Alternative Release

Exhausted, James leaned back in his chair and stared at his computer. The open word document had a few sentences at the top, but nothing more. The words weren't flowing today. His inspiration had run dry. Or rather, he had plenty of inspiration. He just didn't know how to let it out.
“Live this,” he said, and stood to leave the room. It was a common phrase he used when nobody else was around. A few people had overheard him before, but nobody seemed to have figured out the meaning. It was just as well that they didn't.
Abandoning his project for the moment, he stepped outside. He shivered momentarily, but then began walking. He strolled down the street, smiling and nodding when he passed people, and arrived at the park. Finding an unoccupied bench, he sat and waited. Sure enough, a few minutes later, someone came to sit next to him. They chatted pleasantly for half an hour about this and that, and then went their separate ways. James went back to his house and flopped back into his chair, the same as every day. He glanced at the knife sitting on his desk and let his gaze linger for a moment.
“Still too easy,” he finally said. “Not my place to decide that I deserve it.” Turning back to his computer, he began to type.

The Tree

The tree was everything. It was where we lived, where we played, where we worked, and where we died. It was where we were born, where we hunted, where we loved, and where we prayed. It was extensive. I wouldn't describe it as without end. We had explored beyond the tree. We could go down the surface, or we could reach the furthest ends of its branches, where they rested on the tops of the other trees in the forest, but we could never choose to live there. The branches of the tree were big enough to provide for our entire city and more. When branches fell, we went to the surface to gather them and use them. Each branch was so enormous, it could easily provide for months. If we were desperate, we could cut down a small tree from the forest below, but that hardly ever happened. The tree was our home, and as much as possible, we preferred to allow it to nourish us. The fields to the north and the mountains to the south, while beautiful in their own way, weren't home. This was the opinion of the elders, and their elders before them, and their elders before them. If I'm honest, it was my opinion as well. I'd been on a trip to see the mountains, once, and they were quite the sight to behold, but they didn't quite match our tree. Someday I planned on seeing the northern plains, but I was sure it would be a similar case.
This wasn't the opinion of everyone. While our woodworking was beautiful and intricate, some longed for more. They gave speeches of the metals and ores in the mountains. They claimed that these could provide sturdier structures, could be combined with our woodworking for new sorts of beauty, and could allow us to have conveniences never before dreamed of. They claimed that fire would become more easily contained, and less dangerous.
We didn't really take them seriously. There was no need to. They were talking about the things of fiction- things which would never come to be. Eventually, a fairly large group of them set out to the mountains, claiming that they'd be back with all the metal they could carry to show us how useful it was. Nobody cared. We weren't sad to see them go, or angry, or happy. It was their choice. It wasn't the safest idea in the world, but not really the most dangerous either. They'd come back eventually, we were sure.
And they did. Several months later, they arrived with new tools and equipment, and heaps of metal ore which they claimed could be melted and molded into any shape we wanted. That was when the city split. Some were all in favor of giving it a try, while others wanted nothing to do with it. I was included in the latter. Our tree provided for us. When branches fell, they grew back, ever nourishing us and giving anything we needed. The metal in the ground would run out. It was unreliable. Their methods for molding it, when not properly executed, were dangerous. And they ignored our tree, our woodworking, our elders, our history, and our tools. They wanted to use pieces of metal for bracing on our houses. They wanted to build fire pits in common gathering pits, and little metal cages on our torches. It was too much. They couldn't be allowed to destroy our home. So we took our torches, our most dangerous weapons, and surrounded their workshop. They wouldn't be allowed to persist. Their actions affected us all. Metal must be banned. They tried to hide inside their workshop like the cowards they were, but it didn't matter. We would get to them eventually.
And then someone threw their torch. It landed on the roof of their workshop. Their metal roof turned red, but didn't burn. The leaves above it did. It was mere seconds before the entire canopy above our heads was ablaze. Our squad of firefighters tried to put it out, but were unable. And the tree was abandoned.
Some refused to flee. We assume that they died in the flames. The rest of us went down to the forest floor, and went north. We ran, scattered, until we reached the plains, and could do nothing but stare and sob as the forest burned.
Years passed. We now live on the plains, in houses made of the very metal that destroyed us. We hate it, and we remember. But one day, we will plant the forest again. Though the miners may try to stop us, they will be unable to keep us from reclaiming our home.

