Friday, August 29, 2008
It has occurred to me that I have not really shared any updates on some of the more regular aspects of my life. An update is in order.
I suppose I am making progress on coming out of my existential crisis/dark night of the soul. This period has been very dark and I felt very lost. My faith needed to change or it would die. I feared it was mortally wounded, but that's not really the case. I suppose I am working on upping the amount of awe in my life and realizing that the big questions do not have clear-cut answers.
One of the most painful parts of this process is that the "secular" comforts in my life lost their appeal at the same time many of my old core tenets of faith collapsed under the weight of my doubts. I was in Crabtree and Evelyn looking at $16 dollar soap (which I had bought in the past) and I was sickened a bit. The same occurred when looking at the $1,200 nightstand at Restoration Hardware. I used to be able to dream about a kick-ass condo full of absurdly overpriced stuff, but not anymore. I will not say that I have overcome my materialism by any means, but I will say that I have become disgusted with excess and am striving to "live simply so that others may simply live."
I do plan on posting about "Faith 2.0" in the future, but it is a work in progress (which it will always be) and I have a long way to go before I am comfortable posting anything. I would say I am a "freelance monotheist" at the moment, but that's mainly just because I think the label is clever.
Tithe. I have been pretty consistent in giving to the church, but I will confess it was primarily due to the guilty feeling I had whenever I did not give. I felt God was some loan shark or hit man demanding his cut of my money. I have thankfully outgrown this. Giving is now one of my greatest joys and I look forward to figuring out how I can contribute my resources to furthering the Kingdom of God. It's refreshing.
Church. I am still torn on what to do. I am still attending the church I knew I should not have joined in the first place, but I really do enjoy Christian fellowship. It's not as if you can cast aside a core part of yourself in a matter of months.
Work. I am still enjoying work for the most part. It's so strange having a grown-up job. I have been learning a lot and I get to interact with great people. I also am working on a certification in my field that excites me greatly. If I ever meet any of you in person, I would love to talk about what I do. However, you will most likely need to shut me up because I will bore you.
Relationships. There is still a major lack of those in my life, but I am not necessarily complaining. However, there is a slight chance I may be dating soon...if I am bold enough. My roommate is obsessed with getting me set up with someone (apparently he likes seeing people happy). I don't feel especially dour or unhappy, I suppose he just really wants a project. FYI, one of his potentials is extremely cute, but a little on the young side. I feel creepy dating someone born in '88, even though we are just 2 years apart.
In sum, I am going to be okay. In fact, I am okay. I am working to live, love, and build community. The change in seasons will also help, as autumn brings me great joy and I love wearing coats!
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
A couple of weeks ago a friend and I were discussing the church we both attend. I am a member, but wrestle with whether or not this was a mistake (more to come). Anyhow, we were talking about how it seemed difficult to really get to know anyone at the church. I mentioned another local church I had attended and how they had nametags at the front door. I thought it was a good idea that fostered community. A little later into the conversation the girl said "'Church XXX'...just so you know, it's not really biblically sound and it's a little universalist".
At that moment, I wanted to say "I'm not biblically sound!" I also wanted to mention how I was attracted to guys and this was the primary reason I am uncomfortable at our current church (due to their firm anti-gay stance). I also wanted to mention how I was not really a believer in the notion of hell most often portrayed in evangelical circles (another thing preached at this church). However, I withheld all of this information. We did proceed to talk about the origin of scripture and she laughed at how many people seem to think Jesus FedExed the Bible to humanity in King James English.
Was this the appropriate level of the honesty? I feel like it was. Nevertheless, I do wish I was more up front about the fact I am attracted to guys. There are countless people who still don't know, some who suspect, some in denial, and some clueless. For honesty's sake, there are several reasons I am still not "out". First, moral superiority has always played a major part of my life. While I intellectually understand how stupid this was, emotionally I don't want to give it up. Second, whenever I talk about the fact I am attracted to guys, the old dream of a wife and kids and my midtown home seems to drift further away. I will not lie and say that I am 100% okay with this attraction. I am not so much wrestling with theological issues surrounding it as much I am about the social implications. I still value the opinion of others far too much and seek man's approval. Also, I have a very conservative sexual ethic which stands in stark contrast to a lot of the guys that are out. Third, by coming out fully I would encourage others to come out as well (this was part of my coming out process). However, I am unsure whether I want to force other guys/gals into the same period of questioning and confusion when it comes to merging intellect, faith, and sexuality. There are several guys that I am sure are closeted, and most of them would be dateable due to our similar ethics and moral standards. However, I am nowhere near so selfish as too encourage them out of the closet so I could find a man. Also, it frustrates me that the morals and ethics I value so much are part of churches I have a hard time relating too.
P.S. The girl I was talking to is absolutely AMAZING and I do not want to give any impression that she is naive, bigoted, or any such thing. Just FYI.
Monday, August 25, 2008
Wikihow, I love you:
An Existential crisis can occur when the answers to the questions about the meaning and purpose of life (as well as our place in it) no longer provide satisfaction, direction or peace of mind to an individual or, even taken further in a society.
- The problem you are facing is not your thoughts- it is your attachment to the thoughts. Your thoughts come from your conditioning, your society, your reaction to experiences. Your thoughts are really not your own. At their core, the thoughts are made up of units of societally-created things called words. Your language is not yours, it is from others. So to be attached to language will ultimately make anyone miserable. Therefore, first of all drop the "story." To do this, one can partake in any activity that allows them to flow- especially moving one's body vigorously. And, one can come to Reality- that which truly exists in the non-thought realm- by partaking in meditation or other practices of consciousness (tai chi, Breema). Even a good massage and steaming can do wonders! Then in a relaxed body, look into the world with the help of people who have attained more happiness than the average Joe- any pillar of exemplary morals or knowledge would be relevant. Yet remember they can only communicate words, not Reality itself. They can only use words, like a finger, to point at the moon. Don't confuse the words/finger for the moon/Reality.
- Try to see life and your place in it as they 'really' are. Question everything and attempt to see past all social, political, spiritual and personal conditioning and falsehoods. Know that we humans often feel that we are stuck in a game designed and controlled by others who do not have you or humanity's best interests in mind. When you're in crisis it looks like others succeed through ignorance, fear and the ability to lead you around by the nose. Research the history of civilization and how this rat race began, and how it is perpetuated, then begin to formulate your own understanding as to where it may be heading. Begin to adjust your attitude and actions accordingly to reflect this new understanding. Once you know how we are being conditioned to think and act it is a little easier to think and act for our own interests (and for those we love). Once we begin to do this we will have a new blueprint for our personal as well as collective existence. The rest is up to you.
- Turn on a light, preferably 75 watts or brighter.
- Drink a cool glass of water.
- Clean whatever room you're in. This will help you clarify your power over the world and give you a few minutes to do some basic problem-solving. Don't just straighten things up, but clean. Use a cleaning product. (Note: Does not apply if you have OCD -- cleaning isn't your problem).
- Try to voice what your problem is. Some people write full-length sentences to help determine what their issues are. Others start by writing a poem in order to get their thoughts and feelings flowing. Later, you can elaborate in prose.
- Imagine several different people you like or respect giving you advice. Don't pick anyone abusive. Try Mr. Rogers, your first grade teacher, or that person you had a crush on in 9th grade. They don't help very much, do they? But it's fun talking to them.
- Imagine giving advice to someone else in your situation. Would you still think this was as big a problem?
- Talk to someone who loves you, like a friend or a parent.
- Problem solve. Remember how you figured out how to use that cleaning product? If you can't figure out your problem, that means it's legitimate. If your solution involves making big changes, take a few days to think about it.
- If you can't do anything about your problem right now, accept it. If it's late, go to sleep; if you can't sleep, find something to do that does not involve a television or computer screen. Blue light causes insomnia. You'll want to go to sleep later. If it's daytime, get some exercise or finish your job. Be professional. A few successes never hurt anyone.
- Consider how well orchestrated life seems to be. Some type of consistency does appear to exist, at least on a micro level.
- Although there is arguably no reason to not commit suicide, existentialist thinkers, beginning with Nietzsche on, have foreseen a wave of nihilistic thought among future generations. Nietzsche welcomed the wave of nihilism as he saw it as a phase between the death of old beliefs and a birth of the overman. It is something that must be overcome by the will to power, he states. Though every philosopher who wrote regarding the birth of new meaning in life authored it in such a way that was notoriously vague, it is nonetheless something to research heavily before making any decisions. Notable authors include Nietzsche, Sartre and Camus. Researching their views will lead you to other interpretations of what comes after nihilism.
- If after exhausting research you still feel unsatisfied, you still have gained a lot of insight into the philosophy of the situation. You must know by now that a will to truth is absurd (to use the terminology). Since we truly don't know whether there is meaning to existence or not, we can always fall back on risk assessment. If you put life and death in two columns, and meaningful/meaningless existence into two rows, you will find that living out the rest of your life is the best option (no matter what horror existence may be).
- In whatever situation you find yourself, do no harm to yourself or others, aim to create peace and enjoyment of your experiences. Even though sometimes it hurts, it will pass. Find meaning in the simple pleasures of life through your senses. Stop to smell the roses, feel the sunlight, taste the food, see the beauty and listen to your heart calling. You can create your own meaning for yourself your own life. After all, it is your life, your game, your experiment. Play your game with respect for others, and deal with your circumstances to the best of your ability. To really succeed, respectfully enlist the help of others.
- Remember tomorrow is a new day and another opportunity for you to make changes in your life to seek happiness and self fulfillment. This power is yours, claim it.
- Don't refuse to confront a problem because you've heard that life is supposed to be more meaningful when you suffer.
- Don't do too much thinking after midnight. That never goes well. You might turn into a gremlin or worse yet, a pumpkin. Seriously, you never know.
- If you're married or live with a significant other, here's a rule of thumb: don't wake them up tonight if you did so last night. They love you, but have already given you the advice you need.
- Don't be afraid to laugh and make fun of yourself. It's a good way to find out who you really are. This practice gives you a true sense of personal freedom. This is also a good way to clarify what's really important. If you find it difficult to laugh at something, your problem is much bigger than you originally imagined.
- Remember that 'normal' isn't necessarily 'typical'.
- Take care of your body. Drinking more water can combat headaches and changes in mood and improve brain function. Taking a walk can provide you with a new perspective and a boost of endorphins. Breathe deeply through your nose and out through your mouth; shallow breaths through the mouth are a signal of panic.
- Eat real food and drink plain filtered water.
- Be love in action.
- Find success in small things, this will lead to bigger things.
- Don't be afraid of failure. If you perceive a failure, approach it from the perspective that it is just an experience which gives you wisdom and opportunity for change and growth.
- In fact, don't be afraid at all!
- Choose to live, forgive, learn, love and prosper.
This excerpt is courtesy of http://www.wikihow.com/Deal-With-an-Existential-Crisis
I think I need to clean my room...
Thursday, August 21, 2008
I must confess that I have begun work on several novels. This usually happens after reading something phenomenal (like Harry Potter) and thinking "I can do that!" Alas, I realize just how many words are on a page and the novel dies...so tragic.
I have recently decided to retool my goals and work on a novella. Some of my favorite books are this format (The Awakening, Heart of Darkness). However, the subject of what to write about always comes up. The devil is in the details.
Fiction. This would be my primary goal. I want to be simple, clear, poetic, and profound. Nobel Prize for Literature please! I really enjoy fantasy, but I have been influenced the most by classic literature (Austin, Dickens, Bronte, etc.). Of course, I want to be clever and write something chock-full of allegory and symbolism, yet I don't want to be obvious. So challenging!
Memoir. I do love a good memoir. Some of the best works I have read have been narratives of some personal tragedy. They are tales of love, loss, and redemption. Unfortunately, I have very few dramatic events in my life. Not to say that I have not been through some trying times, I just don't think they compare to the extraordinary lives of others. Also, I have no conclusion. No period of my life with a defined enough timeline to write a story about. I fear the best I could produce is no more than middle class whining...the harrowing account of the time Fossil sold out of the sweater I wanted will not elicit empathy.
Poetry. No, just no. I will not pretend to have the talent.
Self-help! I may have struck gold here! I can write about improving your life. Making a book about how YOU can be fabulous, rich, and perfect. Okay, my conscience would never allow that to happen.
Business-lit. Hmmm...I am not quite succesful enough to do that.
Theology. I love theology. In fact, it's a bit of an obsession. I will admit it's probably unhealthy. I want to know why people (including myself) believe what they believe. I just don't think I have anything useful to add to current discussions.
As you can see, I just have no idea what to write. I wonder if I should just publish this blog in book form...now there's an idea.
Monday, August 18, 2008
I have been struggling with joy lately. It fades in and out, sometimes in the same day. It's not depression or melancholy, it's something different. I think it's really just a side effect of change. The past few months have seen significant changes in my future goals, faith, friendships, work, relationship with family, and more. It's left me shell-shocked. I have been jilted by my future dreams or maybe that's too passive. Maybe I did the jilting. I am still processing so much and striving to be patient. I am learning so much. I am listening more to myself than I ever did before.
Still, I am so torn by my desire to please people coupled with my desire to forge ahead building a life dedicated to my selfish desires. Both of these will lead to destruction and I am cognizant of that. I am fighting hard to change, to stand in defiance, to cast off fear, to overuse infinitives.
During this tempest (hyperbole), I have found joy elusive. Can I please get a Geiger counter for joy? I want to quantify the amount of joy in my life so I can ensure I am increasing it. Haha.
I suppose I am dealing with growing pains. It's natural. I know it will all work out. I suppose right now I must "keep on keeping" on.
Note: I am aware this post is a bit severe. It's just been sitting in "draft" for awhile and I thought it deserved to see the light of day.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
I have made quite a few goals lately and I thought I would share:
- Beat Super Mario Bros. 3
- Pay off all credit card debt by November
- Save 3 months of pay
- Finish every book in my stack of approx. 12
- Complete The Purge
- Pack a lunch 3 times a week
- Start cooking more meals at home
- Laugh more
- Give more
- Care more
- Be more honest
That about sums it up. I'm off to eat a turkey sandwich!
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Anyway, I am working on trying to figure out a way to overcome jealousy. It seems a fairly decent remedy is just putting things into perspective. I have no reason to be jealous. It's not like I am even actively seeking a relationship. I don't particularly want to date anyone. I am in the midst of very narcissiscitic times and need to get over myself before I can start the process. However, maybe a relationship would help speed up the process. Who knows?
That's all I really have for this post. Peace out.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Saturday, August 9, 2008
Friday, August 8, 2008
Thursday, August 7, 2008
Sunday, August 3, 2008
Saturday, August 2, 2008
Friday, August 1, 2008
It's Friday night and I should be out partying like a good twentysomething. However, I decided to start the seemingly simple project of recaulking my bathtub. The mold/mildew was disgusting and Tilex could not get to it. It was under the existing caulk. So, with confidence buoyed by my DYI attitude, easy access to Lowe's, affordability of supplies, and too much HGTV, I decided to tackle the project. I was most excited about scraping up the old caulk! I love making something nasty neat and clean. Little did I realize how disgusting the tile was underneath. I cleaned it as best I could, but I really should have used a mild bleach solution to really get the grime out. However, I was itching to use the caulk gun and replace the old caulking with new white caulking. I loaded the canister into the gun, cut the tip at a 45 degree angle, pressed the trigger...and nothing happened. Try as I might I could not get anything out of the tube! I soon discovered that the caulking was leaking out of the back of the tube. Apparently, there was some seal I was supposed to break first. Alas, it was too late and this tube was shot. Luckily, I had another one and I was able to get it to work! I was diligent in applying even pressure, but it was still quite globby. In fact, it was a bit of a mess. I got carried away and started recaulking areas I really hadn't thoroughly cleaned. It spiraled further out of control once that tube ran out and I decided to squeeze the caulking out of the other tube and apply it liberally using an extra "Gap" collar tag thing I had lying around. To make a long story somewhat short, I have now completed the ugliest caulking job of all time. It's a hot mess (to quote a friend). Also, I was a little careless in avoiding touching the caulking and my hands burn. Plus, the ammonia was not so great for the eyes. Oh yeah, it is pretty much IMPOSSIBLE to wash off your hands. Hopefully the new caulking will serve its purpose. Aesthetics be damned!
In other news, I finally got Skype! I am practically the only one in my family (besides my grandparents) who had not joined this century. Maybe soon (like Sunday) I will have a computer with a webcam. Wowsers, I'm becoming too high tech.
This blog will be undergoing some changes in the near future (hopefully). You should notice some of them in upcoming posts. The rest will come in time.