12 November 2017

Find the joy in life....

So I bought a new desktop computer in order to be able to return to my stream of consciousness blog posting without my laptop overheating and shutting down unpredictably. Nonetheless, after three months this is literally the first time that I have finally sat down to write something. It is amazing how quickly life takes off and leaves you with little time to devote to your passions unless you specifically allocate the time for them.

Such has been the thrust of my thinking of late. My latest employ has brought me into contact with many small business owners, who ostensibly follow their passions to the fullest, turning them into their primary source of breadwinning. Many are positive about their ventures, extolling their gratitude for how fortunate they have been to have built such a business, and yet others focus more specifically on the great deal of time and dedication that they have spent in building their enterprise. One even went so far as to declare that the income of a business owner may never even reach that of an employee, depending on the company or business, taking into account all of the benefits and vacation time that a typical company offers the typical employee.

Still, I am not completely sold one way or another. I firmly believe that each one us has a passion in this life, discovered or still hidden in the rough. Each one of our life journey guides us either closer to or farther from that which we love in the deepest part of our inmost self. It is to us to read the guideposts or comprehend the signs along the way, and follow them to the place of our greatest joy.

Think about it. What brings you joy in life? When do you feel most alive?

My answer to this question would bring me to discuss several aspects of my life. I love language and the interplay that it creates among individuals and the development of culture that it stimulates. I love volleyball and its interdependency and the positive community that it invariably creates in every area I have encountered it. I love my wife, the family that we have built, and the welcoming, warm environment that we have been able to build, and into which we invite others and extend to the other parts of our respective families.

I love exercise and movement. I love spontaneity and feeling unconstrained by the conventions and norms that govern our society. Countercultural, unrestrained, fearless, open and opinionated; any of these could describe me at different points in my life, and I have not always enjoyed every moment.

I feel most free, and the most joy when I can be who I am in the deepest part of me, and still feel loved.

I also enjoy working with my hands. I have learned that this is more crucial to my passion and joy than I ever could have imagined. I enjoy touch, and it is the strongest amongst my love languages, and thus I suppose that it should not surprise me that this should be integral to the work that I seek. Interestingly enough however, I only now came to think about how important this might be. Like my father, I too enjoy working outside and so thus, maybe it would make sense for me to pick up what he does and take it to the next level? I don't know. I have long shied away from anything remotely tying me to my hometown and family, but perhaps therein lies the answer. This would not mean that I would have to conduct business in Rockford, but could take the industry anywhere I want.

18 March 2017

What is life?

Uncertainty I daresay is my greatest nemesis. I have always desired to know for sure, ever since I was a little kid. I looked to everyone else to tell me what's right and what's wrong; good and bad. But following childhood we are thrust into a world in which we are already supposed to know these things. Even if we spent our entire childhoods following someone else's directions, now, of a sudden, we are supposed and expected to know exactly what we want to do for the rest of our lives. Fortunately the United States education system does allow some latitude for us to "figure things out," however I do not know how good this is either. All this to say that I don't know what I want to do. Life seems ever a tension between what is right in front of me and what I am supposed to be doing. Goals are good, but if your mind is limiting you to do what's "right," and you don't really know what that is, how in the world are you supposed to set goals? Yes we can work, and save and build a family, develop a life, find the love of that life, and build something greater together, and yet in all of that are we not just simply following the framework of many years past? Simply repeating history? There is nothing new under the sun, so what are we living for? Certainly not to create new things, do new things, it's all been done before. The context changes, people change, technology "improves," and yet we are just as much people as Adam and Eve and those who witnessed every epoch that life has been in existence. So what do we do with our lives? Work must definitely play a part, and allow us to live in this world, however should it be the prime focus? And what about success, wealth, fame, beauty, all of the things that so many of us spend our whole lives trying to attain. Or is life meant simply for spending, even wasting; obeying the hedonist pleasure principle that we must get all that we can with the limited time that we have. None of these do it for me. Ever before and ever anon there will be that void inside that assures me that there is something more; something greater; something that I of my own free will and volition cannot fill up, cannot satisfy, can only hope to learn more about and then allow to be filled. There are experiences in life that approximate the fullness I seek, but they are often short-lived and would coincide with events promoted by a more hedonistic, or pleasure-driven approach to life. What do I want from this life? There are few things that I want and need, and perhaps for this reason do I run so fast, and attempt to avoid the deeper questions in life. There was a time when I would have indulged myself and pondered these to the n-th degree, wondering, daydreaming, seeking, and to the end that I found some vestige of tranquility in that all things are uncertain in this life in which we live and make our existence. What are the deeper questions in life? How well can I distract myself from reality? How long till I next get drunk? How many days left until the weekend? How soon do I get to see my girlfriend/boyfriend/long-lost friend? I think that we can create our own needs, and dare I say even exaggerate them and allow them to monopolize our time and energy. I am no expert, theologian, philosopher, or genius, but I propose that some of the deeper questions in life are as follows: 1. Who am I? 2. How did I get here? 3. What is my purpose? 4. Who do I love? 5. What do I believe in? 6. What do I want to do with my gifts and talents in the short amount of time that I have been given to be a part of this world? If I can answer just a few of these questions, I will have begun to discover what it means to live!

