Wandering with my eyes and heart open, searching for pieces to add to my own personal big picture.

Tag: humanity

No Good or Evil: Bear With Me a Bit

There is no good or evil, there is only cause and effect.

This is the sentence that keeps rolling around in my head the last 24 hours or so.

Evil did not cause whatever happened, some previous action did. We can, in many instances, look back and see what caused what to happen, and possibly avoid doing it again, but we don’t seem to do it often enough. There are also events of which we cannot find the cause, either because we don’t have the tools yet or the connections are simply too complex, but they are there. It was not magic, fate, or some other supernatural cause.

I’m still reading Disneyanity and I had a thought…I know…weird.

Must we let fantasy movies, and all movies are generally fantasy, replace religious belief? Must humans constantly create fantastical reasons to make sense of what has happened, or utopian visions of the future, where if only we do this or that, the whole world would be perfect?

There are times when I want so badly to embrace fantasy and hope. I watch movies, listen to music, and read books that entice me to embrace these ideas. How awesome would it be if the love songs were true? What if we could enact some policy or law that changed the world and made everyone happy, healthy, and whole? What if there was a benevolent being that was watching over things, guiding them this way and that with the intention of leading humanity to a bright and wonderful future?

good and evil
The sun rises, further north and then back to the south again.
Natural cycles remind me that things change.

But at heart, I’m a realist. These ideas fail me. When my mind goes there, when I turn the old country music romance songs on for too long, when I throw myself into joyful fantasy movies, obsessively turn the pages of a utopian novel, I find my heart broken when I follow them to their natural conclusions.

Romances end and reality sets in, life costs money, children need to be raised, and you don’t always feel that hot and sexy love for the person you made them with.

The hero doesn’t always win against all odds. The villain has reasons he his hurting others and causing harm and you may have had something to do with it. I can’t just wish my way to a better world.

And each law you create helps one person and hurts another, each policy your government enacts solves one need and creates another.

I know, I probably sound negative and hopeless, but it doesn’t feel that way to me. Having my feet firmly grounded, accepting that good and bad things happen to everyone and we can’t know which is which in the long run, keeping it right in front of me that we all will die no matter what we do, and embracing the fact that humans are simply another (yet extremely creative) animal, another piece of an amazingly intricate puzzle, is what makes me feel like I can take on the world.

These are the tenants that bring me peace…sometimes.

It reminds me of Mark Manson’s book, Everything is Fucked: A Book About Hope. Yikes-a-roni, I looked back and found that I read that book three years ago this week! Thumbing through the book to see if I could find a quick bite to share here…yeah…no. That book pissed me off and made me think. It’s simple and complex, and filled with some incredibly helpful ideas. My advice, give it a chance. You won’t regret it.

Realism is complicated. Can we even know what real is? Is there a “real” that is the reality for everyone at all times? I don’t think so.

I don’t have the answers. Every day on this planet only brings me more questions. But like Cinderella says, “They can’t order me to stop dreaming. And perhaps, someday, the dreams that I wish will come true.” In the meantime, I’ll keep a smile, accept what comes to me, move gently toward what I believe I want, let others do the same, assume positive intentions of others, and live as kindly as I can until the day I eventually die.

And when I do die, just like the attitude a try to keep today, I won’t be looking back wishing I had done something different and created a different outcome. I’ll be looking forward and wondering what comes next.

The love of classic books can help humanity be more empathetic.

Book cover on book shelf of classic books.
The Pleasures of Reading in an Ideological Age

What do we have to learn from classic books? What could be relevant to me inside something written by someone that has so little in common with my own time and person? How can I possibly learn anything other than what happened in the past and what went wrong?

“Much of the way we perceive ourselves and the world manifestly changes as society, language, ideology, and technology change; but we also continue to share much as creatures born of woman, begotten by man, raised with siblings, endowed with certain appetites, conscious of our own mortality, confronting nature from our various locations in culture.”

“The characters and life situations of the narratives of different eras speak to us not because they reflect a knowledge which never changes but rather because they express a set of enigmas with which we continue to wrestle.”

The Pleasures of Reading in an Ideological Age by Robert Alter

That’s what a good book is all about. This is why we read novels, why we pick up books written a hundred years ago, by a person completely unlike us, from a place completely unlike ours. We see the commonality in the experiences of others throughout history, in fiction and non-fiction.

When we write, we create characters and put them in situations to experience and work through. While we write them, we are working through our own things, “wrestling” with that “set of enigmas.” And when you read it, you see our work and incorporate it into your own. It’s magical and crosses time and culture in a way no other medium can.

No, I’m not a young white female in Victorian England, but I can understand that character and use her experience to round out my own thinking. I’m not a black male in the American South, escaping slavery and falling in love…but I can feel those feelings, experience it, in a way through the authors words, and see ways we share humanity.

We learn empathy when we read classic books, fiction from ages past. We learn about ourselves when we experience life through another person’s thoughts, real or imagined. And we learn that what it really means to be human across all times and cultures doesn’t change that much. There’s some comfort in continuity.

Click over to my original post, “The Pleasures of Reading in an Ideological Age” to read my initial thoughts on this book!

Find “The Pleasures of Reading in an Ideological Age” on Thriftbooks and read along with me. If you do, be sure to comment so I know you’re out there. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

It’s Not The Plant


This plant has been thriving for a couple years now. It’s in the corner of my bedroom, getting the damp soil and indirect sunlight it needed, and making me smile each time I see another leaf bud or another tendril start to grow and reach toward the window.

It wasn’t always this healthy. It came to me as three wilted leaves in a giant plastic pot filled with dried out dirt. I found it in an office with one west-facing window that never had its curtains opened. I’m not a big plant person, but every house has these and I knew it just needed water and bit of sun to thrive.

I’m not sure why I felt compelled to take it home and adopt it, but there I was each day growing increasingly frustrated with my co-workers when I’d leave for a few days and no one would water it or open the curtains in the afternoon.

After weeks of coaxing and no improvement, I decided to throw the whole thing away. The old plastic pot was starting to crack and any day now it would leak all over the filing cabinet anyway. I picked up the pot, carefully so as not to dump dirt all over the office and started walking toward the dumpster outside. Somehow…some way…the plant ended up in the bed of my truck. I might have been possessed by Groot. I just couldn’t throw those three leaves away.

Originally, I planned on putting it in a smaller pot with new dirt, getting it growing good and healthy, and then bringing it back to the office. Maybe I’d put it upfront near the big window and it would do better. Several months later, when it had really taken root and began to climb up my bedroom wall, I changed my mind. No one loved him like me! No one even noticed he was gone! He’s mine!

It’s sick really, the way I feel about plants sometimes.

Why in the world am I going on about a plant? Because no one is worthless. No person’s life is pointless. No matter how young or how old, there is an environment that they will thrive in. Don’t throw people away. Help them to find their place in this world and watch them grow into what they were born to be.

Connected by Souls

We’ve all heard it before.

“No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as any manner of thy friends or of thine own were; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.” – John Donne

Earlier this week I listened to Aubrey Marcus’ interview with Humble as I drove to meet a friend for hiking.

The part I’m talking about starts at 8:40 but at 10:00 he says it most clearly. I’ll paraphrase. “We’re a drop in the ocean. If we separate ourselves completely, we’ll dry up.”

We all feel the longing to connect with other human beings at some level.

Christians say that God is in us, that we are created in His image, that we have a soul. What if that soul is actually a part of God and therefore, we are all connected in that way?

Remember the Borg from Star Trek Next Generation? All of the Borg are connected by a hive mind. When one is separated, it continues to communicate with the hive and becomes anxious, longing to return to the hive. If there is a small group of them, they operate as a smaller hive and aren’t as lost, but they still work toward reuniting with their source. What if we are like that with God?

What if that feeling of being disconnected and lost is because we have been separated from the source and now it’s getting worse because we’ve become separate from each other? On this physical plane, we can’t completely return to God, but we connect in small groups to ease our separation anxiety until we can. Or at least we used to.

When asked which was the most important commandment, Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-40

To love the Lord God with all my heart, soul, and mind, is to honor the creator. To love my neighbor as I would myself, is to honor the creator in them. We love them on earth until we can all return as one to God.



When was the last time any of us met up with a bunch of friends for no other reason than to hang out?

In our teens and twenties we did it all the time, but when we marry and have kids our focus changes. Our social lives begin to revolve around the kids. Birthday parties, school and sports events, along with our work holiday parties, seem to be the only place we see people in person.

But what happens once the kids are grown? Where did all our friends go? I think social media is giving us a false sense of connection. We think we already know what’s going on in our friends lives because we see it on our phones every day, but that’s not reality. It’s nice because we can always reach out to old friends and new. We can reconnect passively when we find the time. My favorite thing about it is knowing that everyone from my past has gotten older too! But it’s not the same as sharing a beer and talking things out. It is more effort to go out or to host, but it’s so worth the cost.

This past year I’ve made the conscious decision to be the place where friends can connect in person. I started with hosting “Norwegian Independence Day,” a couple pool nights, and then my birthday. Everyone is invited and they come if they can, when they feel led to. It’s one of those “If you build it, they will come,” kind of things. It feels wonderful! Especially when people that I don’t usually get to see or haven’t seen in a long time make the trek out.

The weather is starting to warm up again, so last night we hosted another get-together. Half the people that said they would come ended up missing out for one reason or another. We all have our issues, right? But the ones that did come? We had a blast and I can’t wait to do it again.

There’s just something special about sitting around with a bunch of people, gathered together for no other reason than to visit. We drank, talked, argued, laughed, shot pool, played darts. Every time I do it, I’m reminded why I do. Everyone seems to love it so much and need it as much as I do.

I feel human again, a tired one, but definitely human. It’s magical.

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