I use to believe that it was people that really mattered. I believed this so much that I was willing to sacrifice whatever was needed, to be of good use and value to others. While I still believe that people are the ultimate investment, it can not come at the cost of losing yourself.
Suffering. It’s inevitable. Even things we love make us suffer at times. So, if suffering is unavoidable, we must ask ourselves…. what’s worth suffering for?
One year ago today, the above picture was taken.
Several hours earlier, I rolled out of bed, threw on some clothes and moseyed to gym. It was a typical strength based squat workout. Nothing out of the ordinary. But, as fate would have it, this day would become one I’d never forget.
Allow me to give you some context. I had just moved from Nashville, TN to Conway, AR. I was in between jobs and banking on a firm landing after taking a Leap of Faith. I was under quite the stressors, during this time. It seemed to be hitting me from all angles.
I relentlessly fought it off but there’s only so much fighting a guy can do. I refused to believe what I was battling for the longest. I didn’t want it to be true. Once I came to the conclusion that there was only one way specific things could come to pass, it damn near killed me.
One year later, I’m not sure I’m ready to tell the entire story. And, I wish not, AT ALL COSTS, to hurt or slander anyone involved.
Honestly, I can appreciate the lack of compromise, the relentless pursuit of what they truly wanted. After all, that’s what I preach. I can’t even begin to be mad about the principle.
They’ll forever hold a special place in my heart. The laughter, the conversations, the memories are forever sketched in my mind. For that, I am most thankful.
Many would view the above circumstance to be a bad thing. But, the truth was, this was the happiest I’d been in months. If I’m being real honest, the above is a time and place I wished to revisit, even months after it happened.
Though many questions remained unanswered and my immediate future was unknown, I longed to return to this moment…
For it was in these moments, all the petty bullshit didn’t matter… it made no difference my profession, how much money I had in my bank account, nor anything else going on outside of that room.
For hours and days afterwards, the only thing that was of any concern, was my health… people…
I was found passed out, in some grass, in the outdoor area of the gym. Mostly everybody had left after the group workout. Lucky for me, two were still there.
The last memory I have is talking with my girlfriend. Although, I later found out that she did all the talking and the responses I thought I made where only in my head.
She left, as she had a lunch date with her sister. She didn’t think anything of my “I’m fine” despite not being fine response because that was, and still very much is, my go to response despite how I’m actually doing.
Turns out she told the guy who ended up finding me passed out in the grass to watch me, that I was acting kind of weird.
After our conversation, the next memory I have is staring up at the ceiling of an ambulance… sirens howling…
After hearing the story told over and over again by my girlfriend, her mom, and my dad, I can place myself in all the scenarios they discuss.
Once the guy found me in the grass, he immediately snagged the only other person at the gym to help him get me into big black trough, where they would submerge me into an icy bath.
They thought I was suffering from heat exhaustion. The doctors quickly ruled that out but were quick to say that the ice bath probably saved my life. To this day, I owe them a huge debt of gratitude. If you’re reading this, thank you…
I would spend the rest of the afternoon and night in the hospital. They ran several tests on my heart and brain. The following weeks I would be in and out of doctors offices and labs.
It would be a very confusing and trying time for me, as answers alluded the doctors. At one point, there was talk of putting in a pace-maker. My future remained unknown.
Through all the testing and lab work, no answers were found. Good thing I suppose but it still didn’t provide me much peace of mind for it not to happen again. At least if I knew the cause, I could take preventative action.
Nonetheless, that would not be the case and I would have to carry on as is. But, I hardly left this time in my life without learning something. In fact, during this time and the months following, I learned some very important things, about myself and life.
When you lose a non-renewable resource, your left with only the memories and thoughts of what might have been.
During this whole process, life became really simple for me. I was able to answer the question:
What’s left when you disregard the meaningless bullshit that we ill-advisedly value?
A car can be replaced, plans rescheduled, work commitments reallocated, etc…
Darkness is necessary for one to see light. It was during this dark time, I was able to clearly see the light.
I believe that each individual has his/her own set of values. I can appreciate that, certainly. But, I think at the core of any belief system there are some commonalities. For me, these are what I have found to be the most important things in life…
I like to believe that at the foundation of what propels people forward in life is one thing: Love.
