Friday, September 27, 2013

NOISE

I face lots of situations that can make me uncomfortable and among these are noise.  When I say uncomfortable, I mean that it makes me want to get away from it.  It causes my breathing to increase and heart to palpitate and I feel like my body is shutting down.  Noise sometimes triggers a small panic attack that feels like I am surrounded and crowded and everything is closing in on me.  I don't like the feeling noise sometimes brings upon me.

Noise is everywhere though and it seems like there is no escape from it.  Noise has become a part of life for all of us. It wasn't always that way.  There were spaces of time when noise was replaced by sound.  Late at night for example, the busy noise of day to day life can be replaced by sound if you are in the right place and lucky enough.  Sounds of nature.  Crickets and frogs, a soft breeze rustling the trees, and water gently lapping at the shore.  Sound is much better than noise.  I suppose that it is still possible to somehow get away from noise and listen to sound but it is difficult.

There are lots of different kinds of noise.  A crowded noisy sports bar is one of the worst for me.  Televisions going, people talking over each other and as the talking continues to go it seems to get louder as some people need to make themselves heard.  Soon it doesn't even sound like talk but just a wall of noise in which as hard as people try, they can't hear one other.  Along with this is the constant sound of those cell phones ringing, playing songs at a volume that can be heard over the crowd instead of vibrating quietly to let the desired party know that someone is calling.

Cell phones.  While we are here let's talk about these wonders of technology.  We can not go anywhere without a cell phone.  Have to be in constant touch with everyone.  Heaven forbid if a cell phone rings and isn't answered.  Do we really need to be in constant contact all the time?  There was a time when you weren't home, people who wanted to just chat would have to wait until you did get home where you could talk to them without half the city hearing your private conversation.  Cell phones add another level to the noise of life.

Loud talkers.  Some people simply have a loud voice.  It isn't their fault, it is just the way they are.  Still, when I am trying to talk to someone or, more my situation is when I am trying to work, and a loud voice comes walking through the room I cringe.  Those loud vocal chords send shivers down my spine and interfere with my thinking or my own conversation.  Sometimes at the office, it gets so noisy while I am trying to work that I have to get up and go outside. I get irritable and frustrated because I have work to do that is always under a hard deadline.  When I get outside there is sure to be a train coming down the tracks blowing his horn to warn anyone up ahead that it is coming.

Note:  Train rails and wheels and whistles are NOT noise.  They make a beautiful sound to my mind and tend to relax me.  Trains are GOOD.

Cars and motorcycles are noisy and a lot of times for no reason other than to be noisy.  I like to listen to music in my car and there are times when a car with this obnoxious booming bass pulls up beside me and even though my windows are all up, they rattle and the booming bass drowns out the music in my own car.  As far as Motorcycles go, put a muffler on those things.  PLEASE.

Kid noise can be good or it can be bad.  Lots of kids giggling is not noise.  That is something like the music of life.  One kid crying is not bad, but when one kid cries, if there are other kids around it spreads like chickenpox.  When you get multiple kids putting on fits of anger or unhappiness, it becomes one of the most unbearable noises to me.  More than anything, this type of noise is likely to force me outside to get away from it.

Music is not noise unless it is not really music.  Real music is music that I like.  Anything else is just noise.  Rap/hip hop is noise.  John Lennon is music.

Finding a quiet place to eat is next to impossible anymore although there are places that do exist.

I don't know where I expected this to head, I just wrote the thoughts as they popped into my head.  I hate noise and each day technology brings more noise into our lives or rather we let technology do that.  Do we have to have cell phones with obnoxious ring tones?  Do we have to yell into a cell phone when we use them?  Does television have to be turned up so loud you can't read while someone else is watching one?

The worst kind of noise are big talkers.  Not loud talkers but big talkers.  People who talk with authority about things they know nothing about.  People who talk and talk and you know deep inside you can't believe a word they are saying.  It is noise for noise sake.  People who like to hear themselves opine on anything and everything.  People who will say anything to make themselves look good instead of being honest not only with the ones they are talking to, but honest with themselves.  To me that is the worst kind of noise and the major one that I want to just walk away from and I do walk away from these big talkers at times.  I like to trust people, but over the years I have become more jaded in trusting people who are simply making themselves look as good as they can, mainly for themselves I think.

There are a lot times when I can't wait to arrive at the point in life where it is totally quiet forever.  That sounds so inviting at times.  Just pure quiet and silence.  We do get to a point in life where silence takes over.  We all do.

Well that is enough noise from me tonight.  going to shutup and go listen to some music as I try to sleep.

My hope is for all of you to be able to experience more sound and less noise in life.  More sound and less noise might just make it easier for all of us to get along.

Monday, September 16, 2013

GETTO LIVING - BACK DOWN TO EARTH

I had written and posted an entry on this blog that was a letter to my former classmates concerning the attitude and the belief that the old neighborhood that they graduated from was a dangerous place to live.  If you recall, one of my classmates had described it as a "ghetto" and the purpose of the entry was to demonstrate that it isn't a ghetto as a matter of fact not even close to a ghetto.

After swapping a few e-mails with the classmate who described the neighborhood as a ghetto, we both came to agree that each of us was rather over the top in our words concerning the neighborhood.

My classmate pointed out to me, correctly, that I over reacted somewhat and took it a little more than personal when I saw my neighborhood being described as a ghetto.  Looking back on the events, I can see where I possibly did over react.  To start with I posted a reply in the thread that was more or less combative and rather terse followed by un-friending all of my classmates on Facebook.  I followed that up with my blog entry which I mailed to the describer of the neighborhood as a ghetto.

While I stand by the over view that I was trying to get across the writing was a little acidic. I used the word "ignorant" and "foolish" many times in describing my former classmates, but was really targeting my friend who described the neighborhood as being a ghetto.  There was a day or two where I feel that he was irritated with me and my writing as well as the attack that I had leveled at him with the writing.  At the same time I was irritated and frustrated that he seemed to refuse to back off of the idea that Ruskin was in truth a ghetto.  It was two days of not feeling good about the whole situation.

I have been friends with the original poster since we were in grade school together.  We had a lot of classes together through the years and we finished by graduating High School together.  It was many years of a friendship that was on the line and looked like it would end under very bad circumstances.  I didn't feel good about that and I don't think he did either.

Let me tell you about this friend of mine and how I saw him through the years.  As long as I can remember he was a sort of leader in the class in his own quiet way.  He was never conceited or self promoting even though he had plenty of reasons that could have led him to be that way.  He always was and still is very intelligent.  He is thoughtful and a good thinker, who thinks things out before speaking.  He was and is an extremely charismatic personality, something that I have always envied.  He is well know in the class even after thirty nine years since graduation.  He is the kind of person that reaches out to others, not seeing himself as better than anyone else.  One thing that I really did envy about him was his talent as an artist.  I have mentioned numerous times how badly I wanted to be able to draw and be a natural artist but I never had that talent.  This was the thing that guided me toward engineering as a career because as an draftsman or engineer, I could draw and make the drawings would be nice and have an artistic look to them.  My friend was a true artist.  He could draw anything.

Over the weekend as we swapped a few emails between us, I think we both came to a couple of realizations.  One of the things was that my classmate was holding some well deserved bitterness over the last thirty years towards my neighborhood and the neighborhood that he grew up in.  I have said and continue to do so, that the Ruskin area did go through a rough period of about ten years from the mid eighties to mid nineties.  Lots of transient people living there was a main force in the communities struggles.  During this time he had run into some situations where his family was trying to deal with the community and things did not work out the way it should have.  During that period of time, in his eyes, Ruskin was not the place it was as he was growing up.  Add to that the fact that his boyhood home and suffered from a major fire and is literally destroyed and his bitterness grew somewhat.

From my point of view, I constantly read and hear things from former residents who are constantly putting down Ruskin as crime ridden and dangerous.  Usually I read these comments and  while they irritate me I am able to shrug it off.  This post last week was different though.  The post took the criticism of Ruskin to a totally new level.  When the word ghetto was used to describe where I live, I felt like it crossed a line.  I felt like it went too far.  Ruskin is growing and changing.  Houses are being kept up and lawns are manicured.  It is far from being a dangerous place to live.  I spent some time driving around the neighborhood this past weekend and affirmed my thinking that Ruskin has is a clean community oriented neighborhood.  I did not see any graffiti at all as I drove around and only one house that was boarded up.  I also went by my friends boyhood home that had suffered from a fire.  It was a bad fire that hit his house.  It is burned bad enough that the city put a sign on the front door specifying that it was dangerous to enter.  I felt like when that house burned, my friend had lost a part of his life and that was indeed a sad situation.

After swapping a few emails we came to a conclusion where each of us went wrong.  He said that he first off he wasn't aware that Ruskin was not what it was thirty years ago but he did know that it was not a ghetto.  He has been through ghettos in other cities and that Ruskin did not come close to being that kind of an area.  He explained to me that he thought I had over reacted with my writing and had taken it too personally.  He is right that I did over react and all my writing on his post was knee jerk at it's worst.  I should have taken time to calm down and write a better explanation of how the area really was now without the anger and irritation that filled what I did end up writing.  I still am proud of the area though and whenever someone goes over negative talking about the area, I do take it personal because it is where I live.  I know what Ruskin is like because I am there day in and day out and I can understand my initial reaction to seeing Ruskin described as a ghetto brought about the anger and frustration that drove my writing, as knee jerk as it was.

The good thing is that we were able to work it out as adults and as friends.  I think we both have a new insight into the the thinking of the other that led to the responses that each of us had toward the others writing and that is a good thing.

So in ending this writing and putting the issue to rest, I want to thank my friend for being patient and for listening and for sharing with me his experiences so that each of us could get past this unfortunate situation.

I feel much better now and hope he does as well.


Sunday, September 8, 2013

FAITH DAY TO DAY

Faith.  Faith is a word that we humans use a lot to describe what we expect from the future.  Both the secular and the religious parts of society use faith to verify that everything will work out okay.  Faith is much more complicated than what we define it to be though.

One of the situations that come to mind in using the word "faith" quite a bit is in the sports arena.  Last year I felt I had "faith" that Mizzou would go to a  bowl game to finish their first year in the SEC.  They did not as injuries and a tough new conference left them one win short of being bowl eligible.  When Mizzou was in the Big 12 and playing Kansas on a regular basis I would find myself saying that I had faith that Mizzou come out on top of Kansas two and sometimes three times a season, but it seldom worked out that way.  Every year I have "faith" that both the Cubs and the Royals will make the playoffs and every year my faith falls short for those two franchises.

We use the word "faith" in our social situations on a daily basis.  We have faith in our fellow man that they will treat us in the right way yet it seems that mankind doesn't seem to know of that feeling of faith we have for them.  I was in a 7-11 on Friday and a woman there was upset at one of the clerks running the counter.  She was talking very loud and was very angry.  I was trying to make my purchase and get on home so I talked extra loud so the clerk could hear me.  As I left the 7-11, the woman was in the parking lot still ranting about how she was treated inside and then she turned on me, calling me names and cussing at me for trying to talk over her while in the store.  I was attacked and was seen as not so much an innocent bystander, because part of her problems when I tried to talk over her loudness in the store.  Faith, as most of us take it, had crumbled once again.  My fellow man had turned on me because I was trying to make a business transaction in the quickest way possible.

Many people turn away from their belief in God because they had faith in God to do what they want and to make everything work out.  We put faith in God as a demand on God instead of letting God be in control and realize that God's will is what the outcome of any situation may come up.  Too often we place faith in God to get what we want and unknowingly use faith as a tool for selfishness and that can tend to embitter us towards God.

I think that we have a wrong definition, a misunderstood meaning of what faith is.  Most of what we describe as "faith" is in reality "hope".  Hope is easier to understand and fits into situations that we give credit to faith better.  I hope Mizzou makes a bowl game this year.  I hope that the Royals somehow pull out something like the Mets did in 1969 and go to the playoffs during this last month of the season (it is already too late for me to hope for the Cubs as they have been eliminated from even having a mathematical chance of making the playoffs.)  I hope that when I leave from work tomorrow afternoon I will be able to look back say it was a good day.  I hope that everything I want to work out whether it be with physical things or spiritual things will work out the way I want them to.  When it comes down to it though, odds are that none of that will happen.

Faith is more complicated and more difficult to understand or to put into practice.  Faith is hope times ten.  Faith is when we don't even think about things and how they will turn out.  Most of us have faith that we will wake up tomorrow morning.  It is something we don't think about.  It is there in our knowledge base.  Yes, I will wake up in the morning.  Faith is getting in your car and driving to the store knowing you will get there and home safely without even thinking about it.  Faith is knowing that God will be with you and that He is in control and it is His will that is in control over what will happen.

Faith goes even further though.  We can have faith in something and it will be something that we won't be thinking about when things go just the opposite of what our faith had instilled in us.  A little over a year ago, I was driving to go to a dinner with my cousins and I had on every Tuesday for years.  I had faith that I would arrive, have good fellowship along with some french toast and eggs and sausage and go home that night to awake the next morning and go to work.  I never got my french toast though.  As a matter of fact I never got into the restaurant.  I sat outside having a heart attack and would soon find myself in the hospital to stay the night and have surgery the next day.

Was my faith broken?  Did I lose faith or the concept of faith because that Tuesday night was way out of whack from all those other Tuesday nights?  No.  My faith shifted a bit and made some adjustments and soon I was still going about life having faith in things that I know to be true.  How do I know?  Because I don't think about them.  Faith takes over and once again I have faith that God is in control and it is my faith in Him that keeps me going from day to day.  By the way, that last sentence isn't exactly true.  I find I have a constant battle between telling the difference between hope and faith.

Hope is a constant.  We have hope for something everyday.  But we must also have faith and realize that we do have faith.  We have to fight to have and to keep that faith.  If I didn't have faith from day to day and only had hope, I would be terrified to go to bed at night.  Would I wake up?  If I didn't wake up, would God take care of me after I passed?  Faith is what keeps us going from day to day.  No matter what happens we don't have to worry about it because we have the faith that is, what I think, a gift from God.

Some of us, if not all of us, need to be on watch though.  There is that other side of faith that can deceive us and make us think we have faith in things that we shouldn't.  I think that is where the confusion between hope and faith comes into play.  What we hope will happen is brought into our minds as being mistaken as faith.  I have a real difficult problem with telling hope from faith on a day to day basis.  This difficulty in being able to discern between the two cause confusion in my mind and thoughts that are not a part of reality and this puts me in real danger at times.

I try to be happy.  There is no reason why I shouldn't be happy.  My mind is mixed up though and between  situations that confront me day to day and some sort of chemical imbalance in my brain being happy is difficult for me more and more as I find life continuing on.  I have become pretty good at fooling people into thinking I am okay, but deep inside I am not.

I try to have the faith I need but I am constantly finding myself falling short on the faith part too much on the hope part.  The problem is, you can count on faith but you can not count on hope.  Counting on hope to live your life by is like rolling the dice every day.  Seldom are you going to get the roll you think you deserve or want.  It is a very selfish way to live my life.  I try.  That is all I can do is to keep trying every day.  Trying to find that faith, day to day.