The Glitter Wall Chronicles

The problem with move-in-ready houses is that they aren’t ever actually move in ready. I’ve learned that extensively over the past week and a half. There are always things to do, walls to decorate, personal touches to put throughout the house, noises to understand, keys to change, door codes to coordinate, and multiple times to wonder what on earth the previous tenants were doing.

Oh and the glitter wall, of course.

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My wife and I were blessed to purchase our first home this month. We were so excited to find a house that we considered move in ready that was in our price range, and we have continually fallen in love with our house. After three years in a one bedroom apartment (and nearly 23 years of living with roommates before that, on a scale of awesome to siblings), we were so excited to have the opportunity to be in separate rooms inside of the same dwelling. It has been wonderful and eerie and fulfilling and challenging and exciting and terrifying and all of everything. For the foreseeable future, this is where we will be making our memories, dreaming of infinite possibilities, and enacting many of them.

Now’s there finally a setting for those stories.

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I don’t know about you, but I think I dozed off during that lesson where I learned, “Measure twice, cut once.” I had to have fallen asleep, because that’s only part of the saying. I learned the other half this week:
“Measure Twice, Cut once, Find the stud at least 6 times, forget where the stud is because you are going to miss drilling into the stud anyways, don’t forget which one of your pencil marks are actually the pencil marks you want to use, GOSH DANG IT MY DRILL ISN’T POWERFUL ENOUGH TO DRILL A SCREW INTO THIS STUD SO I HAVE TO DO IT BY HAND, are you sure you should be doing this, now I can’t feel my hand, hi honey, yeah I tried to do all the projects you wanted me today because at some point during the night all of my useless knowledge that was in my brain miraculously converted into useful house project knowledge, DON’T OPEN THE DOOR TO THE GLITTER WALL no, I don’t quite understand either, measure a third time just to make sure because your first measure gave you a crooked result, it really doesn’t matter because I’m not really a handyman anyways ”

That saying makes way more sense to me than just measure twice, cut once.

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It’s been a week. Week one. I’m already looking forward to just sitting in and enjoying the house with no tasks to accomplish. From what I’ve heard, those days don’t really come around all that often. I hope they do. Even if they don’t, it’s still worth it.

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Let’s talk about the glitter wall. Man this house is great right? We see the pictures online, we take a visit to the house, and we look in the room that has this odd coloring. It’s pink, but also shiny. A little odd, but no big deal. It never comes up as a hindrance to us buying the house, and then we arrive for our final walk through and touch the wall, and begin to realize exactly what we are up against. Simply pressing your hand to the wall yields a fistful of glitter. Bright pink glitter. Bright pink glitter on a bright pink wall. We start noticing the glitter deposits around the house, in the carpet, in the closets, on the front door. We need a new name for exactly what we are up against, so we start using the simple moniker: the glitter wall.

Here’s the glitter wall:


Now I should point out, this is not the original picture of us walking into the house. This is a picture after rough estimate of 20 man-hours put in for the specific purpose of removing the glitter from the wall. And before you ask, we’ve done everything: scrape, sand, wet, electric sander, everything.

No this glitter wall has been the bane of our existence for the first ten days of the house.

So last Sunday, after all our furniture was moved in, after our families and friends had left, after we finally took a sigh of relief, we closed the door that led to the glitter wall.

It’s been closed for about 10 days.

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I’ve been thinking a lot about that closed door in the last ten days. For anyone coming to our house, our house looks great. We show them our family room, our kitchen, the wonderfully decorated guest bedroom, the entry way, we give them the grand tour.

We don’t open the door to the glitter wall, if we can help it. We don’t want to get into that conversation.

And the thought that keeps running through my head: we aren’t all that different from the glitter wall.

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I’ve grown up in the age of social media. I love social media. I love being able to keep up with friends, relatives, and even the people that I’ve encountered in strange and hilarious ways.

I also know that social media scrubs all portions of reality from our perceptions of who we, and each other, are actually.

I’m guilty of this so much. My last few Instagram posts include a picture of a new house, my completed murder mystery party, my wife and I attending Hamilton, the completion of my master’s program, and many more glimmers of highlights. What my Instagram page doesn’t show is a brutal amount of stress over the last couple of months, a weekly existential dread about what I am supposed to be doing with my life, a fender bender, daily concerns about my friends, my family, and myself.

