I’m not entirely sure when I will finish this “series” but I’m starting to feel like having a part five is really pushing it now. But I’ll try to follow through until I’ve finished the book in it’s entirety. Jesus be a fence.
In one of my recent whine posts I shared that I was just in Florida this past weekend for my sister’s wedding ceremony. She was already married, but she wanted to do the destination wedding so the family packed our bags and coasted six long hours and two states away. I’ve read before in some obscure article that it’s important to take a vacation to get a break away from the humdrum of regular life. Vacations/staycations tend to revitalize us from all the draining facets of responsibility, respectability, and all those other r-bilities out there. But in a way these “tions” help to gauge how unhappy we are with our current stories. Repetitive enough as it is it for me to say (because I can’t remember all that I put on here, but I’m sure I’ve said it before along with a million other people) we tend to get complacent with life as it comes to us. There are jobs, significant others, cars, etc that come pretty easy. I don’t mean that they we don’t have to apply for them or work for them, but I mean that they come easier than what we might truly want. One of my current coworkers started college with the hopes of becoming a nurse. After a rocky break up with her boyfriend, who was her ride to school, she had to drop out and find an “ends meet” job. She was unable to reach her ultimate goal because it seemed out of reach. With no ride to school her dreams were put on hold. Obstacles are often in the path of our true desires so we kind of get stuck with what’s available at the time. After a while we become comfortable with “as is” and therefore we settle. As we become more and more settled into our new niches we just get…stuck, for lack of a better word. It’s like we are lulled deeper into complacency until we have no drive or energy to move. When you finally do break away for a moment in time you are often so shaken up that you can’t imagine settling back into that niche, but for a time you have to. Donald Miller refers to the shake up as an inciting incident. It’s not the inciting incident that gets our story started, but the incident does wake us up enough to make us ask, “is the time now?”
Sunday evening when my brother pulled back into my grandmother’s yard to drop me off I went from level 99 to level sub-zero. It’s easier to accept that I’m not where I want to be after I’ve been in the same place for a week or two. At that point I just become numb. But once my daily routine is thrown off, my whole life gets thrown out of whack. Growing up in Mississippi is great. Contrary to popular belief we are a beautiful and cultured state. We do have our setbacks and our downfalls such as our garbage wages and our poo education system, but we are hospitable, creative, and intelligent. Where there are many trees whether they be plum, peach, or magnolia there is much adventure. Even more than that, I grew up in a poverty line home raised by a single mother. My mom did the best she could for us along with the assistance of my grandparents and my uncles/aunts. Because we didn’t have a lot of money, we had a lot of imagination. We lived in a trailer with the A/C vents on the floor and if you know nothing else about trailers please know that they get hot as hell during the summer and cold as…opposite hell during the winter. During the summer time we would sprawl out on the carpet in the den and build tents over the vents with those floral sheets that nobody but Granny bought. If we were feeling crafty enough we would tie some to chairs and dressers and make a sheet mansion. I’m not sure if we invented this game, but I’m sure no one else has played it. We would stand in the ditches on the edge of the road and whenever a car came we would hurry and duck down. This game was called “Drive by.” What kind of hoodlums…..If we got a bicycle it would last us for years. Once you outgrew it, you passed it down. I did have a go-kart that my father bought me prior to his passing so we would take turns ripping and running in the dirt field across from my grandma’s house. It’s how I learned to drive. I still drive with two feet actually. I’m used to what would be called humble living. Our cousins from Detroit and Japan were the only ones we knew who were used to seeing more and getting out more. But as we got older my brother and my Uncle Dexter both emphasized the need to leave the state and explore our options. It’s okay to choose to stay around a small town with a lower pay job if that’s what you want. It doesn’t make you any less important or successful. But don’t feel like you HAVE to stick around. If that’s not what you want then don’t settle. The importance of seeing the world (or even another state) is that it shows you a different scenery that you may want to live in. It’s not all cotton fields, pick up trucks, and small town living.
Would I like to live in Destin, Florida? Probably not. The traffic is ten times terrible, but the shrimp was the boooooomb. Would I like to be able to visit more often? Sure. I just want to get out there and explore. But the job I have now doesn’t allot me much money to explore too often and afford my braces. Sorry J. Cole, I’m tired of my crooked teeth. I need these braces, mane. The perks of the trip was that I got to see my sister walk down a sandy aisle of roses and say “I do” to her husband who looked like Keith Sweat standing up there in white linen with his shirt unbuttoned. But another perk was that it slapped me in the face and reminded me that what I have now is not what I want. Now, please don’t be one of those people who says, “you gotta be grateful! BE GRATEFUL! People have it worse than you,” because DUUUUHHH, Dr. Phil. But that doesn’t mean I can’t dream or plan to achieve more. I look up to my brother because he was raised in a single home, his dad didn’t want to be involved in his life, and he went to school on a whim and a prayer but he made it. He told me about the fact that at one point he couldn’t afford to pay his tuition and live in his apartment any longer. He had been praying about finances because with him being in the master’s program and with his only mode of transportation being a bike he didn’t have a job. Sometime later a professor of his stopped him on his way to class and offered him an additional scholarship plum out of the blue. And to think that he started out not knowing how he would afford school at all or how he would finish. My old coworker Nita is another person I admire because she started out as a single mom to two boys interning at the medical supply store I worked at. After her internship was complete she was hired full time at the job, but months later. She started working under the medical biller, and quickly branched out into learning the laws of insurance on her own. She started billing officially on her own, but the store owner didn’t want to pay her more than a penny for her work. She applied for an out of state job and was awarded double her salary and moved on to a better opportunity. She told me that at one point she was living in a women’s shelter, and that many of her family members were rooting for her to fail. She came to work crying one day asking why couldn’t her family, who are the main ones who should support you, didn’t believe in her. But I look at where she is now and I’m proud of her. Your current story doesn’t have to be your forever story. Not to downplay the individual struggles of anyone out there. Speaking about writing a better story is much easier than actually writing a better story. You see me. I’ve been talking about wanting better for what, a year now? But I end up backsliding and getting back into my old destructive thoughts and behavior. If you find yourself getting stuck or complacent, you’re not alone. I’s here. We can shoot for the stars together, fall flat on our faces together, and start again together. A Berklee professor said that we don’t start out with masterpieces. Often times our beginning work is crap. But he also said that we shouldn’t look at it as just crap; instead we should say, “ah, crap” because after all, crap is fertilizer.
Steven Furtick had a sermon not that long ago titled “Don’t Miss Your Turn.” I’m trying not to miss my turn. These past few days have felt hopeless. I’m not going to lie. I don’t like internal conflict. I don’t like the fact that an inciting incident isn’t a sign that its going to be easy breezy beautiful cover girl to change. It all very…sucky. But it is what it is. And I’m trying to change the “is” to “what I want it to be.” I’m uncomfortable with the idea of breaking out of my little protective shell and subjecting myself to possible rejection. I don’t like the idea of making mistakes or looking like an idiot. But I’m already clumsy so I tend to look like an idiot on a daily basis. Cliche cliche cliche BUT everything takes time. I won’t finish at the same rate as someone else. That’s why I deactivated my Facebook page; I know that I’ll get caught up in seeing someone else’s success as my failure so I’m just taking a break for the moment while I work towards my own goals.
This post sounded pretty boring while I was writing it. I’m pretty sure you fell asleep a couple of times. But….hey…I gotta write something. So wake up, wipe the drool from your face, and…..do something. I dunno….