Saturday, March 15, 2008

your epic life, part ii

I have come to the realization that the last post could use some expanding. That, and I feel like I’m going to explode if I don’t get some of these thoughts out of my head!


You can always be who you are in any situation.

That could mean anything. Stand up and fight. Run away in terror. Laugh. Listen. Stomp your feet. Cry out in anger, or in agony. Show undeserved kindness. Crack a joke. Put your hands in your pockets. Any human expression could be you.

Being you is not always taking the path of least resistance. Just because it feels like you doesn’t mean it is you.

Being who you are is telling the truth.

Life is not a gameshow. If there is no good answer to the question the moment is asking you, you don’t have to answer before the clock runs out. But you can always tell the truth. You can always be yourself. But I repeat myself. If someone is asking you a question that you are not the answer for you don’t have to make one up.

No one else can tell you who you are. Except God. And He hasn’t written it down anywhere. Except on your heart.

Reading God’s writing, the kind on the heart, is not like reading a book. It is much less explicit and cannot be grasped in a single reading. The writing takes form over time. It’s like invisible ink coming into focus. And the focus is not in the form of sentences. It is as if a question were roared in the halls of antiquity, and God said, “To answer that I am whispering a story.”

You can always be who you are where you are.

Changing careers won’t help. Changing churches won’t help. Changing friends won’t help. Changing spouses won’t help.

When you be, some things will go well for you, and some things won’t. This is the epic adventure.

In an epic adventure, the character sets out on a journey. He overcomes foes. He sustains losses. When things go well he presses on. When things go foul he presses on. The journey is over when he returns home, tells his story, and sees what everyone thinks about it. That’s when it’s over. When he goes back home. When he tells everyone and sees what they think about it. He’s no longer living the adventure at that point. He’s no longer living his life. He’s talking about the life that’s over. When he goes back.

Who you are cannot be expressed in a moment. It takes an entire story to express. This is because you don’t start perfect. You’re being perfected. You’re not finished. But I repeat myself.

The path of perfection starts at yourself. It ends at your tombstone. The hope of perfection is not that you get there and enjoy the rest of your time on earth in a perfected state. The hope is that when someone reads the last word and closes the lid they will say, “That was a good story.”

Being perfected means being finished. Nothing else. There is no remedy for imperfection but continuation. None.

And repentance? Repentance is getting back to being yourself. It is getting back to telling the truth. But I repeat myself again.

You will not become yourself by working on yourself.

Every action you take has consequences. Being yourself is not your defense. It is your charge.

The adventure you are on, your epic life, is not just for you. It is your contribution to the larger story, the larger answer. It is an offering you present that says, “This also is who God is.”

You cannot start the journey, cannot live an epic life, cannot be a good story, until you have an inkling of who you are.

You are not your personality. You are not a collection of wounds and wins. What you are is one thing. It is like the introduction in Spanish: “¿Como se llama? Me llamo _____,” which translates, “How are you called? I am called _____.” You are called. What you are is what God calls you. It is not what you call yourself. It is not what someone else calls you. You are called something. Life begins there. And more importantly, life finishes there.

Who can give a man this, his own name? God alone. For no one but God sees what the man is… It is the blossom, the perfection, the completeness, that determines the name: and God foresees that from the first because He made it so…
George MacDonald

It is not easy to be yourself. There are many diversions and temptations to be someone else, and many counterfeits are offered.

The easy thing is to be yourself. But this is a privilege only offered to those believing God is telling the truth and deciding that they will, too. There will be all kinds of things, good and bad, pleasure and pain, that you will get to enjoy and suffer when you give up on being someone else, when you give up trying to be a you that you read about somewhere besides on your own heart—whether in a book or on the faces of others or from a painful chapter early in your story.

The most epic adventure of your life comes when you simply be yourself.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

your epic life

The most epic adventure of your life comes when you simply be yourself.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

why the next computer i buy will be an apple

In the olden days, apple computer made a big mistake. They didn't embrace open standards--standards like ISA. They didn't open their hardware to communicate with many different devices from many manufacturers, all of which required an installation which was basically this: crack the case, seat the card into an available slot, configure the IRQ, memory address, and port for each device, and install special drivers. All us techies prided ourselves in figuring out how to come up with different configurations that allowed us to install lots of different stuff from different manufacturers in our PC's. Those days were great. Those days are over.

