Stick it out

I think everyone should spend an entire day with someone, maybe someone you’re not too familiar with. Someone that you don’t like. Someone that you try so hard to understand, but you don’t think you’ll ever be able to relate to them. I know you’re thinking, that’s insane. I would never do that to myself, I would much rather avoid that in the grand scheme of my life. There in lies the problem with our generation and that type of thinking in general. We refuse to get to know people, we refuse to even try to get to know people. An entire day is a long time to be with someone, hell it’s a long time to be with yourself. A lot happens in a day, emotions come and go. Joy and pain can be shared throughout an entire day. Most people will tell you “not a lot happens in  day”. Which technically their right, not a lot happens in day, on the outside.

Working at Starbucks, I deal with a vast amount of people coming in and out about their daily routines. Some of the people I like and some of them, I do not. Now the reason I don’t like some of them are valid, well at least to me. The reason I don’t like others are not so valid. In simple terms, I’m just being a dick. I like to think of myself as a people person, I understand people, I relate to people, I love people. The reality is that’s not true all of the time. Much like other people, I myself can be pretty selfish, surprise right? I never feel more ashamed in my life than when I “pre-judge” someone and later on end becoming friends with that person. I’m quick to pull the trigger on someone, quick to immediately think I know everything about someone off of one interaction. Ridiculous right? We do it all the time though, everyday. We will never grow as people, let alone a society if this way of thinking gets passed around.

So, back to spending the day with someone. Have you bought into yet? No? That’s okay, it’s not going to be easy. I know it wasn’t for me, I would much rather just be distrusting of people and drop them off at the dime of a hat if they don’t meet my “standards” of friendship or loyalty. Things will get better though when you spend the day with someone, you get to see different sides of them. Some you’ll like, some you’ll downright hate. Hey, no one ever said people were pretty. God knows you’re not. Over the years I’ve lived with different roommates, some were fun and some were not. Nevertheless, sometimes I would be really amazed at how open and vulnerable people will be when you’re around them for a long enough time. I don’t believe people have “good” or “bad sides” to them. I believe people at heart and by our very nature are good and loving human beings. Stop being naive and young Michael, I know that’s what you’re saying. Maybe, but I’m not ready to give up on people yet.

I think the world and life beats us down and after a while we slowly start to care less and less about happiness, we just care about making it another day. Life is brutal and unforgiving, I’ve had some pretty awful stuff happen to me. It’s hard to have hope or to stay happy, even as I write this I find I’m struggling to keep my joy. I have no reason to be sad or upset about anything, everything in my life is going great! Yet, I know life. I understand that at any minute it can all come crashing down on me without any warning. What a twisted and cynical way to live! I guess it’s the reason I chose to do stand up comedy ( I joke, I joke). You can’t live like that, I mean you can, but honestly who wants to. I guess the point I’m trying to get to after all this rambling and emotional vomiting on this post is, life is hard, for everyone, not just you. So don’t forget that when you’re around other people. Give them a chance, you never know. It could be the best thing that ever happened to you, or the worst ;).

Man in the mirror

We live in a very weird time, I think now more than ever in human history people are forced to look at themselves all the time. In one form or another, whether that means actually looking at themselves via mirror, pictures or video. We look at ourselves all the time, Ill never forget the first time I sat down to edit a video I was in, to actually see myself on camera. What a weird and horrific experience that was. Up until then I really had no idea what i looked like on video, how different it seemed to me. I felt like I was watching a complete stranger, do any of us actually know what we look or sound like everyday to other people? That moment was a very pivotal moment in my life, it changed my entire outlook on myself. What did I look like when I was angry? When I was jealous or envious of someone else? What did I look like when I laughed? When I lied?

One of my favorite scriptures is in the book of proverbs, it goes like this “Laughter can conceal a heavy heart, but when the laughter ends, the grief remains.” How I can relate to that so well. I’ve always been the “comedian” of whatever group I find myself in, which I dont mind since I love making people laugh. What a lie though, I always kept things lighthearted. Not because that’s how I was feeling in the moment, but out of a fear that I would be found out. That people would find out that below the laughter, that I was person. A person whose felt pain, sorrow and loss. A person who could connect with you on more then just being funny. That I was indeed just that. A Person.

