Storm Chaser

I really don’t openly discuss my hobbies.  They are my own and they speak more about me than I ever could myself.  But, since this time of year is really one of my favorites not because of my birthday or that it is summer.  Rather, it is the time of year that severe weather season is full bloom.  I love the weather.  I love watching it.  I love being in it.  I love watching Mother Nature do her thing.

This particular thing though… much of the people I know are scared to go out and chase storms.  I can understand and respect the unpredictable and unstable nature of severe weather and how it affects people.  Not everyone can either appreciate or even thrive in unstable conditions.  Much less conditions that threaten their livelihood.  While people in their right mind are wise to keep their distance from these types of things, I find a certain appeal in being threatened.  There’s a certain excitement in knowing that the world around you can be challenging.  Not just in the way that makes you think of escaping danger or unnecessary risk; but, in giving you the opportunity to take the risk knowing that whatever lies ahead may be dangerous and that it can damage or perhaps even kill.  The excitement lies in the chase.

But, the dread lies in confrontation.

The way we approach life, at least I believe, can open a lot more doors for all of us if we approach it in much the same manner.  Don’t get me wrong, though.  I would like to think that I’m not fool enough to subject myself to turbulence and instability at every instance I could.  After all, storm chasing is a hobby.  There is a season in which where I can do this consistently or within a reasonable frame.  However, you never know when you’re going to find yourself in a situation that mandates a response to the climate.

I don’t necessarily like being in turbulent conditions; but, I can honestly say that there is an unimaginable amount of gain to be had when you’re “under the gun” so to speak.

Nobody said life was safe and that progress was made by the actions of a conservative body.  The common theme of progress is risk, it feels like.  Just how far one is willing to go… Just what one is willing to give up for the sake of something else…

“Risk is part of the game if you want to sit in that chair.” -William Shatner as Captain James T. Kirk “Star Trek: Generations”

 

I’m big enough to admit that I’ve weathered storms that I had no business being part of.  I’ve sat out storms I’ve wanted nothing to do with and I’ve born witness to the proverbial “perfect setup.”  But, I’m also big enough to admit that in the midst of all these instances, I have felt anything but excitement.  I’ve felt dread and I’ve felt fear.  I’ve been afraid.  But, that’s okay.  Right?  There’s nothing wrong with respecting dynamics beyond your control.  There’s nothing wrong with picking your battles, right?

Perhaps.  Perhaps not.

For every moment that you find yourself rooted in fear, angst, and doubt… there is a moment you can find yourself in a moment like this…

maxresdefaultShot May 27, 2013 by Brandon Ivey in TIV 2(Tornado Intercept Vehicle)

This picture was taken inside (YES INSIDE) the parent circulation of a strong EF-3 (Enhanced Fujita-Scale) or a weak EF-4 tornado.  Meaning, the team inside of this vehicle dared to drive into the funnel of a tornado.  Sounds ridiculous, right?  Perhaps even ludicrous or insane.  But, they weren’t going to get what they wanted from this storm being a safe distance away from it.

 

There has to be some point when we make the decision to not shy away from things because they aren’t safe.  Sometimes, being in the right place at the right time doesn’t mean that conditions are conducive to safety, security, or even certainty.

I happen to know for an absolute fact that being in the right place at the right time is shrouded with instability and the potential to damage or even destroy all that we’ve constructed at any given point.  For that reason, being anywhere but there has a certain appeal.  Who wants to be at Ground Zero for anything?  Who wants to see something get torn apart?

When, I feel the more appropriate and driving question is, “Who wants to see what you’re made of?”

 

Interesting thought, isn’t it?  Getting to see what you’re made of… seeing how you stand up to stress, antagonism, rage, fury, and any other element that can wear you down so a point where there’s nothing left.  Nobody wants to see how you stand up to things because nobody wants to see how you break.  But, the risk of breaking is necessary because how else will you know how you’ll endure?  For you to endure, you have to be tested.  The climate in which you stand can’t be consistent otherwise how you’re built will reflect consistency.  If you’re built for prosperity, how you’ll respond to adversity will overwhelm your inherent skills and talents.  If you’re built for adversity, you may not know how to embrace prosperity.  Or, who knows how you’ll respond to any given situation until you’re faced with it.

But, you’ll never know until you take the risk… embrace the challenge… find yourself face to face with what scares you the most.

Who knows… maybe that’s what chasing storms is all about.

 

Then again, maybe it’s the thrill of peril… or the opportunity to honker down, ride it out, and enjoy the show.

-Kevin

In honor of Matt Hughes (2010); Tim & Paul Samaras, Carl Young, and Richard Henderson (2013) and all those who have their own tornadoes to chase.

 

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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

 

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.

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-Kevin

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

Better Place

Anybody who knows me worth a damn these days know I’ve had two major issues that I’ve been having problems resolving:  Getting older and feeling guilty.  The getting older part is obvious but the feeling guilty part… not so much.

 

It’s been almost three years since one of the most human guys I’ve ever met passed away and I still haven’t gotten over the shock of it all, really.  There isn’t a day that goes by where something is said or done that doesn’t remind me of him.  Because of it, there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t feel guilty.

 

It wasn’t his time.  Bottom line.  It.  Was.  Not.  His.  Time.

I don’t care what anybody says.  There’s just no way I can accept that conclusion.

 

Sure, close to three years have come and gone.  There isn’t much I can do about it now, right?  I mean… I see his parents and friends post pictures on Facebook and wonder just what experiences he doesn’t get to be apart of because he’s gone.  It makes me sad.  It makes me sad for them because I know what that absence feels like.  I feel it every single day… and then the guilt sets in.  Not because he’s gone… not because I don’t wonder about those things myself as it pertains to the relevance in my own life… but because the one thing that makes it all what it is… I wonder if it will even be there when that moment arrives.

 

Since you’ve been gone, it’s been a wild goose chase trying to hunt you down.  It’s been tumultuous, at best, trying to keep you around.  It’s been an uphill battle fighting to grow an environment that could let you thrive and flourish.

 

When you left, you took my heart with you.  I desperately wanted it to be me.  I didn’t want to be here.  To this day, there’s a pretty big part of me that still doesn’t.  But, yet… here I am… and here, you are not.  I have to accept that and I have to move forward with that realization.

 

But, if there is one positive thing that I can take from you leaving… it’s this:  There is an awful lot of you around.  I see you everywhere.  A witty remark… a squirrel running up a tree… and… close friends speaking to me like you did that one night…

 

I’ve been assured time and time again that there wasn’t anything I could do or that it isn’t my fault… and maybe they’re right… but it doesn’t change that I really am guilty.  I’m guilty of being heartless.  I’m guilty of not taking care of it when I did have it.  I’m guilty for letting it run away and more to the point… wishing it would go away… and hoping it wouldn’t come back.

 

There’s no doubt in my mind that you’re far better off where you are than you ever could have been here.

 

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve struggled with the idea of actually getting older.  Especially considering that I am firm in my belief that I shouldn’t even be here.  But, since I am, I kinda have to be able to look at myself in the mirror everyday and come up with a good reason as to why I should drag myself around like I do.

 

My world, along with so many others, is far darker and colder because the affect you had on it has been long absent…

 

However, my heart was in a better place because when you took it, you gave so many pieces to other people who could take care of it far better than I ever could have on my own.  Who, in turn, saw the opportunity to return it back to me with a kindness that does nothing but make me smile… because I just know it’s something that you would have wanted me to have… and something I’ve desperately wanted.

 

It’s been a long road getting from there to here.  Perhaps one day soon, I can find it in myself to say that the guilt I feel with this whole deal just left.  Maybe I am worse off for having it…

 

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned that my heart has always been my favorite thing.  It added so much color and emotion to everything.  I’m just in awe of what it all could be now instead of what it was or… what I felt it should have been.

 

Perhaps, this isn’t a better place since you were here.

Perhaps, it’s a better place since you left.

 

But, that’s alright because you’re here anyway… and so am I.

-Kevin

 

 

Inspired by Rachel Platten’s song titled “Better Place.”

 

 

 

Just Stuff

Things have a habit of just happening.  A lot of the time it’s when we least expect them to and we aren’t ready for the impact that these events carry.  However, there are a few times in which these events are welcome and embraced as part of our ever-changing identity.

 

Recently, I had just begun to be intentional about a lot of things.  One of which was keeping a journal.  It isn’t about my daily activities or my feelings, well… not in the sense that we would write about them in a diary.  Rather, how these feelings manifest themselves in the two biggest facets of my life:  Personally and Professionally.  Truth be told, I didn’t have a lot of faith in the idea that critiquing and documenting the way I live my life wouldn’t inspire much change in it.

