Friday, March 25, 2005

It’s a Matter of Perception

Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil. CS Lewis

Society has set aside caring about people and embraced caring only for people’s perceptions. Another words, we care more about someone’s perception of us then we care about them. There is a tendency to help people so they will think of us or see us in a certain light rather then genuinely helping them for their sake.

How did that happen… are we really that selfish?

You will notice this tendency in politics and Big Business. Politicians preach an ideal to get elected, they campaign to gain a good perception yet many promises never actually turn into action. Politicians will jump on certain issues knowing that it will promote their agenda, yet leave similar issues untouched because they are not “profitable”. Big Business advertises and hires image consultants to manage consumer’s perceptions. Imagine if all that money was actually put into making genuine happy customers. I know it is a utopian idea, but why not aim high… if you do you will get closer to a Better mark.

Now that I have pointed the finger at big business and politicians, I can’t help but realize that we have all bought into this to one degree or another. Why do I sometimes care more about what people think of me then about the flesh and bone, the very life standing in front of me? Why do I strive to control others perceptions of me, why are my efforts wasted on perceptions rather then relationship? Why not show people who you are and make a genuine effort for meaningful friendship and let the chips fall as they may…

Are we all really that insecure? Are we that afraid of getting hurt again; are we afraid of rejection or loosing control? If you’re afraid of rejection and pain, maybe a better question would be, is there really an alternative? One road is guaranteed to be lonely the other has hope, hope of something meaningful, something full of life and delight.

Education many times teaches us to control a situation to ‘handle it’, don’t ever become so smart you mistake controlling people for knowing people. They are as different as living and dieing.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Somewhere Something Went Wrong

The separation between good and bad is tiny compared to the separation between good and best.

I don’t want to live a good life. I want to live the best life! Somewhere in the past, I started accepting that ‘good’ was good enough. Think about the term ‘good enough’, it inherently says there is something better. I went and bought the nice car, nice toys and house. I have a good job. I, like most consumers buried myself in debt and all the ‘good’ things. But, it is like what Rockefeller said when asked how much money would be enough, “A little bit more” he said. Why do we think a little bit more will make us happy? We have almost all believed it at some point in our lives. The car was fun and fast but not fast enough to make me not want something more.

Here I find myself a slave to my job because I have to support my debt. I am striving and striving and all just for good enough. Simplicity seems a lost art. The ability to live simply so you can enjoy life. How did I miss it… it is… so… simple.

Once you have gone down this road, it can seem so impossible to get out. You can either accept the burden you have placed on yourself and continue the current course. The course of keeping up with the Jones’, the course of a little bit more, or you can fight! You can decide to simplify your life, live well inside of your means, get out of debt, work to support your life rather then have work be your life. I want Best, I have put another roadblock in the way of living Best but at least it has woken me up and put me back in the fight for Best.

By the time I have a wife and kids I want to have time to be a Father and a Husband. I want to have the Best life. I have noticed the Best life is not always the easiest, but why settle for less? You only live once, so why not live.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Can You Hate Failure Without Hating Life?

Have you ever noticed that the word “Happily” seems to proceed things that are not always happy. “Happily ever after”, “Happily married” or “Happily single”. Marriage may be great, but I don’t think it is a happily ever after walk in the park. That’s just a guess, all you married people can let me know if I am right. It seems to me that every good thing takes lots of work. It’s the people that are pressing forward and failing and get up and trying again that seem to actually be accomplishing something. On one hand you can call them the biggest failures in the world, because they have probably failed more then anybody else… but, that is because they have also tried more then anybody else. You could actually argue that the biggest failures in the world are the people that actually change the world.

I really don’t like to fail… especially publicly. But I am starting to realize that my fear of failure is crippling my ability to succeed. You have to risk failure to grow… a lot of times the growth comes from working through failure. It's like I said earlier, It's amazing how everything worth doing right seems so hard. But I think the reason it turns out to be right has something to do with what you learn while it is hard.

I am realizing I need to embrace the posabillity of failure and continue to press on to do and be what I am supposed to be. I am supposed to be a man of courage, I am finding courage is as much about fighting and winning battels as it is about being willing to fail. You can loose a fight and still die with Honor… it's only when you stop you actually loose.

To embracing Life I have realized I must also embrace failure.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

I Want To Like The Hard Way

It is amazing how everything worth doing right seems so hard. But I think the reason it turns out to be right has something to do with what you learn while it is hard.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

If Your Gonna Jump You Might Want To Look Where Your Gonna Land

There is a fine line between passion and stupidity. Have you ever met someone who has the “Here is my heart please break it” approach to romance? I am a huge advocate of passionate living, fighting for meaning, living the great adventure. However, throwing oneself at everything that stirs your emotions is not the same as passionate living, at least not the way I define it.

There are times in life that require faith and huge risk. Sometimes you just have to jump in not always knowing the outcome. Decisions like this should be based on core beliefs and values. Passionate living seems to be found somewhere in knowing when to do this.

Stupidity however, is modern day dating. I can’t say I have found the perfect alternative yet, but I am trying, yes, searching for the answer. Meeting someone, leading them on, falling for them before you really know who they are and then breaking their heart when you shockingly realize it is not going to work out cannot be the best way. For one, I think it should be a crime that guys are allowed to go around breaking girl’s hearts. Yet on the other hand, the way some girls play guys is downright wicked.

Taking a relationship slow is unheard of now days. Why is trying to get to know someone before you become romantically involved so crazy? It seems to me that most people become romantically involved by the 3rd or 4th date now days if not sooner. You’re telling me you actually think you know that person after three dates! You’re crazy. Why are we surprised when two months later we feel like we had our heart ripped out by someone we thought we loved? Can you really even blame the other person… they were just being who they are. It just hurts you cause they didn't become who you thought they were. There has to be a better way…

I think the answer lies somewhere in taking it slow and actually caring about the other person whether you end up with them or not. You have to set out wanting to protect your heart and the other parties from the beginning. You actually have to be a friend and get to know them, before you charge into a romantic relationship. I have talked to guys before that recently ‘met a girl’.

Me: “So are you guys dating, are you together”.
Boy: “Well, umm, no, I don’t think so, No not yet”.
Me: “Have you kissed her yet”?
Boy: “Well yah, of course”
Me: “but you’re not together”
Boy: “Well I don’t know… but I really like her”
Me: “I bet she is starting to not like you and get a little confused!”
Boy: “Why? I really do like her.”

We need to get a clue! This is not working people, we need to try something different. I am tired of guys leading a girl on and then breaking her heart. I am tired of broken hearts. We actually need to plan a little before we jump, think a little before we pursue love. I don’t think this will steal the passion, I think it could actually enhance it. Imagine knowing someone cared about you enough to protect you before you had a romantic relationship… now that might be someone worth pursuing…

Just a thought.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

The Commercial Said It Was Good For Me...

If you haven't noticed I have been on a little bit of a soap box lately about Perscription Drugs in the US. My fellow blogger Bynary sent me this link and I thought it was worth a laugh. Brought to you by the great guys over at Jib Jab.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Where Have All The Heroes Gone?

I think a hero is someone that lives for something bigger then themselves. Someone that would rather die then accept the jaded version of life that the world has to offer. I have a few modern day heroes, sometimes they are hard to notice but they are out there.

There are a couple guys at my work that have been married for a few years and I have never heard them complain about there wives. That is so rare… they are small heroes of mine.

My big sister is a hero of mine. She will be 25 in May. She is on a combat rescue team in the Air force. She flies in and bails out the marines when they are being shot at. I have seen her take down a 220-pound guy in submission fighting. She weighs 120 pounds. That is not why I think she is a hero though. She does everything she needs to do to be the best at her job she can possibly be. She is a perfect soldier yet an awesome wife. I think she could kill most people in under 15 secs, but when she is around her husband, she is an absolute girlie girl. They have spent about 8-9 months together in the three years that they have been married. Her husband has already went to Afghanistan and come back and she is scheduled for deployment. She believes in what she is doing and she has no problem dying doing it. Whether you agree with the war or not the commitment is admirable. She and her husband have both given up a lot to do something they believe in.

My big sister’s husband is in the Army. While he was in Afghanistan he started a Starbucks so the troops wouldn’t feel so far from home. They ended up making a lot of money off of the coffee so they donated all of it to children’s schools in Afghanistan. He also is in the process of completing a documentary on being in Afghanistan for a year. It starts from boot camp all the way to when they went home. Check out some of his short films from Afganistan here.

My little sister is another hero of mine. She is 20. About a year ago, she decided to go to India and teach for free. A little after she made the decision, she met a guy that was awesome. I drove down from Idaho to Cali to check this guy out and make sure he was Ok (I am the big brother I think this is part of my job). I thought he was great and they started dating and defiantly fell in love. Despite this she still followed through with her plans, she is in India right now and has about ten months left. She also believes in what she is doing and was willing to give up what she wanted at the time for something bigger then herself.

Another hero of mine is my little brother. He is 18. In the past year and a half, he spent a month in India and a month in Africa working at an aids orphanage. He saved all the money for the trips himself and is pretty sure he wants to do work like that for the rest of his life when he graduates. He has two bands and is a really skilled musician. He is only 18 yet is so focused on helping people. He is one of the least judgmental people I know. He will hang out with anyone and especially the people that are actually needy. You know the people we all avoid because they are annoying or they don’t fit our "click profile". He is only 18 yet he has caught a vision for something bigger then himself.

I couldn’t end this post without mentioning my youngest sister. She is in the middle of high school. Remember how that was, peer pressure, pure insanity, everyone trying to figure out who they are. Yet in the middle of that, she has not become jaded and lost her identity to the cool, hopeless, skeptic that is most high schoolers. Sure she has flirted with it, at times becoming jaded, but has fought back each time to a place of clarity, a place of hope.

I have a few heroes, they don’t always look like heroes but I think that is because they are fighting. Sometimes you win sometimes you loose, a hero just fights until he wins or dies.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Let's All Do Drugs II (The Drugging of Another Nation)

Hooked on heroin? Let the government pay for your fix… In a previous post, I talked about how we have become a nation hooked on a quick fix. Many times, we use Pharmaceutical Drugs to enable us to cope with an unhealthy lifestyle. Well, not only can you get pharmaceutical drugs, now, in Canada, you can get a heroin fix from the government! They have an 8 million dollar government sponsored drug pushing program running in Vancouver. There is an article about it here.

I really don’t follow the logic. I have a couple of friends that had parents that were hooked on heroin and I would have really been mad if the government was contributing to this in anyway. Is this a “if you can’t beat em, join em” kinda thing? I wonder where they’re getting the drugs? Are they redistributing drugs they took from “bad guys” or are they just buying it from Columbia like all the other criminals?

Wait! I have an idea let’s just give robbers money so they won’t want to rob banks. Or, we could buy children from Indonesia and give them to child molesters so they won’t mess with other people’s kids…

Is this a really bad idea or am I going crazy?

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

What Where They Thinking?

Have you ever noticed that some people are missing the part of their brain that says, ‘This is a bad idea!’. (If you don't know what I am talking about read the Darwin Awards.)

THese guys were almost Darwin material, they tried to go through one of the caves I was at this weekend. The big cave takes anywhere from 30 min to an hour depending on how well you know the way through it. Well, these guys brought a few flashlights and went in. they got lost and all their lights ended up going out. They were stuck in there for a day and a half! Luckily, someone saw there truck parked on the hill two days in a row and called the police. Search and rescue went in and bailed them out. I bet they never make that mistake again. Why not take Headlamps that last 60 hours and extra batteries...? Too much work I guess.

Some other people who went caving thought it would be a good idea to go about 80 feet underground in a small cave and then start a camp fire and consume large amounts of beer. This is no ordinary cave either, to get through it, you have to do a lot of rock climbing, and it is complicated and easy to get lost. They smoked out a couple of other cavers and they always leave all their trash in the cave. Yuck. Who planned that and actually thought it was a good idea?