Why would anyone want to talk to me if they knew who I really was? If they knew the things that I had been through. They wouldn’t talk to me, they wouldn’t understand me. So I joked and I laughed. Once the laughter ended though, that grief was still with me. I couldn’t let it show though, that would scare people away. There was a reoccurring pattern in my life, whenever I allowed someone in, someone to see who I really was. They would say the same thing “I never knew you were like this, I always thought of you as the funny guy.” That always broke my heart, this entire time they just looked at me as this “funny” guy. Their was so much more to me as a person, but i wouldn’t let it slip. I wouldn’t let the secret out. It was much better to look the other way than to look at myself in the mirror.

Then a funny thing happened, I let it go. I showed myself for who I actually was. Not to just a couple people, but to everyone. You know what happened? They related to me, they related to this other side of me. They understood me. Not just this guy who was funny and light hearted, but to the other person. The broken one, the one who was hurt and vulnerable. I was able to see another side of people, they opened up to me. Everyone knows that any good relationship requires being vulnerable, what a terrifying thought. There’s something so beautiful and tragic about human vulnerability and frailty. We think of vulnerability as a weakness, as something we should hide and never talk about. The thing is, that’s what connects us as people.

That somehow on this planet overflowing with billions of different human beings, that somehow deep down in the center of it all, we connect to each other. We understand each other, on a deep level that were scared to admit. You just have to be willing to let go, to open up first. You may get hurt, you may end up regretting it. At least you did it, dont hide from the person you really are. Embrace it, the good, the bad and the ugly. Just know that everyone out there is going through the same things you are or much worse. Sometimes the thing people need during the hard seasons of their life is for a friend to just be open and vulnerable with them.

Paralyzed

I’m afraid of a lot of things. Things that most people are afraid of, spiders, rejection, death and being alone. The one thing that terrifies me the most is being paralyzed. The idea of never being able to walk or run again absolutely sends chills down my spine. The funny thing is, I find myself in life sometimes being paralyzed, maybe not in a physical sense. In a relational or emotional sense, I find myself time after time in my life being absolutely paralyzed by things, whether its addictions or friendships dragging me down. On the outside I’m walking around like a free man, but on the inside I feel as if im in a wheelchair staring at a staircase wondering how the hell I’m going to get up it.

One of my favorite movies so far this summer has X-men: Days of future past, one of my favorite things about the movie is the inner struggle we see professor Xavier face. Don’t get me wrong the fight scenes and anything with wolverine are my pretty much the best thing to ever happen, that said the inner struggle professor Xavier faced really hit home for me. Professor X is actually paralyzed, but thanks to a “miracle drug” it gives him the ability to walk. The only catch is the drug also takes away his psychic abilities, so he’s sill paralyzed in a sense. Sure he can walk around and throw a Frisbee with the other x-men but now he no longer has the power that makes him the most powerful mutant in the world.

Isn’t it funny how as people we tend to do the same things to ourselves? In order to make ourselves feel better or validated we take something or do something to “fit in” and in the end were still paralyzed. Were still unable to become the people we were meant to be, he sacrificed his gift to gain something that he thought was going to help him but in the end it was only hindering him. He was scared of his power, his power is what got him paralyzed in the first place. The one thing in life were gifted at usually ends up getting us hurt so we just quit and turn to the thing that we think will make us strong or funny or whatever it is you think will help you.

In the end though, he had to make a choice. In order to save the world, save his friends and get out of his depression he had to let it go (*cough* frozen). He had to stop taking the drug, he had to come face to face with the reality of his situation. Sure he was paralyzed, his days of snowboarding or surfing were over. But he had something so much more powerful, his psychic abilities would end up taking him places that he never thought possible, he would go on to create the x-men and become the most powerful mutant in the world.

Now I know what you’re thinking, Mike why the hell are you telling me about this fictional character, I’m telling you about him because he’s really not that fictional. We see people like that everyday, people who hold onto something so bad, because they think its whats going to make their life better. There so gifted in something, but because they were hurt in the past they refuse to every try it again. I refuse to allow myself to become paralyzed by anything in my life. Sure I’m afraid of becoming physically paralyzed, but I would much rather have to take the wheelchair ramp up to the Oscars than to walk up the stairs to a dead-end job.

 

Time is ticking

Time is a funny thing, on the days you want more of it. It seems to slip by, on the days you wish it went by faster, it seems to drag along. Time only has one rule, it moves forward. It can never go back, it never stops. It just keeps moving forward. I feel like we can all learn a lot from time. I know there have been times in my life that I wish I could go back, I could change it all, do it all over again. There were times in my life that I wish I could have just stopped everything, stopped working, stopped going to school, stopped talking, stopped thinking. I felt like there wasn’t enough time to process everything. Time only has one rule, it moves forward.

In Ecclesiastes 3:2-4 king Solomon writes, A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest.A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance. He understood time, he understood how precious it is and how there is a time for everything. Once you understand time never changes, you’ll understand that time is not the problem in our life. It’s how we use the little time that we have. When tragedy or disaster strikes you, how will you react? Will you try to go back and figure out where it went wrong? Will you try to stop everything around you so you can have a moment to breathe? Time only has one rule, it moves forward.

One of my favorite movies is speed, if you don’t know what that movie is you’re to young to be reading this blog. In the movie keanu reeves character has to make sure the bus doesn’t go under sixty miles per hour or else it will explode. That’s not the biggest problem he has, the bus will run out of gas eventually. Have you ever felt like that? Life is going fast than you can handle and its only a matter of time before you run out of gas. I joined an internship program with my church back in February. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, I figured I wasn’t doing anything else with my life, why not? I have all the time in the world. Time only has on rule, it moves forward.

Little did I know how much this internship would challenge me, little did I realize how much growing up I actually had to do. Little did I know how fast it was going to go and how little time I had. Now that the internship is coming to a close, it’s made me appreciate time in a way I never have before. It’s made me realize you can put your life on hold for years if you want to, but that’s not actually the reality. When you decide to finally accept the rule of time, it comes catching back up to you, with a vengeance. I’ve been forced to grow up these past three months, and im sure that it’s not going to get any easier from here. At least I know one thing now, I know the rule of time. I understand it and I’ve accepted it. Time only has one rule, it moves forward.

 

 

 

Everything is backwards

The one thing I miss most during the winter season is the sun, I love the sun. I love the energy it gives off, I love the way it makes everything shine bright, I love the heat against my skin. Yet during the winter it feels so far away from me, so unreachable. You know whats hilarious? The sun is actually closer to earth during the winter season than it is in the summer. Weird right? If you don’t believe me, just Google it (I did!). Doesn’t  it sometimes feel like when God is far away from us, he’s actually closer to us than we think.

I recently thought everything in my life was going great, everything seemed to be working out the way wanted it to. That was the problem though, It’s not about my way. All these things I viewed as “blessings” in my life were actually distractions in my life. If you’ve ever stared at the sun for even a moment, you have this moment when you look away of blurriness an those little white floaty things everywhere.  That’s how I felt, all of sudden these “blessings” were being taken away and I didn’t have any clarity in it.  Everywhere I looked was blurry, I felt very far away.

The past few weekends have been nightmarish for me, I felt so cold (It wasn’t the weather!) , I felt like giving up on everything, I had this idea of where my life is headed and everything in front of me was the complete opposite. I love the story of Jesus healing the blind man by spitting on him (gross) but never the less a very truthful story. God doesn’t operate the way we do, His thoughts are not our thoughts. In the moment when everything was falling apart around me, I couldn’t understand it. I’m sure when Jesus initially spit on the man, he didn’t realize what was about to happen next.

Everything God does is the complete opposite of our understanding, It’s not about understanding our ways. It’s about truly understanding who God is, so when this moments come in our life, when we feel like someone has spit in our face to blind us, it’s actually so we can see. Its to remember that everything God does is backwards.

The never ending war

As long as man has been around, war has always followed. Religion, pride, or greed, those are just some of the reasons. Wars are bloody,brutal and merciless. Most people wont ever have the experience of being in a war, they’ll never know the feeling of fighting another human being to the death. What it’s like to be in the trenches watching your friends and allies drop like flies. Don’t confuse yourself though, there is a war happening that your apart of everyday. You’re at war, a war you’ll fight everyday until you die. A war with yourself.

You wake up in the trenches every morning, you have to drag yourself out. Dodge the bullets of insecurity, avoid the landmines of self-defeat. You have to make the choice to get up everyday and drag yourself thru the trenches. No one else is going to do it for you, look to the left and the right of you and you’ll see your brother and sisters in arms fighting their way thru the trenches as well. Don’t lose heart though, some make it to the other side and overtake the fort. Some.

Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you’ll magically make it to the other side, you wont. You see people everyday who haven’t made it to the other side and who never will. I was and still am at war with myself everyday, the only difference is now I’m aware of it. Not sure if that makes it any better, but its a start. As I finish the rest of this blog, I tell you in all honesty that I have to remind myself of this everyday. Mood swings plague my days, Depression flies over my head, Failure stabs me in the back.

I am a constant reminder of my failures, of my faults. I’ve come to far to let go. Bullet wounds can be healed, infected limbs can be amputated. Everyday you wake up is a victory, if your upset because your life isn’t where you would like it to be, Rejoice. That means you have ambitions. No one ever woke you up one day and said “Be happy! Life is easy, success will happen overnight!”. If someone ever said that, they lied. Drag yourself across the trenches, no matter what. Inch by inch, year by year. Whatever it takes, you’ll make it there. Bruised, bloody and weak. You’ll overthrow the fort.

A Strange New World

As I laid my head to rest last night, only then did I realize what I was getting myself into. Who is this person I’m becoming? If you’re a little bit lost about what I’m talking about don’t worry, I’ll inform you. I just launched my own kick starter campaign. It’s a new age “Crowd Funding” website. In simple terms, if people like you enough or believe in you enough. They give you money to help you do whatever project you want to do. To me, it’s basically jumping on top of a table in a busy restaurant and screaming ” What do you think of me! Am I good enough?!” This is the crazy person I’m becoming. I was entering a strange new world and I absolutely loved it.

I’ve dreamed of being a part of the Hollywood dream since i was eleven years old. I wanted to be an actor! I wanted to be a writer! I wanted to be a director! I want it all. I knew how i would do it to, I would move to Los Angeles, become a well-known actor. Then people would notice me, maybe work on my writing skills and after about three years or so. Then move on to become a director. A triple threat, that’s what people would think about me. I tried to move to Los Angeles three years ago. I didn’t even make it out of the state. My grandma use to say “When you make plans, God laughs.” Well if that’s true, his sides must be hurting by now.

Is the person who throws away a cushy job for their passion a fool? Is the man who looks at the love of his life and says he wants no one else an idiot? I Sold everything, I quit my job to move to Los Angeles. I ended back at my parents house, alone, scared and hopeless.  I wasn’t a triple threat, I was a slave who thought he could break his chains and gain freedom. They say death is the greatest threat of mankind, I think complacency is. I didn’t want a normal life, I didn’t want a nine to five job. I want people to wonder why I’m screaming in the middle of room and wonder what it feels like.

I’ve made a fool of myself countless times, I’ve screamed in the middle of the room, I’ve failed so many times. I hope people think im crazy, God knows I don’t want to be boring. As I laid my head to rest last night, the person I wanted to become,  he already lives inside of me. This crazy “thing” im getting myself into. It’s not the first time it’s happened and it wont be the last. I may not have made it to Los Angles,  but that’s okay. I learned something much more important. I am the guy on the table, I would walk to the ledge of the cliff just to see if I had the courage. I may or may not raise this money, even if I don’t it doesn’t matter. I just need to that I was crazy enough to do it.

The New Mountain

I’ve always wondered what its like to climb a mountain, with a world where everything has pretty much been explored. I wonder where the adventure is, where are the adventurers of our time? The lewis and Clarks. If I’ve never been somewhere i can just google map it, or watch a documentary about it. What does the man who conquers the mountain think about when he’s on top. Maybe he thinks about the climb down, maybe he thinks he should have prepared better for the venture. He could think all those things, but i don’t think that’s what’s on his mind. I believe the true adventurers only have one thing on their mind when they climb to the top of the mountain.  He only thinks about the next mountain he’s going to climb.

As I find myself preparing for some new challenges coming my way, I realize I keep trying to go back to my old mountains.  Maybe it’s because I’m comfortable there, its terrain I’ve already explored. It provides a struggle, but it’s not a true challenge. I don’t believe I’m the only person who does that, how many people do we know who keep going back to that ex-boyfriend, that addiction that’s bringing them down, there depression. Just like any storm in life, they come and they go. It’s not permanent, it’s not set in stone. It just a moment of your life. It may seem like you’ve been there forever, but I promise you. You overcame that problem a long time ago. Stop climbing back down the mountain and look ahead to the new one.

I struggled with my weight for a long time, up and down, up and down. I decided one day that i had enough of it. I wanted to feel good about myself, to like the man i saw in the mirror. So I started working out,eating healthy, the usual suspects of trying to lose weight. I did it, I lost all that weight and it felt great. As I look in the mirror today I still see the same man who overcame that mountain. Eating healthy, working out, Those are daily routines to me now. Sometimes its a struggle, but it’s never a challenge. I don’t think about my weight anymore because I climbed that mountain, I conquered it. Flag waving and all. I turned my attention to the next mountain instead of looking down.

