Diary 61 (Goodbye Weekend)

Earlier this week, I was texting my editor because I had no idea what I wanted to write about for this week’s column. I was having a terrible case of writer’s block. I forgot how difficult it is to write this thing each week. But honestly, that’s why I agreed to resume doing it again, because it challenges me as a writer.

As I sat down at the coffee shop and opened my computer, nothing came to mind.

I glanced through some of the texts that Terry and I had exchanged earlier in the week about ideas, as I did my best to brainstorm for what I wanted to write about.

But nothing.

No good ideas.

No cool stories.

Just like the blinking line at the beginning of the empty Word document.

And just like it appeared and disappeared, ideas would come but were quickly dismissed into the trash bucket located in my mind, where all of my terrible ideas wait in thought purgatory, plotting their escape at a later date.

Ideas slipped through my fingers as if I were grabbing at smoke.

And on top of that, the dadgum hipsters next to me were talking so loud that I could barely hear my own internal dialogue with myself, which I lean heavily upon when brainstorming.

All I could hear were the two hipsters.

Clutching their tiny little espresso cups angrily, they were engaged in what seemed a heated conversation.

So doing what I do best when I cant think any useful thoughts of my own, I began to people watch, taking in my surroundings while listening in on the conversation of the two skinny-jeaned heroes, wielding their tiny espresso shots of power.

Hipster 1:

“I know, dude. I don’t get it. Do they not like understand that we have families too? I mean its not like I’d be going home for the holidays anyway, but like who wants to have to work during the holidays? I hate my fu***** job.  Total bull****.”

Hipster 2:

“I know, right.  You know to these companies we will always just be employees. They don’t care about us having to work on the holidays. They could care less.”

I chuckled to myself upon hearing the improper use of the phrase, “They could care less.” Because I am pretty sure that their bosses did care quite a bit less than even they imagined.

A whole lot less actually.

“All about the money, dude. They are just trying to make as much money as they can. It’s fu**** up, bro.”

Hipster 1:

“I didn’t go to school to do sh** like this. If I owned a company, I would definitely give employees off during the holidays.”

Hipster 2:

“One day, man. One day.”

I’m not sure what my facial expression was at that exact moment after hearing their dialogue, but I think it would explain what I was feeling better than words ever could.

Thoughts began to flood my mind about the ridiculousness of the two angry hipsters whose work ethic was probably filled less than the tiny cups that held their espresso.

And then it hit me. I knew what I was going to write about.

Thank you, lazy hipsters.

This is my letter of apology for my generation.

 

Dear Generations Before Us,

I issue my sincerest apologies. I am sorry that we lack work ethic. I am sorry that we do not know the difference between having equal rights and having equal things.

I am sorry that we feel entitled to be entitled.

I am sorry that we see hard things as bad things.

I apologize for the bubbles of narcissism that so many of us aimlessly float around in, comfortably complaining.

I’m sorry that when many of us hear the word ‘capitalism,’ we become offended and think it is a political stance.

I am sorry that most of us don’t even know what capitalism is. But it’s not surprising because, granted, it is a hard concept to grasp if you don’t know what ‘work’ is either.

I am sorry that we have attached a negative meaning to the word ‘work,’ while complaining that there are no jobs.

I am sorry that we see a problem and collectively find community in complaining about it instead of fixing it.

I am sorry that we do not understand the beauty and fulfillment of what work should actually be.

I am sorry that we strive to retire as soon as possible instead of pursuing jobs that we never want to stop working.

I am sorry that we have big goals, dreams, and ideas, but we think those will just happen over time. I am sorry that we waste so much time on meaningless things, yet complain that no one invests their time into things that matter.

I’m sorry that we think college or job title validates our worth.

I am sorry that we think college is a shortcut to higher income, and turn away jobs that we view as lesser.

I’m sorry we ignore that the bosses worked their way up to their title. I’m sorry that we think we are qualified for a position based upon a sheet of paper rather than applicable job skills.

I am sorry that we all want to be bosses and not have to work for it.

I am sorry that we do not know the difference between disagreement and discrimination. I am sorry that we do not know how to argue respectfully, and disagree with intelligence.

I am sorry that we do not question things we hear, and cannot explain why we believe what we know without a statistic, article or information that we read without questioning.

I am sorry that we are the most connected yet disconnected generation ever. I am sorry that most of us cannot maintain a face-to-face conversation anymore.

I am sorry that some of us do not know the proper way to shake hands, and have never looked another human in the eyes and said, “You have my word.”

I am sorry we do not know or value history like we should.

I am sorry that we use the constitution as a safety harness to repel down cliffs of ignorance to get as close as possible to delinquency while still being protected.

I am sorry that we think that just because we have the right to speak we always should.

I am sorry that many of us do good to be good, but don’t do good because it is good.

I am sorry that we do not know the difference between needs and wants.

I am sorry that if something doesn’t instantly gratify us, we dislike it.

I am sorry that we do not appreciate time, and misconstrue busyness with productivity.

I am sorry that we hold information to just about anything we want to learn on our cell phones, yet we use lack of education as an excuse for shortcomings.

I am sorry that we struggle to know the difference between information, knowledge, intelligence and wisdom, and struggle even more with knowing when to apply any of the four.

I am sorry that we cannot recognize or appreciate quality things over quick things.

I am sorry that we do not know how to get punched in the mouth, spit out some blood, punch back, then shake hands and move on regardless of victory.

I am sorry that we camouflage our softness in a cozy blanket of political correctness.

I am sorry that we reciprocate fear caused from being misinformed with hate.

I am sorry that we simply are misinformed. There is no excuse for that.

I’m sorry that we don’t acknowledge that there are, have been, and always will be bullies in the world. I’m sorry that we are not preparing ourselves for that truth instead we waste energy on changing the bullies that ultimately don’t, or may never care.

I am sorry that ‘sticks and stones’ no longer applies.

I am sorry that our skin is not tough, and we do not appreciate scars.

I am sorry that we want a utopia, but only as long as it is within our direct breadth of contact confined to the bubble of narcissism in which we live.

I am sorry that we strive to change others more than we do ourselves.

I’m sorry that we cry out for morality, while joking about deaths of others on social media.

I am sorry that we are so sensitive yet desensitized.

I am sorry that we are rocks protected by eggshells.

I’m sorry that we take more pictures of ourselves, than we do of our families and loved ones.

I am sorry we buy gifts instead of giving time.

I am sorry that yes sir, no sir, yes ma’am, no ma’am, please and thank you are slowly fading away.

I’m sorry that the phrase YOLO was ever created.

I am sorry that we don’t live lives that will be enjoyed more by others once we are gone, than they are by us right now.

I am sorry that we think more about life than we do death, but live lives that cause us to die more than we live.

I am sorry that we simply live for the weekend while letting everyone know how much we hate Mondays, instead of doing something that makes it easy to say goodbye to the weekend for good.

I am sorry that we complain about not having more days off.

We truly have done nothing to earn them.

For all these things I apologize.

I will do my part to help change them.

Sincerely,

A concerned Millennial

 

 

To my fellow occupants of this world and life travelers, we must work to do better.

To my fellow Millennials of this generation, let’s do better.

Work is a gift from God, and work ethic gives us strong enough hands to unwrap our legacy to give away once we are gone.

A new year is quickly approaching and many resolutions will be made.

But for me, I just want to say goodbye to the weekend for good.

I don’t want days off.

I don’t deserve them, but it feels good to know that I don’t really need them either.

 

Blessings,

Baron

 

 

Posted 10 months ago

 

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 11 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 11 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 11 months ago