Bring it on. - I can take whatever you can dish out.” Sometimes life is your opponent and just showing up is a victory.You don't need to score more points than your opponent in order to accomplish that. No Nishan didn’t score more points than any of his opponents on this day, that would have been nice, but I don’t believe that was the most important thing to Nishan. Without knowing for sure - the most important thing to him on this day was to walk with pride like a wrestler up to a thirty two foot circle, have all eyes from the crowd on him, to watch him compete one on one against his opponent - giving it all that he had. That is what competition is all about. Most of the times in wrestlin
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Bring it on. – I can take whatever you can dish out.” Sometimes life is your opponent and just showing up is a victory.You don’t need to score more points than your opponent in order to accomplish that. No Nishan didn’t score more points than any of his opponents on this day, that would have been nice, but I don’t believe that was the most important thing to Nishan. Without knowing for sure – the most important thing to him on this day was to walk with pride like a wrestler up to a thirty two foot circle, have all eyes from the crowd on him, to watch him compete one on one against his opponent – giving it all that he had. That is what competition is all about. Most of the times in wrestlin

-JohnA Passaro

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Like the most of you, I was raised among people who knew - who were certain. They did not reason or investigate. They had no doubts. They knew that they had the truth. In their creed there was no guess — no perhaps. They had a revelation from God. They knew the beginning of things. They knew that God commenced to create one Monday morning, four thousand and four years before Christ. They knew that in the eternity — back of that morning, he had done nothing. They knew that it took him six days to make the earth — all plants, all animals, all life, and all the globes that wheel in space. They knew exactly what he did each day and when he rested. They knew the origin, the cause of evil, of all crime, of all disease and death.At the same time they knew that God created man in his own image and was perfectly satisfied with his work... They knew all about the Flood -- knew that God, with the exception of eight, drowned all his children -- the old and young -- the bowed patriarch and the dimpled babe -- the young man and the merry maiden -- the loving mother and the laughing child -- because his mercy endureth forever. They knew too, that he drowned the beasts and birds -- everything that walked or crawled or flew -- because his loving kindness is over all his works. They knew that God, for the purpose of civilizing his children, had devoured some with earthquakes, destroyed some with storms of fire, killed some with his lightnings, millions with famine, with pestilence, and sacrificed countless thousands upon the fields of war. They knew that it was necessary to believe these things and to love God. They knew that there could be no salvation except by faith, and through the atoning blood of Jesus Christ.Then I asked myself the question: Is there a supernatural power -- an arbitrary mind -- an enthroned God -- a supreme will that sways the tides and currents of the world -- to which all causes bow?I do not deny. I do not know - but I do not believe. I believe that the natural is supreme - that from the infinite chain no link can be lost or broken — that there is no supernatural power that can answer prayer - no power that worship can persuade or change — no power that cares for man.Is there a God?I do not know.Is man immortal?I do not know.One thing I do know, and that is, that neither hope, nor fear, belief, nor denial, can change the fact. It is as it is, and it will be as it must be.We can be as honest as we are ignorant. If we are, when asked what is beyond the horizon of the known, we must say that we do not know. We can tell the truth, and we can enjoy the blessed freedom that the brave have won. We can destroy the monsters of superstition, the hissing snakes of ignorance and fear. We can drive from our minds the frightful things that tear and wound with beak and fang. We can civilize our fellow-men. We can fill our lives with generous deeds, with loving words, with art and song, and all the ecstasies of love. We can flood our years with sunshine — with the divine climate of kindness, and we can drain to the last drop the golden cup of joy.

-Robert G.

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I saw a banner hanging next to city hall in downtown Philadelphia that read, "Kill them all, and let God sort them out." A bumper sticker read, "God will judge evildoers; we just have to get them to him." I saw a T-shirt on a soldier that said, "US Air Force... we don't die; we just go to hell to regroup." Others were less dramatic- red, white, and blue billboards saying, "God bless our troops." "God Bless America" became a marketing strategy. One store hung an ad in their window that said, "God bless America--$1 burgers." Patriotism was everywhere, including in our altars and church buildings. In the aftermath of September 11th, most Christian bookstores had a section with books on the event, calendars, devotionals, buttons, all decorated in the colors of America, draped in stars and stripes, and sprinkled with golden eagles. This burst of nationalism reveals the deep longing we all have for community, a natural thirst for intimacy... September 11th shattered the self-sufficient, autonomous individual, and we saw a country of broken fragile people who longed for community- for people to cry with, be angry with, to suffer with. People did not want to be alone in their sorrow, rage, and fear. But what happened after September 11th broke my heart. Conservative Christians rallies around the drums of war. Liberal Christian took to the streets. The cross was smothered by the flag and trampled under the feet of angry protesters. The church community was lost, so the many hungry seekers found community in the civic religion of American patriotism. People were hurting and crying out for healing, for salvation in the best sense of the word, as in the salve with which you dress a wound. A people longing for a savior placed their faith in the fragile hands of human logic and military strength, which have always let us down. They have always fallen short of the glory of God. ...The tragedy of the church's reaction to September 11th is not that we rallied around the families in New York and D.C. but that our love simply reflected the borders and allegiances of the world. We mourned the deaths of each soldier, as we should, but we did not feel the same anger and pain for each Iraqi death, or for the folks abused in the Abu Ghraib prison incident. We got farther and farther from Jesus' vision, which extends beyond our rational love and the boundaries we have established. There is no doubt that we must mourn those lives on September 11th. We must mourn the lives of the soldiers. But with the same passion and outrage, we must mourn the lives of every Iraqi who is lost. They are just as precious, no more, no less. In our rebirth, every life lost in Iraq is just as tragic as a life lost in New York or D.C. And the lives of the thirty thousand children who die of starvation each day is like six September 11ths every single day, a silent tsunami that happens every week.

-Shane Claiborne

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I resolved to come right to the point. "Hello," I said as coldly as possible, "we've got to talk.""Yes, Bob," he said quietly, "what's on your mind?" I shut my eyes for a moment, letting the raging frustration well up inside, then stared angrily at the psychiatrist."Look, I've been religious about this recovery business. I go to AA meetings daily and to your sessions twice a week. I know it's good that I've stopped drinking. But every other aspect of my life feels the same as it did before. No, it's worse. I hate my life. I hate myself."Suddenly I felt a slight warmth in my face, blinked my eyes a bit, and then stared at him."Bob, I'm afraid our time's up," Smith said in a matter-of-fact style."Time's up?" I exclaimed. "I just got here.""No." He shook his head, glancing at his clock. "It's been fifty minutes. You don't remember anything?""I remember everything. I was just telling you that these sessions don't seem to be working for me."Smith paused to choose his words very carefully. "Do you know a very angry boy named 'Tommy'?""No," I said in bewilderment, "except for my cousin Tommy whom I haven't seen in twenty years...""No." He stopped me short. "This Tommy's not your cousin. I spent this last fifty minutes talking with another Tommy. He's full of anger. And he's inside of you.""You're kidding?""No, I'm not. Look. I want to take a little time to think over what happened today. And don't worry about this. I'll set up an emergency session with you tomorrow. We'll deal with it then."RobertThis is Robert speaking. Today I'm the only personality who is strongly visible inside and outside. My own term for such an MPD role is dominant personality. Fifteen years ago, I rarely appeared on the outside, though I had considerable influence on the inside; back then, I was what one might call a "recessive personality." My passage from "recessive" to "dominant" is a key part of our story; be patient, you'll learn lots more about me later on. Indeed, since you will meet all eleven personalities who once roamed about, it gets a bit complex in the first half of this book; but don't worry, you don't have to remember them all, and it gets sorted out in the last half of the book. You may be wondering -- if not "Robert," who, then, was the dominant MPD personality back in the 1980s and earlier? His name was "Bob," and his dominance amounted to a long reign, from the early 1960s to the early 1990s. Since "Robert B. Oxnam" was born in 1942, you can see that "Bob" was in command from early to middle adulthood.Although he was the dominant MPD personality for thirty years, Bob did not have a clue that he was afflicted by multiple personality disorder until 1990, the very last year of his dominance. That was the fateful moment when Bob first heard that he had an "angry boy named Tommy" inside of him. How, you might ask, can someone have MPD for half a lifetime without knowing it? And even if he didn't know it, didn't others around him spot it?To outsiders, this is one of the most perplexing aspects of MPD. Multiple personality is an extreme disorder, and yet it can go undetected for decades, by the patient, by family and close friends, even by trained therapists. Part of the explanation is the very nature of the disorder itself: MPD thrives on secrecy because the dissociative individual is repressing a terrible inner secret. The MPD individual becomes so skilled in hiding from himself that he becomes a specialist, often unknowingly, in hiding from others. Part of the explanation is rooted in outside observers: MPD often manifests itself in other behaviors, frequently addiction and emotional outbursts, which are wrongly seen as the "real problem."The fact of the matter is that Bob did not see himself as the dominant personality inside Robert B. Oxnam. Instead, he saw himself as a whole person. In his mind, Bob was merely a nickname for Bob Oxnam, Robert Oxnam, Dr. Robert B. Oxnam, PhD.

-Robert B.

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A good movie can take you out of your dull funk and the hopelessness that so often goes with slipping into a theatre; a good movie can make you feel alive again, in contact, not just lost in another city. Good movies make you care, make you believe in possibilities again. If somewhere in the Hollywood-entertainment world someone has managed to break through with something that speaks to you, then it isn’t all corruption. The movie doesn’t have to be great; it can be stupid and empty and you can still have the joy of a good performance, or the joy in just a good line. An actor’s scowl, a small subversive gesture, a dirty remark that someone tosses off with a mock-innocent face, and the world makes a little bit of sense. Sitting there alone or painfully alone because those with you do not react as you do, you know there must be others perhaps in this very theatre or in this city, surely in other theatres in other cities, now, in the past or future, who react as you do. And because movies are the most total and encompassing art form we have, these reactions can seem the most personal and, maybe the most important, imaginable. The romance of movies is not just in those stories and those people on the screen but in the adolescent dream of meeting others who feel as you do about what you’ve seen. You do meet them, of course, and you know each other at once because you talk less about good movies than about what you love in bad movies.

-Pauline Kael

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Did you ever think much about jobs? I mean, some of the jobs people land in? You see a guy giving haircuts to dogs, or maybe going along the curb with a shovel, scooping up horse manure. And you think, now why is the silly bastard doing that? He looks fairly bright, about as bright as anyone else. Why the hell does he do that for living?You kind grin and look down your nose at him. You think he’s nuts, know what I mean, or he doesn’t have any ambition. And then you take a good look at yourself, and you stop wondering about the other guy…You’ve got all your hands and feet. Your health is okay, and you make a nice appearance, and ambition-man! You’ve got it. You’re young, I guess: you’d call thirty young, and you’re strong. You don’t have much education, but you’ve got more than plenty of other people who go to the top. And yet with all that, with all you’ve had to do with this is as far you’ve got And something tellys you, you’re not going much farther if any.And there is nothing to be done about it now, of course, but you can’t stop hoping. You can’t stop wondering……Maybe you had too much ambition. Maybe that was the trouble. You couldn’t see yourself spending forty years moving from office boy to president. So you signed on with a circulation crew; you worked the magazines from one coast to another. And then you ran across a little brush deal-it sounded nice, anyway. And you worked that until you found something better, something that looked better. And you moved from that something to another something. Coffee-and-tea premiums, dinnerware, penny-a-day insurance, photo coupons, cemetery lots, hosiery, extract, and God knows what all. You begged for the charities, You bought the old gold. You went back to the magazines and the brushes and the coffee and tea. You made good money, a couple of hundred a week sometimes. But when you averaged it up, the good weeks with the bad, it wasn’t so good. Fifty or sixty a week, maybe seventy. More than you could make, probably, behind agas pump or a soda fountain. But you had to knock yourself out to do it, and you were standing stil. You were still there at the starting place. And you weren’t a kid any more.So you come to this town, and you see this ad. Man for outside sales and collections. Good deal for hard worker. And you think maybe this is it. This sounds like a right town. So you take the job, and you settle down in the town. And, of course, neither one of ‘em is right, they’re just like all the others. The job stinks. The town stinks. You stink. And there’s not a goddamned thing you can do about it. All you can do is go on like this other guys go on. The guy giving haircuts to dogs, and the guy sweeping up horse manute Hating it. Hating yourself.And hoping.

