I’m going to miss having a roof to sit on… (Taken with Instagram)
Very recently I (over?)emphasized the importance of Mad Men to my friend by telling him “It’s not just about advertising…it’s about America, it’s about life, it’s about where we came from”. It’s this kind of statement that just about always makes me want to eat my foot a week later.
Well, here we are. Three days have passed since this declaration, and my shoe is off, foot ready to be seasoned with Lawry’s or A1 or whatever type of sauce/seasoning I see next on an advertisement.
I don’t say this to mean that my definition of the show is anything but right…but it’s almost TOO right. Almost TOO real. Almost TOO much the life that our parents probably led. It’s probably too much the life that the majority of us are doomed to lead, albeit with different products, technologies, fetishes, and fashion “senses”.
Don Draper is the classic definition of the anti-classic but all too real American. His past is soiled, his charm is unmatched, and he simply can’t help himself. He is what we all secretly hope to be. At the same time we all hope no one notices how much like Don we all are. If we are like Don, that means, somewhere along the line, things went terribly against plan. The picket fence and 3 kids just simply didn’t work out the way we thought it was going to. At the same time we’re here…staring a glass of whiskey in the face, 4 years away from self-induced lung cancer, on our 2nd (ok technically 3rd) marriage contemplating what went wrong THIS time.
I guess, all in all, this is why I keep watching. Because no show has so well defined what it is that happened to the generation before mine. When (non-cold) war (semi) ended. When things seemed safe. When happiness seemed attainable. When said happiness was displayed for all to see at 6pm on Tuesdays (I’m just guessing at the time that Leave it to Beaver came on there…).
Mad Men constantly makes the viewer beg the question: “Just what the hell was so wrong with your life that you had to do THAT!”…and then realize that they would have acted the exact same way, given the circumstances. It’ll all come to an end, I’m sure. Probably sometime around Vietnam. Right about the time when Pete Campbell gets drafted, Bert Cooper dies, and Roger Sterling becomes a bona fide pimp by opening an opium den. And Don will simply watch and wonder the same thing we all do every day.
“How the hell did it come to this…”
I’ve probably written hundreds of statements about contentment. That’s no coincidence. It has to be the one thing I strive for the most but the one thing that seems to so easily elude me. Maybe it’s just standard for 26-year-old-single-always-in-transition-males (honestly I first typed 25 because I forgot how old I was…or I thought I was younger).
I often wonder what life would be like if I’d married my highschool girlfriend, or studied abroad and never came back. Or kids. Geeze…that thought both legitimately freaks me out and also intrigues me. Caring for human life…there is definitely some purpose in that. Not to say that my current job/volunteer stuff doesn’t involve that to a certain extent, but when you are the one who is primarily responsible I’m sure it’s a bit different.
I also wonder if I’ll ever get to those spots. I mean, I’m sure I could help orchestrate things so they wind up that way. I could just date and date and date til I found someone who I’ve convinced myself is ‘the one’ (whatever the hell that means). But (much like hiking), I prefer to just end up in a place and then survive through it. Life seems a lot more interesting that way.
At the same time I crave at least a little bit of predictability, whether I openly admit to it or not (blog posts not withstanding). It’s nice to expect something to happen at regular intervals. Your cup of coffee, your favorite chair, the television show you settle down to. The actual thing is rarely what I crave, but instead the ritual fulfills me.
But then I get restless again. I start to think about how I should be making the most of my time. How I should be taking advantage of every moment I’ve been given. Today I played catch with my dad and wondered if I ever would again (parents live out of state and are getting old).
When you’re young you believe everything will last forever just the way it is. Because it has to. If it didn’t, how would the world around you function? If you didn’t have your parents there to put you to bed or take you to school or feed you then you simply wouldn’t exist. In fact, those thoughts rarely even enter our brains as children. We just simply expect because that’s all we can do.
I almost ran over a small child today. I was going to back up, and luckily I had the windows down and heard a parent yelling at their child. The kid (about 2 years old) literally ran RIGHT behind the car. If the windows weren’t down I’m not sure what would have happened. That moment. That exact moment could have changed my life forever. Instead it just passed like any other. Just a small break in the action and then on to normal life.
It’s all so SO fragile. I don’t even have to experience anything tragic to realize this most times. I think about death so naturally because it stares us in the face almost every day. Whether it be on the news or movies or whatever, we are presented with our own mortality.
This (like many things) is what brings me back to Jesus. If He’s not the most relevant thing in this conversation about life/death/afterlife then I don’t know what is. Regardless of if I ever get married or have kids or own another car or play catch with my dad ever again…Jesus will still be there. Still be the one who has saved me and everyone else. The one who has/is/will make things right.
It all seems so worthless without Him. So not worth living. So…depressing really. It weighs on my heart that people can go through this tragic life and not experience the reality of His salvation.
I don’t mean this in an “in your face” evangelistic fashion. It’s more out of empathy. I see struggle all the time. In my job/church/life/whatever. We all do really. I mean, just walk into a hospital. You’ll get hit in the face with struggle.
If there is no one there to relieve the struggle when it hits hardest. To comfort when things go wrong. To encourage when you’re the one who has to be the encourage-er. Then things get much harder, much quicker. And I don’t want to live that life. I’d much rather live without much of a sense of habit, but with the promise of purpose. The promise of meaning. The promise of life. Sometimes it takes writing/rambling a bunch to get me there. But there you have it.
Sometimes I question my own ability to communicate my thoughts and feelings clearly. Other times I question this ability in our society as a whole. Has it always been this hard to just say what you mean? Or is it no longer relevant to speak for the purpose of something other than self aggrandizement. If I truly look back and question my motivation behind everything I’ve said in the last 4 hours it’s shocking to think how much of that speech was probably tailored to make me look better than I actually am.
I suppose that’s just part of being fallen and recognizing that fact. It’s one thing to be sinful, it’s a completely other thing to realize your own sin in your life. It can get overwhelming. It can consume you. It can also make you a better person.
This was maybe a long time coming. Or perhaps the definition of a long time is skewed. When you think of a long time, how long is that time? Just think of an arbitrary length of time that off-hand seems long. Ok got it? Now compare that amount of time to how long you believe you have left to live at maximum. Now take that number and divide it by 2. What if that’s all the time you had left. What if your impact on this world was limited to that and only that. Would you change anything? If the answer is yes then you better do it soon.
Ironically this very idea - life is fragile and could end at any moment - can be the very thing that paralyzes you. Makes you second guess every decision. Makes you fret about walking out the door. Keeps you from being exactly who it is that you’d like to be. We so desperately want to find ourselves…but we are oh so scared of what we’ll find when we do. So we go about our lives with the assumption that we have an infinite amount of time to figure it out…only to wake up one day and realize all that time has long since passed us by.
A friend of mine was recently in a skiing accident that is currently threatening her life. Nothing can make you realize your own mortality more than witnessing someone else battle against their own. I don’t need to be in the hospital room to know the thoughts and prayers going out from those at the bedside. Experiences like that change you, mold you, make you who you are. At the end of the day most of us can’t take whatever it is we’re working towards with us. I believe what we will take with us is our relationships with each other. Appreciate them, they will be there longer than they seem.
Tomorrow will be a day. The next day will be another. But today, in this moment, something real is happening. It isn’t in the future or the past, it is simply now. Make sure that “now” is something that you’re satisfied with. You don’t have to be happy about it. You don’t have to even like it. Just be satisfied.
for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13I can do all things through him who strengthens me. ~ Phil 4: 11-13
Are we just naturally inclined to break into two groups of thought? Or maybe we’re just inclined to see things as divided due to our bias to think that way…
We love drawing lines in the sand and making people stand on one side or the other. You either agree or you don’t. The issue can never be more complicated than that…right? Modern politicians seem to think so. But in reality we all know that no issue of true substance is ever black and white. But boy, do we love to identify with either black or white. We love to rally, we love to believe we’re part of something bigger, and we REALLY find pleasure in letting everyone else know.
I think maybe it makes life seem simpler somehow. Like you don’t have to think about issues in a complex manner if you’re already part of a group who has done your thinking for you. Christianity is maybe the biggest culprit of this. Why should I ever question what I believe if all my friends at church already believe it? I wouldn’t want to risk being ostracized would I? Deep down we all have a fear of being left out, regardless of how minute the feeling may be.
Do you remember what 2nd grade was like? Do you remember making fun of the kid who peed his pants, or farted during social studies? Or even worse, do you remember making fun of the kid who couldn’t afford lunch?
Most of us made fun of those kids for one simple reason: If the group’s attention was focused on someone else’s obvious maladies, then there was less of a chance that the group would focus on our own problems. It was just plain survival… at the cost of someone else’s dignity.
I’m convicted that I simply don’t stop and think enough about why I’m doing what exactly it is that I’m doing. Or, better yet, why do I believe what I say that I believe? Have I even stopped to think about it?
Our world moves so fast around us that it can seem impossible to form a new idea without something else getting in the way. So how much easier is it to just link on to the next forwarded email or Youtube video or facebook status that comes your way?
It all comes down to a crisis of identity. Many of us desire to be told who we are and what we’re about, without going through the pain of realizing that we make ourselves. We are accountable for our own actions. We reap what we sow.
I once heard a pastor speak on this very subject to a chapel full of college students. He started out by comparing all of us to sheep. Not that we were cute or fluffy, but rather that we were all wandering around as lost as can be, and asking one thing to everyone we could: “Can you tell me who I am?”
The talk was focused on finding your identity in God, but not in an extremely religious way. Rather, the pastor’s suggestion was that in God your identity is abundantly simple. You are His, and the reason you are His is because He loves you. Your entire identity is wrapped up in the fact that the creator of the universe loves and cares for you.
Something deep inside me always gets a little excited when I hear a statement like that. I think the reason I get riled up is because of the freedom this statement gives. My identity isn’t what political party I’m affiliated with, or which denomination of church I go to, or where I grew up, or who my friends are. My very existence can be found in the simple fact that God loves me. That makes me want to live into that existence as best I can, not because I think it’ll make God love me more, but because it’s simply the only way that seems right.
How I do that, how I live this way, should not be determined by anyone else. I will think critically, I will take the time to question the things presented to me, and I will make the best decision I can, according to my identity. In my opinion, it’s the only way to figure out what my identity really looks like.
On a night that pitted the two youngest teams in the NHL against one another, it was the 26 year old “veteran” Paul Stastny who was the overwhelming star as the Colorado Avalanche defeat the LA Kings by a score of 1 to 4.
The Avs started this game with a new look as defenseman Kyle Quincy was traded Tuesday to Tampa Bay (and then later Detroit) for winger Steve Downie. Downie brings a welcome hard-nosed attitude up front on a team full of young play-makers in the Avalanche. Downie came right out swinging as his first shift involved a few fast paced collisions in the corners on the forecheck. His third shift saw Downie receiving his first penalty minutes in the burgundy and blue with a somewhat embellished trip on King’s forward Justin Williams. That’s all part of the package, though, as Downie has already racked up over 100 penalty minutes in the first two thirds of the season.
The change in lineup only seemed to spark the Avalanche offense as Mark Olver rifled a one-timer past the unsuspecting Jonathan Quick, 7 minutes into the first period to give the Avs a 1-0 lead.
Six minutes later it was Stastny’s turn as he capitalized on a costly giveaway behind the net by defenseman Kyle Clifford. As Clifford looked switch the attack to the other side behind the net, he didn’t realize Stastny had stolen in behind the net. By the time Clifford realized what had happened Stastny had already buried a wrap around past Quick.
After killing Downie’s penalty, the Avalanche turned up the heat once more as Jay McClement deflected what looked like a pass from Ryan O’Reilly on a 3 on 2 in the Kings end just past Jonathan Quick for the 3rd goal of the game.
The second period saw the Kings opt for goal tender Jonathan Bernier in place of Quick, who had given up 3 goals off of only 11 shots.
Bernier was in for more of the same as 12 minutes into the second period Gabriel Landeskog brought the puck right in front of the King’s net only to see Paul Stastny out wrestle an LA defender and bury the puck in an open net. Stastny’s second goal gave the Avalanche a 4-0 lead, and a lock on 3 extremely valuable points.
The other end of the ice featured an excellent performance by Semyon Varlomov who was under heavy pressure from a frustrated Kings offense. The Kings had scored only 4 times in their last three games before tonight. Varlomov had 32 saves and a .992 save percentage.
The win puts the avalanche within 3 points of the 8th and last playoff spot in the Western Conference, which is conveniently occupied by the LA Kings. The Avs now head out on a two game road trip to Columbus and Detroit in what seem like must-win games if Colorado wants to stay in the playoff hunt.
You know those times when you are positive you could do something better than someone else, but then realize that you’d never have the guts to even try what they’re trying? It’s like fear of embarrassment keeps us (me?) from doing anything worth doing at all.
I seem to be plagued with this innate ability to look back on my life and pick out the most embarrassing things I’ve done/said/whatever, and then bring back even the shame that goes with it! The funny thing is that rarely does anyone else find these things embarrassing or even mildly abnormal. That’s what really trips me up…it’s like where did I get this idea that everyone is watching my every move, just waiting to see me trip and fall.
It’s not even the tripping and falling I’m really worried about. I’m normally very self deprecating when it comes to physical comedy. No, it’s more centered around the things I say that seem so cliche inside of my head. Often times I feel like I just tell myself they are cliche and thus I’m an idiot for saying them.
This often leads me to the conclusion that I should simply talk less, though I’m not even sure if I talk much to begin with. I think in some social situations I talk a ton, but in general I am mostly quiet until I really get to know my surroundings. But then when I get too comfortable, it’s like I have no filter, or my filter is off or something. Or maybe I have too much of a filter, or maybe I’m trying too hard to impress? That last point seems to hit home a bit harder than the rest…
I think this all comes down to being happy with the person that God made me, rather than trying to worry about whether or not anyone else is happy with me. Of course most people are probably worrying the same thing about themselves, and thus giving no thought to what they think about others since they’re too busy worrying about what others think about them.
That seems to be a fairly recent problem in human history. It’s like suddenly we are all under this huge microscope that no one is looking into…but we’re keenly aware that anyone at anytime could come and look! So we have to prepare for it. We have to make sure we’re dressed right, talk right, sing right, be interesting…whatever the list goes on.
I don’t think social media is helping this much. I mean, what a better opportunity to show people exactly what you want them to see…without ever having to show anyone anything of worth at all. We seem to have been going in that direction for a while, but never have we had such a great medium for it. I’m not trying to bash the usefulness of social media, rather I’d like to point out that it simply tends to encourage superficiality.
Superficial - adj - presenting only an appearance without substance or significance.
Significance. Now there is a word we can sink our teeth into. Unfortunately the ambivalence of our “do whatever you want as long as you don’t hurt anyone” society kind of shies away from the idea of any action being truly significant. But I think deep down we all know when we see something truly significant…we just don’t see it that often when we are stuck in a shroud of the superficial.
Without faith I’m not sure I could see anything as significant…with it I define a LOT of things as significant. Though those things are rarely significant in the way that the media considers the word. In retrospect I tend to see significance almost exclusively in times of mundane every day affairs. They are in the larger moments of my life too…but as time goes by I tend to think more along the lines of “man that small word of encouragement totally changed everything!” as opposed to “holy crap that car wreck changed my life”.
This then leads me to believe that almost anything I do may contain significance in the eyes of the Lord…which is a bit of a scary thought. I think about all the times I was called to do something significant, but then opted for something superficial to save face. Maybe those are the time I should be embarrassed about…
James 3 …I feel like i’m always drawn back to this chapter because it encapsulates a lot of struggle. Vs 9 says “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing” ugh…yup. James then asserts to his readers that this simply cannot be. The two cannot happen if we are to follow correctly. And therein lies the crux…the crux of the issue with speaking, acting, doing whatever it is that puts me in such a funk day in and out. It simply cannot be if I want to represent the Lord well.