Actually, I went to the airport to fly to Minneapolis, but some sort of faulty hydraulics in Fresno made me late to SFO. My connecting flight was in International(!), all the way across the airport from where I landed, so I ran. In fact, my technology tells me I ran 0.71mi in roughly 5m. With a bag in human traffic, that’s not bad. I arrived at the gate breathing heavy and sweating. Plane—still there. Terminal umbilical thingy—still there. Door—locked. I was 100ft away but it might as well have been 30,000ft. I was sad. So I took a picture of the plane that left me.
Basically, I get the Mondays on Sundays. I get cranky and irritable as it starts to sink in that Monday is coming. I start to dread getting back into the less flexible routine of our weekly existence of work and school. Of course, this has a tendency to spoil my last day off which in turn pisses me off too. And this Monday is the first one back after three weeks off, so it has a little extra resistance behind it. This doesn’t always happen, and has actually gotten better over the last few years, but I’m hoping that by writing about it now on Saturday, I’m releasing it so I can rise above it and enjoy tomorrow.
Anyone else out there get the Sundays? Remedies?
Throughout different postings of mine, I’ve explored and sometimes struggled with the idea of having and maintaining my actual personality online. There are, of course, lots of different ways people choose to portray themselves online, and for me, I’ve basically followed an idea I heard once: that your online identity is who you are in person, but amplified. I’ve always felt that just as we can’t hide certain aspects of ourselves in person, for better and worse, we shouldn’t hide those things online, even though it’s sometimes pretty easy to do. Yes, I can have a polished, flawless self online, but that’s not who I am. And as more and more of my interactions are online, I think that being more of my flawed, but more interesting self online, helps guide my interactions towards something more meaningful.
There are many aspects of this idea of bringing the real me to my online presence, but my last post about email got me thinking about signatures. You kids out there won’t believe this, but I didn’t have my own email account until I got to college, and even then, we used a Unix-based email client called Pine. It was a text-based email client with zero personality. No fonts, no color (other than black and white), and kind of hard to use actually. I had used Word processing programs and even page layout programs (remember Aldus Pagemaker?), but never email. So this idea of writing things, like letters, and sending them through space was pretty cool. Maybe it was the seriousness of the black-screend terminal in Pine though, or maybe it was my newbiness, but I felt like I had to be pretty formal in my compositions—at first.
As I got used to it though, I did find my voice and style in writing these early emails, dependent on audience of course, but one thing was missing for me: the signature. I’m not talking about your name and contact info, or a cute quote of philosphy. I’m talking about signing your name. Or here, I guess I’d have to say “signing”, because it wasn’t a signature. It was my name typed. Zero personality, just like that black terminal screen.
So much of our personality is conveyed just through our handwriting and how we sign our names, that while I don’t miss the body of my messages losing that—because honestly, no one can read my handwriting anyway—it didn’t feel right to so easily let go of my signature. Now, with a text-based email client you don’t have a lot of options, so I came up with “l u k e”. And thus was born what I might call my e-signature. I believe the year was 1997.
l u k e has become such a part of my online personality, that I don’t normally question it, and neither do most people. Occasionally I get people typing it back at me or signing their own name like that in their response, possibly to make fun of me, but I think while others might not give it much thought, they do notice it. After noticing it I think it’s immediately recognized for what it is: my signature. I have never seen anyone else sign their emails quite like it, just as I’ve never seen anyone sign their name with pen just like I do. Of course, this typed version is much easier to copy, but people don’t.
Honestly, it leaves me asking why? Why do most people just type their name as they would any other proper noun when signing an email? Why would anyone question it or make fun of it? We don’t look at people’s hand-written signatures and question it (most of the time). Why has it become “right” to sign my name Luke, rather than l u k e? Another argument: why does it matter? You’ve probably guessed that my argument is that it’s part of who I am, online. It’s how I sign my name and there is no wrong way. Everything else in my emails is up to spec with regard to formatting, grammar, and punctuation, but my name? It’s my name. Imagine if we all signed our hand-written names with perfect, proper cursive or print? Mmmhmm, my point exactly.
l u k e
One thing I’ve really been working and concentrating on lately is being in the moment. It takes a lot of effort for me to do this. Right now, I’m sitting in SFO on my way back from a work trip to Chicago, and it seems to me there are few better places to witness those in the moment—and those not—than at the airport.
I’ve been traveling for 12 hours now due to plane delays, and it’s been difficult not to be upset about what’s already happened, and it’s been difficult throughout the day not to worry about what might happen. And in this, I am not alone, and it’s pretty obvious to tell those in the moment from those that aren’t.
I’m going to take a little leap here and add that being in the moment means not trying to control what you can’t. If I’m focusing on what’s happening at this point in time, my vision is focused, and I can clearly see what’s possible. I’m able to see what I can do and am more able to let what I can’t control go.
As you can imagine, there were quite a few people upset today, and it was all about things that were out of their control. Our plane had a leak in the cockpit window and some people tried to take control by yelling at the gate agent. Others got angry because all later flights were booked. I even found myself blaming ORD and Chicago in general because I was upset too. I think it’s fine to be upset, but I’m working on getting out of that state as quickly as I can, and the best way to do this is to be in the moment. I looked at where I was sitting and was thankful I wasn’t on the runway waiting. I saw the mechanics inspecting the window and appreciated the fact that they knew where to look for the problem, and trusted that was the best course of action. I sat and waited and hoped for an opportunity to get home some time today but I let go of worrying about it. When I found myself wandering into the future with worry, I came back to my seat, the window, and observing my fellow passengers around me, and I was calmed.
It really takes almost all my effort to even come close to this kind of peace, but the more I practice and the more I succeed, the more I see how critical it is to my survival.
Many people say that they can’t not write or even that their life depends on it. I say let’s all just calm down. I mean, maybe they’re right. If I didn’t write I would certainly go on living—at least I would still be breathing. But I guess it’s true: I would get away with all sorts of things that would actually inihibit true living if I didn’t write.
If I didn’t put my thoughts and feelings down on paper, three hours later they wouldn’t have happened. Whatever was eating me up would be downgraded to “not a big deal” so then I wouldn’t have to deal with it. If I didn’t commit it to paper or the screen I could just rewrite my memory however was comfortable for me. I might just decide that “that thing” that screamed to be written down wasn’t heart-breaking, hilarious, important, terrifying, or beautiful because wouldn’t that be easier?
Wouldn’t it be easier to just ignore our human gift of notation and just let our experience soak into our marrow or evaporate into photos where we could just guess why that smile looked like plastic? Would it be easier to never really stretch our legs but just cruise along at half speed until this thing was all over?
If I didn’t write I could just let my tongue represent my entire self for however long we would stand around together trying to listen and then when we walk away, we could try and remember all that was said. If I didn’t write not only could I forget but so could you. We wouldn’t have to be connected at all beyond the five minutes we just gave each other.
If I didn’t write I wouldn’t have to feel my childhood and I could make up whatever memories for my children that I wanted to, later, using only faint facts that still remained lodged somewhere in my head, heavily seasoned by how my present self would feel the moment my kids ask, “Hey Papa, what were mornings like with me when I was two?” or “How did you get us to go to sleep when we were kids?” And because none of my experience, frustrations, and lessons would be written down I could relive them over and over and I wouldn’t have to make room for new things to grow.
If I didn’t write, if you weren’t within earshot of me, you wouldn’t have to relate to me or read this really hilarious thing I had been thinking about while watching people choose cheese at the grocery store. You wouldn’t have to know what life was like over here in my part of the world, and I certainly wouldn’t know about yours either. Hell, I might not even know that watching people choose cheese was hilarious if I didn’t write. Again, we could just stay separate and not laugh, love, learn, or grow. It would be fine. I mean, we’d still be breathing.
Why do American’s have such a short-term memory and lack of patience? Is it exclusive to our country or is it a global problem? Is it generational? Can we blame it on technology and the faster flow of information which fosters that need for instant gratification? So then, is it a first-world problem?Maybe if many of us didn’t have everything at our fingertips we wouldn’t take what we have for granted. Maybe if more of us had to wait for food or medical attention we would have more patience. You may see where this is going, but I’m about to shit all over the last elections, so if you don’t want to hear it, just go ahead and hit the back button on your browser now. It seems to me there were possibly three things at work in this mid-term election that caused the scales to tip back to Republican/conservative control:
- Some people who voted for Obama and the Democrats in 2008 changed their minds.
- Some people—particularly minorities and younger voters—simply didn’t vote.
- Jesus hates us.