Often Zhan

2 minute read

Recently, I’ve been employing an amazing trick to help me keep secrets away from my significant other! This has been something that I’ve been struggling with for a very long time. It is very hard for me to NOT be honest. It’s also very hard for me to keep a secret. People called me an open book, but I am more like a binder that has fallen onto the floor spilling all of the loose leaf binder paper.

My secret is this: I have two journals. One is specifically designed to be given to Maybe when all the dust has settled. She can read about all of my stress at her own leisure. I also have another notebook secretly tucked away that she will read when I am dead. Or she can burn it. These are the “I don’t ever want to talk about this subject again.” topics.

There we go! I get to be completely secretive, but also I get to be completely honest and forthright. It’s only a matter of time! I’ve completely side-stepped “How” by placing it onto “When”. I’m ready for my Nobel Peace Prize now. And OH MY, I have so much juicy secrets. Frustrating secrets. This is a game-changer!

There is one caveat to this solution. I’m so enthusiastic in writing to old Maybe, I frequently think I’ve already discussed it with current Maybe. Oh well. That’s a risk I’m willing to take.


3 minute read

I don’t know about you, but I had to learn how to have deep conversation by listening to others. I remember sitting on the sidelines listening while others had deep conversations. Sometimes, there would be long uncomfortable pauses, silent moments of deep reflection.

After several weeks of listening, at some point, I decided to put in my oar by responding to a salient point and contributing my own perspective.

I later realized that these nights of heavy words were rarely impromptu. One time, one of my friends Willie shouted into a kitchen full of people, “If anyone wants to have a deep conversation, meet me in the living room right now!”

It wasn’t until years later that I made the commitment with Spencer to intentionally set aside time after Friday night fellowship to just talk with compassion, openness, and contemplative silence in mind. And so we did. We set aside time around once a month to have deep conversation after fellowship. We talked about what we were going through. We talked about our lives with intentional intimacy and somber contemplation. We talked in low hushed voices with the privacy and closeness of two friends who trusted each other completely.

And yet, we shared openly. Younger friends sat in the sidelines and listened as we poured out our souls. We showed by example how to appreciate those frequent long drawn-out silences instead of filling that empty space with quick-witted humor and clever comebacks; we showed how to allow space for others to speak without interruption; how to not just hear the content of their words but feel the emotional weight of their heart; how to fully put oneself in someone else’s shoes and begin truly love that person in the present moment.

As life frequently does, God directed Spencer and I in different directions. Yet even now, I still want to fulfill our commitment to have deep conversations. I’ve come to slowly accept that these moments are rarely spontaneous. An environment that encourages deep conversations need to be fostered. We need to set aside time with intentionality to bear out our hearts and our souls to someone else. And these conversations can never happen unless the other person wants the same.

I encourage you, whoever you are, to make the commitment to have deep conversations with someone else; to find someone who you trust and say, “I want to have a deep conversation with you.” I know that asking will feel weird, but I assure you that you and your friend will become better people because of it.

Also, I encourage you to have deep intimate conversations with others nearby. The only way for the next generation to learn how to have a deep conversation is by being in the midst of one. If we can agree on one thing, I hope it is that the skill of having deep conversation that touches the soul of everyone involved is severely lacking in this world.

- Often

Often Zhan

2 minute read

I’ve been thinking about my friend MYT. The more I co-lead with him, the more I learn about a hodgepodge of British differing spelling & word choices (which is strange cause he isn’t even British), Chinese culture, and Anglican theology. I’ve only known him for about two and a half months, and in that time, he has indirectly taught me many important and unimportant topics/lifeskills.

Neato Tidbits of Information from MYT:

  • Discord: Good for Collaboration Projects
  • Trello: Good for setting overlapping deadlines for big projects. I still like Gantt Charts.
  • Enquire vs. Inquire: Apparently, they are different. Who would have thunk?
  • Clutch. Definition: great, essential, potent. Example: Did you see the dog catch the tennisball? That was so clutch!!!
  • Application of Myer Briggs: After discussing with him about me being an ENFP, I researched it on my own. I watched a video about ENFP, and it SPOKE to me. Their description of me was eerily accurate. I’m a little creeped out.
  • Flow of Chi can affect ones bowel movements.
  • Taking walks is good for you.
  • Pan-fried taro tastes good. Surprisingly meaty.

    Book Recommendations

  • Book of Common Prayer (BCP) is cool for both personal devotions and group service.

  • Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life by Henry Cloud and John Townsend

  • Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst