Thursday, July 10, 2008

Dear Santa


Dear Santa

I know it's kind of early, being July and all...but what can I say? I just wanted to write, and I figured this way, my letter wouldn't be competing with all the others you start getting in November.

I guess I should apologize for not having written since I was five. I still remember that Christmas, by the way: the sounds and smells and lights, the view of Tipperary Park through the front window across Queen's Avenue in New Westminster, the snow that fell on Christmas Eve...I got an Ernie puppet, and a hockey goalie chest protector, and a cool little battery-powered tower which dropped steel balls on to drums, and they would bounce in a particular pattern, and then fall into a funnel and go back again to the tower. They don't seem to have toys like that anymore. And of course, my fave of all: "Chip Away", the little block of white plastic that you could chip at, to reveal some dinosaur, which you could then paint.

And that night, before bed, my dad and my uncle told me that if we left out milk, cookies and apples, you and your reindeer would eat them. And sure enough, when I woke in the morning, the milk had been drunk, the cookies reduced to a few crumbs, and the apples had big bites taken out. It was a thrill picking up those apples - they were my link to you. So cool!

Anyway, instead of getting all nostalgic, I guess I should get to my list for this year. My problem is that there's a lot I want, but since I now know that you're not real, I feel kind of stupid asking for them. The other problem is that all sorts of people may read this, and basically, everything I want is extremely personal. Maybe I can just mention one or two things here, and send the rest in a private email later - to santa@thenorthpole.com - 'cause if you had an email address, I figure that's what it should be.

One thing I'd love is superior recovery time after workouts. See, I'm trying to get in shape so I can be a better rugby player, and I don't want to get into 'roids or anything. If you could just give me a serious boost here, just to get really cruising, that would be great.

A reason to live would be cool, too. I mean, I know I have the family and all, and that's great, but I mean, one outside the family. Maybe if you could get me rolling with a few local friends, that would help.

Last thing I can mention broadly here is...well, let's say things have been quite volatile in some areas of life over the past few years; but what I really need now, is deep, lasting peace and understanding in my life. I need that. I think I need that even more than I need to improve my rugby skills.

Maybe it doesn't make sense, but I don't have a whole lot of options other than to ask you for whatever you can do, even though you don't exist, and I know that.

Looking forward to Christmas 2008,

Talmage

22 comments:

frizzlefry said...

Other than the rugby, I'm totally with you on the wishes. Let me know if Santa comes through for you. Because let's be honest, none of my other sources are really doing it for me. . . ifyouknowwhatimean.

Lewis said...

Tal, I so relate to that on so many levels. I hope to have a real response at a latter time but it will require some serious thought on my part.

Guinevere said...

Have you tried doing one of the activities in your area through http://www.meetup.com/ yet? It's a fun, free, way to meet people with similar interests.

Guinevere said...

Here's a Clickable link for meetup.com

Stacey Lau said...

lol..'roids. I think I'm even beyond asking Santa for the personal peace part (this makes me sound jaded)--best wishes on that one though.

smile said...

Wish I could give you some of mine--the peace, that is. I finally have enough in my life.

I recently read a really cool book called My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor. She has some neat ideas about personal peace. It's a quick read. Check it out.

elee said...

Peace, Tal. You really deserve it. I sincerely hope you find it.

Erin

Phil said...

Tal... it's Phil from Draper.

R U OK?

Anonymous said...

With respect Tal,here is the freedom you said you wanted when you left and fought against the Mormon church.Many of us that you influenced are now left without a reason to live also.
Perhaps we were too hasty to follow the anti Mormon frenzy and perhaps we fell for something that was not true.

Anonymous said...

Tal,
Regarding leaving your church...I never said it would be easy, I only said it would be worth it! LOL! Hang in there!

Anonymous said...

Hey,wasn't Jesus the first one to say that?Except it was for the opposite reason.
Give us a new album Tal.We miss you out there on the airwaves.Perhaps you could volunteer at schools or teach kids how to play guitar.You can do somuch to help people in your city.Perhaps you could teach the homeless how to play guitar for free,you know,once a week workshops.

T. C. R. said...

To Anonymous

I don't know ANYTHING about an "anti-Mormon frenzy"; and I certainly don't know anything about "following" one. I also don't know anything about leaving Mormonism because one wants "freedom". I don't even know what that's supposed to mean; and I can't believe that you are a former Mormon yourself, so similar do your comments sound to all the standard, stupid cliches repeated by still-believing Mormons.

