Crikey!

Hello, all! So firstly, I want to share with you a video:

See, this man was alive. He pushed himself, he lived a life of great and endearing passion, and he wanted to share his love for life and the animals of this world with everybody. Steve Irwin was and is one of my greatest heroes, and I miss having him around on tv. I wish I could’ve met the man.

But this post isn’t just about missing him. I believe I mentioned in one of my last posts that I have mild anxiety and deal with low self-esteem. Basically, I don’t always believe in myself, or think that I can do much to affect the world around me. I get so caught up in what I do, or don’t do, and how I perceive how other people view me based on that, I lose myself to the madness. I’ve been paralyzed by it, and there are days when I feel like I can hardly do a thing about it.

So let me pose you a question: what d’you suppose Steve Irwin would say about that? Cuz me, I think, if he were a good friend of mine, he would say, “Crikey, mate, what are you talkin’ about? Come here, look at this tortoise. She’s a right beauty, isn’t she? Look at that shell! That thing’s a whopper!” He would point out that she’s awful big and awful beautiful, she’s slow, and she doesn’t have fangs or claws or frills or speed. But he’d tell me she doesn’t need them. She’s a tortoise, and tortoises don’t need to be anything other than a tortoise.

You don’t need to be anything other than what you are. Are you a writer? A drama-geek? A nerd? An athlete? An artist? A teacher? That’s wonderful! BeĀ you, gloriously and brilliantly you! What are you passionate about? My mother, she’s discovered foreign films, and is even now learning Spanish because of it. And you know what? I love her more fiercely for it. It makes her more prodigiously her! Don’t hold back, you wonder of wonders. BeĀ you, mate.

Are you afraid? Angry? Sad? That’s ok! Life is scary, and there are things that should make you angry, and sad and even gloomy from time to time. But don’t let yourself live there. A bird doesn’t live like a bat, and you shouldn’t try to live in a cave if you’re more of a pack animal. Go forth, and be passionate! And let me clear up a little confusion about passion (least it’s confusing for me; if I was asked what I’m passionate about, I’d more likely answer nothing, because I thought having a passion is more like what are you doing with your life kind of a question): the definition for passion is ‘a strong or barely controllable emotion.’ That’s it.

What kind of things make you happy? Or, better yet, if you were to overhear someone talking about something, what subject would make you immediately want to jump in to the conversation? For me, it’s books and movies (I recently got into a long discussion with a couple because I saw a JRR Tolkien tattoo on one of them), it’s anime, it’s games (Pokemon, Bloodborne, Dark Souls, Legend of Zelda, the list goes on), it’s music (less so on that one, but it’s still there lol). It’s animals, and God and tropes and hiking. That makes me me! And that’s enough, you know?

So what kind of animal are you, mate? Are you a bird? Sing! Are you a cheetah? Run! Are you a slug? Then go and leave your slime trail for the world to see. Do what you do, and don’t worry what the other animals think of the gifts you have, the speed you move, or the brightness of your scales.

G’day, mate.

PS

God bless, Steve Irwin, and to your family and everything you stood for.

-James

I will cure you

Hey, all. Whew, been a while, hasn’t it? Wish I could say I’ve been off setting trends and making big exciting changes, but…well, that just ain’t the truth. Truth is, I’ve been stuck in a rut in my life. Fun fact: I suffer from low-grade depression, the kind you think you can deal with until you wake up one morning, too apathetic to want to do anything but roll back over and sleep. And no, if you like to do that on your days off, you’re not depressed; you’re just comfortable and screw adulting for a few hours! Ahem. Anyways!

So yeah, over the past few months I’ve been doing what has become, unfortunately, my usual: just struggling to get through the day. Just…existing. Now, me, I’ve always believed that there is a major difference between Living and existing. Living means you’re full of life, there’s that spark in your eyes and things are more than just ok. They’re fantastic! You’re in love with being alive, you know? But existing…existing is just drifting, unmoored and directionless, and the world is just…gray. Not fun, Christian Gray gray. Bleak, gray. Numb. Void. No hopes, dreams, goals or ambitions to speak of, because life has been reduced down to numbers and figures and monotony. Your spirit is crushed out of you by the slow drag, the little fears that get fed into something far worse, the heart breaking torment of sitting alone in a darkened room, wondering dully what happened to the fire in your soul. That’s been me for a good while now, and lemme tell ya, it’s just the bee’s knees.

