Wednesday, December 15, 2010

So, who do you trust?
When standing at the precipice of life/death, who do you trust?

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

We Believe What We Want to Believe

Who really knows fact from fiction?  We believe what we want to believe even if it is not to trust anything you hear or read.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Do Trees Cry in the Fall?

For all my tree hugger friends here is my thoughts on Fall.

A couple of days ago I was sipping coffee out on my deck just before dawn.  I heard the sound of raindrops lightly striking the dry leaves on the ground ( I haven't raked the yard yet).

It was odd because it was not sprinkling on me.  The sound was just coming from over by the huge maple tree. 
I pondered this atmospheric anomaly for a minute then I realized it was not raindrops tapping the ground, but the leaves falling off the tree were making the noise.

It was kind of sad.  The tree was slowly releasing it leaves like it knew it had to let go, but wasn't ready to say goodbye yet.

The next day it rained, and rained.  Most of the leaves were blown off, but the next morning those that were left were still very wet and dripping.  The sound was almost exactly the same as the dry leaves dropping the previous day.

I got my camera out to get a few shots of early morning sun making the leaves  glow.  All the little bare limbs and the remaining leaves had  water drops glistening on their tips.    It reminded of tears.  The tree seemed sad, but knew it had to let go of the past in order to look forward to Spring when it would be happy again with all new leaves to nourish and be nourished by.

The same is true for us.  Sometimes we have to let go of something or someone in order to have room in our hearts for someone new or to simply renew our souls be releasing something or someone who has been preventing us from moving forward.

This Dolphin Should Go Green

The archipelago of Fernando de Noronha, Brazil is considered a wildlife sanctuary, but today, even in this isolated archipelago dolphins are victims of the bad habits of consumption. (Photo and caption by João Vianna) #
I borrowed this photo from the 2010 National Geographic amateur photo contest. It is truly a statement on the condition of our oceans.  But, of Course in my slightly skewed perception of reality my first reaction was, " This dolphin should know to bring its own re-usable grocery bag with him to the store."

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Drive By Shooting

Yesterday I checked out Pawley's Island, SC on my way to Charleston.  On my way out I saw this Heron sitting on the bridge rail.  I had my camera sitting on the seat beside me so I snapped this picture as I drove by.  Who says you have to slog through miles of wilderness to do wildlife photography when you can do some drive by shooting form the comfort of your car!

Monday, November 08, 2010

I Believe in Fairies

Magical Ferry Help

Joe, the Ferry Master

NJOYLIF likes Ferry Help

Rob is NOT getting seasick
The Odyssey (Honda and mystical) manages to continue with the help of a Fairy (ferry).  Odd-I-see how it is magical that you can come to the end of the road but can continue on if an un-foreseen helper is there to take you across the gulf you cannot cross yourself so you can continue on your journey.

I laugh at how so many words have double meanings or synonyms, antonyms or homonyms  that provide insightful revelations to life's paradoxes.  Wow, I am not even sure if I used these complex words correctly.

I just find it fun and funny to see how the same word can have opposite meanings (like vain) , or similar sounding words can reveal the nuances of perception.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Questioning My Apierance (sic)

How Much Longer Can Your Apierance Stand the Waves and Storms of Reality?

Sorry for the bad pun.  I had to think about this photo for awhile to figure out why it moved me.

I kept looking at the wobbly pier that has probably been their longer than I have been alive, yet looks like it is about to fall down. Then I thought about my appearance, my facade, my face I try to put on to others, and to myself.

I think my pier stands on worn wobbly legs yet I have managed to maintain it my whole life.  It seems ready to fall down at any time, with even the slightest storm to topple it.  Yet I manage to keep it from crashing into the sea of reality.

An honest contemplation of my pier makes me wonder if its worn pilings are as apparent to others as it is to myself?

I secretly hope a hurricane will blow it away.  I also secretly try to keep it standing and looking strong to others.

I think I would prefer not to try and maintain an apierence.  It seems to take more time and energy than just letting it all hang out.  I believe at least a few people would still like me..

Friday, November 05, 2010

Uncertain Path Pays Off

Last night I was wondering what my morning scene would be.  I was hopefully anticipating a really nice view of the ocean.  Well my dark path turned into a really nice one.  It was worth looking forward to!

Should've, Shouldn't, Should, Past, Present and Future

Some people say you should not live in the past or predict the future but live only in the present.  I mostly agree with this theory but find it hard to put into practice.  I tend to look at the past and say that I should've done this or shouldn't have done that.  This taints my view of the present which negatively tints my vision of the future.

I use my views of my past then say that from now on I should do this or that to make my future better than my past.
I also say I shouldn't do this now to make my future better.
Either way, the two words are projecting a future action (even if the future is just a second from now, like saying no to a negative temptation that I want to do right now in the present).  Pretty confusing, right?

Tonight I landed at Kitty Hawk (pun intended) on the next stop of my NJOYLIF quest.  It was after dark  when I found a motel right to the beach. I only assumed my room was right on the beach because the sea oats were just outside my room and I could hear the whursh of the surf not very far away.  However, I could not see it, I could only hear it.  I had not seen any colorful brochures of my motel room's beach view since I just picked it based on a list of motels my GPS told me were in Kitty Hawk on Ocean Shore Avenue.

My point is that I don't have any guarantees that when I wake up tomorrow morning I will be greeted by the fulfillment of the mental image of what I think the beach will look like (assuming it is even as close as I think it is). This does not stop me of eagerly anticipating waking up tomorrow morning and enjoying a freshly brewed cup-o-joe on my deck with the ocean just a few sandy steps away.

Tonight I could not help but walk out on the trail between the sea oats to see if I could actually see the ocean. It was just too dark to tell.  This is what this dark grainy picture is.  Me and my shadow standing on the path I will follow tomorrow morning to see if my anticipation proves to be what I hope it will be.

However, right now, I just don't know.  It is dark, and my path is uncertain but I am looking forward to tomorrow.

This is different than where my mind was last week when when my path was dark and uncertain but I was not looking forward to the next day because I was too caught up in what I should or shouldn't have done in the past.

I don't think we can escape from thinking about the future, but we can stop thinking about the past, or at least decide not to let it taint our present, which tints our future.  Maybe I can use the mental image of me standing on this sandy path at night lured by the sound of the sea to help me look forward to the next day even when my present is dark and uncertain.  God's call from the waves whurshing up on the beach beckons me to look forward to tomorrow.

I sure hope that whurshing sound is God and the beautiful sea and not the gushing of a very huge sewer pipe!  The key word here is hope for tomorrow un-tainted by what I should've or shouldn't have done in the past.  Or, what I should or shouldn't do in the future.  If tomorrow morning brings me a lovely view of the ocean as I sip my coffee I will just live in the glory of the present, at least for an hout or two...

a Robservation

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Playing Along With God - a Very Special Fishstick Birthday

Birthdays are always a bell weather mark.  Some people make grand plans to make sure they spend their B-day at some memorable place and/or with a memorable person.

I have been to some very B-day worth places and have met some very B-day memorable people while on my quest/adventure but, I have ended up spending it at a place even more awesome than my puny dreams could have made plans for.  I am spending it in exactly where God wanted me to be today so that providence, serendipity, coincidence cannot be explained away by some random crossing of the stars.  It can only be called, as my friend Susie Mac coined a "Godincidence".

It is not important for me to tell you the facts.  They would only be meaningful to me.  But there is no way that I would have ended up in a Holiday Inn in Dansbury, CT by some random choice to go inland 50 miles to to I-84 to get past NYC without going right through it on I-95 then have an old client also be coming though this town, of which I have no idea where I am really at, who was having a chance meeting with a client of his, who needed some photography services, of which my client talked me up and told them that I, too, was "just happening" to be passing through town on my adventure/quest and he was available to meet with me today, only because I happened to be in town, far away from my intended route of following the coast, then most probably snagging a really nice job at a time of my adventure that is needing a cash infusion in a big way.  All of this happening on my B-day.

Oops, I ended up telling you most of the story.  But, doesn't give you goose flesh?  Doesn't it make you realize that God is having a great time with our lives and all he wants us to do is play along?

Days like today will make me give pause for a long time (at least a week) before I want to yank the helm back under my control.

When I think of mutiny from God, I have to remember today.  My birthday.  a day I will never forget (for at least a week)

PS: If that statue looks familiar it is because you are eating too many Gorton's frozen fish sticks.  Gorton's is in Gloucester, MA and ripped off their logo from the Lost FishermanMemorial statue which is right on the waterfront in Gloucester, where I was a few days ago.  I almost didn't even take a picture of the statue because I almost had to stand in line with all the other tourist snapping it.  I am glad I did now.  was this another Godincidence meant for this blog posting??  Let's not get too mystical, Rob

Monday, October 25, 2010

Is Face Book the Face or the Truth?

I have been on my quest for the honest people and places in America for over a month now. So far I have met some incredible people and seen some postcard worthy sights.

But, I am very discouraged by the overall frustration of trying to find joy and contentment by living even the most enlightened lifestyle.  Frankly it sucks and makes me very discouraged that trying to live behind the mask we all present to the outer world is not worth it.

Maybe our Face Book facade is the truth and the more we try to escape it, the more miserable we are.

Now that would be the ultimate irony for me.  I spend my whole life trying to discover, then be who I really am only to find out that what I post on Face Book is who I truly am and not just what I want to be.

That is, a collection of who I want to be perceived as by both myself and by others and not the person who I try to hide.

Is this journey through life just a collection of facades?  Do we ever get to live in peace and contentment with ourselves and with others?  What does NJOYIF mean?

Asking tough questions is very tiring.  But so is not quest-oning.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

America On The Edge?

I am not sure whether to be inspired by whoever posted this flag in such a forlorn spot or be reminded of the desperate state our United Sates are going through.  I guess hope happens most fervently when hope seems lost most desperately.
Photo: Near Rockport, MA which is near Gloucester, which is not near anywhere.

Are You a Root or a Rock?

Rocks seem strong and immovable but is that the best way confront the world?
I remember the game of rocks, paper, scissors. Rock was usually the most powerful symbol but paper covered rock to win. Is paper in the game the root in nature? 
Yes! Roots cover rocks in nature. It may take longer and more seeking for a root to cover a rock.  But the root eventually overcomes the rock to survive and thrive.

Rocks can't move move.  Roots can.
Roots find a way around obstacles in their path to survive.
Rocks can’t prevent roots from growing.
What are the rocks in your path?
How do you root round them?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Contradictions That Aren’t

Sometimes we feel all alone. 

When we find someone else who feels the same way, we are alone together.

In a much larger sense, all of us are alone together.  We are individuals who have the need to live together, to survive each other.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Happy as a Clam

This was one of those mornings I spoke of yesterday when I said that I sometimes end up after dark at a motel picked randomly from the many roadside inns that speckle Hwy 1.  I have no idea where I really am until I wake up in the morning and see what is around the motel or nearby.

There were a lot of motels along this one stretch of highway South of Kennebunkport, ME which made me curious as to why.  I got up around dawn and went driving around to see what the attraction was.  Turns it Ogunquit is the largest and longest natural sand beach in Maine.  in fact it was the first sand beach I had seen in the entire coast.  Every other beach is rocky and bouldery (bouldery?).

The public beach access and surrounding shops and beachfront hotels were a holdover form the 50's which inspired this postcard.

You just never know what you will wake up to each morning.  That is the fun and the gamble of road tripping with no goal or destination in mind.  Does this mirror life?  I dunno, but the clam shell seemed pretty smiley even though it had long since lost it's owner (or vice versa).

a Robservation for Oct. 13, 2010

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Quest-ioning -or- How to Prevent Cold Feet

I have been on my quest for questions since Sept. 24 and have not written one story about my individual experiences yet.  

I was getting worried about it, not because I haven’t had some amazing encounters and heard some great stories.  It is because the stories are becoming intertwined with one person leading me to the next and all their stories are becoming interconnected. 

It is like I am picking up different color patches for a quilt that hasn’t been designed or sewn together yet.  I know I am going to make a nice, warm quilt and I know it will fit a king size bed, I just don’t have enough patches yet to get started sewing them all together.

I don’t think this journey is going to be about individual stories. It is going to be how we are all interconnected by our individual searches for spiritual understanding, truths, God.  We are all seekers in one way or another.  Some seeking answers, some seeking a way to avoid seeking answers and others, like me, still seeking the right questions.

I have decided that the answers are not as important as continuing to ask questions.  Once we stop asking questions because we think we have it all figured out, we are pulling up short of finding the ultimate answers, or in my case the ultimate questions.  We may have sewn a pretty nice quilt, but is too short and our tootsies will get cold in the winter.

There is always pain involved with any growth.  Most people say, “stop the pain” or try to avoid the pain at any cost.  They find a comfortable spiritual belief system (or lack of one) and are not willing to keep quest-ioning for fear of running into a wall of pain (or cold toes).  Some people think they can prevent pain ( and growth)  by trying to settle down somewhere, put down roots and let many of the spiritual questions they still have pass on by.  Others, like me am constantly curious about what is around the next corner.

On this trip I have found this to be so.  I may find a perfectly good place to stay late some afternoon, but I am always curious to see if there might be something better just around the corner.  Every time I push on until the daylight is almost gone I have discovered a better place.  This is not to say that pushing my luck (curiosity) hasn’t always yielded a softer bed, or a more beautiful vista.  It has resulted a couple of times of into having to stay in a no-tell motel where I feel the compulsion to check for bed bugs and smell the towels before using them.  But, in the morning I usually wake up to a sunrise that reveals that the fleabag motel is actually right on the seashore and I meet someone fascinating that I would not have met had had not pushed on and stayed in the nicer, safer place I found earlier.

It is okay to not know.  It is not okay to not know because I got cold feet and did not keep looking. It is also okay to not find the answers I was looking for.  Because, the answers I find are always better than the ones I thought I’d find.

The only way to find out the right answers is to ask the right questions.  I know when the right questions are being asked when those questions are answered by even more questions that lead me further down the path of questing for the truth.

Rob, on the road, picking up patches and putting them in my pockets.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Looking for Questions is the Answer

I have always been curious about things. In school I was always asking the teacher, "Why?" I wanted answers to my questions. Sometimes I received them and other times I just got a shrug or the comment, "I don't know why, it just is. Shut up and sit down, you are disrupting the class!"

This was very frustrating. It became even more frustrating when I decided to search for God. There were just too many times when there was not a clear cut answer. The default answer to the most difficult questions, the "aha, I got you on this one God," questions were usually, "Sit down and shut up, you just have to have faith." As a person who could only believe in things I had an answer for, the "faith" answer, to me, was a cop out. It confirmed to me that my own theory about God not being real was true. I didn't know that God was just smiling at me wryly and goading me to keep asking and not stopping because I did not get a quick, satisfactory answer.

After many years of begrudgingly putting aside the questions that could not be answered I have received an answer to the faith question I did not see coming. The best answer to many God-size questions is another question. Jesus ended many parables and answered many questions with another question. It frustrated the disciples and it frustrates me when I read the Bible. I want quick, easy to understand answers that affirm what I already want the answer to be. It is much like when a Psychiatrist comes back to my question of "Why do I act like this?" with, "Well, what do you think?"

I finally get it. God is not trying to frustrate me by not answering my questions. He is telling me that I am not asking the right question, or are not yet spiritually or intellectually mature enough to understand the answer when I do hit on the right question. There are also big questions for which I can never understand God's answer. This does not mean the lack of an answer means God is trying to pull a fast one on us. He knows not to even try to dumb it down to a level I can comprehend. Heck, even the questions He does clearly answer usually baffle me. Mark Twain said, "It ain't those parts of the Bible that I can't understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand."

My school teachers often did not answer my questions either. They told me to go look it up for myself. God does the same thing. I have found that if I go digging for answers I usually get more questions, different questions or questions contrary to my original assumption of what I thought the answer may be. My need for an answer to the original question is superseded by my curiosity to pursue the new questions. I am like a dog with a bone. I will relentlessly protect and chew that bone until I have sucked all of the flavor from it then toss it aside when a new, bigger, more flavorful bone attracts my attention.

I am now like the guy who goes to the doctor and says," Doc, every time I bang my head against the wall it hurts. Can you make it quit hurting?" The doctor replies, "Sure! Try smashing your finger with a hammer instead and the pain in your head will go away."

The point is, seeking answers don't always make us feel better. The point of seeking God is to seek the right questions. Then chew the questions over and over again until it produces a new, more insightful question. Just like the purpose of life is not the destination, it is the journey. The same is true of the pursuit of knowledge and wisdom. It is not the answers that are important, it is the contemplation of the question that is most satisfying and bears the most fruit.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Help Yourself

When the buffet is full they say, "You can help yourself!"

When the food is gone they say, "You must help yourself"

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Out of Control

Out of Control

The recent problems with Toyota vehicles reminds me of my all too often relationship with God.

When God wants to take me someplace faster than I want to go he will make my accelerator stick wide open. When He wants me to slowdown, He will delay my brakes to fit His traffic flow.

It is scary to feel like I am accelerating out of my control and it is scary to think my brakes won't work when I want them to.

Does God need a re-call of His purpose? Or, do we need a re-call of who is driving?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Get out of my way! -or- Pondering Pickled Pigs Feet

I am a very impatient driver, especially on long trips. It is boring to set in a car for hours. I have a destination that I want to get to and I want to be there, not get there.

It is most annoying when I have to drive on a 2 lane road and get stuck behind a slow poke driver or, even worse a huge 18 wheeler because I am not only slowed down by it, but I can't even see around it to find a place to pass unless I drift a little into the other lane taking a chance I will be bug smacked by an oncoming vehicle.

The worst is to be on a curvy road stuck behind an 18 wheeler. I can't see around it without sneaking out into the other oncoming lane, but even when I do sneak a peek all I see is another curve and the never ending double yellow "do not pass" line.

This morning our pastor was talking about unanswered prayer. He said that there are two main reasons why we think our prayers go un-answered.

Number one is that God seems to put off an immediate answer because He has something better for us if we will just have faith and endure the hardship or other situation we are praying about until His plan provides us something better. I thought of being behind the semi truck. In this case, the truck I can't pass is God making me slow down and not get so impatient to be at my destination; His answer to my prayer.

The Number two reason we feel our prayers are going un-answered is because I am praying for what I want, not what He wants. My own agenda and my own thinking gets in my way. In this case, the huge truck is me blocking my own self from my destination. Talk about confusing. I am both the car and the truck. I am following myself and getting mad because I won't get out of my own way.

The absolute, most confusing situation is to pray for God's will to be done, while at the same time believing that I am earnestly praying in faith that He will answer my heartfelt prayer. In this case I don't know if the truck is me or God. All I know is that I am stuck behind it and getting more and more mad and frustrated.

There is an old cliché, "lead, follow or get out of my way". All too often when I behind the truck on the curvy road I take a gamble and pass the truck when I think I have enough room to get around it, but don't really know if a car is coming the other way. I don't care, I just want the truck out of my way. As soon as I stomp on the gas and make a commitment to pass, I have really ignored God if He is in the truck. Ironically I usually say a small prayer that nothing is coming my way in the other lane. If it is me in the truck, I am playing chicken with myself and trying to get out of my own way.

If I can manage to cool my temper and impatience and just back off the accelerator I usually discover that there is nice looking scenery along the road that I hadn't paid any attention to in my fury to pass that truck at any cost. Sometimes I even see a country store or other roadside attraction that I will stop at to take pictures or buy a cold soda, usually the small 6 oz. coke in a bottle that only small country stores sell along with some hoop cheese and a pickled pigs foot (just kidding about the pigs foot. I always see them at the counter next to the pickled eggs and boiled P-nuts. I may be in the country , but I am not a country boy).

By the time I have pondered whether to actually try a pickled pig's foot or egg and decided to just go with the coke and hoop cheese, I forget about the truck and realize that there are plenty nice things to see and do along my road to my destination and check in time is 3:00 anyway so why am I in such a hurry?.

I also usually find out that when I do get to my destination I am less stressed and can enjoy it more and faster ( a paradox, eh?). A few times I have gotten to my destination at precisely the right time for a serendipity moment. A moment that is fortuitous and could not have happened at any other time or place. Then I always send up a little prayer of thanks to God with a smirk on my face and see His face smirking back at me a wink and a nod.

Dear God, Please don't get out of my way, but always get me out of my own way.

A Robservation