PERCEIVING TIME

Remember those grade school days that lasted forever. Recess and lunch broke them up, but the end of the day seemed always to be hours away. Time was slow, with lots to learn. We were good at living in the moment. On the perfect days, we didn’t worry about what happened in the past or where the future was taking us. We didn’t even think about the abstractions of passing time. We lived fully present in the moment. Someone told us when it was time to play, learn, eat or sleep. There was so much to do in every second that the days passed slowly by. A school year or a summer vacation was an eternity. Waiting for the next Christmas or birthday was a seemingly endless amount of time.

Gradually we learned how past actions impacted the present. We built up a reputation centered on small and large accomplishments. We could hit the ball and win the game. Answer teacher’s questions and learn new skills. Time moved faster as we grew and filled our life with experiences. We stopped enjoying the current moment, dragging the baggage of the past and the hopes for the future into all of our actions. I can do that. I can’t do that. I am an expert; I am a loser. It all crashes together as we try to figure out our place and purpose.

We wish to move on, and go past the eternity of school. Progress is steady but at a snail’s pace. Then one day it is gone. You will continue to learn but the formal requirement is complete. The diploma says you are qualified. No one will ever look at it. Your actions and accomplishments become your qualifications. The paper says you know how to learn, what you do in life is your ticket to survival.

The working world exploits your skills and fills your days. Sometimes it consumes nights, weekends and every available moment. Families grow and jockey for attention. Every cycle is consumed, years fly by. You can’t even list a handful of items from any particular year as you ride the hurricane of life in the fast lane. You do your best to be sure your work provides for your family and try to maximize the quality time with friends and family. And then it is gone. Children grow up and move on to their own life, work ends with a retirement party where you buy the pizza.

Some days life speeds by, other days time stands still. You learn to appreciate both. Time becomes a friend, the meaning of your story falls into place. The good, the bad, the joy, the sad, combine to form a mosaic you cherish. It is mostly understood with a few rough edges. A few things to sort out, project work to complete our observation.

I could dwell on the things that didn’t go so well, instead I choose to be happy with the whole picture. Without the negative the positive would not seem so rich. Time still speeds by, much like the hurricane days of mid-life but more appreciated and more time is spent loving the current moment.

Don’t cry when my final moment ends we all will reach that point. I am thankful how rich and full my journey through time has been.

What’s in a title?

The title of my second book, “Seeking God at the Idol Meat BBQ’ actually had a lot to say. It said in no uncertain terms that the quest to put meaning into the concept of God would ignore the teaching of the New Testament apostle Paul. Paul said we know there is nothing wrong with the meat but we should not eat the meat sacrificed because it might impact the faith of those who believe eating sacrificed meat is wrong. My book title says to hell with misplaced faith, this isn’t about being nice to foolish notions, we are going to have a big ass BBQ to fuel our quest to find what we can believe about God.

I began by dismissing a good portion of the written words in all religions as self-serving human interpretation. So many have claimed to speak for God and know what he wants. We can’t even trust the words captured as the words of Jesus, Buddha or Mohammad as a true representation of their teaching.

I started research for the book as a Christian, who didn’t have faith in much of the doctrine and scripture, didn’t believe in prayer and questioned the existence of God. At the conclusion of my research, I found that my faith in the existence and nature of God was firmly established. However: Miracles, signs, virgin birth, fleeing to Egypt, even the crucifixion were called into question.

Early Christians saw the presence of God in the man Jesus and preserved his teaching by word of mouth. They continued to attend the synagogue and shared relevant points of his teaching after the Hebrew Scriptures were read. As had happened countless times throughout history the Jews contracted their circle of accepted practice to pure orthodox teaching when the Romans defeated and dispersed them. Christians who wished to continue worshiping with Jesus as a cornerstone needed to write down their story and desperately needed a martyr. A powerful force to bring people to God through Jesus.

