Diary 60 (Time is all I have part 2)

The Packers wanted to fly me out for a workout to potentially sign me for the remainder of the season.

And just like that, I was reminded why Compromise and Opportunity are brothers.

They look so much alike. But they are so different.

When I took the call, I was busy prepping for a 300-jar run of salsa. No not like the dance. I’m not a very good dancer, and yes I know that’s surprising.

Mind boggling to think that a black guy can’t dance, I know. But, well…. I can’t.

I guess God knew that I’d use that skill with bad intent or something like that.

So instead of giving me the gift of rhythm and movement he gave me something even better. He gave me the knowledge and skill to make salsa.

I mean like SALSA salsa. The essence of life in Texas.

That kind of salsa.

It’s pretty good salsa too. Actually… it’s the best in the world. And no, that was not a typo. I meant to say world. Like the entire planet earth.

The conversation I had with Compromise was pretty awkward.

“Ok, we will fly you out later today for the workout. What airport will you be flying out of?”

Ironically, Compromise assumes quite a bit. It speaks first because its wordplay is so seductive.

“Well… uh… have you spoken with my agent?” I awkwardly stuttered, simply because I had already explained to my agent, Jordan, my decision to pursue other things.

Jordan did what any good agent would do, though. He passed the call in my direction instead of speaking for me on such a decision.

“Well… no. We got your number from him, and we can fly you out later today. What airport will you be flying out of?” Compromise stated once again.

“Well, I appreciate you guys reaching out but I’m sorry to inform you that I have hung up the cleats and am using my time to pursue other things.”

And this is where the conversation between Compromise and I got awesomely awkward.

“Oh… well… ok. Ummm…. what kind of other things are you going to do now may I ask?” Compromise asked, his tone a bit taken aback.

“Well, I’m an artist. I really love doing that, and its going really well. And also I run this, ummm… limited exclusive salsa company.”

After I said those words, I realized how funny they sounded and couldn’t help but chuckle a bit at the explanation.

“Well, uhhh… good luck with all of that! Hope that all works out. Appreciate your time,” Compromise said.

And just like that, I realized something.

When you tell Compromise about the things that bring you joy and are most important to you, it has no choice but to respect that and politely move on.

Sometimes Opportunity will be viewed as the crazy choice to pursue. And from an outsider’s perspective, Compromise will seem the most logical.

So yes. I am an odd bird.

I am the man who turned down the NFL to make salsa and paint.

An odd bird indeed.

But the normal birds are never remembered.

Last week I finally got around to having business cards made. It had been kind of a conundrum, deciding what I should put on them to describe my profession. I ended up simply putting,

“I do things I love, and I do them well.”

I hope and pray that this inspires at least one person to value their time a little bit more.

If that is the case, then writing this was time well spent and Opportunity used.

Because quite simply put, my time is all I have.

 

Blessings,

Baron

 

Posted 4 months ago

 

Diary 59 (Time is all I have)

“I cant do that, I don’t have the time.”

“That’s not worth my time.”

“That is a waste of time.”

“My time is too important for something like that.”

People say those things all the time. But oddly enough I’m not sure that most people actually mean them, or even believe them to be true.

I know for a long time I didn’t.

For quite some time I threw around the most important thing that everyone could ever have as a simple figure of speech.

Time.

What a concept.

What a precious irreplaceable thing.

Over the past few months I have come to believe something that previously I had been guilty of lying about. And that thing was this.

My time is important. My time is all I have.

When I retired from the game of football it wasn’t because I didn’t like playing anymore. It wasn’t because I couldn’t still potentially play either. Yes, I know what some of you are thinking.

“But dude you got fired.”

I know, I know.  Don’t remind me.

I remember.

Come on guys, remember the story of me tearing down my house with my superhuman strength out of anger I told a few weeks ago?

You remember that right? The story that didn’t actually happen?

Ok but seriously.

The reason I decided to hang up the cleats was simply because I finally believed that my time was more important.

I finally realized and put in action the fact that my time is all I have. And because of that I prioritized the things that brought me joy in life and decided I would spend my most precious resource of all pursuing those things without compromise.

My time.

And after the prioritization I quickly realized that Football was not even in my top 5 things that bring me joy. In fact, after this analysis I quickly realized that actually football was the root of 90% of the things that stole my joy.

A year ago I made a ‘T’ chart for this. Third grade served me well I guess, thanks Mrs. Lusby.

You are appreciated.

Strangely I wasn’t sure how it got to that, but it did.  I guess I liked playing still, but it no longer brought me joy.

It was my Joy Thief.

And Joy Thieves should not reside in anyone’s life, or at least anyone who wants to be happy.

So the decision was made at that point. I decided to use my time to focus on the things that brought me joy and eliminate the things that didn’t, and not compromise that no matter what.

But typically with well thought out decisions in life, and commonly in my own life, Compromise is always lurking around the corner.

Waiting.

Watching.

Slowly moving closer.

Hands clasped tightly, and eyes focused on its prey with bad intentions.

Compromise is a skillful hunter that can only strike its deadly blow at a close distance to its prey.

So Compromise wears camouflage. It hunts while draped in a glimmering shiny disguise.

Compromise in my life most often camouflages itself as its brother.

Opportunity.

But the two are not the same.

However, truly believing your time is all you have, gives you vision to see the two for what they really are.

For those that don’t truly value their time, Compromise will always catch.

Compromise will feed on what it needs the most to survive.

Time and joy.

That’s why I believe those things to be precious.

Because Opportunity feeds from the same source.

Both are very hungry. The tricky part is distinguishing the two.

What I’ve learned is that Compromise can potentially bring momentary fleeting amounts of joy, but in the end it will always be a waste of time. It will eat as much time from a person’s life as possible resulting in lack of value for the most precious resource anyone can have.

Compromise is the reason people do not value their time as important.

Opportunity on the other hand will bring sustainable and renewable joy reach day. Opportunity takes a tremendous amount of work.

More work than most are okay with doing.

However, Opportunity devours time as well, but at the end of the day the joy it reaps always justifies the time it takes to feed it.

Last Monday Compromise hit me on the cellular.

Thats a cell phone.

I was busy feeding Opportunity.

It came handsomely dressed in a gleaming yellow and green suit. It looked like a Greenbay Packer suit.

Because it was.

Come back next week to read more.

 

Blessings,

Baron

Posted 5 months ago

 

Diary 58 (I think I knew your mother part 2)

“Baron,

My name is Emily and I am from Crane Texas. I have been trying to find the children of a woman I knew very well when I was young that was at the Crane Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. This woman made a big impact on my life and I would love to share some of my memories of her. I can only remember one of her children’s names, a daughter named Bridgette, and I was trying to get a hold of her email address and stumbled across your blog! I am sure this is a bizarre email to receive, but I wanted to check and see if you might be her son before I started telling you my connection with her. Her name was Joyce and I knew her from around 1999-2001ish? Anyway, if you are not related to her I’m sorry to bother you. But if you are I would love to share what an impact she had on my life.

In Christ,

Emily”

 

This is the email that I received from Joyce’s messenger. I eagerly responded to Emily’s email, explaining that I would love for her to email me back and tell me how Joyce impacted her.

I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the response was the most loving discipline that a mother could ever give her son.

And this is what she had to say in the form of Emily, her messenger.

 

“Baron,

Getting your email literally brought tears to my eyes.  Your mother meant so much to me and so often I have wondered about you and your siblings.  So why don’t I tell you about how I knew your mother, and how she impacted me?

I believe you and I are about the same age.  I am 26. When I was in the 6th grade I joined the student council (I know, what a nerd, haha).  Part of the requirements of being a member was doing community service hours.  I signed up to volunteer at the Crane Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.  The first few times I went I was extremely nervous.  I had no idea what I was doing, but very soon I met your mother Joyce and she was like a breath of fresh air! I didn’t know who to talk to when I was there until she came along and she and I became instant friends.  Soon, I started going just to visit her!

