Things worth considering

I work for a state agency in Texas. Our assistant commissioner for our agency likes to send out weekly bulletins. I like his writing, and I like him. He’s a smart guy. He also understands the ‘structure’ of governmental agencies, and how things can be slow to change…….even when you want them to hurry up!  This is an excerpt from his bulletin sent this week…..I like it.

“Many of you know Cassini as the space probe launched in 1997 and arriving in orbit around Saturn in 2004.  The pictures returned from this probe are amazing (just go on-line to view) along with the scientific data.  The mission ended on September 15th of this year as the spacecraft coordinators sent Cassini into a final dive into Saturn’s atmosphere.

Aside from the incredible scientific and space exploration accomplishments, Cassini demonstrated a principle of patience.  From launch to arrival at Saturn took 6 years/225 days, the mission itself lasted 19 years/335 days.  An employee with NASA would’ve had to spend 20 years in the same area to participate in mission launch to mission completion (this does not include the frontend concept, design and build or post mission data analysis components of the accomplishment).

I note the above to raise the emphasize the advantages of patience, perseverance and time…….”

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Life in the Now

{Although a bit stale, here is a bit from a NY times article published March 15th of last year}

 

Article’s Title: ‘The Shame Culture’ (speaking of ‘life’ via the internet these days)

“……….people are extremely anxious that their group might be condemned or denigrated. They demand instant respect and recognition for their group. They feel some moral wrong has been perpetrated when their group has been disrespected, and react with the most violent intensity.

Crouch describes how video gamers viciously went after journalists, mostly women, who had criticized the misogyny of their games. Campus controversies get so hot so fast because even a minor slight to a group is perceived as a basic identity threat.

The ultimate sin today, Crouch argues, is to criticize a group, especially on moral grounds. Talk of good and bad has to defer to talk about respect and recognition. Crouch writes, “Talk of right and wrong is troubling when it is accompanied by seeming indifference to the experience of shame that accompanies judgments of ‘immorality.’”

 

I should point out that a writer with the NY Times was touting (in a positive light) an article that was ultimately published in Christianity Today……heck, that’s worth noting alone!

I find it funny (if not bizarre) that there are no more ‘fringe’ groups anymore!  Every group/clique/cluster-of-minimally-meaningful-weirdos has now been legitimized via the digital ocean.

 

 

Maybe this’ll help someone……

I generally don’t get too carried away here in terms of mental health stuff, but I thought I’d toss this into the ether as it might help someone out there. I could make this a REALLLLLL-LLLLLLYYYYY long post but I’m busy and not in the mood to do that right now.

This summer, while away on vacation, I had some time to do a little thinking about a few things…..to take stock of where I am and what I’m doing in my life. I’m in my mid-40’s (and sliding rapidly toward my LATE 40’s!)…..so these kinds of thing tend to happen around this time in a person’s life.

I make my living in the field of social services, which as anyone knows DOESN’T tend to reward workers in a large monetary sense of the word! A good number of years back, I spent some time in healthcare administration….and made EXCELLENT money, but it was VERY stressful on me and my family. Here’s the critical thing: I had several flavors of superiors (‘Senior V.P.’s’ blah-blah-blah….you get the idea). I generally DID NOT feel like I was cut out to climb the ladder and become one of those types of corporate talking-head type guys…..fine, great, groovy. In my self-talk, I might say: ‘I’m just not that type of guy.’ …….and hey, that’s perfectly fine. HOWEVER,  during my ‘epiphany’ I came to realize that, in very subtle ways, I’d been insulting myself for NOT TRYING TO BE one of those kinds of guys. I’d been tormenting (so-to-speak) myself for not being one of those conquer-the-universe type guys! On one side of my brain, I knew what I was/wasn’t…..but on the other side of my brain, I spent a lot of time calling myself a ‘loser’ etc.  That’s really twisted……..and so strange to me that I was just ‘deaf’ to that.  To continue this thought further, I’ve often been a ‘You’re OK, I’m not OK’ kind of person. I lean toward…..’Everyone else is on a cruise’……’Everyone else is getting promoted’…..’Everyone else is getting a raise’ in my mind……..all the while, ignoring the people who’re failing/struggling left-and-right!

So, here’s the deal: Life is hard……..FOR EVERYONE! That neighbor of yours, who’s always doing great…….he isn’t……….trust me on that. Everyone you know is struggling, and clawing and huffing and puffing their way through the day JUST THE WAY YOU ARE. One of those guys I know (I respected him, and still do today)……he experienced HUGE amounts of success in a company I worked for. Then, one day, his wife couldn’t pick up a dish. He took her to the hospital, right during the midst of his perfect life and his perfect kids (each of whom belonged on a magazine cover)….and his amazing house and his incredible salary…….to learn she had a massive brain tumor. She died 18 months later, at 42…..and his world got turned upside down….his beautiful, sweet, intelligent wife, who adored him and their kids.  I don’t glory or revel in that….I care about that guy……but life didn’t hand him perfection……’cause it NEVER promised that it would to begin with. No one gets perfection…..no one. 

