Friday, May 22, 2015

Partial Book Review of Secrets of a Buccaneer-Scholar, and Swabbing the Deck

How do you run your life? Do you push yourself, pull yourself or follow yourself?

I ran across a snappy little book yesterday during my whirlwind trip to the library that was written by a high school drop-out. He also happens to be the son of the author of the famous book Jonathon Livingston Seagull. I have not yet read it, but back in my high school and college days it was being read and discussed nearly everywhere. (note to self: Read Jonathon Livingston Seagull)

After dropping out of high school and becoming an emancipated minor, the author of Secrets of a Buccaneer-Scholar went on to teach himself computer programming and work for Apple. Timing surely had a part in his success due to the fact that in the 80's the industry was in dire need of young kids who intuitively could understand and perform programming, but this young man made a name for himself by literally taking charge of his own education.

There are many lessons to learn from his example, the first and foremost not being 'you should drop out of school immediately'. The fan site for Jonathon Livingston Seagull quotes on its cover page, "This is a story for those who follow their hearts.", and "This is a story for those who yearn to fly their own way."  Clearly, yet ironically in spite of his early emancipation, this boy managed to glean from the spirit of his father's famous work. The nugget from the book, written in a humorous pirate-buccaneering theme, that resonates for me is the admonition to "follow your energy". By this he meant that rather than force yourself into things, you should pay attention to what you're most interested in doing and let this be your guide.

As a fairly confirmed right brainer, I'd been doing this for years, but with much guilt. I've been following myself rather than pushing myself but feeling as if I really should be pushing a lot more. Sample inner conversation: 'I should make a schedule for when I mop the kitchen floor. No I'll do it when I'm ready, when I want to.' Strangely, the 'deck gets swabbed' with some regularity, even if I don't plan it. When the time is right, it happens. Midway through my 50's, I doubt I'll change this modus operandi  much. But now I've been given permission.

I haven't finished the book yet. But so far it's already delivered the finest gift a book can give, confirmation of something I already knew but couldn't put into words.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Good vs Evil

Woke up this fine morning from the middle of a dream where I was being held captive by a sadistic scientist. There was fear, anger and a question in my own mind about whether or not he'd kill me and the others that he'd entrapped in his wacky hi-tech complex where elevators turned into passageways and back into elevators that lead to other rooms. Adding to the threat of death was the question of how he'd kill us, and the very real possibility that it would involve terror and torture of some kind since he'd already given us some hints that involved animal cruelty. Survival was my sole motivation, and I hoped I'd be rescued when I strategically placed my backpack in front of a window hoping that my family would see it and know where I was.

Although waking up was the best part of this dream, I'm fascinated by what the dream gave my imagination, and what it told me about myself. You see, I've been on a fifty six year long faith journey that has certainly included ups, downs, doubt, zeal and probably a very typical American Christian mindset. The problem of evil in my personal life has been limited to the banal. In other words, I have yet to meet a real life sadistic scientist, and the possibility of being captured and held hostage by one is remote. That doesn't mean I'm a stranger to evil, just that using the term evil would be a little dramatic when describing my problems.


Unless you believe, as I do, that unseen forces of good and evil are at work everywhere. You see, everyday I fight the urge to be self absorbed, to be greedy, to be deceitful about my motives, to meditate on fear, and to let survival swallow real life as it passes through me. The pull to the dark side is real.

But, there's always a window somewhere. Just like in my dream prison, I have the sunlight of good streaming in. The choice to walk in step with evil is always a prison, but a real world of good exists brighter and bigger outside. Just like my dream, it all happens in the mind.