I visited your mother on a regular basis for about three years and just fell in love with her.  We would spend hours talking.  She would patiently listen to me tell her my hopes and dreams, as well as whatever silly problems a middle school girl has.  But when she would begin to talk our conversation almost always centered on her children back in Midland.  She loved you all so much.  She also worried about y’all so much!  I remember numerous times we would sit and pray for y’all.  She so desperately wanted to go back home to you.   She knew that life was hard for y’all but she also knew that the most important thing she could do was pray over you, and pray we did!

One thing I specifically will never forget about your mom is how she would call me a silly goose.  I don’t know if she called you all that growing up, but often when I would try to cheer her up and make her laugh that is what she would call me and it made me feel so special.  Now every time I hear someone say that I think of her. I also remember one time you all were coming to visit her, so that morning I helped her brush her hair and put on her make up. I had just started wearing makeup myself and remember us both having a good laugh as I tried to put it on her.

Your mother taught me some wonderful life lessons that I have and will always carry with me.  She taught me the power of hope.  She knew that she would probably never get better or get out of her wheelchair, however; she kept on praying and she kept hoping that things would get better and that you all would be ok.  She also taught me it was ok to be sad.  Your mother showed me it was ok to cry when you are sad, and it is ok to be honest with God about how you are feeling.  Your mom also taught me how to listen.  Your mom showed me that sometimes the best thing I can do for a person is simply be there with them in their pain and walk alongside them in it and not necessarily try to “fix it”.

Your mom was an incredible woman.  I cannot even begin to imagine how difficult that time was for you and your siblings, but I did want you to know your mother had a friend in Crane even when you all could not be there and that God was watching over her.  I also wanted you to know how much she loved each of you.  Although I was just in middle school I still remember so much about her.  Through the years I have prayed for all of you.  I could only remember Bridget’s name, but I still would pray for you all because I knew your mother no longer could.  The last time I went to visit your mother she couldn’t remember who I was anymore and I remember how hard that was for me.  But, when I mentioned you all she lit up and would begin to talk.  You and your siblings were a huge source of joy for her.

I now have my nursing degree and am back in school to become a nurse practitioner.  Your mother played a big role in that.  The way I treat many patients is rooted in what your mother taught me at a young age about caring for others.  Every once in a while a patient will remind me of your mom and I will just simply smile to myself, blink back some tears, and say a little prayer for y’all.

I’m sorry if this email is all over the place, I can’t quite put into words how I feel about Joyce.  Your mother meant so much to me and continues to impact my life on a daily biases as I interact with my patient’s.  I just wanted you and your siblings to know what an incredible woman I thought she was and that she is not forgotten and that she loved you all more than you know.  I will continue to pray for you all every time I think of her because I know that is what she would have wanted.

In Christ-

Emily

 

“Silly Goose! Baron, don’t be gross, clean that up. You know better than that. Come on son.”

 

Over a decade later I received my mom’s message from her very special messenger.

Emily showed up with perfect timing. She delivered the only message from the only person that I would possibly listen to. The only thing strong enough to crack the immense wall that I will have to tear down. It won’t be easy. I’ve been building it for decades. But this is the first time ever that I have admitted to myself that it needs to come down.

 

It has to.

 

And seemingly in an instant, I realized that the way I have survived up until this point has to change. My life is no longer about survival. That changed a long time ago. However, I’ve been foolishly clutching the survival guide that helped me get to this point.

But that is no longer needed, or is it applicable.

Because I am no longer simply surviving.

 

I am living.

 

Not only will my survival guide destroy me, but it will kill my messengers. At this point in my life I am sure that I am responsible for the death of some. And in front of my own two eyes in the form of a seemingly random email, I have seen the importance of a messenger.

The only reason Emily found me is because Joyce did everything that I don’t.

She listened to a stranger’s problems. She didn’t put her in a box. She didn’t delete her. She laughed with her. She gave her hope. She let her roam free. She didn’t tag her as beneficial or non-beneficial. She let her in. She impacted her life.

 

Because she cared.

 

And then she sent her with a message.

A message that Emily carried for 15 years.

A message from a mom who needed to speak to her son.

And a message that the son needed to hear.

 

“I think I knew your mother.”

That’s what Emily said.

And she  was right. Emily knew Joyce.

And my mother changed her life, and because of that 15 years later she continues to change mine as well.

I’m thankful that my mom was better than me. I’m thankful that she didn’t kill the messenger. I’m thankful that she cared.

Because now I can begin to.

 

Blessings,

Baron

Posted 5 months ago

 

Diary 57 (I think I knew your mother)

I was planning on writing about something completely different this week. I was actually halfway done with my column when something happened.

 

I received an email.

It was from a woman named Emily, and in the subject line it read,

“I think I knew your mother.”

 

Now, I have plenty of moms that claim me as their son who played a large part in helping raise me. It’s pretty awesome actually.

But Emily said she knew Joyce.

She wanted to know if I happened to be her son.

She wanted to tell me how my mom changed her life.

 

Every so often, moments of self-evaluation occur for me. They always happen right at the perfect moment. Usually it’s during the times when things are going great and I feel like I have it all together. When I feel like my house is pretty clean.

 

Then boom.

 

What the heck is that smell?

 

Like the Batman signal calling a savior to assist with the problem, a light is shined on the dirty laundry that I’ve hidden in my closet and forgotten all about.

And conviction speaks loudly to me, saying,

“Silly Goose! Baron, don’t be gross, clean that up. You know better than that. Come on.”

 

Just like the voice of a mother disciplining her son out of love.

I remember my mom used to say, “silly goose.”

Then, embarrassed that I’ve allowed the smelly pile of filthy clothes to secretly accumulate, I begin to clean.

 

I have always hated cleaning. I despise it. Especially dirty dishes, but I like a clean house. I guess that in itself is symbolic of why dirty piles of hidden things accumulate in my life.

Honestly a large part of me hates these moments. And even more so, I hate sharing them.

It’s not easy.

It’s strange that the things I talk about with no one, not even myself;

I end up sharing with everyone.

 

And even more strange is that typically the first time I put my thoughts into words they are in the form of a blog post or column for all to read. And the most ironic thing of all is that I learn the most from the things that I write.

 

Writing is my therapy, and many times it takes me reading my own words to listen to anyone. Sometimes the stories I tell impact me the most.

I need it.

So now it’s time to clean. Time to strip down and share some things about me that I’ve only said to a handful of people …

Ever.

Mainly because when I put these feelings or lack thereof into words, they even make me cringe. Because I know they are absolutely true, and absolutely messed up, and the worst part of all is that I don’t care.

 

Well…. until recently, but we will get to that later.

 

This is my dirty laundry.

And it smells really bad.

 

I lack empathy, and grace is often non-existent on my list of character traits.

I feel that loved ones will always care about me more than I care about them. I can walk away from any relationship and not feel bad.

 

My friend Cecily always jokes and says that I have a heart of stone. I just laugh, but it is impossible for me to ever disagree.

 

I store feelings, emotions, and relationships in carefully stacked and neatly organized boxes, ready for deletion when they become what I view as no longer beneficial or can be categorized as baggage.

 

I don’t have one relationship that I feel is not expendable to a point. Some of you who know me are reading this and might be thinking,

“Well obviously he doesn’t mean me. Baron likes me! We’re friends.  I’m not one of the expendable ones.”

 

No. You are.

 

You are expendable. You can be deleted.

 

And yeah that’s messed up. I know that, and I hate it.  But I don’t care really.

And yeah, that’s even more messed up. And with everything I don’t have, I wish I cared more.

But I don’t.

This is the smell that has my house foul. This is my pile of filth.

I view people as beneficial or non-beneficial. And non-beneficial individuals, I view as baggage. Simply dead weight that will only hold me back. So I keep them at a distance and, if needed, delete the little box in which they are stored.

 

And just like that.

 

Poof.

 

Problem solved.

 

I call this “Giving ‘em the axe.”

It’s actually been a very useful skill at times. It’s allowed me to surround myself with only people that are beneficial to my goals.

Like trimming the fat.

 

I know this isn’t a good thing. I know it’s selfish.  But I haven’t really cared. It’s been a formula and way of operating that largely has allowed me to succeed in life.

