the pursuit
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Being Held by the Hands of Time

For some, the passing of another year is like a choke hold threatening the emotional stability that one works so hard to maintain day in, day out, month after month after month. A stability built on a precarious foundation of prescription drugs and old-school alcohol; on a foundation of television, film, and music; of obsessive longings for material things such as i-phones, clothes, a car, the perfect face, the ultimate body.

But then a new year looms over the dying shadow of the current one and all the things you had hoped to accomplish, hoped to have achieved, rear up like a battalion of monsters armed to the teeth with spotlights and guilt-revealing mirrors. Longing to fight back, frustration-fueled determination wells up inside of you. Daily journals are bought. Gym memberships are signed up for. And a long list of New Year's goals and resolutions is compiled with great care, if not delusion.

Unless, of course, you are a shrugger—a soul-dead entity that goes from moment to moment, day to day without any sense of longing for change or betterment. For you, the passing ... << MORE >>

Eat, Pray, and Love Your Heart Out!


I am not surprised that Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert graces the cover of Poets & Writers magazine this month in conjunction with the October release of her latest book. The tag line question on the cover is nothing short of poignant: "What happens after you sell eight million copies of a book?" 

But for me, the question should be expanded: "What happens after you sell eight million copies of a book that is—for the most part—quaint to the point of being shallow, implausible in more areas than one, and totally and completely lacking in depth and substance of anything really, truly spiritual?" 

Yes, it is true. I did not like the book. And while some out there may want to jump up and scream professional jealousy, I actually am able to deliver a valid explanation as to the reasons why. What's more, whenever I'm pressed to expand on said reasons, it is amazing how quiet and dumbfounded my female persecutors become.

So what are they? What are my ...
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A Reward for Doing Nothing

Winter drafts whispering softly for me to sit down, curl up with a book, and step out of my world. Days of reading, cooking, drinking, and it's hard to turn my eyes toward my own work, my own projects. So I stand here—still—in a dream, trying hard to ignore the nagging, the self-scolding, the sense of waste.

Where does this aspect of the creative come from? An inevitable pause in the process ushers in several days of contemplative malaise followed by restless guilt. Advice columns written by hack writers who are convinced they know what it takes to become a writer tell me over and over that I should "write every day" even if it is only for 10 minutes. I have to form the "habit" of writing, you see. It's all about practice and discipline and discipline and practice. Well that's great, I guess. But if I'm spending 10 minutes a day writing utter drivel and racking up piles of crap, I'm not sure how that is going to advance my cause.

Just as my body tells when I need a break—for me—this is simply my ...
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Beginnings....

 

"We are but a speck in a vast universe, whose depth and distance we can only begin to fathom. A universe of darkness pierced with light and held within the claws of mystery. Through the efforts of our minds and our wills and our desires, we have built machines and telescopes and satellites to peer as far as we can—stretching, straining, aching—in order to construct another world out of data and theories, revelation and faith. It is imagery bolstered with fantasy, and this is and always will be the limit of our experience."

And so begins my essay titled "A Birth We Did Not Choose"—an essay that will not only be entered in an upcoming writing contest, but is the first in a collection of essays I'm writing that will fall under the book title The Art of Being Relevant.

The past month has been filled with the writings of others and a quiet gathering of my own thoughts and words. Brief flashes, glimpses, celebrations of light have pierced the waking (and dreaming) hours of my days fueling my entry into the ...

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Please Look at My Work and Not Me

Who: Me
When: October 5, 2013
Where: Oregon Convention Center
Why: To "network" and promote this blog
How: ... um, er ... did it go? 
How: ... um, er ... did I fair? (Ha! That really wasn't funny.) 
How: ... um, er ... could I?

So I ventured out into the world of "networking" today—which every Do-This-to-Get-Published checklist has as its Number 2 following Number 1: Make sure you actually have talent—and I ran into the brick wall of shame that usually accompanies trying to promote your unpublished self in a room full of published writers. As it should.

I went to Wordstock with the sole purpose of trying to meet and interact with local publishing and writing professionals in the hopes that by some miracle they would be interested in my work. Armed with a fat stack of business cards I had made to promote this here blog, I soon realized that face-to-face self-promotion is a LOT harder than I initially thought it would be. Overall, I'm a confident person, but when it ...
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Plato, an Egg Salad Sandwich, and Will Durant for Dessert

Unlike the great classical philosopher Plato, I can not say that I lived in the time of Socrates. Nor could I imagine what that would be like. More togas, less deodorant I guess, and I have a funny feeling people either smelled like olive oil with an undercurrent of sweat-infused leather or they just smelled. But alas, that is not the point I'm trying to make.

