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To Own a Dragon

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Donald Miller and I are so alike… I just love reading him because the way he says things, his sense of humor, and so much of his personality and feelings I can identify with so closely it is almost like he is my own personal ghost writer.

In fact, the first time I read Blue Like Jazz, I was actually a little upset because it was pretty much the exact book that I had hoped to write (only better).

To Own a Dragon is Miller’s thoughts on growing up without a dad, how it has effected him spiritually (among other things), and how as an adult he can use those experiences for good, rather than allowing them to own him.

Even though the book is written for men who have grown up (or are growing up) without a father, it offers just as much joy and value to those of us who have.

I especially identified with the chapter where he discusses the concept of “manhood.” I quite often feel like a 15-yr-old trapped in a 30-something’s body (ok, maybe I have a 15-yr-old’s body… but you get the point), and just within the past year have been trying to figure out what it really means to be a man… and every time someone mentions Wild at Heart,  I imagine that if I read it I (like Donald Miller) would most likely want to chuck it across the room.

(don’t fret, John Eldridge lovers… after a period of growth that very book was quite valuable to him and he recommends it)

As he describes sitting in the “men’s” Bible study group where the guys share hunting stories and make metaphorical life-lesson analogies about football and action movies, I was laughing out loud because I knew exactly what he was talking about.

If you prefer books that give you the “3 Steps to ….” or promise growth or success if you do this or pray that… or only use big sober words to discuss spirituality…

you’ll probably hate this book.

I liked it a lot.

Ponyo and Autism

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Andy Carver’s recent post for NPR’s news blog caught my eye.

I haven’t seen a Hayao Miyazaki movie since Spirited Away but I do remember it was pretty sweet… and after reading Andy Carver’s unique perspective on Ponyo as a representative of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder… I may just have to check it out.

The character Ponyo is brave, even empowered. She knows she is different from all of her siblings but knows she can make a difference in a little boy’s life simply by loving him and helping those around him. And she, in turn, instills love and hope in the boy, despite her various quirks.

Wilco (the album)

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I got my first CD player for Christmas 1993 and within a few days bypassed the suckers at the mall record store and went straight for Columbia House…(15 CDs for the price of one… oh yeah.)

Within that first batch of CDs, there was only one keeper (guess which epic 1993 album that might be???) along with 14 other albums that ended up in the “pre-owned” rack at The Turntable.

One album I acquired (and immediately sold) during those days before internet music was A.M. by Wilco.  I ordered it strictly based on the album cover art.

It was Jeff Tweedy’s first offering since Uncle Tupelo and a bit too twangy for a geek-grunge kid like me.

I never forgot Wilco though, and when I caught wind of their 2002 alt-country future-classic Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, I snagged it ASAP and was hooked.

Their latest, Wilco (the album) didn’t catch me at first, but after several listens it is growing on me (pretty typical for a Wilco record)… and a guest spot from Feist certainly ups the value of pretty much anything in my book. She and Jeff delicately harmonizing on “You and I” is one of those sounds that you really don’t mind stuck in your head all day long.

The songwriting is fabulous as always… timeless themes of longing, love, lonelines, passion, country, war, self-reliance….

And seemingly more faith then I’ve seen from previous offerings—songs like “Everlasting Everything” speaks of eternal love; “I’ll Fight” of nation-faith martyrdom; “Solitaire” of the crippling agony of self-reliance:

Once I thought the world was crazy
Everyone was sad and chasing
Happiness and love and
I was the only one above it

Once I thought without a doubt
I had it all figured out
Universe with hands unseen
I was cold as gasoline

Took too long to think
I was wrong to believe in me only

Once my life was a game so unfair
It beat me down and kept me there
Unaware of my naysayer
Solitaire was all I was playing

Took too long to see
I was wrong to believe in me only

Why Root for Don Draper?

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Excited to watch Mad Men season 3 opener last night… too many thoughts to share… much more than anyone would care to read.

Overall I’m disappointed that they are revealing too much mystery… and selling out a bit too.

But I’ve been thinking about Don Draper.

You could call him a dirtbag.  He only cares for himself. He disrespects his wife. His whole life is one big fat lie.

So why do we all root for him?

I think it is because… on one level or another… we can relate to him.

His past hurts have driven him to a life as the lone ranger… self-medicating… doing everything he can (power, work, sex) to feel like he is in control of his world…

He’s broken. Just like you and me.

And we want to root for him because we want to believe that it is possible… that we really can overcome past hurts on our own… that self-medicating works… that lies never really have to come to the surface… that we are in control…

Of course none of this is true.

Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over addictive behavior – that our lives had become unmanageable.

It is probably the most difficult step for any addict to ever pass through. Many will move on to the following 11, only to find they had never fully realized their powerlessness in the beginning.

Don Draper isn’t real, but I think that he represents the reality of ourselves that most of us are never really willing to face. Because doing so means we have to admit, “I have no control.”

Which means someone else has to take over.

Draper 5×7″ print available for $10