If I Was Given One Superpower, What Would It Be?

On my recent travels, much of my time was spent in Puerto Rico where the predominant language spoken was Spanish. Unfortunately, I did the bare minimum requirement in language building early on in life with a few years of French classes. I know many other countries have their children becoming fluent in several languages just to move beyond the primary school years.

One of the things that I see most often with many Americans is a self-centered perspective when traveling outside the continental United States. The idea that someone doesn’t speak English seems so foreign to many of these travelers. I’m sure many are guilty of doing the routine of adding letters such as “e” or “o” or “y” at the end of English words while they are speaking to any foreigner with the hopes that the other person might understand. I’m sure what it sounds like to them is probably more like gobbledygook and gibberish.

Between the silence that was present during all of my local cab rides or when I attempted to communicate with the resort room cleaning staff to no avail, I felt a sense of sadness. I was sad that I had never taken the time to learn any other language fluently. I was sad that I couldn’t do anything but just say hello. I was sad that I too had been a self-centered tourist for most of my life expecting everyone to understand my language. Some statistics I’ve read lately have said that Spanish is going to become the main language spoken in the United States in the not too distant future. According to other research I did on the internet, the most spoken languages for people in the world are first, Mandarin Chinese, then second, Spanish, and third, English. Unfortunately, even if one knew all three of those languages, it would only cover 25 percent of the world’s population. This brings me to the point of this blog entry.

I’m a big superhero fan. I watch anything that deals with people with special powers. I loved the show Heroes when it was on, and am currently engaged in Arrow on the CW. I always ask people when I get to know them what superpower they would have if they were granted one. So many always choose Superman’s powers. Some resort to saying they would just want the skills that Batman has. Women migrate over to Wonder-woman quite a bit. Lately with the Avengers movie having taken the world by storm, characters such as Iron Man, Thor, Captain American, and the Hulk have gained a lot more notoriety. But after watching the TV show Heroes several years ago, I learned that superpowers could be just about anything.

After taking my trip to Puerto Rico and traveling from there to several Caribbean islands where I didn’t understand any dialects being spoken, I decided my superpower, if granted one, would be uniquely different from what the comic books, TV shows, and movies portray. I would want to be fluent both verbally and on paper with every language of the world. I don’t hold the attitude that everyone should speak English. To me that is self-centered. I like to communicate to people and I would love to be able to do that in the native dialect of wherever I am visiting. I hope to someday be able to speak globally about my spiritual journey of healing with God at the center of my life. Being fluent in all the languages of the world would help me to bring that message on a more direct level to people from every corner of the planet.

While I know it’s only a dream that I could have that type of a superpower, I promised myself after this past trip that in the near future, I am going to start taking Spanish classes to at least be a step closer in making that dream come true.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

Be Yourself!

When I was a young kid I just wanted to fit in. Unfortunately, by other people’s standards, I was never deemed cool. My mother dressed me in Sears best back then with Toughskins jeans, multi-colored plaid shirts, and Kangaroo sneakers. I didn’t have a cool backpack to carry my books either. The front seat of the school bus was my safe haven. And I really didn’t have a single close friend who wanted to sit with me in the cafeteria during lunch. My best friends were the books I immersed myself into or the laps I swam on the swim team day after day.

By the age of 16, I was tired of being me because I had been bullied so often and was relatively friendless. Spit balls hitting me were the norm. My books landing on the floor from a passing hand were common. Being called a nerd, a dork, a geek, or worse was an everyday occurrence. Most people didn’t even know my name. In my senior year, someone dared me to spike my ‘normally-parted-on-the-side’ hair for Halloween and go into school that way. I didn’t feel like I had anything to lose so I bought some Dippity-Do Gel and took a large gob of it, ran it through my hair and became an instant porcupine. That day changed my life. When I went into school that day, there was a lot more people noticing me and some even saying “Is that Andy, Andy Dawson?” To hear my name was like hearing the angels sing. Normally, what I heard most often was something more like “Get out of my way dork!” When I went home that day I wondered just how much more I could change about me to be recognized more often.

Over the course of the next few months, I used my job at the mall working at a place called Chess King to buy a new wardrobe. Toughskins and plaid shirts became italian rayon pants and shirts or trendy jeans and t-shirts. Kangaroo sneakers became Nike hot tops with big fat shoelaces or flashy shoes that you had to squint when you looked at them. My hair became permanently spiked. I quit the swim team which at the time was considered as uncool as the Chess Club. And suddenly I had a mass of people wanting to befriend me and be around me.

By the end of my senior year of high school, there was hardly any room in my yearbook for signatures as compared to the few pity ones I had in previous years. I was regularly making fun of the people that I once was associated with and could have then been deemed a bully. And I had picked up drinking, getting drunk, and passing out as my new pastime.

For the next two decades, I utilized what I refer to now today as the Chameleon Effect. I essentially became what I thought people around me wanted. From friends to partners, I lost sight of who I once was. In my active alcohol and drug addiction years, I dealt drugs, hung out in a small gang, got in trouble with the law, almost got kicked out of college, dropped my real name and went by “A.D.”, and shaped my image to one that eventually got me compared to Vanilla Ice. When I finally dropped the alcohol and drugs and went into the twelve years of white knuckling it, I allowed myself to become a battering ram in relationship after relationship. “I’m sorry” became my favorite words to use even though things generally weren’t my fault. Sex and money became a tool I used to keep friends or partners from leaving me. My career path was forged initially trying to impress my parents and then later a boyfriend when I sold everything to buy him a business that I never wanted to be a part of. Whatever someone said was cool I tried it, bought it, tasted it, sampled it, pursued it, and more. And then one day about two years ago, I woke up and couldn’t figure out who I was anymore. I had changed myself so much for so many different people that I didn’t even know how to live my life on my own, what I liked, or where I was heading. I had become so depressed and anxiety ridden that I landed myself in the mental hospital for five days where I was drugged up and shuffled around from staring at one wall or another.

Over the past two years since then, I have done everything I can to crawl out of those pits of despair. I have shed all those skins that I placed upon me for over twenty years just to be liked. I have dropped all those images that I thought I needed to be cool. I let go of all those friends that I had in my life who liked me solely for the sex I offered them, the money I gave them or the ones I acted just like so that they would accept me. Now I am in the process of healing and rediscovering me.

I take myself out on dates regularly. Sometimes I check out new restaurants. Sometimes I go to the movies. Sometimes I take a walk at the beach. Sometimes I just go to Starbucks and people watch while I sip a decaf coffee. What’s ironic is the realization that I’m becoming the person I ran away from all those years ago when I was that bullied kid. I’m back to reading books regularly. I like to lap swim in the local Y or when it gets warm, in the ocean. And I buy my clothes when I need them usually from online at a discount store and in no specific fashion trend.

I beat to my own drum today. Because of that, I like me a lot more now. I have learned to enjoy spending time alone more than anything. I especially like who I see in the mirror now. What’s funny is that who I see in the mirror today is the person I left behind at 16 years old except I’m now the age of 40 with a lot less pimples.

My license plate on my car says “BURSLF”. Be Yourself. I’m doing that today. I don’t want to change my colors anymore like a chameleon does just to fit in. Not too long ago, one could find me in a group of people considered “cool” by society’s standards and yet if they could have probed my brain, they would have seen I was still that same scared little boy just wanting to be accepted. Today my acceptance comes from God which in turn has led me to being able to accept me just as I am.

I wish everyone would just be themselves. Maybe then this world might be a little brighter than it currently is.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

The Gay Marriage Crisis

It seems just about every day now there is something in the news about the division of people in the United States over gay marriage. Several months ago there was the big Chick-Fil-A issue where the owner expressed his conservative Christian feelings about marriage being between a man and a woman. Then there was the sit-ins and picketing outside many of their establishments. A family values day came soon after with discounted chicken sandwiches for all those that supported marriage between a man and a woman. Soon after that, Starbucks got involved as they have been advocates of gay marriage for some time and offered a coffee special on a certain day. I read not to long after that same sex kiss-ins were occurring at Chick-Fil-A restaurants with couples showing their affection openly in the dining rooms of these establishments. Since then I have seen different businesses in the news taking sides on this issue as well. Most recently there was a wedding cake proprietor that rejected two lesbians request for their commitment ceremony because of the owner’s Christian beliefs. The biggest news of all arrived just a few days ago with Republican Senator Rob Portman of Ohio announcing he has a gay son and that he now supports him and gay marriage.

