Before I move on to more serious matters, let me just say that I took THREE dumps today in a matter of two hours. Apparently, my stomach did not agree with the spicy fish ball curry and flaming hot ox tail soup and what other delectables I had at a hole-in-the-wall Thai restaurant last night in LA. This is the first time that I actually got onto the freeway and turned back home just to take a dump because I knew I wouldn’t make it to work without crapping my pants. Whew! Close call. And now…
Perhaps some of you might be wondering where I left for those six weeks or so when I haven’t been blogging. Or perhaps you haven’t because, quite frankly, neither I nor my blog–and I say this with a non-false-modesty–is that important. Whatever the case, I know it’s been a good break for me personally, to reflect on recent developments in my life. I know I am not the same Martin who ended 2008 as I am in this moment (I’ll talk more about that in my other blog). Hopefully, I can come to you, whether in person or through this cyber-developed intimacy, with a fresher, humbler and more honest perspective than I’ve ever had.
But this entry will be straight to the point. What I want to say is this: live your life. No, I mean it. Live your life. Not the life you think you should have because you see someone else who has it, or the life that has you escaping in some illusion (or delusion) of comfort through TV or magazines or fantasy worlds. Embrace your life. Embrace yourself. For who you are, with all your blemishes, faults and insecurities, as well as your talents, personality and hobbies. Live. Don’t give up on your ambitions. And don’t take the crud that people throw at you out of discouragement or fear.
None of that is groundbreaking; in fact, some of it might be cliche. But it is certainly easy to forget. I know it is for me. Society and the world is all about numbers and labels. It tries to put you in different compartments and boxes: pretty or ugly, smart or stupid, rich or poor, tall or short, married or single, White or other, and a thousand other labels. And their love towards you and me is dependent on whether or not we (as we cross our fingers) have fallen into the ones that are desired most.
Most of my struggles come from the fact that I try to be someone I am not. I try to be the next MJ on the basketball court, or the next Martin Luther when I teach Sunday school, or the next Robert Frost whenever I write. I do this, whether I know it or not, because I am not in love with who I am. My subconscious thinks, “If only I become like _____, I will be more loved.” Implicit in this thinking is the (faulty) principle of love exchange, and the basic principle not too unlike that of prostitution: I will whore my services (my good traits) in exchange for your money (conditional love). But the more I play the harlot, the less satisfied and loved I actually feel.
I try so hard to play the roles that people want me to play. To write my life out neatly, to make all the jumbled pieces fit into what I believed to be my life, when it was really the unique and sole life of my mentor’s or my co-worker’s or my idol’s–anybody’s but mine. But that’s not life. And I certainly cannot control what things will come my way. After all, how often do our plans work out exactly the way we wanted them to?
Can I be real for a moment? I don’t know about you, but I am vulnerable and insecure. Can I honestly say that I have no idea, no clue as to where my life is headed and what roads I am to take? Can I say that I’m scared to the bone of all the decisions and paths and things in between that I have to make as a responsible, fully matured adult? That I struggle with what it really means to be a man, not as society or the world defines it, but in the truest sense that God would define?
But, at last, it has come to this. And ironically enough, it is in my moment of weakness that I have discovered my true source of strength. God has spoken. “Martin, don’t try so hard to measure out your life. You always have, ever since you were young. But you don’t know if your job will be gone tomorrow or whether your savings will be depleted or health fail or friends leave you or how much longer you have here on earth. It’s time to let go. Now is the time to start living your todays and not your tomorrows.”
So I’ve stopped (or at least, I’m trying). I realized that I’m not my Pastor. I’m not my best friend. Or my mentor or my parents or my role models. What am I? I’m me. I’m 24. I’m single. And I have debt. Some, but not a lot. My conclusion? It’s time for me to stop living as though I have a wife and kids to support, a retirement to look forward to, and a future that might never come. What’s the point of working to save for this tomorrow that might never come? For a family I have not yet attained? For a house I might never own because of the ever-fluctuating economic market? It is time I start living like a 24 year old single man. And it is time I start being me.
So I’m here to tell you that I’m pulling out. I’m pulling up the anchor I once let down on fear. I’ve stopped sailing towards the little serene isle in hopes that I might discover some real land. I’ve decided, once and for all, to follow the North Star and let my journey, though certain to be rift with struggle, pain and doubtful times, write my life. After all, to live recklessly is foolish, but a life lived without risk and faith is a life not lived at all.
I don’t know where this ship is going and I don’t know what I’ll find. But I trust my Navigator. And perhaps, if you dare to join me, we’ll see what interesting tales we’ll have come to discover.
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Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We only have today. Let us begin. – Mother Teresa
“But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain.” – St. Paul, 1 Cor. 15:10
“He said, ‘Come.’ So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus.” – Matthew 14:29