If You Wanted To, You Would…

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Ray Edwards is a copywriter/blogger/podcaster/etc. who coaches/challenges/encourages/etc. wannabes to get started/get better/get busy/etc. His recent blog post – a pitch for Scrivener – included this story…

Once upon a time, I loved the writing tools more than the writing itself. I loved to talk about writing, to speculate about writing, and to collect writing pens, writing paper, and writing software. One day, when I was complaining about not having time to actually write, my wife asked me, “Why does it bother you?”

“Because I want to write,” I said. I am certain it came out in an exasperated tone.

“No you don’t,” she said. “If you wanted to write, you would write.”

Ouch.

Ouch, indeed.

If we say we want to do something – whatever it is – and we keep looking for excuses not to do it, it may be time to question whether we are telling ourselves and others the truth.

I know I keep coming back to this space and moaning and whining about wanting to write, only to keep putting it off.

I don’t have time.

I’m not good enough.

No one wants to read it.

I don’t know enough. 

I haven’t found the right tools.

I’ve used every excuse imaginable. And some unimaginable ones, too. I see people who I never imagined being real writers knocking it out on a regular basis. They can do it. Why can’t I?

I keep coming back to Ray Edwards’s wife’s “ouch” moment…

If you wanted to, you would.

The stark truth is not that I can’t, but that I don’t.

I have a birthday this week. I can’t think of a better time to focus on some intentions that have gotten off track.

What do you say you want to do, but aren’t doing? Why not? What would it take for you to get back on track? What’s stopping you? What’s stopping me?

Disclaimers…

Image: Peter Rukavina, https://flic.kr/p/4H9gCb

Image: Peter Rukavina, https://flic.kr/p/4H9gCb

I’m kicking around a blog post (I know…gasp!) on race, what we can and should learn from the happenings in Missouri, and our response, and I realized I need at least 13 disclaimers just to set up the post. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.

You didn’t ask, and you’ll probably roll your eyes, shake your head, shrug, and say, “Who cares?” But here’s the list of disclaimers so far, in no particular order of importance…

  • I’m a white, middle-aged, Southern man.
  • I’m conservative (in the classic sense, not the current media caricature) in my political thought, leaning hard toward libertarianism.
  • I’m not a conscious “racist,” although my standard, throwaway line is: “I’m pretty convinced the HUMAN RACE is superior to all others on the planet.”
  •  I’m a Christ-follower, a Jesus-apprentice. Not a very good one most of the time, but I try.
  • I’m cynical (at best) about government “fixes” to problems in our society, believing that often, the “fix” is worse than the purported problem.
  • I’m an “individualist,” believing that the individual and his or her character is superior to the GroupThink that pervades our contemporary society.
  • Right now, I don’t have any close friends who are African-American (or black or people of color, or whatever the current term of choice is). Oh, and I don’t say that to be flippant…I’m just not sure what the preferred nomenclature is today.
  • That said, I don’t bear any animosity toward black/African-American/people of color as a rule (see disclaimer about the individual above). I just haven’t created or been availed of the opportunity to befriend them.
  • That also being said, in two of my three current jobs, I have the opportunity to interact with black/African-American/people of color. I think I do OK in those interactions. (They might think differently, but you’d have to ask them.)
  • Come to think of it, I have to admit I don’t have many of what I would consider “close friends” of any ethnicity. (That’s another issue for another time.)
  • I do consider myself a teachable learner, who is open to learn from the perspectives of others those with whom I may disagree and with whom I see eye-to-eye.
  • I believe the old adage: “All truth is God’s truth.”
  • I’m a lover and not a fighter. I would prefer to find common ground and get along than live in open hostility and disagreement.

Stay tuned…

I Thought About…

"thinking" by Riccardo Cereser https://flic.kr/p/bT2t4

“thinking” by Riccardo Cereser https://flic.kr/p/bT2t4

I thought about Robin Williams, and how all of us could be him. I could see how the pressures and difficulties of life – especially a very public life – could get the best of someone. I don’t think I could or would kill myself, but I can see it.

I thought about Hemingway and pencils, about a kid named Paco. I remembered the great opening sentence of “The Capital of the World,” and the hundreds of Pacos who showed up in Madrid to find forgiveness from their fathers. I remembered how John Maxwell telling that story made an impression on me.

But I had forgotten the second sentence:

But this Paco, who waited on table at the Pension Luarco, had no father to forgive him, nor anything for the father to forgive.

And that sentence made an impression, too. In fact, it left a mark for some reason. It made an impression because it seems in my limited experience, to be the epitome of a Hemingway sentence, true, direct, and to the point.

I thought about Barbara Brown Taylor. And I listened to part of her recent sermon at Second-Ponce. Again, I had the thought that while we probably wouldn’t see eye to eye theologically, she takes seriously the text of the Scripture. She doesn’t bring her outline into the pulpit, she talks the Word. She’s having a conversation, telling a story, engaging the text and the congregation. Her preaching probably wouldn’t pass the muster of most SBC preachers today. And it might not fit neatly with the therapeutic, life-event, felt-need teaching we have assumed to emulate.

I thought about Mt. Everest, and photography, and typefaces.

I thought about Anna and Andrew, and Mark and Alison.

I thought about extension cords and projector kits, color palettes and iPad connectors.

I thought about money, and the lack of it, and I thought about life and the brevity of it.

I thought about joy and how it seems to have long since left and is determined to stay away.

I thought about cursive handwriting and why mine is so illegible. I thought about sentences and words, and how I wouldn’t be able to decipher what I wrote in my notebook the day after I wrote it.

And I thought about quitting while I’m ahead, quitting while I’m behind, and dropping out of the race altogether.

I thought about a bunch of other things, but that’s enough for today.

Two Years Ago…

"Reflection," by Richo.Fan https://flic.kr/p/7v6eEk

“Reflection,” by Richo.Fan https://flic.kr/p/7v6eEk

Two years ago…

We were getting our financial heads above water for the first time in a long time. We had just refinanced our mortgage at a great rate. The only debt we had was our mortgage and our son’s truck (college graduation gift). We were giving generously, saving regularly, and spending wisely.

My family had just said goodbye to my mom, and we were helping Dad and each other adjust to her being gone.

The lovely and gracious MrsCharphar had just started at yet another school, having been transferred again. It was the closest to our home she had ever been.

Many in our nation were hoping for a new season of liberty and prosperity, as we looked forward to a presidential election.

All in all, things were looking pretty good.

But what a difference two years makes…

Five Reasons I’m Making a New Commitment to Reading…

Image via https://www.flickr.com/photos/alexisnyalphotography/5183319657

Image via https://www.flickr.com/photos/alexisnyalphotography/5183319657

(NOTE: This is an adaptation of a post from May, 2006…when I blogged a lot more regularly and rather well at times! The re-post is occasioned by a reading tear I’ve been on this month. Be gentle.)

May has brought about a kind of “renaissance” in my attitude and in my take on things.

One of the new commitments I’ve made is to get serious about reading again. I’ve always loved books, and I want to keep up with the latest/coolest/hippest/hottest books that people in my field and in the world are reading.

But my commitment to getting serious again about reading is also due to a desire to read books that have indicated and influenced the human condition over the centuries.

I sat down and thought about this whole “renaissance” thing a couple of nights ago, and this is what fell out of my Moleskine…

Why I’m Getting Serious About Reading…

  • I’m reading for my ego. For someone who’s supposedly “educated,” for someone who prides himself on being knowledgeable, I sure don’t know a whole lot!
  • I’m reading for my mind. I want to be intellectually stimulated, to get in contact with the Great Themes, the Great Ideas, the Great Thinkers, who have molded, shaped and influenced the world with their ideas and words!
  • I’m reading for my writing. I’ve always wanted to write, and in the past at least, I’ve been pretty decent at it. To put words on paper, to follow the Great Tradition of writing, to sharpen my meager attempts at the craft of writing: these benefits come partly from reading.
  • I’m reading for my heart. I want to feel deeply the pull and tug, the ebb and flow of powerful ideas and stories.
  • I’m reading for my spirit. I want to soar, to get more in touch with God and His world. I want to hold up the mirrors that have reflected the human spirit, as it is and as it could be. And I want to be better for it.

Do you read? Why not? What are you reading right now? How is what you’re reading influencing your life? Jump in!