Author: Gabe

Gatekeepers

You can’t be a _____ if…

Fill in the blank. I’m sure there is something that you’ve done or tried to do where someone has said something like this to you. Try to hold you back from doing or being that thing because you didn’t fit their idea of what it was supposed to be.

These are called gatekeepers. A gatekeeper is a person you guards access to something. Funny thing, essentially the word has not changed over thousands of years. Before modern times though, gatekeepers literally guarded gates. Now, the gates are metaphorical.

You’re not good enough to do this. You’re not smart enough to be part of this group. You don’t look the part. You don’t speak the part.

You don’t do this thing exactly the way I think it’s supposed to work, so you aren’t allowed to do or associate yourself with said thing.

There are some things where “gatekeepers” are a good thing. School, sports teams, certain jobs. Yes, there are a few things where only qualified people should be allowed. But those aren’t the gatekeepers who guard the tightest.

Hobbist gatekeepers, recreational gatekeepers, identity gatekeepers. Those are the ones who are the most strict.

You aren’t the life-long, ‘oppressed’ nerd so you’re not allowed to enjoy board, card, or tabletop games. You can’t quote a movie word for word, so you’re not allowed to call yourself a fan of a movie franchise. You have too many of this one thing, so you can’t possibly be a minimalist.

Once you tell people who you are, they will tell you who you are not.

Don’t let them.

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Phariseeism

“Phariseeism is born when we think it is okay to reject people to protect ideas” – Bill Johnson

This is such a profound quote. I remind myself of it often so that I remember that people are what Jesus cared about.

Jesus didn’t reject people… he embraced them, no matter what they did. Yes he corrected sin, but never rejected the sinner. Yet, christians can be the worst when it comes to accepting people. For some reason we look for disqualifiers, we look for a reason not to accept others.

Maybe it’s because we would rather be comfortable. Maybe it’s because these “disqualifers” truly repels us. Maybe it’s because we’re afraid our imperfections will come to light if we accept them.

Whatever reason it may be, it’s wrong. In John 4 Jesus meets a Samaritan woman who has been divorced multiple times and talked to her (which most Jewish men at the time would have never done). In John 8 Jesus defends a woman caught in adultery, someone (who even according to his teachings and beliefs) had sinned.

There are many other stories, but these two jumped out in my mind as perfect examples of Jesus loving and accepting person despite what idea cast them out. Jesus WAS an idealist, he had big ideas that even his disciples fought to protect, but Jesus never protected an idea at the expense of a person.

I’m not saying Jesus never addressed sin. In fact, in both of the stories I pointed out above, Jesus addressed them directly! But he didn’t do it in a way that rejected those women, which is where most of us will fall short.

So let’s set ourselves apart from current culture and how social media is trying to teach us how to treat others. Let’s show the world that people are more important than preferences. The church is made of people, and if we begin to reject people then the church will just be about ideas with no people…

And that’s no church at all.

Anyone can wear the Mask

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On my flight to Europe, I was able to see “Spider-man: Into the Spider-Verse.” A really great movie, I recommend it if you haven’t seen it.

On of the themes of the movie is Miles struggling with whether or not he is worthy to be “spider-man.” He feels he is not as powerful as the other Spider-men, so how can he be worthy to held the mantle of Spider-Man.

But he is reassured that “Anyone can wear the mask.” It’s not about whether you have the power, if you have the heart and to push through the struggle, you can accomplish greatness

In my opinion, Spider-Man is BEST when it is about a teenager not only coming of age but learning what they are capable of.

Without spoilers, my favorite scene is near the end when Miles finally discovers what he is made and that has the will to become great. In that moment, Miles became Spider-Man. Not when he go his “super powers” near the beginning of the movie, but when he discovered the power in himself.

The point of “anyone can wear the mask” isn’t anyone can be Spider-Man, it is that everyone has the power to make a difference, everyone has the power to be great. We just have to discover the power within us.

Found my outlet for telling stories

This is a little off the beaten path. I don’t really talk too much about the nerd stuff in my life except for Star Wars.

I can’t write fiction. I’m not good at using words to make

But what I am good at and what I love is telling stories. I love story telling. Little stories, epic stories of heroism or boldness, stories of character growth. But for the most part, I haven’t been really able to find a way to tell those stories.

So what changed? Learning to play Dungeons and Dragons.

Just in case you don’t know what it is, Dungeons & Dragons, a tabletop Role Playing Game that has been around since the mid 70s, D&D is experiencing a renaissance. With the advent of Twitch (gaming streams) and the switch of YouTube from viral type content to regular programming and how-to type videos, people who have never played can easily learn how to run and play. There are even shows on YouTube and Twitch like Critical Role that air a continuous game every week, now for over three years.

In addition, with the accessibility growing, the perception of D&D has drastically changed from something only for super-nerdy neckbeards who live in their mother’s basement, to something that can be for anyone. And for me, it was the storytelling that hooked me. First as a player, then as a Dungeon Master (the player that “runs” the game each session).

I love the storytelling in RPGs not because I can “finally have my stories be heard,” but because there are anywhere between 4-8 people you are collaboratively telling the story with. When done right, you have each person wanting to tell their character’s own story while getting to roll some dice and kills some mythic monsters (let’s be honest, that’s still one of the best parts of the game).

But D&D has tapped into something that resonates with a lot of people with the role playing aspect of the game. In this game you can play a larger that life version of yourself or play a character completely different from your self. For some it serves great therapy, for some it’s can be like an interactive version of your favorite TV show, and for others it’s a more immersive version of a video game they love. And not only that, they get to do it with a bunch of their friends.

Not long after I started playing, I was drawn to being a DM (the game runner). I loved the idea of created a world that can be a sandbox for others to explore. I loved the idea of facilitating a way to not only tell my stories, but for the others to tell stories too!

Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, Star Wars, everyone loves a good story. A story of struggle, growth, and becoming something that you never knew you could be. Stories with great tragedy, but also stories with great triumph. These are the stories we love to hear, and the types of stories we can tell in Dungeons and Dragons.

Signal to Noise Ratio

I keep the number of people I follow on places like Twitter and Instagram pretty low. Even on Facebook (where I’ll generally add everyone who adds me if I’ve met them) I will mute a lot of people… Sorry.

I do this because there are so many voices on social media now. Voices you agree with, voices you disagree with, voices who have an opinion on everything, voices who have very strong opinions on a few things. Whatever the case, there is so much noise out there, it’s easy for the things that matter and you want to see get smothered.

Signal to Noise ratio is an engineering term that measures “the desired signal to the level of background noise.” Basically, how much background noise do you have to endure to receive the desired signal we want.

This also applies to social media. How many posts do you scroll through each day that you actually find useful? How many opinionated rants do you have to see?

There is good stuff on social media. In fact, there is great stuff. But the problem is, many of us also have a fear of missing out so we follow everything and everyone so that we might not miss those trending things. But our pursuit of making sure we don’t miss out on anything, we end up missing out on the posts that actually add value to our lives.

So pare down your followers, stop worrying about having to see everything. You’ll quickly scroll through all of it anyways and you’ll still need to be told what is trending.

But when you start consuming the content you want to see, the content that you enjoy consuming, all of a sudden you’ll have a different experience (not just with social media, but with the world as well).

If we cut out as much of the background noise as we can, all of a sudden the signal comes through stronger and more frequently.

Get better by doing!

Many people want to be better at something. Or they want to learn a new skill or diversify their activities. But sometimes they don’t know how to get better, or even how to learn to get better.

Maybe, they see their favorite YouTuber’s newest video and wish they could be as good as them so they can make their own YouTube videos.

Perhaps, there is a person they look up to, that has a position or does a job they wish they could one day have, but feel like their skills are so poor compared to them they could never do it.

I have one piece of advice – Go out there and do it!

Seriously, just start doing it!! We think we need to be experts or highly skilled in order to begin, but that’s not true at all. Go out there and just start doing what you want to do. Yes you might be awful, yes you might look back and be embarrassed, but every time you do it you’ll learn something.

In the Order of the Phoenix when Harry was secretly teaching fellow students how to defend themselves, he told them one very profound thing that we all need to remember, “Every great wizard in history has started out as nothing more than we are now. Students. If they can do it, why not us?”

If you want to be great, do it, learn from your mistakes, keep getting better, and begin growing in confidence in your new skill.

That YouTuber or other hero you want to emulate, they started at some point as beginners just like you are, they just went out there and started doing it.

You should too

Quantity creates Quality

The old saying when talking about work, especially creative work is “Quality over Quantity.” In a sense, focus on creating the best work possible instead of many subpar works.

But that’s not really how it ends up working. Think about it. There are so many industries where people have to create works or produce something on a regular basis. Some as common as monthly, weekly, or even daily. They have to produce something or else nothing goes out and you lose fans or audience.

But many of these people who produce extremely regularly end up producing things that are better quality than if they spent an entire year creating one thing.

Let take TV shows for instance, YOUR favorite TV show even… American mainstream television usually generates anywhere between 10-25 episodes a season. There are some shows that have over 100 episodes, 200 episodes even! Not every single episode is gold. Not every single episode is the best. But from time to time, because they have to produce on a regular basis, they end up creating something that is memorable. They end up producing an episode that is considered one of the best ever.

But that didn’t happen because they spent more and more time to perfect the episode. Many TV shows have a short schedule for each episode. They need to produce the quantity that is required of them.

But in having to produce quantity, they will end up creating quality.

The more you write the better you get, the more pictures you take the better photographer you become, the more you paint the better artist you end up being.

And in creating quantity, your creative “juices” get flowing and all of a sudden you come up with an idea that you never would have if you were stuck on creating that one “quality” work. And who knows, that new idea might be a million times better than the one you have been working on for ages.

So go out there… Create. Produce quantity so that one day you can begin to create quality.