My Hot and Miserable Wife…

In case you didn’t know already, my wife is very pregnant and the temps have been very summery around here…

It all started back in winter though, I can remember it clearly. I recall that when we had announced our upcoming child, and told people the due date, it began almost immediately. We would say something like, ‘We’re having a baby, we won’t find out it’s sex early, and sometime around August 10th, is our due date.” Right then, is when the sympathy started.

Almost everyone, maybe some people even who read my blog, would begin to tell ‘hot summer pregnancy’ stories. The few predictable lines and questions would center around being uncomfortable in the heat, and readiness to get that baby out as soon as possible. Also, the common word that ended up being mentioned would be ‘miserable!’

Because of the regularity and repetitive nature of these conversations, Lindsay almost became defiant of the inevitable-ness of this seemingly unavoidable reaction to the combination of summertime and pregnancy. Even early on in this journey, I remember her openness to the natural processes she was experiencing and willingness to enjoy it for the amazing gift it is…

Well, if you are wondering if the summer heat has melted away her buoyant and upbeat spirit… It hasn’t.

We are fortunate in several respects, that she has the summer off from her teaching job, and can mainly control her exposure to outside weather. We aren’t pioneers homesteading on the prairie. We do have air conditioning and she stays in it most of the time. She is reasonable with her physical exertion. Besides twisting an ankle while watering the flowers one day, her body has handled this process quite normally.

I am lucky, that my wife has such a positive attitude about the truly dynamic changes she is experiencing. It seems that some people do have a tougher time with pregnancy in the summer. The thing that intrigues me most though, is the almost inherent need to offer up the negative as a first resort. I do think that when we humans share our struggles with each other, we can come closer together, since we then can relate back a tough time of our own. When we show vulnerability, we can connect on deep levels.

In the case of our late summer baby, I think the vulnerable message we have kept to ourselves is that we are really excited and honored to be able to partake in this amazing gift of another life. We are really blessed, that things have gone so smoothly so far. We appreciate that God has allowed us to experience first-hand, His beautiful creation. Complaining about the easily escapable warm weather, has not been on my wife’s list of to-do’s at all. Her confidence in the natural process, makes her sexier by the day to this adoring husband. Yup, my pregnant wife is hot this summer, but it’s not about the temperature :)

I am writing boldly today, about a journey we have not yet completed. She has not been miserable yet, in the last 9 months, but it’s not over. Maybe in the next 10 days or less, or more, she will finally get there. Hot and miserable, may yet come. Then when she runs across another soon-to-be mommy, she can deliver that same foreboding message. ‘You’re feeling alright now, but just wait till summer! You’ll be hot and miserable, you’ll see!”

Or maybe she’ll just smile and say “Congratulations! You are about to experience a special gift, enjoy all of it that you can.”

Funny thing to me, is this. When people talk to me about my wife, they mention the same broken record. Hot and miserable. When they tell me about the moment of watching their child come into the world. Almost unanimously, both men and women, younger and older, they all make sure to tell me how special and wonderful and amazing it is. Everyone seems to agree on that part too.

I’m looking forward to the moments ahead, but they can come in their own natural rhythm and time. I hope it’s not tomorrow, but if so we’ll be excited just the same. Until then, Lindsay will be relaxing indoors, making sure to be on the lookout, for when the miserable-ness arrives.

Until next week, be well, stay cool my friends and loved ones.

Sincerely,

Aaron Nichols

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Vandalization & Taggery, I’m Spraying Public Property, Again

I spray graffiti and vandalize the community property. Luckily, you have the free will choice to observe my graffiti or not. It is however, applied for graffiti’s purpose. I wasn’t really clear on the difference between graffiti and artwork, but I was shown that contrast recently. Noticing a distinction is the first step to change.

Another travel show was playing on my kitchen TV, while a made a mid-morning breakfast this week. I’m sure my antennae was tuned into the (crystal clear) KCPT channel Create. Someone was visiting a European country, they were diving deep into the local culture. At this point in the show, they were highlighting a local street artist.

The expansive murals decorated bland brick walls. The splashes of muted colors enhanced the public spaces. The figures of beautifully modern women, men and children acted out simple dramas and human moment stories in stylized brush strokes. The artist was using her skills to relate the real and raw emotions of human life.  Her style is so compelling and fresh, you felt the essence of each character and instantly understood their sadness, their bliss or their peaceful contentment.

In the interview process, the artist talked about how she preferred to paint and enhance the forgotten and dilapidated structures in a broken downtown area. When not working on large scales in public areas, she chose found objects and rusty old junk, to paint with her masterful civilian stories. She spent time explaining her disdain for choosing a new blank white canvas, as her medium. She wanted to take something that was perceived as trash, and turn it into treasure. Her artwork wanted to live in surprising places. It was finding it’s way onto oxidized old electrical panels or the inside of a drawer of an old desk. Her studio and gallery didn’t have easels or rectangles of painted sketches hung neatly on the wall.

