Monday, November 28, 2016

About Them

   
       
        I've been taught my entire life that Jesus is coming back soon in church.The writers of the New Testiment also told us that Jesus is coming back soon. This gives me the same feeling that sitting in Mr. Winnick's pricipal's office does, waiting for my discipline for mooning the entire 3rd grade class. Obviously there is a big difference in perception of time between us and the writers 2000 years ago...or Jesus returned already and we didn't even notice; a thought more sad than waiting forever. So if we are to see time so linear that soon may be almost forever, than we ought to start thinking about the future with the expectation that we are stuck here for now. We aren't orphans, but currently homeless.

        I told myself this very thing as I slept in my car after high school. Things were going really badly and I was accepting one mistake after another...because I was proud and angry and especially stupid. So in principle, I rejected conditional living and chose to face my mistakes head on...while making new and more audatious mistakes. I slept in the back seat of my car. My back hurt and I would lay awake all night with the awful feeling of a future being flushed away. I had walked away from a basketball scholorship, from any further education...because I knew it all. I didn't ask for advice. I didn't listen to anyone. I just acted out of pure emotion and rage against pretty much everyone. Laying in the back of that car in the cold, I told myself that this was only temporarily and I was only currently homeless. This was true. I got an apartment with friends soon after.

        As I was walking out of the Chinese food take out place tonight on my way home from work, I watched the "Open" sign flash through the reflection of my headlight. The parking lot was empty and the night was particularly dark tonight. I got this lonely feeling that at that moment, there was only me, this flashing light, and a little old Asian woman left in the entire world. It made me think of time. How terrible it is that time passes without you knowing how important it is.

        One day, no one will remember a single thing about our culture experientially. Maybe pictures. That flashing "Open" sign will be a joke of primitive technology. I think we all will be a joke of primitive humanity.

        I write a lot of short stories about the very distant future. One thing that has always intrigued me is wondering what the distant future will think about the things we have left behind. It's kinda sad and lonely and that's probably why I like it so much, but I really never have thought about what the not so distant future looks like. What will my great grand children think of me...if at all. What a disasterous world we have made.

        It is likely that this is not the end of "Us." We should start thinking about "Them."



Sing.
Migrate.


Thanks for reading...Z

Monday, November 21, 2016

Her

   
 
         I'm thankful for my wife. I write about her often because I need to get it out. She hates it. She doesn't like attention...that's me, I like attention: It's like gasoline to me. She is quiet and subtle. She saves everyone in this house and no one knows it but us, so I always feel the need to tell everyone because no one has ever loved me like this. There isn't a place I wouldn't go for her. I'd give everything that I like about myself for her, but she would never ask that of me. She is beautiful. She works so hard for us. She is anxious because she cares so much. She will find me in whatever darkness I go to hide. She will strip away any bravado or membrane I use to protect myself and reach in for my hand. I love her and am so very thankfull for her this Thanksgiving.







Sing.
Migrate.





Thanks for reading...Z

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Super Powers



        The world would be a different place if people had x-ray powers that saw into other people's souls, but I don't think we really want to have to see all of that. There are a lot of super powers I would love to have. I would love to fly. It would be so great to feel the wind hit you, then cover you, falling behind as you burst through it's invisible membrane. It would be great to move things with my mind. I'd love to move every slow moving vehicle out of my way during my commute to and from work. People driving slow in the fast lane would finally pay for their ignorance!

        Most of all, I'd like to travel through time. I'd love to go wherever and whenever I wanted without any ability to change anything. Some would say that would be cruel because we often visit our moments of regret in our memories. But I don't regret anything. I didn't do anything that didn't make me who I am. I don't like some things that happened to me and I don't like who I was, but I like that I feel a little better about myself now. I, for the most part, like who I am. There are many things I'd like to change, but I think I am pretty OK in the things that matter to me. I'm a good husband and a good father and I think I'm a pretty good friend.

        I don't much care for the other things. I care for relationships. If we love each other, I'm all in. I'm never halfway about the people I care about. I ask difficult questions and tell you what I really think. I do it because I care and I can't stomach small talk with people I want more from.

        But back to time travel. I'd like to go back and watch all of these moments in my life and learn more. I'd like to learn more about how my memory betrays the truth or how I have blocked out details that change the narrative. I'd like to go back to feel many things I did as a careless and stupid kid again. That's a great super power. The best superpower...because you can't hurt anyone with it. You can only relive your own life moments.



       





Sing.
Migrate.




