A New Town, A New Chapter

I think I’ve been thinking about this move to Santa Cruz all wrong.

It’s hard to let go of a place that you love, and so it has been hard to let go of my time in Portland, Oregon.  Probably one of the best places I can imagine living, anywhere in the world.  The Northwest is just a different type of place.  A slower pace of life, a more earth centric way of living, friendly down-to-earth people, and unbelievable food; just to mention a few things.  I really did love it there, but we moved to Santa Cruz to be closer to family – which was a VERY good decision.

But like I said, I’ve been thinking about this all wrong.  I think, deep down, I’ve been a little bitter about having to leave Portland – but it doesn’t have to be that way.  It just depends on how I look at it.

What I realized tonight, is that now begins a new chapter in my life.  Sure it’s cliche and all to say “thus begins a new chapter” – but it’s true.  Let’s see, I can summarize the last 10 – 15 years in chapters:

  1. 1997-2001 High School
  2. 2001-2003 The Dark ages (aka, Moorpark College, travelling, and the lung collapse)
  3. 2003-2004 Azusa Pacific, transformation, Robin Dawn Harrold
  4. 2005-2008 Youth Ministry years, married life, the beginning of Parenting
  5. 2008-2011 Portland, Oregon, Web Design, more parenting
And now… a new chapter: Santa Cruz.
And I have no idea how long this chapter will be, but I know a few things:
  • I can learn a lot from my in-laws, as well as my parents
  • I will learn a lot about building things: fences, patios, play-houses, gardens, etc.
  • I can enter into my thirties, and actually become an adult that cares about adult things (like my children’s education, our communities safety, etc)
Basically it hit me… I’m in a new place, with new people, and new situations.  Rather than being bummed about that, or focusing on what I left behind… I can focus all my attention and energy on what I can learn from this period of my life.
In the last period of my life, I learned a lot about how to interact with people.  The Northwest is a great place to learn how to be hospitable, friendly, and community oriented.  I learned how things like how to shake someone’s hand, what to say when you pass a stranger on a walk, how to start a small conversation with a stranger at a store… little things that I was never taught and was always afraid of.  I grew a lot in this way in Portland.
I wonder how I will grow in this chapter…

Sunday Movie Night: Ides of March

Sunday nights are movie nights. Not for the family; that’s Friday nights. No, for me.

Not every Sunday night (I’m not that rich) but about once a month, I try and go out and catch a movie, alone. It’s a way for me to refuel, collect my thoughts, prepare for the coming week, and just relax. But it’s also a place for me to be inspired/influenced/taught.  Movies have always played that role in my life, even if my fault has always been being too gullible with Hollywood and allowing cinema to effect the way I see the world a little too much.  Movies serve a number of functions, but mainly: a source of entertainment (used to make money), propaganda (used to influence people and sell them on an idea/concept/belief), and as an open ended art form (used to inspire and stir the imagination).  There may be others, but these are the three categories I can think of now.

Some examples:

  • Entertainment: The Hangover
  • Propaganda: An Inconvenient Truth
  • Art: Koyaanisqatsi

Again, there may be more or these may be bad examples, but this is what I can think of right now.

The movie I saw on this particular Sunday night, was “The Ides of March” (with George Clooney and Ryan Gosling, among others).  Of course every movie is going to have some percentage of those categories I listed above, but I would mainly categorize this movie under Propaganda.  That’s not to say it wasn’t entertaining or art. But mainly, I think it was propaganda.

I won’t get into the movie, I don’t want to ruin it for anyone, but I do want to say this about propaganda: It’s not all bad unless you are completely unaware that it is, in fact, propaganda.

Personally, when I think of propaganda, I think of something like Nazi Germany – and the way they used art and ads and songs and film to convince people that Jews should be hated, even killed.  Definitely not the birth place of propaganda, but it stands out as a horrifying way propaganda was used for bad in the modern era the Nazi’s utilized modern mediums such as film and poster art.

But I suppose not all propaganda is bad.  I mean, advertising is, in fact, propaganda.  It is trying to convince you of something.

You NEED this car.
You will be happy IF you buy this TV.
Boys will date you IF you use this face cream.
Girls in short dresses will talk to you if you drink Bud Light.

Maybe I should not have given those examples after stating that not all propaganda is bad.  But, I suppose it will suffice to make my point.  Propaganda is only bad when you are unaware of the fact that it is (whatever IT is) in fact, propaganda – a message that is being communicated to deliberately get you to change your mind, or change your perspective on something, some person, some product, or even yourself.

When people are unaware of this fact, they may mindlessly buy into the  propaganda, which is usually aimed at their emotions, and thus results in horrible consequences, such as genocide. (that would be an extreme, and I won’t say that genocide is caused ONLY by propaganda, but you get the idea).

And what pisses me off is that propaganda is ALL AROUND us and most people are so UNAWARE of it, and in fact model their entire lives around the messages they receive from propaganda.

But here is the fascinating thing about propaganda: why does it work?  How could some commercial of a hand holding a pretty little iPhone, make me desperately want to buy one and feel worthless if I don’t have one?  How could a commercial cause me to buy something I absolutely do not need (not need, in the survival sense)?  Why are we so manipulative… or not manipulative (though that is a valid question too) but, you know, so easily manipulated?  We are like little lemmings (forgive the example if you have no idea what I’m talking about) who walk off the cliff because the person in front of us did.

I saw this video of this old Candid Camera episode (from like the 60’s or something) and they had a camera on an elevator door.  Three or four actors would walk in with one unsuspecting person.  The actors would all then immediately face the rear of the elevator – and all of these non-actors would walk in, look around, and then face the rear – not questioning it at all.

In fact, they had this one poor kid, probably in his early 20’s, come in and look around, totally confused, but wanting to not be the odd one out, so he faces the rear.  Then the actors turn, before the door closes, to the left – and the kid does too!  Then the doors open again and everyone is facing the rear again, even the kid!

I’ve seen other experiments like this too, where people do not want to be… I don’t know, wrong?  The only one NOT doing something?  Left out?

But why are we like this?

This is some people’s ENTIRE existence… to attain whatever it is they are told by whoever is doing the selling that they need to attain.

Seems so… controlling. NOT-free. Like a prison.

On the flip side, and I’ll end here, you have to at least listen to the propaganda, because like I said – it’s not all bad.  Sometimes the message is something you need to hear, or be taught.  To claim that you are an individual, in no need of instruction and teaching, is to be just as dangerous as the fool who listens and obeys, without questioning or at least contemplating what he or she has been shown or taught.