Peace of Mind

I will rarely express my political views about anything because I find them to be utterly useless in any social arena.  I find it equally useless to talk about social issues because ultimately the discussion breaks down into a left vs. right argument instead of a discussion that yields problem solving techniques and solutions.  But, today will be a little different.

First off, let me say this:  I don’t have all of the answers nor will I attempt to justify or articulate the reasons why for all of these things that are happening in America today.  However, I will say that as a child from a military family, a former athlete, and a man who has had to deal with some consequences of being a minority, I feel that I should speak on some of them.

1) Racism in America:  First off, let me define through a practical application of what racism is.  Racism is the isolation of an ethnic group by either denigrating single or multiple groups by another in an effort to improve the status of another.  For example, Adolf Hitler was a racist.  The KKK, at the time of their establishment, was racist.  You folks get the idea.

Part of the problem is that everyone in the NFL who is kneeling to activate themselves in the face of oppression isn’t helping their cause.  They’re actually being more divisive.  What these men don’t understand is that their objection is cultural and not legislative.  The problem isn’t the senseless killing.  The problem is that the protests are by men who embrace their heritage but don’t condone the negative images that it portrays.  You see these men mimicking the mannerisms and behaviors of their successful peers but don’t pay attention to what brings that success especially with regards to music.  Some of the elements include drugs, guns, violence, and the open resentment of authority.  Now, I understand that some of these people don’t have the luxury of living in an environment that don’t produce a better opportunity at a life where one doesn’t have to worry about things like that.  I totally get that.  But, those things don’t necessarily make you obligated to “be about that action” as Marshawn Lynch would say.  The sad thing is that if one wants a better life for themselves, they would be accused of “selling out.”  You can’t act the part and live the life and not expect to be treated as a degenerative influence.  Now, some of the shootings were bad.  I talked with a Canyon PD officer who shared his thoughts and opinions and I found myself to be in agreement.  His ethnic background is irrelevant as it compares to his objectivity within the situation.  He said that some were bad and some were justified.  I agreed with him.  It doesn’t mean I’m an “Uncle Tom.” It doesn’t mean that I’m an enemy of my race.  It means that I can’t sit here and condone the actions of people just because they refuse to be accountable for their individual actions or choices.  You can’t act a certain way that promotes antagonism and expect to be treated fairly.  Simply put, you get what you give.  If you offer a reason to be mistreated, the odds are you will be.  You can’t stand around and disrespect authority and seek a fair and just response.  Now, I get that this isn’t always the case but in my experience, I get treated much in the same way I treat them.

Finally, if you want to work towards a solution for racism, here’s one:  Work to end it across the board because black people wanting equal and fair treatment for themselves is inherently racist.  Equality isn’t something you can take from someone and add to yourself.  It isn’t a finite resource to be fought over and coveted.  History is replete with examples of people warring over such a thing only for the victor to be given more avenues to further subjugate and marginalize each other.  It’s unfortunate but as a people, we are incapable of demonstrating the necessary ability to not commit acts of ethnic patriotism, for lack of a better way to put it, against one another.
2) Protesting the Anthem:  As a military child, I will always support the American Flag and National Anthem.  This country we live in isn’t perfect but the total disrespect being shown by athletes during the ceremony is contemptible.  Men and women have died so you can sit there and demonstrate your discontent with the social climate.  You can express that all you like; however, there are places in this world where you would be executed for such things.  You have a problem?  Okay, power to you for offering a solution.  But, you’re not offering solutions.  You’re using your profession as a platform for political and social reform.  You’re being paid millions to play a game.  If you want to affect change, do it through affecting policy or the climate in your community.  You won’t do it through your demeanor at work because some people would rather fire you than have to deal with your personal circus in the workplace.  If you ever doubt that, you can ask Kaepernick, Terrell Owens, Greg Hardy, Ray Rice, or any other person who has red flags because of their personal behavior or politics.  Honoring your home, despite its flaws, speaks more about you than complaining about the injustices you do not suffer.  You don’t have to be a patriot.  Just don’t be a divisive influence because it makes your hypocrisy more evident when you protest and do nothing to promote positive changes. 

I get you don’t like the state of affairs.  Nobody is accusing you of being oblivious or ignorant of them.  What you are being accused of is being an idle force.  If you’re protesting, you can also be active in the community and use your voice productively.  If you’re not, you’re merely an inert element in a turbulent situation.  Which sadly translates to being a part of the problem by not being part of the solution.  Sorry athletes, you’re not doing much of anything unless you’re promoting change.  Donating money doesn’t mean you’re doing anything, either.  You gotta be in the field living out the kind of behavior you want others to show.

