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Saturday, April 22, 2017

The illusions of control - A take on controlling/controlled people

To any of my faithful readers who've ever been accused of being a controlling person or a control freak, don't worry.  Regardless of what anyone else thinks, you aren't truly in control anyways.  So, the claims of others to that effect, don't fully matter anyway.

In a way, you are being accused of trying to do something you probably don't or wouldn't succeed at anyway.  I firmly believe that control is largely an illusion and that to the extent we have control, it is short term and passing.  On January 5th of this year (2017), I was once again reminded of just how illusory control can be.  On January 4th, I was thinking about getting another year or so out of my 2006 Ford Focus before I would buy a new car.  By shortly before 8am on January 5th, I was staring at the reality that I would need to buy a new car imminently.  Another driver's failure to control her car, led to the destruction of my car, something whose timing I couldn't have predicted. That being said, just because we don't always have control over life's events doesn't mean that we should just throw up our hands and 'cast our fate to the wind'.  Rather it means we should factor in some uncertainty and keep in mind that despite our best plans, we have to be flexible enough to adjust them if the need arises.

But I digress. Regarding relationships, in order for control to be seriously attempted, there has to be someone who could feasibly be controlled.   That is to say, there has to be someone who is tends to be controlling and someone who tends to 'fall prey' to a controlling person.

I am going to ponder the delusions, illusions and mindset which I believe controlling people and 'controlled' people to be be under.

  • Often they live fear-based.
    • It may be cliche to say controlling people are often driven by fear, but many cliches are true.  
    • The fear may take a number of shapes.
      • Fear of humiliation.  Obviously, you inherently have control over your own behavior as you have free will and can make choices.  However, those that you perceive that represent you--employees, children, spouse, family--are external to you and they have free will also.  So, as the thinking of a 'control-freak' goes, I will be judged based on those around me, therefore, I must do everything I can to pressure them into conforming to my standards of acceptable behavior.  
      • Fear of making a costly mistake/missing a deadline/losing it all.
        • Their fear can cause themselves and/or others around them to be wound too tight.
        • Their fear can cause themselves and/or others around them to be too conservative or risk-adverse.
        • Their fear can cause themselves and/or others around them to second guess too much.
        • Their fear can cause themselves and/or others around them to micromanage.
        • They can't read the minds of others, so they can't 'take a chance' of failure.  This is especially true when if the other(s) have EVER 'failed'.  Even if they risk failure when in control, they have more 'certainty' as to success.
  • Often they live all about them or narcissist-based.
    • A controlling person I believe tends analyzes everyone and everything as to how it affects them.  How does it make me look or feel?  How does it help, hurt or inconvenience me?
    • They do not want to deal with the feeling of uncertainty that giving up control seems to unleash in them.
    • They often seem to need to positive validation tied to success at whatever situation they are 'taking-charge' at.  That is to say they seek situations to run or control (and therefore people) so they can get the praise associated with 'success' at them.
      • Instead of quietly seeking to do the right things, they seek to the opportunity to make sure others see it.
      • It can be a symptom of an underlying low self-esteem.
      • Instead of being comfortable in their own skin, they require more and more confirmation of their goodness or worth.
  • Often they are 'groomed' to be controlling.
    • They have either seen or felt the affects of when one isn't in 'control'.  They don't want to feel that.
    • They have often been 'taught' or learned from influential people in their lives that they can't count on others and that they have to be in charge.
  • Often they have rationalized their controlling nature.
    • MARTYR complex - Thinking they are just doing "the Lord's work", even when they have pushed others out of the opportunity to help.  
    • SOLOMON complex -Thinking they are just doing what is best for all parties. Justifying their behavior based on what they deem to be best for all, rather than asking or accepting the input of others.
    • HERO complex - Thinking or worrying that without them, things may not go off right.  That is to say, the situation "requires" them. 

  • They often live fear-based
    • They worry about being rejected totally.
      • Thinking if they stand up for themselves, the other may dump, fire or similarly completely reject them.
      • Thinking perhaps that they do not deserve better and/or cannot find better.
    • They worry about being partially rejected.
      • Thinking if they stand up for themselves, the other may withhold positive attention and/or ridicule them.
      • Once again thinking they don't deserve and/or cannot find better.
    • They mistake keeping the controlling person happy as being 'accepted' by them.  In reality, such a mindset can often lead to rejection by the controllers as they don't respect them anyway.
  • They are often what I call "negative narcissist". 
    • Think they can't do it right anyway.
    • Think they deserve what they get.
    • Think they can't please the other(s) anyway.
  • They are often 'groomed' to be controlled.
    • They have had their voice shut down at some point by a controlling person, often a parent, from an early age.
    • They have been often told or implied that they are not capable aka are a failure.
      • Too ignorant
      • Too clumsy
      • Too weak
      • Not as good
      • Too much of a risk
      • Too mistake prone
    • While sometimes they may lack initiative and seem to 'crave' being controlled, often it may just be that they are just beaten down by being shut down and/or being implied that they are a failure.
  • They often rationalize their controlled nature.
    • PEACEMAKER complex - They are the peacemaker and/or don't want to make waves stir up trouble or make life more difficult for anyone.
    • HELPFUL complex - They want to be seen as being helpful and not argumentative.
    • EMPATHETIC complex - I should be more understanding of the other, given their situation (tremendous workload/responsibility they have, victim of abuse, etc.)
      • You can be understanding without allowing yourself to be walked all over.
      • You have to remember that often times you didn't cause that situation or problem for them (or at least were not fully responsible), so while it is okay to empathize, it is not okay to let it be a tool to control you. 

This is not meant as a comprehensive study or take on controlling people (and controlled people), but really a discussion piece on what I see in these people/situations.  As they say, "You Mileage May Vary" (YMMV).  

The world is full of leaders and followers.   Inherently, neither role is necessarily a bad thing.  Being a leader doesn't inherently mean one is a 'controlling' person no more than being a follower inherently means one is a 'controlled' person.  It is often times the mindset behind why they are taking that role and how they are treating others.

  • The best leader leads because he or she wants the best for those whom they lead, not to satisfy a craving for power/validation.  That is to say they lead not because they wish to control others, but rather they see a need that they can help with and it concerns them enough to 'take charge'.
  • The best followers follow as they realize they want to help, but realize that 'too many cooks spoil the broth'.  They are content helping behind the scenes and not getting 'leadership' credit.  They may share the vision of the leaders and realize that they can help out with the vision.  That is to say, they follow not out of a need to be validated (by the leader) or out of a sense that they don't deserve better or even out of a fear that they can't lead.  Instead, they understand that being a follower is a role.
  • Leaders can be followers at times and followers can be leaders at times.  It really depends on the needs of the situation and the strengths of the parties involved.

My takeaway on this subject is to recognize your role, why you are in your role, recognize your need to be respected, but also to respect others.   We have to understand that we can't control everyone and everything nor should we want to.  Life is full of uncertainty.  We can't live with complete uncertainty, but we also can't expect to live no uncertainty.   While it is important in many cases to minimize uncertainty, it cannot be at all costs.  We cannot control others for our own selfish needs, nor can we allow ourselves to be controlled for our own selfish needs either.  We have to respect that each of us has a role.  We have a time and place to lead and a time and place to follow.  We have a voice to be heard and we have voice to be silent and to hear others.  Based on our gifts, the types of roles and the size of our voices may be different, but we should not let it devolve into a controlling situation.

While respecting our own needs, we need to be able to take ourselves out of the picture and let our role come naturally rather than be forced.  I believe God will, if we listen, direct us to our roles making it not so much of a matter of control, but rather doing or being open to the right thing.

Just some thoughts.  I've hope you've gotten a little out of this posting.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Paradise and paved parking lots that replace them.

When the surreal becomes real, when the warm traditions of the past are declared old news, when the memories of our childhood are wiped out or built over in favor of maximizing legal tender, it feels like we've 'paved paradise & put up a parking lot'.  In other words, we've pushed away the good in pursuit of the 'better', when often the better is not necessarily so.   But, as we know change is often inevitable and doesn't necessarily have to be or be thought of as bad.  As Carly Simon sings in Coming Around Again, "I know nothin' stays the same, But if you're willin' to play the game, It's comin' around again".  That is to say sometimes the old has to pass for the new 'good' to have space to take its place.  Which in a way is an appropriate thought considering the day I'm writing this (Good Friday 2017).  Good Friday represents the Father--by way of Jesus--giving us an opportunity to shed our old sinful nature and take on a new more Godly (Christlike) nature.

But I digress.  We as a society (and world) are constantly changing, we are constantly adjusting.  Some it is good, some of it is bad.  But I believe we have this annoying habit of over correcting.  That is to say, making up for mistakes (or problems) by going to far in the opposite direction.   

  • We go from an unkept, undeveloped area to an overdeveloped, overpopulated area.
  • We go from isolationist to foreign entanglement, back to isolation, then foreign entanglement.  
  • We go from being emotionally detached as parents ("Father Knows Best") to trying to be friends with our kids ("Gilmore Girls").  
  • We go from treating those with behavior/mental issues being portrayed as "oddballs" or "crazy" to diagnosing every every other person (or kid) with a 'issue' of some sort.  
  • We go from treating obvious bullying as "boys/kids" being "boys/kids" to treating any level of conflict as a 'horrendous'.  

In short, we have this habit of overlooking or zooming past a happy medium on the way to 'correcting'.  It's like we start to skid one way and jerk the wheel the other way thinking that we will get straightened out, when instead we are more likely to crash in the opposite direction of the original skid.

So, this leads me to a what I see as a derivative of the Serenity Prayer.  I'll call it the "Prayer of Wisdom for Society".

God grant us the wisdom
to push for change that is needed, but not too far;
to recognize when change isn't needed or desirable
and the ability to accept that we don't always have control over it.

Realizing the old should not be rejected simply because it is old,
nor should the new be embraced simply because it is new.
But evaluating everything on its merits 
and looking to our You, our Higher Power, for guidance.

