Friday, April 29, 2011


Have you ever been haunted by the feeling that your time has run?

You suddenly look around and realize that the options you always thought were there - dreamed were there - are no longer there? That you have apparently been conducting a dialogue of the deaf with yourself (otherwise known as a monologue)about the future and its possibilities?

Walls that have been carefully and silently constructed over time - some by yourself, some by the simple passage of time itself - reveal themselves to you the moment you smack into them with a running start. The garden paths that once were there leading invitingly into the larger world seem mysteriously overgrown with thorns, leaving the one you are on the only seeming choice to move forward.

In some cases they may still be options - but only buried beneath the weight of leaves and vines, needing to be cut out brutally to move forward. In other cases, the overgrowth is such that you can never follow that path again. It is, simply, gone.

And you suddenly feel inside that perhaps things really have moved on; that life and possibilities, like canned goods, are sometimes put back when the recipe changes - or the expiration date has passed.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Print. Staple. Stamp.

A moment of self-clarity yesterday.

Due to a specific request at work, I set aside other tasks on which I was working and moved directly to fill it immediately. As I sat there working off a list for which I was preparing, I suddenly realized that I was sitting there printing copies, stapling them, and then stamping them with an "uncontrolled copy" stamp.

I was suddenly struck by the fact that this was what 7 years of college, 2 degrees, and 13 years of industry experience had gotten me: administrative work.

On the one hand, this is the critical error with any sort of thinking that discusses the concept of the "working manager": given the option between leading/executing and doing work, the work will always get done at the cost of leading because while many people say they want leaders, they insist all the more that the work is completed. This becomes extras difficult when goals are set around leadership tasks.

On the other hand, it is a good reminder of this season I seem to be undergoing about re-examining my life and what I am doing and where I am going. The reality is that I want - crave to do more than just sit at a desk stapling and printing. I long to do something that makes a difference somewhere, in something - not just preparing piles of paperwork to be looked at once and then moved on.

On the third hand, it's a good reminder as well that education and experience are not as relevant as I might think in the career market. Ofttimes things come to the doers, not the people who with the education and experience happen to be there.

So here's the thought for today: how do I find something that executes leadership, makes a difference, and is a "doer" job rather than requiring education and experience as the gatekeeper?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


A surprising overflow of emotion last night.

I was walking through the course of events with regards to my employment and the fact that I often feel disconnected with what it is I am actually doing, that this is not really what I had ever intended to do. When questioned, I went back 12 years to 1999, when I had applied to my synod to enter seminary - and been turned down.

I am much more emotional about the issues than I had anticipated.

The whole thing is made a bit more real and poignant by my birthday. I look back and see the distance between what that desire was and what career life now is and just wonder.

There is nothing more painful in life than to think you are called to something and be told by others "no".

Life - perhaps my own life - turns into a series of denial, of either trying to prove them wrong (by investigating other routes to the same goal and falling back) or rejecting the very suggestions that they made because, if nothing else, I can obstinate and stubborn (the suggestion at the time was a year of counseling and Ph.D. studies.)

Until one looks up 12 years later and finds one's self in a career and a direction that seems neither pleasant nor sustainable.

There are moments - and this is one of them - where I feel completely lost. That option is no longer open to me, but neither (I think) is the alternate one which was suggested at the time. The current one is not one which can continue indefinitely but neither has the path forward - a path which I think is different, but I simply can not see it.

Is it stubborness that kept me where I am and keeps me here, an ignoring of what the pro-offered will of God was or is? Or is it that this has been the path of God, and I am simply too weak to see it?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


"The end result of successfully building alignment is to get as much mass at the critical point as possible." - Steven W. Michaelson, Sun Tzu for Execution

"Concentrate on a single goal, a single task, and beat it into submission." - Robert Greene, The 48 Laws of Power

"Major definite purpose: This is the one goal, the attainment of which will have the greatest positive impact on your life. You should know what this goal is and be working on it every single day." - Brian Tracy, Victory

"We can form a single united body at one place, while the enemy must scatter his forces at ten places." - Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Do I try and do too much?

There is a fine line between becoming a Renaissance Man (a dying art in this era of specialization) and having so many interests that one never becomes skilled at any of them. One gives you a command of multiple subjects and skills which can be used in a variety of situations and gives one a depth of knowledge to draw on for any situation, the other a smattering of skills which never lead anywhere.

The counterpoint of this is focus: laser-like focus (as Brian Tracy would say) on one objective until that objective is completed. Of course, not just any objective, but that objective which will most impact your life. Focus on the wrong objective simply gives one an expertise that has no impact on your life.

In my thoughts about coals and goals, I am hit by the fact that there are so many coals in my firepit right now - coals going back to well before high school in some cases, coals of things I did once and never really did again, coals of things I thought I would do but never started up.

On that list that I am working on (roles; yes I know, I still need to complete it), what are the roles (and goals) I identified? Are there too many? Or is it that I have not decided which to focus on first?

The Principle of the Mass (Brian Tracy) states that we need to concentrate combat power at the decisive place and time. What are my decisive places and times?

Monday, April 25, 2011


It feels as if my life is a series of coals right now.

Coals? Yes, coals - smouldering embers of life and purpose, having exhausted the fuel which created them.

It feels like so much of my life is essentially going through the motions at this point: I do the activities I have always done because that's what I do; I have the dreams and goals that I have always have, yet seem scarcely closer to them that I did when I started them; so many of my relationships seem to be products of habit rather than engaged.

And now I sit here is the darkening night, looking at the coals that were once my life.

This strikes me as very odd, having just gone through the season of Easter, with the reminder of Christ being raised from the dead and the gift of new life. I hardly feel any of that right now - or it is acknowledged as a truth, a truth which is not impactful on my life in a meaningful way.

So how do I breathe the coals back into life? Or do I - should I just dump the fire totally and go off to set another one? But if I set another one, I need to secure fuel create the fire - where does that fuel (goals, dreams, purpose)come from?

Friday, April 22, 2011

Rabbit Escape

Sitting at the computer this morning, plunking at the keys, then plunking back. Nothing really seems to be catching fire.

Out of the back of my attention, I hear the sounds of scratching and hopping and digging. They stop, then they start again. Finally, thinking it's just more than the morning bunny hop, I get up and go out to the living room to look.

Yup. Snowball the rabbit has escaped again.

I apparently once again failed to completely click the lock on his cage. He has learned that if he puts his weight on the front and the lock isn't locked, he can force it open with body weight. And out he goes.

When I turn the light on, I find him around the other two rabbits' (Midnight and Bella) cages, rubbing his scent glands on their cages to say "Hi". The other rabbits are in the corners of their cages sniffing back, while a circle of rabbit pellets is around the whole cage area, a sort of natural police line tape at the scene of the crime.

I call to Snowball and he comes over and gets picked up. I hold him and pet him for a few minutes - he's obviously in an okay mood, because he sits in my lap, closes his eyes a bit, and makes the low chattering noise with his teeth which in rabbit language means "I'm happy!". After this, I pick him up and back to his cage he goes while I get out the broom and sweep around to collect the droppings for garden.

As I put the broom back, I am suddenly struck by the fact that Snowball never gives up. He always tries the cage in hopes that it will spring open. Why have I lost that energy in my own life, that "try and try again" motive that keeps trying even though you've failed every other time? Is it that I have less energy and determination that a rabbit? Or is it that I have simply learned to give up, that whether or not the cage door is locked, I have come to accept that the door is locked - whether or not it is?

Suddenly, I realize, I may have something to write about.

Out of the back of my attention, I hear the sounds of scratching and hopping and digging...

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Lead Your Dreams

"Don't just follow your dreams. Lead them! - Sally Hogshead

What a remarkable thought. One of those life changing thoughts, the kind that actually makes a difference in your life.

Think about it. To follow something is actively passive. When the dream stops, we stop. When the dream moves, we move. When the dream ambles through country lanes and doesn't seem to be going towards the final goal, we too amble along, undoubtedly frustrated that the dream is not moving faster but accepting of the fact because, after all, dreams are to be followed. Never question the path of a dream.

But the reality is that dreams are really only inner reflections of ourselves. The dreams exist because we have brought life into them. So the (perhaps logical) question is how do we follow something that doesn't exist without our active involvement in making it exist? In reality, if we suddenly abandoned the dream, it would cease to exist. We end up following a ghost which we believe is a life destiny leading us but in reality was a construct we imbued with life in the first place.


Unless we do as Hogshead suggests and lead our dreams.

Would this make our dreams any less powerful? Not at all. Does this make them any less real? No - because as products of our thoughts, they are no more or less real being leading or being followed.

What this does do is that it recognizes them for what they are - our aspirations, our goals - and what they can inspire us to, but acknowledges the fact that a dream is no more likely to lead us to success than a wish is. The reality is that the dream will only come true through effort and work, not be simply following.

So bring your dreams along - absolutely. You'll need their inspiring talk and laughter and occasional jokes along the journey to help you. Just understand that a dream is a companion - an inspiring one - but never a guide.

Like many other things in life, that is a role only you can fulfill.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Out of Synch

Yesterday it was brought to my attention that an aspect of my life is not in synch with what it should be. It's one of those moments when, of course, you believe that you are doing everything appropriately - and then someone tells you you are not really doing it at all.

(Yes, I'm being cryptic. Live with it).

This is one of those moments which some author would cheerfully describe as an "Opportunity for Self Discovery and Improvement". I assure you, if this is an opportunity, it feels nothing of the sort.

You go through a series of stages during the discussion: first denial ("That's not really true"), then anger ("They're mischaracterizing the behavior"), then bargaining ("Well, maybe some of it is true"), then depression ("I suppose it's all true. I'm wretched and there's no hope of improving"), and finally, acceptance ("I have to deal with it, no matter what my perceptions"). The five stages of death, conveniently compressed into a two hour period.

The problem is, I don't really know what to do about it.

To fix the problem as it is being suggested is not really to fix the problem - it's to meet the prescribed formula for resolving the problem. The difficulty is that in doing so, I will simply become something that I don't really thing that I am - but maybe that itself is part of the problem. On the other hand, it cannot be ignored or pushed aside - that leads to consequences which are more severe than the initial problem itself, and there is a time limit.

Which leaves me here in this limbo of the souls, trying to figure out where the third path is in the face of only two branches.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Feeling lost in my life this week.

This schedule change for work has begun a process whereby everything has fallen into disarray. Part of the disruption of the schedule is that the carefully constructed way that I run my life has become completely unhinged. My body is trying to react to one schedule, my mind to another.

The schedule change has affected the way I work as well. Seemingly, this thin line has started to come between myself and my reports as our schedules now don't overlap as they once did. Suddenly, that difference between "bosses" and "workers" which I have seen on other places (and participated in) has happened to me as well.

Within myself, I seem to suffering from a personal sense of inertia that I wrote about yesterday. Simply put, I'm not really feeling the time or energy or enthusiasm to really do much of anything.

The problem is that I cannot tell: do I find myself bound in by fear? By depression? Or by some third thing that I cannot name?

I feel that I am flailing in my life - flailing for direction, flailing for traction, even (to some extent) flailing for meaning itself. Every direction seems to lead nowhere, every effort seems to peter out, every activity seems to be empty upon completion.

If there is a direction to my life at this point, a tack across the wind towards a distant continent - I simply cannot see it at this point. I just see miles and miles of empty sea with only a harbor I had known receding in the distance.

Monday, April 18, 2011


Inertia is the enemy of self-development and direction.

I spent a day full of inertia yesterday. I could make the excuse that yes, I had been traveling and so deserved it, but the reality is that I essentially made excuses for myself to do very little.

Inertia also betrays you every time. It convinces you that you really do deserve to take it easy, to cater to your every whim, to just "be" - then sneaks up and wallops you with a 2 x 4 when you are not looking.

Am I speaking against relaxation or introspection? Not at all - I benefit greatly from both of those elements in my life (and you'll not find a greater advocate of introspection than I). But what I am getting at is that sense of slowing down because I "deserve" it. Quite the opposite - what I've come to discover is that when I am feeling that need to be inert is precisely the time I need to be at worst careful, at best on to doing something else.

Because what I've found for myself is that if I do surrender to inertia, the slide to becoming completely self absorbed in pleasing myself (to the detriment of those around me) is far quicker than I can calculate. It doesn't help others - and ironically, it fails to do for me the thing it promised. I am less rested, less self aware, less developed than I would have been otherwise.

Of all the things I battle against, I am the most difficult of all.

Sunday, April 17, 2011


An epiphany this weekend. I suddenly realized, at the core, what I - and I think everyone else - wants in their heart of hearts.

They want to be wanted.

Ah, wanted, you may say. Isn't that really a synonym for desired, for loved? Can't you use them interchangeably?

I used to think so. I don't think so anymore.

Wanting to be wanted, at the core of our being, is the naked and humble admission that someone wants us for us, not what we can do for them. It is the deire side for agape love, that love of God that loves the individual for what they are, not for what they can do for them or how they react to that love.

