Tag Archive for: adventure

All Eyes On Me

Sometimes, I think about Jameer Nelson.

It’s okay if you don’t know who he is. He had a better than average career in the NBA that fizzled out slowly over time.

If my memory serves me right, he made the NBA Finals only once in his career. Actually, I know exactly when; it was 2009, I remember because he lost to Kobe Bryant and my favorite team. 🙂 Nevertheless, I remember that particular championship series for more than just my team winning.

What is etched in my memory about him is his famous tattoo. One of the most memorable tattoos in the NBA. On his back, from shoulder to shoulder are the words ”All eyes on me.”

A big tattoo with bold words.

The tattoo is a tribute to 2Pac and also Nelson’s belief in himself. Nelson was never a great player per se. He was never even the best player on any team. Yet still, he believed that all eyes were on him.

. . . . . . .

Not too long ago as I was preparing for my road trip, my friend Emily told me in a serious tone, I need to be very careful calling myself a Christian. She informed me that many people don’t like Christians.

“It’s not your fault, you’re fine.” Emily said to me, “But Christians don’t really make a good name for themselves. And you are associating yourself with them. People are going to watch you closer because of that title.”

It reminds me of another friend, Sarah. Sarah’s great, but she hates chiropractors. She hates chiropractors like a city person hates the country life. She’s never experienced it first hand, she won’t listen to why someone loves living in the countryside, and she’ll never get close enough to learn more about it. She says she’ll never go to a chiropractor because “chiropractors believe in weird things that aren’t right!”

They believe in weird things?

Apparently, she was talking about the chiropractors who believe they can help fight the flu, sinus issues, and other various ailments of the body by adjusting the spine.

Is that weird? We live in an era where we can stand in front of a mysterious box that shoots invisible waves into the body and kills tumors inside. I’m just going to say we’ve come far in medicine, I’m not sure if there are weird ideas that can’t find their way to existence.
I digress.

I’ve gone to chiropractors all my life in different states and countries, yet I have never heard a single chiropractor say that to me. I don’t know if it’s true, but to be honest, I would be inclined to believe it! Every time I get a cold, there is one spot in my spine that starts to hurt just a bit. Each time I feel that pain, I know I need to start drinking more water and take some vitamin C because a cold is coming.

Despite never hearing from the horses’ mouths about these chiropractic wonders, there are apparently a few out there who have said it enough times to negatively affect people. People who’ve never directly heard them say it or experienced it for themselves no longer want to seek chiropractic care of any kind.

I’m no chiropractor, but it seems like there are a few ruining it for the rest of them.

. . . . . . .

I’m going to bring up a former coworker and continue with the long way ‘round to my point.

This coworker learned that I was a Christian and assumed a lot about me. He was probably, one of the most closed-minded persons I’ve ever met. He had this idea that all Christians were the same, had a cookie-cutter upbringing, and believed the exact same things across the world.

Despite me being the Christian, he knew more hymns than I do. He would sing them regularly to mock my faith.

Despite me being the Christian, he was well versed in church history and would demand I apologize to him directly for things like the Crusades, Christian slave owners, and Christian white supremacists.

Despite me being the Christian, he was the one who believed in numerology and had fears of numbers like “666” and was surprised whenever I was chill about the numbers popping up.

Funny how that happened.

. . . . . . .

Listen, I get it. I really do. Christians haven’t been the best people in the world throughout history. Heck, Christians haven’t even the best people during my lifetime. There’s a reason why Gandhi said, “I like your Christ, but your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” Ouch, tell me how you really feel.

Then again, Gandhi wasn’t perfect either. There are plenty of stories about his troubled life. Other religions, nations, scientists, literally any group of people with any time of history weren’t perfect.

Apparently, chiropractors aren’t perfect either.

I believe in the work that chiropractors do. I’ve been going all my life. I’ve been to enough chiropractors around the world to know they aren’t all good at their job. Yet, I still go to them for help because I know I need it.

Unfortunately, instead of letting the individual practitioners each show their knowledge, skills, and helpfulness, people from the general public refuse to go to them. They rather stay away because they heard once, from a friend of a friend, that one of them, somewhere, believed they can help people even more through a different method.