Musings...about life and passion...

What constitutes passion? For which do we live: that which brings fire to our breast or bread to our table? Can these be one and the same? How does one fit family, socialization, vacation; in short all of the modern constructs into the temporal limitations of a single life? And what if these two coincide? Does this facilitate or exacerbate the issues described above.

Time is of a limited quantity for each one of us, hence lending preciousness to each of the microseconds in which we live and breathe and move, and yet there is at times a desperation that tugs at the heart, inquiring as to whether we have well used the time with which we have been endowed. For me, at times there seems to exist a hard polemic between what we want to and what we believe we should do with these lives of which we are the undeserving and at times unaware beneficiaries. Certainly once said life has been ordained we have the right to live it, however the question comes down to how we live it. How shall we spend the time we have been given. And this lies at the heart of what catapults my mind to a million possibilities on a daily basis.

Work is a necessary part of our daily lives. Modern America would seem to have removed a certain level of responsibility from the worker, and on the contrary imputed a great deal of responsibility on the employer, such that the work itself takes on less focus than the associated benefits, salary, and time off of the employment in question. I would venture that not long ago, these questions would never have entered the minds of those setting off to work. Their concerns lie in securing employment and in doing everything necessary to maintain it, in order to in turn maintain their families. I may even go so far as to suggest that they sought more immediately what it was they truly enjoyed, or phrased differently, followed their respective passions.

Now it would at times seem that we are rather out for all that we can get as far as the fringe benefits and options are concerned, and worry little for what lies at the heart of the labor we undertake in exchange. Much to my own peril, I do at times fear, for something in the heart of me will not rest in these conditions. Be it that I choose a field completely unrelated to the course of study I chose, or even a type of employment that for some particular reason society would consider me to be above, I will give it my best all, until such time as I see that it does not give back to me in the same measure.

In the perception of a thirty-something, oft-employed and seldom fulfilled professional, employee, and coach, I believe that our work must always return to us at least as much as we put into it. Perhaps ironically, this has little to do with the associated pay involved. As long as there is enough to support the life that we live, this particular requirement has been fulfilled and should stop here. I can name off a dozen jobs I have performed for a lot less than the one I have now, where I have had triple the sense of fulfillment.

Is it enough to love your job? Perhaps, but does it also challenge you? Thrust you forward to develop some other part of you that up to this point in your life you have not known? These are the requirements I have for the jobs that I undertake, and as such, perhaps it is not surprising that I have found few that have answered in all that I have asked of them.

Even still, there is the utilitarian aspect of the work that we do. What purpose does it serve? To bring bread to the table and financially support and enable the lives that we lead. Just about any job position can fill this order....especially in the age of the minimum wage. But this does not get to the heart of what it means to discover passion and make it a part of our every day lives. Oh how I wish that I could find such a place to discharge my skills and abilities in a way that would reward the world with my own particular brand of genius.

Genius though, innate or learned? This is an intriguing question to be explored in more detail. Are we all geniuses, inherently capable of bestowing some new knowledge or facilitating some new discovery for the world? One might be so audacious as to say yes, and in so stating clarify that a majority of the world does not exercise their gifts and talents for fear of the very world in which they have been born and live. Those who truly exhibit the genius bestowed upon them are those uninhibited by the fear of judgment by those around them, or what might happen, or what might not happen, or what might have been.

Where do I fall? Somewhere in the mix. From the time of my childhood, I have never quite known my place in the world; and then at some point I came to the startling realization that I am entitled to no place, rather I must make my own place and move forward from there. I think I still find myself limited by this understanding, afraid of what I may or may not achieve if I take said action. Of the few certainties I can put forth, are a passion for language and the human person. A deep understanding of others and a desire to see them succeed. Perhaps these are what I need to fixate on in order to discover the place where my gifts and talents meets the world's needs. The mythical sweet spot, where man finds fulfillment and the world and those around him reap the benefits of a man truly and fully living out his purpose in life.

01 January 2014

Where I've Been

In reflecting lately, I decided to count up the number of countries that I have had the opportunity to visit so far. I am still missing 2 continents and several countries, but the map is pretty nice right?

