Thursday, February 28, 2008

Posting comments

Oh, and by the way, if anyone actually reads this blog, I changed the settings so anyone can post free...!


A while ago, like 10 years, all I wanted to be was one of two things; either a professional baseball player or a professional fisherman. Believe it or not, both of these were very possible, of my friends from ten years ago, some are professional baseball players and some are professional fisherman, and none of them, ten years ago, were any better at those things than I was.
When neither of those dreams came to fruition I changed my mind, I would just get really rich, retire by the age of twenty-five, and fun-fish everyday. This is about the time I moved to Gainesville and college. Sometime between those two things I decided that retiring at twenty-five and fun-fishing every day would be selfish, so I decided on the opposite; I would become a missionary. I got really excited about this. I spent two summers in Ecuador and absolutely loved it. I got to spend a lot of time getting to know local people there and learning practical ways to help them (this is what led me to pursue aquaculture). Also during this time something else was going on, I was falling and being in love with Valerie. I think sometime in the course of my undergraduate education I realized that maybe I didn't exactly know what I was going to end up being.
Although people close to me may have thought I had my life plan figured out, that was just because I talked about it a lot. In reality I was certain that I would just pursue whatever ended up landing in my lap. Really i think this is what leads most people to what they do next. I was offered the chance to go to Ecuador those two summers, so I went. Through circumstances with figuring out my thesis project, I began a project that was abstractly related to the missionary field, but not very closely related. From there I decided I would become a fish farmer. Valerie and I would make enough money to support YoungLife in Gainesville. This was the new plan, and throughout the first year to year and a half of my master's program, I obsessed about a couple of things, finding a farm, and farming fish there. Shortly after that it changed to less adventurous ventures, like finding a house in Gainesville we like and my being some sort of high school teacher/inspired writer and citizen. Recently it has all changed again...I want to start a microbrewery with my friends Jon and Steve.

Why mention all of this? Well, mainly to make the following point: This whole time I have been worried about the future, and it has stemmed from a discontentedness with the present. This hasn't been an utter discontentedness, but one that allowed me to be just a little unhappy with the present.
I think a lot of people are probably very similar to this. I know for me it is probably what leads to complaining, stress, impatience with day to day things, etc. There are a few people who seem to me like they are content with their lot in the healthiest way, and this is either because of, or it leads to, an utter appreciation for what they have and what they already do. The first few people that come to mind are my Brother-in-law Dan, and my Grandpa and Grandma. Dan really knows how to appreciate what he has to do today, and in turn he probably ends up enjoying today a whole lot more than if he was unhappy with his lot. At least this is how he seems to me.

Last night all of this finally hit me like a ton of bricks. By all this, I mean everything that I have. I won't list it all because I already have and it really isn't that important for you to read. I guess my encouragement to anyone reading this is that it is really important to assess the lot you've got; your job, your wife if you have one, your home, clothes, food, comfort, town, the weather, people who care about you and so on. Man I can get so distracted from the present because of discontentedness. I think if we could realize what security and blessings we have, we would be able to pay so much more attention to where we are today and what we're doing; and I think that would change the way we deal with other people, the way we take care of the environment, how faithful we are to our jobs and families. I think it would effect every aspect of our life.

Remember when Wayne was so stuck on making their show a really big hit and winning over Cassandra? Well, I think Garth summed up the problem pretty well when he said, "live in the now!"

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Wendell Berry

If anyone ever starts reading this blog, I have an author to recommend...Wendell Berry. He writes essays, poems, and novels. He is also a farmer and writes about communities, ecology, economy, livelihoods, etc. He is my favorite author right now.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Slashing Tires

Probably the thing that makes me the most angry, and the closest to some sort of retaliation against people, is when someone does something to hurt my wife. I really can't describe how delightful she is. When I hear that someone has said something to hurt her feelings, deliberately, it first makes me really hurt for her, and then I think about how clueless someone would have to be to lash out at someone as innocent as Valerie.
Just a few minutes ago I imagined, and actually considered, driving to someone's car and slashing their tires. I don't think I'm the kind of person people think of when they imagine a tire slasher, but nonetheless, I have given it thought.
Valerie is phenomenal at dealing with such situations. She usually has to walk away for a minute and recoup. But after a few minutes she will go back to the person and tell them, in a very calm voice, that she feels disrespected and that they should both talk about the conflict in a mature way.
Meanwhile I am on my way over to wherever Valerie is, getting ready to punch some senior citizen in the gut!
This morning after I stewed for a minute about someone verbally attacking my favorite person in the world, I started thinking about what me slashing their tires would do to the situation.
All it would do is make them even harder to deal with, more bitter, and really probably hurt their feelings. That is not to say that they didn't do something really wrong, but its things like the slashing of tires and mishandling anger that makes mean people mean. It usually leads me to a choice that makes very little sense to my emotions.
The only thing I can really do is forgive the person. In the book of James in the bible it says, 'For judgement is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgement.'
This idea is to me is very much like swimming up current. What an incredible irony God has decided to employ on earth. It is judgement (like me slashing some woman's tires) that gets everybody selfish and angry and bitter to begin with, and the only way around or out of the system is to choose to show someone mercy. In fact, it says in that verse that its the only way we will be shown mercy. In the midst of a conflict like the one that Valerie was faced with today, our first reaction, or at least mine, was utter judgement. God is not saying that I am wrong to be angry. What He is saying is that i have a choice to buck the system and stop the tide of bitterness. If I don't, I'm going to be the one that ends up getting his tires slashed!