In the event of a collision, brace yourself on the nearest passion or friend or purpose and hold on.
Nothing can destroy you.
Often times I am reminded of the steadfast and stalwart parents who raised me. Parents who looked the biggest struggles of their lives eye to eye and refused to blink in a way that often I don’t think I could do. That being said, my family is 100% the reason I am the same way today.
Of course, like everyone there are moments when I am faced with something that pulls at my soul in a way I never want to feel and I will feel the sliver of shivers run through my bones but that does not change something integral about my personality.
Something my mother and father both instilled in me from a young age.
Once, I locked myself out of the house in the middle of winter. My parents were visiting friends and though I had gone into my room. So they locked the door behind me as I went about my snow angel business. When I was finished freezing in the snow banks in our front yard I went to go back inside and found that the door wouldn’t open. I pounded on it and called for my parents or their friends, praying that I’d be heard and they would hear me.
They didn’t. I was terrified, and when the realization set in that I was likely going to die out in my yard I took things into my own hands and decided to make an attempt to get back inside. Eventually, I knew my parents friends would leave. So I hopped the fence to the front yard and met the garage door and the front door, pounding on them until my hands bruised. I sat there like that for a while until eventually those inside came up from the basement to let me inside. Turns out they had been in the basement and couldn’t hear me calling them.
As you can see, this story doesn’t necessarily end with me getting out of a sticky situation myself. It’s true, I relied on my parents then but I am older now, though still relying on them for much more than I’d like, I also know that there are things in my life that I will not have them behind me for. So, it is in these moments where I should think of the possibilities… what happens when we don’t have those who regularly support us there to lift us up anymore?
We should take our problems by the throat into our own bruised hands.
Choke those demons in front of you and throw them away.
Of course it won’t always be easy, but everything can be broken into smaller projects. Everything can be taken down to the small grains of sand that collected together to form a stone. It took super heat and energy but eventually every new diamond emerges from its old shell of coal.
I lost my job in the fall.
I was denied for something like nine jobs I had applied to, the rest beyond the nine rejections simply didn’t reply to my application.
I didn’t write a single successful piece for any of the writing anthologies I had taken.
I was faced with the massive challenge of picking up at perhaps the lowest point of 2017. I didn’t let on much that I was struggling so hard but I was. This year ended in a whirlwind of extreme joy and immense pressure.
I wonder what other material shares the same qualities, bringing extreme joy and enduring immense pressure.
Every event we are faced with demands a solution. Every problem and every scenario has an ending, it is up to us to determine where that ending lies and how we will get to it.
This brings me back to my parents, who, although occasionally frustrating, each of them made certain that this concept was chiseled into my memory with not one stroke misaligned.
My dad would regularly tell me I needed to get into a stable career, something to make sure I had the money I needed to do the things that I wanted. Of course, at the time I blew off this notion. It didn’t matter then what I did or how I did it. I would find a way. Of course that is still true today, but I’ve discovered that there is another step.
Find something you love.
We all need work. We all have a passion and a skill. No one can truly float along life without money, as much as it frustrates me that we base our entire lives around the mental weight of green paper we must obtain it to continue living. There will always be a way to make money, and money will always have a purpose. Of course, money doesn’t necessarily mean bills and coins. It could be gold or supplies. There will always be a use for some sort of tender, some sort of item that we can trade around.
This concept was lost on me until I grew up a bit and started working, finding a job that I loved. The food industry. I ate up every shift I was given, bathing in the joy of cooking or bartending, absorbing every interaction with customers good or bad. Some days I needed to vent, but that is a part of life. It is another one of those struggles I was always told about. My dad’s words were much more important than I first realized, and they still held a meaning that I hadn’t gleaned as I grew older. A job is not just a place to be for a few hours. It isn’t just a way to make a living. Since I started working in restaurants I have had a desire to do nothing but that while I write. Cooking, baking, serving, all of the things involving food appeal to me. It makes me happy on a base level.
