Saturday, August 6, 2016

Adapting to Survive…In Real Time

Have you ever wondered about terms used and the definitions of some of the phrases that are floated at us in this day and age? It seems that as we grow older there is a constant need to either catch up or be left behind. As a youth, from the time we learn to crawl, walk, and then express ourselves with both emotion and forethought, we have learned to adapt to both situation and environment. It is not one of those things that is particularly difficult for most, but it can be a real trial for some.

Growing up in a small town, limited in experiential knowledge by a culture that wanted protection as well as stability in family and community, there were not a whole lot of options. It was the post-war era. It was a time where both economic growth and family values were taking yet another "turn” in its road to development, and not always for the best. Culture has a way of recycling its good and it’s bad. History tells us that some of the greatest cultures have fallen prey to both internal and external decay and destruction.  

To evaluate the extent and breadth of that statement takes much soul searching and a desire to be both objective and realistic about the past, and the path it has forged toward the future. It is so easy to either overlook or misjudge the former paradigms, those things that helped shape and mold who or what we have become, as both a people and a culture. Each following generation brings its own definition of what the past means, developed by its own interpretation of the context of that which has unfolded and how it has either affected for good or evil. Therein lies the crunch; that being the historic foundations from which the basis of the evaluation of context is being done.

OK… I know, too technical.  As a lad in the small town I had no way of knowing very much about world politics or the vast separations found in the religious outlook of people. We are generally taught first from the beliefs of our parent and organic family structures, then graduate to teachers, peers and on to a broader worldly view based on the cumulative effect that each has brought to the table. Time and the experiences shared along the way, both opened my eyes and grounded me upon a personal path that was shaped by both my family and a broader world history.

Sitting under the tutelage of religious context while also travelling outside of the boarders of small town boundaries, you soon learn that there is more to life than that which has been presented by Mom, Dad and social mores of the protective community of your childhood. That is not a given only for a small lad born to a conservative family in the back waters of Eastern Canada, it is a more universal truth for all who venture through the portals of youth, to experience the taste of life beyond the protective shield of home. Even that is not truly a fair statement of reality, as not all have benefited from a protective home and the bonus of a foundational stability based on faith, love and respect. We are molded by so many facets of life; childhood and young adulthood are only structural parts, and limited by its brevity. It is said that we have only a few short years to give stable foundational training to our children before the “world” takes hold of their thoughts, and turns their heads, hearts and motivation toward the path that may encapsulate life as they know it.

Few are those who are able to re-route their lives beyond that which has shaped, formed and engaged their thoughts and principles toward a pathway, once the groundwork of experiential knowledge begins to limit their understanding or outlook, on both present and future conditionings of developmental growth. We become steeped in the knowledge of disappointments, defeat and betrayals so early in life that is it hard to not become cynical about the act of living. In other words…. It is hard to teach old dogs new tricks. Yet we easily get into trouble when our adhesion to learned truths are either forgotten or ignored, in light of immediate need or desire. Why didn’t I just say that? It would have been so much simpler, but for those who want the truth, many of the old adages no longer meet the need to cut through the fog of easy “white-wash sentimentality”. There needs to be a bit more, to take the edge off the  historic numbness that pervades the minds of many who sit wondering what life is really all about, especially when trouble hits. It is not enough today to stick mindlessly to those old adages, that in some respects merely present calm, or assurances, “after the fact”, once the tribulation of upheaval has passed, or is yet to be faced. There has to be more to the answer in light of our human need that cries out for a directing response, when we are in the midst of the battle to survive the moment.

So, you may ask, why this tack (nautical term) on life today? You may be wondering what may have taken place this past week, or over the past month or two, that brings on this somewhat of a rant on life, and its universal cyclical nature, when the really important questions may be more related to how to get through life each day, is what may be needed? Well… here is the skinny on my reasoning. We get caught up in the “Mr. Fix-it” attitude too often. We want the answers now, and it is similar to the venture to the refrigerator or pantry when a hunger pang hits our mind. We may wander through the stocked shelves and see all those snacks, while not really developing a clear answer to the problems at hand; many of which are not related to a real hunger for food, but may only be a manifestation of either boredom or perhaps a personal psychological emptiness, that food will not fill.

Today’s computer age has taken us into the presence of daily situational discomfort, that for many leads to more questions about life, than the search for answers can provide. We face not only our own trials but almost immediately the problems of others, in life, love and the workplace, not to mention the world. While we understand and accept the fact that our forefathers related and evaluated news at basically the same level that we do today, there is also the knowledge that time has made the immediate dissemination or broadcasting of information, both a formidable and confusing environment in which we find ourselves. For the Christian child who is suddenly confronted daily with “new truths” being propositionally imposed either by academic study or merely by peer pressure, to conform to another’s understanding of truth as related, there are extreme pressures afoot. Add to this a profound presence of evil that pervades the human essence, still occurring in a world awaiting rebirth, and we are confronted by an uneasy unrest that leads to uncertainty that is as diverse as it is many.

We tend to deal in futures like people who follow the stock market in commodity trading. We want to know what the future holds and if things will get better… is there hope for what I am gambling on daily? Adaptation here is not a “foul” word that leads down to hell and destruction. I am not debating the idea of evolution versus creation here. In coping with situations in daily life, there has to be a certain level of adaptation, if we are to survive. We are given meaningful choices that we can make. Many of those choices are not easy; many will need a soul searching or introspective evaluation of what is both before us and from whence we have come; being what has engaged the situation before us. Daily life is a maze of choices that are dependent upon both our ability to appraise what is really taking place and our coping skills that very often may be put to the most severe of tests. For the faint of heart, even this daily cyclical routine can be overwhelming. But what of the rest of us? Are we more capable, more resilient than the rest? Is there something special about those who can forge ahead when even the stoutest of hearts and constitutions are adrift in disillusionment  with life? What factor in the human presence seemingly keeps some immune to the scratches of living from turning into a festering septic sore in life that is both debilitating and paralyzing?

The key may be found in that contemporary computer term, “living in real-time”. Ok … the phrase I used here has the added term of reference “Living in” to augment context to the reference found in my blog today. As we struggle to cope daily we certainly are directed by our present situations, but we are also driven by both our past (that from which we have come) and our desire to know (at least some level) and understand the future. The complicated issue that is at hand here is complex, as it holds for most the prevalence of our ability to handle both regret and fear. Regret is a powerful drug in itself, but when we add the element of fear (in respect to future) to the mix, a daily scale of balance in living the “Good Life” can go somewhat amuck! So why consider real-time living and how does, or can, it make a difference?

According to Merriam Webster the definition is stated as “… the actual time during which something takes place
For the person who finds themselves literally on fire, they are told to stop, drop and roll. To put out a grease fire on the stove top we are told not to use water, but to smother the flame with salt, a heavy blanket, or if it is in a pot, to jamb on the lid. We respond to those needs conditioned by learned procedure that is accepted practice. Is there a part of us that feels that external elements of reality are different that internal ones? Because we internalize life situations such as sickness, heartbreak or loss, to be something we can’t smother, throw salt on or extinguish somehow, (both literally and physically) and there is no answer left for us, but the fabric of our cross to bear…  Can we be easily convinced that there is or can be a reprieve for us?

We have a plaque in our home that says, “When life becomes too hard to stand… kneel… pray!” I am not one to understand the fullness of the concept of all of life’s adages or do I make a great deal over people spouting their life’s principles as if theirs is the only answer to how I can survive. I am a searcher who is seeking truth beyond my fragile state, trying to make sense of those things that happen both in my weakness of body and mind. I know that Satan is real and because of that I acknowledge that God is real. I have felt Satan’s power on my mind and I thank God for His power over evil and His Grace to forgive me on a daily basis.

Moment by moment we all face the “stuff” that comes our way. Some things are gut busters, others are blessings. We don’t try to understand the blessings, but we struggle to agonize through the horrors of that we cannot change; things that may be life changers or bring us to the very brink of our existence. They may be as simple as stitches in a knitting pattern that have confused us, but they can sometimes drive a weakened and tired soul to distraction and cause such deep soul upheaval.

Near the edge, in those moments, we need adaption and change is not always a bad thing. There we need to begin to rest in the moment as it is, not in what we consider that it should be, and it is then that we begin to find peace. Someone may search methodically to find that one stitch missing for a time, others systematically go over the column of numbers to find an incorrect post so as to justify the end balance…. Others, no longer able to stand, just kneel. It is adapting to survive… in real time. Today are you living too near the edge? Are you one of the searchers for both living in blessing, as well as peace? Well, you may not always find any answers here… I surely don’t come close to having many of them, but God does! Someone once stated that I must have “all” the answers with my education (a criticism), life experiences and travel, but I don’t! What I have found is that I don’t really know anything much at all. I have to rely on God every day, because as I fall down, and I do, He both picks me up and sets me walking again… in real time… moment by moment.

I write only to acknowledge that I am living near the edge. The edge for me is often uncertainty about personal health, the welfare of my family and the state of the world in which we live. But, it also helps me rehearse my journey, and reminds me that I, like most, am struggling to learning to better cope daily, especially as I age. I am however finding it more difficult each year to keep up with the racing pace of a changing world and feeling like I am being left behind in so many ways. Here in this juncture of life I must rely more and more on He who created, and He who sustains, and He who forgives when I fall short of His desire for my life. “He” is my God and salvation… to Him I give thanks… in real time! This is how I practice real time living as an aid in maintaining a sense of presence in a complex world.