Influence

There is a place for every Man. For every Woman and every child. A place where fears do not follow. A place where dreams become a reality. This place is found. It cannot be made. It cannot be purchased. This place is home. And to everyone, it is available.

 Anonymous

In this day and age, there seems to be a lack of confidence in who man is. I look around and see violence, loneliness and a general indiscretion towards one another. After talking with an old friend the other day, we agreed in the overwhelming sense of entitlement in man. I asked a 5-year old in modern day America why they wouldn’t share their toy with me and I got this in return – “Because it’s mine”. Well alright then. That’s fine and well to have ownership of something. It brings out a healthy dose of pride and accomplishment (or gratitude if it was given to you). But when you take what your have before you and burry it deep in the secure vaults of ownership – possession becomes a dangerous thing.

I bring up the 5-year old situation not to poke at children. How can you get deeply upset at a child? They are a breathing representation of what they see, hear and admire. Oh, and fear makes it’s way as an influencer at some point. But if a growing number of children in our generation fail to grasp core social, moral and physical principles, imagine a world where adults act the same way. Because if no one stands in the gap, I bet that’s the direction the world would take.

When I was a child, I was a sponge to everything around me. Love, anger, dispute, conflict, affection, joy, fear and the list goes on. Nothing has changed really as I approach my mid twenties, except for the fact that I have more choice as to what I want to influence me. Introspective me would say I have a lot of fear and anxiety. Hopeful me would say I’m trying to be a more optimistic and confident person. And the conflict of self carries on as it has since childhood. But at least I get to choose where I buy my coffee each morning.

I mentioned fear and anxiety. Anyone who knows me, who really knows me, will not be surprised to read that being an anxious person has been the haunting of me for a good part of my adult life (granted I’m only 23). However, I know this one thing: the fear that results in my anxious reaction of things (decisions, indecisions and the overall situation of LIFE) will not be a power over me for long. How do I know this? 2 things: 1 is spiritual and the other is experiential. I believe in a power greater than mine – a man named Jesus, his Father and a Ghost named Holy. I also remember a time of life where fear was just a cliff-note in the story of my life. This is the hopeful portion of the dual dichotomy mentioned in the previous paragraph.

There comes a point in every man and  woman’s life where a choice must be made. For some, choice (or the freedom of choice) is a terrifying thing. The fear of letting others, or most likely yourself, down can be an inescapable presence that leads a person to avoid the freedom of choice altogether. We also call this “being indecisive”. That’s a nice way of putting it. This “choice” I am referring to is the collective of decisions one makes (or does not make) resulting in the person you are to be. I remember in grade school, I was so afraid of giving the wrong answer or falling short before others. Because when I did, I felt bad and ashamed almost immediately. “Little me” obviously took that as positive reinforcement NOT to mess up again. But revisiting that process of thought – I kind of wish I would’ve been okay with the failure. There seems to be freedom in that. When looking at it that way, it puts less pressure on making the “right” or “wrong” choice, and rather grants freedom to make the choice you want or need.

That may sound worldly or so generation Y, but what if the choices you made really were reflections of deeper, more influential things. As mentioned before, children reflect what they see, hear, admire or fear. So, if you ask yourself what are the top 5 influential sources in your life – would those influencers line up with what you do or do not choose to do on a daily basis? I would bet yes.

Let’s take the theory of influence and choice mentioned above and use me as an example. Honest me would say the top 5 influential sources in my life today are:

  1. Social Media
  2. Peers
  3. Past Experience
  4. The Bible
  5. Work

I tried to order them by what I currently think have the most influential power. As you can see, it’s a fairly good lineup. Between you and me – I’m not too happy about this list. Honestly, I’m kind of shocked as to how quick it took me to fill 5 blank spaces with what I consider to be the top influencers in Josh’s Choice Playbook.

For a guy who feels fairly lonely in this stage of life, “people” filled my top 2 spots of influence. That is kind of a big shocker! But then again, it was I who filled this list out. I also think it was me who, just the other day, told a friend of mine that I don’t care what people think of me. Hard to believe that statement after looking at this list. And again, this isn’t a sound proof exercise, but the more I soak in it, the more truth I’m seeing.

