Sunday, June 26, 2011

David Rae and the Iconic Hat

Last night, I was walking home from a journey over to Tim Hortons where I finished a puppet script. I was wearing my new hat that I've had for a month when I had bought it for a night when I impersonated Neil Young at karaoke (It was a terrible impression undoubtedly). The hat was also going to double as Indiana Jones' fedora for a game I had concocted for camp based on the movies. It was going to be fantastic.

When I first wore the hat, I was initially uncomfortable wearing it around Nelson, but it grew on me. I liked it. It was a sweet hat. It was a cowboy's hat.

I was wearing it along with my black corduroy jacket and had my laptop bag slung over my shoulder (which, now that I think of it, is like a modern day version of the satchel that Indy had). As I walked down the street lamp lit streets of Prince Albert back to my billet's place, I noticed a probably high, young guy climbing on top of road construction equipment that was resting on the shut down side of one of the main streets of the town. I kept a cautious eye out for him and continued on my way. I turned the corner and knew that there was only four blocks back to my place. After walking down one block, I could hear the guy shouting at me to slow down over top of the music playing in my earphones.

I casually removed my earphones and put them away in my breast pocket and listened closely. As I continued along the second block, I scanned the dark trees of the Kinsmen Park to make sure no one else may be lurking. I could hear the guy get closer and continue to call for me to slow down. As I approached the end of the second block, I turned and faced him.

What comes next was one of the strangest conversations I've had. I supposed I don't talk to a lot of drugged individuals, but it takes on a special tinge of bizarro in the middle of the night all alone in the city with a federal penitentiary. I won't get into details, but it essentially went like this. He initially thought I was someone else, then talked about how he was in trouble, then he started to call out for people in the park (who weren't there). At this point, I told him I was not going to help him because he was making me super uncomfortable. I walked across the street and he followed. He claims that he just said that because he was afraid of guys coming after him or something. I understood he was trying a wide range of cons on me all at once. He pleads with me to take his shoe because it will save him from his dad who hates him because he's half-white. Yes, I typed all of that right.

In the middle of this conversation, my mind is thinking of my exit. I realize that I am only two blocks from home and that the girls from the team are there along with two young daughters of the house. I did not want him to know where I stayed. If this was just me, then who cares, he's not a threat to me, but there are the others. And this guy is unpredictable.

He clings to me and I keep breaking his grasp and claims that I will save him. I continue to let him know that I can't but he moves in cause he wants a hug.

For whatever reason I let him hug me.

Immediately, his hands move to grab my hat.

I quickly snatch it back from his shaky grip. He then begs me to give it to him.

My mind is still figuring out what the solution to this is. It jumps to the price tag of the hat and to use of it later in the summer. It jumps to the wisdom of running or fighting to thoughts of pacifism. And the one that hit the hardest was my thought of letting go of things.

This hat didn't matter. Maybe it would placate him. Maybe I need to let it go. So, I handed it over.

The guy takes on a more aggressive tone and tries to intimidate me with a monologue that sounds like it was written by the Ultimate Warrior using overly aggrandizing language of the heavens and the spirits and forces of nature and other improvised crock. I realized I made the wrong move. I gave him confidence. But I did not want violence to be my answer. Not over a hat.

I turn and start walking away telling him that he's got the hat and let me be. He preaches his monologue further like a Bond villain and as I plot my next move. Then a cop car flashes his lights. I approach the car and tell him the guy has my hat as the punk half-stumbled, half ran away.

The cop asks me, "Why don't you just take it back?" which was weird considering I am the cop here.

"I just want to get home."

"I can't really do anything, I've got another in the back already."

I tell him it's alright and head home watching to make sure the punk was not lurking around.

I tweeted about it and went to bed. The girls knew about it in the morning because of that and I kind of brushed the event off, giving minimal details. I really didn't want to hear the "I thought something like this would happen..." but I heard it anyway. The presumptive question was asked, "So, did losing that hat really bother you?" as though I were petty.

To a degree, yes, it bothers me. That hat cost a decent chunk of change and I barely had it for a month. We were going to need it later in the summer and so I couldn't just let the loss be done with, I will be throwing down money for a replacement. Yeah, it bothers me, but that is not the money or the hat itself that really bothers me.

I can't help but think that I have just enabled this guy further. I gave him the ability to terrorize people further. My pacifism has let him potentially harm people in the future. I didn't stand my ground like I could have and made him back down.

I have talked quite a bit, especially recently, about becoming the heroic version of yourself. Was I really doing that in that moment? I can't help but think that the reason I lost the hat of the hero, is because I am not one myself. This came at the end of a day where I felt like I kept failing. I didn't plan the day out right and I almost got the team in an accident. The cost of the hat and the style of the hat is not what ultimately bothers me about losing it, it's the idea that I failed to be the thing I want to be most. Hero. And the fact that the item I lost in the event is symbolic of a classic hero makes it hit that much harder.

Now, before you all get on the band wagon of "Suck it up Sally" or "You did the right thing" or "You shouldn't beat yourself up over it", I am aware that I am not defined by this event. But what it has me wondering is what does my heroic persona look like?

"I see a bad moon rising
I see trouble on the way
I see earthquakes and lightning
I see bad times today
Don't go round tonight,
Well, it's bound to take to take your life
There's a bad moon on the rise."
- "Bad Moon Rising" from the Creedence Clearwater Revival album "Green River"

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Advice for David Rae

You can't help liking who you like. This is a phrase that I use over and over when I talk with people about who they like. Whether it's that person who would be the perfect match for you or the one who would bring a world of trouble to your life, sometimes you can't help liking who you like. Maybe it's the way they look or the way they hold themselves or the connection you've made with them. Who knows? Attraction is fickle and so are we. That's okay. It's apart of our nature.

Sometimes, we find ourselves attracted to people who are just not meant for us. Whether they are married to someone else or we are a great distance from them or you just know in your gut that it would not work, we still are drawn to them. We think that if things were different maybe you would be together and it would be wonderful and perhaps you would be right. However, that is not the reality. You cannot or perhaps should not be with them for whatever reason and yet you like them.

Some would say that those feelings are wrong or even a sin to have. I don't believe so. You can't help liking who you like. It's okay to be attracted to or admire someone. I think we do ourselves a disservice by not admitting to ourselves that we are attracted and try to pretend that it isn't true.

However, I think the problem comes in when we are attracted to someone and we move forward with it when we should not. Just because you are attracted to someone (which is okay), it does not mean you are in full rights to a romantic relationship to that person.

If you should not be pursuing a relationship that is out of bounds for you, then you shouldn't. The classic example of King David sending a man to his death on the front lines so that he may take the dead man's wife is this overreaching of attraction. We have thousands of examples from people we know or history or the arts or the tabloids to show how devastating it is and how selfish it is.

I know you may be thinking that everything I have said is obvious and does not need saying. I would hope so but that is sometimes not the case. What I want to warn against is something just beyond this idea.

After we find ourselves unable to be with the one that in our heart of hearts we wish we could be with, we will settle for the second one on the list. We'll date the person for a long time and even choose to marry them, but they still are not truly the one they would choose if they could choose anyone. Perhaps at the alter, they wished it was their ex who was exchanging vows with them, or someone else's spouse, or perhaps an imagined person who no living person could be like. This is where the trouble starts.

I would advise that if the person you are dating or are considering dating is not the number one person your heart is drawn to, you should not be dating. If you are dating and your heart is still attached to another, that is not fair to the person who believes you are with them.

Know who holds the number one place in your heart. Don't pursue any one who is not because it is not fair to them. Don't pursue any one who is not for you, but instead learn how to let go of that person.

I don't say this is easy. I find it extraordinarily difficult even right now. It hurts. I can't help liking who I like. I hope I find the ability to let go so I can move on.

"Loving you isn't the right thing to do
How can I ever change things that I feel?
If I could, maybe I'd give you my world
How can I, when you won't take it from me?
You can go your own way, go your own way"
- "Go Your Own Way" from the Fleetwood Mac album "Rumours"

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Pick Me Up, Love

This will likely be the last entry for a while because as of tomorrow, I will be on the road with the Summer Ministry Team. After these first week and a half, I am excited to work with these young ladies and see what the summer has in store. There will be challenges as I try to adjust to the team and try to lead as best I can. However, we are leaving here in a little over six hours. So, this will (or should) be short.

Tonight at youth, we were talking about the topic of my last blog post which was 'letting go and moving on'. Generally, if I am asked to teach in some capacity and I am given free reign to choose the topic, I will go with one that I am thinking about. I also thought it suited this time in youth's lives as some are graduation and are preparing for their next step.

In my last post, I said that this was the biggest challenge for humankind and that the journey of life is essentially all about moving on. I still believe that. For me personally, it has been sinking into my perspective more and more and how I navigate life. I have more peace and have become more comfortable with the life in which we find ourselves. However, I have also come to see the potential downfalls of this perspective.

The most obvious is passion. More specifically, the lack of it. If one becomes more and more focused on looking to the horizon and willing to let things go and move on, it may get to the point where we won't hold anything for any period of time. We may drift through life, not really participating in any of it. That if the opportunity for something wonderful comes along, we may not try to reach for it at all or do it with a half-hearted attempt.

