Catching a buzz on life: six crucial ingredients for unraveling your vexation

You may know already, but I’ve been learning how to assemble electric guitar kits. I love electric guitars for playing and owning but have little experience with tiny tools, finishing wood, electronics, and fine adjustments. I’m glad it was an inexpensive way to spend quiet time alone in my basement workshop learning and failing – as well as finding moments of great joy. I broke through a wall the other night in my first guitar kit (telecaster style) build, overcoming an obstacle that plagued me for about half the project. It was about 12:15am at the time, and the buzz I caught from the sense of accomplishment kept me up for the next hour or so, feeling so great I couldn’t settle down.

When I was there, I was thinking how much I wanted others to experience something similar – or at least tell their story. When I began the project, it was not about feeling good. Actually, the primary motivation was a cost-saving way to have a quality double neck like a Gibson EDS 1275. When I was hanging out with some friends from Neighborhood Film Company and Working Film Estb yesterday, some of these were becoming more clear to me. Dan at Working Film probably said all of these to me as he was describing how wonderful the second round of apprenticeships have been going (follow their link for more). As we at Circle of Hope are discerning our Second Act together, I hope these are encouraging to you. Here are a few crucial ingredients to unraveling a sense of vexation.

You’ll need to pay attention to your attitude. If your experience vexation, your likely to get frustrated or annoyed quickly. Make gratitude part of your daily medicine. Start with the good that you’ve been given rather than what you don’t have yet.

A sense of accomplishment and that lifebuzz really nailed my despair. I don’t think that feeling comes when I stick do doing things that are easy, or filling up my leisure time with entertainment only. Do something difficult – hard enough to need God. Your faith will grow, you will develop trust, and your sense of possibilities will multiply.

Quitting or turning back will likely sink your boat. Don’t give up after failing, or just because you haven’t succeeded yet. Maybe being raised a Buffalo Bills fan was good for my character, but I think the African proverb (at least I’ve read it’s African) “smooth seas don’t make skilled sailors” can bring comfort to the weary. I learned more in the past month about guitar setup through failure than I did in the past 20yrs of playing the thing.

Make a goal that is bigger than your feeling. Sometimes going backpacking gives me the opportunity to “put my horns on” and charge up a steep incline because I know it will feel good to be at the top. That’s a good reason for the day, or maybe even for the gym. If your goal is your feelings, you eventually will probably build up a tolerance to success or accomplishment and will never be satisfied. Make a goal that benefits others, produces something for another, or is something Jesus is giving you to do. You may not get a buzz right away or very often, but your vexation will start to get unraveled – freeing you up for all sorts of goodness.

When you have those rare (if you’re like me) moments of elation, jubilation, or hilltop rally – don’t rush the sweetness. Savor the moment. Every once in a while these moments should be private and are for you alone. Most of the time, I think they are better shared. You don’t need to brag or be proud in a bad way – have some authentic joy and share it. Tell your story.

Lastly, don’t hog the glory. When you do experience a win, acknowledge God’s move as well as others who participated. I have lived in community for so long that I might not even know what it’s like to do something by myself. Even if I contributed, there are always others who went before me or helped the process along. Share the treasure – such goodness is meant to be enjoyed by all.

Three ways to turn up the Love during a violent week

On November 17, 1957 MLK was preaching in Montgomery [full text and lots of audio here] when he said “Somewhere somebody must have some sense. Men must see that force begets force, hate begets hate, toughness begets toughness. And it is all a descending spiral, ultimately ending in destruction for all and everybody. Somebody must have sense enough and morality enough to cut off the chain of hate and the chain of evil in the universe. And you do that by love.” It’s actually pretty simple. I have a lot of feelings – some of which might be approaching hate and I need to check my heart.

I’m heavy today for Iraq, Kurdistan, Syria, ISIS, and the United States. I am also feeling heavy about the situation around the violent conflict that put a gay couple in the hospital in Center City a two weeks ago. As I’ve been praying through (always wise) all the violence, I am trying to listen for God to direct me for how to respond rather than shoot from the hip all the time. Here are three things that I feel will turn up the love during a particularly violent week.

Turn up the good news, especially those that fly in the face of conventional hate.

One of my best friends leaves today on a Christian Peacemaker Teams delegation to Iraqi Kurdistan. You may want to read more about what Peggy Gish (working there now with CPT) had to say about it last week in her blog about a step to coming up with new strategies is halting the old, dysfunctional ones. I tend to think most things in the media [whether intentional or not] pull Americans away from the super military waging war for the windfall of profits for transnational corporations. Like so many other empires, if we have enough food to survive and something to keep us entertained we’ll tacitly go along with the bigger plan.

When ISIS cuts off heads on camera or gets headlines from Austrailia to Indonesia to Algeria, the US ramps up fear which increases our tacit approval of this horrible war. When we turn up the good news, God can use us to assuage fear that keeps the violence cycle going. Come out on October 7 to make some good news in the face of Drone Warfare if you want to be with a bunch of Philadelphians trying to do the same thing.

Before you put someone on blast, consider whether you are actually as confident as you are about to sound. It’s easy and often cheap to make blanket statements, stereotypes, and colorful remarks to get people to “like” your passionate status before we understand what we’re really talking about. As someone whose attempts to make space for more dialogue and often is dips into the rhetorical, I need to watch my mouth – and it’s hard.

I feel fortunate that it wasn’t too long after I read the “Meet the Three Worst People in Philadelphia” blog that I saw a beautiful statement by the victims. For some it’s tempting to dehumanize the victims by not listening to them as people by not taking their ask seriously.

Thank you to the  community for their help and support, as well as the Detectives who did a great job gathering details,” they wrote. “We are thankful the DA is working so hard to make sure this doesn’t happen again in Philadelphia. Finally, we ask you to keep your comments regarding the suspects respectful and non-hateful. Please show your support for legislation change protecting the LGBT community this Thursday in LOVE Park at 2 p.m.

For others it’s tempting to dehumanize the perps in all sorts of ways, by doing so alleviating our responsibility to make a more whole community. You may want to join the throngs of posts commenting on their parents, Twitter feed, zip codes, or work history – as if we know them, don’t think they can get better, and don’t think we are anything like them. I really appreciate people for zooming out even through the pain. Besides having an occasion to update PA’s lack of “hate crime” distinction for future violence prevention, some people are even taking a societal sense of responsibility in their anger. On a Raging Chicken Press post, Debra Leigh Scott pleads that the “reality is that Kathryn Knott [one of the suspects] is OUR child. She is the poster child of the kind of people born and raised in America. Fired in the kiln of inequality, elitism, prejudice, consumerism and fear, she is just what America’s schools, media and values create.”

We need to make more love. MLK was working with some Jesus in Matthew 26 when he was preaching above. Like him, I don’t want to go out as a person to die by the sword – whether it a physical or metaphorical weapon. Living by the sword is confusingLike when my cell was talking about how confusing violence in the Middle East is for us, Scott shared this little gem.

We need more lovers and we need them to outlove the haters and transform the bystanders. We need lovers who will demonstrate to others what it means to be a lover. We need love to dismantle systemic injustice. We need love to make our communities whole. What do you think we can do to turn up the Love this week?

As I finish the 2nd steeping of pu-erh (that was love-ly at least), I’m about to go hug my family and take them to celebrate the compassionate work in our community. Come on by if you want to be with some lovers tonight.

equipment

Recently I drank the Mac Kool-Aid.  Thanks especially to Mark from The Poverty Jet Set and my first apartment-mate JScott for helping me get over the hump and spec it out.  I’m hoping to get to use it a bunch at school and to help me expand my office rather than commuting those days a week.  It’s also expanding my mind.

I’m still learning how to use the macbook, of course.  Here’s some obligatory Photo Booth shots to prove it.  More in the flickr set.

Things like this help me feel equipped for big changes.  The free iPod  was the icing on the cake.  No more making fun of those people who wear headphones whilst riding their bikes around.  I keep telling myself that I’ll keep the volume real low.  We’ll see.

But what could make me feel ready to start spending this money we’ve been socking away for three years to renovate 2007 Frankford?  We could easily spend $10k by the weekend!!  Ahh!

Getting something of this magnitude off the ground takes a lot of effort.  I feel rusty or something.  I’m used to pinching pennies and telling people what it’s gonna be like-now here we are doing it.  So cool…we need to use that prayer equipment we have.