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My Reason for the Season

Most people know the rhyme “Jesus is the reason for the season.” Well I respect all beliefs but as I don’t consider myself a Christian I certainly have other reasons I honor the holidays.

In a sentence: It’s not about religion, as much as it is about what they holiday represents.

The major holidays to me (and I will miss a few as I provide examples) all have a good solid reason for existing. Easter is about renewal and clearing the way for new things in your life. July 4th is about patriotism, and pride in our country. Halloween is about putting on a mask and being someone different for a night. Thanksgiving is about reflection on the blessings you have been given in your life. And I will elaborate on Christmas in a minute. Now arguably, there are other reasons these holidays exist…religious, historical, etc, but to me the most important reason is it’s something we do as a culture, and it brings us together both in small groups as friends and family, and in a much larger sense as an entire nation or species (in the case of the non US specific holidays). How amazing is it that across the globe, nearly every small child is rapt with anticipation of Santa Claus leaving them gifts.

But now to Christmas, and why I feel it’s so much more than the birthday of Jesus. That is what Christians celebrate, but all the religious holidays around this time of year have a similar purpose. They bring people together. All the holidays do that, sure, but Christmas time in particular it is the singular reason for the season. The “point” is to spend it around people you love.

I had a friend tell me the other day that “Christmas is just another day” (okay paraphrased…still) and I was shocked. It’s never been “just another day” to me. It has always been something special, even after I found out Santa Claus was a lie (although I played along for a few more years until I got my Mom and Aunt to admit it). Christmas is the one day a year you show people how much you love them. You may do this by giving them presents, or just sending out mass text messages (Sorry guys, poor college kid…guess what you are all getting this year?), but you do it because on this day more than any other it should be done.

That is the purpose of Christmas.

At least, in my opinion.

I hope, dear reader, you aren’t alone for Christmas, but if you are I love you and Merry Christmas! If you aren’t alone, then…well I guess my message is the same.

Merry Christmas everyone!!

CG

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Resolved: To Find What’s Best In Life

I struggled quite a bit today with coming up with a resolution to uphold this year. I didn’t bother with one last year because everything I wanted was already coming true…I was graduating, it looked like I had a job that was going somewhere good, and all in all I was really just waiting to meet someone special and my life would be on track. I mean that’s what everyone wants right? Money in the bank, and someone to share your life with…so I went through this last year with no resolution…I felt no need to struggle to come up with some meaningless thing to dedicate myself to. I take oaths and promises very seriously and well according to the dictionary a resolution is: “a formal expression of opinion, will, or intent voted by an official body or assembled group.” In this case, I preside over my life, and so I am declaring my will.

Resolved: In 2012, I will seek out what is best in life.

 Mongol General: Conan! What is best in life?
Conan: To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women.
Mongol General: That is good! That is good.

Now, I don’t exactly agree with Conan, but there is something satisfying about his words. In this case, my enemies are not physical which makes them so much harder to face than Conan’s enemies.  Fear and self-doubt are much hard to face.

I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain

 

Recently certain events have made me realize a few things about myself:

  1. I put a lot of pressure on myself.
  2. I don’t strive to be the best version of myself
  3. Even though I hate to admit it, a lot of the pressure comes from how I think other people perceive me.
  4. Often I under sell my own abilities and potential.

For instance, I recently quit my job…after a week. And I liked my job. It wasn’t great or challenging, but the people I worked with were awesome. The job was…bearable other than that and I made good money. But after a week, I was physically ill for 2 days at the thought of going back. I was dry heaving every 5 to 10 minutes because I was so stressed. Finally I sat down and really examined myself and what was going on inside my head. I took the job because I felt pressured. I need to have a job without a doubt. But while there I felt trapped. And even though I know my family would understand, the thought of not being around for Christmas and disappointing people was killing me. And there is no blame to anyone in my family for this, it was all internal pressure I was applying without any conscious thought on my part. But it tore my stomach up enough to make me ill.

The second (and fourth really kind of ties in) comes from the other night. I was thinking about why I didn’t get the IT job at Boomtown…why I didn’t think to show my interviewer my Project+ certification card…why I found myself saying “Well I don’t know much about that, but I could learn.” And I’m not saying I should have lied, but if I learned ANYTHING from debate it was that there are better ways to say you don’t know something than just saying it straight out. And I thought about why I did that, and why I haven’t programmed any apps on my phone yet, or even gotten started. I thought about why I want to go back to school, which is really because I think it is too hard for me to learn what I need to learn on my own and school would make it easier. Which may be true, but I’m not sure it is worth the money I would have to pay. The fact is, I am good enough to learn what I need to learn. And when I was working towards being with someone all my doubts, fears, and insecurities just melted away and everything was easy. The world was my oyster, and there was nothing that would stand between me and my goals. But I find it impossible to summon that kind of faith in myself just for me. And I am honestly not sure why.

So my resolution is to fix these things about myself. Find the faith to believe I can do anything, independent of needing anyone else to believe in me. Find a way to accept the things I cannot change, and to not stress out over things I have to do to improve my life. It is still a pretty tall order, but it is better than other things I could promise that would be nearly impossible to guarantee or achieve.

And honestly, I am not really sure where to start with all of this…I am kind of hoping in the next few days the Big Guy Upstairs will help me out…spin me around and point me in the right direction at least.

Happy New Years, and may all this years wishes not become next years apologies

CG

Walking Down Memory Lane…

Finally. Sorry I have been gone for so long. I have been moving, and then I was having trouble posting because my internet at my new place doesn’t seem to like WordPress much. I don’t know what changed but luckily I can post again. So…here we go.

 

Had the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner for my friend’s wedding tonight. It was…well a wedding rehearsal. The dinner part was…okay. But really the part I enjoyed was afterwards hanging out at my bro’s house with everyone. It’s so great to see all of my old high school friends again and talk about how they are doing in their lives. We have always been closer than just friends…more like a family, and when we get back together it’s like we never left. I hope we always stay that way…it’s a great feeling. It is especially great to have a support group outside of your family. I always feel like my family HAS to love me and support me, but my friends chose me. Or…well…we chose each other.

And one of them, who I have never really gotten along with kind of rubbed me the wrong way. Of course, she has been doing it for years so I don’t know why that would have changed. First she scolded me like I was five years old for using language she didn’t approve of. Which I respect the sentiment, and usually try and avoid using foul language around people who are bothered by it, but she could have been nicer about it. She also asked me if I knew about this big life changing decision she is making, and when I told her I knew already she launched into talking about it, and how she was kind of sad because if she did it she would miss going to our ten year high school reunion and seeing people’s reactions. I told her not to feel bad, that I would probably miss our ten year reunion too because I might be going to school far away. And she just kind of brushed it off and turned away from me. Self-absorbed much?

Then on top of that, if she does go for it, I feel like she is making a bad decision. I don’t feel like she has done everything she can with what she has. She has an amazing degree, and I assume a passion for what she studied in college, but didn’t do anything with it afterwards…I am guessing because it was probably too hard. I get that…I’ve written here before that I feel like I have never really challenged myself, and that I have always taken the easy way out and done just enough to scrape by. It is kind of funny, because I remember a time when she was in school that she made me feel like an utter failure for dropping out…and yet now I feel like she has completely given up on whatever her dreams were and is settling for a life-decision that she can’t take back. At least I am still trying to better myself and realize my dreams…although the last couple of weeks have been kind of bumps in my road. Thinking about all this tonight also reminds me of the best advice I ever got from my Dad and that was “You don’t fail until you stop getting up and trying again.” You hear similar things all the time, but coming from a man who barely graduated high school, dropped out of college, and still managed to create an amazing life for himself and touch so many people that my Mom’s church was full to overflowing with people to pay their respects when he passed was absolutely inspiring.

