Tag Archives: Featured Blogs

What is the future of humanity when we have become so hate filled and vengeful, we slay the very angels God has sent to save us?

Sometimes being kind comes at great cost. Answer this, if you knew it would cause you harm, would you still help someone else in need?
I am praying today for all those whose hearts are filled with anger, including my own.

How many times have you heard or used the phrase, “God never gives you more than you can handle?” That’s a load of crap.

If you haven’t heard of Tig Notaro, you should checkout her latest special on Netflix. Tig is a stand-up comedian and actor who has gone through enormous life challenges, including a double mastectomy. Her Netflix special tells her personal story and how she used humor to prevail. About 32 minutes in, as she is talking about the pain of losing someone and finding out she had cancer almost simultaneously, she gave this wonderful quote.

“But you know, the nice thing about all of this is that you can always rest assured that god will never give you more than you can handle. [Audience laughs] I just keep picturing God going, ” You know what, I think she can take a little more. And then the angels are standing back saying, God, what are you doing!?” You are out of your mind!”

Kindness Warriors, take part of your day to give the kindness of prayer. There are so many who need it. There are so many whose pain is too much to handle.

Normally I would say, hold fast until the dawn. You are not alone. We are all connected.  Be love. Be kind.

These are not normal times and my faith is shredded. I am wondering if the sun will ever rise again. The only light is from the lightning of a gathering storm, and it pains me so greatly.

Tired eyes, maybe you’ve seen too much
Tired heart, every end has a start
If you find yourself in trouble, falling off the track
Would you come back?

#kindness #purposefulkindness #drivingawaydepression #WhatAWonderfulWorld #hope #peace #joy #love #streetlights #grace #TheKindnessClub #lifeisbetterwithasoundtrack #weareallconnected

StreetLights On A Saturday Night: Holly From Green Mountain

Next Saturday, August 22 will be one year to the day since I met a woman who changed my outlook on life. Her name was Holly, from Colorado. Her name came up earlier today in a conversation with my mother-in-law about some of the most interesting stories from my experiences driving Uber/Lyft.

Driving over the last 3 and a half years has given me so much inspiration and purpose. For those new to StreetLights, my name is Christopher Carlson. I have clinical/chronic depression. This is something I have dealt with all or most of my life but didn’t realize or understand it until a very dark rock bottom moment in December of 2017 that almost took my life. God intervened.

Since that moment of clarity I have chosen to share my experiences and my story because I know it helps others who suffer this lonely internal battle. My decision to be open and share my struggle has been validated more times than I can remember in the last few years. As a part of my own therapy but also as a sort of safe space for others, I have interacted with many incredible people through my 6,000 plus Uber/Lyft rides given. The other objective behind this blog and the stories I share is to promote kindness.

I haven’t driven Uber/Lyft since March 17th, due to Covid19. I am in the high risk pool and just can’t risk that much exposure. I have begun working full time in a position at Lowe’s which limits my exposure to the public and I really enjoy my work. But I truly miss driving and hope to someday feel safe enough to resume that inspiring activity, part-time.

As for now, like many of you, I have been anxious and angry. There are dark forces working in this world and the voices of fear and hate are very loud. Driving would often help me when I felt like I often do because it always helped restore my faith in humanity. Just a few riders is all it would take; sometimes just 1.

I don’t have that connection right now, so I thought I would look back to get some comfort and perspective. Holly’s story is a reminder that we can’t let the anger and fear of today overwhelm us and dictate our lives. I needed to regain that perspective. Holly has a simple life mantra. “Life is love. Anything else is a waste of time.” Here is her story…

StreetLights On a Saturday Night

People Profiles, Driving Away Depression

Holly From Green Mountain

I got the request in Grand Prairie. Uber XL. Thinking it would be a group of people and at 245am, most likely drunk and rowdy, I prepared myself for the worst. Shortly after I started working my way to the pickup address, I received a text from”H,” my rider. “Please come to the front office. I am in a wheelchair.” I was relieved it wasn’t a group of late night drinkers.

When I arrived at the semi-circle drive in front of the retirement home, two women were waving at me, smiling. Holly was my rider. She was in the wheelchair. Her 92 year old mother was standing with a walker. Holly had several bags and a small dog. I began to load the car as she said goodbye to her mother. There was some laughter mixed in with some emotion as I helped Holly into the front seat and loaded her wheel chair.
As they made their final goodbyes I began to realize this was more than just, until the next time. Once the door was shut, Holly began fumbling for the window button. I hit mine as we slowly started to move. She waved to her mother again calling out to her. I stopped. But Holly said no, let’s go, and she burst into tears.

Holly regained her composure and apologized saying “It’s just tough. I am saying goodbye to my mother for the last time. She has congestive heart failure. In the morning she will be moved into a full care facility.”

Holly comes from a big family. She has 13 brothers. Not one of them have visited their mother in these final days. Here was Holly, with serious health issues herself, bound to a wheelchair, traveled from Colorado to see her mom.

Holly returned to what seemed to be her normal disposition, cheerful and positive. She was warm and friendly, even when she spoke of tough, even tragic experiences in her life. When you look into her eyes you can see this almost childlike joy.

Holly’s mother was given something called DES when she was pregnant with Holly.

Diethylstilbestrol (DES) is a synthetic form of the female hormone estrogen. It was prescribed to pregnant women between 1940 and 1971 to prevent miscarriage, premature labor, and related complications of pregnancy, incuding nausea. It was determined to cause cancer in the mother, the child and could even reach as far as a grandchild genetically. Holly is known as a DES daughter because she, like many women born from exposure, developed cancer or other significant health issues.

