Saturday, September 19, 2009

Pitfalls of Self-Help

One can only ready so many life-hacking blogs and ascertain so much knowledge as to what they should do to get out of an emotional rut. More oft than not, I think, in reading those blogs we don't really seek out the knowledge they offer us, but a way out of our immediate predicament.

It feels good to know there is a solution to our discomfort and reading ways we can alleviate it makes us feel awesome. And we usually stop there, and that's a problem, because nothing is really solved.

I heard someone once refer to emotions like the changing weather, sadness, happiness, frustration all come and go in their own time.

We've got find a way to live where we can receive wisdom and still live in a real way. Not a numb, paralyzed fear of not beinf comfortable, of confronting opposition.

I think we need to take ourselves back. If we're responsible and sober minded with ourselves, I think we'll be able to deal better. We've got to not be afraid to shine in the way only we do. And not only that, we've got to be okay with other people seeing and calling us on that shine.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Pre_Move-In Contemplations and Assertations

I've been floating around on the internet for about an hour now, trying to come up with some sort of inspirational statement, something that I've learned over the course of training that I can carry over with me into tomorrow when the residents move in. Truth be told, I always feel as if I've learned a lot. It's always difficult to pin point that one defining truth that has made all the difference. I've come to accept that those "defining truths" most likely don't exist, but are rather the visual culmination of a series of tipping points and decisions made over the course of time.

If that's the case, then where I'm at now is due a lot more to an attitude and perspective given as a gift by those I've met and by those who teach me. I owe thanks and gratitude and am in debt. There is a strength required of me to rise to the level of life I am living on now. Looking to the past won't do any good because the past is incomplete training. The future can't be foreseen, only projected and theorized, and I'm not living in theory. All I've got to go off of is the now, these moments strung together and the imprints left upon me by those moments of impact.

Langston Hughes asked, "what happens to a dream deferred?" I've resolved I don't want to find out the answer of that question, and I don't think he ever intended us to discover it. All the options are the opposite for what we want in our lives, what we need in them.

So let dreams fly, live, breathe and go forth. Bring the horizon to your doorstep and walk out into it boldly, with friends and lovers at your side. Never discount those who are in your life, be them odd or queer. Make your opportunities, don't wait for them to be handed to you. Throw your weight around, be known, be heard, fall in love and fall hard.

And if people don't understand, to hell with them, because they aren't really living.

Keep it simple. Keep it light and keep it tight.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Plans, Measures, & Escape Hatches

Most nights before I go to sleep, I remind myself that somewhere in the world, my future wife sleeps. Just as I put my head down to rest, she closes her eyes and gently tosses and turns as she drifts away. And in the morning, we'll both wake up, brush our teeth, and continue to make our way closer to each other.

And the lawns my children will play on are being cultivated. The ground upon which they will scrape their little knees and the wood that will build the house that they;ll grow up in is growing as sure as I am.

Every step I take brings me closer to these dreams. Regardless of the plans I make, the measures I take, or the hatches I build so I can escape, everything I do brings me closer. I'm comforted by this.

Maybe I've met her already. I can't help but think I may have. I always compare the company I keep to that of the girls I'm interested in. It's always different, and I suppose that's a good thing, but I hope one day to find a good fit, like an old glove.

I've blown off some pretty amazing people for some incredibly silly reasons. Then I think, maybe I didn't blow them off, but they weren't the company I was supposed to keep, regardless of their awesomeness.

Who's to say in the moment.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Our Great Inheritance

All I wanted was to talk to a friend
Shoot the breeze
Kick the shit.

Instead I sat at the screen
Watching their names flit across the panel
Green turned yellow:
They'd gone idle.

Green turned red:
They'd gotten a life.

All the while all I got was
Angry because 2 minutes had passed and no one noticed I was on.

Our greatest inheritance really was passivity
Because if Adam gave me anything else
I wouldn't be sitting here.

Life, as I understand it.

When did I begin to choose my friends, to choose the ones who raise me?
Who told me I was to decide who broke my heart and railed me?

Long have I built both wall and moat to surround my ransomed heart,
Set up a world apart from Thee, far from my crucial part.

Darkness clouds my every morrow, assures I cannot survive
Blessed, before the day is done, to know my soul is alive!

With loving, just, and holy hands You keep me in preserve
While in my heart of hearts I know 'tis more than I deserve.

But I am destined to become Your son, a warrior, fierce and wild,
My training, at last, has now begun, be more than meek and mild!

Each day I lift my voice to shout, each night I watch You gently
For my heart rejoices not in that life, but in this that You gave me.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

What We Have.

Most days end with my asking, "Who was I today?" and "Who will I be tomorrow?". Both stem from the broader question, "Who am I?". That last one was never enough, but the need for answer thrives nonetheless. I thought the answer would be found in a more specific directing of the question, but truth be had, the more specific I tried to be, the more complicated and convoluted things got.

We can really be anything. Do anything. There's not much stopping us other than ourselves (or what may at first to be what we tell ourselves, which ends up being ourselves). Asking who we are is like asking a prism what color it is. All depends on the angle and the light.

The only dynamic part of ourselves, I believe, are the things we have. That which we carry with us, and within us, truly dictates where we want to go. You want to be bad, you'll gravitate toward bad things. You want to be good, you will gravitate towards those things that inspire good with you. But aren't we more dynamic than that? My experience tells me that while we gravitate, another factor is in play.

Choices. We all make our choices in life, and that is truly what determines our path, more so than who we are. And we will make choices depended upon what we hold within us, which eventually becomes a part of us, and that part of us eventually converts everything else into us. We are what we have.

In a way, I suppose we choose what we have as well. There is an important distinction to make here, however. When I say "We are what we have", I do not mean that we are the material things we surround ourselves with (while our environment does play a role in determining the outcome, I do not think it is the primary, driving force). I mean those things which we value at the core of our being, within our hearts. Be it love, justice, power, or beauty. Those things which we treasure become us in the end.

We are what we have.

