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 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.


Aaron Nichols


Washing away the river of tears, thanks for the message Dad!

The river’s been up for last week or so, that same muddy Marais that swallowed my big strong Dad. I knew that I would be writing on a somber anniversary today. Been wondering all week, what emotions would float up, 32 years, after he’d drowned.

Truthfully, it has been a jam-packed day, no alone time, or down time to ponder at all. I’ve awoke to my beautiful and pregnant bride on her first morning of summer. We talked and talked. Setting off for work, the pile of projects overflowed. Late to get back to the restaurant for a big evening rush, we served several large groups and performed well.

All day, my mind wanted to dive deep into the darknesses and be sad for myself on May 21st. It wanted to relish and lather up in the sadness of a young boy, who’d lost his Daddy… Too bad, I didn’t have time for that 🙂

Nope, I just worked along, with action following action until the day is finally ending here at 1:40 am. My fingers are finally flexing enough to click these keys…

Flashes did spark as flew through this day. I’ve thought of my sister, just 2 years old, when our Dad was taken away. I’ve thought of how differently and separately we’ve coped with our common loss. I’ve thought of my Mother, such a beautiful young woman who’s world must’ve been ripped apart today… 32 years ago. I thought of my aunts and uncles and my grandparents too. I was delighted to serve dinner to my only living grandparents this very evening. Wow, how they’ve cradled our little lives ever since I can remember…

I think of my step-dad Joe and all the troubles we’ve tangled together. I know this man is full of so much real love. Yet I also know, our combination of personalities has been toxic at times to us both. I think of my sister Amanda. She’s grew up with these two other kids, brother and sister, us the Nichols’s and her the Tucker… still we all shared all of our families together, with so many good times and some bad.

I thought of my Dad’s friends. His best friend Jim. A man I love so deeply. A man who pains as I pain too, today. I will see him this weekend. I’ve been riding his case hard lately 🙂 I’m sure my Dad would’ve been too, he may be the one providing the inspirational ideas for the constant stream of jokes lately 🙂

I think about this loss and hold the facts of it in the palm of my hand. If I squeeze it and roll it around and around. I look at it from lots of angles now, not just one or two.

I see the rippled effects of this ‘accident’ and I study it up close. I look with a magnifying lens and see thousands of chips and flaws and cracks were left in the wake. As long as I stay zoomed in tight, I can notice each hairline fracture and tiny divot left from this almost lifelong void of growing up without my Dad. That is, as long as I stay zoomed in.

If I step back, and I give myself some room, it becomes harder to remember and to catalog the thousands of tiny emotional cuts I’ve felt over these 32 years. If I step back even a little further, I can relate my own issues and life experiences to things I see so clearly with the next generation.

I love to watch my nephews play and romp. I see the vigor of youth and rambunction incarnated in them. I watch them too switch from fits of laughter to wailing tears almost instantaneously at times. I notice the truth in their cries. They sincerely are upset. They express quick angers and sad pouts. They want what they want sometimes and cry if they don’t get it. As their uncle, I understand their immediate issues, but I don’t worry they will never recover. These are small potatoes in the big big picture. They will recover and move on. They will snap back, maybe in the next minute or two even.

And yes, tonight, I saw myself through similar eyes. Maybe even the eyes of our Almighty Creator. I saw myself being upset and crying. I saw pain and tears and selfish emotional fits. I saw my own wounds being rehashed over and over, ever since that day in 1983. I wonder if God watches me cry, and that same deeper understanding that even yet, all will be okay.

I think about being a child and losing a parent, and think about the kids in Ohio. My cousin Megan left behind two beautiful little ones. Just 6 and 4 when she died. I think about how I have barely talked to them in years. I am guilt-ridden. I wonder if someone out there was like I am now, as I grew up as a child. I wonder if someone was loving and well-meaning, but just didn’t know what to do or to say. I wonder if they too lived on, and hoped the kids were doing alright. I know I hope that every day.

I figured tonight, that over this lifetime of mine, I have carried an elaborate sack of despair and hurt and anger, embroidered with emotions concerning the death of my father. To me, the sack can seem like the world itself sometimes. It is all-encompassing even, to the point where I don’t know the difference between the world of sadness of death, and the opportunity for life.

Tonight though, a tiny voice spoke again. It mentioned something to me, through the onslaught of activity while I worked at the restaurant. It served up an idea while I let the night wind down here at home… I recognize this wise whisper. I’ve heard it before.

Tonight it was friendly. Not a bubbly blabber-mouth buddy, but a smart and confidence-inspiring companion. The tone was so encouraging. It was matter-of-fact too. I wasn’t shaking a finger at me. It was helping me to recognize something. It showed me an obvious truth. It did not pass judgement, it didn’t illicit remorse in any way. This was the voice of God, but I still hardly noticed as the sentence crossed my internal radar screen…

“I think you’ve grieved enough”… it suggested…

I felt better, hearing those words in my own head. I believed them instantly. I wondered about the origins of my sadnesses and depressions over losing my Dad at a young age. I wondered about where I got the big idea that my life would be kinda ruined by this event? I could see this question curiously and lightly. Nothing could feel condemning or condescending in the flash of that almighty reassurance.

I could so quickly run through new scenarios for myself and for my outlook toward others. What if I really decided that I had grieved enough? What would that mean for me? How could I now operate and articulate and go about agitating up some ferver and vigor and excitement for life! I could have experiences, just like a ‘normal’ person! One who didn’t lose their Dad when they were 4 years old. I could do a lot of new things, if I didn’t have more grieving to accomplish from now till the end of my days!

I could maybe laugh and sing and dance and smile real real big. I could maybe walk lightly and upright in posture. I could bounce through my days, instead of dragging along heavy-footed and heavy-hearted.  Funny thing is this. I know that lots of people have told me about the live-loving attitude my Dad seemed to always carry with him. Maybe if I wasn’t so stuck in grief, I might even resemble him more and more. Maybe he sent a gift my way today with this little mental message.

I’ve written here, a simple and powerful idea. I’ve told you it’s not mine, but I did receive it. I may not be strong enough to really live into it today. I may still curl up in a ball in and cry to myself sometimes. I may still visit the cemetery and talk to the rocks instead of a real person. I may never really fix myself up, all the way, and be that spark of life, like my Dad was…

But, I can move forward. I can live today. I can take this tiny little message and curiously discover what happens when I attempt to believe it. Maybe I have grieved enough. I’ve lost more that just my Dad. I have plenty of people to keep on grievin’ on, if I wish. I wonder though, if those same people are on the other side, wishing I would enjoy my today’s and the good memories of them together. Maybe they want to show me how too, I will take that help 🙂

I will take this little tiny seed of an idea and plant it. I can water it and watch to see how it grows. I wonder what wild bushy tree of life can sprout from it 🙂

I will leave you all tonight with this. If I have been grieving, then maybe I have grieved enough. Maybe I can move forward in love. I can remember in love. I can laugh again without guilt that I shouldn’t do so, because of the all the sadness that I ‘should’ carry around…

Thanks Dad. I Love You. I Do Miss You. I think I may be ready to laugh again and introduce your new grandbaby to fun and happy new world. I want to do that for You, and for the Little One, but especially for Me 🙂 It’s time to be okay again 🙂


Aaron Nichols


Hunks of Metal in my Brain

Took some extra keys off my key ring today… Actually, ‘extra’ couldn’t be accurate because I had obviously not carried multiple matching keys at any time I can remember. So if they aren’t extra, I could at least say they are unused keys. These little metal shapes had served a purpose at one time, but now I can’t seem to recall for what?

Now only three keys remain on a ring that carry every day. I have my house key, my garage key and a key to the restaurant. That’s it. I do have a car key also, but it has it’s own ring, with an electronic-door-unlocker-doohickey on it. So in total, I have 4 keys with me at all times…

Real freakin’ interesting, right?

