Look out for some fun videos I'm working on! Here's a teaser...
Very recently I realized I was drinking, consistently, about 3-5 cups of coffee every working day. Just got to work? Coffee. Just ate lunch? Coffee. About to give a talk? Coffee. Going to staff meeting? Coffee. Meeting with teens? Coffee. Working late? Coffee. Coffee? Coffee.
It was taking a toll on me, and I felt uncomfortable with the dependency on it. I could get moody, experienced huge energy swings, and most importantly, I feel like I was seriously craving simplicity.
Coffee isn't bad. (In fact, its delicious and you should buy some from Monk Rock.) But, for whatever reason, for me right now, it really was enabling a mind-scattering life. I'm already prone to getting stuck scrolling on Instagram, or Facebook, or constantly checking email. I also have a (bad?) habit of filling the quite hours of my day with podcasts. And the coffee-state-of-mind I really feel was making all of these bad habits and inclination more pronounced.
So, as a symbol of my new dedication to finding simplicity again and to reset the body, I've quit the coffee for a season. Who knows how long I'll stick to this.
In the meantime, I've noticed that I've really come to enjoy the experience of having a hot drink to sip on. Something about it is meditative and really human. Hot drinks force you to slow down a bit. They require some prep, but not much. And the steam and smell is comforting and for some reason I associate it with creativity.
To fill this hole in my heart that demands hot drinks, I've experimented with some recipes for hot water. I've found these to be tastey, but they also smell great. The experience is really all part of it. Making the water, cutting and prepping your ingredients, and mixing it together in a nice mug. I don't know why I'm recalling digging this right now, but just trust me. Try it and let me know what you think.
Make some hot water, grab a mug, pull out a book, or pen and paper, or schematics, and enjoy slowing down.
- hot water
- cut lemon half (squeeze a little juice in the mug)
- fresh mint (home grown is the bomb)
- yup, hot water
- few drops of vanilla
- squeeze of honey (bigger squeeze if its after 8pm)
- surprise! hot water...
- tablespoon of honey
- teaspoon of apple cider vinegar
The Below Are Not Recommended...
- how about some hot water?
- fresh cut lime half
- tortilla, torn into pieces
- refried beans
- 1 cup very hot water
- 1 sock
- hot water
- a lock of hair
- anti-aging facial mask stuff
- t-shirt with that gross 90's color palette
- a guitar string
Tried any of these? Do you have any recipes for water? Are you living with a mild case of pre-pre-early midlife crisis?
Let me know in the comments!
The Pope is in the US! There's plenty of coverage around the web, so I won't pretend to inform you.
However, this morning in prayer (prayer that involved browsing Facebook at one point, I'll admit) I noticed these things. Going back and forth between the news, Scripture, and then dual wielding Scripture with the Catechism, all of these things came together. It all hit me pretty hard and I'm still processing why exactly that is. I'll just leave them here in the order I came across them without any interpretation. Feel free to offer your thoughts.
Luke 19:1-6 He came to Jericho and intended to pass through the town. Now a man there named Zacchaeus, who was a chief tax collector and also a wealthy man, was seeking to see who Jesus was; but he could not see him because of the crowd, for he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus, who was about to pass that way. When he reached the place, Jesus looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house.” And he came down quickly and received him with joy.
549 By freeing some individuals from the earthly evils of hunger, injustice, illness and death, Jesus performed messianic signs. Nevertheless he did not come to abolish all evils here below, but to free men from the gravest slavery, sin, which thwarts them in their vocation as God's sons and causes all forms of human bondage.
1443 During his public life Jesus not only forgave sins, but also made plain the effect of this forgiveness: he reintegrated forgiven sinners into the community of the People of God from which sin had alienated or even excluded them. A remarkable sign of this is the fact that Jesus receives sinners at his table, a gesture that expresses in an astonishing way both God's forgiveness and the return to the bosom of the People of God.
Luke 19:7-10 When they all saw this, they began to grumble, saying, “He has gone to stay at the house of a sinner.” But Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor, and if I have extorted anything from anyone I shall repay it four times over.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house because this man too is a descendant of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost.”
2412 In virtue of commutative justice, reparation for injustice committed requires the restitution of stolen goods to their owner: Jesus blesses Zacchaeus for his pledge: "If I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold." Those who, directly or indirectly, have taken possession of the goods of another, are obliged to make restitution of them, or to return the equivalent in kind or in money, if the goods have disappeared, as well as the profit or advantages their owner would have legitimately obtained from them. Likewise, all who in some manner have taken part in a theft or who have knowingly benefited from it — for example, those who ordered it, assisted in it, or received the stolen goods — are obliged to make restitution in proportion to their responsibility and to their share of what was stolen.
2712 Contemplative prayer is the prayer of the child of God, of the forgiven sinner who agrees to welcome the love by which he is loved and who wants to respond to it by loving even more. But he knows that the love he is returning is poured out by the Spirit in his heart, for everything is grace from God. Contemplative prayer is the poor and humble surrender to the loving will of the Father in ever deeper union with his beloved Son.
The belt is an important piece of man's array of everyday-wear inventory. An homage to the outdoors and simpler times. It's the last piece of animal a man can wear without looking like Crocodile Dundee. It is a statement of purpose. The belt makes the poor pant button redundant and pitiful. It's where the scabbard and sword are hung, the holster and pistol, and the chipotle burrito. The past is preserved in scratches, stains, and a ragged hole you can't reach anymore. Yes, a man's belt is a silent watchman. A trusty companion. An emergency tourniquet. A terror for demons. A time keeper. A snug friend. Men, wear your belts proud. Do them no harm. Pour out a beer, and keep the belt another year.
The new and possibly final Wu-Tang album is more than two hours long. It features 31 tracks, all eight living MCs, ... sirens, bombs, samples from kung fu cinema, and original skits. And it took more than two years to produce, mostly because eighty percent of its vocals were re-recorded to capture the intensity of early Wu-Tang records. The album’s title: Once Upon a Time in Shaolin.
Here is some additional info: the CD is housed within two nickel-silver boxes that were hand-carved by a Moroccan artist and his team of ten workers over three months; there is only one physical copy of the album in existence; all digital versions have been destroyed; and bidding starts at $5 million. And we learned yesterday that Once Upon a Time in Shaolin will remain under copyright until 2103 — that’s 88 years.
I came across this article and now the Wu-Tang Clan fascinates me like an itch on the back of my head. I think a lot about making stuff. I really enjoy making stuff.
Creating. Art. Design. Expression. Speaking. Performing. Writing. Evangelizing. Catechizing. MAKING BABIES.
This is a brilliant lesson for all of us that like to make stuff.
--> Drop your expensive pen and listen. <--
There's a saying that in order to survive in a competitive market you are either the first or the best. Quality. There is always room in a market for high quality, because there's virtually no ceiling on it. The Wu-Tang clan spared no expense in making this album.
Hand-cvarved by a Moroccan artist and ten others. Read that again.
Oh, you threw some paint on a square and called it a day? Not the Wu. They took longer and spent more money and crammed more stuff into an album to make it arguably the most valuable, rare, and unique album ever. Do you slave over the stuff you make? Is it high quality?
How do you know if something is high quality? It kicks a**. People can't not say something about it. People save it. People frame it. People recited it back to you. People share it. People put it on repeat. People lock it in a museum. People are moved by it.
Lots of people. People who don't go to your Church, and people who don't know who you are, and people who aren't the same political party as you. People who are far from you. People who speak a different language. People who disagree with you fundamentally. People who hate you.
Another principal in market economics (that is, selling the crap you make) is scarcity. Scarcity makes something special. Like diamonds. (Or not like diamonds).
There is only one copy of this record. They played it publicly only once. Some people showed up in a room naked without their phones or cameras or recorders or other artificial-experience-validators. And maybe for the first time in years, this album and the weight of its scarcity forced people to shut up and just stand there. It was only going to be played once.
In the search for market penetration, or mass acceptance, or mainstream affirmation, do we forget to make things that are scarce? Scarcity makes something valuable. The most un-scarce things are the least valuable, or at least the least appreciated.
And not just things that are actually, physically, scarce. We often lack a scarcity awareness. The awareness that this minute passing right now is the first and last of its kind. The awareness that this life is only singular. The awareness of the scarcity of good friends. A scarcity awareness.
When making something, the maker must bake scarcity into it. Turn off the camera. Throw away the other copies. Perform it live. Do something singular.
When something can make you feel the weight of scarcity, you see it for the first time. Everything else blurs out of focus. You see it as if it and you are the only things. You really see it.
Does It Have a Scarce Quality?
The Church is calling for a new evangelization. An evangelization "new in its ardor, method, and expression". Its what Pope St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict championed for.
I'm starting to develop a thesis that might somehow connect artists/makers/creators to the future development of evangelization. Maybe its not a big deal. But it sure does help push me further.
"As the 20th century draws to a close, the Church is bidden by God and by events - each of them a call from Him - to renew her trust in catechetical activity as a prime aspect of her mission. She is bidden to offer catechesis her best resources in people and energy, without sparing effort, toil or material means, in order to organize it better and to train qualified personnel." Catechesi Tradendae #15
Are we challenging the borders of this new frontier?
Are we striving constantly to make things that are scarce and high quality?
Or are we racing to repeat things that are popular and unchallenging and that are sure to work?
Do our talks and conferences match up to this? Or are we just repeating THE SAME FREAKING CONFERENCE and the same talks and cute sayings ad infinitum? Does our music challenge us like this? Does our art challenge us? Is it high quality and scarce, sparing no effort or toil or material means?
And here's what is most important to us Christians:
Is our Church's evangelization, catechesis, music, art, culture, writing, [fill in the thing you make] the highest quality and does it weigh heavy in that kind of scarcity that arrests people and holds them still.
Because if the Gospel isn't that, then you aren't sharing the Gospel.