I have long wondered how to define tithing with a sense of feeling and specificity. I have recently learned that it means to give sacrificially.
I have recently wondered how to define giving sacrificially. I have just learned that it means to give ridiculously and hilariously.
I am now wondering what it means to give ridiculously and hilariously. Am I willing to find out?
I have four hours to dedicate to one of these things.
-Finish off my latest list of chores. There will be another list tomorrow. I will see immediate results. Is my life just a pile of lists? What about my responsibilities? What about my dreams?
-Finish the book I've had sitting on my desk for three weeks. All of the other stuff will pile up. What's the point of finishing the list if I never relax and enjoy? Will I be letting someone else down by not getting my work done? Knowledge is more valuable than a washed car or returned purchase.
Every day presents the same opportunity. Should we do our goals before we do our duties?
"Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away." --Antoine de Saint-Exupery
"We are happy in proportion to the things we can do without." --Thoreau
Small is beautiful.
The bigger you build it (the house or the corporation) the more it takes to manage it. So spend your time building ideas instead of empires.
So how do you downsize and live simply?
1. Write down a detailed description of your priorities. Now, you're only hurting your chances if you write more than three.
2. Allocate your resources. You only have a certain amount of time and money. Know where they are going.
3. Learn to say, "no."
4. Build a routine. Out of bed at six one day, eight twenty the next, seven the other, and nine on Saturday's doesn't give you the structure you need. Pick an every day time.
5. Go ultralight. There's a huge difference in a fifty pound backpack and a twenty pounder. "But what if I need this? What if I need that?" I think we'd be surprised about how little we need. Your soul can feel the weight of your materialism just like your back can.
6. Give stuff away. Purge. Then at least one thing more thing every month for a year.
"Calls into existence the things that do not exist."
This is another phrase that Paul wrote in Romans that my eyes run back to on the page.
What doesn't exist in my life today? In yours?
Peace that sustains you when things get crazy? A good relationship with the person closest to you? The health of a family member? Enough money to pay the bills? Wisdom about what to do about that big decision?
The book of Romans tells the story of a guy who believed that God was the one who brought all of those things about. And then, well, He did.
Ah, the glorious trudge that is the book of Romans. Some have said it is the greatest letter ever written. It is full of so much hope.
It is full of so much depth.
It is full of so much conviction.
I hit chapter four this morning and had the time to do something I would highly recommend.
Read verses seven and eight and then just go for a short walk.
Think about what these verses mean.
"The Lord will not count his sin."
While on your short walk just reflect on all of those injustices, those hurts, that lack of consideration you and I have committed against other people. Think about what we have done in our lives that has hurt the heart of God.
He gave Jesus to us because he loves us. He doesn't ask us to earn heaven like so many other religions do. That comes as such a relief to me as I walk and reflect on the moments in my life where my heart was full of wrong.
Sometimes the beautiful word "forgiveness" gets swept over in my mind because of the frequency of its use. But something just not counting is a phrase I can wrap my mind around.
Numbers. Tallies. Strikes. I can picture those things.
When we say the name of Jesus and believe he is who he says he is, then our sin becomes invisible.
He just doesn't count it.
It is no longer seen.
It doesn't add up.
It doesn't burry you in its weight.
It doesn't exclude you from connection.
He sees Jesus and says, "what sin?"
The sun was pushing hard through the space between the thick curtains.
"Where am I?"
I looked at the glowing green numbers hoping they would give me a clue. I was inside an unfamiliar house and this small bed was latching on to me with it's heavy sheets. Not home. Motorcycle. Lawn chairs in the garage. Casey's family. Oh yeah, Illinois.
It was Easter morning in Illinois. He has risen. I should shower.
I cleaned up quickly after wondering throughout the duration of my glorious shower what time it was in this foreign state. I never wear my watch in the shower. I wondered who was up and if I had missed out on the family activities of the family that was not my own. If it was late and I had over slept, then I needed to walk down stairs and act like I had been awake for awhile. I cleared my throat and hummed a few notes to get the scratch out.
The smell of cabbage rested on the bottom stair. I would later find out that cabbage and sausage was an Easter tradition. I liked this tradition. The kitchen was empty so I continued on to the back yard where the grass was green and the ham was smoking. I felt my toes on the grass, which is rare. Normally I wouldn't have noticed the feeling of the grass, but I was on a cross country trip and noticing was the whole point.
Little Caden wanted to sit on the motorcycles in the driveway. Front seat. Back seat. White bike. Front. Honk horn. Black bike. Front seat. Back seat. Now multiply this by seventeen, and the fact that I hadn't eaten. "The bikes can't be sat on anymore or we will hurt them." This was a lie, of course. I chunked this sweet kid's eggs in the tall grass and grabbed a drink. I'm kidding. We had a lovely game of Easter egg hunting in the afternoon sun.
