Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Consequences.

I seem to have taken a softer approach on my blog. Don't worry, the funny Travis will be back, but in the meantime I've started trying to mix in practical advice and real thoughts for you, so you know I'm more than just a fat funny guy with a penchant for offending gays and retards with an overabundant use of both of those words. (In all seriousness, thanks to this post, I'm working on it.)

What is it we hate so much about consequences?

I've reached an age where I realize that no matter what I do, there is a consequence. Whether I do something amazingly good, or whether I do something depressingly dumb, I'm going to reap a benefit or a punishment. However, the word consequence has a distinctly negative connotation that most people scoff at. If I mentioned to you that I had won the lottery as a consequence of me buying a ticket, you would probably think that I either hadn't won a lot, or that I'd somehow stumbled on a way to win the lottery where I have to GIVE money to someone.

But why are we so worried about consequences? When you act on something, you know what to expect. You know ahead of time what things could go wrong, or what result could come about. If you steal something, you know you could get caught. If you skip a day of birth control, you know you might have a child. If you buy the above mentioned lottery ticket, you know there is a chance, no matter how small, that you might win. But yet we seem to fear the consequences of our actions, even having knowledge beforehand that they might be bad.

If I take a shot in basketball, there is a consequence. Either the ball goes in and we get a point, or the ball doesn't go in and we don't get a point. Those consequences lead to other decisions. If I miss, I can choose to meet my consequence head on by following my shot, possibly getting a rebound, and maybe getting another opportunity to score; or I can stand where I am, thinking about what happened and what I did wrong. If I throw a punch in Tae Kwon Do, it has a consequence. One of those consequences might be that the blow is blocked, giving the other person an opportunity to strike me back. I am faced with a choice to absorb the blow of my consequence, or I can step into the consequence and try to take charge of the situation through proactive force.

Maybe you've had a situation in your life where you have been faced with the consequences of decisions you have made. Be honest with yourself and realize that you knew the possible consequences of your actions when you made the decision you made. Instead of simply reacting to those consequences, be proactive in your approach. Don't sit idly by and absorb the blows of your miscalculations, instead, step into the consequence, face it head on, and approach it with the confidence that comes with being brave enough to do so.

Here recently The Missus and I decided to get serious about having a child. When we made that decision, we knew there would be consequences for our actions. A possible consequence would have been having a child to call our own. Another one would be getting told that it would never happen. What we were told is that it COULD happen, but it would be really expensive. Instead of wallowing in the consequence from our actions, we took proactive steps, and countered the emotional blow by choosing to adopt. In doing so we've reaped a positive consequence of knowing we get to change the world for someone. We've also opened ourselves to a whole new set of possible consequences.

We also recently bought a new truck. In doing so, we have experienced the consequence of having a payment that has put a further financial obligation on us. We also have been given the positive consequence of getting a dependable new vehicle that is a joy to drive instead of a burden. How have we handled the "negative" consequence of having a truck payment? We've been proactive by paying a little more than the bill each month so that we can pay it off earlier and save on interest. There are consequences (negative and positive) for that action as well.

I am making an effort to change the negative feelings I get when I use the word consequence. I am using the word to refer to the good more than the bad. When I use it with a negative inflection, I do my best to see the proactive steps I can take to meet the challenge head on. I refuse to let myself be dragged down by the so called negative consequences of my actions, and instead I have started thinking harder about making decisions that could be laden with bad consequences. I struggle daily with eating out, which has several "negative" consequences including weight gain and financial strain. I have made several small victories by saying "no" to eating out in the last few weeks. When I do fall to the temptation of a pizza buffet, I meet my consequences head on by exercising a little more and thinking of ways to save money in other areas. I refuse to be buffeted by my buffets.

My challenge to you is that you would stop thinking of consequences as a bad thing. Consider them opportunities. Seize them. Meet them head on by holding yourself accountable for the decisions you made that got you there in the first place. Instead of blaming yourself though, think about what you can do to turn that into another opportunity that might have a more positive consequence. Be honest in your faults. Give yourself the second chance that you like to give others. Treat each new day as a positive consequence of the results of your actions the day before.

I can promise you this, you'll start seeing consequences as something to be desired, not feared.

"And I so hate consequences
And running from you is what my best defense is
I hate these consequences
Because I know that I let you down
Now I don't wanna deal with that" -Reliant K

Monday, September 27, 2010

What Would Superman Do? (Part 4)




In Propinquus

Time has stopped for me, although I continue to age.

Acts of heroism have now become a way of life, and there isn't a day that goes by where I don't do something for someone. I'm traveling now. I have a new vehicle. I have a new license plate. I keep the old one in the new truck, just because it was special to me. It started all of this.

I have not killed again. The desire to kill has left me, although the guilt I feel for the only time has not.

I have stopped losing weight, I'm still big, but I'm more fit than I ever have been before. My powers seem to have stopped developing, and I'm a bit disappointed to announce that I have nothing new. The strength and speed are enough though, because they aid me greatly in what I do. I have to say though, if my abilities disappear, I will continue to try to be a hero in every day life. People need a hero. People need me. You might need me one day.

I will try my best to be there.

My wife and I were driving in Tulsa a few nights ago, and we came upon a car that had stalled out in a very dangerous place. The driver was waiting for help, because the car was on a steep incline and couldn't be pushed. I convinced the driver to try while I had my wife steer. It took serious effort on my part to not make it look too easy, and to make the driver feel as if he helped. I don't think he was entirely convinced. He offered to pay us for our efforts, and of course I declined. I've come to find out that the greatest fulfillment comes with doing things for others.

The number of people who know my secret is growing. I was approached by two gentlemen with a gun a couple of weeks ago. They wanted my wallet. I refused. The relief I felt at still being bulletproof must have been very evident on my face, because their reaction was pretty strong. In the blink of an eye I had the gun. In even less time I had them running. I chased them for a mile, always staying just close enough to keep them scared out of their minds. I made noises I thought would scare them even more. It was far more enjoyable than having to kill them.

I've been to California. I've been to Mexico. I've been to Canada. That was yesterday. I've stopped bank robberies in Quebec and terrorist plots in DC. The speed is wonderful. The freedom it offers is unreal. The ability to help people instantly in places that it would take me days to drive to is empowering. I have saved lives in 24 states, and look to complete the puzzle by the end of the year. There is always crime to be stopped, there are always bad guys to be beaten. Injustice doesn't take a holiday, unfairness doesn't call in sick, bad guys don't sleep, and neither will I. There will be days when I can't help everyone, and there will be choices I make that will cost innocent people their lives. I believe I can live with that. I have so far.

I've decided to never tell my wife. She seems to know more than she lets on anyway, and we're both comfortable with the balance. I won't endanger her by putting her in a position of truth. "Plausible deniability" if you will. Instead I will daily watch over her, and when we have children, I will watch over them too. They will be the most protected family in the world.

However, I won't forget about you. You will be protected as well. If you are fortunate, I will be there in your time of need.

I will try my best to be there.

I don't fly. I can't shoot lasers from my eyes, my breath doesn't freeze lakes, I don't have a utility belt or a sidekick, and you'll never find me in a special form fitting uniform of any kind. I'm Travis, and there is an excellent chance that we'll become good friends without you ever knowing the truth. This will be my last time to write about my incredible journey. I don't have time for writing anymore. The world needs me.

I know Superman doesn't exist.

But I do.


Thursday, September 23, 2010

You'll Never Read This...

What is it about us as a human race that instantly allows us to see the bad in people before we see the good? I honestly think it's because our generations have seen more bad than good in people, so it makes us question the motives of everyone we meet.

I like to think that I'm different. I like to think that I give everyone an equal chance if I don't know them. However, yesterday I proved that I am not immune to the pull of the suspicious nature that lurks inside of me.

The Missus and I were eating in Subway, and in walked a guy who was not wearing the best of clothes, and he just looked...wormy. You know the type. He walked up to the counter and asked for a plastic bag to put a couple of candy bars in, then he asked if someone was available. The young lady behind the counter said no, and my eyes were glued to him.

He walked down the bar and proceeded to order a sandwich. The person making sandwiches was new, so it took a while. The whole time, he kept looking around, and in general making me nervous because he looked nervous.

He got to where he had to pay, and he made a show of feeling around in pockets and looking through his wallet and all that, then he said that he had forgotten his money. The lady at the register just looked at him and said, "Sorry." The young man just stood there. He wasn't leaving, and the lady wasn't giving him the sandwich for free. I watched, angry at the guy for doing what he was doing, thinking he was the world's biggest douchebag.

Finally a gentleman in overalls stepped in and paid for the sandwich. The "wormy" guy expressed his concern at paying the Samaritan back, and I thought it was a well put on show. I was incensed that this guy would do that, and I felt bad for the guy he was taking advantage of. At this point I was seriously considering saying something, but I held back. The Missus and I were finishing up, and we headed out the door behind the young man and his sandwich.

We weren't two steps outside when the guy drops to his knees and starts eating the sandwich right there on the sidewalk. He wasn't voracious about it, he just ate like maybe he hadn't in a while. Then I see his transportation, which was a hot pink bicycle. Obviously not something he'd choose on his own.

In that instant, something tore loose in my heart. The suspicion was gone, even though the whole thing may have been an act. I'll never know if it was, but I just don't think that's what was happening. I started to wonder of maybe this was the only way he knew how to get food. Then I started thinking about the blessing I was missing by not offering to help him out. I asked myself what I could do to make his situation better from here.

Instead of doing anything, I drove away.

I'll never get the chance to apologize. I have to live with that.

My challenge to you is that you don't let yourself get so caught up in being better than someone that you forget to be a decent human being. I can only hope you do that better than me. We're all people. We should all get that first chance. Some of us are even lucky enough to have gotten a second. Remember that.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

On The Adoption Process...

So we have our first home visit tonight from DHS. They want to poke around the place, make sure my "Knives of the World" chandelier is put up, check to see if we have little plastic thingys in all our electrical outlets, make sure the cords are wrapped up tight as to not choke little ones, and...get this. They are checking to make sure we have a fire extinguisher.

Listen y'all. I'm not a hero. If a fire springs up that I can't douse with a good helping of baking soda, I'm going to grab the PS3, both TVs, my cell phone, my Duke shirts, and maybe some underwear, and I'm going to Costanza my way out of that house faster than you admonish me for doing so. Let me ask you this. How many of YOU have a fire extinguisher in your house?

How many of YOU had to have a home visit before you got pregnant?

How many of YOU took a 27 hour class before you had your kids?

How many of YOU had to fill out a 13 page application that forced you to answer questions about what type of handicaps would be acceptable in a child? That's right. I wish you ALL had to look at that form. I wish you ALL had to answer those questions. Looking at your spouse and checking no on "right arm broken above the wrist but not below the elbow on the outside." It's stupid. Why can't we just have a kid? All we want to do is make someone's life a little better.

I understand there are double standards, and I know it seems like I'm bitter about them. I also know I'm putting you mothers who've had kids in a tough spot, because it seems like I'm calling you out about stuff. Rest assured, I'm not. I'm simply showing you all that there is another side, and I think that a good portion of you probably take having your own kids for granted.

Yeah, I get that some people might want to take advantage of the "financial benefits." I put that in quotes, because the thought of someone adopting a child so they can get a 20 dollar check in the mail every month is STUPID. You hear that? If you've adopted a child for the money, I'm calling you STUPID. You're also sick and twisted, and you're the reason why I'm having to jump through hula sized hoops to get a kid.

Do you know how much I weigh? I get about halfway through a hula hoop, and I get stuck. It sucks. And it's your fault, you douche.

So we bought a fire extinguisher. I even looked at the instructions. I've let The Missus answer a lot of the questions, although there was one in particular, "What would you do if you caught your child masturbating?" that she let me handle. How do you answer that question, folks? I mean, I know what my mother would have done, and I'm pretty sure that's not legal in most states. I think they call it "murder one."

So that's where we're at. We're filling out forms and trying to make the house look good, I'm pretty sure The Missus has vacuumed 34 times in the last 3 days. She's made blind cords shorter. I weed-eated the yard. I washed my truck. She has bleached anything with a non-porous surface in the house. We make the bed in the morning. I've tried to stop leaving dishes everywhere. We've got chemicals put up and emergency numbers written down. All so someone can come in tonight and tell us that if we try just a little bit harder, we'll get the chance to give a kid a life they never would have had.

Meanwhile, Susie and Joe Methhead are down the street, pumping out kids that are disabled and won't have parents by the time they turn 5, and I'm stuck making the decision to say that 5 is too old for us, we'd like a younger child without any drug dependencies please.

Try sleeping at night after making that decision. Try picking a child like you'd pick a basketball team on the playground. And for those of you who HAVE done it? How did you justify it to yourself? Because I'm having one heck of hard time with it.

To the future Sloat child that God has picked for our home, if you ever read this, please know that your mom and I struggled, but in the end, we picked you because we already loved you. You were the perfect fit for us.

Now excuse me, I've got to start working on saying "lovingly discipline" instead of "throat chop."

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

I Have A New Nemesis...

...and it's the Borg.

I'm kidding, but seriously, how lame would that be? I mean, Picard got assimilated, I wouldn't stand a chance. The Borg have one chase speed, and it's incredibly efficient. I don't know that it would be all bad though. I mean, it's a pretty sweet deal, you get turned into what is basically a cow with really cool futuristic weapons. You don't have to remember that yesterday was Jason's birthday or that next Tuesday you have a social event with your Sunday School class. You pretty much wait for the order, then go out and turn a bunch of people into what you could loosely call "friends."

That's all the Borg ever wanted. A bunch of friends.

I seem to have gone off on a tangent. Let's spin this thing back around before I go posting links to the "THERE ARE FOUR LIGHTS!" video again. Seriously. Click that link. Greatest TNG moment, EVER.

Okay. Seriously. Back to my nemesis. They've recently started popping up all over the place, and they are very much hindering my ability to get from point A to point B in a timely fashion. Now, a lot of you may be wondering just what is at point B that is so all fired important, and I'll tell you. It's my job. Point A would be my house, and point C would probably be my dojo, and last night I ran into one of these things while going from point C to point A, and I almost completely lost it. The thing is, I knew it would be there, but I thought that the niceness of the drive would over-compensate for it. It didn't.

These things are stupid. They are foul, and they are evil. They are one step further to our world relying completely on machinery instead of the intuitiveness and ingenuity of the human mind. They are cold, mechanical, and mean. They like to surprise you with mixed up signals, and they don't mind making you wait while the clock slowly ticks towards you being late for whatever it is that you so desperately need to be on time for. I have a sneaking suspicion that they might all be pedophiles, and I really think someone needs to do a background check on these things.

They are...

Temporary traffic lights.


In all seriousness, why can't these things die in a fire? I mean, who really NEEDS them? What happened to construction crews putting their worst man out in front with a stop sign that said slow on the back? You know the guy, he had a mullet, he was slightly over weight, may have had a touch of Down's syndrome, and always made you kind of nervous if you were the only one waiting? Like, he'd stand a little TOO close to the car? Like maybe he was going to make a move for you, so you locked all the doors not caring if he heard them? That guy. Where is he now? I'll tell you where he's at, he's helping work on the bridge that you want to cross, and you don't want that guy doing that. That was the whole reason they gave him the sign, anyway. He was too incompetent to be an actual WORKER, and now he's working. He's probably putting rebar in the wrong way, urinating in the concrete, and generally just making things not safe. And not not safe like maybe showing you the slow side when he should be showing you the stop side. We're talking not safe like if you have more than two cars at a time on the newly "repaired" bridge, the acid from his urine (everyone knows people with Down's have very acidic urine) is going to cause the concrete to crumble and YOU ARE GOING TO DIE. 

So I'm begging you, construction crews. Please put John or Jeff or Terry or Bill or whoever he is back to work. Take down these retarded lights and give the slightly retarded people back the only job they were ever halfway good at to begin with. I mean, what's next? Are you going to take the handicapped greeter away at Wal-Mart and replace her with a robot? Because I will kick that robot. Every time I come in, I'll kick it. 

Until then, I'm going to do my best to come up with a way to destroy my nemesis. Until THEN, I'm going to find a side street. Keep an eye out, pedestrians, I'll be an angry driver. But hey, if I hit you, it might turn you into a vegetable, and then you can work on bridges.