Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thanksgiving Revisited

I got reminded of this post from a few years ago. I sure am glad I did. 

I have a love/hate relationship with the Holidays. Outwardly it's mostly hate. I'll complain about not getting to sleep in my own bed, or having to pack the car, or the traffic, or having to suddenly find a restroom for my passenger's various bodily functions. Oh, I'll complain and convince you I'm a curmudgeon. But deep down, I love it, and I know it's the only right thing. It's just part this life, a life that just isn't about us. 

The sacrifice of time and travel are the building blocks of family, friendships and traditions. It always has been, and always will be. And all that effort and inconvenience is a worthwhile investment for the payoff in the end. I still want the smell of dressing and sweet potato casserole to evoke in my children warm happy memories with cousins, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends the way it does in me. I want full bellies and football and turkey comas to be the mark of a life well lived... I want to watch two little girls eat their fill and be reminded how in the God's Kingdom their is no scarcity at the Father's table... These are all the thoughts and feelings I'm flooded with as I65 takes us home and I watch the gold Alabama sun burn through a cool fall afternoon. 

Like my Granddaddy Cleland used to say on days when the whole family was together and all seemed right with the world...  "It's not always going to be like this"... "these ARE the good ole days". It’s been 20 years since we last had him to celebrate with on Thanksgiving day… He was right, life is fleeting, savor every moment. 

So, I hope all of us are nourished by the feeling of having your whole tribe together, feasting, perhaps even in spite of it's many dysfunctions. That's a little taste of heaven for me and I hope and pray it is for you. 

It's been a hard November, a hard year even, the whole world seems angry. I pray you’ll take time to count your blessings, love your family, be kind to your neighbor, and invite them to sit at the table of plenty both today and for eternity. After all, It’s not always going to be like this.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Analog and Acoustic

Lightning fried our TV on Christmas Eve. Which got me to thinking about this blog post I wrote last year but never published and certainly never followed through with. It was a sign (not really). So here it is, hope you enjoy it and it provides a little food for thought. Happy New Year.

One time I was talking to my sister and she was lamenting the many woes of her electronic devices and how, on regular occurance, they wouldn't perform the desired task or operation she had called on them to do. They are fragile things that do less for productivity and more for general frustration than anything I can think of. On hearing her list of complaints I said "That's why I love a barbell, a barbell always works..." She laughed at the truth of that statement, and it really got me thinking about how much I love the primitive amalgamation that is the plate loaded barbell. No charging, no Screens, no instant notifications, just a straight steel rod of knurl and rust and some iron discs.

I've Been thinking a lot about that conversation and it's larger application of living a simple life, especially as one year ends and another begins. I am ever conscious of the man I want to be, and I am pretty sure the last thing I want to be is someone who feels less like a man and more like a consumer of media.

A couple of years back I traded in my dumb phone for a smart one. It has all the bells and whistles, and it can do anything. It takes great pictures and amazing video. It can make you narcissistic enough to feel like the star of your own movie via social media. It can make you angry at complete strangers for disagreeing with your point of view. It helps you discover new insignificant things to get theatrically offended at... It can even distract you to the point where your daughter asks you something 3 times and then gives up and walks away because you won't listen or look away from the screen... And then it can make you hate yourself too. Wow, what a powerful little gadget...

In contrast, every Christmas I usually get a few books for my winter reading. This year was no different. The cold weather generally lends itself to relaxing with a good read, and that's what I've tried to do. (I don't know why schools ever consider a summer reading list a good idea. Summer is for sweating, grass cutting, and sunburns. Don't trap yourself behind a book when it's daylight past 8 o'clock) I've tried the kindle approach, but I hate it. Give me ink on paper and maybe a pen for underlining. There are no pop-ups or advertisements to pull you down a side street of distraction. I love a book... books don't have buttons or batteries...

Christmas time and New Year's is almost universally a time of reflection as one year comes to a close and new one begins. I'm generally not one for serious resolutions, but this year I think my own glaring shortcomings merit a hard look at the things I can do better, for the sake of those I've been entrusted to care for, and for the sake of the man I want to be. I'm planning to trim back, leave the phone out of arms reach, and get lost every now and then. I think it's time to unplug a little, and listen to the acoustic and undigitized voices of my own family. I want to embrace the infinite and unlimited potential of pen and paper in all of it's analog glory and limit the screen time of the electronic world to a fraction of what I pay it now. I want life to imitate a barbell; simple, strong, effective, durable. My 2016 resolution can be summed up in two words Analog and Acoustic. 

(Also check out my buddy Nathan's blog post about getting rid of his iPhone)