Since the dawn of Modernism, our "Great" American society has been compared to ancient Greece and Rome with a particular emphasis on the latter's fall. Every societal ill that plagues us today, plagued our ancient brethren. Murder, theft, lying, cheating, corruption, mediocrity, extreme wealth versus extreme poverty, bad politics, bad leadership, war, mob mentality, injustice, and a human tendency to use sex, drugs, and "rock and roll" as a means of escaping it all. And here and there, men and women would gather to complain about the current state of things and offer up their opinion on what needs to be done to right the wrongs and change the course of civilization for the better. Sound familiar? Well, that's because it should.
... << MORE >>

A Libertarian Encounter

Over the past several years, I have become increasingly fascinated by the rise of Libertarianism throughout the mainstream political landscape. Like a weed, like an invasive moss—it is trying desperately to find a place to take root and spread. Despite the ridiculousness of certain Tea Party representatives—on the surface—most fed-up American citizens will give a sympathetic nod to a Libertarian political platform of less government, less military invasion and involvement in foreign nations, and an end to economic "stimulus" attempts.

So what is it that holds these same citizens back from putting all their fury and might behind a political idea that could significantly change—dare I say for the better—the way America acts and operates both at home and abroad? What keeps these citizens from accepting an economic platform that—if adhered to strictly and absolutely—would eventually pay down America's debt and (hopefully) result in the elimination of the income tax? What keeps them ...

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Nobel Prize-Worthy Literature

Not unlike the egg/chicken conundrum, does winning the Nobel Prize in literature make the author's work great? Or is the reward bestowed because the work is already great? 

Despite my personal stalking along the outskirts of the world of literature and writing, I was amazed to discover just how many Nobel Prize-winning authors I have read (only 15). I was also amazed to discover just how many of these authors are not household names in the world of literature. Up through the floors rises the deformed spectre of the state of contemporary fiction and writing.It's not about being great, it's about being popular. It's not about making a significant impact, it's about generating sales.

So what makes an author's work worthy of a Nobel Prize? In order to answer this question, it looks like I'm going to have to start reading. First on the list is John Galsworthy's The Forsyte Saga. I'm about 100 pages in and already I can see why this is an amazing piece of work. What is the job of a writer? To educate? To move? To reveal? Transporting the ...
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Our Place in Time

If you are anything like me, your days are ruled for the most part by the clock. Alarm set for a point in time that will trigger the beginning of the day whether you like it or not. Frantic, movement, rushing to cram the morning routine into a set of minutes. Then the silent gong is hit and you've reached that moment where you must get out the door and head to work. Tick-tock. Tick-tock. I have a meeting at 10:00am. I have to be somewhere at 6:00. My favorite television show begins at 8:00. I need to be in bed by 10:00.

The hours go by, the days go by, the years go by. Moments great and small break through to pull us free from the clock hands ticking, the digital countdown counting. And we breathe and feel and laugh and cry and see and hear. And, again, if you're anything like me, you seek out those days where the clock has absolutely no control over you whatsoever and it's the changing light of day that cues the next movement in the dance.

I've heard ...
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These Not-So-Difficult Difficult Times

As part of the recent promotion process that has launched me into a new "career" as an Operations Manager, I was bombarded with a sentence that alluded to a strength I apparently possess. It seems I have the ability to see patterns and systems—tear them apart—and reshape them so they are more productive, more efficient.

See.

Destroy.

Re-create.

I'm not sure this is an ability I really want. For it puts me in a constant state of revolution against those who can't see the pattern, who can't grasp the system, who couldn't even begin to provide a solution, and who resist any aspect of change even if the real need is standing over them shaking two clenched fists.

Constant.

State.

Of.

Revolution.

Who wants to live like that? Don't get me wrong. I know I have the passion. I know I have the drive. But what people don't seem to realize is that the only reason I ...
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The Ultimate Sacrifice

Having been knocked down by a summer cold over the July 4th holiday, the old adage "if you haven't got your health, you haven't got anything" kept springing to mind. Minor illness has a tendency to put all the so-called important issues, worries, and everyday tasks on hold and puts into perspective what day-to-day life really is.

Is life simply waking up, getting up, morning routine, go to work, do the work, work-work-work, go home, evening routine, stopping a few moments to eat here and there? Is life my career, my friends, my family? Is life my hopes and dreams and goals? Is life my difficulties, necessities, and disappointments? Or is there something more? Something greater than my day-to-day-to-day interrupted here and there by the occasional coughing, sneezing, sniffling?

As I sat over this July 4th holiday with my box of tissues and my cup of tea, I thought about America's founding in a more sombre light. Yes, there is something to be said about a group of intellectuals coming together to declare itself free of British rule. Yes, there is something to be said about ... << MORE >>

How Modernism Cured the World of Its Ills (insert laughter here)

My mind can't help it. No matter how busy I am or tired I am or hungry I am, I suddenly find myself stopping short along life's highway, turning around, and taking a long hard look back into the human history that follows us all. And upon allowing myself to be overtaken and spun around once again, I suddenly realize that I can't seem to see past the smog of Modernism (post- and post-post-Modernism included).

