On Finding A Reason

This week I know of someone who became so lonely that person felt as there was nowhere left to turn but death.  It was tragic, and all that is left now is pain and unanswered questions.

Sometimes we all need a reason to wake up in the morning and go on.  Move forward. Persist. It’s flawed human nature to often want to quit, but it’s ever so important we look beyond that moment for a reason. Sometimes you’ll find it in your believed purpose – a paycheck for your family or a role you play in your life.

But please… Look beyond.  Those are temporary and eventually even the greatest fail.  There’s another reason.  Realize you are loved.  Here on earth, and there in Heaven. Stop listening to the enemy tell you that you are nothing, worthless, a failure.  It’s lies.

Can I ask you to do something for me? It’s important. Find someone you love tonight, look them in the eye, ask them about their love. Then… Bow your head, listen to the quiet night for the voice of God as he tells you how much you are loved, how he craves you – needs you, loves you. I’m certain you’ll hear it, because tonight I’ve prayed each and everyone of you will.

God is your father, and he wants to live life with you.. enjoy the good times and hold you during the bad.  He’s all you need – and he created you for him.  That’s your reason. Friends, don’t let that go.  Life’s way too short as it is. Embrace it.

Grant

On finding encouragement from the past…

I recently stumbled upon this poem I wrote some time ago.  The truth still remains the same.  I hope it finds someone some encouragement, that when all else is lost, there is hope in the cross.

When all the poems have been written,
And ever word has been said,
When every song has been sung,
When every love letter’s been read,

When life has done it’s living,
And there’s nothing left to say,
When all hearts have been broken,
And all the lights fade away,

When every prayer’s been prayed,
And every lip’s been kissed,
When all joy is abandoned,
Every opportunity missed,

When you are just about to give up,
Sigh, and throw the towel in,
When your day’s no longer joyful,
And your heart is full of sin,

When God remains a mystery,
You have yet to discover,
When questions raise doubt,
And you’ve lost your final lover,

When darkness paints a picture,
Of a deep and lonely past,
When you suddenly wonder,
How much longer you will last,

When your last breath has been taken,
And all the deaths have been mourned,
When hope is but forgotten,
And every miracle performed,

Will life remain your ambition?
Your only goal to live?
Will you be waiting,
With nothing left to give?

Yet there is something better
When all these things fall true,
He died two thousand years ago,
On a tree just for you,

So when you think there’s nothing left,
When life just brings you rain,
Remember the solemn truth,
Just thing about it standing there

– the tree with the crimson stain.

Grant

On Breaking Up With Vegas (My Vegas Top Ten)

I’ve been in Vegas since last Saturday on a business trip.  I know, saying that might sound tongue-in-cheek for some – but it’s true.  I’ve spent the majority of my stay in Vegas in a classroom learning great new ways to spend my company’s IT budget, develop tighter network security, increase ROI on our current datacenter network, and generally how to do a lot of geeky stuff a little better.  Needless to say, it’s been beneficial.  Now, that said – I certainly could list every detailed thing I learned (I imagine my boss will ask for that later); but 99.9 percent of you could and should care less – and it’s not really the point of this post.

What is the point of this post?  I’d like to share the things I did learn about this town (and I have no intention to be anything other than brutally honest in my approach – so my apologies in advance to the residents of this city). With that said, I’m entirely hoping nobody really takes the City of Las Vegas seriously – It’s so over the top I’m not sure how anyone really could – but if you do, you might want to skip this.  I did enjoy eating at several restaurants, I did play a couple games (low risk, cheap ones), and  I did take in the sights, but overall  – in hindsight… I don’t have much to say nice about it.  I tried, really, I did.. but it’s just not my cup of tea…  So here’s my Vegas Top Ten things…

1) The city of Vegas is truly void of all morality.  Anything, and everything seems to go here. Waitresses wear lingerie in almost every restaurant, advertisements everywhere ooze sex and alcohol. . Pornographic advertisements litter the strip, especially with people handing out how to access a hooker, who apparently, will be at your door in less than 20 minutes.  I find that intriguing (not in a good way).  I can’t even get pizza to my door in thirty minutes, but I can get a hooker there in less time. Maybe Pizza Hut should adopt their business model.

