Random Thoughts


19
Feb 13

A quiet life that lives loud

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Howdy.  Good to see you again.

I am pleased to announce that my fascination with South Africa and its societal and cultural challenges have waned.  So there will be no more blog entries about my recent trip below the equator.

You will be happy to know that I am back to my normal self (whatever that is).  Well, maybe I took a leap in logic to assume you will be happy to have me back to normal.

In reality my normalcy could be troubling to you.  Just so you know, people whispering and giggling under their breath has never deterred me in the past.

I will keep on pecking away at my blog in hopes that I will somehow and someway say something meaningful, funny, thought provoking or challenging to those of you who choose to hang out with me periodically.

Frankly, I am not sure which is more intriguing or troubling – myself (Jerry Rushing) actually writing a blog or that you (whomever you are) are actually reading it.

But enough of my ramblings about my quirky sense of normalcy… let’s talk about real people.

Those of you who are regular readers know that people fascinate me.  I absolutely love the variety of people in the world.

Although I think I am a pretty nice person and remarkably handsome and cool, I would hate for the world to be full of people like me.  And yes, you are correct in assuming that a bunch of Jerry Rushings running around would make the world a much better and pleasant place to be… but not nearly as interesting.

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Side Note: Yes, just in case some of you were wondering, the last couple of sentences are totally tongue in cheek.  Those of you who are regulars know that I never take myself that seriously.

My weirdness must be the withdrawal effects of South African water.

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For whatever reason I am really drawn to salt-of-the-earth type people.  These are people who are comfortable with who they are and have no pretense of trying to impress others.  They just  simply live their lives… simply.

I ran across a video of a fellow who simply loves his family and country and quietly lives a life that impacts others without any intention of doing so.

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Humm… in a world celebrates image and are enamored by flowery words, it’s refreshing to see the power of a simple life well lived.

I am not discounting the importance of more visible talents, not at all.  It’s just that I want to celebrate the quieter invisible qualities that make life so rich and full.

Eric would probably never win a personality contest nor would he put himself in a situation that requires an electrifying persona.

But what he lacks in words his life makes up for in action.

Eric’s life forces me to ask myself some questions and I encourage you to ask yourself.

What strikes me about Eric’s story?

Is there anything I need to learn or embrace from his quiet strength?

These are questions worth asking.  I encourage you to poke at these insights over the next couple of days.

Ciao.


4
Feb 13

The BIG Surprise

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Hi there… welcome back.

If you read the last blog entry you know that I just returned from a church mission trip to South Africa.  I mentioned that there were several things that stirred me, confused me, and challenged me.

Before I go any further I have to do some damage control.

I may be a lot of things, but one thing I don’t tend to be is a critical person.  It’s pretty easy for me to find the best in people or the situation.

But what I talk about today may seem very critical; critical of a particular segment of our society.  When I tell you the group I am referring to you will most likely think that I am an insensitive arrogant pig.

Maybe… I don’t think so, but I’m open to that reality.

I don’t mean for my comments to be critical.  These are just observations that I am still trying to sort through to gain a deeper understanding or broader insight into some disconnects present in our world.

The group that came to front of my mind during my visit to South Africa and whom I am puzzled about is the American poor.

Yikes!  As soon as I identified the group I could immediately sense the polarization of readers.

Some of you immediately bristled up and began making judgments about middle-class insensitivity to the poor and the inability to breakthrough societal barriers that limit their opportunities.

Others of you spontaneously perked up and started to salivate over the possibility of someone confronting those that seem to be too lazy to do things for themselves and thrive on exploiting the entitlement system.

Both sides share a kernel of truth and both are grossly erroneous and narrow in their thinking.

When I went to South Africa I saw poor… lots of poor… really, really poor.  And I saw wealthy, very wealthy.

The poor in South Africa are much poorer than in the US.  And the proportion of the population in poverty is significantly greater than here.

There are literally millions (seriously millions) of people living in makeshift shantytowns made of discarded tin sheets, board and canvas.

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Side Note: In South Africa the shantytowns are referred to as “informal settlements”.  Some how this seems much too sterile for the reality.

