In the Time of Your Life

In my life, so often I feel as though we are connected in more ways that we will ever know. Every once in a while, a light shines on this figurative web and we are able to see the wires that pull us close to those around us. I was reminded of this very recently by this story…

In 1994, Johnny Depp and Marlon Brando were set to do a movie together called “Don Juan Demarco.” Johnny Depp had looked up to Marlon Brando for his whole life. You see, both of these men were men forged by the fire of a trying childhood and found refuge by taking on the image of strong men on screen. The first time these two men talked on the phone, they spoke for three hours. Life, love, family, craft, and passion were topics covered in that time. It turned out that these two men were kindred spirits. Men who might have passed by each other on the street and never recognized their similarities. 

After their first conversation, they decided to get dinner together at Brando’s house in Los Angeles. While there, Depp began to recite his life’s philosophy, the preface to “In the Time of Your Life” by William Saroyan. Midway through this monologue, which Johnny Depp had memorized by heart, Marlon Brando stopped him. Brando finished the preface, word for word. Johnny Depp was amazed by this and told Brando that he had ripped out this preface from a book and carried it in his wallet for the last ten years. Brando told him to hold on for a moment and ran upstairs. Coming back down the stairs, Marlon Brando pulled out a very similar page ripped out of a book that displayed the same mantra. He had kept it on his night stand since he was young. They had lived their life, day after day, to the same philosophy and modeled their days in a similar order.

The preface reads…

“In the time of your life, live—so that in that good time there shall be no ugliness or death for yourself or for any life your life touches. Seek goodness everywhere, and when it is found, bring it out of its hiding place and let it be free and unashamed. Place in matter and in flesh the least of the values, for these are the things that hold death and must pass away. Discover in all things that which shines and is beyond corruption. Encourage virtue in whatever heart it may have been driven into secrecy and sorrow by the shame and terror of the world. Ignore the obvious, for it is unworthy of the clear eye and the kindly heart. Be the inferior of no man, or of any men be superior. Remember that every man is a variation of yourself. No man’s guilt is not yours, nor is any man’s innocence a thing apart. Despise evil and ungodliness, but not men of ungodliness or evil. These, understand. Have no shame in being kindly and gentle but if the time comes in the time of your life to kill, kill and have no regret. In the time of your life, live—so that in that wondrous time you shall not add to the misery and sorrow of the world, but shall smile to the infinite delight and mystery of it.” – William Saroyan

This preface has become a mantra in my own life and I too have joined the men by putting this quote in my wallet. I believe that it holds much of the truth that God has given us in a single paragraph. The story of Johnny Depp and Marlon Brando reminds me of the preface itself as it says that, “Every man is a variation of yourself.” I truly believe that and we are doing a disservice to others by withholding our ideas from them. There is no room for shame in our time and the greatest joy is to shine a light on the connection we all share.

2006

Back then I was in the 1st grade. Time wasn’t accurate, the world was safe, and I had no concern. I’d watch “Recess” and “Tarzan” on Disney Channel and went outside to shoot hoops, skate, or jump on the trampoline. It’s crazy to think that this is the same world.

I used to turn upside down and wonder what I’d look like when I was older. Now, we’re here. All the moments that I realized would pass, have. And they will continue to pass. I will look back at this in May and wonder where the time went. I’ll look back at this in 5 years and wonder where the time went. And again, I’ll look back in 50 years, wondering what happened.

Do you remember how when you were younger
The  summers all lasted forever?
Days  disappeared
Into months, into years
Hold that feeling forever

But you can’t focus on that stuff, it’s just an observation. I am constantly having thoughts of the past matched with new opportunity. I am not my body. Deep within I am the soul of Max Yelken and I am an eternal co-heir with Jesus Christ. Someday soon, the best I have experienced will be no comparison.

I pray I can dwell in your house with you God. I pray that I can bring some fellow pilgrims with me to share the view God.

Birthday

You can tell a lot about a person by what happened on their birthdays. Each year, the tides turn. We wake up on our birthday mornings and are surrounded by people who care about us. If I had a written summary of 5 of a person’s birthdays, I could create a pretty good narrative of that person’s life. Did they answer their call and become who they were supposed to be? Did they live where their feet were? Were relationships important to them or did they mistakenly neglect the most important thing about life? 

