Thursday, October 28, 2010

Another day older and deeper in debt

Many people I have spoken to and even some family members all are pretty convinced that after a certain age you don’t celebrate birthdays. This consensus would probably halt the normal people in the world to just get over themselves and continue on with their lives. Ultimately, you are missing out on the most self serving holiday in America, “The Birthday.” I grew up believing October 25th was the most magical day of the year, (and it was) because you have a team of people who make it their sole occupation to make your day completely conform to the things that make you happy and alive.

Initially, when I was a kid the mentality was very much, “all about the stuff!” Anymore, though, it has become, “all about the meaning.” Do I love stuff? Yes, absolutely I love stuff. I am an American and can find things on infomercials and gadget stores that I would use for all about 3 weeks. I have a phone that can do everything a computer can do, an iPod touch and other contraptions. I enjoy toys and devices as much as I did when I was an adolescent. Now though in my mid 20’s I would find far more joy in something that was made for me than something that was bought. In the midst of adulthood you find yourself caught up in the chaos of “life.” Bills, long hours, homework and socializing become your routine and define who you are as a person. It’s simple for my life to be completely positive and yet be going nowhere at the same time. Is my goal to be alive? Or are my goals to achieve smaller goals to work up to bigger ones? I’m certain there is beauty in the craftsmanship that is required to establish an individual and these moments of monotony are the glory that we are seeking but do not recognize. I also think that vitality is created in those silly moments like October 25th when I can, for no reason other than that date, plan a completely random trip to the west. Or I can ask my friends to oblige me in a celebratory happy hour to sit around and expect nothing but pleasant company and reminiscences of years past. Without these moments of simplistic self serving joy we are just spinning our wheels. If we have not the moments to reflect, what are we moving for?

This being said I have to confess that I have been concerned with my lifestyle. It appears completely self serving and I think that might be part of the issue as to why I have become so concerned with how I can justify writing a blog in the first place. There really is a limited time on this earth and no matter what you believe in spiritually. There is not some sort of Hocus Pocus that will allow me to revisit October 28, 2010 and fulfill any sort of civic responsibility to the poor or less fortunate. There will be no day in heaven where I can go back to volunteer at a nursing home and their certainly will not be a moment of clarity where I realize that 50 years before I died I could have donated my services to any sort of organization. The country is incredibly void of reality where the rich don’t comprehend what the less fortunate are going through and I can not possibly convey any sort of anthem for change or think I’m any better than those who are not offering their services if I’m just passing time until I retire and wait for death. This is a dangerous thing I’m doing by divulging my shame but I hope that I can find what I’m looking for by exposing the paralysis in my soul. I will have to change my perspective that I’m not losing time, but rather gaining a glimpse into the kingdom of heaven.

“So much has been given to me; I have not time to ponder over that which has been denied.”- Helen Keller-

Friday, October 15, 2010

The King and I

Finally came across some free time and I have actually been pretty anxious to post on here again. Despite just finishing a mid term paper I am still going to take more time out to write. I can’t imagine that I’m at any risk of being over academic in my daily life. The only problem is that I’m not focused but incredibly motivated for some reason. I needed some sort of catalyst that can make my brain, heart, and fingers do some sort of interconnected action that would be legible.

I’m currently at O’Hara high school for some observation hours to count towards my class project. I really had no preference at where I did my observation other than it had to be within 15 miles of my house. I’m already losing an opportunity to work and make money; I might as well save on gas. O’Hara is a private Catholic school where the students wear uniforms and the classrooms are small in number. I had heard from a fellow Rockhurst student who spoke with an administrator that 99% of students graduate. I’d like to verify this claim but I can’t currently at the moment. Based off of my observations thus far I’d probably agree. These kids are from all walks of life and counter the statistics on ethnicity in regards to performance in the classroom.

