Spin me back down the years and the days of my youth ...
Jethro Tull, 'Thick as a Brick', 1972
I was an active kid growing up and fond of physical pursuits, but I also had a deep need for quiet and being by myself. As a small child my teachers would often comment that I was just as happy on my own as I was playing with others. There was nothing 'missing' for me being on my own, and from an early age my most important relationship was with myself.
Dreaming of Other Worlds
I have always been something of a dreamer. When I was young I had the ability to get so lost in my thoughts as to lose all track of time and place. I was very taken with fantasy worlds when I was young, and used to dream of places like Middle Earth and imagining the beings and locations that might be there, sometimes drawing maps of the landscape in my mind and diagrams of the castles and houses that were there. My musical tastes gravitated to the other-worldly and I was very into early Pink Floyd, particularly 'Wish You Were Here' and 'The Court of the Crimson King' by King Crimson.
Dreaming of This World
All this changed my sophomore year in high school when I first read Jack Kerouac's On the Road. Fantasy worlds could not compete with real ones, and the strange beings of Middle Earth were no match for the strange beings of Upper Earth. The vision of travel as a means of expanding the mind was firmly implanted within me, where it would drive a large part of the next 10 years.
I grew up in a Catholic family, attended church every Sunday, as well as CCD (church school). I tried to find some connection in church, but instead developed a theory that, if God did exist, he maintained a point system based on how long you could stand being bored each Sunday.
As I got into junior high I began to think more about what I was being told and found it hard to accept. I soon rejected the notion of God and spirituality altogether, preferring to ascribe to a Nihilistic, Atheistic approach. I didn't believe it and I didn't like pretending that I believed it.
In high school I explored the opposite extreme after became involved with a Christian group called Young Life in my freshman year. The group and it's message filled a need for me that Nihilism certainly wasn't, and I identified myself as Born Again for the first three years of high school.
I was as serious about Christianity as I had been about Atheism. I read The Bible from cover to cover, and attended Bible study's, conferences, and retreats. My need to understand not only the What but the Why was fully engaged here; if I was going to align myself to an ideology I had to fully understand what I was aligning myself to.
Reaching my Limit
The Summer after my junior year I worked for a month at a Christian camp in Colorado. I enjoyed the trip out west thoroughly, as crossing the Great Plains and seeing The Rocky Mountains for the first time was satisfying my aspiration to travel. I spent a month with a group of Christians spreading the word in a beautiful location, but by the end of that month I could not escape the feeling that the people I met who were trying to be 'good Christians' always ended up coming off as phoney there was just something forced about them. I found myself craving the 'heathens' who were honest about who they were.
The Middle Path
My senior year in high school was a process of moving away from Christianity. I stopped going to meetings and ended some friendships. As I rejected religiosity and tried to clear my life of it's trappings, I found that there was a part of the changes that my Christian phase had brought which still remained but it was not identified with any religion or philosophy. In the same act of rejecting The Religious I had started down the path of The Spiritual.