Monday, September 10, 2012
Sunday, July 29, 2012
Monday, June 11, 2012
Thursday, May 31, 2012
Monday, May 28, 2012
Over the Memorial Day weekend, my dad and I got the chance to go for a ride one evening. As we rode out of Benton, a string of thoughts started forming in my head. I immediately knew it was forming into a post, so I payed careful attention to what was happening (and the road of course.) We were riding on a road that had a speed limit of 40 miles per hour, and I really wasn't paying attention to my own speed as I was following my dad. I did happen to glance down at one point though, and I noticed that we were going 10 over the speed limit. It is uncharacteristic of my dad to speed, and shortly thereafter we did return to the speed limit. In that moment when I realized we were speeding, an interesting thought came into my head. I wasn't in the least bit worried that we were going to fast. I trust my dad more than anyone in the entire world, and I knew that he was being careful and "monitoring the situation" as he puts it. I knew that we wouldn't get pulled over, and if we did he would take responsibility. I was completely comfortable riding within the safety net of my father.
As we continued to ride, I noticed other nuances about our riding that I never took the time to think about previously. We always ride in staggered formation. He is always on the right and I always take the left; every time. I find myself following his path around bits of sticks or gravel in the road without even having to notice them myself. I mirror his movements, and thereby avoid danger. I don't always have to pay as meticulous attention to where I'm going as I would if I were alone because I don't have any fear of getting lost with my dad. Every other time that I've ridden bikes with someone, I've been in the lead. I don't trust anyone but my father to lead me. I don't feel comfortable following anyone else.
Towards the end of the ride, something landmark happened. We were a few miles from home when my dad made an unexpected stop. He pulled into a parking lot, and I was 75 percent sure that I knew what was happening. Let me frame the story a bit. My dad has an incredibly cool Harley Davidson, and I ride a slightly less cool Kawasaki (Okay, it's significantly less cool.) It's always been that way, and there are no hard feelings; he just looks way cooler everywhere we go. I had never riden any of his Harleys before then. Not because he doesn't trust me, it's just a whole different kind of riding when the bike weighs over 700 pounds as compared to the 400 pounds mine weighed. Bearing that in mind, we pulled into a parking lot, and in the way only my dad can, he simply said, "wanna switch?" I was floored. On the inside, I was so nervous about the potential to wreck his prize bike that I nearly lost control of my bowels, but I pseudo-suavely got on and pretended to be nothing short of confident. The next ten minutes of my life were some of the greatest I can remember (okay that might be a bit severe) but in all honestly, it was incredible to finally ride a real man's bike. As I stepped off the bike in our garage, I couldn't stop thinking about losing my Harley virginity (okay I'm sorry that was raucous...) But I couldn't stop smiling. Most importantly, I was completely in awe that my dad entrusted me with his motorcycle.
Though the experience alone was superb, I couldn't overlook the deeper implications that had been bouncing around my head as we rode. I wonder how my faith journey would be different if I looked at God like I like at my dad when we ride? How badly does God want me to accept his safety net just as fully as I accept my earthly father's? I put up no walls when I'm around my dad, and I know that I can be the same with a God who has no sense of condemnation; only a love that knows absolutely no boundaries. He is ready to trust me with his plans, and his gifts; his spiritual Harley Davidson if you will. My dad knows that I've made a lot of mistakes in my life, and I haven't always respected him like I should, and yet he overlooks those things and chooses to be my mentor and my friend. Our Heavenly father is no different. He is begging us to trust him and follow in his footsteps; his tire treads. He wants to be the only one that we trust enough to follow.
God loves us more than we can understand; more than we can accept at times. I've run from it; we've all run from it. That doesn't change the fact that it steadily follows us into the darkest places we can find, all the while retaining as much candor and intensity as it ever has or will. While we choose to follow people and things that have underlying agendas and will take abrupt turns without warning, God shows us his path from the beginning. It is straight and flawless. We can follow him around the obstacles that the world throws in our path. Often he doesn't reveal the intricacies of his entire plan at once, but it doesn't change the fact that his path is set in stone. Just like my dad may not tell me from the beginning where exactly we're going to ride, I never have to worry that it will be on unsafe roads or in places that we should not be. How he leads does not change, and God is the same way. We can cease our worries about getting lost. And most importantly, we can appreciate the fact that, just like our motorcycle trips, every step and every mile takes us closer to home.
"Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:13)
I really appreciate you all taking the time out of your day to read. God bless each of you. You can follow me on Twitter at @matthewhillec
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Think with me for a second. I think most of us remember when the first iPhone came out in 2007. It was revolutionary; mind-blowing; the first of its kind. If asked, anyone would say it was completely original. It began the smart phone arms race that has led to the most technologically-advanced cell phones of all time. But think about something else with me. The iPhone changed so many things, but it was still a cell phone. It still operated under the premise of text messages, phone calls, and emails. There were many aspects of the phone that had been used in many cell phones predating it. This is where my point comes in. In order for the iPhone to be as significant as it was, it had to establish reference points so that consumers could grasp what it entailed. It had to have a tangential point of contact with ideas that people already understood, or else it would have been useless.
Imagine someone inventing something that has no reference points. You see a commercial on television for a new product, but it is an unidentifiable shape, the commercial is in a language that no one on earth can understand, and at no point does it visually describe what the product is or does. This manufacturer has created something completely original, but at the same time completely isolated it and eradicated any chance of making money. There were no reference points in language, comprehension, comparison to other products, or even how to purchase the product. In essence, there is no way of spreading this "originality."
This concept makes me think of Delaunay Triangulation. You might be wondering what that is, but you actually know (I promise.) We've all seen a movie where brilliant CIA agents track a cell phone call to catch a criminal. They use this triangulation method to do so. Basically cell phones connect to the closest cell masts that they can find to make calls. To triangulate a call, these agents just reference the signal that they are picking up to the closest cell phone masts determine a location. (It's actually a bit more complicated, but I don't think any of us are going to be doing this anytime soon.) To get back to the point, this method takes a signal that is in an unknown place, and makes sense of it by referencing it to know points. I think truly original ideas should work like this. They stand alone upon first examination, but they can be compared and referenced to known ideas in order for them to make sense.
This brings me to what I really wanted to say. French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre once said, "No finite point has meaning without an infinite reference point." If all physical ideas must be predicated upon previously known building blocks, it makes sense that in order for us to live original lives, we too must have a reference point. To be significant, we must be compared to significance. I think Sartre hit upon a brilliant thought. How can anyone view our lives as great if someone before us hadn't done great things? The notion of great had to come from somewhere. You could compare an extreme act of courage to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.; an act of humanitarianism to Nelson Mandela; or any other of the thousands of examples that history provides. These are all valid reference points, but where is their reference point? Where is the origin of their originality, if you will? Sartre spoke of an infinite reference point. The interesting thing is that he was not referring to God. Sartre was one of the founding fathers of existentialism and believed that every human was responsible for themselves and their actions; "condemned to be free" as he put it. He did not believe in a creator or ascribe to religion. His idea then seems to have fallen short. He didn't seem to have an actual infinite reference point.
To consider any one person, idea, or concept as an infinite reference point is falling short as well I think. Every one of these has come from somewhere. Every idea is predicated upon preconceived building blocks, every person influenced by those who came before, and every concept conceived my those individuals who have been influenced. That leaves the question, what is the infinite reference point? You don't have to agree with me, but I know what my infinite reference point is. It is faith in a God and a love that predates all origin; that IS origin. There is no other example of a thing or person that has no predecessor. Again, you don't have to agree. I welcome disagreement wholeheartedly. I know that I have tried so many things in life to find fulfillment, to reference my life against, and they've all fallen short except faith. It is available for all who are willing to receive.
