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

 

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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

 

 

 

 

Blind Eye

Under normal circumstances, I would put some effort into how I would phrase all of this.  However, in my best Stephen A. Smith voice, I would say, “I don’t give a damn.”  Too many times do people, and I must say I’ve had it happen to me, get a proverbial shot in the face by the “love gun.”  So, it will be a great joy to deal some reciprocity.  Especially to those who use the word without restraint or competence.

I have severe fundamental issues with the word “love” and everybody who uses it.  For the most part, it is used to elaborate upon a degree in which we value something.  We “love” ice cream.  We “love” football.  We “love” pornography.  We “love” Jesus.  We “love” this thing or that thing.  The harsh reality is that we don’t love any of those things.  We are incapable of it because we use the word as a measure in which the degree of our intent is.  If we “love” ice cream, we will prioritize it as our preferred desert.  If we “love” football, it will take precedence over other responsibilities.  If we “love” pornography, it offers stimulation where our spouse falls short.  If we “love” Jesus, it is the religion we practice above anything else.  Are you getting the idea here?  We use the word as a way to define the value in context.  In other words, we use the word as a way to either define how much better we regard the thing that is spoken above something else.

Because of that, we use it as a method to manipulate others into situations that will ultimately call us out on what we choose to favor.  Abuse victims will tend to use this as a means to intervene and use the line, “If you really love it, you’ll [insert action here.]” It’s actually kind of sad…

People who don’t like ice cream get the cold shoulder against the people who do.

People who don’t like football get hung out to dry in favor of people who do.

People who watch pornography find people who share in it.

People who are receptive to Jesus won’t abide in people who don’t.

The default reaction is why I have come to believe that there really isn’t such a thing as love because of a compulsion to quantify their desire instead of simply acknowledging that it is there.  We have to be able to determine how much or how little of something we have instead of just being able to have it.  That’s the sad fucking truth about existence.  We invest so much in something so frivolous and ultimately irrelevant simply because we MUST be in possession of gross quantity.  We have to have the best or be the best.  We have to have the most of something.  It’s all ridiculous and utterly disgusting, to be honest.  Not because of how greedy it makes us seem or how we justify that greed by placing it in something honorable or something worth having… but because of just having the impulse that makes it seem necessary and it being a motive to go to any length to abide in that impulse. It only serves that we must identify as something “more or less” instead of identifying it as “different.”  As we all know, we tend to diminish the relevance of what is different because it is threatening to us.

Much to the chagrin of those set in their ways, what is different can and often does render the “here and now” moot and unnecessary.

 

Addicts may have different priorities and methods but they have the same goals as those who don’t.  How they choose to pursue those goals isn’t indicative of their worth and talent and the need to subvert them on those grounds is pejorative.  It’s degrading and just furthers that impulse to assign a value to something.  No matter how much we try and spin it so we can keep with our own standards…

 

The boots on the ground tell a different story.

 

The facts are simply this.  Humanity isn’t capable of love.  Personally, I don’t think the word “love” should be used like it is.  The word itself is a clever euphemism for just how much we need to define our need to articulate the degree in which we do something.  The word doesn’t change the notion that we possess a desire or compulsion to do those things.  As long as this is the case, there won’t be an environment conducive to the need to accurately articulate feelings.  Simply because of quantity and quality playing such a huge role for us, there’s an inherent and subjective desire to describe them in those terms.

Addicts can be addicted like those who share their compulsions.  The belief that they may or may not be happy is exactly why I’m making the point that “love” as we utilize and understand it, is impossible.  Humanity is simply incapable of articulating desire and intent without quantifying it.  So, what makes an addict’s “love” less than someone who isn’t an addict?  Simply put, the criteria we use would make the addict’s possession insufficient compared to the nonaddict.  Is the picture coming into focus?  Is your knob set to “receive” yet?  We can’t “love” something or someone if the reality of its existence is predicated upon how much we value it compared to our own arbitrary standard.  That, in itself, is prejudice and cannot produce favorably.

