Thursday, June 21, 2018

Things And Things Of Value

This past weekend, on a whim, I went through my Amazon list to see what was on it and total things up.  The sum total of thing I have identified is somewhere around $550.  Which sounds like a lot, of course - until I considered over time the change in my income.  Which made me look at the larger list of things I want in general and figure out that for a not incredible sum of money, I could have all of them.

It is odd, really - I can remember a time where my material desires seemed to stretch as far as the horizon.  I wanted this, I wanted that - to explore, to try, to test, to enjoy.  But over time, the list becomes less and less, the things either less in amount but greater in value or simply not there at all.

The things I have come to value - solitude, freedom from having to do that which I do not enjoy, perhaps seeing places I have never been - are all thing which are really immaterial in manner and for which there is not really any "thing" to acquire.  But in point of fact they are coming to mean more and more to me.  And the money that was or could be spent on those things now represent the very sort of things that will allow me to acquire more of these new things of value.

A man can have enough books, enough swords, enough house, enough land.  What a man cannot have enough of - time, freedom - are almost suddenly revealed to be the greatest things of value that I never really considered.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

A New Windshield

For my birthday/anniversary/Father's Day, I got a new windshield.

My windshield has been cracked for going on 4 years now.  Originally it started out as a rock chip, one of those bits and pieces flying off a truck proudly marked with "We take no responsibility for broken windshields from flying debris".  Over time and temperature it expanded until I had a lightning strike stretching across the bulk of my windscreen.

I just lived with the issue - after all, it did not impact my ability to see through the windshield at all and to repair it would cost money.  There was also that nagging voice that told me that if I got it repair, surely it would be immediately re-chipped and eventually re-broken.  So I just continued to drive along.

Life with a broken windshield is not as bad as one might thing.  Yes, it is a little bit embarrassing (if such things bother you) and it does make your car look like it should not be parked by (on the other hand, who wants to steal it).  You reach the point that it simply becomes part of your daily existence.

And then, one day, it was suddenly gone.

Rather odd how everything looks without a crack running through it.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Praying For Other Governments

On Sunday at church, as periodically seem to do during a spasm of national concern about this or that, we prayed for our Federal government to make wise, informed choices about the decision they make.  Oddly enough this is not a usual practice (although we are urged by Paul to pray for the governments over us and to be good citizens) but seems to only come up in specific situations.

As we were praying, the though occurred to me  "Why are we not praying for other governments as well?"

We spend a fair amount of time in the media and society being told that we are an interconnected society and a global world, and that "problems" that impact us should be dealt with globally.  But ultimately global problems come down to individual governments of nation-states which make decisions.

For example, we can pray for "our" government to make the right and just decisions about any number of issues - but do we, or even are we, encouraged to pray for the other governments involved as well to make the right and just decisions also?  It feels quite easy to feel that we can pray for our own government and hold it "accountable" (which is only usually used when the policy is disagreed with).  But are we willing to go out on the limb and hold the other governments accountable as well? 

I suppose in some ways this is rooted in my continuing complaint that large scale anythings, be they governments or movements or companies, never solve anything.  It is only (ultimately) at the local level that such things get resolved.  The question is, do we want to pray for true resolution of issues, or only for the resolutions that somehow stroke our own feelings being socially conscious and politically astutue?

Monday, June 18, 2018

Falling Into The Eddies of Social Media

Falling into the eddies of social media has been an interesting experience.

Initially it was unplanned.  I just stopped checking my Major Social Media account as much as I used to - no particular reason, except that I was just finding different things to do with my time.  But I found my check-ins falling away from multiple times a day to 2-3 times a day to once a day or not at all.

What surprised me is how quickly everyone and everything suddenly seemed strange to me.

The Major Social Media - especially if you do not follow it regularly - becomes a mass of short post-it notes of people's lives, information drops of single dollops that become very overwhelming if you are not involved on a regular basis (as a side note, you also realize that you are contributing to the dollop/overwhelming situation as well).

You come to suddenly realize that all of these lives, these dollops of information that continually come in, are rolling along completely without you.  Perhaps it is the nature of the media, but no-one seems to have noticed your absence.  No-one comments on how your posts seem to be coming in less and less than they used to - unless you visibly commit Social Media suicide and comment as such (making your picture go dark, leaving the goodbye monologue, etc.)

In a way, it points out to me how incredibly disconnected and socially inept we have become.

I am fortunate - I have a fairly settled and secure character and am not (on the whole) trapped in needing to be relevant in social media to be important, of having my self worth checked by being "liked" all the time.  But that said, I remember a time where friendships were built on actual contact on a regular basis and how a period of silence or absence would be noticed by those around you.

But now technology, to a large part, determines our "friendships" once we grow up. And social media is no longer a method of catching up but the method of friendship.  We become dependent on the technology not only to sustain the relationship, but to build it in the first place.

My intent is not to re-engage on the level I was.  I am curious to see what, if anything happens over time.  My heartfelt suspicions is for 90% of those involved, I will simply continue to drift into the outer waters of the river of social media and thus lose relevance.  Only the 10% - those who probably really do matter and care - will come rowing down the inlet to check in.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Compassion For Oneself

"When your household sits down to a meal,
if you are wise,
you will first sit down yourself,
and then you will be able to serve them
easily and happily.
In your charity to your neighbour,
remember that your nearest neighbour is yourself"

- John of Forde, (1150-1214), Abbott of  Bindon

(Esther de Waal, The Way of Simplicity:  The Cistercian Tradition)