-Jim Thompson

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Seven years ago tonight, every dream I ever had came true. That's not something too many men get to claim. I'm very lucky, blessed, whichever you believe. Probably a lot of both. Tonight marks the anniversay of my debut performance at Caesars Palace." On his cue, the crowd whipped into congratulatory rapture.Blindsided by his recollection, Isabel was motionless. That's what he recalls happening on this date? "Indulgent, lazy, self-centered ... jerk!" she said, grabbing her purse, thinking she'd climb over the seat. "I'm going home!" Before she could turn, hoisting herself over, a spotlight landed on her. In the darkened arena Aidan and Isabel were face-to-face. He stared. The same way he did years ago in his pickup truck, holding tight to her wrist, the same way he did on the dance floor at the gala. The same way he did the moment she left him."If you can believe it," he said, still staring, "something even more improtant happened that day. As dreams of fame and fortune go, this topped everything. I've always known that." Then, in a softer voice: "And I'm a fool because I should have never given up." Even from her vantage point, Isabel could see the gulp roll through his throat. "It's my great privilege this evening to introduce my wife, Isabel Royce." He gestured to the box. Isabel responded by sinking to her seat."What's he talking about?" she hissed to Mary Louise. "We're divorced!" From her right, Tanya nudged her. It was like being on a palace balcony, Isabel offering a deer-in-the-headlights wave to the subjects, a thoroughly baffled look at Aidan. In return, he smiled at her clear confusion."My wife ...""Why is he calling me that?"There was a mixed reaction, lots of gasps, some applause, and the disappointed groans of female fans. "She's done me the tremendous honor of making a rare appearance at one of my shows. Seven years ago, she agreed to marry me. At the time, my life was more trouble than promise. We were just two scared kids who had nothing but each other. Really, it was all I needed. We were married in true Vegas fashion." Hoots and hollers echoed, his glance dropping to the stage floor. Sharing this was making the performer uncomfortable. He pushed on. "While most women would have been satisfied with a ring ..." His long fingers fluttered over the snake. "This was Isabel's idea of a permanent bond." It drew a wave of subtle laughter, Isabel included "Do you remember how the story went?" he said, speaking only to Isabel in a crow of thousands. "As long as I had it, I'd never be without you. Turns out, it wasn't a story, it was the absolute truth. Lately though," he said, turning back to his public narrative, "circumstance, some serious, some calculated, has prevented me from getting my wife's attention. So tonight I resorted to an old performer's trick, a captive audience. I planned this moment, Isabel, knowing you'd be here. Regardless of anything you may believe, I meant what I said on our wedding night, in the moment I said it. I love you. I always have.

-Laura Spinella

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Dear Sawyer and Quin, If you ever read this and I'm gone I want you to know something that has been weighing on me. I watch you two play and it can be so sad sometimes. You two have been best friends since Sawyer's birth. Always inseparable. It's been adorable , but comes with its challenges. I'm worried when I watch you boys. Quinton, you are always driven by your ego. You're strong and talented, but much too determined to beat down everyone in your efforts to be the best. You push yourself to win a competition, then shove it in someone's face. I’ve rarely seen you compliment others, but you always give yourself a pat on the back. You don't play anything for the love of it, you play to win and normally do. I've seen you tear down your brother so many times just to feel good about yourself. You don't have to do that, dear. You don't have to spend your life trying to prove that you're amazing. One day you'll fail and be alone because you've climbed to the top of a pyramid with only enough room for yourself. Don't let it get to that point and if you do, learn humility from your brother. He could do without so much of it. Sawyer, just because you're most often the underdog and the peaceful introspective kid, don't think I'm letting you off the hook. Your humility has become your worst enemy. It's so intense that I wonder if it will be your vice one day, instead of your greatest virtue. It's one thing to believe you are below all men, even when you're not, but it's another thing to be crippled by fear and to no longer try. Sometimes , dear, I think you fear being good at something because you've tasted the bitterness of being the one who comes in last and you don't want to make others feel that way. That's sweet of you and I smile inside when I see you pretending to lose when you race your younger cousins , but if you always let people beat you they may never learn to work hard for something they want. It's okay to win, just win for the right reasons and always encourage those who lose. Oh, and Sawyer, I hope one day you read this. One day when it matters. If so, remember that the bottom of a mountain can be just as lonely as the top. I hope the two of you can learn to climb together one day. As I'm writing this you are trying to climb the big pine tree out back. Quin is at the top, rejoicing in his victory and taunting Sawyer. And Sawyer is at the bottom, afraid to get hurt and afraid to be sad about it. I'm going to go talk to you two separately now. I hope my words mean something. Love you boys, Mom