 

“Love” isn’t being lavish with affection or loyalty.  It isn’t the measure of our commitment or engagement.  It isn’t a tool to manipulate and coerce.  “Love” is an expression coined by man to articulate our need to exist quantitatively and to appease deities whose desire for it is insatiable.

 

The sad thing is the saying “love is blind” is a testament to the idea that it just has to be.  It requires an absence of calculated intent or desire.  It simply requires that intent or desire be present.  It cannot see how much or how little of anything that exists simply because it lacks measure.

Do you want to cherish your spouse?  Be there for them.  It isn’t a matter of how much you cherish them.  You just have to have that desire.

Do you want to live the rest of your life with your spouse?  Don’t wander from them.  It isn’t a matter of how much life you want to spend with them.  Time is finite.  Your commitment to that time can’t be.

Do you appreciate something?  Do so with honor.  Enjoy having it.  Its place with you isn’t based on how much you appreciate it.  Its place lies with knowing that you are capable.

 

So, anybody who will dare say they “love” anything is embellishing.  I simply think they don’t know what it is.  It’s hard to place value on something you haven’t experienced nor can you see something that hasn’t seen you.

 

And all this is completely absent from what The Bible says about “love.”  It doesn’t even say what “love” is.  All it does is elaborates on the characteristics of love.  Don’t get me started on God/Jesus.  They both do the same thing.  They aren’t “love.”  They are indicative of the characteristics of “love.”  Even then, they are very much so biased towards those who mimic those characteristics to any “honorable” level.  In which case, “honorable” is subject to who defines what it is.  But, that’s a different topic for another day…

 

The bottom line is this:  No soul, anywhere at any point, will know what “love” is.  So, for the sake of what it actually means, don’t use it.  If you adore something, say you adore it.  Saying you love it undermines the emotion behind it.  Say what you mean and mean what you say.  Articulate the feeling and intent.  I think, as a society, we are at a point where we can do that simply because we aren’t intellectually challenged.  Being intellectually lazy is a whole other discussion on its own.

 

Have intent.  Have desire.

How much of it is irrelevant.

If possessed, it will perpetuate.  It will not grow or diminish.  It will evolve as the situation evolves…

 

In spite of our own best intentions.

-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.”

 

 

 

Postcards to Home

Too often I find myself focused on where I am instead of where I’ve been or even necessarily where I’m going.  I don’t get the reasoning of being fixated on where you can be.  Sure, the aspirations and ambitions of the future are worthy of being heralded but the idea of holding such esteem on something that hasn’t arrived yet honestly baffles me.

If anything about the past few months has been asserted to me it’s that where I’m going is continually evolving and ever has a consistent face.  At times, it’s very dissuading and tumultuous.  Conversely, it’s also very refreshing and provides a sense of renewal and hope for the future.  It’s all of the events in between that shape the path that I am to take.

It’s been a very interesting trip, to say the least.  I’ve made stops in places I care to never visit again as well as been to places that I’d give almost anything to stay in.  As cliche as it all sounds, it feels like I’m on a tour of sorts.  The way I conceptualize my existence to this date has made a shift to be more indicative of this.  However, the need to continue to be “on tour” so to speak never really has driven me like it has.  I’ve always seen the journey to be taxing and I have always felt the need to be home more than I needed to be anywhere but here.  I always believed that home is where the heart is and I’ve also believed it to be stationary.  This is, much to my amazement, definitely not the case.

One of the lessons I’ve learned is that as much as we may or may not travel to the places of the world, we are always on the move.  We move within the boundaries of our own lives and in the boundaries of others.  The irony of it all is that we feel compelled to travel across the world but not within the bellows of our own existence or others.

I’ve taken the most joy in not going to places, wherever those may be but in being allowed inside the walls of new people and experiencing their existence from their point of view.  To me, that’s what my journey has been all about.  I haven’t felt more energized about anything else and as more opportunities arise for me to pursue this, I can honestly say that there is an increasing amount of hope in the future I’ve envisioned for myself.

Furthermore, as I continue to learn to see old places (faces) with new eyes instead of seeing new places with my old ones, my hope is to be allowed into and welcomed all the new towns I stop in along the way.