20 June 2011

Inspiring vs. Inspired

This question has long intrigued me, "Need someone be inspired in order to inspire?" It is interesting what inspires us sometimes. It can be something as simple as a photograph, or the passing words in a conversation we overheard between people we do not know. And yet, I believe that inspiration can be imparted very deliberately through our words and actions. I realized today that I set out on this journey not to prove anything to anyone, nor to fulfill some sort of route of passage in my life, nor even to "find myself" whatever that should be understood to mean. No I set out on this journey because this is something that I have always wanted to try, and yet therein always lay great fear for me as well. I remember a couple of days before we were set to leave on 15 September 2010, when I said that maybe we should wait and almost allowed the fear in my heart to stop me from fulfilling something I had long dreamt of doing. The fear stemmed from the inherent uncertainty that came with our approach to the journey. We had a few "safety nets" set into place, but one of the most challenging and yet most essential elements to the trip was that these had to be left behind for a time, and we had to see how we could stand up to the world in the most fundamental sense. I have my father to thank for pushing us out the door. Go! And so we went.

I remember those first couple of months, travelling across the United States and feeling like a lost vagabond with nowhere to go and no one to turn to. And yet, in every place we found people who were willing to help us, who even went out of their way to ensure that we were adequately provided for, even making sacrifices on their own account in order that we could continue chasing our dream. How can we repay such kindness? How can anyone be so kind in the first place? I believe this takes me back to the title. I think one of the most inspiring things in life is to discover for ourselves that anything is possible. It is one thing to talk about how a fear may be overcome, to logically address the steps that must be taken, but quite another to embrace the fear, without ever having conquered it, and to confront it in the happenings of daily life. This, I have learned, was the real challenge for me in what we did, and in having discovered that I can overcome it; that I can survive; that I need no longer be limited by fear; that is to be inspired.

Now, we are on our way home. As I have said to my brother often over the past several days, "There is no going back." We will never be the same after this journey that we have embarked upon together. My hope is that the inspiration wrought from this journey will translate into my becoming more and more the inspiring person that I hope to be. Life can be very dull unless we see the endless possibilities if we would just build up the courage to confront the fears and adversity in our lives. And sometimes all it takes is a little inspiration from someone else who has done just that in their own lives.

So run! Chase! Confront! Hope! Love! Live! We are the dreamers of dreams and the masters of our destiny. Let us not allow fear to keep us from becoming the people we have the potential to be. Live on, dream on, make your life extraordinary!

06 May 2011

Obligation vs. Desire

My life began when I stopped doing what I thought I should do, and started doing what I wanted to. Life is too short to wander around seeking the approval or permission of others to do what you know you want in your heart. Granted, there is a level of discernment that is necessary in order to reach the point of being able to make a decision, however after we have determined that our hopes and dreams in no way infringe upon the rights of others, and that they truly do represent the desires of our hearts, then we must run to accomplish what it is we know in our hearts we must do. Only in this way can we find fulfillment, peace, hope, the strength to greet tomorrow. What do you want? A difficult question to be sure, but then again consider the times in life during which you have felt most alive, most rewarded, most at peace, most content. Contentedness breeds productivity, love, deeper relationships, hope, and the will to live and accomplish great things.

I thought for a while that a world trip would set me apart, would lend me some sort of notoriety or fame, and indeed, to a degree it has. However this is not what it is about for me. Life, for me, has never been about popularity, success, winning, or financial prosperity. Life, instead, is about relationships, is about taking what we have and sharing it with those that surround us, and deepening our understanding of life and the human experience. What do we think about? What are we meant to do? To what are each one of us called? How do we go about infusing meaning into this some time difficult undertaking that we call life?

I believe that it comes down to discerning those desires in ourselves, and following them to their end. And in fulfilling the desires that fill our hearts, we lend meaning and assurance to our lives. This is the way that I go about living. Today I seek to become the best possible version of myself by following the path written in my heart. Life is beautiful. Discover the particular beauty that lies in the very depths of your heart. And never forget to stand by what you want. Because unfortunately in a world dominated by individualism, no one else is going to freely give you your deepest desires. Live it, and make it your own!

If you're interested, there has been an article published in a Kent State University magazine called "The Burr" to which I contributed to author Kelley Stoklosa, some of my views and thoughts. Here is the link if you are interested in reading it, and I would love to hear your reactions as well.


All the best!

06 February 2011

What's this life for?

First of all, please do not think that I am in any way suicidal, I am in New Zealand for goodness sake! However this question seems constantly to enter my mind. The deepness of the implications are very interesting. God ostensibly provides some answers, but then when I set down to analyzing and thinking about all of the implications of God and creation, and the Tradition that He has handed down to us through the Catholic Church, it all gets a bit muddled. Then for the moment, the only answers that I seem to be receiving to my myriad questions, amount to "You think too much," or "Don't over-analyze, it will lead you somewhere you do not want to be." However I believe that the strength of joy that I formerly felt and now at occasions feel for life stemmed from my very devotion to this God and His prescribed ways for living life. One day I discovered that I had strayed from the path as it were, and now I feel completely lost. It is as if the standards set are exclusive, and do not allow us even to forgive ourselves. In theory there is forgiveness available, but then again there have long been times when this forgiveness hinged on the whims of men, and not of God. What is this faith that we have been given? Why do I still feel it so strongly in spite of all of my doubts? Why can I not just cast myself into the first job, career, or vocation that presents itself? Why do I keep asking questions long after others would have resigned themselves to one solution or answer. What is life for?

Neither I, nor any one of us asked to be born into this world. And yet I have found myself wandering the land, now long and far, seeking the answers to how to live a good and fulfilling life. Distracting myself from reality have not proven answers for me. Nor has immersing myself in relationships, whether by choice or by chance. It seems that life is simply a muddled confusion for us all. There are clues, but no cut and dry solution to the mystery of life.

What are we here for? What good can we bring about upon this earth during the short time during which it has been ordained that we should roam it? What should any one of us seek for other than to make the most of the time that we have been given in the way that we individually see fit?

I desire something more, and yet despite my quest to find it, find myself uncertain of what that means. And so I find myself making promises that I cannot keep, and following roads that I know I may not want in my heart of hearts, but that are there before me and represent some way of avoiding the constance of thought and contemplation that ever plagues my mind and soul. Peace I suppose I desire, but patience must precede this peace. And as I recently learned the word "patience" is derived from the Latin "patiens" meaning "to suffer." Thus patience is lingusticially linked to suffering, and I find it to be no coincidence.

Thus I keep searching and asking questions; at this point at almost the farthest possible reaches from where I draw my roots. I thank God for the opportunity to be here, but also ask that He help clarify the path for us all, might reveal to us in our hearts what we might do, in order that more of us might lead lives on fire; might captivate the attention of our respective nations; and might tranform the face of the world into the future!

For this I hope and pray. For this I hope my life might serve.

31 May 2010

First pass at a mission statement

This needs some work, and is perhaps more of a rant, but here goes:

Mission Statement:
I used to think that this was just for us, for those who would actually embark upon the journey together, however I have come to realize that we do this not only for ourselves, but also for anyone who has ever dreamed, and who has yet to realize that dream. The only unique characteristic we possess is the freedom to go and the firm belief that we will accomplish what we set out to achieve. Life is too short. There were multiple points along the way when my choices could have determined the rest of my life, and I would be “settled,” whatever that means, and would be living a more formulaic and established life. However, these choices never came to fruition, and I find myself a graduate with a master’s degree and all the aspirations in the world to travel the world, to explore and understand new cultures that I have only ever read about, or seen in some television special. Life is about what happens when you are planning for the next step, so apart from the general and unavoidable contingency planning, this trip will take place purely through spontaneity, and will show each participant what we are capable of. What the human spirit can accomplish when it is given the opportunity to thrive. I believe the human spirit can be molded to fit whatever situation and dreams lie in our minds, and that we should seek this reality, rather than to fit our spirit to some societal or economical mold. The human spirit thrives on adventure, on the unknown, on the frightening and the exciting. When is the last time you really felt your pulse pick up, or your heart flutter? What do you really want out of life? What would it take to achieve this? What are your goals, hopes, aspirations? What is your greatest fear?
Too often I believe our greatest fear is that we would have the opportunity to accomplish our greatest dream. We fear success, we fear failure, but it is often in those moments when we expose ourselves to fear, when we confront those things in life that truly scare us and make us feel uncomfortable, that we grow and become the people we have the potential to become.
Life is too short to simply follow the flock, to do what we think we should do, rather we should strive for what we desire to do in the deepest part of ourselves, and that springs to the outlying corners of our minds on those days when truly allow ourselves to dream.
This started as a mission statement, but perhaps is closer to a life philosophy. Never let someone else tell you what your dreams are, only you can discern and determine that by deepening your self-knowledge, and your relationship with our Lord and Creator. If something scares you, you will most likely benefit from confronting this fear and not hesitating to follow where this confrontation leads.
When have you felt most alive? What are the moments in your life that cling to your mind and refuse to let go? When have you felt most truly inspired? What does inspire you? If you can answer even some of these questions you are well on your way to finding fulfillment and joy in your life. We need this inspiration, this hope, this living on the edge to push us through what we never thought we could accomplish.
For truly, we are the music-makers and the dreamers of dreams…and if not us, then who?