Well, given how infrequently I update this ol' personal blog, I think it's about time I moved things over to JKRiki.com permanently. It's updated every Monday, after all! Plus I'm going to be upgrading it in the next few months to include links to other spots I hang out online, such as my new digs at Instagram. If you're looking for me in the meantime, check over here!
If you're a Creativity Newsletter subscriber at JKRiki.com you already heard this story, so forgive me for repeating it. Recently I realized the Year of the Monkey is fast approaching, which means it's been 12 years or so since Fred the Monkey and company hit the Internet.
I really wanted to do something to celebrate. Yet I've been out of the "game" so long that I had no idea where to start. Well, I did have an idea where to start, but the sheer work involved was overwhelming. At any rate, I hope to at least make a little "happy year of the monkey" video message to send to everyone. It won't be animated, but hey, it... um... *trails off muttering*
I got a comment from D Shwizzle (bet you 10 bucks that's an alias) on the blog the other day, reminiscing about the olden days. It was a great little pick me up that came at just the right time. I had been feeling a little down about the abandonment of FtM considering I wouldn't have a new cartoon for the Year of the Monkey in a week or so. A reminder that it was there for people while I used to do it was a nice boost.
Those days are gone, and while I'm still interested in doing the occasional Fred cartoon (someday, which I hope I live to see) it's nice to revisit the memories. As I fired up Flash and stared at the old FtM House Background Asset, I returned for a moment to times when my days were filled with Fred work. I must admit, it was a much more stressful, difficult time, but there were bright spots too.
I hope everyone is set to have a great Year of the Monkey in 2016, and I'll keep you posted if I manage to get anything together to celebrate the occasion! Maybe I can do a piece of Fred art, at least. Though... sometimes illustration is more work than a whole cartoon, ha ha.
Please note: Posts here older than June 24th, 2015 should be considered officially archived. I am not removing them, but in the ten years that I have been writing on this blog I have changed a great deal. Things beyond this point should be considered outdated at best, and may contain many errors or opinions I no longer hold. These things tend to happen as you grow and live life. Or at least, they hopefully happen as you try to become a better person as you age! I just want readers to be aware of that, so that if you decide to go poking through history you will know that it doesn't necessarily reflect my current or future views.
If you'd like current thoughts and posts, please visit JKRiki.com for regular scheduled updates that provide better insights and information. Thanks!
There's a guy who calls in after every Pirates game to the local radio station named Chuck from Union Town. (That isn't his real last name, I believe, but what they call him on the radio.) Today is his birthday, and yesterday he said it would be a great present if the Pirates won. They did! So happy birthday Chuck!
The baseball victory was also a good birthday present for me, but I'm guessing they won for Chuck. And that's alright, I'll enjoy the win anyway.
I wonder if Chuck would want to come over and we can have cake together for a joint birthday celebration?
June is just around the corner, which means this year will be half-over soon. It was a very long first half, if you ask me. Partly because I choose to look at it that way. I reflect on how long ago certain January events seem and it helps to stretch that time out. Some people say it flew by in a blink, and they can hardly believe it's already June. I could probably feel that way if I wanted to, but why rush through life and reflect that it's going so quickly? Time slows down when you sit and decide time is moving slowly. It's a mindset.
Anyway, I decided to take a long look at my Goal List for 2015 again, since it's been a little while since I checked it over. Some things are crossed off, like "Write a Guest Post" and "Complete Ukrainian Egg Show." Many items are not. I still need to organize the garage, and the weather is finally nice enough to do it, so I'm the only thing standing in the way. My book on Creativity is also on the list, and it sits on the little shelf next to my desk begging to be finished. I need to just DO it. (I think I'll resolve to spend all of next week on solely that!)
I thought I'd talk on the blog a little bit about those goals of mine to see if maybe you, dear reader, need to take a moment to reflect? Using the glass-half-full/empty analogy, this year may be half over but there's still a solid half to go! If you've been waiting to start something you planned for 2015, there's no time like the present. Start now. You don't have to finish today, but you can begin today.
On Monday there will be a big transitional announcement here on the blog so that I can get a head start on Part 2 of 2015. I hope you'll stop by and check it out!
I am feeling particularly apathetic at the moment, which is not a very good deal at all. The Relient K song (Apathetic Way To Be) is constantly playing on the radio in my brain, and generally speaking I'm doing a pretty lousy job of being enthusiastic about life. Which makes no sense, but here we are.
This stems from several things, but the biggest one is a long, complicated story about my church, and specifically a bell tower that needs a $20,000 repair. I don't want to spend twenty thousand dollars repairing a useless tower. There's not even a bell in it anymore. Do you know what $20,000 could do for the world? A lot. It's very, very hard for me to justify such a cost on an old bell tower instead. If there was a bigger purpose for the project, I'm alright with that. Unfortunately it's a large, pointless tower that will never be used again. It's in too bad shape, and truthfully if we needed a bell it would work just as well in any other place in the building. Bell towers are a great piece of history that doesn't make sense in 2015.
So essentially all I'm doing currently is arguing with imaginary people in my head about how foolish I think it is to get a loan to shore up a failing tower with no purpose. I've heard several reasonably compelling arguments to go with this proposed plan and repair, but none have been more compelling than the fact that $20,000 could dramatically change the lives of a LOT of people, and frankly that's the direction I'd rather put my time and energy (and money, though I don't really have any of that anyway). It's depressing, because most of the time my church is very good about being fantastic stewards and caring about people. When it comes to the building, though, there seems to be a pretty big blind spot. And me, I'm apathetic about the whole thing. I just don't care anymore, and that's a very dangerous place to be, because it's spreading past just a building issue and disenchanting me from life in general.
This will pass. It's a dark gray cloud that can't possibly last. Still, it's rarely any fun being under the clouds that spring up. At least some great lesson is bound to come from all this.
Part of that lesson, if I'm honest, is that this is a magnified version of what I'm not content with myself about anyway. Namely that I do a piss-poor job of being unselfish. When there is $20,000 on the line it is easier to see my selfishness. Yeah, I'd love to plunk down 20k for my own comfort to stay in the situation I know. That number makes it exceptionally hard for me, though, to put my comfort over a great many others. Meanwhile I do the same thing every day, just not with the number 20,000 attached. I live very comfortably while a lot of people are suffering. I came across a verse from Luke the other day:
“What should we do then?” the crowd asked.
John answered, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.”
Do you know how many shirts I have? TOO many. I literally have too many, they clog up the closets.
Now, this verse is very likely not about "shirts" but something much deeper. Still, it works on a very shallow level too. I have two (many more than two) shirts. It is my job to share one with the one who has none. The world says I need a lot of shirts, but I totally do not. I need one, to keep the sun off my back in summer, and stop me from freezing to death in winter. The rest is my own vanity.
I'm just really sick of being me, but clearly not yet sick enough to change. And that's awfully frustrating.
(Also please note this post is written by me for me, and I'm not sitting here preaching "Sell all you own and give to the poor!" That's not my call to make for anybody's life. All I know is I'm supposed to do better than I'm doing, and I'm never going to be happy until I do what I'm supposed to do. This bell tower is a brilliant, shining beacon shaking me out of being overly comfortable, because I still have a lot of growing to do.)
While at the FMX, I stayed with Ferdinand and his wife, Jana, in their amazing third-floor apartment in Ludwigsburg. It was such a cool space. All the rooms had slanted roofs along one wall, and I barely fit in the bathroom.
You'd think that size issue would be a downside, but I didn't see it that way. It fit the experience so perfectly. We would sit in the little kitchen at the top of the building and talk late into the night. Really deep conversations that made me happy to be alive. It was so interesting because much of the time routine stops me from having such conversations at home. Things like TV interrupt these moments. With no TV or phone to distract me I was able to sit and drink tea and talk about the ways of humans and the Universe with dear friends. It was magical, and I think my most cherished memory of the whole trip.
As I increase my tendency to take steps back and look at larger pictures in life, I find myself more and more fascinated by the desire to fight, so often seen on places like Twitter. Whether the battles are one v. one or (more often) one v. an idea or a group of others, we sure do like to take stands and force our opinions onto the whole of society. What's enthralling, when you stop to stare at it as it happens, is that for the most part people are just fighting for their way. The way they think is best. They want everyone else to conform to them, because they seem to know better (at least in their own minds). And the funny part about it is that it's exactly what the side they're fighting against is doing, too. None of us are very different, when you really look deep.
I myself spent a lot of time acting this way, and admit I'm far from cured of it. I think what's changed is now I most often present my ideas in a much more intimate way. (Or, truthfully, TRY to.) I have conversations with people in front of me in the real world, and explain my thoughts without attempting to force them to change. It's a very different way of approaching things, and to me it feels much more genuine. It feels less like shouting and more like walking arm in arm towards hopeful improvement. It's sharing, rather than trying to manipulate. It requires a great deal of letting go of control, I must admit, and that's where the struggle of it lies. You have to make peace with the fact that all you can do is speak what you think is truth, and then anything else is the decision of the listener. I see a lot of similarities between that and storytelling, where you try to tell the story you want but it is always in the hands (and minds) of the audience. What they receive of your offering is completely up to them, not you. (Though that doesn't stop storytellers, myself included, from trying desperately to force desired outcomes!)