Thanks for reading...Z

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Life Isn't Short, It Just Has a Poor Memory

     
     

        I like to go back to the many places I've lived. As a kid, we moved more than the average family for many reasons. For specific reasons I like to go back to each place. Some places are close enough for me to add them to running routes, others I find ways to pass pretty often on my way to nowhere near their location. I think life has gone by too fast and it's nice to go back and try and visit some moments in whatever way you can.

        I drive by certain ex-homes and find them occupied with really, really old people. Or drug addicts. I drive by a house and see myself throwing a football into the air as a kid and running underneath it to catch it just in time before my imaginary defender tackled me in the end zone. Sometimes I even wore a fake Chicago Bears uniform. I drive by others and see where I would build snow forts, shoot blow darts at ducks, shoot rockets, hide knives, and drink booze. Every location reminds me that there is so much stupidity, yet so much beauty in being young and learning how to be ok in a world that eats it's own.

        Life is way too short. We should all be able to lay down at night in comfort because we are eternal and God is good. But some people, like me, believe all that stuff, yet find themselves in dread most of the time.

        When I think of these times when I was just an ignorant kid trying to cope, I tell myself, "I wish I knew then, what I know now." Then there are other times that I say, "I wish I knew now, what I knew then."

        The world takes things from you. It takes moments....days....weeks. Everything that causes stress and anxiety fills us in and pushes something beautiful out. Our minds seem to only protect the truly sacred moments. Other wonderful moments go into this fie cabinet in the back of the room that someone has lost the keys to. Like and undeveloped roll of 35mm film laying in an attic.

        Until a grandkid finds that film and has it developed, bringing back everything all at once. It may be a smell or a song. It may be a place or a little strange crack in the sidewalk that brings back these beautiful moments you wish you would have stored in the sacred. Because life was too short when you made those memories and you forgot to remember them for what they were. They were your childhood, and you don't get another one of those.

        If there is a moral to this, it's to try to stop forgetting the great stuff. Forget the bad. We tend to always remember all of the bad because we like to feel sorry for ourselves often. Let that stuff go. Hold on to the things that make you happy and make you smile. It's way harder than my words make it out to be.





Sing.
Migrate.


Thanks for reading...Z

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Losing Time

       
       


        It's so cruel that we cannot live forever. That we have to grow old and one day die after years of not being able to do the things you used to be able to do. Laura tells me stories about her grandmas all the time. I met them when they were both pretty old, so I didn't get to see them in the years that they were strong. I don't think that's fair. I don't think that we should have to get old and frail and I definitely don't think we should ever have to die unless we want to. Maybe death is better for some people who are so tired of being frail. I don't know, but I one day will because most of us have to go to that place.

        It seems so recent that sat in that elementary school, smelling the pencil shavings that filled the halls with it's perfume. I can't help but to feel that I didn't do enough kid things. I did a lot...even into my adult years... But I'd really like to hold on a bit longer. I'm not old. I'm 38. But I feel like I was just 15 yesterday. I can't help but dread what's ahead a little, even knowing the good stuff is there too.

        Every year I get older, I become more and more purposeful in my actions with my kids. I want them to remember what a good dad they had, so that my son will be a great husband and dad and so my daughters will choose guys that are like me, who love them with every part of themselves.

        Don't get me wrong, there are still some things that I still want to accomplish and I'm not weak just yet. But lines annoy me more now. Traffic is more irritating. People talking in my face about things uninteresting is now so cumbersome. I feel maybe like I'm losing minutes that would be better spent holding my kids or sitting with my beautiful wife. But then there are those moments.

        Those moments remind you that you are still here and not going away. When I hear a great song, I wish I would have sung it. When I read something beautiful, I wish I would have written it. I've always been a person that sees something that they think is good and tries to create something better. I'm am still someone that sees the art in everything. This motivates me to be who I am right at this moment, not fear for who I will be sooner than I wish. I want to do things that will help other people find peace, and inspire them to create something better than me.

        There is something so beautiful about hearing a song or reading poetry so good that you want to cry because you don't have that in you, but you are so glad someone else did.





Sing.
Migrate.




Thanks for reading...Z

Monday, October 17, 2016

Pink Cadillac

     
     

        Me and my little brother Andy (Who is everything but blood to me) ran away from home once. I was about 10 or so, he was about 7. We had pitched a tent, or Andy's dad did and let us think we were big helpers. Andy's dad always called me One Adam 12, from the television show "Chips." It has always been my favorite nickname and only he calls me that. We pitched the tent in the backyard and accepted the tuck in from Andy's parents. As soon as their bedroom light went out, we left. I can't remember the reason we left, but I remember it was a specific attempt to become circus clowns or vagrants or something. We were going to stay gone. We were escaping the things we were taking for granted.

        When I look back at it now, the woods, the darkness, the swaying trees that seemed to pick up more wind as we walked deeper into them, and the shaking of our voices getting shakier and shakier, those are my most dominating memories of the night. We walked right in as we did so many times during the day light. We must have walked 25 miles in kids-in-the-dark miles before we reached the pink Cadillac. In the woods by his house, there was a pink Cadillac totally wrapped around a tree. No bones or teeth laying around, just this rusted pink pile of car rubbish. But the car had blood all over it.

        As we approached the car, black lights seemed to have been summoned from Elvis' grave or something and the blood lit up. The Cadillac was dark as everything else, but all of the sudden in the minds of two terrified kids, the scene came alive and every sound pierced us. We ran back out...all 100 kid-miles until we reached the tent. We jumped in, positioning ourselves in the true center of the tent to keep what lurked in the woods from grabbing us at the edges of the tent. No one came for us until Andy's dad woke us after we had finally fallen asleep the next morning. 1 Adam 12....Run....Bo-HeeHee....Hurry....Run. This is how this terrific man speaks. Handrewwwwwww.....Get up! I think we both were so glad to see him that it seemed very strange that we had tried to run away.

        Nothing is easy. Nothing is perfect. I think it takes some people to see how scary and terrible it is in darkness to remember that it's not so bad right where you are. In the Bible, there is this story of Paul the Apostle. In one of these stories, Paul laments being shipwrecked and fearing for his life. He talks of being falsely imprisoned and beaten mercilessly. But he says this, "I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am." He is living the life he believes in and is paying the price that some of us all have to pay to follow who we are, and for me, to follow God.

        We were just kids, but I can't remember a time that I wanted to be home more than when I was in the dark. I've been in the dark since a couple times, and it got even darker then. I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am in. This is something that takes daily practice.


PS. Don't be content with being abused by anyone that is supposed to love you. Forgive them because it hurts you not to forgive. But leave all that is dark behind you.









Sing.
Migrate.


Thanks for reading...Z

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Cobain


        
        

         The introduction of Nirvana, and similar bands that followed such as “Pearl Jam”, and “Soundgarden” ushered in a deeper, darker, and possibly more destructive style of music in regards to it’s message. Despite the negative charge that Cobain brought into the headphones of teenagers in more conservative households, the music he wrote also touched on a nerve with the youth at the time. Teenagers were looking for meaning and confirmation that the things that were happening in their world were shared with each other, and then brought to life by this dark, dank, and unwilling-to-allow-you-rest-easy style of music. This was the age of “Grundge” rock that left the rock bands from before without an active audience, as they fled for the more relatable and edgy “New rock”.

        To look at them as a band contrasting the bands that came before, one may see poverty or homelessness. The band’s hair was long and seemingly unwashed. They donned no make-up or frills at all, but came in with these shilling, cranky, and leaky guitars screeching through the music as if they were violently trying to hurt your ears. The lyrics were equally as shaking. Instead of the party time messages sent in the 1980’s, we were experiencing words that cut down into our own fears and inadequacies as we listen to Kurt Cobain belt out his pain in life from deep inside his guts.
 

        What the band meant to me was similar to what the band meant to thousands of other teenagers witnessing the change of teen culture, live and in person. Cobain in particular, echoed my own heart at the time. I was an angry and angsty teenager, who didn’t want to hear anymore that life was a party. To me, life didn’t feel like a party, it felt like the most difficult thing a person could do. The music itself came in with an anger that to most parents at the time sounded like an unintelligible mountain of noise. But for us, this mountain of noise was the equivalent to screaming at the tops of our lungs off of a deep chiasmus ravine, which when the air had left, brought comfort and understanding.

        Cobain may not have changed the times politically or set a good example of positive actions to our society, but what he did do was touch a button that was hidden for so long in the bellies of the youth of society. The music made us feel ok with feeling different. It gave us something to legitimize our anger and encourage us to live differently in an attempt to change our experience of life. Cobain wasn’t the musical genius but he embodied a fearlessness in regards to music.