We left later that evening for Casey's other grandparents who lived down the interstate. The white lines tremolo-ed against the black. My hands soaked up the cold to my bones and my teeth rattled in my helmet. I would shake my legs at stop signs and tuck my hands under my inner thigh. Gosh, that was a cold night. But we arrived to the other house in time for ice cream.
Parking your motorcycle in a garage where you don't have to unload ever little piece of gear makes you feel like royalty. You people with those fancy gadgets called doors that close and lock have it easy. I looked through some of the old tools that hung on the walls. That wood plane hadn't moved from its spot in years.
"Oh my god! Oh my god!" Grandma Giessen said in her Chicago-native accent as she hobbled out into the garage and saw the motorcycles.
My notes from this day:
"Get people together often. Always eat outside when you can. People are all that matters. Lauren's tired voice warms my heart. I love her. I will tell her soon."
"You're not helping us find a home."
She said this in a cute, "hey wait a minute" tone as she put a spoon and some sherbet in her mouth.
She had looked over my shoulder at my computer screen in the disguise of a hug and found what she feared. She had been on the apartment hunt alone which is why I wasn't bringing in a single kill.
I wasn't helping us find a home. I was reading a new blog I recently discovered that is going to make me a better man. I thought about telling her this, but we both knew it was a lie. I smiled at her and asked her for some sherbet. She is nice to me when I'm dumb, which is why I'm marrying her, so she smiled back and shared.
I just wanted to start the search tomorrow. The productivity of September 26th had expired and I was willing to admit it. But what if it wasn't quite used up?
What is the smallest step that I could take right now? Tonight. Look for one apartment. Write one sentence for the blog. Read one chapter. Write one note.
I am setting a new rule for myself: Break the day barrier. Sleep puts a wall in front of the flow of conviction. It makes it easier to settle. So I will do just one thing tonight. It will make the inspiration transfer to the morning.
Do all of my dreams start tomorrow? I write about this often because I think about this often. I think about this often because I fall for this often.
This tomorrow syndrome that we've heard about since first grade is also why I haven't worked on this blog for a while. I'm trying to marry this girl...
...and wedding planning has made the "I'll blog later" excuse sit on the surface.
But not tonight. Tonight I will begin.
One other thought:
You have to sacrifice free time to get to freedom. I like feeling like I'm learning that.
The Green Room.
You know, the plush place where rock stars go to stay away from the screaming fans.
Well, just in case you didn't know, churches have these now.
(Insert dynamic that is convenient and cordial but drags with it the possibility of huge perspective issues.)
This may not apply to many people, but if you happen to be a worship leader, just walk through a Sunday morning in your mind and think about how screwed up our brains can get.
My screwed up brain is realizing a few things:
-If you never go out to the lobby, you are a performer, not a minister.
-You have your tea and crumpets (coffee and bagels) that the church (possibly some old lady's tithe) pays for while the rest of your community is having an encounter with the words of God on the other side of the wall.
-6:30 am. Set up. Green room. Stage. Multiplied by three services. Head home. Fall asleep to football. Welcome to the non-Sabbath.
-Be honest with yourself. Would you do it if they didn't pay you? If not, don't do it. You may not have the money to put in your savings, but you will save your soul.
-If you haven't prepared with personal worship (saturating, deep, authentic, craved time with Jesus) then you can't lead others in it. But yes, you can nail the tune and make other people think you are cool.
-What if you never thought of a prayer as a transition again?
-By the way, if one person begins to change this. The rest of us will follow...eventually.
"And it is essential of the happy life that a man would have almost no mail." -C.S. Lewis, while talking about his perfect daily routine. I felt this "happy life" while in Alaska these past two weeks. No texts, email, or calls. Just mountains, salmon, and ghost towns. The noise was gone. Lauren, Dad, Mom, Mike, Emily, Guy that Filleted the Halibut, and Earl the Lonely Park Ranger, were really the only people who I exchanged words with. I don't think Lewis is referring to a hermit's joy in disconnection, but rather in the joy of simplicity. And sometimes, to simplify you must disconnect. This preference is, without a doubt, in degree, due to personality. But it is also a part of each of our personhood. Everyone needs to slow down and unplug (literally) every once and a while. We are more connected that ever. I think babies are actually starting to be born with one hand that lights up, vibrates, gets stuck to the side of their face, and reveals images as you swipe up and down on it. Connection. Yes, we need it, but I believe Lewis is right in saying the unplugging can lead to deep peace and happiness once you we stop shuddering at the silence. When was the last time you heard a breeze? Alaska reminded me that by disconnecting we allow ourselves to be better at reconnecting. It's good to be back.
Warm covers. Cold face. Damp. Eyes still closed. Get up? No. Move? Turn over. Look up. The sun is young. Close eyes again. Fall back asleep. Swishing nylon. Zipping tent door. Casey up and moving. Readjust pillow. It smells foggy. I feel foggy. Tent too small to stretch. Sore bones. Old breath. Oh yeah, we're under a gazebo. Casey singing. Annoying on purpose. Smile. Turn back over. Coffee. Warmth. Steaming coffee. I don't want to pack. "Get up." No answer. "Get up." "I'm up." Unzip bag. Cold seeps in. Cold legs. Pants? There. Dress sitting down. Feet out of tent first. Pull on boots.
The fog is still burning off and our bikes are covered in dew. I flip my collar up high on my neck and survey the land that the light reveals. That huge cabin down by the lake is surprising. I rub my eyes to life as I walk down to the dock to wash off the sleep. It's too cold for a dip so I just wash my face and brush my teeth before walking back to finish packing.
I wish I remember what I prayed that morning. I remember feeling good about it.
A man emptying the trash at the McDonald's told us of his motorcycle travels over a cup of joe. After he finished flipping through his worn out pictures, Casey and I routed out the day. I've never loved breakfast as much in my life as I did on this trip. It always sank down into our bones.
The lines shot by below my feet. Yellow, yellow, yellow. The wind picked up later in the day and pushed us in bursts so we leaned into the invisible. Woomph! At times it blew so hard it whipped my head and hurt my ears. My fingernails turned blue because of the cold temperature and my death grip as we buzzed underneath the big white turbines that looked like origami. Those windy, flat plains of Indiana never got old like the other travelers said they would.
This brings me to a big point. Back roads are the key to traveling. They take longer and make you focus on the journey and not just the arrival. You see things. You see country stores and "liars benches." You see the colors of the cities on the map. America lives in the back roads. They hold all of our culture and nature. These interstates have killed our connection to each other. They have made us faster, busier, and more ignorant. Instead of seeing each other, we see the hunks of shiny metal plowing down the road. Interstates make the entire country look the same. The green signs and off ramps are under every skyline and big sky. We wanted to see America and we quickly realized that the interstates were going to cause us to skip it.
85 mph felt smooth on those roads. The fields looked like quilts and we zoomed along the stitched patches. We were heading toward Casey's family's place in Illinois. Tomorrow was Easter so we had a Mass to make. And if you miss Easter Vigil you go to hell, or miss the free beer, or something terrible. Catholics drink Bud Light in the fellowship hall, by the way. They love to party.
Casey's family welcomed us with cold drinks, sausage, and cabbage. They unloaded our bikes and sent us out to the back porch. I want to welcome people well like those great storytellers did. They made me a part of the family for the holiday. Casey and I took our unloaded bikes for a joy ride after Mass. We felt light and fast. We stood up and leaned into the wind. We told stories until 2:30 in the morning with the uncles after we returned from our night ride. As we sat by the work bench in the garage on our lawn chairs, I heard tale after tale of family memories. I want to be well-rounded like Uncle Joe. He has an enviable mustache and a light heart. We laughed until our bellies ached and our cigars burned out. That was how it should be. Men being men.
"The kingdom of God is in the midst of you." I know this is true. I was there. I was in it. This was one of the thoughts I scribbled in my journal at a gas station in Indiana.
Tom Waits "Rain Dogs"
Bob Dylan's "Greatest Hits"
Will Reagan and the United Pursuit Band
Passion "White Flag"
Death Cab "Codes and Keys"
The Roots "Undun"
Jay-Z "Blueprint 3"
My Morning Jacket "It Still Moves"
Matthew Mayfield "Now You're Free"
Augustana "Can't Love, Can't Hurt"
John Mayer "Continuum"
The morning carried in brisk air, wet grass, and a bright white sun. We recounted last night's crazy events as habits were starting to be built in to our packing schemes. Then we headed down the hill for warmth and coffee. Hearing Lauren tell her version of "The Scare" made it seem more treacherous than humorous and breakfast was spent reassuring those back home of our ability to stay out of the ditches on the side of the road.
I had so many thoughts and day dreams on the back of that bike that will be forever lost to the open road. When you embark on a trip with the theme of transition, any moment inside your helmet could be the lightbulb turning on. So you look for it. You search your memories, passions, goals, failures, what-ifs, winces, teeth grits, fist pumps, and blank stares for truths. Sometimes you find one or two, which is nice. But other times you run into lying facts. Your emotions turn on you constantly when you are stuck in your own skull for hours. The human brain led by human feelings can be a scary combination.
The heart is indeed deceitful.
One dangerous lie that my flesh told me was that seeing and scaling the world is the formula for a full life. Hints of this lie popped in my mind throughout this trip. Mountains and rivers can take a full cup and help it overflow, but they will never actually do the filling. I found out that, without love, they leave you lonely. You never see the beauty of the mountain you are standing on because you're always looking at the ones you have yet to reach. You are always going to need more mountains if you live this way. And they are magnificent and powerful, but they never run to you no matter how much you run to them. They are just rocks and runoffs unless seen with God and shared with others.
I'm glad God can run.
We snuck into a tour of Mammoth Cave before faking a dire diarrhea situation and getting the solo expedited tour by your friendly Kentucky neighborhood tour guide. Another hour in a hole in the ground, no matter its size, was going to put us behind schedule and we needed a shower. That two dollar shower followed by a few minutes of lounging in the warm sun created quite the moment for reminiscing.
Lauren's letter for day three was about Isaiah 53. It made me hungry for home and Scripture. Her devotion and prayer was the perfect supplement for my distracted and confused mind. I sat on that curb with my feet on the warm pavement and felt just right.
I sent her a postcard and wooed her by explaining how the depths of the cave were nothing compared to the depths of sorrow my heart felt when I was apart from her. Yeah, it was only the third day but I had been listening to Travis and Garth sing a bunch of country ballads and "if tomorrow never comes will she know how much I loved her?" That question felt as real as ever on those back roads.
Another great thing happened in Kentucky. It was the place where I finally understood Bob Dylan. I had been a casual fan for years, but Bob and I know each other well now.
We hit Princeton, Indiana, at nightfall and washed down a plate full of average Mexican food with cheap Mexican beer. Everything was indeed right in the world. Humanity even went above and beyond to prove her good heart to us as the YMCA caretaker offered his gazebo by the pond as our humble abode for the night. We felt lucky. And we were.
I was set to become a different man in about four hours.
I had the ring and it wasn't long before I'd be giving it to the girl.
I was ready to embrace my new relational status.
I was stepping into territories of feelings and responsibilities that people can't fully explain.
The dream was playing out with every step I took that day.
The coffee shop with one open seat, four hours to kill, and this new book were no coincidental formula for the afternoon of perfect perspective preparation.
No matter what you are engaging in next, put these thoughts in your brain first.
It's weird to pull the letters from this leather journal and smack them to the computer screen. "It already feels like it happened four years ago," Casey said over his glass of water as we waited outside the restaurant in the familiar downtown of Athens. I agree. I went into this trip knowing I would be walking through future memories, and here we are reminiscing.
Lauren gave me a box before I left. I stuck it in my green mesh bag that would ride all nine thousand miles on the left side of the bike. It held just enough of her and home in it to keep me focused on the road beneath me and in me as we hit day twenty-three and thirty-five.
"Look for God today. See the good news around you."
This was the theme from the note that I read at the beginning of the second day before I pulled on my wet leather gloves and packed up camp.
I think someone may have stolen half of my two man tent before I strapped it to the back of the bike because it was considerably smaller than I remembered. I knew Casey and I were close friends, but this was threatening to be a little too literal.
We walked down to the river and hopped a couple rocks so we could dip our hands in the cold water and wash the morning fog out of our eyes. The Smokies felt like a Guatemalan rain forest.
Last night we met a man who said his name was "neither here nor there." Ah, the mysteries of the open road. Who knows what he meant, but I felt like it meant something. Know what I mean?
The sun starts to fight through the trees as we ride out of camp.
I wonder when we'll settle into a rhythm. When will constant movement feel like the rest I so desire?
For now it is to Pigeon Forge, the place where America's consumerism is on display. If you like Pigeon Forge and its hundreds of pancake restaurants, I don't mean any offense. It just wasn't what we were looking for. We moved on.
We were separated by traffic and rain on our way into Knoxville and spent a couple hours trying to rendezvous after putting on our rain gear.
To the Tennessee hills.
We drove past Sergeant York's house and grave. He was a pacifist that received a lot of metals in WWI for shooting people and had a movie made about him that I watched in the eight grade. I thought a lot about memories. We had black beans and corn for dinner after settling in under the pavilion at a Separate Baptist Church. We weren't familiar with their doctrine, but assumed we could shout out a couple convincing Bible verses before they ran us off their property with their shotguns if they found our hiding spot.
"Do not murder! Take in sojourners!" were our go-to's.
It was dark and the turns were sneaking up on our headlights too quick for comfort so we had no other choice.
Then came the police officer. The first words out of his mouth were, "Todd Harrison?" which is my dad's name. Now, this is a strange greeting from a stranger with a gun and a bright light.
After a short discussion he let us know that our GPS had been malfunctioning and sending out emergency calls to our families. They were freaking out. We were telling stories and relieving our bladders in flowing fields. There was no cell service so the inexperience factor led them to conclude we were laying in a ditch by the church pressing all the SOS buttons on the GPS and looking to the sky for our rescue helicopter. Thankfully we weren't and we were able to get in touch with them. Afterward, conversation and sleep came easy as the kind officer reassured us we were camping in a safe place.
What to bring?
Gear is both an exciting and an expensive part of the process.
I cut corners to save cash in almost every area.
Yes, it all fit.
Yes, I looked like Che and his cousin in "The Motorcycle Diaries."
We planned quick and kept the luxuries slim, but here are a few of the most important road tested items:
-My Barbour International jacket will be a prized possession for the rest of my life. I wore it every day no matter the weather. Rain, snow, heat, mud, exploding soup cans, and bugs were all kept out like armor. I layered underneath when the temperature dropped into the thirties and left it unbuttoned in the Arizona sun.
-Leather boots. I went cowboy because, yes, I already had some.
-Leather work gloves and leather work mittens. My hands fall off when they get cold. I'd rather run fifty miles on a Georgia summer day than have cold hands. Not having a fairing on the bike made it so the wind chill at eighty miles an hour was quite intense. However, I didn't want to spend $200 on heated gloves. So I went with mittens. For $20 you can't beat the results, yet there is nothing you can do about the cold when you're scaling the Black Hills.
-Knife. Good for opening cans and feeling just a little more comfortable in that sketchy camping spot.
-Paracord. Never camp anywhere without it.
-Headlamp. Flashlights are a thing of the past.
-Less clothing than you think and a willingness to stink. Now, my bike wasn't outfitted with the slick and spacious cases so this will change with every rider's preferences. If you are willing to wear things more than once then you'll hit a laundry mat before you have to go for round four on those socks.
-Way to efficiently document. The days and states blur together. Find your own method, make it simple, and stick to it. I brought a journal and Casey brought a camera.
Casey is riding a 1990 BMW K100 and I am riding a 2007 Honda 1300 VTX.
And we are off.
We took our "before" pictures and ignored all thoughts about practicality and responsibility that the parking lot tried to stick to our feet. Packing was still a process that took stares and trial runs, but we had our headbands and sweet shades so there was no turning back. Before I knew it my leg had surprised me and swung over the saddle leaving no time for hesitation. We didn't know it, but we were ready and unprepared, which is the perfect combination for this sort of trip.
I didn't know this at the time, but Casey was sure his death was just around the next turn. And we were headed for the Smokies so he thought about it often.
"Three days. I was sure that was my maximum number of days left on this Earth."
You see, we'd never done this before. Riding motorcycles. Never done it. I had been riding for a highly experienced two weeks, but this was Casey's first launch out onto the open road. Our bikes, affectionately named White Lightning and Black Stallion because of their sheer beauty and imposing nature, roared passed the kids in the back seats of their minivans strapped in to their shallow dreams of flip down TV's and half empty bags of Doritos.
"Just wait, kid. Some day you'll be able to run off and become a real man," was in our swag and our sunglasses-tilting winks. We were bikers. Sure, our cruise control knobs fell off on the highway and we overflowed our gas tanks, but we were doing it and we were surviving to tell the story.
I opened my Road Atlas for the first time in Dahlonega and Casey pulled out his iPhone. This would be the trend for the entirety of the trip, and it would prove to be highly useful.
Old school versus new school. Paper versus electronic. Classical thinking versus modern thinking. Leather journal versus MacBook.
We were going to learn many things about each other and ourselves over the next thirty-eight days, and at the basis of it would be common goals and different methods. There is so much value in the alternate to your natural way of thinking.
As our steeds ate up the road beneath our boots, I began to feel my strings break. Now, there are the strings of love that distance can never sever, but the strings of schedules and patterns and comforts and time start to stretch. By day three they had let me go.
We were aiming for Great Smoky Mountain National Park and as we crossed into North Carolina the mountains grew and retreated from the road. The valleys stayed close and spurred us on. We were rookies that needed their encouragement. After a few miles, the big mountains let us back in and we started weaving. By the end of this trip, these "big mountains" will be modest hills in comparison.
Lauren's voice is soft and kind as we talk before the cell phone service runs out. I know that I will miss feeling that voice in the room. Like Garth says, a phone "just ain't enough to hold." But if I want to come home a better man, then I must keep going.