It’s been pure joy share in the joys, pains, tragedies, triumphs, and all the life moments in the middle in all the “towns” I’ve been welcomed into along the way… and I hope for the same in the 10,000 more I haven’t.

And I’ve never been happier to not be at home.

-Kevin

The 20/20 Experience

When I was a little boy, I loved cars.  To this very day, I still do.  But, all I really wanted to spend what is now my adult life doing was race.  I loved the competitive spirit, flying by the seat of your pants, and being within a shake of disaster… both literally and figuratively.  It took an appreciation of adrenaline, risk, skill, and trust that what you’ve built and who you’ve built your life with won’t come crashing down on you.

Over the years, I’ve come to know that life, in general, is likened to a race.  Even The Bible makes a reference to it.  There are a lot of ups and downs, twists and turns, and obstacles that happen to interfere with making it to the finish line.  It wouldn’t be much of a race if there wasn’t a finish, would it?  But, perhaps the biggest obstacle that we all face is love.

Talking about my teenage years and experiences is pretty tough for me.  Mainly because I had such a terrible time coping with all of the antagonizing situations and negative reinforcement that I had gotten from them.  I learned not to love myself.  I felt that desire… the spirit… and the dedication that I once had as a child was gone.  In its place, degradation, contempt, and a complete sense of helplessness and being unwanted set in.  The feeling of being abandoned because love, in general, had become so glaringly absent and critical in how I perceived myself.  I had become depressed and suicidal because I didn’t love myself.  I hated myself.  I hated who I had become.  I was empty inside.  There was nothing left.

As I got older, I learned what love really is.  It has a lot of forms but the feeling that it brings is the same.  It inspires.  It uplifts.  However, the pain that we’ve accumulated and a lack of trust and faith that we can be healed can be overwhelming.  It’s definitely a struggle to believe that we can arrive at a point where we can be capable to pursue all of the things that we once felt passionate about.  I also learned that it is a journey to be enjoyed.  Personal growth is a process that should be approached with an open mind and a loving spirit.  I didn’t understand that because I didn’t have love in my life.  I don’t mean the superficial love that we tell our friends or the type we feel when we’ve become attached.  I mean the type of love that can only come from being invigorated with passion and being driven by purpose or by someone whose passion reinforces your own.

But, just because I got older doesn’t mean I found love.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love cars.  I really do.  They have been such a big part of my life as I am so fascinated by them.  They are about as unique as we are.  They have their own personalities.  Some would even say that they are an extension of our own personality.  I would agree with them.  We can make them loud.  We can make them faster.  We can make them flashy.  We can make them so elegant that everyone can’t help but notice.  But, they also can die because just as easily as we can nurture them, we can neglect them.  And much like them, our ability to love can die if we don’t take care of it.

I’ve learned a lot of life lessons over the years but none as important as love is the basis of everything.  I spent a weekend in Ft. Worth and it was really an eye opening experience.  I’ve become acquainted with a lot of people and most of which I would call my friends over the years.  I would go as far as to say that I love them in more than a superficial manner.  But, loving them as I do didn’t necessarily make me feel like I could love myself.  It wasn’t until recently that I had found a glimpse of that love I had as a kid.

It takes a certain kind of personality to make your life less about yourself and more about others. To be so open with people you know and don’t know alike takes so much strength of character and an ability to place them in a level of priority above yourself… it’s a genuine moment of clarity and rejuvenating to the spirit of passion that lives within us all.  Furthermore, to surround myself with people who want to thrive on their own as well as see and assist others in finding their own passion gives me the faith that the race I run is for something… and worth it to continue.

Through all of the hurt and lack of faith, being put in a position to realize that I still have the passion to continue… and enough love to persevere even when I believed I didn’t… is a testament that we can recover from those wounds… and there’s more to life than just building walls of doubt, mistrust, and paranoia.  I’ve learned that a secret to life is passion… what that may be is as unique as we all are.  For success… for love… for finishing the race, even.

Or perhaps to start one…

“Don’t act like it’s a bad thing to fall in love (with me).” -Justin Timberlake

And it really isn’t such a bad thing…

-Kevin

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