Bus Stop

Posted: August 29, 2017 in Uncategorized

I drove by this morning and saw the neighborhood kids waiting at the bus stop. It was dark, and they looked so sad and despondent in the yellow glow of the streetlights.
They were wrapped up in their hoodies.
They were wrapped up in their own little worlds.
They looked like they all really needed a hug, I realized that would be awkward.
SOOOO…
There they stood, A hopeless horde, all maintaining a safe distance from each other.
They stumbled around like zombies with backpacks. Most of them were looking at devices so they didn’t have to talk or make eye contact. Several wore headphones. Another indication that they didn’t want to be bothered.
There was an early morning sad funk in the air.
It was only the second day of school.
But, the thrill was gone and reality had kicked them in the gut.
And, at 6:30 am, they were waiting for a bus.
I caught a quick drive by glimpse of their faces.
I’ve seen that mask before.
I’ve worn that mask before.
They were desperately trying to look like they weren’t hurting. They were trying to look cool and uninterested.
They put apathy on like a motorcycle helmet to protect themselves from vulnerability.
They are scared of being known.
They’re just kids that just want to be liked and loved.
And there they were, thrown together with some people that they didn’t like, all just waiting to go somewhere else.

Sound familiar?
We all find ourselves at the bus stop.
We all wrestle with the fundamental HUGE fear of being known. “If people really knew me, would they like me?”
So we put on the familiar mask and keep our distance.
We find ourselves thrown together with people we sometimes don’t like.
Sometimes they throw us UNDER the bus.
SOOOO….
We spend our time just waiting to go somewhere else.

BUT, HOLD UP, WAIT A MINUTE…
Sometimes when I drive by, something (or someone) is different.
I will slowly cruise by and…SHOCKER…I will actually see a kid who is happy to be there!! It’s a kid who views the bus stop as a ticket to adventure and a chance to see their friends.
It’s usually the younger kids.
They haven’t surrendered to the confining culture of cool yet. They haven’t been put in their place by public opinion yet, and so where others see a bus stop, they see a potential party.
I like that kid, I want to stop and give them a high five, but, once again that would be awkward.
It amazing how sometimes the difference between a prison and a possibility is simply perspective.

Life sometimes feels like a bus stop.
You are just waiting and sometimes it’s awkward.
But, it’s not forever.
Eventually the bus will pull up and the sliding doors will creak open…watch your step…take your place (I’ve always preferred the back of the bus). Realize that the ride won’t last forever (unless it’s a greyhound bus ride to Longview, Texas, but I digress). You will eventually get dropped off somewhere that you are expected to learn something.
In the meantime, be brave enough to be yourself and turn the bus stop into a party.

 

We lived in Texas for 10 years. It is an awesome place unlike any other place on the planet.
We got to travel all over the state, We saw some amazing things. We fell in love with the land (and with the tamales!)
But, We realized that the greatest resource in Texas is not a stone or a structure, it’s not a product.
It’s the people.

They are a bold and beautiful people.
They are a people who are strong and scrappy.
They will not be held back. They will not quit.
They remember the Alamo.
They turned a defeat into the greatest battle cry of all time.
They will make it through this storm.

These are people who are fiercely independent, yet they are quick to help a neighbor.
They believe in familia.
They practice hospitality. They believe in the power of the front porch. They know that nothing turns strangers into neighbors faster than good barbecue and sweet tea or a cold Lone Star beer.
They will make it through this storm together.

One of the greatest natural resources of Texas is Lyle Lovett.
In one of my favorite songs he sings:
“That’s right you’re not from Texas
That’s right you’re not from Texas
That’s right you’re not from Texas
But Texas wants you anyway.”

 

This week the front porch got bigger.
Whether you are from there or not., Texas wants you anyway.
We are ALL Texas.
Let’s practice familia.
Together, we can be stronger than this storm.

An open letter to Taylor Swift.

Posted: August 28, 2017 in Uncategorized

Dear Taylor,
I write you as a dad, I’m the father of a daughter that is just a few years younger than you.
I respect your artistry, your story telling ability and what appears to be a genuine concern for your fans.
You have had your share of success, but it also seems you have had your share of pain. I’m sorry about that. It truly sucks that you have encountered hurters and haters. The world can be a hard place and I’m sure that it’s even harder when you are living in the harsh gaze of the public eye.
You have turned your pain into poetry, that is a beautiful thing when it evolves into a story of hope.
But, please don’t live in the land of bad blood.
Revenge is the sickest of beats.
It is never satisfied.
It sucks the joy and fun out of life.
I’m concerned about you.
Look what you’ve made me do…
I’m reaching out to say, as a dad, that you are more than your hurt, you are even more than your art.
Please hear my heart, if I’m way off base, please forgive me and ignore my words.
I pray that you would know the incomparable freedom of forgiveness. Don’t allow those who have slighted you hold you captive. Don’t let them continue to offend you. It’s a choice.
People throw rocks at things that shine, but you DON’T have to pick the rocks up.
Forgiveness makes you fearless.
It makes you stronger than the hurters.
Turn pain into poetry, turn scars into story, but then…shake it off.
I’m praying that you would rediscover the pure childlike joy of creating stuff that is fun.
Keep dreaming.