2) Everything here costs more than what should be legal, including Pizza.  In fact, I’m guessing the hookers probably offer a better deal than the Pizza.  ATMs charge 10 dollar fees, a bottle of water is $6.00, a beer will set you back $10.00 and a cab ride over a mile will cost you $23.00.  I’m all about capatilism, so I guess if you can get people to pay it – great.  But…

3) People, seemingly intelligent people even, get stupid once walking off the plane in Vegas.  Why? Because they pay for $6.00 bottles of waters and $57.00 dollar pizzas.  That’s why. I fell for it too a couple times. And when they are not drinking their $6.00 bottle of water..

4) They’re gambling.  I watched people pull $100.00 a pull slot machines and lose money like it was nothing.  I watched a guy lose 100K on one hand of Black Jack and not even flinch.  How do these people justify that? I mean, seriously – if you have that kind of money at least buy something with it that’s tangible.  If you really have 100K disposable income at your fingertips, try changing the freaking world for the better.  People sure have done it for much less. And while you’re at it..

5) Watch your kids. For the love of God and all that is Holy, don’t bring your kids.  People let their kids (young kids) run wild in a casino.  I saw one woman playing slots with her 4 year old son sitting next to her while she accepted a drink from a lingerie clad waitress.  Cause that’s right little Johnny, “watch Mommy give the pretty lady a twenty dollar tip while I gamble away your college fund and perhaps even the grocery money.”  Besides, Little Johnny will see..

6) The over-the-top pecularities and sights of Vegas.  This place has EVERYTHING, and they do it BIG.  I’m talking buildings the size of city blocks, Casinos you’ll get lost in, a model Eifel Tower, and a giant Statue of Liberty.  This place is definetly something to see – from the fountains at the the Mirage, the sinking pirate ship at Treasure Island – it’s a place that has a great curb appeal, except for late at night when…

7) Vegas is full of just as much old ladies at slot machines as it is my generation.  The generation that either had Mom and Dad give them some gambling money and sent them away on the private jet, or just the one’s that pretend they will.  It’ll be ironic when these people turn into the blue-haired ladies we see at the penny slots in 50 years. Speaking of pennies…

..8) Pennie slots and gambling in general is a joke.  Spoken from experience, I did not lose a lot – but I lost enough to feel like a total fool for even playing any game.  Seriously, you literally are better off burning your money for heat during the winter than pulling a slot here.  You’d get a better ROI anyways – at least you’d get something – heat.  Speaking of heat –

9) This place is freaking hot.  It reminds me so much of Saudia Arabia where I spent a good amount of time growing up.  Walking the strip – even between Casino’s will suck the life completely out of you.  It’s best to just stay in your hotel during the day,unless you like consuming $6.00 bottles of water, as you think about how much…

10) I really don’t like Vegas.  It’s just not my thing.  At all, really.  I’m sure if I had more money to spend on the fancy resteraunts or the spectacular (and good) shows, I may have a seperate opinion – but to be honest – that’s not what makes this town.  What makes this town is the appeal of the lustful, sinful, carnal desires we all have (even I spent some time oogling – I am human).  The motto of Vegas isn’t “We have really good resteraunts, shows, and family activities,” the motto is “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.”

And Vegas? You can keep it – well most of it,  I’ll take my conference t-shirts, pens, and booth goodies, my wealth of new Network knowledge and head back to where there’s corn and $2.00 ATM fees, and the bottled water is 99 cents.

– Grant

P.S.

Let’s get one thing out of the way:  It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted.  I don’t have a good excuse.  I want to make this a habit, but I’ve failed at that commitment.  I hope to address that by actually sticking to regular posts.

On Losing a Good Friend

The country singer / songwriter Garth Brooks has a song called “The Dance.”  It’s a simple but powerful song, where the writer speaks of a breakup in a relationship.  Essentially, the jist of the song is this: the writer is lamenting on the fact that had he have known the relationship would ultimately be in failure, he probably would have missed “The Dance.” Or in other words – sometimes, even though the end or loss of something hurts – it’s not necessarily the end that counts.  It’s the Dance in the middle.

I got a call Sunday that I much rather would have not received.  It was from my mother, teary eyed and heartbroken – giving me one last chance to say farewell to my “childhood” dog George – a dog I received for my 16th birthday, and as a family we had raised for 11 years.  He had hurt himself beyond medical repair, was in a great deal of pain and suffering, and well – you know the rest. It was hard.  It was really hard, probably more so for my parents.

