My brain relaxed for the first time today. I smoked an hour ago. The house is quiet and everyone’s asleep.
For the past several hours I’ve been in a groove, sitting at my desk, rewriting portions of my memoir. In the middle of my writing I felt like I was in a fog, and it wasn’t the smoke from my bong.
I was shown a picture in my brain. It was of a brick wall with the words, “Believing Is Doing” written in black spraypaint. The paint was so fresh I could still smell its fumes in the air.
“Damn. That’s good,” I said to myself as I opened up a Google Chrome window. I didn’t trust that I came up with that phrase on my own, so I Google’d it. I scanned the search results and on the second page I found a reference to a Bible verse, John 20: 24-29. After reading the text my memory was jolted and I felt compelled to share this story:
I received my first guitar when I was two. I’d run around the house in my cloth diaper, strumming the instrument. In a melody, I would sing, “I sing wock and woll!” “I sing wock and woll!”
Some of my first and favorite memories are of me, sitting next to my father. In his brown cowboy boots and tan polyester pants, he’d smoke his tobacco pipe and strum his guitar. Watching him, I was mesmerized.
My Kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Hannon put together a circus-themed musical program for the parents. She’d chosen David, the smartest kid in the class to be the ringmaster. The ringmaster had the important job of introducing each song to the audience. Mrs. Hannon wrote a script that David needed to remember.
During our first rehearsal, David cried instead of reciting his lines. Mrs. Hannon needed a substitute. She asked the class for volunteers and when no one raised their hand, I raised mine. Mrs. Hannon pursed her lips and raised an eyebrow at me. I’m guessing she was wondering how the kid who was always in trouble for being talkative and unable to sit still was going to pull this off.
I memorized the short script. I also memorized songs from Mary Poppins, The Sound of Music and few other 1960’s movies for the recital. Everyone who attended was impressed, including my parents. I picked up on that. Receiving that feedback felt incredible. My need to perform for others was born.
A year later, my dad came home from Coconuts, a record store in Chicago Ridge. He bought a cassette tape of The Beach Boys’ Endless Summer. I scratched his vinyl copy earlier in the week.
After loading the cassette in my boombox, I grabbed my toy guitar and headed next door. In my grandparent’s driveway, my uncle Rich was working on his car. I set the boombox on the asphalt, strapped on my toy guitar and hit ‘Play’. I lip-synced and pretended to play guitar to both sides of the cassette, twice.
The cars passing by on 87th, a four-lane street, got a private concert that afternoon. Many drivers honked and cheered as they drove by. I pretended the cars whizzing by were people walking on the beach. The traffic noise was the sound of waves crashing.
Where the driveway met the sidewalk, I sang about beautiful girls, surfing, school, fast cars and drag racing. It felt like I was in California with the warm sun at my back. From then on, every day after school I’d lip-sync and pretend play the guitar in front of a mirror in my bedroom,
I didn’t go through the motions of singing and playing. I believed with my entire being that I was singing and playing.
When I graduated high school, my dad bought me a real guitar and I taught myself how to play one afternoon. Four years later, I drove West, stopping at the ocean where I sang and played guitar for people passing by on the beach.
Unadulterated belief is a powerful thing.
And that’s all that I had to write, until I made a connection. My journey to California wasn’t about telling myself, “I believe I can do this.” If I started telling myself I could make it on the West coast as an adult when I was still a teenager, I could not have survived. I would’ve let things like a home, a job, a car, my friends and family hold me back. I didn’t have an understanding of what was needed to move out on my own as a preschooler.
What allowed me to fulfill my goal wasn’t the doing of things; it was belief. It’s quite paradoxical that the absence of understanding as a child, was the catalyst in making my dream happen as an adult.
And faith, confidence in what I hoped for and assurance in the things I could not see, wasn’t a concept I was taught. Faith was already in me. Faith has always been within me, and when I practice having faith, amazing things in my life happen.
I believe those events in my life are connected on a level that’s difficult to comprehend. I believe they are God-driven. He’s telling me, “Ron, the pure belief that got you to California is the same pure belief that you need to have a relationship with me. Believing is doing. It’s as simple as that.”
I also believe God is using this experience to tell me that He has pure belief in me. He always has. After all, Christ died for us while we were still sinners, so it makes sense that this happened tonight after smoking a little bit of pot.
So what now?
I think the best and only thing for me to do is get out of my own way, discard logic and follow my heart, the guitar of my soul.