Let’s move on to number 3, “Past Experience”. I shared that fear has been a thorn in my side for quite a few years. It has been expressing itself openly to me as anxiety for about 2 1/2 years now. It’s been a bumpy relationship. I want to break it off, but for some reason I just cant let her go.

Number 4 – “The Bible”. Religion, spirituality and Christianity can fill this spot as well, because the conglomeration of these has left me hurt, confused, hopeful, more confused and anxious. Don’t get me wrong, I believe I am a wandering soul needing a savior – namely Jesus – but I’ve experienced separation, bitterness, competition and brutality in religion, church and, well, people in general. And I know I’m not the only one. Is this an excuse for the fact this is number 4 on my list? No, absolutely not. But it is where it is and I won’t lie about it. That’s a conversation for another time. What I am saying is this: I want this to be number 1. But it’s evidently not. I think it is good to question the “why” it should be number 1, when all you have heard is that it “should” be number 1 by other people. I view it like this – a beautiful relationship doesn’t tell or demand affection, it gives and receives naturally through an unrelenting love. So really, I suppose I am learning to accept the affection of a savior who gives grace and love freely. “Freely” being the difficult word to swallow.

And finally “Work” and all it’s friends. Nothing has impacted me quite like the transition from student to working 9 hours at a place just to take care of yourself (and loved ones – for you married folk).  It’s good in that it has disciplined me greatly, but if you don’t know who you are and what you stand for in the workplace, I’m quickly realizing that you may become something you never expected. For a generation that seems more confused than ever, we need leaders that instill hope, not just generate excitement.

After writing down my top 5 sources of influence, I sat back and just took a minute. I took time to think about each one of these. I thought about all the social posts I’ve watched and read. I thought about the people close to me, the people I used to know and people I’ve never met but for some reason seem to influence my life’s decisions by means of various technological mediums. I thought about religion – about wars over religion and then I became sad at the thought that I’m not closer in relationship to my creator. And then I thought about work; and the fact that it’s Sunday night and I’ve got to go in the next morning and begin another week with my top 5.

I began this post with a quote. And I want to end it with that same quote. But before I do, there’s one more paragraph that I need to write.

It’s becoming more and more clear that the world I know is changing. It’s changing because of the people leading it. In a room full of talk, the only voices that can be heard are the ones with a microphone or the ones who choose to stay silent and pray. There are good leaders and there are bad leaders; there always have been. But the power of choice was given to us as a human body. I know a lot of you who may be reading this feel lost. You may feel lonely or afraid. It’s so incredibly easy to focus on these things when the influential forces in your life are telling you things you don’t need to hear. It’s time for an adjustment. If your soul is an anchor, whatever it is holding on to will guide you. And if it is good and if it is true, it will guide you home.

 

There is a place for every Man. For every Woman and every child. A place where fears do not follow. A place where dreams become a reality. This place is found. It cannot be made. It cannot be purchased. This place is home. And to everyone…it is available.

 

 

Dream Reader

Someone asked me why do I write? After awkwardly stumbling over my words, I found my stride and told them it was just apart of me. Writing is a release, and a source of mystery and excitement and love. I can’t imagine a world without writing.

Their next question caught me off guard. “Who is your dream reader?” The person I would send a thousand postcards to just to get them to read my jumble of words and phrases. After scratching my head and giving a little smirk I answered with “the one I spend the rest of my life with.”

Honestly, after sifting through celebrities, friends, acquaintances and loved ones, I couldn’t imagine any better feeling than having the one I love geek out with joy over one of my writings. Now, call me a romantic if you like, but here’s to you mystery girl. This one’s for you.

A Boat Called “Layla”

There was this dream floating around that I would own a boat one day and sail the seven seas. I figured “why not?” The seas aren’t going anywhere and pirates are probably really nice people. I was 7.

But to be honest with my 7-year old self, it was never really about the open water or befriending pirates; it was about the boat – “Layla”. You see, Layla and I were destined to share in great adventures with one another. I would take care of her, paint her and scrub scallops from her underbelly, and she would get me through the storms and unexpected tides of the deep blue. And hey, if we did meet pirates Layla and I would be the best hosts they would have the fortune to meet.

