Tuesday, October 25, 2005


I admit: I'm a bit of a poker addict. I don't think I'd consider myself a gambling addict, since I rarely really risk any of my own money online and I have a good amount of self control with setting limits and all that. But I love to play poker. The thing about it is, it sometime makes me think about life. (seriously, this is not in any way an attempt to justify my addiction with empty notions of some personal good coming from it - I'm just writing my thoughts, jeez). For instance, I was playing online today, this big 3500 person multitable game for a dollar. And it was really weird. I started off really badly, and after about a round about the table, I was down to 68 chips (from the 1000 I started with). Part of it was bad timing. I had two of a kind on the flop when someone else got a bigger two of a kind on the turn. But that's neither here nor there. I was way down, and I didn't really think I'd have the ability to come back. So some time passes, and some guy made a bluff and I called him with a low pair, and to my relief, I made the right call and doubled up to the 1 hundred's. Still not a great stack, and I waited a long time before going on, still thinking I had hardly any chance. Then I got pocket kings and went all in. I doubled up again and had around 350. That was cool, but that's still a crappy chip stack and I didn't expect much. So eventually I just decided to go all in with a J, 10, suited, and I got lucky against an A, 6. So I'm around 600, and I'm thinking, wow, I'm actually in this game. That's awesome. I could actually pull this off and stay in for a long time. Soon after that I got POCKET ACES. The very best two cards you can have before a flop. To top it off, some other guy went all in with his Q, J. I was excited, smiling at my lukely good fortune. I, of course, went all in, and lost to a straight, 8 to Q, and I'm out of the game at around 2000th place. Terrible, not that I expected much right away. But holy crap.

Okay, so what does all this have to do with anything? I just don't understand. I think I'm going to lose and I win. I think I'm going to win and I lose. The most unlikely things happen over and over, and nothing I think or try to do can in any way affect the outcome of anything. I hesitate to relate life to a game of chance. But really, how many things happen to us that we have no control over. It starts with where we're born. Who our parents are, how much money they have, how good they are as parents, what country they live in. After that, we get good or bad teachers. We get overlooked or noticed. We're good-looking or ugly. We're smart or idiotic. How is this not in some way like "the cards" we've been given? We do what we can to succeed in life, and then life just happens to us. We put in extra hours at work, and then something goes wrong with the car. (yes, it happened to me recently. argh). It's like that song "Ironic."

I'm not really sure that I can afford to look at life that way, but it's hard not to. Things just seem to happen just to prove me wrong when I build up such pride as to think I might know what's going to happen. Opportunities come out of nowhere, when the ones I sought after fall through. It's like life is dicated with the sole purpose of defeating my expectations. I don't actually believe that, nor do I intend to lead my life according to that impression, but it is the way it seems. I just wonder why things happen the way that they do.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

All this to say...

I write about things like courage and heroes and greatness and other stuff, and I think I do that, reevaluating everything, because I want to avoid settling for life the way it is. It always bothered me, if only a little, when people in church reminded us to pay attention to the little miracles, as if we're supposed to be amazed at little things that aren't really all that impressive, merely because there isn't anything more impressive. That, of course, is not the way they'd say it, and if I put it to them that way, they'd sputter and argue that that's not what they meant at all. But it always struck me as an excuse, a reason not to get discouraged about not being incredibly amazed. If we change our opinion of what is amazing, then we don't have to feel like we're not seeing something impressive. What if we did that with things like courage? Or morality? Or responsibility? If we think of any little thing we do as courageous, we don't need to worry if we can't think of a great story. If we just focus on the little things we're responsible with, we don't have to worry that our we haven't met our longterm goals. It seems cheap. It seems sad to me.

But I don't want to cheapen the little things either. They add up. But let's call a spade a spade. If I help a homeless guy on the street one random night, it's a good thing. But it's not like I really did much of anything. Without downplaying it in anyway, it was just a little thing. But the sum of our little things become the true great things. A man who lives a life where each moment is significant, lives a life equal to the sum of all those significant moments. Those who let those moments pass who experience only mundane, only existence, with no life, the sum of that life is smaller. It is diminished. Am I contradicting myself then, saying the little things matter after just saying how sad it is that people focus on the little things to avoid discontentment with the grand scheme? Not really. Because what I'm saying is that one little thing isn't going to tip the scales in favor of the greater well-lived life. The whole of life is a pattern made up of the small. All the little things are parts of that pattern, and if they do not fit the pattern of an outstanding amazing life, then neither will the pattern of the whole.

All this is to say that I want life to be amazing. And to me, there should be no excuse for it being anything but. To look at life and say, I am not amazed, is a travesty, an insult to the amazing life that God has created, the freedom that Christ has provided. I want to provide the world with wonder, so that we can be awed by majesty, raptured in beauty, and inspired by greatness. So the question always returns, how can I get it so that I'm not a hypocrite. I refuse to spout my diatribes of excellence and amazement, only to binge on the depressant of mediocrity. I commit my soul to success in this life, and if I do not achieve it, then may my blood run dry and my heart stop it's beating, for it would only be useless noise. To quote a favorite movie of mine, "All men die. Not every man truly lives."

