Effort Is for Suckers: A Slacker’s Guide to Salvation

Hey it’s me Mark!

Effort or allowance? To get to where we want, do we need to push or sit back and allow ourselves to be pulled? This question, this mindset, can be a powerful way to open up new vistas for us creatively and spiritually.

Follow Your Curiosity

It can be tempting for artists to claim that their work comes from within them. We’re humans. We’re proud. If something wonderful and beautiful comes out of you, who wouldn’t consider nonchalantly passing it off as their own?

But, what I’m asking you to do is resist this urge. Continue reading

The Gift of Gibberish

Hey, it’s me Mark!

Dr. Albert Mehrabian tells us that 93% of all communication is nonverbal. How about that? Pretty impressive huh? And he’s a doctor! So…this is a pretty big deal.

Our lives frequently involve us beating our heads against the wall trying to communicate with other people. We try to talk to our spouse more clearly. We try to understand our kids and have them understand us. We try to write really clear emails to our coworkers that don’t overuse exclamation points, but at the same time lack the ominous seriousness connoted by ending sentences with periods.

Dear boss...friendman...Hello there! I need, er, want, to meet you in the conference room! For business. All the best in your life, Workerguy

Dear boss…friendman…Hello there! I need, er, want, to meet you in the conference room! For business. All the best in your life, Workerguy

Communication is important, and it is difficult.


Certain short-form improv games require us to speak in gibberish. My favorite is 5 Things. In this game, one person is sent out of the room, and clues are gathered. Then they come back in the room and the other people on their team get them to guess the clues without using English; they can only speak in gibberish.

We usually succeed. Most people think we’re cheating somehow.

We aren’t.

Success comes because we have practiced communicating nonverbally. It’s just a skill, like any other. That means that you can become better at it too if you practice.

The truth is, having the possibility of speech removed actually frees us up to use all the other means of communication available to us. Suddenly, we discover that we can become a surfer by merely changing our posture. We can become young Michael Jackson by singing a few bars of gibberish to the melody of “ABC.” We can do all sorts of things, without ever resorting to language.

Gibberish helps us to make better use of the other avenues of communication available to us.

Praying in Tongues

People don’t often think of conservative Catholics praying in tongues. But I do.

Why? Because it helps me pray.

I’m a pretty verbal guy. I like to talk. I like to write. It’s important to me to get the words right in either medium. So when I pray, I often get hung up on the words. I want to be eloquent. I want to be original. I want to say something stirring or evocative or insightful. Then I get self-conscious about this.

It derails my prayer life a lot.

Praying in tongues frees me from all of this. Instead of trying to find the perfect words to praise God, or thank God or petition God, I babble gibberish and trust that God knows my heart well enough to know what I’m saying.

Without words, I find it easier to focus on my heart. Instead of composing a list of the things I’m grateful for, I just reflect on being grateful. We use words to convey to others how we feel.

When the Other already knows how we feel, words become extraneous. Praying in tongues frees us from the obligation of attempting to express the inexpressible.

It was St. Therese who said, “For me, prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned towards heaven; it is a cry of recognition and love; embracing both trial and joy.

Next time you pray, try some gibberish, or some tongues. Let me know how it works out.


Image: Pixabay

Changing Your Worldview

Hey, it’s me Mark.

I get that a lot of what I talk about on here can get pretty zen. But that’s because what I’m talking about isn’t practical. We’re not talking about specifics. This is about a worldview, it’s a way of approaching life.

I like to listen to Dave Ramsey, he’s a financial expert who is obsessed with getting people out of debt. He makes a great point about getting out of debt. You won’t get out of debt until you change the way you think about money. It’s not as simple as “do this, don’t do that.” It’s about changing your relationship to money.

Because at its heart, it’s about respecting money. You need to learn to respect money before you’ll treat it well.


The reason I encourage people to practice improv is because it will change their worldview. For me, it shifted the way I think about relationships and the way I approach my own creativity.

It has affected the way I see a lot of other things as well: work, failure, vulnerability, prayer.

You should take improv because it will change your relationship to the world.


Catholicism is a worldview. It’s not just a series of rules. It’s not just a story. It’s a deeper understanding of what the world is and who I am within it.

Catholicism is about stepping back. How did the world begin? Where did life come from? Why are we here? These are big questions; too big to be examined from so close.

“Life comes at you pretty fast, if you don’t stop and look around every once in a while, you just might miss it.” Ferris Bueller

We all want to improve. You can either do this by trying to change the individual choices you make, or you can change the way you see the world. The more you respect the world, the better your choices will be.


Improvising gives you a catholic worldview.

Take a step back.


NOTE: Life’s a little crazy right now, so I’m trying a shorter format for the next few months. Hit the subscribe button to make sure you don’t miss any posts. Thanks for reading!

Image: Pixabay