Let Go

There are things that I keep buried in some deep capsule within my soul. These are dark things, things I should release out into the endless atmosphere to fade away and explode, but no, I stubbornly hold on. In my mind and heart are stored unnecessary parts of me that for some reason I feel the need to grasp to. It’s like someone places a tong-held coal into my hands and though it burns and hurts I won’t let go because I want to prove something. But I don’t even know what that something is.

We all have this hidden box of things we want to keep. Some people’s boxes hold intense envy and jealous emotions. Others hold secrets that refuse to be told, some embarrassing vices and sin. And some aren’t even boxes, they are something much deeper and more difficult to open, they are steel vaults full of regret and unmended hearts. For some, deep within their emotional vaults lay the remnants of an old relationship, a wound that won’t fully heal because they refuse to suture the cut.

No matter what it is, be it addictions, hate, or even just a hopeless hope, we all have things we need to let go of to have a better and happier life. It might seem impossible to empty our entire box of issues, or crack open our vault to let a few things out, but we can and we must. Perhaps we will never fully let go of everything, for life throws so much at us, but if we can work toward an existence where we are always trying to empty that injurious capsule that we have buried inside us, surely our load will be lighter, and our life fuller.

Maybe we have an old friend that did something absolutely unconscionable. How could we ever forgive them? What we don’t realize is that we aren’t simply carrying out justice for their wrongdoing, we are harboring poison within our own bodies if we do not let go, if we do not forgive and move on.

Maybe an old lover has left us, years later, with a damaged heart and a complete lack of hope for the future. Maybe the love was too great to be duplicated let alone topped. But this is only true if we cannot let go. If we set free the past, our future regains its limitless potential.

Maybe we have a certain predilection for something that only brings sadness unto ourselves and others. Maybe it’s an addiction to anti-depressants,  maybe it’s a volcanic lack of devotion and loyalty, maybe it’s unbridled selfishness. And as all addictions, habits, and forms of life are, it is hard to change and easy to say, “That’s just how I am.” But a simple decision to let go, as trite as it sounds can boomerang good things back into your life.

So let go. Look deep into the portion of you that you try to forget about, grab your demons by the neck, unchain them, and let them go.

 

“I realize there’s something incredibly honest about trees in winter, how theyr’e experts at letting things go.

~Jeffrey McDaniel

let go

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How to be Perfect

“To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.”

~Winston Churchill

 

The word perfect is really kind of unsettling. It’s like an unrealistic goal that we are all racing towards without instructions or any real hopes of attainment. Most of us would kill for perfection even in one little sector of life; to be a perfect spouse, to have perfect skin, a perfect metabolism, a perfect mind, or even just a perfect baseball swing. But at its roots, perfection is not actually this unattainable thing. To be perfect does not actually mean we are without mistakes, bereft of flaws or that we float through life without barriers, faults, or tragedy.

It’s our English definition and assumption of the word that screws everything up. Let’s rewind to the Greek version of the word before Latinization and subsequent bastardization into the English vernacular. The Greek word for perfection is teleios. Now teleios has a completely different connotation, one that makes much more sense for us. Various dictionaries and scholars have defined this word to mean the following: Complete in all its parts; full grown; of full age; maturity; reaching the end (aim); developing into a consummating completion. None of these definitions talk about a flawlessness of things, or a spotless existence, but rather a journey, a goal, an endpoint.

If we can look at perfection as the Greeks did we can actually be perfect. We might not be there tomorrow, and we might not ever really feel like we have ever arrived, but it’s possible. Why else would the Savior himself command us to be perfect?

Let’s look for a minute at the life of a flower. A flower isn’t in and of itself a perfect thing. After all, who could decide which flower is the brightest or most beautiful? But rather, a flower seeks a perfect life, for eventually it’s full grown,  it completes its biological parts and progresses to its most elegant stage, its fullest bloom, and most nectarine state. But yes, many flowers are stomped on, picked too soon, and mowed over. Others are ignored or hidden in unfound meadows and unseen natural gardens. Are these flowers less perfect, less important, less breathtaking? I would posit that they are not, they are all perfect. Some might be without pedals, or buried underfoot, but that does not change their beauty or reality.

We are much like the flowers. We have damaged pedals. We are often not as tall or vibrant as others. But our journey, our existence is not theirs, and we too can be complete in all parts. We too can reach the end, become full grown, and develop into a consummating completion.

So I guess we may never truly be perfect if we adhere to the English version of the word. But I think I will follow the Greeks, and pursue the perfect life.

 

flower foto

 

The Unnoticed Onlooker

I am often subtly impressed and inspired by small acts in the distance, by overheard declarations, and adjacent kindness. I view all people and things as this sort of beautiful raw and unfiltered material for writing, so I observe a lot. I try to notice how people interact, and how strangers connect with other strangers. While looking at the world through this authorial kaleidoscope I come to realize how much people see and hear us without us ever knowing. We aren’t unlike some rare blue bird with a bright colored beak flying in with mysterious beauty, and flying away almost instantly. We might be alone in a café reading all day. And though we are alone and quite, we are being noticed by dozens of unique people. Most may not notice anything besides the space we take up or the fact that we are wearing an attractive scarf or a clean pair of shoes. But others will notice things. They will see the joy we receive in turning a simple page, they might notice a smile come across our face as a thoughtful text appears on our phone. Perhaps they will overhear a brief conversation we have on the phone between chapters, a moment where we are sheltered in the vulnerability of expressing love to a parent, a parent that aches when we aren’t anything but happy.  Maybe what we do all day in relative solitude at a coffee shop will have little consequence over the lives of others. But maybe someone will remember that book they need to read, maybe someone will be touched by a few words whispered to a loved one. Maybe a small smile on our faces will be enough to shed light on the shadows of someone’s dark day.

All of this sounds kind of romantic and unlikely. But let’s consider more realistic scenarios, more interactive moments. Many of us often feel overlooked, underappreciated and frustratingly unnoticed at times. Maybe our family lives in Michigan and our friends aren’t being good friends. Alas, day after day we go to work or school, or the pharmacy and people see us and notice us. So whether we are feeling particularly important or not, we should remember that our acts could still inspire many. Those many may never leave us a thank you note or publicly sing our praises, but good is good even if it is not formally recognized.

So in all things we do let us try to remember there is often an audience. We can say, “who cares, I’m gonna do me,” or we can try to better the world that we occupy. Our lives are made up of the tens of thousands of tiny moments that seem inconsequential, that seem to have no bearing on the progression of mankind, but these moments of kindness, of unbridled laughter, of unnecessary generosity, these are the main pieces of our life’s puzzle. This is how you change the world. So be mindful, and try to live an existence that could inspire a downtrodden onlooker, a person you may never see again in this mortal sphere. And just like the footprint of Neil Armstrong that remains untouched and intact on the floor of the moon, we too can leave an indelible footprint on our own planet.

 

onlooker pic
Three hour lunch.

 

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Is Chivalry Dead, Or is it Just a New Generation?

All I hear everywhere I go is women complaining about men, and men complaining about women. Guys aren’t being gentlemen. Women are acting crazy. Guys are insensitive players. Girls are cold monsters of pain. Anyone who is single (and let’s not even get into those who are married) has something to complain about. I hear that chivalry is dead from women, and I hear from men that they don’t ever want to get married.

Are men at fault? Have they forgotten the importance of opening a door and purchasing the occasional floral gift? Or are the ladies to blame? Have they become so obsessed with the expectations set by Hollywood and social media? Or are we all just a sad product of our generation?

I often hear people bemoan the decade we are in and the dating trials that seem to come with them. Again, I ask, is chivalry dead? Well the very first definition of chivalry states the following: the sum of the ideal qualifications of a knight, including courtesy, generosity, valor, and dexterity in arms. Horse riding skills aside, this definition would probably indicate that yes, chivalry has passed away. But is this lack of courtesy and generosity an unavoidable byproduct of our time, or an excuse we have contrived because the age of Instagram, text messaging, and online dating make it infinitely easier to be discourteous and distant? I would opine that the latter is true. The problem isn’t the age we are in, the problem is our attitude. We think it is socially acceptable to completely vanish from a person’s life when we have lost the tiniest bit of interest because it is easier and as some argue, nicer than telling someone the painful truth.  Forget about proper date etiquette and other standards of gallantry for a second, how generous or courteous is it to disappear without notice from someone you once cared about?

Humans change how they communicate and live together. This has been so since Adam and Eve. We no longer marry our relatives, cause duh there are more people on the earth. We no longer call people to ask them on dates, because texting was invented, and people don’t answer their phones any way. It’s okay that things have changed, and we don’t need to fight the times and complain that we aren’t courting in the 1930’s. We just need to change our attitudes and maybe apply certain principles of the golden rule into our courtships. Obviously breakups and unrequited feelings are unavoidable, but before we ignore our incoming messages and head for the hills, maybe we can take a page from the knight handbook and try to practice a little courtesy, a little valor, and heaven forbid a bit of generosity. Chivalry isn’t dead. We don’t need top hats, carriage rides, and perfectly timed roses to be chivalrous. We can send a kind text, or tell someone how we honestly feel. We can respect a person’s timing and be less shallow. Dating will never be a perfect practice, but we can probably start by realizing the things we complain about concerning the opposite sex are usually things that we are at different times also guilty of.

