Sunday, November 15, 2015

Tragédie à Paris

It dawned on me yesterday exactly how many times I've been working and touched by tragedy in the last several years.

As I sit here in the lobby of my old Starbucks and tap away, I clearly remember working the night of the shootings at Clackamas Town Center, and speaking with customers as they drove by the window in tears. I was at work shortly after the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary, and remember the chilled atmosphere amongst the customers.

Six months ago, a student at one of the high schools I covered was killed during the school day as she drove home from the local community college. I watched the students react in heartbreak over twitter throughout the day, and was part of the team covering the candlelight vigil that night.

I was on my way to the office on Oct. 10 when I learned about the shootings at Umpqua Community College — just 75 miles from where I live.

And just a few days ago, I sat trapped in the car, listening in horror as the terror in Paris unfolded.

It's really hard to pretend that sports matter on those days.

When Kerrigan Clark was killed, I struggled to return to work. When the students in Roseburg were murdered, I sat in a daze at my desk and listened to the chaos in the newsroom as we bent under the weight of what had happened a short distance away.

The town of Roseburg is still humbling to drive through. There are a handful of billboards along I-5, two of which carry Umpqua-related signs. One carries has large white letters on a black background, bearing the message, "UCC STRONG; we will prevail together."

It's hard to process all of this. The recent murders around the world (and that includes Beirut, in Syria, in Iraq...) are a powerful reminder as to who holds the title of prince on this hell-bent rock.

As often as I've been reminded of what matters in sports — the relationships, brotherhood, learning and growing, the emotion — I've also been drawn to do work that really matters. And not to waste time on things that aren't important.

My heart doesn't break for this lost world often enough. Asking the Lord to open my eyes to how much the earth needs redemption is a terrifying request, but if that's what it takes to motivate me out of my meaningless rut... so be it.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Chasing the self-motivated man

I've spent ample time over the last few weeks thinking about sources of motivation. Being closely connected to athletics, I find it amazing to watch a kid who is self-motivated.

I'm not that way, not really.

I've spent too much time focusing on being better than the next guy, and not enough time trying to be the best version of myself. And that's unfortunate, because those two things are rarely at the same level.

I'm a competitive person, by nature, and therein lies the reasoning for much of what I do. If somebody else plays a game well, I want to play it better. If someone else writes a story or wins an award, I want to write it better. I find myself wanting to sing better, to give gifts better.

For starters, it's a terribly selfish habit, but that's another blog post on humility. I know how I come off sometimes. It's coming.

The bottom line, though, is that I think I've forgotten how to compete with myself. My reason for pushing myself has been external — in my job, and in my personal life. It extends to music and relationships, and worms into my family relations, as well.

I think it's Envy-based, which is something I've written about before. Remember, self, thank the Lord for his blessings when Envy starts to creep in.

Being more grateful will be the first personal aspect, I think, and it's important to keep things in the right perspective. Our society looks at a self-motivated person as continually saying, 'I can, I can.' It should be more of an, 'I will.' One presents self-betterment as a possibility, and the other as a reality.

This upcoming holiday season is a big opportunity. It's a chance to be genuine, and I have a shot at examining what my goals are in how I relate to people. What matters more: my being better than the people I'm around, or that I do my best in whatever I do?

Should be an easy answer. I will.

Monday, November 2, 2015

To walk, to wake

Rather late this morning, I finally convinced myself to get out of bed and drug myself across the hallway to have a machine make me coffee.

A sandwich and copious doses of caffeine in my system, I returned to my sheets and was about to click through to one of my Netflix addictions and continue to waste away my day.

This has become a pattern, and one that's difficult to break. And a day in bed doesn't exactly mean a day of rest — rather, it usually ends at three or four in the morning when I get bored of Criminal Minds and decide to sleep until the process begins over again the next day.

It makes for a sleepy — literally and figuratively — life.

But today was different. Coffee still in hand, I pulled my office chair from my closet and began organizing my things. Dirty laundry went to wash, clean laundry went to drawers and I went to work cleaning my life up.

I trimmed the beard last night, for the first time in two months. I'm getting a haircut tomorrow, and the old, ripped clothes that have been stowing away in my closets for the last few years are being disposed of. My bed is made, the dishes are put away and the floor of my little room is clear of obstacles.

I found my collection of wool socks, and might have let out a little murmur of pleasure when I put them on for the first time this fall.

I'm hoping that, somewhere deep in my consciousness, I've decided to wake up.

Looking back, I wonder how many opportunities I've missed for fear of upsetting my lazy routine. The chance to be in shape, the chance at making the last few years a little less lonely by stepping out and embracing my community. The chance at a stronger walk based on unrelenting trust.

I'm still hiding behind a screen, but I've moved to Rogue Roasters. It helps to clear my head, and with a few of the cobwebs knocked away, I find myself frustrated at the lack of meaning and progress I sometimes see in life.

This blog is full of quick-fix ideas. I'll give up Facebook for a week, I'll have my phone off on Sundays, I promise to be more active, I'll be working on immediately acting on God's whisperings... there's a little bit of everything.

Three years later, what is different?

Habits are built and broken. Sins are contracted and eradicated. That's all part of the process, but the whole idea is the difference in my heart. I've long wondered when the Jesus-thing will just click and make sense. I've asked for a Damascus moment, but it seems not very many people get those -- and for good reason.

I think God wants me to choose that on my own. I've got to make the conscious choice to DO something with my life. To change, to grow, to love.

To walk, to wake.