17 March 2006

On Seeking Adventure

Again, as I was parousing some of the blogs I have begun to read, there seems to be a thread winding through. The need for change, for something new, for adventure. We must be careful what we are asking for.

One of my favorite authors is G.K. Chesterton. Now before we begin a long discussion on the merits and pitfalls of Chestertonisms, one thing is for sure and that is that he was a good writer, an adept thinker, and had a way with finding a clear perspective on things. But again, that's only my opinion. One thing that he wrote about was adventure, and seemed to have an interesting definition for adventure. In his research into the romantic literature and what makes a situation adventuresome, he concluded that what makes something an adventure is having a good deal of things decided for you on your behalf, and you have to get along as best as possible with the consequences. I like that definition. We have sanitized our adventures into safe and controlable outings. We go rock climbing -- in a gym with rubberized floors and belay ropes everywhere (of course we do, otherwise the insurance companies would have a hayday!). We go on mountain bike trips, along trails and roads that see just a little less traffic than the 401 at 4:58pm. We go river rafting, but only with a guide at the helm and warm coffee waiting on shore. But we sanitize it so that the consequences are reduced to almost nothing, and in some cases there are no more consequences. What of hiking up a mountain, with the consequence that you might twist your ankle, so that you must sit down, so that you might find that tiny alpine flower nestled between the rocks that you would have never otherwise seen for the grandeur of the view?

Now I know what you're thinking, we ought not to take irresponsible risks. I'm a dad for two kids, who am I to put my life at risk for the selfish reason of fulfilling some egotistical need for adventure. Don't I know I have to be there for the kids? Provide for them? I'm not talking about that, there are reasonable precautions, but what I am afraid of is that we have so sanitized our lives that we have begun to remove life itself. We get things our way a little too much. We have gotten used to being able to control a lot more things in our environment than has been available for most of human history. Two hundred years ago, if you were born on a farm, you were a farmer. If you were born in a bakery, you were a baker. I know that is over simplified, but life dictated a lot for people. With the industrial revolution came an economic revolution that gave people the freedom to decide what they want to be, and the opportunity to the means to acheive it.

But this wasn't supposed to be about history. We were talking about adventure. So, do we find it by roaming the far corners of the world? Or as Chesterton put it, by climbing the fence into the neighbour's yard and waiting for a reaction? Where do we find that thing which is alive?

I think it's a bit of both. Chesterton said that there is far too much life at home for some people, and that they have to soothe themselves with tigers and crocodiles. I'm not so sure. There is life out there too. But they are two kinds of life.

I've worked a lot with missions teams while I was in Estonia, and the thing that every group leader knows (or should know) is that the biggest effect of a missions trip is not on those that were ministered to, but to those that were the ministers. The team got the most out of the trip. I've seen it, I've been a part of it, and I've experienced it. Going someplace new opens us up to discovery, most of the internal kind. We learn new things about ourselves while we learn about our new environment. In my opinion, adventure without some kind of self discovery is boring. The kind of adventure that really is an adventure, is when we discover something new about ourselves. Someone or something decides something for us, we are stuck in some situation, and we have to try to get along as best as possible with the result. We fall through the ice, to learn that we can be rather adept at clambering out. Or to learn that our bodies really don't like cold water and that being a member of a polar bear club is something you should never consider. We travel somewhere on a bus and it breaks down, and we discover that walking 10 miles to the nearest town isn't that bad, it just takes time, and that we actually enjoy walking that far even though your left shoe rubs your baby toe a bit (when was the last time you walked more than 2km in one go?)

OK, I'm starting to ramble pointlessly, but I believe I've made my point, that they key to adventure, to self discovery, is to try new things. Try travelling to India, try walking to the store, try river running in a kayak, try climbing over the fence into the neighbour's yard (if you can lift your leg that high). The greatest adventure awaits, learn.

16 March 2006

OK, my first long post, here we go!

So, it's been a bit since I've written anything. I've been busy thinking, and working. For those that don't know, I run the warehouse for a small company. I do all the shipping, receiving, inventory control, some manufacturing, and anything else they can think of telling me to do. It's been very busy, we just launched 4 new products, so there's been getting those prepared, special promo packs to ship, and marketing materials to get in the hands of our sales reps. I've been spending a lot of time at work, and there's times where I don't get to spend enough time with my family. So I got to thinking, which is one of the things I can do while I work.

There's been a lot to think about. There's the topics of some of the blogs I read, they get me thinking. I start thinking about the way my life has developed, the things that have shaped who I am. Then I think about who I am, and what needs to change.

[side note - isn't funny how there's always something that needs to change? It doesn't matter who you talk to, they always say that there's stuff that needs to change]

I think about my dreams, what would be great to be able to do. The pipe dreams, the fun stuff, the things that have meaning, the things that are meaningless.

There's too much to think about. But then, on top of it all, I start analyzing it all, trying to see where different choices will end up. Trying to find out which dreams are wise, and which are not. Trying to see which of these is easy to realize, which are hard, and which are impossible. I've never been much of one to take the easiest route, but I'd much rather do that which is right.

I also find it interesting that I'm not alone in this, it seems that there are many people examining their lives, searching for something more. Trying to find that place or thing that defines them best. We all have this need to feel like we are where we are supposed to be, that sense of belonging. Of being in a place of our own. Be it a home, a job, a vocation, a hobby, a mission, a confession. We all want something of our own, something that is special and unique, at least to us. A way to express ourselves, to take all that we are and put it to use. Each of us is unique, and there is this one place/situation/context to which we are best suited.

For myself, I've found that I can be useful almost anywhere. I've learned a little about alot, I can contribute anywhere. I learn fast. Usually, I can get along with almost anyone. So what does that mean about where I belong? Just about anywhere. There goes the idea that there is a place for me, other than one that I create for myself. So what defines me? Is is my abilities, do I have a special skill? Nope, I'm an average player at every game. No brilliant scientist here, no amazing musician, no gifted artist. Although I enjoy a lot of things, I'll never be the best at anything.

So what is it that defines me? What I look like? I've had facial hair for over 15 years already, I suppose that defines me. But usually I'll shave that off a couple of times a year to remind me why I have one (nasty baby face, I need something to hide behind). So sure, that's who I am, but it's a pretty shallow way of looking at things.

Is who I am defined by my confession? Sure, I'm a Christian. That can be narrowed down to me being an evangelical protestant. But after that, I am hard to peg down in a sense. I know what I believe, but that changes and develops as my understanding fo Scripture changes and develops. There isn't a single denomination that I could say "there's something that I agree with 100%". Not to say that I think they are all wrong, I'm not going to start judging that, it's not my place. But what I see in all the denominations are the many different colours that are expressed in one family. Each provides a place for members of the family to feel comfortable (side note - the topic of whether or not we should feel comfortable is one that could take forever to discuss, but maybe we will start that one soon).

So where does that leave me? There seems to be no cut and clear place for me, other than if I make a place for myself. So that is where I am right now. As far as I can understand, I need to make a place for myself. If there is a place for me to belong, it will be a place of my own making. So that's where I am right now, but the hard part is deciding what it will be.

If anyone has any suggestions, words of wisdom, or just something to say, feel free to leave a comment.

08 March 2006

Fearfully Human: The Thing About Hope

Here's a comment of mine from a friend's blog:

Fearfully Human: The Thing About Hope: "I find it very interesting, that scripture says: 'These three remain: faith, hope, and love; but the greatest of these is love.' This precedes a homily about love. Faith is spoken of over and over (in my opinion, the best and most succinct being heb.11:1). But what about hope? How much is hope espounded? I feel that hope is a very misunderstood aspect of faith.
There was one of those old WWII war movies, can't remember which one, but the situation was this: american officer in German POW camp, walks up to German officer and askes 'When can we hope to be released?' to which the German officer responds 'Why, you can hope any time you wish!'
Now here's the dilema, do I really agree with that or not. Hope should never die. But is it that simple that hope is up to us?"

This has been a thought of mine for quite some time. Is hope up to us? Is it really something we decide to? Or is Hope something that springs eternal from within by the power of the Most High?

06 March 2006


Ok, I know, two posts in one day, nay two posts in the same hour. It's getting extravagent isn't it. But I couldn't add this to the last post. I did my taxes yesterday. A couple of very interesting things to note from the process. In the past year, I just over three times what I have earned in any given year previously. That makes me feel pretty good. Way to go Dave.

But then I take a look at what I earned, and I still have to realize that I continue to live below the poverty line. That does have me concerned, I've got a family to support. And yet I work hard, put in more than required hours, but still...

I start thinking that is this all that I am worth? My work, my abilities, my efforts, is this really all that I am worth? Now I know that's not true, but those questions come day after day. I wonder when I will be able to find the place where I can earn my keep, fairly.

At the same time, I realize that things and money will never make you happy. That fulfillment does not depend on my financial situation. That I am not useless when I don't have cash. In fact I may be most useful in this state. And so comes the conflict. Do I embrace poverty, or do I take every opportunity to scratch and claw my way out of it? For the sake of my children, I am drawn one way. For the sake of my soul I'm drawn another.

And once more, the term moderation comes to mind. Anyone have any words of wisdom?

ps - I need to qualify this, I have lived in poverty since I moved out of my parent's house. For as long as I have been on my own I have not been good at making money. Not at any fault of my family. The fault is all mine.

Dis- vs. Satisfaction

There's a very interesting discussion going on at fearfullyhuman.com right now. In fact, it started me thinking about quite a few things. I'm scared of getting too involved in it, because I might end up capitalizing David's blog. I got my blog so I could share this kind of stuff without taking over someone elses blog. So here we go, time for the ranting to begin.

There are a lot of issues being discussed, many of which can lead into endless discussions. Some of which are nobel. Some may change a person. Much may not.

Part of the discussion has revolved around being where we are called to be. And if you feel dissatisfied with your current situation that may be a sign that you are not where you need to be. Now if there is one thing that I am for, it is balance and moderation. And so it is with this. I understand the need for satisfaction and fulfillment in what we do. But, if we need to be very careful that we are not basing our need for change on simple frustration or dissatisfaction. Those may be the very sign that we are where we need to be, that we are there to have an effect.

Now here comes the fun part. There are times that we are called to leave. And there are times we are called to stay. But what if you don't know which is being offered to you? I have wrestled with both, I am wrestling with both. I know that I am where I need to be, but I also know that I where I am is not where I am meant to be. It gets confusing. There's the dissatisfaction with status quo, and the satisfaction of knowing I am in my place. There's the frustration of the fascade that permeates our culture, and the joy of Tim Horton's.

What's going through your mind as you read this?

02 March 2006

First steps on a square foot

So I have decided something. I won't be using this for personal entertainment. I won't be experimenting, much. Other than that, I suppose there is a lot of other stuff to explore. One thing is for sure, there isn't much that I consider too sacred for discussion. There isn't much I consider too risque for modest discussion. I like some form of resolution, even if it means that we agree to disagree.

If there is one thing I need more of in my life, it's reality. Not that I have been avoiding reality, but I want to me more real. Less pretense. Less putting on some act to make others feel good. More saying what I think, how I feel. Taking what I know to be true, and acting on it more often.

I mentioned in my opening post that I have felt like I have been wondering through life with one square foot. It's time to learn how to walk, even if it's with one square foot. I've been a lot of places in my time. I've had the opportunity to do a lot of things. I have had the opportunity to learn from many people. I have had the opportunity to teach many people. I have followed the lead of others, and I have myself been a leader. I have very few regrets. If I had it all to do over again, I would make the same choices over again, except for a few things.

I need to learn how to increase my ability to earn. I have gone most of my life taking whatever has been offered. I need to take steps to change that. Especially now that I have a family of my own. We get by, but that's not enough. I'm not being materialistic or selfish. Our needs are growing and so my ability to earn must increase. I need to increase my ability to assert. I am far to passive. I have never played the victim, but I need to be more of a hero. I need to be more confrontational. I'm not looking for a fight, but I need to stand up for what's right more. I need to be the voice of righteousness, or maybe it would be better to say that people ought not to have to search out what is righteousness, for they will hear it from me. I will continue to dream, but my dreams will expand. One thing I firmly believe is that you can never dream too much.

So, maybe that's enough to start with. What do we have so far? Productiveness, assertiveness, righteousness, dreams. Maybe that's too much already, but maybe it's a good start.