My first ever Facebook post: “in Pasadena, CA…this constant fantastic weather must get boring…” My research into my social media origins brought back fantastic memories of two great weeks spent at Fuller Seminary in their DMin program. Facebook was originally only open to people with college or university email accounts. It opened up to the public in September of 2006. I jumped on 9 months later, not knowing fully what to do with it. Browsing my first few posts was pretty hilarious. “Going to a soccer game”; “zzzzzzzzzz,” “flying back to Nashville,” etc. There were, more often than not, zero “likes” or responses. It was an empty space at first. From what I can tell, many of my first FB friends are still here and haven’t unfriended me because of my posts. It’s remarkable how FB has changed how we all interact with the world. There are parts of it that are disturbing: the proliferation of misinformation, hateful contextless interactions with strangers; the acceptance of non-stop marketing as norm…I could go on.
But, I still land on the side of the optimist. I’ve been able to renew relationships from all my past lives (family, hometown, high school, college, seminary, previous jobs, past towns). I’ve watched former students start families, I ‘ve seen their children go off to college, marry, and start their families. Rich, deep conversations often develop with people I know well as well as with people I’ve only just met. I couldn’t begin to put a value on these things. I’ve considered dropping off for all the reasons many of you have considered leaving. But I would miss the community. For every crazy story or troll, I’ve found I have multiple dearly loved friends with whom I discover so many shared beautiful things in common.
William Nicholson’s play, Shadowlands, has a beautiful line delivered by the C. S. Lewis character: “We read to know we’re not alone.” I think that’s why I continue to post on social media. I post to know I’m not alone. I recognize that there are times I have contributed my own sour notes to the din of dissonant social media noise populating my feed and yours. However, I also hope to add some melody…some harmony. I hope that the sum of my social media life would fall on that side of the ledger. And I hope that you will remain online. This community is extraordinary. My life would be poorer without it. And I don’t want to be alone. (I wonder if my MySpace page is still out there in the ether?)
I woke up AFib on Wednesday. Atrial Fibrillation. The chambers of our hearts usually beat on a regular rate. However, it can go all Southern Baptist on you and lose its groove. I felt just a little dizzy and just a little nauseous. Nothing really debilitating or significant. I started to go to work and then decided to lay down and go in just a little late. But I got a couple alerts from my new Christmas present like those new Apple watches are apt to do. It was telling me my regular 55 BPM heart rate was bumping along at 120. I called a nurse friend who gave me some [good] advice, but instead, I decided to do what dudes do…I sat in my chair and drank some water and figured it would all work out in a minute or two. This grand plan was interrupted by my little sister from another mister who bugged the hell out of me to go to the Quick Clinic. I gave in.
So there was this point when the doctor at the Quick Clinic was telling me what my watch and my little sis had already told me. Doc had just said the EKG was AFib, and he was elaborating that I was heading to the ER and that I couldn’t drive myself. This bugged me because I was perfectly able to drive my own damn self to the ER. I had driven myself to the clinic, and I was a grown-ass man. I was also anticipating the I-told-you-to-go-to-the-ER text from my lil’ sis. I had been told all this earlier that morning and responded to it all with the skeptical and well-practiced eye-roll my dude nature gave me.
So my good and loving wife (a true saint and so much better than I deserve) left work to chauffeur me to the local ER. I was afraid the “healthcare” “industry” was going to life-flight me the mile and a half from the clinic to the hospital and take a massive bite out of my retirement savings (because that’s such a better system than one where costs are regulated and shared—evened out, so no one is thrown into financial ruin because of unexpected medical expenses…but I digress.) The humans of actual “healthcare” took great care of me. They smiled. They were comforting. They built up my confidence in a very unfamiliar place. They apologized for sticks and pokes that are simply part of their jobs because they knew it was uncomfortable for me. They even laughed at my occasional “dad humor.” From the very low paid aids to the very accomplished doctor, cardiologist, nurses, and other staff, all were wonderful. (Except for the chicken salad sandwich I was attempted to be fed at dinner time (see the picture above for what I actually ate) and the lousy hamburger patty served with some canned “gravy” poured on top presented to me at lunch as a “hamburger steak” …but again, I digress.)
I sit here on my back porch today with my feet up by the fire reading a little, writing a little, wasting some time on Facebook a little. As my heart bumps out its irregular little tune, I contemplate how perspective changes almost immediately sometimes. I’m fine. No drama intended with this post. But I also recognize the reality check my little life-hiccup gave me this week. More motivation to get healthier this year. More perspective on what matters. Love for those people who are friends who become family and for blood family who are always here for you. Here’s to 2020. Here’s to beating out a brand new rhythm this year. And my heart getting back to a healthy and utterly non-Southern Baptist rhythm.
Clicking the “publish” button on post #99 the other day made me aware that the next time I clicked that button would be for post #100…a good time to reflect on this little 3 year old experiment I’ve called “…so…here we are in the field.”
I’ve been far from disciplined in my writing. A quick scan of some of my past posts shows that. “Lots of bases covered” is probably a little overstated, particularly in the “covered” area. I’ve posted on faith, theology, politics, sports, Facebook, etc. Some of my favorite posts got very little notice (like THIS ONE, or THIS ONE, and THIS ONE. (What the heck…one more. This one is not anything that I wrote. Just a link to an interesting article about what makes people happy.) I even sniffed the “blogging big-time” once with a post about being unfriended on Facebook which made the WordPress “Fresh Pressed” list for the day. I didn’t know what that meant until my page hits went from a handful a week to well over a thousand that day. Of course that “fame” was short lived and reality struck again.
I had no real expectations when I started this blog. My first post alluded to that. I had been hanging out with a lot of “emergent” types at conferences, etc. around that time and it seemed as though one had to have a blog to fit in. It seemed a little ego-centric and self indulgent. But I finally caved and joined the blogosphere. It’s good to look back. Sometimes I’m pretty proud of what I wrote. Other times I resist the urge to delete a post altogether. But I guess that’s sort of the point of this little blog. It’s putting myself and something I’ve created “out there” for someone to see. What I’ve come to realize is that this blog is not really about ego…it’s about being vulnerable. I’m not talking about being an exhibitionist with my emotions or intimate thoughts. It’s about opening up the conversation. It’s about putting something on my mind into words and setting it loose for people to see. So often, we keep some of these thoughts inside and miss out on opportunities for connection, for deeper relationships and conversations.
So…post 100…it wasn’t really that sexy or provocative. I really don’t anticipate it getting the “fresh pressed” treatment. One thing it has been for me is a time to stop and look back. I’m grateful for the peer pressure unknowingly applied by my hipster emergent friends pushing me to take the plunge into the blogosphere. I hope if you’ve read this far and you aren’t blogging yet, go for it! (If you do, post your blog address below.) I’ll bet you’ll enjoy you’re 100th post as much as I have…even if it’s just for yourself! Peace!
There seems to be a disturbing lack of modesty these days. I’m not talking about physical exhibitionism. I’m talking about the nature of words. We (me included) flash thoughts into comment boxes and status updates without much thought. We tend to listen to people who agree with us. And then, when someone voices a different opinion, we pounce…its a feeding frenzy. I’ve long ago quit reading college football message boards…inane testosterone fueled drivel. And then along comes the election cycle…hard to avoid.
I read a post written by Ron Howard a couple days ago on the Huffington Post basically calling for for honest campaign ads…basically the candidate speaking into the camera in their own words with an American flag backdrop. No writers…no professional spin doctors…no film makers. Simply stating their positions on the germane issues of the day. If they are going to attack their opponent, it would be words coming directly out of their own mouth. I would love to see this happen. But of course no one would listen to those ads.
I recently engaged in a little flash discussion with some college buddies of mine. Both were roommates at one time or another. Both were groomsmen in my wedding. Here some 25ish years later, we find our selves in 3 different states separated by thousands of miles and pretty much on different sides on what has proven to be some very emotionally charged issues. Something pretty refreshing happened. We all presented our positions without calling each other names. Respectful dialogue…hmmm…. Imagine that…
As to Snoopy, frankly…no…it rarely occurs to us that we might be wrong. Mainly because we only really listen to our own voice. We surround ourselves with voices that agree with our voice. And then, when a different point of view is expressed, we simply turn it off…either by switching the channel, the station, the website, or the magazine. If it’s on our Facebook page, we simply try to scream louder than they are. So…no, Snoopy, it has never occurred to me that I might be wrong. Probably not anyone reading this post either.
This blogging thing comes in spurts for me. It’s been a while since I posted anything…nearly 3 months. My excuse has been that I really didn’t have anything to say, at least nothing I wanted to put in writing. I felt that something profound had to be laid down every time I clicked the “Add New Post” button. Whether or not published posts have actually lived up to that expectation is debatable. But there is something about the discipline of putting words on a page I need at this point in my life. It has little to do with an audience for this blog. Based on the “hits” counter, not many people are reading this stuff anyway.
The relatively recent (at least for my circles) rediscovery of the practices of observing Ash Wednesday and Lent have been increasingly meaningful for me over the past several years. Once my understanding shifted from “giving up a guilty pleasure” toward the taking on of a new discipline[s], it has become an important season for my faith. This year, part of my Lenten discipline will be to write regularly here on the blog. We’ll see where that takes me.
I ran across this link that supposedly analyzes a blog a gives you your “type”. My report is below:
INTP – The Thinkers
The logical and analytical type. They are especialy attuned to difficult creative and intellectual challenges and always look for something more complex to dig into. They are great at finding subtle connections between things and imagine far-reaching implications.They enjoy working with complex things using a lot of concepts and imaginative models of reality. Since they are not very good at seeing and understanding the needs of other people, they might come across as arrogant, impatient and insensitive to people that need some time to understand what they are talking about.
This show what parts of the brain that were dominant during writing.
Some of the other blog-types on my blogroll:
Barnabas File: ISTP – The Mechanics: The independent and problem-solving type. They are especially attuned to the demands of the moment are masters of responding to challenges that arise spontaneously. They generally prefer to think things out for themselves and often avoid inter-personal conflicts. The Mechanics enjoy working together with other independent and highly skilled people and often like seek fun and action both in their work and personal life. They enjoy adventure and risk such as in driving race cars or working as policemen and firefighters.
Cool People Care: ENTJ – The Executives: The direct and assertive type. They are especially attuned to the big picture and how to get things done. They are talented strategic planners, but might come off as insensitive to others needs and appear arrogant. They like to be where the action is and like making bold and sweeping changes in complex situations. The Executives are happy when their work let them learn and improve themselves and how things work around them. Not beeing very shy about expressing their ideas and often very outgoing they often make excellent public speakers.
Just Words: The Idealists – INFP: The meaning-seeking and unconventional type. They are especially attuned to making sure their beliefs and actions are congruent. They often develop a passion for the arts or unusal forms of self-expression. They enjoy work that are aligned to their deeply feelt values and tend to strongly dislike the more practical and mundande forms of tasks. They can enjoy working alone for long periods of time and are happiest when they can immerse themselves in personally meaningful projects.