As the story would have it, I met Layla on an old dock in Maine’s northeastern shore at the first dim light of evening. I would remember it so well because as the sun was just setting this particular eve, she was the only jewel still glowing. Her pearl white complexion contrasted with utter perfection against her deep oak wood belly. The sails, smoothly caressed by the wind and gently splashed sea water, beckoned for a captain worthy to sail such an elegant craft.

The next morning she was mine.

From that morning on, I had a duty. A commitment to Layla and to myself that I would take care of what was mine and she would be the best looking boat in any dock we set anchor in.

Layla wasn’t perfect when we met. But Lord knows I wasn’t either. We started with her. A fine scrub did her well and new intricately sewn sails were all so fitting for a boat of her stature. A fresh paint job did us both in; bringing her a beauty that was untouchable and developed in me strong character. The interior needed work too. There was that cabinet that would never stay shut, and, oh, that flickering light in the bathroom drove me nearly mad.

Layla taught me something more, however. There are some things that shouldn’t be fixed. They don’t need to be. You learn to love them all the more because of their quirkiness and imperfections. It’s what gives them character and they soak into the deepest part of your heart.

Layla put up with me as well. Especially in the early days when I was so rough with her sails and could never catch the current just right. She never let us tip though. I give credit to her patience with me. And before long we made it. And when we did, we realized something. The seven seas were ours. The open skies and all the deep blue water we could want was at our fingertips. To this day, I believe our bond was certified by this moment. A sort of marriage if you will.

But that’s as far as the story goes for now. My imagination can’t push out another drop of possible adventures quite yet. Perhaps I’m waiting to meet my own “Layla” to share in adventures with. My life isn’t at a stand still and I’m not in agony that the story is currently incomplete. But I’m hopeful that one day “Layla” and I will search those seven seas. And that we will see unforgetable sites and turn strangers into comrades. By the way, I’m sure pirates are really nice people. See you soon “Layla”.

Context for “A Boat Called Layla” here.

A Wild Josh Appears

Life is an adventure. As a 22 year old, I’m always meeting new people and experiences in Charlotte, NC. There is no better time of life than right now (that would be a cool motto. Maybe it already is). I can’t wait to see where the next adventure takes me. Come join this life with me. The journey is always better with people beside you.

This blog is an invitation to experiment. My hope is that as I write more and more and even some more, something good is bound to come out. My grandfather taught me this as a wee lad on the ole’ midwestern rivers. “Be patient…”, he would tell me “and wait for the fish to come to you.” If I paddle down this stream called “the blogging world” long enough, I think I could catch some pretty good size blogs.

I don’t know all there is to blogging, I hope I never do. The mystery is what excites me! I love writing and this is my playground to venture out and try new styles, meet new people and be inspired along the way.

If I have a motto (and I think everyone should – just to make life a bit more interesting), this would be it:

“The Life. The Journey. The Moments in Between.”

6 Things To Do in College

1. Meet Anyone, Not Everyone.

There is perhaps no other time in life where you can meet so many different people in one place. Not only is it available, but it is expected. Take advantage of the fact that you will meet people who are totally different from you and engage in conversation that is both uncomfortable and mind expanding. But don’t be intimidated by big schools with a large student body. You don’t have to meet EVERYONE. Chances are, if you’re bold enough it won’t take long to meet friends that will last a lifetime. If you go into your college semester with a plan to meet your neighbor, your college experience will be better than 90% of your college peers.

2. Start a Campus Club

Joining a club or sports team is great! I would tell anyone to join an organization they have an interest in. College is the perfect outlet for that. But, starting your own club on your college campus is perhaps one of the most rewarding (and challenging) experiences! A roommate and I started 2 different clubs on 2 separate campuses with 2 very different personalities. The experiences challenged us, tested our patience, and made us who we are today with no question! It’s one thing to join in and be a participant, it’s a whole other thing to lead a group of peers with nothing but your passion as your compass.

