Tag Archives: future

Window

I found myself with some extra time today. I didn’t really like going for walks, but I convinced myself I don’t have anything better to do. Besides, I’ve been working hard and should relax. It was mid-afternoon and the weather was perfect, or at least how I like it. The temperature was warm, with a very high, thin layer of cloud cover that diffused the bright sunlight.

I came upon a park. It was a large grass field with a circular path around it and people from all walks of life. This park just so happened to sit on the top of a large hill. It was called “Reservoir Park,” probably because of the giant water tank fixed maybe 50 feet above the ground, giving life to thousands of houses below.

I started walking counter-clockwise around the park and noticed a familiar looking view. I’d never seen this particular view before, but I recognized it because it looked out over where I grew up. I stopped and stared out at the hill I grew up on. I used to venture into the woods and climb up a tree high enough so I could stare out into the future, unknowingly looking out to where I was standing today, into a mirror with no reflection. I tried to think about everything that’s happened between then and now, all the success, all the heartbreak, everything that’s gotten me to this point so far and changed me from who I was into who I am, but I couldn’t. Nothing came to mind.

From the outside I’d assume that this would be great cause for concern, or should at least worry me in some sense, but I wasn’t even aware that nothing came to mind (funny how minds work). I wasn’t void of memories, but I was remembering, only instead of thoughts coming to mind it was purely feelings coming to heart; the joy, the pain, the love, the longing. I stayed in that moment for quite some time, and after I began to continue my walk I realized I indeed have grown since a child staring out from the tree tops. Never once growing up did I assume I would end up so close to my original home (at least so far). I always had some lofty goal that I would be extremely successful in whatever I did and move far away to somewhere better, some mystical land, wherever that was. But that was before I came out of the woods and went out to live my life. It’s easy to dream when everything looks so open.

Possibly the most important growth that I have experienced is an emotional one. It may seem super simple for some, but I have always been a logical person, using reasoning, knowledge, and whatever else I could prove or validate in order to come to any conclusion. ‘Emotions’ have not been easy for me. I’d get happy and sad like everyone else, but I never got too attached to anything, and would never say, “I’ve got a feeling about this…” Emotions have more or less been a reaction or side effect, so for me a purely emotional response to something is quite amazing, awakening, and somewhat of a miracle. If I can simply look at a view and feel such a wide range and depth of emotions, then that’s amazing. What good are thoughts and circumstances if we don’t feel anything? Every time I asked myself “what do I want to do with my life?” I’ll come up with an answer, and then ask myself, “why?” I’ll do that a few times and it always boils down to something along the lines of “I want to feel happy, feel good, feel loved,” and a big part of that is making others feel loved as well.

I completed my circular walk and looked back across the park to where I stood saw the view, and I couldn’t see it anymore from where I was standing. The trees hid the view from the street, and I noticed if I hadn’t first chosen, logically, to go on this walk, then I would not have ever seen that view, that narrow window into the past. Of course it’s easy to see now, but how many other opportunities like this have I missed? In how many other ways am I still looking out from the trees, waiting to see a reflection?

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The Snowball Effect

Experience, networking, resources, success, knowledge, opportunities…

You’ve heard of the ‘snowball effect.’ Something starts out small and starts to gain momentum to the point where it’s either unstoppable or out of control, or both. Fire is another good analogy for something that can start small and grow and grow and grow, but how often does something keep growing forever? I can’t really think of anything, which is why I like the snowball effect. You have to control fire to keep it from spreading. Fire spreads on it’s own and doesn’t take any effort. I’ve never seen an idea spread on it’s own. You need people to spread ideas and you need people to have ideas in the first place.

You can’t put an idea in a museum.

Think about a snowball. You scoop up snow from the ground and pack it into a ball. It takes some molding, shaping, and effort to pack it into a tight ball, because if you don’t it will fall apart. Now look at the ground. There’s a bare spot. You took that snow and turned it into something else. You used that resource, you took advantage of that opportunity, you gained experience, you made a connection, you learned something, you became stronger, you became more successful…

There’s still plenty of snow on the ground so you scoop up a few more handfuls and make your snowball bigger. It’s now big enough for you to push it along the ground and pick up more and more snow, constantly building and improving upon what you already have. You approach a hill and see someone at the bottom trying to gather as much snow as they can, too, by making snowball after snowball, perpetually starting and starting over. They use up all the snow around them and try to move to a new area to gather more snow, but they can’t carry all the snowballs. They can only take a few in their arms so they become removed from their snowballs as they must move to start over. You watch them repeat this cycle a few times until they’ve left piles and trails of snowballs showing where they’ve been, yet they only have a few snowballs in hand to show for it. They have as much snow as you–maybe even more–but they can’t do anything with it.

The beauty of the snowball effect is that you need help. You need people.

You push your snowball down the hill and it gains speed, picking up snow as it goes, growing into something too big for one person to manage, and it breaks under its own weight. It cracks and splits into several large pieces. You waive to the person you had been watching and they come over and start rounding out the rough edges and patching up your fractured snowballs with their little ones, filling in the holes until they are round again. Like them, you initially bit off more than you could chew. You carry on, both pushing your new snowballs along, gathering more and more until the load becomes too much and must be shared by yet another, and so on, and so on.

