Hopes and Dreams

What are my hopes and dreams for the future?

29 years.  Gone.

What has it all meant?  Where has it all gone?  Have I left my fingerprints on anything? And if so, in a good way – that brings life and growth and beauty?  Or in a detrimental way that brings destruction, confusion, fear and ugliness?

How can you really know…?

Maybe that is this fleeting feeling inside.  How do you measure life?  I mean, what reliable figure or statistic can you look at to insure the hours and days have not been wasted?  What awards or accolades can you show that mean anything at all except vain conceit?

Truly, I used to think that the only measure of success was the lives of others, unfolding in beautiful, meaningful ways… but then, you begin to wonder – what in them would measure success?  Money? Power? Prestige?  Influence?  Saving 100 lives?  1,000 lives?  1 life?

So then I began to think, perhaps this life is not about attaining some goal or success, but instead it is about enjoying the minutes as they pass.  Being fully present in each passing second, savoring it and making the most of it – for it all soon will pass away.  Then, life becomes about those around you – about my family right now.  About seeing Robin smile, making the girls laugh, and finding beauty in the world around me.  This way, it does not matter how many friends I have… or what I have done with business… or how much money I have made.  Life is simply about enjoying and experiencing those you love – giving love and receiving love.

But daily, I feel the temptation of meaning and significance.  To do something spectacular with my life – to be special, to have people envy me.  These were the temptations of Jesus, were they not?  To be important.  And yet, in those stories (the temptations in the desert), as unfolded by one of my favorite mystics, Henry Nouwen (in his book, In the Name of Jesus), Jesus resisted these temptations to be some important religious fool (when asked to turn rocks into bread), to be some vain, conceited, powerful ruler (when offered the kingdoms of the world), and to be some sideshow celebrity that everyone marvels at (when tempted to throw himself off the temple and have angels rescue him).  Instead, he entered his thirties by calling around him the rejects of society, to have them follow him from town to town, loving those around them: touching the untouchables… healing the sick…eating with outcasts… and unveiling what life is truly about.  Love.

Love. The kind of love that seeks not for itself, but truly yearns and desires for the happiness in another’s heart.  Love that wants nothing but to see a smile on the faces around them, from a need met, even if it means you don’t get the best seat in the house, or you miss out on the concert you’ve been dying to go to so you can spend time with someone in their suffering.  Love that looks beneath the surface, below the costumes and masks we wear, beneath the tattoos and peircings – to the child within.  The child that is still seeking attention, meaning, and significance.  And if we’re lucky, love finds us, and holds us, and doesn’t let go.  It leads us out of the desert of temptations, and into a simple life full of meaning and significance found only in those you love, and those who love you.

I don’t know what I believe about God.  There must be something out there.

I don’t know what I believe about Jesus being God.  I don’t know what I believe about Christian theology… but I do know this: Jesus, at his core, the guy who gives up power, celebrity, and comfort – for life in the dirt of the country side with his closest friends and family, loving all those he meets, healing and accepting them:  that is the best example of unconditional love I have ever experienced or heard of.  And it is what I am basing my life around.  To let “the spirit” lead me day in and day out, through these temptations of meaning and significance, and into a simple life where Love is the only thing that matters, and everything else grows out of love.

What does that mean? And what does that look like?

It means that I will not ignore my children.  I will work when I need to work, to provide so that we can live healthily and happily – but I will never let my work become my source of meaning and significance.  It is a means to an end.  And the end, is love – family – friends – and ultimately, everyone.

It means I will work at my marriage.  I will submit to my wife when she needs me to, and I will stand up for her and respect her.  I will pursue her and always try and make her feel special, beautiful, loved, and important.  I will do what I can to put a smile on her face and laughter on her lips.  I will work when I need to work, and watch the kids when I need to watch the kids.  I will provide a safe space for her to be herself, to complain, to cry, to laugh, to cuss, to create in her own special Robin-way. ^_^

It means I will take care of myself, because the ability to love unconditionally without becoming impatient, or angry – begins with my body.  If I am tired, I get grumpy.  If I am hungry, I easily get frustrated and angry at little things.  If I have not exercised, I have little energy to play with my girls when they are asking me to play chase or tag.  If I do not eat right, I get sick and then can not serve my family the way they need me to serve them.

So what are my hopes and dreams for the future?

The day I die, I want to look back on my life and say without a shadow of a doubt that I never wasted my time.  That I did not give into the temptations of pleasure and comfort, celebrity and popularity, power and meaning and significance.  I want to feel that people smiled because of me, and not because I was making fun of other people, but because I cared about them.  I want to see how my sweat and toil created opportunity for others to succeed and find peace in their lives.  I want to die knowing that my life was not wasted being selfish and vain – finding meaning in my intelligence or my accomplishments – finding pleasure in my toys and technology – finding pleasure in putting down others and placing myself on top.

Through all of my existential wanderings, it’s time to nail things down to tangible things that I can practice day in and day out.  No more arguing about small details that do not matter.  As cheesy as it is, and it is (thanks to DC Talk): Love is a verb.  It’s time to start love-ING.

I will be peace, not violence.

I will be safe, not angry.

I will be patient, not volatile.

I will give, and take only when given.

I will fail, but continue to write and refine.

(And I will always listen to Sigur Ros when writing, as it opens up treasure troves I never knew existed within me)

Chained to the Machines

It’s time to find the balance between technology and simple living.

Being a web designer / developer makes it really hard to completely abandon technology.  Hell, being me makes it hard to abandon technology.  I began my life being obsessed with video games to the point where I wanted to make them when I grew up.  Then I got a computer and became emerged in the world of 1’s and 0’s.  The internet especially interested me and I became a master of the inter-webs.  I always had the latest gadgets and the most powerful computer systems, and have always spent a good deal of my life staring at this brilliant light behind this glass screen.  And now it is my job to create web sites for people, which keeps me immersed in social networking and all things web related.

It’s hard to imagine life without literally everything at my fingertips.

Hungry?  Order pizza online.

Need to find that long lost friend?  Facebook.

Need to listen to that one song, what’s the name?  The word “brilliant” is in it.  Google.  Spotify.  iTunes. Found it. Bought it. Listening now.

Who are the Mayans?  Wikipedia. Oh. Now I know.

What’s an Oscillator?  Google. Oh.

It brings me back to Jesus’ words,

“What good is it to gain the whole world but forfeit your soul?”

I mean… that is what we gain through technology, right?  The world at our fingertips?  But at what cost?

When the power goes off, or my cell phone or computer battery die, and I have a moment to myself… I begin to miss life without technology.  I begin to make myself promises that consist of long walks through forests… learning a new language… reading more books… exercising more… designing a Japanese Garden and constructing it… writing music… etc.  I get so excited to make something of my life and do great things, and then I’m sucked into the time wasting powers of the computer… the cell phone… and video games.

But it’s time to seriously reevaluate this.  I don’t want to be a slave to these machines.  I don’t want to forfeit my soul.

So what is the first step?  And in which direction?

How much technology do I need to give up in order to find my soul again?  Is this even a problem or am I making more out of it than I should?  Can you have the world and your soul too?  Can I live in the “dark ages” without Google and be ok?

What if this is actually my calling and it would be silly to give it up?  I mean… I am actually very good with technology and designing / developing web sites – so why run away from it?  Perhaps I can have my soul and help others find theirs with these skills…?  Yeah. Maybe.  But I don’t think so.

The older I get, the older I get.  I begin to realize how important it is to find peace within… to slow down and to breath.  How important it is to build an environment around you that you can recharge in and find peace in so that you aren’t constantly walking on pins and needles ready to lose it at any moment.

Plus, the older I get – the more I feel a slave to things.  Caffeine.  The Internet.  Sugar.  Music Consumption.  Video Games.

I’ve always wanted to be free – to live free.  It’s time to break free from technology and live on the dark side of the moon.

Fear and Trembling

I’m pretty sure I remember being a kid.  It’s fading fast every year, though.  I remember not so long ago vowing to myself that I would never forget what it was like to be a kid and a teenager, because I felt that adults never understood what it was like and therefore treated me very unfairly because of this.  I’m not sure my opinion on that has changed, but I’m also not sure I really remember exactly what it was like to be a kid and to be a teenager!

I remember being scared as a kid.  Scared of a lot of things.  Today I either blame that on my heightened imagination or all the freaky movies I watched at probably too young of an age.  Now that Amalea (my oldest daughter) is taking swim lessons, I can remember – to a pretty late age (maybe 6th grade) – always being afraid that there were sharks in the pool… in the deep end where it was dark and cloudy.  Of course there are no sharks in pools – it is silly to even think there is.  A shark would die in a pool full of chlorine, and someone would have to A) catch the shark and B) put it in the pool.  Yes, this I now know.  But when I was a kid I was CONVINCED beyond a shadow of a doubt that there in fact MUST be sharks in pools; in the shadows that you can not see.

I remember being afraid of dinosaurs.  I had a REALLY vivid dream of a T-Rex basically ripping my house apart and my family and friends with it (and maybe me too).  It was a very hellish dream (like everything was red like there were fires burning or something) and I can remember being terrified at Disneyland going on the train that went around the park because it would go through this one exhibit where there were dinosaurs… and again… I was CONVINCED that they were going to eat me. No question about it.

I was afraid of roller coasters (didn’t go on one until I was in 6th grade, when I forced myself, alone, to go on Thunder Mountain at Disneyland – the summer of 8th grade I would get a season pass to Six Flags Magic Mountain and ride Batman, Viper, and Superman over and over and over), I was afraid of going in the ocean, I was afraid snakes (ok, I still am), and I was afraid of the dark (I had glow in the dark stars, christmas lights, stereo lights, computer screens, anything to illuminate the shadows).  Even in high school, at the outdoor school where I was a counselor and had to take the 6th graders on a night hike – I was the one that was scared!  And when I was in Africa, in a little house out in the Masai Marra (where lions and leopards live) – there was no way in hell I was leaving the room I was sleeping in to use the OUTDOOR bathroom in the middle of the night!  I nearly wet my pants – I couldn’t even crack the door open and… you know… pee out the door because I was CONVINCED that there was a lion behind the door and if I even cracked it, I was a goner.

Pathetic right?

But I think what is even more pathetic than that… is the fact that sometimes I am annoyed when my 3 year old DAUGHTER is sometimes afraid.  And I might emphasize SOMETIMES. She’s actually very brave.  But somehow, I have forgotten what it was like to be CONVINCED (it didn’t matter what adults said… they were obviously wrong) that there was danger in the darkness, or dinosaurs in the country, or I was going to fly off the tracks of a roller coaster.

I need to be more patient with my daughter – more understanding and forgiving that her imagination is REAL, and INTENSE, and in a way – outside of her control.  I need to respect her fears if I am going to help her get over them.  Besides, a little bit of fear is not a bad thing… it keeps you from burning your hand on the fire – right?

So what am I scared of today?

Psychopaths. Crazy people. I mean, really crazy people – the type that would break into your house and rape your daughters and then slice your throats.  Sure, they are out there – like maybe 1 in a million – but still – keeps me up at night.  I’m not worried about myself anymore… maybe that is what becoming a parent does to you – it releases your own fears and replaces them with a whole other set of fears for your children.  I’m afraid my children will become addicted to drugs.  I’m afraid they will have an eating disorder – or run away – or be killed in an accident.  Or less grousome fears – like that my children might be depressed, or made fun of in school, or that any punk ass boy (like myself back in the day) will break their hearts one day.  These are my fears now… and I am CONVINCED – at times – they will come true.

I need to let go of these new fears.  Ride the roller coaster of life and face them.  Realize these fears DO happen – but that I can not let them handcuff me in life; terrorize me and keep me up at night.

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” – yeah, maybe. (-:

Somewhere In-Between

Have you ever been in-between?

Not like between bases in baseball where the idea is to move from 1st to 2nd to 3rd to home and “between bases” is just a place on the way to one of those.

Not like between grades, again waiting to move to the next grade – this is what you are suppose to do, and will do whether you like it or not.

Not like between a bus and the center divider on a busy freeway in L.A. – that’s just not a good place to be, ever.

Not like between jobs, or relationships, or nannies.  That’s like looking for something to fill the gap…

I’m not sure what I mean… in-between… just, in-between.

More like in the center of a circle of chairs – any chair will do, and there are many chairs to be chosen, but which will you choose?  Or do you choose at all?  And what is outside of this circle of chairs?  Can you go there?  Is that somewhere?  Is this, center, this in-between; is this somewhere?

Because it feels like nowhere.

Right, in the center… of life.  Not a horrible place to be.

SouthEast 60th Ave

Welcome.  There was a time when I thought blogs were worthless.  I would try to have a blog and fail; try again and fail again.  Eventually, my blog become a collection of poems that I posted about twice a year.  So I decided to turn that into a poetry blog, which means, once again, I’m trying my hand at a blog.

Why?

Because I need to write.  For me. Not for you, for me. Sure, this is a public blog and you might run across it by chance and read what I write (the chances of that happening are about 1 in 6,023,837,238 – or however many web sites there are in the world), but it’s more about me getting these thoughts out of my head and onto something.  Since I can’t write very much by hand any more (it is literally hard to write more than a page because I am so accustomed to typing) this is the best way for me to process what is in my head and what is going on in my life.

So begins SouthEast 60th Ave.  The street in Portland where I lived for two years – where my youngest daughter was born – where I rekindled my love for my wife – and where I began to ask the question: What am I doing with my life?

Again, this blog is more for me than you – but perhaps in our most honest, brutal, revealing states we speak best to each other.  So bookmark this page, come back often, and comment – share your thoughts.