Carpe Aeternum

Finding the Eternal in the Every Day

Archive for the tag “writing”

Still There

A discussion I heard on Mike and Mike has kept me thinking. Greenie, talking about people who last a long time in sports build a legacy and, if they stick around long enough, can rewrite their legacy, said “there is something about still being there”. Longevity, at anything, pays off.
I wish I could reference this blog as the paragon of this but, unfortunately, it isn’t even a feeble example. Sure, I have put several years into this and posted quite a few articles. But the consistency needed to be a voice, at any level, that an audience pays attention to has not been evident here.
I missed a week because things got busy. Then I had a better idea unwritten and wanted to wait for that to develop before posting the one I had ready. Then I felt like I needed something really big since it had been awhile. Then it faded to the back of my mind. Not blogging became the new habit. I suddenly disappeared.
How else have I done that in life?
Previous posts talk about how I have let fade relationships with people who are very dear to me. Unfortunately, I have not succeeded in reconnecting most of those. I takes effort to regain momentum and I wavered in my resolution to drive this. Not that the people were hard to connect with; when I did connect it was wonderful. It’s just surprising how hard it is to make a phone call when it’s been a while since you made a phone call.
Keeping things going takes energy but takes less energy than starting up again. I know this. I have experienced this enough to know the reality of it, yet I let things fade.
I know I’m not the only one. Everyone struggles with this in some way.
I know that I can’t successfully continue everything in my life and add other changes that need to happen. Somethings need to go. It’s like juggling: you need to empty your hand of the current object so you can catch the next one. Only so much can fit into my day, into my life. If I want to include something new, I have to let something else go.
I just want to be more deliberate about what that is and how and when it happens instead of just one waking up and finding that something else has fallen to the wayside.
I want to still be there. I want the benefits that come with longevity.

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Entering the Struggle

In his book, “In Sunlight and in Shadow”, Mark Helprin discusses the need for something to struggle against for life to have purpose, to have meaning and to have value. His main character Harry , refuses to remove himself from conflict, either immediate or in the larger scale of life, feeling that the struggle is needed to grow. It is needed to find happiness if it causes turmoil and distress for the time being.

This feels reminiscent of The Matrix. Agent Smith tells Morpheus that the original matrix made everything perfect but the humans rejected it. We needed suffering to make our lives make sense. That created a purpose and acceptance that the fake reality was real. It’s like humans need something bad to enjoy the good.

There are days that I agree with this and days when I don’t. then there are the days I live in blatant denial that there is any struggle anywhere near me and my life. Then there is the factor of how much of my struggle is First World Trouble: I had to throw out a bag of spinach because it spoiled before I could eat it all.

I agree that some struggle, some conflict is necessary for us to grow, to be our best. To achieve more. Without it, we float at whatever level of convenience I have recently found. And I want to be sharp. I want to grow. I am ready to face some difficulty to do so. SOME. Not much, but some. A few of my recent posts have explored this theme a bit, both my awareness of the need and my general ambivalence toward approaching it.

This is the concept of muscles needing stress to grow. As we exercise them, they get stronger but that only happens through stressing them a little to catalyze that growth. Struggle, as uncomfortable as it may be, can bring good.

Someplace in my heart, in the depths of my mind, I know that I need to embrace the struggle, perhaps even pursue it to make my life better. But my couch is comfortable. And inertia is powerful.

My daughters had a teacher that pushed engaging the struggle, that being the point where true learning happens. I like to learn. I truly do. I even enjoy the challenge a new subject offers. But challenge feels less threatening than struggle. Maybe that is just one of the oddities of the swamp of my mind, but the words mean significantly different things to me. Point is, I don’t know if I like learning enough to truly struggle for it.

But I hate stagnating too.

Todd Henry, author of Die Empty discusses that our definition of passion may be askew. We often think of passion as that which brings us joy or excitement. But the truer definition of passion leans toward suffering. A passion therefore would be something we are willing to suffer for. Or, perhaps, to struggle for. In In Sunlight and in Shadow that something is life and living. For me it occasionally is. I used to think that I would struggle for my art, my writing but lately I find it a struggle to want to struggle for that. But I do want to want to.

Just deciding whether to struggle feels like too much of a struggle some days.

Brad Bellmore Gets a Life – 17

We watch Biggest Looser in my house and I entertain fantasies of getting fit while watching. Some days I’m even motivated to exercise. Gradually, I’m creating a lifestyle that is more health focused. More active anyway.
One of the things that drives me nuts with the show is when people whine and quit in the middle of a workout. Let me say now, and first of all, that I am fully aware of my hypocrisy as I bail on workouts all the time. Actually, I might cut 5 minutes, or reduce the intensity level on the elliptical part of the way through. That said, I once was a fitness stud and I understand the importance of pushing through to the end. I get that I need to persevere rather than quit.
I remembered what it was like to play ball in college and when we had three-a-days for training camp. That last practice each day was a matter of will, not strength. We did what we did because we forced our bodies to do them. The sprints at the end were the worst. I literally had no energy to run forty yards, much less do it again and again. But I did it. Somehow, I did it, just as all of my teammates did. We whined and moaned. We never cried because we were men, manly men. But we suffered and pushed through.
Sure, I wanted to quit. I wanted to with every step. But I didn’t.
At this point in my life, if I ever am to have a life as I often propose in this blog, I need to rediscover that ability. To be able to push on by will when my strength and courage are gone, that is a virtue that I have let atrophy beyond recognition. Perhaps I would have finished a novel or two. Perhaps I would have pushed through to publication. Perhaps I would have not gotten fat and lazy and stuck in a rut.
Perhaps.
More importantly is, “what the hell am I going to do about it now?” I’ve gotten myself into this rut and I’m in process of getting out. Maybe someday, and hopefully soon, I can recover my strength of will and push forward. It may start with not lowering the intensity of my elliptical work. It may begin with actually hitting my self imposed deadlines on this blog. Whatever it is, this resuscitation needs to happen. If I am to get a life that is.

Brad Bellmore Gets a Life – 12

Lackluster World by Eric Adams is a brilliant indie comic that poses an interesting question: where were you the day you died?

The basic idea revolves around defining death as no longer living and given the way most people plod through life, their aren’t living. So, when did they die? Did they even know it? I know I certainly missed it. At some pint I realized that I wasn’t really living but I didn’t realize that I had when I did.

So, Adams’ words are inspiring to me at this stage in my life, in the midst of my trying to get a life. If I want to live I need to avoid “not living”. I need to make deliberate choices to become more alive.

I joined Toastmasters in attempt to get more speaking into my life. Yes, I’m one of those weird folks that enjoy public speaking. I’m trying to squeeze some more writing into my life, writing beyond this blog. A few books are festering away in the deep recesses of my brain; perhaps they will see daylight someday. Exercise is turning out to be a game changer for me. Just little incremental doses of endurance are teaching me to persevere once again.

There is a story to be lived and I think I’m starting to hear the muse again.

Brad Bellmore Gets a Life – 8

Paulo Coelho in his book The Alchemist expresses the belief that if you state your dreams out load and make them a goal, the universe will conspire with you to make them happen. A wonderful sentiment that I decided to try. My experience is that if you state a dream as a goal, the world will conspire to prevent it from happening.
It seems that everyone around you immediately tells you it can’t be done. Some will encourage but armies will discourage. But then, other interactions with the encouragers make clear that they are patronizing you. Of course there will be a few that really mean it and truly hope and maybe even pray that you succeed or that you at least try well and gain satisfaction from the effort.
Why are so many people against dreams? Is it because they have none? Or that they’ve given up on them? I’ve tried giving up on my dreams but life was too bleak. I can’t survive bleak. I can survive failure so I’d rather flounder in a morass of failure and maintain some sort of dream rather than embrace bleakness.
Because life needs something. Some kind of hope or aspiration to hang onto or it withers away and nothing is left. Why live then.
I hate mediocrity but I also can live with achieving my best even if it is merely mediocre. But it takes risk to even boldly pursue mediocrity. It takes risk to fail. Sure it takes risk to succeed but since I don’t have a lot of history with success, I’ll leave that to someone else to discuss.
But I’m trying to live life here and I can’t do it without my silly dreams. So onward I rush into the foolishness of my efforts. But they keep me alive. And I can live with the world against me if I can dream. So let them conspire against me. The stories are going to come.