This is not why I’m motivated to write today. The students are reading The Crucible in class and are discussing the recent events that had occurred in the book. One specific example the class spoke about was when one of the characters, Mr. Proctor, was being investigated about why he doesn’t attend church anymore, he responded with that he didn’t like the pastor and his style of speaking. His main concern was the emphasis on hell fire and raising money. The teacher paused to ask the class if not attending church could be justified because you don’t like the pastor. Everyone in unison said “noooo.” And the teacher explained, “you go to church to worship God. So it shouldn’t matter who is giving the sermons.” I definitely differed in opinion. I had this very same conversation about a month ago with a friend of mine. Although very brief, we both explained our differences and while I agreed with his points I still overall could not justify going somewhere and receiving the same doctrine and expect positive results. When I began attending my church, about 5 years ago almost to the day, I was drawn in by the intelligent sermons and the questions posed. I remember my frustrations when associate pastors or guest speakers would step in and their sermons were watered down or more spiritual than intellectual. One woman would cry in every one of her sermons. This might make me seemed callous and someone might ask, “Why can’t a person become emotional when speaking?” or “what is a woman doing speaking in front of a church?!” The problem was that our church has three different gatherings and at each one she cried at the same point in every sermon doing the same thing (wailing at a cross she had placed in the middle of the pews.) That reminds me a lot of the televangelists of old. People who harp on emotions in order to attain the type of response the pastor plans out should be a crime. The motive should be authentic community. Every sermon should be a part of a movement. Each lesson taught should impact our humanity. King said, “The gospel at its best deals with the whole man, not only his soul but his body, not only his spiritual well-being, but his material well-being. Any religion that professes to be concerned about the souls of men and is not concerned about the slums that damn them, the economic conditions that strangle them and the social conditions that cripple them.” If you are only receiving a portion of the gospel your institution is a, “spiritually moribund religion awaiting burial.” King’s words, not mine.

All I really want is for people to discern their feelings upon going to a religious institution and challenge their own beliefs with consideration for the reality of the world they live in. Whatever god you believe in there should be more logic than whimsy. Hopefully there are as many statistics as there are tears and as much community as there is shame. Academia can assist the Kingdom of Heaven far more than ignorance. Questioning dogma (or anything) can produce a stronger allegiance to what you were questioning in the first place. And blindly following a leader is equally as destructive to your own identity as it is furthering the untested agenda of those in charge.

This is a quote I love and it just happens to be a relative of mine.
"The World is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion."
–Thomas Paine-

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Chapter 1

I’m metaphorically blowing the dust off the top of my online journal. I had about a year ago toyed with the idea of reopening the Pandora’s Box that is xanga, “ThenGodSaidLetThereBeNick” (it’s still there, check it out). Then I decided I should be somewhat relevant and check out the blog websites of those people who actually take this seriously. My main turn off in keeping a journal is that my journal is limited completely to what I’m able to experience. What I mean in writing this is that my life is completely engulfed in mundane and monotonous activities that bring with them no promise of excitement or vitality. My excitement is limited to men’s soccer league games and spending time with my girlfriend. Whereas my previous life as a childish 20 something was consumed with road trips, concerts and randomness. I know this is not the settling in of my “adult life” because this onslaught of work and monotony is surely going to pass once I attain that ultimate goal of a full time job with salary and benefits. And even though it is in the near future it is still a long way off.

Yet, at the same time there is life to be discovered in my 16 hour work days and excitement in my broad range of employment. There is still a soundtrack to my life and there are still struggles that are existential in nature that I encounter carrying a weed eater as opposed to hiking a mountain. This blog will grant me the opportunity and oblige me the ritual of exploring events in my day that could have easily snuck by me, had I not reflected on what occurred between my eyes opening and closing. More importantly it’s an opportunity to express my life in a more holistic manner as opposed to the ego-tastic twitter (which I have never and will never be a part of.) This is far more intimate and obviously exponentially more informative then 200 characters. My main burden is not only delving into my day(s), but putting a subtle charm which makes me sound intuitive but not arrogant. I’ve never needed an excuse to share my life, just a starting off point. If I’m going to be any good at this blogging I just have to take a leap and begin typing.

I promise to be transparent and conversational in my style of writing, which is the whole point right? There will be no apologies for the guilty pleasures I reveal and the events that occur because this is me and my life. Unless I have wronged anyone I will not beg forgiveness of anyone. My goals are to bring out of myself humility, purely an onlooker and not of a judge, but at the same time be critical of the experiences I have. Hopefully at some point I will use a digital camera or some other form of media that gives the reader a more tangible context to my life, but until then, eat my words. Lastly, I will be relevant about all spheres of life as opposed to just the things that I find interesting. I hope to read stories about all facets of life and engage in activities that stretch me as a person and a blogger. It truly will cause me to be a member of a community as opposed to an elitist onlooker who gives his two cents. Those are my goals and promises and this is my chance to stratify my life into daily/weekly nuggets that will hopefully help me make sense of, "what went wrong," 40 years down the line.

May we get what we want, may we get what we need, but may we never get what we deserve.