There were these other guys that where trying to climb a granite wall with absolutely no climbing gear and just in case that wasn’t dangerous enough it was slightly raining. One guy broke his neck and the other stayed with him all day and all night instead of going and getting help. It dropped to about 25 degrees F. that night. Luckily, they made it through the night and where airlifted out the next day when a hiker found them. I saw them get airlifted out, they were about a half mile to a mile away from several campers. Aren't you suppossed to go for help? Aren't you suppossed to climb 700 ft cliffs with gear?

All three of these stories happened here in Idaho where I go caving and climbing. What were these people thinking…? I guess they weren’t.

These locals have nothing on these crazy guys! Check this, this and this out. Amazing, absolutely amazing.

(The links go to short videos, they are not viruses and do not contain adult content)

Monday, March 07, 2005

Playing Instructions For Adults That Forgot How…

I am sitting in my cubicle and I can’t see anything but walls. I can feel that it is a nice spring day outside but I can’t see it. I can smell it, I can even go on the web and look at a weather cam of it, yet I cannot go out and play.

Yesterday, I played football for about three hours and then went caving for about five hours. It was a beautiful day. I have told you about our football games before so I won’t bore you. But, caving is a whole new animal. Have you ever gone through such a small cave that you had to lay down and army crawl through it? How about one so tight that you get stuck and you have to actually exhale to squeeze your chest through? By the way, your birth does not count… Caving or spelunking, is really fun, it is a whole mix of rock climbing and crawling and exploring. I highly recommend it.

It is funny how there is this huge world outside our door (or cubicle) to explore and enjoy that has been traded for entertainment. Have we resorted to watching a movie of adventure and passion to feel passion, to watching life but never living it? Have we forgotten how to go outside and take delight in the world around us, or have we substituted comfort for delight?

Caving and climbing may not be your thing, but how about walking, hiking or just watching the stars. I saw a commercial on TV the other day that was telling families to go ride there bikes or play some outside games for exercise. It seems a little sad our TVs have to tell us this… Something is very wrong. Go outside and play! I know, I sound like a little kid, But, when it comes to things like this, I hope I always sound like a kid.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Lets all do Drugs! (The Drugging of a Nation)

Since society has accepted the fact that we need to be stressed out, career minded individuals that eat horribly and rarely exercise, they have also accepted that truckloads of prescription drugs need to be taken to combat the new challenges of our life style.

The top 20 Pharmaceutical Companies made over $240 billion dollars in 2000. To put that in perspective, the "War on Terror" has only cost $152 billion dollars so far. How do they make so much money? Merck a leading Pharmaceutical company made 2.2 billion dollars off of Vioxx the first year it was on the market. It was later taken off the market because it was found to be harmful (more on this below). Zoloft a leading antidepressant drug that is regularly advertised on TV made over 2.1 billion dollars in 2000. This is hard to imagine! Think of all the Tsunami victims in Indonesia, India and Sri Lanka, do you think any of them are on antidepressants since they lost everything from family members to homes and jobs? Do prescription drugs really need to be recommended to you by a cheesy commercial? I thought that was a doctor or psychiatrists job.

Whether we should be taking these pills or not seems a forgotten question? Americans are taking pills by the millions. There are a few things we should consider about the drugs that society has so freely accepted as the answer to their lifestyle. I think the question of why do others make it without them is a valid question. Another would be what do these drugs really do to me? I read in the New York Times that Vioxx was taken off the market due to complications it caused its users, then after review it was put back on the market by a FDA Committee that had 10 voters with Pharmaceutical ties! With out their votes neither Vioxx, Celebrex nor Bextra would be back on the market. Keep in mind these are all drugs that make over $2 Billion a year. After the committee voted Pfizer and Merck's stock soared. Read the article it is rather scary Here.

I understand some of these drugs are necessary and some people have valid reasons for taking them. I am more addressing the issue of a money driven industry that is supposed to be a health focused industry. We have to stop treating the symptoms and start addressing the problems. We have to stop caring about stock prices and money more then the wellbeing of the people we are supposed to be helping.