3) Trump’s Comments:  Oh boy, did he drop a bomb here.  But, his comments are indeed fair and here is why:  If any one of us walked into our workplace and started a movement that was clearly divisive and disruptive to the integrity and quality of the product, we would be fired for it.  Plain and simple.  The hitch here is that the players are ultimately accountable to the fans and the owners have a responsibility to the fans.  The players are entertainers with no podium other than Twitter and Facebook to express themselves.  Trump used his podium, as the elected head of this country, to express his thoughts as to the social climate of the U.S.  Calling them a “son of a bitch” wasn’t wise but he did raise a good point.  They want to agitate an already inflammatory situation without dealing with the consequences.  As a result, they are angry for him expressing his discontent with their actions.  For better or worse, Trump has to bear the consequences of what comes out of his mouth just like we do.  Unfortunately for him, the spotlight is a lot brighter for him than it is for an athlete.

His comment wasn’t racially motivated.  If anything, it was patriotic and in defense of the sacrifices the military makes daily to preserve the American way of life.  Or, at the very least, what we hope it one day can be.  Furthermore, any person who has a problem is welcome to go somewhere else.  There’s nothing saying they can’t go anywhere that is more amenable to their sensibilities.  But, since they would rather stay and voice their issues, it isn’t as big of a problem as they want to lead others to believe.  As evident as it is, keeping quiet just isn’t an acceptable option.  You can ask Dez Bryant about that. 
As always, these are my thoughts and opinions.  I welcome discussion and your thoughts.

Until next time…

Kevin

Advertisements

Twenty Minutes

When I woke up today, the last thing I honestly wanted to do was reflect on points in my life that had come and gone.  However, I was reminded by an awesome colleague and even better friend of this:
These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.  Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” -Deuteronomy 6:6-7 (NIV)

 

It really resonated with me because of something my driving instructor at Exotics Racing in Las Vegas said to me.  He said that he wouldn’t have been telling me I was doing good things if I hadn’t been.  For a long time, people telling me I had been doing things well just to be nice.  Brandon, my instructor, also said that he had been around way too long to tell people constructive things for the sake of being constructive.  Looking back at it all now, it really makes me wonder just when I had been doing good things or just being told I was doing good things.  However, that is something for another day.

 

What I really wanted to get off my chest is that we seem to only really encourage or impart words of affirmation only when we’re on the journey.  We feel that the need to encourage one another only has punch when we’re about to do something important, risky, or unknown to us.  I can agree that those three instances can be critical when it comes to being encouraging.  However, it is disheartening to see it practically in only those three instances.

“For the most part, we have to work on small things right now.  So, if we’re having to work on small things after six laps, that’s pretty good.  It’s a car you don’t know.  It’s a track you don’t know.  It’s a driving style you don’t know.  After six laps of doing pretty good… getting to where you’re working on small things, I think that’s pretty good, right?” -Brandon, my instructor

Halfway into the experience and to have this spoken to me by an experienced driver was… for lack of a better way to put it, encouraging!  Here I am… no competitive racing skills or experience under my belt and just there for the sake of getting to drive a $120,000 sports car… to be told, by an experienced driver, that is what I would need to work on to progress?  That’s what we all want!  We want to be naturally in a position to have to make subtle adjustments instead of these whopping, life changing ones.  All too often, we take those whopping ones for granted because we don’t necessarily appreciate the journey we took to get there.

As I’ve gotten a little older since then, I’ve learned to really enjoy not abiding in being stationary.  Just because I haven’t left Canyon, USA doesn’t mean that I’m stationary.  There’s always a place to go or a thing to do wherever you are.  Lately, I’ve been exploring my faith and what it means to me.  I’ve been exploring my talent for composition and creativity.  I’ve been lots of places that a car could never take me.  But, for those twenty minutes in that Nissan GT-R, I found that a car could take me places that I wouldn’t have ever considered otherwise: a place that showed that encouragement is a journey all its own and not merely just a stop along whatever path you happen yourself to be.

 

So, as I find myself sitting here reminiscing about the things I have experienced and the things yet to come, I am encouraged.  Because at some point, somewhere down the line, there either has been or will be a Brandon telling me that regardless of what point I exist in, I have done good things and those little things will resolve themselves with understanding and application.  It’s kind of a shame that at first, I didn’t believe him.

 

Now, I do.  Wherever you are, I pray that you’re doing well and that the same drive and passion for racing and instruction serves you in areas of life that extend far beyond the track.

