Unlucky Numbers Like 666 and 13

I can only hold my own attention for so long at a time.

I noticed this several months ago, but now I’m going public with it.  My average post on Scenic Route Snapshots is right around 666 words long.  Sometimes 665 or 667.  Or if one day I write a short post that’s only 342 words, I’ll instinctly follow up the next day with one that’s 1008 words to average it out.  I never know how long it is until I finish and click the “publish” button.

What this means is that my mind is set on a predetermined default of how long it can focus on one subject, therefore, pacing me on finishing the thing without making it so long that I, myself, don’t get bored writing it, of course eventually reading it as well.  And the whole time incorporating enough personal stories and often driving it home with a unique ironic twist at the end.

If I could choose a different number for my default, I would.  Like 777.  But that’s the irony, that a guy who is not a Satan worshipper and that isn’t cool with Satan would by default write an average of 666 words per post.  And that, my friends, is a unique ironic twist.

And for another twist, this post isn’t even near 666 words long.  It’s just 218.

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My Categories: Nostalgia, People, Storytelling, Spirituality, Writing, and Recaps

What’s my writing style?  Spumoni.


If I was smart, I would listen to the authors of “how to be a writer” and “how to have a popular website” books when they clearly tell me, “Find your niche and just focus on it alone.”  Then I could be like the fortunate clever-minded writers who all now have book deals simply because of the popularity of their WordPress websites:

http://stuffwhitepeoplelike.com/

http://stuffchristianslike.net/

http://1000awesomethings.com/

Here’s the problem though- I’m not attracting just one type of reader.  I’m luring in several different types of people who are both completely unrelated to each other and yet at other times couldn’t be more alike.  It sort of reminds me of the way that MSN’s home page (http://www.msn.com/) is set up.  Their main categories are news, entertainment, sports, money, and lifestyle.

By default, I have ended up emulating that concept, only mixing it up with my own alternative, off-beat main topics.  Instead of the mainstream-friendly Neapolitan (chocolate-strawberry-vanilla) topics, my twisted version is more like Spumoni (chocolate-pistachio-cherry). *Ironically, Spumoni came first (from Italy), but by the time it became popular in America, it evolved into Neapolitan.

I have come to the conclusion that there are ultimately six main categories I write about: nostalgia, people, storytelling, spirituality, writing, and recaps (of TV shows, mainly).  (“Uncategorized” is an additional generic title given to all my posts as well.)

Of course I struggled with making “Jewish references” and “humor” their own separate categories, but just like a few other “should I make these their own categories?” categories, certain topics aren’t simply things I write about; they’re a part of everything I write.  It would just simply be redundant; stating the obvious.

Being able to read through an entire one of my posts without coming across the words “Jew”, “Jews”, or “Jewish” somewhere in there is about as rare as biting all the way through a Chips Ahoy! chocolate chip cookie without eating a chocolate chip.  And I would hope that there is at least a little bit of irony that comes across as humorous in most of what I write as well.  I shouldn’ have to label it “funny”, otherwise I may be defeating the purpose.

This is just a cool picture. In reality, I do not actually offer newsletters (unless you subscribe to this site; that would count), competitions, free ice cream, or much more.

So who am I attracting on a daily basis?

Fans of LOST, Dexter, The Bachelor, and/or The Bachelorette.  Jewish people.  Christians.  People who grew up in the 1980’s.  People concerned with healthy living.   People who found my website by searching one of those things and then saved my website in their “Favorites” and forwarded the link on to their friends.

In other words, my readers are as random as I am.  Random Spumoni.  Takes one to know one.  Welcome to the club.

Real Life Thoughts on Death and the Afterlife

 What if I was wrong this whole time?

At the times of my life where I have doubts about my faith, by default, a few things come to mind which always bring me back to security.  After all, it’s not so difficult to get distracted with thoughts like, “with all the different religions in the world, only one can be right…how do I know I picked the right one?” 

I instantly remind myself that Christianity is the only religion where a person can not be a good enough of person on their own to earn eternal life: Aside from doing “good works” (helping those in need) a person has to become humble enough to rely on the grace of God to save them, through faith. 

Both necessary elements of salvation (good works and God’s grace) are based in love.  Our love for all other people (which reflects our love for God) and God’s love for us. 

If nothing else, the fact that Christianity is the only major religion in the world that requires love for it to work, that’s enough for me: We love God by loving other people; He loves us by showing us grace (undeserved blessings). 

And while it may seem New Age, or like a medieval fairy tale, or even an idea as “out there” as something from the show LOST, I can’t deny that it’s impossible not to think about what happens when we die.  Especially when someone in real life, that I know personally, dies. 

I don’t see how a person could go to a funeral and not seriously question what will happen when they themselves die.  It takes so much faith to say, “I belief when we die, we die” or “I’m a pretty good person, if there’s a heaven or an afterlife, I think I’ll make it”.  I don’t have enough faith to say that.

And since I have less faith, I instead believe in Christianity.  Because for me, it takes a lot of pressure off of me.  My good works aren’t the cause of my salvation; they’re the proof of it.  The rest, God’s has already taken care and is taking care of and will always take care of.

Worst case scenario: I’m wrong.  I live my entire life under the belief that a sinless Jewish man over 2,000 years ago somehow took on all the wrongdoings of every person in the world’s past and future by allowing Himself to die so that He could live with them in eternity, then came back to life to tell us to let everyone know that He loves them and that we should love others through our actions. 

So I spend time studying an ancient holy book written by a bunch of (mainly) Jews, memorizing the highlights of it that stick out the most to me.  And instead of by instinct worrying about things I can’t control (like trying to sell my house), I pray about them in the best faith I have, knowing that God will be glorified through it. 

And by doing my best to follow the teachings of that ancient book, I end up staying out of trouble, for the most part.  I eventually die and at my funeral people say that I was a good person and that I loved the Lord.

But in this worst case scenario, let’s say I was wrong about it all.  Let’s say that this life really is all there is- so I die and that’s it.  I have no consciousness or memory; I exist no more.  Like I was never born.

That worst case scenario is a risk I’m willing to take.

But aside from me thinking that Christianity is the best fit for me compared to other religions, aside from the fact that death itself makes me think about what happens when I die, there is the fact that life itself points me to a Creator. 

And if there is a Creator who took the creative thought and the time to invent the universe and the people in it, there I want to know who He is.  And if I know who He is, I want Him to like me.  And if I want Him to like me, I’m gonna find a way to do it.

So I did.  And ultimately, all those “God-given” thoughts led me to becoming a Christian. 

Christianity in a nut shell:

Ephesians 2:8-9: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, not that of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one may boast. (Shows the importance of being humble enough through faith to accept God’s love for us through the sacrifice of Jesus.)

 Ephesians 2:10 “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared behforehand so that we would walk in them.”  (Shows the importance of our love for other people through our good works, which mirrors God’s love for us and is proof that we love God.)

Assigned Seats: Many Friendships We Have are “Forced”

It’s a little something I call “forced friendship”.

It was always a bittersweet moment when as an elementary school student, I would walk into the classroom Monday morning and realize that my desk was on the other side of the room.  I would now be sitting next to other kids that I hadn’t necessarily been around much before.  This also meant I would no longer be sitting close to the friends I had made while at my previously assigned seat.

Boy, this is just a life metaphor waiting to happen.  Don’t beat me to the punch…

Do we choose our friends?  Yes.  But so often, by default.  Whether because of proximity through work, school, church, current circles of friends, or even marrying into a family, we find ourselves in what I call “forced friendships”.

And I don’t say that like it’s a bad thing.  It’s good.

I use the word “forced” because the reality of friendship is that we don’t usually go out to places looking for friends.  Friends just happen.  We end up in the same place at the same place, often on a reoccurring basis.  And in each location, the people that have the most in common or whose personalities compliment each other the most, are naturally going to become friends.

It’s not typical for one person to walk up to another person that they barely know and say, “Let’s be friends.”  Because it’s much more natural to let the Assigned Seats of Destiny direct us in our human relationships.

The concept of forced friendship became apparent to me in 2008, the year that my sister got married in January, and I in July, just six months apart.  In the same year, I gained a brother-in-law (my sister’s husband) on one side of the family, then seven brothers-in-law (my wife’s brothers) and two sisters-in-law (my wife’s sisters).  Before 2008, I had no in-laws at all.  In a matter of six months, I acquired plenty of them.

And through that process, the ones I have spent the most time with became the ones I obviously know the best, and therefore, have the strongest friendships with.  We are family by marriage, but that doesn’t take away at all the friendship aspect of it.

Each one brings out different sides of my personality, hobbies, and interests.  As we reflect our similarities and common ties.

For example, my sister’s husband Andrew and I are just a few years apart, having grown up playing the same old school Nintendo games, both having grown up in Alabama, and both obsessed with LOST.  In fact, he’s the reason my sister started watching LOST, which is why I am now obsessed.  Throughout the week, we send each other stupid website links and YouTube videos.  The perfect combination of a brother and a good friend.

On the other end of the brother-in-law spectrum, there is Tom up in Pennsylvania, who is the husband of my wife’s 2nd oldest sister.  We only see each other about twice a year and there is about a 10 year age difference between us.  In fact, he and my wife’s sister got married when I was in Junior High and they had their first kid the year I graduated high school.

Yet we have a whole lot in common.  When our wives are together, we let them catch up.  And we just do our own thing.  Whether it’s playing cards, shooting pool, watching movies, or playing with the kids.  We live the laid-back life together.

Being around him is like that seeing my life ten years into the future.  What little recent experience I have being around kids is from his two daughters.  I watch carefully how he talks and interacts with them.  His calm-assertiveness gives them the direction they need while still keeping the environment positive and loving.

Having the ability to choose isn’t everything.  Sometimes it’s better for someone or something else to make our decisions and life plans for us.  The funny thing is, the friendships I have sought out after never seem to last, like a trend or a fad.  If anything, those friendships are the ones that actually ended up feeling forced.

Whereas the forced friendships have always seemed natural.  So there we have it, friendship is a force.  And with all there is to gain from forced friendships, I can’t help but be thankful for assigned seats.

Similar post from the same author: The Invisible Touch, Yeah (The 2nd Installment)