The love I was shown and felt was incredibly overwhelming. If they had told me I had only a few hours to live, laying there next to Mindy… feeling the love and care she had for me… I could honestly say that it would’ve been my finest hour…
Love should be at the foundation of all things true and just. I believe that’s the way our Heavenly Father designed it to be. When you love something, truly love something, you love it for what/who it is. You don’t love something for what it could potentially provide for you.
An unconditional love… For better or for worse… Sickness and in health…
I don’t restrict love to an intimate relationship. Love should be the foundation in every aspect of life. Whatever it is you do, do it as though you are doing it for your Creator, with love, passion, and drive.
That’s the only way to do great work; love what you do.
When it comes to others, love them for who they are and where you find them. Yes, they will grow and change as life continues to press on. Your love will grow through those seasons of change.
Your love will grow by loving, caring for them and having their back. That love will grow exponentially if you have the courage to whole-heartedly take a leap of faith and trust that no matter what happens your love will grow stronger.
Your faith grows when you trust it. Love grows in the same way. When you’re not quite sure of the outcome, but the reward outweighs the risks, your faith and love can grow when you follow through.
In life, the most dangerous thing one can do is play it safe.
It is no secret that Love will hurt you. You’ll suffer when you have Love and you’ll certainly suffer when you do not have it.
Love will provide you with the happiest of times. If you don’t believe that to be so, go back and look at that picture. At the time, I have no clue what’s wrong, there are no answers, and the future remains very foggy, yet I’m smiling. I feel loved, cared for.
There are several other pictures I have that would more appropriately demonstrate the love I felt. However, it’s probably best that I not share them here… forever they’ll travel with me…
In those pictures, there is only one thing demonstrated, and that’s love. Love, for the character and nature of the guy that I am…
I always pray that my character and who I am is enough… although, I’ll work relentlessly to provide whatever is needed and support those around me anyway I can, at the end of the day, if I shall fail, I need who I am to be enough…
…enough for someone to Love me unconditionally…
…enough for someone to believe in me…
…enough for someone to have my back…
…enough for someone to believe that I am the person now that others will remember me for later…
…enough for someone to stand beside me in the darkest of times, when Murph has landed a kick that it doesn’t seem like we’ll recover from…
I am well aware that I am difficult to love… The way I operate is difficult for most to comprehend… It remains one of my greatest assets while simultaneously one of my greatest downfalls…
I debate whether or not it’s selfish of me to want this or ask for this kind of love…
To love me requires a HUGE leap of faith…
I worry that I will not find the love of another that I can be all in with… My journey will allow me to love a lot of people. But, I worry that I will not find the love of another whom I can grow with, nurture and take care of… I worry that I’ll never be able to roll over in my bed and kiss an angel good morning…
And, what hurts the most about all of the above, is that it’s all because of who I am…
While unexplainable and, at times, completely irrational, Love really matters. You cannot convince me otherwise. If it didn’t, why would someone call into work to stay with me in the hospital?
If love didn’t matter, why would someone immediately drop what they’re doing and drive three hours to check on me?
If love didn’t matter, why would someone hold my hand while I lay in bed, scared to fall asleep in fear that I might not wake up?
Love matters. The theological virtues: faith, hope, and love. But, the greatest of these is love. Love conquers all.
Although the events that led to the hospital stay were scaring and sparked quite the fear in my friends and family and certainly myself, I was comforted by the things that really matter.
As I lay in that hospital bed, unable to escape the attention of my closest of loved ones, I realize what really matters. It is sad that these types of events are necessary for us to put things in perspective.
And, while confusing and scary, they are necessary for us to learn from and grow from.
In life, suffering is inevitable. You must ask yourself:
What’s worth suffering for?
Is love worth suffering for?
Love is certainly worth suffering for, but there is such a thing as too high a cost. Love cannot come at the expense of changing who you fundamentally are.
I know how difficult it can be to love me. At times, I find it hard to love myself.
I suffer because few understand me. My mind truly works much differently than most and I have yet to maximize it’s potential. It’s definitely something that I’ve yet to control it’s full capabilities.
The suffering I face in being so different is quite necessary because I literally cannot be anything but who who I am.
At one point, I tried to change and it damn near killed me. That’s what put me into that hospital bed. I know only how to be myself. I’m damn proud of that.
