Posts Tagged ‘life’

I remember it well. There was a field and a slight rise there that I always noticed whenever we used to drive by it when I was a child. I would be bored in the car and used to imagine someone on a dirt bike pacing us as we drove. That was one of my favorite places to watch my dirt bike rider jump. It was like that video game that I would play. He would go soaring through the air and land smoothly, so long as you didn’t let his engine overheat. I’m not sure if my parents ever understood why I would stare out the window so much when we drove. I’m not sure that it mattered to them. At least I wasn’t reading all of the road signs out loud. That was the other thing that I would do to pass the time.

I finally realized today what they are doing there. A road is being cut through that field. They have already blasted through that rise so that the road can remain level.For a brief moment I pictured the dirt bike jumping over the gap from one side of the unfinished road to the other. I wasn’t able to complete the jump. I’m the one driving the car now, so staring out the window isn’t a very safe idea. I check the rearview mirror and see my own son in the back seat. He isn’t looking out of the window. His nose is buried in a book. I love that he enjoys reading so much, but part of me was hoping to see him staring with his eyes going up and down as he imagines every jump. I know that in a few months, he will see a new road there with some buildings being put up along it. He won’t even remember what it looked like before the road started to be built. He’s young. The world is always changing for him. I guess what bothers me is that in a few months, I will see the new road and buildings being put up along it, and I may not remember what it looked like before that either.

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Ok. I have to confess this. I’m sure that it will change many people’s opinions of me, but it must be said. I have a fidget spinner. There I said it. Even worse, I gave my child a fidget spinner. I know. I deserve your looks of anger and resentment.

I have to say something else as well. I like my fidget spinner. My son’s fidget spinner helps him be less of a distraction. I keep my fidget spinner close by. It helps me focus. That’s right. My entire family is one of “them.” We are the people that keep these ridiculous types of objects on the market. We are to blame.

The thing about the fidget spinner that amazes me is not how quickly that it took off, or even the backlash against it by parents, educators (my coworkers have given me no end to grief), and the public at large. What amazes me about it is how well it works without doing anything amazing. It just spins. There is nothing profound about it. Still, that simple spinning can do wonders that the most unique or profound objects, thoughts, or writing can never do.

I worry that as a society in general (and writers in particular) we expect everything to be profound. I am extremely guilty of this. Rather than using a blog to just put some thoughts out there and to speak my mind, I feel that every time I put something on my blog that it should teach something important. Everything that I say should make somebody reading it on their computer stop what they are doing and just look off into space for a moment and say, “Whoah!” in their best Bill and Ted voice. Why? What makes me think that everything must be profound? Is it because I think that only the profound ever stand out? I suppose that is why I like my fidget spinner so much. A life lesson learned from something so simplistic that many people hate it, just because it is so simplistic.

So, if you haven’t tried a fidget spinner, go out and get a good one, hold it with two fingers, and give it a spin. Rock it back and forth as it’s spinning. See if you don’t feel the urge to spin it again as it slows down. Most importantly, learn the lesson of the fidget spinner: everything you do or write doesn’t have to be profound. Simplicity has its own appeal. Even if people are talking about how simplistic it is, they are still talking about it!

 

 

feature image credit: thegadgetflow.com

I used to love a song from Bon Jovi entitled I Can’t Write a Love Song. There was something about the poetry of singing about why you can’t sing. I find it to be more of an irony than poetry today. I understand what the song was talking about now. I have needed to write a blog or record a vlog all weekend but haven’t been able to make myself do it. When I finally sat down this afternoon to write a blog, nothing that I wrote felt right. It didn’t sound right. I felt like I was forcing myself to put words on the page but not feeling them as I did. I finally had to admit to myself that I can’t write a blog today. There is no reason to write words that you don’t feel. Maybe tomorrow or the next day my mind, my heart, and my life will work together and allow me to have the words flow like they have before. But for now, I can’t write a blog today.

I will start out by saying that this is a perfect example of what is meant by the phrase, “Doctor, heal thyself!” I am the absolute worst at not following this advice. Of course, that is probably why I have joked with my students that my name should be a verb meaning “to screw up badly.” So if you ever heard me say “I Slatered myself by not listening to my own advice,” then you can understand what I mean.

Today I was on my way out to mow the yard. Just before I got out there, I started to hear a noise. At first, I thought it was my central air conditioning. I was wrong. It was raining. No mowing for me. For a lot of you, this would become a prime time for writing. It makes perfect sense. Not so much for me. I started asking myself if I had things that I needed to grade. I wondered if I had something that I should be doing with my son. I started to run through my “Honey do” list. It would look to any author out there like I am trying to avoid having any writing time. Well, I am.

It’s not that I am having writer’s block. I actually have several things that I need to write down for an upcoming novel (I hope to have news to tell you about that soon!) My problem is that when I start up writing time, I feel that I am being selfish. I lead a very hectic life. Time to write is rare, and even when I think that I have that time, I usually have a thousand other things that I need to be working on. This is not my career, it is something that I do as the adult equivalent of an extracurricular activity, so I feel that it has to come after all of my responsibilities. I worry a lot about being selfish by putting my writing time before any other responsibilities or expectations. Even as I am writing this blog, I have stopped twice to help with folding the laundry despite my wife’s insistence that I do not need to.

What I know intellectually (I just have to make myself put it into practice) is that setting aside writing time and making use of it is not a selfish act so long as you moderate it. It might be easy for some amateur writers to start writing and not get out from in front of their computer for eight to twelve hours a day every day of the week. If you happen to be single and are still making it to work, more power to you. However, if you are like me and are married with a child and have a career, you do have to moderate yourself from such extremes. Once you do that, you also need to accept that your writing time is not selfish. For many, it is a necessary release from stressful jobs or situations. A little bit of guaranteed writing time can give you something to look forward to, improve your disposition, and make it a little bit better for those around you when life many little quirks start to make things difficult. Talk with the people in your life and figure out a way to create some writing time for yourself. After that, if writer’s block becomes your biggest source of stress in life, then you managed not to Slater things!

To say that there are a lot of problems in our world today is an understatement. Maybe all of these problems were always there and we didn’t know, but technology brings them to the forefront now. Who knows? What I do know is that sometimes life imitates art and vice-versa. Consider the number of dystopian novels that achieved prominence in recent years. Think that doesn’t put a bit of a pallor on someones worldview? So, can writers help impact this whole mess? I’m glad that you asked!

 

I think that if you have read much of my writing or heard my vlog, you can probably guess that I was an unusual kid. The thing is, that was true in a lot of ways. One of the more unusual things about me compared to kids in todays society was that I never moved to a new house as a kid. I lived in the same home from the day that I was born until I got married after college. Sure, I lived in the college dorms or apartments while I went to university, but my official address didn’t change for over twenty years. These days people move on a regular basis. It’s made me ask the question, why do people regularly pick and leave the place that they have made into a home just to try and do it again someplace else.

Naturally, there are lots of societal reasons. We can move now without packing everything into a covered wagon and spending months traveling and wondering if we will ever see our new home. There are also all kinds of economic considerations. The locations for work as well as appreciation in the value of your house may convince someone to pick up and move. Those have all been factors in the multiple occasions that my wife and I have moved. Those things answer why we go from one house to another. None of them answer why we move our home.

It took me a little while to come up with a reason for this, but I think that I finally figured it out. I had to think back to when I was getting ready to go to college. My goal was to go to a college that was about three hours away from the home that I had always lived in. My mom came up to me one day and said “Chris, I hope that you get that scholarship, because if you don’t, you might have to go to the community college for a couple of years first and keep living here.”

The idea of staying in that house another few years hit me like a ton of bricks. “Mom, I’ll join the Army before taking that route.” That was not meant as any dig at the army (anyone that knows me knows the respect I have for our service men and women.) Both I and my mother knew that I was not physically or mentally conditioned for the military, but that was a risk that I was willing to take to get out of the house. I had seen those same four walls for my entire life. We rarely went on vacations or long trips, so my whole world had consisted of my hometown and that house. I knew that there was a lot more out there. I had friends that talked about the places that they had been and the things that they had seen. I was ready to find out what there was in the world, both good and bad, and I couldn’t do it in the comfort and security of the home that had been the only home I’d known. I got a scholarship and returned to that home four years later with a degree and news that I had a fiance’. I got married six months later and moved out permanently. I still see that house regularly. My parents still live there.

So what did this tell me about why people move? Honestly, I think it is because we are restless. Each generation is being exposed to more of the world and finding out what is outside of their city limits. Now that we know that there are other ways to live, I think that we want to experience them. Sometimes, that can only be done by moving. For thousands of years, home was where your family had set down roots. Now it seems that home is wherever we decide to park our bed, recliner, and computer for a few years to see what the place has to offer. Some people see this as a decline in family cohesion, and I can understand why they say that. There is something about living in the same place that your family helped build over generations. If you are content with that, then welcome home. I think that for most people these days, it isn’t an option, and that is fine with them as well. After all, what is a home if not simply the place where you and your family go to for comfort, security, and love? A change of address doesn’t matter in the end.

 

 

image credit: http://www.businessinsider.com

Well, this was my last full day on vacation. We dedicated the entire day to the beach. I made a realization while we were out there. I had never gotten around to some of the revisions that I had told myself that I would do on this trip. That’s when I realized something about my writing lately. I explain what it is in the video.

Well, I started to relax a little bit more on the third day. The tropical storm was nowhere nearby and we were starting to learn where everything was. I really spent the third day getting a lot more experiences, and that matters. It not only matters personally, but it also matters as a writer. Details can make a world of difference, and I want to start making those differences.

Well, I survived my drive down to my vacation, now it was time to do some stuff. I wish that I could have gotten video of things as I did them rather than just try to describe it to you later, but, to be honest, I like to focus on the experience, not recording the experience. I know it makes it less exciting for you, but it makes it more enjoyable for me, and this is one time when I will think of myself before my audience. I give a brief explanation of why I am recording the journal and try, very badly, to describe some of what I did. I’m certain that there are several people that look at this and can’t believe that a 38 year old man is just now doing some of this stuff. Well, that’s part of why I took this trip and recorded the journal. Because I really AM just now getting around to doing this stuff!

 

I have just returned from my first real beach vacation. I know, 38 years old and finally going to the beach for a vacation to play in the ocean. I can be a little slow on things. I was going to keep a written journal each day, but my family and I stayed so busy that I didn’t get a chance to. Instead, I kept a video journal and will be putting up one video journal entry a day for the next few days. Been on a beach vacation? Did it help you relax and reboot or make you wish that you could stay? Let me know how these things work out for you.