Sea Legs

This is for encouragement, ideas, and support for people going through a faith transition no matter where you hope to end up. This is also the place to laugh, cry, and love together.
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græy
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Sea Legs

Post by græy » Wed Aug 14, 2019 10:05 am

This is long. Sorry.

I have been reading David Ostler's new book Bridges (Publisher). My hope in reading this book, was that I could eventually refer our bishop or ward council members to the book, so that they could better understand where so many people in our ward are coming from. That is, after all, the stated purpose of the book. My wife pointed out that because it is not published by Deseret Book, it might lack credibility to my target audience. Sadly, I think she is right.

I'm about half-way through the book, finishing up the first section titled A Crisis of Faith. So far, I am actually enjoying the book. My one reservation so far is when Ostler is attempting to describe what its like to have a faith crisis to those who have never had one. He briefly reviews Fowler's Stages of Faith, and then proceeds to share a number of individual and scriptural examples of people who have experienced this "dark night."

He lists the following...
  • Joseph Smith in Carthage Jail - D&C 121: O God, where art thou?
  • Mother Theresa - Doubting God's existence, feeling isolated, lonely.
  • Alma the Younger - Wracked for 3 days!
  • Lehi - Wandering through mists of darkness before finding the tree.
  • Himself (David Ostler) - Having rough nights and calling on God for comfort.
With the sole possible exception of Mother Theresa, these examples are all... wrong.

Joseph Smith questioned where God was, not whether or not he was even there. And even then, he received an answer to his query within at least a few days or weeks. That powerful answer is now D&C 121.

Alma the Younger felt bad for horrible stuff he actually did to other people. He felt guilty, not betrayed and lied to. His world view and personal identity weren't so much turned upside down as simply confirmed to be someone he didn't really like. He called out to God and received his immediate answer of peace.

Lehi probably felt lost in the mists but again, his answer came immediately when he asked for help. He was never questioning his own purpose or the reality of his entire eternal existence.

And while I'm sure David Ostler has had some very terrible and probably even isolating nights, he still had a God to call on for comfort.

I tried talking to DW about this and she, at least a superficial level, seemed to recognize that a real "dark night of the soul" is more than just a rough day or two. It literally calls into question your entire understanding of yourself.

I used the analogy of having the church or God as a wall to lean on for support. You get hurt or feel sick or dizzy, you reach out and lean on the wall. There is not doubt the wall is there, and it will certainly hold you up. JS, Alma, Lehi, and Ostler all had prayer and God to call on. They leaned on their walls and found support. In my experience, my faith crisis hit and I reached for that wall, only to find there was no wall. And now, even years later, I'm still flailing to find something to lean on trying not to fall on my face. All I really know, is that there is no wall.

I have also been listening to Anthony Miller's MS interview. In part 2, he shares his "dark night of the soul." This guy gets it, and I wish my wife would listen to someone who can explain better than me what its really like. In tears, he mentions meeting with Lindsay Hansen-Park, and how she told him that he felt like he was standing on quick-sand, but he was really on solid ground.

I grew up spending a fair amount of time on boats and I think this analogy works as well. When you first get on a boat, you feel the waves. The floor rises and falls with the water beneath it and at first you feel very unsteady. But you get used to it. You get your "sea legs." This doesn't seem too strange because you expect the boat to move. You expect the "earth" to be unsteady when you're on a boat.

There have been times where I have spent weeks at a time on a boat. The strange part happens when you get back off the boat and onto dry ground. You expect it to feel solid, strong, secure. A "sure foundation" if you will. But your sea legs and brain have now adjusted to the constant motion of the boat and without that motion, the solid ground you're walking on seems to be moving beneath you.

The dark night of a Mormon faith crisis is similar. Your very foundation of existence gets pulled out from under your feet and replaced with... reality. Reality is the solid ground, it is not moving. But my life, ironically, has been built on the very shaky foundation of LDS Doctrine. And now, with everything in motion I feel unsteady, dizzy, sick... lost. And I still can't find wall to lean on.
I'm better than dirt... well most dirt. Not that fancy store bought stuff, I can't compete with that... full of nutrients and everything. -Moe Sizlack

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Red Ryder
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Re: Sea Legs

Post by Red Ryder » Wed Aug 14, 2019 10:49 am

Excellent post Graey!
“graey” wrote:The dark night of a Mormon faith crisis is similar. Your very foundation of existence gets pulled out from under your feet and replaced with... reality. Reality is the solid ground, it is not moving. But my life, ironically, has been built on the very shaky foundation of LDS Doctrine. And now, with everything in motion I feel unsteady, dizzy, sick... lost. And I still can't find wall to lean on.
Do you want to know the secret philosophical answer?

The Wall = Self

Find your “self” first and you’ll always have a strong wall to lean on. You’ve already got a strong foundation that you can continue to build on. You’re faith crisis has merely shown you that your previous wall that provided you security and comfort was a chain link fence holding you back from the world. You could see it but not experience it.

I’d argue that you can either build a new wall of support to lean on when times are tough or you can simply put in a nice gate that will allow you to walk through past your boundaries and enjoy the immense beauty and view of the world in front of you.

The choice is yours. Stay in the yard or move forward.
Those who do not move do not notice their chains. —Rosa Luxemburg

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Corsair
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Re: Sea Legs

Post by Corsair » Wed Aug 14, 2019 11:26 am

I have been somewhat interested in Ostler's book also for the reasons Graey elegantly explained. It's a good message, but until we hear it in general conference, it will just be this nice set of optional suggestions that local leaders will largely ignore. It sounds like Brother Ostler has comprehended quite a lot more than most believers. I simply doubt that any leader, family member, or believing friend near me will incorporate this thinking any time soon.

I would add that I felt like I spent long enough in the dark night of the soul to finally feel like I found friends there. I enjoy the quiet solitude it continues to provide. The Dark Night of the Soul is oddly an appealing place for me now like a quiet porch on a dark night. I'm just sitting here enjoying a view of the stars in a dark, endless sky after my eyes adjusted to reality. I am comfortable enough here that going back into the "light" does not feel really helpful any longer.

I actually hope I don't start to sound inspired, but perhaps this is where God was located all this time. Even if it's all just metaphor, myth, and poetry.

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w2mz
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Re: Sea Legs

Post by w2mz » Wed Aug 14, 2019 11:28 am

Red Ryder wrote:
Wed Aug 14, 2019 10:49 am
Excellent post Graey!
“graey” wrote:The dark night of a Mormon faith crisis is similar. Your very foundation of existence gets pulled out from under your feet and replaced with... reality. Reality is the solid ground, it is not moving. But my life, ironically, has been built on the very shaky foundation of LDS Doctrine. And now, with everything in motion I feel unsteady, dizzy, sick... lost. And I still can't find wall to lean on.
Do you want to know the secret philosophical answer?

The Wall = Self

Find your “self” first and you’ll always have a strong wall to lean on. You’ve already got a strong foundation that you can continue to build on. You’re faith crisis has merely shown you that your previous wall that provided you security and comfort was a chain link fence holding you back from the world. You could see it but not experience it.

I’d argue that you can either build a new wall of support to lean on when times are tough or you can simply put in a nice gate that will allow you to walk through past your boundaries and enjoy the immense beauty and view of the world in front of you.

The choice is yours. Stay in the yard or move forward.
Ditto what RR says. For me, I finally started to find some stability when I started listening to Tony Robins podcast and YouTube videos on my commute. He focuses on finding joy in life through self improvement principles. His style is not for everyone so your mileage may vary.

Find a way to build the stability you seek within yourself. Then you won’t need the external wall to lean on.
The church has engineered your eternal family into a commodity that can be purchased with an annual fee. The fact that full tithing payment is a requirement for saving ordinances is the biggest red flag imaginable. Hagoth

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Red Ryder
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Re: Sea Legs

Post by Red Ryder » Wed Aug 14, 2019 11:40 am

Corsair wrote:
Wed Aug 14, 2019 11:26 am
I would add that I felt like I spent long enough in the dark night of the soul to finally feel like I found friends there. I enjoy the quiet solitude it continues to provide. The Dark Night of the Soul is oddly an appealing place for me now like a quiet porch on a dark night. I'm just sitting here enjoying a view of the stars in a dark, endless sky after my eyes adjusted to reality. I am comfortable enough here that going back into the "light" does not feel really helpful any longer.

I actually hope I don't start to sound inspired, but perhaps this is where God was located all this time. Even if it's all just metaphor, myth, and poetry.
Yes! This is where I’m at. You just put it in much better words than I have the ability to.
Those who do not move do not notice their chains. —Rosa Luxemburg

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wtfluff
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Re: Sea Legs

Post by wtfluff » Wed Aug 14, 2019 11:52 am

græy wrote:
Wed Aug 14, 2019 10:05 am
Lehi probably felt lost in the mists but again, his answer came immediately when he asked for help. He was never questioning his own purpose or the reality of his entire eternal existence.
Sorry, but I have to point out: 'Lehi' had a dream about a "faith crisis." I mean... How does that have ANYTHING to do with reality? (Well... Besides the fact that 'Lehi' ad 'Alma' are both fictional characters.)


