Monday, August 29, 2011

Shifter Marks on the Long Way Home

Well, we’ve been covering some pretty deep subjects lately. I’m still so amazed at all the openness and insight you guys shared. I started doing these blogs as a kind of therapy for me, I never expected...I don’t know how to put it into words. I never expected that it would be this rewarding for me. Since this edition is about what makes us happy, you should know that writing it and discussing it with you has brought me great happiness. I know that I’ve said it before, but I sincerely thank you all for meeting me here and in our discussion emails. So, in light of this I thought maybe this week we’d take a break from hurting our brains and talk about a different kind of subject. Let’s talk about all the things that make us happy.


This is the third time that I have written this one. Every time I start out keeping it light hearted and funny, I end up getting too deep again. Let me just say that the greatest sources of happiness in my life are My Wife, My Daughter, and My Granddaughter and I’ll just stop there. I think that’s a given with all of us, our families are what make us the happiest. Let’s just stick to the stupid quirky little things that we all love so much. This one is going to stay fun. It may be a little short but I don’t care. I’m here to have fun this time!

First up, XM Radio. Oh hell yeah! XM makes me so happy. It’s one of the greatest inventions ever. No more commercials, no annoying DJ. It’s fracking awesome! Never again in my life will I have a vehicle without XM. When I first got it I called 2 local radio stations, The John boy and Billy Show, and Walton and Johnson. I told them all that XM should be paying them because their BS drove me right to satellite radio! True story. I loathe talk radio and for a channel to be nothing but music-genius. Kind of like my DVR. That thing makes me extremely happy. I never watch anything live anymore. I start a recording then wait an hour to begin viewing, skip all the commercials during playback and enjoy the show. DVR- couldn't live without it.

That leads right into the next topic, my IPOD. A gift from God and my wife. Love it, take it everywhere I go. 1,642 songs and growing. As far as that goes, music in general. Music can change your mood and put a smile on your face in an instant. You know you had a “song” with your first love. Come on, you know you did. I believe songs from our past mark times in our lives. Times that maybe you romanticize and wish you could relive. If you’re like me, when you hear that “song” boom, you’re 16 again for a few seconds. And of course, that brings the happiness.

Just like music, smells do the same thing for me. Yeah I know, you’re thinking “Lloyd you’re being pretty stupid on this one.” But wait, I can prove it. Well at least to people I went to kindergarten and first grade with. To those classmates, next time you get a chance walk into the little red brick school house we went to together. I promise you, the first thing you’re going to notice is the smell. And that’s going to make you smile. That place still smells exactly like it did in ‘76 and when I walk in there all the great memories come flooding back. To me it’s construction paper and glue. Let me know what you think it smells like. I read that smell is the strongest trigger of memories in humans and I believe it. I once woke up from a dream about my grandmother, the one who raised me. Tears were in my eyes and I was kind of hyperventilating. Robin was holding me asking “what’s wrong, what’s wrong?” because nothing like that had ever happened before (or since). I managed to say “I’m not upset, I’m happy. I was dreaming about Mee-maw and I can still smell her.” That was an awesome day. I hope I get to do that again. Smell, I”m telling you.

Our animals make me happy. Like really happy. For Robin and me, they’re our children. Two German Shepherds and two cats. We all live in the house together. There’s hair everywhere. Some of the stuff they do and get into is so hilarious. And when I get home from work, you would think I was Jesus coming back to rescue his flock. Look, my two dog’s think I’m God, and if you come over don’t dare tell them different! The two cats are something else. A laser pointer and cat, that’s some funny shit right there. One cat is a little person in a fur coat and the other is a worthless slug. The slug did make me pretty happy the other night though. Robin asked me to get him out of our bedroom. However she didn’t specify how. I had this freon horn on my desk and....well that made me happy!

Near the end of my drive home from work there’s an intersection where if I take a left I can shorten my drive time. If I go straight my drive is about 2 or 3 minutes longer. The first way takes me through a bombed out looking area that Katrina had her way with. There are a few sets of steps that no longer lead up to houses. Overgrown lots and empty slabs. It’s a much shorter route, but there’s certainly not much to look at. But the second way, ah the second way. Though longer, this route takes you over a short but high bridge. As you come over the top of the bridge you can begin to see the sea meeting the sky. The road slowly turns eastward as you descend and the white sand beach of south Mississippi unfolds before you. The sight of the sun coming up over the blue water and the white sand can bring happiness to even the grumpiest dwarf. Some days the water and the sky are so nearly the same color, you can’t tell where one ends and the other begins. The way I look at it I’ve just spent 12 hours looking at nothing but steel and concrete, I want to see something beautiful. So, going the long way definitely makes me happy. Frost would be so proud! 8-)

So here’s the deal with the title Shifter Mark. I was at my masseuse's office and she asked me if I had been doing well lately and if I was happy. At that time I was sitting and taking my shoes off. I looked at my left shoe and there was a dark black mark over the big toe. I told her “Well I have a nice shifter mark so I must be doing pretty damn good.” She’s also a motorcyclist and instantly knew what I meant. If you have a bike then you know. That mark meant that I had been on my bike recently, and if I’ve been on my bike then a lot of things in my life have been going right. Riding for me is almost a religious experience. The peacefulness, the freedom, everything about being “in the wind” makes me happy. Most days my back has me feeling like a broken old man, but when I feel good enough I’m on that bike. So now, the shifter mark has become a metaphor for how my level of happiness. If my shifter mark is dark then I’m one happy little boy.

There you go, short but sweet. Those are just a few of the things that make me happy. I wish I could be more clever or come up with more anecdotes but when it comes to happiness I’m a pretty simple straight forward guy. Most people say that I don’t look happy, but believe me that’s just the way my face was made 8-) I’m not unhappy, I just don’t smile much. Credit 4 years in braces for that. BTW one day I’m going to dance on my orthodontist’s grave and that’s going to make me really happy. Oh I’m just kidding. Maybe.

So what kinds of things make you happy? Care to share? Maybe I’m overlooking something that could really bring me joy. What’s your shifter mark, and what’s your long way home? Help a brotha out. Inquiring minds want to know!

Until next time, I’ll be sitting here listening to Buffet and watching the sun go down. See you when I see you my friend. LL

***Here are a few bonus happinesses with less detail: McRibs. Dirt roads. The fact that I wrote this all in Comic Sans. Men who can type (and not the little peckers that can’t). Waking up in 70634. Our Church Family. Irony. Mercury Dimes. Wrestling. Karma. Golf, I haven’t played in 3 years but it still makes me happy. HDTV. Calling 337-463-3511. Astronomy. Mitch Hedberg. Boudin. A 6-4-3. Watching episodes of The Six Million Dollar Man (I have them all, and the TV movies.) Singer/Songwriters. A good baseball game. Facebook for bringing us together again. Banana Pudding. Sailing. Calling into work and telling them that I ain’t gonna be there today. Blue water. Eddie Murphy Raw. Where’s the beef? And starting sentences with And.

Monday, August 22, 2011

More Than Yourself

This one didn't really "write itself."  Send me some feedback on it.  LL

We love a lot of things. We love our families, our friends, and our ideals.  Our capacity to love is one of the key ingredients in our humanity.   The Bible says “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

My wife and I were having a conversation once about a person who has a drug and alcohol problem.  We were talking about all that it has cost that person’s young son.  For the sake of this blog let’s call him or her “Chris”.  One of us said, I can’t remember which one it was, “Chris loves drugs and alcohol more than he loves his son.”  Then I said, “No, Chris loves HIMSELF more than he loves his son.  He’s choosing what makes Chris happy over what would make the son happy.  That started me thinking, just how many people do I love more than I love myself.  I hadn’t looked at love quite this way before and I was very surprised that when it got down to it, there really weren’t that many people that I loved more than myself.

I had an experience when I was young where someone very important to me chose himself or herself over me, and I have never gotten over that.  I hold on to that and it’s a part of the fabric of who I am. Perhaps that’s why I believe that we only love very few more than we love ourselves. Don’t get me wrong; we love a great many people in our life.  We love our friends.  We love our relatives, well some of them.  We love our pets.  Our Hummers that have never been off a paved road.  Shit, I love my 8 iron, I’d fight someone over that club!  And I like apples, do you?  I love being a Democrat, how ya like them apples?  Sorry, score one for the blue team.  Where was I?   Oh yeah, we love ourselves.  We spend our time and money doing the things that bring us joy.  Our appearance, our lifestyle, our quiet time alone.  Our material possessions.  We are our own first priority.  

The Ancient Greeks had 3 different words for love.  For the sake of this blog I’ll try to simplify them as best my tiny brain can.  The first type of love is Eros, which is erotic love, infatuation.  It could be a man and a woman or a persons love of something material such as fine diamonds.  The second type of love is Philos, which is based on friendship between two people.  Does that look familiar?  You can see that word today in Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love.  The third type of love is Agape, and many of you have probably heard that word or know it from a church sermon.  Agape is unconditional love.  God’s love for us is agape, and a great many of us have agape for God.

Perhaps in today’s modern world we need more than one word for love.  I can think of many of my loves that would fall into the Greek’s 3 types of love.  The type of love that I’m talking about here would most likely be agape.  Unwavering and unconditional love for another.

So now that we’ve talked about all we love and all the ways we love I’d like to get back to my statement or maybe state it in the form of a question.  I want to know, do you think I am wrong in that we only truly love a small number of people more than we love ourselves?  Remember from the last blog, the answer could be “I don’t know” lol.  In the case of “Chris”, he has no-one in his life that he loves more than himself.  He as forsaken all his family and friends for what brings him pleasure.  He cares only about his own happiness. Maybe my personal experience leans me to one side of that question.  I can think of the people I love more than I love myself.  I won’t state that number here but when it really gets down to it, and I won’t use a cliché such as “I’d die for” because that’s too cliché, it’s a small number.  If you agree with me is your number small or large?  Chris’ number is zero.  I can’t imagine that anyone of us has a double-digit number, I didn’t get that high myself.  If you have a number like that I wholeheartedly envy you.

As I’m getting older my number is also shrinking.  Spending time with the ones you love is so important.  I know I stressed that in the media blog but it’s so true.  Most of you are my classmates or about my age.  We’ve lost some grandparents.  We’ve lost some parents.  Some of us have experienced the worst pain, the loss of a child.  It gets painful, really painful.  Spend time with those special people that make up your number.  Tell them how much you love them, tell them about Agape.

As always I hope I made you think a little and I hope that I didn’t offend you.  I’m just a little blue guy in a big red world.  I have nothing but Philos for each of you.  I’ll see you when I see you ~LL

Sunday, August 14, 2011

I don't know

Sorry for being a little late getting this one up, I've had a rather busy week.  I'll try to put up one blog per week.  I hope you're all doing well and thank you for all the positive feedback.  LL

Things I don't know

There are a lot of things that I don't know. Really. Tons of them. But what I'm talking about my not be what you think. I'm talking about the deeper things. Things we hold on to, things we see as our core values.

The easiest subject for me to point out is religion. Is there a God? Am I part of the right religion? Am I serving God and will I go to heaven? These are all questions we think we know the answers to, correct? But my answers are different than your answers, so I'm not going to heaven and you are? We're both going? I'm Protestant and you're Catholic, who's right? How many thousands have died over that question? Baptist and Pentecostal, who's right? I won't even broach the subject of Islam.

So let me share with you my answer to all these questions; I don't know.

A great friend of mine shared a phrase that I have come to apply as one of my core values. He said “I'm smart enough to know that there are things I don't know.” That's genius. Another phrase I read said “Religion is man's attempt to answer questions that he doesn't have the answers to.” I don't think I quite agree fully with the second quote, but I do see where it's coming from. Do I as an individual believe in God? Yes Lloyd Lambert believes in God and in heaven and hell. I may be wrong...I don't know. And that's OK. (Somewhere Martha Lou Roberts just cringed because I started another sentence with and)

Still on the subject of religion, let's look at this from an engineering stand point. Let's say you're building a person. You need a skeleton, then blood, flesh, skin, eyes and then what? You need a spirit to put in it to make it a person. I think we all agree we have a spirit, that thing that makes me me and you you. Where does it come from? You could say the flesh and blood comes from your parents, well where does your spirit come from? In my own personal opinion, it comes from God. However, I don't know for sure. But that is my belief and my faith.

My hope and prayer, seriously, is that man evolves enough to accept one another's religion. If we all realize that it's OK to say “I don't know”, we could all live much more peacefully. I feel like I've reached this point personally.  I am a Baptist, a Southern Baptist and I carry a bible given to me by a Seventh Day Adventist preacher.  I have friends that are Wiccans.  I have a great many friends that are Catholic.  I also have friends that are Atheists.  All those people I love and respect, and a member of each of those faiths reads this blog.   I deplore the religions that kill in the name of their God. Christians like me have done that and right now many other beliefs are killing in the name of one God or another. To kill is wrong, no matter what the inspiration.

I believe that a lot of people believe what they believe only because their religion is that of their parents. Mom and dad were X so I am too. That's OK, but please have the open mind to consider that what you believe may not be 100% correct. I personally don't believe my chosen religion is fully correct in all the things we do. I sometimes disagree with our preacher's sermon and views. But the real answer is “I don't know.” I wasn't raised in a church. I wasn't exposed to a regiment of going to church like a lot of my friends. I wasn't baptised until I was 31, so I feel like I chose my religion as an adult and found the one that was best for me. I feel like those facts allow me to be a bit more objective when looking at faith as a whole.  Religion may not be as strong in me as it is in those of you raised in a church, simply because I wasn't exposed to that environment as a child. I'm sure it's much harder for a life long X parishioner to consider that his or her view isn't 100% correct. But please, if you do anything, just consider that other religions think they are correct too and let's just agree to disagree and move on together.  Whoever ends up being right can rub it in when we all get to heaven.  For now let's move on together.

In life, we can simply apply “I'm smart enough to know that there are things that I don't know” to just about every philosophical question. Here are a few examples: The Big Bang, Nature vs. Nurture (a personal favorite), Life, Death, Ginger or Mary Ann? There are just too many to count. It's OK to not know the answer. Really. Don't waste your precious time here on Earth burning up your mind with questions that you simply can not truthfully answer. To have an idea of the answer, a feeling, a belief, that's OK. Just realize you may be in fact wrong. I could be wrong for writing this-I don't know.

So, hopefully I have made you think a little. And as always I hope to have not offended you or made you want to go all Jihad on me.  "I don't know" isn't the answer to all the open questions. Some of the questions for which we do not have answers need to be solved. See you when I see you, LL

Oh and personally, Mary Ann

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Media

You may not believe this, or may not think this is possible, but I don't read the paper or watch the news.  At all.  I do get some news.  I read the Google News headlines and maybe click on one or two stories a day.

The reason for my media boycott?  Very simply, its almost all bad news.  Death, crime, scandal, war etc...  These are not the kinds of things that I want to put into my life.  Garbage in, garbage out.  We've been turned into a culture of near morbid curiosity.  We're bombarded with the "Drama of the Day".  Let me site a few examples of late.  Amy Winehouse.  Casey Anthony.  The Oil Spill.  Lybia.  Tiger Woods.  A few Senators caught doing the nasty.   As long as there has been media, they have done just about anything to increase their profits. Got to sell the papers ya know.  Got to sell the papers.

My advice is not to stop watching the news if you like it.  Hell one time I was playing golf and went into the clubhouse after 9 holes to get a drink.  I told Ed the bartender "Man the course is empty today."  He said "Yeah everyone's getting ready for the hurricane."  I was like "OH SHIT I GOTTA GO."  lol Neither my wife nor I had watched or read any news in who knows when and we had a little hurricane right up on us.  So some news is a good thing.   My only advice to you on this topic is to not be a sheep.  If you want to put some factual news into your mind thats very cool with me.  But if you're racing home to watch the next Casey Anthony's trial, you're wasting your precious time on Earth.  Instead try taking your kids out for ice cream.  Kick back on the porch with your wife and tell the things you probably don't tell her but should.  Bake a cake.  lol Do anything with the people you love instead of watching some whacked out bitch who killed her precious little girl.  You get ZERO value out of watching shit like that. ZERO.  C'mon you see that don't you?  On the other hand, You get enormous value spending time with your loved ones.  Those hours you spent watching that trial, you could have spent with your mom or dad.  Anyone who has a grandparent left, I shouldn't have to point this out to you.

Granted, there are things I do like sit here at this computer that really don't add any value to my life.  I know I'm not perfect, not even remotely close.  It all comes down to choices.  Get some real value for your time, don't put that trash news into your life.  Don't let the paper spin you up.  If you must read the paper stick to the comics!  Just choose wisely.

I hope that next time a hot must see Drama of the Day comes on the news, you missed it because you were at the park with your family.  Again, this is only my opinion.  LL

So I Created a Blog

Hello all.  Welcome to my brain.  I've been tossing around the idea of blogging for a while now, and now I finally decided to go with it.  Hopefully it will help me release some of the thoughts and images that clutter my mind.  Believe me, there are a lot of 'em in there.  And (thats right I started a sentence with and) it will help relieve my poor facebook friends of having to read my near daily rant posts.  I know I have a slightly, well let's not say slightly lets say hugely, different view of life than most.  I like to make people think.  Sometimes people see my views as helpful, some find them amusing, and some are highly offended. 

I fully realize that people are going to disagree with me on things.  I am more than happy to agree to disagree with anyone.  I'm only giving you my opinion, I'm not trying to MAKE you believe as I do.  So, let's go.  First blog to start.