Bungy-jumping, blizzards, and control

Andria and I haven’t quite made it back from New Zealand.  We’ve been stranded in southern California due to a massive, midwestern blizzard.  We’re staying with some very lovely people, friends of friends in the area.  I’ve gotta say, if you’re going to get stuck somewhere due to bad weather, getting stuck in southern California is probably the best option.  We just read a report of Chicagoans who were actually stuck last night in their cars, on Lake Shore Drive.  The wind must have been horrific.  For the upteenth time I am again humbled by the raw and awesome and unrestrained power of this world.  It is only matched by the raw and awesome and unrestrained power of God.

Nearly two weeks ago, I went bungy jumping in Queenstown. The physical shock to my body of being suddenly very unable to control my circumstances was very transformative and empowering. I had thought it would be a way to practice facing my fear and pushing through it, then surviving, but it turned out to be more about recognizing that I ultimately have no real way to prevent that which is inevitable, be that death, be that the coming reign of God. And for people of privilege, and I have much, there is scarcely anything more undoing than being confronted with the reality that our illusions about “power,” “control,” and “safety” is but shifting sand as time marches on.

Bungy jumping is just one way – albeit bourgeois, completely safe, and manufactured – to experience total powerlessness. This storm in Chicago and elsewhere, causing people to experience helplessness in their cars for twelve hours at a time, is obviously much more dire. But the central confrontation with helplessness is the same. The recognition of not being able to control our circumstances may come a lot more suddenly and easily when you’re plummeting off a bridge or freezing in your car, but it is true even at times of much more calm. One way or another, we are inching ever-forward in our lives, aging one day at time, as if on a very slow moving conveyor belt. We have exactly zero capacity to control this process. Yet, how much of the crap in our lives is devoted to the illusion that this steady march is in fact under our control, even reversible?

Whether we must march on, day by day, is not under our control. But how we do so, is. We will do well to surrender to the inevitable and embrace that which is indeed within our locus of control within every moment of every day: our choices.

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Um, thanks…I think…

I write like
Dan Brown

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

…according to this website I blog like the Da Vinci Code guy. :/

Testing, testing…

…is this thing on? Not for a while, it hasn’t been. To my four readers: sorry about that. I’ll get back on it this week.

Maybe it happened like this…

God:  Ah…ahh….ahhhh…ATCHOOOO!

Tom:  Here I am, Lord!  Send me!

God:  …Wha?…

Tom:  (beaming)

God:  (rolls eyes)

…and then I went to seminary.  FIN

What's wrong with this picture?

I get email from crazy right-wing organizations:

Here is the last call to stand with us and proclaim to our communities that Christmas is not just a winter holiday focused on materialism, but a “holy day” when we celebrate the birth of our Savior. We can do it in a gentle and effective way by wearing the “God’s Gift – Merry Christmas” button. Don’t wait! Place your order by December 1 to receive it before Christmas.

Get that? Christmas is NOT about materialism. So buy our crap!

Dear readers,

Just wanted to say that, despite that I haven’t written in ages, I appreciate both all four five(!) of you.  Sorry for neglecting to post anything lately.  That’s rather silly of me.

Peace,
Tom

And now, for something completely different…

While teaching kids with learning disabilities in Las Vegas, I became convinced of the tremendous power of music as a learning aid. Students who had difficulty with rote memorization seemed especially to benefit from musical mnemonic devices.

My process for teaching kids to easily compute multiplication facts is simple and twofold:

  1. Teach kids how to skip-count (count by multiples)
  2. Teach kids how to multiply using skip-counting

In order to teach my kids how to skip-count, I created several funky songs to that end.  They may be listened to, downloaded and shared freely*:  Skip-counting songs

And here is my method for teaching the songs and how to multiply using skip-counting:  Instructions (pdf)

I will periodically add more songs, so stay ‘tuned’ (Har!).

*provided you don’t turn around and sell them, etc.  Full terms of the license found here.