Dark Marks on Tall Trees

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I made a big deal about this announcement last Sunday, but, just kidding its happening THIS Sunday. Oops. I had a couple surprise things to get in order.

If you like the blog, you’ll want to tune into my YouTube Channel on Sunday evening. I’ve got a big thing I want to show you.

(Don’t worry, its pretty much 100% G rated.)

I’ve been thinking about my attitude lately. I have been really unappreciative of the things I have been given and the life I am allowed to lead. Reading over some tweets and other various social media posts from people in my life has lent to this realization. There are plenty of old friends populating my Facebook timeline who are having kids, getting married and more wonderful things, on the other hand there are plenty of people who are dragging their knuckles around through the consequences of their own choices, there are those who were dealt a supremely bad hand and have had to fight over their own fists to claw their name in the sand and then… there is me.

I often take for granted the life I lead. I want for nothing. I am able to freely express myself through my writing. I don’t depend on anything to process my emotions, I have a support system that is beyond my imaginable dreams. I have a family and friends who are so wonderful I couldn’t’ ask for better. I have a roof and I have a place to sleep every night, yet…

I still allow past pain to damage me. I think of all the bad things that I have been witness to, the things that have been done to me, even the small unimportant stuff like getting picked on in grade school for being the nerdy fat kid. (I wasn’t even that fat, for the record.) I dwell on these things quietly, when no one is around I kick myself for not standing up and saying something when I should have. Of course, this is all silly. I am a grown man with few enemies, those who have chosen to dislike me or hate me have come from rumors and the fact that those people don’t know me at all. I don’t let rumors of today bother me because I know what I am. I know who I am and I am proud of myself for how far I’ve come and how far I know I am going.

Still, there are dark thoughts that creep into my mind. I worry and panic about decisions I’ve made and things I’ve said or done. These tiny thoughts pile up into a mess within my skull that eventually would crush my focus and my mentality if I let it.

I think all of us have felt this before, we consider actions that have been made against us, torment ourselves over them and lose sleep or forget work, and we are nothing better from it. Just an anxious mess. Of course, there are other scars we bear that are much more serious. Assault, broken hearts, true horrible things that have reached out to slash our flesh and damage us forever. Those scars are much more vicious and real than those of the words that have been thrown at us. Still, we all have scars. We all have marks on our bodies that are damaging us with each moment we focus on them without seeking growth.

The other day I was watching a video on YouTube, I don’t remember the context or the information passed along. I couldn’t pinpoint the actual video to you in a list, but there was one scene that stuck with me and I will likely not forget.

You know, in our youth we always saw videos about kids carving their names into trees? Sometimes they were just the names of the kid. Maybe you carved your initials and your girlfriend of six months into a heart on a sycamore out back, then the girl left you or cheated on you and you’re stuck looking at the carved out heart for the rest of your time in the home. Maybe you carved your abusers name onto a tree in a forest, hoping someone would find it and send help your way. I hope they did, but even if not, that carving remains there. Due to the way trees grow, carvings such as these will likely never be repaired. They will stay on the tree until it is cut down or knocked down by a bolt of lightning or the surge of flame.

The nice thing, however, is that the carving will never stretch or become bold. It will stay on the trunk of that tree and it may never go away, but it will never change size or shape.

The tree however, will.

You and I are like that too. The things that have tormented you or hurt you in the past may stay in your memory forever, but they don’t have to grow with you. They won’t. You’ll get taller. You will cast your shadow on more things, you will become something that others flock to for relief from the heat of the burning sun and they may see those scars, that’s okay.

Those scars on your trunk will tell a story about lost love, but gained insight. They will tell a story of recovery, of hope, of a towering future, resounding through the forest with every single push of the breeze.

You may have scars, but we were built to be like trees. Forever growing, passing through cycles of death and rebirth, and here we are still. Standing strong, towering above the places we were hurt.

If you have collected new scars, or are looking down at your old ones, just take a breath, shake out your branches and look up.

There is so much wonder in the sky.

www.linmtba.com

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14 Wolves

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If we were to consider every single problem and frustration that roots into our daily lives, rotten berry bushes pruned by the people that say things about you that aren’t true, the fruit of gossip being the easiest fruit to swallow but the hardest to digest, it feeds the deer and the bears that transfer the messages they hear to the world. Bears, obviously know better, (because duh.) and they move to the rivers that run through our lives, the rivers that waver and shift with collapsing banks, unable to be supported by the destruction of the forest in your heart. Deer and Elk feasting on bushes and foliage as they run the mill in the valleys and the gorges of your soul. These deer people might say terrible things they heard at the berry bushes, they might believe the signs that the tree branches painted with their dying limbs and spread those messages forward. Hearing this, the other animals have a tendency to run away from your soul and eventually, the park will die.

If you haven’t ever noticed through this blog, I am passionate about two things. English and Science. One of my favorite scientific concepts is seen in Ecology. The trophic cascade. (I added a link to Wikipedia so you can research more.) In case you don’t know I’ll drop the layman’s explanation, it is something that occurs when the top predator in a food web changes the behavior of the rest of the web. (In this instance, I am referring to a top down trophic cascade, however it can occur in the reverse as well.) Seeing as I am no master of the topic, I encourage you to investigate yourself if you have interest.

Consider checking out the viral YouTube video “How Wolves Change Rivers”

In 1995, 14 Grey Wolves were taken from Canada and reintroduced to Yellowstone Park, where their species had been vacant for some 70 years. The ripple effect of this one small change impacted the very geography of the park. 14 wolves entering the habitat changed the way the rivers flowed. This happened because of the aforementioned cascade. The wolves hunted elk, which were devouring the flora of the park due to a large population, they had eliminated habitats for a myriad of creatures that once made the place their home. The wolves hunted the elk, killing them, which was a start, but the elk began to migrate differently. Staying out of valleys and this allowed plants to grow back. The plants growing once more attracted birds and bears, the birds made homes in trees which had begun growing again, many of them multiplying in height within a few short years. This brought beavers, which built dams and brought in hosts of new creatures to live there. Fish, bugs, and more. Because they coyotes were being hunted, more rodents lived which brought about more predatory birds like hawks, creatures devoured the carrion of the hunted beasts and the ecosystem regenerated in a few years, then, most importantly to what I am bringing to you today, the new trees which had grown, strengthened the river banks, keeping them from collapsing and actually changing the way that the rivers flowed. They stayed their course, which helped the ecosystem thrive. The park was brought back to life all by the introduction of 14 wolves.

Consider this today, as you think about your place in life, where you are, what your park is like. Is your soul overrun with elk, devouring the plant life, keeping the homes from the ravens and bears that your soul needs to thrive?

Consider changing the way you perceive your day, I have been thinking on this topic a great deal because we are not that different from the complicated ecosystems around us. We thrive when all of us are working in cooperation, our body, mind and soul must be healthy and thriving for us to truly be healthy ourselves.

For me to be truly alive, I cannot focus on the lives of the deer and elk who are impeding the growth of my own personal ecosystem. I have sought out the assistance of 14 wolves, through their numbers small, I have found something that will kill the thoughts of laziness and sorrow within my mind. I brought about a change, and because I have seen it before I will watch as the wolves I create with my mind change the patterns of every other part of me. My body will stand stronger, fed off of food and love. My mind will grow stronger, because my body is healthy I will find myself willing to learn, to fight for what I love and know, I will be willing to gain wisdom and utilize it day to day, and through that, my soul will flourish, because the very rivers of my heart will find structure and meaning in my life.

If you are battling today, fighting to secure the park within your mind, I suggest that you introduce something new to your ecosystem. It need not be large or powerful, it only need be present and what you need it to be. Nothing more, nothing less.

Read a good book. Go to the gym. Cook food. Meditate. Pray. Go for a run. Find a new job. Dress up.

Write a book.

Kiss your love.

Adopt some wolves.

An announcement is coming on Sunday about the future of my books + such! make sure to follow me on social media to see it when it drops!

www.linmbta.com

No Monsters

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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!

www.linmtba.com 

Year One: On Writing a Good Story (2014.1.31)

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A lot of people think that just because you are a happy person, that you are no longer allowed to be sad. Period. I disagree. Sadness, like Happiness, is a habit. It will grow and grow until it consumes you. I don’t think that people who are literally happy 100% of the time are mentally stable. You are supposed to be sad about things. You can’t be happy when someone dies, that isn’t how your emotions were designated to work. Much like the rest of life, whether or not you are happy is a give and take.

Things are constantly happening to us, every moment of every day. It’s a process that creates our emotions. Your thoughts about how things happen will yield different results. Personally, I am happy about the book that I am writing. The book makes me sad because I began writing it before I had lost communication with someone that I loved dearly, it reminds me of the good times that we had, which makes me happy, but it also serves to remind me that the chances of me having those good times with that person are slim, which in turn makes me sad. That sadness about that specific topic leads me to hopefulness that I will come across someone that I can spend time with like that who will make me feel the same way that she did. Which makes me happy.