But, cheer up! You see, when one knows the problem, one can tackle it, no? So, here’s what I did: By the grace of God, I stumbled across this website, called NerdFitness. It was set up by a glorious hero known as Steve Kamb, who has this mad idea that life can be treated like a videogame. That when, say, you run up to the store and choose to talk to a checker rather than just use a self-pay booth and head off, you get xp (experience points, for the uninitiated). Every 100 xp nets you a level, and then you get to reap the benefits of being a leveled up hero of your own life! Which, by the by, is what brings me back here: I’m trying to get back into writing, so my deal with myself right now is that 20 minutes of writing gets me 20 xp for today. And baby, it is working!

So, yes, I would highly recommend checking it out if for no other reason than it’s an interesting concept. No pressure, though šŸ˜‰ But, quite apart from talking about that, I wanted to bring up something that I just read the other day, a quote I wrote down to remind me of how important my own attitude to getting better is. Read on, boys and girls:

“Incurable diseases may on day have a cure; that is why doctors and nurses continue squeezing their brains in search of knowledge…Yet what is needed above all is the willpower of the patient. If the patient does not want to heal, it will be impossible to cure him, no matter how many doctors there are. I will cure you. I will cure you so that you can move at will. I will cure you so you may whisper your love to your wife. I will cure you so you can hold your sword once more. For that purpose, what is needed above all is for your body, your cells, to be determined to be healed. If you feel you are losing your willpower, you must cheer up. Otherwise, I’ll kill you.” -Florence Nightengale, Fate/Grand Order, via Tvtropes.org (Fate/Grand Order characters, Berserkers)

What is needed above all is the willpower of the patient. We aren’t talking grit your teeth and believe so hard you make yourself well, people. You just…have to prioritize your well-being. You have to want it. Want it bad enough to take your medicine, even when it’s awful, and change your habits, even when it sucks. And you need a why. I love where Florence says why she’ll cure her patient: so he can move. So he can whisper sweet words to his wife. So he can fight. My friends, depression cripples all of these. Fear and sadness and self-loathing take your essence from you, they beat you down and make you a whimpering dog, or so full of anger you can’t imagine living without it. You become helpless to stop it, or to do anything about it without some kind of intervention from outside of you. But here, there is hope: “I will cure you.” I will.

I believe in a God who says much the same thing. But even the Bible says that once, Jesus was in Nazareth, His hometown, where the people didn’t believe, and He couldn’t do much (Mark 6:1-6:5). You have toĀ wantĀ the healing. If you’re feelin down, cheer up! If you need to cry, vent, rage, spend hours listening to sad music or beat the stuffing out of a pillow, do it! Whatever it takes to get back on an even keel, a fresh start, do it.

I know what’s like to be beat up by life, don’t worry; been there, done that. But I shall make a gift of a secret: I still believe that life is worth the living, and that you’re worth saving! Sure, life can have some rough patches, but you know what? Those rough times make the good times better, and sticking it out gives you the ability to hold your head high. Live well, brothers and sisters. There is a cure for what ails you.

And if you found yourself wondering how Florence Nightengale was put into the same class as Hercules, I’m baffled too.

-J

Quick Update

Hullo, lovelies. So, just a quick update ’bout my blog: I now have an about page lurking in the depths of cyberspace! Unfortunately I am terrible with tech, so I’m not 100% on how to actually post a link up in the menu proper :/ Trust me, I’m not thrilled. But, it turns out you can search for it in the search engine off the widgets, so whoo. Ugh, I’m sorry for the inconvenience (if anyone’s interested in my about lol); I have never been much of a computer guy, I can tell you that right now. I love the internet and videogames and what tech can do. But boy am I bad at making it do haha. Anywho, hope this finds you well, mis amigos. Hasta luego!