Okay, I think that's enough pontification for one night. Later

Wednesday, October 19, 2005


I really wish I knew the secret of energy. Not like I care what it's really made of or what we can truly learn from the atomic level. That's all scientific hoo-haa to me, anyway. But how do I grasp and hold on to energy? I'm not talking about the energy that comes from Mountain Dew, either. That kind of energy doesn't make you want to write a novel or compose a symphony or inspire you to travel the world and help the poor. That's just momentary. I'm talking about the kind of energy that motivates. When you're sitting in your chair and instead of flipping on the TV, you start writing and you write something that is really cool and you're all into it and you just can't stop and you look at it a couple days later and wonder, how the hell did I work up the energy to do that and why don't I have it now? That's what I'm wondering about. Attaining to levels of greatness, if that's what one desires, it seems to me, would involve a great amount of that kind of energy. Do you just need the right amount of sleep? The right intake of food? The right amount of exercise? Do your thoughts need to just convince your brain to produce those kind of brainwaves that trigger those kind of hormones that cause that kind of energy to erupt in your system? I don't know, but I'd kind of like to find out. Sometimes I get tired of being unmotivated. I've been doing better recently, but I'd like to have that a greater amount of the time.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

treading water

It's always been hard for me to let down my guard around people. I've always been a guarded person. And I've been thinking about it, recently. Especially since my recent escapades in the realm of questioning reality and the power of the mind (starting to see the real meaning of the phrase "mind over matter"), I've been increasingly open to the world around me, whereas before, I always closed myself off, trying to be nice to people while keeping my distance. And I'm remembering sometimes why I closed myself off in the first place.

My brother has always been the really sensitive one in the family. The strange thing is, I'm starting to think that maybe I'm built to be as sensitive as he is, maybe more so. That's not to say I act sensitive. But I've always been attuned to the underlying emotions of the people around me. I think early on I was so sensitive to it, I walled myself off. First of all, I think that's part of where my self-consciousness comes from. I'm not nearly as bad as I used to be, but I grew up always aware of what people were saying, the looks they gave me, the things they said and the feelings they emitted. And I copied them. Somewhere along the line, it started to hurt (not the copying - the sensitivity). A friendship would shatter and I'd take it so personally. My hopes for a certain future would fail, and my emotions would be so strong, I couldn't live with it without building up safeguards. Now I don't even know how to be good friends with anyone even. Trust takes a long time and openness comes difficult. I don't know when this started. I can't point to any specific time. I'm probably being overdramatic about the oh-so-ordinary events of my life. I was probably always this way, careful, cautious, analytical and guarded.

The thing is, I've been coming to believe that we are all connected, that there is more to our existence than a bunch of little bubbles colliding every now and then. It is more like a great pool. Every drop of water affects every other. Maybe not enough to make waves, but enough to... enough. So when I lower walls and try to use my mind and my existence to bless the world and make a difference and all that fun stuff, I collide with the reality from which I walled myself off, from which I became calloused. Sometimes it is beautiful and wonderful. Sometimes I go, "eaugh!" and cringe and grimace in horror. The negativity around me becomes stark and difficult, a presence to grapple with and wrestle with every moment of the day. It is better than just sleeping beneath the surface, being tossed back and forth by the waves. But it is difficult. Love and goodness are not easily maintained. And they must be maintained. It's like treading water, staying above the surface. You can never stop kicking. Not until you're rescued or you reach the shore.

So what do I do? Well, besides keep treading?

Wednesday, October 05, 2005


From my handwritten Journal:

"I do not know how people see me now, but since I've been changing my attitude and perspective through meditation and controling my thought life, it seems like people are drawn to me. I keep seeing people I used to know. People I normally see around start saying hello and smiling. I am smiling and talking to more people. Things that seem portentious might only be... results. Plain and simple. Interesting. Portents, omens, signs - perhaps not guideposts for lost travelers, but merely the effects of a life lived well."

I had my first very challenging day on Monday. After too little sleep, I had a very difficult shift at work, and I nearly lost my temper a couple of times. The fact that I would even come close is very disheartening to me. I had one small victory - in the middle of growing very annoyed at one particular table I went back to the kitchen and took rein on my thoughts, changing them around and convincing myself that I could be at peace and be friendly with this table. The rest of the time, I was able to be genuinely friendly with them, and in return they seemed to genuinely smile. They left a crappy tip, but I expected that regardless of their mood, and at least they were smiling. A victory, in terms of overcoming difficulties with anger and frustration, which had been held at bay for over a month and a half. I don't know what changed, other than lack of sleep, which I didn't think was overly severe. But with an optimistic look on the morrow, I spent a happy day at work yesterday and even picked up an extra expo shift and managed to leave work smiling under the pouring rain.

Monday reminds me, or perhaps teaches me for the first time in truth, that it is not going to get easier. Waves of negativity seem to exist all over the globe. And when every little moment is significant, every smile beautiful, and every emotion profound, the battle for the mind will not be over til the day I die. This strange new way which I have found is something from which there is no turning back. The sun is brighter. The clouds darker. The rain wetter. The trees greener. Everything is more brilliant and more horrifying. Dispersing complacency seems to open the senses like never before. Not that I have entirely overcome and found myself in a new state of being. Complacency still claws at me. Habits keep trying to form, bad ones, comfortable, time-wasting habits. But I will succeed. I tell myself that nearly every day, and I can now say it without a hint of doubt. That, in itself, despite recent setbacks - or challenges - is cause for rejoicing. Cause to smile.