The birth of the Modern Era flew in on the laudable wings of reason, science, humanism, and industrialization. With each step in this awe-inspiring drama of human progress, the world was gradually flooded with new ideas, new discoveries, new technologies, and two diametrically opposed yet competing modes of governance each claiming, of course, to be the better way.

Starting with the Enlightenment and marching on through the 18th century, the human race continued to unshackle itself from the wearisome chains of ancient spiritual traditions so it could be free to move forward—to blaze onward—to a brighter, better future. For those who stuck with their faith and clung to God, rejecting ... << MORE >>

Ode to the Writer Who Doesn’t Have Time to Write

Not unlike a million slugs making their way down a mountain, so is the progress of my writing projects. A non-avalanche that destroys nothing, threatens no one, and does not alter the landscape in any way shape or form. Yay for me. I’ve accomplished nothing.

The past few weeks have been an endless wrestling match with my shadow, with the clock, with the demands of my job and those around me. GRRRRROWL! Will I ever be able to remove these claws from my arms? From my legs?! From my chest?!# From my neck?!!##!

Taking a cue from the horses I used to train, my first reaction is one of flight.

Get.

Me.

Away.

From.

Me.

Not the best attitude to have in the morning, throughout the day, into the evening. Battling a “to do” list that I would like nothing more than to rip into tiny pieces and throw into an oncoming hailstorm, it gets to the point where I’m simply angry to be alive. What!??! I ...

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Layers of Knowledge

In my more self-deluded moments of fancy, I sometimes picture myself as a hermit scholar sitting at a small wooden table, hunched over a vast array of books and papers and pamphlets, absorbing and meditating on all the discoveries that have been made before me while searching for the new, the profound, the world-changing. Ratty sweater, fingerless gloves, candles burning, pouring rain pitter-pattering against the window—yet inside my mind—I'm hurtling across the vast universe ... drawing connections here, avoiding black holes there, seeing for the first time just how light really pierces the darkness.

Not unlike how the bitter cold drives one closer and closer to the roaring fire, so too, I am driven toward a greater light of understanding. Is this the reason why I love the winter so much? Hmmmm.

But alas, I'm not a hermit scholar, I'm a manager of other people and an organizer of "things." Yet that doesn't stop me from surrounding myself with the printed words of great thinkers, classic novelists, insightful historians, mystery-wrestling theologians, and ground-breaking-yet-humble scientists. Layers upon layers of knowledge at my disposal waiting patiently for me to ...
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Knowing When to Change Course

With a blog dedicated to growth, self-improvement, and pursuing a dream, it is ironic that I find myself struggling with recent changes in my professional life. One of the pending changes I did not choose; the other is a change that needed to happen for a while and now I'm finally taking the step to make it a reality.

With a recent promotion at my full-time job (the change I did not choose), I realize that it is time to let my freelance proofreading job go. My heart has not been in it for awhile. My work has been mediocre to say the least. While I get nervous about the financial realities that have made me feel compelled to hang on to both jobs, I know now that the only way I can really dedicate myself to improving my writing ability and gain more writing credits is to stop spreading myself too thin.

Maintaining a certain quality of life is a tricky thing. On one hand, the act of making more money by working more hours to improve a standard of living also cuts into the amount of ...
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Caught in an Avalanche

Out of a moment of silence, my world starts to move—murmuring, rumbling, growling, sliding—and suddenly I have no choice. Swept down hard—moving faster and faster—I'm tumbling, choking. And the world and human voices that sweep over it like a storm fill my ears with a shattering roar. I can't breathe. I can't hear. I can't see.

These have been the last few weeks of my life.

The speeding up of time and the amount of tiny little details piling up—pulling here, grabbing there—are interrupted only slightly by certain sets of eyes and laughing faces that grab me by the shoulders, slow me down, and hold me in a moment of joy. But then the moment is overwhelmed by fatigue and exhaustion and the avalanche continues on.

There are two types of writers, artists, thinkers out there: ones who do the work and ones who talk about doing the work yet accomplish nothing.

I can't let my daily jumping, hopping, snapping life turn into an excuse for not continuing on the path I've chosen to take. ... << MORE >>

The Art of Being Relevant: Dissatisfaction

The pharmaceutical industry makes millions of dollars each year delivering pills to the masses that are designed and packaged to take away their pain, eliminate their depression, give them a more fulfilling sex life, a less cumbersome menstrual cycle, etc., etc. All of these biological and psychological inconveniences of being a human being—cured.

All it took was a little pill. And while the side effects of these magical little wonders can range from addiction to suicidal tendencies, from irritability and mood swings to stomach issues, from blindness to blood clots and possible death—it is clear that human society has been sold on the concept that a pill will take away the problem once and for all. And the only effort required on your part is simply opening a bottle, shaking a capsule into your hand, placing it into your mouth, and washing it down with water.

