“Ben Is Back”, Another Heart-Aching, Yet Very Realistic Movie About Drug Addiction

I caught a film back in November titled “Beautiful Boy” that was about the sad demise of a teenage drug addict and the agony his father went through attempting to save his kid from a deadly addiction. Now, two months later, another film has been released, “Ben Is Back”, that is quite similar in subject but deals with an extremely distraught mother instead.

Starring Julia Roberts as Holly Burns, the movie revolves around the sudden return on Christmas Eve of her teenage boy Ben (Lucas Hedges) from a 77-day stint at sober living. While “Beautiful Boy” chronicles a far greater time period and shows a kid’s slow descent into drug addiction, “Ben Is Back” covers only a 24-hour period, yet it feels like it covers an eternity, especially when viewed from Holly’s perspective. It’s obvious the whole family is on edge when Ben abruptly returns, all except for his youngest niece and nephew who couldn’t be gladder he was back. His sister Ivy (Kathryn Newton) on the other hand seems quite upset about him being there, as does his stepfather Neal (Courtney B. Vance). While we aren’t shown the exact reasons why, it’s made overly apparent that Ben has ruined each of the prior Christmas’s because of his drug addiction and that no one trusts him. After Neal agrees Ben can stay for a day to share the holiday with his family, Holly sets down some serious ground rules that Ben must abide by, of which he agrees. While Ben does his best to proclaim how much healthier he is and how he doesn’t ever want to go back to drugs, it doesn’t take very long for the temptations of it to return. As Holly desperately tries to keep it together and cling to control of her son from relapsing, the plight of her teenage drug addict son quickly becomes all too real once again.

Because I was closer to my mother and sister, rather than my father, I related far more to “Ben Is Back” than “Beautiful Boy”. During my addiction-laden years, I saw the very same sadness and trust issues that my addictions caused in them. My mother never did get to see me as a fully sober individual, but thankfully my sister has and years later, we’ve been able to mend our relationship and grown much closer.

Nevertheless, “Ben Is Back” moved me incredibly and reminded me once again of all those addictive periods in my life where I too made promises just like Ben but never kept to them, where I said all the right things, yet still tore the curtains down, and where I had such potential but never quite reached it. That’s why it was utterly heart-wrenching for me to watch Holly try to control her son’s disease. Like “Beautiful Boy” demonstrated just as well, there is no controlling ANYONE’S addiction. Parents, family members, and other loved ones often try anyway though and in turn, shell out huge amounts of time, energy, and money in an attempt to rid the disease from the person they love.

IT NEVER WORKS.

No matter what the addiction is, the only person who can end it is the addict themselves. They must find the desire from deep within to be rid of it and that tends to usually come by connecting to a Higher Power in one of their bleakest moments. No matter how many attempts my mother or sister, or anyone else for that matter, made to help free me from any of my addictions, I kept falling back into them time after time. It wasn’t until I finally got sick and tired of being sick and tired from my addictions did I ever make the change. It wasn’t until I had lost pretty much everything that meant something to me did I ever make the change. Thankfully, both “Beautiful Boy” and “Ben Is Back” portrayed that reality oh so well.

Sadly, Ben Is Back doesn’t get into the 12-Step programs out there that support people like Holly, Ivy, or Neal, people who have become seriously codependent and addicted in their own way with their constant attempts to remove a loved one’s addiction. CODA, Al-Anon, ACA, and a number of others all exist for this reason. Hopefully, if you’re someone who’s struggling with an addict that you love dearly, you’ll consider checking out one of these programs and also watch both “Beautiful Boy” and “Ben Is Back”, as doing so, you’ll get the truest picture of what your reality really is with any addict.

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

A Spiritual Perspective On That Wolverine And Buckeyes Rivalry…

Since moving to Ohio almost five years ago now, I quickly became aware of a huge rivalry between Michigan and Ohio. For those who are from this neck of the woods, know that I’m NOT speaking of the one that often plays itself out on the roads here between drivers from opposing states. Rather, I’m speaking specifically to the one between the Michigan Wolverines and the Ohio State Buckeyes football teams.

Every year since first coming to this area, I’ve witnessed the constant bashing, taunting, and bragging those goes on around here from far too many. It seems to come up constantly in conversations all around me. It’s also on plenty of social media postings as well. And by the time the annual big game between the two arrives on the weekend after Thanksgiving, the trash talk has usually reached its peak. That is, until one of the two teams become the victor, leaving the other to bear the load of a ton of shaming comments. Frankly, I’m not a fan of any of this, as I feel there’s too much negative energy that comes out of it.

The reality is that I don’t participate in this rivalry because of this. I do my best to avoid any of those rivalry conversations that take place and I tend to avoid even watching any part of that big game when it’s on. While my partner did which a short bit of it this year, I opted to not tune in because honestly, I have far more difficult things going on in my life right now that causing me great stress. Choosing to really support one of these teams is only going to cause me get more stressed out and generate even greater pain within me. That why when this past year’s game took place down in Columbus where Ohio State ended up winning by a landslide, it didn’t affect my energy one bit. I can’t say the same was true though for a number of Wolverine’s fans I know, as I’m sure would have been true if the game had gone the other way.

Regardless, I know that watching sports and being a fan of any team is simply a pastime for many and often a tradition that’s passed down in their families. Yet, it wasn’t a tradition in mine, as hardly anyone ever watched any type of sports with any regularity on our television when I was growing up. On and off over the years though, I eventually did become a fan of several teams from different sports, except I constantly found my energy experiencing a roller coaster of emotions because of it. When my team was winning, I always got tons of temporary highs. But when my team was losing, I had the tendency to get temporarily depressed. Ultimately, when my health began to decline years ago, I found myself not wanting to experience any of that energy yo-yo anymore. That’s because it became just too stressful on my whole energy system every time I engaged in it.

It became too stressful on my mind and body to see the team I supported lose and even more stressful to endure all that bragging, taunting, and bashing that came from those who supported opposing teams. It also became stressful on some level when my team was winning, as I too often resorted to the very same trash-talking, which never made me feel very good inside whenever I did that. Thankfully, none of this seems to be in my make-up now and is the very reason why I don’t consider myself a true fan to either of these rival teams.

I’m sure this huge rivalry will probably go on for generations to come in this area and will continue to generate more of that bragging, taunting, bashing, and trash-talking. Many of these team’s fans will probably also keep on posting the things they do on social media, like something I saw not too long ago where one of these team’s mascots was receiving simulated oral sex from the opposing team’s mascot. While it’s not my place to condone this or any other behaviors that often arises out of this rivalry, especially since I once participated in it, I’m just thankful I’m not taking part in it anymore. Whether a team wins or loses really doesn’t matter to me these days. What matters more is just treating people with unconditional love, which for me, includes all people from Ohio and Michigan, and all Wolverine and Buckeyes fans…

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

“Boy Erased”, An Eye-Opening Film About The Truths And Many Horrors Of Gay Conversion Therapy Programs

There are many in this world who continue to believe that homosexuality is an abomination and a sin in the eyes of God. While I don’t believe it’s my place or anyone else’s for that matter, to ever try forcing any of them to see it differently, the same can’t often be said for them, especially when one of them is also a parent facing a child’s struggle with sexuality. As many of those parents frequently resort to sending their child off to gay conversion therapy programs with the sole hope it will remove the part of them that’s gay. This is the very premise of an eye-opening movie I recently saw in theaters titled “Boy Erased”.

Based upon a true story from Garrard Conley’s 2016 memoir of the same name, the film follows the life of Jared Eamons (Lucas Hedges), who is the son of a Baptist preacher, Marshall (Russell Crowe) and a Baptist mother, Nancy (Nicole Kidman). When a disturbing sexual event from his life catches up with him, Jared is directly confronted by his father and asked if “IT’S” true. When Jared finally admits his deepest, darkest secret to his parents, that he thinks of men, his father becomes immediately disturbed, so much so that he consults a few other pastors for help, both of which convince him to send his son off to a gay conversion therapy program. Once there, Jared witnesses the truth and many horrors of the program at the hands of chief therapist Victor Sykes (Joel Edgerton), including physical abuse, mental torture, shaming, and intimidation. While some remain in the program and privately admit they are just “playing the part”, others desperately try to remove the piece of themselves they’re constantly told is a disgrace to God. It is there where Jared will ultimately face himself and decide once and for all, is he truly gay and going to accept that’s how God made him, or is his thoughts of men really just some sick part of himself?

Sadly, some 700,000 children have been sent off to gay conversation therapy programs just like the one Jared Eamons took part in, many of whom became psychology worse because of it with some even eventually resorting to suicide, all to escape the pain inflicted upon them by both their families and the “therapy” forced upon them.

While my parents never attempted to force gay conversion therapy programs upon me, I have experienced first-hand quite a few ultra-conservative religious folks over the years attempting something similar. I’ve been repeatedly warned by them I’d never make it into Heaven if I remained a “practicing homosexual”. I’ve been informed by them my sexuality is a choice and that God didn’t create me in this way. I’ve been rejected from membership from a number of prominent churches in the process as well. And I’ve even in recent years been advised that my long-enduring health issues are nothing more than a punishment from God for being gay. After watching “Boy Erased”, I was actually grateful that the brain-washing attempts upon me over the years by ultra-conservatives wasn’t anything even close to what Jared Eamons went through.

What I found most sad about these types of programs after watching the film and reflecting upon my own personal experiences with those who attempted to “convert” me into what they believed was the only God-given way, is how many in this world have ended up permanently turning away from God because of it all. Far too many gay people I’ve met over the years seem to care less about God, all because of the constant message they’ve received that God hates gays.

Ultimately, I believe I was born gay and that God made me this way. I don’t believe God made a mistake with me, or anyone else for that matter, especially when it comes to one’s sexuality. And I wholeheartedly don’t believe that God called me to live a life of either celibacy or a life in a relationship with a woman I don’t have true feelings for. To arrive at this place of acceptance with myself and my sexuality took experiencing many moments of stillness in meditation and prayer. God eventually did answer, many years ago, leading me to understand that whomever I entered a relationship with, man or woman, I was only to love them with all my heart, mind, and soul, and that’s all that mattered.

Unfortunately, much of the world still believes otherwise and continues to send questioning youths and even adults off to places like gay conversion therapies or worse. The fact is, until everyone comes to realize that God loves and accepts everyone, regardless of their sexuality, and that a person’s sexuality is for them to decide and no one else, more and more people are going to feel rejected by God by the actions of ultra-religious conservatives forced upon them.

Thankfully, Jared Eamons survived what was forced upon him and was able to go on to share his story with the world in both a memoir and now a movie that is extremely eye-opening to the truths and many horrors of gay conversion therapies, so much so that I know I’ll be praying for some time to come for anyone who ever has had to endure them…

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

“Beautiful Boy”, A Heart-Aching, Yet Inspiring True Story Of A Teenage Drug Addict

I have seen plenty of movies over the years that have portrayed the demise of an active alcoholic or addict quite well, but rarely do they ever seem to show the painstaking efforts involved on their journey to get sober or the effects it has upon their family and loved ones. Thankfully though, one recent film titled “Beautiful Boy” actually does just that.

Based upon the true story of David Sheff (played by Steve Carrell) and his son Nic (played by Timothy Chalamet), “Beautiful Boy” tells the heart-aching story of an exceptionally gifted young teenage boy’s rapid descent into drug addiction and the agony it brings not only him, but also his father and family. From one relapse to the next, Nic finds himself in a vicious cycle that always befalls anyone who severely suffers from the deadly grips of drug addiction. Through all his lies and deception, promises that never get kept, a constant emotional instability, and even theft, Nic’s family experiences all too strongly, the sad plight of a drug addict and how powerless they truly are to ultimately stopping it. Yet, in the end, Nic’s story is also an inspiring one, one that finds him eventually discovering the path to recovery, but not before his and his family’s life gets completely unraveled into utter chaos.

My heart truly did ache while watching “Beautiful Boy”, mainly because I kept thinking this kid was going to die from this disease, given how low of a success rate there is with those who fall prey to drugs like he did (mainly Crystal Meth), and given the number of sponsees and friends I have personally lost to overdoses. In fact, just over four years ago now, I sponsored someone who was pretty close in age to when Nic was deep in his own drug addiction. Unfortunately, his story didn’t end like Nic’s, as he was one of those who continued to relapse until he eventually overdosed. Sadly, that’s often the case these days with many hard-core drug addicts. Nic was actually one of the lucky ones who somehow survived this disease and is now living to tell his hard-earned road to recovery.

I think the hardest part in watching Nic’s story play itself out on the big screen was in seeing how his family tried every possible tactic and level of support, hoping it would bring him into sobriety. But, that’s the biggest misconception that parents and loved ones often have of alcoholics and drug addicts in their lives. They think they can control it or cure it and sometimes are blamed so much so into believing they are the cause, yet none of which are true. The reality is that an addict is the only one at fault for their disease and is the only one who can ever bring themselves into sobriety and recovery. In the end, there is NOTHING anyone else can do to bring that about, no matter how much love, anger, tears, grief, guilt or manipulation gets expressed.

