A Traveling Library

Life itself is a remarkable gift. I’ve lost sight of this fact at times. Times when I’ve felt burdened or sad, life has felt more like a trap. Perhaps trap isn’t the best word to describe exactly how I felt in those situations. Maybe lost is a better word.

Jesus offered salvation as a free gift and the idea of this free gift travels the course of the New Testament Bible. I believe that I am a saved soul. I never earned salvation, but I did fight like heaven to comprehend what salvation meant for my life’s story. If Christ is the hero of the tale then bipolar has proven to be the villain. Mental illness happens. Human beings can and do overcome its effects. Although the beast of bipolar will not be conquered or subdued without a battle.

Is not life itself a battle? Or perhaps the word struggle is a better choice. Enough about struggles and mental health issues; let’s get back to the present. The gift of life should not be squandered. A secret to enjoying life immensely is to constantly flood our lives with the good stuff in the world. I surround myself with good people and good books and positive attitudes and sentimental movies and the list could go on and on.

My favorite item to give away is a book. Books make for excellent presents! I pass the majority of my books along after I’ve finished reading them. Perhaps the gifts go on the shelf for years or maybe they’re read the very same week. That part is really none of my business or concern. The joy is in the giving itself.

If my life’s story was one enormous book then I’d hope at the final page you’d leave feeling happy. It’s not enough for me to hoard the remarkable gift of life. No, I must give it away in every way I can imagine. If we want to make our world a better place then we first must become better places. Throughout the course of this, my one remarkable life, I hope many that I cross paths with think of me with fondness when we’re no longer crossing paths.

The Christian’s job is to follow Christ Jesus. I aim to do my job to the best of my ability. A narrow road is worth walking and worth the struggle to follow.

A Happy Duo

Joy and laughter go together like a heroic duo. In the story of my life thus far there’s no longer time for pity parties where I’m the only guest invited. I aim for a happy life and I attain my goal daily. There isn’t enough laughter in our world. Equally true is that there’s not enough joy either. A secret to enjoying life is to forget about ones self and always look up.

The difficult business of choosing joy over sorrow requires perseverance. One must persevere and fight for the good in a world with a whole lot of bad. We cannot change the behavior of others; all we can do is change our own behavior. I choose a joyful attitude each new day.

I’ve been told before that I have a funny and memorable laugh. I laugh often so I have a lot of practice with the art of laughter. People ought to laugh like no one and everyone is listening. We all should fly our cheerful flags with enthusiasm. Enthusiasm and cheerfulness are contagious.

The heroic duo of laughter and joy has taken me far in life. Let’s look for the good in our world and our lives. If you cannot find a good friend then choose to be a good friend instead. If you are unable to find a kind soul then choose to be the kind soul to others. If you find it hard to discover joy then search even harder because it’s worth the seeking.

Authentic happiness doesn’t come easy, but it’s worth the struggle to attain it. I wish you all of the joy and laughter this day and the next and the one after that your soul can contain.

A Word that Means So Much in So Many Varying Ways

Freedom is a word that means so much in so many varying ways to all sorts of people. So today is the Fourth of July and tomorrow I have the day off of work in honor of today. I do enjoy three day weekends! Fireworks shows are also a good time. Although in the world of holidays I must confess the Fourth of July is not my favorite. No, I’m more of a Christmas dude.

Back to what freedom means to me. I would write about what freedom means to you if I knew I could supply the right answer. Alas, I know I cannot do that because you have your own mind and heart and soul and experiences. When I think of what freedom means to me it is a saving grace from my mistakes throughout my life’s story. It seems that many of us want to be better or feel superior to someone else. I don’t feel this way; the only individual I want to be better than is the man I was yesterday. I long to be more free and this longing is taking a lifetime of poor choices and wise ones.

I’m more free than I was once upon a sad time in my life when I was dealing with melancholy and undiagnosed mental illness. Yet, I long for more freedom still! I want to be free from all that separates me from a good life of Christian charity. The good fight of faith is the only fight for me. Others might think a life of faith rather odd and they might be right. I truly do dance to the beat of a unique drummer and I’ll never feel shame or sorrow for doing so. If I wanted to follow the crowd then I never would’ve chosen to follow the Christ.

Jesus was and is and always will be one controversial dude. It’s hard to follow him and his teachings. Yet I’ve found freedom in the following of the carpenter. Freedom is worth living for and chasing after.

Sometimes life seems like a fireworks show. We are all waiting for the big show to explode in bright colors before our eyes. Then, before any of us are ready for it to be over, it’s over. Afterwards most of us are in a rush to beat the crowd out of the parking lot or fairgrounds. I’m all about not being in a rush and simply relaxing while letting other cars go first and beat me out of the parking lot. Fireworks are set off every new day if we have eyes to see the good in life and in each other.

Cheers to freedom and whatever the word means to you!

