Monthly Archives: June 2013

Step Forward, Step Back, But Never Stop

This was a step backward. Today was a step forward. Tomorrow is yet to be decided.

I hope, I strive, for forward motion, but I can accept backward movement. What I cannot abide is stagnation. Intuition suggests that neutral is at least better than reverse, but I have found that to be far from true.  Even in regression, lessons are learned. The most growth arises from the most trying moments. Every step backward can evoke two steps forward.

But stillness, nothing can come of that. You are neither improving nor learning from mistakes; in those moments, you simple exist and nothing more. And we were meant for much more than to simply intake air.

Step forward, step backward, both are necessary and beneficial, but never stop moving. Every moment you stand in place is a moment lost. We are each a collection of moments, let us never waste them.

Product of Forgetfulness

I was supposed to spend this evening documenting for my work, but thanks to a forgotten wallet, containing the necessary information, I guess I’ll write a blog instead. Which I just realized I haven’t done in quite a while. My blog is so many levels of dysfunctional, but I suppose that is fitting.

 

The truth is I’m terrified that I’ll miss one step (if I haven’t already) that will make the difference between here and there, between achieving my dreams and just dreaming. I am simply bad at forming habits, maintaining habits, and disciplining myself to achieving something that isn’t an immediate concern. Doing nothing is too easy.

Following through with graduate school details.
Finding a second job.
Starting some form of physical exercise.
Staying up-to-date on my work responsibilities
Writing consistently
Blogging consistently
Resuming a frequent reading schedule.

All of these are things I desire, things that I have deemed important, if not necessary, for my present or future goals. And all of these things remain untouched, incomplete. Every time I find myself gaining the resolve to start one or more of these, I wake up the following day with all of that forgotten.

Normally, this is the spot I offer some potential solution, some new insight, but I don’t have any to offer that hasn’t been said or isn’t already known. Simply put, I am terrified I will wake up 30 years from now and look back on a life of miss opportunities. A product of lethargy and forgetfulness.

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Smash Your Computers

First off, I want to say ‘what up’ to Obama, since he’s clearly reading every blog page.

There has been an explosion of internet traffic and outrage over the Patriot Act as it has been up for review, exposing many of the implications of this Act into mainstream media, which I have found both morbidly amusing and extremely infuriating. No, I am not defending the Patriot Act; I believe the Patriot Act to be a travesty on civil liberties and the beginning of a slippery slope for the government. I hope the three sections up for review are allowed to expire.

However, I am not here to debate either the right/wrong or the constitutionality/un-constitutionality of the Patriot Act, that is for you to decide for yourself.  Here’s two articles to get you started:

1. This Is What Section 215 of the Patriot Act Does

2. A Looming Battle Over the Patriot Act

The USA PATRIOT Act or the Uniting (and) Strengthening America (by) Providing Appropriate Tools Required (to) Intercept (and) Obstruct Terrorism Act, is nothing new, but with the growth of the internet and our increasing dependence on the internet, the implications have reached new, unsettling levels. This is likely the main reason for the outrage displayed over the past week. The ‘government’ is reading your tweets, stalking your Facebook pictures, and cycling through your Tumblrs. Because, you know, it’s not like ‘they’ have better things to do, like, oh, govern?

Anyway. The Patriot Act  was signed into law in 2001. Twelve years later, the Patriot Act is nothing new, but the attention is. Twelve years ago, following the 9/11 tragedy, the American people were dazed, devastated, and angry—very angry. The American people wanted a response, most supporting a military one, and in the frenzy that followed, too many of the American people were willing to ignore the Patriot Act if it assisted in capturing this vague idea of ‘terrorists.’ However, as an unfortunate minority tried to show, the natural consequences of this Act were rather obvious. That this has become an issue shouldn’t be surprising; We The People said it was okay, but twelve years later, with the mainstream interest in the War on Terrorism having largely ebbed, the American people suddenly realize they don’t much care for the implications of such a radical Act.

While I do not absolve the government officials of any blame, the design of our American democracy ultimately places the responsibility for the government upon We The People. The design of our government was built upon the idea that if the government over stepped their boundaries, the people could force the government in a different direction, by making their voices heard and their votes used. The Constitution was constructed upon the novel idea that the government should beholden to the people, not the other way around. Here in America, we have the ability—the responsibility—to be the change we want to see. And therein is the heart of my frustration.

At least in the past decade, Americans love to complain, but hate doing anything. The development of social media only increased this favorite pastime. Thanks to our First Amendment, Americans have perfected the skill of sitting behind a computer and complaining to one another on the internet. However, a small few of America actually close their laptops, walk out the door and do anything about their frustrations. We learn, in school, about the civil rights March on Washington, the Vietnam protests, and other historical movements. These, ladies and gentlemen, are democracy at work.

Unfortunately, we have reached a point that maybe 50% of American even vote in each presidential election, and drastically less on a state and municipal level. In a country where we can be the change we want to see, Americans take this for granted and do nothing. Frankly, no one cares what you say on Facebook or Twitter. No one is listening. Social media can be important for raising awareness, but when it devolves into a source of narcissistic satisfaction for ‘participating’ in protesting social injustices, social media loses it’s importance. No one cares about Trending Topics: they’ll be different tomorrow. Wait a news-cycle, the American people will get bored with the current outrage and find something new to be upset about.

Therefore, in a most jaded and cynical way, I simply can’t be upset about the implications of the Patriot Act, should it be renewed. We The People are responsible for our government, blaming the government is an indirect indictment of the American people. The moment We The People remembered this and assumed our constitutionally guaranteed  place of leadership is the moment that real change will happen. The moment the American electorate stop ignoring their civil responsibility is the moment America will once again represent the lost values people often bemoan.

You have a choice:

Stand up; energize and organize your family, friends, and community to act; and be the change you want to see.

Do nothing and watch as things continue to worsen, narrated by exclusive commentary via your social media. But, if I were you, I’d smash your computer because Obama and them Feds are coming for you.

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Fresh Air

The beauty of art, especially music, is the inherent soul found within each piece that can evoke emotion and thought within the mind and heart of another being. I enjoy a wide variety of musical genres because different genres specialize in separate human experiences. I’m a firm believer that appreciating a person’s music or that of a wider generation and time, is one way into understanding the heart and soul of that person or people.

Anyway, it’s been a hectic past few days, so I am thankful for music like this—a breath of fresh air, if even for just a moment.

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Wanted: Travel Companion

Dear friends;

I found out Wednesday that I’m leaving home tomorrow for a job as I look to fill these next 5-6 months until Boston. I had expected to leave, but I had always thought I would have had more notice, more time to process this new transition: college graduate, moving out of my parent’s home, and starting a “real” job. So naturally, I’ve spent a significant amount of time over the past few days contemplating my life—past, present, and anticipated future.

This isn’t a new thought for me, but I realized just how alone I truly am, but that’s a natural consequence of the path I’ve chosen.

Let me be clear, by ‘alone’ I am not referring to the I-have-no-friends-and-no-one-loves-or-truly-understands-me type of loneliness. I have been blessed with an overwhelming number of friends; so much so, that I doubt there is many places across America (like Alaska. I mean, does anyone REALLY live there? I’m doubtful) that I could venture and not know some one in the surrounding area.

No, this isn’t some “oh poor me” loneliness; I am referencing a different type of loneliness—the sort that accompanies a restless wanderer.

When I left Michigan for undergraduate studies in Arkansas, I was the only one of my closest friends who left. To date, that remains true. These friends, the ones I’ve managed to maintain contact with, are still scattered across West Michigan. I know, whenever I come home, they will be there. I can rely on them to be there, and I imagine the majority of them will still be around those parts several years from now.

These friends have established networks, friends, and family in the area. Life for them isn’t perfect, but there is a certain level of comfort in the familiar places and faces.

The majority of students at Harding University are not from the area, and most of them leave upon graduation or shortly after. If I return to that place many years from now, I imagine the number of familiar faces will be few, if any.

However, unlike many of my friends in Michigan, the majority of my friends from Harding have a different common characteristic. Following the stereotype of that university (and most similar universities), many students leave there seriously dating someone, engaged, or married. I refer to this for this simple reason: while many of these friends are experiencing new transitions in their lives, moving to new places, starting graduate schools and jobs, many of them have the common comfort of another person.

What both groups of relationships share in common is a level of consistency and predictability, whether it be a single person or a location. The one thing I lack, the hardest consequence of my chosen path, is that predictability. For the majority of my friends, I imagine, to some extent, they know what their lives will hold five years from now and I venture that they would be correct in most cases. So-in-so will be married to this person. He will be living in this area. She will be working that job, likely with a promotion.

I have no idea where I will be five years from now. This thought, this simple idea, continues to either invigorate or terrify, depending on the day. That’s exactly the kind of life I have chosen.

There will always be days, like these past few days (and the days leading up to most major transitions), which are filled with anxiety, doubt, and mournful nostalgia. And, if I’m being brutally honest, there is little more in life that terrifies me more than change, which is all the more reason I embrace such change.

Most people my age have some general understanding of what they want from life, the person they want to be. We all have different, but equally worthy dreams. On days like these, I find myself jealous of those friends whom are settling down. But the truth is, that’s not me.

I have dreams of traveling the world, effecting change in social policy, and writing more than a few published works. None of these dreams, in how I plan to chase them, allow room for slowing down, stopping, or settling. On a specifically personal level, the moment I become comfortable, is the moment I know I’m no longer pushing myself to grow, to achieve. And I’m too often comfortable.

Many years ago, I came across this quote, which has been a silent banner for my resolve:

“How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.” -Henry David Thoreau

I realized there are few guarantees upon this twisted path I walk; I cannot guarantee comfort, predictability, wealth, consistency, or much of anything except that things will never be easy and every day will be an adventure. And that’s enough for me.

Dear friends, I am not sure when we will meet again, but I hope our roads meet occasionally. If you’re ever looking for an adventure, feel free to come visit, wherever I may be.

I could always use a travel companion.

-Doug

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