Dear Jack: We Who Live on Dry Land are the Minority

5 years.

Dear Jack: You Got to Go on the Southern Star Dolphin Cruise in Destin!

Dear Jack,

Last month during your “destination birthday party” Mommy and I had for you for your 5th birthday party in Destin, Florida, you quickly took to the water.

The thing about it was, it wasn’t a warm, sunny day. Instead, it was the beginning of a windy, chilly day.

Yet you didn’t seem to notice at all that the climate conditions were not idea for swimming. As I pointed out in an Instagram out of the event, it must be your genes that enable you to be able to have that much fun.

Must be his traces of Norwegian blood on his Mommy's side keeping him warm. You won't see me in the water this morning...

Must be his traces of Norwegian blood on his Mommy’s side keeping him warm. You won’t see me in the water this morning…

As for me, I’ve never been that interested in descending too far into water that I can’t see the bottom of.

We as a family love being at the beach. But whereas Mommy and I are perfect content barely letting the later graze our toes as it washes up on shore, you would rather be in it.

You’re not concerned with jellyfish or cold water or whatever else is in that ocean. You have the ability to just enjoy playing in it.

Lexus GX 460 Family Road Trip: My Son’s Destination Birthday Party in Destin, Florida

Though we as a human race seem to forget this, we who live on dry land are the minority. Only about 1/3 of our planet is land, but about 71% of Earth is actually water.

The ocean is the most unknown part of our planet. Without proper breathing apparatuses and/or means of transportation, we can’t survive very long in the ocean; especially not down deep inside of it.

If we don’t drown, or starve, or die of starvation, or are crushed by the air pressure miles below the water, then we easily serve as prey to sharks.

Sure, if you take a shark out of water and put it in the middle of a busy street, it’s not much of a threat.

But that same analogy reversed shows how physically vulnerable we are out in the ocean.

Ocean animals, whether fish or mammals, are created to not only survive, but to thrive, naked in the ocean.

Dear Jack: You Got to Go on the Southern Star Dolphin Cruise in Destin!

Not us humans. Our survival rate out in the ocean is solely based on how not naked we are out there.

We humans live on about 1/3 of the earth’s surface, while all marine life lives on 2/3s of the planet.

I’m sorry, but ocean life is superior to us who live on land.

Even as we overfish and pollute the ocean, it only hurts us in the long run.

But as a 5 year-old, you’re not concerned with such grandiose concepts. All you know is, you love playing at the beach.

Love,

Daddy

Lexus GX 460 Family Road Trip: My Son’s Destination Birthday Party in Destin, Florida

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Do Aliens Really Exist?

Or more importantly, could they even get here?  And could they survive our living conditions?

Being a kid in northern Alabama in the late 1980’s and early 90’s, I was convinced that at any moment aliens could be on the verge of flying over me as I rode my bike, especially as I was heading back to the house as the sun was beginning to set on a crisp, eerie October evening.

There was a hysteria/fascination with UFO sightings where I grew up, as more and more families were able to afford camcorders. In the back of many peoples’ minds was the hope of filming one of these banana-shaped alien spacecrafts made famous on the local news, courtesy of some good ole boys in a town called Fyffe, who kept submitting their shaky footage of either a light pole or a plane at night.

Evidently I seem like the kind of guy that would be knowledgeable on the subject- in the last year especially I have been randomly asked by so many people the dreamy question: “Do you think aliens exist?” Good question. I have a good answer.

I truly want to believe in aliens, but there are two major issues with humans ever making contact with them. The first is how they would get here. Planet Earth is light years away from any other solar system. (A light year is the distance light travels in a year. For an idea of how far that is, light can travel around the Earth 7 times in one second.) If aliens were able to create a device that enabled them to travel to all the way to Earth, it would have to work similar to a teleportation device. Because that’s the only way to feasibly move a living creature that far in so little time.

And even if aliens invented a teleportation device to get to other universes, the chances of them finding our planet are literally astronomical. The universe has no end. So if there really is life outside of our planet (other than spiritual) then we surely can’t assume it’s just us and them. Surely there would be thousands, if not millions, of other planets with intelligent life forms. Chances are, they would discover countless other universes before they ever found us.