Today I turn 22 years old. I have a whole life ahead of me at this point and I am about to set out on a journey. A few nights ago, a friend of mine called me and said that he wanted to call me before I died. Confused, I asked him exactly what he meant. He told me, “Max, most 21 or 22 year olds die at that age until they are 65. By the time they wake up and realize their mistake, it is almost too late. Make sure to stay alive.” This hit me hard. Despite what we are often told, we have some say in how our lives go. If my health is good, I will have around 24,000 more days on Earth, but this is certainly not guaranteed. Nothing is guaranteed. I have to make the decision each morning to stay alive mentally, spiritually, emotionally, and physically. 

A few months ago, I created a mission statement that is taped on my mirror. It reads…

“I want to live a God centered life focused on spirituality, life-long learning, my physical well-being, and my relationships with others and the world.”

This birthday, I am surrounded by people that care about me. But will this always be the case? I think that my life will answer this question. Each morning I will fill out the test and decide yes or no. If I consistently ignore how I want to live my life, I will end up in a place I never intended to go. My prayer is that each morning I am obedient to God and choose to be happy.

“And remember, your best days are just ahead.” – Luke Ayers

Connection (Jim Bohnsack and Kelly Slater)

As time has gone by this summer, I’ve had this great sense that most moments seem to not matter. Rituals can drown out our essential purpose, soundproofing the screams of our spirit. But I’ve also had another realization recently, some moments…are special. And I mean really special. They make all of the seemingly mundane times be seen in color instead of black and white. These moments define the purpose that we have in life.

A few weeks ago,  I was watching a documentary called the “Momentum Generation,” a surf movie with names like Kelly Slater, Rob Machado, and Shane Dorian (some of the greatest surfers of all time). After the movie, I told my dad about watching it and casually mentioned the name Kelly Slater. I could tell my dad was thinking about where he had heard the name “Kelly Slater.” Finally he whipped out his phone and began typing. I asked, “What are you doing?” and he told me, “I think my friend Jim Bohnsack, has a story about meeting Kelly…I’m just not sure if I can remember it.” I had heard the name Jim Bohnsack recently because he was one of my Dad’s closest friends growing up, and he had just been diagnosed with cancer. A few minutes later, we got a text from Jim. In that text, was one of the best stories I’ve ever heard.

Around the year 2001, Jim went to Florida with his wife Denise. While enjoying a night at a restaurant in Cocoa Beach, Jim and his wife befriended a woman on the dance floor. It turned out that she was the mother of the all time great surfer, Kelly Slater. As the night went along, Kelly’s mom voiced disappointment saying, “Kelly never really calls me anymore.” Jim joked that he would give Kelly the word when he went to California in 2 days, so Kelly’s mom gave him a picture of them together. Jim and his wife left that night and 2 days later, Jim was in California. While driving down the Pacific Coast Highway, Jim was enamored with the massive waves and pulled over to get a closer look at the swells. While walking toward the ocean, he passed by a group of surfers. “How are the waves?” Jim asked. “Ask the greater surfer of all time, he just walked right past you.” one of them said. “Kelly?!” Jim yelled. By a work of God, Kelly Slater walked toward Jim Bohnsack that morning and shook his hand. Jim started, “Hey man, this is going to be super weird, but two nights ago I was with your mom at Mulligans. She said she wished you called her more.” Jim gave Kelly the picture and he stared at it for a minute and then said, “You know, I guess I get pretty busy sometimes. I probably do need to call more.” Then Kelly gave the picture back…and Jim took it (he doesn’t know why)! Jim said that Kelly was unbelievably kind to him and after a while, Kelly and his friends changed out of their wetsuits…and were gone. Every since Jim told my dad that story, their friendship has come alive again. Jim calls my dad and my dad calls Jim. They share stories and laughs because at the end of it all, they were meant to be friends.

Happiness

I think it is safe to say, we live in a tired world. A world that has many thinking about how to keep a sustaining happiness. Recently, someone asked me, “Do you think it is wrong to chase after happiness?”

As I began to think, I answered him, “No, I think it is good to seek happiness. But how long do you wish to be happy for? If the answer is forever, then we have some questions to answer.”

