Category Archives: 250 words

Cry Together

cryslingWhen someone begins to cry, I feel helpless. I want to touch and hold – but sometimes it’s not appropriate or wanted. I want to understand – but it’s usually not a good time to talk too much. And sometimes I want to fix – but many times nothing is actually broken as much as things are out of kilter or emotions simply have built up and need to erupt – a good cry is in order!

Someone else’s tears makes me hurt badly. I was with a lady recently who was crying when I arrived and I had to leave her crying. She was hurting, mourning, and feeling sad for herself. Unfortunately, she cries much of the time by herself and with others. If only there had been something that I could have done to relieve her of her pain. I was with someone else recently and – after we had been talking for awhile about a common situation – her crying began. She didn’t want to be touched, held, talked to, or even noticed. It hurt me to not be able to immediately help but I also knew that whatever it was all about, it was hurting her more than me so I figured I needed to lay low for awhile. I wasn’t sure what to do other than to be available, if needed. After 30 min or so, we were able to get back on track and nothing else was said about the sad time. I hope I didn’t let her down somehow.

Crying is as much an emotion as laughing. When someone laughs – I want to laugh with them. Likewise, I am getting to where when someone cries – I want to cry with them. I enjoy your happiness, but I empathize with your pain, too. Let’s laugh and cry together, okay?

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Travel Time

dlta767If you read this blurb sometime between mid-afternoon Sun to early morning on Mon Virginia time then you will be reading while Zak and family are traveling to Korea by air. It is a long trip – very long for three little ones – and I truly hope it goes well. I’m tracking his progress on the Internet regularly and hope – some how – to hear from him upon arrival. The phone-Internet situation over there is completely different than here so I’m not too worried if I don’t hear for a few days but it’s amazing how much we depend on and hope for instant notification when or if something happens. We all need to be patient. Korea is 13 hours ahead of Virginia so if it is noon here on Sun then it is 1am on Mon there. Pretty cool. It brings a whole new meaning to wondering when to celebrate a new year at midnight!

I’ve said much about Zak and his choices and plans so I will not belabor the point. But this is a big day – the beginning of something pretty amazing. Of course, thousands and thousands of military people and their families have traveled to and lived in Korea over the years so this is not a first and is pretty routine – except that this is about some family people who I care for so give me a break for a few years while I ponder the significance of what is happening.

If and when I hear something, I will let you know right here. Between the asterisks below. Check back for updates.

12pm ET Sun – Leaving hotel for SEATAC airport.

2:30pm ET Sun – Call from Zak. Everyone is at gate. No problems checking in despite 14 bags of luggage (it’s all the goods they have for about a month until first shipment arrives). Kids are okay and anxious. Last call for bathroom break and snacks then loading. Direct flight with no stops. Current chaplain and staff in Korea will pick them up in Seoul upon arrival with two Navy vans. All seems set to go. No turning back now.

7:30pm ET Sun – Latest tracking information. Hope it’s accurate.


5am ET Mon – Well, according to tracking apps, they’ve arrived. About an hour ago. I haven’t heard anything but that’s to be expected. Hope they’re in one piece.


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Me Love

meeeeeeIt is very hard to not be selfish and self-centered, isn’t it? Our nature is to focus on ourselves and do whatever it takes to keep things going our way and keep things always pointing to us. Unless someone tells or shows us, we have no other way to live, it seems. Human nature is very powerful – it pulls, tugs, finagles, and twists to make sure that it is all about me. Let’s listen to my music, let’s talk about my problems or wins, let’s feel like I feel, and let’s do what I want to do. The irony is that in doing everything I can for me, I get lonely, depressed, and afraid. A rational thinker would think that if I did everything for me then things ought to work out better. But no! It seems the more I worry about me and my stuff the harder life gets.

Here’s a major announcement! Rationality, empowerment, and selfishness does NOT lead to happiness, peace, and joy.

You and I know people who come across as conceited, selfish, and me-centered. And how would you describe their general dispositions? Happy? Fun-loving? Giving? Forgiving and magnanimous? Willing to be transparent? Open to hugs? Able to sincerely love?

You are right! People who care for themselves too much can’t be close to anyone else. I suppose it’s a thing where a person is too much in love with themselves so they have no room for anyone else. But seriously, people who struggle with identity issues and security issues often also think, probably, too highly of themselves.

I want to be transparent and I want to be around giving people.

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Reading List

buksThis might be fun for you (and especially Tiffany, an expert!). I’m enjoying getting through this list. I’m sure I’m not exactly catching all of the nuances and significance as we zip through the list but it’s good anyway.

1. Homer Iliad
2. Dream of the Rood
3. Sophocles Oedipus the King
4. Dante Inferno
5. Mallory Morte d’Arthur
6. Shakespeare Hamlet
7. Cervantes Don Quixote
8. Paradise Lost
9. Voltaire Candide
10. Dickens A Christmas Carol
11. Wordsworth Tintern Abbey
12. Tennyson Ulysses
13. Hawthorne Young Goodman Brown
14. Joyce Araby
15. Yeats Second Coming
16. Yeats Sailing to Byzantium
17. Eliot Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

Not being well versed in classic literature, I still find this an enjoyable and challenging list of works to read and understand. I am struck by the darkness and despair in some of the works – it all fits, however, a human existence that many live without hope or principle. I’m also catching on how writing, heroes, and attitudes have changed through the centuries. It isn’t a surprise, of course, but to see the changes so vividly in literature is actually fascinating to me.

One generalization I will make – very early heroes tended to be honorable and somehow assumed a god would intervene (in a good or not so good way) in their human affairs. Later protagonists were more anti-heroes and instead of having, depending on, and assuming the existence of morals and ethics from the gods, the characters are often motivated by their own preferences and opinions even to the point of appearing to be self-crazy (Hamlet and Quixote, for sure). Interestingly, as the Renaissance and Enlightenment came along and Descartes said, “I think therefore I am” or “I am, I exist,” literature very much followed his lead in shifting from things godly and eternal to matters that were earthly and temporary.

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Fall Day

equinosmunFor a few days we will experience the same amount of sun up and sun down. That is what happens this time of year – the first day of fall. Whereas the summer had long sunny days and shorter nights, we are now transitioning into shorter sunny days and longer nights. For at least a few days, the days and nights are in some kind of balance – 12 hours of sun and 12 hours of no sun.

There seems to be some kind of cosmic rest during the spring and fall equinoxes every year. One comes after a long, hot summer and all of its outdoor activities and another after a long, cold winter with all of its indoor activities. During summer, the ground sizzles and pushes up budding life. In the winter, the ground freezes and insists that hibernation take place. Both summer and winter have their places in the cycle of life, don’t they? Both are essential. And lots happens during the summer and winter months in life cycles.

And yet, two times a year I like to think that there are just a few days to take a breather. A few days to, so to speak, sit back just a bit and reflect on time past and time future. Things are in stasis, of sorts. There’s a temporary – very temporary – peace between the rivals summer and winter. After all, lots of changes come after the spring and fall equinoxes. Things really pick up and rush.

But again, for just a few hours there is calm and serenity.

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Other End

Valley_of_the_Shadow_of_DeathCome stand with me where grief and experience is mostly in the past. Instead of talking and worrying about the future, simply come stand with me for awhile and get a feel for how things can end for some people. It can be said that I’ve made it most of the way through the valley of the shadow of death. That’s me at the other end standing in what seems to be a bit more light than shines back deep down in the valley.

You see, I don’t get too hyped up any more about how wonderful things can be and how amazing the future might be. I don’t disagree that all of that can happen for anyone and everyone, but I’m not quite as easily impressed with the possibility of whoop and awe as I was before. It doesn’t make me depressed or any less able to function, but it does – because of where I’ve been and where I am yet going – make me see things in a slightly more balanced way, I think.

Here, empathy and sensitivity is king. Making time is important and even vital. Thinking, praying, and being silent sometimes is often required. Heavy laughter and silly humor must be earned but so must real sadness and sincere emotion – highs and lows are not trifled with where I am standing. Time is better defined by eternal measures and less so by physical existence. Talking things out but listening intently in meaningful ways are now both very important. Investing in and building up equity in a few solid relationships seems the best way to proceed. And finally, it’s about being humbled, broken, and patient.

New life exists but it is earned with great cost.

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Guitar Lessons

DV016_Jpg_Large_519040_guitar_RFor a number of years, I have wanted to begin playing the guitar again. I last played when quite young – maybe middle school. I hiked down the block and sat in a man’s house for 30 minutes a week and, in the end, learned some basics and got pretty good with some classical and popular music. I guess life took over – sports, moving, work, and so forth. For a little guy, it seemed another thing that I had to do sometimes but, frankly, it was slightly pleasurable and I’ve never forgotten.

So anyway, a friend and I were recently talking and we both became motivated to take up guitars and, maybe, even begin some lessons. I’ve had my nice acoustic Yamaha guitar now for about a month. And I begin lessons next Mon at 12:30pm. I’m signed up for a thirty minute session every Mon for as long as I like. I’m actually looking forward to it though my fingers are hurting even now from plinking and bridging. Anyway, I’m set to go in and find out what comes back or if I need to start over. I think it will be enjoyable and fun.

It’s interesting. I was asked what form or type of music I would like to work on. I had to think about that for awhile. I said that I would like to get some basics down and feel comfortable around the guitar so I wasn’t in too much of a rush to find a form or type of music but that I think I would like to try working on the blues. The instructor smiled furtively and said, “We will get along just fine!”

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For It

logo-23I’m starting to go for it a bit more now. There doesn’t seem as much to lose and why not push and find out what happens? I’m not sure if it’s just me and my situation or if it’s my age or if it is something else but – more and more – I’m thinking that if I don’t push and find out if or if not then I will never know and what is the point of wondering if I have never tried?

I will say that, so far, there have been a few more ups and downs in moods and feelings but that comes with the territory, right? I’ve almost always been the safe, trusted, enduring, patient planner who is usually organized, in control, and ready for anything. Well, it seems a bit boring now, I think. And other than collecting up a bunch of personal equity, I’m not real sure what the point has been.

Don’t panic. I’m not planning to row a boat to Brazil with six women for two years or anything. But seriously. I have more time now to consider activities and relationships and, frankly, I don’t want to waste as much time as I did before on activities and relationships that seem more a sinkhole and less an investment. It isn’t as much about selfishness as it is about availing myself to opportunities and experiences that – for one reason or another – I’ve never experienced.

I’m going to press the accelerator slightly harder, nudge the horse a bit more, and attempt swimming upstream further. Let’s see what happens.

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Power Parable

pertpwrIn engineering, one of the most fiendish challenges is to be able to create an inexhaustible power source. Of course, it is physically impossible to create an infinite power source – an eternal battery! – but to create a reliable, small, and cheap power source that can last for not hours or days but for weeks or even years is the holy grail for people who build power sources. To have, for example, a battery of some kind that can run a cellphone for months without charging would change the world. Creating a power source that can run lights and appliances for weeks and weeks would be a venture capitalist’s pot of gold. Everything runs on something – and to find a way to create semi-perpetual power boarders on the fantastical.

But interestingly, it really isn’t whether we can build a storage mechanism to hold power. That is doable. Batteries can hold charges for years. What really is the question is how the power will be used, for how long, and at what rate. It’s not a question of storing power – it a matter of how it will be used and how fast.

This all sounds goofy to most of you – to me, it is fascinating. Anyway, the point is that it’s not about having power as much as it is about how we plan to use the power. And likely, there will never be enough power for our needs regardless of inventions and investments. With our insatiable appetite for more more more, there will never be enough for what we want.

A short parable.

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Being Ungood

boukeWe sure spend lots of time trying to be good, don’t we? Of course, to stop and think about what “being good” means creates all kinds of faith and existential issues, but we do it anyway. We always seem to be in pursuit of being “gooder” and even “more gooder.” We set an incredibly and impossibly high bar when we tell someone, “You need to work at being good.” I think it’s a hopeless goal and I think we are chasing fool’s gold.

As I get on down this road of life, I have pretty much figured out that the best I can do is my best and leave the rest up to God. And the gap between the end of my best and where God stands is huge! It is a gaping, enormous, Grand Canyon-sized gap between my goodness and God’s goodness. How silly to think that I can work hard at being good and somehow that is what is going to count. (Thank goodness for God’s grace, yes?)

Look, this isn’t about not trying to live as Jesus lived – and lives! But it is about learning that God can’t work through excellent, wonderful, inspirational, perfect people. Why? It’s because in people who think all of these things of themselves, there simply isn’t any room for God! After all, why would a wonderfully balanced, incredibly mature, amazingly stalwart, and profoundly passionate person need God? Sheesh – they have themselves!

God works in broken people and in their weaknesses. That’s where God shines. I prefer to be ungood and let God do his stuff in me, okay?

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