Browsed by
Category: Reflections

Everything is its own reward

Everything is its own reward

From the book “Everything is its own reward” by Paul Madonna

In hard times, beauty can seem frivolous – but take it away, and all you’re left with – is hard times.

All the places we went.
things we did.
At one point I tried to arrange them,
construct some sort of narrative.
I was looking to find sense in what happened,
fully believing I could.

The days passed slowly, while they years flew by.

Leave a little emptiness
A space
for when what you’re waiting for
arrives.

Right now I’m so damn happy. And I’ve been alive long enough to know it’s all so damn fleeting.

Everything is its own reward.

I kept meeting people that claimed to be artists but never made anything. Always the same excuses: time, money, space. So I decided I’d use only supplies that fit in my backpack. I could draw and write anywhere, anytime, so if I didn’t, I’d be to blame.

In this episode, Michael attempts to construct a time machine to escape debt and dinner party obligations.

He said the only things he regretted was having not written down all the excuses people had given him for not doing whatever it was they had said they would do. “Priceless insights! With them, I could’ve held a mirror to the world”

The portions of his brain not used to imagine her in compromising positions

“What? I didn’t say anything.” “You didn’t have to, you’re saying it in my head.”

He was like a shark of conversation – if he stopped talking he would die.

Words spoken then forgotten
turn up again like tiny shards of glass
from broken bowls
hidden in the rug missed by the vacuum
pierce your toes in the early hours of the morning
as you wander the hall
wondering why it is you can’t sleep

There had been a confrontation followed by a cooling off period. Memories became distorted, imaginings of what could have happened grew exaggerated. It’s what happened in absence, and the longer it went on, the greater the crash that would come from giving it another try. It was like trying to correct your posture. You know that you slouch, so you straighten your back and vow to forever sit up right, only to find a moment later, you’re hunched over again.

It despairs her to know that the world is not flat. That if she sailed off one shore, she would hit another. That she can’t just keep … going.

Sometimes I pack a bag and just walk around the neighborhood.

You were starting to have second thoughts about all the friends who complimented you on being self-deprecating.

There will always be someone who walks into the middle of the street then curses at the cars that have to screech to a halt to avoid hitting them.

They change the definitions of words you believed in slowly, so that what you ended up fighting for was the opposite of what you wanted.

Freedom to act outside the rules is no protection against doing so.

and in my head, I go.

What about those thoughts that say you can do anyeverything?

I am not an industry

I’ve found my hand, but not my voice.
I’ve begun to make my name, but not my fortune.

All my offerings of beauty are little more than decoration
If through them my demons are not set free.

What are you looking to get? To give? What will help you feel closer to whatever it is you feel far from?

It takes perpetual work to keep life simple. There are ways of being that I could return to, but they’d result in little but trouble.

“I think that’s the first thing to rule people out, whether they’d still do it if there was no money.””Reality doesn’t have to be like that.”

“Reality doesn’t have to be like that.”

There are so many things I can do – so I don’t do any.

We want something to tell us how to live (that doesn’t mean we’ll listen)

Are you really sorry, or is that just what you tell people when you can’t tell them the truth?

Revisit old themes

Does the smell of the air today remind you of another time? Inhale through your nose. And the next time a day like this comes around you’ll be transported back to now.

“All this wondering why,” she says. “It’s a pain. Makes you think you’re doing something important, that you’re smart or covering all your bases, when all it does is spin you in ever darkening circles. I’m convinced that why is no longer the question – or the answer. Maybe I’m just progressing through interrogatives, but at this point, the question I’m asking is, how?”

How do you get smarter faster?

How can you know what you don’t know?

I walk around – Touching everything I love once.

Changing because you were caught doesn’t make you honest
Changing because you were forced to confess and now live under watchful eyes doesn’t make you fixed.
Change because you can’t live being who you are – and change alone.

No matter which direction you choose, in 5 years you’ll be happy you did.

We were talking about how you can’t make decisions out of fear, or potential discomfort. That if you do, you don’t really ever go back.

There is a fine line between inconvenience and hardship

In what country do you live? What home?

You got older, and things happened (all windows of the cars on you street got smashed out)

Rich said he felt better after a friend told him, “Everyone has a box for problems in their heads, and no matter what’s going on in your life, the box will always be full.” It made me feel better too – so I’m passing it on.

Trying to turn the disillusionment into cash

All weird camera angles – And no story

I listened to the news of the world too early and so the rest of the morning I walked around feeling that everything was bad. Then through a store window I saw a book of drawings I just had to have. They made me happy so I bought them. Out on the sidewalk I realized that the only thing I can do about the state of how people have to live is offer what I can, whatever I have to offer, and go from there.

Pope Francis gives a surprise TED Talk, calls for a ‘revolution of tenderness’

Pope Francis gives a surprise TED Talk, calls for a ‘revolution of tenderness’

Pope Francis gave a surprise Ted talk this last week

Keeping with the intent of the week-long conference to share strategies to make the world better, Francis’s contribution to that conversation was to urge the people gathered here to use their influence and power to care for others.

“How wonderful would it be if the growth of scientific and technological innovation would come along with more equality and social inclusion,” he said to applause. “How wonderful would it be, while we discover faraway planets, to rediscover the needs of the brothers and sisters orbiting around us.”

Journey to Ixtlan

Journey to Ixtlan

There is one simple thing wrong with you – you think you have plenty of time.
If you don’t think your life is going to last forever, what are you waiting for? Why the hesitation to change? You don’t have time for this display, you fool. This, whatever you’re doing now, may be your last act on earth.

 

Easter morning

Easter morning

At daybreak, it is the women that are first to find Jesus has risen. They are the first carriers of the resurrection story, the first to encounter Christ risen and spread that to the disciples who are in hiding.

Peter and the beloved disciple then run to the tomb. What was that run like? The morning air stinging the lungs while the head swims with thoughts, wonder, and confusion? If someone told you your dearest friend was not dead – would you run to the grave?

Is our love such that we would run with such abandon to Christ where we can find him at work in EVERY heart in our world today? Entombed in the mental illness and addictions of the homeless, those in prison, the refugee, the forgotten elderly, relatives we are no longer speak with, the foreigner with strange ways, someone from the opposite political party than ours, coworkers that are difficult or malicious, the unborn that we are told do not matter and have no rights, the terminally ill, bullied kids, the disabled and disfigured, those with anxiety and depression, anyone ‘not cool’/ugly/unfashionable that pop culture says don’t matter, and yes, even the terrorist or even those that wish us harm?

Christ is at work in each of their hearts. We do not deny the difficulties and real dangers there, but should we not accompany him in the work he is doing there?

Easter vigil mass

Easter vigil mass

Easter vigil mass – the single most amazing mass of the whole year.

As the dark of night descends, the Easter fire is blessed, the Easter candle (the pillar of fire that leads the Israelites out of Egypt) is lit and we make entrance into a dark church. We read the stories of salvation history, sing the ancient exaultet, the Gloria with bells sounds for the first time in 40 days.

We had new converts baptized, we anointed adults with holy oils in confirmation, and the first communion is received by those who have spent a year in preparation. All the sacraments of new life are celebrated as Christ himself rises this night.

Holy Saturday

Holy Saturday

Holy Saturday

Saturday is the Jewish sabbath day – a day of rest. And so Christ himself ‘rests’ in his tomb while his disciples hide in fear. 3 days he lies in the tomb as they think the worst – that all is lost. A reminder that even crushing defeat cannot stop God – but that things happen in His time.

However, Christ is not inactive. It is long thought this day he descended to Hell and freed the holy souls trapped there before they had a savior. Before Christ, Jews believed all souls went to Sheol. The Harrowing of Hell is depicted in many early icons such as this one by Fra Angelico (1400’s) in one of his fellow monks cels in Florence. 