The other problem is that they most likely couldn’t breathe our air or survive in our climate. For example, human life can not survive on any of the other planets in our solar system. We would either freeze or burn within the first day of being there. Plus there wouldn’t be enough, if any, oxygen to breathe. The aliens would have to be coming from a planet that was almost identical to Earth in terms of its life sustaining qualities.

Do aliens exist? If they did, they couldn’t get here. And if they could, why would they choose Earth out of all the universes? And if they did choose Earth, they would die within the first day from our natural environment. I have always held this hidden hope that ET really would come back to Earth. I’ve been waiting since 1982.

Sometimes life is disappointing. This is one of those times. The chances of humans ever meeting aliens on Earth are… (unavoidable pun) …out of this world.

“Hey Mr. Spaceman, won’t you please take me along for a ride?” -The Byrds (“Mr. Spaceman”)

Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People and Good Things Happen to Bad People?

Slight of hand and twist of fate.

One of the most frustrating questions for people who are curious, yet skeptical, about Christianity is the fact that bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people.  I can’t claim to have the answer to that impossible question, but I can at least take a stab at it. 

Throughout the history of humanization, “man” has struggled to bring glory to himself- if it means conquering and killing, abusing others, taking them as slaves, and any other hellish action that can be filed under the category of “Greed”.  Man has become rich, by taking from others.  Man has become rich, and refused to share with others.  But in the end, it works for man.  Because he gets what he ultimately wants- glory. 

Ultimately, being rich and famous isn’t about knowing that you’ll always have all your needs and wants fulfilled.  It’s knowing that you’re above others, in a carnal sense.  That you are special.  That you are envied.  That others want what you have.  That’s the glory of man. 

What a waste.

I equate the glory of man with bringing hell to Earth.  Literally raising hell.  Instantly, I can think of three Biblical examples when man tried to bring glory to himself, he ultimately was cursed by God.

Adam eating the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, after Satan telling Adam that he could become like God.  Cursed.  The future of man would suffer death, evil, and pain.

Moses using his staff to draw water from the rock for all the people to drink.  Then instead of saying this miracle was by the grace of God, Moses himself took the credit.  Cursed.  He didn’t get to live in the Promised Land.

King David taking a military census with the intention of realizing how powerful and successful he was.  Cursed.  God brought a plague and hundreds and hundreds of people were killed.

In all three instances, God wanted the glory, but man took it from God.

Why do good things happen to bad people? God is blessing them (with power, wisdom, intelligence, money, health, etc.) and they are taking the glory for themselves.  By taking the glory, they are refusing God’s true blessing.  And that may mean that  instead of blessing the people that the bad person influences, the bad person now brings on an earthly curse to them instead.  Of course, in the end, the man who refused to give God the glory will be the one who is cursed in the worst way.

Why do bad things happen to good people?  Because in the end, if that person is willing to glorify God through it, the person will be blessed.  I equate glorifying God with bringing down heaven to Earth. 

God wants glory.  And so does man.  Good things happen when God gets it.  Bad things happen when man gets it.  But right now, God is allowing man to do what he likes.  Yes, God may choose to intervene.  But often He does not.  Because it’s possible that through a bad person’s bad actions, God can be glorified through an affected good person’s good actions- those actions include bringing glory to God through it, however they can find a way.

This concept even sheds light on why “you shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain” is so important that it’s one of the Ten Commandments.  We can chose to use God’s name to sound cool (“Oh my God!”, “Jesus!”, “Lordy, Lordy, Tammy’s forty!” etc.) or we can chose to use God’s name to actually reference Him in a purposeful, postive way (“The only reason the Nashville flood didn’t get my house is because God spared me”). 

Because even everyday good people like us still run the risk of taking glory from God.  In our everyday, ordinary events.  I try to keep that in mind at all times.  For me right now, it’s about my wife and I trying to sell our house. 

We work hard to keep our ads active on Craig’s List twice a day.  And we keep a good looking “for sale” sign out front with a plastic sleeve containing colorful, creative flyers.  We keep our house in immaculate condition.  Plus, we know for a fact that our asking price is thousands less than everyone else in our neighborhood. 

Yet it’s all the other houses that are selling.  All around us.  Because they’re going through realtors and we’re not. 

Everyday, throughout the day, together and while we’re apart, my wife and I pray not only for the right person to find our house, but also that God will be glorified through it.  Because as opposed to us saying, “WE sold OUR house!” we can say, “Thank God!  He brought us the right person and they bought our house!”

But even if He doesn’t bring someone to buy our house, if He doesn’t bless our solid efforts to sell our house without a realtor, and we have to throw in the towel and pay thousands to a realtor, God will still be glorified through it. 

Our lives ultimately are about one of two things- raising hell (by taking the glory) or bringing heaven to Earth (by giving it to God).

The First Steps on the Earth

I like to be where no man has gone before.



Ten years ago during the summer of 2000, I travelled to California for the first time in my life.  The plane landed in Sacramento (which ended up being the hometown of my wife, whom I would meet six years later), then I took a 3 hour bus ride north to Redding.  It was the token instance in my life where the airline sent my luggage to the wrong city.

Meaning that I, along with the group of ten or so others I was with, had to wait until the next day until our clothes and toiletries arrived.  Since that flight, I have always made a point not to bring on any luggage onto a plane other than my carry-on.  (I even spent an entire week in New Zealand in 2007 with just one bookbag of my belongings, which I was able to stuff into the overhead compartment for the flights.)

That summer, age 19, I was part of college singing group that got to spend two weeks out in the mountains of northern California as we performed songs at a summer camp and were the actual camp counselors as well.  Best I can remember, we thought we were pretty cool at the time.

Christi Soderberg, one of my friends from the group, always called me Peter Brady, because in an attempt to mock the college’s dress code, I “permed” my long shaggy hair, so that it would appear that my hair was short enough to be deemed acceptable (above the eyebrows, off the ears and collar).  And even after my hair eventually grew back straight, I was still Peter Brady.

During the weekend between the two weeks of work we were rewarded with a hiking trip to the top of Mount Lassen, which is an active volcano that’s peak is 2,000 ft high.  Because the volcano is so steep, the only safe way to climb it is to hike around and up it, which takes a good two hours minimum.  We started at the bottom in the hot summer sun, but by the time we reached the top, we were marching in snow.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Lassen

Mount Lassen

It was definitely my kinda thing.  Spending a Saturday morning hiking a volcano, shimmying up and over to the most dangerous and scenic spot once I reached the top, finding some weird satellite-type device in the process and wondering how few people in the world have been at that exact spot. That’s something I often think about.

How many people have stepped on the exact spots of the Earth I am standing on right now?  How often (seldom is the better word) do I step on “unstepped” spots?  I try to visualize all the ground around me covered in blue footprints, seeing random spots that have never been stepped on.

I realize the Earth is really old and that billions of people have lived here during its lifetime, but surely sometimes I take the first step on certain corners of the world.

The Winter Olympics is coming to an end.  These athletes (and ice skaters, whom I watch mainly to see fall after they do a Triple Axel jump and also to make fun of their sequin-infused outfits) live for the opportunity to break the current record.  I’ll never know the high that Shaun White gets to experience as he flies through the air on his snowboard.  My only experience snowboarding was in Maggie Valley, NC back in 2001 and involved me constantly falling over every 4.3 seconds.

I’m not an athlete who finds freedom and thrills in breaking records of Olympic history.  Instead, I am an explorer who finds freedom and thrills in discovering new niches of the world.  I may not be able to discover something new, but I can discover something rare.  It’s nothing impressive, really, to the rest of most of the world.  But for me, I thrive on those places and those moments.  Then I can take snapshots of the scenic route.

Related Posts by the Same Author:

The Scenic Route http://wp.me/pxqBU-pL

Parks and Rec http://wp.me/pxqBU-jw

WOLBI Florida Ensemble 1999-2000

My friend Christi Mack and I at the top of Mount Lassen in 2000 and 2001