This year I’m turning 40. For some reason my mental and emotional energy has turned to legacy like it was the only thing that mattered. My daughters are both teenagers and my sense of concern for setting them up for success is at a level that I cannot describe other than desperately being concerned that they are prepared to leave the world behind with descendents (if they have children) that are prepared for life, too.
As a Christian man I want my daughters [and beyond] to know what they believe, why they believe it and what they can do to help carry this on to the next generation.
As a thinker I want my family (not just my daughters) to be able to reason through life and its events and interpret the world around them.
As an artist (musical or otherwise) I want to leave behind the proof of my existence and art. What are the words? Do they mean something? What are the melodies, harmonies and chords and rhythms? Do they bear the fingerprint of my soul?
I’m hoping to maybe dig a bit deeper into these things with future posts. I’ve been a bit lax on blogging, but I have a deep sense of need to commune and to leave a legacy, so here’s to some bits of me being shared here in 2017.
I’d like to get a sous vide machine (immersion circulator) and then I can sous vide all the things. But the problem is that I can imagine a situation where the following happens:
Daughter: “Dad, corn flakes don’t need to be sous vide.”
Me: “You don’t know that.”
Some time ago – back when I lived in Texas – I had food allergies and was allergic to wheat. One day my co-workers decided that we should go to Subway for lunch and I went along. When we got there I saw their sign advertising that they’d turn any sandwich into a salad. I really like philly cheesesteak, so I decided that ordering that cheesy goodness on a salad was worth the awkwardness. Once the salad was paid for I sat down and chuckled to myself. My co-worker Blader asked what I was laughing about and I told him that if I came back I’d order the meatball sub because that would be ridiculous. We laughed and moved onto other conversation.
The next day someone asked, “Where do you want to go to lunch?,” and Blader quickly answered, “Let’s go to Subway. Randy needs to order the meatball salad.” So we went. As I approached the counter I said, “This is going to sound weird but I’d like to order the meatball sub as a salad.” The guy didn’t skip a beat when he replied, “That’s OK, yesterday some person ordered a philly cheesesteak as a salad.”
What’s the most important thing you could be doing right now? It could be reading this blog (I’m skeptical of that myself). The book Essentialism (Amazon Link) is a focused book about the idea of doing just the most important thing. For now. The point is not that you can do more things, but that you can do the most important thing and, as the author Greg McKeown says, “less, but better.”
What I found the book challenged me to think about, that I’ve wrestled with for some time, is really putting some grey matter into thinking about what I really want to do with my life and then actually cutting out the things that are not that. Not to the harm of others, not to be ascetic or to be removed from the world around me, but to push forward in some way that will put a dent in history and leave behind something that is life changing for future generations. I suppose everyone searches for those sorts of things (or maybe not?), but the book has pushed me into considering the opportunities or commitments I have said no to, I have assumed as defaults, or that have me unnecessarily trapped. In short it has asked me to dig deeper into my thought life and sense of purpose.
So far I’ve basically come to the conclusion that I need to
- Work on discipline
I know it’s a short list, but the purpose of the book is to work on the most important thing. Which is singular, not plural, and is required to be the most meaningful thing you could work on. Discipline requires me to focus on less, but do better on the smaller list. So I will try to be disciplined and then we’ll see how we go from there.
About the book: I really enjoyed this book and recommend you consider getting it. There’s a lot of valuable perspective in the book and I think it will really challenge today’s modern workforce to say no more, but to get better work done. It will challenge todays relationships to be picky about their commitments so that the ones that they do have are extra rewarding. The audiobook is read by the author, and he’s quite listenable.
I won’t tell you my co-workers names. I could, it probably wouldn’t matter, but in this case I’ll use their Winnie the Pooh names. I’m thankful for them because they’re my comrades, we’ve been through the thick and thin and kept moving forward. I’m going to refer to all of them by their 100 Acre Wood genders to keep them anonymous(-ish).
I’m thankful for Eeyore. He’s a great, patient, plodding along character, even if he does have a rain cloud above him. He’s insightful, he’s dedicated, and he’s patient.
I’m thankful for Rabbit. Rabbit is studious, but he sure hates it when you mess with his stuff. He’s got a plan and you’re ruining it. But in the end he contributes a whole heap of goodness.
I’m thankful for piglet. Piglet plods along, unsure of himself, but definitely making progress. Piglet is definitely a loyal friend.
I’m also thankful for Roo. Roo is definitely fun. I like fun.
I’m probably Tigger. I could be wrong about that, but I tend to get super excited and want everyone to do what I’m doing. Let’s all go bouncing! Let’s play this game! Let’s use this project management system!
Christopher Robin is actually a combination of people at the office, but that’s good. I’ve found there are very few real one-person Christopher Robins.
I’m thankful for the full cast and crew. I even pray for them, whether they like it or not. Because that’s what Tiggers apparently do.
When I was a little boy my dad was building a house. One of the people he had hired to help with the house had a side business as a magician. He and his wife did a magic show for my birthday when I was little. I remember the wonder. I remember trying so hard to figure out the tricks. It wasn’t that I was a skeptic it was that I knew Henry couldn’t be magical because he helped build houses. Houses were like magic tricks then. If you could build a house you could build a magic trick, and if you could build a magic trick you could figure out the blue prints of the magic trick.
I remember even at that early age watching for things that were fast. Slight of hand that required me to blink or miss something. I didn’t see much that was a give away then, and I remember him not telling me when I begged for him to explain how the tricks worked.
Years later I got a magic trick set and a juggling set for Christmas. Marked card, plastic cups with a hidden chamber and foam balls were in the set. Also included were a rubber false thumb and “silk” handkerchief as well as a yellow rope/cord and a large metal ring. I quickly learned the trick where the rope would be tide to the ring and then be pulled off magically despite having been tied on twice. I had the blueprints. I didn’t have to figure out the tricks, I had to figure out the presentation of the tricks. I distinctly remember trying to impress my uncle Jim with some of the tricks that Christmas. He tried to feign enthusiasm, but eventually when I asked him, “Did you see how I did it?” He squirmed a bit and explained to me the tricks.
Magic tricks are rarely about the magic. They’re about the story. They’re about the strain and failure of the audience. You try to see how it’s done, but the failure to figure it out makes it more engaging. They’re like jokes: the non sequitur is really what makes the joke work. It isn’t the logical flow but the illogical flow that actually makes the joke funny. Your mind searches for the connection because you know the obvious connection isn’t right.
I’m thankful that my parents hired the Professor. I’m grateful that I had the chance to be surprised, wowed and educated at such a young age. I’m often please with the number of things I do remember. I subscribe to a ‘magic’ podcast to continue to learn tricks, scams and magic. I love being wrong, it keeps me wondering.
In what is going to be a multi-part series I’m thankful for my wife. When we first met it was at youth group. We were both pretty certain the other one was a dork. Some months later we met again and the experience was different. I didn’t have my drivers license so Jessica, who was younger, picked me up with our mutual friend Glorie and they drove me to youth group. Some time later I was in a band with some friends – we were called Wick – and Jessica and Glorie were our groupies. As I understand it they had it for our bass player, but after he broke up with Jessica I moved in to try to become her beau.
Jessica was smart, pretty, she laughed at my jokes (which I am sure were even more corny than they are now) and most importantly she loved the Lord. Her younger brother and my brother spent a little time together but despite that they grew apart and Jessica and I grew together.
My dad had always told me that if I kissed a girl I should do so with commitment so as to not rip my heart out a hundred times. So when Jessica and I kissed I knew I had a serious commitment to make. I had to be committed to her more than just a little bit. Not just boyfriend and girlfriend for 2 weeks.
I wasn’t ready to marry her that night [we were way under-age] and it took me a while to get up the nerve and plan to ask once we were of age, but I’m grateful for her maintaining those same qualities all these years. I tell my girls that we’re raising them up to be like their mom**. I hope they know how cool I think that is as a goal.
** they need to have their own personalities and not be just cookie cutter kids – but she’s a great gal and worth trying to emulate in many ways.
I’ve been neck deep in code for the last month. I started out with intentions of writing a thankful post every day (or close there to), but after a few weeks of not posting anything I hope you’ll understand that right now I should be coding to get a project shipping. I am going to try to get up earlier since staying up later leads to more work, but I do want to post here. It’s been a great outlet since 2001 or something like that.
I’m thankful that folks don’t complain to me about not posting here 🙂
I haven’t dropped off this after only one week, it’s just been a VERY busy week. I’ll try to spool up some more time ASAP.
Thanks for reading.
Friday’s thankfulness comes in the form of a friend who was one a student. When Jessica and I move to Texas to pursue seminary we came into contact with various folks at the seminary church (as told by yesterday’s post) and one of them was Vincent. He was in Jr. High when I first met him and when we left the seminary he was in High School. He, however, continued to call and email and stay in touch. Vincent has been a loyal friend for over a decade now. If you’re doing the math on that you’ve figured out that he’s an adult now.
Vincent has gotten up extra early to meet me for breakfast, stayed up extra late to chat and play video games as well as being up extra normal hours to go to work. I think I can say with confidence that I have spent more time on the phone with Vincent than any other adult in my life besides Jessica. And she only wins because she’s my wife. Vincent and I have talked a LOT. I think I may have diarrhea of the mouth sometimes, though, so it could just be me 😉
Vincent’s has a sixth sense for phone tag – he calls when I’m in the middle of something that wasn’t in my schedule like he’s a comic book ‘timing’ super-hero. He always lets me call him back, though. Word to his mother (Ice, ice, baby).