Curse them for trying to be more helpful in a new way, right?

Chiropractors are stuck in a predicament. What should a regular chiropractor who is helping people do?

Should they stop helping people with their spine adjustments?

Should they stop calling themselves a chiropractor in hope that people will see they are not like the others?

. . . . . .

I’ll be honest, I tried that last method for a while.

I was tired of all of it.

Tired of the Christians who protest funerals of fallen soldiers.
Tired of the Christians who believe every Republican candidate is the new Lord and Savior ready to redeem them.
Tired of the Christians who said, “I’m not religious, I’m spiritual.” (I’m not even sure what that means!)

So I stopped calling myself a Christian.

I felt trendy and edgy. I was the “Christian who wasn’t a Christian.” I was going to change the perspective of Christians by no longer being called one. Let them fix their own problems, then maybe I’ll be called that name again.

I can’t remember how long I did this. It was long enough to realize, the problem at the end of my trend wasn’t the name. It was me. No matter what I called myself, I was still making decisions that made other Christians and non-Chrisitan question my belief.

Hundreds of years ago, there was a belief in the Christian faith that you had to look perfect in order to bring yourself to God. Priests and pastors alike who dress in the finest of clothing to ensure they were representing God well enough.

That line of thought led masses of people to believe they need to “clean themselves up” before coming to God. That God wouldn’t want someone like them because they were too dirty, too messy, too unlike what they were seeing from the Church.

Thankfully, some churches have matured since then. If God wanted someone perfect to represent him, he wouldn’t choose me. He wouldn’t choose any human. We’re imperfect.

And that’s kind of the point.

Why did God have three murders write the majority of the Bible?
Why did God have a prostitute listed as one of the greatest persons of faith?
Why did God allow two men who constantly squabbled with each other to be his famous disciples?

Because those are the people he chose. Murderers, prostitutes, testosterone filled man-children, those are the people He wants. Those are the people Jesus hung out with when he was on Earth.

Those people are God’s kind of people

God is trying to say, “Hey, I’ll take them, I’ll take you, I’ll take anybody. Literally, anybody.” That’s the point.

. . . . . .

I appreciate Emily trying to protect me from people who don’t want to associate with Christians. Just like chiropractors, I’m not going to change everything I say I am just because a few of them are messing it up for the rest of us.

If people should want to focus on me because I’m a man of faith let them.

Let them see me struggle and fail, time and time again.
Let them see me get back up after each failure.
Let them see me try, and try again, despite my consistent flaws and poor habits.

Let them place their eyes on me and watch my life.
Let them see how I live, how imperfect I am.
Let them understand that God will take anybody.

Even me.
Even them.

Choose Your Own Adventure!

I was chatting with a friend about my road trip. A couple months driving across New Zealand is kind of all I’m talking about lately. It’s going well! I’m stopping and staying wherever. I’ve been fortunate to do some of it alone, other parts with friends, and other portions with strangers.

Back to my friend. They asked me “Isn’t that scary? All that you’re doing. I don’t think I could do it”

I responded with, “My first time around, it totally was.”

Years ago, I went on a month long road trip around the USA. I briefly mentioned it recent a conversational vlog talking about road trips with Robb G. At the time, I was pretty nervous about it. In fact, I was very nervous about it.

The purpose of the trip was to watch one of my great friends get hitched. It was super important to me to be there, but it as on the other side of the country from where I lived. I did more planning for this trip than I have on any trip before or since.

Though I crossed my T’s and dotted my I’s, I was having trouble committing to the actual trip.

About this time, I was in the “pre-relationship” phase with a girl. I confided in her and confessed my apprehension about the trip. Of course, I made it as light hearted as possible, exaggerating the countless potential downfalls awaiting me at every turn.

Comedy is my coping mechanism.

One of the things I was most nervous about was a particular 11 day stretch. Over the course of those 11 days, I would not see a single person I previously met in my life.

That scared me.

