Friday, April 25, 2014

Now & Next

So I've been reading a lot of Raptitude lately.  That's probably why this post exists, and if D.C. has already written it, sorry! 

I struggle with when I am.  It's always my temptation to live in the Next thing, the next job, the next house, the next town, the next meal, etc.  Not that I necessarily act on making all of these nexts a reality - if I did I would be broke.  But they're often when my mind is.  It is rare, except in study, with my family (sometimes) or carpentry, for my mind to be Now. 

This may be viewed by the unreflective as forward-thinking, goal-oriented, a successful mindset.  Where are you going is always on the mind of the students I teach at university.  Kids, I've gone, and then when I was done going, I wasn't sure what I was doing, so I started going again.  In my life that looked like school, job, grad school, new job (where I am now - and must admit I wonder where I'm going next).

But if you think about it, it's actually terrible.  It means I'm almost never interested in what's in front of my face.  This is an awful way to live.  We are always NOW.  There will never be a time when I actually get to live in the Next, because it's categorically excluded from the Now.  All of my plans for what's Next must necessarily become a Now if they are to be realized, and what will I do then?

This is one of the things that has stalked me my whole life.  What happens when you get what you aimed at?  When you arrive at your destination?  When you finish the project/book/degree?  The only coping mechanism I have figured out is to find another goal and start running again. 

But this is not who I want to be.  It is not how I want to live with my family.  "Well, these little guys are great, but I wonder who the next kid will be?"  It's not how I want to live with my church family.  "Sure, those are great plans, I'm just not sure if I'll actually be in this time zone when you want to do them."  It's no way to save for financial independence.  "Well, the next job will pay better.  The next purchase will be better optimized.  The next lifestyle change will clinch it.  When I'm FI, I'll figure out how to enjoy the little things." 

We are only ever Now.  We intersect eternity and infinity at one spatiotemporal point.  What are we doing about it? 

Obsessing about the derivative of Now is irrelevant if we have no bloody idea what our initial condition is.  (This is for those who remember their basic calc and diff-eq.)

Of course, we are Now but moving towards Next, so it is right to plan, to think ahead, and to be wise in anticipating what may happen.  But when we lose sight of what to do now.  Here.  Today.  to accomplish what we aim at tomorrow, we are not building for the future.  We are imagining the future while squandering the present. 

So I am going to attempt to be more mindful of Now.  To focus on the job at hand.  When I plan, it should begin with Now, and work towards Next (instead of saying "What a nice Next that will be when the sweeping current of time takes me there!").

Now, back to business.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

More Things

Today, we cleaned out closets.  Mrs. & I spent about 30 minutes this morning pulling self-delusions out of the closet and putting them in a (large) box to go to the Salvation Army.  Now, the things we have are neater, more easily seen and accessed, and more likely to be used, which is, after all, the fulfillment of their purpose.

Today, I moved my office fridge.  I've mentioned this before.  It holds my veggies so I can have kickawesome and cheap work lunches.  Lots of people on my floor comment on my lunches.  None have ever replicated them.  Which leads to my point. 

My office fridge had been jammed in the footwell under my desk, next to my computer tower, leaving me with little legroom to my left, and blocking my ability to use my writing area effectively, restricting me to the keyboard/phone area of my desk.  Don't ask me why I set it up like this, I can't give a good answer.  Maybe I felt like I needed to keep my friends close and my vegetables closer.  In a locked office in a locked room in a locked building.  The janitors don't even clean our area, it's that locked (and kinda gross sometimes).  So yeah, maybe a little crazy hoarder mentality creeping in there. 

So I moved it.  It's now in the footwell of the unused desk next to mine.  It's never been occupied.  It won't ever be occupied (at least not while I'm on this team - we're not about to upstaff like crazy).  So why didn't I put it there in the first place?  Can't say, at least, can't give any logical reason.  So now I have legroom (I'm stretching as I write this, and my knee isn't hitting anything - huzzah!).

Why don't we just do the small things that we know are good? They're not hard.  We know we'll like the outcome.  They might take ten minutes (or in my case, 20 seconds).  But we don't.  We bump our knees on fridges and computers.  We eat expensive, microwaveable cardboard and cheez* meals.  We keep doing things we complain about instead of shutting up and thinking and acting and then being pleased with the result.  My salads and fridge-move don't make me a hero.  They damn me for their triviality by pointing to bigger failures.  Occasionally driving to work instead of biking.  Not having this house done yet.  Still having poor handwriting. Not using many of my things well, and still finding myself sometimes wanting more things I know I cant use well.

So let's do things.  Little things, at first, to help us get in the habit of making life better for ourselves, those around us, and ultimately, for the glory of God.  Because we are called to be stewards of our wealth, our time, our talents.  Not hoarders.  Not complainypants.  Not sloths or ingrates.  But men and women who think about how to behave well, to think well, and to speak well.

Well now, off to make a salad for lunch.

*It's not cheese, or even Cheez.  Just cheez.  As in "Oh cheez, man, stop doing that to yourself!"

Saturday, April 19, 2014


They cost money
They require space
Some of them require maintenance
Some are really useful
A few are fun over a prolonged period
Most are not
They can be lost, stolen, or degraded with time
They are irrelevant to your actual identity

So think twice before you buy them.  Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


An older Raptitude post here. Well worth a read.

I started this house project because I wanted to feel capable, accomplished, powerful over my environment. Buying a house is a terrible way to do those things, even absent any discussion of whether those things are not, in themselves, terrible.

Why do we want to feel capable?  To pretend to be independent.
Why do we want to be (or look) accomplished?  Pride.
Why to we want power over our environment?  Because we are scared by our finitude.

In all cases, pride.

This house project has been one of the most humbling things I have ever undertaken, because, I suppose, God knew my bad motives going in and is working to eradicate them.

It is never of him who wills or him who runs, but of God who bring the increase.

All that to say, we press on with the house project, but hopefully with a clear understanding of what it is and is not, and why we are doing it.  It will be a nice place for our family to live.  That's the feeling to follow, nothing more.

Also, by way of update, ceilings are skim-coated and primed, working on painting them.  Bathroom 2 should be tiled this Saturday.  That will make a big difference.  Again, I rely much on the help of friends from church, so I really should get over any idea that I am doing anything other than slowly building skills to be used to help others some day.