The Man

Archive for the ‘Life choices’ Category

Thoughtful Intention versus Selfish Ambition

In Life choices on July 12, 2018 at 2:35 pm

“Do unto others…” Golden Rule my ass. If this is the Golden Rule, then we’re paupers in a land of riches. Why? Because we either serve out of guilt or serve to gain. Am I wrong?

Perhaps I am wrong. Still, I deal with more people that are self-focused than those who selfishly pour out themselves for others — and I am often guilty of the same. But why do we chose such a self-centered journey? I think the answer is clear. I think we simply fear that giving to others, for others, leaves us exposed and potentially a target for others to build up themselves.

So what would happen if we all started serving one another, building each other up, like we want to be built up by others? Would we turn the tide of selfish pursuit, seeing a greater benefit in giving than taking? Would be truly begin to “do unto others as we would have them do unto us”?

We won’t know the outcome till we start something new.

Where My Future is a Lesson for My Past

In Life choices on April 30, 2017 at 6:42 pm

“In retrospect.” Gosh, I hate those words — not individually, but together, in that order. IN. RETROSPECT. Meaning: “Idiot. What part of “think ahead” did I miss? Where was I during the “don’t be stupid” lecture? How could I miss that one?”

Making a mistake — we all do it — but do we all do it in a way that makes us sick at our choices. I have had my fair share of them — mistakes, that is. I have made enough for me and at least one half of another person, assuming that person is twice as smart as me and makes half the mistakes, thereby allowing me to make enough to cover their gap. It’s not that I’m a clinical moron, but more that I’m impulsive, perhaps. Or maybe that I am adventurous… which sounds better.

Erring is no sin, failing is no fall from glory, and tripping up is no indication that you are an unfit person. It’s natural (more for some than others). My goal, however, is to stop making decisions that have me utter those hideous two words, in order. My goal is to use predictable action, speculating the ramifications of my choices in the moment, in an effort to avoid regret in my near future, saving myself the pains of carrying mental and emotional weight through life. Simply stopping, pondering, and speaking/acting slowly could be the thing that curbs my impulsive behavior, leading to regret.

I cannot undo the “stupid”, but I can learn from it. Pacing my temperament and looking for the positive can save face and keep me sane.

Running nowhere faster than I can get there

In Everything else, Life choices on April 30, 2017 at 6:32 pm

It’s so true how… wait — where was I going with that? I had a thought, just then, but it has somehow eluded me.

And such is life these days. A thought, a whim, a fear, a pain, a joy, any feeling known or unknown comes racing into my mind only to fly right back out. I’m not getting old — OK, I am, but not in that sense — rather it appears I’m on some sort of fast paced journey to find the next thing. Perhaps it’s the world I live in — always evolving and growing and changing — and if I don’t stay up with the shuffle, I’ll lose. Lose what? Who knows. I used to know, but that was so 10 seconds ago.

I run through the evolving, growing change because I want something. I might run after something, or towards something, or away from something, but in all that, there’s something I want. Most often that desire nurtures me, providing support, comfort, control, or any number of desirable outcomes. Most often the thing I want is a stepping stone to the next thing — a thing that will have me running again. Vicious, endless cycle.

How do we measure all this running — to, away from, alongside, over, under, and everything in between? If it was exercise, we’d all be fit, but it’s more often mental anguish. So how do we qualify, quantify, calculate, and weigh in on the endless journey toward the next thing? Where’s that golden rod to measure? And does all that working towards a moving target pay off? So many questions, but zero time to stop and answer them.

For me, I’ll look for a rest stop. There’s bound to be an oasis along my Nomadian path, one that might not offer answers, but is bound to offer refreshment. I’ll simply fuel up for the next leg, and this time, before I step into the desert, I’ll try to remember which direction I was heading.

New chapter in life… and it’s a doozy

In Life choices on April 28, 2017 at 4:13 pm

Summer 2017 begins a new chapter in my life, a time of tremendous, anticipated change that takes the family on an adventure across the country.

I’ll complete my film production MFA this coming June (from Full Sail University in Winter Park, FL), book it back to Blue Ridge, VA, to start home repairs and improvements at the same time we are packing and cleaning up 17 years of life in one location. We are moving out of a 4200 sqft home on 2 acres, into something like a condo. It’ll be like squeezing an elephant into spandex if we don’t pare down and get rid of 60% of what we own, if not more. We’ll be on the clock because I have to report in on August 1st to my new job, teaching film production at San Diego Christian College.

This “little” adventure takes me back to all the many — and I mean MANY — times we would move from place to place as I was growing up. I didn’t have military parents, just parents that couldn’t settle, and a mom that was twice as restless once my parent’s divorced (when I was 11 years old). We never stayed one place for more than a year, and would likely move every 6 months. I didn’t own a lot — couldn’t own a lot — and was always ready for the next big jump. Granted, it was never across country, and often within the same city (or neighboring state), so the change wasn’t geographically drastic; however, change is change and it kept me unsettled — literally.

What I think about most during this upcoming move is my wife and children. We’ll be leaving 4 young adult children (2 married) on the east coast, dragging 4 younger girls with us. Of the 4 coming with us, 3 express resistance — a feeling I commonly shared as a kid. As for my wife, being pulled away from the ones we leave behind is a hard sell. Again, I empathize more than anyone knows.

Still, this is a move that I believe is orchestrated by God. I believe He set the wheels of change in motion over a year ago, when the “calling” to earn my MFA for future opportunities was loud and clear. I believe He knew what we didn’t see coming, preparing us for this adventure. And I know my wife believes this as well. And it’s because we are both willing to go where the Lord leads that we know things will work according to His plan. That’s all the peace we need to tackle the road ahead.

Sonidam Yelhsa (or, How We Always Seem To Get It Backwards)

In Life choices on August 28, 2015 at 11:31 am

What a great premise — free to do what you want to do, serving personal pleasures, without notable consequences, and all with a few clicks on the ‘ole mouse. It’s a great day indeed, forging ahead into amazing opportunities. Pleasure without restraints. No need to defer gratification and actually work through your problems. Everything you want is there for the taking. It’s just… well, who are we kidding — what a load of horse crap.

A dating service geared toward adulteress affairs seems to be the hit thing. Married men and women looking for a good time — outside the marriage contract. Cheat and no one will know it, after all, “Life is short. Have an affair”. But how short is this life? Might be shorter than you think if you get caught.

So what is the goal during our 70 some odd years on the earth? Is it to find “pleasure”? Is it to satisfy our whims through a blatant disregard of others? Are we destined to self-gratify and express our “freedom” any way we choose? Well, is our desire for the forbidden fruit worth losing what we claim to cherish? What if the cheater wasn’t you — but your spouse?

Forethought: the cornerstone of good choices might be your saving grace. But why is it that our society has opted for choices outside of good common sense? Why do those lust-driven, click-of-a-button, wayward sex nomads find solace in cheating? It’s simple, really (although affairs are anything but simple), they have it backwards. To escape what you have in search of something better isn’t about moving outward, but moving inward.

Cheating on someone you love and have committed yourself to is a super cheap thrill that will destroy the foundation of any healthy relationship. I dare say “healthy”, as if to reference some unspoken order of the universe. It’ll destroy the relationship because it fails to nurture it. Imagine a plant that is hurting — lacks water and sunshine — and instead of caring for the plant so you don’t feel like you’ve lost your green thumb, you just go out and buy another plant, feeding and watering it instead. What would you hope to accomplish with your dying plant? Too much work? Well, so be it with the next plant, and the one after that, and so forth. Suddenly, in our “better to replace than repair” society, divorce makes sense — if by sense I mean, “Dumbest idea ever.”

Rather, let’s start thinking backwards and pretend each day is opposite day, flipping poor decisions on their head for the wayward idea that will actually make some real common sense in the end.

“My bottle, my bottle…”

In Life choices on August 26, 2015 at 12:53 pm

The following excerpt was taking from a Facebook post on the subject of Christians drinking alcohol. I was mildly involved until one gal chimed in with her “holier than though” idiot remarks and showed close-mindedness and ignorance on the highest level.

