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.


Aaron Nichols


‘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…


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,


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 🙂


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 🙂


Aaron Nichols