Mormonism may be many things, even many good things, but *it is not what it claims to be*; and discovering that is not fun. But fun or not, at least for me it is not possible to "undiscover" that fact - so whether not being a Mormon is "fun" or not is totally irrelevant, isn't it? Someone might be *happier* believing in Mormon, or Scientology, or Moonie, fairy tales, about planets called Kolob and alien dictators named Xenu and anything else...but what? What does that have to do with whether the fairy tales are true or not, or with whether, once we grow up and discover there is no reason to believe them, we actually can still believe in them? I ask, is it possible for you right now to make yourself believe in Santa Claus? It's just not possible for any sane adult.

Being a devout religionist of any type has its challenges, and so does not being a devout religionist. Overall, I think I'd say that being a devout Mormon is quite a bit easier for certain types of people than not being one, since Mormonism purports to have the answers to all of life's profoundest questions, as well as offering direction down to the most minute details of how we ought to live (including how many earrings in an ear a woman may wear).

In my own case, I never had any particular desire to drink or do drugs or make pornography a part of my life or whatever; I never had any complaints about Mormon regulations and didn't find them particularly onerous. Mormonism was the most important thing in my life up until the moment it finally all clicked. It is actually much more of a challenge having to do the hard thinking about life choices and actions and beliefs. (Overall, too, I think I can say that is far more rewarding, spiritually). I feel silly every time I think about how I used to agree with the often-voiced feeling amongst Mormons that those who leave "only wanted the easy way out". How daft I was.

I think part of being a mature adult is having to acknowledge certain painful truths - about ourselves, about others, about the world - and then dealing with them as best we can. Some conscious choice to live inside a delusion would make us about the same as drug addicts.

Anyway, believing in fairy tales can be very fun and comforting; certainly it is easy to miss some of those magical moments, where we thought we knew all the big answers. But once you find out you don't know...what can you do but acknowledge it, and try to find meaning and joy in other ways?

Saying no to drug addiction,

T.

Su said...

As for feeling better after workouts, I can say that has never happened for me. I once asked a personal trainer exactly when I wouldn't hate working out---when that so called euphoria would kick in. He assured me that it happens, but I'm still waiting.

I think friendships are hard the older we get. When we were little, all it really took was the same lunchbox and it was bf's forever. Now, everyone has the same pressures you do---family, work, etc. And if you've left something as all pervasive as Mormonism (I left 20 years ago) where an individual is so completely defined by their religion and where friendships exist only until opposition of the church arises, it can be a daunting task to find your place outside of that. (I think you did an excellent job of addressing the ridiculousness of the anti-mormon fervor statement.)

And inner peace? Well, I'm not sure that comes entirely. Although I no longer write a blog, I still write and found myself asking similar questions. This is what I came up with:

"On one side, there is a sense of hopelessness at the thought that we are not living this life, for an afterlife---as so much of religion is just a death cult in disguise. But, on the other side there is an enormous amount of hope, because in each of us is the cumulation of millions of years of evolution. Wrapped in a double helix is everything that has come and in the combinations that are possible, everything that will come. And, as far as where we are right now, everything is connected and there is a tenuous balance. Religion will tell you that "the Lord will provide" but by the same token it will tell you that "the Lord helps those, who help themselves", and the double edged knife sinks in deeper.

What is the purpose? Well, for me it's to make the most of what I have now, not in a nihilsitc sense as I tumble head first into oblivion, but to be happy for what we have created, change what doesn't work, preserve what does work and constantly learn. I think it is more frightening to live a life of unconscious actions--a bullet ricocheting--than to learn what I can and at the end realise I didn't know it all, nor could I."

SF

Anonymous said...

.I left the Mormon church four years ago and I get what Anon is trying to say.We just assume that all the books that came out to "show JS and the Mormon church for what it really was" are telling the truth and not the product of spin doctors.Having said that I think that those of us who left should quit bitching and get on with the lives we have chosen.We will all find out when we die what was reality,so suck up and move on.If you have to keep defending your reason that you left every time someone brings up the subject,then you are wasting your time.Either go back and expect less than perfection in the Mormon church and yourself or quit bitching and whining.I miss a lot of things about the Mormon church.It wasn't all bad.

Tal said...

Anonymous

I don't really understand posts like yours. I don't hear anyone "bitching" about life after belonging to a quasi-cult like Mormonism; it is that it takes time to make new friends, understand yourself in entirely new terms, etc. It has challenges, and some people have a tougher time than others.

Your post also both assumes that "people leave Mormonism because they have complaints about it", and also that it is quite unclear whether Mormonism's founder told the truth or not.

But, as I said above, I certainly didn't leave Mormonism because I had "complaints" about it, and none of the people I am closest to who have left, left for that reason - so comments like yours strike me as really missing the point.

They left because it is not what it claims; that is, it is like Scientology or Moonie-ism or communism. In particular, the sun is not "borrowing" its light from a planet called "Kolob", the Breathing Permit of Hor does NOT tell the story of an Israelite patriarch named Abraham, and we didn't all descend from two caucasians living in Missouri a mere six thousand years ago: Smith's stories aren't true, and his religion is not what it claims. I don't think it is the case that we have to wait until an afterlife to know those things; they are very knowable right now.

In my mind, there are two issues which are frequently confused: the utility of Mormonism for particular folks, and the veracity (or lack thereof) of foundational Mormon claims.

I am sure it is true that Mormonism has proven extremely beneficial to certain people. One I know was a full-blown druggie, joined the church, and then lived a responsible, productive life. Being a believing Mormon seemed to hold him in check.

But that certain lifestyles based on ideologies "work" for people, tells us nothing about how true those ideologies might be. It is perfectly possible to improve our behaviour when we think that Santa is watching us and keeping track of our good and bad deeds; but this does not support the claim that Santa is real, does it?

I'm not sure why so many people fail to grasp this: after all, the whole point of lying is to manipulate people into doing or feeling something they wouldn't otherwise do or feel, if they knew the truth. And obviously, lies are very often effective (that's why they're so popular).

So that Mormonism - or Scientology, or a million other things - is beneficial according to some criteria for certain folks while being untrue (or maybe, precisely BECAUSE they are untrue), should be a very easy thing to accept.

Pali Mama said...

Tal,

It is good to read some of your thoughts again. I want you to know that your family really is enough to live for. In the end they are all that really matters.

I know. My son just passed away last week and now everything else seems so trivial. I want to go back in time and love him even more the second time around. But, I can't do that now.

Go, hold each of your kids close and show them your true love. Hold your wife and let her know how much she means to you. Live for them.

With them you will find your peace.

Pali Mama

Lily said...

Tal,

It sounds like you are experiencing a “culture shock” and “middle life crisis”, although it is perhaps a bit too early for you for the latter.

I had a tremendous culture shock nearly 20 years ago when I moved to Canada from a far-east communist country. Everything was so very different that I felt like abandoning all that I was used to so that I could start “right” and be able to fit in. Of course, on top of that I also had the language barrier. It was not easy for the first several years, and I still feel different from others sometimes. The book “Brain and Culture” by Bruce E. Wexler provides sound theory for why it is so difficult for adults to adjust to a new culture.

I also had a time wanting to know a reason to live, when I approached to my 40th birthday. I called that my “middle life crisis”. I got over with it by finding time just for me, to read, to go to the gym, to take a college course, or to go out with my friend although rarely for the last one. As much as I need to spend time with my family, and I do that a lot, I need my own time and space to keep my identify and sanity. Because I am either at work or doing things with my kids, most of my new friends are either my colleagues or my children’s parents. These friends are somewhat different from those friends made in college or graduate school, but I do enjoy spending time with them.

So Tal, perhaps you just need some more “Tal-time”. You probably have been too busy being a devoted father and husband but have had little time just for yourself. Another factor that has perhaps made it more difficult for you to adjust to life after leaving the church may be that you probably do not “go to work” everyday so you don’t really “belong” to a certain group of people outside your family. Have you considered a part-time job, like teaching in a college or a music school?

Hope your wishes come true.

Stacey Lau said...

Wow, maybe I misunderstood the tone of the post. I thought that this was a light and clever (with a bit of serious built in) letter to Santa. I don't think it means a mid-life crisis or calls for psychoanalysis or suggestions for hobbies. Don't we all question our lives from time to time? If we're being honest...

Anonymous said...

Karen said--

The fellow translators in the field of Robert K.Ritman say his desire to attack the Mormon church make his translation "unscholarly" and that he is certainly not the be all and end all of knowledge on this papyrus subject.

Anonymous said...

I recently started reading History of the Church as it is often quoted to show how Jospeh Smith was not the prophet people thought he was but I have found that People in Christ's day were doing the same thing and writing books etc. to blacken the names of the Apostles and change and deceive many people.I suggest that all who have relied upon quotes from the History of the Church to validate their doubts about JS read the entire works and see if you feel,as I do that we have been duped by "intellectuals",or rather people who,like in the time of the 12 Apostles, were calling themselves Christians,but "more intellectual Christians" who felt the need to set the "other,less educated Christians" straight.Don't even bother to comment unless you have read the entire History of the Church as you are just being manipulated by what you have been told to believe by the writers of recent books.

rachael said...

Pali Mama,

I am SO sorry to hear about your son.

warm thoughts to you

rach

Anonymous said...

I just read this Tal. I hope you will be feeling more hopeful very soon.