I’ve just shut the door to the glitter wall and showed everyone the nicely decorated guest bedroom instead.

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Mel and I are still debating exactly what to do with the glitter wall. The leader in the clubhouse is to put up wood paneling (or shiplap for your Gaines’s fans). A very close second is a sledgehammer. We’ve just decided we can’t stand to have it anymore. We have so many dreams for what that room can be, and we can’t wait to institute it. An office now, for sure, perhaps a nursery down the road, then maybe a nice sitting room? The possibilities are endless. But none of that can happen if we sit and keep the door to the glitter wall closed. We have to open the door.
We have to do the work getting the glitter out into real life.
We have to do what’s necessary to clean it all up.

We have to create something out of the mess that we’ve been hiding.
We have to.
We have to.

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I can promise you one thing. I’m still going to be terrible at showing my glitter wall. I don’t want you to see it, I don’t want Mel to see it, I don’t want to see it myself.
I also really don’t want to show you any of the glitter walls in my life either.  I don’t want you to see it, I don’t want Mel to see it, I don’t want to see it myself.

But we have to.
Our house can’t stand up without the glitter wall. It needs it to stand at the moment. It’s part of it.

It’s so daunting to know that we are going to have to do something with the glitter wall. Man, every day I just wish the glitter would be gone. How great would it be to sit in that room and work on everything that I need to get done without having the glints of pink echoing across the room, the evidence of my time in that room following me wherever I go. I wish it would just go away.

But it won’t unless I open the door.

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So here’s the glitter wall. Get a laugh at it, enjoy it while it lasts, and remember that it is there. Our house, that we have affectionately named Cornerstone contains a glitter wall. If our house is named correctly, and we certainly believe it is, we have to. “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens,[d] but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,  built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.”

The whole structure, not just the pretty, Instagram worthy, prayers of praise, gotta look good for everyone else, keep up with the Jones’s, check out my abs, look at the awesome job I did parts.

The whole structure.

Including the glitter wall.

adam

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The Certainty of Gravity

He blinked. His eyes immediately dropped to the ground below. He had no recollection of the path in front of him. Odd, he thought, he didn’t have much recollection of anything.

He began walking.

Of course he began walking. Why wouldn’t he begin walking?

His feet, snow white and crisp on the ground, danced across the umber path. Each step brought him one step closer to an answer of a question he didn’t know he’d asked.

The canyon stood in front of him. The canyon? Is that what it’s called? How did he know that? He entered the clearing in front of him, and stood, facing only the certainty of gravity. The wind began whispering into his ear.

Hello my child said the wind.

Hello.

My child, it’s time to fly.

With no hesitation, he took off, steps thundering through the heart of the land in front of him. Roots, tangled, were no match for the quickness of his stride, the assumed agility appearing innate. Reaching the end of the canyon, he jumped. Laughter erupted from his mouth. He flew, just like he always knew he would.

******

He blinked. It’s been a while since he had seen this path. The soft folds of childish fickleness had fallen from the skin of his feet. Callousness naturally fell into place, jaded blemishes of heart and body dominating every inch of what used to be so pure. He was strong, yes, but now he knew the pain, the weight, the cost of each step he took.

Once again, he found himself facing the certainty of gravity, the canyon erupting in his sight. As he neared the clearing above the canyon, the wind began whispering once again.

Hello my son said the wind.

Hello.

My son, it’s time to fly.

He took a look down at his feet, calculating the speed he could run, certain that he could once again launch himself into the firmament. He took off, steps echoing briskly into the night. The roots, so deftly, so swiftly, so nimbly danced around before were not so easily evaded. One by one, the roots reached up from their rot, beginning their dance of pain, of instability, of volatility. Bracing themselves around his ankles, he found himself sluggish, creaking slowly to a stop. With a roar of determination, the fire in his chest gushed forward, his will proving too strong for the permanence of any root. Singed ends of that pain fell away. He would deal with the scratches and gouges later. He reached the face of the canyon, and he jumped. A smile passed slightly across his face, usurped by the grimace of determination.
He flew, because of course he would.

*********

He blinked, the sand of sleep and time eroding from his eyes. It’s been a while since he had seen this path. His skin, no longer taught, reminded him of the pain of the world with each staggered step. Blood gently kissed the earth that he trod along. He was in no hurry. He knew exactly where this path led. He paced his way, drinking the sounds of the trees, hearing the gasps of the earth, tasting the notes of the air. His feet weren’t fast anymore. Agility had left long ago. He paused, sometimes for minutes, to catch both his breath and these moments.

Once again, he found himself facing the canyon.
Facing the certainty of gravity.

He reached the clearing. The wind started its whisper.

Hello my friend said the wind.

Hello.

My friend, it’s time to fly.

He did not move. Rather, he reached down to touch his feet. Sinking to his knee, he began moving his hands slowly across the memories affixed in scars. He remembered the way forward, of course, but he also remembered the pain. The roots reaching up to grab and pull and hold and prevent.

He rose, and began tottering forward. The dance of his feet had long left him, and once again, he found the roots of the Earth rise to meet him. He cried out in pain, but could not jettison the roots that quickly encompassed his feet. He reached into the pit of his stomach hoping to find the reserves of fire that he knew had faded long ago. He fell to his hands, striving forward, only upsetting the roots. Quickly, his hands became bound as well. Still he yearned forward, for the canyon, for flight.

He couldn’t.

He stopped, encompassed by the roots that he thought he had conquered long ago. A guttural roar escaped from his throat, his mouth, his soul. Is this where he would die? The roaring continued until the roots had abducted even the breath in his lungs.

A solitary tear collapsed from his face towards the ground.

As it fell, the wind gently rose and pushed the tear back to a sole sector of ground that remained uninhibited by the roots. From behind him, he could hear the wind grow, the whisper to a breeze, to a bluster, to a squall, to a roar. The roots fell trembling to their holes of the earth, fearful of the unholy anger the wind was about to unleash. He could feel the tension of the trees vacate, the shackles unfastening, the slave cut free.
He stood up, and tried to face his emancipator. The wind would have none of it, and pushed him back to the floor, the earth’s only cushion was the fear in his body. He stood again, and the wind answered his pleas with returning him to where he was from, his dust mingling with the dust whipped up by the coursing wind.

He looked over his shoulder, and saw the canyon.

The certainty of gravity.

He knew that his death was coming, the ledge of the canyon would arrive long before he could will himself to fly. He stood again, seeking something, anything to brace himself from the onslaught of the wind’s power. For a third time, the wind blew him over, and then, the ledge was there. Grasping with all his strength, his power, his blood, his body, his past, his future, his fears, his failures, his joy, his sadness, his being, he held on to the ledge.

With a shriek, the wind fell silent.

With the faintest revelation of security, he sighed. He held onto the ledge searching for his misplaced breath.

He knew shouting for help was futile. Yet, he cried out again and again until he was merely sobbing. It had been dark when he departed, and he was no closer to finding his way home. His body, his mind, his soul was no longer young, and soon it would be time to fall. All night, he held on to the ledge, waiting, waiting, waiting.

A lifetime later, he looked up. He knew he still faced the certainty of gravity, but he looked to the east. The first trickles of sunlight fell onto the drought of his eyes. As he smiled, he heard the voice of his friend the wind, tickling his ear once again.

Hello my old friend said the wind.

You almost killed me! You knew I couldn’t handle the power that you displayed so clearly.

My old friend, did you forget that I’m the reason you fly in the first place?

And with a final gasp, the wind swelled, and he lost his grasp on the ledge.

But instead of falling, he flew.

He cried tears of joy, because he knew that he could not would not should not fly.

Yet here he was, flying once again.

********

He blinked

 

 

 

 

 

 

adam

 

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Reside

A dear friend of mine moved into his new house this weekend.

Two days ago, he lived in an apartment. Now, he owns real estate.

It’s amazing to me. The concept of home can shift so wildly, and so quickly.  You reside here, it’s your home. Something changes within you, and now you reside there. Now you have a new home.
For my 25 year old mind, that is still an incredible truth to comprehend.

I look around my wonderful, beautiful apartment, where I have grown and lived and loved and changed, and I wonder when that concept of home will switch for me.

 
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For the past month or so, the word “Reside” has echoed around the chambers of my mind, repeatedly kicked along by subconscious. I don’t know if it is merely a side element of asking the questions like, “Should we start looking for a house?” “Why don’t we live in a house?” “Can we buy a house?” “Why aren’t we buying a house?”

As if a house can be purchased off a value menu.

Regardless, residing holds a paramount place in my psyche at the moment.

This moment as well.

And this one.

