Memorial Day 2010 – Reflections, Thoughts and A Swift Kick in the Rear

Today is a doubly reflective sort of day for me.  First and foremost, it’s Memorial Day and secondly, I’m getting ready to travel to London on a red-eye out of JFK tonight for a work conference all week.  Memorial Day makes me reflect for what are, I think, fairly obvious reasons and travel always makes me reflect because I know I will be encountering new places, peoples and experiences.

In thinking of Memorial Day, it can be a lot of different things.  It’s a day of rest (well… at least it should be) and BBQs and taking a few minutes to think about the ultimate sacrifice that over a million Americans have made to protect freedoms that most of us just flat out take for granted.  That last part almost sounds cliched, but it probably sounds that way because sometimes the things that are just so obvious tend to get slapped with that kind of unfair tag.  But honestly… how often do any of us think about that?  I mean genuinely and honestly stop for a moment and reflect on the fact that people have died so that you can I can live a fairly uneventful life where we get to raise our kids, go to work, enjoy our weekends and be who we want to be without a lot heck of a lot of interference.

I took a look at the source of all knowledge… Wikipedia, obviously… and found this entry on total U.S. combat casualties over the course of our country’s history.  It’s sobering stuff to look at, especially when you see the Civil War estimates that the war claimed the lives of 2% of the entire population of the country – 625,000 people with close to 600 dying every day.  If that doesn’t give you a moment to pause, then there’s nothing a whole lot I can do to help you at that point.  Just take a moment… even just a quiet 30 seconds… to appreciate the gift of the freedom you enjoy if you live here in the United States.  We are very, very far from perfect, but you would be hard-pressed to find a place much better.  I believe that with all my heart and want our country to stay that way.

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But I also had a slightly less lofty moment of reflection today that had less to do with our freedoms as a people and more to do with what Memorial Day has meant for me personally the last few years.  As a baseball coach, Memorial Day was the day every team, club, organization and such in the town I coach would get out and march.  It’s complete mayhem, but also a lot of fun… except I’m not there this year.  Rather, I am in the midst of doing a bunch of last second packing, e-mail checking and planning before leaving on my trip to London and so I missed the parade this AM for the first time in 4 or 5 years… and I hate that fact almost more than I can say.

There was really no good reason, excuse or explanation for my not being there.  Yes, I really am pulling a whole bunch of things together right now to prepare for my trip… but seriously?  That couldn’t have been done Saturday?  Or yesterday?  And this frustrates me to absolutely no end because that parade is now a bit of tradition and I’m missing it for just no good reason at all.

And all this for one simple and unassailable reason: I just need to do a better job of getting my act together.  Period.  Oh sure, I could go into a very grand and verbose post about how I am a classic introvert who recharges my batteries with alone and quiet time or that I have been very busy with work and blah blah blah.  Those things would have been both true statements… but also really and truly piss-poor excuses.

So in some ways, the fact that I do a better job of reflecting when I travel is probably a good thing so I can reflect myself into fixing my little red wagon and not missing out on things that are most important to me in life… because that often ends up being the end result.

But fear not… this is not a post about wallowing in self-pity and whinging over what has gone before.  I can only take that in myself for about 5-10 minutes before I find it annoying, so Lord knows none of you should have to soak up any of that a second longer.

Because on this day of memorial and day of reflection… I am putting myself back on track with 2 things more important than any little silly gripe I may have:

1) That when people have given their lives so you have the luxury of blogging at home with your feet on the table, it’s best to take that solid shot of perspective with a quiet nod of sincere thanks; and

2) That as long as there are nephews in the world who get a kick out of walking in parades (and hitting bodybuilder poses while waiting for them to start), then there is some real good in the world to make you smile.

And a smile is spreading across my face right now.  Happy Memorial Day 2010, everyone.

