Monday, April 29, 2013

I Ain't Skeered! I am Terrified!

I'm not sure which post it was. But I am certain I have already shared that my normal state of existence is that of being in a perpetual state of restless, irritable, and discontent. Most often that manifests itself as anger. In some social circles, I am still referred to as "Angry Kevin."

Several years ago, I was fortunate enough to have coffee with a somewhat famous fellow that belongs to my faith tradition. He has appeared on all the national news shows from Good Morning America to Larry King. He simply asked me one question. I don't even remember what he asked. I do remember going into a five to ten minute rant about my strong held beliefs and how NO ONE was living up to my expectations.

His next question was very simple. "Why are you so angry?"

It has taken years and years to come to grips with his question. What a shame! Because the truth is, I've never really been angry at all! I've paid a great price to come to this awareness.This knowledge has not come cheap. The harsh reality of the situation is that I've spent most of my life in various degrees of outright FEAR.

I am scared to death! And I cannot let anyone know! And what's even crazier is that if do go out on a limb and share this embarrassing truth with someone in order to gain their confidence and hopefully help them to see that, in fact, they are just fearful's often the last conversation we ever have.

After all, not only would John Wayne not approve of fear, he would not tolerate it for a second! This is America! We aren't afraid of anything!. We pull ourselves up by our own boot straps and don't depend on anyone for anything. So, in order to keep up appearances,  I go through life afraid of just about everyone and everything.

This path of self-reliance is very lonely, indeed. The path becomes even more difficult when I wake up every morning believing that I'm not enough. Knowing that I'm never going to be enough. And scared to death that you all know, that I know, that I'm never going to be enough.

So, the problem is clear! You are surely to ask "Well, Angry Kevin, have you found a solution?"

I learned the solution over 20 years ago when Tucker was just a toddler. We had taken him down to the community center for the free immunizations offered by the county. It was just down the street and money was tight. Teressa could never bear to watch. So she went into the corner to cry as I held him in my lap and two different nurses injected him in both legs at the same time. I will NEVER forget his reaction. He didn't even cry at first. He simply turned his head and looked at me as if to say, "YOU JERK! YOU ARE MY DAD! Why did you let them do this to me?"

A child is totally and completely dependent on a power greater than himself. He is forced to have faith and trust in that power (typically a parent) to protect him and comfort him when he's afraid.

Tucker taught me a valuable lesson that morning. And on most days, I am able to bring that memory into some kind of consciousness. And I am able to crawl into the lap of that Power, and be reliant and trusting, and He takes the fear away.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Where Have You Gone, Joe DiMaggio?

Hopefully, people who read this Blog have taken the time to go back and read the very first post. I mean....seriously...this whole thing was supposed to be a joke, right? On a whim one day, I decided to put my self-important, self-centered rants on the world wide web and see if I could get a few laughs and maybe challenge folks to think a little. No harm, no foul! Ha! Ha! Let's click on the link and see what that egomaniac, with the inferiority complex, is babbling about today!

Then, last Monday the unimaginable happened in Boston. A few days later, part of a small town in Texas is blown off the map! Whatcha got to say now, smart guy?

The truth is, I've got NOTHING! There are no words! I've been in an event with 25,000 fellow runners. I've crossed the finish line with my wife and daughter standing behind the "safety" barricades cheering me on. I've stopped in West, Texas for kolaches, just as everyone else I know who's ever driven down I35. My response to these tragedies has mostly been silence, and the SILENCE is DEAFENING!

So, when I started the last paragraph with "the truth is....", it makes me ponder, what is TRUTH?

I am NOT smart enough to philosophically discuss truth. I AM smart enough to Biblically define it, but I'm not going to in this forum. However, I will spout off a strong "opinion" and if you don't like it, you can start your own Blog!

I am SICK and TIRED of people saying to me, "Well, Kevin, that may be true for you. But it's just not true for me!"

Really? I get to VOTE on what's true? Trust me. I want a vote. But even I am not so arrogant as to think I actually get one!

It seems to me that in decades, if not centuries past, that truth was DISCOVERED. Now, we are witnessing a time in history where truth is CREATED. And in this creation of truth, the slide into the Abyss is nothing short of mind numbing!

Millions upon millions expect inhabitants of this planet to adhere to a moral law, while denying the existence of that law's Creator. Imagine that! An atheist denies a Creator, firmly denies the existence of an absolute moral truth, then actually has the gall to get pissed off if someone cuts him off in traffic. C'mon, dude!

Creation of one's own truth is the single most dangerous plague on this planet today! If you don't think so, just watch the news. The truth is that dude in North Korea is practicing his OWN truth! The truth is those boys in Boston (most of the media still have not called them terrorists) were practicing their OWN truth. And yes, the truth is Adolph Hitler practiced his OWN truth. Offensive? Yes! Inflammatory? Oh yes! But in the absence of an absolute moral truth, how can we deny these guys their vote and their right to practice their OWN truth?

"Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio? A nation turns its lonely eyes to you!" I'm not real sure that even Joltin' Joe could pull us out of this deadly business of creating our own separate and individual truths. I'm fairly certain I know Who can! Maybe we'll talk about Him one day!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Of Course, I Would Much Rather Be Right!

In an earlier post, I mentioned that my faith tradition has never been much for rote or memorized prayers. In that post, I spoke of the Serenity Prayer and even went as far as to change the wording of that prayer in order to make it more meaningful and applicable to me.

The courage to change the person I can and the wisdom to know that person is me lies at the very core of this blog. This realization was not true on the day I started. I started out just trying to get a few laughs, do a little venting, and maybe start an argument or two. But I am finding it close to impossible to throw some of these thoughts out into the blogosphere and not be confronted with a lot of these principles on, almost, a daily basis.

A month or so ago, I listened to a friend, for over two hours, as he explained, justified, and rationalized some ridiculously bad behavior. I finally surrendered! I cried "Uncle!" I could not listen to another word and threw in the towel. The wisdom to know the difference.

I did end the conversation, however, with the understanding that I was going to continue to hold him accountable and would reserve the right to point out things to him if I saw the need. He graciously responded that he had no problem with me holding him accountable as long as I never "told him he was wrong." He quickly laughed as he had immediately realized what a STUPID thing he had said. I just got into my truck and drove away.

All the above reminds me of yet another prayer that I've read dozens of times. The prayer was penned by Saint Francis of Assisi. Mother Theresa changed it up in 1985 when she addressed the United Nations. It is a beautiful prayer. You can look it up yourself. I'm just addressing the first few lines.

 This is what it said:

"Lord, make me a channel of thy peace---that where this is hatred,
I may bring love---that where this is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness."

This is what I read:

"Lord, make me a channel of thy peace---that where this is hatred,
I may bring love---that where this is wrong, I may bring RIGHT!"

Is this idea not abundantly clear to any normal, living, breathing, human being? The opposite of wrong is right! I need to be right. I need you to be right. I need the world to be right. Wouldn't we all be much bettter off if everyone was just......RIGHT?

Hundreds of times, I've had people offend me with the stupidest question I've ever heard. "Kevin, do you want to be happy or do you want to be right?" Thus far, I've answered EVERY time that "I want to be right."

Trust me, I'm aware of the hypocrisy of this stance. It is not consistent with the Serenity Prayer or the wishes of Saint Francis. But somewhere, deep down, in this heart of stone, the knowledge is there and a flicker of hope remains. Until that day....

Monday, April 8, 2013

Dying for 5 Minutes of Fame

In my post concerning Duck Dynasty, I made reference to Buckwild, one of MTV's reality shows. This past week, we learned of the death of the primary star of that show, Shain Gandee. At 21 years of age, he got liquored up and decided to go off-road "mudding" at 3 o'clock on a Sunday morning. Two days later, he and two others were found dead in his Bronco stuck in a mud hole in the very "holler" where he was born and raised. What an unbelievable waste!

For the love of Merv Griffin! What in the world has happened? I cannot put a finger on when this all started. But the decline has been slow and gradual. Afternoon talk shows that were so "scandalous" when they discussed Equal Rights or Abortion have eroded into some of the most disgusting displays of human depravity I've ever seen and folks are lining up to humiliate themselves in order to get their few minutes of fame!

In the end, it will ALL be about the money! Isn't it always? Does anyone in the television industry really give a popcorn fart about anyone they have on these shows? I seriously doubt it. And this includes the Diva herself who took an absolute baffoon out of obscurity and made him a multi-millionaire by simply having VICTIMS tell the most outlandish things about themselves and then having him ask, in his best Larry the Cable Guy accent, "Well, how's that working for ya?" Really? That's your expert response to this dilemma?

Poor, uneducated, and naive people volunteer to go on national television for paternity tests, shocking revelations, and fist fights. All this, so they can invite their friends over for a watching party when the show airs and see themselves on TV.

And that's just the talk shows! The reality shows are way more disgusting. These shows are leaving dead bodies in their wakes and nobody seems to care. I can think of another kind, caring, compassionate doctor whose dead body count is now up to nearly half a dozen because he preys on celebrities whose fame has faded and convinces them that TELEVISING very intimate and personal details of  the rehab process is a actually a GOOD  idea! Is it not obvious, to even an absolute moron, that broadcasting the detox and recovery process of a drug addict or alcoholic is such an egregious and pathetic idea that even Satan himself would not consider it?

Shain Gandee and the five or six people from the other show may have died anyway. But no one will ever convince me that the influence of money-grubbing TV producers had ANY positive effect on their lives. These shows' producers reward outlandish behavior and very intimate disclosures. In the case of Shain Gandee, they benevolently paid for the funeral. The survivors meanwhile, are left standing by the "debt-free" casket trying to put the pieces back together.

I don't know if Merv Griffin would approve or not! But it makes me want to VOMIT!

Monday, April 1, 2013

More, Better, and Different....

Last week I was bold enough to proclaim that "all my NEEDS are satisfied and that all else are just WANTS." Embarrassing, huh? I mean the implication, that I'm actually hypocritical enough to blast onto the world wide web, is that I am content with just my needs being met. What a joke! My natural state of existence is being in a constant state of restless, irritable, and discontent. I know as much about contentment as I do nuclear fission!

Anyway as soon as I typed those words last, I remembered a story that I heard over twenty years ago. I heard a presentation by a fairly "high-toned" attorney here in the Metroplex. (BTW, attorneys tell the greatest stories and they will always tell on themselves when they are not in a court room). This gentleman spent ten minutes describing his first car purchase after he had signed on with a very prestigious firm in town. He was certain that this car was the key to his happiness. I don't remember the make or model. But it was NOT a random selection for him. He knew the EXACT make, the EXACT model, and the EXACT color, with the EXACT options that would satisfy his desires. And not very long after joining this firm, he bought THE car of his dreams. Happy ending, right? Not so fast. In a kind of somber, yet humorous tone, this attorney explained that less than two weeks later, he was driving to work one morning, in his dream car, and the realization hit him squarely between the eyes that he had purchased the WRONG (Expletive) car!

I thought he was talking straight to me and that there was no one else in the room that understood and identified with that story quite like I did! How could he have known that I experienced the same type things in my life? (not that I've ever purchased a dream car). But I have known real disappointment soon after obtaining just the "thing" that would mean happiness for me. I'm not real sure I'm unique in this regard. In fact, I would surmise that almost daily, I and you (if you are honest) face the age old dilemma of wanting just a little MORE, a little BETTER, or just maybe a little DIFFERENT!

I see this "more, better, and different" syndrome all around me every day. For the past ten years or so I have sold custom hardwood floors and installed them in some of the most expensive homes in the Dallas area---one of which was over 28,000 square feet and sold for $32 million. Their kids were grown and out of the house. But these empty nesters needed a little MORE! And man oh man, did they acquire it!

Almost all of us have been affected either directly or indirectly by addiction.  Pot smokers laugh and scoff at those who claim Weed is a gateway drug to more dangerous substances. After all, weed is harmless, green, natural, and a gift from God's creation. But, I've never talked to a heroin junkie (and I've met a few) who said he was at a party when he was 15 years old and they were passing a syringe around the circle. For some reason, these "recreational" substances often lead to a little MORE and a little BETTER.

And don't even get me started on DIFFERENT! From educational degrees, to jobs, to houses, to cars, to clothes, to partners, (did I say partners? as in spouses, boy/girl friends, significant others?) don't we all fall into the trap of hoping for and longing for just something or someone that's just maybe a little DIFFERENT?

While I'm at it, I might as well go ahead and throw the church folks into the mix, where they belong! Yes, I've seen it in religious circles too. Actually, I've seen it much more in these places than I really care to admit on the world wide web. It seems that even us "spiritual" folks (we despise the word religious....we're SPIRITUAL!) fall into the snare of  seeking, in our spiritual walks, just a little more, a little better, or a little different. This one is actually a little more difficult to explain. And this will be the first Post that really irritates some of you, and you are gonna want to argue about it. (Good luck with all that!) Because it looks like this: It feels so good being spiritual and I'm feeling better than I've ever felt in my life. But my spiritual walk would be so much better if I could just be the teacher, or play the drums in the band, or lead worship, or speak in tongues or preach on the radio.....This list  goes on ad infinitum! I am not necessarily judging anyone who does any of the above. But "more, better, and different", when it's justified under the heading of "spiritual" is often as disturbing to witness as watching a pill popper make the switch from prescription medication to street drugs. I've seen folks transition from a humble follower, just trying to rely on their God, to screaming, shouting, "speaking in tongues", foaming at the mouth, flopping around on the floor like a fish out of water......then try to convince me that it's the Holy Spirit making them do it. I guess we understand HOLY differently! And trust me....just because the church has a band, it doesn't mean that you are suddenly the drummer and have the voice of an angel!

MORE, BETTER, and DIFFERENT! From the halls of academia, to the corner offices of corporate America, to the small houses in suburban Dallas, to houses of worship, to streets and alleys, CONTENTMENT is hard to find! I've looked for it for years, in some, if not all of these places. Seems quite illusive to me. But I will not give up! And I will let you know when and where I find it.