Beyond that; Excellent post græy! I am going to attempt to store your post and the excellent replies in my fluffy brain, and "Use it in my daily life."
Faith does not give you the answers, it just stops you asking the questions. -Frater Ravus

Keep the company of those who seek the truth - run from those who have found it -Václav Havel

Brilliant.

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Linked
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Re: Sea Legs

Post by Linked » Wed Aug 14, 2019 1:55 pm

Great post Graey.
græy wrote:
Wed Aug 14, 2019 10:05 am
I used the analogy of having the church or God as a wall to lean on for support. You get hurt or feel sick or dizzy, you reach out and lean on the wall. There is not doubt the wall is there, and it will certainly hold you up. JS, Alma, Lehi, and Ostler all had prayer and God to call on. They leaned on their walls and found support. In my experience, my faith crisis hit and I reached for that wall, only to find there was no wall. And now, even years later, I'm still flailing to find something to lean on trying not to fall on my face. All I really know, is that there is no wall.
Your description reminded me of the book Ender's Game when he is at battle school playing zero G laser tag. At first he was uncomfortable and disoriented floating around, and a bunch of the kids kept trying to stay oriented with gravity. The ones that succeeded were the ones who were able to abandon their previous perspectives and adjust. "The enemies gate is down" was useful for battles, but just being comfortable in the new reality and recognizing a gravity-bound perspective is no longer useful was the way to really fly.
"I would write about life. Every person would be exactly as important as any other. All facts would also be given equal weightiness. Nothing would be left out. Let others bring order to chaos. I would bring chaos to order" - Kurt Vonnegut

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græy
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Re: Sea Legs

Post by græy » Wed Aug 14, 2019 5:40 pm

Red Ryder wrote:
Wed Aug 14, 2019 10:49 am
Excellent post Graey!
“graey” wrote:The dark night of a Mormon faith crisis is similar. Your very foundation of existence gets pulled out from under your feet and replaced with... reality. Reality is the solid ground, it is not moving. But my life, ironically, has been built on the very shaky foundation of LDS Doctrine. And now, with everything in motion I feel unsteady, dizzy, sick... lost. And I still can't find wall to lean on.
Do you want to know the secret philosophical answer?

The Wall = Self
Image
I'm better than dirt... well most dirt. Not that fancy store bought stuff, I can't compete with that... full of nutrients and everything. -Moe Sizlack

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græy
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Re: Sea Legs

Post by græy » Wed Aug 14, 2019 5:44 pm

Corsair wrote:
Wed Aug 14, 2019 11:26 am
... I simply doubt that any leader, family member, or believing friend near me will incorporate this thinking any time soon.

I would add that I felt like I spent long enough in the dark night of the soul to finally feel like I found friends there. I enjoy the quiet solitude it continues to provide. The Dark Night of the Soul is oddly an appealing place for me now like a quiet porch on a dark night. I'm just sitting here enjoying a view of the stars in a dark, endless sky after my eyes adjusted to reality. I am comfortable enough here that going back into the "light" does not feel really helpful any longer.

I actually hope I don't start to sound inspired, but perhaps this is where God was located all this time. Even if it's all just metaphor, myth, and poetry.
I really like this idea. Thank you inspired Corsair!
I'm better than dirt... well most dirt. Not that fancy store bought stuff, I can't compete with that... full of nutrients and everything. -Moe Sizlack

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græy
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Re: Sea Legs

Post by græy » Wed Aug 14, 2019 5:51 pm

wtfluff wrote:
Wed Aug 14, 2019 11:52 am
Sorry, but I have to point out: 'Lehi' had a dream about a "faith crisis." I mean... How does that have ANYTHING to do with reality? (Well... Besides the fact that 'Lehi' ad 'Alma' are both fictional characters.)
Right!? Outside of Mother Theresa, none of the examples on his list seem to have had anything like an existential crisis of faith. A bad dream, a bad night, even a bad 6 months of being locked in a horrific jail are not the same as a faith crisis or dark night of the soul.

I'm not saying I'd rather be locked up in carthage for 6 months. But I am saying it would be far worse to be locked up AND realize there is no God listening to your pleas or watching over your family, and that every sacrifice you've made that led you to that miserable point was futile and pointless!
I'm better than dirt... well most dirt. Not that fancy store bought stuff, I can't compete with that... full of nutrients and everything. -Moe Sizlack

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Re: Sea Legs

Post by jfro18 » Wed Aug 14, 2019 5:55 pm

This is a good recap - and you're right about how people often make comparisons to try and soften a point when the comparisons just are not compatible.

I wasn't born in the church, so when I left it I just fell back into my Christian upbringing and that helped to soften the blow... but then years later when I started deconstructing all of this it got dark quick when you realize it all has the same problems.

And you're right that trying to compare it to other events where they still had belief of God or even interventions from God is a completely different thing.

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Re: Sea Legs

Post by Thoughtful » Wed Aug 14, 2019 10:24 pm

6 years and counting. I think I'm coming through the other side?

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Re: Sea Legs

Post by RubinHighlander » Thu Aug 15, 2019 6:58 am

Great analogy græy!
Corsair wrote:
Wed Aug 14, 2019 11:26 am
I would add that I felt like I spent long enough in the dark night of the soul to finally feel like I found friends there. I enjoy the quiet solitude it continues to provide. The Dark Night of the Soul is oddly an appealing place for me now like a quiet porch on a dark night. I'm just sitting here enjoying a view of the stars in a dark, endless sky after my eyes adjusted to reality. I am comfortable enough here that going back into the "light" does not feel really helpful any longer.

I actually hope I don't start to sound inspired, but perhaps this is where God was located all this time. Even if it's all just metaphor, myth, and poetry.
I've also embraced the darker places, literally and metaphorically. The past two decades I've taken on landscape photography as another reason to get out and explore more. I've slowed down my pace in nature, taking note of all the tiny things I missed all those years of blazing by them on my mountain bike or burning adrenaline on a cliff face with ropes. Now I'm digging deep into all things in nature and spending more time in the study of all the sciences. The physical dark part of that is going out by myself and staying out late or heading out early, with and without moonlight. There's a big adrenaline rush sometimes when you hear noises of other creatures and get a bit freaked out. There's something primal there and it feels like it ties me back to parts of my brain and genetics that are more ancient.

Segue from nature into the brain now. With my loss of belief in Satan it's freed me to explore and embrace all kinds of thoughts and explore them, including the dark thoughts and feelings (without the supernatural devil stigma). I've also tapped into parts of the brain way out of the realm of normal societal reality with magic fungal molecules; this has been life changing! These dark realms of the brain's wonderland can produce scary entities vying for attention; the advice is to never run away from them, but try to learn what they want or just give them some attention they desire. It's been nothing but an overall amazing and positive experience for me. I really feel like I have connected with the Earth and the Universe now, which is impossible if you only live in the obfuscated modern society we've created as homo sapiens. The opposite of this, as a TBM, was to run away from anything perceived as dark or evil, to try and compartmentalize it into a trash folder and be under constant stress to guard every thought to an artificial divine entity. Seeing the world and creation only from inside the LDS prison is not only a narrow view, it's a completely false one!

I look back at that era of my life and see a great imbalance, where I was forced or compelled to live a very narrow way of life. My perception is that was a very unhealthy existence, at least for me. I've seen even more amazing transition for my DW, who was raised with a significant level of guilt and fear via the LDS life and has made great strides in reaching an escape velocity from it.
“Sir,' I said to the universe, 'I exist.' 'That,' said the universe, 'creates no sense of obligation in me whatsoever.”
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Angel
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Re: Sea Legs

Post by Angel » Fri Aug 16, 2019 5:57 am

Ok - if you have not read it, this is one of the most beautiful boat stories I have read:

https://karlijo.wixsite.com/beautyinthe ... NdfbtXOYJ4

Yes, it takes time to get "land legs", and I agree, the wall = yourself.
“You have learned something...That always feels at first as if you have lost something.” George Bernard Shaw
When it is dark enough, you can see the stars. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

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græy
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Re: Sea Legs

Post by græy » Fri Aug 16, 2019 8:24 am

Angel wrote:
Fri Aug 16, 2019 5:57 am
Ok - if you have not read it, this is one of the most beautiful boat stories I have read:

https://karlijo.wixsite.com/beautyinthe ... NdfbtXOYJ4

Yes, it takes time to get "land legs", and I agree, the wall = yourself.
So much better than Renlund's version of the story!
I'm better than dirt... well most dirt. Not that fancy store bought stuff, I can't compete with that... full of nutrients and everything. -Moe Sizlack

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Hagoth
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Re: Sea Legs

Post by Hagoth » Fri Aug 16, 2019 8:47 am

Red Ryder wrote:
Wed Aug 14, 2019 11:40 am
Corsair wrote:
Wed Aug 14, 2019 11:26 am
I would add that I felt like I spent long enough in the dark night of the soul to finally feel like I found friends there. I enjoy the quiet solitude it continues to provide. The Dark Night of the Soul is oddly an appealing place for me now like a quiet porch on a dark night. I'm just sitting here enjoying a view of the stars in a dark, endless sky after my eyes adjusted to reality. I am comfortable enough here that going back into the "light" does not feel really helpful any longer.

I actually hope I don't start to sound inspired, but perhaps this is where God was located all this time. Even if it's all just metaphor, myth, and poetry.
Yes! This is where I’m at. You just put it in much better words than I have the ability to.
If being lost feels this good I don't wanna be found.
“The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.” -Mark Twain

Jesus: "The Kingdom of God is within you." The Buddha: "Be your own light."

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Re: Sea Legs

Post by Palerider » Fri Aug 16, 2019 9:38 am

Corsair wrote:
Wed Aug 14, 2019 11:26 am
I have been somewhat interested in Ostler's book also for the reasons Graey elegantly explained. It's a good message, but until we hear it in general conference, it will just be this nice set of optional suggestions that local leaders will largely ignore. It sounds like Brother Ostler has comprehended quite a lot more than most believers. I simply doubt that any leader, family member, or believing friend near me will incorporate this thinking any time soon.

I would add that I felt like I spent long enough in the dark night of the soul to finally feel like I found friends there. I enjoy the quiet solitude it continues to provide. The Dark Night of the Soul is oddly an appealing place for me now like a quiet porch on a dark night. I'm just sitting here enjoying a view of the stars in a dark, endless sky after my eyes adjusted to reality. I am comfortable enough here that going back into the "light" does not feel really helpful any longer.

I actually hope I don't start to sound inspired, but perhaps this is where God was located all this time. Even if it's all just metaphor, myth, and poetry.
I always felt like the knowledge that brings awakening regarding the true status of the church was an enlightening experience.

There was some heartfelt sadness and a feeling of loss ( like realizing there is no Santa Claus only much worse). Loss of ones' "specialness", loss of trust in admired leadership, loss of community.

But I remembered the Savior's feeling at being forsaken when God required Him to stand alone and on His own, without felt support for a time. A very dark time and yet a time when He learned who He really was. That the entire experience was His own choice and that at one time or another, we all have to stand alone for what we know is right and true.

I feel so sorry for all those who see that crossroad and run away. There are so many Mormons (and others) who cannot stand alone but would rather retreat to the "safety" of the crowd and group think. Frankly, they are a little bit cowardly at the time. But this opportunity will come again. Maybe they will grow and succeed next time.

It can be dark, but there is always light and illumination found in truth. Truth is where it's at.
"There is but one straight course, and that is to seek truth and pursue it steadily."

"Truth will ultimately prevail where there is pains to bring it to light."

George Washington

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græy
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Re: Sea Legs

Post by græy » Fri Aug 16, 2019 10:04 am

A quick update and confession.

I took the book with me to meetings during our wards YW/YM activity knowing that Bishop would also be there. Pre-meeting I sat reading and marking the book and sure enough, he asked about it.

I told him about David Ostler, and briefly explained his reasons for writing the book. I also told him that it was eye opening. He wrote down the title and authors name and said he was going to get a copy without my having to explicitly say he should look into it. We'll see where it goes from here. If anything does come of it, I'll likely update my ongoing ward council thread.
I'm better than dirt... well most dirt. Not that fancy store bought stuff, I can't compete with that... full of nutrients and everything. -Moe Sizlack

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Linked
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Re: Sea Legs

Post by Linked » Fri Aug 16, 2019 1:09 pm

græy wrote:
Fri Aug 16, 2019 10:04 am
A quick update and confession.

I took the book with me to meetings during our wards YW/YM activity knowing that Bishop would also be there. Pre-meeting I sat reading and marking the book and sure enough, he asked about it.

I told him about David Ostler, and briefly explained his reasons for writing the book. I also told him that it was eye opening. He wrote down the title and authors name and said he was going to get a copy without my having to explicitly say he should look into it. We'll see where it goes from here. If anything does come of it, I'll likely update my ongoing ward council thread.
Well Done!
"I would write about life. Every person would be exactly as important as any other. All facts would also be given equal weightiness. Nothing would be left out. Let others bring order to chaos. I would bring chaos to order" - Kurt Vonnegut

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slavereeno
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Re: Sea Legs

Post by slavereeno » Fri Aug 16, 2019 3:39 pm

This whole thread is great.

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