My parents have been through the broken roller coaster of life in the last 3 years, and as we all like to think – undeservedly.  A failed company my Dad put his heart and soul in for well over a decade went bankrupt. They were forced to move away from a home they eventually lost – to a strange place in New York they eventually grew to love.  Not long after gaining normalcy, they were forced yet to move again to Tennessee.   I watched my Dad, my own personal hero, handle it with valor and stride. I watched a guy who had spent the better part of his life taking care of me and his family, mentoring, nurturing, loving me – get beat down over and over again – and still get back up.  I stand today with more respect for him than any other man in my life. I watched my Mom stay by his side through thick and thin, going wherever her husband went, because for my Mom – that’s what she does.  She loves with loyalty and heart of a christened knight.

But then there was George.  George did not move with me when I left the nest, he stayed with Mom and Dad.  He needed to stay, where he was he had greener pastures, his backyard, his picnic table throne, his squirrel minions, and plenty of love.  For those who have had dogs before, you’re quite aware of the unconditional love they offer. For those of you who don’t, I’m not sure what to compare it to.  Ben Williams is attributed with saying “There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face,” and I would personally have to agree.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my experiences with George lately – and one central theme comes to mind over and over again – purpose. I’m bemused at the fact most of us go through life spending our whole lives looking for purpose – a reason for existence.  George never had to question his.  He knew it, he lived it, he exhumed it in all he did.  George’s purpose was joy.  He gave it up easily, mixed it with loyalty, protection, and humor.  He stuck through the heartbreak of my parents moves, and the distance and loneliness that state borders do to separate us from the ones we love.  In the midst of it all, there was George.

George knew what he was here for, I’m certain he had received his mission briefing well before any of us knew he would become ours, a blessed edition to our lives.  Part of me, well… Part of me also thinks George knew when his mission was over, when it was time to throw in the towel and go home.  I’m sure some would say that’s just me full of “wishful thinking and self healing” …But I don’t think so.  I think he knew, accepted it, and was ready.

I wasn’t there for George’s passing.  And as I write this cathartic bit of an essay, a few tears stream down onto my keyboard.  Call me emotional, I don’t care – you’re probably right.  It doesn’t matter.  If George was here, he’d nudge me on my lap with that “get over yourself and come play with me look,” and that would be okay – because it would make me laugh.

And that… that’s a legacy worth remembering.

– Grant

In Memorandum –

George “Georgie” Dawson
January 1999 – March 2010
Friend, Companion, Joy-Bringer

On Climbing out of the Rut

Everyone has a point in their life where the reflect on what they have become.  10 years go, if you would have told me I’d be working for a tech company running a Hosting Environment, I would have believed you.  10 years ago, if you told me I’d go home from that job to 3 children and a wife, I would have questioned your sanity.  Some parts of me have been very predictable, while other parts have been small surprises.

To be honest, I’ve been dealing with a bit of depression lately.  I’m reevaluating who I am as an employee, a father, a friend, and a husband.  I feel like I’ve made my share of failures in all four departments over time.  My biggest struggle has been juggling the four departments simultaneously.  In doing so, I think I’ve neglected to actually work on me.  Now, please don’t confuse that statement with the same statement a selfish person would say to justify a change in lifestyle. No big purchases here (can’t afford it), no sudden career changes (unwise), no lavish hobbies (see reason number one).

I’m guessing my depression stems from the fact that I’ve tried so desperately to excel in the four areas mentioned above, I’ve lately managed to burn myself out. I’ve entered into a routine of going through the motions, something I never really attributed myself to before.  I’m just not a “go through the motions” kind of guy. I get bored. Even more so, I’ve made some missteps in managing certain aspects of my life and household, I’ve let those cascade into my identity.  It’s well, rather – depressing. Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to slit my wrists are cry myself to sleep every night – but to be honest faithful readers (all one of you),  I’m just confused about what to do next.

I first tried the familiar instant-gratification route. In high school in college, I had a fish tank hobby.  At one time, I had too many fish tanks, that I’m pretty sure my parents were ready to kill me.  I loved it though, I really, really enjoyed it.  I was obnoxious about my fish, designing the aquarium, keeping them happy – and just viewing their world I created.  So, last weekend, I found a fish tank on craigslist – a lot like my last one before I moved out of my parents house a long time ago.  I was excited.  I spent the whole day cleaning my fish tank and matching stand, and the equipment it came with.  I even went out that night to look at some accessories / stuff I would need to get it started.  Then, the reality hit me of just how expensive of a hobby it is.  I guess I had more disposable income in college, some of this stuff is atrocious, and I just could not justify it. I wanted to, I just couldn’t. It’s not like I’m poor, but the father/household part of me said “no – there are other things we need.”  So, being the responsible parent / father I am – the fish tank remains on hold until I won’t feel guilty about doing something with it.  Right now, it sits empty in my living area.  I kind of like it empty. It’s amusing.  I’ll get around to it – I really want to, but  that might be awhile, and I’m not complaining.  All good things come to those who wait.

I’m also the trying “move in the right direction route.”  I’ve met with an admissions counselor to look into going back to school.  When I started college, a bachelors didn’t exist for what I wanted to do, I had to go the 2 year degree route and then certifications.  Now, as I’ve matured and so has the world of education to mach the tech-industry, I’m looking at jumping back in – finishing up with a bachelors degree which should lead to new opportunities.  Maybe even give me the money for a really cool fish tank.  With sharks. Now that would be neat.

So I guess tonight I really don’t have anything that witty. No catch phrase.  No one liners.  No real message. I’m just here, on my blog.  Trying to figure out what to do next.

It’ll all work out. God’s yet to fail me there.

– Grant

On Prose to a Child

Three of you

Small, little, and tiny

You spend each day discovering

Exploring, frolicking, careless

With endless adaptability

Coupled with graceful forgiveness

For the one unfit to lead

Bringing unbridled joy and laughter

Upon a life unfulfilled without your presence

I remain in awe of who you are, and who you will become

As I lay you to sleep

Thinking of your future

The promises to be unlocked

The reality of adversity

I find comfort in the solace

That you are not just my child

But that of a greater God

One who picks up where I will falter

One who will remain faithful when I stumble

And I remind myself that you too, shall overcome

But as for tonight, I claim you

Because as much as you rely on me

I rely on you for purpose

For kisses, hugs, and smiles

My children, my life, my love

May the years ahead of you bring you the same joy you’ve brought to me

– Dad

On Escaping

I’ve been thinking a lot about escaping lately.  In order to use the word escape, you first have to imply that you are trapped, or held against your will.  Vacation commercials often tell us we need to “escape,” coupling such marketing with pictures of sandy beaches and pristine sunsets.  Everyone there is happy, sipping their exotic drinks and dancing the night away at the hottest clubs.  We are told that this indeed is “escaping.”

I’m not buying it.  But I do understand the notion of “escaping.” Right now, I’m going through a stressful time in my life.  Work is ramping up on a huge project I own at the office (one of those projects that means a lot of dollar signs to a lot of people up top), while some of my most important relationships with the people in my life personally are not exactly going the way I’d like them to.  I have bills in my inbox that still need paying, a to do list a mile long, and a car that could really use a tune up (or an overhaul, for that matter).  I know, it’s life, it’s nothing special.  But by 10 PM, after the world slows down in the Dawson household, I can relate with “escaping.”

Although, I’m not very certain that a week in the tropics would be my answer.  Sure, it might buy me some much needed rest and relaxation, but for what? To come back to the piling bills, the relationships in need of mending, the car that needs repairs, the project that inevitably that will be still in my queue?

I remember taking a vacation to Destin, Florida years ago, standing on the beach.  I watched a guy, in his mid 40s , sitting in a beach chair and drinking a beer.  I remember standing next to him.  It was late at night, I was on the beach, smoking a cigar, drinking a beer, watching the waves, being a stupid tourist.  I thought I had it made at that moment (or perhaps that was the over indulgence of unfiltered nicotine and beer – I know, bad choices – I’m just being real, here – I was 22).  I also remember looking over at the guy, and asking him where he was from.  His answer: “here.”

Here? Turns out he just “managed” that section of the beach, making sure the beach chairs were picked up, the sand was raked, and the umbrellas were folded. I really envied that guy for a moment.  He’s where everyone else wants to go.  He’s there.  That guy, that guy doesn’t NEED to escape. I made sure he knew that.  I’m not sure he bought it.

I probably simply had a moment of “grass is always greener.”  In fact, I think that saying only exists because the majority of us haven’t decided what it really is we want out of life.  What would make us say we don’t need to “escape?” I know there’s people out there that have figured it out.  Few, but there are some. Maybe they’re on the beach, folding beach chairs for a living.  Maybe their running a Dude Ranch in Nevada.  Maybe they’re just simply doing what they love and keeping it simple, nothing exotic.

Maybe.  I hope I figure out what it is that got them to that place.  Until then, I’ll love life, I’ll laugh.  I’ll trust God.  You can tell me all day, “Grant, happiness is a choice,” but I’m frankly tired of hearing it.  I’ve had tons of people in my life tell me if I listen to them, if I attend their small church group, join their ministry, read this book, join this group-  whatever – that I’ll figure it out.  I don’t think it was meant to work that way.

Truth be told, I am happy, but I just know – I know I could be happier. I want to find that escape, so I never have to look for it again.

Mine’s probably not a sandy beach with an umbrella in my drink. I know it’s not.  It’s better than that. Way better than that.  Some place great for my family, for my kids, my wife. Me.

When I find it, I’ll send you a postcard.

– Grant

On Glasses of Wine, Sippy Cups of Juice, and Moments of a Lifetime

Everyone can remember moments in their lives, some even recently, where we’ve been touched or moved in way outside of our normal day to day routine.  I’m an emotional person, often times wearing my heart on my sleeve.  Because of this, I’m often in tune with emotional things – sometimes even hearing the right song on the radio can put me in an emotional state (or make me tear up – I’ll admit it).  I react both very positively and very negatively to my own emotional triggers.  When I hit a positive emotional trigger, I often reach a sense of euphoria – where I find myself wanting to write down my immediate thoughts or feelings in the form of words.  Often, especially as of lately (hence the slow blog posts – sorry, I’ll do better), I have not had the luxury to do just that.  But I’ll sure try to make up for it here:

Moment Number One – A True Valentines Day Experience

My wife and I have been married now for over two years, going on 3 in October.  I love her in more ways than what I can count.  However, what I can count is the times we’ve actually been able to work on our relationship just one on one – or together (see Webster dictionary for “dating”).  With three children – or the process thereof of having three children of the last years – it’s been almost impossible to find that time or be rewarded with it, especially given the fact we normally can’t find or afford a babysitter for all three children. We’ve literally gone almost a half of a year without a date before – meaning literally just a two hour dinner with just the two of us.  Thanks to my Mother, who came out for a visit and to help with the kids, we were awarded the opportunity this Valentines Day.  What made it kind of unique for me, is given that we’ve spent so little one-on-one time together; I was actually nervous as I would have been for a 2nd or 3rd date.  I wanted things to go right, I wanted to savor every moment of our time together, as I fully knew the next opportunity would not be for quite some time.

What I realized, as I sat across from my wife at the restaurant and she giggled at me for messing up our wine order (apparently your supposed to let them pour for you, and not go over half a glass -oops) – as she grabbed my hand and smiled… Was that even if I had met this woman yesterday – or for that matter, today – I’d still fall in love with her, still marry her, still have a family with her. I literally looked across from the table at my wife, and in a quick private moment, I was given the divine assurance that this woman was indeed my soul mate – the love of my life.  I felt lucky. I had gotten so caught in the routine, so caught in the pressures of family, children, and duty – that I had not previously seen the obvious. I fell back in love with my wife that night.

Moment Number Two – Discovering Parenting Has Insurmountable Emotions

If you ever want to know what it’s like to go through a true emotional roller-coaster – and not just the one where you might be having a bad day type of roller-coaster… Do the following: 1). Walk your toddler back for surgery. 2) Wait in a waiting room for 3 hours. 3) Walk back to the recovery, and view your baby sound asleep, holding his hand as he wakes up.

My 19th month old went in for a minor surgery – nothing life threatening, but necessary.  In order to perform the 2 hour procedure, they had to put him under general anesthesia.  I literally thought I’d be OK with this, but by the time they gave him the medicine to calm him down – I wanted the medicine as well.  For at that moment, I was entirely trusting the life of my son to strangers I had met that morning.  Moreover, I watched as my toddler really DIDN’T freak out – which in turn freaked ME out, because I realized at that moment he was so trusting in me – so trusting that I would not let him go somewhere or for someone to do something bad, that he remained calmer than I did.  I realized in that moment, that I had managed to create a bond with a child who literally thinks that Dad (and Mom) were always going to make sure things were okay.