Big Leaps, Little Leaps and All Kinds in Between

Themes sometimes run through my mind and because of that, they also end up on this blog.  The post I had from Friday was all about the Global Corporate Challenge and how, despite my initial snobbery at the notion of 10,000 steps a day making any kind of difference to super-fantastic and ridiculously awesome ME… well, I am finding benefits in spite of myself.  Go figure.  Well, that theme of steps continues today on this beautiful Sunday over the Memorial Day weekend.

It’s obvious that my interest in health, fitness, exercise and diet exceeds being just a hobby for me – it’s something I feel strongly about both from the standpoint that far too many people seem to neglect the gift of their health and also because of the unbelievable carry-over to other parts of your life you get from being active and healthy.  That’s one of the biggest themes of this blog – how the elements of mind, body and spirit interplay with each other and bring transformative benefits to each other.  A strong body can give you confidence.  A determined spirit can push you through in the gym.  A sharp mind will allow you to think through problems that would otherwise stress you into a bad physical state.  You get the idea.

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So yesterday I decided to take a leap, the length of which I leave to you, gentle reader, to decide upon.  I dropped a decent chunk of cash for all of the study materials I would need to prepare for the Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) certification from the National Strength and Conditioning Association.  The CSCS is considered one of the most respected certifications if you are interested in working with and training athletes.  There are equivalents for personal training as well, but this was the one that jumped out at me most because of its reputation and because of my own personal belief that you can taking the specialized training of an athlete and adapt it to the general population (provided you don’t act like a complete lunkhead and assume a 53 year old business executive wants to play middle linebacker for a NCAA Division 1 football program).

All of this was a bit inspired by some e-mails and comments I’ve been going back and forth with the author of the blog, SlackerMom. Jessica has recently take the leap from the big law firm world into being a massage therapist and has been documenting a lot of her process of working through that on her blog (which is very good – I recommend).  In one of our notes back and forth, she talked about how she needed to make some firm steps in order to get herself going towards her own goals – they didn’t need to be massive steps, but there had to be some definitive action with sacrifice and consequences.

I had been thinking over ordering the CSCS study materials for quite a while decided to get off my lazy behind to do it yesterday.  So I dropped a bit of a chunk of cash and the training manual, audio CDs, practice tests and all of that good, happy fun should be arriving soon.

The larger question is what I will end up doing with all of this… well, besides the obvious of studying for and, hopefully, gaining my CSCS certification.  Assuming I get it… then what?  Truthfully, I don’t have an answer to that just yet, but it feels like the right step for me on a few levels.  First, I just find this stuff interesting and want to truly learn it.  Back in college, I was so freaking grade focused, I occasionally wonder what I would have really learned if I was a little more concerned about the process of understanding and absorbing what I studied as opposed to a jazzy report card with lots of A’s all over it.  Second, maybe I will end up training people one day in some context.  I can’t tell you the date or time of this, but it feels like something I will explore soon.  It might only be to help along some friends and family and that really may be more than enough, but I’ll never know how much I like it until I start doing it in earnest… so why not be as best-prepared for that as possible?

So, yet again, my own personal ego is foiled and that’s probably a good thing.  Friday was about admitting via YouTube that I don’t have all the answers and even counting your daily steps has unexpected benefits.  Yesterday and today were about thinking through how to continue the steps and movement towards something positive and having a chance to learn and grow a bit (God forbid).  And that’s my “leap” of the weekend.  It’s not exactly some kind of massive sea change… but as I keep coming to realize… the small, but consistent steps, truly do add up.

Small Things Matter – Eat Your Ego

For a small change of pace, I decided to fire up a video blog for today instead of the typical typed post.  Why?  Change of pace.  Not in the mood to type.  A chance for all of you humble people to soak up the handsomeness that is me.  Just a little post about how my own ego sometimes gets in the way, but I end up learning something anyway.

Also, feel free to check out my new Facebook page for the blog right HERE.

Acerbus et Ingens

Your Pathetic Little Box

It’s a place each of us knows to one extent or another.  Maybe you have been there your whole life, always struggling to peek out and hoping to find a moment to break free.  Maybe you have broken free, only to return to its dispiriting, but oddly comforting enclosure.  Or maybe you have freed yourself from it and only look back on it as a constant reminder of where you will never stay.