That being said, I recently became aware of a family who continues to spend countless money, hours, and anguish trying desperately to get their adult son into a life of recovery, yet in the process have been making themselves grow sick, weary and imbalanced. I only wish they would discover what Nic’s family discovered in “Beautiful Boy”, that being a 12-Step program called Al-Anon, which is specifically tailored for families and loved ones of addicts. In Al-Anon, one can find plenty of help, help in learning to cope with an addict, not help in trying to fix them, which isn’t possible. Thankfully, Nic’s family got that help and hopefully so will this other family as well.

Nevertheless, “Beautiful Boy” is an exceptional film that truly chronicles the full spectrum of drug addiction, on both the family and the addict themselves, through all the trials, tribulations, and suffering, to eventual healing and recovery for both. I highly recommend seeing this movie and hope it ends up getting recognized during the upcoming awards season.

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

Why Do People Turn To Booze In The Movies When They Are Feeling Sad?

Why is it that people always seem turn to alcohol for comfort in the movies when they are feeling sad? It’s something that’s bothered me ever since I found my way into sobriety and recovery. Don’t people know that alcohol is a depressant and only makes one’s despair even worse the more one consumes it?

Every time I watch a movie now and see someone get fired from a long-time job, or experience a death of a loved one, or go through a terrible break-up, or face any other difficult circumstance in life, I know it’s inevitable that I’m about to watch them head to some bar to get downright drunk or hang out with close friends who proceed to get them downright drunk or go home to get downright drunk all by themselves.

For what purpose does this serve?!

Frankly, getting downright drunk on alcohol only accomplishes one thing. It initially numbs the senses and helps to keep a person from having to face head-on whatever tragedy they’ve just experienced. But what I find is insane about this looking back on the number of times I did this behavior myself is how it never accomplished anything whatsoever, other than delaying my healing process of working through all that despair.

But even more important is the fact that during all those moments I was drowning my sorrows with booze, my sadness simply grew even stronger, and when I was done drowning all my sorrows with booze, the rebound effect usually felt even worse.

So, why does do so many people keep doing this then, when it really doesn’t help in any way to remove their pain? Because so long as people keep doing it, the movies are going to continue portraying it on screen.

Well, the sad reality is this. Most people when they experience any sort of tragedy or difficult circumstance of life that feels totally painful usually allow their ego to seek something to comfort them, rather than face it directly to begin the healing process.

Sometimes I think that’s why our world is so screwed up, because everyone keeps trying to numb the pain they experience from living life by using a bottle of booze or some other mode of comfort time and time and time again.

When my own trail of booze ended decades ago, I continued to numb myself from any of those difficult circumstances of life when they hit me by seeking sex, sweets, caffeine, casinos, relationships, and money. But none ever helped one bit. None helped to heal any of my pain that came from those difficult circumstances of life.

Sometimes I wonder if this is why I’m in so much pain now because instead of dealing with life on life’s terms without numbing myself, I kept piling it all up inside until one day, back in 2010, I opted to finally face it all head-on and boom, this wave of physical pain hit me as soon as I did. And now, as I heal from all those things I tried to hide from with all those modes of temporary comfort, I kick myself seeing how my body is having to go through a process I might never have had to go through if I had just faced it as it happened.

Nevertheless, maybe if people would just start facing their pain as it happens, instead of numbing it with a bottle of booze or some other numbing agent, they might avoid a lot more pain and heartache in the long run. And maybe the more people start doing this, the more I’ll have to stop seeing movies portray alcohol as they answer to all of life’s difficult circumstances…

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

The Frustration I Have With The Netflix Series “Grace And Frankie”

A few months ago, my partner and I decided to start watching the Netflix series “Grace and Frankie”, starring Jane Fonda as Grace and Lily Tomlin as Frankie. While we both have really enjoyed the show overall, there is one aspect of it that truly bothers me and it deals with how gay people continue to be regularly portrayed in the majority of scripted entertainment.

But before I talk about that, it’s probably best I give a quick description of what “Grace and Frankie” is all about. In a nutshell, it’s about two women who forge an unlikely friendship after their husbands of 40 years (Martin Sheen as Robert and Sam Waterston as Sol) come out of the closet and declare their love for each other. And while the chemistry of Grace and Frankie is what makes this show extremely comical and keeps drawing me back, it’s how Robert and Sol’s relationship is depicted and how the rest of their gay friends are depicted that frustrates me greatly.

You see, as soon as Robert and Sol come out of the closet at the beginning of this series, they are immediately illustrated as a very flamboyant couple who like showtunes, cooking, and theater. Essentially, they are portrayed as feminine in nature, as is each of their closest friends on the show as well. And as the series progresses, the viewer learns through one of Robert’s friends, Peter (Tim Bagley), that most male gay couples are in open relationships after a few years of being together because they get bored with each other. I.E. They are no longer monogamous and instead allow themselves to have sexual partners on the side or together, but usually with “rules”.

Being a gay individual myself, these gay stereotypes are by far the most frustrating part of scripted entertainment, because there are many gay men in this world just like me who aren’t flamboyant, who don’t like showtunes, who don’t enjoy cooking, and tend to abhor most theater-based productions, especially musicals. Just as much as there are plenty of gay men out there like me who are in long-term monogamous relationships and haven’t ever been in an open-based one nor have any desire to ever be in one either. Yet, this is still the way the majority of scripted television entertainment keeps portraying gay men over and over and over again. Thankfully, there have been a few movies though in recent years like Brokeback Mountain and Moonlight that have worked to erode those gay stereotypes and show gay men as being more masculine as well. Unfortunately, I still haven’t seen much of this being portrayed at all on scripted television though.

The very reason why these gay stereotypes on television bother me so much is because of all those people in the world who don’t have any gay friends and have never been around anyone gay in general. It’s they who end up forming judgments, opinions, and projections on what a gay person is like because of what they see represented on TV, which only causes more disunity and damage to our society as a whole. Many of them also tend to be religious people who then tend to form the belief that gay men are nothing more than godless promiscuous individuals filled with nothing but drama. And why wouldn’t they believe this when all they see on television in many of the popular shows is the same gay stereotypes? This is why I honestly wish the tide would change soon in the scripted entertainment industry and begin to show the many facets of gay culture, especially when it comes to gay men. Because not all gay men act or look like what you see depicted on television.

So, the next time you find yourself making a judgment of what you think a gay person is like just because of how one is being illustrated on a television show you’re watching, please know there are many other gay men in this world who aren’t like that and may actually be God-loving, monogamous-minded, masculine-acting individuals…individuals just like me…

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

“Alpha”, A Truly Inspirational Film About Survival, Defying The Odds, And Never Giving Up

Inspiration to keep going for a person like me who’s struggling with chronic pain is often hard to come by, but when it does, it tends to arrive in unexpected ways, as it did when I watched the movie “Alpha” in the theater recently.

Starring Kodi Smit-Mcphee as a young man mamed Keda, “Alpha” takes place some 20,000 years ago during the prehistoric past, where men and women live in small tribes, hunt for survival, and fight off the many perils that tend to threaten their very existence at every turn, ranging from the extremes of the natural elements to ferocious wildlife. As part of Keda’s tribal culture, he must go through a rite of passage into manhood by venturing out on their annual hunt for buffalo that takes them many miles from home. It becomes overly apparent from the onset though that Keda doesn’t feel quite up to the task, as he struggles early on in his attempt to start a fire and is unable to finish killing a wild boar for his father either. When he finally encounters the wild buffalo along with his tribe, his struggles continue when one suddenly charges at him, causing him to run in the opposite direction out of fear. As it attacks him, Keda’s clothing gets impaled onto one of its horns, which ends with him being thrown off a cliff in the process. As he lands on a narrow ledge far below and remains unresponsive to the cries of his father, he’s presumed dead and a sacred altar is left behind marking his passage into the next life. But when Keda awakes a day later to find a vulture pecking at his face and a badly injured left ankle and foot, he discovers his tribe is gone and must face the rite of passage into manhood alone, beginning with a very hungry pack of wolves who are hunting him down. When he injures the alpha of the pack and finds safety from the rest of them in the heights of a broad tree, he’s confronted the next morning with a moral decision to either kill the dying wolf or nurse it back to health. Opting for the latter, thus begins a spiritual journey within for a fearful young adult who’s fighting for survival, against all odds, by choosing to never give up, all in the hopes he’ll find his way back home once more.

“Alpha” was truly an inspirational film for me, mostly because I saw myself in Keda’s shoes quite a bit throughout the movie. There have been so many times, especially as of late, where I’ve wanted to give up because the odds of making it through all of my suffering have felt utterly impossible. With pain bearing down on so many parts of me on a regular basis and one thing after another frequently causing me to feel like life is ridiculously upside-down, the desire to keep going just hasn’t been there more than not. Yet, somewhere deep within me something has kept me going, some desire to not give up, no matter how bad things may seem or get. And like Keda, who too fought through the very same feelings along his journey, all to simply make it home, my only desire has been the same, with my home being to reach a oneness and healing with God.

So, in the end, for a movie that had no English-speaking parts and only subtitles throughout, and one that focused solely on a young man and a wolf doing their best to defy the odds of survival on a quest that seemed next to impossible, I became greatly encouraged on my own healing journey to not give up, and that alone was exactly the inspiration I needed and why I ultimately appreciated the movie “Alpha”.

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

“Crazy Rich Asians”, A Beautifully Done Romantic Film About An Unlikely Couple From Totally Different Worlds

I’m a chick flick kind of guy who really enjoys watching those gushy romantic types of movies from time to time, especially the ones were two people fall in love from totally different worlds. “Crazy Rich Asians” is a great example of a recent film that follows this very path and one that also reminded me of the ills that having a lot of money can bring.

Based upon the first book in a series by Kevin Kwan and directed by Jon M. Chu, “Crazy Rich Asians” primarily revolves around New York University economics professor Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) and her boyfriend Nick Young (Henry Golding) who’ve been dating for over a year when the movie begins. When Nick asks her to accompany him to Singapore where he’s to be the best man at his best friend’s wedding, Rachel is more than thrilled, but has yet to discover that Nick essentially comes from one of the wealthiest families in Singapore. Her first awareness of this occurs on their flight there, when she learns Nick has upgraded them to first class and was only able to do so because his family has a business relationship with the airline. When asked by Rachel what his family actually does for a living, he merely responds that they are real estate developers, but little does she know the full depth to that. It doesn’t take long for her to figure that out though when she arrives at his family’s estate for an elaborate party on her second night there.

Accompanied by her closet college friend Peik Lin Goh (Awkwafina), who also lives in Singapore, she begins to meet each of Nick’s family members and friends one by one where it’s becomes overly apparent from the onset that the majority of them are more into themselves and their wealthy status than anything else. Unfortunately, Rachel realizes all too quickly that many are not happy with Nick’s choice of a girlfriend, given she doesn’t come from money and is Asian-American. At the center of all that dissatisfaction is Nick’s mother Eleanor Young (Michelle Yeoh) who makes it blatantly clear Rachel isn’t truly welcomed there. As Rachel tries desperately to find acceptance and a place in Nick’s world where there seems to be far more judgements than anything, I found their love story reminiscent of another beautifully done romantic film I saw way back in 1990, one titled “Pretty Woman”, which was also a story of two unlikely people falling in love (Julia Roberts as Vivian Ward and Richard Gere as Edward Lewis) from totally different worlds.

Like “Pretty Woman”, “Crazy Rich Asians” depicted quite well the gap that continues to exist in modern society between the very wealthy and those who aren’t wealthy at all. While I myself have never reached any type of elite wealthy status like Nick’s family has in the film, I did grow up in a family that lived very comfortably on the financial level for some time. And with that, came a set of rules from my mother, who could have been the American version of Nick’s mother Eleanor at one point. My mom rarely approved of the majority of people I dated or became friends with once I left home, as I always seemed to gravitate to those who came from families that lived paycheck to paycheck and had very little to speak of, at least in the way of what money could buy. That didn’t stop me though from developing a number of relationships with those who came from the opposite side of the tracks so to speak, and through the years, I’d come to learn through them that money often corrupts the mind and body into doing things and acting in certain ways that isn’t founded on any solid higher vibrational spiritual principles.

Really, the sad reality I learned during that period was this. The more money and notoriety I gained, the more I became solely focused on maintaining it and sticking with those who can protect it or increase it, and in the process, the more I tended to judge and avoid many I deemed as beneath me. It was a very superficial life, which is why on some level, I’m thankful I lost the majority of that money back in 2010 when my business went under and I almost went bankrupt. Because it was then I finally got to see how much all that money had been blinding me from the truth. The truth that my heart was consistently being blocked from feeling true love for anything on this planet, other than the love for money and status itself.

This is why overall, I thoroughly enjoyed watching the beautifully done romantic film “Crazy Rich Asians” because it clearly was a great reminder to how money and status can oh-so-often come in between any true God-given love. It also reminded me as well that when people choose to live by their heart and not by money or status, that even an unlikely couple from totally different worlds can come together and unite in a love that is one to last for ages…

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

Are You An Angry Person?

