The Light of Day

So, I hope everyone’s Thanksgiving was good!  I spent mine laid out on my den floor with the stomach flu and bronchitis.  Still, it was a good time because I got to catch up on those important hours of sleep!  Still trying to recover though… ANYWAY…

I’m going to get all mushy for this one.  I’m not necessarily a fan of Jimmy Fallon but I saw this video on Facebook the other day about how his mother had passed.  I know that death is an inevitable part of life but these types of things hit pretty close to home for me.

I didn’t have the luxury of having a mom in the house.  Don’t worry.  It wasn’t because she was a drug addict or she had a streak of infidelity and ran off with another man.  I absolutely feel for the kids who get left in the wind on the fundamental premise that their parents didn’t want them.  I can personally vouch that we can be a handful and that you want to strangle us sometimes but that is either here nor there…

My mother died of ovarian cancer when I was a baby.  She didn’t get the chance to see me graduate, my first band concert, senior night during marching season, or any other of my personal highlights.  Some would argue that she was there in spirit but she wasn’t there in the way that I desperately needed her to be.

I don’t even have many memories of her.  Nothing but a vague impression and stories that my old man would tell… which is really the heart of this entry.  Not so much the fact that she is gone but the memories of her.  Or, even the memories of family and friends gone by that we find ourselves longing for in times of trial.  In those things we find life… we find meaning in the struggles, the ups and downs, the bitter sting of defeat and the exaltation of victory.

We search, everyday, for something tangible to make memories stand out and make them special.  Sometimes it’s who we are with, where we are, or even what we are doing.  But, it’s always something tangible… always something on which we can lay or hands.  Otherwise, it’s just an empty gesture that we engage in daily and take for granted.

It isn’t very often that we come face to face with the element that gives life.  It isn’t such a thing that we can buy in a store or find in our friends because we can’t lay hands on what makes one instance much more memorable than any others.  As people, we have the tendency to place value on things which we can place our hands and as a result, we find ourselves lacking something that we can determine as “real.”  Our interests lie in the results and not necessarily the means.

BUT…

There are times when we do come face to face with life and each time is a unique opportunity to make something special… to make memories that bring life back to us instead of it being a monument of days passed like we do now. 

We don’t know with whom, when, or where we may find this elusive thing but all of us know it when we recognize its presence and importance as a companion.

Or, in my personal instance, a storyteller and the path I’ve been been on has been long, tedious, and tiresome.

Occasionally, I’ll get my hand squeezed three times and it’s made it known that I’m in good company and know that I’m in the right place. 

Just like today… 

-Kevin

P.S:  Bumblebee can tell the story much better than I ever could and he actually inspired most of this.  Along with Mr. Fallon and Taylor Swift’s song “New Year’s Day.”

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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!”

 

Somewhere Over The Rainbow

As of right now, I can honestly say that there hasn’t been more of a scratchy and rough spot in my life as there’s been right now.

I’ve always felt that I was in the most trouble or danger as when I feel the most comfortable.  I feel like I’ve had to lead a very Spartan lifestyle.  I feel like I’ve always had to be able to pick myself up at a moment’s notice and be ready to transplant myself somewhere else at a moment’s notice.  It’s just never been me to feel somewhere… safe.  I’ve never felt safe… with anyone… anywhere.  I take that back…

I’ve felt safe when I’ve felt like dying.

Maybe it is the sense of finality… or the acceptance of things you couldn’t change… or just the the score was finally settled.  I’ve never felt more at home… comfortable… accepted… as when I talk about dying.  Personally, as morbid as it sounds, I can’t wait to die.  But, not for the reasons you may think…

Every night, I ask myself this question, “Did I do anything today that earned me another chance to do something worth doing with my life?”  Many times, I answer this question with a resounding “No, I did not.”  It makes me wonder just how many more chances will I get?  How many more days will I have to do something I’ve always wanted to do… or meant to do?  To be perfectly honest, I want that number to be as low as possible.

Not because I actually want to die… as the overtones really suggest to the contrary… I’m actually quite comfortable with my mortality.  I embrace death.  Life is a journey and death is an inevitable part of it.  As one journey comes to an end, we must embrace the opportunity to begin another one.  Personally, it’s hard for me to relate to people because I value the act of living a lot differently than nearly everyone I associate with do.  However, this gives me a unique perspective on just how much life is in what we do instead of how many days to live we are given.

Lately, I’ve found that I haven’t been putting much into my days… and I apologize.  I’ve done things that I’m not proud of.  Perhaps, the worst of those things was when I was willing to deprive those who care about me the love, affection, adoration, and respect they deserve because I was selfish and felt as if they would be better off if I weren’t around.

Maybe I was right… maybe they are better.  They deserve to have someone around who wouldn’t abandon them or abuse their character.  We, as people, deserve so much better than to be wounded and to go about our lives in a manner that reflects those assaults.  When you think about it, how many people actually want someone who bears the marks of a turbulent and abrasive life?  Honestly?  Why have a piece of coal when you can have a bright, shiny diamond?

Nobody realizes just how deflating that whole concept is until it happens to them.  But, I won’t excuse human nature.  It’s natural for us to want what we feel we can’t have.  It’s natural for us to undervalue so many aspects to our own character and personality that we inflate our desires way beyond their value that we begin to extend ourselves so that we can afford those things.  For me, there are those who would argue that the summary of my own experiences, emotions, and essence are too valuable to waste.

How I do not share their opinions…

However, there’s an aphorism that says, “Life is like a rainbow.  You need both the rain and sun to make its colors shine.”

Even throughout this whole journey of discovery that I’ve embarked upon since April, a lot of the ringing questions that put me on this path still remain.  Have I done anything today that someone will look at tomorrow that asks the same questions I did yesterday?”  I have a very hard time accepting the idea of someone actually learning something from me.  I just don’t think that there is any… value… in any combination of my three “E’s” for someone to make an investment.  And as the storm rages on in my world and as the effects of being weathered become more apparent…

“This gift that you gave me for my birthday. You never got to tell me why you gave it to me or what it means… but I think I know. I think that you appreciate that there are extraordinary men and women and… extraordinary moments when history leaps forward on the backs of these individuals… that what can be imagined can be achieved… that you must dare to dream… but that there’s no substitute for perseverance and hard work… and teamwork… because no one gets there alone… and that, while we commemorate the… the greatness of these events and the individuals who achieve them, we cannot forget the sacrifice of those who make these achievements and leaps possible.” -Gillian Anderson

I often think to myself… What a wonderful world this place really is… that we can dare to dream… and ask, “Why can’t I?”  “Why can’t I have Life in my days?”  “Why can’t I have a legacy?

“Why can’t I mean something to someone…”

Somewhere over the rainbow… dreams really do come true.

-Kevin

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