Friday, December 25, 2009

Rae Family Christmas

I had a good time at the Andersons' for their Christmas dinner. It's amazing how many people that they invite to the meal as they extend the table by adding two addition tables that reaches into their living room. They have family and friends of all sorts, good food and good conversation.

What I appreciate about their family is that they are great example of how a family looks. They evidently love each other, share that with others and there isn't a falseness about it. They are inclusive to the guests at the table and there is a distinct sense of community. I have been blessed to get to come back here for the last several years. It's almost like I'm some sort of distant cousin.

Over the last couple of years though, I have been getting an itch. I am slightly uncomfortable as I approach their door. Not because of anything that they do. It is purely me. But I start thinking about how I am still requiring them to be my venue for a Christmas. If they didn't have them it would not be much of a Christmas at all. I have been trying to ween myself off of their dinners. The first couple of times I went, I was fine with that because I couldn't get home and I figured that it'd be a good thing. Now, I still need that dinner to have a Christmas and that doesn't sit right. For myself, a couple of times is fine, but now I feel like it's a sign of me not getting my life in order.

I really wanted to go home for Christmas. I wanted to go with Darwin back to Minnedosa and spend it with mom and have a semblance of a real Rae family Christmas which we have not had since 2003. Last year, the three of us were together but we still couldn't summon our own Christmas so we went to the Andersons'. This year was supposed to be different, but it turned out the same because I don't have a lot of money.

What it all comes down to is that I really want a family but I don't know how to create family. I see how the Andersons are at Christmas and I want that for my family. I realize that a lot of people are not the Andersons and I also realize that the Andersons assumably are not perfect (although evidence of that is not apparent), but that's what I want to work toward. I have no idea what that looks like. I saw it again last night as I was hanging out with my friends, Brad and Trish. They had their Christmas tree up and lights and little Christmas decorations that they put up together and gifts under the tree. When I saw how many gifts they had under there I was kind of taken aback. It means that either they bought a lot of gifts for each other (which I can totally see since they are definitely still in that lovey-dovey honeymoon phase) or that a lot of their family had sent them gifts. I'm not a big materialist and I don't want a bunch of stuff at Christmas or anything, but they definitely had a connection to their family and possibly to their extended family that I do not. The Andersons have so many in their family they have to do an arrangement of one person gets one other a person a gift instead of requiring everyone to buy a gift for everyone in their battalion. They have too many people for Christmas. I have to buy two and I'm done. And I have a ridiculous extended family.

Both my mom and my dad come from the generation of ridiculous family sizes. My dad had something like nine brothers and sisters and mom had eleven or vice versa. But we don't see any of them. I don't really know any of them. I think the state of my family is evident in the fact that I don't even know the number of them. I have tried to go and see some of them, I try to talk to them at funerals (which is the only way I have seen my family). I know I am not blameless in this because I have family in the city that I don't see but I haven't carved out time for them.

Admittedly, an extended family the size of mine is perhaps a little much for a person to try to keep current with, but I don't even have this family thing figured out enough to have a proper Christmas with them. That doesn't seem right to me.

That's why when I go to the Andersons for the nth time or see Brad and Trish's tree I regret the state I am in. I thought this Christmas was going to be different. That I was going to make it different, but I didn't have the discipline to do it. When I was with Rebecca, I was actually looking forward to Christmas, because I thought I could make it different. Move towards a family. However, I have to come back and leach another Christmas for my brother and I from a family that knows family.

Don't get me wrong. I love the Andersons and their welcome for my family to the table. I don't want this post to come off as an attack on them. If anything, I want them to know that they are the model of family I want to emulate for my own. It just sort of hurts to go there. Just a little.

This all said, I am thankful to God for growing up in a family, broken and lacking as we are, that is not an abusive one. One where we know each other's faults and want what's good for each other, it's just that we can't seem to pull it together. I am thankful for a brother that is my reminder of a life of simplicity. A life that is content with who he is. I am thankful for a mother who has done her best to bring me closer to a savior that she strives to follow. I am grateful to have found a church family that in times of need are willing to bring me into their family. I am grateful to have some fantastic people who are there to encourage me and challenge me when I need it most. I am thankful for the example of Jesus that gives me a structure to develop myself as a better person.

I am thankful for Christmas, not only as an important religious holiday to remind us that Jesus has come to show us the way and also to remind us that he will come again, but I am also thankful for it as a cultural day to reaffirm the importance of family. Families can be the shelter that helps us through the rough spots and give us the encouragement to become better people and better followers of Christ.

"Is there a cure among us?
From this processed sanity?
I weaken with each voice that sings
In this world of purchase
I'm gonna buy back memories
To awaken some old qualities"
- "Run" from Collective Soul's Dosage

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Charting a Course that Leads to Home

I'm at a bit of a crossroads. For the last month or so, I have been trying to figure out a plan for next year. Amidst a few major changes in what I was planning, I now need to have a strong back up. The funny thing is that every time I talked to someone about what I'm up to, I've given a different answer. I'm processing a bunch of different scenarios. I was thinking about my tour which is starting to feel like less and less of a possibility for me. At least in the way I want.

I was thinking about going to Australia or some such place for a while to go and do something different. I don't know what I expected to find there. And I'm unsure of the financial viability of that.

Now I'm thinking about going back to school in the fall. I was really hoping to avoid heading back to school, mainly for the reason that if I did go back I would most likely have to start from the beginning of a degree. I don't if I can just take on that much more school. And for the longest time, I didn't really know what I would even want to pursue there.

I do realize that it seems like I sound like I'm flaky and can't make a decision for myself. I think that that statement is accurate. I don't know. I haven't ever really known. I had my dreams which weren't really something I wanted to gamble on but I had no back up. I couldn't see where I lived in reality. On top of it, I haven't really had anything to fight for and to spur me on. My motivations had to be internal ones and all my inner self has wanted to do was play video games and hang out.

I'm now in a place where I find that living the way I have been is empty. Games don't keep me occupied. Friends are busy and are unavailable. I got to get with the program. I needed to find my internal motivation.

Damon Lindeloff, one of the executive producers and head writers of Lost, talked about bringing on new writers into the production of the show and he said that each person brings about ten thousand hours of experience to the table. Some people have focused on a few areas and others have a breadth of knowledge. But no matter who it is, they have a pool of experience that they have. I thought it was interesting to look at it in that way, because even if you haven't had a lot of schooling or time spent in training, you still have an enormous amount of time that you've spent experiencing and learning.

It was kind of encouraging and gave me a starting point to consider my future and where I can use my experience. And I've come to realize that the majority of my experience involves kids. Spending time with them, counseling them, entertaining them, preaching to them, and teaching them. I never thought that I was ever the greatest with them, but they seem to like me and I love making them laugh. I always used the youth events as a platform to practice my performance and writing. In the end, maybe all of that was merely a vehicle to get me into a place of understanding kids.

I really don't want to be a youth pastor or anything like that, but maybe I could be a teacher. I remember helping my friends in math classes and helping them understand the new concepts that we were learning. Apparently, to become a teacher you need a degree and a certain amount of teachables and it turns out that drama can qualify as a major or a minor. If all my stuff can transfer from Providence, then I could possibly be within reach of getting my qualifications for the education program within a year. Then I can do another two years of education and be on my way to doing something as a career that I've been doing for years.

I never thought that I was really cut out to be in the realm of show business. Mostly due to a lack of confidence and a lack of drive. I always felt that I was tolerable and average, but I loved doing it and so I'd do it for fun. But I don't think I can do what it really takes to embrace that life.

A teacher might be something that I'm suited for. I'm good with kids and I love to help others understand concepts. Isn't that what a teacher should be?

When I compare this idea to the one of doing a tour, I feel more at peace or somber or something. I can see myself walking in and putting down my backpack and writing something on the whiteboard and feeling at home. When I think of a tour, I think about both the great times but also the frustration that comes from people. People who disappoint. I can feel the weight of something that is bigger than I can handle by myself, but I don't know of someone who can help. With teaching, it seems manageable. It also has this essence of me bowing out. Realizing that although the world of show business and theatre might be fun, it is not me.

One of the themes of Tolkien was one of knowing your place in the world. We sometimes wish for something that is really not meant for us and so are dissatisfied with the place where we fit. Being in a place of where you do not fit will only hurt in the end. I would like to think that I as approach a new year, I have finally charted a course that leads to home.

"Can the child within my heart rise above?
Can I sail thru the changing ocean tides?
Can I handle the seasons of my life?"
- "Landslide" by Fleetwood Mac from their self-titled album

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

My Experiment of Wanting Something

I know winter is finally here because people are complaining about the weather. I have officially have had enough talk about weather. I get it, winters in Winnipeg are cold. What do you expect? Why do people feel the need to state the obvious. No one was saying anything when we had a bizarro above average November, but now that we have a typical December, people get that stupid look in their eye just as they are about to unleash their keen wit and observation of the meteorological state of the outdoors and say something like "Man, I can't believe how cold it is out there."

You can't believe it? It was impossible to conceive of winter like every other year?

Anyways, this has lead me to the decision that I am going to avoid talking about how cold/warm I currently feel and making unnecessary comment about the weather. I mean, what's the point?

That said, I understand why people complain and why they even like doing it. Complaining is an easy source of conversation. We believe something should be one way and we'd like it another way. We know how we would change things if we could. Usually the answer is the short cut. Just make it nicer outside. More sun. The answer never is: "I wish I was intelligent enough to realize the climate I live in and thus responded in a responsible way and obtain effective protection against exposure to this environment."

I would like to point out that I see the irony in me complaining about complaining. I guess that's what I'm digging at. I want to complain as opposed to actually fixing the problem and changing my perspective. That's where the trick to the whole thing lies.

One of the big things that hinder me from changing my perspective to one that is more upbeat and positive is one that is buried deep into my idea of who I believe I am. I generally don't believe that good things come my way. Now I'm not saying that God doesn't give good things to people or that He should. And I'm also not saying that I think that God hasn't given me good things. I try my best to remember that I have a lot. Food, shelter, people, church, freedom, etc., etc. However, I guess I have lived in that place for long enough to think that those things are the standard. I know it's not the standard everywhere or for everyone, but it feels like it is the standard in the group of people that I spend the bulk of my time with.

So yes, I have good things, but I don't have what I want. Now, I don't have a whole lot of wants. There are maybe a list of things that if I had, that'd be peachy, but it's not like I am overly concerned with getting them. I would like to think that I am generally moving in the right direction about a life of simplicity. But I wonder if that has come out of the idea that I don't believe that I would even get what I want if I wanted something. When I was little, I wanted a certain toy or super powers and I wanted it so bad that I believed that if I wanted it bad enough, magic would summon it to me. I was always disappointed of course because that is not how it works when you come from a lower income family. I eventually came to realize that you often cannot get what you want. So I began to want less and less. And now, I simply don't think it's in the cards for me to get what I want. I realize that there is an assumption that comes from a leap of logic, but that is how I have felt.

I would see my friends or acquaintances get blessed with amazing gifts whether it be money or trips or second chances. Things that amaze me at the graciousness of God and others. I assume that those kind of gifts are for them and not for a guy like me. And what I mean by a guy like me, I mean that one line in "Don't Stop Believin'" that says "some will win/some will lose/some were born to sing the blues". It's not that I am a worthless person or not good enough or that God refuses to give me good things (because He has) but rather that it is simply the way it is. That I am supposed to be the guy that loses so that someone can win.

Everything in this little paradigm was fine until I realize that I wanted to want something. It's a little miserable to have nothing that you want because there is no point. It's related to the typical need to have a purpose but it wasn't quite that. I can't quite put my finger on it. And then I found something I wanted. I was gifted something that I thought I could never have. I was content. No, energized and focused. I told people "I was fantastic" and meant it when they asked how I was. So what happened in my experiment of wanting something and actually getting it? I screwed it up, naturally.

Now I am left in this unsettled place where I have to go back to being content with what I have while still struggling with want. I have to fight my predisposition of thinking that I am one of those people who will not get what I want and so I need to remind myself that I have been blessed. That I have received more than I need. I have to embrace a positive outlook and finding my goals in what God wants from His people.

Complaining about things is not going to change things in our lives, it only is a temporary measure of comfort. And if I really want something, fight for it and remember that sometimes even the underdogs can win one every once in a while.

"Practiced all my sins, never gonna let me win
Under everything, just another human being
I don't want to hurt, there's so much in this world to make me believe"
- "Just Breathe" from Pearl Jam's Backspacer

Thursday, December 10, 2009

What is in the Hatch Already?

I picked up the new season of Lost and it's got me excited once more for my favorite TV show. Yes, even more favourite than 24. As I have watched the show go along and seeing how things are coming together, I am excited to see where the story goes and it has me thinking again about what could be.

J.J. Abrams, the creator of Lost and a director with a keen knowledge of film and story, talked about mystery in stories. He said that mystery is what drives characters through a story. It's what brings the audience through a story. He believes that mystery is key in telling an engaging story.

I was reflecting on how that is not only true in why I am drawn into Lost, but perhaps that is what pulls a lot of people through the story of their own lives. I mean, we have the mystery of how will our career turnout? Who will I marry? Are my kids going to be successful? Who is God? Where do I fit?

People have gotten with how Lost is taking it's time in revealing the nature of the island and what is going on and I think people are missing the point. Although the writer's could tell you what everything is, it would suck the life out of the show. If I had told you what was in the hatch that they found at the end of season 1 and what it does, it would severely take away the wonder and awe of discovering it with the characters and then seeing how the characters deal with it. This wonderment is key because this show is not about the answers. It's about the characters. It's about what the characters do in this situation where they don't know the answers but they continue to live and figure the best way through the chaos.

It's the same for us. We could have definite answers about our future and the exact nature of God, but I think there is something to mystery that needs to permeate into our lives. We can't know every detail for the reasons why things work the way they do and ultimately, I think it would be a disservice to us as individuals created in God's image. If we are wrapped in a mystery, the thing we are left with is who are we in the midst of it all. Who am I going to be despite the situation where there are unknowns. Are we going to throw up our hands and hang out at the beach and wait for death to come get us or are we going to live in such a way that explores the mystery. A way of life that tries to do the best they can with the strange scenarios we are plunked into.

Lost is a show about broken people given a chance to change how they approach their lives and enable them to see their essential true selves in the face of a wall of mystery. Their past lives may dictate why they do things they do, but that doesn't mean they can't change. They can change their fate. And through the grace of God, so can we.

I got troubles, ah, but not today
'Cause they're gonna wash away
They're gonna wash away
And I have sins love, but not today
'Cause they're gonna wash away
They're gonna wash away
- Joe Purdy's "Wash Away" from the album Julie Blue

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Full Circle

It's been a little while since I have come back to my blog and I think that it's funny that they last post is in a place where I once again find myself. As I reflect on these last ten months, it's weird to think that I have come full circle. I was searching for a major change. But I couldn't find it. My scenario really didn't change. I found myself treading into a darker and darker place. I went to Toronto with my brother in order to get away and reflect about what I should do. I had a great encounter with my friend, Michelle, who gave me some encouragement and advice. I then went to speak at Covenant Bay Bible Camp and caught a glimpse of a change. I wanted to not have to feel like I have to settle.

I came back to Winnipeg and got the idea for perhaps doing a new sketch comedy tour. It gave me a goal.

Then came along Rebecca. I won't get too much into it, but one thing that I was enjoying was how things seem to have finally looked like they were progressing. Like I was getting things together. I had a glimpse of a life of hope and a place of what I should be doing and I was moving there.

It all changed, though. I screwed it up. There's not much there to defend me. I found out who really am behind it all, and it turns out that I'm not as good as I thought. I mean, I never had the idea that I was perfect, but I always imagined that I was a higher caliber of guy who just hadn't found his niche. It turns out that I'm not. I'm just another guy who doesn't know who he is. Which is really, honestly disappointing.

I am back at the place ten months ago. I want change. I want to change. I have nothing here. I want nothing here. Well, almost nothing here. I lost my love for people. I lost my love. I lost love. I don't have a desire to do anything. I am passing time, it feels.

Rob reminded me of a Smashing Pumpkins song and the line "I'm in love with my sadness" and if I become like that, he is going to punch me. He's got a good point. I gotta keep on the positive side. And it's been difficult to do so. Really, what I would like is to want. I want desire. I've been so concerned with making other people happy and seeing things from other's perspectives for so long that the idea of what I want has been bleached away and faded. Who is David Rae? I don't know. A lot of people don't really try to look into who I really am and my reflective side. They think I am the guy on stage. People who know me better tell me I'm a hard guy to pin down. That the line between me and my sarcasm is blurred. Now, I fear I may have actually fooled myself this whole time. That even I do not know who I am. Maybe I have to go find him.

"When everything starts to fall
So fast that it terrifies you
When will you hit the wall?
Are you gonna learn to fly?

No one would believe it
Except for all the people
Watching as you fly away

Baby when I get home
I want to pick up the pieces
Hammer in the final nail
And lean me up against Jesus"

- "Time Bomb" from Dave Matthews Band's Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Times Like These

I've been feeling that something needs to change. It's been the same old same old. It seems like the last three years have just been playing on repeat. Recently, I've been trying to find ways to get out of the lull but nothing has been really working. I've been rather disappointed with myself and the circumstance I find myself in. In the next little while, I think I need to do something big and get my story going and find the place where I'm supposed to be. It's a little tiresome being in this place and having relatively little change.

Of course, the other side to this is maybe this is just part of life. That uncomfortability of where you are is just the nature of change that humans look for. Maybe I'm in a blessed because I am not tied down to anything. There is nothing holding me back. I can make a huge change and it won't really affect too much.

The question is. What kind of change do I need?

"I, I'm a new day rising
I'm a brand new sky to hang the stars upon tonight
I, I'm a little divided
Do I stay or run away and leave it all behind?
It's times like these that you learn to live again
It's times like these you give and give again
It's times like these you learn to love again
It's times like these time and time again"
-"Times Like These" from Foo Fighters' One By One