Easter has always been a time of reflection for me. A time to reflect on family, on career, on my life in general.
This year, I've taken some time to reflect on my writing as well. You might not know this, but before I used WordPress, I kept a blog on Blogger. Before that, I had a LiveJournal.
Before that, I had a notebook on my desk.
It's been revealing to go back through my various writings to see where exactly I've come from and try to trace the route from where I was to where I am now.
I've always tried to be at least one thing: intentional. Before I do something, I try to consider the reason I'm doing it. If I don't have a good reason, I don't do it.
I started keeping a journal so I could keep a record of my prayers as I moved through life - everything I ever asked God for was written down in a book so I could follow up later. Did He say "yes?" Did He say "no?" Did I change my mind about what it was I thought I wanted?
I kept maintaining an online journal (a blog) because I wanted to somewhat anonymously engage others with my thoughts. My LiveJournal, and at least 2 Blogger accounts, were under pseudonyms so I could post my thoughts - and get feedback from others - without revealing anything too personal.
I state cryptically now and again that I have specific goals for this site as well - that's very true. I started in January with a goal to publish a new article every day in 2014, and that's far more than a new year's resolution.
Occasionally, though, a goal on which I embark is a bit unreasonable.
I set out to run a marathon - and accomplished my goal (three times). Today, though, I rarely run and have lost most of the distance endurance I built up. I've blamed injuries and a heavy schedule, but the honest reason I don't run much anymore is laziness.
I enjoy the feeling of crossing the finish line. I enjoy the warm feeling after a run. I don't enjoy waking up at 5am to run in the wind and the rain so I can keep my miles up. That one "don't" has, over time, outgrown and outweighed all of the things I do enjoy about running.
Will I get back into running? Honestly I don't know. I recognize that it's good for me, and I know I'll enjoy it in the long run, but if I'm being truly, 100% honest with myself I have to say it's not going to happen in the immediate future (i.e. the next several months)
I have other priorities right now, and claiming anything otherwise would be a failure of honesty and intentionality.
As I was reviewing some of my older writings, I came upon an interesting piece I wrote in 2007 after a chance encounter with a homeless man in downtown Portland:
Jimmy [was] 44 and grew up outside of Albany, near Scio off I-5. He never went to college and is self-educated as a painter. He travels up and down the I-5 corridor trying to find work, but has little luck as an artist. During Halloween and Christmas he finds plenty of odd jobs doing artwork in restaurants, but the rest of the year is filled with under-the-table help here and there.
Jimmy commented on how proud he was of Portland to create someone like me - allegedly the only ... college graduate he's seen that doesn't smoke, drink, or do drugs. I'd like to think there are more "me's" out there, but Jimmy assured me that I'm a rarity and expressed how honored he was to shake my hand. He then passed on to me his philosophy on life:
If you're real with yourself, you'll be real with everyone else. You can't be real with anyone unless you're real with yourself first.
I've spent much of my life trying to be real to myself first, then real to everyone else around me. It starts with being intentional about my actions and words, and carries through to being honest about everything I do.
Today is a great opportunity for me to sit and reflect on whether or not my attempts at integrity, intentionality, and honesty have paid off. And whether or not those attempts would be recognized by the people around me for whom they're intended.
What will you be reflecting on this Easter?