Thanks so much for reading today. God bless you all. Follow my good friend Danny on Twitter if you want to find a truly intelligent, gifted individual @xdannyrobertsx. And, as always, I'm at @matthewhillec
Saturday, May 12, 2012
For whatever reason, that idea was bouncing around in my head as I walked. I had a lot on my mind, and I was in an incredibly quiet, contemplative mood. Out of nowhere I had a heavy thought: what if God wants us with an equal desire as I just described. What if he truly, deeply yearns for every part of us. Often in relationships desire can be masked by surface-level emotions. Sometimes I can want someone so bad that it induces anger or sadness or frustration. Those emotions are not a summation of how I feel about this person, rather they are byproducts of my desire and the obstacles that stand between us. That was unclear, so let me try again with a story. Say you really like a girl name Jane. She is everything you want, but she is sending you mixed messages. You want so badly to be the only guy that she's thinking about, and sometimes it upsets you. Other times it makes you mad because she tampers with your emotions. But, underlying all of these emotions is desire; the desire for her to be yours, and it drives you through all of these emotions.
I think the same can be said of God. He is a jealous creator. He wants us so desperately that he can resort to extreme means to garner our attention. I wondered, as I walked, if we mistreat God in the same way that we mistreat each other in relationships; sending mixed signals. Being flippant with our emotions. How frustrating must that be for God? It drives me crazy when people are unable to make clear decisions. I know that not everyone is driven by the desire to be cut and dry with their whole lives, but decisiveness is needed in some cases, and I think God is screaming loud that he wants our attention. Wants us to make up our minds and stop second guess our every decision.
As I continued to let this thought simmer in my mind, it developed a bit further. In my own experiences, I've found that unrealistic expectations are often to blame for failed relationships; guys or girls that expect far too much from their significant other. When, however, a relationship advances to the point where you truly want someone, these expectations begin to fade. You don't so much care if they're perfect or if they've made mistakes. The negative becomes less important and is masked by your infatuation with the positive. Again I think the principle parallels with how God sees us. He doesn't focus on the reasons that we've run from him or the times that we've stumbled. His eyes are set on our potential to love and be loved by him.
I've yet to find a lasting, true love in human relationship in this life. Perhaps I will or perhaps I won't, but I've placed that secondary to finding a true love in a God who is infatuated with the future; not the past. People will always fail; always change, but there is a God and a love that are the only true constants we have in life. And they are free. God wants each and every one of us. He gave up his son so that ALL people would have the opportunity to have true life. ALL people.
"...God our Saviour, who wants all men to be saved..." (1 Timothy 2:3-4)
Thanks for reading. If you love Twitter, chat me up @matthewhillec
Monday, April 30, 2012
Here's the pivot point: how does hindsight help us in life? I was once of the persuasion that hindsight was merely for overly-optimistic people trying to ease the pain of their mistakes. You cannot change the past, and I saw no point in dwelling on things that I was not proud of. Looking back, that was an ignorant way of thinking. History, without examination and correction, is destined to repeat itself. If a race car driver is circumnavigating a track and goes through the first turn too fast, would he foolishly take the same turn at the same speed on his second lap? Of course not. Unless he was a terrible driver. Why then would we not examine the past and look for clues as to how to better prepare ourselves for the future in our own lives? Could we look at a mistake we've made, pinpoint the place where we deviated off-course, and prevent it from happening in the future? Absolutely. There is not doubt in my mind.It is obviously easier said than done; as are most things. Something that I tell people when they ask for advice on the guitar or with writing is this: make new mistakes. It sounds like a negative piece of advice at first, but it makes sense if you think about it. In making new mistakes, we learn new ways of combating the struggles that come our way; learn to be stronger in areas that we repeatedly fail in. Notice that the advice is not make new mistakes while still making old ones. The idea is to constantly grow and learn. It gives me the mental image of laying a rail road track. You turn behind you, lay a cross tie and a portion of track, turn back around and move forward then repeat.
Life is a constantly-moving journey, and our pace must be slow when we're learning new things. Looking back on situations is necessary to see how far we've come. And just like Christopher and I looked back on our painful trip, we can also isolate the joyous moments and be glad that we experienced them. Hindsight can be a painful tool, but it it opens up a whole new world of learning if you control it well. Don't be afraid to look back and gain vital information for moving forward. It doesn't make you weak, it means that you're smart enough to use everything you can to succeed and thrive in the future.
Thank you all so much for taking a little time to read. You can follow me on Twitter at @matthewhillec, and my friend Christopher at @RobertMorley6. He is hilarious, poignant, and takes incredible pictures.
(By the way, this is where Christopher and I backpacked. It was beautiful.)
Friday, April 20, 2012
I was recently eating dinner with my family at a reasonably nice restaurant. For some reason, I was pretty tired and not feeling incredibly well, so I took off my glasses and put my head on the table. Embarrassingly, it was right when the very attractive waitress walked up. Quickly I raised my head and looked into her stunning eyes (this is completely tangent to the point of today's post by the way) and ordered my meal. An interesting thought struck me as I was surveying the restaurant with my semi-blind eyes. I could hear many conversations happening, and it was evident that there was a packed restaurant environment thriving all around me, but I couldn't see it clearly at all. My eyes are bad enough that everything was a blur. All I could see was my family.
The thought that came to me as I was sitting there was this: sometimes life is exactly like that restaurant. Often I've noticed that in my life that it is difficult to focus on things in the distance. It is almost as if our minds cannot make out the shapes of the events coming. What is to come seems to captivate our minds, even when we have no inkling as to what it might be, or how the future will unfold. I wonder if this parallel between the restaurant and life can be taken a step further. What if the things that are close to us in life can be seen very clearly, even when the future is unclear? In the midst of stressful life situations, can we choose to focus on what is near to us? Maybe college seems like a daunting obstacle in your path. You don't know if you want to go, where you want to go, where the money will come from, etc. Or perhaps you've been laid off from you job, and the foreseeable future seems to be filled with financial struggles, stress, troubles of all kind. In times like these what can we focus on that is close to us?
Maybe it is the things and people that we love that we should be focusing on when life throws us a curve ball. How many marriages have ended as a result of a husband getting too concerned with work? How many times have you seen two outfielders charge towards the same fly ball only to collide because they weren't paying attention to what was close to them? You cannot drive a car by only looking far off in the distance; you have to closely monitor the stretch of road in front of you. This certainly does not mean that we should ignore those things in the distance. Not at all. Life centers around achieving goals. How much greater would those goals and accomplishments be, though, if we were more aware of our immediate surroundings? I am going to immediately regret this, but I think a quote from Star Wars could help here. Anyone remember what Qui Gon Jinn told Obi Wan Kenobi in The Phantom Menace when Kenobi was focused on the future? Of course you don't. He said, "Keep your feelings here and now." (I indeed do regret that decision.) They were in a fictional story, but the principle remains the same.
Is there a healthy balance of focusing on things that are close and things that are further away? Probably. Will any of us find that balance and stick with it? Doubtful. Life is a constant game of balance; a matter of trial and error, and no man or woman is immune to failure. So don't try to be. Just never let you eyes stray too far away from you immediate life for too long. You never know what might change while your eyes wander. (Sappy ending sentiment....check.)
Thanks for reading. You can follow me on Twitter here if you'd like.
Thursday, April 19, 2012
Today I am humbled by the overbearing, gravity-laden notion that my life is simple and easy. I complain about so many things, yet there are others who lead such toilsome lives; such burdensome existences. I am so often unhappy while many others rejoice in having a fraction of what I take for granted. I am wrong. I am selfishly consumed with myself. I have typed the letter "I" in reference to myself 15 times thus far. Out of 221 total words, "I" is 7 percent of my word choice. There is no excuse.
Today there are no more rose-tinted glasses. No more seeing through a lens. No more running away. No more lies or pretending. No more looking past what is so evidently in front of my eyes. The world is scarred and broken; bleeding, hurt, and in need of a doctor; a healing hand; a savoir. He is Elohim, Shekhinah, God in Heaven. And He is here.
Today I am truly grateful to be alive.
"I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you." John 14:18
Monday, April 2, 2012
Capture my soul
Piece by piece
Ribbon by ribbon
Tie them to your rope
Until I'm all strung out
And I can see myself like never before
From my back I can see you as you soar
High above you're a kite
While I'm barely six inches of the ground
Let me go if this is all love means to you
Let me die in peace rather than live in pieces
Stop carving beautiful words into glass houses
With dull knives that everyone is tired of
You've got me for now
Alone in this cell
But I've got a plan
I've got two hands
You never listen
Which gives me an edge
I'll slip away at night
You'll be so busy at the stern
Surveying all that your hands have collected
To notice your vessel weighs one man less
But it's is necessary to keep living
So I'll slip over the edge and hold my breath
That the sea welcome me
I'll let myself go
Become a stow away on a ship where I belong
And come to find that the sharp edges I once glimpsed from a distance
Were fingertips reaching for the ceiling
Forgiveness is like air here
It flows like birds and parachutes
Calms me down and brings me to my roots
When I look these people I've stopped seeing myself
And my mistakes like trophies across a shelf
There's a soul here for every two eyes I can find
And piece of a whole for every peace of mind
(Thank you all for reading. You social networkers can follow me on Twitter here: @matthewhillec.)
Monday, February 20, 2012
Saturday, February 4, 2012
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Saturday, January 14, 2012
Monday, January 9, 2012
This one is just something I wrote. Hope you like it, and I hope it means something to one or two of you.
That year seems to have divided my heart and my head.
Good intentions only take us so far, we've all been misled.
One day I'm coming back home to show you my hands.
Until then just know I'm sorry, and I'll do what I can.
My mind is the culprit no one knew.
But my blood still bleeds for you.
You could fall in love with someone else.
But you've got nothing left to prove.
I was a hunter you were my prize.
But like a good father you opened my eyes.
Like a good mother you saw the inside.
Like a good lover you gave me your time.
Would you believe my skin is a wall.
Oh but your words are the bomb that makes the bricks fall.
I'm alive because you are alive.
I'm complete because your eyes don't see indecency.
Thank you all for spending some time with me. Have a beautiful day.
(If you want to chat, leave a comment or follow me on Twitter here @MattHillEC.)
Thursday, January 5, 2012
Story number two. Imagine that you are a NASCAR driver. You're enjoying a substantial lead and preparing yourself to take home a trophy, when something very uncharacteristic happens. Your tires become stones. Literal stones. Obviously this is a severe hindrance on your driving abilities, so you quickly pull into the pit stop and get some new tires that are actually made of rubber (or whatever they make race car tires out of these days.) The rocks were of no use to you, and they held you back.
Here's another one (there is an end in sight I promise.) You are the CEO of an investing firm. Your company is hours away from completing a huge merger which will lead to grand pay increases and deep growth for all involved. You have assigned your right hand man to oversee the happenings, but on the way to the meeting in which the official papers will be signed, he decides that he is better suited to be a fry cook and quits on the spot. Wendy's on his mind, he jumps in his car to reevaluate his life's calling.
If you're looking for a thread running throughout these stories, search no more. Objects or people that choose not to function within the parameters set out for their purposes are more often than not discarded and replaced with suitable alternatives. A hammer that cannot drive in nails is useless; tires that are made of rocks will simply not suffice on vehicles; and a corporate executive who has a hankering to flip hamburger patties will never belong in the financial world of business. I wonder what the world would look like if we all realized this. How hard would we work? How much more attention would we pay to our duties and responsibilities? There is no way of knowing, but what I also wonder how miserable it would be to live life constantly in fear of slipping below the line of appropriate adequacy and being replaced. That is a terrifying thought; never knowing if today will be your last before you get tossed into the same scrap pile as a flimsy hammer. Everyone will inevitably fail and be less than their best at one point or another, and the thought of not getting any free passes is very scary. It gives me the image of an almost 1984-esque dynamic. How horrible. Still, in the back of our minds I think we all realize that making a decision to be less effective than you can be, or to attempt to thrive in ways that are not set out for you can and maybe will end in losses for you. Hammers that are not hammers are not hammers (wow...that's deep.)
So where is this all going? Let's find out. I don't know how all of you feel about having a purpose in life. I'm sure some of you think we do, and some of you think we don't. Humor me for a minute regardless of your view if you don't mind. Why do we, in clear sight of our purpose in life, choose to morph into shapes that pull us away from what we know we should do? I don't want this to just apply to Christians who feel like God is calling them to do something. That is definitely one area that you can apply this to, but I think it can go beyond that as well. What does your heart beat fast for? What stirs you? Why do we often run from these things? It doesn't make sense to me. I'm going to use some more literal examples to help me hash this out. A girl notices that her school is a breeding ground for bullying. It is an everyday occurrence, and it is disintegrating the social integrity of the school. She feels like she should be a voice and try to make a change, but she chooses instead to focus all of her efforts on excelling in her classes, and being quiet; quieter, perhaps, than before she felt led to make a change. Here's another: a young man feels God calling him to become a missionary. This young man proceeds to let his relationship with God falter, runs from the prospect of leaving behind his comfortable life, and accomplishes nothing. He is worse off than before we felt this calling. One more can't hurt (unless it can.) Just kidding, I can't really think of another one so let's move on. How deep are the effects of turning from purpose? We may never know. There is an endless number of people that have the potential to be affected by your actions. If you are steady reader of this blog, you might remember that I asked you all to share a blog with one friend a few posts ago. It was all connected to this. I'll just share one story from it. One of my friends told me that she had shared the blog with a friend who really liked it, and I believe that friend also shared it with a friend. Everything we do can have ripple effects, and it takes just one rock to start it all. Another thought is this: what all are you missing out on by choosing to ignore your purpose?
Let me digress a little bit. We talked about the world's tendency to discard those who do not live up to their expectations. I want to introduce you to my own personal view of how this works in my own life. I truly, deeply believe that I have a purpose in life. I also live in fear of losing that purpose from time to time. I fear that if I deviate far enough off course or apply my attention to the wrong areas, I will be discarded and someone else will receive my purpose. I'm going to incorporate faith for a minute. I do understand that God cannot use us if we are living in sin. He cannot use people that are living in ways opposite of what he instructs, but he can absolutely turn anyone around and then use them. Every step we take away becomes part of our story, and subsequently an aspect of our purpose. It is never God's plan for us to fail, but unlike the world he does not offhandedly discard us when we fail. We can always come home to him, and always get back on track with our purpose. God is the master of making hammers that are not hammers become hammers once more (...I have no words. And I am done with hammer illusions.) What scares me the most is the possibility of missing out on some amazing things while I choose to do my own thing and put purpose on the back burner.
Where does this leave you? As confused as you were five minutes ago undoubtedly, but hopefully you can begin to see that following purpose yields rewards both to us and to those around us, in spite of its difficulties. Be a hammer made of wood, not rubber (I was obviously not being truthful earlier.)
This is again unrelated (and probably petty advertisement) but Ellison's Cage is finally off of hiatus! So if any of you are in the Little Rock area, feel free to come out to our first show at The Friction House on February 10th. Here is a link to the details http://www.facebook.com/events/145561415555979/.
(Thanks for taking some time out of your busy day to read. Follow me on Twitter here @MattHillEC .)