The Journal of Adventures

After around thirteen years of travel my travel journal is now half way filled. This journal was a college graduation present from a dear friend back in May of 2008. It’s been to Rome and London and Dublin and Paris and Edinburgh and Tulsa and Boothbay and Destin and many other remarkable places. I love my travel journal!

The most recent destination was Destin, Florida with my parents and brother. We visited Uncle Ron and Ira Kaye and had an excellent time. While in Destin I got to enjoy beach walks with my brother and trips around town with everyone. We dined at the finest restaurants. I got some new Brooks Brothers shirts. Dad attained some new books. Mom and Dad acquired some new luggage. And a sunburn got ahold of me at one point in the trip. Oh, yes, and I even made some new friends in the hot tub and swimming pool area of the condo where we stayed for the week.

I wrote about some of this stuff in the travel journal.

It’s important to live in the present moment. I’m all for reminiscing about the joyful times in life. Although the past is no place to buy a home or take up residence. Equally true is that the future is no place to dwell or set up camp either. Yesterday is a memory and tomorrow isn’t promised. In this present moment I am at peace with myself and I’m reminiscing about my recent fun vacation.

We human beings perhaps do not write stuff down enough. This seems unfortunate because many of us are prone to forgetfulness. One of the aspects of writing that I adore is that it reminds me of where I’ve been and where I might still venture while bringing me great joy in the moment. I like writing because I want to understand myself more fully.

If you get a chance to travel then I hope you buy the train ticket or plane ticket or just hop in your car and hit the road. If you want to document your journey then drop a few dollars and acquire a travel journal. Twenty or thirty years from now I imagine I’ll look back through my journal of adventures and smile.

By the time I’m that age the journal will be all the way filled.

The Life Altering Hurricane of Love

It’s easy to dwell on problems and sorrows. It’s hard work to come up with solutions and find joy. A joyful attitude is inspiring and a great traveling companion through the heartaches and happiness on the dirt road of life. All of the problems I’ve ever had cannot conquer or overcome the one solution I’ve found.

Today’s sermon at zoom church through First Presbyterian of Carbondale was on the subject of love. I thoroughly enjoyed its message. If it were not for the life altering hurricane like force of love I would not by typing these words in this present moment. Love rearranged my life many years ago. A soul is better off not being fueled by hatred and bitterness. This is a lesson I learned the hard way.

Love and kindness are what we all need more of in our lives. To hell with pride and fighting. I fight the good fight against these foes. Love solves problems and heals the human heart. I could quote 1 Corinthians chapter 13 from my New Testament Bible, but one would be better off reading it for his or herself.

The one solution I’ve found for my problems is Christ. Following Jesus has saved me from so much and puts a new smile on my face every new day. Christ is greater than bipolar and anger and hate and thoughts of despair and self destruction. Christianity is a crazy story. Although a crazy story can also be a true story.

These are my Sunday afternoon thoughts on joy and love and a life of faith. A happy week ahead to all of you.

Show Up Happy

An old saying wisely states, “Showing up is half of life.” I try to show up when and where I’m wanted and needed. To be reliable is a good thing to be. Reliability matters in our work lives and our relationships with friends. If I fail to first show up where I’m needed then obviously I cannot complete the other half of that journey or day’s work.

Life isn’t all work and it isn’t all play. Although work can be fun and leisure time can feel like work at times. It’s fun to go on vacation, but it can seem like work to get to the destination. There’s work to be done at the office, but sometimes there’s donuts and fun joking around also. A secret to enjoying life to its utmost is to always seek to make the best of all situations with a smile added into the mix.

Writers can become discouraged with their writing routines because they feel like it’s becoming work instead of fun. In these moments the artist needs to remember that work can be fun and that their art is worth the time because of what it means to them and what it might mean to others. I aim to start showing up more often to my writer’s desk and comfortable chair.

Our stories are inside of us writers and I hope they don’t die there. Let’s not become discouraged with our writings or compare ourselves to those whom we believe to be finer artists. Let’s just show up! And then we can see what happens when we put in the work and the fun. If you have a new blog or story or poem idea don’t wait until tomorrow to get some words down. Today is the greatest day to begin.

Now I’m off to write a couple of pages on my latest short story because I’m trying to practice what I just preached. Happy writing to all of us!

Let’s Put on Some Fancy Hats

To feel appreciated is a truly wonderful feeling! I enjoy walking into a room and knowing that I have friends or friendly acquaintances present. Being a good friend is something I attempt to be great at. I did not have many friends during my shy childhood when my world was much smaller. As an adult I appreciate my friends and I always hope that our friendship lasts a lifetime.

On Monday I turned the age of 37 and my friends showed up for me in a major way. The Happy Birthday wishes were many and beautiful. The words Happy and Birthday go together like cake and ice cream. Some folks say that their birthday is no big deal or just another day. I say to hell with that nonsense and slice me another piece of cake! I hear one only turns 37 once.

May all of our days have wonder and beauty to them like my recent birthday. Look for the good stuff around you and you will surely discover it. Let’s not say it is just another boring day or a depressing Monday or a trying work day. Let’s make the utmost of all of our days.

Perhaps a reason friends showed such appreciation to me recently is because they know I truly appreciate them and their stories in my life’s story. If we want to have friends then we must first be friendly. Be a great friend to your friends.

Our birthday celebrations only come around once per year, but causes for rejoicing are every new day. Let’s put on some fancy hats and keep the party going. Cheers!

Read and Write On

Reading is my favorite hobby. Books have enriched my life in so many ways. A book can be similar to a map that leads one where she or he might like to travel. I read all sorts of stuff from graphic novels to novels to non-fiction memoirs and biographies to theology to young adult novels to the Holy Bible. I’ve been a lot of places from the comfort of my living room easy chair.

Words are powerful weapons. They can be used to divide or bring together. They can make you laugh or make you cry. They can be insults or words of praise. I weigh my words and attempt to use them wisely.

If it were not for the knowledge I’ve discovered through reading then I might not be typing these words tonight. Mental illness and melancholy were a couple of giants I fought against at a young age. I’m thankful for the right book at the right time and the life and joy that that book can bring forth.

Television is not a bad thing, but I think too much TV can distract us from better things. Smart phones are not a bad thing, but I think being addicted to them is detrimental to us. Reading a book takes more perseverance than many other pleasurable hobbies. That book isn’t over in an hour or two usually. Books make the reader pay attention if the reader is going to truly comprehend what they’re reading. Sometimes I struggle to pay attention. Novels and non-fiction help me out with this struggle.

Humanity can learn a lot from books and magazines and consistent reading. I’ve played the part of the fool in the past and way back then I did not have a love of reading. Reading is really more than a hobby for me. It is a thing I feel I have to do on a regular basis. I set a book reading goal on goodreads each new January and I often attain my goal by December 31st.

It’s commonly stated that in order to be a writer one must also be a reader. To this I encourage myself and all of us to read and write on.

A Mysterious Process that Hurts Like Heaven

Faith is mysterious. I grew up being taught about Christ and the Bible and not understanding any of it until I was seventeen years of age. The Christian faith will make a man out of a boy. As a teenager the Holy Bible taught me to take a difficult look at who I was becoming. I did not like what I saw in the mirror. I lost my smile once upon a sad time in my life; I smiled brighter than ever when I found it again.

It annoys me whenever preachers or so-called wise men speak as if a life of faith is simple or easy to live. Jesus himself described throughout the gospels a narrow and difficult path that was the equivalent of following him. It was hard for me to decide to follow Jesus. The process of being born again hurt like heaven.

Easter is coming around again on Sunday. Do the carpenter’s hands still have holes in them? This is up to the individual to decide. I’ve never been a pastor. I’ve attempted to live the life of a wise man. It took me from age seventeen to age thirty-three to complete the reading of the entire Bible. I didn’t hurry through the wilderness of the Old Testament. Honestly, parts of the Bible I don’t much care for at all. Yet I believe the carpenter’s hands still have holes in them.

Life is mysterious. I’ve learned much from books other than the Bible and I’ve learned a fascinating deal about life from others other than Christ. Against all odds, I am a Christian. I’ve fought against anger issues and low self esteem and mental illness in my lifetime. Melancholy is a foe of gigantic stature and I hope to never meet this Goliath again. I’ll have my slingshot and stones ready in case I do.

Embrace your life and its mystery if you believe in Jesus or do not believe.

Ideas for Free

Where do writers get their ideas? I recall a friend from church inquiring about this once when she heard that I liked to write. I was much younger in those days and I don’t believe I articulated an answer to the question because I did not know the correct response myself. At the age of almost 37 I think I’m closer to knowing the answer for myself and my scribblings.

Do you pay attention to the story of your life? A little wandering and wondering is good for the soul. Sometimes, however, it’s best to drown out the excess noise and truly focus on what is going on in our worlds. I try to pay attention to the small and large stuff in my life and to do a better job at being me with each new opportunity commonly called today.

I’ve written fiction stories before and realized years later how the story paralleled my own life happenings. At the time of creating the fiction I did not see or realize it at all. Many months later it became clear in my imagination that my imagination was influenced by non-fiction of my personal life story. In Creative Writing 101 it’s taught that one should write what they know. Although beginning writers might not realize how much they already comprehend and know.

Now the question remains. Where does the author get their ideas? The author attains ideas for fiction and non-fiction from anywhere and everywhere. Authors ideas come from the entertainments, heartaches, good experiences, bad choices, best choices, wisdom, folly, time and perseverance commonly referred to as life itself. My life writes its own words. The important step for me to take if I am to be a writer is to sit down, listen, and put in the time and work.

Writing isn’t always easy but it’s always rewarding. If we want to learn more about ourselves and how much we really know about our universes we should put the pen to the paper or our fingers to the computer keys.

Ideas are all around us. Let’s pay attention and tell some stories.