Breaking it down

  • To push for change that is needed, but not too far
    • Speech is an example.
      • We recognize speech that openly and purposefully encourages others to violence and/or explicitly threatens others, especially 'innocents'. We push for condemnation of it, denial of a forum for it and in the most extreme cases take legal action against it.
      • However, speech that speaks out against another's beliefs, another's lifestyle or similar or could simply just offend someone is protected speech.   Certainly we have a right to free speech and can condemn what we see as unfair or rude.  However, when we start denying others a right to speak (especially under threat of legal action) because we don't like what they are saying, we are edging towards fascism. 
    • Development of a beautiful vacation areas is an example.
      • Say we have a nice coastal area that is underdeveloped.  That is to say it is say it could use some revenue/development to make it a viable vacation spot.
      • If we go too far in development of it we risk destroying its ecosystem and/or the essence of it in pursuit of the almighty dollar.
  • To recognize when change isn't needed or desirable.
    • A widely recognized instance of this truth being ignored occurred when The Coca-Cola Company in April 1985 decided to change discontinue the recipe of their signature product (Coca-Cola) in favor of a new recipe for it.  A public backlash pushed them to go back to return to the old formula by July of the same year.
      • The original recipe was still widely popular and the public had great nostalgia for the name (and recipe).
      • As Pepsi Max has shown, you can successfully make a formula variant of the original brand and still retain the old brand, rather than just replacing the original brand formula altogether.
  • And the ability to accept that we don't always have control over it.
    • Sometimes circumstances force change on us.  For example, as the population of a city (or an area) grows, so grows the need for new housing and roads, making it harder to hold onto green space around town.  We may be sentimental about the quaint smaller town we grew up in, but as the population grows we often have to face the reality that in time we will have to deal with less open space, more traffic and more pollution.  All the sentimentality in the world will not change the reality of the needs on the ground.

  • Realizing the old should not be rejected simply because it is old,nor should the new be embraced simply because it is new.  But evaluating everything on its merits  and looking to our You, our Higher Power, for guidance.
    • Sometimes we get caught up in new--diet, style, car, music, idea--because it appeals to our sense of different, creative, fun, entitlement.
    • What we fail to realize that is sometimes the old is either better or it functions quite well relative to our needs.
      • For example, we may want more updated computers in our department, but the cost benefit of getting them vs. using the old ones for another year or two might not add up, especially when the old ones suit our needs quite admirably.
      • For example, society may push a new diet fad that is unproven (and possibly unhealthy) because the old diet seems stale.  Given time and results, we might find the old diet is actually much healthier or safer.
      • History is littered with 'revolutionaries' who pushed an idealistic message or system.  Yet when their message or system is put into practice, the people suffer--think Communism or Nazism.
      • If we are guided by our better self and our Higher Power, we usually realize whether we should stay with the old or go to the new.


I'm going to close this post with a personal aside.  When I was growing up 7-Eleven was the 'it' spot.  They had slurpees, they had video games, gum, candy, and little knick-knacks that a kid might want.  In short, it was a happy place we usually walked up to.  I don't think kids walk up to the store so much anymore, QT has largely eclipsed 7-Eleven and arcade games are not founds so much in stores anymore.  However, my daughter loves the heck out of QT.  They have a kitchen with the foods a kid could enjoy, they have a candy and knick-knack area and they have a beverage area that is second to none.  She'll never have the joy of running up to 7-Eleven to play games and getting treats.  But, she will always remember the 'new' hangout in our area.   Population needs changed the dynamics of the area, but the change wasn't totally for the bad.  A happy place from your childhood is still a happy place.

Don't it always seem to go / That you don't know what you've got til its gone / They paved paradise / And put up a parking lot

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Surviving before thriving

Thursday at work I was talking to one of my coworkers about the book and movie, "The Shack".  I haven't made it through the book fully, but anyone who knows that book or movie knows it's a story of a man's struggle with himself and God as he comes to terms with the abduction and death of his young daughter on his watch.  As a father of a young girl, that book kind of got to me.

Anyway, the takeaway from our discussion was survival.  Life deals us blows from time to time and usually we can absorb them, process them, shrug them off and move forward pretty quickly.  However, on a few occasions the blow are so deep and profound that we can't just do that. Sometimes, it is just enough to survive them, never mind trying to process them.

So, it occurred to me, what do we do in the process of surviving.
  • We consider the basics of what we need.  Depending on the loss, this could include
    • Planning and burying a relative.
    • Working on maintaining/recovering our health.
    • Making sure the needs of our children are met.
    • Making sure our basic needs are met including a roof over our head.
  • We process what we need to at the time.  Depending on the loss, this could include:
    • Understanding our loved one isn't there & will no longer be there.
    • Taking the steps necessary to deal with our illness or recovery.
    • Understanding that our house has been destroyed or taken away from us and that we will no longer be able to stay there.
  • We push aside the things that either don't matter or that can be deferred until later.  This can involve.
    • Delaying a major purchases.
    • Delaying or altering a vacation.
    • Cutting back on all but necessary spending.
    • Focusing on taking care of our (and our family's) own needs rather than trying to help everyone else.
    • Allowing other to do things for us while we recover.
  • We take the daily steps that we need to.   Depending on the loss, these could include:
    • Focusing on our recovery.
    • Pay the bills we need to.
    • Getting ready for the day.
    • Going to work, school or whatever the day demands.
    • Eating when we need to.
    • Making sure the kids or pets have what they need.
    • Process a little, vent/cry a little.


