Sunday, September 18, 2016

Something something heroes never stop never stopping

Rylie had of course heard that the world was hollow and that devils, trolls, and the occasional politician lived in the depths far below normal people's feet.  Some empty headed bozo had been peddling that sad story his entire life.  Being a rational man, he had ignored or openly mocked any one who actually believed such dumb children's stories.  But now, as he looked out over what could only be described as a cavern. As cavernous. It extended endlessly beyond his sight, disappearing into the distant shadows cast from the dim glow of what appeared to be a lumious lichen that clung to the shores of what he suspected to be a massive underground ocean.  There were boats out there for crying out loud.  They all had a skull, spider, or something oh so melodramatic painted on the sails. Whatever. They were still boats on an underground ocean!

Into this underground world of darkness he had crept following the trail of the false elves.  They had descended into the darkness to a poorly defended camp.  Clearly they felt little danger here.  Why would they, any army from the surface faced with this unreality would break and run if they weren't busy begging their gods for mercy.  Thobis the burnt out wizard and Nealo the priest of Alilili had been dumped unceremoniously in what could only be described as a pen.  A slave pen.  They were chained and left on their own.  After a time they had finally stirred.  Thobis, the great genius that he was, had immediately tried to cast some sort of spell.  This had just alerted the guards that he needed "special" treatment.  He'd been summarily beaten, hog tied, and gagged.  Nealo priest of Alilili was as useful as always, and reminded Thobis that Alilili didn't help those who couldn't help themselves.  Thobis responded with suitably aggressive wiggles and gagged voice noises.  Nealo busied herself with staring at nothing. Neither of them seemed to notice the absense of Rylie from the bondage they found themselves in. Perhaps they thought him a coward.  Perhaps he thought, he wasn't the one in chains needing rescue.

Next to them in the slave pen was a large pile of hair.  Suddenly it blinked and deep set eyes full of a lifetime of misery and remorse peered around.  It shifted and fixated upon the new comers.  "So, uh what are ya in for?"  He looked at them as if he wasn't stripped to his under shorts, afixed to the floor with chains, or in a slave pen miles beneath the surface.  "Adventurers huh?"  He continued without waiting for a response through a moustache that completely hid his mouth and quivered with each word.  "You know adventurering is a noble profession, first practiced by the anciet Humbuaeites."  He nodded to himself as if he was agreeing with his own comment.  "They didn't invent the word though.  Oh no," he shook his head causing the great flaps of skin that passed for his ears to flop well past the point when his head otherwise stopped moving, "That was the Othamotiradins in distant Kool'Zoo of course.  Their head Uoozith was said to be the first cousin twice removed of the one of the greatest Adventurers.  Of course that was years before the Ix and their heresy machine set all the Othamotira temples to the holy cleansing fire of M'dekfaoe, but that was only on account of the price of a good Onqaovneowav in those days.  Why I could tell you some stories about the..."  In mid speech a rock cracked into his temple. He stopped talking and regarded them with the same woebegone expression he'd maintained during the entire speech, except now blood trickled down his face.

One of the evil elfin guards slithered and strutted into the pen and loomed angelically over him, "You have been warned to cease your prattling or we will remove your fat tongue one hair width at a time until your only story is an endless poem of pain and suffering."  The content of the warning was dire, but one couldn't help but admire the dulcet tones of the slaver's voice.  Rylie pinched his arm to remind himself that this cherubic being had just threatened slow and deliberate torture for the heinous crime of talking too much.  The impish horror reached down and trailled one of its fingers across the hairy man's scalp. The softness of his touch was matched only by the casual elegance of his movements.  Without warning there was a blur of movement, and then a sharp crack of skin and bone hitting skin and bone.  The waifish cherub struck with such velocity and violence that it sent the hairy man to the ground groaning amidst a sea of wild hair.

And there standing above the prone form, with a grin of such satisfaction and pleasure, was the very image of innocence. Then with perfectly pointed fangs glimmering in the dim light, the smile twisted. The illusion suddenly faded.  All of the beauty and grace that had surrounded this hell spawn beast like a second skin was gone and only the twisted, spite filled embodiment of cruelty and sadism stood there over the prone man. Everything seemed darker in that instant as if the light itself was afraid.  The twisted creature  purred in a newly thin and shrill voice, "If you forget again, I will wield the knife personally."

