So today is the day that I finally abandon my teenage years. I’ve seen two decades come and go, and what a fascinating, formative two decades it has been.  One of the most important takeaways from the time I’ve meandered around during my time here has been that the gifts I got each year were found in the people who were present (no pun intended).  It’s these people that I’ve come to adore more than any material objects I receive.  Sure, it’s nice getting something unexpected, but at the end of the day, the person is what’s going to last; gifts come and go, but people surprise me far more than anything I’ve ever received.

Right at 12 AM of today, I was on my computer watching It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia when I hear my phone vibrate.  I ignore it because I could probably respond after the episode and no one would be the wiser.  However, it begins to vibrate more and more consistently and I begin to get nervous. Being an instinctive pessimist, I had begun to think up outlandish scenarios in which one of my close friends had gotten kidnapped and was texting all the information I might need to find him or her. I picked up my phone, double-tapped the screen to wake it up, and slid my thumb down from the top of the screen only to reveal seven new text messages, all echoing one sentiment: happy birthday.

I went through each one and read it before responding to the person in kind, hopefully personalizing it enough to the point where it didn’t seem like I sent a mass “thank you” out to everyone.  And as the Facebook posts slowly started rolling in, perhaps because people remembered or perhaps because Facebook is the most diligent companion to us all in terms of remembering birth dates, I began thinking about the pleasure that would be responding to all the wall posts.

I like Facebook – this is a well-established fact.  However, I think my favorite thing to do is respond to the wall posts that make their way in.  Something about birthday Facebook posts makes them especially fun to respond to; you never know what is going to be said to you.  From the social obligation to the heartfelt post from someone close to heart, I appreciate each one, some obviously more than most, but the fact that someone I barely know wished me a happy birthday does give me some hope for the cordiality of humanity.

Anyhow, my birthday is over, and the last thing that’s pulsing through my mind like the neon sign of a late night shop is that I love the people God puts in my life, and this next year, I hope to show these people even more love than I have this past year.  And not just these people, because the Word says that it’s easy to love people who love you, but may this upcoming year be one in which I may love the unfamiliar, unsavory, and misunderstood.  Twenty years on Earth and it’s taken me this long to realize God’s love for us all, but hey – at least He revealed it to me finally.  I’m determined to try and show those around me how deep His love is.



Silence penetrates beneath bright lights,

and something creaks beneath my sight.

Is it the floor? I can’t be too sure anymore.

Left or right, my knees don’t move like before.

The hinges creak with bend and stretch,

old age has found its way inside.

As injury makes a final sketch

upon my youthful, easy stride.

Time passes fast, each stretch I do

just serves to help me follow through.

The ball sits, watching, near the wall,

in pondering thought of if I’ll fall.

I make my way to feel the sphere,

its leather face and dusty suit.

And back I walk, heart full of fear,

Can I bend my knees to shoot?

The Blame Game.

As I sit on the Amtrak, listening to BreakBot, I find myself reflecting on the topic of bereavement.  After all, that’s the sole purpose of this solitary voyage back home.  I consider all that’s happened within the past month – the passing of a dear brother at my home church as well as his elderly mother, the Ferguson incident and the recent #icantbreathe fiasco, the now seemingly forgotten presence of ISIS and the events that have transpired in relation to the organization.  I began realizing that we as a generation and indeed as a race have forgotten how to grieve.  We should grieve the passing of loved ones, we should grieve the state of our humanity when the nation is polarized by tragedy, we should grieve the plight of our fellow human beings across the world.

While we do have some semblance of grief when we go through personal loss, the actuality is that the dead are always forgotten – rare are the souls who have the capacity to bear the burden of a living memory until they meet their own demise.  The memory of the living serves not for the sake of honoring the deceased, but the proliferation of one’s own experiences as fuel for an individual stance on present circumstances.  Multiple agendas begin to undermine the tragedies we are presented with, as sorrow turns to bitter fury.  Instead of reflecting upon the lives lived by those taken from us, we begin to construct angles from which to view the situation with the intent of assigning fault, and we become more involved with our perception of setting the record straight rather than using the time we have to properly entomb the past dearly in our hearts.