I just wish I was close enough to this girl to actually sit her down and say some of this and have it get across. But the truth is ever since I had a crush on her in high school we have never been close…maybe she thinks I still feel that way, I don’t know. I hate to see anyone in my adopted family, even someone who ruffles my fur more often than not, making such a permanent decision and not doing it for the right reasons.

But hey, maybe I’m wrong and she does have all the right reasons. Only God knows if she does.

CG

 

COMING SOON: Review of Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim….once all the wedding craziness dies down.

Miles To Go Before I Sleep…

Okay, so I’ve been bad about keeping up with this…just haven’t had much to talk about. Although soon Skyrim will be out and I will be salivating over it and will probably post a lot about how awesome it is and how much I want to play it. 😛

Until then, well I just post when I have something I want to say…and today I have a lot.

So first, let’s start with back in high school I was a part of this amazing group of people called Venture Crew 203. Now the Venture Crews started out as a special patrol that was an adjunct of the Boy Scout troop but over the years they let us break away and become an independent entity. We were also co-ed…boys and girls could join with impunity. And I actually didn’t find out until we went to a Scout-O-Rama as a crew that all the other crews in our area didn’t do nearly the exciting and cool stuff we did. We did tons of backpacking and rock climbing/rappelling, and I learned quite a few lessons from these experiences that apply to me even today.

However, the most important thing I feel like I learned from these experiences and mostly backpacking was that you always push yourself to the limits…and then a little farther. And every time I did I always found that my limit wasn’t ever where I thought it was. It was way beyond that, and even then I could push myself farther until I was ready to collapse. As soft indoor dwelling people, our minds rebel at the thought of walking 10 miles in a day, and then add on 30 to 50 pounds on to your back to make this feat seem impossible. But it can be done, quite easily once you remove the mental blocks and just believe in yourself. The backpackers call this “hitting the wall”. You get to this point where you feel like you can’t go on any more, and then you get a second wind. It’s like something clicks in your head and your brain goes “Oh, this isn’t so bad, I can keep going!” Now obviously, eventually, you will reach the end of your endurance…but that end is much, much further than most people think. And even knowing this and having experienced it before it’s hard to go through it again and again. Every trail is a new challenge.

So, why am I talking about this? Because last night I was thinking, as I often do, about my life and where I stand. And I quickly realized something. I have never reached my limit academically or mentally. I’ve never truly pushed myself and found the end. I’ve gotten discouraged and stopped, I’ve let myself be distracted by other things, I’ve let myself be lazy and do just enough to scrape by. And every time I have applied myself, everything is too easy and I wonder why I am trying so hard to accomplish something so small. As a result, I have never even gotten close enough to the “wall” to give up.

But also, I feel like I don’t have the motivation and focus on my own to study and really push myself. I know…weak right? But even backpacking I had my Dad and the other leaders pushing me so I could get there. And that’s what I need…a learning environment where the teachers will push me to be my best. BPCC was great for that…I loved the teachers and all of them pushed me and did their best to challenge me and let me push myself without moving too fast for the other people. And I could tell by the end that my advisor knew me too well because she said “Are you sure you are going to be challenged enough by these classes? We both know you struggle when you are bored.”

So, this is all leading up to…I want to go back to school. And it would be AWESOME if I could go some place like Full Sail and study game development, or game design. But truthfully that is just kind of a pipe dream. I don’t have the money and I don’t know how I would get the financial aid without having to take massive, massive student loans out…and my credit is terrible (well more non-existent).

