250. Life Lessons from a Thirsty Blogger

So I drink a lot of coffee. Don't judge me.

Yes, I drink a lot of coffee. Don’t judge me.

If anyone has ever wondered how I come up with ideas for this blog, the picture above tells the whole story: I sit and drink coffee and wait for something to happen. What can I say? Blogging is thirsty work.

(Due credit to the inimitable Wes Molebash for the splendid caricature, which has become my official Internet profile picture and a new banner for this blog.)

Today marks another milestone in the sunny existence of Typewriter Monkey Task Force: a blog fueled by coffee, sustained by geeky enthusiasm and buoyed by the support of loved ones. This blog has allowed me to share my passion for everything from God to tea to Tolkien. In good times and in bad, working on TMTF has brought me no end of satisfaction, comfort, encouragement, joy and pleasure. It has also given me the privilege of connecting with many fascinating, creative, generous people—writers, bloggers, artists and others—whom I would otherwise never have known.

In the two and a half years since starting this silly blog, I have gained a number of personal insights about life, the universe and everything. Today—as my typewriter monkeys and I celebrate this milestone with banana shakes and coffee, respectively—I’d like to share ten of the best lessons I’ve learned since TMTF began.

I must focus on today

I’m really good at brooding about the past, worrying about the future and generally thinking about all times but the present. God has given me today. Yesterday and tomorrow are in his hands, and I need to leave them there. My business isn’t to be burdened by worries or regrets, but to make the most of the time I have been given.

What matters is not what I feel, but what I do

For a long time, I made a simple assumption: If I felt bad, I was doing badly; if I felt good, I was doing well. I was wrong. Feelings are mostly beyond my control and largely unconnected to how well or badly I’m living my life. Depression isn’t proof of failure, nor does success does guarantee happiness. I should do my best under all circumstances, no matter what I feel.

I need sleep

I hate to say it, but I can’t shrug off sleep deprivation. Those late nights playing Ace Attorney or reading random Wikipedia articles seriously affect my concentration, mood and overall health. A long sleep can totally brighten my day; a short sleep can tip me over the brink into sickness or severe depression. In fact, I would go so far as to say sleep is almost as important as coffee.

Prayer and Scripture really, really make a difference

The past two years have taught me that prayer and Scripture are anchors. These commitments to God keep me rooted in my faith and focused on things that matter. When I quit praying and reading Scripture, I drift away from God. When I drift away from God, I become kind of a jerk. When I become kind of a jerk, everybody loses. Prayer and Scripture make an incredible difference in my life for good—even more than coffee, which is saying something.

I am not a great writer

I’m a pretty good writer, I think. Writing is one of my greatest talents, along with drinking coffee and having magnificent sideburns. I’m a good writer—but not a great one. When I was younger, I assumed my writing was brilliant. Working on this blog, failing to make The Eliot Papers a success and (above all) reading fantastic works by truly great writers have given me healthy doses of perspective and humility.

Things don’t fall apart

Heck, I wrote an entire post about this. No matter how I try to keep things together, I shall sometimes fail. It is well, then, that God is there to hold things together when my best efforts can’t keep them from falling apart.

I can’t fix people, but I can love them

If Doctor Who has taught me one thing, it is the importance of having epic sideburns. If the series has taught me a second thing, however, it is the value in simply showing kindness. “The way I see it, every life is a pile of good things and bad things,” the good Doctor reminds us. “The good things don’t always soften the bad things, but vice versa, the bad things don’t necessarily spoil the good things or make them unimportant.” The world is full of hurting people. I may not be able to take away their bad things, but nothing will ever prevent me from adding to their good ones.

I must be focused and intentional

It is so hard—so darn hard—to stay focused. I seem to live in a disorienting fog of distractions, diversions and complications. Depression and obsessive-compulsive impulses are only slightly greater obstacles to productivity than the Internet and its endless wealth of interesting articles and funny cat pictures. A useful, meaningful life doesn’t just happen. It takes intention, self-control and (in my case) a good deal of caffeine.

People are awesome

Human beings are amazing, awful, odd, ordinary, selfish, selfless creatures. In general, they’re pretty awesome. I’ve realized it’s worth getting to know people, and important to respect even those I don’t know.

I have good reasons for believing in God

When I began this blog, I felt conflicted about God and life and the universe in general. Many of my questions about God were unanswered. Some of them still are. It was while working on this blog that I reached a fundamentally important conclusion: I have my doubts about God and Christianity, but my evidence in their favor definitely outweighs my evidence against them. No worldview makes perfect sense to me, but Christianity makes the most sense.

Well, dear reader, thanks for reading this blog, putting up with our shenanigans and generally being awesome. My sincere thanks to everyone who has supported this blog, and to God for grace and coffee and stuff. Here’s to many more cheerful ramblings about faith, writing, video games, literature, life, the universe and everything!

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