Some Thoughts on the “War on Christmas”

As my regular readers know, I try not to get political in my writing but I’m a little cheesed off about this whole war on Christmas bull crap. The “war on Christmas” boils down to three things: xenophobia, homogeneous thinking, and the death of Christendom.
We’ll start by discussing xenophobia. Per dictionary.com, xenophobia is: “fear or hatred of foreigners, people from different cultures, or strangers” or “fear or dislike of the customs, dress, etc., of people who are culturally different from oneself”. When we get down to it, one of the big fears behind the bullshit here is a fear of being usurped or displaced by people who aren’t like you. War Christmasers are ultimately afraid that eventually their traditions and to some extent their race or nationality will become marginalized. Those who believe in the war on Christmas probably also struggle with Homogeneous thinking.
Which brings me to my second point homogeneous thinking. Basically, there is an irrational and unfounded belief at the heart of the “war on Christmas” movement, and that is, “everyone in America is just like me”. Now this is bat crap crazy, I have lived in America most my life, and I have had friends who come from all races, religions, sexual orientations, cultures, political affiliation, socio-economic classes, etc. So again, I have to call bullshit on the “war on Christmas”. We in America are not all the same. There are so many ways of even celebrating Christmas, that we can’t claim just anyone of them as being the American way. And we have always been a melting pot, people from all cultures and traditions are welcome here (that sense of welcome is why we have become more sensitive to people and why we say “happy holidays”).
My third point, to me, is the most sinister reason for the belief in a “war on Christmas”, and that is bitterness over the death of Christendom. Now, I am a Christian, I love God with all my heart, and I would defend my or any else’s right to be a Christian to the death (I would also defend anyone’s right to believe whatever the hell they wanted). That being said, I am glad for the death of Christendom. Christendom has nothing to do with true faith in Christ, and everything to do with the pursuit of power, both political and otherwise. The rise of Christendom began when Constantine declared Christianity to be the religion of the Empire in Rome. For year following Constantine’s decree, Christianity was the religion of empire, it’s members enjoyed tremendous power. They enjoyed this power too much, they committed atrocities in the name of God. They sought wipe out all other ways of thinking and worshipping. Christmas itself was basically a war on Solstice (we’ll come back to this point in a minute). Eventually people started to buck against the homogeneous thinking and brutal power of the “church”, first with the reformation, then the renaissance, the age of enlightenment. In these movements, people were rebelling against God, they were rebelling against Christendom. Now with the fall of Christendom, it’s followers see persecution around every corner, and to be fair there has been some payback (justly earned) for the persecutions and privations meted out by the church. This “war on Christmas” is nothing more than a misguiding rallying cry to restore Christendom.
Now I believe Christendom was never Gods intention. If it had been, why did God announce the birth of son to outcasts and priests of a foreign religion (shepherds in Israel were regarded much like gypsies in Europe are today. And the Magi, per my studies were either Zoroastrian priests or astrologers, both of which would have been looked down upon by the religious establishment of the day), instead of the kings and religious authorities of Israel. Christianity was always meant to be a movement on the Margins, effecting change in establishment from the outside. For further proof of this look at the ministry of Christ and who he chose to come to, tax collectors, prostitutes, fishermen, lepers, Samaritans, outcasts.
And if you want get down to it, the idea of forcing people say “Merry Christmas” is just dumb. Solstice, Saturnalia, Yule, and several other holidays predate Christmas. Jesus was born most likely in August, and Christmas day itself very little to with him. After Constantine’s decree, the position of the church toward other religions, especially the pagan religions of Europe, was, if you can’t beat it, co-opt it. That is why many of the Christian holidays have strange names or weird, non-biblical traditions (I’m looking at you Easter Bunny). The position of the church became one of stamping out and converting rather than one of love. If the Pagans wouldn’t come to God on their own, the church would rechristen the festival in honor of Jesus. The three biggest festival times in the pagan world were the Spring Equinox (Oestre), The Autumnal Equinox (Samhain), and the Winter solstice (Saturnalia, Yule, etc.), or as we now know them Easter, All hallows eve (Halloween), and Christmas. Only Easter falls anywhere near the holy days prescribed by God to the Israelites (Passover). While I am not saying that Christians should abandon the holidays, I am saying maybe we shouldn’t take them so seriously.
I had originally entitled this “Happy Holidays, Ya Filthy Animals”, because I love the line from Home Alone, “Merry Christmas, ya filthy animal”, and I felt it conveyed my irritation and frustration at the ridiculous nature of the “war on Christmas”. But as I thought about this title didn’t convey love and ultimately, isn’t that what this time of year is about. I think that is why so many people say “Happy Holiday”, because they want to convey love without assumption. That love is what I hear whether you say “Happy Hanukah”, “Merry Christmas”, “Happy Kwanza”, “Joyous Solstice, “Good Yule”, “Happy Holidays”, or any of the greetings that relate to the many celebrations that happen at this time of year. I myself celebrate Christmas and so I say “Merry Christmas”. Let’s never let offense and view point cloud our view of love.
Merry Christmas, ya filthy Animals