Why does it feel like there’s a lot of anger constantly brewing just under the radar in so many throughout this country? Has it always been there and people simply overlooked it? Or are people growing more and more restless, irritable, and discontent with their lives and are looking for some person, place, or thing to blame for it?

I ask these questions, because I just got done watching a very introspective and somewhat controversial Spike Lee movie titled, “BlacKkKlansman”, which depicted true events that took place back in 1972 in Colorado Springs when the first African-American detective in the police department there sets out to infiltrate and expose the local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan. What makes this biographical crime film somewhat controversial though is how it ends by showing the tragic events that unfolded around this time last summer in Charlottesville when white civil rights activities and counter-protestors clashed and concluded with a car attack that ended in the death of 32-year-old Heather Heyer.

As I left the theater, I had those images of bodies flying up in the air from that car smashing into a crowd and people bashing each other with fists and weapons stuck in my brain, which led me to cry. I muttered in the process a small prayer and wondered if God was disappointed with the state of our nation, as it seems like acts of anger continue to show their ugly faces more so here than anywhere else as of late.

What’s sad is that I can’t seem to escape this anymore. I’ve seen a huge uprise of anger through the use of racist comments, even in the very area where I live. People seems like they are on such short fuses. If they’re not angry at the president and saying choice words about this administration, they’re angry at someone else or some sect of society they feel is the problem.

But what they don’t realize is that the problem is not “out there” in some person, place, or thing, it’s in them. The anger, resentment, restlessness, irritability, and discontent they live on a daily basis with is not because of the world around them, it’s because of them. Yet, they don’t want to see that. They don’t want to see that they have been swallowing some poison over and over and over again, by holding onto all that anger.

Instead, they’d rather resort to using racist words like “Faggots”, “Niggers”, “Spics”, “Chinks”, and plenty more to base their anger on, each weighted with verbal ammunition that’s meant to inflict much damage and pain. And as those types of words fly from their mouths, it not only continues to make them spiritually sick inside, it also perpetuates the very problem that seems to keep growing in this country, one that Spike Lee suggested in his film has never gone away and is merely finally coming to the surface now.

I’m inclined to believe Lee might be right, as all one needs to do is read or watch the news over the course of a single week here to see how dark our country has become. A few weekends ago in Chicago alone there were 66 shootings and 12 deaths and there have also been 154 mass shootings in the United States so far since the start of 2018! Sadly, both numbers are probably only going to increase as the year moves forward, all because of this restless, irritable, and discontent nature that keeps leading people to be filled with high levels of anger, rage, and resentment.

Believe me when I say I’ve been on the receiving end of some of this with a number of people in my own neck of the woods. I’ve seen hatred fly at me with such velocity that if it had been weighted in metal, I’d definitely be dead. Yet, because of the understanding God’s given me, I realize that hatred is not about me whatsoever, it never was. I’m just a temporary mirror for someone to throw their anger at, so they can keep on buying into that illusion their ego is telling them, that if only I’d go away, they’re life would be better. Yet, even if I did go away permanently, their life wouldn’t be better, because someone else would eventually just come along and cause their anger, their restlessness, their irritability, their resentment, and their discontent nature to return.

The same goes true for any single human being in this country. No one’s anger isn’t going to ever permanently go away no matter who is president, no matter who is getting away with what, no matter what rights are or aren’t being protected, no matter whether things like abortion is still legal or isn’t anymore, and no matter what injustices appears to have been done, as none of that is the problem. All of that is just stuff out there too many of us place our focuses on and think “if it would just change and be the way I think it should be” than life would be grand. But it’s a lie and our egos keep trying to convince us otherwise. Because even when those anger-producing things go away, meeting what our ego secretly or not-so-secretly desired, another one always surfaces, making our ego miserable all over again, and causing our anger to return once more.

I don’t want to be that person. I don’t want to be angry at anyone or anything “out there”. I don’t ever want to become someone who feels the need to violently protest or spew words of hatred towards another or think that my dissatisfaction in life will go away if some person, place, or thing changes to meet the way my ego think’s something should be.

I’ve come to believe that the answer is within each of us. I’ve come to believe that the healing is within each of us as well.

It deals with forgiveness.

 It deals with acceptance.

 And it deals with unconditional love.

Three things the ego fights viciously against because it means buying into the notion that we’re the problem and not someone or something else.

Whether you choose to believe this or not, so long as you continue to go on thinking that revenge, violence, acts of racism, or hatred-filled words are the solution to any of your anger and misery, you will sadly go on remaining a very angry and miserable person the rest of your life. Consider forgiving, letting go, loving, and accepting everyone and everything, just as it is, even when it hurts, and you will probably find your anger, misery, and discontent nature starting to finally go away, helping to heal our country in the process, from something that Spike Lee merely touched upon the surface in, with his film “BlacKkKlansman”.

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

“Eighth Grade”, A Funny But Painful Reminder Of A Film Of Those Grammar School Years…

Can you remember when you were in the eighth grade? If so, did you feel like you fit in and were accepted back then? Or were you mostly a loner and felt ignored or rejected most of the time? It’s questions like these that the film “Eighth Grade” does a wonderful job answering for a 14-year old girl named Kayla.

Played so incredibly well by a young actress named Elsie Fisher, Kayla spends the majority of her time in the movie feeling more on the outside of everything than anything else. Left to ponder her own thoughts and live in her own world more than not, Kayla is desperate to find her voice and ultimately wants to be herself, yet is so terribly afraid she’ll be completely rejected if she does. Her only outlet where she remains true to herself is through the self-help YouTube videos she regularly records. Unfortunately, no one really watches them nor seems to ever pay attention to her at school either. Her only friend and biggest fan appear to be her sole caretaker, that being her father, Mark Day, who’s also played quite convincingly by actor Josh Hamilton. Kayla does her best though to constantly push him away, as she finds his attempts to connect with her more annoying than anything. The person she really wants to pay attention to her is a boy in school named Aiden (Luke Prael), who acts like he doesn’t care about anyone or anything but himself. Yet Kayla is obsessed with him anyway and as she comes to the end of her eighth-grade year and realizes high school is just around the corner, she begins to do what so many do in their grammar school years to fit in and be noticed, that being to act like someone else who is perceived as cool or popular. As Kayla begins to move farther and farther away from who she truly is inside by adapting to what others seem to want her to be, she may just be on the very path she needs to be, to discover her true self.

Overall, the “Eighth Grade” film was a funny but painful reminder of my own grammar school years. I could relate, oh-so-well, to Kayla’s daily angst. When I was her age and about to end my own middle school years, I had zero friends, zero life, and zero fun. Most of my life was absorbed into my studies, fictional reading, and competitive swimming. I honestly hated my life back then and never felt like I fit in. I tried my best though to still do so by often mimicking what the cool kids did and generally made a fool of myself in the process. My reality was no different than Kayla’s back then, always looking on the outside, while secretly hoping to be noticed and be accepted to make my way on the inside. Sadly, that never happened until my senior year of high school when I completely changed everything about me, even giving up many of the things that I actually liked about myself. It’s then I discovered alcohol and through it I found a voice, but it wasn’t my true voice. And in all honesty, it’s taken me almost three decades later to find that for myself, to become myself, and to remain true to myself.

Alas, there is a side effect to that. I’m back on the outside looking in and find myself now often overlooked again, being regularly left off of invitation lists for parties, weddings and other get-togethers. My phone doesn’t ring much either these days with people wanting to hang out. So, on some level, I’m back to that very person I was in the eighth grade, except this time, I’m not going to adapt to what other people think I should be. I’m not going to compromise the person I am just to fit in either. I’ve decided I’m just going to be myself, and be more like Kayla, who continued to discover herself through her YouTube videos, except in my case, it’s through my very words I write in this blog. You see it’s this blog that has become the one place where I feel like I can truly be myself and shine forth the most.

In the end, the “Eighth Grade” movie really was a funny, but painful reminder of those grammar school years and ultimately helped me to see just how far I’ve come since those days where I thought I had to be like everyone else, when I really just needed to be myself…

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

“Christopher Robin”, An Endearing Film That’s All About Rediscovering Your Inner Child

While I only have a few vague memories of reading, watching, or playing with Winnie-The-Pooh and Friends as a kid, I still headed to the theater last week on opening night to see the new Disney film, “Christopher Robin” for one reason and one reason only, to appease the inner child in me.

Most of us in this world don’t appease our inner child whatsoever and few do so on a regular basis. Rather, we’re brought up to wear our “big boy” or “big girl” pants and leave that kid in us behind. Sadly, because of that, the things that once brought light and joy to our very souls are left behind as well. This is the very premise of “Christopher Robin”, which stars Ewan McGregor as the titular character in his adult years. While the beginning of the film quickly chronicles how Christopher came to meet Pooh and his friends and shows how he spent much of his early childhood playing with them, it also shows how life circumstances led to him letting them go and ultimately forgetting about them altogether in the process.

That is until one day, many years later, Pooh can’t find any of his friends in the Hundred-Acre-Wood where they all live. In his nervous search for them, he comes to the very door at the base of the huge tree where Christopher Robin once came and went, day after day, to spend with him. Suddenly, the door swings open for the first time in a very long time, longer than Pooh can remember, causing him to decide to enter it with one purpose, find Christopher Robin who can hopefully help him find his woodsy companions.

When the passage behind the door magically transports him to the very park outside Christopher’s home, it’s inevitable the two are going to meet through happenstance and when they do, it doesn’t take long for Pooh to see that Christopher has lost sight of their special relationship they once shared. Instead, he sees Christopher Robin has become totally consumed with his job, a job that has even caused him to completely neglect his wife and daughter as well, so much so, that they went on their holiday without him.

Unfortunately for Christopher Robin, he doesn’t see any of this and instead tries to quickly usher Pooh back into the tree from which he emerged after such a very short visit, hoping to swiftly return to the work he’s become so consumed with. But, when they both realize the door in the tree has vanished, what begins as a quest to return Pooh home, actually turns out to be an adventure of Christopher Robin rediscovering the very kid he left behind so long ago.

“Christopher Robin” is such an endearing film. It truly warmed my heart and brought out the kid in me quite a number of times throughout its running time. Thankfully, I learned many years ago how important it is to never lose sight of that part of me, that inner child. Deep down inside each and every one of us is still a little boy or girl who desperately wants to play from time to time and totally forget about the stressors of life. But, far too many of us never do that because we got told at some point to grow up and remain that way. Because of this, life often tends to become miserable and mundane.

We go to work to earn a living to pay the bills to support ourselves and our families and somewhere along the way, that little kid in each of us is left in a corner crying, desperate for attention. I have personally made sure though to always do my best to embrace that kid in me nowadays and never let him return to that corner in tears again, which is precisely why I regularly go play miniature golf, or tell silly jokes, or make goofy faces, or eat sundaes with tons of toppings, or watch superhero cartoons, or play Ms. Pac Man and Galaga, or do a number of other things as well. Because I know how important it is to appease that kid in me and how sad my life felt for all the times I did not.

So, if you are someone who isn’t spending much time or no time at all with your inner child these days and have very little relationship with that kid in yourself, maybe you should go see Disney’s “Christopher Robin” as well, as perhaps then you too will begin to remember someone you left behind long ago, who’s desperately been wanting to regain your love and attention…

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

“Come Sunday”, A Soulful Netflix Film About One Man’s Journey From Religious Exclusion To Loving Inclusion

There are many churches out there today across our globe that continue to preach a message of religious exclusion for only the select few, which is a far cry from the one that Christ preached, that being a loving inclusion for all, which is precisely what the Netflix film, “Come Sunday”, is about.

Starring Chiewetel Ejiofor, as Carlton Pearson, “Come Sunday” is a true story based upon this evangelist’s life as former Bishop of the now defunct Higher Dimensions Family Church, a church that once had more than 5,000 members.

Pearson, a devout Christian raised with Pentecostal teachings, originally believed to his very core, that all non-Christians were doomed to an eternal damnation in Hell. He preached this very message from the pulpit week in and week out, quite successfully for many years. He was so successful in his ministry, he even served as spiritual advisor to President George H.W. Bush in the 90’s and frequently travelled across the globe on mission trips to help save as many souls as possible by bringing them to Christ.

But, one day, while watching a TV program about the genocide in Rwanda, he felt God speak to him. In a moment filled with tears, the message he received was that God wasn’t going to punish all those people for all of eternity after their deaths, just because they hadn’t been saved. Rather, all of them were saved, and so was everyone else in the world as well, even if they never found Christ and turned their lives over to Him, which was exactly the opposite of the message he had been spreading throughout his entire ministry up to that point.