A Record of War

Everyone thought the war would be over quickly. How wrong we all were. A few months spent to unify the country by force, was the reasoning. A split along the political lines. The first raids seemed decisive, but in the face of a one-sided slaughter, those who previously had called themselves pacifists took up arms and fought back. One side had numbers, the other had strength and experience. One side had publicity. The other had truth.
This phrasing may make it seem as though I was part of the war. I was, and I wasn't. When I heard of the first raids starting out east, I was opposed. I voiced my opposition, but it wasn't long before the raids had started in the west as well. I tried to warn my neighbors, but they called me a conspiracy theorist, trying to spread lies and terror. I escaped alone right before my own party razed the whole area to the ground. With nowhere to go, I fled west. My party had already taken control there, and raids were less common. I say “my party.” It was no longer my party at heart. It was my party by registration, for the sake of safety. But it was obvious who was right! My party, 85% of the time, was correct in their political views. That wasn't my opinion. That was math. It could be demonstrated on a piece of paper, or in the course of a single conversation. The other side, however, was so convinced that they were right that they refused to listen. They held firm to their baseless beliefs.
It sounds now as though I supported my own party's actions. Again, this was not the case. While my party had the correct views regarding economics and politics, they had no heart. They were filled with anger, rage, and hatred. Those who had gathered in the west were... Well, they hated in their own sense. They certainly hated us, just as the east hated them. But it was different. Those in the east were fueled not by a desire for truth, but out of greed and carelessness. Those in the west, on the other hand, allowed their love and good intentions to blind them from the true solutions. Everyone had very similar goals, but nobody was willing to work together. Those in power would do anything to stay where they were, and as the masses grew in their hatred for eachother... Well, the war was inevitable.
There were times when war was necessary. Times in history, I mean. To fight for justice, or for defense. This was not one of those times. This was a war of pure hatred- a desire to exterminate those they opposed. And the oppression has only grown.
When the war began, those who took no sides were tolerated, if only barely. But two years ago, it was announced that anyone not registered with our party would be considered an enemy. Some registered with one party or another out of desperation. Many fled the country- or rather, they tried to flee. Most who made the attempt were killed. But that wasn't enough. Two months ago, it was determined that anyone who wasn't a “true” member of our party was due to be imprisoned or exterminated. I have never expressed anti-west sentiment, and was originally from there. I'm on the list. Even as I record this now, I know they're coming. I have a friend in the higher departments who warned me. For the sake of the friendship we once had, he warned me, at his risk, but couldn't do any more. So I record this now in hopes that it isn't found and destroyed. Who knows what records may show in the future, but I need to send this now so there may be some form of record of what happened. This can't ever happen again in the future. And now they're pounding on my door...

