Exploring where life and story meet!

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

An old tale revisited

I like this article on the famous scene between Martha and Mary, it is an interesting take on a lesson that has become almost trite.  Millennials are infamous for their search for 'work-life balance,' rebelling against the workaholism of their parents' generation, but at least from this brief biblical sketch, that attitude has been around way longer than the American Dream.  Maybe a new look at this old tale will save us from the fruitless search of 'looking for love in all the wrong places'; we won't find fulfillment in our work or our leisure unless we look for it in the right place.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

The cure for self-esteem!

I've always hated the 'self-esteem' movement, I'm guessing it started sometime in the late '80's/early '90's and has been a vital part of public education and discourse ever since.  I remember sitting in a ridiculous class called 'Skills for Adolescents' ands staring blankly at a blue spruce out the window, wondering what it all meant and why, what was the point of this class?  Tell people they are good because they feel that way about themselves, really?  Even my juvenile mind could pierce that vapid farce but they dedicated a whole class to it.  Why not teach me to balance a checkbook, run a spreadsheet, or change the oil in a car: those are actual skills that are useful, not this vague fuzzy feeling of groundless happiness they wished to engender in my fertile young mind.  I think what I resented the most was that they treated me like an idiot: just think it and it will be so!  I might be young but I wasn't stupid, even my five year old knows that life isn't happy just because you think it is!  We don't need to deal with the neglect and abuse at home, the broken family, the emotional damage of countless years of heartache and fear and manipulation, we'll just paint the exterior a pretty color and everything will be just peachy...if you like white-washed tombs that's a great idea!  I needed something real, something that would actually fix the root of the problem, not just 'the power of positive thinking.'

Twenty years later I'm still dealing with the fallout (of my life, not that class!).  The hardest thing for me to do is love myself, consider myself worth caring for.  Apparently all those self-esteem courses weren't the answer.  But this article is.  Too bad I couldn't read it through, show it to the guidance counselor, and have a study hall instead of all those wasted hours!

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Strange bedfellows indeed!

I thought I knew what I was getting into, truly I did.  I read the reviews and prepared myself for something that just might be a little disturbing.  I purposely left my six year old son at home, thinking it would be a little much for him.  It was a little much, but it wasn't the movie that was the problem!  I knew there were supposed to be some very intense scenes but not in the previews!  Having grown up with abuse, I knew this film might trigger old memories and from what I had read, I thought it might contain things a little too scary for a small son to watch.  The film itself was excellent, very sad and heart wrenching at times, but there were touches of humor, an upbeat pace, and a never fading hope that kept it from getting too dark.  It was realistic, the acting was excellent, and I was very happy, even the purportedly intense scenes were nothing as dark as I had anticipated.  Still not something for a young kid but certainly okay for older ones.  Overall, I was very impressed with 'I Can Only Imagine,' and while the song is not one of my favorites (it's one of those they played until you wanted to chuck the radio out the window, certainly not the song's fault, but you could learn to despise anything played that much; they did the same thing to a Natalie Grant song a decade back, beautiful song but it was ALL they played for about six months).

This had to be the worst pairing of film/preview that I have ever seen.  A serious Christian movie about abuse and redemption and beauty and hope paired with a movie about animated garden gnomes recruiting a famous fictional detective where every other scene was a potty humor joke and the main feature was a grossly obese male gnome clad only in what appeared to be suspenders and a thong dancing the night away.  It was that last scene that was the most disturbing part of the whole ordeal.  Go see 'I Can Only Imagine,' if you haven't yet, a most excellent and moving story, but please, hold the gnomes!

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Another Unwitting Guest

I love it when I find someone who unwittingly writes a thesis for this blog!  Enjoy the article here.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

The search is over!

We have all been searching, since the very dawn of man, every human heart has sought the answer to this riddle called life, some call it home or joy or purpose or meaning or happiness or fulfillment, whatever its name it is the answer to life, the universe, and everything (and it isn't 42).  That's what this blog is all about and I think someone has finally found it, here!

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

NOW!

Is everything instant these days?  I remember the first giddy days of dial-up internet (and rotary phones!) and how cool it was to be 'online.'  It was actually a thing to walk across campus to check your email in some distant computer lab at strange hours of the night (you know, like 10:30).  It was pretty phenomenal when they actually got internet in the dorms my senior year.  Now everyone has the internet in their pocket!  As much good as technology has done us, it also comes at a price.  This insistence on instant internet now applies to pretty much everything, including but not limited to relationships, health issues, food, shopping, investing...you name it, we want it now, and not just now, but done our way.  We all think we should have an opinion on everything (even things we know nothing about) and that our opinion should matter and not only matter but it should be enacted NOW.

Obviously that doesn't work very well because with 7 billion people on the planet that means there are seven billion differing opinions on everything.  So whose opinion do we enact?  And since it needs to be NOW, we can't possibly consider what the possible repercussions might be, you can see how this can get messy, fast!  Imagine ordering a pizza for 7 people (another common college phenomenon), do you think any of them will agree on anything?  Not going to happen, let alone trying to get a billion times as many people to agree on something as simple as lunch, how much less so on more important things?  Now that's what I call a mess!  But then we aren't called to solve such problems, at least not on our own.  We need only worry about the six other people in the room and their pizza preferences, or whatever our current situation may be.

Much easier, or so you say, except for the NOW phenomenon.  Susie just broke up with her boyfriend of five years.  Megan just had a miscarriage.  Marvin's father is dying of cancer.  Jon never met his father...who wants pepperoni?  Jon's a vegan.  Megan is gluten free.  Marvin can't have tomatoes.  Tim wants to know if it's organic...  We can't order a pizza, let alone fix all the problems festering beneath the surface just in this room, let alone the world, but somehow we feel we MUST fix it all and NOW!  But life isn't like that, at least real life.  Maybe some of those 'sim-life' games or social media sites create that sort of reality, where you just delete it or change it or log-off if you don't like something.  But real life is messy and slow, so are real relationships.  You can't just log on to some app, swipe a few times and come across the world's best boyfriend and bam, you have romance for life, NOW.  Nope, that ideal man was once nothing but a dream, then a baby, then a grubby little boy with scuffed up knees, then an acne prone teenager...a real relationship will take more than a few texts to establish and even more to maintain.  There will be dark nights and long days along with the laughs and the good times and the smiling social media pictures.

But we don't like slow or messy or imperfect or flawed.  Pain, misery, grief, suffering are abhorrent to us, that's why we like online realities, for online such things can be minimized, ignored, deleted, reinvented in our own image.  But facing adversity is how we live, learn, grow, mature.  No wonder we live in an age of forty-something adolescents!  Neverland is not found 'second star to the left and straight on till morning,' rather it is called Facebook or Instagram or a thousand other online forums and communities wherein our avatars live and move and have their being while our souls languish and die in a reality we do our very best to ignore.  As wonderful as technology is, sometimes I'm not sure it is worth the price our society, culture, and relationships and each of us as individuals must pay to indulge in it.  But it isn't likely to change, at least on a cultural level, anytime soon so we must each deal with it individually.  Here's hoping that each of our lives is deeper, brighter, broader, and more vivid than our online persona!

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

There and back again LXVI (The Best Title Ever!)

But I think Tolkien had an excellent point in choosing it, for all proper journeys and adventures must surely lead us Home, whether that is the place wherefrom we set out or a destination we go in search of.  It is the whole point of life, finding this place, this Home, and it is the reason such tales are the very definition of Story: someone setting out in search of something they lack or to thwart some evil that threatens everything they love.  Is that not the story of your own life, whether successful or not?  You leave Home (or home) to go and establish your own or find it for the first time or perhaps to prepare yourself to continue what you will inherit from another.  It's what we are all looking for and hoping to find, strangely thinking popularity, money, or power will somehow give it us.  But as the old Proverb says, 'better a meal of vegetables where love is than feasting with strife.'  Just look at celebrity culture, they are some of the least happy people on the planet; why then would we want to emulate them?

I've finally slogged through the 'Hobbit' movies again and that seems to be the whole point of the tale, at least once you weed out the 2-3 hours of pointless orc thrashing that does little to nothing to advance the plot and try and forget the expulsion of the Necromancer which while certainly an interesting story, had little to do with this one, and also the epic battle of Five Armies, which really should not have been all that epic!  If you can weed out all the extra clutter, there are several scenes to wrench the heart strings and remind us of what is truly important.  There's the scene with the greed obsessed Thorin confronting Bilbo, thinking he has the arcenstone (which he does) but finds him fiddling with an acorn instead and they talk for a moment of gardens and trees and the comforts of home.  Then you have the several scenes in which Bard is valiantly defending his children and people, seeing what no one else can: the gold and dragon mean nothing in the end, only the people that are hurt or helped; you really do pity Alfrid as he runs off in woman's garb clutching his beloved gold to his chest.  And then there is the whole idea of the dwarves setting off to reclaim their wasted homeland, which gets lost somewhere in the middle third of the second movie.  I won't even get into the whole elf subplot, that really gets strange and is quite beyond my comprehension!

The heart is there, if you can find it, and it could have been a lovely movie all about finding home and what's important in life...but it wasn't, we'll have to leave that to the next generation, Sam and Frodo do a good job so therein I'll be content.  What about you?  Is your story an action packed, meaningless mess?  Do you need to choose, like Thorin, what is truly important?  What can you do to take a step closer to finding Home, be it There or Back Again?