This week felt like we were in a bit of a holding pattern. It would surely not be long before my daughter was born and my regular life routine would change. I would take some time from work to focus on my family, to rest from the energy of camp planning and coordinating to pour energy into relationships with this person I love and this person we just made together. But, while the baby was still undelivered, I worked steadily to lighten the load on others and on myself when I returned. We were reaching the point where each day I asked myself, “Is this the day? Will one work end today? Will another on begin?” It messes with your ability to motivate yourself when you aren’t sure what you should be motivating yourself towards.
Allyson and I had our tenth wedding anniversary this week. We had talked for years before about renewing our vows every ten years. We talked to friends and family about joining us in San Francisco if they were able to reaffirm our commitment. It has been too long for both of us since we went to the Bay, since we walked among the redwoods in Muir Woods National Monument where we married. The plan was to be there this week, but as the kids say, life got in the way. The previous year took us for a ride, and we had a baby due any day, so travel to another state was not very prudent.
Instead of beautiful views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the hilly San Francisco skyline, we put in a day’s work at the office and decided to go out to eat at the end of the afternoon. We went north to Manzanita and had dinner at A Mighty Thai, a thai restaurant we frequent and love. Afterwards we went back home and watched a netflix. The anniversary was hardly accompanied with the fanfare we had been planning for years. Life had taken us down a different, bittersweet sort of path. Still, there was much to be excited and contented about. Soon, we would have a new member of the family we had made together. Until then, we enjoyed some of the local blessings in our lives, some of the beauty of the home we are making for ourselves. We quizzed each other at dinner and in the car about moments from the past ten years. The songs that speak to our marriage, the places that hold a special story from our marriage, the things we’ve realized over the past ten years.
I’ve begun telling everyone I schedule a meeting with how tentative my schedule could be right now. My calendar is totally free on this day unless my baby comes. It is very likely I will meet with you at this time, but it is possible I won’t. This is really true of life everyday if we’re being honest. We don’t often account for that, though. It has been interesting to sit with this reality a little more concretely, the possibility that another part of life will derail certain plans no matter how well they are planned.
I told the Garibaldi Fire Chief about this tentative schedule when we set up their evening run through at the camp for Wednesday. Other parts of my life did not step in and mess with plans, so I got to meet with the firefighters that evening. They drove several fire trucks into camp, and we gathered outside the dining hall to introduce, go over emergency plans, and give everyone a look at the layout of camp. I got to ride in one of the firetrucks and talk to several members of the team about what they do. We walked out to the beach using the fire lanes we keep open for them. One firefighter talked about how she’s regularly traveling to wildfires, how she was in Tennessee last year, how she’s traveling to Georgia soon for trouble they are having. It began to drizzle and get gray, so we wrapped things up, and the firetrucks made a mini-parade out of camp. It was this great feeling of community connection, that over the years we might get to know each other and help each other out. That someday they might be there for us when we are desperate. That we will pray for them as they do their dangerous, heroic work.
With all the rain and the recent windows of sunlight, the grass at camp has come to life, and seems you could almost actually see it growing. We finally had enough dry hours to begin mowing the grass, and got out to do my lawn for the first time. If you know me well, you know I try to live minimally, try to use few resources, try to incorporate practices that are good for my mind, body, and spirit. So, if you know me, you won’t be surprised that I’m using an old-school, push reel mower. Rik found the old cast iron mower in the shop at camp, worked on the handle, and brought it over. The grass was tall, so the first cutting was tedious, producing sore muscles and blisters. But, there’s a part of me that needs that kind of work, a part of me that doesn’t get enough of it these days. If I can get over the image of this as a chore and look at it as a chance to exercise, be outside, and listen to the Cubs game, it almost becomes totally therapeutic for me.
As I pushed over our back yard grass, I noticed the sunlight was waning and turning golden on the hills to the east, which meant the sun would be setting over the ocean in moments. I let go of the mower for a moment and jogged out to the beach to catch a moment of rest, a moment of reflection. There was that beautiful beach and the sun taking some time away from us again. I put on my headphones and found Kendrick Lamar on my ipod. I’ve had this song of his, “For Sale,” in my head lately. It’s mostly the hook that sounds so good that I can’t get out of my head, but I started to ruminate on the words as I grooved out there, standing on a piece of driftwood.
I thought you was keeping it gangsta?
I thought this what you wanted?
They say if you scared go to church
He knows the bible too
Throughout the song and the album, Kendrick is talking about a character named Lucy. It’s pretty clear he’s shortening the name and riffing on the character of Lucifer. This whole album is about him dealing with getting famous, about the things he learned traveling the world on tour, the ways he felt like he let down his home in Compton, the way he turned back and wanted to deliver a bigger message to try to unite the folks he loves. My world view doesn’t really allow for there to be a Lucifer/Devil/Satan, but I understand why people do think he’s real. I do believe there are temptations the this character represents that are very real. Kendrick’s Lucy is temptation, Lucy is fame, Lucy is a drug, Lucy is very appealing. The music of the song is charismatic, which is what drew me to it. This is no coincidence, Kendrick is definitely making it sound appealing, to musically make you feel that temptation.
It’s not so easy I’m at these functions accordingly
Kendrick, Lucy don’t slack a minute
Lucy work harder
Lucy gone call you even when Lucy know you love your Father
I loosely heard prayers on your first album truly
Lucy don’t mind cause at the end of the day you’ll pursue me
Lucy go get it, Lucy not timid, Lucy up front
Lucy got paper work on top of paper work
I want you to know that Lucy got you
All your life I watched you
And now you all grown up then sign this contract if that’s possible
My life is definitely not all that much like Kendrick Lamar’s. I didn’t grow up in Compton. I haven’t dealt with his struggles. I haven’t been one of the most famous entertainers on the planet. Oh, and I can’t really rap that well. But, he’s telling a story that is so universal, you can relate to pieces. That’s part of the greatness. It’s why I feel like he’s a modern day prophet.
I am growing. I’m gaining responsibility. There is power shifting my way for now. I am about to be a father. With that comes temptation to misuse power, temptation to take. Those voices are out there. Those voices know how to sound good. But, a big thing I’ve been drawn to about Jesus these past few years are the moments he rejected power and it made his message more clear and more true. I’m trying to stay aware of the BS in my life and toss it off, trying to stay true to the big and tiny things that matter. