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nhjcfnhfc January 26, 2008

Posted by rengawman in Uncategorized.
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Sometimes I have that REM song go through my mind- not the one about “Shiny Happy People,” (which caused me to lose respect for REM) (And it was so sugary sweet that my teeth hurt… I do like that lady from the B-52’s though), but that other one, “Everybody Hurts.”  Here is the video of it: It is a great song, because, well, it is true, and it is something that we can all relate to- at one time or another we all hurt, we all grieve, and we all lose. It is simply a part of life, and a part of life that nobody wants, but in the transitory life that we lead, where everything comes to an end, that means that we all have to deal with loss.That loss that causes grief comes in several forms, and by various means. Maybe someone dies- that final good-bye is always a hard one. Maybe we grieve because we never got to say that good-bye and there is unfinished business. Death is not the only way that grief comes into our lives. We can grieve the loss of a job, or an opportunity- we can grieve the end of a relationship- we can grieve the loss of one thing, when we have made the choice for another. People can disappoint us, and we can disappoint others- we can even grieve that someone is in our presence that we would rather see go somewhere else!Grief is a slippery subject- it is hard to deal with because it is an emotion that requires a lot of time to work though, and a lot of energy to endure. When we are grieving it touches everything that we do, and affects the very way we live our lives.There is a funny thing about us human beings though that I noticed. I am by no means a psychologist, but I have lost people, jobs, opportunities, had to move- and I have had the privilege of being there for people when they undergo the same thing, so I have had some experience on both sides of grief. That funny thing is how we are built to handle it.I have to say that how we deal with grief is somewhat dependant on two things- the first is our common human nature, and the second is our culture. For instance, there are common ways that everyone deals with grief that are universal- common chemical reactions etc. But having lived in Italy for a few years, I know that there are expressions of grief that vary from culture to culture as well. For instance, a funeral here in the United States is always somber and quiet- an air of dignity. In Italy, the funerals I attended are always passionate events- crying and wailing, falling down. In some ways I think that is a healthier way to deal with grief rather than supressing it like we are encouraged to do- we are supposed to “remain strong.”I always worry when someone is “taking it well,” or “keeping a stiff upper lip.” One way or another that grief has to come out.There is an analogy that I like to use when it comes to grief- that of a septic tank vs. city water.Some people have city water when it comes to grief, but most of us, especially in the US, have septic tanks when dealing with grief. That’s right, I am comparing grief to… poo.A lot like grief, everybody produces it- nobody likes to, but we all have to, and it has to go somewhere. When we flush the toilet, I am sure we often don’t think about where the waste is going, but it has to go somewhere. (By the way, if you are thinking a lot about where it is going when you flush, you have a lot more than grief to worry about my friend!)The people that have city water flush, and it is gone forever- goes down the pipe, into the sewer, and far far away, to wherever the pipes go. People with city water never have to worry about it again- they just pay their taxes and move on with life.For the rest of us, we have septic tanks, when we flush that stuff down, it doesn’t go far away, it simply goes underground, behind our house. Certainly, it seems like it goes away, but in reality the waste is still there, and only buried underground. Left by itself, that septic tank, large or small, will fill up, and eventually overflow, filling your back yard, your basement, and smell up not only your house, but the rest of the neighborhood as well. If you don’t call the guy to pump out your septic tank, all that waste you produced in the last year or so will come back to haunt you.When we grieve, a lot of us have septic tanks. I wish I had city water, but I don’t. It is real easy for me to take whatever is bothering me, big or small, and just flush it down, hoping it will just go away. In reality, if I don’t deal with grief now, I will have to deal with it sometime, when my tank overflows.But the screwy thing is that this is how we are trained to deal with grief- to “be strong,” and to “take it well.” I think the Italians have something on us there, because there is absolutely NO repression when it comes to their grief. They deal with it then and there.What happens when we just flush it down into our septic tank is that one way or another we are going to have to deal with it, or it will eventually overflow, and stink up our lives. Even if we try and take measures to sit on the lid of the tank to prevent the overflow, it will eventually