Archive for category Philosophies
Tweet*Consider this your warning that I’m going to be using a LOT of ambiguous language here.*
This post was inspired by a talk I attended tonight by an ecologist who talked about his conflict between science and faith. In the Q&A, I asked about his thoughts on the afterlife. I guffawed in appreciation at his remark, “I once heard that when we die and meet God, we’re going to have all of our answers. We’re going to have all the knowledge. I seriously hope not! To have all the answers and to know everything there is to know? I can’t imagine a worse place for a scientist!”
There are days when I wonder if the afterlife is going to be as interesting as the conversations here on earth that debate its existence.
I believe in heaven.
Meaning, when my heart stops beating, my lungs stop inhaling, and my brain stop functioning, something that is uniquely mine – some call it a soul – or whatever makes me ME is not going to stop. It’ll continue somehow.
I believe there is going to be some kind of transition and the manner in which we have come to know knowledge, primarily through our senses, will be perfected.
I believe that we will communicate in ways that involve but are no longer limited to spoken language.
I believe that the feeling when we realize we’re heading to heaven will be something akin to the feeling when you make a delightful discovery here on earth. Like when my mind is cracked open by a new perspective, or theory, or school of thought to explain a truth about the human condition. That CRACK is not a sound in my head. It’s a feeling, like a magnetic pull toward something where all things make sense.
I believe that in some illuminated, neon kind of way, we are going to see the world as it was, as it is, and how it should be and this will fill us with emotions, humility, and peace.
I believe there is going to be some kind of ridiculously funny absurd element to heaven. Like, I’m going to get there and find God is my twin. And when you see God, you’ll see your twin. And then they’ll be some obvious reason why that is and I’ll think, “OF COURSE! Why didn’t I think of that on earth?”
I believe that my fear of forever will melt like candy in the rain.
I don’t believe heaven is what we want it to be, like how it’s portrayed in horribly produced and poorly directed book-to-film movies like The Lovely Bones or anything resembling Mitch Albom’s projections in The Five People You Meet in Heaven. I don’t even believe that there is going to a spiritual war for souls, as predicted by a 4 year old who claimed to sit with God in Heaven is for Real. I believe that heaven lays beyond what we most desire, beyond our own cognizant understanding of desire. I believe it is what we were created for and what we return to: home.
I don’t believe that purgatory is going to be a fire burning one inch from our skin while we’re roasting like rotisserie chickens with our sins dripping off us like fat. I believe that purgatory is going to be the place where we come into a full understanding of our earthly lives and its significance and impact on others. I believe that purgatory is going to be the moment we are more humbled than at any part of our existence. Purgatory is where we come into full understanding of life. Heaven is where we have a full understanding of God.
I believe that even though that last paragraph I wrote probably made little to no sense to anyone but me, I do believe that heaven is going to be insanely simple.
I don’t know how Nick, Isaiah, and my family members will relate to me once we are there, but I believe that the special ways we revealed God to each in this life will also carry meaning in the afterlife.
I don’t know what it means about hell if I write that I believe in heaven. Mostly, the idea scares the living shit out of me and I try not to think of myself heading toward an existence that is void of meaning, a catastrophic case of indifference. I think of hell as a state of utter anxiety, envy, half-ness, restlessness, and lies. I imagine the worst pieces of earthly depression – where absolutely nothing breaks the surface of your soul – and add a thousand layers of impenetrable skin. Hell is the place where the only thing that can touch your soul is God and God is not there.
I don’t know what it means to be saved. I don’t know what being “saved” means when we have free will. We can choose to save ourselves by doing xyz or we choose not to.
I don’t know what God is going to look like, but I have a tiny idea of what God is going to feel like. Hint: Awesome.
I don’t know what other religions or faiths believe of the afterlife, but I have a feeling I’m going to be hanging out with all the souls that believed in leading lives that reflected some level of commitment to the common good, neighbor, selflessness, creativity, and prayer.
I believe that there is a 98% chance that none of this is accurate and it’s still going to blow my soul into a million parts of joy.
TweetFor those who know us best, the gene that determines competitiveness runs strong in both Factora and Borchers families. It has to. I’ve never met anyone who’s more competitive than I am. That is, not until I met Nick.
Competitiveness comes in many forms. There’s the obvious kind that reveals itself in sports. The Michael Jordan/Tiger Woods (sans sex scandal) kind of competition. This is the “I CANNOT LOSE. EVER.” gene which makes athletes train twice as hard and cultivates a near military discipline that most of us civilians would find unbearable.
Then there’s other genes of competition, more subtle but just as lethal. This competitive gene revolves around the oratory debate stratosphere, aka “I MUST BE RIGHT. I AM RIGHT.” kind of thinking. It’s a gene that makes its way into the most innocuous of situations – bowling, finding a parking space, starting a campfire, any household project, insurance claims…
You think these situations are not competitive? Move in with us for a week, you’ll understand after that.
No matter what the situation, Nick and I often pit ourselves against the opponent, be it a piece of stubborn firewood that will not flame up along with the others or a slow car in the Panera Bread parking lot who is blocking traffic. Everything’s a competition. No dispute too small, no challenge too big. There are two trophy words uttered in our house that carry more weight than anything: I WIN.
Sometimes it’s shouted, sometimes it’s whispered into a billowing pile of laundry. Whatever needs conquering shall be conquered in our house.
So, you can imagine the kind of raised eyebrows and smack talk in our marriage when the competition is between us. It can get ugly, but it’s always entertaining. Many people do not know that Nick is, as Keith Borchers said in his best man speech at our wedding, “an ego maniac who thinks he’s sweet at everything.”
Save opera and any form of dancing, this is true about Nicholas David Borchers. He hates losing. He can’t stand being second. He likes strategy and mind-games during poker. He’s all about focus and readjustment. Don’t be fooled by his calm demeanor. There’s a beast inside him called THE WINNER’S CIRCLE.
And then there’s me. Don’t think that I don’t have my own monster and even according to Nick, I may be more competitive than him. There’s a reason why I have the Rocky IV soundtrack on my iPod. Most people wouldn’t see it coming, kind of like a CATEGORY FIVE HURRICANE that didn’t come up on your weather outlook.
My competitiveness is often stuffed away because of its monstrosity. It can and has ruined moments of friendly game playing. While everyone else shrugs after a loss, I seethe inside. Competitiveness is like a constant search for perfection, which can never be attained. So, the desire to win or be right or dominate knows no rest. But, it’s not always appropriate to be competitive so I, along with Nick, keep it to myself. We’re like two man-eating sharks in a Sea World tank: it’s in our blood and in our nature, but we’re trained to be harmless.
That was a long introduction into the heart of this post, but it’s critical for you to know the background of our competitive edges.
Nick and I have a combined goal to be and become healthier parents. Running around with Isaiah necessitates optimal states of health so we decided to commit to losing a few pounds. I need to shed my pregnancy weight and Nick, many months ago, invented a campaign called, “Don’t Get Fat” because of his fear of rolling into a “fat new dad.”
So we made a deal and the stakes are high.
Beginning Sunday, March 7th, we are having our own personal Biggest Loser competition. We adapted the show to our own lives and here are the ground rules:
Weekly weigh-ins on Sunday
Largest percentage of weight loss wins
Two goal dates: June 4, 2010 (our 5 year anniversary) and September 4, 2010.
Whoever has the largest percentage of weight loss on June 4, 2010 has the intermediate prize – winner gets one evening of their choice every week to go out and do whatever s/he wants while Isaiah is with the other parent.
If you don’t understand the impact of that reward, go back and read it again. This prize is HUGE. This can mean going out with your friends. For Nick it can mean going to play racquetball with Books and Sam or going to the library for a few hours. For me that means extended trips to a coffee shop or taking my time at a farmer’s market.
The ultimate prize, come September 4, will be individualized. Nick has yet to announce what his prize will be if he wins. If I win, I get to go to the conference of my choice in any part of the United States. (I’m such a nerd. I adore conferences on writing, feminism, media, etc…) Beside the fact that I want to shed my preggers weight, that conference-attending prize alone all but guarantees that I will win. Hello? Travel? Hotels? Learning? Meeting new writers and artists? That’s what I was born to do.
This competition is huge and normally, I would not post something like this on our blog, but I figured if our friends and family – and God knows who else on the internet is reading this – is in the know, we are accountable to seeing this through. And we will.
It’s man vs. woman. Focus vs. Passion. Tall vs. Short. Endurance vs. Intervals.
Choose your team now and place your bets. Nick is team blue. I am team green.
Cheers to a healthier Borchers/Factora-Borchers family in 2010.
(And, here’s to ME, cause you know I’m going to lick this thing…)
TweetWedding bells brought Nick and I back to Russia, home of the infinite cycle of larger than life weddings. This time it was Eric Rosenbeck who was getting married.
Eric, aka Rosie, is Keith’s best friend, and not a blood relative, per se, but I’ve understood that there are a few people who are just a member of the family. Rosie is one of those folks.
On Rosie’s big day, I proudly listened to Nick as second reader and of course bawled my eyes out during Eric and Tricia’s wedding vows. (It gets me every time when the bride cries…) I was not alone. I saw Kay shedding and throwing Jay, sitting in the pew in front of her, a tissue to control the water damage.
There have been so many weddings and so many receptions that it’s sometimes hard to remember certain characteristics about each one. With the exception of my own, of course, they kind of blend together, particularly if they are in the same place. But Rosie’s wedding was different. Not just because it was held at St. Henry, but for one very sweet reason that I’ve never seen at another wedding: their first dance.
Now, most people don’t really pay any attention to the first dance. It’s so customary that most just turn around and watch for a few seconds and then go back to their dinner plates. Being the sentimental shmuck that I am, I love watching the couple interact. Most couples do the obligatory slow song and occasionally smile at the camera, but mostly they just talk to one another. It’s always a lovely moment, but it never really sticks out in my mind.
Eric and Tricia seemed to be in their own world while they were dancing. They danced as close as possible without damaging one another’s rib cages, and often sang the lyrics as they looked at each other. It wasn’t just their actions either, it was just the feeling of watching a couple very much in love dance for the first time as a married couple. It felt extremely special, rare even, to see the bride and groom make a moment like that shine. I had to dab my eyes with my napkin.
I leaned over to Nick who had a delayed start to his dinner, munching on his buttered noodles, “Did you watch that? That was incredible…” I sniffed.
Nick looked up and needed to wipe his mouth, I frowned slightly at his mess. “What? What’d I miss?”
“That was, by far, the most amazing first dance and I don’t think many people were paying attention.”
As if to prove my point, Nick reached for his chicken drumstick and raised his eyebrows, “Oh no…I wasn’t watching. What made it so great?”
I shook my head at his lack of attentiveness, “I’ve just never really seen a couple look like that. I can’t describe it, but it was really incredible.”
I don’t even think Nick was listening to me anymore as someone launched into another story at our table.
And so the great party went on.
It’s easy to remember things when you’re a sober pregnant wedding guest. And I happened to share a few of those musings with Sue Borchers, one of Nick’s many terrific cousins, who sat next to me when she was taking a break from dancing. We watched everyone gyrate and shake their bodies to the music. All of a sudden, “Love Shack,” lyrics smoothed over the dance floor and, as if on cue, two or three shrieks of delight sounded from some loopy guests. I shook my head at Sue, “You know, Love Shack is not that great of a song, but everyone at weddings LOVES it. And do you want to know why? People love acting this song out.”
Sue laughed and looked out on the dance floor, “I think you might be right,” as she observed the same crowd of folks starting to act out the “BANG! BANG!…ON THE DOOR, BABY! BANG! BANG!” And watched folks pretend to bang on invisible doors while they mouthed the lyrics.
Sue and I turned philosophical with “Love Shack” in the background, “You know,” I said, “I want to write something someday about wedding etiquette.”
Sue nodded, “That would be hilarious. Number one would be, ‘Don’t act out songs. Dance. But don’t act them out.”
We laughed and a new song exploded, luring Sue once again to shake her stuff on the dance floor.
As I rested with my 10 million cups of water, I wondered what I would call the piece I would write…”My Big Fat Country Wedding,” or “Russia Rules,” or maybe, “How to Survive a 500 Person Wedding.”
The possibilities were endless.
