A Series of Random Thoughts

Fork In The Road

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There’s a lot going on in my life right now. That’s not to downplay events going on in other people’s lives, of course. Just a statement from me about my own personal experiences. My family, too, has stuff and things going on because, well, we’re all in the same boat. It isn’t anything horrible or life threatening, but there are events transpiring that we could do without. As a result of these events, my wife has taken on some extra duties, I’ve picked up some significant overtime at work (while it’s available), and our kids are hanging in there while we chug along. Our oldest son is back to school (home school, that is), a sixth grader this year. Our youngest is ransacking the house and taking advantage of being the youngest.

On a more personal level, pulling back and being selfish for a moment, I’d like to talk about myself. I say selfish, but, hey, it’s my blog, darn it! :) I kid! I kid …

I think it was already well in play when I mentioned a post or two back about “that other guy,” and going in to work and finally having had enough. I met my former self that day for the first time in some years. Didn’t like the guy, as you already know from that particular post. But that wasn’t the end of my moment, I’ll call it. Since that Friday, I’ve been in a sort of mood mixture. A bit of depression/anxiety/meditation/prayer/reflection. I’ve just been flipping through a bunch of different thoughts and emotions and trying to work out what I’m suppose to be doing in life.

We won’t call it a mid-life crisis, since I’m only 39. I’d prefer to call it, reaching the fork in the road.

I’ll be 40 next month. No, I’m not the first or last person to hit The Big 4-0, but at my current point in life, it seems like a gigantic milestone. A milestone that I’m not really looking forward to. This blog hasn’t really helped me accept it, either. I look back at all the potentially life-changing blog posts I’ve written about life, weight loss, broadening my horizons, and I realize how I’ve come up short on all of those things. That’s not to say I’m not proud of other aspects of my life, not at all! I have two awesome kids, a good job (that has a questionable future), and a wife that has stuck with me through thick and thin – though we may have other issues that need to be ironed out. In other words, It isn’t anything in my “outside” world that is causing me to pause in reflection. It’s the “inside” of my world that’s causing me to falter a bit and wonder where I misstepped.

In all truthfulness, I took the wrong steps by being dismissive and lazy. I wrote strong worded posts but then ignored them and stuffed my face with the closes back of Nacho Cheese Doritos. They were tasty, but they’re not something I want to carry into my 40’s with. So, here I am with this blog post. At a fork in the road with two paths to choose from. On the right, I have the same road I’ve been on. It’s a continuation of Lazy Lane, and it’ll continue to carry me on to the same end results. But, over on the left, we have Rocky Road, which has the potential to take the long way around and make me arrive in a better place, but with more work, sweat, blood and tears.

The answer is obvious, of course. Who in their right mind would take Lazy Lane, right? No sane person is going to write a blog post about how they want to continue failing on a personal level, gaining weight to equal a VW Beetle and ending their life in a fast food induced heart attack. That’d be stupid. No, it’d be worse. It would be akin to suicide, I think. So the correct answer has always been Rocky Road. Right?

I know what you’re saying: “But, James, you’ve pleaded this case hundreds of times before and never done anything about it. You lazy !@#$%%!@#$.” And you’re right! No denying the truth, it’s all here in black and white, categorized by day, month and year. So what makes this any more special than the other 15 dozen posts about change?

Nothing, really.

Just that I’ve reached that fork and have no where else to go. I either succeed or fail. I’ve already reached an emotional point of no return, a physical point of morbid failure, and a spiritually broken wheel that can’t stand another turn without fear of breaking the axle. So, there it is. Here it is. Here I am.

Once more, unto the breach.

  • J

That Other Guy

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A year or so back, I made a series of blog posts about how I’d like to get my groove back. As usual, nothing came of those posts, other than wishful thinking. It’s not that I didn’t want the groove, it was just that I was a) busy with life, and b) too lazy to do anything about it. In case you’ve forgotten, the groove I’m referring to is that attitude you achieve when everything is perfect. Not everything in your life, but with you. Your walk, your confidence, your attitude, your dealings with other people, and above all else, the way you carry yourself with all of that mushed together inside. It’s your groove, do what you want to do.

This last Friday, I hit that stride, achieved that groove I’ve been wanting to return to. But here’s the thing – I realized that to hit that particular groove I’ve been missing, was to revert back to something I no longer was. Maybe that was a simple thing for you guys to understand just in reading, but for me, I was taken aback. I was thinking all this time about the feeling I had while carrying myself with that groove perfection, but I never stopped to really look around at my life at that point in time that I had it. To be perfectly honest, the guy I used to be was kind of an asshole – pardon my language – and Friday, that’s what I was, too.

It just wasn’t a really good day Friday, and evidently everything fell right into place to trigger that attitude I’d been missing. I would talk, people would listen. I would walk, they’d move out of the way. I would say, they’d do. I was angry, hateful, mean and blunt to the point of either hurting relationships or losing them. So after a year or more of searching for the right switch to flip to reactivate that dormant personality, I finally found it. But it was no longer me there.

As with the majority of us, we age and grow and become adults with responsibilities and families and jobs that require our attention and time. Blood, sweat, tears – all that jazz. We have to adjust and reevaluate factors in our lives. I guess as I aged and grew and moved on, there just wasn’t room for that butthead I used to be to come with me. I had to leave him and his groove behind. In the past. Gone, but not forgotten. So … what do I do now?

I suppose the answer to my own question is to stop living in the past. It’s done and over with. Can’t go back to it, probably wouldn’t want to, to be honest. But I – we – have the whole future before us. The present all around us. Family, friends, coworkers, etc, are all here in the now and looking at us. We can decide what they see, and I don’t want them to see that other guy again, after meeting him all these years later myself. I want them to see someone better, that’s learned a thing or two. I want them to see the new groove. Hell, I’d like to see the new groove myself!

The other guy is gone. My job now is to create my own groove. A new groove that’s a cleaner, more smooth and upgraded groove compared to the original prototype. My job is to take the sass-talking jerk and reverse engineer that sucker so I can build something new and more suitable for my current situation. But above all else, I have to remember what it is that I don’t want in it so that part can be left in the trash where it belongs.

Just because we hit a rut in the road of life doesn’t mean we should revert back to what we used to think was working for us. Truth is, the past is there to learn from and build upon, no go back to and live in. With that said, here’s to my new adventure. No, not getting my groove back, but instead, building a new one that will express just who I am today, not yesterday.

A Personal Thought

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I rarely, if ever, comment on current events in the media that relate to politics or religion. But I’m about to make a fool of myself and say something related to both of those. I’m a novice in my preaching, but that’ll be addressed in what I’m about to say, too.

So, today on Facebook, one of my friends posted a simple update: “Romans 1:18-22,” to which a couple of comments followed it up stating how that was a very deep chapter, but despite what it says folks just wouldn’t recognize it. I went and look it up and did a little research on it myself, and while that particular verse is the one we Christians like to thump at everyone often enough, I don’t think we understand the context that it’s presented in.

The tricky thing about Bible verses is, you have to read what comes before and after what you want to quote to make sure it means what you think it means. That Romans 1:18-22 that “we” like to quote is the foundation for what follows in 2:1-5.
Many of us just don’t understand The Bible as we should (I’m very guilty of this and what I’m about to say, sadly), which makes us look like fools when we try to quote it or rant on something we think we understand. Truth is, sometimes I think we just like to look important, like we’re really preaching it when in fact we need to listen more and speak less.

But read it for yourself and take what I wrote with a grain of salt because as I said, I need to learn to listen more than I speak.

Taken from The Bible (New International Version):

God’s Wrath Against Sinful Humanity
18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

God’s Righteous Judgment
2 You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. 2 Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. 3 So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? 4 Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?

5 But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed.

New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

What Will It Be?

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What is the one thing you hope you leave behind when you’re gone? What do you want people to remember you for? I’m not talking about the world, but you friends, family and even coworkers. When they remember your life, what is the first thing you hope they mention?

Podcasters Are People To

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A week or so ago, one of my favorite podcasts came to an end. They’d mentioned it jokingly a time or two, then it was never talked about again. Then, just as episode 200 loomed into view, talk resumed on ending the show on the grand 200th episode. And so, The 40Cast came to an end with it’s release into the wild on July 5th, 2014. Vic, Matt, Denny, Eric and Keith shared one last round of memories on how they came to the show, what they remembered and appreciated most, and then bid us, the listeners, a fond farewell.

I won’t lie. Aside from my family, a few friends and co-workers, I don’t have time for much socializing. We get together with family and go out to eat, or we’ll see a movie with friends or celebrate a birthday or holiday. But mainly, I’m at home with my wife and sons or at work earning a dollar. So, to me, these podcasters that open up to us weekly/bi-weekly, and share their moments with us – with me – are just as much a part of my everyday life as anyone or anything else. I look forward to hearing them in my headphones each week, listening to their takes on movies, shows or games. Sharing a laugh at something funny that they experienced or read about. They’re my digital friends, as sad as some people might find that. And to elevate it one more step higher, they’re the modern day celebrities of our digital culture.

Maybe that’s putting it a little too deep, but they go out there, put themselves on the air for our entertainment and/or education. People, like myself, come to trust their opinions, accept their views and socialize with them thanks to sites like Twitter or Facebook or blogging sites. It may not be skin-on-skin, face-to-face contact, but it’s the digital 21st century equivalent of rubbing elbows with famous folks. Folks that hundred, if not thousands, of people listen to. To elevate them to that level is … well … it may be our own faults, and our own undoings.

We, as listeners, may forget that these guys and gals are just regular folks like ourselves. They’re doing something they love, something they enjoy, and it’s a hobby for most. The majority aren’t getting paid for recording these shows, unless they’re trying to make a career out of it like the folks over at Major Spoilers, who last year turned their company into an LLC. Or Scott Johnson and his My Extra Life / Frogpants Network of shows and talent. The other guys, The 40Cast’s, the Everyday Gamers, Gamer Husbands, etc – they’re us. They’re doing this to have fun and share their love of the medium. They may not even consider the fact that folks will truly be upset when they decide to end a show or move on to other things. All they can think about – as they have every right to – is what’s best for them and what their lives require at that given moment.

Me? I’d love to podcast one day. Not the little 30 minute shorts I put out on rare occasions when I have the time, but an actual show with co-hosts, guests, actual topics of conversation and broadcast on multiple platforms/sites for distribution. Not to make money or become famous, but because I’d love to give back to the community. I’d love to interact on a broader level with folks who would be willing to tune in weekly and hear my thoughts and be willing to share theirs with me. We’re a unique generation. We’re the pioneers of this medium. It’s on the shoulders of those out there right now to pave the way for the future generations of podcasters or vlogs, or blogs, or whatever. We were there at ground zero and have set standards and goals for others to learn, reach for and surpass.

Podcasts are my form of release, a way to relax and catch up with old friends that I may never meet. But they’re also our way of preserving the moments we live in for those further down the line to listen to and look back on. We’re pioneers, we’re celebrities, we’re all a close-knit community of strangers who are also good friends. We’re are listeners and podcasters. But most of all, we’re all people just trying to get by and make ends meet and live life as best we can.

To the fellows of The 40Cast, I bid you a good night. Thanks for 200 awesome episodes and I wish you all the best. And as for the efforts of Eric, Matt and Keith on putting together another podcast, I have nothing but faith in you, fellows. I’ll be watching for it and ready to join in and listen once again. But for now, take a break, guys. You all deserve it!