Sincerely,

a dad.

 

King George

Posted: August 27, 2017 in Uncategorized

Once upon a time, there was a slightly irregular King who tried to tell us what to do…
He was a mad monarch.
A tyrant with serious control issues and an ego that was big enough to cross an ocean.
He tried to tell our founding fathers (and mothers) how to live, act, think and believe.
They didn’t respond well.
It turns out that those immigrants had a bit of an independent streak.
A group of regular rebels threw up their rock fists and shouted, “we’re not gonna take it!”
There was a fight.
King George tried to get his subjects to submit.
The colonial crew refused to be treated as subjects or objects or anything less than “created equal”. Although, sadly and tragically, it took a while for EVERYbody to be considered a part of the “created equal” equation, but I digress…
Tea was thrown, shots were fired, and revolution brought freedom. That is what rightly constructed revolution does…
It unleashes freedom.
We live on the other side of that battle.
We thought it was over.
But, History always has a warning label.
Mistakes are repeated, mad monarchs take up residence in our lives.
We didn’t realize that he’d be back.
We thought Georgie was in his grave.
But he makes a comeback, demanding allegiance, telling us how to live, act, think, and believe.
We all face our own King George.
The wrong things occupy the throne in our lives.
We will feel the bitter soul sting, when we live with the wrong king. (That intentionally rhymes!)
Maybe it’s time to dethrone.
Maybe it’s time to lead a rebellion against the things that limit your freedom.
The thugs or things that make you feel fearful, or alienated, or like you don’t matter.
The tyrants and bullies have no place or space in your life.
It’s time…
Spill some tea, make some noise, turn over some tables, throw up your rock fist and shout “we’re not gonna take it!”
Who or what is your King George?
Who or what do you need to dethrone?
Sometimes, you need to revolt because you find yourself revolting. Self righteousness and arrogance are good reasons for a revolution.
Step off the throne of me.
Rebel…
In the face of fear, pride, prejudice and despair…
Rebel with joy,
Rebel with love,
Rebel with hope.
Lead a properly constructed revolution against the things that limit your freedom.
Then stand back and say…
AWESOME…WOW!

Dinosaur Disc.

Posted: August 23, 2017 in Uncategorized

I think I know why Tyrannosaurus Rex were cranky.
It was because their little T-Rex arms hurt!
The Tyrannosaurus Rex was a large, carnivorous super lizard!
You would think that he would be unstoppable, that nothing would be beyond his reach.
But, sadly this is not the case. Because of his ridiculously unproportionate arms, there was ALOT he couldn’t do.
Think about it…
There are no T-Rex selfies!
They couldn’t scratch their feet! (This alone would bum me out!)
They couldn’t slow clap.
They were terrible at ping pong.
They couldn’t give a decent high five (this fact alone is why the T-Rex got an undeserved reputation for being unfriendly).
I imagine that their arms were pretty sore.
I feel their pain.
I discovered last week that I have a dinosaur disc in my neck.
Evidently part of my spine has gone the way of the dinosaur…dust.
I have a disintegrated disc.
And, it REALLY hurts my little arms.
They have been hurting all summer.
This has been the summer of the sting.
I’ve been trying to get comfortable for three months.
I tried to figure out what was going on.
I blamed my pain on a lot of things.
It turns out it was the dinosaur disc all along.
I went to an awesome chiropractor who used some crazy tools on my body.
He used some blades that looked like samurai ginseng knives to knead my muscles.
He used a power tool that looked like a sander. It gave me cool purple bruises.
He used the same cups on my back that Michael Phelps uses. This is yet ANOTHER thing that Mr. Phelps and I have in common, for example: we both can rock a speedo and neither of us have ever swam with sharks.
My amazing chiropractor’s treatment helped almost every other body part, but…
my arms still hurt.
So, he took X-rays.
And THAT is when he saw IT!
In amongst my future fossils, he discovered the dinosaur disc.
It’s not fun.
But, it is a relief just to be able to give my pain a name.
It’s always nice to know what you are dealing with, so you can actually deal with it!
I have an appointment to see a neuro-dinosaur hunter soon.
It can’t get here soon enough.
I want the pain to be extinct.
Until then, I will stomp around like a slightly cranky T-Rex looking for a comfortable place to rest my angry little arms.
I’m just glad I can still scratch my own feet.

MISSING CHILD!!!

Posted: August 21, 2017 in Uncategorized

There was a boy with big dreams.
He wanted to be an astronaut / rodeo clown/ superhero.
He turned a ratty old towel into a cape.
He was pretty sure he could fly.
He was pretty sure he could move mountains.
Impossible wasn’t an obstacle.
Play was his priority.
He ran through fields of wide open imagination.
He spent hours staring into the clouds, seeing dragons and castles and stock cars.
He played the kazoo and told corny jokes.

