Testing your desires and dreams

The other day I was walking down the streets of my neighborhood with my wife, looking at properties that would be great opportunities to buy, fix up, and one day sell.  The architecture in the neighborhoods around our apartment downtown are dammed with potential.  I've read books, listened to podcasts, and networked for the past four years trying learn more about real estate investing, so naturally as my my ideas were flowing, I was becoming antsy to take action as we strategized together.

But on our walk home, knowing that the timing wasn't right yet, a question popped into my head that I never thought of before:

“What if I never own an investment property?... What if I never even buy my own house?”

It stopped my longing and restless thoughts in their tracks.

“Well... I guess I would stop and enjoy the rental apartment I have", I thought to myself, "even amidst everything that it lacks."  
And then do my best to do the same for my other rentals that would come.”

I started applying this question to other smaller desires that would pop up throughout the day because I noticed how well it helped me to let go of my angst that was stealing my ability to be present in the home and season I was in now.

"What if I don’t have enough to save for retirement this month, or if I don't leave at exactly the right time to get to work at the appropriate hour, or if I don’t get to read my new book before bed this evening like I'm hoping to?"

"Can I still be happy?  Can I still be present?  Can I still be awake?"

Yeah, they were little, but it's fascinating how quickly the little things can steal away our sense of gratitude.  The question of "What if X never happens?" is a quick way to find out what your happiness is dependent on.   And what is capable of stealing it.  It also forces you to mentally accept the limitations of your current situation and reminds you to enjoy the present more deeply as it is, rather than how you wish it was.

Today was a great example that sometimes happiness isn’t about adding something to your life, but giving something up and accepting life as it is.

Carpenters, baristas, and man's search for meaning

Where do we go, as men, in our search for self-value and meaning? 

Many take this void and stand behind a pulpit and the label of a pastor, thinking that the title and the valuable work of "leading men to Christ" will be his answer to finding meaning and becoming admirable.  Another picks up a trade in manual labor, only to find that his workplace holds the same absence of male affirmation and camaraderie that he lacked in his youth, leaving him once again with nothing but more emptiness and shame.  

For another, he chooses the work, or art, of being a Barista.  He thinks he is escaping the rat race in his pursuit of art and craft, but alas, this too is a vanity with time, for what man can raise a family serving coffee if he does not take up the responsibility of owning the shop?

From the boardrooms to the numb father's writing unending code in their cubicles, to the jealous and enraged dad's yelling from the football stands at their son's efforts, men are searching across every aspect of society.

It is evident that there are few greater issues facing our country than the absence of male presence and fierce, pure masculine leadership.  

But what should we do? 

Mans search is about filling the void for male initiation, presence, and affirmation in our society, and it would be easy to lose hope looking around us.

But they don’t know your story. 

You are proof that there are men who are walking into the darkness of their soul, pursuing meaning, walking with wounds exposed among other men, facing the demons of their fathers, and taking action with soul.

We know the way up is down....  Down into the darkness of our being. And that the further down we go, together, the more meaning we find.

If you call yourself a friend, care.

Have you ever met someone who you greatly enjoy spending time with, whom you would like to be closer to, only to find that after you make multiple attempts to spend time together you only end up continually feeling disappointed by their lack of reciprocated action?

Or maybe, you even have a long-standing friend who consistently leaves you hanging and doesn't show by their actions that they care?

Perhaps this quote by Gordon Livingston will provide a piece of clarity: "Any relationship is under the control of the person who cares the least." 

It's such an enlightening, powerful quote on so many levels.

No one wants to find themselves continually battling for the time and affection of their "friends."

But maybe you are...

And, maybe, it’s time to find friends who care.

Why we face the shadows

We break because we seek to grow.

We cry because we long to be whole.

We express and open ourselves to pain because we long for comfort and connection.

For those of us who are growing and getting better, who are moving down in order to go up, who are facing our pain and suffering instead of running away- breaking isn't a sign of our brokenness, breaking is the sign of our transformation.

Making Refrigerator Art

Remember when you were 4 years old and you would grab your mustard yellow and forest green Crayola box of wax crayons and lose yourself sitting at the kitchen table drawing pictures of your favorite animals, people, and places?

And the feeling you had when you were finished and you would run to your mom excited to share your completed piece with her.

And the smile that would come across your faces and the praise you would receive as the magnet snapped to the fridge holding up your new masterpiece?

This desire...

The desire to create, to share an insight or special observation about the world, to say as Duane Prebble says, "Look, I did it. I made this. This is what I see and feel. This art is me.”

This cry is still in there.  

It's still in you, longing to come out, somewhere.

Whether you’re a welder, a cook, operations director, or whatever it is you put your hands to in your job, remember that there’s a little boy or girl inside longing to put his or her heart into the work of his hands.  It matters not what the craft is.

You can be a professional and still play.

You can be a boss and still create with the heart of a child.

Art is all about how you see, your unique perspective, what you notice that no one else does.

And it’s an irrevocable part to becoming whole....

Thus, today... what will you make for us?