The show host asked her about graffiti. They questioned her ‘street art’, in comparison with the local common graffiti art. She showed how, her canvas was a brick wall, just like the taggers and vandals. She showed how they both drew things in public places for the random passerby to see and experience. She showed how each artist had a unique style. She also showed exactly why hers was quite different.

Graffiti in the sense she was explaining is a simple thing. Although colorful and flashy, the design is one basic thing. It is a signature. She was comparing how her artwork may have been signed somewhere, but the content itself was a story. The pictures she creates are compelling and reflective. They are snippets of our human condition brushed artistically with her specifically compassionate and poignant point of view. A can of spray in the hands of a graffiti artist, merely writes their own name.

The video showed several versions of true graffiti. I had never looked at it that way before. Their spray-painted words had fluid spirit, distinct technique and panache. The signatures were brashly tagged in conspicuous spots. They emblazoned their own mark on the community and no one else could claim otherwise. Their name says it all!

So what is this blog? What is this weekly thing I sit down and bang out? Early and ahead of my day, or at the very tail end, spent and exhausted, just to slam something up on the screen? Using poor English and making up my own rules as I go. Sometimes making up words too.

For the most part, it’s Graffiti, through and through. I just want to tag the internet with my own signature. I want to see that picture of just my face, on my own facebook wall, attached to a story that I wrote about me. Ha! So sadly true. Sure, I’ve developed some style. I have constructed and completed tales of intricate nature, about the status of my own inner thoughts. I have made some kind of signature here, in almost 5 full years of writing.

True artwork is more than that. True artwork is a channel. The creator and greater consciousness than we can truly fathom, can work through an artist, the hands and fingers tell God’s story, not our own. A few tiny moments in this blogging journey have felt that way to me. The words just appear up on this endlessly expanding digital journal. I have noticed afterward, the complete blankness of my own mind and the fluid rush of energy, that actually did all the typing, almost without any of my intervention.

I am glad this artist pointed out the contrast. I am happy that she spoke a truth. Sometimes we forget to see the difference when God is behind our work, and when it is solely designed to enhance our own experience of the ego. We want that recognition for ourselves. We want to hear how great we are. We want our signature to be the focus, not God’s divine handiwork. We want to be noticed… At least I do.

So again this week, I tagg and spray. I swish and swoosh all over this screen and you get to read another signature story of me, that I have created to tell about me. Maybe though, someday, I can graduate and switch focus. Maybe the words will swing in their aim. Maybe they will open up and expand, being that channel and wide open high speed cable for transcendent truth… authentic art itself.

Until then, bear with me. I am still learning, still growing and practicing, still trying once again to let God know that I am here, and willing, if it be God’s will that I am used for God’s purposes…

With Sincere Love,

Aaron Nichols

Say My Name!

I don’t always blog about foul-mouthed rap artists, or sweet and kind teachers like Mrs. Chaney, or even infant babies, but when I do, I blog about them all, at the same time :)

It always struck me as interesting, that the breakout hit song (rap) by both Snoop Doggy Dogg and then later Eminem, had quite similar titles and themes. Both artists were being produced by Dr. Dre, and I don’t think it was a coincidence, and the themes of their first big hits were carefully calculated.

In 1993, Snoop Dogg’s hit song was ‘Who I am (What’s My Name). Later in 1999, Eminem made his mark with his version called “My Name Is.” Both of these too catchy tunes were designed to do one important thing: Imprint the name of the artist into your brain. They wanted to introduce themselves and paint a picture of their personality and style, but most of all, they wanted you to get their name stuck in your head.

Right about the time that Snoop was releasing that first hit single, I was in middle school. A class that I was signed up for in 7th or 8th grade was called Quest. It was a unique class taught by Mrs. Chaney. I think it was designed to exercise the emotions as well as the mind. We did personality test type activities and life lesson stuff too. I remember being uncomfortable often, but in a healthy way. One thing I will never forget from that class is that Mrs. Chaney taught us that our own Name, is everyone’s favorite word to hear.

She stressed that hearing our own name was a magical experience. We crave it as humans. We want to hear it spoken by those we love, and in almost all areas of life. When combined with a compliment, experiencing our actual name spoken, converts almost any mood to a good one. She wanted us to make it a point to try and remember people’s names. She wanted us to see how it could set us apart to be the type of person who would extend that important and valuable courtesy to those around us. Merely referring to someone as bud, or pal, or champ or friend, doesn’t make any impact, like knowing and saying someone’s actual name.

I think Dr. Dre and Mrs. Chaney both understood the power of a name. They both saw it as vital to personal success. The rappers wanted to express themselves in most powerful way possible. Mrs. Chaney wanted us to be able to connect with others in the most powerful way possible.

Speaking of possibilities, it seems like they are endless, when it comes to options for choosing a name for a soon-to-arrive infant child. My wife and I have spent lots of time bouncing around names for our baby incubato, but haven’t arrived at hardly any, we both agree sound good to our ears. I am not going to blog here about actual options we’ve toyed with, for boy or for girl. I will only say that we haven’t gotten anything exactly nailed down, and this kiddo is almost here.

For me, this naming process has been the toughest part of the pregnancy so far. I think Lindsay may not say the same thing :) This is a testament to her as well, she has handled the carrying of this child like a champ!

I did want to write tonight, about how the name we are given at birth, seems to be so important. I remember as a kid, at times, not liking my own name. I was told that it was a girls name. I remember thinking it didn’t sound very tough, when kids said things like that. Even then though, I did really like that it started with two of the letters ‘A’. I knew that at least alphabetically, I was always first in line :)

Later as an adult, I appreciated my name being a little bit unique. I appreciated it’s history and roots in the ancient world. I love that there is heritage and a story, that I can connect with, in the Bible. Lately though, through the power of the internet, a little clip has highlighted my name. Again I get to experience the schoolyard taunts when people call me Aye Aye Ron! (ha, superfunny for the 20hundreth time :) )

Last week we met a guy at our childbirth class. His name was Brayt. He probably has to tell a little clarification story every time he meets anyone new. He has to mention something about how he was named, and his parents. To us, he said they were high :)

Anyway, this naming thing is nothing that I take lightly. Many people have told me that the name of their child, just showed up in a flash. They were instantly given the name and it came through clear as a bell.

For us, that hasn’t seemed to happen yet. I do hope it does. Either way, if we choose a solid name, with sturdy provenance and flexibilty, I know that she or he won’t necessarily use it anyways. When they want to become a hardcore gangster rapper, they will just pick something else to go by, like Calvin Broadus and Marshall Mathers did :)

A parent can hope can’t he :)

Until next week, take care.

Sincerely,

Aaron Nichols

To go without, may be to get it anyways…

I slid my seldom-used oversized xtreme 5-day cooler into the back of our SUV last weekend, as one of the final items to pack for our camping trip. I did use a red and a blue bungee cord to keep it from shifting around. I was super surprised. I could see clearly through the truck to the front seats, we had a large tote with food in the backseat and our ‘CoolStuff’ bag, but not much else. The car was not crammed top-to-bottom front-to-back with all our crap!

I was able to pack TONS of gear and clothes and bedding and chairs into the pop-up camper hooked to the truck. WOW! I kinda forgot how sweeeet it is to have so much capacity to store gear in the clamped-down pop-up.

For years I owned a pop-up camper. I used it all the time. At one point it was set-up at the lake at least once a month, for 24 straight months. Fun Times! Back then I would pull it with my big 3/4 ton crew cab heavy-duty pickup. I had a fiberglass shell on the truck’s bed too. I loaded stuff in the shell, in the camper, in the back seats. I had stuff everywhere! I used to haul lots of gear, for every trip to the lake!

In the last several years though, I have cut back, trimmed down and been enjoying my camping trips with my wife and dog, and a simple Columbia tent. After sleeping in that thing all over the western U.S. I became very fond of it. Lindsay and I have camped under the stars and on the air-mattress-covered ground in Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas and Colorado too. After leaving the pop-up at home and using our tent, we eventually decided to sell it.

It has been maybe three years since I had a camper like that. Back when I owned my Coleman Pioneer Chesapeake edition tent-trailer I thought I did need more room in it. I regularly wished I had something bigger and better. I just had that gnawing knowing that my little pop-up wasn’t good enough and I wanted an upgrade.

Funny then, that I actually went the other way and began to appreciate the company of my (then) future-wife and our simple tenting lifestyle instead of needing to just increase the cool-factor of our camper. We have been quite content in various conditions with that orange and blue tent.

Since she is now in the last trimester of her pregnancy, she finally asked that we find another way to camp than sleeping on the air mattress on the ground. :) So when her brother and sister-in-law graciously allowed us to borrow their Palomino pop-up, we were super excited to have the extra room and air-conditioning for our long-weekend next a natural lake in Minnesota.

As we have been tent-camping for the last few years, I have gotten used to our system of cramming everything we need just into our car. One time we even fit all our gear, clothes, food, shelter, bedding and dog, into her 4-door pontiac car! Anyway, I loved finding room again in the pop-up to store our stuff. I was surprised and delighted that I had such a vast extra space on this latest trip. It was really really nice :)

Okay. I have done a lot of typing about camping gear and tents and trailers…. There is a point to all this.

I used to have something that I took for granted. I even was dissatisfied at times with it. Then I scaled back, pared down and lived more lightly for awhile. I began to appreciate that change. Then with this latest little vacation, I shifted again. I found new happiness in the things as they used to be.