NOTE: my good buddy and colleague, Andrew, and I were traveling from L.A. to Vegas for a conference, and on the way we listened to a Baptist preacher (on CD) rant about alcohol and sin — it was entertaining. Andrew initiated the post following that trip.

Enjoy:

“Oh boy, Andrew, way to stir the vat; and after our hour-long CD sermon and talk on the way to Vegas (let’s see how many folks miss-read that statement). So, here it goes… The Lord made that pot plant also, and tobacco leaves, and gave minds to the men that fashioned weapons — even in the Bible days — to kill one another. Shoot, the Lord even put to death, or gave orders to slaughter, many a man, woman, child, and animal. The Lord’s just crazy sometimes, but He knows way better than you and I what He’s doing. Strong mockery? Look at heart disease… alcohol is a suspect for sure, but so is sugar (diabetes), smoking, lack of exercise, and Lord knows, fast food. Do you take care of your temple by abstaining from Mickey D’s and God’s own, Chick-fil-A? Or don’t stop there, raise your Bible to premarital sex… have you engaged in that debate? We all know Christians are as guilty as the next guy, all hanky-panky with each other, and justifying it all the while. Then there’s war… all that killing. Boycot soldiers because the Bible says to “love one another”? Tell that to the wrong person. Or dig into movies, TV, and YouTube — all that slutty material not suited for your mind. “Avoid the appearance of evil”, “Bad company corrupts good morals”, and a list of other verses that should convict you NOT to watch anything on TV or in the theater. But I bet you’re guilty. Gluttony? I love this one… southern fried chicken and pie eating-preachers condemning the bottle a hefty 300 lbs. Really?! I mean, who doesn’t love a good buffet? Am I right? Can I get an Amen? So rather than going on, allow me to say that alcohol is not something that you need — setting aside the medical studies that show drinking a glass of red wine daily reduces the risk of MANY diseases — it’s not something you have to try, and there’s certainly a Biblical argument against drunkenness; however, soap box discussions about “the Bible says it, that settles it, whether we agree with it or not” shows such a great deal of ignorance, and will forever close the door on your opportunities to converse and share the gospel. And Lord pity you if you’re wrong — preaching opinion as fact — such a stupid move. The American Christian will forever find solitude in the “wisdom of man”, while believing he speaks for God. It’s better to engage in informed dissent — the sharing or ideas, while accepting another’s ideas as valid for them — learning, growing and experiencing, allowing the Lord to work through you, and not in spite of you.”

But seriously… can I get an amen?

Sugar daddy on the treadmill

In Life choices on June 9, 2015 at 11:35 am

I love sweet tea. It’s true. I have loved it enough to marry it since I was a single digit age. If I had a lover, a temptress, a little something on the side… it would be sweet tea. If I had to choose only one thing to drink from here till eternity — no, through eternity — it would be sweet tea. If I could bath in sweet tea… no, that’s just disgusting. But I do love the stuff.

Sweet tea, however, has lots of sugar, and because people tell me sugar is bad for me (in excess) I decided to start introducing the unsweetened variety of tea into my afternoon gallon — er, glass. I started off slowly, not wanting to get all crazy, and would just tap the dispensing handle at the restaurant to splash my sweet goodness. It was a shock at first, but like jumping into a cold pool, the shock wore off and I realized that cutting the calories wasn’t as bad as it seemed. Over time I would begin to push my sweet tea out, replacing it with the virgin sister, and now I’m down to an approximate 2/1 mix, slowly saying goodbye to my sugar-fest addiction.

Addiction? Did I actually just say that? You bet. Life is full of addictions. We like to think we have some sorted sense of control, but in fact, we are addicted to so many blessings and curses, fears, drives, substances, and each other. We are surrounded by addictive personalities, addictive foods, and addictive activities. Don’t get me wrong, addiction in and of itself is nothing to be ashamed of; in fact, addictions are what make us inventors, artist, builders, creators of all things. Addictions also wreck and ruin us — the addictive tendencies that make the headlines — but not all addictions are evil. It’s about understanding an addiction, potentially embracing it, sometimes overcoming it, but always being self aware.