3. Skip a Class (or two)

Everyone and their mother advises against skipping class, as it will be your downfall into a jobless career of living in the basement of Uncle Joe and his 9 cats. I’m going to fight this a bit. Perhaps i’m an optimist, but I think people are smarter than most give them credit for. Passing on an afternoon Philosophy class and going on an adventure with a few of your closest friends can create memories for a lifetime. Search that trail that leads to God knows where. Climb that old abandoned water tower just to check out the view. Do this in moderation, be smart about it and you’re sure to have some of the best 4 years of your life.

4. Go to Class

Subtly contrary to the previous tip, going to class is what college is for. But looking back at my college experience, it was all about what I made it. Every class is different and college professors are as varied as a bag of jelly beans. But if you go into the classroom with an open mind and the courage to ask questions you will get the most out of your learning. Don’t be afraid to be the kid who stops class for 5 minutes to dive a little deeper into something the professor said. It’s moment like those that stick with you.

5. Take a Trip

College is a time to meet new people, do new things and experience life from different perspectives. One of the best ways to broaden your experience is to take a trip with just a couple friends. Sometimes, taking trips with people you only just met can make the experience that much greater. Go to a local small town over spring break. Or take a long weekend and travel to a neighbor state. College can be one of the most hectic times of life, but it also gives you a lot of time to explore. Take hold of these opportunities and create your own adventure.

6. Be Okay With Change

College is synonymous with “change”. From start to finish, your college career will test you to the limits of what your 20-something mind can handle. For most people, this is the first step into independence. And don’t lose heart, this is a good thing! In the span of 4 (or 5, 6, 7) years you are saying goodbye to depending on Mom + Dad, experimenting with different groups, people and perspectives, and entering into the “real life” after college. Don’t get me wrong, these are exciting times and you will be ready when you finally get that diploma. Enjoy the time you’re in now, and be hopeful for the future. These are the ways I made the most out of my college years. What did you do different…

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Destination: Galveston

Remember when you were a kid and flew for the first time. Or maybe you were all grown up and tried to convince yourself there’s no reason to be scared of flying 30,000 feet up in the air. No matter the time you first flew, think back to the excitement. The rush of the thrill and wonder filling your lungs as you stared down the boarding tunnel.  Oh, or the moment you are buckled in and watched as the Bowing made it’s final turn facing the mile-long runway. And my favorite part – the takeoff. Whooooosh! Yep, every time I fly it takes me back to those memories. There are few things in life that make a lasting impression – my first flight was one of them.

 

So, I went to Texas the other week!

Specifics:

-1 Suitcase

-1 Carry-On

-Outfit: Tom’s Botas, Levi’s 511 (grey), tank-top, blue plaid casual button-up.

-1 Stop – Atlanta, GA

-Destination: Galveston, TX.

 

Let me say something – there is nothing like a warm welcome! My aunt called me 3 months ago asking if I wanted a ticket to the country called Texas with my 2 cousins and cousin-in-law (if that’s a thing). I said “Yes”. I get off the plane in Houston and am tackled by my best friend cousin Christie. After a semi-quick drive down to the lovely Galveston Island, I was quickly bombarded by my 7-year old cousin Erik, cousin Tracie and her husband (cousin-in-law) Kyle. Boom! Hello vacation.

Here’s what happened.

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Beach, grilling, sand-in-toes, good beer, GREAT wine, poker, pool, jokes, deep conversations and colorful skies paint the picture of Labor Day weekend 2014.

At the end of the weekend, I found that beautiful places and nice scenery isn’t the destination. At the heart of all adventurous travel itineraries is the desire to experience the love of the unknown and discover life’s great mysteries.

So here’s to you Monsieur and Madame Traveler. You inspire me and I look forward to the day I join you at the table of the 7-Seas. Next stop…India?

 

Gallery

The Time I Flew

A few months ago, a good friend and I talked about life. I know. But we talked with aspiration. We wanted more in life than just working for the weekend. If scholars are right in saying that we get less than 30% of our lives to do what we want, I’m going to work against those stats.

So, my buddy and I began a challenge. 25 Days of New. Every day for 25 days we would do something we’ve never done before.

This was one of those days:

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Hang Gliding pic

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