Monday, July 6, 2009

An Embrace and a Departure

Something you should know about this bit of writing
I couldn't sleep. I felt weighed down under the breadth and depth of my natural self, which isn't a very pleasant self when you're trying to avoid it. But into my mind popped a little story about a fisherman being called to follow God incarnate. I flipped immediately to Luke, found the section of verses and began to pour out writing like...a writer or something crazy like that. Essentially, what I'm trying to say is that this writing is divinely inspired. I used to not think this could ever happen. But it does. Praise be to the one and only Almighty God whom deserves all our worship and selves! I hope this is as helpful to you to read as it was for me to write. Peace be with you!

A collection of spoils occupies most rooms. Trophies and relics that conjure up memories of battles won and times long past. These things remind us of what we have accomplished, what we have learned, and most importantly, who we believe ourselves to be.

Imagine stepping away from those memories, those shrines we've erected to remember ourselves. It's frightening to wonder who you would be if all your "stuff" wasn't in play, but is that not what Christ asked of us? When we accepted Jesus into our lives and began to hold the Gospel as truth, things had to change. That precedent was set by Christ himself in Luke's account of the calling of the first disciples (and I'm sure among many other places, but for now, this is where I'd like to place my focus).

Jesus comes upon Simon Peter while he, James and John are washing their nets. Jesus, being pressed in by the crowd, asks Simon for one of his boats to teach from. Upon finishing his teaching, Jesus calls to Simon, telling him to place his nets in another location. Keep in mind that Simon and his crew are fishermen by trade and would have known that stretch of sea better than anyone. Jesus, who is at this point a strange rabbi to them (not thought to be a fishing expert) tells them to put the nets in a random spot. Doesn't add up.

But Simon humors Jesus, and to his astonishment, winds up with loads and loads of fish. He proceeds to acknowledge Christ as Lord, claiming the absolute truth that he himself is a sinful man, which in his mind means that the Lord should turn away from him.

My interest peaks here. Simon Peter sees Jesus for who He is (not fully, but enough to realize who he's dealing with) or rather, Jesus reveals Himself (not in His full glory, however) to him. I would have thought that in itself would be enough. That singular recognition is what I ha, for awhile (up until reading some very influential and powerful Christian literature which I will cite later) based my life upon. Knowing who Christ is was enough.

It gets better. Not only does Simon acknowledge Jesus as Lord, he also understands the depth of his inadequacy in Christ's presence:

Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord (Luke 5:8)

Again, I figured this was where the buck stopped. To know who Jesus is and understand that I am wretched and destitute in my heart, at the core of my being, what more could there possibly be to learn? (At this point, I would add that truly knowing Jesus means you would know what comes next.)

As I have lived my life, this was the very end of the line. Without realizing it, life from here looks pretty bleak. Praise be to God that the truth forges on. Jesus, after these two revelations of Simon Peter, speaks to Simon:

Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men (Luke 5:10).

Jesus addresses two very deep longings here, feelings I have felt left untouched and misunderstood my whole life up until now. First, "Do not be afraid...". Jesus calms Simon immediately in his recognition of his sinfulness. Essentially, Jesus says, "Hey man, it's cool, don't trip." (I apologize if this upsets you. For clarity's sake, this is not in the Bible under any translation.) So Simon can relax.

Secondly, "...from now on you will be catching men." Jesus not only tells Simon he can relax (which I believe infers that his sinfulness can be forgiven. Hallelujah!) but he gives him something to do. We call this purpose and meaning, the thing most of us spend our lives looking for. Bam. Christ gives it to Simon Peter on a silver platter (albeit a very challenging dish lies upon that platter, but no one will taste anything closer to the truth than that meal. Mmm delicious.)

That makes three astonishing instances so far (the crux, and most direct part for us to follow coming up, hang in there): 1) Simon recognizes Jesus as the Jesus we know and love, 2) Simon acknowledges his sinfulness, and 3) Jesus puts Simon at ease and gives him a job. Here's the kick in the pants for us:

And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him (Luke 5:11).

Everything. They wrapped up their immediate business, (it would have been tough, though not impossible, to start following while in the middle of the sea. Land is an equally good place to start from) dropped all their relics, trophies, shrines, and memories to follow Jesus.

There is no holding on to what you were. Christ demands the whole of you. Not your weekends and holidays, but your every day. You must give it all up or your soul will be tormented and your heart will never find peace (this, I have experienced. Not pleasant, trust me.) Though following Jesus proved to be the most grueling internship in history, it was only the beginning of the disciples blessed eternal lives.

We too, as Christians in the truest, most ancient sense of the word, have to get this point (among a few others, but this is a good place to start). It is hard, but it's also terribly easy. The door can be revealed to you, but only you can walk through it.

Read these:

Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis
Life Together, Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Avast! Off the Mast!

I've got a list of things to do this summer. First thing on that list is to make the list. Boy, I enjoy this :)


Never seen the sky so deep
Clouds pried her open
Universe fell inside.

Old man sat there spitting,
Spitting into a rusty bucket.

While homes washed away
Wind shattered glass,
World ran for its life.

Old man sat.

He saw
Cats floating on broken doors
Dolls bobbing in flooded cars
Children dancing on the high dive.

He saw panic and triumph
The weak and the fallen.

Old man breathed.

"Drop anchor, boys! "

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Some Commentary on the "Last Airbender" Race Controversy

There is a movement against M. Night Shyamalan's upcoming movie, "The Last Airbender" on account of the actors cast to portray the main characters are predominantly white and should be representing a different ethnic culture.

The most uproar came from the casting of Jesse McCartney to portray Zuko, the secondary antagonist of the first film. I myself was frustrated by this casting choice because I didn't feel Mr. McCartney had the chops to play such an intricate character. Thankfully, he has been replaced by Dev Patel, star of "Slumdog Millionaire", adding much needed diversity to the cast.

So the main qualms with the casting now are that the darker, brown people have become the villains of the franchise, while the white kids are cast as heroes. While nothing can be done at this point because of casting except a boycott of the film upon its release, people have continued to complain that this was an injustice to diversity and the uniqueness of the individual eastern cultures the movie is attempting to portray.