Doppelganger's Death

I was the man who had all that I ever wanted. Admittedly, I didn't want much. But I had friends and family. I had a roof over my head. I had food and clean water. I had heat in the winter, and shade in the summer. I didn't live in a mansion with the latest technology, or have millions of dollars to spend at my whim, but I was comfortable. And because I was comfortable, I let my life waste away before my life. I did nothing important, because there was nothing that I desired to change.
Well, I suppose there was one thing. But I didn't really think about it much, because it wasn't really a big deal. The issue was my doppelganger. That's not quite the right term, but I'm not sure what else to call it. “Demon possession” is close, but that doesn't quite fit. There was a darkness living in me, but it wasn't an evil spirit. At least not directly. It was me, through and through, but it was my dark side. My shadow. But like I said, it wasn't a big deal. Everyone had one, and for the most part, I kept it hidden inside of me. Sure, it would come out every once in a while, but for the most part, I could keep it under control. When it did show itself, people were typically fairly okay with it- after all, everyone's doppelganger comes out from time to time. And it doesn't cause that much of a problem. It whispers in my ear sometimes. It teaches me good things. It keeps me happy. Besides, even if I wanted to get rid of it, there wasn't much I could do. People had tried before, and it never really seemed to work. So I, like everyone else, had learned to live with it. Nobody really minded anymore. It was just a part of life, and wishing that it were gone may as well be like wishing I could fly. It's never going to happen, so no point thinking about it. So I just kept it inside. I lived my life.
But one day a strange man came to town. He looked fairly normal, but everyone noticed him. This wasn't from any extravagance or difference on his part, but our doppelgangers warned us of him. “Dangerous,” mine whispered. “Stay away.” So I watched from a distance. My friends watched too; their doppelgangers had warned them as well. If the stranger noticed us, he gave no sign of it. He seemed normal. The only thing that we could even remotely think of was that he was very good at keeping his doppelganger inside, but that wasn't all that odd. Some people were better at keeping them inside than others. That night, we got together and discussed him. Our doppelgangers all came out and started whispering to us. It was a rare sight to see them all out at once, but after listening to what they had to say, it started to make sense. Sometimes they labeled him as “evil” or “seducer.” Other times, “killer” and “destroyer.” But they consistently agreed that he was very dangerous, and that we shouldn't even talk to him. Not quite understanding, but filled with a sense of caution, we each went home.
The next day, we watched him again. He was at a coffee shop, which meant that we were too. But that time, something different happened. One of my friends got up to go get another drink, and the stranger did at the same time. They met in line.
“Hey,” the stranger said. “I'm Jason.” My friend seemed unsure for a moment, then smiled and introduced himself. The line was moving in the other direction, so we couldn't hear their conversation, but by the time our friend got back with his drink, he wasn't smiling anymore.
“He claims that he doesn't have a doppelganger,” he said. We stared.
“Everyone has a doppelganger,” I responded.
“I know. But he says that he doesn't. He says that he killed it.”
We stared some more, and our doppelgangers came out and started whispering to us furiously. “Liar, killer, evil!My friends glared over at him. I glanced over at him as well. He smiled and nodded in our direction. I nodded back, still not entirely sure what was going on.
My friend wasn't done, though. “And he said that if I went over to visit him, he would show me how to kill my doppelganger, too! It's like he thinks I'm ashamed of it or something! It's like he's scared of his, and the only way to cope with it is to lie about not having one and tell people that they should get rid of theirs, too!” We turned back and stared at him again.
“Did he say where he's staying?” I asked.
Yes, but don't tell me you're thinking of visiting him!”
“It can't hurt to talk to him, right?”
My doppelganger whispered furiously in my ear while my friend looked at me nervously. “I mean... I guess not... But be careful, okay? I don't want you to get hurt.” I nodded, and my friend gave me the address.
The next day, I went to visit him. As I approached the door, my doppelganger came out. It was calmer this time. “You didn't call ahead of time. You've never met him. Visiting with no notice would be rude.
I hesitated. As usual, my doppelganger was right. I started to turn and go back home, when the door opened.
Hey!” said Jason. “I'm Jason. You were at the coffee shop yesterday, right?”
I shook his hand. “Yeah, I was. I think you talked to my friend in line. I'm Jacob.”
Jason smiled. “Nice to meet you, Jacob. Why don't you come in?” He turned and went in. It was a fairly well-lit room, and I sat in a chair across from Jason. “I imagine your friend was a bit suspicious of me, right?”
I nodded. “A bit. And I have to admit that I'm kind of curious as well. My friend said that you claim to have killed your doppelganger.”
That's correct.”
I paused. “...I'm not quite sure where to start. I guess the first thing to ask would be, why?”
That's a long story,” Jason replied. “...I suppose one way to put it would be that... No, that isn't quite right... It's that... There's Someone Who wants to meet you, Who wanted to meet me, Who wants to meet us all. But we can't, until we get rid of our doppelgangers.”
I looked at him skeptically. “That's not really possible.”
“What isn't? Getting rid of your doppelganger?”
“That too, but I mean, that there's Someone Who hasn't met me, Who knows nothing about me, and still loves me like that. It sounds more like a scam.”
A scam? In what way?”
“Let's assume that I accept the existence of this Person. If they really loved me, why would they want to take away my doppelganger? It's really useful. And the idea that I can't meet that Person as long as I have it just sounds really suspicious.”
“Why would someone want to cause harm to someone they'd never met? Assuming, of course, that your doppelganger really is good for you.”
“I don't know... Maybe they want to be the most powerful person by being the only one with a doppelganger? And to do that, they have to get rid of everybody else's.”
In that case, it looks like the real question is this: is your doppelganger really all that good for you?”
I looked at him, confused, and paused. “Of course,” I answered after a moment.
Jason smiled. “If that's true, then why do you keep it hidden? Why not let it out all the time?”
“It would... It could cause trouble if I didn't keep it reigned in from time to time.”
“But I thought you said it was good.”
“It is. It teaches me things, reminds me of things...”
“But how can it be both good and evil?”
“It... It isn't. It's like a pet dog, or something. A dog might be nice, but you have to take care of it still.”
“You don't know the mind of a dog, though. A dog doesn't teach you things. How do you know that the things your doppelganger teaches you are really good?”
“It's just... It's just common sense! It tells me things about right and wrong that I might not have thought about before, or that I might have not realized something about!”
Jason took a breath, smiled, and spoke quietly. “If your doppelganger says one thing, and somebody else's says something different, whose is right?”
I stood up. “I have an appointment that I need to get to, so we'll have to finish this conversation some other time. It was nice talking to you.”
Jason stood up and walked me to the door. “You're welcome to come back any time,” he said, and handed me a business card. “I'm here on business, but that's my cell phone number on the card. You can use it to get ahold of me if you want.”
I nodded and smiled slightly, then turned and left.
That night, I discussed Jason with my friends again and told them what had happened. They were visibly relieved that I was okay, and started putting Jason down fairly harshly in the conversation that followed. I listened, but didn't say anything. My doppelganger was a bit annoying, sometimes... Why was it that we hid them? That we acknowledged them, but didn't want to talk about them? And if our doppelgangers disagreed... I thought for a minute, letting my friends rant in the background, then asked them a question. “Hey, have your doppelgangers ever told you anything about how far it's okay to go with your girlfriend before you're married?”
My friends turned to look at me, a bit confused. One of them smiled a little and answered. “Kissing is okay, but nothing further than that. Everyone knows that.”
The other looked at him. “What are you talking about? As long as it's consensual and legal, and you're enjoying yourselves, why not just do whatever you want?”
“Look, he asked about our doppelgangers, not us. That may be your opinion, but my doppelganger says just kissing.”
I know he asked about our doppelgangers. That's what I was talking about. Seriously, why would kissing be okay but nothing else? If that's what your doppelganger thinks, then it's an idiot. And you're an idiot for believing it.”
I watched as their argument got more heated, and then stopped listening as I realized that their doppelgangers were whispering in their ears. Surely, their doppelgangers are telling them to calm down, I thought. They'll listen to them, and this'll all be over soon. But then I noticed, my friends were nodding! They were listening to their doppelgangers. They were doing exactly as they were being told, and they were being told to fight. I watched them fight until they eventually got up and went home.
The next day, I called Jason and arranged to meet him at the park in the afternoon. I mentioned it to my friends later when I saw them. They were visibly nervous, but didn't say anything about it.
I met Jason under a tree. He had a bag with him.
“Hey,” he said. “I'm glad you called me. Did you think any more about our conversation?”
“Yeah,” I said. “I'm... not really sure what to think about it, but... Let's say I assume that the doppelganger is evil. If we also assume that you really have killed yours, are you trying to say that you're perfect?”
“No, of course not,” he said. “My doppelganger whispered to me just as much as anyone's does. I learned its lessons, and I'm still unlearning them. But it is gone.”
“...Hypothetically, how would I get rid of it?”
You have to kill it with this,” he said. He took a bundle out of his bag and unwrapped it. It was a dagger. The blade was pure white, and the handle was red like blood. “This is a gift,” he said, “from that Person.”
I took the dagger. “So, that Person gave you this, and you attacked your doppelganger with it?”
“No, I have one like it.” He took out an identical dagger. “That one is for you. I'm just passing it on. And you don't attack your doppelganger. The doppelganger is inside of you, and from you. You have to plunge that dagger into your chest.”
I stared at him. “You want me to what?
“You have to die to yourself. I die daily, and my doppelganger has no more power in my life.”
I continued staring.
“Yeah, I know. But the alternative is to go on living with that thing. You've seen what it does, right?”
I nodded slowly and wrapped my hand around the dagger. “I just... stab myself?”
Jason nodded. I turned the dagger towards myself, when my friends came racing towards me. “Stop!” one of them shouted.
The other called to Jason, “What did you tell him?! Get away from him!”
“I told him the truth,” Jason said.
My friends' doppelgangers came out and began whispering furiously. One of my friends was shouting angrily at Jason, the other at me, with tears streaming down his face. “You can't become like him! He's trying to take you away, but it'll kill you! Even if it worked, you'd lose everything! Put down the knife!”
A tear rolled down my cheek, but I pressed the tip of my dagger against my chest anyway. My friends shouted louder, and I plunged it into my chest. I cried out in pain and fell to my knees, but my cries were nothing compared to the shrieks coming from my doppelganger. I could feel it writhing inside me and shriveling under the dagger's light, until finally, it was gone. I pulled out the dagger, but found no wound on my chest. I stood and looked around, not quite comprehending what had happened. My friends were staring at me. One of them walked over, slapped me, and stormed off. The other started crying, and then he turned to leave as well. I turned to Jason, who immediately hugged me, and I knew that my life was never going to be the same.

