Friday, January 11, 2013

Do You See What I See?

There are a lot of things I love about traveling. I love the X factor of a new adventure. I love meeting new people and experiencing previously foreign places. I love trolling truck stops and making a point of observing even the silliest of things. Prime example: Oklahoma has the best windshield wiper squeegees between Roanoke, VA and Tucson, AZ. I love being far enough removed from my daily routine that I’m forced to adapt the motions I get lulled into going through on a regular basis. Change is as good at it is hard.

I find that time spent on the road forces me into being a captive, more observant audience to this universe. I am more easily removed from my admitted addiction to technology – although, not often removed enough. I am able to focus with more clarity on the road ahead instead of the road behind, and I find inspiration in places I never would have thought to look for it.

I try hard to keep track of things worth remembering, and anyone who knows me knows that I operate religiously on lists… so for traditions sake, I made another one.

Here it is, a running list of things I’ve come across, thoughts I’ve had, and lessons learned when old memories are jarred loose by the act of creating new ones. There is a lot of brokenness in this world – perhaps there is mortar in some of these observations.

+ The best stops are often the ones you never intended to make.
+ It is important to recognize that there are two sides to every story – for more reasons than one.
+ Respect silence - sometimes emptiness is the only thing capable of filling vacancy.
+ If you don’t understand my silence you don’t deserve my words.
+ If a tadpole spends its entire life in a well, it becomes the world… that’s a tragic perspective.
+ There is nothing any of is can do to keep the tides from rolling in, but how you emerge from the waves is all in how you ride them.
+ It is true what they say about the journey of 1000 miles. It is also true that the first step is the hardest. 
+ Find simplicity in the chaos of this world.

+ Stand up for yourself – no one else will be more convicted in your beliefs than you are.
+ Tell the truth. It takes so much less energy and a lot less people get hurt in the crossfire.
+ Build bridges everywhere you can – but be cautious about burning them before they’ve been crossed.
+ Drink more water.
+ Find the line. Respect the line. Be smart about when and where you choose to cross it.
+ You don’t need to have many friends, but it’s important to have real ones.
+ Have faith in others – but not instead of having faith in yourself.
+ Dress for success. You never know who you’re going to meet.
+ Everyone has baggage. What breaks you down is not the load you’re carrying – it’s all in how you carry it. I recommend getting a luggage rack. You need to be able to set your troubles down every now and then.
+ Assume everyone else’s load is twice as heavy as your own… empathy will come naturally.
+ Surround yourself with good people – they will surround you.
+ Choose the wrench – pain is temporary, scars fade, but words last forever.
+ Listen… and recognize that it is no mistake that silent contains the same letters.
+ Fighting with someone who won’t fight for you is a battle lost before it began.
+ Accountability is everything.
+ Road signs are almost always more important than we give them credit for. Truth or Consequences is one worth pondering.

+ You might have to scale a mountain to find the horizon, but I promise it’s there.
+ Practice what it is you preach.
+ Follow your dreams, but take the opportunity to enable the dreams of others along the way… you’ll find it to be just as fun and often more rewarding than enabling your own.
+ Karma will take care of itself.
+ Act your age, not your shoe size. There is no expiration date on the need for maturity.
+ Before you put yourself on a pedestal you might want to check your balance.
+ You can never say “I love you” too much – unless you don’t actually mean it. Actions speak louder than empty words, but hurtful words speak loudest. Don’t forget that.
+ Taking advantage of someone is one of the most destructive things you can do to a person’s soul. Pay it forward, always.
+ We really are what we eat… and we’re at our worst when we don’t. I should probably start carrying a snickers bar.
+ I truly believe everyone has a good side, but it isn’t always their first side… you have to give them a chance to prove it to you.
+ Honor the legacy of those who have changed what yours will be.

+ Wrinkles should be worn with pride. They’re a tribute worth sharing and a testament to a life well lived. Take every opportunity to ask questions that beg for the wisdom in between the lines – you’ll be glad you did.
+ There is a lot of brokenness in this world, be the mortar where you can, but remember the Taj Mahal wasn’t built in a day.

We push and pull as human beings. We live and we learn. We are fragile and we are resilient. We make mistakes and we are mistaken. We are a lot like the trees I saw on the side of a Texas highway… When we’re in full bloom it’s hard to tell the direction in which we’ve been blown, but when the seasons change, the leaves disappear, and we are exposed - the battering is blatant. 

It doesn’t make us broken – it makes us bent. It doesn’t make us un-loveable, it makes us that much more appreciative of the love we are given. It doesn’t make us immobilized, it just means our roots run deep… Conviction is a good thing, conflict is healthy, and compromise is the key to success. Sometimes the thin ice that you’ve landed on has solid ground underneath. 

I was flying over the mountains of Arizona’s painted desert when the importance of perspective hit me with crystal clarity. From 30,000 feet, what the world has us seeing as impassible mountain ranges are so easily conquerable. I realize that in reality, it’s a long hard road, but sometimes all you need is to see the glimmer of light to know that there is always at the end of the tunnel. 

Someone told me the other day that they were concerned that I would lose my faith in people… it was funny because it came directly from a homegrown source of my hope in humanity. I’ve always thought of myself as a hopeless wanderer, but a recent correction has me thinking that perhaps I am a hopeful wanderer after all.

Sometimes the molehill really is a mountain, and sometimes the ripple really is a tidal wave, but more often than not, it all comes down to your perspective.

Maybe you’re the one who needs to see the light, maybe you’re the one holding the candle at the other end – either way, don’t put a glass over the flame… There’s a soul looking for a lighthouse somewhere in your world.

Sometimes all the firefly needs is for someone to loosen the jar. 

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