Delusions of Grandeur

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Alright guys, a quick warning right up front, this one is a bit spiritual (in case the title didn’t give that away) so those of you who are all “ewwww God” you might want to skip this one.  On the opposite side of the spectrum, those of you who have rather rigid views of religion may also want to avoid this….as many of you are aware my own concept of religion is cobbled together from the pieces of various traditions that resonate with me specifically and not necessarily strictly in line with that dictated by any one particular organized religion or denomination of a religion.  Okay, warning over on to the real stuff.

There’s a Jewish proverb (and I suspect versions of this same thing exist in other traditions, but this is the one I’m familiar with) that states “Ask not for a lighter burden, but for broader shoulders.”  This has always resonated with me as I don’t really picture god as some sort of overworked office manager in the sky dealing with an overloaded inbox (now I’m picturing Jim Carey in Bruce Almighty lol!).  For the most part I don’t think God interferes too much with our day to day existences….the bigger picture, however, that’s God’s domain.  So while I don’t think God is worried about individual stressors and pains in our lives, I do believe that he gives us the tools to deal with them.  Sometimes (in fact quite frequently) I think that those tools are given to us through the very trials and tribulations which we are normally so quick to bemoan.

I’m definitely not perfect and I’ll admit there were definitely times I’ve prayed to get a certain job or to avoid a particular hardship.  In the cases where I’ve asked for something (like a specific job) I’ve frequently not received it….and those few times I did I quite quickly learned that it really wasn’t a good fit for me and I would have been better off pursuing something else.  The lesson I learned from all of this was that I don’t always have the big picture view of my life and destiny that God does and don’t really have very much business meddling in it.  So rather than asking for specifics I’ve learned to ask for two related but still very different things.  When facing a decision I’ve learned to ask for insight and guidance.  I don’t always get it, but a surprising amount of time when I ask I do in fact receive it.

Second, and I think most importantly, rather than asking to be relieved of a certain burden I’ve asked instead that I be allowed to understand at some point in time why it was that I was given the burden to bear.  I’ve been amazingly blessed in that regard.  While I’ve sometimes had to wait years or even decades for the answer, I have in fact discovered many of those answers.  Those that I haven’t yet learned the answer to I’m assuming I’m simply not ready for.

To some this view on life would be extremely simplistic and naive.  Others would say that it abdicates responsibility for my own destiny.  Still others would say that I shouldn’t even be asking for the things I do.  I won’t call them little things because in fact I think a request for understanding of meaning is a HUGE thing and quite a bit to ask of God.  I’m extremely grateful that my request has been granted so frequently.

To those who ask for more trust in a higher power and fewer answers I don’t really have a good response.  I’m simply not built that way and if we presume that we’re all constructed the way we are for a reason, then I think that’s probably answer enough.

To those who think I’m naive and simplistic or not taking enough responsibility for myself….well my viewpoint leaves plenty of room for making your own decisions and mistakes (in fact it virtually demands it).  It’s simply a perspective that allows for the idea that there is greater meaning to our existence than simply plugging through the daily grind. It allows for an understanding that not everything in our lives will go perfectly, that we will have times of struggle and times of failure and it makes each of those things okay….a normal part of our existence as humans.  Most importantly it allows for a perspective of self-compassion.

We each have to find our own answers to the big questions in life,  a defining framework for our existence.  I think that finding something that you can truly believe in and live with, whatever that may be, makes it easier to live consciously; to connect with your own values;  provide a foundation for the major decisions in our lives; and finally impart our “auto-pilot” with functional programming the daily activities that we go through sub-consciously.

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I couldn’t come up with an actual title to this post, so you’re stuck with what’s above.  Sorry.  I wanted to get this down so I would have actually written it instead of just thinking about writing it and instead spending all of my time trying to think of what to call it.  Suggestions are welcome in the comments ;).

So it’s confession time, although not earth-shattering, juicy, entertaining confession time.  I have a serious addiction.  I love to buy books.  I almost never read them though.  My bookshelves are those cube shelves from target that are divided into 11 3/4 inch cubes in various configurations.  I’ve got at least four cubes full of books on writing.  I’ve read maybe ten pages total out of all of them.  I have 8 cubes of Judaica books, I’ve read two cubes worth.  I’ve got five or six cubes of business text books, I’ve flipped through some of them.  I’ve got a cube and a half of Harry Potter….okay, well, I’ve read all of those, all three cubes of parenting books and most of the Dave Barry cube as well, but those are really the exception to the rule.  But anyhow, you get the point.  I am clearly spending a crap ton of money on books that I feel compelled to own but to never actually open after I get out of the bookstore.

Obviously this is not a sustainable habit in our current economic environment (poor) and the likelihood that I will somehow magically develop the time to read any of these books dwindles at an alarming rate on a daily basis.  But habits are hard to break, and I think I read in a book somewhere (I’ve got a couple cubes of self-help type books too, haha) that the easiest way to break a habit is to replace it with a new one.  So now when I get the urge to go browse the shelves of Barnes and Noble (seriously, this stuff is like crack to me, but without the weight loss and SWAT teams) instead I pick a book at random and pretend that I’m buying it all over again.  I read the back, open the cover, browse the chapter titles and look at a few pages here and there and convince myself that I’m really going to use this book so I remove it from the bookshelf and set it next to the computer where I will supposedly faithfully read it every single day until I finish it….or, in reality, leave it in a scary tower that piles up until Elijah pulls it over and then I put them all back in their places to be found again on another day.

Today’s book was “The Lie That Tells a Truth” from one of the writing cubes.  I’ve read the first couple pages and remember why it is that I bought it in the first place.  I highly recommend it based on the first three pages, the chapter titles and of course the front cover, which is how all books should be judged ;).  It is currently at the top of my pile and I am sure that I will faithfully read it every day until I am finished with it and it has transformed my life…or at least until tomorrow.

So there you have it, my attempt to turn an idiotic addiction into a slightly less expensive, but no less idiotic, habit.  After all, I’m not sure that it’s possible to use the habit replacing technique if the two habits are not equally stupid, but I’m not sure because I don’t think I made it through the entire page in the book that talked about it….

Take that not-quite-a-resolution, once a week blogging thing!  Not only did I not manage once a week, I haven’t even managed once a month lately!  Rather than taking personal responsibility I’m going to lay the blame entirely at the feet of Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines.  See, way back at the beginning of February we went on a family vacation on the Allure of the Seas and every last one of us, starting with Elijah, came down with a Norovirus.  I could give you a LOT of information on these types of viruses as I spent extensive time looking them up on the internet, but we’ll leave it at the following: highly contagious, extremely uncomfortable and definitely NOT the way you want to spend your family vacation.  Although, if you’re going to spend four days attached to a toilet, then I strongly recommend it be one that somebody else has to clean up, so in that sense getting sick on the cruise instead of at home was actually somewhat beneficial.  How’s that for finding a silver lining?

So yeah, back to why I haven’t written.  So post-norovirus I was extremely upset with the cruise line due to their lack of medical attention to Elijah, poor high chair cleaning procedures that lead to the virus in the first place and overall abuse and violation of CDC reporting measures.  I was completely unable to write a single solitary post that didn’t devolve into a bitter diatribe and rant against the entire cruise line industry.  Months later and I still get worked up thinking about the entire thing.  So rather than spew that vitriol onto the internet I didn’t write anything at all, or at least I didn’t write anything that I actually chose to post.

There’s something about using the internet to whine, complain and rant that just bothers me and I’ve been trying to avoid doing it, although I am definitely not universally successful.  It doesn’t matter what the forum is: blog, twitter, facebook–I honestly can’t stand it when all you ever see from a person is complaining and arguing.  I’m not sure if it’s coming from a culture where you aren’t supposed to air your dirty laundry in public or if I just don’t like what a downer it is to read, but for whatever reason I’ve developed a pretty firm opinion on it.  That’s not to say that I don’t understand the occasional post where someone is obviously trying to work through things, after all, life is not entirely sunshine and daisies, but for the most part I would rather see the celebrations and triumphs in people’s lives.  Which is why, in order to avoid being too large of a hypocrite, I decided not to post my 2000 word rant about our cruise, leading to extended writers block and a completely inability to let the issue go.  So there you have it, I’m so stubborn that it literally took me two months to overcome the urge to post anything at all on here and STILL I couldn’t do it without at least mentioning the issue.  Hopefully that will suffice and now I’ll be able to move on and post normally and quit dwelling on that nonsense. 🙂

I stumbled on this blog today via a long and convoluted route that I won’t get into right now, but this particular post, which wasn’t the first one I read, is one that I really felt needed to be shared.

#54 – Writing Hacks, Part 1: Starting « Scott Berkun.

It’s amazing to me how many things in our lives get put to the side because we can’t accomplish them perfectly.  I’ve mentioned this before, but since it’s something that I still get hung up on, even knowing that it’s a sticking point for me, I suppose that it won’t hurt to mention it again.  I truly think that if I can convince myself to let go of the need for perfection there would be so many more things that I would try.  If I didn’t have to do everything the RIGHT way, if I could just do them any way at all I can only imagine how many more experiences I would have and how much richer my life would be in general.  For example, I’ve been thinking about taking Salsa lessons for at least the past ten years (living in Miami will do that to you).  I’ve had plenty of opportunities but I haven’t gotten around to it.  Why?  Partly because of time, but mostly it’s because I know that I’m clumsy and uncoordinated and I frankly feel like an idiot on the dance floor unless there are large amounts of alcohol added the equation (at which point in time I STILL feel like an idiot, I just care a little less).

I wonder how many people never accomplish even half the things on their “bucket lists” because they’re afraid that they won’t be able to do them the “right” way, that they won’t be perfect.  Looking back over this blog entry I can see at least a dozen things that are driving me crazy about it and normally I would just scrap the whole entry and not end up posting anything for the day.  But in the spirit of cutting myself some slack and letting go of perfection a bit I’m going to finish this line and hit publish. 🙂

wow…..everybody tells you that time will completely disappear once you  have a child and at some point in time you will look up and realize you have a thirty year old.  Well, I’m not at that point yet, but I am wondering how on earth I ended up with a one year old.  Really, it felt like the first five months took FOREVER and I was ready to chalk all of that “pay attention, time disappears faster than you realize” advice up to nonsense, but then I blinked and it went from five months to a year seemingly overnight (although to be fair, it was one sleepless extremely groggy night!)

Looking back at the last year it seems like I’ve spent an inordinate amount of it worrying.  Worrying over colds and ear infections, when to start switching from breastfeeding to formula, what type of baby food to use, how often he should be eating that food, is he too hot or cold at night, why isn’t he sleeping through the night, is he still breathing when he sleeps for longer than usual, all of that stuff.  But most prevalently I’ve spent my time worrying about milestones.  Elijah has been in physical therapy twice a week since just before he was nine months old because by the time he turned eight  months old he still wasn’t sitting.

Several months of physical therapy later and he’s finally conquered sitting (although he’ll still occasionally flop backwards and slam his head into whatever happens to be behind him…ouch!).  He even finally figured out crawling on his birthday.  Everything I’ve ever read and pretty much every parent I’ve ever talked to warns against getting too caught up in when your child achieves various milestones, but at the same time there’s also that little voice in the background that haunts your nightmares telling you over and over that you’re missing something, that you’re letting something important slide and if you don’t schedule a doctor’s visit RIGHT THIS VERY SECOND then you’ll regret it two years from now.  It really is enough to drive you absolutely insane.  All you can do is hope in the end that you made the right choices.  Of course I can blithely say that, but we all know that I’m going to be like every other mother in history and look back and find six million things I could have done better/differently.

Alright, now that I’ve emptied my mind for the moment, here’s a recommendation for a great website for those of you who like to document your life either through blogging or scrapbooking or even facebook status messages, whatever….take a moment and check out http://www.logyourmemory.com.  The site is all about scrapping every day, real life moments, not just big celebrations.  As a scrap fanatic the idea really appeals to me.  Now if only I could find some time somewhere 🙂

I just discovered that I can import all of my old livejournal posts onto wordpress with the click of a button.  I cannot tell you how ecstatic this makes me as I was morning the loss of all of those ramblings from the days of yore.  Livejournal is the only blog I’ve ever successfully managed to update with any frequency, largely because it was the only one that many of my friends were members of as well.  Before the days of myspace and facebook I loyally plugged away at my livejournal, happily rambling on about anything and everything that crossed my mind.  It was like an email I could send out to all of my friends at once.  No need to be too personal, but a great way to make sure that we all knew what was going on in each other’s lives.  Alas, all of that has been taken over by the miniscule status updates in facebook, but I suppose that’s the nature of progress.  Ever shortening attention spans leads to ever shorter media to communicate with.  Oddly enough I joined twitter this week and somehow the 140 character limit bothers me far less than I thought it would, considering how annoyed I frequently am at the size of facebook status updates.  Maybe it’s the different nature of tweets?  Well, in any event all of those livejournal posts are now part of this blog so history has been preserved and I can now revisit those memories whenever I feel like it. 🙂

So tonight after dinner we were wandering up Miracle Mile when we stopped into the new AT&T store to check on whether Seth’s mom was eligible for an upgrade yet and allowed to get her iPhone.  While there I asked the service rep about the new mini cell towers (http://www.wireless.att.com/learn/why/3gmicrocell/) which you can put in your home to increase reception.  The rep informed me that they are coming to Miami in July so I will FINALLY FINALLY FINALLY be able to make and receive phone calls consistently in my own apartment.  Don’t even get me started on how annoyed I am that I have to purchase ANOTHER piece of equipment in order to do something that should be an automatic part and parcel of my very expensive cell phone contract.

Anyhow, while I was stating my oft stated complaint about the crap cell service on Brickell something new and strange happened.  The service guy actually listened AND offered a solution.  Normally they sort of brush you off and act as if you should just accept these dead zones as a part of life.  Overall my complaints have fallen on deaf ears.  But this time not only did he take down our specific address to alert the system to the dead zone (something which has NEVER happened before), he also told me about a free app that AT&T has for the iPhone called “Mark the Spot” which you can use any and every time your phone drops a call, doesn’t have service, etc.  It looks like now that AT&T no longer has the exclusive contract for the iPhone they are actually going to address the service issues that have plagued the company for the past several years.   And, even if turns out that “marking the spot” does absolutely nothing in terms of resolving issues, it still gives me the satisfaction of feeling like I’ve done something without the need to call customer service and complain bitterly to dead air.


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