A Principled Solution

Regardless of what I may think or say, I am not always right. I think those are some of the most difficult words to say. I’m usually right, anyway. Well…sometimes I’m right. My wife will give me that much.

And those times when I am right, I thoroughly enjoy. Being right is one of life’s great pleasures. It does not matter why I am right or what I am right about but just the fact that I am right brings loads of happiness and delight my way.

Sometimes I am wrong, but that’s done on purpose. It’s good to spread the right around from time to time. You know…just give ’em a taste, get ’em hooked, and they’ll come back wanting more.

Being right is addictive. It is to me anyway. I may have a problem, but that is for another post. I spend my life looking for the right answers, and it seems like a neverending quest. Searching, searching, searching everywhere. Looking for the elusive right answer that will solve a given problem. Looking for the solution that will come without a conflicting response or opinion. I look for these and when I cannot find them, I try desperately to develop them in my mind. 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 faulter. I check my beliefs and my unshakable bedrock of principles against the issue that needs addressing. It is in those things, those places and recesses of my mind I find solace. I find comfort and reassurance. Yet, the issue remains unresolved.

People change.

Needs change.

Wants change.

Situations change.

Seasons change.

The weather changes.

Minds change.

With changes, questions change and answers change. As much as we would like to believe that the world is black and white and is set in stone; it surely is not. Rather the world is fluid. It is always changing and shifting, both figuratively and literally, and perhaps in the most minute ways. Those that wish to survive in it must learn to grow and adapt to the changes that are coming and that will come.

With the immense challenge that comes with keeping up with a changing world, there is a need to come to grips with the uncertainty that is sure to accompany those changes that will arise. More gray will be thrown into a world that is already muddled with many shades of gray between the already indistinguishable black and white. Undoubtedly, panic will ensue with some of the changes that perceivably threaten the status quo. People will not know what happens next, as much as we pride ourselves in believing we do know. Tempers will rise. Defensive mindsets will take over. Comfort will be sought within groups of like-minded people. Instead of built, bridges will be burned.

We see it all the time in politics and government, but this happens in the everyday as well. Bridges must be built and maintained between contesting ideas in order to promote meaningful solutions that each holder of a given idea believes to be correct. It is here, in these bridges, that the real work of problem solving is done. It takes hard work, a lot of communicating, and a little humility to find satisfying and agreeable solutions that will alleviate the problems that accompany a change that requires action or an obstacle to overcome.

However, we allow individual egos to get in the way (See the opening paragraph). Egos and the individual’s perception of need taints the process and clouds the issue that needs to be addressed. It is easy to see this everywhere. Just turn on the television. There are an endless number of voices and views which pander to individual wants, needs, and egos. They provide us a zone of comfort and an area of certainty within a truly uncertain world. Within them, we know our point of view is safe and right. It is easier to stay within those walls than it is to come out and experience another point of view, or at the very least, entertain one. Yet, in order to see the whole picture and find a solution to it, it is necessary to put egos on hold and allow “the better angels of our nature” to shine forth and show the way to meaningful solutions to issues that come with the changing world. Add to that time and patience and reflection, and we can accomplish anything.

I will be the first to admit that I am not the most patient person. I find it difficult to maintain a patient attitude, especially when there is a problem. Often, I will make my point of view known with little regard toward those who disagree with my position. Eventually, I will listen to an opposing idea, and after immediately dismissing it, I will take time to contemplate or even consider the prospect. It may not be right, but there is planted the seed of a possibility, the chance that an idea can be built which incorporates the better parts of competing views; and then, that idea, or multiple ideas, may be better on the whole than the original competing propositions.

It seems to me that this is the only way to bring about any meaningful change that has a chance of lasting. What most people are afraid of, I think, is the idea that they may come to empathize or sympathize with an idea or principle that is opposite to what they believe. They do not want to consider that, though their idea is right, there may be a better idea wandering in the fray. For many, to empathize, sympathize, or otherwise identify with a diametrically opposed position means to cast doubt on one’s own position or principles. If such is the case, then perhaps that position  or those principles require change, and there is nothing wrong with that.

It takes a strong character to be willing to look at one’s self, and what one believes, and see that a change is necessary. It happens to the best of us, even me, and will continue to happen. We learn new things through experience, and life is just that…a series of experiences. What we do with what we learn speaks volumes about the people we are and that which we want to be.

And maybe, just maybe, through learning by way of experience, we can adopt better principles upon which to lay stronger, more worthwhile, and sturdy foundations.

