Brother

When between two brothers
an argument divides,
Cast pride beneath
and anger aside

Brothers, in their nature
will posture and fight
But do not sleep in anger
bid quarrell good night!

I love my dear brothers!
But evil tries take
all the good that we’ve built
all the changes we make

The love of a brother
can be nothing but strong
If something stands between,
you must right the wrong!

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The quest for a rich life

I talked to my friend today. He said that while he was in Africa a few weeks ago, he and his family went to a game reserve. He said that it was breathtaking. As he looked out the SUV’s window, while the convoy weaved down a dirt path, he had this desire to throw the door open and run out and be IN the reserve; grabbing clumps of grass with his bare hands.

But he couldn’t do that because lions roamed the reserve. He felt like there was all this beauty in front of him and he could only experience it from a distance.

We started talking. Man, isn’t that just life?

We all know that it could be so much better. We can see something great on the horizon, but no matter how far we run, it still seems farther away. All the ingredients are there for an amazing experience. An exciting color-filled-richness is just out of reach, a place where all our senses are overwhelmed by vibrance and wonder.

We get something else, don’t we? Something tame. Something, boring even. Something frustrating and exhausting instead.

Vibrant is replaced with bland.
Wonder is replaced with mundane.
Excitement is replaced with commitments and time constraints and bills and meetings and progress reports and paperwork.

It’s all available:

Vast oceans – check
Deep forests – check
Fragrant flowers – check
Mysterious wildlife – check
Whistling wind – check
Tall mountains – check
A body to climb – check
Lungs to breathe – check
Eyes that see beauty – check
Ears that hear – check
A nose that smells – check

It’s all there, yet we are stuck in little drywalled boxes – staring at computer screens.

It’s not just beauty were missing, we miss purpose and meaning and depth in our relationships.

Quality time is such a big deal for me. I want to spend every waking moment (almost) with the people I love. Heck, I want to spend moments with people I don’t know too, as long as they are interesting and challenging.

But I don’t get half the quality time that I would like. I sit in my room a lot and rifle through my contact list and call almost everybody. Mostly, people are spending time with their kids or going on double dates or having a night in or are working late. I get it. We are all busy. But that doesn’t change the fact that my heart wants to experience community so badly.

Meeting new people is challenging.

I play guitar at open mic nights and I meet other musicians. After I’ve waited the “appropriate” amount of time, I ask for their number and say we should hang out. I feel like I really connect with some folks, but I set up a date to hang out a week later and get completely blown off.

It’s like people are unwilling to expand their little circles. Circles that make them feel safe and like they’re in control. I heard a joke one time that said, “People talk about Jesus and his miracles. Walking on water. Turning water into wine. But they never talk about his most impressive miracle, having twelve close friends in his early 30s.” That joke got even more real as everyone in my ENTIRE life got married.

I have a desire to always be in community. This is not being fulfilled.
I have a desire to experience the beauty of nature everyday. This has not been fulfilled.
I have a desire to make music with cool people. Stuff gets in the way.
I have a desire to make a living off my writing. I’ve made about $50 so far.

It sounds like a lot of complaining and it may well be, but it’s also true. And it’s true for every single person that I meet. I have said this so many times. I walk around and I see no one who is content. I don’t see a single person who experiences the kind of peace that reverberates throughout a whole life.

I do see people who experience glimpses. I even see people who experience way more glimpses than the average.

I have to wonder, is contentment something that can truly be felt in this life? Or is life just a struggle to try and find tiny moments of clarity and peace.

How do we move forward?

I wish I had the most profound answer to this, but I might have to turn to a well known “Eastern” philosopher: Alan Watts.

He says that man only suffers when he takes seriously what is meant for fun.

He says that we don’t experience the present.

He says the meaning of life is to be alive, but what we do instead is try and achieve something beyond ourselves.

He says if you live for money, you waste your time.

He says faith is letting go.

He says Jesus Christ knew he was God so, wake up and know who you are.

He says If you are writing, then you are a writer.

He says take a deep breath and tell us something that will save us from ourselves.

He says tell us your deepest darkest secret.

He says plunge into change.

He says never pretend to love something you don’t feel.

