Category "Journal in a Jar"
February 4, 2010
Journal in a Jar
My wife gave me a challenging gift; a journal in a jar. This is a large jar filled with hundreds of little slips of paper. Each slip has a topic to write about. To use this gift I have to accept the challenge of writing a journal entry every day by drawing a slip from the jar and writing about the topic. I started this blog when UThink Blogs first began at the U of M. My goal then was to challenge myself to write every single day for an entire year, and I did it. It was an awesome experience. Even now after so many years, It amazes me that I still have one of the highest entry counts on this system. Anyway, that's another curiosity, but now with this gift, here I go. Hundreds of random subjects on little slips of paper that will reveal who I am, one day at a time, until this jar is empty. When the jar is empty am I done? Knowing my wife, she will secretly replenish the jar with new ideas.
May 2, 2007
I never got into that blogging thing
The other day I mentioned something about my blog to a friend and he said, "I never got into that blogging thing." And I just sat there, like, Oh. And then we moved on to other things, but I thought about it afterwards, and it reminded me that blogging is really not that important to some people. Many people. Nobody in my entire family except me blogs. It's like computers. We all take them so seriously but I know quite a few very good people who get along just fine without the internet or computers. And they are happy, successful people.
Therefore the importance of blogs or computers is only relevant in the context of a reality that values them. It's all relative to how we see things and how we go about our business.
December 31, 2006
Piecing together who we are by what we write
It is interesting to think about things in this way. Recently I read a book about Leonardo Da Vinci. It was a well written book and the Author admitted several times where history was blank on certain topics concerning Leonardo's views or actions, forcing future historians to guess or fill in the gaps. Some were informed, educated guesses but some were the author's projections onto Leonardo. Leonardo did not write everything down, even though he had a very extensive journal library spanning many years. I am told that he hardly ever made mention of himself or his personal thoughts on topics. Most of his notes were observations, or clarifications on observations he had made on previous pages. Very little personal conjecture on his part except where based on some new experiment. And he was wrong many times in his guesses, but still he was not merely guessing or writing about his views on things. It was more scientific in nature.
This all led me to wonder how much a historian would piece together of who I was personally by what I have written, drawn, painted, etc. I know it doesn't matter, but the thought of some future historian looking back and getting it all wrong sounds like a waste of everyone's time and energy.
For me, a historian would have to piece a lot of information together. (And that historian could be nothing more than some future decendant of mine researching her geneology.) I keep three journals right now that would have to be correlated by date; A work log, with thoughts mixed in, a notebook I carry around, and this blog. And then there are various websites that I've created with various writings and artwork that have sat dormant for a while, but still exist out there on the world wide web. And then there is my artwork in various households throughout the country. Many people do not even know that I created some of this stuff. Especially my woodcarvings and other such artwork. The other journal is the mental one, with thoughts I've shared with no-one. This is the one that I carry in my head. There is a reason for that that Historians wish did not exist. It's because some things should be kept as private thoughts. Although the closer we can become to being transparent to other people, the truer we are in our lives. We are more authentic when we are honest and our actions and words and thoughts all line up. So it's to our benefit if we have no secrets that would torture us if revealed. Or torture our great grand children. But, still, I find it interesting how most human beings live in this dual state of private and public. Often the two are not the same. Sometimes it's obvious and sometimes it's not.
In history, It has been difficult to piece together Leonardo's life, because so little material about him survived and so few people that knew about him wrote about him. This is true for many people that lived in his age, that history has completely forgotton. But now in today's age, in our time, here, now, there is the internet. There is abundant paper and an electronic trail. For instance, all of my purchase are tracked when I use my credit card. It's still not a complete picture but it's a far cry from what historians had with Leonardo Da Vinci. Today for instance, I bought some soup and cold medicine. I noted in my personal journal how I felt like I was coming down with a cold. And now I'm mentioning it here. I feel a cold coming on. Maybe tomorrow I'll write about how I think the cold medicine doesn't really help the cold go away and how I feel dizzy, light-headed when I take it. Someone could correlate my different writings on the topic and have a pretty clear picture of what my day was like and what I did when. Not that I anticipate historians even caring one way or another about me. But now I can move on to the next thought...How even with all of this information someone in the future will totally miss the boat on something I was thinking, because I chose not to share it with anyone. It stayed in my head.
Example: I cut hair today again for someone else after I went in to work. I also had my hair cut by the same person. The conversation and friendship was a highlight of my day. It would have been a lost moment had I not shared it here and had the other person not shared it with anyone else.
Another example is that today I made potato chips out of lefsa, which tasted like pringles unsalted. That was fun. I really enjoyed it.
And finally, my thoughts on today's blogging: This blog entry is for curiosity sake, me exploring thoughts, and thinking about me thinking about thoughts. And it's about you thinking about me thinking about my thoughts. And it's about you thinking about me thinking about your thoughts thinking about me thinking about my thoughts. Regardless of whether it's interesting to anyone but me, I find human thought interesting. I find my thoughts interesting and strange some times. Now you know.
July 9, 2006
Changing the Name of my Blog
Today I decided to change the name of my blog. I think it still means the same thing, but reflects how I feel about life. Live. Alive. Live Alive. Be alive while living. I like it better than the previous blog name.
May 8, 2006
Daily Spirit Unplugged
I unplugged from the internet and email for a few days while I traveled to New Mexico for a wedding. My brother's daughter got married in a beautiful ceremony at a winery. You know, it was just a very pleasant time with great people and the weather was also beautiful. I had several opportunities to get onto the internet while there, but I just had no burning need to do so. Blog or no blog, I didn't really have much to talk about, but had a lot to think about. So I thought about things for a weekend and didn't write about them as I was thinking. For my quiet time, I studied Korean and read some short stories from one of my new books. But I did not log-on even once. Nor did I write in my notebook. I guess I was unplugged for a reason. I guess sometimes I need a break from blogging too. So, I went with the flow and it felt good to not think about it for a weekend. It helped me clean out my mind and rethink and refocus what I'm doing in many aspects of my life.
February 14, 2006
I've talked about this before I know. But on Monday night I was talking with Andy about blogging and he reminded me about the problems of recording our thoughts down in a journal format. What can be a blessing is also a curse. Each item posted to this blog for instance is a snapshot of one particular thought I had or one event, or a linking of several events and emotions, but it's not a complete picture of my life in this moment. Twenty, Fifty, or a million thoughts or events, significant or insignificant could have happened in the same day, which go unrecorded. For instance, If I kept writing just about this thought, I would not write about my experience of being interviewed and photographed for an article in the paper today. Or how nice it felt while biking today, or that I got my first flat tire of the winter while I was riding home today! Coincidentally, the reporter asked me if I had gotten any flats during the winter and I told her how lucky I was so far. haha. So on the way home tonight I got a flat. I was not bummed out or mad or anything, but made a choice to not bother fixing it tonight. I walked the last mile pushing my bike. I really enjoyed slowing down and taking advantage of the nice weather and fresh air. Sometimes we need an excuse to slow down. But even this is a snapshot, because it doesn't mention the artwork I did tonight, or the conversation I started with another artist through email, or my efforts today to work with the non-profit org I'm affiliated with. Too often I think we like to categorize and neatly order our lives. But life is not really like that. True life is more involved and is not a series of snapshots or anecdotes. It is about living and interacting with others and doing our things, whatever that may be. In my blogs I like to take an event and make it into a theme or topic for a blog entry, then apply a category for it. It's not intended to be an account of my life, though it's one of the most complete documents I've ever created and is better than not recording anything about how I feel or think or events in my life. But it's still not my life. This blog and the entries in it are still just snapshots of a particular feeling or thought or event.
Some people blog in a more random nature that defies categories, just as I could have also put this entry under the 'Winter Biking' category, or 'Attitude,' or 'Life.' The more things a person talks about in one blog entry, the harder it is to put it under one narrowly focused category. I chose to put this entry under blogging because overall I'm talking about the nature of blogging or journaling and the sometimes expectations we have about what it is we are doing when we are blogging. Even blogging can defy categories, because we can be doing something we do not realize we are doing. For instance, we can be posting a snapshot of an event in our lives, but really what we are doing is creating or continuing a conversation with other people. People leave comments or we meet in person and the conversation goes on.
When I first started blogging I read that a blogger has to have their own motivations for blogging. It's true. Every person I've met who has a long-standing, ongoing blog has their own reasons for blogging, and likes doing it. Of course life situations may change the direction the blog takes or make it obsolete and no longer necessary. One of my friends killed his blog and started a new one with a totally unrelated focus and feel. Another person I know has several blogs, not just one. Each blog in a way is one of his life's categories, each dealing with a different 'segment' of his life, such as his artwork in one blog, work in another blog, etc. It works for him to do this.
There is no wrong way of doing this. There can't be, because we are the authors of the blog, and blogs by their nature are undefined and difficult to categorize. Even when people say their blogs are about politics or biking or whatever, I read things from other aspects of their lives creeping into the writing. I think it's because we are writing snapshots while our lives are much more than snapshots and we know it. We want to share everything we are feeling or living, but can't possibly do that. It would take more time to document every thought, emotion and experience than it takes to live it. For instance, after all this rambling and talking about this, I still haven't told you that I read an interesting article tonight about how Steven Segal was discovered to be a reincarnated Tibetan Tulku:
"The degree to which tulkus have been able to actualize and utilize their potential depends upon how they have been able to use their past circumstances and how they currently use their present circumstances to develop their potential. Each tulku must work to develop themselves to the best of their ability. The essential point is that a tulku should strive to help others in whatever life situation they find themselves. It is out of such an aspiration to help all sentient beings that I have recognized many tulkus in my life and it is with this motivation that I recognized Steven Seagal as a tulku. If all beings seek to have this motivation, what need will there be for controversies and confusion over the motivations of others?
I like these thoughts expressed by Penor Rinpoche, that all people should strive to help others. We should all seek to have this motivation. So now I can categorize this blog entry under 'motivation' as well. But back to the point... If I kept going, I could write about my entire life and it would take me multiple lives like the Tulku to do so. haha.
So today was valentines day and my wife and I shared speghetti and wine, like Lady and the Tramp...No, better get to bed now. It's late and tomorrow is another day to write, and bike and work and play and love...
January 31, 2006
The not so daily but still daily spirit
Hey, just because I'm not blogging daily lately doesn't mean I'm not alive. Or does it? haha. Either it's time to renew my focus or renew the name of my blog. Andy was talking on his blog about how busy he was and how his blog has suffered and if we wanted to know what he was up to, we should check out his other sites where his time is all consumed lately. I know how he feels.
Now I'm all consumed in other activities. Someone else asked me about motivation. Yeah, my motivation lags a little when I'm tired, but mainly I don't have a motivation problem I have a time problem. I have too many things going on, like Andy. But it's all good. Andy I know exactly what you are going through, but don't worry. You are a Godsend even if you just show up once a month. It's better than what we did not have. And you've already made my day by showing up. ;-) And Nathan, I'm still thankful for you too. It's not everyone who will do something just because a friend needs help. That means a lot to me. Imagine a world full of people like you. It gives me great hope.
I've noticed that in the blogging universe, like everything else in life, other things sometimes have to have a higher priority. Too little time I think.
Learning Priorities and knowing what is important in life IS one of the reasons I'm here. It's one of the things we all have to learn isn't it? How can we be trusted with a fortune when we cannot handle a pittance? How can we handle a universe full of galaxies and populated planets when we cannot handle our own home?
One of the things I've tried to tell people, is that yes, no matter what position you have, no matter what your job is, what your obligations are, or hobbies, you are a spirit and human all the time, and the two are inseperable. So when we get so frantically busy, and our priorities get challenged, we have to remember to look at the big picture, how to live and love and continue the process of living no matter what we are doing. It's a good life. Andy you are doing great and I love your activities and your blogging. I think you got your priorities straight.
As for me? Haha, I'm still learning. Today I'm blogging. Tomorrow I'm at the bike shop. It's all good.
January 23, 2006
That was strange feeling
Taking a few days off from blogging was really strange feeling. I've been doing it almost daily for almost two years! can that be? Wow. Anyway, just to let you know what it feels like to NOT blog now, it's kind of like that feeling you get when you've misplaced something and know it's there somewhere. It felt like I was missing something the whole time, but couldn't quiet find it or figure out why I felt that way. It's definately habit for me to write now, which is one of the reasons I wanted to do this blog in the first place. But not writing for a few days made me feel a little out of balance instead of bringing me more balance as I cut back on my activities. Next time I'll cut out something else. One reason is because the whole time I was not blogging, I still had things I wanted to say, and instead of blogging, I wrote thoughts in my notebook instead. So I might as well share and expand on my thoughts online if I'm going to write anyway, haha.
So, more blogging to come...
December 31, 2005
I don't think this has happened to me until now. Yesterday I 'forgot' to blog. I've been faced with too little time or no connection before, but I have never forgot to post a blog entry. Yesterday I did. I was preoccupied with other things and thought nothing of it. Of course I have been in Narnia and in Narnia animals speak and girls can choose who they will marry. It's all quite enchanting. Right now I am about one third of the way through the 'Chronicles of Narnia' book. I find it quite refreshing to read a series of children's books. The Author, C.S. Lewis has a unique way of explaining things that is not quite the way I think. It's refreshing because I wouldn't think of some things from the point of view of a child. Yet it is this thought process that is so refreshing. In these books I have been to Narnia. It's very cool.
And in being to Narnia, I've forgotten a little bit about my past life. It's almost a memory, like blogging somehow seems familiar, but I'm not quite sure why. In truth, I completely forgot to write. I was preoccupied trying to finish up some end-of-the-year business and reading this book, but should I forget something like daily blogging after so long? This is definately a first for forgetting.
It means this is a good book in my opinion. Now I can't wait to see the movie. This is what I anticipated when I first was drawn to this plan to read the book, then see the movie. And as I read the book, I find I am reminded frequently of how we as human beings treat each other. This is one of the central themes running through all of the stories. Attitudes and intentions. We can be beautiful parts of a greater creation or something less than what we were designed to be. So it comes down to our choices, based on our attitudes.
Today, to wrap up an old year, I was cleaning and organizing my things. I came across a little piece of paper with an artist friends' phone number on it. I called him and he invited me on a bike ride. I was reluctant at first but then did it. It was great. Today I went on an adventure, just like in Narnia. Now on the eve of the new year, I have a tale to tell. So I'm blogging and not forgetting to blog.
Now of course this is very unstructured as many planned events are, and totally not like an adult thing to do, so very much like an adventure in Narnia, but I said ok and met my friend at 2:00pm today. We rode at a slow pace, purposefullly trying to find all of the slick and icy spots to try to spin out on our bikes. It was fun. We rode downtown, stopped at the Black Dog Cafe and had a couple cups of coffee and met some other friends, then checked out my art studio, then rode home. I did not place any judgements on this ride, just enjoyed the last day of 2005 in a way that I might not have normally proceeded. Happy new year!
August 31, 2005
PLOG time again
Announcement: I will be on vacation (Again) from Thursday, September 1, through Monday, September 5. I'll be keeping a Paper Log (plog) again and posting them when I return on Monday/Tuesday.
Monday night there is a concert by Katey and Gordon in Minneapolis so I'll be going to that. I can't wait. Also coming up this month is Dee Duckwall, which I'm also looking forward to.
Have a great Labor-Day weekend and I'll blog my plog when I return.
March 3, 2005
What's it like to be in a parade?
Here is another one of my daughter's Journal Topics. It's really interesting to write something on a topic of someone else's choosing within 6 sentences. It also is an interesting way to get ourselves to think about who we are and what we believe.
Iíve been in parades before and one sensation is that itís a lot of walking and standing around on your feet and by the end of it your feet ache. Another sensation is that you canít really see individuals in the crowd when you are concentrating on doing what you are doing and the crowd is so thick itís easier to just see a mass of people and not any one person. Another thought is that not one of those people sees my daily life, well, except for my family who is there somewhere watching and may get my attention by yelling or jumping out of the crowd. Otherwise, being in a parade is like having strangers look at your photo album and imagine and wonder at what itís like to be in those pictures. The pictures go by and the pages turn and the parade is over and they go home and they never did get to know the people in the parade; And I never did get to know the people who came to look.
February 26, 2005
Journal Topic - Yes again
1. Are you more like a fountain or a fireplace? How so?
I am more like a fountain because I have a deep desire to give to other people and my passion keeps on coming out. Water is a source of life and gives itself to living beings to live and it seems to me fire is consuming life to continue itís own. Although fountains and fireplaces are both mostly ornamental, and it could be argued that a fireplace gives off warmth, a fountain continues cycling water through, operating tirelessly. A fireplace eventually goes quiet and cold as the spectators go off to bed. Yet, humorously I say that Iím still here, typing another blog entry at 11:35pm.
February 25, 2005
Have no fear
Iím having too much fun with my daughter's Journal Topics. Since I started doing this she keeps giving me more sheets with more topics. This last one the instructions say, ďIf you write more than one response, you will receive BONUS POINTS!Ē Note the emphasis on bonus points! The bonus for me is in sharing an interest with my daughter. We are having fun with this together. But she still has not shown me what she has written. I asked her recently if I could see her Journal topic responses so I could see and compare what she wrote with how I approached it, and then she informed me that she always chooses the last topic which is, ďTopic of your choice.Ē haha. I so much enjoy my daughters company. I can already feel like something will be missing when she does leave home. Is this like this for every parent when their children grow up? It was like this with my son also, and itís still strange not having him home, and not being able to talk with him every day when I come home from work. I know this is the empty nest syndrome and I know that we have to let our children grow up, but going through it and experiencing it is different than hearing about it. Even though it was hard for me when my son left home for college two years ago, it feels even stronger of a pull on my heartstrings having my daughter grow up. In a lot of ways, I can really connect with her. She is an artist and creative thinker. As an example of this connection we have, when I was leading some art workshops with some friends, she wanted to be there and paint with us. I was amazed at the cool things she made. She also volunteered to play some duets with me at Christmas, her on clarinet and me on trumpet. We performed for our family, but the practice together was the most fun. Well, I have to keep reminding myself that my children never really leave my heart. Things will just change and they will be doing what they dream of doing, which may take them to the other sides of the world. It also reminds me that we have to really make the most of every minute we are with the people we love.
1. What would it be like to have no fear? How so?
I feel like we have two kinds of fear. One is called Ďrespectí and the other is the Ďlacking of love.í A certain amount of respect is necessary to keep us from doing stupid things that could kill us. But the other fear is not the opposite of love, but itís like Hot and cold water. Itís all the same stuff that we are made out of, but Fear is colder water, lacking heat. So having no fear in that sense is being full of love and we can be that way if we choose.
After writing this I realize that I donít really have to fear losing my son or daughter because I know that we are not lacking in love, so no matter what situations come up we will still love each other and life will take care of itself the same way it does now. There will just be new experiences and adventures for all of us to share.
2. If you were to adopt a different name, what would it be? Why?
Iíve already been there and tried that. After I graduated from high school I adopted the German name, Johann and all my German-speaking friends called me that. Itís just the German equivalent of my current name John. My Korean Language partner gave me a Korean name, but I forgot it already because it did not mean anything to me. But just the other day I saw the Russian spelling for John, which could be Ian or Ivan, but in this case it was just two letters pronounced ďYan.Ē So my adoption of a different name would really be just another translation of who I am.
Ding ding ding ding. BONUS POINTS!!! ;-)
February 24, 2005
Another Journal Topic
from my daughters Journal Topic list:
1. Are you more like Twister or Scrabble? How so?
Iím more like Scrabble because Iím made up of a series of events that all fit together sequentially creating my experiences. Though at times I may feel like Twister, I believe that nothing is random and that everything I experience is the result of my choices and how I react to what has been played out already. I have the ability to change the outcome of my destiny by making different choices. Like in Scrabble, most of my choices are carefully thought out and I like to plan for better results. If things donít work out right, I know I can search for better options, change my priorities, make better choices and create a better life.
February 21, 2005
Journal Topic part two
From my daughters Journal Topic list:
1. What would it be like to swim with a dolphin? How so?
When I was in elementary school I used to pretend I was a dolphin and swim with my feet together and try to shoot out of the water. In my mind I soared far and high and dove back in with as much power and finesse as a dolphin. Flipper would have been proud of me. In swimming like a dolphin, I was a noble creature, which I still stry to imitate in life. Dolphins are playful, loving creatures, that always seem to smile. It seems that Swimming like a dolphin is a good way to live.
February 20, 2005
Tonight when I was working on my blog entry, my daughter gave me a slip of paper for her previous Journaling assignment and told me that if I ever get stuck I could use some of these ideas to help me think of something. Actually the reason I was working on my blog entry for over an hour and a half tonight was because my computer kept crashing on me and I had to restart and start typing all over again when I lost everything. But once she gave me that piece of paper, I changed my mind about what to write about and decided to use one of these topics.
The directions said to use a 4 to 6 sentence paragraph to respond to one of these topics. Ok, Iíve already surpassed that explaining what Iím doing, haha. But Iíll try.
1. Are you like noon or midnight? How so?
Iím like midnight because I am often awake and trying to post my blog entry at midnight. Also, I like the solitude and peacefulness of this time of night for working on things that require concentration. I have often stayed up all night working on a project, reading, painting or writing. Midnight is the turning point for a new day while noon is the halfway point. In regards to my age, I donít feel like Iím half way through life, I feel like I am just beginning to live.
Thatís good, 5 sentences. But Iím glad I did not choose this topic:
2. How much money do you think your autograph will be worth 50 years from now? Why?
If I said it would be worth a lot, Iíd be pretentious and if I said it wouldnít be worth anything, Iíd be self-deprecating. 50 years from now Iíll be 92 years old. If Iím still alive I hope that I will be like ďThe LegendĒ John Sinibaldi who at age 90 was riding 150 miles per week on his bicycle. I donít know if he signs autographs, but I heard that people have asked him to have their pictures taken with him and that some people had T-shirts made that said, ďI rode with the Legend.Ē If my autograph has some value at that age, Iíll print some cool T-shirts that say something like, ďI was inspired by this really old guyís attitudeĒ and give them away to people I lead on bike tours. If Iím not alive at age 92, then my autograph value wonít matter to me.
Wow, look at that, six sentences. I like the idea of economy of words. If I canít say it in 4 to 6 sentences Iím probably long winded. I think this is a good exercise for me to try in future blog entries and itís good writing practice.
Tomorrow you get to hear about what I was originally writing about today. Monday is Presidentís Day and I have that as a Holiday so Iím not working. I think a bike ride through the park in the snow is in order, with studded tires of course. ;-)