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There were piles of rubbish on virtually on every corner waiting the Friday evening burning.  On Friday evening we saw scattered fires throughout the neighborhood emptying the corner for the accumulation of the coming weeks trash.

Although it was very trashy, one could quickly sense a level of order and organization to the seeming chaos.  Masses of people were moving around seemingly with some level of purpose in their movement.  Survival.

The conditions in South Africa are so massive it seems hopeless.

I can safely say that the poor there have significantly more obstacles to overcome than their American counterpart.

Please believe me when I say that I am not trying to minimize the difficulties nor the tragedy of the American poor… not at all.  The poverty we do experience here is totally unacceptable in my opinion.  But still not nearly as bad as South Africa (or any third world country for that matter).

What I am doing is laying the foundation for the real issue that prompted this blog.  And believe it or not, the disconnect for me was not the severity or extent of poverty as compared to the US.

It was the smiles on people’s faces that I saw there compared to the faces of poverty I see here.

I will share more about this on Thursday.

Ciao.


18
Jan 13

Packed and ready to go

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Have you ever had deep stirrings but couldn’t find words to release the captive thought?

I have, all the time.  I still have lots of deep things that seem frustrated with lack of expression.

I attempt to verbalize the inner truth but my words stumble because of lack of clarity.  And sadly the depth and significance of the thought is lost, even undermined, because of my inability to breathe life into it.

In the past I used to think that it was because I wasn’t bright enough to articulate my thought.  That may be true to some degree but mostly I believe that inner truths need time to germinate and then at the right time they break the surface.

Occasionally I am able to bring clarity on my own.  That is the exception rather than the rule.

Usually someone will come along and articulate or we read something that crystallizes a trapped thought.

When that happens there is an amazing relief.  I hear my head echo, “That’s it, that’s it”.

As all of you know I have been poking at the topic of journey for several years.  And the other day I read something that brought me a huge step closer to bringing clarity to the clutter of thoughts and feelings that have been rubbing against each other.

A friend sent me an email that had the following quote.

The quote is about the importance of and the need for us to travel.  But the truth articulated is not reserved for just traveling to physical new locations.

The beauty of the quote is that it articulates many of my thoughts about the journey of life and the trying of new things.

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“That is why we need to travel. If we don’t offer ourselves to the unknown, our senses dull. Our world becomes small and we lose our sense of wonder.

Our eyes don’t lift to the horizon; our ears don’t hear the sounds around us. The edge is off our experience, and we pass our days in a routine that is both comfortable and limiting.

We wake up one day and find that we have lost our dreams in order to protect our days.

Don’t let yourself become one of these people. The fear of the unknown and the lure of the comfortable will conspire to keep you from taking the chances the traveler has to take.

But if you take them, you will never regret your choice.”

- Letters To A Son. Kent Nerburn

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This quote articulates much better than I the importance of stepping out beyond ourselves.

Life has more than what we settle for.  For those of you reading this blog for the first time, I am not talking about trying new things to feed our appetite for thrills or because we want to run away from life.

No, not at all.  I am talking about things that expand who we are.  Things that make our life richer and deeper.

I am about to do something that I believe will make my life richer and fuller.

I am taking Kent Nerburn’s advice and in two hours I am leaving to go to South Africa for ten days.  This is a church trip thing and it will be fascinating.

So I won’t be posting my next blog entry until the 29th.

I should come back all stretched and insightful.

Ciao.


14
Jan 13

Breakdown or Breakthrough?


Blog Note: I added this sentence after reading what I wrote.  The blog may seem negative at first but stick with it… there may be something for you to learn.

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Hello, me again… for the three hundredth time.

Yep, this is my three hundredth blog entry in three years.  This writing feat of posting 300 entries may not be very impressive to you, but for me… I’m ecstatic.

If you told me four years ago I would be posting two blog entries a week for over three years and have over 100,000 hits per year I would have thought you were nuts.  There are three reasons why I thought this would never happen.

First of all I’m not a writer.  I am not claiming they are good blog entries (only you are the judge of that) but I’m happy with most of them.

