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.

Fishtown the book

I was slow the get the news, but I tag-surfed across the graphic novel Fishtown (available online at act-i-vate.com here) by Kevin Colden.  It is a fictional 100pg comic based on some news stories  the kids involved in the Jason Sweeney murder in 2003, and for the past month available in hardcover.

I read it before I knew anything about it or  heard any reactions.  After reading, I saw that Fishtown.us had/has a great discussion going along with residents’ reactions here.  I get the impression that residents aren’t that siked.

In an interview with The Daily Cross Hatch Colden writes:

It’s inspired by a real-life incident, but I changed the names and the characters significantly, just for story purposes. It was more interesting to see where the characters would take it, as opposed to doing a more factual account. I figured I could get more to the truth of what their motivations were, and I thought the best way to do that would be to create these characters and see where they would go, rather than use what had happened and try to graft something else onto that, and to try to avoid the emotions of the people that were actually involved.

I think the story has a few cool story telling devices.  To me the characters are hard to tell apart, and it paints Fishtown to be pretty one-dimensional whilst being rather disrespectful to those affected by the situation.  Can’t get over that one.  The story is based on news articles and I’m doubtful that it’s based on any interviews with residents or people involved.   Enough details were made up that it could bring out some aspects of the story that get focused on less, I suppose.  Not enough details were made up to do that well, thought, and the lack of research was obvious to me.  It also is like watching one of those gory quasi social commentary movies that doesn’t really have a point besides not really having a point.

Though I was very interested to read Fishtown, I didn’t really like it.  It did get my blood pumping so I thought I’d share.

look, mom, we’re on TV

My rather cool friend Josh Camerote has been working on a piece for Current TV on Circle of Hope for a few months.  The finished piece is now on their website and will be on their tv station at some point.

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Pardon the whacky description on the Current TV website (here is the video).  That wasn’t Josh, it was written by zippy editors I guess.  God is doing some cool stuff, though, in Philly.

I’m having trouble with the imbed, sorry about that.  If anyone has any experience with their player and wants to give me a hand posting it into wordpress that’d be awesome.

Things Better Left Unsaid #247: talking to kids about torture at the dinner table

So last night we’re having dinner (me, MG, Jay, and my 2 daughters Helena-7 and Lily-4) and Martha’s cell comes up.  She is thinking about what to talk about next week (Tues night in Fishtown at Lindsay Mae’s house) since they are doing a sort of short series on world events and justice issues.  She brainstorms Guantanamo Bay.

That’s where I come in.

Things Better Left Unsaid #247:  Talking to kids about torture at the dinner table.

JGrace:  “yeah, that’s a good one.  where are you going with it?”

MG:  “learning more about what goes on there and why.  It’s been in the news lately.”

JGrace:  “yeah, isn’t Bush going to pardon all those who have anything to do with organizing it?  Including himself?”

MG:  “that’d be a good idea.”

JGrace:  “yeah.  the people behind Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo are connected.  We have that book upstairs that might be helpful.  It talks about water boarding and stuff.  You know [children really interested at this point], they strap a dude down and throw a towel over his face and then start…

MG: [interrupting] uuhhhhhh…maybe not right now?”

————————-

yeah.  good call, honey.   but that El-P video for Smithereens is pretty good.

Getting Africanized

I just wrote a longer post on the Circle of Hope blog, but at least wanted to mention how pumped I am to get the drumming classes going again-see earlier post here for deets.

Last night a group of us spent several hours re-headding and building djemebes.  I learned a lot about a lot.  We tried to take a bunch of photos (set here), even though tonight we have to shave and tune the drums.

Meko teaching me how to weave the cradle

Meko teaching me how to weave the cradle

I’m pumped that Martha and a bunch of her friends are taking the class, too.  Still working out what to do with the kids for a couple hours on Monday nights, though.   And yes, everyone else in the photos is severely underdressed.

feasted

great love feast tonight.  i seem to frequently forget to bring my camera to get some pics, although I guess most of us do.

I did upload some pics from my cell’s World Series party the other night here.  Game 2 loss was kind of brutal, but it was still a great time to be together like that.

They playgroup carved some pumpkins and MG took a bunch of photos (Marni & Lo, you a bunch of super cute ones of your girls!).  The set is here. Here’s Ada and Lily showing off the gourd art.

Jay’s return

I’m glad we’re getting the drumming classes going again.  We are going to have some issues with scheduling and no doubt with space conflicts until we get the studio built.   Here’s the flyer for the upcoming classes.

The word on the street is that the mate-masie will be in the house for both classes.  MG and some of her squad are planning on taking the early class!

psalters are also getting ready to play at Messiah College in Grantham on Nov 5th.  It’s free at the Union at 10pm.  If you are in the area already it would be awesome to see you.  Check out this video from cornerstone 08!

Things Better Left Unsaid #18

This is kind of a tip of the hat to Leann.  Maybe this will turn into a series.  Usually, I guess, things in this category would be like saying to my kids…”wait.  do that again.  I want to take a picture and put it on my blog”, etc.

Things Better Left Unsaid #18:  “I feel like we just became friends on facebook.”

At a local watering hole with friends:

me (to the waitress):  “Hey, do you know Tim?  He works here and is a good friend of mine.”

Waitress:  “Yeah, I work with him.”

[exchange of names]

me:  “Geez.  I feel like we just became friends on facebook.”

Waitress:  “I don’t have facebook, only myspace.”

me:  “[nods]  [indeed] [still nodding]”

Exactly.

edit:  thanks, jonny bub for the logo!

movin on up

Thanks Nick for uploading the video that Jim shot and edited.  Here is the video of the Human Chain that moved Circle Thrift on Labor Day.  Hi-res version MPEG here for dnld.

You may want to share a highlight from the day here. I previously posted about how glorious of a day it was.  I’m happy for the video and all the pictures because they are a reminder of how God works through people.  Even the face of difficult circumstances and tasks, he provides.  Not always in the way that we imagined.