starving for substance

Meh

Posted in Uncategorized by starvingsteve on July 14, 2012

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything here. I think I changed blog addresses but I hate that other site. It’s fake and inauthentic.

There is one conclusion that I’ve been fighting but is unequivocally true. The corporate world has killed my soul. I thought I would be better, I thought I could dominate it through sheer force of will but I ran my face right into it and got smacked down. I’ve never done something so mindless, so pointless, so uninspiring, and so boring that the very inanity drives me to angry frustration. So much useless nitpickery and waste of human potential lies scattered amidst the wreckage of human lives. Every day I see this and every day a revulsion stirs within me that just wants to drop everything and flee.

I’m crushed into obedience by debt. I’m serving my penance.

Every day I think about the words of a creative writing professor who found himself in an architecture career he loathed. “I just have these stories that have to get out.”

I’ve taken to frantic writing nearly every day. Chicken scratch on whatever piece of paper is at hand. Thoughts, blurbs, observations, hopes, fears, frustrations, but eventually it all just devolves into constant abhorrence at the state that I find myself in. Words must come out, no matter how useless and meaningless they are. My scrawling nihilism still has more purpose than an Excel spreadsheet that serves no purpose.

The sad thing is that I found the best job I could ask to be provided with considering my education and my interests. My coworkers are good people. And yet the only thing I can say is that my soul rots. Ergo, this is not what I was meant to do.

There is no volta so commonly found in past entries. The place I find myself in the beginning is the same place I will find myself at the end. Churning, frothing, ultimately going nowhere.

I no longer consider myself “young” as the people who are moving this world are younger than me. They have no special powers or abilities yet their insight is valued. I refuse to believe that I’m any different, that there needs to be more “seasoning” before I embark on any particular undertaking. There are a number of people I blame for this but ultimately it lies on me for believing what they said. Youth is relative and there’s a good chance your opinion is unnecessary.

There is waste everywhere. I hate the superficiality of yuppies. The stupidity of the rat race. No one lives for anything. So they constantly support each other in the chase for nothing. I spent an entire tax season with Rage Against the Machine albums on repeat because that was the only way to cope…to know someone else was just as angry as I was.

To continue the rant, our economy is flawed, our government exists to support special interests, and none of this will improve at any time. The past two presidents have destroyed our relationships with the world, our current president is drone striking innocents into oblivion, and rights are slipping away under the guise of national security. So selfishly, my conclusion is that I need to hang onto this job for as long as I have debts to pay because I’ll have a hell of a time finding anything anywhere else.

Everything is wrong and George Carlin’s acerbic cynicism was spot on.

This is mainly for cathartic purposes. But also as a concrete way of promising myself that it’s do or die.

Here we go.

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Posted in Uncategorized by starvingsteve on June 9, 2012

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Posted in Uncategorized by starvingsteve on May 31, 2011

A Dog Returns to Vomit

Posted in Uncategorized by starvingsteve on March 10, 2011

Habakkuk 3:17-19
Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.
The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to tread on the heights.

“Stuff” happens.

There’s something about heuristics and platitudes that we like. It simplifies life and gives us an idea or story to attach to things that happen to us, leaving us with a supposedly better grasp of this complex world we ultimately fail to understand. In the end, that’s what we want. Understanding. For things to make sense. CNBC has made its owners extremely rich for doing just this. No one knows why the markets move up or why they move down, yet without fail, some talking head at the end of the day will explain exactly why the market did what it did. This is almost always baloney. If you think one person can explain something so complex as the reasons for movement in the world’s financial markets in less than two minutes, you are woefully mistaken. Especially when their might not even be a reason at all.

In the same vein, as we stumble about life, through each exhilarating high and devastating low, we yearn for understanding. Meaning. The more difficult the circumstances, the greater its “purpose” we expect it to have simply because we have an aversion to mindless suffering. Show a picture of a Nazi concentration camp or a dying malnourished African child and the immediate reaction is “Why?” Not that we don’t know the supposed empirical reasons for that tragedy, but we want to know what purpose it serves in the overall meaning of our existence. We seem to be programmed to crave meaning, to the point where we will attach it to things that have none (the movement of stars, for example).

Yet in this quest for meaning, we again and again run into events that leave us stumped. Christians will say that God gives meaning and that all things work for good but an Atheist shows human atrocity after atrocity and declares God dead. Meaning is left for the individual to determine for themselves, they become their own god. This is opening up a whole can of worms that I don’t wish to do on the internet, so I will merely say that this wraps up what became a long winded introduction.

