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Saturday, January 6, 2018

This has been a good week for us. Monday, we decided we were going to take a step towards having a simplistic, happy life by foregoing television during the week, on days Declan has school. Today, I can say this has been a good decision. Personally, I didn’t miss it, but I also know the first week of January isn’t a good week to judge anything by. It probably would have helped if we had been home more than one night, as two nights we were out in town somewhere.

A few things I did notice about having less sensory input included having better sleep, better concentration, and less consumptive urges. I even ate less at night this week (maybe partly due to having my sinuses stuffed up.) We have gotten so much out of seeking to live in the moment. Hopefully this will help me notice more within my surroundings, including the family and “friends” to be grateful for. This is something you will begin to notice about life (at least if your experience is anything like my own.)

Declan and I spent last Friday through Sunday in Virginia with my family, while Anna stayed at home suffering with an ear infection. While at my Mom’s house, I stayed up late talking on New Year’s Eve with my mom. We got on the subject of Babel, specifically the place and event known as “The Tower of Babel.” She pulled up a Ken Ham youtube video, of which we talked about afterwards. She asked me if I knew why God had foiled those people’s attempt at building a tower to Heaven. The answer was simple, and something you’ve heard many times if you grew up in church. I have been thinking about part of the answer ever since. They were trying to build a tower to Heaven to “make a name for themselves,” and the response God gave was basically if these people succeed at this, nothing will stand in their way from doing whatever they want.

Even though I oversimplified this a bit, the part about nothing able to stand in the people’s way if they were of one mind about something was interesting to say the least. So I’ve been thinking about this principle in the different manifestations we see, and don’t even think about. Specifically what I’m driving at is how much of our lives must be lived with others, and when a creative project takes off, many times it was not a one-man effort. Think about when you hear a song on the radio. This one song has multiple unnamed people playing instruments for accompaniment with the “artist,” the “artist” likely didn’t go after this creative dream without the input of a family member or friend, and all this could not be turned into a format for mass-consumption without the help of the producers, or people who made the production software. Much of my life I have thought about what I call the “ripple effect,” in which every interaction you have with another person in life affects them in some way. It doesn’t matter if this is an unknown person you passed on the street with a smile. That smile could have made all the difference in the world to that person.

Young entrepreneurs learn early their business will not take off if they don’t have the capital to invest. Where does this capital come from? Most likely they will have to convince other people to buy in to their idea, such as an Angel Investor, a loan from the bank, or through a social media campaign. Businesses from Wall Street to Manufacturing will not run by themselves, but need all their employees working together, under a set of guidelines (the same mind), and leaders who know where to turn the focus of all this energy and work.

The Church is built around this idea. What church has existed without it’s members? Besides that, The Church is made up of many members, and even those of us with the smallest input are a part of the great work The Church has been called into. Jesus said the fields are ripe for harvest, but the laborers are few. He also talked about how one man may plant a seed, but never see the fruition of the mature plant. Still there are others who come along and harvest a field they did not plant. We all, as members of His Church have different jobs, different fields to help in harvesting, and through the gifts given to each of us, learn whether we are the planters or the harvesters.

I know the talk about the Church will likely cause some readers’ eyes to glaze over, but if you are willing to read my thoughts about this, perhaps you may find something here that is applicable to whatever your life looks like.

For in this world we live in there is a need for hope, love, and the Oxford comma. Most of us would agree that meeting a stranger nowadays is… well, most of us would prefer not  to meet the strangers around us. However, each of us is a stranger to someone else, and can you argue that you would not like to have someone stop to help you if your car inexplicably decided to stop working while you were on your way home from work. Who has had the experience of having their food paid for in a drive through by the person one car in front of yours? Is “pay it forward” strictly a “Christian” thing to do, or is it not part of being human, that we feel good when doing good for others? All these are obvious ways of touching the lives of others, but who will stop to talk with someone who is not in need, but may just look lonely? How do you know that your kind words were not why they decided not to commit suicide a week later? (It’s likely you’ll never find this out either.) I suppose most of us would just shrug it off as someone else’s work, but if you came into contact with that person, it is arguably just as much you who are responsible for their loneliness, as you are just as capable as the mysterious “someone else.”

I work in the field of Automotive manufacturing Quality Control during the week, and one thing I have noticed and passed along to others is that if you have touched the part, it is just as much your responsibility as anyone else’s to ensure that part was a Quality part.

This is one of those components we’re driving at by learning to just Be. To live in the moment is to begin to notice events like this. To live in the moment is to learn to listen to those still, small voices that tell you this time is different; that this time you should talk to the person with the sad face. What else do you have to do? Where else do you have to be? If you are living for the moment, you are not in a hurry to get home so you can catch up on a show, or sit in front of your computer screen for hours, depressing yourself with Facebook. What do you have to lose? You may potentially be trading all those things that held your mind captive for the freedom to just sit silently, allowing your mind to wander; or to stop in Aldi and ask someone how they are doing? (On a slightly unrelated note, several months ago a man stopped me in Aldi to talk, ending the conversation asking if I liked chess, and giving me his phone number.)

So I would invite you and your family to join us on a simple journey of seeking to live the moments of life fully. To be present more, and stop walking around life as if we are all consumptive zombies. We are basically puppets of the market. My five year old son is addicted to “Plants vs. Zombies.” Every day I get home he asks me if he can play. Lately I’ve been thinking about how much a metaphor of life this game can be. I wonder if the creators know how ironic it is sometimes, that people want to play this game as an escape, and end up walking around like zombies with a phone connected to their brain. This is what we are seeking to avoid in our lives now. Instead of allowing zombies in to eat our brains, we are planting; sowing defenses to keep the zombies out.

If you decide to go a week without television, let us know. We would love to hear from you! If this turns in to a regular thing for your family it can do nothing but help!

May we all seek to consume less, and look for those that need our help.


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