Deep down I really don’t care if people’s feelings are hurt by me. I don’t care if I offend them. I don’t care about their problems, unless I can help fix them. I don’t care about their opinions.

And I wish I cared more.

But I don’t.

When people who care about me tell me that they miss me, I either simply say, “Thank you,” or I work up the power to lie and tell them that I miss them too. Because that’s the normal thing to say right? I think so.

But truthfully I don’t.

 

I simply don’t miss things.

 

And very rarely do I miss people.

I don’t even know how to explain that, other than the fact that I am so selfishly focused on my own life that I don’t let thoughts of others’ absence occupy my thoughts.

The only person I can truly say I consistently miss is Joyce Batch, my mom.

So yeah, for those of you who read that and thought, “But Baron said he missed me before.”

 

I don’t.

 

I’m sorry. I lied. That’s the truth.

To counteract and balance the knowledge that the way I operate is not ok, I’ve developed a brutal honesty when dealing with people. I do my best not ever to lie, even at the destruction of someone’s emotions.  This allows me to be ok with who I am and how I operate, while at the same time giving individuals fair warning that they will always end up being emotionally hurt more than I ever will. It’s almost like a courtesy warning.

Like caution tape.

In my mind I feel like it makes it a little bit ok if I don’t lie when asked by others if I miss them. But what I’ve learned is that people aren’t very welcoming to the truth when it deals in matters like this, because most people handle emotions emotionally.

 

Because that’s normal I think.

 

But I can only process them logically most of the time, so this always becomes an issue, resulting in unwanted baggage that is not mine.

And this results in deletion.

 

For everything I have an exit strategy.

 

Gosh that sounds awful. I hate it. But I don’t care.

This is the reason I suck at relationships. Because deep down they are never as important to me as they are to the other person. This is the reason I have very few close friends, because the ones I do have must believe that all of what I have explained is true, and then be ok with it …

 

Even though it’s really messed up and selfish of me.

 

That’s why I believe I have the best friends in the world. Because deep down I know I am the worst.

 

And yet they stick around.

 

Honestly lately, I’ve actually desired the feeling of absence, or the true feeling of missing someone or something. I’ve wished that I had something worth not walking away from, even though that thing isn’t necessarily beneficial, and could possibly classify as baggage.

 

Just something that on its own is worth it, even if logically it is not.

 

Something worth not deleting.

Something that is not stored in a box and stacked neatly, with a tag on it that indicates whether it’s beneficial or not.

Something or someone that I trust enough to allow to roam free uncontained.

I’d really like to ditch my exit strategy that I keep for everything and everyone.

But the truth is, I can’t do any of that right now.

 

Because I have to do my laundry first.

And yeah I know, that’s all messed up. It was hard for me to read these words as soon as I typed them. But my fingers keep moving.

I’ve known it for a long time. I know it needs to be fixed.

Largely, it’s one of the reasons I’m happier when I’m single and most peaceful when I am alone.  It’s one of the reasons I am an introvert and enjoy my own company so much. Because when I’m by myself I don’t have to worry about someone else being baggage.

It is the reason I love to write and paint, because both of those things are not constrained to a box.

Those are the things that have escaped.

They are the only things that roam free.

And both are their own exit strategy. They are my therapy.

 

I need them.

They are the few ways that I have ever shown my true feelings and emotions, and the way I am most honest with others and myself.

They are what my soul looks like. And reassurance at times that it is alive and well, when sometimes I become doubtful.

 

The reason this all needs to be addressed is this.

 

I will simply end up being unhappy when it’s all said and done.

I’m not unhappy right now, but it will happen.

I will be successfully unhappy and alone, surrounded by neatly arranged stacks of boxes.

 

And I don’t want that.

 

The issue has been the willingness to acknowledge any of this as a problem, because it has helped me survive up until this point.

And just like that, right when I think I have my house in order; I get an awful whiff of my hidden filth.

 

Fifteen years ago my mom sent me a message. It was carried with care by a special messenger for over a decade, and delivered with perfect timing.

 

Her name is Emily.

And she knew Joyce.

And Joyce changed her life.

 

Come back next week to read how.

 

Blessings,

 

Baron

Posted 5 months ago