I finally bought the TV Service they sell at Wal-Mart… NOT.

It is a real wonder that I have ever tried anything new or different in my life. Sometimes I begin to wonder if I ever really have. I can pinpoint my patterns that have been in perpetual repetition for as long as I can remember. I am talking about patterns of behaviors, habits, emotional responses and most especially cyclical thoughts that ever return, over and over again.

Funny then, that the idea of repetitiveness comes from my encounter yet again, with the TV sales guy at Wal-Mart yesterday. I don’t know if you visit that store as much as I do (and I hope you don’t) but for several months they have allowed a team of salespeople to bug you about buying their TV service anytime you walk past the electronics department.

Grrrr…

I walk past there several times a week. So then, I am constantly asked a little ‘opener’ question about what TV service I have. I already know what to expect. I have seen them from down the isle. I usually (only halfway politely) respond with the fact that I have free TV service that comes out of the airwaves. They usually tell me that they have a great service also, and at a really good price. I have not yet found it to be as cheap as FREE, but maybe by the time the 150th salesperson engages me, they will find a way to describe it as so cheap, it’s almost free… Yeah Right.

Anyway, as I walked away from Mr. TV Guy yesterday, I once again said a little ‘good thought’ prayer for him. I do hope that he finds productive valuable work and can give his talents to something more substantive than bugging shoppers to sign his contract.

I was thinking about how I really don’t ever like to be ‘sold’ something. I was thinking about how I do not ever want my current mission to be derailed and rerouted into the ‘swinging deal’ that some salesman is hawking. I don’t let the root of my intentions for my day, be redirected into becoming the pawn in someone else’s sales goals… not without my permission first, and very first.

Of course I do engage in purchasing and consuming like most other people. I have signed contracts and bought things and helped someone else hit their sales goals. I do it probably every day, on some level. However, I much prefer the open door, the business who provides a good product or service, and I get to hunt them down, when I want to.

These are tiny examples of my personal ‘come-from’ and probably a lot of other people’s too. I think of this idea in terms of business ideas I have tried, and also failed at. I have tried to create services that offered things people could need. Like marketing/advertising/web design for your small business. I have tried to offer personal financial fitness coaching, to help people feel more in control of their money problems. I have also done some life coaching.

Selling things like this was hard for me. I felt that people (like me) didn’t want to be sold on something, they wanted to be able to ask for it, hunt it down and feel they were the ones who made it happen. (Like Me)

According to Mr. Steve Chandler, this idea in itself is a mental blockage.  A life coach is someone who can bring a cool drink of water to the sun-baked and thirsty desert wanderer. He expressed new realms of thought around the idea of selling and allowing someone access to a product or service.

I do love hearing him speak about those exciting concepts… However, I usually crawl back into the dark hole of my well-known comfortable past experiences. I want the alleviation that complacency allows. I want the same problems again, because I know them well. New ones would be scary, I guess. Maybe even better problems, more exciting and fun and fulfilling, but I tend to keep new and different at bay.

So there I go, settling back into the deeply contoured seat that my the fat butt of my being has worn over and over again through the decades. I think I return to the same issues and experiences, that I truly always have.

I see my young nephews developing their personalities. At four years old, you can see now, things that were noticeable almost as infants. I have a kid on the way too. I wonder what specific shapes their personality will carry throughout their lifetime?

I know some people who work on this stuff, trying to ‘fix’ it. I have met and talked with those who have attended Landmark Forum seminars, they have tools to reprogram the mind, they say. I have seen the work of Byron Katie, who seems to take the opposite approach, she teaches to Love What Is. Michael Neil, who I have met and talked with, has a book out called the Inside Out Revolution, where all the work we need to do is within our power, inside of ourselves, and then the world becomes what we want it to be…

I know about all this ‘life coaching’ and behavior stuff, because I was interested in it. I hunted it out. I wanted to learn about new possibilities for me, for others. It wasn’t because someone caught me passing by and ‘sold’ me on it…

I may always be curious and always wanting to learn about new streams of thought. I may always choose to stay stagnant and stuck, even when help is right across a thin line of action. I know my own victim-mentality better than ever now. I know I could start the conversation with the TV Sales Guy. I know I could witness to him, probably get him to avoid me :) I could do a lot of things…

I probably will do things I have done before. Until I am just completely fed up, and the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of change. (Dr. Henry Cloud)

Until next week. Take Care.

Sincerely,

Aaron Nichols

“We change our behavior when the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of changing. Consequences give us the pain that motivates us to change.”

― Henry Cloud

You won’t believe what my Wife got me for Christmas!

My wife gave me a special present for Christmas this year. It was totally unexpected and I was blown away that she was able to completely surprise me. This is a post about a gift, yes, but as always there is more than just some consumer review for you here at weirdforgood.com

I opened the squareish hard plastic packaging of my GoPro camera, a few days before Christmas. Lindsay insisted that I go ahead and spoil the surprise. She was smart. I needed a few days to get used to the thing, before the family togetherness, so that I would know how to use it.

