Archive for the ‘Insight’ Category

If you were a child in the mid 80s to mid 90s you probably played with or are familiar with Lincoln Logs and/or Leggos. As a kid in the 80s these toys were the building blocks to my life, paronomasia intended. Vocabulary THAT, diction. I used to sculpt all sorts of crazy tall buildings, spaceships and communities of full-on toy awesomeness. Looking back, as I’m old as fuck now, Lincoln Logs were a sort of limited fun as you could only build house-like things as the ‘log’ pieces were made in only a handful of sizes. Leggos allowed for more creativity as there are endlessly shaped pieces, sizes and colors. Inevitably found in both sets of toys were pieces that just wouldn’t fit, whether because the wood was defectively carved, or the Leggo piece didn’t fit with whatever it was I was trying to create. Turns out I was learning life lessons via toys at the early age of 7. Every piece does not always fit.

I remember one time my dad and I decided to use every Lincoln Log piece to build the largest, tallest and most awesome log castle every built in the history of mankind. We used the larger pieces to build the base of the wood castle and added on piece by piece to build upward. Obviously my G.I. Joes and dinosaurs would need a tall ceiling to fit them all in to keep safe from monsters, duh. We continued to build upward until we reached near the end with the tallest Lincoln Log castle I’d ever seen right before my eyes. The roof was constructed of yellow and green flat pieces, and of course being the architectural geniuses that we were we built the roof at an angled pitch. The roof was almost finished! But, so were the pieces…we were missing a few which made for a giant hole in the giant castle. It looked awkward and unprotected. Off to the side we had tossed a few pieces…some of the logs were broken, a few of them were chipped and wouldn’t mesh with the other logs. And a couple roof pieces were deformed, discolored or oblong. After what seemed like MINUTES of collaborating, dad and I finally decided we’d leave out the defective pieces entirely and construct the rest of the roof with pieces of cardboard. We had created the most perfect, makeshift Lincoln Log castle of all time, ever. And we did it by leaving out the useless pieces that would have otherwise ruined our project.

I was 7. This toy-adaptation meant nothing to me at the time, outside of the awe I was in after building the monstrosity. But, what I’ve realized recently is that all of the pieces do not always fit. Sometimes some are close to fitting but just need a few adjustments made. Some you can use for projects later on down the road. Some can be used as scrap pieces. And some are just never going to be useful to whatever projects you dream up. And that’s entirely okay.

Life is a giant, endless project and you are its architect. The universe has afforded you the parts and pieces and the directions are up to you to write. Or not. You can follow other’s direction, you can make up your own, or you can wing it and make-do with what you’ve got. Whether you use every single piece presented to you or throw out some hindering parts here and there, it’s still your life and you’re still in charge of keeping the project moving forward…with the help of a few brilliant toy architects along the way, of course. Your mind is brilliant, let it be. Don’t hinder it. Most often, if something or someone’s in your way, you’ll already know and already be thinking about how to construct your castle without using it. There’s no such thing as obstruction. Adapt, reconfigure and carry on, little builders. Your masterpieces are in the making.

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Foreward, backward.

Posted: September 13, 2013 in Insight

https://offensivelyopinionated.wordpress.com/2011/04/25/title-found-within/

Recently I’ve been looking back on a lot of decisions I’ve made that have lead me to my current state; whilst revisiting said decisions I came across the above linked post. It was written at an entirely different time in my life when I still had some sort of drive, some sort of fire that motivated me to be passionate, to hone passion. I’ve lost that. I’m not sure how or when or where or why. What I do know is that I want it back. I need it back.

I won’t make this a long post. This post isn’t for you. It isn’t for leisure. It isn’t for motivation. It isn’t for entertainment. It isn’t for reminiscing. It’s simply a reminder to myself that at one point not long ago, I lived passion. I miss it. And I don’t care what it takes to get it back, I will. Life’s thrown me a lot of bones lately and rather than bitching and moaning about why I’m not filled with passionate positivity as I once was, I’m simply going to thank the universe for opportunity and hone the fuck out of it. It starts here: appreciation for what I do have, rather than what I do not.

I bid you all adieu, as I’m going to go appreciate my mess of a life that should never be mistaken as anything less than a continuous gift.

To say that my life has been a bi-polar roller coaster on unstable tracks would be a severe understatement. This makes me no different than any of you. Everyone’s life has its ups and downs, generally more ups than downs. I’m not here to give my sob story or to attract pity or attention, rather, to detail every awesomely miserable occurrence that has happened and will continue to happen sporadically for the rest of my life. I’m not a doctor or psychologist or even so much as someone well informed on life’s lessons – I’m here to trudge through the shit with you. I’m angry. I’m stressed. I’m miserable. I’m depressed. And I’ve even contemplated suicide. I’m there now, in fact. I’m not a ‘cry-for-help’ kind of person, so keep in mind that every bit of this insight will be typed with a cringe and blushed cheeks throughout. Speaking to in-person crowds nets a fraction of the multitude online mediums such as this reach. Also, I can hide behind my words until I’m comfortable enough detailing my fuck ups to the point of making a daily video log rather than this blog. The point is, I’m not only here with you, but someone whose aesthetic appearance would connote one whose life is “together.” Shit happens to everyone – good looking, wealthy, charismatic, whatever – we’re all at the mercy of the human condition. I’m simply a regular dude going through the same life struggles each of you are, and I’m going to get through every last bit of it with you, for you, because of you.

I moved to Arizona 6 years ago almost to the date – August 8th. I said almost, nit picky fucks. When I made the move, it was to be with my then girlfriend, Satan, and to better myself by going to Arizona State University and eventually law school. Also, the town I grew up in had no opportunities for me and the ones I did have I had either fucked up or capitalized on. For a thousand different reasons, it was time for me to move on from Washington. So I did. The girl and I had been together for quite some time, though we had never lived together. We were perfect then. We got along beautifully, never fought, had just the right amount of interests to get along and still grow with each other. Fuck that noise. It took 2 months of living together to tear that house of cards down. So here I was, a new state, nowhere to go and I knew no one. I decided I’d stay. I couldn’t go back home with my tail between my legs, broadcasting that I had failed miserably. So I made a life for myself here. At the time and ever since, I tell people that the reason for the move was school and the girl. And it was, to some degree. The main reason, though, was because as an idiot teenager/young twenty-something I earned a criminal background for myself. Awesome, Ross! Fucking idiot. Being a felon at the age of twenty meant a lot of things were going to change – mainly, my demographic. I’ll fill you in on those specifics at a later date.

Common lie #1: I didn’t move to Arizona just for the girlfriend and school. I moved to Arizona to escape my criminal background and start fresh.

So here I am. A felon, in a new state, with no girlfriend, no friends, no money, and no hope. I wanted to crawl in a hold and die, but I persevered. I owe that in its entirety to my sister who was my rod and staff at the time. And still is. Why is this important to you or this blog, you ask? First, don’t ask questions yet, asshole. Second, it’s important because life itself is already tough, add a criminal background to that shit and see how easy it is to find a place to live, to get a job, to get people to trust you. I might not go through the same exact struggles each of you go through, but given mine, I can relate. That, is my point.

The journey onward. Fragment. Bite me. After the ex and I broke up I had nowhere to go, so I decided that Craigslist would be my best bet for finding something cheap, quickly. Sure enough, I found a room for rent for piddly in a house with a pool and 3 other roommates. Awesome, I thought! New friends potentially! I moved in 2 days later and immediately made friends with the dude in the room next to me. He was a quiet guy but I could tell he was unhappy in general. I know this because he said so, often. I’m a regular detective. Tommy Nine used to talk to me constantly about his ex-girlfriend who broke his heart, along with the myriad of other reasons why he was miserable. He opened up to me a lot, actually, telling me about seeing a shrink to help his depression, taking numerous pills to try to feel some semblance of stability. I came home from work one day to Tom crying, so I cracked open a beer and he and I sat outside talking about why he had bought a gun. He told me he bought it just to feel like there was a way out, but that he’d never actually use it. I told him I’d hang on to it if that were true, so he’d still know it was there, but of course never be able to get his hands on it. He refused. Long, sad story short – I came home from work about a week later to the house smelling like hot garbage. We live in Arizona and it was summer, mind you, so the hot garbage smell was common, especially in a house full of single bachelors. I paid no mind to it, walked to my room and started packing as I was headed to the airport to fly back to Washington for a weekend visit. As I continued packing I realized that the smell was far more toxic toward my room and was getting worse. I called the other roommates and asked if they’d noticed the smell, none of them had. You know how you’re busy doing something and suddenly something just hits you and everything makes complete sense? That happened. At that moment I realized that there was a package outside Tom’s door that I had set out there 2 days prior. This meant he hadn’t left his room in 2 days. I knew what had happened, and my heart sank to depths it has never returned from. After building up the courage I opened the door to see Tom on his bed, his head a mess, and blood splattered all over his wall and a shotgun in his arm resting next to him looking guilt-free and accomplished. Unless you’ve seen something similar you will never understand that feeling. I’m not even going to try to describe it. I felt responsible. I felt angry. I felt sad. I bawled like a little girl for him, not for myself. After hours and hours of replaying the past few weeks over and over in my head I had another epiphany – one that I wish I hadn’t. A couple days prior to finding him in his room, I was in the shower getting ready for work and I heard a loud bang; it sounded like someone threw a bowling ball against the wall. I paid no attention to it then, but days later realized that I heard the actual shot. I’ve never told a single person this. You, readers, are the very first and I’ll tell you, I thought it’d be a lot more liberating. It isn’t. At all.

