Before (well, after removing most of the other stuff that was in there):
My wife planted some lettuce in there, which is already starting to come up! She's going to plant marigolds along the perimeter, as we know it's the pit stop for the neighborhood dogs; don't want anything we'll eat too close to that sidewalk!
I also finally got the opportunity to start restoring the 1950's Craftsman table saw I bought last year. I have a running post at Old Woodworking Machines where I'm documenting my progress. It's a fantastic forum if you have any old, well, woodworking machines. Check out the post for lots of pictures. I'm hoping my final result will look something like this, which is probably my favorite restoration from the gallery of saws like mine.
Getting to the point. I realized a couple weeks ago that my compulsion of sorts for reading and thinking about god, arguments for and against him, and so forth just kind of stopped. Once I realized this, there was a sense that I could pick it right back up if I wanted to, but I kind of wondered what the point would be. Pushing almost 2.33 years of heavy investment in this area has been fairly fruitless, aside from the initial deconversion. Since then, all I've done is worry that I haven't done enough research to be justified in non-belief.
At present, I can only conclude that there's nothing wrong with me that I don't have whatever evidence it would take for me to believe in some form of god. When reliable, objective, universally available evidence exists, truth converges on it. We're no longer debating the shape of the earth. We are in a state that allows religions to coexist side by side for hundreds of years without one conclusively demonstrating that its god is actually real while the others are just imaginary. This is a pretty big state of affairs to ignore should one feel confident that the weight of evidence required to sway the world is there.
Also, I've recently contemplated what it matters anyway. If there's a god, and a compassionate one, he'll care about the state of my heart, how hard I've tried, how I've treated others, and all that jazz. Thus, my state as a human being matters the most, whether I'm a theist or an atheist. And lately, frankly, I've had a renewed desire to be a better human being. I'm not sure what did it, but Quantified Self had a least something to do with it. I haven't decided what I'll do quite yet, but I'll be tracking some things in the near future in an attempt to improve myself.
I've also managed to not snooze for three days which, for those who know me, is a pretty monstrous accomplishment. I've been reading study snippets from Barking Up the Wrong Tree and it's striking how much we control our longevity, health, and overall state/happiness/mind frame. I'm always on the run and feeling rushed. Then I get upset at myself because I'm embarrassed I'm late or worried my wife will be upset because I left work and showed up late for dinner again, which also reduces the little time I have with my kids again. Negativity brews. I'm hoping that a better start to my day can help prevent the initial momentum of rushed-ness and stress, which in turns helps me be kinder toward others.
On that note, I've picked up individual counseling again and had a couple sessions with 2-3 more on the schedule. They've been quite helpful. I think this has also contributed toward my desire to remedy some deficiency (which is good, as I should be doing some of that per my blog tag line, after all). When I'm down on myself, I tend to be unpleasant toward others, which is never good. It's funny (or not) how that works. Disappointment in myself seems to lead me to be hypersensitive toward the flaws in others, perhaps to boost my own ego and self-image (though falsely).
In any case, I just wanted to drop a line. I'm still alive and well. There's a lot of thought and reflection going on in this head. I'm not sure what direction I'll take with the blog. I've contemplated merging all of my "god stuff" into some master PDF and having that as a single link. I'm just not sure I want it to be so self-defining anymore. I'd like to shift my focus toward more practical current interests: quantified self, reflections, self-improvement, R/statistics/programming, and hobbies.
I'll end with a quote from the Tao Te Ching I recently started using as a source for some morning reflection time:
When people see some things as beautiful,
other things become ugly.
When people see some things as good,
other things become bad.
This was really striking to me, and returns to how much we control our own state. My identification of some hypothetical self or state of affairs as better/good forces me into seeing my real self and current state as ugly/bad. No good! May I always see where I am simply as where I am.