I present this different viewpoint to their argument.

The original series, "Avatar: The Last Airbender", was drawn with these cultural differences in mind. Each of the four nations had a distinct ethnic background and rich history apparent in their dress, way of speech, and practices. So why, then, was the original cartoon not boycotted when the voices of the main characters were that of white people and the villains of the series voiced by darker, ethnic people? Sokka and Aang were both voiced by white actors, as were Katara and Toph. Zuko, the presumed villain, was voiced by Dante Basco, and Iroh, originally, was voiced by Mako.

The same casting happened in the cartoon as did in the movie.

Now, without being told this, you may not be able to guess that this was the case, and that is not because the actors had a cartoon to hide behind. I argue that it is because of the depth and believability they brought to their characters. They breathed a life into the show with their voices, and portrayed the ethnic diversity beautifully.

So why can't the actors on screen do the same? If diversity stops at the surface of the skin, then yes, they are doomed to fail. But in this day and age, I would hope more oft than not we would ere on the side of believing diversity is more about what one carries in their heart and mind.

I do understand the argument against these actors. There is a wealth of actors from specific ethnic backgrounds that could have played these roles to the "t". But we must keep in mind that this movie is being made for Americans by Americans (not to mention it was created by two white guys). The cultural sensitivity is borne into this story. The people at the helm get that because it is intricately woven into the storyline from beginning to end. Race is important to the story, but it isn't the main attraction.

There is so much more going on. "The Last Airbender" will touch on genocide, war, censorship, responsibility, destiny, inner-conflict, peace...the list goes on. We should be concerned that these themes and motifs get across, regardless of how dark or light the actors portraying them are.

Another point. Zuko, who those who oppose the casting for the movie say is the villain, forget that Zuko is one of the most complicated, unique, and challenging character to play in the entire movie. His character will blossom in ways many of the others will not and it is an honor that of all the characters to cast, they got that one right, as far as ethnicity goes. And they have built up the entire cast of the fire nation with strong Indian actors who will undoubtedly bring a much needed depth and richness to the portrayal of the fire nation.

As for Aang, Sokka, and Katara, I am sure these actors will do well with the roles they've been given. I am sure the will come to understand what they represent. We have to remember that this is a Nickelodeon funded film as well. Nickelodeon, founded in the US, has on their hands what may very well be their best feature film yet. It may do wonders for their international notoriety. They know what is at stake if they botch the cultural aspects of this film. They know what's at stake.

Again, race is not the big issue, nor is it that big of a deal in the context of this film. No one is being portrayed as less than white or worse off than white. If they stick to the core of the original series, this will be one movie that supports and cultivates diversity in the minds of those who view it. So there are a couple of white kids at the helm of that. Some would argue they are the ones who need a lesson in diversity the most.

Let them play their roles and let us just enjoy that one of the best cartoons to ever be on television is become a live-action movie!

For more information about the movement against the casting of "The Last Airbender", visit For information about the film itself and the new teaser trailer, visit

***Oh, and I just found this out, the voice of Fire Lord Ozai is Mark Hamill. How's that for a twist?***

Sunday, June 21, 2009

a rambling.

I was staring out the window from the back seat of my mom's Volvo on our way to a jazz concert for Father's Day when the weight of conflict broke my back. I've been told since I've come back home that I seem gloomy and that I should deal with the things that are weighing me down, and I've begun work on that, but man, the things that are causing me distress are really...distressing.

One thing that sticks out to me now is that the world (or society, either will work) that we live in isn't conducive to the types of things I want to see in my life. I want to walk the earth with nothing but some faith, food, and skills, like being able to make really good tea or give killer massages or have really good, open conversations. Just meet with people who do good, honest work and grow from my travels.

But in this lovely capitalistic economy, it's nearly impossible to drop off the grid, let alone meet someone doing good, honest work for the sake of doing good, honest work.

And when I reflect on it, maybe walking the Earth isn't the best thing for me right now, because while God is sustaining me, he's barely an afterthought in my life right now. So actually, maybe walking the Earth would force me to rely, and that's good, right?

But I'm not walking the Earth anytime soon. That's the conflict. So what is my life supposed to look like? I just feel as if I was born for another time most of the time.

I guess that's it.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Throw Hands Together

I'm sitting here in my kitchen next to all the stuff from my room in Sierra Madre listening to my iTunes. Strawberry Swing (Coldplay) came on and the biggest smile swept across my face and I started laughing uncontrollably. It's amazing that music can do that to you. All I want to do is throw my hands together and swirl around violently.

I didn't do much today, but I realized how living in a res. hall really can make you selfish, lazy, and ungrateful. I sat here the whole day not eating because I didn't want to make myself a sandwhich. I did eventually, but it's crazy, right? My parents stocked the frigde with food they like to eat, but it's food. Good food. The years of them stocking the fridge with sugary treats and meat are long gone, it's all about weird health foods and you know what, they've earned that, deserve that, and there's no room for me to complain.

This summer is about figuring out what I do. I say a lot. Think a lot. But I want to know what I do.

It's been a good start!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Traveling Spirits

When I think about how I want to spend my life, I realize it's not what I'm doing now. I want to explore things. Experience old and new places. Create stories to share. I don't want a career, I want to go on an adventure.

Does this make me a wayfarer? Does this mean my soul is restless? I feel that way now, but who's to say I won't want to settle down in a month or so.

I'm waiting for that day when I'll stop making mistakes and excuses. When I'll pick up all that I am and just have at life. I just don't feel like I was made to sit on my butt and read books. Not that I don't love to read, I'm just so antsy to get out there and do something these days.

It's been a rough quarter, getting even rougher as it winds down. Maybe I just need to get away.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Bastards Of Our Youth

Not in an illegitimate sense.

Family. My family has always been a family of three. Me, my mom and my dad. No one's truly ever been allowed into the circle, as far as I've witnessed it. It's always been about the three of us. I've never thought it was really a bad thing. In fact, I thought that everyone's families were this way. I was surprised to discover that the stories of families being more than the parents and children, but the aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, and family friends...they were all apart and this was real and happening, not archaic and tribal.