Advertisements

Facing Sea Monsters

It’s the tail end of 2016, and like most people, my mind floats to the past and what has happened, but I also look ahead to the coming year, and what I hope to get from it, and what changes I will make in it. 2016 was both an amazing and a terrible year. And 2017, is promising to be even more awesome and even more challenging.
I know 2017 will be amazing and challenging because I am stepping. I have decided to be more intentional in my life. For the last five years, I have read books like A Million Miles in a Thousand years, Love Does, and The War of Art. All these books speak to the fact that life must be intentionally lived regardless of the possibility of failure. In this current season of my life I have read/am reading two books that further speak to this, Destiny by T.D. Jakes, and Intentional Living by John C. Maxwell, and I realize that to get the things I want in life I must start being intentional. Life doesn’t just hand you things, you must look for them and prepare yourself to have them.
I am looking at restructuring everything, what I eat, how I exercise, how I budget my time and money, etc. This new mindset bodes to make 2017 interesting. At the same time, pointing at the far shore, raising your sail, and saying “I am going there” brings the sea monsters to the surface. When you step out, when you seek change, you set in motion the forces of resistance, that which would seek to keep you stagnant.
One of my favorite movies is Braveheart, and one of my favorite scenes is the famous sons of Scotland speech. But after that speech there is a scene between William Wallace and two of his lieutenants:
Stephen: Fine speech. Now what do we do?
William Wallace: Just be yourselves.
Hamish: Where are you going?
William Wallace: I’m going to pick a fight.
Hamish: Well, we didn’t get dressed up for nothing.
I think in life we often make the fine speech of “I’m going there”, and then we’ve got to pick up our harpoon, sail on, and pick a fight. Because whether we know it out not by making our fine speech, we’ve picked a fight, it’s all a matter of whether we’re ready for the fight.
And so friends, in the coming year, let us point to the far shore, raise our sails, sharpen our harpoons, and go pick a fight.

Filling the Well

I haven’t written in while, and I used to think that was a bad thing until today. My last post was written at the very of September, and it is now nearly the end of December. I have staring many different pieces, but I haven’t seen any of them through. Through a combination of busyness and restless I haven’t really felt much like writing. I felt guilty for not being a font of words daily, and then I remember a concept that has been repeated again and again in the course of my learning.
This is the concept of keeping your well filled. When I was in college I went to a retreat and the speaker told several parables that related to leadership skills. The one I remember most was the starving baker. The jest of it is that you cannot pour yourself out constantly without putting something back in. If you’re not feeding yourself eventually you will run out of inspiration to give away. This concept was reinforced when I read The Artists Way by Julia Cameron, in it she talks about daily refilling your well of inspiration, so that you can pour it into your art. And just a few weeks ago, at the Global Leadership Summit, I heard Bill Hybels, while talking about Passion, say that it is a leaders job to keep their own passion bucket full.
It wasn’t until today that I realized that I wasn’t being lazy or selfish by not writing, I was merely refilling a well that had been hard hit by the drought of the start of another school year and the impending holiday season.
We can easily forget that our first duty in life is to make sure we are sufficiently filled before pouring ourselves out, and it is even harder to remember that while pouring ourselves out, we still must keep filling ourselves up. There is no shame in taking a time out to refill ourselves. It’s not admission of weakness, or maybe it is, but maybe admitting why are fragile and broken isn’t a bad thing. I once heard a pastor say that all leadership is flawed leadership, but I think that all humanity is flawed humanity. We have weaknesses and we need rest.
For me this time away from writing has been very productive, I have attended a couple of conferences, built some new relationships, read some life affirming books, and built some great new habits. In stepping away from writing I was not lazy, I didn’t sit on the couch shoveling chips into my mouth. I used the time to build myself up. And that is really what filling the well is about.

Among the Spears

I have been facing some pretty heavy emotional and spiritual resistance the last few mornings and until today I haven’t really seen it as such, but I recently have made the decision that I would put any considerations of a brewing career on hold and focus on my writing.

I his books The War of Art and Turning Pro, Stephen Pressfield talks about the ideas of resistance and the shadow career. Resistance is felt whenever we try to make a change for the positive but especially when seek to bring our true self, our inborn genius, our God given talent to the fore of our life. The shadow career is our attempt to find relief from the need to bring about the birthing of our true self and it is a way of avoiding resistance by doing something other than what we were put on the earth to do. For me brewing had a risk of becoming a shadow career something that seemed easier than writing my book

In Turning Pro, Pressfield quotes the Greek poet Archilochus “Be brave, my heart. Plant your feet, and square your shoulders to the enemy. Meet him among the man killing spears. Stand your ground”.  I find myself among the man killing spears today. The enemy is pushing on areas of my life that have nothing to do with my writing, all my fears and failures come rushing in, and it is easy to forget that I get to fight back or that I have the ability to.

I want to break down the Archilochus quote, then I want to leave you with my thoughts on this battle called life. So let’s begin.

Be brave, my heart. It is amazing that bravery is not something we naturally do, we have to remind ourselves to be brave. The most repeated command in the Bible is fear not. Why? Because the human race forgets that it can conquer that fear is a tool of resistance, and that it is largely only in our mind. Once we take on the posture of bravery, fear largely flees.

Plant your feet, and square your shoulders to the enemy. Take up a fighting stance and brace for impact. I wish I could say that just being brave would take care of resistance, but it doesn’t, sometimes you have to fight it out. And the more fiercely you oppose resistance the dirtier it will fight, so be ready.

Meet him among the man killing spears. Run toward the fight. Don’t wait for an invitation, don’t wait to get ambushed. Actively engage the enemy, fight for what’s yours, the realization of the deep things in your soul. I you want these things you must fight tooth and nail for them, not engage in a half-heart 6th grade girl slap fight.

Stand your ground. This one is interesting, and requires a little bit of an explanation of pre-modern battle tactics. Most armies from the Greeks to the Vikings fought in some form of shield wall. The shield wall was exactly that, an impenetrable wall of shields, which required warrior to lock shields with the men on either side of him. The thing we have to remember about our fight is that we, for the most part, aren’t alone. We need to lock in and hold, because there are others around us counting on us, they need us to birth the unique things set in our souls into the world. We need their support and they need ours.

I think that war mentality if hard for us modern humans because we have been taught to play nice and we inevitably carry that teaching into our emotional and spiritual battles. We have forgotten how to be ruthless with resistance.

I have a ritual, that I have never shared with anyone ‘til now, that I use to put myself into the war mindset. It is a tactic as old as war, it is the war cry. There many war cries, I use the Norse and Germanic Ahh OOt, I repeat over and over again with intensity. You’d be surprised that something that sound so dumb actually really psyches you up. This usually helps me to focus and clear my head of the fog of resistance.

The battle to birth our unique gifts to the world is essential to our survival as individuals and as the human race, especially more so now as Kardashians influence us, computers think for us and angry birds entertain us.

 

 

 

Into the unknown

I am 32 years old, and I still feel sometimes like I have no idea what I want to be when I grow up. And to make matters, I feel like my personality is highly compartmentalized and that when I look one facet of my personality and its corresponding career, I inadvertently exclude all others; and yet, the same time, I feel that if I don’t exclude something, I will end sounding like a 10 who says, I want to be a rock star, a secret agent, and an astronaut.

In The Tao of Jeet Kun Do, Bruce Lee says “Freedom lies in understanding yourself moment to moment”. I feel like I understand the separate parts of myself, i.e. the beer geek, the writer, and the aspiring tour guide/future travel channel host, but I don’t understand how they fit together, or if they even fit into to my professional life at all.

The one thing I know is that I can’t live an ordinary life, that is off the table, I have tried too many times to be a good boy and go back to America and get job, pay my bills, and do all the things normal people do. That hasn’t worked. I tried the whole working for a corporation, normal job thing, and it felt like it was killing me. I really value freedom and creativity in my work, something most companies don’t value.

For me, the current issue is channeling my interests and my talents towards something that can make me happy, pay my bills, and makes me proud to do. Currently, I teach ESL to third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh Graders in Beijing’s airport district. I love my job, but ultimately I don’t want to have answer to answer to someone in my day to day life (I understand that if I actually ever sign with a publisher I would answer to them, but there is still more autonomy than I currently have), I want to be my own boss, either as a writer or as a brewer. I want to not have people try to tell how to cut my hair, or how long my beard can be, or what tattoos I can have where. Autonomy is what I want more than anything (I have a pretty good degree of autonomy with my current job). I also want to feel fulfilled creatively by my work and do work that brings me joy. Some people may think I am crazy, I think there this idea in America that you shouldn’t be happy at work, you just go to the job that pays the most, and then buy a ton of crap to fill the empty space in your soul, but my desire to enjoy my work is actually biblical, Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 2:24-25: “A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment?” Toil means work, we were meant to find happiness in our work.

Now this bring me back to my original dilemma, what should I focus on. I recently told my friends and family that I was feeling this way, and I got some really encouraging emails, but one that stood out was from a friend and in it he said that I should follow the passion that is the first thing I think about in the morning and the last thing I think about at night. I won’t lie, at first I was extremely frustrated by this advice, mainly because I have heard it before, and secondly because the last thing I think about before I go to bed is what bills need to be paid, or unfinished lesson plans, and the first think I think about is whether or not I’m going to do yoga that morning or what’s on my schedule for the day.

The one thing, though, that I can tell you is that I draw energy from my writing. Just in writing this today, I feel alive. I think that may end up just being a writer who is a passionate amateur tour guide and beer expert. I can say I am not entirely sure where the road goes or how the story ends, but I do know that as long as I keep doing what I love, even I don’t get paid, it will be a good journey.

 

 

Survival Vs. Thrival

I know that fans of the English language and grammar nazis will point out to me that thrival is not a real word, but to you I say, I am the one writing this so deal with it.

This title comes from some time I spent meditating on my life and on what makes a good story. During that time, I was living in Changsha, Hunan, China. I was six months into a ten-month teaching contract, and I had developed a case of expatitis, basically I could only see the negative in everything and then bitch about it. This happens quite frequently to foreigners living overseas.

At the same time that I was dealing with this internal negativity, I was reading Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert and trying to write my own travel narrative. I was reading the book one morning when the thought struck me that people don’t read books about people who survive, they read books about people who thrive.

Let me illustrate what I mean, when I was just surviving, I woke up in the morning, ate breakfast, watched T.V., went to work, came home for lunch and watched T.V., went back to work, ate dinner, watched T.V. Not really the kind of story you’d pay $10.99 to read When I started living In a thrival mindset, awesome things started happening, things that are worth writing about. I started working out and lost a bunch of weight, I got a couple of tattoos (and cool stories to go with them), I said yes to just about everything, I climbed mountains, I made friends with strangers on the bus. In short I made stories happen.

The thing about thriving in life is that it is a choice. It’s not an easy choice. Survival mode attempts to keep you somewhere near your comfort zone, thrival wrecks your comfort zone so completely that you find yourself in places you’d never imagine and your completely happy with it. Thrival sounds awesome, and it is. But it is hard work every day you have to make the decision to thrive, you have to make it your goal and run toward it, if you don’t, you won’t thrive, you’ll just survive.

As I write this, I realize that part of the problem I have had in coming back to Beijing is that I haven’t chosen to thrive on a daily basis. There’s a lot of excuses I could make for choosing not to thrive, Beijing is too far away so it is easier to just sit in my apartment doing nothing, my roommates don’t cook and if I cook instead of eating frozen food, I might piss them off by stinking up the house. Yoga is hard and I haven’t been feeling well. All these excuses are BS; it is just easier to do these things than it is to try. Plus, by not trying I get the added bonus of being able to cry about how things aren’t working out. I don’t know what thrival is going to look like for me this time around, but I do know it will look a whole lot different than it does now.

The decision to thrive is a scary one. It means that you have to make an effort to change your outlook and your situation, whether than waiting for these things to change on their own. In my experience, circumstances rarely change on their own and when they do, you won’t like the reasons, it is better to be the master of your fate and decide to thrive, rather than always just surviving and having “good enough”

So as you start your day (it’s 8:45am, Beijing time as I write this) choose to thrive today. Make the extra effort. Do what you have been putting off. Make that major leap that’s been scaring the hell out of you. Follow your dream. Find your passion. Really live. It’s worth it.

 

 

Alone or what Beijing and the History Channel taught me about Resilience

“Endurance is not just the ability to bear

A hard thing, but to turn it to glory.”

-William Barclay

            This quote was shown at the beginning of the season finale of season two of the History Channel show, Alone. I am a big fan of the show, because I have always been interested in bushcraft and survival methods, but I am also drawn to the psychological aspect of the show (basically the take ten people and strand them on an island, in such a way that they are all separated by water, and then with the gear they brought they have to survive, last man standing wins $500,00.

I can relate to some of the isolation felt by the contestants on the show. I have never done anything remotely similar. However, there are feeling that I have noticed that the contestants have had that I can “I’ve been there”.

I can relate to the feeling of isolation that the contestants feel. While I am not alone in the same sense that they are alone, living in a foreign country can produce a feeling of loneliness akin to being by one’s self for long periods of time. As a male it is hard to make friend with my fellow teachers who are mostly female, and mostly married (it would be inappropriate for us to hang out outside of work, and most of the male teachers at my school speak no English and are intimidated by me because I am a foreigner (don’t get me wrong, everyone at my school is very nice, but I don’t exactly have friends at work), then I go home and am alone there too. I have friends in Beijing, but I mostly see them on the weekends, means that I am probably alone or feeling isolated, about 85% of the time. I am working to improve this, but living so far from the actual city makes this hard.

I think that the solution to loneliness and homesickness is to one, acknowledge what you feel and grieve what is lost. Then develop a routine, redirect the energy into something constructive. Nothing will make you more homesick than sitting on your butt, doing nothing. Take every opportunity you can to connect with people, this is easier said than done when you live in a place where you don’t speak the language (or you do speak the language slightly but the local dialect completely mangles the language (I’m looking at you Beijingers)). I recently was able to start going to church again at the church I regularly attended before I left Beijing, and it felt like I had returned home, it completely changed my outlook on being in Beijing (it made being here seem like something I could sustain for a while).

There was a scene in season 2 in which one of the contestants broke down, crying “God, please help me, please help”. I have been there, I distinctly remember last year, at the end of a three year run in Beijing (Beijing is a city that will eat you alive, it is constantly listed on lists of both the most unfriendliest cities and lists of the worst places to live, usually it is in the top 10), I felt so completely at the end of my rope, everything seemed like an insurmountable obstacle. It doesn’t help that I have issues with Anxiety, which just distorts everything.

Unfortunately, we all come to a point when we reach the end of our rope, and unfortunately I don’t have all the answers for to deal with that. The best relief I have is to take a step back and reevaluate your situation. This is best accomplished by taking a vacation, it doesn’t have to be a long one or even far away, just get away from your normal surroundings. During this break don’t think about what you’re dealing with back home, just relax. This time away will allow you to see things with fresh eyes. If that doesn’t work, it probably means you need to change your situation entirely.

The third thing that I have noticed that happens on the show, that can relate to, is something that we all can probably relate to, and that is the feeling of letting other people down when we fail. I experience in July of 2015, when I was forced to relocate to the U.S. due to visa issues. I felt like a failure and a poser and I felt like everyone else probably agreed with that assessment.

The reality was that nobody saw things the way I did, they were disappointed for me, not in me. The reality of the matter was that I had done everything I could do to stay in Beijing, I only booked the ticket at the last minute to skirt any possible trouble that might have arisen. Also I hadn’t been home in three years, so I highly doubt anyone was thinking “what a loser” when they saw me (to be fair I haven’t actually asked any of my friends about it, so they might have been thinking that).

When we fail, we feel like we not only failed ourselves, but everyone else who was pulling for us. Unless our actions actually caused us to fail someone, we haven’t failed anyone, including ourselves. Some failures just happen no matter what you do. It’s how handle the failure that defines us. Two quotes from the late great Mohamed Ali come to mind; “everyone has plan until they get hit” and “everyone gets hit, not everyone chooses to get back up”. I think these ring so true in my life. When things are going right, I know exactly what to do, but the minute things get shaken up, I panic. The good news is that I am one resilient SOB (South Omaha Boy), I very rarely stay down.

Developing Resilience is the key to handling failure, real or otherwise. In life you will fall, numerous times. Eventually you learn that the falls won’t kill you and eventually you just dust yourself off and keep going like nothing happened.

 

Father? God

I awoke at 4am this morning to rain, and my heart sank. Normally rain brings me great joy, but today I have to meet with a team and go do a summer camp. In order to do that I need to get a taxi, and in Beijing when it rains the taxis disappear. Last night, I prayed intensely hard that it wouldn’t rain until after I got into the city. Before I went to bed, I had a flash thought that said God’s not going to come through because you need this. I dismissed it and went to sleep. And this thought creeps back into my mind as I scramble to figure out how to keep my commitment.

They say that your relationship with your dad effects how you see God. My Father was a physically and emotional abusive narcissist who couldn’t be counted on to come through for his children (people reading this who know my Dad will say I am making this up, but that’s because Dad would drop everything to go help other people and then leave his family hanging).

Donald Miller once said (and I’m paraphrasing here), “with all the all the bad fathers in the world, God’s decision to call himself Father seems like a huge marketing mistake”. I couldn’t agree more. I understand that relationship one has with a friend, or a teacher, or a mentor, or a commanding officer, those relationships would be easy for me to understand the roles played. Calling yourself father and then asking me to trust you is like saying “you’re all alone here and I am most definitely going to let you down when you need me most”.

I struggle with trust on a good day, and on days like today, I am tempted to believe God either doesn’t exist or doesn’t care. The little things hurt the most because they seem like the easiest to do and that is also where it seems like the ball gets dropped the most. I am tempted to believe that I am all alone and can only depend on myself. I lived most of my teens and early twenties like this, and it didn’t work.

So what am I to do. I woke up this morning, and immediately thanked God for another day. It isn’t the one wanted, but today wasn’t promised to me. When I sit self-pity over the times God didn’t come through, I forget all the times he did come through. Yes, I might have trouble getting a cab, I may even have to have to cancel on a commitment I made, but that doesn’t mean that God doesn’t love me or isn’t watching out for me, it just means I was looking in the wrong direction for him.

I still have a long way to go on understand God as a Father. I may never feel completely comfortable with the word father, the damage is done, and the wounds are still healing. But one thing I do know is that God will still be there, even when I act like a giant jackass (remember he used Balaam’s donkey). So this morning, I am going to go out the door, and wait for a taxi and God to show up.

Sit the $%#& Down

So I am supposedly a writer, but I don’t actually have much output. Writing is hard it doesn’t seem like it should be, but it is. I’ve learned that only an idiot tells people they’re a writer, because when you say “I am writer”, people take that to mean that you actually write stuff and that they can read it.

A friend of mine said that all you’ve got to do is sit down and write (well duh) Normally, I punch someone for a comment as asinine as that, but this particular friend is a musician and songwriter, so he knows that while it is as easy as sitting down and hacking away at the keyboard, it’s not that easy to actually sit down and write.

Take today for example, I have a new time management paradigm and today was the first day I did just about everything on my list, and I was done 10am. The only thing I hadn’t done was write. I decided I’d reward myself, and watch a little tv, do some laundry and go grocery shopping before I sat down to write. I ate lunch and told myself I would start writing at two. Then the power went out at exactly 2pm, they’re remodeling the apartment upstairs and occasionally they kill the power for about an hour. So I knew the power wouldn’t come back on until around 3pm, so I took a nap. The power came back on at 3pm and I sat down at the computer and…. Watched youtube videos until 6pm. Then I took a shower. I didn’t start writing this until right around 7pm.

I don’t know why it is always like this. I have the best of intentions to write and somehow it never materializes. In his book, The war of Art (a book everyone should read whether they’re artistic or not), Steven Pressfield say this is due to resistance. Resistance is the unseen, malevolent force that interrupts our creativity and seeks to silence what good we can bring to the world. Pressfield says: “Resistance’s goal is not to wound or disable. Resistance aims to kill. Its target is the epicenter of our being: our genius, our soul, the unique and priceless gift we were put on earth to give and that no one else has but us. Resistance means business. When we fight it, we are in a war to the death”. He goes on to say “Procrastination is the most common manifestation of Resistance because it’s the easiest to rationalize. We don’t tell ourselves, “I’m never going to write my symphony.” Instead we say, “I am going to write my symphony; I’m just going to start tomorrow.”

Hemmingway Said “writing is easy, you just sit down at the typewriter and bleed”. Maybe writing is just sitting down. I have been at for about half an hour and I already have this. Writing or any art is really just about showing up diligently and giving yourself to the work. W. Somerset Maugham was once asked if he wrote on a schedule or just when the inspiration hit, he replied: “I write when the inspiration strikes me, luckily it strike every day at 9am sharp”.

Writing is simply a matter of sitting down. Sitting down is a matter unto itself.

 

Burn the Ships

There is a story about the conquistador Hernan Cortes, that when he got to Mexico, he ordered his men to burn their ships so that they could not return home. This story is held up by many people as a real visionary move, a succeed or die trying statement of leadership. (To be clear I consider Cortes to be scum, someone whose place in history is next to Hitler, Stalin, and Columbus. Cortes destruction of the new world cultures was appalling and as such he should be remembered as evil, though the story of burning the ships is somewhat inspirational).

I have returned to Beijing, seemingly the one thing that I have want to do since circumstances forced me to leave a year ago. But ever since I got here, I have been looking for a reason to run.

I am not sure really why I want to leave, I think the it’s because this time I can, when I first moved to Beijing, I had spent everything I had to get here, and I wasn’t making enough money to go home, now I make enough to buy a plane ticket every month.

Sometimes the simple fact that we can leave will keep us from settling down and digging in. I think Cortes knew that, and that’s why he set fire to his ships. He felt that he had a bigger purpose in Mexico, and he didn’t want the ability to leave to keep him from accomplishing what he set out. I have reached the point where I either cut run now or go all in and burn the ships and don’t look back.

I have taken a good long look at myself, and realized that there is nothing to go back to. My friends and family may still be in Nebraska, but it is no longer my home. Beijing may not be where I am meant to stay forever, but it’s where I am now. If there is move in my future, I need to figure where and then put a plan in place to get there, but in all honesty when I left America I left with purpose of working in Beijing until 2017, and it will take at least that long to set up my next step. So now I dig in and wait for what’s next and watch my ships burn.