Saturday, June 04, 2011

Doing a New Thing

For awhile, at least, I expect this blog may lie dormant. But, as was hinted at in the past couple of entries, I'm doing a new thing over here, and I hope you'll check it out. (Hint: by it's very nature, it will require much more frequent posting than I've managed here at The Second Guess!)

Until... the next time, then - cheers!


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Waking Dream

I do not have trouble sleeping. Bedtime is my favorite time. Even in periods of high stress or tension, sleep comes easily - often even more so, since my body seems to treat sleep as a sort of opportunity to escape from the day's difficulties. On almost any given night, seven minutes is about all Mr. Sandman needs to put me under.

Then there was last night. Granted, I had unintentionally napped earlier the evening (see?). But even so, I was surprised to find myself completely restless. At midnight, I finally got up and pulled out the computer to compose the previous blog entry. But that was only the starting point.

Next up, nearly two hours of singing along with my guitar. Mostly old songs I hadn't played in years. By about 3 am, I figured sleep would come any minute.

But it didn't. My mind was simply working overtime last night. Thinking about re-centering a lot of my activity around my life mission - "acts of hope & reconciliation" - had stirred up some exciting new possibilities. I was plotting and planning, conceiving ideas and charting various courses to live into this purpose. It was kind of exciting - I hadn't had a good waking dream session like this in awhile. At least not about how I want to make a positive contribution to the world.

There are stories I want to write - maybe even a few songs, too. There are people I want to pursue, to invite into conversation, to better understand. There are languages I want to master - ASL has been a back burner priority for too long, and I very much want to reclaim my proficiency in French.

A few months ago, Donald Miller brought to his readers' attention a really fantastic resource by Michael Hyatt about creating your personal life plan. I'm going to be going through this book & process for the next few weeks. I think it will be a great way to really focus my energies and resources on the things that matter to me. Maybe one or two folks will join me in the process...

At any rate, my excitement about the next season is still building. I'm eager to put the action in my mission of "acts of hope & reconciliation." After a good night's rest, of course.

Monday, May 09, 2011

One Year Later

my Scrabble cake from one year ago
I did it. I went a whole year without posting an update.

No fresh thoughts. No inspiring words. (Some might argue it's been longer than a year since that happened, anyway.) No lists of three things. Just a year of silence.

Of course, I didn't actually set a goal of not writing so much as a "Hello, world" for a full year. These sorts of things just seem to happen, and you realize at month 3, month 7, month 10, that you are neglecting something important. Not so much a blog, but certainly the passion that once fueled your writing it.

On my end, the year has been anything but quiet. In fact, the past 12 months have probably contained more dramatic, significant change than any other period in my life, which is kind of a dramatic thing to say in and of itself, but it's true. I don't intend to "recap" my year; the changes are evident to folks who know me well, and for the meager audience this blog may still have, well, I expect the changes will surface soon enough as I continue writing.

And that's really the one and only point of posting this update: to write. It's time for me to get back in the game. Back to where my heart lies, what I'm passionate about. A year later, it's comforting to me to recognize that the life purpose I scripted for myself during 2009 & 2010 remains the same: to live out acts of hope and reconciliation. Above all else, I am drawn this this calling.

Writing a blog is just one way I can activate that purpose. But when I write, I'm motivated to live as well. To act. To be the person I write about.

I have a good story to tell - a really good story, with a character you will understand and recognize. He's both confident and conflicted, compelled and cautious, provoked and paralyzed. He wants to make things better, and even though he struggles with an overwhelming devotion to self-first, he is a person of principle. He is simply on his way, in process. Celebrating small gains while undergoing the hard work of not only learning from, but living differently in the aftermath of his mistakes. He strives to connect. He hopes to be a source of hope to others. He fights to be meek.

That character I'm writing about is also the man I want to be. Let's see where the next year takes us.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

The Quiet Life

Honestly? Some days it's really tempting to go the quiet, easy route. Move to Portland or Denver, build a small life doing the things I love with a few people I can trust. Stop troubling over "the state of things" and just enjoy being where I am while I'm here.

I know others are tempted by that idea, too. I think Moses would have been content with his sheep in the desert, never having come across a burning bush. Ms. Parks could have chosen to sit on the back of the bus and gone home to her family that day. The NYC firefighters, police, and civilians pulling people from the rubble didn't have to respond on September 11.

No way am I trying to infer that my efforts are even half as heroic as any of those. In fact, that's part of the temptation... Do people really want what I have to offer? Does anyone really need to take on the mantle for reconciliation between Christians and gay people in San Diego? Couldn't I just let it all play out, or let someone else step up?

For whatever reason - maybe for no other reason than being inspired by the Rosa Parks of the world - I feel compelled to play a role in this production. I don't even fully know what or who my character is, but I'm drawn into the story, and my heart senses a purpose in it all.

Still - on days like today, when I can really touch the tension, feel it firsthand, sense the straining in my dear friendships... I'm tempted to consider the quiet life. The life that doesn't ask for sacrifice, doesn't require me to learn meekness, doesn't expect I would put aside my own self for the benefit of others.

The quiet life is also the selfish life. I know that.

The most inspiring reason of all is still that man on the cross - the one whose meekness, sacrifice, and selflessness make the difference for me. His is still the life I want to model as I live my own. On days like today, my only prayer can be...

Lord, spare me the quiet life... but give me endurance for the alternative.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Being Meek Where It Matters

If you've poked around the new Second Guess website at all, you might have noticed a tendency to encourage humility & meekness in some of the language I've chosen. That isn't, of course, an accident. I'm a big believer in (and practitioner-in-training of) meekness.

Being meek isn't exactly my natural, default state. Really, is it anyone's? Merriam-Webster defines meek as "enduring injury with patience and without resentment." I wasn't being very meek in the privacy of my car when I got cut off this morning. (I did say I was a practitioner-in-training).

It's not very American to be meek. Toby Keith, for instance, is a fearless opponent of meekness, as demonstrated in his anthem "Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue:"
We'll put a boot in your a**
It's the American way
I've never been to a Toby Keith concert, but I imagine him singing this line to thousands of excited fans whose cheers get a little bit louder at these words.

There is a whole lot of discussion to be had about standing up for yourself, what basic "inalienable rights" are, and what happens when we need to fight for them. We'll be having that discussion ongoing - but I will always push back with this question:

How might an infusion of meekness make this situation better?

For instance, you might have come across the news story yesterday of the Christian Legal Society at the UC Hastings School of Law in San Francisco, which is suing the University for formal recognition of its status as a student group with school funding & benefits. The sticking point is the group's statement of faith, which members are required to sign and which excludes practicing LGBT people (and a whole host of other folks) from joining the group. The University called this discrimination and refused to grant the CLS official student group status.

The whole thing actually began back in 2004. Six years and multiple appeals later, the fight over rights and freedoms and discrimination carries on. The main issues we focus on are, naturally, whether student groups should be able to receive public money when they exclude certain groups of people; whether excluding people on the basis of belief is true discrimination; and whether first amendment rights are at stake if people are forced to associate with others in their student group who don't share their beliefs.

There are a lot of great things to talk about in there. The unfortunate thing, at least as I see it, is that we're not just talking about these things - we're suing, fighting, and perpetuating a culture war in all of it. We've gone a long way down the road and dropped any semblance of meekness by the wayside at the very beginning.

So I ask... how might an infusion of meekness make this situation better?

I can imagine a few ways. What about you?