Perhaps it sits in more than just a moment.
Perhaps it is the moment.

 

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Over the past few days, I have been listening to Ben Rector on repeat. Since I was introduced to him in college by some dear friends, I have always found a comforting place in his music. For some reason, Ben Rector’s music doesn’t always evoke happiness, nor sadness, nor excitement (although individual songs certainly tap into those emotions).  I’ve long been confused about my own emotional response to Ben Rector. Never a bad response, just an unidentified one.
For someone that knows and craves the power of understanding words, an unidentified emotion has the potential of festering deep inside- a place that I don’t realize how much of my consciousness is seeking an answer until I find it. When I find it, it’s never a door that I have opened, a fork in the path that I have chosen, or a decision to exit off of the road. No, my realizations typically look like a lost tourist who staggers into a restaurant off of the main road with no menus, and proceeds to eat the best meal of his life.

Stumbling back into his songs this week, I found the word, drawing me closer and closer.  Nostalgia.
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Your mind tends to wander while you are pulling up staples that held a long stained carpet. Someone, long ago (long long ago judging by the sheer amount of dust along the floorboard), installed this carpet, ready to start the brand new life they would live in this room. I can’t imagine the excitement they felt as they walked into that room for the first time. Barefoot in the lush carpet, soaking in the softness. They weren’t thinking about the stains that were to come. They were just residing in the moment.

There wasn’t another moment in that moment.

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I have to keep a very close eye on my mental health. I think that if I was honest with myself, I struggled with some levels of depression in high school and college, and anxiety can still rear its ugly head. Usually it happens in the quietest moments, where the only gladiators the defenders of my thoughts encounter is themselves. How quickly my brain can whip up negative emotions- passionately defeating the positivity I strive to live my life with.

For most of my life, my way to defeat my thoughts is to numb them- freezing them with anything I can get my hands on: busyness, video games, music, books, fantasy worlds where I can immerse myself into ignoring the immense idiosyncrasies of irritants that run rampant in those moments. The numbing works, of course, but the thaw comes. It always comes.

The last place I want to be is in my head, and for some reason, that’s the usual place that I run.

Why do I keep trying to reside in myself?

 
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Nostalgia is an interesting word for me. Feelings constantly stir within me (even if I haven’t triangulated their exact purpose nor direction), but they remain fleeting.

Nostalgia is no exception. I’ll feel nostalgia, and I can clearly identify that feeling.

But when I take a shovel to that emotion, digging in to the where and why and how, I often find myself shoveling air, a hole that was already dug, a pit with no further realization at the bottom.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved the moments that passed me by. I have lived a wonderful life, and there are moments that are fully deserving of the power I instilled to them.

Yet, there I am, feeling nostalgia while listening to Ben Rector.
“Can you take me back when we were just kids
Who weren’t scared of getting older?
‘Cause no one knows you like they know you
And no one probably ever will
You can grow up, make new ones
But the truth is
That we grow up, then wish we could go back then
There’s nothing like old friends
‘Cause you can’t make old friends”

And I feel that nostalgia and I so desperately want to think of all of those nights with old friends. I want to reside in those moments and just sit there in the warm bask of those dopamine stuffed memories.

But if I’m honest, there aren’t that many nights.  There aren’t that many old friends either.

 

____________________________

 

I reside in solace most of the time- Growing up, and now. Oh there’s other people around, sure, but often times my brain tricks me into blending them into the background.

Being alive means not residing in myself.

But usually, I love residing in myself.

 
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It’s funny, sometimes I think of what table I will sit at at my high school reunions. I know all of those people, sure, but did they know me? Did they really know all of me? I was a jock nerd suck-up goody-two-shoes religious theater dork that for some reason thought that the best way to make friends was to show up in their lives and reside there just for a moment.

Those tables will all exist at my high school reunion, and my college reunion, and now.

I’ll figure out where to sit one day.

____________________________

 

So here’s the thing:
I think the word reside has a ton of power.

Residing physically- the physical process of being somewhere. Looking around seeing the sun shining through the windows, and the stains on the floor and knowing that you can’t reside anywhere if you choose to ignore either one.

Residing emotionally- the emotional process of being somewhere. Looking around in your hear to see the sun shining and the stains and knowing that you can’t reside anywhere if you choose to ignore either one.

And then there’s this other one, that I so often forget.

Residing spiritually.

