“I’ll never fence you in, baby,” I said, in front of a bunch of people, as I found out that my wife was leaving to attend a school, and I would have to move with her, hundreds of miles away. I was surprised by this realization in the moment. Thinking quickly though, I knew instinctively, that I couldn’t say no, and that I wanted to support her in this endeavor.
Sure, it was a super-vivid dream, that I woke up with this morning. Another crazy one. Lindsay and I were with some other of her family, in a room full of community people, talking about the benefits of riding bicycles. All kinds of bicycles. Road bikes, beach cruisers, mountain bikes and kids bikes. What did all that mean? I have no idea!
Anyway, someone in the crowd, asked if she was excited, that she was accepted to something called Rockthurst, and I was caught really off-guard. I was red-faced and embarrased, that my wife had something in the works, that I didn’t know about. Lots of emotions were flooding my mind. Since there was an audience, I went with “I’ll never fence you in, baby!”. And then everyone clapped in approval. I said we will figure it out, and make the most of this move.
Yes, this was all a dream. I experience lifetimes of them every night, and I remember a lot of them, as I wake up. This one is interesting in it’s parallel to the waking world. There have been several key moments in my life, in which, I am presented with a fork in the road like this. As in the dream, usually I have responded in much the same way. I will enthusiastically, endorse the open possibility ahead. I will say that I am excited about the future for everyone involved. I will speak something grandiose about the greatness ahead.
One of the most recent real-life versions of this dream, would be, when Lindsay was hired as a teacher at Central Heights School, and I accepted her role at the Restaurant. Caught up in the moment, it was all excitements and wonder, and new possibility ahead. It solved a few real problems for us. It fulfilled a lifelong dream for her, and probably for me too. Win-Win-Win! Yay!
Except, that my bark is bigger than my bite. Except, that I begin with rushes of energy and sparkle, that are unsustainable. Except, that once again, I find out that, I can’t truly live up, to the expectations that I set for myself…
I could type out, that ‘real life sets in’.
My beginning vigor begins to fade. My excitement and wonder at the newness of it all, slowly converts. I then see the flaws, I see the problems, I wonder now, if I can live up to, what I said I would do in the beginning. As I understand that it ain’t going to happen in some perfect, dream-like scenario, I lose my poise. The honeymoon ends. The dreamer wakes up, and looks around, there is no clapping of approval from the crowd.
Yeah, there are many of these moments that I can recall. I set a bar for myself and truly for others, that can’t be reached. I resent our failures to do so. My ugly side shows up.
The other day, it occurred to me, that it sometimes is a good thing, that I see problems everywhere. I can spot issues and see ahead to upcoming complications. I see them at home, but especially at work. I scan the room, and pick apart all the things that need worked on, or improved. I have done lots of that, at the Brand’N Iron. I am troubled by inefficiency, or wasted spaces. When we are out of a natural flow, and stepping all over each other, I cringe, knowing we are wasting our energy.
So it is a good thing, that I see problems. I am good at solving them. I can get creative, grab a tape measure, and move things around. I buy new equipment, if that will help us. I type out checklists, make signs, trying to smooth the wrinkles and create a more seamless workflow, for us, and for the benefit of our customers.
So there, I see problems. I have lots to see. There is a buffet of them, everywhere I look. Ironically, as much as I love solving problems, I am frustrated and depressed at the sheer volume and scale of the issues I recognize. I am too good at picking them out. It is counter-productive to hold myself accountable to straighten them all out. I feel lost, hopeless, and yes, angry, at what I have gotten myself into.
It is a good thing, and a bad thing to see problems. It is a good thing, and a bad thing, to jump into new adventures with this unsustainable dream-like almost reckless abandon. I get myself into things that I am not equipped to handle. Re-tooling myself, building the skills on-the-job, and having truly high expectations for myself, chews me up, and I want to be spit out, sometimes.
So far, just like you, we have survived everything that we’ve been put through. So far, we haven’t been beaten, truly beaten, by any of the problems of our lives. If you are here, reading these words today, you have not failed. Maybe you are like me, and get overwhelmed with problems, I hope not, if so, I understand. We get, that this universe is a place of unlimited possibility. We get that it may take hard work, but that improvement is always at hand. We have unimaginable resource, forgiveness and sustainability in the God who loves us. We just want to feel that fuzzy huggy love all the time.
I wonder if the message today, could be that God’s gift to us is that the structure of our existence has a built in dynamic. “I’ll never fence you in, baby.” Maybe that is what our creator says to us, as well. We won’t be fenced in, and blocked off from world around us. We won’t be contained and captured in a small little pen. We have the expanse of the world to explore. We have all the freedoms we want.
Yet, we are not protected from it all either. We do not have a barricade, that turns away all problems, all the elements, all the beasts, that could harm us. We aren’t pets, there are no sugar cubes and brush-downs and lazy strolls on the summer afternoon. We are given none of that pampering by our creator. We are equipped however to deal with the environment. We have been blessed, with the ability and agility to explore. We’ve been given each other. We have been given The Word.
No, we haven’t been fenced in. Yes, I want to be out on the open range, I want this exact life that I have right this very moment. I want it exactly, as it is. I am grateful for it all. I want to remember that a little more often. I want to still see the problems. Nobody is better at causing change, and mentally chewing on solutions, until something shows up, than me.
I want to be here now, not in some dream. I want the honeymoon to be over, so that the real work, the true character building can begin. The fluff and excitement of the new, is short-lived for us all. Hard work is hard, but worth it.
Thanks be to God. Thanks for not fencing us in!