This is the same room, yet

This is the same room, yet
every thing looks different
when it’s view’d through weary
eyes; It’s familiar and
peculiar to me now.

This unreality,
known to me only be
cause this instance is sim
ply one of many. Tasks
tessellate across my
desk, underneath my fogs.

Caffeine affords no rest
ing place, coughs in my chest
and a flem in my throat
will not let me forget this.
I had all the sleep, but
none of the dreams were mine.

Crappy Cubicle Culture

Crappy cubicle culture; whoever first sought
to divide a room into square parts
thinking this would make more productive thoughts,
they surely should be shot.

The privacy afforded by a tall, cold wall
they limit office society, and all in all,
How shall I know someone I cannot see?

However shall I think
outside the proverbial box
when I am “encouraged” (required)
to remain? My mind is behind locks
and I am held as a prisoner on the docks
. . . at least until five o’clock

Crappy cubicle culture; whoever first sought
to divide a room into square parts
. . . no, I choose instead to depart.

More Old Poetry

“Let’s fly a kite.
I’ve always wanted to,
But I’ve always been afraid
That the cold might bite.”

“Let’s snuggle up,” you say,
“Inside our coats,
Cozy warm so we
Can fly a kite today.”

Hand in hand
We leave our place
Traveling to the nearest
Wide open land

We finally find a place
And throw the kite in the air
The wind catches it quickly
And after it, we chase

Around the park, we try
To stop the wind
That thief, from
Carrying it away into the sky

Finally, you nab it
And winded from
All the running
We stop for a bit

I wrap my arms
Around your waist
And gently kiss
The side of your face

You let out a girlish giggle
And the kite is high
The wind pulls the kite
Even closer to the sky

I look you in the eye
They sparkle when you smile
And they captivate me
Even as our kite flies

Slowly
You turn to
Face me,
Noses touching

And I whisper so quietly
That the wind, that thief
Almost steals the
Sound from me

“I love you”

You giggle again
In your girlish way,
“I love you too”
You say

“Let it go,” I say
And the wind,
The thief,
Steals our kite away

You turn your body,
Wrap your arms
Around my neck
And face me

I take my hand
And with it place
It gently, resting
On your face

Our eyes closed
I pull you into it
And you lean in
And we kiss

And you slip your hand
Slyly into mine
And we walk back home
Missing one kite.

Why I’m afraid to be called a “Writer”

I thought about never publishing this. Then I thought I’d just publish it. I didn’t want to publish it at first because I didn’t want to insult anyone on WordPress. However, having read it again and edited it, I realize that I don’t call out any one individual or blog in particular. Rather. I stay pretty general. I’m afraid to be called a writer for a very simple reason. On WordPress in particular, but also in my own personal life, there’s a common thread that I see among writers that disturbs me. 
 
They’re all dorks.
 

P.S. Trains don’t come here anymore just in case you didn’t put that simile together.

Very nearly all the writers I encounter online or in person are dorks! They’re moms living at home, surfing the web and writing silly stories while their husbands work. They’re middle aged men who, clad in brown sweater vest, pleated slacks, mustache, giant glasses, and balding scalp, sit pensively at a desk by a window, fresh paper, expensive pen, blank for days. They wait for inspiration to come and find them the way a boy waits for a train to pull into an abandoned station.
 
 
Dorks. 
 

For instance, just look at Paul McCartney here! Has there ever been anyone cooler than Paul McCartney? No, there hasn’t.

It’s so frustrating to me! They have the opportunity to do something so cool, so original, yet none of that creativity, originality, or coolness permeates the rest of their lives! Not the way that it does for musicians or artists. These writers look like the last time they were fashionable was 1973. Their pictures stand, avatars on their blogs, as statuesque obelisks to commemorate a bygone era where sweatshirts with obviously homemade embroidery of a purple dragon was cool or even acceptable in public. This, an era so long ago, I have never known it. They whisper from the wardrobes of yesteryear of a desire to halt the passage of time and change the laws of what is considered “cool.”
 
 
Yet the divine judge of Cool and the laws he has designed do not change as with our winds on our oceans! Others cannot govern, change, or add a measure to what has been determined. To think so is a naive notion reserved for those who are timelessly and tirelessly lame. It is it not as though they know, yet care not. Their “look” does not carry the nonchalant breed of cool that accompanies such a fashion of throwing caution and rules to the wind. They are not James Dean. They are simply lame, unfashionable dorks. 
 
And so, even as I write, a fear grips me: am I doomed to follow in their footsteps and become myself, timelessly lame? I pride myself on being fashionable and cool, dapper even. If I continue to write, even if I never do it as a career, shall I also be over taken by the riptide of lame and carried into the ocean of uncool? Will my writing freeze my sense of what is fashionable in 2014 forevermore?
 
And yet, even as I am afraid, the sartorial insights of Albert Camus, Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway, and this guy on the right give me peace for my fears. They prove to me that it is possible to be both cool and a writer. I’ve never heard of this guy on the right, but apparently he was a writer. He also looks quite dapper. His name is Dashiell Hammet. Each of these writers was considered rightly fashionable and cool in their time. If I am to continue in writing and to eventually become a writer, I must hold on to these great paragons of dapper and cool in the writing world. I shall look to them for hope. 

Re: Work? Optional!

Work? Optional!

If money were out of the equation, would you still work? If yes, why, and how much? If not, what would you do with your free time?

– from The Daily Post

If I didn’t have to worry about an income, would I continue to work? Yeah, I would, but I would do the work I want to do rather than the work I have to do. I’ve been on a journey to find work I truly love for a while now. I’m not there yet, but I think I’m on the right path. I’ve recently enrolled in graduate school to get a Master’s of Arts in Christian Counseling. The truth is, while I work a “stop gap” sort of job now, if I didn’t have to, I still would. I would still choose to work somewhere. It would just look different. I could make my hobbies my work. I could make developing my disc golf putt or my writing style my work. Music could become my work. Whatever it may be, I would work. I would always feel the pull to do something constructive and creative.

I believe that work is fundamentally good and it can even be great when we find work that actually suits our unique gifts, talents and skills. I believe that as we work in the fields and opportunities for which we were designed, we make the world better and simultaneously make ourselves better. I believe that good work makes a better world and a greater person. As a result, I may be one of those rare people who chooses never to “retire.” That is to say, I may stop having a 9-5 or whatever it may be to generate income, but I will find work I love and when I do, I’ll continue to do that until I die.

See, for me, it’s not about the income, it’s about the craft. It’s about finally achieving mastery over something. For most of my life, I’ve felt talented and eclectic, but I’ve also felt like a jack of all trades, master of none sort of guy. I feel like possess talent, but little skill and discipline. As a result, I see great value in eventually mastering a craft, any craft, every craft, but most importantly my chosen craft, whatever that may be. Counseling immediately and who knows what else beyond that. I want to be a life-learner. I want to continue to learn and master new things. I love learning how to do new things. Although it’s difficult at the time, I love learning that I simply can’t do something. That way I can finally know and eliminate that at which I simply am not good. This attitude is going to lend me a tendency to try new things forever, to continuing learning forever, and to continue working forever. In the same way I want to be a life-learner, I want to be a life-worker.

My Pleasant Inns

A blog I read mentioned the concept of a “pleasant inn” in his post today. I’ve linked to the blog at the bottom of this post. The concept of the pleasant inn comes from C.S. Lewis’s book The Problem of Pain. I’ve placed an excerpt below:

“The settled happiness and security which we all desire, God withholds from us by the very nature of the world: but joy, pleasure, and merriment He has scattered broadcast.  We are never safe, but we have plenty of fun, and some ecstasy.  It is not hard to see why.  The security we crave would teach us to rest our hearts in this world and oppose an obstacle to our return to God: a few moments of happy love, a landscape, a symphony, a merry meeting with friends, a bathe or a football match, have no such tendency.  Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns, but will not encourage us to mistake them for home.”

The idea is simple. If you’re a Christian, you’re not home yet. Your home is not in this world. Rather, you are a sojourner, a traveler on your way home, but you’re not there yet. As Jon Foreman once sang, “This world is where I breathe, but let it never be called home.” Nevertheless, even though we are yet travelling and this side of eternity is ultimately unsatisfying, God has seen fit to supply us with some refreshment. These are the pleasantries we enjoy while we are yet on our way home. As C.S. Lewis puts it, these are the pleasant inns in which we stay briefly and do not reside eternally.

So I thought to myself, what are my pleasant inns? What are the things that refresh me?

Disc golf has long been a favorite hobby of mine. A mentor introduced me to it in college, gave me a few discs, and from there I never looked back. It’s a refreshing hobby to me for three main reasons. One, it’s outdoors and I love being outdoors, especially in the summers. Two, it’s social. Bring along a friend or two and, no matter the difference in skill, you’ll have fun. Third and finally, it’s absolutely free. Other than a small investment initially to get some discs, there are no course fees. Even if you don’t have the capital to purchase a few discs, you’ll be fine. Chances are you’ve been introduced to disc golf by someone who already has plenty of discs to borrow, so no worries.

Something else that refreshes me is coffee. Think a piping hot cup of french pressed coffee sitting next to a pastry like a lemon pound cake or a cinnamon roll. I like to have my journal and Bible with me and I like to pray. This is a favorite hobby of mine throughout the year, but especially in the winter. When colder temperatures draw the disc golf season to a close and condemn me to stay indoors for extended periods of time, my favorite place is a quiet cafe. It’s probably one in the middle of nowhere that you’ve never heard of. I’m probably drinking a coffee whose name you can’t pronounce and identifying flavors and notes you’d never associate with coffee. I joke because, I confess, as much as I enjoy drinking and tasting coffee, I’m not as much of a snob as I let on. I know some real snobs and I’m not quite as bad as they are. I just think it’s fun to sip coffee with a friend and let our coffee stimulate our conversation.

While neither of these make me feel at home, they relax and refresh me. If I’m honest, I’m addicted to doubt and to legalism. Those two things are to what my mind naturally defaults. I doubt that God is exists or that He really loves me. I try to earn the gift that has been freely given to me. Both coffee and disc golf serve to remind me that God is fundamentally good even when I don’t feel like it. He is for me. While I am not yet home, these things comfort and refresh me for the journey.

Robert McKenzie’s blog: http://faithandamericanhistory.wordpress.com/

Stop pouring ice on your head

I’m tired of watching people pour ice on their heads on Facebook. By the way, if I’m challenged, I’m just not going to do it. Maybe the idea behind this ice bucket challenge was to get people such as myself to wonder why people are doing it and then discover ALS, but on the whole, I question it’s effectiveness.

If you’re utterly lost, here’s how the ice bucket challenge works in a nutshell:

  1. You get challenged. You have 24 hours to either pour ice on your head or donate $100 to ALS research. Unsurprisingly, most people are choosing the former.
  2. You shoot a video of yourself pouring a bucket of ice over your head. In the video, you challenge several other friends in the same way. Maybe you tell people about ALS or why you’re pouring a bucket of ice on your head, but if you’re like most people, you don’t.
  3. Your friends now have 24 hours to either pour ice on their heads or donate $100 to ALS research.

Got it? Good. So the purpose of the ice bucket challenge is to raise awareness and financial support for ALS. At least some part of that seems to be working. In general, it would appear that more people know what ALS is . . . or at least they know that the acronym refers to a disease some people want to research and that they need money to do it. If you’re like me, all you know is that ALS is the cause to which I have to give $100 if I don’t pour ice on my head. It would also seem that some amount of money has been raised as a result of this. Don’t get me wrong. I’m all about raising money for a worthy cause and raising awareness about a horrible disease. Nevertheless, I think there are far better media to choose than a viral video campaign that’s utterly unrelated to the cause. I don’t question that it’s generated some money. I just think it could be doing it better. With that caveat, here are my small problems with the Ice Bucket Challenge.

It doesn’t raise awareness

The Ice Bucket Challenge has failed to raise awareness for what ALS actually is. It has only put that acronym into the vernacular of the social media savvy. Unless an individual chooses to share about why they are doing the challenge in their video, which in my experience has yet to happen, no viewer is no wiser. They simply get a funny video of their friend doing something dumb in the name of ALS, whatever that is. No one seems to know, for instance, that ALS is a neurodegenerative disease that leads to muscle weakness, muscle atrophy, paralysis, and eventually death in its victims. No one seems to know that there is currently no cure and no way of reversing the diseases effects on the body. Hence the need for research. So, for what does the Ice Bucket Challenge raise awareness? It looks more like a bunch of people doing something stupid than rallying together to beat a disease.

It creates a coercive false dichotomy

The Ice Bucket Challenge creates a false dichotomy in which the challegee (I think I just invented a word) is forced to choose between paying $100 or dumping a bucket of ice on their head. They are coerced into “donating,” but I personally would not consider such coercion a valid means of taking “donations.” They feel forced, not given. But that’s just the problem: it’s not real. Those two options aren’t real. In truth there are a myriad of other options. I could, for instance, do both. I could do neither. I could even give more than $100. The only thing I cannot do because of this false dichotomy is choose to support the cause. By it’s nature, the Ice Bucket Challenge prevents me from feeling like I am really choosing to support ALS research. Rather, it’s depicted as a lesser of two evils. However, the alternative is also so simple that more people are choosing to simply dump ice on their heads to get “off the hook” so they will no longer be compelled to “donate”

It’s saturating my news feed

Seriously. I’m tired of seeing it. Watching people pour ice on their heads is only funny a time or two. If you really want to help ALS patients and the researchers working to cure this disease, here’s a link you’ll find useful: Donate

If you want to pour ice on head, then just do it and stop telling me about it.