Apples

Sitting in a coffee shop surrounded by people tapping away on Macbooks I can help but remember my freshman year in college. One of my floor RLAs was a total Mac cultist who owned multiple aging machines, included a G3 that he desperately wanted to get Apache running on. OS 9 was less hospitable to POSIX toolchains then. He did get it to work eventually, and I was impressed, but I sure as hell wasn’t going to buy a Mac myself.

It’s hard in hindsight to realize how bad things were in that world. OS 9 was the sort of OS only a mother could love. So many quirks that made using it an exercise in self-punishement.

But Jobs rose the Phoneix from the ashes. And now here I sit having to eat my words about Apple being dead. It’s amazing how much one person can have an impact on the world. Thinking on a flight recently, it occurred to me that if half of the billionaires in the world had the vision of Gates or Musk, where might the world be?

Campaigning

Campaigning has been a very interesting trip. The most memoroable aspect of running for select board so far has been finding people standing up along side me and asking how they can help me gain a seat at the table. Mostly, that’s because I tend to think of myself as a relatively unimportant person. And I am, even now. Yet my desire to serve the town intersects with a lot of other folks’ desires for their town, and I’m amazed that they see me as someone who can help them.

Mostly, what that means to me is that this has become a responsibility. Not that I didn’t already know that to a certain degree, but extent to which service is really responsiblity has fully dawned on me now.

Free and Responsible

The way I was raised, certain people were simply wrong. If they didn’t share the same enthusiasm for science, they were incorrect. If they believed in a benevolent (or even malevolent) Christian god, they were wrong. There was very little gray in many of the positions that were espoused to me. One of the great aspects of humanity is that we are given the opportunity to raise our children with our values and beliefs. But, of course, there are responsibilities there too.

It almost seems absurd to say this, but I don’t think I was always responsibly educated. Absurd, because that’s a high bar and I’m not sure anyone can ever claim to have been educated under the perfect paradigm. But to the extent that it took me many years to understand what it means to pursue a free and responsible search for truth and meaning, I think there could have been more openess to what I was exposed to. The Christian Bible is an amazing book. The Bhagavad Gita is absolutely beautiful. Darwin had his doubts about the extent to which evolution allows us to understand life. Newton was downright crazy half the time.

The source of responsibility in our lives is humbleness. When we say we are responsible for our children, that does not mean if we fail to teach them the right things we have failed. It means if we fail to listen to them, and discern what they need based on what we understand about them and what they tell us, we have failed them. There is no test for responsible parenthood, just as there is no test of responsible searching for meaning in our lives. When we have the freedom to search for truth and meaning, we must use discernment and listening as our foundation for responsibility. Listen first, think second, act last.

Finding meaning

What does it mean to encourage others towards spiritual growth? At a recent board meeting, which included a fairly contentious issue, a number of friends and myself certainly did not encourage anyone towards spiritual growth. The root of the problem, as with many problems, lies with differences; differences of opinion, experience, and expectations. As a Unitarian Universalist congregation, we espouse the seven principles, which are as close to dogma as you’re likely to see in UUism. One of these seven “pillars” of behavior as a UU calls us to accept others and help them towards spiritual growth. How can we do that when we’re so different?

I’m repeating myself here, but repetition is the best way to learn anything, so let’s go again. Difference tends to cause us to build walls. Often we do not do so intentionally, but humans are animals, and there is a base tribalness to much of what animals do. It should not surprise us that we like to be with our own kind, to have our ideas reinforced, to spend time with those we’ve shared experiences. But that gets to the crux of it. Share experiences with other people. Embrace our tribalness to create connections with people who are currently strangers. This is not radical acceptance. If you believe that abortion is a sin against your chosen diety, that is not a good place to begin acceptance. Rather, why not talk about youre experience with your children? Talk about sports, the weather, and begin to ask questions.

Do you know where the members on your board were born? Where they were raised? What they personally believe? The stand out experiences in their lives? Their favorite books? Movies? What they love? What drives them crazy? These are not retorical questions. Nor are they questions that I have asked yet. So no need to feel bad. Being an accepting and welcoming human being is difficult preciscely because of our earlier manifestation as uncooperative animals. But by some miracle have developed the skills of discernment and cooperation, and we should perform social exercises to keep our open-ness well conditioned.

Coaching soccer

This is my second year coaching the middle school soccer team here in Castine. Each year I am filled with apprehension about the make up of the team, and wether coaching is actually something I can do. All those kids, just looking at you to say something, anything really, so long as it relates to soccer.

And yet here I am. My second year of telling kids what to do. Interestingly, what’s most stood out from year to year is the growth of the players. Fifth graders last year who had trouble paying attention and looked at me like I was speaking Greek when I told them to hustle to the ball, have become easily motivated. Older players seem almost excited to step into leadership roles, whether in the goal or taking a midfield position with lots of running.

Really, it’s the same as watching my own kids grow up. The miracle of humanity is how we grow and develop our own personality quirks and motivations which are at once totally our own, and also clearly cobbled together by experiences we’ve shared. For my part, I love it.