Living Well: My Personal Story – John

During my junior year of college, I initiated a venture that tested my patience, rung my motivation, and stretched my mind. I intended it to be for my own good; I assured myself it would benefit me long-term. I insisted, “When you are 40 years old, you will be thanking yourself.”

Me in the park with friends during my freshman year.

Me in the park with friends during my freshman year.

Physical training had yet to grace my 20 year old, junior collegiate limbs: I enrolled as a soft, skinny, 170 pound freshman who was ignorant to his less-than-average appearance and physical abilities. When I stepped on the scale for Lifetime Fitness, my sophomore fitness class, I noticed 25 extra pounds on my body; I was unaware of my weight gain – and the unawareness scared me. My stereotypical guy-overconfidence shrank and I started climbing at the local rock-climbing gym with my one of my best friends. The gym’s yoga classes and climbing dropped 15 pounds off my stomach, built some strength, and granted peace of mind.

The end of my sophomore year solidified my interest in rock-climbing, and I wanted to approach the hobby seriously. Health and fitness research filled my free summer hours to prepare me for my junior year weight training class – which I was certain would improve my climbing. My diet changed during the summer, taking away five more pounds; my perspective also changed, instilling a desire to change my 40 year old self – making climbing a secondary motive. I began making decisions meant to improve my quality of life 20 years later: I pressed through my homework as hard as I pressed the dumbbells.

My priorities as well as my body changed during my junior year. The gym’s yoga class and personal meditation built inner-strength; weight training built physical strength. Introspection introduced me to someone I had yet to meet – myself. People became my priority; learning and fitness opened a door to my immediate community. Schooling taught me how to learn, and weight training taught me how to apply what I learn – consistent physical fitness taught me discipline.

There were innumerable occasions in the weight room when I questioned myself and what I was doing: “If you think this is hard now, what will this be like in 50 years? Do you really believe this is a lifetime endeavor?” That doubtful question almost always appeared during the last repetition of a weight. There exists a brief moment in weight training during the last push when you are convinced that you cannot push once more; it is in that moment that you must push once more because that is when you will grow, when you will see progress. That weight training philosophy manifested outside the weight room: when I could not read another page or complete another assignment, that was when I knew I must push once more because that is when I will grow, when I will see progress. That life philosophy inculcated discipline: I became strong in body and mind.

In retrospect, this venture strengthened my patience, grew my motivation, and expanded my mind. It proved beneficial, and I am Senior Yearcertain it effected me long-term – I thank myself today. Prior to my experience, I lived in the shadow of my potential: I lived unaware of my capabilities. Many of us are capable of things greater than we perceive. It is as though our subconscious disrupts any inkling of motivation to experience our true potential. Unless one is perfect, he has room for improvement; I found room in my health – do you have any hidden space to fill?

Ontology Crisis: Do You Exist??

“Men need some kind of external activity, because they are inactive within.” – Schopenhauer

SchopenhauerSchopenhauer, a German philosopher, walked this earth from the late 18th century to the mid-19th century, and he came to adhere to a faith in transcendental identity. Currently, I am not deeply versed with his work or philosophies, but I understand that he was influenced by Eastern philosophy.

This German philosopher and I share the same personality according to the Enneagram test.  “Men need some kind of external activity, because they are inactive within.” is a quote attributed to Schopenhauer and appeared during my personality study. Now one of my favorite quotes, it represents an ideal with which we should be acquainted.

If you busy yourself with cumbersome things for a long enough period of time, you will find yourself wishing you could do something else. You want to do something else because you are not fulfilled in what you are doing; in other words, you are not being you.

I know a number of individuals who, at some time or another, discovered that they are uncomfortable being alone for long periods of time. I speculate that this phenomenon occurs, at least in part, not because no one is around; rather, it occurs because you are the only one around – and you may be uncomfortable with yourself. Generally, being uncomfortable with yourself happens because you either know yourself well enough to believe you are worth disliking, or you know yourself so little that you are a stranger to your very self. I tend to believe the former is more commonly believed, and that the latter is more commonly the case. Once you come to a true understanding, or nearly true understanding, of what and who you are, you will understand that you are valuable.

You may or may not have noticed that 99% of the last paragraph is written in 2nd person: I repeatedly talked about you. This means that my assumptions are entirely up for debate, because I am not you. My question for you is the one I ask myself frequently: “who are you?

Becoming active within is vital because you are involved when I ask:

  • What do you believe?
  • What/who do you love?
  • Why are you here?
  • What do you do for a living?
  • What is your dog(s)’/cat(s)’ name?

You can claim neither to have faith nor lack faith in anything without first knowing who you are to claim it.

Is faith, belief, religion, morality. etc. present without you first being present? No. If you are sleeping inside, your faith is a dream.

I do not suspect Schopenhauer holds any contention to external activity, but I suspect he would contend with external activity meant to distract from internal activity.

To my brothers and sisters in Christ: Is “ministry” your external activity? Or is it a surging from deep within that you can neither suppress nor escape?

To everyone: If you have not done so already, do a little “soul-searching”. It may just be worth it; after all, this is life you are living. You should live it as beautifully as you are.

Further Reading: I See Dead People: An Old Adage  is my response to You Are What You Love by Phill Easley; both deal more with personal identity and may be a helpful step in self-discovery.

 

 

 

 

Draped with Chains: The Important Thing I Allowed Myself to Lose

There was a time in my life when I would battle within fortified castle walls, luxuriously abide in a mansion, and plot devious operations within the confines of my personal headquarters: my treehouse. Sometimes my treehouse served as a cabin where I would vacate from childhood woes and home life; as if either were not, in reality, quite nearby. I would retreat to the five-foot by five-foot loft on cool nights and sprawl my body across the gaping floorboards. If it were raining, I would peer out the somberly small square window, relaxing as I observed the rainfall.  My treehouse was what Lemony Snicket might call a “sanctuary.”

Formed out of semi-solid planks and glazed with chipping paint, my treehouse walls sheltered me with adamancy, sobriety, and the caring craftsmanship of my father. It was magic fortified with wonder.

These days, my dilapidating treehouse door refuses to allow my entrance; Life, who instructed me to grow up, locked the magic inside. The entrance is barred shut by others’ expectations of success and approval. Misplaced priorities and responsibilities concerning education, finances, and careers shut the window I once peered through. The world forged drapes of chains out of a cast-iron obsession with greed, power, and sexual inclinations. Common notions of how man ought to live, with and without faith, crucified the magic which hemmed me in.

No more will I allow the harrowed magic to remain as such. Jesus called us to be as one of the little ones, a child. Confidently, I pray that His grace and Spirit, dwelling with and within me, transform me into an all-seeing-child.

The life of a child is simple and undefined, allowing the father to guide and nurture it. The splendor of creation is my new treehouse, sheltering me with adamancy, sobriety, and the caring craftsmanship of my Father above. Its doors are open, unbound and abounding with magic and wonder within. Christ broke the bars of expectations. God’s grace swung open the window, and His unbearable peace shines through, illuminating the loft with his grand working and schema. The cast-iron drapes we forged are unlinked, scattered, and falling through the floorboards gaping with His Spirit’s breadth. God’s notion of how man ought to live is resurrected with the Son, restoring us to childlike magic. I am a child once more.

“…people die in monotony every day. Pain and euphoria remind us that we are alive. If the magic ceases to exist, then life is pointless.” – Autumn Jade Monroe

Heaven’s Heart: Revisting Siloam

Nearer the Beginning of November, I posted on this blog for the first time and am now returning for a moment to develop a thought:

“This man washed his eyes, blind, and dried off seeing. Likewise, starlight washes my eyes and illuminates Earth’s beauty. Comparatively, creation’s veil lifts, and her eyes mirror mine. No few nights have I gazed at the heavens and admired her worth, intrinsic and imprinted by her Creator.”

Comparatively, creations veil lifts, and her eyes mirror mine, reflecting an intimate, personal individual whose identity is understood in unison with his Creator’s flawless identity. Opening my spiritual eyes closes the eyes of my flesh, and the believers’ spirits surrounding me illuminate, appearing as a silhouettes whose shadows are cast as flesh. The soul incarnates the body which relies on its possessor to act, as a shadow does its silhouette.

Creation echoes the Creator’s voice; those disposed with spirit mirror his image. When he, created in the image of God, recognizes of the image of God, he simultaneously becomes enlightened of himself – and God.

The spirit reflects God’s image uniquely; and mankind, like a broken mirror, represents vibrantly the Creator’s image upon restoration.

Thence I say, no few nights have I gazed at the heavens and admired her worth, intrinsic and imprinted by her Creator.