Before the advent of the internet, people acquired their information via printed materials. Books, commercials, ads, flyers, newspapers, etc. Anything someone wanted to share had to be typed, edited, printed, and distributed. Common people shared thoughts and opinions via letters to the editor or flyers on bulletin boards. Academics, journalists, and people with the means of distribution had a near-monopoly on getting their opinions and ideas read by the masses.
When the internet came along, many of these printed materials migrated to the interwebs. Common people could suddenly access essays, blogs, news articles, and other long form writings more easily. Before long, the existence of the internet meant nearly every person was able to publish and distribute anything they had the mind to say.
This created an exponential increase in the volume of thoughts and ideas available for consumption. Suddenly, anyone could publish anything they were thinking at any time. Distribution of thoughts and ideas was no longer relegated to elite academics and journalists--it was available to the common person.
The massive amount of information EASILY accessible and available for IMMEDIATE consumption became a problem for readers. Too much information available; too little time to read it. So, out of necessity, articles, essays, books, and other forms of thoughts and opinions had to become shorter. Shorter, and shorter, and shorter, until the world began to accept thoughts written in 150 characters or less (twitter.) Quickly, opining in single sentences became the STANDARD. People lost interest in ideas developed over pages, chapters, and lifetimes. If a thesis couldn’t be defended in a sentence, it wasn’t worth anyone’s time.
Thus, our attention spans plummeted, and our brains lost the ability to wrestle with complex ideas or delay gratification in any way. And here we are. We can hardly sit and read a couple pages of a book without getting bored!
I am determined to be part of the solution. I am reading THE SAME book each night before bed, until it’s finished. And then picking up another book and doing it again. And, I’m practicing my writing muscles. Long form writing is becoming a lost art, and I don’t think that’s good for our brains, our psyches, our development, or our humanity. We need to be able to focus on and pay attention to thoughts and opinions that are developed over paragraphs and pages. It’s very difficult to create nuance in 150 characters. It’s a little easier to do it in the span of an essay or a book. And nuance creates openings for discussion. Discussion connects us. Connection fosters community, and community makes us human. It’s harder to hurt one another when we’ve sat down over a cup of coffee and discussed an idea for longer than 150 characters in a shouting match.
For these and other reasons, I have resurrected this blog. I enjoy writing in long form, and maybe we can all work on enjoying reading it too!
Thank you for taking ten minutes out of your day to read what’s on my mind. I hope it is generally a ten minutes well spent.
It was fall of 2016, the last time I wrote here. I had completed five semesters at Baylor, graduated from nursing school in Houston and taken a leap of faith, coming back to this little town where I grew up. I had no professional job lined up, and I “knew” I’d never meet my husband here, so by all accounts the move seemed like the WRONG decision. I was 23 years old with no concept of how my life was going to turn out.
I moved back, anyway. I wanted the freedom of the wilderness, the comfort of being known by people. And, the uncertainty of what would happen next was exciting.
I worked part time at a bike shop and played all summer long. I lived in a corner of my parents’ house and spent more time sleeping outside than sleeping in a bed. I had almost no responsibilities, no bills, and I spent every paycheck on some new expensive piece of gear. A mountain bike. A backcountry ski setup. Whitewater stuff.
I also felt strongly that I needed to invest time into the youth of this town, the way young adults invested in me while I was growing up. I met with the youth pastor of the church that “raised me,” and he brought me on the team. He took me out to coffee one day and said, “so I know you said you’re here because you want to disciple girls, but there’s this guy named Ben...”
I laughed audibly. “I’m not here to date guys. I plan to go to the big city for that. I know all the guys here. I grew up with them. Not one them is going to be my husband.” I looked up “Ben Pope” on Facebook and laughed harder. “NO.”
A few weeks later, I was sitting on a yellow school bus surrounded by high schoolers. We were getting ready to leave for our youth group’s annual multi-day raft trip. Onto the bus walked a man who made me stop talking. Tall, jet black hair. Black aviators, a green Marmot shell, and an orange pack. I caught my breath and asked Jared who the HECK that was. “Ben Pope,” he said.
I spent the next 4 days doing everything possible to get Ben’s attention. I only rode on his raft. I said I wanted him to “teach me how to guide.” (hah) I strung my hammock next to his. I kept asking him for help with this or that. He hardly noticed. All the kids kept telling me “HE HAS A GIRLFRIEND,” but I was smitten.
Days turned to weeks, and I invited Ben on every possible group trip. We went rafting, kayaking, rock climbing, mountain biking. Always in groups. Until one day, as we were leaving for a kayaking trip, I noticed he looked sad. “What’s wrong?” I asked. He told me he and his girlfriend had broken up. Their lives were diverging. She was going to go to Nashville to sing. He wanted to stay and be a firefighter. I lied to him and told him how sorry I was.
That night, as he was playing the guitar around the campfire for us all, I reached up and held his hand.
We spent the rest of the summer flitting about like shooting stars. We drove all around the state of Oregon, finding the most stunning secret spots. We hardly slept. We were madly in love.
In October, we told “everyone” we were dating. By then, I was working as a barista at our local coffee shop. I’d get off at noon, and we’d hit the slopes. We skied all winter and did road trips all spring. I had moved into the basement of a local family’s house, and we spent every waking moment together. He’d kiss me goodnight, and when he reached the door, I’d always ask for just one more. I’d listen for his Jeep to turn over and then wait for his text that he made it home.
He tells me now those were long, cold drives. ;)
He was living as a student in the fire station. He had a twin sized bed and a little room. Sometimes I’d drive out there and knock on his window to sneak a kiss in the middle of the night.
Eventually, I needed to get a job as a nurse. I was paralyzed by nervousness and couldn’t bring myself to drive to meet managers and drop off resumes. So, Ben drove me. He drove me around and around and around until I got called for an interview.
By the end of June, we were engaged. How we finally got there is a very long story for another time.
We were engaged for two months and married in September. By December, I was pregnant with our Daisy Grace.
It feels like the whirlwind that is “us” hasn’t stopped or slowed down since. But I think that’s just life. We live pretty simply and without a lot of commitments outside our home. But we are project people, so we’re always working on something.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in all this, it’s that God really does give us the desires of our heart when they are aligned with His will. I always kept a list of the character traits I wanted in my husband. I dated a lot of guys who didn't have them all. A lot of people suggested I revise my list or learn to settle. "It's a bit long," they'd say. I sometimes wondered if maybe they were right.
Now, I'm glad I didn't listen.
I should find that list, tucked away in an old journal somewhere. I don't remember each detail of it, but I know Ben Pope checked every box.
I’m grateful to God for the gift of him.
hey, i'm jordan.
i write here because i think our words are worth sharing.