Matt W Cook

writer.former fundamentalist.christianly fellow

Month: September, 2012

What do you do when…

What do you do when your current work in progress hits 100k words?

You blog about it, do a little happy dance, and get back to work.

Getting Things Done

I’m a busy dude.

But only because I want to be, so that’s nice.

Talk to me sometime.  You’ll discover that I’m full of energy.  I’m motivated.  Ambitious.  I want to get stuff done.  And I want to do it well.  The things I do, I want to be the best at them.

I’m a husband and a father, and I feel threatened by folks who seem to pull those jobs off better than I do.

I’m a writer, and I get chills of joy when I read a published book that’s worse than what I’m writing and chills of agony when I read something that I know is better than what I can do.

I’m a preacher and there’s nothing better than seeing a crowd of people inspired to love more.

I’m a student and I want to write essays that make the professor smack his forehead and say, “Wow, I never looked at it in that way before!”

I’m a friend, and I love everyone I know and want them all to know it and feel empowered through their friendships with me.

I want to excel at all these things, and I don’t really think it’s unreasonable.  But, wow, sometimes I just tank out.

I’ve never been the most organized person.  I leave things to the last minute and I get emotionally crushed under the knowledge of all the things I’m trying to pull off.  It’s not that I have too many things on my plate.  It’s just that I’m not so good at organizing my plate.  Stuff keeps falling off and I keep making messes all over the table.  My writing suffers, I lose touch with friends, I miss important family things.

All this is to ask, how do you do it?  How you you keep yourself on track with all the life-roles you want to excel at?  How do you organize your time?  How do you organize your emotional and mental energy?  How do you keep the things you love from falling through the cracks?

Tell me, people of the interwebs.  What solutions help you to get the things done that you want to get done?

Diversity

Diversity of culture and opinion is like genetic diversity in a population. Without it, people become stagnant and get all sorts of nasty, cancerous ideas.

Without diversity, a population has very few new and innovative ideas. Generally they just continually repackage old ideas, try to put newish labels on them, and pass them around to each other. This is why those fundamentalist religious groups always seem to be two or three decades behind the rest of the population their in. Because those kinds of places don’t mix well with people who think and act differently than they do. And the more closed-minded the religious group, the further back in time they seem to be. Walk into your local Gospel Hall if you don’t believe me. You’ll feel like you’re in 19th century Scotland. Cool singing, but pretty messed up ideas about gender roles, science and how to live life.

That’s one of the reasons I love where I’m living now. I used to live in Thorncliffe Park, a predominately Islamic area. A place where everyone kinda dressed and acted and thought the same. A place where there was not much in the way of new, ricky ideas. A place where most people did what they did so that everyone else would approve of them.

But when the population is diverse, people feel empowered to try new things. SInce everyone is so obviously unique and living life the way they think it should be lived, there is not much pressure to conform to a pre-established pattern. You’re free to live life according to your own conscience, instead of the conscience of some dead role model or abstract system.

And whose conscience should you be living according to anyway, if not your own?

I’ve lived in Toronto for almost four years. But only now am I beginning to see how wildly awesome this town is.

So here’s to diversity. I hope and pray we get butt-loads more of it and that it spreads to all those neat places where it hasn’t been welcomed before. It may be uncomfortable for a lot of people, but without it we become cultural inbreds. Slow to accept change and ill-equipped to deal with real life.

A Sense of Life

There is an intense sensation that I’ve found only in a few places.  A sensation of deep reality.  Of trueness.  A sort of clarity of life that reminds me that I’m alive and so is everyone around me.  Earthy.  Dirty.  Wondrous.

I first noticed it in Pakistan.  I had it every single day.  It was as if every bit of artificial life was taken away and nothing but the raw, pulsing trueness of life remained.  I think it was this sense that made me love Pakistan so much.

I have felt it in other places, too.  Sporting events.  Protests.  Certain types of bars.

I had expected it to be in Thorncliffe.  After all, Thorncliffe was supposed to be mini-Pakistan, wasn’t it?  I was surprised to find that Thorncliffe didn’t have it, though.  It was wonderful to live there for four years, but the spark wasn’t there.

But it seems to be on Bloor.

I took my bike down to the coffee shop near our new place.  I could feel it there.  The dangerous, moving life.  The sense that everyone I see is interesting and beautiful and full of so much potential love and power and happiness.

I’m going to enjoy living here.