 

Boy, was I wrong.

 

Being able to be honest with yourself is one thing.  Holding yourself accountable is quite another and I’ve found that using a journal is a great way to do exactly that.  Once it’s on paper, you can’t get rid of it.  You can’t deny it.  It’s out there for anyone and everyone to see.  Furthermore, it’s an expression of what you truly feel and how those feelings alienate you toward what the circumstances regarding them.  It’s very hard to express yourself and at the same time be complicit in the notion that how things seem and how they actually are can be different.

 

In the last two weeks, the general theme that has surrounded the vision I’ve had is acknowledging my fears.  The fear of failing, in particular.  I’ll be open with you.  Most of my teenage to adult life, I have had plenty of reason to believe that I had been an unmitigated failure.  I had unfulfilled relationship after another.  I’ve been in positions where I wasn’t being gratified in terms of a career.  I had lost confidence in hope in the idea of being genuinely happy.  I’ve even gone as far as to say that I wasn’t ever going to get married and been vocal about how I believed that life was over for me.

 

So, as a result of these feelings, I decided that everyday (Starting Feb. 1st) I was going to write down my goals for the day and questions I needed to ask myself that would allow me to search for answers.  As a result, every day since then has yielded guidance and a place to go when my path strayed away from my vision.  It’s been a struggle, to be sure.  But, a welcome one.  It’s allowed me to keep myself in check.  That’s a new and refreshing change of pace after running rough shot all over the place for so long.

 

The whole experience for me has been like having a bag full of random things.  We carry all of these things wherever we go.  Whether it be material things or emotional baggage or whatever the case may be, it goes with us.  Whenever we stumble and lose control of that bag, we become panicked and frantically pick up the pieces and pull ourselves back together.  By doing so, we continue the project the illusion that we have everything under control when the reality is those very things dictate and manipulate how we portray our personal integrity.

 

But, God isn’t the kind of guy to trip us up and create a situation where we have to go through that kind of regrouping.  I’ve personally experienced (Here lately more so now than I ever have) that He is the type to take what we have in hand and ask, “Why is this so important?”  Why do we hold on to such frivolous things?  We don’t care if we lose our pen or if a penny falls out of our pockets.  We don’t have vested interests in those things.  On the flip side, we do have a vested interest in our feelings.  They are OUR feelings.  They BELONG to us.  What makes our feelings so different from that pen we lost or that penny we dropped?  They were once OURS.  They BELONGED to us.  Maybe it’s because that a penny or a pen is “just stuff.”

 

Anyone who knows me can attest to how stubborn and inflexible I can be.  One reason for that has been that I have been unwilling to forgive myself for a lot of things that have happened over the years.  I’ll own whatever I’ve had my paws on and I’m not afraid to admit it.  I’m not afraid to.  But, there have been things that I’ve also accepted responsibility for that weren’t mine.  In both cases, it’s been an insurmountable challenge to let go of these things regardless of how much or how often it’s put to me that it was necessary.

 

Today was a little bit different.  In these two weeks, I’ve had to learn how to be patient.  Being patient isn’t woven into anyone’s character.  It’s definitely an acquired talent, to be sure.  Throughout this process, one of the lessons has been that it’s unfair to ask God “When?”  Asking that question just means our faith and our intentions aren’t necessarily on the same page.  To make matters even more squirrly, God’s timing could very well be around the corner you’re about to turn.

 

When I walked into church this morning, a man that I’ve had bitter feelings toward for a long time now was leading worship.  It was already a bad morning for me.  I didn’t sleep too long and I was present to offer testimony as to how The Navigators had been helping me grow.  Preface:  I hate public speaking.  HATE IT.  But, to have to stand in front of a congregation I’m still getting used to and have to have a heartfelt expression in front of people I wasn’t ready to have that kind of talk with yet made it a lot more nerve wracking than it already was.

 

When I was at the podium, the first words out of my mouth were that initially I didn’t want to be where I am now.  I’m man enough to admit it.  I had been hurt enough.  I didn’t want to go through that process again.  Something my friend Tyler told me was that being around the right people can make or break an attempt at starting over.  Throughout the entire process, I had my doubts.  I’m big enough to admit that as well.  In the back of my mind, I knew it was inevitable.

 

While I was speaking, I had the realization that all of these failures or “pens/pennies” were exactly that:  Just failures.  Just another pen lost or a penny dropped.  In that moment, I came to know that there was a reason.  I was impatient.  I was bitter.  I didn’t want to leave.  I wasn’t ready to go.  Me… me… me…. it was… just me.

