Life is Catching Up

I apologize for being consistent, but I will not be posting on the usual time this week. Life is  moving quickly, and there are many ends to meet this week. I will try and squeeze time in later on. I look forward to continue exploring love with you when I can catch my breath.

The Writer

Exploring Love Part 2

Hello and welcome! Last week I tumbled into love, and this is part two. Since I am following no frame work to organize these thoughts yet I recommend giving last week’s post a read to catch the all too important details.

To sum up the main points, I supposed that love as it is meant to exist does not exist very often.  I meandered through a good working definition of love  that means to be for someone or something. I also concluded that we cannot sustain love on our own because we do not have enough of it by ourselves. At the same time I concluded that in order to have love it must be shared. Instinctively I know these are both true. Somewhere on the road I learned love is exchanged through relationships, so we do need to give it to have it. I also learned that giving love away without being filled in return will eventually sap someone of their capacity to love. Since this is not a thesis I will not need to go any farther than this, but please feel free interject here. I am looking at this part through a my own lens. Let me know what your lenses tell you. For now I am going on as if these were true.

The paradox between not having enough love and needing to give it away makes sense if trust is considered. If you show your support for someone just to get love back the act loses its meaning. Unconditional love does not exist if the motives are only to fill in your own needs to receive love. At some point the one taking the bait will catch on to this conditional giving. To make love right involves just giving of yourself because you want to. The latter action says, “I care about you.” the former says, “I care about me.” In order to give love well there needs to be trust that you will receive the love you need somewhere. Without trust it is hard to do what it takes to be in a relationship where love can thrive. Sometimes the trust is challenged by hard experiences, but the trust needs to be there in order to be able to give love as well as to be able to receive it.

Trust solves the perceived paradox very well. It also brings the idea of risk taking to mind. You see trusting relationships are not formed quickly. In relationships new or old it can take a while to count someone as trust worthy with parts of your life. There is a great deal of wisdom in being a good steward with your heart, and not giving it all away to something you do not know is safe yet. But at some point there needs to be an initiation of relationship or a risk. I suppose this would be like being an investor. They would throw a little bit of cash on this idea or that idea to see if something happened. This analogy quickly breaks down since the  investor is expecting a self gratifying return, but there are some shared aspects with love here. Scatter some love here and  some there you will see some take to it and you can give them more. Eventually love comes to roost in this way.

I have definitely concluded one thing about love; it is an enormous topic to explore. There are so many aspects to love that I want to explore more. Love is at the center of everything that we call good and true in this world. I realize how many times I have heard this said in life. The Beatles have put some variation of this truth in their songs no less than 8,196 times.* In just in focusing my thoughts on the role love plays in my life I am discovering these truths in much greater detail than I had before. I could run with this topic down until my fingers are nubs. However, I will only dedicate the next few posts exploring why love is some important and what does love do for us/to us. Perhaps we can all benefit from an out loud truth finding conversation about the most important thing in our lives…ever.

I am running out of time this week. I am breaking away from an engagement that I could not avoid to write this, so I apologize for the brevity of this post. Next week I will continue exploring aspects of love. I will also attempt to introduce a framework for how I will go about this exploration so I can be more organized in my thoughts.

Until next week!

*Entirely fabricated, but you get the point.

Tagged , , , , , , ,

The Love Post

Hello there! I would like to first  welcome the new followers of this blog. Be sure to read the “Why am I Writing This” section to get an idea for what the blog is about. I hope you enjoy the ride with me! Also please feel free to bring your thoughts and feelings to the discussion. I really got a lot out of the comments from last week’s post! Thank you for bringing more life to the conversation!

Let us talk about love tonight! Love is a basic and core part of life. I think it is good to explore one of the core pieces to being human once in a while. Yes, it is entirely worthwhile to talk about love! So, let me say something about it.

The first thing I want to say is love is not sexual attraction. Romantic love is a primary source of love for some adults, but it is by far not the only place that love comes from. In addition, not all romance ends in sex. In an ideal life you would get love from your parents and siblings first. Then you would get love from the close community your family has around. As you grow older the love you receive would come from a community of people that you gather for yourself. This group would be called your friends. Next you would search out for a person to share all this love with. This would be your future spouse. He or she would have their own circles of love in their life and the two circles would meet each other and thus create a large circle of love for the couple to have their own family in. Love is everything from birth to death, and not just the sexy parts of life.

The second thing I want to say is love is a needed thing and love is in short supply. There is good evidence that this ideal picture did not happen for a broad swath of the population. Somewhere on the chain things got really messed up. More than likely, the chain was messed up long before our births. Nobody knew something was broken and/or how to fix it if they were aware of the problem.

So if we need love and there is not enough of it on hand the next logical question would be, “How do we make love?” The problem with love is that it is not entirely up you to bring love into existence. On your own, love that is given and not received will eventually dry out.  On our own, unreciprocated love does not last long. The truth as I have found it is no one person is enough to fill their lives with the love they need.

Also love does not seem to be just a send receive relationship. With real love there is no giving to get. When someone gives to me in love I know it, because the person simply wanted me to have something they thought I would better off with. If you had that experience, the warm glowing feeling you get is love. It appears there is a paradoxical relationship in not having enough love on your own to give without receiving, yet making love is to give and not be concerned with getting love in return. But I am doubtful this is the entire picture.

At this point, I need to back track.  I have avoided the question that should have come first.  “What is love?”  Anyone that has been to a reasonably Christian wedding has heard 1 Corinthians 13. To paraphrase, it says love is patient, kind, and everything nice. Everything that is mentioned in this part of the Bible is true about love , but the writer does not define what love really is. To me love simply means I am on your side. Love means to be for someone. If I love you I will do what I can for you. If there is something I think will be good for you, and you would be better for it I would want to give it to you.

There is plenty to explore regarding love, but I need to stop for tonight. I will certainly pick up were I left next week. I am looking forward to getting into about what being for someone means. I will also get back to the paradox next week as well. There is no end to the things that are worthwhile to talk about when it comes to love. I can continue on exploring the facets of love for quite a while. Maybe I will.

Thanks for reading and good night!

The Writer

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Men, Masculinity, and Manhood

Hello there! Today gender issues have been on my mind. I get the impression that there are a lot of men that are not sure who they are. I want to take this week’s post and talk about what I am seeing with men today. I am going to keep it clean, but I do not want to be so clean as to sanitize my truth. There are some difficult things about gender for me as I am sure there are things about gender for everyone. I am also curious to know what your thoughts and feelings are regarding men. The range of perspectives on the male gender run as deep and wide as the oceans.  If you have a thought please share it.

Men are all sorts of things in this world, but the thing I do not like seeing in a good deal of men is the confusion about what to be. If a man decides to cry is he less? Can a man let another man hold him and be ok with intimate nonsexual touch? Do men realize how healthy that is, and how thirsty they really are for male intimacy? These questions arouse in me a desire to project what I think is true for men.

When I think of what a man should be many things get stirred up. I know several types of men in my life, yet that does not run the whole gamut of the types of men that there are out there. Does strong, tender, and intelligent really encapsulate all that a man should be? I should hope not. What one dimensional socials lives we would all have!

The problem I am having with putting men into a few boxes is that most men do not fit all the way into them. A man with a sensitive heart and an artistic leaning would not identify with a definition of a man that said they needed to be stoic, and therefore think he might not be a “man”. That is unless he was of strong character enough to say “to hell with that!” It appears the reason I am having a tough time figuring out what to do with masculinity in my life is because my definition is so narrow.

The truth that I am seeing tells me men are all sorts of things, and they need every last part of themselves. Sometimes men need to be strong, draw lines in the sand, and say “ENOUGH!” Other times men need to hold new born babies, hold them gently, and smile into their faces like a great big welcome into the world. And there are all kinds of things in between.

I think all men are inherently good. A friend of mine once told me that they would not mind being friends with any healthy adult male. They said that if they were adult and healthy they probably would have a lot to offer no matter who they are. I reflected on this and determined this was the truth. Men are made for relationship, and to be healthy would mean the ability to be in a relationship that was pleasing and edifying to the other. We are not here to be difficult for each other or to hurt each other. That is just not how it works. When it gets to a point of pain chances are something is not working and needs to be addressed.

I also think culture tears the image of masculinity to pieces.  I know great men out there worthy of being honored, written about, and held high as examples. An overwhelming majority of these honorable men do not look like a sit com father or a Spartan. I do not get to see enough good male representation in media. The gender engendering that I see for both men and women is sad. I think most American men think they should be football players, and not talk about their feelings because men are not supposed to have them. This does not seem to be a very good picture for men at all. The intricate machinery inside a man’s heart is inspired and wonderful.

What I think men need is for other older men to tell younger men that they are in fact good men. Young men need to know they pass the inspection, and can now think of themselves as real men. I have seen men be affirmed like this, and the ways that their lives grew afterward were astounding. So men affirm each other! If you are an older man please keep an eye out for the young man who needs your words. A society with men that do not know who they are is a society that is robbed of the goodness of true adult manhood. And in the void adult boys run around making a mess of things waiting for mom, and boy will she be angry as she ought to be!

The last thing I want to say is that I want to have room in my life for all different kinds of men. I want to love and respect the athlete and the artist. I want to know the energetic and the calm and slow. Men are and can be so many different, fantastic, wonderful things. I celebrate that with this post.

The Writer

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Some Truth About Anxiety

Hello there! For those just viewing this blog this is a continuation from last week’s post Fast and Furious. Do not worry it is not political it just mentions politics. I surveyed the social/institutional landscape and commented on the pace of life and level of anxiety that is present in it all. This week I have promised to put some thoughts and suggestions on the table. Go back and have a look if you want, but the synopsis I just gave should be sufficient for you to get the hang of what the discussion is about.

I realized a few days after I wrote last week’s post that I was getting into a territory that I am intentionally staying away from in this blog. That would be advice giving, or another way of putting it would be to appear to have the answers. The full post on that is here. This post is not an easy bake way of dispelling anxiety. It is just a supposition of what is going on, and my own evidence for it. It is a fine line to walk. I am not entirely aware of where it is, but as Potter Stewart put it when trying to define pornography, “I know it when I see it.”

Where I left off last time was that roughly 10% of Americans where being medicated for anxiety and depression, while 30% of the population experienced levels of each enough to justify being medicated. In addition nothing good can be done in the business and political spheres, because as Americans we live in a society that demands immediate results. It all boiled down to calling our fast living society a symptom of anxiety, and anxiety is what I am going to focus on in this post.

Let me confess that I loaded the dice on the last post.  No, it was not a trick I was playing with you. I just realized I fell into the trap before I named it for what it was. My vision is distorted by my own anxiety, and I was merely painting the picture that matched the anxiety that I feel about the culture I live in. On some level I feel anxiety about the lack of education for youths that live in poverty. I feel anxiety that our government is not proactive in resolving issues. I feel anxiety that I must wake up tomorrow and work on an objective that is being driven by the fear of coming up short. I have anxiety this post might come up short of expectations. Whose expectations might you ask? Most likely my own.

Either way you and I know the world may not be as dire as it seems. I know this because the anxiety I feel comes from reading the news. The anxiety gets stirred when I read of a half way informative article of what really happened in Benghazi, or when I check in on the latest swing state poll. “Oh my gosh! It is 49% to 49%! Who is going to win?” Owning a smart phone with a robust data plan ensures I can keep spooning it in at a high frequency. These are the inspirations for the landscape I paint of the broader world. Note to self: start getting new muses.

There may or may not be an amount of anxiety that you are presently experiencing in your life. I once believed that everyone suffers from at least a kernel of anxiety bouncing off their innards. The kernel would be something like some constant nagging worry about their lives or future. But I have been out in the world enough to know some people that do not seem to be affected by anxiety this way. Some of them could just be good suppressors. The stuff is buried so deep that they do not even know it is somewhere in them. Though I know the lives my worry free friends live well enough. There is too much integrity in them for me to believe that they are in the habit of burying feelings even subconsciously.

I poured a great deal of thought into these friends of mine. I was interested because I had been plagued by depression and anxiety for a great deal of my life. I even named it. I call it the monolith. I watched them closely. Yes, even I studied them. Being the anxiety free people they are they happily talked very plainly with me. The truth is they do not see the world differently from me. They read the same papers and believe it is not a pleasant picture too. The big difference was that they see themselves differently than I see myself. My anxiety free friends carry with them a sense of purpose like I have never seen. They hope as a choice and consciously believe people close to them love them even when things get tight and people get hurt.

I need to back track for a moment and say that calling my friends anxiety free is a bit of a misnomer. They do experience anxiety. It is a natural part of living. They respond to the worry and fear by giving it up and choosing to hold on to hope even in the middle of hard times.

I am faced with an outlook on the world that deals with people clamoring for money, sex, and power as if that were all there is to living. Then I have friends in my life that live in the same world as I do and see the same things, but they walk through it with more grace than I would think possible. Going from the society at large to my social life it becomes clear that the issue behind the anxiety is one step closer. It is me. If two subjects are placed in the same environment and respond differently the difference is likely in the subjects.

Somewhere under the hood there is something missing or an atrophied emotional muscle that I am loathe to use. The brokenness can be many things, but the response for me is always the same. I am the one responsible for the level of anxiety I choose to have in my life, and there are real ways of dealing with it. I would not have known that if I was not told that by my friends.

The missing piece was to have faith that ultimately the truth will always win. I learned that without that kind of faith there is no point of looking for anything else for help, because in the end it will be a temporary fix. The next big wind, and by wind I mean trouble, will blow your life to the ground.  This could very well be a great mini sermon. “Faith will cure Anxiety.” But that would not be entirely true there are many things that will help people deal with anxiety, and each person needs their own custom prescription. In addition, there is no such thing as a cure for anxiety. Anxiety cannot be completely erased from living. Most people deal with it on some level from time to time.

What is true is that having faith is where I started to find the truths about my life, and then started living accordingly. What is true is faith stretches someone to reach outside of their own vision. This is especially useful when everything seems to be closing in and worry is the theme of the day.

One more thing I discovered was that whatever the faith is in  it must be greater than yourself. I also know some narcissistic friends. One thing I realized is that they are internally (emotionally spiritually, intellectually) stunted because their inner bean poll was only as big as their concept of themselves. In other words, they were not being stretched to grow outside of their own perspective. The anxiety that is in me would appear to be a permanent state of affairs without something that is bigger than me to trust in; because, I am not enough to deal with it alone. If I were alone in this I would want the fastest life possible with all the money, power, and sex I could find in order to cope.

Thankfully, that is not the case for me.

If you want to read up on a person I feel is living with this kind of truth in his life his blog here. Enjoy it, it might inspire you. In fact, WordPress is full of inspiring blogs. Go explore!

The Writer

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Fast and Furious

First off I want to say hello to the new followers of my blog! Welcome! I am glad you resonated so far. Be sure to read the “Why am I Writing This” section to get an idea of what this blog is about. I will be going to a lot of places, and I am glad to have you along for the trip.

And now to the post…

Fast and furiously working for results we forget it is the slow and steady that live longer and are more satisfied with life. For the most part I see people are becoming more reliant on higher frequency forms of gratification. I want to take a moment and consider the implications.

