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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Why so closed off?

So…I’ve noticed lately that LOTS of people I know seem to be mistaken in the idea that America should just shut itself off from the rest of the world. No country in this era will long survive if it pulls away from the rest of the world. In today’s complex, inter-connected world, isolation is more individual than national. The really bad thing, we miss out on so much if we forget how we got to where we are.

America was the land of promise, but it also served to lift others hopes and aspirations from the work of today to visions of brighter futures. Innovation is not confined the America. People from throughout the world are innovators and we would do well to learn from them. I hope that more of my friends stop looking at how ‘others’ are taking away what is ‘theirs’ and learn to share in a global fashion.

I’ve been extremely blessed to have travelled to various parts of the world and have found without exception wonderful things. From the lush jungles of Central America, to the smiling faces of rural Haiti. I’ve also found warm hospitality in different parts of Europe and the unlikely beauty in the plethora of brown throughout Afghanistan.

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Let’s be open to learning from one another and make this world a much better place. When we decide to enter the broad lanes of global society, we can learn to understand and hopefully see how very much alike we are.

Am I doing it right?

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Life is challenging. Anyone who says it isn’t is being well taken care of and has NO responsibility or accountability. (Deep exhale). Ok…I’ve gotten that out of the way. I wonder sometimes if I’m doing life correctly. More specifically, am I a good dad? Pictured above are my three kids. (It’s throwback thursday, so I thought a 3 year old picture was throwback enough). I’m a divorced, single dad who feels inadequate.

People tell me from time to time that I’m a good dad. I think people say this because I manage to get them to the activities they are involved in as well as church and other things and they are fed and clothed and make it back to school the next day mostly unscathed. (All children get scathed from time to time. It’s virtually impossible for them not to). Scathing is a whole other topic and should be addressed sometime in the future. (Shakes head and clears brain to focus on topic at hand). Ok…so people think I am a good dad because I keep a schedule and the kids are still alive. Success!

Is that enough though? This brings us back to inadequacy. I’ve dealt with the feelings for most of my life. I feel like I’ve lucked my way through it by being at the right place at the right time. I would consider myself fortunate at my station in life and comfortable. That is, except in my parenting skill department. I’m a little bit of a control freak, and lazy to boot. I like to control my circumstances and I don’t like to clean, except I don’t like a filthy house. (Your definition of filthy may differ from mine, but we can argue about that later). Kids are hard to control and they’re getting older, so I need to start letting (making) them do things to help. That’s a challenge for me.

On top of that, I’m expected to teach them and mentor them and help them grow to be responsible adults who contribute to the good of all mankind. (That seems like a rather tall order, but I think that’s the standard definition of parenting). It all makes me feel a little inadequate. Having a judg-y mom and father in law (cause really, what do you call the grandfather of your children who happens to be the ex’s dad?)  who don’t think I’m quite doing it as I should makes those feelings magnify exponentially.

I think though, I’m doing ok. This morning I woke up, checked twitter and was directed to the link of Emma Stone lip-synching to DJ Khaled. I did what any self respecting, responsible parent would do. I woke up my oldest boy, found the video on youtube and chromecasted so we could watch it together. (Is chromecasted the proper verb form?). In turn, after he was properly entertained, he shared with me America’s Got Talent’s Nick Cannon pranking the judges as a mime contestant. We shared that five minutes. I don’t think I particularly taught him a valuable life lesson or anything. I did however share time with him. I really think that’s what right parenting looks like. I won’t be there for every moment of his life, but I need to be there for enough that he knows I love him and his brother and sister. I want him to feel safe in that knowledge.

I am inadequate. We all are. Who’s bright idea was it that we were supposed to raise our own children? I make mistakes, I fail and I teach my kids my bad habits. Overall though, I think I’m doing it right. That’s enough for me.