All that being said, it occurred to me what is surviving?  To me surviving is like the necessary taking steps to keep an old car running until you've have the means or have saved up enough for a new car.  The sub points are how it relates to life.
  • You put what you need to into the old car.  Your focus is expending only on keeping it running.
    • You energies are invested what you need to do to survive.  Not much more.
  • You limit driving in the old car to extend the life of it.
    • You limit your focus daily to making it through another day.
  • All the while, you are trying to save enough and/or make enough to make the purchase of a new car more feasible.  
    • Little by little survival mode yields to processing the blow and all that it means.
    • Gradually you get out of survival mode and you start to 'thrive again'.
      • Opening up and seeing people again after a loved one dies.
      • Recovering from or learning to live with health issues.
      • Financially recovering enough to make major purchases again.

Anyone who has been through a major blow, a major life change, a major loss and survived to tell the tale, will tell you half the battle is survival.  It may seem like forever until we are in a better place, but somewhere, somehow we know that there can be a better place for us.  There can be a place where we can thrive again.  Just like Job, when everything was taken away from him and he was suffering, he stayed firm in his faith.  Because of his faith, he was blessed with a larger family and a twofold inheritance (Job 42:8-17)   Now I don't expect everyone who keeps survives the bad times, keeps strong and keeps the faith will be reward so handsomely.  However, I do think there is an object lesson there.  Know that if you work on surviving the bad times when you need to, work on processing them along the way and work on getting to a better place you can, you can go from surviving to thriving or at least coming to a place of serenity.


Now for some music to encourage everyone to keep on moving in the face of adversary.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Are you pushing necessary society change or just avoiding yourself?

One time I was observing a group on the news disrupting a church service attended by a certain politician.  They used the forum to try to push their agenda.  I won't identify the issue or actors as I don't want to distract from the larger point.  But, I wondered what made their agenda so important that they felt the need to shut down the service and the harass the politician attending it?  A possible answer occurred to me:  People sometimes find it less painful to 'change' society than to accept themselves or change what they don't like about themselves.  In short, for some people forcing everyone to 'accept' them or their agenda is easier than coming to terms with themselves.  That is to say, they are unwilling to do the emotional, spiritual or mental lifting required to come to terms with themselves and would rather push society toward 'validating' them--even if such validation would be forced.

Before I dive into this topic further, I want to make a few notes or disclaimers as I see it.
  • I don't mean to dismiss the need for social change in some areas.  Nor do I mean to dismiss the right or need to protest for such.  Women's suffrage and destroying the Jim Crowe legacy were clear examples of the need for and the right to protest for change.  I believe, most people when you stripped away the excuses and rationalizations realized at the time that women should have an equal vote in our republic and that no one should be denied service due to the color of the skin they were born with.  Clearly, pushing societal change was the right thing to do.
  • Sometimes people pushing for social change might do so for different reasons.  One because he or she has inner demons to deal with, while the other would due to a sincere belief in that cause.  Still another might have mixed motives. I'm focusing on the person who is using a 'cause' as an excuse to not deal with their personal demons.
  • People shouldn't generally be forced to buy into an idea or change.
    • It can speak of arrogance to those pushing it.  As if there idea or change is THE only right one.  Some ideas/changes aren't necessarily the right direction no matter how forcefully pushed.  See Nazi Germany as an extreme example.
    • Doing so can cause problems with the idea or change taking effectively.  This is especially true when other parties are denied a voice in the process.  Our Constitution anticipated this and while not perfect put processes in place: Having Congress write laws, having the executive branch enforce them, having SCOTUS review the laws for Constitutionality and giving us a process to amend the Constitution to seek consensus where there is not clarity.  
      • Changes done Constitutionally rather than by fiat, I believe have a better history of going more smoothly.  Constitutional amendments are rarely questioned today vs. those done by fiat as there is a sense of being better settled.
      • Changes done by fiat can also be undone by fiat.  If feel you were denied a voice in a change, you won't have as much of an issue with rolling back the change outside Constitutional boundaries.
    • Not everyone has to buy into an idea or change.
      • Sometimes forcing them to do so is to deny them their first amendment rights (to speak out).
      • If the change is for the better, society is more likely to gradually embrace it anyway. 
      • So ideas or changes don't require everyone to buy into them to become effective.

So back to my main point.  It occurred to me that some of the people pushing the hardest, shrieking the loudest and/or tolerating no dissent sometimes are doing so because of inner demons they have regarding the issue or change they are pushing.  In short, as Shakespeare said in Hamlet, "The lady doth protest too much methinks".