Common lie #2: I heard the shot.

After ten minutes of reading you now know more about me than most people I’ve known for years. I’m going to continue tomorrow, hopefully on a lighter note, but I’m basically just winging it so who knows. I’ll leave you with this, though: grasp onto anyfuckingthing that makes you feel sane. I don’t care what or whom it is. Grab it. Hold it. Squeeze the fuck out of it. Suffocate it like it’s your lifeblood. For me, music and writing are these safety nets. Do whatever you have to. Clearly I understand that life is a difficult journey, but I’m telling you now and I’ll tell you years from now – it gets better. Slowly but surely. And after it gets better it gets worse. It’s a back and forth cycle that will make you feel crazy but stick with me. Mainly because I need you, but also because you’re still reading this for a reason. Read more tomorrow. I’ll be here. And the day after.

Ignore the shitty quality. Pay attention to the song.

Saturday, 1:27am.

Posted: November 25, 2012 in Insight
Tags: , ,

After staring at this impatient screen and slapping hundreds of keys for the past two hours, this barren eraser of a line is what I’ve got to show for it. Fuck my life. Fuck my Saturday night. Fuck yours, too. IF you’re awake and reading this you’re sure to find a reason to forfeit your evening and cuddle your pillow like it’s your life’s solace.

The past few months have given me enough hardship to write a lifetime’s worth of material, yet I’ve written nothing. Why? My laptop’s keyboard haunts my anxiety like a first-time blind date. I approach it optimistic and open-minded with a child’s naive excitement. But, when my time here has expired I leave empty, unamused, uninspired and exhausted – throwing my dignity to an ex’s memory. Better times were had. Greater ideas were cultivated. All I want to do is text someone with an endless amount of shit to talk about the waste of a night. I’ll spare you all the dread of an aging bachelor’s memoir in progress.

Substance. The word is hardly a noteworthy wing-man to the garbage that dilutes the bane of our existence to an even lesser point. For me, though, it’s Atlantis. It’s my Ark of the Covenant. My white unicorn. I search. I yearn. I dedicate. I exhaust. I fold. I regain my wits. I search, endlessly.

Irony.

Let me tell you where I think substance is NOT found – substance is not found in the expectations of others. It isn’t found in the unfortunate plight of those less hopeful or less ambitious. It isn’t found by curbing your individuality. It isn’t found by trading your niche for popularity. It isn’t found in the depths of past minds trapped in commercialization of brilliance. It isn’t found in a lot of places that I’m too lazy to type out. You get the point. I don’t know where substance is found in endless amounts. If I did, this post wouldn’t exist. This blog wouldn’t exist. My thoughts wouldn’t exist, they wouldn’t need to. I’d let my well of substance do my thinking for me. Hello, slippery slope.

If you’re waiting for a brilliant ending, stop. There isn’t one. That, kids, is my point – substance has to be found in small doses, otherwise you become the disease that eats it away, creative bit by creative bit. Genius and humility are the necessary ingredients, but finding the perfect mix will be found on a case-by-case basis. It just happens to be that most of you fuck it up. I do. I add a bit of pomp and bitterness and stir it with aggression and impatience. My life is the mess that it creates. The amount of meaningful substance in my life is at a minimal amount, at best. And that is why I’m sitting in front of my laptop’s inviting glow on a Saturday night at 1:27am.

