Collecting Losses

Collecting Losses

Nimo’s first day at home (8 1/2 weeks, 22 lbs.).

My dog died last night. Despite a frantic, late night dash to the animal ER and some exceptional measures, Nimo couldn’t be saved. He was my companion for more than 11 years. He was with me, showing that quiet, unshakable — almost mythic — canine love, through some achingly difficult times.

Yeah, he was just a dog. Maybe that’s my point. As we move through life, our hearts connect with others: people and animals, even ideals and causes. It’s how we’re wired. It’s where we find and make the meaning for our lives. And when we connect we know that, somewhere down the line, someone will live the loss.

When you truly feel loss — that deep, raw, aching, tattered hole in your heart — it is evidence that you have lived openly and vulnerably. The pain of loss is a triumph of the heart: it means that you allowed yourself to love, and to be loved, even in the face of knowing that someone would necessarily suffer that pain. The bill for that joy comes due. If it wasn’t so precious, it wouldn’t hurt when it’s suddenly gone. You’ve earned that pain by collecting the experiences that make life worthwhile.

Pain encourages us to get distant. But the anticipation of pain is insidious: this fear of possible pain encourages us to wall ourselves off from the joyful, meaningful experiences that earn the deferred pain of eventual loss.

If we don’t consciously work against all our protective inclinations, we cut ourselves off from truly living. It’s easy to talk ourselves out of loving, caring, and risking. It’s easy to fall into the habit of preemptive self-protection. But without those wonderful, dangerous connections and commitments, we’re just existing. You must accept that your love will disappoint, grow old, eventually fail, and be gone. You must revel in the treasured opportunity because it will not come around again.

Life is transient. We know that. And we do everything we can to shield ourselves from that reality. We know that life, and all the hopes and dreams and love it offers, is fragile. We con ourselves daily into believing that those things we love will last forever, and we do that because we cannot bear the existential weight of it. And then, on occasion, the harsh razor of reality slices through our carefully constructed veil. We are forced to confront the consequence of having cared. And it sucks beyond the telling.

I’ve been on this planet longer than most of us now. I’ve collected many losses: family, friends, mentors, lovers, and cherished companion animals, too.

Sharing Nimo’s last moments.

Sometimes, loss sneaks in, unannounced, and we don’t know it in the moment. But other times, we bear full, knowing witness to the instant of loss. We try so hard to open our hearts and show the other just how much they are loved so that they might pass with the small comfort of having known their irreplaceable effect.

We need a few things in our life we care so much about that we accept the coming pain of loss. I am proud of my losses. I will keep loving and caring and risking and committing, though I know I will lose again. The grief we feel in the face of loss — that yawning chasm of despair that spontaneously erupts within us — is a measure of how much we dared to care. We owe it to ourselves, and those around us, to live lives of care, knowing that the pain will come.

I don’t give love easily, but when I do, I love without reservation and I remain committed. I know that means I will lose again. I know that means I will be again consumed in this awful blackness of grief. But the darkness of grief is the photo-negative of the brightness that once illuminated our lives.

And still, in the face of grief, I choose love. A life well-lived means collecting losses. That’s the hell of it. We must choose experiences that affirm our lives when the loss comes due.

Now? I’m going to have a good cry and be thankful for the brightness of the love that once illuminated this part of my life. That is what makes life wonderful…and what makes loss hurt so.

Markup: HTML Tags and Formatting

Markup: HTML Tags and Formatting

Headings

Header one

Header two

Header three

Header four

Header five
Header six

Blockquotes

Single line blockquote:

Stay hungry. Stay foolish.

Multi line blockquote with a cite reference:

People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.

Steve Jobs – Apple Worldwide Developers’ Conference, 1997

Tables

Employee Salary
John Doe $1 Because that’s all Steve Jobs needed for a salary.
Jane Doe $100K For all the blogging she does.
Fred Bloggs $100M Pictures are worth a thousand words, right? So Jane x 1,000.
Jane Bloggs $100B With hair like that?! Enough said…

Definition Lists

Definition List Title
Definition list division.
Startup
A startup company or startup is a company or temporary organization designed to search for a repeatable and scalable business model.
#dowork
Coined by Rob Dyrdek and his personal body guard Christopher “Big Black” Boykins, “Do Work” works as a self motivator, to motivating your friends.
Do It Live
I’ll let Bill O’Reilly will explain this one.

