Monday, December 28, 2009

, we look to Christ to help us become greater than we can on our own. Then Christ can, and will, make up the (infinite) difference.
h that Christ can and will intercede, Hope for ourselves, for what we may become through His atonement. When we have learned to master ourselves over sin
Becoming perfect in Christ requires not that we do all righteousness, but that we resolve to cease UNrighteousness (forsake our sins). We must have fait

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

And Then it Occurred to Me...

Some birds like Shiny things.

I'm babysitting a Parakeet for the next 3 days. His Name is Zeus, and he is a pretty nice guy. He has a little toy (among others) that hangs in his cage with a little spin-y mirror. I can't tell if he pecks it because it has his reflection in it, and he hasn't got a friend in the world, or if he just likes the fact that it spins. But it just occurred to me that he may be aware that when it spins, it sends a beam of light right into mine eye. I wouldn't put it past the mind of an animal to be able to become aware of something like that, let alone a poor little parakeet without a friend in the world, with nothing better to do than inch side to side on a stick and peck at a mirror every once in a while.

Poor thing, he can't even talk. He kinda sings along to the music I put on, but only when it first starts, or resembles a sound he can make. Zeus, you're a good bird; I'm sorry you were bred in captivity, and than you've never known what it's like to fly more than a foot or two. It seems an awful crime to keep you from doing what god created you for.

I'm not going to go join ALF of PETA over it, but I think I've just decided not to have a pet unless it can be free to do as it likes (don't worry, that will never entail a promiscuous dog or cat). I think it would be cool to have a trained bird, one that would live on my boat with me. But it would probably have to be a bird of prey, as I don't think I would spare the food storage space for birdseed. A medium sized bird that would live on the deck of my boat and eat fish would be perfect. I'd bring 'em inside if the weather got too crazy, but other than that, he/she would be free to fly alongside me an' my boat, go catch a fish, fly along some other boat, fly away to a happier spot on land... etc.

Thanks for reading.

Evan

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

You wear me out when you're feeling cold
You're so fashionable
Remember when we used to do everything together?
Seasons change--you leave me in the dark.
I didn't see you all summer, did you think of me?
Your scent still lingers... Have you changed perfumes since last year?
What if you've outgrown me?
We used to be so comfortable--cozy.
You; in my arms.
Remember when we met?
You weren't sure about me at first--I wasn't your "type".
But we just fit, didn't we?
I still compliment you, but it's not the same.
Did you get bored with me?
You're so fashionable...
When--why did we stop going out?
Was I just an accessory?
Was I not enough? Could I not protect you?
I just feel so empty without you.
Maybe if I were more versatile...
But that's not it, is it? I'm not clingy. You're not superficial.
I'll admit--I need you, but it's not like you're the only one for me.
It's just--you know me. Inside and out.
It's quite possible that you were made for me, and I for you.
We complete each other.
There are billion other girls in the world, but I want you only.
You have your pick as well, but no other suits you like me.
I don't blame you if you don't want me anymore
I'm sure you must be bored with me
Not to mention I have nothing to offer you
Except the $20 and the lip balm in my pocket, but those are yours anyway.

Sincerely,
Last Year's Winter Coat.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Housing Arrangements

I've just realized that, even though all my life I've dreamed of owning a mansion someday, I actually don't want a big house.

It occurred to me when I was thinking of having family dinner. Just regular family dinner. In a huge house it would be unlikely that it would happen on any sort of regular basis, which is what I want. Just considering the spread-outness of living in a huge house, it would become cumbersome to track everyone down and say "supper time" and the likelihood of everyone actually coming to the dinner table would be pretty small.

But heres what I DO want.

A large bit of property.

I used to want a pool in my house, now I want a pool house. I used to want a in-home theatre with theatre seating and all that. Now I want a standalone building for that purpose(it'll also have an arcade/gameroom). I would be fine with a two car garage, as long as I have a shop down the hill where I can keep all my projects and toys.

I don't want 3 guest bedrooms. I want a GUEST HOUSE! that way when my kids grow up to be failures, they can always move home and not be too much of a burden.

Thanks.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Hitchhike to Zion

Zion National Park, Here I come!

It's fall break, an I wanna go camping before it gets too winterly. I had given up on the idea of doing it during break because I happen to be pretty broke right now, and I didn't want to worry with logistics. Then my Buddy Robbie pitched the perfect solution--hitchhike!

In the past I have had pretty great success with hitchhiking, I think it's great. I wouldn't be who I am today if not for a kind soul on the backroads of the Yukon.

I'll be taking my camera, in order to document the experience, I'm no Ross McElwee, but I guess we'll see how it goes.

Wish me luck!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Love/Hate Relationship

I'm in school again.

I'm worried because my excitement at returning to school is already wearing off... less than 3 weeks into the semester! I think it's because I'm finally getting homework. Which means I need to keep track of assignments now. I have a presentation to do on Friday (I hate public speaking), I have 12 days to memorize 3 pages of dialogue (and a performance of the scene in class... again... I hate it), read a 1-act play by Monday, a 10-page play due by the 30th, a 2 page script, storyboard, as well as shot list, logline and "pitch" for a short film, which I have yet to edit together... I have to eavesdrop on a 2 conversations, grade 24 papers, watch a 3 hour documentary (I get 5 points extra credit to check out the film and show it in a classroom to my classmates on Friday. might as well, I say). This all means I have to have some self-mastery and actually do my homework and stuff... that's hard for me to do.

While it occurs to me that all this homework sounds like a lot of drudgery... I also just bought a copy of Aristotle's Poetics for personal reading pleasure, which will go in my stack of 7 books that I'm already reading...

I love to learn, I loe to write, I love to read, I love to edit films.... I just don't like all these assignments!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Fallacy: "you know what you did!"

So... in one of my classes, we were challenged to come up with a story, then we were told to write a sort of monologue for the main character. then we were told to justify the Antagonist's views.

I didn't have a story in mind(the one I had come up with didn't really work for the last exercise), so I started coming up with general motivations for someone to do what they do.

-The end result is all that matters. "the end justifies the means".
This is where an antagonist could truly want the BEST results and does "whatever it takes" to attain that end., but then again, what's "best" is pretty subjective isn't it?
-Love. "true love conquers all".
This is a more identifiable view than doing something out of hate. hate makes you bad, love makes you good (or at least misunderstood).
-Religion. ...not gonna go there, but it has a LOT of potential
-Insanity
This is actually something that strikes me as very, very interesting in a story. Anyone who has seen Adaptation (with Nicholas Cage, Chris Cooper, and that one woman)
and has anything to do with writing knows that this is the cheapest way to "twist" a story... Fight Club, Secret Window, maybe even Psycho. Where we are told at the last second that someone was crazy and that explains everything. it's usually unsettling, but generally I think it makes for a weakened message.
However, if this insanity isn't a twist, if it is acknowledged very early on... then I think that makes for a very human, very pitiable perp. Of mice and Men-kinda.

Anyway. that's that.

I also learned something recently about communication, hence the title of this post.
'You know what you did' is probably the most false statement anyone can presume to make. I think that the key part of that phrase is "did". No one DOES just one thing. any behavior or action can actually have myriad effects. So when someone asks innocently "what did I do?" it's probably best to relate to them exactly what you perceived that they did. Because that might be brand new information to this alleged "perpetrator".

Letting this assumption, that each other "knows what they did", go unaddressed is incredibly detrimental. When someone does something, and you assume you know why, then you are inclined to respond in defense or response to their perceived motive. If you are hurt, you may want to get even, or you may want to be pitiful and hope they "come around". This quite often results in a cycle. "You hurt me, I hurt you, you get even, I get even, you one-up, I one-up" back and forth, until someone throws in the towel, or someone goes too far. The proper way to address being hurt (i'm learning) is to not assume ill will-- there is no "perp". Instead, you must assume that the offender is unaware of your pain, and inform them of it. Most likely they are unaware, or if they ARE aware, they will probably tell you the reason they did what they did. Their reason may actually be that they are getting back at you for hurting them, and you had NO idea that you had. So don't be so quick to decide you're the victim. You may, in fact, be the perpetrator.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Gonna Take Some Time...

Hey Reader...

Why do you keep coming back? isn't this blog a little repetitive? Do I not have 3 or 4 topics that I rotate through with the occasional exception? Surely the intrigue now is when I'll finally "get it"... well this post is certainly not that one.

This post is yet ANOTHER lament on my life; Feeling trapped, tied down, burdened, scarred, scared, skeptical...

I'm here in Utah, with no real desire to be here whatsoever. It's nice having my brother and sister-in-law around. I have a lot of friends here.... Sure, these things are all true. But I have been here nearly 4 years, and I'm bored with it. I want my simple life back, when I wasn't tethered to school with in-state status. And, with just over half of my program completed, leaving now would be a complete waste.

Maybe I need to stop fantasizing about how good life could be somewhere else. I know that things would be just as hard somewhere else, it's just that I can't stop daydreaming about how things would be NEW somewhere else. And Utah and the experience is growing old and stale. I need a change. I want to escape the familiarity, I want to feel uncomfortable, but instead of the cause being a cramped, squelched feeling, I want it to be uncertainty. I want to date someone who doesn't know 30 of my friends... having mutual friends really takes away the "mystery"-- the get-to-know-you factor. It may not seem likely, but I assure you, there are no "Strangers" left here for me.

I just want to take my camera, my two favorite pair of jeans, a good book and a deck of cards and just GO.

If you, or someone you know, would like to sponsor me... please get in touch.

Evan

Been thinkin' about this post(I didn't really think it through, just wrote it). What I have come to realize, is that it's not that I know everybody around me, and I want some mystery in my life... there are oodles of people I don't know, and I could get to know them fairly easily. But, the problem is that there are a LOT of people who know me, but then again, they DON'T know me at all. In the past year I've had a huge change in my life, I think in the past 3 or 4 years I've been 3 entirely different people. Now, the people who have known me more than a year have this idea about me that I am all out of energy to quash, people who have known me longer than that have these very, very deep-rooted ideas about me that I can't change, EVER. If they were to take a look at me, they wouldn't see a new person, they would say "Oh, a new Evan! and that may be true, I am a new Evan, I can't be anyone else. But there is no severance in their minds between who I am now, and who I was before. There is still, in there minds, this continuity that cannot be called a new beginning, because they weren't there for the event, they weren't privy to my thoughts. All they know is that I've made changes, but they don't know the depth to which I have changed. I don't know that they could fathom it. I am still Evan, and I am limited to who I am --and what I might become-- by what I have been.

New people can't know me either, but the beauty of it is that they aren't blinded by images of what I used to be. That's what a move and a new life would do for me. Like I said, I could get to know new people here, people I have never met before. But I can't escape the people who I know already, and the transference between the old me and new me that they subconsciously perform.

Another thing. I would say I am quite lonely. I would say that I have a lot of friends, and I enjoy them immensely--but I'm lonely. I'm not playing the victim here... perhaps more the martyr. I choose to be lonely. I could be "Dating" someone within a week if I decided to, but I have made a choice not to. It's definitely not fun. It occurs to me every now and again, when I realize some girl is smitten with me, that it would be so simple just to go along with it. Why not? many of these girls are exceptionally attractive, and not all of them have issues. I could easily get along with them, even enjoy being with them.... But it wouldn't be fair. As much as I could enjoy a relationship right now, I am too self-centered to invest myself. I've chosen myself over someone else, because until find someone I want to choose over myself, I will be too selfish for any relationship. So, here I am.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Lessons Learned

I've been sleeping in a mortuary for the past few nights. Long story that involves a bet I lost, and housing-limbo.. Just kidding.

My best friend has this sweet set up where he answers the phones after business hours/on weekends. And in turn, he and his wife and their lilbabykid get to live rent free in a decent-sized apartment. Pretty sweet. except they are homebodies.

Anyway, a marriage came to town, that town was Houston, so they got to a much-needed vacation. I am covering the phones for them while they're gone. As we speak, I'm sprawled out on the couch(sprawled sounded like the wrong word, and I just realized that for some reason, in my head it means "face down"... which I am not...) trying to pass the time in some other way than washing dishes and cleaning up around here.

Here are a few things I've learned (this is my first live-in shift).

1. Everyone I try to explain this to suggests that I just have the calls forwarded to a cell phone, that way I'd be free to leave.... not that simple.

2. This job is definitely designed for a young (maybe not-so-young actually) married couple.
Phones are to be answered within 2 rings, after the 3rd, it will be picked up by a disgruntled Funeral Director(he's a nice guy, but no one wants to get work calls when they're supposed to be off).
This first rule makes life interesting, especially as a single person.
Though I was given permission to have people over (even throw a party if I want) I'm not real big on instigating anything more than late-night card games with a couple (as in 2 or 3) friends. So I've had a lot of alone time. (family was in town and they came to see me a couple of times). Even with other people here, I'm the only one trained and authorized to answer the phones. This means that any task I undertake(no pun intended) cannot keep me from the phones for more than about 8 seconds. This isn't (usually) an issue when there are two people around who are trained on the phones, but with just one... everyday things must be calculated and planned.

For instance, I realized too late that even a small workout can leave you a bit winded, and if the phone rings, you have all of 5 or 6 seconds to catch your breath so you're not huffing and puffing in someone's ear when you answer the phone.
Also, I'm not big on morning showers. I shower before bed. It keeps the sheets cleaner longer, and I sleep better after a shower. However, after 5pm, I am on-duty, for the first 2 days I didn't plan ahead.
With family in town, I have been leaving in the mornings anyway to go hang out with them, i really hate morning showers so I told myself I would just get back a bit before 5 and shower then. Didn't happen.
Saturdays, I'm on duty at 2 instead of 5, again, I didn't make it back with enough time to shower.

So... I haven't showered since Wednesday. no time before 5pm on Thursday and Friday and, with one person, the Saturday shift that starts at 2pm doesn't end until 8am on Monday(I'm on-duty all night Saturday, all day on Sunday and all through Sunday night).

Another thing. When I went shopping for food for the weekend, I didn't seem to notice that what I was stocking up on was a LOT of dairy. (milk and cereal, Ice cream(for smoothies), quesodilla fixings(shredded cheese, sour cream, canned chicken, salsa), ham and cheese saniches... and Kulfi(sp) that my friends left for me.

That's a lot of dairy. I wish I had realized.... Oh well I think, I'll raid the fridge for something less dairy-y.... Pickles! yay! So I went from an overly dairy-laden diet, to a very pickled diet (no "preserves" joke here). These aren't just any pickles though, they are home grown, home pickled and canned. I finished off the already opened jar (that means I even ate the garlic clove) and went to the pantry for another. The new jar is spiced! yum. I have a suspicion that this one was seasoned by my friend's dad. it's pretty spicy though still quite dill-icious.

I'll probably be feeling the effects of my diet for the next couple of days.

It hasn't been too bad, in all. Only a few calls.... And I owe my friends for all their hospitality, they're too good to me.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Poo in the Brownie

Finished Zen and t.a.o. Motorcycle Maintenance, finally. Something to be said for unemployment, when you can really immerse yourself in a good book (and only have to wonder where your next meal will come from).

I forgot about a paragraph about 3 chapters from the end, in which the reader is blindsided by a *our-letter word. A big one. THE big one. and in that same paragraph, the long B word... It's a point he is trying to make, it is not language for the sake of language. It seems the author didn't feel that a more mild, but italicized word would suffice to convey his thought.

When I read it, I thought "oh man! he nearly had an entirely squeaky-clean book... why this?"

But even at that moment--in that moment--I recognized his technique and I knew why. It didn't take away my disappointment though. I would rather have read a full page of explanation than the F-word, as effectively and fitting as it was. It's something that I despise in myself, when I feel quite strongly about something, I get quite inarticulate about it, and if I feel especially passionate about it, I will probably highlight my statements with some strong words. I don't like the fact that I have trained myself to revert to shock value to emphasize my position--it makes me feel totally inept with words (usually a bit after the conversation). I think most of the time it's because the choice words come to mind, and I search for an alternate, give up, and the go ahead and swear. That is evidence of my ineptitude. And the clincher is that it is my OWN fault, I've trained myself.

Now, as to the title of this particular post... since finishing my book, being somewhat irked (this time around) by the single use of strong language, I have been thinking on the analogy of the poo in the brownie. If you haven't heard it, it goes something like this (it's more of a visual aid.. but I'll try to paint it clearly for you here.)

Imagine you have been given a pan of brownies. Scrumptious Brownies. they smell like a Brownie-scented Glade Plug-In in Heaven might. You can see that they are the perfect consistency; a paper-thin caramelized crust on top, and moist and chewy fudge beneath.
You want to relish them entirely so you ask "what's in them?" The response comes: "Flour...Sugar...Eggs...Vanilla.. Cocoa powder, more sugar... Oh some Poo... whipped milk chocolate frosting, a hint of mint, some--"
"WOAH!" you interupt "did you say there's Poo in these?"
"yes."
And now you must make a decision. "Do I really want to eat these brownies?"


What would you answer?

The answer is obvious. The delectable brownies have been ruined. Never mind who put it in there, or why... it's not something you're going to ingest. I think I have done the analogy justice here. Lemme know if I'm wrong.

Now, I want to take a step back and take a good look at this analogy.

1. The tray of brownies can represent anything at all. For my purpose, I will call it the book "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance"

2. The poo represents something that offends. In this case, foul language.

3. All of the other ingredients represent wholesomeness.

I hope you'll follow me on this, it may rub you the wrong way, but I think there's truth in it.

I have been considering whether the analogy is a strong one, or simply a logical fallacy. I have concluded that it is the latter.

You see, even though I've read Z/MM before, reading it opens my mind to so much that I tend to take for granted. It helps me to see things in a light that furthers my understanding of not only the concepts in the book, but of nearly everything around me. I have a renewed appreciation for many many things in my life. And, I would say that it helps me move toward an appreciation of the things in my life that I, for now, am not open to.

Having read this book just prior to starting school again, I feel ready to face the challenges of academia because I have been given perspective--scope. I can focus on the real goal and not fret the technicalities and routines.

In short, this book changes my life every time I read it. I guess I mentioned that last time around, it led me down a road that I assumed was headed for a new kind of enlightenment. In reality it was one of those seldom-traveled mountain roads that took me right back to square one. But what a journey it was! okay... I'll talk more on that later. Back to the topic at hand.

This book (I highly recommend it, but only when you are prepared to immerse yourself in it), is actually exploring the very topic we are addressing here: "Quality". I'm not exactly going to borrow the thesis of the book here, but I do want to state something about quality. Quality is NOT Perfection. Maybe it may be said that Perfection is the ultimate quality, but quality is not a measure of perfection, or this world would have no quality.

Sorry this is all so scatter-brained, this is just how my brain works.

Let's take the Poo analogy and summarize it.

"A tray of brownies looses its appeal to a person when its contents are made known to said individual, who has an internalized standard of wholesomeness".

Does this sound fair? If not, please submit a more fitting summary. I am not trying to use any trickery here. That, I believe, is the point of the analogy. But I submit to you that it assumes too much, and that a better analogy is in order. This analogy, this object lesson, assumes this:

A subject's (brownie's) wholesomeness (worth) is determined by the absence of unwholesomeness(poo).

Sounds fair. It sounded fair to me for a bit. But something about it doesn't work.
Let's take this same logic and apply it to something else...

"A person's goodness is determined by the absence of bad." Or, in other words, there is no such thing as "redeeming qualities" you are the sum of the bad. Now, you're probably thinking "does he really think he can use logic to justify eating Poo Brownies?" I assure you, that is not the point I want to make.

my point is, it isn't reasonable to assume that undesirable attributes ruin desirable attributes. They can, definitely, take away from the desireability of something, but it is not a given fact that they (undesirables) ruin the good.

That's why I think the analogy needs reworking. The quality brought to my life by Z/MM is not fecal browny. I won't allow the correlation to the Poo analogy. Is foul language, in my book (my own book, "personal values") at the level of "poo"? probably not. Is foul language Poo? Sure, I wont refute that. Is it possible to blot out a bad word in a book? Yes (more on this in a moment). Is it possible to remove poo from a batch of brownies? no, it is not(unless the poo is added on top, and not blended into the brownies, in which case, I suppose the question one must ask himself is "Am I comfortable eating decontaminated brownies?" .. for me, the considerations would be the size of the tray, the location where the poo had been, and the quality estimated quality of the brownies, considering their former proximity to poo).

So, we have an alternative to the initial Poo analogy, and that is one where the poo is not necessarily an ingredient of the brownies, but an undesirable addition to an otherwise perfectly good batch of brownies.

If we take away the poo, and all the frosting it came in contact with, we're left with a blotch in the icing that serves as a reminder of what used to be there, which affects the appeal of the brownies. Now to get back to the proposal of blotting out a bad word. You can take a sharpie marker and strike the foul language from a book, but any semi-intelligent person would know not only what the blot means, but(most likely) the particular word that has been stricken. Has the solution been effective? Not entirely. Is the poo gone? It might not be as simple as that. The ability for one to correlate a spot of patchy frosting to the removal of something entirely detestable leaves us with what I guess could be called "mental residue". The brownies could be entirely uncontaminated, but the knowledge of what was removed still remains.

My parents would often screen what we watched and read for this Poo. My mom would use a sharpie marker in books, and the mute button or fast forward on films. Music (since she hated it anyway) was simply banned. An example of removing the poo from the brownie: my mom took me and my brother to see Titanic in the theater. When the nude scene was due, she had us stand outside the theater doors while she monitored it for when it was okay for us to come back in. Turns out there was not a whole lot of history to be learned from the movie. But (and now everyone will know my secret) that was the film that initially sparked my interest in film making.

I think I jumped the gun on putting down my thoughts on this matter, I have just expended all of the energy I have on the subject, so when my thoughts are put in order, I will lack the gusto to rewrite this.

Showers

As I left my brother's house, around 1AM, I stood in the driveway and gazed skyward-- Maybe a dozen stars and a perfect half-moon. The sky looked like an inkwell with a drop of Elmer's School Glue, or a drain pan full of oil with a glass of milk stirred in... too light to be black, bu no other color.

I drove down the backroad and turned onto the main one, Headed for the stoplight, but decided to take a right instead of going straight. This way leads to a nice rural spot, and I tend to gravitate to those places when I have a lot on my mind.

Green light, Green light, red light, green light. Over the overpass, under the underpass. Now headed for the black expanse to the West. I look out my window and up at the sky again, now the stars have begun to let down their guard, they must just not like City Folk. Warm air, no breeze. the streetlights disappear entirely. Occasionally a pocket of cool air wisps off the water, it's relaxing. I take the last curve and the gates come into view, I could trip the sensor from the other side and sneak out into the marina, but I'm not feeling up to it. And besides, there will be a fog of memories all about the place, and I don't feel like getting lost in it just now. I take a right and head back north, then follow the road to the east. Just as it straightens out there is a gate to a pasture on the left, I notice it almost to late and brake hard to turn off the road. I kill the engine immediately, and the radio with it. Fine Young Cannibals, but that's two nights in a row, so I don't even finish the line in my head. I step out of my 4Runner, the door takes two arms and a little bit of back to get closed these days. You should have seen the cause, if you put a 4runner in one end of a ravine, it comes out on the other converted to a jalopy. I cleaned it recently though, and I'm pleased that my flannel "sleeping bag" is neatly rolled up in the back. I grab it and jump the gate. I was going to venture into the pasture, but I don't even have time to be dissuaded by cow pies and critters, The gravel is good enough for me. I came out here to reminisce, though I dream of moving on. there are a few more memories up the road, and I chose this spot to avoid them, I'm not feeling especially invincible.

I lay down on my bag and try to welcome some peace, but I try to hard and I find myself trying to shake off the feeling of being a phony. I'm honest with myself when no one is around, so I accept the fact that I have been brooding, and now I have come out here expecting to catch a muse, or a vision of the universe in a timeless sense. I wanted to feel like King David, and instead I feel as hopeless as a country singer-- attempting to say something deep, or at least witty, and instead creating a travesty. I decide instead that I will just try to be in the Here and Now. On my right--toward the lake--crickets and bullfrogs are behaving like barnyard animals, trying to talk over everyone else.. maybe that's more like a room full of teenagers.... On my left, The juxtaposing sound of cattle and the rumble of the interstate. The show has started, and I realize that I'm not going to see the full spectacle, not here where the city lights are still putting off a glow. I could have gone up the canyon, but neither my jalopy nor I have what it takes tonight. I'll have to settle. I settle in more and try to guess when the next good shooting star will cross the sky. I'm way off, but at least I have time to turn my head. The city lights really do a number on a good shooting star, whereas up in the mountains, you can see the trenches left behind--a bit after the tail has burned out--a good shooting star, down here in the valley even the big ones look like they'd buff out. There are a couple of the really good ones, the ones that start out orange or red and then burn white, and then back to a red. or the ones that appear to skip across the atmosphere, like a nice flat rock on a calm pond. That's what those "trenches" really look like... like a fisherman's line when he gets a bite. the line rips through the surface as the hook sets, and you see its path in the the water for an instant after.

I really miss the contented feeling of sleeping under the stars, with the uncertain threat of meteors, but also with all those gases between them and us, like a corral fence against a mad bull, or a thick blanket against biting cold, or a mother's embrace against anything.
I really miss sleeping around a fire, watching the embers oscillate slowly with the breeze, as if they were pulsating, breathing. and watching the ashes rise on the heat of the flames, the sparks crackling and darting out against a milky-black sky... kinda like a shooting star.

The Mosquitoes are in full effect, but I'm content to watch a while longer. I decide not to trust myself to remember these sensations and pull out my cellphone to draft some key words, but though I turn out to be better than i thought at typing blind, I am still distracted by the task so I put it away. Most of these shooting stars are just highlights in the glow of the city lights. they hardly stand out as more than ghosts. Sad that I can't find it in me to drive out in the desert, or up in the canyon to really be able to see the show... but I remember that it's the peace I came here for, and I try to get it back again. These celestial nightlights are truely amazing, but I fail to manage to forget myself and be absorbed by them. I'll try again next year. I get to my feet, and watch one last Really Good One before I head back the way I came. The stars begin to disappear as I approach the grid of streetlights, there are 3 or 4 bites on my forehead, and I can feel them ever so slowly swelling, but all in all, I think I'm going home with some lasting peace.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

I have 8 books on my end table and I'm reading all of them. I just did the math in my head, and it looks like I've read 901 pages, and have about 2116 left. Wow

Monday, August 3, 2009

Slow Motion Heartache

I've been investigating something about myself. Not sure if when I've explored it that I will actually share it with you, Dear Reader... --What am I talking about? you're reading it now!

While "Heartache" isn't a word I like to throw around, it's also not the end of the world. I guess I should find a word that isn't so widely abused by pop musicians and high school poets, but I'd rather just give you my definition before we proceed.

When I say Heartache I don't mean tears and suicidal thoughts, or anything like that.
It's actually very simple: Heart + ache. Perhaps a little more abstract than simply descriptive, since it is (for me at least) a physical symptom of a mental process, but at least it's not a misnomer like "Heartburn".


Again, I just want to be thorough here. I had an idea of what I wanted to say before I even began this post. I hadn't come up with a title for it, and the one I used wasn't exactly thought out, so everything up to this point has been just that.

Guess I'm rambling, avoiding my own topic. I hope you understand what I mean. I'm sure you can relate. It's an ache in my chest, and it usually accompanies a feeling of loss-- I suppose it is the physical "feeling" of loss. So it follows a realization. It's the purest example of emotion. If I were a computer, the realization would be the end product of my calculative process. It would either flash this "answer" across my screen. Or, if this "answer" was only one part of an equation, then it would remain as code until the end answer had been calculated. I suppose this end answer would be the calculated "meaning of life". but then again, I'd be a computer... And I'm rambling again. But I do want to explore this later.

So, about this title... why didn't I just leave it blank until I had said my piece? Instead, I've started myself on a couple of little tangents and side trails instead of starting this hike. this "Chautauqua", if you will*.

An alternative title occurred to me as I've written "breakdown of a breakdown" but that isn't what I want to talk about, it just sounds witty (to me).

I've given up on exploring my original topic, this title thing has gone too far, and I realize you have better things to do. Pity though, I would have liked to maintain this same lighthearted tone in my original topic.

I suppose I'll go on with the computer concept, and add a subtitle to this post "what is emotion and why?" :)

Wow. I suddenly need to start a new analogy. Simply because I added a sub-title. This title-prior-to-completion-of-discourse thing is a good way to derail any sort of orderly train of thought. But this blather has a certain therapeutic value-- an analgesic effect on the very heartache I was about to write of-- so I'll continue. you may leave now, if you'd had enough, I don't quite have my fix.

What is emotion? Like I said, it is a physical feeling that accompanies a mental function. this definition is my own, and I may have to expand it later and riddle it with exceptions and such, but I think that pretty much sums it up. It is the difference between a study-hall calculator and a the teenager using it: they are both receiving quite an abundance of information, buttons are being pushed, sometimes they are abused or misused... they have a lot in common**. But the calculator doesn't have emotions. In this regard suppose it's in the air which has it better.

So why? this is where it gets tricky. Calculators were invented as a tool of efficiency. The calculators cut out all the many reasons we mess up; audio/visual distractions (conflicting sensory input, etc.) concentration (aside from external stimuli: thoughts of "this mortgage high school experience is going to be the death of me!" and such) forgetfulness ("formulas" and crap) and, last but not least (at least in my case), emotion. I'm not saying that math is an emotional trial for me in the sense that it ends in tears or heartache... I'm just referring to that damp forehead sort of frustration, the kind that builds on itself as you get more and more vexed with the problem.

Calculators have it made. They don't have to worry about anything but input, essentially "hardwired" processing, and output. Then again, if there were no more to a life than to make calculations, life would get pretty meaningless pretty quick. So, if you think about it, Calculators have it pretty rough.

I don't suppose there's much else to say, than that we are how we are because without emotions, we would be calculators. Every word, act and thought would be executed only in response to stimuli, but without consideration of the stimulant itself. We get the human experience, in all its splendor and gloom, ecstasy and pain.

Emotions are meaning. And not the type of meaning that words have, emotion is true meaning. Emotions are signifieds, something words and symbols cannot ever completely capture.

That's all for now. Thanks for reading.
Evan

* - I'm currently reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance again, and with new eyes. I didn't realize that it was going to show through in this writing, and I definitely wasn't trying for that... But you tell me: are there less commas in this post than average?

** - It occurred to me that neither is capable of finding answers without the other. difference (aside from emotion) being that where a calculator is usually sleek, smooth (aside from the pizza-grease fingerprints) and systematic, the teenager using it is usually pizza-faced, bumbling and erratic.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

it goes like this

a child is passing under where his father is building a beautiful house out of bricks
you see... the child has just brought his father a nice glass of cold lemonade

The father is now hoisting up a barrel of bricks when suddenly the lemonade spills over the edge of the building

Time slows down as the father looks over the edge, only to see that the child is playing on the sidewalk below, oblivious to the falling lemonade

He releases his hold on the rope hoist and cups his hands around his mouth

"beware the lemonade!"

the child is blindsided, first by a glass of lemonade
and then a barrel of bricks

as the father descends the scaffolding the child is bleeding all over the sidewalk

"are you okay?" the father asks, hoping to see the child stand and brush the dust from his togs...

"it hurts!" comes the reply

"of course it does, if only I'd called out sooner, there wouldn't be lemon juice in your wounds"

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Lateral Knowledge

This Idea isn't mine. The following is taken from one of my all-time favorite books

"The truths... were lateral truths; no longer the frontal truths of science, those toward which the discipline pointed, but the kind of truth you see laterally, out of the corner of your eye. In a laboratory situation, when your whole procedure goes haywire, when everything goes wrong or is indeterminate or is so screwed up by unexpected results you can't make head or tail out of anything, you start looking laterally. That's a word he later used to describe a growth of knowledge that doesn't move forward like an arrow in flight, but expands sideways, like an arrow enlarging in flight, or like an archer, discovering that although he has hit the bulls-eye and won the prize, his head is on a pillow and the sun is coming in the window. Lateral knowledge is knowledge that's from a wholly unexpected direction, from a direction that's not even understood as a direction until the knowledge forces itself upon one. Lateral truths point to the falseness of axioms and postulates underlying one's existing system of getting truth."

-Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.
________________________________________________________________

That little passage quite aptly describes my experience with rediscovering my faith. This book made a lasting impression on me when I first read it about 4 years ago. In addition to it's influence on my writing style, I would say that it was my informal introduction to the world of philosophy--possibly even a factor in my decision to pursue a different spiritual path. This time around, I am getting a lot more out of it, having been on a personal journey of my own in the meantime.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

No Regrets When the Worms Come

wouldn't it be great to lie in your deathbed and be 100 percent content with the way your life was spent? no regrets. Everything you dreamed of doing, done. Even a failure wouldn't be a bad thing, as long as you put in your best effort.

Yet, here I am. my bedroom floor is covered in junk and dirty clothes. I am unemployed, and scattered on my desk are at least a dozen short-term goals that I feel too discouraged to pursue (along with a slew of dirty dishes and unpaid bills).

I have started 7 full-length screenplays (120 pages each, on average) and of those I have one that has made it past the first 20 pages... and I'm planning to scrap it and start over. Sheesh.

daily junk

Oky, so I know the past couple of posts have been downers... I'm not really sad. I guess I'm just anxious, for several reasons. At any rate, I think I'm going to sensor myself less, thereby having more to say about my day-to-day.

Supposed to go boating today. But I wonder if I should. My back is out of whack. I was playing on a trampoline about two weeks ago, and I managed to fold myself in half in the wrong direction... I nearly kicked myself in the back of the head while doing a stylish face plant on the the tramp mesh. Anyway, my back cracked like a whip, and now I ache in my very lower back. I only notice it when I'm straining, but I think I might have really messed something up.

I think I'll go, on the off chance that it just needs some exercise.

Now comes me not mentioning Michael Jackson's death.
Moving on.

About a month ago, I decided to apply for a summer (unpaid) internship with National Geographic. There was a posting for my dream internship, logging footage for travel/cultural documentaries. About 12 hours later they took the listing down (in my best Ellen the British maid voice) "the position 'as been filled."


Not one to give up, I decided to make a special resume in the event that they re-open the position for applications. They never did. But the next best thing came along, logging footage from "Crittercams" (stationary cameras placed in the vicinity of a certain "critter's" home or feeding area/water source. Kinda voyeuristic really....) which would entail sorting the footage into a trash pile and a keeper pile, as well as participating in research of observed traits. I called my academic adviser to find out what it would take to get approved for the internship through the film program. She said it was too late to apply for summer internships, and that I would have to go through the school to select an available internship (Nation Geographic is in D.C., and most certainly not on the list). But, I'm not one to lose hope so easily. I asked if there was nothing to be done to cut through the red tape (much of my education has been slipping through one crack or another, skirting protocol..) She said I could call Jan, who is assistant director for the Digital Media program, who could make an exception for late application. Perfect. Why would she deny me an opportunity to pursue something in my intended career path just because of some arbitrary deadline? especially if I have already shown the motivation to seek it out myself.

Well... she didn't answer her phone or return my call, and now it's the weekend and I'm certain that by Monday it will be too late (N.G. doesn't have trouble filling their unpaid internship positions).

I still have my fingers crossed.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Thick as a Brick

I've always been stubborn.

When I was younger, being home-schooled, my dad tried to drive home the importance of an education. I think he went about it in all the wrong ways, humiliation was his tactic. He would ask me multiplication tables in public. or ask me the same one over and over again until it became a joke-- but one that conveyed that he had zero confidence in my abilities. I think he wanted me to apply myself so I could one day surprise him by knowing the answer. But, this blog isn't about some deep-set resentment toward my dad, it's about me.

My dad would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up. "a computer programmer" was my reply for much of my childhood. Then I turned 13 and got a guitar, and then it was "rockstar" (we wont get into his criticisms of that).

And I really thought I would be rockstar. forget learning methods, or "music theory" or "Scales" and how to read music... I was going to revolutionize the world on my own terms. I dreamed of being the only one on the stage, because I was just. that. good. I think somehow I was Idolizing Dick Van Dyke's character "Bert" at the beginning of Mary Poppins more than more traditional rockers...

I wouldn't say I was determined, I just was convinced. Surely it would happen.

Then I saw a movie (I wont say which. And if you know you had better not either.) that made me think of what it must be like to be behind the scenes of filmmaking. I'll admit, I didn't really consider it being a viable career choice for a while after, but I did begin trying to figure out they made things work on film. And when I came around to the decision to go into film, I was determined to make it on my own. I wasn't going to buy into the whole Hollywood scene, I was going to do it all on my own.

Only very recently have I realized how I've stunted myself by rejecting the easy road. not even the "easy road", the traditional route. And it goes deeper than that. I think that the reason I did so, was so I could claim all the glory when I succeeded. So I could revel in my accomplishments while everyone else just wished they had known me. It may even be a driving factor still today... proving people wrong, making them regret not giving me a chance, showing them what they missed out on. But what I'm realizing is that I'm delusional. How does one make a film my himself? Even Charlie Chaplin had help....

I have just been selfish. feeling that there is only so much fame out there, and I want the biggest slice I can get. I suppose there is a polar opposite that is just as bad, which is still self-centered, but at the expense of those around you. at least I wasn't trying to take undue credit... not really.

But still, I guess all my life I have seen myself in a dog eat dog world, only because I refuse to run with a pack. There's safety--belonging--in numbers.

My friend just got engaged. Wonderful news. But at the same time, really depressing. I push people away because I refuse to compromise, only later to learn that I was dead set on something I didn't really want. I can't celebrate other people's accomplishments and fortune because I'm so focused on getting mine... When am I going to grow out of this?

One for Sorrow

I really want to write something tonight, but nothing is really coming to me. Nothing noteworthy or remarkable. I'm sure I could write a self-deprecating poem, a lament on the past.

That's really all that's on my mind lately, Perspectives. How true it is that hindsight is 20/20.

Sometimes, when I'm people-watching (something I tend to do quite a bit), I try to imagine what the world looks like through their eyes. That entails seeing from all types of perspective; Physical, emotional, intellectual... And beyond that, I find myself contemplating the difference between them and myself. It's really overwhelming to try and do since, obviously, as an observer, I cannot really consider anything outside of my perspective in any sort of validating way. I can try and imagine that someone has an aversion to mushrooms, or the color black, or the taste of water in an unfamiliar city... but it all filters through my own experiences, and certain residue of myself inevitably corrupts a clear understanding.

I can remember a time when I saw bright, vibrant colors everywhere I looked. Now, most of the time, I feel like I am seeing the world through a dirty lens. Maybe my eyeballs need a good scrubbing. Can they do that? I guess they probably can, with lasers and whatnot...

I also remember when I was so emotionally volitile, that a song could physically affect me. I guess you (yes you) may be able to relate when I say "that first crush feeling". Like when you drink 7up, and you get a "bubble in your nose", except it's a sensation that spreads through your entire body. I don't experience that often at all anymore, but I used to get that feeling just thinking about someone. Just thinking about thinking about someone, you know? An old mix tape from a girl you barely know... when I was 12 or 13, pop music stations could put me through so many different emotions, even in a single hour. One song would say "I'll love you more with every breath..." and I was swept up in the concept... like I went from "bubbles-through-my-nervous-system" to being pumped full of helium. Yet, the next song would have a melody that just sounded sad. All I can describe the feeling as--have you ever nearly drowned? where you're anticipating your lungs collapsing. Or have you been on the bottom of a dog-pile? where you could swear your heart stopped beating. yeah. that.

I'll probably take this down tomorrow.
thanks for reading.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Thoughts on Self-improvement.

Something that has been on my mind a lot lately... "know thyself".

Someone the other day said "you know when you were a kid, and it felt like everyone was constantly watching you?..."

But the funny thing is, I experience this sensation constantly. Especially when I'm working, and I notice someone is watching me... I go back to my work, and try to ignore them, but I have this sense that there's still a set of eyes on me. eventually I'll look up, and almost ALWAYS they are nowhere to be seen. Sometimes they have even gotten in their cars and left. It made me wonder if there's something in me that believes that I'm just so interesting that I couldn't imagine someone not wanting to just sit and watch me... some sort of subconscious ego.

Anyway, ever since I've noticed this, I have been pondering the possibility that how I perceive myself may not be what someone else sees at all. And that makes me wonder which of us is right.

On more than one occasion, I have been mistaken in my judgment of others, supposing them to have a selfish end in mind when they gave me false information, never imagining that they may have simply erred or misheard. I was quick to judge, and my judgment was harsh.

I learned a trick recently that not only makes sure that I don't find myself unfairly accusing, but allows me to take a look at myself, and perhaps find some room for improvement. it goes like this.

When I begin to accuse someone of something, or to imagine their faults and flaws, I take a moment to identify what exactly I am attributing to them: laziness, vanity, stubbornness, arrogance... it could be any number of things.

Then, instead of deciding for myself that I have judged this person accurately, I sincerely search myself, to see if I am not equally as guilty. I'm almost never innocent. And, since being a hypocrite doesn't help matters at all, I find it hard to state my accusations.

Something I'm NOT good at, is taking an honest look at myself before I'm ready, as when someone else points out my faults. Call me shy, but I don't like feeling eyes upon me when I'm stripped of my pride. I imagine the Emperor's response to the matter-of-fact child who informed him he was in the buff went something like this "(...oh my!) STOP LOOKIN' AT ME THEN!" It hurts to be accused, and it's uncomfortable. My mental response is strangely similar to Adam and Eve, who beheld their nakedness and were ashamed, my instinct is to cover my nakedness... or my flaws. I'm working on being able to see the opportunity to address my faults in total honesty with myself, and those who are brave enough to tell me the truth when they see me parading about in blissful oblivion.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Think about it.

I'm not trying to be mushy or sentimental here. just read this...

"I love you."

It's a complete sentence. It's a statement.

I'm not a pro with linguistics. I can't really label words or dissect a sentence. but I do know this. Love is a verb (as I typed that, it called to mind a song that says exactly that... maybe this post wont be very original at all).

Think about it. Hopefully, we say those words all the time. Hopefully we hear them all the time. but do we really take it to heart? do we really say those words from the heart? Are they like a vain repetition? something we feel obligated to say? Are they, in our minds, simply a good conversation closer? A polite outro?

You may expect, in a dime-a-dozen dissertation such as this, to hear that "we don't say 'I love you' enough". While this is probably true, I'm more concerned with quality than quantity. If we could be certain that each 'I love you' was sincere, we may find that we have been saying "I love you" too much.

A story comes to mind --I'm unable to recall all the particulars-- of a parent who, in exercising either a strong will or (simply) good discipline, sensed some resentment from their child. "do you love me?" they asked, soliciting affection. After some deliberation, the response came: "I love you, I just don't like you right now."

That is not an example of an insincere 'I love you'. I think it is perfectly natural--the temporary inability to see past your own desires or emotions, and sense and embrace a connection with another. In fact, I think this child's statement is more than adorable, it's admirable...I don't want to get derailed here (I'm sure I've already been on more than one hypocritical rant about the invaluable benefits of open and honest communication).

Getting back to the thought that inspired this post.... It donned on me today, when reading the word in all it's typed, and simple glory (complete with quotation marks), that this sentence serves simply as a reminder. Actually, I was kinda blown away by the fact that it isn't "I love you _____(sometimes, right now, when you...)". I like to think of the words as a terrible understatement. I don't think that hearing "I love you" should garner an emotion in anyone (though I believe it does) without ample evidence of the truthfulness of the statement. Words do nothing in and of themselves. They are a sign for something real and evident. We don't need words to witness something. Words come after the fact, or in reference to the facts.
While showing love is probably more natural for some than for others, this is true for everybody: it has almost nothing to do with expressing it in words.

So why are these words so powerful?

Because they affirm something we already know. These words are meant to remind us of a truth, a fact. They could be the "big picture" when our minds and emotions are constricted by tunnel vision, as when we have been hurt and fail to comprehend why. Any reminder is just this: when we think we are considering the big picture, reminders show us that we aren't. Interesting, because truth can be overlooked in two polar extremes. One way, is that we are so focused on finding meaning in a swirl of confusion that we forget that it is nothing more than a brushstroke in the expansive mural of our lives. The other, is that we are attempting to focus on the overwhelmingly vast canvas of our lives that we fail to appreciate the details, the shading and shadows that give depth to big picture, and reminds us that we could never see the big picture if it weren't for a light source.

Hope this hasn't been a bore.. this is just what is on my mind right now... thought I'd document it.

Thanks for reading,
Evan

Monday, May 25, 2009

New Post

I seem to be writing quite a lot these days, but nothing I'm comfortable posting here. Here's a little update, something that really made my day last week.

My job entails picking up garbage along the exits on the interstate. I found a phone, which is a surprisingly frequent occurrence, but this one worked. I found the back of it first, and then the main piece, and then the battery. It was about a $ three or four hundred dollar phone. I didn't expect it to work, but I popped the battery in (not as simple as all that, because it has some road rash) and voila! it booted right up. It was an AT&T phone, and I have Tmobile, so i would have to have it unlocked for it to do me any good. It also had an 8GB SD card in it.

The thought crossed my mind that I should keep it. But in about 5 phone calls, i was able to track down the owner and return it to him. He insisted on giving me $20, shook my hand and said "And thanks for your honesty, that's just great!"

I wish I hadn't kept the $20, I feel like it kinda put a damper on a good feeling.


*Turns out the guy had pretty good taste in music*

Friday, May 22, 2009

short thoughts on the road home

I awoke from a nightmare to learn it's all true
things I have done that I cannot undo
things I have said that I cannot take back
paths I have taken that I cannot re-track
But there someone who can take it away
and settle a debt I could never repay

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Attitude

Hi,

Thanks for stopping by. I haven't posted in a while, but I am feeling really, REALLY content right now, and I want to capture the moment.

I pulled weeds at work for about 8 hours today. It really takes a toll on one's joints. The bed we were weeding is on about a 40° slope, so my ankles were constantly being strained in one direction or another. For footing, I had my choice of either loose gravel, or rocks about the size of a loaf of homemade bread, neither of which is comfortable for kneeling on and we're not allowed to "sit" on the job. The end result is a back ache and raw feet. weeds are no fun.

There were storm clouds brewing in the distance all morning. I was just praying, literally, that it would rain. Rain (at least in sheets) means I get off work early. If there was any day that I would like to cut short, it was today. I was miserable. On top of the physical discomforts, time was moving like a granny peaking over the steering wheel of a surprisingly undamaged Cadillac--unbelievably slow.

So, I prayed again "make it rain, please..." it occured to me that I should add in an 'if it be wisdom in thee', so I tacked one of those on, too.

Then I started thinking about it. Why would God make it rain, just so I could get of work? Perhaps if I truly needed it, and asked in faith... but here I am; not really needing to leave work, just not overly enjoying myself. And as far as faith goes, sure, I believe God could make it rain, but why would I specify that I would like it "if it be wisdom in thee?" That's bunk, and I know it. I'm not considering any sort of "grand scheme" or using an "Eternal Perspective", I just want an excuse to get off work early. So I apologized.

I thought about how I wasn't enjoying work, I thought about how I don't think I could ever stick with a job that doesn't totally thrill me to do, at least not for any sustained amount of time (I have had 15 jobs in the past 7 years). I thought about all the negative things about my job. Like how my boss is lazy, and how she hired her friend's son for the summer and just totes him around all day. The two of them pretend to be working, but in all reality, they just drive from park to park and manually operate the switchboards for the sprinkler systems, which are fully automated. I came up with some nicknames for them that aren't repeatable here.
Then I noticed my attitude, I was really hung up on how tedious and arduous my job was. I was nursing my wounds simply for the sake of cooing to myself little echos of the "injustices" I was being subjected to.

I decided to change my attitude right then and there. And as soon as I made the decision, everything became a joy. It was amazing, I just chose to see things positively and they BECAME positive!

It really works. TRY IT!

Also, this is really cool. I saw a sandpiper in the pebbles by the road, and it kept tweeting every once in a while. as I watched it, I noticed that it would occasionally squat down on the rocks, as if it were sitting in a nest. Strange.... then, I noticed that anytime I would move towards it, or move suddenly, it would hunker down in the rocks. I realized that it was trying to be inconspicuous. Later, I saw it's nest (and to my bewilderment, remembered having seen it yesterday, when I thought that it was a wrecked nest from a nearby bush, (since I've never seen a ground nest before and this one looked pretty weathered). I'd assumed it's eggs to be left for dead, and I squished one with my trash-grabber. leaving 3. MAN! why'd I do that?) anyway, I came back upon the nest. When I approached it, the Sandpiper came running at me, stopped about 7 or 8 feet away, and plopped over on its side, flapping its wings as if it were lame. NEAT! the bird was trying to lure me away from its nest by appearing to be an easy target. One of the coolest things I've seen in a long time. It was really good at appearing to be hurt, it could even ruffle it's feathers to look like its wing was broken. it did it every time I passed by the nest. So cool!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Flesh Worms

I got a job with the city. The Parks and Rec Dept. My first day was, coincidentally, the first day the sun came out in full effect this year. I was burned before my lunch break, and I went back out for another four and a half hours after that. I was burnt to a crisp for the next several days.
Anyway, the job is immeasurably preferable to my call center/tech support job. I can truly appreciate the meaning of the phrase "honest, hard work". I don't have to do anything unethical. I don't even have to interact with more than a handful of people on any given day. I just break my back from 6am to 4:30pm, and get paid.

Friday, April 3, 2009

my short documentary

please watch this.

I spent a lot of time working on this project...

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Living Legacy

I decided just recently, after reading about the origins and history of Bonsai gardening, that I want to collect and cultivate bonsai trees. I think it will be a relaxing, fulfilling hobby. When I think about bonsai gardening, I think of fine tuning one's vision of long-term results, total dominion and, of course, manipulation.

I decided to go with bonsai plants because the initial overhead is pretty low, I essentially become a parent, though I'm not obligated to a partner, I own my counterpart, and I may do WHATEVER I like to it.

Bonsai is simple in its theory, take something that has the potential to become something great and powerful, and thwart it. There are a hundred different ways to do this.

for instance, you can restrict the growth of the root system. One does this by planting the Bonsai tree in a small pot, or by pruning the roots. Bonsai comes from a chinese word meaning "Bon-plant" or to plant in a bon, which here means a shallow pot, or tray. Simply planting in a small pot is a VERY effective way to keep a bonsai just the size you would like. In restricting the spread of its roots, you effectively tell the tree what your expectations are for it. It knows it's limits, and it comes to terms with those limits quite naturally; it will not grow more than its roots can support, you can give it all other necessities for growth, and it will never get "too tall". ahhh... the beauty of establishing boundaries.

Another way to restrict the growth of your plant, is to trim it. You can decide for yourself which branches or you deem beautiful in your plant, and which ones are "for the birds". Let's say, for instance, that your tree tried to branch out in all directions, or, more specifically, that it had 4 branches. For the sake of example, and in keeping with the nature of the practice, we do NOT want our little plant to branch out like this. We have a vision that involves a little less depth, or dimension than these branches will provide. We could simply snip off the unwanted branches. Voila! you have a plant that conforms to your whimsy. If severed correctly, those particular branches will never grow again.

An alternative to pruning, is wiring. Wiring can be done on the entire tree, or just one branch or sprig. The limits are endless! say your tree is growing a little to the left, and you would have it grow straight (for the time being). You may use a copper wire to harness the trunk to an anchor and gradually guide the plant to grow
in an acceptable fashion. Now, say that the plant is growing exactly how you would like it, except for one limb. Easy! Simply wrap the wire around the branch in question until you have created a sleeve around it. you may now bend the sleeve (gradually) in the direction you want it you grow. in time your plant will be picturesque, flawless in your mind.

Like I said, there are any number of ways to make your plant "better". You can even scar the tree to have the appearance of surviving a forest fire, or some other damaging event (though in almost all cases, this scarring is the result of your cogitated efforts).

I think Bonsai would be a great bonding experience to share with my children, because I could show them how it is done, and let them do with their plant as they will. All the while, I could be growing MY version of them, or their plant.
After all, my plant is whatever I want it to be, and it is my prerogative to make it turn out exactly as I envision it.

I had thought about making a Bonsai tree into a family heirloom, one that I could start, and pass down to my progeny who could, in turn, teach their children how to care for, and so on and so forth.

but then I realized that these are the last days anyway, and in the grand scheme of things, that plant wont mean jack squat.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Getting to Know Jack....

There is no introduction in the book by C.S. Lewis "A Grief Observed"-- not the version I read--there was only an Afterward, written by a colleague. I opened it expecting an explanation of what I was about to read. Instead, and before I realized it, I was reading the personal notes of a man who had recently suffered the loss of a loved one. I pieced together, while reading the first pages of the book, that "H" had been his wife. I didn't know how she died for another several pages.

It's a relatively short read. I'm a slow reader, but I believe I finished it in about two hours and change, and this includes re-reading several thoughts that caught my attention. Here are some of those thoughts.

C.S. Points out something that I have noted several times before when he says
  • "Where is God? ...When you are happy, so happy that you have no sense of needing Him, so happy that you are tempted to feel His claims upon you as an interruption, if you remember yourself and turn to Him with gratitude and praise, you will be--or so it feels-- welcomed with open arms. But go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other hope is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double-bolting on the inside. After that, silence."


Prior to reading this, I had reasoned that God was not an intervening god. I couldn't ever really come to the conclusion that God doesn't exist. But, as far as God having a plan for us individually, I had decided that the concept of "blessings" and "trials" was the same as the idea of "good luck" and "bad luck"--something to explain away fortunes and misfortunes.

As I read this, my thoughts were this "God doesn't pour out blessings, nor does he withhold his love. Because God doesn't have a hand in our day-to-day lives." I read on, but something made me wonder how this man-- who had already impressed me with his introspection and self-honesty in two simple pages of prose-- had not considered this fact himself. Or that if he had, he was able to answer it with some better knowledge or experience. I was eager to give the benefit of the doubt*.

Another passage that spoke to me.

  • Bridge players tell me that there must be some money on the game 'or else people won't take it seriously.' Apparently it's like that. Your bid--for God or no God, For a good God or the Cosmic Sadist, for eternal life or nonentity--will not be serious if nothing much is staked on it. And you will never discover how serious it was until the stakes are raised horribly high, until you find that you are playing not for counters or for sixpence, but for every penny you have in the world. Nothing less will shake a man--or at any rate a man like me-- out of his merely verbal thinking and his merely notional beliefs. He has to be knocked silly before he comes to his senses. Only torture will bring out the truth. Only under torture does he discover it himself.


This passage goes hand in hand with the first. I began to realize though, that I had never felt a desperation to know God. At most, I had felt a frustration at not knowing God. But I had only ever half-heartedly looked inside myself as a possible cause.

Mr. Lewis' writing was so unforgiving, so penetrating and honest. I began to wonder if I had ever really pondered truth, or only considered those things that I want most to believe. I have always taken a certain sense of pride in being able to analyze my thoughts and actions, but reading this book was showing me how very little soul searching I had really done. I was beginning to be really excited to consider the questions he raised to himself but then, suddenly, the book ended. I started straight into the Afterward written by Chad Walsh, a fan who became a colleague and friend of C.S. Lewis.

The afterward was nearly as long as the book itself, which is why I was so surprised when it ended, I had thought I was only 2/3 into it. The afterward briefly explains the nature of his relationship to the Author, and his wife. He then begins to describe their relationship, which answered some curiosities I had while reading the notes. But the most interesting part, was learning about C.S. Lewis' life and experiences. He had been raised Christian, become Atheist, and become reconverted to Christianity. I had gathered in the book that he had had his struggles with faith, but learning that he had entirely left and returned was very intriguing to me.

I really wanted to read more of his work, and I recalled that I had seen another of his books in the music room downstairs!

*I don't know how better to phrase this. But '"giving" someone the "benefit" of the doubt' just doesn't articulate my new perspective. After reading Bonds That Make Us Free, I use the term "giving the benefit of the doubt" to mean 'having the willingness to allow myself to realize the truth about someone.' there's no "benefit" to the individual in question that I can "give" them... the solution then, is not to question the individual in the first place. And that is something I can do for myself.

Thanks for reading, more later.

Evan

Monday, March 2, 2009

Half Life -- Atom Bomb Pt II.

I'd like to rephrase the last paragraph of my last post. I said that I was looking "anywhere BUT the realm of organized religion for attributes I wanted..." what I meant was that I was finding it everywhere except in organized religion. It is still true that I wasn't looking for what good is to be had from religion. But I think it's more clear for me to say that I didn't find good because I was to busy pointing out the bad.

Anyway, picking up where I left off.

I didn't realize that, although my goal was that of purging my personality of poisonous qualities, I was actually incubating a very viral and pernicious attribute that was slowly taking me over. I was festering ill-will toward the church and its members. This really began to thrive in me when the whole Prop. 8 debate started.
I got really, really fired up about it. I made the dramatic comparison to the early saints of the church, themselves being victims of oppression through legislative action. I took it on myself to enlighten my friends to the injustice that was being perpetrated by the church. not just friends, but anyone who would listen.

By now, I really was seeing people as willfully mindless, blind followers. Not just members of the LDS church, but everyone. Everyone who affiliated themselves with a political party, even if there were certain policies with which they didn't agree, they were allowing someone to make their choices for them. Any member of an organized religion was choosing not to consider and ponder their beliefs, but instead allowing someone else to feed those beliefs to them as if it was all mixed nuts or some package deal.

Then someone pointed out to me how much angst I had. When before I had parted ways with the church on the note that it was "nice, but not for me...", now all my energy was focused on cutting down the church and its members.

It wasn't that I saw how hypocritical I had been that shocked me. It was the fact that I had been unconscious of the total and complete change of attitude I had had. On top of that, I wasn't investing my energy into becoming better as a person. I was just slandering those around me, cutting them down so I could stand taller than they--at least in my mind.

This is the first of those three enlightening, self-realizations; overcoming delusion. I think that your delusion itself being a cause of enlightenment requires a very extreme level of delusion, otherwise I'm sure I would have been able to flick away the notion of being delusional, by justifying it. But this wasn't some crumb of insight. At the risk of sounding trite, it hit me like a ton of bricks--no, it hit me like a steam roller. the realization was slow, painful and complete. I began to retort, but as I did, the realization began to sink in. By the time I had made my defense it didn't really interest me what the response would be. I was already becoming aware of my self-deception, and I wasn't interested in convincing anyone else of my pure intentions, because I had become disillusioned myself. I felt like a collector of fine art, who had just had my most prized piece appraised, only to realize it was a phony; even if it was convincing to others, it was still worthless junk.

Realizing that what I had been so eager to peddle to others was junk hurt all the more. I felt as if I had been spreading poison in bottles labeled "Truth" Serum. The things I had said may have made people feel good, as they had for me. But in all reality, my secret solution, that could "cure aches and pains" was, however unintentionally malicious, on the same level as morphine, or heroin. It DID relieve my feelings of not being able to relate to others who claimed to have personal relationships with god, or having had prayers answered, or spiritual confirmations of truths. I was an outsider as far as I could see. This Balm of Gilead was nowhere to be found. I found a counterfeit. This cheap poison, thoughts--albeit sometimes unconscious--of superiority toward others, in the beginning seems harmless enough, but as one continues to justify themselves by shopping for the faults of others, the dose becomes larger; the interval more frequent Eventually, subtly, it becomes the primary focus of the user/abuser.

*All this may sound self-deprecating to you now. But there is a very real parallel here. And this allegory is really the only way to emphasize how misguided my intentions proved to be. Heroin was actually invented for pharmaceutical purposes, a replacement for morphine, actually. Its side effects were realized after its users were hopelessly dependent on it.*

I had an opportunity to do a lot of introspective, reflective thinking. And the more I contemplated my behavior toward the church, I realized that I had been unfairly labeling them as "sheeple" who only did as those around them, with no real thought.
I realized that I had assumed that I was right and they were wrong. This was based on my experience, but totally disregarded theirs.

Upon returning home (I had been on a 4-day road trip) I began reading a book I got for my birthday. The subject of the book is relationships and self-awareness. I had been reading it off and on since I got it, and up until the last 3rd of it, I thought it was simply a useful tool for interpersonal relationships, and being objective. It was Christmas break, and I ended up reading the last 3rd of the book in about 3 days, which was more reading than I had done all semester, homework included. I finished Bonds That Make Us Free eager to implement its theory with everyone I came in contact with. It gave me an incredible feeling of love for everyone, even people I had already decided to be annoyed by. I was seeing people as people, whereas before I had held everyone to an unreasonable standard just so I could see them as falling short of my expectations. This is more of that attitude of cutting others down to build myself up. One of the first thoughts that I had had while finishing the book was that I hadn't given the LDS church the benefit of the doubt. Also, realizing the skewed perspective I had had all my life up to that point made me feel that I should "try again" for the umpteenth time. But I was pretty resistant to this idea at first. After all, in all the times that I had tried the church again, it was never the people that were the deal breaker, it was that I didn't feel any spiritual nourishment from attending church, the fact that I resented members for tearful testimonies was just an inconsequential fact.

After I finished Bond that Make us Free I also found myself athirst for other insightful, introspective books. I was over at my brothers house for dinner when I saw a book by C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed. I realized that this book may have some good qualities that I had previously discredited based simply on the fact that I resented the Narnia books for seeming to have a hard time recognizing the divide between theatrical fiction and religion. I thought they were very overtly contrived parallels to Christianity, and I resented the "shameless" use of Deus ex Machina, because it seemed an insult. The idea that the characters had to rely so heavily upon Aslan said to me that Christians would rather have a hero than rise to challenge and save themselves.

Then I realized, this was an opportunity to try out my new insight! I was being unfair, assuming the worst, labeling, even judging a book by its cover. I wanted to give C.S. Lewis a chance. The subtitle of the book read "a masterpiece of rediscovered faith which has comforted thousands" seemed like it reading it would count as a good enough effort to reconsider my position of non-christian beliefs.

Thanks for reading. More later.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Atom Bomb

Every time I try and explain the process of coming around to the church again, I feel like I need a chalkboard or something. Seriously.

I guess the best imagery I can think of right now, aside from a noodle-work of thought processes drawn out on a blackboard, is what goes on inside an atom bomb. I'd ask you to imagine you were watching atoms split and collide with each other, and those parts in turn colliding with others... and we all know the end result, but in my analogy I would call it Enlightenment.

I have an affinity with this Buddhist term. I'm sure this is not the first time you've heard me use it. But, I feel like I have thrown this word around carelessly. Because it means much more than just a deep realization of truth. The concept of Enlightenment is one that endlessly intrigues me, but one that I feel inept to explain. My post/transcription on "Rousing Bodhichitta" doesn't mention the roots of the word, bodhi means Enlightenment, chitta means mind. The sense in which enlightenment in my last post is simply learning, gaining knowledge. But the deeper meaning of enlightenment requires much more than simply realizing a truth, it is attained after overcoming hate, greed, and delusion. This is not exactly what I meant when I said I was on "a path to enlightenment", because the thought of being greedy is not flattering; of being hateful, I felt relatively light on the scale; on being delusional, I was delusional--thinking I was quite possibly the ONLY one in my right mind.

Now I am realizing just how very hateful and delusional I have been. I'm not saying that I have attained nirvana, or "ultimate enlightenment", I realize that I have not overcome ALL hate, greed or delusion. So, I am still on my path to Nirvana. ;)

I guess I got kinda side-tracked there.... Back to my atomic bomb analogy-- with the warning that I am totally ignorant when it comes to chemistry and physics (or whatever else is involved). Misnomers aside, I'm trying to describe how a million different things--all happening simultaneously--resulted in the bottom line; the *BOOM*.

The atoms represent individual bits of concept. My own query for knowledge was the initial free neutron that collided with these concepts. The first atom with which I collided was the LDS church. having divided the church into concepts, two more free nutrons were formed, which represent the understanding I took away from my collision with the church.

Those free Neutrons then collided with other concepts, the theories of Buddhism, and then existentialism. Those, too, were divided into my understanding, and application of those concepts in my life.

At the same time as the string of events I just described were happening, I was also experiencing a few other things for the first time. I moved out on my own about this time, or a little after. I was experiencing freedom of choice. Before, my mother had, for lack of a better term, perfected the art of coercion, and any relevant choices I made were influenced by external motivation (If I wanted A, I would have to do B, or else C; or if I did A, then B, until C.) I suppose this is how parents operate. But I think my mom had become much more focused on getting her way, than the relevance of the issues at hand. It eventually became the coercion I am speaking of, because I was being made to do things that only served her purposes, and failed to consider the impact it would have on me. Looking back, I can't say as I blame her. I only mention it to give you some understanding of my new sense of freedom.
I was free to be dirt poor; to look for a job, or not; to call home, or not; to go to church, or not. I didn't have to answer to anyone. Kinda a interesting realization, knowing you can make your own choices. I was 17. I was living about 3 hours away from home, in the college town where my sister was living. I got my first cell phone, my first housing contract... etc.

I was going to church, but I wasn't participating (I actually had a calling as building coordinator) beyond a social perspective. About this time I was starting to take a look at what I defined as Spirituality. All my life, I had understood spirituality to include faith and testimony, or love of the gospel. all things which I didn't feel I possessed. I also investigated my concept of what it means to feel the spirit. The best I could come up with was that I was supposed to feel some physiological sensation. The closest thing I could compare it to was getting the chills, as when someone says something really profound. But when I thought more on it, I realized that I got the same sensation when listening to music, even instrumental rock like Jeff Beck - Angel(footsteps). I arrived at the conclusion that this was just an physical response to strong emotion, and had nothing to do with some external spirit "bearing witness", which explains the whole movers and shakers scene in religion pretty well. Logically, I guess there was really only degrees of this same phenomenon in all religions, depending on each one's perception of how it "should be". Mormons obviously are more subdued than protestants or seventh-day Adventists, and therefore their concept of the Holy Ghost is also more mild. Same with "speaking in tongues".

When I became keen on existentialism, it sparked a personal philosophy of total humanism. Although, generally, the philosophy of existentialism raises the question of the existence of God to practitioner (if the practitioner has not already arrived at a conclusion about it) I was and have always been pretty certain that God exists. I considered myself a "theistic existentialist", which most consider to be an oxymoron. It made sense to me though. I reasoned that whether god existed or not, I was going to be a good person based solely on the fact that I knew what was right and wrong. I wasn't going to be "god-fearing" because that was an external motivation; to please someone (god, or fellow man), or to avoid judgment(again, by God, or fellow man). I believed (and still do, to much extent) that "it is the thought that counts". In other words, if I behave a certain way, but feel differently in my heart, then no amount of performance will justify my thoughts.

This was pretty much the philosophy that I operated by for the past 5 years or so. I expanded it, and applied it in many different aspects of my life, but the theory remained much the same until last year. when I decided to quit trying to make sense of the LDS church. This led to an attempt to define my relationship to this God that I could not reason didn't exist. I decided that there must be a God, a source of knowledge, a creator, but that he was not an intervening God. In short, I decided that someone had started the top spinning, and He was content to let it play out without helping it along. I was now a Deistic Existentialist...

Just a few months ago, this was my mindset. And I was motivated by anything that inspired me to be a better person, as long as it was not external motivation. I had, at this point, rejected organized religions as support groups for people who could not make sense of their lives, or could not come to terms with the inconsequence of their existence, or rather, the absence of a grand scheme. I was looking anywhere BUT the realm of religion for attributes that I wanted to have--a humanistic approach to life that centered around understanding, and compassion. However, the religious crowd didn't fall under the category of people who I felt understanding or compassion toward. I felt instead that they lacked understanding (of "reality"), and I couldn't muster compassion for anyone who was that obstinate. Overall, I still had love for them as individuals, though this was a skewed perception of them, because my compassion was compelled by the idea that they were simple-minded.

Thanks for reading. I didn't say the tenth part of what I wanted to in this post, but I don't want to chase you off with my long-winded explanations. Next time I'll pick up right here.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Rousing Bodhichitta

This is a transcription of a seminar called Pema Chödrön. I think it has some good points, some that have become very true in my life lately. Here are a few excerpts.

"...It's very traditional at the beginning of teachings--especially for Tibetan Buddhist teachers to encourage their students to "Rouse Bodhichitta" SO I'd like to say a little bit about what that means....

"... it's main topic, actually, is how to work with you own mind, and live your life in a way that you develop and begin to open, so that you can be of true benefit to other people. it's how to live in such a way that with your actions and your words, you can help others. And just by the model of your life, that you could inspire other people. How to wake up yourself, so that you could support other people in finding their own ability to wake up from any kind of ignorance, from any kind of hard-heartedness, from any kind of self-absorption--to help people do that.

"And so it's said that, when you "wake up" like that, the path of the Bodhisattva is very connected with this subject of Bodhichitta.

"Simply put... it's said, traditionally, that virtuous actions have virtuous results. And one kind of traditional or classic, virtuous action is to "listen to the Dharma"--listen to teachings that resonate with a deeper part of you, that somehow inspire you out of, maybe some kind of narrow, small perspective, and resonate with a part of you that can stay open. resonate with your open mind--unbiased, unprejudiced mind-- and resonate with your open heart.

So, when we say "Rouse Bodhichitta"... virtuous actions such as listening to the Dharma have virtuous results such as less emotional upheaval, results such as being able to keep your heart open in increasingly difficult situations. It's said that when we act in an open-hearted way--what's called traditionally "virtuously"-- then the result of that is that we ourselves are becoming more compassionate; more sane; have a better sense of humor; are more flexible, these kind of things.

"...this really means that you have the longing to be able to share with other people, your good fortune. That rather than--- you know, when things lighten up for us, either outer conditions or emotional stuff, you know, we want to horde it for ourselves and we might begin to get very stingy about--not feeling all that generous. Arousing Bodhichitta is a sense of immense generosity where you actually wish for other people to have the same good fortune as you.

"...beginning to cherish anything good in your life, the warmth of a shower if, you like to take showers.... or you might have a lot of worries on your plate, but there's still some sweetness in every day of everybody's lives-- some kindness that is extended to you; some kindness that ,you extend to other people. Arousing Bodhichitta has the feeling of wishing that good fortune to be shared by other people. And sometimes the most powerful way to do that is to think of particular people that you know who are particularly messed up--or suffering extremely--and you wish for those people to have some of this good fortune that you have. Even these moments or seconds of good fortune, you wish for these other people to have it.

...Arousing Bodhichitta at the beginning of a teaching is making the aspiration that anything that you learn... any lightness of your load, or more "cheered-upness" or sense of inspiration, that you want to share it. You want to share it with the people who need it--who don't have the good fortune that you have. So that's the notion of Arousing the Bodhichitta; it's like a longing to want to share the wealth with other people, so he more you understand what the word "open-heartedness" means, then the more you want to share that understanding--not just the understanding, but the experience, you want other people to have that experience. Or the more you have the experience of an unprejudiced moment, you know, where you are engaged with someone, and you can drop your biases and just listen openly to them--the more you have an experience like that of open-mindedness the more you know the value of it.
and then Bodhisattva what is to want other people who don't have that, to have it.

"...this is the idea... rousing your longing to share with other people any kind of wakefulness; any kind of openness, actually an kind of inspiration, or tenderness of your whole life--wishing for it to spread out and benefit other people.

"So, that's a very very simplistic, non-intellectual description."

Monday, January 26, 2009

Work, Work, Work...

So... there's some real characters here at work.
I think I'm going to enjoy working with them.

I started this post about two and a half weeks ago, focusing on the more quirky characters in my class. But, in the time since, I have actually become better friends with them than the "normal" ones!

originally, I had given them alias' such as "the whistler(not of Jethro Tull notoriety)", Lonelyboy15, The Surfer Duuude, Prude-y McGee, etc. But upon review of this post I realized suddenly that I'm a jerk. These kids are cool! They have some of the most interesting personalities I've ever come across.

I had this crazy, eye-opening experience that is still working throughout various facets of my life. I can't hardly explain it, except to say that I went from seeing people as obstacles and distractions, to seeing them as mirrors of myself. Weird? yeah... and maybe I just can't articulate what i mean... I've stopped seeing people, and started seeing individuals.everyone has their own unique, endearing qualities and quirks, and it's great to just observe and appreciate them, rather than scrutinize and critique and assign them a value based on how like you, or your ideal they are.

let me tell you about my boss. He's a mix between Jerry Garcia, Yoda and Mr. Miagi.
I say that with all respect. he is one of the nicest guys I've ever met, and things that I might have judged him for before don't really matter when I consider how really concerned and honest he is, and how it was never my place to judge him critically in the first place. Its great!

I feel kinda selfish, because I get excited to get to know people because I so enjoy the experience now that I have my "blinders" off. I guess because it seems like I still see people as a means to my own ends. but in all honesty, I'm in a far better place than I was before.

Now I need to work on being a good conversationalist. I've realized that as much as I enjoy people now, I've got a bad habit of focusing on myself. Inadvertently I always steer the conversation to where I want, and end up talking as much about myself as anything. Not because they don't interest me, but because I seem in the habit of talking about what I know, and I don't know how to focus conversations on others very well. :(

Thanks for reading!
100th post! woot!

please watch and share....

this woman's work.

Friday, January 16, 2009

I go it alone

Good Evening, Dear Reader!

Can I tell you how amazing my life has been as of late?

Pretty darn.

I've got this strange feeling of being outside myself most of the time. a month ago I couldn't see past the end of my nose, I don't know if I even opened my eyes. I was pretty much absorbed with myself, my thoughts. I was quiet, but inside my head was an ongoing, cynical commentary of the world as I saw it. Pretty much like living with blinders on, and just watching re-runs on TV. I had total tunnel vision. I saw people on a 2-dimensional plane, in black and white. And my constant thoughts were "this is what you call living?".

How obtuse! thank you to everyone who has contributed to my snapping out of that. I can now see around me. The first things I noticed were my hands. Clutching my existence, my remote control whereby I controlled what was channeled into my world. I'd like to say that I dropped that remote and started DOING, but it seems as if my hand has been molded to the shape of it. Interestingly enough, that means my hand has to learn to stop pointing a finger.

So, while I am adjusting to my new perspective, I've found another purpose for my pointer finger. I'm using it to turn pages. Lots of pages. I've finished 2 books I had started in the middle of last year, and begun and finished 3 books in the past week. Good books. Amazing books. The kind you can't put down. Never mind the titles. It's the words in them. I feel like I've deloused myself in reading them. I still have some itching that I think will go with the right salve, but the parasite is gone.

I can't explain this change. It's illogical even to me. I can say that my paradigm shift was not (at first) actively sought. At least, the one I got was not the one I was expecting.

I see people! real, living, breathing, loving, feeling genuine people! An incredible experience. I can't help but smile. Where as before I was so absorbed in myself that I only took notice of those in my path, not the one's with their arms outstretched (in welcoming, or in need) just the ones that posed an obstacle for me. I, who claimed to be someone capable of deep love and affection, altruism and concern for others.

I would say that I was conscious of the facade on some level. But even being honest with myself, I didn't know another way to see people. I could love, but it was selfish love. My "altruism" was really only dedication to those who could protect me. My concern for others was from a position of seeing them as weak, helpless and hopeless. Any my "reaching out" was selfish. it wasn't an open, caring hand with which I reached out; it was a foot, sheathed in a hiking boot, and I intended to use their shoulders as a leg up in my plight to climb my mountainous Ego, but I would coo assurances that I would come back for them. If not totally concerned with myself, my "reaching out" was self-righteous. I was, after all, being benevolent--something one can only HOPE for the mettle to do. I was just trying to validate myself.

Not to be down on myself, I suppose I could say that I made this change because I truly wanted to. But I do feel that it was in spite of myself. I'm glad I was able to be open to it, but other than that, I don't know if I can say that I can take any credit for how incredibly great I feel.

Thanks for reading, and for sharing joy with me.

--Evan