Girl Power (aka Most Original Title EVER

Hey, party people! J here with a rather interesting topic to cover today. Strap yourselves in; it’s gonna be a bumpy ride B-)

So, as you may or may not know, when you load up wordpress, you get a readerboard of other blogs. Mostly ones you’re following, but even when I first started this (many moons ago…like six days, tops) I was getting feeds on blogs I’d never heard of. Anywho, today brought me this: http://ideas.ted.com/why-boys-should-read-girl-books/ which, as you can see, is about why boys should read girls books. Now, I won’t go too much into detail on the post itself, but the gist is that when boys fail to read books that have a girl’s perspective/have a female cast, they grow to lack empathy, which then leads directly into a “rape culture.” It cripples us boys emotionally, so to speak.

I’m not here to argue that point. Granted, I feel like the post fails to consider the fact that, just because a boy doesn’t want to read a book that very clearly has a female protagonist (particularly in a modern day setting, as opposed to say a magic-wielding barbarian from the land of Amtaross, or something) doesĀ not mean that he A) doesn’t respect women, B) doesn’t find women amazing, and C) has no problem thinking of a woman as tough as nails and wild as the wind. Can’t say I’ve ever gone outta my way to read novels with a primarily female cast, but hey, I sure don’t see y’all as damsels in need of saving. Women are different from men, yes, but that difference is the difference between the willow and the rock. They both endure, but one is rugged while the other is vibrant. Feminity is a totally different creature than masculinity, no less strong, but with a wholly differentĀ feel, you know?Ā  Besides, there areĀ other mediums where a girl is just as awesome as books.

Anyone here remember the Powerpuff Girls? The Legend of Korra? Ooh, who’s read Broken Sky? Seen Tengan Toppa Gurren Lagann? Or Sailor Moon? Ghost in the Shell? Anyone been terrified of Lucy in Elfen Lied? Seriously, you want awesome chicks, look up the trope Action Girl. My point is, people seem to think that girls are underrepresented in the media as strong, or interesting, or worthwhile. I disagree. I think that maybe, just maybe, people are looking in the wrong places. Cuz videogames, anime, indie movies, and cartoons sure don’t beat around the bush, man.

Me, I think that we as a culture (least here in the West, particularly the US of A) really like to dissect things, psychologically speaking, and we get so wrapped up in our theories that we really lose sight of what else could be happening. Do I think men who look down on feminity are wrong? Are they hurting themselves and anyone else they teach that poison to? Absolutely! But to say that a middle school or elementary school boy is going to have a lack of empathy because he doesn’t read a book? That paints the child as more one-dimensional and far more reliant on those books for growth and teaching than just about any boy I’ve ever known personally. Kids don’t usually read for knowledge, not in the sense of consciously deciding “I need to work on gaining more empathy and respecting the people around me.” Least I never did. Kids read for pleasure, for the excitement of the adventure of the world it takes them into. If boys don’t feel that a book featuring a girl protagonist is going to be exciting, try to dissuade them from that way of thinking, tell them some bits and pieces that might catch their interest. But don’t worry that they’re going to become some monster that can’t identify with other people just because they think it might be boring. Who knows? Maybe in a few years they’ll come around to checking it out, and it’ll blow their minds šŸ˜‰

Anywho, that’s my spiel, folks. Don’t worry too terribly much about the youth of tomorrow, who they may or may not become. It’ll be alright. They’ll find their way. We’re all in this together, and we’ve got a God that leads us in a better way. Just love yourself, love each other, and live.

It’s a beautiful day, isn’t it?

-J

Simple Truth

For those who are in a rough patch, feel free to sing along:

Jesus loves me, this I know! For the Bible tells me so! Little ones to Him belong; they are weak but He is strong!

Yes! Jesus loves me! Yes! Jesus loves me! Yes, Jesus loves me; the Bible tells me so.

Hang in there, brothers and sisters. You are well and truly loved ā¤

-J

Live & Let Live

Hey all. So this one’s a little more important to me, cuz…well, just keep reading. So, one extremely important aspect of my life is that I’m a Christian. I love God. I don’t care what anyone says, He’s good, He’s kind, and He’s got love and healing that won’t end. And if I didn’t believeĀ that,Ā boys and girls, I would have died of hopelessness a long time ago. I believe it like I believe the sun will come up tomorrow, like I believe fire will burn and water will cleanse, and books will take me to a whole new place that I could never imagine. I believe it because it justĀ is, and life doesn’t make sense without it.

Now, mind you, I’m no model of Christianity. I’m…I’m not Jesus. I can be a pretty awful human being, and I fall far short of the mark, all the time. I wish I were a better person, and a better Christian, to be honest. I feel like a pretty big screw up a lot of the time. But this post isn’t about that. I realize I’m a work in progress, and I know, with time, patience and a whole heckuva lot of trial and error and swallowing my pride, I’ll grow into the man God made me to be. But again, that’s not the focus of this post. The focus of this post is on my friends, some of the people I love most in the world, and I guess our relationships, both with one another, and more importantly, with God.

So for me, I grew up in church. Born and raised in the Foursquare church in my native Oregon. I loved it. The people from that church are like a second family to me, and we teach nothing more than the Bible. I believe that God loves you and me, that Jesus died to cleanse us of all our sins and iniquities, our faults and flaws, and that He rose again to life and is even now urging us toward that new life. Call it dopey if you want; I can understand why people would. I can see both sides of the equation, sure. But there’s just…somethingĀ that rings true. I’ve tried looking into other religions and spiritual ideas and beliefs, and none of it has that solid, tangible truth to it. It doesn’t smack of reality to me.

But how do you explain that to people? How do you tell someone that you adore a God who they can’t see or hear or feel, and expect them to believe it? /sigh/ I guess I care too much about how they see me. But in this world of Bible-thumping nutjobs and hatred-spewing zealots, I really don’t want to push folks away. But…but because I don’t want to ostracize anyone, or make somebody uncomfortable, I hold my tongue. More often than I should, really. Even with my friends.

That kills me the most, I think. It’s not just that I feel like I’m failing both GodĀ and people; it’s that I’m not…I’m not being true to myself and I’m not helping my friends. I love God! And I want my friends to be happy. And when I don’t speak up, when I don’t say, “Well, y’know, the Bible actually has the answer to all that,” I feel…I dunno. Cheap, I guess. Weak. My relationship to God is precious to me, man. And maybe that’s why I don’t wanna bring it up; like, I don’t want something that dear to me to be ridiculed.

Right, backstory. So, I’m Christian, but pretty much none of my friends are. Makes it hard sometimes, to talk about the real important stuff. You know, the “My life is falling apart!” kinda stuff. For me, I immediately go to God. But what can I say to them? If they don’t believe, how can the most important things I could say even begin to matter? And then there’s the disparities between us. They focus on this life, with making it here, being “successful” here, while I tend to take the longer view. I can see how a behavioral issue, if not addressed, will grow into a terrible problem down the road, or how a particular philosophy doesn’t jive with what God says, and how that will tear apart a friend’s life if it’s not handled. I can see what it will do to a person’sĀ heart, and the heart is the most important part in a human being. And I…/sigh/ I don’t wanna rock the boat. Because I feel like nothing I say will make a difference. Gah, I’m just a big old coward, aren’t I?

I want so desperately for my friends to come to God. I want them to experience His joy, His peace, His strength and comfort. But maybe I don’t really want it bad enough. Not if looking the fool or being ignored or being ridiculed for what I believe or whatever is enough to keep me from continuing to try. I feel so weak, hehe.

/sigh/ So, I guess that’s it for now. I want so much more for my own life, and for the lives of my friends and loved ones. I want everyone to come to God and have everything He has in store for them. Which, by the by, is waaaaay better than what the advertising and the nuts say it is. I don’t want to live and let live if it means I let someone slip through my fingers. I don’t want to let opportunities to really actually help somebody get away. Because what if my inaction leads to their hearts dying? What if my silence dooms them? Then I’m a murderer, aren’t I?

Gah, rereading this, I sound like a looney. Clap me in irons, officer. I’m a wacko. But at least the chow is nice.

-J