I can still hear “Turn now!  Brake now!  Push through the apex!  Go, go, go!!!!” in my head.  A lot better now because I can appreciate what it means to be encouraged through proper guidance.  Wherever you are, I pray that you’re doing well and that the same drive and passion for racing and instruction continues to serve you in areas of life that extend far beyond the track.

IMG_20170413_163016

IMG_0158[1]

-Kevin

P.S:  Thanks, JP!  As one racing fan to another, “Boogity!  Boogity!  Boogity!”

 

Heart Beat

I’m never gonna be more real than I am going to be right now… and for once, maybe… I’ll feel a little bit better about being me.

I have a severe problem with being esteemed in such a way that paints me in this light where I’m a “decent” or anything better than that. I really do… I don’t get it. I’m one of the biggest pieces of shit walking this planet. Every bit of me screams that I don’t deserve to be here. Every bit of me screams that I don’t deserve the levels of adoration, respect, and appreciation that I’m given. Instead, every bit of me screams that I deserve to be ridiculed, taken for granted, and abused in a manner consistent with being nothing special or significant.

Ever since Eric passed away, I’ve been convicted of feeling like I should have been the one to go in his place. The world lost someone who made this place better and left someone in his place that had no idea about the destination his own life much less being able to impact the lives of multiple others. Even more so in a way that suggests that they are better for me being here. I do not believe that I am capable of this level of influence. I’ve never been the type to affect change in anyone else or even myself. And I’ve never been more convicted of feeling like the biggest jackass in the world until today… why would I be? I know from personal experience that there are bigger fish in the sea in that respect and I’ve never felt victimized by them. I don’t feel victimized by trash or scum of the earth types… what’s really sad is that I feel victimized by the most kind and warm hearted people I’ve ever met.

The types that make me feel like I am worth something… that I am special… that there is something for me. Even when I feel like I don’t… that esteem… appreciation… the love I’m given… makes me feel like I’m taking something from them that I didn’t earn… those types of people…

The ones that give me faith in humanity.

I don’t get how they can be so accepting of a major character deficiency? I guess the ability to have a heart for others entitles you to some level of respect, dignity, and appreciation… even if that heart for others ultimately serves nobody but yourself. The ability to be genuinely humble and accept that there are limitations to just how you can serve your fellow man was never really bestowed upon me. I always thought that if you did well and meant well, it would be reciprocated. However, I figured out very quickly that being nice didn’t mean a fucking thing and all I received was antagonism.

To this day, I will plead up and down that he didn’t deserve to die. Not then… not like how he did… and every bit of the person I felt was growing died with him. I wanted to be the guy everybody didn’t want to be around… couldn’t stand investing anything in… and the consensus was that he was a waste of resources and the one to be quietly forgotten. Furthermore, I don’t feel as strongly about being the one who should have taken his place than I do now. I should have. What purpose does a selfish prick have being given another opportunity to do something productive with his life? Really? What did I do to be given such an opportunity? Eric had something… great… outstanding, even going for him which benefited the community a lot more than I could have. Why give shitbags chances at redemption?

Maybe because this particular one didn’t ask for one… or God felt that there was something more to the story…

I never really understood why tragedy to triumph stories really invoke a lot of emotion in me. Maybe it’s the idea of seeing the underdog win or a least get a taste of what it was like to do something worth doing. Couldn’t tell you… I’ve been the good little soldier who fights uphill battles in everything. It’s an everyday struggle to maintain the life I don’t deserve… the friendships with people with whom I’ve done nothing to earn… or the opportunity that I purposefully squander because maybe it’ll sink in that I really don’t want it.

But, then I remember why I took a step towards God after Eric died… I needed something to be different. I was tired of being alone… feeling alone… and being held in that uncomfortable light where nothing mattered. Even now I feel like nothing I’ve said or done matters… maybe because it doesn’t… maybe because there’s no reception to it… for whatever reason, I stand firm in that… and then it was bestowed to me that there is relevance to my words and credence in my actions.

A year after his death, I now have the things that made me wish I was already dead. I have a family that loves and cares about me, friends that want to share in my joys and struggles, and a life I can finally come to grips with as something I can be proud of… even if it is just a meager one. No matter how much I say I don’t deserve the affection of those around me or how much I’d rather be anywhere but here… the things I’ve taken for granted for so long now offer me serenity and peace where there was none before. They enrich the whole of my existence and offer value where there was only self-degradation and cruelty.

As much as they would disagree with me when I say they deserve better than I could ever possibly have to offer… they would agree that I offer something. They found the heart I thought was gone… the heart I had when Eric was here… the heart I thought never was coming back and gave me an opportunity to freely offer it back to them. The heart that I had been left with died with him… and perhaps rightfully so. But, it gave me a chance to be given something that had a little bit of life left in it to someone… anyone… who wanted it.

Maybe that’s why I love those types of stories so much… because there’s so much heart in them.

In loving memory, Air-Rock

Captain’s Chair

“I always thought I’d get a shot at this chair one day.”

 

Lately, I’ve been moody.  Not in a happy or sad sense… for the most part, I’ve been a happy person.  A lot of good things have happened to me and I’ve learned to ride the momentum and to cherish everyone and everything that has brightened my life to date.

 

I’ve been moody in the sense that I’ve really begun to liken the journey that I’m on to having a command.  I’ve had to learn how to follow, and yes, being a follower is definitely more of a learning experience than you think it is… and I’ve also had to learn to assume the authority that command entails.  Out of the two, learning to wield authority has definitely been more of the eye opening experiences of the two.  Not to mention, perhaps the most trying and infuriating of the two.  But, perhaps the real skill to master here is knowing when to command and knowing when to let yourself be commanded.

 

A friend of mine said that our personality is the sum of the five people that we most closely associate with.  I believe he’s right.  We’ve let them close to us and influence knows no discrimination.  There is just this part of us that wants so much better than what we already have.  I’m not saying that what we have isn’t necessarily good or bad but if you’re a “Glass is half full” type of person, you could definitely endeavor to “fill your glass,” so to speak.

 

As easy as we make that sound sometimes, I’ve found that it’s become increasingly difficult to take advantage of opportunities that present themselves.  Me personally, I’ve found that I’m a “Glass is half empty” type of person.  It definitely takes a lot of courage to take on such a task of completely flipping this trait of my personality.  But, even more so, the level of risk involved is definitely intimidating.  Rejection is one of the most crippling fears that I possess.  It honestly is.  I don’t take chances unless I wholeheartedly believe that there is no chance of failure.  And if you ever get a chance to speak to me about it, it speaks volumes about the experiences and memories that have defined me as a person… so far.

 

However, being around the people I’ve invested myself in over the last good while has taught me that being rejected is just a part of Life.  It’s going to happen no matter what.  What really hasn’t sunk in, considering the level of success that I’ve experienced first hand with these people, is that it doesn’t stop them from continuing.  I don’t measure success as being financially secure, having a family, or necessarily anything tangible that you could associate with the word.  I consider “success” as having a firm grasp on how one experiences Life.  Yes, I know quite a few of these people and I’m blessed to have them in my life.  No, they always have not enjoyed the level of “success” they now do enjoy.  That’s why I appreciate them as I do.

 

One of the lessons that they’ve taught me that I’ve taken for granted for as long as I’ve known them is about risk.  “Risk is part of the game if you want to sit in that chair.”  Risk really is part of the game.  We do it all the time and don’t give it a second thought until it presents a conflict with our sensibilities.  One of the hardest things that I’ve come to experience about being granted command over anything in my life is knowing when to risk something in favor of something better.  A lot of lessons that I’ve been taught is to be content with what you have being nothing really is promised to you.  It’s hard to overcome that fear because Life also teaches you fear is a very powerful motivator.  We never know if something will succeed or fail until we try but if we’re too consumed by our fear and insecurities to try… it’s an outcome we will deny ourselves or save ourselves from experiencing.  Depending on what side of the glass you’re drinking from…

 

Through all of the experiences that I’ve gone through and all of the people that I’ve had the pleasure and the privilege to associate myself with, I am glad to have been given a chance to command the types of influences I come into contact with.  I may not always get to pick and choose the types of people I come across but I’ve definitely been blessed with some wisdom in knowing that said people pose either a chance to grow more as a person or to regress back into traits that I feel like I’ve grown out of.

 

But, the most important lesson that I feel that I’ve learned is that nobody really is fit to wield any kind of authority over themselves or anyone else for that matter.  It’s just too powerful of a tool for anyone to expect to use responsibly.  However, one of the burdens of command is that there will be times where you may have no choice to exercise influence and authority over someone else.  Letting someone pour their experiences of tragedy and triumph can be a risky thing to do and in the end could do a lot of damage or create a stepping stone in the ascent of who you are to become.

 

And I’ve found that being in the Captain’s chair is less about being in control and more about being groomed into a person that knows they shouldn’t be there but have been blessed by those around them enough to have been given the opportunity to affect success in others.

 

“Perhaps you still will… somehow I doubt that this will be the last ship to carry the name Enterprise.”

star-trek-generations-startrek-screencaps.com-13260