Brad Bellmore Gets a Life – 7

In the Vineyard (the denomination that I attend) they often bounce around this phrase: Faith is spelled R-I-S-K.  Actually taking some sort of a risk is promoted, typically in a realm where it puts our faith on the line and we have to expect God to do what scriptures say he’ll do.

My last post here I mentioned that I want to try to take more risks. So, as a good Vineyard boy, I should be doing churchy things to accomplish that. And in some ways, that is a good place to start.  The idea of praying for people and expecting God to make a difference always stretches me. Even if I’m comfortable with the concept, the environment and the person being prayed for, I still feel a little worried that it won’t turn out the way I want.  The way I want shouldn’t be the issue, but what God will do for the person we are lifting in prayer should matter, but I focus more on what I want. Like not looking stupid.

So, again, this is a decent springboard for me. If for nothing else, taking the risk of looking stupid in order to see if God will interact in someone’s life.  But I think some slightly bigger risks might be in order. Like accepting the opportunity to preach in two weeks.

I am one of those odd people who like to speak in public. I get nervous and I worry about what to say, but it’s fun to d while I’m doing it. I look forward to it. But there is always the fear boiling inside of me that I have nothing of significance to say. Or that even if I do that my audience will not understand it or care. In short I fear that my efforts, though fun, will be pointless.

But beyond that, and maybe this is one of those for the future things, is meeting people. Quite honestly, I’d rather speak in public than meet people. I hate meeting people. It is too personal. Speaking to a group is a bit removed and not as risky because of that. If they don’t like me it’s they. If I meet you and you don’t like me, that is a tangible real person; you are not they. So someday, as this “taking risks to develop the ability to take bigger risks to tell a better story grows out of me trying to get a life”, I will have to meet some people. I will have to man up and make some new friends. Or enemies. Or more likely, acquaintances.

So, baby steps. Risky baby steps aiming toward that eventual big leap. God, have mercy on me.

Brad Bellmore Gets a Life – 4

I recently heard a pastor make the case for fear being the greatest sin we can commit. His reasoning basically went this way. He felt that fear was the opposite of love, that it drives us away from others and from God, preventing us to take the risks of faith, hope and loving others. Therefore, since loving God and loving others are the two greatest commandments, then the thing that prevented that the most proved the worst sin.
I don’t know that I agree with him fully, but I agree with it enough to comment on it here and let it shape my quest to live. When I look at my kids, the thing that bothers me the most is when I see them act out of fear. I hate when they do that. I don’t want them to create a pattern of letting fear make the decisions in their lives. Sometimes they are scared by something that should scare them, something that is threatening or surprising. Those things are easy to recover from. A car racing by too close to the curb is a real threat and elicits real fear. But some comfort and reassurances that they are ok allows them to move on. But the moments when they pull back from trying something because they fear that they might fail or what others might think of them – that’s the stuff that drives me nuts.
I want them to know that can fail as freely and as frequently as they want and that I’ll still love them. I may get frustrated if they don’t learn how to adapt and overcome, but I’ll not stop loving them. And I’d rather have them try and fail than never try at all. I want them to know freedom. I want them to be capable of taking big risks.
I know, somewhere in my heart that God feels that way about me. He wants me to live and to love and to be free. He wants me to taste life and enjoy it. He wants me to be bold and not worry about what others think. He wants me to be myself as fully as I can. And every time that I let fear kick me in the balls and abdicate my freedom, God gets pissed. Not a hate me and will never talk to me again pissed, but I’m sure there is a deep growl in the back of his throat. I can here they thought of “don’t let fear do that to you.”
I’m pretty sure God wants us to turn the tables and kick fear in the balls.