Holly fought cancer twice. The first time she was only 9. And then again, in her late 20s. She beat it both times. But the genetic abnormality remained.

Holly and Bill married young. Bill is a disabled Vietnam War Veteran. They had a baby boy. He had a rocky start and passed away at 15 months old.

Eventually they tried again and she gave birth to a little girl. Her daughter was healthy. She grew up, got married and began having kids of her own. That’s when the cancer finally showed up. Holly’s daughter had inoperable, terminal brain cancer. Holly said after the news, her daughter freaked out, dropped everything and left. She left her 3 children and her husband. Holly never heard from her again.

Now another predicament. By this time, Holly and Bill had significant health issues and couldn’t take on the kids. Her daughter’s husband was in a car accident and suffered traumatic brain damage. So he couldn’t be a father anymore. They were forced to turn to the state. All 3 children were put into different foster homes.

In 1985 Holly and Bill, along with their daughter were living in Houston. There was a severe storm one day that had Holly concerned about the lightning. She called Bill on the phone and while expressing her concerns to him lightning struck the tree just outside the kitchen window. The strike went into the ground, splitting the tree, and found its way up the ground cable for the phone. And then, as Holly described it, the lights went out. She was cooked!

It took her over a year to learn to speak and walk again. That strike left her with a damaged nervous system, constant headaches, epileptic seizures, and a bone disorder that prevents calcium from being absorbed, making her bones weak and brittle. Calcium builds up on the outside of the bone. Apparently she has numerous surgeries to go in and essentially scrape it off. Holly jokes about a few other side effects, including a slightly tighter right side of her face that makes her look a bit like a pirate smiling. She said she can scratch her left shouldet and feel it in her right leg.

She underwent leg surgery not long ago where they used a cadaver bone for her right leg. It didn’t work, which is why she is curently in the wheelchair. Upon returning to Colorado, they will remove her leg below the knee. She joked about being mad at the doctors because she wanted to keep the leg, only to bury it. But they said no. I told her she should then at least ask for a core charge refund.

Holly’s little Terrier is named Christine. She is actually a service dog and lets Holly know when she is about to have a seizure.

Holly continued with her story. ” I am so grateful for little Christine, here. But I haven’t had a seizure in almost 2 years since we moved to Lakewood, Colorado and my doctor started me on CBD. My overall pain is lower. Apparently they fixed my voice too well, according to Bill because I won’t stop talking now.”

She had this childlike, innocent joy about her. All that pain. And her eyes are lit with joy and appreciation for life. She paused in her story long enough for me to ask how she copes. She smiled and said there are good days and bad days but everyday I am alive is a blessing.”

She commented on my music choice. Louis Armstrong and Elle Fitzgerald were singing a duet on my Spotify. What are some of your favorite music artists? I asked. She said she really liked John Denver.

Ohhhhh, like Rocky Mountain High?

She laughed a little and said ‘Well I like that song but it isn’t my favorite.”

What is?

“Annie’s song.” She said peacefully.

Her three grandchildren were found separate permanent homes. All three were adopted by wonderful families. Holly gets to communicate with all of them and occasionally gets to see them. They are all in Utah.

We got to Love field at 330 am. Nobody was there. But she insisted she would be fine to be dropped off. So, I unloaded her stuff onto a cart, got her situated in the wheel chair and we made our way into the terminal.

Holly you seem like such a happy person, I said. You have had a tough life.

Holly replied, “I have had a blessed life. I have been happily married for 39 years, traveled. I Live in a beautiful place by Green Mountain. Life has been good to me.”

I told her how much I appreciated her telling me her life journey. I told her I really admired her strength and resilience.

“You should visit Green Mountain. You should visit Colorado. You seem tired. It will rejuvenate you.” Holly said.

I told her now everytime I think of Colorado I will think of her….

With that pirate smile, hoppin’ around Green Mountain on one leg…

We both burst out laughing.

We hugged and said goodbye. I felt like I was saying goodbye to a dear friend. It was a strange moment as I walked away, while she sat with Christine and her luggage next to the check-in kiosk, smiling and waving me bye. She was happy. She was returning home to her steadfast companion of 39 years.

Oh Holly. You smile for me. I cry for you.

I played that song on the way home. I cried the whole way. I cried for Holly’s loss. I cried for the desperation I have felt. And, I cried for joy, because Holly reminded me that I am alive, still. She told me something else I am sure to never forget.

Life is love.

That’s it. Everything else is a waste of time.

Once again, God has given it. He sent a most interesting woman to deliver it. And, I have received it.

Grace.

#kindness #purposefulkindness #Whatawonderfulworld #hope #peace #love #joy #StreetLights #TheKindnessClub #Grace #drivingawaydepression #Peopleprofiles

For Holly and Bill. And, for the love of my life, who continues to lift me up, Mindy.

StreetLights On A Saturday Night: For Dad

I wrote this post below on March 4, 2019, not long after I had a heart attack and received 2 stents. I got a third a few months later. Now, as I write this update to the story, my father is in the hospital in Carson City. He and his wife live in Reno, but they chose the Carson hospital because they thought they would receive greater care for his heart issue. My dad is currently in his procedure now; Angiogram to see what is happening. I found it remarkable when Debby (my father’s wife) told me the Doc who is performing the procedure used to actually play backup guitar for Bob Seger. Well, there you have it. God’s grace through healing hands and, well, Rock-n-Roll!

My father, Lloyd and my son, Jacob during a family trip in 2011.

I am praying for good news. In the mean time, I am sharing this post again for Pop. He too, is tired and worn, but still running against the wind...

The Longest Trip.

