January, 2010

Jan 10

The Mountain

Climbing mountains can be hell.  I’m not cussing again, just stating fact.

When you start it’s not too bad… slight incline, new adventure, good company, anticipation of what’s ahead, feeling fresh.  All’s good.

But like most things starting is not the problem, its keeping moving forward when things get tough.  And as we all know, anything of significance will have tough spots.  In fact, I tend to believe that the tough spots are in direct proportion to the significance.  But the good news is… the joy, reward and pleasure are multiplied all the more.

I bring this up because some of you have taken a bold step to join me on a journey.  This risky journey we are going on is going to have its rough patches.  I am not saying this to discourage you but to prepare and challenge you now (while things are still easy) to reaffirm your commitment.

Side note: I know that some of you are scratching your head right now trying to figure out what I am talking about.  You might want to check out the first blog entry “A Bottle in the Ocean” , it will give you a clearer picture.

I am committed to this adventure.  I look back on my life and see the road cluttered with too many with good intentions.  I’m not beating up on myself because I don’t think that I am that different from most people and more importantly I don’t want the clutter behind me to cause me to stumble as I move forward.  I mentioned in an earlier blog entry that movement is key not speed.

Don’t worry this is not going to be a “when the going gets tough the tough get going” pep talk.

But I do want to encourage you.

I have a very dear friend who is a runner… I mean a runner… the marathon type runner.  In fact she qualified for the Boston Marathon.  Very cool!  Anyway just so you know I am NOT a runner.  For some reason I find it boring.

But I digress… when she started running marathons someone suggested that she put her first name on her running jersey.  At first she thought it kinda goofy but gave it a try.  She was amazed at how much it helped.  All along the 26+ miles total strangers would cheer her on by name.  This was especially meaningful when around the 20 mile mark most runners kick into survival mode.

In marathons there are crowds all along the way clapping, cheering, supporting, etc.  But the supportive roar (albeit nice) is generic.

But the personalized cheers of, “Go Vickie”, “Vickie, you can do it!” made a difference.

It will be tiring but let’s keep at it.

See you Monday.

Jan 10

Walkie Talkie

Wow… you’re back.  I wasn’t sure I would see you again after the last blog.  Welcome!  As I said in my first entry, I am taking this journey whether anyone joins me or not but its nice having the company.

Enough of the niceties, the mountain is calling, onward and upward.

Have you ever strolled along a secluded wooded path with someone?  There’s something about nature and a leisurely stroll that stimulates the sensesrelaxes the mind and most especially opens the heart.  Laughter is free and conversation natural.

There is a subtle joy that seeps in as you slowly walk along with your head bobbing up and down… looking up and around at the beauty and then to the path at your feet to secure your next step.  This cadence with the surroundings does something to and in us.  Our guard tends to be lowered and casual conversation about the trees and beauty seamlessly (almost magically) transforms into dialogue about life.

Our deepest and most meaningful conversations are spontaneous, never contrived.  You cannot force deep interaction.  In fact force undermines the very virtue you seek.

Unfortunately deep meaningful conversations are the all too rare… those times when we feel comfortable enough with someone to expose our deeper self, the self below the obligatory niceties.

Side Note: My hallmarks of a meaningful conversation

  • Natural and fluid vs. forced and formal
  • Both are engaged, not one sided
  • Probing but not pushy
  • Questions but not challenging
  • Varied opinions but not judgmental
  • Focus is on my learning and insight vs. trying to change the other person

By the way, have you ever met someone who felt they needed to set people straight?  For what ever reason they feel it is their calling to let you know where you’re wrong or where you’ve failed.

Strange paradox…  deep conversations are not only for people we know.  The amazing thing to me is some of our deepest conversations are with total strangers.  Why is that?  I have my opinions but I would like yours.

I have had amazing conversations with people on planes.  The small seats, tight quarters and background roar of the engines suddenly disappear and your eyes, mind and focus are fixed.  Sadly, I must confess, many of my deepest conversations have been with people I have just met.

I have two other quick observations.  First, deep conversation is a gift of trust, and secondly they are remarkably intimate.

Hold on… I’m not talking about that kind of intimate.  Where is your mind going?  I’m not that kind of guy… you pervert.

Just kidding, just kidding… anything for a cheap laugh or to get a quick rouse out of someone.

You feeling it in your legs yet?  You know… the muscles begin to tighten as we walk up the mountain.  Thank goodness we’re still on a slight incline.  But the rough climbing is ahead as we begin our ascent.

Later… see you Thursday.

Jan 10

The Big Confession

Hi!  If this is your first visit to my blog… welcome.

This blog is about a rather frightening journey that I have decided to take.  I’d love to have you walk along with me if you wish, but as I said in my first blog entry, this is a journey I must take whether anyone joins me or not.  If you want to know where it all started you probably need to take a look at the first couple of blog entries.

Also, you need to be forewarned.  My journey buddies and I have started walking up this high mountain to get a lay of the land to determine where we want to explore and identify what dragons we want to slay.  Along the way we’re just chatting.

In my last blog I mentioned that I had something to share that may cause some of you to stop walking along with me.

I can assure you of this… somewhere along the journey I will offend you.  Not intentionally, but it will happen.  The question once again, as it will always be, “Is the call (or for some the longing) you have to learn, grow, and explore greater than your immediate irritation or discomfort?”

Okay, here goes… my confession.

What I want to share with you about myself is that I am a Christ follower.  I can hear it now, some of you just said, “Oh SHIT”.

In two sentences I have successfully alienated those who do not follow Christ and most of the ones who do.   I don’t know much about blogs but this is not a great way to build readership.  But once again, this blog is not for you… it’s for me, and what I must do in response to this journey to which I am called.

But before you stop reading, please hear me out.

To the non-Christ follower: I needed to share that I am Christ follower so you will know where I am coming from because it shades my every idea, thought and belief.  If we are going to hang out with each other it must be a transparent relationship.

My agenda is not to make you believe what I believe, think what I think, or love Christ the way I love Christ.  If I have an agenda it is that my blog be a safe place for anyone to explore anything… without pressure.

Just so you know, my last statement really bothered a lot of my Christian friends.  It bothered them because many feel that I should take every opportunity to help you believe in and accept Christ.  Frankly I used to believe that way and most likely I turned more people off than helped.

The reality is, you will believe what you want to believe and no one can make you change.  I don’t know about you but I get really pretty hard headed when I feel pressured to think, believe or act a certain way.

Side Note: I believe in the depths of my being that if a person is a genuine seeker of Truth, they will find it.  The key word is genuine.

I have met many who say they want truth but only explore places they wanted and were not willing to openly look everywhere.  I continue to be a seeker of Truth and this means I have to be open to faulty beliefs I may have and be willing to take an honest look.

I am not here to preach to you.  I promise I will never do that… or make judgments.

Hopefully, I offer an insight or say something that is meaningful to you on your journey in this life.  And if  our journey together helps you see Christ in a new and different way… sweet.

Whether you realize it or not, I believe our paths have crossed for a reason and not by accident.

To the Christ follower: Get the hell over my saying ”Shit”.  Sorry… I just had to say it again.

It may be hard to believe but I am not a curser.  And I really understand why most of you might be offended.  I too would have been very bothered by it a few years ago.

The point I want to make is this…  for me (I am not putting this on you) …for me I love my Lord with all my heart, but was caged by the rules which kept me from a fuller and deeper relationship with Him.  Now I don’t believe that gives me a license to curse like a sailor but I also believe God is bigger than my using the “S” word.

In my time of devotions I pray for sensitivity to the Holy Spirit.  If I felt in the slightest that writing the “S” word was not pleasing to my Lord – I wouldn’t.

I believe that many Christians are trapped in religious thinking and don’t even know it.  This is much too deep of a conversation for now but somewhere on our journey I’m sure it will surface.

But I promise the same thing to you that I promised my non-Christ following friends, I am not here to put anything on you.  I promise I will never do that… or make judgments.

If I offer an insight or say something that is meaningful to you on your journey in this life… wonderful.  And who knows, maybe something will be said that causes both of us to experience Christ in a new way.

And as I said earlier, whether you realize it or not, I believe our paths have crossed for a reason and not by accident.

Hopefully I didn’t scare any of my non-Christ follower friends or scar my Christ follower friends.  Maybe I will see you on Monday.


Jan 10

Head for the Hills

Hello, me again.

Last time we decided that this is a journey of exploration not destination.  So let’s explore.

I think it would be good to first get our bearings.  It’s important to know where you are.  So we are going to the mountain to look around and get a lay of the land.  We can wander around and decide where to head to next and what dragons we want to slay.

Bumper Sticker I saw yesterday:

“Not all who wander are lost”

We will have plenty of time to go through the valleys, peek in the caves and walk the streams, but right now… off to the mountain.

So I tighten my boots, straighten my pack and off we go.  We will explore as we go.

I love to explore.  I remember as a kid the pure joy of poking around old abandoned houses or attics.  I remember one time digging all around an old farm house because legend had it that one of its occupants buried their life savings during the Great Depression.

Why is exploring so exhilarating and fun?   The DISCOVERY.

There are things that magnify the experience of exploring.  You might say they are the steroids of exploration (sorry Mark).  They are the risks of the unknown, the magnitude of the potential, and the significance of the effort.  All mixed together they create a life cocktail that can be quite intoxicating.

I know people who literally search the globe going to exotic places for a new adventures and discovery.  I have one friend who actually climbed Mt. Everest.  I am not judging this at all.  You see, adventure and discovery is a part of our emotional DNA.

“From the moment of Creation, humankind has felt the pull toward discovery.”

- Penelope Stokes

But there is a question that must be asked, and it is a hard question.   We must ask… am I doing this to fill a hole or to be whole?  So I ask myself and you… am I going on this journey to fill a hole or to be whole? They sound the same but they originate from a totally different center point.  One is out of empty need the other out of fullness expanded.

I personally do not have a hole to be filled.  But God knows that I want the full expanse of being.  I want the whole enchilada of life.  And this has nothing to do with having to experience everything there is in the world.  If anything it is the opposite.  Let me quickly say, I do enjoy experiencing new things and traveling to see the vast beauty and diversity of our world.  But being full (some people say I am full of ”it”, but that is a different topic for a different time) of life and appreciation for the simple brings a wholeness and satisfaction no specific experience can bring.

Side Note:

I know that this may be a bit confusing because as I write it I find myself cocking my head.  But I do know that there is a core truth here… an important truth to grasp.

I feel sort of like the kid who knows there’s a horse in here somewhere.  You may have to dig through the crap to find it.  But it’s there.

Also, as mentioned earlier, this is a journey of discovery not destination.  Filling a hole is a destination.  So if you’re in need of filling a hole… you might be a bit frustrated by this meandering expedition of exploration.  But you’re still more than welcome to tag along.  I always enjoy the company.  And who knows, this may be one of the pieces that leads to filling the hole.

So let’s wander around and explore as we head up the mountain.

Since I am basically pretty lazy I am not looking forward to the climb. Mountains can be very difficult.  I would much prefer a picturesque helicopter ride to the top.  But once again, if I want the full expanse of being then the easy method is not the way to get there.

As we hike up the mountain we’ll chit chat.  I have something important I need to share in my next entry.  Hopefully it won’t cause you to stop traveling with me… but for some it might.

Later… how’s next Thursday?

Jan 10

The Voice

Good morning (well… its morning somewhere)

You ready to go?  You’re probably saying, “About time!”  Yep, I agree.  It’s kinda like going on vacation, there’s a lot of prep.  Did you bring your toothbrush?

No it’s not that kind to journey.  It is the kind you do from the comfort of your home.  Pretty cool huh?  Go on an adventure without getting off your butt.   But… (no pun intended) because you are in the safety of your home, this does not mean this journey won’t be challenging, fun, difficult, and hopefully entertaining.

Anyway, my wife wouldn’t want me to go gallivanting off with a bunch of strangers to who knows where (at least without her).

OK… we are now outside the wall that has kept us trapped much too long, the big question is, where to now?  Not back… that’s for certain.

As I sit and type I am literally tilting my head back with my eyes closed.  I feel like someone who is standing outside on a cool morning drinking in the fresh smells and sounds and feeling the soft brush of the wind on the face.

“Where to now?”    Shhhhh….  I am listening for the voice.

Side Note: While I’m enjoying the pause listening, I can almost read your mind….

“What kind of kook is this?  It’s probably some out-of-shape guy sitting in front of the TV in his underwear eating cheese curls and scratching.”  (Sorry for the visual)

Just in case you are wondering…. I’m not eating cheese curls.

But does it matter if I were the fellow I just described?   What does matter is this… if something has been stirring in your core and for some reason you are intrigued about this journey thing…. Will you take the step?   Just small ones will do.  Movement is the key… NOT speed.

OK, back to the voice.

I know… I know… you’re thinking the right medication will help those voices in the head.  But these are voices of the heart and not the head.  If you want to get rid of the voices in your heart all you need to do is ignore them.  They will evaporate pretty quickly… and so does the joy of life.

After listening for a while I still don’t hear anything.  But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t get going.

Let me ask, does getting started without a clear direction or plan bother you?  Is it too loose and open ended for your liking?  When traveling I really like to have a map detailing the course to my destination.  But this is different.

Side Note: There are two types of journeys in life.

There are journeys with a destination and there are journeys of exploration.  You will have both types of journeys but it is imperative that you are clear as to the identity of each because success on either journey requires exactly the opposite process and mindset.

Destination: Has a clear end, defined path, checkpoints and usually a timeline.  The joy is reaching the goal.

Exploration: No clear path or timeline.  Instincts and circumstances determine the path and discovery the end.  The joy is the journey and discovery.

So off we go, I’m not worried going in the wrong direction.  If we should happen to explore the wrong path we’ll know.  We’ll turn around and look elsewhere for the prize.  Cool huh?

Ciao for now.

See you Monday

Jan 10

The Wall

Hi there… welcome back.

I hate to start off with bad news and be somewhat discouraging but…  we haven’t even started yet and we have our first challenge… the wall.

I finally decide to go on this adventure of discovery and wouldn’t you know, I ran smack dab into the garden wall.  Yep, and I hit it hard.  Bruised myself up a bit.

Facts about walls:

  1. They hurt when you bump into them.
  2. Everyone has them.
  3. Walls are not accidents.  Walls are intentional… built for a purpose.  They are created to keep things in or to keep things out.
  4. Here’s the scary one.  If not careful, the garden walls intended for good (protect and defend) subtly transform into the walls that trap rather than protect.  Without our knowledge we become imprisoned and we don’t realize our fate until we try to step beyond the parameter.
  5. You don’t go over or around walls… you go through them (more about that at another time).

Making the decision to step beyond the safety of the familiar is one thing, but actually taking a few steps is another.  I wrote the first two blog entries over five weeks ago and POW – I hit my wall.  The idea was to get six to ten blog entries in queue, release them on a schedule and this would allow me to get in a rhythm of writing.  Good plan huh?

What I didn’t plan on was my progress being hindered by the very walls I mentioned in the last blog entry… “what will people think?  will this be interesting? etc. etc. ad nausium.

It was easy to use the excuses such as the time consuming discipline needed to write and the commitment required to launch an ongoing blog.  Good excuses but in reality, it was the putting of my self at risk which stopped me.  I was rationalizing.

My definition of RATIONALIZE:  Rational Lies

But thank goodness, through the malaise the persistent soft piercing voice from beyond the wall (blog # 1) broke through.  I came to the realization that the fear of losing out on what is awaiting me is greater than the fear of the prison wall of what people think.  That is an awesome point of awareness.

Side Note:  Fear is an interesting paradox.  There is fear that debilitates and fear that motivates.  If not careful, fear becomes a seductive voice for non-action.

I bounced around in the confines of the wall far too long in my life.  Now that I am finally getting through my wall we can now proceed.

Ooops, I forgot… what about your walls?  Have you addressed the walls you have?

You can still walk along if you like but you’ll never really get to where you are going until you deal with your walls.  I don’t know the answer for you but I do know what I needed to do.  I needed to finally identify them for what they are.   A point of “Marking the Wall”.

This is what I needed to do.  If you are daring, I encourage you to mark your wall.  You can do it any way you want but you might want to consider posting it on the blog.  No one knows you… so think about it.

Rest well.  You’ll need it this Thursday for the next step of the journey.

Jan 10

The Direction

Howdy.  I didn’t know if you would be back.  Glad you’re here.

How’s the journey so far?  Psyche!  I’m just playin with your head.  We haven’t even started yet.

But then again I may have spoken too quickly.  Your visiting again may be a part of your journey.  I need to honor that.  Forgive me for violating rule # 1 of travel.

Rule of Travel

# 1.  Every person’s journey is different

I don’t judge yours and you don’t judge mine.  But insights and feedback are welcome.  I don’t know about you but I need all the help I can get.

We may walk on the same path for a while but we may be looking for something different and the things we encounter together will be experienced differently.  That’s the joy of having a companion.

The first decision is which direction we are going to go.  We have many choices.  But one thing is clear, I may not know what direction to go, but I do know what direction NOT to go… back toward the house.  This is a journey outward not inward.

The confines of the house are all too familiar.  I have spent too many years poking around inside trying to figure how every thing fits together and what it means.  If our focus is only inward we become trapped in an emotional cul-de-sac.

The decision to step beyond the known is a big deal.  It’s risky.  This risk is different than what you may think.  Like many, I enjoy taking risks.  I am willing to try new foods, travel to weird places, experience different types of entertainment, and my wife would say my driving is risky.

The risk that I am talking about is self.

Honestly, it is very tempting to forget the whole thing.  I sit typing on the keyboard and I don’t want the hassle or hard work.

Side note:  This blog thing is not a casual endeavor for me.  I am very serious when I say that this is a journey.  I have no idea if anyone is reading this or even cares.  But all I know is that I hear a call from beyond the wall.

I don’t know much, but this I know… there is something remarkable beyond the wall.  I realize that it will be frightening (most likely terrifying), extremely difficult, invigorating, life giving and transforming.  I am scared to death that people will think this blog is stupid, my grammar is terrible and the journey thing is ridiculous.

What makes this particularly difficult is the fact that I am not a writer.  Words do not tumble easily from my heart and head.  They struggle to find their birth on the page.  Whether they have meaning in their life is yet to be known.

The reality is… I know that I don’t have to respond to the call.  I can sit, watch TV and dull my senses to the point where the call is no longer heard and the prickly awareness that currently motivates me can be eliminated.

Even though I feel I am at risk and it’s gonna be challenging… I must go.

If you wish, join me on an adventure into the unknown.

You ready?!  In the old TV show The Cisco Kid, Cisco had a sidekick named Pancho.  His signature line whenever they were leaving was, “Let’s Went”!

So…  Let’s went… any direction but IN.

Hopefully I will see you Monday.

Jan 10

A bottle in the ocean

My first blog entry.  Weird.

I kinda feel like an obscure speck somewhere in the universe putting a message in a bottle and throwing it into the cyber sea and wondering if anyone on a distant shore will by chance catch a glimpse of it and read the scribbled message.

Apparently you have happened upon this bottle and have read this far.  What now?  You can casually toss it to the side and continue cyber surfing or does something stir your curiosity.

Something intriguing that stays your attention.

Side Note*

Have you ever noticed how odd it is that for no apparent reason something seemingly ordinary stirs something below the surface?  It touches and moves you and we don’t know why.  We sense it and we tilt our head like a dog hearing a strange noise.

Pay attention.  It’s a gift.  Hopefully the mystery draws you to explore.

*Side notes are just random thoughts that hit me in mid sentence.  So I’ll throw them in.

Back to the cyber bottle… You may be wondering about the person on the other end of the message.  Who is this lost soul in cyber space?

Well… I’m just an ordinary guy.  Nothing too special… I’m a nice person, pretty good sense of humor (albeit weird) and insecure enough to worry too much about what people think.  I feel deeply, laugh freely, and usually keep a lot inside.  Don’t ask me why, I don’t really know… I just do.

I’m getting ready for a journey.  This is not your typical trip with suitcases, tourist brochures and cheesy sunglasses.  The journey is into the unknown, beyond the self I know and this blog is primarily the vehicle.

The journey is beyond the safe confines of the walled garden of self.  The familiar, safe, cozy world I live in.  But my comfortable world has been disturbed.  Something (or someone) is calling from beyond the wall.  My head is tilted and my curiosity peaked.

I’m not sure where I’m going.  I’m just going.  All I know is that I’m supposed to go on this walk.  Don’t ask me how I know… I just know.

The stir has been deep.  Something inside wanting out.  Not aggressive… more restless.   Something slowly waking up and beginning to poke at the confines of it’s environment.  Like someone cautiously pushing on a wall in a creepy old house to determine the strength and stability.

Feeling stirred is a gift.  There is a difference between being stirred and being troubled about something.  Invite the stirring to occur.  Let it grow, let it take shape, let it push and struggle its way to the surface.  It has to come out from within; I cannot get to it from the outside.  All I can do is nurture, invite and remove the obvious barriers that limit.

All I know is that something is stirring… and that’s a good thing.

The stirring has been the catalyst for this journey.  Anyone want to join me?  It would be nice to have company but I’m content going it alone.

Maybe your first step is to tag along for a while to see what it’s about.  Maybe you’ll just pop in every now and then to see where I am.  That’s ok too.  Whatever you decide to do is fine with me.

I want to ask… have you been feeling something begin to stir from the depths?  If so, I encourage you to be a bit adventurous.

Maybe I’ll see you on Thursday.  Ciao.