My Wandering Mind…

This I Believe is a fascinating program. It is just a three-minute essay written by anyone and everyone about what they see in the world and the things that form their beliefs. I plan to keep reading and listening to what I can, so as to inspire me to write as well.

It seems an unfortunate thing that I cannot access my blogs here at work anymore, for whatever reason. Nearly every day, something triggers my mind to fire into contemplation, but it has nowhere to go. Granted, it is difficult in itself to find a long enough span of time free to spend writing out a complete thought, but I would prefer to have access to what tools I need in order to write.

Of course, the computer is a very poor writing tool for me. I do all my work at the computer. I have most of my forms of entertainment at the computer. And these days I now have the majority of my communications over internet connections. So a computer has become a rather distracting device in my world.

At any given moment, I can tab over to a different program, changing my entire thought. My thoughts are disjunct due to the availability of media in the same space. Because of this, my concentration is not what it could or should be. What’s worse is that it has ingrained itself to an involuntary action. Like a nervous tick, I look away or switch screens. I dare not hold onto a single sight or idea too long, apparently.

My life does not appear to hold time enough for me anymore. Writings are left unwritten, instruments are not practiced, and projects fall to the wayside. The actions I take are dictated by the whims and wills of everyone else. At work, I get called in for immediate action. At home, my son and my wife take attention away from my inner thoughts. Even when the others are taken care of, there are maintenance duties that I have to perform around the house if they are to be done.

I just had a brief moment here at work where I could write. And just like some chaotic clockwork, I am called to duty in the middle of a thought, so the thought is now gone. Until the timing of a thought and writing collide again, I bid you all adieu~

Well, it happened…

It finally, really happened. Last weekend, Michelle and I got married. At 2pm, Saturday, 11 November 2006, she and I finally pronounced before the world the vows we had tacitly made some time before. I’m not really sure what to write beyond that point. It was a godsend to have seen the friends and family that we did, and it truly broke our hearts to say goodbye.

For the wedding day itself, everything went very smoothly. Nothing went awry, and the whole day went off with only the one hitch. (Get it? I was reprimanded for it the first time I used that line.) Having my friends run the dance made it even more special, and as always I was astounded by the rounds of wonderful words they had to say.

Unfortunately, we haven’t gotten in all the pictures that were taken that day, and even more unfortunately no where near enough pictures were taken. So here are a few that I felt that my few readers might want to see…

Here are Austin and I getting ready.

The kindly gentlemen who were willing to stand by me (Joe, Warren, Ken, and Jaime).

The Gents trying to pose with Austin. This is as far as we got.

The recently appointed Grandma Pat and Austin getting the ring bearer pillow ready.

Me with the man who made me all that I am, and to whom I owe everything.

Mom and Michelle’s mom Kathy lighting the Unity Candle before the ceremony.

Michelle being walked down the aisle by her father, Mike.

Michelle and I lighting the Unity Candle during the ceremony.

The whole wedding party. Can you tell which of the girls is my sister?

The newly expanded Fryer family.

My family.

My beautiful wife and I. Every time I think I couldn’t be luckier in life, she smiles again…

Our first dance, Nora Jones’ “The Nearness of You”.

Well, that’s enough out of me. Everything wrapped up far too quickly, and though it was a very long weekend, it practically evaporated before my eyes. This week has more been a matter of falling back into a normal pattern, just with a slightly heavier left hand. Still, I wish everyone could have stayed just a little bit longer. After all, why would they want to miss out on this the morning after they left:

Toodles folks~

O those kooky Christians…

As of late, I seem to have run into more than my standard share of kooky Christians. Now, before I begin, I would like to let it be known that I have nothing against Christians who go about their business in society, regularly worship, and whose faith actually improves their lives. I am not a Christian, or even a religious man in any doctrinal or organized sense. But my respect is always given for those who believe differently and can still think others are good people.

My respect, it hardly needs to be mentioned, is not reserved for those whose faith removes them from civility. The first recent episode to get me on this line of thinking came a few weeks ago. The world, it seems, shrinks to an incredible size sometimes. As I was walking back into a grocery store in Coon Rapids, Minnesota, someone I had just walked past called out to me. I didn’t recognize him at first, but he apparently recognized me. The man who got my attention was someone I not only went to high school with, but was also a fellow bandmate of mine! Of all the curious things to happen to me, this was by far one of the less likely.

Speaking with him briefly, it turned out he was out in this area on mission for his church. And for that reason, this incredible coincidence went sour. He took the opportunity of speaking with someone from his hometown over two thousand miles away in order to try to sell Christ to me. I told him that it was unnecessary, but that it would be great if he had the time to stop by for a spot of tea and to chat and catch up a bit. I left him my number and we parted ways, for I had ten pounds of beef in my hands I had to return. It haunted me a little that he went into his spiel on ‘talking to me about Christ’, the apparent randomness of our meeting being lost, but I shrugged it off. I was not expecting to hear from him again, and left the incident to stand alone as an odd little memory in my mind.

About a week later, I did wind up getting a phone call from him. Once again, he brought up the idea of coming to my home in order to talk to me about Christ. I told him again it was unnecessary; that I was not a Christian and that it held no appeal for me. It was about at this point, I gave up on the idea of meeting with him again to talk about things other than religion. He had some very kinds words to say about his recollection of me from band, and I had quite nice things to say about him and his brother in return (for I knew his brother better than I knew him). We bid each other farewell, and it would seem that we will never speak again.

It saddened me to think that his religion kept him from taking up an opportunity to speak with someone based on a lucky random chance. I’m sure that it was partly due to him being out here to accomplish this duty of his. But my problem with this incident still remains. I was quite looking forward to speaking with him over a cup of tea, being a proper host, and thoroughly soaking in conversing with someone hailing from the same town and now in the same area of the world as I. Unfortunately, it was not meant to be. I say unfortunate, because it seems to be that his faith and views on his purpose in this world stopped him from engaging in a simple pleasantry with his fellow man and former schoolmate. It was a shameful loss, in my opinion.

The second occasion that prompted me on this line of thought came at Halloween. We took our son around the neighborhood for the very first time trick-or-treating from our new house. Everyone in the neighborhood was positively grand, and by the time we got to them, quite generous with their remaining candy. One house we stopped at had a kind gentleman handing out little goody bags, with candy and toy money and a little book. When we got home and inspected the good stuff Austin collected, it turned out that goody bag had an ulterior motive.

First we noticed the million dollar bill that came in the bag, and I originally thought it to be a fun idea for a ‘trick’ gift. Upon further inspection, however, it became obvious this was not simply a fun thing. Written along the edge of the bill, in tiny writing, were lines attempting to forcefully, and in a rather misguided fashion, spread the word of Christ. It opened with text about the sin of lust and pleasures of the flesh and how to reject those evils by following some church’s teachings of Christ. The other object in the now cruel gift was a small booklet on tips for memorizing the Ten Commandments and how they should be considered in one’s life.

The implications of all this did not hit me at first. I had long been used to being of foreign thought among Christians and having to thoughtlessly toss away the self-proclaimed truths they attempted to sell to me. There has never been a moment of my life that I could not see those ancient myths as just that, myth, and that all the ‘truths’ attempted to be taught to me could be torn apart by logical reasoning. (Though that is not to say if there could ever have been a meeting between Jesus Christ and Socrates that I would not have been in attendance.) So unfortunately I just tore up and threw away those unpleasant gifts given to my son (hence the lack of citation in this post.)

It was my wife who saw this neighbor’s gift as a great indiscretion, and leave it to a mother’s instincts to find actual truths in this world. These were not handouts for me, they were directed at my three year old son! Attempting to give messages to a child so new and innocent in this world about lust and sin is truly a horrid act. To this man, ensuring the perpetuation of his own views far outweighs a child remaining innocent in this world. Heaven (apparently) forbid people to be naive to evil, no matter how young they may be.

This is only a small sample of the many examples of why religion never stuck with me. Not only do so many viewpoints touted by religious institutions disregard or turn a blind eye to logic and evidence and science, but to general pleasantries and kindness to those who think differently. Of course, this is not the vast majority of those with faith in this world, and to them and their generosity in my life, I will be forever thankful. But it seems that all major western belief systems have those too-large-to-ignore fringes who would readily be soldiers for their faith, to the point of being against their fellow countrymen and even neighbors.

This fringe, it must be noted, would be utterly impossible for me to police. By me, I mean the secular, civil world. I can do nothing for these people, for my words would be from the mouth of a heathen and be immediately disregarded. It is for the members of their respective faiths, to which the fringe claims to belong, to police. I know it is difficult for those moderate and civil religious members of society to do, as they would much prefer to distance themselves and not make it their own problem.

My small rant here has gone on long enough, and has been a wandering mess of thought over many days. I think the general thought is these sorted situations weigh negatively on my soul. It is so unfortunate that for some, the concept of acceptance and civility towards those who may even think directly opposite does not exist. They will never have peace in their lives. I suppose it is all well and good for them, as they believe they are doing the right thing and though they will never know contentment in this life, they believe they will in their next one, so it is a tolerable condition.

It also hurts me that those who know of my ideas and work their lives to change my ideas. I do nothing to them except personally disagree, yet still they try. I fear that these regular barrages may harden my soul, turning it rough and bitter. I live my life by the view that though I may not be a religious man, I am still wholly capable of being a moral man. Goodness is a logical product of thoughts on potential actions. I try to be moral because it makes sense to be so, not because I am threaten to do so or I am to be rewarded in a way my current life will never experience. To me, this is the only life I will ever get, so why waste it on the fouler things?

Take care, folks~

Snow and Halloween…

Well, the whole of October has come and gone, and it’s odd to believe we’ve lived in our new house for nearly a month. To me it feels like I’ve been there several months now, but to Michelle it’s not quite home yet. I think it’ll take some time for it to settle, and maybe because we have half our basement rented out for a while that keeps it from feeling like it’s completely ours. But I do think in time, after Thanksgiving and Christmas roll through, it’ll feel like our home entirely.

I have no doubts that some of you have been curious as to how I’ve been faring out here in the climate of the northern Midwest. All I can report is that I’m having a ball. I’ve been waiting to live in a world that actually shifts and changes. Early in October, we saw the first signs of snow. It was falling outside the school as we were setting up some of the aptitude testing in the computer labs. So often now, I feel like I’m home and in my usual routine, as if I’m not far from California. But these little moments crop up to remind me how far I’ve gone from where I grew up and that I’m something of a foreigner in this land still.

There are also wonderful moments of great fun I have here at the school. I don’t know if it’s healthy that so much of my fun comes at the expense of the kids, but I also don’t care. The kids need to be messed with. To me, fun was when during those early snow flurries (that’s what the national weather service calls them, they wouldn’t even be considered drizzles if it was rain), the fire marshall randomly showed up and set off the fire alarm to drill us. So all these wonderful little ten- to twelve-year-olds were standing outside without coats on a breezy, snowy morning. Through their whines of misery, all I could do was smile with the other teachers.

And within a week of all that, it was sunny and warm again. On one afternoon, Austin and I decided it was nice enough to wander around and meet some of the neighbors. We definitely lucked out on the neighborhood, and that point was driven home on Halloween. We got Austin dressed up as Buzz Lightyear and very excited to go around the trick-or-treating. We had gotten started a little late, since Michelle doesn’t get out of work until after six. By the time we reached some of the houses, they were just trying to unload their candy, so Austin by the end of our rounds could barely hold up his bag. Of course, the poor munchkin was absolutely freezing, yet wanted to keep on trucking. We kept him wrapped in a blanket until it was time to ring the doorbells. He’s a real trooper (unless we put him in pants he arbitrarily decides he doesn’t want to wear; now that’s hell).

On a final note of feeling like we’re home, it’s the little things you only do at home that make you feel like you’re there. The night before Halloween, we stayed up to carve our pumpkins into Jack-O-Lanterns. We actually had a nice afternoon, though with a cold breeze, to go out to a proper pumpkin patch and pick out our pumpkins and pet some of the animals who kind enough to stand in a pen for us.

Austin is so odd sometimes, because he so desperately wanted to use the spoon as a scoop, but wouldn’t dare reach in with his hands and pull out the innards of the pumpkins. I guess he really takes after his mother in being a neatnik, since of course I never made any great effort to remain clean and neat when I was a child. (Mom & Dad, keep your comments to yourselves.) In the end, the big moment was to put our Jack-O-Lanterns on our front doorstep and light the candles inside them. That was the biggest reminder to me that this house is my family’s home.

Toodles, everyone~