I can’t hide my true feelings.
I can’t hide my passions.
I cannot turn down my enthusiasm.
There’s a chapter in my book called “The Power of Death.” There’s a subtle message that is not often caught. Up until this point, I have merely only hinted at it and expressed it outright to a chosen few.
The conviction that drives me on a daily basis is also one that scares the hell out of me, occasionally. Taken out of context, it can sound very morbid and absurd. But, with a much deeper look, it can make a lot more sense.
I’ve expressed this with everyone I’ve been intimately close to because it burdens me to know the potential pain it could cause if it were to come to fruition.
For whatever reason, I don’t feel I’ll be on this earth as long as many naturally assume. I think I will go at an age that most would consider rather young or “before his time.”
This conviction is not one I’ve merely conjured up. I’ve battled with it for years before I was able to even tell anybody about it.
I view it as a positive. Each day that I get to see the sunrise and set is a beautiful day. And, while I still take too many days for granted, I am able to live in the moment.
Memories mean the world to me. I can’t emphasize that enough. If we have ever shared laughs, tears, or deep thoughts, I’ve forever locked you into my memory.
I will not be here long. Therefore, I have no time to waste. I must do what is being asked of me to with my time here on earth.
My focus needs not to stray. The content I produce, the relationships I build, and the message I share has been and will continue to ripple and influence people… long after I’m gone.
I’ll share this with you too… I believe my message will be better heard after I’m gone.
Whether or not these beliefs are true or not, I can accept it either way. There’s a piece of me that still visualizes sitting on the back porch in rocking chairs watching the sun set. In which case, I’ll be able to look back on my life and say,
“Man, that was some top-shelf shit.”
The following section was written 2 months following the incident. I have been working on this piece for the last year. I have condensed it down quite a bit but I couldn’t bring myself to delete this section.
I pray it brings some value. It’ll certainly grant you access into my mindset and thought process during a very trouble time in my life….
I anticipate these words will sadden some… anger a few… and impact many…
What we convince ourselves brings value to our lives doesn’t always add up to the things that actually do. Yet, it takes events and moments like these to make us realize what really matters.
WHAT REALLY MATTERS
Although people can let you down and completely rip your heart to pieces, in the long run, the right people can provide you with the utmost happiness. While I believe that no other person should be in control of your own happiness, it should go without saying that the right people can enhance your life exponentially.
I’ve been blessed with so many great people in my life. People who love and care about me, want me to succeed, and have my back no matter what fill my friends list. I am truly blessed. It saddens me that in moments where I lay in a hospital bed with an uncertain future, I am able to see all of this love and care clearly. While in other instances, it is so easy to take for granted.
To manage my own expectations, I always look at the best case scenario and the worse case scenario. More than likely, things will never be as good as you expect nor will they be as bad as you expect. They typically fall somewhere in the middle. If your prepared for the best and the worse, then you’re equally prepared for anything in between.
For me, having somebody say that they’ll love me no matter what, means the world. I always ask the question, ‘if worse comes to worse, and we have to live in a box under an overpass, I need to know that you’ll still be at my side and love me.’
While far-fetched and dramatic, the way you answer this question tells me a lot about your commitment level to me. I can guarantee you that I’ll be the same guy, character and integrity intact no matter if I’m living under an overpass or in Beverly Hills. I want to know that those who love me, love me for who I am, what I stand for, and not for what I can provide for them.
Honestly, I never see myself in that situation. But, if I did find myself to be in that position, I have the confidence in myself to be able to get out of that position. I would not sit back into contentment. No! I would relentlessly pursue betterment and do everything to get myself out of that position.
For someone to say that they would no longer be with me, if I found myself living under an overpass tells me that they don’t have the confidence in me to make anything out of myself. Living under an overpass would be rock-bottom, I believe. And, perhaps secretly, I someday wish to hit rock bottom just so I could see who would be there pulling the knives out of my back.
You see, true love is there for you when you have nothing else. Laying in that hospital bed, I felt that true love from so many! Many of whom, I didn’t even realized I had impacted in any way whatsoever.
Thank you for reading my friend. Thank you for allowing me to open up and share. But, most importantly, thank you for allowing me to be me. For it’s all I know how to be…
I anticipate these words will sadden some… anger a few… and impact many…