All of those thoughts came linked to a book. Now, everybody isn’t a writer, and not everyone has a book that they’re writing in a literal sense. That doesn’t mean that we each aren’t weaving our own stories as we get up every day. you make choices to feel things, whether it is intentional or not. So many people let their sadness control them, they don’t know that they are in full control of their mood. If you’re writing a story with your life, write it in an interesting way. Nothing is interesting about people who have no conflict. Now, take note that I don’t mean conflict to be fighting or pressure against someones plans, or anything one sided. I mean anything that stops you from being stagnant.

The emotions that a human uses are dynamic. They are always changing. There are so many more than just happy and sad, too. In writing, conflict is important. there has to be something that gets in the way to propel a story forward. Their full range of emotions, just like yours, will be exploited by the time their story is over. Don’t be sad that you’re sad. Sadness is good, it means that you are alive. I’m sad ever single time I work on my novel, which is almost every day. I want my character to portray it, and I want those reading this and (hopefully) my novel to see it too. There is a balance however, no conflict can be so big that it stops you in your tracks. The same goes for characters in stories as they do in real life. Your story will have conflict, but your desires will overcome it. Don’t get sad about your sadness, because it is a habit, and it will destroy you. Instead, make a habit to become happy. Make happiness your reflex. In any good story, when the main character wants something, they will go to get it, unfortunately it is a guarantee that something will get in his way, if the story is a good one.

Write a good story

If you enjoyed this blog post, consider picking up the compilation that it came from! (And share it with you friends, please, I’m not trying to beg I promise.)

You can get it on my website or on Amazon.

Year Three: Bad Car, Good Stories (2016.10.14)

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The other day I was talking with a friend of mine about life and a lot of things. Our conversations spanned over so many topics, but she brought up something that I wanted to talk about on the blog specifically.

My vehicle.

More specifically, my truck in relation to me. For those of you that don’t already know, I drive a 97’ Chevy Silverado named Misty (Formerly Mystery, until she took her top off.) She has carried me since 2012 and I have put so many miles on her. Every mark on the car I can explain to you. The melted plastic where my cigarette burned a hole, from sitting on the panel for too long. The crack in the windshield that has expanded across the length of it like a storyteller who doesn’t know when to end his tale. I remember almost getting into that wreck up North Fifth Street when I punched my throttle and sent her over a hill that had a steep drop off on the other side. Every day when I step into the cab I see the lei and the small figurine of a feathered head hanging from the rearview mirror like a talisman that was meant to protect me. I see the sun faded purple bandana that has been bleached of most of its color, looking less like a regal purple and more like a lilac in the springtime. I see the “Nightmare Before Christmas” Lanyard that is similarly sun-faded that I purchased at Disneyland for $22 because I absolutely felt that I needed it. When I reach up to pull my seatbelt down I can feel the fabric on the seat stretch around a tear she suffered when I was consoling a friend in the midst of a thunderstorm and the boom that echoed in the sky took me by surprise, jerking me back and ripping the seat cover. I often find spare change jingling around on the floor and every time I turn Misty on she presents the CD that has been in her disc drive for years now, “Blazed by the Bell” by Mod Sun.

All of these things hold so many fantastic memories. I remember going through so much with that truck. Bad breakups. Long road trips. Joyous nights, drunk out of my mind and singing with friends from the top of the shell. I remember using it to hide from a particularly bad snowstorm and I remember lying in the bed of the truck every time I go camping, terrified that some kind of ghastly grey being will come to drain the life out of me in my sleep.

There are reasons that I love Misty so much. It’s because she has carried me through life for four years, yes, but there is more to it than that. Misty is a stable vehicle, but she is nothing prime. She runs when she needs to and she gets me from A to B. I can’t ask her to do much more than that anymore, she’s getting old and I have done her a disservice by not caring for her the way that I should have been.

Still, this brings me to my point. I think it is far more important to chase memories and experience rather than going for material gains. I have spoken to so many men and women from the window of Misty and heard their stories while behind her wheel that I could never replace. Men and Women who wouldn’t have spoken to me as freely if I had been driving another car. There are so many things I have experienced alongside my truck that I couldn’t recount them all to you. I have burned bridges with her, I have ran from parties about to get busted. I have done so many things and that’s the important part. Had I spent my money a different way, had I searched for a more expensive car I would have needed to take much more time to pay it off. I would have had to pull more hours or even pull extra jobs. That isn’t something I am afraid of, but it is something that would have halted the progress of experience in my life. I would have been working so much that I wouldn’t have wanted to go on any adventures. I wouldn’t have wanted to go out and party, or pick friends up from places. I wouldn’t drive to fast food joints because I would need every dollar to pay for my nice expensive car.

That is something to be proud of. I hope that where you are in life, you understand that I am not trying to demean your money spending choices. I’m just bringing to light something that I have learned about my life. If it weren’t for Misty/Mystery I would have had so much less fun in life. So many of my stories would be replaced with: “Oh I just got off work, I think I’m gonna turn in. Gotta be up early in the morning.” Or something similar.

It’s important to note that in this life, we seek experiences rather than possessions. Of course, to the car guys, the large number of you who are my friends, don’t get upset. Just because you find enjoyment in it doesn’t mean it is still bad. If expensive cars are your passion, keep going! Keep fueling that passion. Keep doing the things you love. This world is so dark sometimes and if a shiny new whip is what will make you feel better, then use it. Abuse that love of vehicles. Just don’t forget to get in your car and do something meaningful every once and a while. Life doesn’t have to be all about what you have or what you earn. It should be about what you do with the things you have.

That’s why, back in 2012, I purchased Mystery. I picked her up and knew that I would love her, through all of the ups and the many, many lows I have seen. She ahs been there through it all. She is nearing the end of her life, so before she goes I want to send you as much love as I can. So she can be there for that experience too. If you have a bad car, or a nice car, if you have a lot of money or a little, if you are a politician or a hippy, if you work your ass off or pursue laziness, I hope that you make it a point to go out and experience this world. It has so much to offer you, it has offered me so much as well and I’ve reached a point where I’m finally okay with offering Misty back in return. I hope that she goes towards more stories. I hope that you do too.

Never stop pursuing the beautiful goodness in our world. It makes everything so much better, whether you drive a 2015 Civic, or a 1997 Chevy Silverado. I hope you love your car and the memories within as much as Misty has loved me.

If you enjoyed this blog post, please consider picking up the compilation it came from.

You can find it on my website or on Amazon!

Year Two: The Fear of a World Without Cereal (2015.5.1)

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The other day, during one of my self-made fits of insomnia I was lying on the floor of my apartment, contemplating life. By contemplating life, I mean that I was thinking about cereal. Cereal, and appreciating things for what they were. At about seven in the morning this Tuesday I was on my back with my feet up on the wall staring at the lights hanging from the ceiling, wondering: “How weird would it be if we put all of our furniture on the roof and just lived up there? The whole world would turn upside down wouldn’t it?”

Sure. It seems goofy to be thinking that, but I wasn’t in my right mind. I don’t think a lot of people are in their right mind. Once, when I was younger I wrote this story about molecules that fused with the bodies of animals and made them badass world-saving, bad guy smashing warriors. The villain of the story was a snake that had been hit with the same stuff and had turned evil. (It was fifth grade. And I stole most of the concepts from my friend Travis. Sorry, man.) Part of the assignment for this story was to illustrate certain events. So, I did. I drew in what it looked like when they got infected, when they changed, how they changed, what they were meant to do afterwards, their fight with the snake-man, and inevitably, their victory against him. It was a gruesome victory at that. The snake had been impaled on a spire at the peak of his castle (Mountain? Maybe? It’s been a while. Sorry I can’t remember all the details.) To be honest, there was blood everywhere. More blood than he could have held in his body. Regardless, after I showed my parents the final page (Which I was incredibly proud of.) My dad told me to make a new one and throw that one away because people would think I was crazy.

In other, much more extreme instances, people have had their lives threatened by psychos with guns because they flirted with the wrong girl. People have had their bodies tortured and prodded because they have information that other people want. People have always been crazy. I think some have it worse than others, but in the end that’s how it goes. One way is perceived as the right way and everyone else is wrong so let’s just kill them.

Today before work I was talking to my boss about some of his escapades when he was younger. The topic of the Middle East came up, and in normal circumstances I would have changed the subject, but I decided to let it play. I needed to soak up some kind of topic for this week’s blog post. We began talking about the lunatics threatening lives in the world and how they would probably regret choosing to attack Elko. (There’s nothing here, plus there are six guns for every human in the city.) We talked about the rash of paranoia that seems to be spreading across the minds of our friends and families. It brought up something that I seem to have forgotten.

Why are we so focused on the bad shit happening everywhere? Why don’t we take solace that right here, right now, things are good.

Don’t get me wrong. We should be paying attention to the state of our surroundings, but we shouldn’t be letting that control our behavior in an everyday setting.

What I’m trying to say is that we should appreciate the here and now.

The smell of the flowers, the reflection of the sun in a puddle, the way our friends laugh when we joke.

Those things should be influencing us more powerfully than the fear of something bad happening. Whether that is terrorists, cancer, liver failure, whatever. The case may be.

Be aware. But do not be afraid.

We live in a world where Reese’s peanut butter cups come in candy form, and in cereal form.

That shit is amazing.

Don’t let the fear of life control you.

If you enjoyed this blog post, consider picking up the compilation that it came from!

You can get it from my website or Amazon!