A few months ago, I reflected on what I had learned since starting Jiu-Jitsu when I received my first stripe on my white belt. In short, I began to learn how to become humble, resilient, and not play the victim when hardships in life come. You can read more about that here.
Yesterday marked the second milestone in my journey when I received my second stripe. My big takeaway this time around:
In jiu-jitsu, a belt is a belt. The number of stripes, or the color of the belt, doesn’t make a bit of difference when you hit the mat and roll a couple of rounds. Yet if the belt doesn’t matter during battle, why do those who practice the art look at the higher belts with respect?
Like many Americans on Thursday, my attention was riveted by the Senate hearing of Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh. At times I found myself identifying with Ford’s “camp”, and at other times with Kavanaugh’s “camp”. I couldn’t understand why I was so conflicted about what I was hearing and seeing. Over the weekend I tried to think about what transpired many times and guess what? I still find myself conflicted…and that’s OK!
The air was crisp and the sky clear. It was early in the morning and the surrounding homes were still stirring to consciousness. The birds and gentle winter breeze were all that could be heard, as they did their dance through trees and blades of grass. The boy took slow and controlled breaths as he leveled the shotgun.
What is seen in war does not haunt a man as much as what he does in war. War brings out the best in men, sure, but it also brings out the evil bits as well. Man carries out actions in war he did not know he was capable of. It is those things a man must spend his life coming to terms with. A man thinks himself honorable until he is not. Society lifts him up as a brave hero while the evil he has committed eats him up.
This story is my way of dealing with my inner demons. It is my way to process the evil I have done. This story is not meant to dishonor the brave men which have served - and there are many. This story is meant to shine a light on the darkness people don't like to expose. War is a complex beast. History will lift up certain men and heroes, and others as villains. In reality, they are both.
"There are two ways to be wealthy—to get everything you want or to want everything you have." - Ryan Holiday
From the time I was a young man until now, I have always chased "wealth". Whether in the form of money, power, or success, I have always strived to be the best. And more times than not I have succeeded.
Four years ago I tried my hand at some creative writing to help process some of my experiences while deployed to Iraq. This is one of those stories. Our lives are a moment away from being turned upside down. This event still sticks its ugly head up in my memories every now and again over a decade since it happened. Someone witnessing this scene would have seen a Marine patrol crossing the road and a vehicle which had trouble stopping. For me, a jammed weaponed prevented a lifetime of nightmares and torment.
Four years after writing this, and over a decade since it happened, it is finally time to let my creation enter the world. It is not an action-packed or heroic war story, but for this old Marine, it has been a therapeutic story to write.
This past month I wrote a blog post every day. I have learned a lot from this experience over that time. My hope was that by writing every day, that it would help me get over some of my insecurities, fears, and pride. I think it has put me well on track to do that.
We all go through moments were life seem meaningless. As if there is no point to it all. Maybe a loved one dies, or you feel like you can't advance in your career. We all go through seasons of questioning, but we always seem to find our way back to some form of meaning. But what about in a concentration camp? What about if you had to endure the greatest suffering a human has ever had to endure? Can meaning be found in the midst of that? In "Man's Search for Meaning", Viktor Frankl, a Holocaust survivor, tries to answer just that question.
Yesterday I wrote about morning routines, and afterward, I received a few questions about my personal morning routine, so I wanted to clarify a few things. First, the timing of the routine is not as important as having a routine. The only challenge with having a morning routine later in the morning is that you will have more people and things to guard that time against. Secondly, if you are wanting to get up earlier you have to think about when you go to bed. So today I want to touch on the importance of a bedtime routine.
A few years ago I wanted to create a few habits that would grow my strengths and minimize my weaknesses. Habits such as reading, journaling, and continued education. At first, I found creating these habits to be a difficult undertaking as I was trying to do them after work. Something would always come up which would get in the way. Then I discovered the power of a morning routine!
What is "writer's block"? The dictionary describes it like this: "the condition of being unable to think of what to write or how to proceed with writing." In school, I remember "writer's block" being thrown around as if the student got the flu. "Sorry, prof, I came down with a bad case of 'writer's block' and wasn't able to finish that paper." But is "writer's block" really a condition the author can contract?
Sunday afternoon, four of our five kids left for summer camp. My wife and I were looking forward to a quieter week with just the youngest child at home. Then yesterday, my parents asked if they could come to get the youngest child for the night. A night without any kids? Yes, please! And what a wonderful night it turned out to be.
By a raise of hands, how many of you think having limits in life is a blessing? Living in America, there is a pride in our freedom. We should do whatever we want, whenever we want. Having limits can restrict our freedom and creativity. But what if they don't? What if limits are the just the starting point to our freedom and creativity?
As I was reading Ryan Holiday's, "Ego Is the Enemy", yesterday, a chapter seemed to jump off the pages and slap me in the face. It told me to listen up and take note. It was a passage I needed to hear during this season of life. The chapter was about John Boyd.
Yesterday I wrote a little bit about the injustice which comes from inaction. Today I want to continue on the theme of injustice and talk about the injustice of ignoring. Plus, my wife and I have been watching "The Handmaid's Tale" - which we love - and I was reminded of the quote above.
We have all heard the saying, "ignorance is bliss", but have you ever given thought to how true and profound that is? Knowledge can be a haunting and burdensome thing to discover. Ignorance on the other hand - although still dangerous in many cases - is freeing.
Americans are familiar with the quote, "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing". It has been a rallying cry to justify our wars and to celebrate our independence. The Stoics, however, wrote about this concept thousands of years prior to this famous quote in regards to everyday life.
We as people like to pride ourselves when we see an injustice in this world by decrying it with a, "if I was there I would not let that happen!" As if we are some moral Superman who is able to write all wrongs in this word if we were only there to do something about it. But I don't think many of us would.
There are few things in life which are certain. Suffering is one of those things. Entire religions have been created to understand, and give meaning to, the issue of suffering. At some point in every person's life, suffering will come. You become sick, a loved one dies, you are fired from a job you love. Suffering comes in many forms. At times it may not impact you directly, but everyone knows someone currently suffering. So what are we to do with suffering?
Today my mind is somewhat blank when it comes to writing about a meaningful topic. In an attempt to keep the habit of writing going I'll use a writing prompt. The prompt? A story about a long-term goal I accomplished.
Social media: Is it harming or helping our society? Some will argue that it is making more people depressed because they are comparing their lives to the "highlight reel" of others. Others will argue that social media has been the only way they are able to stay up to date with friends and family. I believe both camps are correct, which makes me wonder, how are we to interact with social media? I have created three simple rules which have helped me.
Today I want to share a message from my dad as he begins his battle with cancer. So far my dad, along with our family, have had a sense of peace as he enters into his fight. We know not every day will be easy, and we will all have days where we are discouraged, but we are confident in where we find our strength. His message today is a great reminder for anyone going through any struggle. I love you, Dad! I'm proud of your attitude and fighting spirit already!
At ten years old, Anne Lamott's brother had left a school project - where he was to catalog a large number of birds - undone until the last minute. Seeing his son was in a panic, their father told him not to worry about how large the project was, and instead to take it "bird by bird". Lamott recalls this being the best advice on life and writing she has ever heard.
I know, I know...another book with a provocative title. Books with titles like this seem to be a dime a dozen today. Unfortunately, they continue to sell, and so they continue to get created. After seeing other books I have read, and posts I have made, a co-worker made this recommendation to me. When I finally picked up Audible this month, I had him send me this book to listen to. But is it any good, or just another book that has sold because of the title? Let's take a look!