Lord, I’m tired. I wonder, Lord, if you might give me shelter from the storm. The wind is blowing and I’m getting older. The wind is blowing and I am still running against it, as I have always done. But I’m tired and worn. I need some help. I need some hope. I just can’t shake this and I have lost a step or two…

Lately, I have been struggling. I have been questioning. I have been confused. There are days, more lately, where I find myself trying to reconcile God’s will with my own. I feel like I can’t find that balance. There is this nagging fear that I am failing, going nowhere, no matter how hard I try. There have been too many days where I forgot what it feels like, to feel good. Sometimes it feels like pushing on the ocean. Buts its just running against the wind, and I am not failing. And, I am not forsaken.

I haven’t written much lately. I haven’t found my voice again. At least until now. But this has taken me weeks to write. I have been in a bit of a fog, feeling weak, feeling like I have been knocked down and I am still coming to my senses. I feel incredibly mortal, fragile. And, that will pass. But nothing comes easy. There is a cost to everything.

We all struggle. If you look around and think about it, every person you know has struggles. That’s life. We all get knocked down. We all deal with difficult times. We are all still running against the wind. At least now that we’re older, we know we are stronger together. And, we are stronger through God’s grace.

Still, I am struggling.

Sunday, March 4th, 2019

Last night I picked up Steve and Susan from DFW airport. We hit it off before we got out of the terminal area. I am very glad too, because it was a 2 hour trip down just southwest of Waco. They live in McGregor, TX.
I actually took them to the municipal airport where they have a hangar that keeps their 1961 Beechcraft Bonanza. Their car happened to be there as well.

Steve and I swapped flying stories. I have a little flight time in the same make and model as his Bonzana. Stock photo below.

1961 Beechcraft Bonanza

They haven’t lived in Texas very long; less than a year. I asked Steve what brought him to Texas and he answered, Chip and Joanna Gaines. Seriously? I asked. Apparently, they watched the show Fixer Upper and decided Waco seemed like a nice place to live. It definitely has a lower cost of living than their previous home of 30 years, in Seattle.

Originally, they planned a retirement in the Caribbean, spending all their time on a catamaran. But their son was diagnosed with cancer. He is good now. But they say the next 5 years are the greatest risk of it returning. Steve and Susan decided to stay landside in case their son needed help. He lives in Houston.

So they came down and met the Gaineses. Joanna helped them find a house in McGregor. Their house in a Seattle suburb sold for $450 per square foot. Their new home in Texas cost $97 per sq. foot. They doubled the size for less money. Susan said they love being here and wish they had come to Texas 20 years ago.

As we continued to talk about aviation we started getting into the history of both our families. It turns out, Steve’s dad flew F4U-4 Corsairs in WWII. He was based in Guadalcanal, Henderson Field for a bit as well as the carriers, Lexington and Enterprise. While it was a completely different ship and in the 1970’s my father was an air traffic controller on the nuclear version of the Enterprise, CVN65.
Besides the F4U-4 Corsair, Steve’s father also flew Wildcats and Bearcats off the deck of a carrier. My favorite aircraft of all time is the F4U corsair and it just happens to be Steve’s dad’s favorite as well. Especially since he flew them in combat, dogfighting Japanese Zeroes.

F4-U Corsair

Dropping Steve and Susan off at McGregor airport was a real treat. It has been a while since I have been on an airfield. I enjoyed following the taxi lane to his hanger. It definitely brought back some memories.

Dropping them off completed the longest trip thus far in my 2 and a 1/2 years of driving Uber and Lyft. I think it was 123 miles. We had such a great time talking along the way, they offered to take me to dinner in Waco at their favorite burger place called Freddy’s. I had to gracefully decline and get back up to DFW. But it sure was a nice gesture. Steve and Susan, you guys are true kindness Warriors. Correction, Kindness Aviators!

Talking about our experience flying brought back so many memories. Thinking back on those days, I was so confident, so ambitious. I didn’t play by anyone elses rules. I thought I could do anything. But I was always running. I was running to or from something. Heartache, depression, loneliness, who knows exactly. But when I flew, I was at peace. Up there with the deep blue sky and the lofty clouds, I had no fears. My demons were left on the ground below. Up there it was just me and God.

Now, here I am, ragged and worn, still trying to re-engage. Still trying to find that place of grace that seems lost. I am running on fumes with no end in sight. But, I am still running.

Bob Seger was in town Saturday at the Ford Center in Frisco. I think his song, Against the Wind represents it best.

I know I am not alone. We are all struggling. We all keep running against the wind. It’s what we do. Sometimes, it’s all we can do.

#kindness #purposefulkindness #Whatawonderfulworld #hope #peace #love #joy #TheKindnessClub #StreetLights #Grace #drivingawaydepression #Peopleprofiles

Driving Away Depression: Attitude Is Everything

Happy Friday, Kindness Warriors!

I was recently reminded that “attitude is everything.”

I don’t know about everything, but it is definitely an important element in all things.

You are more likely to accomplish your goals and overcome your obstacles if you tell yourself that you can. My mom, Gretchen and one of my closest friends, Michelle are firm believers in the power of positive affirmations. With all that we are facing in the world right now, many of us fall into lonely and dark holes of depression and anxiety. When we aren’t feeling anger, we are overwhelmed with sadness.

For those who may be feeling lost, broken, or in a fog all alone, I see you. I know that space you are in. I have been there many times. Reach out to me. My hand is right here. You are not alone. I know your pain.

Finding the right attitude can be so very difficult when all you want to do is escape all the negativity and go back to bed.

Well, it is time to take inventory and open up your tool box. If you are suffering or overwhelmed, or depressed, grab a pen and some paper(or whatever your equivalent is). Find a safe, clutter free space. By safe I mean a place that doesn’t create more stress or distraction. The dining room table is one of mine. So is the garage now that I have had time to organize it. #Covid19silverlining
Bed is NOT a safe space.