So I was shocked to find out that someone outside of my preconceived familial circle was so negatively affected by the way me and my family have viewed family. That she carried burdens of resentment through her adolescence and into her adulthood. It pains me that she hurts because I was a bastard child who thought there was only room for three people to matter in the world. And you'll believe whatever your parents tell you when you're little.

And don't try to say that I couldn't have been that bad. I was a little bastard kid. Even my mother said so.

So I was the bastard of her youth. My family was the ivory tower to her reality. While I have grown up, I can see how this view of family has made it so difficult for me to maintain relationships outside of my immediate circles. It makes me want to have the biggest, most open family for my children. That's why my closest friends will be their aunts and uncles and I will not stop having children until there is enough love in my house to warm the nation.

Maybe that's a bit much. And I'll probably have to consult with my wife.

I want at least two though.

So my own parents turned out to be the bastards of my youth. And we were the bastards of my cousin's youth. It hurts, but the latter isn't my burden to bear. She was 5, I was 7. How were we to know any better? I love her now. That's all I know, and that's all I can give.

As for me and my bastard parents, I love them too. And my issues with relationships are things I'll have to work out for myself. It's a good thing I've got an eternity to do that.

Something tells me time is good to a bastard.


Tuesday, May 19, 2009


There was something different about this guy when he spoke. Unlike me, he wrote down his thoughts before hand, but he didn't plan everything out, the writings were just his thoughts on the matter.

And when he spoke he took his time; he made his points and was unapologetic in doing so. It wasn't that he wasn't diplomatic, cause he listened to everyone and weighed their words against his own. He was...well reasoned.

I guess what struck me the most about him was that he was shameless.

Shamelessness looks good.

Monday, May 11, 2009

mmm Minty...

I pop spearmint gum to keep my breath fresh.

More than I used to.

Because I never did before.

I want to set the precedent that my breath is always minty fresh. I'm all about establishing a good foundation.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

working it out...

I didn't plan this.

If you understand anything about my past, understand this:

I would have never imagined that I'd be here.

But here I am. And I understand now that I have had a hand in it. I realize that my choices have led to both joy and heartbreak, but none to irreparable destruction. The full picture of my life fits into a story that I don't quite fully understand. But my life makes sense in the little bit that I do.

I am layers. And all the issues I'm working through right now will give way to more issues. This is a blessing. I must always stare myself down, face to face with my worst. I must wrestle with my failure and embrace my success. It never ends. It is an adventure. The adventure was never meant to end.

The changes we seek are happening as we speak. Whether we acknowledge it or not. It is better to acknowledge though.

I never planned any of this. But it is happening. And I'm making plans. Making decisions. Impacting and being impacted. I am constantly working out the meanings of my salvation. What else is there to do?

Wrestle with it and limp away.

I am flight.

One feather blossomed from beneath weathered skin

A postcard from far away.

Light flew from the pores of pebbles
Strewn across the ground.

Everything rumbled. The ground. The sky. The in-between places.

Hearts sizzled as they turned.
They were golden brown.

Somewhere piano keys were tinkling a melody.
A metronome beat. Time kept.

Seagulls opened their mouths over the surface
To swallow chaos whole. They never went hungry.

One feather blossomed through weathered skin.
One after another, after another.

Far away came home that day.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

up in the air...

I had an idea last year for a radio show, something in the vein of This American Life. Even came up with a title, only thing I struggled with was actually bringing the idea to fruition. The plans stayed up in the air.

And this year, there's a show that's doing exactly what I had envisioned.

That's my mentality. Keep things up in the air and if they work out, more power to you, but if they don't, you never had any stake in it anyway. This is the pen I've written my story with.

The bulk of my struggle with the futility mentality rests partly in this separate but similar "up-in-the-air" mentality. Both say it's not up to me to decide whether or not something happens. Which means anything I do is useless, that there isn't anything I can do.

But there has to be, right? And maybe trying to find what I can do in some ethereal brain dumping isn't the answer. Maybe the answer is right in front of my face, in the reality I'm reach out to find.

There's truth everywhere. We've got to claim the truth we know to be...true. And if I believe this to be true, then maybe something else in my thinking is off.

I'm tired of creative writing. Of using metaphors to explain how I feel, to work through my emotions. I want to be blunt and straight-forward. I want my yes to be yes and my no to be no. And when I'm finished speaking or thinking, I don't want to qualify it. I just want to be


Thursday, April 30, 2009

why you need an anchor.

We've got to find ways to anchor ourselves.

There are too few moments of clarity. There are too many distractions. And the world is Las Vegas at midnight. Everyone weary and tired from their travels but the lights and the drink and the skin and the $.99 lobster buffet are much too intoxicating.

Ideally, we'd all be able to go back to a simpler time. But we don't live in simple times and there is no way to get back. We must accept things as they are, try to understand, and make change from this spot.

If we forget what really matters, what is really going on, then we'll be lost in the sea of lights and sensuality.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

the steps I took...

These past couple days I have been blessed to witness the birth of change. I have seen a small group of dedicated students multiply into hundreds of passionate crusaders. I have seen those crusaders take to their message to the nation without remorse, without fear, without baggage. I have witnessed them simply go, bearing nothing but a message on their breath and their hearts on their sleeves. God has moved in this place. It's holy.

And I cannot help but be transformed by that. In fact, a life of advocacy seems to be the only life that makes sense to me now. It's all over the Bible and splayed across the walls of my heart. But there's something more going on here. This has lead me to this place like a shard of a pot leads an archaeologist to a dig site. That material culture may give way to something much more intriguing and telling, but you've got to dig to figure it out.

I have always been afraid of being discovered as a fraud. Looking at my history, I should have become someone else. It's as if I've implanted a reset button in my head, so as soon as I do anything I don't want to acknowledge as myself, I hit it and we're good to go. I do things, think things, want things that I don't want other people to know about. Truth is, though, all those skeletons I want to stay hidden away are still me, and I've got to deal with them.

