Sometimes everything you try to avoid is unavoidable


I don’t remember the exact reason why I wrote the above title. I know something prompted it. Likely, I was trying to avoid something from happening and it happened despite my efforts.

I found it in my phone’s notes the other day. I wanted it to be a blog post. And now it is, but I forgot the story behind it. Oh well.

Sometimes fate is just that. Fate. And despite our best efforts to avoid it, Fate shows up anyway. Sometimes with a shit-eating grin and a hearty laugh while your face is in the mud and your pants around your ankles.

There are religious ideas of destiny, of pre-destination, of fate. Like there’s something out there in the invisible controlling it all. Our ancestors went and made up a bunch of fantastic stories about an invisible being and that this being controls all. It took me years to disrobe these ideas and send them packing. I wish that the process only took seconds. You know, the time it takes to determine if a movie is crap or a song is shitty.

These concepts of fate are, in a sense, very human. We have brains that look for cause and effect, for patterns, for results.

The brain likes to convince humans that there’s another ear at the other end of questions or requests that listens to and responds. “Where are my keys? Please help me find them,” you say to the universe. Some people think there’s an old bearded man at the other end of that request holding your keys just out of sight.

“Please let me pass this test.”

“Please let that person like me back.”

“Please get me to my rent money faster.”

“Please let me win this hand of black jack.”

“Please help me get through this investigation into collusion with Russia.”

Who are we talking to about the things we want to avoid or that we want to happen?

I know, a big percentage of you named it god. But that doesn’t make god real. It just gives a name to the same thing everyone seems to make requests to in a time of supposed need.

And if you don’t pass your test, we’ve devoted a way to declare that the invisible being is still in control, and that the invisible being had other plans. We’ve done that for everything. “We” being a lot of people, but not everyone.

If more people gave not believing in an invisible controlling force a try, I think it’d be great. Responsibility would be personalized and controlled. The outcome of a test or an issue wouldn’t be pinned on something invisible, but visible. Something everyone can agree on.

But those are wishful thoughts for a Monday morning. #keepdreaming.

 

Advertisements

Who is this Kent Dobson …


20180206Kent+Dobson+-+Portraits-156.jpg

Kent Dobson Photo by Ted Bingham 

I talked to my brother the other day on the phone and he recommended that I take a listen to comedian Pete Holmes’ podcast recorded with a guy named Kent Dobson. You can listen to it here.

In a nutshell, Kent Dobson is a friend of Rob Bell’s, the controversial pastor who lead Mars Hill church to mega-churchdom. Bell later removed hell from his personal views, maybe even heaven, and concentrated on the here and now. His blasphemy cost him his pastorship.

I read about Bell long after I had left faith. Hell was one of the first things I was able to let go of as being biblically unsound. So reading him was a little boring. Bell was late to the party.

From what I understand, Kent Dobson took over the church after Rob Bell was basically pushed out. Dobson also flew the evangelical nest and stripped lots of dogma from his perspective.

 

From listening to this podcast, his perspective(s) is/are hardly unique.  I wished that when I was going through my own period of stripping off the dirty, wet clothing of evangelical Christianity, that I could have known more people like Kent, Pete, or anyone else who is able to leave the ideas of our youth.
Continue reading

Making metaphors for real life


fire_3_jw02c.gif

Since the middle of last January, I’ve relished in a sobriety that I haven’t felt in a long time. While I have had a couple celebratory drinks since we finished Whole30, I’ve thankfully stayed off a daily diet of at least a beer or two.

When you stay off booze, with it comes a clarity and lucidity. There comes a vulnerability, too. And with vulnerability comes creativity.

I photographed the above photo last Thursday as a part of my 2018 Monthly Photo Challenge. I’m not sure I came up with the idea for the above photo before we started the diet or after. I’m guessing after. But what you see above is almost EXACTLY what I envisioned.  Continue reading

The tragedy of celebration


In 2006, Tina’s dad made an announcement. Not just any announcement.

He announced he had cancer.

Not just any cancer. Stomach cancer.

Not just any stage cancer. Stage 4 borderline stage 5 cancer.

This was not just any announcement. An “I’ve got so long to live” announcement. “Let’s do things. Let’s reconnect. Let’s make up for lost time.”

The distance from the announcement to his death was short. At most, eight months. He attacked it with every ounce of strength he had. He tried keeping up his active lifestyle of rollerblading in his Florida neighborhood. He tried to keep dating a woman he’d been on and off again for a few years.

