Routine Noise

Ceiling fans whirring. Clock tick-tocking. My wife’s mouse clicking as she digs her way through Minecraft. (Yeah, some guys dream of what it’d be like to marry someone who games with them. Me, I just went ahead and married that girl. Protip: it rocks.) These are routine sounds that surround me.

I have a drive to control the noise. Whether I blare music or listen to an audio book, I like to drown out the mundane noise.

But there’s a beauty in it, especially if you can get past the human-created noise. Behind it, there are crickets chirping. Loudly. There’s wind through the trees in my neighbourhood. If I wasn’t writing this late at night, there’d be bird calls and cats meowing and dogs chasing the cats. That might be my favorite part.

It’s a good thing to find joy in the routine things around us.

Weaning…

I’m working to wean myself off of compulsive behaviors as far as loading certain websites go. I wouldn’t say I’m an internet addict, but I do have concerns about my attention span. So, how am I doing it this time around? I’m using a combination of SiteBlock and Stayfocusd for Chrome.

Siteblock is set to get rid of the websites that I’ve decided to push out of my life. Sites like Reddit and imgur and the like that are pure time-sucks, heavily lacking in valuable content. It’s set to allow access for 0 hours of the day, every day.

Stayfocusd, on the other hand, is set to prevent me from wasting time while I work. I have a much broader family of sites entered on my Stayfocusd list. Everything from news sites to lifehacker.com to other sites I find valuable, at appropriate times. StayFocusd helps me by not allowing me to access them at inappropriate times. I’ve set it to be active from 9 am to 7 pm. I can also turn on the same list for a discretionary period at night if I’m working on writing or other creative tasks.

This has helped me tremendously. It’s cut back on compulsive behavior that I don’t think is healthy. But it’s been hard. Internet addict? No… I can quit any time I want.

On No

Kevin Ashton wrote a brilliant post (over here) about saying no. It has some of the most quotable polite rejections that I’ve ever read.

Here’s a doozy (in response to being invited to participate in a study on creativity)

“One of the secrets of productivity (in which I believe whereas I do not believe in creativity) is to have a VERY BIG waste paper basket to take care of ALL invitations such as yours — productivity in my experience consists of NOT doing anything that helps the work of other people but to spend all one’s time on the work the Good Lord has fitted one to do, and to do well.” – Peter Drucker

Much more than that, though, at the source. Ashton’s main thrust is that we have to say no in order to be able to accomplish the things we want to accomplish. My friend Samuel made the same point about saying no to our kids here.

Sounds like I need to learn to say no.

Familiar Rhythms

Now Playing: YouVersion.com, the ESV Study Bible Reading Plan. Getting back on the horse.

When it comes to audio books, I have a lot more success listening to books I’ve read in the past. I’ve only realized this recently, as I’m making my fifth attempt or so at seriously listening to an audio book.

I’m fairly confident that I’m the problem. But I’m noticing that when I’m familiar with an Author’s writing patterns, I can grab hold of what’s going on in the audio much better than when I’m fresh to it.

Is it the author’s rhythm I’m familiar with or the reader’s? Perhaps I succeed best when the reader reads like I hear it in my head. I’d really love to get good at listening passively and being able to benefit from “reading” during some of my monotonous duties. Maybe I hope for too much.

Was this whole post written just so that I could practice typing the word rhythm several times? I’ll confess: my first attempt, I had two ‘y’s in the word. How? Wouldn’t you like to know!

 

There’s a grace

Now Playing: Satellite Soul / Equal to the Fall

There are those who merely listen ’cause they think they cannot sing;
there are those who join the music and they become free – and if your
story doesn’t wind up ending happy after all, there’s a grace that’s
there, it’s everywhere, and it’s equal to the fall…

I was… am still, really… a total sucker for any band that used a Gin Blossoms-esque guitar sound. So, when I found Satellite Soul’s first album back in 1998 or 1999, I was in love. I still am. The song writing is very good too.

This lyric was rolling around in my head tonight. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the idea that the most important thing about me might not be some arc that I’m creating in my life, but the arc that God is accomplishing in the world. In that arc, maybe I’m a smaller arc, or maybe I’m a point of light. But either way, the big story isn’t my story.

I’m not programmed to believe that, by the way. I’m inclined to think that I’m the most important thing on the earth. While human beings have probably always been inclined that way, I think the 20th/21st Century version is less inhibited in its inclination. Our fathers had bosses; their fathers had “the company”; their fathers had worse, back to when they were indentured servants or slaves. Thery had a clear place in this world based on where and to whom they were born.

Now though, any one can become ridiculously famous by making an idiot of themselves online. (Right, and somehow that is a good thing). We’re addicted to those stories. It’s a subtle shift. We used to love stories of the poor boy pulling the stone out of the sword because of the good things he would do. Now we like the story of the idiot with the video where they did something stupid / illicit / funny. And somehow, people gawking or lusting or laughing at you means you belong. That is belonging?

The Christian story is so much better.

If my story doesn’t wind up ending happy after all, there’s a grace there. That’s a wonderful thing. God is not waiting for my arc to complete; His arc is already in motion, already complete. It doesn’t depend on my ability to accomplish it. It simply is.