Category Archives: Religion

The Other Side of Hope

As the new year begins to reveal the playbook for the coming months, I’m pondering my lesson plans. The possibility of another stint of virtual instruction looms as the actual storm clouds cloak us with snow.

We are never more than a few hours away from tomorrow. With holidays come a time of reflection and redemption. But more importantly we develop hopes that the future will be brighter. Brighter than…what?

To anticipate something greater than something else is to have at least an experience or exposure to something less great, right?

Whether you’ve thought about it or not, hope is an acknowledgment that we’ve already come through something unpleasant. Life is the acknowledgment that death has not occurred yet. Good is the proof that evil has not prevailed.

Therefore, we can suppose that on the other side of demise, there is hope. Hope is what keeps us going. In the presence of despair, hope looms in the darkness. Hope is the cousin of faith. But with faith comes denominational choice. With faith comes organized religion or the opinion to shun spirituality. You have a choice.

These are constructs that can be debated, embraced, or debunked. So in the spirit of either, let’s consider, for a moment, that hope is a drug. In the eyes of a pessimist or someone who lives amongst habitual chaos, hope is an intangible that is just beyond their reach. Hope is both a noun and a verb, where as faith is just a noun. Hope is cheap and accessible to anyone. Faith requires effort, and it’s expensive and exclusive. Hope is pedaled by politicians and producers. It’s offered to excite and motivate, manipulate and mutilate pessimism and hopelessness.

So in the next few (days) of the new year, my resolution shall be to mix and match. For every two negative situations, I will mix in one serving of hope. It will spice it up! It will taste great. It will reduce the acidity (sort of like mixing sugar in with the spaghetti sauce). I will match the energy I’m presented with with a force equal to (or completely opposite of) whatever I am faced. I will challenge adversity with possibility. I will look evil square in the eye; and offer it a hit of hope.

Death…Comes In Cycles.

Nothing seemingly thwarts death more than pure determination. “Seemingly” is the key word. Death comes regardless. But the attitude by which we accept it’s terms vary.

Death sets the tone for rebirth. Generations of storytelling elude to the fertility that awaits death’s spawn. Our ancestors have tirelessly formed opinions to explain why we die and how we should strengthen our legacies. Religion and spirituality aside, the idea that our lives have meaning beyond the present moment necessitates purpose. In other words, work hard and live right so that you’ll be rewarded in death.

Death is real. But it is also a metaphor. It is also an idea. It is also a tool, a threat, a punishment.

Death comes in cycles, as does life. Everything dies. Eminent death is inescapable. But impending death warrants a challenge. And proposed death, well that may be mere propaganda. We don’t know until it is all behind us. Do you know who doesn’t get to ponder the truth? The dead. The rest of us bathe in anxiety.

Death is a punctuation, but not necessarily a period. In the cycle of life, it’s a semicolon. It’s a pause—a comma. A question mark?

Death is necessary.

Opportunity, relationships, and health all know nothing more true. Something must end before something new can prosper. Whether it be the end of a job, or a departing of lovers, or the annihilation of a cancer cell, the end is just the beginning of something new.

Ask the trees. Consult the squirrels and the birds. Watch the rivers rejoice after a drought.

The dried grape that yields it’s worth is but the forming of a raisin, whose content explodes flavor in the mouths of babes too young to imbibe wine. All things yield to another cause, whether it be worthy or fashionable. The values of almost everything flow in correlation to demand or disinterest. Even death has value.

“One can not truly die unless one truly lives.” It’s been said, but this hasn’t taken into account those of us who are living our best lives (which are likely incomparable to those living better lives). Either way, death requires us to pick up the remnants and piece together a new life. The losses, the wakes, and the mournings subside. Memories lift up our best efforts.

Octavian Mielu

Death is not a condemnation of life. But life wants to condemn death. We make the rules in life, but not in the afterlife.

In the northern hemisphere, the leaves flaunt hues that remind us of life’s cycle. Death’s finality triggers life’s infinity. Nature does not yield to mankind’s mechanical or intellectual creations. And yet short of a celestial event, our galaxy (and every universe beyond our own understanding) will continue to spin and evolve and revolve around a nature that we still don’t understand. Life will go on…even beyond our own death.

Eggs on First

I’m talking to myself, but my son is listening. I’m conflicted, but I can find no resolve. My son is shaking his head, but offering minimal input. The issue? Food!

Me: When I was a kid, there were 4 good groups.

Dylan: there are 5

Me: right! There are 5 food groups! I knew that…. Ok, like I was saying… meat, dairy, veggies, fruit, and grains. Five!

Dylan: Fish

Me: Fish is meat. Seafood is meat.

Dylan: sushi is seaweed. Seafood or vegetable?

Me: seafood is seafood; meat!

Dylan: corn?

Me: Vegetable. It grows from the ground. Wait! Grain, right? But vegetables grow from the ground like beans, peas, and other legumes.

Pumpkins are legumes. Wait. Pumpkins are fruit! Like watermelon and cantaloupe. They grow above ground. Like tomatoes! Tomatoes are a fruit. Wait. No. Tomatoes are a vegetable! They go in salads like lettuce (which also grows above ground). Salad? There’s nuts in a salad. Legumes! Grapes can be in a salad. Fruit! Wait…lots of things can be in a salad. Like croutons (grain) and chicken (chefs salad). Salad should not be the qualifier. Chicken is meat! It’s white meat like fish…

Dylan: seafood!

Me: As I was saying…white meat…

Dylan: Racist…

Me: huh? What? Stop it! Pork…

Dylan: Pig! 😳

Me: Is rabbit meat, white meat?

Dylan: Why? Because a rabbit has white fur 🐇? Ummm. No.

Me: I think it’s the texture. Chicken, duck, turkey, etc.

Dylan: Turkeys have dark meat.

Me: yeah, but it’s not red meat.

Dylan: isn’t all meat red meat because of the blood?

Me: 🧐

Also me: Fish bleed.

Dylan: vegetarian? Vegan?

Me: Pescatarian!

Dylan: Isn’t that a religion?

Me: Only if you worship fish. But if you did, you probably wouldn’t eat them. Alright. Enough! Let’s sum this up:

Five food groups! Some foods are questionable. Vegetables and fruits are interchangeable. Potatoes grow UNDER the ground. Vegetable…

Dylan: Starch

Me: huh, wait! No! Vegetable. Eggs are dairy.

Dylan: Protein. Shouldn’t eggs be meat? They come from chickens.

Me: Eggs are not to be eaten with chicken, but fine with pork.

Dylan: White meat!

Me: Grrr. Bacon is in the dairy isle with the milk and eggs and cheese and…

Dylan: …and orange juice! But oranges are fruit. Grapefruits are fruit. Apples are fruit. But Apple Jacks do NOT taste like apples and are not in the fruit aisle.

Me: well that’s because that’s a cereal to which we add milk.

Both of us: DAIRY!

Me: But milk comes from a cow, and a cow is meat. It’s in a different isle, is a different texture, and is MEAT!!

Dylan: Protein! Red meat! Not worshiped (by all), but tastes great with A1 steak sauce.

Doing Things I Said I Wouldn’t

Eating left-overs

Harboring guilt

Sitting in the dark

Judging others wearing leggings

Wearing pajamas all day

Ignoring ashy elbows and bushy eyebrows

Compensating for the other parent

Buying a brand new car

Surrendering debt

Reconciling…

Hoarding old polo shirts

Raising my voice to children who choose poorly

Doing things half-assed (for fun)

Dedicating myself to something meaningless

Debating religion and politics at the dinner table

Letting myself go…

Caring too much

Caring more for myself

Caring less

Binge-watching

Mid-day napping

Asking for opinions

Ignoring good advice

Equanimity

Regretting

Fixers, Closers, Watchers

I’m starting to believe that we are expected to be the fixers, the closers, and the watchers. We fix what was broken. We close the deals that someone made without our input, and we watch those deals manifest until the next problem occurs. We are called educators to mask the lie.

My opinion is based my observations and the world as I see it. When the circumstances change, I’ll adjust my opinion.

To be a cynic while I continue to hold the title for which I’m paid allows me to wade through the hypocrisy with integrity. I’m intelligent enough to know when things aren’t they way they’re supposed to be, but I’m wise enough to know that there are opportunities to change the trajectory. It’s important that I exercise my faith often enough to keep hope alive.

Every trial offers me the wisdom to make a better decision next time. The problem is: “how many more times will I encounter the same problem before I realize that there isn’t a viable solution?” What I can’t do is repeat procedures hoping for a different outcome. What I don’t have is the energy to reinvent myself every time a new problem occurs. All I’m able to do is apply yesterday’s lessons to today’s challenge and hope that tomorrow is smoother.

Without the intelligence, I’d have no content to teach. I’d have no discernment. I’d have no skill set to adjust my instruction.

But tomorrow is rarely smoother. I’d love to not sweat the small stuff, but there’s enough big “stuff” to make that distinction. I long for a day with “small” stuff.

There aren’t enough copays to tell my therapist how I feel—or what I do to get through the day. My colleagues will listen as long as I listen to their woes too. This can be a daunting task not too different from spicing a wound with salt AND pepper. My family hugs me in disbelief and prays that I can make it just a little bit longer. I’d tell my pastor, but he already knows because he teaches me weekly to seek the source.

The source knows. And weather you believe in an external God or connect with a god within, to recognize that there are an infinite number of things outside of our control is merely the beginning of a path to self-healing. There’s a faith that develops when we can no longer rely on intelligence and wisdom. It’s that disbelief that propels us into a world of unpredictable outcomes. And although some are inspired by this, others stumble blindly and recognizing that their fate will be determined by someone else.

Will my fate be determined by my students, my supervisor, or a society that has demanded that we fix, close, and watch?

Happy Change-giving

Thankful for the feelings,

Because the feelings drive us

Thankful for the disappointment

For the idea: “circumstances are better than they were”

For the conception that things could be different.

For evolution

That things don’t stay a way

For too long.

Thankful for voice

And the opportunity to be silent

Thankful to be wrong

About SO many decisions

Because the knowledge of wrong

Spotlights what could be right

Thankful for my own hunger

And my own thirst

For the failures that precipitated pain

And the treatment that prescribed

Healing

Thankful for the lies

The disappointment

And the loss

For the lies cloaked a truth for which I wasn’t prepared

For the disappointment strengthened me for a victory I could not enjoy

For the loss of relationships that I was too weak to endure

Thankful for the perception

To steer clear of those vehicles

Aimed at my demise

Thankful I can’t do everything I want to do

In this moment

Whenever I want

Because I’m still learning

Not to live in excess

Even when I have the opportunity

Because full bellies can’t run as fast

And sleepy eyes don’t make dreams come true

Celebrate the Failures

We dream, set goals, and employ plans to meet the goals–to make those dreams come true. We draw from our resources, build networks, and develop our skill set to progress towards our goal. Our agendas become clearer as our dreams become a reality. And at that moment we least expect it, we encounter a setback.

Not a tragedy. Not a roadblock. A setback! It’s only a tragedy if we fail to go onward. It’s only a roadblock if we can not make our way around the obstacle. It’s a setback because it requires more. So much more! Because life is supposed to be unpredictable, we can not plan for the setbacks. We can only build our strength and endurance to be prepared just in case…

The failures that naturally occur help us build a tolerance. They force us to pause. They force us to rethink, reflect, and refocus.

In our mind, anything is possible. In reality, things are possible only when we don’t give up.

Ask the runner who falls, or the non-smoker who relapses, or the believer who backslides. It’s our perception that determines how we proceed.

We celebrate our victories. But we must celebrate our failures too. That’s not to suggest that the celebrations are anything alike. A failure is only a failure when we refuse to continue onward. We celebrate the failure by embracing the need to try again. The celebration is in the breathe that escapes our lips. The sigh, the gasp, the yell–they fuel that sequel. Part two is within our reach.

We don’t quit. We don’t give up. Instead we regroup. We reevaluate our path. We may even reestablish what drives us.

Be vivacious in your quest. The celebration is life. The victory is in living another day. Tell the story in knowing that there are many chapters. Celebrate life. Celebrate that you have more chances! Celebrate the failure because you know that you can try again.

For every victory, celebrate hard. But for every failure, celebrate too. With every failure comes knowledge (and a humility that is not always private). Celebrate that too! For with humiliation comes accountability. Get back up!

It doesn’t feel good to fall short of our goals. Let this drive you harder. True failure is loss. Do not mourn the losses for long. They’ll be time enough true failure. True failure comes at the very end. For life is a temporary circumstance. Death is forever.

My Story Is Spelled My.Stery

“Deja vu” is the mind affirming a familiarity with a circumstance. Was it a dream or a coincidence? That moment that causes us to stop and question ourselves, when we look around and know that somehow we’ve been here before–that is the moment that we realize that there’s a higher consciousness and a heightened sense or awareness.

We are leaving clues for our future selves intermittently. Pictures, mementos, and miscellaneous scribblings that capture something meaningful are unimportant at any given point in time except for the one moment that means everything.

Our mental health is gauged not only by how we interact with the world, but also by how we manage our own thoughts and feelings. A person who collects things assigns meaning to each souvenir. Awards and trophies are merely framed papers or inscribed tin fastened to molded plastic or crafted bark. The more important, the more likely we display these artifacts to the world. And what the world honors, we covet.

We are proud of those things that we’ve been taught are valuable. Yet we treasure most those things we’ve come to craft and mold on our own. Our creativity spawns all kinds of ideas. From our flesh comes offspring, and from our conceptions come legacy. Any deviation is an opportunity for evolution. And as convoluted as this may seem, we all have that moment when we hear a familiar sound or whiff an almost forgotten aroma. It triggers memory. It’s at that moment that we question our being and recognize that we are not just present in that moment, but we’ve become increasingly aware more than we once were.

Wise men don’t know everything. But they earn wisdom from learning that they can not know everything. There’s a calmness from surrendering a need to have more, to know more, or to understand everything. Some call it bliss in ignorance. Others call it letting go to let God.

That higher consciousness is merely a lack of consciousness. An unknowing, un-relentless, unfamiliar mystery for which the end is neither foreseen nor aforementioned…

This is where we are right now. Only a fool would assure us otherwise. The clues we leave are the clues we find later… and this prescription for fulfillment is what we call happiness. Because in that moment, we believe that things happen for a reason.

Until we are again clueless…

Sorry, Not Sorry

Spending many years in reflection

Fewer years in regret

A moment or two mourning losses

A second or so welcoming the growth

There are more than five human senses

More than seven wonders of the world

The provable truths can be disproven

The wrongs are too embarrassing to discredit

Our lives are not our own

Like ants we are apart of something bigger

A colonization vulnerable

Enough to be washed away by one hefty

Spring shower

Our selflessness has eroded

Consumed by what is personal

We may never earn the glory

That we so badly think we deserve

Entitlement

Enrichment

Enhancement

Deplorable

Disenfranchisement

Deposable deniability

Dorian

Grey

Black

Life

Death

Surreal

Matters

No one is sorry

Except for the ones who didn’t cause the pain

Lacking empathy, sympathy, or concern

The voices in our heads don’t silence us

No filters, no compassion

We think it, we say it

We see it, we photograph it

Our newsfeeds are cluttered with other’s posts

(Without an original thought of our own)

No illusions

Nothing concealed

Proudest, boldest generation in history

Killing each other, killing ourselves

Watching the genocide

and dispelling the lessons we were supposed to

Never Forget

The fear fuels the ignorance

Which justifies the hatred

Personal losses are the only ones

That drive change

(the kind of change that’s inevitable)

There’s an expectation

For change to occur. It is both

Demanded (by those who need it)

& Resisted (by those who control it)

So many are not sorry

Because so many will never own their

Thoughts

Actions

Behaviors

Beliefs

Words

Missing the One That’s Gone (mistreating the one that’s here)

The title suggests that relationships are backwards. But consider a deeper concept. We mourn at funerals, but the emotional commitment to sadness doesn’t usually last long. We eventually level out…chemically emotional, spiritually. And although the memory stimulates disappointment for the loss of a loved one, it also allows us to recall the good times.

We reminisce!

We are learning more about our genetic code. Commercially branded exploration such as 23andMe, Ancestry and myHeritage.com connect us to lives that we never knew, experiences we would not endure, and family we’ll never meet. But doesn’t it seem awkward to pursue “extra-” life when our own is right before us? The option to abandon the present in exchange for knowledge of the past lineage.

It’s every history teachers’ fantasy to have so many students of the world want to know where they’ve come from. In one way or another, we are all connected to some legacy.

But what of the present?! Can we be motivated to enhance our lives to do better? What lessons have we’ve absorbed from our ancestors? The history books could only convey a story from the perspective of the story tellers. But are these new methods of history-sharing impartial and unbiased? Is someone really telling us our story. Or are we getting a digitized rendition of similar narratives all dressed up with political correctness? Has our DNA been exploited to sell stock?

Pharmaceuticals are the capital for the scientists and bioengineers. DNA testing could be the conduit to normalize scientific explanations of the past–all the while omitting the gemological data that resembles all that is wrong with the world. Who is dealing/selling/marketing this to us? And raise your hand if you’re buying it.

Perhaps we as a society are so eager to embrace the positive and exciting aspects of our history. We don’t want to be burdened with the condemnations of a society gone array.

Ellis Island was a new beginning for many, but for others it was a resting place for family, cultures, and tales that could no longer be passed down to the next generations. (You absolutely must go back a click on the link). But please don’t forget that there were many nations that were torn apart and destroyed only to be reconstructed poorly in the new world. The original coming to America is vastly under-told. No cotton swab can ignite a recollection like that (and we wouldn’t want it too). American can’t handle it. We’ve become obsessed with the obsessed and numb to the pain.

Tabloids and opioids…junk for the mind, junk for the body. THIS is where we are. Reactive, we ponder treatment options in lieu of reconciling the pain. Mass shootings become last week’s news because the anxiety of “now” is too great. The precautions and the prohibitions do nothing to make us safer; instead these menial drills grasp at our insecurities and ignorance of the present.

We will react to the loss(es) of (un)loved-ones. We will pick up the pieces. We will search for something to ease the pain. As our eyes roll back and our existence begins to fade, your choice of chemical (or tactile) will ultimately determine (or UNDERmine) your future.

The art is longer imitating life. Our lives have emulated art.

Eighty years of radio/television, forty years of video games, thirty years of internet, twenty-five years of music videos and reality TV, ten years of smart phones and tablets, five consecutive years of hate, violence, and mistrust of organization and institution…equal the destruction of safe spaces.

We miss what’s already gone. We are mistreating what is already here.

Let’s digress. After all, it is just the day after Friday!