My addiction for the liquid gold doesn’t cause me to knock over convenient stores or pimp out my body for more of it, but it can have side effects that shorten my quality of life. Therefore, my personal choice is to continue to make that abyss-ful descent into sugarless tea and live another day. At least, that’s what I’ll tell myself.

I just saw myself down the road

In Life choices on March 24, 2015 at 6:54 am

I was working for a barricade company back in the mid-90’s and just happened to be working alongside a very strange man. He was a temp employee, hired on as a favor from my boss. Let’s call him, “Tommy”. Well, Tommy had a weirdness about him that I couldn’t shake — Lord, he couldn’t shake it, and therefore oozed his weirdness everywhere he went. I couldn’t put my finger on it, couldn’t give it a name, and probably would have failed to describe it in a court of law after he performed some horribly disturbing act. He was just weird. The kind of weird that kept me on edge.

So, we’re probably 4 hours from home, down this seldom-traveled back road, digging post holes for signage, when out of nowhere Tommy stops digging and stares down the road. Naturally, I freeze, scared for my life and wondering if I told my wife I loved her that morning. I visually searched down the road to see what this potential madman was staring after. I saw nothing. I remained still, not wishing to draw undo attention, when Tommy finally spoke — “I just saw myself down the road.” What? What do you mean? Physically? Spiritually? In the future — are you standing there in the future, like you see yourself eating a burger at that place you always wanted to stop by? What do you mean you saw yourself down the road? Are there two of you? The question sent my mind in many directions all at once, and so much so that I feared I would also see myself down the road. I waited for what seemed like days as Tommy held his gaze. Suddenly, and without warning, he returned to digging.

It took me a moment to gather my composure and mentally check my drawers (not the wooden one that holds my socks). I was alive — at the moment — and possibly averted the worst of it. I continued my task, and eventually we climbed back into the truck for the long, and silent, ride home. I don’t think I ever took an eye off my fellow laborer.

This reminiscing takes me back 20 years — 20 YEARS! Yet I remember my near brush with the supernatural like it was last week. Well, last year, at least. Doesn’t seem like a generation ago, but indeed it is. Time is funny like that, passing us by without looking our way, minding it’s own business as if not a care the least about our schedules and plans. I gather, that like Tommy, time sees itself down the road. Rightly so, for time always moves forward. Allowing time to pass us, move ahead, overtake us each day as we scamper to cram another, and another, and another thing into the hectic-ness that’s life, is a shortsightedness that will ultimately leave us only looking back. The things we miss, fly past, and embrace only in our thoughts become what we see down the road of life that is as mysterious as it is sad.

So don’t waste it — live it. Make this day count for something that will outlive you. Be that someone that you want to meet one day. Change the world — even if just your personal little world — and breathe new life into an old dream. Don’t stop till you’re old and gray. By then, if you do see yourself down the road, it’s probably for the best.

Harder days will come

In Life choices on March 12, 2015 at 5:32 am

Think it’s tough out there — breaking a sweat, chilled to the bone, dirt under the nails, dodging insults, hanging on for dear life as you dangle high above your comfy couch. Listen, friend, it’s only going to get tougher.

But seriously, no matter where you are in your journey, you’re most likely not at that place you’ll one day look back on and say something like, “That was the worst day of my life!” Might seem that way now, but chances are it’s bound to get worst. Will it? No one knows. But, let’s assume for a hot second that this moment is not the end all of bad moments; let’s set aside the doom and gloom thinking and imagine — stay with me — that there are days to come that will make this day look like a walk in the park. It could happen. This day could represent one of your better days. It could be the one you reflect on, while standing in a real poo of a day, and say, “Gosh, that day — back when — was just so great. Just so great.”

Why think like that? Why not? You might face today with so much contempt, so much anger, so much pain, and all for not. You might curse today — possibly the last best days you have — believing that it’s better to die today than to face tomorrow. You might think you know everything there is to know about today, hoping it will forever be forgotten. Or you might regret the moments you spent hating on today.