Dedication.

Posted: January 15, 2012 in Insight
Tags: , , , , ,

I’m going to take you all for a loopy ride. I won’t take you in the direction you’re expecting to go. I won’t take you somewhere you’ve ever been before. I also won’t take you into a discourse on what the word dedication means and list examples so as to show you what dedication looks like. Rather, I’ll show you what is currently developing in my complicated myriad of brain waves. This will not be a political rant.

You’re sitting at your laptop or desktop in the midst of perusing through one of the 6 websites you frequent on a daily basis. Close the other tabs. They’re not going to inspire emotion. They’re not going to create a necessity for self betterment. They’re not going to make you cry. While none of the above are my intent, they are also the inevitable.

Let’s talk about dedication. To me, dedication is the never ending pursuit toward something unattained. Dedication is a selfless advancement toward a goal or aspiration. It is the relentless giving of one’s self toward something bigger or greater than the individual, coupled with a never-quit attitude until said goal or achievement is attained. It is a commitment that does not waiver. It is selflessness. It is stubbornness, sometimes to a fault. It is something each and every one of us strive to find – whether you pursue a dedication toward a career, family, significant other, empirical and tangible object – the fact remains, we are all dedicated to something. A life without would be an empty and meaningless dread.

My mom is my hero. My mom holds a level a dedication that is unfathomable. My mom is the most unselfish human being I’ve ever known. Imagine, if you will, a life that consists of waking up earlier than you want to every morning to give toward something that tires you, stresses you out, and leaves you feeling unsatisfied every single second you’re engaged. Imagine a life that requires you to give up every last thing you’ve ever wanted or hoped for yourself. Imagine a life that is consumed by giving, nonstop, to people that do not only pay you no recognition for all that you do, rather, give you shit for what you are lacking. Imagine a life that is a constant battle with those you so unselfishly give yourself to every single second of every last day you’re alive. Did I lose you? Can you imagine? For most of you, you can’t. It’s not because you’re not dedicated with the same selflessness. It’s not because these things are alien to you. It’s not because you don’t know someone who lives a similar life. You can’t imagine it because, no matter how hard you strive to be that person, the things aforementioned would tear you apart and kill you inside every single day. The same is not true of my mom. She fights. She blocks. She dedicates. She gives. And gives. And gives. Relentlessly. And it is never noticed. It is never even so much as mentioned. In fact, it is bitched about, constantly. I ask each of you reading this, what would you tell her? What would you say to her if you had even the slightest understanding of what my words convey? Would you tell her to quit? Would you talk shit to the people giving her shit about what she’s NOT doing? Would you be angry that she takes it, day in and day out, and scold her for it? Or, would you take a page out of her book that inspires that same dedication that goes unnoticed?

I’ve spent the better part of twenty-eight years being the epitome of selfish. I’ve lived out my own dreams, with limited anchors or setbacks. I’ve done what I’ve wanted to do. I’ve done whom I’ve wanted to do. I’ve gone places I’ve wanted to go. I’ve said things I’ve wanted to say. I’ve neglected things I didn’t care about or didn’t impact me. I’ve focused on things that have made ME happy, even if those things meant hurting someone else. I’ve literally lived an entire life of selfishness. It’s because of that lifestyle that I’m able to see how completely unselfish my mom is. It’s because of all of the aforementioned shitty things I’ve done and said that I’m able to see the error of my ways and want to correct them. Without her as an example for what dedication should be, I’d be complacent in my selfishness as it’s lead me to an abundance of happiness. However, it has not been fulfilling. Not in the least. Fulfillment, in my estimation, is the light at the end of the tunnel where dedication begins. It’s not dedication that I seek, it’s the fulfillment to be gained from that dedication. My mom exemplifies that. Though I told you I wouldn’t give an example of what dedication looks like, I’ve just done so. Sue me. How about, rather than focusing on that, you focus on ways to impact others for the better. I’ve struggled with that my entire life. And it wasn’t until recently, tonight, maybe, that I’ve realized I am empty without the same dedication my mom gives every single day. I’ve never known a single day of that same dedication. I don’t want it for a day, I want it to be my life.

