Too Seriously

Last year I tried a campaign of sorts to help an underappreciated, brilliant author sell copies of her book. The publisher had dropped the ball and wasn’t doing anything and so I tried to rally people into buying the book. As I was trying to tweet about it and gain momentum, someone tweeted back to me and said, I appreciate what you’re trying to do for the author, but really, the book took itself too seriously.

I have to say, that sort of knocked the wind out my sails. I thought the book was lovely, quiet, contemplative, and deeply touching. It was hopeful without being saccharine. What does that mean exactly? That it took itself too seriously?

I was thinking the same thing this week when someone mentioned I take my blog so seriously. Well yes yes I do. For some reason, though, this wording really rubs me the wrong way. I think, and I could certainly be wrong, but it sounds like, “you think it’s more important than it is”

I’m a pretty serious person. And for the amount of time I spend on my blog, if i didn’t take it seriously, than I think there would be something out of whack in my life. But also I am an overthinker. I know this, and maybe that’s why it rubs me the wrong way. I think about the things I do, I wonder if they have impact, I second guess choices I’ve made, and even things I’ve said to people. It’s not that I don’t know how to have fun, I do I promise! it’s just that I view life a certain way.

It’s not that I think I can change the world either, I know I can’t, I do really know this. But at the same time, I feel I do have responsibility through my actions, through what I choose to do with my time, to somehow make sure that I have a reason for them. And if someone asks me to consider what my actions mean outside of myself, I think I have a responsibility to do that.

So….this is just a little venting I guess. And an alert that I don’t particularly like the phrasing of taking something too seriously. 🙂

Wanting to Know what I Don’t Want to Know

Yes I lifted this title from The Sacredness of Questioning Everything and forgive me if I reference this book for awhile. But I really found this profound and one of the harder things to apply in life.

One of the books I read last year and never reviewed was Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture. I really thought the book was excellent and I learned a lot from reading it, I could just never pull my thoughts together for a review. (I also participated in a round table where everyone was much smarter and it was very intimidating)

Now when I was reading the book, I did that thing where I brought it up in all of my conversations and where I could just…identify discount culture everywhere. I was annoying everyone I knew, I know! But the real question is what did I do about it?

Not a whole lot. In fact, I probably tried to actively forget what I learned. For example, when I want to buy a book, I confess that after paperbackswap the first place I go is Amazon. Amazon is like the biggest, baddest devil of discount culture! But it’s convenient, cheap, and did I mention convenient? My closest independent bookstore, which for the record I do love a lot, is about an hour away. I go there for signings and will always buy something but I could never afford to do all of my book shopping there. Which leads me back to the question…do I really need to own books? Sure, Amazon makes book ownership possible but can’t I just use the library?

But wait…it gets worse. The closest store to me is Wal-Mart. Now as a matter of fact, I hate Wal-Mart. It’s always a mess, the goods aren’t very high quality, and half the time they are out of whatever I want. But I still stop in there from time to time to get stuff. I do go to Target much more often (still not great but better) but I haven’t completely banned Wal-Mart.

And then there’s the issue of clothes. It is SO HARD not to buy that cute top or pair of pants, especially when they are dirt cheap.

But that’s the thing…that sort of shopping mentality is all in the moment and in my mind. It’s not really cheap is it, if someone else is carrying the cost? And if someone else is carrying the cost, that means eventually I will be too, right? I should know this well, we do a fair bit of outsourcing from my work, and to keep the jobs we have…well the cost is high to compete with the other companies that have outsourced. I see this in the everyday interactions in the office, in the lost holidays and vacations, the strain placed on the families, the striving to just get through another month’s schedule.

So I learned a lot from the book, and I felt it’s truth and then I tried to forget it, because to apply what I learned well that would take actual work. Lots of work and living counter to culture and every message that I’m constantly fed, every message I’ve been fed since before I can remember.

But…now. This is now and I want this year to be different. I want to be different. I can’t keep running into this information and ignoring it. I can’t keep acting like I’m not a part of the problem and it’s okay if “just this once!” I buy these super cute jeans for this super low price. I can’t keep acting like my bank account is the final authority and decision maker and that it’s more important than the nameless faces I know are paying so I can feel like I’m getting a bargain.

I have to try to want to know what I don’t want to know. I have to for the sake of love.

Out of Balance

“The thing is, I’m truly terrible at taking it easy. I have a habit of piling things on and wanting things to be perfect and going out of my way to make things harder than they are. It’s not that I’m running towards success so much as trying to keep my big wide feet off the heartbreak path of failure.” The Heart is Not a Size (from an ARC but I don’t have to super vigilant about that do I, since this blog has like 5 readers?)

Oh Beth, how do you do it? How does so much of what you write just click?

I had a goal for balance and taking it easy this year and so far I’m failing miserably! And the thing is, instead of taking it in small chunks I’ve totally checked out the last two days which means that the end of this week is going to be really busy. It’s this weird sort of perfectionism I have. The kind that makes it hard to do anything except in the intense pressure and heat of looming deadlines. Ah well, tomorrow’s another day. Since I’m recognizing my inability to say no now, I must stop saying yes for the rest of 2010!

Um, any hints on this?

