I hate to make this a blog of rants, and I hope that such does not come from this post, but keep in mind, dear reader, that it might.
These economic times are tough, I'll admit. Jobs are few and far between, so I am thankful for everything that I have. Even though the bosses can be overbearing, and the coworkers can stab you in the back, it pays the rent, it pays the bills, it gives me a few extra dollars for a sixer every now and then (which takes me a month or more to consume). However, I have a quirk that many are not prepared for, and indeed, often misunderstand. That quirk can be demonstrated by the following dialogue:
Coworker: Rosko, you made the following mistake, in fact, I know the pressure is on, and it's getting easier and easier to mess up, but this one was really easy to avoid. You need to get your act together in these tough times.
Rosko: I understand
C: But you keep making the same mistakes.
R: Thank you for pointing this out, I really appreciate it. Now, can we figure out how to work through this and make it better.
BINGO! There's the quirk. If I make a mistake, if I am in the wrong, I appreciate when people point it out. I even at times thank the for it, verbally. What do you think the response to this statement was? Was it "okay, lets talk about what we can do"? Was it "I'm glad to see you're willing to work through this"? NO! In fact, the comment was "Stop being such a smart ass, you always have a smart-assy comment to everything".
Now, let us back up a second. Why would anyone think this? Simply put, it's a misunderstanding of gratitude offered by our always self-serving and constantly degrading culture. You see, so many of these people, I have come to realize, make statements like I did as a way to seemingly appease the authority without getting into conflict. I am guessing that it has been done to this coworker and boss enough that when true gratitude is staring them in the face, they don't realize it. They would no longer recognize gratitude in this situation if it came up to them with a badge on that said "Hello, my name is Gratitude". You see, if I am going to be a 'smart-ass', I have to try really hard. It does not come naturally for me when I am under pressure. When I am under pressure, my reaction is to stop, listen, defend only if necessary, and try to resolve. So many people around my age are belligerent, selfish, and unwilling to resolve. This puts me into that situation, and I am not sure how to react. I appreciate when people tell me what's wrong, and REALLY appreciate if they are willing to help me work through it. But such gratitude is now foreign in our culture, and it stops me in my tracks, it keeps me from being myself.
So, what do you recommend I do in this situation? Do I continue to express gratitude, and engage the conversation to a point where I can try to make the parties involved happy? Or do I sit there with a blank look on my face, with no feedback, and seem no better than the people who are simply going against their conscience to appease the bosses and then admit that they said things simply for that purpose, with no true meaning behind them? I'm really not sure what to do!!!!
Image Credit: http://balanceforce.ca by way of Google Image Search.
I would not describe myself as someone who ever 'needed to be evangelized', at least, not by popular use of the term. I have spent most of my life in a Christian worshipping community, but I didn't appreciate my Christianity until I became Orthodox. Let me explain. It's something I came to fully realize at Pascha. You see, as a Lutheran, sure, we 'observed' Lent together, we had an extra service per week, we did things together, and we celebrated Easter together, but it wasn't the same. This year, my first Pascha as an Orthodox Christian (but not my first Pascha), I was able to fully take part in the joy of the Resurrection, the way it was meant to be. I got emotional, but after the Great Fast and Holy Week, the celebration was something that we had all been waiting for. To hear the words "Come recieve the light, from the Light, which is not overcome by darkness," to process singing "Thy Resurrection of Christ our Saviour, the angels in Heaven do sing, enables us on Earth to Glorify Thee in purity of heart." after processing just Friday behind the Buried Saviour, now singing about his Resurrection. What is there to say?
"Oh, those Orthodox just like to party!" No, we party because we have something to be joyous about. Christ is Risen, and life reigns! Christ is Risen, and not one remains in a tomb!. These words are the central cause to ALL our celebration. Without this Glorious Resurrection, nothing would matter, not one breath, or bite of food, or drop of vodka would have any meaning. But because of this, we share in all of these things which to ourselves we have denied. Christ is Risen, not just 3 words, but EVERY WORD, EVERY CONVERSATION, EVERYTHING ON EARTH summed up in 3 beautiful, glorious, life-giving words. Without the Incarnate God rising from his 3 days in the tomb, we would have nothing to celebrate. But He did, and He does, giving us all the joy in the world. Holy Week and Pascha reminded me that I can celebrate too, as an individual, but as a member of the community. A couple of very great friends did a lot for me during Holy Week in preparation for Pascha, they know who they are. I will forever be grateful to these friends for their friendship. I will forever, and annually, be thankful for my parish for giving me a place to celebrate the Resurrection with more fervor and joy and love than I have experienced anywhere outside of Orthodoxy. So now that I'm back to work, and life, and dishes, etc, I'm still beaming in the joy of the resurrection. I'm getting back to my worldly struggles, but with a new happiness, and a new hope. Glory to Thy Resurrection, O Lord!
Nothing else matters. Nowhere, at no time, does anything else matter. Christ is Risen!!!
At this time last year, I never thought I'd be what I'm saying today, and that is sad. You see, I have been in a position where debt has been accumulating. I thought there was no end in sight.
Slowly, I have begun to pay off one of the larger debts, and other things are starting to fall into place as well. Do I have any of it completely paid off? Not yet, BUT I'm getting there. The sure sign of this is the fact that today, for the first time in 3 years, I opened a new account at a bank: a savings account! Now, I can't guarantee that it will continually grow, but it will help me achieve certain goals financially by giving me a place to put money until I can pay off more of my debt.
Do I know everyone that I owe money to? No, honestly, I don't. I know the big ones, and those are very close to being out of my life for good! Then, it's small ones to take care of. But this new account will help me, I believe, to make that possible!
You have no idea how excited I am!
And always around the same time. Today, Feb 9, is my late father's birthday. I'm going to do what I always do: Rent Dr Strangelove and watch it. I used to own the film, but it has disappeared. But the title is about something else. I always start to get introspective and depressed. And no one notices until it all comes crashing down (I'm really good at putting on airs), so this time, I'm coming out front and saying it. This is one of those time. Right now. It will probably last for a good few weeks.
I have been reminiscing on old times, when my family was "complete" and many of us would be together for holidays, birthdays, etc. I miss those days, and especially today, I still get teary thinking about them. I miss when my mother wasn't sick, when my dad would take me and my brother out shooting model rockets into the air for hours on end. I miss the fireplaces and the Christmas tree that changed with the seasons. I miss actually communicating with my dad's side of the family, I miss them actually liking me and caring about me. I miss my nieces and nephews, my brothers and sister. I miss the members of my family I haven't seen in 5 years OR MORE! I always wonder what my father would think of me today. Would he be proud? Would he have disowned me too? I cannot know; I like to think that he would be happy with me.
But things change. Thankfully I am not completely alone. I have a wonderful parish family who supports me with prayer and fellowship, I have great priests who keep an eye out for me. I have friends who I can hang out with on occasion. People take me out for my birthday, have me over for Christmas or Thanksgiving. No, it's not the same, but it's better than being all alone. And for this I am forever thankful. Even if I don't show it, I am forever thankful.
I also have two wonderful choruses of men, mostly a good chunk of years older than me, who give me some worldly advice and help, who make me laugh, and with whom I create that sweet harmony in the barbershop style, the one that fills the man singing it with joy and happiness. These are the guys I go out and have a beer and sandwich with after rehearsal.
So, dear friends, brothers and sisters, please pray for me as I try to pull through this winter slump. And please pray for the soul of my father, Harry. May his memory be eternal!
I am registered, paid for, and have books for my classes. I am taking two independent studies to get back into the swing of things while not having to chisel out set times for EVERY class. So, two classes later, and here's my list of people to thank for making this possible:
My work, for providing me with a continued income.
My Church, for being so generous and gracious to me.
The Nikon Corporation, for whatever reason.
Anyway, that's all for now. Peace!
This past year has been one if mixed emotion, but I have accomplished a lot. It is the first Calendar Year of my life in which I had no schooling. Yes, I did not take a single class in 2008, but that allowed me some freedom to accomplish other things. 365 days ago I was alone in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Well, not quite. Some Deaf people at the Lutheran Seminary had invited me to a New Year's party, so we ate, drank, and watched the ball drop on TV. New Year's day I worked my job at the Cracker Barrel. The next 3 months were sorta nice. I started attending meetings of a Barbershop Harmony Society Chapter in Fort Wayne, picked up a second, but very temporary job, and visited my mother in Chicago once.
The weekend of March 14th change a lot, for it was on this weekend that I decided to move back to Chicagoland immediately. I made fast arrangements to move back. Some friends housed me for a month until I found a place to live, and I started attending St Joseph's. At this point I had been seeking instruction to become Orthodox for some time as well, this was PRIME TIME. So I began working 40 hours a week (give or take) at PJ's, attending all the services I could, and recieved instruction. I found the place with my current roommates in late April, after Pascha. I also found my current choruses, the Chorus of Dupage, and the Westtowns Chorus. The time since has been a great one, both in the sense that I am mostly back on my feet, but also that I have had true struggles that have built me up over time. As you all know, I resurrected this blog around the time of my Chrismation, on July 20. I am extremely thankful both for the friends I've made online, but for the friends I've made in person, both through work, and especially through my amazing and wonderful parish. So, now here, I would like to thank the people who have helped to make 2008 one of the hardest, but best year of my life:
Mr and Mrs Otto, and Jack and Rita, you guys are all great.
Stephanie, Kate, Marty, Aaron, the whole group, you are amazing friends
Matt, Chris, Phil (roommates) you guys put up with me, and for that I am grateful
ReaderJohn, Justinian, Juvenaly, Nico, Merc, you guys make my internet life more fun, I can't wait to get together with all of you.
Everyone in my blogroll.
My mother, who showed that even in times of great sickness, one cannot, MUST not lose faith.
My siblings, aunts, uncles, and grandmother, who have all showed me that I have what it takes to be a man with great courage and strength.
The PJ's crew, who have kept me sane even in times of trouble and struggle.
Fathers John, Joe, and Mykola, as well as Deacon John, along with their respective wives, who have shown me by example what it takes to be a successful Orthodox Christian aspiring to things bigger than myself.
Becky, Maria, Sophia, Rachel, Natalie, and all the other young ladies at St Joe's who I can talk to, and they will listen. You are all wonderful and I hope that we can spend more time together in 2009, and continue to foster friendships. Thanks for helping me become a part of the St Joe's community.
Jan and Pat Labun, who have become my mainstay. Knowing them has made me a better person, and they are great friends with a wonderful family and hearts bigger than most that I know. I enjoy spending time with all of you.
Mark, Josh, Paul, Andy, and all the other guys at St Joe's who have also helped me assimilate. You have helped this poor soul more than you will ever know.
My Sunday School class, who have shown me that I need some humility now and then.
The entire community at St Joe's who have made me feel like I am truly a part of the Church, even though I can not do much to contribute.
There are also many, many more. Many will not read this, and some might, but I pray that they are all blessed in ways unimaginable for the great help they have given me in 2008. May God grant us all many more years, and great blessings in 2009.
Christ is born!