Dinner was triumphant. We lit our fire with the hundreds of pamphlets at the check in cabin. We cooked pork in a pot and ate asparagus out of a can that was sizzling hot over a wet fire. The trees shot up into the thick fog that made the road slick. All was green and so were we. We laughed at our luck and retreated within the moist tent walls. Our boots were wet but that was a problem for tomorrow.
"Everything is on purpose." I wrote that down as my lesson learned from this first day.
I left on a motorcycle trip across America fifty-seven days ago.
It lasted thirty-eight days.
I've been trying to figure out how to tell the story for nineteen days.
Here follows all accounts and recollections...well, some of them:
The Day Before:
I'm driving into the night down I-85 to Casey's loft. We will leave from there tomorrow morning to take a trip into America's mysteries. The city of Atlanta is just ahead and is bigger than it has ever been. The buildings reach higher. The car windows that act as TV screens, showing the world but not letting you in, are gone, and a breeze has taken their place.
This feels right. It has begun; the trip, yes, but also the remainder of life.
We're in Mokena, IL.
Happy Easter to all.
I miss my family and a girl back home, but I love the road and the journey that has just begun.
I just finished my Coke float made by Grandma Giessen and I'm sitting down with some rare internet.
So this whole blog-updates-from-the-road business is going to be a little different than I expected.
There is just too much to take in.
There is a ton to write about, but it just feels more right to put it on paper in a leather journal instead of throwing everything immediately into cyberspace.
As the hours and miles pile up the processing gets more smooth.
We'll see where all of this goes.
Keep going here for more steady updates:
It is just a bolt. It's not the bolt's fault that I can't get it off. A stripped screw that won't let go often sends me into a rage where I end up punching walls and yelling at babies. I had to take a step back from the bike the other day and view it as the beautiful piece of machinery that it is. The fact that little explosions send torque through the wheels to the road is quite the work of art.
This connects to this connects to this connects to this. That's all it is. So go get the right tools! The right tool takes an impossible feat of strength and turns it into a two minute project. Oh, and some times you just have to admit that the mechanic is the real man for the job. A kind, helpful mechanic is someone to save in your phone and call a true friend.
Paper maps bring happiness to my heart and and peace to my mind. Plan electronically but bring a road atlas.
Ask people that have been there before. I had no idea Chaco Canyon existed. Thanks, Joe.
Plan time to not have plans. The best thoughts and views happen in the journey not the destination.
If I could recommend one thing for you to do on this trip that is what I would tell you.
Realizing just how small you are will help you be blown away by this big world.
And it will help you tell better stories.
I'm new to this whole motorcycle thing, but I'm pretty sure it is going to stick around.
I realized it the other day when I was riding home from work. It was sunny and I was flowing down the turning country road and I felt good. I haven't even left on this "experience the world" trip of mine and I have experienced as much of the motorcycle world in one moment to know I will like it for life.
I recognized it when I passed the third motorcyclist on this old road. All three riders rode different style bikes, but all of them did the same thing.
This is no ordinary greeting. It has evolved over the years and has settled into the marrow of the riding culture.
Slight wrist extension.
Left arm straightens beyond handlebar.
Point down at the road.
I laughed underneath my helmet when the third rider waved and passed, which is quite startling in that small of a space.
We are all the same. We don't all have the same back stories, life interests, or "Road Hog" jackets, but we just like to ride.
I think I'm drawn to the wave because it signifies assuming you like someone before assuming you hate them.
"He rejects the here, is unhappy with it, wants to be farther up the trail but when he gets there will be just as unhappy because then it will be "here." What he's looking for, what he wants, is all around him but he doesn't want that because it is all around him."
A child is born with no senses.
He can't see, can't hear, can't taste, can't touch, can't smell.
Now, suppose that he is hooked up to tubes and somehow fed intravenously for eighteen years.
Would this child have a single thought in his head?
If so, where would it come from?
Is not everything you know derived from your senses?
Does that mean that our world exist simply as the brain's reaction to what it senses?
Is all knowledge just impressions taken directly from our senses?
Does the world exist entirely in our minds?
What about the things we know exist, but we can't technically sense...like time?
Or is there something else, some other source, that interacts with us beyond what we can observe with our senses?
"To be chosen by a rabbi in Jesus’ day was the highest honor bestowed on a young man.
When a Rabbi said, 'Come, Follow me,' there was an old Jewish saying that said to follow a rabbi was to 'be covered with the dust of his feet.' When Jesus said, 'Come and follow me,' the disciples knew exactly what he meant. It was the Hebrew custom to walk very close to your rabbi or teacher so that you could learn of his ways in every area of life. Following so close, you would wear his dust."
"Faith, by its very measure, must be tried."
"'Yes Lord, but...' is said by one who is fiercely ready but never goes."
"You can't plan Pentecost."
"What we call the process God calls the purpose."
"I know the two greatest commandments and I had better get on with them."
"Commands become divinely easy once we obey."
"We do the things that can be tabulated but we do not intercede for others in prayer. Intercession is the one thing which has no snares."
"What God desires is that I see Him walking on the sea with no shore, no success, nor goal in sight but simply having the absolute certainty that everything is all right."
"It requires a serious heart and a determined mind to pray past the ordinary and into the unusual."
"Worship beyond emotion."
"Forsake all and you will find all."
Initially I thought I would be riding a 1969 BMW R75 across the country. It was a rough looking beauty, but the character didn't scare me. As it turns out, it was going to cost too much money to fix it up so that put a quick halt on driving a vintage bike for 10,000 miles. Some day though...some day when there are a few more coins in the bank.
Then came the 1982 Honda GL500. I found it on a Friday and was going to drive to pick it up the following day. Yeah, the maroon had quite the '82 hew to it, but the saddlebags came with it and the owner was very knowledgable about its condition. So it was settled...I thought.
About two hours after deciding to go pick up the GL500 I received a phone call. Lauren's dad had just heard that I was planning on taking the trip. He told me he was excited for me and that he wanted me to take his bike.
Now, he rides a Honda 1300 VTX. This is quite a few levels up from the beater that I was looking at. The number 1300 is actually how many times nicer this bike is than any bike that I was going to be able to afford. It's in amazing shape and it isn't the color of your grandmother's Cadillac. I was blown away. Still am. At first I didn't think I could accept. But through his generosity and some hours spent learning how to accept a gift, it will be the bike that rolls over every mile from here to California and back.
I'll have to show you a picture of the route later.
As my finger follows the rim of my coffee cup and the stool holds my crossed feet, I realize I am no exception.
And you aren't either.
And neither is the person you love the most.
Every person will realize this at some point.
My realization was this:
I am ending. As soon my body stops growing it starts the process of winding down.
Now, I know there is the possibility of many years in my future. Or very few...woah...weird. But my feet have stopped growing and my hat size won't change so my body has concluded the process of growing up. My mind and spirit will progress toward further maturity...hopefully...but this thought that "my hands will never grow again" as I look at them typing just struck me as odd this morning.
No matter how lofty or little our accomplishments, we are all progressing toward our end.
And this is a good thing because life beyond this one is incomprehensibly better.
"There's nothing up ahead that's any better than it is right here."
-Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
Contentment is what leads to prosperous travels. There is no better moment to enjoy life than right now.
Traveling just puts you in a different place. If the only goal is to see what is next, we will be blind to the beauty we are sitting within right now. Mountains are just a pile of rocks if you don't enjoy the process of climbing them.
To forget this when taking a motorcycle trip would be sad.
To forget this on life's trip toward death would be detrimental to all that we are designed to be.
Well, I have committed. "Man, if this thing ever comes to a close we need to just take a trip. I don't know, maybe we should hike the Appalachian Trail or jump on some motorcycles and head across America. Anything, really."
I'm going with the second one. On April 1st, Casey and I will be heading out on a motorcycle trip across America. The goal is not the destination, but the miles in between. We'll probably ride the Pacific coast, take the back roads, see the Grand Canyon, and walk around in Montana, but all the details are yet to be planned. I haven't even left yet and I feel as if I have been extremely blessed in the pursuit of this trip. I'll write more about that later.
Is it a trip to "find myself?" No. It's a trip to find the thin places; the places where the distance between heaven and earth is small. I've heard it said that the Spirit of God rides in on the four winds. This trip is about trying to find all four and have the Spirit blow me away.
I am just searching for moments, and I want to stay in the habit of following through with dreams. This is not a running away, but a running back from a different direction. If I run far enough I'll be on my way back home. I just want to head out so that when I head back in I can "love it again for all new reasons."
Your house is burning down. Everyone is out. What do you take?
An old book, that thing she made, some photos and notes in the drawer, the bag that carries my soul on paper, the guitar that smells like west.
What does that say about who you are?
I'm a son and a brother and a man on my own. I don't like watching movies twice. I read other people's inspirations and steal them so that I feel like I'm living a full life. The things I want to be the best at I feel like I'm the worst at. My greatest fear is forgetting, but I have a hard time planning. I oftentimes write to release my conviction of doing. I memorize things that will help me in the future, and then I forget them shortly after. Magic and wonder are two of my favorite words. Posed photos seem like cheating. I hate offices and love mountains. I like it when old things work like new.
All of my friends are creators. We rush down roads together. They run toward forever and I get to come along. I feel like Keroac being shown around by those that do things that interest me. I scramble so we can all dance in the streets.
Lauren creates life's memories. Michael creates the steady flow. Grant creates the cave meeting. Justin creates the night swimming. Adam creates the song you know. Kyle creates the sights. Casey creates the moment's sound. Aaron creates the gathering. Ben creates the jam. Paul creates the clapping. Just to name a few. And there are many more. You all are.
I'm a man in motion and I'm glad I get to run, run, run with this crew. Motion man. Taken by Kyle DeLoach.
The woman on the subway reading her Bible in her peaceful world. Mine is filled with clatter. And clutter. But I see her. She is the church on the move. The pizza place in the old church in the big city. The stones that held the saved souls and sinners songs now throw dough and dollars. This is the church on the move.
Are you a part of the moving in or the moving out?
I want to connect us. When I say "us" what do I mean?
United States Russia Germany India Canada United Kingdom Netherlands Poland Italy Ukraine Saudi Arabia
Today, for the first time, I looked at the statistics about the viewers of this blog, and these were the countries that were represented. People from all over the world are checking in. And I have failed you. I have failed you because I have never connected you to each other by allowing you to share your common beliefs. For we must have some things in common if we have been led to this blog.
So I want to start connecting you.
I've never posted comments before. Why? Selfish opinions lead to division if we aren't careful. But let's unify. If you have a comment that leads to discussion that leads to disturbance in the norm that leads to unity for the purpose of change then I believe I have the responsibility to post it.
How to follow through with your resolution? I know, I know. The "how to" stuff is considered a load of junk most of the time. But remember the reason that it is called "how to" is because it tells you "how to" actually get it done.
1. Pick one. We're far enough into the new year to have forgotten most of them already. So think about thing that is most important for you to accomplish in the next year. 2. Make it smack you in the face. Set up ways to remind yourself about the resolution tomorrow, next week, and in June. Do the reminder setting right now. 3. Small version. You can't run a marathon (or whatever the resolution is) today. But you can do the small version of a marathon (run to the end of the driveway) as you close out of your internet browser. 4. Pump up the jams. Very very very...very few people in my generation do what they say when they say it. And the thing about my generation is I'm in it. So find someone to share the goal with and pump them up and have them do the same for you.
"The End." That what it says on the last page of my great grandfather's Bible. My grandparents gave his Bible to me for Christmas. This gift made me realize there is a difference in buying someone a gift and giving someone a gift. Many great gifts are bought, but then there are the gifts that are given. Gifts that are given require sacrifice on the behalf of the giver. I could feel the sacrifice in this gift as I flipped through its brown pages.
Thank you for giving me this gift. It holds my history and my future.
"The End" made me realize that all of this (look not only around the room but out the window for this to have the proper effect) will end. The ironic thing is that when all of this ends the book does not. It is sad to think about how much effort I put into things that will end. But there are things that don't end as well. My goal this year is to see the unending things more often.
It was 10:34 p.m. when I remembered. I had committed to thinking, "Now I'm getting ready to..." before every action on Christmas day. Except I didn't even one time. I left the idea in the dust of celebration. So I told myself I would reschedule the same goal to January 1st "because it would be even better to do it the first day of the new year." Except I had to wake up early and fly back to Atlanta and after remembering when I woke up, I forgot as I walked out the door. "I'll do it tomorrow for sure. It's the first day of Passion Conference and would fit perfectly into the purpose of the day." And it did.
Here's what I learned: "Now I'm going to judge that person's character based on my first introduction to him." "Now I'm going to not give this dude twenty bucks...wait." "Now I'm going to get impatient in traffic at the airport. Why? Just chill." "Now I'm going to realize that we are all the same. All 45,000 of us at this conference have the same opportunity to do good." "Now I'm going to thank God for giving Lauren the wisdom to say, 'Isn't it crazy that all of those words (Scripture scrolling on screens) are reality?'" "Now I'm going to think about what it would be like if my life ended right now in the Georgia Dome. Would I consider it to have been lived abundantly?" "Now I'm going to acknowledge that Jesus is divinely interrupting my right now." "Now I'm going to realize that no one is above anyone else because of their success." "Now I'm going to tell myself that I need 'my money' more than enslaved children do." "Now I'm going to try to talk myself into not trusting the charitable organization because 'who knows what they're going to do with my money?' God does. 'Oh yeah.'" "Now I'm going to assume things about this person's motives." "Now I'm going to learn from that guy the incredible witness of authentic kindness." "Now I'm going to tell myself I am supposed to be doing exactly what I'm doing in this moment. Am I doing it well?" "Now I'm going to pray for my desires before I thank God and ask him about his."