Friday Thoughts: Simple Things

It’s the simple things that matter.

That is what many people say with smiling faces and perfect lives. And a lot of times I glare at them and say, “That’s easy for you to say. You have everything.”

But it is true.

Lately, on my commute home traffic has been snarled. A side road often gets me around the bottleneck. But I don’t take it to avoid traffic or because it is faster. I take it because it is one of the most beautiful scenic routes I have found. It is a winding dirt road with old trees lining either side. Their branches reach up and over, forming a tunnel of branches. Breaks in the trees allow light to pass through, providing a warm setting. With the right amount of cars kicking up dust, it becomes fog-like.

It is a beautiful drive and I love it.

And it is little more than a detour on a narrow farm road.

But it is a simple thing that makes me happy. In this world of negatives and depressing news, finding small things that makes one happy is rare indeed.

Advertisements

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.

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: Time

In recent weeks I have been running into the problem that I just don’t have time.

Time to run. Time to learn a new language. Time to sleep. Time to work. The list goes on and on and on. And that is just for personal time. Work time is even crazier because there is a lot of hurry up and wait. Then two hours to the end of the shift I am flooded by a half dozen designs that all need to be done by the end of the day. At the end of this week I realized I need to get a better grip on how I spend time. Step one: figure out what is eating up my time.

First big consumer is work. I work 8 hours a day, at least. Then of course sleep. After that, commute. My commute is about an hour and half one way. Each night, I get about two or three hours to get cleaned up, eat, and ready for the next day.

As I was sitting down and working on a plan that would allow me to get more work done, I realized that a big part of health is being able to recharge. Like going out for a weekend and visit friends. Or staying in and not interacting with anyone. Granted, I can be described as an introvert so my recharge time appears different.

In this fast pace digital world, time management is more important than ever.

I can lose two hours scrolling through Facebook or play games till midnight. Or I can spend the night designing artwork and videos for work. Both have their places but there goes my evening. In light of this, my solution to getting more time is becoming more discipline.

Friday Thoughts: Ancient History

Greetings one, greetings all.

Forgive the ramble. When I am writing this, it is late and I had a long day.

Lately, history seems to be coming back in the spotlight. On one hand, you have groups of people fighting over whether a Confederate statue coming down changes history or corrects it. On the other side of the world, you have North Korea who is firing missiles at neighbors. Nuclear missiles. Then much closer to home you have groups of people who 1) Never witnessed 9-11. And/or 2) Believe that it was a setup by our own government.

The best part is the mob mentality that is in high gear on social media.

Oh, you state an opinion that conflicts with their opinion? Boom, attacks on the individual and insults run free and wild. And of course, they are innocent and what not.

Or maybe that is just me going from one social media page to the next.

But that did get me to thinking: how much are we changing history?

Is removing a statue going to make people forget it? That it will no longer honor a system of slavery? What do we lose if we stop talking about the Holocaust? Or the known facts of 9-11? Will that make a difference? I remember what I was doing on 9-11. I was sitting in front of the TV playing with Legos. Yellow thin ones were in my hands when I looked up and saw the two buildings with smoke pouring out of their sides. Of people jumping. I remember the camera capturing the first one to fall. Then the second one. Hearing about the Pentagon and Pennsylvania. I remember the shock and fear on my mother’s face. Watching our military force repaint their vehicles from the forest green to the desert brown.

But there are generations that did not witness 9-11.

They don’t remember a time when we were not in the East. Or that our military hardware was painted dark green, not light brown. Or that bombs exploding in industrial countries were unheard of.

To them, this is the norm. Everything my generation grew up with is in the past. History. A bit sobering to think that your childhood memories of watching old cartoons are weird and outdated. Makes me want to go to my parents and apologize for making fun of their childhood shows.

And have them wonder what in the world is dial up. Or that at one point in time, mailing a letter was the fastest a text message could go. Or that you couldn’t talk to someone six time zones away on your cell phone. If we wanted to do that, we better have sixty dollars worth of quarters, no one else waiting to use the booth, and a real friendly telephone operator.

If you know what I’m talking about, smile. If you don’t, then you are illustrating a point of mine: lost history.

How much of history have we lost simply because no one is teaching the whole of it? We know the Christians Knights of the Middle Age marched off on crusades and invaded lands. But how many people know that it was in response to the Muslim Moors invading from the East? Let’s try something closer. Japanese internment at the beginning of World War II. That was not the best move but it was understandable. Why? Because the government of that time just got surprised attacked by Japan. They feared a Fifth Column, their own citizens rebelling and aiding the enemy. A fear that Germany came close to making true except one of their recruits came to our side. Yes, I like military history.

We remember history to learn from our past, both the failures and the success. But if we forget the circumstances of that time, the information available only then, then we lose part of our history. No. History isn’t always fun or pleasant. But we can’t hide away the parts we don’t like. Or change the parts that hurt. We, as a civilization, must face the past and learn from it in its entirety if we want to stop repeating mistakes.

Which brings me back around to social media. If a photo with some words pops up. Doubt it. Check it. Demand sources. Check for yourself. And if you find your assumption to be wrong. Either keep digging or accept that you are wrong. Don’t let others do your thinking for you or you’ll become a puppet.

Thank you for reading my rambles!

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.