I began right away, making a mini video of her and I just sitting around the living room. Then I had fun with my nephews running down the hall at Mom’s house too. Anytime you put a couple three-year-old faces on the screen, cuteness ensues :)

I spent hours working on editing and processing family videos over that first week. I also found the urge to upgrade the accessories I have for it. I also dumped a few hundred more dollars into my computer for faster processing speeds.

I know a lot more about the whole world of GoPro today, than I did when I first opened the package. My intelligent and thoughtful wife, found something she knew I would enjoy, and spent the money to give it to me :) I am blessed :)

I watched some interviews with the founder of the GoPro company. He is a guy that just wanted some good shots of his experiences out in the water, on his surfboard. He did the research, found a camera maker to work with, and the rest is history.

He said that these little, super-mountable cameras have become a ‘life-capture’ device for the tons and tons of people who now have them. He is right. I have been using mine for basic ‘life-capture’.

See, I not only have taken shots at family events, but I bring the thing to our volleyball games too. I also can be found setting it up at the Brand’N Iron, where I eventually plan to make a fun little video for showing people our food, our place and most importantly our great team. I will post it on facebook and our website, I think it will be lots of fun :)

Now that I have several and I mean several hours of footage of my own life, I have started to notice some problems… See, when I see myself on video, I don’t always enjoy watching that footage…

I see in the volleyball videos, my unathleticness…

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I see my body from new, and unattractive angles…
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I see missed opportunities and moments where I’ve failed myself and the team.

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I even filmed some practice from yesterday. It felt good at the time, but I see in the video, how much room I have for improvement… Wow, look at that jump! Bleh!vid-2

At the Iron, last night, I shot more clips there too… Upon review, there are certain things I will choose to leave out…  :(vid-1Sure, I have some good moments in all these activities. I even win points sometimes in volleyball, even with my dismal athletic prowess… But the super interesting thing to me, is how completely different my own life experience feels from driver’s seat inside my mind, to how it looks from the completely objective perspective of that little camera’s lens.

In fact, what this GoPro device really does, is remind me of the time I was really working on the art of Life Coaching. This camera performs a service, which is quite useful and powerful and presents us with a way to understand ourselves better than ever.

If I shoot a video of you, I look at it, and see, what I usually see. But when I take footage of myself, I see something that I can never, ever, ever get in any other way. I see the truth of how I walk, how I talk, how mobile or not, I appear from outside my own body. I get to sit with the images, the audio and the story of me, told by a completely opinion-less device.

In the coaching world, we understand that people are absolutely unable to perceive their own selves without a mirror, another person, or another lens that looks at them from the outside. When I see my own problems from inside my mind, looking out at the world from my own skull, I cannot physically or metaphysically understand all the possibilities and tools and opportunities I have at my disposal.

From inside my own self, my perspective is a tiny sliver of the spectrum of truth. It is filtered through a lifetime of regrets or low self-esteem. Huge dangerous dark risks can be overlooked from that point. Inherent hope and bright white light may not be noticed from the inner space of my tiny mind.

The best coaches that I ever met, worked a lot like the little GoPro camera. They just captured a moment of my life, then showed it to me. They could report diligently and without any opinion or judgement or any shielding of the cold hard truth. They simply showed me, what was. They then gave support or ideas or cleared up the moment to help me decide what I wanted to do about that truth we experienced together.

The little GoPro is not a replacement for a life coach. I don’t recommend everyone swap compassionate human intelligence for chunk of plastic and wires. There is huge value however in noticing ourselves from a brand-new perspective. I see now, how I want to make changes in myself. I want to do that, to better connect and to bring closer together the ideas in my mind, to how I operate in the world.

I can be soo negative on myself. I can get lost in the muck and mire of every-day-ness. With my little camera, maybe I can start spinning some new loops of thought into old broken records. Maybe I can see myself at work, at play and in moments of success. I can let those little filmstrips play on repeat and begin to build something fresher, more positive and delightful as a way of being, than just noticing my faults again and always again.

Even though the lens captures ugliness, there is beauty there too. I see our team. I see hard work. I see family and smiles. I see myself trying and failing, but at least trying to create something fun and bright and unique in this ever mind-numbingly repeatative world.

Thanks My Love, My beautiful pregnant wife, who I am so honored to be blessed because of. I appreciate you so much :)

Sincerely,

Aaron Nichols

 

My big belly and my dinky head

How soon does your gut tell you the truth?? When does it let you forget the truth? The stomach-brain is something I have heard of before, probably blogged about before, but really have no education on. I was thinking about my stomach-brain yesterday morning.

That ‘thinking’ is done with my head, my skull-brain, I guess. I was working with a professional serviceman, he was there to help us. Actually he was late, compared to the time we were told he would arrive, to help us. As the problem was being diagnosed (at our restaurant) and technically dissected, I got messages from my stomach brain.

I knew a couple things about the situation: Overall, everything would be fine. In the long run, we would be back to good working order, and even better than before, eventually. I knew we would have a hassle and extra effort for the next few days working without our main big walk-in refrigerator.