Remember when I was saying that I used to want bigger and better and an upgrade from my old pop-up camper? Well now, I see that I would be quite happy again to have something just like I had before. I did need to let it go for awhile. I needed to distance myself from it. I needed to let go, and to try something stripped-down to the basics.

There is a parable that Wayne Dyer talks about it in his seminars. It is a tale about a man frustrated that his in-laws are living with him. He seeks out advice and a wise man advises him to bring his livestock into his house. Week after week, the exponentially increasing angry man visits the shaman. Again the shaman asks him to bring another outside animal into the home. Eventually, the man is completely outraged and distraught. His chaotic home is over-run with craziness! The wise-man then advises that he now, let all the animals back out of the house…

With the same exact situation the man had before, he is content. He can be happy now. He sees the circumstances in a brand-new context. He is relieved and refreshed, ready to move forward in love, knowing that things could really be much worse…

Where else in my life, can I use this lesson? I wonder where else I am tense and unhappy, wanting something to be different or better than it is right now. I wonder where else I can learn that just exactly what is, is exactly what I can be happy with, right here, right now.

I was thrilled to be camping last week. I would have liked our tent, but I did love using that borrowed pop-up camper. I enjoyed learning to master it’s little quirks. I had a great time with my wife and my dog, sleeping kinda under the stars. I didn’t need one thing to be better, it was just wholly good, just as it was. Good enough, that eventually we were ready to come home and enjoy own bed and shower with plenty of rushing hot water. It’s these little things that seem so good, when you’ve been away…

Returning… refreshed… thankful…

Sincerely,

Aaron Nichols

PS: We are in the market for a pop-up camper again. PM or Text me if you know one for sale :) Thanks!

We Love Lake Life

There are worse places to write my blog from. Sitting in my lawnchair, just outside a pop-up camper, with the crackling of several fires, the crazy buzz of this camping resort has died down. All around me are people, and kids, and dogs. They are packed in here, tight as sardines, each with a tent or trailer, coolers and kids toys. This is not our usual state park style campground, but the spectacle of it all, has been actually fun to watch.

Just moments ago there was a screaming kid, their raspy voice slicing through darkness. It was a good wail. The sniffles followed and then more screams. In the adjacent campsite, just 20 feet away, another annoyed kiddo was yelling back, “Quiet down over there! We’re trying to sleep!” Funny I but true, everyone did want the little guy or girl to shut up :)

We have been enjoying Kamp Dels Resort, here in Waterville, Minnesota for the last several days. Roxy and Lindsay and I, like our roadtrips and campouts, and this is one more good one together. Since I sort of refuse to plan ahead, we found this place just last Saturday, and booked it last Sunday. A last minute decision, for an almost week long vacation.

Luckily my wife is game, and allowed my procrastinational sense of adventure to prevail again. She bailed us out, by finding this open campground and did all the navigation to get us here. I almost couldn’t even tell you on a map where we are. She did all that :)

This resort is 60 years old. It is very well operated, a family affair. The grounds are tidy, and everything is up to date. I am using the parks excellent strength wifi right now to type live online. There is a mini-golf here and basketball courts, a fishing pond and lots of playgrounds. They have planned activities several times a day. To top it all off, they have a fancy waterpark/pool combo and a petting zoo too.

This place provides tons of services, and appears to be a thriving profit-making business.

On our first whole day in Minnesota, we took a drive, around to the other side of Lake Sakatah, from where our camp is. The State Park is over there. We pulled in to the driveway, and as we moved forward, nature closed in behind us. The thick trees envelope the little drives down to the picnic area and boat un-loading ramp. We saw a couple narrow hiking and biking and snowmobile trails cutting across the road, and quickly disappearing into the brush. We turned around at one dead end and traveled back to visit the State Park campsites.

Several one-way loops were dotted with the most basic of campsites. There was a marker post and little clearing in the trees. Some spots had a couple large boulders to block a car from driving in too far. All of them had a fire ring, but little else. Lindsay and I have used these kind of primitive areas before. In Colorado, we stayed in Difficult Campground, outside of Aspen. It too was bare-bones, but with a breathtaking mountain view. I saw the thick forest of native trees, the spartan accommodations and was glad we chose the over-commercialized campground across the lake.

Two ways to camp. Two philosophies. Each on it’s own side of the lake. I have now enjoyed my experiences in both types of places. I wouldn’t want to always have to choose one or the other.

Here at Kamp Dels, the nature has been cleared away. A large tract of land has been opened up. It is mowed and has paved roads galore. There is power and water available every 25 feet it seems, for another RV to pull in, right up against our own.

Across the way, the trees are still king. Lots of underbrush and wildlife I assume. No alpacas or shetland ponies, but all the animals over there, don’t live in cages.