I grew up a Methodist Christian, studied the Bible extensively, have been a Deacon, served Communion, prayed over others, been baptized several times, and I’m gay. Most of my life I have faced opposition from both within my family and outside of it. I had a best friend once who told me I was going to hell when he found out I was attracted to men. I had a mother who cried profusely when I told her I was gay. I’ve been rejected by several churches and told I couldn’t join because of my sexuality. But all along, I have felt that God created me this way and loves me just as I am.

I truly believe it’s impossible for the many conservative Christians, right wing Republicans, and any other person that opposes gay people and gay marriage to understand anything related to being gay until they have to deal with the issue close to home. Senator Portman is one of those who has had to face this head on. A man who voted in favor of the Defense Of Marriage Act at one point many years ago, Portman went through a trial of several years before coming to loving acceptance of his son. My father went through the same journey with me and eventually went to PFLAG meetings (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) in support of my sexuality. Sadly, my mother passed away never having fully accepted it.

The Bible has been used again and again lately as a weapon for standing against gays and lesbians and gay marriage. A few passages in the Bible speak to the subject. A couple in the old testament and a couple in the new testament. Interestingly enough, Jesus never spoke of the subject.

More and more people everyday are coming into this world and growing up self declaring themselves as gay or lesbian. It used to be a 1 in 10 percentage for how many people were attracted to the same sex. Lately it seems like that number is no longer true and that it’s much higher. I once thought myself to be living in sin because of what other people told me, and because of what the Bible said in those couple of passages. Through my own journey of self-sacrifice, pain, and prayer, I learned God felt differently.

I hold the firm truth today that the Bible was written by man. While its writings may have been inspired by God, it is not perfect and it was also put together by man with man’s agenda. I choose to live my life by God speaking directly to me and within me. I take the Bible as an acronym now, Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth. To me it is a wonderful book with great messages. But I live according to God who speaks directly to me. To say that God doesn’t change or that the Bible is perfect seems outrageous to me. The Bible talks about it being ok to have multiple wives, to not eating certain foods ever, to not wearing leather, amongst other things. Christian scholars and men of cloth will find all the reasons why those aren’t true in today’s day and age and that they were all written as a sign of the times. Why hasn’t that been just as true with homosexuality? I have found that those most outspoken on this issue don’t have a gay son or daughter, have never had any gay friends, and even in some cases, are fighting their own same sex attractions within themselves.

What I know is this. I didn’t make a choice to be this way. If I had a choice, I would not choose to be gay in a time and age where people are so divided on this issue. I would not choose to be gay when I am not given the same rights as someone who is heterosexual. I would not choose to be gay when I can’t express my feelings about someone I love safely in public without the fear of being beaten or chastised.

Right now with gay marriage, unless one is lucky enough to live in a state where it’s protected, if one partner was to die, it’s not a guarantee that any will for the other partner to receive the deceased’s estate would be upheld. One of my friends went through this many years back. His partner died and his partner’s will left him everything. The deceased partner’s family came in, used the Bible, their Christian beliefs, and the courts and nullified the will leaving my friend with nothing. Is that fair? Truthfully, is that being Christian?

Senator Portman is truly an honorable man. Being in the public eye, he took a stance that is now forcing other political people in office to face this issue. Why shouldn’t two men or two women be able to marry each other and have the same rights? The only argument today is that the Bible says so. What happened to the separation of church and state? Do you really believe that if Jesus appeared today in our society that he would sit there and say, “No, I’m sorry, even though John and Jeremy truly love each other they can’t marry each other and don’t deserve to have the same rights as Joan and Jeremy.” Personally, I believe God, Jesus, and all the angels and spiritual beings are shaking their heads and wishing we would all just express love and equality to each other.

That’s what Jesus was about. Expressing love. Unconditional love. Is it being unconditionally loving to deny two people who love each other the right to marry and the same protections that marriage brings?

Maybe several million more people need to come to this Earth and be born gay or lesbian to bring the message across a little clearer from God and His Kingdom.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson