tHE aDVENTURE

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty has inspired me. It has brought clarity to my desire to live the story of my life. It wasn’t the alarm clock, that went off quite some time ago. I hit snooze quite a few times but haven’t in a while, I’ve even gotten out of bed but am still handicapped by the grogginess intrinsic to the fog of having just woken up. Walter Mitty is the cup of coffee I’ve been looking for.

Actually to say that the movie inspired me is inaccurate, it has brought me clarity. I have been inspired for some time now. I have known what I want, and want to accomplish, but it has always been an idea in my head. I now have a clearer vision of what it looks like for the typical cubicle clone on the treadmill (rat caught in a maze) to start letting life in. One of the phrases that pops up through the movie is the “Been There Done That” section of his online dating profile. That is actually a powerful thing. In fact, I may start a page on this blog with that title, just so I can have a literary mirror in which to see myself. Just like someone wanting to transform their body uses a mirror to gauge their progress, this will help me prioritize living life over slavery.

This doesn’t mean simply living my life for the next adventure, or depending on new and novel experiences to validate my existence. It means I am going to live the life of my hearts desires. I am not going to strive for this, but I am going to be more go with the flow. Every adventure story has ups and downs, highs and lows, ebbs and flows, trials and triumphs. In some great stories the hero is imprisoned or enslaved for a number of years, they often face challenges that seem almost insurmountable. In the stories years of nonevents can be passed over with a simple subtitle, sentence or symbolism; the challenges are gripping but we are usually quite certain the hero is going to come out victorious, but if we were to experience it in real time alongside our hero it would probably seem far more terrifying and hopeless. Much like when we live it out in our own lives. Walter Mitty never thinks about the things he is doing in terms of “having an adventure” or “how cool this is”. He’s doing it because it is a part of the path he is on, and it isn’t until he is looking back and summarizing it that it takes on those aspects of adventure. Don’t do it for the adventure or experience, do it for the role it has in fulfilling your deeper passion, fulfilling your purpose, and being what you love.

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Writing the Story

What would it be like to have a wild hope rise within you?

Every story has an ending, and with Jesus that ending is “happily ever after”. Everything else until that point is just part of the struggle of the story. Even if you find a source of true happiness, you can not hang onto it. You will always age, things will always wear out, others will disappoint you…I know see the truth in this; the loss of my marriage and the breaking up of my family has awoken me.

The reason we love this world is because at times, it looks like/reminds us of home. At times we catch glimpses of our real home, where we belong. We don’t belong here. We are foreigners in a hostile land. Like Maximus before his return to Rome, OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAlike Hercules in slavery, like the Fellowship of the Ring in the Lands of Mordor.

Happily ever after is written on the final page of the story, not somewhere in the middle. We spend our lives trying desperately to live at the end of our story, but stories don’t work that way. The story of my life must be completely written up until the very end before this can happen. This also means that everything I experience is leading up to that glorious, happy, joyous conclusion.

So I desire my story to be like the stories I love, full of magic and adventure and discovery. I want my life to be like that scene near the end of Titanic in which we are shown the pictures of all the adventure Rose had in her life because Jack set her free in every way possible. This means that I am going to have to struggle, fail, fall, experience pain, find light in the darkness, persevere, enjoy happiness while it is right in front of me, set things free, let go, dance and sing when the opportunity arises. I must live the fullness of life at every opportunity even if some things are still undone. It’s like the saying “if you wait until you are ready to have kids, you will probably never have them”. Take a chance and let life in. Live it all the way unto the final chapter.

Which brings is to the way the story ends, the way almost everyone wants to live it right now. Iimagine a story in which the brothers and sisters – the beloved children of the king and queen – have been lost in hostile foreign lands and feared to be dead. As the years pass the gloom becomes a new normal for the royals. The Heir to the throne returned, but that is the only child of the Royal family to have returned. Then one day, the others show up at the gate – tired, dirty, cut and bleeding, but alive and well! Imagine the rejoicing! Imagine how overwhelmed with happiness the king and queen must be! The bells ring in the towers, people are rushing out to hug them and kiss them and welcome them home. A huge party is immediately set into motion with celebrating, and feasting and drinking and laughter and merriment and tears of joy! The children are alive and safe at home! They are now free to roam the lands in which they belong, safe from any harm; safe in their homeland. In THEIR homeland. It belongs to them. This is the scene awaiting us. This is what it will be like to enter heaven.

Pray that my spirit would know boundless joy.

The Hamster Wheel

SuburbanResilience

Man it’s been a long time since my last post. As the song says: time keeps on slippin slippin slippin, into the future. I’ve really had no choice though. I have had to reduce my expectations and re-evaluate the reality of what I am able to accomplish with the time I have vs. the necessary obligations I have. It’s not just me though, it’s our entire working class / disappearing middle class caught in the avalanche of downward class migration.

Point in case, here is the sign of the times: I’m getting emails coming in begging parents to volunteer their time for various yearly events for the kids. These aren’t events that are new, but that take place every single year around the same time. For instance just this week (and it’s only Wednesday) there are requests for field day at the elementary school, a youth event at church (which…

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Overwhelmed

So I was talking to my mom when she asked me if I’d gotten in contact with a lead I was given about a new job. I told her I hadn’t and that it was because I have been struggling trying to find time to work on my resume. Work is insane, and the traffic is getting worse so the commute is getting longer. By the time I get home I am spent. To kick my brain into high gear again once I’ve gotten home, cooked dinner, helped with homework, listened to problems, and taken a shower is more than I am able to do. On top of that I have to get my sleep because I’m no spring chicken and my bills are more than my paycheck without overtime, so overtime is a must. I go in early rather than stay late because the kids don’t miss me when they’re asleep.

She made the comment that she worries that I am trying to do too much. Well I am, no doubt, but some of it is required (laundry, dishes, yard work), and some of it is important (garden). So I gave her the rundown on why doing the garden and some of the other things are important.

Thing is, even though all of my points are valid, she too may have a point – perhaps even a stronger point. Maybe what I am doing is unsustainable. I mean, I know it is, but how do you decide what to give up? Not only do I have a garden, but there are some plants inside the house that require maintenance as well. Do those things need to go? It’s not that watering them takes so long per se, but there is the monitoring to see if they need watering, remembering to monitor them, pruning, making sure they are getting enough sun, etc. There are other things that could be lumped into this category as well I’m sure.

It has become obvious this year that sustainability and resilience requires more than one person, unless you are in a very minimalist situation. When you are a single dad being that minimalist isn’t really an option; there is a lot that is required just to be a decent father. But I have always been a great father, and want to continue as such. The relationship and trust I have with my kids is priceless.

So what do I do? Stop gardening? My health and the health of my kids are at stake and that is something that is with us for as long as we inhabit this earth. Am I paranoid, thinking that the food I get from the store is really that bad? Maybe only time will tell. But what about the increasing cost in food, and the exponential cost that is looming because of the severe drought conditions we are experiencing that no one is talking about? What happens when the unavoidable increase in taxation teams up with rising food costs? Not try to find ways to increase the efficiencies in my household and make a smaller eco-footprint ala: reuse, repurpose, recycle? Should I not plant trees in my yard that will provide shade, wind protection, and yearly fruit production (I haven’t yet but it is on the ‘really, really need to do’ list)? Should I stop trying to better insulate and shade my house to lower my electric bills? That saves me money (as well as keeps us more comfortable because the a/c alone is not sufficient for our house), and as inflation keeps grinding away at a rate far higher than what the “official” numbers are, that seems to be more and more important as time goes on. Should I just say “screw it “, join the zombie sheeple status quo, and ignore the state of our environment and what is contributing to its change, as well as to what kind of future that leaves for my kids?

I am a firm believer that at times we must dramatically lower our standards in order to keep our head above water, I get that. At the same time, you must make sure that you don’t fall into the trap that so many people do who get a raise, in that an expense always seems to be taken on that absorbs the extra money (now coming in). If I drop my garden or (shudder) get rid of my 2 surviving bonsai trees, will I still find myself facing the same shortage of time? My bonsai make my eyes happy when I look at them. If I give them up and don’t experience relief, then I am actually worse off because I have given up a desire of my heart (beauty) and gotten nothing in return. I’ll really need to ponder this.

I have been told “have the kids help more. When I was a kid…blah blah blah”. Yeah, me too. But that was a different time, and maybe 15 years ago you did make your kids do more too. But that was then, and it was a different time. I bet you didn’t make them do as much as you did when you were a kid, or even as much as you think you remember making them do. It is extremely difficult – on many levels – to make a kid that is already doing chores do more, when the entire society around them is doing no chores at all. When their peers are required to do nothing while your kid is taking an extremely heavy course load in order to graduate a year early, and working part time so that they can not only buy their own gas, but their own shampoo, make up and feminine products, more should be demanded?? Not only is it an uphill battle which takes more of the sacred, precious time than just doing it yourself, you (I) feel like a crummy father because they have to pick up the slack financially. “It’s good for them, they’ll be better off because of it”. Maybe, and maybe that’s bulls***. Don’t misunderstand, I do believe that doing chores and being responsible are very important in building character and preparing young people to become contributing members of the community. But they are also missing out on the experiences their friends are having which is making them different, and in the case of the teenager robbing them of the opportunity to form strong social/community/networking bonds which are going to vital as the future draws near. They are already struggling to deal with the emotional trauma they are experiencing because of the divorce. The death of an innocence, something that they never in a million years gave a second thought about not being as solid as the rock of Gibraltar suddenly crumbles right out from under them with no warning. “That’s right darling, you can’t count on anything being safe, and as an added bonus you get to do more work, carry a heavier burden than all of your peers, and do without more things and experiences than them.”

Oops, sorry. Is my cynicism showing? Better be careful, I want to progress, not digress.

Man going it alone is hard.