Human beings strive to be challenged, i know sometimes it doesn’t seem like it. History tells us a different story, we see people who explored new land and claimed it as their own. They could have stopped there, no one would have blamed them. They chose to keep moving on, bask in your victory for a moment. But there’s always another challenge out there for you to overcome. Whenever I start a new video game I always start the difficulty on hard. I know in doing this im going to die a lot, get frustrated, hell sometimes ill feel like switching back to normal. I don’t want to settle for just getting by, I want to die sometimes, I want to get frustrated sometimes, I want to be pushed to my limits. It’s in those moments when you realize the only limits you have are the ones you put on yourself

When you wake up in the morning, set the difficulty to hard, look ahead to that new mountain in your life. Sure setting it easy is a guaranteed win every time. You lose a part of you every time you do that. Don’t set the bars low, don’t be scared to break a sweat, failing is an inevitable part of life. So why not fail at things you actually want to do. Take risks, apply for that new position, ask that person out. I don’t want to be on my deathbed telling my children about the one mountain I kept climbing up and down. I want to tell them about the different challenges each mountain presented to me. I want to tell them how I conquered it, how it kept me up late at night, the sweat and blood that dripped down my face. I want them to know that I made it to the top of each one, broken, bruised and sore. I want them to know that I never looked back down.

It wasn’t meant for you

I like many others do not like looking at photos of my self, can’t stand it. Don’t even get me started on videos. I have this perception of myself when i walk outside my house. I believe I look confident, strong, ready and willing to take on the world. But that’s not the person I see in those pictures, I see a weird, goofy looking image of myself. When I hear my voice on video, I think who the hell is that? Do i really sound that bad? When I inform other people of my self inquires they say the usual things “it’s all in your head”. “you look fine” ,”you sound fine”. That’s when I realized something, My voice, my looks, my smile, my laugh. Those things, they weren’t meant for me. They were meant for everyone else.

No matter who you are we have all at some point struggled with insecurity. Am i not good enough? i could never do those things that other people can do. I’ll never look that good. But what if i told you that you can do those things. That you do look “fine” in those photos, your voice doesn’t sound weird to anyone else. Human beings are first person creatures for a reason, were meant to take in everything and everyone else, not to constantly be checking ourselves out.

All those different personalities you surround yourself with on a daily basis, all those awesome friends of yours with their quirks and those faces they make. Your one of those people to someone, you have a smile that cheers somebody up You have a laugh that people love to hear, you have a face that someone loves to see. Don’t be discouraged when you don’t like the way your picture came out, don’t feel insecure if you think your voice sounds weird. Everything about is exactly how it should be.

I’ve gotten over having to look at myself on camera, because I understand something now. Everything about me wasn’t made for me. So when those moments of insecurity come over you, don’t worry about it. You may never be able to look at a picture of yourself and say “wow, I love the way I look”. but that’s okay, because it was never meant for you

Coming Down To Earth

Like most of the people in America  this past weekend, I saw Gravity. It was easily one the most intense, gripping and suspenseful movie I’ve seen this year, I of course saw it on the IMAX. As I walked out of the movie theater I couldn’t help but think of one thing. Yes, it was a great movie, yes it had me on the edge of my seat. But what really sold me about the movie was the experience. The IMAX experience is amazing, the sound, the 3D. It was a fantastic experience, I know that if I were to watch gravity on dvd. I would enjoy it, but it just wouldn’t be the same experience.

At the age of twenty-three I’ve come to that stage in my life where hanging out with my “parents” is no longer an uncool thing to do, in fact I enjoy it. My parents are relatively young for their age, Someday though they wont be the same age and to be quite honest, they wont be the same people. Whether it’s for better or worst, only time will tell.  My experience with them twenty years from now wont be the same that it is now. Enjoy these moments of your life now, you may be able to do them  later on. It just wont be the same, Hang out with your family, let go of that bitterness you have against someone. Life’s to short to pass by all the experiences you could have with people over something useless.

I lost my brother when I was eleven years old, We got into our fair share of fights in that short amount of time, but i always spent as much time with him as possible. Those are experiences that i will never forget. I’m not saying something awful is going to happen to someone you know, I’m just trying to tell you that life isn’t forever and neither are any of day-to-day scenarios. Different seasons come and go thru our life, some people stay for the long run and some people move on to  different seasons of their life.

Gravity will be in the IMAX for about another three weeks, then it will be gone. I plan on seeing it again this upcoming Sunday, it sounds crazy I know. Save your money, wait for it on dvd, download it. I could do all of those things, but it wont be the same experience, the way I felt watching it, how it captured me, the overpowering sound effects. I can only get that experience for a limited time and then it will be gone. Be with the people you care about, call them even if they don’t call you,  buy them dinner, Give them an experience they’ll never forget.