Oftentimes that desire to be wanted turns into other things, making decisions or taking actions to make the other person (and could be anywhere: coworker, lover, friend, relative) continue to want us. We do things that we would not normally do, sometimes even taking risks we would never otherwise do - all for the sake of continuing to be wanted.

Why? Because being somewhere - a job, a friendship, a relationship, an organization - where you are not wanted is the most painful thing in the world. There is nothing worse than realizing that you are being tolerated or even that you are present merely as a functioning part, that you could be replaced at anytime and never really be missed.

But to feel wanted - to know you are somewhere because you make an impact, that you are in a friendship or relationship because the person really wants you, and lets them know that they want you - is the most empowering thing in the world.

Ultimately, this wanting is only fulfilled in our relationship with God. I can scarcely imagine the intensity that God wants us with - the intensity that Scripture says He wants to love us, wants us to be with Him, wants us to become like Him. If we could only grasp, in some small way, how strong His wanting is, what a difference in our lives it would make.

But maybe that's what these other wantings are for: to helps us realize that what is true of our desire for relationships with others is ultimately true of our relationship with God.

Are you letting those in your life know how much they are wanted?

Thursday, April 14, 2011


I am sitting here in bed on the road, thinking.

Traveling for work is at the same time a blessing and a curse. It's a blessing because it allows you to go other places, to see other companies and how they do things, to occassionally see something new and (maybe) try some new food.

On the other hand, it's a curse. I never (ever) seem to sleep well, even with the circumstances of a quiet room, thick bed, and the lack of a child occasionally walking through or Syrah deciding she needs to get up at 3 AM. The silence can also be a bit disconcerting as well - going from a busy office and home to the serene silence of an audit and temporary locations is a bit jarring.

However (me being me), the thing that is the most different is simply the loss of my schedule.

I am a creature of habit. On any given workday morning, I can tell you what I am doing based on what time you suggest to me. This is all completely shattered when traveling - not just from the time rearrangement but from the very schedule itself: no rabbits to feed, breakfast is at a certain time (and not at all what I typically have), most of what I read is not with me, my blog posts may or may not end up on the interent depending on coverage.

But is routine all the good - or bad?

Certainly having a routine every morning helps me to maximize my time spent. I have reached the point that generally I feel that by the time I have left the house, I have accomplished a great deal personally. At the same time, is it all that I could be accomplishing? Could I be doing things differently - or better? Having a routine doesn't allow us to question this - only when we are shaken out of it do we stop to take a moment and question everything: Should I be doing this? Should I be doing something else?

Because like in many other aspects of our lives, we sometimes continue to do things beyond their point of usefulness because we have always done them. Only a new perspective will give us the means - or the courage - to question.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Purpose VIII: Entrepreneurial Agriculturialist

(Another in our continuing series of "Let's Make a New Life", based on Craft the Life You Want: Creating a Blueprint for Your Future at Today's exercise, based on prioritization of roles, is to define a purpose for each role).

Today's Purpose: Entrepreneurial Agriculturalist(and Gardener)

(From here, things start to get fun.)

I freely admit this is something of a made up role. It's based on a combination of concepts from Gene Logsdon, Masanobu Fukuoka, Joel Salatin and others. The concept is not that one is just a farmer or rancher or gardener or beekeeper, but that one approaches it in such a way with an innovative and business mindset, the way one would do any start-up. For my purposes, it also incorporates a concept of low impact sustainable agriculture - trying old practices in new ways.

It also meshes deeply with one of my heartfelt mission goals in life: To preserve The Ranch as much as possible, to make it a functioning (or functional) example of Entrepreneurial Agriculture, to preserve a piece of mountain wilderness which is sustaining and where one can still hear the voice of God amidst the wind through the trees.

Pretty heady stuff for a guy who, at the moment, manages three rabbits and a fairly small garden. At the same time, I would say that outside of Author, this is the role that sings to my heart the most in terms of life purpose.

The eulogy I'd like to hear? "TB was an enterpreneurial agriculturalist who sought to manage the land in such a way that it was preserved and it produced healthy and sustainable food. He passed a love of nature and growing/raising food to all those around him."