seep out the sides and over take our lives.Dealing with grief is tough though- nobody, and I mean NOBODY wants to take the lid off the tank and see what is really in there. It would be way too much- this is why we flush it in the first place.The septic tank is not a bad thing though- there is a reason we are built like this- namely the tank gives us time to think and to plan about what we are going to do and how we are supposed to react to that grief. I have heard it said that nobody should make life changing decisions after a major event in their lives- who knows to what extent the grief is affecting them. The septic tanks allows us to “store” our emotions and get our lives in order, so that we can deal with them later. The septic tank of grief gives us time to stop and think- to plan and to be rational- and then call the guy to pump out the rest of the tank. We are built this way so that we can take care of ourselves and love ourselves and others the way that we need to. Amazing how we are built huh?The fact is though, we have to deal with it sometime. No amount of alcohol, food, spending, work, or whatever, is going to keep the lid on that tank. It is going to come out eventually.So what do we do? In the same manner that we cannot (and would not) clean out the septic tank by ourselves (YUCK!), and would call in an expert to haul that stuff away, we need to seek help outside of ourselves to help us deal with grief. This returns us to our original problem though in our culture- somehow we think it makes us look weak.We are relational people- relationships are what make us human, and makes us imitate God. Only God and people are capable of entering into relationships- angels, monkeys, dogs- nothing else in the created order can do what we can in terms of relationships- it is one of the things that make us in the image and likeness of God Himself. (I will have to write a post sometime as to why angels don’t enter into relationships the same way we do, so save your questions for later).We have to rely on those relationships to help us pump out our tank- and before it overflows we need to sit down and find out if the relationships we have are enough to help us deal with what is in our tank, or if we need to form new relationships to help us. Maybe our friends and family members are dealing with their own grief about the same situation, and we can help each other to get it outside of ourselves. Here are a couple of ideas for relationships.1. Family and friends- hold a meeting with friends and family members who you trust, and who might be going through the same thing. Don’t be afraid to laugh or cry about something- it doesn’t make us weak, it actually helps to share the strength in the room. I have heard it said, share the bad and it is cut in half- share the good and it is doubled. Basically, form a support group using your friends and family.2. A support group- there are support groups for everything now- losing pets, loved ones, jobs, girlfriends, husbands- whatever. They are often free, and if you don’t have the ability to share with friends or family, there is nothing like getting some people who have gone through it, or are going through the same thing to help. Plus, if they are strangers who are they going to tell?! 12 step groups like AA or OA (or any variety of groups) are especially helpful if the way you are dealing with grief is through addiction.3. A professional- sometimes to clean out our tank we need a professional to come in with a truck and a hose. They have seen it all before folks- we have a lot of fear often that they will judge us, but a good pastor, counselor, or therapist can mean a world of change. Sometimes you just need someone who will listen.4. Writing a letter- no matter what we are grieving, the emotions are swirling around inside of us like a whirlpool- try and get your hands around it, and you will just get wet. It is as futile as trying to grab water. We need to get those feelings outside of ourselves, make them tangible and real, so that we can really see what is going on inside of us. We may be surprised at what we find when we open the tank and look in. Writing a letter is like pouring a bag of concrete into the whirlpool. Eventually it hardens, and you can get your hands around it, and even see what is going on. Writing a letter makes it real- you don’t need to send the letter (in some cases I wouldn’t recommend it if you are particularly resentful about something or other). If the people involved are alive, burn the letter after a week so they don’t ever find it. Maybe the person is dead- you can still write them a letter. Be honest above all… you will be suprised at what you might find!Some of these things seem like common sense. But when we are grieving, common sense doesn’t always apply! That is sort of my point- the reason we have these septic tanks in the first place is so we can be rational about how to deal with what is inside, even if it isn’t pleasant. The grief tank isn’t a final solution, but a stop gap so that we can develop healthy coping mechanisms, and live a life with a clean basement and a fresh smelling house! I am sure your neighbors, the people in your life and work, will appreciate it as well.


Keep your Focus January 19, 2008

Posted by rengawman in Humor with a point, life, Motivation, philosophy.
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Diversity is death… that is a saying that I heard once at a conference a few months ago. lack of Focus is dangerous… It got me to thinking about a professor I knew in Rome. I can’t remember her name (which is probably a good thing) but I knew that she taught philosophy in English to a few English speaking students in town. I never had her myself as a teacher, but met her in a coffee bar in one of the universities I attended in Rome.

I was startled to hear how badly she spoke English- I knew she taught in English, and as I tried to strike up a conversation with her, her english just seemed to get worse and worse. Her accent wasn’t quite Italian, and it wasn’t quite German, nor could you say it was Spanish or French. I couldn’t figure this lady out really, even though her blond hair gave her away as something of the Teutonic variety.

Me fail English? That’s un-possible!

I asked her if it would be better that we spoke in Italian, as I figured maybe since she lived in town, her Italian would be better than her English. Just about anything would have been better than her English. So we switched gears into Italian, and I was started to find that her Italian was just as bad as her English. Finally, we switched into some broken Spanish (my Spanish was rusty at this point) and again, I was amazed to find that I spoke better Spanish than she did!

It turns out that she spoke 8 lanuages! And none of them well! I asked where she was from and she said Germany, but that her German wasn’t even all that good. I asked her what she spoke well, and she replied that English and Italian were her two best languages. She had apparently moved around a lot as a kid, and picked up a bit of everything as she moved.

I guess we can all be like that at times- Jack of all trades, master of none. But it is an expectation in our culture that we multitask- that we keep as many plates spinning as we possibly can without letting any of them fall. And there are plenty of people who are waiting for our plates to fall! The expectation is that we are supposed to be good at everything we do- be good soccer moms and executives- be good dads and football coaches- be members of the church and work and community- have a thousand friends who we write thousands of Christmas cards to. It can be maddening I tell ya!

But I often think of that professor in Rome- she couldn’t really speak any language well, and our conversation turned into a mismash of English, Spanish, and Italian. If we lose our focus, we will certainly be destroyed, simply because we can’t keep all those plates spinning at once.

Um… what a strange passtime

I once had a similar experience- I once took 22 credit hours one semester in college- studying 3 lanuages (Latin, Greek, and Spanish) in addition to all the philosophy credits I was expected to take. I didn’t learn any of those languages well, and I would have to say that by the end of the semester it was even hard to get my English straight! (I remember my friend jabbing me with a friendly insult, and all I could do was stare at him, because no coherent English words were going to come out.)

If we lose our focus and diversify our life so much that we spread ourselves thin, all we are going to be able to do is to stare at someone when they need a response. The same is true in our professional occupation as well- McDonald’s used to have good hamburgers, until they spread out into salads and chicken and cookies and all the other things that they do. If they focused on being the number one hamburger maker, maybe it wouldn’t turn my stomach so bad when someone suggests it as a nice pit stop on a trip.

Yuck… sorry Ronald

We can simply keep pulling the lever and hope for a jackpot- the reason slot machines work is because it is hard to take three diverse things and line them up!

So the solution is that we need to streamline our lives a little- understand what is important to us so that we can be a good focused person, and help the people around us. That means saying “NO” sometimes- that means drawing and keeping our boundaries with people and with ourselves. It means cutting out the fat and not sticking too many “irons in the fire.”

There are five areas of our life that we need to maintain- Spiritual, Intellectual, Physical, Professional, and Social. Those are the five necessary components to being a happy person, and yet we have to prioritize even those areas. Setting short term easily attainable goals in each of these areas, and cutting out the fat when necessary will make us a well rounded person. Even then, there are times in which one of these will take president over the others. We have to make sure that we are maintaining a balance in all of our lives.

Think of it like food- when I get a plate of food I might have a piece of meat, a potato, and a vegitable. Rarely do I try and eat all three at once- I like to enjoy the individual flavor of each- to mix them takes away from the flavor of each part of the meal. In the end we have to know where to quit and when to say yes. I would recommend a book by Seth Godin called “The Dip.” You can find his blog here: http://www.typepad.com/t/trackback/2123/17470696

If we stop trying to spin 10 plates, it may be easier to spin 5- now we just have to decide which plates to stop from spinning.

