I am an external processor. Â I need to get my thoughts outside of my head and heart to be able to, with any sense of accuracy, decipher them. Â For my entire life, I’ve used the generous ears of others to intellectually and emotionally wrestle with myself. With this incessant, outloud-thinking, I’ve burned a bridge or two – exhausting the patience of some and fully completely running off others. Despite this disease of the mouth, my wife remains by my side and I still consider myself in the good graces of at least a handful of close friends.
For the majority of my life, I’ve been extremely insecure with my identity as a verbal processor. Â It’s not normal, at least in the, “most people don’t do this” sort of “normal test”. Â I hate burdening people with my circular thoughts and rhetorical questions. I am keenly aware of the moment a friend has “had enough” of my rambling and their eyes “gloss over” in mental exhaustion. It would be so much easier to have simpler and more focused conversations with my wife, instead of problem-solving, thought-explorative, or introspective ones.
But I’ve come to terms with this part of who I am. Â I need to let the chaos in my head and heart escape from their confines and breathe the open air of the world – if even for a few moments. I realize that having these “conversations with myself” have the potential to be damaging. Â What emerges from these sessions are often unfinished and less than fully matured. Processing externally means I will often say things I don’t mean. I will inevitably be guilty of staking claim to concepts that I haven’t had sufficient time to ponder. Â I will make responses without considering the depths and complexity of emotion or experience. Above all, I will be wrong….and often. Â But, this is how I best understand myself – through the public, yet honest exploration of what is really going on inside myself.
For so many years, I’ve dabbled with writing as a medium for this self-discovery, but have never given it the effort or applied the discipline necessary to make a real go at it. Â I wonder if it might be a more healthy way to get my thoughts out. When I verbally process my thoughts, the other person serves as a mirror, reflecting the beauty or horror of my thinking so that I may become aware of it. Â For some reason, no matter how well i thinkI understand the thoughts in my head, seeing their impact on the expression of a friend is so much more exposing. Â But perhaps the words on a page can serve me in this way. Â On the page, Â I can see the ideas as if they came from someone else. Â Once the concepts have been submitted, I can react to and judge them as if they have been somehow divorced from my possession. And then there’s the possibility that this “thinking outloud” might resonate with others who come across it and provide a sense of comfort, of challenge, or of solidarity.Â This is the most I can hope – that in the selfish need to understand myself, that someone might come to better understand themselves.
So I will try to write. I get over the hill of excuses and self-doubt. Â I will write for myself and, in doing so, hope that it extends beyond myself.
I am not a huge fan of New Year’s Resolutions.Â Behind the optimism of a resolution is the reality that it will most likely be kept.Â The cynic in me believes that the very act of defining a commitment as a “New Year’s Resolution” deem it to be a failure.
Nevertheless, I do love the freshness a new year brings and find myself naturally looking into the new year with a certain hopefulness that this time around I will be or do something I’ve been longing to, but as of yet haven’t.Â The list of things I want to do, be, or accomplish in 2010 are numerous and while i won’t list them here, I do want to define a singular New Year’s Resolution for 2010.
I want to be more conscious of the legacy I’m leaving behind.
I am much less concerned about what I accomplish in this life than how I will be known once it’s over.Â Every day I spend looking into the eyes of my children make me painfully aware that they are destined to take on the various traits, perspectives, and characteristics I model for them.Â Besides my kids, I realize that with my existence, I am able to make a mark on this planet and I desperately hope that my mark is a positive one.
With “legacy” on my mind, I realize that technology has made available an infinite amount of ways in which to document our thoughts, memories, experiences, opinions, and even our personality. I want to recognize the value of these resources to leave behind a legacy for my kids.
So in 2010, I want to make an effort to document the projects I am a part of, the ideas, thoughts , & conversations that someone might find value in, and leave a trail that will allow my great-great grandaughter to know what life was like in my shoes in this time and in this place.