 
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To be honest, there’s times where I question how on earth I’m lucky enough to reside where I am currently: a job, a beautiful, incredible, fantastic wife, money in a bank account, people who enjoy being around me.
There are near identical times that I question the exact same things:
Why do I have this job instead of another? Why am I not the husband I want to be? Why don’t I take a job that makes more money? Why don’t I get wrapped up in those around me?

Those are two sides of the same coin in my heart.

It’s where I have been most of my life.
I just need to realize when the coin is face down.
And that’s hard sometimes.
Sometimes I don’t realize that the coin is face down until after it has flipped over.
And that’s ok.

 
_____________________________

 

And then I come back to the ultimate question.
Where do I reside?

See I read Galatians 2:20

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

I try to live each day as to not fail that test. If that’s the case, then I know something incredible. Christ resides in me.

It’s a transformative truth.
It changes everything.
It doesn’t matter where I reside.
The moments of nostalgia don’t matter.
The moments of anxiety don’t matter.
My address doesn’t matter.
Each individual moment doesn’t matter.
It’s a residence for eternity.
He doesn’t leave.
He doesn’t change.
Residence is permanent.

 
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“I said I’ve been better, I’ve been worse
I have loved a pretty girl
I’ve seen a couple places that I never thought I’d see
I’ve walked into harder times, I’ve walked out the other side
It seems like you end up getting what you need
Yeah, looking down from 30,000 feet
Life’s been good to me
Good to me”

Life’s been pretty good to me.

I just have to remember which reside is most important.

 

 

 

 

adam

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I used to say good morning

I used to say good morning.

 

I used to say good morning.
It was an automatic impulse.
Why on earth wouldn’t I say good morning? It was a good morning.

So I said good morning.

And then, for some reason, I didn’t.

I didn’t notice it as first. It slipped away suddenly, a lapse, a gasp, a grasp out of reach.

I looked up one morning, and I noticed the words were absent from my lips. When was the last time that I said it? Good morning? Why couldn’t I remember the last time that I said good morning?

 

So I started saying it again.
But it was always second.

Good morning Adam!

good morning.

Good morning Adam!

good morning.

The words weren’t natural anymore. They had to be drawn out, primed and pumped before they bubbled to the surface.

Before they were so free. I accessed them with such ease. Such fluidity.

Words had always come easy to me. Those words had come so easily to me.

Good morning Adam!

good morning.

Why were they so hard? I just had to cough them out. I just had to lead. I just had to say something anything.

 

Good morning Adam!

good morning.

 

Good morning Adam!

good morning.

 

It took me a while to realize.

It wasn’t the words that were missing.

It was the meaning.

 

Good morning Adam!
Good morning!

The meaning.

Good morning Adam!
Good morning!

I think so often I get caught in my own words. Choking down the choruses of complaints that I see flittering through my head.

So often I find myself sinking down into the recesses of my mind, slinking in to the start of my morning.

And I continually come to the same realization.

I think the reason, no the season of my inability to say good morning, is that I’ve decided that my ideas, my thoughts, my mind is so much more important than anyone else. What a ridiculous thought. How dare I consider that so? How dare I consider that what’s happening in my mind is more important than what’s happening in anyone eles’s life?

I think the reason I can’t say good morning is because I have the hubris to assume that if I’m distracted, disappointed, dismayed, deficient, dejected, or just plain distracted, others must be too.

I think the reason I can’t say good morning is because I can’t for a second get out of my own tired, stressed, and confused head to help brighten someone else’s day, just for a moment.

 

Good morning Adam!

Good morning!

Some days it’s hard to say good morning. Some weeks it’s hard to say good morning. Some seasons it’s hard to say good morning.

 

And those are the days that I need to say good morning all the same.

So I’m sorry.

I’m learning.

I’m leaning in.

And I’m letting go.
Good morning!

good morning

 

 

 

adam

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A Dirty Mirror

This past week, I went to my brother’s collegiate graduation. It was an incredible time to honor my brother, one of the smartest people I know. I watched as the graduates filed in, smiles on their faces, their shoulders feeling as light as they have in four years, hugging each other, and so excited for their next step.

I sat there in the crowd, reflecting on my undergraduate graduation just three short years ago. I remember that day well. The friends, the hugs, the speaker, the sun, the handshakes, and the realization that I made it. I arrived at the end of a journey that I had worked so hard for. I was stepping into the world that was ready for me, and I was ready for it.