We had already cleared our inventory and found other less-convenient places to put the produce and dairy and meat, but it was not easy to find the pieces in our new tightly packed puzzle. Yet, I was not knocking my knees together, wondering how we could operate for a couple short days.

The next thing I knew was that our technician and the company we were dealing with wasn’t a great fit for my personality. Throughout the day this became more evident as the expected phone call and bid, never arrived. I still have yet to hear any real numbers as of this morning. We were told that the fix could possibly be underway quickly, even Today, possibly. Yeah, that ain’t happenin’.

So what, big deal, crap happens. This I get. I am not upset or derailed or angry over it. I do want to acknowledge the wisdom of my gut however. When a professional suggests a time, or an action that will take place, their stock drops quickly, for every minute they are late, or that phone doesn’t ring.

In our business, at The Iron, we don’t guarantee times of delivery on our menus or for the drinks and especially the food. We would be in hot water, when things get backed up and the food takes a long time. Either way, people have a reasonable expectation and need to be talked to and communicated with, about their orders. I try to do a good job of that.

My stomach-brain is so much more steady and relaxed than my flickering-twittering-strobe-flashing-hamster-wheel in my head. It is a deeper and more understanding place to operate from. I got that funny unsettled feeling in my gut yesterday, about the way this repair job will play out. Again, in the big picture, it will all be fine. Life goes on. We may pay more than we like, it may not happen as quickly as we’d like. I do trust that things will be installed correctly. I will update you, if my gut has mislead me on these truths.

Today, I only want to take the time and energy to write out the concept of noticing the wisdom of my gut. I do want to shed the physical jiggling mass of the belly around it. But I don’t want to disregard the power and depth of it’s intelligence and concrete discernment.

For the last several months all the energy went through my head, I thank God, that somehow the flow is shifting ever again, and my gut is doing some clear-headed talking.

I hope you have a fantastic weekend. Wish me luck, as we move forward, always with a challenge, but always able to rise up with the demands of it. Some how some way, by God’s almighty Will.

Sincerely,

Aaron Nichols

Duct-tape mountains and pyramids of sand

I want the ‘Once and for Always’ solutions usually, no make that… Always. Maybe it’s a man thing, maybe it’s a ‘me’ thing, but when I engage and work on a problem, I want my hard work and time invested to create such a fantastic fix, that the problem never occurs again…

Reasonable, right??

Uhh… nope.

Specifics you say?? Well, just this week I was down under the bar at our restaurant. I sawed and cut apart pipe, then glued new pieces together. I taped and threaded heavy brass chunks together, making a monstrous combination of plastic and metal. It was unorthodox plumbing work, to say the least. We had been experiencing a leak back there for a couple weeks, and I wanted to create a final and permanent solution to that problem…

I almost did. I stopped 99.9% of the water from dripping onto the floor and that is a big improvement over the mini-ponds we’d been mopping up lately… The fix for today does seem to be holding, but how ‘permanent’ can I really expect it to be? The last incarnation of this poorly designed water supply lasted almost ten years. Even ten whole years is faaaaaar from forever.

Other examples at, The Iron, include; designing a dynamic scheduling system online. I have made a snazzy Google document that anyone on the staff, can view from anywhere. I can update it from my phone or computer, wherever I may be. It is a tool that is key to the operation of our business… but it ain’t a permanent fix. In theory, I would love to just plug the names in, and leave it be. A weekly rotation that works for everyone, and keeps our place working smoooooth… Ha. I did create it with good structure, but it needs constant effort to function properly.

At my tee shirt designing job at Front Row Sports, I want the same permanent fixes to our artistic problems. I intentionally send a customer three or even four design ideas for their team or organization, because I crave this finality to all my work. I want to give them several options so that I do not have to return to square one, and start again from a blank slate, as I did before. I want to give them something, anything, that can be used to continue on and build from. Most of the time, they choose one of the ideas sent, and we finalize from there. Those are great for me.

These little examples pale in comparison to other foreverness and permanence that I notice in the world. As a kid, I was always intrigued by earlier world cultures. I loved reading Greek mythology and seeing the works of the Renaissance artists, but especially I loved picture books and stories of ancient Egypt. The pyramids and tombs, the Sphinx and all those hieroglyphics fascinated me at a very young age. Talk about permanence! Those structures are mighty and built to last. Somehow, the ideas and work and stone from thousands of years ago is available today to go and view and tour. I would like to do that myself someday.

In the presence of Prometheus and the other Bristlecone Pine trees in the White Mountains of California, I felt a profound calm. Some of those exact trees were young, when the Egyptian pyramids were young too… These beings are alive. They aren’t stone or paint on an underground wall hidden from the desert elements. They survive exposed on the peak of a rocky hillside, waay above other trees. As far as living things go, they are the most permanent single individuals we know of, on our whole planet.

We walked past in the blink of an eye to them. We, as modern Americans have visited them for just a single breath of their venerable lives. We are as transient and quick as the clouds across their high altitude sky.

