A Brand New Year!

A brand new year!

It is always my hope that I will do better in a new year. Better diet, more exercise, less sin, more friends, and a lot more family.

Yet, I never seem to get there.

Pounds cling to my body, chances to stretch and to strengthen are too often left by the wayside, I do what I want — even when I don’t really want it, I sit alone and I think about me too much.

I’m excited about a brand new year. Despite my failings to improve in my 60+ years, I still have hope. In fact, in many ways I have done better year after year at many of these resolutions. It’s just that I have had such a long way to travel — and the path stretches out in front of me for quite a ways.

As I age, I’m becoming more and more aware of the danger of emphasizing SELF-improvement over a joyous, focused effort to walk closely with God.

Better times are often less a product of what we avoid and more the result of what we actively pursue.

That’s where we should be headed this year. No doubt, we may veer from that course from time to time. But with eyes trained on Him, we can’t help but do better.

Happy New Year!

Liars’ Holiday

the problem with talking too much

It’s the holidays. I haven’t been to the office in over three days. I watched a couple of Christmas movies. I read my new book. And I spent an unbelievable amount of time catching up on the political scene. In fact, I spent over an hour yesterday morning just trying to grasp the enormity of “misinformation” that leaks out of people. I knew it was there, but I found myself intrigued by the liars’ indexes that have been gathered.

photo credit: The Telegraph

Much could be made of the fact that the worse offenders seemed to be gathered along one end of the political spectrum. But it’s shocking to see how much falsehood is thrust upon us by all of the candidates — and sitting officials.

Still, I wondered why some of these folks seemed to be so focused on falsity.

‘The lady doth protest too much, methinks.’

I have settled on the idea that is attributed to Queen Gertrude in Shakespeare’s Hamlet. And no, this is not an indictment of the female candidates for president. In fact, both appear in the middle of the list of fabricators. Instead, I’m thinking about the meaning attributed to that statement over the years.

We think of the statement using the modern definition of the word “protest” — a challenge, a defensive move. When Bill Shakespeare wrote, protest meant a vow or commitment. The Queen was saying that the lady in the play she was viewing was trying to promise too much. To which her son, Hamlet (the playwright), said, “Oh, but she’ll keep her word.”

As I reviewed the list of candidates, it occurred to me that placement on the liars’ scale could have a lot to do with promising too much. That’s a common malady of those who talk too much.

Now, for those of you who are offended by my analysis, I am truly sorry. But listen to those statements. Take a close look at the quotes that land these people on the liars’ list. In most cases, their statements would have been valid if they had just stopped early enough.

In the press to win, to overcome, and perhaps, even to lay waste to others, we all go beyond what we’ve thought through. Sometimes we’re lucky and we deliver on our promises. Sometimes, we “protest too much, methinks.”

A healthy pause can be a good thing. And listening to others during the pause could be, too.

Socially Medium

I have to admit that there are times that I would like to close down my social media accounts. To bend a phrase of Winston Churchill, “Never was so much bad said about so few by so many.” It is the ease and spontaneity of social media that makes it so great and so damaging — all at once. In fact, observing the rancor and the vile ideas that are often promoted, I have found myself becoming socially medium.

Photo on 7-13-14 at 7.39 AM

 

“Socially medium” is the online equivalent of the passive bystander — quietly observing the mayhem of a moment and then slipping unnoticed into the crowd.

I wonder how many of us are out there being socially medium.

Don’t hear this as a call to join the boisterous inanity of those who attribute evil to practically everything. And, you know who you are. Perhaps we all should be thinking about who we are and what we stand for and make sure that we are, indeed, standing.

I know. Being socially medium keeps us out of the controversy and safe from the attacks of others. But being socially medium also allows us to simply not think and never do if we let it become our standard.

A step away from being socially medium takes us to a place where we think, where we explore new ideas and perspectives, and where we become curious. Dialog builds relationships. Relationships build communities. Communities, when bonded over care and concern for others, become the birthing place of all manner of goodness.

Care to join me as I think more, explore more, and feed my curiosity?

Mourning Finality

After the Bridges Are Burned

All my life, I heard “Don’t burn your bridges!” (Okay, so early on I actually heard “Don’t burn your britches!” . . . but I digress.) The idea, of course, is that you shouldn’t make decisions that don’t allow you to back up — to reverse your course if you are wrong.

Looking back on my life, I can see a lot of bad decisions and more than a few burned bridges. The decisions about education and career and those far too many cars I’ve bought through the years don’t seem to be scorched by a burned bridge. There were always alternative paths, ways to realign my life, after I made a poor choice.

The smoke still rises, however, from the bridges burned around relationships. I set a torch to some of those because it was “the principle of the matter.” I hoped by saying that that others would see me as noble.

In truth, in most cases, I did set a good boundary. I said “no” appropriately. I did the right thing. Until . . . I burned the bridge. And by doing that, I ended the possibility of future friendship. I destroyed the possibility of reconciliation.

So now, in moments where memories flow, I mourn the finality of burned bridges and quietly ponder rebuilding.