But last week, at my brother’s graduation, I didn’t feel any of those feelings anymore. I watched all of these brilliant graduates, and inside, I felt my heart churning. I saw my reflection in these graduates, and to be honest, I didn’t like what I saw.  A fun house mirror, distorting and changing the perspective of what I had done the past few years.

I left that graduation filled with anxiety. Driving home afterwards, I couldn’t get my head on straight.  Had I accomplished anything? Was it worth it? Why? What did I have to show for the last three years?

Here’s the thing, I think I live most of my life looking at a dirty mirror. Each day, I look at my reflection, but the smudges on the mirror change every aspect of how I perceive my past, my  future, and who I am.

Smudge- Medical school? No.

Smudge- A nice suit and tie?

Smudge- Father?

Smudge- Youth Director?

Smudge- Medical school? No.

Smudge- Am I who I want to be?

Smudge- Teacher? Speech coach?

Smudge- Am I loving my wife enough?

Smudge- Medical school?

Smudge- Will I leave an impact?

Smudge- I have no idea what I am doing.

 

I don’t know how else to describe it. When I stand in front of the mirror in my head, it is covered in these smudges. Every day, depending on the angle that I look at my mirror with, I see my reflection through a different smudge. It’s hard to get an accurate depiction of myself when my mirror is just so dirty.

 

I wake up each day, and I brush my teeth, comb my hair, and I look at my mirror, and I have no idea what smudge is going to alter my reflection. I don’t realize it until much later, until I am in a panic in my head, asking the questions that I wouldn’t dare vocalize.

Now logically, I know these smudges aren’t real life. I know that I do a lot, perhaps too much. But I’ve been living with my mirror long enough where it is hard to tell the difference between what is glass and what is dirt and grime. My mirror is always there. I can’t see myself without it.

The day after my brother’s graduation, I ended up in a state park. I hiked around for several hours with new friends and old. There was no rat race, only the race of my heartbeat reminded me of the time I have missed at the gym. There was no breath of inspiration needed, just the breath that inspired my body to move one more time. There were no career steps, just cautious steps around each and every rock and log. There was no self-imposed ceiling, just air and sky as long as I can see.

I left my time at that state park, and drove home in silence, going 40 in a 55. I watched the deer mosey around the side of the road, and the sun wave its last goodbyes to the clouds. I rolled down my windows, and I let the crisp air caress my cheeks. I hadn’t taken the time to rinse off after the hike, and I looked at my hands: covered in mud, filth and muck.

In my mind, I went to my mirror and placed my soiled hands on the reflection of my face. Weathered, worn, tired. I stood there for a long time, my hands on my mirror, starting into my own eyes.

Finally, I wiped my hands across the glass as violently as I could.

It’s amazing how quickly the smudges disappeared.

For the first time in a while, I looked at my mirror, and I didn’t see myself through a smudge.

 
It was just me.

 

 

Smiling.

 

 

 

adam

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We Regret to Inform You

Long ago, I decided that my life verse was going to be 2 Corinthians 12:9-10. “But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in your weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

I can’t read that verse, see its impact on my life, and not share the following.

Dear Adam, After conducting a thorough review of your application, we regret to inform…..

For the 23rd, and almost assuredly last, time, I have been rejected from medical school.
Before we go any further, a few answers to questions:

1) No Dad, I’m not quite sure what I am going to do next.

“I’m going to be a doctor when I grow up.” I’ve been saying that sentence for around 8 years.

I still haven’t been able to quite spit out that sentence with the word “not” put into it. It feels funny in my mouth, like a taste bud that decided every word was going to taste poisonous.
It’s weird, because deciding that I wanted to become a doctor meant pushing out virtually every other career possibility from my mind. When you have a mental option of not being a doctor, it is a lot harder to pull your third all-nighter in a row to study for organic chemistry.
But now, I am back to square one.
So, no, I don’t know what I am going to do next, but I will do something. I promise you that.

2) No Mom, Northwestern wasn’t a waste even though I didn’t get into medical school.