Brad Bellmore Gets a Life – 3

As I’ve written here before, I once was known for being resilient, tenacious and persevering. Somewhere along the way, that ceased to be true. I’ve given up and grown old – just like in the Weezer song. How did I get here?
I’m not really sure. I know there have been some small decisions along the way that I’m aware. Perhaps there are hundreds of them. To my recollection, there was no big decision to become like this. I always enjoyed being alive. I always longed for the fuller, richer life experiences. Just somewhere along the way I quit embracing the discomfort and hard work associated with those.
I didn’t get lazy as much as complacent. The cost of doing something exciting or adventurous didn’t appeal any more. I knew that on the other side, the payoff would be worth it. I just didn’t want to change what I was doing to accommodate it. I wanted what I had more than the new experience.
As that happened, I forgot how to fight, how to struggle for what I want. I got in the rut and stayed there because it didn’t seem worth the effort to climb out. And now that I have travelled a long way in the rut, I am trying to figure out how I got where I am. The truth is, where else would I be if I refused to deliberately change course?
So, I begin the scramble. I am climbing out of my rut. I’ve been trying to for over a year now and have yet to succeed. That’s not completely true. I haven’t succeeded in escaping my rut, but I discovered the joy of the struggle again – at least a little bit. Even simple little choices like engaging in aerobic exercise and seeing the workout through to the end have invigorated parts of me that have lay dormant for far too long. I am discovering how to persevere again, even if only on a small scale. The hardness of changing my life starts to appeal to me. It in itself is an adventure. And I’m beginning to crave it. I will somehow get a life.
And as the line states at the end of the most recent film of Peter Pan “To live would be an awfully big adventure.”

Brad Bellmore Get’s a Life – 2

Donald Miller is one of my favorite authors and with the soon to be released movie of Blue Like Jazz, I have been pondering his influence on my life. That book made me rethink many of my perceptions on Christianity. He made me consider what am I really believing in and find a way to connect my faith to my life.
To Own a Dragon, his take growing up without a father. To him, a father was as mythical a creature as a dragon. This book connected with a lot of my thoughts and feelings of growing up without a father, some of which I did not even know I had until I had kids.
Another challenge to my faith and why I believe what I believe was Searching for God Knows What. It even challenged me to think about how I express what I believe.
But, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years pushed me farther than any of the others. The basic idea of this book revolves around Don realizing that he wants to write a better story for his life. This is actually spawned by the process of creating the movie mentioned above. Anyway, it resonated with me when I read it given that my life is rather a rambling mess than a cohesive story. I felt inspired at the time to make some changes. That was short lived, mostly because the various waves of depression stemming from unemployment plowed that inspiration deep into the dirt.
But now, as I ponder how I learn to live, to truly be alive for whatever is left of my life, the movie surfaces and stokes again the fires of creating a better story. Which is what I hope to do here, both explore the process and tell the story.
And so, I set forth in quest for a life worth living and a story worth telling.

Brad Bellmore Gets a Life

I was out to breakfast with a friend of mine who said, “I mean, I just turned forty. I just want to live. You know, to be alive.” That struck me. Back in college I had friend that always greeted me with, ”Are you livin’ life?” The sad part is that I have had seasons when I have lived life but for the most part I have failed at it. I have ridden the winds like a leaf, floating wherever I was carried.
My career path hasn’t really been a path but more of a meandering. Mostly again, taking the next appealing thing or at times the least unappealing thing that paid me. I have never done a job that I loved. There have always been aspects that I loved, but not the job. This became painfully clear in the midst of my unemployment. I had no direction. I had no purpose. I needed a focus and the determination to follow that purpose.
You see, I had dreams. I was going to be a writer. A famous, rich, acclaimed writer. I have written but the dream has never been realized. The largest portion of that failure is my fault. Lack of consistent production of writing. Not being deliberate about pursuing publication.
And I think that is the biggest thing of it all. I have larger failed to be deliberate. My life has been lived like a rover that never really roved. I haven’t wandered the world to learn the mysteries or find the adventures. I have larger just been. Unfortunately that isn’t even in the good sense of being like a Buddhist might inspire me to pursue. This is not a good being because I haven’t even found the living of being in simplicity and finding myself. In fact I probably have done more losing of myself than anything.
So now, before I get too much older, I am trying to be deliberate about living. Perhaps this is my midlife crisis. Perhaps this is my coming awake. Perhaps this is me finally living a story worth telling.
Perhaps it is only the flavor of the month. I’m hoping that it’s not. I’m hoping it is the beginning of something long lasting. I’m hoping that I am finally getting a life.

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