Made a Mistake

I made a mistake last week.

A friend set up a training session for some fellows in our new church plant. These guys have signed up to volunteer on a specific team, and they need to go through the training before they are cleared to volunteer.

I am the coordinator for that team in our new church, and we are very short handed, so it was a great help to me that my friend set up the training. An older fellow agreed to do the training, and I had two guys on my team who said they could go to the training.

As we got closer to the date of the training, Sunday at 9:00 am, I confirmed the RSVP with the two guys on my team. I had hoped for more guys to be able to make it, and I didn’t want to waste the time of the older fellow.

Everything looked like it was going to turn out well, and then Saturday morning I got a message that no one showed up for the training.

The training was Saturday morning, not Sunday morning.

I had misread the message and put it on my calendar on the wrong day. I had told those fellows the wrong day!

Because of my mistake a significant amount of time was wasted. I felt so bad, I called the fellow that was to lead the training and apologized, I called the fellows on my team and explained the mix-up.

Still I felt bad.

I felt like I shouldn’t have stepped up to coordinate the team, like they would be better off without me. I felt like I was the reason for much pain in these fellows lives – but that isn’t true. I made a mistake. I did not intentionally cause these men any trouble.

If this had been the other way, if someone had stood me up because they misread my message and they had the wrong date, I would understand and I would not think ill of them.

So why do I feel so much worse, about myself, than I would about someone else?

Are you OK being with yourself?

I am always with myself by necessity, but I am learning that I can also choose to be with myself.

In the same way that I can be, physically present, with my family, and at other times I can choose to be present emotionally and cognitively.

A family member once told me they were in between jobs and had been asked by a friend to care for their friend’s home over several weeks one winter. This home was a small mansion that sat on a lake in Minnesota, and my family member’s responsibility would be watching over the home and taking the family Golden Retriever out for regular exercise, and they would be paid to boot. I was starstruck at the thought of that. What a glorious winter that would be. No deadlines. No expecations. Just the chance to be present, in a luxury home, in the glorious Minnesota winter.

I pictured lots of hot tea and cider, beautiful snow all the time, a warm fire and good books. Oh what a dream. My family member said they didn’t know if they would take the opportunity because “I don’t know if I like myself enough to be with alone with myself that long”. He went on to say that he didn’t think it would be as much of an issue for me, but that it was a real struggle for him. That comment made me think deeply.

It’s been a decade since that conversation, and as each day passes, I am learning more about present with myself and being OK about that. I am not the same man I was yesterday, and tomorrow will be a new day again, but the beautiful gift and the only place I can ever be, is right here, today.

You are not a mistake. You are loved more than you’ll ever know. It’s only life, enjoy the ride.

False Dichotomy

I had a long conversation with a friend today. We covered politics, evolution, finances, college experiences and more. He would throw false dichotomies at me in jest as we got into a debate. I thought there was a single word, or a common expression, for a false dichotomy, but I couldn’t remember it right away. As almost any other 21st century westerner would do, I went to Google and searched the term.

I found this elegant piece on the importance of false dichotomies in programming. I immediately realized that I have relied entirely on constraining the inputs to my system, and I haven’t built in any handlers for when those inputs are novel. This gives me yet another way to make my next project a little more robust and a little more flexible.

Anyway, this conversation got me thinking about all the false dichotomies I have thrown myself into.

I have to do exactly what the client wants, or they will hate me forever.”

If there is any kind of setback, I must be going the wrong way.”

I have to excersise for a full hour, or it’s not worth exercising at all.”

Luck

A client told me this past Thursday that luck was the moment “ability meets opportunity”. One of my old professors used to say that it was preparation and opportunity. I think ability and preparation are often married together when we feel lucky.

There must be a measure of ability given before that ability can be grown through preparation. It’s your starting stats in this adventure of life. For example, if I weren’t given the gift of life, if my parents hadn’t so generously given of themselves to care for me, I wouldn’t even be here at this moment. Therefore, we each have some ability. Just the fact that we are breathing, that you’re connected to the world wide web and reading this blog right now, you have some ability.

Ability seems pretty straightforward, you can (e.g. learn, listen, love, grow etc) or you can’t (e.g. be someone else, change the nucleic acid sequence coded in your every cell…).

Opportunity gets more complicated, because we often control other people’s access to opportunity. We don’t mess with their ability too much, but oh boy do we have influence on opportunity. To think of it from the perspective of Harry Potter, are you even invited to Hogwarts? What about the quidditch team? How about the Slug Club?

Am I the only one that felt the pain of Petunia when she didn’t get a letter and Lily her sister did?

Anyway, we can go a long way to making others feel lucky when we give them opportunities. And, just maybe, they will have the ability and preparation within themselves to match the opportunity. When that happens, when they get lucky, they rise to the occasion, and it’s a beautiful thing to see.

Not enough, or too many?

I find that when I sit down to write this blog, much like when I sit down to pen a letter, I seemingly have too much to say. I set words upon the page in haste, and while I am only a couple sentences in, they already begin to feel hollow. All of those moments and stories I want to communicate, they are only trifles compared to whatever my friend is experiencing.

Why would they care about the small events in my life?

So what is the value of me writing about the place I visited for breakfast? Because I certainly want to write about Sambo’s Restaurant in Santa Barbara. We were welcomed, as family, by the manager, and we felt so loved.

Anyway, there is a mix of both in my mind. Not enough important things to share here, and also too many things at once. I certainly don’t want to waste anyone’s time with spammy shills of blog posts. I want quality content. I want a meaningful topic. I want to grow. I want elegant prose. Yet, almost a hundred posts in, it is still scary to let these thoughts out into the public.

Sleep

I’ve heard it said that the night grows darkest just before dawn. In the nights I’ve spent entirely awake, and outside, I felt that was the case. I’m not sure why it feels that way though.

I frequently rise before 3AM with my current job, so I see many beautiful sunrises from their inception. The deep blue begins to fill the eastern sky sometime before is any easier to see the surrounding. There are quite a few times I’ve stayed up past three, but I think there are probably less than a dozen times in my entire life that I’ve been awake all night long. Most of those were in a pickup on I-70 and even then, I frequently napped for an hour or two at some point in the night when I “drove all night long”.

In thirty years of living I’ve only experienced a handful of entire nights with my conciousness. I sleep deeply, and often, these days. That wasn’t always the case though.

When I was a boy I spent countless nights awake, and crying, in my bed for the fear of monsters. The monsters I feared weren’t real of course. I knew that they weren’t real. I knew they were only in my mind. I knew they couldn’t touch me. The monsters were only imagined, but the fear was real. The pain of laying awake was real. The shame of carrying that fear was real.

That shame was lifted. Those fears shown to be what they were, just wisps of smoke. Now I sleep well.

Don’t let fear and shame steal your sleep as they did mine. Reach out to a friend. Ask God to give you peace. He will lead you on a path of peace, and that path may take you to deeper places in your own soul than you ever thought possible.

In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord , make me dwell in safety.
Psalms 4:8 ESV

Sleep well tonight, for you are safely in your Father’s arms.

Wrangling Onward

I worked as a wrangler at Sorrel River Ranch for two seasons.

It seems like just yesterday, and yet it has been a decade since I spent my first season there on the Colorado river. It was there, in that paradise, where I was told my life was perfect and that I should never change. When I thought about the future that summer. When I looked out ten years later for my life, I did not see anything like this now. I probably would have laughed if someone had told me what would happen. My life is nothing like I pictured it would be. I never expected to be married to Tiffany, or to own a home, or to be in California.

I most definitely would not have understood how I feel about Tiffany and Katarina. My wife and baby girl changed my perspective in a way I could not comprehend.

And yet.

In many ways I feel like I’m still the same, I still feel like I’m very young and naive. I feel like I’m just getting started on life – like I’m at the trailhead of my path.

But I’m not just getting started anymore. If this were football, I am well into the second quarter. If I were hiking, I’m closer to the halfway point than to where I started.

This is not the end. Not just yet. There’s still some time left for you and me.

Let’s take this time we have and use it. Spend it. Make every minute worth it.