Archive for category Stumbling

Do Not Think

Posted by on Saturday, 25 February, 2012

In a previous post, I set out to list all the reasons that I do not date. By the time I was finished, I had almost talked myself out of it. That is counter-productive. I am so reluctant to make decisions at all,  to question the convictions that I already have simply will not do.

I also went through the archives looking for something. Reading through old post is always depressing. I sometimes dissociate, and think, “This poor guy has been in such pain for so long… I wish that there was something that I could do.” Then I come back and realize that that guy is me, and there is nothing anyone can do. I realized that, I do not think that this was a conscious thought necessarily, but in the past I was hoping that someone would read my blog and understand my struggles and show me what I was missing. Because I was definitely missing something.

Since last summer, I have written a post per week, whether I had anything interesting to say or not. Usually not. I was telling someone recently that I thought the discipline of doing it every week was more valuable than anything I actually had to say. Although, after reading through the older posts, I wonder if the silly stuff I write about now might actually be an improvement.

In the past, I never wanted to talk about my blog in person. I do not remember why, or if I even had a reason. Now I find myself mentioning frequently in conversation, and I feel foolish every time. In the mid ’00s, everyone had a blog and nobody cared. Now we are well into the ’10s and people care even less. In fact, there is a certain comedy website whose articles lately keep slapping me in the face. Talking about your blog is pathetic. Talking about your book that you are never actually going to write is pathetic. Talking about your dream journal is pathetic.

It is almost enough to make me want to throw in the towel. But I am committed to one post a week, and again, it is not wise to rethink that.

Heart

Posted by on Monday, 13 February, 2012

Last summer, I had the opportunity to meet the fiancée of one of my ex-girlfriends. I expect that such situations are weird for everybody. It actually was not that awkward; at least, no more awkward than when I meet anyone else for the first time. My relationship with that ex was a long time ago, and our lives have gone in *very* different directions since then, so it is not as though I was harboring a secret desire that we might get back together some day. (Which I realize is probably something that people say whether it is true or not, so you will just have to take my word for it.)

However, what was disappointing is that, perhaps uniquely among my close friends, not only am I single, but none of my ex-girlfriends are married either. So until now, I could always fall back on the comforting, “It’s not me, it’s THEM.” So, just to be clear, it is your position that the fact that you are only attracted to independent women who do not want to be tied down is in no way your fault? Oh. Well, when you put it that way…

Besides, whatever happened in the past, it “is me” now, because I do not date. At one point, I realized that the amount of time that had passed since my last relationship exceeded the total length of all of my relationships combined. And it has been another two years since that realization. My father was widowed and remarried in less time.

I also can not help but notice that several of my friends are not having much more success than I am on the serious relationship front, and I take comfort that I at least have spent very little thought, and no effort whatsoever for the same result. Although, it occasionally comes out that someone actually has been dating, but just never felt the need to tell me.

I have a stack of reasons for why I do not date that I might give depending on my mood and to whom I may be speaking. I once tried to change my relationship status on FB to ” ‘It’s complicated’ with ‘Vow of Celibacy’.” However, since “Vow of Celibacy” was not on my friend list, it only showed up on my profile as “It’s complicated”, which I think has completely the opposite connotation from what I intended.

I never actually made a formal vow of celibacy, of course. However, in honor of Valentine’s Day, I thought I would list my reasons for not dating. In no particular order:

  • As I have stated previously, it became clear to me that my desire for a romantic relationship was hindering my search for God. Yet my desire for a romantic relationship was the very reason for my search for God. Unable to resolve this paradox, I essentially gave up the pursuit of either.
  • I am particularly against casual dating, because I still believe in courtship. That is, dating specifically with the intention of marriage. The concept was my introduction to Christianity. I sometimes think it foolish that I should continue to hold on to that when I have largely abandoned all other religious convictions, but it is LIFO I guess.
  • If I were a convinced Christian, I would obviously want to be with a Christian woman. Whereas if I were an atheist, I would prefer someone with similar views. However, being stuck in limbo for as long as I have makes such a choice impossible. To be honest, I rather prefer someone with Christian values, which seems especially unfair if I do not actually have them myself.
  • I tend to be attracted to someone unattainable. She might be way out of my league, or simply not interested. Or, though it may come as a surprise that I actually have a moral code, there are circumstances where the context in which I know someone means that pursuing a romantic relationship is simply out of the question.
  • It has been many years since I have even met anyone that I was seriously interested in pursuing. Now, I am obviously not some kind of Zen master. I certainly encounter intriguing females now and then. But after this many years, I have become rather adept at telling myself, “Is there any chance that you going to ask her out, talk to her, or really even think about her ever again? No? Move along then.”
  • I can not help but think that if a woman gets to be my age and still is not married, there is probably a good reason for that. Of course, someone could say the same about me. They would be absolutely correct.
  • I honestly do not feel that I have a lot to offer an eligible lady. I do not currently have any female friends who talk to me about relationship matters, but if I hypothetically did, and she told me about some new guy she was interested in and described someone with my lifestyle and habits? I would advice her to run for the hills. Or if I tried to do an online dating profile what would I say? “College degree that I don’t use. No real job. Live alone in a house owned by my father. Enjoys not leaving the house and never doing anything productive.” I can’t imagine that I would want to be with someone who had such low standards. I have a lot of issues that I need to work out before I could be in anything resembling a healthy relationship. The catch is, without anyone special in my life, I do not have any pressing need to work through those issues.

I have probably forgotten something. In any case, I would probably throw out every one of those reasons for a girl with the right smile, but that smile is just so very hard to come by.

Origins

Posted by on Saturday, 29 October, 2011

For some reason, today I was thinking about my old Bible study group and how we never really discussed anything important. We talked about the Bible, obviously, but there was some kind of unspoken agreement never to mention anything controversial, and not to talk about anything personal. It simply wasn’t done.

At first, I did not care. I was only there to learn about the Bible anyway. But somehow, I lost sight of that. I started to see that group as “my people”, except that I was definitely NOT one of “their” people. That was where it all went wrong. How exactly did that happen?

I remember very early on, I heard someone on Christian radio talking about how Christians have a tendency to spend all their time amongst other Christians instead of sharing the Gospel or whatever among non-believers. I thought that was absurd. I had a particular agenda that involved spending a lot of time at church, but I certainly was not going to forsake my friends for THOSE people.

But then, I did not have to. As it happened, around that same time, all of my close friends moved out of state for one reason or another. With my family already spread around the world, it was not long before I too was spending all my time among Christians. Except that I was not myself a believer. I went from not caring that there was no depth in my Bible group to desiring for it to remain so, because I had secrets to hide. Even though it has been several years since I decided that I could not live like that anymore, that deception is something that I still struggle with when I find myself among Christians to this day.

Follow-Up

Posted by on Tuesday, 4 October, 2011

I happened across this article yesterday. You can read it or not. The gist of it is that some Harvard guys did a survey where they asked people their religious beliefs and then gave them a quiz of trick questions. The example given was:

“A bat and a ball cost $1.10 in total. The bat costs $1 more than the ball. How much does the ball cost?”

The “intuitive” answer of “10 cents” is incorrect. However, they found that intuitive people were one and a half times more likely to believe in God compared with reflective people who thought about it and came up with the correct answer. [Speaking of intuitive verses reflective, I for one tripped all over what exactly they meant by “one and a half times more likely.”]

When I read the question, my immediate thought was, “10 cents”, then I quickly reconsidered and realized that that was incorrect, but I did not want to bother actually working out the correct answer . Which is a fascinatingly accurate analogy for my own belief in God.

The Other Shoe

Posted by on Friday, 30 September, 2011

In a prior post, I said some unkind things about Christians, and I wanted to follow up with a post on what I hate about atheists, but my heart just has not been in it, and I have avoided the topic for several weeks. I actually had a lot of specifics in mind, but ultimately I am just going to say that I find the arrogance and bitterness of militant atheists (that is, atheists that want you to also be an atheist) to be off-putting, and quite frankly, if being right means being like them then I would rather be wrong.

I understand that that is not a rational argument, but it is what I have.

Instead I will share a thought that I had with no real conclusion: The Bible was obviously written (or at least, written down) by literate people in a time when literacy was far from the norm. Education and intelligence are not the same thing, of course, but there is some correlation there. So, while the skeptic might conclude that the greatest supporters of the Bible are not necessarily the finest minds of today, it would be a mistake to assume that held true throughout history. Basically, what I am saying is that there is a high chance that the authors of the Bible were smarter than you or me.

Futile

Posted by on Friday, 9 September, 2011

I tried to post this on fb a while ago, but I was having trouble editing to fit the character limits. The vigilant might have seen some of this in your news feed for three minutes a month ago.

In conversation, I mentioned to someone that I had taken a couple of physics classes at a community college who then asked, “Why did you stop?” I was stumped by this and admitted that I did not know.

Now, anyone familiar with my situation might recognize that the question itself was flawed. The fact is, if you take enough classes then they eventually give you a piece of paper that says that you do not have to go anymore. That explains why I *did* stop, but does not address why I *wanted* to stop, which is essentially what I was being asked. I still do not know the answer.

As I recall, this came up when I was asked if I knew anything about sound waves and I boasted that I knew “a lot” about sound waves. From an objective viewpoint, it is quite curious that when questioned further, I went with “a couple of classes at community college” and not “I have a degree in electrical engineering.”

Of course, the explanation for that is that I have spent the last few years trying to forget that the whole university thing ever happened. But again, what I can not answer is “Why?”

There is something very wrong in my head. A block, a disconnect, something that just is not right. And I have no idea what to do about it.

Finite

Posted by on Friday, 26 August, 2011

I was listening to Christian radio last week (because: Surprise! I still listen to Christian radio sometimes) and the DJ was reading a “letter” that he had received from a young girl (I have to assume that it was really an email, if we accept the premise that little girls actually send messages to radio DJs at all) whom, as I recall, was wheelchair bound for an unspecified reason. I do not recall how much was in the original letter and how much was his own commentary, but the gist of it was that “the world” convinces you that you have no value if you do not fit into a particular mold, but God/Jesus/The Bible/The Church (whatever the term used was) says that you do have value even if you do not fit the mold.

At that moment I almost wanted to pull the car over and throw everything down. I finally had the answer for which I had been searching for eight years:

Christians spend a lot of time talking about nonsense with no basis in reality.

What church was this guy talking about? Oh, I buy that the church will accept you if you do not fit into society’s mold. In fact, they probably will NOT take you if you do fit in to society’s mold (at least their interpretation of it). But you still have to fit into the church’s mold. I can not even say how many people were, for lack of a better phrase, “forced out” of my church group precisely because they did not fit the mold. No one would admit that, of course. In fact, I have no doubt that if you asked anyone involved in any of these incidents, they would genuinely claim they bent over backwards trying to accommodate the person, but that it just did not work out. Of course it did not. Because they did not fit the mold. There is nothing to be done.

I know, I know. Maybe I just went to a bad church. That is a very real possibility. Hell, I felt compelled to lie to almost everyone that I knew for years and years as a condition of attendance, so I am not exactly what you would call “objective” in these matters.

Last weekend I went to a certain local establishment with a friend. I recalled that the previous time that we had been there, we had been accompanied by a third person. I do not want to go into details, but let me summarize by saying that the individual in question spent an unpleasantly long time arguing against a comment that I had made about a specific socioeconomic matter. Yet I remained unconvinced by his arguments, and more annoyingly, completely unsuccessful in my attempts to shift the conversation to another topic.

Some people just really like to argue. I do not understand where that comes from, but I know that is is there. I do not care for arguments and debates. If in the right mood, I do like to try to understand other people’s point of view, but if and when I do bother to state my opinion on anything [like, on a blog maybe?] I do not generally spend additional effort trying to convince someone who strongly disagrees with me that they are wrong. (Alright, I admit that sometimes I can not resist a good sarcastic jab just to mess with someone’s perceptions every now and then, but that is the extent of it.)

Anyway, I was out with my friend again and wouldn’t you know it, this very same guy shows up again. He and my friend proceed to get into a lengthy debate about faith. I am ashamed to say that I pretty much hung my friend out to dry on that one by not saying anything the entire time. I could point out that this man was really an acquaintance of my friend in the first place and I had only ever seen him three or four times, and also that it was my friend’s fault for encouraging him in the first place. Yet still, are not conversations about faith and doubt kind of “my thing”? Not that day. Not with that guy. For one thing, they were not even talking about theology exactly, merely discussing hypotheticals. It seems silly to criticize, given that my post just a couple of weeks ago was one giant “what if”, but I did not see the value in what they were discussing. I could not even confidently predict a likely outcome in the real world of the scenarios they were debating, let alone offer any conclusions about what that outcome may or may not say about God.

A different friend recently wrote a lengthy post; the first part was an anecdote about the struggles of a certain individual whom she had known at some point in the past, and the second part was about what God showed my friend through that experience. It was the sort of thing that you can not argue on facts. That is, I suppose that you could argue the details of the story, and I recognize that there is a slight possibility that the entire thing was invented for a school assignment, but I think that it actually was a true event. However, you can not argue the second part (which is really the whole point of the post) on facts simply because there are no facts. Here is what God showed you? Here is what you feel about this and that? That’s… nice.

I certainly would not say that feelings have no value, but they are not evidence. A feeling can be a good starting point, but if that is all you ever have then… it simply is not enough. [Hold on a moment, the kettle is calling. “Yes? This whole post, you say? No? The entire BLOG‽ Well that’s disappointing.”]

In my bolded statement above, “nonsense” is the wrong word. Nonsense has no meaning, no value, and is possibly even made up on the spot. Christianity is none of those things. No, the word that I wanted is “fiction.” Fiction can be entirely self-consistent and even remarkably accurate to real life, either by intention or coincidence. That does not make it true. On a practical level, I find that Christianity largely amounts to empty platitudes and unprovable assertions. It sounds good. Consistent even. And if it gives some people hope and strength, then good for them. For me, at the end of the day, at the end of eight years of days, it is not enough.

If there is one simple thing that I should have asked my contrary acquaintance above, and perhaps my friend can use this in a future encounter, it would be this: Who would you say has a better knowledge and understanding of whom? Is it my knowledge of God, or His knowledge of me? Presuming that the answer to that is self-evident, therefore if God thus far has not revealed Himself in a way that I am able to comprehend… why is that my fault?

Entropy

Posted by on Friday, 19 August, 2011

It dawned on me earlier this week that it has been so long since I “got over” feeling the need to be a productive member of society that I can not remember when or how it happened.

I do sort of have a job, but it is not consistent work and it does not pay well. Although having some kind of income is obviously a plus, I think one of the main reason I do it is just so that when people ask me what I do, I can have an answer. (Although I do sometimes claim that I am “unemployed” depending on my mood.) Unfortunately, sometimes other people at that job ask what I *really* do for money, and that is always awkward.

It so happens that one of the full time employees there just up and quit recently because his mother has been having a lot of health problems. It also happened to be on one of the days that I was working. Not that it matters, but I was actually the one that discovered the envelop containing his keys and resignation letter that had been unceremoniously dropped through the mail slot in the door. Later that day there was a casual discussion of the various pros and cons of his departure and the topic of his mother dying was brought up, on which point I crudely offered, “That’ll mess a dude UP.” I then added that it happened to me six years ago and I never recovered.

Six years ago I was going to school, I was going to church, I had a social network and romantic relationships (or at least, an interest in romantic relationships)… now, not so much. It might not be a direct cause and effect. After all, your mother dying is something that happens to absolutely everybody (unless you happen to die first and then THAT is the real tragedy). Most people find a way to get on with life. I can not say that I planned this, but I have managed to construct a lifestyle in which I never *have* to do anything that I do not want to. I mean, of course I still have bills to pay and errands to run and that kind of thing, but on any given day, if I do not feel like doing anything productive, it does not really matter. And I have a lot of days like that.

It bothers me sometimes how irresponsible I have become, and especially how much more responsible I was at twenty than at thirty (and counting.) I am pretty good with individual events. If I say I will be someplace, then I will be there. (I probably will not be *on time*, but, you know.) Individual tasks… I will probably get to it… eventually… it depends on who it is for, and if it is just something for my own benefit, probably not going to happen. For tasks that have to be repeated at regular intervals, I am pretty much useless.

Lately, I am starting to feel like the debt has come due on my carefree lifestyle as it seems that everything is falling apart around me.

A pipe sprung a leak under my bathroom back in February and I went five weeks without hot water in the house, because I was just too lazy to fix it. It was another month or two before I finished the plumbing and completely restored water to every faucet and fixture in the house. The sprinkler system is STILL non-operational. That one bathroom still has no tub, no toilet and a big hole in the floor. Lest I sound like I am trying to solicit charity, I want to be clear that it is not a money problem. It is a I-want-to-do-the-work-myself-except-that-I-don’t-really problem. There are some other maintenance issues around the house as well, but they are hardly worth mentioning.

Yesterday I blew a tire on my truck. That happens. However, I knew it was going to happen, because I noticed an unusual bulge in that particular tire over a year ago, but I just never bothered to do anything about it. Oddly, that is the second time in the last month that I was in a vehicle when a tire blew out. The first time, a friend was driving and he lost control of the car and we did a 270 degree turn off of the freeway. I blew out my tire on a mountain road, but I did not spin, and I did not leave the road. That makes for the second – third come to think of it – time that I probably should have died on a mountain road and yet did not. That seems strange.

Flawed (feat. MF-ing GUITAR SHOW!)

Posted by on Saturday, 6 August, 2011

I went to a guitar show last weekend. I had been looking forward to it for some time. I have been wanting to start collecting/investing in guitars for quite awhile now, yet I have been reluctant to pull the trigger on buying anything.

Part of the issue is that collecting and investing are not really the same thing.
Collecting means buying guitars that I personally would want to have, and probably (though not necessarily) would not want to sell. Investing in guitars is just like investing in anything else: buy low, sell high.

It is the “investing” part that is tripping me up. Last year, I bought a big book full of guitar prices. The value of guitars is a lot like cars: a 10 year old one is not worth very much; a 20 year old is worth practically nothing; but somewhere around 30 years old, it changes from “used” to “vintage” and the price starts to go up again; and at 50 years, it is worth quite a lot.

Key then is to buy something that is on the downward part of the curve and then wait ten or twenty years for the price to go up. However, every time I find something that looks good, either online or in person, the seller wants way more than my book says it is worth. Who are they kidding? Is anyone really buying vintage guitars in this economy? I would think it would be a buyer’s market.

I had been to this same guitar show last summer and been slightly disappointed. Sure there were a lot of nice guitars, especially a lot of high end and vintage guitars that you do not generally find in the average guitar shop. Yet, while they did have a number of guitar models that I was familiar with but had never actually seen in person, there was not really anything new and unusual to me like I had been hoping for.

This year, the event was at a venue much closer to where I live and I went fully planning to walk away with something. I do not know if it was the change in venue or the economy or what, but there were not nearly as many booths this year. Still, even on a casual first walk through I noticed several promising guitars. A few more when I really started looking carefully at each vender. Most were again in the way more than I would want to spend range, but not all. I could go into details, but I doubt it would mean much to most readers.

There was one interesting guitar that I kept coming back to in my mind. Great guitar? No. Nice looking guitar? It was actually in pretty bad shape cosmetically. Worth what the asking price? Debatable. But an interesting guitar. A guitar that wants to be played, not kept in a case in the closet. A guitar with character.

However, for a number of reasons (or should I say, “excuses”) that do not seem that important now, I ended up not buying it, and walked out empty handed and more than a little annoyed with myself. I did not even take note of the dealer’s name, which might have left open the possibility of buying it online.

This is not so much about buying a guitar or not buying a guitar. I already have a lot of guitars. I also in general struggle with buyer’s remorse and just plain “clutter” way more often than I have regret over NOT buying something. This is really about having an idea and not following through. It is about not being able to make a decision in the moment. I keep thinking about that guitar that I am never going to have and it reminds me of so many other opportunities that I have missed because of my overall lack of CERTITUDE.

To add extra an extra layer of futility: after spending hours walking around and dreaming of possibilities, did I play any guitar when I got home? I did not.

If Only

Posted by on Monday, 27 December, 2010

I had a dream, several weeks ago now, that I witnessed an (unspecified) miracle that made it absolutely impossible to doubt that Jesus was truly Lord and Savior. And my having accepted that allowed someone who really does not talk to me anymore to completely forgive me, which was essentially a second miracle.

It was the sort of dream from which you wake and take in your usual surroundings with a very dissappointed, “Oh.”

I have witnessed no miracles since.