Phlebotomic is a blog experiment that seeks to gather multiple perspectives around a common prompt, which is provided weekly.

Last week's prompt was "Beauty"...

This week's prompt is "Path"...

13 April 2009


24 March 2009

Path - What Led Me to Here

The Way. The Road less traveled. The Highway (information, usually). Parkway, Interstate, County Road, toll, bridge, trail, track, etc, etc, etc. So many ways to express the method of getting from place to place. Yet, do we even really know where we're going? I started college sure of my destination. I was going to be a pre-med major, with a minor in biology and chemistry, and then I planned to attend medical school and become one of the world's foremost physicians. Yet, after barely more than a semester, I realized that I was studying to make others happy, and not myself. So, I had a period of introspection, and thought, "Hey, I am good at arguing and defending a point or position. Law School it is." Paul Reed, Esquire had a nice ring to it. I could defend the rights of the oppressed, defend the Constitution, and help uphold the law. However, after a conversation with my sister and brother-in-law, both attorneys, both cynical and trapped, and also both of whom fervently advised, pleaded, threatened, cajoled me not to stay in the pre-law path. Thankfully, I listened. Seeing where their path has led makes me happy my stubbornness has bounds. But I digress. So, I am now a sophomore in college, taking business classes, because I reasoned that they would be useful regardless of my eventual career. Along the way, I was taking Spanish classes basically just because I liked it (still do, ;)). I was also taking PoliSci classes for my own personal edification (I guess I am extremely stubborn). But, there was something about those language classes. I just couldn't get enough, couldn't stop. I decided to go to Venezuela after graduation to continue with the Spanish. I went, had the trip of a lifetime, and my path was getting clearer. I had unsheathed my metaphorical machete and cleared it up somewhat. So, Spanish. Well, I wanted to continue, and that meant grad school. I had met this beautiful brunette in college, and become rather enamoured. So, where to go, where to go. She was going to Memphis, TN, and that city happened to have a MA program in Romance Languages and Literatures. Beale Street, Elvis, and barbeque (easy Texans, pork bbq, not beef, not brisket, REAL BBQ!!!) beckoned. Two years, lots of Spanish, lots of papers, the addition of Portuguese, the finding of my true calling, Linguistics, and great friends and a church that helped me grow is what I found in the Bluff City.

Fast forward a bit. Here I am, a professor at a great school, in a great city, surrounded by awesome friends. I have a wonderful wife whom I adore, and I have recently been accepted into a doctorate program. God truly blessed my broken road, my path less traveled.

If I would've continued in what I wanted, I would probably be a resident in a program, hating life, lonely, and wondering, "Where did I go wrong?" Yet, God was there with me in those anxious days, nervous about choices I was about to make. He led me where He wanted me, and I thank Him daily for it.

Where is your path? Is it yours, or are you guided by the Creator? Interesting thought............I welcome responses, or other path stories.

Sorry for no picture, I couldn't find one that went with the entire story. Google maps maybe, with the detour function on?

19 March 2009

Path: fighting our way, stumbling along, trying to find the right one

There is this intrinsic sense of destiny within us. We grow up just knowing that there must be a way, a path, a secret means of achieving...something. Much of our life and energy is spent spinning wheels to find it, hurrying to achieve a prominent place along it, and get to...somewhere. Those with faith and those without faith moorings desire to find this mysterious path to destiny.

There just seems to be no formula for consistently succeeding at this drive. There are too many path-finding dynamics to juggle. Is it 1 path or are their optional trails along a larger path system? Do you cut your own path or stumble into it? Is it a good but not best or right path? Is "the" path permanent? Does leaving a path mean it was the wrong one? Who chooses? Does the path find you, do you scurry around the woods until you find something looking remotely like a path? Are signs good?
It would be easier if it was a flip-a-coin type of impasse between 2 roads, but too often I've faced "forks" with 10 prongs...8 of which look really good. That's just cruel. Then, I've exited pleasant paths for foggy side trails only to discover I inadvertently avoided destruction.
What makes it a good path? How do you find this path? What path are you looking for? What path are you walking on and how did you choose it? Does it have an expiration point or discernible destination?

