Bury My Digital Remains in a Yurt in Big Sur

   Mix Tape 1Sometimes I miss my old life.   For some of us, born before the millennium, we miss the old way:

The Analog Way

     It’s true. I miss buttons that lock into position, volume dials that go from silent to ear-splitting loud. I miss big beast cars with loud hemis and stick shifts and without a trace of a menu screen anywhere. I miss TVs in wood cabinets with rabbit ears and UHF and VHF possibilities.   I even almost miss the days when I had an 8-track cassette player and Charlie Rich used to sing “And when we get behind”…..and then it would choke and gurgle, only to finish up with “closed doors” once the song changed in the middle of the track.

Billy Sprague, owner of Sanity Muffin in Oakland, CA says cassette tapes are poised to make a comeback! The hiss and flat tones are part of the “auditory experience” that makes cassettes a superior source of acoustical sound. Well A to the Men brother!

Yes, those of us over 40 remember the thrill of “just push PLAY”, a delightful little analog button with its accompanying crisp click-lock when pressed.   We didn’t just hear music; we felt it with our fingers. Sometimes we even untangled it with our pencils and our fingers, as if vengeful car stereos could scold us for our choice in boyfriends. If and when the music sucked, well we obliviously chucked it out into the pristine environment from our stick shift cars allowing some other sucker the possibility of finding an abandoned treasure.

Another musician just released a demo cassette that his band recorded in a yurt in Big Sur. With that revelation, I immediately Google Image-searched “Big Sur Yurts”.   If you don’t know what a yurt is, well Google it now, because this is where we will all live, if America really does become a Socialist “utopia” or when we all have a collective “nervy B” from all this technology, but I digress.

I’m almost 50; I’m in the middle of the road, in the middle of my life. I use all things digital and it eats up more of my time than I actually even possess. Which actually begs the question, well how does she even do it? I don’t know. Same way everyone else does it. Only everyone else it seems, does even more, even faster than I do.

Why nearly everyone knows how to use Macs, PCs, IPAD, IPODS, laptops, smartphones, DVRs, GPS, programmable appliances, and a variety of even more devices they can control, all from apps on their smartphones. We can secure our home, monitor our dog at day camp, balance our stock portfolios, digitally enhance our pictures via Instagram to make it look Polaroid Retro, blog our opinions, post endless selfies, and stack our digital lives in neat little terabytes both in the cloud and on terra firma here on earth.

But something is missing. We communicate our every thought, opinion, and question with our fingers– tap tap tap– a million times a day. We’re too busy and too shy to talk in person now. We digitize our experience, but do we remember it? And what about the contents of our digital lives? What’s going to happen when we die?

If you think you’ve got it bad because you have yet to organize your parents’ shoe boxes full of Polaroid pictures and yellow-green fading pictures of your childhood, how much more complex will it be for our kids who will receive…..

What exactly? Our 19th and 20th generation phones? Memory cards? DVDs? Thumb drives? Hard drives? Our last used laptop? Our Facebook account? Ancient VHS tapes chock full of family memories?

What if their current operating system is incompatible?

What if our video tapes and DVDs have a close encounter with magnets, or extreme thermal instability?

What if our password changes 456 times since originally revealing it to your children, if you even did at all.

What if an EMP blows up our entire digital existence before we get a chance to get digitally organized?

Ah! The joys of too many choices.   If only our lives resembled the sleek, crisp, minimalist organization of a Macbook Pro. If our homes could actually look like an Apple store. If only we had a time capsule in our own life, where we could just go back to any moment in time, freeze it, and leave it there.   But no, as Steve Miller so adequately prophesied to the mellow stoners of the 1970s, “time keeps on slipping into the future.”

In an attempt to streamline, we’re given more choices than we have time to implement.

Something has to give. We’re not going to be able to learn it all, do it all, save it all, and organize it all. If all we leave are digital remains and memories, then we’re not leaving much at all. We may as well leave nothing. And besides, one little glitch, well, that’s what we’ll be leaving anyway.

As for me? Perhaps I’ll leave my digital remains in a yurt in Big Sur for a really smart future geek to discover and decode.

I think the Sanity Muffin dude and his friends have it right. We need to cozy up in our yurts with our groovy loved ones, pop in a favorite cassette, turn on the lava lamp, light some incense, and just be with each other. No pictures. No phones.  Just two people staring up on a starry starry night, thoughts lost in a semi-ignorant haze, as we dream about, but skip the obsessing part about our unknown futures.

For info. on cassette comebacks see:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E9TccPAgvU0

For info. on Billy Sprague of Sanity Muffin:  http://www.sanitymuffin.com/

For info. on Yurts of Big Sur:  http://www.treebonesresort.com/

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The Big Bang Theory — According to Liz

Big Bang Psalm 8.3 and 4      Once upon a time in my life, a big crisis came.  BANG!   It was big.  How big?   Big enough to rock my world, and tilt my universe.

But you know what?  It didn’t kill me.  Though I thought it might.  It certainly had the potential to.  I thought I didn’t have the strength to go one more day.  But the next day, the sun rose again, and my feet found the floor and moved forward.

I didn’t think I could handle it.  And I was right.  In my own strength, I couldn’t.  I didn’t.  And I’m not.  But with God, all things are possible! (Matthew 19:26) That’s what’s engraved in the cross around my neck, and even more it’s invisibly etched in my heart; it’s the fiber of who I am.

See when you experience your BIG BANG moment, chances are it’s going to be one of those things that makes you question everything:

  •       Why did this happen to me? Our family?  The person I love?
  •       If God is good, why didn’t He PREVENT this?  Or FIX it?
  •       Or for God’s sake, allow me (us) to AVOID it all together?

I’ll tell you why.  Because none of us are spared.  In this world, you will have troubles…..

   You know it all too well.  If you’ve suffered, you know John 16:33 by heart by now.

We don’t get out of life without our share of sorrow or suffering.   We also don’t get out of life ALIVE.   It’s true.  We have to make our peace that we are but a blip on the timeline known as eternity.  And in so accepting, making peace with the question:

Okay then, what does it all mean?  What’s the point of anything in life?

You have to find the answers.   In the midst of the worst struggle—the most aggressive cancer or disease you are sentenced to live with, the scariest nightmare realized, the worse fear come true, or the harshest experience ever endured,  you have to CHOOSE: 

       If I never get the WHY of my questions answered, then how do I incorporate this into my life without being bulldozed by it?  How can I choose my suffering so that I can thrive, not just survive?

Everybody is different.  But for me, well a little time on the carpet, the vinyl, the place where the dust bunnies frolic is the best place to start.  On my knees.  Looking up.  Reaching out.  Trusting.  Hoping.  Knowing that to be true, which I can neither see or prove:

That there is a God.  And He really is faithful, involved in this, grieved by this, moved by this, working on this behind the scenes,and loving each of us thru this in so many tangible ways:

  • The prayers of others
  • The kindness of friends and strangers
  • The peace that sometimes comes and surpasses understanding

The wisdom to know that when fear creeps in, He is bigger than all of this and returns  the moment I ask for Him to.

      I took a picture of the moon tonight.  At first glance it was just a white dot in a black background.  I shot it from multiple exposure values: aperture sizes (determines the amount of light let into the lens), and shutter speeds (how long the shutter remains open).  You know what?  Despite subtle differences, the pictures looked pretty much the same.  Dull.  Listless.

But once I opened it up in my favorite photo editing app appropriately named LightRoom, I pulled the lever labeled “Clarity” over to the right about 100% to be exact.  And voila!  Stars appeared.  Stars I didn’t even see with my naked eye when I originally took the picture.  I zoomed in on the moon to enlarge it a bit.  More detail popped out, though somewhat hazy still to my eye.   You see I am limited by the lens through which I view all this.  Not just my camera lens, but also my human optical lens.

   Life is like that.  We see our circumstances through the lens of our own understanding.  And thus we are born into a life of pain.  We sometimes don’t get to see the diamond that is being cut out of the roughness of our life.   But God, with his infinite all-seeing eye, who created the moon, the stars, the earth, all the solar systems, and the entire universe, can always see all these details that we can’t.

We feel bitter tears slip from our eyes, but He only sees stars.  It is here, He best sees into us; He looks deep into the windows of our soul, and plants a new vision.  During our trials, is where God best plants the vision of hope, endurance, peace, and someday—joy.