Ha! Permanence is a joke, and I want it in everything. Funny huh? I beg for problems to go away, once and for all. I yearn to put things behind me, never to return to them again. I’m dying to step forward onto newer ever greener grasses and to always leave a trail of fullness and completion in my wake…

Are you laughing right now?? You should be. I should too :)

My infinitesimally microscopic existence is such a minute pinprick of a fraction of a millisecond, that almost everything I do or say or produce, will be gone instantly, as soon as I am. The world and time and the universe suffer nothing as they spin forward, onward and toward mystery. I am clutching a solidity that just has never existed.

The pyramids are tough, yes. They are big hunks of stone, but stone crumbles. The ancients left us great works of architecture and art, but we’ve got to be here to observe them to notice their significance, and maybe we won’t last forever either. Even the Bristlecone Pines, will eventually all die. There are threats to them right now, and we may watch the death of their five-thousand-year reign on top of that mountain.

Even the mountain itself, wasn’t always, always. There are fossils up there, rocks that used to be at the bottom of a great sea. Amazing that the floor of the earth can grow to the ceiling. I’m betting that if the bottom can make it to the top, then the reverse is possible still.

I can relax a little now. I’ve spent these few minutes reminding myself that not one thing that I can see is permanent. Nothing I can can create or work on, or try to fix, will be that way forever. If I know this, then maybe I can calm myself easier, as the broken record returns again and brings me a recycled old issue that I wish would just go away.

God has created me to want forever. It seems to be stitched into the core of the fabric of my being. I notice this vast contrast between the perceivable world, it’s flawed and rotten constant deconstruction, and one true absolute divinity. The creator of all is the essence of Always. The one true God could be measured as the equation that explains everything, but that equation would blow our minds to pieces, with it’s simplicity and power. Impossible-ness, exists simultaneously with the reality we experience every day in God.

I want God. It’s not even a religious thing. God is the want, I wake up to every day. I may think it’s food or money or booze or sex or health or family or kids or business or success or prestige or comfort or even love. All those pale in comparison, they are just a flash of a hologram. The inexplicable foundational truth of God, isn’t.

My subconscious watches the world deteriorate, second by quickly passing second, and it begs me to grasp ahold of the only thing that doesn’t. Maybe my ego, my spiritual idea of myself, does not want to die. It wants to see itself live on, somehow, anyhow. It cannot handle the idea that it won’t be here forever. And it won’t, in the same way that it is now.

My soul, my essence could, however return to the Creator, to the Always, and maybe have a chance to experience something beyond these wet paper walls of planet earth…

I thank the Savior of the World, Jesus the Christ, today and every day, for his gift of everlasting life to me and to you.

Sincerely,

Aaron Nichols

No Year Resolutions

Do you remember back when I posted a blog, almost as if a demon was typing? The words were about that evil spirit’s boredom with me. I assume that my subconscious on that evening, wanted to expel some darkness. I needed to let out some frustrations and anger, probably that I had attributed to choosing sobriety a couple years ago… Well, that blog, is one that I am truly proud of.

It’s kinda insane, to write like that. It really pushed the limits of what I was willing to publish for my family and friends to read. It scared me to see it on the screen. I was scared to think, what you may have thought about it, as you read it.

That’s what made it so goooood. For me.

I have to someday, finally and fully detach into a space that allows complete expression, for this writing thing to ever produce nutritious fruits. I must get there. I cannot stay in the shallows, just prancing along the water’s edge, unwilling to fully immerse. I can of course, do that. Do it forever. I don’t think that is what I truly want though. I have to release and let go of insecurity, to become the conduit for inspired work.

‘This writing thing’ could be replaced with many different ideas however. My weekly blog is a place where I can forever stay small, keep myself contained in this tiny pond of my own pretentiousnesses. I could speak about other areas where I do this too though. My work as an ‘artist’ designing tee shirts for local kids to wear while they play baseball… This work of mine is the same way. It is art, yes, but barely. It is more of a clipart puzzle game, filled with a million fonts. That’s it. There are some people however, who may use this medium to truly express ideas. They have and will change the world, with simple ink on tee. I probably won’t though.

I can keep thinking up areas in my life where I live into caution and conservation. I probably, sickeningly, do it all over my little world. Last week, we invited Bethany Chapel  Baptist Church, to worship with us, at Westminster Presbyterian. The congregation of Bethany Chapel is the Black Church in our community. They came and showed us what true expression is all about. Between their general enthusiasm, their divine musicality and the fervent, demanding and deeply spiritual sermon of their Pastor Walker, I was truly convicted. As a whole, they worshiped their hearts out. Individually they spared no gift. Wow, is all I have to say. I was in tears many times, just watching and hearing their souls singing out.

I clapped a little, and out-of-time, but I again stay in my little comfortable box. I don’t want to really let it all go.

This is a new year. Another chance to somehow start clean and make a bunch of promises to myself, most of which I won’t keep. I see that now, more as a moment to reflect, than to project. I am at least pretty good at reflecting…

Yes, to think and to dive into darkness between my ears is something I can make big resolutions about. I will certainly follow through with them. Almost without any gain or progress to show, I will run ultra-marathons in my mind in the upcoming year. Funny how the more I use my mind to run circles, the less in-shape it actually is. Allowing these dead end thoughts and re-runs to run rampant, is the couch-potato-ness of the brain.

Maybe this blog is one more place where I exercise this sloth of mind. It’s an excuse to spew my mental diarrhea, while I claim it is contributing to the comprehensiveness of the collective consciousness… Hardly. It’s another reason to sit and do nothing, instead of something great. I type this, instead of the next great novel. Not that I want to do that either.

Nope. I forsee from Jan One, a year like most my other years. I see that I am not the center of the universe, but I am the only point in which I can play with it. I pass on so many opportunities. I walk tightly the line between cookie-cutter-consumerism as religion, and begging for personal spiritual Armageddon. I want to live out some extreme sports fantasy, and yet do it, while barely moving, hanging in a hammock in my garage in Princeton, Kansas. Ha…

Yes, No matter what takes place this year, it will be like all of the other ones. It will pivot upon my ability to let go and just dance playfully with life, or my stubborn resistance and fear of failure. I can stand along the wall and watch others take center stage. I can do it again every year, forever. If I do, I hope someday to enjoy this place more. I want to at least appreciate exponentially the ‘here-ness’ of the instant I do inhabit.

I am blessed in so many ways. I suppose it could be pure lack of appreciation that allows my mind to mistake today for just living on the sidelines. I could be right in the middle of an epic moment and never know it. I think I could try harder though. I think I have more in me, than I let out. I think that something electric is awake, even if I remain prone and still.

God has put this resignation in me for some reason. Maybe 2015 will be the year I start to find out, what that reason is.

With Love, to everyone who has given their moments to befriend me on this journey, I say God Bless You. I Love You.

Sincerely,

Aaron Nichols

Greatly Given and Thanks Again, I was one Lucky Kid

Trouble for Trumpets is an oversized elegantly illustrated children’s book I was given as a kid. Each page is chock full of beautifully detailed drawings. Of particular interest is it’s attention to the natural world and even little ‘key’ elements that explain what every plant on the page is. Trumpets are a group of peaceful happy summertime creatures, and their enemies the Grumpets aren’t. They are evil and mischievous, they want to conquer and destroy. They love dark cold wintertime.

I probably read that book a hundred times in bed at night, as a little kid. With so many tiny surprise discoveries to be made, I eventually found them all. Even a couple topless Trumpets are there, if you look real close.

Anyway, the thing this book reminds me of, are the gifts I was given as a kid. There were so many generous people around us, as we grew up. Of course our family bought presents at birthdays and Christmas, but my parents friends did it too. The ones that stick out most in my mind, are the puzzles, the brain games, the unique and even weird things that I was given.

I don’t remember as much about sports items or spider-man. I do remember though, the science experiments or books on ancient Egypt. I thought that people wanted me to explore with my mind. I thought they saw value in creativity and exploration. I thought the lack of being given everything Spiderman or all of the Transformers was kind of a blessing.

I don’t remember other kids having as much interest in National Geographic Maps that I always found in my grandparents basement. Their collection of those magazines were my ‘internet’ and ‘google’ as a kid. You could just grab a stack anywhere in the dozens of shelves worth, and travel the world.

It was christmas just yesterday. We gave some kids some toys. I loved watching their faces and seeing their excitement. It is hard to not want to just spoil the crap out of them, because I get so much joy from it.

I hope that being involved in the lives of my nephews gives them a different look at the world than what they will find prevalent in our modern culture. I hope something I do, will impact them later on in life. I am thankful for the present I got long ago, a book called Trouble for Trumpets. Someone took the time to purchase something unique and interesting for me.

In the case of my Grandparents and their massive magazine collection, it didn’t stop there. Every day-trip I remember with my Grandma, was fun, but always educational too. She wanted us to see museums and discover.

I hope something I do, out of my own interests, shows a kid the world. I hope just pointing my attention in a unique direction will shed light on something the normal world isn’t already gilding in flashing neon.

I was a lucky kid. I hope that I can help some other kid too feel lucky, and not just spoiled, even at a time like this. Like Christmas.

Sincerely,

Aaron Nichols

Red-Bull-Shizzle

‘I love mowing the lawn. I spend that time just thinking. I get some great epiphanies during those chores’… were the words of a handsome Red Bull Xtreme Athlete. I saw his stunts on a cool video this morning. The film faded from the benign steerings of his green John Deer lawn tractor, to a steep stark white scene. The steep mountain face was covered in snow and his skiing descent included the use of a mini parachute wing, for when the cliff dropped off several hundred feet…

Hmmm…..

There are many differences between myself and this gentleman. I don’t para-ski the world’s most dangerously exquisite slopes… and I don’t enjoy mowing either.