Nope, not really. I am intrigued however at those ‘unused’ keys. I don’t remember when I officially stopped needing them for my normal activities. I look at them and beg my brain to recall something useful they could do for me now. I then pop open a junk drawer in the kitchen and find another older set of unused keys that I had saved years ago. I guess the ‘new’ unused keys can now live with the ‘old’ unused keys.

It does amaze me that this day in age, with all the technology that we possess in our portable super-computer communication devices, that these hunks of bumpy metal are so integral to our standard living operations.

To have the right key is a wonderful thing. To not have the right key, can mess up almost any plans. These objects hold great power, and yet they are dead simple, rudimentary devices. A key is just Data, and it is almost useless without the Information to operate it.

At one time I worked for a college professor. He shared some of his teachings with me almost every time we talked together. He showed me some differences between Data and Information. I thought about that today, when I dropped the extra pieces of metallic data off my key ring, since now the information about them is gone.

He explained that Data was like a compilation of numbers and letters. Tons of them maybe, all held together. This list could possibly be accessed and utilized, but not completely on it’s own. Their grouping of black and white shapes on paper, or zeros and ones in a binary format, couldn’t exactly accomplish anything just by existing.

Like a drawer full of keys, the raw Data, is almost completely useless without the ‘information’ that matches certain keys to certain locks. See the information is the thing that recognizes context. Information can make connections. Information is able to make a big wad of letters and numbers into an old-school phonebook. Information is the way in which we process the data of the phonebook, we read the letters in order, we understand language, we translate the numbers to another device and make a call to someone we love. That’s not just data, it takes the information to partner with it, to be useful at all.

My teacher explained that he wanted to use his brain for informational purposes. He wanted it to help him to understand context, see options, weigh out decisions and connect with people. He did NOT want to use his brain to store and retrieve Data. The data could be held elsewhere. A piece of paper can hold data, or a computer or a cell phone or a bar napkin. Technology is wonderful for storing data, waay better than our brains are.

Technology however, cannot to our informational processing like we can. I wouldn’t trust a computer to auto fill our restaurant schedule. It may try to anticipate a pattern of spreadsheet entries, but it takes my own noggin to process the multitude of factors that go into this important and delicate restaurant managing task.

The keys I pulled off my key ring today, have fallen outside of my information processing abilities. I don’t know what they are for. I don’t use them anymore at all. I may someday want to open the lock they match up with, but at this point, I don’t know what lock that would be. So there. They are rubbish.

A piece of data is trash, without the information that connects it to usefullness.

I wonder what else in my life, I carry around with me, that has lost all connection with usefullness? I probably have loads of facts and memories and impressions of experiences that I carry, for no good reason. I am past the point of remembering how they are serving me. I am talking about negative memories, self defeating re-run mental records and the like. I hope you don’t have heavy jangling janitor-sized keyring of this kind of metal crap swinging and banging around off your hip everyday. I’m sure I pick that heavy thing up and haul it around often.

Today though, in my real life, I cut it down to four total keys. That’s all I needed today. Probably all I will need for awhile.

I wonder how I could pare down my mental keyring the same way. I wonder about the professor’s advice to leave the data storing jobs to something besides my own brain. I think he was saying to have a place for the data, but don’t carry it everywhere. Use the mind to navigate and operate and decide and to powerfully move forward. Instead of mulling through files full of junk.

Good advice that I will remember for awhile, as I notice my keyring with it’s few useful keys, and nothing more… Except a flashlight, and a dogtag with my name and phone number… 🙂 Ha! Yes, other stuff that I have almost never used!


Aaron Nichols

Easy to sleep with…

I’ve been training my brain lately. I’ve been training it to let me sleep. Someone mentioned to me, that I might want to get some sleep now, in the months before our bundle of joy arrives 🙂

No matter how late I get to bed, no matter how tired or exhausted I might be, I read. Well first I start by strapping on my camper’s headlamp, and killing all the other lights. I grab my book and get comfy. Sometimes it takes a couple pages, sometimes only a paragraph or two. I find that I have been crashing directly into a very deep sleep when I do this little routine. Another interesting thing, is that I do not wake up during the night at all.

On just a couple occasions in the last month, I figured I was too tired to need to do my reading, and I tried to skip it. Basically, I toss and turn, and become restless. For some reason I now am only able to achieve a nourishing restful sleep, after reading. I do enjoy the knowing that I have a method to employ, to help me with this important human activity.

Speaking of which…

If “I” can stumble upon this trick that elicits a specific response and desired outcome, then I have proved to myself that I am not a mere slave to my own brain.

See my mind/brain/noggin’ wants to continue the spin cycle as soon as the room goes dark and it has nothing to do but to think… So I simultaneously possess thoughts that I want to get real sleep, and thoughts of the kaleidescope of the craziness of the day. I experience the peculiar separation of two opposite concepts living side by side. I find it a little worrisome that in this particular instance I have found a solution by which the greater good is serviced by tricking myself into deep slumber.

There are other human experiences that I most certainly wish I could trick myself into. Even though the value of good sleep ranks high on anyone’s list, there are things I need even more.

I would like to have a method to trick myself into almost instantaneous cheerfulness. Self-motivation and maybe no-calorie intake hunger satisfaction would be cool. I would like to trick my brain into wanting to exercise or to wake up ready to tackle the day instead of dreading it. There are lots of things that ‘I’ wish, I could hogtie my mind into creating for itself, instead of the bad habits it currently seems to want to hold onto.

What a strange thing. I see the clear separation between me, myself and I. I rely upon the grey matter inside my egg-shaped skull, but it is yet my enemy at the same time. Straddling and struggling between the loosely leashed angry wild bobcat, and my spiritual soul that yearns for peaceful purposeful progress, I know which one wins more of my mental battles. I have the scars to prove it.

Anyways… there are lots of people who can give advice on this topic. Plenty of books are already written. I can probably sign up for a weekend intensive seminar series right now, that will ‘fix’ all these issues and more. Except, that I have already done tons of that stuff, and yes I still fight it, day-in and day-out.

The book trick is working for sleeping better. I wonder if the Good Lord will show me some more ways to train this feisty fleshy-ness that He sewed me up into, when he stitched my life together at that most fundamentally finite of moments.

Simple, predictable and true happiness is all everybody wants, right? It’s not too much to ask for? Is it? Maybe I should just appreciate the good sleep right now, and the other things will take care of themselves in due time 🙂

I’ll send out prayers for God’s will to be done, and not mine. For you, for me, Amen.


Until next week, take care.

With Love,


Aaron Nichols

You say tow may tow, I say I’m scared

Better can hurt sometimes. My little tomato buddies told me that this week. I’d been tending to them for about a month. I had been watering them regularly. I would bring them from inside the house on a cool night, to outside during a sunny day. I moved them around in their crinkle-sounding plastic 4-packs. I’d been ‘hardening’ them off, but it turns out, they may not have become ‘hard’ enough, for the transplantation moment…

I had decided to plant my tomatoes this week. Yes it is early, I know… But I felt like I wanted to try to get them in. I am on my second year of the heavy-mulch style garden bed, and the potatoes, peas, onions and garlic are growing along nicely.

The method I used to plant, I learned from a neighbor, who used to come over and help. She showed me how to put my trigger nozzle on the end of the hose, and shoot a stream of water directly into the soil. The water pressure ‘digs’  a perfect little cylindrical scoop into the soft ground. I then took my granular fertilizer and dropped it in. I even added the epsom salt this year, that I bought last year and forgot to use.

The new little home for each of my 20 tomato plants was a dandy spot. Water, food, a thick mulch to lock in the moisture and protect the base in a breeze. I was sure it would serve them well. Or so I thought…

One morning this week I spent a couple hours settling my peppers and tomatoes into the dirt. I mounded hills for squash and zucchini too. The cucumber seeds went in, and some green and yellow beans found spots. By the time I was done, I noticed that my vibrant tomato teenagers had already fallen limp onto the hay…


Shock set in quick with them this year. They didn’t take the transition too well. I was hopeful they would spring back quick, but honestly, only a few are looking real good even three days later. The rest of them? I don’t know. Maybe they aren’t strong enough. Maybe they will lay limp until they dry up and die.

One thing about my thick hay mulch garden is that the soil underneath it, is in amazing condition. It is wet and crumbly, full of worms and rotting compost. But, since the sun cannot sit down on the ground, it is quite cold as of yet. I wonder if the temperature has caused the embarrassing shrinkage and shock, in my formerly happy little plants?

As I saw them in their sad condition, I was disturbed of course. I had spent time and energy and fixed up their spots with all the nutritious goodness I thought they needed. I gave them new homes to sprawl out in. A place to really grow and develop. I freed them from their little plastic prison cells. They have quite a sturdy trellis that they will get to climb… if they can recover from the shock of the transplant, that is.

I know the feeling that these little seedlings are suffering through. I think the lesson sent to me that day is from God. I think that our Almighty Creator sometimes replants us. I think we can be dropped into a new location, a new paradigm, and we can be shocked by it. I think sometimes, this upgrade actually feels like torture at first.

My little plants were happy and lively and standing tall, in their baby plastic ice cube trays. They could never really develop into their full potential living in that one little cup of dirt. They could not grow thick trunk-like stems and produce succulent red fruit without being planted for real. Maybe I planted them early. I did it when I could though. I did it when I thought it was best to do it. Some of them are standing tall again. Even though I buried them up to their necks. 🙂

God does this to us lucky kids. I think our spiritual journey mimics this tomato-moment exactly. When we step out in faith and ask Jesus Christ to come into our hearts, we get uprooted out of our little, old, plastic lives. We get planted into the deeeeeeper soil. We are nourished with a new, living water, that quenches in amazing new ways… We are given the opportunity and privilege to grow waaay beyond the scope that our old little container-life could have allowed.

You should have seen all the white wiggling stringy roots fighting for space in their bundled bases. I know that those same roots will now be able to extend and reach and dig deep into the real earth, instead of just the two inch cube of potting moss. The old life of these plants probably would have seemed better to them, after I had stuck them into the cool wet soil and shrank back in a survival reflex motion.

Just like Jesus getting ahold of my life, I want to shrink back. I want the old ways again, please, oh please! I want to reverse the action and climb back into my little protected plastic shell…

I know that the sun is coming. I know that the plants will thrive. I know that I have given them all the opportunity now, to produce wonderful fruit. I will continue to nurture them too. All through their lives. I will take care of them at the end too. I hope that they will be strong through these tough initial days.

God wants me to be strong too. The gift of a new shot at everlasting life is worth the struggle. I can’t imagine the possibility of the new garden I’ve been given to live in. I mainly just want to curl up and shut my eyes and pray for the olden days.

I am sad, that my little plants are taking the transition so hard. I bet God is sad for me too sometimes. Not sad that the effort and gifts and blessings are wasted on me, but that I have failed to breathe deep and relax and enjoy the comforts of my new home enough.

I am missing out on my own new life with God’s abundant love and mercy and grace, because I want to, and that is all. I hope I am one of the few, who are still hanging on, when the sun really starts to shine on me. I hope I haven’t begun the irreversible giving up process when that moment arrives.

God has faith in his plan for me. His designs are flawless, only always. My own fear constrains and pains me. I struggle against myself, usually almost always too. Thanks be to God, for the lessons provided me. I hope I will decide that I am okay enough to survive till spring and summer. And with prayers of expectation for His gentle guidance, I will.

Thanks be to God.


Aaron Nichols 🙂