It’s the unknown. It’s all that you will discover, only once the moments has passed. So why not assume the best in this moment? What not assume that harder days will come, whether or not they will, because you don’t know — you can’t know — and celebrate today as a victory. It might a tough one, but it might be the best of what is to come.

Climbing the ant hill to reach the top of a mountain

In Life choices on March 7, 2015 at 5:02 pm

Little steps… baby steps, like making your way across the shag carpet (assuming you were born in the late ’60s). That’s the pace that will often take you from where you are to where you long to be. You can see it — the other side of the room — but for reasons unknown you are enslaved to a mere one small step at a time. Frustrating? Your limitations are noted by those surrounding you who long to launch from their foundation and soar toward greater things.

But what about everyone who sees your efforts, yet cannot understand what drives you? What of the complacent and steady ones that are content small-stepping their way through life? Is their plight any less important? I say surely not. Even though some of us would hop onto a spacecraft for a chance to ride to the moon, the other, more calculated ones, are just as important to the mission of life. Details, hard steady work, heated debates, brain drain, risk taking, happenstance, and many other qualities are needed in order to achieve something great. It’s the collective partnership of many that leads to the singular discovery. No win-lose, instead, win-win when the people join together to create, build, conquer, overcome, and live in the moment.

Whether fast-stepping or slow-stepping, each step toward accomplishing something greater than yourself means being part of a team. Embrace your brothers and sisters, their strengths, their qualities, and live each step to the fullest as you change the world.

Now, wait a second

In Life choices on December 24, 2014 at 1:24 am

Rushing in is most often a mistake. One must instead count the cost, weighing options and decisions, prior to making a grand and glorious entrance. I know this first hand — through rushing in — and more than once in my lifetime.

Still, there’s something to be said of pressing forward amidst resistance. If we all wait, calculating and determining the “safety” factor, then little will be accomplished in the long run. Sometimes it advantageous to break down the door and storm the castle — but only sometimes. Learning to read the situation on the fly can save headaches worth of embarrassment and backtracking. Therefore, I propose a list, a checklist, to precalculate and predetermine just how “safe” the castle-storming decision will be.

  1. Loss of life and/or limb. Risking your own life, limb, or well-being is a personal choice, but what of the life and limbs of others? Concern yourself with others.
  2. Financial pitfall. Every decision carries with it a bottom line — what will the choice to move, or stay, cost you in dollars and cents? Is the jump worth the fall after all?
  3. Tomorrow is around the corner. Time happens. What you feel at this moment, in this very moment, is already fleeting; what you do with this moment will decide your future.
  4. The big picture. You should have a mission statement, in life, and everything you do should fall inline with that mission statement. Going off script becomes an emotional choice that often carries a backpack of regret.

There you have it. Hold that impulse long enough to run through this trusty checklist and possibly save yourself years of financial, emotional, or physical therapy. And live a little.

When I met you

In Life choices on August 1, 2012 at 2:38 am

There’s a golden moment in time that marks a major turning point in each of our lives. Be it a chance meeting, unexpected happening, planned endeavor, or any number of other possibilities, that moment will forever chance our lives. In what fashion, on what level, through what trial, we may never know, but rest assured that it will be the moment that brings an undeniable change.

Yet a single golden moment may not be all that lies waiting for you — could be that there are multiple events and moments that massage and bend your journey. And each one may add another layer of revelation along your path. Likened to the onion, only you aren’t peeling, you’re covering up, trumping the layer beneath. For to add another layer serves to remind you forever of the choices beneath. You will never forget that moment that changed you, once, and if, you actually discover that moment in time.

To live with fear, to wallow in anticipation, can be that very defining moment; therefore, embrace each day of living as if that time has already passed, and you are marching to that different drum which beats methodologically within you head and your heart. Want not for ownership, but strive to let go of the daily millstone. Lay hold of simple truths that ring loud in the absence of a noisy existence. Give where others take. Love where others fears. Empty yourself of the restless abandon and surrender to what is infinitely bigger than yourself.

And finally, when asked about that moment — whether you knew it or not — smile and share a piece of life’s beauty.