        Quoting Neil Young, Cobain finished his suicide letter with "It is better to burn out, than to fade away." I wish he would have seen it different, because the world lost an innovator of music and a voice of a generation of kids that didn't have the words. I remember as a kid, going to play tennis with a friend and seeing "RIP Cobain" spray painted on the wall behind the high school. I didn't know what to think. I rushed home and turned on MTV and saw the horror unfolding on television. I know he was a celebrity and that I didn't know him, but some artists move you, just like a ballet or a beautiful painting. The 90's would see copycat bands and cookie cutter grundge bands come and go and eventually fade away into boy bands and corporate punk. I believe this was the last time we have heard the radio play anything of real substance. Of course, I'm old now, so I bet the kids would disagree. I hope they do. 






Sing.
Migrate.




Thanks for reading...Z

Monday, October 3, 2016

This American Lie


"And we only saw half of the ballet. I said good night, good bye, seems like a good thing so you know it's a good lie. You can run out of choices, and still hear a voice in your head when you're lying in bed." Counting Crows
 
        We are not who they say we are. We are not those monsters that wait for the failure of others to celebrate. That is only who they say we are...or maybe who we say we are. We are a gentle and loving, empathetic and human species of God's creation. We see the hurt in front of us and we react. We want so badly to speak out or to let ourselves be free of the cultural beliefs that keep us in our little boxes.

        Instead of being who we really are, often we find ourselves being this vicious monster that seemingly cannot wait for the world's destruction. Reading people's comments on social media is enough to say you have had enough...to give up on everyone else. Our election choices are a testament to who we have become. Somehow America has voted for the two worst people to run for president in our history. Because they are polarizing. We are a polarized people. We hate those that don't agree...at least in words. I've heard some terrible things said about the character of people that have shown me genuine kindness and love because of their opinion on who should be president. When I hear them, I get sad because they are wrong about this person. They are judging them because of a belief they have.

        I wish there were a medium at the very least between who we are and who we decide to be. We don't act like who we are. We instead do what is terribly expected of us. America expects the worst in everyone now. So we give it to them because we are angry with the way the world is. We are fighting each other in an attempt to fight ourselves. We are imploding.

        But then I look to my right and in the corner of my eye, I see a sad and lonely kid who is being mentored by a harsh person who wants only to prepare a kid to succeed in a really angry and violent world. To my left I see a little girl being shamed for her weight, only to find another little girl who has invited her over to become her best friend. These are the people that we really are. We actually want to love. We actually would love to make a difference to someone.

        I've had people mistreat me and abuse me. I've seen what the evil in the world wants me to see. I've also been the boot on someone's head. I've seen so much of it. I've found myself buried in the ground so many times, only to feel the gentle hand of a caring and loving person on my shoulders pulling me up again.

        The quote above is from one of my favorite bands of all time. It is a highly relatable message that, if it seems too good to be true, it is a lie. This isn't always true. Some people truly only want the best for you. Some people care, even if they don't know you very well. Some people aren't so bad, and if you give them a chance, I think you will find that they are the very face of God in your life.

        I have two dead brothers that didn't care so much for themselves that continuously pulled me out of the mud and watched over me and protected me. I have people who served as my father when I really needed one. I've had people treat me as their child just because they knew I was hurting and needed something good to happen. For the amount of times I've had my face stomped in the mud, there has always been a savior reaching in to pull me up. These saviors are who we are I think. At heart, we feel beautifully. In action, we practice the lie. We have got to find a way to reconcile the two or the entire world is doomed.



Sing.
Migrate.



Thanks for reading...Z

This American Lie


"And we only saw half of the ballet. I said good night, good bye, seems like a good thing so you know it's a good lie. You can run out of choices, and still hear a voice in your head when you're lying in bed." Counting Crows
 
        We are not who they say we are. We are not those monsters that wait for the failure of others to celebrate. That is only who they say we are...or maybe who we say we are. We are a gentle and loving, empathetic and human species of God's creation. We see the hurt in front of us and we react. We want so badly to speak out or to let ourselves be free of the cultural beliefs that keep us in our little boxes.

        Instead of being who we really are, often we find ourselves being this vicious monster that seemingly cannot wait for the world's destruction. Reading people's comments on social media is enough to say you have had enough...to give up on everyone else. Our election choices are a testament to who we have become. Somehow America has voted for the two worst people to run for president in our history. Because they are polarizing. We are a polarized people. We hate those that don't agree...at least in words. I've heard some terrible things said about the character of people that have shown me genuine kindness and love because of their opinion on who should be president. When I hear them, I get sad because they are wrong about this person. They are judging them because of a belief they have.

