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Sunday, July 21, 2013

Faithfulness

It was final. 1-0.

I got in my car and drove for 20 minutes with only a vague notion of where I was going. I finally pulled over in an abandoned parking lot and and took a breath. This was the end of a very long, frustrating day: directionless at work, unfulfilled at home; useless. What had pushed me over the edge was that San Jose beat Seattle 1-0. (I'll let you guess which sport.)

So, I calmed down, put it in perspective and drove home. Over the next few days I began to sort out the silver lining that I had found during that long drive through the night. I learned the value of faithfulness.

The idea of faithfulness had already been bouncing around in my head for a few days before this all happened, but this day was a lens that let me make sense of something which, at the time of all these circumstances and Seattle's regrettable loss, seemed like a gigantic waste of time. So, when I drove past the airport, I thought about running away; picking a random destination and taking a break from it all. I wanted to be free from the pain that loyalty had brought me. Wasn't I supposed to be rewarded instead of punished for being loyal? I realized later that true loyalty probably couldn't exist without being tested.

As tempting as running away might be sometimes, I realized that there is something to be said for being faithful. Every time I chose to stand by my sports team or my job, it not only said something about me, but also about the person or thing I was being faithful to. It was a testament to what I thought it was worth. I thought about relationships like marriages and dating, and jobs and friends and how you can only truly have and enjoy those things if you are faithful to them; if you don't run away.

I texted a close friend of mine towards the calmer side of my countryside drive that night, who is also a huge Seattle fan, and told him some of my frustrations from the day. He told me that he was glad that I had driven for 20 minutes in complete fury because I was so worked up over Seattle losing. To him, it showed loyalty; faithfulness; that I actually cared. When he said that I had to agree: I guess I'm glad too.

That night showed me that even when the things that I put my trust into fails, and most of them will, and I get upset, which I do, and feel like running away from everything, which I could, its a chance to be faithful. If I decide that its worth it, and I don't run away, ignoring the exotic notions of leaving everything I know to search for something better, than things will start to be built on that foundation. Trust and respect and honor are all products of faithfulness. Unfortunately, so is pain and despair and disappointment and doubt, but I realized I had to have both, and thats a good thing. I'd much rather have the faith of someone who has seen me fail and stuck with me anyway, than someone who has only seen me on my best day.

I'm glad I was mad enough about soccer to drive into the night and rant and fume and despise San Jose. It made me realize that I'd rather care enough to be hurt by something, than run away from it and never feel a thing.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Missing Things

There is an enduring obstacle in life that when you accomplish something, it is done. Sometimes this is triumphant and satisfying. Sometimes, though, it begins an endless chain of 'what's next?'

Its always been hard for me to finish the last chapter of a book that I really loved, finish a movie I am really enjoying, or go to sleep after an absolutely perfect day. I am always afraid (ridiculously) that there won't be a 'what's next.' I'm afraid that there will never be anything as good as what I have right now.   

As I've gotten older, that has gradually gotten easier...in some ways. There are no longer (very many) unfinished books  on my shelf and I watch movies with every intent of seeing how they end. I've realized that as I move through life, it is very rewarding to have things complete. However, this made me realize something larger about my own life. I've realized that I'm reluctant to give up my job that I hate, or stop dating someone that I really shouldn't be, or any number of risks because it means I will have to surrender to the unfathomed, unknowable future.

Maybe this is what springs up in me when I come to the last chapter of a book or the end of a great movie or to the end of a relationship or the end of a journey; this age-old fear that the adventure has come to an end and I have no guarantees that it will come again. The flip-side of that fear, as the wise Laura Danly once said, is the excitement that comes from the very same source: not knowing what will happen.

I think what I have learned in my short experience is that although adventures and exciting events in life come to an end, and it may seem like the end forever, something new will always come to those who are willing to wait for it and are curious enough to find it. Sometimes it even finds me, in that moment (as cliche as it is) when I least expect it. In my opinion, it is better to enjoy the adventures when they come and let them go when their gone. There will always be more. 

The other thing I have learned is that when I surrender the long-dead ghosts of my adventures and give up the things that I thought couldn't get any better, that is when I find that they can, actually, get better. That is not a guarantee that the next stone I turn over will lead to action-packed-adrenaline-fueled-ride-of-my-life, but I think that it is better to give yourself to the present than to constantly reach back to the past.  

The third thing that I have learned is what helps me when all interest has drained from my life and more things are ending than beginning: that life is full of surprises.    

Monday, July 8, 2013

The Patriot


One of my 4th of July Traditions over the past couple of years (which I hope will become a long-standing, time-tested tradition) is to watch The Patriot. For some reason, I had never realized what a foundational movie it was to me. The story of a good man overcoming all odds, being a boss, and winning the American Revolution is a familiar one to me. However, I noticed a few points of note from this year's watch through that stood out to me and that I think are very relevant to everyday life.

Here they are:

1. You have to have principles.
I think this might be the most important, foundational thing of all: if you have beliefs, whether latent or active, you will need them for any sort of battle. I think this is because in order to have a battle, there have to be opposing sides. Cultivating principles is tantamount to choosing a side. (Just fly in the face of "Some Nights." Just do it.)

2. You might not want to fight for something, but you might have to.
I either want to fight and don't know what the heck I'm fighting, or I don't feel like fighting for anything and find as many excuses as I can for why I can't. I'd like to think that when opposition or injustice comes, I would choose to fight it, but more often than not, I have to be forced into it, or go kicking and screaming.

3. You might lose everything.
Possessions, property, homes, family, friends, and possibly you own life will be taken from you. That is the cost of believing in a revolutionary idea. Its hard, painful, and leads to despair. However...

4. You are never just fighting for you.
I often feel like I'm alone; alone in what I deal with, alone in my ambitions, in how I think, and in what I think is right. The thing is, when I start fighting, I start to see the invisible soldiers: people around me who are dealing with their own battles. Sometimes its the same battle that I'm fighting. Fighting for something brings out who I really am. Its like Fight Club. I don't even know it most of the time, but the battles I fight matter to everyone who I matter to and for everyone who will ever matter to me, simply because what I fight for will define my whole life.

5. Some things are worth fighting for.
If it is something I believe in, base my life on, realize I must fight to protect it and sacrifice everything for it, it must be something really unpopular, something that may seem really delusional, and something that seems worth it. I hope I'm brave enough to fight for those things.  

I'll see you out on the battlefield.