Monday, August 25, 2008

Say what you mean

There’s a lot of things I really want to get out, so this post may be longer than most. It could probably be made into multiple posts spread out over multiple days, but I really want to get it out so I’m going to do it in one fell swoop.

I’ve had some fairly interesting experiences the last couple days and they’ve really made me think about some things. I’m not quite sure where to start.

I had a BBQ with some friends over the weekend at Sugarhouse Park. I really like that park and I especially like the area we BBQ in. When I got there, under a tree not too far from where we were setting up was a man sleeping. I hoped that he would remain there after we started cooking because I thought that maybe he would like a plate of food. When I looked back at the tree a short time later, he was gone.

We had our BBQ, cooked some good food, played some frisbee, sat around and talked. It was a good time. It started to get dark and my sister needed to use the facilities, so I told her I would walk with her over there. I am a trusting individual, but I’m not dumb. I don’t want my sister walking by herself through a dark park. While I was waiting outside for her, a man approached me and it was obvious that he was going to ask me for some money. He proceeded to give me his story and then asked if I could spare some money. I lied to him and told him that I didn’t have any. I told him that we were cooking and had a lot of food and that he was welcome to it. I half expected him to decline, but he accepted. At just this time, my sister came out so we all walked together over to where we were hanging out. He walked a lot slower than I did and I thought he was doing it so he could just disappear, but he kept on coming. When we got back, we made him a plate of food and he and I talked for a short time. He thanked me for filling his belly and made his way across the park. He was Native American and taught me how to say "thank you" in his native tongue. I thought that was pretty cool.

Then, just yesterday as I was out walking I saw an elderly lady trying to get up some stairs at a house. I thought about helping her but didn’t want to put her in a situation where she might be embarrassed by my asking to help her. I also wasn’t sure how she would react to me with my buzzed hair and beard. I think I look pretty tough (even though my friends say I’m still a softie). I called out and asked if she needed any help She accepted my offer for help and I jogged across the street. I offered her my arm and helped her up the stairs and waited while she knocked on the door. Nobody answered so I helped her down the stairs, down the driveway and across the street to her car. She thanked me and we parted ways.

These two events got me thinking. I could easily have told the man in the park that I had no money and left it at that. I could easily have continued walking past the old lady and not offered any help. Would I have been better off for it? I doubt it, although I don't know that I am better off for helping but that's not the point. Certainly they wouldn’t be. All it took was opening my mouth. That’s it. I’ve decided I’m going to open my mouth more often and try to find ways to help people that may need it.

"To everything there is a season"

I’ve been thinking about seasons a lot lately. Particularly about what season of life I’m in and what the next season will bring. I’ve also been thinking of things I enjoy that I have been able to do and some things that I haven’t been able to. A couple of things that I enjoy doing that I haven’t been able to are waterskiing and hockey. I’ve missed out on waterskiing for two summers and am not sure if a third one is waiting in the wings or not. I can’t remember the last time I’ve played hockey...I think it’s been a year. I also don’t know when the next time I’ll be able to strap on the pads and hit the ice will be.

I’m getting ready to start a new season of life...that of being a grad student. I’m worried that it will consume my time and crowd out the things I enjoy doing. It will definitely take up my entire night on Thursdays. Combine that with my Tuesday night tracking night and I’m down two nights right off the bat. How much time will this program take? Will it eat up my other nights? I don’t know.

I think my hockey and waterskiing seasons are over.

There was a time when I would drop everything to hit the lake for a day. I’ve turned down jobs before because it would infringe on my skiing time. The season for that is definitely over. The changing of spring to summer, summer to fall, fall to winter and back to spring is something I enjoy. I like the feeling and anticipation of the coming season. There is always a lingering sadness for what is passed, but the anticipation of the future always overcomes the sadness. This is a little different. I’m really sad about it and I’m not looking forward with my usual eager anticipation.

I don’t dread my return to school, I am excited to get through it and have a Master’s degree. I am not excited about the sacrifices it will entail. I don’t know what this season will bring me and I am not sure I’m ready to let go of this last season just yet.

I don’t have much of a choice.


Lastly, and this is probably the hardest for me to put into words...but I’ll try. I feel like I’ve been on a journey the last couple of years trying to find myself, to define who I am. It’s been an adventure in existentialism. I don’t know if I’m done yet or if one ever is truly "done". All I know is that I’ve done it alone. That’s not to say I haven’t had friends or other associates along the way because I surely have. What I’m trying to say is I’ve done it single, unmarried. I can’t figure out if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. Part of me wants to think it’s a good thing because there’s less pressure to conform to someone else’s ideals and I am thus able to be me for the sake of being me. The other part of me recognizes (hopes) that this will not always be the case and that at some point "I" will not be defined solely by me, but by a spouse, a "we" and that is who I will ultimately become. The part that recognizes this also thinks that the longer "I" go on defining me the less "we" will be able to do and that may cause problems in that I may be more resistant to change. Although, on second thought...maybe the fact that I recognize this will allow me to make the changes I need to. I don't know, I guess only time will tell. (If you haven't figured out, this blog isn't about answers so much as it is about questions, thoughts, impressions, etc.)

