Here we go!
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.
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.”
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.
P.S: Thanks, JP! As one racing fan to another, “Boogity! Boogity! Boogity!”
Often times, I’ve really wondered just what the word “living” actually meant. I mean, there’s gotta be more to what we do every day, isn’t there? I would hate to think that eating, breathing, sleeping, or working is very much or exactly what “living” is.
I am willing to be the first to admit that I haven’t done much living. Sure, I eat a lot. Sure, I breathe an excessive amount. I don’t sleep much. I never really did. As for work, I find myself spending a lot of time there. But, even in the midst of all of those things, I still have been wondering just what makes “living” so important.
Over the last five years or so, I’ve really had to come to terms with a lot of things that have happened. I’ve lost so much and I’ve gained so much. But, the manner in which all of these things have changed the sum of my life very often elude and confuse me. I still don’t quite know how to take everything. I mean, is this all too good to be true? Have I lost perspective? Am I being toyed with? All the questions that raise doubt and insinuate that things aren’t what they appear to be linger moving forward still exist. I suppose the real question is, “How do I endure without letting these questions change my motive?”
As I mentioned before, lots of things have changed for me over the last five years. But, it’s only been over the last three years that I’ve begun to understand what it all means. I’ve had to realize that it all means something and that it all has its place in the scheme of it all. Saying that all of these events haven’t impacted me is an understatement; but, their effect on me now versus what it could have been still feels like I haven’t learned anything about being where I am. Granted, I’ve gained some perspective and some wisdom (hopefully) about all of these happenings but one thing I haven’t learned (or understood) is how all of these things let me “live.”
Before this phase of my life I’m in now, I didn’t have much of a life or even one at all. It was devoid of meaning, purpose, and relevance. It was empty… damn empty. I wasn’t living in any sense or interpretation of the word. I lost my life.
One of my best friends said to me that if there was going to be any hope of recovering from the pain and salvaging what was left of whatever it was that I had, it was going to happen being around the right people. I didn’t know who the right people were. I had no idea what kind of situation that would look like. I had no idea. But, for me to figure all of that out took one big thing: risk.
The catch about taking risk is that we don’t really want to take that chance of giving up whatever we have, no matter how great or small, for the sake of something that may be better. If we felt that we had a better choice, we wouldn’t risk anything and just appropriate the things we wanted. Taking a risk makes us feel that we are vulnerable. Taking risks means that we are desperate. Taking risks means that whatever we have just isn’t enough…
It’s a difficult admission to make to anyone, especially ourselves, that our current state is inadequate. It naturally extends into our mindset and eventually our decision making. We protect whatever it is that we have because we don’t want to risk losing it and ending up with nothing. Or, ending up with something far worse than what we had in the first place…
That was me. That was my shitty life. Well, at least it used to be.
Learning how to take risks… take the chance… is a skill that I have yet to even begin to say that I have any level of proficiency. There are so many parts of me… about who I am… about who I used to be… that say that you haven’t really risked anything and that everything that has been granted to me is a result of being a desperate, lonely, and scared man. Someone to be pitied… someone to feel sorry for… and someone that deserved every cut, scrape, scar, bruise, and broken aspect of everything that was going on.
I chose to believe that. I wasn’t able to risk them being wrong. So, I didn’t. I couldn’t take that chance that I would lose. Lose what very little I had… lose my sanity… lose my Humanity. I couldn’t admit that I was vulnerable. Who wants to admit that? Our first thought is to admit that it is a sign of weakness. Totally not true. Admitting that you’re vulnerable doesn’t mean that you’re weak or inferior. Admitting that you’re vulnerable is a simple declaration that you’re nothing more or nothing less who you are. Everything that you have or don’t have… everything in abundance or in scarce supply… nothing more or less the person you are. That, in itself, is a HUGE risk.
Without going too much into it, I can say that taking risks are what “living” is all about. Sure, there are an infinite amount of reasons to choose not to do something. There are so many reasons to not… Nobody talks about the one reason… one… to take the risk… to take the chance on something that could ultimately lead to something so life-changing that everything changes.
I’m very fortunate to be in a situation now that affirms the importance of taking chances. I’m very fortunate to be in a situation where risk, whether it has yielded either positive or negative results, has affected change in my life. It has enabled me to have the vision to put aside things I have certainty in and have faith in my doubt and misgivings. It makes not knowing what the future holds okay. I don’t think I, or anyone else for that matter, could live knowing exactly how it all turns out. It makes… living… dull, boring, and predictable.
Earlier, I mentioned that I had no clue about what I thought “living” was. Maybe, now I do. I lost my life. I ceased living. I could have died. Some would argue that I did die.
But, in losing my life and being close to death, I found life and I am beginning to understand what in means to be living.
Because I understand what it means to be living… I also understand what it means to live.
Nobody ever became a legend by not.
Every single person who is one took the risks and chose to be.
And if they could, we can too.
Gotta risk it to get the biscuit.
It’s amazing just how much you can learn about yourself.
Whether it’s being at home or abroad… there’s always something new that your environment can educate you to about just who we really are. I’m not necessarily talking about personality traits or instances when we defy our own norms but revelations that can create irreconcilable differences between the person we are as we exist now and the person we are meant to be, can be, we once were, or whatever else we can think of that allows us to give definition to existential differences.
But, one thing I’ve learned “studying abroad” was that we, as human beings, are never going to be unified in that sense. There are just too many crises that we face that create moments that we are forced to agree or disagree with our contrasting identities. Now, don’t confuse this with multiple personalities or anything that may imply mental illness. We are all crazy in our own way. Very few of us are by definition “sane.” Hell, I don’t think any of us are. We go at it with ourselves so much that I don’t think it’s possible to look at ourselves and not make the accusation. However, the inevitable inclusion of those around us and consequently those we care for makes us wonder.
I’ve come to hold true that whatever our journey is for, the space between where we are now and the destination is a battleground. Whether we question the dignity a beard may add (as men) or does wearing lingerie inhibit a woman’s ability to be modest (if you’re a woman)… or extending beyond the superficial and asking questions that challenge the very nature of your own being… whatever the road you travel, the lengths you’ll go to find resolution will create plenty of opportunity to see just how divisible we really are.
The doubt and insecurities that being in a transitional phase bring can be crippling to the personal going through it. However, there will always be those who take sides. There are those who feed the necessity and value of either one of those identities and the conflict between those aspects deny the idea of being a unified entity. However, there’s always more going on than meets the eye and that element gives us hope.
The apparent schism plays an important role in our overall growth. The split doesn’t mean that there is something wrong with us. It just means that we have an internal conflict of interest and those aren’t always bad things either. There are things we may want to accomplish that aren’t always conducive to our personality construct as it stands. Conversely, there are things that we have already done that compromise our future. It’s a part of the growing pains we go through. It’s a fact of life. We will be at odds with ourselves. We are what we are.
In the midst of all of that confusion, there will be a time that someone will ask who we just happen to be… perhaps the hardest hitting question we can ever ask ourselves would be, “Do we really want to know who is responsible for saving our own ass?” Sure, I think we would all like to know. But, is it honestly necessary? As a Christian, we acknowledge that God can move in mysterious ways and we can’t always put our finger on where and when things were set in motion. But, we can feel comfortable attributing that to Him.
Sure, I can go with that. Faith is important and it shows. Nothing wrong with having it and putting it to use.
However, there are critical moments… and we may not know who is who… that will have everything hanging in the balance… and we won’t know who is really doing what is necessary to achieve the goal. I’ve had more than enough of those instances in life… and even some now… and I’ve been left asking that very question. I can honestly and truthfully say that God hasn’t always been that answer. It’s not a bad thing because I understand that He can be “that way.” Sometimes, He just wants you to do things yourself. It is quite a talent to be self-sustaining. It’s an even bigger talent to be able to choose not to be.
I can save myself. I’ve been trained and given the necessary equipment to just that. It’s part of my journey… and I’ve made some friends being on this path. I’ve made some enemies. I value the person I was as equally as I value the person I am now because I’ve been made whole by them because they compliment each other. I don’t have to grant God the reverence He may deserve. Not because He doesn’t deserve it but because I know How he works with me. I understand how it works and I’m not necessarily the guy to mess with something that isn’t broken. Furthermore, I don’t need Him to tell me He’s around. Just like He knows I know my way Home.
I don’t need to know who the hero of my story is. Maybe I don’t want to know. I never have been central to my own life and it doesn’t seem like a good time to start.
It’s a common preconception that we have to be extraordinary to do extraordinary things. Jesus was and it’s a hard example to follow. I won’t lie. Extraordinary people are most tempted by the most ordinary things. Even Jesus was…
As true as that is, even ordinary people did extraordinary things too.
And I’ve found a little peace being just that.
Things have a habit of just happening. A lot of the time it’s when we least expect them to and we aren’t ready for the impact that these events carry. However, there are a few times in which these events are welcome and embraced as part of our ever-changing identity.
Recently, I had just begun to be intentional about a lot of things. One of which was keeping a journal. It isn’t about my daily activities or my feelings, well… not in the sense that we would write about them in a diary. Rather, how these feelings manifest themselves in the two biggest facets of my life: Personally and Professionally. Truth be told, I didn’t have a lot of faith in the idea that critiquing and documenting the way I live my life wouldn’t inspire much change in it.
Boy, was I wrong.
Being able to be honest with yourself is one thing. Holding yourself accountable is quite another and I’ve found that using a journal is a great way to do exactly that. Once it’s on paper, you can’t get rid of it. You can’t deny it. It’s out there for anyone and everyone to see. Furthermore, it’s an expression of what you truly feel and how those feelings alienate you toward what the circumstances regarding them. It’s very hard to express yourself and at the same time be complicit in the notion that how things seem and how they actually are can be different.