Funny idn’t it. I saw that clip this morning, and all through the day, I keep going back to my shocking reaction to his mowing statement. When he talked about loving those times to ‘think’ I couldn’t relate at all. Then again I couldn’t relate to skiing off the edge of a mountain either, we have certainly covered that.

Nope. I don’t look forward to mundane repetitive tasks that allow me the opportunity to ‘think.’ I put mowing in that category, and sadly exercise too, to an extent. I guess that I have always had a problem with those moments that allowed time to ‘think’.

I think plenty. Too plenty in fact. The thinking is so constant and such a barrage-like assault between my ears, that I don’t want to create chances for more of it. All day, and all night long too, a torrent of flashes of images, phrases, memories and concerns fly by the windshield of my mind. I can have whole exchanges of dialogue, filled with response and retort many times over, in a short couple seconds. I am not bragging, or believing that I am much different than other people in this way, but I do seem to be bothered by it.

I avoid tasks that will take a long time, with one repetitive action, happening over and over. At the restaurant, where I work, my favorite times are the most busy. I have a matched-up version of that mental barrage taking place in the physical world in real-time. I want those moments to happen. Time disappears, my mind can feel quiet, while the world is clash-banging all around. When people are speaking out requests, and I move quickly from one problem to the next, I enjoy the frantic-ness of that freestyling flow.

I have some epiphanies during those busy times. I do need to have all cylinders firing for something divine to slip through the usual mindjunk of mental spam. An inspired thought that arrives unexpectedly, is what the para-skier liked about his mowing routine.

In the last few years I have come to understand that I will be the receiver of those moments more often as a surprise in between my thoughts, than when I try to directly create my own answers. Even though I know this. I rarely try to construct the situations where these might occur with predictable or useful regularity. Instead I do what I know doesn’t work that well. I live in distracto land, until a crisis arrives and then punt. I fret and hope I made the right call. Maybe I do, maybe I don’t.

It seems that the guy who sails off of the mountains with a chunk of fabric and a couple fiberglass sticks on his feet, has found his own way to operate this machine of a mind we’ve all been given. Good for him. It seems to be working out.

My wife may read this an encourage me to reconsider my aversion to mowing. Maybe she’ll suggest that I too, could start to get epiphanies while shortening our grass. Eh, I don’t know about that. I would agree that discovering the methods to utilize our mental abilities for good, could change everything, for the better.

I believe that I used to enjoy alcohol for the same type of reasons. The mind could be numbed for awhile. I could let go more easily from the rip-snortin’ freight train of my brain. I did forget everything altogether on many occasions. It was counter-productive though. Even though many of my epiphanies sounded awesome while drunk, they weren’t.

So, here we are. Middle of the night again. I had some fleeting moments of calm flow while writing this mediocre piece for my blog. I guess this is one place where my mind can walk, while my fingers talk… and I ride the train, instead of being run over by it.

I appreciate your readership. I wish you a very Merry Christmas. I hope you too are like the para-skier, and know exactly how, to receive the best of blessings that the Holy Spirit lays upon our minds, and more importantly, our hearts.

God Bless,

Sincerely,

Aaron Nichols

I love Tripping, yes that kind :)

Ran into Smoke the other day. Hadn’t seen him in years. He asked me, “Been on any of your trips lately?”… Hmm… I said, “Not Really.” I did add that “This gas station is a great place to take off from though.” I smiled as I remembered filling up my tank in Princeton, KS, one summer morning, and saying goodbye, with a West Coast destination, arrival time, ‘whenever.’

Dang, that was a good day.

I guess my ‘A Shell and a Stone’ trip, is the one Smoke was inquiring about. I don’t know. Maybe he just meant those many country cruising trips, or dunes trips, or Ohio trips or canoe trips, that I used to do… As soon as he said, ‘trip’, my mind went West :)

This week on Netflix, I was reminiscing of that big adventure, as I watched the Top Gear (Original UK version) guys on their various special overland missions. I re-watched Jeremy, James and Richard, driving across Bolivia, and India and Botswana. They did an Arctic run to the North Pole. Their search for the source of the Nile river is laugh-out-loud funny at times. I couldn’t find the scooter trip in Asia though. Most of the specials involve on and off-road epic challenges made in cheaply-bought used cars.

Just like my own trip, they usually don’t have the biggest and best of vehicles, with all the outfitted gear. At least for the viewers they show plenty of real world problems and adversities of life on the road. Unlike my journeys, they have a support truck and production crew too.

Anyway, the fun of watching these episodes is to see the camaraderie and shenanigans these three friends enjoy and subject each other to, while crossing the beautiful and sometimes dangerous, third world locations.

Something else I found on Netflix is the entirety of the Top Gear series, back to the very beginning. Actually Season 2, that you can access there, is a ‘New’ version of it. I think that James and Richard were recent additions to the older original show at that point. These early episodes are not unwatchable, but they certainly are forced feeling. It’s nice to see that they didn’t always have the genuine friendship and connection, that now you can notice in every show. They started green, just like everybody does. With many repetitions though, they are now super popular and have spin-off shows all around the world.