Secondly, I tend not to be as disciplined as I would like to be.  My life journey road is littered with discarded projects and miscellaneous attempts of meaningful endeavors.  My pattern has been to start things and then after the luster dulls, my effort and interest fizzles.

And the third reason is probably pretty clear to you after reading reasons one and two… I am really good at beating the crap out of myself.

It’s kind of embarrassing to admit, but it’s true.

It’s one thing to be self-deprecating.  There’s kind of an endearing charm of someone who doesn’t take themselves too seriously and are confident enough to advertise their shortcomings.

But when someone beats the crap out of themselves it’s neither endearing nor charming.

Wow, I didn’t expect to be this vulnerable when I started writing a few minutes ago.

I feel like someone who has been muscled out of their hiding place and paraded for public display exposed for the world to make their judgments or take their shots.

Now don’t get all weirded out or start feeling sorry for me.

Let me be clear, this open discussion is not a self-flagellating mea culpa to cleanse my spirit of personal demons.  Not at all!

In fact, on some level it is both a declaration and a sign of freedom.

Yes, I have my issues like everyone else…  just like everyone else… just like you.

Every one of you reading this has things that hold you back from living life to the full.

As for me, I recognize and squarely face the things that I tried to keep others from seeing – my flat spots.

This is why this blog has been important to me.  This was one of several steps I was called to take which allowed me to venture beyond the confines of my world.

Maybe you are further along in your journey than I and the insights of this blog entry is old news.

But for some, you remain in your internal “panic room” protecting yourself from exposure to the world.  You’re not about to let anyone know your weakness.

But here’s the dirty little secret – Everyone already knows.

The breakthrough is bringing it to light to face it.

Bringing things to light is risky indeed.  But life is worth the risk.

Hopefully you will show up on Thursday for another visit.

See you then.

Ciao.


10
Jan 13

A walk on the wild side

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Hello again.

Some of you who read my last blog entry may be of the notion to take me up on my offer to step out of your comfortable world and go exploring with me.

There may have been something about what I said that poked a tender spot regarding the possibility that there is more to life than what you have been experiencing.

I am an average guy, with a great life, and blessed beyond measure.  Very honestly, there is nothing special about me.  My wife would say different but that’s because she loves me and can be somewhat biased in her opinion.

But this average guy has a message.  The spark of life you sense has nothing to do with Jerry Rushing.  But it has everything with you cracking the door to begin believing that what I am talking about is real and for you.

Oh my God.  I just re-read the last couple of paragraphs and I sound like motivational speaker Anthony Robbins… only without the big teeth and creepy smile.

But in reality my message to you is nothing like Anthony Robbins.  I am not talking about the power within you to make you great or you tapping into your reservoir of latent potential waiting to be released to change the world.  Nope… nothing like that.

No, I’m not selling fantasies or potential.

I’m not selling you anything.  All I am doing is inviting you to consider that God has more for you to experience and enjoy than you can ever imagine.

There is an interesting scripture in the Bible (Romans 12:2) that says, “…be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

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Side Note: Now to all my non-Christian friends don’t get all pissy on me because I used a scripture to make my point.  I am not trying to convert you (that’s not my job anyway).

So just move your curser away from the exit icon and hear me out.  Thanks.

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But whether you are a Christian or not the scripture is true.  Our mind, if not careful, will lock us into a way of thinking that keeps us quietly buried in the shallow grave of life I mentioned in the last blog.  We’re dead and don’t even know it.

Growing and experiencing life to the full is a combination of opening our thinking and stepping out and trying something new.

Some of you reading this blog never try anything new.  There is something about trying new things that breaths life into dead bones.

Once again I know there are some of you who will just roll your eyes at my words and chalk my comments up as the ramblings of a small narrow man’s attempt to be profound.

Maybe.  But what if I am right?

I want to challenge you to do two very simple things.  It is a challenge that may prove you right about me or may open your thinking to the possibility that God has an amazing adventure for you to experience.

All I ask is that you sincerely invite God to open your heart and mind to the possibility that He has something for you.  And secondly… just listen.

What do you have to lose?

Now I have to be really honest here.  I tend to be pretty rebellious.  If someone asked me to do the two simple things I’m asking you, I am very likely to blow it off just to spite the person asking.

