Archive for January, 2014

Better Together

1186784_10152163258173685_948272930_nI felt utterly ridiculous when I found myself captivated by a young man on American Idol several years ago.  It wasn’t so much his talent as it was the way he talked about his friends with so much love, enthusiasm and gratitude.  He credited them with nurturing his creativity and inspiring him as an artist.  The young man was Blake Lewis, the beatboxer, and his friends included stand-up comedians and an aspiring actress, creative souls all.

I watched as they joyously posted videos of Blake’s journey; the drives from Bothell, Washington to Hollywood, videoed and set to music.  The playful rambles around Hollywood.  All of it.  They were riding Blake’s 15-minutes of fame, together and all out.  I was charmed by way they celebrated their successes together.  It seemed obvious to me that they were better together and it was a beautiful example of community within pop-culture.

Again, it wasn’t the music that inspired me.  It was the friendships, the community of artistic souls working together and making each other better.

Their example propelled me into a new phase of life.  I went online, originally to follow their journey, and found myself encountering artists of every ilk: writers, musicians and comedians; and I was hugely inspired as an artist.  I began to write better than I had before.  I became inspired by the community I developed online.  We made each other better.

My life was changed by the example of Blake Lewis and friends.  I have no idea where they are now.  My interest waned and disappeared as I joyfully began my own journey into artistry and community.

That was six years ago or so and I have since surrounded myself with people who encourage and inspire me and are likewise encouraged and inspired by me.  It’s a beautiful thing.

It’s important that we surround ourselves with people who make us better.  If you don’t have that in your life, I encourage you to seek it.  Find people who are passionate about the things you care about, people who encourage and inspire you.  It will change your life for the better.

Football, Fairytales and Everlasting Love

Some people get addicted to the hormonal high that comes with new attraction; the nervousness and excitement.  I asked someone recently what it was like moving from one relationship to the next and he replied that it was exciting.  I nodded and bit my lip.  Exciting.  Well, that wasn’t going to last.  And sure enough, in no time at all he had added someone newer on top of the someone new.  He had lots of justifications for it but I truly believe it was boredom more than anything and a desire for sex without strings.  And it appears to me that he’s still “hunting”.

He’s not the only one.  I see people doing it a lot.  Women do it as frequently as men.  They get addicted to the fairytale feeling that comes before he burps and farts and collapses on the couch to watch football for several hours during which he only yells and grunts.

The excitement and illusion of fairytale perfection aren’t permanent.  As grown men and women one would think we’d get that but so many of us do not, so we serially jump into new relationships trying to capture the first blush of romance over and over again all the while bemoaning the lack of worthy men and women.  The loneliness of not having found “the one”.

I’m pragmatic by nature.  I always have been.  I never thought of myself as a princess and I never dreamed of a Prince Charming.  Maybe it was the example of my parents.  They had a true love.  It was gritty and real and romantic and committed.  When my mom became ill, my dad cared for her.  People asked him why he didn’t put her in a home and he would always respond with a blank look, as if he suddenly didn’t understand English.  He loved her.

But most people don’t seem to understand the nature of lasting love.  That it sticks through boredom and drama.  That it lasts during sickness and health, times of prosperity and want.  Ah, I seem to be reciting traditional wedding vows.  I didn’t do so intentionally.  I’m discovering what I want to say as I say it.

The thing is, if you want lasting love you have to be willing to let go of the flutter of excitement and the fairytale.  You can build passion and it’s better than excitement any day of the week, in my opinion.  You can build fantastic sex.  It usually gets better over time, not boring, not worse.  Better.  You learn to connect and trust and that’s a very deep and cool thing.  So much better than simple lust.

If you don’t want a relationship, be up front about it.  There are plenty of men and women that want friends with benefits and random sexual encounters.  Stick with those folks, don’t mess with the people who are looking for a true and lasting connection.

And remember that women will almost always equate touch with love.  In the beginning they may say they’re okay with sex – no strings attached – but they’re thinking you’ll change.  That you will come to want only them.  We’re funny that way, we women.  We believe we can change men with sex.  wry smile  The truth is – and we all know it – it just doesn’t happen often enough to mention.

What makes a lasting relationship?  Commitment.  That’s it folks.  That’s the foundation.  You have to want it and you stick with it.  You don’t go looking for a distraction.  You look at the person you love, take a deep breath, and remember all the things you loved in the beginning.  You remind yourself of why you said forever.

Imagine how different our lives would be if we did that.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to have an amazing couple of months with someone.  I don’t want to experience the pain of an ended relationship.  I want the kind of love that sticks through the hard stuff and grows.

That’s it.  Remember when I “talk” I’m not preaching.  I’m speaking to myself as much as I’m speaking to you.

Beyond Fear

I was raised to be tough and courageous.  I don’t recommend parenting in the style of my father but in some ways it was effective.  For example, my first time driving at the age of 15 was on a five hour trip, South to North across the state of Oregon.  No around the block for this kid.  My dad gave me the assignment and off we went.  I white knuckled it, more afraid of my dad than I was of traffic.  I didn’t even consider failure.  I had to do it and I knew I would.
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When we were cliff diving and bridge diving in the heat of a Southern Oregon summer, I balked at jumping off the highest bridge into the lake below.  Immediately, my dad started a count down and I knew that when he reached zero I would have jump or he would push me.  It never occurred to me to resist.  I was going in.  I sucked up my fear and did it.
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As a parent, I didn’t want to treat my children that way.  I wanted them to learn to honor their feelings and not let anyone pressure them into doing anything.   Still, I can see why my father raised me the way he did.  He knew life would present many challenges and he wanted me to meet them with courage.  He wanted me to face those challenges undaunted.
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It took me a long time to understand this.  He never explained but I was an observant student of life and I paid close to attention.  Once I got past my anger and resentment , I could see goodness in his intention.
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It’s only recently that I’ve come to realize just how courageous I am.  It’s not that I’m unafraid, not at all.  It’s that I have acquired the ability to move beyond my fear and I can see how that has given me an advantage in life.  I’ve done some pretty cool things from cyclone disaster relief on the island of Guadalcanal to building homes in the jungles of Papua New Guinea.
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I hope life affords you the opportunity to acquire courage in gentler ways and while you’re still young.  If it hasn’t yet, go out and be courageous.  You can do it!  Apply for the job of your dreams, travel, ask her out…  whatever it is that you’re afraid of, just step past it.  No matter the outcome, you’ll be glad you did.