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Thursday, August 25, 2016

Finding Jewels in the Darkness, part 2 (sensitive and not seeing only clouds on a mostly sunny day)

Once again, I heard a song that for some reason has stuck with me for the past few years and I remember the first time it really started to like it.  Before, I go there, I must confess something that anyone who really knows me knows (even when I sometimes try to hide it).  At time I have a profoundly deep sensitive side.  It's not sensitive as in "weak", but sensitive as in I feel a range of emotions and I often can 'feel' the human experience very profoundly in myself and others.  Raised by a dad who didn't show emotions and who was deeply uncomfortable with 'feelings' being expressed, I learned to hide this side of me or at least not own up to it.  I've come to realize that as it says in the Bible,

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens (Ecclesiastes 3:1).
 A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance (Ecclesiastes 3:4) 

In other words, God understands and appreciates a sensitive side to his creation. Of course, society has always pretty well accepted that women can have a sensitive side, but it has only been in more recent decades that we've accepted the same in a man (at least openly recognizing it anyway).  Anyway, I've come to see it not as a curse, but as a blessing.  It has allowed me to be better able to feel and relate, understand, empathize and what I refer to as "sensing a disturbance in The Force").   However, while having a sensitive side is good and letting on to at times is good, like most everything in life there are limits.  For example, while we want our President to connect with us by showing anguish in a time of national hurt such as 9/11, we don't want our President to be a complete blubbering pile of goo at such times.  In my own life, I have revealed deep hurt (and tears of joy) a few times to my own daughter, but I know I can't afford the luxury of her seeing me upset on a regular basis, even if at times I might feel that way.  She needs to see in her dad that it is safe to have feelings, even vulnerable I'm feeling upset type feelings.  However, she needs to know that her I am strong enough to protect and guide her as well.  So, like I figure, a balance.

Anyway, the Song was "Grease" performed by Frankie Valli.  I'm sure I'd heard it many times and you know probably thought it was from a musical, meaning geared towards the other gender.   I'm supposing I was okay with it though.  In any case, this night that I had heard it, it was a fairly early stage in my divorce and I was VERY underemployed with other trials going on at that time.  I was very down.  It was about 2-3am in the morning and I was getting off of work.  I dunno, but when I heard it, for whatever reason, I connected with the song in a profound way.  For some reason, I finally focused on it enough to know that it is a coming of age song.  The messages I got from it were: that you can make it if you believe in who you are, that life as we know it is in many ways just an illusion and that our purpose is not always immediately clear.  Anyway, I will never forget that song, that early morning as long as I live and perhaps in some ways that was a turning point towards being in a better place.

I don't know if I'm an empath, but I know I have some of the tendencies for better or worse (as did my brother Bill).  But, how I tie this together is that this was a step along the road in realizing and accepting who I was--a sensitive person and possible empath.

As the title implied there are two parts to this blog entry.  The second part is the "seeing only clouds on a sunny day".   It's funny, we are taught to see the "silver lining" in the clouds.  In other words, the positives even in the darkest of times.  However, I believe as humans we have this tendency to gripe and moan about things in our life and overlook the fact that perhaps we may not have it so bad after all.

As I've mentioned in a previous blog, I came to realize that failure is a default position.  It is easy to fail.  You don't have to do anything to fail.  In some cases, it is precisely by doing nothing that we fail.  In other words, failure is the easy path.  Similarly, I think it is human nature to focus on the negatives.  As a fallen creation, in this life we face trials and struggles which can seem overwhelming.   In this context it is easy to focus on the struggles or imperfections.  However, if we peel below the surface we may just see things aren't that bad.  We in pretty decent health, we have a roof over our head, we have reliable transportation and we have a steady paycheck which allow our basic needs to be met.  Additionally, we may have a loving partner who cares about us and loves us though not necessarily always likes us.  Focusing on the struggles in this context is like seeing only clouds on a mostly sunny day.

It is at this times, we need to write or recite our daily gratitude list.


The takeaway from this blog for me is twofold.  The Jewels to be found in the darkness are:

  • Yourself and your good points about you.
  • That if you peel away the below the surface or see beyond the clouds, you may just find that your life is not a mostly cloudy day, but instead a mostly sunny day with an occasional cloud.

GOD, grant me the serenity
to accept the things
I cannot change, 

Courage to change the
things I can, and the
wisdom to know the difference. 

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardship as the
pathway to peace. 

Taking, as He did, this
sinful world as it is, 
not as I would have it. 

Trusting that He will make
all things right if I
surrender to His Will; 

That I may be reasonably happy
in this life, and supremely
happy with Him forever in
the next. 

Karl Paul Reinhold Niebuhr

SEE: Finding Jewels in the Darkness

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The insane voice, installment 4: Random bag of goodies...

I don't know if 'zany' or 'eccentric' thinking is a product of venting stress, of expressing existing insanity, shaking things up a little or expressing comic relief.  Either way, I think everyone has what I call an 'insane' voice.  Some just deny it, some suppress it, some let it out for a bit and then there are some that just live it-- the Robin Williams of the world, RIP.

In other case, it's time for another installment of "The insane voice".  In no particular order.
  • So, I was at QT the other day near my work and they got slammed around lunchtime.  I think their customers must have been making a little noise chatting it out in line because as I was checking out, a thought occurred to me.  Should I say to the clerk aloud where others could here it:  Did the local mental hospital just let out their patients out on a field trip?  But, I thought it wouldn't go over well and the good people of Alton might not see the humor.  
  • So, my daughter and I were driving along and we saw a person running.  I had this crazy idea.  What if Olivia and I turned the corner as quickly as we could stopped the car, got out and ran as fast as we could to catch up to her and I had Olivia say, "See I told you Dad, I knew we could catch up".  I'd have Olivia do the dirty work for better comic relief.  Meanwhile the runner would be like what the ..
  • You can take a horse to water, but you may drown it..
    • You can take a horse to water
    • And with enough manpower you can try to force him to drink
    • But, there's a very good chance you will drown it in in the process
    • And you will end up in jail for cruelty to animals.
      • Moral of the story: You may be able to pressure family or a friend to do something that they aren't ready for.  But, there's a good chances are it won't end up well for you or them.
  • Every notice that often times people as they pass through middle age, they start talking about dying and death a bit irrelevantly.  While death has a sense of humor--see the Darwin awards--death isn't phased by our mocking it.
  • I always advise friends when dealing with relationship problems or if they feel like they are always being singled out to just admit up front: I know I'm a bad person.  This will undermine your significant other's ability to blame or shame you.   If you are 'sincere' enough, your significant other may even actually stick up for you and tell you your good points.  
  •  As a parent who likes to prepare his child for handling emergency situations (and is aware that she hears enough of it at her mom's place, at school and sometimes at my place), it occurred to me some great advice to give her.  Somehow the topic came up of a fire somewhere.  So, with my keen insight, I asked he what would she do if her clothes caught on fire.   She said, "Stop, drop and roll".  I said, "Good".  I then asked her what we should do if we had a tire blow out on the road.  She wasn't sure what to say, so I told her: "Stop, drop and roll".  She looked at me like lost my mind.  After mentioning a few other scenarios, she caught on to my brilliant advice and each time said, "Stop, drop and roll".  I am so proud of my daughter <3 
  • As we all know, this election season has literally gone on forever and at times we all wonder, "wow out of over 300,000,000, this is the best we can do"?   Anyway, I thought, this hasn't exactly been the most honest campaign.   Then I had an epiphany.   Since, there is some question on the definition of "natural born citizen" and what not anyway,,why not just say forget it and let Julian Assange of WikiLeaks run for POTUS.  Since it seems like everyone and their brother and sister has declared at one time or another this campaign, since this campaign has been plagued by hostility by all parties and since we all question the honesty of the candidates, Assange would be great.  He'd make a perfect honesty and integrity candidate and we'd know we'd get the true story leaked out.  So, why not.
  •  On November 9th, I'm considering declaring my candidacy for the 2020 Presidential election, no matter who wins.  My theme: R.A. Shepard/2020 for President: For my amusement.  I figure when asked, candidates usually give some bogus, "Give back to the country", "Serve the nation", "Help others" or some other such answer.  We all know the real answer is: Because I love the power and perks of the office.  I'd just be cutting to the chase.  I will be running for the Presidency such that if elected I will run the office and use my authority to test whatever theory I want to out.  My plank will include:
    • Tenured professors at schools which receive government aid WILL BE REQUIRED to teach one whole semester wearing a jester hat.  Then at the end of the semester they will compare and contrast how well that semester went for their students vs. semesters that they did not have to.  
    • I will find some characteristic to discriminate on that isn't subject to anti-discriminatory laws and discriminate accordingly.   For example, I could have a test group of men with goatees and women with curly hair.  I could effectively push that those two groups get better treatment at tax time than all others.  I would then see how those that do not fall in those groups react.  Things I could survey for include:
      • How many not in the favored group would just take the abuse--I figure there are the self-loather subset. 
      • The percentage of the population that purposely grows goatees or curls their hair just to get the beneficial treatment.  
      •  I could then stretch out the absurd favoritism to see how much further I could manipulate the populace to more and more absurd ends to gain advantage.
      • How many times, a Congress critter talks about reaching across the aisle and/or refers to their fellow Congress critters as "my friend on the other side of the aisle".  Each time they are caught saying such cliched statements insincerely, they'd have power to their microphone be cut and they'd be sent to time out.  I'd be curious how long it would take for them to stop using insincere cliched statements.
    • Confer that future primaries for the parties submit to an American Gladiator type competition to see which of each of the parties was most "fit" to serve.
    • Require that all those who want to serve in my administration be required to sing one of the following songs when testifying before Congress to get my nomination (This would buy the country great comic relief and would show me who really, really wants to serve at 'all cost')
    • I'd the spirit of transparency.  I'd let the public know that I'd release the results of my survey findings in January 2024.  This would give the public plenty of time to decide if they want for more year of my "unique" Presidency or they wanted the usual boring political theater.
As time marches on and as we are becoming a more "blunt" and "outspoken" and "reality TV" and more bread and circus in our campaigns.  I figure the the country will be ripe for a truly "Reality Presidency".  

To my faithful audience thanks for your care and attention in reading my "insane thoughts".  Until next time.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

What's love got to do with it?

I was at a concert the other day and noted how me and my friend Jennie each had someone with us that cared for and cared about us.  Anyone who knows my history knows that relationship have been something I've had to work at, but I digress.  But I can say that I have been loved along the way and that for some reason my wife Kristi seems to have warm fuzzy feelings towards me, even when I don't feel lovable.

I was thinking about my late brother and how he had never gotten married and never was even close to it.  I know one of things that always got to him was that he never truly felt loved.  He was loved more than he realized, but I digress. Thinking about that actually made me pretty sad, BUT it also made me realize something.   Finding someone who truly loves you is a blessing.

Anyway, in pondering the above, I also thought about what love is and what it isn't. What is is meant to be and what it isn't meant to be.

The bible speaks on love and marriage extensively, sometimes seemingly for and against it.  See below:

But, my understanding of love is this:

  • Love is not meant to validate us.  Our validation comes from our relationship to our higher power.   Love is a gift of our higher power to help us not feel alone, isolated and unappreciated. 
  • The love of another isn't meant to make us complete us, it is meant to complement us
  • Love shouldn't be to 'fix' or 'solve our problems', but instead free us from feeling alone and unappreciated such that we can with focus on dealing with the things we need to.  I think that's at least part of what the apostle Paul was saying in 1st Corinthians above. 
In short, love and marriage are meant to enrich us, not to replace what is missing in us.  Love is meant to be beneficial to both parties and not to feed into each other's dysfunctionality.

I guess my takeaway is rely on the your higher power (God) for your validation, but appreciate the value of love which He has provided for us.