Journal Entry # 1: The Shame of Indifference

My grandfather died back in 2010. I remember feeling mixed emotions about it because I did not consider us close. In fact, most of the memories that I have about him are bad ones, which is odd, considering that he was a Presbyterian minister when he retired. Apparently, he was well-liked by some, but he never had cared for how we, his family, felt about him as far as I could tell.

I was stunned when we walked into the church for the service. It was quite large and mostly full of elderly folks that I did not know. Honestly, I remember it being somewhat empty, which was akin to how I felt about the whole ordeal. As the service went on, I just wanted to leave. Emotionally, I was doing fine until we walked out, and I noticed my oldest brother lightly sobbing just enough that I could hear. After that, I broke down. Nine years later, I sometimes wonder what made it so emotional for me, especially since I am sorry to admit that I felt little more than the obligatory love for the man. To get there, we must continue the day.

After leaving the church, we, of course, arrived at the cemetery. As we approached the gravesite, the horror had set in. There was nobody there. Things quickly unraveled as, if I remember it correctly, we had to go so far as to have my mom and aunt help us carry his casket to the grave. It was somewhat shocking that there was so little emotional investment in this man’s death that his two daughters-in-law had to help carry him for the final time. It was at this point that I thought again about why my brother’s tears set mine off.

Truthfully, I was annoyed by it when it happened because I did not want to cry for my grandfather. I came to the conclusion that his crying reminded me of a genuinely broken-hearted child. I told myself that he must have felt the same as I had. He wasn’t crying for himself, for our grandfather, or for the memories that we had made and shared. He was crying for the ones that we did not and would never have.

Eventually, another sad realization hit me. I barely knew the man. I remember my grandmother or father, perhaps both, asking me if there was anything of my grandfather’s that I would like to have. Since he was a minister, I wondered if there were any sermons or notes that he had written. I just wanted to know him better than I did. I’d be lying if I said that there was no shame on my part for feeling this way, but the truth isn’t something that you speak. Honestly, I hate the phrase people use these days that usually involves a gag-inducing movie scene or social media interaction in which one person encourages another to “speak their truth.” The truth isn’t yours, and it isn’t mine. It simply is.

As I’ve gotten older, I see glimpses of my grandfather in my actions. For example, I have his temper, which is not a good thing and can often be impatient, especially in public settings. I’ve always had some anxiety being in public and now wonder if he possibly had the same issue. I also very often feel misunderstood, which makes me wonder if he thought the same because I certainly never understood him. Besides, I have always been pretty good at putting on a polite show when I do go around town, as much as I dislike doing so. I’ll open doors for old ladies and sometimes guys if they are carrying something. There’s a fine line when it comes to one man holding the door for another. Like my grandfather, it seems that the four moods of happy, sad, tired, or angry dominate me even if I feel that they do not necessarily define me. I do love classical music and give him credit for that as well. I usually explain that I like classical music so much because you can’t hear another person’s voice during it typically.

The real reason for writing this post was actually an idea that I had shortly before or after my first son was born. I wanted to write a journal of sorts, the 100% all-beef version of the diary so that my sons can know just about anything about me that they would want and possibly some things that they will wish that they did not. Considering that my son will be ten years old this year, it was apparent that I had failed miserably with executing this plan. So, this seems to be the first official entry. I decided not to lock it with a tiny key and hide it under the mattress, but you’ll have to bring your own faux leather smell I’m afraid.

 

 

Why the World Actually is Flat

I’m sure that most people have heard that there are pockets of folks around who have rekindled the belief that the world is flat. Yuri Gagarin, John Glenn, and many more with the first-hand experience would wholeheartedly disagree with that statement. Physically speaking, the Earth is most definitely not flat. It is a fact. However, the world HAS become flat. Allow me to explain.

Regrettably, technology has very much begun to bite us in the arse. While it’s not the dystopian rule of artificial intelligence that went from cleaning the skid marks from our undies to eliminating all humans to protect us from ourselves, we are still suffering at the hands of technology nearly as much as we are benefiting. Don’t get me wrong; I love tech more possibly than the next person but the time that I went to work and left my phone at home still haunts me. It was not pretty and certainly made me feel silly.

The dominance of social media, fake news, alt-facts, and the idea that we can choose the facts that we want to believe and vice versa has created a bizarre ecosystem of doubt, mistrust, and knee-jerk reasoning. People think with their feelings. Somehow, there is a disturbing possibility that more Americans will believe in angels than a round Earth. If by angels you mean the big, funny dude that you went to school with then, yes, I believe in Angels.

Another fact is that you really cannot believe everything that you see or read on the internet. There is substantial misinformation whether it be a mistake, lie, or manipulation. For example, the news people are spreading about the Earth being flat is likely all of the above. Everyone knows that this is true, but it seems now it is being taken advantage of to the point that ANY information on the internet is treated as a la carte. In other words, it’s true if it fits into my view of the world and false if it does not.

Whenever I meet a new coworker, typically a kid in his twenties, I always tell them that if all else fails just play dumb if you screw up. Why? Because people so desperately want to believe that everyone else is stupid, incompetent, or incapable that they will jump at the chance to have that affirmation. What’s more is that people like to have an actual stupid person around to make them feel better about themselves. This is nothing new. It’s akin to the big group of girls with the one ugly friend that has a great personality. No offense, that’s just an example that people get. Don’t shoot the messenger.

We’ve lost hold of things that are real, tangible. Entertainment primarily exists in the ether of the internet, especially books and music. Even friends mostly live online and strain the definition of the word. What happens when the robots stop eliminating the stains from our nether garments and start eliminating us? I don’t know, we need the fancy robots first. The take away is that maybe we should embrace what is right in front of us. Stop telling me to shut up while you have a typed conversation with another person who isn’t in the room. Once again, History is laughing as we endeavor to prove its point yet again. We can always see past that which is in right front of our face and seem to do so simply because we have the luxury.

Copyright © 2017 by Adam L. Cobden. All Rights Reserved.

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I'm sure that most people have heard that there are pockets of folks around who have rekindled the belief that the world…

Posted by Adam L. Cobden on Monday, December 4, 2017

If at First You Don’t Succeed is a Friend Indeed

I’ve always gotten a kick out of it whenever people mess up a saying so, to that end, I decided to try out this series of shorter, possibly lazier, blog posts. Here we go.

If at first, you don’t succeed is a friend indeed. As I tried my hand at mashing common sayings together, this one came across as more succinct, in my opinion, than other attempts which means it required far less creativity to hash out, for better or worse.

As I try to make writing a more significant part of my life, I can certainly relate to the idea that one cannot just write one book or a few blog posts and expect any kind of instant gratification or the naive hope that minds will be blown. There is definitely something very personal about writing because it is the transference of one’s thoughts into a physical, permanent form. Afterwards, they can be readily picked apart, for one reason or another, or ignored entirely. Thoughts are one of the few things that we can all keep for ourselves in this ever-increasing age of knowing everyone’s business all of the time and five minutes after said business is concluded. With social media in mind, it might be that our thoughts are somehow simultaneously our most precious and frivolous commodities.

At the heart of this mash-up, to me, is the notion of just not giving up on yourself for any reason. Setbacks will happen, then they will pass, and more will come. The lessons learned the hard way tend to be the ones that stick with us and, hopefully, leave us wiser in the end. Embrace your failures. Look past the negative feelings that they conjure and slay them the next time around. None of us are perfect, but we often expect perfection when it was never there in the first place. Respect history and I don’t mean the one that we learn from books during school. Although, we might do well to remember that as well.

Perhaps a better way to say that is to respect your past. When I was in my twenties, I wish I knew half of the things that I know now. There is an excellent reason that we hear that said so often. It’s because it is right despite your station in life. Both a Supreme Court Justice and a crackhead will have in common this sentiment, though sometimes these two examples are the same person.

To wrap this up, I will echo once again that the search for perfection is buried in the corner of the cave wherein lives Sasquatch, which is in Canada somewhere. I’m convinced that Sasquatch is Canadian. I felt compelled to mention that. Let me get back on track here. And…done. Just because you fail many times, doesn’t mean that you are or must be a failure. The best warriors always had battle scars, and they almost always look really cool. Make no mistake, life is one big battle, and the war isn’t over until the final breath. In our own lives, we are supposed to be the hero, not the coward. In a foxhole, there is only fear and darkness, I’ve had my fair share of both. Whether or not that is what you want, is up to each one of us to decide.

Copyright © 2017 by Adam L. Cobden. All Rights Reserved.

I've always gotten a kick out of it whenever people mess up a saying so, to that end, I decided to try out this series…

Posted by Adam L. Cobden on Friday, October 13, 2017

 

To Err: Being Human Amidst a World of Intolerance

This sort of post isn’t typically my style, but I’ve been having this conversation with myself lately, which quickly became intriguing. With that in mind, I did some quick and dirty research on the topic of religion. Now, I don’t consider this a religious post, and if you read the entire article, I think that you will mostly agree with that statement. Hey, that’s the best I can do. After all, I’m not perfect and would not dare pretend otherwise.

So it seems that about 85% of the world are religious or believe in a higher power in one form or another, that’s 6 billion of the 7 billion or so people in the world. Of those, there are over 2.2 billion Christians, 1.8 billion Muslims, 1 billion Hindus, 500 million Buddhists, and another 500 million of what is known as folk religions which consist of people from Africa, China, America, and Australia. Sadly, there are less than 20 million Jews in the world. All of these figures are estimates and are likely inaccurate as soon as compiled. For this article, they’ll suffice since they need only portray the world’s religious affiliation as a sketch, which they do nicely.

Now that we’ve laid a foundation, we can come to the question that I asked myself which prompted me to write this post. If God is all-powerful and omniscient, meaning that God knows everything and can do anything, then why do humans seem to think that God is a moron? This question reminds me of a saying that I use that goes like this: “No matter how dumb a person is, they still think they are smarter than everyone else.”

To be clear, I don’t believe that people think that God is a moron. It was simply the question I asked myself that became the steam behind this train of thought. The next part might be where this whole idea can get tricky so I will do my best to lay it out in an understandable manner.

So it seems that about 85% of the world are religious or believe in a higher power in one form or another, that’s 6 billion of the 7 billion or so people in the world.

The majority of people that believe in a God are Christian, Muslim, or Hindu, a total of roughly 5 billion of the world’s population. I can leave the Buddhists out of this part because it is my understanding that they do not believe in a creator. Besides, I’m confident that they won’t mind. Getting back to the point, most religious people believe in a creator so they must believe that God also created the people of other faiths as well. For example, if you are a Christian, wouldn’t you think that God created the Muslims, Hindus, and Jews? Hold that thought.

The point that I am getting at is this: an all-powerful, omniscient entity knows what it is doing. People all over the world speak different languages, dance their dances, sing their songs, and make vastly different meals. Of course, that is merely the tip of the iceberg, but you can see where I am going with this. The world is full of people of varying cultures, and we are often more than happy to take the parts of other’s culture that we like and make it a part of our own. When that happens, it is quite beautiful and flattering; one would hope.

If God is all-powerful and omniscient, meaning that God knows everything and can do anything, then why do humans seem to think that God is a moron?

With so many cultures and languages in the world, it’s easy to understand that we may not often figure out why one group feels this way, another feels that way, and “we” believe the correct way, for instance. “We” being the holder of the point of view in any given situation. Even within Christianity, half of which are Catholic, people differ in the proper manner to practice the faith which is why Catholics, Presbyterians, Baptists, Lutherans, and Methodists exist. Is there anything wrong with that? I don’t think so, and I will even take it a step further, perhaps two.

A Christian, Muslim, and Hindu walk into a bar. Who precisely knows what to say to each of them to make them believe in something bigger than themselves? Survey says—an all-powerful, omniscient being. Some of us speak English, Russian, Chinese, or Spanish, and even with a translator, the meaning of words, phrases, and sayings are not always adequately conveyed. Hence the phrase “lost in translation.” A supreme entity can take one group of like minded people and reach them through Christianity, another group through Islam, another with Hinduism, and yet another through Buddhism, perhaps. Cultural and linguistic differences are powerful enough to cause confusion among people of differing societies. Not only that but once you factor in schools of thought and traditions, it gets increasingly difficult to communicate effectively especially on matters as dearly held as religion or spirituality.

When it comes to religion or spirituality, perhaps the only question that can be asked of anyone is: Are you happy? If a person is content with the route that they take to spirituality, then that should be enough for the rest of us. Obviously, there are extremes at play in regards to almost anything, religion and spirituality are no different. Are you saying that it’s okay to worship Satan as long as the worshipper is happy? That is an example of an extreme, in case that is somehow not obvious, and does not apply to most people. What I am saying is, it’s probably none of my business, and I am in no place to judge, though most of us do anyway.

If a person is content with the route that they take to spirituality, then that should be enough for the rest of us.

I’m not here to tell anyone what to do or when to do it, or how. If you do believe in a great big sky daddy in one form or another, maybe you should give this entity of extreme power the benefit of the doubt. Some folks love dogs, some cats, and some hate pets altogether. There are even some weirdos that like any and all pets. That could be an oversimplification, but, as a parent, even I know that I have to handle my kids’ moods by employing different methods. So, when approached by several groups of people that live in completely different places and in different ways, is it so far-fetched to believe that a being of such power would know that a different approach just might be the way to reach them? In conclusion, I’m just going to repeat that saying that has come to be a favorite of mine.

No matter how dumb a person is, they still think they are smarter than everyone else.

Copyright © 2017 by Adam L. Cobden. All Rights Reserved.

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Copyright © 2017 by Adam L. Cobden. All Rights Reserved.

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“I’m not the person that you think I am, and I’m not the person that I thought I was. Let’s see who I will be today.”

–  Adam L. Cobden

Confabulation of Quotes – “The pen is mightier than the sword.”

“The pen is mightier than the sword”- Edward Bulwer-Lytton, 1839

This quote is so familiar these days and has been almost instantly since the 1840’s, that even that pretentious friend at your dinner party won’t dare try to throw it in your face. You know, the one that nobody can figure out who invited.

You can search the internet and have your pick of articles that theorize the origin of the sentiment. It’s widely agreed that it was not an original idea belonging to Edward Bulwer-Lytton, but, apparently, he indeed executed it better than anyone else. I’m not here to regurgitate that.

What does it mean? Again, you could make quick work of this question with a simple Google search. What you might find is someone that wrote an article filled with information from internet searches of their own. Undoubtedly, it would be full of instances of who said something similar before, what it means, and why it is or is not different or the same. To be honest, I know the saying, all adults do, but I had no clue who Edward Bulwer-Lytton was before my search, and, unlike some folk, I’m not going to pretend otherwise.

The appeal to this particular quote is rather uncomplicated. First, it’s short and to the point, which allows it some mysterious bonus points that I just made up. Second, the quote expresses so much with the use of so few words. Imagine the bonus points now. Finally, it’s easy to remember, perhaps the best part. I just quit keeping score.

I think it speaks directly to our desire to cheer for the underdog. The pen is clearly David while the sword must be Goliath. However, the conundrum has to be that after history has taught generations these same lessons, at what point does David become the sword. Oddly, as I write that, the words somehow do not make much sense, but I completely understand the meaning of them. Perhaps that is the point.

The Crusades are an excellent example, in my opinion. Now, I’m hardly an expert on the matter, and I always give the lessons to be learned from history much more weight than the facts, which are debated infinitely in some cases. In this case, the pen, written word or at least the interpretation of it, were widely used, on all sides, to convince people to fight for holy land. The actual reasons behind that are not a matter for debate as far as this post is concerned. I’m merely going to bend this example to my will to further my point. What did you expect?

The pen creates the word that inspires thousands, millions maybe, to take up their sword in defense of one cause or another. Strangely, the attackers and defenders were always fighting to “defend” something. So, it’s defenders versus defenders now. In other words, I’m right, my mind won’t change, and you think you’re right, you won’t change either. See what I did there? The only option is a battle to the death, Kirk vs. Spock style I hope. At this point, you should be shouting “Aaron Burr” with a mouthful of peanut butter.

There are other mighty pens; the Fisher Space Pen comes to mind. People widely believed, even I thought it at one point, that NASA spent millions developing a pen that could write in outer space while the Russians were happy to use pencils. It’s untrue. Long story short, NASA did not spend any taxpayer money to develop it, and the space pen saved them money in the end. Even the Russians used it. If you think it’s still dumb, realize that when an astronaut sharpens a pencil, the shavings can wreak havoc in zero gravity, letting slip the dogs of war. Okay, maybe that last part was too dramatic, on purpose.

In my mind, a pen is the father of the pencil, but, in essence, they are the same thing. On the one hand, we have a pencil who’s shavings could cause a space shuttle to explode. That’s rather mighty. On the contrary, we have a pen that can write in space, already potent, and cost the equivalent of seven or eight million dollars, in 2016 dollars, to develop. That will buy a lot of assault rifles, so I think it’s fair to say that pen is also plenty mighty.

The pen, as in penitentiary, is also incredibly mighty. If you factor in mandatory minimums, I think it’s an easy decision to make. In fact, the good ole USA has about five percent of the world’s population and twenty-five percent of the world’s prisoners. I’m not shedding new light on this by any means. Sadly, this fact is as well known as the quote that we are talking about here, maybe more so. I don’t think we should ruin the lives of young people for making one mistake just because that error involved drugs. There are even people in jail only because they cannot afford bail and ultimately plead guilty to crimes that they often have not committed. These issues deserve more time than I can give in a paragraph, so let’s move on. Suffice to say; this is yet another mighty pen, justice need not apply.

In summary, the pen is mightier than the sword. In many situations, the pen is the sword. Perhaps the quote should be, “The pen is a tiny sword,” or “The pen is the mightiest sword.” Whatever the case may be, it all comes down to an individual’s point of view, like so many things in life. Okay, I concede that the penitentiary was a bit of a stretch. Was it, though? It strikes at the heart of the meaning of the quote; an idea put into practice is far stronger than the tool of a trade. Even when that trade is a warrior, and that tool is an instrument of death.

Copyright © 2016 by Adam L. Cobden. All Rights Reserved.