In the last two weeks, the general theme that has surrounded the vision I’ve had is acknowledging my fears. The fear of failing, in particular. I’ll be open with you. Most of my teenage to adult life, I have had plenty of reason to believe that I had been an unmitigated failure. I had unfulfilled relationship after another. I’ve been in positions where I wasn’t being gratified in terms of a career. I had lost confidence in hope in the idea of being genuinely happy. I’ve even gone as far as to say that I wasn’t ever going to get married and been vocal about how I believed that life was over for me.
So, as a result of these feelings, I decided that everyday (Starting Feb. 1st) I was going to write down my goals for the day and questions I needed to ask myself that would allow me to search for answers. As a result, every day since then has yielded guidance and a place to go when my path strayed away from my vision. It’s been a struggle, to be sure. But, a welcome one. It’s allowed me to keep myself in check. That’s a new and refreshing change of pace after running rough shot all over the place for so long.
The whole experience for me has been like having a bag full of random things. We carry all of these things wherever we go. Whether it be material things or emotional baggage or whatever the case may be, it goes with us. Whenever we stumble and lose control of that bag, we become panicked and frantically pick up the pieces and pull ourselves back together. By doing so, we continue the project the illusion that we have everything under control when the reality is those very things dictate and manipulate how we portray our personal integrity.
But, God isn’t the kind of guy to trip us up and create a situation where we have to go through that kind of regrouping. I’ve personally experienced (Here lately more so now than I ever have) that He is the type to take what we have in hand and ask, “Why is this so important?” Why do we hold on to such frivolous things? We don’t care if we lose our pen or if a penny falls out of our pockets. We don’t have vested interests in those things. On the flip side, we do have a vested interest in our feelings. They are OUR feelings. They BELONG to us. What makes our feelings so different from that pen we lost or that penny we dropped? They were once OURS. They BELONGED to us. Maybe it’s because that a penny or a pen is “just stuff.”
Anyone who knows me can attest to how stubborn and inflexible I can be. One reason for that has been that I have been unwilling to forgive myself for a lot of things that have happened over the years. I’ll own whatever I’ve had my paws on and I’m not afraid to admit it. I’m not afraid to. But, there have been things that I’ve also accepted responsibility for that weren’t mine. In both cases, it’s been an insurmountable challenge to let go of these things regardless of how much or how often it’s put to me that it was necessary.
Today was a little bit different. In these two weeks, I’ve had to learn how to be patient. Being patient isn’t woven into anyone’s character. It’s definitely an acquired talent, to be sure. Throughout this process, one of the lessons has been that it’s unfair to ask God “When?” Asking that question just means our faith and our intentions aren’t necessarily on the same page. To make matters even more squirrly, God’s timing could very well be around the corner you’re about to turn.
When I walked into church this morning, a man that I’ve had bitter feelings toward for a long time now was leading worship. It was already a bad morning for me. I didn’t sleep too long and I was present to offer testimony as to how The Navigators had been helping me grow. Preface: I hate public speaking. HATE IT. But, to have to stand in front of a congregation I’m still getting used to and have to have a heartfelt expression in front of people I wasn’t ready to have that kind of talk with yet made it a lot more nerve wracking than it already was.
When I was at the podium, the first words out of my mouth were that initially I didn’t want to be where I am now. I’m man enough to admit it. I had been hurt enough. I didn’t want to go through that process again. Something my friend Tyler told me was that being around the right people can make or break an attempt at starting over. Throughout the entire process, I had my doubts. I’m big enough to admit that as well. In the back of my mind, I knew it was inevitable.
While I was speaking, I had the realization that all of these failures or “pens/pennies” were exactly that: Just failures. Just another pen lost or a penny dropped. In that moment, I came to know that there was a reason. I was impatient. I was bitter. I didn’t want to leave. I wasn’t ready to go. Me… me… me…. it was… just me.
At the end, I had come to know what it really meant to be patient. It meant that things will come when they are supposed to come. Being patient meant that things come and go and circumstances change along with them. Being patient helps build your faith in the things to come. There are a lot of moving parts about the future. Rushing them can throw a wrench into those plans and when it happens, we wonder just what the deal is. Looking at it now, it’s a kick in our personal complacency.
At the end of the service, I knew peace. I came to know that being patient would yield its own reward: Forgiveness.
When I waited to speak with this man afterwards, I told him exactly how I felt and that I understood his position and in the contrast, we found that it was definitely a God thing to be where we both are now. Even more than that, to have found some affirmation in that I was where I was supposed to be… needed to be and in the right moment to be there.
And of all the things I had found today, I had found that some of those “pennies” I had been hanging on to for so long… They didn’t matter anymore. They didn’t matter because this man hugged me. He shook my hand, hugged me, and told me how proud he was about how far I had come and encouraged me in the direction I was going.
That’s more important to me. Don’t get me wrong. Feelings are important because they are that bag we carry. But, all of these things that work against us… doubt, fear, anguish, hate, bitterness… you name it… To God, these are the “pens” and “pennies” that we care more about than we should and we can’t get so offended when He asks, “What is so important about this pen? It’s just stuff.”
It’s just stuff, people. It’s just stuff…
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.