Peace of Mind

I will rarely express my political views about anything because I find them to be utterly useless in any social arena.  I find it equally useless to talk about social issues because ultimately the discussion breaks down into a left vs. right argument instead of a discussion that yields problem solving techniques and solutions.  But, today will be a little different.

First off, let me say this:  I don’t have all of the answers nor will I attempt to justify or articulate the reasons why for all of these things that are happening in America today.  However, I will say that as a child from a military family, a former athlete, and a man who has had to deal with some consequences of being a minority, I feel that I should speak on some of them.

1) Racism in America:  First off, let me define through a practical application of what racism is.  Racism is the isolation of an ethnic group by either denigrating single or multiple groups by another in an effort to improve the status of another.  For example, Adolf Hitler was a racist.  The KKK, at the time of their establishment, was racist.  You folks get the idea.

Part of the problem is that everyone in the NFL who is kneeling to activate themselves in the face of oppression isn’t helping their cause.  They’re actually being more divisive.  What these men don’t understand is that their objection is cultural and not legislative.  The problem isn’t the senseless killing.  The problem is that the protests are by men who embrace their heritage but don’t condone the negative images that it portrays.  You see these men mimicking the mannerisms and behaviors of their successful peers but don’t pay attention to what brings that success especially with regards to music.  Some of the elements include drugs, guns, violence, and the open resentment of authority.  Now, I understand that some of these people don’t have the luxury of living in an environment that don’t produce a better opportunity at a life where one doesn’t have to worry about things like that.  I totally get that.  But, those things don’t necessarily make you obligated to “be about that action” as Marshawn Lynch would say.  The sad thing is that if one wants a better life for themselves, they would be accused of “selling out.”  You can’t act the part and live the life and not expect to be treated as a degenerative influence.  Now, some of the shootings were bad.  I talked with a Canyon PD officer who shared his thoughts and opinions and I found myself to be in agreement.  His ethnic background is irrelevant as it compares to his objectivity within the situation.  He said that some were bad and some were justified.  I agreed with him.  It doesn’t mean I’m an “Uncle Tom.” It doesn’t mean that I’m an enemy of my race.  It means that I can’t sit here and condone the actions of people just because they refuse to be accountable for their individual actions or choices.  You can’t act a certain way that promotes antagonism and expect to be treated fairly.  Simply put, you get what you give.  If you offer a reason to be mistreated, the odds are you will be.  You can’t stand around and disrespect authority and seek a fair and just response.  Now, I get that this isn’t always the case but in my experience, I get treated much in the same way I treat them.

Finally, if you want to work towards a solution for racism, here’s one:  Work to end it across the board because black people wanting equal and fair treatment for themselves is inherently racist.  Equality isn’t something you can take from someone and add to yourself.  It isn’t a finite resource to be fought over and coveted.  History is replete with examples of people warring over such a thing only for the victor to be given more avenues to further subjugate and marginalize each other.  It’s unfortunate but as a people, we are incapable of demonstrating the necessary ability to not commit acts of ethnic patriotism, for lack of a better way to put it, against one another.
2) Protesting the Anthem:  As a military child, I will always support the American Flag and National Anthem.  This country we live in isn’t perfect but the total disrespect being shown by athletes during the ceremony is contemptible.  Men and women have died so you can sit there and demonstrate your discontent with the social climate.  You can express that all you like; however, there are places in this world where you would be executed for such things.  You have a problem?  Okay, power to you for offering a solution.  But, you’re not offering solutions.  You’re using your profession as a platform for political and social reform.  You’re being paid millions to play a game.  If you want to affect change, do it through affecting policy or the climate in your community.  You won’t do it through your demeanor at work because some people would rather fire you than have to deal with your personal circus in the workplace.  If you ever doubt that, you can ask Kaepernick, Terrell Owens, Greg Hardy, Ray Rice, or any other person who has red flags because of their personal behavior or politics.  Honoring your home, despite its flaws, speaks more about you than complaining about the injustices you do not suffer.  You don’t have to be a patriot.  Just don’t be a divisive influence because it makes your hypocrisy more evident when you protest and do nothing to promote positive changes. 

I get you don’t like the state of affairs.  Nobody is accusing you of being oblivious or ignorant of them.  What you are being accused of is being an idle force.  If you’re protesting, you can also be active in the community and use your voice productively.  If you’re not, you’re merely an inert element in a turbulent situation.  Which sadly translates to being a part of the problem by not being part of the solution.  Sorry athletes, you’re not doing much of anything unless you’re promoting change.  Donating money doesn’t mean you’re doing anything, either.  You gotta be in the field living out the kind of behavior you want others to show.

3) Trump’s Comments:  Oh boy, did he drop a bomb here.  But, his comments are indeed fair and here is why:  If any one of us walked into our workplace and started a movement that was clearly divisive and disruptive to the integrity and quality of the product, we would be fired for it.  Plain and simple.  The hitch here is that the players are ultimately accountable to the fans and the owners have a responsibility to the fans.  The players are entertainers with no podium other than Twitter and Facebook to express themselves.  Trump used his podium, as the elected head of this country, to express his thoughts as to the social climate of the U.S.  Calling them a “son of a bitch” wasn’t wise but he did raise a good point.  They want to agitate an already inflammatory situation without dealing with the consequences.  As a result, they are angry for him expressing his discontent with their actions.  For better or worse, Trump has to bear the consequences of what comes out of his mouth just like we do.  Unfortunately for him, the spotlight is a lot brighter for him than it is for an athlete.

His comment wasn’t racially motivated.  If anything, it was patriotic and in defense of the sacrifices the military makes daily to preserve the American way of life.  Or, at the very least, what we hope it one day can be.  Furthermore, any person who has a problem is welcome to go somewhere else.  There’s nothing saying they can’t go anywhere that is more amenable to their sensibilities.  But, since they would rather stay and voice their issues, it isn’t as big of a problem as they want to lead others to believe.  As evident as it is, keeping quiet just isn’t an acceptable option.  You can ask Dez Bryant about that. 
As always, these are my thoughts and opinions.  I welcome discussion and your thoughts.

Until next time…

Kevin

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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!”

 

Fantasm

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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