The Gray Rainbow

The sky is black, the stars are white; the clouds are shades of gray.
I look upon the rainbow now and see its color display.
Black and white are all around, these are the colors I see.
As the ninja, and as the angel: both are akin to me.
“Display your colors,” I hear friends say, “and let your beauty show!”
So out I tread, into the world, with all the color I know.

As the ninja and as the rainbow, I am a deep dark black.
I hide in shadows and sneak about, and creep up behind your back.
“The boy in the shadows,” I hear them say, “why is he so dark?”
I look at the sky and rainbow, and wonder what they are.
My friends sought color, but is black not what they desired?
But I am not deterred; instead I am inspired.

As the angel and as the rainbow, I am shining white.
I fly forth, brilliant, and give to all my light.
“Now he's plain,” I hear them say, “why does he not shine?”
“What do you mean,” I ask my friends, “what's wrong with this light of mine?”
I look at the stars and rainbow, and see their color bright.
My friends sought color, and even more, I gave them also light.
The black and white is all I see, but my friends mock me so.
The sky, the stars, they do not care, nor the bright rainbow.

As the clouds I am now gray, for I have no color left.
My friends hate black, my friends hate white, so of color I am bereft.
They say I have no color; they say I have no hue.
They say the rainbow isn't black, but how can this be true?
I see the sky, I see the stars, I see their color bright.
I see the black, I see the gray, and I see the white.
“We want orange and we want red, we want yellow too.”
“We want purple, we want green, and we want bright blue.”
They speak strange words that I don't know, words that make no sense.
They ask for colors I've not seen, and the pressure makes me tense.

And so I sit upon my cloud, matching its gray hue.
I sit and wail in my sadness; I am sad and I am... blue?
The rain bursts forth from clouds and face.
My tears burst forth as if in race.
The rainbow changes before my eyes, to carry color grand.
The radiance shines before me now, as if it all was planned.
The sky is black, the stars are white; the clouds are shades of gray.
I look upon the rainbow now and see its color display.

The water is blue, the fire is red, the sands are... is that brown?
The yellow sun, the purple plum, colors all around.
I see the sky, I see the stars, and I see the clouds.
Still they're black and white and gray, though not covered by a shroud.

I see the colors all around, but still there's black and white.
The shining angels that can fly, and ninjas like the night.
I add the colors to my show, and let them still be mine.
I use the black and use the white to let my colors shine.
As the ninja, I am once more, with my blood-red belt.
I still stick to the shadows, but with colors I'd never felt.
As the angel, I am once more, with my sea-blue sash.
I still soar high above the treetops, and no longer feel as ash.