As I shared my thoughts with Nick later that night, I was pretty sure he was snoring when I told him my idea. He raised his head one inch above the pillow and reiterated what he always says when I have an idea, “That’s great, babe.” And then fell fast asleep. I could have told him I was planning on robbing the closest bank and I think he would have had the same response. I should probably share my ideas at a more reasonable hour. I squinted at the clock. 2:32am. Yikes, no wonder he thought my idea was great. Everything’s great at 2:30 in the morning.
Since I couldn’t fall asleep right away, I thought of all the weddings I’ve ever attended. I thought that if someday I was to write about wedding etiquette beyond the snooty and boring rules about RSVPing on time, giving an appropriate gift…blah, blah…everyone knows that. I was thinking more along the practical lines of etiquette. I was thinking about the rules we so often forget once wedding day arrives.
1. TURN OFF YOUR CELL PHONES DURING THE WEDDING MASS/CEREMONY. There is nothing more distracting than hearing Usher’s, “Yeah” during the Ave Maria.
2. (This is one of my personal convictions:) During ANY speech, whether it’s the father or mother of the bride or groom, the best man or maid of honor speeches — SHUT UP. Stop talking. It’s unbelievably rude. And if you’re sitting by me, you WILL be SHHHHHSHSHSHSHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHed several times until you’re quiet. You will also see Nick burying his head in his arms when I turn around and glare at the talkers.
3. If the bride wears her veil to the reception, guests should be cognizant of the pull an embrace places on her veil. Sometimes I watch the bride’s head snap back so fast and hard, I wonder if it’ll pop off.
4. Remember that although the lights are dimmed, it’s not a total blackout. Seated guests can see where your hands are going when you’re dancing with your date. Keep it G-rated. PG-13 at worst.
5. The inevitable dancing circle that forms in big crowds seems to invite a bar-friendly guest to think it’s a hilarious idea to push people from behind into the middle. AND IT’S ALWAYS THE MOST AWKWARD PERSON ALIVE to raise their hands up and shake their heads that they don’t dance. Tip: If you don’t want to get suckered into dancing, clear the floor. The dance circle will always weed out the most timid person and claim its next victim.
6. Never, ever, EVER is it hilarious to make a spectacle of a wardrobe malfunction while you’re dancing. A button pop off? Too much cleavage from a rip? A shirt lost two buttons to reveal your manly chest hair? Don’t incorporate into your dance moves.
7. Men: it’s never a good idea to interrupt a couple while they’re dancing to practice your grinding moves on her
8. Women: lift your arms in excitement only if you are 10000% confident your dress is not going anywhere and you have applied deodorant to your pits
9. Ties should not be used in any way as a prop to lure someone as your dance partner
10. Ties should not be used in any theatrical manner, especially to demonstrate what butt floss is and how it is done
11. During square dancing, prep your novice partner
12. During “Farmer’s Daughter,” only turn the gent upside down if you are confident you will not drop him
13. During that Wheel Barrel song or whatever it’s called, if someone is nearly strangling him or herself in efforts to untangle the group, have some mercy and let them drop their arms. Don’t yell, “COME ON! YOU CAN DO IT! TWIST! WE’VE ALMOST GOT IT!” while they turn scary shades of blue.
14. If you’re over 5’2 and have a front view of the slide show SIT DOWN, CROUCH DOWN, OR GO TO THE BACK. Have some consideration for people straining for one glimpse.
15. Facetiously offering a pregnant woman a drink and then taking a sip of it yourself to reinforce her inability to drink is really NOT that funny. Don’t do it.
16. Broken glass on dance floor = ladies, keep your shoes on
17. If you use one of those basket items left for the ladies in the bathrooms to help freshen up – razor, toothbrush, floss, deodorant (recommended if you’re sweating on the dance floor) – put it back in the basket or throw it out. It is absolutely grotesque to see wrappers and used items strewn around the lavatory.
18. “Hang on Snoopy” is not the time to get in the face of someone you don’t particularly like with a threatening O-H-I-O.
19. Asking the bride and groom if it’s ok to take one of the centerpieces home as a gift for someone else – unless they are being given away – is not really appropriate.
20. When the managers of the reception facility have turned out the lights and are yelling at you to leave, oblige their request.
But, what makes weddings so gosh darn fun and hilarious are the ridiculous moments of forgotten propriety and whims of the heart (or debauchery). And my number one life rule trumps any wedding rule I can come up with: All rules are made to be broken.