Get to that space, take a few calming deep breaths and start making an inventory list of positive things and people in your life. Nothing negative. List your peeps. This could include your pastor, your mom or even the cashier who always greets you with a smile down at Racetrac or 7-eleven. No matter how insignificant little details might be, if they are positive, put it in your inventory.

Some of my list includes my wife, Mindy, my kids, my mom, dad, weekly breakfast with my friend John, all my friends and also trees, cloudy skies, cool breezes, flying, driving, walking, church, etc. Your positive inventory should include people, places, things, but also actions.

Once you have a decent list (20-30 items), read it back to yourself, aloud. If you do this enough, and sometimes it takes two or three readings, one of those items will create a spark, a small glimmer in your dark hole.

Then the really hard part, get up and get out!
Put that list in your mental toolbox. Positive affirmations are also tools. So is therapy, medication, exercise, friendship, and one incredibly powerful tool called kindness. Being kind (as I know all your kindness Warriors are) is a way to recharge your batteries. Kindness creates a flame to light your way out. I find it wonderfully ironic that God made us to help heal ourselves by helping others.

Attitude.

Attitude will definitely help get you going. It will keep you in the game. It will create hope. Remember this, change all of your “have to’s” in your life like paying bill’s, going to work, mowing the yard, etc. to “get to’s.” I get to go to work. I get to make the car payment. I even get to clean up dog poop. I get to do these things because I have a house, a dog, a car. Many have nothing. Attitude – positive – can do – thankful – kind.

I missed #TBT yesterday so here is a little song about attitude from one of my favorite musicians, Eric Clapton.

It’s In The Way You Use It.

This weekend I hope you find the right attitude to spread some kindness and positive vibes! You will make others happy and you will find joy in it too.

We are all connected.

Life is better with a soundtrack.

Be love. Be kind.

#kindness #purposefulkindness #Whatawonderfulworld #hope #peace #love #joy #TheKindnessClub #StreetLights #Grace #drivingawaydepression #lifeisbetterwithasoundtrack #weareallconnected

https://m.facebook.com/groups/179233599352502?view=permalink&id=619497085326149&sfnsn=mo

StreetLights June 9, 2018

This post is from June 9th, 2018. So, my friends, it fails to account for the crazy shit we are dealing with today. Now more than ever, we must be kinder to each other. We must make kindness a conscious effort with every interaction. We are all connected…

Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. These are just two of the most recent names, two people, two extraordinary people who made contributions to our society, our world. In the last 3 days almost 400 more people in this country have taken their own lives.

According to the American Foundation For Suicide Prevention, afsp.org, about 45,000 Americans die from suicide a year (2016 data). Far too many other people continue on a path of self-destruction from depression because their disease remains undiagnosed, untreated. They are lost at sea in their own body and mind. This is not a character flaw. This is a REAL DISEASE.

The reality is far more than just mental health contributes to suicide. In a nation as wealthy as ours, too many still don’t have access to affordable and proper healthcare. There are too many poor who are struggling. Economic crisis is a major contributor to depression.

But we also still have a stigma with depression. I have been suicidal two times in my life. I can say for my own experience, even though I had many people who loved me and cared for me even though I loved and cared for others, I was alone. I was confused. I was sad. I was filled with guilt and shame. I felt defective. And, I couldn’t see a clear path back to “normal.” Whatever that is…

Through the grace of God, I had angels who entered my life, I had circumstances that kept me from dying at those two critical moments in my life. But I still went on dealing with depression without truly understanding what was happening to me. More on me another time.

There are going to be about 123 suicides today according to statistics for 2016. Not to be pessimistic but given the current state of our country, I think that number is higher.

My love goes out to all who struggle with this disease.

I ask each of you to REALLY consider depression and think about the people in your life. Do any of them show signs of depression? Do you feel you might be dealing with depression?

This is a treatable, controllable disease or illness. And in truth there is some hope. The more we learn about genetic depression, the more medical researchers hypothesize that the same gene that causes depression also inspires creativity. When you think about it, for a great many of our artists, musicians, designers, actors who have fallen by their own hand, this is a rational argument. So, this means we can become better at treating depression.

In the mean time, be kind my friends. Slow down! Be kind to yourself. We are all in this together!

Shine your light brightly so people like Kate and Anthony might find their way out of the darkness and sorrow before its too late.

kindness #purposefulkindness #hope #peace #love #joy #TheKindnessClub #StreetLights #Grace #drivingawaydepression #weareallconnected #Whatawonderfulworld

StreetLights On A SaturdayNight: Entropy And The Pursuit Of Happiness

Entropy and the Pursuit of Happiness

1230pm. March 18, 2019

Under the clouds it looks like 830pm. Gray. Storm’s rollin’ in. Behind the wheel again. Feels good. Haven’t driven since before the stent went in. Just a short trip. Just down the road. It’s nice to be on the move again.

I can’t recall precisely when the word entropy entered my brain, but being back in the hospital had me thinking about it more. I am feeling extremely mortal, worn. I have been thinking about its meaning for several days now.

Entropy is a scientific term. There are a few ways to use the word in a scientific context, but one way to define entropy in layman’s terms is this: It is the tendency for energy to spread out. It is the idea that everything in the universe decays as energy is used or transferred. We are part of that process. We enter this world and grow into adults and then old age; all part of a process that offers less and less ordered energy until we die and become dust. All the while, entropy increasing until all in the universe is nothing. Oh yeah, so one of the scientific laws of energy, of entropy is that it is irreversible. Meaning, entropy is ever increasing.

For example, an egg is boiled. That energy is converted and gone through heat. But we can’t unboil the egg. The theory is that everything in the universe eventually transfers its energy to the great collective until there is no difference in energy anywhere and therefore nothing. For the record, that’s a long way off. So don’t worry about the planet disintegrating while you are on the morning commute.

The term was invented by a German physicist named Rudolf Clausius in 1850 to describe the amount of heat that must be put into a closed system (an engine) to bring it to a given state. This was during the industrial age. Our internal engines aren’t any different. Over a period of time, they decay, become less efficient. I don’t want to die. But I know I am mortal. And so far as I can tell, no one has figured out how to stop it.

We waste so much of our limited time as ordered energy (human beings) thinking about the past or the future. We waste so much time lamenting the insignificant. From the moment we arrive we are slowly using up our life energy and slowly unravelling. Disease may take us down. Like Clausius and his engine, we occasionally get a replacement part or we just add some hardware, like a stent, or dentures. These modifications may improve our ability to function, but entropy never stops. We continue to transfer our life energy back to the collective, bit by bit, until we are dust.

But this mortality becomes precious. If we were immortal, would we find joy? Knowing we have a limited time makes each moment count. Or at least it should.

Because we believe in more than just scientific theory. Because life is beautiful. Because our essence is to live. This time, this tiny portion of infinite time is important. We, our bodies, our engines, begin to decline from the moment we are born.

This year brings us a number of reminders that nothing on this earth lasts forever. We watched in sorrow as an iconic and beautiful cathedral fell, consumed by fire. But, if you bothered to notice, no one has expressed a loss of faith in God. Entropy, decay, death are all things we can’t escape. Neither can a beautiful structure, even if made with loving hands of a faithful people.

As we get older and closer to that moment when our life energy is scattered back into the collective universe, we often begin to feel less useful, without purpose. We often ask why, when we see a friend or colleague reduced to confusion and unable to care for himself because that well-ordered energy is scattering and the commands of the mind no longer hold sway over the action of the body. Entropy. I can tell you from personal experience that health issues which come earlier than one would expect in life do cause some anguish, anxiety, and depression.

On the other hand, much of what I feel I have to offer in service of God and humanity comes from the struggle, not the easy parts of life. When we teach our children, do we not use all of our personal experiences, both good and bad as a guide to help them grow and live to find hope, peace, love, and joy?

Scientifically, we understand entropy in a measurable dynamic. Philosophically, this becomes more intangible. I am a firm believer that science and God are not exclusive or contradictory to one another. But this slow unraveling, this entropy, is absolutely designed by God. It gives us time. Not eternity, but time. It allows us to struggle so that we may know the beauty of life. Entropy, thus gives us consequential action and thought, free will.

“Another interesting aspect of entropy is that it makes the process of becoming, gradual and rather controlled. If entropy had different nature, the universe might be too unbalanced or violent to sustain life: without the energy transmutating gradually into heat, life and death would become abruptly polar events.”

Now this last little part is a quote from an anonymous nihilist who is also quoted above, mixed with my own core belief in God. So I am not using quotation marks. But a portion of it is not my own. I just swapped out a few words here and there for my personal cosmos cooking.

This life may be burdened with death and suffering in struggle, but without it there wouldn’t be anything to live or dream for. As Nietzsche put it, “it is only up to us to overcome this, what we call the tragedy of mortal life, and re-write our roles in the cosmic play. While the invisible strings of statistics will always be pulling our actions in the large scale, it can never put the lines in our mouths. That we must do ourselves.”

God doesn’t take away people we love. God doesn’t make bad things happen to good people. And, I might add, there are always people worse off than us. God gives us free will and a limited amount of time to use that will. Let us not waste that time. Let us instead, since we are all in this life together, use our will, our strengths, and even our weaknesses for the betterment of humanity. That is the way to life everlasting. That is God’s will. And, that is the only true antithesis to entropy.

See? Science and religion fusion. Boom.

“Life is the noble process which turns suffering into excellence.”

We cannot forsake grief. Instead we must embrace it and allow it to remind us we are alive.

“You should know compared to people on a global scale our kind has had it relatively easy. And here with you there’s always something to look forward to. Our angry heart beats relatively easy.” Jason Isbell

#Kindness #StreetLights #purposefulkindness #Whatawonderfulworld #hope #peace #joy #love #TheKindnessClub #Grace #StreetLightsonaSaturdayNight #weareallconnected

streetlights on a Saturday night 2 of 3 April 1st, 2020

StreetLights on a Saturday night

Part 2 of 3
Last Ride


Occurred March 25th, 2018

It was late Saturday night, after midnight. Okay, early Sunday morning!

I am exhausted. My whole week went sideways. It seems to do that often. I haven’t slept well in days. My restless legs have kept me up. It’s a nice bonus every time I get one of those steroid injections in my neck for a collapsed disc. My goals for the week were on the horizon but now have completely vanished. A few more rides like the last one and I am just done.

It is day 110 of recovery from depression rock bottom back in early December. I have managed to keep clear of the fog, for the most part. That nasty shadow has been chasing me, but hasn’t been able to catch me. I have been keeping it under control.

I am so tired. No way to hit that bonus. I think it may be time to head home. I will start again in the morning. Means, I miss church again but, need to work.

I was on highway 114 coming back from the west and looking to make the highway 121 exchange to head home.

The Lyft app began chirping with a request. Wow, its 17 minutes away. I accepted it. It turns out it was coming from the airport. I guess there is a real shortage of drivers in the queue at the airport. It isn’t common to get an airport pickup 17 minutes away. So, I headed in. I didn’t get far before the rider cancelled. I guess he didn’t like the wait time.

Well, I am headed toward the airport anyway. I will take just one more rider. I will make this one count and then head home to try again tomorrow. Just one more trip. Just then, the app started chirping again, 11 minutes away this time. I accepted it. Wow, another airport request. Bet they cancel. But I am going that way.

This request wasn’t canceled. It was a pickup at DFW Airport Terminal A. Really late for activity there. I was exhausted and feeling beat down. I could feel that shadow starting to move around me. I was feeling sorry for myself and I was feeling like a failure, my mind was getting dark. But I am going to get this one last rider home.
As I approached the Terminal I saw my passenger, looking at me. Man, this guy looked worse than I feel. You could tell he was running on empty just by watching him move as I pulled up.

Just this last ride. Just one more ride and I will head home. I feel like I haven’t seen or spent time with my family in weeks. I have missed church and my friends there. Now I am going to miss everyone again. I will GET UP and keep fighting again tomorrow, I guess. Starting to wonder what the point is. I am so tired. Just one more ride tonight. Just one more Saturday night drive. Ok, time to put on a smile and get this guy home. Clearly he needs to get there. Got to keep movin’. Got to keep fighting. Else, who am I?

Hello James. Welcome back to DFW. Let’s see where we are headed…

#kindness #purposefulkindness #Whatawonderfulworld #hope #peace #love #joy #StreetLights #TheKindnessClub #Grace #drivingawaydepression #Peopleprofiles #weareallconnected #lifeisbetterwithasoundtrack


StreetLights On A Saturday Night

The Wisdom Of Downton Abbey

Well, here we are, 2020. Look how far we’ve come in the last 100 years!

Actually…

maybe you are better off not looking.

A few months ago, just before I took off for my neck surgery, I gave Andrew and Jennifer a ride home from the airport. They live in West Fort Worth. Andrew and Jennifer were coming home from a visit to Jennifer’s parents who live in Portland, Oregon. I wanted to write about them earlier but for some reason I kept getting sidetracked with a story within the story.

You see, writing about this wonderful couple, who are engaged to be married this summer, kept turning into writing about a TV show we spent much of the ride talking about.

Yep, Downton Abbey hijacked the story.

That’s ok. We’ll make a go of it anyway.

Jennifer said they were looking forward to getting home and doing nothing! At which point, Andrew said they had the rest of the week and the weekend off, so they were going to binge watch, yep, Downton Abbey. They apparently wanted to rewatch the whole series before seeing the movie. Plus, their trip to Portland was a very active one; not so much a vacation. So they were both exhausted.

“What is a weekend?”
—Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham

They planned their trip in order to help Jennifer’s parents move into a much smaller house. Andrew jokingly said that they kept most of the things that had a place in the big house. He said they kinda missed the point of downsizing.

From that moment of the trip, our conversation seemed to be about or circle back to Downton Abbey. I can certainly think of worse topics. I am a big fan of the show too.

“We must always travel in hope.”
— Carson, Downton Abbey, Season 5

Our discussion ebbed and flowed around one theme in particular. We kept comparing the way people behaved 100 years ago with today. That comparison left all three of us feeling a bit disappointed with humanity. With all the incredible technology we have now, escpecially regarding communication, transportation, and ease of access to knowledge, we seem to be in much shorter supply of intelligence. I would add love, peace, kindness, joy, and hope to the list.

“How you hate to be wrong,” said Isobel, practically baiting the Dowager to drop the following: “I wouldn’t know. I’m not familiar with the sensation.”

Andrew noted that we are all so much more opinionated now and a quick google search is all it takes to find information that backs our opinion and thus, in our own minds, makes that opinion, fact. So why would we consider anyone else’s now? They are clearly mistaken, uninformed, etc.

The story of the Crawley family in Downton Abbey slows everything down. Information back then came from books, newspapers, telegrams, and toward the end of the series, the telephone. Sources of information were few. Therefore, it was important to be reliable and accurate if you were a source. Now all you need is access to the internet. Somebody out there will believe whatever nonsense you are peddling. Downton Abbey is telling us to slow down and be responsible with our words, our knowledge.

The other side of this communication advancement is simply how we treat each other. Now that we can send out messages and posts like this one, we have somehow managed to remove any filters. In other words, we treat each other like crap.

Is that the byproduct of instant access? When we address each other face to face, there still exists a set of manners. We treat each other with respect. But now we can go home and post all kinds of jokes, memes, nasty insults and mockery with no sense of guilt or respect.

Don’t get meme wrong, I have a sense of humor and love a good joke when I see it. But if something we post isn’t something we could say about someone (or someone’s beliefs) in person, then that something stinks of poo and we shouldn’t post it. One other virtue Downton Abbey tries to teach us about communication is, even if we are right, that doesn’t mean we should say it!

I have been quite vocal lately. I have made several very sharp attacks. My anger and frustration has been consistently high. Yesterday, I came across a quote by Mother Teresa. At least, I think it was Mother Teresa. I found it on the very trustworthy internet. I didn’t bother to research the source. But hey, good words are good words. Anyway, Mother Teresa says,

“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”

Ohhh, that got me thinking about my anger and my attacks. Anger, is ok. We all get angry and that anger is often appropriate. I considered what I was angry about and whether or not I went too far. Perhaps, a little. It is easy for anger to turn us into irrational. We can do and say things we regret. I think maybe I have been to judgemental in a few places this week.

My anger, my cause is valid. There are a great many injustices. There are far too many dark forces at work today. So, Mother Teresa has a great point. But anger is important too. And it is powerful, if controlled. Pure rage doesn’t do anyone any good. Neither does moral judgement, at least without cause. It’s a fine line is all I am saying. So let’s keep fighting the good fight, but be careful not to get all judgey beyond the argument at hand.

“Because I want the pleasure of saying I told you so.”
—Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham

Downton takes us through many of the same messes we find ourselves in today, but it does so in a 100 year old setting and with a society and culture that doesn’t exist anymore. Frankly, the idea of someone else helping me dress and undress every day is laughable. What I like about watching the challenges of life through the Downton lense is we see the issues and their true weight with much more clarity. The show doesn’t avoid anything. At one point or another, the characters are faced with some serious issues: war, murder, rape, homosexuality, abortion, children outside of wedlock, the exclusion of people based on their social status or skin color.

“I’m not a romantic, but even I will concede that the heart does not exist soley for the purpose of pumping blood.”

Dowager Countess of Grantham, Violet Crawley

Of course let us not forget the brighter issues of friendships from unexpected places, romance, love, finding one’s purpose, the birth of a child, pigs (hey, pigs are cute and funny on screen), music, overcoming personal obstacles, and simply celebrating life. Oh let’s not forget the beauty of the English countryside.

I enjoyed watching these issues played out in such a different setting, without modern complications like social media, the ability to reach anyone, anywhere on the planet, via phone, text, messenger, skype, etc. There were far fewer complications back then. So for us, we get to watch the characters and think, ha! You are so lucky it’s only 1920! No way would you be able to deal with that issue in 2020!

“I think accepting change is quite as important as defending the past.”
— Cora, Lady Grantham, Downton Abbey, Season 3

The point I am trying to make is this. Downton Abbey shines a light on problems that existed then and still exist today. But when put in a much clearer and, dare I say simpler context, it makes us realize just how ridiculous we are to still be fighting with each other about certain issues. Watching Downton Abbey reminds me that we have had 100 years to get past certain “hang ups” we have with each other and still haven’t become a more enlightened and inclusive human race. In fact, if anything, we seem to have become even more polarized. Perhaps Mr. Carson, Miss Padmore, and Lady Grantham (the Dowager) had it right by opposing all the new technology, and changes to society.

“First electricity, now telephones. Sometimes I feel as if I were living in an H. G. Wells novel.”
—Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham

Downton Abbey takes us back to a much different time and a much different world and is quite the powerful story to help us reflect on just how stuck we are today.

In that time, words mattered. One was very careful about using the right words, avoiding anything dramatic or profane. Now we seem free to say whatever on social media, no filter. Just free flowing hatred, mockery and insults. What happened to the respect? What has happened to decency and dignity?

Even in the most regal of English houses, life is messy. It is full of pain and disappointment.

It is about lifes ups and downs as much as it is about happy endings.
It is a testament to the triumph of love and kindness. Mr. BARROW is proof of that.

SPOILER ALERT

And so the series ends on New Year’s eve with Edith celebrating her marriage and Anna giving birth upstairs, Carson retiring and Barrow coming back to replace him as Butler. I still haven’t seen the movie so don’t talk about it! 🧡😉

And in the final moments of the last episode, Downton Abbey leaves us with one very memorable and very true message,

We are all connected!

#kindness #purposefulkindness #Whatawonderfulworld #hope #peace #love #joy #StreetLights #TheKindnessClub #Grace #drivingawaydepression #weareallconnected

StreetLights On A Saturday Night

Lost in the woods

I took a walk today. The sun was out. Blue sky, pillowy clouds and blossoms on the trees. I love trees. I always find them calming and restorative, like natural anti-anxiety medicine.

It was during this walk I found the right perspective again. I have been angry this week. I have been anxious. I have been frustrated with the world. I have been caught up in the injustices of the world. My friend Tom and I will sometimes go round and round arguing about politics and religion. We had a contentious debate this week. And, I see many others frustrated as well. It can be tough to find peace of mind.


But those trees and the warm breeze, and the pillowy clouds, it all reminded me that this life is a blessing. I am reminded that I “get to” argue with my friend and I get to take that walk, and I get to write this post, and I get feel love, joy, and happiness. Consider all the things you have to do. Everything. Then simply change the words “have to” to “get to.”

Oh, I know we are not done fighting. All of us, not just me and Tom. 😉 We have fierce convictions and ideas about life. But we are all connected. We all share the same blood. So don’t forget to make peace too.

It is all too easy to get lost in the woods at times of anger or sorrow, or lonliness, or exhaustion, or good old high anxiety. I met a man today who gave up all his social media accounts because it was actually affecting his marriage and his relationship with his kids. He said it was the best he felt in months.

Our world is so much more connected now. Everything is instant, including access. My children are growing up in a world where social media and constant content are overwhelming. I have heard ignorance is bliss. That applies very well to social media. And kids today get pulled into that digital world of instant everything. We have more people, especially young people with anxiety and depression than ever before.

From time to time, finding a way to disconnect is essential for your mental health. Same for your kids. Especially for the young ones. They can’t figure out who they are if they are too overwhelmed with anxiety about what other people think and say about them, on social media.

During this Lent season, try to disconnect. Get your kids to disconnect. Reconnect with each other. Reconnect with God and remember how the burdens of life are still blessings, because we “get to” live.

And when you feel lost in the woods, here is a good reminder,

Trees.

“Getting lost in the woods” is a phrase often associated with dark or troubled times in life.

If you are lost in the woods, take a moment. Take a deep long breath. Then look around you. The trees that surround you are not your enemy or your obstacle.

Look close and you will see, God has put those trees around you. They are there to protect you, to give you sustenance. They help form and define your path. Those trees are life giving and life saving. They offer you love and joy. Those trees are your friends and family, and safe spaces.

If you ever feel lost in the woods, take a breath, look around and know, you are not alone! Trust me, I’m an Oak…

Now, for your Saturday night groove and a little message within lyrics, checkout Coldplay’s Arabesque.

“I could be you, you could be me
Two raindrops in the same sea
You could be me, I could be you
Two angles of the same view
And we share the same blood

Comme deux gouttes d’eau
On se ressemble
Comme provenant de la même mère
Comme deux ruisseaux (You could be me)
Qui se rassemblent (I could be you)
Pour faire les grandes rivières


And we share the same blood
Yeah, we share the same bloodAnd we share the same blood
Yeah, we share the same blood

Music is the weapon, music is the weapon of the future
Music is the weapon, music is the weapon of the future
Music is the weapon, music is the weapon of the future.”



#kindness #purposefulkindness #Whatawonderfulworld #hope #peace #love #joy #TheKindnessClub #StreetLights #Grace #drivingawaydepression

But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for…

StreetLights On A Saturday Night original post January 29th, 2019. I am asking unanimous consent to revise and extend my remarks based on the experiences of the last year.

A few days after posting this last year, I had a heart attack. It was mild and I received two stents. However, last year’s health challenges didn’t end there. I ended up hospitalized 6 times last year for a variety of issues including the myocardial infarction, septicemia, other infections, a third stent, and neck surgery to finish out the year. I also continued to battle depression. All this to say the journey continues and what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. It’s cliche’ but true. Would it surprise you to know my faith in God, my connection to Jesus is even stronger?

This Sunday at Broadway Baptist Church, our Sr. Pastor, Ryon Price will be giving a sermon entitled, “What Are You Looking For?” As Pastor Ryon writes, “that is the title of the sermon but also the words Jesus asks to the first disciples to follow him. Oh, but the irony. The one who is asking the question is Himself its answer. He is what and who they are looking for, though they do not yet know it. All they know now is that they are looking for something, and they still haven’t found it, but they’ve been told by John to look the way of Jesus.
 
Sunday’s sermon will be about Jesus. It will be about our search and our longing for him. It will be about how, in Augustine’s words, “our hearts are restless until they find rest in [Him].”
 
I ask that you pray for Sunday. Somebody will surely show up looking for something, though they may know not what or who. Pray for me. Pray for them. Pray I can be like John the Baptist in the story and point them the way to the one who both has us asking and also is the answer.”

I would like to invite everyone to join us this Sunday at Broadway Baptist Church in Fort Worth. We are all on this journey together. Don’t worry about the Baptist part of Broadway Baptist Church. You don’t have to be Baptist to join us and find other seekers/searchers. Come get a spiritual recharge!

http://broadwaybc.org/
305 W. Broadway, Fort Worth, Texas 76104
Service begins at 1050am. Come early and join a Sunday School group at 925am

Now for the original post. Learning of this weekend’s (January 19, 2020 at 1050am) sermon reminded me of it…

A very significant milestone quietly passed by unnoticed over the weekend. When I realized it, I reviewed my recent trips to find out, Saturday night I gave Uber/Lyft ride number 5,000.

It turns out, that 5,000th ride was given to a woman name Lauren from Chicago. She has been living in Dallas for 6 months. She was just getting back from the frigid windy city. We talked about the differences between the two cities. We talked about Chicago style pizza. We talked about movies, careers, and we talked about a shared passion for music. Perfect strangers, but connected in this grand journey of life, of humanity.
We talked about kindness. We lamented the shortfall. And, we both pledged to keep making more.

This unexpected and awe inspiring path of 2 and a half years, 150,000 miles, and 5,000 rides has changed my outlook on life, on faith, profoundly. I am forever grateful. God has certainly continued to remind me of the importance of this path, and given me the grace to survive the struggles along the way.

Even with a profound sense of purpose, I wonder, I ache, I question. Even with this incredible sense of joy and peace, I hurt, I cry. Even with God’s steady hand, I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.

But I now know, that is an eternal search. And, that is how it is supposed to be.
To question, to challenge, to become more enlightened, all throughout the universe. We will forever be connected. We must, therefore live our lives in purposeful kindness, and love.

Music has been a steadfast companion all my life. I am fond of saying life is better with a soundtrack. But, music is so much more. It tells our stories. It gives us perspective. It stirs the adventure and curiosity in us all.

Bruce Springsteen introduced U2 into the Rocknroll Hall of Fame in 2005. Two musical entities that have done just that; stir emotion, curiosity, and tell our story so well.

Bono, at one the 25th Anniversary Rock&Roll Hall Of Fame concerts, said this…

“I’m thinking here in Rock&Roll’s great cathedral, that is Madison Square Garden, thinking in this moment about all the pilgrims, all the pioneers that got us all here. The saints and the heretics, the poets and the punks, that now make up the hall of fame. Its a dangerous thing, this business of building idols. But at least Rock&Roll is not, at its best, about worshiping sacred cows. It’s about the thousands of voices gathered in one great unwashed congregation, like tonight. For alot of us here, Rock&Roll just means one word, liberation; political, sexual, spiritual. Liberation.”

To which Bruce Springsteen replied, “Let’s have some fun with that!”

And they began to sing together.

I like this quote because it isn’t just relevant to musicians. It is all of us. It’s life’s journey.

Plus, U2 and The Boss together is frickin awesome!

As I prepare for whatever God has planned next for me, this song reminds me that we are all searching. Perhaps, I’ll take a drive down Thunder Road, and see what lies ahead.

Where will you go? What will you look for?

Will you be kind along your journey?

I hope so.

https://youtu.be/XJo6lN6cNm0

#kindness #purposefulkindness #Whatawonderfulworld #hope #peace #love #joy #StreetLights #TheKindnessClub #Grace