Whether you're religious, agnostic, atheist, none of the above, or somewhere in between ... there's one thing that you have in common with me--this earthly, mortal existence called life. I personally consider myself pursuing spirituality--meaning that I don't subscribe to organized religion, but have experienced for myself an influence greater than ... from tangible force to surreal serendipity, and have glimpsed the beyond (near-death, out-of-body experience). You and I come to personal convictions individually.
Having lived abroad, and currently traveling for work, I observe a commonality that most people want the same things: happiness, (multi-faceted) security, love, peace, belonging, and purpose. Although you and I might have different cultural and/or (non-)religious backgrounds, I believe that our individual souls personally recognize truths that resonate with us specifically. In the end, isn't it all about love, anyway? How well we treat each other, ourselves, and our planet? Being "good" is subjective, but as humans, I believe that we all have universal instincts of such an ambiguously interpreted concept. What do you heed? What do you ignore?
Regardless how life resonates with you, for me, I started out religiously conditioned, but found my truth by venturing through much unconventionality. In my memoir "Reclaimed" I wrote of my experience like this:
"As I walked toward the bar each night, I was drawn to the thumping crescendo of the music. Nearing the bar, my heart raced and my stomach churned with anxiety, knowing what was demanded of me ... my expected exposure and vulnerability. My most memorable experience occurred not long after I entered the scene. I was writhing to the music, dancing euphorically, dripping sweat, entranced. Momentarily, I thought of how not long before, I was a Mormon missionary, proselytizing in Germany ... and now I was gyrating around the bar in my skivvies, my socks stuffed with lust money. I had come far (in which direction is subjective).
Ironically, I was more sincere and spiritually inclined at this stage than I was as a missionary. Tears welled as I looked up to keep them from draining down my face. What I felt was the same feeling that I was taught in the Mormon church to be the Holy Ghost (the Spirit). It was like God's stamp of approval that I was okay and didn't have to hate myself anymore. I had felt that before as a missionary, which was pivotal in my reconciliation between spirituality and self-integrity."
My wish for you is that you recognize the language in which life speaks to and through your soul.
Author of "Reclaimed"
Ray Cook, an Idaho native, came of age in Germany as an excommunicated Mormon. Cook graduated with a degree in modern languages from The University of Massachusetts and works as a flight attendant. He lives with his partner in Boston. Cook's "Reclaimed" published September 24, 2013.
Ray Cook's exemplary behavior as a model Mormon boy covered up a raging internal dilemma. He identified as a gay man, but was unable to embrace his sexuality because he lived in a culture that treated homosexuality as a liability. After returning from missionary work in Germany he experienced an overwhelming volume of emotions that took the form of self-destructive habits such as promiscuity, alcohol and extreme codependency.
"Reclaimed" shares his journey to spiritual and sexual freedom and offers inspiration to others desperate to discover who they are in the diverse world.
by Ray Cook