People love adventure stories: stories of good versus evil, of heroes and villains, and of conflict and resolution. In some ways, many of us dream of having the sorts of adventures we read or hear about as children. Though each story is different, serving its own purpose, each is created by a person, one who might be recognized and long remembered for his/her accomplishment. Within each narrative, characters perform certain actions as events unfold, but the author controls the story. So what if I said we are part of a story? If you think about it, life could be considered one giant story written by God, and when the story is over, He will be remembered, glorified in fact. Keep reading, and I’ll explain what I mean.

Off the top of your head, how many authors can you name who used the landscape of adventure for their portraits and are considered by many to possess good quality or excellence in their field? Perhaps J. K. Rowling, C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, or George Lucas, just to name a few. Granted, they have their critics, detractors, or people who just don’t care for their work, just as we all have in whatever we do, but no one can deny they have the ability to grip readers and pull them into a world that is imaginary but at the same time can seem very real. To the reader, this world within the story exists within its own reality, constrained by its own rules and restrictions, troubled with conflict. Characters are created with their own personalities and quirks, stories are told, evil is eventually defeated, and who is remembered for all of this? The author. To those who finish a well-told story, they are rewarded with such satisfaction of having known what happens and how it ended, but something greater happens beyond that. More than just enjoying a story being told, readers often remember who wrote the story, the author’s name becomes a part of human history, and s/he is then recognized for outstanding work. Why shouldn’t they want or accept what they earned, even if recognition might not have been the purpose in creating the stories.

It should be noted that an essence of good storytelling requires some sort of conflict that is ultimately resolved, but a good author will not interrupt a story’s flow just to accomplish this. While characters’ actions move a story along, they must behave within certain parameters or be considered “out of character,” which can ruin the story. Yet if you think more closely about the concept of a story itself, you have to ask some philosophical questions. Do authors ultimately control stories in which characters take on lives of their own? In a story of good versus evil, if clearly-defined heroes and villains are known by the readers, is the author berated for creating such characters? When there is long-lasting conflict within a story that is ultimately resolved with the death of the villain and the end of terror that plagued the other characters, is the author blamed for including or allowing evil within the story? Though negative elements are part of a story, is the author’s ability to tell a story condemned for poor quality work by including them? Or is the writer more likely to be praised for creating something compelling, designing a work of art in which readers invested a lot of time and energy following to its conclusion? While the answers may be obvious, consider that there might be something deeper.

What am I getting at with all this? The Bible, our lives, and God’s glory. From Genesis to Revelation, we read a story. A story of God’s love and faithfulness. A story of how He created a perfect world, yet evil entered the picture, ruined everything, and continues to exist for millennia, but in the end, everything will be resolved, and the Author will have recognition. Now the characters within a normal story live their lives and make their choices, for good or for bad, in order to move the story along, all completely unaware of the author’s involvement, that s/he is really the one in control of everything. The characters are unable to interact with the author; that author doesn’t even cross their minds, as any interruption by the author to the story’s continuity would lessen its quality. But we exist in a different kind of story; it’s a story in which the Author is not visibly seen, yet the characters are allowed to know of His existence and even interact with Him, often pleading for such interruptions that would make other narratives become lesser quality. Sometimes we often wonder how things in our own lives will turn out okay; we may not like that problems occur, people die, or even that suffering exists, but we are part of God’s story, and that’s a story with a different purpose.

The purpose of human history is to bring glory to God, yet with all the evil that exists, we sometimes wonder how that can be accomplished. How will the fact that evil exists in the first place ultimately glorify God? With all the bad stuff that happens to us personally, how is everything going to work out for good in the end? Even more theologically, how do we rectify God’s sovereignty with human freedom of choice, while maintaining our sanity? If God is ultimately in control, do we really make choices? If we’re able to make choices freely, is God really in control? And if He is in control and evil exists, is God responsible for evil?

