Rethinking How I Look At The World

Those who know me know how little enthusiasm I have for sports. I’ve never developed an interest. I’ve tried. I just couldn’t do it. Which is why I’m surprised at something that happened.

I got a call Sunday night. A friend of mine had Phillies tickets, and asked if I wanted to go to the game. I almost reflexively (and politely) declined. But then something went through my head. It’s something I’ve been chewing on for a while now.

I may not be that interested in the game, but I do enjoy spending time with my friends. And I don’t get asked to go to games very often. I said I’d like to go and we worked out the details.

I’ve made a lot of decisions in my life based on what would make me comfortable, or what would allow me to avoid inconveniences. I’ve turned down plenty of adventures because I didn’t want to deal with crowds and traffic.

But I’ve also given up a lot of chances to build relationships.

So I went to the game. And I had a good time. I spend time with friends. The weather was awesome. We had great seats, just off 1st base and in the shade for most of the game.

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In 2004, right before Joshua was born, my brother in law had Phillies tickets for a Friday afternoon game and was going to take the whole family. I was working the swing shift at that time, but I was able to get off. Then one guy didn’t show up for work. I could have fought harder to leave, but I didn’t. I stayed and worked. It hit me yesterday that I should have gone to that game.

I made the pledge to myself that I’m going to stop making decisions that allow me to stay home and read or surf the Internet. I’m going to start doing more to build friendships and to get out and meet people. Maybe I’ll go to the Army/Navy game this year with a friend.

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Book Review: Wild At Heart by John Eldredge

John Eldredge updated Wild At Heart for 2010. It was first written in 2001.

I first read the book in 2007. I taught a class on the book at my church for the fall quarter of 2008.

The book is written from a Christian perspective. With his wife, John Eldredge wrote a version of the book for women called Captivating. For non-Christian readers, I don’t believe the book was overly evangelistic. You may find it helpful.

The premise of Wild At Heart is that the church, as it exists today, teaches men that their ultimate aim as Christian men is to be “really nice guys”. Secular society doesn’t do much better, as it seeks to feminize and emasculate men. John Eldredge makes his case that Adam was created in the wilderness, then brought into the Garden, where Eve was taken from his rib. This means that man has something wild in his heart, and he spends his life trying to recapture it. John says that every man has 3 needs:

  1. A Battle to Fight
  2. An Adventure to Live
  3. A Beauty to Rescue

He also says that every man asks the same question: “Do I have what it takes?” Every many also carries a wound, usually inflicted by his father (or the lack of a present father). He often looks to the wrong places for the answer to his question. His mother cannot answer it, nor can his wife. Seeking the answer from these can cause more harm.

He then lays out the enemy, the strategy, the beauty, and the adventure, and urges the reader to write the next chapter.

John Eldredge uses movies and literature for illustrations for his point.

Many reviewers complain that the book is little more than an urge to be over-macho, with its constant references to mountain climbing and horseback riding. John Eldredge claims that is not the point, but some readers can’t get past it. I personally have no urge to climb a mountain or camp or hike through bear-infested woods armed with only a whistle. Every time I think about how cool a Jeep looks, I have to remind myself how horrible they drive. But I found the book helpful in some ways.

I compared the 2010 edition against my original 2001 edition. In the text of the book, there are some minor editing revisions. A few paragraphs have been reworded. I found a few new paragraphs in one section, and a few removed in another. The major changes include the addition of an Epilogue, “The Daily Prayer”, “A Prayer for Sexual Healing”, and the except from “The Way of the Wild Heart” has been replaced with an excerpt for “Fathered By God”. If you have the original edition, you shouldn’t need to buy the new one. I got a review copy from Thomas Nelson, the publisher. If you’d like to get free books in exchange for a review, check out Thomas Nelson’s Book Sneeze.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Commitment Part II: By The Way, The Navy Broke It’s Contract With Me

Yesterday, I published a blog post about commitments. I revealed how I was tempted to get out of the Navy by failing weight standards, but decided to honor my commitment.

I honored my end of the contract, even though the Navy broke it’s end before I even signed it.

I joined the Navy through the Delayed Enlistment Program the summer after my junior year of high school. I was already enlisted as a senior, and I left for boot camp 2 days after graduation. When I signed the contract, I honestly didn’t believe we’d graduate that late.

But the Navy’s end of the contract was always broken.

When I signed the contract, I was promised a $1500 enlistment bonus. I didn’t exact care about the bonus, but it was a bonus promised to me by contract. I would have joined anyway. I honestly didn’t have any other ideas. My dad was enlisted in the Air Force. I grew up in the military. I didn’t really know anything else. I would love to have been a fighter pilot, but I wasn’t ready for college yet. I didn’t think I was, anyway. So enlisting was my only option.

When I talked to the Air Force recruiter, he acted like he had a girl in the back room and had better things to do than talk to me. The Navy recruiter called me on a day when I was bored out of my skull and had little better to do than talk to him. The Navy offered me a better deal than the Air Force, so I took it.

I was to collect my enlistment bonus upon completion of my “A” School, or technical school. We got our bonuses on the last day of school on our way out the door. I was expecting a check for approximately $1250, which would have been what was left of the $1500 after taxes were taken out. Instead, I got a check for $800, which was what was left of $1000 after taxes at that time. When I questioned it, I was told to take it up with legal at my next duty station.

So, when I got to San Diego, I showed up at legal with the stub from the check (of course, I cashed it anyway) and my enlistment contract which showed a bonus due to me of $1500.

From what I understand, enlistment bonuses are MUCH larger now. But in 1992, they were tiny.

Legal told me that $1000 was the standard bonus for my rate (Fire Controlman), and the people at MEPS (the Military Enlistment Processing Station) did not have the authority to promise me more than the standard amount. I asked for the language in the contract stating such. I was instead told that if I wanted to push the issue, the Navy would let me out for breach of contract. I always figured that was a line of bull, but as a 19 year old E-4, I could only do so much.

I said I’d think about it. Many times over the next 5 years, I asked myself why I didn’t take it.

So you see, I kept my end of the contract even though the Navy broke its end before I even signed it.

An iPhone App That Prevents You From Getting Caught Having An Affair?

Are you screwing around on your wife but don't want to get caught? Well, there's an app for that now. It's called "Tiger Text". Pete Wilson does a good job of explaining the app and the moral implications, so no need for me to repeat that.

From Pete's writeup, the app allows you to send text messages to the object of your affair. The texts don't reside on your iPhone, but on their servers. Cool, that just means they can be subpoenaed by a savvy attorney. Oh, also, you can only have affairs with people who also have iPhones.

The app also isn't likely to prevent a spouse from discovering an affair. It'll just prevent text messages being sent back and forth from being on the iPhone. You are subject to the consequences of your poor judgment, planning, and overconfidence involving all aspects of an affair outside of your text messages. No matter how well you think you're hiding it, it WILL catch up to you.

I discovered an ancient secret that prevents your spouse from finding out that you had an affair. It's the kind of secret that everybody should know, but for whatever reason doesn't. I should patent this advice and sell it on late night TV for $29.95 with a boiler room telemarketing upsell. I won't. I'll offer it here on my blog for free because that's the kind of man I am.

The easiest way to prevent a spouse from finding out about an affair is:

DON'T HAVE A FREAKING AFFAIR! See how easy this is? You can apply this to every other area of life. Don't want to get caught cheating on taxes? DON'T CHEAT ON YOUR TAXES. There'll be nothing to get caught for. Don't want to get pulled over for speeding? DON'T SPEED! (OK, I'm the last one who should be giving that advice, but it still works even if I don't follow it).

For some reason, I always use the word "freaking" more when I've been listening to Dave Ramsey. I have no idea why…

I doubt this post will go down in history as one of my best, but if I can save one marriage by it, it's worth it.

Though I am far from an expert on the subject, I have done plenty of reading about marriage. Just as I am not aware of a single lottery winner who didn't end up blowing the whole wad and destroying his or her family, I'm also not aware of a single case where an affair ended well. I do know plenty of people who kept it together through rough spots in marriage and came out better.

I've known people who cheated. Even if their spouse didn't directly find out about it, their marriages disintegrated anyway. I've seen cheating destroy public images and end or damage careers (Clinton, Sanford, etc…) Seriously, these things NEVER end well. I don't care if 30+ years of soap operas are based on little more of a plot device than who is having an affair with whom. In real life, they never end well.

Pareto Analysis

Have you ever heard of the Pareto Principle? Pareto was an Italian economist who came up with an analysis stating that 20% of the people held 80% of the wealth.

Since then, the Pareto Principle has been applied in a lot of ways. I commonly hear about it in books and on websites related to lifehacking.

Since being removed from a position in November, I’ve finally reached a point of having to take a long, hard look at my life. Also, last week, I listened to The Four Hour Workweek 2 1/2 times, where I was reminded of the 80/20 principle.

Lately, as I look at my life, I realize that I’ve committed a drastic error. I’ve structured my life so that I’ve been really busy. I’ve had a huge backlog of things to do. But I committed the error in that my quest to be busy has left me doing things that didn’t make me effective.

I’ve reached a point of consuming information for the sake of consuming information. I have to spend a great deal of time each day consuming information. But how much of it is valuable? Very little.

So, I’m going to look at several of my information streams from this way: which 20% gives me 80% of my value? I’ll probably do the same thing with the podcasts I listen to. I’ve already streamlined both of these fire hoses in the past, but not far enough.

I have a rack full of magazines and newsletters that I’m hard pressed to find time to read. Don’t get me started on the eBooks I’ve downloaded.

And so, as I start to streamline my life in 2010, I’m going to trim some fat. I’m going to have to stop following several blogs and information sources, and I’m going to have to stop listening to several podcasts. I also have to decide which aspects of where I spend my time mean the most to me.

What about you? Do you have any excesses in your life that need to be dealt with? Where can you start?

Excuse Me… Or Not

So, I’m up in my computer room with both of my boys. I burp. I hear Joshua say something like “Excuse you, Daddy”. Later on, I burp again, and hear the same thing.

It occurred to me that maybe this is the appropriate time to teach him about guy stuff. Oh, come on, you can’t tell me that you haven’t had at least one guy friend that, when you burped, tried to top it. It doesn’t matter how civilized you might be, we’ve all had a few friends that we were comfortable, not only in displaying our bodily functions in front of, but in trying to top them.

Is It Realistic To Be “Happy With What You Have”?

I met my wife when I was 25. Prior to that, I was that loser "nice guy" who complained about not being able to meet girls. When I had friends who complained about their wives or girlfriends, I'd tell them that they should be happy they have someone to complain about.

I think we all have an area of our lives that we're unhappy with, yet there is always somebody around to tell us that we should be happy with it. "I don't like my job" is answered by "Well, at least you have a job. You should be happy that you have a job".

On some levels, we should be content with what we have. But on other levels, doesn't some discontentment drive us on to better things? If you don't like your job, shouldn't that drive you to get a better one? If you don't like your neighborhood, shouldn't that drive you to move to a better one?

Is it really smart to stay in a job you don't like just because there are people who don't have jobs?

When I was a kid, my mom was a really bad cook. Yes, we talked about it after I grew up. She knew she wasn't very good at cooking, and my dad liked his food incredibly bland, which is what she cooked for. I like lots of flavor. When my mom cooked something that I couldn't eat, (seriously, I grew up thinking lasagna was horrible!) I'd be told "You should eat that. There are starving kids in Africa". I always suggested we send my mom's cooking to Africa and let me make a sandwich.

I'm not sure there are any hard and fast rules to govern the situations where you should be content with your situation and when you should strive for better. I think if you exercise wisdom and caution, you should be all right. If you don't like your car, but you have to place your family in financial peril to make the payments on a new one, then you should probably be content with your car. If you don't like your house, but you have to take up a sub-prime Adjustable Rate (Rape) Mortgage (ARM) to get a better one, then you should probably be content with what you have for now. If you don't like your spouse, I can't help you in this post, but I have come across some interesting thoughts on love that I might share in another if anybody will actually read it. It helped me a lot.

If you don't like your job, I'm all in favor of bettering yourself and getting a better job. I've done it a few times myself. There are ALWAYS jobs out there. Yes, even in the Great Depression there were jobs. 30% unemployment means 70% employment. You just have to stand out a little better to get a job in those situations, but they're out there.

I guess "be content with what you have" could function as a general guiding principle by which to live your life, but it shouldn't be considered a law of behavior.

I think I've rambled on enough and not given enough answers. What about you? What rules do you have for when you should be content and when you should strive to improve?