This is not to say that this post itself has no agenda because to do so would be entirely hypocritical.  However, it is a transparent plea for our modern generation to stop resorting to anger instead of understanding.  People rage at God, bicker with society, and renounce the pillars on which they’ve built their lives – and to what end?  We offend each other with the positions that we take, and in times where solidarity is the first stepping stone to recovery, we stomp off the path onto the clearer, more passionate route.  People who were of one mind find themselves at odds over a situation that should not be divisive, but rather decisive; there needs to be a change. But, being as fickle as we are, we are apprehensive of letting hesitation and pondering cool the fire that burns within us, and so we look for the quick fixes.  We swiftly blame the authorities, scorn the party that is “clearly” at fault, and crucify the most vulnerable target.  We don’t bother to examine ourselves as a society and see that these problems began with ourselves.  When we teach our youth to respond with vitriol and animosity, we damage any prospect of improving the society we perceive to be so riddled with flaws.  When we encourage the open opposition of authority, what kind of message are we sending to those we will take care of this world after us?  Is what we want a world filled with people seeking recompense and retribution instead of a human race willing to have its heart broken, truly broken, so that from that heartache we may advance?

To remember the dead is now a mere societal obligation.  It seems like we pursue the next crime scene in more earnest than we choose to remember and understand the losses we’ve endured.  The fact of the matter is, we have forgotten how to mourn. We hurt our brothers and our sisters, and yet we dare not say that we were at fault because what we continue failing to see is that the solution lies not with us.  We need to admit our fallen state, and look ahead to our shared future inheritance.  If a nation chooses unity for its youth instead of the pretense of justice, it will provide for the foundation of our true mutual understanding of one another as humans – not as colors, cultures, or creeds – and it is the greatest good we can render unto the preservation of this world when it comes time for our children to mourn us.  The hope is that in their time, their mourning of us might not beget more mourning, but silent consideration and appreciation for the lessons we’ve left behind.

World 1.

Anywhere the eye glanced, unyielding trees stood sentinel, unspeaking but all-seeing.  Only one clearing existed, and a small stack of firewood was centered amidst the open space, prepared to burn at a moment.  Around the acres of forest, an entire range of mountains, known as the Shifting Mountains, engulfed the malleable land, the stone guardians to the secluded land of Gyr.  The only opening to Gyr was frozen once a year, a large river that cut a small opening in the rocky impasse.  If not by this river, which the indigenous people called the Silent Pathway, the only method to gain access to Gyr was by traversing the chaotic terrain.  Legends say that the mountains are called the Shifting Mountains because those who have attempted to scale them have found themselves further off mark than they thought, closer to their start than conceivable, and a long way from making any kind of progress.  The few who made it over the mountains and down into the land learned from the natives that the easiest course of action was to wait a season for the Silent Pathway to bubble with vigor before proceeding. As for the winged creatures, however, passage was no easier – the howling winds atop the peaks denied any course of nature, blowing in a manner that would most inconvenience the sojourner.  These winds they called the Calm Harm – so named because of how silent but forceful the winds were, like an invisible hand of discipline.

Within the mountains, one found an abundance of arboreal greenery.  If trees were not chief, then the vines that outgrew the patience of boulders reigned.  Although the rocky formation encircling the forest within was breathtakingly massive, the amount of overgrowth utterly overwhelmed all of Gyr’s visitors. Each tree, though all of one species, had different lines in its bark.  Some trees had holes to house the wandering critters that moved about during the day, while others remained unscathed for years, accumulating a thick natural armor.  Within the boughs of the trees lay many a nest, happily filled with eggs or meticulously prepared to uphold the weight of the future.  The gloom of a winter sky loomed near, and escaping birds flitted across the darkened sky as rain cascaded down from above, looking for these same boughs to find shelter under. The thick, tall trees began to glisten under the moonlight, illuminated with the sweat of the sky.  As the low rumble began to amble across the lands, the mountains sighed in the background underneath the thunderous roar.