Adrift

Adrift

Adrift – Denver’s Only Tiki Bar (Click to make it bigger)

I spent a few hours drinking with friends at Denver’s only tiki bar, Adrift. It’s on Broadway in a fairly nondescript little building; you might miss it if you didn’t know what you were looking for.

Two of my very favorite people in the whole world– both of whom I’m trying to recruit for this new site and both of whom would bring different voices and ideas to the place– fueled by shots, great stories, and, simply, the pleasure of each other’s company.  It was a good night.

I don’t drink as much as I used to. The expense is too great both in the wallet and in the next day’s recuperation, so I’m feeling a little pain today. There are no regrets, though. I think there is something important about the ritual of spending quality time with friends who can hear your thoughts without judging them, who can argue with good cheer about everything from politics to music to bad movies.

I owe them a great thanks for their time and their friendship.

It didn’t hurt that for the first time in my many years of drinking, I met a cocktail waitress who was almost as obsessed with Mark Lanegan and Screaming Trees as I am; nor did it hurt that I convinced the bartender to play the great Trees’ song, “Silver Tongue,” late in the evening. Even better, the small crowd in the place actually seemed to enjoy the experience and no one complained when the Trees kept playing.

Is there a bigger point? Probably not. Maybe just that life shouldn’t be so mired in its political debates and disappointments that we forget to live and cherish even joys like these.

I’ll be there again tonight with my wife and a handful of other friends. All women. It won’t be quite the same (and I won’t drink quite so much), but you can be sure that I’ll be a happy man.

Any of my friends in the Denver area are welcome to join us. Just follow the sound of my laughter.

Colorado Fires

Okay, it’s getting a little scary out there. Not for me; I’m in a place pretty safe from wildfires. But the fires near Boulder and Colorado Springs are scary. Thousands have been evacuated and the weather is doing us no favors.

It’s hot, it’s dry, and we’ve seen gusting winds up to 65mph in some areas. Hundreds of homes have been lost and it looks like the situation is going to get worse before the firefighters will manage to get the fires under control. As I write this, I’m hearing that the Air Force Academy is being evacuated and the TV is showing fire getting uncomfortably close to the academy football field.

There are going to be a lot of families needing the generosity of the rest of us. Here are some organizations that will be needing donations and support.

Salvation Army and Red Cross are both providing a tremendous amount of support.

The Larimer Humane Society is working to rescue animals and reunite them with their owners.

HelpColoradoNow.org has lists of things that are needed by a number of agencies and organizations. That is where I will be focusing my giving.

I Choose to Feast on Life

I won’t fire a round in this chapter of the mommy wars. There is precious little ground to be gained and I don’t fancy myself a willing target of enraged women seeking their own, personal fulfillment.

But this article by Namoi Dector in Commentary Magazine is a mighty fun read for me.

Guess what, ladies! We still can’t have it all. Well, we could, if only the world of work adjusted itself to meet our requirements. As it currently stands, however, we just can’t have a really, really high-powered job and spend as much time taking care of our children as we’d like to — not even if we’re working for a feminist icon, in what is arguably the most aggressively woman-friendly presidential administration ever.

[…]

Who’s to blame? You guessed it: SOCIETY. Because men are still socialized to blah blah blah. Studies have shown that blah blah blah. Young women are agonizing over blah blah blah. Older women are agonizing over blah blah blah. And what’s to be done? Right again: CHANGE SOCIETY. Change the way we work; change the way we value different kinds of working (through email, phone and videoconferencing, and not thinking that #hours-spent-in-office=drive and dedication). Oh, and arrange school schedules so that our children can be kept at their own desks for as long as we are at ours. If we do this, we will finally, finally, figure out how to achieve, you guessed it again, WORK-LIFE BALANCE.

I must say this: no one gets to “have it all.” Even the wealthiest, longest lived, healthiest people don’t get to “have it all.” The insistence that anyone should “have it all” is infantile.

Grownups know that you have to make choices and every choice involves not only some gain but some cost. When faced with two wonderful options, I often have to choose one and lose the other; that is the cost of priorities. As good as my life is– and it is– I no more “have it all” than anyone else in this world.

My advice: own your choices. Embrace the path you take without mourning the one you didn’t. Love what that path brings you without obsessing over what other people chose. If you find that the costs in area are too great, then make changes to bring the balance that you want.

You don’t get to “have it all” but, if you make smart choices, you might get to have an awful lot of love and happiness in your life– a job that fulfills you, loyal friends, happy memories, celebrations, and wonderful experiences. Live is a banquet of wonders and beauty and I will feast on all that I can.

And even so, I know that will never, ever “have it all.”

Links

Now that I’ve dealt with my problem with the Disqus comments, I can ask a little favor. At some point, I will be attacking the links to the side of the blog. I’d like to have some interesting sites to include (and friendly blogs as well). To this end, I would appreciate a little help; let me know what sites are worth my attention so that I can get them linked up.

Self-Back-Pattery Fun

Okay, while trying to remember what it was that made the previous site semi-popular and what went into the creation of the site over its life, I came across something that I wrote about ResurrectionSong back in the day.

When someone told me that bloggers were going to be rock stars, I thought Resurrection Song would not only give me an opportunity to share my thoughts with the world, but there might be big money and groupies in the deal. After over 4,000 articles,17,000 comments, not a single earned dollar, and no groupies whatsoever, it would seem that the rock star comparison was slightly overblown.

Still, running a moderately conservative Web site that covers topics as diverse as war, gay marriage, pop culture, Social Security reform, and the Denver Broncos proved more addictive than I imagined. Where else would a former bartender from Denver have the opportunity to share ideas with writers from both Arab News and American Spectator? Where would he have the chance to be interviewed for his political thoughts on talk radio and for syndicated newspaper columns?

Blogging, at its best, is a meritocracy that gives ordinary people the chance to reach extraordinary audiences.

Resurrection Song isn’t the biggest site, but its wonderful community of regulars and eclectic cast of writers make it worth the efforts. That people come to the site daily to read my words (and, often, disagree) is high praise.

The funny thing is that these few paragraphs actually did remind me of some of what I liked about blogging at the beginning.

The question remains, though: can I capture that moment a second time? I kind of believe so. I certainly hope so.

Happiness: Still Overrated

This article on The New Republic is mildly interesting to me, but it loses me when it starts talking about the religious view of focusing on things other than personal happiness. That is, focusing on something other than the fleeting, typically shallow response to fulfilling our small desires.

In Christianity, for most of its history, the treasure, not pleasure, was to be stored up in heaven, not down here where thieves break in. After all, as a pre-eighteenth-century theologian would put it—or as a modern and mathematical economist would, too—an infinite afterlife was infinitely to be preferred to any finite pleasure attainable in earthly life.

The un-happiness doctrine made it seem pointless to attempt to abolish poverty or slavery or wife-beating. A coin given to the beggar rewarded the giver with a leg-up to heaven, a mitzvah, a hasanaat; but the ancient praise for charity implied no plan to adopt welfare programs or to grant rights of personal liberty or to favor a larger national income. A life of sitting by the West Gate with a bowl to beg was, after all, an infinitesimally small share of one’s life to come. Get used to it: For now and for the rest of your life down here, it’s your place in the great chain of being. Take up your cross, and quit whining. What does it matter how miserable you are in this life if you’ll get pie in the sky when you die? Such fatalism in many religions—“God willing,” we say, “im yirtzeh hashem,” “insh’Allah,” “deo volente”—precluded idle talk of earthly happiness.

Not quite. At least, not entirely.

While I’ve personally heard preachers make some arguments with various fidelity to the message as portrayed here, it is rarely so simple as this. And my own personal crusade to find meaning in things other than personal happiness has nothing to do with denying myself earthly pleasure. Anyone who knows me knows that I like to drink, laugh, eat, live, love, and generally eat up all the experiences life can hand me. I truly enjoy life and there has been no shortage of happy moments in my life. What I believe, though, and what I’ve heard preached is that putting so much importance on those transient moments leads to an empty life.

Happiness is overrated not because it’s such a bad thing in and of itself, but because the pursuit of happiness leaves people painfully short of their real potential.Those things that I have done in life that bring me the most contentment– the overwhelming sense that my time here is not being wasted– are not necessarily those things that bring me the most happiness. They are the moments where I have served others, where I have accomplished the hardest tasks, or where I have maintained the struggle even when I wanted to give up. Those are the things that have brought me the most lasting value, the strongest sense of self-fulfillment.

Mere happiness simply doesn’t compete on the same emotional plane.

What I learned in church wasn’t fatalism or some un-happiness doctrine; what I learned was that focusing on such small bites of  emotional pleasure left damned little room for reaching heights far greater.

I don’t live a miserable life and people around me tend to laugh a lot, but I’ll be damned if I let these little pleasures keep me from finding greater meaning in my life. Your mileage may vary and I don’t expect everyone to follow the path that I’ve chosen. For me, though, it is obvious that our contemporary culture has placed so much emphasis on personal, selfish, worldly happiness that it can have the effect of drowning out those better angels of our nature. Or, to say it another way, “Happiness is most definitely overrated.”

I’ve strayed a bit, of course, and the referenced article still gives an interesting discussion on the subject of quantifying the value of happiness and the science of “hedonics.” It’s an article, in fact, that starts leaning a bit toward my own views on the subject (although I’m not entirely certain that McClosky would agree).

What I know, though, is that happiness and contentment are yours to define for yourself not because anyone else has found a way to measure your most personal emotions, but because our modern, wealthy, liberal (in a not-overly-political sense) society has allowed you the opportunity to find and cherish your own path. There aren’t too many societies in our history that could give its citizens that level of self-determination.

We are blessed.