As he began to spread this new message of inclusion, versus his former one of exclusion, preaching that God loved everyone and that every soul was saved no matter what, he began to lose the support of one follower after another, many suggesting he was becoming a tool for the Devil. Eventually, he became ostracized from the community by his fellow preachers and would go on to lose his church, his home, and his fortune. But, through the Spirit’s gentle nudging and the help of a few loyal followers that continued to believe in his new message of inclusion, Pearson would eventually land back on his feet to become the pastor at the All Souls Unitarian Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

I was originally suggested by my friend Cedric to watch this movie, and I must admit that at first, I rolled my eyes when I quickly read its synopsis, thinking it was just going to be more of the usual Christian religious propaganda. I’m so glad I didn’t practice contempt prior to full investigation because I was very moved by the end of this film, especially because of how close it was to my own Christian experiences.

I have been rejected by a total of four mega churches in my life thus far, all because I was gay. I was told by the pastor of each that I couldn’t be a “practicing homosexual” and a member of their church. I was always welcomed by each to stay and to hopefully practice celibacy instead, because then I wouldn’t be committing a sin in their scriptural beliefs. It was hurtful to receive this exclusion-based message over and over again, but it didn’t even end there, as in some circles of recovery from addiction and other social circles over the years, I was rejected by a number of other Christians, simply for being gay. And so, I had to find my own journey to a God that was beyond the one I had been brought up with, the one that would punish me if I didn’t turn my will over to Christ, confess my sexuality as a sin, and become something I wasn’t.

On that painful road, I had my own coming to God moment, and it happened during a four-hour meditation late one evening back in 2003, where something took place within my very essence, that I can’t exactly explain that well to this day. What I can say is that it was the first time in my life I truly felt the presence of God and during it, I asked about my sexuality. The answer I received was that I was made this way and that all I needed to do was unconditionally love to the best of my ability whomever I chose to be with, man or woman, with all my heart, mind, and soul.

From that point forward, my life with God took a drastically different turn, similar to what happened with Pearson after he watched that program on Rwanda and felt the presence of God come over him. I began to see things quite differently and couldn’t imagine a God anymore that sent Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Wiccans, Buddhists, Atheists, Agnostics, gays, lesbians, and anyone for that matter to eternal damnation, just because of who they were or the fact that they didn’t turn their lives over to Christ. I’ve known of too many good people, from many different walks of life, that have done wonderful things to help our planet be a brighter place, and the idea of God sending them to Hell, simply because of who they were or because they weren’t Christian, just didn’t feel right anymore within my Soul.

Like Pearson, I now live today believing that everyone is saved. But, I also believe there is a hell that exists on this very planet right now, and it’s in the way people are treating each other. Far too many are more focused on their own selfish gains and interests these days, thinking of themselves first and everyone else second, and to me that is a living hell. It is one that is devoid of unconditional love and selflessness and if somehow there really is some type of hell beyond this plane as well, I think it would only consist of more of the same.

Nevertheless, I was extremely thankful I chose to watch “Come Sunday” on Netflix, because it really helped me to see how far I’ve come in my life, just like Carlton Pearson has, as we both have gone from one that believed in and spread a message of religious exclusion for only the select few, to one of living out a loving inclusion for all…

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

“Reverie”, A Bold TV Series About Virtual Reality And Those Who Never Want To Leave It

What if you could escape into a virtual reality (VR) world that felt so real and was able to contain anyone or anything you want? Would you ever want to leave it? That’s the premise of a new NBC show that began just over a week ago that’s titled “Reverie”.

It’s no secret that I am a science fiction/fantasy nut, especially when it comes to movies and television shows and “Reverie” does not disappoint in that genre. While current VR technology in the real world today only allows for a bulky headset to be placed on one’s head for one to become immersed in another dimension, this series takes VR a huge leap further, as people can receive an injection of a living piece of software that essentially becomes the VR headset itself. It then can become active by stating a mere voice command while the software is running on a computer or tablet in front of the user and once activated, the consciousness of the user is immediately transported into a realm they’ve fully created from uploading whatever they want into it from any of their social media. Unfortunately, more and more people are falling into “user comas” and not coming out of the VR realms they’ve created for themselves, which can be left by simply stating a voice command. Enter former detective Mara Kint (Sharah Shahi), someone who specializes in human behavior, when she is asked by her old police boss, Charlie Ventana (Dennis Haysbert), to help rescue those stuck in their VR realms.

In the first episode, a man who lost his wife in the real world, has created a VR existence with his wife still present and does not wish to ever leave it, even though he has a life waiting for him outside of it, including a daughter. After watching this first episode, I began to wonder if I too would be someone who’d get stuck in a VR realm if indeed this technology existed in the real world. Chances are I would solely because of my addictive nature and given the amount of pain and suffering I’m still facing on most days. I’ve attempted to escape my life far too many times already over the years through a number of things like alcohol, drugs, sex, money, etc. Thus, it’s not much of a stretch to think about how addictive it would be for me to create a world where I don’t have to be in pain or limited by an ailing body or where my parents are still alive and didn’t die by their own hands or where I didn’t feel like a nobody. So, yes, I definitely think that if the “Reverie” VR software actually existed, I, and probably countless others, would most likely fall prey to the actual premise of this new series in that we wouldn’t want to leave a world that doesn’t have to be filled with any of the pain and suffering that the real world has dealt us.

Regardless, I honestly believe that technology like this isn’t too far off in our future and I shudder to think of how it could become the greatest addiction any of us have ever seen on this planet if it existed, even beyond the current drug epidemic that’s continuing to sweep our nation and our planet for that matter.

There have been a number of great tv series and movies over the years that have depicted the potential of this reality happening including Black Mirror, The Matrix, Inception, Total Recall, Tron, Ready Player One, The Lawnmower Man, The Thirteenth Floor, and more. With so much pain and suffering on our planet that only seems to be on the rise from year to year, why wouldn’t many of us desire the ability to create a world where none of this is present and where all the things we’ve lost or feel we are lacking can still be present. Ultimately, it is this very thought that has led me to believe why so many are currently getting wrapped up in drugs and plenty of other addictions these days.

Nevertheless, “Reverie” is a bold TV series about virtual reality that will most likely leave you asking yourself the very same question the show itself begs to ponder, that being of whether you would ever want to leave another realm you could enter, that isn’t filled with any pain and suffering and instead, contains everyone and everything that has ever meant anything to you…

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

Free Speech Comes With A Price These Days, Just Ask Roseanne Barr…

Roseanne Barr definitely committed a swift career suicide recently when she tweeted a racist statement during the wee hours one morning about Valerie Jarrett, an African-American woman who was a senior adviser to Barack Obama throughout his presidency and considered one of his most influential aids. Her tweet said that if “the Muslim brotherhood and the planet of the apes had a baby, it would be Valerie Jarrett.”

Ever since her tweet, her highly rated and well-watched revival series “Roseanne” got cancelled by ABC, her talent agency, ILM, separated ties with her, and all the television stations showing syndication of her original show made the decision to promptly remove it from the air.

While I’m all for free speech, I do believe it tends to come with a price these days, especially for those who hold some level of fame and notoriety in this world. So many people are on high alert and extremely sensitive right now with everything from racism to gender equality that it doesn’t take much to negatively sway the majority of the public’s opinion, which is precisely what’s happened with Roseanne ever since her offensive and insensitive tweet.

What’s even worse for Roseanne was her blaming her tweet on the effects of a drug she was taking to help her sleep, that being Ambien. I absolutely applauded the company behind Ambien when they promptly released a statement that said “Racism is not a known side effect of Ambien.”

In all honesty, it’s because of things like this that have frequently come out of Roseanne’s mouth, that I’ve never been one who really enjoyed watching her show. Her abrasive and judgmental personality both in real life and on the show itself has always bothered me. And even though my partner regularly watched the reruns and the revival series of her show in our home on many-a-days, I couldn’t’ stomach it because frankly, I don’t want to support anyone who’s going to make negative statements about someone or something that carries hurtful, racist, and segregating connotations.

With the amount of television programming available nowadays on so many stations, networks, and platforms, an actor or actress, no matter how good they are, or how great their shows are, or how high their ratings end up being, truly doesn’t have the freedom of speech like they might once have had not too long ago.

Nevertheless, with so many being on edge these days, it’s easy to quickly get turned off when a famous person has one of those moments where they spew out verbal diarrhea that’s hurtful towards anyone or anything. Roseanne Barr is just the latest causality of this in a long line of well-known individuals who’ve done something similar. Just ask Kathy Griffin, who not too long ago posted a fake picture on the internet of Donald’s Trump’s bloody head on a platter and watched her career swiftly go down the tubes. Luckily though, Griffin has been on the rebound with her career as of late, but I’m not sure Roseanne will be able to experience the same good fortune.

With Roseanne having been such a polarizing individual with astoundingly strong opinions, political views, and agenda, especially as of late, I judge that a large portion of her remaining fan base is going to be gone for good now, like my partner who agreed this was her final straw.

In the end, yes, we as a culture and a country, do have free speech like I do right here in my blog on a daily basis. But, unlike Barr, I look for the good in everyone and everything and do my best to unconditionally love and accept each and every individual in this world no matter what. And when I make a mistake, because I do, I always promptly make an amends from my heart, which doesn’t seem to be something Barr has gotten in touch with yet.

That’s why I believe Roseanne must face the consequences of her actions and realize she’s living in a world now where free speech comes with a price, a price that networks aren’t willing to carry and a price that people like me aren’t willing to support either.

So, while I believe Barr, like anyone, deserves forgiveness for her insensitive tweet, she and others who verbalize strong statements with racist tones need to learn the value of keeping those opinions off of social media and instead just keeping it all to themselves, as nothing good is ever going to come out of it these days other than a strong price to be paid by them…

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

A Fond Remembrance Of My Father Through The Glenn Miller Orchestra…

There are a few things that really remind me of my father, Glenn Miller being definitely one of them and thanks to the Glenn Miller Orchestra performing in Tiffin, Ohio last Friday night, I was able to spend a few hours fondly remembering my Dad.

When I was growing up, my father regularly played Glenn Miller’s music in our home, all on vinyl. And whenever he did, he would tend to wave his finger and bop his head to the tunes, usually leading me to the incessant rolling of my eyes, wondering how anyone could like the Big Band sound. You see, at the time I was mostly into hip hop and rap music, so the idea of listening to the swing melodies of something like “In The Mood” or “Pennsylvania 6-5000” totally bored the heck out of me. Yet, years after my father’s passing, I began to notice that anytime I’d hear Glenn Miller’s music anywhere, like in a store, a restaurant, at a friend’s house, in a movie, or on a television show, I’d frequently smile and wave my finger and bop my head to it, just like my Dad once did. And that’s precisely why a guy like me, who usually listens these days to nothing but electronica and house music, found myself utterly excited when I saw that the Glenn Miller Orchestra was actually coming to Tiffin, Ohio, just an hour away from my home in the middle of May. But, even better was when my close friend Frank, who’s actually from Tiffin, informed me I didn’t have to buy tickets to it, as he was given four of them as a gift from someone he knew. It’s then I wondered if maybe I was in alignment with the Universe for a brief moment, given how far off I’ve felt lately from the Divine alignment of things.

Regardless, when the night of the concert finally arrived, I decided to invite my father’s Spirit to join me that evening, as I couldn’t imagine him not being present with me for such an event. And in all honesty, I couldn’t remember if my father ever got to see the Glenn Miller Orchestra during his lifetime, so for me this was a special occasion that I really wanted my Father’s Spirit to somehow be with me.

Not too long after that silent prayer and invite, I took my seat in The Ritz theater in Tiffin, along with my partner Chris, Frank, and another friend I invited named Kyle. As we all looked down upon the stage, I saw the setup just like it appeared on some of the Glenn Miller vinyl albums I inherited from my father and felt my heart flutter a little. I also experienced some goose bumps at the same time and for a swift moment, I felt as if I was probably making my father proud for going to see and hear something he once loved so much.

When the concert began shortly thereafter, it started with a song titled “Moonlight Serenade”, which was one that my father loved to slow dance to with my mother. From there it picked up quickly into many of the tunes that my father used to play oh so often. And while I might have cringed over and over again in my younger years during all those moments when the needle on those records played Glenn Miller’s songs throughout our house, I instead smiled in my balcony seat and felt a few tears well up in my eyes, as I experienced a fond remembrance of my father.

And for the course of almost two hours that evening, I waved my finger and bopped my head just like my Dad once did and could almost see him sitting there next to me doing the same. But you know what, I actually think he heard my silent prayer and invite that night because I truly believe he was there that evening, as my heart went home that night feeling quite full of love for someone I truly miss and will always love…

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

Why Don’t Uplifting And Spiritual-Based TV Shows Last Very Long On The Air These Days?

Why don’t uplifting and spiritual-based TV shows last very long on the air these days? That’s the question I’ve been asking myself ever since another one of them got cancelled recently that I was loyally following and is now on the dead pile of many others I watched in years prior.

The show was “Kevin (Probably) Saves The World” on ABC and I was extremely disappointed when I learned it got cancelled because it was one of those that truly could make a person feel better by the end of each and every episode. Several times in fact, I found myself feeling tears of joy drop from my eyes while watching it and that’s a rare thing indeed in my life as of late.