The Flabbergasted Philosopher is moving! January 8, 2008

Posted by rengawman in Blogroll, Events, Motivation, philosophy, Theology.
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I have enjoyed wordpress so much folks that I have installed it into my own domain (thanks to the help of “the Shadow,” a guy who works for wordpress).  So for now I will be moving my blog over to www.totalpossibility.com/blog.  The new posts will be there, but I will let the old posts remain here until wordpress.com gets tired of me.   (I will find some way to move them over.)

18,500 Visitors!

As of today, January 8th, 2007, I have had over 18,500 visits to my blog.  Not too shabby for a blog that is less than 6 months old! (totalpossibility.com isn’t far behind that!)

This blog has brought world peace! (OK that is a lie)

So far this blog has reunited me with old elementary school classmates, introduced me to new and exciting people, solved world hunger, and eliminated the threat of nuclear war.  Who knew a blog could do all that?!

 I am also changing the name of the blog to simply “Total Possibility,” to stay with my website’s theme. (Don’t worry, I will eternally be Flabbergasted… I hear there are pills for that…)  There will be more exciting changes to www.totalpossibility.com as well. (As you may have seen if you are a regular visitor there.)

 I will update the main website when I update the blog, so there will be regular updates to both totalpossibility the website as well as archives in the blog, so you can go to either.


Some other exciting stuff coming is that I am going to expand my blog out to some other, hand picked contributors so that there can be more of a variety to the blog on some various topics.

 In addition to that, I am planning to start a podcast, which is one of the reasons that I am moving the blog. (wordpress.com doesn’t as easily support podcasting vs. if I have it installed myself.  That podcast will not only be me yakkin’ but other contributors as well.

So go and visit www.totalpossibility.com, and help me out by clicking on some of the google ads that I have there. (I don’t pick that content by the way… google puts up there what it dang well feels like, so if there is something weird, blame google) (I try and find some way to blame google for all my problems)  It’ll only take a second of your time!

 Tell all your friends and neighbors, cats, and dogs, heck, tell that creepy guy you saw at the movie theater last week!  There was a guy who used to come into the movie theater that I worked at in High School who looked like Elvis.  Mean guy actually.  Cool hair though.

 Joshua Wagner S.T.B., M.A.
Founder, CEO, President, Mail Clerk, and Dog Trainer to:
 Total Possibility LLC
(OK there aren’t any dogs) (There are a couple of stuffed monkeys).


The Cartesian Compromise and Its Problems January 4, 2008

Posted by rengawman in philosophy.
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So I thought I would return to a little more hard core philosophy after all this talk about ducks.

I read a little philosophy every day.  I read just a little simply because I want the concepts to be able to sink in that I might be able to think about them and examine them.  I would still have to say that for the most part I remain an Aristotelian and  Thomist, although a few of those views are beginning to change.  That is simply the paradigm by which I approach most philosophical concepts.

So these days, I am doing a little self review of philosophy in the modern period.  I am doing that by simply reading 5 pages or so a day of Copelston’s History of Philosophy every day.  Again, I only read so little because I like to read every day, and I want to make sure that I don’t miss any concepts.  It is sort of like doing math or logic too quickly and leaving out a tilde or a negative sign.

These last 2 weeks or so I have been reading about Des Cartes.  To sum up Des Cartes in a nut shell, he began his philosophical inquiry by denying knowledge about anything- he did not deny knowledge per ipsum, but he denied anything that could not be proven without absolute certainty.  This is where the “cogito” statement that everyone knows comes from.  Cogito Ergo Sum to be exact.  The only thing that Des Cartes could not deny was that whether or not I know what I know to be true, whether or not I am being deceived by some greater power, like a demon or an unjust God, the fact remains that I am here to be wrong or to be deceived.  That, for Des Cartes, was an incontrovertible fact.  From there he built a metaphysics which was based on the certainty of Mathematics, of God, who must be the source of our concept of infinity (since we ourselves must be finite, the idea of the infinite must come from somewhere itself infinite, which must be God).

