4 Takeaways From 2018

We are the living stars. The product of the unfathomable. The immeasurable. The electrons that manufacture consciousness. – May 20, 2018

This is what I wrote in my journal last May as I began to consider of the wonder of creation. Last May, I wrote a few things down that I had observed from 2018. While my views might have changed since then, I write this blog in an effort to dig into the past and explain my discoveries.

4 Things I Have Taken Away From 2018:

1.) Pure Evil is an Over-attributed Quality

In today’s age, It is easy and sometimes irresistable to assume the worst about people. If a person does not act in a way that alligns with our views, we assume that evil has overtaken their hearts. While people’s actions might be destructive, people generally do what they THINK is the best thing for them even if they are wrong. A thought that can terminate our bad assumptions about people is, “If I were them, I might have done the same thing.” This statement is always true because if we had a person’s genetic makeup, tendencies, childhood, and moral compass, we WOULD make the same choices as them!

2.) Enjoyment is in Small Victories and Not in the Euphoria of Accomplishment

Time and time again in life, we seem to make the mistake of going after a feeling that will only disappoint us when it comes. We think that reaching our goals is when our enjoyment of life will finally reach new heights…this is not true. One of my favorite stories is about the rise and fall of the professional tennis player, Andre Agassi. He absolutely hated tennis growing up but he stuck with it, assuming that if he became the number one tennis player in the world, his efforts would be worth it. Andre famously said that the worst day of his life was when he finally became the number one tennis player in the world….and felt nothing. When doing anything in life, it is the small micro-victories that feed our happiness and not the overestimated feeling we predict we will experience when a milestone is reached.

3.) Criticism Hardly Ever Works!

If you want to help a person, it is easy to criticize what they are doing wrong, but it is difficult to patiently inspire change in a person’s heart. I write this truth as a general statement. There are CERTAINLY times when we lovingly tell our friends that they are on a path to destruction, but these times always come out of the higher place of LOVE. If you want a person to change, telling them how taking a different approach would improve their lives always works better than telling them how their actions are effecting your life. In 2018, we need people who are firm in their morals, but we also need people to communicate out of love instead of selfishness.

4.) Your Physical State Has a Crucial Effect on Your Happiness.

Many people go their whole lives, and give little thought to excercise, prayer, or meditation. They convince themselves that they are too tired and busy to implement these things. I’ve asked many co-workers what their plans after work and I often hear, “Oh, I’m going to go home and sleep.” or “Ahh, I’ll probably go home and watch some Netlfix before bed.” Now imagine this routine going on for days, months, and years at a time. This is the life of quiet desperation that Henry David Thoreau talks so fearfully of. In 2018, I have discovered my love for running, taking long walks, and talking to the Creator of the Universe. When I take the time to breathe deeply and enjoy the moment I am currently in, there is no room for worry to take a hold. Instead of going home and sleeping or watching Netflix, imagine taking a run in the local park for a year. There is no question that a person is happier when making physical activity a consistent part of their lives.

The Graying of the Night

I wrote this poem after reading the Mitch Albom classic, 5 People You Meet in Heaven.

Written and read to the song Welcome Chris in the film “The Pursuit of Happyness.”

The Graying of the Night

Withering Day, O faded time

Yesterday felt so sublime

The sun was bright, my heart ran fast

But night will come, and refill my glass

Dreaming Mind, again, again

The years go quick my friend, they blend

Distraction came moments ago, it adds to fill a mortals blow

Life will end, it will begin

Love will start, it might rescend

Work will build, the cracks it filled

Pain is there, felt with a glare

Knowledge comes, it leaves me bare

Fear the knowing that it’s near

The night

it comes

I’m scared, I’m scared

For my hair to change, to faded gray

My youth I hold, Like Peter Pan

I long for the, eternal flare

My breath it goes

My soul it slips

Possessions here have lost their grip

I see his face

My body new

Redemption now, reveals it’s true

This poem was written as I began to think back on my first 21 years here on Earth. I began to think about my life in terms of what I was doing on the days that my age changed and realized that almost everything changes in a 3-4 year time frame. This can be a daunting thought as many get to the end of their life and feel that they left an untapped spirit. My comfort regarding this fear is that we have all meant far more to the people around us than any of us realize. The book, 5 People You Meet in Heavenis about a maintnence man named Eddie. It starts with the end of his life and he enters the afterlife feeling that his life was meaningless…that is until he began to meet his people. Mitch Albom paints a picture of heaven in which the first thing that you do when you get there, is find out why you were on Earth. In the story, God chooses to introduce Eddie to the 5 people that either changed his life or he changed their’s without either of them knowing it. I truly believe that we have an impact far beyond what we could have imagined. Like a butterfly flapping it’s wings that causes a chain reaction, our actions have meaning. 

