Hello all, I've been facing a recurring conundrum and I don't quite know how to articulate it. In a meditative moment the other week, while standing in a meadow and feeling deeply rooted to the earth, I had this thought: "No matter what I do going forward, this life will always be tainted." I recently read the book "Acid for the Children", the autobiography of Michael Balzary (bassist of the Red Hot Chili Peppers), and found it uncanny how his childhood was almost a mirror image of mine. His parents were severely immature, swinging from emotionally absent to emotionally volatile, and like me, Michael was also a first-generation immigrant. Having come from across the ocean, he had no other family to turn to. Yet he was able to do the things that I didn't do. He found creative expression in music, experimented early on with consciousness-expanding substances, and made his own way. He didn't take his situation personally. He seemed to understand that his parents were ill, and he just sort of detached himself from that world and chose to focus on the kindness and creative energy of the universe. I went a different way. I gradually allowed myself to become pacified by pleasures and comforts. I bought into the rhetoric that being provided a life of luxury, I had no right to be upset about anything. Gradually I made various forms of escapism into my life's central pursuit, never engaging in any artistic expression. After discovering PMO I made orgasms into the central point of my existence. Every woman was a sex object. I have done and said inappropriate, disgraceful things to them. I made every relationship into a competitive one; if it was a female, the goal was to conquer her sexually, and if it was a male, then it would be to prove my superiority in intellectual / athletic ability, and if that didn't bring me satisfaction, then I would have to find a way to verbally degrade them. As they say, hurt people hurt people. I look back on the last few decades and see that I was in some kind of a brain fever, having lacked any semblance of self-awareness. I'm not necessarily wallowing in the past; my past actions, namely my impulsive behavior and the way I alienated people who were nothing but kind to me, have brought about a not-so-good present. And yet there is still no reason for me to not get my shit together, right now. I feel that I am beginning to turn a corner. At this point all I really want to do is sit and meditate, and to pursue the creative endeavors that I failed to engage with in my childhood. Yet I haven't been able to make the plunge. I've written about ten drafts of an apology to a woman that I betrayed five years ago (my only relationship), but it's as if my words cannot express the truth of my thoughts, and they all ended up in the garbage bin. If I can't even do this, how am I to make any amends to all the people that I behaved so nastily toward, many of whom I will never even be able to track down again? I also have this nagging thought that even if I reach my goal and create something of artistic value, the people who see me in the future will always remember me as that disgusting aspergers-coomer who made such an idiot of himself for so long. I have even written fetish porn FFS. I know that people who know me have read it. I feel somewhat like Rodia Raskolnikov from Crime and Punishment, wanting to move to a different type of inner life but too racked by guilt to give myself to it. Rodia had to suffer before he could come to terms with his past. Yet one of my favorite philosophers Alan Watts seems to take a different view - that we are under no obligation to be the same person we were five minutes ago. In fact, none of us are the same person that we were in the past, any more than a river is the same water that flowed through the riverbed the day before. So really, it's not my life that will always be tainted, but merely my name. I suppose that what I'm trying to figure out is this...can I simply let the past slide off, just like that? Do I have the right, after how I have behaved?