Reading, Writing, Thinking

November 30, 2022

I missed a day here yesterday. I had an outpatient procedure that necessitated leaving home about 5:30 am. I blamed the condition on past workplace stress. More likely it was hereditary given a bit of family history of my brothers. Also likely not as much genetic as growing up in the same household. We had plenty of stress there.

Glad to report that the operation was successful. I can’t praise the people at Advocate Sherman hospital enough from the receptionist to the nurses, doctors and support staff. By the time I got home yesterday early afternoon, my LiveWell app had been updated with all the blood test results, the results of the procedure, and the surgeon’s notes and commentary. Crazy good.

This sort of technology and follow up would be fantastic for service calls in my other job relative to manufacturing. Or even the service person who comes to your house. There’s the good side of technology when it’s a servant. Then there’s the bad side (Twitter, Facebook, etc.).

This morning at 5:30 felt good. Back in the saddle. 

I read many thinkers and writers. Never stop learning. This thought came from Paul Graham’s monthly newsletter.

You can’t think well without writing well, and you can’t write well without reading well. And I mean that last “well” in both senses. You have to be good at reading, and read good things. By “good at reading” I don’t mean good at the mechanics of reading. You don’t have to be good at extracting words from the page so much as extracting meaning from the words.

Most people I read consider writing as part of thinking. To me, it’s core to education. They need to do more of it at least from middle school through grad school. I often begin with an idea that came from observation or reading then begin to write. Bless computers—it’s easier to backspace and begin again than cross out and re-write.

It’s a practice. It can be a spiritual practice. Read, observe, think. Begin to write. As you sort out your thoughts, you’ll find new wisdom percolating. You might even change your mind on some things through thinking rather than reacting. I know I have. Even (especially?) through somewhat critical comments.

God With Us

November 28, 2022

We are now in the Advent season. The sub-head of my blog talks about living with God. But there are so many things I wonder about. Matthew (the gospel writer) says that an angel told Joseph to name his “son” Yeshua (through a series of transliterations, we wind up with Jesus in English) which means Yahweh (God) is salvation or God saves. Immediately after that thought, Matthew quotes from the Hebrew prophet Isaiah that the name of the child shall be Emmanuel–God is with us. Thank you, Jon Swanson, for today’s post that sent me down a rabbit warren of internet searches to refresh my memory of all this.

Even though the sub-title of my website talks of living with-God, I didn’t choose that because I know. I chose it because I want to puzzle it out. What does that mean? How do I live it?

I’ve read where the first Century Jesus-followers literally felt Jesus’ presence when they gathered. The small group movement had a tradition of the empty chair–an invitation to fill it with someone new. I think the first Christians must have had that tradition of an “empty chair” where Jesus sat with them. After all, his last words were, “I will be with you always…”

I miss the formal attention to advent of the Methodist church of my youth. But the tree and decorations around the house that my wife prepares every year are a reminder. It’s where I attempt to focus on God With Us amidst all the distractions of the season.

“I will be with you always…” I guess “always” means, well, always. Even now. It’s not a theory. It’s a presence.

Story of a Life

November 25, 2022

I’ve seen this poem before, but hat tip to Tim Ferriss for including it in today’s Five Bullet Friday newsletter. Sometimes I’m an even slower learner!

Autobiography in Five Short Chapters

Chapter One
I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost… I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

Chapter Two
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in the same place.
But, it isn’t my fault.
It still takes me a long time to get out.

Chapter Three
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in…It’s a habit…but,
my eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is 
my fault.
I get out immediately.

Chapter Four
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

Chapter Five
I walk down another street.

— Portia NelsonThere’s a Hole in My Sidewalk: The Romance of Self-Discovery

Thank You

November 24, 2022

I see very few people during a normal day. Still, there are opportunities to thank people for helping or for a kindness.

Almost all of my email replies of which there are many each day include a thank you. Even those annoying pitches from public relations people. They are doing their job. I thank them for noticing me.

Thank you to each of you who read these thoughts.

It is Thanksgiving holiday today in the US. Being a holiday means traditions–usually family gatherings. Or remembrance of past family gatherings. Maybe we remember to give thanks sometime during the day.

Holidays are nice, as long as we don’t stress out over them. Better still is to make every day a thanksgiving day. It improves our health and our attitudes and adds a little boost for those to whom we show a little appreciation.

Being Shouted At

November 23, 2022

During those rough early-teen years, my daughter would tell me that I shouted at her. I told her, “Girl, you don’t know what being shouted at is!”

It is true that we do not like being shouted at. I suppose that if we are US Marine Corp recruits and the drill sergeant is in our face, there might be a reason for being shouted at. (I only know from TV and not from personal experience.) I have experience with manufacturing plant managers screaming at me to fix a machine or get production moving. Not pleasant, although sometimes quite motivating.

Have you noticed that you listen more carefully when the speaker speaks quietly? The softly spoken word backed by full diaphragm support effectively communicates its message.

Let us take a look at a typical politician or Christian. How often are they shouting to get your attention? Even in emails the tone is shouting.

I notice people who are nervous or uncertain of their own value often raise their voices. Nassim Taleb notices that people tend to raise their volumes when they are lying.

A good spiritual practice–try speaking softly with full diaphragm support and distinct words. Try it again. Until you perfect it.

People Are The Problem

November 22, 2022

I was a certifiable geek. Lacking social skills, my thoughts revolved around science, engineering, philosophy.

The school where I was studying dropped the graduate program in the middle of my first year. Newly married, course work complete, looking for a thesis topic to complete a Masters, I accidentally got a job in manufacturing. Stayed there for a career.

My boss told me that the engineering problems were easy, or at least solvable. People are the problem. Great. My weakness faced the biggest challenges of my new career.

He was spot on. Whether business, church, school leadership, other organizations—working through people problems became the real task.

It’s not theology; it’s people. Jesus knew that. He debated theology with the religious lawyers of the day. But it was people he focused on. Healing, teaching, leading.

What Is The Spirit Seeking To Do Through Me?

November 21, 2022

Some people think that all you need is faith. They are suspicious of what they call “works.” The idea is that you cannot work your way into heaven.

Other people follow along with the Apostle James who taught that faith without works is dead.

Many of us are at work seeking God. We are not so arrogant as to think we know all about God.

As we seek, we ask the reverse question–what is the spirit seeking to do through me?

I am not an innocent bystander. God’s spirit moves through the universe seeking people who will infuse themselves with the spirit and follow where it leads doing what is required.

Raising The Volume of Your Voice

November 18, 2022

When people raise the volume of their voice, one of two emotions are in play. Uncertainty or lying.

People telling the truth speak softly. People with assurance also speak softly.

Perhaps we should tune our ears to ourselves for immediate feedback. We can catch ourselves before being foolish.

Smooth Is Fast

November 17, 2022

I knew a man who never hurried, never raised his voice. He accomplished much.

I knew a man who managed by edict. He was a flurry of energy and orders and forcing others. He accomplished little.

The caption in an old cartoon called Pogo once had one character talking to another, “The hurrieder I go, the behinder I get.”

Slow is smooth; smooth is fast.

Dwell On What Is Real, Not On the Surface

November 16, 2022

There is the flower, then again there is the fruit.

Do you dwell on the surface beauty of the person, or on their inner depth?

Do you dwell on the surface words of your scripture, or on the spiritual depth they reveal?