An Open Letter To Female Lady-Fellas

Following suit of fellow (far more successful) blogger Ally Spotts (VERY worth reading), I am writing this as an open letter to women from a man's perspective. Have no fear, you cuddly, adorably uptight equal opportunity extremists, I'll write my piece to men too. This has simply been on my mind for a while and recent events have simply pushed them into the realm of "need to be developed." Sitting for 2 and half hours fighting madness in Cultural Anthropology doesn't hurt the desperation for something to ponder. These are simply the words of an admittedly somewhat jaded boy who is tired of what he sees on both sides of the spectrum. So without further ado, you may read my first of two letters here: Dear Ladies, I am going to speak purposefully in a rather extreme, generalizing way about the issues on my mind with a specific rhetorical stance meant only to enforce my points and encourage thought. I will be writing in mass with the inescapable knowledge that I have close female friends who represent everything that is right not just with women but with people in general. I am extraordinarily aware of and embrace the fact that just about every rule has exceptions. The generalizations I am about to say are surely among those things with exceptions.

1. Never let someone tell you that you can't do something just because you're a girl. Not where you thought I would start is it? Of course not. You ladies are the crowning achievement in God's creation. He stopped with you because it simply couldn't get better. You got the beauty. You got the parts to complete your male counterparts. You were not created as subordinate or as superior, but from Adam's rib: his side. Under his arm, like two classmates posing for a picture on the playground. Totally different but completely equally favored. This being said, listen up. I told you there's nothing you can't do, and I completely back that, as long as you understand what I mean by nothing. There are logical limits to that kind of a statement. You can't fly. You can't survive without water. There needs to be a line drawn between can't and shouldn't. I have a lot of readers of this blog who do not subscribe to the same system of beliefs as I do, and so you will find fault with this next part: the Bible (my basis for how we should live) lays out groundwork for the specific things men and women should do. God sets it in motion in Genesis with the differing punishments given to men and women. Paul speaks of them in his letters to Timothy. This is not a post about what your roles are, nor is it a commentary about how fair or unfair I think they are, but it is rather an exhortation to women who are of like mind that there are Scriptural examples of the expectations God has for you. In no way is God limiting the things you CAN do, He simply says, like He says to every person alive "lay down what you think of yourself and instead do what I would have you do."

2. No matter the reason you do this (which I may never understand), leggings are never an acceptable alternative for pants. I don't know the names of all your short little skirt things or those shirts that attempt to shove in our faces the degree to which the fat content of your chests is disproportionate to that of your male counterparts, but I'll let you in on the deep, inner-workings of the male brain: we notice. The more willing you are to show it, the more willing boys are to be slapped for looking at it. The more willing you are to show it, the easier boys think it is to get you out of it. The more you show us, the less we think you are capable of intellectually. Yes, it is vulgar. Yes, it is unfair. Yes, I hate that it is true, and no, I am not exaggerating. I think that if women knew what flit through mens' brains based solely on what you are wearing (NOT on body size or type or preconceived notions or heresay), this country would be dressed differently. You might clean out your closets. If you hold it in front of a hungry animal, you cannot get mad at it for eating. Sure, men are pigs, but you do not have to be the slop they consume.

3. (this is the longest and last point in this letter)Please, for the love of all that is holy, acquire your validation from some source that is not a man. *I speak more about the concept of Identity here, if you want to read* Men are horrid, superficial, two-faced creatures who, if you look for acceptance from them, will give it to you for the right price. I am sick of reading blog posts and articles and bad poetry about how to find the right man for you, because it insinuates a one-track mind. It focuses attention, calls importance to, deems necessary, the almighty relationship. Not like, friendship relationship, you know, the boyfriend/girlfriend, hold hands down the street, whisper sweet nothings and make it official on Facebook and Twitter and Myspace relationship.

We, as a society, are obsessed with it. It sells so well! Even in the most manly of movies, the perfect girl ends up with the rugged hero (I'm sure I'll talk about this sometime later) because that is what is expected of us. What are every one of Taylor Swift's songs about? Why do women worship Nicholas Sparks and Rom-Coms and write to Abby about relationship problems and drown their faces in makeup and assume that innocuous, amicable friendships should become "more" just because somebody is "cute together"? (Not that it is just women who are responsible for these things, but it is generally associated with you. Remember I am speaking in generalities) Because in many ways, we live in a society that assures us that unless we are in a relationship, we aren't doing something right.

Today in the UC I was eating my lunch in peace at a table in the corner and I was listening to a girl giving Biblical advice to another girl. It was wonderful and refreshing to hear Scripture spoken boldly and eloquently, but they soon got on the topic of this boy. She began giving the advice I've heard a thousand times: pray that you can be made into the woman for the right man and pray for that man that he may do the same. As if we expect God to drop a man/woman into our lives because that's what we want. Why are we not praying more that we become who God wants us to be, with single/married not even an issue? We should ask to be conformed to the image of God not to be partnered with somebody else who wants the same, but because we want to be conformed to the image of God. It's that simple. It is a disease even within the church, this addiction to relationships.

I have read articles about cheating and sex outside of marriage and love and entries from Christian blogs about how to find the perfect Christian guy all with the expectation of finding a guy. Ladies, please hear me out: I am not at all slamming Godly relationships - I am merely asking that it not be the priority of your life. It is a sad thing when, even within the church, we stress more about our relationships with boys than we do with our relationships with the Creator of the boys.

This letter is very long and rambley. To be honest, it was very hard to write, because men and women are such fascinating and complex creatures that have such enormous potential that it was hard to synthesize my thoughts about the way they should interact. Here is what my notebook looked like before even editing:

DSC00757

DSC00757

DSC00758

DSC00758

And it went onto the back too.

I just HAD to capture how much you rock, how much potential you have, how much you are treasured, and how specially you fit into God's vision. But I also wanted to highlight some areas that can use improving (and have no fear, the boys are next, because we are far worse off). It is not an extensive list (I figured 1500 words was plenty). I am more than open to discussion, further exploration, etc.

I just wanted to make sure that the jewels of creation realized it, took it to heart, and found it within themselves to pursue a relationship with their Creator before anything else, because He is jealous for your hearts more than a boy ever could be.

Mountains of Love, Hamilton

Hamilton Barber

The subject of this page is an introverted writer/musician/lunatic from Chattanooga, TN who dabbles in lexical dexterity, unorthodox thoughts on prosperity, and being overwhelmingly undeserving of the privilege of waking up every day. He hopes that everybody who reads these words takes them to heart and leaps higher than he ever could. He reads, thinks, and speaks too much; he listens, works, and loves too little; and he says “I” entirely too often. The words on these pages are not his: they are the words that were given to him.

Hi, I'm ____ and I'm a Socioholic

It is somewhat traumatic when you arrive at the realization that people, in the most general sense of the term, suck. We have slowly lost our sense of self somewhere in the technological age, in which we can pick and choose what we want people to see with the rest hiding under our metaphorical makeup that we sloppily cake on in the morning to avoid showing who we are. Our phones are extensions of our brains and our cars are extensions of our feet and we begin operating under the assumption that our worth comes from the number of friend requests we get or the number of people who tell us we're talented or how long we can go without having to sit in silence and listen to nothing but ourselves.

Because we are uncomfortable with who we are, we have to find comfort in other people, even if the interactions we have with these other people are shallow. It is absolutely mind blowing that, from my junior year in high school until a month ago, I spent hours daily looking at information and pictures and thoughts from people I cared nothing about and hoped that they were doing the same for me. I cannot believe that I found validation in the fact that I had something like 800 people were my "friends," even though MAYBE 100 I had ever even spoken to and most I would have gone out of my way to avoid.

This "socioholism" is a dangerous mindset to contract, because as soon as we start projecting our sources for self-worth onto other people or onto the amount of group activities we can do or onto the number of parties we attend, we are taking our self-worth away from....ourselves.

Furthermore, we are surprised to learn that people do not act rationally, selflessly, trustworthily, etc. and take it personally when the teeming masses of sinful, horrid creatures around us act in their sinful, horrid ways. Everybody does. I do. You do. We walk as if on a sea of nails so we will not shatter the carefully constructed images we project. We'll say things we don't mean in order to alter some opinion you may be forming of us. We'll fake a smile and promise to hang out just to make the encounter which we forced in the first place appear to be less awkward than we both know it is.

We'll do everything that is a byproduct of a society so wrapped up in image making that our fragile outer shells will eventually crumble because of the hollow cores within them.

Somewhere along the way we learned that if you're not going out at night, you are an outcast. We learned that disconnection is undesirable. We learned that unless you text her every five seconds, she will forget about you or get over you or cheat. We learned that having an off night means you need to organize a slumber party. We learned that every connection you have ever made needs to be maintained.

Now, I speak with slight hyperbole, as usual. I am not saying to sever every one of your connections and confine yourself to your den and a chair and a mound of books written by old dead men. What I am saying is that unless we can, as a society, forsake this gripping necessity to constantly be around people, we are not going to be comfortable with ourselves. Until we are comfortable with ourselves, we will derive our worth that SHOULD come from ourselves from other people. These people will do exactly what it is people do and let you down, which then leaves you feeling empty.

We have to learn to fill up the space inside our shells with something that is far more complex than the social scene. You have the option to be delivered from all of the nonsense that comes from the drama of other people. How can we be comfortable with our Savior when we can't be comfortable being away from the throng of careless people surrounding us?

You have the strength of choice inside of you. Forget the hurtful things that somebody does (whether they mean to or not) - that's getting upset because a hot stove top burned you - it's going to happen. Instead, know that you were given an option the second Salvation came to the world: either stay here and get your worth from the myriads around you that are constantly in flux, or get it from that special place He puts inside of you.

Hamilton Barber

The subject of this page is an introverted writer/musician/lunatic from Chattanooga, TN who dabbles in lexical dexterity, unorthodox thoughts on prosperity, and being overwhelmingly undeserving of the privilege of waking up every day. He hopes that everybody who reads these words takes them to heart and leaps higher than he ever could. He reads, thinks, and speaks too much; he listens, works, and loves too little; and he says “I” entirely too often. The words on these pages are not his: they are the words that were given to him.

>My Goodness, What a While it Has Been

>I don't know why I feel so snarky this morning.

I have been, like the majority of America, consumed by the season (though perhaps in different ways). This is the only explanation I shall offer for the unfortunately long time between posts.

Although I am now falling into a twist of the cliche, I took, for a few days, great pride in being perhaps the only blogger in the expanse of the bloggerverse who has yet to mention "Christmas" (although there I mentioned it... forgive me) or to offer my opinion on the true nature of the season or to say that it is about the birth of our Savior and not the birth of the spirit of capitalism or to deliver moving recreations of Christmas classics or to say how awesome "A Christmas Story" is.

I didn't even watch "A Christmas Story" this year.

Besides wanting to remind people (myself, mostly) that I am still here and demonstrating classic inevitable narcissistic web logger syndrome, I wanted to squeeze a few words in about this "New Year" notion, because that seems to be all the rage nowadays. I've gotta keep up with you silly kids.

First, I want to say that I think that it is silly to try to reinvent yourself one time a year, because that never works. Don't say that come January 1 you will lose that 50 pounds you need to or that you will start being nicer to your mother-in-law or that you will finally get around to asking that girl out simply because it is a new year. One-time-resolutions will never work, because once you come down from the high of the very rhetorically interesting "rebirth" that accompanies having to write "2011" instead of "2010" the goals you set seem either unreachable or silly or you'll get to them tomorrow.

Next, in very sharp contradiction to what I just said, I wanted to offer, briefly, some things that I would like to focus on (although clearly in no way are they related to the new year, any sort of Resolution, or anything of the sort). Perhaps you would like to focus on them with me. Perhaps you'll send people over here to laugh at my list or maybe you'll write me and say that it's a great one. You might even get what Andrew calls the "tinglies" which replace the solitary man-tear following something inspirational.

1. Read a book by an author you have ragged on extensively, passionately, vehemently, in the year prior, even if it was just for a second. I just read the first Harry Potter book and I will be the first person in the room to admit that I thoroughly enjoyed it and plan on reading the rest. I also offer appy-polly-loggies to any Potterheads I have offended before. I was in the wrong.

2. Learn a new word every day. Discover that the English language is not as limited as people like to say, rather people have forgotten how to use it. Subscribe to one of the many word a day email lists or ask somebody smarter than you to text you a new word each morning or buy a dictionary, I don't care. Learn a word each morning, how to spell it, what it means, use it three times by the time the sun sets, and the word is yours. You will be amazed at how more fluently you will be able to voice your thoughts.

My favorite word I have learned in the past day (you may start here and steal it from me if you so desire):  dysania - the state of finding it hard to get out of bed in the morning. (see? It's fun!)

3. Buy a moleskine notebook from Barnes and Noble. Make sure that it doesn't have lines, because this will do several things: offer you a completely blank slate to record whatever you want. It will teach you to write in straight lines. You can draw just as easily as you can write, even if you are like me and you cannot draw at all.

Anything that can be expressed with ink needs to be inside of this notebook, and you do not show any of it to a single soul. It is not for other people, it is purely for you in a time when NOTHING is secret.

4. Keep lists. Of everything. If it comes to mind, write it down, because you will forget it later. Keep a list of books you want to read or people you need to write or formulas you need to remember or groceries you need to buy or items of clothing to give away or websites you need to tell your brother about or songs you need to cover at a coffeeshop.

5. Listen to The Rescues. Trust me on this.

6. Take pictures of anything you see. Even if it means buying a bunch of $5 disposable cameras.

7. Keep a journal.

8. Recognize beauty when you see it, and then realize that beauty is everywhere. See it in nature, see it in Creation, see it in writing and in math and in an empty cup of coffee, but most importantly see it in each other.

9. Be curious, even about things of which you are sure. Never stop learning, never stop questioning. You must develop the things that you believe so that they are not shattered when a storm comes around.

10. Be passionate about something - anything. I don't care what it is, just find the thing that you absolutely love and follow it until you perfect it (I'll give you a hint: you never will). Don't back down from the things you love, no matter who tries to rip you away from them. If it's Pokemon, awesome. When somebody calls you a geek, you know that you're on the right track.

Hamilton Barber

The subject of this page is an introverted writer/musician/lunatic from Chattanooga, TN who dabbles in lexical dexterity, unorthodox thoughts on prosperity, and being overwhelmingly undeserving of the privilege of waking up every day. He hopes that everybody who reads these words takes them to heart and leaps higher than he ever could. He reads, thinks, and speaks too much; he listens, works, and loves too little; and he says “I” entirely too often. The words on these pages are not his: they are the words that were given to him.

>Epiphanal Spontaneous Outbreaks

>

I've been finding myself occupied recently with terrifying thoughts. I don't know how to control these thoughts either, because I feel as though they are crucial to our existence as humans living in an imperfect world, occupying the endless time of an eternal and perfect God. 

These thoughts that I have been thinking are less long, eloquent diatribes in my mind that is gasping for knowledge and Wisdom and, well, answers, but more glimpses of epiphany that is to come. It is as though my processes pause momentarily and for that instant, everything around me appears totally fabricated and completely unnatural. It is surreal, really, and nearly impossible for me to explain. I see the little cars we drive, the work we attend, the politics we argue until we are red in the face, the accumulation of thin green paper that people kill each other for, and they all appear to me as this visceral realization that we do not belong here. This society that we worship and pursue and accept as truth cannot possibly be truth, for it was created by flawed humans. It is kind of like when you stare at a word for an extended period of time, repeating it over and over and it becomes foreign, almost unrecognizable to your mind. The more I think about all of this... stuff that is on earth, the more it blows my mind that it was put here by us. 

With this frame of thinking, every goal and every motive you possess starts to be tossed into question. Everything here has an expiration date, so the notion of putting my trust in local things starts to be absolutely absurd. I suppose what I am trying to comprehend is the idea that I am not of this world any longer, since I have life in Christ. I know that I am not alone in these far-fetched little musings because poets, intellectuals, thinkers all throughout history have struggled to find their place in the same world that I am seeing. It is a horrifying thought for those without purpose, sort of a fast forward to 80 years from now when literally everything they have known is wrong. I glimpsed the sheer terror of this thought, but it was immediately overcome with a peace that came in the form of a whisper in my ear. It was audible, I swear to you, and what I heard (or felt?) was reassurance that I have nothing to worry about. There is nothing wrong with me having these things, because they are all gifts, but as soon as I start putting stock in them, I know that this moment will revisit me and I will be snapped back to the frame of mind I should be dwelling in. 

I know this was really long and disorganized and somewhat of a rambling collection of thoughts, but I am convinced that somebody out there needed to hear it, and needed to be comforted with what are inevitably the same thoughts I am having. If you feel like having a discussion about it, please email me or something just to let me know that you're listening. Or reading. Or disagreeing. 

Hamilton Barber

The subject of this page is an introverted writer/musician/lunatic from Chattanooga, TN who dabbles in lexical dexterity, unorthodox thoughts on prosperity, and being overwhelmingly undeserving of the privilege of waking up every day. He hopes that everybody who reads these words takes them to heart and leaps higher than he ever could. He reads, thinks, and speaks too much; he listens, works, and loves too little; and he says “I” entirely too often. The words on these pages are not his: they are the words that were given to him.

>For Times Such as This

>

I believe that everybody has had one of those weeks.

I am referring to the weeks where you are constantly in the throes of a struggle against gravity and defeat and generally being bested by whatever situation you find yourself in. You fight against your eyes as they tempt you to close and shut your body down, but you know deep down that this is not possible. People are counting on you, expecting things of you,  looking to you to provide the hope for them to be able to make it through their version of what Alexander appropriately titled his "terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day," and you can feel the weight physically on your back. You'll find the aches come only when it is most inopportune and you'll feel the pangs of exhaustion creep over your synapses exactly when the last thing in the world you need is to be lethargic. This is a fact of life, a facet of Murphy's law that proves over and over again to be irreversibly true, but nonetheless no easier to bear.

You will find yourself frustrated by the most elementary of problems, like no more sweet tea in the pitcher, leaving you to make more, or that you accidentally bought cheddar cheese instead of American. This frustration with petty things will lead you to question your sanity and, if indeed this portion is true, make you suddenly viscerally aware of your more jaded, cynical alter ego that pens your most vivid creations and causes connections with your audience beyond the capability of your mild-mannered normal self. You then realize that you are better off as this alter ego because you are more capable of doing better than the person you were born as.

There was this story of a monk that urged his followers to carry with them everywhere they went two equal sized rocks. He asked them to smooth them out and make the edges pleasing to the touch and the surface spotless and blameless. On the surface of one rock, he made his followers chisel the following sentence: "I am but a speck of a person in a speck of a planet in a speck of a solar system in an infinitely expanding Universe." This rock, it would appear, applies to situations such as the ones described in the previous paragraphs. Our problems, in an existential sort of way,  do not matter in the slightest little bit, and make no trace of noise in the vast expanse between the stars. 

This monk recognized this, however, and though he knew that in a cosmic sense it was fundamentally true, he made his followers inscribe the other rock with a simple, opposite message that is possibly the most fitting piece of advice that is sound, encouraging, and quite frankly, tear-inducing. When you find yourself in that battle to keep your head above the water, with the weight of the entire world riding on your back and forcing you to the dirt below you, take out the other rock that this monk made his followers carry probably for situations exactly like those. It reads: "Everything, big or small, grand or petty, beautiful and breathtaking, was created with me in mind."

Hamilton Barber

The subject of this page is an introverted writer/musician/lunatic from Chattanooga, TN who dabbles in lexical dexterity, unorthodox thoughts on prosperity, and being overwhelmingly undeserving of the privilege of waking up every day. He hopes that everybody who reads these words takes them to heart and leaps higher than he ever could. He reads, thinks, and speaks too much; he listens, works, and loves too little; and he says “I” entirely too often. The words on these pages are not his: they are the words that were given to him.

>Those Who Can Count and Those Who Can't

>I've decided that there are two categories broad and sweeping enough to fit any human, whether they are aware of the reality of their situation or not. Look into the soul of anybody within eyeshot and you begin to understand precisely what I'm talking about when I shed light on the rather obvious dichotomy presented before us every day of our lives...

The two options are, in layman's terms, the Respecter and the Moocher.

The Respecter does not necessarily like everybody, or even anybody, around him. He doesn't have to have a lot of friends to put himself in this category; it doesn't matter how he dresses or what major he is or where he works or what kind of movie makes him cry, but rather how he approaches human interactions. People don't always understand the true blessing of having Respecters in their lives, but this does not stop him from being who he was made to be in the first place. The Respecter understands (superficially) that what you have is yours, and you have the option of doing what you please with it.

He has probably known what it feels like to have to earn things that you accumulate and therefore approaches interactions with friends and strangers alike with a reserved sense of self-awareness. He gets that you have personal space because he might have issues with that himself; he understands that when people yell when they talk it makes even the most docile of person feel a twinge of hostility running down their cool spine, so he controls the volume of his voice; he knows the feeling of being drowned by a deluge of meaningless words being spewn from one's mouth so he knows that there are times when it is appropriate not to speak. When he asks for a favor, he gives the easier task to the volunteer , while bearing the majority of the load himself, because he knows that effort, as well as time, are things that people prize, and are therefore aspects he must respect. None of these things are a chore for him because it only comes natural. He may not be a people pleaser, but he is a people understander and that makes him a tolerable person to be around.

The Moocher, however, is a completely different story. Unlike the Respecter, he has no concept of the people around him because they all seem superfluous compared to himself, the all-important center of the universe. The Moocher is the one that calls you and instead of greeting you and thanking you for being gracious to pick up the phone yells in your ear "I'm bored, let's do something." Be wary of making Moochers your friends, because they assume that with your friendship comes an open invitation to enter your house, wear your clothes, and eat your food with or without your permission. They will probably do something extreme to get your attention for a while, like undergo a drastic change in dress or undertake a new life-consuming hobby or decide to move on a whim, and then assume that while they were doing the other thing they were doing other than being your shadow you missed them greatly *(but were too scared to call or text or ask somebody where they were, even once)* and will promptly begin back at square one.

The Moocher saps not just money but energy, time, effort, and relationships with people that are not them. Also, if they feel like you are catching onto their game, they will go out of their way to try to feel appreciated, perhaps by saying something like "ok well then I guess I just won't see you for a while" or feigning a momentary crossover into the Respecter category by buying you something innocuous but heartfelt or calling and asking how your day was. Beware of the Moocher's cunning tricks, because they do not make the choice to be a Moocher, they are simply either too lazy or self absorbed to do anything about it.

The Moocher will never recognize his/her position as a Moocher, however. It is for this reason that you must be all the more vigilant in spotting their type and not falling prey to their tactics. The best way to avoiding having all of your life overrun by the likes of the Moocher is simply to live your life as normal when they are around and knowing how to say "no." When they insist on you spending your time on them, tell them that you had other plans. When they insist on you spending your money on them, tell them that you don't have the money to spend right now and when they whine about it, know they'll get over it. Don't leave things laying around you don't want them breaking open. They will understand after a while not having an invitation means they are not invited, and if they wish to receive an invitation they will have to change their ways.

Basically, the point of this whole thing is that we have to learn how to deal with each other. If you recognize yourself as one of these two categories, know that it's not too late to become whichever you see as more appealing, and if reading this makes you think of one or two people in particular, you can understand where they're coming from and start learning how to treat them better. Wow, that was a cheesy ending.

Hamilton Barber

The subject of this page is an introverted writer/musician/lunatic from Chattanooga, TN who dabbles in lexical dexterity, unorthodox thoughts on prosperity, and being overwhelmingly undeserving of the privilege of waking up every day. He hopes that everybody who reads these words takes them to heart and leaps higher than he ever could. He reads, thinks, and speaks too much; he listens, works, and loves too little; and he says “I” entirely too often. The words on these pages are not his: they are the words that were given to him.

>Figured Out

>When I used to look at this day from the past, I imagined that by the time I hit 20, I would have all of this... stuff figured out. I saw 20 as a milestone of sorts, as that top of the hill after the battle of the teens and a kind of plateau before another climb towards middle age. I understood that I'd have issues to work through in High School and all through those awkward teen years, but I saw myself emerging at the end of the tunnel a different person than I walked in as. A man who understands things and has that general adult-esque knowledge of how the world works and how to fix problems.

I can honestly say that this is not how life works. Life is not dissected into stages, but rather it is one long stage that is timultuous and ever-changing. But I've been doing a lot of changing through the past year or so, and have managed to scrape together some semblance of a list of how I have "figured it out."

1.

2.

3.

4.....

notice a pattern?

I honestly don't think that we're supposed to figure out everything the first go-around. If we figured out all of this mess without much of a fuss, what would be the point of celebrating old age or getting excited about birthdays or rejoicing in making it one more day?

Some things I have noticed, though, is that there are certain patterns that keep popping up that drive home the facts of life, and if we can grasp these, I think that the rest might come a little easier to our weary minds.

Love exists. It is the most perfect of all things we humans are capable of feeling. It can drive us to extents that were previously unreachable by our normal standards and cause us to behave in ways that our status quo would never allow. Love is what distinguishes the mundane from the sublime and is what takes the ordinary and makes it beautiful.

Another thing that I've noticed/learned is that nothing is as big a deal to anybody else as it is to you. Sympathy is a word that encapsulates what we have invented to use in situations where we need people to think we care just as much as they do. We may feel strongly about another person's situation, but nothing is ever as big a deal to somebody else as it is to that person, really no matter what the situation. The other side of this is that we think that everybody cares about all of our issues just as much as we do...

Segway into point number three: we act not for others, but for ourselves. This is why it surprises us and touches us so much when we see somebody legitimately act out of love not for himself but for others. We splotch up our selflessness and feel better about ourselves because we spent a week among the less fortunate, but turn our heads when a homeless man asks for money on the street, validating ourselves by whispering to our conscience, "he'll just buy booze with it."

I am not saying that I am exempt from anything I have said, and I am not trying to preach or even guilt trip anybody to do anything differently with their lives than they're doing now. I've just been thinking lately about how there's more to this game than people realize most of the time, myself included.

Ha, I've never taken so long to write one of these things, so it's probably all over the place. Perhaps one person will get something out of it though. Goodnight friends :)

Hamilton Barber

The subject of this page is an introverted writer/musician/lunatic from Chattanooga, TN who dabbles in lexical dexterity, unorthodox thoughts on prosperity, and being overwhelmingly undeserving of the privilege of waking up every day. He hopes that everybody who reads these words takes them to heart and leaps higher than he ever could. He reads, thinks, and speaks too much; he listens, works, and loves too little; and he says “I” entirely too often. The words on these pages are not his: they are the words that were given to him.

>Money.

>I spend too much money. I'm not like the people that you see on Intervention that are in ridiculous habits of spending thousands upon thousands of hard earned (sometimes not earned) dollars on things that they don't need. I'm not a hoarder, I don't pack useless things away into places thinking that I'll use them sometime when really in the back of my mind I know that if I even think about that item again, it'll be a miracle. I am not a gambler, I don't hang out at expensive stores, all of my friends aren't rich and I don't believe in "keeping up with the Jones'." But, knowing where I am and how I recognize that I go out to eat too much and buy too many cd's on iTunes makes me all the more puzzled at how one comes to that point.

But that isn't the point of this.

The point of this is that with this new change that's coming I know exactly what it is that I need to fix and exactly what I need to cut out. I know that I'm not the only person who does this, and I also realize that I'm no Suzie Ormon or howeveryouspellhername. So to all of you like me, join in my "money diet" to fatten up those wallets and make living that much easier.

1. iTunes makes these wonderful things called gift cards. If you're anything like me, you're borderline ADDICTED to the simplicity of point-and-click to access the next potential greatest CD ever made. You understand the struggles that artists go through and you feel bad pirating music because you can appreciate every single person that has ever bought your songs. So let's still use iTunes rather than Kazaa or Limewire or whatever it is you're using, but put a single restriction on it: only with a gift card. This way, you can still experience the anticipation of new releases, and the anticipation may even better the actual experience of listening to the cd once you finally get that first glorious listen. Postponing this may also save you from buying something that you end up not liking, because with the use of the gift card, you'll have to decide what it is you want to spend it on.

2. Chilis is a deadly weapon against teenagers. It's quick, friendly, filled with great food, and an incredible hang out spot after just about any occasion... but it sneaks up on you in the wallet. I don't see a lot of people my age going to J Alexander's or Red Lobster, but rather these little places to satisfy their fleeting hunger. I say let's limit eating out to one or MAYBE two times a month. You don't need to completely cut it out! They're there for your disposal and enjoyment, but not to take up every meal. WalMart has an amazing selection of food that you can get for very cheap, and make an adventure out of it in the process. Learn to cook. Try new recepies. Have fun with it!

3. When that time comes that you simply can't resist going out with friends, but you want to save that dinner for another special time, there is a fabulous thing that we (you AND I) need to start getting the hang of: the water and wait. Order a water. It's free. Have two or three bucks to tip your waiter at the end of the night for refilling that glass... but wait until all of your friends are done eating. Inevitably, everybody will not finish all of their food, and often times this food is up for grabs at the end of the meal. Most places also give endless supplies of bread or chips or other scrumptious appetizers. Let's use this stuff to not spend so much, and look forward to that bowl of Lucky Charms when you get home!

These are just a few of the things I plan to do with Matt and Ryan. Just by doing this, I am going to be saving myself countless dollars that I've wasted in the past, and I can honestly say that I'm excited about it :)

Hamilton Barber

The subject of this page is an introverted writer/musician/lunatic from Chattanooga, TN who dabbles in lexical dexterity, unorthodox thoughts on prosperity, and being overwhelmingly undeserving of the privilege of waking up every day. He hopes that everybody who reads these words takes them to heart and leaps higher than he ever could. He reads, thinks, and speaks too much; he listens, works, and loves too little; and he says “I” entirely too often. The words on these pages are not his: they are the words that were given to him.

>Next

>For so many people, change is something that terrifies them to a point of debilitating hopelessness, and for good reason (at least to them). With change comes the inevitable uncertainty of what comes next, whatever that "next" happens to be. Perhaps a "next" place to live, a "next" car, a "next" paycheck, a "next" girlfriend, a "next" best movie in the world. These are all important things to certain people, each holding a place of unparalleled preponderance in the daily lives of the individuals that hold them up on their undeserved pedestals. The word "next" implies an almost unilateral view past the present and into the future, it infers an almost tunnel-esque vision into what is yet to come.

The thought of a junkie looking for his next fix conjures the image of a desperate man or woman who can do nothing until he obtains that fix. Again, the power of "next."

The problem with this word, despite the (?)positivity of constantly looking forward is that the present is simply nonexistent. I've never been much of a marathon runner myself and I doubt most of you have either, so imagine with me a runner on that final stretch of their grueling race, at the crest of the final tumultuous hill along their quest of endurance. The peak of the white banner signifying the end starts waving in his field of view, and all that stands between the agony the runner has endured thus far and the sweet and welcome relief of rest is a comparatively measly 100 yards. You tell me what this runner is focused on - the people that have flooded out of their houses lining the streets, the vast number of volunteer workers who have given up time and money to supply water, tables, powerade stations along the side of the course, the signs of encouragement held up by friends or family members running alongside them, or are they focused on the next steps their legs are going to take, how many of these next steps they need to reach their goal?

Do not get me wrong. I wish I could know for sure and I greatly respect those who do know, but I imagine that the sole focus of the runner at this point is on the banner waving ahead and the weary legs beneath their exhausted body. All surroundings, all implications of that runner's "present" are nothing but a blur, even an obstacle, in reaching their final goal.

Please please do not get me wrong or misunderstand me by thinking I'm telling you to live in the moment only, because that person is more supremely misguided than the one focused solely on the future. I do, however, believe that it is necessary to constantly be aware of where you are in the present, because there is no other place you can possibly be. You cannot be in the future. You cannot reside in the past. God has given each of us the GIFT of free will, a gift that can be used neither in the past nor the future. It is a the gift of our choice NOW.

A gift... or a present, if you will. Of course, we are to use this gift for His glory, but even that is left up to us to decide. But how can you be expected to use this gift of the present in the place where you are if you're trying to live in the future?

I guess what I'm trying to say, as trite and horribly cliche as it is, is stop and smell the roses. Recognize who it is that has gotten you where you are and be freaking thankful for everything that you have, because, as the government is proving daily, what you have can be taken away so quickly. Safety is nothing more than a fleeting warm spot in a freezing cold ocean; comfort is a word thrown around to represent what takes us off of our feet and down from our guard; hope has become a catchphrase thrown around by politicians of the right and left wings alike.

Love is a term used more frequently by 8th grade girls than married couples of 30 years.

Be sure you know what it is around you that stimulates your mind, that inspires or leaves you awestruck, that gives and takes away, understand the fragile line between life and death, and take all of the steps towards the only one that can make both life AND death as meaningful as anything you could possibly imagine.

Hamilton Barber

The subject of this page is an introverted writer/musician/lunatic from Chattanooga, TN who dabbles in lexical dexterity, unorthodox thoughts on prosperity, and being overwhelmingly undeserving of the privilege of waking up every day. He hopes that everybody who reads these words takes them to heart and leaps higher than he ever could. He reads, thinks, and speaks too much; he listens, works, and loves too little; and he says “I” entirely too often. The words on these pages are not his: they are the words that were given to him.