17 March 2009

Path: The Road Not Taken

The Road Not Taken

"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."

-Robert Frost, 1920

i first heard this robert frost poem years ago...back before i had a clue of who i was or what was to come of me...but even then, i felt like it was saying something to me. and i think for years, i took the popular path...and it led me nowhere. (not that i didn't try the same path over and over again.) then, something changed. i realized that the path i was on led to nowhere. i stopped believing that i could do things all on my own.

this has become even more apparent to me over the past couple days. thanks to an ongoing medical condition of someone very dear and close to me, i've been reminded that my path doesn't end with me. in fact, it's not even my path. so often we think that we reach a summit, and that's it...we've arrived at where we need to be. but in reality, it's only a small peak on the side of that endless mountain. that path didn't start with me, and i'm not alone on it. it's simply a continuation from so many people that shared their lives and stories, that molded and formed who i currently am and who i am to become. they're on that path with me...and from that, i'll be one of many that will hopefully influence others in a great way, in order to keep adding numbers, and to keep that path heading upward.

so, in a sense, the one less traveled leads to nowhere. i'm sharing the same path with so many other people, and that has indeed made all the difference.

"trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight." -Proverbs 3:5-6

thanks kyle

love you dad

13 March 2009

Beauty: Sex, Lies and Photoshop (Bonus Links)

i know i've already written my blog for the week, but i keep stumbling upon online articles, advertisements and videos that seem to dwell back to what our cultures view of beauty seems to be.

for example, click this link for an online article from displaying the amount of photoshop enhancements that take place in hollywood in regards to actors & actresses, and their appearance on screen.

or click here to see an ad ran in the san antonio express news for an upcoming makeover event in dallas, fittingly entitled 'beauty live'

also, click here to see a video from the new york times documenting the amount of 'touch-up' that goes into practically every photograph that we see in magazines and on billboards, and the effects it can have on an individuals self esteem.

it's no wonder we live in a culture obsessed with outward appearance, and with very few people actually satisfied with what they look like. when the people we're trying to emulate don't even look in real life how we see them in photographs and movies, what chance do we have?

12 March 2009

Beauty: A Ray of Compassion

I love the ABC series "What Would you Do?", partially because it does quasi-experiments that psychologists can't do anymore, and because it inevitably moves me each time I watch a scenario where someone breaks the social norms that often prevent us from helping one another. I love seeing someone standing up and committing an act of kindness amidst the social pressures not to stick your neck out. 

A recent episode revealed an actor portraying a man who is collapsed on a crowded sidewalk. The cameras roll to see how long it takes for people to help him or call for help. I saw beauty in Linda who helped the man (who was holding a beer can) while others strolled by in apathy or contempt. Click the link below and watch the last 4:30 to see the beauty. 

What Would you Do? video clip

Beauty: elusively abundant refractions of glory

Pulchritude. Pleasing. Positively stimulating. Lovely. Delightful. Sensational ecstasy from mere exposure. Terrifying delight. Tsunami's of the senses. Spectres of a hidden Glory.

The object is subjectively determined as qualified or unqualified to evoke these universal sentiments within the human heart...often swelling to the point of causing a pain in the breast that is nearly unbearable.

Some have said we are created as hedonists, with much of life being a battle for the object of fulfillment. Self, sex, substances, success, simulated realities, sensational highs and a myriad of things compete for stage time. The ugly composite of things we allow to possess our hedonistic heart greatly shape the sources of experiences we associated with beauty. Yet, beauty cries out to something cosmically timeless, intrinsically ethereal, a vapor that in one sense is touchless and in another so weighty that it threatens to destroy us if fully experienced.

What things awaken you to the core of your being like an ancient echo in your ear?

What objects stir you to secretly want to abandon all pursuits and

What moments represent a bouquet of overwhelming beauty scents permanently embedded within your memory?

What makes up your hedonistic buffet line - because you are a hedonist...the question is what is supplying satisfaction to your engine of desire!

11 March 2009

Beauty: One Step Closer

beauty is a feeling, an emotion
when all is as it seems, as it should be
when competing forces are at peace
when breaths are caught, when shoulders are relaxed

beauty is a tingling sensation, the goose bumps
a moment to be captured, stored in your memory
a thought not soon to be forgotten
an image of heart, a counterpart of love

beauty is all around, constantly overlooked
it lives on city highways, it’s found in suburban shopping malls
it’s one step closer to reality
what we all possess, what keeps us going

09 March 2009

Beauty: Sounds in my life

I feel like Beauty gets pigeonholed into a very tight definition. Vision becomes the principal vehicle for beauty and other senses get pushed out. I love a sunset just as much as the next guy, but there have been some that were a 4 of 5 on the sense meter. The early fall warm breeze and cicada chorus, with the smell of burning leaves and the most luminous color pallet available. The beauty could be the cool sheets and the warmth of your lover, or the taste of that regional favorite that has been out of reach for so long.

I am a sucker for beauty. My poison of choice is sound. Don't get me wrong, it's not just the vibrations my ears pick up, but the message of the words and the mixing of the tones. There are a few people who can convey more with a few notes than others will in an album. I can only hope that sharing a few of these with you could bring a little joy to your lives.

The Swell Season
Martin Sexton
The Avett Brothers
Paper Route
Bon Iver
David Bazan
Josh Ritter

Beauty: As defined by...

Beauty is relative to the eye...

To some it is a vehicle, to others some it is detail, to another, grandiose...and so on...

Mostly, beauty speaks to the creator...insert small or large "c" here...

Maybe it is just an over sensitive emotional fibre hidden within the "f" of my Myers Briggs profile...but I find it dangerous to judge beauty, and inviting to appreciate more widely...

I also have found that what appears beautiful at first, can be full of else...

So...nothing new here...maybe just a reminder...or a nudge...

Do not Pass Go, Do not Collect $200 - The Language Game

Sorry for the delay in this post

As most of you know, I am a linguist. (yes, I speak several languages, but that is not all a linguist does, I also study language scientifically). One of the seminal moments in my life, in this regard, was a book entitled, "Word Play," by author Peter Farb. It is a book about language, and about how it is like a game, both metaphorically and literally. We, the speakers, are the players, and we subconsciously and sometimes consciously know the rules of our "game." We "play" and the other players "play." This book opened up language, and its study, in a manner that changed my whole perspective.

Thinking of language as a game is an interesting idea. Like Monopoly, certain people add their own twists to the "rules." In my house, we put $500 in the middle, and also from payments of Community Chest and Chance cards. The income tax space funds went there too. To get the cash, all you had to do was land on Free Parking. When I would play at a friend's house, they would always look at me crazily and say,"That's not in the rules!!"

Language is the same way. People hear an accent, or a dialect (variation, NOT SUBSTANDARD), and they want to say, "That's not in the rules!!" Yet, the goal is the same, and we understand what is said, and we understand it completely. So, is it against the rules? If someone says, "I ain't got none." Are they breaking the rules? Do we understand? Do we judge?

I'll show that they are not. In English, we are a SVO language. That means the subject goes first, followed by the verb, and the the object comes last. So, in our sentence, "I" is the subject, and our verb (in this case a verb with a negative marker) is next. Finally, the direct object, that which receives the direct action of the verb, is last. A completely grammatical sentence by the constitutive rules of English.

Wait, you are probably thinking. What about double negatives? What about the word "ain't?" Aren't they wrong?!?!?!? The answer, NO!!!!!!! Shakespeare used both, and we hold him as the pinnacle of English. First off, the idea that double negation is actually positive is ludicrous. Language isn't math (by the way, Bishop Robert Lowth, a mathematician, came up with that rule in the 18th century, and it stuck because of the desire for maintaining social class distinctions) . Many languages use double negation as the standard. Are they not logical? French, Spanish, and hundreds more use such formations as standard, so unless billions of speakers are totally illogical in their speech, that argument falls flat. "Ain't" is a holdover from an older term for negation, so that argument falls too.

Dang, and all those English papers with red ink, and all those arguments with English teachers (I welcome all arguments from the other side).............