Wednesday, October 23, 2013


I’m sitting here, eating a bowl of ice cream, and I’m trying to determine if I am angry a lot or just sometimes or what. There are times in my day when I am alone with my thoughts and often they turn to conversations between me, myself and I. Occasionally I let God in but mostly He just listens. Over the course of the last several years I have discovered there are several things that set me off, so to speak. Sometimes I wish it were just one thing, and then maybe I could just avoid that and move on with my life, but alas. I am sure there are multiple people who concern themselves with my sanity, but trust me, I’m good, thanks.

Typically, the things that bug me the most are things outside of my control, like the economy and world hunger. Other times, it’s as pithy as the way I see people treat each other, specifically regarding how inconsiderate some folks are (that one eats at me a lot I’m afraid), or the way people drive. Mostly, I am too often saddened by watching people claim to be one thing and live lives that clearly speak to something very different. It’s more than hypocrisy, really. To suggest mere hypocrisy is to suggest there is a single topic or characteristic that can be singled out. Instead, what I see are people who on a wholesale level have painstakingly gone so far as to add the bumper stickers, buy the t-shirts, watch the right TV shows, listen to the appropriate radio stations, hang out with the right people and publicly declare their agenda on social media and yet in every action they are screaming something completely different.

It is ridiculous how truly sad we are as humans. We indeed have the power to build up or tear down everything and everyone around us, in most cases simply with the words we speak. And armed with that power, we tend to tear down more often than build up. This goes for the words we choose not to speak as well. How many times have you caught yourself wishing you would have simply spoken up but you chickened out? Sometimes our silence does as much damage as our voice. This is certainly true in the arena of politics, where yours truly has opted out of being a part of, ever again. At least that one thing doesn’t seem to cause me the drama it used to.

I like the word humanitarian, because it makes me think of doing nothing more than bettering humanity one human at a time. Today I read a blog post regarding changing our perspective on how we treat those around us and if we were a little more diligent and intentional towards those closest to us, we might begin to understand how we could deposit into their lives, especially in a way that would leave them better than when we found them. That very concept is so simple and yet so deeply profound. Why on earth would anyone wantonly choose to leave someone worse off than how you found them? Is it our goal to wreck people? Is it our aim to rain on a person’s parade so much so that they lose hope?

And yet look at the very fabric of society here in America, where if you don’t vote a certain way or believe a certain way, you must be the enemy. You’re not even viewed as alternative or different anymore, you are simply viewed as the enemy. This is what our politicians have done to us; they have turned us against each other. Interestingly, I have not noticed a very large contingency arise from this and declare that we will not be ruled by fear. Instead, I see large swaths of the population casting judgment on those less fortunate, all for the sake of some sort of misguided principal that was dictated by a well spoken political leader. Meanwhile, millions of people are suffering daily because of the hatred of fellow humans. The word humanitarian is off the table at this point, replaced not with egalitarian but instead with something very insidious, and that is egoism.

People have personally elevated their own statuses to reveal that the most important person in the world is themselves. In these cases, there is no room for anyone else. Not a spouse, not kids, not immediate family members, not friends but mostly, not anyone who doesn’t explicitly agree with their political views and agendas. Let’s stop right there. You catch my drift, of that I am sure. To beleaguer the point is only going to irritate you as much as it already irritates me.

Think of one person near you. It could be a neighbor, a co-worker, an old friend, a brother. What is one thing that would bring a smile to their face, one thing that you could do to brighten their day, one thing you could do to literally leave them better off than when you found them? This is not a difficult task, in fact it is quite easy, but it is going to take some changes. For instance, turn off the talk radio, where egoism rules. Stop participating in water cooler chats that involve politics unless you think you can learn to do so in a civil manner.

In short, we all need to grow up. And while we’re doing that we need to grow together, not apart. And the only way to do that is to water, or nurture the person next to you. To do so will only make us stronger. To do so will teach us what it means to be considerate, or more appropriately, to sit up and take notice of the people around us.

No place like home

I love this little town. I love the way it changes slowly from season to season, as businesses come and go and people move in or out. We certainly don’t see a major influx of new people and shops but they do indeed change and when they do, this town seems to come alive a little more. Truly, for a town that boasts the population it does, it certainly does not live like it. Instead, you can walk into the grocery story and know a fair number of people within. I love that.

Looking back on all the places I have lived, I can honestly say that there has never been a place like this for me. This place is home unlike any other. As I think about what makes this place special I realize that it’s everything, not just one significant event or person or thing. Notably, the people here all seem to be my friend and that is certainly worth mentioning. Also, the scenery is simply one of a kind. I wake to some of the most amazing sunrises every single day, with five mountains that rise higher than 10 thousand feet to the west and a rocky park to the north that means more to me than nearly any place I have ever seen on earth. Add to this the fact that we get less than 8 inches of rain and more than 300 days of sunshine per year. In addition, the humidity is ridiculously low, we live at 3000 feet above sea level and there are smells here, like Juniper, unlike anything I have ever come across.

