The first time I watched Cosmos – 28/28

I picked up at a garage sale the television series The Cosmos starring Carl Sagan a few years ago. It was my first viewing of something featuring him. I knew a little about him from his movie Contact and a bit about him from his book Pale Blue Dot. Yet as I viewed that show, and learning about the universe around us, my brain exploded on more than one occasion.

***

I will say that as a follower of Christ science is not incompatible with what we know about the observed universe. I for one don’t believe in a literal 6 day creation nor do I believe in a young earth, which is why I winced at times during the so-called “debate” of Ham vs. Nye. I think that there are some followers of Christ who see an incompatibility with science because they want to make the Bible out to be something bigger than what it is, and as I tell my youth ministry students there’s black and white in the Bible but there is a LOT of grey. But back to Carl Sagan and The Cosmos…

It was fascinating to me to find out where we’ve come as far as technology and how to some extent our predecessors were spot on with their understanding of astronomy. Nowadays we have the big guns, the Hubble telescopes that are going further and further out exploring our universe at large. I wept several times when I watched the show; the magnitude of what we already know about the universe, and how much more has yet to be discover is phenomenal and mind-blowing.

I am one to believe that the universe is infinite in size, that we as a human race will never run into a celestial wall and have to go back to whence we came. I also believe in an infinite God, a God who loves ALL of humanity and not just a certain group of individuals who love him back.

As Carl Sagan put it; “if you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe” because even if we’re going out into the expanse of space to see the bigness that is out there, there is the bigness in everyday life. Atoms and how they interact with each other, other items that can be found solely on the cellular level, how they all go about doing their own thing in a uniform and complex way. It’s freaking amazing at how amazing everything is around us when we start exploring and start letting it engulf our senses and our whetted appetites for what’s bigger than ourselves. We as a human race will keep on exploring the universe around us, and to think that someday we will surpass what Carl Sagan talked about in The Cosmos is in and of itself also mind blowing.

Onward and upward,
Nathanael

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I like to think of myself as Dr. House – 27/28

And not for the witty banter, the snarky comments, the horrible bedside manner, or faking an American accent…

Doctor Gregory House is my [work] alter ego because I push for a client-centric approach paired with natural consequences every step of the way. In my line of work there’s a lot of mollycoddling and pandering, and I recognize when those in my care have had enough and either 1) stop responding to what’s being asked of them or 2) it starts a quibble, or perhaps even a power struggle.

I’ve mentioned before that I give it straight no chaser, but also I actively listen; I listen to what’s being said right then and there, what’s being said by way of non-verbal communication, but I also piece together what I know about particular types of mental illnesses. Some of those I work with have shared A LOT of what living with a mental illness is like, I have insight to things that probably could never be learned in a class or by reading a book, real first-person accounts. It’s because of this I’m able to write up very detailed case notes into the lives of those I work with, and if anyone were to ask “how did you find out?” I’d say “I listened”.

Now back to Dr. House; If you’re familiar with the show you might see him as a brash cocky SOB, a guy fueled on Vicodin and ego, but if you watch the show (and preferably to completion like I have, twice!) you realize that he’s human just like the rest of us. He has his breaking points, but he has tender points where the greatest elements of humanity shine through his cracks. Cracks as elegantly and accurately pointed out by Leonard Cohen; “There is a crack, a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.” Dr. House has a lot of cracks, but he intentionally means well and his story is an ever developing story of redemption.

I don’t get it right with those I work with all the time, I have my good days and I have my bad, and yet I let my cracks shine through. I was taught to disclose what I feel comfortable with on a professional level with those I work with. Subsequently in a healthy/professional way I have let my cracks let light shine through, and instead of keeping where I have done wrong by those I work with to myself I own up and apologize where needed be.

~Nathanael~

Camping in the rain sucks – 26/28

Back in 1996 I was in Boy Scouts, and during that summer I made my way up to Wisconsin with my Boy Scout troop to a camp called Freeland Leslie. It was a good summer camp, plenty of fun Boy Scout related activities and a canteen that sold us sour candy and Mountain Dew by the boatload.
Yet while we were out there, it rained; to say that it rained a lot was an understatement and interestingly enough while we had a lot of rain Aurora (where most of us were from) had a rain storm that produced 16.91 inches of rain in a 24 hour period. The 2nd highest 24 hour rainfall in the nationโ€™s history, outside of hurricanes.

