Reinvention

People are always talking about changing themselves. They seem discontent with who they are and want to “reinvent” themselves. They go out and get a new haircut or a new wardrobe, they lose certain friends or go on fad diets. Constant change is seen as a good thing, but is it really?

I have spent many years of my life trying to be other people. I let others dictate my moods, my likes, my diet, and even my thoughts and beliefs. Mine is a super sympathetic personality. I mimic. To a fault.

So when I started trying to change that fault of mine the first inclination was to reinvent the wheel and become a whole new me. Reinvention never happened though. Not only is it hard to change old habits, it’s impossible to deny personality traits and innate passions.

There are things that I like that I had spent a ton of energy trying not to like or denying that I liked them out of embarrassment. I was trying to please other people by denying my own tastes. Honestly it makes no sense why I did that, except that I can be very insecure sometimes.

Some people want to reinvent the wheel. But the wheel doesn’t need reinventing. You can’t find something to replace the basic design, it’s already functional enough.

Although you can’t reinvent the wheel, you can improve: You can add rubber tread and a motor, or cogs and a chain, or a belt and a series of wheels. You can make the wheel do what you need it to do.

You can’t easily change your personality, or your tastes. But like the wheel you can make them work in your favor. You can embrace them and run with them.

That’s what I hope to do in the next few months. Perhaps you’ll be seeing some changes around here. Stay tuned!

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Dailyish Thoughts #88

They say when it rains it pours. For once I would like both of my cars to be operating correctly at the same time. They have gotten to the point where maintenance is more than just changing the oil. Now it’s brake pads and rotors and calipers and sensors and filters and pumps and belts and radiators and alternators… All while the rest of the bills are still begging to be paid.

Life hasn’t gone as smoothly as I hoped it would. As a natural pessimist who has been working on his positivity recent predicaments haven’t exactly helped boost confidence. It’s practically impossible to be an optimist when nothing you work on seems to turn out right.

I know this isn’t a happy post. Blog posts are supposed to be uplifting and make the reader feel better about life. Well. I’m a realist. Sometimes life is hard. Sometimes I have horrible days. I don’t want my site to be nothing but sunshine and roses because that’s fake. I don’t like lying to people, when things are good they are good, when they are bad they are bad.

Today wasn’t all bad. The kids had a ton of fun harvesting candy from the local neighborhood. For the first in a long time I was able to smile genuinely at their happiness. Seeing them happy and excited makes me genuinely happy.

Hansel (he’s so hot right now), the youngest Gryffindor student, and a punk faerie.

Perhaps tomorrow will go better, Lord willing.

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The Groans of Settling

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Staring at a mountain of mess is not something you want to do when you come home. It’s even worse when it hasn’t been home for half a year. Those million annoyances I mentioned the other day make settling back into life much much more difficult than it ought to be.

In my head I had left the house much cleaner. I worked really hard the couple weeks before we left to get it ready. But when we walked in it was just scary. The way this house looked when we walked in is just another indicator that stress makes hard work far less efficient. Apparently I had just spun my wheels in February and March. Sure, I fixed the broken truck (this is beginning to sound like a broken record), but I let other things slide.

The best part of returning here is that after six months so much of this stuff has lost it’s usefulness to me. I haven’t seen it or touched it or used it in half a year. Why do I really need it? How much of our junk do we just keep because “one day” we might find use for it again? I have realized that is a very pauperish thing to do. Poor people keep things and re-use things almost compulsively. This is not wrong, when the situation calls for it. But when you have the resources to replace broken things or pass along unused things without having to “worry” about replacing them later, you should. I have not used so much of this stuff, why hang on to it when I can give it to someone who can, and if I need it later simply replace it?

Emotions are fickle also. I said I liked it out there and wasn’t so sure of here. But now that I am here I am not so sure. There are advantages to having the grocery store two miles away. There are also disadvantages to having fast food and shopping so close. There are temptations galore!

The biggest question right now is this: Is this vacation or is this life? when you spend equal time in different places it almost feels like you take on two different lives. We have different friends, different activities, different styles. It almost feels like we are entirely different people out there.

Settling in to a “new” place takes time. I’m still not sure this is home or not. But for now it will have to do.

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Home

A garden perhaps?

What makes a home a home?

For some it’s the noise of children, laughter, a crowd of family and the bustle of life. For others it’s smells: food cooking, trees and flowers, clean linens on a line.

For me?

I don’t know.

I’m on the precipice of moving back to the place that I called home for nearly ten years. But it doesn’t feel like I am headed home.

There is much I love about that place. There are people that I love, places that I love, and since driving Uber and delivery my intimacy with the city has grown. I know it in and out and I find every corner special in its own way. And the opportunities! Such a massive place with so many people and so many corners, there is food, nightlife, art, music, shopping, and jobs galore!

Yet, it still lacks something.

The place I grew up has long ago lost its “home” feeling, despite the family and friends that I have there. As soon as I left, the whole area changed. I get lost there now. I can’t stand the weather. The traffic is unbearable. There is a rush and a bustle which I have long since lost my stomach for.

Here? This is probably the only place I have ever been where no one says they want to leave. I have met more people and gotten to know them in the past six months than I ever have anywhere I have lived. The community here makes this place feel like home. For the first time in my life I feel like I am in a place where I can know and be known.

Of course I am conflicted. We have no physical home here like we do in Florida. Despite feeling home here I have yet to feel settled. But going back there for a season isn’t exactly settled. Back and forth is flux. And my mind is not good with flux.

But moving is change. And my mind is not big on change either.

And family? We have gotten accustomed to 700 miles away from them. This would be nearly 2,000. That’s hardly a short trip, and a family of seven can’t just hop on a plane easily, not with the cost of tickets these days.

So is this home? Could this be home? Am I just so unsettled I’m desperate to call something “home”?

I hope to find out the answers to those questions in the next few months.

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Honesty

How honest are you? In real life? In social media? Would the people who know you be surprised if you did something shocking?

Back in the day when someone went off and committed some horrid thing you would see the neighbors saying things like “He was always a little strange, but we never saw this coming.” Now that we have social media the circle of people who “never saw it coming” has grown.

And the ability to sugar coat has gotten easier.

Not only have we gotten better at hiding the bad, we have gotten better at exaggerating the good. When a man flies off the handle and kills his wife and children, we look back at their posts and say “but they had such a great marriage!” We look at smiling pictures of those who commit suicide and wonder where the problems were hiding.

So how honest are you? How much do you show the warts in your life? How much do you confide in real people? How much do you share with virtual people? How much do you exaggerate the good? Would your friends and neighbors on and offline be shocked if you did something tragic?

Why do people hide behind positive posts and perfectly filtered pictures? Are they afraid people might know their secrets? It’s easier to hide secrets now that we can bury them under a facade of beauty. It’s no longer just “he was a quiet guy”, now it’s “he really seemed to have it together.”

It is my goal here and elsewhere to be honest and open. I don’t ever want to sugarcoat my situation. If I ever seem too optimistic, call me out on it. If you ever need to confide something, I’m here.

The last thing we need is to be all over the news with our friends and neighbors surprised that our lives were really not so great.

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Not There

I’m not where I want to be.

This might come as a surprise to most of you.

Or not.

Maybe you have guessed that I am a bit restless in my current situation. Maybe you suspect that I am merely living a lie and will eventually give it up and go back to my old way of life.

I don’t want to go back.

I left a career of nearly ten years to go do something else that I loved. Then I left that after two years to give my wife an opportunity to do something I knew that she would love (and I wasn’t wrong). But am I doing what I love?

Yes and no.

I love being with my kids. I love teaching them and talking to them and watching them become great little people.

But sometimes they are real jerks. Sometimes I get tired of being around them. Frequently I feel like I fail them on so many levels. But I love them. So yes. I love what I do.

But.

I need adult interaction. And more than just the superficial internet interactions. The presence of people is a balm for my anxiety and loneliness. There are times when being around the kids perks up my spirit, but they are the takers in the relationship. Adults give and take, the dynamics are different. Right now where I am I do not get the kind of adult interaction I need.

I have dreams and goals. But I never think I am good enough. I am always the contingency guy. I have a goal, I assume right off the bat that I won’t get to it, so I automatically search for all the secondary plans.

Where do people get their optimism? How does one make a goal and dream and actually think themselves good enough to get them? How do they take control of their lives and make the things they want happen?

Or do they? Do people ever actually get what they want? Or am I just watching too many movies? I swear I see people out there on blogs and Facebook and elsewhere living the lives that they want. Surely there is something flawed in their life, something they don’t like, something that is not quite right.

How do they live joyously despite those things? How are they successful in jumping past those kinds of problems and focusing instead on the good things, the successes?

The simple answer is that they aren’t. Everyone has struggles. No one is arrived 100%. Some people are just better at displays than others. They are simply good at social media.

Or perhaps they really are hopeful. Some people are just optimists. They do a good job at seeing the good and understand the best way to make those good things happen is focused work towards them.

So the answer to getting where I want is simply focused discipline? Make an effort to get adult time? Focus on the good goals and spend a little less time on contingency?

Time will tell.

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MAAM, July 30, 2018: Art as Escapism

I want to go to there…

What is it about art, photography, and to some extent music that makes it so enticing? Why do we like to look at pretty things? Why do we seek it out and pay tons of money for images?

If I was to answer that I would have to say that I am an escapist. The reason I collect and create so many images is that I like to look back at them and put myself in that space and that time.

Images create an imaginary world where I can fill in blanks and put myself there. They can transport me back to a time that my mind can idealize. They can put me in a place where I have never been but want to be.

It isn’t just art, it’s imagery in general. I love historic pictures as well for many of the same reasons. Even other people’s vacation photos aren’t immune to my idealization.

I can’t speak for everyone, but I imagine many if not most people are like me if they examined their reasons for appreciating art.

Is it wrong?

I don’t think so. I don’t think there is anything inherently wrong with imagining ourselves in other places and times. If it were we should avoid fiction books and movies altogether. We utilize things like art and books and movies to make us happy, teach us life lessons, and to make life that much better.

But can it be wrong?

Yes, if we are consumed by our imagination. If we obsess over images and the worlds they place us in they can become an addiction. Those places will seek to usurp reality and rob us of contentment. They will become idols and push us away from God.

Anything enjoyable can become destructive if overindulged, art included. That is why we must be careful to balance the beauty of fantasy with the often ugly reality.

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