In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “If You Leave.”

I’ve been at my current job for almost 14 years. It’s a good job that provides for the needs of my family and I. It’s overall been a good job. The way I was raised, I never expected to live in one place 14 years, much less stay in the same job. I think the fact my boss changes every couple of years keeps it fresh and helps me to maintain my sanity. I’ve still contemplated doing something else though.

I like my job. I get to do some pretty cool things and feel like I make a difference, but it’s not my passion. It pays the bills and at the end of the day, what more could I ask for? I could ask for a job I absolutely love. One that doesn’t make me dread some days where I’d rather sit at home than go to work. I could ask for a job that challenges me more deeply and enables me to expand my influence because I can’t help but work harder. I could ask for that.

me

The thing is, change is hard. Change is scary, change is change. The older I get, the more I cling to my routine. My routine isn’t exactly routine, but it’s stable enough that I cling to it. It’s also familiar. Why is it so darn hard to reach out into the unknown? Why can’t I just make the leap I’ve seen others do? Part of it is the kids, but part of it is me. I suppose, the older I get the harder it is to do something different.

I do know this. I don’t want to look back at the end of my life and ask, what if…? Maybe I will change…and maybe I’ll change for the better. I just hope at my funeral, those who love me will say, “He didn’t play it safe. He lived life fully, loved heartily and most of all, wasn’t afraid.” Hopefully at the end of your life the same can be said of you.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Seven Wonders.”

How does one reduce understanding to seven words? Language is such a complex and challenging minefield to navigate and I’m asked to reduce understanding to seven words. I find the words of Khalil Gibran to always be thought provoking and personally challenging. This however is a new level of challenge.

If I am to reduce my words to seven, these are the seven I choose.

If you can’t love, life is meaningless.

I know that the statement is rather harsh, but I believe it completely. Life is difficult enough, but when there is no love, there is no hope. Love is intrinsic to who we are as humans. It is love that brings peace and starts wars. It is love that gives hope and dashes dreams. Men and women, boys and girls spend their whole lives chasing it and seeking to receive it. We are bombarded daily with images of what it looks like and how it should be lived out.

It’s cultural as well. Expressions of love are as tied to our cultural identity as words are. What is acceptable in one culture may be completely shunned in another. If we can’t understand the language of love, how can we understand the language of words? If we can’t fight for what we hold most dear, how can we ever hope to change the world for the better?

For me, love is everything. As a person of the Christian faith, love is the foundation and person of my faith. Love is the expression of my faith. Love is the hope of my faith. I will say again my seven words because for me, this is the key to understanding who I am and how I see the world.

If you can’t love, life is meaningless.

Hello there…

Today is Back to the Future Day. My kids, who wouldn’t even be alive until almost 20 years since the first movie came out are more excited about it than I am. I suppose that’s the generational thing. When we saw Back to the Future all those years ago, our hopes rose high that we’d be using new gadgets. We thought there would be hoverboards, self tying shoes, flying cars and Mr. Fusions.

Back to the Future didn’t get everything right, but our lives are so far advanced from the days when it first fired up our imaginations. We now have miniature supercomputers in our pockets that replaced the pagers and brick phones of the 80s. We have ALOT of Velcro shoes. They don’t tie themselves, but they certainly are simpler than laces. (One of these days I’ll need to teach my youngest how to actually tie shoes). We do have a first generation hoverboard, but we’ve also got Segways and such that are just as futuristic compared to the 80s.

I think my greatest disappointment is the lack of flying cars. Granted, as bad as traffic is, I can’t imagine how it would be if we had to worry about movement with the addition of flight. It would be amazing to zip around without concern of roads and highways and potholes, but it would likely be unnerving as well. I suppose I’ll just stick with my mini-van.

Mr. Fusion! What a great idea. Take ordinary day to day refuse and use it as a fuel source. I know that there is all sorts of research being done on clean energy and recyclable fuel sources. One day we’ll get there.

I guess that’s the cool thing about movies like Back to the Future. They aren’t exact predictors of the future, but they do offer hope. Who would have thought in the late 60’s that we’d actually have handheld communicators and watches capable of what Dick Tracy did. Who could have predicted the ability to allow kids in remote parts of the world to have access to the internet through durable, usable technology developed with them in mind. Here’s hoping that 30 years from now, we’ve done a great job trying to make the world an even better place that our kids will be proud to call home.

Until, Doc Brown has left us a message:

Doc Brown has a message to send on ‘Back to the Future’ Day

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Do you Believe in Magic?.”

I woke up this morning. I thought after the busy morning, I’d have to drag myself out of my bed kicking and screaming. (How can you really drag yourself anywhere kicking and screaming?) Anyways, I expected a rather slow morning. I am pleased to tell you though I have a new reason to get up in the mornings. My sight has been changed! How exciting is that?

I’ve worn glasses since I was 6. I remember the first time we left the store and were driving home. I saw a flag pole I didn’t realize was there! I had lived at that place for over a year and here’s this flag pole I never noticed! Very exciting times for 6 year old Ricky. I could see things I’d never noticed before but this is even better than that time.

I didn’t really notice it at first. I mean everything looked basically the same. I woke up, grabbed the iPad and checked on the happenings with my social media accounts. Good job, Patriots! Not so much, Colts (so glad I didn’t have Colts players on my fantasy team). Things progressed normally from there. I woke up the kids to get them ready for school and that’s when I noticed little differences. Little mundane things I’d never noticed before stood out. Picking out clothes for the youngest seemed like the greatest thing ever. Here I was in a warm house, choosing from different outfits because the weather was different. So glad I have that option because I am fortunate to have a decent job.

20140605-222624.jpg

That was a little weird, but even better, I had an electric single cup coffee maker to give me nectar of the gods. Here I was, putting my single serving cup in a machine that pushed water through into my cup to make me something that would energize me for a Monday. What a great country I live in!

My morning continued. I noticed the silence. I mean there were cars going to and fro as everyone headed out for a new day, but there were no explosions. No warplanes flying overhead and no bomb craters to avoid. I was just driving on rather nicely paved highways to go to a normal job and earn money for the services I provide. Not much to think about normally, but today I have supersight and I can see how fortunate I am.

I stopped on the way to work and picked up a box of cream filled donuts. How fantastic is that? Somebody woke up really early in the morning to bake so I could walk in a store, grab a pre-filled box and I could be a superhero because I brought donuts to work. Man, could it get any better than this? I sure hope so, but even if it doesn’t I’ve got a great life.

Ok…maybe I didn’t get a magical injection of supersight, but I do live a magical life. I’ve got three great kids, a steady job and a place to live, food to eat and clothes to wear. Life is good! Have a great day wherever you are.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “A True Saint.”

Hi there!

This is a post from three hundred years ago, but I really didn’t expect that I would be deserving of this great honor. Of course I’m not really deserving because who really is, besides Mother Teresa, St. Patrick and some others that are too awesome to name. I mean, if I really cared about whether or not I became a saint, I would completely not deserve it. Must be I did something right, because you guys made me one (or at least the pope did which is kinda funny since I’m not Catholic).

Aaanyways. Back to this saint business. I’m so glad that I get the chance to speak up for what is becoming an ever smaller group of people where I’m from. It’s the outsiders. With the internet and everything, you can find a connection with someone who shares your interests, so does that really make you an outsider? The thing about internet relationships though is that they are distant for the most part. I mean, it’s really exciting to meet other people who are as passionate for the same things you are, but when something cool happens where you live who do you turn to?

That’s where Saint Ricky comes in. I can always tell the outsiders. A friend of mine described them as strays. She says I attract them like a magnet. These are people (myself included) who are broken and don’t feel like they fit in anywhere. When I say broken, I don’t mean irreparably. I mean there is something inside them that makes them fear or avoid making connections with those nearby. Connections are fabulous, unless you feel like no one will understand what you’re going through. We live in an ever expanding connected world and yet feel all alone at home. It’s part of the brokenness. Connecting requires trust and when you’ve lost the ability to trust, it makes it that much harder to connect. I’m the guy for those people.

11659441_1086756281337977_1838086930973810513_n

I think that every one of us has a contribution to make. Even the quiet little guy who sits in the corner wearing his gaming or movie t-shirt that sort of avoids any meaning conversations. It’s the girl who walks in and looks around, noticing she’s the only one wearing long sleeves in summer because she doesn’t want other people to notice the marks. It’s the differently abled kid who is all excited to meet new people, but doesn’t really have the social etiquette to realize when they may be getting a little to close to your personal space. I like those people. They are my kind of people. Those are the ones I like to go up to and say hi. Of course I realize I make get a blank stare or even a look of abject fear, but I don’t want them to feel alone in a room full of people. Mostly it’s because I don’t want to feel alone in a room full of people.

That’s sort of the paradox with me. I love to stand up in front of larger groups of people and I can talk and talk and talk. The problem is, after I come down from whatever platform I’ve been on and people expect me to engage in actual conversation. That means I’ve got to open up and be a bit more vulnerable. I’m not good with vulnerable. I’m not good with small talk. Big ideas expounded upon perfectly, no problem. Intimate conversations about my own life, I’m a bumbling idiot.

That’s why I relate to the broken people. Neither one of us is particularly excited about opening the books of our lives in rooms full of people who look like they have everything together. We can just find something to talk about that tells others about us, but not really about us. Let’s talk Harry Potter, or Star Wars or which version of D&D is the best. Let’s have a chat about strange art we’ve found. Or even about weird places we’ve been. Just don’t ask us to actually talk about ourselves. That’s where we get lost.

Thanks so much for making me a saint. I know I’m not worthy. The truth is…none of us are. So even if I never get to be St. Ricky, patron saint of outsiders, I am still glad I met you all.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “The New School.”

I really like this idea. We all have ideas about what the ‘perfect’ school looks like. Some are all excited about academic pursuits. Some about artistic. Even further, some are excited to all students ‘be who they are’. I think for me, the New school should be about all of that.

I’ve got 3 children and each is so drastically different from the other. My oldest is gregarious and academically minded. She also enjoys music. My middle child is more inclined toward athletic and energetic pursuits. My youngest is all about service. Having such a small sample size inclines me to believe that school should be about teaching all of our kids the same thing. Every child needs to learn how to learn. It shouldn’t be about rote memorization or even solely experiential. It should be a combination of all the learning styles.

I personally do well learning by a combination of reading and doing. I’ve learned my best lessons by failing. Our current academic system is set up to teach by comparison. You are in the 98th percentile or you are in the 48th percentile, etc. It is measured by tests that by various standards have shown that all children may not be on equal footing just in the way the tests are designed. If we truly want our children to succeed, we need to allow them the freedom to fail.

328251_994365496968_5226716_o

I think another important thing to do is also allow children to explore. Exploration takes a couple of different routes. I explored my world through literature. Surround the children with books. Let them read and learn and escape. Additionally, they also need places to experiment safely. Give them space and materials to learn how the world works. And then places to play. Play with colors and toys and each other. Exploration in our current school system is prescribed and focused on pre-determined outcomes to determine if children can follow rules. We lose out on so much creativity when kids don’t get to explore with only limited rules for safety. We teach our children to be obedient, rather than innovative.

I suppose that’s my two cents worth. We shouldn’t be about creating normal people. If we truly want to excel in this world, we need to teach our children to be who they are.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Connect the Dots.”

http://smalltownnews.com/article.php?pid=219&aid=236806

This link leads to the following story:

City of Boyden hires municipal facilities employee

Jacob Anderson, born and raised in Hull, recently accepted a position with the City of Boyden. He will be in charge of the municipal facilities including snow removal, taking care of the parks, cemetery and water and sewer facilities in Boyden. Anderson went to Boyden-Hull and graduated from Northwestern in Orange City in 2010. He worked for six years at Gator Brothers Boring and Drilling Contractors in Rock Valley before returning to the area.

Original Publication Date: November 6, 2013
The prompt asked me to find an uninteresting story and decide how it connects to me. I thought it was an interesting task and so here I am, wondering how the hiring of Jacob Anderson connects to me.
Reading the short article makes me think of how exciting it must have been for his family to have his job announced in the local paper. We all have events in our life we’d love to have announced for others to see. Facebook, Twitter and all these other social media sites are probably the closest thing we’ll ever come to having our news announced for the world to read. For Jacob and his family, this new position was an opportunity to celebrate.
It would also likely bring apprehension. Anyone who is placed in charge of municipal services becomes a target when things don’t go the way the citizens of the municipality want. Placing yourself out there to serve others is an often thankless task. When things are going well, people probably don’t notice but if it goes wrong your phone/email/visitors increase exponentially. That usually makes for a bad day.
The connection I see is that we all have things in our life we want to share with the world. With the good comes the bad and we just try to learn how to allow the good to outweigh the bad. Even if we don’t find these sorts of announcements exciting, for the subject it’s probably the best news they’ve had on that day. It’s a time of celebration. Understanding that there will be tough days, we can look back and see that someone thought what we considered important was important to others too.
20140604-221918.jpg