My Deepest Grievance

Sometimes I sit and wonder about the future. The oppurtunities of tomorrow that like a tree, are spreading their roots, to one day be fully visible. The Future is a happy thought for me as it reassures that the past, while important, is not a matter to be concerned with. I can only imagine what the image of future greatness looked like in the 1960’s. During that time, they lacked the ease of today. It was difficult. My father walked up hill to school both ways and had to tame a stallion to ride home from college (if I remember correctly). However, he had something that I believe we are beginning to search for today.

My deepest grievance with today is our loss of social interaction…and our unwillingness to care about it.

GOOGLE

Google, invented in 1998, has without a doubt changed the course of mankind. If you have a question, you can have an answer in a matter of seconds. This is a form of omnipotence. When I was a child, I remember the interactions my family would have with friends and strangers. They’d pull over at a gas station and ask for directions, call a friend about how to fix the air conditioning unit, and ask a cashier how they were doing every once in a while. When is the last time we used a human as our “Google?”

Nowadays we take our questions to Google, our thoughts to Twitter, and our dreams to Instagram.

Some people become defensive when you say that their relationship with headphones, a monitor, or a phone screen could be harmful. But they are the same people who believe that playing Fortnite for 4 hours counts as a real memory. Contrary to popular belief, video games are not the same as going to the baseball diamond and hitting a line drive over your buddies head. Gamertag Skj879 will not console you when you’re feeling depressed, but the hours spent in front of a screen will certainly lead you into depression.

“We act as a sea lion who has mistaken a puddle in the desert for the vastness of the ocean.” – John Eldredge

2018 starves for something real. We want real wood, organic food, and don’t even think about offering your buddy Pepsi products. But the sad part about 2018 is that we have forgotten what we truly crave.

We long for real relationships. Time spent with one another with no agenda and no time frames. We have failed to realize that what we desire is right in front of our noses but we choose to interact with an LED screen instead.

My reccomendation is to shed away the distraction. Lift your head. Focus on those around you. A great part of our purpose is to know others and be known by them.

“We rush around fulfilling our urgent duties and if we aren’t careful our whole lives will be filled with urgency. The funny thing is, the best things in life are hardly ever urgent.” – Matthew Kelly

A Jumpy Old Man

Age. A product of time that comes with experience, maturity, and knowledge. I think of growing old and imagine a man with increased love, decreased mobility, and an infinite amount of hope. 


This past week, I was taken off guard by something so utterly simple yet revealing. I was pulling into my parking spot at Publix late at night, in my headlights I saw a man with a white beard and a shopping cart. As I swung into the parking spot, I saw his eyes go wide and he jumped in fear. This didn’t compute in my brain. It brought to my mind an avoided topic in many of today’s social circles.


DEATH.


In society, I am finding a collective resentment towards age. Why? Because age leads to our fate. A slow taking of our bodies by the grave that will lead to one of the most avoided questions. What happens when we die? I found it so strange that the OLD MAN at Publix still jumped in the face of death. At this moment in time, I am in the form of a young man. But eventually, the days will add up into something of meaning. A life. However, the only way I see someone truly living, is if they thoroughly make peace with death and never turn back.


One of my favorite movie scenes is from “City Slickers.” Billy Crystal’s character finds himself turning 40 years old. He goes to his son’s career day and has to tell the kids what he does. He is a radio ad salesmen and ashamed of it. He gives a speech to the class saying… 

“Value this time in your life kids, because this is the time in your life when you still have your choices, and it goes by so fast. When you’re a teenager you think you can do anything, and you do. Your twenties are a blur. Your thirties, you raise your family, you make a little money and you think to yourself, “What happened to my twenties?” Your forties, you grow a little pot belly you grow another chin. The music starts to get too loud and one of your old girlfriends from high school becomes a grandmother…” 

This is a comedic scene from the movie, but it hits me because it accurately explains the timeline of the American life. We grow up, believe that we need something more to make us happy, we think we have time, and wake up one day to realize that we have lost our time. At this point, we are in danger. We forfeit our ability to live moment to moment. Our soul has died long before our body. 


I talk to many young people who say they don’t want to look back at their life and say that they wasted their younger years. I have thought long and hard about this and can say I don’t want to chase momentary pleasure today if it means forfeiting my older years.


In Ecclesiastes, it says, Yes, a wise man thinks much of death, while the fool thinks only of having a good time now. I find this to be something that we could all benefit from. No man can escape the slow rotting of our consciousness. Yet so few take the time to accept it. 


I don’t want to be the gray old man who isn’t ready to meet the match that awaits me at the other side of existence. I want to love here, love now, and smile when my time comes to go.