 

At the end, I had come to know what it really meant to be patient.  It meant that things will come when they are supposed to come.  Being patient meant that things come and go and circumstances change along with them.  Being patient helps build your faith in the things to come.  There are a lot of moving parts about the future.  Rushing them can throw a wrench into those plans and when it happens, we wonder just what the deal is.  Looking at it now, it’s a kick in our personal complacency.

 

At the end of the service, I knew peace.  I came to know that being patient would yield its own reward:  Forgiveness.

 

When I waited to speak with this man afterwards, I told him exactly how I felt and that I understood his position and in the contrast, we found that it was definitely a God thing to be where we both are now.  Even more than that, to have found some affirmation in that I was where I was supposed to be… needed to be and in the right moment to be there.

 

And of all the things I had found today, I had found that some of those “pennies” I had been hanging on to for so long… They didn’t matter anymore.  They didn’t matter because this man hugged me.  He shook my hand, hugged me, and told me how proud he was about how far I had come and encouraged me in the direction I was going.

 

That’s more important to me.  Don’t get me wrong.  Feelings are important because they are that bag we carry.  But, all of these things that work against us… doubt, fear, anguish, hate, bitterness… you name it…  To God, these are the “pens” and “pennies” that we care more about than we should and we can’t get so offended when He asks, “What is so important about this pen?  It’s just stuff.”

 

It’s just stuff, people.  It’s just stuff…

 

-Kevin

Fantasm

vison-1

Before anyone goes and critiques my artistic ability, let me preface myself by saying that I have very little to no graphical talent.  But, I will also say that the above picture is mine.  It isn’t a clone of anyone’s visual representations of an image.  It is mine.  Solely mine… not much to look at, but is my intellectual property.

Suffice it to say, I still have issues with the whole… being 30 thing.  It’s been since July and I still can’t honestly bring myself to accept that I won’t be getting any younger.  I know… I know… However, I do find some solace in the notion that eventually all of my hair will fall out.  One less thing to be conscious about, right?

Honestly, I’ve found that one of the things that has become increasingly difficult is to arrive at a decision that I would want my life to follow.  It’s not so much even a career choice or anything goal oriented.  It is definitely something reserved for someone a little more… youthful… and that is chasing dreams.

The more and more I look back now, the more and more I realize that I was bribed to give up the things I embraced as a child for more “grown up” things.  The paradigm is that as an adult, we have a certain responsibility to live in an ordered world and contribute to that world appropriately.  Whether it be that we contribute in a manner that benefits society as a whole or offers those around a glimpse into how we portray and delegate our talents to the world around us… it doesn’t matter to our peers or perhaps even parents because of some Seussian philosophical principle.  As a youth, I learned all too quickly that dreams are just that in the eyes of those who have lost something so precious… passion.

As adults, we’ve been to a degree indoctrinated against pursuing our interests because it conflicts with our status as adults.  Too often we’ll be accused of being irresponsible or childish for not being secure.  While, for the most part, I would agree with such an assessment.  We will forego whatever obligations we’ve already made for an opportunity to regain a piece of what made us special.  While, some would argue that we never really lose those attributes, they definitely take a spot on the shelf because of other “priorities.”

I, myself, have fallen victim to this… as I’m sure most of us either have or are in the process of doing so.  There’s nothing more damaging to anyone than failure.  Especially when the opportunities you have come few and far between and you know that they diminish with each passing moment.  Personally, I’ve found very few things lately (Consequently since I turned 30) to be deserving of such an emotional investment and it is a very lofty investment.  Sure, I have talents that I would love to see work for me… literary composition, for example.  But, as a child I did enjoy drawing.  As I got older, it shifted from graphical artistry to music.  I’m very fortunate for music to still play such a role as it did when I was younger.  It just affects me in different ways now than it did then.  Most people wouldn’t think that I was a child that had the talent to take those dreams and manifest them into something relevant or even something substantial.  I’m not saying that my childhood was debilitating.  I was very much so encouraged as a child.  I had a very good idea of what I wanted to do… and perhaps I still do.  But, I’ve found that something that had diminished over the years along with a multitude of other things was the conviction to pursue my dreams… passion to persevere.