As I have begun to grow up, there are certain memories that I love to go back to. I think of a specific time, sitting in Zion National Park with my good friend, Corrie, watching the sun hit the mountains as it rose. I thought to myself, “I wish I could replay this scene over and over.” But the reality of it, is that I can’t. It’s a feat that is made impossible by the strange concept of time.

So one may ask, “If I can’t keep up the euphoria that I have in the best moments of life, then what am I looking forward to?”

This is a valid question. First, the journey of life, in and of itself, should be a road to glory. Every year life should be getting better, not because of our circumstance, but because of our maturing perspective. A healthy perspective is an eternal perspective. One that is focused on the connection we have between the current moment and the future. Second, we have our hope rooted in the good news. The news that God is not mad at me and he wants to know me. There is nothing better.

However, it is a mistake to ignore that life contains suffering, in which we are meant to take joy. It is impossible to find joy in an experience of suffering without first knowing the reason why suffering is important. The reason is that suffering builds up our character, and character strengthens our assurance of salvation. Which is the bridge between this world and the next.

Lately, I have been thinking of the end of the movie, A River Runs Through It. In the final scene, the main character, Norman, is seen in the waters of the Blackfoot River, a place where he grew up. Since the days of his youth, his brother and father have both passed on and Norman utters these words…

“All those I loved and misunderstood in my youth are gone, but I still reach out to them.”

When I hear those words I get emotional. Those words tell the story of many, including me. If I am not careful, I will find myself looking in the future for something that has happened in the past. The moment that I had with my friend Corrie at Zion National Park is over. I can go back to Zion at sunrise but Corrie will have changed and the experience I attempt to simulate will not match the original. That is why this simple phrase can change your perspective on happiness…

“Life is ahead of us.”Pascal

So is it wrong to seek happiness? Absolutely not. But where do you think happiness comes from? If you think that true joy is in our circumstances, then you would be deceived. Happiness is found in our ever changing perspective. Some people have found perspectives based on the minute, some on the hour, some are rooted in finances, others on personal success, but the honest answer is that these mindsets are too small.

If you truly want to be happy, set your mind on things above the sun. There we find the inner workings of the eternal God.

9 What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. 10 Is there anything of which one can say, “Look! This is something new”? It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time. – Ecclesiastes 1:9-10

The New Lens

Imagine that you are on a train, it is a peaceful scene. People are reading, listening to music, and you decide to shut your eyes to take a nap. As you try to relax, in walks a father and his children. The calm scene is ruined. The children are running up and down the train car and nobody knows what to do. Meanwhile, the children’s father is sitting down with a blank expression on his face. You think to yourself, “Why is he not doing anything? Doesn’t he know that his kids are out of control?” Eventually, you can’t take it anymore and say, “Excuse me, don’t you think you could control your kids a little better?” The father immediately snaps out of his blank stare with a concerned look in his eyes and says, “Oh, I’m sorry…I guess I should control them more. I’m sorry, I just don’t really know how to act right now. We just got back from the hospital and their mother just passed away from cancer.”

How does your outlook on the situation change? How do you view the father’s apathy now? This exact scenario was one that Stephen Covey explained in his New York Times Best-Selling book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.

Stephen Covey reacted by asking the man if there was anything that he could do to help. Covey’s attitude toward the situation had completely changed. No longer did he see the withdrawn father as an irresponsible parent, but he now viewed him as a heartbroken father. I believe that each person might have had their own unique response to a situation like this, but it illustrates one of life’s most important concepts. The paradigm shift.

A paradigm shift, as defined by Webster’s Dictionary is, “A fundamental change in approach or underlying assumptions.” Our paradigm changes the moment we discover that everything we thought we knew, was wrong. We begin to understand a situation with fresh eyes. The secret to any type of real change, starts with a shift in our thinking. A paradigm shift begs the questions…

  1. How do I view myself/them/the situation?
  2. Why do I view myself/them/the situation that way?
  3. Do I need to shift my thinking?
  4. How do I shift my thinking?