On the ground I mix my colors and turn them all to black.
Indeed this is every color; there's not one it lacks.
In the light I mix my colors and turn them all to white.
Every color is certainly here, and it's quite a sight.
The sky is black, the stars are white; the clouds are shades of gray.
I look upon the rainbow now and see its color display.

By His Strength

Having been formed, I walked. My path was twisted and strange, but I continued onward, for I knew not where else to turn. And as I walked, I came in the course of time upon a forest, and I entered, for this was where my path led. Looking to the side, I found a mirror, and thinking it strange to see such an object out in these untamed lands, I turned aside to see it. Gazing upon my reflection, I saw the filth of my journey. I had walked for long, not stopping to bathe or cleanse myself. For though I had tried once or twice before, I was unable to make myself clean. So I had ceased mine efforts and had continued walking, gathering ever more dust and grime as I did. I looked into the mirror, and spake, “filthy.” As I did so, the word came forth from my mouth as a dagger, hitting the glass and being reflected. It came back to hit me in the side, and it drew blood. I knew then what the mirror was for, and I knew what must be done. “Disgusting, wretched!” Knives flew once more, and again, they struck me. Knowing that it was no more than I deserved, I prepared myself again, but heard a voice.
“Follow Me.” I turned and found a Man, Whom I knew not. “I will make you new,” said He. “Will you follow Me?”
“I will,” responded I, and He smiled upon me. Turning to the mirror, expecting to see another form, I was pained to see only myself, and lashed out at the image. “Worthless! Damaged, terrible, vile!” My words shot forth and hit the mirror, but I watched in horror as they did not reflect upon myself, but upon the Man Whom I had met. Nails, my words did form, which shot at Him and pinned Him to a tree, which He resisted not. A crowns of thorns, my words formed also, which was put upon His head. I collapsed on the ground, helpless to do anything but watch, as the words I had uttered beat Him and bruised Him. Finally, as He hung on the tree, He spoke.
“It is finished,” said He, and gave up his life. Tears ran down my face at the atrocity of what I had done. I felt unworthy, but as nobody else was near, I felt it my duty to bury Him. I brought Him down and did so, then curled myself up to die. I neither ate nor drank, wasting away as there was naught left for me.
Three days, I did lie, waiting for death to greet me, but when at last I prepared to give up my spirit, I heard once more the voice of before. Only once had I heard this voice as yet, but I remembered it well. In surprise, I looked, and beheld the Man Whom I had slain.
“Follow Me,” He said. “I will make you new. Will you follow Me?” As fresh tears ran down my face, I looked once more into the mirror. What I beheld was not what I had once known, but was a form that was clean and pure. I looked down at myself, and again into the glass, and did not understand, for while I knew what had changed, I yet was the same. Still, I was one who was disgusting and vile, and yet I was new, and I could not comprehend. That I was not worthy or deserving was all I could know.
“Guide me,” I answered, “and I will follow You.”
He embraced me, and I wept, and when I was released, He spake and said, “the path is not an easy one. But I will be there.” I turned, and behold, my path was changing before mine eyes, to no longer be twisted. And I walked. I felt pain, and sorrow. And yet, as I walked, I remembered the One Who had sent me. As I met others upon the road, I spread to them the gift that had been given to me. And by His strength, I lived.

Why I've Stopped Writing

"Strong minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, weak minds discuss people."
Late in January 2015, I started a blog. Late in May of the following year, I made my final post. Well, not my final post. And I didn't realize that it would be my last post, either. I just sort of dropped off the face of the internet. Why did I stop writing? Will I ever start again? This is obviously a post right now... Is this announcing the end? A new beginning? There is no simple answer to any of that. Fortunately, I and my blog thrive on analysis. So, as is my custom, I'll be breaking down the reasoning behind my disappearance, and what it means for the future.

There are a number of reasons I could cite for why I stopped writing, but I can really sum it up with two reasons- the practical reason, and the philosophical reason. The thing that kept me from writing, and the thing that made me decide that that was okay. I'll begin with the practical reasoning: I didn't get around to it. I ran out of time. I started a project for my blog that was a little too ambitious. I had recently become involved in anime. I'm a big fan of stories in general, and anime is no exception. And, as it turned out, I had a number of parents coming to me for my thoughts on the matter. "My child wants to watch anime, but I don't know anything about it. Which anime is appropriate? How can you tell what an anime will be like? Is all anime bad?" My idea, then, was to write a blog post about this. Better yet, I wanted to provide content reviews for every anime I've seen. ...This project was a bit bigger than I'd anticipated. Because many anime are very short, it's feasible to watch a lot more anime than you could of American shows. Rather than just waiting an extra week or two, this project took me... Well, I'm still working on it. I tried to make progress on that all summer. Sometimes it worked. But once school started up and I began learning Japanese, I had less time for writing. In November, I started working at Chick-fil-A, and had even less time for writing than before. (If you're one of my friends from Chick-fil-A, you probably didn't even know I had a blog. Heh... Hi. Nice to see you here. :P)

That was the practical reasoning. And technically, that still applies. But there was more than that. My blog was started on a foundation of logic. I wanted to systematically walk through each topic such that only facts were presented here. Maybe that actually happened sometimes. But when I was thinking about getting back into my blog, we were still in late 2016. There was a little election that happened around then. You may have heard of it. I was watching what was happening. Do you know what was happening? Shouting. From everyone, on all sides. Nobody realized that they were part of the problem, of course. "I'm not arguing, I'm explaining why I'm right." I watched people I disagreed with explain why they were right, and they didn't convince me. They didn't even address the issues. They were morons. They thought they knew what the key points in the debate were, but clearly they didn't. People were posting on Facebook about this argument or that, and people who agreed with them already would press the like button, but not once did I find someone who posted something that convinced me. Not because it was the internet, but because, as I said, they simply didn't address the issues. I, on the other hand. I addressed the issues. I discussed things properly. That's why... That's why people who already agree with me like my posts. That's why so many people are convinced. That's why my blog has never been wrong. I certainly wasn't wrong when I predicted that there was no possible way for Donald Trump to win a general election. After all, my blog is founded on fact, logic, and reason.

Yeah. Everyone was shouting on their own little corner of the internet, convincing nobody, and I was part of the problem. Did my views change? No, not really. I still think that discussion and reasonable debate are very good and important things. I still think that the internet can be one way to engage in those debates. I still think that logic and reason are important for working through problems and figuring things out. But how much of my blog was truely based on logic, and how much was just my own opinion? I don't know. I really have absolutely no idea. So I'm listening now. I want to be sure that I'm addressing things properly, which means I have to understand what both sides think the issues are. Will I agree with everything I hear? Absolutely not. But in listening more often, it will allow my speech to become more valuable. It will allow me to keep learning. I won't be listening instead of speaking, because if nobody talked, there would be nothing to listen to. But I'm taking a step back, so I can be sure that I'm understanding before I try to teach.

What does this mean for my blog? Inactivity? Is this a formal announcement of my hiatus? Or of my return? No to both. I haven't been writing enough lately. I'm trying to write again. So what I've decided is to run my blog on a less strict schedule, and with somewhat different content. If I have something to say, I'll say it, but more commonly, I'll be posting my stories here. I've challenged myself to write one short story or poem a week. It might not always happen. After all, I'm a full time student with a part time job. Unlike before, when I posted on Tuesdays, I won't have a particular day anymore that I update. (If I do end up getting something written that week, it may be on Saturday or Sunday, since I tend to put things off, but there's no guarantee of that.) I also won't be spending time editing my stories. No time for that. You'll be getting my first draft. I do like for my stories to mean something, so there is that, but I have no idea if they are or will be any good. If you preferred my blog the way it was before, you're under no obligation to stay. If you prefer the change, you're welcome to stay. You have my apologies, but this is what I'm able to handle right now, and what I think will be best for the time being. (My old posts will stay up, of course, if you're interested in them for some reason.) As for the stories I've written previously, I'll probably just post them all at once right now to make up for my long inactivity. (Or to torture you with bad writing, depending on how you look at it.) After that, I'll post when I have something, but won't push myself to post when I don't.

I thank you for reading this post, whether you're an old follower or a new one. And to those who read my blog before, I apologise for my inactivity, and I thank you for reading.
"Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young."
-Henry Ford