Guilty Pleasure

Since about Saturday night I have been feeling a little guilty, here’s the story…

I don’t remember what year it was, but when I went back to school to finally get my undergraduate degree, I got a laptop computer, an HP to be specific. I had a desktop, but the laptop seemed a more useful tool to use for writing papers and doing research and what have you. I carried that sucker everywhere and if I could find a table on which to work, I would stake my claim and get to work. It processed more than its fair share of papers and presentations, and downloaded a lot more than its fair share of research articles. It was a beast.

Sadly, after I graduated, my technological companion only made it about a year and a half before the motherboard crapped out on it. It was going to cost more to repair the motherboard than was originally paid for the computer. It was a sad, sad, sad day. I still have it. It still works…sort of. I can plug a monitor into it, but its laptoppiness is gone. Its portability is no more. I should probably get rid of it, but we are friends and I don’t like casting friends aside.

At the time I was working a job that paid peanuts, so the funds were not readily available to purchase a new techno-friend. I began doing some thinking and research on the next computer I would buy. After a lot of looking around, I settled on an ipad. This is one of the best purchases I have ever made. Like all purchases, there are some things that I wish were different, but my ipad and I have been together since 2011 and neither of us have looked back. It is super duper portable and it does not get much more user friendly, especially when it comes to the technologically inept, like me.

I type on it quite a bit even though the virtual keyboard and I are mortal enemies. I surf the web, check email, read articles, blog posts, and columns on it. I write blog posts and emails on it. I watch videos, listen to music, play games, and look at pictures on it. It is a useful machine, and has been a faithful friend for going on three years now.

However, the decision has been made by my wife and I that it is time for me to get it in gear and go back to school for even higher education. Now, even though I have my faithful friend of three years, I have used my trusty ipad to do more research on a new, more powerful friend.

Actually, I have known since before I bought my ipad what computer I wanted to buy next, but the expense was just too much so I felt it necessary to just wait and the time would eventually come when I could afford it. Patience. There was a lot of reading and a lot of thinking done during that time. I don’t do any gaming, so I don’t need a super fast PC. I read and write and take pictures and look at pictures. I watch videos. I do like storage space because I prefer to save everything. I wanted something that was going to be user friendly and would not crap out, because I am horrible with technology and not afraid to admit it.

After three long, arduous, computerless years, the time finally arrived. My wife sent me a text on Friday telling me that we would go after we got off of work and buy my computer. I knew exactly what I wanted, so we went into the store and went straight to a salesperson and I told him why I was there.  He went and got someone that would be better at helping me out, so I told her what I wanted. She  did not try to talk me into a different machine. She did try and upsell some coverage plans…warranties and what have you. One of which I bought. She also saved me $200, because, yes, I still carry my student ID in my wallet.

After swiping the magic debit card and signing for the charges, I received my computer, and went straight away to get it set up which was a breeze. I mean…a breeze. We got home and I played with it some, checking out some of the ins and outs…did a little typing on the keyboard, and it was heaven.

That was Friday.

The next day, Saturday, went along much like a well needed lazy day does. I had my delicious weekend coffee. I piddled with my new friend for a while off and on all day. Did a little housework and piddled some more. Then I laid down in the bed.

That is when it hit me. As I laid in the bed looking up at the ceiling in the dark, the thought crossed my mind that my new friend cost more than what was paid for my first car. It cost more than what some people pay for a car. It may not be a great car, but it’s a CAR.

So, the guilt hit me a little…not enough to take my new friend back, but a little, and it’s still there…not enough for me to take it back, but a little.

It is a wonderful machine and I hope that my Macbook Pro and I enjoy many years of typing, processing, researching, and net searching ahead.

This Needs a Title…

I don’t really know what made me think of it. I was in my car on the way to work and being grateful just popped into my noggin.

My brain does weird things. Don’t ask.

So, I thought about being grateful and, of course, what came up are the things for which I am grateful. There were a lot when I really got down to thinking about it. Then I got into the whole taking things for granted issue in my head. I do this a lot, too. I take things for granted. Lots of things. Then again, don’t we all?

The short version of things for which I am grateful goes like this…

Life.

I am grateful for life. Pretty short, eh? And it’s easy. Think of something in your life that does not bring pleasure, make the day better, make the day-to-day easier, make life worth living, or teach you in one way or another to live life, differently if needs be. All of that adds up to life. If you are not thankful for it, get rid of it. It isn’t worth having, doing, or suffering through.

I try to tell myself these things, and my self does not always listen, but sometimes it does, and my life is the better for it.

Then there are those things that I take for granted. Like I said, this is a big list. Pretty much it goes like this…

What do I take for granted?

Life.

Not always, but a lot of the time.  Other issues that seem important and life altering at the time tend to take precedent and demand immediate attention and action of some kind.

After taking a little time to consider what I am thankful for and what I take for granted, I have come to a conclusion.

For me anyway, those things which I am typically most thankful for are things that I want. Those things which I take the most for granted are those things that I need.

Now I could go into a long, drawn out debacle concerning those things I want and those things I need, but I won’t. I know what I need and know what I want…I think.  Here’s the thing, though. When I don’t get the things that I need, I feel off. Things don’t feel right. I might feel depressed. I’ll probably feel anger, and probably have a sense of despair. I don’t feel these often, but when I do, I feel it all down to my bones.

When I don’t get what I want, I tend to whine about it in that moment I want it…no…that moment that I think I need it. The situation in which the thing I want is needed passes, and the pissiness goes away. Sure, I will mull it over and wish for it should the desire arise again, but it just toddles off like a passing fancy. Usually anyway.

I have been thinking a lot about this over the last little while…weeks, months, years..a little while anyway. I’ve written countless pages about it in one of my little journal books, trying to understand it and cope with it. I know there are a LOT of books out there that will claim to tell people what they need and what they want, but how does some author or specialist that has never met me, spoken with me, or even seen me know what it is that I need or want? How do they know what makes me happy? How do they know what makes me sad? How do they know what angers me or depresses me?

There are some good general rules, I suppose, but each of us is different. We each experience life differently and have different experiences that add to the lives we live. I will not assume what makes you happy, but I am continually learning what makes me happy, and what makes my life worth living. I know this, writing, is one of those things. Sharing my thoughts with others makes me happy. It is something I need. It is even better when I find people that agree with me, though it does not happen as often as I like. That is something I want.

Needs and wants are pretty closely linked. They seem to be anyhow…to me, and with a world full of seemingly infinite possibilities to fulfill any number of wants and desires, it is easy to lose focus on what is really important.

I know I feel better when my needs are met, and for that I am most grateful. I am thankful for those wants that I have acquired as well; but it’s those things I need that I receive that bring the greatest joy and greatest sense of fulfillment to my life, and that is what’s important.

 

Severe Miscalculation

image

Since Sunday, maybe even before, my little corner of the world has been warned of some extremely bad weather coming our way on Tuesday and lasting through Wednesday.  If you follow the weather the way I do, then you know of the devestation and loss of life throughout the south due to the same weather that is supposed to be hitting us in north-central North Carolina. So like any weather geek with multiple weather apps on their phone and ipad, and weather sites bookmarked on their computer, I have been glued to them all…

watching…

waiting…

expecting…

I even began planning what I would do should an emergency present itself due to the weather. If at work, make my way to the central hallway or meeting room that is centrally located in the facility. If at my parents’ picking up my dog after work, make way to either of the bathrooms (the basement is full of instruments of death should 300 mph winds come about). If at my apartment, find solace in the bedroom closet with my better half and our dogs.

See…all figured out. Safety first, as they say.

The anticipation is almost gut-wrenching!

What you may not know about me is that I am a nut for thunderstorms. I love them. Always have. I enjoy sitting, or standing, out on the porch (covered of course) and watching the lightning flash and the wind blow and the rain pour from the sky. Sure, I get spooked from time to time and common sense prevails, telling  me to get my ass inside, and more often than not, I listen. I’m not without at least a little working gray matter upstairs. But, I love thunderstorms, so a sick and twisted part of me gets all giddy when I see a severe thunderstorm watch come up on my little weather apps…a severe thunderstorm warning is something akin to Christmas Eve. I know… there is something wrong with me. You don’t have to say anything.

You can imagine the level of anticipation I was feeling yesterday when I checked my weather apps first thing yesterday morning. SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS ALL DAY TUESDAY AND ALL DAY WEDNESDAY…lots of yellow, orange, and red on the future-cast radar…80% 90% 95% 100% chances for the foreseeable future. Call me a kid at the candy store with mom’s credit card.

Excitedly, as excitedly as first thing in the morning prior to coffee, I went through my strict weekday morning routine and headed off to meet the day ahead, watching the horizon and nearby sky for hints of the impending shit storm that was to be coming our way.

I drop my dog off…

Nothing.

I get to work…

Nothing.

Not so much as a little gust of wind. A little drizzle, which, I do not have to tell you, is about as annoying as it gets when it comes to weather…you can just never get the windshield wipers to wipe at the perfect interval.

Immediately, I check the weather.  The severe weather has been pushed back to beginning at lunch.

Great.

I check again at lunch time…it has been pushed back to starting during the midafternoon.

Check again at midafternoon, around 3ish, pushed back to dinnertime.

Check again…check again…check again…check again…

Pushed back…pushed back…pushed back…pushed back…

You can imagine my displeasure.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad my entire world has not been blown away. I’m glad I still have my life, my wife, my dogs, and my stuff. BUT not even a rumble of thunder…hell…not even a strong gust of wind…bigger hell…not even a gust of wind…barely a breeze…just dull, boring, gross gray sky and drizzle.  DRIZZLE!

My wife stayed at her place of business last night, being the good boss and facility director she is, in case anything catastrophic happened. I stayed home with my dog, expecting at any moment to be awakened by a freight train of wind and to hurry into the closet. I woke up multiple times to check the radar and the forecast to see that, again and again, the storms were pushed back. No awakening to rumbles of thunder or flashes of lightning or the pelting of rain or hail on the window by the bed, and awakening to the dull gray sky, the same sky I saw all day yesterday, this morning.

I know predicting the weather is not a perfect science, far from it. Lots of unpredictable things happen in a seemingly predictable world, but…damn (I was hoping to be a little more profound, but that’s all I’ve got).

I’m still looking at that gray sky now…still waiting…still watching…still checking…though expecting less and less.

Perfection, even if the coffee sucked!

This weekend was perfect, and I mean perfect in every sense of the word. Perfect weather, perfect timing, and a perfect partner. Everything about it was perfect. I cannot think of anything that could have made it better.

I have missed it…the feeling of no cares or worries. Nothing about work, no bad news concerning family. Just me and mine enjoying a perfect weekend together…just the two of us! Good food. Good times. Good drink. And the best company.

I cannot believe how well the weather cooperated. It seems like the rest of North Carolina went straight to severe weather hell, but not Charlotte. Perfect weather for a late afternoon walk to dinner. Perfect weather for catching a ballgame and perfect, PERFECT, weather for the late night walk back to the hotel…not to mention the perfet weather we had all day on Saturday for the many miles walked around downtown.

Well, there was one thing that was not perfect…the coffee (or so it was called) from Dean and Deluca…awful…plain awful…the antithesis of perfect, but that did NOT destroy the weekend or even the morning, but damn, it was awful. Needless to say, I am not friends with either Dean or Deluca…good riddance, and take your shitty coffee with you!

Beyond that misery that was supposed to be coffee, there is not a single thing that I can think of that would have made the weekend better, and that is the way weekends should be!

20140428-201440.jpg

A Muddled Thought from a Muddled Mind

So, I’ve been writing a bit more lately, both on here and in my little notebook of observations, quips, and thoughts. I’ve been reading, too…  A LOT.

I’ve come to learn that there are more than a few good writers out there, and by out there, I mean…well….out there. Wherever there is.  I read stuff that makes me chuckle. I read stuff that makes me think. Stuff that makes me smile. I’ve come across sad stuff, fun stuff, happy stuff, and other stuff.

I like it.

Different styles.  Different points of view. Different people.  It is all entertaining, informative, and educational.

I see writers that break the rules. I see writers that keep to the rule book.  I keep the rules I want and throw the others out, especially when doing my free writing. It makes it fun!

I’m working on something that is going to take some time to put together…time and a lot more thought than I have used in a long time. It may even require a little research.

I need more time in the day.

This whole “work” thing gets in the way.

I’ve got lots and lots to say.

But the lack of hours and minutes

keeps my fingers at bay.

And with that, I will end this little free writing session.

Looking out the Window at Work…

It’s a slow day, so I thought, “why not write?”

Truth is, I am bored at work. I mean…really bored.  So this will end up being a bunch of rubbish from start to finish. Sometimes I just like the feeling of typing something out. Always have. I can remember when I was a kid and our old Tandy computer with no games on it. I would find my way to the word processor and just start typing. Nothing of any real consequence (like this), but just typing. Maybe not even real words, just jibberish like this…

ajkekmenjdn dikenyeooie ,fnliha wusndimfb vi fjknf fhjs nsl,fnlufhyrnosnuemdnaha.

I don’t know why. It is just something I would do when I was bored…kind of like now.

There is somethng that has me thinking this morning, but I’m not quite sure I am ready to tackle it just yet. I did leave a bit of a cliffhanger with one of my previous posts asking what do I want to see concerning being the change one wants to see in the world.

As I sit here at work, that comes across my mind as a pretty complex question, and one that I probably shouldn’t try to answer, but sometimes it’s good to go with your gut. So here goes…

What do I want to see?

I want to see a world without apathy. I want to see a world where people care about something beyond themselves and their wants. I want people to consider others when they make decisions. I want more empathy in the world. I want to see more people care for one another. I want a world without labels. I want a world that is inhabited by human beings. Not Europeans. Not Americans. Not Asians or Mexicans or Latinos or Hispanics or Whites or Blacks or Chinese or Japanese or Italians or Greeks or Germans or Turks or Iraqis or Iranians or Christians or Jews or Muslims or Buddhists or Hindus or Sikhs or Eskimos or Canadians (don’t ask me why Canadians came up last. I don’t know). I want to see people live according to their fullest potential and see them happy doing so.  I want to see myself living according to my fullest potential and be happy doing so. I want to see a world without regret. I want to see others living without regret. I want to see others and myself learning from those regrets and no longer regretting them. I want the poor to no longer be poor. I want the sick to be healthy. I want to see it snow. I want to see the sun shine. I want to see it rain. I want to see the wind blow. I want to see the sun rise and set. I want to see the moon.  I want to see the ocean and the tides.  I want to see a world where possibilities are realities everyday. And right now, at this very moment, I want to see food because I am starting to get hungry.

What do you want to see?

Living and Being Alive

“But I say the priority of the Christian life is for us [to] receive life, and having received it, to be like Jesus and bring life, give life, to have our aliveness bring aliveness to others.”

Philip Gulley, “The Awakened Soul, pt. 11: Life Giving”

This one has had me thinking ALL DAY.  Though written by a Christian writer, I think it has universal implications, much like “The Golden Rule.”

What do you think?

Also, I’m pretty jazzed about the fact that I have figured out how to insert a hyperlink.  It doesn’t take much for the technologically inept to feel an immense level of pride in small technological accomplishments!

 

Currents of Change

Do  you ever get that urge to write and when you are finally able to sit down to put a thought together, nothing comes out?  How annoying is that!

It’s cloudy as I stare out the window.  Rain is probably on the way to give an oh so damp start to the Easter weekend.  I’m sure the birds singing outside are as excited about the rain as I am…

I’ve been reading an excellent book lately.  It is excellent because it forces me to sit back and look at myself and how I live my life. How often do we do that?  How often do we sit back, slow down and take a minute to look at ourselves?  I don’t do it nearly enough.  I tend to allow the grind of the everyday take over and allow the S.S. Routine to follow the current mindlessly.

I’ve been working on making it a point to make some changes.  A little bit at a time, mind you.  Too much change at once, and my head just might explode.

One big change that I have made is that I do not follow the news nearly as religiously as I have in the past.  It’s just too damn depressing, and often times incredibly negative.  There is good news out there, but it’s beneath the fold, if you know what I mean.  I still read an article or two, or maybe even three, that I might come across on facebook, but nothing like what I used to do.

With the change in my news consumption, I’ve been following less with politics.  Current politics, that is.  Now, that is some depressing shit.  Grown men and women acting like petulant children and they get paid for it…a lot!  I spend more energy and time reading about ideas.  Old ideas, new ideas, just ideas and ideologies to try to get a handle on the root of the problem that is the lack of civil debate and consensus in our politics.

Really what it is is that I am disgusted with it all.  I love politics and studying government, don’t get me wrong.  What I don’t like are the folks that are playing in the role of government at the current time.  Will it change?  Time will tell.  I hope it does, and sometime soon, but I’m going to do my best to not lose any sleep over it.

I posted something on my facebook page the other day, “Be the change you want to see.”  I think Gandhi said it.  It doesn’t really matter who said it.  Does such a phrase really need a great name to accompany it in order to give it merit?  I don’t think so.  I’m working on it, trying to find that extra spring for my step instead of mindlessly trudging along, finding how to be the change I want to see.

What do I want to see, you ask?  Maybe on the next post.

Sometimes the cup runneth over…

As a child I spent a great deal of time daydreaming and looking out of windows.  Be it in the car, the classroom, home, work, the library, or anywhere else you can think of, if there is a window, I’m still looking out of it. Sometimes admiring the view.. Sometimes thinking of nothing. Sometimes thinking of something. Something troubling. Something pleasant. Solving the world’s problems in my head. Solving my problems in my head. Remembering something I’ve seen or heard. Remembering someone I know or knew. Thinking of someone I don’t. That is what this little space will catch; whatever runs over the rim.

Often,  I don’t do much thinking when it comes to writing. I just write whatever is on my mind, much like now. I will ramble. The road will turn and curve, but I eventually get to where I want to go, and that usually ends up starting a new road. A new thought for a new day. My mind is never dull, well, to me anyway. It is always full of images and words that mean something of either great importance or less than trivial.

Either way, there is something always there, always working, and always searching. Try it some time. Look out the window and see what you can find.