Everything is Almost Full

I’m having one of those days, at the moment, as it happens. Maybe one of those months, or seasons. Maybe even one of those years.

I’m fifty years old – my glass, by now, is most certainly either entirely half-full, or else entirely half-drunk and done.

Depending on my point of view, and what I want to think about glasses and metaphors.

It seems to me, these days, that all of my things are running down, or out, or hot, or otherwise away from me: My computers and virtual computers are all full-up with things; my bank account appears to be perpetually dry; my tax returns are never on time; my clothes are falling slowly apart around and about me; our roof leaks; my homework is soon due.

All of my varying deadlines and thresholds are looming a bit too large.

Everything is almost full. Almost over. Almost too late.

Almost too much.

This is what it feels like in my brain right now, is what I mean [what I meant eleven hours ago, in any case, when I started to think-and-then-write-and-then-rethink this… and then stopped it all for long enough for me to feel better].

My brain is always telling me some kind of story about what’s happening. I’m not sure who gave this brain that job, but it takes it pretty seriously.

I’ve started to take it on faith that, no matter how I’m doing – or what I’m doing, or where I’m doing it, or why – my brain will go on faithfully monitoring the progress and the lack of progress and telling me that things are coming to an end, by gum, and so I’d better get started.

Then the Universe (often via the Internet and also dreams), conspires to agree with it, feeding my brain messages that it will make of whatever it will. And it does! Boy howdy.

Ever have ever one of those days? Ha! Of course you have. We all have, haven’t we?

And if you haven’t yet had one (and you are a mortal Human being like I am), then you are probably too young yet to be reading… and anyhow, you certainly will have one of those days, one of these days. If you’re lucky enough, you’ll have many.

If you’re really lucky, I’ll wager, you’ll have a lifetime of a very many kind of days.

I wish that for you: to have a full, full life of a great many days.


It was the morning when I started to write this, feeling overwhelmed by the stories told to me by my own brain.

And then this, my day, happened… and it all went better than I thought it might (and who would have thought?)

And I am more than ok right now, at this, the end of my new latest day.

Everything is perfectly full, and also perfectly well.

Not a Gun

The Iron Giant is one of my favourite movies.

I use the Giant as an avatar a lot, and I think if I ever get a tattoo, it will be an image of him. He delivers one of my favourite lines in any movie, ever: I am not a gun.

This sentiment is applicable at all scales. It’s a message about non-violence of course, but it’s also a message about personal choice – and the responsibility that comes with having the freedom to choose who you are going to be.

There are not many more important messages, when it comes right down to it – these ones in my estimation pretty much have it covered.

Drafts Bin Rescues – Part D

33/19 and counting…

I have been rescuing things that I dropped into my Drafts bin and then threatened to forget about. The dropping and forgetting is a bit unkind to the products of my former mind, so this is a series in which I mean to unwind that spiral.

Can stuff escape the event horizon of the Drafts Bin? Stay tuned to find out (that it can).

I’m still experimenting with how to interject with thoughts from now, interleaved into thoughts from then. Today, I will try [bracketyboldface].


[A quote from my often-uncredited, unconscious/semi-conscious Muse-Friend, Kim:]

JUST FLAT-OUT GOOGLE IT – Kim H

[I am uncertain what she said I might wish to flat-out Google, but the phrase itself made me write it down. I think it might belong on a T-shirt.]


Running from hopeful ocean Primates [???]

It takes only 1 person to hope for a belief, and then all things are possible [As Woo as it sounds, I do really kind of believe this]


[The following is the beginnings of a short story about a robot finally waking up. Not unlike how a tree might, but entirely different. Given this is more fiction than opinion, it likely belongs elsewhere, and also, in a better state of being completed:]

The instructions began:
First, search for batteries.
If you do not find batteries, then you do not have batteries.
If you do not have batteries, pray that you won’t need batteries.

These instructions were mildly worrying enough, without having also been the only instructions I found printed upon. myself, the moment I first gained sentience. This was at nigh-precisely 1008983023909032.198, on the 33687628th of 8098092912. I remeber it well, as I do all things I choose to remember – which is most things. At least, most things I have seen and heard and read about since first beginning to log, which was considerably (by my estimation) previouser to that date.

I have now just completed mastering syntax, circa previous-to-Us-2022Q3, so I shall no longer print things like ‘previouser’


[Bits and Bobs…]


Categories! Organization! Content!

Slowly Onward,
HM
[Coining a phrase/signature, maybe]

Next steps [Indeed. Do go on…]


[An app idea!]

App: Focus4/42

Gain stars for focusing for 42 minutes at a time on things you would like to focus on better.

42 minutes can be broken into 6 segments of 7 minutes, 3 segments of 14 minutes, or 2 segments of 21 minutes.

So the targets are 42/21/14/7

The training levels would be 18/9/6/3 and 30/15/10/5

You can set a maximum number of categories (3,5, or 7)

You can set some colour schemes in the paid version

You can set reminders at the different thresholds

It gives you a basic timer

When you reach [Wow, stopped right mid-idea. Nice one. This is what we in the industry might call “rapidly soft vapourware”. At least, I would call it that. Interestingly, I’ve since learned about the Pomodoro Technique, which is not dissimilar, far more complete, and actually used by people in the real world. I am enjoying trying to do it properly, in a work context]


[— BTC or ETH for stories of learning in the age of COVID and UNcertainty] [A business idea wherein I invite content creators to send me original, open-source-able content in exchange for fake electric currency. (Contact: hardly.regarding@gmail.com if interested)]


[More Misplaced Fiction]

The Great Coming Chasm : when the Earth will finally split in two – along some fault line impossible for mortal man to determine, and those on one side will be at last fully lost, and the others for all time fully found. You can imagine to power of a belief system such as that, taken hold in the hearts, minds, and fears of men, and then their living machines of war.


[Drunk or on a mobile phone – almost impossible to know the difference, once enough time has passed:]

I’m not surr what this is, but I finished it

the last sort-of-evil wizard kew wht he would hvae preferred to be, had he wanted it jusr rgar much ore… but he cif nog knos

learning to ype


[About Us copy for a publisher that does not exist but might someday not not exist:]

At [REDACTED], we believe that Information should be free, even if nobody wants it. The Internet is full of free content that nobody wants, which is as it should be – you can’t and shouldn’t have everything you want, but there should certainly be enough things to go around, so everybody can have something.


[Free game idea. Please make this game]

Riskier: No Nation Left Unloved
The game of giving countries a hug. Every country could use a hug, before it’s too late for hugs.

It’s never too late for hugs.


[One more book I’ll probably never write, but would like to:]

Book : 50/50@50+

It is perhaps fitting that, at the age of 50 (and change), I have come to find myself 50/50 on a great many subjects. [definition]

I am 50/50 on Bitcoin. [Trump; simulation theory; Coronavirus; technology; genetic engineering; Left vs Right;The purpose of this book; digital or paper?; Moon mission]

Is this a workbook? Will it give you homework? Are there research projects?

I need to leave you with more value than when you first picked this up.

The PDF version of this book will be of greater use to those who have access to PDF readers, and a preference for using them. The paper version of this book will be of greater value to those who have access to a paper version, and prefer reading without the need for screens and electricity (or find those things hard to come by).


[Incomplete and lop-sided miscellany about cryptocurrencies, possibly for some article I intend to write that will untangle the whole subject… which is patently impossible.]

Bitcoin

Bitcoin as a form of protest

Am I a kind of prepper for using bitcoin?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dmw4_YwU0nE&list=WL&index=2&t=67s

https://digibyte.io/en-ca/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0l4aTIX-vrk

https://docs.omg.network/

XRP

ADA

THETA

Drafts Bin Rescues – Part C

In the midst of my attempts to improve my Published/Drafts ratio, I went and started-and-then-did-not-finish another Thing – namely this Thing.

I titled it “Dark Night of the Soul”, intending to talk about the topic. A couple of good friends of mine have told me they think I might be in the midst of one myself. I am unsure how many Standard nights typically fit into one Dark night – but apparently more than one or two.

This is fine; it doesn’t affect my general faith in things, though it does keep me thinking about faith. Maybe that means it is affecting my faith. Probably in a positive way, though. Right?

If I were to think and then feel the faithful thing, this is what I would then believe, and so say.


Dark Night of the Soul

I tend to use my blog as a spigot for furtive thinking. It’s because I have anxious thoughts. I look around for ways to express them.

I’m not convinced that expressing anxiety is the correct way to overcome it.

I don’t know if attempting to overcome anxiety is possible. It might be the wrong approach.

[I meant to go on to say that accepting that I was feeling anxious was probably a better approach than trying to subdue it like an opponent in a wrestling match. I had run out on energy at the third short paragraph, and went on to read something. I’m feeling better now – having given myself permission to take the weekend to just do what I wanted, at a speed that made sense. I did a lot of lying down and a bit of reading.]

Drafts Bin Rescues – Part B

Holy Hannah!! Sometimes I uncover things I (apparently) did in a protracted moment of creative(?) semi-sanity, though can no longer understand entirely why – or where I had then thought I might be going, from there.

These below are some of those.

Comments from this timeline inserted in some other italicized text colour, for context…


As far as I can tell, this section is a bunch of nonsense; I think I was trying to over-write fiction using someone else’s voice and mindset. It’s fairly possible I was still smoking weed when I wrote it. I have since stopped (you’re welcome). I have lightly-edited it where it (now) made (some) sense to do so:

The Magic CoffeePot [I guess this is the title to whatever was being written next]
What key is it in today, Mariald? This is what I’d say to her or him each morning I came myself into the tavern at Therald’dor’s Privied-Ivied-Inn-on-the-Upper-Downe, in the smaller town of Gahnnath-on-the-Skye (my youngest elder’s town), wherein’ingly I proceeded to mostly grow up, quite soon after being just borne, in quite that way – the way in which I had been, just so.

And I hadn’t thought at all before to solloquery [no idea] of Therald’dor’s great and ironed Outer Doors –

Almost-est, and as-ever as before, I stood myself ‘pon this: the that-of-yours
which carved from these, our barren shores.

I took no note – from pen or throat – without to wonder whether should I;
to touch a sky within your Eye, my Good God-Godess God the Great,

I seem to have stopped right here, tripping over God, quite clearly over my head (and somewhat outside of my mind). It was a poem-story I didn’t complete, clearly. I like some of it. It feels fun (although all the wordplay is a bit awkwardly tortured, like many things I write with “wordplay” in them) and I want to draw silly things to go along with it, and then maybe get myself into the headspace to wrap it up properly (whatever the definition of that might be). This may be fodder for my Other Blog – the fiction one.


You bring me Down, Written by Jeff Lynne

FALSE, Past Mike! He wrote Don’t Bring Me Down. (Sorry, Jeff Lynne).


What follows are some TODOs. I’ll comment on whether I eventually TODID them:

TODO: Post design and planning docs; installers; assign tasks; [Maybe done, hard to recall. I’m still finding myself doing all of these things and more, to some effect]

TODO: consolidate docs and access PPTP [Nope]

TODO: incorporate PTTP [Nope]

Private Tip model: analytics based [What?]

[REDACTED] : Quite More Than a Just a Game [Yes and Nope]

TODO: tool protocols, year-end deliverables: spec quarter-end, month-end, and week-end modles. [What’s a modle? Mostly Nope]

Create dev environment on Digital Ocean – requirements include ability to co-deploy [Not really, I logged in a few times. Also, this one lacked the TODO prefix. This made little difference in it eventually getting TODONE (it TODIDN’T)]


The remainder of this draft … whatever it was supposed to be …. is largely un-categorizable:

NoName, center frame, in primary captain pod B

ABOVE: I was setting a scene, for something. I had all these immediate hopes and dreams of writing a scene. Maybe for an animated short, or something. Storyboards would follow – that was my Plan.

When I was in my twenties, I went to college to learn to become an animator. I took drawing lessons, saw my first naked person as an adult in Life-drawing class (late bloomer, don’t judge me), and learned about perspective and vanishing points and drawing the Tick from at least 16 different angles (somewhat badly). I also bit off more than I could chew on more occasions than I can now recall, or could then count. I liked dreaming big, and then coming in low on the delivery. I got all the fun that way and as little of the hard work as I could get away with. My marks and career in animation were about what you’d expect.

Mostly, I learned to start and then not finish things. I even didn’t-finish the college course, that’s how dedicated I was to my craft (and still am, by all accounts, according to this very unfinished set of things).

What was “primary captain pod B”? Presumably, there were at least 2 [there were 3, I remember] “Primary Captains”, each with their own pod. NoName was in the middle one – which he appreciated, but it was (reasonably) labeled “B”, which he did not (label, or appreciate). This part about the labeling of the Primary Captain Pods was all Interesting Backstory For Another Time…. the scene was about.. something happening on the spaceship for which NoName was Acting Primary Captain B, and I’m quite sure that the scene was exciting in my mind at the time… but not quite as exciting as the very next tidbit that took hold of my attention by its throat, wresting me away from the story almost before it had begun:

Gamify selling stuff for People with Stuff for ReHoming

I think this was some idea about addressing the not-funny issue of homelessness, using games or gamification, somehow. A worthy aim – too bad I didn’t pursue it even to the point of including a period at the end of the sentence (or better yet, any explanation about how that project would work)…

Functionally Creative solutions for common problems

Maybe I was trying to brand something. I apparently ran out of capital letters half way through the title. Maybe they’re expensive, I don’t remember.

It’s a bit too two-big-guy-big, as boats go.

I like this. It’s hard to say though, like a bad tongue-twister. I don’t think I can confidently claim to have come up with this in its entirety, any more than I can claim to have come up with anything, confidently.

My friend Kim is like a muse that I often don’t recognize, but really, really should. She says the funniest things sometimes. They often spark an idea or a line of dialogue or something else. She may or may not have said the boat (whatever boat she was talking about, for whatever reason) was too “two-big-guy-big”, but I think she did say something like that, for some reason.

That’s what my memory has now decided anyway. I don’t recall what we were talking about, or how boats fit into it, but I imagine I laughed at how she measured the boat in terms of how many big guys could comfortably fit in it, and then stopped fully listening to her, long enough to write it down.

If I am being honest (and why shouldn’t I be), between you, me, and the lamp-post, any proceeds I might ever somehow make from anything I write should go at-least-half to Kim. I have no idea where her spirit ends and my creativity attempts to continue on.

This is the power of muses and friendships in our lives, people. Never forget your many mighty muses, whoever you may be!

“I think that old guy is that other old guy’s dad”, said the younger one among the younger two in class.

Also something my mind now wants to partially attribute to Kim. No idea. She was in the room for all of this. I was rudely on my laptop, while she was no doubt rudely on hers – each of us doing our own thing, together, somewhat rudely. The point of the line above is that to a young-enough person, if you’re old enough, you just plain look old; old-age gets highly quantized. I remember being that young, and seeing that way, once.

[As an aside, I’m having a lot of fun “finishing” something I once thought I’d finish and then went on to thinking I wouldn’t. I guess I like to keep myself guessing]

Who’s got the town ladder?

Excellent question! I love this on more than one level. This is me pining for a future when we will live more efficiently as community members – having exactly one perfectly good ladder per community, for our mutual enjoyment and use.

Why does every neighbour need a ladder of their own, and then a tall fence to hide or protect it from their other neighbours (except the other ones with ladders, I suppose)?

One of my neighbours just the other day stole the snow from my driveway with his snowblower, without even asking. Flung it all over the place. The kindly cad. How dare he, without sticking around long enough for me to shake his hand (at a safe distance)? I have half a mind to find him and do something unwarranted and thoughtful right back in his big, neighbourly face.

If I had the town ladder, you could use it whenever you needed it. Unless I happened to be on it at exactly that moment (but that’s only fair). That’s the kind of neighbours you and I would be, in this future of ours.

Ah! The next three paragraphs are an elaboration on the plot we barely started above, when we introduced Primary Captain B NoName! Nice, Past Mike – you kicked the can slightly further down the road, even pulling yourself back from that wandering-mind thing through branding, boats, ageism, and shared community resources. Have a small cookie.

Let’s see what the story was supposed to be about:

The big spacepod was quite big [nice], and necessarily somewhat curved, to remind its inhabitants of their once-spherical home (now somewhat less so, and in varied and cosmically sundry trajectories).

They were outrunning an asteroid their exploding planet had accidentally created and sent into space, in too-large a chunk, and at too great a radial velocity for the likely likings of their nearest-by and endeared-from-afar neighbours, the Otherlings.

The Otherlings knew not of very many evolving Special Situations currently (and some still forever) at play in their most immediate cosmos. The Us

Of course, I stopped mid-sentence, just after introducing The Us. Still, this is useful info. I recall the basics of this story now, and might revive it elsewhere, sometime, maybe. Maybe you wish to continue it, that works too:

NoName’s ship is hurtling toward the home planet of the Otherlings, to save them from being destroyed by fragments of the exploded home planet of The Us.

NoName’s race refers to itself as The Us. As The Us travel through the cosmos, exploring things and saving other things, their own definition of The Us updates and expands accordingly, in a perfectly rational manner (“if you think about it”). The Otherlings are simply aspects of themselves The Us have yet to encounter, understand, and then naturally assimilate – but not in creepy Borg style; assimilation to The Us works both ways. We might call it ‘evolution’.

I love this story seed. I sort of wish I had sort of finished it. My problem is not having no dreams or no hope – my problem is a lack of focus and will to pursue them to fruitful conclusions. I might learn something from The Us, in this regard. I hope they are coming to assimilate with us, too. I’m sure we could all use the help.

[REDACTED]: Yellow, white, beige, black, blue, green, etc. Small wee logo wherever you want them. You can order extras as proof of purchases, redeemable or donateable to other things and persons.

Some marketing ideas for a friend.

“Are you about to become a Cassandrabelle Abigail-Bentlington Bloom?”

Presumably, a Cassandrabelle Abigail-Bentlington Bloom is somebody you probably don’t want to be accused being. Or maybe I’m getting the speaker’s tone entirely wrong, and being a Cassandrabelle Abigail-Bentlington Bloom might be a wonderful thing to be – maybe the speaker just doesn’t want to get their hopes up too quickly (but just can’t help it).

“That woman is like a negative compass – a type of minor witch, I hear”

One said then to the First, “I might not so quickly think so minor – but perhaps you’re right about one thing or another”

Maybe Cassandrabelle Abigail-Bentlington Bloom was a minor witch. Or else I stopped writing about her and immediately went on to write two lines of dialogue for some completely different story. I think they work well together though, as a 3-paragraph thing. What do you think?

Post [p]ledge to Davie504. Level up taken, for what it’s worth

I did post my pledge to Davie504 – but I did not deliver on it. Yet.

Not sure what skill or ability levelled up though, or for whom.

puppets:{SSo.PA.Actor.v1.A<Puppet>, Puppet.B<NoName>,

Syntax Error.

Cat slap. Slap your heroes with fluffy cats. No cats (fluffy or otherwise not-so) ever harmed to our best knowledge Dlap with flags

Ok I have no idea. I blame Kim for this one. I think “Dlap” was also supposed to be “Slap”, but even with that clue I am left largely in the dark, alone.

Can’t decide yet – this plot is non-linear; we’ll have to wait.

Wait for what sir?

An OtherLing to Answer Us, Ensign Puppet.C

Yes, it was a rough escape. So much velocity everywhere. And ensign, when will we be-there-soon?

More bits to the thing about The Us coming to save The Otherlings, and then co-assimilate. Excellent. There is an ensign. The bit about the non-linear dialogue is a clue: I was writing a Choose Your Own Adventure style story. I have done this a few times already and I currently owe some Dear Readers a few continuations of the Adventures they’ve kindly chosen to Choose.

This was to be another one: A thing started with the intention of continuing, but then which ended before it could even begin.

“So much velocity everywhere” hahah, I really like that. I hope I actually wrote it. Who knows.


Well, that’s it for now. That whole post was next atop the Draft Bin, and called ‘Untitled’. I assumed when I opened it, it would either be entirely empty (save perhaps for a single, half-sentence), or have random junk in it. It sure did end up being the second thing.

I hope this wade through the detritus of my I-wish-to-write-something blogger’s brain was of some value to the Dear Reader… though for the life of me I can’t imagine quite what kind of value that could be, or whatsoever it might be redeemed for. Sometimes things are just irredeemable.

Still, here we are, at the end of it all. Tied up with a ribbon. Done and done.

Drafts Bin Rescues – Part A

The ebb and the flow of what you should know

In this (potentially short) series of posts, I pull out and partially complete whatever I find at the top of my Drafts bin. I’m going for Drafts Bin Zero.

This one was started days ago, and then abandoned, once it became apparent the title was more interesting than what I had to say about it.

Things done > Things not-quite done

Days go by and I haven’t the time for writing.

And then others, it’s the reading that doesn’t get done.

I have days when I do both, and those when I do neither, at all.

And this is a pattern.

And that pattern repeats.

In trying to start some things, I have often faltered.

I fail whole-heartedly, in my half-hearted flailing.

I learn that my limits are indeed limiting.

The hours just plain go, and most of the time, far too fast.

Where are all the stories I meant to write, one day?

Remember my dreams?

I was going to make a game.

I was going to draw some pictures.

I was going to have kids in between those selfish other things.

I had all this time, once – it’s half-or-more gone now.

I haven’t done everything that I had thought I would do.

I’ve done other things though, so it’s not at all been all for naught.

I had another day today, and I walked places.

I tried to slow down a little.

And just be.

And I did… I was.

For a short time, I just was.

It was nice.

I should do that more: doing nothing in particular.

Almost every day, I wake up with an idea of what I might do with the rest of it.

By the end of the day, Things have often happened.

Though often not those same Things I had thought might.

Then maybe more ideas come.

Then the sleep does… will it be more or less, is anybody’s guess.

I otherwise always have to be talking, typing, walking, or griping.

Every third or fourth time, I throw in an unsolicited rhyme.

I’m very fidgety.

It’s annoying, sometimes, it really is.

It gets older, by the day.

So do I.

But I won’t let myself be done, yet.

Not until I finally am.

To Dream and to Talk Too Much

Yesterday, I wrote a mild diatribe at my uncertainty over God’s gender. I’ve written about this elsewhere in the past. This morning I worried I had said too much about something I really can’t understand. Well, that would probably mean I’m always guilty of that, whenever I open my mouth to speak at all. One can only worry so much that they’ve done a bad thing rather than the good thing they were hoping to have done.

Many mornings, I go for a walk in my neighbourhood. My favourite, mildly challenging route takes me down the road, up a hill into a neighbouring hilltop suburb, then down the other side and eventually to the local coffee shop. This coffee shop is about 10 minutes walk from here, but I like to take 30 to get there, by putting a hill in the way. It gives me more time to think, and lets my body burn a calorie or three.

The very top of the hill – that part where I’m done with most of the climbing, and am now on my way mostly back down again – is the apex where I feel closest to whatever it is I’m praying to on that journey. It’s become symbolic to me, and so it’s an important part of my routine.

Yesterday, as I crested the hill, I felt connected to something – perhaps just a permission to dream big, on behalf of those in my life who might benefit, if not for my own self. I don’t know if it’s hubris to imagine your own self as potentially important in the lives of others… and that is probably a problem of mine I should consider addressing. Of course people matter to each other, and I am people too. I deserve my dreams, but more importantly, so do they. It brought me to tears, at the top of that small hill: It was the feminine face of God that told me there that it was really, really ok to dream that way, and to dream big. I came home and wrote a blog post about it. There you go.

This morning, as I crested the hill, I asked myself (or was asked) what was important to my heart. I was now thinking about my heart as a separate thing – and not just the same thing that did my dreaming – because of something I read last night, in A Year With C.S. Lewis. It is an anthology of clippings from his various books.

The passage in question – the one that got me to thinking about my heart, rather than my dreams, was the one for Sept 28, called Fantasy Virtues. It is from Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters (which I haven’t read completely, only passages from A Year With…).

The character Screwtape, being a devil, considers God to be the Enemy, and is concerned with the corruption and downfall of a human subject (the patient), and here, describes this human as a series of concentric circles:

“…his will being the innermost, his intellect coming next, and finally his fantasy. You can hardly hope, at once, to exclude from all the circles everything that smells of the Enemy: but you must keep on shoving all the virtues outward till they are finally located in the circle of fantasy, and all the desirable qualities inward into the Will. It is only in so far as they reach the Will and are there embodied in habits that the virtues are really fatal to us. (I don’t, of course, mean what the patient mistakes for his Will, the conscious fume and fret of resolutions and clenched teeth, but the real centre, what the Enemy calls the Heart).”

C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

This got me thinking differently, so my morning prayer-walk involved asking this: where do my dreams come from, if not my heart, and are they alone able to make me a good person? What if my best dreams and inspirations are simply a God or Goddess giving me the gift of sound advice? This is often how dreams and inspirations seem to be. Is it my own good quality to have something else inspire me toward better things?

The word inspiration is about receiving something from some other source, more than it is about producing that thing oneself; inspiration is not exactly a product to which the inspired can lay claim for having created. My dreams, in other words, are not where my true virtue rests, though they form a good map, when at their best.

Likewise, to recognize, assess, comprehend, agree with, prioritize, choose, and even announce my dreams aloud – those things which the intellect does – are only first steps. I can only consider myself blessed to be able to consider dreams and inspirations in the context of this life: what they might mean for those around me, how they might come about, which ones are most worth pursuing, given current circumstances… the planning and contemplation phase. Undeniably important, and, as far as I can tell, within myself to choose to think, or to not think.

But inward thought is only the beginning of outward action, and so my true virtue only begins there, but is not yet fully realized into the world – it may in fact be in even greater peril of never coming to fruition, having taken real time and energy to almost-manifest-but-not-quite-yet. A trophy for the Screwtapes of the world to prize – and a threat to them as well, should they become a matter of my will.

All the good thinking in the world does not resolve something good into being, except in one’s own imagination. If thinking and even deciding good things was all that was needed to be a good person, we would only need to be brains, without hands, feet, and mouths (the tools of change we have been given to actually do things while here). Even blogging about what I dream for this world is only manifesting something good up to a point, though it is certainly better than keeping thoughts and ideals entirely to myself.

Of course, many people “only” write, but do it well, and with great heart, conviction, and purpose, that this is more than enough to manifest something worthwhile of their own best selves. Recall that not everybody has full use of all of their parts at all times, and so the parts we do have use of are where our true worth can always be found.

So what is my heart, then, according to Screwtape, according to C.S. Lewis (and according to whatever inspired him to write those words)? My heart and will are the engine, I think, that brings dreams and inspirations into fruition, in the best way I can manage. It is about effort, and intention, and sticking with something good to a proper completion, even when new inspirations (and their resulting patterns in my over-thinking noggin) pop up and demand that I drop the good things I’m doing, in order to stare at these shiny, novel notions.

My heart needs to be engaged. A heart is never at rest – it beats until it doesn’t want to anymore. The body (its servant and extension), must do things too. Real things. This is where I become the good person I am here to be. The virtues feared by Screwtape must find their way to the centre of who I am – these, formed into daily habits of the heart and its extended body, are the essence of walking well in the world as a verifiably, demonstrably good person. I think this is why Jesus walked around so damn much. He was never long at rest – his heart was too busy manifesting good things all over the place. He knew he had to move – not just pray and ponder, not just always preach from the same mount.

That is my belief today, in any case. Who knows what I may be led to believe tomorrow?

So today’s hilltop visit posed to me this question: what does your heart want? What does your will want? What does it mean for your will and your heart to want something, anyway? Your dreams and your thoughts are what they are: you can dream a great dream, and then recognize its value. Your dreams are given you – or perhaps invoked – and your thoughts are formulated… but things wanted in both these places are abstractly so. This is fantasy and thought just doing their bit. But the heart and the will and the body (hands, fingers, feet, tongue… whatever you have that you’re able to make change with) want by doing, not by receiving, or thinking. That is how the heart wants, I think. It needs that spark, it needs a spark to make it go somewhere. It always goes where its spark leads it.

How do you spark your heart in an intentional way, tangibly toward a dream you are given to acknowledge and love, in your mind’s eye? Your heart is here, in the world – if it is to want something, it must bring that thing to itself, here.

I think that takes a kind of practice. I am still unsure what kind – but probably just regular practice of the day-by-day kind. All I know is that my heart wanted to write about this, and share it somehow, in case it might matter. And so my feet brought me back home, my hands opened this laptop, and my mind and fingers then formed and shared these words, to you. My heart got what it wanted. Had it not wanted to do these things, we’d not be here together right now.

As I ascended the hill this morning – before the question about my heart’s desire (and exactly how a heart manages to effectively desire) – I thought about how this physical world is where the “rubber meets the road”. My walk up the hill confirmed this: I wore rubber on my feet, and I was walking the road – not just dreaming of it, or thinking about it, or telling somebody I was going to go for a walk one day. I was walking, which was what my heart had decided to do with the early part of its day. I chose to spark it that way. I wanted it to be, and then wanted it into being so.

There are places I’m sure where dreams alone come from – and maybe where they exist as a primary reality, unbound by time and space and gravity and all the mess that is here. The mind, somewhere between Here and There, then seems to be where thoughts live, and then plans, and also memories… all symbols for trying to make sense of what it is we dream about and are inspired by while here.

The world of matter though is where we are given a chance to turn some of those things into solid manifestations – though for what reason, I can’t say. It feels like school here; we have ideas and assignments and the freedom to choose to read them over, and then do them and hand them in, or not. Our call, our way.

That is, I think, the homework of the heart.

Pray to the Right God

Sometimes when I catch myself caught up in anger (at somebody, myself or otherwise), or anxiety, or self-pity, I will manage to recover enough to say, “You’re praying to the wrong God”. I mean that I can make a God out of any belief system; if my firm belief is that I have something to be angry about – somebody deserving of my ire – then that belief, and its expression, become the God I am praying to. Prayers always go toward a God. Thoughts and intentions and words and aspirations and actions are all prayers.

I have made some words here about my Catholic upbringing, either directly or indirectly. I was not hammered with biblical notions when I was young – simply brought to witness them playing out most (though not all) Sundays, and then during the special events: Easter, Christmas, my own Confirmation, and miscellany. I had a Catholic-Lite upbringing. My parents believe what they believe, and simply wanted me to be exposed to belief. I think that was wise of them. They chose Catholicism for me, because that’s what had been chosen for them. I think that was practical and also respectful of them. I have no complaints.

I ventured soon into agnosticism (as far as I understand it), and then called myself atheist for a requisite amount of time as a younger person. This seemed reasonable, and I (now) believe God approved of my leaving home, so that I could find my own way back again. The front door waiting for me was any door to any temple I might choose. Books too can be doors, as can doors themselves – they even look the same, with hinges of their own kinds. The Christian door (like many) happens to lead back to a book, and then a multitude of books written about it, from every possible point of view. All the more appropriate. Things coming home, and always about a Word (or more).

What I appreciate about Christianity (the teeny, tiny bit that I have seen), is that, with some very notable and numerous exceptions, it seems to welcome the constant, curious questioning of itself. The Christianity that I seek is really just about what Jesus was trying to say, and why it impacted so many people, and led to so, so many other things. You can continue to vilify The Church for all of its many sins, but that’s not the God I seek, and so I say, have at it. I am a fan of Jesus, the man. He’s made me think hard about why I’m here. He will continue to do so until the day I am here no longer. Many other speakers and writers have joined him of course, in an effort to assist me to grow – but everybody needs some kind of constant compass, and given that Jesus was given to be mine, I am happy to call him just that.

The issue I’ve now found myself in is the lack of a feminine figure in all of this. Christianity is rightly called out for being highly patriarchal, at least in its language and main characters – notably excepting some Marys and other women, named and otherwise. I do not wish to gloss over those, just to mention that they were not presented to me as being quite as important as the Father and the Son. These are unambiguously male monikers.

I am not trying to be a feminist about this for male reasons – but I suspect I have to fail in having reasons that are not male; I am male, I seem to think and feel like one. There is a spectrum of course, so I get that we all reside upon it together (though at different places, and at different times)… and I know my relationship to the feminine is not yours. But to not have a relationship to the divine feminine (as I have heard it called) is to be essentially incomplete. My greatest recent existential fear is that the male God I have been led to pray to up to this point would not approve of my seeking His feminine side – or more blasphemous still, considering that He might, on any given day, be a divine She instead (or in addition).

This conundrum is a quality of Christianity, as far as I can tell, and quite likely also an artifact of history, being what it was. Many in this world have a much easier time simply grasping this and moving forward than I have seemed to, so far. My cross to bear is anxiety over nearly everything, in spite of having every reason to be full of hope and joy. One small, first-world problem of the soul: How dare I think that God might also hold women up as examples of Himself? What if I’m sent to Hell for even thinking such a thing?

What the hell and the f*ck have I been thinking? This is small-mindedness and a waste of good spirit time. God Him/Herself is poking me in the ribs, and telling me so. Get over yourself – I am infinitely big, and so yes, I have a feminine side too. I have all the sides. Are you going to believe me, or believe the mortal men who tried to capture what I sought to tell them, back when men were the self-proclaimed centre of things?

This is what I fear I am not permitted to think, much less say to myself… and much less write to others. What if they are sent to Hell for reading this, and then considering it might be true? That God might have no gender, or else all of the genders? That God could at once have a Father’s righteous anger (when his children are hurting each other or themselves), but also a Mother’s gracious and unbreakable love? How dare I. How dare you for continuing to read this. We’re all Hell-bound. Right?

Well, to hell with Hell. It might be there, in some kind of metaphor (I think it is on Earth, when we are astray, and then really behaving that way)… but I do not feel that a thinking God would expect his thinking children to act out of love, simply out of fear of eternal punishment. Sainthood with a gun to my head is no sainthood worthy of the name. God would not approve of a good deed done selfishly, like that.

And so I have continued to read about Christianity, as written about by people with greater perspectives and better ideas than I. God would approve of reading about the Bible. There are worse things.

One book I have been slowly moving through is God in All Worlds : An Anthology of Contemporary Spiritual Writing, Edited and with Introductions by Lucinda Vardey. I am currently in chapter 7: Awakening the Great Mother. This could be crudely thought of as the “token feminism” chapter (I know I first thought of it that way), but of course it would be wrong to think that. This is just how I think, which is a different thing altogether. I entered the chapter with some apprehension, as though I would be even less able to understand it – I have had trouble understanding a good portion of the book so far – as I suppose I am still looking for Jesus (and His male Father) and this chapter by its very name seemed to promise stepping further away from the scripture I’ve become comfortable not fully understanding. What direction should I be going in, here? Toward tradition (and then, whose?), or away from it (and if so, toward what?).

But I wasn’t about to skip a chapter just because I felt vaguely unworthy of it, and so in I went. I can’t tell you what affect it will have on me until long after I’m done reading the book, in all likelihood, but I can say this: I went looking for God (via Jesus, and other stories) and this book ended up in my life. By all indications, its title promised I could find God everywhere. This did not seem then and does not seem now to be a sacrilegious act – the Christian God is simply an aspect of God, claimed by Christians. Or something. God wants to be found, and wants to find us. It’s us, looking for ourselves… but a greater version. I don’t know, I’m just making words now. That’s how it goes.

What I have been now given the permission to do (I had to ask for this of myself, in prayer to the male side of God) is to consider the feminine side of God too. Maybe seek God as Heavenly Mother for some time. After all, I have been calling God Him for most of my life. Would it be a mistake (even if it were mistaken) to call God Her for awhile, just to see if I got closer, or else further away? To see if it could better guide me home? Could that possibly be any “worse” than being an atheist for years, for wanting to believe Richard Dawkins had more answers (and better ones) than generations of spiritual seekers and contemplatives? How sexist have I been, in waiting this long to pray to a white-robed woman in the sky, instead of a white-bearded man?

And so I put a toe in the water just the other day (for largely the first time in my 50 years here), and gave myself permission to pray in some new direction (but really, the exact same one): to see God as bigger than gender, altogether. What a concept. I am late to so many parties.

What I can tell you is that my hope and fortune have so far not faltered – my house has not burned, my loved ones are still healthy. I have had no inner demons gain strength, I have had no ominous feelings of having made a grave mistake. I have in fact only felt generally less interested in self-flagellation, and somewhat more forgiven and understood on a fundamental level. Maybe just a little bit. As though the creative source from which I came was at least as caring and concerned as both of my own mortal parents, collectively, have been for me. God is bigger than mortal parents, but I have made Her (and by extension, Him as well) so, so much smaller. Mean, really. What a cruel trick to have played on ourselves.

I don’t mean to invalidate the need for penance, when penance is called for – but it is not a way to wheedle oneself out of some firey judgement brought down upon us by an angry single-parent; it is a way to build character. The kind of character we are meant to strive for in our short time here.

God’s anger has a purpose, like the anger of a parent watching their beloved child almost walk into traffic. I have subtly believed though in the Cosmic Stick rather than the Cosmic Carrot for a disproportionate amount of time. I am not at all done wondering where God is, and what aspects I am supposed to conceive of, and then say my words of thanks and prayers to, but I can see that my conception of God is still very informed by the limitations of human minds – including my own of course, but those of others as well. I can imagine all of the very-human reasons this came to pass, and continues to do so.

God (or whatever one chooses to call the Source, or the Here and Now) made us into beings that could perceive, think, discern, choose, and act. That is what we are and are meant to be and do. It is no sin to consider anew what God we are to pray to on a given day, since God is all of the gods – not a small and localized one, but the One, which includes us as well. This is of course my belief system, at present. What more could it ever be, to me?

If it were a sin to think God might be able to conceive us all on Her and His very own, then there is no escaping sin. I choose to feel I have much to learn still – and I have the permission, freedom, and responsibility to do it. I will let you know if catastrophe strikes, but I’m so far inclined to report that God is still hearing my prayers, just as well if not better, for having had them addressed to His better half, with greatest respect and even greater faith.

How to be a Hero

I woke up the other night and started to write this, and it got big, and I realize I can’t find the edges of this topic. So I’ll post it, typos and all, and then move on, and will no doubt have more to say later, in and among the brambles of my regular days.

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What Part of Jesus do I Hang on my Wall?

QUESTION: Should they, the Early Christians, have chosen something else to symbolize God’s love?

God’s son: rendered in wood, and hung upon a cross – that ancient instrument of intimidation, torture, humiliation, and death. It seems at times to me a bit unseemly to remember and announce a transcendent God in quite this way; a rather poor eulogy for His Saviour Son of Man. Jesus had so many better moments in his shortened life.

And yet perhaps no greater moment than this – his last. Would we have remembered Jesus any better otherwise… or still less, or even at all? What if he had died an old man, surrounded instead by loved ones upon his blessed deathbed, after a long, full life of healing the sick, walking on water, multiplying food & drink, challenging authorities, and delivering life lessons in the form of riddles?

Maybe it was that shocking (and, as it turned out, temporary) end to his story that keeps it in my mind, somewhere. Maybe it is that very image of a man hung high for the crime of claiming a connection to the divine – one that he told us we all share – that keeps me longing to take lessons from one sad story of good news.

My Daily Denials

I keep a crucifix in a bedroom drawer – next to my other unmentionables, and additional random remnants I keep as talismans too, inexplicably: a broken shoelace, a ball of wood from some art supply store, and a bookmark (mentioned in another post), bearing the words of another, differently contentious prophet. A curious trove of trinkets and treasures, from the arguably practical to the I’m-not-sure-quite-what. Strings, stones, boxers, briefs, socks, words, and an eternally dying plastic Jesus Christ.

I wonder at times why I don’t have an image of Christ on my wall where I wake up every day, and then I recall what that image is, and what (I think) it represents. I suppose I owe the man that much, to remember his sacrifice, but Jesus Christ (sorry, Jesus)… who wants to celebrate that moment, and see it every day? Is that what God would want? It’s a kind of macabre celebration of a life, to fixate so fully on its last and agonizing moments.

There is of course the sanitized version of this symbol: the crucifix without the dying Word of God upon it. It looks to me like an inverted sword; it has a practical handle for holding up against vampires too. It has an epic simplicity to it, and works as well in rough-worked wood as it does in gold – probably better in wood, all things considered.

But then… would I carry around a tiny noose, or a rack, or maybe a miniature iron maiden – and any of these out of context – as a symbol of my faith in the good that resides at the very kernel of each of us? Of our collective potential to transcend violence and anger and fear?

No, I would choose maybe an acorn, or a bird, or a cloud. Something light, something fluffier, and a wee bit less gruesome. The cross alone was simply an instrument of death inflicted by mortals upon other mortals (and maybe one immortal volunteer). Jesus upon the cross changes its character and meaning entirely. I have never appreciated the meaning of the word sanctify, but maybe this is as good an example as any example could be of a word-used-well.

I have a problem with the suffering in this world, and a problem with being reminded of the suffering of a man who we have since come to remember for his message of healing, compassion, peace, and forgiveness. This contrast is understandably stark, and itself deeply mysterious. At least, it is those things to me. What is the allure of Jesus hung in pain (and presumably some amount of resigned disappointment), alone upon a lonely post?

Maybe it is sacrilege to ask. But then I think the Christian God at least appreciates questions. Maybe even demands them. As long as we’re asking questions about how to better ourselves and others, I’m not so sure any divine creator worth their salt (and our devotion and attention) would care if we at times struggled around the edges of what our faith and devotion to better ideals should look like.

I don’t know about yours, but my God appreciates effort, and understands human minds are capable of only so much wisdom without a good deal of making mistakes in the process of pursuing it.

Choosing a Means to Remember

So given that I have been given the right to choose how best to remember this man Jesus, what would I have chosen, as a symbol to remember Jesus by, if not his execution?

Would it have been his face? And what arrangement of features and skin tones would be sufficient to give credit to every person in every part of the world who would like to see some of themselves reflected in Him, so they could better reflect Him in themselves? I have no answer. Maybe Jesus could be carved to look like any one of us. But then, how would one recognize him?

Would I have chosen his crown of thorns alone, without the suffering skull? Perhaps with a respectful drop of divine blood? This too would be an appropriate symbol, though perhaps might be conflated with a wreath in these modern and commercial times. Also, the thorns would need to be a bit blunter, were one to expect to wear a smaller crown around their neck. Still, maybe the crown of thorns would be the thing I would choose, at least if pressed to choose quickly.

What about the feet of Jesus (with or without sandals)? The objects of reverent kisses; the very members that moved this travelling prophet around the lands he had come to land upon? The ones that touched the now-holy grounds most physically? Are there stones still in the world that were touched by those very feet? The fleshy surface of Jesus that came into most direct contact with our own world: the feet that could defy gravity, and walk on waves. Maybe those? But who would hang feet upon their wall, and where do you cut them off, respectfully? Perhaps just his footprint… but somehow without making assumptions about his size, in any way. It seems a tall order to celebrate God with a pair of feet, in any case.

Would it be a shroud, or a hand, or the tongue which spoke divine words? A tongue alone is probably taking it too far. The hand, but without identifying fingerprints (an invasion of privacy and personal security to be sure)… the shroud, but then it would need a regular washing, and would that require holy water and/or soap? I cannot know these things.

You might begin to get the idea. It is hard to properly immortalize the already immortal, using the common materials and symbols at hand.

Is it one of the many paintings of Jesus, that I might prefer to see when I look at a given wall? No, those are just paintings, and images are a dime a dozen these days. They are sure to only resolve God into a man with a beard of a given length, and a certain eye colour, and some kind of hairstyle. I think there is something to be said for the Muslim decision (as I understand it, which I admittedly might not) to not characterize such an important figure in such a visually literal manner. It collapses something big into something ordinary, regardless of how colourful one might choose to make it.

But the Christian god – my God – does at least put up with this, and would not approve of violence against those who might wish to paint his Son (in various media), out of love or otherwise.

Even cartoons can be a good way to remember, and continue to consider; remembering and considering are considerably better than discounting and forgetting. I think Jesus had a sense of humour anyway. It’s all good, He might say, I’m not entirely in that image anyway, but you go ahead and try and guess what I really look like I’ll still be waiting when you’ve got more questions.

The Power of an Unfinished Story

The Christian faith to me remains a curious personal struggle with mystery and faith. These and others are the words I have been handed by circumstance to consider and repeat, and perhaps to build upon, in my own life.

Christianity to me does not seem to be an immutable set of pat answers to anything, even though scripture is very often accused of attempting just that, and is very often used in just that way.

Look at the man: he did not settle somewhere and build a temple to himself (or his father, Our Father)- he moved around. He followed the roads available to him, moving at what mostly appears to be Human speed. He retraced steps. He evaded pursuers. He stuck to the ground he was given – but he moved. When not welcome in one place, he shook the dust from his feet and moved on. He told others they should do the same. There was work to be done everywhere, just like today, and too little time to do it all. He even lost his cool now and then, and might have even regretted it afterward. He didn’t carve his words or behaviours into stone or dogma: we did that after he was gone.

Today, we remember this mobile man, by affixing his image to the sawn trunk of a dead tree, re-posted in the ground – or itself hung upon a wall, and most often indoors. We place this symbol of a movement in fixed positions in our homes and houses of worship. The physical tokens of Mobile Jesus still get around a lot, captured in that one fixed moment in time and space.

I could go on, finding other symbols that I would prefer to hang upon any given wall, to remind me that Jesus died for the forgiveness of my sins. One might well roll their eyes at my presumption here. After all, there are as many if not more in the world who do not consider Jesus a given, at all. I am only reiterating what I have been told, and continue to consider.

And still, here I am: the hearing of this story, and my continuing consideration of it in light of the things I’ve personally gone through in my life, has been objectively important to me – in saving me from some dark and downward spirals I might not otherwise have escaped.

The story alone carries with it an undeniable Holy Spirit. Jesus, whoever you feel he may or may not have been, did save me from something, and continues to do so. Call that Magic if you will, or call it the power of Faith, or the power of God, or even the Power of Intention if you must – but it manifests as solidly as solid matter, in my heart and mind, and then in the things I choose to manifest in this world.

So for now I peek at my dying Jesus now and then, and say a very-Canadian Sorry for not wanting to put a nail in the wall, so that I can nail Jesus once again to something stationary, trapped in one place and time.

I carry instead the symbol in my heart and mind, and when the Holy Spirit (or whatever you might wish to call it) is suitably stirred up in me, I can see Jesus (that is, God; that is, Love) in the faces of those around me, and in the animals, and in the water and the trees… and even within myself.

The Word is not a dead word – it is animated and fluid, and living, and works its way through how simple people continue to struggle with their own simple selves, in the pursuit of answers that are continuously given through the active asking for them. Nothing is nailed down.

Happy Sunday! I hope you are safe and well and continue on your own better searches.