Good Friday

Good Friday

Good Friday.

Christ thirsts for us so much he offers himself to set us free. This one sacrifice celebrated at every mass throughout all time. And the cross – a sign of capital punishment – is transformed into the doorway to what sets us free.

But more. Michelangelo’s Pieta in Rome was inspired by this day. Any parent that has lost a child has a heavenly mother who understands the unspeakable loss. Today she is entrusted to the beloved disciple – and to us.

We have not only a Lord and savior that knows our human weakness and loves us. We also have a mother and advocate that knows even these pains of loss we can turn to – even when everything seems lost as the first disciples surely felt this day.

May we enter the silence with our Lord to contemplate the great mystery of these 3 days…

Holy Thursday

Holy Thursday

Today is Holy Thursday – the start of the Holy Triduum.

The Easter Triduum lasts from the evening of Holy Thursday to the evening of Easter Sunday. Though chronologically three days, they are liturgically one day unfolding for us the unity of Christ’s Paschal Mystery. The liturgy that starts Thursday goes for 3 days as one continual motion. In the holy land, Christians will often walk and go to the places where Christ himself went during the next 72 hours and re-enact the events that occurred there. The single celebration of the Triduum marks the end of the Lenten season and leads to the Mass of the Resurrection of the Lord at the Easter Vigil.

Tonight we celebrate the first mass which feeds us and the washing of feet that instituted our Christian ministry to serve the least of all.

Let us not betray our calling to be the salt of the earth – even if it costs us our lives. In the west, this might not mean our physical lives – but the comfortable trappings we use to isolate ourselves from those in need.

Then we too will celebrate the resurrection with joy – a brother of Christ who gave up everything for love of us.

No country for Old Men

No country for Old Men

Sailing to Byzantium
W. B. Yeats, 18651939

That is no country for old men. The young
In one another’s arms, birds in the trees
—Those dying generations—at their song,
The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,
Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long
Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
Caught in that sensual music all neglect
Monuments of unageing intellect.

An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress,
Nor is there singing school but studying
Monuments of its own magnificence;
And therefore I have sailed the seas and come
To the holy city of Byzantium.

O sages standing in God’s holy fire
As in the gold mosaic of a wall,
Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,
And be the singing-masters of my soul.
Consume my heart away; sick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is; and gather me
Into the artifice of eternity.

Once out of nature I shall never take
My bodily form from any natural thing,
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
Of hammered gold and gold enamelling
To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;
Or set upon a golden bough to sing
To lords and ladies of Byzantium
Of what is past, or passing, or to come.
Ryan Holiday “sex sells” is dead, long live “outrage sells”

Ryan Holiday “sex sells” is dead, long live “outrage sells”

How does that old adage go, “Sex sells”? I always wondered what would take its place. Now, I think we know. The new adage appears to be: “Outrage sells”.

In this excellent article, Ryan Holiday talks about how he created a marketing campaign in 2009 on a shoestring budget about a fictional internet blogger Tucker Max in order to promote an independent film. They then proceeded to troll the public and our institutions on their way to huge sales. They reached #1 on the New York Times bestseller list, sold out college bus tours, and made millions in ticket, dvd, and book sales. Often using our public institutions and media against each other – all for publicity.

“But my favorite was the campaign in Chicago—the only major city where we could afford transit advertising. After placing a series of offensive ads on buses and the metro, from my office I alternated between calling in angry complaints to the Chicago CTA and sending angry emails to city officials with reporters cc’d, until ‘under pressure,’ they announced that they would be banning our advertisements and returning our money. Then we put out a press release denouncing this cowardly decision.

I’ve never seen so much publicity. It was madness.”

It all worked. Ryan Holiday published all the manipulation he did and how uncontrollably successful it was in his book, Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator. He’s been approached by numerous people saying that this book is now ‘their bible’.

He describes his book thusly:

You’ve seen it all before. A malicious online rumor costs a company millions. A political sideshow derails the national news cycle and destroys a candidate. Some product or celebrity zooms from total obscurity to viral sensation. What you don’t know is that someone is responsible for all this. Usually, someone like me.

I’m a media manipulator. In a world where blogs control and distort the news, my job is to control blogs-as much as any one person can. In today’s culture… Blogs like Gawker, Buzzfeed and the Huffington Post drive the media agenda. Bloggers are slaves to money, technology, and deadlines.Manipulators wield these levers to shape everything you read, see and watch-online and off. Why am I giving away these secrets? Because I’m tired of a world where blogs take indirect bribes, marketers help write the news, reckless journalists spread lies, and no one is accountable for any of it.

He talks about how outrage can be leveraged with ruthless exactness:

Niche players and polarizing personalities are only ever going to be interesting to a small subgroup. While this might seem like a disadvantage, it’s actually a huge opportunity: Because it allows them to leverage the dismissals, anger, mockery, and contempt of the population at large as proof of their credibility. Someone like Milo or Mike Cernovich doesn’t care that you hate them—they like it. It’s proof to their followers that they are doing something subversive and meaningful. It gives their followers something to talk about. It imbues the whole movement with a sense of urgency and action—it creates purpose and meaning.

While many worried about “normalizing” their behavior, that’s the one thing they don’t want to happen. The key tactic of alternative or provocative figures is to leverage the size and platform of their “not-audience” (i.e. their haters in the mainstream) to attract attention and build an actual audience.

Let’s say 9 out of 10 people who hear something Milo says will find it repulsive and juvenile. But let’s say he can acquire massive amounts of negative publicity by pissing off people in the media? Well now all of a sudden someone is absorbing the cost of this inefficient form of marketing for him. If a CNN story reaches 100,000 people, that’s 90,000 people all patting themselves on the back for how smart and decent they are. They’re just missing the fact that the 10,000 new people that just heard about Milo for the first time. The same goes for when you angrily share on Facebook some godawful thing one of these people has said. The vast majority of your friends rush to agree, but your younger cousin has a dark switch in his brain go on for the first time.

His solution is an observation:

I realize there is legitimate fear of normalizing repulsive behavior. I’m not suggesting anyone give credence to real Nazi doctrine. However, historically, it’s usually true that banning and blocking usually has the opposite of its intended effect. Effective counterinsurgency usually involves bargaining, partnering and the reestablishment of norms—not hardlines.

In this, I think he’s hit the nail on the head. We must admit these things are out there. But instead of trying to silence them, ban them, shut them up, and break their windows – we must engage and defuse them. We may not like it, but other tactics only pour gas on the fire.

Personally, I think this is where a person could take a few notes on how God engaged with our broken humanity. I hear a fellow went out teaching this and they wrote a lot of that down in a book somewhere… 🙂

A few points to consider on that front:

  • The Christian always separates the infinite worth and beauty of the individual human person who is “created in the image of God” from their sin. This can be brutally hard at times – especially when that person wishes you real harm. This is how evil is disarmed. It is hard to hate others when someone sees the infinite beauty and possibility in you that they often do not see themselves. Hate is disarmed by love.
  • The cross is the center of the Christian life. It means dying to yourself to do what is best for others. As Louis CK said: The only time you should look at another’s bowl is to see if they have enough, not if you got your ‘fair’ share. It may require you to turn the other cheek. It might even cost your life as in the case of Christ.
  • A steadfast peace in your heart that comes from deep and daily relationship with God. With this relationship, cultivated in daily prayer and silence, you find something that can endure any trial and bring peace to any situation.
  • Trust in Christ that when you follow him in this wisdom, you will be taken care of. I have seen this many times in my own life and the life of my friends who have become priests. It may not be what you expect, but those that follow Christ are never abandoned.
  • Speaking only the truth. Without hyperbole, exaggeration, or outright lies. Let your ‘Yes’ mean yes, and your ‘No’ mean no. Anything else is from the evil one.