Here we go!
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…
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.
P.S: Thanks, JP! As one racing fan to another, “Boogity! Boogity! Boogity!”
It’s amazing just how much you can learn about yourself.
Whether it’s being at home or abroad… there’s always something new that your environment can educate you to about just who we really are. I’m not necessarily talking about personality traits or instances when we defy our own norms but revelations that can create irreconcilable differences between the person we are as we exist now and the person we are meant to be, can be, we once were, or whatever else we can think of that allows us to give definition to existential differences.
But, one thing I’ve learned “studying abroad” was that we, as human beings, are never going to be unified in that sense. There are just too many crises that we face that create moments that we are forced to agree or disagree with our contrasting identities. Now, don’t confuse this with multiple personalities or anything that may imply mental illness. We are all crazy in our own way. Very few of us are by definition “sane.” Hell, I don’t think any of us are. We go at it with ourselves so much that I don’t think it’s possible to look at ourselves and not make the accusation. However, the inevitable inclusion of those around us and consequently those we care for makes us wonder.
I’ve come to hold true that whatever our journey is for, the space between where we are now and the destination is a battleground. Whether we question the dignity a beard may add (as men) or does wearing lingerie inhibit a woman’s ability to be modest (if you’re a woman)… or extending beyond the superficial and asking questions that challenge the very nature of your own being… whatever the road you travel, the lengths you’ll go to find resolution will create plenty of opportunity to see just how divisible we really are.
The doubt and insecurities that being in a transitional phase bring can be crippling to the personal going through it. However, there will always be those who take sides. There are those who feed the necessity and value of either one of those identities and the conflict between those aspects deny the idea of being a unified entity. However, there’s always more going on than meets the eye and that element gives us hope.
The apparent schism plays an important role in our overall growth. The split doesn’t mean that there is something wrong with us. It just means that we have an internal conflict of interest and those aren’t always bad things either. There are things we may want to accomplish that aren’t always conducive to our personality construct as it stands. Conversely, there are things that we have already done that compromise our future. It’s a part of the growing pains we go through. It’s a fact of life. We will be at odds with ourselves. We are what we are.
In the midst of all of that confusion, there will be a time that someone will ask who we just happen to be… perhaps the hardest hitting question we can ever ask ourselves would be, “Do we really want to know who is responsible for saving our own ass?” Sure, I think we would all like to know. But, is it honestly necessary? As a Christian, we acknowledge that God can move in mysterious ways and we can’t always put our finger on where and when things were set in motion. But, we can feel comfortable attributing that to Him.
Sure, I can go with that. Faith is important and it shows. Nothing wrong with having it and putting it to use.
However, there are critical moments… and we may not know who is who… that will have everything hanging in the balance… and we won’t know who is really doing what is necessary to achieve the goal. I’ve had more than enough of those instances in life… and even some now… and I’ve been left asking that very question. I can honestly and truthfully say that God hasn’t always been that answer. It’s not a bad thing because I understand that He can be “that way.” Sometimes, He just wants you to do things yourself. It is quite a talent to be self-sustaining. It’s an even bigger talent to be able to choose not to be.
I can save myself. I’ve been trained and given the necessary equipment to just that. It’s part of my journey… and I’ve made some friends being on this path. I’ve made some enemies. I value the person I was as equally as I value the person I am now because I’ve been made whole by them because they compliment each other. I don’t have to grant God the reverence He may deserve. Not because He doesn’t deserve it but because I know How he works with me. I understand how it works and I’m not necessarily the guy to mess with something that isn’t broken. Furthermore, I don’t need Him to tell me He’s around. Just like He knows I know my way Home.
I don’t need to know who the hero of my story is. Maybe I don’t want to know. I never have been central to my own life and it doesn’t seem like a good time to start.
It’s a common preconception that we have to be extraordinary to do extraordinary things. Jesus was and it’s a hard example to follow. I won’t lie. Extraordinary people are most tempted by the most ordinary things. Even Jesus was…
As true as that is, even ordinary people did extraordinary things too.
And I’ve found a little peace being just that.