But it bothers me how easily my Mom dismissed it. I mentioned going back to school to her and she tried to talk me out of it and said I need to try and get a job and just get some money coming in. And I understand…I am 26, I am getting older every day…I can’t go on living on my family’s mercy. But I went back to BPCC in the first place to get a stupid piece of paper so I could say I have a degree. Obviously that isn’t everything since it has been almost 6 months and I haven’t found a job yet. And there is a part of me that HUNGERS for knowledge, and a need to push myself as far as I can go for once and reach that limit and say “Enough…this is it…I’ve found the end.”  To not have her support, hurts me a lot. She’s always supported me…and now that I want to go back to school and try and realize my potential her discouragement (especially considering my whole family pushed me into going into college right out of high school when I wasn’t sure I was ready) is well…discouraging.

But then, part of me realizes I can’t settle. After seeing all those inspiring quotes by Steve Jobs after he passed away, and rewatching his commencement speech to Stanford in 2005 more than ever I am resolved to do what I love. I have to do this, I have to realize my potential and be everything I can be. Otherwise, I am failing myself and everyone else by being less than what I could be.

Well, thanks for reading, although this was more a “I need to get this out before I scream” kind of post. I will try and get back on the weekly gaming posts and try and find stuff to talk about more often.

CG

Laboring hard this weekend…

So my “weekend” started early…I thought we were leaving Friday morning early, but apparently we weren’t scheduled to leave until early Saturday morning. So I packed everything up and headed to my Mom’s so we could leave at 3 in the morning.

My bro, David came by and we talked for a couple of hours about how our lives were going, and other things that kind of made me more convinced of a few things. I know when I went to BPCC that I was where I was supposed to be. It felt like the right place and the right time. But now, I feel like every time I turn around doors are slamming in my face, and no matter which way I run a wall snaps up to block my way. I am getting a little frantic because I need so badly to find a job, preferably one here in town…but those doors keep slamming shut. They say “when one door closes another one opens” and if true it means there’s an entire hallway somewhere just waiting for me. And the longer this takes (it’s been nearly 3 months at this point) I just feel more and more lost. And for someone who is used to at least having trail markers being lost is not a good feeling.

That and…I have been feeling more and more removed from my friends lately. One pair of friends is getting married in two months, and another just announced their engagement. Now, this is not an angsty “Oh I am SO ALONE!” thing, and it’s not like they make me feel unwelcome. And I certainly don’t mind being single at this point (and I think it bothers Stephanie more than it bothers me) so that isn’t it either. Just somewhere deep down inside me it’s like there is this little voice whispering “You shouldn’t be here anymore, there isn’t anything holding you now. There’s nothing left for you here.” Which of course makes me feel like I should be looking farther afield, but so far no luck there either. Sometimes I wish I was as lucky as Moses and God would just come down and speak to me in a burning bush. *looks up at the heavens* Just kidding, Big Guy, I would just think I am nuts.

Anyway, it was really good to talk to David for a long time…he oddly enough is one of the few of my friends that I feel can really understand where I am right now, although he has moved on in his own way as well. It’s great to see him doing so well and so…at peace after watching him struggle for years and years trying to find his place. Now that he has found his it gives me hope that I will find my way again.

Anyway, after talking with him until about midnight, I got up at 3 am to drive up to Oklahoma for a weekend of food, soda, barns (Okay just one, and it was round), and family. It was good and made me think of all the times I took trips with them when I was younger. Tuesday I get to start the grind again and try and find a job, but tomorrow I still have one more day to relax.

Well, I hope you enjoyed and feel welcome to check out my other posts.

CG

Today’s Musings, Part 2

Part two of today’s musings, breaking down Kahlil Gibran’s passage about Pain.

Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.
Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain.
And could you keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of your life, your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy;
And you would accept the seasons of your heart, even as you have always accepted the seasons that pass over your fields.
And you would watch with serenity through the winters of your grief.

This first part, in contemplation, is talking about how pain brings understanding, acceptance, and joy. Without pain, we would never grow, learn, or move forward. The last part of this passage strikes me hard even as I read it now…if we could merely remember that every day is a miracle we would accept the pain that comes from life because we know that joy must come at some point. But it is the most difficult thing to “watch with serenity through the winters of your grief”.

