One Bucket

What good is a single bucket of water on a house fire?

If you had that single bucket of water, would you pour it on the house aflame? Or would you put it on the wall of house next door, to help prevent it from catching? Or would you offer it as a drink to the other people fighting the fire?

Just don’t despise your single bucket of water. Use it. Then go fill it again and use it again.

Think about the boy that gave Jesus his five small barley loaves and two fish.

Where does the pressure come from?

I spent a month living in a hunt camp in Haliburton Forest. 14 students, 3 techinicians, 2 cooks, and 2 proffessors lived together without running water or much electricity (a single solar pannel and bank of old car batteries gave us a lightbulb at night for a couple hours). We worked long hours (often 14 hour days) and slept in bunk beds with cheap vinyl mattresses. We had an experience that I think will stick with me forever, and I will write more about that in days to come. What I am reminded of most about that experience, was the lack of pressure.

Sure we had plenty of drama living in such close proximity to one another. We had problems. We had sickness and at times we had unhappy people, but I don’t remember anyone saying they “under pressure” or that they “couldn’t relax” .

Even with small clouds of mosquitoes in the evenings, it was an unbelievably cathartic experience to live as intimately as we did with the circadian and estival rythm of The Living Forest.

Many days I yearn to be there again.

The Cabinet Of Curiosties

In the last few months I have been reading novels again. I read the first three of the Dune series; Dune, Dune Messiah and finally Children of Dune. I was surprised by the third installment and found it quite a bit more compelling than the first two had been for me. This post isn’t really about the Dune series though. This is the about the Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child Pendergrast novels. I’ve now read several of their books; Reliquary, A Still Life of Crows, White Fire, Cemetary Dance and The Cabinet of Curosities, and I am just now beginning to read Brimstone (the first in the Diogenes trilogy).

I thought that The Cabinet of Curiosities was fantastic. It kept me guessing right up until the end, the pace was enjoyable, the characters had heart. The experience of reading it was a pleasure. And yet, what I find most fascinating is that it was nothing exotic. The characters were attainable, the environment was not extravagant, and the names were (mostly) common. They didn’t have to create intercontinental political systems (G.O.T.) or a myriad of new kinds of creatures and experiences (H.P.), or a carefully constructed theology and thick plot (L.O.T.R.).

Preston and Child took the pieces of life we already experience, and simply looked at them in a new way. Maybe you could say that is what all authors do anyway. Relationships, values, virtues, vices…all those things we are already familiar with we look at from a new perspective when we read. Even so, I thought it was impressive that they could tell a good story in The Cabinet Of Curiosities without ever getting too exotic.

Further, I don’t know authors maintain the multitude of elements in their stories, and yet remain consisent. I have tried to organize my daydreams into an acceptible form for a novel, but they have always seemed to fracture and splinter within my mind, creating a plethora of frayed-strands and disjointed fragments.

Maybe it is the memory trip that Agent Pendergrast so often relies on. What if Preston and Child are actually telling us about their creative process when they describe Pendergrasts deep meditation.

When they weave the novel together, with the feints and intertwined characters, do they let Pendergrast himself show them the way the story unfolds?

Finally, the question that I have often asked myself. In the creative process, how much effort should I place on structure and method, and how much should I “let the block of wood tell me what it should be carved into”?

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.

Sauna

I took a sauna (sow-nuh) today, in memory of my grandma Elaine, and I smiled at the old familiar burn within my nostrils. There were other gentleman sweating it out at the same time, one fellow was Latino and another Portuguese.

They seemed to experience the sauna differently. You see, grandma used to tell me about the sauna being my heritage, and we learned about the traditions, and the community, those old Finn’s had in regards to the sauna. For me it is always a memory of family and fun times. A place of joy.

For these fellows it seemed more a place of labor. I was disappointed that they seemed to endure it rather than relish it in the way I was trained too. I felt some mild offence that they would wear their full exercise gear into the sauna, and listen to their rap music through headphones.

After reflection, I think I was foolish to look at it that way. The sauna experience is ritualized for me and loaded with subtext and a story I’ve been told since I was a young boy.

These fellows have different stories and childhoods.

Why should I be offended by their tradition?

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.

Foundations

In my very limited coding experience, core function designs are passed downstream and they show up many times over throughout the code. Again and again, aspects of those core functions become important to the overall production.

The assumptions that are at the heart of a relationship make themselves apparent through our interactions all the time. Our assumptions about how someone wants to be treated, about what they expect from us, guide our choices. Assumptions are foundational.

Those foundations can be changed. They are not permanent. They are in fact moldable.

You can revisit and rework the basic pieces of the core code, the assumptions in a relationship, or even the foundations of a home. Just remember, if you decide to change the foundations, be prepared to have a shift in everything built on them.