Ready to Turn Around?

CountrysideTrue story. A couple living in Georgia drives to Utah to visit family. While in Colorado they see a sign that says ‘Shortest route to Salt Lake City’ and they decide to follow the sign and take the road. The highway changes from four lanes to two, and eventually becomes a dirt road. They know they’ve gone down the wrong road but they keep driving for a while before turning around and finding a highway that takes them to their intended destination.

What is the point of this story? Often we know we’ve gone down the wrong path long before we’re ready to turn around. Sometimes we’re hoping to find another way out. Other times it may simply be the stubbornness of the commitment.

Whatever the reason, it’s helpful to remember that recognition of error doesn’t always equal instant correction. Not in ourselves or in others.

It takes courage to accept a mistake when an individual, couple, or group is committed to a process. Especially when most others will never know how far things have veered off course. They may never know, and what they do know doesn’t matter.

What matters is that individuals make the choice to accept where they are, turn around, and make the journey back even if it requires covering some of the same ground.

“Love’s Austere and Lonely Offices”

This evening, I’ve been reflecting on the last two lines of the poem “Those Winter Sundays” by Robert Hayden. The character in the poem is an adult looking back at the cold winter mornings of youth, recognizing the lack of gratitude shown towards the family patriarch in what the author calls a house of “chronic angers.” The poem concludes with the lines:

“What did I know, what did I know of Love’s austere and lonely offices?”

The line “Love’s austere and lonely offices” is so pathetically true. Love is simple in nature yet there is a tendency to make it something glamorous, something beyond its scope. Something it cannot and should not be. At times, love is austere; it is stern and unadorned. It is silent, hidden behind the scenes.

A friend edits the ending of every fairy tales she reads to her children, adding; “and they worked really hard on their marriage, and lived happily ever after.” She is opening their imaginations to the story between the pages. The real life story of the silent heroes we call mom and dad.

For a child, love’s lonely office includes not understanding why “no” and “not now” mean “I love you.”

For a married couple love’s “lonely offices” are they places they stand without regard to personal pleasure. Because of love, friends and extended family never come first. Because of love, time and resources are sacrificed for things that hold little interest. Because of love, both will fret over whether or not they have done the right thing.

It is love that allows them to disagree passionately without fear that an opinion held too strongly will break them apart. It is love that allows conflict and love that keeps all other opportunities for romantic interest out of sight and out of mind.

Love’s eye is not blind. It is selective. It weighs truth in the balance and understands that no collection of flaws and quirks are superior to the man, woman, or child they have chosen.

Certainly “love’s austere and lonely offices” are not the only offices held in marriage, but they are the sacrificial offices required to keep the flame of love’s temple alive.

Facebook vs. MySpace and Breaking the Sex Barrier

In full discloser, I’m a Facebook fan. For me there is something a bit dark about MySpace, yet I have an account with both. Where do others stand in this battle between these two social networking giants?

According to Google Trends Facebook passed MySpace in the number of Google searches in the first quarter of 2008 and has continued to rise surpassing YouTube searches in the final weeks of 2008.

facebook_vs_myspace

So what is “the sex barrier” and how does it relate? The Sex barrier is represented by the green line in the second graft. If you have more people googling for your product than are googling the word “sex”, you’ve broken passed the sex barrier. Searches for the word “YouTube” passed the word “sex” in the first quarter of 2007, searches for “Facebook” passed it in the second quarter of 2008. MySpace has yet to break the barrier.

sexbarrier

The word Obama did it briefly in November 2008. More people world wide, according to Google, were looking up stories about Obama winning the U.S. Presidential election than were searching for sex related stories, products, etc. However searches for sex did not decrease as a result of the Obama searches. I’m not sure what this data indicates other than marketers have done an excellent job of selling sexuality online. This shouldn’t be a surprise.


The next barrier to pass is the word “free”. In Google searches the word “sex” is no where close to the word “free”. People want free stuff. However, in 2008 both YouTube and Facebook surpassed the magical word “free”.


Compared to these four words; free, YouTube, sex, and Facebook, searches for words like god, war, church, health, cancer, bush, give, and beer hardly register (Sadly, more people and googling for “beer” online than “peace”, but not by much).


So what does all this mean? Several things. First, since I’ve included the words sex and free in this post several times, I will probably get a number of online visits from people who won’t find what they are looking for. Second, using Google Trends is great for getting a ball park idea of search terms people are using. And third, I still like Facebook better than MySpace and I recommend it to everyone, unless you’re a musician. If you are a musician or a singer/songwriter use both. Searches for “MySpace” passed searches for “Music” in mid 2006 and it doesn’t look like it will to change anytime soon. For music, MySpace is on top.

Do We Know Enough?

 Collective

Today, as I look across Atlanta from my desk, my thoughts are drawn to the challenges of life. When I consider the thousands of people within my view on the downtown connector, in office buildings, and on the streets I’m led to ask this question; do we know enough? Do we know enough collectively to solve the big problems. Problems like violence, dishonesty, and apathy.

I’m optimistic. I believe we know enough to end dishonesty and violence in all their malignant forms. The question is; do we want them to end?

Here is one example. Are the millions who say they would never steal or kill willing to give up the rush of violence by proxy? It seems to be a great contradiction to praise peace while conditioning the heart and mind to enjoy brutality via the entertainment industry. If digital thieves and assassins are the heroes, who are we?

Of the thousands of people in my view every day, how many are suffering right now because the rest of us are slightly off course? Is our fast paced proxy culture distracting us from fulfilling our human design?

Are we willing to examine our collective appetite and make personal changes?

I’m not suggesting more laws or regulations. I’m suggesting we stop and ask ourselves if we know enough to make more of a difference with our time and our talents, than we’re making today.

We are each endowed with the right to self regulate. What will be our social foot print?

Thanksgiving Day and National Fasting

Happy Thanksgiving 

What if Thanksgiving was proceeded by a day of national fasting? The whole nation volunteering to go without food or drink for 24 hours and everyone donating the money they would have spent on food to the charity of their choice. The fast would end on Thanksgiving Day so everyone would still eat.

What would be the impact on American attitudes towards health, humanity, self control, and sacrifice? I look forward to that day.

In the mean time, enjoy this fall photo and be good to your family.