-Marilyn Grey

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Whatever it is," I said, "the point is moot because as long as I'm on these pills, I can't make contact to ask."Derek ... snapped, "Then you need to stop taking the pills."Love to. If I could. But after what happened last night, they're giving me urine tests now."Ugh. That's harsh." Simon went quiet, then snapped his fingers.Hey, I've got an idea. It's kinda gross, but what if you take the pills, crush them and mix them with your, you know, urine."Derek stared at him.What?"You did pass chem last year, didn't you?"Simon flipped him the finger. "Okay, genius, what's your idea?"I'll think about it. ..."***Here," Derek whispered, pressing an empty Mason jar into my hand. He'd pulled me aside after class and we were now standing at the base of the boy's staircase. "Take this up to your room and hide it."It's a ... jar."He grunted, exasperated that I was so dense I failed to see the critical importance of hiding an empty Mason jar in my room.It's for your urine."My what?"He rolled his eyes, a growl-like sound sliding through his teeth ashe leaned down, closer to my ear. "Urine. Pee. Whatever. For the testing."I lifted the jar to eye level. "I think they'll give me somethingsmaller."...You took your meds today, right?" he whispered.I nodded.Then use this jar to save it."Save . . . ?"Your urine. If you give them some of today's tomorrow, it'll seem like you're still taking your meds."You want me to . . . dole it out? Into specimen jars?"Got a better idea?"Um, no, but ..." I lifted the jar and stared into it.Oh, for God's sake. Save your piss. Don't save your piss. It's all the same to me."Simon peeked around the corner, brows lifted. "I was going to ask what you guys were doing, but hearing that, I think I'll pass.

-Kelley Armstrong

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You don’t know anyone at the party, so you don’t want to go. You don’t like cottage cheese, so you haven’t eaten it in years. This is your choice, of course, but don’t kid yourself: it’s also the flinch. Your personality is not set in stone. You may think a morning coffee is the most enjoyable thing in the world, but it’s really just a habit. Thirty days without it, and you would be fine. You think you have a soul mate, but in fact you could have had any number of spouses. You would have evolved differently, but been just as happy.You can change what you want about yourself at any time. You see yourself as someone who can’t write or play an instrument, who gives in to temptation or makes bad decisions, but that’s really not you. It’s not ingrained. It’s not your personality. Your personality is something else, something deeper than just preferences, and these details on the surface, you can change anytime you like.If it is useful to do so, you must abandon your identity and start again. Sometimes, it’s the only way.Set fire to your old self. It’s not needed here. It’s too busy shopping, gossiping about others, and watching days go by and asking why you haven’t gotten as far as you’d like. This old self will die and be forgotten by all but family, and replaced by someone who makes a difference.Your new self is not like that. Your new self is the Great Chicago Fire—overwhelming, overpowering, and destroying everything that isn’t necessary.

-Julien Smith

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I have learned in life to be happy regardless of life circumstancesI have learned in life to be humble in greatnessI have learned in life to respect everyone and not to look down upon othersI have learned in life that time changes; the weak can be strong and the strong can be the weakI have learned in life that a single day to wake up after a night sleep in good strength is the richest day in lifeI have learned in life that words can be a blessing and a curseI have learned in life to be content but not to be a mediocreI have learned in life to take my time but be poised to dareI have learned in life that the river we use is the river that can use usI have learned in life that the rich are rich because the poor are poor I have learned in life that regardless of how rich you are, you need free air to live freelyI have learned in life that taking the lead doesn't mean being the championI have learned in life that every one is a prey to someoneI have learned in life that we all do answer the same life questionsI have learned in life that when you skip one life question, you will answer another life questionI have learned in life that the old can be the young and the young can be the oldI have learned in life that what you spend is what someone receivesI have learned in life that problems are there because people have created themI have learned in life that the seeds we sow are the fruits we eatI have learned in life that the same things that amuses us are the same things that can annoy usI have learned in life that today is tomorrow and tomorrow is todayI have learned in life to be simple but complexI have learned in life that hard work without wisdom is an effort in futilityI have learned in life that the tongues that hail are the tongues that abuseI have learned in life that prayer and faith can work greatly without great worksI have learned in life that the end is much more important than the beginning I have learned in life to ponder to wonder