It’s a sad realization to know that you’ve been bought.  I can admit it.  I’ve been bought.  Not by any one particular person or principle… but I’ve been bought by this illusion of what “productivity” is and that to maintain this illusion of what that represents, I’ve had to give up something very unique and special.  Or, at the bare minimum reduce its capacity to affect change in my life.  The damnedest thing about this whole concept is how easily the process was and for how little it took to take us away from the things we’ve held most dear.  Some of us can’t tolerate losing this quality.  Some people can part with it for the sake of assimilating into a new environment.  However, all of us in the end have to come face to face with the idea at some point or another we would have to choose between chasing dreams and being productive…

As we get older, it gets progressively more difficult to make a distinction between the two because we’ll make decisions that enable the other.  Such as, we will pursue higher education to facilitate our intentions of taking a position in a certain field.  Or, we will have to let go of those aspirations because Life throws a curve ball such as having a child early or having to assume “adult” responsibilities early.  For me, it was the latter.  I’m big enough to admit that I wanted to be free.  One thing I didn’t consider was that that I wasn’t big enough to be free.  I don’t mean “big enough” as in if I was mature enough.  I mean in such a way where that my responsibilities as an adult would not have consumed my desire and passion to see my dreams through.  Instead, those aspirations were subdued by things like money and success… at least from societal point of view.  As time wore on, I always said that at some point, I would go back and make an effort to realize some of these things only to be dissuaded by accepting that my responsibilities would have always taken precedence and always been more important.  Hence, why we choose to work on “projects” in our “free time.”  Kinda like this entry.  Ironic, isn’t it? =)

But, being a person that is occasionally able to realize when I’m getting the shaft, I’ve come to know that passion is a lot like faith… having passion gives you just enough reason to continue what seems to be a futile pursuit.  Just in the same faith gives you enough reason to believe that no matter what may or may not come, it will never be enough to convince you to quit.  I’m also big enough to be able to speak freely about how many times I’ve wanted to quit.  I’m big enough to speak freely about how I wanted to throw everything away because the harsh reality of my life was devoid of something that things like faith, passion, and dreams created… Vision.

As I got older, I would look back and often wonder just where I could have made better decisions.  I won’t say that I’ve made some “wrong” choices.  However, I’ll be the first to admit I’ve made some very questionable if not downright asinine or even brain dead ones.  But, I’ve also come to know that getting older created very unique opportunities to gain insight and dispense wisdom to those who are in a season when they are facing the same choices I’ve already endured or continue to face every day.  I’ll also be one of the first to admit that as… consistent… as I’ve been about making decisions, I’m hardly as adamant about making decisions that sustain my vision for identity.  Making decisions about regulating your daily exploits is absurdly easy… as it should be.. but the real question is that making decisions that feed your imagination and creativity just as easily.  There’s a saying… feeling comfortable means you’re feeling controlled.  Boy, was I being controlled… because any time I’ve felt uncomfortable, there was no control… I was free… and I had forgotten what it felt like to exist in such a way.

Which, brings me to the picture above… Never minding what it actually is, it’s representative of a project that I’ve always wanted to complete.  But, much like a lot of other things that are within my personal orbits of obligation and responsibility, it’s spent too much time on the outer reaches than it has ever spent being close to the center that is my attention.  Now that I have an opportunity to show it the love and attention I believe it deserves.  If you want to know what it is… just ask me.  I digress…

The truth here is that we abide in the choices we make.  We abide in the things we love not because of how they make us feel… but we abide in those things because we choose to.  As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to know and appreciate just how difficult change really is.  Not because of new ideas or new scenery… but because of the progressive rise in difficulty to choose.  Change is a fundamental process of Life.. and I’m big enough to admit that I haven’t been living lately.  But, something I’m glad to become aware of is that all of the things that identified my childhood and captured my passion for the future are still with me as I’ve transitioned into adulthood.  They’ve followed me.  Not because out of some capacity of loyalty or trust.  Rather, because they’ve made a choice to love me in a way that I believe that no person ever could.  It’s awe-striking to see that even after all these years and as many times I’ve made choices that place things like “passion” and “vision” in a place where they don’t affect change…

That now, I feel them so completely and see them so clearly… and the invitation that they have given me to follow them leads me in a way that I haven’t felt since I was a boy.

Maybe because I haven’t taken a minute as an adult to ask that boy who so loved football, cars, the stars, and literary expression… how all of those things would fit in my bag as I traveled.

The boy didn’t care how… and neither should I.

-Kevin