Thursday, May 31, 2012


Garden watering,
But rain later in the day:
Wish the clouds would talk.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Sounds of Silence

Today I go pick up The Ravishing Mrs. TB and Na Clann from the airport from their visit to the land of Mouse Ears.

It's been an interesting six days, made all the more interesting that three of the days were either the weekend or a holiday.  For once in a long while I can make the statement that I plenty of time to get done what I needed to do.

And was it a productive time?  Yes.  I got a great deal done over the weekend:  Planned my garden and planted some peppers and tomatoes, made two kinds of cheese, took care of the pets, weed-ate (past tense of weed-eat?) the backyard, went to church, went to Half Price Books (twice), had breakfast and coffee with Snowflake, read, watched four movies (for me, that's like four months' worth), made the decision to self-publish and started the process of actually getting the book ready (I have an ISBN!), caught up 9 months of finances, practiced Iaido, and even got to sleep 8 hours of sleep a night.  A pretty productive time indeed.

But even with all this productivity, all this energy, all this time to do what I want to do, there has been a sense of missing something in my life.  That something is my family.

It's odd.  When everyone is here, I sometimes cannot take the level of noise.  Sometimes the state of the house frustrates me.  Alone time becomes something that I actively seek out to (probably) retreat from the seeming chaos.

But in the chaos is the very thing that I need:  relationships. Roles.  Even Responsibilities.  Occasionally fun as well.  But always Love.

So I'll go to the airport tonight, pick everyone up, and be regaled with stories of rides and experiences and rainstorms and how tired we all are.  Everyone will eat and then sleep, and I'll be left in the silence of the house once again.

But a house full, rather than a house empty.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


So I started running down the road of self publishing yesterday.

In looking around at the Internet and myself, what I have come to realize is that I continually keep making excuses for not getting this thing done.  Sure, I can send my manuscript through one more round of reviews (and it needs it), but then I start going through the secondary part, the "I need to get information on publishers and or agents, I need to send letters, I need to wait."

I need to wait.  Is it that I need to wait, or that I have reached a point where it is convenient for me to use that as an excuse for not doing more?

In a world of YouTube, I-Pads, Twitter, Facebook, Blogs and Kindle, the reality is that waiting is one option - but it's not the only one.

There is one thing though, a thing beyond the money outlay (which seems to be minimal in this case):  it's believing in one's self.

That's the thing.  That's the point of all of the technology listed above.  It's all there and makes putting something out in the public eye easier than ever, but it presupposes that you believe in what it is that you are putting out.  And belief is demonstrated by taking the final step of putting your product out on the market and not making excuses.

And maybe, perhaps for the first time since October 2008 when this become a possibility, the years of making excuses for waiting on others and the simple fact of achieving a goal will be reality.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Being Happy

Snowflake was in town to take care of some business this weekend, and so we had breakfast on Saturday and coffee on Sunday afternoon.  On Sunday afternoon, sitting in the humid New Home air, she asks "Where is Happy Toirdhealbheach Beucail?  You need to find him."

Where is happy me?  It was easy enough to make a comment at the time - "I'm sure he's running around somewhere south of here - but as I went through the rest of my day, the question stuck with me.  Where is happy me?

Am I ever really happy?  A fair enough question with probably a less than fair answer.  Not a lot.

So often it feels like I am going through the motions of my life more because I have to rather than any sense of wanting to.  Yes, I understand this is the way it works in many aspects, but the truth is that there is very little - if anything - I anticipate ahead of time from week to week.

Has this happened suddenly or has this been a gradual descent?  I'm too much in myself to full appreciate that, so I'll probably have to go with the general observations of those around me that yes, this has been sort of a long term thing.

Is it depression?  I'm not sure- if it is, it is not the typical depressions I have faced in the sense of a severe sense of hopelessness.  The sense is characterized more by a sense of blandness, of things that used to bring joy no longer doing so, of a sense of a long march to the sea without any anticipation the destination will be desirable.

If happy me is gone, where do I go to find him?

Friday, May 25, 2012

Rocks and Rapids

Sometimes the interesting thing about life is that you can see a major event coming, even as you cannot control it, may have no idea what it is or any idea what you will do about it.  This is the sense that I find myself haunted by these days, a sense of being directed into a channel to which I cannot see the end.

There just feels like there are multiple pieces in play in my life which I control very few of.  On the one hand I simply suppose this is a truth and should be accepted, as much of life is out of our control no matter how much we pretend it is otherwise.  On the other hand, there is nothing worse than being powerless.

What's in play?  Having moved forward with purchasing a home, we find we are constrained by events three years ago to be out of consideration until December at best.  Can we get a six month lease, or will we extend that search another six months? For work: suffice to say a storm is coming and there is little that can be done about.  Virtually all of the outcomes I can think of are bad, but the alternatives are no better.  Nighean Gheal will be at a transition grade this year and to pull here away from where she has been for the last three years is not the most desirable option.  Contrariwise, the type of work I do is not prevalent in New Home; what other options are there, if any?

I write this things to get them out in written form; I scarcely believe that by my writing them any of them will come any closer to being resolved.  But I cannot escape the sense of staring down the beach at retreating water, knowing what is coming but suspecting that no matter how far I get inland, the water will follow.

Thursday, May 24, 2012


Hot and humid wind
drives the clouds that hint of rain:
Summer's arrival.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Making a Difference

One thing I've come to realize about myself over the years - and be powerfully reminded of recently - is that I want and desire to make a difference.

I want to feel like I am improving something in something that matters.  I want to leave at the end of the day saying I made a difference in something that was meaningful in someone's life.

For those that know what I do, the thought may already be there that this is the case.  I have worked around people's health and health conditions for 14 years.  I have contributed to effort to see that things are helped on their way to the people that need them.

But I've come to realize that it is not enough just to work around it.  You need to do something meaningful in it.

At the heart of my job, I'm a paper pusher and persuader.  I actually have little power to do what I need to have happen, so I have to use my ability to cajole and convince to see things accomplished.  But most of those things are really just short term - getting one thing done one time, only to see it swallowed up by the next immediate task. 

I've a vivid memory from when I got laid off of the ultimate permanence and importance of everything I do at work - it's the memory of making files for everything, of boxing things up only to see them being sent somewhere else where they would either be used for something by a successor someday or just disposed of.  It's that memory that haunts me every time I pick up a task to do - ultimately, this is all being put in a box somewhere.

Which is why working on something which is making a difference truly matters.  Sure, these are trivial matters - but all things of importance have trivial matters which must be completed.  It's what those trivial matters are being performed in service of that matters.  I can push paperwork to sell a plastic part, or I can push paperwork to help create a drug that fights cancer.  The paperwork - conceptually, anyway - is the same.

It's what it is being put in service of that makes all the difference in the world.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Hard to Believe, Hard to Live Out

How much do I crave the acceptance of others?

I'm reading Hard to Believe by John MacArthur about the watering down of the Gospel and what Christ actually said about Himself and His message.  MacArthur at worst always challenges me and at best cause me to think long and hard about my life and my faith and how I live it.

As I read through the first chapter, what I as confronted with was two items:  1)  The message of Christ calls for self-denial, not self fulfillment; and 2) The message of Christ is, by its very nature, offensive, and that if we preach the gospel we too will, at some level, will be offensive.

The part that I'm dwelling on is the second, the offensiveness of the Gospel and whether we try to maintain our "good" standing with others or preach it.

Offensive?  The gospel of Christ is offensive if you think about to the unregenerate mind:  You are a sinner and you are unable to save yourself.  Salvation is available, but it means confessing that you are a sinner and have no ability to save yourself by anything you can do, only by believing that Christ came to suffer and die in your place.  It's offensive because:

1)  It means that we are not independent entities unto ourselves.  We have a Creator and we are not the focal point of the universe.

2)  It means that we are sinners. There is nothing we can do - no good we can do - that will ultimately save us.

3)  It means that if we are to be saved, we need to humble ourselves, submit ourselves, and deny ourselves.

4) It means that our lives are no long interpreted by what we believe is right and wrong or what society believes is right and wrong but what God believes is right and wrong.

Note that this does not presume any attacks, any particular sins or religion, anything other than the simple message of the Gospel.  Beginning to see why it would be offensive?

The question comes in how as a Christian I live it out.  Do I really seek to follow Christ - to follow the Great Commission - or do I allow things to slide by because I want people to like me?  Is avoiding controversy a byword for fear of speaking lest I offend?

Of course the Gospel is presented offensively - that's not what I dealing with here.  What I am dealing with is the fine line between being true to what Christ said and valuing the approval of others more than what God has called me to.

Would that I loved God more - or at least denied myself more - to be true to Him.

Monday, May 21, 2012


Yesterday An Teaglach packed up and when to the local Movie emporium to watch The Avengers. The film itself was quite enjoyable to the age groups represented by our family, and we left feeling that we had actually gotten our money's worth (A rare thing nowadays).

After we left I was pondering what made the movie so enjoyable for me.  Yes, it was well done and the effects were great.  Yes, it had an engaging storyline and very good acting.  Yes, the actors portrayed very well the pictures I had in my own mind of what the characters would be like.  But there was something else, something indefinable that moved the movie from the category of enjoyable to the category of something I want to emulate in my own life.

And I then it came to me:  the movie was about heroes acting like heroes - fighting evil.

We live in a world where the heroes society worships have been transformed from defending good and fighting evil to how much the touch and entertain us personally.  We seek to emulate the successful, rather than emulate those who do good.

And in The Avengers, the heroes are shown as nothing other than heroes.  Personal flaws?  They're there in abundance.  Inability to  communicate?  They all have issues.  But never in the movie are they portrayed as anything less than people who, in the end, are seeking to fight for and defend those that need it.

We have let such a high standard fall.  Heroes serve causes, or even serve themselves.  We have debased the term to the point that either everyone is a "hero", or no-one is.

Which is to our detriment.  If we are all our own heroes, if we only worship heroes that entertain or fulfill us, we have reduced heroism to a narrow band that encompasses ourselves.  There are no greater causes, only that which ultimately serves ourselves. 

And heroes which only serve themselves are, in the end, not heroes at all.   They do not call out to that which is within us which is better but only reflect back a larger image of our own selfish desires.

We are, desperately, in need of true heroes - and a society that values them.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Controlling Outcomes

"No matter what you set out to accomplish, if you engage the project determined to control the outcome you will be confused and confounded throughout.  Some things will go well for you, and when you think you have the key to understanding other things will go badly.  It may be  that you do something well twice before it goes badly once.  If you are happy that it went well twice, you will think you are onto something, but then it will go badly again.  This is because you are trying to force the outcome by applying the same tactics to every situation instead of letting every situation flow of its own accord." - Yagyu Munenori

I wonder how many times I have tried to control the outcome and failed - that I went to something with a predetermined cast of mind of how things would be resolved in the end.  Just sitting here thinking aloud, I can name several:  The Firm, Da Derga, all the plans I held dear before we came to New Home.

Can one predetermine an outcome?  A tricky slope at best.  There is, I believe, something to the idea that thinking through and practicing something with a desired outcome in mind adds value, and that mental visualization of the end gives one a goal to shoot for.  At the same time, as Otis would tell me, outcomes (at least in business) are as random and fickle as the wind:  on one hand, endless effort will product nothing while on the other a chance comment will generate a success.

Can an outcome truly be predetermined?  It would seem no - there is so much that we are not in control of, both outside events and people as well as internal (let's face it - we can't even control much of our bodies, let alone the world around us). 

But there are things that we can control, things that we can use to influence events in our favor.  Be ready, of course.  Set our goaks and plan.  Polish our skills and our words.  Train ourselves to think in a way that we do what we set out to do.

And the outcome?  If we are ready, if we have practiced, if we have skill, then we are ready.  The situation, whatever it is, will flow and can be directed because we have not already determined how it should come out.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Running and Walking

Today was a walking morning.

I've been making a sincere effort to run in the mornings, about 2 miles or so.  I've actually gotten to the point that I don't mind do it too much, and my time is not terrible - not that I'm speedy about it or anything.

But this morning, when I got up, I felt like it was a walking morning.

Walking and running are different - and not just in speed.  The biggest difference is in concentration.  When I run, there is some sense of a goal - I'm either running towards the halfway point, or running back from it.  I also focus on the actual process of running - after all, if I pitch forward when I run it has a much more deleterious effect on my body.  Running is an activity which must be done in the moment.

Walking is more of a meditative activity.  When I walk, I am able to think about other things when I am doing it - to contemplate, to ponder, to meditate.  I move much slower, of course - but speed is hardly the point.  I can also take the time to look at things around me in a way I can't when I'm running. 

