Archives For My Times

Thinking back on the times of my life

My Alter Ego

April 1, 2015

AlterEgoThis post is kind of like an April Fools joke on myself.

I think all of us have to one degree or another an alter ego.  That is a second self who is distinctively different from who we presently are day-to-day. Many of my personal journal posts are to my alter ego “Joe”.  He is my younger much more timid and less sure self. It took me many years to move out of that mode and to a degree I am still sometimes stuck there.

Before I go any further lets look at the “official” definition of alter ego.

Alter ego

An alter ego is a second self, which is believed to be distinct from a person’s normal or original personality. A person who has an alter ego is said to lead a double life. Cicero was the first to coin the term as part of his philosophical construct in 1st century Rome, but he described it as “a second self, a trusted friend”.

Joe grew up in a single parent household with a stoic father. Mirrors were not his favorite thing. He thought he had a weak chin and just didn’t like looking at himself. He would never look into a mirror and imagine who he might become. He was for the most part never encouraged to do anything. He was never shown much affection and therefore was very reluctant to show any himself. Joe was one of those guys who always slipped into the background of life too shy to admit that he had an opinion on things let alone actually tell anyone what he might be thinking.  Joe was always a dreamer but never had much ambition. He was always doubtful that he was as good as most of those around him. Joe never had a mentor who might have been able to drag him outside of himself. Even though he was the first in his extended family to go to college he, like his father, never had much faith in himself.

If you haven’t guessed by now the J in RJ is for Joe and yes he is my alter ego. It took years for RJ to final come to the surface and leave Joe behind in the shadows. In some ways many of my posts are to Joe as to try to encourage him understand that he is a contributor to the world around him. He is unique and matters in life.  I feel deeply for all those young kids around today who might be stuck in the “Joe” mode. I wish I could be there for each  and every one of them.

The Two-Sided Coin….

October 26, 2014

I am again going to talk about the two-sided coin of Christianity. The last time I mentioned it was to relate the idea of faith and works.  That is practicing what we preach or accepting Jesus as the Lord of our daily lives as well as our savior. This time the two-sided coin concept will take on a different topic.

When Jesus told us the law of God and all the past prophets boiled down to only two things: to love God and to love each other, he gave us another linked duality for our existence on this earth.

The first side of the coin is to love God — To love God also means to love and take care of everything that He gave us.  The earth, at least for us humans is a very important part of the gift. We are to be good stewards of this planet and that currently means reducing our carbon footprints.

Another important part that God gave us is the laws of nature. In Jesus’ day very little was understood about these laws but over the last two millennia we have learned much. It starts with what are now considered simple things such as gravity up to the latest revelation of DNA. All of our scientific advances happen because God allows it.

And finally we are to take care of the essence of our very being. To me that means that we must constantly be trying to discern between for the basic truths that God has engrained in us verses those things that we have taught ourselves. We must very careful not to do things in the name of God that didn’t really come from God.

The second side of the Christian coin is his command to love one another —  He told us very clearly that we are to love one another and that means all of us not just fellow believers, not just Americans but all of humanity. I upset some when I tell them that my love of country comes pretty far down the list of my priorities. First I love my God, second is humanity, third is family, fourth is trying to do what Jesus commanded of me, and finally I love my country. And I do love my country. I wouldn’t wish to have been born anywhere else.

For me humanity comes before country. If something hurts other but help us in America then I am likely opposed to it. Our senseless wars in the Middle East are an example. We have as collateral damage killed thousands of innocent people in our thrust to get rid of the “bad guys”. Many times that very act simple creates more “bad guys” than it destroys.

Christianity is a two-sided coin and we must pay attention to both sides. It is simply not good enough to just say you are for something you must put some action into your words. That is what we seriously seem to miss in our present times.  It is easy to sit back and complain but hard to actually get down in the trenches and act….

 

Growing Up…

June 26, 2014

HighSchoolAs youth we all want to grow up or at least grow as fast as we can.  We desperately want to get there. We grab as many opportunities as we can.  But growing up means we have to leave some people behind. Sometimes we make the choice not to grow up for that reason. We just don’t want to end up alone.

Some people can’t seem to leave their high school years. They simply don’t want to leave all those cherished friends behind in order to venture out into the vast unknown. For some of us that happens when we graduate from college.  We are expected to use all our learned knowledge to take our place in the world but we can’t seem to leave the college lifestyle behind. I think that is especially true for those who were members of sororities and fraternities.

I have known some friends in both of those states. One was a jock in high school. He did leave to get a college education but then went back to be a coach of the high school team he once belonged to. He spent 30+ years beyond high school in various capacities in the school he graduated from years before.

A couple of other friends, like myself are graduates of Purdue University. They went on to jobs in the private sector but for their entire lives remained loyal booster of the various sports programs. They were season ticket holders for multiple sports and proud alumni members for decades. When they retired they moved back to be close to the college campus.

I for the most part took a different tract in life. When new doors opened in my life I went through them and pretty much left the old life to my memories. I did go to my forty-fifth high school reunion a few years back but really didn’t have much memories or things to talk about with my classmates. Part of the reason for that is due to my deafness. When my old classmates learned that I am now deaf they for the most part avoided any attempt at a conversation. That made the event less than pleasurable for me. I readily admit that a big part of the responsibility for that lack of communications was self-inflicted. I am having serious doubts about attending the fiftieth reunion.

Now that I have been retired for fourteen plus years my work life is also somewhat of just a memory to me. The hurts and accomplishments are things of the past. I try to live my life in the here and now instead of spending much time looking backwards.  Just another aspect of my personality I guess. I don’t burn bridges but I don’t often travel back on ones I have already crossed. Those times are better left to memories as far as I am concerned….

 

New Years Eve2013 will soon be another year that was… It’s time to sit back and reflect some on how this year developed and to look a little to what next year might be.

Personally

This was a year that looked pretty much like the last handful or so. Nothing spectacular but also nothing devestating. Fortunately, except for some pretty serious  (read expensive) dental work there were no significant health issues.

We didn’t get many opportunities to travel this year. I can only hope that 2014 is better in that regard.

I celebrate that, with a couple of projects, I managed to stay stimulated this year. I need constant stimulation. 🙂

I celebrate that my blogs did better this year than last as far as readership is concerned but nothing great.

As A Country

This year ended much better than it started. The wing nuts in the Tea Party are finally being reigned in at least to a degree. They continue to rant and rave but now with less news coverage. Their constant complaining without providing any possible solutions seems to be finally costing them the power. I never really understood how those yahoos even managed to grab what they have.  I know there are a lot of people out there that are like-minded but to me they simply want the advantages of a democratic government without paying for it.

We managed to get through the year without invading any other countries or putting thousands more of our kids at risk for political purposes. We are finally getting out of the two wars of Mr. Bush but not soon or completely enough for me.

As A World

Syria and Iran are still the troublemakers but at least they are “acting” like they want to get along.  That in itself is progress. Korea, well that is a different matter….

Where We Might Be Headed in 2014?

I don’t have a crystal ball or anything but it is kind of fun to predict the “Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” about the coming year. Take this as a grain of salt because that is really all it is worth.  🙂

The Good

Due to it being an election year I don’t see the politicians in Washington getting us into much trouble.

Obamacare is coming along nicely and will end the year with many more actually supporting it.

The Bad

Unemployment will likely not drop much this year. Due to the lack of fit between the jobs, at least above minimum wage, and the skill levels not much will change for some time to come.

The Ugly

Racism and bigotry will continue to be a strong part of life and politics. An African-American president is just too much for some to handle. They will continue to do everything possible to bring him down.

Immigration reform along with several other needed advances will continue to be stifled based on fear instead of opportunity.

Our military/industrial complex will continue to gobble up an ever increasing share of our resources with almost 100% approval by our congress.

Reflections….

August 30, 2013

ReflectionsI have been in a reflective mood lately. I don’t know why but I have been thinking of things of life. Pretty deep huh??  One of those things is how I feel about myself and my experiences of life. The Mark Twain quote below pretty well sums up one aspect.

I am old. I recognize it but I don’t realize it. I wonder if a person really ever ceases to feel young – I mean for a whole day at a time.

I don’t really see myself as an old guy like I saw my grandfather (I only knew one). He was old and as far as I was concerned he must have always been old as that is only how I knew him. Like everyone else, in the mid-twenties when my brain finally settled into something resembling stasis my reflective self was pretty much established. To this day I really don’t see myself at much different from I was during those years.

Yes, I have made a lot of mistakes and learned from them in the four decades since but I still see myself as a young man looking for adventures in life but far too often settling for less. I just don’t feel old, mentally that is. I have never discussed this with anyone that I know of so I really don’t know if Mark Twain and I are the only ones who have this feeling but I kind of doubt it.

Not so Smart BookMaybe part of my reflective mood is a result of a couple of books I am currently reading. One is entitled You Are Not So Smart by David McRaney. Another is Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts by  Carol Tavris  and Elliot Aronson. Both these books show how we fool ourselves into remembering things that just didn’t happen or were completely different from what we remember. They are very interesting reads into the biased nature of human personal beliefs. I often wonder how these sort of things affected the biblical stories so many of us hold so dear, but that is for another post on another blog.

I wonder how much of my previous years’ remembrances are self-contrived? I like most people I suppose forget some of the things in life that were too embarrassing or painful and replace them with an alternative story? It is not that we do it on purpose but that really doesn’t make much difference to me. I will have to do a more thorough review of these two books in a future post.  They are pretty insightful into the nature of human memory and explain many of those so firmly stuck in one political or religious worldview.

Getting back to my reflective mood, I am not lamenting my past but instead I am just trying to understand what kind of lessons I might have learned and how they have shaped who I am now. I think I have grown immensely since I retired from the work-a-day world more than thirteen years ago.  I am finally beginning to grow into the person I was striving to be during all those younger years. That is a nice feeling.

relaxingThe weather has been absolutely beautiful here in the Midwest for about three weeks now and I have been spending most of my time outside or in the barn working on my micro-RV project. To that end I have not been keeping my blogging up to date. So, I am taking a little while off here at RJ’s Corner. See you soon…..