Last week I had the pleasure of finally returning to my family’s camping spot out in the middle of nowhere. It has been my favorite place to be since I was a little boy + that admiration has only grown with age. Due to work I was unfortunately only able to stay for one day, but that day was more than what I needed. I’ve always gone camping when my batteries need recharging, or rather, my parents always seem to plan the trips at the perfect times for me to recharge my batteries. .There is nothing better for the mind than sitting in the middle of a desert + staring up into the sky to see just how small we really are. It is humbling, and awe inspiring. It is the perfect remedy to the hustle of my day to day life, and this trip was no different.
This year, my parents had invited a couple friends of theirs out on to the playa to experience it with us. One of them, Jen, brought one of her sons + her husband out with her. The night I had rolled in, everyone had already gone to sleep but the following night after meeting Jen + Jeff and their son, as well as Terri + Jim, the other friends of my parents we enjoyed our day. We camped and told stories and rode four wheelers and all of the traditional stuff. Eventually night had fallen + we settled around the camp fire to roast marshmallows, olives + starburst. This time has always been my favorite time in any camping session. There is something magical about a ring of people beside a fire that are simply experiencing life together. There are no deadlines, there are no fees, there is nothing stopping you from enjoying nature and that has always meant so much to me.
Eventually, our talking evolved into yawning as some of the others went to bed one by one until the only ones left were my parents, Jeff (Jen’s husband.) and myself.
We were talking about the youth of today and our pros and cons, my parents were telling stories from their youth and I was reveling in it all, realizing then that it had been so long since I had stopped to simply listen to someone. My mind has become so busy and full of to-do lists and deadlines that I have stopped listening to the world around me. I took some time to get into their stories and really hear what they were saying. As we continued talking, the conversation revolved into my love life + other small aspects of what I was up to. I replied, and then after a few more words Jeff said something that struck a chord within me.
It’s no secret that I am busy. It’s no secret that I make excuses for myself so that I don’t have to put myself out on the line in any way unless I’m sure of the outcome. It has done great for taking the fear out of life, but then again, why am I living if I am not afraid of something? Fear is the most powerful motivation to me, I’m afraid I won’t finish all of these books. I’m afraid I won’t impact people the way I want to. I’m afraid. I realized in part through Jeff’s words that night that I have been reeling back in my personal fears. I have been hiding from the monsters that haunt me instead of standing my ground and taunting them to find me in the open. I have been hiding from them on their turf, and they have been playing with me.
In short, I have been stagnant.
I hate stagnation.
Jeff was talking about relationships and finding women and how he handled the scenarios. He is a pretty straightforward guy and has no pause when telling you what he thinks. He went on about how he had been slapped more times than he could count and then he said a couple things that resonated with me.
“Either they will or they won’t. You’ll get a yes or a no. If it’s no, you can move on with it. Sometimes you might get slapped or something but that doesn’t mean it needs to hurt you. Too many guys get all upset about rejection. It’s not hard. She says no, pick up and move on.” In regards to asking women on dates etc.
“You can’t be picky. You just have to find someone that you love and that you want to support. That’s all there is. She can have the biggest boobs you’ve ever seen but they’ll still be gone in forty years.”
In regards to ‘finding the right woman’
Both of these things hit me hard, most because he didn’t pause in saying them like he was worried about what we would say in return. He just put his opinion out there and in a world where it is so hard to have an opinion without being slaughtered publicly, it was refreshing to hear. I know you’re thinking that I’m going to continue spinning this into a post about relationships but I’ve spoken about it too many times these past couple years. While I’ve taken this advice to heart for that topic, it reaches farther than that.
Things change. Things will always change, but it is up to us to keep our fires burning. No one else can watch our watch towers in our stead. All of the things that we start, demand us to finish. This goes for relationships, jobs, mentality, promises, all of it. If you make the choice to step up to the plate and expose yourself you have no honor if you back out before the answer has been given.
There are so many places in my life where I have asked something that I was unsure of and I bailed before getting an answer. I get into my own head too easily. That’s part of who I am. I ask a girl out, I bail before she has a chance to answer because I’m too scared of being rejected. I submit for a job or a fellowship and worry myself to tears because I believe that I’m not good enough to get it.
This spiraling thought process has to escape me. Or rather, I need to stand up and slam it into the ground. This year has been about fighting fears. It’s easy to get swallowed up by them. I know. Life can taunt you and tease you and torture you some days, and you can stand in the corner cowering on your own…
You’ll never win that way.
So I’m going to light my own watchtowers and I’m going to guard them, with confidence, with love and with honor. There is nothing I need to do more.