I confess I get somewhat excited reading that. I'm cognizant of the fact that it doesn't capture crop failure, or the hot sun and cold rain, or losing animals to the local predators, or the generally low wages we pay the people who we depend on to raise our food. But it touches something deep within me - something that my day by day pushing of paper cannot even hope to ever touch.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Purpose VII: Friend

(Another in our continuing series of "Let's Make a New Life", based on Craft the Life You Want: Creating a Blueprint for Your Future at Today's exercise, based on prioritization of roles, is to define a purpose for each role).

Today's Purpose: Friend (and counselor).

Another one of those roles I look forward to with relish

I enjoy friendship. I really do - not the tepid acquaintance that our society so often offers as friendship, but the true sharing of two souls in relationship.

I was very lucky that in growing up, I always had friends - good friends. I had the same group of friends in various clumps of my life: all through grammar school one set, all through high school another, all through college another, all through Old Home another, and now here. I'm fortunate that some of my best friends continue to be some of my oldest friends even today (Uisdean Ruadh) would fall here)while others (Otis, Songbird, Bogha Frois, Silverline) are of more recent vintage but equally valuable.

And part of friendship - a part which I relish the most, not just with old or dear friends but with those everyday friends we make in each waystation of our life - is counseling, of being a friendly ear, of being able to listen and help to lift a burden (if I have some advice, great - but sometimes the greatest thing of all is simply being able to be that listening ear, that shoulder to beat on). It is a singular honor - and pleasure - to be chosen by someone to be worthy of their trust in revealing something of themselves, of their inner struggles, to you.

My wished-for eulogy: "TB was friend who you could go to with your problems and always listened, who had advice - or a joke - as needed. He was the sort of loyal and good friend that everyone needs to have."

A pipe dream? Do I rate friendship too highly? Possibly, but I don't think so. Friends are the chosen family of our souls. The friends we choose and keep are the ones we can go to time and time again when life chews us up and spits us out - or when life grants us golden sunshine and rainbows. Friends can support us in ways and times that even our family cannot.

I want to be that kind of friend.

Monday, April 11, 2011

A Fork In the Wall

"But God did not place you on this earth to waste away your years in labor that does not employ His design or purpose for your life, no matter how much you may be getting paid for it." - Arthur F. Miller Jr., Why You Can't Be Anything You Want To Be

A not so related - but perhaps terribly related - thought on purpose this morning

I am feeling as if my career, and indeed my life, have come up against a large wall which I cannot get over, under, through or around. It's as if all my efforts just impact off its surface and come bouncing to the ground. In words I feel drained, confused, powerless, inert, mentally foggy, and directionless.

Every attempt to engage myself in my chosen career leaves me feeling empty. No matter how many time I try to engage myself, to do better, to get "charged" about what I'm doing, I always come back to the same feelings of disillusionment and unenthusiasm as I leave for the day.

The time may have come, it seems, to simply state that I'm really in the wrong industry and the wrong career field, that I may have gone as far as I can.

Ironically, it brings me no joy to write this. Why? Because to seriously contemplate this thought is to say that 43 years old, I have no idea what the next step is - except that it is not in the same direction that I have been proceeding all this time.

But Miller's quote above resonated with me last night after I read it. Regular readers of this blog know that for years I have struggled with the disconnect of my life between what I am doing, the money I am earning doing it, and if God would judge my use of His gifts in this position to be what He has designed me for. Miller's quote - which if I am honest, mirrors my own internal thinking - says no.

But that said, what next? I can't simply go leaping off a cliff with no parachute or destination in sight (been there, done that, have the scars to prove it).

Here's a concept: do I actually have enough faith in God that as I sincerely ask to be shown the next step, as I begin the process of re-evaluating my life (and make a priority of it), that as I choose a set of tools and follow them - really follow them, not just give them a passing glance - that as I do all this, God will truly guide me in what it is He has designed me to do?

Do I have that kind of faith? Can I? Because it's become readily apparent that where I am, what I am, how I am, is not really working.

Friday, April 08, 2011

A Short Program Break

Last morning of being "Captain Dad" as The Ravishing Mrs. TB and Nighean Gheal return from their three day/two night field trip this afternoon.

It's been an interesting experience.

One of the interesting parts that surprised me is how a schedule change works. Suddenly I am out the door at 0730 to make sure everyone arrives at school on time. Work is no longer bounded by a long period of time: I have to leave by 2:30, so everything is packed in that period. No-one questions, no management gives the glowering eye of "You should be here longer."

At home, there is a lot more direction: Is your homework done? Do you have anything else to do? Life becomes a series of simple tasks which need to be performed and verified. Then, at the end, there's a brief period of time called "Yours" before it starts over.