Some of the things that Des Cartes had to contend with was physical matter and its relationship to the metaphysical beings, such as mind, or God.  I think this has been a problem for every philosopher who admits a metaphysics, whether you be Platonic, Cartesian, Aristotelian or Thomistic.  How does the immaterial interact with the material?  That is the simple question.  I think it is a fascinating question myself that has ramifications into ethics, epistemology, as well as politics and society. 

For the Thomists and Aristotelians, they (I guess I have to make a qualified “we” there) talk about the interaction in terms of causality.  We look at the four causes, efficient, formal (metaphysical), material, and final causes.  Causality is what links the material to the metaphysical in this system.  Basically, in the substance of man, the soul and body are one thing with logical distinctions.  The soul is the formal cause of the body, and when the two are separated by death, the body ceases to be animated.  The material cause, or the mechanism which works on the material end, is the body itself.  In this system, the formal and material causes are intrinsically linked.  It is almost as if to say that there is only a logical distinction between the two.  The key word here is substance.  In the substance which is man there is a unity between formal and material causes, which is the thing in itself.  For these philosophers, the body and the soul are really only complete and functional when they are together. 

For Des Cartes, however, as for the Platonists, we seem to be souls stuck in bodies.  This process of learning something for both of them, is simply a rediscovery of innate knowledge that we already have.  There is a sort of hostile relationship between body and soul for the two of them- and for St. Paul in Romans Ch 8 by the way.  (Paul was a Platonist).  For these two philosophers, one could conclude that the soul is more at home when it is by itself and not weighed down by the body.  It is then free to remember all the things that are innate to it.

For Des Cartes, his compromise was to say that the human person (however you might define it) is really two substances.  There is the immaterial substance of the mind, and the material substance of the body.  So instantly, he changes what was traditionally thought by the Aristotelians and Thomists as substance. 

So how does a substance without extension (i.e. immaterial) interact with a body with extension (i.e. material).  For Des Cartes he says, for some odd reason, that the point of interaction was the pituitary gland. Why there and not the brain or the body? 

In reality, I believe that this is a problem for the Thomists and Aristotelians as well, although because of their definition of substance, it isn’t as much of a problem.

For the next couple hundred years, the philosophers tried to figure out this interaction between mind and body, and I think we are still working on it today.  Why is it that when I will to move my finger, my finger moves?  How are the perceptions that I am recieving though my senses getting transferred to my mind?  Are they getting transferred?  Am I really percieving anything?  What is it then, that I know?

One of my favorite follow ups to the Cartesian Compromise, and its subsequent problems is the philosopher Malebranche.  (I wrote a paper on him in College).  Malebranche basically states that our willing to move our finger is simply the occasion for God to move the material finger.  For him there is no interaction between body and mind, rather the point of interaction becomes God himself.  This is called occasionalism.  In occasionalism, if there is any interaction it is simply God allowing the movement that we will.  There are two problems with this: one- if we do something “immoral” with our bodies, it is because God made it happen.  Moral implications there!  Second is that you have the same problem- if God is immaterial, how can HE interact with the material to move it?  That must mean God himself is part material.

Hobbes takes the extreme approach and says that there is no metaphysics- everything is just motion without any real rationality.  But experience tends to tell us that there is immaterial things, like mind and spirit.

 These days I am rethinking some of my previous notions of metaphysics and substance.  While I still claim to be a Thomist and Aristotelian, I believe that what Des Cartes has done (and what philosophers have been contending with ever since) is to raise a very important question about the nature of… well… everything.

The mind is very very powerful- when it is focused, it can make the physical body do just about anything.  It can move mountains!  I think that there are a lot of ways that the interation between the material and immaterial are being explored through fields such as quantum physics, which has opened the doors to all sorts of new theories and philosophies of the interaction between mind and matter. 

I think that the material and immaterial interaction problem has been a constant one since the beginning of philosophy.  As I have said in previous posts, I believe that the solution is to return to an exploration of being itself.  Of course, the question must be asked if it is even possible to know being in itself and its “nature.”  (I guess therein lies the problem).  I am not sure how to do this at all. 

 Any ideas?

The Big Red Button (Accepting the Consequences of our Actions, the 5th Duck) January 3, 2008

Posted by rengawman in Humor with a point, life, Motivation, philosophy.
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Recently, that is, in the last few years, Staples, the paper and office supply company, had an advertising campaign where whenever someone pushed a big red “Easy Button,” office supplies would magically drop from the ceiling.  Whenever I see those commercials, and the big read button, I curl up into a ball and fall on the floor.  Maybe I even cry a little bit.  See, I have a thing for giant red buttons… PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). 

When I was about 12 years old, my Dad got transferred with IBM from our lush, expansive, peaceful, serene, and tranquil farm in Elida, Ohio, to the big bustling city of Dallas- Ft. Worth Texas, where IBM had its education center, and a hub for a big portion of its computer network.

I’ve Been Moved

Routinely, I would go to work with my Dad, and I would either spend hours playing with hole punches and staplers, or he would set me up at a computer where I could enter the world of computer role playing games, like Space Quest, or King’s Quest, which were popular at the time.  World of WarCraft has nothing on King’s Quest III if you ask me.

One of these times, we were in the big mainframe room at one of the centers in Irving, Texas, where the IBM education center was.  This room was expansive- so much so that if you threw a baseball, I doubt you could get it from one side of the room to the other.  OK, I can’t throw a baseball from home plate to first base, but you get the point! 

 This room was filled with huge mainframes, tape machines, terminals, and always had these gigantic air conditioners on keeping the whole place nice and cool.  My dad found me a workstation and I began to solve the puzzle which was King’s Quest IV.  I didn’t like that one because you had to be a girl, unlike the previous couple of King’s Quests, but I was content to play it anyway.

I got into the game, and began to realize that I needed to go to the bathroom.  I waited for as long as I could, and the pain told me that we had a critical situation brewing.  So I went over to my Dad and told him of my dilemma.  He pointed out that the bathrooms were around the corner outside of yonder door (pointing to yonder door).  He told me that when I wanted to get back in, I had to push the button beside the door (which was probably some kind of door bell.)

I had to go to the bathroom so badly that my brain was floating, and some of the instructions that he had given me may have been misinterpreted… so I walked over to the door and saw a button.  All I could remember was to push the button.  The button was large, and red, and had a plastic cover over it… kind of like the kind used to launch nukes in a movie.

I shrugged my shoulders and lifted the plastic cover, and pushed the big red button.  All of sudden, the lights in the big room went off, as did all the computers, as well as the air conditioners, terminals, coffee pots, Ferris wheels etc.  I had pushed the emergency cut off switch for the room.  Not only that room, but three of the buildings it was connected to.

All I remember is my Dad looking up in horror and asking me what I did. 

I still had to go to the bathroom, so my Dad walked me down to the bathroom where I stayed for the next couple of hours.  You would be surprised at how much flushing toilets can entertain you after awhile.

To this day when I see big red buttons, I feel nervous and anxious like I did that day.  Shortly after, IBM issued a memo that family members were not to be in the building.  Luckily, it was a Sunday, so it didn’t disrupt commerce too much, although several guys had to be called in to reboot the buildings I had shut down.  (Dad didn’t get fired by the way, although he came awfully close.)

Whether we mean it or not, choose or not, intend it or not, we have to learn to live with the consequences of our own actions and choices.  As creatures of free will, we are given the ability to make hundreds of big and small choices every day, one choice affecting the next.  In our culture, it is very easy to try and escape the consequences of our own choices.  That is a choice in itself, and eventually, we will have to face up, one way or another, to the choices that we have made.

It is impossible to escape consequences.  We can’t simply wait for things to work themselves out, as inactivity and indecision is itself a choice that we make.  Living with the consequences of our actions can have both positive and negative effects.  However, we are not ever bound and determined by choices we have made in the past.  That is just because we made a choice that got us here, or into a particular situation, or set of circumstances or consequences, doesn’t mean that we have to make those same decisions in the future.

Nor does it mean that we have to be determined by the consequences of other people’s actions.  What it means is that we must take responsibility for every choice we make, both good and bad, active and inactive, and work within the particular outcomes of each choice.

I didn’t mean to push the wrong button that day, but I did.  I had to accept and live with the potential consequences of that action.  I could have either faced them, or run away from them, but either way they would have caught up with me.

It is easy in our culture to try and run from consequences.  We have a lot of means at our disposal for doing that- drugs, alcohol, work, titles, uniforms, relationships.  Using these things to try and hide from consequences will only lead to more dire consequences in the future.  The key here, as I mentioned above, is acceptance.  Accepting what we have done in the past, understanding where it has brought us, and attempting to make better, more educated choices in the future.

There is a reason this is the last “duck,” that we need to put in a row- simply because it is the duck that is the culmination of the other 4 “ducks” that came before it.  If we understand our self worth, if we understand our need and fulfill our ability to love and be loved, if we defend ourselves, and deal with our own inner confusion, the consequences in every area of our life will be good, more or less.  We will be able to handle any consequence that comes along because it is itself the consequence of putting our ducks in a row.

If we don’t put those other 4 “ducks” in a row, we will have other consequences to deal with- being unhealthy- being scattered- never taking responsibility for our actions and trying to correct ourselves and stay on course.

This requires a lot of work to “keep our ducks in a row.”  Constant work, but the consequences of that work, of self examination, of proper love of self and neighbor, will itself lead us into good healthy decisions and consequences.  So what we have to do is to accept where we have been, and use it as a jumping off point for where we would like to be.

Are your ducks in a row?  Do you understand your worth?  Do you love yourself and others?  Can you defend yourself in a proper way?  Where does your inner confusion lie?  Do you accept the fact that you are where you are because of choices you have made?  I know that personally, I have only been putting my ducks in a row in the last couple of years, and it requires a lot of constant work and vigilance.  The consequences are worth it though.

Stuck in a Car Wash! (Dealing with Inner Confusion) January 1, 2008

Posted by rengawman in cars, Humor with a point, life, Motivation, philosophy, Theology.
Tags: , , , , , ,
1 comment so far

Oh this is a great story…

Last year, during a cold snap in February, the roads were covered with salt, which meant my car, Lucy, was also covered in salt.  So on my way home from a friend’s house late one night I was concerned for Lucy and the many layers of salt she had on her, and before acrewing a new layer, I figured I would give her a quick run through the car wash.

Now I understand the absurdity of the idea of washing my car in below freezing temperatures, with salt coating the roads, and having to avoid the army of salt trucks I saw on the way home, but for some reason it seemed like a good idea. So I went to one of those “touchless” car wash, put my credit card in, the door opened and I pulled in, business as usual. The car wash ended and I am sure Lucy looked nice and clean. When it came time to leave, the garage door in front of me wouldn’t open, and the one I came through was closed… so basically, I was trapped. I got out and pushed the emergency release button, and the door was still shut.   Frozen solid!

I was trapped…
I was trapped… there was no door to the outside for humans either, and since I have not experienced the resurrection, and I am not GOB or David Copperfield (the fictional character nor the magician) I could not walk through the walls, and I felt a certain sense of dread come over me… Plus, inside the touchless carwash there is always water shooting from all directions, so to get out of my car was like walking through an obstacle course of water. At one point I was standing there thinking about what to do for a minute, when I realized that one of the streams of water was hitting the upper part of my right leg which I didn’t feel for about 30 seconds, as the water was also warm… I don’t have to tell you what that looked like… or felt like, as the water was very warm. Plus there was steam everywhere which fogged up my glasses. I was in a bad position. I did begin to laugh at this point, and realized how funny the situation was. THEN I moved out of the way of the stream of water. HA!!!There was also no phone number posted to call, plus it was 10:30 at night. Anyway, I walked over to the other adjoining carwash chamber (great descriptive word there) (reminds me of the carbon freezing chamber from Star Wars), and I hit the release button for the garage door and that one opened. Instantly the steam increased 3 fold as it contacted the arctic air outside, and I must have looked like an alien emerging from the belly of the space ship.

Too bad nobody was there to see it. So it’s cold wet and steamy, and my pant leg was drenched but I had my sweet freedom. Except Lucy herself was still trapped. I called a number that I finally found and left a message for “Greg.” Greg never got back to me, so I went back into the car wash, backed Lucy up to the back door, went around and bought another car wash, which opened up the back door and I backed her out into the cold, again in the midst of all is steam, Lucy emerged. Great story huh?

There were moments while I was trapped in that steamy mixture of cold air and hot water that I just didn’t know what I was going to do.  I was terrified at moments that I was going to have to spend the night in the middle of the car wash.  Did I call 911?  If I did, was it enough of an emergency and would I get in trouble?  Worse yet, would the cops get there and just laugh at me?  Talk about inner confusion!  I was at my wits end!  There were seemingly a thousand options that I could have pursued in securing my freedom, and none of them seemed adequate.  Plus, once one door opened (literally!) all the other ones in front of me were still closed.

The cops would have laughed at me…

I think this is a great analogy to how a lot of people view life.  They are in situations which baffle them- really it isn’t the situation that baffles them, rather it is their own interior confusion that makes life-situations baffling to most people.

All of us deal to some extent with inner confusion.  A lot of us like to avoid it because it makes us feel uncomfortable in our own skin.  We are sort of like that car wash in some ways- like the water that was squirting in all directions, clouding up the cold air with steam, so we are often a flurry of emotions, thoughts, fears, rationalizations, and any number of things that “fog up” our interior “lenses,” and prevent us from understanding who we really are, and what we need to do.

Inner confusion

Dealing with this confusion is a basic human need.  All of us get stuck in the car wash from time to time.  Maybe we can relate to my little foible in the car wash last year- we know we are stuck in the steam and the sprays of water, closed behind doors that won’t open due to our choices or circumstances, and we are too embarrassed or afraid to ask for help.  I was afraid to call the police to get help because I figured they would laugh at me.  Maybe some of us are ashamed about our own inner confusion and rather than seek help and be ridiculed or hurt, we prefer to spend the night in the chaos of our own “inner carwash.”

Eventually, I took the time that night to think my way out of the carwash, and if we take the time, calm down, and really begin to look at our inner confusion, both the causes and the effects, we may just figure out a way to free ourselves from the bondage of our own inner confusion.  That takes work- it also invariably requires another person, or people to help us.

The first requirement is a relationship with a Higher Power.  God made us, he can help us to figure out what is going on inside of us.  He can calm us and give us a new perspective on our own inner confusion.  Really we are wonderfully designed, and what seems like chaos to us is actually working properly.  Going back to our carwash, the streams of water, the steam, and all the other elements of the confusion car wash told me that everything was working properly!  It just seemed confusing to me!  Once I figured out the glitch, I was free in a matter of minutes.  Often what seems confusion to us is confusing because of a matter of perspective.  God has the ultimate perspective on how we are supposed to work.  Unlike “Greg” at the car wash, when we call on him he will come and help us fix the problem.  We have to call Him first though.

Second, we need a community of support.  Maybe that is family, maybe it isn’t.  Maybe it is friends or a support group.  The first step to managing the seemingly unmanageable inner confusion we all face is admitting that we might have a problem, or a glitch in the mechanism.  Once we do that we can go to people that can help us.

As I have mentioned in other blogs, you can’t see your own face without a mirror.  We need someone outside of ourselves to be vulnerable to- both human and divine, that can help us sort out our inner confusion.  This is an ongoing process if we want to be happy and free.

Of course, there are inappropriate ways to deal with inner confusion as well- avoidance behaviors that try and suppress the inner confusion we all face- Drugs, alcohol, bad relationships, or any number of things.  These things not only are ineffective against suppressing our inner confusion, they make it worse.

In the end of the day, we simply need to make sure that we are rigorously honest with ourselves, our friends who we trust, and with God.  We need to be humble enough to make that call when we need to when we are stuck in some situation, even when fear is telling us not to, or we are afraid of being hurt or made fun of.  Only then can we begin to sort out that inner confusion which at one point or another, plagues us all.