Sunday, March 22, 2009

Livin The Dream

There seems to be the idea floating around that we create our own luck.

If that’s the case do we also create our own blessing?

Are luck and blessing the same thing?

Luck is something we obviously don’t earn on our own accord, but is blessing so different?

I’m pretty sure that everyone reading this blog is incredibly blessed in comparison to the majority of the world. Just the fact that we live (in most cases) in North America (I had 2 readers from Australia last blog) means that we’re a few steps ahead of the majority of the worlds population. Not to mention the fact that if you’re reading this you have access to both a computer and the internet.

Did you do something to deserve that blessing? Do you ever think about how blessed you are?

Sure the economy is in the toilet, sure you may not have a job, sure you may not have money to both pay your bills and buy a new Macbook, but I’m sure most of us managed a hot shower (or bath, maybe like me, with some bubbles, some candles and maybe even some Epsom salts), a hot meal, or a drink of clean water.

Now this isn’t a plea for you to donate to World Vision or anything like that. Nor is it a confession of mine that I have come to place where I’ve realized that I should contribute financially to some third world focused charity, although maybe we all should. No, I’m writing this to confront, both my, and your sense of entitlement.

What have we done to deserve our everyday luxuries that most people never even get to experience once?

Have I worked harder than the majority of people in the world to deserve this life? Those of you who know me know that this is not the case at all. I’m pretty sure that if I lived in a village where the nearest drinking water was 10 kilometers away I would give up at the one K mark and make a deliciously tender meal for a pack of ravenous hyenas.

So am I just lucky?

See I think the major difference between being lucky and being blessed is that one comes with intention. I think we can all agree that, by definition, there is no intention behind luck.

Say it’s some ones birthday. Say you really want to bless this person. What are your criteria for buying them a present? For me it boils down to one thing.

Will this person appreciate the gift? I don’t mean will they be grateful for the notion of a present, I mean will they have an ongoing affection for the gift itself.

I truly believe that I’m not just lucky to have been born here; I really do consider myself blessed. I really believe that my life’s circumstances as a whole were not earned by me. If that’s the case, and I believe that I have been blessed, then who am I to be anything but grateful, and appreciative about my life?

I have been given many more things than I deserve. I am walking proof that grace is not just something God saves for when we die. I am a living testimony to Gods goodness, and abundance in a very tangible and current way, and I need to start acting like it.

Write a comment and tell me how you've been blessed.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Is "Lukewarmedness" a word?

In our world today consistency, longevity and loyalty all seem to be under appreciated commodities. I swear the only time I hear about loyalty is from drunken friends or sleazy mobbed up movie characters. The only time I hear about longevity is in regards to bands such as U2 or The Rolling Stones, and the last time I heard anybody talk about consistency it was in regards to the texture of a ball of slime in a cup of taro root bubble tea. Gross!

Is it just me or has our society some how lost its luster for these characteristics?

To many times I’ve seen people, particularly young people, discard Consistency for adventure, loyalty for freedom, or longevity in favor of opportunity.

But do these things really need to antithesize one another?

Does a person who is unwilling to commit to anything open themselves up to be whisked away by unforeseen opportunities that are on the horizon or do they limit their potential by being seen as flaky, and inconsistent?

There’s something to be said about randomly being in the right place at the right time, but I think there’s a lot more to be said about being chosen for an opportunity out of desire, as apposed to lack of options. I say there’s more to be said for that, but in reality those aren’t the type of situations we hear a lot about. They’re inherently less dramatic, and everyone loves a little drama.

Speaking of drama: in the bible it says God would rather we be either hot or cold towards him. In some translations it says that a lukewarm temperament towards God makes him want to vomit.

A bit harsh don’t you think God?

The thing about lukewarmedness is that it’s neither here nor there. It’s flaky. It’s noncommittal. It’s a pain in the a**, maybe not for the person being flaky, but for everyone else.

Being lukewarm ruins relationships, it ruins the things we have invested time and energy in, and it defiantly ruins reputations.

Maybe in Life the real adventure is seeing the things we’ve invested in through to a conclusion, maybe the real freedom in life comes to us via our reputation, and maybe, just maybe, the real opportunity in life is our relationships.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Meet "James"



“James” grew up in whales, but moved to Reading, Berkshire just west of London England, at the age of 11. Coming to a new school at that age always seems to be pretty rough. The fact that James was from Whales didn’t help things, neither did the fact that he had never known his father, or the fact that his mom only had one leg.

Kids can be really cruel, but kids at Catholic school can be down right malicious.

James was an only child and because of his moms missing appendage, and his complete lack of social skills, James spent most of his time at home helping his mom with various things around the house.

He’d had an amazing relationship with his mother Ariane. She was the only person he could talk to, let alone spill his guts to, so when she passed away, on his 21st birthday, he was utterly devastated. They had gone for a bike ride, but when her one pant leg got stuck in the chain, and her brakes failed, she didn’t have another leg to put down. She couldn’t stop, and went careening into an intersection where she was greeted by a truck carrying young calves that where headed to the slaughter.

James became a vegetarian.

James didn’t have very fond memories of school, and the thought of college was overwhelming to say the least. James had spent the 3 years since school dreaming of traveling and trying to save money by working at a local chip shop. Once his mother had passed James came to find a freedom he had never known. He missed his Mother, but all of a sudden realized that he didn’t have to worry about her. He no longer worried if she was able to get to the store for groceries (They had bought a 1961 Opel Olympia Rekord PII sedan, which only came in standard, and having only one leg, she was unable to use a clutch), or if she was able to get out to the rabbit coup to feed Buttons.

It started with James staying out late at the local pub, and even meeting a girl, but before he knew it James had sold the small 2 bedroom flat, cashed out his decent sized inheritance, and decided to follow his life long dream of traveling the world.

An amazing thing happened to him while James was traveling. People started to like him. He found himself constantly the center of attention. He would be surrounded by travelers in the hostel pubs telling funny stories about his mother, like the one about her being chased by a yorkshire terrier that wasn’t actually from anywhere near Yorkshire (you should hear that one sometime, hilarious). He was a great story teller.

Eventually James found himself in Australia. He was broke, but in love. He had been in the hospital for an appendectomy when he stumbled into the amputation ward and saw Sandy, a beautiful young diabetic who had just lost her big toe to an infection. James struck up a conversation and before you know it Sandy had quit her job, as a Receptionist at a wholesale meat suppliers called McWinnies Sausages, became a vegetarian and started to travel with James.

They couple eventually found themselves in Canada where James tried his hand at writing. James had tremendous success when a company agreed to publish his war memoirs under the Pseudonym William Jansen. This was done for two reasons
1. All of the stories he wrote in the book were told to him by a man named bill, whom he had met in while traveling in Greece. Bill had served in the 43 regiment of the US Army and,
2. Because James was only 5 by the time the war had ended.

James and Sandy never had any children. They live a comfortable life in North Vancouver, where James has become an avid Fisherman. In fact upon hearing from his publisher, and being notified that his book had been optioned for a movie, he went out a purchased a fishing boat that he named Ariane.

He opted for the twin engine model.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Greatness


I think most people who know me are aware of the fact that I love the pursuit of knowledge. Most of it entirely useless half facts, that either come from Wikipedia or A&E Classroom (which airs mon-fri at 1 am), but I do like to think of myself as an intellectual, all be it one with very little patience, and a very small attention span.

Some people know what they want. They want steak, and a lot of it. They want to get it from someone who knows all about steak; someone who knows about fat marbling; someone who, if they tried to order it well done, would scowl at them; someone who can tell them how it’s justifiable to charge 60$ for an 8oz Kobe beef strip lion (without any side dishes). I, on the other hand, like a buffet. Truth be told, I love a buffet, the more bastardly, the better, the more devoid of culinary heritage the more delicious. Sure a Chinese buffet is nice, but if I were to stubble upon a buffet, more mentally confused about its culinary origins than Tinky Winky is confused about his sexuality, I would be one contented consumer of culinary creations.

Sure Some BBQ Pork fried rice is nice. And yes it does go well with some ginger beef, and a spring roll, but maybe I want to start my meal with a nice sampling of Japanese sashimi, followed by a main course of Spanish Paella, toped off with the Frenchiest of desserts, the crème brûlée. Now I don’t know of a buffet that serves any of those dishes, and I sure if there was a buffet that did, none of them would be very true representations of these gastronomic giants

A Chef that makes pizza, burgers, sushi, Bouillabaise, and enchiladas is never going to be great at any of them. He may be really good. I’m sure Thomas Keller doesn’t make a bad spicy tuna cone, but it’s never going to be as good as one made by a man in Tokyo who’s being making sushi, and only sushi, since the age of 13.

I guess this is where I bring it back to myself, the one minute intellectual. Sure I can tell you a little bit about George Washington, like the fact that his teeth weren’t actually made of wood, they were made of real human teeth, which he bought from his slaves, but I’m never going to know as much as someone who devotes their entire life to learning about a toothless, opium addicted, and unfaithful man.

I’ve come to a realization about myself. I’m good at a lot of things. I may even be really good at a few things. Sure I can play you a drum beat. It may even sound really good, but it will never compare to Tony Royster Jr. even at the age of 12. I can cook you a steak. It will be delicious, well seasoned and cooked how you like (scowl free), but If you want a steak that will make you moan, I suggest Hy’s steakhouse. I can tell you useless information about turn of the century American mansions (A&E did a running special for 3 weeks). But in the end I just don’t have the patience for greatness. I’ve only ever found one subject that continually interests me to the point of wanting to learn more every day, and unfortunately it’s a subject that, by definition, requires humility, and therefore a lack of ability to obtain greatness in.

So maybe that’s one of the things I like about Spirituality, and the Bible, the fact that no matter how hard you try, if any successes is achieved, you can’t take credit for it, and therefore are under absolutely no pressure to achieve greatness. It’s not like you could if you wanted to anyway.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

A Year Older? Yes A Year Wiser? I Doubt It

An interesting thing happened as I contemplated turning another year older. It happens every year actually, so I guess it's no surprise, but I started to think about a girl I grew up with. I'm not sure how old I was when I met her for the first time, but I do remember the first time I became aware of her existence.

My birthday is in January, and that meant I was always one of the oldest kids in my class. Actually I was pretty sure I WAS the oldest kid in my class, I was pretty proud of myself for that. It gave me a false sense of superiority. It was as if we all had our pick of days to be born on and I, being the smartest kid in class choose the 19th of January. Early enough that i would be the oldest, but not so early that I was showing my greed and arrogance by being one of those obnoxious babies born on January 1st at 12:01 A.M.

Until one year. It was the day before my birthday. I was, I'm sure thinking about what my parents were going to buy me. I heard someone behind me say happy birthday. I turned around, and was just about to let this person know that, while I appreciated the sentiment, my birthday wasn't until tomorrow, and if they wouldn't mind just waiting until my actual birthday like everyone else, when to my horror I realized that this person wasn't talking to me.

They were talking to this girl that I think about every year, the day before my birthday. I was crushed. Utterly devastated.

For the next 24 hours all I could think about was the fact that this girl was a whole year older than me. Like somehow in this 24 hour gap she had somehow become everything I expected an adult to be. As if magically while she was 11 and I was 10 she had gained an appreciation for good wine, stinky cheese and Oscar Wilde.

Now to be fair I don't really know this girl that well. She has always been nothing but nice to me, and she even wished me a happy birthday this year.

But it's never been about this person. The reason I think about her every year is to remind myself that part of me is still that selfish little boy that gets frustrated for stupid reasons, and I need to grow up. I tell myself there's always gonna be someone better (or in this case older) than me, but that doesn't mean I should stop trying.

And I also wonder if one day when the two of us are old, she'll be siting there thinking, "I wonder how young Anthony Bookless is doing?".
Like somehow she'd be under the impression that in that 24 hour gap while she's 50 and I'm 49 that I'll out at a club partying with 20 year old girls with a drink in my hand without a care in the world; not responsible for anything, or, for that matter, even my own actions.

Somehow I doubt it, but I think we all seek a little revenge somewhere in life.