Thursday, February 07, 2008

Writing And Speaking

I am moving a little slow this morning. Tornado warning sirens went off and on until about 12:30 AM in my neighborhood. I don't have a basement so at one point my wife and I were downstairs in the center part of the house hoping the house didn't blow away. Everything turned out fine for us. The power even stayed on. I knew that would happen after we replaced every dead battery in every flashlight in the house. I hope that all of you who experienced last nights storms were as fortunate as me. Since early last Fall I have been quietly meeting with a small group of men at my church. It's been an enjoyable experience. Part of the reason for our meeting is that we form a team that will be leading a retreat for other men. What once seemed so far away is now a little over two weeks away. I am feeling a small amount of panic but I am not stressed out over it. My role is this weekend is to be a kind of master of ceremonies. I also will be doing a presentation that as of this moment I have not written. I have one week to get it done. In my wife's mind I am going down my normal path of procrastination. This is not totally true. I have been thinking about it for a while. This talk will end up being similar to a spoken version of my daily thoughts. I know that once I sit down at my computer ideas will flow and I simply need to organize them into a talk or, at the very least, an outline. I recognize at this point in my life that writing and speaking come easily to me. There is not much else in my life where my confidence is so high. The hardest part for me is having too many thoughts and ideas. The challenge is to create sections or themes that somehow flow in a logical manner. Assuming one has basic grammatical and presentation skills, the most necessary ingredient in writing or speaking is honesty. In my daily thoughts and in any talks I have given I speak from my heart and not my head. I am not a great intellectual. I don't know everything and I do not speak with any authority. I'm not trying to sell anything. Basically, I share my experience of life and my understanding of things as honestly and sincerely as possible. Honesty and sincerity are at least as important as being correct and logical. If I follow my heart, the talk will be fine.

I doubt there is any person whose mother has not said to them at one time or another, "You are what you hang with". There's a lot of truth in that statement. I am not as smart or well educated as some people imagine that I am. However, most of my life I have hung out with people who are smarter and more educated than me. Don't get me wrong. I am no idiot and one can be very educated without necessarily having a degree. In addition, I have known many well schooled people who are not educated at all. My point is that I have been very lucky to have crossed paths with people who were able to mentor me and teach me about life. I have had good teachers and other friends who have influenced me greatly and who have helped shape me into the person I am today. At the same time, I have not just sat around while others poured knowledge into my head. Most of my life I have been a voracious reader. Sadly, these days I am often too tired or busy to read like I used to do. In addition to what I have learned in school or from mentors and friends, I am a student of life. Wherever I am, whatever I am doing, I am observing everything around me and taking it all it. Sometimes I just sit and daydream. I try to learn from the "hard knocks" that life has sometimes given me. Although I am not necessarily the smartest person in the room, I guess I am intellectual in the sense that I am always thinking and pondering. This is part of my introspective nature. I think all the reading, observations, conversations, retreats, mistakes, and intellectual pursuits have made me educated. All of this, whether I realized it or not, has been part of my awakening process. There must be a sense of wakefulness in order to have any awareness and awareness is a big part of education.

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