At the time apple's strategy was to take care of their customer by giving them limited options, but options that worked. How many apple users have I known to say, "Apple. It just works." I think that must have been one of their marketing messages. It was a bad strategy at the time. Bad in the sense of the apple community and platform was dwarfed by the PC community and platform, which wowed consumers with the dizzying array of cheap options.

But everything is different now.

I have spent most of the day on several phone calls with Lenovo tech support for trouble with my Thinkpad. I spent close to $3000 USD on this laptop about a year ago, which included the highest level of warranty possible with next day on-site repairs. Most of our conversations included one burst of fury from me when the tech suggested that the only thing the warranty covered was hardware problems, or that the best advice he had for me was to erase the hard drive and reinstall from the factory CD's (and he recommended that I back up all my files first. Thanks.).

In short the issue I am having is that the wireless network quit working all of the sudden. The first tech had me remove the IBM/Lenovo software that controlled the wireless and just use the Windows XP software, which did get me back connected to the internet, but left several issues unresolved. To start with, I liked the IBM/Lenovo software. I could configure all the wireless networks I connect to (a lot since I frequent coffee shops and hotels). And it was the only way this particular wireless adapter could connect to my super-fast 802.11N router at home. But worse than this is that I cannot press the hot key and enable/disable the wireless (something American Airlines frowns on) and cannot do a Repair (which if you run Windows and connect to many different networks, you know is something that keeps you from rebooting all the time and is the only way to resolve some routing and DNS caching issues). And it's just gotten progressively worse the more I follow their suggestions on fixing it. Eventually I will (apart from them) stumble across something that fixes it, and they will never hear back from me. I could call them and tell them what it was that fixed it, but they wouldn't care or know what to do with that information.

This is just symptomatic of the shift that has happened.

Lenovo tells me that only the hardware is covered. If I want them to transfer me over to the software team then it's going to be a $50 minimum charge for them to open a ticket. I'm sure that Lenovo has contracted out these guys and told them that they get points for not having to send a tech out with new parts, and to make the customer prove that it's a hardware issue or else send them to the software team to remove some more ca$h from their customers' pockets. And this, too, is symptomatic of the shift.

In a world where everyone is specializing and outsourcing, in a world where measurable metrics are put in place for each department and division, in a world that is increasingly dehumanized, why is anyone surprised that the world is disintegrated? Why is anyone surprised at being transferred 5 or 10 times to different parts of the world? Why is anyone surprised at extensive navigation through computerized phone menus? Why is anyone surprised that there is no more respect for customers anymore?

If I called apple with a problem, every person I talked to would know how to spell 802.11N, and someone I talked to would know how to get my network card back up. They wouldn't tell me that they only cover hardware. They recognize, like all of us now do, that there is no such thing as just hardware. Every piece of hardware has to have software that makes it play with the rest of the world. And they recognize that I don't buy a computer for the opportunity to negotiate with several groups of people who don't want to take responsibility for the problem someone else created and I paid for. Apple works.

I want to live in a world that is integrated. I want to be integrated. I am an apple.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

new life

I wonder if the journey towards new life doesn't begin with death: an ending, a letting go, a breakage or even a disillusionment. New life emerges when a capacity to receive something is created. Sometimes we make the room, but most of the time the space is made for us, whether we agree to it or not.

Expectations in my life most often provide opportunities for death. The person didn't measure up, I was disappointed, my illusions shattered, dreams broken, hopes dashed, and I am left frustrated and resentful. I am also left with an opportunity. Do I allow these emotions to grip and control my life, so I have no room for the newness? Or am I being invited to choose life anew, to let go of my expectations and answer life's beckoning call?

Keith Reynolds

Now darkness has a hunger that's insatiable
And lightness has a call that's hard to hear
I wrap my fear around me like a blanket
I sailed my ship of safety till I sank it
I'm crawling on your shores

Indigo Girls