-Ernest Agyemang

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Life has always seemed to me like a restaurant,' said Peter. 'When you’re born, you come in and sit down...''Oh, my God,' said Brenda.'...and they show you the menu,' went on Peter, frowning at Brenda. 'And it’s a swell menu. It’s got everything on it. And they tell you that you can have anything you want, the rarest and tastiest and most wonderful dishes imaginable.''Who’s they?' asked Brenda.'They is a sort of waiter-cum-proprietor,' said Peter, 'and he represents organized society in the parable.''It’s a parable, is it?''Yes. So you study the menu and you pick out the dishes that appeal to you most. Some people pick more exotic viands than others, but everybody picks out something he thinks is swell and the waiter-cum-proprietor pats him on the back and says it’s an excellent choice. And you sit back and wait to be served. That represents the period of adolescence. ... Damn it, where was I?''You were adolescent.''So you sit and wait to be served your fondly chosen dish,' resumed Peter, 'and pretty soon the waiter comes in and what does he bring you? He brings you hash! "Hey," you say, "this isn’t what I ordered." "Oh isn’t it?" says the waiter who is no longer friendly. "Well, it’s what you’re gonna get." Now this is the important part. Some people meekly eat their hash. Some drown it with catsup and try to enjoy it.''I get it,' said Brenda. 'Those are the drunks.''But there are a few who say, "Goddamn it, I didn’t order hash and I don’t want hash and I won’t eat hash." They get out of their chairs and the waiter tries to push them back, but they say, "Get out of my way, who the hell are you?" And they fight their way into the kitchen while the waiter hollers and protests and there they find mountains and mountains of hash. But they keep looking around and pretty soon in odd corners of the kitchen they find the dishes they ordered, the rare and costly viands they had their hearts set on. And they eat ’em and they enjoy ’em and then they go out of the restaurant the same as the hash eaters do, but boy, they’ve dined!'He threw down his cigarette and stamped on it. 'That’s all,' he said. 'Thank you for your attention.''Who pays the bill?' asked George with interest.'I don’t know,' said Peter irritably. 'That would complicate the parable to the point of chaos.''Who did you say the waiter was?' asked George. 'Organized society?''That’s right. A pale flabby guy with a walrus mustache.''I don’t quite see it,' said George.'I do,' said Harriet, sitting up on the day bed. 'I see it. It’s beautiful.''It isn’t so bad at that,' said Brenda.'You’re damn right it’s not.

-Jack Iams

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I dont believe in God. Can you understand that? Look around you man. Cant you see? The clamour and din of those in torment has to be the sound most pleasing to his ear. And I loathe these discussions. The argument of the village atheist whose single passion is to revile endlessly that which he denies the existence of in the first place. Your fellowship is a fellowship of pain and nothing more. And if that pain were actually collective instead of simply reiterative then the sheer weight of it would drag the world from the walls of the universe and send it crashing and burning through whatever night it might yet be capable of engendering until it was not even ash. And justice? Brotherhood? Eternal life? Good god, man. Show me a religion that prepares one for death. For nothingness. There's a church I might enter. Yours prepares one only for more life. For dreams and illusions and lies. If you could banish the fear of death from men's hearts they wouldnt live a day. Who would want this nightmare if not for fear of the next? The shadow of the axe hangs over every joy. Every road ends in death. Or worse. Every friendship. Every love. Torment, betrayal, loss, suffering, pain, age, indignity, and hideous lingering illness. All with a single conclusion. For you and for every one and every thing that you have chosen to care for. There's the true brotherhood. The true fellowship. And everyone is a member for life. You tell me that my brother is my salvation? My salvation? Well then damn him. Damn him in every shape and form and guise. Do I see myself in him? Yes, I do. And what I see sickens me. Do you understand me? Can you understand me?

-Cormac McCarthy

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