Cut Up Towel

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Everything you do folds into everything else you do. Each moment of your life you are acting or reacting to other things, it is up to each of us to make the best out of what we have available to us.

The other day as my girlfriend and I were cleaning our house, we dragged a bunch of stuff out and cleaned up the bedroom, I worked on my office and we had decided to take a break, the following day in an effort to drum up some more inspiration to continue the cleaning project, she went to go clean my truck as how dirty it has gotten has begun to bother her. While she did this I went to work on some projects for Salt + Iron and she pulled this pink towel I’ve had for years out of a box. In it’s past life I’ve used it to wrap my consoles in when I brought them to other places. Since I’ve moved out and purchased a laptop, that isn’t necessary any more and It’s laid in the bottom of a backpack for a number of months. She asked if she could cut it up when she was cleaning and use the scraps as rags.

She went ahead and did it as I continued about my day and later that evening I went shopping with my mom, just to spend some time with her and talk about future plans for my life and my business and to get in some quality momma bear time. When we got back I invited her up to the apartment so that she could look over what we had been talking about and we talked about it briefly. Before she left, she noticed the towel still on the plastic table in our living room and turned to me. Her voice almost quivering as she asked me.

“Did you guys cut this up?”

I nodded and said yes, when she told me that it was a wedding present from her brother. 30+ years she had held on to that towel and the rest of the set he had gifted him, long after Montie had passed away and she had shared the stories of his life with her.

As she was explaining that it was a gift from my late uncle I felt a sudden burst of anger, a feeling that I should have known better. That I should have had my girlfriend rip up a different towel, or a T-shirt I don’t wear anymore. Anything but that towel.

I apologized immediately, furious with myself because I should have known better. There was a reason I dragged it around with me and didn’t ever get rid of it. I should have trusted my instincts. I didn’t, because I didn’t remember. I didn’t recall the importance of the towel, if any resided within the cotton still. I had no idea why I dragged it around, assuming at the time that it was just there because it was ratty and old and I didn’t feel a need to use it for drying myself off anymore.

Still, I apologized. Knowing how much small things mean to me, I could only imagine what it meant to my mother that these towels would remain intact. It was a physical representation of her brother and I had given my girlfriend the go ahead to slice them up.

After momma left the apartment I talked to my girl about it, she was really upset that we had ruined something that held so much intrinsic value to my mom. I was upset too, and somewhere in my heart there was this thing tugging at me, knowing the feeling of making a mistake as it clawed at the inside of my head.

I returned to my office to continue working and sat down at my desk, unable to focus on my work. It was a towel, of course, it was silly, but it wasn’t just the fact that it was a towel. Just like my grandfather’s pocket knife. It wasn’t just a knife. It was my grandpa’s. I try to take delicate care of those things in my life, because I know how much the memory means to me. I don’t often keep pictures. I keep fragments of memories that rest in shelves or in cases, between the pages of books that tell stories of my grandfather and my friends. The concerts I’ve been to reborn as bookmarks to keep the new stories I read wrapped tightly within memories. The shirts I wore to concerts worn down to slivered threads with each wash as I keep them and drag them to shreds, remembering what I did as I wore them. Hats and beanies my mother have made stick on a rack until I need them again to hold my unkempt hair together.

Memories surround me. The stone I keep in my pocket that I panic when I lose was given to me by my mom years ago. My tools a gift from my father. My words, each and every one, a composed structure that was given to me by my family. The small bead keychain I don’t keep on my keys because I’m afraid I will shatter it. The tickets from dates with my girlfriend and more all revolve around my life. Many of them hung and pinned to the calendar hanging above my main computer where I do my writing. All of them hung there as memories and keepsakes of moments in my life that I look back on often when I am lost and when I am afraid.

How could I have thought so carelessly about a towel? I wondered.

So I penned an apology to my mom. Promising that we wouldn’t cut it up and we would use it with great care in the future. When she responded, I didn’t expect the answer, though I know my mother well enough now to know that I should have.

2018.6.1- CUT IMG

It made me think about my life and how I just use things. I use people’s kindness to my benefit when I need assistance. I use their trust when I want to gossip. I use the items I’ve been so graciously given by those in my life like they are just similar pieces to an ever-expanding puzzle. I allow things to come and go freely between my heart and mind without consideration of where it came from.

I thought about the weight of the towel as I held it in my hands the next day and realized that I don’t carry the weight of what we all do quite enough. Each word we say and each thought we entertain creates who we are. As time goes on, we become worn and battered, meant to be a gift to those around us. Not one to be squandered and tossed away. We aren’t impractical. If the life we share is a wedding. We are not picture frames, not ceramic vases. We are not these things that are meant to hang on walls and be looked at. We are so much more practical. We are towels to clean wounds, to rinse the rainwater off our friends. We are rags to soak up oil and we are much more simple gifts to one another. In their eternal search for purpose and meaning. We are a simple gift, sent from one home to the next to provide a service to them that they cannot get elsewhere.

Will a bookshelf soak the tar of life from the carpet of your home? Will a cell phone clean the wine stain from your dress?

Will an unused word grow the hope of another bride or groom, wandering the soil alone and searching for purpose?

No, it won’t. It never will.

Not until we look at one another as the truly simplistic and still incredibly complicated gifts that we all are. The gifts we all have to give are wildly unique and special. We cannot see it any other way if we want to live meaningfully, with purpose and most importantly, with immeasurable hope.

The next time you brandish scissors in your hand, consider your own use. Are you a gift, practical and useful in your application? Can you survive the next 31 years doing your duty, or will you wither on the shelf as you fill your soul with temporary decorations that can easily be destroyed by a rampant fire of pain or a few days without the water of life?

If your answer is the latter, consider my uncle’s towels for a moment.

Find your purpose.

Pick the scissors up if you need to, but whatever you do. Whether you slice apart the towel or not, consider what it came from. The life that it gifted and the worlds it changed so effortlessly with groundbreaking thoughts and compassionate speech.

Cut the towel, or don’t.

Whatever your life will have you choose,

Live it with a smile.

If you enjoyed this, consider checking out my website where you can see when I will be uploading next! (Every Wednesday + Friday.)

www.linmtba.com

Still Try (Poem)

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In the event that you find yourself at the end of the rope, the saying goes “tie a knot and hold on.” But I think that we can strive to do more than that. Simply tying a knot and hoping we don’t fall to the depths is fine enough, and some nights it is all you can do. Believe me, I’ve been there. But that doesn’t change the fact that we can, and should, push forward and try to climb. Progression is not our enemy. Accomplishing the impossible is not something to sweep beneath the rug. If it seems impossible to get out of bed in the morning, and you do it…

Look at that. You’ve done your first impossible thing for the day. Can you imagine how much more “impossibility” is out there?

2018.5.30- Still Try

Thank you for another month. I’m filled with joy that you’d find yourself here to read what I’ve written. If you want to see more, browse the tags on the blog page or check my website tomorrow! I’ll have uploaded the schedule for June on the News + Updates page for your viewing pleasure.

www.linmtba.com

Painted Canvas Kids

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This blog post is (on time, thankfully) and about how we sometimes put pressure onto others for the things we want to accomplish in our own lives. I hope that if you need to hear this, you will stick around today.

Life comes with a lot of pressure. That pressure can be too much for some of us to handle on our own, the desires to become famous or to be an author or a musician, to life a good and fulfilling life or to simply survive another day. We all face them and we all have to come to terms with those pressures whether we want to do so or not. So we find whatever way we can to accomplish those things and move on to the next day.

I have friends with amazing plans and dreams, and those dreams come with boat loads of pressure as well, which they handle flawlessly. It stumps me because it seems as if every other day I’m drinking coffee at 3 A.M. and trying to stave off the impending emotional breakdown that is knocking at my door.

Still, I see this in families too.

I see parents who dedicate their entire lives to seeing their children succeed. Which in turn flips those kids to rebellion and intentionally walking away from the dreams their parents had set out for them in order to forge their own paths. Those are the people I want to talk to today. You, whoever you are that is reading this, may not be a kid. You may be older than me and still trying to figure out how to escape the shadow that your parents build for you. I want you to listen to this and take it to heart today.

My mother is a writer and a poet much like myself. She raised me in that world. When I was two or three years old she was reading me Edgar Allan Poe for bed. She cultivated the creativity in my mind when I asked her to paint with me. When we crafted sculptures together. My father played his hand there too. He helped me build model rockets and he taught me how to drive RC cars. He gave me all of the tools that I would need to grow through those small adventures. Never once did my parents expect me to become what they were. I may have inherited the same passion for writing that my mother had, but it was of my own volition. They know as well as I do that if they had pre-decided a path for my life to take that I would have turned on my heel and walked the other way, whistling a tune on my lips as I went. I don’t like authority, which is no secret. I especially don’t like when people tell me the things that I “have” to do.

So I am writing this from somewhat of an estranged bedroom to the rest of the people like myself. We all have our own passions and goals in life. However, I have seen in part, some parents who expect their kids to do specific things. Whether that mentality is carried down through tradition or arrogance, I believe that it is wrong.

We are not raised in this world so that we can bring children in and have them walk the exact same path that we did. We should encourage our children to learn and to experience life in their own ways rather than walk down the same previously trodden path that we had. I won’t urge my children to become writers or bloggers. I won’t try to entice them with the feelings that I get from my career.

The reasoning behind this is simple, those kids won’t be me.

I am wildly creative and I was raised to have a well of willpower to draw from when my world gets dark, but that won’t be the case with my children as it is not the case with everyone. We must allow the new generations to come and to make their own choices and mistakes if we truly wish to continue our society as it is today.

I know a man who is working at the mines today, which is a great job to have. Especially if you are supporting a family and want to make tons of money. I don’t fault anyone for that. However, I know he is only working there because his father put so much pressure on him from his childhood to grow up and make money. His sole purpose, it seems, was to feed his child to the gnashing jaws of the mining industry and let him sort himself out within the bowels. I find it sad. Not in some kind of bullshit postmodernist kind of way. I don’t think that he should not make money just because it’s the trendy thing to think today. In fact, I have the same level of confusion when the argument is brought to me that we should intentionally be broke forever. It doesn’t make sense to me, just the same as the people whose only choice in life is to become rich. Still, this man that I know, openly hates where he works. He complains regularly and wants to quit, but doesn’t. When I asked him why he doesn’t pick up and do the thing he wants to do, he told me that his father would be angry with him.

I sat there, soaking in the conversation between two twenty somethings who are at radically different places in life, as this man told him that his father would be angry if he went on to pursue the things that truly made him happy. I was bewildered. Of course, I couldn’t say that aloud to him. If he reads this I hope that he knows I mean well.

But that is dumb.

My father has encouraged me to carve my own path, but has always reminded me that I need to be able to support myself. He has grown within me the idea that money is important, but it is not the end all be all. He has also encouraged my growth as an artist because he knows that it is what I want and it is more than that, being an artist is who I am. I never really understood how much of an impact it had on me until I spoke with my friend about his relationship with his own father.

A man who was raised in a rough home, who later found a wife and moved to Nevada so that he could work in the mines. The paychecks were just what he needed to feel safe in starting a family, and he then gave birth to a son who he loved with everything inside of him and raised that boy the best way he knew how. Through his childhood my friend came to understand that his father wanted the best for him. That having a secure checking account was one of the easiest ways to do so. Who repeatedly explained to his son that the music and sports that he loved so much in high school were simply hobbies. That there was no money in those careers. So this boy grew and adopted the mentality of his father and when he graduated, he began work in the same industry that his father had before him. Overjoyed, his father celebrated while the boy threw away his dreams of pursuing a degree in music composition. A field, which I have friends in currently.

I don’t fault this father. He wanted his son to grow up secure and safe, so that he could have all of the things that he didn’t when he was a child. Still, it saddens me inside, because it has been months since my friend has put fingers to the ivory keys of his piano. It has been months since he has written a song, or a lyric. It has been months since I have seen his texts to me, telling me that he had just written a song that he wanted me to hear. It has been months since I’ve really heard the joys in his life.

That breaks my heart.

Not because he is in a secure place, no, I am happy for that. The romance of a starving artist is a deadly romance to be sure. It is not what I would recommend to any one of my friends. I am sad about this, because he loved something so much, and it was crushed by the dreams of his father. This broke my heart in so many ways, and reminded me to be thankful for the father I have. That he has always supported and encouraged my growth, but reminded me to keep my wits about me.

So, to you, reading this today. If you are under the thumb of someone else, telling you how you should live, know that you are a part of a larger group. All of you painted ontot he world with love and so much beautiful potential. That you were laid upon this confusing and scary canvas to live a life that you love. To not be tied to a concept you don’t believe in. Don’t work a job just because someone tells you to. Don’t be the person who whines about how much they hate their job and yet do nothing to find one you love. Don’t be the one who throws away their love of reading or painting or woodworking because you just need to make money. Don’t ever give up on your dreams. You were a child painted on a canvas, and you were supposed to be beautiful.

The beauty drains from you with each day you subject yourself to that torture.

Get out. Peel yourself off and paint your life on a new canvas. Do what you love, because you love it. Find a way to make your passions your paychecks, and live. Truly live, because that is what you were meant for.

Thank you for reading this post. New content will be out every Wednesday + Friday from now on. Thank you for lending me your eyes for a time.

For more info on upcoming projects and blog updates, please follow me @alvatobiasbooks on Facebook + Twitter!

Mean Shadows, my latest book, will be releasing Dec. 24th. You can pre-order it here. (If you’d like to get it as a gift, please order before the 18th of Dec. and they will arrive just in time for you to wrap and deliver to someone you love, so that the shadows don’t catch them either.)