On the eve of our nation’s Independence Day, I am reminded that sometimes people have to make a stand for what they believe. I see that there are times to choose your philosophy and create your own future from those ideals. There is a family, who lives on this property, and the entrepreneurial spirit has unfolded into decades of service and improvement and family fun. Across the pond, someone, or some organization, has held dear to the preservation of their property, almost forcing visitors into forgetting the outside world and becoming part of the natural landscape itself.

I am glad today, that I don’t have to choose just one place to drag in a trailer and setup camp. I want to choose both, at different times, for different reasons.

I do know though, that each day I get the opportunity to curate and to cultivate my own personal landscape of philosophies and beliefs. I must believe today, for certain, that I want to spend my time with my wife. Just with her, and I guess, Roxy too. I must have made that my mission, to invest my energy into making time for our relationship to be enriched through visiting downtown Minneapolis together.

I must each day, decide what I want my own experience to look like. Do I want to clear cut and start fresh, do I want business, and service to others and maybe even profit, to be on my own agenda? Would I rather, let the natural world overgrow my day. Would I want to let the flowers and the trees and even the weeds too, be where I spend my time? Just letting nature take it’s course, trying not to tread to heavily upon it?

Today, I wanted to explore. I almost always want to explore. I love that my wife, is willing to do that with me. My navigatress on this beautiful journey, is so special in my heart :)

I just hope that this time next year, we can be camping again, with our new little person along for the ride. Hopefully we can still adventure and explore and pioneer, in the next stages to come. Maybe we can be the ones, wishing it wasn’t our baby, screaming with an alarmingly loud raspy little voice, cutting through the almost black darkness of the campground night.

Sounds fun to me :) Like I said, there are much worse places to write my Independence Day blog from :)

Sincerely,

Aaron Nichols

Ain’t got grease enough, for this squeaky wheel

The repetitive ear piercing screech was driving me crazy… as I was, well… driving. I had crossed the Rockies and found my way to the most northwest corner of Colorado, when the squeaking really set in.

I had cruised through some canyons on the east side of the mountains, my car ran smooth. I crested the Trail Ridge Road and motored across the high plains, all was good. By the time I found myself waay out by Crag and Maybell, I began a loong drive on dusty gravel ‘highways’ toward Utah.

I followed the directions that some locals and my big paper atlas were suggesting I take. No one else seemed to be using this same route. I was bouncing along on red clay and potholes, all through open range grazing areas and desert bluffs. The scenery was awesome. The constant whining squeak from the front wheels of my truck, was not.

I clearly remember wanting to drive with all my windows down and the stereo off. I wanted to soak up the views and just enjoy as much of this outdoors as possible. I wanted so badly to love the first real steps away from my known universe on my cross-country roadtrip. I was dying to be in perfect harmony with the moment.

BUT I was not.

This darn squeak had me annoyed, and worried. I was in a rugged area, far from any town or other motorists. The screeching sound did break into the brief silence, over and over and over again. I wished it away, but that did not work. I truly wondered if there was something wrong with the my car and something was about to break off. It sounded really bad.

I remember driving for hours, wanting the journey to be perfect, and hating the noise simultaneously. Eventually, I made my way through the corner of Utah. The sounds continued. I drove fast across I-80 in Wyoming, and all seemed okay. As soon as I slowed down though, the creaking squawk was back.

A nice guy at a mechanic shop lifted up the front of my truck. We shook the wheels real hard, there was very little or no play. I wasn’t hearing the shredding of the metal from there, Thank God. I was hearing a classic brake dust squeak, that just wouldn’t quit.

I tried the carwash, over and over. I may have tried a can of stop squeak too. Anyway this annoying noise was messing me up, and diverting my attention away from enjoying the roadtrip of my lifetime, waay back in 2010.

I drove that car from Princeton, Kansas, waaay out west. I drove to the Oregon coast, down the 1 highway in California almost all the way south, then back home. The squeaking wheels did not break off the car, and leave me stranded, or send me careening off of some remote cliff in the desert or volcanic mountain.

The vehicle, my 2001 Isuzu Trooper, performed like a champ.

In the moment though, I did not know the whole story. I couldn’t see the entire trip from beginning to end. I only could experience one moment at a time. That was quite nerve-racking for me. This annoying sound, sailing into my ears, second after second, minute after minute and hour after hour, began to send me into insanity.

I worried alot about it then. I kept driving and eventually it was all okay. Those scary feelings in my gut, did not leave nearly the impression on my memory, that the beautiful vista views did though. I can smell that ocean breeze. I can clearly remember the salty fog and grey-orange sunset of northern California… The squeaky wheel now, is just an anecdote from an awesome adventure.

I wonder what I worry about today? I wonder what twists up my guts in silent panic, that is really no big deal, in the really big picture? I wonder what squeaky wheels grab my attention, and divert my eyes from the magical moments right in front of my face today?