*On a side note: of all the reasons to use twitter regularly, the most convincing reason (in my opinion) is the logging of thought and activity that will be able to be accessed by my family for generations to come.
I have grown to love twitter.Â It’s still seems strange when I say things like this out loud, but I love knowing what my friends (locally & globally are up to) and I love sharing with them (or whoeverelse is interested) what I’m up to.Â I have met people who live near me through twitter.Â I have learned about issues other are fighting in our city through twitter. And I’ve learned through twitter that there are plenty of people around me who love and care for Phoenix as much as I do.Â We even use twitter as a way to send out reminders and updates for communitasPHX.
I have become a twitter evangelist lately, mainly because I selfishly want to know what cool things those I care about are doing and thinking.Â But I have found it difficult to convince others to dive into to twitter.Â I am not sure why I find such hesitation.Â Most seem to view twitter as the “next fad” in social networking (it may be) and are reluctant to migrate their time, energy, and online life from facebook to twitter, just as they did from myspace to facebook not so long ago.Â Most fail though to see it’s potential to connect with new people both near and far, both of common interests and of common views.
Buddy and blogger, Jon Reid, today blogged about his discovery rediscovery of twitter through the Flight 1549 crash into the Hudson a few weeks ago.Â Twitter’s use during the crash was interesting and the most clear example yet of how twitter is much more “just like Facebook status”.Â It is becoming an instant news vehicle.Â Those who are experiencing the news (ie. inside the downed plane) can “tweet” the news via their cell phones, iphones, or pdas immediately and the world can (and does) take notice.
I’ve discovered that there is an emotional experience I feel from time to time. One in which I lose myself to an introspective and analytical spirit. Until now, I didn’t know it’s root or cause. It is a feeling I’ve known before, one in which I find some odd comfort in.
It is grief.
As dimensions of my false self crumble, I am left to deal with their death. The death of a dream, the death of a belief; today it is the death of control.
I am overwhelmed by the loss of my ability to control the whole of my life. As long as I live in community with others, I now recognize that I do not have the final say in how my story unfolds.
I must discover and come to terms with a new understanding of control. This is the grief I am experiencing.
So Black Friday has gotten completely out of control.Â As I mentioned in my earlier post, I have pledged not to buy anything today, both in protest of the animalistic insanity that is going down at retail stores all over the country and because I would rather be poked in the eye with a hot needle than to stand in line for hours waiting to get the newest gadget cheap.
I’ve had some interesting enchanges with others about the Adbusters “Buy Nothing Day” Campaign.Â Some have mentioned that in these economic times, we need to get out there and spend and this sort of campaign actually prevents the growth of our economy.Â Personally I feel that it’s overspending, the overextension of credit, and the abundance of debt that’s got us in this mess in the first place.Â I have to belive that consuming in the same ‘ole sorts of ways is NOT the best way to reverse our economic situation in the long term.Â It may provide the immediate relief that so many are desperate for, but our overconsumption as Americans is the problem and we should be cautious to use consumption as a solution.
Regardless of what we think the answer to the economic downturn is, we have to take notice of the barbarianism that we’ve created across America known as “Black Friday”.Â I become more and more uneasy as I’ve been bombarded with the commercials and emails promoting sale-after-sale and the insanely-extended hours of my local retailers.Â I cringe hearing the stories of my friends who were out and about this morning braving the lines and cold just to get an item for less than they could a day later. I don’t like this trend. I haven’t always been able to put my finger on what about it saddens me (there are many sad aspects), until today.
I ran across this story out of New York where a Wal-Mart worker was trampled to death while opening the store for Black Friday.Â Reading this story saddens and sickens me beyond comprehension.Â What have we become as a people?Â This is why we must rethink consumerism and take great care as we approach our current financial crisis.Â Possibly we need to be re-parented as a people – relearning how to balance our checkbooks, rethinking our use of credit, and asking the question, “am I really defined by what I buy?).
Update: I ran across this great post from Gizmodo.com, a technology blog that ironically focuses on gadgets and other electronics that serve as the core items in most Black Friday sales. The post is humorous, but so true.
