Saturday, August 30, 2008

The 2X4

Epiphanies are rarely so epiphanic, mostly because of the constant encroachment of self-awareness.
From a college communications course, I learned that, among countless other scales, people are graded on a self-monitoring curve. It refers to an individual’s self-awareness, or self-perception.
If you are a low self-monitor, most likely you tend to be intent of purpose, single-minded, your own person, as you are uncaring or at least unaware of the opinion or perception that others hold of you.
High self-monitors have highly sensitive antennae which are perpetually probing everyone’s concept of themselves, and unfortunately have a tendency, at least the ability, to readjust accordingly.
I was speechless upon hearing this, as a man might be at his first look in a mirror, and felt that on the scale, I probably wouldn’t even register, placing somewhere in the stratosphere above the charts.
Because I was constantly aware, or at least striving to be, of how I came across to other people.
This self-awareness carries over into my private thoughts, and disrupts them.
Additionally, a cynicism or wariness born of bad experience has taught me to analyze each and every emotion that broaches my threshold. So that, when an original thought seeks entry, it is subject to interrogation, and is brought in to the inner sanctum only after it has been robbed of the element of surprise. Thus, life-changing epiphanies are rare.
Also, I tend to accept self-critical analysis very quickly, so as to expedite the pain. You ever swallow a hot mouthful of food, taken too hastily, tossing it down your gullet to relieve your palette? It leaves no sense of the food in your mouth, no taste except that of scorched flesh. But you consumed it, after all, you tell yourself, and isn’t that the end of eating?
Doubtless, and yet the food wasn’t chewed properly, and it now sits at the bottom of your stomach in an indignant lump, refusing to be digested, and therefore not releasing its proper sustenance and causing instead a confused melee of indigestion as harried enzymes hurriedly surround it and are as thwarted in their duties as I am in search of the business end of a tangled fishing line.
I always get a little carried away with analogies.
In a state of aggravation, I scooped up the cat and headed to the garage to clip his perennial couch-shredders.
The cat, misnamed Adagio (def. - slow, leisurely) senses foul play in the offing and digs his claws into my torso.
Irritated with the cat’s frightened clairvoyance I stormed into the garage and dumped him on the floor.
And watched stubbornly as he frantically searched for a way out of the unfamiliar dungeon.
The errand became a lesson as I watched him desperately try to escape from a situation that he feared.
My irritation with a dumb animal I rationalized thusly. Did he not know I was simply trying to help him?
(Here I insert the reason for my aggravation: my ongoing struggle with diabetes, which at the moment wasn’t going as I wished.)
The obvious answer to the unspoken question immediately condemned me. Of course the cat didn’t know I was trying to help him. He was simply frightened of an unfamiliar and potentially dangerous situation.
In addition to suddenly feeling cruel, I was instantly stupefied by the parallel.
I opened the door into the house through which Adagio fled, and sat down on the step.
He fled only so far as behind the couch, where he stopped and sat, peering around the corner at me as if to ask, Why?. . . .and, What on earth was that all about?
The cat had a right to be terrified. He had no way of grasping the benefit of the uncomfortable situation.
I, however, unless I wished to plead my case as a dumb animal, was being distrustful and ungrateful.
And if God were me, he might feel the same irritation with the trepidation I feel before checking my blood sugar as the cat does before getting his nails clipped.
Thankfully, I am myself, Adagio is Adagio, and God is God, and He faithfully showed me again, yet in a new way, what I was, and who He was.
I felt spiritually childish, and petulant, and impulsive.
An animal has every call to be dumb, and faithless.
I do not.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Coming Home

Every so often, I go outside at night to look and see if the sky is still there.

So far, I've never been disappointed. . .

And if I look at it long enough, something settles in my mind.

A breakneck speed of life slows to a manageable pace and the blurred landscape begins to break apart and form distinct images.

Sometimes I think, as I hurtle down the interstate, that the appreciation and the fear the pioneers of America must have gained of the land must far exceed our attention deficit admiration as we pace off 100 miles in the amount of time it would've taken them to straggle their way over 5.

Which perspective is more realistic?

All I know is on the all-too-infrequent occasions when I escape from almost every lingering scrap of vocational and technological distraction, I come alive.

The rhythm of ocean waves lulls me into reality and the shelter of the woods spreads a reverential awe over my soul.
It gives me the feeling that I am looking down on every mad bustle of industry in the world from an eagle's perspective.
And it looks awfully small from up there.
By the way, both pictures are from a two-week vacation. So, yes, I have personally felt the rhythm and the awe and all that stuff.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

One of Those Things

Perhaps I share with others this tendency to seek solutions to chronic dilemmas.

It is innate; the characteristic of an easily distracted mortal is to focus on single issues as if they were the one obstacle to our uttermost contentment.

I talk a lot about work. I don't think it's particularly obsessive. They say to write what you know. We hourlies like to talk amongst ourselves about the intractable detachment of management. They are continually grappling with one unsolvable problem after another, in a monotonous cyclical effort to improve the bottom line. Indeed, this is business, and no less should be expected of management. But while most of us probably understand this, we also recognize that the service-oriented world we live in is anything but a perfect one, and problems will remain perpetually. Steps can be taken to effect the frequency and severity of those problems, but some knots will forever kink the direct and unrestrained flow of packages to the customer. Proof of the futility of this pursuit is the end result of all these managerial crusades. They worry it to death for two or three weeks, and, having realized little or no improvement in the situation, (despite their insistence that the problem is completely solvable) they will then inevitably move on to the next unsolvable.

And roll the rock up the hill again.

Listening to a health-oriented talk show, I am given another glimpse of our impatience.

Pardon the subject matter, it was prostate health.

The guest cast dispersions on all herbal supplemental efforts to correct any problems, maintaining that to gain any assistance from the consumption of saw palmetto, for instance, you would need something like twenty pounds a day. But, thanks be to goodness, he had invented this little pill to save the world's males from the ravages of an enlarged prostate.

The subject of frequent nighttime urination was broached (you'll remember I begged your pardon) and the host, the devil's advocate, pitched the guest a nice slow one right down the middle. "Now, isn't it normal to get up once or twice a night to go the restroom?"

"No, it is not. You should never have to go to the restroom in the middle of the night."


Health pipe dreams are numerous. Contrary to a gazillion different opinions, you are still an earthen vessel and subject to drying out regardless of your exercise, your herbs, your medication, or your attitude. But we will always seek permanent solutions to these ailments.

I think the spiritual application is fairly obvious.

There is no permanent solution to finding it difficult oftentimes to pray. There is no formula to follow to prevent you from ever being tempted to worry, no happy pills to take.

We are not allowed to procure a one-time solution to every problem. The grace of God is sufficient, it is not being debt-free, a burgeoning bank account, or accruing interest.

We go back to our Father, again and again, and avail ourselves of His strength, and try not to wonder what sort of grace we will need a week from now.

To attempt to exceed our humanity is, at it's root, a distrustfulness of God. He created us as such fallible mortals for a reason. I don't pretend to completely understand the reason (wouldn't that be the wicked irony) but I try to accept it.

And, I will forever, in this life, struggle to try to accept it. Complete, once-and-for-all acceptance of this would-

well, you get the point.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Another Kind of Test

Have you considered my servant "?"; a blameless and upright man.

There is none like him in all of the earth.

Yes, well . . .

It remains to be seen what he would be in a vacuum.

He needs you. He has nothing else. He clings to you in the absence of everything else.

Give him some worldly pleasure, even just a little innocent earthly success and he may no longer require your crutch.

. . . . .or, don't you trust him?

I know him.

Then, your omniscience, it would, or should, offer proof of your boasting to allow a few distractions to come his way.

As of now, you handicap all of my efforts of seduction with his miserable circumstances.

Let me give him what I can, and we shall see if he still needs, or, wants, you.

Let him be tested.