To wit:
  • Mark Foley, a champion against child pornography and who led the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children and led pushed for stronger laws to protect children against possible pornographic exploitation with the Child Modeling Exploitation Prevention Act of 2002.  The Act failed in part due to its overly broad nature.  In any case,  in 2006, he had to resign in disgrace from Congress when he was exposed to have have sexted underage pages.
    • On the one hand he practically carried 'protection' of children on his shoulders by himself, but on the other hand he struggled with exploiting underage boys. 
    • It is important to protect children and they need champions for them in high places. However, the extent that he pushed for 'protecting children' ultimately appeared to be either a cover for or a shame reaction for his own demons. 
  • In Oregon, a Christian couple was being pushed to bake a cake for a reception of a gay wedding, when it was probably obvious that they were "Christian-owned" business (Sweet Cakes).  My understanding it that they were likely not comfortable with the idea of 'condoning' gay marriage by participating in the celebration thereof.  They balked citing their faith and ultimately had their business and livelihood destroyed.
    • As they were located near Portland, OR, a number of similar businesses nearby could easily have met the wedding cake request.  This was likely known the couple who requested the cake.
    • The couple that requested the cake, were probably aware of the the nature of the business, but instead of turning the other cheek (and respecting that a faith-based business could disagree with them), they pushed forward and sued the bakery into oblivion.
    • Instead of accepting that others could disagree with celebrating their lifestyle choice based on freedom of religion, it would seem that they were determined to 'force' society into complete acceptance and condoning of their lifestyle choice.  
    • It wasn't enough that the state accepted and condoned their lifestyle choice, the couple seemed to 'need' additional validation of their choice and couldn't accept that anyone could disagree with celebrating it (even if their faith dictated that).  In short, accept and celebrate us even if it is against your sincere and traditional religious beliefs OR we will shut you down.
    • My take is that in some of these cases, the 'advocates' would rather prove to everyone (and to themselves) how righteous they are by trying to force everyone else to agree, rather than reaching deep inside them and accepting that that is isn't necessary.  In short, forcing society to artificially 'validate' them rather than being comfortable with who they are.  

I'm not going to be the referee of what causes are worthy to push for provided that the 'innocent' aren't hurt nor is our safety or security.  I'm not going to tell others how to live.  Ultimately, I believe that each of us has to answer to our "Higher Power".  That being said, I don't want my right to free speech or free exercise of my faith smothered by a 'need' of another to be at peace with his or herself or their agenda.  That I believe is the start of fascism.  The very act of shutting or crushing another's freedoms for your own comfort or benefit is fascist in my humble opinion.

As Evelyn Beatrice Hall said, "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it".  This applies to the right to practice your faith.  The Constitution doesn't guarantee a right to be free of being offended. 


My takeaway?
  1. You have a right to express your Constitutionally protected beliefs.
  2. You do not have a right to deny others the same regardless of your 'needs'.
  3. If you are too damaged to cope with others having an alternative belief to you, you probably need to work on yourself.  
  4. If you 'require' or need to 'force' others to agree with you to have peace in your life, that's an indication that you probably need to work on yourself.
  5. If your first instinct is to try and shut other down rather than convince them, its a clear indication that you have fascist tendencies and need to work on yourself.

I know this post was controversial, but I've got to be true to myself.  My journey through understanding addiction, codependence and human nature is intended to help others, but is not intended to be a whitewash of how I see things.  It is intended to give a perspective perhaps that hasn't occurred to everyone or even anyone.  I know that I am not anywhere near being always right and try to own when I'm not.  However, it is most important to me to express things as I see them.  As I've told a few others when I 'see' unpleasant 'truths', I don't enjoy it and sometimes I wish and hope what I 'see' isn't so.

Thanks for reading and I hope this hasn't at least given you food for thought or at possible understanding of what drives some people.

- Rich

Friday, March 24, 2017

2016: The Happy Gilmore Election

I normally don't get political in my blog.  It really is meant to be study or observations on  addiction/codependent behavior and human nature.  But, an insight I had this week was too good to pass up.  I will try to be somewhat even-handed about it as I really don't want this to be a springboard for arguments on politics.  Really, it is meant to be a humorous observation/take on the 2016 election and the human nature behind it.  So, here goes.

I think it's fairly safe to say that most people (but not all) were surprised by the results of the 2016 Presidential Election.  But, in hindsight, it shouldn't have been that big of a surprise.  Think Happy Gilmore and you'll understand. Let's break the election down and compare it to Happy Gilmore for some perspective.

Many Trump supporters:

  • Like in Happy Gilmore, they were new to the game.
    • Trump picked up large crowds, many of whom were in large part new to the political process. 
    • Happy picked up large crowds many of whom were not new to golf.
  • Their 'hero' was unconventional.
    • Happy was a lifelong hockey player turned pro-golfer.
    • Trump was lifelong businessman turned Presidential candidate.
  • Their 'hero' was not political correct 
    • Happy had outbursts on the course and openly vented his frustration unlike conventional golfers.
    • Trump does stream of conscience speaking & tweeting in a way unlike conventional politicians.
  • They saw an establishment that had contempt for them.  They saw Hillary as arrogant like "Shooter MacGavin". They saw Shooter as someone who despised Happy as Hillary seemed to with Trump.
  • Their 'hero' was the underdog whom the establishment tried to block at points.

Many Hillary supporters:
  • Saw Trump as uncouth/improper oaf, just as Shooter & much of the 'respected' golf establishment saw Happy.
  • Saw Trump as a dangerous potential leader who would 'go off'' without warning in Tweets and who would cause diplomatic rows.  Just like Shooter saw Happy as an 'unhinged' idiot who could be thrown off balance and who'd be prone to problems, like Happy was when he brawled with Bob Barker after being heckled mercilessly. 
  • Many saw a lot of Trump's supporters as being racist/redneck in the way that Shooter saw many of Happy's fans as lacking etiquette.
  • Couldn't imagine that she could lose to Trump, just like Shooter couldn't believe that he could lose to such a graceless buffoon.  
  • Shocked and stunned when she lost, just as Shooter was when he did. 

