Thoughts: Peaks, Valleys, Brothers & Cardinals

IMG_2045-4

I have had the most epic of weeks. I took a spontaneous trip to Colorado, stood on top of Pike’s Peak for the first time in my life, falling deeper in love with the hoary headed crags, drank some of the best beer I’ve ever had in my life at 10 different breweries throughout the state, witnessed the snowfall on the mountains, caught up with a friend from LA on a happy coincidence, drove back to Missouri, slept a bit, and then went to watch The Wonder Years pour their hearts out on the Blue Note’s stage.

I’ve had some really good times! It was refreshing, it was full of life, it was wild and natural, which has led me to some really great revelations:

Nature Restores.

On the excruciatingly long drive through Kansas, you build up this excitement to see the wonder that is the Rocky Mountain Range. It’s not until you’re about an hour into Colorado that you see the mountains as you come around a bend. As soon as I saw the peaks I welled up with tears. It had been so long since I’d seen them and it felt like coming home. I forgot about everything that was stressing me out. My job, my friends, my family, my endeavors, my fears, my insecurities, the troubles of this world, all dwarfed in the shade of the Rockies.  I started sobbing a bit, trying to stay on the interstate, while my friend Ryan looked at me confused and asked if I was okay.  I was more than okay, I was hopeful again for the first time in a long time. We drove straight to The Inclime at the base of Pike’s and climbed it. I almost passed out as I was not used to the altitude yet, having to stop every 100ft as Coloradoans passed by in oxygen restrictive masks as if they were taking a leisurely stroll. We only made it halfway and I had to stop, but I still felt so accomplished. I felt full, I felt understood. Then I wondered how it was that a Mountain could understand a man so well and man couldn’t understand much of anything?  Which led me to my next realization:

The Creation can connect us with The Creator.

It’s a funny thing how you can live your life, treading on the grass, breathing in the air, to climb into a car made of resources exhumed from the earth, driving over the rocks we’ve crushed to a paste to our homes we’ve made of fell trees and not one time recognize the Earth we are in. It’s not until you’re forced to see it out in the wilds that we’ve either “preserved” or haven’t destroyed yet that there is so much beauty in the Creation and how God our Mother birthed such a wonderful child.  You feel understood and fulfilled between the pines and cedars, sappy in more than one way, as you can better hear Earth breathe. It’s in the whistling of the frigid wind on top of the snow-covered Pike’s that I could hear the voice of Christ. He was tugging on my heart, I was just anesthetized by how “tame” we’ve made this Beautiful Blue Marble. We block out any sounds of YHWH with the sounds of chainsaws, automotive emissions, city lights, social media updates, and our own bullshit. I attempted to say nothing to anyone on this trip, taking only a few pictures, trying not to answer any messages I may have received and the product was wonderful. I could enjoy and appreciate everything I saw in nature, everything I ate tasted better, all the beer I drank felt life-giving, every footstep I climbed, walked, or ran had purpose. I have never felt more like an actual human being in my life. I was understood at a level that I had never been understood before.

We find ourselves when we let ourselves go.

Being understood is a human’s deepest desire. We LONG to be known and to be known fully, yet most of the time this can’t happen because humans aren’t capable of fully understanding one another and our own selfish desires often get in the way of us even trying. It seems in my life, that the more I try and change myself, the more damage I actually do to my person and the people around me. I get so so concerned with change that I don’t actually take the time to get to know myself. I get so wrapped up in wanting to be interesting and wanting to be wanted by others that I become something I never wanted to be. Then there’s this whole process of getting back to me. It’s long, it’s painful, and it’s exhausting. It’s only been in these past few months that I’ve been able to let go of the person I think I need to be and let the person I am actually grow. A few months ago, I would have been more concerned with people knowing I was in Colorado, that I was doing something interesting, that I was having a meaningful experience. Today, I realize how hollow all of that is. It’s riddled with loneliness, vanity, and pride. It’s so much easier to get hurt when you’ve got so many holes created by these things. But when you let go of the grips you have on who you believe you should be, there’s room for love, there’s no expectation of perfection and no pain when you inevitably let yourself down, relationships are more meaningful, you can flourish as a person. You can finally find things you love about you. I really enjoy how adventurous I am, how I can make my own path, how compassionate I am, how willing to accept criticism, how I push myself to accept compliments when they’re given, how much of a role model for my brothers I am, how open I am to admitting my faults, how I do what I can to encourage the best in others and love them in spite of however messed up they may be or however many times they may fuck me over, how it physically pains me to be dishonest, and so many other things. Encourage the best in yourself, so you can encourage the best in others.

We are really good at making things something they’re not.

After having all these shenanigans on mountains and highways, I went back to work on 2 hours of sleep, running right back into the thick of the stress. The day was long, it was hard, and almost more exhausting than when I’d left. I felt defeated. All this time spent chasing myself, chasing rest, and it was gone in less than 12 hours. I slept for 14 hours that night, hoping I could shake some of the exhaustion.

It didn’t work.

I considered quitting the next day. I was in a terrible mood and it seemed like all the problems I left appeared again where I’d left them. They greeted me like a passive-aggressive lover, sapping my strength and self esteem. I was done when my good friend Austin Doyle messaged me, telling me he’d bought me a ticket to see The Wonder Years.

I was elated again.

I got to hang out with the best guy I know, a guy who always makes me feel important and like a difference maker, and on top of that, I got to get my frustrations out in a mosh pit as Dave Campbell screamed that he was “Awkward and Nervous” and lamented because “we’re not saviors if we can’t save our brothers”. He dedicated the show to those who lost their lives in Paris, pouring out everything he had to shed light on something that mattered so much more. It was breathtaking.

Or at least it should have been.

The crowd was terrible. There were several drunk women who couldn’t keep themselves safe, a woman who spilled 4 PBR tall boys on our feet, and not being able to mosh at all because there were 5 guys doing nothing but trying to hurt others as I took a hit to the nose. I was furious. My time was completely ruined because people wanted to take an experience and make it something it wasn’t.

We push so hard to get our way, for this ideal that’s so far off. Disillusioned and na├»ve we’ll do what we can to throw others under the bus to get what we want. Cheat, guilt, steal, shame, manipulate, we’ve got all our cards at the ready, trying to be Gambit from the X-Men. Even the selfless things we do have selfish intentions. We can’t ever let things be what they are, we run from feelings because we’re scared, we’ll push everything away if it means it will be easier, if there’ll be less pain involved.
I have to be honest, this week has been extravagantly joyous and incredibly horrendous. It’s been so up and down that it’s felt like 2 months. In a period of 7 days my heart has been at the lightest and heaviest it’s ever been. I wiped clean my burdens and filled the slate again almost in the same stroke. I’m caught in this state of melancholic contentment. I’m tired of the rollercoaster and I’d like a break for just a bit. It’s been hard for me to accomplish anything lately. One thing after another after another for months now. I’d really just like to catch a break.

I’m not sure how to resolve this post. I’m not entirely sure how to feel. What I do know is this:

There is no light without dark.

We cannot have successes without failures.

We cannot know love without heartbreak.

We can’t appreciate others until we can appreciate ourselves.

We cannot be understood without the risk of being hurt.

And finally, “Don’t apologize for things you’re not sorry for”.