We saw him for a weekend that fall. His mom, Tina’s grandma, passed away in October. He flew up to the funeral. We talked to him. His hair was gone. But he felt okay. His feet felt heavy, like “concrete” he said, so he was buying tons of shoes to comfort the feeling.

Back in Florida, he was far from all of us Chicago relatives. While the sun and warmth were probably good for his soul and his attitude, he was alone down there. He had to drive himself to doctor’s appointments and treatments. He was a proud man, and didn’t want to bother his girlfriend. He started taking cabs to the doctor. He took cabs to chemo. He needed help.

His health nosedived toward Christmas. His brother ended up driving down to get him around the holiday with hopes he could help alleviate some of the ease of doctor visits and cancer treatments. But it was really to have him near his brothers, Tina and the rest of the family when he died.  Continue reading

A link dump, a dumpster fire, and skating on thin ice, how nice.


When I took aim at blogging again with regularity, my goal was to reach back to what this blog used to be and that was a news aggregate of sorts. That hasn’t happened.

For the most part, I’ve been doing my best to stay away from consuming too much news. It’s like sugar, it tastes good for a few minutes and then you come crashing down after an hour or less. In this media market, there’s so much sugar that it’s causing a crash every second if I let it. So I stay away.

This video below is a metaphor for the mental state I’ve been aiming for, calm beautiful purposeful sounds that relax and encourage.

But occasionally the news of the day seeps in and disrupts my garden of tranquility. Below the fold, I’m going to throw a bunch of links to the shit that I would be posting and discussing more, but it puts me in a negative headspace.

So I’m considering this a link dump. I’m considering it a fire pit. A place where the news that sucks goes. Or news I might discuss and find some negativity about it. In this post, I douse it with gas, light a match, flick it on top and walk away.

If you descend into the link dump, come back to the top and refresh yourself by watching this video playing the sounds of skating on thin ice. Ah metaphors.

 

Continue reading

How about a quote collection?


You can say I’m milking the quotes I pulled from Tim Ferriss’ book Tribe of Mentors all you want. I’m having a great time reviewing them to see what sparked encouragement to me, and I hope that they encourage you.

There are these two from Max Levchin, a computer scientist:
“Whenever there is any doubt, there is no doubt.” The line is from the inimitable David Mamet, a quote from Ronin, one of my all-time favorite movies. A laconic reminder to always be decisive in battle and in business, and at a most basic level, to trust your gut.
And:
“The difference between winning and losing is most often not quitting.” This famous line from Walt Disney on willpower cannot be more true when it comes to entrepreneurship.

Having an idea and sticking it out till it’s completed became my earliest memory of how to do things. Whether it was chores my mom had for me or little art projects as a kid. This discipline has stuck with me longer and through times when my closest friends and supporters couldn’t find a way to do the same thing.

I love this next one from Dita Von Teese, a burlesque dancer:

“You can be a juicy ripe peach and there’ll still be someone who doesn’t like peaches.”

I find this quote to be true of so much, like music, religion, car purchase, diet regimen, book or movie passion, etc. You might have the juiciest, peachiest faith and belief system, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to get hungry for it. You can LOVE country music and expose me to your favorite tracks, but the likelihood is I’m not going to add it to any of my playlists. I’m sorry not sorry.

This principle works multiple ways. Some people kinda like peaches, so they don’t mind one once in a while. Others like it in their pie, maybe in a candy, but not raw. Point is, some people kinda like religion, but they don’t full on LOVE the one someone else is selling.

And that’s okay! You’re okay. They’re okay. We’re all okay.

And finally, this last 1.15 is from Neil Strauss, author and journalist.

The audiobook I’ve given away most is Nonviolent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg. Though “nonviolent communication” is poorly named (it’s the equivalent of calling cuddling “nonmurderous touching”), the central idea is that, unbeknownst to us, there’s a lot of violence in the way we communicate with others—and with ourselves. That violence comes in the form of blaming, judging, criticizing, insulting, demanding, comparing, labeling, diagnosing, and punishing. So when we speak in certain ways, not only do we not get heard, but we end up alienating others and ourselves. NVC has a magical way of instantly defusing potential conflicts with anyone, from a partner to a server to a friend to someone at work. One of its many great premises is that no two people’s needs are ever in conflict. It’s only the strategies for getting those needs met that are in conflict. Disambiguation: The version you want is a 5-hour, 9-minute lecture. You can recognize it by the cover, which is a close-up of a hand flashing a peace sign. It starts slow, but then gets revolutionary. Do *not* get any versions of the printed book, which has the same title.

And finally, which I’m reminded of a lot in general:

“Learn more, know less.”