beautiful chaos

chaossuntzu

Last night at 11:53pm I glanced at the clock and had one of those moments that are hard to explain. Maybe it’s existentialism, or maybe it’s sleep deprivation. Regardless, at 11:53pm last night I had to stop and ask, “what in the world am I doing with myself?!” Let’s paint the picture. I’m sitting on the edge of a futon in my small, dimly-lit bedroom. Next to me is a cast aside textbook that was explaining the evolution of the correctional system from the Code Hammurabi onward. In the background some French pop artist is singing extremely fast about love an death or something. I was sitting there trying, somewhat unsuccessfully, to write a blog post. my laptop was open in front of me and I had several tabs running. One was a Wikipedia article on Andrew Sullivan. Another was an op-ed on why too much democracy creates a breeding ground for tyranny. On Youtube there was a clip from the movie Dead Poet’s Society. And the finally a poem from the 17th century telling virgins what to do with their time. And I know, none of that is overtly important. my illustration is to show you the chaos of that moment. The clock read 11:55pm before I realized what had caused me pause. The beautifully chaotic moments that I regularly allow into the inner sanctum of my life, the one’s that I honestly enjoy, are accurate visualizations of my mind. my hope in sharing this with you is that maybe you’ll understand me a bit more. maybe you’ll understand that when I write excitedly in a ranting tone it’s spurred on  by a false urgency of so many thoughts. And maybe if you’re someone I interact with in my life and you ever encounter me silent know that it’s not because I have nothing to say. Rather it’s because I see a dozen thought processes spiraling out and I can’t seem to pick the correct one fast enough. I am constantly searching for a single thread amongst the chaos. I don’t always find it, but every day I continue the search.

Peace, Love, and Happiness…

–Joe

chaos

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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 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

Tremble & Trust

This is me.

The tremble in my voice.

The shake in my hand.

This is everything.

*

This is work,

my classes,

my commitments,

my prayers,

my friendships,

my dreams,

All of it.

*

This is a million thoughts

unable to escape.

This is who I am,

my everything.

And if I could,

I’d write it all for you.

I’d trust you with it all…


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

 

2am

It’s 2am and I can’t sleep

the churning of thoughts never does

they call it art

it feels like something far more

I crave the silence of the night

But can Silence be trusted?

so like everything else,

it is drowned out by the swaying sound of music.

and the words are pounded into my notebook

their damage already done

It’s 2am and I can’t sleep


Peace, Love, and Happiness…

–Joe

moments in Time

I feel the wheels spin violently. I let off the pedal but it’s too late, my little car breaks loose and goes careening towards the ditch. I see the culvert loom in front of me and try to not tense up though I struggle to produce even one clear thought.

Bam!… Boom! Oh God, a fence.

The car slides to a stop, I throw it in park, unclip my seatbelt, and take off running. I make it more than ten feet before my mind catches up. Finally years of training kick in and I’m able to control my adrenaline forcing my body to slow down and not flee.

It’s funny how our perception of time can become skewed. These moments felt like a lifetime. Though in retrospect I realize that it was a mere matter of seconds. Time does not change, but in moments like this we do. So I ask you, what will you do with your beautiful allotment of time?

Peace, Love, and Happiness…

–Joe

Context

Merry Christmas!

I write these words out, and you can only assume that I mean them. But have you noticed the power words have when spoken? When you hear someone say something you can know fairly well what they mean.

I’m the kind of guy who typically says merry Christmas this time of year, but I’m not offended if you say something else. “Blessed Advent,” “Happy Hannukah,” “Joyous Kwanzaa,” seasons greetings,” “Happy Holidays,” etc., etc. Here’s the point, what you say does not matter as much as what you mean.

As I was leaving a small store earlier today the gal chimed after me “Happy Holidays” I automatically replied my thanks and left, it felt hollow. Similarly I had the college instructor who told us to have a great weekend; but it was empty, acting only as a dismissal. Then there was my classmate who, after talking in the hallway for five minutes or so, saw the time and had to go. As she rushed off she told me to have a great day, and I couldn’t help but smile. Somehow you can tell when someone genuinely means it like she did. I don’t know how to explain it any better, and I’m not sure where I’m going with this. I guess just next time you interact with another human being, be genuine. Don’t pretend. Those around you can tell, and will appreciate it. Gaudate!

Peace, Love, and Happiness…

–Joe

cool-happy-holidays-greeting-card

Speaking of Procrastination

an empty list

an empty list

So I was sitting in class a few weeks ago and had a brilliant idea for a quick blog post. That was when I jotted down what you see above. But of course I realized that I should probably pay attention to what my instructor was saying. Hilariously enough I promptly forgot about this little post buried a few pages deep in my notes. That is until I was sitting at my desk the other night writing and talking to my brother. And when I found my unfinished list we just laughed. In reality #1 on that list probably would have been “never, ever procrastinate.” It might just be me, but I find humor in these musings of life.

It reminded me of when I was almost finished with the paperwork for Eagle Scout. There was a question that asked, what have you learned form providing leadership? My answer,

Well. Procrastination is a bad thing. And the devil is in the details.

I still vividly remember my advisor nodding and saying “good” when he read that. I guess it’s a lesson that I’m still learning. And I’m okay with that. What is a lesson that you have to learn again and again? Also comment below what should be in the rules of taking college classes.

Peace, Love, and Happiness…

–Joe

Unknown Beasts + Coping with Reality

fear-is-a-liar

Fear has the ability to cripple the best of us. It takes our surroundings and twists them into unknown beasts. And individually we are the only person capable of fighting our beasts. To face a fear is to go against oneself, and the natural desire to survive. I constantly strive to control my fears, to utilize them to better myself.

I am a high ropes course instructor. So I am no stranger to fear, both my own and that of others. There is nothing quite like being thirty-five feet in the air standing on only a quarter inch of steel cable. In those moments you come face to face with your own mortality. I know that sounds dramatic, but that is the reality of what adrenaline and fear can do to you. It’s simply not natural. And despite proven knowledge that the equipment I use and the people I work with are both sufficient to keep me safe it does not persuade the animal in me.

Fear throws out the rational. Therefore logic can not diffuse it. So what are we to do about it? As staff at a challenge course, we do not encourage the elimination nor the ignorance of fear. The reason for this is that we know fear comes from real danger, it is the human animal trying to keep the body alive. Our responsibility as reasonable beings is twofold, first, do not let our mind blow fear out of proportion (it can easily dictate our actions), and secondly, do not let our ego brush off the caution that fear inspires. When we encounter fear our body creates adrenaline, and through practice we can learn to marry the rush of adrenaline with the caution of fear. These together with our will allow us to safely accomplish tasks that we never thought possible.

Peace, Love, and Happiness…

–Joe

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Where I go to meet fear…

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a better perspective on how high up I am.