For the most part, you see people you know every day. Friends you hang with, the local market folks who recognize you, or your neighbors. Oh yeah, family too! Going a single day without seeing a single person you know is rather difficult when you think about it.

This isn’t just an extrovert/introvert thing. I’m a social introvert, I prefer the company of a few close friends and regular solitude to recharge. However, 11 days where I would not see a single person I know was unprecedented.

A long period without a community is like a bit purgatory to me.

That was a few years ago, and in my opinion, not even close to the grandest trip that I’ve done. Yet when it comes to trips, I’ve never been more nervous than that one. I think it’s specifically because of those 11 days.

Nevertheless, I still did the trip! I mustered the strength and courage necessary to jump into my red MINI Cooper and drive more than 2,000 miles around the US.

Choosing that adventure, wasn’t easy. In fact, I probably made it harder than it needed to be on myself. I slept in hospital parking lots, truck stops, and camping in different locations throughout the country. I could have stayed in airbnb’s, hostels, or hotels, but I didn’t. I chose a different type of adventure.

Despite my travels and tales, I have trouble believing I’m adventurous.

The aforementioned girl and I dated for some time. Eventually, we ended. I didn’t have the same thirst for adventure as she, which she felt was enough to walk away.

Maybe this is why I don’t believe it when people describe me as adventurous.
Maybe I’ve been choosing adventure to prove to her, and my subconscious self, I am an adventure worth having.
To be real honest, maybe I’m just scared and traveling is my way of constantly running away. Could adventuring  be another word for hiding? A topic for another post.

I don’t hold it against the girl for ending it back then. I’ve definitely had my share of relationships that lacked the adventure I wanted. In those relationships, I felt bored.

Whenever I feel bored, I think of one of my college buddies who always told me, “Only boring people get bored.”

In this “boring” relationship, I remember sitting down with her by my side, her parents sitting on the adjacent couch, and together we watched the Laker game.

If anyone knows me, they know that I love playing and watching sports. The Lakers are one of my favorite teams! I have many great memories embedded in my mind because of them.

Despite doing something I regularly enjoy, I felt bored. I looked around, saw her parents, and used the moment as a forecast for my future with her. I said quietly to myself, “If I stay with this person, this will be my life. I’ll work a 9-5 and come home to a wife who does the same. We’ll talk about our days as we prep a meal. Then she’ll fall asleep next to me as I cheer for my favorite sports teams.”

This seems boring.

That younger version of myself didn’t understand how to choose adventure. Years later, I realized how wrong I was. It definitely took time to see it, but only boring people get bored.

My learning process started with making fun of my best friend Cameron for never leaving a one mile radius of his house. He met a lovely woman and married her right out of college. Together, they chose to start an adventure that’s led them to today where they have three little ladies, two dogs, and a plethora of fish in a tank.

Every day Cameron chooses adventure. He chooses to father his children, to teach the dogs how to sit, and to clean the fish tank.
His life is such an adventure!

My other bestie, Stefan, studied with me at Azusa Pacific. He worked harder than anyone else I knew in school. He lives in Colorado Springs, the town where he grew up. A place where he can drive around and say “I went to this place as a kid.” Despite this city being one where many young people leave for the more popular Denver just an hour’s drive north, he chooses the adventure of staying.

Today, he works hard, as does his wife, to provide and raise a child.
An owner of a house, a married man, with a beautiful baby, Stefan lives a life of adventure.

Somedays, I have to remind myself, I am an adventurous person. (to be honest, I have to remind myself of a variety of things like I am a good photographer, I am a good comedian, I am a good cook.) I just choose adventure that differs from many people’s definition of adventure.

Adventure is where you stretch yourself beyond which you thought was capable.
Adventure is choosing to do the hard thing; the thing that you’re afraid to do, the thing those around you aren’t doing.
Adventure is in the every day.

I’ve learned any person can be adventurous in any stage of their life. Adventure isn’t just climbing a mountain. It isn’t just hiking the Machu Pichu trail with gusto! There is adventure in moving to a new country for some and for others adventure is staying in the same town your were raised.

Choose your own adventure.