So as I sat in the waiting room, I realized something that almost made me hyperventilate.  What if I can’t always make sure things are okay? What happens when he does get hurt? When someone breaks his heart? When he falls and I’m not there to catch him? Will I lose that bond I’ve managed to create? What if he wakes up from surgery and doesn’t trust me for what I’ve done – will he understand? When will he stop trusting me?  Will I eventually break this “faith of a child”? Will I be the one responsible for tearing away his innocence?

I couldn’t stand the pressure.  I barely talked to my wife in the waiting room.  We both sat there, silently praying and fidgeting, hoping our little guy was okay.  Right about the moment I thought I could not take the questions running through my mind anymore, the nurse called us back.  I think God was listening to my questions, because he managed to not necessarily answer them out loud immediately in the waiting room moments before.  Instead, he let me see my child open his eyes and ask for juice and Teddy Grahms in his baby sign language and groggy baby vocabulary of “MoreHa,” “Cupa,” and “Puhleez”.

So God did answer, a little voice in my head whispered something back – Juice and Teddy Grahms. I just need to stock up on juice and Teddy Grahms – Grantin his eyes, in this moment – that’s what it’s gonna take..

Alright God! You and me,  we’ve got it under control. Today I’m a hero with a Sippy cup and a snack. And today?

Well today’s all that matters.

– Grant

On Finding Haiti on the side of the road..

Yesterday, coming home from work late, I had to pick up some vegetables and some medication. These two seemingly mundane tasks turned into a powerful life thought experiment.  I had two stops on my normal 35 minute commute home, all with the added bonus of hearing my poor wife’s exasperation on the phone of  “When are you going to be home,” as I hear three unruly children in the background wanting, crying, and destroying the overall entropy of the household. I’m convinced that after 6 PM, our children turn in were-children (although without the sudden hairy growth and fangs). I was growing close to not getting home before one of the children (if not all) become aware of the full moon and fully embraced their chaotic side, leaving nothing but destruction and time-outs in their immediate future.

It seems as though, in those moments we are often challenged by the big guy himself (or at least me). After making a marathon run-stop at the Fresh Market for stir fry vegetable goodness (organic of course), I was five minutes from my house, on my way to one of the 8 CVS’s that exist within a 15 mile radius.  I’m really not exaggerating.  You’re more likely to find a CVS on the north side of Indianapolis than you are a gas station. Anyways, as I drove to my last stop (after promising my wife I’d really, really hurry after my second phone calling and hearing what sounded like the beginnings of howling in the background) I noticed a guy about 19-20ish on the side of the road, stranded outside his stranded beater-car waving at oncoming traffic.

He looked scraggly, in sweats. Unkempt, kind of strange and not very trustworthy.  I did what the 7 cars in front of me did.  I drove on.

But I really couldn’t end my blog post there if I didn’t have a change of heart or sanity.  So reluctantly, 1 mile before my final stop of the evening, and almost a mile from the stranded strange guy, I hit my breaks, pulled a U-turn, and grumbling under my breath – I turned back to the kid.  Parking some safe (in my mind, i guess) 5 car distance away, I walked up the motorist.

He apparently noticed me, and was already running to me. That kind of made me nervous.  He proceeded to tell me he’d been waving down traffic for about an hour, as he had ran out of gas. I told him that was strange, because he did not LOOK like a serial killer.  He chuckled.  Then I asked him if he WAS a serial killer.  He said no.  I started to think to myself if I had a good escape plan or something in my car to use as a weapon if he tried to subdue me.  I made the thought go away, as I do a lot of my thoughts that scare me.

I asked him if he’d like for me to take him to the gas station a mile down the road.  He sheepishly told me he would have walked to one, if it was not for the fact that he had no money left.

Great -ugh. I pulled out my wallet.  I had three dollar bills.  I never carry cash. Like, never.  I told him he was welcome to it, and to hop in the car and we’d borrow a gas can and get him going.  We did.

Along the 6 minutes he was in my car there and on the way back he proceeded to tell me his life story.  How he’d gotten into some trouble, had finally gotten an apartment, a job, and was going to school to be an auto mechanic.  I told him before he could go on working on how to fix the cars, he should probably look into first making sure he kept gas in them.  Sometimes, I guess, I think I’m a comedian.  Anyways, he got the gas, I dropped him off.  He gave me a fist bump. He got out of my car. Filled his, and drove off.

