The Reality Test

23 September 2010

This is an idea I’ve been tossing around for a little while.  It’s not fully fleshed-out, may still need some work, so I hope you’ll understand if it’s got weak points.  (In fact, if you find some, please let me know via the comments section below; credit will be given where due.)

I call the idea The Reality Test.  It’s meant to be a double-check of any purported statement of fact or tenet of belief, or of those making the statements or holding to the tenets.  The Reality Test is a single question:

“Does this assertion or belief match up with what I and others have observed about reality?”

Pretty simple, right?  When someone says something that seems a little off, give it The Reality Test.  Does your own experience corroborate or contradict the statement?  Does it jibe with what you know about the field to which the statement is applicable?  Does it square with my core beliefs, those tempered by experience and study, about how the universe works?  Or, for that matter, with the stated core beliefs of the person making the assertion?  In short, does it agree with reality or try to go against it?

To a certain extent, we use something like The Reality Test every day.  When your boss tries to convince you that the (latest) reorganization will help the company, when your child is making excuses for why their homework isn’t done, when your spouse is attempting to justify an expensive purchase, you apply a version of The Reality Test on the spot, and shape your response accordingly.  This is just a codification of that same instinct.  It’s not perfect, obviously – sincere beliefs can still be sincerely wrong, and there has to be room left for faith (to cover what reason cannot) – but it should help sort out the more fragrantly obvious examples of horse manure.

Let me give you a few examples using The Reality Test, and then I’ll go into why I’m bringing this up right now.

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Back to work

9 September 2010

To put it mildly, our family has been through a lot of transitions over the last year and a half — our son’s illness, my mom’s death, a change of cars, a change of banks, my own rocky spiritual journey, financial thises and thats, and new responsibilities regarding the house we’re renting.  For the most part, the changes have made our lives more complicated rather than less, and added stress rather than reduced it.  Not to be Debbie Downer or anything, just sayin’.

So it’s kind of nice when something changes that’s a clear positive.  And in the last few weeks, we’ve had such a change.

Nina, my supermodel wife, is back at work.

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Took a couple days off

1 September 2010

(… with apologies to Huey Lewis & the News …)

Yeah, I been blog-gone since last Friday — for what I think are very good reasons:

  1. I was tired.
  2. I needed to rest.

Both of which will not exactly be news to the regular readers of this space — or to anyone who knows me.  What with all the stressors of the last year-plus, “being tired/needing to rest/not really knowing how to rest” has become a regular theme of my life and writing.  That’s been compounded in the last couple of weeks, as my wife Nina has gone back to work as a Special Education assistant (more on that later this week), and I’ve had to pick up sole care during the days for Sean again.  So my energy level, not high in the first place, took another dive.

Thus, I’m taking another run at learning how to rest.  And, with God’s help, I’m trying a new tack.

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Spiritual lessons from a 9th birthday party

10 July 2010

Last Tuesday, July 6, was my daughter Charlotte’s ninth birthday.  And this year, we did something different.  We had a birthday party.

This is not to say that we never celebrated her birthday in previous years — we did, but as a quiet family affair.  We’d cook a special meal, maybe get a cake or some ice cream, let her open gifts at the dinner (or breakfast) table.  Last year we went to Discovery Kingdom, just the four of us — Charlotte, her parents and her little brother.  But those big events where fifteen kids come over, bury her in presents and tear up the house … we’ve never done that.  And Charlotte has never pressured us to do that.  A birthday is a big deal for her, and for us — but not a big production.

This year, though, we changed the script a little.  In the last several months, she’s become more outgoing, and gotten closer to some kids in the neighborhood, and she wanted to do something with them involved.  So between her and the Supermodel and I, we put together a plan — a trip to the Micke Grove Zoo north of Stockton, followed by a picnic lunch at the adjacent park.  Charlotte was allowed to invite three friends, as that’s what our minivan will hold in addition to her and us (she ended up inviting two), and we informed her friends’ parents that all expenses were paid: park and zoo entrance fees, food, presents, the works (a good move, as their families are probably poorer financially than we are, which is saying something).  At 9:30 Tuesday morning, we hopped in the van, picked up Daniel and Sammy, and off we went.

And I learned a lot that day — not just about party planning either.  There were spiritual lessons as well …

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Almost seven months later …

3 March 2010

August the thirteenth, 2009.  That’s the date on my last entry here.  It’s been almost seven months since I’ve been in this space.  Almost seven months since I’ve been able to be in this space for longer than a few minutes.

It has been la vida loca at Chez Anselmo for that long.  Things have happened that we didn’t think we would ever have to bear, that we would never have thought we could bear, and we’ve borne them nonetheless.  So many things, in fact, that there is no way I could get all the pertinent details into a single blog post and not give up a good chunk of sleep.  (Lost enough of that lately as it is.)  But I wanted to give you all at least an overview, and I can expand on any or all of them at later dates.

That work for you?  Okay, strap yourselves in, and please keep your arms and legs inside the car at all times.  Here we go …

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Perspective and silver lining, thanks to the Joads

1 July 2009

Sometime, when you think you’re in a bit of a spot, you need a little bit of perspective.  You know the old saying about “I once cried because I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet”?  That’s the kind of perspective I’m talking about here — the “it could be a whole lot worse” kind.  The “you have no idea how good you’ve got it” kind.  The kind that says, “hey, our home state’s not so bad — look at California, they can’t even pass a freaking budget!”  I don’t mean being cheered at the misfortune of others; I mean being thankful that for whatever reason, God has chosen to protect you from that misfortune.

In my case, being thankful that my last name isn’t Joad.

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The first day of summer … sort of

15 June 2009

Over the last few days, a change has begun around Chez Anselmo.  It started on Wednesday, and won’t be finished for a week or two yet, but it is definitely happening.  And all of you with kids over the age of five know what I’m talking about.

That’s right — sing it with me if you know the old Alice Cooper tune … “SCHOOOOOOOL’S OUT … FOR SUMMERRRRRRRR!”

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