       Life, like photography is about perspective.  It’s about vision.  It’s also about clarity.   There’s contrast involved—we can’t know light (goodness) if we don’t have darkness (evil) to compare it with.   We see our life thru a macro lens, up close and personal.  But God sees our lives (the big picture) from a wide angle lens that makes the Gran Telescopio Canarias (it has an aperture of a whopping 409 inches!) seems like the width of a gnat.  He also can see very detail up close, as if using an electron microscope, seeing the detail of our cells not even a billionth of a meter wide.    He can see every speck of us—perfectly.  And He can see within us, what others can’t and sometimes what even we can’t see in ourselves:  Our hurts, our dreams, our fears, our desires, our hopes, our passions, our purpose, and most of all:  our potential.

Sooner or later in life you may have one of those cataclysmic events that can only be described as The Big Bang.  The rest of the world hums merrily along unaware that you nearly lost your hearing, your vision, your sanity, and quite possibly your life as this cosmic collision internally implodes in your life.

But hold fast.  Trust in a God big enough to swallow your fears and your doubts.  Through applied pressure, extreme heat, and gravitational pull, know that God is forging something, better, refined, and new.   He ordered the universe outside of you; He can certainly order, rearrange, or repair if necessary,  the micro verse within you.   Wait upon Him.     Something beautiful is being made from all this.  Trust in Him to reveal it all at exactly the right time.

BANG BANG!  Now pray!

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33 (NIV)

“Experience is not what happens to you. It is what you do with what happens to you. Don’t waste your pain; use it to help others.”   Rick Warren – “The Purpose Driven Life:  What on Earth Am I Here For?”

I Woke Up Channeling Woody Allen

Anxiety.  We all feel it sometimes.  The big questions in life plague us:  Why am I here?  Why did this happen?  What’s wrong with me?  Why am I feeling like this today?  Why can’t I just get happy?  How in the world do I solve this?  No biggie; just a momentary existential crisis; it will probably pass—or will it?

I’m no psychiatrist, just another person like you on the journey of life who tries to maintain some control and mental sanity.    It’s hard though.  There are so many things we have to navigate through—daily, and hardest of all simultaneously!

  • Relationships with spouse, parents, children, co-workers
  • Stress of job demands
  • Stress of finances
  • Prioritizing responsibilities—what can I reasonably accomplish today?
  • Health concerns
  • Spiritual dilemmas

As Madame Morrible states in the Broadway musical, Wicked, it’s easy to feel a bit despondiary.  That’s because life can all be so confusifying!  We deal with more and more situations and our feelings towards them with each passing day.  We quickly learn our sands of time will run out much faster than reaching the solutions to all that ail us.   Utopia doesn’t exist and nirvana rarely lasts more than a few minutes, a day at best, depending on what floats your boat.

Do you ever wake up feeling like Woody with the weight of the world on your shoulders?   Wanting to be a pacifist in a world that demands you stand up and fight?  Lamenting relationships that are far from perfect with those you love the most?  How do you come to terms with your youth fleeting and the possibility of your life ending?  What about the dreams you didn’t fulfill yet?  What if you haven’t even clarified to yourself what your dreams even are?  What if your time runs out?

Like Woody, we can get stuck in “analysis paralysis” and suddenly our feet feel like they are planted in cement, and our decision process feels about as stable as a ball trying to find 37 on a roulette wheel.  We keep spinning, the world keeps on turning, but are we getting anywhere?

Yes, like Woody so candidly and humorously often illustrates in his movies, it’s easy to feel like this on a given day:

  • Agorophobia – Fear of heights
  • Atelophobic—Fear of being imperfect
  • Autophobia – Fear of being alone
  • Cacophobia – Fear of ugliness  (also related:  Catoptrophobia – Fear of mirrors)
  • Claustrophobia – Fear of confined spaces
  • Hypochondria – Fear of illness
  • Nyctophobia – Fear of the dark
  • Obesophobia – Fear of gaining weight
  • Sociophobia – Fear of social evaluation
  • Technophobia – Fear of technology
  • Xenophobia – Fear of strangers or foreigners

Don’t laugh!  There’s tons of phobias!  You may even have some of these:

  • Barophobi – Fear of gravity
  • Coulrophobia – Fear of clowns
  • Ephebiphobia – Fear of teenagers
  • Porphyrophobia – Fear of the color purple
  • Selenophobia – Fear of the moon

We’re afraid to fail in life, and sometimes we’re even more afraid to succeed.  We spend too much time thinking about what we could have/should have done when thinking about the past as well as too much time thinking about what if related to the future.

So?  What to do?  Rush to the doctor and get a frontal lobotomy?  Even if you’re not iatrophobic (afraid of doctors), you already know you can’t stop your thinking process.     People can spend many hours and dollars trying to get to the bottom of what’s in their head.

I’m not convinced it can be done.  I’m not sure we were designed to have all the answers.    That’s why people with pedigrees have never impressed me that much.  Yes, I’m amazed at what people specialize in as a profession, but in their personal lives, they are sometimes messier than less educated people.  Sometimes a little bit of ignorance can be bliss.

Is there a way to move past thinking so much about things, and instead start doing things?

I’m convinced the answer is yes—sort of!  We can’t eliminate that which bothers us or we don’t understand entirely.  Instead we have to embrace it.  Can you let your doubts sit beside your knowledge and what you have faith in, until they decide to get up and leave?

The realm of psychology and faith and science all claim to have answers and infinite books to explain.   Only you know what works for you, but I’m convinced the mind grows on what you feed it!  So feed it well!    These things don’t work perfectly, but the more you combine them, the more likely life can improve.

  • Run!  (Walk, swim, or any form of physical exercise) – NOT AN OPTION in life!  Hormones, weight, and especially thoughts come into balance and focus when we exercise!
  • Eat Healthier – You know this.  More veggies, fruits, less processed food, less fat and sugar, healthy protein choices.  It’s true you are what you eat.  I find if I eat according to what I believe, I have more peace and don’t feel as guilty about my choices.  For everyone that’s different, but start eating with awareness of your beliefs regarding food.
  • Sleep!  Oh, it sounds so simple.  But trying to establish a regular bedtime and adequate sleep time is essential.  Everyone is different.  Not enough you’ll be a bear.  But I find, if I get too much, I’m a bear.  I want so much out of life, and I find I can be optimally happy with about 5-6 hours IF I’m eating, exercising, and utilizing my faith simultaneously.
  • Find something to do that you love!  Hobbies or things that give you joy are as essential as oxygen!  For me reading a great book, falling into the sound of music that I love restores my soul.  Do not rob yourself of finding something you love.  Make time to do it!  Schedule it!
  • Find Faith.  Life is long; trying to exist only on reason can be complicated indeed.  I’m not knocking people that do, I’m just saying for me, and many people, too much in life is mysterious, and if I had to have a concrete explanation for it all, I would go out of my mind.  But faith is a verb, it doesn’t work well, if you simply want it to exist in your head.  You have to put it in action,otherwise it’s just a bunch of words.
  • Identify and eliminate the toxins in your life.  You already know if you drink, smoke, or put other toxins in your body too much.  So I won’t lecture you!  Know the difference between moderate and abuse is all I’m saying.  Know whether or not you’d be better off if you totally abstained.  Enjoyment and enslavement are too different things.
  • Equally important:  Learn to eliminate toxic people!  Walk away from an argument.  You don’t have to prove you are right.  You only have to have peace with who you are, you don’t have to change others to think like you do.  If you are exercising faith, this becomes easier because you don’t have to figure other people out or fix them, only you.
  • Accept life on life’s terms not yours.  We all die.  We all suffer.  We all lose sometimes.  Life is not fair.   Once you can accept that, and move past having to know why, you can focus on how you can LIVE your life now without wasting precious energy and thoughts on that which can’t be explained.
  • Be thankful and loving!  It’s true, if you can wake up and first thing focus on all there is that is right in your life and the world, it sets the perspective for how you will go out and view the world today.  Treat others with kindness and a loving heart.

No one is perfect and no one is completely without fear at all times.  Embrace your fears, but don’t let them define you.

Love yourself enough to embrace life, and make right choices until they become habit!

And finally, a lesson from Woody:  Lighten up and learn to laugh at yourself!

From Love and Death – A scene with Woody Allen and Diane Keaton:

Boris: Murder’s immoral.
Sonja: Immorality is subjective.
Boris: Yes, but subjectivity is objective.
Sonja: Not in any rational scheme of perception.
Boris: Perception is irrational. It implies imminence.
Sonja: But judgment of any system of phenomena exists in any rational, metaphysical or epistemological contradiction to an abstracted empirical concept such as being, or to be, or to occur in the thing itself, or of the thing itself.

Boris:  … Yeah, I’ve said that many times.

Sonja:  Boris, we must be believe in God!

Boris:   If I could just see a miracle.  Just one miracle!  A burning bush, or the seas part, or my Uncle Sasha pick up the check!

Scene from Love and Death: