I transferred photos the other day, to a big external hard drive… LOTS of photos.

I spent around 2 hours on Tuesday morning, watching the progress bar on my monitor, barely move. But it started first because I wanted to clear out my DSLR camera’s memory cards before Thanksgiving. That didn’t take much time at all. I had summer vacation pictures and baby pictures, but only a couple hundred.

So then I moved on to my Dropbox account where my phone uploads pictures I take. I moved a couple thousand snapshots to my computer. Then I cleared that online cloud storage folder.

After that I tackled the telephone – only another 4500 pictures needed to be copied from it. That is when the progress slowed waaay down.

An hour later, I had everything transferred and cleaned up. WOW, it appears that I take a LOT of pictures.

What are they really though? These digital images? Why do I spend a bunch of time saving them or trying to back them up?

Physically, they almost don’t exist. I have no idea how my computer’s drive saves them. I know how to retrieve them and edit or print. But, physically I am not aware of how they work. I do know that each of the pictures on my phone are at least a couple megabytes each in size. I know that they are each a rectangle shaped jumble of multicolored pixels.

Physically then, it is true that each picture on my phone is exactly like every other one. The image may lend itself to be more zeros than ones, in the binary format, based on how light or dark it is. But looking at each pictures actual ‘physical’ code, doesn’t tell us much of anything about them.

Physically, at the structural level, they aren’t much use to us.

Ahh, so there must be more reason for me to spend two hours saving them then…

Of course. The photos on my phone or yours are not merely the sum of their digital code.

The content of the picture, the still image, the frozen captured snapshot of a real-life moment is what could be important to us. Important enough to save.

I have lots of them that are worth it. I have pictures of my wife and my nephews, of the funny staff of our restaurant, and of course, my baby too. I have LOTS of pictures of my baby!

Thousands of them, and physically they are worthless, but spiritually they are like refreshing sips of a life altering elixir. The spirit awakens and dances within when we look at a picture of our family, of places we visited, of our children. The value of a photograph is individual and special and exciting to see, when you connect to it in a personal way.

I have lots of photos that I saved that are just documents. Maybe it is a part number of a piece of equipment, or contact information, or a blank screen from an accidental shot. Physically, they are the same as all the others. Spiritually, they don’t connect.

There is a physical size to things. The world shows us the mass and the size and the contour and cost of each ‘thing’ in our lives. The divine shows us the beauty, the comedy the nostalgia and history. These things cannot be captured in a physical sense.

The spiritual is everywhere, it is just as important as the physical world we inhabit.

On Thanksgiving week, a meal of food is served and we are filled-up, just like every other week. The company though, the blessing of togetherness and a warm-hearted family gathering is fulfilling, it is spiritual satisfaction and a moment of immeasurable joy.

At least ours was.

I hope yours was too 🙂


Aaron Nichols

Go on – Brush your shoulders off!

I remember the birthing process vividly! Well, I at least remember the birth of our daughter very clearly, it was only 3 and a half months ago. My own birth? Well, that one is a little fuzzy.

I was absolutely astounded with the entire thing. I won’t go through all the details here. You other parents know what I am talking about, it is AMAZING! But, one thing in particular has stood out to me from the moment I found out about it.

Every naturally born baby has to dance its way down the birth canal. Well maybe not the Macarena, but it does not just simply swoosh down the slide like a day at the park! I was told before our daughter came along that she would have to work her way toward the outside world one shoulder at a time…

Huh? One shoulder at a time? Yes, it is a fact that the design of the system is such that the widest part of our baby bodies cannot fit without a lot of flexibility and a spiraling turning motion. The baby usually starts face-up and has to spin, one shoulder at time to a face-down position to work it’s way to freedom.

As for me? I personally didn’t figure that part out, and was born cesarean with a nice little nick to my forearm that is still scarred up today. Ha! (Remember that part in a minute.)

Our baby girl found her way to us at 7:00 on a sunny summer Sunday morning. She did the spin-turn dance and we were elated to meet her.

Now she is trying to learn to spin again. Actually, it’s the movement of rolling over, that she is practicing. I have not seen her complete the roll as of yet. I did record 8 minutes of phone video the other night, just sure that I would capture her first real rotation.

We were told that the baby-sitter has seen her do it both ways several times… Grrr… she must be aware that her Daddy isn’t really ready for her to be mobile yet, and is kindly holding off for the moment, for me. (Ha!)

Again it’s her shoulders that are stopping her. Again it is a one-shoulder-at-a-time twisting motion that she will soon learn. I can see her trying to spin. Laying down facing the ceiling she throws her head waaay back. She leans over, very far to the side. Her bottom and legs will keep rotating around. They will end up all the way flat faced down.

It is the arm and shoulder that is the hang-up. At the beginning of the spin, it helps steady her, but eventually she’ll have to learn to tuck it down, so it’s out of the way. Or she will reach out above her head, where it won’t stop the progress.

From even before we are born, we have to practice a shifting of our shoulders.

So what! Big deal. It’s not earth shattering, right?!?!

Well, I think that it’s true that. “How some things work, is how all things work.”

Our shoulders do what? If you have to move through your own life, what do you physically use your shoulders for?

I tend to think of our shoulders as the place where we carry our heavy loads. When I buy a 40lb sack of Roxy’s food at Seven Cedars Purina Feed Store in Princeton, KS, I throw it up onto my shoulder to haul it out to the car. When we go hiking on a trail in the mountains of Colorado, or the woods of Arkansas or the Ozarks of Missouri, I hang my snacks, water and camera in a backpack strapped to my shoulders.

The shoulders are our sturdy foundation that we rely on to help us lug around our extra cargo, our stuff. I am carting things on my shoulders all the time. They are not always physical objects though.

Sure, just like a lot of people, I tend to bear a burden and walk heavy with unhealthy loads of emotional cargo. I might hold onto grudges, or keep a knapsack of future fear and worry. I probably pack a great tinderbox of frustrations ready to ignite, when I perceive the circumstances require my irrational angers!

It’s a wonder I can walk around at all, with the mile high pile of junk I rest on my own shoulders all the time. I am sure, this is the reason I get quite stuck from time to time. I can become lodged into tight immovable moments, between proverbial rocks and imaginative hard places. It’s the load I keep locked onto my shoulders that wedges me in…

God is showing me through my adorable daughter, that the grand design is for us to become flexible. The way out of a tight spot, to get unstuck, is to shift and turn and spin. I have to deeply drop my shoulder down. So deep that everything hanging from it, will fall off. I have reach high with the other, so high, that the baggage will have to be let go. I have to reach high without extra weight, straining and restricting that movement.

I have to be born again, each time I want freedom from the stalled and gridlocked moments of my life. If I want to learn to roll, just like my infant wants to roll, I must learn the same motions she is learning.

I wasn’t born in the natural way. I didn’t learn then, the flexibility I needed. I don’t know if I ever have. It must be a lesson that I’m saving for ‘someday’ to get it right. It’s okay to let go of the mountain of miscellaneous misgivings and mistakes and memories that don’t serve me well anymore. That is the only way we are allowed forward on this journey. We gotta go on and brush our shoulders off…

Only then, we can see what new worlds, possibilities and exciting moments of love await us.

Until next week, take care.

With Love


Aaron Nichols

Is WORK the only thing that matters?

Do you know how the world works? I’d like to know if your answer is yes, how you found out? Did you learn how the world works all through your own experiences? Did someone teach you? Did you buy a book, watch a film, or rub a magic lamp and ask the genie to tell you how the world works?

Do you care about this question at all? I would guess that we all have wondered how the world works, in relation at least to the ways which we interact with it, on a regular basis. We want to know what to expect from the world around us. We don’t want constant surprises hitting us left and right.

Recently I have been listening to Rabbi Daniel Lapin on his weekly podcast. The main purpose he expresses at the beginning and throughout each episode, is his desire to share with the audience “How the World RRRREEEAAAAAAALLLLYYYYYY Works!” His enthusiasm is electric when it comes to his life’s mission and purpose!

The entirety of his show is devoted to covering general and universal topics like relationships, business, politics and even parenting. He uses modern examples, but steps back and digs down to the very core of the driving force behind all these human experiences. He doesn’t give much for opinion. In fact, his teaching comes from Ancient Jewish Widsom. The Torah itself is the instructor and it reveals over and over again, the counter-intuitive and very counter-cultural design that God has knitted into the fabric of the world around us.

It is a fascinating and free resource that I love to listen to.

I was thinking the other day though, about how Rabbi’s extra intentional growling emotional delivery of the show’s purpose sounds so unique. His statement is bold! He can tell me how the world REALLY works?? Hmm… That is perhaps the most interesting topic I’ve ever been interested in. It is probably the reason behind this blog I am typing on right here. I am quite curious about how the world really works. I am glad that he’s made it so clear.

But what if I have been thinking all along, that I am constantly finding out these answers everywhere I look? I mean, that I am curious about the world, and I might have been collecting clues all my life, maybe we all are.

Is there any other topic being discussed, in any communication, at any time, than the question of ‘How the world works?”

Too abstract?

Okay, what about modified versions of the question. Like ‘how does my world work? Or Yours, or hers, or theirs? Or celebrities or millionaires or warlords or the sick and dying? Or how did the world work, in ages past? Or how does the fictional world work, in this movie onscreen? Or does the world really work, as described in this pop song? I can see that I am always looking at this question and constantly modifying the organic answer.

I see that there are movements and voices and concerted efforts to push certain themes out the general public, about how the world really works. I don’t think all information out there on the topic is designed for my own good. The Enemy it seems has powerful grip on the various microphones plugged into the popular culture.

I like that the Rabbi shows principals and truths that stand firm throughout time and specific circumstance. God’s plans it seems, don’t change, they don’t adapt, they are perfect and unpopular all at the same time.

I am a student, and a poor one, but I know that clarity and simplicity of universal truth, when I hear it. It cuts clean through the chaotic calico calamity of the cultural clutter. There is no mistaking it. Thanks Rabbi Lapin, and thanks to You, the fantastic and fanatical readers of this tiny weird space, I write in every week. You all are appreciated and part of my ever-enlightening journey 🙂


Aaron Nichols

In case of fire, get the baling wire!!

My heart was already pounding just a little too heavy, when Chad startled me by yelling to ‘Be Careful!’ I was just about to lightly touch the center portion of the wall switch that would engage the main overhead fire extinguishing system in our restaurant kitchen. The switch had been damaged, and it appeared that it may implement the whole-kitchen chemical fire suppressant at any moment. Like a hand grenade with the pin just about to fall out, we were handling it very delicately!

The box mounted on the kitchen wall is connected to our system by metal pipe. It has a small red plastic rod that holds the inner PULL-HERE finger-ring in place. That red plastic rod was broken on one side. Whoa. We just noticed the problem as we were closing down after a long night of serving food for our hungry customers. We were especially nervous to see that the inner PULL-HERE ring was already beginning to be cocked at an angle, like it was going to be released at any time.

As three of us guys looked at the halfway broken switch, we were imagining a kitchen full of foamy stuff to have to clean up, without any fire at all. We were being extra careful and working quickly to strap down and secure the ring, so it could not move and make a huge mess. We found some baling wire and with hands holding it tight, the guys locked ‘er down.

Whew! Crisis averted for the moment! Wow, that was a close call. We were quite glad to have avoided the expense and hassle of our extinguishing system shooting off for no reason.

So I then called in the Fire Suppressant expert to service the switch and check up on the rest of the components as well.

When he arrived, I was proud to ask him, what he thought of our nicely wired-down lock on the wall switch. He kinda chuckled and made a suggestion that surprised me greatly.

He said that he would have rather we put just a piece of tape on it, to hold it in place. ‘Huh?’

He said that in case of a fire, we would want to easily remove the tape, and the baling wire, could have been hard to work around…  ‘Okay… I get that part at least.’

‘But, but, but what about the pressure on that inner ring. Surely the tape wouldn’t have held that! What if the spring would have let loose on us! That would have been really really bad, right??”

What pressure, he asked? What spring?

I told him that we were sure that was how it all worked… But nope, we were waaay wrong.

He then explained how the ring was connected to a piece of chain. That chain had about six inches of slack. He told me that even if that inner ring would have fallen completely out of the wall plate, we would have had to pull firmly on it, past the extra slack, then yank enough to release the valve for the foam….


Umm, yeah.

So basically, our keen senses of observation and imagination had completely overblown the dangers at hand. There really wasn’t any at all. Even though we could see the chaotic calamity of the kitchen full of fire retarding foam, it was never going to appear in real life. We had no real understanding of the mechanics of the system, yet we just knew that we were almost in big big trouble.


Shows what we know.

That service tech probably had a good story to tell his buddies about how we’d baling wired the thing. He did mention that we were probably ‘from the country’ and yes he was right about that.

How much of our lives is spent, holding our breath, tight with tension, locked onto fears about outcomes, that will just never materialize. What if we aren’t as smart as we think we are? What if we really don’t understand the construction of the very systems we inhabit every day? What if the design of our world has much more forgiveness and love knitted into it, than we ever imagined? What if we are making things much harder on ourselves than they need to be?

I think it’s funny that we were sooo wrong about this emergency switch. I was glad we weren’t needing to pull it, because of fire. I am happy to now know how it works, without experiencing the devastation that could come with flames in our kitchen.

These little metaphors and examples show up in my world all the time. Will I ever learn anything from them? I dunno. I hope so though. I do like to share them here with you. Thanks for reading. I’ll see you next week J

With Love


Aaron Nichols