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Close to the Chest: Why I’m Eventually Moving

I just took one of those stupid, “What National Park Are You?” quizzes that you see on facebook, but almost alway skip over. Today, for some reason, I took it. I was bored sitting in my ice box for a room, and had a few minutes. The quiz asked me more questions than I ever thought possible for an online, meaningless, click-bait quiz. Still, the quiz brought me to an odd realization: It’s been a while since I had a one-on-one with you guys. Really let you inside my head. For an introvert, this is as close as it gets to external processing, ha. Continue reading “Close to the Chest: Why I’m Eventually Moving”

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The Midwest is Still Dreaming

Nate Leslie. To some, that name is just another name you don’t know. To some, it’s a name they’ve heard a few times in relation to his music. To others, Nate Leslie is synonymous with self-produced records and all around guitar wizard. I know Nate as a genuine human being, an incredible father, and an impossibly passionate musician. I’ve never met anyone in my life so completely devoted to music as a whole. Lover of all artists, master of instruments, and a quick study. An underdog hero of the unrecognized artists, Nate features musicians that he really likes whether they are popular or not. Nate is the kind of guy who will use the phrase, “sonically brilliant,” and “my baby just threw up on me,” in the same sentence. He just is. Continue reading “The Midwest is Still Dreaming”

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Beauty in the Flatness

-running
-parking
-watching the sun set and rise
-watching a storm roll in hours away
-farming
-building
-biking
-wind energy loves flatland

As some of you know, I live in a very flat state. Illinois. I’ve lived here all my life and sometimes, the flat gets a bit old. Some would say that it is the flattest state. Well, you’d be close. We’re number two. Florida? Number one. That’s right. I don’t really get it either. Maybe most of it is under water and that makes it pretty flat. Either way, Illinois is still a proverbial coin. Pretty much as flat as the state quarter we’re printed on.

For most of my life, I have resented in some way, the flatness of this great state. Listed above are some of the marvellous things about our flatness. I think that sometimes, we crave the mountains, hills, canyons, or rivers to the point where our own beauty fades into the background. There’s still beauty in the flatness. Being able to place a lawn chair outside on a tepid summer night and watch our sun disappear into the still horizon is a majestic thing. Likewise, being able to have an unhindered view to the start of a day, viewing a burning sun rise in the east…is a gift. In some topography, you have to hike to see the sunset/rise. You have to hike up a hill/or even a mountain in order to get a clear view of the rise/set. Some would say this is the payoff to the hike. Me? I’ll chuck the chair in the backyard and drink to the end of another day.

Granted, I love hiking. Love. Why do you think I enjoyed living in New Zealand so much? Frankly, watching a sunset on a mountaintop sounds glorious, and I have done this. I’m just saying, to you who are in a “normal” topographical environment, there is good here. Just look.

Loads of other things are easier. Parking. Oh man. Try starting your manual drive car on a steep upward incline and tell me that flatness is overrated. Do it. Running. Flatness is AMAZING when you’re training. Sure, inclines are good to add variety maybe, but for me, nothing can beat the constant, even, plateau that midwest roads/sidewalks give you. When running in NZ, I actually tried to find a flat area to run and became disheartened when there were very few in…running distance. Biking. Same thing. I could bike for miles if given a flat straight-away to disappear on. Farming. Architecture. Wind Farms. All these things rely on good, solid, flat ground. Sure you could build on a hill, but I personally wouldn’t trust a house on a cliff. You can also farm on hills, it just makes it more difficult. Irrigation, plowing, collection, etc.

I guess there is a broader lesson in this. We shouldn’t chase what we don’t have. There is beauty where you are. Being content is a serious discipline. Being content requires control. Once you are, you realize that the things around you start to come into focus. Once distant, vanilla objects suddenly are given vibrancy, life, purpose, and color. We are happier. We are less needy. Less wanty.

If you live in Illinois, or Florida…or Kansas for that matter, find the beauty. It’s there, trust me.

#thereislifeafterflatness

PS: If you still can’t hack it, head here. Plenty to do in this flatland.

 

Chicago- Murder Capital U.S.A: What I learned about my City

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When a kid grows up in a city such as Chicago, the kid has the unfortunate opportunity to take for granted of the immense fullness the city has to offer. Everything from the Museums to the parks. Aquariums to the symphony. Navy pier to The Magnificent Mile. Lights in December to bike rides in June. Cubs games, Hawks games, and Bulls games. Food from every country, buildings for miles and miles. From train rides, to bus rides, to subway rides. 5 star restaurants to your favourite dives. That little improv place you found to The Chicago Theater. City life to suburban life. The Air and Water Show to the Taste of Chicago itself….this is a great town, my kind of town. I am proud of my town. And yet, I felt like I barely knew it. This could not have been more true the day I read an article explaining how Chicago has become Murder Capital U.S.A. Continue reading “Chicago- Murder Capital U.S.A: What I learned about my City”

The Chapter Begins, and it is Beautiful

Well after spending a significant amount of time in Michigan, I can confidently say that I am loving it here. I am glad that I am once again living with men I am comfortable calling my brothers. These past few days have been quite incredible. I am transitioning once again into living on my own…so to speak (living outside of my parents house). I am finding jobs to keep me busy while the long term work finalizes. We are also finding another apartment to live in and that is going very well.

It is a very specific, familiar feeling being back in Grand Rapids….like a warm blanket fending off a cold chill. Every street passed and smell taken in is a wave of nostalgia that had remained hidden to keep the pain at bay. Being away from my friends when I moved in 2008 was a painful experience. In order to take away some of the pain and enjoy my move back to Illinois, I had to separate nostalgia from friendship. It wasn’t Calvin College I missed, or even GR necessarily. The thing I missed most was my family that I had made in Michigan.

But now that I am back in GR, living here once again, I can’t help but fall in love with this city all over again. There is so much life, love, and happiness here that can’t be explained. I am not really too sure what it is that makes this place so different from where I grew up, but it is clear and it is true.

I will work very hard in the time that I am here, and I will also relish in every moment that I can before I eventually leave here for my journey to New Zealand. I am excited, even as I write this post, knowing that one day my dream…will become a reality. I have stepped into a brave new world here in Michigan, full of opportunity, joy, peace, and friendship. I cannot see anything bad or painful at the moment, and that is what I need right now. I experienced enough pain last semester…

If you are my friend, and you know me well, then I thank God for you and how you have influenced me. No matter where you are now, or what we have both been through, I will always pray for you and give thanks for the moment when we met, and you blessed my life.