But in dealing with them, I can't condemn myself. Because if I was truly condemned, I wouldn't be where I'm at right now. I have been delivered like Samson, Solomon, David, and Adam. They were flawed and messed up royally, but they still had a place. They were still made whole.

So the pendulum can swing between me ignoring that which I don't want to accept as myself and being a complete downer about how no one really knows how I really am because I hide it. Both mentalities get me nowhere and they are both false.

Truth is, I have done and still do things that I'm not proud of. But they are me. I'm not as innocent as I'd like to paint. I'm not as dark as I feel I should be. I am certainly not very good on my own, or else I wouldn't be in this pickle. But there is more truth about me hidden in that which I have ignored than there is in the me I've been trying to create since I met Lauren Stevens (aka Fish Lips, she was one of the major starting points of all of this).

So these steps I've taken have lead me here, and I have been redeemed by my Redeemer. But I need to accept myself and all that I've done. Let myself back in the house like the prodigal son, regardless of how I've dirtied myself. I've got to come home, all of me, and that's where I've got to begin laying the groundwork for my future. Not on top of my neglected self, because that past will always stir unless I put it to sleep, peacefully.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


There's a play I think you all should read. It is called The Night of the Iguana by Tennessee Williams. It's about this ex-minister named Shannon, who was defrocked for having an inappropriate relationship with a young Sunday school teacher, who becomes a tour guide. He is taking a women's choir from Texas on a tour when a seventeen-year-old girl begins to come on to him. Her latent lesbian chaperone becomes enraged and threatens to have him fired. In a panic, Shannon flees with the tour bus to an old hotel in Mexico run by his friend Fred and his wife Maxine. Upon arrival, he learns that Fred is dead and Maxine runs the hotel herself. In a panic, he succumbs to his desires for skin and alcohol. That is, until Hannah and her grandfather arrive. They are traveling artists, she a painter, he a poet. They have no money, but Shannon convinces Maxine to give them a room. All of these people use each other in the heat of one Mexico night to heal themselves and each other.

It's called the Night of the Iguana because Shannon feels like the pet iguana Maxine's pool boys have on a leash. The end of his rope.

The heat does that to people. Brings them to the end of their ropes. They are more rash, more volatile. Because, who can be comfortable in the heat? Good thing it isn't about comfort.

It's days like this that are wake up calls to who we really are. We may think we want to be nicer to people. Work out more. Eat less. Work harder. But turn up the global thermostat a bit, and we all succumb to our lesser (or sometimes greater) evils.

These days are wake up calls! Who you are today, for all the lofty schemes you've invented for yourself, is who you most likely will be tomorrow. Unless you intervene. But you've got to be aware.

The heat isn't so bad. Take off your shirt. Open your window. Turn on a fan.

It's gonna rain Saturday.

Monday, April 20, 2009

don't forget.

this heat makes you forget it's ever been cold. I look in my closet and I wonder why I have so many jackets, so many scarves and sweaters. it is so hot right now, I'm tempted to throw them all away, the thought of wearing them makes me even hotter. but it's supposed to rain on saturday, so that'd be silly.

the things we forget, even for a split second, will come back to hurt us.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

this house is open...for awesome.

Never before have we been more pioneer. More sojourner. The Great West is our home. Out past the dense and dangerous, that's where we belong. Further up and further in to Big Rock Candy Mountain! To El Dorado! To the end of the world, where the water washes off the earth like juice from a table.


The following things are, or would be, awesome:

On my TV sits Floxy. Floxy is a little sheep that came in my Easter basket. Floxy had a friend, a bobble-headed chick that looks like a duck. I have named him Eugene. They are both adorable.

If I went to Borders, I'd like to look for a book. While looking for this book, I'd like to notice that someone else was also looking for a book in the same vicinity. Once I found my book, I'd realize we were both looking for the same book, and there is only one. Cue Rom-Com music and the subsequent video montage of flirtation and sparks.

Giving tours for Open House is like swimming in cool water on a warm day with a bunch of people who really want to swim too.

Friends that are from home.

Friends that are not at home.

Esquire's "How to be a Man" .

Hebrews 11.

Crazy Love.

Warm showers with nothing to do.

Reading a good book with nothing to do.

Not thinking about making money.

My dad being on Twitter.

Thinking about being a gypsy over a summer with Nikol!

Aaron out.

Monday, April 13, 2009

sparrows, nukes for your mind, and out of body experiences, daily!

the sparrow knows its tune

the gypsies didn't wear name tags to the orientation so we couldn't figure out who they were.

and we were confused because they all looked the same, floating in and out of the woodwork,

skin tatted, clothes in tatters: they were sparrows. More feathers than hair. Less bone, more air.

i would have flown away with them but my wallet was too heavy with credit cards and ticket stubs.

i've had this dream of becoming kerouac. making the road my home. the night sky my father, the earth my mother.

i've thought, "maybe i could turn the soil, plant some seeds and" but money burrows into my pocket

and my pants turn to fire.

which shoulder can i listen to? is it heads or is it tails because those sparrows know who they are. their name is sparrow. they have feathers and bones and wings like paper. while i scrap for change to make a phone call

they turn to each other and speak softly.

the land provides if it's worked. society's trash can sustain. and while the polar bears sink and wall street weeps,

the sparrow still knows its tune. seems like it was made to sing. to flit. to be a joy. so i decided to empty my pockets

i may not take to the open road but i'll whistle the couple tunes i know. my mother taught them to me. my father listened. i improvised the second verse and smiled.


Sometimes, we just need to nuke our minds. Not a microwave, though. I'm talking a real, glorious (excuse the coming vulgarity) mind fuck. Because I know there is so much that's off in the way I perceive things everyday. Your beliefs should help you not cause you anxiety. Worldliness isn't as simple as enjoying indian tea or australian candy.

And saying you are radical isn't enough. If you really are radical, there is no concept of radicalism. you just are and everything is game.

Day in and day out, let's do something that pushes ourselves out of ourselves, yeah?

It's bitter work, but there's war in my blood!

Monday, April 6, 2009

on a similar darjeeling track...

I think I understand now what it means to be worldly. Not to just enjoy things and people from all over the world, but maybe it means to understand the ultimate differences that span across every reach of humanity. To see those differences, acknowledge them, and not merely tolerate them, but embrace them in the fullness of their meaning and provision of experience.

Reminds me, ever so slightly, of Dr. Humps and Henry David Thoreau. Out of nostalgia, here's the quote from Junior year. Please try to contain your joy, excitement, and wonderment (jk have at it ;)). Over and out!

"I went to the woods to because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary, I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience..." Henry David Thoreau

my trip on the darjeeling limited (interactive version)

Wes Anderson's The Darjeeling Limited received some flack its ending, in which the three brothers, portrayed by Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzman, and Adrien Brody, carrying their father's baggage (literally at this point) rush to catch a train already in motion. Realizing they won't make it if they keep up the way they're going, they drop the bags as time slows, running faster and jumping aboard the train just in time. Many critics thought it was much too obvious a metaphor for the talented auteur to employ, but I think that sometimes, the simplest, most obvious metaphors are the ones we need to delve the deepest into.

In ANTH 201 (Cultural Anthropology) we've tossed around the two-word term "cultural baggage" which essentially refers to the stuff we know about our culture, the rules, the norms and such. No one can escape culture, and it has been proven that as humans, we need some semblance of culture from birth in order to develop into a completely capable human being. Now obviously we can't choose where we're born or which culture we're born into, but even if we could choose, how would you make your choice? Think about that for a hot minute.

When I try to choose, I can't help but make my decision based upon what I know about our American culture and I'm sure the same happened for you. All that stuff that went into making that hypothetical decision is cultural baggage, and you can't shake it.

So if we can't shake it, can we shape it? As humans we can shape our culture as much as it shapes us, even though it's definitely more difficult to do. See any counter-cultural revolution going on these days. It takes a lot of persuasion to change the masses.

All cultural baggage aside, we all also have a lot of emotional baggage we bring with us everywhere we go, stemming back all the way to our childhood. All of this forms how we respond to the society around us and inevitably leads us to an age old question:

Who am I?

With all this knowledge about baggage and culture, how are we ever to discover who we actually are? Would we be the same if we were raised in a pagan African tribe? Would you still believe what you believe if you were born in Bolivia? Sudan? Berlin?

Chances are you wouldn't and if you think you do, you'll find it impossible to make that judgement objectively.

So what does that make us? If different cultures teach us to value different things, how can we know what we ourselves truly value? I don't believe we are simply awash in a see of forces without a chance to swim. I believe that as humans we innately have some agency, the problem arises in trying to find where it is.

On a personal level, I've been seeing a life coach named Roland at the behest of my parents (they want to show me that it's normal and not something to be ashamed of, which it's not :)) . We've been doing a lot of good work and I feel as if I've come along way from when I first started meeting with him. But I've been reaching snags these past couple weeks, and I believe I've finally reached the end of the thread.

My response to the things around me isn't one that's getting me where I want to go. So Roland has asked me to dig deeper, to excavate and take my thinking to a lower place to figure out what's really going on. I see now that for all my progress, I've not been able to rid myself of all the perceptions that led me to feel stuck and hopeless about a lot of things in my life.

The question I've been asking myself is who am I and what do I value, hoping that will lead me down the right path. While asking myself what I believe is entirely valid and necessary, it isn't the question I need to be asking myself in order to get unstuck. My beliefs should aid me, not hinder me. What I should be asking is:

Why do I see things the way I do?

And, how does how I see things affect my way of being?

Truth be told, that is a much more fruitful question to be asking and a much more useful vein to be exploring. I can't shake my culture, nor do I really want to. But there are many ways to respond to culture and society, just so happen the way I have been responding isn't in line with what I believe.

My past doesn't really haunt me. If anything, I'm just incredibly interested in figuring out how I was before I experienced all that has caused me to behave and respond the way I do today. I feel like a lot of answers are there.

So you see, I'm chasing my own Darjeeling Limited. Weighed down with baggage, hoping I'll catch my train in time. Doesn't seem like such a silly, obvious metaphor to me. While I know what it means, I'm still wondering, what does it really mean?

And the answers don't come easy, but I believe that I'll get there eventually. It starts today. I can start fleshing myself out right now because now is all I have. As far as I can see it right now, that's where my agency is. Here and now.

So let's do what little we can as much as we can. We humans were made for it.

I've talked a lot about myself here, but I'm curious, what do you think? Does any of this resonate with you? I'd love to hear about it and encourage you on your journey, we weren't meant to take it alone. So let 'er rip, I'm all ears!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

adventures in consumerism

As I walked to the main hall to compose this lovely little note, my mind flitted over the purchases I made at UO today. My mom gave me some money this weekend and told me I should be able to go out and have fun, not worrying about money, so "go forth and shop!" she said...essentially. I didn't go too crazy, just a couple t-shirts, a vest, and a blue button up. About $108 overall.

I always have little anxiety attacks when I go shopping. I'm never sure if I'll need what I'm buying. I err on the side of thinking I can survive without it. Then I think I of the people who don't get to worry about what to add to their closet. I figure I should count my blessings.

So I buy, and wear, and reevaluate once I get home. And by reevaluate, I mean scouring through my closet looking for things to get rid of in order to prevent it from overflowing and my mind from dying of guilt. I usually come up with a couple things to ditch, but the whole process is very tiring.

So if you remember, I was thinking all this on my way down to the main. There's this little slope I was stepping down, and amidst the previous thoughts, I thought it'd be very bad if I fell. Sure enough, down I go, ripping a hole in my $44.50 chinos and scuffing my $94 boots.

I love cosmic irony.

My conclusion? It's perfectly natural to want to look your best, but sometimes the clothes you have are enough to make that happen. Wearing things in a different way can be just as good as buying new clothes. But when you do decide to buy new clothes, don't buy it unless you're okay with it being beaten up in some way. Clothes shouldn't be delicate anyway. While we may think we should hoard up our material treasures to ensure they are always looking their best, none of it has anything to do with who we really are. So wear the clothes, don't let them wear you.

Now if you'll excuse me, I believe my leg is bleeding profusely. Time for some new pants :)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

humanity is alright with me.

I like being human because no matter what happens, there is always redemption. Grace rarely trails far behind any one endeavor, thought it may be hard to find. Granted, redemption may come at a high price, like say, walking in righteousness or losing an eye, it is always there if you want it bad enough.

It's all about perceptions, really. The old "glass-half-full-or-half-empty" saying really is true. If it's half empty, there is lament and regret. If it's half full, there is joy and preparation. In the end, we're only worth as much as we believe we are, regardless of our actual price.

So give me sympathy. Give all of us some sympathy, because there is no time to stop and ruminate verbosely. We need life. We need action. And we'll only get it if we own our lives and think it's worth something in the open market.

Most days, I live like I am a flickering flame about to go out. I'm no flame, though. I am an ocean, torrential and expansive.

We all are really. Humanity is funny like that.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

it was a strange time in my life...

My mom loves telling me about my childhood, asking me if I remember her reading me Where The Wild Things Are or my sucker fish Oscar. I never really spent much time thinking about what I was like as a kid, but with all the stories and pictures, I figured I should give it a shot.

Looking through photographs, I can tell I was a very happy kid, always smiling. I was also pretty sincere. If I was upset, I showed it. If I was excited, you would know. I think my face looks the same, but there was something easier about it back then, something of joy and wonderment.

I DO remember my mom reading me that book, and the trailer that just came out makes me incredibly excited for October 16th. The song in the trailer, Wake Up by Arcade Fire, warns that if you listen to the lie we're told, to bury your emotions and carry on, you'll wake up one day a whole lot colder than you used to be.

There is a part of me that wants to reclaim the sincerity of my youth. Another part thinks it cannot be done. I think there is some jollity to be made.

Sometimes I think we can learn more from children than we can from adults. When we're kids, we don't have all the fluff that comes with experience clouding our thinking and making us fearful. No one really ever taught us to clear our minds of the clutter because no one really knows how. Doesn't mean we shouldn't try, because I have a feeling there is much to be discovered about who we are by just having a talk with the little one in our chests.

Friday, March 27, 2009

sleep all day

Being at home always presents its challenges. There's a lot of baggage that gets towed back and forth between college and here. I'm fortunate to have a lot of friends from high school I'm still in touch with, but with them comes all that once was. Most of it good, but in the cracks between lie shadows of dissension, most of the time better left unaddressed.

Today I am laaaaazy. My allergies have ben acting up, so its made more sense for me to just stay inside. Today I'm not entirely happy and it feels good to say that. Sincerity abound!

Spring break is drawing to a close. I need to program for next quarter...

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

should-a, would-a, could-a...

She walked in the room with her boyfriend. Not her new boyfriend, but her recently re-instated boyfriend. You've got to understand, when there's a room full of people and I know she'll be coming, there is no one else in the room. I can't sit still until she's around.

Okay, okay, I shouldn't care so much, but the truth is I do. Truth is, I've never really done anything about it. I'm cool with that. In fact, I breathe easy knowing I never did anything with that. Maybe a little too cool because I didn't say hello tonight when he was there. And I could have sworn I saw her looking my way. It's funny, cause that's the only time I've had that feeling.

Yes, I should have said hello. I should have said hello.

Thankfully I'll be home within the next 24 hours for the first time since the end of Winter Break. This Spring Holiday has been pretty healing so far. Let's hope it continues on the trip down.

Monday, March 23, 2009

you're gonna carry that weight...

The halls are empty and I can't help but wonder what makes this place what it is.

Since the 60's, Sierra Madre has been here. Every year, a new group of residents move in to inhabit its prison-like shell. Regardless of the time, they become known for partying and general rioting. Does this place make them who they are, or does this place just attract that kind of person?

If I had consciousness as a baby, would I be who I am today or am I a collection of my experiences?

A line from The Fisherman by Anis Mojgani replays itself in my head. He empties himself.

I think the most crucial thing we must remember about life is that we are never alone. Someone, whether they know it or not, is in it with us, and we with them. We are never alone.

At the same time, nothing about this life is about us. As much as capitalism and consumerism would like us to believe we are the most important things individually, we all know we're not. Humanity is important, but not for the sake of itself. There's plenty of proof that says the world would be much better off without us.

But we are here and here in force. And we are capable of such beauty. We must empty ourselves of ourselves. Rid ourselves of that which keeps us from accepting the truths that don't need any justification.

Cause if you don't, you're gonna carry that weight.

And you were never meant to.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

a little better.

We are all asking the same questions.

Funny thing is, we look to others for the answers. Hoping somewhere along the way we will find that guru on the mountain top to assuage our deepest fears and affirm all that we believe to be good in the world. To set us on the right path.

I have a feeling if that if there was such a guru, he would be bored to tears.

One of my favorite songs of all time is All The Things You Are. I like the instrumental version by Sonny Rollins the best. When I listen to it, I am reminded that there is not much that really matters. Regardless of what you try to to do, all the things you are will always be bared and laid before the world. So why not be bombastic and outrageous? We are all heading toward the same finish line anyhow.

I have my questions. I have my doubts. Every time I try to build up a structure of values and beliefs to combat them, all I am left with is their ruins. The things that remain, those things that I would believe if I was an animal with no thought, those things I hold on to. Everything else I let go.

Let me flow man. Let my decisions flow from my action that rides on the currents of righteousness, all that is good and holy. Because we are all terrible and it does not matter. What matters is that we were made to serve and that WE CAN serve. That is what matters. The only valid question is:

Will you or won't you?

Just a thought.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Have I Found You?

Have I found you?

I am 20 years old and my legs are ashy.

I've wanted to be 6 feet tall for as long as I can remember, and was always told that one day, I'd reach it. I'm about 5' 10 3/4". Close enough, right?