That said, I can now unfold tonight’s epiphany – I not only want, but need a child of my own. I know, wholeheartedly, without a doubt, that I want to, and will, give and dedicate myself to a child more so than I’ve ever given to anything in my entire life. I’m ready. Not ready for myself and in my own recognizance, but ready transcended from a life that has not yet began. I want that dedication. In fact, I long for it. And the example of dedication that has inspired this comes from the very dedication my mom gives to her family every second of every day, even when it’s a losing battle and all odds are stacked against her. I welcome that same wall of defeat to battle my dedication. I’ll win. Dedication wins. Every single time.

…And I’m going to burn it the fuck down, and build myself a castle reinforced with certainty.

I’ve recently gotten away from this blog being a political rant. And while I, and hopefully you, miss the spewing of political belligerence, there are things far more important to share with each of you still reading. A government can only secure so much, whereas you yourself are the pillars holding that structure up. Therefore, you, each individual, are invaluable to that structure. We must start there.

These thoughts were inspired by a song from one of my favorite bands, A Day To Remember. The song’s called “This is the House That Doubt Built.” It’s audio brilliance coupled with inspiring lyrics; I listen to it every morning on my drive to work, and anytime I feel like I’m lacking positivity in whatever I’m about to conquer. And there’s where my motivation stemmed from: one of the lyrics state:

Let’s believe that if we all stand together
We’re a force that can shake the whole world

That may seem like a simple set of lyrics, but they’re far more than that. That’s huge. Everyone doubts themselves at some point, or often, but if you wholeheartedly trust those surrounding you, and rely on them with an undoubting (just made that word up, sue me)faith, you, together, can conquer the world. This is not to say that doubt is unnatural, because it isn’t. It’s natural. But so is creepy, curly hair, and we as humans have mastered ways to straighten out that problem, right? So what makes this any different? You trust that when you buy products to straighten out your hair, they’ll work. Similarly, trust that when there’s a doubt in any area of your life, there have been those who have had that same exact doubt, and have conquered it. Having faith in those around you is tenfold more powerful than a belief that you by yourself can conquer the world.

I work at a company that I am absolutely in love with. I took the job as a means to help me get through school, and eventually to and through law school. But it has become something exponentially more important than just that. It has become an inspiration and motivator to be better than whatever I had previously thought was the best. It feeds my drive, it ignites my passion, and it provides a faith in those around me that I’ve never had before. Another line from the song, “This is the House That Doubt Built,” states:

In the end it’s not about what you have
In the end it’s all about where you wanna go
And the roads you take to help you get there

I am certain that this company trumps whatever I have or have had, and is the path I’ll follow to get where I want to go. That certainty stems from trusting and believing in those I work with and learn from every day. I’m motivated more every day to work hard for them, and they do the same, and I trust and believe that. Together, we’re a force that can shake the whole world. Thanks, ADTR, your song has become an unofficial company theme song.

Toward the end of last year I posted about buying my first house and being confused about the difference in contentment and complacency. Nine months later and a lot of growing up in between, I’ve clarified any prior confusion I had. Contentment and complacency are essentially synonyms for ‘uninspired.’ If you’re content and have found an acceptable complacency and are offended after reading the first paragraph, stop right here. The rest isn’t for you.

I can’t seem to find a home for either contentment or complacency, and won’t. Ever. If ever that day were to come, so, too, would the end of my journey. Being happy is great, and if you can find that in contentment – awesome…for you. But it’s not for me. Once I find happiness and know it’s attainable, I will always strive to find more of it, in greater amounts, from different areas, in greater capacities. The simple point is, there is always more. Always.

I’m reminded 17,000 times a day why complacency isn’t for me. I’m happy with my car. I’m happy with my house. I’m happy with myself. I’m happy with my education. I’m happy with me. But happiness is not complacency. Though I’m happy with all of the aforementioned, I’m nowhere near content with it all. There will always be a better car than what I have. There will always be bigger and nicer houses than what I have. There are those more educated than I am. There are those more happy with themselves than I am with myself. Those people didn’t stop at just being happy, or just accepting whatever hand life dealt them. They took the hand, and crafted something exponentially better from it. And from that exponentially better hand, did the same, and so on. No millionaire or billionaire made their first large sum of money and said, “fuck it, I’m good with this” and gave up. Car collectors with 1935 Bugatti’s and Ferrari 250 GTO’s didn’t stop at an MG roadster or ’65 Mustang. They said, “fuck it, there are better out there” and stepped their game up.

I used to think I wanted to be content. But that was before I was content. I reached that level and realized that contentment is far too easy a plain to reach, and made a pact with myself to constantly strive for better, no matter what plain I’m at…it won’t ever be a peak. Don’t ever give yourself a peak. Don’t allow yourself to believe that a peak exists, because once you’ve acknowledged it, you’ve capped your potential. My potential will never have a cap; I hope yours doesn’t either. Do something that scares you every day, and scare away whatever peak might have previously existed.

On a political note, my premise for being a right wing conservative is everything mentioned in this post, to the core. If you’re able to accomplish above and beyond those who are complacent, you shouldn’t be punished. “You’re wealthy, therefore, should be taxed more or be comfortable gifting the surplus to those less fortunate.” Fuck that nonsense. IF you choose to gift your success away, that’s up to you personally. It should not be a government interference, simply because there are those who are not in the top 10%. And this, coming from someone not in the top 10%. When I get there, I will recognize that I started with nothing and earned that spot in the top 10%, and if I so choose to gift that success downward, that’s my own decision. A liberal mindset says that all should be equal, socially and fiscally. Fuck. That. Those who are not reaching their own potential should not be rewarded. Rewarding complacency is an ugly circle that continues the cycle of mediocrity. I don’t want to be rewarded for mediocrity. I am devoid of complacency.

Growing up, which I’m still working on mastering, I assumed it was best to always choose the road less traveled. I read it on a billboard or Laffy Taffy wrapper or something. I don’t know. It stuck with me through middle school, junior high and high school, even up to some point recently. I’ve always been a weirdo and danced to the beat of my own spoon drums; that’s where I feel comfortable. But now, in the age of my-mullet-trumps-your-sloppy-bed-hair, it’s no longer weird to be weird. It’s normal. Wait, what? If weird is normal, by default, normal is weird, right? What the Jesus.

In 1920, Robert Frost constructed The Road Not Taken. Ninety years later we’ve come full circle. The twenty’s were an era so far removed from today that the social mindset was literally the complete opposite of what it is today. Then, you were the tits if you packed a tommy gun in your jacket and wore a top hat, tilted to the side. It was different. Robbing banks or importing liquor made you a citizen different from the norm. Being a rebel meant being a rebel. Pretty simple. What the shit is a rebel today? What makes you, by social definition, different? Is being what would have been considered normal twenty years ago now considered different? This shit gives me a headache. Everything you’ve read to this point is pointless. They’re all titles. And unless you’re a douchebag, you don’t introduce yourself to people, clientele aside, with your title. And if you do, understand that you’re not normal or weird, you’re a pretentious dipshit. Point of all of this is, there is no longer a road not taken or less traveled. They’re all traveled. And taking the main road is certainly not going to proclaim you any different than anyone else on that same road. Though this isn’t a problem, there is a solution: create your own.

You don’t even have to know where it’s going to lead you, all you have to do is start it somewhere, anywhere. And regardless what Robert Frost suggested, don’t follow anyone else’s path, often traveled or less taken. If you were to do either, you’d still be following someone else’s footsteps, yeah? Fuck that noise. Create your own path like someone’s following YOU, rather than vice versa. Pretty sure, by default, that’d make you a leader. Didn’t see this post heading that direction, did you?

If you’re reading this and planning on a Memorial Day coupon-crazy day of shopping, pay close attention – this is for you. It’s stated, obnoxiously and aggressively, year after year, that Memorial Day is not simply a holiday intended to allow for cheaper groceries or pool toys for a weekend. It’s meant to honor fallen soldiers who have created, sustained and allowed us to do whatever it is we do today. I shouldn’t need to explain this, but for some ungrateful souls, Memorial Day isn’t important enough to cherish or honor in the fashion it was initially deemed fit.

Though the majority of Americans are familiar with what this day is meant to remember, not enough are familiar with its origin. It’s something to be remembered. You don’t have to be a fan of America. You don’t have to be a fan of diction or literature. You don’t have to be a fan of war efforts or anything military-related. You don’t even have to be a fan of passion or honor. It’s possible to be lifeless and stoic to all things emotion, and still leave General John A Logan’s General Orders No. 11 with a renewed appreciation, and a tear or two. I’m not the aforementioned stoic, but I certainly cried a little. Like a girl. Okay, I cried a lot, like a crazy pregnant woman. Might have been embarrassing if those tears were inspired from anything other than my appreciation for being an American.

It’s easy to get caught up in your day-to-day agenda and forget how you got there, wherever there might be. There are so many distractions that take away from the beauty in brevity. It’s everywhere. Next time you’re outside, find an ugly tree. An old, beat up, falling apart, withered tree – doesn’t matter what kind or how tall or small. That tree’s grown in American soil. That tree’s seen bad days and good. It’s seen life sprout, and life’s lost. It’s a simple tree. But it’s here because American soldiers have fought for that very land the tree resides on. Beauty in brevity. We’re all the same as that very tree. I don’t care how tough your life has been or will be. You’re still an American, and that’s better than any empirical gift I can imagine. If you can come up with something better, you’re unappreciative.

That American gift comes by way of an unmentionable amount of soldier’s lives. What if someone asked you to die for them so their family and next handful of generations could continue to live here, what would you say? You’d say no. Who would say yes?

…An American soldier. Millions have said yes, since the 18th century. And we’re still here because of them. Memorial Day isn’t meant to honor the lives of those who have died in wars you’re familiar with, it’s meant to remember the entirety of soldiers who have created the open road you’ve found your life on. Memorial Day’s foundation is as beautiful as the very American ground you’re occupying right this second. On May 5th, 1868, General John A. Logan (who, of course, was a Republican ;]) drafted one of the more simple and elegant pieces of writing I’ve ever read. I’m not bias because of Logan’s political affiliation or because I’m turned on by beautiful construction of words collaborated. Again, I could be soulless and emotionless and still find beauty in this piece. On May 5th, 1868, General Logan writes, in his General Orders No. 11:

“The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet church-yard in the land. In this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.

We are organized, comrades, as our regulations tell us, for the purpose among other things, “of preserving and strengthening those kind and fraternal feelings which have bound together the soldiers, sailors, and marines who united to suppress the late rebellion.” What can aid more to assure this result than cherishing tenderly the memory of our heroic dead, who made their breasts a barricade between our country and its foes? Their soldier lives were the reveille of freedom to a race in chains, and their deaths the tattoo of rebellious tyranny in arms. We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. All that the consecrated wealth and taste of the nation can add to their adornment and security is but a fitting tribute to the memory of her slain defenders. Let no wanton foot tread rudely on such hallowed grounds. Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect, no ravages of time testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.

If our eyes grow dull, other hands slack, and other hearts cold in the solemn trust, ours shall keep it well as long as the light and warmth of life remain to us.

Let us, then, at the time appointed gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with the choicest flowers of spring-time; let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved from hishonor; let us in this solemn presence renew our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left among us a sacred charge upon a nation’s gratitude, the soldier’s and sailor’s widow and orphan.

It is the purpose of the Commander-in-Chief to inaugurate this observance with the hope that it will be kept up from year to year, while a survivor of the war remains to honor the memory of his departed comrades. He earnestly desires the public press to lend its friendly aid in bringing to the notice of comrades in all parts of the country in time for simultaneous compliance therewith.

Department commanders will use efforts to make this order effective.
By order of

JOHN A. LOGAN,
Commander-in-Chief “

You can detect passion through writing. You don’t have to be James Bond to find General Logan’s passion. If you don’t feel that same passion, you’re less American than you think. Being an American doesn’t simply mean you reside here and pay taxes and/or vote sometimes, if a good game isn’t on. Being an American requires a certain amount of respect and remembrance for those who continue to fight, physically and verbally, for your freedom.

May your words and actions do them justice.

What inspires passion? What moves you to step outside of your comfort zone and welcome life’s challenges and beauties? That answer will be different for each one of you reading this. There is no right or wrong answer. For me, because this blog is all about me (plus I’m selfish as fuck), I’m inspired by everything. There are 439,409,998,713 things a day that inspire me, for better or worse. The good, bad, ugly and everything in between make me feel and appreciate all that is life. Even when shit’s shitty and it seems like there is no solution, there is. There always is. Simply feeling emotion and allowing life to get to you is or should be enough to inspire you. If it isn’t, punch yourself in the heart…it isn’t working and it needs an upstart.