That place?  The place I’m thinking of is that box of expectations people try to place you in and keep you in.  You know the box I mean.  The one where your boss expects you to play the dutiful toadie, when deep-down you know you have ideas that can make a difference.  The box that your parents tucked you into when they told you that girls don’t play tough sports or get sweaty.  The box that your high school English teacher steered you into (maybe with only the best of intentions) to pursue a career in some safe, generic career that you wake up to each day, staring at the ceiling and thinking, “My God… do I really have to go in there today?”

Your all too comfortable, but still pathetic, little box

To one extent or another, most people will spend some amount of time in their lives in that box.  It’s pretty hard not to.  Very few people are completely comfortable with living 100% outside of the expectations of other people – it’s pretty much human nature.  Sure, it may be on small things such as not wearing your Marilyn Manson “Antichrist Superstar” t-shirt to Christmas dinner because, as much as you love the alter-ego of super-nerd Brian Warner, it makes Mom horribly uncomfortable and she just wants to have a nice holiday.  But that is a small concession for the greater good of family unity.

What I’m thinking of are the greater concessions… the ones that nag and claw at your conscience… the ones that, when you give into them, you feel beaten, broken, used or just flat-out fake.  The concessions to the views of others when, even if those expectations come from a good place, you personally know they are not right for you… and you still go along with them.

I hate that box… and as I sit here typing this post and looking back on all of the “you’s” I just used… that could just as easily be replaced with “I” in many of those spots.  I do it – I know I do it… but I don’t like it.

So that’s where my little epiphany came from.  It’s not exactly Jonas Salk and the polio vaccine, but this one is mine and I think it might be handy, so take it down a few notches, people.

I am going to find a cardboard box and slap my name on it with a Sharpie and then write all over it.  What will I be writing?  All of the things that other’s seek to impose upon me as their expectations that, truth be told, I either just don’t believe in or just don’t want.  The purpose of this box is twofold: (1) I want to get out in a tangible medium all of those errant expectations and (2) I find I need physical/visual reminders of things I am trying to stay mindful of.  I tend to fall a little too easily into the trap of having a good idea and maybe even writing it down, but not having it in a place of seeing it all the time to keep me on track so it becomes habit.

The 2nd step after getting the box all ready is one that can vary by person, but it’s too display the box in the most prominent place you use when you need a moment to break out of expectations.  For someone aspiring to be a writer instead of an accountant, maybe the box is at home next to the spot where she writes her short stories.  For me, it’s my home gym because I am such a firm believer in transformation of yourself in mind and spirit through pushing your body.  I want to see it to remind me all the time of the things I am looking to work past and leave very much in the dust.  Hell, I may even give that stupid box a swift kick across the room every time I set a PR.

I am doing all this because with each passing year, I have a restlessness that only increases about tolerating that damn box and I want that box nearby so I never, ever forget.  Does this all mean I am somehow getting braver? Hmm.  Not too sure… but I am definitely getting more defiant about who I am and what I want to be and the notion of not being authentic to how I truly see myself is just becoming more and more unacceptable.  I can’t be fake about who I am and I can’t just let it slide when someone is looking to force me into being something I’m not.

So I will create my box and I will set it where I will always see it.  This may work great.  This may be hokey as hell… but then again, anyone else finding this hokey is trying to put me back in that damn box… so I just don’t care anyway.

On The Shelf, None Too Happy… But Possibly Maturing

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What you see above is the reason for the title of this post… because I will be up on the shelf for the next few weeks as I finally decided to do the smart/mature/wussy thing and take a little time off from lifting.  Why oh why am I doing such a thing?  Above are the results from my MRI this morning on my neck.  On the left are some of the scans from the profile for my neck and above is the cross-section view.  The two I have my fingers on are shots of the area around my C5 and C6 vertebrae.  It seems I have a delightful double-whammy of bone spurs on my C6 vertebrae (which, oddly enough are not really causing my current issue) and a slight bulge with the disc between C5 and C6 that is narrowing the nerve canal on the left-hand side.

