Just Be

 To be?  That is the question.

Like a baby discovering his hand in front of his face for the first time, sometimes I get these profound revelations that were there all along, but I never really grasped them before.  Yesterday, it hit me: “Be”.  The verb “be”.  While it can be used in so many different ways and instances, it’s a pretty deep word to think of it in its most simple human terms when relating to one’s self.

To be is to exist. 

Take away any adjective or noun that could follow “be”.  To not “be” anything.  Just to be.  What does it mean to just simple be?  To simply exist. 

Is it all the day to day tasks we do each day?  Driving, working, eating, resting?

Is it simply being alive?  Having a heartbeat?  Breathing?

It’s too deep for me.  I don’t know how to “be”.  How exactly do you “be”?

At least, I don’t know how to “be” myself- though I know how to be myself, by not being someone else.  But I can’t “be” alone.  I can sleep in a house by myself but that’s being alone, not “being” alone.  Where this is going is this: “Being” makes a lot more sense when someone else is “being” too. 

It helps to observe the lyrics of a legendary rock song like “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” by U2:  “I have climbed the highest mountains, I have run through the fields…  I have run, I have crawled, I have scaled these city walls, these city walls… only to be with you”. 

This is sort of song that stops people in their tracks when they hear it.  So full of passion.  A song everyone can relate to, even if they can’t relate to the major spiritual undertones.  If a person simply just hears this song they will most likely walk away subconsciously agreeing that they still haven’t found what they’re looking for.  And, that they would go through extreme measures, only to “be” with another person.

Whatever “being” is, it’s something that is accomplished with other human being who is also “being.  And that’s what “being together” is.  “Being”.  Together.

I am constantly trying to corner down in my mind what it is to “be”, so that I can “be” with everyone important to me in my life.  There’s that annoying balance of figuring out what are truly life’s distractions (worrying about money, getting stressed over uncontrollable things like future plans, etc.) and still doing the things it takes to be a responsible person (working, providing, supporting, listening, teaching, etc.). 

Sometimes deliberately focusing on something so simple can be the hardest thing to do.

“Now an ambulance screams, while the silliest things are flopping around in my brain.  And I try not to dream up impossible schemes that swim around, wanna drown me insane.  And don’t know how to slow it down.  Oh, my mind’s racing from chasing pirates.”

-“Chasing Pirates” by Norah Jones

Birthday Status Update: I’m Super Famous for 24 Hours Just for Surviving Another Year

Birthdays are sort of a funny thing.  And they’re also pretty dang awesome.

After a flood of friends and family telling me to enjoy my 29th birthday via facebook wall comments and mailed birthday cards, I decided to do what they said.  Since last October, I have been wanting a mountain bike.  So when a generous check came in the mail from my parents, I went out the next day to Dick’s Sporting Goods with a “$10 off” coupon and bought myself the mountain bike of my dreams, which conveniently had just went on sale, saving me an additional $70.

Owning a bike takes me back to the days of being a kid.  Because the backseats of my Honda Element fold individually into the sides of the car, I just fold up one seat and my bike easily stays put there.  And I keep my helmet and air pump with me as well.  That means that wherever I am, I can take out my mountain bike for a spin.

I am just too cool these days.

On Monday I explored some areas around my work place, which is outside of Nashville.  There’s this gated apartment community that is only accessible by car and by punching in the correct password on the gate.  Unless you’re on a bike.

It’s interesting how much I blend in like a wallflower when I’m wearing my helmet, dressed professionally, riding my 10 speed mountain bike.  No one questions me at all.  I rode throughout the neighborhood as people said hello to me, not realizing I wasn’t one of their own.

Then I found what I didn’t know I was looking for.  In the back of the neighborhood, situated on a hill, yet just hundreds of feet away from the living quarters, was a Civil War Era graveyard.  Buried inside are the first two original “white settlers” (as the sign explained to me) who stepped foot in Franklin, TN.  They came straight from Scotland.

With my awesome mountain bike, now I can go on more adventures like that during my lunch break.  Or at my house.  I don’t go anywhere now without my new manly accessory.

In addition to my parents’ gift, my sister and brother-in-law gave me a gift card for Barnes & Noble, so I was finally able to buy the two non-fiction books (Maps & Legends, and Manhood for Amateurs) by my favorite author, Michael Chabon, who of course is Jewish.  No other writer has influenced my writing style more than he has.

I could have bought those books a long time ago but it’s so hard for me to spend my own money on stuff I want, but don’t need.  That’s what birthday money is for.

As for my wife, she couldn’t have read my mind any better.  I honestly hadn’t thought much about what she would get me for my birthday, with me being so preoccupied about Baby Bean.  But she got me four things that we’re just perfect:

1)     A ceramic wedding ring.  In our almost two years of marriage, I haven’t been able to consistently wear my actual ring because I am allergic to the metal in it.  So I’ve settled for hemp rings hand-made by people up in hippy stores in Louisville who basically made them for me for free after hearing the sad story of me being so much in love with my wife but not being able to wear my wedding ring.  But now I wear an exact replica of my original ring.  It feels great to look like a married man.

2)     Three years ago for my birthday while my wife was living in Australia, she bought me a Fossil watch and mailed it to me.  About a year ago, the watch battery died and we never got around to replacing it.  But my wife took the effort and time to get the battery replaced so now I can wear my watch again, which matches my wedding ring- a metallic slate color.

3)     The newest CD from the half-Indian, half-American living legend, Norah Jones.  It’s always the right time for Norah Jones.  She’s this generation’s Bonnie Raitt, whom I also love.  Maybe I’m supposed to want a CD from someone manly, like the soundtrack to Iron Man 2 featuring ACDC.  But I am unashamedly a Norah Jones fan, just as much as I am a fan of Michael Buble, who put on one of the best concerts I’ve ever seen.

4)     Lastly, speaking of gifts that arguably I should want if I was 20 years older than I actually am, my wife set up a weekend trip for us to stay in a Bed & Breakfast in northern Kentucky.

We don’t really do hotels.  Because I can only imagine how seldom the blankets get washed on hotel beds.  But with Bed & Breakfasts, you just know everything’s clean and classy.  Some of my friends have commented, “But isn’t that awkward?  Getting up in the morning and eating breakfast with people you don’t know?”   Not for us.  It’s fun.

Yes, they’re always my parents’ age or older and have kids our age, but it’s always interesting to meet other married couples traveling from different parts of the country for different romantic reasons.  We took our honeymoon up in New England and there was no one up there where we stayed who was our age.  We didn’t mind at all.

So there it is.  For all those who wished me a happy birthday this year, not knowing exactly what that would entail for me, now you know how it all went down.  Thanks for caring about my birthday.  It really does mean a lot.

Bottom image: Clover handcrafted signs (Oak Cottage)