Still, the point of what pops told me so many times was that it was a stepping stone. If I had that outlet, that passion, that place to go to do something I loved, it would help me face down bigger challenges I would eventually face. The same can be said for most things. If you have something you are passionate about, please, right now I urge you to go commit to it. Draw yourself into the loop of that passion. Woodworking, reading, writing, art, making YouTube videos. Whatever it is. Dentistry, coding, marketing, business management, sewage containment. Everyone has a purpose and a joy to be fulfilled in their working life and too few are able to do it successfully. Embrace that thing and go for it, full speed ahead. Challenges will come, you must face them. It is nice to have an island of sanctuary when you need it.
My mother, on the other hand always told me to finish what I started. I once joined the youth soccer team and I absolutely hated it. I was chubby and didn’t like to run. I wasn’t good at soccer and so I stood on the field for most of my play time. I picked my nose and watched the ball go back and forth as it came close to me and rolled away. I came home one evening begging to quit because I hated it so much, but mom told me no. I started it, I needed to finish it.
Eventually the season was over and I didn’t sign up again, but I learned something valuable. Things are always in motion. I played defense, which was remarkable because I was so poor at defending. It’s hard to focus on kicking the ball when you have your finger in your brain stem. Still, things moved. That soccer ball moved, your obstacles will move. You will be able to progress and you will be able to take knowledge from each moment you live.
Those things have been instilled in me since I was just a boy, and I will never forget them.
When things become difficult, when faced with something insurmountable remember that you are not Atlas. You are not a god. You are a man, and man has something remarkable about him.
We don’t give up.
So don’t give up.
Take your bruised hands and start to push. If pushing doesn’t work, kick. If that fails, find a new path. There will always be a way around. There will always be a way out. There will always be a new obstacle and there will always,
Be a way for you to overcome it.
All you have to do is start moving.
Before I get to the post today, I promised you a couple things from Wednesday. Sorry if it was a tad bit misleading, I wasn’t about to shout out some cool stuff if I wasn’t sure it was happening, but here we are.
So, first of all, I’ve been releasing a few shirts over on Teespring for Random Acts Creations. Year One through Year Four shirts/hoodies/v-necks are available now + I don’t plan on pulling the stock ever. I’m working behind the scenes to release a spring line towards the middle of April this year. It will be full of rad stuff like hoodies, T-shirts, and phone cases. (There is more but Imma keep some of it a secret!)
Second, I’ll be releasing a compilation of poetry from the blog itself (edited and updated, I promise.) Some of em were pretty rough around the edges but They’re shaping up nicely + you’ll be hearing more about them towards the third quarter of the year.
Third, I’ll be putting out another blog compilation this November, Year Five is going to come with a lil bonus though, I don’t want to give you too much about it, but I’ll tell ya you might want to keep some space available on your wall. 😉
All of that being said, if you’ve made it this far, you can check out my website, freshly updated and looking super fly to see my release schedule every single month. I’ll have days scheduled for blogs, poetry, YouTube videos + anything else I’m doing. Don’t think I’ve been forgetting about some of the older stuff you all loved. Over on the S+I Facebook page i’ll be bringing more happiness and inspiration than ever before. Snapchat will be live with some new tutorials just for kicks and I have SO much more. 2018 is just getting started and your favorite hippy is swinging harder than ever.
Best believe that.
It’s funny how they say time is money when we are so reluctant to spend time but we will freely throw away our time. Before I get into this week, I hope that you spend much more time this week than you do money, it is so much more valuable and so much more appreciated.
Last week I was having a conversation getting to know a new coworker and discovering their interests when they told me something I have said to others. We were talking about his passions and his dreams and he told me that he wanted to travel, he was going to set up a motorhome and just drive around the country in the next three years. That his dream was to see every state in the US and then he continued by saying something I have said countless times before.
“I know it seems stupid…”
Right before he launched into the description of his dream since he was a child, he wanted to touch every piece of dirt in the USA and he looked away from me in shame as he told me that.
It rang a bell inside of me that has been softly ringing since the day I picked up a pen.
I remember when I was that kid, unsure of my future with lofty goals and dreams, this grand desire to be all that I am working to become, an author, a YouTuber, a poet, a musician, a business owner, a chef, a friend and a blogger among so many other things. I remember being in that exact same place, telling others that my dreams sound stupid.
That was before I found The Buried Life, I’ve written about the show before + in case you’re new around here and have been hiding under a rock, they set out with this idea to cross off items from a collective bucket list and along the way help others cross one item off of theirs. The show + corresponding book inspired me so much that I decided to do the same.
