A New Start in Life

Looking over my old posts I’m reminded of what my life used to be like, how I used to think, who I used to be. But things have changed significantly since those were written.

I was living in Adelaide until January last year. My parents took a bit of a holiday to see my cousins in Sydney after I got back from New Years Eve/Day in Melbourne. Dad came home earlier than everyone else, Mum decided to stay in Sydney for an extra week with the kids. I made a call a couple of days before Mum was due to arrive home, to a friend in Melbourne. I asked her if she could pick me up, and she said it was fine.

2am the next morning I was packing everything I owned into her car, whilst Dad was out working. She drove me back to Melbourne, and I stayed with her for a week or so, afterwards moving into what is now my girlfriend’s family’s home for maybe a month. I spent forever trying to get on to centrelink, changing my license, bank accounts, medicare, the whole deal.

Eventually my time of living with and off friends ran out. I moved out into a university student lounge for a couple of days, and then in with one of its students for a couple of weeks. I was looking for work here and there, but nothing was really available, especially not for someone with no stable housing.

I got hooked up with a youth service called Frontyard in the CBD, who couldn’t find me a place to stay. Instead, they sent me to a place called Elizabeth Hostel, where I spent all but 2 of the last 10 months. It was expensive, and they weren’t too great. But the people there were good, and a fair few of the faces that were there had been there longer than I had, and still haven’t left.

It was a bit crazy though. Some of the incidents involved: Gangbangs, stabbings, alleged rape, etc etc. It could get pretty seedy. Cops were always around the joint, you get used to it.

Naturally, loving the freedom that I had for the first time in my life I decided to experiment with all the things I wouldn’t dare do in my parents’ home. I experimented with drugs (to this day I still do on occasion, depending what is on offer), dealt once or twice, and gambled a little.

I met lots of absolutely brilliant people. We had Kyle, a DJ from Canada, was a bartender in a club called Pony in the CBD. Easygoing guy, always drug fucked, but lots of fun to be around. I tended to question his choice in friends though, even if it isn’t my place to judge them. Marcus, an old New Zealander, was funny, a little weird, and really nice. But only when he wasn’t pissed, he couldn’t handle his piss at all. Unfortunately he usually wasn’t. But he was worth diamonds on a good night. On a good night he is the nicest bloke you will ever meet. George, who doesn’t give two shits about anything. At all. If it doesn’t affect him, he doesn’t want to know about it. Spent copious amounts of time playing Peggle, Farmville, and Poker on the computer, and let’s not forget the cigarettes and pot. Okay, I could go on, but that would take forever. It’s time that I wrap this up and go to bed before I start ranting and get this to OVER9000 words.

After all this time working out what *I* wanted to do, I came to a final conclusion. That I wanted to go back to school and finish what I should have been eager to finish a few years ago. To try and get into University despite the fact I spent years talking myself out of it. I’ve found a new home, albeit still looking for one closer to my Institution, I’ve paid for all my materials, and there’s one week till I go back. This year I’m hoping to have a lot more to write about, as this will be where I’ll unload when I can’t concentrate.

Alive and Not Really Kicking

Yes, I’ve neglected my readers lately, not out of choice, but because I’ve simply had nothing to say. Content-free posts don’t interest me at all, and I’m sure they interest you just as much. But regardless, I think I’ll give you an update.

At the moment, I’m doing not much. Putting in my resume at places that need employees, reading, attempting to write, and, this is the major one, procrastinating.

I’m reading The Fountainhead at the moment, and I’ve got Atlas Shrugged sitting on my bedside table waiting for me to start it. So far I’ve enjoyed The Fountainhead, it’s a good book, despite the fact I’m only just over halfway through. Then again, I have always enjoyed philosophy for some totally arbitrary reason, it might just be little old obscure me that’s enjoying the fictional philosophy and engrossing storylines and perspectives.

Then we’ve had the attempting to write. Oh have I tried. I’ve sat in my bed several nights, with my journal or my laptop, trying to write something worthy of being published here. Naturally no inspiration came, and this is why you’ve been starved of words this last month. I’ll usually spend 20 minutes in the dead quiet trying to think of something, and then turn the music on. Then I’ll think for another half hour… and still nothing. But I suppose that if I have nothing to write, why bother?

I’m looking forward to a trip to Sydney next week, and I’m wondering what I could get the hosts that wouldn’t break the bank. I don’t like the idea of taking and not giving back, but I’m not rich either. So any ideas would be appreciated.