I don't think this extreme is good either, because this kind of hands-off approach can leave us to miss participating in the wonder of life. Although I don't want to be weighed down by clinging to things for too long and too desperately, I still want to live life. I think of the times when I would ride in the back of a truck going through tall grass and I would reach out and try to grab the tall weeds as I went by in one of those impromptu games that only you play and only you know that you're playing a game. I am simply seeing if I can grab it as I go. Then the weed pulls up out of the ground or snaps and then I try to grab another. I didn't want to simply brush my hands through the grass, I wanted to grab.

In the same way, I don't want to breeze through life with no passion. Perhaps I just need to see those moments or phases in life or special people and relationships that I can grab, experience, and let go when the time is up. I think, if we know that time we have is precious, then we will live with passion. With a love for life and what it has for us and what it can teach us. Then when it comes time for us to let it go, we know that we experienced it well and did not take our time or relationships for granted and we can move on to the next wonderful experience in life.

"Pick me up, love, from the bottom
Up onto the top, love, everyday
Pay no mind to taunts or advances
I'm gonna take my chances on everyday
Left to right
Up and up and inside out right
Good love fight for everyday
Jump in the mud, mud
Get your hands filthy, love
Give it up, love
- Title track of the Dave Matthews Band album "Everyday"
(for the first time, I will share a link to the music video, because it is that fantastic and you should spend the few minutes watching it. Especially, if you are a fan of 30 Rock: )

Friday, June 03, 2011

Letting Go and Moving On

We have started training for this year's Summer Ministry Team and I am excited to be doing it once again. For me, this transition of going back on the team is marking of the end of a year that has indicated a major shift in my life and thought. It has been fantastic. Not that it was without it's challenges, but rather it has been one where things have never made more sense to me. This entry may sound like a repeat of previous entries, but this to me is a summary of some of my thoughts this past year.

Anyway, through out various conversations and even some of my previous blog entries, I have been thinking about what is the biggest challenge for humanity. I was struck with this thought: The experience of humanity is letting go and moving on. This is probably not new to some or even most of you, but it got me thinking (which is a good thing?). People frequently talk about how the scariest thing is change and we often focus on that. We talk about how change is good and yet how it is intimidating. I am, however, starting to think that maybe change is not the problem or solution. I think the root of the fear of change is that we don't really know that letting go and moving on is the journey of life. Change in our lives is not something that is a necessity, but rather is a thing that is coming and there is nothing you can do to stop. The question is more accurately, are you able to accept the change and can you adapt to it?

When we cannot let go, change will cause much more trauma in our lives and it will leave us smashed on the rocks that if we can't figure out what are the things we are to hold onto. When someone dies and we hold on far too long and far too strongly, it may pull you down. You may think that you are drowning in it all. And you would be right. You would be drowning, but not because the person died, that the change occurred, but because you have yet to let go. By the way, I am not saying that we forget the person, but rather when we learn from their lives, then we actually take them with us.

In the same way, when someone commits an evil deed against you or continues to abuse you whether directly or indirectly and we let that act continue to dictate our lives, then we are actually surrendering more of our will and lives to something that shouldn't be in existence. Don't be shackled by the sins of the past. Seek forgiveness. I should point out that this paragraph still applies when you are the someone who commits the evil deed. Don't be shackled by the sins of the past. See what you have done. Identify them. Admit to them. Seek forgiveness and never go back. Let go of your sins and the sins of others otherwise they will bury you.

We cling to things that will never give us what we truly seek. We find that one good thing and maybe it is a really good thing and we cling so hard that we squeeze the life out of it. Whether it is the love of another person, the security of wealth, the power of our own hand, or the comfort of tradition. Instead of recognizing the good in things and being good stewards of them, we tend to take and take and take. Become dependant on those things and when those things fade away or disappear or break under the weight of our greed. We need to be able to let go and we will never be able to move on.

I believe this was what the downfall of Lot's wife was about. As the town she left behind suffered the consequences of their sin, she could not let go. She had to turn and look back and she died. This is a picture of what many suffer. They cling to their past and the way they like and it will cause them to die in their past. All the way from the guy who thought he could have made it in the big leagues if he would have been played in that last high school game to the widow who cannot navigate life without her husband to the man who will cut throats in order to secure his position of comfort.

Moving on, I believe, is like sailing on. Whether it is storming or dark or clear and bright, you continue to move forward, learning as you go. If you don't desire to move forward, then you will find it very difficult to proceed through the gates of heaven. You will only hope that it one day comes to you, when in reality, it beacons you and if you don't go, you may never reach it.

This is all apart of the way of the Christ. This is apart of the life of sacrifice. Putting aside the things that hold us back from reaching heaven whether those things are evil like the sins of the past or the comforts of this life.

The winds of change have come, are coming and will continue to come. Are you ready to let go of things that may destroy you? Are you ready to move on?

"Come gather 'round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You'll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you
Is worth savin'
Then you better start swimmin'
Or you'll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin'"
- The title track of the Bob Dylan album "The Times They Are A-Changin'"