Keep building — experience, networking, resources, success, knowledge, opportunities — keep building upon what you have until you can’t build anymore, before the other part of the snowball effect takes over…

melting.

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Life’s a Birch

I was sitting in an office waiting. There was a painting of a forest of birch trees on the wall.

I noticed that birch trees always have so many knots on their trunk, like they’re falling apart and losing branches right and left. Either it’s bad construction, or they’re the laziest trees ever and simply get tired of holding their branches up. If I was a bird I would only build a nest in a birch tree if I was pinched for cash and needed a place to stay. Even the bark has given up and started turning itself into paper. It’s like birch trees don’t really know what they want to do with themselves. What’s the point of being a tree anyways? Yeah, I get it, you’re supposed to grow and get tall… but why? Is there an optimal height that all trees are trying to reach? Because the taller you get, the easier it seems to snap in half in the middle of a storm, or lose your roots in a flood. Why not reach a modest, respectable height, and stop? Are you really going to benefit from being taller if you just keep dropping branches along the way? They are what built you up in the first place, so how do you think that makes them feel? You sacrifice what you consider to be dead weight just so you can sprout a few more leaves closer to the sun.

What I liked about this painting is that it didn’t show the tops of the trees. It only showed the trunks and the forest floor. All the branches were gone, but everyone could see the knots, the scars left on the trees.

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Highway

As I was driving down the interstate somewhere between the bay and Sacramento, an attractive young girl passed me on the right, but slowed down and stayed even with me. I looked over and she was looking back and giggling to herself. I may have raised an eyebrow or two, but couldn’t figure what the fuss was about. She seemed so blissfully lost in the moment of taking her red coupe across the state… Why do attractive girls always drive fast red cars?

I swerved a little and figured I should pay attention to the road more than I was, but I couldn’t help but keep looking back over at her. There’s something so captivating when you make contact with someone on the highway. You’re both zooming by at deathly speeds, yet you stop and take the time to look each other in the eye. There’s no pressure, no expectations, and no formalities. You’re not ‘supposed’ to meet people on the highway. You probably won’t ever see them again. It’s like seeing a person stripped down without all the defenses they wear or disguises they put up in order to function in society. If you don’t see anything worth looking at, you look away and move on, or conversely, you keep looking to see what will happen in this short amount of time.

She pressed a napkin against the window and wrote on it, holding the pen cap in her teeth, and then turned it around. It was a phone number, and from the look on her face, it was hers. I checked my rear view so I didn’t get pulled over for texting, but there was no one around. I typed the number down and gave her a thumbs up. She winked and then sped off.

I never did see her again. I pulled over at the next rest stop thinking she might be there. I called the number. “We’re sorry. This number cannot be completed as dialed. Please hang up, or–” I must have typed it down wrong. There’s no spellcheck for phone numbers. I waited at the rest stop for quite some time looking back in the direction I came. I don’t know why. Maybe I was waiting for her to pull in to the rest stop, but the truth was she was zooming down the highway. Our encounter was so brief that I didn’t know what to make of it until it was gone, so I got back in my car and decided I have a lot of road ahead of me; and a lot of driving left to do.

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To Know

To Know

The moment.
The moment of clarity.
The severity,
a rarity
that stings
and rings
with things
you can’t describe,
but only feel
and know
—you just know
what will happen,
and that you can’t
stop it
no matter how hard you try.
For better or for worse,
you lie to yourself
and say
I see the light;
another way.
I will fight!

Yet, you know.
You just know
that you’re only distracting yourself,
and falling back
into the very same moment
of clarity
which trapped you before,
and you know,
you just know
that you’ve been here before—
you’ve seen it,
you’ve felt it,
and now it is here
and is all you can see,
and you know,
you just know
it is all that can be,
and you slip

—Oh, you slip—
and you fall
to your knees
and say, If only
that moment of clarity…
hadn’t shown itself,
hadn’t spoken to me,
hadn’t consumed
then until now
in the wink of an eye,
so that months of inaction
have rolled on by
with nothing
more than the words
“Why couldn’t I…”

But you knew.
You just knew
when your future
appeared
that it would hold you,
entrance you
with its mysterious face,
so you watched
and you listened,
running in place,
when all it would take
to avoid that path
is to speak out
and say “No,
this can’t pass!
That isn’t my fate!”

…but you couldn’t,
you wouldn’t
want to leave it to chance;
take a risk
give her a kiss,
when at that moment’s glance
you cannot be together,
but she’s still in your life,
and to you that’s still better
than ‘maybe’ or ‘might,’
and you want nothing more
than to cherish that moment,
to keep what you can,
to hold onto the light;
even if only
a flash in the pan.

When the future finds you
and you don’t agree,
it takes all that you have
to let go of that moment,
and what used to be,
and accept the tears of its clarity.

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Tracer

I was driving on a street with stop lights behind a commercial tanker truck with a license plate from Lima, Ohio, which was strange curious enough on its own, but it couldn’t distract me from the steady stream of water leaking from the bottom of the truck. Stopped at a light I wondered how long it would take before the tank bleeds out; and then how long before anyone notices. The truck accelerated and the trickling stream chased it, dissipating into a mist, and in the afternoon sun, tracing the truck’s path with a rainbow.

 

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