Monday, June 19

Go For It

I'm reading a book called "The Happiness Project." Long story short, it's really good. And simultaneously (likely because the author did the same) I've found the courage to do things I've wanted to do in life.

First, I'm hosting a picnic for all bloggers (or whatever if you count yourself in) who live in or around Provo/Orem this Friday in my backyard. You can look up the event details on Facebook. It's been a mess trying to track down *all* the people who blog in the area, since there isn't a directory of any sort (I guess that information is technically available... if I asked Google Fiber to delve into their analytics for Blogger-based blogs and contacted Wordpress I'd be set, but I doubt even they are allowed to amass a data set like that). And my history with hosting parties is... most of the time attendance is zero. Even with a dozen RSVP's. So hosting a first-of-summer picnic for potentially hundreds of strangers and their families is likely out of my league, but I'm doing it anyway. It'll be a great excuse to grab a picnic blanket, take out a sandwich and some fruit, and maybe even make some new friends.

I'm also starting my next business. It's called Epiphany (the name came to me in a wash of inspiration... pun not intended), and I have never been more excited about a business. Our opening day (as long as everything falls into place) is Saturday July 1 at 6:00pm at 12 W Center Street in Provo (inside The Sweet Tooth Fairy). Epiphany is an experience designed to change the way people live their lives. The groups and individuals I've taken through have all loved it. You laugh, cry, sweat, feel, and ultimately hopefully find your own epiphany for change. If you want to come, you're welcome to - just show up at 6:00pm. There's more information on the website - Epiphany

And... once those are happening, I'm also starting Grace again. This one is the most currently stressful, because Grace was such an awesome experience the first time around. And the fear of doing it wrong the second time has kept me from even trying. To counter that, we won't have an official start... just slowly collect people who want to be part of it and have adequate time to practice and perform.

And, finally, I dusted off two of the novels I've been writing (truthfully, it's been years since I touched them) and started adding to them again. I think the goal I made on Saturday to write 2000 words a day (what it would take to finish both by the end of Summer) might be pushing it, so I'm just going to stick with writing as much as I want, when I feel like it.

Oh. And I'm trying to start dating girls again. Someone suggested I download a swiping app... but those are problematic because I swipe left on everyone. I think going old school might work better. So if anyone wants to set me up on a blind or double date with someone who lives within 10 miles (max) of Orem, I'd love your help. Please don't tell me about the girl, because I already know that doesn't work. Just set us up. If you tell her I'm gay then let me know so I'm not wondering if I have to come out over dinner. And if we get married I'll pay you a finders fee or let you name my fourth child or build a wing of a hospital in your honor or give you a hug or something.

I guess a lot is happening.

Saturday, June 10

5 Friends: Turmoil

One of my biggest concerns in learning to make friendships involves a fear of betraying the people I try to befriend. I sometimes... often... ok, pretty much every single time I want to get close to someone... feel that there is no possible way to adequately prepare people for what being my friend will entail. A dozen IRB-approved waivers, endless vulnerable soliloquies, and even reading my mind through a binge of (G)MG wouldn't cut it.

I realize that everyone is different from their first impression. That everyone has flaws. That everyone needs people who forgive and work to improve their lives. But, for better or worse, real or not, I honestly also feel like I'm an outlier in this world too. As people get to know me, I inevitably end up as someone dramatically different from what they expected. And I wish I could fix that.

I also sometimes feel enormous guilt for even trying to make friends. While others see me as a totally normal (or perhaps slightly different) person, I know, fully well, that most of my friendships will not work out. I know from past experience that I will probably leave indelible marks on the lives of the other people involved. And while some marks may be positive, others have caused unimaginable chaos.

I've realized that I can't take responsibility for all of the chaotic things that happen in other people's lives when I'm around them. Some are directly my fault, caused by my own personal, knowing mistakes. Others are my cause - where I do something and unknowingly cause pain - like when I dated three best friends in a row (they didn't live together... how was I supposed to know they were best friends? Or know that I wasn't supposed to anyway?) or when I asked a girl for dating advice because she was the only one I trusted... and she was interested in me. And others just happen. Family members get sick, challenges intensify, life gets more and more complicated, and the fact that complications seem to magnify in my presence isn't my "fault," persay. Sometimes I try to convince myself that people need to get through their challenges and maybe it just speeds up the process. But that really doesn't work. I've seen enough people start to get close to me and then have once-in-a-lifetime emotional breakdowns that I can't just sweep it under the rug.