At the same time, I’m getting really tired of "the game". I stopped playing it long ago. You know, the whole "I have to wait two or three days before I call her or she’ll know that I like her and I can’t have that" BS. The playing "hard to get" not returning calls, etc. I don’t play it. I hate it when people play it with me. If a girl wants me to be not interested, all she needs to do is play a little and I walk away. It’s not worth it to me. Maybe that’s a bad attitude, but seriously people - we’re adults, not junior high kids writing notes back and forth and telling your friend to tell your crush that you like them because you’re too shy/insecure to do it yourself. If you want a mature, adult relationship then be a mature adult. It’s not difficult to figure out.

I can count the number of times on one hand (two fingers in fact) how many times a girl has been "real" with me. Two.

When I return from a date and am talking with my friends about it and they ask me if we’re going out again my standard response is "I don’t know." Do I know if I want to take the girl out again? Most of the time. Do I know if she wants to go out again? Rarely. Why don’t I know? Because I invariably get the same response, "sure - sounds fun". That’s when the game begins. I will call the next time and usually get the voice mail. When I don’t I am often surprised and taken aback. If I get the voice mail I will leave a message and then the waiting begins. If she calls back, then I know she was being honest and is at least interested in seeing what another date will bring. If she doesn’t call back, do I give her the benefit of the doubt and call again or assume that she would have called if she was interested? I will generally give the girl the benefit of the doubt and call her again in a couple days. That’s when I get the voice mail and know that I’ve been had. I’ll leave a short message letting her know that I’d like to take her out again and will await her response. I don’t think I’ve ever heard back from someone at this point.

The two times I’ve had a girl give me the "you’re a nice guy, but..." routine I’ve been grateful. That’s right, grateful. Why was I grateful I got shut down? Because at least I knew where I stood and there was no guessing game, no runaround. I’ve thanked them for their honesty and bade farewell. Did it sting? Oh sure, I’m not going to pretend it didn’t. Did it hurt? Oh yeah, again I'm not going to pretend it didn't. It definitely stung less than the long drawn out runaround though. Face it, there’s going to be a sting regardless of when you do it. There always is and always will be. The question is whether or not the sting is quick like a good band-aid pull or slow and painful like a sadistic nurse slowly tugging off a bandage. I for one prefer the quick yank. Just pull it off and be done.

I'm tired of playing.

Cat Stevens did a song years ago called "Can’t Keep It In" and I’ve come to absolutely love this song. I’ll play it over and over again on my iPod. It goes a little something like this (the emphasis being mine):

Oh I can't keep it in
I can't keep it in, I've gotta let it out.
I've got to show the world, world's got to see
See all the love, love that's in me.

I said, why walk alone?
Why worry when it's warm over here?
You've got so much to say, say what you mean
Mean what you think and think anything.

Oh why, why must you waste youre life away?
You've got to live for today, then let it go, oh
Lover, I want to spend this time with you
There's nothing I wouldn't do, if you let me know.

And I can't keep it in
I can't hide it and I can't lock it away.
I'm up for your love, love heats my blood
Blood spins my head, and my head falls in love, oh.

No, I can't keep it in
I can't keep it in, I've gotta let it out.
I've gotta show the world, world's got to know
Know of the love, love that lies low

So why can't you say?
If you know, then why can't you say?
You've got too much deceit, deceit kills the light
Light needs to shine, I said shine light, shine light, shine.

Love, that's no way to live your life
You allow too much to go by, and that won't do. No.
Lover I want to have you here by my side
Now don't you run, don't you hide
While I'm with you.

An' I can't keep it in
I can't keep it in, I've gotta let it out.
I've got to show the world, world's got to see
See all the love, love that's in me.

I said, why walk alone?
Why worry when its warm over here?
You've got so much to say, say what you mean
Mean what you're thinking, and think anything.

Why not?
Now why why why not?


cougartex said...

I am with you all the way. It is lost easier to be helpful than we all admit. If we just open our eyes, need is all around.

Grad school. It's tough. Enjoy the challenge.

"The game" stinks. I had a good date with a girl a while back and she blew me off with a message on facebook. I would rather deal with people face to face. Same deal with voicemail. It is so impersonal and easy to ignore.

david o smith said...

Wow this one bring back a few memories. Playing Frisbee in the park during a barbecue. Watching you give a homeless lady pizza and a lemonade from the COB cafeteria, waterskiing with you. Good post.