I would be scared to take these drugs. But, don't worry the government says they're fine. Doesn't a healthy diet, regular exercise and a family orientated life make more sense then a stressed out, pill filled, career driven life?

I know, I know... I'm crazy.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Searching For The Perfect Distraction

Are we all just looking for the perfect distraction? Society tells us to go to school. After school, society tells us that we will get a career that is fulfilling and causes us to be happy. Why do we believe this? If we’re not happy where were at, why kid ourselves that we will be happy when we have the 'Perfect Career'. There is only one thing that I can see as the perfect career and that is if it is the 'Perfect Distraction'. If we’re looking for a career to complete us it would have to be one hell of a distraction, it would have to consume us... because, if it didn't, when we were alone and not busy we would realize we forgot about life.

A survey in a USA Today article says only 50% of Americans are satisfied with their job and out of that 50% only 14% are very satisfied. In another survey 80% of workers say they experience stress on the job and half of those say they need help in learning how to handle it. 14% of workers have felt like striking a coworker and 25% have felt like screaming or shouting due to stress. 10% are concerned about an individual at work they fear could become violent. 9% are aware of an assault or violent act in their workplace and 18% had experienced some sort of threat or verbal intimidation in the past year.

So basically there is a 14% chance you will be really happy, an 80% chance you will be stressed out, 1 out of 4 of us is going to feel like screaming at his coworker, 1 out of 5 of us will be threatened and 1 out of 10 of us will work in fear another coworker is going to go postal. Somehow, this doesn’t sound like the makings of a life. If your job and career is all you have then good luck.

Once again, I am not saying there is anything wrong with working and school and careers. There just has to be a difference between searching for life and searching for the Perfect Distraction. There has to be a difference between having a job that is my life and having a job to support my Life.

Maybe I'm just beating a dead horse...

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Wanted: A Wife That Won’t Hate Me

I have spent my very short life trying to figure out what it means to be a Man and what Life is about. I have come to some conclusions but do not claim to be any kind of expert. One thing that has become very plain to me is that I may know a little about these other subjects but I know very little about the Ladies.

I can’t seem to figure a few things out.

Girls nowadays are taught to be independent to survive on their own. Yet somehow, they are supposed to get married some day. Most women say a guy is supposed to be a leader but they are raised to not follow a leader. They are raised to survive on their own. If you lead you’re sexist if you don’t you’re spineless.

Girls are taught that they don’t need a guy. I am no supporter of the barefoot and pregnant wife in the kitchen scenario but I do believe a Girl needs a guy like a guy needs a girl. Why does a guy’s protection or provision invalidate a man and woman’s equality? I don’t think that it does but I have met many people that do.

Studies have shown that dual income families are usually loosing money or breaking even with all the extra expenses. Studies have also shown that dual income families lack a lot of necessary parenting. I don’t want daycare to raise my kids. I understand that with lots of people, they have no choice, but I am just in the planning and thinking stage. The problem is everyone says it is sexist to want a wife that stays home. On the other hand, if you let your wife work and you are a stay home dad you are also a looser. How can you win?

Studies from around the 1940’s said the biggest problems in school was chewing gum and talking now it is drugs, violent crimes, and teen pregnancy. This seems to be a direct result of the breakdown in modern day families. The biggest difference between now and then is that women work now. Once again we are faced with the dilemma, if you say women shouldn’t work you’re sexist and wrong.

I don’t get it, there has to be a balance. There has to be a way for a woman to realize that whether she is working a highly paid and respected job or staying home with kids that both jobs are just as important. Why do women feel that taking care of kids doesn’t count? I had four brothers and sisters and I think my mom had one of the hardest most respected jobs in the world.

Is independence really a value we should be teaching anyone? We are after all, people on this earth living together. The only way to improve this world seems to be through relationship and love. How does independence factor into that?

Am I saying that women shouldn’t work…? No. Am I saying women should have to rely on a man for everything…? No. I just know that I want to have a family… not an independent wife, an out of touch dad, and 2.5 independent kids. How do you do this now days without violating somebody’s rights. Why does it seem like in order to respect a woman I can't have anything to offer her?