And what does all of that get you… err… me?  Pain, tingling on my left forearm and hand and a loss of strength in my left arm.  Woo-freakin-hoo.

But you know something?  2 things occur to me:

  1. In the grand scheme of things, this is not the end of the world and totally pales in comparison to the kinds of health battles I’ve seen several people close to me have to endure.  I think of those fighting leukemia and getting stem cell transplants and going through seemingly endless liver surgeries.  Me?  My neck has some pain and with steroids, physical therapy, rest and a dose of smarts, I will be just fine.
  2. On the smarts notion… I am a little surprised I am exercising them.  Seriously.  I tend to get irrationally stubborn, at times, with pushing myself through situations where I really shouldn’t.  Somehow, I didn’t do that this time and I’m shutting down my lifting for all of this week and all of next.  I hate it, but I’m doing it.

Maybe this will mean more consistent blogging for a chunk of time… and wouldn’t you, oh favored reader of mine, be just so lucky for that?  Umm.. right?  Maybe?  Ok, take a few to think it over.  The blog will still be here when you get back.  Don’t forget me… I love you.  Umm.. too desperate?  That was too desperate, right?  Damn it…

 

Group Think and the Creative Leap

I don’t read the newspaper all that much and when I do, it’s usually when I’m traveling since I find it as a nice way to clear my head, pass the time and catch up on a few nuggets of interesting news.  My favorite newspaper is definitely The Wall Street Journal, hands down.  I’m not a finance nerd, but I just find the other reporting across the paper to be truly excellent.

During my travel back from Florida to Connecticut, I bought the Saturday/weekend edition of the Journal on my Kindle and there was a very cool piece entitled “Humans: Why They Triumphed“.  The intro of the essay starts off as follows:

Human evolution presents a puzzle. Nothing seems to explain the sudden takeoff of the last 45,000 years—the conversion of just another rare predatory ape into a planet dominator with rapidly progressing technologies. Once “progress” started to produce new tools, different ways of life and burgeoning populations, it accelerated all over the world, culminating in agriculture, cities, literacy and all the rest. Yet all the ingredients of human success—tool making, big brains, culture, fire, even language—seem to have been in place half a million years before and nothing happened. Tools were made to the same monotonous design for hundreds of thousands of years and the ecological impact of people was minimal. Then suddenly—bang!—culture exploded, starting in Africa. Why then, why there?

The reason was the notion of the “collective brain” through the exchange of culture, ideas, trade, etc. In places where there were increased amount of human interaction (especially across a wider cross-section of people), there was the chance for a greater or even a sudden leap forward for humanity, even after millions of years of little or no progress.

I think this has a very telling from the standpoint of our own personal creativity and how it can flow in our own lives – the exposure to different people, thoughts, ideas and creations. Each of these things can serve as a catalyst to new thoughts for each of us.

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What I find most interesting is how this can relates to the overall idea of diversity.  Often the discussion of diversity in our modern life talks only in terms of how we need to be exposed to people of varying races, creeds, socio-economic status, religions, etc. but never gets to the true WHY we should do all of that.. Without the why, the effort becomes di

minished because it takes on a presctive air of holier-than-thou guilting into doing what is right… and doing so without questioning. That gets us nowhere and makes us intellectually poorer to boot.

For me, the why comes from creating a fertile ground from which new, electric and creative ideas can sprout. Are all ideas and thoughts equal? Oh, hell no – but they should all have the chance to be vetted. They never have been and never will be, but without the chance for cross-pollination and open discussion in the marketplace of thought, we could very well miss out on some of the best ideas. I don’t know about you, but I’m not comfortable with the notion of missing out on those potential diamonds of change and intellectual curiosity.

And think about any time you were engaged in a judgment free exchange of ideas. You can practically feel a crackle in the air. It’s intoxicating… but far too rare.

Which is why we need to encourage these moments to happen and cherish them when they do... you know, just like our ancestors 45,000 years ago.  Obviously.

Overcoming Our Intellect

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Greetings from 35,000ish feet.  I’m on my way back from Florida and despite the cramped conditions in coach here on Delta Flight 1580 from Atlanta to Hartford, I figured I would bust out my laptop and have at it.

 

As I wrote in my previous post, when I am out of my regular locale and on the road, I tend to find myself in a different (and oftentimes better) mindset than I had prior to my trip.  The effect of the change in my physical surroundings in the way my mind thinks is always noticeable.  What’s also noticeable is the fact that I probably don’t take advantage of this phenomenon often enough when I really need a kick in my creative behind.  It’s not like I need to hit up the beaches of Tahiti every time I need to reawaken my artistic muse, right?  I could just take a drive to someplace an hour or so away that I never go to and I should be able to reboot nicely.

But there it is again… that trend I often find myself slinking back into when my vigilance wanes… that trend of knowing things I like or things that do good for me, but then not actually taking much time to do them.  Habit is a funny beast, my friends, and it needs on your lack of awareness and any scrap of apathy that may fall off the table of your life.

Do you feel it as well?  That sense that you know the good for your life, want to pursue it and then find yourself on a proverbial (or maybe even literal) couch with 2 empty bags of pork rinds and a 3 liter jug of Mountain Dew carelessly tossed at your feet?

In that way, I find our species to be a peculiar one, where the gift of our vast intellect often works in direct opposition to what is best for us.  I mean, think about it for a second: how many other animals (outside of those damn cliff jumping lemmings) will engage in behavior that doesn’t serve it’s own good on this kind of scale?

We seem to do so because we can rationalize the bad choices and decisions with all kinds of fluffy excuses about why we didn’t hit the marks we really wanted.  Ain’t having the most advanced brain of any critter on the planet just grand sometimes?

But hey, I’m not one to get myself too mired in the negativity, but I do like to use this as a vehicle to keep myself honest and perhaps allow you to have that moment as well… because that’s what this blog is meant to be: an honest assessment of where I am, where I need to be and how I can help others in that exact same journey forward.  It’s not always going to be smooth and perfect, but every step of it is mine and that I really do like.

Changes in Latitudes

Ahh.  Vacation day.  I’ve spent a chunk of the past week in Bradenton, Florida for work and decided to take today as a vacation day with a flight back home tomorrow… but not before going to check out this spot:

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If there is one thing I’ve noticed, it’s that Jim Morrison (kind of) had it right when he sang, “There’s only four ways to get unraveled, One is to sleep and the other is travel.”

So I got some good rest last night and I’ve noticed that despite being slammed busy the last few days, I feel a lot more relaxed than I have in several weeks.  Why is that?  Well, in my case I find that whenever I get a chance to travel, I do tend to unravel.  I’ve noticed that if I take a week of vacation and spend it at home (I refuse to use the term “staycation”… that just makes me nuts), I never truly relax.  I think just being around the house and being in the same surroundings keeps me in the same state of mind.  And that state of mind may very well be too stressed for my own good (since I tend to be wired a little that way).

To that end, I think environment can have a very big impact on your overall mental outlook and it’s something I’ve written about before on this blog (notably here).  Your work environment from a physical standpoint, I believe, certainly affects your mind.  Or perhaps the space where you engage in your own personal exercise routine.  There is a huge difference between training in a gym full of mirror-gazing punks in overly tight tank tops as opposed to being in a private garage gym with heavy metal blaring, a bunch of people pushing each other to do better and not one iota of pretentiousness to be found.  You tell me where you think you will get better results.

My advice is to get out of your typical space and see something different… be somewhere different… and in the end?  You are going to feel something different.  Heck, you might even relax a tad bit.  The stay-at-home vacation or the stay-at-home weekend can be fine, but if you are truly in a rut or just feeling like a densely packed ball of stress and anguish… don’t you think you need to do some different?  I know I do.

And in keeping with the musical theme that seems to be developing in this post, Mr. Buffet said it so very, very well… changes in latitude, changes in attitude.


