When the iPhone Breaks


This is what happens when you drop your phone on a tile floor in front of your hotel in California just a couple of hours after getting off your plane.

This is what happens when you walk 15 minutes from where you’re staying to the Apple Store, and you meet with the “genius” (really hate calling them that) and they tell you they can fix the screen that, for the last couple of days, has been shedding glass shards into your thumb.

This is what happens when you walk to lunch at Umami Burger in northwest LA with nothing in your pocket but your wallet. No friends to meet. No Kindle. Nothing to do, no one to talk to.

This is what happens when you sit at the outside patio alone for the 45 minutes it takes to order and eat lunch.

What happens is at first you feel a little uncomfortable and self-conscious. You think, “oh no, what am I going to do for the next hour without checking my Twitter feed?” What you do is start by controlling the hyperventilating that starts when you realize no one in the world knows where you are right at this moment or how to get ahold of you.

What happens is you start settle into it a little bit. You try desperately to engage the waiter in conversation, but he’s busy (even though there’s only one couple at one other table) and you can tell he’s only being as polite as he thinks his tip necessitates. You try not to eavesdrop. Or, truth be told, you eavesdrop, but the conversation is about sales targets and new markets and you grow tired of it in minutes.

What happens is you notice how perfect the temperature is in LA all the time. You notice the trill of some unidentified bird. You notice the procession of late model cars gently navigating the speed bumps just beyond the railing of the outdoor patio. You notice the condensation gathering on your beer and you take the time to taste each of the four sauces the waiter places on the table.

What happens is you start to think about stuff. You think about all the ideas that have been bouncing around your head for the last couple of days. You think about exhilarating conversations that you’ve had with friends and strangers over burritos, beers and asparagus fries in a cool beach town restaurant.

What happens is you ask the hostess for a pen and you take the placemat and you start to write. You start writing what’s in your head. You remember quotations, themes, ideas. Even without consulting all the notes you took during the 2-day conference, you remember the things that really struck a chord, deep inside of you:

“I love you Charles.”

“We’re exchanging our souls for Candy Crush.”


“People who want to ‘keep you accountable’ are TOXIC”

“At some point you need to step across the threshold.”


What happens is you you write down all the stuff that will be the headlines when you get home to debrief with your wife. What happens is that when your friend asks you – the day after you get back while you’re cooking together in the kitchen – “how was your conference?” you’re ready with the soundbites, you have an answer that’s been thought-through and distilled.

[Listen, I’m as plugged in as everyone else, and this isn’t meant to be a soap box. But we’ve got a problem when culturally we don’t do this anymore. We don’t give ourselves space to stop and think, to process, to distill, to summarize, to connect the dots. Blaise Pascal, in Pensees said, “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” I tend to think he was right. When I get alone and get quiet, things get much more clear than they are in the flotsam and jetsam of daily life.]

This is what happens when lunch is over: you pay the bill, walk back to the Apple Store, pick up your phone and get back online.


Igniting our Deep: Quotable

I wrote a post earlier this week about getting in touch with our creative spaces and sharing those with others so that we might call out the depths of the beauty that resides in them. And then, this morning, I was finishing the last couple chapters of Richard Rohr’s The Naked Now and I came across this beautiful gem:

“…nondual people will see things in their wholeness and call forth the same unity in others, simply by being who they are. Wholeness (head, heart, and body, all present and positive) can see and call forth wholeness in others. This is why it is so pleasant to be around whole and holy people.

“simply being who we are”… and somehow that makes us pleasant to be around. Yes.

Igniting the Deep

Last week I was in SoCal. If you’re asking, “why were you in California?” I’d first answer, “why not?” I really love SoCal. The weather is nearly perfect, the people eclectic, the vistas are breathtaking and there’s an energy that I feel when I’m there. I’d go there once a month  if I could afford it.

But the specific answer to your question is:  I was out there to attend a conference in Laguna Beach called Keep Going. It was hosted by Rob Bell and included other speakers (Vicky Beeching, Pete Rollins, Kristin Bell, Carlton Cuse and a comedy performance of “Together at Last” by Rob & Pete Holmes). Roughly, the event was about becoming – the experience of growing as a person and persevering in the pursuit.

Sunday my dad asked me if I learned a lot at the conference, and I told him, “not really. It wasn’t so much an informational thing, but I was inspired a lot, and that’s what I need right now more than anything else.” It was about listening to speakers who are out there writing, speaking, producing television shows, making music, giving speeches, birthing new things into the world. It was about meeting other pastors, musicians, a journalist, a literary agent, a musician; people who are choosing to take risks, who are on their own journeys of looking into themselves and giving their true selves to the world.

And when I rub shoulders with these kind of people, in this kind of setting, something happens and it feels like the creative spark in me wants to erupt. I think I built a list of about 8 blog posts I hope to write over the next month. I had a short film idea that I was working through in my head this morning. I mentally wrote chapters for the novel I want to write some day.

It’s the same thing when I hear certain songs, or I hear Anis Mojgani recite a poem, when I watch a short film by Jared Leto, or watch The Cook’s Table on Netflix. Or it comes when I’m with creative people or when I read certain books; in some mystical way, when I experience the beauty of another person’s creativity, it awakens the creative spark with me.

There’s a short line in Psalm 42 that I’ve always loved:  “Deep calls to deep.” I’ve never quite understood exactly what it’s meant to convey, but I’ve always thought about it as if there is a deep well of creativity, energy, spirit – whatever you want to call it – in each of us and the spark from my “deep” to yours is what connects us to each other.

But it’s a bit unpredictable. I played Anis Mojgani’s poem, “For Those Who Can Still Ride in Airplanes for the First Time,” for some friends a couple months ago. For whatever reason, watching Mojgani recite that poem energizes me. It wakes up my “deep.” But I watched my friends’ eyes glaze over, and I recall shutting it off even before it was over. It didn’t speak to their deep. No big deal. One person reads a book and loves it, while another says, “meh.” To one person, a certain song moves them to tears, to another, not so much. But each of us needs to find the things that awaken our deep.

And so coming home, I’ll be making some changes, trying some new things to try to stimulate my “deep.” I was running early in the morning Tuesday with my friend Steve, and we were talking about the fuel to write. And, following his lead, I’m making some motivational note cards that I hope will keep the creative spark alive. The cards are going to be filled with quotes, songs, links – all the things that wake up what’s inside me. And I’m going to seek out artists, people who are taking risks and giving birth to beauty in the world. And when I don’t feel “creative,” I’m going to read my cards, follow the links, have lunch with someone that will re-awaken my “deep.”

I’m curious about you all. What are some of the poems, songs, experiences that ignite your “deep?” Who knows, what awakens your “deep” may also awaken ours. Here’s an idea: if deep really does call to deep, then find that thing that ignites your deep and SHARE it with someone. This is what Steve and I did while running the streets of Laguna on Tuesday morning and this post was the result. Maybe today you ignite a spark in someone that leads them to write a beautiful song, or an article or maybe even the “great American novel.”  Who know what you might unleash by sharing your “deep.”
But, when “deep calls to deep,” beauty is birthed in the world!