What if we all just did something nice for the people we come into contact with, whether they deserve it or not, without expectation of a return, or whether or not it is “good” for them? I can say yes to baking cookies this afternoon. I can watch the TV show my husband loves. I can give a few dollars to that guy that asks for change. I can call my family member or write a letter because they aren’t interested in social media. I can just be nice for the sake of being nice. I can even do it for people I’m not happy with. I can do it and not even because it makes me feel good to be nice. It could even make me a bit angry to do the dishes while everyone else in the house watches TV, but it doesn’t have to. I can think of it as a gift for them and myself, as a bit of alone time with my thoughts. It’s just perspective, something I can change at will. It may just make the world a happier place in time.
I’ve had “Phantastes” by George Macdonald on my shelf for a couple years. I got it because I love C.S. Lewis and Macdonald was one of his greatest influences. As soon as I got it, I put it on the top of my “to-read” pile even though the cover has a weird ghost figure that gives me the heebie-geebies! When I sat down to read it, I got bored almost instantly and put it away for another time. I’m not really a big fan of pure fantasy books. I’ve tried to read some but just get lost usually. Here we are several years later and I’m trying it again. This time I’m really enjoying it. I must be in the mood for an escape from reality!
There is a quote from the story on the very first page that really struck me to the heart. “In good sooth, my masters, this is no door. Yet is it a little window, that looketh upon a great world.” That sums up exactly what a book is! Each time I open a book and read it through, I look into another world, whether it be fantasy, science-fiction, or history. I can’t walk through into that world as if through a door, but I can look into it and learn from what I see there. It isn’t the same as walking through and living in the world like I do in my own time. It’s only a piece of that world that I see. Like a window in my house, it lights up my own.
But why entitle this post “forgetful”, you ask? Well, nothing bothers me more than forgetting things completely. I knew I had started to read this book before, but believed I had only gotten a couple pages in before I gave up. I’m a quarter of the way into it this time and I’m still finding dog-eared pages from the previous read. It bothers me because none of it is familiar this time. I don’t have the vague sense that I’ve heard this story before. It’s completely gone.
That happens to me a lot with books. I read them, note them, talk about them, and sometimes they disappear from my memory. Sometimes, though, I read a book and think, “Well, I already know these things and use them!” and then I’m reminded by a note or an underlined sentence, that I’ve read it before. I’ve learned that it shouldn’t bother me because I may not be able to tell you the title of the book but I am using what’s inside it. Its information is lighting up my world without my knowing that the window is even there.
I started to keep a small journal with each book I’m reading this year. I keep my notes in them instead of in the margins of the book. Not all my books have space for that, even though I’d rather have them there. It’s also easier to write more details about my thoughts and things to look up later.
Each time I pick up the book, whether it is in my regular routine or otherwise, I pick up this journal as well. I have two since I’m usually reading two books at the same time. In the back of the journal, I write the name of the book, the author, the publish date, and the page the notes start on. In the book, I make a star or something that says there is a note in the journal about that page. And in the front of the journal, I write the page number and the note. I also keep track of how many minutes I read. When I finish the book, I add up the minutes and add it to the back of the journal for that title: hours read, the number of pages, date finished.
Obsessive, isn’t it? It makes me happy.
This all started because last year I set a goal on Goodreads to read a certain number of books, but didn’t make it because I started reading “War & Peace” at the end of the year and that really should count for three books, at least! Then I thought, counting the number of books you read, just by title, doesn’t really say much. I should count pages! And then that expanded to the number of hours I spent reading. That’s really what counts, in my opinion. Do I spend a good amount of time reading each day? So I decided to keep track and once I’m into a habit like this, it’s hard for me to stop. I just love keeping track of things!
So today, since it’s that weird week between Christmas and New Years, where it isn’t quite the new year, but things aren’t really back to normal yet, I sat down and totaled up my years reading. These totals do not include the number of hours I spent on my bible studies or reading articles online…or Facebook posts (which is going to drop dramatically this year)!
That’s 26.93 pages per hour and 12.14 hours per book, on average!
Strange to think that this is my version of entertainment, but here we are. My books range from old favorites from high school, biography, classic fiction, science, history, to self-help. I just like to read good books.
I wonder how many hours I’ll spend reading in 2018? One of my goals this coming year is to write more about what I’m reading, while I’m reading it. I used to wait until the end of the book but I’ve found that when I do that, there is just too much to go back over and I give up because I’m overwhelmed. Live and learn!
When I saw the ad for the show “Lucifer” I really wanted to watch it. And then I found out it had been on TV a while and I’d have to catch up, so I didn’t start recording it. Then I saw it was on Hulu! Yay! So now we’ve been watching it when we have time between Star Trek and World War II in Color. I know, we have strange tastes. Anyway… I love this show. I love the characters. I love the story. We have fun watching it. It’s just good.
This morning I thought of something interesting. Lucifer (in the show) is angry at God because he says God has made a role for him that he doesn’t want, punisher of the bad people in the world. And he hates that humans think of him as evil, mean demon going after people when all he is doing is punishing bad guys like God told him to do. His character is just so hurt and sad. It makes me want to give him a hug. He obviously needs a friend.
It’s not a very biblical view of Lucifer from what I’ve read and come to understand. But then there are some interesting things to look into here. If I go with what the show is portraying, I can say maybe this guy is wrong in his understanding of what has happened. God hasn’t chosen a role for him. He believes that’s the case and is acting it out, though.
Here’s what I think I know about the real Satan. He disobeyed God and tried to overthrow Him. God banished him from Heaven, and his followers. Satan is still angry and jealous of God and His creation and does his very best to lure us away from God, to put a wall up between us and true happiness. But it is his choice to remain jealous and angry. He could humble himself and ask for forgiveness. He doesn’t have to play the part of evil. He just does.
How many of us have that same feeling? We feel angry at God for the role He has given us in this world. We didn’t want to be born poor, male, in Maine, but here we are. We can be angry at God, jealous of our fellow humans in their relationship with God, envious of the things they have. These feelings are acted out and ruin our chances of happiness while we live in this world. Or we can humble ourselves and ask God to help us become closer to Him, to know what it is He wants for us.
We aren’t given roles in this life, we take them on. You name it, we can chose it. Good or bad. Positive or negative. In the end, it is up to us which we take on and work with. I can chose to be a victim in this world, of this world. Or I can chose to be the child of God, beautiful, powerful, happy, and content with what I have and could have in this world and the next.
One of the greatest series of books that I have ever found has been the “Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture Series.” Philosophy is the study of human nature and whenever anyone creates any kind of art, the creator’s human nature shows through it, whether it be a book, a painting, a song, a movie, or even a popular tv series. It’s absolutely mind-bending how much one can pull out of a piece of art as examples of what philosophers are showing us through their writing. It’s better than using current events or real people as examples because we have no real emotional attachment to the art pieces. We understand that the piece is there to entertain us and make us think and it makes it easier to put the mirror of philosophy up to them, instead of ourselves, without getting our feelings hurt.
The latest one I’m reading is on the tv show “Lost.” When I watched the show years ago, I was struck by the character names and the idea of a random group of people surviving on an island. I felt the vague sense of the writers trying to tell us something. I loved the characters and how they reacted to situations. And, yes, I was totally in love with Sawyer and not just for his sexy abs. I loved the character because he didn’t act vulnerable, he didn’t react emotionally (most of the time). He was tough and a bit mean at times, but if you really looked at his actions (and deep behind those dreamy eyes), you got the sense of who he really was, that his feelings ran deep. <sigh> Anyway…
I’m on chapter 10, “Friends and Enemies in the State of Nature – The Absence of Hobbes and the Presence of Schmitt.” I’ve read Locke and some of Hobbes. I had heard of Rousseau and his theories, but I’d never heard of Schmitt until today, so his theories totally shocked me with how closely they run with our own political climate since the 1930’s. It really has me wondering why we don’t study the history of the last 100 years more closely, why we let ourselves forget and believe the new watered down versions instead.
I was so struck by these lines that I ran out to the garage to talk it all out to my husband while he was trying so hard to get our new Christmas decoration finished! My quotes here are from the book, not the philosophers themselves. Here it goes.
Locke was one of the most influential writers that spurred our own American Revolution and our independence from Great Britain. His theories are based on logic and reason. “Lockean government, like a farmer, nurtures and cultivates the soil of human nature and natural rights in a way that is consistent with the laws of nature so that human beings will flourish peaceably and rationally.” Sounds nice. I like it!
Rousseau was one of the most influential writers that spurred the French Revolution. His theories are somewhat based on emotion and human feelings of power. “For Rousseau, the invention of society is more like the invention of human flight. Like an aircraft, according to Rousseau, society must honor nature and nature’s rights, but the delicate invention of society nevertheless allows us to transcend nature, to take a higher, enlarged view of our world and ourselves.” Not bad either. It reminds me of the story of the “talents” from the bible, putting work into what God has given us and doing wonderful things with it.
And then there is our friend Hobbes. I’ve never liked Hobbes’ theories. I listened to an audiobook of “Leviathan.” It depressed me. His theories have a huge hole in my opinion. He says humans are just so nasty, they need to be controlled. “Like a caged animal in a zoo, the beast can remain well fed, peaceful, and long-lived only by being contained.” But my question always remains, “Who is qualified to be the zoo-keeper?” I mean if all humans are mean and nasty, then what is it that would give certain ones the authority to rise above and keep the others in line? Whenever anyone starts with this line of thinking, and it comes up fairly often, the people I talk with all seem to think they are the rulers and “everyone else” are the slaves. I’ve yet to hear anyone say they aren’t capable of taking care of themselves and that they leave those things to their betters for their own good.
But Schmitt, his ideas ring a little too clearly in our current government and it frightens me, not because he wrote about it and our government seems to be following his advice, but because the people I talk to or hear talking seem not to think about it at all. Most of us have never even heard of him. See if this sounds familiar to you, “Schmitt’s central thesis is that an “enemy” is necessary to the formation and development of society. If liberal political theory is defined by its goal of eliminating conflict and securing a rational peace, Shmittian-Nazi theory is defined by its embracing conflict and war as not only desirable, but essential.” This is the man that defined and supported the Nazi party ideas. They didn’t want to expand their empire and kill off the Jews because it would be great for the government. They believed they were doing something wonderful for their country and its people, and for a while they made the people very happy. They chose the Jews as the enemy because they believed most of the world would not react badly to it. Anti-semitism was widely accepted in our country at the time, as well as racism and eugenics.
Is this the idea that both the Democrats and Republicans are operating under? “If you follow us, we’ll protect you from the others!” The cry of “Terrorists!” gets everyone behind them. We really have only one party. Every time the power shifts from one side to the other, all we hear about is how the ruling party is going to take us in a terrible direction. We battle between ourselves for the next eight years, with the same arguments they used against the party that was just replaced. “Bush did that!” “Obama did that!” And now “Trump did that!” But we’re always going in the same direction, more war against the others. The only thing people fight over is the promises of wealth the candidate made before he was elected. What if we just stopped fighting wars overseas and became more defensive instead of offensive? What if we stopped giving more and more power to the government and then complaining when the government uses it against us “for our own good”? What if the survivors on Lost just set up a defense of their own area and stopped going out in the jungle looking to stop the others before they started anything?
Far from the Madding Crowd is one of those novels that many people say ‘One day, I will read it, it’s a classic.’ I’ll be the first to admit I was one of those people, and the intention to read it was always there, but it wasn’t until my sister bought me the book for […]
I usually poke a little fun at people who condemn social media by posting on social media and those that post on social media that they are “taking a break.” It strikes me as silly, maybe showing a little too much self-importance, as if everyone online would wonder what happened to you if you didn’t post daily. And here I am taking that break and now posting about it! I try not to take myself too seriously.
Yesterday I decided I would take that break. I even wrote it down on my calendar (yes, I still use a paper calendar) when I would return. I’ve done it before, taken a week off, and I’ll probably do it again. I do it because when I check my phone every few minutes to see what’s going on or if anyone responded to something I post, I feel like I’m on a virtual leash, tied to a lot of things that really don’t have any effect on my life other than the one I create. I feel addicted to information. So I cut myself off for a bit and then slowly re-enter the water. Maybe this time I won’t, but then I wouldn’t know what kind of interesting things my old friends are up to. I just don’t know.
And then today I read something very interesting (in a book, a physical paper one) that has made me really think about the break I started yesterday. It was about women, in general, trying to get as much information and control as they can grab hold of. Sometimes we want more than we need. Sometimes we bite off more than we can chew. It brought of the vision of Eve being tempted by the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Is that what we do when we pry into everyone’s lives? Even if we aren’t really prying but only picking up the information that everyone is tempted to lay out for the world to see on social media? In a way, I think it is.
The human mind is only capable of processing so much. It’s a limited thing. Only God can handle all the information in the world. He does equip us to handle that which He dishes out to us, but is He dishing this out to us, or are we going back to the buffet and pushing everyone else aside to get to it? I know I frequently feel overwhelmed by too much information and sometimes I don’t know where it’s coming from or if it is really important. For now, I’ll take a break from the virtual world, go on a short vacation. I’ll see if I need to come back or if I can come back in small ways that bring me closer to the ones I love and participating in the larger world as need be. I’ll let God dish out my portion and process what I’ve been given. While I’m fasting, I’ll be writing here and thinking of ways I can eat from the buffet in a healthier way.
I’m a little more than halfway finished with this book, but I HAVE to tell you about it right now. It can’t wait a week until I finish! Every woman should read this book, whether you feel “insecure” or not. I wouldn’t consider myself an insecure woman, but there are times (and every woman – and man for that matter – has them) that I feel like a child cowering in the dark. This book has given me some serious insight into why that may be. Not only that, but it has further helped me to see what other women might be going through, and to have a little compassion when we are most vulnerable. It even throws a little light on the men in our lives, not belittling or berating them for “having it easy” in this life (since the Lord knows they don’t) but giving us women a chance to love them for the humans they are, just like us.
I love this book so much. It came across my path in God’s perfect time, as per usual, and has already brought me peace and set me on a path to promote my own personal security and to better help those wonderful people around me!
“As long as everything is exactly the way I want it, I’m totally flexible.”
Isn’t that the basis of so many of our problems? We don’t give our loved ones the freedom to be who they are or make the choices that are best for them. We give them a list of acceptable choices. We don’t move through the day and take what life gives us, mulling over what is presented and using it to our advantage. We grumble over what didn’t happen that we had looked forward to.
I posted the quote above on my Facebook page and so many people resonated with it. It’s funny how we can all have that in common. It’s as if it is in our nature. If it is, should we fight against it? I know that attempting to control others or expecting things to go my way makes me unhappy in the long run. And one of my goals is to be happy, so I struggle to allow the world to move around me as it sees fit.
There is one thing we can all control (with practice) and that is our reaction to the reality we live in. We can be angry with a person because they are not doing or acting the way we want them to or we can accept who that person is and decide whether we want to be around that person or not. We can be angry that the nation is not moving in the political direction we would like and scream and rant about it, or we can do the things that we think would make the world around us a better place.
We are only in control of one thing, ourselves, our reactions, our own minds.
December 1st Reminder:
“There is suddenly and absolutely no room for impatience, regret, judgment, criticism, or hostility when time is of the essence.
The time left must be packed tightly with love—and only love.”
-Rachel Macy Stafford
Why do we wait? Why not start right now? We don’t need to wait for some drastic change or life-altering event. That event IS coming. Life ends. We all know that. So why not start loving right now?
I’m having a hard time today. I’m feeling low. Things aren’t looking like they will go in the way I imagined them. There’s a surprise!
All things change. I know that. And I really feel I’m ok with it, but sometimes I just wish…I don’t know. I guess I wish things were different. I wonder if there is something I could have done, some way of altering what is now. I love the thought of going with the flow, not resisting the tide, seeing where it takes me. It’s just that right now I’m on the scared end of the spectrum. What’s next? Where will this go? Will I be happy? Will they be happy? What if?
Lord, I know You are always there wanting to take me into Your arms. I know this because You are my loving Father and that is what a Father does. I need it right now. I need a hint of encouragement. I need a gentle lift, a light to guide me. Or do I already have it and I’m not looking in the right place?
I will choose love today, even though I’m not sure where it will end up.