The Soothing Balm of Nostaliga

Yesterday (and today too, quite frankly) was a completely beautiful day here in the Nutmeg State with bright sunshine, a little blustery and it looks like it is only going to get nicer.  These are the days that, when I was younger, I would look forward taking a trip to one of my favorite places in the world: The Eagle’s Nest.  The Eagle’s Nest was a small little store nestled in Old Avon Village that could only fit about 5 or 6 people inside at any given time and they sold coins and sports cards.  A quick run through Google seems to suggest it still exists in some form or another in Avon, but I know it’s not in the same little building it once occupied as they’ve completely redone that quaint shopping area.

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Ahh, but those Saturdays!  I would take whatever amount of allowance money I had cobbled together and head over with my brother, Jason, and some of our friends.  Those were the days of the rock hard chewing gum that was dusted with enough powdered sugar to inevitably make you choke when you tried chewing more than 2 pieces at one time… which, of course, we always did.  Dumb crap like that is half the fun of being a kid.

Sometime during college is when I really got away from baseball cards and all of that kind of stuff.  I ended up selling several pretty valuable cards (Jordan rookie card from Fleer, anyone?) because I wanted to have a little extra pocket money and I sort of thought of myself as mostly being beyond all that stuff from when I was a kid.  I did, however, keep a lot of the baseball cards I had bought over time.

Yesterday I decided to go to the local hobby store and snap up some baseball cards for myself.  I’m not sure if was a desire to recapture a bit of that feeling of days gone by that will never return again, but off I went anyway.

The first thing I noticed about the entire process is how much different it is in a few key ways.  First, I think a lot of card shops end up catering more to things like the various battle card games out there (like Magic: The Gathering, Yu-Gi-Oh, Pokemon, etc.).  In fact, the place I went yesterday (Omni Cards & Comics) mostly had people interested in getting together for some kind of gaming tournament whereas I just needed my baseball fix.

A second difference (and something that began when I was still collecting) was how much more expensive all of this has become.  The box you see in the photo is the 2010 set from Bowman (owned by Topps, the most venerable of all card companies) was $85 for a box of 24 packs of 10 cards.  The crazy thing is the larger box goes for $159.  Why so expensive?  Because a lot of work has been put into creating a more exclusive market for cards.  There are special inserts that show up in maybe 1 in every 1,000 packs and card with actual autographs and even cards that have a swatch of a game worn jersey in them.

All of this is designed to make the cards purposefully a lot more valuable.  I guess this is kind of cool in one sense, but it’s really something that’s meant to make all fo this more investment focused and less on just having the cards to have them, trade them, collect them and so on.

In the end… did my experiment work?  Did I recapture a few moments of youth passed?  Actually, I think I did in some way… but in many ways, I think I just rediscovered something I always liked anyway.  It became less about wishing I was back in a different time in my life and just enjoying the fact that even after all these years, I still like my baseball cards.  Feels good to revel in that nerdom all over again.

The lesson in all of this is that joy can be a fairly simple thing and should never be something that you let pass you by because that which brings the joy is “for kids” or doesn’t fit with some externally driven notion of what is OK to do or enjoy.  So, you like role-playing games?  Do it.  Enjoy the nerdery of a sci-fi convention?  Soak it up, young Jedi.  Maybe enjoy collecting a card or two?  Game on.  Don’t let the outside distractions of what other people tell you is OK take away from that which you enjoy, especially if it’s the kind of thing that someone will say, “Isn’t that just for kids?”

Because you know what?  Kids are good at finding joy.  Maybe we should be paying attention to that a little more often.

 

Cutting Against Your Own Grain

The company for which I work has a shutdown period that occurs between Christmas and New Year’s every year.  Truth be told, it’s a pretty darn nice benefit, especially given the fact that it’s a time of where I would be looking to take that time off regardless.  I have spent that time doing a variety of activities, depending on the year.  Sometimes I will chuck in a week of vacation right before it starts and I will end up being out of the office like 17 straight days.  Needless to say… it was freakin’ awesome.