I have been incredibly blessed that most things in life have come easy to me. I have been able to accomplish virtually everything that I have set my mind to, including attending and graduating from what turned out to be my dream school. But that doesn’t mean that everything was a dream at Northwestern.
A constant question for myself when I was studying was, “Is this worth it?” Was it worth it to be slaving away for B’s, when maybe I could have gone to a less rigorous school and been able to maybe set the curve for once? For consolation, I turned to the stats. 78% of students with my GPA from Northwestern get into medical school. Over 95% of students with my MCAT score get into Medical school. Even if I wasn’t perfect, I would still be ok. Medical school was still out there for Northwestern students just like me.

Until it wasn’t.
So, your question is a logical one. Was attending Northwestern worth it?

Absolutely.

See I might not be matriculating into medical school like I dreamed, but I gained things from Northwestern that I could not have even dreamed.
Friends, both near and far, that I know would drop everything for me, friends who are quite literally changing the world as we speak, no matter their age.
An education that taught me how to open my own eyes, and see the world in a brand new light; an education that would inspire me and shift me into brand new places and thoughts.
Mentors, coaches, and friends that inspired me to tell stories and help others tell their stories, something that still warms my heart as the coach of a high school speech team.
Life.

I might have gotten better grades with less effort at a school that wasn’t Northwestern, but I know from the bottom of my heart that I wouldn’t be who I am without Northwestern.

Even if I’m not preparing to don a white coat, I think I am exactly who I want to be, and I am so incredibly blessed that I can say that.

3) Yes, Adam, you’ll be ok.

I think the most important part of this is the realization that I will be ok. No, I don’t know what my next step is, yes I am frustrated, but I’m going to be ok. It will take me a while, but I’ll be ok.
It might involve some tough choices, but I’ll be ok. I might think that a doctor is the only perfect profession for me, but I’ll be ok. Seeing friends in med school is going to hurt for a while, but I’ll be ok.

I’ll be ok.
I’ll be ok.
I’ll be ok.

That is the most important thing.

I always felt called to be a doctor because I loved pursuing health, solving problems, and relating to people through effective communication. Personally, I think those things done well make an incredible physician, and I was so excited to do them.

Hearing the news that I won’t get the chance to prove that hurts. It does. But I am called to rejoice in my hardships, my trials, my weaknesses, and so I will.

Rejoice!
There’s certainly one thing that warms my heart.

Each year, we receive thousands of applications from talented individuals just like you.

Every rejection letter that I received had some version of that sentence.  That means that we are going to have some absolutely incredible physicians coming through the pipeline as those applicants move towards their practices-physicians that care, physicians that want to improve health at every turn, and physicians who are going to start changing how our health care looks from person to person.  I want the best possible physician to greet every patient that walks through their door, and based on that sentence in every single rejection letter I received, we very well might have a future where that is the case.
I think I would have been an incredible physician. I’m hoping that the medical schools I applied to thought the same. I am so incredibly encouraged that they all found people who fit the bill better than me.
So, I get to find the next thing I will be incredible at. I’m hoping I can find what makes Christ’s power most perfect through me. It will be a journey, but I’m ready.

Let’s go.
adam

 

 

P.S. I better not hear anything about a physician shortage at any point in the next 50 years or so 🙂

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The Storyteller’s Tapestry

The Storyteller’s tapestry hangs the darkest corner of his study. Each day, at exactly 8:52 in the morning, the storyteller enters his study, and places his coffee on the rickety table that sits next to his favorite chair. For eight minutes, he sits in his chair and stares at his tapestry.  At exactly 9, he stands from his chair, and turns to his desk, pristine, precise, and pure. He lays his journal in the center of the desk, takes out a pen, and writes what he sees.

What stories he creates. Stories of heroes and heroines, monsters and magicians, lads and lasses, life and death, and of course, a few men just like himself.
All of these stories come from his eight minutes of inspection.

By this point, he knows the tapestry. He has looked at this tapestry every morning for eight minutes for his entire life. The tapestry hasn’t changed, except for the few fringes at the edges that indicate the passage of time, fading slowly into the darkness of the room.

Oh he knows the tapestry well.

Very well.

And that is perhaps what made the first Tuesday of August so memorable.

 

On this particular morning, the storyteller woke and brewed his coffee. A sip of his life-giving liquid warmed his heart and prepared him for his journey. A quick glance at the clock told him that he still had three minutes to reach the door of his study, ample time his body to accomplish its only task of the day. Slowly, he made his way up the stairs, clutching his lower back as it creaked and cracked like the stairs beneath him. The storyteller was not a young man anymore, and the climb to his study seemed more taxing every day. His breathing quickened, pulse raced, but finally, he reached the summit. Turning to the left, he reached for the door of his study. For 52 years, he had reached his hand out in the exact same way. His last step landed his left hand 19 inches from the doorknob, easily within reach of his lanky, gaunt frame.  This morning he reached out and felt only air.

Startled, the man’s head whirled to look at his left hand. A quick glance at his wrist showed him that it was currently 8:52, but the doorknob wasn’t in his hand. Slowly, he turned to face an open door. Small but steady alarms began to sound in his head, for each day, at exactly 4:57, he rose from his desk, and sauntered out of his door, arriving in his foyer precisely at 5. Each day, he ensured the door closed behind him, the cool touch of brass reminded him to keep his work and his life separate. He knew the door was closed yesterday. He was sure of it.

Or maybe it wasn’t. Maybe he was losing it. It had been a particularly long week. His mind was beginning to flutter about, the laser focus that had defined him for so many years was finally beginning to waver.

Slowly, he walked into the room.

His watched turned to 8:53.

The moment he entered his study, his eyes immediately flittered to the tapestry. Though it hung in the darkest corner of his study, he could see it immediately. Scarcely able to believe his eyes, his shuffled towards the tapestry and stood silently in front of it, the tapestry fluttering in breezy breath.
There- the stitch– 1741ST from the top and 689 from the left-was sticking ever so slightly out of the tapestry.

The man recoiled from the tapestry, pulse quickening, pressures rising, eyes dilating, looking to the source of this travesty. He took several long breaths in an attempt to center himself, and collapsed in his favorite chair. How could this have happened? He lived by himself, on purpose, of course, and his landlord employed an impressive line of doormen trained to subdue any intruder by whatever means necessary. Yet, clearly, the impossible had happened.

The storyteller took another long look at the tapestry. The stitch that had fallen out was in a very particular spot-right in the center of one of the two majestic eyes that called the tapestry their home.  For the past 52 years, the storyteller had been looking into those eyes. For the past 32 years, he had been taking the stories he saw in those eyes and woven them into stories.
For the past 52 years, he had been making those stories in those eyes come alive.
For the past 52 years, the tapestry has made him come alive.

But now, this morning, he started to feel a small piece of that life leave.
A quick glance at his watch showed him that it was now 9:00. Ready or not, it was time to work.

He sat at his desk, pulled on his pen, and willed his journal to become the genesis of new worlds. This morning, however, was different. Rather than the words that would normally spill out of his consciousness, he could only trace two words, over and over: “It’s Time.” Hours passed, his hands pressing further and further into the page until the words were scratching the immaculate desk underneath. Finally, with the last ounce of strength in his arm, he pushed himself up from the desk. He had to hold his shaking hand in order to read his watch face. It was 4:57. Oddly enough, this made his hand stop trembling.
He picked up his now cold cup of coffee and turned to the tapestry. With a heavy sigh, he placed his left hand on the cloth, and slowly traced his memories- the streaks of yellow that inspired the stories of heroines, the greens that created monsters, the reds that forged lads, the whites that formed life, and the black that spawned death. The memories rushed over him, filling his heart with the same warmth that the coffee gave him earlier. With a pause, he hovered over the stitch. 1741 from the top, 689 from the left.  He grasped the stitch with his aching fingers. It was so soft, the stitch, a softness that was only intensified by the knowledge that it was exactly where it was supposed to be.

 

In a well-made tapestry, each stitch perfectly blended with the next. On close inspection, each stitch has no idea what it’s purpose is, running along a track that it will never understand. Yet, to take a step back, the stiches create a beauty and understand that caused tears to well in his eyes. Blinking the water away, he took a deep breath. His watch clicked to the hour.  5 o clock had come.

He closed his eyes, and pulled the stitch. The last thing he heard was a coffee mug crashing into the floor, liberated from its last living connection to the earth.
 

With a start, he opened his eyes. It was dark in the room. Yet, with eyes wide open, he could see a man he didn’t recognize enter the room slowly. He was a young man, not older than 25. The young man sat in a brand new chair, holding a cup of tea. He stared directly into the eyes of the old man.
The young man announced, with words that sounded like honey to the old man, “Today I become a storyteller.” He sat and stared at the old man for a few minutes, and then opened his journal and began to write, hand flowing across the page.

The old man smiled, a single blue thread descending from his wide open eye.

 

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