Voila! A new and improved life! Free of bad thoughts, long-lasting erections, and a complete denial of the biological realities of being a female. Oh Science, it appears you are the god you claim to be!

...
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The View From Above


Not unlike a mathematical constant, the egos and insecurities of human beings churn and swirl like our global weather patterns. Emotional storms erupting over here. Intellectual droughts devastating the landscape over there. Psychological earthquakes and tsunamis striking without warning, taking out everything in their path.

And then there are the the subtler patterns....

The descent of saline to the ocean floor under the ice of the North Pole—hidden and invisible until someone comes along and shines a light on it—mirrors the trickling down of inner wants and desires and irritations and disappointments. Until they spread throughout the dark and mysterious ocean of our own minds, that is, and later erupt in an emotional storm, a psychological tsunami.

Endless cycles of time—spinning and churning—spiraling back further and further into this thing called history, until they reach the birth of us humans and all of our systems and patterns, the birth of our planet and all of its systems and patterns, the birth of the universe and all of its systems and patterns.

...
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Spring Has Sprung

The days are beginning to wake up and stretch. Light, bright, warm infusion and my musical background goes from contemplative classical to passionate jazz. Frenetic, frantic, hoppy, snappy, scatta-tat. My mind leaves the Why?s behind for a rainy day and turns to the Who?s, the What?s and—without worry—lets it all unfold.

Buzzing busyness infiltrates my hours and speeds them up. And the winding down leaves my clothes, my body, my eyelids sagging. I'm not ready for this energy. But I have no choice.The death of winter is a mournful affair for me. Gone are the clouds and rain. Gone are the curling up with sweaters and a hot cup of tea and a foreboding book. Here are the days of color and short sleeves and sweating and more laundry. Here are the days of shaving my legs and trying desperately to cram my "not long enough" hair into a ponytail.

It is a time for eyes and sights. My eyes take in the whirling activity and try to see the nature past the fake tans, the sunglasses, the cellphone conversations, and the short shorts. And more eyes see ...
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Dear Pope Francis, So Why Can't Men Be Nuns?

The Catholic Church is irrelevant and in a state of crisis ... or so I am told.

Modern-day Catholics are wrestling with their own shadows in regards to social issues. How can you view the world today with a 2,000-year-old vision that seems increasingly out of touch, bigoted, and narrow-minded? Why can't women be priests? Why can't priests get married? Why can't a female priest get married and use birth control? Why can't a gay priest marry someone of the same sex? No birth control issues there, right? Come on, Catholicism! Get with the times!!!

Over the past several weeks, mass media has taken a keen interest in the election and installation of Pope Francis. Everyone seems to be waiting with baited breath as to what the new pope is going to do about contentious social issues such as gay marriage, birth control, women as priests, etc., etc. Everyone is watching closely, searching for signs and clues as to how Pope Francis is going to steer the Catholic Church into the 21st century and make it more modern, more relevant—less Catholic—and, therefore, more popular.
...
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Recent Posts

  1. Being Held by the Hands of Time
    Sunday, December 29, 2013
  2. Eat, Pray, and Love Your Heart Out!
    Thursday, November 21, 2013
  3. A Reward for Doing Nothing
    Friday, November 08, 2013
  4. Beginnings....
    Wednesday, October 30, 2013
  5. Please Look at My Work and Not Me
    Saturday, October 05, 2013
  6. Plato, an Egg Salad Sandwich, and Will Durant for Dessert
    Sunday, September 22, 2013
  7. A Libertarian Encounter
    Thursday, September 12, 2013
  8. Nobel Prize-Worthy Literature
    Wednesday, August 28, 2013
  9. Our Place in Time
    Thursday, August 15, 2013
  10. These Not-So-Difficult Difficult Times
    Sunday, August 04, 2013

Recent Comments

  1. Charlie Chapple on Being Held by the Hands of Time
    1/6/2014
  2. Jennifer Gritt on Eat, Pray, and Love Your Heart Out!
    12/14/2013
  3. Charlie Chapple on Eat, Pray, and Love Your Heart Out!
    12/11/2013
  4. Jennifer Gritt on The Ultimate Sacrifice
    10/15/2013
  5. dbrown on The Ultimate Sacrifice
    10/14/2013
  6. dbrown on Our Place in Time
    10/9/2013
  7. Jennifer Gritt on Please Look at My Work and Not Me
    10/9/2013
  8. dbrown on Please Look at My Work and Not Me
    10/8/2013
  9. Jennifer Gritt on Plato, an Egg Salad Sandwich, and Will Durant for Dessert
    9/30/2013
  10. George on Plato, an Egg Salad Sandwich, and Will Durant for Dessert
    9/30/2013

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