Simply, this town provides for me a few of the trappings of city life that I have grown accustomed to while giving me a simplicity that I could only find in a small(er) town. I will be honest and admit that I could probably not make it in a town of less than a thousand for long. The romanticism of it is appealing but there are certain amenities that I appreciate that would simply not be found in a town of that size. I’ve driven through hundreds of little towns like that too, and while they seem charming, or cute, or even intriguing, none of them has ever screamed out to me that I should live in one. Maybe it’s too homogenized, maybe there are too few choices on where to go out for dinner, maybe there’s not enough diversity, all of which I am unsure of. I could certainly speculate but given that I have never lived in a town of that size, I cannot speak to it with certainty.

Redmond is my home. I may not be from here but I like to fantasize that I was born here because I love to hear the stories from people who grew up here, went away for awhile and then returned to raise a family. There is a tangible value associated with living here and it seems that a lot of people come to that conclusion at some point, so they come back. Having moved here in my mid 30’s, the value for me is written on the face of my kids, who love this place and don’t want to live anywhere else. I certainly echo that sentiment.

God willing, I think I’ll stay here.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Improving my attitude

I need to spend some time writing happy thoughts and expressing ideas that make me glad to be alive. Simply, I find it too easy to write about that which bothers me but never enough time talking about the things that are positive in my life. That needs to change.

It’s not that my life is devoid of good things or even funny things to write about, I can name many, for truly I am a blessed man. But my thoughts seem to fade away to that which irks me on a regular basis, so I just start writing. It has been that way for many years and I suppose it is simply my way to vent but it doesn’t have to be.

So much has changed over the last 10 years that writing about it seems like I’m cheating that time. Most appropriate would be some sort of video, but maybe a movie is the way to go, or I could write a book! Who knows, but one thing is for sure, God has changed me so many times over at this point, I can hardly believe I am still the same person. In a way, my old self has finally died and my new self is just starting to breathe. This is essential, really, because who I was, is not who I was meant to be. Even today, I feel that God is not finished with me yet and there will be more pruning that has to take place.

Looking back and realizing how awful I was for so many years, it pains me to think of how I wasted so much time that could have been spent living differently. Instead, I was painfully selfish, unabashedly arrogant and shamefully cruel and condescending to many, including my own family. My outlook was simply to live for myself and no one else. Thankfully, much of that began to change about 16 years ago and especially in the last 10, like I mentioned above. I believe that the dominating force behind this change is God’s Spirit within me, but even more specifically I believe that the brevity of this life has started to sink in. To say we take much for granted is quite possibly the understatement of all lifetimes.

More than living as if we could go on forever and even more than living as if we are the center of the universe, it seems fascinating to me to think that the majority of all humans will be forgotten in a matter of weeks following their death. Don’t get me wrong, there will always be memories and pictures and accomplishments and such, but after a couple of generations, even those fade and disappear or are eclipsed. The truth is that we live like we’ll go on forever but that just isn’t the case. I know, I know, get back to happy thoughts.

But seriously, this life is silly with all its pretense. Even the most anti religious people I know agree that we live this life all wrong. There has to be some point to it and yet we seem bent on missing that point for all eternity. I am convinced that if we took our eyes off of our own needs for just a few minutes each day and instead turned our eyes to the needs of those closest to us, this world would change dramatically overnight. We would stop living lives full of indulgence and greed and instead we would live specifically to please others. And maybe pleasing others isn’t exactly the verbiage I was looking for, maybe it’s more about serving others, or simply filling a basic need in someone’s life. I want to believe with all my heart that God created us to live this way for each other but somewhere along the way we got it wrong. Somewhere we decided that this life was meant to be lived for ourselves only and if there was any shred of time and love left at the end of the day, we might pass it along to one or two people.

And so, this is what I think about regularly. I want nothing more than to meet people where they are and help meet a basic need. Even if that need at that moment is simply to laugh or to smile. Maybe they need a hug or a high five, who knows, but it has to start with turning our eyes away from the mirror and out into the world. And here’s where it gets good; when we turn our attention to meeting the basic needs of those around us, our lives get better. Don’t believe me? Try it, just once, and let me know how it goes.

This world is literally dying around us, filled with people who want nothing more than to please themselves. At the end of the day, we have a society of sick men and women who are broken, hurting, depressed, chemically imbalanced and rotting from the inside out.

You have a few choices which can and certainly will include a) fending for yourself or b) paying someone else to care for those around you who have needs. Or c) you could jump in and do something yourself. The first choice leads you to isolation. The second leads you to believe you are above such thing, that’s why you pay someone else to do it. The last option will not only improve the lives of those around you but it will dramatically improve yours.

These are the thoughts that make me happy to be alive, knowing that I have a chance to make a difference. I don’t need to be remembered for anything, that would take too much foresight and planning. Instead, I can only hope that by working to make small contributions to those around me, I can help to improve attitudes and outlooks.