The authenticity of their brotherhood is what really draws me to watch them. It is real, and took real time to develop.

My first trip to the West and back was probably just like their early work too. I remember it being an amazing moment in my life, but I was pushing too hard. I was trying for it to be something. I watched the scorecard everyday. I wanted to accumulate points and miles and present my accomplishments to my own little world back home. I created my first ever blog on that trip. I woke up each day with a serious drive in my mind. I wanted to devour the blacktop. I ate up miles, states at a time. I was running away furiously. I was running toward something deliriously. I don’t think I really had a handle on the truth at either end of the highway. I still don’t.

I was uncoordinated and raw. I hadn’t yet matured in my relationship with myself. I was probably un-watchable, from my own point of view, but I didn’t see that then. It is probably worse now :)

Last week during the Sunday sermon, our Pastor, Tim, relayed John the Baptist’s one-word message. ‘Repent’, he explained, was the action of an about-face. A 180 degree turn and motion in reverse of the previous direction. I think my 2010 Roadtrip came at a point of my development where I wanted to do just that. I needed it. This blog itself, has a tagline of “Making the Turn, and Proud of It.” Ha! Big words, from a little boy.

I remember my more recent trips to Colorado with my wife. On two of them, we traveled through the Rockies via serious off-roading. The Alpine loop near Ouray, and several difficult 4×4 trails outside of Aspen and Leadville challenged my driving skills. I had to ‘Repent’ in order to proceed up, and also back down the mountain.

The switchback roads are the only way up or down. You can’t go straight to the top. A switchback has a drop-off shelf on one side, the steepness of a sheer cliff face on the other. You are driving slightly uphill, and at a certain point, you have to turn 180 degrees. This moment is spooky. Turning the car directly up and back the other way, can take several tries. Sometimes you have to start and stop and reverse downhill, toward imminent death, in order to make this directional change.

I got that on Sunday. I think God’s mountains in our spiritual lives are just exactly like the physical granite ones. A Switchback is the only way up, or down. We have to Repent, and then Repent again. Again and again and again. The more comfortable we become, with turning and climbing, or turning and descending, the further we can go. But only so fast. We just can’t get to the top instantly. We just can’t return to sea level from a scary height, all at once. It takes carefulness and intention. When I feel safe and level, it is a short moment in between ‘turns’. If I stay that way for long, I’ve stopped. I am now subject to the weather, to storms, I cannot get away. If I rust in place, right there along the road, I only have my unwillingness to change, to blame.

I liked watching those early Top Gear programs. It is nice to see that even the best in the business, struggle at first. The way they started out, you would never have guessed they had so much potential within them. A couple dozen people stood around them in their hangar studio back then. Now hundreds come to watch and laugh and enjoy a show about relationships, with the pretense of being about cars, while millions view around the world.

It gives me hopes for myself, for everyone and everything around me. If we are struggling, there could be greatness in our future. To Turn, and to Repent, and to take a new direction in the opposite way, is a way out and forward, when none seems to be available. In my own world, I have chosen to drive off the edge, many times. I look back at 2010 as a starting point. My ‘trip’ really never ended. I haven’t returned. I may never again, be where I was back then. In many ways I hope I’m not.

I hope the best for Smoke, I’m glad that the one thing he wanted to ask me was about my Trips. That is what this whole thing we call life, really is, right? Just a trip. A short one. It’s a journey with a start and an end, that we get to navigate as we wish. I do hope I take John the Baptist’s off-roading advice, and keep turning and turning and turning. I hope I keep going forward, no matter how slow sometimes. In the end, the views will be absolutely spectacular :)

Sincerely,

Aaron Nichols

 

 

Last Call, and First Light

The lights on our Christmas tree are off at this time of night. 2:18 am and even our twinkling cheery decorations are sleeping. I should be too.

I want to wiggle up into this space and let something go. I see tiny hints of ideas flash quick and then release. My blog this week won’t come to me easy. Foreign fingers are moving before me, almost as if it’s the first time I’ve ever tried to write. Weird huh?

Whatever. I again am posting a ‘something’, a little bit to remind myself someday, where I was today. A long day at the restaurant has just ended. Finally, but without much fuss. The late crowd tonight, played nice. Chill and fun, everyone was in their little zones. I was too.

A younger couple chose good tunes in our jukebox. They weren’t the standard few. Sublime came on, and I was back in high school, and in college too. Dang I loved their music.

I got to talk and just hang out with friends, with family. Funny thing, that seems so foreign to me now too. I used to do it every single day. Now, not so often. I don’t choose to engage much, especially at the bar, while others are partying, I want no part of that.

It’s weird being sober. I don’t like it too much. Especially tonight, especially at night. The buzz would feel so good right now. I would laugh louder, I would talk more. I would make jokes and poke fun. I might actually have fun.

Who knows though, I might have more than that. I might have those things that I used to have, back in my serious partying days. I might have regrets. I might say too much. I might bring tears instead of laughter. Maybe.

I wouldn’t know then, till the morning time, how it all turned out. I might remember some of it. I might have to be told. The morning is the reason for sobriety, to me.

There is not too much I can say for the night, that makes this abstinence better than booze. Nope, at night, where I spend much of my productive time these days, the drinks seem to just want to flow.

I have to hold on though. The morning will be different. That morning and new day, comes with fresh breaths, when I awaken sober. I think back to the night before, and thank God and thank myself, for giving me one more day of resistance. That morning moment is pure sugar to the soul. I know for just a split second, that I am at inner peace with a demon I used to battle daily.

That split second doesn’t last very long. It is not sustaining through the day. I just have it for one fleeting blink of an eye. Then the chaos of normality sets in. I wade chest deep, and try to smile, but usually I am lost on my direction. Truly.

Even with God’s guiding light, I cover my eyes. I try to hide, and hold halfway onto the past, while dreading movement into my future. I wonder most days, If I have worked hard enough, and been on this drinking diet long enough, that I could be forgiven, if I want to slide back. I wonder what would really change, if I uncorked a nice red.

Only in that tiniest of an instant glint, when I wake up in the morning, do I know for sure, that I want to play sober for another day. That’s it. One microsecond. Then it’s gone.

Tonight, this is the message I wanted to tell myself. I don’t know why. I loved being at the bar, and I rarely rarely do. I almost always love our restaurant. However, living as a sober person at the bar, is hardly ever enjoyable. I smiled several times tonight. Real smiles. I wasn’t in a hurry to leave, or to call Last Call.

I need to now though. I need to send myself home. I need to find rest and look forward to tomorrows sober morning moment. I hope it comes again. I hope it keeps coming. I wouldn’t mind if it lasted longer. If it arrived and stayed awhile through my day.

I have let go of so much. I hope someday to begin to feel good about that.

My future is blindingly bright. I have the love of my life on the other side of the wall right now. She sleeps and dreams, and is a fulfillment of mine. I wonder why my inner mechanics direct my vision behind me, into the faded desaturations of dusty darkness, instead of forward, where all vibrant creative possibility lies.

My love, I am coming to you now. I want to see you in morning, first thing. When divine peace hits, I want to be with you :) I am so grateful for the gift you are to me, always :)

Sincerely,

Aaron Nichols

 

 

Mindblowing deals on Black Friday, you can’t miss!

I would have been a bawling baby watching the true story of Laura Dekker and her round-the-word solo sailing adventure, at age 14(!) if my wife wasn’t in the room with me! I  was choked up during the whole movie. What a story! This sweet and pretty teenager has a will like iron. She fought her government in order to be able to battle the sea, by herself. She had a vision and made it happen. She is the youngest person ever to circumnavigate the globe by herself. Wow.

Maidentrip is a documentary worth every second of your time to watch. I love true stories like this, I try to watch them whenever I can.

Even though I am so inspired by long distance sailors, or backcountry thru-hikers, or iceberg ice climbers, I sometimes feel convicted that my life could be so much more adventurous, but it’s not. I see other humans (like me) on the same chunk of rock in space as me (Earth), who seem to be squeezing the most out of the realm of possibility. I wonder if I am wasting my own little life, when I could be doing much much much more.

A friend of mine was visiting the amazing hand-built Bishop Castle in Colorado. He said that he was talking with the creator, Jim Bishop, who had done this entire amazing project by himself. He said that Jim told him, that we all build our own castles. Each one of us has one. We create things in our world every day. The only difference with him, is that he chose one project, just one thing, and did that nonstop for the last 40 years.

Jim Bishop is right. If any of us did just one thing for 40 years we could produce amazing visual results. People could see for miles around, the hard work the creativity and passion we each have for life. Sadly, sometimes I can get lost in the lie that my own little world is just bland and basic. I can forget the story of my own individual path and see it fade into a grey fog of normal-ness.

Yes, we did get a TV bought on a Black Friday deal. Yes, that is just as gut-wrenchingly ‘Merican, as it gets these days. I am aware that I don’t want my whole world to be about the next ‘thing’ I get to buy. It’s such a rotten pleasure. A quick flash of adrenaline when the new stuff arrives, then it sucks away our drive and any adrenaline. I sink back comfortably with pillows all around me and let life move by while watching someone else conquer the world…

Hmm…

It’s not too late. I am building a castle right now. I am circumnavigating my own globe of existence. It certainly hasn’t reached the depth and breadth of the playground I’ve been given. I hope I don’t lose that angst when I watch a 14 year old spindly girl and her Guppy sail around the world. I hope I don’t get lost in my comfortable living room for the next 40 years. I want to be Thankful, that I have some adventurous spark still left, and at least gravitate toward the creation of something amazing. Even in the smallest of ways.

Both of these stories started out so small. ‘A journey of a thousand miles, begins with a single step.’ I do intend to be taking that step. I see how possible it is. I hope I can keep remembering that… even when setting up my new high definition mindblowing timesucker… :)

Have a Great Day, A Beautiful Day, That God Has Made, For You :)

Sincerely,

Aaron Nichols