Even though I didn't go home on Friday, I definitely think it was one of the best birthday's I have ever had (Only second to the great Lion King/Clown birthday bash of '96). My friends up here, the ones I see every day and the ones I don't, are beyond spectacular. They make me feel that if I've done anything at all in my life, I've been able to surround myself with remarkable people. They are a blessing. I love them all.

My great grandfather turned 95 today. How crazy is that? I spoke to him on the phone while he was at his party. I imagine he was wearing a bright colored suit, bolo tie, and large cowboy hat (back when he lived on his farm in Oklahoma, he had his own radio show and was known throughout the county as the "Colored Cowboy"). He told me that he was sad I couldn't be there, but he knew I was taking care of business up here. He also told me how proud he was of me, how talented and gifted he thought I was, and how he knows I'll do great things for my people.

I meant only to wish him happy birthday, and he commended me to do great deeds on this earth.

It's about that time, isn't it? To lay down the childish ways and take up the things that make men men? The weight of my mortality weighs on me heavy these days. Every day I awake gasping quietly for air, remembering my dreams of the earth, but bigger, of people, but more real people.

So who am I? What do I want in this life? Who do I want?

This life. This is quite the life isn't it?

I am no closer to answering any of these questions than I was years ago. I've been feverish, but now I know that no one really knows. We die hoping we know, but we never know. So hold on to the things that are true. Love what you love. Know what you know. Say what you want to say. Do what you do. Out of that, something genuine will have to come out, no?

When I think of how I want to dress, what I want my style to be, there's only room in my mind for Kerouac and Newman. Those men who did what they did and did it well.

That's how I want to be remembered. Aaron did what he loved and did it well. That's enough.

I love Jesus. Let's start there, shall we?

20. It only gets more real from here. Thanks for being on the ride with me.

Over and out.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


So there's this girl. She's older than me and incredibly mature. Like, works two jobs, goes to school, and is 26 old. She's gorgeous and in my major. She IS a woman.

Too bad she makes me feel like an altar boy. S'okay though, we're making progress. I can learn a lot from her.

I actually have a lot to learn. A lot to figure out. I'm really feeling this whole creative writing thing. Law sounds pretty good too, and I'm glad I've got the tools to figure out what it is I need to do and move forward. Thank Goodness for the Career Center!

This week is threatening to kill me. But you know what I've decided? I'm the captain and I'm gonna make it happen. These next two weeks need to be ready, cause I'm full steam ahead!

Monday, March 9, 2009

That's What He Said.

When telling a "that's what she said" joke, Kelsey says you should be spontaneous and good. That's what she said.

I'm working on it.

I read some things at Open Mic Night and half way through reading them to the crowd I realized I didn't like what I had written. Then I realized I hadn't edited it either. So rather than running off the stage in graceful shame by retaining my dignity, I read another unedited poem that I wasn't happy with.

Note to self: Workshops are your friend.

So is humor. Laugh at yourself. There's nothing funnier.

It's hard, and might not always feel like it's worth the effort, but it's always the best thing to do.

Refer to the title. Tee hee.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Things I Want YOU To Know

There is an art to being single. It is not just the absence of a significant other. [Thanks, Noelle ;)]

The simpler, the better.

Thinking about it is not nearly as fun as doing it.

Fear rarely comes from outside of you.

Anyone who holds you to any given expectation has ceased to see you as you truly are. You can exceed, you can underachieve. Either way, we need to learn to deal with it and move on.

We put divisions between people to make ourselves seem better. There isn't nearly as much that divides us as we think. And thinking that we're all the same is the same as thinking we aren't. We exclude against the one person who isn't the same and kill ourselves trying to make them fit. As Gandhi said, humanity is an ocean.

You don't need to be awkward.

You don't need to be angry.

You don't need to be happy.

You don't need to feel good.

You need to be honest.

You aren't fooling anyone. You're just as big a mess as the rest of us.

You are a sinner.

You can be saved. In fact, you've already been paid for, you've just got to acknowledge it.

I don't want you to agree with me. I want you to dialogue with me.

The life of a consumer is not satisfying.

The life of a servant under a righteous master is the most beautiful, necessary, and powerful life there is.

You were created to serve the Creator. If you're not serving him, you're always serving someone.

Who you are in private is never who you are with other people, even on your best day. Don't fool yourself.

Develop harmony between what you think, what you say, and what you do.

If you feel that you want something, WANT it. Want it more than anything.

Courage comes AFTER, not before.

Silence is more than okay.

Sex isn't the end all be all.

Focus. Clear your mind and focus.

Stop beating yourself up. Approve of yourself. Love yourself. Never neglect yourself.

Place your focus outward. It's better for you and for the world.

I believe all of this.

None of it is easy.

Learn to smell what you love. Learn what it tastes like, looks like, sounds like, feels like. Because most days, you'll only have one sense to go by and you cannot afford to let it go.

Never panic. You can handle it.

Breathe. Got to sleep with peace, wake up with hope.

None of this is ethereal. It is right here. Right now. It is yours if you reach out and take it.

Be here in this moment, always. Let the past lay where it lay and the future stay in its place.

Don't worry, it's already taken care of.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


My name is Aaron McCoy and I have dedicated myself to a life of contradiction.  

There are a lot of things about the world I don't believe in.  Being able to vote, but not drink?  Silliness.  Spray on tans?  Even more silliness.  Dogging on Jessica Simpson for her weight?  Don't even get me started.  But in all seriousness, the tactics we use everyday to get by just haven't gotten me anywhere I want to go.  I don't think there's any way to get it right, a flawed system is a flawed system.  Granted, we might not be able to do anything better on the grand scale, but maybe we can do a little better for ourselves.

That's what this is about.  There's a reality greater than the one we're living in, and I want to probe it, test it, experience it, the same way I've experienced this one.  All the proof I have for something outside of all this only emboldens my spirit, so I know I'm close.

Join me on a journey if you'd like, or read about my exploits.  I guarantee it'll be a trip worth taking!

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