If you think about God as an author, you can begin to understand a dichotomy that often puzzles many people. As an author, God is writing a story, a story in which He created characters who essentially took on lives of their own. The characters (that’s us) live our lives and make our choices, for good or for bad. In some ways, those choices advance the plot of this narrative we call “life,” but it is really God, the one who is ultimately in control of the story, who is moving everything along. We don’t know the outcome of everything, but He does. The Bible tells us how the story ends, and while we know that all evil and suffering will eventually cease to exist, what then will be the result? When all this life is said and done, God will not be condemned for all the evil that ever existed, as many are want to blame Him for; on the contrary, just as other authors are noted for their skillful writing, He will one day be praised for His excellence, His ability to tell a compelling story.

Maybe you’ve never thought of it this way before. Authors create compelling stories filled with good and evil, and those authors are often remembered, maybe even revered, for doing so. They aren’t chastised for the bad that was included in the story but are recognized for the quality of their work, and although the characters still possess a freedom of sort, the author really controls the story. In much the same way, God too is an author, and He’s writing this story in which we exist and freely move. We may not understand how everything fits together, but in the end God will receive the glory. That’s what it’s all about anyway.

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The Chapter on Change

Posted: April 24, 2016 in career, change, life, reflection, update, work
Tags: , , ,

Let me say right off the bat that after 5+ years of working nights at the same location, I will soon begin working a daytime job somewhere new! The short version is this past week I was offered a daytime job, which I accepted. For a while I’ve hated working nights and how it’s impacted almost every aspect of my being (and sanity) and for a few months have been looking more seriously for daytime work. I am not even sure how to describe my thoughts or experience; it wasn’t exactly horrific, but it was far from a good thing. I am so ready for this next chapter in my life to begin, but at the same time, I’ve started processing how this change will affect people and remembering these past several years. As I also thought about it over the last few days, I’ve also realized the timing couldn’t be more perfect, even though I never I intended it this way or at this time. I’ve mentioned before a bit of my view on change, how it can be exciting and/or scary, but my past is an integral part of who I am today.

As I’ve been getting myself ready to start a new job and finish the last week at my current job, I look forward to the future. I started to think of different possibilities I’ll soon have, things I’ll be able to do, events I’ll be able to be a part of, and so forth. It’s been somewhat exciting to know I won’t have to be sleeping while life goes on around me. I may be losing whatever freedom people imagine I had not working during the day, but I’ll more than make up for it for it by having the opportunity to be around other people and feeling less isolated from humanity. So I’m more than happy to feel alive at the cost of no longer feeling dead.

Even though I’m ready for the transition, I also have a bit of nostalgia in me, so saying goodbye and leaving somewhere is not always easy, especially since I spent over five years with the same employer, seeing the same people, and getting used to their presence. As I was considering the future, I was also reminded of the first time certain things happened at my current job, although some of it seems so long ago. I remembered when I first met certain people or experienced certain events. I think of how much has changed since I started, who’s still there, who isn’t there, what we do differently, and just different thoughts about what was then and what is now. In some weird way, I know I’m going to miss this place. I won’t so much miss the building, because it’s just that: a building, but I did spend all of my late twenties going to the same job at the same location. I will miss the people I worked with on an almost-nightly basis, even if I didn’t always get along with some of them (not getting along is sometimes part of life, right?). Most of them I don’t know outside work, unless we became friends on Facebook, but I still saw them each and every work day, excluding vacations, holidays, etc. While I was there, I assessed some of their strengths and weaknesses, and I learned something about part of their lives away from the job. I saw people come and people go. I worked under four different shift managers. I changed job positions twice myself, and I saw multiple changes in how we processed work. In some way that’s hard to describe, that place and the people I’m leaving have been a part of my life.

Of course, like most jobs, each day was a mostly predictable routine with little deviation from whatever the norm was, even if there was a new norm after each significant change in how we processed work. Despite whatever changes occurred, I learned just about every aspect of my department, as I became trained by other people or picked up little bits of knowledge from them. I’m also detail-oriented, so I did figure out a few things on my own, as well as notice small but important details, but most of what I know was learned from other people. Due to my years of training and exposure, I’ve come to understand how the process works, how each step could help or hinder a following step in the process, and how to resolve seemingly-minor issues when they arise. I also understand well enough the hardware and the software we use in our business, which has made me a reliable source of information when something doesn’t work right. Because of my knowledge base, if someone was needed to perform just about any task within the process, I was a go-to person, even if I wasn’t always happy about it. There’s a part of me that values desirability, as well as variation of work, but trying to focus on multiple activities at one time can be stressful and somewhat chaotic, and sometimes I just wanted to focus on and finish whatever task I was currently dealing with. Although I do know a lot about the work I currently do, I’ve tried to pass on to other people what I know on how to address issues that arise.

Granted, I am not the only person who is able to do what what I do, regardless of different methods or ways of seeing problems. The business was around long before I was there and has changed since its inception, so I’m confident there are others who can do some, if not all, of what I have done for these past several years; after all, I did learn most of what I know from other people. I think I can point to each job detail and remember exactly who taught me what; I merely brought together the knowledge I gained from other people in order to accomplish our goals each night as seamlessly as possible. Other people may not understand or see issues the way I do, but the people I’ve worked with are capable of learning what they need to know. Sometimes all it takes to solve a problem is thinking critically, understanding necessary details, and testing possible solutions. You just have to be willing to try if you have the freedom and willing to fail if the solutions don’t work.

As to the timing being perfect, I couldn’t have predicted it would happen when or how it did. I was scheduled to be on vacation next week, so even though I’m leaving a few days shy of two weeks after giving my two-week notice, it’s still technically two weeks because I wasn’t going to be present anyway, due to vacation. But more importantly than the logistics of my leave notice, a somewhat significant change in work flow will be happening where I currently work. Beginning later this week, some sort of upgrade/modification none of us really knows anything about will take place; although, the upgrade is built upon a preexisting process. It was an upgrade mentioned by our site manager last year or the year before, and I was interested when I first heard about it; in fact, some time prior to that, I had pitched a similar idea for this modification to someone else, so the idea intrigued me probably more than most other people who heard about it. Since we know so little about the upgrade, what information we do have is limited, while our questions are less limited. We do not know what sort of impact, negative or positive, it will have on how we do what we do. This change starts two days before the end of the week, which is an awkward time to try learning something new and perhaps complex. As someone who is familiar with certain aspects of the system being changed, I’ll be one of the key players in the initial transition for those first two days. After that short time period, things get interesting, but I won’t be around to assist.

Since I was initially scheduled to be gone for vacation right after those two days, it would’ve meant I would return after other people have a week to run into issues and learn things we might not in those first two days, but then I might run into any issues they miss while I’m gone. However, because I accepted this new job offer, it means I will be leaving entirely after those two days instead. Now this might seem like a bad thing because I’m leaving everyone right after a major upgrade and they’re going to need me because of my problem-solving ability, but in reality I know as much about the upgrade as anyone else, so we’re all going into this thing together somewhat blind. While I know the machines and what we do really well, other people know these things well enough themselves. If I were only on vacation, everyone else would be able to spend that week learning things none of us currently knows, and they would learn them without my help. As to whether someone else or I would figure out some problem no one else will be able to, I don’t know, but as I mentioned earlier, I believe the people I’ve been working with are capable of learning what they need to know, even when I’m not around. I may have understood and solved certain problems in ways they couldn’t or noticed issues they didn’t catch, but I’m sure they’ll be fine without me.

As to what sort of impact my permanent absence will leave on those to whom I came into contact during my employment, I do not know, but I hope my presence was mostly positive. As for me personally, it’s time for change, but you will be missed, even if I only saw you at the office.

Update: The upgrade was not nearly as dramatic as anticipated; in fact, we misunderstood what was going to happen. The upgrade we were expecting will come later, at some point soon after I’m gone, but what we got was a patch to help with the forthcoming upgrade. As much as I’d had my hopes up of seeing everything in action, it’s just as well. I may missed that opportunity, but there are other things I’ll soon be seeing and learning. Time to get excited about that.

-Edward

 

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…in 26 words:

Analytical
Blogger
Creative
Detail-oriented
Efficient
Flexible
Graphical
Helpful
Interdependent
Juxtaposed
Knowledgeable
Lyrical
Multifaceted
Near-sighted
Observant
Pragmatic
Quick
Resourceful
Silent
Tenacious
Uncooked
Visual
Wordsmith
Xenodochial
Y2K-compliant
Zingaholic

-Edward Antonym

I mentioned in at least one other post that that I work overnights and some of its effects; I’ve been at the same place with basically the same schedule for a little over five years. Well, I’m tired of working nights, and I’m just tired from working nights. So much of the time I’m physically tired, mentally worn out, and emotionally drained. I have days in which the only thing I do outside of my job is feel burned out and try to catch up on sleep/rest. The additional side effects of working a night job are also making me realize how much of my life I’m losing or missing out on by being where I am during the time frame I am there. Whatever benefits there might be or were when I started are quickly being outpaced by the cost.

For one thing, I have moments of forgetfulness and lack of focus, which are made worse by my inability to rest. (I’ve taken melatonin to help, but my body tends to build up resistance to such things.) Because I go in on one night and leave the next day, I don’t exactly know when my day starts or ends. (Lamentations 3:23 is a hard verse in the Bible for me to grapple with because I’m not sure when morning is.) Days blend together, and I sometimes forget what the current day of the week or date on the calendar is, making it hard to remember what happened on what day, pending something out of the ordinary happened.

Another aspect is there’s not a lot of variation in terms of job functions, but the job can get stressful at times. Additionally, I’m not ashamed to let people know that I’ve struggled with depression and loneliness, and working nights does not help me overcome these obstacles; in fact, it can make me feel more unstable or on edge at times. There are other health-related problems, so between the stress of the job itself and the associated health issues from working nights, it’s like compounded interest on a down payment of death.

If you’ve read up to this point and are still with me, you might be wondering why I don’t just move to a daytime position. If not, I’m going to put that thought on your radar, as it was something I had hoped to do after certain external circumstances had changed. Unfortunately, due to reasons I don’t understand and that aren’t my call, my request to move to days was denied, and the only other option I got was worse than my current standing. In other words, I feel trapped in a downward spiral until I eventually have a nervous breakdown or collapse from exhaustion.

Sigh.

But there is hope, and I’m not giving up on life.

In fact, I want to find another place of employment or line of work and quit my current job. I am looking for something else, but until I find it, I can’t afford to drop what I do because I still have expenses, which means I’m kind of stuck where I am until something definitive happens. And that’s where I wanted to ask any of my readers for help. If you feel inclined to help me out in this situation, I set up a gofundme page, hoping to raise support in the meantime and maybe quit sooner. (Genuine job leads are also appreciated.) I’ll be honest and say I’ve never done this before: asking people for money for this kind of scenario, so maybe I’m crazy to try. I do believe in the value of hard work and doing something that matters, but if a job is killing you metaphorically (maybe literally through rapid aging and excess stress) and escape seems nearly impossible, a crazy request is worth a shot.

On the other hand, if you just enjoy what I do here and reading my thoughts, I also have a PayPal link. Don’t feel obligated either way. I’ll still plan to be here writing, because it’s part of how I express myself.

-Edward Antonym

I wanted to let anyone who might be interested in going beyond this blog and learning a little more about what else I do, there are a few other places where I share my work online.

Tumblr: If you’ve read enough of my posts or know me in real life, you might know I like linguistic-related stuff, such as word play and puns. I also do some photo editing and have put together some visual gags that come to mind or other things I find. I add stuff on an irregular basis.

Twitter: Not everything that comes to my mind is worth a blog-length post, but some of it is still worth sharing (or maybe I just post thoughts I shouldn’t share). It’s probably mostly one-liners, but they’re still my thoughts. Also, I wouldn’t say I’m a huge fan of Twitter, but it serves its purpose.

YouTube: One of my hobbies is editing videos, and I do post some of my videos here. I had wanted to pursue video editing as a possible career path, and I even have a faux company named “3 Teams Media.” But I’m not sure if that’s going to pan out (no pun intended), as I haven’t devoted a lot of time to it. However, I still do upload some stuff on occasion.

Facebook: This isn’t my personal account (though I do have one of those); rather, it is my 3 Teams Media page, which I use to upload publicly-accessible images before I put them on my Tumblr site. I probably should link more YouTube videos there, since that was the original intent of the page, but I never spent time trying to figure out how everything is integrated. So it’s mostly just images.

Anyway if you’re interested in other aspects of my creativity or just want to see what else I do besides write, feel free to visit any of those links and check out what you see.

-Edward Antonym

I’ve been driving for ten years now (January 25, 2006); I got my permit shortly after turning 21 and my license just before turning 23. I used to walk or ride a bike places, both of which come with their own challenges, but learning to drive definitely opened up some doors and brought some sense of freedom. I’ve had a few different jobs that only became possible because of driving, gone on a few road trips in which I did some or all of the driving, including to several states I’d not been to before, and it allowed me to meet people I probably would not have met otherwise. I’ve been able to explore the world a little more as a result, so learning to drive has been worth that much. Additionally, I’ve been able to purchase a vehicle that’s served me for more than half that time.

On the downside, I sometimes get tired of driving to places, especially by myself, and dealing with traffic. (I really don’t like being stuck for extended periods in a small space, such as a driver’s seat, unable to move my body much.) I’ve also had two parking tickets, one speeding ticket, and a non-contact accident (don’t ask), but I guess that’s a pretty good driving record for the length of time I’ve been allowed to drive.

Here’s to ten years of driving and whatever lies down the road ahead… as long as it doesn’t stop my car.

-Edward Antonym

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Have you ever heard someone when talking about birthdays use any form of the wording “you are *insert zodiac sign*” and then proceed to talk about the how and why of someone’s personality based solely on that information? But what happens if someone diverts from the expectations of a specific sign’s description? In other words, what if a person acts differently than his/her “star sign” would suggest? The problem with defining people by a star signs is that it basically pigeonholes them into certain characteristics and creates a kind of prejudice as to how a person should think or behave.

Let’s start with something basic: Humans are complex creatures. If being born “under a certain star sign” caused/revealed certain personality traits, there would only be about twelve different personality types, and humans would be a lot less complex. You can’t really judge how people will think or behave, based solely on what time of year they’re born. Even people who are born within the same time frame for whatever constellation might have completely dissimilar personalities, and/or they might approach the same issue from different angles or generally see the world very differently. Additionally, each person can come across differently to other people because of individual personality traits.

Not only could multiple people born around the same time of year have different personalities, but two people born under different signs could also have similar traits. If I had to guess, I’d say each of us has at least one or two personality traits in common with each person we encounter, regardless of birthday. In fact, if you read descriptions for each of the signs, you might find bits of yourself in multiple signs or even discover variations for the same sign, so the descriptions are somewhat of a cosmic guessing game.

Basically, our personality and traits can and tend to change over time; that’s just part of life. Granted, there are aspects of each of us that may never change, but if you let a star or constellation define people, you really only limit yourself and others you encounter. And then you’ll probably wonder why they act differently than their star sign tells you they should, and you may even react negatively when they do.