to suit either side. I think it is fair to call us the step-child of the pro-life movement. Arguing against abortion goes beyond the policies or teachings of any religious text. It is not an issue restricted only to the religious but rather an issue concerning human rights and therefore defies the labels of religion, political affiliation, race, gender, sexual orientation, and so on. If we can agree that abortion wrongfully takes the life of a living human being, then all other labels which define our individuality should be irrelevant to the issue at hand.

- A pro-life[r] Atheist
  Patrick Ptomey

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Missing the Point

Just yesterday, tens of thousands of pro-life people gathered in Washington, D.C., for the annual March for Life to protest the legalization of abortion. Recent years have seen as many as 300,000 participants march and this year's numbers are still being calculated. If you've ever attended the march or seen photos you've surely noticed the diversity of ages, gender, races, school affiliations, and churches represented. The pro-life movement does not have a single face. Despite this claim, one can't help but acknowledge that if the pro-life movement did have a face it would be the Catholic church. It's no secret that the pro-life movement has a strong tie to Christian beliefs and values. Despite abortion being a human rights issue, religion has been the largest force behind the pro-life momentum for nearly four decades.

I'm not one to entirely denounce religion's involvement in the movement. After all, I do believe that connecting with others on a spiritual level sometimes may result in saving an unborn child from abortion. However, I'm not afraid to criticize the position that religion has obtained in the movement thanks to the majority of pro-lifers. It can go without arguing that the vast majority of people who associate with the pro-life movement do so because of their Christian beliefs and/or upbringing. Despite a belief in Christianity being the single largest common belief amongst pro-lifers (ignoring the fact that they are all pro-life), a recent poll by The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life suggests that being Christian doesn't constitute a belief in rights for the unborn. (1)

Religion in the United States (1)
Christian: 78.4%
Non-Religious: 16.1%
All other Religions (Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, other): 4.7%
Don't Know/Refuse: 0.8%

Out of the 78.4% of Americans who are Christian (1)
51.3% are Protestant
23.9% are Catholic
and 3.3% are of other denominations (Mormon, Jehovah's Witness, etc.)

Now for the interesting part
Despite the Catholic church's strict and public position against abortion, 55% of American Catholics say abortion should be legal, compared to 68% of non-evangelical Protestants, and 39% of evangelical Protestants. (1) This suggests that most Christians, by a slim margin, are actually pro-choice, or more appropriately, believe that abortion should be legal in all cases! Who would have thought?!

One more thing. According to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, 65% of women who obtained abortions in 2008 identified themselves as Christian (37% Protestant, 28% Catholic). Based on disproportionate ratios, it is necessary to note that those who identified themselves as non-religious or adhering to other religions are much more likely to have an abortion. (2)

So why  does the pro-life movement continue to treat abortion like it is a religious issue instead of a human rights issue? The pro-choice movement is seeing more Christians associate themselves with abortion rights and those who are most at risk for abortion are being shunned by the pro-life movement's Christian propaganda. The science is there. We know when life begins. We understand fetal development. The facts are on our side, yet we choose to carry around signs that say "Pray to end Abortion" and "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you". We approach a pregnant woman who is walking into the abortion clinic and hand her a brochure with Jesus on the front instead of a fetal development brochure. It is clear that for the last 39 years the pro-life movement has had one goal above all, serve thy God first. Our original goal of ending abortion and its causes have been overshadowed by our tendency to glorify God in the process. If we can be certain about one thing, it is that as a whole the pro-life movement does not benefit by being associated with Christianity. Abortion will remain legal in the United States until we treat it as a human rights issue, regardless of what religions may say.

As we begin to prepare for the 40th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, I challenge all pro-life leaders and followers to change the way they approach the abortion issue. Currently, when we speak to each other about the issue, we often times reference God and the Bible to justify our position on abortion. What we fail to realize is that this apologetic, which may appeal to like-minded Christians, doesn't appeal to people with different belief systems. We're preaching to the choir and ignoring the section of the population who are most likely to have abortions because we fail to adapt our message appropriately. Instead, approach the issue from a secular angle. You will see that you have the opportunity to reach so many more people. Atheists and other non-religious people and religious minorities will be more open to your arguments because you are speaking in an agreeable language called 'facts'.

In the past, Biblical arguments against abortion prevented the majority of Americans from identifying and agreeing with pro-life beliefs (with the exception of one poll in 2009 that suggested 51% of the nation was pro-life for the first time since 1973). Statistically speaking, by using secular arguments we have a better opportunity of changing the minds of 57% of the population. For once, we may have more than 51% of the population identify themselves as pro-life because people with differences in religious beliefs won't feel unwanted or unwelcome within a secular pro-life movement.

(1) The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. U.S. Religion Landscape Survey. N/D.
(2) Jones RK, Finer LB and Singh S, Characteristics of U.S. Abortion Patients, 2008, New York: Guttmacher Institute, 2010.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

One Thing

What's the one thing that you want in life?

If you were guaranteed a single thing and everything else was a product of fate, what would you choose?


I want one thing and I won't say what it is, but it would bring me so much more. It would have a compounding effect. I don't know if I will ever have it. I remain optimistic that someday I will have it despite everything that says it won't happen. I'm just not willing to give up, yet. It could be the best or worst thing that has ever happened to me. Hopefully its not the latter.

Despite my efforts to obtain it I am falling behind. I'm losing it. I've already lost it and now I'm just trying to get it back. Really, I may have never had it to begin with. I fell off.

If I was guaranteed a single thing, I know what it would be.
But I'm not.
And I don't know if I will ever have it.
I guess that's the game of life.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Just a Contemplative Rant

I'm not perfect.
I'm far from it.

Sure the saying 'Nobody's perfect' holds some truth, but I still aim for perfection. Perhaps it's not perfection that I am aspiring to reach but rather success. I want so much in life. As a kid I had high hopes. I never imagined experiencing any low points in life. My vision of life was comprised of success through hard work. A beautiful family supported by an abundance of wealth and recognition. Surely I'm not the only one to have such big aspirations.

When I was younger I remember telling some of my friends that I would be a millionaire someday. I didn't know how I would get there, but it was bound to happen; just watch. Today, I still optimistically believe that I will be a millionaire. My life has changed and upon graduation next year I will be $100,000 in debt. The sad thing is that I'm closer to owing one million dollars than I am to actually being worth one million dollars.

If you asked me where I wanted to be in 10 years I would respond with the following: working at a landscape architecture/urban design firm in the city (no preference of city), possibly married by then, maybe even have a kid on the way, and most importantly be satisfied with where I'm at in life.

Is satisfaction even attainable? I doubt it.

How can I be happy in life if it's impossible to be satisfied? Must I have to settle for less? Maybe so, but I'm not one for putting on a fake smile. I need to find the satisfaction in life and the pleasure derived from it. Without it I'm still a lost child.

There are so many things that I wish I had going for me. I am at the lowest point in my life. Hopefully I never experience this low again. Don't feel sad for me, these are consequences of my actions and maybe I will learn from them and grow. Sometimes I sit in bed and wonder what the future holds for me. Or maybe that's the problem. Planning for the future, or more appropriately put - wishing for the future, doesn't ever seem to work out. Some say I shouldn't set my goals so high but I can't comprehend that. There is no satisfaction in being unhappy. Then again, look where I am now. My life is like a gambling problem. I'm betting high in hopes that I will hit it big at least once.