My tent unfortunately had a leak from the side and on top which became more and more evident as the night continued. I felt naked and lost in the heavy downpour, I was up most of the night and I was wet to the bone. I couldn’t leave my tent in the thick of it, because where was I to go? Sure I could’ve gone knocking tent-to-tent to gimme shelter, but I didn’t. It put a damper on things, but eventually the sun came up and warmed us up again and camp life returned to some resemblance of normal.

I’m glad that wasn’t the model for future Boy Scout summer camps for me. That was probably the worst weather-related camping experience with my Boy Scout troop, it got better from there. ๐Ÿ™‚

~Nathanael~

I’m on the fence with social media – 25/28

I am on the fence when it comes to social media; yes I have a Facebook account, I have a Twitter account, an Instagram account, a WordPress account, a LinkedIn profile, and a Tumblr account as well.

It does help me stay in contact with friends, heck it even reminds me when their birthdays are coming up, but still I’m not sold on it completely. Well I’ll put it like this; when social media replaces possible face-to-face time, that is where disconnect has ultimately taken its toll. My bestie Mark and I communicate a lot via Facebook but ultimately we come together to hang out and communicate in real life.
Because we are so well connected there are usually few gaps into filling in the other with what’s going on, but still I’ve kind of backed away from pulling out my laptop asap when hanging out with him. Sure it does get to that point where he does his thing and I do mine, but we can usually go 2-3 hours of chatting without being distracted by our technology.

***

Social media’s a good place to begin, but it’s best you don’t end it there. There’s a big beautiful world out there teeming with potential, and then there’s this:

~Nathanael~

The longest pause in time – 24/28

I am a big fan of love. Whether it’s the little boy who unabashedly kisses his ‘girlfriend’, the “I like you, let’s be friends” moments between little kids when they’re not bogged down by life’s pressures that settles in with life, and the old couple who smile at each other and hold hands and it is through this communication that their love speaks louder than their words.


But truth to be told, I don’t believe in “falling in love”; “falling in love” provides the opportunity to fall out of love as well, and love is more than just chemical reactionsย  happening and bonding mutually with someone. It’s a posture, a commitment to the other person that when the going gets tough you’re not going to bail on them or give up on them.

I’ve only been in one such committed relationship like this in my lifetime. And while that relationship has come and gone I am not jaded or cynical by it. I am not someone who dismisses that what she and I had for a season was fraudulent, that while we expressed love in our words and in our tangible expressions it was REAL but it was utter bullshit when it came to an end. It was love through and through, and I guess with that mindset that’s why I am still looking and praying for a girl to share life with me. I know it could have ruined me, it did for a season but I have made peace with that closed chapter in my life.

***

Here’s the thing about me and women; I might have 3 sisters, I might be the only guy in the family, but translating girl-to-English is a hard task. I am oblivious to subtle flirting, I am one to “get it” after the fact sometimes.

***

The girl I dated was a friend of mine whom I met through MySpace (yes I might be revealing how old I am and/or how much of my life time I’ve spent online). We kicked it off as friends online, and we did even better as friends offline. She liked me more than I allowed myself to like her from the start, and she hinted via blogging what she thought about me. I “got it” then and there, so I asked her to be my girlfriend and she said yes. We hung out like usual, but more often.
Yet the turning point in our relationship was our first St. Valentine’s Day together; I prepared a home cooked meal for her, got her flowers, chocolates, the whole 9 yards. It wrapped up and I told her those 3 words that opens up someone to so much good and so much possible hurt…”I love you”

It was bold of me to say it, an entire universe came to be in the few seconds of pause, I started doubting myself and mentally kicking myself… But then she said; “I love you too”.

๐Ÿ™‚

Young nervous Nathanael became giddy confident Nathanael. So started the first time I loved someone for who they were; no I-love-you-asterisk but true honest love. It was the start of something good, and it came to an end eventually, but still it has never left me wanting to give up on love and loving.
A recent drawing of mine captures one of main thoughts about love:

“Perfect love casts out fear”

If you have that security that comes with love as it was meant to be, there is no darkness if love has cast it out. All is revealed, there are no shadows, there are no traces of impropriety, all is known for better or worse and it isn’t used against the other. I like to say “here I am, warts and all” when I’ve gotten to a place in my relationship with friends where we dive into the deep end of transparency and communication with one another. Yes, some people in my life can’t handle such honesty, but it’s the only way I can conduct my life. Blogging isn’t my heart on my sleeve, yes you the reader get a snippet of who I am, but if y’all could break bread with me or go get coffee you’d get more than you bargained for. ๐Ÿ˜‰

So while not in love with my June* at this time, I have love to give and love to receive. It’s a difficult journey sometimes because I want to come home to share my life with, and that’s not where I am at this time. All in due time, praying and looking all the while.

(Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash’s story is one of my favorites, so my term of affection for “her” is June.)

~Nathanael~

There are things I don’t understand, and I’m okay with that – 23/28

I consider myself intelligent in a broad variety of subjects, and I do what I can to learn from the school of life on a day-to-day basis but there are some things I don’t understand and I’m okay with that.

I used to think that when it came to my belief system it was about having all the answers, which is why whenever I’d play “Bible baseball” at AWANA, the only time I wasn’t beaten the shit out of by my peers was when people wanted me on their team because I would ask for the triple or home run questions. I knew the answers, I knew the songs, I knew the framework of the do’s and don’ts within the Christian culture I was in, and I thought that was life of a Christian.

Yet in my early 20s I started wrestling with my beliefs and I gave myself room to doubt the nature of God and even to some extent doubt God’s existence. I asked the “if God is good why are there those who suffer in the world” question and related, and found answers to some but not all of my questions. In my journeys of learning about God I recognize that there are things I don’t have answers for and I have peace with not knowing.

It’s not apathy, it’s not me tossing in the towel because I can’t come to a conclusion, it comes from a place that there aren’t always answers to our questions. Being human should mean asking questions, and with that people want answers to their questions; I see this plain as day with the junior higher students I work with at my church to those I work with at work, answers give us the potential to have a better grasp about something going on in life. A lack of answers can mean a lack of security. I acknowledge good questions and do what I can to answer them, I also acknowledge the fact that some questions don’t have answers much to the chagrin of others sometimes. It can be messy and it can be scary to not have answers, but such is life sometimes and we need to collectively be able to live with that.
It is a tall order to live answerless but it doesn’t diminish our humanity, as it points out our fragility and our temporal natures. We are all human, we all screw up, we all have bad days in our own and collective ways as much as we have good days in our own and collective ways. Where we lack sometimes can be remedied by the company we keep; my problem’s might not be the same as my friend, but where he or she helps me so in some way I can help or she as well, this is the we-ness of humanity.

I will keep asking questions and I will keep answering questions where I can, but for what I don’t know I will smile and acknowledge my unknowing. ๐Ÿ™‚

~Nathanael~

The time I went to test drive Lamborghinis – 22/28

Well it happened. I got invited to test drive the Lamborghini Veneno:

as well as the Veneno Roadster:

Two gorgeous if-you’re-asking-the-cost-you-can’t-afford-it supercars put out by Lamborghini. They wanted me to test drive them and give them feedback, both on the road, the track, and the Autobahn. It just so happened that I submitted an essay for non-Lamborghini owners as to why I like this brand, and I won! They flew me out to Sant’Agata Bolognese Italy first class, set me up in a nice hotel and then it was down to business.

I liked the Veneno more than the roadster because of the rigidity that came with have a roof over my head. I floored it and it was more than responsive! It gave what I had to offer and then some. Given that the top speed is in the ballpark of 220mph, they set me up with some high speed tips and tricks from none other than Valentino Balboni who was around for such an occasion. It was encouraging to work with a guy who started off as a mechanic apprentice and worked up to being the test driver of Lamborghini.

It was a fun 2 weeks out at Lamborghini HQ. With every passing hour spent behind the wheel I became more and more confident as a fast but safe driver. It was a shame when it came to the end, not because of this entire experience in and of itself, but rather that it was only a dream.

๐Ÿ˜ฆ Dang blazes!

~Nathanael~