A Useless Cinquain

Boredom
Planless, alone
Dreams and games and art and worry
The inspiration for it all
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A Blitz, of Sorts

“Mind without Meat”

Blank page
Blank mind
Mind your manners
Mined for answers
Answers forthcoming
Answers without questions
Questions are annoying
Questions your integrity
Integrity is wholesome
Integrity is rare
Rare is the bird
Rare but not undercooked
Undercooked meat
Undercooked ideas
Ideas are like butterflies
Ideas are cheap
Cheap eats aren’t always good eats
Cheap drinks can be costly
Costly phrases for the ages
Costly plays make a great game
Game of thrones
Game of loans
Loans are not investments
Loans and savings
Savings are not leavings
Savings and groans
Groans at the thought of leaving
Groans at the thought of staying
Staying true to yourself
Staying the hand that strikes you
You wish you knew what it was all about
You never really know until you do
Do you know the song of love
Due to an unfortunate miscalculation
Miscalculation is the art of finesse
Miss Calculation would make a good name for a math teacher
Teacher said I was smart
Teach her well so she will succeed
Succeed where others were sure you’d fail
Succeed at what no other would try
Try to bend the rules now and then
Try to not want
Want what you can never try
Want some bitters to go with your gravy
Gravy is as gravy does
Gravy is the icing on the cake of the meat
Meat and cheese and vegetables and bread
Meet the cheesiest one of all
All
Bread

Okay, that was pretty weird. It’s my half-hearted attempt at a poetic form I just learned about, called a “blitz” poem. I didn’t quite follow the rules correctly, and I certainly didn’t make any effort to plan it out so it would be any good. So it’s basically nonsense. But it was kinda fun to put together.

If I wasn’t so cold and tired and busy, I might actually enjoy sitting down and crafting one properly so as to actually express something beyond the weirdness of how my mind associates phrases when left unguided. But even just the exercise of barfing out a technical example was somewhat enjoyable.

I like structure for its own sake, sometimes. Creativity thrives when facing limitations, and fades when there are no boundaries to lean and pull against.

Creativity, in other words, is a tomato plant.


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I Am Not a Cat

But you can see that, I suppose.

How are you doing? As of this past weekend, we are eleven months into operating under pandemic restrictions. A year ago today, what did you think mattered? What were you looking forward to and what were you dreading? Thinking about this reminds me of how bad we all are when it comes to our assumptions about the future.

But that works both ways, too. Whenever you find yourself thinking, “This problem will never get better,” I want you to remember that you don’t have a great track record of predicting your own future. Most of our assumptions about our own futures are based on way too little information. And we get lulled into a false sense of foreknowledge because just assuming that the future will be like the past does, in fact, work up to a point–but then when that point comes we are suddenly wildly off track and totally unprepared.

That’s how comedy works, by the way. It’s where the “rule of three” in humor writing comes from. A joke is something that intentionally sets up an expectation by drawing to points on a graph, daring us to assume we know where the third point on the line will go, only to smash our expectation with a punch line that shows the line wasn’t a line at all but a curve. Our momentary resorting of our expectations versus our results, and the tension and release that comes with that, is the core of comedy.

Where am I going with this? Well, on a serious note, I hope you are finding ways to laugh, to surprise yourself, to humbly acknowledge your ignorance, and to experience an occasional catharsis of endorphin-releasing light happiness. Because statistics say you could probably use it. Symptoms of anxiety and depression are sharply up over the past several months, and people are hitting the COVID wall.

We’re not out of this, yet, and it can feel like we’re swinging from one hoped-for turning point to another like a crazed trapeze artist sometimes. For awhile, people took solace by saying blaming the year, but going from 2020 to 2021 didn’t seem to make a big difference. Maybe a new President of the U.S. will make things better? Not instantly, at least. Yay, there’s a vaccine? But…not really sure when we will all actually get it.

Things are progressing. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. But sometimes looking forward to relief turns into a spiral of disappointment and impatience. Sometimes (often) the best thing to do is to let go of the future a little, and focus on the very immediate present. When the people cried out to the Lord because they had been forcibly relocated from their homes to the strange land of Babylon, they were told through the voice of the prophet, Jeremiah to settle in and make a life, and to stop yearning to go back to how things were:

“Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.”

Jeremiah 29:5-7

So look for what’s good right in front of you. And find ways to be a part of what’s good in the immediate lives of others around you, too. There are steps you can take to shore up your emotional resiliency. Prayer, meditation, laughter, humility, and useful service are all healthy parts of living purposefully in the present. I encourage you to pursue them.

And, like I said in a sermon two Sundays ago, read the Word. Not just as a form of instruction, but also as a means of connection with the Lord.

Speaking of reading the Word, I am planning a new online group that will be starting in a couple of weeks: “Let’s Read: The Easter Story According to Luke”. Starting a week from next Wednesday (February 24th), and for six Wednesdays leading up to Easter, I will facilitate an online group for reading and discussing the Gospel of Luke’s account of the Lord’s final week on earth. This group is open to interested people everywhere through the Grand Human Project. So mark your calendars. I’m looking forward to exploring this story with you all.

That’s it for now. Have a great week.

[Chekov’s Cat Reference]

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Happy Holiday

I hope you had a good Valentine’s Day, Presidents’ Day, Et Cetera Day Weekend. Personally, the pandemic has pretty much flattened whatever significance these days may have once had for me. Not that I was ever big into either. But for me, they both passed with hardly a notice. The days and weeks kinda just blend into one another.

That’s the post.

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I Don’t Hate the Super Bowl, But It’s Not Great

That headline was intentionally constructed to increase clicks, by the way. I’m playing a dumb game with my blog post titles right now, so if I come off as a bit more inflammatory than you’d expect, that’s probably why. However, it is true that I’m not super excited by the super bowl. But I’m not trying to tell you that your enjoyment of it is somehow bad or wrong. Far from it! And no, I’m not making yet another dumb sarcastic “Go sportsball!” type post that is so common this time of year every year on Twitter.

In fact, I think football is a very entertaining sport. I played it for most of my high school years, and a bit in elementary school as well. I grew up in the household of lifelong Eagles fans (insert obvious joke here), and never thought my parents’ season tickets were a waste of money for them. I saw how much fun they got from going to games for years and years. And when the Eagles themselves won recently, I loved it!

But most years, I only halfway pay attention to the super bowl, even if I watched some NFL games leading up to it. So you could say I’m kinda neutral on professional football in general. I can take it or leave it. When I do watch it, I have fun, but I often don’t bother. (Ice hockey, on the other hand, is a different matter altogether…)

Thinking about this got me wondering how much of a minority I’m in, here. I mean, I know that on the global stage the American obsession with the super bowl annually irks lots of people who think football is played without using your hands on a “pitch”. But here in the U.S., what percentage of people, like myself, didn’t watch even the half-time show?

As it turns out, about 42%. Or rather one can say that about 58% of TVs were tuned to the game. (Increasingly I wonder how much TV ratings diverge from actual percentages of homes engaged in something as more and more turn to other methods of consuming video content.)

Anyway, this is interesting and also not that surprising. And it’s a smaller number than it once was in years past. In fact, total viewership of the annual championship has been down for a few years, now. It peaked in 2017 at 172 million total viewers, and in years since has faded below 150 million. Still, that’s the majority of America. But here’s my real question:

How many cultural “touchstones” do we still have today? Is the Super Bowl one of the last ones standing? And will it, too, some day be something a majority of Americans do not experience?

And I have a follow-up question:

Is that a good thing, a bad thing, or just a meaningless bit of trivia good for blogs and think pieces but not much else?

I honestly don’t know. I have an instinct that immediately offers me answers to these two questions, but I don’t know that I trust my gut on this one.

Hm.

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