Friday Thoughts: Time

What a strange little thing. At the most basic level it is a term that represents the units used in measuring the passage of time. Whether it is seconds or centuries, it is measuring the passing of moments. Concrete concepts based on how the earth moves around the sun. But then you get into different, abstract ideas. Eons. Ages. Moments. All of them are familiar to us yet at the same time our concepts of them are slightly different.

But in a more practical sense, time is the march of days.

When I was younger, time seemed to last forever. Summer never ended and I would never grow up.

Now I am older, time seems to move in spurts. Some moments fly past, days ending almost as quickly as it began. Other days it crawls along like a dying slug. Maybe it is the side effect of being older now. Or I am just more aware of time.

Of course there are people who say “manage your time better and you’ll have more of it”. Which is true. Yet I find myself having to choose between things. To read or to watch television. Play a game or begin learning a new language. Spend time with family versus spending time to write.

Is this what life really about?

Choosing what to invest your time in? Exercise? Sleep? Relationships? Time is a commodity that everyone has and everyone has an equal amount. How we spend it helps determine where we end up in life. There are things that we can’t control in life: our starting point in society or the actions others take against us. But we can control how we react. Sometimes that means spending more time in tutoring or starting working early to get an edge in education. For others it means spending time in the hospital to deal with an illness. Or spending time after college at home to save on money. Life isn’t fair, no one starts at the same point, and things change.

But we can invest the time we are given however we want.

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Friday Thoughts: What to Believe?

Christian? Atheist? Buddhist? Cat-lover? Llama hater?

What do you believe?

The world is beautiful? The end is coming? Elvis is still alive?

This question has been asked over the ages for different reasons and different intents. What god do you serve? What religion do you follow? Which king do you support? Who do you fight for, the peasants or the nobles?

But in more recent times the questions have been more “Do you believe there is police brutality?” or “Do you think the flag represents oppression?”

What if you don’t know what to believe?

If you don’t there is a wide range of “experts” on the web that will tell you the truth. And if you disagree then you become a bigot, moron, or “you’re what’s wrong with the world”. And in some cases, you can be called all three at once.

So.

What do you believe?

What do you believe?

There is a lot going on that I don’t fully grasp or have time to devote to the research it would require in order to find the answer. Because at this point, there is too many opinions and graphs being promoted that conflict with one another. All of which serves to stir up emotions without offering a solution. For me, thinking emotionally is fine and all but I often find myself easily manipulated when I think emotionally.

Because it sounds good.

Because it feels right.

Because that’s what everyone believes and if I don’t then I am a bigot or racist or blinde or an idiot or whatever the catchphrase is this week.

But that is the problem. It is based on feelings. Emotions that can change by the hour or even by the minute. Getting lead by the heart and the heart alone can get you into serious trouble. That is how people fall for the wrong person or stay in dangerous relationships. Because they are only listening to their emotions.

Logic, as hard and cold as it can be, serve as a balance to the knee-jerk as heartstrings are pulled by the news and opinions.

Of course, going completely ice-cold logic is an easy way to become ruthless and harmful to your fellow member of mankind. That is how you get people who worry only about the bottom dollar or the final product.

A prime example when logic and emotions are out of synch is the Japanese Internment of World War II.

Innocent men, women, and children were collected and shuttled off to the middle of no-where after Imperial Japan launched a surprise attack on the United States, causing our entry into World War II.

Why? Because the government feared a fifth column rising. For those who do not know, fifth columns refers to local population rising up and aiding a foreign power. A real possibility since Germany almost successfully raised a fifth column of their own. Was the jailing of citizens right? No. Was it a logical response to a real possibility? Yes. How was it able to pass? People were afraid and angry.

Revolutionists are also great examples of getting people to think emotionally. By getting the masses to react out of anger or fear you can get the Bolsheviks into power and establish the Soviet Union. Or the French Revolution where the streets ran with blood and heads. Why? Because of a few anger people were able to tell the population what to be anger and hurt about. To get them to stop thinking.

On the other hand, emotions can be great motivators. Hundreds of citizens got into their private boats and sailed to the French coast to pick up the surviving soldiers at Dunkirk. No one asked them. They weren’t equipped. They just went because it was the right thing to do. the English air power did what they could to protect them and they focused on getting troops out.

Much more recently, the Cajun Navy and regular Texans headed south to where Harvey had laid waste. No one said “I order you to do this” or demanded people hand over their time and resources. Nope, they just loaded their boats with supplies, plotted a course, and went. They did not show up as an extra pair of hands. They came prepared. Emotion rose up at the plight of the victims. Logic guided preparation and execution.

At the end, you have to rely on what you have seen and test what you are told. Check the sources, do a little research, and force that individual to prove to you that they are telling the truth.

Friday Thoughts: Changing World

In the wake of the largest shooting that has occurred on American soil, I think about how much this world has changed in my lifetime alone.

I was born in the ’90’s. The world wasn’t great but it wasn’t terrible either.

Then 9-11 happened.

The entire world looked in awe and America knew fear. And rage. Did shootings occur? Yes. But those were individuals hunting specific people. School shootings were rare. But things have gotten dangerous. Individuals just wanting to kill people have become almost the norm.

Christine Grimme.
The homosexual bar shooting.
Sadie School Shooting.
Las Vegas.
Churches.
Movie theatres.

Growing up as a kid I remember the biggest problem I had was trying to find that one Lego piece that I needed. My mind struggled to comprehend growing up with gunfire for nightly noise instead of crickets. To fear where I walk not because of snakes but because of bombs. To worry about rain. Not chemical attacks. To sleep knowing that no leader was idiotic enough to launch a nuke at anyone. But now realizing that certain North Korean and terrorist organizations would not only be willing but also happy to pull that trigger.

Not only that but today if you make a comment or state an opinion, you will be attacked. Before it was just verbal attacks. Now, it is physical. Even asking someone to stop smoking in a non-smoking zone might result in being beaten nearly to death (the man beaten while using the Dallas rail system).

The mass media show story after story after story of mankind committing evil to each other and to innocent children. Online, social justice warriors wage war for their cause. Claiming to be tolerant and loving but all the while ripping into others with wild abandon. Attacking with hate-filled words and acting as if the other is wrong.

This is the world that I now live in.

With everything that is going on, it is easy to think it is all for naught. To think that it would be better to retreat from the world and hide in books or the cyber world.

But there is a flicker of light.

As a Christian, I know the score and I know how it will end. I also see the good in people. The Texans and New Orleanians rallying together to deal with Harvey. The people sending help to Florida and Puerto Rico. Not because they were ordered but because they want to. To see the people gathering together to get the injured at Las Vegas to safety.

And it is the kindness in the small actions by the common people.

Maybe the world is burning. Maybe not. But although the world is not as friendly as I would like, neither is it as terrible as the mass media.

If you look for the good, you won’t have to look very hard.

Friday Thoughts: Enjoying Life with Little Things

a mini truck on the road
Don’t do what I did and take a photo while driving. Please.

Life can get you down pretty hard, pretty quick. Or at least it does for me. But life takes courage and strength to live. But the down side to being strong all the time is that can become dull and hard But the fact is life is made enjoyable by a handful of things:

  • Friends and Family
  • Little Things
  • Positive

Seems simple enough but it can be hard.

Friends and Family

Not everyone has a good circle of friends or a great family base. But not every family has to be blood. Not everyone you meet needs to be a friend. You just need a few who will go to hell and back for you. Because the family, the good kind, will support you. To help you through the rough times and yank you back in line when you drift.

Choose carefully. Choose wisely.

Let them earn that amount of trust. Be the person you want someone to be for you.

Little Things

Life is full of ups and downs. Moving fast and taking it slow. And for every mountain summit you reach, there is a deep canyon of darkness. Triumphs and joys countered by failures and pain. What makes things easier through the roller coaster of life is finding humor in the small things.

Like the photo in this post.

A trucker stuck that toy on the back of his rig and hauled it down the highway. It may seem silly. It may seem childish but it brought a smile to my face. For a moment, I forgot about the bills that I need to pay. The equipment that I need to get for work (which could run up to a 1000 dollars or more). I just smiled and laughed. Then promptly did a reckless thing and took a photo.

Don’t do that.

Positive

A lot of people would say “attitude” or “positive energy”. To a degree, attitude does help facing challenges. It keeps you getting lost in the works or emotions of the challenges.

Positive energy, personally, is full of it and you just need to take it one day at a time. Or one minute at a time. Whatever you need to take.

There is an old saying that goes something like this: “how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time”. Basically, any challenge can be conquered by taking it one step at the time. Yes, feel emotions and accept them. But don’t let emotions run you.

Take Away

Life is full of ups and downs. I don’t know everything or have the best method on how to get there. Nor do I have it all together. To quote my closest friend: I’m a hot mess.

Friday Thoughts: Where Did Love Songs Go?

As a solo commuter I spend much of time listening to music as I make my way to and from work. I like 80’s, 90’s, Celtic, and Classical Music. If there was a techno station, I’d listen to it too. But I haven’t found one so I am stuck with my other Oldies and Celtic music. However, for the past week I notice a strange thing about the lyrical music I listen to.

There are no love songs.

Yes, there are songs about girls/women or relationships but there isn’t a real love song. At least one that I would consider a love song. There are songs like The The Shape of You that is focused on the physical state of the woman. Not her soul, her character, or eyes. Just her body. And there are more songs where it is all about sex. Closer is the song that I started noticing this little “fact”. Despacito, assuming I got the translation right, is just as bad if not worse. And it is not just the younger generation but it goes back to the seventies. But as the years progress, it seems more and more of the popular songs are focused on sex and physical appearance.

Maybe I am just missing the real love songs but it saddens me that today’s love songs is about making love, not giving love.
Perhaps I am from the wrong generation but physical beauty fades. We’re all going to grow old. One day we will be creased with wrinkles and our skin will sag. And I have seen couples that have been married for decades, in three cases they have been married for sixty years! Six decades! So what is happening in my generation where marriages are lucky to last five years? Is it because we are focused on the wrong thing? Getting married too soon? I don’t know.

These kinds of songs go beyond entertainment as well. I am concern that today’s music and film industry are inadvertently teaching/training us to see a different kind of love. To expect love to be acts of sex or that our whole beauty is only skin deep. Or worse: I am wrong and love really is just sex and skin.

And if love really is just about being in bed with a beautiful person than I don’t want it. I don’t want to be intimate with someone for something shallow, temporary, or being worried that as soon as I get “old” or someone new walks past I’ll be replaced.

I want something real, deep, and last seventy years.

Friday Thoughts: The Journey

It is once more that time of year. The part of the year where social media feeds are filled with one of three things: engagement announcements, baby announcements, university enrollment announcements.

And of course, each post has likes, hearts, and comments posting love and best wishes. We join in and comment.

Some of us see the news with a great smile. Others may see these announcements as painful reminders. We’re not where we want to be or with who we want to be.

But that’s okay.

We just need a little patience. In May 2016 I graduated from college. I had hopes that I would have a job after a month. Half a year later and I may have my one love in my life. A year after that I would be making a sizable dent in my school debt. That was my hope.

A year later I was still jobless, no love interest, and had not even started on paying back my loans.

It was only in April that I finally landed a job. Life is still not going the way I would like it to go but that is okay. But I remember something a Baby Boomer told me: Everyone has to pay their dues.

What does that mean?

It means each and everyone else has to go through a trial. It doesn’t matter who we are or what we applied for, we have paths we must travel. Whether we are the reporter stuck with boring stories or the medical student going through residency. The art student working as a graphic designer or the writer being denied. We must bear our burden and walk this path.

Tolkien did not sit down one day and write a generation-spanning novel. Einstien did not solve the mysteries of the math world overnight. We may see it as an instant success but it is not.

True greatness comes not from glory but from hard work.

As much as I wish that I could just skip the pain and reach the perfect happy place, this trial of fire can be beneficial.

We gain a better appreciation for our job, empathy for what others are going through, and perspective on our own circumstances.

And as tempting as it is to take a short cut it is not worth it. You will always be found out. No matter how long it takes, the truth will come out. The longer it takes to find out, the greater the fall will be.

So be patient. Be diligent. Learn what you can at each stage.

Friday Thoughts: Heroes

In recent years, Marvel has produced movies and series of humans and beings with great powers and abilities. DC has done its best to keep up. Some were born. Others were given a choice. And some were forced.

It is interesting to think that Marvel and DC are merely the latest in the long line of hero worship. From the ancients and their demigods and humans blessed with powers. Great epics are based around individuals who are cursed with abilities or granted them. But why do we have such an interest in the heroes? And why do some of us have an interest in the villains?

And I wondered, why humans have such an obsession with heroes?

Than I heard the song Something Just Like This. If you haven’t heard the song, it is basically a man saying that he doesn’t feel like a hero. His girlfriend turns to him and basically says that she isn’t looking for a superhero.

Now granted a love song does not explain the whole hero-love we have.

But it does touch on a hidden desire. We all want to be the hero. That person who doesn’t need anyone else. That rushes in with powers. That person who is more than average. Special.

I know I have at times wanted to be the hero.

Two things though that proves to me that we don’t need powers to be the hero.

One

First. By being alive, you are impacting people’s lives. Regardless whether you want to impact others or not. You will influence them. Your actions and choices influence the path of the person next to you. Not just at the dinner table or at work. But on the train. In the grocery store. At the next gas pump. Most of the time our presence will have a very little impact. The results of just being strangers. However, your reaction to someone. The way you talk to the other person. Or a kind act versus a cruel act. Each person you meet might be on the brink of breaking. Of falling apart. But your choice can give them a little more hope. A little kindness to bring them hope.

Two

We can’t move through life by yourself. No one can. We need at least one other person to help us get through the rough spots. For my closest friends and I, we share our burdens. Some days I help them. Other days they help me. Heroes are also who give of themselves. A few years ago, a bomb was detonated at the end of the Boston Marathon. As the chaos ensued and the injured began crying out, what did the participants do? Did they run? Did they say, “No. I don’t have the energy”? Some probably did. But others did not. They stayed and helped. Other heroes are people who choose to put themselves in harm’s way to protect others. The police. The firemen. The father defending his family. The mother working long hours to put her children through college.

So I will leave you with this:

Heroism comes not from one’s abilities but by their choices.