On Being

“Some people walk in the rain, some people just get wet.” – Bob Marley

“To be content we need to find excitement in the ordinary.” – Axel Hoogland

“I just want to be happy.” Is something I’ve been saying to myself for a long time without realizing what that really means. What does it mean to be happy? What makes me personally happy? I thought I was pretty sure nice weather would make me happy. As such, I committed a lot of time to trying to move to a warmer climate. I didn’t end up moving, but I did eventually secure a new position in my current location. But did that really make me happy? No.

In the mean time, I had resolved to being here for a while. I became more involved in activities in my community through volunteering, working on some projects and visiting different churches in town and committing to remember more people’s names as I meet them. This acceptance of my spot in the country and general engagement in activities all lead me to a certain contentment. Not happiness like when you eat an ice cream cone or accomplish a goal, but certainly not the general animosity I feel coming from a lot of people for their general spot in life. In doing this I have also tried to stop complaining about things that are out of my control. This is something that I feel has really helped me.

Another part of my life (and I imagine others in my position) that is rather stressful often is my current position of singleness. In our society people are always exposed to couples and couple stuff. It’s all over the media. Kanye and Kim. Angela and Brad. Taylor Swift and Joe Jonas, Taylor Lautner, John Mayer, Jake Gyllenhaal, Conor Kennedy, Harry Styles etc, etc. Pressure from parents to “make grandbabies” can also be overwhelming for many people. (Luckily I don’t have this pressure). In general though, it seems that singleness is not celebrated or embraced in our culture. It doesn’t help that many relationships are based on rather shallow attributes. “We play the same sport, let’s date.” “We drink at the same bar every night, let’s date.” “You’re hot, let’s have sex and maybe date?” These attitudes of causal relationships certainly don’t help the person who is looking for a serious relationship feel content in their singleness. It seems like everyone is having fun while you are playing 3rd wheel.

What drives us to wanting to enter into a relationship in the first place? I have been scrutinizing this desire more closely lately. Certainly there is a physical interest in the opposite sex. The physical attraction is very strong and is what starts many relationships. Youthful beauty is often fleeting. Thus are the facts of life. Many people find this out much quicker than they thought, so what keeps older couples together? Hopefully there is a deeper attraction to a person’s character.  Another benefit of having a partner is the ability to confide in someone. We all have insecurities and we hope that someone will tell us that those insecurities don’t exist. “You are still beautiful” a husband will tell his aging wife. “You are still strong” a wife might tell her aging husband.  Is it also fear? Fear of being alone? The sad facts are that most couples will eventually be split up by death. The bible mentions that a marriage in this life will not continue into eternity. I think many people choose to ignore that part of the conversation, even though it’s right in the marriage vows “Til death do you part.” But I’ll save the religious thoughts for another article.

The sacrifices made to maintain a relationship are beyond logical! They fall into the realm of love which seems to defy any bounds of measurement. A husband will attend myriad of “chick flicks”, arts and crafts shows and family reunions with annoying relatives just to keep his wife happy. A wife will attend similarly annoying events enjoyed by her husband. Why? The only answer I can come up with is love. It’s certainly a confusing feeling for someone such as myself who prefers to quantify things.

What is our real goal in life? I think for many people it is to be remembered. How long will we be remembered for after we die? A decade? A century a millennium? If we really are honest with ourselves, our lives are quite inconsequential to the grand movement of things, although they seem quite important to ourselves. How many of you know much about your own parents even? Grandparents? Great-grandparents? What is our drive for reproduction? To carry on the family name? But of what consequence is that? Like the above description, you will likely be forgotten by your great-grandchildren unless you are of some world shifting personality such as George Washington or a wonder inventor like Leonardo di Vinci, neither of whom had children of their own.

Even then those people are only a few hundred years old (300 and 500 respectively, approximately), are not really old by universal standards. The universe is on the order of 13.82 billion years old. That’s billion with a B. The sun and earth are each about 4.5-4.6 billion years old, with many years left in them! The sun is predicted to fizzle out in about 7.6 billion years. Do you think people will be remembering you at that time? I’m thinking not.

Some interesting things start happening when we consider the speed of light. While we cannot travel at the speed of light, let’s pretend we can. If you were able to move at the speed of light any distance you travel would be as instantaneous to you, as time stops at the speed of light. For an observer on earth though, the time it takes you to get somewhere depends on their reference of time. So if you wanted to go to to Alpha Centauri (the next closest star system) it’d take you an instant (at the speed of light) but would appear to take about 4.37 years to an observer on earth. If you immediately turned around (after being there for an instant), you’d take another 4.37 years to get back (to the person on earth) while only another instant to you. So you’d have moved a total of 8.74 years in earth time but only 3 seconds of your own time, assuming no time to accelerate and decelerate. This is ignoring the issues with traveling at the speed of light, of which there are many. This opportunity to travel forward in time is very interesting. I am not yet aware of a way to travel back in time though.

Again, how does this relate to what is important to our lives? It hopefully helps us think about what challenges we are presenting ourselves with. Challenges are good. They certainly keep us occupied. The challenge of any competition can drive people to incredible feats. Likewise the challenges of travel or learning inspire us to reach new heights of knowledge. Sometimes challenges are useless though.

We can set just about any challenge for ourselves. We can aspire to be the best athlete, farmer, artist or chess player. Of what purpose is each challenge though? While it is nice to be a champion, we each eventually are displaced, no matter how good we are and that is a tough blow to most egos. To focus on the journey seems a better use of time. In our celebrity obsessed culture, we are not interested in the journey, only the results, no matter how long it took the person to reach the heights and how short their rein is.

What is my point in all this? Simply that we should enjoy the journey. We should focus on being present and enjoying the beauty around us for while it is fleeting it’s all we really have, unless there is something that comes after the end of time and our brief stay in it, which I am still contemplating and will share some thoughts on that at a later date.

Don’t Kill Your Child! Please!

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” – Jeremiah 1:5

I recently was made aware of this website by The Friendly Atheist.

The basis of the story is there is a pregnant woman. She is 26. She has scheduled an abortion for July 10th and will have the abortion, unless pro-lifers send her $1 million, which she promises to put in a trust fund to give to her child, who she’ll not abort if the $1 million is raised. The child will be given up for adoption and the money will be transferred to the child at the age of 21.

The Pro-Lifers” who have apparently decided they speak for all pro-lifers, have said they will not pay anything towards this fund, and I agree with them, in principle. Their argument being “It’s a hostage situation and we don’t negotiate with terrorism.” Terrorism in this case being using terror to coerce someone into doing something, not the general thought of Middle eastern terrorists that is prevalent in people’s heads these days. That is a fair stance.
Here are a few ways this situation could play out.

  1. The money is not raised and she has an abortion. – This would be the worst outcome as a child would be murdered.
  2. The million, by some miracle (which I do believe in miracles), is raised. The child is put up for adoption, which the female who will birth the child, has vowed to do. The money is given to the child at the age of 21, which makes very little sense, why not 18 which is the age people are considered adults, at least in America. Now this child (adult by now) will have to ask why there is a million dollars given to them. This could go 2 ways.
    1. The child could become very depressed at the thought that his/her biological mother wanted to kill them which would make the child question his/her self worth. Eventually leading to a unfulfilled life and potentially self harm or harm of others out of frustration.
    2. Alternatively the child could become so empowered by the fact that so many people (except his/her own biological mother) loved him/her enough to donate money to save his/her life that that child (now adult)  will become a super advocate against abortion.
  3. Another alternative, is that the mother could raise the child herself after thinking some more and realizing the grave mistake she is making by committing murder. I would encourage her to contact this woman or any other who regrets their own abortion. You can find plenty by just googling “I regret my abortion”. The only unfortunate part about this is that likely sometime it will come out that the mother was considering aborting the child and made a very large fuss about it. Likely the child will be pretty put off by the thought that his/her mother had considered killing him/her. I would be also. Hopefully the mother would do this very gingerly and really explain how she was led astray by public opinion into believing that the child was not really a person.

That’s the attitude that I’m personally taking towards this woman. She’s 26. I will be in August. I’ve done some dumb things in my life. She has also. But she still has the opportunity to make the right choice. Don’t murder your child.This is me pleading with you. If I was a millionaire I’d give the million easily, but I’d also try to talk to you. I’d ask you how you got to this point. I’d try to share the beauty of your child with you. But I can’t do those things, because you are an anonymous person on the internet. That’s also why I can’t just go about giving money to every person who threatens to kill someone. Will you give it back if you murders her child? I wouldn’t even want it! At that point it’d be blood money. What I can tell you is that I do support children I know are in need now as much as I can. I support children through The Job Foundation and through Children International as well as all people who need water via Charity Water. The point of mentioning these is not to show to the world what a great guy I am. It is to show you that real people do support others in need, as we can. But the value in that support is that it is loving support, given freely. Those people don’t demand I give them money. I give it to them because I love them, even though I don’t personally know them. It’s given freely, not taken or demanded. What does it prove if something is taken? Nothing.

When would you be happy? After I cashed out all my retirement accounts and sold all my vehicles? No. None of that would make you happy, because you don’t care about me, or your child, or anyone else. You are, at this moment, a selfish person. Our current society teaches us that it’s good to be selfish. This is the sad state of affairs we are in.

I do agree with you. Christians could always give more and that’s certainly something we each need to work on, but please forgive us. We are not perfect either, we are just sinners, just like you, and we really are trying.

While I disagree with your desire to murder your child, I will pray for you. I pray that you don’t murder your child. When you become more selfless, you will find that you are enjoying life more. You don’t love every moment, but living in love is more fulfilling than living for yourself.

I have also not donated to your site and I likely won’t but it has helped me recognize that I can always give more and so I have pledged to donate monthly to a local pregnancy help center, Alternatives. I only hope that you can find a similar place near you.

And please, don’t kill your child! Please talk to someone. Call me (715-820-0377) or email me (hooglandaxel@gmail.com) or talk to someone more local (probably more helpful) but please just don’t kill the child. We really do care about you. But we can only help you if you ask for it, not demand it. Love can’t be demanded.


Thank you to Amy Entwistle at Flickr Creative Commons for the cover photo.