I remember that quote, “Don’t sweat the small stuff, and it’s all small stuff.”

Well, I have sweated it, and yet we seem to be allowed to carry on anyway. I know my enjoyment of the evening I rumbled into Utah on a dusty red-rock backroad, was hindered by my worry over the squeaky wheel.

What a fantastic trip. Squeaky wheel and all. I would do it all over again right now, given half a chance. I wonder though, if I would be able to let all the small stuff float through my consciousness and truly enjoy the ride?

Probably sorta kinda :)

And It again would be totally worth it.

:)

Sincerely,

Aaron Nichols

Taking my shots

Pppshhhhhttttt-tink! Pppshhhhhttttt-tink! Pppshhhhhttttt-tink! Ahh Ahh! Ouch!!

Hey, that doesn’t really hurt at all!

I clearly remember a gang of cousins hanging around a little construction project in the driveway at my Uncle Stan’s farm in Rantoul Kansas, when I was about third-grade age. He was building something, maybe a rabbit hutch or a chicken coop. I remember it was a box-shaped thing, made of wood and wire netting.

He had a pneumatic staple gun. He was tacking the wire cloth to the wooden frames. While we were watching, he pointed the gun right at me and let ‘er rip!

Pppshhhhhttttt-tink! Pppshhhhhttttt-tink! Pppshhhhhttttt-tink!

I probably screamed, or almost cried. I was terrified I remember in that moment. “Ahh Ahh! Ouch!!” I might have exclaimed. I remember thinking I would look down and see blood, or we would have to go to the hospital to have the staples removed. I probably was even mad and shocked that my beloved uncle would do something as sinister as shooting his little nephew with that loud and dangerous staple gun!

Actually there was no pain at all when the staples hit me. I don’t think they even stuck to my naked chest. (His three step-sons and I had probably spent that day playing the pond) The staples did hit me, but literally almost nothing happened…

All my emotional reaction and shock, was for naught. Actually it was probably worth a good laugh to see my face reel back in horror, for that one split second :)

I thought about that moment, probably 25 years after it happened, this week. I remember mainly being disturbed, and confused with wonder…

See, before the moment that my uncle shot his little air-stapler at me, I was quite sure that his handheld tool was capable of blasting deadly force if aimed at a human… I was sure that pointing it in any direction but into the project’s wooden frame, was just plain dangerous and wrong. I was probably scared to even get near that air-gun, since it was an ‘adult’ tool and not for kids to be touching in any way shape or form. The moment that the jokester Uncle Stan, shot it at me, a whole world of preconceived ideas shattered as the little tinny staple bounced off of me and landed without a sound in the gravel below.

I expected a shot of lead from a .357 Mag, and instead it was a loosely tossed paperclip.

Huh?

Throughout my life, I can recall times when paradigms have shifted for me. This little story is just one of many. It does however describe the same event occurring over and over. I have a concrete reinforced box in my brain about how a certain thing, or person or event, ‘should’ be. Then something comes along and completely obliterates that rock-solid mental construct instantly.

Interesting isn’t it. Something that can seem so absolutely true in one moment, can become absolutely false in the next. Maybe sometimes it doesn’t happen in a one-hundred-eighty-degree fashion. Sometimes the black or the white of our mind, can instantly transform to grey.

I guess it is a good thing, that I don’t still today, hold each and every idea dearly that my third-grade self did. I am sure that the evolution and the growth of each of our lives, requires us to step from one lily pad of knowledge and understanding to the next, leaving the old one behind.

I do however wonder, if the next new shift in my own consciousness is a lasting extended foundational concept for me to build on, or if it is fleeting as well?

I can get lost, experiencing one new epiphany after another. I can shed and release old idea after old idea, until eventually I have lost track of my bearings. I seem to swim in unchartered waters. Are there sharks there? Am I finally reaching shore again? Is the ‘forward’ progress even a projection at all? Maybe a backslide feels like momentum in the mental tide of the day.

We have a new little life coming to us soon. I know that we will want to impart ideas on the new fresh mind. We will probably want to instill caution and tease the baby’s curiosity. We will want this mini little person to think like we think. But is that a good thing?

I don’t know. I have forever been unfolding new versions of understanding since I entered this space we call Earth. I suppose our little one will too. Sometimes I decide that journey is treacherous and exhausting. I cringe and reel back, or lash out in anger, when confronted with these moments. I have heard though, that some individuals are energized and excited with the adventure of taking on challenges in life. Whether mental or spiritual or physical, there are those who love the thrill of pushing their own limits, finding new freedoms within the movement of transition itself.

Often I live the worm’s existence. Wanting to inch along, wanting to hide from sunshine, I want to creep unchanged through the same dirt today, as I did the day before.

Wish me luck, as I am continually shot at, and I continually cry out. I want to learn to love those moments. Finding the love and truth and fun of life, outside the ideas of what I have believed so far to be absolutely true. I want to know those thrills from the driver’s seat, and not the rumble seat. I hope too that by sharing these words, that someone out there can relate, and learn again, that our human experiences are more alike than they are different.

Maybe you too, thought that danger and death was at hand, and really it is not. Maybe there is a lighthearted joy behind it all. Maybe you will find a love that always wants to keep you and hold you and never let anything harm you, even when it seems to be happening all around. The love of Jesus Christ is like that. At least for now, that seems to be what I know.

With Love,

Sincerely,

Aaron Nichols

The Masters

I love to watch a master. Don’t you? When you see someone perform and you just completely get the harmony between their person and their craft, it is amazing.

I watched my favorite band play live last night. Play they did! I have been watching The Band of Heathens play live since 2010. They sound better and better every time I see them. They are true musicians. They have written their songs. They each play multiple instruments with excellence. Their extended jams, harmonies, teamwork and energy are pure joy to hear and to see.

These guys have been honing their craft and right now it is RAZOR sharp!

And so is yours. And so is mine. And so is my neighbor’s down the street.

Sorta.

I so appreciated the effort and practice that the Ed and Gordy and Trevor and Richard and Scott have cultivated in their lives together. It is true art, to behold. I have a feeling though, that these same guys wouldn’t rock as hard or as smooth on their guitar or drums or harmonica or piano, if they did it as a hobby. If any of these same amazing musicians had decided to live a ‘balanced’ life, or more normal life, they just wouldn’t be nearly as good.

Thank goodness that they have chosen to ride around the country for months at a time, together in a van pulling a little trailer. I’m so appreciative that they spend time away from their families and bounce from city to city, just playing gig after gig after gig. Year after year, every time they come around they seem to be even better than before.

I’m sure that I am also getting better at my chosen paths in life. I am repeating cycles over and over and over. Surely, I am learning as I go, making corrections, and become more instinctively in tune with my practices… Hmmm….

I probably am doing this same daily reinforcement of activity, but I know that I have not completely and fully committed myself to one specific profession. The boys in the band, play a few different instruments, but they don’t seem to be trying to do anything but music. They don’t seem to share time between a 9-5 job, or every weekend at the lake. They don’t seem to attend every family event that a young Dad could do. They are giving up certain things to stay focused on the music. Sacrifice is part of their commitment.

I am sure I sacrifice too. In an opposite way, I sacrifice all my musical talents and them dwindle and die, while I choose to not play a guitar every day. I sacrifice landscapes and portraits and scenes of brilliant color, every day that I don’t pick up a paintbrush and oils. I sacrifice too, and so do you. I choose, what I choose, and that leaves certain things out.

Yes, I do think we are mastering our craft. In ways it is amazing to watch all of us perform our daily tasks. The musicians of the BoH, give me particular joy to watch, but so does a performance on sunday morning at church. The energy that is stirred in me, is almost perfectly mirrored by the mastery of the musician.

I have become the most adept and amazing artist of my own version of life, that is unique to the whole of the universe. You are too. You are the only one, who is doing the exact version of YOU right now. You are rocking it, hardcore! You have your 10,000 hours of practical experience and it shows. Whatever you are being and doing and committed to, you have made this all manifest from a constant stream of choices.

Wow, I wonder what would happen, if I someday decided to drop certain activities and lead a less ‘balanced’ lifestyle. What if I just chose one of my ‘things’ instead of the array of ‘things’ that I now give my precious attention to.

One of our team members at the restaurant the other day told me that her boss has an eight to ten dollar per minute value on his time in their dental office. Nice, I would bet that some other folks out there are creating on an even higher level than that. What if I thought that the value of my time could be represented in these kind of numbers? Where would I spend it? Where would I drop certain time wasting and sucking activities. Where would I decide to hone and practice and re-work the work over again, until I had mastered it?

I love watching Masters perform their passion, their true love and the thing that they have devoted their lives to… I’m betting that it feels even better to be that Master, to dance momentarily an the exact natural rhythm, bordering on perfection, and knowing all you want to do is keep playing that same tune.

I do scatter and squander and spray my attention. I am master of that it seems :) I again sit here, late at night and also sacrifice sleep, to do this writing thing. Someday it may seem like I planned it that way. All part of the process of mastery :)

Sincerly,

Until Next Week, God Bless You :)

Aaron Nichols

Don’t just do

I was cutting up a chunk of partially frozen meat a few weeks ago. I had to push really hard to force my knife blade all the way down through it. I remember choking up on the handle really far. In fact my index finger was curled across the back ridge of the stainless steel. It had scooted up past the fat round white plastic handle. I carved and sawed my way through, until the meat was diced. And inside my latex glove, I had worn a hole in my hand.

When I took off the glove, it looked real red and raw. I had been so vigorously slicing that I didn’t care about the little pointed pain in my fingy. That index finger was just scraping back and forth across the square edge of the back of my knife. I got the job done, but I injured myself in the process.

That little wound became a nagging and painful problem for the next week and half. The soreness hung around. The location was constantly being hit and beat up. I was in no real kind of dangerous pain, but It was annoying for sure.

The following week, again I was cutting a similar chunk of meat. Maybe this one wasn’t as firm, but I wanted to be sure and not hurt myself like I had the week before. I paid more attention to my grip on the knife. I was attentive to little hotspots that I could feel working on certain little pressure points in my hand. I did better that time, but still managed to cut a new blister in the gripping area of my right hand.

Finally this week, I really backed off of vigorous knifing techniques. I slowed down. I was deliberate and methodical. I moved my hand to many different positions and didn’t hardly stick with one for more than a stroke or two. I am pretty sure, this week, I won’t have even one blister to monitor, or work around in my hand. It has been a month since it was healed all over…

My hand is an easy place to notice excessive wear. It tells me quickly when I have hurt it. It remains in a state of painfulness and tenderness, that only fades slightly each day. The restoration is not immediate. It takes awhile to recover from a simple little surface level skin abrasion….

I wonder what other parts of my life are just like this. I wonder what other areas are wounded and need to be worked around for awhile till they heal. I am thinking that I still repeated my mistakes, even when I intended not to.

Today, it took as much conscious effort to protect the health of my hand, as it did, to complete the job, the task on the board in front of me.

Self preservation and accomplishing my goal, needed equal amounts of my attention and focus.

I just noticed this fact today. I noticed lots of them. I want to remind myself sometimes of the truths being shown to me in every little detail of life.

“How some things work, is how all things work.” I remember coach Steve Chandler saying. When I wonder if that statement is true, I find that yes, it seems to be.

Until next week, stay weird my friends.

Sincerely,

Aaron Nichols

The Eyes Have It

After last week’s post on this page, I’m not sure what gas is left in the writing tank. I wondered to myself all week, and aloud to my wife if that post was maybe the whole reason for weirdforgood.com. I considered that I have possibly been slowly circling, rounding and swirling, week after week, cruising ever closer to that big ole blog about my Dad… Maybe so.

I do know that a massive mountain of weight and angst has seemed to lift up from my shoulders and release since then. I have walked lighter and looked brighter at almost all the little moments in my day, since I got my latest download from God the creator.

I laugh at myself too. I know that I can talk big, here in this space, about things I ‘know’ or what seems to be true for me today. It all can change again tomorrow, I do feel changes, swinging forth and back. This latest moment of fresh sublime joy will fade and pass.

A deep and bitter wound is seeming to heal up.

I think Jesus is on my side. I think there just has to be something significant and real, about this unseen force in my life. I cannot explain it any other way. I know that I have been no perfect christian (not that they exist)… And I know I have so far to go, in my spiritual walk. I am an infant, totally dependent, being loved in so many ways and yet crying about everything.

I guess I wanted to post a short and simple message tonight. It has taken until 2:41 am to really decide to make it this clear.

If you haven’t checked out this man called Jesus, I ask you to do it now. Just let that inner curiosity find some answers somewhere, some how. You could look up something about Jesus on the web. You could stop clickig through that church tv channel. You could tune into a christian radio station. You can start almost anywhere really. You probably would find that Jesus can connect with you, wherever you are right this instant. I find that church doesn’t have to be involved at all… if you’re not into that idea at this point.

Something good happened to my life, when I began to feed the myself some gospel. A lot of tough things have happened too. I probably would have backed down from the challenges Jesus has set me up for, if I would have seen them all together at once before starting the journey. I know though, somehow I have been able to stretch and walk step after step through it all. Actually, I was probably carried.

What a completely personal thing to mention to you, my reader today. I don’t have any idea where you are in your life. I don’t know the struggles you’re facing, or the breezy joys that you smile about often. Maybe it has never crossed your mind, that Jesus has a plan for your life, and how it gives purpose to your days.

I just wanted to stop and say these words tonight. I cannot explain to you why this important. I cannot tell you good reasons to give a crap, about what I’ve just written. All those things are invisible to me, from my point of view. Your world is yours. I have no way to really know it.

I do know that something urges me, to urge you. Maybe Jesus needs your help, your hands, your heart and eyes and real muscle to do some good work. Sometimes I feel Him working through my eyes. It is strange but wonderful. I think He’s looking through me, seeing you, wanting you to embrace the Savior of the World.

I want to sleep and dream of that now.

Next week, I will be weird again, maybe about the Lamb, the Son of God, maybe not. Come back then and see what’s new.

Peace be with You.

Sincerely,

Aaron Nichols