It’s funny how these things that cross over into my head overlap so often. It is a still small reminder that my purpose is clearly defined and I cannot stop building for it, fighting for it and praying for guidance along the way.
I lost my job and began to panic about making money, how I could support myself still, how I could keep moving forward and what I could do to pay my bills, when I was provided for as if by magic I silently prayed a thanks and kept moving, without realizing that I had begun orienting my time beneath making money. The time I spent with friends decreased, the time I spent working increased and I began to trip up a lot, wondering if I was worth it or whatever.
Well that’s some shit if I’ve ever heard it.
Talking to my friend I was reminded of the madness that my life has become and how I enjoy every last second, every last wasted cent, every last smile and tight embrace between myself and those that I love.
This life is so much more than we always think it is. In the midst of darkness, for you or me, there is always light. You have your purpose and I hope that you consider it if you feel lost today. You have dreams and goals somewhere within you, you have a calling and there is no greater sin than wasting you valuable time.
Spend it instead, searching for the next step and moving forward. If you want to become an author, start writing. Streaming on Twitch? Download the app and go. There is no back tracking as long as you are aware that you are accomplishing goals and dreams with every new step you take. So don’t stop stepping.
Just get out there, climb in your motorhome and hit the road. We have a long list of items to work through, it is going to take a minute…
…and every minute will be worth it.
Thank you so much for reading.
As a young man my parents would share music with me, their tastes blended with mine and allowed me to evolve the complicated mix on interests that I choose to listen to, even to this day. My music library is well over 100,000 songs and steadily grows as each album release season comes and goes. I have been a fan of many things over the years for many reasons, but there are some artists who will always stand out above the rest. Rush, from my father. The band that was instrumental in creating my passion for music, Coheed & Cambria, He Is Legend, Maylene, Watsky, so on and so forth.
However, among these artists there is a particular one that I want to talk about today. Carman. For those of you who don’t know, Carman is a contemporary Christian musician who has been releasing albums for somewhere around 30 years. Many of his songs encompass the cheesy and over the top dramatization of the Christian faith, with a twangy country styled piece called “Step of Faith” about believing that the plan is laid out for us, and we need to trust in Christ. There is “The Champion” which takes the final moments of Christ’s life and makes them into a title fight for the souls of the universe, with God in the announcer’s box calling the plays of the battle. The “Soap Song” Which is an evangelical piece based around the titles of various soap operas. Then, the one I’ve been railing into my mind lately, “No Monsters.”
I’ve spoken to you about monsters and magic and dragons. I’ve talked about personal demons and so much more, but this song is something incredibly special to me. The premise is that a young man who has seen horror shows on the television is being afflicted by the spirits that he saw, taunting him and terrifying him, in the form of an alligator man and a serial killer cannibal. These demons infest his home and torment the boy as he is trying to sleep and to combat them, he turns to the biblical teaching of calling on the name of Jesus to turn them away.
As I was listening to Carman a few days ago and talking to my mom about stress levels and how frustrated I am at some of the avenues and dragons that had popped up into my life, she told me that “No Monsters” applies to real monsters and demons too. Not just the ones I’ve made up in my head. By that, she meant to tell me that I need to focus more on my faith and my relationship with Christ as opposed to delving so deep into my own head to manage how I feel and figure out what I need to do.
See, every point of pride or sorrow or shame or worse in our lives can form a chink in our armor which will inevitably be attacked by evil. I find new scratches in mine every day, and when I do, sure as I’m living and breathing something grotesque will rear its head and try to destroy me. The fears of failure and ineptitude, the greed of desiring more money than I would ever need, the pride of knowing I am right about something, the jealousy when someone gets a bit too close to my garden. These thoughts and feelings are accompanied by evil spirits that float around my head, more often than not I let their taunting and deceit get to me when I truly shouldn’t.
This same concept can apply to you, even if you aren’t religious. Consider the story of the wolves. It is (possibly) a Native American folk tale about two wolves that are fighting within you, one embodies all good, love, joy, kindness, patience, peace and more. The other is the wolf that carries in its coat the evil in the world, jealousy, hatred, anger, impatience, lust and the rest. A young man asks the elder who wins the fight and the elder replies,
“Whichever one you feed.”
So, to wrap this up for you today, this world is filled with evil that is always going to be at your throat. Each new problem, new point of stress is just another bastion for the battalion of destruction to gain access to your fortress. When that happens, and trust me, it will, just stop moving so fast for a few seconds, look the evil in the eyes and tell it that it cannot defeat you.
No monsters are welcome in your fortress, and you should do well to remember that. You and I are building them as each day passes and they don’t belong here.
Fill it with love instead.
If you want more Polar Bear King love, check out my website!
Christmas is almost here! I hope you are all having a wonderful time. I’m still getting over this sick business that decided to set up shop last week. My Christmas celebrations will likely be really laid back. I hope that you all have the most wonderful celebrations that you could have, regardless of the holidays you are celebrating. Only a couple more posts for this year that I am excited to bring to you.
We are close to a tribe of people who we are supposed to love and cherish, daughters and fathers, sisters, cousins. It has been on my mind a lot lately, the idea of a family. That my mother and father are my whole world and that my grandparents were the world to them. The bonds that we find with our family seem so strong, but can be so quickly severed. Those cuts may come quickly, but they are certainly not painless. I still have some people in my life who I will sucker punch should I see them again.
Growing up, I think we have this great picture of our extended family that is painted for us. Fearful to reveal the horrors of the world to the children, the adults painted a picture of peace and happiness with us. Some friends of mine didn’t even get that luxury. Their life at home was strife and worry and sadness always. I want you to know that you are not alone in it. Every family has secrets.
At the beginning of December, I went on a trip with my mother and grandmother to visit some family across the country. As we went and I met these people for the second time feeling as if it was the first, I heard all kinds of stories. My mom took me around in Kansas and showed me where my great grandma once lived and where I played as a park when I was a young pup. I watched as one of my relatives lit a cigarette right next to his oxygen tank and panicked briefly, afraid it was going to blow up. After the fourth or fifth cigarette, I was less worried about dying.
I heard stories from my family that I thought I would never hear. Things that would be hard to believe even if I had written about them. I came to smile and laugh with them when my mind was in the conversation and sit back in awe of their lives when it wasn’t. This trip was the echoing voice in the back of my head, whispering that the world around me is not what I believe it to be. That I have a lot of work to do. Hearing stories of bitterness and greed and tall tales galore from these people I have only met once before rang a bell in my head.
All families have their secrets. All families have things that never see the light of day.
Mine is not excluded from that, but as my mom came to pick me up from the airport in SLC and take me to a convenience store for some snacks, I fell into a pensive mood. We talked about the trip and our plans to leave the following morning and I recollected all of the things I had experienced from my family on the trip. My mind spun back to my father’s side of the family, who have grown tense as the years passed from my grandparents deaths. I remembered the conversations, the faces, the things said to my father. I remember the stories that my grandparents told and I remembered all of the things that I don’t think I was supposed to know when I did. All the stories I was told perhaps a bit too young.
Then I thought of my friends. Some of whom I had been growing tiresome of. My mind was getting tired of the antics and this or that about them, and as I slapped a frosted red velvet cookie on the counter and asked the cashier for a pack of smokes, I thought of one friend in particular, watching his family go through what my family had gone through a few years back.
The only difference is that his family was much closer than mine was. So the struggle hurts him and I can see it. It brought the conversation into my head as we drove home and I grabbed my things from the car and entered the hotel room. Family is difficult, it is confusing, but there is always hope.
I say something often, because I enjoy the way it sounds. An old saying that has been mutilated to mean something different.
“The blood of bond is thicker than the water of the womb.”
Meaning, the family that you choose is more important than the family you are born into. You can choose the family you were born into as well, and I have, but I took a deep breath as I remembered I chose every single person in my life today.
I chose them all, despite their demons and their monsters, because no matter who you are, or where you come from…
Every family can be haunted, even if only by a few spirits.
Today is the LAST DAY to preorder MEan Shadows and get the super rad bookmarks that come with the book! It releases TOMORROW MORNING + I hope that all of you have your copies snagged. You can find them here.
Follow me on Facebook + Twitter @alvatobiasbooks for information on updates and new blog posts. 🙂
This blog post might seem a bit confusing, but it came from a real place to me. I have always touted about being there for others and being someone to lean on, but that can’t be done when I’m too wrapped up inside of my own heart to look around and see who might need a hug or a kind word. I don’t want to do that, because that isn’t what Grandpa would have done. He would have loved. So I will too.
Things have been moving so fast lately, I’ve hardly had time to stop and look at myself in the mirror. I’ve been out of Elko four times in the past two months, making a few trips. I’ve just moved into a new place and I’m getting prepped to get another job so that I can actually afford living where I am currently. Through all of this, I have been wrapped up in my own problems. I’m not writing my books fast enough, I’m not publish blogs consistently (oops) I’m not doing so and so in whatever timeframe I needed it done and it’s been bothering me so I’m constantly trying to get myself back up to speed. This, coupled with working and getting some freelance jobs started has caused me to fall behind in other aspects of my life.
For example, I haven’t had a sit down with my friends in weeks, to just talk about our lives. A couple of them are going through some pretty rough patches and I realized the other day that I haven’t had time to bring it up or see if they were okay. I haven’t played my guitar in months. I haven’t done anything remotely relaxing since November of last year. That’s not to say that I haven’t been relaxing, don’t get me wrong I’ve used a lot of my time pretty poorly. It hasn’t relaxed me, it’s just stressed me out because I can’t seem to stay caught up because of the lack of focus.
Regardless, that isn’t what I’m here to talk about. I’m here to talk about grandparents.
Recently, a friend of mine lost his grandfather, and due to my busy schedule I realized a week ago that I haven’t asked him how he is doing. I’ve been so wrapped up in my own shit that I’ve kind of glossed over it.
It makes me think of my own grandfather, who has already passed. I took his first name to use as a pen name. I did this because I wanted to honor him with the things that I do, but I asked myself something this weekend.
How can I say that is what I want, when that is not what I’ve done?
My grandpa was kind and strong. He cared about so many things and he loved so many more. I sat down at our campsite on the 21st and really looked at my life, all of the things I’m doing and the things I’m not. I weighed them against my backbone question, the one I always ask myself.
What advice would Grandpa give me in this situation?
Well, I can’t know for sure but I have a pretty decent idea. I know that he wouldn’t let something this important pass by him. He would be there, and he would love that person and make them know they are loved. He would stand by them and he wouldn’t let his own problems or his own thoughts come first until he knew his friend was taken care of.
I’ve contemplated a lot about my life within the last week. Watching my best friend get married was a huge thing for me and it really made me think. I’ve been waiting around for something that isn’t going to appear on its own. I haven’t really been taking my life seriously. If I have been anything, I’ve been a seagull waiting for a fisherman to give me some squid so I don’t have to hunt for food on my own.
I am not a seagull.
If my grandpa taught me anything about this life, he taught me to stand up and be strong. When I was a kid, he would always draw the KU Jayhawk. I have colored in more pictures of that damn bird than I could recollect today, but now when I think of it, it reminds me how important it was meant to be.
I would always color when I was sad. Grandpa would draw something and he’d give it to me to color. I didn’t put the pieces together then, because he was the one who was always putting the pieces together. I would just fill them in.
Today, I have to do both jobs. It’s not easy by a long shot. Still, I know that my grandpa is out there drawing all kinds of horses and Jayhawks in heaven and waiting for me to come home.
Until then, I’m going to remember what it meant to color those pictures in. I’m going to learn what it takes to draw them. I am meant to carry on a legacy of great men. My grandfather, my own father. There are so many, and I don’t think any of them would have let their own personal struggles hamper them from being a friend or loving their brothers. It is important to me that I pick up my crayons today and color in someone else’s picture, if it will help them, I will do what I can to put the pieces together.
Even if it seems like the pieces will be impossible to find.
I was always told the importance of dirty shoes, because it means I work. So… I’ll take that lesson from my grandpa and I will put those dirty shoes on, climb down into the mud with my crayons and color things, even if we are knee deep in terrible.
I will be there for you.
Just like my grandpa was, and is, still here for me.
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This is the second poem you didn’t get this month because of my scheduling issues. I was sitting around my house one day + out of nowhere I started thinking about my cousin who passed away a while back and I couldn’t stop, I was filled with a kind of sadness and I needed to write it out. Here is the product.
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