        I wish there were a medium at the very least between who we are and who we decide to be. We don't act like who we are. We instead do what is terribly expected of us. America expects the worst in everyone now. So we give it to them because we are angry with the way the world is. We are fighting each other in an attempt to fight ourselves. We are imploding.

        But then I look to my right and in the corner of my eye, I see a sad and lonely kid who is being mentored by a harsh person who wants only to prepare a kid to succeed in a really angry and violent world. To my left I see a little girl being shamed for her weight, only to find another little girl who has invited her over to become her best friend. These are the people that we really are. We actually want to love. We actually would love to make a difference to someone.

        I've had people mistreat me and abuse me. I've seen what the evil in the world wants me to see. I've been the boot on some's head. I've seen so much of it. I've found myself buried in the ground so many times, only to feel the gentle hand of a caring and loving person on my shoulders pulling me up again.

        The quote above is from one of my favorite bands of all time. It is a highly relatable message that, if it seems too good to be true, it is a lie. This isn't always true. Some people truly only want the best for you. Some people care, even if they don't know you very well. Some people aren't so bad, and if you give them a chance, I think you will find that they are the very face of God in your life.

        I have two dead brothers that didn't care so much for themselves that continuously pulled me out of the mud and watched over me and protected me. I have people who served as my father when I really needed one. I've had people treat me as their child just because they knew I was hurting and needed something good to happen. For the amount of times I've had my face stomped in the mud, there has always been a savior reaching in to pull me up. These saviors are who we are I think. At heart, we feel beautifully. In action, we practice the lie. We have got to find a way to reconcile the two or the entire world is doomed.



Sing.
Migrate.



Thanks for reading...Z

Monday, September 26, 2016

The Little Things


     
        I was alive until I didn't want to be, then I was alive again because I saw the evidence of God present in my life. I lived pushing and bleeding for the next 20 years, taking only the satisfaction of being someone beautiful to someone else. I wanted to be someone I never thought I could be. I wanted to redeem all of the anger going on inside me.

       Then all of the windows in my life broke and I became destitute. I fell asleep and have been asleep for 6 years. 6 wasted years focusing on painful things. Ok, that's not fair. I'll take off 2 years for actual grief for my brothers gone. The other 4 have been spent in anger, irrational and self righteous rage. But an anger I still cannot deny. It's here now, and I think it may have never left. Maybe I just covered over it...or maybe I just painted brown over all of the blue God had made in me. It doesn't matter now. I'm still here, where I am and who I am.

        I believe. I believe all of the fundamental things about God I have for the last 25 years. It's the little things that bother me...maybe because of arrogance, maybe because it's not reality to me. Christian words make my stomach hurt. Words like fellowship, disciples, and prayer chain. It isn't that those things aren't good or real or someone's hope. They just aren't words that connect me with God or people. They separate me. They are strange words that people don't use outside of church. I don't think we should use words that aren't used all over. It makes us sound strange for no reason. If we are to appear strange, make it because of our actions and not our antiquated words.

        The truth is. I need a prayer chain. I just don't want to hear about someone's prayer chain. That is very personal. I want people to not only pray for me, but to intervene. I love fellowship, but I want genuine relationships that don't have some ulterior motive of saving me or fixing me in some way. I am a disciple in that I am a person trying to learn about Jesus. I am not a disciple in some righteous and authoritarian sort. I'm a profoundly flawed person who desperately is searching for the right way to be me as a son of God.

For example:

Fellowship: My pastor and friend Dave twice has seen me face down in anguish. Twice he picked me up and held me together and chose not to lecture me, even when he definitely could have. Instead, he took me once to a movie, then another to a very meaningful concert. It meant more to me than a potluck or a planned fun event. I don't condemn those either, but I personally identify with someone reaching into the mud and grabbing me by the hair and pulling me up.

Disciples: I was a 19 year old going through all of these terrible things and had just decided I didn't want much more time here. Long story short, I decided that I needed God. I called the only person I knew to call that wasn't a christiany Christian. I called my old friend Jim. He worked in home improvement at the time. He hired me to work with him. Just me and him on roofs, hauling and hammering shingles. The work was hard, but he used this entire time to teach me things about life and faith and how to deal with loss.

        I think that faith is right here and right now and should be lived using the most understandable language possible, because that is what hurting people relate to. I think that any sort of love is good right now.





Sing.
Migrate.




Thanks for reading...Z