Then, just as switfly as the illusion had left, it was back and the elf stood and twirled a stylish pirouet.  Once again it became near impossible to see anything except utter sophistication as it skipped out of sight whistling a happy tune that would have made children smile and caper in delight.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Something Something Heros part whateversville

Sweat dripped from Rylie's nose and the overwhelming humidity caused his clothes to cling to his body until he felt like he was swimming through the sunless tunnels. The maddening silence in the lonely all-compassing darkness had stretched on for hours as he followed the unconscious forms of his former adventuring party. Well, them and the party of vicious, and heavily armed, underworld elves that carried them to Alilili knew where. Rylie used his full training in the stealthy arts to keep his damp clothing from swishing and his sodden boots from squeaking. All the while remaining, somehow, out of sight of the supernaturally lithe and unearthly beautiful creatures, that would have to be covered in pots and pans and tied to a screaming cat to make any noise as they traipsed with an indifferent ease through the stone corridors.

 At one point he had put his hand in some unidentified slime causing an involuntary weak sigh to escape from his weary lips. A slight soft exhalation of breath that even he had struggled to hear. The pointy eared villains had stopped immediately and drawn wicked blades covered in an oily black substance that could only be a deadly poison. Rylie froze like a deer in headlights, whatever those were. Their teeth were perfect. They were perfectly pointed and razor sharp. There gorgeous faces turned to murderous masks in seconds. The bodies of Thorbis the burnt out wizard and Nealo the priest of Alilili were on the ground in an blink. Somehow silence still echoed through the corridor. If Rylie could have moved or spoken in that instant, he would have cursed their unending perfection. Like a stalking spider they crept with demoralizing speed down the halls toward Rylie's hiding place. 

This was it. Rylie felt an emptiness in his stomach. Thorbis and Nealo were going to be sacrificed to some nubile demon god. He wouldn't be so lucky. Visions of his death danced with a cold clarity through his mind. The cruel kiss of a dagger. The passionate torture of a poison running its course. Beauteous features filling his vision, while vile claws cradled his face, as he coughed up the last of once vital fluids. A shiver would have run up his spine, but he held as still as stone. Somehow, someway they stopped short. The sound of a elf's dismissive sniff echoed like thunder through Rylie's head.

 Then, with the unconcerned nonchalance only an apex predator can muster, they scooped up the prone forms of Thorbis and Nealo and padded away into the creeping gloom with a grace and beauty that would have made a ballerina cry. If the fear of losing the trail hadn't been so paramount Rylie would have curled up into a ball and had a long and cleansing cry. But, now more than ever the others needed him. Why he felt such loyalty to them he didn't know. No one deserved whatever fate awaited the prisoners of these fay fiends he reasoned. With a quiet yet ragged breath he pushed off from the wall and set off into the damp and gloom. Come what may, he would see this through.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

I'm back

Both parties are imploding, everyone is saber-rattling, and Budweiser is now America. But as long as we can kick back and have a non-shite beer, I think we are okay.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Fear of the Hustle

I spent a lot of time today listening to podcasts.  Podcasts about passive income, life coaching, canned chili, and productivity.  I listened about blogs, vlogs, and slogs.  The dream of starting a multimedia internet empire quickened my pulse and spiked my attention.  The dream of videos like Casey, Podcasts like Merlin, and Blogs like M. John Fayhee.  Being all of my favorites in one.  But I am not my favorites.  I am me.  In high school I remember I played Chopin for some friends and afterwards diddled away on the keys for a time and the one fellow remarked that he enjoyed the second piece much more so than the first.  When I told my piano teacher, somewhat proud of the fact that I had out done the genius Chopin, she replied in her usual dry manner, "I'm sure Chopin played Chopin better than Bach."

I'm sure Chopin played Chopin better than Back.  But do I, the brave and daring Khusrow, play Khusrow better than Casey?  I for one know that my 3 attempts at video making do not compare to the compelling daily videos that Casey Neistat composes after years of perfecting his craft with laser focus.  I have always felt, and maybe this is showing my privilege, that money was easy so long as that was all you wanted.  If your only care in the world was to collect money than collecting money would be easy.  The trick for most people is that money is just the tool to do what they want to do and so money seems so elusive.  The thing that has been holding me back from writing, playing music, making videos, building webpages, building passive income streams; is that I am not convinced that that is what I really want.  Do I want a flexible schedule that earns money without me doing much to make that money?  Yes.  But is that flexible time and easy money just a tool for me to do what I really want to do?  Yes.  And am I going to keep pursuing what I really want to do instead of building my multimedia empire that empowers me to do the things I want to do?  Yes.

This is the great problem.  Am I willing to not work on motorcycles now so that I have piles of cash and calendars of free time to work on motorcycles later?  Am I willing to work hard and miss time with my kids now in the hopes that I would have gobs of free time to spend with them later?  Am I willing to not spend time with people now so that I could be generous with my time and money with those same people later?

These are all questions I struggle to answer.  What is the cost to the success that I want?  Am I willing to pay that price?  The price in hours and stress and lack of sleep.  The cost of building a business that I think I would be good at in the after hours of a job that I am also good at, but consumes so much of my time?

 In January Lindsey and I discussed having May be a month of hustle.  To see what a side business would look like for 1 month if I threw it all in,  In January I thought that business was pipe making, which is something I really enjoy doing.  But I have a strong feeling that this is a saturated market with a narrow audience.  So I've been thinking of creating many things with a larger breadth and a larger audience.  I don't know what that would look like and I don't think May is my month to dive into those things but major changes feel like they are swirling in my mind and I do not know where they will go.  

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Is anyone still on here?

I remembered that this blog was a thing. Who all still reads this?

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Training Day II

I've been hesitant to write about my spiritual journey on this blog.  The original purpose of this blog was to collect people from different political, religious, and geographical backgrounds and discuss the great issues of our day, sprinkled with our literary attempts at greatness.  I have primarily been very open about some of the things I have been learning about myself emotionally but I usually refrain from presenting that understanding from the spiritual lens through which I see the world.

I wrote earlier about my struggle with finishing tasks and how Training for the Cleveland Marathon has forced some of those underlying identifying factors in my life to come to the surface and be confronted.  I wrote about the physical and emotional side of my being in that post but the biggest impact it has had recently is on the spiritual side and I wanted to talk about that as well.

G.K. Chesterton wrote that, "Christianity has not been tried and found wanting.  It has been found difficult and not tried at all."  The past few years of my life have really embedded a similar understanding in me as well.  Hypocrisy and a lack of taking the teachings of Jesus seriously feel to me to be so rampant that I grew very critical of organized christianity.  The awkward side-effect of being critical about hypocrisy is that if one has any level of intellectual fairness and introspection then one must examine one's own hypocrisy and make certain changes to one's life when and where it is discovered.

I began working on a book in India that was going to go through the teachings of Jesus through the gospels and start to ask questions about how and if we were living those teachings out.  One of the common themes of the gospels is found in John 14:15 "If you love me, you will keep my commandments."  If we, as people who claim to be followers of Jesus, are not obeying him then we are not really followers at all.  I stopped that project because I realized that if taken in a different spirit then I was intending it, and the spirit in which most "religious" texts tend to be read, then it would by a handbook for legalism and open the door to a whole new level of hypocrisy of those who read it.  Which is obviously not what I want.

But if we are to be disciples of Jesus, ones who discipline themselves to follow him in his teachings and his way of life, then we must know what he said and obey it.  I'm not going to try here to make the argument of "what is a REAL Christian" and what is not.  I don't really like the word Christian because it defines a culture and a set of practices and history that I am not really talking about at all.  I also don't really know what would define a REAL Christian.  There are texts, however, in the Bible that if taken more seriously then they tend to be, can be downright scary when applied to our complacent and impotent group of people known as American Christians.  If anyone were to read the gospels, or the whole New Testament, or the whole Bible, they would not find what they expected to find when they thought about followers of Jesus.  They would find a lot of which they would never expect.

J. C. Ryle in his book Holiness makes several illusions to the fact that if people don't like Church they may be unpleasantly surprised that they don't like heaven.  I'm not completely convinced that a High Episcopal liturgy (which I do enjoy) is going to really be all that much like heaven.  But I can agree with the spirit of the question.  If godliness isn't something you want in this life, why would it be something you would want for everlasting after everlasting?  Because it is better than the alternative?  In a dichotemistic eternity heaven seems a better choice then hell, even if it is slightly less appealing than earth.  If one begins to mention sacrifice and freeing oneself from the chains of the great suburban lie then one is open to attacks with a vehemence that would not be matched if one had spouted the most damnable of heresies.

I constantly hear christians complaining about the attacks on their belief by "the Media."  I don't wonder why more christians haven't realized that their beliefs are worth attacking.  First of all we believe that a zombie god has, with his death and re-animation, cleansed us from the invisible taint called "sin" that is merely a bi-product of being human and acting so.  And in doing so has saved us from a place of judgement that we disagree on the reality of to be placed into an equally controversial after life.  If that isn't crazy enough, as a community christians have argued that other people should follow a moral code to which they; arguably more than any other religious, philosophical, or political group; have failed themselves in living up to.

I do think there is a lot of biblical evidence that the American church has, since before its founding on these shores, had it backwards.  We should hold ourselves to the highest standard and hold everyone outside to none at all.  Unfortunately the common label of bigotry and judgmentalism (which I believe is rightfully earned in most places) belies our failure on that point.

But this is not really what this post is about.  What this post is meant to be about is training ourselves for heaven.  Developing an affinity and taste for holiness.  When I began my marathon I did not enjoy running the 1/3 of a mile which I could run.  Now I enjoy running 6-7 miles, at which point my enthusiasm begins to diminish.  Similarly, as believers in Jesus Christ we are so unpracticed in following him that we have failed to enjoy living like him.  Mere tastes of the life of Jesus are uncomfortable, painful, and make us not want to repeat the performance.  An honest man would either acknowledge a need for training or a reason for the race not being worth running.  Unfortunately, christianity has beat Facebook to the punch in posting pictures of us running the marathon but sitting at home eating a bag of Potato Chips while feasting our eyes on the bachelor.  Since we've been doing this for several hundred years it has become the established tradition.

It has become unfortunately true that to practice the teachings of the Sermon on the Mount are as radically counter-cultural inside a church, if not more so, than outside of one.  I am attempting to be purposefully vague here because I think the Holy Spirit can have far greater impact with his convictions than I ever should.  I'm also not trying to create an argument on what the life of a disciple should look like or should not look like, although I am definitely forming my own opinions.

I guess really I'm trying to say 2 things to the readers of this post.  If you claim to be a follower of Jesus then what are your credentials for doing so.  Do you have true love that inspires obedience?  If you do not claim to be a follower of Jesus then I'm sorry for not giving you a reason to.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Training Day Part I

It's been an exceptionally long time since I last blogged.  This is partially due to the difficulty of the last few months and partially due to the fact that I was in the midst of things.  I don't tend to be able to write coherently about anything until I've digested it a bit and I was having a full 7 course meal over the past few months with little time for digestion between.  We are looking at relocating again, changing school districts, making major lifestyle adjustments.  We have had to try to build relationships from scratch in a new place, dive into live here, and face the disappointments that come with other people not necessarily diving into life with you or worse yet mad that when you did so you splashed on them in their lounge chair.

This year I recommitted to run a marathon.  I didn't last year due to a knee injury that stopped me from running a few weeks while training and that training hiatus was prolonged by debilitating depression that came after my soul searching trip into the Himalayas.  Thankfully I was down with Typhoid when the Marathon actually occurred so I could bow out with a little more grace then, I got hurt, got sad, and gave up.  

Round 2 has been more difficult.  I don't have a training partner to run with.  Running a race in May in Cleveland means that the weather is not your friend during most of the training period.  It is hard to run 10 miles when your option is treadmill in a basement or snow.  I've had more blisters than I can count in trying to re-learn how to run and I hobble around like an old cavalry officer most of the time now.  The past month or so my knee started acting up again, I had to travel to California for my grandmother's funeral, and work got crazy.  This all means that I ran less and ate worse for about 2 weeks.  When I got back into it I tried a 12 miler where I pushed too hard and was out for almost another week as my legs and soul recovered.  I barely made 12 miles (the last 4 were an award loping walknjog).  I didn't even get to a half marathon and I was falling apart.

I was talking through my struggles with someone I love and respect and he told me that a half marathon is still a win and I could try the marathon later that year or the next.  I boldly decried with bluff & gusto that I would rather be carried out of the Marathon on an ambulance than settle for the half.  Within 2 hours I was seriously considering the downgrade.  I broke the subject with my young hot wife the next day and she made it very clear that not running the full marathon was simply not an option.  She knew I would not be happy with that decision and she had the courage to push me forward when I no longer wanted to go.  So with her small hand-prints on my back as she pushed me out the door I started to run again.

One crystalline thought entered my consciousness on the run that completely changed my attitude and my perception of what was currently going on in my running life.

I was training for a marathon.

"What?" you say, "how is that any different than the above statement, "This year I recommitted to run a Marathon?"  I have been telling people "I Will run the marathon in May."  And when I catch myself saying "I'm going to try to run the marathon in May," I am quick to correct my internal doubt.  Unfortunately though my commitment was high my understanding was low.  In order for a slightly round 30 year old to run the marathon, in order for his commitment to mean anything, he must train for a marathon.  Training for a marathon means that he must push his body beyond what it and he think are possible so that the distances and intensities grow and so the commitment of running a marathon moves from the plane of hopefully goal setting to a realistic prospect.  To move from brave words to even more courageous action.

One of the great lies I have allowed to define me is that I never finish anything.  There are a lot of things I have finished but that is never really the point.  I hear many people in my generation as well as other echo this sentiment.  We are a culture of non-finishers.  Of starters and someday-completers.  We have forgotten the ideals of training and long suffering.  I read a great Blog Post the other day about Odin and one of the quotes from it was:

The lesson from both of these tales is that gaining wisdom often comes with sacrifice. In our modern age, it seems people have come to believe that if something is hard, or sacrificial, it’s not worth doing. Odin, and his Viking followers, believed in just the opposite. If something is worth having, it absolutely requires sacrifice, and it’s always worth it, no matter how great the cost.

Even re-reading this my eyes mist up.  It rings a deeper truth inside my soul.  I have been afraid of completion and so use the training as an excuse.  I have not had the chutzpah for long suffering and justify my incompletion.  I re-value a desired goal as not being important because I am unwilling to do what it takes to achieve it.  I pursue things that are not worth having because they are obtainable.  In my dreaming I have champagne tastes on a beer budget.  In practice I convince myself that Busch Lite satisfies me because they sell it at the corner store.  Only being back in this country for 6 months and already my desire for comfort threatens to fill my life with cheap ambitions and easily obtainable goals.  A glittering, bedazzled husk of life.

I wish I did not need hard things in my life to keep me growing and learning.  I wish I could somehow become the man I want to be, the father I want to be, the husband I want to be.  I wish my insecurities would fade from more positive thinking and less pain and sweating.  I dream of the day when I pint of ale, a briar full of latakia, a fireplace, and a good book will sculpt the inner man into who I want him to be and that would sculpt the outer-man into the chiseled man of wax I see in my mind.  Times like that are fruitful.  Yesterday morning was spent with a bowl of Westminster, Dunkin Donuts Coffee, and a long chat with G.K. Chesterton that  rested my mind more than 3 hours of sleep could have done.  I had new thoughts and new energies.  But if those new thoughts and new energies are not applied in an aggressive way to my life they quickly fade and I can in only a few hours be back to where I was before.  The physical nature of the training reminds me of the other herculean tasks that lay before me and give me a similar feeling.  I have to train to overcome them.  I have to start working on them or they will never happen.  I need to start typing or I won't write.  I have to start making phone calls or we won't have a home to live in.  I have to go out my door or my community will not be altered by my presence.