I will someday explain

Strap in. It’s gonna be a bumpy ride.

I came to several conclusions yesterday. Had a drink and a quick decision. And made a surprising and unexpected discovery.

First a list of things I will eventually write about. Put here more or less so I don’t lose them.

The ugliest man I ever met.

The two cardinals who love and live out back.

Why I will not attend a open casket funeral ever again.

The World Wide Web is a monster. ITS ALIVE!!

What the little giraffe taught me.

He was a dwarf among pygmies.

In the country of the blind the one eyed man was king.

A roller coaster ride of writing.

Radio daZe

Ripe with menstrual blood of creativity.

I found suicide note on a hundred dollar bill. (Long-suffering wife: “You don’t have a hundred dollar bill.” I love her SO much)

Wow! What an embarrassment of riches. Where to start?

I literally tossed and turned all night with these ideas gestating in my brain. I should have gotten up and written but instead I let them cook. This is one of those days that I couldn’t wait to sit down and pound away.

Where to start? At the top. Right.

I came to several conclusions yesterday. Everything is correlated. Everything happens for a reason. Hang in there. This may get a little thick.

I am, as many of you know, not much on faith. I do not believe. I wish that I did. I look at faith and I know it must be a great comfort. But it also seems to me, to be inherently dishonest. No offense to those who do believe but if it has to be taken with eyes wide shut it’s not for me. I just can’t accept that.


I do look at some things that happen and wonder. They give me pause. They seem to me to be more than coincidences.

Someone said to me: “The human brain is a pattern making machine. If it can’t find one it will make one up.”

Maybe so. But in spite of my lack of faith I will bake some of what happens to me in the crucible of doubt and still arrive with some things I can not explain.

Lately I have been wrestling with several things in my life.

I have been in despair over the amount of work I am doing. The problem is that I never do enough, in my opinion. Mostly because of my Journalism class. I have been finding it almost impossible to do the work assigned in a classroom setting. And so the work has been piling up and that makes me crazy.

Yesterday, without thinking too much about it I dropped out.

Well, sort of.

You see I was auditing the class. No grade. But the prof was treating me like any other student. Which is what I wanted.

Only I couldn’t handle it.

The pressure of writing to task in a noisy distracting classroom was more than I could take. Assignments were piling up. Work undone makes me crazy. It was paralyzing me.

So I gave myself permission to fail.

And see what happened? Just take a look at all the ripe, low hanging fruit (see above idea bank) that came from untying my mind.

I will continue to use the prof (with his permission) to look at my work. And I will cherry pick the assignments that I want to do and do them. Probably even take the final exam. But I am unlatched from this disconcerting guilt of not doing the job. It’s very liberating and the truth is I will be writing more, rather than less.

That was the drink and the quick decision, a line from the Hall and Oates song, “She’s gone.” For me the drink was a diet Pepsi.

That was one conclusion. I can give myself permission to fail and be OK with it.

How does this tie in with all that gobbledygook about faith and coincidences that appears above?

Patience, grasshopper. All will be revealed.

Everything I KNOW is probably wrong. The longer I live, the more I question everything and the more doubt I have about it all.

For example:

I have been teaching this onerous (to me) CIS 107 class for 6 years now. It was designed to help students who had some computer knowledge but needed an integrated look at how to use programs in communications arenas. In many discussions with teaching peers and my boss we have arrived at the conclusion that the course is a dinosaur. That we are teaching skills the majority of the students already have a handle on.

My problem in teaching this course now is that many of the students are very knowledgeable about some things but ignorant of the rest. But that knowledge varies widely from individual to individual. So to try and teach it all to a mixed group becomes boring for some, while it moves too fast for others. There is no happy medium that I was able to find.

So I gave myself permission to quit. (Picking up a pattern here?)

I received the blessing of my boss and peers to come up with a new class that will serve the students better.

And then.

One of my more challenging students walked with me to the parking lot after class yesterday. I say challenging in this sense. This is a guy, an older student, embarking on a new career later in life. He knows a lot about the subject. He has all the skills. He challenges me in a good way, keeps me on my toes and we don’t always agree. He is a smart guy.

I told him of our plans. He was appalled.

He railed at the concept which I and my peers and my boss had just come to accept. He was just short of pissed off.

He insisted strongly that the class had continued value, that in spite of my conclusions to the contrary that it NEEDED to be taught and offered to join me in further discussions with faculty about it.

Surprising, unexpected discovery? You could not have picked up my jaw from the parking lot with a crowbar.


OK, so now, here is the thrilling conclusion wherein we tie all this together.

I have failed three times in one day.

I gave up on the Journalism class and it set me free.

I gave up on the on the CIS class and it set me free.

I learned that from at least one person’s perspective that giving up on the CIS class was wrong. This also set me free.

The coincidence that ties all this together?

Seth Godin.

Poke The Box

Poke The Box

The latest book, Poke The Box, is a call to action about the initiative you’re taking – in your job or in your life.

I am not a big fan of life-changing books or (sorry for those who this offends) weekend retreats that are supposed to change your life.

Change your life comes from inside.

But in reading this book, at this time in my life, the words and things Godin had to say resonated big time.

Especially a section titled:

The trail of failure

Godin says:

“I need to sell you on why avoiding failure is counterproductive.”

Here is the pivotal paragraph for me.

“First lets make a list of people who have made a career out of starting (and thus often failing): Harlan Ellsion, Steve Carrell, Oprah Winfrey..”

and he goes on to list quite a few more.


Harlan Ellison is WAY beyond being one of my favorite authors. Harlan Ellison.

I would like to be Harlan Ellison.

Two quick anecdotes Ellison wise:

“Dreams with Sharp Teeth” is a film about Harlan. Watching it brought me back to writing on a regular basis.

I gave a student whose writing I admire ten bucks to buy “Deathbird Stories”. He read it. And hugged me.

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About James Rising

A recovering radio addict wrestles with the written word.
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