Prime

First things first, I want to wish all of you a happy and eventful 2018.  If it’s already been a ride through the first week, I don’t know quite how to respond to that!  If it’s progressing, I hope that it continues to do so for you.

Now, onto the real point before I lose my train of thought on the matter.

If I haven’t mentioned it by now, I really have a strong dislike for math.  On the flip side of that, I have a strong appreciation for numbers.  So, while I was on my daily walk yesterday, I started to wonder about prime numbers in particular.  The word “prime” means a lot of varying things but the one thing that stands out, and in such a wonderful coincidence, is that it means the very best of something.  The best time of your life (prime of your life), the best example (prime example), or whatever else you can think to associate with the word.  But, what really set me on this path has nothing to do with numbers.

I am a huge science fiction guy.  I absolutely love it.  So, while I was walking, I was watching a clip from “Transformers: Dark of the Moon.”  Some people think it’s a terrible movie and I won’t get into a subjective discussion about it.  But, what I will like to talk about is why Optimus is such an excellent example of the term.

I don’t think it is so much of him being an example of leadership or morality.  Maybe it’s more along the lines of it being such a numbers thing.  It didn’t occur to me until I was really invested in how such qualities and characteristics aren’t so easily mirrored or duplicated.  Sure, we can have examples of its antithesis but never an instance of those things in another form.  So, I had the thought of, “What makes a prime so special?”  I came up with many possible reasons but the one I can’t escape from is this:

A prime number is divisible only by itself and one.

What the hell does that even mean?  Well, numerically speaking it means that the number… say… 13… is only equally divisible by itself (13) and the number one.  Up front, that doesn’t mean a bunch, does it?  Well, when you’re trying to figure out what makes a person so uniquely them, that word can factor into so much more than numerical meaning.

As people, we try so hard to multiply our success.  We feel like whatever formula we’ve used to find professional success will translate into our personal, spiritual, or emotional lives.  So many of us find that to be lot easier said than done and I find myself among the many who feel this way.

So, why is it so hard?  If we can find success in one area of life, what makes it so damn difficult to just copy and paste?  As the saying goes, “The devil is in the details.”  The amount of work it takes to achieve and maintain success in one area is one thing but to duplicate it is something completely different.  So, why is so different?  Why is such a thing so hard?

There are two main reasons.  The first one being is that success cannot merely be copied.  We cannot clone the routine of a successful person and expect it to work for us.  Our individual circumstances, strengths, and weaknesses make it a tough challenge to duplicate.  We are just too different and that isn’t a bad thing!  The second reason being is that we want our own success.  We want every bit of who we are as people to be as relevant as the results themselves.  We don’t all break the same.  The same things that can make us special can make others fall into obscurity or vice versa.  It’s those things that make us who we are.  Which brings me to the point…

The point of being in the prime of anything isn’t necessarily to achieve or sustain.  The point here is to take the opportunity to take who you are and let your uniqueness and individuality build something that may be worth having.  Each aspect of our lives create unique challenges that must be resolved with unique solutions.  Why spend time trying to copy what worked for another when you’re not them?

So, as we move forward, use the best of what makes you unique to make something something equally unique.  I don’t think I’ve met anyone who would respond positively to their clone or even would want to meet their clone for that matter.

 

Besides, isn’t the best expression of who we are the expression we make ourselves?
-Kevin

 

Advertisements

Birthday Present

On Sunday, I celebrated my 32nd birthday.  Lunch with the family and I took my niece to the park to play.  Nothing really special.  You know, all the typical Facebook birthday wishes and texts throughout the day.  Then it hit me… 

As important as everything is to me, the challenge of getting older isn’t necessarily reminiscing about the past.  The challenge is not wanting to reinvent it with modern style. 

 (L-R) Me, my niece Lizzy, and Lonna(who might as well be my niece) 

So, as I was playing with Lizzy at the park, she was insistent that I play with her.  I was thinking to myself, “I am too big to be sliding down these slides or to be crawling around like a monkey.”  She didn’t care as much as I did.  She just wanted her uncle to play around with her… to take part in her adventure.  So, I did as any good uncle would.

Little did I really understand what was going on and the opportunity I had to make a transition out of one phase of life and into another.

There’s an inherent antagonistic element to change and it can be scary.  Nobody, so long as they’re willing, will admit that it it’s time to let it go… to retire, so to speak.

So, on the way home, I decided to let her play on a splash pad.  She was red in the face and it was hot… So, in she went!  Happier than a pig in poop…

And I wondered what one last hoorah would be like…

It’s a good thing that looking at it all now, I wouldn’t change anything.  Sure, things could be better.  No disputing it.  And there are times where I’d give anything for another go… one more chance, right?

Being happy with what’s done won’t come from what you can or could do if given an opportunity.  Being happy comes from willing to let it stand and build another monument alongside it. 

So, as I move into this new phase of life, I encourage all of you who are doing the same to just let what’s behind you be and build something that is different and worthy to stand. 

“Hey… you be careful out there.”

Aye.

-Kevin

Cape

With this entry, I wanted to try something different.  I wanted to show whoever reads this thing a little more of who I am.  Not that I don’t dump myself in these things anyway… but, I really felt that with this one that I should do it this way…  So, here it is.  

Disclaimer:  There were about 20 different versions of this thing in my head and I had been writing it for a week… So… be grateful for the effort. 
Oh and another thing… the title is an acronym and what it stands for is hidden throughout the message.  If you’re ballsy enough to not Google it and you tell me what it means… I’ll figure something out. 

Yes, this is my handwriting… 

 This is where it got fun… 

 I seriously rewrote this page about six times… not kidding. 

This page was no easier… 

I couldn’t have scripted a better ending for this.
This entry was heavily influenced by Ray Lewis and his “52 Cards” speech.  Give it a listen.  It’s truly wonderful. 

 

 

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.

 

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…

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.

IMG_20170413_163016

IMG_0158[1]

-Kevin

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