Yes, there's a goal in walking as well - I do have to make it back home - but there is no sense that I am trying to reach a point or go back.  Instead, it's more of a large circle that I'm making, which will lead me back to where I started.

They're both different I suppose - one more focused on the body, one more focused on the mind, but both with crossovers.  I'll never speed through a 5k walking all the time, but neither will I find parts of my mind and consciousness always focusing on the next step in front of me.

So I walked this morning with a happy heart and clean conscious.  It's not about always doing one or the other - it's about finding the balance between the body and the soul.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Fear is Like Adrenaline

Fear is like adrenaline:  it gives a burst of energy but will not sustain anything.

I had one of those moments yesterday:  the sudden onset of the end of the world, the increased worriedness, the sense of my time suddenly having to be used to accomplish things now, now, NOW!

So immediately I tried to pick up the pace of what I did:  using my time more "wisely", trying to focus purely on work, making plans for using my other time to the point of being able to dedicate more to my employ.  Plans, plans, plans.  Panic, panic, panic.

It managed to hold itself up almost to this morning where, like a sack that is only partially filled, it sagged to the ground spilling out its contents.  I just sat there looking at them, trying to figure out a way to stuff them all back in and carry on.  Suddenly, I found I had no energy (and perhaps no emotion) to do that anymore.

The odd thing (to me, I guess) is that so much of what we do and what we live in is bounded by fear.  In some cases, fear seems to be the preferred environment created by some for reasons that I don't think I would be able to understand - at best, one could say that it creates a certain sort of "motivation", which it does - just not a very sustaining one.

But the only thing more difficult than reacting from fear is to not react from fear.  It takes far more courage and a far stronger will, because one is making the conscious choice to slow down and act decidedly and decisively.  It also takes the ability to push back on others - people or things - that create and thrive on this environment of fear.

It's hard - but the alternative is worse. One can only take this slight edge of panic constantly for so long.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

An Open Letter to Spammers

Dear Spammers:

Hi.  My name is Toirdhealbeach Beucail.  This is my blog.

I figure we'll start with introductions although I'm sure you already know all this, as you (apparently) have come to my blog - some of you multiple times, judging from the statistics that are helpfully tracked for me.

This a formal request for you to stop it.  Just stop it.

Stop coming and posting your advertisements about various drugs I can get for pennies on the dollar or various improvements to portions of my anatomy or great stocks I can invest in for the future.  Stop hiding behind generic websites that can't be tracked and addresses that mysteriously can't be responded to.  Stop wasting your time (and mine) by posting such things.

Three reasons:

1)  Apparently I have a spam guard operating so your postings don't actually go anywhere but into a holding tanks until I delete them in the morning.  If you're getting paid for visibility, you'll make no money here.

2)  If whatever it is you're selling is so grand, go ahead and start a blog on it ( - it's free).  You can post about all the great deals you have and figure how to have Google and Yahoo drive traffic to your site.

3)  This is my blog.  It's where I seek to write about things that are important to me (and occasionally to others).  It's not a forum for selling product (you'll note that there are no Goggle ads posted here - a conscious decision on my part).  It's certainly not your forum.  Have some respect for the creative process and whatever it is I'm trying to do here and simply don't wast your time.

 Thank you.

- Toirdhealbheach Beucail

Monday, May 14, 2012

Glorifying God

How serious am I about glorifying God?

Oh, I know.  We Christians are supposed to be about that, you know.  The Westminster Confession of 1689 states "The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever".  It shows up in most church mission statements somewhere - and most like to say "I want to glorify God with my life."

But how many of us - how often do I - do it?  Really?

Glorifying God is the simplest and most difficult thing a Christian can do.  It's simple because it requires only that we point others to God in all we say and do.  It's difficult in that in order to glorify God, we need to get ourselves out of the way.

"Hypocrites come along and try steal the glory of God.  They want a little glory for themselves....God does not reward the kind of giving that competes for His glory." - John MacArthur, The Keys to Spiritual Growth, p. 43.

"If you would aim at God's glory, you must also be content to go unrecognized as long as God gets the glory....What are your inner feelings when someone gains honor at your expense?  How do you react?  One mark of spiritual maturity is being willing to let others have the credit.  How you respond will reveal whether you are concerned with His glory or with your own." - ibid, p. 46.

I don't like to, of course.  I don't very often enjoy life that, at some level, is not about me.  I have a running list (if you're a long time reader, you know it) of things that I want for my life or issues that I would sure love to have resolved. 

The unhappy reality is that if I focus on glorifying myself with God occasionally thrown in, what I will get is the glorification of man, that passing piece of grass growing in the morning and dying in the evening.  God has nothing to do with that kind of glory, and will reward none of it.

The only path for the Christian who is serious about glorifying God is total self-abandonment of any sense of glory or recognition for themselves.  If God is to be glorified, the focus of anything we say or do needs to be only on Him, never on ourselves.

The question is, do we have the intestinal fortitude to surrender our lives in this fashion?  Or have we so succumbed to the culture and world around us that anything that is not about me is not worthy?

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Blinding Brilliance of Others

Another item learned during this sojourn of the soul is that we can not only be blinded by ourselves, but we can blinded by others. 

More specifically, blinded by our desire for the approval of others.

I became conscious over the last week how much I desire the approval of others - and not just the approval, but the conscious sense of being "in" with others.  It's the peer pressure of high school, garbed in professional clothing and returned for another go around.

I find myself wanting - desperately wanting - the continued approval of others, to be counted as one of the "crowd".  Being outside of the circle has always bothered me, especially for that of information - I seem to crave being in the inner circle "in the know" at a far higher level than I want to consciously admit.

Being apart has made that apparent, as well as the not so dormant longings that continue to exist in me.  It's almost like being in grade school again:  one finds oneself unconsciously wandering looking for an aggregation, or lingering near a conversation, all in hopes of being engaged in it.  If one joins happiness ensues; if not, one wanders back to the increasingly empty office and starts the next pile of work.

Which is why enforced aloneness is a good thing.

I need to work on breaking this incessant need to belong, to be part of the group.  I proclaim myself to be an independent individual, yet find that I am too often dependent on others - not for their assistance or help but for their approval.  Being off and alone seems to help me pay attention to this, as well as to begin to sort out who I really need to seek approval from.

The more we climb the mount of individuality and let the dross of self and need of approval other be washed away by the high mountain streams of silence and aloneness, the more we find the true call of ourselves.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Requiscat in Pace, Tink

Tink the Hamster died yesterday.

She lived a long life for a hamster - 2.25 years in our home (a lifespan for hamsters can be up to 3 years) and, except for the last month or so, a pretty healthy and active one.

She was first in our household, not only because we had never owned a hamster before but because this is the first pet which Na Clann saw come into our home, live and die here.

The other pets they remember - mostly cats - all were part of our family prior to their being born.  The other pets we have - Syrah the Mighty, Bella, Snowball, Midnight and Kiki - are healthy (and hopefully have long lives ahead of them). 

I'll miss Tink.  She was always there in the morning, anxiously chewing away on her cage bars, ready for someone to pick her up and give her Cheerios.  To watch her scuttle about on a couch or bed - to see how quickly she moved from place to place - was amusing, as was watching her run around in her ball.  Sometimes in the ball, it almost seemed as if she was tracking you as you walked around the room.

The best memory I have of her is one morning when I was here at the computer typing in the early morning.  I felt something at my foot - "Cockroach" I internally groaned, and consciously did not look down.  It was there again, so I had to look.  There was Tink, looking up at me on her hind legs, nose and whiskers twitching in the light.  She'd gotten out of her cage and made her way from the living room to the family room.

She's along the side of the house now, next to the Iris from Old Home, buried next to Cedric.

One of The Ravishing Mrs TB's friends suggested that perhaps when hamsters go to Heaven, they're placed in small balls to power the stars.  That gives me comfort - the thought of Tink running endlessly in her ball, occasionally stopping to eat a Cheerio.

Requiscat in Pace.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

The Blinding Brilliance of Self

We are too often blinded bythe brilliance of self.

I've had the opportunity to reflect over the last week in the aftermath of essentially putting myself outside the bounds of my normal life.  It's been an interesting experience, almost a sense of living a dual life within my body.  There are times when I have physically been able to feel the separation between myself and the intervening space and the outside world.

During this period of inner retreat, I've discovered how well attuned I am to my own self and my perceived needs.  It's a bit alarming.

Everything is filtered through the world of me.  Things are good or bad based on their impact on me; words are spoken not only to relay information or truth but to cover myself with glory or improve my standing with others or make myself look clever; what I do should directly (and quickly) make my life better or improve it.

But self is often a poor guide.

We all know individuals - perhaps we are even one of the them - whose life has been greatly impacted, perhaps even destroyed, by self.  People can and will destroy themselves chemically, relationally, financially, even physically - all by listening to self and what pleases it.

"Of course that's true" we're (really I'm) wont to say.  "But I'm not that way.  Sure, I've made a few mistakes in my time, but generally that's not true."

But to say that is not true is to make a value judgement about what the destructive nature of listening to myself can be.

I've not done "horrible" things  - but that's my own judgement.  Is the elevating of myself by belittling another that much less bad? Are the subtle attempts to sabotage my own work (consciously or unconsciously) because I feel ignored that much less bad?  Is bearing my anger internally by not speaking but acting it out in other ways that much less bad?

The reality is that self unbound by something else is ultimately destructive.  We may have good in us, but we are not inherently good.  It's a subtle difference, but it's a big one.  I can do good things - maybe string a great deal of them together - but that does not make me a good person.  Given time and opportunity, I will soon or later find a way to make the world all about me.  All about self.

I need something beyond myself - something that is not created by my self or by other selves with their own agendas (because other selves have their own agendas which tend to serve them)  to guide me in my own behavior.  Something that has an independent standard of what is and what is not good, judged not by its impact on myself or on others but on the world.

Something, remarkably, like God, who has probably been trying to tell me this the whole time.

It's funny, sometimes, how when you are forced into a space of quiet and apartness, you actually begin to listen.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

It Only Takes A Moment

Sometimes there's a moment in which things seem to change.  Occasionally, we actually notice that it has occurred.  I found myself confronted with such a moment yesterday.

I walked into a situation yesterday after being gone for three days expecting to find myself immersed in the same situation as I left.  Instead, I found that I had - at least exponentially - moved to the role of an outsider looking in.

There was no particular warning sign, nor any particular suggestion that I somehow "persona non grata".  It was the fact of walking in a room and realizing that you are just a presence in the room, not an identity.

Throughout the day it remained the same - this sense of being apart, of isolation, of being out of the flow of events where before I was involved in them.  In a real way, it felt as if I had left on Thursday one way and returned on Monday something else.

There are some who might think that I am over reacting to a simple situation or that I am simply being a bit over sensitive after my failures last week. Perhaps that's true - but I cannot be blind to the fact that seemingly in one moment, my life changed.

Is it good or bad?  That remains to be seen overall.  Certainly perspective is never a bad thing, and perhaps in some broken way I am being pushed out of a nest of my own making into a world to grow - into a world where I needed to grow.

But in the back of my mind, there is still this sense of something broken that can be bonded but never fully repaired - of being in but not of. 

Sometimes when you turn a corner, there simply is no going back.

Monday, May 07, 2012


I am working on formalizing the changes I need to make in my life.

I'm one of those people who seems to benefit from something being put down and systematized.  I find this somewhat ironic, as I have always pictured myself as a sort of free spirit.  But the reality is, apparently, that even free spirits benefit from lists.

And so, my lists start to grow.  Not only my list of things I need to do for the week and the day, but lists for the things that occur within that week. 

Not that it's all bad.  For example, now that I know that I want to spend more time working towards Highland Games competition, I need to insure that I start meeting my exercise goals on a more regular basis.  That means I need to split out what I do and when I do it (trying for shoulders/back/legs MWF and arms/chest T/Th) - and make sure that I keep my running up as well.

Or lists for things I want to do in the future.  I don't want to do what I'm doing forever.  But I need to make sure I figure out how to get to where I think I want to be. To do that, I need to start laying out the plan to get there.

Formalizing things seems so far from where I thought I needed to be - but formalizing brings results that are hard to argue with. 

Let the formalizing begin.

Friday, May 04, 2012

Pride and Humility

Yesterday was a day of being reminded of humility

1)  I exercised my right to make a fool of myself again.  Not intentional, of course - that "funny in my head, not so funny out loud" comments.  The fact it was directed at a friend made it all the worse.  What do you say in such a circumstance?  "I'm sorry, please forgive, I'm an idiot" is all you have, but it hardly excuses the fact that it was done in first place - and for the sake of a laugh, of all things.

2)  I also got to execute of my not so favorite tasks:  that of training.

Training, for those that have never done it, is not just the simple act of presenting the training.  It's creating the training and routing it for approval, insuring people are going to be present and possibly following up, and then sending out the documentation so all have a copy of what was being done.

At the end of the training, as people were dispersing, one of the attendees congratulated me and said "It's a thankless task, but someone has to do it."

The combination of these two things - trying to be relevant and funny when it's really more about me and the execution of seemingly "thankless" tasks made me realize that I have a deep and profound problem with pride - specifically, my own.

I am too often proud - too proud, in fact, to think that I should actually be living the life I am.  I crave recognition - not necessarily for what I've done, but for who I am - and am willing to risk that which should not be gambled for it.

Why?  Because maybe I consider what I do - throughout my life, not just my work - to be "beneath" me.  In reading through my journals last night (I have records going back to 1989), what I found is a constant theme of being unhappy with whatever I was doing and the allocation of time - both to suggest that I think that I should be doing something "more important" with it.

But the reality I have to face  - willingly or not - is that my own life is to be an exercise in humility.

Life is made up of a series of thankless tasks, with an occasional task which garners thanks mixed in.  I have reversed the two in my mind, thinking that "thankful" tasks are the norm and the thankless ones should be few and far between and are to be endured.

My response?  In the midst of a thankless task, I do what I can to generate the attention on myself - even if it requires mocking (I use the word advisedly) someone else or drawing attention to an uncomfortable fact to make myself look better.

(It's odd that I physically shudder when I write this - the truth, when presented in the light of reality, can be a harsh thing).

In plain terms, I need to adjust my thinking.

To perform a thankless tasks - indeed perhaps have a life made up of those necessary but overlooked things - is no less honorable than to do a life of tasks which garner that thanks.  The fact is that what I do for a line of work is essentially an entire book of these "thankless" events - things which have to be done and done well, but function beneath the consciousness of most employees.  The same is true in my life, of course - most of what I do outside of work is necessary and needs to be done without the expectation of reward.

Maybe this is a lingering effect of my birthday last week - the sudden realization that life will probably never be as you dreamed or imagined it.  But that is to look for an excuse for a behaviour which is clearly not acceptable (in Christian terms, it's sin). 

Sometimes it is simply the fact that we must accept that which we have given to do and do it, acknowledging from the first that it simply is something that will never be recognized but that the fact that no recognition will accrue is no reason for us to not do the work - or to find other ways to put the focus on us.

It was never really about us in the first place.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

One Thing At A Time

People can really only do one thing at a time.

This thought has been more active over the last week or so due to work, where not only I but everyone I seem to come in contact with seems to have multiple things going on at one time.  The odd reality - at least in my own life - is that I seem to get less and less done, the more and more I get assigned.

Because most things take time - uninterrupted, focused time.  Reading, evaluating, thinking, writing, even doing - these are the products of focus and attention on one subject.  Not delving in fully, not being able to give the needed attention due to interruptions or multiple tasks, means that things will get done poorly - or not at all.

Ironically, this is not how business seems to run.  "Multi-tasking" is the order of the day and (apparently) the road to success. 

But what I've noticed is that most "successful" multi-taskers are not really multi-tasking at all - instead, they're delegators, delegating the tasks to others to complete.  If the suggestion that you as a multi-task drive by victim are not able to complete your tasks is made, the reminder is that really the fault is yours, because you need to "follow up" - repeatedly, like a bull dog.  And having too many tasks to do and have to multi-task too often feels like skating over ice that's a bit too thin:  give it long enough, and into the water you will plunge.

To suggest that more work than can be done in an 8 or even 10 hour day does not represent so much an inability to multi-task as it does unreasonable expectations is to court heresy.  The suggester of such things will be seen not as someone willing to speak the truth but rather as a difficult individual who (who knows?) may be lazy of their own accord.

Interestingly, most of those who become recognized or good at whatever they do - be it art or writing or farming - do so because they've focused and paid the time.  Sure, Leonardo da Vincis and Miyamoto Musashis are out there, but they're the minority.  Most of us do and succeed by finishing one thing, then moving to the next, focusing attention on a small number of tasks over a long period of time.

It's not that I realize this fact about myself - it's the coming to acceptance of the fact and getting others to acknowledge it that is the challenge.  But better the challenge and the clear eyed realism than the constant sense of not quite doing enough - when it could never be done.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012


The ongoing saga of HomeSearch 2012 continues.

The e-mail I sort of expected but dreaded came last night:
- Yes, we were current when approved for our short sale.
- No, we were considered delinquent when the short sale closed because the bank took 6 months to get their act together.
- Bottom line:  best cast we get a package together and take it to the underwriters for approval.  Worst case, we have to wait until December to start the process over again.

This sort of confirms my customary philosophy on things, which is if the answer is not definitively yes, it's no.

Yes, I understand the e-mail doesn't say we can't and yes, I understand that we already have a pre-approval letter.  But I also understand that the logic of saying that we'll go to someone and argue our case when apparently we don't meet the criteria is a weak argument at best.

It's disappointing and confusing because I'm not sure which way to go.  Do we continue to look at houses?  I don't want to be in the position of putting down earnest money and possibly investing in a home inspection only to hear that we have no possibility of being approved?  Do we renew our lease for another year, putting off any kind of change but putting us another year behind earning equity?   Do we just accept the fact that at this time it's not God's will that we have a house?  (Be fair:  the disappointment I feel is that which I created in myself as anticipation of having a home, not anything that God put there)

On one hand it gets back to what I was discussing yesterday, that while I can see evidence that God is providing for us in the underlying  strata of our life, it doesn't feel like the areas of my life that I'd like to see changes in are really occurring.

On the other hand it reminds me (yet again) of the impact that decisions have (usually all the impact for mine seems to be from the bad decisions, not the good ones).  If we hadn't had to have a new house instead of keeping my old one, if I hadn't had to find my own way in life in The Firm instead of continuing to be satisfied where I was, if I hadn't had to change jobs from the company that was doing okay (and is still in business) to the company that went under 5 months after I got there, things would be different.

But then, they would be different the other way too.  If The Firm had had the two or three successes we had needed to keep things going, if the company I went to had succeeded, if the Bank had moved us through the system in a timely manner instead of making us restart the process, we would also be in a different place.

Where does that leave me?  Frustrated.  Feeling powerless.  Feeling that the idea of making no decisions at all is validated by the fact that the ones I make seem to only have impact for the worst.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Not Forgotten II

I continue to seem to go through this "argument" with God.  "God", I say "why can't I seem to move forward in my life?  Why do I seem to be stuck in the same place without the ability to gain traction?"

I wrote here about God intervening in my life to remind me that I was not in fact forgotten.  The same thing happened to me again yesterday - twice.

1)  Arriving home last night, I saw oil on the front of my car.  "Great" I thought, "now what?"  Turns out that when I added oil on Saturday I either failed to completely tighten the oil cap or failed to put it on at all.  However, instead of burning my engine out and dying on the road, traffic was light enough that I made it home with no problems.

2)  Our garage door came off the drum Sunday night.  I tried to "fix" it but seemingly made it worse.  We called the landlord (a thankful right there!) and a very nice gentleman came out last night.  He looked at what I done and as kindly as possible, let me know that what I did was probably not the best thing in the world (as it "lose an eye" not the best thing).  The outcome?  No severe damage to the door, works better than ever after he fixed it.

I find myself caught between the rock of God's provision and the hard place of my own selfish wants.

I say "rock" and "hard place" as if these two were equivalent items but in fact they are not.  God keeps patiently reminding of his provision in more and more areas of my life.  I, on the other hand, grouse about the few areas of my life which (although they feel like they impact me greatly) are only part of the greater tapestry of my existence.

My comparison (if I have one) is actually Midnight the Rescue Rabbit, whom we found living under a car in New Home.  She lives in our living room now. I wonder if she sees her existence now as better or worse - worse from her point of view in not being "free", better (unconsciously so perhaps) that she's not getting hunted or in the weather extremes and being fed regularly.

Am I willing to accept God at His word that He cares for us - not just in the things we want, but in everything?  And if He cares for us in everything, can I accept the fact that in some things the answer to my wants and wishes may be "No"?

I have to conclude that it is not as if God is not active in my life - He has shown Himself to be so.  The question is if I can accept what He is doing, even if it doesn't comport with my desires.