The past few months and I guess year and a half in general have been pretty grueling. I got broken financially, physically, emotionally, spiritually, and it seems like the beatings don’t stop. It’s been a really rough period and I’m thankful for the people in my life that have been there for me. I know I don’t make it easy because if you’re receptive to my complaining, I just end up complaining more to you, but know that I’m thankful for you. It’s cool to have good friends.

I know I said I was done blogging here but I think there’s a couple things I learned that could be helpful to people slogging through the muck. So here we go!

Hope in the Wrong Thing Will Always Disappoint: Everything in this world we look to for happiness and security fails. Wealth, power, status, relationships, health, I haven’t tried them all but I’ve had and seen enough to start to realize how temporary these things are. As humans, we are never satisfied until we place our hope in the one thing that can satisfy us. Jesus has said that he offers living water, water from which you can drink from and never be thirsty again. When you drink from this well and go to other things you realize just how thirsty you are. The past few months have been the moment of truth for me. Do I really think a relationship with Jesus is enough? When I have no money and medical bills are quite literally flooding my mailbox, when my health is shaky (and utterly failing apparently), my job prospects are bleak, to say all I need is God seems delusional. And I guess this is where faith comes into play. If this is what I say I believe, then this is the leap I have to make. Objectively, this looks stupid. Inwardly, I have to agree. Oh ye of little faith…

Pride Kills: Humility is a bitter bitter bitter pill to swallow, and I admit I have none of it. Yet living life without humility is like running a marathon with no legs. You might finish, but holy crap will it suck. Unlike a marathon, humility isn’t exactly something you can set out to attain, it usually ends up being something beaten into you. Repeatedly. I guess by that example, learning humility is closer to rape than anything else. Horribly insensitive analogies aside, you have to be ready to learn. Unfortunately, the proud don’t think they have anything to learn. It is entirely possible for this vicious cycle to repeat ad nauseum.

Be Thankful: This is the most practical piece of advice I have ever received. Every day, be thankful. Thank God for everything you have and give your best at everything you have to do. If you’re not thankful now, you won’t be thankful later when you have _________ (whatever you want right now). Don’t be thankful because your life isn’t like ___________ (some person) in ___________ (some third world country), but be thankful because if God is who He is, then you are exactly where you need to be. No matter how much I don’t believe this, truth is truth. As an application, I started this (photo)blog for kicks and giggles.

I need to sleep now but I”ll finish this up tomorrow.

Wind it Down

Posted in Uncategorized by starvingsteve on December 31, 2010

As the year winds down I think it’s time this blog wound down. I’m starting to take baby steps in understanding how to focus on only a couple things and blogging here is not in the mix.

With another new year upon us, the rash of new year’s resolutions spreads and its accompanying feelings of failure until by February the gyms are once again empty. In undergrad, I actually stopped working out in January and returned to the gym mid-February because by then everyone had given up.

Instead of new year’s resolutions, we need new realizations. Namely, the realization and understanding that we are not perfect nor can we make ourselves so. Sure we love the mantra that its about progress and not perfection but if we do not realize the entire foundation is built on grace, then even this view is wrong. Resolutions have their purpose, yes, but resolutions for the sake of attaining an idealized view of oneself is simply idolatry of the self and shows a person’s version of a perfect world is a world without God.

And so, to prove that not all good things come to an end, I bid adieu to the starvingsteve era of my life.

Pain or the Hangover?

Posted in Uncategorized by starvingsteve on December 17, 2010

The tea I was drinking at 9pm is now making it hard to sleep so I started clicking around the right column to view some old posts and I came across some gems I’m particularly proud of.

This one is about eating too much fiber and what happens afterward:
https://starvingsteve.wordpress.com/2008/10/14/writers-bloc/

This rebuked me like crazy:
https://starvingsteve.wordpress.com/2009/03/31/hooray-for-nihilism/

And this is the best thing I have ever written:
https://starvingsteve.wordpress.com/2008/02/24/another-stupid-witty-title/

I would actually end up failing the class I wrote that for for other reasons. As I go over these entries and remember what was going on in life at those times, it’s saddening. I look at what I was going through, remember my internal condition, and read what I wrote and see virtually nothing different from what was then and what is now. The whole time I thought I was running and now I look down at my feet and see a rapidly spinning treadmill to only look up again and see myself visibly older but otherwise unchanged.

A wise old lady who prays a lot and sits in the back of a pan Asian campus church in Champaign once said that people look back at themselves and get discouraged because they don’t see any progress. When this happens we need to remember that as sinful people, change is slow and painstaking. Then she probably laughed at my Korean.

I honestly thought this wouldn’t be me. I thought I was smart and understood myself and could change myself quickly to become what I wanted to be instantly. Folly yes, but attainable is also what I thought.

The worst thing about pride is that when you see it, you don’t look at it because, well, you’re proud. The thing about pride is that you’re too proud to admit you’re proud so you never look at your pride because you’re too proud to admit that you’re proud and around and around you go, ignoring circumstances that should break and change you, convinced what you’re doing is right.

They say pride goes before a fall but how much pride do you have to have to fall and still be proud? Both staggering and depressing amounts. I seem to have both high and low pride and enough left over that I (naturally) want to name it after myself. Steve Pride. So much pride you’re convinced that pride is beneath you. Even to think I am a special case is indicative of the pride here.

So yes, thanks to blogs and journals, I can look back and see the years and see how little I’ve progressed. Now I can realize what I thought I was above. And the natural reaction is to run away. Avoid it and hope it goes away instead of confronting and dealing with it. Like I’ve always done before. As much as I bashed Kanye’s lyrical effort in his latest album, he had a clever line in a song: “The plan was to drink until the pain over/ But what’s worse, the pain or the hangover?” The problem with the quick fix is that the problem you’re left with in the end is often times worse than the problem you tried to run from. I guarantee you, wake up with a hangover the first thing you say is “I am never drinking again” followed quickly by “I just want to die” followed by very real thoughts that your head will explode. So what’s worse, the pain or the hangover? Facing your problems head on or skipping over them only to end up in agony later, with the problems you left behind still waiting for you.

The answer is obvious but it’s so often left undone. I have a whole laundry list of character flaws I just stopped bothering to deal with because I figured after enough time, they’d go away as I “grew through the situations I lived through.” It’s difficult to take a long look in the mirror and confront what you see, to go through the personal assessment and be brutally honest with yourself, and not become prideful in the process.

I remember moments being so broken when I realized what I was and now to think back at those times I cringe. I cringe to think that I saw myself like that because that’s clearly not how I see myself now. Before, I saw myself as broken and unable to do anything if not for the help of God. Now I see myself as capable and ready, not necessarily the best, but surely good enough. Of course God will use me, I have a “can do” attitude and a healthy disregard for societal norms. Doubt me? I’ll just prove you wrong. This is Steve 2.0, a better version. Why would I ever want to look at Steve 1.0 except to see how much better I am now. Yet the evidence is irrefutable, it’s written all over this site and indicts me with their cold fingers of reason and truth. “You are no better now, in fact you are worse.”

Yet that’s not the message of the Gospel. The Gospel message is that my pride is there but my pride can no longer condemn me. My flaws are ever present and always real but my flaws can no longer condemn me. And in the midst of my faults and flaws, no matter what I or others can say about me, the Gospel message soars over all with the message that Christ has set me free. That there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. So why do I continue to condemn myself? Because it feels better that I suffer a little bit before coming to repentance. Because if I suffer, then I served my penalty and I justify myself. By condemning myself and suffering if even for a moment, I show complete disregard for the message of the cross.

So the temptation remains. Every sin the Bible illuminates I’m tempted to be discouraged, to self-flagellate, but that cheapens grace and that cheapens the Gospel. If one thing I’ve learned, I do not experientially understand what it means by true Christian freedom. How does this change the future? It means I no longer have to regret the past but that I’m free to always and constantly run towards the throne of grace with boldness.

But it does not end there. I don’t think we should confuse Salvation with Redemption. We are saved to participate in the redeeming work that is still going on in this world. I think we place far too much emphasis on our daily walk with God than on our calling as a salt and light to this world. Don’t get me wrong, a daily walk with God is important and essential and necessary. But far too often we wring our hands saying “I just want to be faithful” or “I’m afraid I’ll fall away” and so in turn we respond with constant application to do our QTs and forget about purposefully and intentionally engaging the culture. If the early church was as concerned with their personal walk with God as we are, then Christianity wouldn’t have made it out of the first century. They not only walked with God but they died for Him too.

“When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die.”

It’s late so I think this is done. I changed direction like three times in this post and probably went a little too personal. I think I’m going to go back to handwritten journaling. And so, with a blog that started out wanting to be only about poop has ended up being about anything but. On hiatus again until further notice.

Cyclical

Posted in Uncategorized by starvingsteve on December 17, 2010

Reading random blog posts from the past one to two years I’ve realized three things.

1. The quality of my writing has sharply decreased since I left school.
2. I’m basically writing the same things over again, almost verbatim in some cases.
3. I actually could write well.

It’s time for change.

Experience

Posted in Uncategorized by starvingsteve on December 13, 2010

The first time I remember going to the hospital, I was maybe four or five years old. I had the brilliance to think that jumping off a table would be a fun thing to do and so I took a breath and away I went. The next memory I had was in a hospital and I still have an “X” shaped scar under my lip as a reminder of that fun little time. Shortly after I again found myself in the hospital for stitches, this time because I got hit in the head by an automatic door (I assume there to be some scar on the back of my head from that one).

And so early on began what would become a motif: ending up in hospitals for reasons that will never ever impress women. The reasons include kicking blocks of foam (broken toe), teaching swimming lessons (dislocated shoulder), swimming across a pool after swimming lessons (another shoulder), pretending I was Sam Fisher (two broken metatarsals, subsequent surgery, and a couple months spent tripping around on crutches), sitting down to take a test (seizures and a diagnosis of epilepsy that I now lie about), playing basketball (yet another shoulder), and finally getting my shoulder fixed because I was too injury prone in the first place.

More than the actual pain of the event, what’s worse is the feeling in my head something is wrong. Don’t get me wrong, lying in a dark room in the ER for two hours hallucinating from pain because the nurses forgot to give you pain medication as your shoulder muscles spasm is not fun and definitely a “10” on the scale of pain they ask you about. However, physical pain cannot produce that gut scrunching, stomach wrenching, unease that something is wrong. Unless a needle is providing me with morphine, I hate them. It’s not because they hurt, it’s my OCD-ness overreacting that there is something in me that shouldn’t be there.

Sometimes as my mind wanders I think about torture methods they use on spies and how I would fare. I think I could go with the pulling of toenails and fingernails but if they start cutting things on my body I’m pretty sure I’d sing like a bird.

That all being said, recent painful experiences have given me a few new insights on things.

Pain Sucks
There is absolutely no other way around this. Pain is terrible. Physical, mental, or emotional pain is all terrible. You always seem to minimize how bad pain is until it comes again. That’s why every time you stub your toe, you briefly think, for at least one second, that you will die.

Pain is a Constant
Not in the scientific sense nor in the emo sense. But in this lifetime, we can always count on pain. A few months ago, my grandma died. There’s still a lot of emotional baggage I simply refuse to touch after the funeral. A few weeks ago, I accidentally kicked a wall (I was reading why laying on my stomach, my foot nailed a corner, and now I have a dumb scar on my foot). Whether we like it or not, pain is always something we can count on.

Pain is Necessary
This echoes a post I had earlier about fighters and why they do it, but pain adds a feeling of significance to life. If something hurts, we want to justify it so as to make it so our suffering is not in vain. We hype up our circumstances to prove to ourselves and to others that what we’re going through is serious and worthwhile. A popular phrase among students is “I’m gonna die.” A common phrase among soldiers in Afghanistan is “I’m gonna die.” The language is the same but in the less serious circumstances, a greater weight is attached so that we can reassure ourselves that what is happening now is serious. Personally, while guilty of this, I hate it. I hate the false weight we place on insignificant things. None of the aforementioned injuries I’ve had is life threatening in any way but I’m 87% sure I could talk about them for a good few hours. Does it increase the impact of those injuries? No, but it does blow them out of proportion. So why is pain necessary even if it constantly sucks and is something we selfishly wallow in at times?

Because pain points to a future where none of this will matter in a way that comfort cannot.

Head Straight

Posted in Uncategorized by starvingsteve on December 12, 2010

You’re not a martyr, you’re not a saint.

Your situation is only as severe as you make it sound.

The Midwest is no longer young and restless, it’s cramped and stifling.

Legs are itchy, heart is longing, the present is done, the future awaits.