Questioning Questions

If you know me or read my writing, you know I ask questions. I ask a lot of questions, sometimes of others, more often of myself. My parents will probably tell you that one of my favorite things to say while growing up was “why?” or “how?” or “what?” or “who?” or “when?”. The answer I remember getting most often is “look it up,” but it isn’t the answer I want to explore in this writing, but rather the question…really any question, and why I ask them.

I went back through my posts and noticed that in the vast majority of them I ask at least one question. Most of the time I don’t get an answer. Sometimes I answer the questions myself in an attempt to explore the idea a question raises. Sometimes the questions are for the readers that grace my posts with their eyes and minds.

What prompted this question about questions, you may ask? Well, I was taking part in a group discussion the other day and it was said that during a dialogue, if one keeps asking questions, then the questioned will eventually be caught in a lie or a dead end or something to that effect; essentially that one’s argument may be found as weak or unfounded. And that is true. Questions, by their very nature, seek truth, but what is truth? This is a question for another time. The question here is about questions, not truth.

Questions need an answer, usually an answer that satisfies a need for better understanding of what has been asked. An unanswered question is something akin to listening to a piece of music and getting to the end of it only to find that the melody and harmony do not resolve, leaving a feeling of want in the listener’s ear.

Maybe better put, an unanswered question is a missed opportunity for the further exploration of an idea, reason, or practice. An unanswered question is a missed opportunity to learn, both for the questioner and the questionee.

Questions drive thought and innovation. Questions drive progress in all areas of life and society. Questions present possibilities and promote probabilities. Questions refine, reinforce, or redefine ideas and/or practices.

Best of all, questions stimulate the mind. They instigate communication and discourse. Questions inspire discussion. Just go to any library or bookstore. Every volume on the shelves is an answer to some question asked.

Back to the question…

Why do I ask questions?

I ask questions because I want to know. I want to come to a better understanding of what I know, or I want to know about something I did not know about before. I want to know what other people think. I want to know why people think the way they do. I want to come to an understanding about things I don’t understand. I want to ponder possibilities and consider probabilities. I want to know that I am right and why. I want to know why I am wrong so I can be right in the future (nobody wants to know they are wrong, especially me.).

I want to know. I want to learn. I want to understand. And I never want to stop.

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To, or To Not?

I’m taking just a few minutes, the next 25 or so, to do a little free writing on a topic about which I have not written in a couple of weeks…

Fear.

A few weeks back, I read a post by Holistic Wayfarer entitled “What If You Weren’t Afraid.” At the end of the post, she posed a question: How would these things look different in your life, if you were not afraid? I posted a couple of weeks ago some thoughts concerning a couple of the topics listed after the question, particularly those concerning my relationship with my sweetheart and the relational boundaries I draw with other people. I just took a look over the list again and noticed the topic “Your blogging” so I figure why not start there.

How would my blogging look different, or be different, if I were not afraid. I guess what needs to be done is figure out of what it may be that I am afraid when it comes to my blogging. I was reading over another previous post of mine and noticed something I had written that kind of goes along with this very idea, and it goes a little something like this…

When I find something on which to write, I tend to tread my path lightly. I don’t want to piss somebody off that may read what it is that I am writing. I look “for the solution that will come without a conflicting response or opinion…when that does not work, I go to like-minded souls that will reassure me that the course I wish to take is the right one and will not falter.”

Essentially I fear an argument. Really, it isn’t so much that I fear an argument. If you know me, you know I love a good argument. What it really is is that I am tired of arguing. It gets old, especially when the arguments are always about the same shit. The day may be different, but the arguments are always the same, especially when it comes to the topics I tend to follow and about which I care the most. There is rarely anything new added to the conversation. If, by chance, a new idea comes into the topic, the conversation will take a turn, but it always, always comes right back to the beginning. Then the parties of the argument get pissed off, turn and figuratively walk away with nothing be solved. Pretty much what it boils down to is that we are a bunch of children that refuse to give even an inch in the hope that a compromise or agreement can be reached.

That is what frightens me. I don’t want my blog to turn into a huge pissing match between people with different points of view, and I don’t want to begin censoring those who take part in any discussion that may come up because they refuse to act like grown-ups.

Then again, a little spice might be good. I have plenty of thoughts that can be considered nonconventional. They are certainly not aligned with the status quo. I do like to propose challenging and provoking thoughts. Otherwise, what in the hell am I writing for? Who wants to read something that doesn’t provoke at least a minimum amount of thought?

I guess that what I’m trying to say is that my blogging would be more edgy and more strongly opinionated if I were not afraid of some argument breaking out in the comment section. Moreover, what is troubling is the fact that I do not want any piece that I write to be boiled down into a simple yes/no debate that takes what is stated, and usually quite eloquently (if I may say so), and turned into some kind of talking point that can be recited on cue by some shmuck that does not have any skin in the game. I suppose I could just say screw it and write what it is that I feel and what I think, and say to hell with censoring myself. That would certainly be healthier for me as it would allow me to release pent up feelings and thoughts that swirl within my mind and body.

I’m going to mull this over some more before I make a decision, but it seems I have some things to ponder. It’s a good thing that pondering is something that I’m pretty good at doing.

You’ll have to stay tuned in order to find out which direction my pondering will take me.

A Title? Yes, it needs one…

I’ve been doing a bit of reading and research on writing, making my writing better, and expanding my readership. Within most of what I have read, there is a common theme; identifying my brand and sticking with it. Therefore, I am going to use this post to nail down what my brand might be, because the thoughts that spill out of my brain, either through my fingers or out of my mouth, tend to be completely random and based heavily on something I hear or read at a random time.  Really, what the majority of my writing here is, and will probably be for the foreseeable future, a response.

But what do I want my brand, my writing, to do? What do I want it to say? Those questions seem pretty important to me. I want my writing to have some purpose. I want it to not only to present my thought on whatever the subject may be, but to provoke a thought or response from the reader. A good response. A bad response. Something. I’d prefer it provoke an agreeable response, but I know that isn’t always going to happen.  Disagreeable responses are acceptable, too.  I’d like to make people’s heads nod or shake.

I guess that is what most of us here want.

I also understand that patience is my friend in this endeavor; a kind of “if you build it, he will come” thing.  Patience is not my strong suit.  Really, I stink at being patient, but I’m trying.

Anyway, I am going to keep trying to hone my brand, and follow where my writing takes me.  If there is one thing I know, it is that writing cannot be forced.  It has to come freely from somewhere inside with plenty of honest thought and contemplation.  Otherwise, it stinks…mine does anyhow.

We live in exciting times.  There are so many things happening around us all the time, and a lot of it is thought provoking.  Let’s see what is provoked and also where the thoughts go and what they generate.

So Much Information, So Little Time

It has been a scatter-brained kind of week, and a little busy, too.  I haven’t had much time to sit and collect my thoughts, so there has not been much writing going on this week.  As a matter of fact, I have not once picked up my trusty notebook to jot anything down.  So let’s just go with another free writing session for this post…

It’s Saturday morning, and I just finished my weekend coffee.  If you follow me here or on Facebook, you know just how much I relish my weekend coffee.  And this weekend is no different.  The biggest difference is that I slept in this morning, waking up at around 8:30 or so, which never, ever happens.  I stayed up pretty late last night, too, and that, also, never happens…well anymore.

So I was a little late in having my coffee, but I had it nonetheless, and it was good…everything I knew it would be.

I’ve done the scan of the Facebook news feed and seen things that piss me off, make me happy, make me think, make me sad, or make me glad.  I’ve looked over my wordpress reader and caught up on a couple of the blogs that I follow.  Now, I’m sitting here to write, and little is coming to my mind and sticking around long enough to put something coherent together.

One thing that floats in and floats out is this controversy surrounding the release of the former POW, Bowe Bergdahl.  I’m not going to weigh in on this very much, because, one, I do not know too much about it, other than what has been spoon fed to us by the media, and, two, because I do not know too much about it, other than what has been spoon fed to us by the media.  All I do know is that he is a soldier in the US Army that was released by the Taliban in Afghanistan in exchange for five individuals held at Guantanamo Bay.  The funny thing is that is all any of us really know beyond what has been given to us by the media outlet from which we choose to receive our information.

If you read, watch, or otherwise observe multiple media outlets, you have received different points of view and opinions given by experts, former and active military personnel, politicians, or anyone else pretending they know what the deal is.  This is just one example of the amount of information out there and the vast number of opinions, facts, or observations that bombard us every single day.

It’s hard to know what is the truth anymore; because, as the media is teaching us, the truth is subjective.  It depends on how one views a particular situation, and that same one’s gut feeling concerning it.  We rush to judgement, handing out a verdict before evidence is presented, explained, and debated.  The truth no longer waits for objectivity.  It relies on the speed of its spread in order to influence thought so that the vessel spreading the truth can have bragging rights exclaiming “that you heard it here first.”

I dare say that with any “breaking news” story that has been broken in the past, I don’t know, ten years, a misconception or flat out falsehood, has been spread as the truth to the four corners of the globe, and even with evidence that points to the contrary, that truth is held on to with a stubborn insistence of its veracity.

This is just one reason why I rarely read or watch the news anymore, especially from an outlet that is more beholden to its advertisers and stockholders than it is to the people to whom they provide the information.  If I do catch anything, I do my best to glean what little fact may be presented in a piece, and then ignore, or try to forget, any of the fluff or opinion that is designed to keep one coming back for more.

Anyway, that is what is on my mind this morning as my fingers tickle the keyboard.

I Demand! but not really…

“I think a man with a helmet defending his country would make more money than a man with a helmet defending a football.”

I happened upon this quote/meme on Facebook during the week following Memorial Day. It may have been on Memorial Day. I can’t be sure, though.  It is pretty simplistic, as memes tend to be, but in this case, it points out something clearly obvious.  Maybe not clearly obvious, or obvious at all given that the idea was presented in the first place.

Of course, agreeing with the message of the meme, I decided to share it.  I thought it would get a good reception from so many friends that unabashedly support our men and women in uniform.  It has received two “likes” so far out of some 246 friends that may have seen it.  Now, I know that not everyone has seen it, and honestly some friends just pass by my posts because we do not agree on anything, but this one was for them.  This is something that, without a shadow of a doubt, we can all agree on.  But, like I said, they probably didn’t see it.

One of my friends commented on it, pointing out the infallible dictation of the law of supply and demand (I added the “infallible” and its emphasis).

In a previous post, I ended by saying “Need vs. Want is complicated!” This is where my mind goes when the issue of supply and demand shows its head, and even though I know it is an invaluable tool that shows the price, and fluctuations of price, in terms of supply versus demand, and those fluctuations, I still cannot help but think it is an imperfect idea.

I mean, people talk all the time about how ridiculous it is that athletes, show business entertainers, and others make so much more than military service members, firemen, police officers, teachers, and other service roles.  Yet, nothing about the purported problem changes unless one of those that brings in the big bucks refuses,or takes a voluntary reduction of, pay.

Why is that exactly?

This is where the law of supply and demand rears its ugly, unforgiving head and shows us the cold, hard, and indisputable truth:

Actions speak louder than words.

Every time we choose to spend money on a given form of entertainment, be it a sporting event, a movie, a play, a musical, a concert, what have you, we influence its demand and the demand for that given product or service rises.  With enough choices in favor of the same product, the demand for it rises and affects supply in a negative way, and the cost goes up as the demand outgrows the supply and the supply cannot keep up with the demand. Increased value is attributed to the sought after product, and the cost is paid by those that demand it, and it is paid willingly.

In essence, we vote for, and decide the, value of a product or service with every dollar we spend, so each dollar, or cent, is a ballot that determines what is deemed most important to the holder of it.

There are some things that supply and demand cannot illustrate accurately for us, however.  As I said, people talk about how ridiculous it is that entertainers, athletes, and the like make so much more than uniformed service members.  This seems to make things tricky because the market, and its law of supply and demand, does not dictate the value attributed to military service members or any government expense.  The people, directly or indirectly, decide the issue themselves.

Practically, as laid out by our government’s foundation proclaims, “We the People” are the voice that influences the actions and words given out by the government, and as such, the government carries out the people’s will.  As much as people complain about the government, and that it ignores the will of the people, data and observation show that the reality is that it listens to the people, and listens well.

Every two years elections are held to reshape the government as the people see fit.  One branch of Congress is chosen completely, and one-third of the other is elected.  Each legislator is eligible for re-election at the end of their respective term of office with no limit as to how many terms they may hold.  So, theoretically, Congress can remain constant forever (hold on to that thought).

Every four years, an executive is chosen.  There is a maximum of two terms that a given individual may hold for this office, so a maximum of eight years is the term for a constant manner of executive leadership.  Every four years, theoretically, the executive can be changed, and every eight years it has to change should it not change in the first four years, according to the Constitution.

There are arguments for and against the structure of elections, terms of office, and limits of those terms, but those are issues for another time and another post.

The issue here is that people presumably wish for better treatment and pay for those serving in the military and for those who have served.  Yet, this issue is never fully resolved. Ever.  For decades, I have observed people wanting more in terms of pay and treatment for active duty, reserve, and veteran members of the military.  And for decades,I have observed the government not responding to the pleas of the people with actual policy changes, but only with sound bites and campaign promises.  Service members are paid beans next to those performing related tasks and jobs in the private sector, and veterans…well an observation of the VA tells their story.

But here is the rub.

The House of Representatives is re-elected an average of 90% of the time.  The rate of incumbency in the Senate is a little less at an average of about 80% or so.

Given that, how do people expect treatment of service members and veterans to change when we willingly (there is that word again) refuse to change the branch that dictates how service members are paid and treated by the government?

Perhaps government is not so different from the market and supply and demand.  Both are swayed by public opinion. Demand of both are dictated by choices the people make, and people make those choices based on the wants and needs they experience.  Choices are made consciously and willingly. The only difference is that one is decided by the ballot and how it is filled out, and the other is decided by the dollar and how it is spent.

Words are loud and empty.  Actions, and decisions based on those actions, are louder and have actual substance. If we continue to make the same choices but demand a different outcome, what does that say about us?

 

A Response

This is in response to this post by Holistic Wayfarer…

Upon viewing the list included in her post, I decided to focus on two topics within the list:  my relationship with my sweetheart and the relational boundaries I draw.  That seemed like a good place to start, and the two are somewhat related, so why not knock out two birds with one stone.

First off, I am an intensely private person.  Funny, huh?  Especially since I keep a blog.  I try to avoid anything too private when it comes to my writing here, only focusing on things that I believe many of us have in common.  That said, it still remains that I am intensely private.  I have a difficult, no, extremely difficult time letting people into my life.  This affects those topics listed above.

In short, I have walls…high, strong, and impenetrable walls set up to protect me.  What do they protect me from?  Or, what do they protect?  I’ve had these for a long time, as long as I can remember.  When I think about it, it isn’t just my protection that the walls serve, but also I do not like to have others close to me doting on my problems or worrying about me.  So, it is also about protecting them. It probably hurts a lot more than it helps, keeping these walls up, especially concerning my relationship with my sweetheart.  I do try to open up the gate and let her in, but it is pretty hard to do a lot of the time, and I well understand just how frustrating that can be for her.

I guess the truth is that I am afraid of how others perceive me.  I could say concerned, but it is really fear much more than concern.  I don’t much care for negative feedback or being criticized at all.  Who does? I prefer to be welcomed rather than shunned, liked rather than disliked, or loved rather than hated.

Is it better to be loved as the person I want others to see, or to be loved, or hated, for being the person I really am?  This is the question that my walls protect me from.  In truth, I do not even know if tearing down my walls will bring hatred or negativity my way.  Questions, sure, and a lack of understanding are possible, but hate?  It is out there. That much is sure, but let’s ask the question again.

Is it better to be loved as the person I want others to see, or to be loved as the person I am?

I think that is a much better question and focuses more on the feelings I feel and want to experience.

Though love is the most important emotion, and strongest, there is something to be said for respect.  You cannot have love without respect, but you can have respect without love.  So…

Is it better to be respected as the person I willingly show to others, or to be respected for the person I am?

It’s a good question.  To earn respect of another is a pretty fantastic feeling, but is that respect deserving when it is given without seeing the whole picture?  but, this is off the topic and may be better dealt with at another time.

Back to topic…

I am afraid of how others perceive me which brought me to the question asked above. We know what the answer is.  In the short run the first part seems like an obvious choice because, well, in the short run things tend to come and go.  However, in the long run, the latter must be true, otherwise the lies and deceit (intentional or intended with malice or not, it does not matter) will take their toll on the one hiding who they are, and, possibly, what they do.  Fruitful relationships cannot be built upon this and be expected to last and will ultimately fail.

I guess that is a long winded way of saying that, in terms of the topics stated at the beginning, without fear, things would look very different.  My relationships would be much stronger and infinitely more meaningful, thus contributing more positively to my life and happiness in it.  More or less, fear is crippling, and serves little positive function when it comes to relationships between people.

Siesta Key, My Desk, My Coffee, and Back

It’s been a crazy week, so there has not been much time for writing or even to think of something about which to write. We’re just going to go with a true free writing session and see where the fingers and mind take us.

One great thing that has happened this week is that my wife and I have ironed out our vacation plans. We are going back to where we spent our honeymoon last August. The super cheesy part is that we will be there to celebrate our first anniversary. It was all my idea. I swear.  We will be heading to Siesta Key, a small barrier island right off the coast of Sarasota, Florida. If you have never been, I highly recommend it. The name of the island gives a pretty good idea about what it has to offer. Siestas abound, and if you know me, you know I love siestas. Siestas on the beach, as long as there is an umbrella that will move with the celestial movement of the sun in order to protect my fair skin from the beams of cancer that radiate from it, siestas in the condo, siestas on the lanai, siestas anywhere I can lay my head and feel pure serenity. Needless to say, I am excited.

Also, also! my new writer’s desk arrived this week, and my wife, being the ever so crafty and assembly inclined woman she is, put it together for me while I was at work on Wednesday night. I was pretty stoked about buying it, was stoked when I bought it, and was stoked when it showed up. I am still stoked about it. The surface is four feet by a little over two feet, and is unfinished which I love. For a long time I was a top of the lap or a tv dinner stand laptop user, but now I have a desk and I must say that desks, especially those that offer room, lots of room with no clutter, are the way to go. When I was in college and it was research time, which seemed like all the time, I would stake my claim on the biggest table in the library I could find and go to work finding books, printing journal articles and dissecting them all in marathon, caffeine induced, sessions. And there was room to organize and stack everything in its proper place. Ahhh, I miss those days. Maybe my new desk will allow me to recapture those moments along with a cup of my sublime weekend coffee.

Oh yes!

The weekend!

It is nearly here, and I have no plans. Ahhhhhhh, it’s a wonderful feeling. So when asked what I am doing, the response is likely to be “nothing” or “I don’t know…something,” and That. Is. Fabulous. Maybe I’ll go for a walk. Maybe I’ll hole up with my new desk and write. Maybe I’ll watch a movie. Two things are definite, and two things only. I will have coffee from my French press, and I will be practicing making the perfect cappuccino with my espresso maker. Oh yeah! My espresso maker! I now have my own area of the kitchen that is solely mine. Mine! It does not have a name yet, but it is the little countertop by the sink that has my weekday automatic coffee maker, my French press, and my espresso maker on it.

You could say that I am an addict. Actually, you should probably say that. I am an addict.  When I went back to school in my late twenties, I discovered the indispensible value of coffee. Coffee to wake me in the morning. Coffee to get me to lunch time. Coffee to perk me up in the afternoon. Coffee to accompany through the evening hours studying or writing papers or doing research. And coffee to push me through the deep, dark hours of night to meet assignment deadlines. I embraced it. I came to love it, and still do. Although, now I try to keep my coffee intake between the hours when I wake up until lunch time. After lunch, no more coffee, and that is okay. As I have matured in my coffee love, I have come to know good coffee, and life just keeps getting better. My wife’s sister sent us some coffee from Italy, Lavazza Crema e Gusto, at Christmas time. Not long after, we bought a French press, and coffee heaven has been in our midsts since on the weekends because good coffee takes time and time in abundance is something I do not possess in the morning during the work week.

Needless to say, our French press and our Lavazza will be making the trip with us to Siesta Key, along with my immersion blender to foam my milk. Heaven in a cup in our siesta filled heaven that is to come. Life is good. If only I could take my desk…

My wife will likely have something to say about that, and speaking of my wife and remembering that she is the boss, I have yet to ask her what the plans are for the weekend. I’m hoping she feels about it the same way I do.

He Was Right

“Of course, there is a portion of reading quite indispensable to a wise man. History and exact science he must learn by laborious reading. Colleges, in the like manner, have their indispensable office,–to teach elements. But they can only higher serve us, when they aim not to drill, but to create; when they gather from far every ray of various genius to their hospitable halls, and, by the concentrated fires, set the hearts of their youth on flame. Thought and knowledge are natures in which apparatus and pretension avail nothing. Gowns, and pecuniary foundations, though of towns of gold, can never countervail the least sentence or syllable of wit. Forget this, and our American colleges will recede in their public importance, whilst they grow rich every year.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson, The American Scholar

I read this a couple of weeks ago and it has just stayed with me.  The words were first spoken by Emerson in 1837 during an address to the Phi Beta Kappa Society in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Now, I am not an expert when it comes to higher learning or the institutions of such, other than to say that I have a Bachelor’s Degree and aspire to even higher education.  Yet, when I think of my alma mater in terms of this quote, along with the incredible sense of urgency by politicians to get students enrolled into math and science programs with endless government subsidized loans, my eyes open and I see that few heed the warning Emerson gave nearly 200 years ago.

Consider also the meteoric rise of for-profit colleges and trade institutions and the point is even further illustrated.

Truth is that colleges and universities are becoming training centers rather than institutions of higher learning, and, as one that sees the importance of the arts and humanities, also math and the sciences, and how that combination gives a well-rounded education, that is troubling.

The traditional subjects, the arts, humanities, mathematics, and sciences teach one to probe more deeply, to ask questions and seek answers, to innovate in order to find solutions.  They promote thought beyond simple rote memorization, which is incredibly boring and less than stimulating to the mind.  There is always a question to be asked and answered, and there is always an answer seeking to be found.  To know the right question to ask is to take the first step in discovering what is being sought.  Other materials have failed to ask it and without the question, there can be no answer.  With answers still waiting for their questions to be asked, there is more knowledge to acquire, and with more knowledge to acquire, there is a continued need for education, rather than indoctrination or job training.  With more time spent indoctrinating students with “proven” techniques, models, and ideas, there is less time spent engaging creative areas and then a lack of true ingenuity creeps in and sets the ground for little to no innovation. With less encouragement for innovative thought or creativity, there is a loss of newly acquired knowledge, leaving education stale and, overall, unrewarding.

I was reading an article earlier today at Salon.com, the title of which is “Congratulations, Class of 2014:  You’re Totally Screwed.”  It states that the average student loan borrower that completes an undergraduate degree owes an average of $33,000 (I feel your pain. I still owe $23,000 on mine). Among other things, I highly recommend the piece and sharing it far and wide.  One sentence that stood out to me, “Actually, the opposite is closer to the truth:  college costs more and more even as it gets objectively worse and worse.”  I think there is probably some truth to that, in terms that previous generations’ educational experiences were a better bang for the buck. The article goes on to talk about the perils and troubles experienced by adjunct faculty that are hired by universities in order to cut costs for tenure-tracked positions.  Perhaps I am incredibly naive and maybe a bit utopian in my thoughts, but I believe education to be an endeavor that should not seek profit and growth for profit’s and growth’s sake, but to further the search for knowledge.  Not every worthwhile pursuit needs profit and infinite growth.  How large does a school need to be in order to maintain a healthy bottom-line which is being fed constantly by tuition costs that rise steadily and continuously?

Back to my alma-mater…

It is a public university, a part of the state university system.  I remember visiting the school and loving the campus. It was beautiful and not overly huge. If you humped it, you could get from one end to the other in about 15 minutes. Classes averaged about 20-25 students (my senior level classes and some of my junior level classes were less than 10) excluding freshman/general education courses and introductory classes, but even then I think my largest class was probably 100 students or so.

I’m not sure what the class size is now, but I know the school continues to grow. Every year that I lived in the area, about 15 years (I dropped out for a while and went to work.  I went back later once I got my shit together.), there was a construction project going on somewhere.  A new science building for the chemistry, physics and astronomy departments.  An addition to the old science building that houses the biology, geology, geography, and anthropology departments. A new dormitory or two or three.  A new cafeteria.  Two new parking decks on campus.  A new library (thank god.  The old one SUCKED). The renovation of the old library into a classroom building that contains the history and political science departments (where I was when I was not in the new library). A refurbished football stadium with expanded seating and press/spectator boxes. New athletic facilities for the baseball, basketball, softball, and tennis programs.  A new arena known as the Convocation Center. A new student recreation facility. And a revamped student union and student bookstore. When I left, the school was breaking ground on a new facility for the school of education. There are others, I am sure, but these stick out in my mind.

I love my school. I loved attending it, and I love the area. I am convinced that there is not a better place on earth. It is heaven. There are things that put a damper on the experience, though, and every one is due to growth of the university. The endless construction projects create havoc on the campus and are unsightly, taking away from the beauty of everything else surround it.  With growth, there are more people. Holy crap, more people and traffic. The traffic. Oh god, the traffic. It used to be only on football Saturdays that one avoided getting in a car unless you absolutely had to. Now, it truly is every day, especially during the academic year. It’s awful and you can damn well count on having a stroke or a coronary everytime you get behind the wheel and on the road.

I don’t know the total cost for all of these projects and the others that have surely sprouted up since I left the area a few years ago, but I do know how much tuition increased from my inaugural semester until my final semester as a full-time student some years later.  Over 300% just for classes, not including any price hikes for campus room and board or books and materials for class.

I’m just spitballing here, but what if the school spent more time, money, and energy showing what the faculty actually do in their classrooms and laboratories rather than shaping up the buildings that house them, it would get a more effective and efficient use for every dollar spent.  If schools are seeking students whose wish is to attend a university with stellar athletic facilities and shiny new buildings without a thought or care about what they will actually be learning or doing, then institutions of higher learning are most definitely missing the point.

Emerson was right and we can’t even see it, and that saddens me.

Happy Mother’s Day

Today is Mother’s Day.  Earlier this week, I posted about being grateful and taking things for granted. This is a big one for me.

There is a lot I could say about my mom, but I won’t here, other than to say that I don’t know many people that are as strong, or stronger, thoughtful, or caring as she is.

Sorry, dad, but this one is about mom.  It’s her day…

I’ll just say this…

When I grow up, I want to be at least a little bit like my mom.

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Hurry Along

I’ve had a difficult time getting the creative juices flowing this week, and my mind has been a bit more muddled than usual for some reason. So, I’m hoping this little free writing session will help me out a little.

It’s been a long week. Work is a little busier as the calendar lurches on toward the summer months, and the summer heat is coming right along with it. I am not ready for that! See…I’m one of those weird southerners that prefer  cooler weather. Spring time weather is about as warm as I want to feel. 65 to 75 degrees works just fine for me. Anything over 80 better have a stiff breeze coming with it, otherwise misery ensues. Why does summer have to hurry along so quickly?

Hey, there’s a topic. Hurrying. Let’s run with it and see where it takes us…

Do you ever just stop and think? And when you stop and think do you ever wonder why it is we are always in such a hurry? I say “we” as if you are in just as big a hurry as I am. Are you? I read a pithy meme on facebook sometime back that said something like “when did staying busy become such a glorified trait?”  I agree wholeheartedly with that statement.

But it isn’t just being busy, it’s being in a hurry. Everything is a hurry nowadays. I find it sad, ironic, and a bit humorous that everyone pines for days gone by when life was perceivably easier and things moved more slowly. Yet, the same people that wax philosophical about those long, lost days move nonstop from sunrise, or before, to sunset, or beyond, and rarely slow down long enough to see the world that is around them.

Admiittedly, I can be the world’s worst about being in a hurry. When something has to be done, I need it done immediately. If it does not get done, then I stew over it and stew over it until it gets done, so I prefer to get it done and out of the way. When I have to get somewhere, I am in a hurry to get there in order to keep from being late.  Lack of punctuality is probably my biggest pet peeve. I consider it incredibly rude to be tardy, me or anyone else.

But why?  What is the point?  What good does it do us, in the long run, to stay busy or in a hurry?

Personally, I feel much better when I am able to slow down and relax.  Sure, there is satisfaction after being busy and completing a task, but there is just something about being able to sit, take a deep breath, and just look around at the world in which I live. I feel calm and collected. Then at some point, it begins all over again.  A task presents itself and needs to be accomplished as quickly as possible, usually to be followed by another one. Instead of enjoying life, it becomes a contest.  Get the task done in the appropriate amount of time, and I win!

But…win what?

What is the prize?

I previously posted about a list of things that we are supposed to do as we develop and our minds and bodies mature, but it seems like I forgot to add one…

Apparently, we are supposed to stay busy.  I don’t know where that rule is written down, or any of the rules for that matter; but in order to be a good and decent person, we have to keep busy.  We always have to be doing something “productive.”

It does feel good and satisfying to complete a task.  The harder and more demanding the task, the better it feels when it comes to fruition.  However, that pleasure does not come until I take a moment to slow down and reflect on what I did and how I did it.  Why did I take on the task, though?  And beyond its completion, is the task or the results of the task going to give me satisfaction? And how long is that satisfaction going to last?

All good questions I think, and I bet the answers are just as good. Of course, every task that I perform serves a very important purpose, brings immense satisfaction, and that satisfaction lasts ’til infinity and beyond.  It’s true.  Every bit of it.

Now my body is telling me that I better hurry up and get the coffee going so I can relax and enjoy it once it is done!

Have a great weekend!