The thing is that time is so limited. And even though I want to do everything, if I say yes to too much I end up spending time, valuable time on things that are less important. I just have to remind myself that time is like money. Not limitless and if I spend it all on books I won’t have any leftover for clothes. 😛

To Know My Own Soul

During the day people tweet links and I can’t often take the time to go read them. So I usually sort of bookmark them by marking them as favorites and console myself with the thought I’ll have time to read them later. I often forget.

Tonight there’s a million things I should be doing. I should be writing reviews. I should be doing laundry. I should be writing some very hard emails. I also had a phone date with a friend but I think I got stood up. I have several projects I’m working on that are screaming for me to pay attention to them but I just don’t have the mental energy.

I’m tired. It’s been a weird week. Intense. Not to mention the fact that it’s been cold and raining which is, I know, I know the norm for so many of you. So tonight, while I should have been doing so many other things I started looking over the links I marked. And they were pretty good, really interesting. The funny thing about knowledge is that the more I get the more I realize I don’t know anything. It’s the great problem of the internet, you can scrape and dig and click and read and you’re still just barely touching the surface of all that there is to know. It’s how it’s possible to spend hours on your computer and not even realize the time has gone by.

Anyway, one of my favorite music artists is Justin McRoberts. (And hey he’s a really nice guy–he actually answers email.) I’ve always enjoyed his writing and his music–I’ve found something in it that resonates. He’s an indie Christian artist so I’m sure a lot of you don’t know him, but he’s going to be releasing a covers project. He’s been tweeting some previews and I know I’m looking forward to it but I just absolutely loved this interview at Soul Audio.

I love like, the entirety of the last answer, but I’ll pull out this bit:

I find a great sense of normality in songs like Georgia Lee; songs that reflect a disconnect between man and God. My experience of faith has been that it is a difficult road to travel on and ‘choosing to believe’ at times is a sacrifice of pride and intellect that I am unwilling to make. To trust God in the face of deep tragedy is most often not as simple or easy as waiting for the tension of minor chords to resolve into major chords which reinforce the soaring, full-throated declaration that “I will praise You in this storm.” While I think that declaration is beautiful and necessary in its place, so is the song that says “My boat sank and I lost everything I cared about.. where the hell were you?”……

It’s important for me to voice these things on a few levels. For myself to make my own soul known to me; art serves this purpose in my life.. I am able to read myself more clearly in the things I write, especially as time passes after a recording. I also believe it’s important to create space for the many of us who live here to have a sense of normalcy in our doubts.

I have to say that I love the idea we are able to read ourselves more clearly in the things we write especially after time passes. It is so TRUE and I’ve never heard anyone express it in quite this way before. There is something about what we create and what we write that is so honest in its initial expression, and I suppose that bears our image. And when we go back and look at it again we find ourselves, we’ve preserved threads of our journey and our souls are illuminated with the benefit of hindsight.

And I think even something small like keeping a blog or writing personal vulnerable reactions to books or film or music is a part of that. We record our lives so that we may know our lives.

Maybe I’m Finally Growing Up

Somehow I failed Christianity 101. You know how we all sang that song a few years ago…”It’s all about you, Jesus…it’s not about me.”

Yeah, that it’s not about me part still stings.

It’s like, at 29 years of age and at least 12 years of being a Christian by choice, I am finally getting that. It’s not really about me at all.

So yesterday I posted that quote about the joy of being wrong, and I agree with it, I do, but being wrong can hurt like hell.

And so today, I’m sitting there thinking, why does it hurt? Why do I feel so bruised and tender? Why do I want to run back to the safety of simply not giving a damn? And I can only conclude that I’m somehow twisting and turning things and making it all about me again. My own self-righteousness clogs everything up, tries to build a defense, tries to keep me from feeling the pain and just living in the place of being wrong.

It’s okay to be wrong. It’s okay to screw things up and not get them right, because it’s not about me. And for crying out loud what’s a little pain on my side if the end result is I become a more loving person, if I help participate in a more just world. Or, if at the very least, I stop standing in the way.

But at the same time, I know I need to feel things through. I need to live in the pain, I need to feel it, because pain unchecked, unprocessed can harden and become hatred, bitterness, or rage. Or at the worst…indifference.

I have always thought my sensitive nature was a mixed blessing….it makes me both too easily hurt but able to anticipate the hurt of others. But lately it just feels like an unnecessary burden and perhaps another way of making it about me. Well, at least I’m aware now. So far 2010 has been very intense! I hope I make it through in one piece.

(Thank GOD I have this blog and thank you for listening)

The Joy of Being Wrong

“But if we feel deep affection only for people who tell us we’re right and only give high fives to the like-minded, all we’ve done is joined a club. We risk becoming incapable of the give-and-take of genuine conversation. If all our friends and news sources require of us is a “Ditto” and “I think what you think,” we might be in danger of becoming impenetrable to wisdom, immunized against the sensation of sympathy, resistant to the pleasure of being amused by our own ignorance, and closed to the joy of being wrong.” ~The Sacredness of Questioning Everything by David Dark

And oh yes, I am loving this book so hard. And maybe if I have any original thoughts I’ll write real posts again but so far other people just keep saying it better than I could. 😉

Same-Same

Go smiled, said, “When we see ourselves without judgment, then we’ll begin to see and accept others without judgment. We’ll turn the volume down on the external world, and we’ll see we’re all connected, we’re all same-same.” ~Sometimes We’re Always Real Same-Same

Yup, I’m working on that this year.