Friday, February 27, 2004

Given Up For Lent

I know very little about Lent. Sure I know that it is 40 consecutive days leading up to Good Friday, the 'anniversary' of Jesus' crucifixion. I also know that people 'give up things for lent'. Back in November Flasher Squirrel told me and my marathon travel mates about her various Lenten self denials.

So this year I decided to give up a few things for lent too.

First, I have vowed to give up clutter for lent. How does one give up clutter, you may be asking yourself? Well, I have decided to pick up 100+ things around the house. Every day! This may sound stressful, but you will be relieved to hear that I count picking up a bit of paper as one thing. Putting a dried fork away is another thing. Therefore, doing dishes is a very rewarding activity, indeed.

Just a point of clarification, however. Finding a dish in the living room and putting it near the sink does not count. To count the item has to be put in it's final home. The dish has to be WASHED and DRIED and PUT AWAY before it counts. Therefore, actually collecting and washing dishes is not quite as rewarding as drying and putting away.

I started practicing this Lenten commitment in January just to get a feel for how hard it was going to be to accomplish. The real deal (you know, Lent) started on Ash Wednesday. So far I have logged 110 and 128 things. Today I am up to only 38 things, so I had better get cracking!

Oh, and the other thing I am giving up for lent is having snacks at coffee time. Not healthy things like carrots and apples, but the over priced stuff they sell at the coffee bar. I already drink mostly water, so it is the snacks that have previously been my Waterloo.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Phone Phobia Action

I installed a new gadget to my Blog recently that allows me to see what kind of visitors I am getting. It tells me things like what browsers you are using, what links you are following to get here and what search terms you typed in to get here. Perhaps a bit snoopie of me, but then again, I am bearing my soul here so I want to know who is taking a peek.

One of the interesting things I have noticed in my page stats is how many people are arriving here by searching for varients of two particular key phrases. The first is Sara Freder Fake. On a whim, I subscribed to Sara Freder's 'service' to see what kind of advice she would give me. I made up a name and answered the questions as if I was someone else. It was amusing reading for a while, but there was SO much repetition. After I refused to pay a few times, I decided enough was enough.

On another whim, I decided to see what other people thought of Sara Freder by doing a Google search. I found some very serious people who, after being taken posted that she was a fake and a long list people replying with 'me too'.

Since posting the page linked above, I have received quite a few hits from people who I assume are also coming to the realization that 'she' (if indeed there really IS a Sara) is not what she pretends to be.

The second frequent Google key phrase hit is Phone Phobia. I was quite surprised at the amount of interest this term generated for my little blog. I only mentioned it once in a declarative post that wasn't intended to help anyone else deal with this fear. I can only guess at the reasons people are searching out information about phone phobia:

  • looking for fellow sufferers
  • wondering how common it is
  • searching for testimonials or successful strategies
  • looking for resources for a signifigant other who has this debilitating fear
  • just looking for some hope
  • or some other reason I will never fathom without it being told
Whatever their reasons, they ARE coming. And I thought to myself, "How can I facilitate these visitors and give them something worth come here for?"

The PBGs suggested that I put my money where my mouth is. They said, "you have been spouting off about Action all the time. Get busy buddy!". What? Follow my own advise? Are you crazy?

So They want me to face my own fear of phoning. I procrastinate. I prevaricate, I stall, I rationalize. They charge me to be the leader. The shining example. The call me to go boldy where no Star Treking Phone Phobiast has dared tread before (should that be 'dialed before'?).

If YOU are one of those visitors, please, please, PLEASE leave a comment for me so I can understand why you are coming. You don't have to identify yourself. And now, I have a phone call I have been putting off, so if you will excuse me...

Progress report

  • <DONE! Feb 24> - Phone the Space Sciences Centre Re: Boy's Group field trip
  • <Pending!> - Phone church to get permission sheets and put notice in bulletin
  • <Pending!> - Phone Parents (multiple calls!!)

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

One Step Back

7.6 Km, 38:03.7, Overcast 1°C, 5 km wind

I was thinking about The More, the IS, the cosmic power on my run today. You know, God. The thing that is more that just the reality that surrounds us. That additional thing, that mysterious unexplained factor that keeps us guessing and seeking.

In my thoughts I was questioning again. Is there really a More? After all I have gone through from the beginning days of the PBGs, the Adult Baptism, I still question my faith in God. Is there really more than what I can see and understand with my own senses?

So I take 'One Step back' on my faith journey.

Ok. So. No god here. Just me. That brings me back to one of my original questions, pre PBGs, doesn't it. Why am I here. What purpose is there that keeps me (literally) putting one foot in front of the other? Aha! The answer is right there in front of me. Even if I decide that there is no god (how rash!) I still need to believe that there is some purpose to my existence. It is easier to believe there is something worth living for than it is to live a life not worth living. Having no belief would cause me to despair and eventually I would give up. Hey, I don't like the direction THAT thought train is headed.

So, I step forward again. Ok. Maybe there isn't a god and I should just pretend I believe. If I am going to pull this off, I had better pick something that gives me purpose and that is not easily disproved because that would just leave me One Step Back (or perhaps even more steps back).

But wait! Now I have purpose. I am on a quest. I am in pursuit of the 'More' that makes life worth living. I can handle that. If what I have discovered in my pursuit of God is anything to judge by, there are loads of things I can learn just by chasing this mysterious God concept.

I step one extra step forward and decide that I believe in the More and use the God concept as my stepping stone to learn more about the mystery that is life and what makes it worth living.

In a word, I choose to follow God.

For more inspiring words about the 'More' concept, look into Marcus J. Borg: The Heart of Christianity. There is other inspiring/challenging/thought provoking stuff in there as well.

Thursday, February 05, 2004

Memory Palace

6.8 Km, 36:11.7, Sunny -11°C, calm

I Ran at lunch today and took a trip around the scenic Edmonton river valley. After puffing up a steep hill I took a breather at a bench in Ezio Faraone Park (actually the link shows a view that is virtually from the bench I am about to describe!) This quaint little park is very small and is dedicated to an 33 year old policeman who tragically was killed by two thieves he cornered in an alley.

Anyway, the bench I mentioned looks out over the river valley. On the bench is a memorial plaque remembering a couple who lived near by. The plaque said that they always admired the beautiful view from Ezio Faraone Park. I thought to myself, "Why do people bother putting up memorials like this? The couple are no longer here to appreciate either the view or the plaque."

I mean, after all, there are billions of people on this earth. Everyone thinks they are special and wants to be remembered. What makes this plaque so special?

The PBGs answer, "Well, the couple have surviving relatives, and it helps them remember the departed couple."

"Fine and good,", I respond, "but what does that mean to the rest of us who never knew this couple?" Ever patiently, the PBGs respond, "Lots of people admire this view. Lots of people remember lots of beautiful occasions and people. This memorial helps people revisit those good memories."

As I returned to my running, my thoughts turned to my blogging and to the book I am currently reading:

In this book, Mr. Sterling describes a 'Memory Palace'. This memory palace is a place to store all the accumulated e-stuff its owner collected over a lifetime. You decorate your memory palace like you would an office or a house, keep files, pictures, movies, and other memorablia in it. Actually, it sounds a lot like a blog to me. A very fancy blog with virual reality walls and a lock and key. Probably not a public blog, but who knows, you might invite people 'over' to your memory palace and show them some of your stuff.

I have been thinking it would be nice to have a virtual place to call my own. A place for my memories. A place to remind me of the beautiful views in the world.

With this blog, maybe I already have the start of one.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Consider a Change In Direction

10.5 Miles, 1:40:41, Overcast -23°C, 14 km wind, Wind Chill -32°C

It has been pretty cold with lots of wind; not conducive to running outside.Well, I managed to get two runs in the past 7 days. By myself for a change.

Not that I don't enjoy running with my running buddies... But...

It is hard to meditate when I run with others. As I tried to pick my way through the snow clogged paths and drifted snow, I also ruminated on my career path as well. The City was in the process of clearing the sidewalks, but often a stretch would be cleared and then the driver would double back and head off in another direction. Thus, I would choose what looked like a promising path only to have it abruptly become much more difficult to navigate.

I deliberately chose some questionable paths because they were headed in the direction I wanted to go. Sometimes they were better, sometimes worse than I had expected. At one point I was forced to run on the road and this path seemed quite unsafe.

All in All, it was a hard workout but I reached my destination in one piece with no frostbite.

Wendy Edey is a member of our church. She is also involve with the Hope Foundation of Alberta she has written and posted many articles about hope. She spoke to us in church this Sunday about hope and dispair. She told us that studies have been done that indicate that people usually don't hear good news. Wendy said that people, when told 4 positive things and 1 negative thing, usually remeber the negative thing and not the postive things. She also mentioned that 95% of the news we get is negative. If newspapers devoted an equal amount of space to positive news, there wouldn't be room for the advertising and the paper would be too heavy to carry.

Is there room in your life for some hope?

One of the things that also came out of my run was the idea that I want more than just a realationship with God. My meditation helps me speak with God and God speaks to me through my experiences, but there is more to love than that. The Spirit in me wants to speak to the Spirit in others. We are the expression of God. We are the story tellers. Without us God has no voice, no hands. I filter the God experience through my emotions, senses, life conversation. My expression of God wants to experience your expression of God. They are entirely different. Weather I am speaking to an reformed alcoholic, an Iranian man or a Chinese janitor, I still see the small voice of God within. I take the risk and speak.

The path is hard.

But I have hope that it is worth it.

...and faith

        O Jesus, you have looked into my eyes;
        kindly smiling, you have called out my name.
        On the sand I have abandoned my small boat,
        now with you, I will seek other seas.

Pescador de Hombres, "Fisher of Men." by Cesareo Gabarain