Merlaak's Wayhouse

As you step out of the hot desert sun and into this dirty Wayhouse, you read a dusty old sign: "If you are here, you must be lost; for none come by their own will." Beneath that, scratched into the ancient wood in childish script, are the words: "stiks and stones might brake my bones, but words will always kill me. -Matt, age 8"

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Sometimes it's good to go into the trenches...

I have now spent the last three days exploring a world with which I have little experience and little understanding: that of the Atheist. Life is far too easy if you never question why you do what you do... and since I obviously feel very strongly about doing just that, I must, on occasion, hold myself to the same standard to which I would hold others.

In hind-sight, I never even realized that this was what I was doing. During one lazy evening, I stumbled upon website after website of extremely convincing information backed a mountain of research and data all of which point to the lack of any evidence supporting the existence of any kind of Higher Power. I was enthralled... I was captivated... I was enraptured... I was scared out of my wits.

I have since wrestled with demons that I never knew existed in the world, much less within myself. I have questioned and thought and prayed. It's hard to pray to God when you find yourself wondering whether or not He actually exists or if the belief in Him is simply part of an evolutionary system of survival. It's hard to think objectively about it when you are buried underneath it.

My next journey was to explore the world of Christians who have become Atheists. There are many. For them, the mountain of scientific evidence was too much to scale. They could not (or would not exert the mental strain necessary to) reconcile their faith with what seems to be truth and logic. People always say that these people never had any real conversion in the first place. While that is the knee-jerk reaction, I believe that it cannot be the sole causality of their falter. For I myself found my faith rocked when I learned that none of Jesus' or Paul's literary contemporaries wrote of the existence of Jesus of Nazareth. Of course, the Atheist is left with the impossibility of proving the negative (you cannot prove that none of the writers of that age wrote of Jesus... just like I cannot prove that I've never killed anyone). However, that doesn't change the fact that no first century writings (other than The Bible) are currently known which speak of Jesus.

That is but one piece of a huge puzzle that the Christian must reconcile himself with if he is to realize his faith. I myself am still exploring, but I do so with a trustworthy Guide and Friend.

Monday, August 01, 2005

It's 7:20 a.m. and I am

quite awake. There are times in your life when you think to yourself, "Geez, I wish this would just last forever." For me, it was probably a couple years ago when I was able to sleep in every day and basically do whatever I felt like once I was up. Funny how much one changes in just a few short years.

I sit here, dressed and ready for a job that doesn't start for another hour, my wife getting ready for her day in the other room, and I realize, "Wow, I hope my life just keeps on getting more exciting and fuller and richer." I think that part of it has to do with the verse in scripture dealing with putting away childish things and becoming a man. Let's examine that for just a second...

What is childishness? Well, let's see. When I was a child, I was selfish and self serving. I was prideful. I cried to get what I wanted and was a general burden on other people. I understand now that I am called to put those things aside, take some responsibility, and start living my life. What does that NOT mean? Well, I think that a lot of people get confused into thinking that you must not longer think as a child.

Too many adults just accept things as they are without ever questioning why. Why do this? Why act like this? Why, why, why? Children ask why. They thirst for knowledge with an insatiability that frightens (and annoys) most adults. The other thing that becoming an adult does NOT mean is that you are to give up your sense of wonder and amazement. How many calloused adults have you seen? How many glazed over expressions of people going through the monotonous motions of life with little to no verve or passion? Too many times have we seen people forget to look for beauty in the world. I like to think of it as "looking up."

Ask someone the question, "When you walk, do you look up?" It's a beautiful analogy for this life. Most people do not look up when they walk. They may look "out", watching for what lies in ahead. However, many people look down, watching out for the next pitfall, the next ledge, the next problem. You can live life like this... you'll know what is coming and you can get out of the way. You'll have control and a good grasp on reality.

But what about looking up? Next time you go for a walk, or you walk to work or school or to the store, or whatever, try it. Look up and around. Examine your surroundings. Drink it in and relish in the beauty of the world around you. You can do this anywhere... it doesn't matter if you are in the city or in the country, you can do this. You'll notice though, that in looking up, you can't see what is coming. You may trip, you may fall... you just don't know. Like a child, you'll need someone guiding you. Someone to show you the way and keep you going in the right direction.

