Baffled, Befuddled, Bemused, and Bewildered

The older I get, the more confused I am about everything. Answers to questions come sporadically, but the questions themselves are a constant stream. I find it difficult to concentrate on just one topic at a time because quandaries arise from other subjects simultaneously. Maintaining focus on one particular thing has always been a challenge to me, but not so much as it has been lately. I’ve stated it before, but it bears repeating – I wish I knew now what I thought I knew when I was twenty-one.

One of the many points of confusion I am currently experiencing is the issue of religion. As an LDS missionary, I was utterly sure of everything that had to do with things of a spiritual nature. I knew I didn’t have the answers to all the questions but felt that my faith would carry me through. At the time, I was surrounded by people of like mentality, other fellow missionaries. Because we all had the same mindset, I wasn’t privy to the reality that there is a whole world beyond that life. Even after my two-year mission, I continued to live among members of my Church. More or less, they maintained the same spiritual beliefs that I did and tried hard to live up to the precepts of our religion.

Another problematic area I have is on the issue of politics. Growing up in a conservative community, I always understood and agreed with the views expounded by the Republican Party. As with leaders of the Church, I wholeheartedly gave my support to party leaders. My views on issues fell right down the party line. I believed that same-sex marriage should not be legal and that homosexuality is incompatible with military service. I thought that the death penalty is an effective deterrent against murder. I believed in the war on drugs, and that jail time and school drug testing deters drug use. I supported voluntary student-initiated prayer in school. I felt that market-based solutions would solve environmental problems. I believed that government-run universal health care leads to inefficiencies. For the most part, everyone in my community was of the same opinion. We were united, naïve yes, but united.

One more troublesome area for me is the issue of my financial future. Sadly, I have had a varied occupational history. Throughout all the career paths I have pursued, I never found it prudent to invest in a retirement fund. Subsequently, I see myself now, at 43 years of age, without a means to survive when the time comes that I cannot work any longer. If I continue down this path, I will have to work until I drop dead. That isn’t an easy thing to do, given the fact that old age brings with it many health concerns that would make it difficult for me to work – and employers know this. I could not get used to the corporate world, with its accompanying office politics and ladder-climbing.

Consequently, I find myself now working at a place where there are no benefits as one would see in a big corporation. Though I enjoy this job, I cannot remain here. If I were to stay here, I would end up in the aforementioned predicament.

An additional mystifying area I experience now is the issue of family. I grew up in a relatively stable environment, where my father worked hard to provide for us, while my mother made our house a home. Although my parents haven’t had the closest relationship in the 55 years they’ve been married, they have had their good times. Regrettably, I’m still waiting for a good time. My wife and I have been married for six years, and it’s been a constant struggle from the beginning. Now, I’m beginning to worry if the one reason that we are still married, our two sons, is a good reason to stay with each other. I am starting to see signs that our negative treatment of each other is taking a toll on our boys. Billy, in particular, is becoming somewhat cynical as of late. He’s still the happy boy he always was, but there is a sliver of negativity that has taken up residence in his personality recently. Tyley, too, shows signs of stubbornness and selfishness, some of the traits that my wife and I demonstrate toward each other.

I’m a little embarrassed by admitting these confusions. Most assuredly, if changed to noise, my words would sound like the cry of a baby. Some of these apprehensions have developed because of character flaws, others because of character strengths. Regardless of which, they’re all points that need to be addressed for me to become a successful individual. I hope that God will give me the time and support in doing that. Without Him, I don’t think I’ll manage. It’s all just so overwhelming for me. I need help.

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