Saturday, June 30, 2012

Heavy-hearted. . .

My friend Jim used to come over to our house in Maine every Tuesday morning.  We'd have coffee, sit on the bench overlooking the brook and chat just as the sun was coming up.  We talked about being men, being married, being christians, and everything else.  I wish it could've been every day.  His conversations and advice gave me so much confidence, courage and comfort.  He seemed to think that I was perfect!  

He passed away last Friday afternoon.  He was 67.  

See you soon, Jim.  I love you.




Saturday, June 23, 2012

On the GOP and Jesus

"I felt so far from my upbringing, from my narrow former self, the me who was taught the Republicans give a crap about the cause of Christ.  I felt a long way from the pre-me, the pawn-Christian who was a Republican because my family was Republican, not because I had prayed and asked God to enlighten me about issues concerning the entire world rather than just America."

From Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller

Sometimes, when reading Blue Like Jazz, I feel like I'm reading a biography of my own life.  I, too, grew up thinking that everyone who loved Jesus had to be a Republican.  I grew up thinking that Jesus hated government and taxes.  I grew up thinking what everyone around me was telling me to think.

One winter, I was spending a weekend with my grandfather in New Hampshire.  It was a nice break.  At that time, I was going to school at one of Boston's sixty-odd universities.  One of grandpa's friends came by and greeted me, "Why aren't you down in Massachusetts learning how to be a democrat?"

"You, shut up," Grandpa retorted.  "We're trying to keep him from that!"  That was a critical moment in my introspection.  I began asking myself what I really thought and valued. . . or, rather, if I thought and valued anything for myself.

Funny thing is, I considered myself a Republican all through my days in Boston.  I don't anymore.  I don't really consider myself a Democrat, either.  Maybe I am, and my history just won't let me admit it.

What changed?

Well, I read the Bible.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Real love and the real New York

(This post is continued from Vegas baby!)

Real love is like the real New York: Manhattan is messy.  I mean, not buried in dirt, but not pristine, either.  Paris is the same way.  Cairo is probably similar, but I haven't been there!

New York also has some great stuff: those vendors selling delicious hot dogs on nearly every corner with the sauerkraut on them.  They have Garrett's popcorn, Central Park, cabs, crowds, Broadway, Times' Square.  Real love is like the real New York: sometimes, the mess is part of the experience.  The fake stuff doesn't cut it.

It struck me that Vegas has done the same thing with love that they've done with New York.  In Vegas, there are the places that claim to offer a sensual atmosphere, but it's just another facade.  The ads almost look like something real.  Something we want.  But they're not. They're just fakes.  It almost looks better than the real thing--picture perfect.

Trouble is, as I see it, there's this part of the sensual stuff that can't be faked: my emotion.  The excitement is real.  Even if I recognize the sensual ad for the bogus thing it is, the incited emotion is real.  I've heard it said, "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas."  But, does it?  You leave the ad, the show, the you-name-the-indulgence, but you take something with you.

Baggage.

Anger.  Bitterness.  The result of a person who has made emotional investments and ended up underwater.  And, what's worse?  It doesn't feel like it's really directed at anyone or any event.  How do you resolve that?

I think lust is like unrequited love.  There's a real excitement involved.  An emotional investment made.  The only problem is that the rate of return is guaranteed to be zero.  The emotional deficit that follows is destructive.

Lots of men struggle with lust and lots of men struggle with anger management.  Perhaps these are connected.  Perhaps the cause of the anger problems is related to unresolved baggage--underwater investments--in an emotional sense.  Perhaps, it's time for us to break up with our beloved facades.

Real love is like the real New York.  Sometimes, it's messy.  It's not always like a fantasy but, that's the best part.  Unlike a fantasy, real love can love you back.

I have a great suggestion for reading on the subject.  The book is an easy read.  Check out my post on the book Sex God by Rob Bell.   

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Random acts of giving



One of my favorite annual events starts today!

It's the semi-annual sale at Bath and Body Works--yes, I said 'annual' event because the sale in December is not nearly as good!

Mrs O loves their stuff!  I like to stock up on these things in June.  I stash them and give them at random times throughout the year.  It makes giving spontaneous gifts easier, because all I have to do is go to my stash!

Practicing random gift giving has proven helpful for me in many ways.  I learned early on, to value the big days like Valentine's Day, our Anniversary, and Mrs O's birthday.  I don't want to guess how my gift will make Mrs O feel.  I want to KNOW that she will feel priceless.

Learning to give those gifts can be stressful.

Did I get the right thing?

What's she going to say?

After an anniversary, one co-worker once told me, "I've got a lot of making-up to do next year."

My solution was to give little gifts at random, unexpected times.  When Mrs O isn't expecting a gift, ANY gift exceeds her expectations.  I have learned a lot about how she works based on her responses.  I have learned that she likes tulips more than roses, she uses bubble bath more than lotion and a few minutes of quite bath-time solitude are more precious than pearls!

Knowing these things makes gift giving all the easier, no matter the occasion.

(By the way, I am not affiliated with Bath and Body Works, except as a regular customer.  No one asked me to say any of this, I just really mean it.  I make no money from Bath and Body Works, whatsoever.  As a matter of fact, quite the contrary!)

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Vegas, baby!


New York-New York Hotel, Las Vegas, NV


Have you seen the movie, "The Holiday?"  Right at the beginning, you hear a monologue on love from one of the main characters, Iris.  She talks about love lost, faded love, love being found, and she proclaims to be an expert on one other kind:

Unrequited love.

You know. . .

Love offered, but not reciprocated.

Depressing.

Iris can't seem to shake her infatuation with a man who doesn't love her back.

New York-New York reminded me of this movie. . . or was it the Sphinx?  I took a shuttle down Las Vegas Boulevard one evening for dinner.  I had to take a shuttle as I was in Vegas for training and not staying on 'The Strip.'  I was gazing at the Sphinx, New York, the Eiffel Tower, and all without moving except to pivot in place.

How cool to be able to see all of these things in one spot!  Driving by the Sphinx, it was so neat and tidy.  I mean, it had a nose!  There were other replicas of ancient objects with hieroglyphs on them.  The detail was great!  Everything was sharp and clean.

Pristine.

New York was the same way.  I didn't make it all the way to Paris, but I presume I would have found it comparable.  Everything is luxurious: valets and limos, huge rooms and marble lobbies, waterfalls and palm trees--indoors--and the list goes on.

It's almost better than the real thing!

Except. . .

. . . it's not the real thing.

(to be continued. . . read more)