Unordered Lists (Nested)

  • List item one
    • List item one
      • List item one
      • List item two
      • List item three
      • List item four
    • List item two
    • List item three
    • List item four
  • List item two
  • List item three
  • List item four

Ordered List (Nested)

  1. List item one
    1. List item one
      1. List item one
      2. List item two
      3. List item three
      4. List item four
    2. List item two
    3. List item three
    4. List item four
  2. List item two
  3. List item three
  4. List item four

HTML Tags

These supported tags come from the WordPress.com code FAQ.

Address Tag

1 Infinite Loop
Cupertino, CA 95014
United States

Anchor Tag (aka. Link)

This is an example of a link.

Abbreviation Tag

The abbreviation srsly stands for “seriously”.

Acronym Tag (deprecated in HTML5)

The acronym ftw stands for “for the win”.

Big Tag (deprecated in HTML5)

These tests are a big deal, but this tag is no longer supported in HTML5.

Cite Tag

“Code is poetry.” —Automattic

Code Tag

You will learn later on in these tests that word-wrap: break-word; will be your best friend.

Delete Tag

This tag will let you strikeout text, but this tag is no longer supported in HTML5 (use the <strike> instead).

Emphasize Tag

The emphasize tag should italicize text.

Insert Tag

This tag should denote inserted text.

Keyboard Tag

This scarcely known tag emulates keyboard text, which is usually styled like the <code> tag.

Preformatted Tag

This tag styles large blocks of code.

.post-title {
	margin: 0 0 5px;
	font-weight: bold;
	font-size: 38px;
	line-height: 1.2;
	and here's a line of some really, really, really, really long text, just to see how the PRE tag handles it and to find out how it overflows;
}

Quote Tag

Developers, developers, developers… –Steve Ballmer

Strike Tag (deprecated in HTML5)

This tag shows strike-through text

Strong Tag

This tag shows bold text.

Subscript Tag

Getting our science styling on with H2O, which should push the “2” down.

Superscript Tag

Still sticking with science and Isaac Newton’s E = MC2, which should lift the 2 up.

Teletype Tag (deprecated in HTML5)

This rarely used tag emulates teletype text, which is usually styled like the <code> tag.

Variable Tag

This allows you to denote variables.

Markup: Image Alignment

Markup: Image Alignment

Welcome to image alignment! The best way to demonstrate the ebb and flow of the various image positioning options is to nestle them snuggly among an ocean of words. Grab a paddle and let’s get started.

On the topic of alignment, it should be noted that users can choose from the options of NoneLeftRight, and Center. In addition, they also get the options of ThumbnailMediumLarge & Fullsize.

Image Alignment 580x300

The image above happens to be centered.

Image Alignment 150x150The rest of this paragraph is filler for the sake of seeing the text wrap around the 150×150 image, which is left aligned

As you can see the should be some space above, below, and to the right of the image. The text should not be creeping on the image. Creeping is just not right. Images need breathing room too. Let them speak like you words. Let them do their jobs without any hassle from the text. In about one more sentence here, we’ll see that the text moves from the right of the image down below the image in seamless transition. Again, letting the do it’s thang. Mission accomplished!

And now for a massively large image. It also has no alignment.

Image Alignment 1200x400

The image above, though 1200px wide, should not overflow the content area. It should remain contained with no visible disruption to the flow of content.

Image Alignment 300x200

And now we’re going to shift things to the right align. Again, there should be plenty of room above, below, and to the left of the image. Just look at him there… Hey guy! Way to rock that right side. I don’t care what the left aligned image says, you look great. Don’t let anyone else tell you differently.

In just a bit here, you should see the text start to wrap below the right aligned image and settle in nicely. There should still be plenty of room and everything should be sitting pretty. Yeah… Just like that. It never felt so good to be right.

And just when you thought we were done, we’re going to do them all over again with captions!

Image Alignment 580x300
Look at 580×300 getting some caption love.

The image above happens to be centered. The caption also has a link in it, just to see if it does anything funky.

Image Alignment 150x150
Itty-bitty caption.

The rest of this paragraph is filler for the sake of seeing the text wrap around the 150×150 image, which is left aligned

As you can see the should be some space above, below, and to the right of the image. The text should not be creeping on the image. Creeping is just not right. Images need breathing room too. Let them speak like you words. Let them do their jobs without any hassle from the text. In about one more sentence here, we’ll see that the text moves from the right of the image down below the image in seamless transition. Again, letting the do it’s thang. Mission accomplished!

And now for a massively large image. It also has no alignment.

Image Alignment 1200x400
Massive image comment for your eyeballs.

The image above, though 1200px wide, should not overflow the content area. It should remain contained with no visible disruption to the flow of content.

Image Alignment 300x200
Feels good to be right all the time.

And now we’re going to shift things to the right align. Again, there should be plenty of room above, below, and to the left of the image. Just look at him there… Hey guy! Way to rock that right side. I don’t care what the left aligned image says, you look great. Don’t let anyone else tell you differently.

In just a bit here, you should see the text start to wrap below the right aligned image and settle in nicely. There should still be plenty of room and everything should be sitting pretty. Yeah… Just like that. It never felt so good to be right.

And that’s a wrap, yo! You survived the tumultuous waters of alignment. Image alignment achievement unlocked!

Markup: Text Alignment

Markup: Text Alignment

Default

This is a paragraph. It should not have any alignment of any kind. It should just flow like you would normally expect. Nothing fancy. Just straight up text, free flowing, with love. Completely neutral and not picking a side or sitting on the fence. It just is. It just freaking is. It likes where it is. It does not feel compelled to pick a side. Leave him be. It will just be better that way. Trust me.

Left Align

This is a paragraph. It is left aligned. Because of this, it is a bit more liberal in it’s views. It’s favorite color is green. Left align tends to be more eco-friendly, but it provides no concrete evidence that it really is. Even though it likes share the wealth evenly, it leaves the equal distribution up to justified alignment.

Center Align

This is a paragraph. It is center aligned. Center is, but nature, a fence sitter. A flip flopper. It has a difficult time making up its mind. It wants to pick a side. Really, it does. It has the best intentions, but it tends to complicate matters more than help. The best you can do is try to win it over and hope for the best. I hear center align does take bribes.

Right Align

This is a paragraph. It is right aligned. It is a bit more conservative in it’s views. It’s prefers to not be told what to do or how to do it. Right align totally owns a slew of guns and loves to head to the range for some practice. Which is cool and all. I mean, it’s a pretty good shot from at least four or five football fields away. Dead on. So boss.

Justify Align

This is a paragraph. It is justify aligned. It gets really mad when people associate it with Justin Timberlake. Typically, justified is pretty straight laced. It likes everything to be in it’s place and not all cattywampus like the rest of the aligns. I am not saying that makes it better than the rest of the aligns, but it does tend to put off more of an elitist attitude.

Markup: Title With Special Characters

Markup: Title With Special Characters

Putting special characters in the title should have no adverse effect on the layout or functionality.

Special characters in the post title have been known to cause issues with JavaScript when it is minified, especially in the admin when editing the post itself (ie. issues with metaboxes, media upload, etc.).

Latin Character Tests

This is a test to see if the fonts used in this theme support basic Latin characters.

! # $ % & ( ) *
+ , . / 0 1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 : ; > = <
? @ A B C D E F G H
I J K L M N O P Q R
S T U V W X Y Z [
] ^ _ ` a b c d e f
g h i j k l m n o p
q r s t u v w x y z
{ | } ~
Edge Case: Nested And Mixed Lists

Edge Case: Nested And Mixed Lists

Nested and mixed lists are an interesting beast. It’s a corner case to make sure that

  • Lists within lists do not break the ordered list numbering order
  • Your list styles go deep enough.

Ordered – Unordered – Ordered

  1. ordered item
  2. ordered item
    • unordered
    • unordered
      1. ordered item
      2. ordered item
  3. ordered item
  4. ordered item

Ordered – Unordered – Unordered

  1. ordered item
  2. ordered item
    • unordered
    • unordered
      • unordered item
      • unordered item
  3. ordered item
  4. ordered item

Unordered – Ordered – Unordered

  • unordered item
  • unordered item
    1. ordered
    2. ordered
      • unordered item
      • unordered item
  • unordered item
  • unordered item

Unordered – Unordered – Ordered

  • unordered item
  • unordered item
    • unordered
    • unordered
      1. ordered item
      2. ordered item
  • unordered item
  • unordered item

Meditation on Gratitude

It’s Memorial Day, and that’s an apt opportunity to reflect on gratitude.

My father is  Vietnam Veteran.  He was drafted in 1966 and answered the call — even though he had a lot of life to put on hold at the time: married only a few years, trying to start a family, just settling in to their first house, and working at his career.  He was in country during the Tet Offensive and saw some of the worst of that war.  Even though I think the Vietnam War was a foolhardy endeavor and the “domino theory” a fearful, illogical leap, I have the utmost respect for his decision to do what he felt was right.open-hands2

His father was a Word War I vet, and many of my ancestors served in both sides of the Civil War, in the War of 1812, and the American Revolution.  There’s been a lot of military service in my family tree.  I’m grateful for the men who rose to the obligation they felt.  Just as I am grateful to the men and women who serve others today in so many capacities.

Today also happens to be my parents’ 51st wedding anniversary.  I’m grateful that they are still with me and still together.  I am grateful for the countless things they have done for me and for my family.  Even though, for so long (I suppose, like most children), I failed to recognize the magnitude of their gifts.

As a child (I suppose, like most children), gratitude was an abstract concept.  I was taught to say “please” and “thank you,” among other social niceties.  But I can’t say that I understood how fortunate I was until much later.  It wasn’t that I grew up with a sense of entitlement.  I simply grew up in a world where I didn’t have to think much about it, and where most of those in my immediate environment were similarly blessed.  My world was a small, suburban corner of the globe and we either had enough (generally speaking) or we worked hard to make it appear so (even to ourselves).

My family was far from wealthy: my father was a working class truck driver who ascended into the ranks of management over a forty year career with the same company.  We ascended into the ranks of the lower middle class with his professional success.  I was fortunate enough to be born into a stable home, school district and community that had the ability to provide me with enough advantage to make a difference — all without me even realizing it, at the time.

In fact, I wore the blindness of my relative privilege until I became a Sociologist.  Graduate School confronted me with the cold, hard statistics and stripped away my comfortable illusions.  I had to face just how fortunate I was and acknowledge that, whatever my successes, they were not mine alone.  Becoming a social scientist was the best thing that could have happened for my development as a human.

So, while I always felt an abstract sense of gratitude, somewhere along the way I had to confront the fact that I was lousy at expressing my gratitude.  But expression is the crucial step.  Gratitude doesn’t really count unless you express it to others.  I’ve always liked people, so I presumed that my gratitude was apparent.  But it was not.

Now, I make a conscious effort everyday to share my deep sense of gratitude with others.  I’m far from perfect.  Like most of us, I’m too easily consumed with my own concerns.  But even though it is the easy path, becoming consumed in ourselves is no way to live.

So how do I express my gratitude now?  I try to be in the moment.  I try to focus on the precious gift of each human interaction.  I try to convey, through words and actions, exactly how much I value the gift of others’ time, insights, experiences, and resources.  I try to show family, friends, colleagues, partners, mentors, clients, and those random others who intersect my life that I truly care.

I like to see the good in people, and I think most of us feel the same way.  But in our risky, fearful, hyper-accelerated, massively connected world, we too easily get caught up in the superficial and the distant.  We too easily come to think that gratitude will be mistaken for weakness — and we must keep up appearances.

An unavoidable consequence of continued living is that we face each year with a longer list of those who only live on in our memories.  Family, friends, co-workers — even acquaintances who populate the edges of our lives — are taken from us.  We can choose to become bitter and withdrawn from their loss or we can carry their gifts forward in gratitude for the time we were allowed to share.

And while each of us dies alone, the human connections we make along the way give our lives value.  They are something to be grateful for, indeed.  So this is an expression of my genuine gratitude and a hope that I might become better in consistently expressing it.  So many who I once loved or liked or regarded are no longer here to express that most basic of human feelings.  I believe we owe it to them — and to our children — to express our gratitude.