I’ve driven on motorways and interstates and highways, but my favourite name for big roads is freeways. It captures that windows-down-radio-up feeling better than the other words—the speed and freedom of four wheels and a smooth road combined. Freedom to travel. Freedom to move fast. Freedom to stop whenever I want to. It feels good to be free.
Of course, this freeway freedom does come with a few rules. A speed limit, for example, and lines on the road that mark my lane, and some lanes that go one way and some that go the other. Simple enough, but very important—without those lines and rules, the freeway would be a death trap. Imagine driving on a freeway with no lanes, no directions, no rules. In one way it would be even more free, in the sense that you could use the road however you wanted to. But with everyone using the road as they saw fit for themselves, no one would be able to use it well, and a lot of people would end up seriously injured. That’s why we accept the rules of the freeway. We know that these boundaries actually give us more freedom to move quickly and safely to our destinations.
Continue reading The Free Way
I wasn’t born in a barn, but I did live in one for a while. My parents had bought some land in the country, and the barn went up fast. Construction of the house was slower, so we lived in the barn while it was being built. There was no insulation, and in most of the internal doorways we hung curtains instead of actual doors. I remember shaking my shoes out before I put them on in the morning to make sure there were no scorpions inside. I also remember being happy. Yes, we were roughing it in a lot of ways, living without a lot of normal conveniences, but life was good. When the house was finally finished and we moved in, it was nice to have fancy things like doors, but it didn’t change the basic dynamic that was already well-established: my parents had created a positive atmosphere, and that was the air I grew up in—it didn’t matter if I was breathing it in a barn with scorpions or a house with doors.
Continue reading When I Lived In A Barn
The weather is warmer now, and that means the cranes have sprouted. Some of the fields near us are starting to bloom with new houses and factories. It’s always interesting to watch them grow, but I have to admit that sometimes the process puzzles me. The diggers come in first and push dirt around for ages in ways that seem pointless and confusing, and then there are pipes and concrete pillars and none of it looks like anything I would have expected until the walls start going up and then suddenly I start to recognise the shape of what the builders knew all along. None of it was pointless. Every pillar and digger was directed towards the blueprint of a final product that started in the imagination of the architect, and will finish in a tangible reality that people can live or work in. Just because I don’t see or understand the plan doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. It just means that I’m not the architect.
Continue reading The Blueprints I Haven’t Seen
I don’t know who does the dishes at the Avengers HQ. I don’t know when they eat, or what. I’m also not sure how many bathrooms the Millennium Falcon has, but if I had to guess, it’s probably one small one with drain clogging issues and I bet Han Solo has to wait a long time for Chewbacca to wash his hair. I guess we’ll never know, though, because the movies don’t tell us. Those moments are too ordinary, and we like our movies packed with action. Even the documentaries and true life stories fast forward through most of the ordinary stuff of life, either ignoring it altogether or flashing back to highlights or giving us a few glimpses set to inspiring montage-music.
Continue reading The Scenes They Leave Out
You can’t stand still
You’re always moving
Toward the person
Life goes on
And choices come
And something grows
With every one Continue reading You Can’t Stand Still
Cities have long lives. Many of the buildings stand basically unchanged as multiple generations of humans pass through their doors. The streets bear the traffic of life down the same old paths, through days and nights and decades, like ever-flowing rivers. It all looks the same, feels the same, year after year. Even the construction is familiar, the same cranes popping up in different places, the same traffic cones and men at work signs slowing down different roads in turn. Yes, some things do change, but the newness wears off quickly as the changes blend into the familiarity around them.
Continue reading The Deceptive Permanence Of Cities
Christianity is full of surprising reversals. Just think of Good Friday, where the King of Heaven abolishes the power of death—by dying in our place! He said, “unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone. But if it dies, it bears much fruit.” And that’s exactly what he did—first the dying, then the bearing much fruit. Now, he calls us to follow him in the same way: “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” As we approach Easter, I’ve been thinking a lot about this–what does it look like for me, right now? How is my own life reshaped and redirected by these reversals? These are the things I was thinking of when I wrote this poem:
Continue reading Unless
Sometimes you just need to go
Outside of the buildings
Outside of the lights
The screens and computers
And digital fights Continue reading Outside
Humans don’t fly. Every human in the world knew this for most of history—but I’ve flown. I’ve flown many times, over long distances, at heights and speeds that boggle the mind. How did I do it? I have no idea. I know it had something to do with aerodynamics and jet propulsion and lift and thrust and stuff like that, but mostly I just stepped through the door and when I walked out I was on a different continent. In my pocket I carry a small computer, which I know does something with invisible waves and towers and space satellites and stuff like that, but mostly I just know I can talk to my friends and family through it. I turn the key in my car, and I know there are belts and gears and little petrol explosions that push pistons, but mostly I just sit down and push a little pedal with my foot and wish the other cars would get out of my way. In the kitchen I have hot running water and cold food, and I can make the cold food hot in minutes with some kind of micro-radiation cube.
Continue reading We’ve Inherited More, But That Doesn’t Make Us Better
I love the feeling that comes when I’ve thought a straight path through a difficult problem and found a solution. I love it when my brain connects all the dots and finally sees things clearly, when pieces are falling together and ideas are springing up and blooming all around me. It’s great to be there. I’d love to be there more often. The trouble is that, for me, this rarified ground of a high-functioning mind is hard to get to. Sometimes, when the day is done, I look at the excellent books I have, many of which I’ve yet to read. I want to know what they say, I want to think about the world and my place in it and how to make tomorrow better than today, but my mind is tired and then somehow I’m on Facebook laughing at a meme and before I know it, it’s past time for bed. How did that happen? Why is it so hard to think?
Continue reading Why Is It So Hard To Think?