But, real life snuck in like a thief and stole the cape and the dreams of the boy.
Somehow, the child disappeared in the jungle of expectations.
His heart was stomped on, promises were broken.
His soul became like an empty tube of toothpaste as the imagination was squeezed out.
He was told to behave…get in line…conform…grow up…be strong…be a man.
He was told, by people he trusted, that his worth was found in his work.
So he worked.
He stopped staring at clouds,
The boy got left out in the cold.
The child was unwelcome in a grown up world full of grown up things.
He sadly became another missing child…
Lost in the pursuit of the perfect.

I remember the boy…
His mischievous memory speaks to my psyche like the picture of a dirty face on a milk carton box asking “Have you seen me?”

So I look for the boy in the man…
When I find him, I pray it’s not too late.
I will play a silly song on the kazoo.
I will throw him a ratty old towel.
I will tell him a corny joke and point at a cloud castle in the sky…
Hopefully a little nonsense will bring him back to his senses.
And, he will come out and play again.

 

Sweet and Sour.

Posted: August 17, 2017 in Uncategorized

Life is all about seasons.
We go through stuff.
We GROW through stuff.
And sometimes you just look back and you are thankful that you survived certain seasons.
We all have weird seasons of life.
This is the story of one of those seasons for me. I’m much older now and HOPEFULLY a little wiser.

I was in my early 20s, I was a junior college dropout still living at home. Yup, I was your classic overachiever!
I found myself working three different jobs at the same time.
It wasn’t because I was ambitious or hard working. It was because I wanted to meet girls.

There was a big…REALLY big youth rally coming up. It was called Summit ’88. I was a youth leader at my church.
I was also a lonely guy.
The only single girls at our church were either 6 or 76. That didn’t work for me. I heard about this denominational rally, I suspected that there were going to be girls there from exotic places like Iowa.
I had to go.
I did have several good and  spiritual reasons to go to the event.
But, to be completely forthright and honest, I was hoping to meet a female person.
I was excited about the event.
But, I was poor and the trip was expensive.

So…I got three jobs in an effort to make the money to go from Tulsa to Denver for the big New Year’s Eve event.

First, I worked nights at a pizza place. It was a New York style pizza place that I think was owned by the mafia. It was managed by a guy who had actually been to New York. His name was Tony…seriously, true story!
Tony had a big, very impressive mustache and a quick, not so impressive temper. He liked to cuss and occasionally threw pizza dough. His wife worked there too, she was a very angry person, but, I think she liked me, she even gave me a nickname: “butt-face”. I’m pretty sure that she meant it in a sweet way. Despite my warm, fuzzy bosses, My least favorite part of this job was the uniform. I had to wear a thin cotton T-shirt that was 3 sizes too small for me. It was embarrassing, my man boobs were constantly on display. I felt like an object. I would squeeze into the unforgiving shirt which made breathing a real challenge and try to serve up slices of pie. I apologize to the people who tried to eat while viewing me packed like a sausage into that too tight shirt.

I ALSO worked at a lovely little chain shoe store. I would spend hours trying to fit size 14 feet into size 9 high heeled shoes. It was a fragrant place to work.
It was there at that shoe store where, one fateful day, I gave myself a hickey…seriously, true story.
We had rubber suction cups with hooks that held up window signs.
For some truly idiotic reason I attached one of the suction cups to my forehead, where, surprise! surprise! It made suction. Then it wouldn’t come off. It took me 7 panicked minutes to get the suction cup unattached from my face. It left a mark…a perfectly round, bright red hickey! My first and only hickey, and I gave it to myself. My dad was so proud. I got home from work that night, he looked at me, took a long drag from his Pall-Mall and said “what did you do now idiot?!”
I told him it was a biking accident.
I don’t know if he believed me.

 

FINALLY, I also worked at a sunglass kiosk at the mall. It was right between Orange Julius and the Hot Dog on a Stick place. This job was supposed to be my ticket to finally being cool! I mean, c’mon!! I was AT THE MALL! I was selling over prized sunglasses. But, It’s really hard to be cool with a big red hickey on your forehead.

The thing about seasons is that they don’t last forever…
I worked 47 days straight and made the money to get to Colorado. Fortunately, the hickey had disappeared and I didn’t have to wear my pizza place shirt.
There WAS a girl there from Iowa and we came dangerously close to meeting (we have the picture to prove it).
But, we didn’t meet for another year and a half. AND, then we met in another exotic place, Virginia.
Diana was beautiful and kind and creative. She still is.
She became my wife. She still is.
We NOW live in Denver (NC).
We have shared sweet and sour seasons.
That’s how life works.
I have discovered that the crazy seasons and the weird stuff in my story are all connected with the sweet seasons and the very good stuff.
It’s all related.
Don’t despise the weird seasons.
Don’t get beat down by the hard times.
It’s all leading you somewhere…
probably somewhere exotic like Iowa!