One of the greatest examples of a paradigm shift came over 2,000 years ago with the ministry of Jesus Christ. Jesus came to eradicate the worshiping of knowledge and the neglecting of love. The Pharisees were the most respected academics in the church, but they neglected the lepers, the impoverished, the widows, the prostitutes, the immigrants, and the disabled. They had built their view of God on the underlying assumption, that God favored those who could recite his word. Jesus came with a new paradigm. The new paradigm turned everything that the Pharisees had built their life on, upside down. Jesus treated the untouchables of society with the underlying assumption that they were children of God and he did not define people by their worst qualities.

With any important decision in our lives we need to ask, “From what paradigm am I making this decision?” Life’s most important questions will come whether we are ready or not. Who will I marry? What will I do for work? How will I treat people? What do I want to be remembered for? I recommend Stephen Covey’s method of answering the most important questions with the end of your life in mind. Too many people are going through life as Lemmings. The remarkable thing about a Lemmings behavior is that once one of the little creatures go off a cliff, the rest will follow. Why? Because Lemmings have no capability for thought and no room for paradigms, and so they rely on the instincts of their peers. We cannot afford to go through life based on the momentum of our peers. The stakes are too high. It is time to evaluate our own paradigms and fight back against the broken systems of distraction, anger, selfishness, and apathy.

“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation. From the desperate city you go into the desperate country, and have to console yourself with the bravery of minks and muskrats. A stereotyped but unconscious despair is concealed even under what are called the games and amusements of mankind. There is no play in them, for this comes after work. But it is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things.”  – Henry David Thoreau

 

 

 

27 Things Learned in a Year of Journaling

A year ago, I started a journal for the first time in my life, and it has been the most transformative experience of my life thus far. It has functioned as an extension of myself that I have taken with me everywhere I go. I have used my journal as a creative piece in which I have kept notes, daily schedules, pictures, simple truths, and quotes.

Here are some things that I learned…

  1. Don’t look at other people as projects but people to genuinely love.
  2. God doesn’t just want you to accept him so you won’t go to Hell, he wants to know you!
  3. Abide in Christ in and he in you. A branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides from the vine.
  4. Sometimes our problems are created by someone’s sin against us and not by our own doing.
  5. Sadness is the gateway to healing, don’t shy away from this emotion.
  6. Look through the lens of others and say, “I might do the same thing if I were them.”
  7. Give more of you, in the time you have.
  8. People desire to be free from all concern.
  9. Music that speaks to the soul has a certain nakedness to it, a vulnerability heard in the singer’s voice.
  10. Live like Pat Tillman. A man of principle.
  11. The choices we make have the power to create a personal Heaven or Hell.
  12. People generally feel their losses more than their gains.
  13. Explicit knowledge (facts) is good, but there is no greater tool than tactic knowledge (experiential knowledge).
  14. A successful life is filled with vital engagement (flow + meaning).
  15. The dream is the birthplace of thought.
  16. Do uncomfortable things every day.
  17. When you want to criticize someone’s dream, pause, then tell them all of the reasons why they will make it.
  18. The most powerful question in the universe is, “Why?” Be careful with it.
  19. We all want to be happy. The question we all need to ask is, “How long do I want to be happy for?”
  20. Profit by your mistakes.
  21. Don’t base your happiness on fortune. Fortune is fickle, she comes and goes as she pleases.
  22. Love > Knowledge.
  23. “Pleasure: cannot be sustained past the activity producing it. Happiness: can produce sustainable results” – Matthew Kelly
  24. You can get all A’s and flunk life.
  25. Some things, like a kiss, cannot be explained by the description.
  26. Hurt people, hurt people.
  27. You can never have enough of what you don’t really need.

Here are some of my favorite quotes…

“Wise men still seek Jesus today” – Matthew Kelly

“Fortune is fickle, she comes and goes as she pleases. If you take her as your mistress you have no right to be upset when she is chained to your side.” – Jonathan Haidt

“Chop your own wood, It’ll warm you twice.” – Mike Rowe

“Those who have swords and know how to use them, but keep them sheathed, shall inherit the earth.” – Matthew 5:5

“A kiss cannot be explained accurately by the description. Some things are like a kiss.” – John Eldredge

“Learn this from me. Holding anger is a poison. It eats you from the inside. We think that hating is a weapon that attacks the person who harmed us. But hatred is a curved blade. And the only harm we do, we do to ourselves.” – Mitch Albom

“Life is rushing around doing urgent things. If you aren’t careful, your whole life will be urgent. The funny thing is, the most important things in life are hardly ever urgent at all.” – Matthew Kelly

“If breath fills your lungs, it is not too late!” – Hugh Prather

“The thing has already taken form in my mind before I begin. The first attempts are unbearable. I want you to know that if you see something worthwhile in what I am doing, it is not by accident but because of REAL DIRECTION AND REAL PURPOSE.” – Vincent Van Gogh

“Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there–on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.” – Carl Sagan

“We are the bodies of broken bones. I guess I’d always known but never fully considered that being broken is what makes us human. We all have our reasons. Sometimes we’re fractured by the choices we make; sometimes we’re shattered by things we would never have chose. But our brokenness is also the source of our common humanity, the basis for our shared search form comfort, healing, and meaning. Our shared vulnerability and imperfection nurtures and sustains our capacity for compassion.” – Thomas Merton

“The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.” – Albert Einstein

“I know no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of a man to elevate himself by conscious endeavor.” – Henry David Thoreau

 

~

A year of this information is priceless to me. I don’t think that I could possibly have become the person I am without writing down the things I have learned. After all, we become what we constantly see and hear. I have a dream that someone will find my journal in a thousand years and understand what it must have been like to be me, living in the 21st century. Regardless, of if that happens or not, I am thankful for the freedom to write my thoughts for the next millennia to discover.

 

Tuesday Morning, 1928

On a foggy Tuesday morning in 1928, a boy was born into a rich family in Pittsburgh.

 This boy, like many of the other boys that lived in his neighborhood, was the son of a wealthy businessman who provided for his family. The side effect of this lifestyle was that the boy rarely saw his father. As the boy started grade school, he developed a problem with his weight and was made fun of by the other boys and girls in his class. At this point, there are two ways that the story could go…

Ending 1: The boy needed support, but there was none to be given at home. Instead, he went home and cried in his room, wondering why he was so different. This led to a deep-rooted battle with loneliness that the boy would try to shake as he developed into a teenager. However, the problem only worsened. By the time the boy was 17, it seemed like no one cared. He began drinking heavily to numb the reality he was facing. Over the years, the drinking became less effective and went to harder substances to escape from himself. On a tragic birthday morning, the boy looked himself in the mirror. He was now 28 years old, and couldn’t recognize himself anymore. The drugs had thinned his face and he slid down the wall, landing on the bathroom floor. The boy was now a man. He put his hands to his face and began to cry, wishing that he could find that little boy within. He wished he could go back and have a conversation with the boy. He wished he could tell the boy, “Son, you are enough.”

Fortunately, this was not the ending that the true story took, but it is the far more common ending. The struggle of many people in the west has nothing to do with economic status but more to do with the pain of loneliness. Harvard University recently released the results of a 75 year long study on the topic of happiness . They recruited men from the worst slums in America along with some of the wealthiest men in America. There was even a future U.S. President that was tracked through the years. Their results found that neither money nor fame had any affect on a person’s contentment. A person from a slum had the same capacity for contentment as a wealthy stock trader. The only thing that differentiated the happy from the unhappy was, PERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS. It wasn’t the quantity of “friends” or whether a person was married, but happiness had everything to do with the quality of a person’s relationships. Happiness is not far away, but it lies behind the frightening door of being truly known by someone else.

Link to the Harvard Study: https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2017/04/over-nearly-80-years-harvard-study-has-been-showing-how-to-live-a-healthy-and-happy-life/

Ending 2: The real man from the story above, was an American icon. The man was indeed born to a wealthy family and was severely bullied in school. The difference between this ending and the one above is that, after the tears cleared, the man took away some crucial lessons from his childhood. As the boy turned into a teenager, he was given positive figures in his life that reminded him that he was special and liked just the way he was. They revealed the love that Jesus had for him. This developed the boys confidence and in high school he graduated at the top of his class. When he turned 21 years old, he went went to Rollins College and met the love of his life. Upon graduation, the two lovers moved to Pittsburgh and pursued their shared dream of producing television. On his lunch breaks working at the local T.V. station, the man would walk down the street and take classes at the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. Through this, he met Margaret McFarland, a child psychologist who revealed in him a passion for struggling children. You see, the man had never forgotten the scared little boy he used to be. The man knew he had to do something to help the modern day child, so he pursued a new dream. His vision was to create a T.V. show that addressed the many struggles that children go through. So he started out, going through a failed try with a network in Canada, but he did not quit. Five years later, the man would address the U.S. Senate presenting his idea and addressing the need for a new kind of children’s show in the United States. The Senate was on board within 6 minutes and granted him 20 million dollars for his project. Over 31 seasons later, the scared little boy had developed into a man and he changed the lives of many. With a Christ-like attitude, the man addressed issues such as racism, war, divorce, death, and assassination with young children whom he developed trust with. When he died, he was known for his loving and inclusive heart, welcoming all into his neighborhood.

The man, was Fred Rogers from Mister Rogers Neighborhood. Whom many have known and loved.

Inclusion was the message that Fred Rogers preached. Rogers famously said that everything comes from a place of “love or the lack of it” and in 1981, Mr. Rogers had a young boy named Jeff Erlanger on the program. Jeff had a disability and was crippled from his legs down, but this didn’t stop Mr. Rogers from developing a relationship with the boy through the years. Rogers would constantly have the boy on the show and reaffirm the boy saying, “I like you, just the way you are.” Something we could all hear more of.

Each of us has the opportunity to be the light in each other’s lives. Christ preached the simple gospel that reached out to the broken people of the world. If you look closely, we are all broken, and it’s our brokenness that makes us human. Fred Rogers could have easily believed the lies that were fed to him early on and ended up like the man in the first story. Instead, Fred was encountered by an impenetrable force that we all hold the power to. Love.

“We are bodies of broken bones.’ I guess I’d always known but never fully considered that being broken is what makes us human. We all have our reasons. Sometimes we’re fractured by the choices we make; sometimes we’re shattered by things we would never have chosen. But our brokenness is also the source of our common humanity, the basis for our shared search for comfort, meaning, and healing. Our shared vulnerability and imperfection nurtures and sustains our capacity for compassion.” – Thomas Merton

Fred Rogers changed the world, leaving a lasting legacy by refusing to sell his love to others. Instead, Mr. Rogers gave his love away for free.

 

Myopia

The lack of sight leads to the slow death of a man.

Among the many diseases that plague a person’s vision, myopia best illustrates the trend our culture is developing. Myopia is a unique illness that causes extreme nearsightedness. A man that suffers from Myopia, will not be able to see past the objects in his immediate vicinity.

Our communities have a problem. It is the problem of myopia. People seem to only be able to look a few moments into the future. While this way of life creates a lot of dopamine (a neurotransmitter associated with momentary pleasure), it leaves little lasting fulfillment. I believe that the epidemic of myopia is the reason we have so many young suicides. So many young people without purpose, vision, or drive. In the Bible, there is the story of Jacob and Esau. They both were to be granted a birthright but there was one problem. Isaac, their father, loved Esau more than Jacob. This lead Jacob to act in jealousy and trick Esau to trade his birthright in for a bowl of soup. I go back to this story and have pinned it “The Esau Complex.” Why is this so rampant in our society?

Each one of us falls victim to “The Esau Complex” every day. We find ways around an eternal mindset and focus on only surface level things. We ask only the bare minimum of ourselves. (“What will I eat?”, “How will I get my work done as easily as possible?”, “Can I eliminate the obstacles in front of me?”). All of these questions are dopamine raising questions, but they leave little hope for accomplishing life’s greatest goals. Each one of us is searching for fulfillment and we each do what we “think” is best for us. The problem is, we don’t have the slightest clue of what we most deeply desire. Many chase money, only to sacrifice their relationships. Others choose fame, which leaves them bare, never having enough. Too many turn to drugs, which takes a life and spits on it before it destroys it.

My point is, you can never have enough of what you don’t really need. We have to lose our Myopic perspective and realize where we are. We are living among the stars, suspended in air on a pale blue dot, where everyone has ever lived and died. I pledge my allegiance to the intelligent creator who meant for me to live in this reality.