Fixers. Let’s talk about fixers. I just had a short but inspiring conversation with my best friend about being a fixer and all that it encompasses. I’m not sure if it’s human nature or if it’s only a select few who suffer from this handicap, but I’ve realized recently that I’m a fixer. I not only go way out of my way to try and fix my own problems, no matter how impossible to fix they might be, but I also try to fix other people’s problems. Until today, I’ve been OK with that. Even though I’m selfish, I’m willing to put myself aside to help close friends in any way that I can. Today, I realized that I can’t focus my energy on other people’s issues if they themselves are not willing to do the same. No matter how unselfish I’m willing to be, I can’t control what other people do. That’s been a tough lesson for me to gradually learn as a fixer and control freak. It’s frustrating to realize that I, by myself, cannot control other people. I can put forth whatever effort I deem fit and that’s about it. I can use my passion and inspirations to try and solve life. But it’s never that simple. And it’s even more difficult when the person(s) you’re trying to help can’t do that for themselves. I don’t think being a fixer is necessarily a bad thing. I labeled it as a handicap earlier, but I’m not sure if that’s an accurate description as it’s a compassionate characteristics that requires you to put yourself before another person, for whatever reason. In fact, I have respect for fixers. Even though I try to be one, I mostly suck at it because I’m crazy selfish. My frustrations come from attempting to lend a helping hand and having it thrown right back at me. I’m like a turtle. When a turtle feels comfortable with its surroundings, it will peak its head out and explore. But when it’s scared, it will stay in its shell until it feels that its fear has departed. It takes a lot for me to come out of my shell and attempt to feel comfortable with those surrounding me. I don’t trust people. And ultimately, regardless of what Karl fucking Marx thought, people are not intrinsically good. They’re shitty and selfish. This keeps me in my shell. But every now and again, I’ll break through my own protections and peak my head out of my shell. Ten times out of ten, I end up right back in my shell. This is the dilemma I face on a daily basis. I’m sure all of you have faced it as well. But remember, we’re talking about me, not you. ;]

It’s hard for me to understand why and how people don’t vacuum life in as a glorious and beautiful thing. We’re born with a physical case that allows us to grow, and a brain that allows for learning and adaptation to become accustom to our surroundings. That, in and of itself, is absolutely beautiful to me. This isn’t just the wine talking, but life is an absolutely amazing work of art that each of us have the ability to paint, master and perfect. I come across a lot of people who don’t share that view. There are a lot of people who will take the downsides for simply that – a downside. Fuck that nonsense. Every downside or curve that life throws at you is an opportunity to make something beautiful of something shitty. Accept it. Appreciate it. Take advantage of it. And cultivate it into your own. There is absolutely no reason to bitch, moan and complain about the shitty hand life’s dealt you. I do it every once in a while, but with the understanding that it’s an opportunity for me to grow as a person and adapt to the beauty that is life. It’s taken me a long time and a lot of shitty situations to come to that realization. It should have been something realized early on. Life’s a gift, and rather than expecting it to treat me well like I deserve something from it, I can mold it to become my own. How do people in general not see it as the same?

I don’t mean to preach and sound like I know everything about everything and have all of the answers. I sure as shit do not. But what I do have is an understanding that I control my future. I will not make excuses for why NOT to take advantage of that. I will not make excuses for why not to branch out from my safety net and experience everything that life offers. Sometimes it’s scary, but finding yourself in that fear is what makes you, you. It’s what strengthens the fibers we’re weaved from. To find excuses why not to venture out and enjoy the life we’re gifted is incomprehensible to me. If you come to a point where you find yourself questioning a decision, fuck it, go for it. Don’t second guess it. Take chances. Live like you’ve only got one life to live. Live like you’re only here for a 65-90 year period and there’s nothing afterward. Live like you are your passion. Live like you’ve got a burning desire to encompass and embrace everything that comes your way, good, bad or indifferent. Live like you give a shit about the life you’re making for yourself. Live like you’re making a legacy that will be written in books for centuries after you’re gone. Live like you give a shit. And if you don’t, get the fuck off of my page, you have no business here. No more invalid excuses why not to take responsibility and accountability for yourself. I’m tired of that shit. And I’m tired of hearing that shit from people I attempt to care about. No more. No more being a fixer. No more allowing other people’s excuses to restrain them from being great. No more shitty scape goats for why not to take advantage of life. It’s gifted you with itself, stop wasting it.

Listen to this song and allow the lyrics to sink deep into your soul. If you don’t feel it within the depths of you, you aren’t good at music. Eddie Vedder, I fucking love you.