The “me” blog (why I write)

Until recently, I hadn’t posted much in 2012. I’m not going to make some lame excuse about how busy I’ve been or how my priorities have changed. It’s not that I haven’t had any thoughts about ministry, culture, Malawi or bursts of creativity. It’s not even that I haven’t been writing.

To be honest a day hasn’t passed where I haven’t thought, “ahh, remember that blog you were gonna post?” I don’t let it beat me up, but it does bother me. So I will just come out and say it; I need to be more disciplined.

As self-serving as this may sound; blogging is good for me.

A few years ago a friend argued that Foursquare painted the perfect picture of how self-involved and focused our society has become. Become the Mayor! Get as many badges as you can!!! Checking in at the hippest hangouts gave individuals the chance to shout to the inter-webs, “Look at how cool I am!” Soon enough Facebook realized they were behind the curve on letting location determine your status on the social spectrum. And now there are a ton of ways you can post pictures, write reviews and tell everyone that you are the most important person in your own little world.

I wanted to argue her point, but I couldn’t. It hit me. The entire blog/twitter/facebook world is often less about connecting communities than about being a platform for personal projection.

A publicist who runs a blog for a band you love uses one of your flicker photos and, all of a sudden, you are Guns N’ Roses newest photographer. Former high-school athletes who never dabbled in journalism become “experts” in sports culture. A random person takes one online seminary class, starts a blog and they are a master theologian. Someone famous retweets a tweet and BAM, you know them.

There are, of course, exceptions to the network of narcissism. Social media has often been ahead of radio and news stations with disaster warnings, traffic updates and worthwhile news. And Facebook and Twitter help us to stay connected in a way email never did.

The honest truth is, in our world today—as a business, church or individual, if you’re not up to speed with where our culture has gone then you aren’t going to grow or meet new people. This is true whether you are keeping your information in the cloud or a Trapper Keeper.

But where do we draw the line?

Those who have thrived have figured ot how to walk it gracefully. They don’t post everything about their life, but enough to document their interests and connect with their friends and family. They feel they have something to say that others will want to hear, but have also learned that there is actually an appropriate etiquette to social media and blogging.

But why do I write? I can’t candy-coat it…it is good for me. It’s a discipline that helps me to reflect on where I am and what’s happening in the world. Words are something we often use without thinking; having a blog helps me to think before I speak (or write). I’d hope it’s a discipline that seeps into other ares of life. If, somewhere along the way, one of my online thoughts or rants sparks one for someone else then great. If not? I’ll keep writing.

Cycling Diary #1

So, I’m almost done reading David Byrne’s, Bicycle Diaries, and (though I have mixed feelings about the book) it has got me thinking about all the things I see and think while on the road. Though my posts about cycling may seem like nothing more than pointless ramblings (who am I kidding, this could be a description for much of my writing), I’d like to think that my time on the bike provides perspective in two ways. First, as Byrne has reminded me, one gains a unique view on the world when seeing it from a bike. Secondly, the gift of time on a bike provides much time for reflection.

Yesterday, I got on the train with my buddy Juan and headed for San Juan Capistrano with the intention of riding 70+ miles back to San Diego. Our train was set to leave at 8:10 and, due to a broken down train in front of us, by 8:45 we had made it about 8 miles up the coast. A train ride that should have taken just over an hour took well over two. We would inch forward for a few miles and then stop. It was a sick cycle and we soon were joking we could have ridden our bikes north and beaten the train. Fortunately we had all day, so our frustration was insignificant compared to the people who actually had to be somewhere. We heard many complaints and I couldn’t help but think of how many people in other parts of the world use trains for their primary form of transportation. Why is mass transit so poor in Southern California? Why are we so obsessed with cars?

The biggest surprise of the train trip was seeing a buck (male deer for all of you who never drive east of the 5 or north of L.A.) in a canyon in Sorrento Valley. I have seen deer crossing signs around Torrey Pines State Park, have always laughed at them and never thought that they were actually valid. I think we saw one of the five that actually still live in San Diego, but lets continue to develop overly developed land, build more freeways and sell more cars…

As we got closer to our destination, all of the fuel I had consumed for the upcoming ride began to take its natural movement, but it’s okay Juan convinced me we’d be there soon so I should wait to use the restroom until we stop. After all, I might get stuck in the head while at the train station in San Juan and be forced to ride 100+ miles instead of just 70. Let’s just say that I learned that the only thing worse than having to go to the bathroom while in public is having to do so while wearing a cycling bib. At least I walked into the restaurant wearing my helmet. Protection is a must in uncharted territory.

After close to three hours we were finally on the road, so we thought. I had a flat, already. After another ten minutes we were on our way. Juan thought he knew our route, and to his credit he had mapped it out on mapmyride.com. But mapmyride didn’t tell us that there was construction and that the bike path was torn into a mix of gravel and ragged rubble. Two miles, less than ten minutes later, PSHHHHHHHHHH, another flat. Juan’s bike this time. We pulled off the road, I went and scouted out the route while he began to repair his tire. Unfortunately his flat, wasn’t so simple. A rock had put a hole in his tire about an inch long. Our quick 70 miles quickly became tour de suck. Juan did his best impression of Macgyver, stuffed a dollar bill in the tire around the hole and, 7 miles later, we found a bike shop. Finally tire was fixed, now, NOW we would be on our way.

For the most part the rest of our ride went rather smoothly. Other than getting a bit lost, it was relatively uneventful. We took turns pulling, met up with a few others who hopped on and we were flying. It was a fairly fast paced ride and my legs are feeling it today.

The contrast between riding through San Onofre & Camp Pendaleton and through the more crowded areas (San Clemente, Oceanside, Del Mar, etc.) was fascinating. On my bike I often find myself observing how it seems that the simple act of driving a car makes people think that they are the most important person in the world. Honking horns, running stop signs and just having the general sense that the direction they are going is more important than where the other is headed (I am just as guilty of this as the next person…). Its as if the car is an amplifier for the human condition of self-centeredness. I’d like to think that my time on the bike has helped me to be more aware of this, but then again I still find myself yelling at cars who nearly hit me almost every time I’m on the road (as if one of us owns it or something). I think things like, “stay out of the bike lane and I’ll stay out of the car lane!” or “don’t these drivers know, as a cyclist, I have the same rights as they do?” (read up on it, it’s true). Truth be told, we all need to calm down, recognize and respect those with whom we share the road.

Entering the “big boy world of blogs/websites”

Slowly but surely, through the help and guidance of multiple friends, I am learning about managing a blog/website. Moving away from a .mac site was the right thing to do, but the transistion has taken way longer than I would have liked. I have been toying with and learning about the options wordpress has for tags, media, plugins, appearances and widgets. Meanwhile I’m trying to connect the other social media sites I use (twitter and facebook) into what I hope to do here. Eventually I hope for this site to be the place I write about different experiences I have, thoughts i have while reading or the happenings of every day life. Soon enough some of my photography and clips from sermons I have given should find their way here. If you have any suggestions (that is if anyone actually reads this) please feel free to give them.