Nevertheless, shows like this usually don’t make it past their first season and if somehow they do, they rarely make it beyond subsequent ones. I’ve seen this happen time and time again with many other inspiring shows in years past like “Eli Stone”, “Joan of Arcadia”, “Tru Calling”, “Early Edition”, and “Wonderfalls”. Each attempted to draw in audiences through spiritual elements that tended to deal with the nature of God, yet none ever garnered enough Nielsen ratings to keep them on the air for very long.

Instead, people seem far more interested in content during the past decade that only mimics everything one could see in the news.  In other words, the majority of television has mostly focused on reality shows or content that was centered around crime, violence, bloodshed, adultery, deception, murder, war, raciness, and well you get the point.

Yet, there are people just like me who keep clamoring for more uplifting and spiritual-based shows that people of all ages could enjoy. Shows that teach good values and positive principles. Honestly, I miss those years when I was growing up when the majority of programming on the air was more about that than bloodshed and sex.

But television tends to mirror where our culture is at in any given point in history and thus right now it’s far more common to see shows focusing on violent and edgy content, rather than shows focusing on something like a guy named Kevin who’s tasked by God to help find the remaining righteous souls on the planet to help save it from becoming a faithless society.

Regardless, I truly miss those days when I was growing up where more spiritual shows like this were on the air including “Touched By An Angel” and “Highway To Heaven” or even those good-natured and positive-message-filled shows like “The Facts Of Life”, “Silver Spoon”, “Different Strokes”, “Three’s Company”, “Happy Days”, “The Love Boat”, “Fantasy Island”, and more. I remember content back then being far less violent and racy, and I learned a lot about the spiritual principles I now try to live by today because of many of them.

So, as I ponder the loss of yet another spiritual-minded and positive-feeling television show like “Kevin (Probably) Saves The World”, I’ve come to the acceptance that this trend is only going to continue so long as people keep tuning into shows that mimic the negative actions of our current society. Hopefully one day, programming will become a lot more uplifting and spiritual-based and will merely reflect a better society that we all are finally living in…

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

Why An Episode Of The TV Show “Mom” Really Pissed Me Off…

I’ve been a fan of the television show “Mom” since it debuted in the fall of 2013, mostly because it has dealt with a light-hearted take on people in recovery from alcoholism and drug addiction. But recently I watched an episode that really pissed me off, so much so, that I felt the need to write about it.

Oddly, the title of this episode was called “Esta Loca and a Little Klingon”, which for the life of me I’m not sure why. Regardless, one of the main characters, Jill (Jamie Pressley) was in a chronic relapse mode and constantly drunk dialing her sponsor Christy (Anna Faris) and Christy’s mother Bonnie (Allison Janney). While that’s actually something that occasionally happens in the recovery from addiction realm, it’s how one responds to those types of calls that makes all the difference.

In the episode, Christy and Bonnie proceeded to immediately drop anything they were doing every time Jill called or texted drunk. In fact, at one point, when Jill’s housekeeper called and told Christy that Jill was at her own home totally inebriated, Christy was out celebrating with her boyfriend Patrick’s for his birthday at a nice restaurant. It was also not the first time that Jill had done this to Christy and Patrick and it was at this point in the episode, that I got truly irritated at how the show was portraying the way one should deal with a person in a chronic relapse mode.

From what I’ve learned over the years, through Al Anon, sponsors, and people who’ve been around a long time in recovery, one NEVER, EVER, caters to someone who is choosing to keep getting drunk. I remember being told by my first sponsor and a number of other long-time sober people that if someone was to ever call in that state, you simply telling them “Call me back when you’re sober.” Because frankly, a person who’s inebriated or high on any substance, is not going to be receptive to anything that a sober person has to offer them. Rather, they usually only want people to feel sorry for them, to cater to them, and to baby them, which isn’t healthy at all for either them or the person attempting to come to their rescue.

In my past, there was a guy from my own life who I used to run over to his home every time he picked alcohol back up, hoping that my action might somehow help him eventually choose sobriety again. But, all it turned out to be in the long run through that repetitive action, was me care-taking and building up codependency within me, and him as well.

The harsh reality is that no one can save a drunk or an addict. NO ONE. And coming to a drunk’s or addict’s beckon call every time they pick up is only going to enable them to keep on doing it, over and over and over again. Sometimes, the best action is to just let them “sit in their shit”. And I mean that literally. Trying to “save” someone in the midst of their relapse can often act the very opposite on what one is trying to achieve. It can keep a person in their addiction for far longer.

So, yes, an episode of Mom showed what so many people in this world often try to do when someone they love gets in a perpetual state of alcoholism and drug addiction. It showed people rescuing, care-taking, and doing very codependent behaviors that aren’t healthy at all, not for the people who are sober and not for the people who are in a relapse mode.

While I may entertain a phone call at a special event, a birthday meal, or anything of the sort, by a person I’m sponsoring in recovery, if I discover during that call that they are actively engaged in their addiction, I will tell them I love them, I care about them, but I won’t talk to them anymore until they choose to sober up. Yet, on the contrary, if one of them ever called me up and were stone-cold sober, and said they were about to relapse and needed my help, then and only then, would I leave what I’m in the middle of doing, to go help them. Because that indeed is how a healthy program of recovery is meant to work, at least from the perspective I’ve learned.

Nevertheless, hopefully the TV show “Mom” may show in a future episode how unhealthy it ultimately is to care-take, babysit, coddle, or rescue any person who’s choosing to chronically relapse, because the reality is that nothing anyone does can ever help them remain sober until they choose to practice Step One in entirety themselves. And quite frankly, that often tends to come when a drunk or addict is left utterly alone to “sit in their shit.””

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

“Nosedive”, A Chilling Black Mirror TV Episode That May Reflect Something Already Happening In Society

I watched an episode of the dystopian Netflix television series “Black Mirror” not too long ago titled “Nosedive” that dealt with a future where social media governed just about every single aspect of one’s life, especially their socioeconomic status.

In this future society, through the use of eye implants and mobile devices, every person spent the majority of their day sharing their daily activities and rating their interactions with others on a scale of one to five, thus always being able to affect anyone’s overall rating.

The episode revolved around Lacie Pound (Bryce Dallas Howard), a woman who had worked hard to achieve her 4.2 rating. Her goal though was to reach 4.5, because that was the only way she was going to be able to live in a luxury apartment complex that essentially required a 4.5 rating for all its tenants. To achieve her goal, Lacie begins to solely focus on gaining the attention of the very highly-rated. During this process, she constantly scoffs and relatively ignores anyone with a lower rating than hers. But when her popular childhood friend Naomi (Alice Eve), with an almost perfect rating, suddenly likes a picture Lacie purposely posted to gain her attention, seeing they had stitched it together as kids, Lacie becomes ecstatic. That feeling soon turns to total elation when Lacie receives an invitation to be Naomi’s maid of honor in her upcoming wedding. Little does she know though that Naomi has her own hidden agenda going on, as she was told that offering charity to someone with a lower rating will boost her own rating even higher.

Oblivious to Lacie though, this is just a dream come true, as her attendance all but guarantees her that coveted 4.5 rating. Unfortunately, when the day of her flight arrives to head to Naomi’s wedding, things start to fall apart for her. It begins when her brother gives her a negative rating after she causes a big argument with him and is soon followed by another negative rating by a passerby she runs into outside, as she spills his coffee. Eventually, as one mishap after another leads to one negative rating after another, Lacie gets contacted by Naomi and told not to come to the wedding because Lacie’s rating has dropped down to too low of a level. But out of sheer desperation and frustration, Lacie eventually shows up anyway to the wedding and pulls a Bridesmaids movie-moment meltdown that causes her rating to plummet to zero. She’s ultimately picked up by security because of it and brought to prison where she’s stripped of all technology and the inability to ever rate anyone again. There she meets another prisoner across from her cell, who too has been stripped of the same ability. Yet because of all she’s been through, the episode ends with Lacie finding solace in finally being able to carry on an unfiltered conversation with someone else, seeing that she no longer has to worry about being negatively rated by what she says or does.

Can you imagine a society like this? I can, because honestly, don’t you think our world is already heading in this direction with one technological advancement after another, especially in the social media realm? After all, how many Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or YouTube followers one has is becoming extremely important to far too many people and these are instantly accessible on a number of hand-held devices that can go with all of us pretty much everywhere these days. And the more followers one garners in any of their social media presences, the more money, popularity, and opportunities in society seem to come their way.

While I truly hope our world never fully ends up becoming like what Lacie faced in “Nosedive”, such as having to hold a specific rating just to get on a flight or rent a good car, I’m still concerned our society is already rapidly heading in that direction. People tend to spend so much energy now on things like how many friends they have or how many hits a picture or video gets that they posted and regrettably, I often find myself being one of them.

Yet, I know it’s all an illusion and my Higher Power continues to remind me of this. In reality, I know that my social media presence doesn’t really matter, even if the rest of the world might seem to feel otherwise. Rather, I think what truly matters is having an unconditionally loving heart and being true to oneself no matter what. But In a world where social media is becoming more and more of a thing that governs one’s socioeconomic status, as it was depicted quite clearly in this Black Mirror episode, people aren’t being true to themselves as much anymore and on some level are living with judgmental minds instead of having open hearts.

So, in light of all that, it seems like we each have a choice now, don’t we? We can choose to focus all our energy on raising our social media presence or we can choose to focus all our energy on raising our connection to something much Greater that loves us far more unconditionally, even if we have very little followers in the social media realm. While choosing the latter may end up leading to a relatively invisible existence, at least in the eyes of the majority of society, I think in the long run, this choice will lead to far more peace and joy than chasing a life of having high ratings and presences on social media platforms.

Peace, love light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

“Love, Simon”, A Beautiful Coming Out Story For The Movie Ages

Many might think that coming out of the closet and admitting one’s gay is a lot easier to do these days than it once was, but that isn’t always the case, and the film “Love, Simon” is the perfection depiction of this ongoing struggle for so many.

“Love, Simon” stars Nick Robinson as the lead character Simon, a senior in high school who’s been living for over four years with a secret he’s way too afraid to tell anyone, that being that he’s gay. No one has any inkling about it, not his father Jack (Josh Duhamel), his mother Emily (Jennifer Garner), his sister Nora (Talitha Eliana Bateman) or even his three best friends Leah (Katherine Langford), Abby (Alexandra Shipp), or Nick (Jorge Lendeborg Jr.). That’s solely because Simon has spent years doing what everyone else does, like going to the school dances with girls or pretending to like girls that others find attractive, especially when the only openly gay guy he knows is constantly made fun of by fellow classmates. One day though, that all begins to change when Simon discovers that another guy from his high school has placed a message out on an open chat forum under the name Blue, about his own sexuality struggles. Suddenly, Simon has a spark of hope and in a flash of courage one evening, he decides to create a private e-mail address solely to send a letter to Blue under the name Jacques. As Simon fearfully hits the send button and makes his very first step at peeking out of the closet, he awaits anxiously for days afterward for a response. When he finally gets one, his heart leaps for joy, as that internal loneliness finally seems to have a single ray of light shining into it. Soon the conversations draw deeper between Blue and Simon, leaving Simon to constantly day dream about who Blue might really be. But one day that single ray of light that’s been causing Simon to glow, gets covered up under a pile of tremendous fear when a fellow classmate, Martin (Logan Miller), accidentally reads Simon’s private emails on a library computer after Simon forgets to log out. It’s then that Simon realizes the reality of remaining anonymous is no longer possible and it may actually be the very thing that forces him to come out, much to his utter horror.

I truly loved this film and am grateful that Hollywood is finally now making mainstream movies that accurately depict the full spectrum of what’s it like to be a gay individual in this world. For the longest time, the only way a gay man seemed to be portrayed on television or in film was as an extremely flamboyant, overly promiscuous type of individual, like Jack (Sean Hayes) in Will & Grace. Yet, that’s not how every gay man is and is definitely not how I have ever seen myself as. That’s why I really connected to Simon’s coming out story, because it ultimately reminded me a lot of the one I went through between the ages of 13 and 23.

I lived for that entire decade in a closet of hell, where I seemed to keep falling for my closest guy friends over and over again. Like Simon, my true sexuality existed more in fantasy than in reality, simply because I was afraid I’d be completely rejected by the world if I ever came out. I ended up dating a number of women because of it and even had sexual experiences with a few of them along the way, just to keep up an appearance. But what was even harder to face during this period was the notion that the only type of guy I ever found myself being attracted to was heavyset. I honestly thought it was a curse at first and that God must have somehow made a mistake. It was hard enough being gay in this world but being interested in only chubby guys was even harder.

It wasn’t until I became besties in college with a stocky guy during my senior year, who I’ll label as “R”, that I began to be propelled into my own emergence from the closet. “R” was the first person I ever fell in love with and it was my intense feelings for him that caused my alcohol and drug addiction to skyrocket. I heavily drank alcohol and took many drugs to cover up my feelings for “R” until my life started to totally unravel because of it. It’s then I began to believe it was the alcohol and drugs that were actually making me feel the way I did about “R” and with guys in general, so I sought God out to find sobriety thinking it would fix my sexuality crisis. After several months of sobriety, my feelings for “R” only intensified, yet through a great therapist I discovered I wasn’t the only one in this world who had the same type of attraction as I. And once I began to meet others like me who had already emerged from the closet and were out living happy lives, I slowly began to take steps to do the same. But sadly, I received plenty of rejection along the way, from churches, to my mother, to friends, and even “R”. Thankfully though, my father was a diamond in all that rough, telling me that he would unconditionally love me no matter who I was attracted to.

Nevertheless, coming out of the closet often seems to be a very difficult thing to do, even to this day, for plenty of individuals. People still face rejection from judgmental family members, friends, and many other loved ones. Far too frequent, the Bible and other religious books keep on being thrown at gay people, claiming it’s a sin and that God abhors it, which I believe to be quite far from God’s truth. Regardless, many continue to be ostracized by their families and numerous others they care about because of this. This is why so many choose to remain married to the opposite sex, even in today’s progressive age. And if you don’t believe me, all you need to do is peruse through the countless gay sites out there, as there you’ll find them littered with countless closeted married men who are deathly afraid of emerging fully from the closet and instead opt to have anonymous sex outside their marriages.

This is precisely why I hope that many more movies will begin to emerge like “Love, Simon” or the recent Oscar darling “Call Me By Your Name”, or last year’s best picture winner “Moonlight”, as each help to break down all those fears that keep people in the closet, living out those anonymous sexual-based lives that only end up toxifying and lowering their spiritual vibration in the long run.

Nonetheless, “Love, Simon” is a beautiful coming out story for the movie ages. In the end, it truly helped me to have appreciation for what I had to go through 23 years ago, when I faced and fully embraced my own sexuality and attraction to heavyset men. If you happen to be someone who’s still living in the closet, like I once did in great fear, please know my prayers are with you. I do understand and hope that one day, movies like “Love, Simon” and stories like my own, will end up providing you enough courage to eventually create your very own coming out story…

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

“Forever My Girl”, A Heartfelt “Chick Flick” that Struck A Few Chords…

I like what people often refer to as “Chick Flicks”. Yes, those corny falling-in-love type of movies that tend to make one get all weepy and xpsmotional when watching them and “Forever My Girl” is one of those that I saw recently in the theater that was not only heartfelt, but also struck a few chords.

Initially taking place in a very small town in Louisiana named St. Augustine, the film begins with a young woman named Josie (Jessica Rothe) getting stood up at her own wedding by the love of her life, a man named Liam Page (Alex Roe), someone who just recently has come into musical fame in the country circuit. The film quickly moves on after that to 8 years later where Liam has gained worldwide stardom with his music. But it’s apparent he’s extremely unhappy even in light of that with all the alcohol he consumes on a daily basis. It’s also apparent Liam is living with regret and shame about leaving Josie at the altar all those years later when his ratty flip phone containing a message from Josie gets crushed under a fangirl’s foot in his hotel room. As he desperately seeks to get that phone fixed, he notices a news report covering the tragic death of his closest friend from high school, the one who was supposed to be his best man and the one who let Josie know he wasn’t going to be showing up for their wedding. Liam starts to suffer from a total mental breakdown because of all this and decides to leave his national tour in the lurch on the eve of its final performance by heading home to attend the funeral. Once there, as soon as Josie sets eyes upon him, along with the rest of the town, it’s obvious his presence is unwelcomed. But that’s all about to change once Liam discovers Josie has been holding onto a huge secret over the past 8 years.

I know the plot of this movie might sound like it belongs on some silly Hallmark channel evening special and maybe indeed it could very easily show up in some similar fashion there as well. Yet, this movie still touched me nonetheless more so than many of the other “Chick Flicks” I’ve seen, mostly because of the life Liam was living. Filled with money and fame, Liam was a guy who had totally lost his way, having grown up too fast from his sudden musical fame. Money, drugs, booze, and sex had become his way to cope with everything and boy, do I know that pattern well.

While I may have not gained any type of fame thus far in life, I did come into money quite early on, as well as drugs, booze, and sex. And because of it, I always thought I was above everyone else. And like Liam, I constantly expected everyone else to do everything for me. I really had to chuckle at one point in the film where Liam pretty much snapped his fingers and told his manager to get him an espresso. This selfishness and self-centeredness that Liam demonstrated was a great reminder to a life I once lived. Mercifully, money, drugs, booze, and sex don’t rule my life anymore. Instead, I have something far more valuable in place of it, that being an unconditionally loving heart for my friends and loved ones. To me that’s way more priceless than any of the things Liam or myself ever coveted in life.

That’s why I thoroughly enjoyed watching “Forever My Girl”, not only because it was a heartfelt “Chick Flick”, but also because of these few chords it struck within me. Each were great reminders of a life I never want to go back to. One where I was far more consumed with self, instead of what’s truly important in life, that being the unconditional love for others, something that thankfully, both Liam and I finally realized in the end.

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

 

“The Florida Project”, A Real-Life Look At Impoverished Families Living Near Disney World

There are some movies that make me grateful for the life I’ve been able to live thus far and “The Florida Project” is one of those, which takes a real-life look at impoverished families living in a place where one might never think poverty even exists, that being near Disney World.

Set over the course of one summer, the film surrounds the life of a 6-year-old girl named Moonee (Brooklynn Prince) and her friends Scooty (Christopher Rivera), Dicky (Aiden Malik), and Jancey (Valeria Cotto) who each live at low budget motels that are extremely near the Disney World properties. At $38 a night, these motels have become homes for many poor families including Moonee’s, whose sole guardian is her mother Halley (Bria Vinaite). At first glance, it’s quite easy for the movie watcher to become appalled at Moonee’s use of foul language, lying, scamming, and numerous delinquent acts, that is until we start getting to know Halley. She doesn’t have a job and instead sells cheap knock off perfumes to Disney World resort guests to pay her weekly “rent” at their motel. And when not doing that she regularly engages in the use of recreational drugs and alcohol, solicits herself for sex to make extra cash, and is consumed with plenty of vulgar language herself. Yet what is also apparent is the fact that Halley truly does love her daughter and tries to do everything she can to provide Moonee a decent life given their poor circumstances. Unfortunately, Halley acts as much her daughter’s age in behaviors and isn’t the role model Moonee really needs, which the motel’s property manager Bobby (Willem Dafoe) is overly aware of. But because of the soft spot he has for Moonee and the other kids living out of the small motel rooms on his property, he provides more warnings than anything else when violations occur. But as the summer wears on and as those violations continue to grow in number between Halley and her daughter, it seems as if their days of living in this low budget motel are numbered, as well as Halley continuing to remain Moonee’s guardian.

Why I liked this movie as much as I did was simply because these low budget motels do exist as homes for poverty stricken families within walking distance of the Disney proprieties in Florida. For someone like me who has visited Disney a number of times throughout my life and knows how expensive it is to have a vacation there, I must say that the thought of those places existing so close by never once crossed my mind anytime I was there. Instead, I was always more consumed with myself and my lavish spending instead of thinking about those less fortunate who lived in poverty more than not nearby.

The sad reality is that there are more than 45 million people living this way in the United States and yet it repeatedly gets overlooked by too many of us. It’s easy to turn our heads away and deny it even exists, especially if we’ve never suffered from poverty ourselves. In turn, it also becomes easy to judge the actions and behaviors of the impoverished, like I found myself doing mentally when watching Halley and her daughter’s actions in this film. But for someone like me who has never once lived a day in their shoes, judging them is the last thing I should be doing.

Nevertheless, “The Florida Project” opened my eyes to something I’ve personally overlooked far too much in this life. It was a great reminder as well that I not only need to remain grateful for the abundance God’s given me in this life, but also and far more importantly, that no matter where I am, even at a magical place like Disney, there are people living in poverty nearby just like Halley and Moonee, who may never know what it means to ever have any type of abundance in life. And in the end, seeing that depicted in this film was a pretty humbling experience for me.

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

A Spiritual Recap Of The 2018 Golden Globes Awards Show…

I’m not sure if you tuned into the 2018 Golden Globes this year like I did when it was on this past Sunday evening. The only reason why I chose to tune in was to see what interesting things might be said on stage from presenters, winners, and from host Seth Meyers.

Given all the tumultuous things that have taken place both in our country and in the entertainment industry specifically over the past year, I was hoping to hear some inspirational speeches. Thankfully, Oprah delivered on that while accepting the Cecile B. DeMille award. Her words certainly moved my heart. Ironically, there’s even talk now of her running for President in 2020 after that speech and a number of people I know have already told me they’d definitely vote for her.

Beyond Oprah’s stirring words, I was happy to see all the woman coming together that evening wearing black to support the “#MeToo” movement, as the entertainment industry has long been weighted towards males, of which I’m hopeful that’s finally coming to an end. Much of which can be thanked actually to all the sexual allegations that have come forward ever since the initials ones took place with Harvey Weinstein in the early Fall of 2017.

In addition to the unity I saw in support of women in the entertainment industry, I noticed two other things that made watching this show far more enjoyable this year and both took place during the red carpet. There, the focus wasn’t on the women’s dresses this year and how dazzling they looked or who made them. Instead, it was for once, on their careers and the talent they had, which in my opinion is what it needs to always be focused on. The other was when Jessica Biel was being interviewed for her nomination for her role in the TV movie The Sinner. After she answered a few questions, the focus was put on her husband standing next to her, which is no other than Justin Timberlake. In a very gentle and loving way, Justin asked if they would keep the focus on Jessica because the night was meant to be more about her. That was a strong sign of humility and something I think we all need to strive for in life because the spotlight isn’t always meant to be on ourselves.

Sadly, there were a number of things that did bother me though during this awards show. One was from Natalie Portman who was presenting with Ron Howard for the category of Best Director. As she began to read the nominations, she started with, “And here are the ALL-Male nominees for Best Director”, which I felt took away from the work of those who did get nominated. Do I wish more women had been recognized this year for their amazing directing skills like Katheryn Bigelow for “Detroit”? Absolutely! But when I saw the reactions of sadness and shame from those men who were waiting to see if they had won this category after Portman’s comment, I felt bad for them even being in that position at that point and I think so did they. After all, it wasn’t their fault that a woman wasn’t nominated in their category, it was the people who did the voting, which in this case was the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

I was also somewhat turned off by a few things Seth Meyers had to say during his opening comedic monologue. First, he said, “Harvey Weinstein isn’t here tonight. Because, well, I’ve heard rumors that he’s crazy and difficult to work with. But don’t worry he’ll be back in 20 years when he’s the first person ever booed at the in memoriam.” Then, he said, “I was happy to hear they’re going to do another season of House of Cards. Is Christopher Plummer available to do that too? I hope he can do a Southern accent… cuz Kevin Spacey sure couldn’t.” And lastly, he followed that up by “I have to admit, when I first heard The Shape of Water was a movie about a naive young woman falling in love with a disgusting sea creature, I thought, ‘Man, not another Woody Allen movie.’ There was relatively no laughter during any of these attempts at humor and instead plenty of silence and groans, of which I believe is far deserved. Personally, I found those specific jokes distasteful as much as everyone else there seemed to. I think it’s time to shift the focus onto spiritual unification and equality and not highlight the actions of those who led to any of the disunity and separation anymore. Hopefully, the lack of laughter with these jokes will prevent this from happening at the Oscars next month or any of the other awards shows for that matter.

Lastly, I need to mention the one thing I always look for every year with awards shows I watch, that being whether anyone thanked God or their Higher Power during their speech. No one did once again, which was rather disappointing. All I know is that if one day I’m ever on a stage like that where I have a chance to give God the glory He deserves, it will be first and foremost before I say anything else, because without God, I would never have made it to that stage in the first place, and frankly, without God’s help thus far, I’d probably be dead by now anyway.

Nevertheless, overall, I found the 2018 Golden Globes enjoyable and quite moving at times. I’m grateful to finally see equality moving forward in ways we’ve never seen before, especially in the entertainment industry and that alone made it worthwhile watching this year.

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

Fondly Remembering The Days Of Old When It Comes To The Movie-Going Experience…

While it’s no secret how much I love watching movies, especially at a theater, I must say that I really miss the days of old when it comes to that experience.

These days, there are twenty minutes of pre-show advertising and twenty minutes of trailers that run before the movie even starts, where most people seem to spend the majority of that time on their cell phones. It also appears that plenty like to arrive towards the end of all those trailers nowadays, which tends to cause distractions and disruptions to all those who came early to enjoy them. In regards to each of those trailers, which can be up to eight or nine in total, they generally last several minutes each and often spoil many of that coming film’s best plot points. When the movie finally begins, phones always seem to ring, people like to talk to their companions there with them, texting goes on way too much, and bright screens often distract viewers more than not throughout the entire running time. When I was growing up though, things were very different whenever I went to the movies.

