which one are we thanking again?

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Read more about this campaign here.

“To all of our atheist friends: thank god you’re wrong.”

The general response I have is that perhaps I’m wrong. I’m open to being wrong. By all means, show me that I’m wrong.

Until then, you haven’t shown you’re right.

At least non-believers can admit they are open to be wrong. I heard a believer recently say that they are convinced they are right.

I wish there were some sort of intellectual honesty there.

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dear 14 year old self

Dear 14-year-old self,

Hey you. It’s me. You’re 38 year old self.

Don’t worry. You turned out fine. You are one of the most educated of the Witteveen grandchildren, oddly enough. You made it through high school and four years of college.

Surprisingly, you found your way out of your shyness in a couple years. I hope that you do it sooner.

No more asking your mother to order for you.

Sorry, you still have a temper. And to this day, there are triggers that you continue to set it off.

But you found an amazing wife, and you are living your dream as a photographer and film maker. It might not be exactly what you envisioned, but doing what you love as a career is nothing short of a dream.

This is going to seem foreign, but your views on religion will change drastically. The fanatic you are as a proselytizing believer, an award-winning Christian will eventually remove themselves thanks to plain old listening to your internal voice.

You will tell people it’s through tons of research. And while research may have given your doubts legs, listening to the doubts you’ve carried since you were young enough to memorize verses in Sunday School will take better hold.

Bear hug these doubts and don’t let familial or societal pressures — which are intense — to force you to lie to yourself or others that you are somehow dabbling in religion or trying to find the crossover between religion and non. It’s a losing battle.

And don’t hate your upbringing no matter what. Your parents did the best they could, and even better. They gave you disciplines and taught you critical thinking skills that led to your departure from religion. You fully realize that you can’t both think critically and hold onto faith-based ideas for too long.

The discipline that you gain will feed your ability to take risks, go on your own, open your own business.

One thing you should do is find more smart people to share your views with. Find a therapist if possible and start working with them to understand yourself better, faster.

Do couples counseling with serious girlfriends.

Don’t attempt to keep long-distance relationships. With some amounts of freedom, explore your sexuality and don’t be so wound up and scared about it. As it were, you waited too long for sex and too long to find better ways to overcome all that shit they taught you in 7th and 8th grade about STDs and hellfire scooping you up if you had sex before marriage.

And finally, travel your ass off. And when you do, soak it up. Throw some caution to the wind and enjoy it. When you study in France for a semester, get your underpants out of your ass. Have wine with dinner. Meet the others out for drinks. And don’t wait for your house mother to kick you out of the house for being a bump on a log.

And finally, practice patience. But be stern. Be strong. It takes a Type A personality to be bullish in business. But take more risks and do more research and take more classes.

Perpetually learn. And don’t let ideas of Jesus and family prevent you from exploring the art you want to explore.

The rest is up to you. I can’t hold your hand through all this. So get out there and grow up, while staying youthful and energetic. You’re strong now, but the body needs maintenance, so keep working out, too.

That’s it. That’s all I’ve got.

Hugs and kisses,

Your 38 year old self.

 

 

 

wedding bliss and death by the road

To give a thorough weekend roundup would be tough.

Tina and I hosted my cousin from Charleston on Friday night. We all drove to Peoria, IL together on Saturday to attend and videotape another cousin’s wedding.

We don’t necessarily like to agree to do these things, but we thought we could pull it off. Our trade is our services for a piece of furniture from my cousin, who is building some of the coolest furniture I’ve seen lately.

Peoria is not the small-town I thought it might be. It was actually somewhat large. A little booming downtown with a convention center and 4 a.m. bars.

The wedding was 20 minutes outside of town in a private area of protected farmland. The ceremony was in a barn and the reception was in a tent nearby.

The reception dinner featured an all vegetarian buffet, and each fork, knife and spoon was wound in fabric with a little tag that read that a donation to marriage equality and fair treatment of animals was made on our behalf.

How freaking cool is that?

Especially when there were a wide variety of perspectives on site at the wedding.

The decor was all designed by the bride and groom, mainly the bride. And their gifts ranged from paintings of themselves dressed neo-Conan the Barbarian and blonde bombshell in arms to a family tree with all the guests at the wedding included in caricature.

On our three-hour ride back the next morning, we got caught in awful traffic. Impatience overcame Tina. She started looking at her phone to see if she could figure out what was holding us up.

She found an article that there was an auto accident on the highway we were on that took the lives of a mother pregnant with twins and some other people.

When we finally reached the site of the accident, which was on the opposite side of the highway, I could see from a quick glance that there were three bodies covered in white blankets near the worst wreckage I’ve ever seen.

And this was just glances.

I was physically shaken. My hands were uncontrollable.

I hate the idea of so many people’s idea of a Sunday becoming completely turned over by an auto accident. We take for granted that we drive three-ton homicidal machines whilst checking our texts and emails.

I have no idea what happened, but drivers are too distracted these days and we need to pay more attention.

Meanwhile, squeeze your loved ones a little tighter today and remind yourself to breathe and live.