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I was raised separately from a world that I never knew existed. I’ve always called it the world, but I also call it my home today. To my family, this is apostasy. To me, it’s life-affirming, and it makes no sense to my readers. It wasn’t until later I realized that worldly is a cosmopolitan compliment. As a child, it was a slur. Derogatory of all the sinful self-seeking people that lived outside our walled religious garden.
But that was simply a tiny part of my first life. I’ve lived multiple lives, three at this point, each only being the next leg of my search for belonging. I see glimpses of belonging but never with certainty and never much more compelling than the ones in past lives. I’m perplexed, pondering if a sense of belonging is possible. A problem for the next decade Lane. File it way in the back. Put it on the back burner of the people’s stove down the street.
I read Jesus’ words in John 17:14 differently these days:
“I have given them thy word: and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.”
But it seems my childhood church leaders skipped over the passage in 17:15:
“I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.”
I know little of our world because it was kept from me. Rather, I was kept from exploring it at every possible turn. These blockages still haunt me. I was not isolated from the world like an Amish child, though. I was there, seemingly participating in the affairs of an average child, but I was there as an observer. Going through the motions, knowing that at the end of the day, the only link I had to the world outside of my family and religion was the TV, restricted internet use, books, and music.
Music was my life raft. My least restricted means of connecting with the world and one of two ways I could safely express myself. Everything around me seemed to be shot through with danger. Tell anyone how I felt and be lectured by my father or disciplined by the religion. Go to the world seeking answers and risk death by the musky tendrils of god stained in old testament blood. But Cage the Elephant’s self-titled album gave me answers. I knew not what the words meant. I only knew they meant something. I lay splayed on the floor, listening to it for hours. Disassociating to the views of my ceiling. It was 2010. I would hyperventilate myself to unconsciousness, thinking the split-second dreams contained therein withheld some eternal bliss. And if I could only remember them…
Now the world is my life raft.
I don’t fear the fate of mankind. I am mankind, and mankind is I. I’ve tied my horse to this post. Forever on this boat with everyone else, no matter how rocky. I choose not to let myself be fooled by false prophets claiming to their followers that they are on no boat at all, or worse, that soon their god will kill everyone else so that they can take over as the rightful owners of our vessel.