You, Damn Kid…

So, I’ve had a lot of time to think about the future lately.  In less than two months, I will be 32.  No wife, no children, and probably the worst thing about it is being that I have no idea when, or even if, those things are in the cards for me.  The thought of getting old is a very real and intimidating realization and to be quite honest, it isn’t one that I can realistically come to terms with and be happy.

Everyone ages.  Not everyone does so gracefully.  Not everyone is susceptible to the ravages that will inevitably come with it.  I’m not necessarily concerned with how I age; however, what I am concerned with is more with what I would lose because of it.  It’s safe to say that we all will lose our faculties or talents at some point.  Whether it be our mental faculties, physical talents, or what have you.  I can live with that, or live with knowing that their absence is beyond my perceptive ability… hint… hint… Alzheimer’s Disease… please, leave me be…

But, the one thing I don’t think I could live without is knowing that the one thing that drove me to action… the thing that inspired hope and liberated me to pursue things in spite of anything that said to me… that child that we all were at one point… the one that thought a blanket and a box made a spaceship or that a mask and a cape made us a larger than life superhero… if that person were to disappear over time, I’d die as a shell of the person I could have been.  What’s worse is knowing that over that time, I had a chance to do something about it…

I don’t feel like that child has left me… well, not yet anyway.  Or, if he had gone away, he decided to come back because there was a time where he was gone and I had no idea what to do or where to go.  I can admit that for a while there, I was lost and you could probably go as far as say that I was dead.  Maybe not in a physical sense; but, in every other sense of the word.  There was no drive, ambition, or will to continue.  There was no reason.

As far as the image goes, it is from the lyric music video to “Something Just Like This” by The Chainsmokers & Coldplay.  On a tangent, it is an excellent song and I’d recommend it to anyone.  It’s a great listen especially if you’re the type to appreciate the message but I digress…

But, what it represents is that kid we all carry with us.  As we get older, we feel like this child becomes such a burden.  As we get older, the mandate that it carries will supersede all of the things that we wish that kid could accomplish.  We feel that being older means being more responsible with ourselves.  Whether that be in our social, professional, or family lives or even in how we pursue our interests in those arenas.  Sure, I can agree with the concept that the older we get, our temperament is adjusted to reflect the experience that time spent grants us.  But, as I’ve come to really understand what it means to really “grow old,” so to speak, is that how we articulate the passage of time is merely a human construct.  Sure, I’m 31 years old and I believe that I am old.  There are people that are older than me… but, man I tell ya… there are in an age that defies the term “prime of their lives.”  How, I can’t say for sure but I can say this:  Getting older does not mean that their child grew old with them.  Collectively, they are as youthful as they had ever been and they fought Father Time like hell and got him to walk away because they were able to demonstrate that no matter what, there was nothing he could do to make that child succumb to the ravages of “growing old.”

When I realized that being youthful was less of a talent and more of a partnership, I began to really appreciate why that song sticks with me like it does.  If you’ve listened to the song and you understand the message, great… I’d love for anyone who reads this to share their insights with me.  But, the message to me extends beyond the apparent and into the obscure.  To me, it is a little tune and an echo… but that little tune and an echo is what brings that child to life.  Or, what brings Life period…

Maybe the future isn’t such a terrible and terrifying place after all.  Being 32 with no wife and no child is one thing.  But, being 32 with no wife, no child, and no youth to keep me honest… I’m not sure I could look at life as something worth doing because I feel like that kid of mine is awake and shaking his head and wondering to himself, “What happened, Kev?”

Instead, maybe it is more about how long I can keep that kid dreaming and wondering, “What adventure are you going to go on next, Kev?  What can I dream up for you this time?”

I don’t know, buddy.  You were always the type to turn something so Parisian into something more… tangible.

“Well, you got time, Kev.  And, you got me.  You haven’t let me down yet.  You have gone astray but you haven’t let me down.”

Maybe so… maybe not.  But hey, who honestly knows?  Maybe I’m dreaming of him or he is dreaming of me and how one day I’ll make it to Paris.

At least that kid is dug in like an Alabama tick…

-Kevin

P.S:  “Paris” is a good song too.  Just saying…

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Elpis

Before I get into the mix of all this, I’m going to be pretty open.  There are some things that I’ve really wanted to talk about lately.  Some of which are pretty heart heavy.  So, who knows what I’ll really want to say.  Maybe I’ll figure it out when I say it.

 

Who is familiar with the Greek legend of Pandora?  For those who don’t know, according to legend, she was the first woman created by the Greek gods.  She was created by Hephaestus and Athena as punishment for Prometheus going rogue and imbuing man with the knowledge of fire.  But, that didn’t stop the Hephaestus and Athena, along with the others, from granting Pandora their qualities and traits.

We too, are a lot like Pandora.

 

We are built of earth and water.  But, for the purpose of this entry, we are essentially made up of dirt and blood.  The dirt that is our indiscretion, evil, and injustice alongside blood, which is the life we’ve taken because of those injustices.  Despite being possession of the best intentions and most endearing qualities that we could have been graced with, the fact of the matter remains:  We are the sum of our parts.  There’s no escape from design.

Much like her, it feels like punishment to be made up such things.  Honestly, who plays in the dirt?  What appeal lies in building something out of it?  One could say that they have no other choice and for a great many of us, there isn’t much in the way to dissuade us from agreeing with them.

 

Personally, my hands have been filthy.  There is so much garbage that I’ve dabbled in and I’m not proud of it.  Even worse, there are things that have tainted me on so many levels, I’m not even sure how I’ve managed to find them again.  I’m not sure if even I know what it is I’m truly looking for or if I’ll ever find them again.  I’ve been hit time after time with no relent and I’ve really wondered why I’m here and what it is I’m supposed to be doing.

I suppose that I’m rather fortunate to be in the company and protection of some people who know more than I do.

 

Ever since December, I’ve had struggles with these three things:  Love, forgiveness, and how to reconcile my storied history with the unwritten future.  These three are the biggest perils to me and try as I might to contain them, they continue to elude me.  The real bummer is that in my effort to capture these things, everything that I’ve managed to keep a lid on manages to flee.

The further along the story goes, the more and more I find that Pandora and myself have a similar tale.

 

According to the legend, Pandora was offered by Zeus to Prometheus’ brother Epimetheus as his bride.  As a wedding gift, Pandora was offered a pithos, or a jar if your Greek is rusty by Zeus himself.  Intrigued at what it contained, Pandora opened it and released all of the evils into the world.

Little do we understand just how much we have in common with our dear friend Pandora.

When we offer ourselves to others, we give them a gift.  That gift being everything we were, are, and could ever hope to be.  The things that make us special, unique, and give us the power to positively affect the world; however, along with those things are our individual perils that can put everything at risk.  Try as we might, there’s nothing that we can do from others opening that gift and letting all of those things loose upon those for whom which we care.

 

In a frantic, Pandora quickly tried to close the jar (which is “pithos” in Greek) with all of the perils and evils voraciously escaping and forever being a pestilence and plague upon mankind.

We too, share Pandora’s urgency when trying to contain our perils and evil.  We desperately try to keep those things contained when we realize what they are capable of doing and the damage they can inflict upon others.  The inherent guilt and shame of being responsible for releasing the essence of those things can be overwhelming.  Who wants to walk around with that burden?  I sure as hell don’t.  I don’t think Pandora did, either.  I guess that’s why she was so determined to put the lid back on that jar.

 

To end the story, Pandora did re-seal the jar.  Much to her chagrin, all but one of the perils that would now go on to plague mankind forever was contained.  That one “evil spirit” was called hope.  Depending on what version of the story you read, it is implied that she either was able to keep it captive or it stayed of its own volition.  Either way, it is the singular blessing to ease the burden of being what we are.

Me personally, hope was very much so fleeting.  I thought it was gone.  I thought it fled away with no chance of being caught.  It was so disheartening because in spite of everything that we have to offer, whether it is a means to incite peril or protection, hope is the one thing that we must not lose.  Everything else can be damned.  So long as we don’t lose that, everything else is negotiable.

 

The point is that there are going to be times when we feel like Pandora did.  There will be times when we let all hell break loose and find ourselves trying to contain all the havoc we’ve wrought upon the world and in our own lives.  But, the one thing Pandora did that we have to do as well is not let everything escape.  We have to hold on to hope.  We have to protect that at all costs.

Because if there is a moral to this Greek legend, I find it to be that hope is the most costly thing to lose.  Even in the midst of that has gone awry and the price tag that comes along with it, I find it even more costly if hope is lost as well.

 

I suppose I’m fortunate to have been able to hang onto it for so long.  Even in the echoes of legends long since departed.

As well as something just like this…

-Kevin

 

Bill of Rights

So, oddly enough, my best friend asked me if I was still feeling good about things.  Normally, this isn’t such a big thing because it is something he usually asks me about whenever we talk.  But, this time was different.  He asked me how I felt about “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

So, being the snarky guy I can be sometimes, I responded with, “Aren’t those things guaranteed by something…”  Not to be outdone, he responded by, “Well that’s self-evident :)”  Asshole.

 

But, thinking about it now, he did have a point about things.  We live in an age where we believe that we are so entitled to things.  However, we are not really entitled to anything other than discord, conflict, and a life marred by an endless sense of competition.  Why you ask?  The reason why it is so is because we all believe that the universe owes us something and won’t settle for anything less than what we may find acceptable.  Personally, it’s more like we won’t settle for anything less than something in which we can find gratitude.

Up front, it doesn’t sound so bad.  I mean, it offers you an opportunity to earn your way into prosperity and appreciate developing a work ethic that aptly describes your approach to life.  We believe that if we work hard, we will get out of life what we put into it.  Sounds fair, right?  WROOOOOONNNNGGGGGG.  SOOOOOOOOOO WROOOOOOOONNNNGGGG.

“Nothing reveals Humanity so well as the games it plays.” -David Hartley

Actually revealed best in how it plays.  However, I’ll get into that later.

 

In response to all of this, I decided to start a simple experiment:  I wasn’t going to compete for the affection of another, period.  If someone wanted my attention or affection, I’d freely give it to them.  But, I wasn’t going to fight for something that didn’t want me.

We put in all that time and effort with people only to figure out that ones who either have put in more time and effort or with more to offer are the ones who win out in the end.  It still holds true and we feel indignant because there isn’t any justice.  We invest ourselves so much in something or someone only to get nothing out of it.  How fair is that?  It’s a question that I found myself asking daily.  Well, until yesterday…

Yesterday, I decided that I wasn’t going to be engaged with intentional community.  What I mean by that is things like bible studies or anything that was orchestrated to create the environment.  If I was going to be in community, I was going to be in community with anyone who sought my attention or affection.  I decided I was done making the offering and it going for nothing especially with the consideration of how isolated it made me feel.

I found it to be surprisingly liberating.  I may not have hung out with the groups of people I would have normally but I found gratitude and understanding when I did find myself in it.  It was so nice to not have to compete!  It was free of expectation and free of obligation and it was perhaps some of the best communions I’ve ever had.  It was strange but at the same time I couldn’t really help but feel disappointed and let down.  I couldn’t help but feel guilty for having a singular instance of it.

 

So, after really being able to sit down with myself and think about why it was so disheartening, I’ve drawn the conclusion that the “More is better” philosophy is the culprit.  We live in a time where more is better and the absence of volume might as well be an absence period.  There was the epiphany…

The extraordinary has become ordinary because the cost of being ordinary is so high.  If we’re not standing out or not in possession of something that isn’t present, we might as well not be where we are.  It’s so painful knowing that we have to do more to be more and the price paid is the expectation of knowing that there isn’t enough we can do.  It is at the root of what we are to aspire.  But, that aspiration has been lost to who we are.  We identity in how much of something we have.  We identify in how much we work.  We have become so confident in volume that we measure ourselves by it.  It has become so altruistic that we’ve made it a philosophy:  The more we have, the more we deserve and those who have more deserve to dictate more.  Thus, creating the atmosphere that if you don’t have more than the next person, you’re not worth anything.  More than that, we believe that if you’re not worth anything, you’re not anything.

 

I may be a lot of things.  I am: a sinner, writer, philosopher, unsure, insecure, optimistic, friendly, introverted, shy, Christian, this, that, and whatever else I can come up with.  That’s what I am.  I can admit it.

But, that’s not who I am.  I’m still trying to figure all of that out.

I’m not any more or less me and I’m finding that the price I’d pay to be any more of the things that make me what I am would be at the expense of who I am.  That’s something I can’t live with nor would I really want to experience such a thing.  I don’t have to have more of something to know that I have it.

 

After all, aren’t I entitled to that freedom?

-Kevin

 

 

 

 

Postcards to Home

Too often I find myself focused on where I am instead of where I’ve been or even necessarily where I’m going.  I don’t get the reasoning of being fixated on where you can be.  Sure, the aspirations and ambitions of the future are worthy of being heralded but the idea of holding such esteem on something that hasn’t arrived yet honestly baffles me.

If anything about the past few months has been asserted to me it’s that where I’m going is continually evolving and ever has a consistent face.  At times, it’s very dissuading and tumultuous.  Conversely, it’s also very refreshing and provides a sense of renewal and hope for the future.  It’s all of the events in between that shape the path that I am to take.

It’s been a very interesting trip, to say the least.  I’ve made stops in places I care to never visit again as well as been to places that I’d give almost anything to stay in.  As cliche as it all sounds, it feels like I’m on a tour of sorts.  The way I conceptualize my existence to this date has made a shift to be more indicative of this.  However, the need to continue to be “on tour” so to speak never really has driven me like it has.  I’ve always seen the journey to be taxing and I have always felt the need to be home more than I needed to be anywhere but here.  I always believed that home is where the heart is and I’ve also believed it to be stationary.  This is, much to my amazement, definitely not the case.

One of the lessons I’ve learned is that as much as we may or may not travel to the places of the world, we are always on the move.  We move within the boundaries of our own lives and in the boundaries of others.  The irony of it all is that we feel compelled to travel across the world but not within the bellows of our own existence or others.

I’ve taken the most joy in not going to places, wherever those may be but in being allowed inside the walls of new people and experiencing their existence from their point of view.  To me, that’s what my journey has been all about.  I haven’t felt more energized about anything else and as more opportunities arise for me to pursue this, I can honestly say that there is an increasing amount of hope in the future I’ve envisioned for myself.

Furthermore, as I continue to learn to see old places (faces) with new eyes instead of seeing new places with my old ones, my hope is to be allowed into and welcomed all the new towns I stop in along the way.

It’s been pure joy share in the joys, pains, tragedies, triumphs, and all the life moments in the middle in all the “towns” I’ve been welcomed into along the way… and I hope for the same in the 10,000 more I haven’t.

And I’ve never been happier to not be at home.

-Kevin

The 20/20 Experience

When I was a little boy, I loved cars.  To this very day, I still do.  But, all I really wanted to spend what is now my adult life doing was race.  I loved the competitive spirit, flying by the seat of your pants, and being within a shake of disaster… both literally and figuratively.  It took an appreciation of adrenaline, risk, skill, and trust that what you’ve built and who you’ve built your life with won’t come crashing down on you.

Over the years, I’ve come to know that life, in general, is likened to a race.  Even The Bible makes a reference to it.  There are a lot of ups and downs, twists and turns, and obstacles that happen to interfere with making it to the finish line.  It wouldn’t be much of a race if there wasn’t a finish, would it?  But, perhaps the biggest obstacle that we all face is love.

Talking about my teenage years and experiences is pretty tough for me.  Mainly because I had such a terrible time coping with all of the antagonizing situations and negative reinforcement that I had gotten from them.  I learned not to love myself.  I felt that desire… the spirit… and the dedication that I once had as a child was gone.  In its place, degradation, contempt, and a complete sense of helplessness and being unwanted set in.  The feeling of being abandoned because love, in general, had become so glaringly absent and critical in how I perceived myself.  I had become depressed and suicidal because I didn’t love myself.  I hated myself.  I hated who I had become.  I was empty inside.  There was nothing left.

As I got older, I learned what love really is.  It has a lot of forms but the feeling that it brings is the same.  It inspires.  It uplifts.  However, the pain that we’ve accumulated and a lack of trust and faith that we can be healed can be overwhelming.  It’s definitely a struggle to believe that we can arrive at a point where we can be capable to pursue all of the things that we once felt passionate about.  I also learned that it is a journey to be enjoyed.  Personal growth is a process that should be approached with an open mind and a loving spirit.  I didn’t understand that because I didn’t have love in my life.  I don’t mean the superficial love that we tell our friends or the type we feel when we’ve become attached.  I mean the type of love that can only come from being invigorated with passion and being driven by purpose or by someone whose passion reinforces your own.

But, just because I got older doesn’t mean I found love.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love cars.  I really do.  They have been such a big part of my life as I am so fascinated by them.  They are about as unique as we are.  They have their own personalities.  Some would even say that they are an extension of our own personality.  I would agree with them.  We can make them loud.  We can make them faster.  We can make them flashy.  We can make them so elegant that everyone can’t help but notice.  But, they also can die because just as easily as we can nurture them, we can neglect them.  And much like them, our ability to love can die if we don’t take care of it.

I’ve learned a lot of life lessons over the years but none as important as love is the basis of everything.  I spent a weekend in Ft. Worth and it was really an eye opening experience.  I’ve become acquainted with a lot of people and most of which I would call my friends over the years.  I would go as far as to say that I love them in more than a superficial manner.  But, loving them as I do didn’t necessarily make me feel like I could love myself.  It wasn’t until recently that I had found a glimpse of that love I had as a kid.

It takes a certain kind of personality to make your life less about yourself and more about others. To be so open with people you know and don’t know alike takes so much strength of character and an ability to place them in a level of priority above yourself… it’s a genuine moment of clarity and rejuvenating to the spirit of passion that lives within us all.  Furthermore, to surround myself with people who want to thrive on their own as well as see and assist others in finding their own passion gives me the faith that the race I run is for something… and worth it to continue.

Through all of the hurt and lack of faith, being put in a position to realize that I still have the passion to continue… and enough love to persevere even when I believed I didn’t… is a testament that we can recover from those wounds… and there’s more to life than just building walls of doubt, mistrust, and paranoia.  I’ve learned that a secret to life is passion… what that may be is as unique as we all are.  For success… for love… for finishing the race, even.

Or perhaps to start one…

“Don’t act like it’s a bad thing to fall in love (with me).” -Justin Timberlake

And it really isn’t such a bad thing…

-Kevin

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