But it also has allowed me to spend more time with Na Clann, which has turned out to be a wonderful thing. The reality is (and I don't know how to fix it) that work takes 10-11 hours out of my day, including 2-3 hours every day where my children are how but I am not. Which seems sad.

It also reminds me of time management and time spent. When I watch a movie with my daughters because they want to watch it with me yet feel guilty because I'm not "using my time" more effectively, something is terribly wrong with myself and my perception of what "quality time" and "time management."

Will these past three days solve all my time management problems? Hardly. But has it given me just a smidge more consideration of what is important in my time planning and less so?


Thursday, April 07, 2011

Purpse VI: Brother

(Another in our continuing series of "Let's Make a New Life", based on Craft the Life You Want: Creating a Blueprint for Your Future at Today's exercise, based on prioritization of roles, is to define a purpose for each role).

Today's purpose: Brother.

Sigh. This one is even more tenuous that that of "son" yesterday.

The fact remains that I am a brother to my sister and an uncle to my niece and nephew. The reality is, this impacts my life very little from day to day.

As noted yesterday, the role of brother is one that can diminish - more so now than ever, with not only the advent of distance but the advent of children and families which keep us busy with our own issues. Add to this if one's family are not great phone or e-mail conversationalists, and suddenly there is a communication silence.

Not that that is bad - after all, we want to see our relatives spending time with the ones that immediately need them, not just catering to a perceived role that has morphed but we continue to live. Still, how does one fill the role.

The eulogy? Simple: "TB was a good brother, present and supportive."

I think that "Brother" becomes a great deal like support role (sort of like son, I suppose) - that when the need is there, you're there; when not, you keep the lines of communication open.

Can I do more to keep the lines of communication open? Sure. I'd be lying to say my communication skills and initiatives are any better than most people's - we talk to those to whom we make time to talk.

But other than that, it's wait - and prepare one's self against the day that the need will come.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Purpose V: Son

(Another in our continuing series of "Let's Make a New Life", based on Craft the Life You Want: Creating a Blueprint for Your Future at Today's exercise, based on prioritization of roles, is to define a purpose for each role).

Today's role: Son.

This role is a interesting one to write from at this stage in my life. I have my own children now, and am some 1800 miles away from my own parents. Much of what was "done" as a son has already been done (and some should probably have been undone at the time, of course, but that can't be helped now). At the same time, I am the example to my own children about how a child acts towards their older parents - which is again a position that I will someday find myself in.

Another (unhappy) thought is that this is probably a limited time position. Maybe there is another 20 years of this role, maybe not - either way, it's one of those roles that is time sensitive in a way not many others are.

So what would I like my eulogy to be for the role of son?:

"TB honored and loved his parent."

Kind of weak, isn't it?

But that's all I can seem to come up with. I honor my parents through speaking well of them, seeking their advice, trying to be the son they deserved (instead, at times, of the son they got), of helping them in ways when the need it. I love my parents by honoring them.

Is it wrong that I can't think of something more glamorous or glorious to fill this space? Or is it simply that in many ways, the role of parent/child often morphs (or should, anyway) into a sort of role of friend?

(Which brings up a slightly more interesting - and macabre - thought: the older we get, do certain roles and the memories and importance of them fade? When people in their 70s and 80s die, their role as a child to their parents is seldom, if ever, remembered.)

Odd thoughts indeed - thoughts I have never had before. I'll bear them in mind, even as I go about my day to day tasks. Certainly honoring and loving someone is in itself a large task, perhaps larger than anyone ever thinks of.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Purpose IV: Author

(Another in our continuing series of "Let's Make a New Life", based on Craft the Life You Want: Creating a Blueprint for Your Future at Today's exercise, based on prioritization of roles, is to define a purpose for each role).

Today's purpose: Author.

Oh, I've been looking forward to this one.

Outside of very few other things in my life, this is the one thing that I would like to do a great deal more than I do - and, I might add, the only one which I have an even very small chance of getting renumerated for (swordsman doesn't pay so well these days).

As I've mentioned numerous times before, I love to write. I really do. Not just because I would someday like to make money at it (I would), but just for the sheer joy of putting language together. It helps me keep my sanity by allowing to pour my thoughts and frustrations out onto a sheet. It also (occasionally) gives me a sense that I can actually help someone think, perhaps gain a little joy or perspective, or even just say "Man, that was well written".

So what would I like my eulogy to be from readers?:

"TB was an author who wrote with passion and excellence. He wrote in such a way that he called out the best in readers - in imagination, in purpose, in changing their lives. He entertained and taught and glorified God through his writings. By reading him, lives could change."

Ironically, I feel a bit silly as I write that. That's a tall order for anyone in their lives for anything: calling out their best, changing lives, entertaining, teaching, glorifying God. It almost reads as the statement of a teacher.

Maybe that's the latent teacher in my bloodstream coming out from where it's been hiding all these years.

And even as I write this I feel myself starting to pick on this already in my brain: "Write? You? Where will you find the time? And audience - authors publish books based on who they're audience is and how big it could be? Your audience is who?" The thoughts I face every day before I sigh, get dressed, and ramble off to the bland life I seem to despise so much.

But that's it, that's my purpose in writing (even writing here, as foreign as that sometimes seems). My deepest desire is that somewhere in your life, Dear Readers, you would be changed by something I have written.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Purpose III: Father

(Another in our continuing series of "Let's Make a New Life", based on Craft the Life You Want: Creating a Blueprint for Your Future at Today's exercise, based on prioritization of roles, is to define a purpose for each role).

Today's role: Father.

In some ways, the most daunting role of all. Few other roles bear within them such possibility for good or evil, something that may only become self evident years after the fact.

I (like most, I think) will look back at the experience and memories I have of my on father as the beginning of the basis of the impact a father can have. And mine was good - overall, very very good (although it certainly didn't feel like it at the time). Good to the point that now, when I think about it, I can honestly say "I wish I was more like my father".

But then I look at my own children, and suddenly I feel completely overwhelmed.

In some ways, I know precisely what I want to pass on to my children. I want them to have a deep love for God. I want them to love each other. I want them to love the world that God created around them. I want them to use whatever talents and gifts they have to fullest of their abilities. I want them to make an impact for good on the world around them.

But then I look at myself and my relation with them - indeed, my general demeanor when I am around them - and I wonder how truly effectrive I can be.

I am not a patient man. For me sometimes, silence is the best I can manage because I cannot take the level of bickering, of being x years old, at times. So often I let the fact that what I do (and how lost I feel in it) influence my reactions around them when I am home. And, all too often, if feels as if I am more focused on myself and the limited time I have to do "my" things rather than assisting them in preparing for their lives.

If that's the case, what would I like my children's eulogy to be of me?:

"Our father was a man who helped us learn to love God and and be confident in ourselves. He encouraged us to find those God given talents we had within us and learn to use them. He loved animals and nature and taught us to love them as well. He gave us his love of music and learning and family.

When we grow up, we want to be more like him."

It has been said that we are archers and our children are the arrows. We fit them to the bow as best we can and let them fly towards a horizon we will never reach.

If, at my death, I could let them fly towards that horizon, leaving that eulogy behind, I should think that in (at least) one area, my purpose would have been complete.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Purpose II: Husband

Welcome to our continuing series of "Let's Make a New Life", based on Craft the Life You Want: Creating a Blueprint for Your Future at Today's exercise, based on prioritization of roles, is to define a purpose for each role.

Today's role: Husband.

Well, here's one that's never been open to any kind of cliche or over (or under) use. How many times throughout history - throughout my own life - have someone made a commitment to being a better spouse.

And what does being a better spouse mean, precisely? That's part of the challenge. It means different things to different people. Some view being a better spouse as providing more, or spending more time doing things with the family, or giving individuals more time to do things on their own, or just being sure to walk the dog every day. So in the end, part of being a better husband (or wife) depends as much on the other individual and how they feel their needs are being met as well as how we feel that we can meet that requirement.

So armed with that seemingly large mishmash of pastels, what do I want people - my wife - to say about me after I die?:

"He was a good man and a good husband who provided for me and his family and made us feel loved."

Wow, even more cliched that I had anticipated.

Well, maybe, maybe not. If I could just do that - provided for my family, make them feel loved - I would have done a lot more than what those simple words indicate - both because I suspect there are many who would say "I"ll take that" and because just because the concept is simple, it doesn't mean it's simplistic. In fact, there is an argument that providing and loving can be some of the most difficult, exhausting work to be done in any marriage.

If you don't think so, try providing for and loving your wife (and your children) in a situation that at best is not enjoyable to you or at worst is life threatening (not that I'm there, of course), and see how "simplistic" it is.