  • Happy, like Trump was new to the scene, upsetting the old order and making enemies, but his outrageous style also peaked the golfing world's interest, just like Trump peaked the political world's interest.
    • Much of the golfing establishment was appalled by Happy, but he was kept in the game to drive up attendance and ratings.
    • Trump appalled much of the establishment, but he drew media attention with his words and tweets.  He was kept high profile as it was good for ratings.
  • Happy like Trump was at one point thought to be a fluke who'd fade into the background, but defied expectations and stayed in the game like Trump stayed in the race. 
  • Happy collected wins as did Trump along the way.
    • For Happy first it was it was wagers, then it became a local tournament, then it became the professional tour.
    • For Trump, first it was a close Iowa, then NH and South Carolina, Super Tuesday and off to the races.
  • A few in the old order supported Happy, like a few in the old order supported Trump.
    • PR head Virginia Venit for Happy in Happy Gilmore.
    • Sen. Jeff Sessions for Trump.
  • Both at their peak had some stumbles.
    • Happy
      • He lost the AT&T open badly.
      • He got into a fight with Bob Barker after he was heckled by 'plant'.
      • His coach Chubbs Peterson falls to his death after being spooked by an alligator head.
      • He loses the house in auction to Shooter MacGavin and must win the "Tour Championship" to get the house from him.
      • On the final day of the Tour Championship, a crazy man hired by Shooter runs Happy down injuring him. Later overeager fans up up climbing up and knocking over a tower which obstructs the final hole for Happy.
    • Trump
      • He had setbacks in Colorado, Wisconsin and few other states.
      • He had a few setbacks with Tweet storms that were controversial
      • He had a setback with the Access Hollywood tape.
  • Both recovered and won
    • Trump blitzed across battleground states in the fading days and won with close victories in a few key states when few thought he would win. He also overcame his controversies.
    • Happy learned to better manage his temper and he practiced his putting at a mini-golf course and got better at it.  He kept up with Shooter on the first 3 days of the "Tour Championship", but was thrown off on the last day.  At the end, when the course become impossible, somehow Happy played the impossible course (using his mini-golf skills) and dramatically won.

I believe that like Trump, people had strong feelings about both the character Happy and the movie Happy Gilmore.  Many love Trump, like many in the movie loved Happy.  However, there are many that despise him, like there were many in the movie that despised Happy.  Like Trump himself, many see the movie as a "Cult classic".  Others see the movie as another juvenile pile, just like Trump himself.


Anyway, my takeaways from this blog are the following.

  1. If we see this as a Happy Gilmore election you will understand why Trump won.  He was different and underestimated at many points in the election. like Happy was.  Trump's fans at rallies really did translate into votes.  Just like Happy's fans on the course, helped encourage him.
  2. Just like Happy, Trump won the "Tour Championship".  It was called the "November election".
  3. It remains to be seen if Trump succeeds like Happy did.  Happy not only won the Tour Championship, but he got Grandma's house back.  Trump won the "Tour Championship", but it remains to be seen if he gets back grandma's house (has a successful term).
  4. If you get too mad reading this post, you need to lighten up and see it as sarcastic as it is meant.  Yes, I realize the Presidency is a serious matter, but it's nice to be able to laugh at the serious stuff occasionally.

All I have to say is this.  After reading this, I hope you are all Happy.  HAHA.


Saturday, March 18, 2017

Loneliness is such a sad affair

It's amazing, we live in cities with tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands or millions of people, yet we somehow find a way to be lonely.  I'm not necessarily saying lonely all the time, but you know we all have our moments.  For some people, the moments are occasional, but for others the moments are lasting and seemingly without end.

The anniversary of my marriage was the other day.  We were pretty low key about it.  It's not that we didn't consider it important, but we consider it a step in a lifelong process. In my first marriage, we focused too much on reaching and celebrating the milestones and not enough time on the health of the relationship.  So, for me, I look forward to us working together and letting the milestones come naturally and then taking time to celebrate them rather than making a production of reaching and planning them.   We've had many really good moments in which it all seems to click, but we've also had growing pains.  Unfortunately, blended families rarely work as smoothly as The Brady Bunch.  There is a period of time it takes for everyone to get know and trust each other  Anyway, our schedules do not always permit us to spend us much time as we'd like getting to know each other and/or discussing what we need to.  Any married couple with two working parents, I'm sure can relate.  This leads to moments of loneliness in which we feel the other can't always be there for our daily life challenges, concerns or triumphs.  So, it is our goal in the next year to find enough or make enough 'us' time to help with that.

This all got me to thinking about loneliness.  I believe everyone has times of loneliness in which they realize it is just them and their Higher Power (God).  For example, my wife is aware of and empathizes with my current neck injury and I her knee injury, but neither of us has experienced the specific injury problem/level of the other.  Therefore, there is a certain amount of loneliness we have in dealing with our injuries.  I imagine when a spouse has cancer it is sort of like that too.  You support him or her as much as you can, but ultimately, they have to be the one who battles it.


So, how would I classify the types of loneliness.  Based on what I've experienced, on what I've seen in others and on what I can surmise, here is a breakdown of loneliness.