Paul had said that Jesus’ life story was as the scripture foretold. The quest began to scour the Hebrew Bible for passages that described the coming Messiah. Memories of his teaching were grey and dim by the passing of time and constant retelling. Elements of the Greek cynic (Prophet) were adopted as a valid way to a pious life. The story evolved and the myth grew. In 30 to 40 years from 70 CE to 110 CE Jesus grew from the teacher of the WAY to God incarnate on earth.

The more cycles spent in analysis of the story the more I am inclined to focus on God and not worry about the Jesus story. I am pretty sure no religion has the story straight. Not Christian, Muslim, Jew, Buddhist or Hindu nor any of the thousands of other belief systems. God is the underlying force of every atom in the universe, every man, woman and child regardless of belief owes their existence to God. Good, bad, indifferent, God observes, creates and evolves our world through every leaf, pine needle, blade of grass and human/animal/insect/reptile consciousness.

It is all about freewill and the love and joy found in watching it all play out. There is no being we can point to and call God. God is the most complex living organism in the universe. Being everything, everywhere; God is simply the living universe. There is no you, because you are a manifestation of God packaged you up as an individual soul to observe your aspect in the dance of evolution. Do you get to dance again, another place, another time, another body? Do we move on to explore a different level of existence? Do we merge into the one consciousness?

Make a wish, make it so.

RACIST

I suspect you might call me a racist. It’s an ugly word; it is non-accepting even judgmental. It’s an exclusionist word. Being a racist is not acceptable in polite society.

You’re not from my tribe, religion or race. My daughters are off-limits to you. I suspect you of evil or at least being a danger to me.

I have had no bad experience, with diversity. I’ve seen people of race on the news and sitcoms. College and the professional world was a melding pot of the elite from many races. Every single encounter was positive, both casual interaction and professional collaboration.

Still I know I am a racist, harboring distrust of people who are different. I don’t wear it like a badge; I hide it deep down. I do my best to foster positive relations, respect, and collaboration. I know that deep down there is a wall that won’t allow outsiders entry into my heart.

I try to give everyone truth, justice, and respect, but it melts away quickly in the face of anger and violence. The persecuted who think they deserve retribution for hundred-year-old transgressions make me want to puke. Yes, slavery and brutality built a lot of this country, get over it, there is no undoing it. Racism is noticeably absent on TV. Shows like American Idol, The Voice, sitcoms, and all major sports, go out of their way to avoid showing any inkling of race bias.

I am isolated and only see racism on the national news. I see police so fed up with what they perceive as low life scum that they feel justified in exercising authority far beyond an acceptable scope. Even if it is only a half of one percent of police encounters with the public, it is unacceptable to use a badge to beat and murder. The response can’t be idiots destroying property and their neighbors livelihoods. We need accountability even if it means body cameras for everyone we give authority over others.

What does it feel like to be on the receiving end of racism? I honestly thought it was a non-issue a done deal, dealt with by the civil rights movement of the 60’s. I was naive; 60 years later it rears its ugly head in everything from police brutality to common discrimination. It is hard to give respect for people living in the past with the weight of a chip on their shoulder. It is also hard to give respect to a destructive ass with a negative attitude. I sit on the fence ignoring racism and living a Pollyanna life.

Without a deep friendship and years of interaction, racism is unlikely to change, accept that racism will always exist but keep it in check with justice and respect for the importance of our differences.

The problem has an immediate solution: if an alien threat arises to force humanity to abandon differences we will unite as one. There is always hope that global enlightenment takes the world by storm… neither is likely.

CHILDBIRTH

Since the dawn of time, you have shouldered the burden. It is a huge commitment to the future of the human race. At its best a quarter of every month is spent bleeding, preparing the womb for a new egg. At its worst cramps and moods torment you.

Endured endlessly month after month in the name of fertility. The sacrifice is unrewarded, unappreciated and expected because it is nature’s way. When a baby does appear inside you, the change is catastrophic. Swollen and stretched to near a breaking point. Luscious curves and supple skin are surrendered to the discomfort of pregnancy. The fear of childbirth gives way to the desire just to have it be over.

Then the baby comes after up to twenty hours of intense pain. Pushing, stretching and even ripping its way into the world. The joy of holding a new life in your arms helps you file away the burden you bear. You are woman; you are powerful and strong. The fact that unlike your ancestors, you didn’t have to squat in the woods to birth a new baby in no way diminishes the commitment and risk you took.

The intense love you feel for your child makes the sacrifice all worthwhile. When you are put on a pedestal, and protected don’t jump down in the name of equality. There is not a man in the world who can come close your contribution to humanity.

A “thank you” rings hollow for you and the thousands of moms that came before you. You truly are the unsung hero.

SOLDIER

From the earliest days of man when families became tribes, we have been sucked into the evil. Villages became cities; cities became countries and kingdoms became dictatorships or democracies. We threaten, maim and kill those who compete with our point of view. We arm and train our children; calling them the righteous soldier. We take the innocent volunteer and send them off to commit state-sponsored murder and other atrocities.

No soldier,  I won’t thank you for your service.

I apologize that humanity needs your service.

All indications are it will never change; countries without power live in chains. The peaceful who abandon the blade, spear, arrow and bullet soon find torture, suppression and elimination their fate.  To maintain our peaceful way of life the murder, suppression and even total elimination of our foes will always be required.

If our society was violent by nature, the satisfaction of vanquishing our enemies would be acceptable. We try to maintain a peaceful facade and leave you to deal with the conflicts that arise from your state-sponsored actions.

No warrior, I won’t thank you for your service.

I apologize for human nature and the things you had to see and do in the name of peace.

For the glory of Rome.

For freedom from colonial rule.

For the safety of the pioneer.

For the preservation of the union.

For stopping the axis of evil. (WW 1&2)

For stopping the red menace from the north (Korea and Vietnam)

For elimination of terrorism.

For this list being only seven of thousands.

Unless you have experienced the trauma good men and women feel when they eliminate an enemy and have to relive that vivid moment for a lifetime, you need to know how hollow “thank you” sounds.

Even I’m sorry is inadequate.

BULLY

Beware the power of the bully.
Helplessness magnified by unrelenting cruelty.
Lost in the darkness, wallowing in self-pity.
Crushed self-worth.
The bully reaches across decades haunting you.

Seeking approval and inclusion anywhere.
What will be enough to banish the demon?
Stellar academic success, decades of professional success, amazing children and grand-kids, early retirement and financial stability?
Decades filled with love and joy
Yet you carry the bullies marks.

You can never change the past.
It will never be better, softer, or more acceptable.
Accept the bullying for what it was.
Unpleasant, heartbreaking torture.
Looking back from this future see clearly how the bully inspired and motivated tremendous success.

You are imperfect, blemishes make you real.
Perfection exists only at this moment, the sum and total of your past.
Embrace and thank the bully.
Your soul will shine with light and love when you embrace who you are.
Be at peace, demolish guilt, shame, or blame.

Have compassion for yourself.
The world can’t hurt you when you harbor no enemies.
You are not on earth to just observe time’s passing.
Explore, experience and enjoy,
Let emotion flow, fully feel delight.

My bully jumped me from the monkey bars.
I beat the living crap out of him.
I left him in the principal’s office decades ago.
It’s time you left yours in the past too.
We live, love and find our joy now.

BASKET

My fans: Sam & Sadie

DSCN1759

I have a nice big basket hidden in my closet.

The basket’s tag says “I can’t do that”.

It is filled with stones engraved with, things like:

  • Public speaking
  • Advanced statistics
  • Wide receiver
  • Keyboard and piano
  • Point guard

I took a sneak peak in the basket.

I pulled out a guitar,

And so the long journey began.

Progress is slow.

The reasons a guitar was in the basket were legitimate.

It is fun to chip away at things etched in stone.

Someday the guitar may not fit in the basket.

But if it does, no harm no foul.