a deliberate life

I’ve always love the idea of living deliberately. Admiring those who seem to find purpose in every action and in every moment. I used to always strive to carry myself with the same demeanor; attempting to foresee the full impact of my every move. Turns out I had it wrong, in fact I had absolutely no idea what it meant to live deliberately.

“You don’t know in December who you’ll be in July,” sings The Suitcase Junket. Almost a year ago now I turned my life in an unplanned direction. I had no idea who I was or what I would become. I was lost, and at the time I viewed my choice as a panic reaction. The uncertainty of it forced me out of my comfort zone and into a year that I would not trade for the world. And now looking back I can see that every moment, every risk, every bit of that uncertainty was necessary. It formed me into who I am.

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Deliberate. The word haunts me as something I lack. How could I claim to be living deliberately if I had absolutely no idea what I was even doing? The truth that I had to learn, and that I still am, is that “to live deliberately” is rarely synonymous with “to act with full knowledge.” A deliberate life is not one of knowing the full impact of your actions, rather one of confidently stepping forward while still pausing to see the ripples stretch out. In his book Dynamic Catholic, Matthew Kelly asks his readers to be bold but never rash. I begin to understand that just a little more, and take it to heart as I boldly look for who I’ll be next July.

Peace, Love, and Happiness…

–Joe

Break of Day

I have walked a thousand miles and I will walk a thousand more. Searching. Always searching. All to find the break of day. Possessing a passion for life that leads me on. Constantly seeking whatever should come next. On this path I often find obstructions. They are distractions and demons, wholly determined to bring me down. Time and again I painfully rise, Infinitely better for having lived the previous day. I’ve come to believe that the end point is but a small part for now. my concern becomes rising each day prepared to grow evermore.

I have walked these thousand miles. And I will walk a thousand more, all before the break of day.

Peace, Love, and Happiness…

–Joe

“Staffers” aka Crazy People

This summer I once again have the privilege of serving at a Boy Scout Camp here in the midwest. Of course, as the staff gathers we only have a vague idea of what the summer holds for us. And yet we cast ourselves headlong knowing that in less than two weeks our camp will be fully alive with activity.

We’re staff. We’ve given up our summers, time with our friends, and good paying jobs. We’ll push ourselves to the breaking point and then carry each other over the edge. We do it all for the camp we love. And facilitating a great program is never easy; we’ll be working in less than ideal conditions, and by the end the stress will break each of us in some way. But when we fall we always catch each other. Because as staffers, we’re so much more than coworkers, we’re family. And that’s why I know it’s going to be a great summer.

Peace, Love, and Happiness…

–Joe

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embracing uncertainty

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news flash. I don’t know what comes next. I know what I’d like to happen, and I know what direction I’m heading. But I really couldn’t tell you where I’ll end up. I am a dreamer lost in my mind. I’m a traveler on foot, I’ll get there even if it takes me awhile. Where I go from here is enticingly undecided. And if I’m being honest, I’m absolutely okay with that. my goal is to simply keep going. I will live adventurously embracing the uncertainty that is thrown my way.

Peace, Love, and Happiness…

–Joe

a minimalist at Heart

I would like to live Simply

and without remorse, holding nothing back

Finishing all that I begin

a deeply set desire within

one of fewer things and more experiences

disengaging all that doesn’t matter

Declutter, I cry, Declutter!

vowing rather to pursue dreams headlong

unfettered by anything behind


Peace, Love, and Happiness…

–Joe

a discourse in experiential learning

I’m graduating with an associate’s degree next week. I can’t begin to express how awesome that feels. And even though it means  I’m only a little over halfway to my bachelor’s, it’s still very important to me. It is a tangible accomplishment that can never be taken away.

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But what does it really mean? Physically it is a piece of paper that declares my successful completion of enough credit hours in the requisite categories. But it is really much more than that. It’s laughing in the hallways with my Phi Theta Kappa friends. It’s countless hours spent commuting. It’s the anxiety of balancing work and school. It’s the bond I formed with classmates while suffering through the lectures of a terrible instructor. It will forever be an experience that means more to me than what I learned in my classes. My perspective is based on more than the credentials, and so society will always put a different meaning to my degree than I do.

I’m a strong proponent of experiential learning. I hold faithfully to the notion that many concepts cannot be taught in a classroom. Wisdom is decidedly different than knowledge. As a society we put a great emphasis on learning through exposure, especially with increasing numbers of college graduates. In our obsession of experiencing things, we’ve forgotten their value. Too often we pursue experience solely for the sake of building a resume. We must return to accomplishing tasks with the intention of living in those moments.

So yeah, I’m excited to receive my degree. Excited because it marks what I’ve been living the past two years. Though I’m far more interested in what I will experience moving forward.

Peace, Love, and Happiness…

–Joe

On being Wonderous

“Our faith is not an idea but an encounter with the living God who is our Father. Who in his Son Jesus Christ has assumed human nature, who unites us to the Holy Spirit and who in all this, remains the one and only God.” –Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

Conformity plagues our world, and pulls us down. We are so concerned with appearances and trying to match our lives to that of modern society that we become oblivious. This happens far too often, and I suggest that by trying to be relevant we are seeking to fill the wrong emptiness in ourselves. You see, what we describe as modern society is nothing more than an ever-changing speck of time. Perhaps instead what we should question is whether or not something or someone helps us to become an absolutely authentic version of ourselves? Does it help us encounter the living God? You see, we don’t need relevant people. No, what we need is real people. People who love life, who see beauty everywhere, and who seek the truth in all aspects of life.

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I have a friend who was studying abroad in Europe. After two weeks or so she had taken the opportunity to explore the city where she was living. Awestruck she struggled to find the right words to describe the city to me. Though there was something she said that really stays with me. Her narration was that “the streets wind everywhere, and all the doors are so colourful. It’s kinda wonderful.” A beautifully poetic view of one’s surroundings, but it hit me for another reason. She was seeing the city through wondrous eyes, through the eyes of a child. In those moments it didn’t matter that she could get lost, it didn’t matter that she wasn’t fluent in the language, and it certainly didn’t matter what people thought of her amusement at the colour of doors. Rather she found beauty, and in it joy. She was in love with life in that moment. Not pretending to be someone else or to be relevant for others. Entirely herself. She was more than a token piece of society.


Similarly, neither is our faith a social concept. It is not relevant to modern society. Much like a “real” person, the authenticity of our faith elevates it above the shallowness of this world. It is more than an idea that can be declared outdated, irrelevant, or non-feasible. It is a living, breathing relationship. “An encounter with the living God” as Pope Benny so aptly wrote. The only relevance worthy of note is that which strengthens our communion with God our Father. To be who we really are we must focus on that. So don’t take yourself so seriously. Be like a child. Remain wondrous at His presence, and find joy in everything that draws you towards Him.


Peace, Love, and Happiness…
–Joe

 

Each moment

Think about yesterday. What do you remember? I remember pouring my coffee; I remember jamming out to my favorite song; I remember speaking to that one awful customer that nobody really wants to deal with. What I don’t remember is yesterday as one whole memory, rather yesterday is a slightly disjointed sequence of smaller memories. Because we don’t remember entire experiences, just moments within them.

I went and saw the movie Deadpool with a couple friends a few weeks ago. I’ll admit it was probably one of the best comic book to movie adaptations I’ve ever seen. Though it was morally offensive so I’m not actually going to suggest you watch it. Towards the end of the movie a member of the X-Men by the name of Colossus tries to instill in Deadpool (and the movie) with just a hint of morality. Colossus explains that to be a super hero is not a constant job. It’s not something you do 24/7 365 for your entire life. He says that a person only has 4 or 5 opportunities in their life to prove who they really are. And it’s what they do in these moments that determines whether or not you are a hero.

Matthew Kelly once said that the saints did not live holy lives. The saints became saints by living holy moments. They chose to make the most of the moments that presented themselves. We can all apply this to our entire lives. We need to recognize the power within each moment and ask ourselves, am I making the most of the opportunities that present themselves?

Peace, Love, and Happiness…

–Joe

Hello old Friend

Hello old friend, did you miss me?

It has been so long, I’d forgotten your face.

Here now I find turmoil burning in my soul

So come, let us dance in the moonlight!

we’ll forget former woes and look ahead.

Reveling through the night

meeting as if for the first time

and as the sun rises

we shall see each other in a new light.

Perhaps this is the last we shall meet

though I truly doubt that

I know that we are inseparable

we share a future and a past

our fates are intertwined.

again and again my heart replies,

Hello old friend, oh how I missed you…


Peace, Love, and Happiness…

–Joe

Speak now

I’m trapped within my own humanity. Therefore every experience is personal. It’s true. Though we all try to distance ourselves from our surroundings the thought comes lingering back. I’m here, I exist, I must engage. Far too often we remain silent, a fly on the wall simply watching. What if everyone of us chose to take the next step? Let’s learn to communicate just a little bit more. Share the joy of the good times, and embrace the support through the rough times. We are social creatures, we need this. I tell myself that maybe if I learn to do this someone will see a light. They might just see a way to rise out of the muck of this life. Maybe they’ll see that I’m just like them. That I have joys and sorrows, passions and struggles. That I most always have butterflies in my stomach and that I still find courage to say what I do. If I can inspire but one person and show them why they are meaningful, it will all have been worth it. We are capable of doing so much with our short lives. So I encourage you, Be more.

Peace, Love, and Happiness…

–Joe