Thursday, September 29, 2011

A Place Uncrowded

I have been thinking lately, and forgive me if this comes across too harsh, but I feel like America needs a wake up call.  This country was founded on principles of hard work, moral values, and responsibility.  I am not saying it always ran well, but the mere idea that doing the right thing and accepting responsibility have been corner keystones in this democracy where WE THE PEOPLE assume responsibility for our actions. 

This thought brought me to the pondering why, then, do we allow mediocrity to thrive?  Why have we said it is ok to push the blame?  You may ask what brought this to my attention.  Knowing my academic background you may think it is the state of the economy or the fact that there are problems in Iran or even the uprisings in Libya and Serbia.  Alas, although those things trouble me, that have not been what has awakened me. 

I was talking with a co-worker earlier this week who informed me her son’s English teacher has come to the conclusion it is ok for students to write essays in text logo as long as they make sense.  Due to the idea that the Obama administration has been pushing math and science as the fields to enter, the English teacher feels writing is a dying practice.  I don’t work in a field where I write a lot, but I work in a field where I correspond with legal officials on a daily basis; moreover, I must write coherently and cohesively when billing to support the bill that is going out.  I have friends who work in law enforcement and others as engineers and they, too, must write to support their ideas.  Which brings me to the question, why text writing, if not ok in a professional field, is alright in an educational one, where we prepare our students for the professional field?  My only conclusion is we have given up and believe that mediocrity is the new star in which to reach.

Further, when talking with an acquaintance who will be attending a Halloween party this year in which the theme is stories, I suggested she read the story from which her character originated.  Most fairy tales as scary (just pick up a Brothers Grimm if you do not believe me), so it is kind of fun to read them again this time of year.  She informed it was too much work because she doesn’t read.  When someone else suggested she start reading more to improve her vocabulary, she simply looked as if that was too much work.  Why have we said it is ok to not challenge ourselves to be better? I believe the answer is because we do not want to take on the responsibility of following through with our actions.

This leads me to my next point. We have gotten so use to mediocrity that when held to the standard of responsibility we shift the blame to others or pretend as though we did not know something.  I think Reliant K said it best when they sang, “The truth is excuses are lame.  Accept the consequence, accept the blame.”  We are not perfect and mistakes happen, but we can not allow ourselves to learn if we shift responsibility, if we say mediocrity is ok. 

America is declining in power because we have changed our moral outlook.  Instead of hard work and responsibility we have allowed ourselves to take the easy road, the path that every one treads, because it is just that…easy.  We cannot expect to pull ourselves out of this mess if we do not first step away from the politics and start being the change in our own lives and circle of friends.  If we do not begin to understand there is more to life this meager road, we doom ourselves to always being second or third best.  We are called to be great.  So let us start living as such.  After all, being great is one of the few places left uncrowded in this world. 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Failure...or is it?

I love autumn.  There is something about the leaves turning varieties of orange, red, and yellow with the crisp sent of fresh air that makes my heart light.  The winds of change come through and quite our hearts and remind us of things like the family, rest, and, who can forget the amazing food! 

But something new has been in the air this year.  Aside from the shorter days and cool nights, this year the winds have brought a new sense of life.  Questions of dreams, legacy, and prospects of who and what we are broadcast throughout the nations and the quite restlessness of my heart.  

From Egypt riots to Palestine’s questions of statehood, to the economic crisis that has left even the most stable running for the bank, the world is full of change.  This has called into question ideas of who we are as a nation and for what we stand.  People are quick to pass judgment on how decisions are being made in the political and diplomatic world without seriously considering the processes and consequences of each decision that is made.  Failure seems to be a popular word these days in many circles.  Yet, those same people are much less quick to judge their own decisions and life.  Why?  Because it is scary.

This idea came to me as I was listening to another person complain about the state of the nation.  I thought how easy it is for us to look at the bad and fail to see the good.  But, more so, I thought how easy we switch focus from ourselves to things beyond our own control.  So, I thought I would evaluate my own life and dreams.  

When I was in high school, contrary to what most people believe, I had no idea what I was going to do with my life.  I thought, much like most people I went to school with, that I would be married by the time I was twenty-five.  I thought I would have seen the world, and with good measure I would have a great job.  If I judged my life by those goals today, I would be a failure (and I will be honest, sometimes it feels that way).  However, I have discovered I have new goals and dreams, many have been informed by the former and I have succeeded at accomplishing those goals.

For me, marriage is not the goal for a couple reasons.  Half of all marriages end in divorce and of the remaining 50% I would say half are unhappy marriages.  Not great prospects.  The reason they end is because they are set upon the societal expectation of marrying.  This is a false hood.  We are not called to get married (not that I have anything against it).  The greatest commandment is not to marry God and the marry others.  Nay, it is to love God and then love others.  So my new goal is simply to love…and hopefully be loved in return.  I believe I have succeeded in that goal ten fold.  

Secondly, though I have traveled and do wish to see all seven continents before I die, I do believe that traveling in and of itself is not worth it.  Just seeing the tourist sites offers much to be desired in the purpose of travel.  One must learn about the culture they visit.  Not only does it help encourage friendship and understanding, but it opens our eyes to a world of difference.  How can we expect to love and be loved if we isolate our understanding of others?  So, my new goal is to travel with purpose.  When I visit a new place I have learned to learn about the culture I visit whether that be domestic travel or international.  Through this process the travel experience has been heightened and my love for others has increased (back to goal one).  

Lastly, every one wants a good job…I think it is innate.  We all desire to work well at something we love.  Though I have yet to find that, I have not given up hope that I will one day.  So, until that particular goal has been fulfilled I have modified it, to be a help not a harm to those I work with and to do so with a joyful heart and gratitude attitude.  After all, I am one of the fortunates who have a job and an income.  Additionally I have the bonus of working by the beach so I get a walk on the beach every day at lunch.  The perk is enough sometimes. 

When you look at these goals (and they are not all my goals), it would be easy to say, “She is a failure.”  After all, I am a single twenty something in a crappy job stuck in California.  And I suppose, with those glasses, I am a failure.  But I see myself as just getting started.  The processes have changed a little and the reality is that my goals have too.  So, am I failure?  Nay!  I am an adapter and fighter.  

I challenge you this week, amidst all the doom and gloom coming from the newspapers and the challenges of making the bills and dealing with that one person at work you would rather shove the pencil through than talk to, that you re-evaluate your own life.  Remember that by the same measure you judge others, so shall you be judged.  And then, when that fails, remind yourself that you are amazing and worth the adaptation of noticing the small gifts of success you truly have achieved.  

Monday, September 12, 2011

Fates Determination

I stand before a granite door with hinges rusted through
Dwarfed in size, the patterns swore into skies of blue
Hands tremble as I contemplate the choice I have to make
Turn away and life is gay or knock and see my fate

The road behind I know too well is full of broken hearts
The sins of past and heartless acts echo tearing me apart
The dark behind has left me blind to all I can become
The shadows cast eerie apparitions I cannot break away from

Before me stands a fate unknown which stupefies my soul
To walk right through could bring me to a grand celestial pole
Or cast me back into the fulminating adumbrates
Harm intent they hold in hand perfect little bait

My heart cries out for what it knows, my mind is overcome.
Hand reaches high and knows not how, yet sounds upon the drum
Breath does catch as the unknown has now come to unfold
Change is neigh and conscience wry I stand alone and cold

What once was so enveloping has now lost all its pertinence
As shadows slurk and stalk away in irascible discontent
I, paralyzed am struck by Olympian silhouettes
As compelled I am to step forward to possible new threats

What is to be is not yet known, nor can I expect it so
The path is laid before now I just have to go
To take the steps demanded of is only half the battle
Learning from what’s left behind will prove I am no chattel

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Blusterous Hurricane of Life

Sometimes life gets the better of us…or so we think.  As the hurricane of change sweeps across our lives and brings the destruction across our glassy seas of perpetual peace, we find ourselves clinging to the reality that we all live in glass houses and in our obliteration comes a phoenix on the rise. 

Anyone who sees my calendar these days or knows about the perpetual state of change I have found myself in, knows that a hurricane is still blowing here in Southern California.  I have found myself sick in bed these past week as my body rebels against all I have put it through these past few weeks.  From changing roles in relationships as people move away (will miss my long lost brother and sister-in-law…be safe in the rampaged disaster that is the East Coast), friends get married, jobs change and friends battle health problems, we learn who we are and who our real friends are. 

In this tumultuous time I found myself reminded of a long lost friend, Miss Jane Eyre.  Anyone who has known me for any real length of times knows I met Miss Eyre at age ten.  A friend from high school inquired if I had had the privilege of reading this brilliant book, and I fondly remembered my long forgotten amiee. 

As I have been sick in bed, once the book I had been reading was completed I picked up my old friend and began rekindling the fire between us. Within the first few pages I came across a poem about a poor orphan girl and it spoke to me in a new way.  I felt I should share the brilliant words of Miss Bronte with you:

My feet they are sore, and my limbs they are weary;
Long is the way, and the mountains are wild;
Soon will the twilight close moonless and dreary
Over the path of the poor orphan child.

Why did they send me so far and so lonely,
Up where the moors spread and grey rocks are piled?
Men are hard-hearted, and kind angels only
Watch o’re the steps of a poor orphan child.

Yet distant and soft the night-breeze is blowing,
Clouds there are none, and clear stars beam mild,
God, in His mercy, protection is showing,
Comfort and hope to the poor orphan child.

Ev’n should I fall o’er the broken bridge passing,
Or stray in the marshes, by false lights beguiled,
Still will my Father, with promise and blessing,
Take to his bosom the poor orphan child.

There is a thought that for strength should avail me,
I hough both of shelter and kindred despoiled;
Heaven is home, and a rest will not fail me;
God is a friend to the poor orphan child.

Never have I felt so weary and sore (both figuratively and literally).  Sometimes we find weariness in change and continuity alike, and right now, I feel this weariness creep into the depths of my bones, giving a chill of exhaustion.  I see the journey to purpose and completion long and tiresome.  And yet, God has brought me comfort and protection through friends and family, through small poems, and grand tableau vivant. 

Looking at the obliteration of Irene and the paralleling swirling sea that has captured my life, I see how true this poem is to even those of us with parents.  For are we not all strangers in this land?  Are we not all in a land lonely and far from our true home?  I am reminded once again, as oft I am, that my Friend and Father will show protection to me in this frenzied and chaotic time, guiding me on the path to Home where rest will encircle and caress these weary eyes. 

I pray those caught in the damage of Irene see the beauty that is around them, the hand of God in the helpful neighbor who helps remove a tree from the road, in the city worker who is helping to clean the streets instead of his home so that the people can begin getting about, in the sheer beauty of the transition of change that may open doors to incredible opportunities never before seen. 

Hurricanes, proverbial or otherwise, teach us of the mighty power of Him who created us; but also of the gentle heart that leads us home.  I pray now that though we sometimes are ungrateful and angry, that our Father will still, with promise and blessing, take to his bosom his ungrateful child.