He was thankful, but did not make a huge deal about being thankful.  I was actually myself thankful for that.  People that over thank make me uncomfortable.  As I drove on to my destination, only about 12 minutes off course, I started to wonder about all the people that really did pass him up.  I then started to wonder if these were the same people that “texted” their 10 dollar donation to the Haiti relief fund.  I started to wonder if those were the same people, that if given the “safe opportunity” would have “texted” the kid stranded on the side of the road, hard on his luck for whatever reason, 5 dollars to get some gas. You know, so they did not have to talk to him or anything. Don’t engage. Don’t get involved. Just send money.

But that’s kind of ridiculous isn’t it? He needed more than 5 dollars.  He needed someone to give him a ride.  Someone to take him 3 miles after the round trip in the 23 degree weather.  He needed someone to hear his 12 minute life story, and someone to crack a joke with.  Sending him 5 dollars in a care package would not have done that, even if it was someone famous handing it to him.  In fact, I’d argue it would have done him little or no good.  Bottom line – what he needed was someone to get involved.

So why are we (me included) so reluctant to get involved, to engage?  Why are we willing to sniffle at a Haiti star-studded telethon donation television special, but not step up and actually DO something?  I hear over and over again America is a generous nation, that we constantly give – and I’m not disputing that.  But when did I (we) start thinking it was okay to just send another organization a check? I understand these organizations NEED funds, but do these people that ultimately receive this money REALLY want JUST money?

Or do they want a gas tank, a ride, a light hearted conversation, a fist bump, and then maybe five dollars?

I don’t know.  But it sure made me think.

– Grant

On turning 27 and Goggles in the bathtub…

So Saturday was my birthday.  It’s really entertaining to me, that as we gain another year older, it seemingly becomes less and less significant. However much of a great experience my birthday weekend was, I’m one of those people that has quiet revelations outside of the norm.

My daughter Emma was astounded – astounded, mind you – that I was not having a party with cake.  In the world of a six year old, not having cake at a birthday party is like not having a toy in the happy meal.  You just don’t do it.  I was more than content with the Hodge-podge of events that did surround my birthday – such as one of my closest friends taking me out to a comedy show and consumption of a collection of different beers at the downtown Irish Pub.  Or the “put the kids to bed early” take out Chinese dinner with the wife. When you turn 27, I guess you become easier to please.  And I’m just fine with that change of events. Sorry Emma, no cake. Except that takeout cheesecake from Cheese Cake Factory.  But you don’t know about that :-).

While I struggled to find writing material in my increasingly “normal” birthday festivities, I was quite amused and touched with something that happened to me during my get-ready-for-work-half-awake ritual Friday morning.  Normally, I take a shower in the bathroom outside of the master bathroom to allow my wife that 10 minutes of extra precious sleep she’ll get till the kids hear the door swing open as I leave for work.  In doing so, as I stepped into the shower I about broke my foot on a pair of pink child’s Speedo goggles I’d purchased my daughter the previous year on a vacation where the hotel had a pool (side note – want to impress a child under the age of 10? skip the money of Florida – take them to a hotel with a pool, apparently that’s simply AMAZING.. ooh to be young again..).  After a brief string of obscenities (yes, better left unsaid I’m sure – but I am human), I found myself touched and full of laughter – which turned into a great morning at work.

Why? Because there were goggles in the bathtub, that’s why.  Barely enough water to even submerge yourself in the standard issue bathtub,and my daughter evidently was on her own little Discovery Channel adventure.  Silly? Of course. Delightful? Absolutely.  So as I pondered and considered what was going through her imagination and play I asked myself a simple question – when was the last time I had goggles in my bathtub?

OK, not literally.  But figuratively, when was the last time I gave up reality for imagination?

Seriousness for silliness? When was the last time I was able to diverge from the path of adulthood – which tells us over and over again – goggles are for swiming, snorkeling, diving – not the bathtub?  When did the world get the opportunity to tell us such behavior was not okay? Or worse yet – when will my daughter find out that’s “just silly” and “we don’t do that…”

I hope never.  I hope she keeps that alive, the world needs more of that. We need more of that.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go wear my racing helmet to bed.

– Grant