*                *                 *

He says a whole lot of things on a whole lot of subjects and I’m glad for people like him. Reading those quotes actually really helped me. My take away from all of them is:

You are enough.

Just you. That’s it.

The quest is to find the richness in life:

  • Don’t take yourself or anyone else too seriously
  • The present is more powerful than your dark past or anxious future
  • You are enough; do what comes naturally
  • Waste money, not time
  • There is force bigger than you (call it what you like – God, reality, momentum, force, energy) understand the scale of that larger entity
  • Be the thing that you already know you are
  • Titles don’t just belong to the masters
  • What will the world lose without your voice?
  • Set someone free because of your vulnerability, we all seem to believe we are completely alone and you can look straight into someone’s eyes and say, “I am right here with you”
  • Change is inevitable, jump in with both feet
  • Do not follow false loves

I hope for a day when everything that is wrong will be made right. I hope for a day when all the sad things will come untrue. I hope we can experience the fullness we all know is out there but cannot seem to reach. I hope for complete contentment and peace. The kind of peace that surpasses all understanding.

I hope for a day when my friend and I can go to that reserve in Africa, jump out of the land rover and dig our hands into the beauty of that countryside and laugh about when all of it was out of our reach.

 

(This post is dedicated to Bevan Binder – a man filled with hope and wonder) 

Hold it in

 

Peace, for me, is this fleeting thing. Most of the time, it seems just out of my grasp, like a favorite something dangling right above where I can reach. There are times when I even hate the thought of it because it seems to mock me. I can see it on passerbys’ faces when they hold their significant others close and laugh about these universe secrets that I’ll never know about. ‘Why not me?’ I ask God or whoever is holding down the fort. He is usually pretty quiet and unassuming.

It’s funny though, because I seem to have caught a bit of it right now; peace that is. It feels so nice to wear peace like a christmas sweater – with all the dangling fuzzies rubbing up against my neck. It kind of tickles even. My whole body is missing this swirling, frantic feeling that I have normally – like I’m late to a very important appointment that will determine next year’s salary or something.

I don’t know how peace strikes you. My guess is that it is quite different for everybody. The way I experience it happens first in my chest. Normally, there is this big pretzel knot that squeezes and constricts my heart and other surrounding organs, but then peace comes like this massive set of hands and kneads the dough back to its original state – into a fine pasty, putty that could be molded into whatever I suppose.

That’s always the first step and right after, I can breathe better and more fully. Then peace does something to my eyes. There’s a cloudiness that covers my sight most of the time and after a while it grows thick and hazy – until I can hardly see anything at all. But peace comes and spritzes something like windex into them – only its organic, I think, because it only stings a little – and I can see farther and clearer. I can almost see the future and when you can see that far, you start to realize that, mostly, everything will be alright, and if it’s not going to be alright, then there’s something else in control that’s pulling the strings. Maybe that’s when I realize, whoever this stringpuller is, He or She or both, is more subtle than I thought and I kind of like the delicate nature of it all.

Lastly, Peace grabs a hold of my mind and massages it like when Bugs Bunny opened up Elmer Fudd’s head and played with his brain. Peace kind of rubs the creases and all this tension gets released.

Basically, once Peace has done what it wants, I realize the “big” worries in my life aren’t so big and there are only a few things that are important and I know their first names and get dinner with them a bunch. Oh, and my shoulders relax too, which is nice.

Marty

old_martin

I’m gunna string up this old Martin box
Play some slow, steel blues
Wind her up and pick it down
Maybe grab a friend or two

Many a man and mighty gal
Has called ole’ Marty their friend
Made of wood, nice and loud
I’m with her ‘till the end

A boomin’ voice, thick with mud
Though sharp as crystal too
I like to hear her once a night
Tell me, now how bout you?

A pretty shape, a slender neck
She was crafted here in PA
The bluest grass or thundrin’ folk
Is what Marty loves to play

Battered, bruised though plenty tough
She keeps singing through it all
Takes on a man twice her size
Boy that lady’s got some gall!

The sound of hope came tumblin’ down
The mountains to the plains
Ole’ Marty listened to every word
Whispered to the golden grain

Word traveled fast, soon the city heard
A new sweet country sound
They threw their caps, saluted her
Everyone jumpin’ up and down

She’s not much for praise, she’d rather sing
Those freedom songs she heard
Equal pay! And down with hate!
Marty loved every word

Behind every good man, a Martin guitar
Behind every woman too
I play my baby every night
Singin’ bout red, white and blue!

The lustful man’s lament

Do you reserve your love for me?
Yes, my dear, I do reserve my
love for you, but not you alone
I’m afraid.

I gave little pieces away
to some beautiful flowers whose
petals I collect in a jar by my bed.

I also – ashamedly – give my love
away to this dark abyss. I sit on
the edge and I throw little pennies
down to the bottom.

A penny might not seem like much,
but when you throw one or two
everyday of your life, it starts to
add up.

When I throw a copper piece now,
I can hear it hit all its brothers and
sisters with a metallic clank.

It reminds me of something, the noise.
It reminds me that while I want to give
you all of my everything, there’s a
small fortune sitting at the bottom of a
dark pit, that says otherwise.

Mental Illness Happy Hour: Volume 3

3

All I want to be known for is: being honest. There are other things too, but that one seems to stick out a lot. I want people to look at me as say, “man, that guy is brutally honest.” I want that because it’s my way of living counter-culturally; against the grain.

How do I become more honest?

Well, for one, I think I’m well on my way. Honesty is something I seem to embody. It seems to come a little easier for me than some other folks, but I wasn’t always this way. When I was in middle school, I lied all the time. I lied to girls that I had a crush on, saying I was a guitarist in a touring band. I lied and said that I knew famous people. I lied that I had sex when I was in 7th grade.

I did all this because I didn’t think my actual life was interesting enough.

There was too much normal in my life when I was young and I wanted people to see “off the wall” and “exciting” and “dangerous.” I don’t lie like that anymore because, for one, my life became a little more interesting, filled with difficult challenges and funny stories and the like.

I struggle with self-confidence a ton, but I like to think the decrease in lies means I’m growing a bit in that regard. But, I want to grow more and become the most honest I can.

To be honest, you have to be transparent about how you feel.

You have to explain hard things that could hurt a loved one’s feelings or make a friend feel uncomfortable. Let’s take this moment to talk about some things that are uncomfortable for me, in the name of honesty.

  • I don’t like the way I look: I don’t want my weight to fluctuate so much. When I have to go to a mental hospital, I always gain a bunch of weight. I feel like I cannot attract the kind of girl I want because I look “too big” and honestly, it floods my brain all the time.
  • I am trying to wait until I’m married to have sex: The older I get, the tougher this decision seems. I feel like a loser who can’t get laid, even though I’m the one who makes that decision everyday to wait for my future wife. I have had to tell girls that I’ve been dating that “kissing is as far as I’ll go” and remove myself from situations that are getting too physical. I want to look my wife in the eyes and say, “It was hard, but I did this for you and for the safety of out relationship.”
  • My disorder is really hard: It’s like I get three disorders in one: Mania (which is a dangerous high), Depression (which I deal with everyday) and Anxiety (which is like a crushing sensation in your chest and feeling like everything is permanently stuck in a bad place)
  • I think about suicide: The depression I feel, compounded with the feelings of no self worth and feelings of being a loser who might become a 40 year old virgin because of a decision I make to honor God and my future wife, lead me to ruminate on suicide a lot. Sometimes, I want all the hard things to go away along with all the pain I feel daily and it seems like the only option at times. I will point out however, that I’m still here.
  • I’m not sure where I stand on faith issues: I’m angry at God a lot. I don’t understand why he wants to teach us things through so much pain. I want him to intercede a little more or something. In general, I don’t believe anyone can be certain of anything. I believe that everything is up for debate. I get kind of sick of people who walk around acting like they know everything for certain. There are a lot of “church people” like that.

Those are some things that weigh heavy on my chest. This was a little exercise for me in the attempt to become as honest as I can. Maybe you could try and write down some things you want to be honest about. Or maybe you could communicate with a loved about hard things that would make your relationship better. Follow my lead, if ya want to. Keep Pressing On!