I think we’re lying.

Not just to others, but to ourselves. I think we’ve compartmentalized our lives into something they were never meant to be…a series of isolated rooms that desperately need to be interconnected but that aren’t allowed to be, and therefore throw us into a state of frustration and angst.

I used to be a huge fan of compartmentalization. It was the way I kept my sanity for a while…I had to be able to “swtich off” the office when I came home and not think about it. But, as with any coping skill, there is the potential for things to go wrong. I eventually became good at it. And, as a result, I’ve spent the last few years with frustration and angst.

We have to look at ourselves and others holistically. Moreover, we have to look at life that way. We have to get rid of the lines we’ve drawn between aspects of our lives. No more lines between work and home, no more lines between family and friends, no more lines between sacred and secular. They’re all one. Am I saying bring work home with you? No. Am I saying try to prosleytize everyone at the office? No. I’m saying, be you. Be who you are created to be. Because that is’t a fragmented person. You were created to be a whole person, and that whole person should go with you everywhere, to everything, even if they do seem contradictory.

Because let’s face it, in today’s world and lifestyle, there are contradictory elements. I’m a counselor and an artist. I’m a Seminary student, but I have no desire to be a professional minister. I have a logical and diagnostic side, and I have a creative and tempramental side. But they all form me. We all have contradictory elements in our lives. But the source of frustration is when we attempt to isolate them from each other, to let them form almost different personalities for different days of the week, or different times of the day. That’s just dissociative. It does so much more harm than good. It prevents us from being real.

We do the same thing externally. We view life in fragments instead of as a whole. That’s why we don’t take God with us through the week, we leave Him at church on Sunday. There is no “personal” and “professional,” there is just us. There is no “Christian art” and “secular art,” there is just art. There is no “religious time” and “me time,” there is just time. There is just you. No Clark Kent/Superman split, it’s just you. And you’re a wonderful you. You were created to be you, and there is a purpose for you being you.

So go do that. View the world as a whole, and go change it.

We would all be better at that if we would just stop lying to ourselves.


There’s something to be said for anonymity.

I’ve lived in small towns, rural areas, and urban areas. I know what it’s like to bump into 5 people you know at the local supermarket, and I know what it’s like getting lost in the crowd running to the corner drugstore. I have to say, I like getting lost in the crowd much better.

But I think that is true in every area of my life. I’ve been to small churches, and I’m currently in a very large church. I like this one much better. I don’t like running into people I know all the time. I don’t like everyone knowing my business, and somehow thinking that what goes on in my life is their problem. There are certain people I let into my “inner circle.” I trust them, and I surround myself with them, my family and friends. I don’t need a thousand other people around that know who I am. Close friendships are of enormous importance to me, but when I’m walking down the street, I have no desire to know everyone that I pass, or what their story is. I just don’t want to know.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a compassionate person. I’ve worked as a counselor for some time. I care about people…I just don’t want to be intimately connected with everyone. But, I suppose, writers are, by nature, a bit reclusive.

I think we all have some of this lurking inside of us. A frequent topic on one of my favorite podcasts is privacy in our technology. When I think of people having the ability to monitor where I go on the internet, it irritates me. I have nothing to hide, but they have no business knowing. When I think of the government being able to monitor my phone calls, I’m furious. I have nothing to hide, but they have no reason to listen. We all like our privacy. That’s why a home is such an integral part of the American dream…it’s our own place to do our own thing with no one to complain or barge in.

No matter how public we are, we need privacy. We need our own time. I just finished reading a chapter in John Ortberg’s “The Life You’ve Always Wanted” about solitude. He makes the point that we all need time every day to be alone, away from phones and faxes and email, to just meditate and be still. In our hectic lives, there’s just too much going on to make this practical, though. The “to-do” list on my Palm Pilot today was close to infinite, and it looks worse for tomorrow. Yet I have to make that time. I fear insanity for us all if we don’t take that time.

It’s critical to be quiet.

So Many Firsts

Hmmm. I’ve never done this before…blogging I mean. I have spent the past few weeks, since my beloved announced I would be joining him, settling into my new job teaching seventh grade Reading and Language Arts–a challenge; settling into newly married life; and finishing moving in–I still have one box to unpack and most of our thank you notes to write (Dave just noticed I am writing and is literally jumping for joy in our tiny kitchen). Needless to say, I hope, I haven’t had much time to begin this new thing.

I love trying new things, but I struggle with firsts. I like comfort and familiar things. I have lived in ten different places in the last five years. Life really does move fast. In retrospect, however, the times when life moved more slowly the memories created held more meaning. My most recent memories are so blurred, whereas I can describe in detail several events that occurred in my life before I was even in the second grade.

I wonder if this has anything to do with the trend of poorly performing students. Not to sound cliche, but when I was in school things were simpler and I learned so much. Is there an information overload? A professor I know told me it used to take somewhere between fifty and a hundred years for the world’s knowledge base to double, and today it takes more like five, if that.

Should we limit knowledge?

Or required knowledge?

Should our government regulated public schools be in charge of those limitations?

I am struggling to make the material I am required to teach interesting, and it is ridiculously difficult to be creative when the county dictates which texts must be taught at each level. Most of these texts have no personal connection whatsoever to the students I work with. How can they learn if they are bored and embittered?

Oops…Crossing Jordan is on…have to run!

Pac Man Philosophy

I was watching this guy play Pac Man tonight. Yes, Pac Man. The little yellow guy who tried to munch all of the pellets in the maze before the ghosts got him. He had four power pellets in the maze, and after eating one he had to many seconds that he had the power to eat the ghosts for extra points…you remember.

Okay, I’m dating myself by writing this…

Anyway, it was one of those little joystick games that you plug into the television and it has like four classic video games from back in the day.

I remember the debut of video games. I remember my parents playing pong in the living room. I remember once I accidentally hit the reset switch while they were playing, and they were a little ticked off…

I remember being hooked on Frogger, and Space Invaders, and River Raid, and, of course, Pac Man. It’s funny….as a technology enthusiast (you say nerd, I say enthusiast), I’ve always told my friends that I was never much of a gamer. But thinking back on it, I suppose I was. I remember there being (at some point) a Pac Man cartoon. I remember the animated characters being in this fairy tale land of suburbia that was always bright and happy. I was blessed with a loving family that was very close, and so life was, for me, just as bright and happy at that time. I hadn’t a care in the world. In a word, there was innocence.

I have a friend who’s a hard core gamer. He had a PSP and the X-Box 360 within hours of them coming on the market…hard core. Spends money on his gaming like some people do cars. Its his major hobby. But I’ll be honest, I look at a lot of the games today, and I just don’t get it. I’ll admit, I had a momentary addiction to Halo, but overall, the games just seem…well, they just seem different than they were in my childhood.

In a word, violent.

Ironically, so is our society. America as a culture has grown more and more violent every year. Years after my Pac Man addiction, when I reached high school, I worried about what to wear to school that day and whether I had a date that weekend, not about the potential of being shot. We didn’t have to carry clear bookbags. We didn’t walk through metal detectors. I don’t envy those in our public school system today. Our children should never, ever have to worry about those things.

And I see very violent video games today (True Crime, Streets of L.A., for example). Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of great video games also (my friends were also spending a good deal of time with Tiger Woods Golf on the 360 tonight). But many, many games that are much, much more violent.

I think video games are artistic expressions. I don’t buy into the garbage that life imitates art for a second. As I’ve said before, I think artists see the troubles in our society before anyone else. And they express it. Different artists in different ways. But what some artists do with video games is just as valid as any Picasso, its just a different genre. These games, as with many other art forms, are imitating life. Perhaps we should take a good look, especially those of us who are sheltered from life on the street, and ponder the lifestyle and digression that these games are portraying. Because they are what our children face every day. They are what many adults face every day. They are a cruel reality that has been painted on the screen for all to see.

Our innocence has been lost, but perhaps, just perhaps, we could still reclaim a bit of it if we really tried. You think?

Long live Pac Man.

What is Art?

Have you ever been to the Philadelphia Museum of Art?

The architecture itself is stunning. The view from the front of the steps into downtown Philly is breathtaking, especially at night (I’m fascinated by city skylines at night). Wonderful masterpieces are contained therein. But, of course, what most people think of when they go the Philadelphia Museum of Art is…”the Rocky steps.”

For those of you who haven’t made the connection, the steps in front of the Philly Museum of Art was the filming sight for the climactic Rocky scene where Stallone runs up the steps with “Eye of the Tiger” playing triumphantly in the background. Countless visitors duplicate this every year. It’s one of those things that, if you haven’t done, you’ve just missed out. I did it last summer. It was a blast. You feel as though you’ve experienced a bit of Americana.

Today, the Rocky statue was taken back to the museum to be displayed. There has been a significant amount of controversy about this. Today, a professor from a local university was quoted as saying that the Rocky statue isn’t art. The debate is just that: is the statue art, or is it pop culture?

My question is, why can’t it be both?

Visual art is something that transports you into a different realm of consciousness, a realm that you couldn’t have acheived otherwise. Anyone who has been truly transported by a painting or sculpture can understand what I’m saying. The thing is that, the piece that transports you may leave me grounded. Likewise, what moves me beyond myself may leave you scratching your head. All art forms are relative. I know that drives social-science types crazy, but it just is. It means different things to different people. That’s part of what makes it art, be it visual, performance, written, musical…what a performance or a poem or a painting says to me, it may not say to you. It’s an individualized experience…as individual as a fingerprint. God made it that way.

Artists tend to reflect what is going on around them. They see the layers to a society that others don’t. They’re deep thinkers…it’s in their nature. Artists are the first to realize the dangers of societal trends, years, even decades before anyone else does. They see layers to our civilization, our culture, and reflect it in their work. Art must have culture to survive. Likewise, culture must have art to survive. It’s a symbiotic relationship. To attempt to separate the two like this…I just don’t get it.

Pop culture is still culture. In fact, it’s usually a more accurate deptiction of our culture than is academia and high society. The Rocky statue is a cultural icon. It is American heritage. It takes us back to where-ever, or whatever, we were experiencing when we saw the film. Incidentally, the film was a piece of art also. One work of art reflecting another, and reflecting culture simultaneously…sounds deep to me, perhaps even profound in its own little way. The Rocky statue is certainly art. And it is being moved back to where it belongs…the museum. Let people appreciate it there. Perhaps those who wouldn’t be inclined to enter the museum will appreciate this artwork in it’s plaza, and appreciate it. They will experience something they may not otherwise have experienced.

And, as with any encounter with art, they will be better, if even in a minute way, for it.