No doubt many good things have been botched because there is a quarterly report that needs to be released and stake holders are demanding results. The new Apple IOs map is a likely example of fast paced culture. I read in the BBC technology section that Scott Forstall the senior manager in charge of the project just announced he will leave after nearly 15 years of service. That is business as they say, but it is not how life works.

Legislation is not developed with a long view. The result is disheartening. Taxpayers want a refund check now, and will cross the bridges of insolvency when we get there.  The treasury issues debt in a way that gives a new meaning American express. The Congressional Budget Office releases reports that summarize in a few words, “This cannot last forever”. President Barack Obama rightfully points to the eight years prior to his term as part of the reason for the awful state we are in. Yet, there is no long term plan in the wings to explain how much more we will need to pay and what we are going to live without. House republicans want to quickly withdraw government spending from the economy in the middle of a meager recovery because their constituencies want it and want it now. The system simply does not support the long view. This is also not how life works.

The housing bubble is another example where expediency trumped wisdom. I am not going to get into the numbers unless you want me to; however, it is fair to say the effects of the collapse of the U.S. housing market were felt worldwide. The desire to live fast destroyed more than what was created. I can think of other examples in the macroeconomic and political spheres, but this horse was dead before the gate opened.

At this point it is easy to look at the disarray and feel lost. There is anxiety at play in the way the world operates. As an anecdote, observe the amount of antidepressant medications that are prescribed in America. I read 10-11% of Americans use the medication, and that is just a third of those who exhibit symptoms of major depression(1).  I think this anxiety is what drives the need for now rather than deferment for a better future.

I have some suggestions to put on the table, but I am out of time for this week. I am reluctant to do a two part post, but I want to give this time and space it needs. I feel this is a very important observation that deserves careful exploration. Please be patient.  In the mean time taste the irony.

The Writer

(1) http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db76.htm

Tagged , , , ,

Friend or Foe?

I received a call from an old friend tonight as I was busy mulling over topics for this post. I have not heard from him in months. There is a criminal investigation against him for having sexual contact with a minor. So when he called I picked up the phone. His entire life has been shattered. His community has collapsed around him. He has grown clinically depressed, and is struggling to cope with realities of his shame. I was his friend before I knew he lusted after pubescent boys. I will continue to be a supportive person in his life now.

Personally, I find the whole situation to be surreal. I am providing support to a sex offender. The media stance has largely been to name and shame, spit on, and condemn known sexual predators. It makes sense. Adults that sexually engage minors harm the weakest of us in such terrible ways. I am being a friend to one of society’s most reviled people.  Maybe I am wrong for not hating him. Is lack of hate the same as condoning? I don’t think so.

It is fair to say that I want to keep my distance from him.

What my friend did was very wrong. A child was deeply wounded. There will be an incredible amount of healing that needs to be done, and even then he will not be able to get back on the same tangent his life was on previously. I have adult friends that struggle with the realities of being abused. The wreckage from their experiences looks like general Sherman’s total war strategy.

I still feel compassion for my friend.

He is a broken human being, which is not entirely different from me in many ways. I lust. I hurt people by my own desires. My failings have been stark, and I am prone to failure as much as he is. My failings are different.  I feel lucky to not struggle with hebephilic urges, but I struggle with things that can be devastating.

My friend had a tremendous amount to self denial that allowed him to do what he did. When the truth came to light he could not believe what he just done. It was as if he was looking at himself for the first time. In some respects he was. People do not set out to do such things. He is getting help now and is celebrating a lengthy period of sobriety from using sex of any kind. I am glad for that. In fact I am thrilled he is waking up. He is a human being becoming more human.

The Writer

Tagged , , , , , ,

Thinking of Youth

Young adults have fewer opportunities today than people of the same age group in the recent past.  What I mean by opportunities I cannot rightly say. I could mean more access to jobs, and it would be fair to say there are fewer opportunities based on this. Maybe it could simply mean the opportunity to grow up in a loving and healthy home. The divorce rate and other choice metrics can corroborate this conclusion. It is hard to precisely define the meaning of this opportunity and how there is less of it for younger people, but what I do know is that in the U.S., Middle East, and in Europe (Sorry China you are not allowed) a large contingency of the discontent is coming from the younger crowds. Clearly something is bothering our young adults. It makes me think about them; the younger additions to society.

At first I wonder if they are courageous, bold, and good hearted. I wonder if they have the love and support of parents, elders, mentors that will encourage them to be strong and confident in today’s world. Then I think what generation was ever defined by such qualities before; however, the thought of the generations that suffered World War I and II quickly squashes my cynicism. Regardless, the truth maybe that there really hasn’t been a “perfect batch”. Each wave must respond as best they can to the situation they find themselves in.

What I am curious about is how the present set of circumstances will shape the young adults who must fight to make a place for themselves. It appears the prizes are getting fewer and smaller. For some the competition will become tougher and more consequential with each passing year. On this aspect I can sympathize with the Occupy Movement if only it were more clear that lack of opportunity was the conscious source of their discontent. I am sure it is a big part of it. If I had a clear shot at a future doing something I dreamed of I would not be so willing to spend my days voicing my irritation throughout a given urban area while risking pepper spray and arrest. Even so I get why it is being done at least in part.

Young people are also becoming a less potent voice in society as the percentage of people older than those 30 and below increase. Increasing life expectancies will have that effect. The real mean household income for the youngest of us has fallen to the lowest levels since the mid 90s. Unemployment in the same age range is still in the stratosphere, while job openings need to increase to peaks not yet seen to bring the number of young adults that are on the sidelines to a land resembling opportunity. Yes it can be said that there are fewer opportunities. At least fewer out-of-the-box opportunities. Craftiness and shrewdness will no doubt be a mark of the successful in this period more than ever.

I am not entirely convinced the picture is as desperate as this Grapes of Wrath scenario implies, but  it will be tough for many more than what societies have experienced since perhaps the Great Depression. The added pressure can have a sharpening effect. You know – that which does not kill us. Even so the energy that a young adult is spending on survival is energy being drawn from actual thriving. Hardship can engender gratitude for what no longer is as much as it can engender resentment and bitterness for what might have been. A well examined life will know this truth well.

The Writer

Tagged , , , ,

Some Purposeful Comments

There is something that needs to be known and I need to remind myself of: I am generally not writing with the intent of being right or conclusive. I do not have the ability to research to an extent that would position me well to write towards this end.  I am supposing out loud. This blog is a thought exercise; a sort of calisthenic. Since I am not in the practice of dead lifting material specific subject matter on a routine basis I am using my own weight as exercise. That is I am thinking through topics with my limited powers of reason aided by only a smattering of research that I am doing ad hoc as questions arise while I am writing.

I realize this preamble is similar to Kevin Smith’s “this is not for critics” remark, but the important distinction is that these entries are not a production. I view these entries as having their own life. The ideas are only being brought into this world through an imperfect medium; yours truly. I am merely an explorer observing. Some times I will be in rough and uninhabitable territory, and it will be difficult to report with clarity due to instrument bias (my head and heart) or the treachery of the terrain (the collective wounds that make it difficult to speak plainly and openly) . The important thing is that I speak out what is true in my sight, to describe the landscape from my unique vantage point.

This is all just to say I will be writing opinions as real, loving, and mature as I can.

 

The Writer

Introduction

This is my voice. These are my thoughts.  There is plenty of darkness out there, and this is my candle. I am going to see what is out there. I am going to explore what can not be breached in the ordinary world.

I will be real. I will be truthful. I will be graceful. Most of all there will be love.

The Writer

Tagged , ,
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: