30: Or, Why I’m Not Freaking Out

No. This is not a “30 things I noticed once turning 30,” post, or even a, “God, I’m 30, but I still don’t have babies,” post. It’s definitely not a, “I’m 30 and I feel myself rotting,” post.

I’m turning 30 in a few days. No longer having “twenty” as an identity is a bit odd…now that I’m sitting in this comfortable leather chair and thinking about my greater existence. Haha, turning thirty for me is not as much of a deal as some. If you’re a fan of the TV show Friends, you know what I’m talking about. They devote the entire episode to remembering each of group turning thirty years old. Rachel is freaking out about getting “old,” and they recall their previous milestones at thirty. I just don’t feel the same. I guess I’m similar to my dad in this respect. It’s another year, and you won’t feel much different afterwards. Now, this gets a little less true the closer you get to 40, 50, 60, and 70. As for me, I’m still young, not old.

Truly though, thirty is a prime time to be alive. I’ve had multiple conversations with forty year olds, or older, saying that their thirties were incredible. You are much less concerned with external opinions about yourself, you’ve arrived in a place where you’re working on your career, you’re dating and figuring things out, or you’re married and also figuring things out, haha. Thirty isn’t always, but CAN be an incredible moment in your life, filled with adventure, experience, pushing boundaries, and self discovery. I know that sometimes I entertain the thought that I haven’t done enough before thirty or pushed myself to where I want to be, but when I stop feeding that thought, I realize that I have accomplished much. I have seen much. I have felt much. I have lost much. I realize that reflection on a year passed shouldn’t be a time of regret, but refocused into a time of celebration and appreciation. In other words, you’re still alive, ha. And God willing, you have years ahead of you to go! Take opportunities when they arrive.

In some ways, I understand our obsession with time and how our yearly birthday is just another reminder that we have such little time on this earth, but flip that around if you can. Take a breath. Take a deep breath. Remind yourself of your friends, your family, and those who actually love the real you. Remind yourself of your happiest moments, and the moments that truly tested you. Remember your victories and the times you cried out to God for help. Remember that you are becoming fuller with each late night conversation you have about your vulnerabilities, each bad day you’ve overcome, each new relationship you build, and each regular day that you found some joy in.

This is my first birthday in my new home, with new friends that I’ve made over the last few months. In my dad’s words,

I have full faith that you’ll find friends Eric. You never seem to run out of them, and I don’t really know how you keep up with them all.

I always laugh whenever my dad tells me that. I guess being an introvert, I don’t seem to want to give myself enough credit for being able to meet people and draw them closer into friendship. Still, it’s new. It’s all new. And frankly, I can’t wait for that to wear off. I know one day, I’ll wake up, go about my day, as I have for months, and I’ll say to myself, “Huh, it kind of snuck up on me but none of this feels new any longer.” Given that a year before I turned thirty God told me to stop moving around so much, and then I got a job that I’ve been working towards since I was eighteen years old, and I moved to Colorado with the full intention of staying here for a while…I think this is going to be a year to remember. Now if only I could finish any of my short stories. One step at a time. One coffee shop at a time.

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New Normal

Sometimes taking time away from a busy, hectic life can bring things into perspective in a way you wouldn’t have known unless you had left. Recently I moved to Colorado Springs from Chicago, IL. With that move comes a lot of packing, saying goodbye, and trying to figure out what your new life means in this new mountainous place. I think for me, there was equal parts excitement of the new adventure and then apprehension for choosing something so new. Continue reading “New Normal”

The Fear of The Oxbow Lake

What if I come back and I am just another guy? What if I return and I am just a reminder of a time that existed three years ago, but is now irrelevant and forgotten? What happens when I can’t fit into a puzzle I am no longer a piece to?

For someone fairly confident about the decision to come back to his home country, I am still only human. I think one would expect questions like the ones listed above to careen through my mind at blistering speeds. Questions that cause damage to my calm and to my surety. As if there wasn’t enough to think about before leaving, I can throw on a heaping pile of insecurity about the place I called home for most of my life.

Continue reading “The Fear of The Oxbow Lake”

An Old Flame

Sometimes in life, you stumble on something that makes you stop, think, and change. Those “things” in life can be HUGE, or they can be surprisingly small. This morning, after my exceptionally loud alarm reminded me to go for a run, I, for some reason, was drawn to the bottom of my desk drawer. There, underneath my pens, books, and other miscellaneous things, rested a very old notebook. This notebook was originally a notebook I used the first year at Aurora University, the year after I transferred out of Calvin College. Most of my Michigan friends know how hard that was for me. In this notebook, I wrote notes for a class I was taking; the subject of which has escaped my mind. Anyway, the notebook was faded, torn, and wrinkled. The back cardboard had been torn off, leaving the back page exposed to the elements. As I picked it up, I noticed something written on the back page. This is what was written:

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All of a sudden, I remember where I was when I wrote this. I was on my bed, and I remember the feeling in my chest now, even as I write this sentence. The feeling was filled with new-found passion and joy. I wrote this 4 years ago, because of something I started to do inside this photo1notebook. I started a project. I began to sift through the Bible thatphoto2 I had owned since coming to know Christ when I was 13 (some of you know this as the Duck-tape Bible), and I searched for all the verses I highlighted over the years that spoke specifically to our relationship with God. This was a challenge of sorts because it meant combing through everything I have read, and reading new pieces that I had yet to discover.

The process awoke something in me that I didn’t know existed. Page after page, I transcribed the verses into my notebook. There was a rush in my heart, I felt SO alive, that I had to document it. And this is when I wrote the little note in the back of the notebook. This is when I immortalized the deep, living, transformative experience that was going onphoto4 inside of me at that very moment. The most helpful by-product of this project has been returning to the notebook whenever I need to be lifted up. Many times I have felt less than amazing and have opened up this notebook to pour over the truth, and beauty within Christ’s promises for us, and afterward…I feel his peace, and joy, and provision for me. It feels awesome.

I have never shared this with anyone in full, but I hope that it can reassure and maybe even give hope to others, and I know there are others, who feel as if there is something missing, or lost. Our fire is never lost, I just think we need reminding once and a while.

So thank you 21 year old, past self. You saw the value and wisdom in trying to reach out to an older, future self, that would one day need a proper reminder of how truly amazing it is when we chase Him with all we are.

[I uploaded a few pictures from the notebook. They are small in the post, but if you click on them, they will open up in a larger size.]

Pipe Dreams

So I went with Randy , my brother in law, to visit a guy who has rumored to poses a treasure of old timey pipes circa 1900, and some even older than that. Naturally I was geeking out. This was the same guy that Randy bought my current pipe from [featured in the picture on the right]. Needless to say I had visions of sugar plums dancing in my head the entire night.

When I get to the guy’s place, I recognize him immediately. I had worked with him at Apple. His name was Andy. Great guy. We get to his, “man cave” which in the truest sense of the word is a man cave. It is a shed about twenty feet by fifteen feet that looks like it hasn’t moved for 300 years. Decomposing in front of my eyes, I enter the shed to see shelves, a workstation with tools everywhere, and a table saw. The place is covered in spider webs and history. I love it. Later I find out that Andy has not one but TWO sharpening stones outside the man cave. I’m talking about the ones that you spin in a circle by peddling it. He was sharpening his machete right in front of me. I love this man. haha.

So he brings out the goods. Two boxes of pipes. One box is about two feet by one foot…a fairly deep box. The other is about a couple inches deep and 9 inches long…a smaller box. He open the boxes and I glaze over. I’m talking about some of the coolest, unique, knarley pipes you’ve ever seen. He was sitting on a gold mine.

He told us about the history behind the pipes and how his Great Grandfather was a Slumlord in the area and one day a store owner came up to him to tell him that he didn’t have the money he owed. The store owner told Andy’s Great Grandfather that he’d have the money in month, and he would put his store up as collateral if he didn’t come through. The man died one week later. Andy’s great grandfather inherited a Pipe Shop that day. He ran the shop successfully for a while until he couldn’t do it anymore, and the entire inventory was boxed up and stored away.

Andy’s Grandfather gave him the boxes because they were taking up space and he didn’t know what to do with them. By this time in the story, Andy had brought out 5 boxes of varying depths, and proceeds to tell us that there was a flood about a couple years back, and Andy lost 75% of the pipes! He then continues to tell us that there are EIGHT MORE BOXES in the basement!! I’m flipping out right about now.

I bought four pipes, all new and dating before 1910, for less than 50 bucks. The entire trip was a blast and I can’t wait to go back to check out the rest. I need a limit on the money I’m allowed to bring to Andy’s place, ha.