Wishing People Were Different

Do you ever find yourself wishing those in your life, the people you love to be different somehow?  Heck, it doesn’t have to be just people but our pets too.  Discontentment seems to be the way of humanity.  How often do we wish for our children to be just a little bit different, or our spouse?  We may not admit it to them or even ourselves, but in moments when we feel safe these thoughts may pop into our heads.

Why do we do this?  When we first got our dog, she rarely wagged her tail.  I admit I was disappointed.  I wanted her to be like other border collies I have known.  Over time this changed, and she is affectionate, but it took several months.  Instead of enjoying her completely I wished she was different. This is a benign example, but I feel aptly illustrates some of the thoughts we all struggle with. The truth is we do not know how long we have with the people and pets we love.  Changing others is impossible.  We can influence but never change.  Change must be a choice the other person makes.  Sometimes we may be integral to that choice, but that is it.

There is nothing wrong with wishing for someone to be better than they are, but the problem comes when we do not enjoy them as they are, especially if we claim to love that person.  This is something I struggle with.  Contentment doesn’t come easy for me.  So, don’t think I’m sitting on my high tower lecturing all you lowly readers.  If I’m being honest, I do this more often than I would like to admit.  It’s a painful reality of how all of humanity falls short.  No one is perfect.

What are we to do?  Well there is no magic cure.  However, we should remind ourselves that if the people in our lives die, the little things that we would change would not longer matter.  Let us enjoy those we love while we are with them, for who knows what tomorrow might bring?

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What Drives Your Writing?

Writing is challenging, getting people to care about what you wrote is more challenging.  There are many people who start out writing, become disappointed and get spit out of the grinder disillusioned, depressed, and feeling like they failed.  I know, that’s not an uplifting thought, but it is a reality.  Writing for a few months or even a few years and expecting millions of book sales or blog views is typically unrealistic.  If you are like me you chose to write not because it is easy, but it is what you were made to do.  You know that there may only acquire a few dozen fans, but you keep going because you must.  What drives you to write?

Anyone who says “I don’t care if anyone reads my stuff” is lying.  We writers what an audience, an actor doesn’t act for himself and a writer doesn’t write completely for himself either.  Yes, there is a component of finding fulfillment in what we do for the sake of doing it.  Writing for ourselves isn’t sustainable unless it’s a diary. If you are made to be a writer you will want an audience, even if that audience is small.  Those who do not know their drive and never acquire that audience are the ones who give up.

Now with that out of the way, I’m not saying people cannot enjoy writing a journal for themselves.  That is a hobby and is fulfilling and healthy.  My point is that if you have the calling, the drive, the making of a writer, then you will not be satisfied writing only for yourself for the rest of your life.  Finding the audience and keeping their interest is difficult and can be discouraging if you let it.  Besides understanding that you are called to write, know more of why you are writing.  Is it to bring hope?  Is it to entertain?  Is it to speak truth?

Knowing the details of what motivates you to write is important to stave off discouragement.  So why do you write? What would you like to achieve with your writing?

Twitter and Morals

In recent years there appears to be a great fear of angering the giant known as Twitter.  This giant can either be your greatest ally or a destructive force in your live by sending total strangers after you.  Have you blogged about something that might be controversial?  Is there a popular news story?  Twitter will find out and have an opinion.  Are you gaining some level of success?  Twitter may have an opinion.  Upsetting Twitter users is something that appears to become greatly feared.

If something happens to a celebrity in the news, headlines will read something like “Twitter outraged at_______” or “Twitter lashes out because_______.”  Twitter is often cited from news networks; some articles are largely comprised of angry tweets about a certain topic.

Facebook isn’t immune to this treatment, but Twitter outrage appears to be what news organizations cling to more often.  Why is this?  As a writer I find this fascinating.  Puritans are not typically seen in a positive light by modern Americans.  The cliched Puritan was stuffy, judgmental, and looking down his nose at everything and everyone.  The truth of that assumption isn’t the point; however I think there can be a comparison drawn between Puritans and modern social media outrage, particularly on Twitter.

There seems to be this longing for people to be accepted online, and with that the fear of rejection from fellow social media users.  This is especially true of younger generations.  Kids have been bullied mercilessly on Twitter and Facebook, and some do the unthinkable as a result.

Why is Twitter given so much authority in our lives and culture?  It is a place where thought-vomiting is known to happen, along with fake outrage.   I would guess many if not most people who type angry things think much about the topic after they wrote it and walked away.  If the person does care that much, he/she should be asked why.  Why do people feel safe to say awful things online, things they would never say in person?  Why is there so much weight given to a few angry people hiding behind computing devices?

Something we all need to understand is that Twitter isn’t real.  It can be useful and fun, but it isn’t real and shouldn’t be taken too seriously.  Unlike the real world, Twitter can be turned off, or deleted entirely.  Keeping a proper perspective is important.  This isn’t at all to diminish the experiences of those who suffered cyber bullying.  Instead of fearing some of the pearl-clutching Twitter users, why don’t we keep in mind that what these folks may say it doesn’t matter.  What do you think of this cultural phenomenon?  Do you agree that angry Twitter users are given too much credibility?  Do you feel like Twitter is too often given moral authority in American culture?

Goandria: The Schism

 

Goandria lies under the cruel rule of worlox demons. Emerging from an unknown realm, they claim large swaths of the northern territories for their own. The wizards, blessed with power from Voshnore, continue their fight against them with little success. Pushed back to the south, generation to generation, year by year, they labor in vain. Until now.

Not Equipped for Truth?

I have written a few blogs on the anger, division, and susceptibility we have as a culture to being offended.  Recently I had a thought that some people are not equipped to understand or know truth.  Am I saying not everyone is smart enough to get to the truth?  No.  I think it is highly probable that intelligence doesn’t play as much of a role as upbringing, tradition, ideology, and personal beliefs.

Humanity loves to think of itself as rational and intelligent.  That is true, but we are also emotional.  Not all truths are emotionally comfortable.  This applies to all belief systems.  I have written before that evidence alone doesn’t always sway people.  We must be discontent in the falsehoods we adhere to before we change our minds (typically.)

This doesn’t mean it is impossible to overcome this.  The truth is many people simply don’t or have further personality challenges which compound the issue.  Again, it isn’t impossible to see outside of our beliefs and empathize with another ideology/belief system.

I think it’s likely that many people don’t know how to see beyond their own perspectives.  If someone challenges what they think they know the immediate reaction is dismissal.  These are the types of people who are ill equipped to follow evidence and seek truth.  These are people guided almost completely by their emotions.  Thinking through their positions is secondary to how something feels.

I believe this is partially why there is so much division and anger in America.  Being a writer means paying attention to this stuff, and I feel like I’m late to the realization that not everyone is equipped for truth.  Not necessarily due to a deficiency but ultimately because of choice and emotion.  Every single one of us could learn how to empathize with other positions better.

The Unexplained: Stairs in the Woods

*The Unexplained is a weekly series documenting strange and unusual phenomenon that inspire my writing.

You are on a hike through the woods.  This isn’t the first time you walked through this forest.  Being in nature brings you peace and every morning you go for a five-mile hike along the various trails through the woodland.  This time you take one of the three main paths, and after the first couple miles you get an unexplained sense of dread.  You slow down and check your surroundings.  Teen feet away from the path to your left you see an immaculately kept staircase randomly in the forest.  You cautiously approach it. With each step your heart beats just a little bit harder.   You see the staircase clearly, but your mind had difficulty processing it.  You cannot believe that something like this could be here, especially since you have walked these woods before.  You pass it off as a building that has rotten away and only the stairs remain.  It is an oddity, but nothing paranormal.  When you try to return and show your friend the staircase it is gone.

This is similar to what some people claimed to have experienced.  Some people claimed to have climbed them and have strange feelings come over them.  The more extreme stories claim they experience time slips after ascending one of these staircases.  Personal accounts range from benign and uneventful to extreme.  There are also photos of these alleged random staircases that are found on the internet, particularly on Reddit.

stairs.png

One story person’s story featured on the “Let’s Read” YouTube channel, claims to have found and climbed one of these staircases and ended up transported back in time.  To his amazement he ended up near the house he owned, but when he went inside something was off.  The storyteller claims the things inside were not his and there was a different family living there. The homeowner confronted him, mistaking him for a robber before the storyteller fled.  He claims at the end of his tale that the man was the same one who sold him the home, only younger.  In order to return to his own time, the writer said he had to ascend the staircase again.  He swears it to be true whether or not other people’s tales are true.

stair in the woods

What are these staircases?  Are they made up stories that accompany ordinary stairs in the woods?  Is there an otherworldly component to them?  Finding random stairs that lead to nowhere would be off-putting, no matter what their origin.

According to the first person known to write about this phenomenon, he is a park ranger and was told coming across random staircases was common.  As skeptics have rightly pointed out, the origin for staircase in the woods phenomenon is in a section of Reddit for fictional stories.  However, the legend has expanded to folks seemingly wholeheartedly believing they came across real staircases with paranormal connections.

What do you think of it?  Fact or fiction it is an interesting and inspiring phenomenon, nonetheless.  Have you saw random stairs that lead to nowhere in the woods?

 

References:

https://www.mamamia.com.au/abandoned-staircases-in-national-forests/

https://slappedham.com/stairs-woods-phenomenon/

Exploring “Good”

Good verses evil is the common conflict in fantasy.  There is a good reason for that, it allows for the stakes to be high.  Good verses evil is also a conflict we can relate to in many small-scale ways in life.  Before I have written about evil and if we would recognize it.  This time I would like to focus on good.  The same question I asked about evil I raise with good, how adept are we at detecting it?

Humanity is excellent at justifying its actions from calling certain lies “white” all the way to the worst people explaining away their atrocities in history.  We all do this to varying degrees.  I have.  You have too.  It isn’t right but it is reality.  Sometimes we lack self-awareness and become hardly critical of others while being blind to our own short comings.  Inevitably as a result our understanding of good becomes murky.

Combine the above situation with ideology and people in power trying to shape opinions in order to gain votes, both good and evil become gray in areas they shouldn’t.  I’m not a moral relativist, but do accept that there are certain degrees of wiggle room for morality.  This means the moral may be that killing another human is wrong, but the wiggle room might be defending one’s self, family, or nation from those who would do harm.

Good may not always be easy to see.  We have the frailty of our ideologies, what we’ve been told, and our emotions.  You may say, “good isn’t that hard to see!” In many cases I would agree and say that is true.  However, with our current political climate fostering two distinct and incompatible views of good, to me it becomes evident how easily we can be deceived by outside and internal forces.

How do we guard against deception and developing a warped view of good?  Understanding the limitations of our ideologies, politics, and bias is a good start. If we can see outside of ourselves and personal worldview, we can start to see things more clearly.

Toxic People

Relationships interest me and are obviously a source for writing. One of the marks of growing up is realizing we don’t have to continue to have toxic people in our lives.  When we are in school and college, we have to deal with these types of people daily due to being shoved in a classroom with them.  Sometimes we “befriend” them out of survival and subsequently allow them to influence us.  When we are young, we don’t always know what a quality friend looks like.  Sometimes though, a toxic person cannot be so easily removed from our lives, particularly if it’s a family member.

Coworkers we can deal with while we are on the job, but we don’t have to invite them into our personal lives, while there are frustrating people we may work with, we can leave them at work.  We might invite someone into our lives and by the time we wise up to his/her toxicity it becomes challenging to remove that person.  Family is often the elephant in the room when it comes to this conversation.  Just so I’m clear I’m not writing this as a passive/aggressive jab at anyone in my family.  It is me observing a truth, family members are inevitably a part of our lives.  Sure, families cut members out of their lives, but that isn’t typically the best thing (save for extreme circumstances.)

Sometimes you may not desire a relationship with someone but what of your child?  If you don’t get along with a family member, but your child does and gains a lot from that relationship maybe it’s best to leave it alone.  It’s easy to say but we need to continually remind ourselves that we cannot control other people.  The only control we have is over ourselves.  If someone is toxic to us but not to our spouse or children, perhaps it is best we work on our reaction so those we love can continue to have a relationship with that person.

Sometimes we can distance ourselves from the toxic influence of the person in question, but not eliminate their presence.  This is the difficulty of toxic family members.  In reality it is a case by case situation and wisdom must be applied.  If the person’s toxicity is too much then it might be time to confront them about it, especially if they are family.  If it’s your spouse’s family that can make confrontation tricky.  That might be an instance where we have to bite our tongue and work on how we respond.

How have you dealt with toxic people in your life?  Have you left them on the wayside, family or not, and never looked back?  Have you continued to let people walk on you out of fear of how they may react?  If you are a writer, how have these situations inspired you?

Graduating From My Twenties

In January I left my twenties behind.  As I reflect on the past decade I would like to share five things I learned during that time.

1.Getting married young isn’t bad for everyone.

I say this with trepidation because many people who are young are unwise and passionate which can cloud judgement.  When I met my wife, we both knew we were meant to be.  We couldn’t explain it to other people, we knew.  We got married young, I was 20 and she was 21, and we have a wonderful marriage. However, when we reflect back on the first year especially it was difficult.  I was immature and jealous, she was uncertain of herself and ultimately, we were both still growing.  We worked through many things and became stronger.  That isn’t to say our marriage was ever rocky or in jeopardy, but as with all people we had our own issues to overcome.  I wouldn’t recommend getting married at a young age for everyone, statistically there are more chances of relationships falling apart in a person’s twenties.  However, it can and will work if you make the choice to love one another daily.  Love is an action not just a fuzzy feeling inside.

2.College should be entered with more thought and wisdom.

What schools and society will tell high school students is  if they want a job that will produce a livable wage they need to go to college.  A four-year degree is typically what’s encouraged, no trade schools or learning skills before entering college.  I was told my senior year that we shouldn’t take a break between high school and college because the odds of us going back to school is reduced significantly.  Many kids at that age don’t know what they are going to be, and that’s fine and normal.  The harsh reality is that many jobs will not hire just because you have a four-year degree.  You need experience too, in fact in many jobs experience is more important.  My wife is successful as a manager and her degree had no bearing on her getting hired.  This is true of any of her jobs leading up to her current position.  I have a degree as well and found it to be incredibly difficult to find a job with it, especially since I have been a stay-at-home father for years.  Therefore, I followed my passion and went the entrepreneurial route.  Despite this we still went to college and still have crushing debt as a result.  I will most likely be paying for my loans for many more years to come if not indefinitely. I intellectually knew when I was 18 that I would have to pay back the loans, but I didn’t emotionally process what that reality looked like until they came due.  There is nothing wrong with college, but take it from someone who has been there, going to college just for the sake of it may do more harm than good financially.  I feel strongly that people should either have a clear goal of where they want to be (a doctor for example) or gain real-world work experience before going to college.

3. My generation was mistakenly discouraged from factory work.

Have you heard older generations or characters on TV say, “oh you don’t want to work in a factory or flip burgers the rest of your life!”  The truth is many people who go to college will end up doing just that anyway once they graduate, or work retail.  When I graduated that was the case of many of my peers, or they took low-level security jobs that paid the same as working at Target.  Factory work isn’t all the same, some of it isn’t great, but not all.  My wife works in a factory and as I mentioned above, she found great success.  I am very proud of the career she has accomplished.  I encourage people in their twenties to think outside the box when it comes to employment and also accept that factory, restaurant, and retail jobs are not bad places to start or even make a long-term career out of depending on the opportunities.  Which leads me to my final point…

4. You cannot expect to start anywhere but the bottom.

I have spent the last four years building my writing business.  That included many mistakes and a relaunch of my blog in October.  Those recently out of college sometimes have the idea that since they obtained a degree, they will be hired in at least mid-level positions.  This is very seldomly true though.  Like I already mentioned, experience is key.  Gaining experience almost always means starting at the bottom, even if you are creating your own business.  You won’t have thousands of customers right off the bad or thousands of followers on your blog.  That’s okay though!  That is normal and it’s all a part of the growing experience. Embrace your dreams!  Go after them.  I am.  However, you need to know that it will be hard and you may have to do things that take you in a completely different direction.  That means starting at the bottom.  Do you have a business management degree?  Well you might have to work as a stock person at Wal-Mart for a year and apply for a low-level manager position when the opportunity arises and you’ve proven to show ambition and aptitude for the job.

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