Latest entries

I hate the intense pain, but I don’t know how to live without longing

by David McElroy

Imagine living in a world where everybody sees black and white and shades of gray — and you realize that you’re different from everyone else, because you see the world in vivid colors instead.

The experience of color is amazing, but how frustrating would it be if you couldn’t explain to others what you saw? What if others didn’t understand, because they had no frame of reference? How painful would it be to want to share that experience of color — but you couldn’t share it with anyone? How lonely would that be?

For much of my early life, I assumed everyone experienced emotions in the same intense ways that I do. When I discovered otherwise, I was confused and struggled to explain how my interior experience of painful emotion works. I’ve almost given up, because so few are even interested.

I was reminded of this again tonight because of what I felt during a movie. It was just a run-of-the-mill romantic comedy, so it’s not something most people would have seen as intensely emotional, but interaction between two characters struck me in that oddly intense way. Two characters each experienced painful longing for the other, even though they couldn’t be together.

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We’re all masters of denial when facing painful truths in our lives

by David McElroy

I’m a master of denial. For one reason or another, I’ve become accustomed to disappointments over the last decade or so. Maybe longer. Denial has become my way of dealing with things I didn’t think I could control.

I was reminded of that again Friday evening when I unintentionally recorded some video of myself from the side. My MacBook was recording and Lucy wanted to jump into my lap for attention. I turned to let her jump up while she happily licked my face. I thought the video of her might be cute. But then I looked at it.

I know I need to shed some weight right now, but I walk around in denial about it most of the time. I’m about 25 pounds less than the worst I’d let myself get — maybe 35 pounds now that I think about it — but I still need to get rid of about 80 pounds of excess fat.

When I looked at that video of Lucy and me, every one of those 80 pounds seemed to be visible — and every one of them seemed to be taunting me.

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Maybe it’s easier to do hard things when nobody says they’re difficult

by David McElroy

Andrew was enthusiastic when he heard I’d made my first video using footage from a drone, so he wanted to watch it. After seeing the three-and-a-half-minute video, he was gushing about how cool it was. But he wanted to know how to make such a video himself.

“How do you do it?” he asked. “Do they just have a button and it flies around and decides what to shoot for itself? Is that music just added automatically?”

The questions were shockingly ignorant. I was offended. Just a little. He thought I just pushed a button? He thought the drone did the work? He didn’t think I struggled to make this? He thought it was easy?

Let me back up.

About six months ago, the real estate company where I work bought a drone for me to learn to use. It seemed as though it would be fun and we could use it for high-end property listings. I fooled around with it for a few weeks, but then I got busy doing other things. I hadn’t touched it for four months.

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Money can’t buy happiness, but poverty can make you miserable

by David McElroy

Nothing about this couple suggests affluence. His arms are covered with tattoos. They both appear shabbily dressed. Their speech doesn’t suggest much education. The car in which they arrived isn’t very new or impressive.

But as I watch them interact with each other and their son — who’s about 2 years old — I’m struck by how happy they seem to be as they eat together in this restaurant.

They both interact tenderly and lovingly with their son. When the man gets up to get a drink refill, he pauses to kiss the woman on the forehead — and she smiles in love.

I can’t know how much money they make, of course, but everything in my experience with such people suggests it wouldn’t be much. I’d be surprised if they made more than $40,000 combined. Maybe $50,000. I’m just guessing, of course.

But I’m thinking about this because of an article that NPR published today lamenting how difficult it can be to have enough money if you make $100,000 or more a year. It details the horrors of four individuals or families struggling with incomes of $100,000 or more.

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If there’s something you must do, income and vocation might clash

by David McElroy

It was an odd feeling Friday to meet a couple at a house that’s for sale — and to be the “expert” to help guide them through their process of evaluating whether to make an offer on it.

Even though I’ve worked for a real estate company — in one capacity or another — for a couple of years now, it was my first time to be the licensed agent showing the house and hoping to write an offer. Everything went well and I’m showing them another house Saturday. I hope I can help them find what they’re looking for.

To be honest, I know I can do this job well. I’ve worked extensively with the ins and outs of contracts and negotiation and managing the closing process for more than a year now. Nothing about it is intimidating to me.

I also know I can make a lot of money doing this job. If I average closing just two houses a month, I should be able to bring in more than $100,000 in 2018. I haven’t made anything close to that kind of money since I got out of politics. I’ve gone through such a dark period that the money sounds really good. This is a business in which I can become wealthy after a few years if I choose to.

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Why do we allow fear to make us hold onto things we should let go?

by David McElroy

I don’t know what I expected to find by coming here tonight.

For days now, I’ve been haunted by an unexpected image from the past — a moment, a night, an argument, a year — and I’ve come looking for it. I really don’t know why.

This was the place, but it was a time long ago. I’m on the campus of Samford University in Birmingham. We sat in my old red Volkswagen in this parking lot and talked about our relationship — our past and whether we had a future.

She was my first serious girlfriend. We dated for three years while we were in college, mostly in Tuscaloosa when we were both students at the University of Alabama. The first year and a half were very happy. We got engaged and happily planned a future together, but something happened.

I realized she wasn’t the right woman for me and this made her very confused. I don’t blame her, because I didn’t make much sense. As I pulled away from her, she tried harder and harder to pull me closer.

By the time we sat in my car that night, we were both miserable.

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No matter who you are or what you’ve done, time is your enemy

by David McElroy

When I first started picking up bits and pieces of their conversation, I thought the elderly man and woman were talking about Christmas parties.

“Martha’s is at 4 but it’s in Cullman,” the woman said. “That wouldn’t give us much time to get back for John’s at 6.”

“I know,” her husband said. “We’ll just have to leave early at Martha’s and maybe be a little late for John. Neither one of them will hold it against us.”

Then I realized they weren’t talking about social plans. They were talking about funerals.

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In a cold and disconnected world,
it’s very simple to fake happiness

by David McElroy

“You’ve certainly been happy,” the woman said. “I can always count on you to cheer me up. You seem like you haven’t got a care in the world.”

I wasn’t sure I’d heard her correctly. I was in the middle of a conversation with someone who I see a couple of times a week. She’s bright and mature enough — at least 50 years old — to have experienced a lot of life. She’s no dummy. As a restaurant owner, she deals with people constantly — and she knows me pretty well from our frequent conversations.

We had been talking about how it’s easy to tell how unhappy some people are. She chose me as the counter-example to make her point. She said I always seem especially happy.

“What makes you think you know me?!” I wanted to scream.

It was an oddly alienating moment for me Friday night when this happened. Instead of lashing out, I just asked why she thought what she did. Then I briefly told her I’m actually quite miserable lately.

She thought I was kidding, so I dropped it.

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Autumn color has finally arrived,
so here’s a video for Thanksgiving

by David McElroy

Autumn color was very late to arrive in Birmingham this year, but it’s starting to look beautiful in some places. We still have a lot of trees that are mostly green, but some are gorgeous shades of reds, golds and yellows.

On my way back to the office Wednesday afternoon, I stopped to take a few photos and a video to share with you. I wish you were here to see the beauty for yourself, but this is the best I can do.

The photo above and the video below were both taken along Alabama 150 near I-459 in the Hoover area of Birmingham.

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What good is another’s secret crush
if a heart isn’t ready to accept love?

by David McElroy

Thanksgiving has taken on an entirely different meaning for me lately. Three years ago, I was in the midst of intense love — something I thought was going to last for a lifetime. And then it was over in a flash, leaving me bewildered and hurt.

Each time Thanksgiving week rolls around now, it brings a bittersweet swirl of intense feelings — a remembrance of sweet love mixed with the bitter pain of loss. I’m not sure which feeling is stronger, but every bit of it is powerfully intense.

I was lost in my thoughts as I left the office for lunch today. Since it’s two days before Thanksgiving, few people are on campus, so the lobby was empty and silent as I walked through.

As I was about to step out of the building, I realized someone else was approaching from the other side of the lobby, so I absent-mindedly held the door as this woman approached. Then I noticed it was someone I hadn’t seen lately.

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Start over here

When this site launched in 2011, it was intended as a way to find others who were sick of partisan politics and wanted to connect with like-minded people who were ready to go beyond politics and find ways of escaping. It has shifted focus in ways that reflect my own shifting thinking. I’m less interested in politics and more interested in looking at the things that make life worth living, such as love, creation, self-understanding and connecting with others. Every article I have posted since 2011 is still in my archives, but everything I write is a reflection of my current thinking. Sometimes I’m wrong — and that’s fine with me — and I don’t always end up agreeing with what I wrote five years ago. For now, you can still read what I wrote about the site’s purpose in 2011, but I should rewrite this. Read more.

Contact David

David likes email, but can’t reply to every message. I get a surprisingly large number of requests for relationship advice — seriously — but I rarely have the time to respond. (Sorry.) Besides, with my own romantic track record, maybe my advice isn’t worth taking. I’d like to find a wife one of these days, so maybe I should add an “application.”

Watch this short film

What kind of "educational film" would the U.S. government release today to teach Americans how to be good citizens?
We're the Government — and You're Not
Official selection of 20 film festivals
Winner of several random awards
Plus a boatload of views on YouTube
(Yeah, I was surprised, too)
Drop David a note if you want to write a check to make more of these amazing masterpieces.
Yes, seriously.


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