So let’s get back on our proverbial horse, increase our emotional dexterity, and find someone that just maybe we can love.

 

 

chivalry

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On Halloween

halloween pic

I never loved Halloween. Even as a kid I didn’t have the pumpkin carving acumen of others, and I really wasn’t crazy about knocking on strangers’ doors knowing that a visit from an angry or equally terrifying “playful” dog was a real possibility, all in the name of sweets. As I got older the shift magically changed from a sugary obsession to a fixation with meeting someone of the opposite sex at some sweaty party. Costumes, for me at least, became nothing more than a perfunctory requisite to not seem like a buzzkill at whatever party I attended. For girls it was a whole other concept. It was like the accumulation of years of fantasy and childhood dress up, mixed with their new found curves and independence that culminated in a night of body gyrating and questionable decisions.

This year, a little chagrined that my bachelor status forced me into the annual ritual of seeking out parties in hopes of meeting promising women, in the most unpromising of places, I decided to write about my experience.

This years’ “holiday” landed fortuitously on a Saturday. So, the parties started early in the week. But I didn’t make any effort to attend any of them until Friday when the obligation to be social and search for a cutie in spandex with a painted nose, bejeweled chest, or ironically bespectacled face weighed down on me.

That night around 10:00 P.M. me and my friend that were precariously close to 30 reluctantly chose a party where we felt our odds were high in meeting someone interesting, or at least someone that looked good in a nurse’s outfit and could recite the alphabet without struggle. We put on some makeshift costumes that showed we were fun enough to dress up, but that we were certainly not going to spend money at some ridiculously themed boutique, or heaven forbid wear something that would cover our faces. Because who goes to a party to meet women with their face covered? That might work for a beautiful woman at a masquerade, but unless you have an exaggeratingly chiseled life guard body, a man’s face needs to be at least above grotesque for a girl to be interested.

We arrive, quickly regretting our choice of outfits that reveal much of our chests since it is unseasonably cold walking from the car to the house. Once we get inside the palpable heat and stench of human sweat and polyester assure us that a warmer ensemble would have been a terrible mistake. Both being above 6 feet, we take a lap around the perimeter and implicitly scope out the talent. As always, it’s dark and the kind of loud that would put your grandparents into instant cardiac arrest. I’m surrounded by white girls dressed up as hardened Mexican gangsters, and men with absurd superhero costumes that fit poorly. Many faces are painted piebald and are fading from the forced human contact and unavoidable perspiration. There is no sign of water or chips or candy.

Not being an especially confident or skilled dancer, I am comforted by the lack of space and visibility of the room. So I throw my arms up and bump into attractive girls on purpose and try to smile at the right people. We dance hard and jump when the 19 year old DJ instructs us to. We consider talking to a few groups of girls, then decide there is a real chance they are in high school, so we move on. After 30 minutes or so of white guy dancing we are stopped mid jig by the DJ who announces that the sheetrock is cracking on the first floor and that we need to exit the dance floor before it caves in and lawsuits ensue. I will silently blame this structural malfunction for my lack of romance that night.

On the way out a young girl compliments my man bun and I get her phone number, hoping to take something away from this night.

The next evening, which is actually Halloween, that same friend and I hit the streets one more time. This time we head to a downtown block party of sorts. The type of free party that brings out all the riffraff the city has to offer. But mostly I see the same things I have seen for the past seven years. I see girls desperate to take the right photo that will properly show off the beauty and ingenuity of their costumes. I see large men creeping into packs of prissy girls hoping to form relationships out of thin air. And I see sadness. I see people walking around looking for something, but finding nothing but sweat and regret.

Then I take a look at myself. What am I doing? I am walking around hoping to meet a wonderful girl. I’m essentially trying to make Katy Perry lyrics come true. But in the process I end up avoiding people I don’t want to talk to, and not talking to certain girls because they seem unapproachable.

The dance ends and I didn’t have an awful time. Jumping up and down to certain songs is always fun for a minute, and I ran into plenty of good friends and old lovers that don’t hate me. But as we walk home in the new found cold of the night, a cold that seemed to appear out of nowhere once the crowd dissipated, I am glad this vapid holiday is over. Certain days shouldn’t make us feel obligated to find love, but they kind of do. Well, I miss the days of just asking strangers to give me candy because I’m cute. I go home and await the true joy of Thanksgiving and Christmas.

halloween pic 2

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