The Test of Time

I’m nervous writing this post… it’s odd having nothing in your head that you can just splat out on paper, a previous experience that you can walk calmly and methodically into the message you want to spread… and when your mind blanks as you so much as attempt to concoct a weak analogy. Sporadically I’ve just sat back, with some mellow music playing in the background, just trying to think up some wild analogy, something I could use to make my point. Head cocked back, eyes closed, just replaying that scene in my head… over and over again.

But then analogies aren’t entirely necessary, personal experience isn’t entirely necessary either. Sometimes I need as much of a push from my own writing as other people may at some point. Sometimes the best way to say things, is straight, without any backstory, taking a “just do it” approach to the message that I’m writing.

Jimmy Smith Junior was out on a lunch break from work… a pretty cute girl comes out while he’s in a bit of an argument with another employee. He sees her after he leaves the argument, and proceeds to walk over to her. Half of their conversation was needless, but the second half struck me.

“You wanna do something tonight?”
“Are you asking me out on a date Jimmy Smith Junior?”
“Yeah, as a matter of fact I am.”
“Why don’t you take me somewhere now?”
| 8 Mile |

It hit me like a hammer, and I started to think… that’s some people I know. That could quite easily be me. We’re asking if God would mind doing it tomorrow night, if God would mind doing it at some later date. Once I’ve got some money, once I’ve got the popularity, the fame, once I’ve grown up, once I have the resources.

But reality is, sometimes that option just isn’t there. His window of opportunity is open for you now, and it’s open for a limited amount of time. Maybe God has things like popularity and fame in store for you, but with God there is no excuse for “later” that we should feel comfortable speaking, regardless of your calling.

That window of opportunity is now. That window of opportunity opens the second God speaks to you about it. That’s why you have to act on it now. It might last forever, it might not. But chance says you should take it as soon as possible, just in case that window does close.

It’s not always you that suffers because of your excuses and your slow reactions, it’s the other people you were to work in… the countless thousands who would see your life, the many who you would speak to in your field of work. The collateral damage you could cause simply by not doing what you were called to is insurmountable.

Those people God’s destined you to change forever are worth just as much to God as you are. With that knowledge, do you feel right letting them get any less than you are? Letting them die and go to a fiery place simply because of your inability to listen to God? Your inability to obey him?

The Same Stream

The bus was dirty, then again, buses that go out this far aren’t used too much, so I suppose they weren’t too bothered about their company’s image with this route’s passengers. They were just simple aluminium seats with ineffectual brown “cushions”. They weren’t comfortable at all, but they did the job, which is, I suppose, all that matters.

The bus stops around the corner from Waterfall, still about 1km… maybe 1.5km away from the actual entrance though. So the walk there was rather bland, the only sounds; the occasional chirping of birds and the low rumble of cars on their way to the carpark. As you walk through the entrance you can see the waterfall, it becomes more and more audible with every step, and your focus changes. You no longer watch your steps, it just doesn’t seem as important anymore. You look around for a place to sit for a while, and watch the water, listen to it crash as it descends to the bottom of the falls.

I always chose one of the walls. There were tables available… but I loved the walls. They were manmade obviously, large chunks of rock cemented together, sandstone I think. There was a staircase up to the left of the waterfall. It takes you all the way up to the top of the waterfall, but if you decide to simply follow the first ledge around, you can sit on the sandstone ledge. It was undercover, the trees providing shelter from the intrusive sunlight on a summer’s day, and as you started to calm down, started breathing softly, the sounds from the birds and the water started to get louder.

Eventually I’d get up off that ledge and circle back around to the staircase, dodging the trees that frequented the area. I’d follow the staircase up, at first very wide, and then once you reached the top, narrowing into a thin path along to the top of the waterfall. If you walked on a bit further the path continued… but not for long, it quickly turned into a dirt track, which later turned into a makeshift hiking trail. The river that leads into the waterfall started to split into smaller streams as I followed it up further. The stream was fun to follow, the occasional tree forcing me to find a way around or simply find a way to cross it.

Eventually I found a small area. There was a tree to my right overhanging the stream, its branches protecting my small patch of soft grass from the bright light. The stream trickled past, every little rock, every breath of wind leaving its mark on the water, leaving a small trail where the water pushed in on its brethren’s territory, seeming almost impatient to reach the falls. Eventually I noticed the overhang, and stood up, choosing to instead sit on the overhang right over the stream. I didn’t move much, but it did affect my view of the water. When I looked down at the crystal clear water I saw my own reflection. It was beautiful, and I spent plenty of time playing with my own reflection.

The branch did eventually start to dig into me, and the ants had finally found my resting place, so I moved out of the tree to the edge of the stream again, taking one last look before I moved on. Feeling dehydrated by this point I cupped my hands, scooping up the water out of the stream as it passed by. Once… and then twice, and a third time. It was beautiful, and very refreshing. It tasted clean… unaltered. It was perfect. I had my fill, now, feeling hydrated and energised, I stood up, finally ready to move on.

About 50 metres down the track there was a cluster of trees blocking my path, It was useless trying to cross the stream, so I looked for a way around, simply walking aimlessly into the bush, hoping to find my stream again. Stray rays of sunlight penetrated the cover that the trees had tried so desperately to create, highlighting the beautiful greenery that surrounded me as I walked, and even the many shades of a damp brown that the miniature forest offered. It was special, and it was absolutely gorgeous… but it was disconcerting as well. The stream had the offer of light nearby at all times. I felt comfortable, but now, although the area was lush and gorgeous, it just felt so uncomfortably desolate.

At that point in time it was so easy to just find the nearest patch of light and sit down, trying to push my thoughts to the back of my head. To forget about the stream totally, forget about going back home. To simply admire the beauty and forget my personal concern. But sometimes it’s just not that easy. Pushing those feelings to the back of your mind, trying to rationalise not moving from where you are in case it gets worse… seems so silly when that doesn’t change the reality.

I started to retrace my steps. Those patches of sunlight seemed to go on forever, with the moist dirt and the lush green trees. But eventually I did find that stream. I found that same place where I first tasted the water. It was just as beautiful as I had remembered, and it tasted just the same as it did previously.

My God hadn’t changed at all the entire time I spent away from him. I walked with him for years, sometimes not appreciating just how beautiful he was. I walked beside him for a long time, and occasionally drifted away, finding my way back during life’s problems. I sat next to God, I tasted his presence, I saw him in the mirror sometimes when I looked at myself, God’s work in me. And yet when I had the balls to walk away it became so easy to forget that God was there, that God did indeed exist.

There is no point in looking for God in Richard Dawkins or Sam Harris, if they’re in the forest, they can’t see the stream. But personal experience… that’s what brings us to God. When I see him move, in people I know, and even my own life, that’s when no level of science or logic can legitimately dispel my belief in a God. Forgetting about your disconcertion in your current state doesn’t make you comfortable, it simply postpones your realisation, postpones your honesty with yourself.

But even after I walked away from God, when I came back he was still the same. He felt the same love and affection for me that he shares with every other being on this earth. And that is what makes my God amazing.

Nothing but Everything

I was walking to the Golden Grove Interchange today, only about 1 ½ hours ago actually. I was starting to head home from Luke’s, having just dropped his car back and watched the better part of two Pirates of the Caribbean movies with him. The sun was starting to go down on the horizon, and the road stretched towards the distance, disappearing at the peak of the hill. I crossed the road, and continued walking, traffic lights from the next intersection appearing over the hill as I reached the peak. I could hear passing cars in chorus, from a high pitched hum to a low pitched roar, with their dim, dull headlights illuminating the increasingly dark atmosphere.

I eventually did reach those traffic lights. They’re at the corner of Golden Grove Village, a small shopping centre in the north of Adelaide with a small bus interchange. I was watching the cars on the other side of the road while I waited for pedestrian lights to wave me through towards the Village. The cars sat totally stationary, their headlights seeming brighter every second as the natural light disappeared further from the day.

But there was one car out of place in the buildup of vehicles that were facing me. Amidst the dim, dull headlights of other cars, there was one exceptionally bright light coming from the centre of the pack. It was clean, with a silvery blue glow, and it looked absolutely gorgeous amidst the dirty, yellow tinged lights that surrounded it. The light turned green and my head turned to take a look at the car. It was a Mercedes SLK… I don’t remember the rest, if there was any more to its name at all.

It’s a seemingly irrelevant point in the story, just a bright light amidst a dim crowd, but that’s exactly the point. It stood out. As Christians, that’s our job, to stand out from the crowd. I won’t name people in particular, but I know there are lots of people who claim to be Christians, but simply go through the motions instead of making the commitment. These are the dim lights in this world. They’re the large crowd, the vehicles which aren’t fit for God to use. But as submissive Christians, we should change for the better with his help, we should change into that bright light, and let him change every part of us.

Once we stand out, once we’ve made that change, once we can accept criticism and accept correction, that’s when God can use us. That’s when God will feel comfortable using us.

Think of it this way. God is the most perfect being in existence, he can buy the best car that any company can offer, and intends to do exactly that. Would you be the one that God chooses? Or do you need to change so that God can find a use for you? God is the consumer, you have to change in accordance with his needs. If you don’t meet his needs, you need to change so that you do. He’ll put people in your way, in this case labourers or engineers, who will beat you, burn you, and mould you into that vehicle that God will use to visit others.

Giving your all to God and allowing him to do whatever he wants with your life is a hard thing to do, and when you work towards doing exactly that, problems will inevitably arise. There’s no denying that Satan will attack you when you give it all to God, but you simply have to trust that God will bring you through the other end. God will never allow anything to come your way if he can’t help you out of the problem. But we also have to take these setbacks as encouragement. If Satan feels it necessary to attack your progress into God’s plan for your life, then the attack must be justified must it not? If he attacks you, your future is something of value to him, your future is dangerous to him, and the closer you get to it, the harder his work gets.

Ecstasy and Doubt

Last night, or more accurately, this morning, I committed my life to God again. It’s a large leap from where I sat two weeks ago, and I still wonder whether I’m being honest with myself, or for that matter, God himself when I say I believe in him.

It’s these thoughts that rush to my mind to begin with that are easy to expel. Not because I can answer them, but because I know why I reject the answers that I’ve been given, even if scientists consider my reasons inadequate. They ask me why I reject evolution, they bombard me with statistics and quotes from my studies on Christianity’s alleged invalidity.

But then I remember those moments of pure ecstasy. At Planetshakers, and even while I was searching for God. I remember what happened when God sent me an Angel, and all of that scientific theory collapses beneath the weight of my personal experiences. You may wish to attribute my rejection to pure emotion, but the fact is I’ve never felt anything so extreme or unexplainable in my life.

But then comes the second stage of doubt. It points out my mistakes from last time, emphasises my worry. It tells me I can’t do any better than last time because I doubt too much. It nitpicks and tells me what I could do better, what I have to do better. It asks me why I think this time will be any different, and how I know I’m going to heaven.

Can I do better than last time? I honestly don’t know. Not alone I can’t. Not without the help of God and other people. But I’m sure that with help I can improve. There are some things I simply can’t rely on myself to change, and that’s why I need to accept God’s gift first instead of “readying myself” for it. Only once I accept his gift can I become a better person.

How do I know I’m going to heaven? God said so. That’s it. I am by no means positive, but I believe I am going to heaven after I die. Not because I was good enough to be a Christian, but because God’s son took my place in hell. Because God sent that Angel into my life to help me with my issues. Its not because of me that I’ll be going to heaven. It’s because of God, and the people he brought into my life.

Evolution of the Eye

I finally got through the chapter about the eye in “Climbing Mount Improbable” in between reading masses of other books. It really shouldn’t have taken me as long as it did. The chapter made a lot of sense, but I wanted to put this part of the chapter in my blog as a reminder, because he puts it very well, even if he is simply completing a quote by Charles Darwin. The quotes below are from “Climbing Mount Improbable” on pages 127 and 179.

To suppose that the eye, with all it’s inimitable1 contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic2 aberration3, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest possible degree”

“Creationists love the quotation that I gave at the start of this chapter, but they never complete it. After making his rhetorical concession, Darwin went on:

When it was first said that the sun stood still and the world turned round, the common sense of mankind declared the doctrine false; but the old saying of Vox populi, voy Dei4, as every philosopher knows, cannot be trusted in science. Reason tells me, that if numerous gradations5 from an imperfect and simple eye to one perfect and complex, each grade being useful to its possessor, can be shown to exist, as is certainly the case; if further, the eye ever slightly varies, and the variations be inherited, as is likewise certainly the case; and if such variations should ever be useful to any animal under changing conditions of life, then the difficulty of believing that a perfect and complex eye could be formed by natural selection, though insuperable6 by our imagination, cannot be considered real.”

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  1. Inimitable: Impossible to replicate
  2. Chromatic: Colour, having colour
  3. Abberation: Distortion, different from normal type or accepted standard
  4. Vox populi, voy Dei: Public opinion, a belief or sentiment shared by most people
  5. Gradations: Stages in a process of gradual change
  6. Insuperable: Impossible to surmount/overcome