Relationships

Sometimes relationships complicate things.

That’s how I look at it anyway, in my very male problem-oriented perspective. If it wasn’t for relationship considerations I could solve some problems a lot easier by being direct – and less mindful of not hurting feelings.

I was born with the male ability to switch off outside considerations and be brutally objective, blunt as a brick. Complete the mission, regardless of the cost. (On occasion those same qualities could accurately be described as foolish and ignorant).

But I’m glad that’s not where my thinking ends. A little more time, and I realise the relationship is of too much value to cast it aside or allow it to be collateral damage.

The key is to find the solution to problem working in relationship, if at all possible.

Advertisements

A Changing Season

If I were an artist I’d love to sketch a comic to describe a small part of how I feel. Bereft of all skill with a pencil, I must ‘use my words’.

As soon as I left the elevator I could hear it. Behind the closed door across the hallway there was heavy breathing. No, not just breathing: a multitude of heavy grunting noises, and the occasional tired sigh. It made me of the effort involved in squeezing into jeans three sizes too small. It was the sound of simultaneous exasperation and desperation.

I approached the wooden door cautiously, expecting it to spring outwards at any moment. As I edged closer I imagined I could see the door bowing in the centre. Surely it was just my imagination? As though in answer to my query the door creaked as though under great stress. The bolt holding the door shut stood firm, for now.

I looked around and could see no in the hallway. A dozen questions filled my mind. Who was in the room? Why had they been locked in? And by whom?

“Hello?” I called, unsure if I would be heard over the grunts. The noise didn’t change. To my ears it lacked the quality of ferociousness. Someone, or something, was trapped.

As a boy, I’d been trapped in a dark, strange place and I hadn’t liked it. I remembered the feeling well, now decades later. Tentatively my hand reached up to the bolt. The outward pressure being applied made it hard work but with great effort I managed to slide it across.

I was ready when it released, and leapt backwards as the door flung open.

Inside was the pitiful display of an elephant crammed into a space too small for it. The elephant could barely move more than blink is eyes, and even as I watched it moved it’s trunk into the hallway with a look of relief at a momentary chance to stretch, even a little bit.

The elephant was well and truly in the room, and no one – even attempting to enter the room could ignore its presence.

Acknowledging the Presence

The elephant in the room is I haven’t written in a while.

I had planned to be revising The Rebel Queen. Well, that’s not happening at all at the moment. Nor am I working on any of the other projects which I had previously been so excited about.

Why am I not writing? I’m not sure to be honest. You could be forgiven for thinking that perhaps I’m in a funk because I’m yet to hear about my submission of Vengeance Will Come. That’s a reasonable assumption, but it’s not true in this case. Even before I submitted a disquiet inside of me was growing.

Something which has haunted me for quite a while were the examples of (the late) Keith Green, musical extraordinaire and Francine Rivers, the successful Christian author. Both of them, at different points in their faith were called to give up their craft (music and writing) for a significant point of time. They had to make sure they were doing ‘it’ for God, and not for their own glory. Their example has always haunted me. Would I be willing to give up my writing? Would I be able to? I could never answer that question. Maybe this is my own season of putting it down – or at least – refocusing it?

I’ve also been feeling more convicted that my time should be spent on things of the eternal – things that will last – not the temporal.

The truth is I’m not sure quite what is happening, but for this season in my life writing is taking a back seat to other priorities. I’m putting more effort into relationships and building up the men’s ministry at my church.

So what have I been doing?

I’ve also been reading a lot. I’ve got more books on the go — too many — at the moment. I’m re-reading Keith Green’s autobiography No Compromise and Every Man’s Battle by Stephen Arterburn. I’m also reading How to Build a Life-Changing Men’s Ministry by Steve Sonderman and Living Water by Brother Yun. I had also started (and understandably put-down-for-now) The Book that Made Your World by Vishal Mangalwadi, The Great Hunt by Robert Jordan and SPQR by Maggie Beard. All this from someone who normally reads one book at a time!

My (lesser) free time has been spent programming.

Will I be Writing?

I’m sure I’ll be writing something. Probably a lot more faith-related material. I might even write some non-fiction, but likely that it will be much smaller size. Writing something smaller takes a lot less time than writing or revising an entire novel.

What does it mean for this blog?

I think it will continue (at this stage). It will broaden: I’ll write about more topics than writing; probably much more on faith and other things which I am passionate about. It probably won’t be every week (as has been my normal rate). Right now, it’s hard to say – because everything feels up in the air.

Writing Boundaries (1)

In this two-post series I discuss my evolving passion for writing and how it fits in as a component of my life. In a subsequent post I will share how my Writing Boundaries determine what I will write about.

You might have noticed I missed my weekly post last weekend. It was mostly because I was still mulling things over in my mind. Sometimes to rush a post would be worse than missing an arbitrary deadline. With something important to say, it should be said right.

Continue reading

Ageless Nation

Recently I’ve been skim-reading Ageless Nation: The Quest for Superlongevity and Physical Perfection written by futurist Michael G Zey, PH.D. The basic premise of the book is that in the not-too-distant future humans will be able to have lifespans of ~400 years due to nanotechnology, genetic engineering and alike. Not only would we live longer, we would live in a state of youthful health.

(Again: full disclosure, I skim read). In the book, Zey briefly addresses the concern that such technology will be a widening between the rich and poor. He thinks otherwise; he points to the fact that once we thought automobiles and computers were playthings of the ultra-rich. That’s not the case now he says, and age-extending tech will likewise be available to all.

Personally I’d love to live for 400 years – especially if that was in a relatively good state of health. Life is short, and there are so many things I would love to do that I know I’ll never have the time for. I’d love to study a plethora of subjects and have the potential to write thousands of books over an extended lifetime.

But there is something disturbing about the premise. Perhaps that is why he calls the book Ageless Nation instead of Ageless World. The reality is that there are places in the world where the vast majority of people don’t have cars or computers. Or even safe drinking water.

The concept of living 400 years is good, but I’m not sure I could do it knowing that in some places in the world life expectancy is just 50 years (today). Regardless of technological advances, there will be a vast number of people in the world who would miss out.

Honestly, I’m not sure what the answer is. In today’s world the disparity between rich and poor is already disturbing. Even using the word disturbing, I suspect is an attempt to make something palatable, to hold back the true nature, to pretend and attempt to remain in blind ignorance. If I considered it deeply, the disturbance would likely seep into my consciousness – and, I suspect – change a great many things. Already it is too much; I can’t fathom a world where that gap would be increased so massively as to grant some hundreds of years and others so few; life itself a commodity.

Mind Blowing

Developing a Writing Tool

A quick blog post to announce what I’ve been working on. Some might call it procrastination and not writing, but I prefer to think of it as tool development for myself and for you.

I’m working up an Excel workbook which can be used to keep statistics, plot information and whatever else I think of adding to aid in the writing process. I’m actually pretty close to finishing v1.0, but I really should do some writing so I will try to shelve it for today.

As a taster, here is the Character Point-Of-View chart which can be used to visually display how often a character is getting a turn. This chart is automatically generated based off information entered into a table. Using the drop-down list next to “Select Character” you can highlight an individual character. (This is an evolutionary improvement on my earlier visualisation).

Character POV chart

Mind Blowing Reading

I’ve been reading through Weird Life by David Toomey. Here are two quotes that describe how cells work (page 86 and 87 respectively).

To take one example, when a cell somewhere in your body needs insulin, certain proteins inside the cell pull apart a section of the DNA molecule pairs, exposing the particular sequence of base pairs that signifies one of the many amino acids needed to make an insulin molecule. Other proteins read the sequence and make an ad hoc and temporary copy called messenger RNA. Then, still other proteins work over the messenger RNA, slicing and splicing until they’ve fashioned the amino acid needed. Finally, the molecules of protein and DNA called ribosomes (the structure that, you may recall, may set the lower size limit of a cell) pull the newly formed amino acid together with others made the same way by other proteins, and coordinate with other ribosomes, all now pulling and pushing their own amino acids to assemble a molecule of insulin.

And then

As complex as chores necessary to maintaining a metabolism are, they are in some ways mere prelude and preparations for the main event: reproduction. Familiar life can reproduce, of course, because cells divide. For cells with nuclei, it all begins inside the nucleus, when proteins don’t pull apart merely a section of the DNA molecule; they unwind and unzip the entire molecule along one strand, make a copy, correct and repair proofreading errors, and, from material in the surrounding cytoplasm, fashion a matching strand that winds together with the copy, base locking neatly to a base. Then the parent DNA, its own strands zipped up and rewound, is pulled to one side of the nucleus, the child DNA is pulled to the other, and the nucleus itself is squeezed in the middle until it splits into halves. Shortly thereafter the cell does likewise, with each half holding a nucleus. Where there was one cell, now there are two.

I don’t know about you but to me, that is absolutely mind-blowing.

The irony is, even with talk of having nanobots in the future, all they will be doing is replicating (and improving on) to what our body already does.

Personally I think it takes more faith to believe in creation big-bang style than it does to believe that God’s hand and mind were at work.

The Stories I want to Read

“Marriage is a lifestyle” were the first words spoken at a recent wedding we attended.

It is so true. Marriage is not an event, a single point in time, but an ongoing choice. As I’ve written on numerous occasions I’m a huge fan of marriage. I have a fantastic marriage and so I know how beneficial a great marriage can be. Having a great marriage can take a lot of work, but the dividends it pays are the greatest profit in life you’ll ever make.

Divorce rates are too high. Daily we see in our media stories of celebrity couples breaking up, divorcing or caught being unfaithful to the one they promised to love to the exclusion of all others.

But where are the good stories? The stories of couples who have stayed together through the ups and downs of life? Where are the stories of people who know the true worth of what binds them together? They are the stories I want to read, the testimonies I want to hear.

Let’s have a book full of stories of people who have successfully chosen to ‘put their spouse first’ and who together have endured the storms of life, and come through much better for them.

Contentment in Life

I wasn’t in a particularly good place a few minutes ago.

Having cerebal palsy, and not having taken proactive-care of my health, my mobility is becoming more problematic. In the last few months this has become much more apparent. My legs are have lost flexibility, and my arms can no longer always cajole them to behave. (Actually cajole is too soft a word, let’s go with force). Even the simple act of putting on shoes takes more effort than it once did. Add to that, my gait is now so bad that the rate at which I go through shoes is not an insignificant cost.

And so, at crazy-stupid-o’clock this was bearing down on me, and I was feeling a little sorry for myself, and all involved. I guess it’s like growing old – only I’m experiencing it a few decades too early.

One could continue to wallow in self-pity, but that really is an ugly thing. Especially when I sit in a first world country with all that it offers. I’ve found through life’s varied challenges, physical or otherwise, that self-pity calls for a perspective change. It’s not about looking at what you don’t have, but being thankful for what you do have. Sure, my legs aren’t all that great, but I do still have good mobility. Sure, I should own shares in a shoe company, but at least I can afford to buy shoes.

It reminded me of the amazing Nick Vujicic. Nick doesn’t have any limbs, but he does have incredible determination, adaptability and a joy that shines through.

In his book Unstoppable Nick speaks of a man named Phil Toth who was an encouragement to him. Among other things, Phil shows us that age, experience or circumstance are no barrier to being used by God. The value of Phil’s example is so poignant that I must share the passage:

For nearly two years his doctors couldn’t determine what was wrong, but they finally diagnosed him with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)…

The life expectancy for one with this incurable disease, which destroys the motor nerve cells in the brain and spine and causes muscles to deteriorate, is usually two to five years. Initially, Phil’s doctors told him that his case was advancing so quickly that he might not survive another three months. Instead, Phil lived for five years, and I think it was because he did not focus on his suffering. He focused instead on encouraging others to pray and trust God. Phil dealt with his deadly illness by celebrating life and reaching out to help others, even though he could not lift his arms or legs from his bed.

ALS is both wickedly cruel and extremely painful. Within a few years, Phil was bedridden and unable to do much for himself. His large circle of loving family and friends provided constant care. Even his voice was affected, making it difficult for people to understand him.

Despite his pain and suffering, Phil remained deeply devoted to his Christian faith, and beyond that he even found a way to put his faith into action so that he could reach out to console and inspire others who were suffering debilitating and deadly illnesses. By God’s grace, with all his physical challenges, Phil created the website that my mother discovered through the church. Here is part of the message he posted about his illness and the impact it had on his faith:

“I thank God for leading me through this! It has brought me closer to God [it would be worth it if this is all it did], it has caused me to reevaluate my life and see if I’m in the faith, caused me to experience the love of my brothers and sisters in Christ, near and far. Taught me to depend fully on the Word of God, my knowledge of the Word has increased, as well as maturing in the faith. My family and friends are a lot closer now. Additionally I’ve been learning a lot more about health, nutrition, and taking care of my body. The benefits of my situation are endless.”

Make every moment count.

11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:11-13)