  • Where you miss the closeness of family.  The following are circumstances that could lead to familial loneliness. 
    • Your family of origin is not very close-knit.  For whatever reasons the bonds you see in 'perfect' families never fully took, stuck or were available.  
      • You never really knew your family--this can either be immediate family (such as a missing parent) or extended family (such as aunts/uncles/cousins/grandparents).
      • You knew them but for whatever reason or dysfunction there was a lack of closeness.
    • You family of origin is scattered or busy.  Getting together can be an undertaking in some circumstances.
    • Your family of origin has been decimated.  As we get older we lose those who have been a fixture of our family.  This can secondarily lead to a breakdown of remaining family.  Unfortunately, for me, this type of circumstance has hit close to home.
  • Where you miss the closeness of friends.  The following are circumstances that could lead to this type of loneliness.
    • You have few if any friends.  
      • No man is an island.  We all need to be part of a bigger gang.
      • People are generally social creatures and best thrive when surrounded by friends.
    • You have few close friends
      • You may have a lot of acquaintances, people you see at work, church or wherever.
      • However, at the end of the day, you may not really have much of anyone to be able to call on.  To me that is the definition of closeness.
    • You have close friends, but they are often unavailable.
      • They have a busy schedule and it is hard to find time with them.
      • You are separated by significant distance and it is hard to get together easily with them.
  • Where you miss the closeness of a romantic relationship/marriage family.  The following are circumstances that could lead to relational loneliness
    • You are single and unattached.  While being single has its perks, one of the drawbacks is not having someone to curl up with and hear "I love you".
    • You have a relationship/marriage which is by strife and disconnect.  Relationships on balance are meant to be a safe place for us.  One where we can share our joys, fears and all other feelings in between.  When this is limited or nonexistent in a relationship, it can feel vary isolated.  Isolation of course can lead to the disintegration of a relationship.

  • Where you wonder about your role.
    • Sometimes we might seem like we are just another cog in the wheel at our job.
    • Sometimes we wonder if we were not present, would anyone care that much.
    • Sometimes in our group (friends/family/etc), we can be just another voice and not necessarily feel like an important one.
    • Sometimes we might wonder about our role in the cosmic scheme.  That is do we matter to or in our Higher Power's universe (God).
  • Where you wonder about your impact.
    • Sometimes we wonder if we are making a positive difference in the lives of others.
    • Sometimes we wonder if we are raising our children in the best way.  That is are we being the best leader.
    • Sometimes we wonder if we are doing anything significant in the world are or we just replaceable?
  • Where you wonder about your legacy.
    • Sometimes we wonder if we were gone if we'd be forgotten or missed that much.
    • Sometimes we wonder if after we are long gone will there be any sign that we mattered.
      • Lasting impact in the lives of others--lives that we positively changed.
      • A 'monument' to what we left behind.  It could be things we built or created, ideas/concepts/writings that we shared, a marker that we mattered somewhere.
  • Where you wonder about your eternal destiny.
    • We think about this during our lives, but we might consider it more as our health starts to deteriorate.
    • We might wonder if we be 'punished' or 'rewarded' for the life we lived and the ideal we tried to follow.
    • We might wonder if we will see those we lost along the way.
    • We might wonder if we will even have any sense of self or awareness after the final curtain has gone down.
    • We might wonder if there is any real existence after this life has passed.  (All we are is dust in the wind?)


As I indicated previously, I believe that everyone experiences loneliness of a sort at some time or another in their life.  I think it's unavoidable and can even be beneficial in that it can help clarify who or what really matters in our life.  As social creatures if we feel too much loneliness, I believe we have a tendency to try to assuage it.  That's not necessarily a bad thing, I believe we have to keep a few questions in mind when trying to lessen or assuage loneliness.

  • Is the amount of 'loneliness' we feel reasonable to expect or feel, especially relative to our situation?  
    • Is it excessive and indicates a mental health issue?
    • Is it excessive and indicates a need to interact or connect more with others?
  • Are we spending too much time, effort and trouble trying to 'remedy' it and not enough effort accepting it as 'part of life'.
    • We can recognize some loneliness is okay and doesn't need to be 'cured'.
    • We can recognize our efforts to 'cure' our loneliness may be way out of wack with the extent of loneliness we are feeling.
      • Just because we are feeling kind of lonely doesn't mean we have to go out every night looking for others to 'cure' it.
  • Are we mistaking the type(s) of loneliness we are feeling?
    • If we feel too much existential loneliness, trying to deal with or 'cure' it with a relationship is probably a mistake.
      • Family/friends can support us, but they can't be our reason for being or our crutch to avoid dealing with existential loneliness.
      • If we focus on using relationships to solve our existential loneliness, we may end up with too many, too new, too involved, too entangled or some other unhealthy relationship issue.  Ultimately, while others can help support us and help us walk through life, it is up to our and our Higher Power to work out the existential questions.
    • If we feel too much relational loneliness, trying to 'cure' it with an 'existential' solution is likely a mistake.
      • While it is important for us to feel like and be driven by a purpose in life, a purpose will not replace the benefits of healthy relationships with others.
      • While it is important to focus on our purpose, we can't necessarily focus on a purpose 24/7/365.  Even if we throw our lives into a purpose, there will be downtimes in which it will be hard to relational loneliness.
    • Like resentment, we can only ignore or suppress relational loneliness for so long before it blows up in our face.
      • We will search for an outlet to 'fix' it and it may not be a very healthy one.
      • Our purpose may very well suffer if it has to compete with too much relational loneliness.