On Dreams Re-Realized

When I was young (as in, very early 20’s)…..I had BIG dreams. I didn’t, however, have a solid plan mapped out for how I would bring those dreams to pass. Oh, I had a ‘map’ (metaphorically speaking), just a teeny scribble on a scrap of paper floating around up in me head. My plan was to, ultimately, become an amalgamation of Dr. Phil and Donald Trump….I like to jokingly say (technically, this was LONG before your common bear had even heard the name Dr. Phil and eons before ‘The Donald’ decided he wanted to be The Chief…..but I digress).

I pretty much always liked books and learning……but high school was soooooooo-ooooo boring! Theater and music and church were life, man! That’s all that mattered! So, after a stint in the military, I started college at 20…..dreaming of being a Licensed Professional Counselor (or something of that ilk). I was generally much better at ‘the college thing’ than I was at high school stuff.  I thought, that, just a few years down the road,  I’d have a big office with huge windows and a water feature in the lobby and I’d write shelves of books and go on speaking tours and I’d be this wizened sage and would, of course, make waterfalls-of-money on a regular basis. I even went to work for a community mental health center, that schooled me well on the realities of working with people who struggle with problems.

Well, I didn’t bring grad. school to pass. I do ply my trade as a social worker these days, which is a noble undertaking, albeit one that isn’t heavily rewarded in the money category. I finished college…….not long after that, my Mom’s health began to take its final, radical nose dive, though. My step dad left this world 19 months after Mom left it…..and my father is really a non-starter in the parenting department. Those things, plus about 10-12 other factors which I’m leaving out……and I just didn’t make grad. school happen……I just didn’t. Officially speaking…..I never really even started grad. school….I didn’t.

Sure, there was some ‘other stuff’ in terms of college after graduating…….some psychology pre-reqs (which I took too soon after my Mom’s passing….not in a good place for academics, but I still managed to muddle through for the most part). A little computer science……one or two graduate Sociology classes, etc. I even later earned an undergrad. Certificate from a college in West Texas.   I’m rambling a bit, but I’m really going somewhere here, trust me.

Sometimes, when you’re young…….you build this VERY NARROW tower in your mind (more of a ladder, to be exact)….and you think: ‘I intend to achieve success. Therefore, I will do step 1, then step 2, then step 3…………..blah-blah-blah, and when I get to step 30, I will have arrived!! That will be it….I will have succeeded!’  In reality, life rarely works like that! Life is NEVER perfectly linear, for anyone!! Things don’t move in perfect sequence……they just don’t. You might get 80% into your ‘big plan’ and realize: ‘This isn’t at all what I wanted!!’  You might become a parent, and find out your child has a serious medical condition…….that impacts your ability to pursue some of your dreams! What I’m saying, (clumsily) is this: life can hold many rewards for you that you never thought were possible when you were young…….so don’t let them fly right by you! I’ve ‘gained’ things or ‘succeeded’ at things or have ‘become’ [positive] things that I’d never have even conceived of when I was 20 years old.

Take a minute…..look around at your life and congratulate yourself for the GOOD things you are and have done in your time on this earth! Don’t let your ‘little’ accomplishment slip right past you!

It’s All Good

This post has been a long time coming!!  I’m tired and busy right now, so I need to make it brief. I’ve spent too much time thinking my life is ‘small’……..many mechanisms of modern life can contribute to that type of mindset. There’s been a lot of dialogue about that very thing lately; ‘Everyone’s life is great and mine isn’t……..just look at Facebook and you’ll see!”  Poppycock, I say.

I have a great life. I have two amazing kids. I have a (fairly) loving wife. I have a good job and a good home in a good neighborhood. I have a smart brain and a good education. I help others who have a hard time helping themselves.

I can exert very little control over what mean people do to nice people who own a pizzeria in Indiana. I can do very little to impact human trafficking in Cambodia. I doubt that I can do a lot this week to effect polar ice caps or radiation leakage somewhere. Nope I don’t own anything that floats.  But, I can do something and I do do MANY things to help the world while living a full life. No, my life isn’t amazing. It isn’t filled with supermodels and high performance motorcycles (and whatever other stupid material thing that wont come to mind right now!) But I have good people and good co-workers and good neighbors and good fellow church-members in my life…..and that’s good. My life is good and I want to keep giving GOOD back to the world. I’m OK….I’m really, really OK…..and that’s great. Heck, that’s a long way from a ‘small life’!

Remember all the good in your life. Entropy resides all around us. Drink in today’s good stuff….because it won’t last forever!

It is what you make it!

Yucky!

I’m weird. I’m not particularly ashamed of it. I like esoteric things.

I work for a state agency…..and some months ago, I found a gigantic stack of old forms (from the 1970’s!!) near the big office shredder and I thought they were cool. Apparently, they’re the documentation concerning call-ins that people would make to complain about various public health issues. Here’s one (pretty much verbatim) from April 1977:

“Mrs. ‘B’ from Myrtle Springs, Texas calls in stating she has a shallow well for water supply. She complains that her next door neighbor has a mobile home and runs sewage out on the ground, less than 100 feet from her well. Couple both work in Dallas.

Action taken: Wrote letter — check June 20 — Called Mrs. ‘B’ Aug 8 — she said nothing has been done. Inspected this place with Mrs. ‘L’s’ son, 3-21-78 [nearly a year later!!!] Septic tank and field lines have been installed and apparently are working properly.”
—————— It appears to’ve been closed on 3/22/1978