It takes faith to do this. But trust me, the trip will be so much more interesting than watching the pavement pass you by.

Well, those are my thoughts right now. Here I am, an "adult", married, a job, a house payment, and responsibility. I'm set and ready to accept my fate, glaze over, and go through the motions. I pray to God, however, that I never stop looking up and that I continually go to Him for guidance through life.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

I found this quote

just now and it made me chuckle:

"Unfortunately, sexual intercourse produces babies. Think of the advantages of sex just being for fun and love, then, when ready, going to Wal-Mart to get a new baby for $999.98."

There you go.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Sometimes it's best

not to care. After all, what does caring gain you in a situation? You become emotionally involved in a perceived outcome and you make decisions and assumptions based on that possibility. But what happens when what you think happened didn't really happen? Do you rejoice? Are you angry? Is anger justified? For that matter, is joy justified? Perhaps the situation turned out better than you thought. Are you supposed to be joyous and revel in that joy with your loved ones? Or is anger a natural response to blind ignorance? And what of vengence? Do you exact revenge on the object of care? What if deception was a tool in creating the perceived outcome? Do you let it go, or you do allow it to affect you to the very fiber of your being?

Personally, I try to let these things so. After all, if I can forgive Brandi, then I can forgive anyone. But it is human nature to hold on to those moments when you were wronged (even if it is only in your mind that you were wronged). Perception is reality when emotions are involved, and well... it is possible to make a normal, thinking, rational human being can go off like a powder keg. After all, that emotional energy has to be released somewhere. Rejoice or anger... sometimes the choice really isn't yours.

Eh... humans will be human. There's no denying that. I suppose the best one can hope for is that one won't be taken advantage of. After all, it's better to care about those around you than be cold and closed to the world. But that's just my opinion.

And what of me? Well, I once held to the idea that one should avoid expectations at all cost. When you expect something, then when that turns out to be false (even if it turns out better than you thought it would) human nature dictates that we be angry with our own fallacy. Perhaps I just need to expand this thinking to include what I expect out of those around me who I care about. Perhaps, if I care less (and therefore expect less) then I will be less prone to being wrong about a notion, thereby avoiding the inevitable emotive response.

After all, it's almost impossible to stop caring, but lowering your expectations is quite easy.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Did I mention

that I am trying to plan a wedding, start a business, find a house, and do freelance work all at the same time? I have been called insane by no less that three people. Feel free to affirm their stance by commenting.

The strangest thing

happened to me today. I had been working on my computer of various projects (wedding, starting my new business, freelance work) when I decided that I did not want to completely miss the beautiful day. I hopped in my car and started driving off toward Chattanooga's new disc golf course. Let me preface what I am about to say with this: I have worn a ring since I was about 15. I got my first class ring when I was a sophomore at Chattanooga Christian School. During my junior year at East Ridge High School, I got my second class ring which replaced the one from CCS. After a year or two of college, I found a ring that I really liked at Pacific Sunwear and have worn every since. Suffice it to say that I know what a ring feels like on my finger and I know what it feels like when I don't have it on. I have also never worn a ring on my left ring finger.

So I was driving down Access Road toward the course when suddenly I felt something missing. Actually, as I write this, I still can feel it. My left ring finger feels as if I have forgotten to put on a ring. It's strange... because I've never worn a ring on that finger, but I know this sensation. It goes away when I put my ring from my right hand onto my left hand. I suppose I soon won't have to deal with this sensation though... in fact, in 22 days, it will be a thing of the past.

Monday, February 28, 2005

When I was in third grade

my teacher told us a story. I remember the story because it had a profound effect on me when I heard it, and I always feel a sense of loss when I think about it. I do not remember the name of the story or the author and I don't remember the names of the characters, but I remember the story itself. I am going to retell the story as best as I can using my own names and specifics.

Marge was the oldest of the group. At twelve, she out-aged the next oldest by four years. She was also the only one who was old enough to remember the last time the rains stopped. Pounding, thundering rains. Rain and wind, sweeping away at the landscape like a giant's hand. It had not stopped raining in seven years. No one was allowed outside, and all but Marge had been too young to go out the last time the rains stopped.

The children would play inside, though. They made believe that there was no rain and that they ran around on dry Earth playing and butterflies, bunnies, and other creatures that they had only seen in books. Marge never played with them though. She would sit in the corner and dream. Dream of the last time the rains stopped.

It was glorious. A perfect rainbow, green grass, trees. A crystal clear blue sky as far as she could see. She had ran and she had played and she had basked in the warmth from the sun. It was always cold at the orphanage. Always gray. And the other children always played like they were outside with the butterflies and bunnies. Animals didn't live outside anymore, though. Only a few plants did. The rain was too much for anything else.

One day as Marge sat dreaming, the other children were planning. They always had to listen to Marge go on and on about outside. At first, they had loved to hear the stories, but then Marge never talked about anything else. And she didn't play. All she did was sit and stare out the window at the pounding rain. She would pay, though. Pay for having done something that they had not. Pay for not playing with them. Pay for dreaming of better times. They had grown tired long ago of making fun of "Soggy Moggy." Now was a time for action.

They pounced the moment that the door closed as Mrs. Shelley went to go get lunch. They knew they would have at least five undisturbed minutes. Marge didn't see them gathering tape and a rag. She didn't notice that they had the keys to the cabinet in the back closet. She had no idea what they were planning on doing with the oversized canvas laundry bag. But before she had any time to figure it out, she was locked up, kicking and screaming through her gag in the cabinet in the back closet.

The other children laughed and screamed with glee at their accomplishment. Now maybe "Soggy Moggy" would play with them when they started a game. Maybe some time away from the window would help her forget about the last time she went outside. Maybe... just maybe.

Mrs. Shelley burst into the room. Lunch was not in her hands, and the children froze in fear, knowing that their plan had been found out. But no. The rains has stopped. It was finally their moment. Mrs. Shelley led them, screaming with ecstacy at the thought of going outside, toward the door that never opened. She opened the door.

The sun was bright. Brighter than they had ever imagined possible. And the sky was bluer than any piece of chalk that they had ever drawn with. The green grass smelled sweet in the humidity. They ran. And they laughed. They made up songs on the spot about the grass and the sky and the sun. No one wondered where the butterflies and the bunnies were. They revelled in their moment. In their time of pure joy. The ran until they couldn't run anymore and then they collapsed in a heap, laughing and crying at the joy of it all.

The clouds began rolling in. Only thirty minutes had passed, and already a light drizzle had started up. Soon, there would only be sheets of gray falling out of the sky, pounding the Earth back into submission after its moment of relief and freedom. Mrs. Shelley called all the children back in and took them back to their room.

When she counted them, she noticed that she was one short. In a panic, she asked the children if Marge had been left outside. The children all looked at each other, realization slowly creeping onto their faces.

One of the younger boys took Mrs. Shelley into the back closet. Took her to the locked cabinet. All the other children followed at a distance. Mrs. Shelley opened the cabinet and let Marge out. Quietly, Marge walked out of the closet, passed the damp children, and took her place by the window. She never spoke again. And she most certainly never played with the other children.

That is the story. Take what you want to from it. Everytime I am the cause of someone else missing an opportunity, I think of that story. I think of that girl, locked and choking in the darkness while the other children played outside. I imagine what it would be like to have the object of my passion pass me by without so much as a fleeting glance. The opportunity missed. I try not to do that to people.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

A Scanner Darkly

is the new movie by the studio that did Waking Life. It stars Keanu Reeves, Winona Ryder, Woody Harrelson, and it looks freaking amazing. My friend Matt Choi is trying to get on their animation team in Austin. The entire movie is rotoscoped and they use some proprietary software that makes the animation move quite fluidly. Check out the trailer to get an idea of what is in store. I can't freaking wait.