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Archive for the ‘Letting go’ Category

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“Mail; It was called mail” said the elder Fox. “Envelopes; stamps; you know, I think I’ve heard of it…” replied the younger Fox.

That’s Fox, Joe Fox, for those of you boning up on your movie trivia.

In the real world, once upon a time, “The Post”, aka mail, was the only way to communicate. Not just letters, but telegraph, telegram, and even telephone revolved around the “Post Dispatch” for generations.

As a college kid, I experienced the world for the first time on a mission trip to West Germany. Yes, there were two Germany’s once upon a time, but I digress. “The Post” (office) was the only way to communicate. Letters were sporadic ways to let the folks back home know how you were, but phone calls were expensive and hard to make. You went to the Post, paid up front for a 10 minute call, and waited your turn for a booth. The operator connected you, and when your 10 minutes were done, the line went dead.

Talk about discipline…

Fast forward to 2011…

Our family devices were all abuzz during the night. Everyone got a text. It seems that China Girl had found a “Post” in the heart of Beijing, circa 2011. In these days, it is spelled WIFI. Accordingly, the texts were followed by something called “Skype”. What language is that, and can it help explain why I’m so tired this A.M.?

So, we will eagerly await her next post, literally and figuratively, via the WWW.

In the interim, thanks for reading mine.

🙂

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“God is subtle, but He is not malicious. I cannot believe that God plays dice with the world.” – Albert Einstein.

I’ve long thought that to be true, but now wonder if He is not often times speaking to us more directly. Take a random walk with me, and see if you agree.

Many of us recall the “Rocky” movie franchise. He started his saga in the slums of Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love. The movie details him out running past a group of likely unemployed young men standing on a street corner singing “Take it Back”. Four movies later, some good, some less than good, and Rocky is back in the same neighborhood, a rags to riches to rags scenario, but he is still “Rocky Balboa” at the core, albeit changed by time, experience, and the impact of money.

I have experienced in the past 24 hours what I’ll dub “the day of diatribes”, polite though they may have been. This may or may not be considered just one more of the same by the time you finish this reading.

The first diatribe was by a Facebook friend protesting the use of the American flag as a form of forced advertising by a local realtor who placed them in every yard as far as the eye can see.

The second diatribe hit a little closer to home. It was written by a youth minister in Texas about the problem of increasing costs in higher education, specifically private faith based education, and the amount of debt it takes for many to get an undergraduate degree. The university for which I work’s mission statement is “Transforming Lives for faith, scholarship, and service.” Trust me when I say we do not intend for that to be “debt service”, and are listening and seeking solutions to the broad based problem of the higher education industry making our experience affordable and relevant. Pardon my digression from the topic at hand.

The third diatribe dealt with the problem of sensationalism and desensitizing in our mass media, all to get attention and “viewership”. It is a well written piece about things that are good and true, and you can read it at http://www.reddirtchronicles.com/2011/06/rdc-editorial-whatever-is-good-true-beautiful/

The fourth piece, more a reflection than a diatribe, was a personal look at living a purposeful life, and not a life of “Shadow Purposes” as we are so prone to do in this rich society. It can be read at http://www.reddirtchronicles.com/2011/06/chasing-my-shadow-purpose/

The final referenced piece in the “24 hours of diatribes” was my own, preceding this one, mind you. I read an article this morning about the NBA lockout and some of the quotes in a war of mega millionaires fighting mega millionaires over who gets the bigger share of the billions being offered by the masses at the alter of modern day entertainment. I love the NBA, but this article made me mad, and I suspect it will do the same for many fans as what promises to be a protracted labor negotiation fight plays out.

To paraphrase author Donald Miller, I think we all have forgotten that we are just trees in a story about a forest. The forest may be on fire all around us, but we are too focused on the near surroundings and our own concerns to notice.

The global economy appears to be badly broken. We have “stored up treasures on earth, where moth and rust corrupt, and where thieves break in and steal” (Matt. 6:19) and need to be prepared for a different day and age, even within the lifespan of some current generations. The economic storm is raging as we speak in benefit rich European society, and the tsunami is racing toward us across the Atlantic even now. Societies are in debt up to their eyeballs; we are soft; we are spoiled. And fundamental societal things are changing. We are aging. The balance of trade and who makes and who buys is evolving. Health care is a concern. The U.S. Government won’t be able to pay for it all or fix all that ailes us. All the while, I fear we are standing on the beach arguing over who gets the bigger share of sandbags while we should be moving to higher ground to stay safely out of the coming wake.

Our societies often have found themselves in these moments in history, and it seems they are often ultimately resolved by fighting a war. The U.S. War for Independence; the French Revolution; the U.S. Civil War; WWI; WWII; the Middle East conflicts. Its about a groundswell of the masses when they can’t get what they want and need, and when the establishment is out of touch. We may be entering another “let them eat cake” moment, I fear. Get the picture?

I think the establishment may be catching on. One of the more telling advertisements running on TV today is “More Saving: More Doing; That’s the power of the Home Depot”. We need to realize that David Stanley (OKC auto dealer) does not really lead the way. The Mathes Brothers may have “our style at our price”, but they will never know us by name.

As I began to pour these random reflections down and try to tie them together cohesively, I looked through the “categories and tags” section of my blog site, and a huge percentage of those previously used seemed strikingly relevent. Take a look at all those listed at the end of this and see if you agree.

After an early morning of pondering these thoughts, I got into the car to come to the office and was immediately presented with “Awakening” by Switchfoot playing on my car radio. God is subtle, indeed, and He was speaking right to me.

Face down with the L.A. curbside endings
In ones and zeros
Downtown was the perfect place to hide

The first star that I saw last night
Was a headlight of a man-made sky
But man-made never made our dreams collide, collide

Here we are now with the falling sky and the rain
We’re awakening
Here we are now with the desperate youth and pain
We’re awakening

Maybe it’s called ambition
You’ve been talking in your sleep about a dream
We’re awakening

Last week saw me living for nothing but deadlines
With my dead beat sky
But this town doesn’t look the same tonight

These dreams started singing to me out of nowhere
And all my life I don’t know
That I’ve ever felt so alive, alive

Here we are now with the falling sky and the rain
We’re awakening
Here we are now with the desperate youth and pain
We’re awakening

Maybe it’s called ambition
You’ve been talking in your sleep about a dream
We’re awakening

I wanna wake up kicking and screaming
I wanna wake up kicking and screaming
I wanna know that my heart’s still beating
It’s beating, I’m bleeding

I wanna wake up kicking and screaming
I wanna live like I know what I’m leaving
I wanna know that my heart’s still beating
It’s beating, it’s beating, it’s beating, I’m bleeding

Here we are now with the falling sky and the rain
We’re awakening
Here we are now with the desperate youth and pain
We’re awakening

Maybe it’s called ambition
But you’ve been talk, talking in your sleep about a dream
We’re awakening
Dream, we’re awakening

So, where do we go from here, in this digital community, and in each of our own “cities of brotherly love”? Maybe we are a little like that prizefighter who has gone one or two rounds too far, and needs to reset. What is our task? More saving, more doing? Maybe. Less spending, more doing? Likely. More sharing, more caring? Absolutely. Heightened attention spans are in order. We’re awakening. The bar is raised. A groundswell is happening all around us, and a tsunami may (or may not) be headed are way. Let’s move to higher ground and be ready.

Take me back.

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A friend and colleague was coming home from the airport with me recently and was perusing content on his iPhone. He said “how did we ever get anything done before email?”. We had just gotten off a cross country “red eye”, so I will give him credit for a potential momentary lapse in discernment.

I thought for a moment about what he said, and the 2011 me agreed wholeheartedly, but the base model me took exception. Allow me to explain.

You see, I began my career circa 1988. They issued me a large leather bag and a gigantic “10 key” calculator, complete with a paper tape. They also showed me the supply cabinet, with it’s wealth of multicolumn spreadsheet form paper and other goodies made from wood pulp, but no computer. And we got a lot of work done. Boy, did we ever.

18 months or so later, we were all issued start of the art laptop computers, first generation MacBooks, no less. The processors were slow, the software was cumbersome, but we were expected to use them and become “paperless”. Instead, hours worked increased, pounds lugged to the client site doubled, we printed everything, and productivity trudged along for the ride.

Fast forward 23 years later, and we still have not gone paperless just yet, but I’ll admit it’s getting better. But, has productivity really improved, or do we just work more? After all, as my friend made his statement, we were riding home in a car after a 32+ hour day, and he was reading email while our greater conscious selves were napping.

A digital native, I am not. But i consider myself a wise gray haired immigrant who knows his way around the digital continent. Email. Cell-phones. Websites. Texting. Cloud computing. We are more accessible than ever.

While writing this, I took a Saturday morning phone call from a colleague in another department a few moments ago, and he was looking for the cell phone number of a colleague in mine. And he apologized for the “interruption”. Does that word even apply, anymore?

Points of contact are up, no doubt. More things have our attention. But does more get done, or do more things go on our to do list as “undone”?

Don’t get me wrong; I love the new digital world order. I would not go back, I don’t think. I have fully embraced my new nationality. But, it might be nice to visit the fatherland. I guess that is what books are for.

So, I guess my point here is that we can get work done, maybe even more without our “devices” to keep up with and upgrade/follow/maintain.

I’m going to log off now and go out to mow the yard. My friend has already done the same with his.

If you need to reach me, I’ll have my cell phone, just looking for the next interconnected unproductive opportunity to visit. 🙂

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I bought a BMW. No, not recently. It was two and a half years ago. It has been an interesting “ride”, so to speak.

The problem comes in that I want another one; a better one. But I can’t. Allow me to explain.

This car has filled a need. Several needs, truth be told. Transportation? Check. Getting to say I owned a BMW in my lifetime? Check. Wanting the experience to be so much better, but being unwilling to make the investment needed to get there? Check, symbolic check, and double check.

At the time of this purchase, I had been sharing a car with my oldest for 6 months, and we needed another set of wheels. Desperately, or at least we thought so. Problem is, our family budget at the time did not need another set of wheels, desperately. Then I found it: the car of my dreams. A BMW, and a red one, to boot. Talk about your mid life crises in the making. 42 years of age, and getting a red European “sports car”. Hang on tight, folks.

My motives were pure, I believe. I had lived with a family in Bavaria for about a month after graduating from OC, and my “vati” kept telling how his little green 3 series was “a very good car”.

The price was right, too. $1,500. Wow. But yes, it needed some work. Just like the driver. But when Bing drove by, and the wash job on the car was fairly recent, it looked awesome. Only when you got up close, had to listen to it drive by, or had to ride in the car did it’s obvious flaws become painfully evident. It was built right to start with, but the years were showing, it needed some extra attention to repair, and it made a lot of noise: just like the driver? A co-worker told me a few months ago that it sounded like a motorcycle, and she thought it was cool. Appreciated comment, but not quite what I was going for, having others hear you coming long before you arrive.

Two and a half years, $1,800+ in repairs, and a lot of oil leaks later, and it is time to make a change.

And I want another BMW. But I’m most likely not going to buy one.

I’ve spent several hours this week shopping on line, and even test driving a BMW or two, but it just did not feel right. My brother in law and I looked at a good used one yesterday, and at a decent price, but it had the same nagging and painfully obvious design flaws that come with age and appear to fail on every one I’ve looked at. He even looked at the original sticker from the glove box and said “do you know how much this cost when it was new?”. I want to escape the realm of painfully obvious flaws. As the little Frau and I were talking last night about getting rid of the current ride, she said “that car has sort of become a part of your image; are you sure you don’t want another one?”. And that sealed the deal for me, at least at this point in life. Maybe I will drive another one, later in life, when it is a better fit, but not today.

When I woke up this morning, the following Jeremy Camp number was running thru my head, and it complemented my thinking from last night of how, in American society, our cars send off strong symbols (right or wrong) about who we are as individuals. And sometimes, change can be a good thing. Letting go of the past can be even better.

Gripping on so tight with

the security i have inside

Knowing what is right

Holding onto my pride

Letting Go

Of the things i hold so dear

Letting Go

Of all my pain and all my fears

Letting Go

Of the Things i hold so dear

Letting Go

Of all my pain and all my fears

I have been brought to a place

Where i want to give up everything

Where all i can do is seek your face

and my brokenness i will bring

Letting Go

Of the things i hold so dear

Letting Go

Of all my pain and all my fears

Letting Go

Of the Things i hold so dear

Letting Go

Of all my pain and all my fears

Holding on to the things i deem so strong

Holding on even though my faith has been built so long

Holding on to the things I deem so strong

Holding on to what I know

I’m letting go

So, Auf Wiedersehen, mein kleines rotes drei.

I have found what I believe to be the perfect replacement to my little red companion. It is silver (like my hair is becoming), it is utilitarian, it is built for “rugged driving” (as opposed to fast), it has space for me to bring others along for the ride, the price is about right, and it is in a better maintained state. Just like the driver?
Now I just have to convince the salesman of that on Monday. 🙂

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