This “Black Friday” join thousands of other worldwide in protesting the out-of-control consumerism that has become the modern-day Hallmark of Christmas. Instead of hitting the lines at pre-dawn hours or pushing and shoving to the latest “it” items, don’t buy anything this Black Friday.
Here’s how Adbusters, the org behind the campaign describe it:
Suddenly, we ran out of money and, to avoid collapse, we quickly pumped liquidity back into the system. But behind our financial crisis a much more ominous crisis looms: we are running out of natureâ€¦ fish, forests, fresh water, minerals, soil. What are we going to do when supplies of these vital resources runÂ low?
Thereâ€™s only one way to avoid the collapse of this human experiment of ours on Planet Earth: we have to consumeÂ less.
It will take a massive mindshift. You can start the ball rolling by buying nothing on November 28th. Then celebrate Christmas differently this year, and make a New Yearâ€™s resolution to change your lifestyle inÂ 2009.
Itâ€™s now orÂ never!
Here’s some more info behind the effort:
Buy Nothing Day is an informal day of protest against consumerism observed by social activists. Typically celebrated the Friday after Thanksgiving in North America and the next day internationally, in 2008 the dates will be November 28 and 29 respectively. It was founded by Vancouver artist Ted Dave and subsequently promoted by the Canadian Adbusters magazine.
The first Buy Nothing Day was organized in Vancouver in September of 1992 “as a day for society to examine the issue of over-consumption.” In 1997, it was moved to the Friday after American Thanksgiving, which is one of the top 10 busiest shopping days in the United States. Outside of North America, Buy Nothing Day is celebrated on the following Saturday. Despite controversies, Adbusters managed to advertise Buy Nothing Day on CNN, but many other major television networks declined to air their ads. Soon, campaigns started appearing in United States, the United Kingdom, Israel, Germany, New Zealand, Japan, the Netherlands, and Norway. Participation now includes more than 65 nations.
While critics of the day charge that Buy Nothing Day simply causes participants to buy the next day, Adbusters states that it “isn’t just about changing your habits for one day” but “about starting a lasting lifestyle commitment to consuming less and producing less waste.”
As the pace of life has quickened this fall and I find myself more busy and more tired than I am comfortable with, I’ve been exploring the concept of “presence” and it relates to the quest for balance.Â Presence in the idea of being available (or present) to our things, people, and commitments that fil our lives.Â For most of us, I am convinced we are truly present to little in our lives, excusing real availability to allow for the multitude of “to-do’s” that fill our lives. I am pretty sure that most marriages fail due to the emotional and physical inavailability or one (or both) spouses.Â Children grow up to be less than whole human beings ofte because mom & dad were never around, and even if they were physically there, they were often mentally and emotionally elsewhere.Â Presence demands focus and undivided attention to the people and things dearest to us.
I am finding myself haunted by the reality than I can easily be present to little in my own life.Â I can go days and sometime weeks without really making myself available to God, to Kelli, or to my kids. To fight this I am intentionally wrestling with the concept of “presence” in the days ahead.Â As we head to the coast for a few days camping on the beach, I will no doubt have plenty of time to explore how I might develop a way of life back home that is more present to the things I am committed to.Â I want to keep track of my wrestlings and my learnings here for myself and for any others who might find some creative ideas to create presence in real life helpful.Â I will tag them with “presence”
Here’s some current things that help me be more present:
to the city: riding my bike instead of driving
to God: the daily offices (morning prayer, midday prayer, & evening prayer)
to Kelli: regular nights out without the kids, weekly time to talk family, schedule, and to pray together
to my kids: creating intentional times to listen about their day, what makes them happy and what makes them sad
to myself: working out, and being aware of imbalance & stress
I am excited to tackle this idea more.Â it’s alreay clear that there are direct correlations in my life between saying “no” to things, maintaining margin in my schedule, and being present to the things and people that are most important to me.