Sunday, June 26, 2011

Final Post: The Ripple Effect

What We Do In Life, Echoes In Eternity-Maximus from Gladiator

I've had only 3 months to learn and grow and take in as much as I possibly could from the trip.  The time was priceless and I feel as though I have learned a lot, and it was something my soul desperately needed. I realize how blessed and fortunate I am to have had the opportunity to take such a trip and I made sure I appreciated and lived it to the fullest.  I also wanted to take this time, to truly wrestle with God and to knock on his door continuously since I was virtually free of distractions.  The trip has forced some good habits on me....praying every morning for safety and adventure, praying at night when the day goes well or when I faulted, and praying over every meal not for nourishment (I always thought that prayer was stupid) but for safety and to not choke on my food... ha.

The Energy of the Lord
Something us Christians don't talk about much, which I feel we should is the mystery of the Holy Spirit, what it means to each of us individually as I think it comes to us in different ways.  For me, the feeling of the spirit comes like that of "runners high" which I get from running a few miles.  Aside from hiking, I haven't had a chance to exercise much yet I feel as though I've been running a marathon everyday.  I've learned that when we offer every desire fully up to Him, only then are we free to pursue our desire, for we are no longer slaves to those desires.  That is when I feel this tireless energy upon I mentioned in one of my earlier posts hearing the Lords voice which says to pursue endeavors fiercely.  But what desires should we pursue and why should we pursue them?

"Toil and Trust"--Robert E. Lee
There I was, driving in the middle of Oregon, on the other side of the coast far away from home when it hit me.. The Enemy has us believe that our efforts, pursuits and desires on this earth are pointless, that its all for nothing.  This is a lie, but I didn't realize how much this mindset had grabbed hold of me.  It is not our job to wonder how much of an affect we are having on this earth, just do whats right(deep down, you know what it is) and work hard and trust that it meant something and that it mattered.  Whether your dreams are grand or humble, if we offer those dreams to the Lord we must not doubt ourselves in pursuit.  If you're dreams are grand, once you release yourself from the burden of 'making a difference' and realize that you can have the greatest impact on this planet even as a happy janitor, life will be what it was meant to be.

How much do the "big" things in life have an effect? No more so than the "small" things.  In other words, Joel Osteen, whom I met, can use his motivational gospel message and it might do some good on the surface but unless you have a counselor, a guide, someone who truly cares about you there ...holding you accountable and uplifting you day in and day out, that is what is going to truly impact someone's life.  Osteen can't provide this kind of mentorship to those he ministers to.  So Osteen is famous, but how much is his effect?  I'm just using him as an example, there was a reason as to why I intended to meet him.  That's why small groups are so important, grassroots activities, that is where true power is.  Therefore, love is the most influential feeling that can have an affect...or maybe I've been hanging out with hippies for too long.

Another good poem, by Percy Bysshe Shelley, and it speaks somewhat to what I'm trying to say.  You can think that having a title(read the castle/empire post), or your name on a billboard, a star on Hollywood Blvd or on neon lights in Nashville matters, as if your piece of immortality is solidified(everyone's ultimate desire is immortality)...but who will remember Arnold Swarzeneggar in 50 years? He'll be an after thought...On this trip I've seen monuments, shrines, plaks, anything and everything dedicated to the lasting memory of people who had a surface impact within their field.  Some admire this, and strive for it, but the truth is that if your name makes it on a square on Hollywood blvd, or a street sign,  it's merely there for people to walk on...half of the people who made it on hollywood blvd I had never even heard of before.  Statues are set in parks where homeless people linger, birds use it as a bathroom.  Monuments like the Alamo are there for people to take pictures of, to walk through and move on and that's it.  But the Alamo, unlike the other dedications is one that was not asked for not one that was planned nor driven by a desire to be made famous, which is why it's inspirational impact, its ripple, is felt more than a square on hollywood blvd.  Not saying that most monuments are wrong, but people who strive to such a degree that they are willing to do anything for this kind of recognition are living very sad lives and missing so much more.  No matter who you are, famous or not, your impact will always be limited to the degree that you loved those around you.  So, if fame and fortune are not the greatest things to strive for in life, what is?

Further more, empires fade...famous people die and the youth forget their names or the things that they did and those rare exceptions might have recognition lasting longer than others but eventually they fade away as well.  Like the statue in the poem "Ozymandias" even statues and monuments get buried in sand through time, so what is the point?

I said that love has the most permanent and lasting effect, and it's only on those lives you touched while you were here on this Earth and eventually they will fade away as well, along with your memory.  But that love that you show while you are alive radiates, and passes on to others, and they in turn pass that on to others and to their prodigy.  That generation fades, but the love taught to the next generation continues and on and on it goes.  This is the legacy we should all seek to leave behind.

So my advice to those striving so hard, like I strived, is to stop getting frustrated, stop trying to 'be somebody'(we are all famous in heaven anyway), stop the unnecessary drama in your life, quit wasting your time in bars (which is really just away of seeking community...don't be like Fast Freddy), if you're a single person the golden rule still applies to dating as well so quit playing games w/ people and be genuine, quit wasting time on things which the wise King in Ecclesiastes said are meaningless but what I call are the"endless" pursuits in life that could always be bigger and better but will never make you happy or content, love your spouse, your family, your friends, and your community and have lots of kids(the writers of the Georgia Guidestones I'm sure would hate me saying the last part).  Find new ways to show love to those around you and they will remember it and pass it on.  Even if we didn't have Christ, if life were all for nothing, this would still be true.  In the end, no matter who you are you won't be remembered, but your effect is what will remain.  So when I say, build a castle, this is what I mean.  The ripple is not found in titles, it's not found in busying ourselves with endless pursuits and desires, but it's found in character and how we live...really the only thing we have control over (see man post on control and hero post on Brian Carderelli).

The Trip
So on this trip I've tried to update everyone with what I'm doing, the places I'm seeing, and the things I'm doing, and I also wanted to try and use somewhat poetic example (through experiences and stories) to give you my take on life.  Not really sure why, but I know a lot of people go through the same things I go through, but like some of the people I've met along the way on this trip(ex: Fast Freddy)...they keep making the same mistakes, buying into the same lies over and over and over.  It's why their relationships don't work out, it's why they run themselves into the ground trying to keep up with the rat race, its why they won't free themselves from what society tells us is the real life.  As I've learned on this trip, the real things in life, the truer things are found underground and you have to dig for the jewels both internally and externally.  But I will admit, I don't live up to my own ideals; I get angry, fearful, give in to societal pressures, lack faith in many circumstances and have weak...many weak moments, the christian life is tough but its worth the struggle.

As for me, I'm looking forward to spending some more time with the folks, getting back to the gym, driving my jeep and working on a couple of projects on the side until school starts, or deciding whether I would rather keep working.  So I hope you enjoyed this blog.  I hope you found it entertaining, humorous, inspiring, or enlightening (ha).  I've tried to write things as I've learned and as I've read and I tried to mix things up on the blog to make it as interesting as possible.  Some of the things I've written were impulsive and I'll probably look back and think "what the heck was I thinking writing that" but it's all been for fun, and a lot of these posts were tongue and cheek so I hope you take it with a grain of salt.  Many times I have thought "wow, I really shouldn't write that" but the Lord has given me courage to write what I feel and I hope you found it enjoyable.  Thanks for the encouragement, for keeping in touch, to those I stayed with for your hospitality, to those I met along the way the blessing and that "ripple effect" my interaction with you has had.  May God continue to grow, strengthen, and energize each one of you always so that your own permanent ripple effect may be felt positively throughout the world.  Boy, all that travelling gave me way too much thinking time.  Thanks again!

The GPS has been Recalculated...

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