I guess my takeaway on the matter of loneliness would ultimately be this:
  • Some loneliness is okay and even expected.  It can also be a positive driver for change.
  • It is important to know when work on changing it and when to learn to accept it (serenity).
  • It is important to recognize the type and degree of loneliness you are facing so you can address it the proper way.
  • At the end of the day, after we strip it all away, it is between us and our Higher Power, but we are given the gift of family and friends just as Adam was in Genesis to support us in life.

Loneliness can be such a sad affair, but like much else in life it is how you choose to deal or cope with it when it is present that can help determine just how sad it is.

This is one of the most hauntingly sad songs that I've heard.  Knowing how she lived and died and how alone she must have felt as she struggled with anorexia 

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Honor vs. Duty vs. Checking off a Box

I was talking to a friend recently about family.  We came to the determination that sometimes a family's engagement with each other is colored by their faith or beliefs to the extent that they feel compelled to interact with each other.  The idea being that if certain members had their druthers they would pretty well ignore the others.  In other words since the "Good Book" says "honor thy father and mother" and the like, certain family members will humor the others out of a sense of "following the rules".   In other words, in order to be a "proper" Christian, Catholic, or whatever, you should be 'good' to family, even if it is just effectively for show.

We talked it about in terms of honor vs. duty, when I think what we really were considering was a third idea.  That is, checking off a box to their Higher Power or others they want to please.  The box says 'I did what I was supposed to' or 'I made an effort'.  Below, I will explore each of these concepts.


  • From the Army's website, is a matter of carrying out, acting, and living the values of respect, duty, loyalty, selfless service, integrity and personal courage in everything you do. I believe this is commonly how people see it.
  • Essentially, it is doing the right thing because you know it is the right thing to do.  That is to say, you wish to live a life of respect and purpose.  Respect not just for our Higher Power & others, but respect for yourself.  
  • I see it as doing what you know is right and not looking back or second guessing, you just do (often without even pausing to think about it).
  • Many people join the military or otherwise take professions in which they put their life on the line due to a sense of honor.  They feel like they are meant to help others, it is their purpose.
  • I buried my mom, my dad & my immediate older brother out of a sense of honor.  The family needed someone who would make sure each was done right in their final journey.  This included planning & preparing for their memorials/funerals, giving them a respectful eulogy, directing obituaries & making sure that where a shortfall occurred that the funds necessary would be provided to make all of this happen.  It was very draining and it sure wasn't any fun.  But for me, I knew taking care of them and those left behind in those moments was just what needed to be done, period.

  • The English Oxford Living Dictionaries first definition of duty is as follows: A moral or legal obligation; a responsibility.
  • I separate it from honor, because I see duty as something that is often done because there is a requirement to do it.  Meaning, while you respect the legal or moral requirement to do it, there may not be a greater sense of purpose or 'honor' that goes along with doing your 'duty'.
  • While doing something out of duty may not be as noble of doing it out of honor, there is a certain level of respect that is earned for doing someone who does out of duty.  While it may not be as profound as the respect earned for doing something out of honor, it still deserves respect.
  • For me, duty might be making sure your child is properly clothed, fed, educated and kept warm and safe.  It could also be making sure you do your best to do your job well.  In other words, doing the things that we are supposed to, even when we are feeling tired or short on enthusiasm.

  • To me duty implies a sincerity of purpose.  I made this category to cover when we are doing something because we believe it is expected of us, because it will 'look good' or because we have this moral 'law-based' obligation to do it.  When we do something based on any of those, we are hollow inside about it.  In short, we are insincere about purpose and/or are going through the motions.
  • An extreme case of this is illustrated in the Bible.  In Matthew 23:1-12, Jesus condemned the Pharisees as zealots who would tie heavy, law-based loads onto those they led and make a show of 'observing the law' when in reality at best they were observing the letter of the law, but not the spirit of it.  They would often display their 'piety' publicly for show, while privately having no little or no piety.  They'd rationalize that they were set because they 'followed the rules'.
  • Sometimes, we have to check off a box when the rules or regulations or restrictions are so ridiculous that we are forced to jump through hoops (such as when starting a business).  However, what I am meaning is our personal actions being dictated by a need to make ourselves feel better (rationalize) or to appear proper.  An example of this is inviting nearby family over once a year on the holidays because our 'faith' tells us to love each other.  Yet, the balance of the year is spent ignoring them.  To me, that's not family, getting together with people because you are related to them.

I'm not sure what the takeaway from this particular blog is except this: Not everything we do in our lives is out of honor.  Many of our actions are done out of duty and there is plenty to be celebrated there as many do not even meet the basics of that.  However, I believe if our personal actions are largely dictated by the need to 'check off a box', then it is time we reexamine our lives.  That may mean stopping the insincere parts of our lives (such as pretending to be a friend, when we don't want to be one) OR adjusting our frame of mind (respecting that God gave us family and even if they aren't perfect learning to appreciate the gift of family he gave us).

I know this seems like a bit of a judgmental blog, but when often times when I write, I write with a mirror in hand to examine where I can improve or meet  the ideals I espouse.  After considering a little, I guess my secondary takeaway is to be honest with yourself and what animates your action(s).  Only by reflection can we improve.

Thanks for reading and I hope to post again soon.

-- Rich

I believe Eric Clapton honored the memory of his son with this song.  This was a love song to his son who passed way too soon.  This song often brings tears to my eyes listening to it.