But those aren't the worst.

I can forgive myself for the chaos I didn't directly cause in someone's life.

The worst are the things that I could have known better, should have known better. The mistakes I make because I'm human, mortal, and imperfect. Some are mundane - I text someone too many times, or use the wrong words in a conversation. Some are manageable - I forget people's names and, often, everything about them within less than a day unless I write it down in a note file on my phone. 

And some... these are the ones that keep me awake at night... some are things I do that are simply wrong. True sins, where my actions turn away from God and lead someone else down the path to darkness. I don't even feel comfortable writing them down. And even as I feel more comfortable, I tell myself that I can't place what they were, except for the most atrocious ones, because in the moment I am so deeply ashamed that I bury them in the furthest recesses of my mind.

As much as everyone sins, as imperfect as the entire world may be, the fact that *I* am a sometimes servant of darkness, and that *I* have marred, shattered, and destroyed people and potential close relationships in that role... that's a pain only God can take away.

The people stay. Burned indelibly in my mind are those whose lives and feelings and souls I've hurt. I might forget a friend in a day. But the people I hurt decades ago... I still remember. I still remember throwing a water polo ball at Jenny Welter's face. A moment killed what was there. I didn't realize we had been friends. Years later I still feel regret.

I'm sorry. I'm sorry for the enormous mistakes I make in life and relationships. I'm sorry for often being accompanied by chaos and change. I'm sorry for being imperfect, yet appearing normal. I'm sorry for building people up and then letting people down. I'm sorry for my sins, my inadequacies, my poor understanding of everything. I'm sorry for affecting lives and relationships and friendships and families. I'm sorry for everything I've done that has caused pain. To each of you, and especially those I care for most and your loved ones, I am sorry.

I can't promise I will make no more mistakes. On the contrary, being close to me will likely always bring turmoil... and I am woefully imperfect. But... and this takes effort for me to believe... it's worth it. I am worth it. A friendship with me is worth it to me, and worth it to even those I've hurt. And that's why I'm willing to try and try again.

Jagged rips
Fiery wounds
Caution blends with pain
Forearms tear and scratches burn
And yet I blunder on, believing.
The ache lingers
And then, within a moment,
Is quenched by the aroma
Of the rose.

Friday, June 9

5 Friends

Research by Robin Dunbar and other happiness researchers indicates that the happiest people have five friends that they can turn to for everything. Of the thousands of people I may recognize, the hundreds I may know, and the dozens who are a part of my life, five should be close enough to touch my heart and soul.

For most of my social existence, this paradigm has simply highlighted the loneliness that is my life. I've had friends, even close friends, but almost never those to which I could turn for everything in life.

Recently, however, I've come to believe that *everyone* - even chaotic, socially inept people like me - should be happy. That I should have close friends as well.

Hence 5 Friends.

I want to make 5 Friends - real friends - that can be a central part of my life.

I have no shortage of fears or qualms. The vast majority of my attempts to build friendships end catastrophically... and I don't think that's an exaggeration. I've been told on more than one occasion that being my friend was the most stressful and painful experience of a person's life. That fear, along with enormous failure rates, has made it hard for me to really make friends in the past.

But I'm going to do it.

And I believe I'll succeed. I'm already partway there.

To all the people that I meet in the days and years ahead, to all those who have crossed my path thus far, thank you for your help and patience along the path. I hope that you can help me learn and improve on my imperfections... and that the relationship we have, long- or short-lived, will lift you up.

Perhaps you'll even become a lifelong friend.

Alone I sail upon the sea
Its glass reflecting
The clouds above, the falling rain,
As tears upon the water.

Distantly the hail of welcome calls
And ships approach,
Their wooden bows beckoning
To stay the course and board.

There is no flag to hoist in warning.
But none would heed its code.
Only nearness can betray the water's guile.

No ship nearly normal 
Could ever hope to leave
Such utter chaos
As trails within my wake.

Broken masts
And cargo lost
Each a priceless shattered piece
To which I've no recourse

Is it folly, then, to think myself
In a future state
Capacious to calm the waves
That swirl around me?

Or somehow hope that sailors
Might see the unseen break
And navigate 
To closer, safer shoals?

Some break yet at a distance.
Some seem to almost breach.
And for each that makes the journey
I find pain.

And yet.

For each that makes the journey,
I let myself believe 
That one will pass.
And then another and another.
Until *we* will sail together
Upon the waving, stormy sea.

That there might somewhere be
Sailors on the sea
Like me.