There have been times in my life when I have gotten into arguments. No, really, I have. I know you find it hard to believe, but it is true. Nine times out of ten (or maybe eight, at least seven, I know) times it is because of miscommunication. More specifically on the definition of a certain word or phrase that I thought was a “given” meant something different to somebody else. I recall one time my wife and I got in a serious disagreement over the Bible. She said it was an ‘Instruction Manual’, and I corrected her (yep, mistake no.1) and said it was a ‘Guide Line’. When someone says ‘Instruction Manual’ I think of “place screw 15786509 into hole 344476349 and tighten until snug” or some such. You see it names the screw and the hole and tells you what to do with them. A Guide Line is more of “a good way to take connect these two boards with a screw. You may also use a nail or some twine, but the screw is the best way.” Do you see the difference there? It may only be a subtle difference, but there it is. It was enough that the Devil could stick his foot in the door and cause stress and dissention in the ranks. We argued over that particular subject for quite some time, and I had no idea why until much later. We were both saying the same thing, but using different words to accomplish it. The Bible tells you how to handle situations without getting bogged down with the specifics (like names of screws and pegs and what-nots). Now-a-days, with the advent of texting and social media we have to be extremely careful of how we phrase things, lest we give the enemy an opening. We as partakers in social media need to also keep this in mind and not take offense at the first perceived insult. It is really hard to apply the right ‘tone’ to some messages, and sarcasm often doesn’t translate well either (imagine that!) So when you read something you may find offensive, before you fly off the handle and start a three page rant about someone, and then unfriend them, you might stop a moment and try to figure out if what they ‘said’ was actually what they ‘meant’. (And to finish the story about me and my wife arguing, all was well as soon as I admitted I was wrong. There see how easy that was?)
There is a secret that most anthropologists use in their study of different customs and cultures. That secret is the fact that regardless of how much you try to lessen the impact of your presence on your environment, you still change things just by being there. People will react differently around you. Animals will behave different than they normally would because you are there. Even if you try to hide your presence you are still affecting things around you. Wind has to change course because you are there displacing air. Even light reflects differently because you are there. You can’t change that. What you CAN change is HOW you affect things. You have two options. You can either make a positive or a negative impact. Just by keeping a positive attitude or making an improvement in the surroundings generate waves of the same type of energy all around you. Being negative will do the same, just with the opposite effect. Now some people do not care how their actions change their surroundings, because they make their changes and move on, never having to deal with the results. Some people do not realize they are changing things, and some wear blinders to how much change they cause (and a lot of times it does no good to try to explain it). I figure if I am going to make an impact on my surroundings, I want it to be a positive one. As long as we do that, life can get better for everyone. This is what Jesus was teaching with the Golden Rule. Do unto others as you would have done unto you. When you do this, you improve not only your life, but everyone and everything around you. So why not make a positive impact?
I don’t understand the ‘competitive’ nature of people. I have never been very competitive minded. I know that sounds odd coming from someone born and raised in the South, where everyone takes their team spirit to the extremes, but it is true none-the-less. Why? For the simple fact that ‘competitiveness’ is just another way of saying you are trying to be better than someone else, and I have never had that goal in mind. I am not trying to be better than anyone. I want very much to see my friends and family succeed in all of their endeavors (adding the qualifier that they are good and moral endeavors that will help them to better themselves). So when I hear the whispers (shouts in Alabama) of my team is better than yours or other such chants, my eyes usually glaze over and I lose interest very quickly. I have the same problem with video games that only offer deathmatch in the multiplayer side. I really don’t see the enjoyment of pounding your friend over and over again until it causes them to get mad. Where is the fun in that? I enjoy working together with people to solve problems and overcome situations for the betterment of ourselves, but I have found out over the years that I am kind of unique in my mindset, and that most people do not think that way. The way I see it, I have my accomplishments and you have yours. I do not judge my success by comparing the two. I am not writing this to bash anyone, just pondering things at my keyboard. Perhaps competitiveness is a good thing for some people because it motivates them to better themselves, but I choose to find motivation elsewhere.
I remember back when I was growing up how I used to sing with the radio a lot. For a long time I never realized I had a decent singing voice. I would sing while I was driving, and while I was working, but I was usually by myself when I did it. Well, by myself or with people who would rather take a beating than give someone a compliment. Wouldn’t want to give them the big head now would we? Anyway, it was a long time before I realized it. Then I had to sing with a bunch of my classmates for Class Night. I remember the song was one of Journey’s, and I knew it pretty well. I used to sing along with it every time it came on. So while we were at rehearsal, I noticed one of my classmates staring at me with her mouth hanging open. It took me some time after the rehearsal was over before I realized why. Apparently I had been singing loud enough she could separate my voice from the others and she was amazed by what she heard. My point in relaying this story isn’t to brag, but to encourage. You see I didn’t know I could sing at the time and nobody told me. If you see someone doing something amazing, tell them about it. Who knows, they may not realize it either, and you just might make someone’s day.
Some days when I am thinking about what to write for my blog my mind goes blank, and I have to sit and contemplate matters for a bit. That was what happened today. And it just so happens that I sat there long enough for my computer to think I had left. It displayed a message, “Starting Power Save Mode”, and the screen went dark. I thought to myself “that’s a lot like how we as humans react.” When we aren’t being pushed or motivated by someone else we drop into “Power Save Mode.” Why is that do you think? Sure it’s easy to sit around and do nothing, or to even vegge out watching television. But what are we accomplishing when we do this? . In order to reach a goal you have to keep pushing toward it, and it’s a lot easier to keep a stone rolling than it is to start it back up. A little enjoyment is fine, but when it becomes part of your daily routine then perhaps it’s time to shake things up a little bit. Just like you have to touch the keyboard or ‘shake’ the mouse to wake your computer up out of Power Save Mode. After all, what are you saving it for?
I heard a story once about a monkey jar trap. The basic gist of the story was that a jar was secured to the ground with a banana or some other bait inside. The mouth of the jar was just big enough for a monkey to put his hand in. When the monkey puts his hand in the jar, grasping the bait he finds that he cannot get his hand back out of the jar. All he has to do is let go of the bait and his hand would be free, but the monkey usually lacks the sense to do that and remains trapped. Sometimes I think I’m that monkey, holding onto something so hard that it keeps me trapped, unable to move forward, and unable to enjoy the ‘treasure’ that I am holding onto. Things come an go in this life. This physical realm has a lot of desirable ‘bait’ for you, but if you can’t let it go, you won’t be able to enjoy having it either. It remains stuck in the jar, held in your hand, but out of your reach. Sometimes it’s better just to let go. It’s not always the easiest thing to do, but sometimes it’s the best thing you can do.
I have a bad tendency to look to far ahead. I try to plan things out, and always have contingencies in place in case something unexpected happens (which usually does). And when it does it totally undermines my positive attitude. When those things happen I have to just pick myself up, brush myself off and say ‘this too shall pass.’ Which helps a little, but it’s not the ‘insta-fix’ I wish I had. Usually the only way to recover from it is to endure it and focus on damage control. Try to lessen the backlash of events that are caused by the crash. I find myself in that situation these last couple of weeks, and it is very hard to find something positive and uplifting to post about when you’re at battle stations trying just to maintain. My wife, ever the optimist doesn’t understand the fugue state I find myself in, and I’m glad she doesn’t. I actually hope she never does. She is one of my anchors that helps bring me through those storms, and I thank God for placing her in my life. Her optimism may rub me the wrong way sometimes, but it also keeps the darkness from taking me back over. So this week I’m just going to shine the spotlight on her for a bit. Thank you for helping me keep swimming, my love.