Much of your pain is self-chosen.
It is the bitter potion by which the physician within you heals your sick self.
Therefore trust the physician, and drink his remedy in silence and tranquillity:
For his hand, though heavy and hard, is guided by the tender hand of the Unseen,
And the cup he brings, though it burn your lips, has been fashioned of the clay which the Potter has moistened with His own sacred tears.

This second passage is equally powerful. I know I personally inflict a lot of pain and suffering on myself. I over think things, I let my emotions get away from me, and I wear my heart on my sleeve. And yet, I have learned a lot from every heartache. I know the difference between love and…other things. I draw a hard line in the sand around my heart now and only let certain people close, and still no one so close that they could casually hurt me in some way. Because that has happened, where I was hurt because some silly girl paid me attention and was being friendly and I thought it was more. And then there is life, which knocks us around and throws us down. But our physician is always ready to help us heal again. Sometimes it is slow, and sometimes wounds never quite heal completely…but the good doc always gets you on your feet again.

Well, thank you for reading. These are of course, merely my thoughts and opinions and you are welcome to disagree. If you have anything you would like to share with me feel free to post here or on Today’s Musings, Part 1

Today’s musings, Part 1

Well as this is my first post, I am going to dive right in to what I was thinking about today and why I wanted to create a blog in the first place. The last “official” blog I had (not counting the random angst filled posts on myspace) was when I was going through a very rough time. Then when my dad passed away a few years ago I started writing in a personal journal on my hard drive…which I have since lost access to. But since I find writing to be a very cathartic experience I decided to create this place on the web and see how it goes.

So now that is all out of the way, the rest of the post today is going to be a bit…well…depressing I guess. It’s just that time of year for me since it is around the anniversary of my dad’s death. However, I would like to share something with you all that helped me a lot when I was going through the grieving process and my thoughts on each part of it.

It is two separate passages from Kahlil Gibran’s the Prophet, and as I go I will break them down.

On Death
 Kahlil Gibran

You would know the secret of death.
But how shall you find it unless you seek it in the heart of life?
The owl whose night-bound eyes are blind unto the day cannot unveil the mystery of light.
If you would indeed behold the spirit of death, open your heart wide unto the body of life.
For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one.

Isn’t the secret of death something we all look for? Not just people who are grieving a lost loved one but everyone in their heart fears death to some extent. And yet he says the secret of death is found in the heart of life, and that you cannot have good without bad, light without darkness, or life without death. And the imagery of the river and sea make me think of our life’s path and then the final destination. I once had a philosophical discussion where I tried to use the analogy of God as the ocean to explain how we are connected to Him. To see echoes of this same wisdom here is certainly interesting…and is that not what happens after death? We are absorbed into the infinite. I think everyone must believe that whether atheist or theist.

In the depth of your hopes and desires lies your silent knowledge of the beyond;
And like seeds dreaming beneath the snow your heart dreams of spring.
Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity.
Your fear of death is but the trembling of the shepherd when he stands before the king whose hand is to be laid upon him in honour.
Is the shepherd not joyful beneath his trembling, that he shall wear the mark of the king?
Yet is he not more mindful of his trembling?

Here he points out that even our fear shows we desire what is beyond this life. We are so concentrated on our fear that we cannot see beyond it when in reality what lies beyond is glorious. Are we not often nervous and fearful in our lives and yet in the moment of decision when you are forced into the situation in which you are nervous you find yourself imbued with a terrible clarity of vision and purpose if your will is strong enough to overcome your fear. I think facing death is much the same, truly facing it, and knowing when your end is coming. It seems like as the end approaches it is the people who will go on living that are trembling and fearful and the person who is dying is calm and collected.

For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun?
And what is it to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?

Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing.
And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.
And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.

And this final part is a simple statement that most Christians, and indeed most theists believe: Death is only the beginning.

Since this post is very long see Today’s Musings Part 2 for the rest.