Monday, May 02, 2005


Avoiding the Trees

Erwin builds his messages from modules. He has the modules memorized and assembles them as needed into the day's presentation.

Yes, I was over at Mosaic on Sunday. At least as much for the bike ride to Culver City as for the celebration, and also because I needed to see Phil or one of the other men. Ran into Phil right away, so that problem was solved easily.

Erwin's focus was on focus. Concentration. As I concentrated on what he said, I noticed that he looks tired. He's too young to look that haggard, and I wondered if perhaps he's being pushed by the media machinery. Interesting that as he's talking about focusing on one thing and limiting distractions, I note that he looks for all the world as if he's way overextended.

One of his key points is an idea I learned through mountain biking: you hit what you look at. "Don't look at the tree," Erwin said. "Look for the spaces between the trees." He's exactly right.

I rode over to the Control Center with a co-worker, who mentioned some people he'd talked with who described being physically attacked by demons. "It's not biblical," he said.
"It's certainly not productive," I said.

It's a related idea. Look where you want to go. Do you want to be a demon? Then look at demons. Do you want to be like Jesus? Then look at Jesus. Erwin brought a volunteer juggler up to the stage to demonstrate how this works. When left to himself, the juggler looks at where the balls are, not where his hands are. His hands moved to the right place to catch, and his eyes were focused three feet above his hands. When Erwin had him look at his hands, balls went all over the place. Look where you want to go. The physics will take care of itself in many subtle biomechanical movements and feedback: you know where your hands are.

You see the space between the trees and the bike follows your vision. You see where the ball is and your hand moves to the right place to catch it. You keep your eyes on Jesus and the wind doesn't seem so bad because he's a fixed point in the middle of the storm.

It's about all I can do. The wind is stronger than I can fight, the waves big enough to swamp the Queen Mary, and all I can do is hang onto Jesus' hand.

Now, trusting him with my life is sort of like holding hands with a whirlwind, or riding a tiger. Jesus has a mind of his own, and he is fiercely determined to do the best he can at remaking my life. This isn't necessarily what I want; I'd be content to lead a nice, quiet, uneventful life. No huhu, as Robert Heinlein's characters used to say. Just keep the boat on an even keel. If a storm comes along I'll just hunker down on the floorboards, pull the covers over my head, and wait for it to pass.

But if I were any damned good at running a life, I'd have a life. Hunkering down on the floor is a survival tactic, not a life, and Jesus didn't give up his own life so that I could squeak by with a barely passing grade. No, he has bigger ideas. If I really want his kind of life I need to be out there in the storm, looking straight at him as the water thrashes around, holding on... and feeling his shielding. The waves really aren't that big if I'm not looking at them.

The trees I'm careering toward loom up, and then fade away if I keep looking at Jesus. If I look at the trees they keep getting bigger and then I hit one. Bam. The Snark-O-Meter (TM) hits the peg and I go into floorboard-hugging mode. Don't bother me. Every time the boat rolls a tiny bit it feels like a crisis and I frantically react by trying to bring it back upright.

No, the way to handle these things is to be loose. Steer for the spaces but expect the bike to move around a little. The body knows how to correct. After all, it gets hurt too, not just the brain. Going upright between the trees is good for everyone.

I am going to remember to aim for the space between the trees Larry! I never heard that before.

I often have a hard time focusing and easing off distractions. I think that is a great message. Thanks for sharing it with me!

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