Sunday, December 6, 2009

Photo Album of Fall in New Jersey (and New York) 2009

Fall is over here and I've been super busy with work, my ESL classes in New York, and the Holidays. But here's a photo album of my tribute to Fall's beauty. You can watch it in the tiny window below or here's a link to the full screen version:

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Fall in Madison

I love driving in Autumn. The roadways are alive with hundreds of dancing leaves. Each one twirling and jumping in the wind trails of cars that pass them by.
And in the fields, nature's great gusts send them surfing through the grass or sailing from the trees as they leap from their safe, lifelong confines and, in their final days, taste freedom for the first time. Floating and dancing in groups as they explore the world.
In a short while their vacation will be over and the trees will be dead and bare, awaiting next year's rebirth. But for now I am reminded, every time I drive, that nothing dies so beautiful as a tree.For whatever reason, I am always reminded of who I am during Autumn. It is for me a coming home. I love the way fall smells and looks and tastes. I am at peace, I am at home whenever fall is here.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

My Wife's Summer Journey

Last night, I slept on a stranger's air mattress in an apartment that is not mine, next to my wife while she waited for the hospital across the street to call and tell her that someone had died and their family needed her comforting presence. For the last 10 weeks, my wife has been interning as a hospital chaplain. Every few weeks she is on call during the night shift, offering anyone a listening ear or shoulder to cry on throughout the night and early morning. Since she must be able to respond quickly, the hospital provides an apartment to stay at while she waits. Last night that's where I was too, contemplating death and emotions.

Although I did not go with my wife on her summer journey our strong connection and understanding has giving me a wide window into her experiences. And I think she would tell you that what she has learned most about life this summer is that life is full of many steps, the last of which is natural and necessary. Death is natural and should be accepted not feared when the time is right. I guess too many people in our culture view death as a tragic event to be prevented at all costs. Most people who don't work at a hospital rarely, if ever, encounter deaths other than those of people they know or feel like they know (like celebrities). So most of our encounters with death are highly emotional and turbulent events. But when you see a stranger near the end of their life journey, it is easier to see that what matters most in life is quality not quantity.

One of my favorite pieces of advice comes from a Dylan Thomas poem, "Do not go gentle into that good night./ Rage, rage against the dying of the light." I think this is great advice for most of our journey on this earth. But as it is with all things, there is a time for rage and a time for peace. I think it might be best if we let life end in peace. Death is a difficult thing but we all must face it someday and I'd rather face it peacefully than full of fear and rage. It's been really hard listening to my wife struggle with the pain and suffering of others this summer, but I'm incredibly proud of her and very glad I could be near her on her journey. May all our lives end in peace.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Cheese-its Star Trek Uniform

At long last the wait is over! For the past four months, everyday I have gone to the mailbox with excitement in my heart and growing anticipation each day. After all those weeks spent waiting, I was beginning to fear that my T-shirt had perhaps been sent to the wrong planet and some distant Klingon was using my T-shirt to dress his combat training practice dummy.But my fears were unfounded. Last week I finally received the beautiful Star Trek T-shirt I sent away for using a cheese-its box so long ago. I'm very impressed with the quality (I was worried that it might be cheaply manufactured) and when I put it on, I feel like a noble Starfleet officer ready to save the world. I'm sure everyone has that one piece of clothing that instantly boosts their confidence. Maybe it's a little black dress that highlights your curves in just the right way or a baseball hat you've had since highschool that's been stained with tons of memories. For me, this shirt brings out all of my best emotions and gives me the feeling that I can conquer anything. Today is a good day!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

New Jersey Eats

There is a curious culinary phenomenon in New Jersey and the east coast which people here call 'diners'. Diners seem to be defined by their small locations, late hours, and extremely eclectic menu. Although I'm sure there are some exceptions, these small, local restaurants have turned their nose up at the stereotypical restaurant model of drawing in customers with delicious food. Despite their inability to create delicious food, diners litter the landscape by the hundreds here. They remain so popular because people don't go to diners for the food, they go for the company.
When you're at a diner everyone there is your friend. The first diner I ever went to I felt immediately at home. A few minutes after we sat down I asked a woman who had just entered if she could take our picture. This sparked a conversation and soon the entire diner was involved. Later a gentleman came in and sat behind us with a couple already there. He had never met them, but he was instantly welcome at their booth as if he were an old family friend. I've never been anywhere as unconditionaly welcoming and friendly in my entire life.New Jersey is the diner capitol of the world. For it was here diners were born and there are still more diners in Jersey than any other state, not more diners per capita but more diners total. Fairly impressive when you realize that new Jersey is the fourth smallest state in the union. So if you're ever in New Jersey, do yourself a favor and stop into a diner. You'll be glad you did.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

July 4th

How do you celebrate a place as diverse as America? What do you do to celebrate a concept as big as "freedom"?? I guess that's what makes July 4th so special to us all, we can celebrate America's independence day any way we see fit. Fireworks are probably the most popular way and for good reason. Painting on the night sky with fire and light is a poetry unlike any other. This year I was lucky enough to see our nation's largest fireworks display explode above our nation's largest city. But I also celebrated in a much less traditional way.
Macy's Fireworks Spectacular

I'm concerned that our nation is becoming too polarized. It seems to be getting easier to isolate ourselves from any differing opinions and convince ourselves that we are always right and that the opposing factions are always wrong. If you're a conservative you can watch Fox News, listen to Rush Limbuagh, and talk with your conservative friends. Or if you're a liberal you can watch MSNBC, listen to NPR and chat with your liberal friends. And you never, ever have to hear that you might be wrong.But we're all wrong sometimes, we're only human. This nation was founded on diversity and we need others to challenge us and share with us their different points of view. Or else we shall become divided and fall. This July 4th I felt it was important to spend at least a little time around people with differing viewpoints. So in addition to fireworks, I also went to an independence day "teaparty", which was a conservative political rally. I don't agree with most of what was said at the rally, but I was filled with a sense of unity and pride in the freedom of expression this great nation affords us all. If America has just one lesson to teach us, it's that we should not shy away from diversity but rather embrace it, for diversity makes us all better. United we Stand, divided we fall. So we all better embrace diversity and learn to talk with (and even learn from) people we disagree with or there is great trouble ahead.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

A New Birthday Tradition??

Well tomorrow is my birthday and the day after is America's birthday. I'm not really getting any physical presents, but I'm still going to get some cool stuff. Tomorrow I'll be having a fun barbecue in the back yard and this fills me with joy. Also I'm asking my parents for money to help pay for the English as a second language certification course I'm taking in August. This is even more exciting than the barbecue because it moves me one step closer to Japan. As for myself, I've decided to make a video time capsule for the Jeff who will be around 5 years from now. Youtube must be having difficulties because after I uploaded my video I discovered the sound was out of sync. According to their "know problems" page they are currently aware of this problem and working to fix it. For now if you want to watch it, I guess you'll just have to deal with the 1970's kung fu movie feel of my time capsule.

So maybe I'll make a video time capsule every year on the eve of my birthday. I can't wait to watch this again in five years and see how differently I see myself or more accurately, my past self. Time is such a funny thing. We exist only for a moment and then change into somebody else. Our struggle is to constantly progress, to always keep changing into someone better, someone who you will make us proud and happy. Here's to the future!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Firefly (not the Joss Whedon one)

It's amazing how quickly our childhood can come rushing back to us. With the right smell or touch or movie, we can feel the beautiful innocence and wonder of our childhood wash over us for a moment. Tonight while strolling with my wife I came upon a sight I have not seen for a very long time, Fireflies. It was a very emotional experience, for the firefly is a magical creature from the mists of my younger days.
Fireflies are not easy subjects to photograph, but there are 2 here if you can find them

Fireflies buzz around with tiny bolts of lightning strapped to their tales and it seems to me that they must be mythological creatures. I love the sight of fireflies because they remind me that the world is filled with mysteries and wonder. Nature is fascinating and strange, littered with plants that eat animals, bugs that look like stars, and lizards that can run across water. What a beautiful world we all inhabit. It's so full of wonder and beauty I can't wait to pass it on to my children one day.
My town is beautiful at night.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Beach

It's tough for me to admit when I'm wrong, but I do my best to be honest. So I'm just gonna say it: I went to the beach last weekend and had a great time. I know this seems like a simple admission, not deserving of the angst it has caused me. But I've been committed to disliking the beach for several years now, it's become part of my identity and enjoying the beach means changing who I am.I have plenty of reasons to dislike the beach. I'm pale and don't get along with Ultra Violet rays, I had an unfortunate incident involving a jellyfish stinger and my crotch, I drank some salt water once and threw up, and like everyone else when I visit the beach sand gets stuck everywhere. Despite my past misadventures at the beach, I had a great day Saturday. The combination of pleasures was nearly perfect: Friends, food, and childlike play surrounded by scenic beauty and joyful crowds. I went swimming, became one with nature when I buried myself in the sand, and had some amazing seafood from a nearby seafood festival. It opened a new chapter in my life; a new love affair has begun. I'm looking forward to my next trip to the Jersey shore where I'm sure to discover more joy.
making amends with the beach

Monday, June 15, 2009

Missing: Stolen Blog!

I decided to steal Jeff's blog for the day. I was so inspired by what I experienced today I needed to share it.

Isn’t it awesome how you can be inspired by others? I was inspired by a couple of things today. I was inspired by a wonderful young woman who is turning her life around. She is going home to clean her house and help out her mother who threatened to kick her out less than a week ago. I was also inspired by the contestants on the Next Food Network Star television show. These people are trying as hard as they can to cook delicious recipes, be creative and spontaneous enough to capture the audience who may be watching a Food Network Show. I love food and so you would think that being inspired by these passionate people cooking food on television I would also be inspired tonight to cook a creative dish. No sir, no ma’am. I was inspired to work in the kitchen doing dishes.

I have been inspired by other television shows and movies. One such movie is Center Stage. This dance movie is packed full of dancers living out their dreams competing for spots in the American Ballet Company. Now, I don’t dance much due to inexperience and fear of embarrassment so I am thankful that I was not inspired to dance by watching this movie. Instead, this movie inspires me to clean or do other chores that I am not normally motivated to do.

I am constantly motivated by my wonderful husband who dreams of living in Japan, witnessing him follow his passion inspires me to follow mine. I am so blessed that today I was inspired multiple times. Perhaps I would be inspired more often if I kept my eyes and heart open to others who are so passionate. Perhaps if I thought about it I would also be inspired by my fellow hospital chaplains who try to comfort others, or the grocery store clerk who shares a part of who he is with a curious grocery shopper over lychee. There are people to be inspired by all over the place, people putting themselves at risk of making a fool of themselves or sharing something personal with someone else. I think it’s so worth it. I hope that I too can be an inspiration for others by doing what I am passionate about.

-Misty Howick

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Cutting Back

When I started this blog 77 days ago I made the decision to write a post every single day. I started a blog to help hold me accountable for taking pictures daily and to see if I would enjoy writing publicly. I no longer need this blog to help remind me to take pictures. I carry my camera with me everywhere and almost always find something picture worthy in my day.
I do enjoy writing this blog, but I've found with increasing frequency that there are sometimes other activities I must sacrifice or forgo in order to post an entry for a given day. So I've decided that I would be happier posting less frequently, probably once or twice a week. I hope this isn't too disappointing to my dozens of "fans", but as usual I must follow my heart. I've really enjoyed this experience/experiment but for now my heart and mind are asking me to focus on other activities like talking with my wife or writing Star Trek stories or volunteering. So if you're interested, check in next week and see if I've received my Star Trek uniform from Cheese-its yet.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Let's Go To the Mall

I won a gift card to Ruby Tuesdays recently so my wife and I did something we haven't done in a LONG time, we went to a mall. After such a long absence, I saw the mall with new eyes. It actually felt like an exciting destination full of energy and young people.
free food tastes better

I can understand why so many people like to visit the mall regularly. Malls have movies, massage chairs, opportunities to people watch, stores for almost every taste, and a variety of foods. The mall we went to was full of adventure and we had a great time wandering around after our free meal. I won't be going back to the mall again this weekend, but I will be going back to the mall someday soon and looking forward to that day. Before I leave, for your viewing pleasure here's a great music video about malls:

Monday, June 8, 2009

Volunteering is the most American thing one can do

Today I attended my third training class for the Literacy Volunteers of America. It's been a fun and enlightening experience, one I would recommend to others. During each class we learn a little about teaching methods for ESL and a little about our students and their lives.
We've heard stories how learning to speak, read and write English has helped people to vote for the first time, get a better job, talk to their children's teachers and doctors, and become citizens of the United States of America. ESL tutoring has all the ingredients a great volunteer program should have: cultural exchanges for both student and tutor, kind souls sharing their knowledge and time to help empower others, and the chance to fell good while improving local communities. Everyone should voluteer, because it's not just American or moral, it's healthy and joyful. Wherever you passions lie, there is a chance to volunteer. Whether you referee little league games or serve soup to the homeless, volunteering enriches the lives or everyone involved. So I implore you to find a place to give a few moments of your time and improve your life and the world.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

H1N1 Swine Flu??

This morning I woke up sick. I shouldn't have been surprised because last night I also went to bed sick. I dislike being sick because it feels terrible, but also because it tends to hamper my freedom and scuttle my plans. But even though I was pretty busy trying not to fall out of bed today, I also tried to keep some of my daily goals. I tried to learn something today, I studied Japanese, and here I am writing this post.
What was I able to learn in my weakened state? For one, I learned that I really should type up a few extra blog posts to have on hand in case I get sick or don't feel inspired or go somewhere without internet like rural Tanzania. I also learned that I have an amazingly supportive and loving wife. This is a lesson I learn over and over, and I never tire of discovering new ways to fall in love with my wife. And with that, I think I'll go collapse in bed.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

New Jersey Jazzfest

Some days you wake up and find a Jazz festival in your backyard. This was one of those days for me. How we respond to Jazz festivals in our back yard speaks volumes about how we approach life, so I had to explore this opportunity. When I tried to enter, the main guard informed me that I must first purchase a ticket.
Determined to enter the festival and hoping to avoid payment, I approached the ticket booth and informed the woman behind the table I lived here and wanted to see what was happening. Apparently reading my mind she decided to wave the standard fee and gave me a free wristband.
The music was heavenly and so too was the weather. It's been rainy for the past five or six days here in New Jersey. So I'm don't know if the Jazz brought out beautiful weather or the weather brought out beautiful Jazz, but it was certainly no coincidence. Today's lesson: pay attention to your back yard because sooner or later you'll find beautiful, heavenly Jazz.

Friday, June 5, 2009

highs and lows

Communication is the key to maintaining any relationship. Whether it's your work, your wife, or your giant Wookiee first mate, if you want your relationships to be healthy you must communicate openly. But even if you speak the same language, communication can be difficult. It requires occasionally being wrong, listening to others speak without simultaneously formulating a counter-argument, and paying attention to details that don't involve Batman or Mr. Spock.
Life is blurry

My wife and I are constantly trying to improve our communication, sometimes it's easy and sometimes not. One of our main differences seems to be that she likes to talk about problems and I like to solve problems, both fairly typical responses for our genders. Being aware of this difference helps us understand what the other person wants out of a conversation.
Communication works like windshield wipers

My wife and I have several activities and games designed to help us communicate and stay connected, but my favorite is called "Highs and Lows". At the end of each day we like to share the best and the worst thing that happened to us during the day. It's a great way to get right down to the most interesting details and many times my wife's highs or lows have surprised me. No matter how well you know someone there's always more to discover, even about yourself. Communicate openly with those in your life and you will learn a lot.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Memories and Anticipation

Yes, yes, I'm sure by now I've mentioned once or twice that I love adventure. But going to wacky festivals and strange new places is only half the fun. As much as I love "the moment", the before and after also fill me with joy. The buzz of anticipation and the warm glow of memories give me more pleasure than the adventurous activity itself, I think.
The Great Book of Fun

I can't resist ordering travel guides from near and far away places, checking out travel guides from the library, and wandering the internet in search of strange events and places. In fact planning and researching for future adventures has become an activity of its own.
box of free visitor's guides I've requested

The same is true of browsing through my old photos or posting them online, I gain a great deal of pleasure from my pre and post adventure rituals. It's deeply important to bridge and balance one's past, present, and future. My endless cycle of planning, experiencing, and processing adventures helps me feel like I am giving adequate focus to all periods of life.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The myriad of emotions felt while walking through the toy aisle at Target

Man do I love ninjas. Their stealth, their swords, and their tremendous dedication to honor and violence fascinate me. I often find myself fending off make-believe ninjas throughout the day in order to keep my imagination healthy and active.Judging by this awesome display I ran into at Target, I'm not the only American who loves ninjas. I never would have believed that "cute" and "lethal killer" could be such a great combination until I discovered the Mighty Muggs line of toys. The people at Mighty Muggs have found a way to create super cute, bordering on cuddly, statues of our nation's most feared and lethal heroes and villains from Wolverine to Darth Vader. Something deep within me wants every single Mighty Mugg, but I feel like I should resist this impulse. Should I be concerned that most of my life's most difficult struggles seem to involve fighting the urge to buy all comic book and sci-fi related paraphernalia? I really should stop going to the toy aisle in Target, but I just can't help myself.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Apartment Puddle

I stepped in a puddle walking barefoot through my apartment today and for a moment I thought my wife had flooded our place again. As it turns out, her camelback had merely fallen over and emptied most of it's contents onto the floor.It may sound funny, but our flooded apartment is one of the reasons I love my wife. She makes life unpredictable and hilarious, just the way I love it. If I can't come home to occasionally discover that my wife started to fill the sink for dishes and then accidentally locked herself out of our apartment with the water still pouring, then I don't want to come home. Life is suppose to be crazy, and in my experience things usually end well. In this case my wife ran to the campus police who let her back into the apartment just as water was starting to pour out from under the door, and after mopping up all that water we had a very clean floor! All I really want out of life is a little bit of craziness and some fun stories and my wife gives me both.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Summer is Here

Ahhhhhh, it feels so good. Summer has arrived with the bounce of a trampoline and the swing of a hammock.Summer means freedom, the freedom to swim in the ocean and grill outdoors, the freedom to wear sandals or hike mountains. Yesterday it meant enjoying an entire afternoon playing games and eating food outside under the great summer sky. This is my first adult summer spent outside Arizona and summer in New Jersey is much different than in the 'Zona desert. It's not just because the temperature is below 120 degrees.Summer out here has a beginning and an end. I already miss winter, but not in the way that I miss my first cat. Unlike the eternal summer of the desert, I know this summer will eventually end and winter shall return. This finiteness makes me enjoy the freedom of summer much more than I ever have. Variety is my favorite spice in the meal of life. So bring on the summer fun, I'm ready to enjoy it while it lasts.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

I miss pets

I love my life and I am pleased with the decisions I have made which have lead me to where I am. But my life isn't perfect, as I strongly suspect no one's ever will be, and ever so occasionally I am reminded of the negative consequences I must accept as a result of my grand life desires. I love traveling, I must be free to take spontaneous trips, and in two years I'll be moving to Japan. Being free to travel and explore gives me much joy, but it also has plenty of negative side effects.
Owning a dog or a cat is a wonderful experience. But along with the great fun a pet can bring also comes responsibility. It's much more difficult to decide on a Friday that you're leaving town for the weekend if you have a living creature that relies on you for survival. Even if our apartment complex allowed us to own pets, I think it would be irresponsible to get a cat or dog knowing we'll have to place that responsibility on someone else in two years when we leave the country. I know I can't have a pet, but that doesn't make my desire any less powerful. What do you do when you want something you can't have? My wife seems to live vicariously through pet owners who post videos on Youtube and by petting every dog she ever sees. I've been trying to let go of my desire, but letting go is often a very difficult task indeed.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

In Search of Waterfalls

I went in search of waterfalls today. In celebration of ourselves, Tuesday was our two year anniversary, my wife and I decided to hike to a waterfall and have a picnic. My wife was responsible for the food and I was in charge of finding the waterfalls.We ended up exploring a place called Bushkill Falls in Pennsylvania. I was extremely impressed with their offering of waterfalls. After a brief hike down a small canyon wall on narrow wooden stairs, faintly reminiscent of an Ewok Village, we arrived at the bottom of "Pennsylvania's Niagara", a 300 ft. waterfall. Certainly a beautiful sight, but what seemed most impressive to me was the thundering noise that a small river could produce just by falling off a cliff. Water is usually so very quiet.
We trekked through long periods of quiet interrupted occasionally by the seven other waterfalls at various spots along the river. Before today, I thought that nature could be either quiet & peaceful or loud & destructive. But today I realized that peaceful doesn't have to mean quiet. Today was a day filled with beauty, nature, good food and great waterfalls.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Remembering my childhood

Do you remember how much fun it was to stomp in the mud? I caught a glimpse of young boy playing in a mud puddle today, and memories of joy from my childhood came rushing back. For a brief moment I remembered what life was like when everything was simple and mud was fun. And then I remembered how, minutes earlier, I had taken extra special care to avoid stepping in a mud puddle as I exited my car, how funny.
I'm a strong advocate of staying in touch with your inner child, but it's also appropriate to approach some situations differently than you would have as a kid. It's ok to avoid getting your nice shoes muddy, but I do think we should all play in the mud occasionally. Not as an attempt to recreate the fun we had as kids, but as a chance to remember our old selves. Playing in the mud doesn't feel the same as an adult. As a child dancing in the mud felt like I was exploring the world and having fun. But as an adult I felt like I was exploring my past and reaching out for a sentimental connection with my childhood. Playing in the mud hasn't lost meaning, it has merely changed meaning.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Helping friends move

Yesterday I helped a friend move most of her worldly possessions into storage for the summer. Perhaps it was the company, but I actually enjoyed the experience. This has not been the case when I've had to pack up and move my own stuff.Why is moving such a different experience when it is other people's stuff? I guess it's partly because I wasn't there for the entire experience of dismantling ever single knick knack in the house and sealing them away. But it was more than that. Yesterday when I was lifting heavy boxes and televisions up long flights of stairs, I was helping a friend, something I could feel good about. When I move my own stuff, I have to say goodbye to my former lifestyle and pack the things I love in boxes where I can't use them. There's nothing worse than physical labor with the aim of sealing up your prized possessions so they can't be enjoyed.But now I know that moving can be fun. I think next time I move, I'll try to approach it from an outside perspective. I think focusing on the end destination instead of the journey may be best in this instance. While helping my friend I was excited to imagine the new places and possibilities in her future, and it was fun to be a part of that process.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Life's simple pleasures

Every so often I find a new reason to fall in love with my wife. Recently she has been filling the house with sounds of pure joy. Her new found source of laughter and joy? Videos of other people's cats. Yes, apparently thousands of people record their cats doing crazy, silly, cute activities for millions of people to marvel, laugh, and thrill to on Youtube.
She seems to have been captivated in particular by the adventures of a Japanese cat named Maru. My wife's love of life's most simple pleasures, like the silliness of cats, assures me that our life will never be boring. I adore my wife's childlike joy as she watches other people's cats. The world is FULL of beauty if we just look around us, especially at cats. I've attached a link to a video of Maru in case you want to join my wife in her fun.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

2 Year Wedding Anniversary

It seems that one of my personality quirks is a deep, unexplainable love for traditions. I love watching Christmas Vacation every Christmas, eating a bowl of chili on the first snow day of the year, and watching fireworks on the Fourth of July. Today happens to be the two year anniversary of my wedding. I've officially survived two years of marriage and here in the house of Howicks we have an anniversary tradition. Each year on May 26th my wife and I take a series of photo booth pictures in front of our door. Have a look.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Pick Me Up

There are good days and there are bad days, such is life. What I find interesting is how people deal with life's setbacks and difficulties. Personally, I view most of my life as a sitcom. So most of the awkward, painful situations I run into seem humorous and enjoyable. I'm sure this doesn't work for everyone, but it makes my life quite fun.
The Enterprise and Uhura in waffle form

But there are some situations that even American sitcoms have to treat seriously. For these moments I try to find small moments of beauty to help lift me up as time works its magic and eventually heals all pain. Today, in need of such beauty, I turned to something I've been stockpiling for such an occasion, Star Trek waffles! They're a bit like the evil witch in Snow White, beautifully stunning on the outside, but completely inferior inside. But just this once, it only mattered that they were beautiful on the outside. The fun of eating Star Trek waffles greatly outweighed the waffles' below par taste. This is one of the greatest benefits of having a deep passion for something. When things get bad, you can turn to your passions for a dose of joy and distraction.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Kindness of Strangers

Life can be surprising. Today I was surprised to see the town square filled with a massive "free market". What I initially thought was a flea market, had one very important difference. Rather than offering used items for sale, everything at the market was free. Free TVs, free rollerblades, free jumps in an inflatable castle.Even the pizza and snow cones were free. I love when people serve their community in fun, creative ways. Too many people lack creativity when it comes to community outreach. They just show up to a soup kitchen or habitat for humanity and follow orders. This world does need volunteers to feed the poor and build houses for the needy. But it also needs more people to get creative in their service.Creative acts, like acts of love, create a ripple effect as each act inspires others. Walking around the park watching others find much needed items for free and children play was a life affirming experience. Most acts of service help those in need as well as filling those who give with joy. But because this was a public activity even those not involved could be inspired. It was a great day for everyone.

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