I’m not proud of that but true none-the-less.

I hope you will give it a shot.  Just ask… and listen.

See you Monday.


7
Jan 13

Living in a shallow grave

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Hello… welcome back… Happy New Year.

A statement in my last blog entry has been haunting me.  I said that worry robs your life of life.

How sad, but unfortunately all too true.  There are millions of people living in this world who are living with no life.

Something happened to me about five years ago.  I am not exactly sure what but I do know that it was a God thing.  I decided that I did not want to live my life in a shallow grave.

A person in a shallow grave is one who lives in and settles for less than what is available to them.  I believe more and more, and my heart rejoices more and more with the reality that there is so much God has given for us to experience and enjoy HERE and NOW not just in the hereafter.

Yes, as a Christian I knew I would go to heaven and all would be good.  But little did I know that God desires for us to experience life to the full – NOW.

I am not talking about deeper Spiritual insights or tingly feelings.  Yes, those are available and I like those things too, but I’m talking about something different.

I wish I could bring to memory the event or moment that sparked the notion that life had more to offer than what I was settling for.

Here’s the amazing God thing.  I already had a very good life.  It was neither boring nor unfulfilling.  But something sparked an inner ember.

Something struck an invisible soundless note that resonated in my spirit.

All I knew was that God was calling me to a higher place.  It had nothing to do with money, job nor possession.  There was a stirring to things outside my comfortable snug world.

I am sure some you are reading this and are bored out of your mind thinking this guy is weird.

But there is someone reading this that is feeling a stir.  Something inside is rising up and taking notice.

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We long for more but dare not believe that more is possible

- Penelope Stokes

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You don’t know what, but there is something inside that knows or wants to believe that God has more for you… and He does!

That is why I started this blog journey three years ago.

Something or someone was calling me to more.

As I said earlier, I had a wonderful life up to five years ago.  Since that time it has been amazing.  It doesn’t mean simple… but simply amazing.

I have taken risks, started things (like this blog) that I would have never attempted.

All because I listened to a zephyr call to something more.

No, life is not perfect.  Yes, I still have my challenges and setbacks.

But I can honestly say that I no longer live in a shallow grave where my life has no life.  And the amazing thing is that what I have experienced is only the beginning.

This is my invitation to all of you weird people out there that feel a stir at what I am saying.  The voice you hear is not mine.

I am only the instrument that invites you to more.

I hope you join me as I continue the journey.

If you are really serious I encourage you to read the first couple of months of blogs from 2010.  All you need to do is go to the archives on the right side of the page and check them out.

Ciao.

See you Thursday.


3
Jan 13

Worry Freak or Worry Free?

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The beginning of a new year always feels kinda weird to me.

There is something about the finality of the numerical year that causes one to assess or rank the previous year and then forces one’s attention to the future to ponder or speculate on the next twelve months.

Let’s face it, we don’t look at March 12th the same way we view January 1st.  We don’t sit up late on the evening of the 11th and reflecting on the year past.

But the end and beginning of a numerical calendar year is different.

I do reflect on the year and tend to give it some level of ranking.  Being that I tend to be a “bullet point” kind of person I’m sure that my evaluation system is much too simplistic to most people’s liking.

My three point ranking system is – Good year, ok year, and bad year.

Then I will typically add a couple of words as descriptors.

For example, my description of 2012 was this.  Overall 2012 was a good year with a huge transition and challenges.

Yep… that’s it.  It may be much too broad and non-descript for you but it works for me.  Like everyone else I have had bad years… 2003 and 2009 were brutal.

My simple process of reflection works very well in the other direction too – looking forward to the upcoming year.

I personally try to keep my head clear of any prolonged or specific speculation about what the year may bring.  The year will be what it will be and I will deal with it as it comes tends to be my basic philosophy.

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If you’re in a bad situation, don’t worry it’ll change. If you’re in a good situation, don’t worry it’ll change.
- John A. Simone, Sr.
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But one can’t help wondering to some degree what type of year 2013 will be.

There’s enough political and social craziness to cause some people to nose dive into the pits of negativity and fear.

But I figure, why get stressed out or worry about something that hasn’t happened.

I have my fair share of concerns about things that can happen and potentially impact my life (the economy as an example) but I don’t tend to worry.

Worry is a trap that corrupts the present.

Maybe I am too simple but I figure why get myself all worked up and stressed over something that probably won’t happen.  If the negative does happen… I will get worked up then.

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“I am an old man and I have known a great many troubles… but most of them never happened.”

- Mark Twain

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Just because I don’t worry now doesn’t mean that I don’t have an appropriate level of concern about those things that may be looming that could impact my life.

As mentioned earlier, there’s a lot of economic and political craziness right now.  I will be careful about what I spend, what I save, etc. because it is both logical and responsible.

The worriers will say that they are doing the same thing, just being appropriately concerned.   Nope, not the same… concern doesn’t rob life’s joy or peace… worry does.

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Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow. It empties today of its strength.
- Corrie Ten Boom
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Worry robs your life of life.

Think about it, what an interesting phrase – life being robbed from our life.

No one on this earth knows what 2013 will bring.

2013 may give me a bitter cup to drink.  If so, I pray I drink it with grace and patience.  But I decide now not to worry.

2013 may offer me a sweet cup to enjoy.  If so, I pray I drink it with humility and gratefulness.

I approach this year with open heart and hands.

Thanks for checking in with me.  See you Monday.

Ciao.


28
Dec 12

Holiday Limbo

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Yes, I know… I am five days late with this blog.  I’m not exactly sure what happened.

The last clear thing I remember is that it was Christmas Eve and I was casually sipping on some eggnog and all of a sudden things seemed to kick into hyperspace speed.

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Nothing says holidays, like a cheese log.

- Ellen DeGeneres

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Since then it has been a cacophony of events.  All I can recall are a few memory snippets of wrapping tearing, people smiling, dogs playing, loads of cooking, everyone eating, wafts of candles burning, lots of cleaning, quick packing, snow flying and frenzied driving.  Whew!

All of a sudden it’s December 28th and somehow I ended up in Atlanta sipping on some coffee.  I finally came to my senses… well… that’s debatable according to my wife.

So here I am, caught in what I call Holiday limbo.  It’s the time between Christmas and New Year’s Day when everything seems weird.

It feels like you are between worlds and any sense of normalcy has evaporated.

It’s kinda nice and you start to feel good then all of a sudden there is a sense that I should be doing something productive.  You’re not exactly on vacation (that’s a different head-set) but you’re not in work mode either.

So typing this blog is kind of a Godsend.  It makes things feel a bit more normal even though I am not in my cozy home where I can dress as I want and behave as I wish (scratch, spit, belch, etc. at will – the guys know what I’m talking about… you know the feeling).

But regardless of the weirdness of holidays – especially the Holiday Limbo time, I wouldn’t want to change it.

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I once wanted to become an atheist, but I gave up – they have no holidays.

- Henny Youngman

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We need disruptions to our routine.  Seriously.

We (self included) work hard at trying to create some measure of routine and predictability in our lives.  I think this is important.

A measure of routine provides some stability and sanity to a fast paced world.

But believe it or not disruptions are important too.

If not careful routine becomes a subtle web that builds over time and if not periodically torn they will eventually choke the very life out of you.

You create a cocoon that is very comfortable and protective, but it keeps you from growing.

Discomfort forces the action and movement needed to keep from choking to death.
Now some of you are on the other end of the continuum.  You are chaos junkies.  You cringe at anything routine.

But unfortunately, whatever extreme you may be on the continuum (rigid routine or crazy chaos) you reap the consequence of your excess.

I think I’m pretty balanced.  I really like my routine but I appreciate the value of disruption.

So this year’s Holiday Limbo has definitely disrupted my routine.

Ok, my web is broken for the time being… now let’s get back to the routine that feels comfortable and work hard to maintain.

See you Monday… New Year’s Eve.

Ciao


20
Dec 12

Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth

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The title is a weird saying huh?  And the picture is ugly too.

I love these old axioms, but it seems their popularity has waned over the past few years.

Unfortunately they seem to have been snatched out of existence like a chicken leg on a Golden Corral buffet.  Gone… one minute it’s there and the next minute… whoosh… never to be seen again.

The wonderful thing about these old axioms is that although the verbiage is a bit dated the core truth remains sound.  That’s the beautiful thing about Truth… it never changes.  Regardless of the wording, the truth is still the truth.

And this is the time of year that elevates the magnificence of Truth even more.

Fair warning – GOD ALERT!!!!

Now for all of my non-Christian friends you don’t have to worry.  You know by now that I don’t get all preachy on you and expect you to believe what I believe.

Hopefully it will make you think but regardless of where you land spiritually you can still get a lot out of my meanderings.

The entire Christmas thing is that God came to dwell among us human types.  Some of you may be wondering what’s the big deal.

Believe it or not, it is a big deal… a very BIG DEAL.

God decided to go slumming with his peeps.  Let me be clear, gods do NOT do that sort of thing.

Christianity is the only religion on earth where the god being served comes down on our level to have relationship with man.  In all other religions man has to work their way up to become like the god being served.

If a person does enough good things and goes through certain rituals they eventually progress into some sort of deity.

The weirdest thing is that the nation of Israel had been expecting the Messiah to come for generations.

But here’s the other key to the story… He came… but not the way they expected.

If there is a pattern with God is that He doesn’t come in ways we anticipate.  That’s why so many of us miss His moving around us because He doesn’t come in a way we expect the God of the Universe to come.

If He came in a way we expected then He would not be God… because He would be within our grasp.  God is not within our grasp of intellect.

Any Spiritual insight always requires a step of faith.  A step beyond where we are and believe that God is at work.

If we are willing to crack that door our life will never be the same.

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You may be wondering why the weird axiom about the gift horse as the title of this blog.  God offers a free gift… yet we have difficulty just accepting it.

We want to examine, test, or evaluate the worthiness of the gift.

This time of the year is the time of gift giving.

But a gift is never possessed if we don’t receive.

Ciao.


14
Dec 12

Listen or Discard?

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Ho Ho Ho!

Yep… the smell of the scented candles, sounds of carols and the zip from Egg Nog is starting to take effect.

I feel the joy of Christmas beginning to rumble deep inside.  Or, it could be just the remnants of the questionable fish sandwich I had for lunch.  But something is beginning to rumble and I’m getting into the moment.

Without getting all mushy and Hallmark Cardish there is something very, very special about this time of year.

Sure, you have your occasional curmudgeon (or Grinch) who dislikes anything that makes other people feel good or happy.

It’s kind of weird.  If they’re not happy they don’t want others to be happy.  But of course they don’t come right out and say that.  They put a damper on everyone’s joy by spouting their unhappiness veiled by some very philosophical or insightful proclamation.

The biggest philosophical proclamation that becomes an emotional wet blanket is the verbal barrage that Christmas is too commercial.

Is Christmas too commercial?  Absolutely.  No question about it.  But the gross over commercialization of Christmas doesn’t stop me from enjoying the Holidays.  I still know what Christmas is all about.

If you’re really upset Christmas is over commercialized… keep it too yourself.

Yep, keep it to yourself.  Why, you ask.

NO ONE IS LISTENING TO YOU!

Usually when people are pontificating (emotionally spouting off) they come across self-righteous, judgmental and pompous.  That alone turns people off.

But there is another reason why people will not listen to your message.

It amazes me that people feel they are going to change the commercialism of Christmas by harping on the negative.  If you want to influence a person’s belief system you don’t hammer on the things that are wrong or in error.

This approach just makes people take a stronger stand on their point of view and makes it easy to discard your opinion like flicking a speck of dust off their shoulder.

If you really want people to hear your message… focus on the positive.

For example, if over commercialism of Christmas is an issue for you; the power is in sharing the joy of simplicity vs. the evil of excess.

Yes, I enjoy the lights, gifts, energy and happenings around the Holidays, but I also the simple joy of the spirit of giving, sharing and love.

There’s no question the glitz can be distracting… but the simple joy in the hearts and eyes of the young (this is not an age thing) is glorious.

Relax… enjoy the simplicity of the season.

Ciao.