This past year I decided I wanted to get myself going on a blog that I would consistently update and I wanted it to have a much more professional look and feel.  As I was reading something from the absolutely sublime Pamela Slim, I saw her mention an offer from this guy named Johnny B. Truant to set up a WordPress blog for you at a pretty reasonable cost.  Intrigued, I meandered on over to his site and was immediately hooked by his tag line of “The Internet made awesome.”  Plus he dropped a lot of amusing f-bombs in his posts that made me chuckle.  Have I mentioned before I often have the emotional maturity of an 11 year old?  Hmm.  Maybe that’s why youth baseball coaching appeals to me… I can relate.

Fast forward to today (a whole 4 and a half months) and I was perusing the blogs I enjoy.  I came across a post from Johnny entitled “Revolution and Evolution (part 1)“.  Seems the good Mr. Johnny has had a rough go of things over the last few years and despite never having ink in his entire life, he is going to get tattoos on both his arms.  He writes in that post:

I want a tattoo because I’ve encountered some adversity over the past few years and have fought successfully through it. That adversity left scars — very cool, very large scars with a story behind them. Only, they’re scars you can’t see. I kind of want the tattoos because I want people to be able to see those scars — and to be able to see them myself, so I’ll always remember what I’ve learned.

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That really struck me.  See, I’m not exactly a wild child.  I’m basically a classic middle child – a bit of an overachiever, looking to please everyone and trying really, really hard to be nice all the time.  While I am definitely a complete goofball, I am also a little bit conservative in the sense I am not out there bungee jumping, wrestling bonobos or even getting tattoos.  Hell, I had an earring in college for 24 hours (almost to the exact minute) and then ditched it because I just didn’t think it was me.  I had it long enough to call my Mom and freak her out (which was very satisfying in its own right… sorry Mom!).

But I ain’t the guy that is living a super wild life in most sense of the word… and yet… I totally understand where Johnny is coming from and I have become more and more intrigued with the idea of getting a tattoo.  Seriously.

“Why, oh, WHY???” you may ask (at least almost everyone in my family would ask).  Good question.

I’ve never been opposed to the idea of getting a tattoo.  My problem has always been that if I am going to get something placed on my body for the rest of my damn life, it sure as hell better be something that speaks to core of who I am as a human being and who I aspire to be.  Anything less is absolutely unacceptable and I would never get a tattoo unless that firm requirement was met with a little room to spare.

Ahh, but I haven’t answered the paramount question of “Why?”  Like Johnny, I’ve had a few rough patches over the last few years and I have come through (well, mostly come through) on the other side a little nicked up and rough around the edges, but unbowed and I think I’m a better man because of all of it.  Plus, I am the sort of person who believes that in order to have a successful and fulfilling life, it’s important to have a set of principles on which to ground yourself.  I think that’s a lot of what helped me through some of my rougher times – that foundation of knowing who I was and who I wanted to be.

I want to be the guy who treats people the way I want to be treated… even if that other person is a douchebag.  I want to live with honor.  I want to live with integrity.  I want to live with determination.  I want to never be afraid to risk getting my heart broken because if I hold back, I’ll never get the chance at experiencing great love.  I want to live in balance (this one is hard for me).  I want to never forget how much of this life is a gift and I should never, ever, EVER take that for granted… because I’ve seen how life can jump up and kick some amazing people in the teeth without any provocation or sense of it being deserved.  Anyone can suffer that fate… so embrace the good and the opportunities you see now.

So I think I would get one to mark what I feel represents who I am and where I belong in this world.  I am slowly settled on a design in my head which I plan on keeping to myself.  I also think that if I end up going through with all of this, I would place it in a fairly discrete spot because I would be getting it as a reminder for myself and no one else.

Is any of this in character for me?  I want to say no and that’s why I entitled this post what I did… but as I sit and ponder, maybe it’s not that crazy and not all that strange.  Sometimes you have to take that big risk to get that big reward.  Time to get my butt up off the sidelines and into the game.  God help me.