People liked to arrive quite early at theaters back then to get a good seat and they often conversed with others, including strangers, while waiting for the movie to start. There were never more than two or three previews for future movies shown and each would run between 30 seconds to a minute, never spoiling any of the film’s best parts. The film also consistently began a mere couple minutes from the show’s posted start time in the paper and silence always seemed to be golden more than not with each audience I ever sat with. And in the end, when the credits would begin to roll, people liked to converse with each other again, asking whether they liked the film or not, as they poured out of the theater.

So, yes, I’m finding myself feeling quite nostalgic towards the days of old when it comes to the movie-going experience because of all these 21st century changes. I think that’s why I feel so grateful whenever I attend a movie now where no one else shows up for it and I have the entire theater to myself, as then I can become immersed once again in the experience like I used to as a kid. I can get whisked away for a few hours where there’s no theater drama going on around me, nothing to distract me from the reason why I have always loved going to the movies, that being to escape from the real world for a short period of time.

In light of all this, I can understand why the entertainment industry continues to report that less and less people are going to the movies these days and why box office totals seem to decrease one year to the next. Those who love the movies as much as I do are probably finding themselves wanting to remain at home where they can see a film and not have to deal with all those 21st century distractions that make their movie-going experience a stressor more than a de-stressor.

Nevertheless, I guess I’m beginning to show my age as I reflect upon those days of old, when things felt a lot simpler and a lot better in life. I’m told that type of reflecting happens a lot as we grow older and well, I am hitting my middle-age years you know. But thankfully, God has blessed me and keeps on blessing me with many fond memories of countless hours spent in dark theaters across the world watching the latest films and being transported into other times and places where the stressors of life always tend to go away, at least for a short while. And that is truly something I think we all need from time to time in life, don’t you agree?

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

“All the Money in the World”, A Great Portrayal On Film Of One Man’s Terrible Greed

I was too little to remember the events that began to unfold on July 10th, 1973 when John Paul Getty III (referred to as Paul), the grandson of famous billionaire J. Paul Getty was kidnapped and held for ransom. But with the recent release of a movie directed by Ridley Scott titled “All the Money in the World”, I became well-versed on this tragic story that totally surrounded one man’s terrible greed.

The film begins with Paul (played by Charlie Plummer) getting kidnapped and his mother Gail (played by Michelle Williams) receiving a phone call by one of the kidnappers demanding the ransom initially in the amount of $17 million. When she contacts J. Paul Getty (played by Christopher Plummer) for help, given she doesn’t have that kind of money, he refuses to pay the ransom, citing that if he did, it would only spur more people to kidnap others in his family and hold them for even greater amounts. When asked how much he would be willing to pay, his answer is “Nothing.” So, rather than pay any ransom, he instead employs one of his main negotiators for his business, Fletcher Chase (played by Mark Wahlberg), a former CIA operative, to track down the terrorists who kidnapped Paul. Throughout the rest of the movie, the frugalness, selfishness, and greed that J. Paul Getty was known for is made more than apparent. From having a pay telephone booth in his home that guests like Gail had to use for a call she needed to make that was long distance, to buying himself plenty of lavish gifts while his grandson was still a prisoner, to looking for every possible way to get tax write-offs and essentially cheat the system, including for the amount of ransom itself, J. Paul Getty was filled with incredible greed. During the time these events took place, Getty was considered the richest man on the planet, having become the first person to ever amass wealth over one billion dollars, yet in every possible way he was always caught up in worrying about never having enough money. In fact, the line that affected me the most during the picture was when Fletcher asked him what Getty would need to feel safe with his fortune, his only answer was one profound word, “More!”

This movie was riveting, disturbing, and well-acted, which I found even more astonishing given how J. Paul Getty was originally played by Kevin Spacey. But in light of the many sexual allegations that had been brought against Spacey, Scott did the unthinkable and reshot every one of his scenes with Christopher Plummer in the role instead, all in the space of 22 days, for a release date that was shortly thereafter. One might think this would come off quite sloppy in the final cut that was shown in theaters beginning Christmas Day, yet I found Plummer to be far more alluring and convincing as J. Paul Getty, than from what I saw in each of the trailers Spacey was first in.

Regardless, this movie was a great reminder of why I feel money is the root of all evil in so many ways and poison to one’s spiritual journey. Watching J. Paul Getty be more consumed with saving a buck than his Grandson’s life, someone he claimed he truly loved and cared about, was really hard to stomach. A $17 million ransom was technically change in J. Paul Getty’s bank accounts and was probably earned in interest in a matter of hours on any given day. Yet, he could only ever see things in dollar signs and overlooked the importance of a human life because of it. Sadly though, I could relate to a time I acted similarly in my own life.

When I used to own my own business, and had a substantial income, I was pretty darn cheap and did everything I could to save a buck. Some of which often came at the expense of others I claimed I cared about. But you see that’s what happens when you have a lot of money. It’s never enough, you always want more, and you constantly are looking over your shoulder at who might be wanting to take some of it from you. That’s the sick part of money and something one never knows of until they have a lot of it. That’s why I’m glad I lost pretty much everything back in 2010, because I eventually learned how I was no better than someone just like J. Paul Getty. Thank God for that and thank God I’m not like that anymore, as I value human life far more than I do a dollar sign.

Nevertheless, “All the Money in the World”, is definitely an awards contender. And while I’m sad to see the depth of the tragedy that John Paul Getty III went through in his life, the film was truly a great portrayal of how greed robs the soul of its goodness and poisons the mind of the individual who chooses to wield it.

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

The Chop House Dilemma

Do you often spend money on things you really can’t afford or are you more frugal than not? What would you do if you sat down in a restaurant and suddenly noticed all the items on the menu were way out of your normal price range for dining out? Would you stay anyway, put the bill on a credit card, and worry about paying it off later, or would you get up and leave, and opt to eat somewhere far more reasonable?

I ask these questions solely because I faced this very dilemma recently when my partner and I, and another couple, opted to dine at a newly opened restaurant here in Toledo, Ohio just over a week ago now. The place was called The Chop House, which I for one was rather excited to dine at the establishment given how much I like trying new things in life. Unfortunately, that feeling parted pretty quickly as soon as I began taking a look at the menu once there.

The cost of a cup of French Onion soup…$8.95.

The cost of a small Caesar salad…$11.95.

The cost of the cheapest main course, a piece of Salmon with no accompaniments…$32.95

The cost of a Baked Potato to go with that piece of Salmon…$8.95.

 Total Cost for me without drinks or taxes or tip…$62.80.

 No friggin’ way!!!

 I began squirming in my seat over the costs of food there, but decided I didn’t really want to be high maintenance, so I was just going to order a salad that I saw on the Happy Hour part of the menu, choosing to eat some leftovers at home later. Except when the waitress told me that she’d have to charge me a higher price for that salad if I got it as my main course, I was immediately ready to leave.

In the past, when I had my own business, plenty of income, and a well of savings, I was known to spend upwards of $100 for meals at times just for myself. In fact, I used to look for extravagant places to dine at, solely to appease my ego’s ability of having plenty of money in life to blow on ridiculously pricey meals, and then would brag about it to others later.

But that’s definitely not where my Spirit is at these days, especially in light of not having a paying job at present, which is precisely why I spoke up at the table and asked if everyone else was thinking what I was thinking, and ironically, they were. None of us felt comfortable with the cost of food there, so 20 minutes after sitting down, we were all leaving and heading to a far more affordable restaurant.

In the end, while I did feel rather embarrassed leaving the restaurant without ordering and explaining to the waitress why, I was still thankful we left and that I had listened to my Spirit’s inner nudging’s for once. Because each of us enjoyed a very satisfying and more cost-conscious meal, but even more importantly, I could see how money and my ego were no longer the ones calling the shots in life and that alone made me feel a whole lot better about the decision I made during The Chop House Dilemma.

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

“Wonder”, Quite Possibly One Of The Best Movies Ever That’s Sure to Eventually Become A Classic

Having seen thousands of movies in my life thus far, it’s a rare thing indeed to come across one that I’d go so far to say it was actually one of the best movies ever. But that is indeed something I feel safe to say for the 2017 release of a little gem called “Wonder”.

Based on the New York Times bestseller book, “Wonder” is the story of a boy named August Pullman (Jacob Trembley) who just wants to be accepted and loved for who he is inside, instead of being avoided for what he looks like on the outside. You see, August (nicknamed Auggie) was born with extremely pronounced facial deformities and has lived the entire first part of his life in almost total isolation because of it, having being home schooled by his mother Isabel (Julia Roberts). That all’s about to change though, as Isabel has decided it’s finally time to send August off to school for the fifth grade, in spite of her husband Nate’s (Owen Wilson) reservations. In a world where life is often not fair and appearance seems to be everything, it becomes immediately apparent that Auggie isn’t going to fit in in, as soon as he steps foot onto his new elementary school grounds. Which is sad because all he really wants in life is to have what everyone else in school seems to have, that being the ability to fit in with some friends who really like being around him. Yet, even as Auggie starts to believe he might remain alone and ostracized for his entire grammar school years, the Universe shows it might just have a different plan in store for him, one that could be exactly what Auggie’s heart has always desired the most.

What makes “Wonder” such a beautifully enriching film is not just because of this very moving plot revolving around Auggie’s journey to being loved and accepted, it’s much in part due to each of the subplots going on within the movie as well. There’s the story of Via and her constant feelings of invisibility in her family and in life in general. There’s the story of her best friend Miranda (Danielle Rose Russell) who suddenly pulls totally away from their friendship for no known reason. There’s the story of Isabel who has placed her entire life and promising career aside solely to take care of Auggie’s unique circumstances. And there’s the individual stories of several of Auggie’s new classmates tool like Jack Will (Noah Jupe) and Julian (Bryce Gheisar), amongst others, who each add a complexity to a film that becomes simplified through a number of things we’ve probably all faced at some point in life. Things like bullying and being picked on, meeting our first love, giving up our dreams to support another, feeling like we don’t matter in this world, and so much more.

But what moved me the most in “Wonder” though, beyond all these plots and subplots, was the great reminder it gave me of how difficult it was during my own grammar school years. Years that I often try to forget. Years where I too was bullied, picked on, ostracized and overlooked. While I may not have had any facial deformities back then like Auggie did in the movie, I clearly didn’t have an image during that period of my life that made for any type of popularity. But just like the Universe showed Auggie, there clearly was someone or something out there who was always watching over me, guiding me to the very thing my Spirit needed the most in life, that being to feel loved and accepted, even in light of being that odd man out. This is precisely why I consider this film to be one of the best movies ever, and why I feel confident it will eventually become a classic and a must-have for my own home movie collection…

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

“Same Kind Of Different As Me”, A True Story Of Unconditional Love And Healing

“Same Kind of Different as Me” is a heart-felt 2017 film based upon the true story of the lives of a wealthy international art dealer named Ron Hall (played by Greg Kinnear) and his wife Deborah (played by Renee Zellweger) and how an angry homeless man named Denver Moore (played by Dijimon Hounsou) becomes the catalyst to not only saving their marriage, but also their spiritual lives as well.

When the film begins, the viewer is introduced to Ron and Deborah where it becomes quickly apparent how rocky their marriage has become after many years of being together. Ron has been caught cheating and is forced to admit the truth to his wife. Deborah is totally devastated when she is told, but isn’t ready to give up hope just yet in their relationship. In an attempt to save it, Deborah asks Ron to help her one day at the local food kitchen where she’s been volunteering for some time, Begrudgingly, Ron agrees to help just this once, although he makes it abundantly clear he doesn’t really want to be there. He, in fact, is one of those guys who have become so consumed with money and status that serving food to homeless people feels completely beneath him. But as they begin to serve meals that day, when a sudden violent outburst from a homeless man (Denver) startles Ron to the point of wanting to immediately leave a situation he never wanted to be in the first place, Deborah becomes more curious than afraid, because Denver is the very man she had a vision of in her dreams a few nights prior. Convinced that she and Ron are meant to help him somehow, Deborah sets out to befriend a man who makes it overly obvious from the onset he’s quite content in remaining friendless. Thus, begins Ron and Deborah’s spiritual journey of offering unconditional love not only towards a man who doesn’t know how to be loved, but also of rediscovering it with each other.

“Same Kind of Different as Me” really is one of those films that will make you laugh, cry, and get a lot of those feel-good tingly sensations while you watch it. To some, I’m sure it may feel like it’s too stocked with Christian symbolism, but to me, beneath the surface was an incredible movie that provided a great reminder of who I used to be and who I’m working on becoming.

I once was a lot like Ron Hall, consumed with the abundance of money that had been left to me by my parents. At the same time, I was always unwilling to do much of anything when it came to reaching out and lending a helping hand to anyone, unless it benefitted me somehow. In fact, pretty much everything that involved helping others usually felt beneath me, which in turn, made me become an extremely selfish and self-centered person. Other than donating money anonymously, I rarely got my hands “dirty” anywhere that might have befitted the less fortunate. But through a series of humbling health issues and financial failure in life, I began to reassess myself and asked God to transform me into a much more unconditionally loving human being.

Over the years ever since, my desire to help others has definitely changed. Now I am more than willing to reach out and help others, not just in my recovery from addiction-based life, but also outside those rooms as well. Case in point, I had a homeless man approach me outside one of my 12 Step meetings recently. There, he asked for something to eat, of which I promptly took him to a store nearby and bought him a meal.

There are so many people in the world like this homeless man and like Denver Moore who are worthy and deserving of God’s unconditional love, yet they so often get overlooked in life because of the way they look, or because of being homeless, or because they don’t fit into some safe box that many create around themselves. But because of people like Ron and Deborah Hall, who stepped outside that box by helping an angry homeless man named Denver Moore, God was able to save both a marriage and a lonely soul that was ultimately broken.

“Same Kind of Different as Me” truly is a spiritually uplifting film that portrays a great message of unconditional love and healing, one that is a great reminder of something I think we all should be offering a lot more of in life these days…especially to those less fortunate…

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

Would You Take The Red Pill Or The Blue Pill?

Would you take the red pill or the blue pill? That’s the question that Neo faced in the 1999 hit film “The Matrix” and something I’ve pondered quite a bit ever since, but in a slightly different way than what those pills represented in the movie.

In “The Matrix”, the red pill represented knowledge, freedom and the truth of reality, while taking the blue pill represented falsehood, security, and the ignorance of illusion. By taking the red pill, one would leave the cushy fake world of the Matrix and experience true reality, while taking the blue pill meant remaining in the Matrix and living out life in an illusory existence. Neo ends up taking the red pill of course and eventually goes on to see all the delusions he lived in for so long.

Now imagine, purely hypothetically, if in real life taking the red pill meant immediately leaving this world and entering whatever is beyond this life, while the blue pill meant remaining here and living out the natural course of our life until our flame extinguished on its own. Which one would you take?

For the majority of my life up until just over five years ago, I know I would have taken the blue pill because I loved the illusion I lived in. Money, sex, power, position, status, each were the things I chased after and each had almost full control over me. But then a change happened in my life, one where I began to see how fake all of that was and how unimportant each really was in the grand scheme of things. And as that change began, a whole lot of physical, mental, and emotional pain emerged in my life and has been with me on some level ever since.

Living in this world now and being able to see through the many illusions of it, yet not feeling much joy because of the serious level of pain I constantly deal with is what leads me to often say that I would instantly take the red pill in a heartbeat.

If you are someone like me, who lives with chronic pain, then you probably understand why I’m saying this because going through life with a pain filter makes it very hard to experience joy in just about everything. And believe me, I do my best to cultivate joy anywhere I can, but with my life always being tainted by this high level of pain, it makes it extremely difficult to ever feel any type of joy whatsoever. Hence the reason why I would like to take one of those red pills, even in this very moment.

When I explained this to my therapist recently, she asked me what I’d do if all my pain went away. I immediately answered with the truth, in that I wouldn’t want to take that red pill anymore. But ironically, I wouldn’t want to take the blue pill either at that point. Instead, I’d just want to exist in the state I was in, not running from the illusions this world creates but not living in them either. Because ultimately, I believe that joy can be felt without having to ever seek some person, place, or thing. Contrary, I believe in any given moment, joy can be felt in the simplest of things like stepping outside into the pouring rain and feeling every droplet splash off one’s body. But unfortunately, it’s quite easy to fall prey to all the illusions of this world that one rarely gets to experience something like that.

I don’t believe there is any person, place, or thing in this world that can ever take my pain away and create the joy I seek. Nor do I believe I’m meant to check out in this world as quick as possible, to escape all my pain, like my father did. As hard as my life feels on most days, deep down on my soul level, I know I don’t want to take any pill or anything really that might alter my present state, as I’m inclined to believe that where I’m at right now, even as I type these very words, is exactly where God wants me to be.

Sometimes that’s a really hard concept to embrace, especially on those days where I literally am either screaming in agony or profusely crying over my level of pain, as it’s on those days that I really just want to take that red pill and end my existence here, hoping my next might be far better.

But alas, I don’t think that’s God’s will for me and so I trudge on, doing my best to make it through day after day, with faith, hope, and a belief that I will one day again feel joy in a way that doesn’t come from any of those illusions this world creates, and instead is able to generate itself from a place that I’m still working on accessing within…

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

How I Spiritually Connected To A Film With A Crazy Title Like “Happy Death Day”…

I know a movie with the title “Happy Death Day” probably doesn’t sound all that appealing to most, as it initially didn’t for me, especially being someone who’s normally not into horror movies. But I opted to see it anyway, simply because it utilized the “Groundhog Day” style of filming where a person continues to repeat the same day over and over again until they figure out why they’re repeating it in the first place.

Ever since Bill Murray starred in “Groundhog Day”, I’ve really enjoyed seeing this style of filming show up in other ways such as in movies like “Edge of Tomorrow” and “Before I Fall”. Now another title, that being “Happy Death Day”, can be added to that list and while it was similar in concept, it did have its own unique edge like each of its predecessors did.

Why I keep finding myself spiritually connecting to this concept of a movie is because it feels a lot like my life. In each of the “Groundhog Day” type of movies, the protagonist is always someone who isn’t too nice of a person. In fact, they usually seem to be quite stuck on themselves. In other words, they are always selfish and self-centered to the core. But through a series of countless days being repeated over and over again, they begin to see the ugliness of that within themselves and eventually find a path of redemption by turning to a life of unconditional love and kindness.

And oh, I can so relate to that, because after all, pretty much every single year prior to April of 2010, my life was super self-absorbed into one thing, me. I thought of me first. I thought of my needs, wants, and desires first and I never cared about anyone else’s. Instead, I tried to make the world revolve around me. And then one day, it happened.

My left leg developed some serious numbness. And that began a life of one health problem emerging after another. But each have helped me to slowly see just how self-centered of a person I had become in life. Over the years, my perception of the world has shifted because of this, as a life of pain definitely shifts one’s view of things around them. Now, I find myself caring a lot more about the planet, my family, my friends, and every one I come across, especially those who too are going through great trials and tribulations in life.

Unfortunately, I’m still repeating the same day though, as I continue to wake up every morning and feel all that uncomfortability in my mind and body from the pain. And when one goes through pain like this on a consistent basis, it doesn’t matter what happens during the day, because things always feel the same. Activities feel the same. Meals taste the same. People sound the same. Everything appears the same in our minds and life begins to feel monotonous.

“Happy Death Day” reminded me a lot of this, except in this movie, things weren’t centered around chronic pain. In this case, it was about a selfish sorority girl named Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe), who keeps getting murdered on the night of her birthday by a masked individual, which only results in her waking up on the same day in a stranger’s dorm room feeling hungover. As the days repeat, Tree proceeds to face the same set of circumstances of her selfish life and attempts to figure out who keeps killing her and why. And along the way, she slowly finds the path to redemption of her character by becoming a more unconditionally loving person.

I know this might sound like a stupid concept for a movie, but for those like me, who live out every day battling some type of chronic pain, it’s so easy to relate to films like this. Because deep down, we each want our repeating days of pain to end, to feel a little more normal in a world that never feels normal to us, and to smile and be happy for once, rather than to piece ourselves together and repeat one frustrating day after another.

So, maybe that’s why I tend to spiritually connect to films
like “Groundhog Day” and “Happy Death Day” as much as I do, because they always give me some hope in such a strange way. Hope that one day God will have me waking up into a new life, one that isn’t filled with repeating one day after another in chronic pain. And one where I finally smile from ear to ear, while feeling grateful for the shift I went through in those series of repeating days, from a life of selfishness to one of selflessness.

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

“Kevin (Probably) Saves The World”, A Spiritually-Centered And Truly Uplifting TV Show

I really miss television shows like “Touched By An Angel” and “Highway To Heaven” and a bunch of others that were spiritually-centered and truly uplifting back in the 80’s and 90’s, because it seems as if those types of shows aren’t quite as popular anymore in mainstream society. Rather, what appears to connect the most with viewers these days are programs filled with crime, drama, blood, and violence. Occasionally though networks have attempted to bring some of that good-natured programming back through series like “Joan of Arcadia” and “Eli Stone”. Unfortunately, each have never lasted more than two seasons because the Nielsen ratings weren’t high enough to continue justifying their production. This year though, another has emerged that really has been lifting my spirits again. It’s called “Kevin (Probably) Saves The World” and is airing on ABC on Tuesday nights at 10pm.

Starring Jason Ritter as Kevin, the show is about a guy who has pretty much lost everything after attempting suicide. Because of it, his sister Amy (played by Joanna Garcia Swisher) agrees to let him move back to his hometown and live with her hoping it will help him get back on his feet. On Kevin’s first night home, a meteor strikes the Earth nearby Amy’s house, which Kevin and his sister’s daughter Reese (played by Chloe East) quickly investigate. Upon arriving at the crash site, Kevin races into the debris and decides to touch the piece of rock that lay at the center of it. As soon as his fingers connect with the glowing black object, he is sent soaring through the air and knocked unconscious. When he awakes, he meets Yvette (played by Kimberly Herbert Gregory), an angel of God, who tells him he’s the only remaining righteous soul and that his task is to find the other 35, as each are meant to help protect humanity and save the world. But for Kevin, who has lived a far from righteous type of life, at least in his mind, a journey of spiritual self-discovery and a somewhat resistant attitude towards a new life of servitude to God leads to the beginning of a series that’s actually been quite moving, funny, and uplifting.

Why I find myself so connected to this show and the few other spiritually-centered ones I’ve watched over the years like it, is the idea of an average person like me becoming utilized by God to do some type of special work on the planet. I too attempted suicide about six years ago and definitely have not lived a very righteous life up until just after that dark period of my life. But now, I’m doing my very best to focus all my energy on cleaning my life up and being a vessel of servitude to God, as it’s my hope that one day I will have a special spiritual mission materialize as well. Given all the pain and frustration I’ve gone through on my spiritual journey these past few years to head in that direction, I have looked for inspiration to keep me going and God-centered television shows have been one of those avenues for me.

That’s why I hope “Kevin (Probably) Saves The World” will actually make it beyond a season or two, and break that spiritual television show curse that I’ve seen constantly happening over the past decade or so. It really is a rare thing to find myself feeling so moved to tears of joy and laughter while watching a program on TV, and this truly uplifting show has already done that in its first few episodes. So, if you haven’t checked this series out yet and enjoy spiritually-centered shows like “Touched By An Angel” or “Highway To Heaven”, then give this one a chance, as I’m sure if you do, you’ll find yourself being uplifted like I am and isn’t that something we all need a lot of right now in this world anyway?

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

Why We Should Never Solely Base Our Decision To See A Movie On Critic’s Reviews…

Do movie critics ever sway your decision to go see a movie in the theater? And do you pay attention to things like the Rotten Tomatoes score, which is a percentage rating of all the critic’s reviews for each film? Or are you someone who sees a movie regardless of whether it has positive or negative reviews, simply because it interests you?

I ask these questions because I’ve noticed over the past year, I’ve gone to a number of movies that were poorly reviewed by plenty of critics, yet I still thoroughly enjoyed them. Movies such as “Collateral Beauty”, “A Dog’s Purpose”, “Ghost In The Shell”, “King Arthur”, and “Everything, Everything” to name a few. Personally, I don’t like reading critic’s reviews of films for this very reason, as I don’t want to become biased by their opinion, even when the majority of them may be saying the same thing.

Watching movies is like viewing a piece of art. It moves a person individually in a unique way because of where they are at in life and what they’ve gone through. Take “Collateral Beauty” for example. It was loathed by the majority of critics in this country, each claiming it was far too unbelievable. Me, on the other hand, went into the movie with no expectations and emerged several hours lately spiritually charged and feeling quite uplifted. Why so many critics didn’t like it, I have no idea. But my point is that if I had listened to all those negative reviews or based my decision on its Rotten Tomatoes score, which in this case was a measly 14% (meaning 86% of the critics in this country hated it), I probably wouldn’t have gone to the theater and never known how much it would have touched my soul.

Another case in point is with a film I just went to the other day, that being the 2017 remake of “Flatliners”. It actually received a dreadful score of 4% on Rotten Tomatoes (meaning 96% of critics shunned it), yet I was determined to see it anyway because of my great love of the original. And you know what, I absolutely adored it. I appreciate the director’s take on the update, as much as I did the original. I also liked the younger cast of actors and actresses and I treasured its underlying message on forgiveness, one that moved me so much that I cried by the end of it, because so often in my life my ego refused to forgive both myself and others, the result of which made me greatly suffer on my spiritual journey.

Thus, my point is this. If we always base our life’s decisions on what other people say, we may miss out on beautiful opportunities for our Higher Guidance to show up in our lives and bless us in ways we might never expect. Movies truly are like art and appreciation for them can vary greatly from one person to the next. Just because the majority of critics despise a film doesn’t mean you will too. So, my suggestion is this. When you find your spirit perk up while watching a preview of it or reading a promotion about it, go see it when it comes out, even if the majority of critics say to avoid it. You might just discover a diamond in the rough in the process and a greater connection to your Higher Self as well. And wouldn’t that alone be worth it on your spiritual journey in life?

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson