Archive for October, 2010

Can we talk about something lighter?

October 2, 2010

The last few days have been a bit heavy on the soul searching.  That happens when you spend time inside your own head.  Try it sometime, just don’t scare yourself.  I found some areas of my brain with cobwebs so thick you would have thought we were in my grandma’s attic.  I’m not heading in until this afternoon today which gives me sometime in the morning, between wiping kid’s faces and making sure they aren’t getting too dirty to deal with something I’ve been avoiding: getting a new car.

I currently drive a very cool, Jeep Cherokee Sport.  It’s a 2001 which is the final year they made that model before moving on to the Jeep Liberty, Patriot; Compass lines that I guess make us feel more Anglo American, less Native American.  Of course, that’s just a quick opinion.  Anyway, I’ve come to the realization that I may have to get a mini-van.  Yep, take your jaw off the floor, it’s true.  I’m a family man after all, isn’t that the next step?  The fact that I’ve avoided it this long is probably something commendable I’m hoping.  Plus, it will better justify my purchase of some sporty two seat BMW when I hit my midlife crisis in a few years.  Of course, being a sensible person, I had to make a list of pro’s and con’s to getting a mini-van. 

Pro’s:  space (you can seat seven, have captain’s chairs for the kids which means they can sit next to each other in their own seats plus the seats come out to load drum equipment, bicycles, rocket launchers, etc), remote doors (opening the sliding doors and tailgate has to be a good thing right? Especially if you can catch someone standing behind your car a bit to close), smooth ride (let’s face it, the Jeep Cherokee sport wasn’t exactly built for cruising down the highway for hours on end at 75 MPH), add ons (I’m sure I could spring for the DVD players, heated seats, pleather or leather like substance, self cleaning, self washing, automatic driving, etc. that these things must come with now right?)

Con’s:  IT’S A MINI-VAN (toss the years of cool out the window that you have built by being in a band and the sideburns aren’t going to help since they decent from a scalp that is gradually getting more and more bald, your only hope is to get tinted windows and put on a few stickers that say things like “my other car is a Harley” or “my dog is my copilot”)

Guess I’m off to get my argyle sweater vest, some penny loafers, dad jeans and a mini-van.  It’s a sad day indeed.

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2 more hours to work through the past

October 2, 2010

It’s Tuesday and once again, I find myself sitting in a chair.  This time it was just two hours and they seemed to go by a bit faster. I’m not sure if it was the foresight to wear my glasses instead of my contacts (when you sit and meditate, your eyes should be closed and if you wear contacts, your eyes can get very, very dry) or if I fell asleep.  Or maybe, it could be it was half the time I sat the day before.  I can be so brilliant sometimes in spite of myself.  Something was bothering me yesterday that I mentioned.  I started thinking about it a little more after the morning session and it kept coming back to my mind.

I’ve long been angry at my parents and other parents in the church where I grew up for keeping something from us.  When I was in third or fourth grade, our AWANA leader was this guy who played guitar and led the singing time and then we would quote Bible verses to him that we learned, usually that same night because we were all super smart or something.  He seemed like a decent guy, I guess.  We may have made fun of his size, or the fact that he was on welfare but still had a satellite dish in his back yard to get lots of cool channels (keep in mind we were kids and didn’t know we were supposed to be politically correct yet).  We all got along so that’s really all that was important at the time.

He came up with an idea for our group to take a bike trip that would start from the church and head up to a wooded area about two or three miles from the church.  In hindsight, I’m not sure why that was wise simply considering the hills and age of our group, but we all thought it was a great idea since we liked riding bikes and going up hills meant you could go down them too.  After telling our parents of the plan, the first thing they all asked was “who is the other adult that is going?”  We were assured by our leader that there would be another one with us so everyone was happy.  However, when we got to the church to start the ride, he was the only adult that was going to go.  The kids (me included) couldn’t have cared less.  The adults were all skeptical.  Mine didn’t want me to go, but I insisted.  What could go wrong?  We were kids who knew how to handle our bikes.  We really only had one major intersection and I was sure we would all be able to ride much better than him anyway.  If there was someone to worry about it was him (in my mind because of his riding skills, in the adults’ minds…some other reason).

I’m going to spare you the details of the ride.  We went up hills and down, had to wait for him to catch up on several occasions.  We all brought our own lunches and ate them in the woods.  We rode back and our parents picked us up.  Mine asked about the ride, what had happened, was there anything unusual, etc.  I found the questions strange at the time but just answered.  The ride was fun, we rode a lot, had lunch and rode back.  That was that.

Years later, when I was in high school, this man, who had taken us on a bike trip by himself was arrested.  He was caught with a few boys and sent off to jail.  I was shocked.  My classmates were shocked.  What we didn’t know and our parents did:  it was his second offense.  He had already served time BEFORE he was our AWANA leader and took us on that bike trip.  Now I understood why my parents had such apprehension.  We dodged a bullet of sorts.

So why was I still angry?  Who was I angry with?  My parents?  Initially yes.  I couldn’t believe they didn’t tell us who this person was and why they were concerned and what we should watch out for and that they were concerned that day for legitimate reasons.  But what if they had told me, would I have even understood?  I have no idea.  After considering this situation that happened so many years ago, it really time to let it go.  Before I do that though, I have to consider the topics.  There are two things at stake here. 

  1. Forgiveness.  The church had forgiven a supposedly reformed man (and to my knowledge, they forgave him again when he finished his next jail term).  Could I forgive the church for putting him in charge of not just mine but other groups?  I’m not sure.  Does it make sense for a recovering alcoholic to tend bar?  Would you have a reformed kleptomaniac guard your valuable possessions?  I’m going with no for both of those questions.  So why on earth would you have a convicted pedophile work with children?  I don’t have an answer so I guess I have not forgiven the church.
  2. Parental responsibility.  I think my parents acted in the way they felt was best.  They wanted to give this person a second chance for the good of the church and didn’t want to prejudice me toward this person.  I’m sure they also didn’t want me to mistrust everyone and felt that as long as there were other adults around, everything would be okay.  Now that I have kids, I wonder how I would deal with the same situation.  We’ve already started talking to our daughter about avoiding strangers, sensing danger and not getting into cars with other people.  It’s a delicate discussion.  I don’t want her to fear everyone, but also do not want her to trust everyone.  Of course, now we can check online to see who in our neighborhood is a registered offender so we’ve got that going for us.  I’m okay with how my parents handled the situation because frankly, I’m not sure how I would have done it differently. 

I think in the end, I’m at peace with the situation.  We were fortunate that nothing happened and my parents handled it the best they could.  I have no idea what happened to that guy but I’m hoping for his sake and for the sake of others who he knows that he has completely reformed and can live a productive life. 

2 Hours in a chair will mess with your head.  If I can start letting things go that I’m hanging onto for no real reason, those 2 hours are well spent.  Let’s go for another few tomorrow shall we?

4 hours in a chair

October 2, 2010

Yesterday I sat in a tent for four hours in a chair.  If you know anything about me, you probably wonder how on earth I could have sat in one spot for that long.  I’m still trying to figure that out myself.  We’re at a retreat that includes a number of different things that are a bit complicated to explain at this moment.  A quick summary involves people walking into a building to visit with a person and you are called in the line based on how many times you have been there and if you have seen the person before.  There are a lot of people in each line and the lines are called in an order that is set that morning.  My group was last.  In fact, I think I was the tenth to the last person to go through and so I sat for four hours waiting.

Of course, while you wait, you are asked to meditate and build the energy in the room.  Wether you believe that is possible or not is a debate for another time.  I can tell you that when you walk into the next building you do feel this surge of energy that has been building and it can really throw you for a loop if you aren’t expecting it.  What I found interesting was my mind while I was sitting in the chair that long waiting.

I’ve been known to take long, solo bike rides.  Of course, long is relative.  I call long 50 to 70 miles.  Some would call that a warm up ride, others would call that two weeks of riding.  At any rate, my mind goes through many areas when I’m climbing hills from asking myself why I’m there to scolding myself for something I did when I was 12.  Sitting in the chair was not much different except my brain went a little deeper since I didn’t have to focus on pain (other than my butt from sitting so long) or watch for cars or animals.

I walked from one spot in my mind to the other.  From, what would happen if you just focused on something for longer than an hour to my embarassment from ruining video footage shot back in high school.  Why did my school get rid of a teacher halfway through the school year?  Why didn’t our parents tell us our AWANA leader had spent time in jail?  How many hours do I waste in front of the television and do I really get anything redeemable from reading our local entertainment newspapers?  What if one of the bands I was in actually made it big?  What if I hadn’t waited as long as I did to meet my wife and instead settled for a previous affection?  How will the kids turn out?  Will they go through the same issues that I did or can I somehow save them from that only to push them in an entire different direction that is unfamiliar territory?  If my mind is going to wander, couldn’t it go more places than just three?  I could really use a steak right now. 

And that’s just in the first five minutes.