An Eternal Perspective

The Story of the Businessman

One of my favorite stories is about a stressed out businessman who decided to take a vacation to Mexico. One morning, the businessman went out to the docks to watch the sunrise. As he took in the brisk air and vibrant colors, he couldn’t help but notice a middle-aged fisherman coming in from a morning of fishing. The businessman was confused as to what the fisherman was doing coming in to shore so early.

The businessman asked,

“Hey, may I ask what you are doing?”

The fisherman responded,

“Oh, I am just coming back from a nice morning of fishing!”

“Well what do you do with the rest of your day?” the businessman asked.

“Well, I usually just go home. I like to take a nap in the mornings, spend time with my family, and I play in a mariachi band with my friends at night!” the fisherman said

The businessman began to offer advice to the fisherman saying,

“You are doing it all wrong! I will help you make more money, but first you are going to have to stay out on the water for longer! This way you can hire another employee and make more money!”

“Then what?” the fisherman asked.

“Well then, you will be eventually making enough money to buy another boat.”

“Then what?” the fisherman asked.

The businessman was taken back but was determined to answer.

“Then you will be able to buy other boats and produce more.”

“Then what?” the fisherman asked.

Visibly agitated now, the businessman started

“Well then, you will have a whole fleet of boats, produce enough to where you will have many distribution centers, and be sitting in an office in New York City, making milions!”

“Then what?” the fisherman asked one last time.

This made the businessman think deeply for a moment and he thought about what he would do.

“If I were you, and I had all that money, I suppose I would move to Mexico, fish for the fun of it, take naps, spend time with my family, and play music with my friends.”

The fisherman laughed.

Project Resoration

Jack Yelken.

This is a man who I know very little about, but there is no denying that he left a massive impact on my life. Without Jack, I cease to exist. He was the Grandfather I never met. The middle aged man that never grew old. The father who never got to see his son married. From what I do know about Jack Yelken, he seemed to be a reclusive man. He valued working hard, keeping his head down, and remaining humble. The greatest sin in his mind was getting “the big head.” You never thought of yourself as better than someone because of your accomplishments. You were only as good as the next man, regardless of what you did.

When my Dad was 21 years old, Jack died of a heart problem and I would only be able to hear stories of the man. Somehow, I always felt he was nearby. Growing up, I would visit my grandma and become awestruck by one of Jack’s prized possessions, His stereo system. The speakers took up the entire back wall of Grandma’s tiny basement and I could only imagine the sound that the system would produce. The one problem is that the speakers didn’t work. They had been neglected in the years after Jack’s passing, as my Grandma had no use for them and were lost to decay. With an extensive record collection and no outlet, the situation seemed to be a metaphor for a life left unlived.

RESTORATION

This past summer, a new metaphor developed as my Dad looked at me and said, “I think I want to hear some of my dad’s old records play again.” Dad started buying parts throughout the year and having them delivered to grandma’s house. He consulted with many different companies about how to fix the old stereo. I had never seen him so dedicated to something so seemingly small before, so I knew this meant more to him than just hearing some music. By last June, my dad and I were ready for the moment of truth. We headed to my grandma’s house and knew that there were two ways this could play out...The records would either play, or they wouldn’t. The stakes were high. It seemed that Jack would either show up or he wouldn’t. Like he was waiting for us to take his music and carry it into the future.

We worked through the day, connecting wires and tinkering with the record player. Around 7 PM, it was time to see what would happen. My dad put a Beatle’s record on the player and I will never forget the sound that resonated through my grandma’s sleepy old house. The Stereo worked again. The song “Here, There, and Everywhere” by The Beatles roared and this will forever be ingrained in my memory. Chills overcame my body and I began to get emotional.

A man that I had never met lived on through his music. I believe that one of our greatest fears as humans is being forgotten. This day, Jack was not forgotten. I imagined my family in the future. What if a relative found something of mine that explained part of who I was? The sounds and words of my youth, uncovered from their slumber and my memory awoken. It was an image so powerful. Life is short. We have one shot to find the life that wants to live us.

It begs the question, what do you want to be remembered for? What music will you make and leave behind?

“We are the music-makers,

And we are the dreamers of dreams,

Wandering by lone sea-breakers

And sitting by desolate streams;

World losers and world forsakers,

On whom the pale moon gleams:

Yet we are the movers and shakers

Of the world for ever, it seems.”

– Arthur O’Shaughnessy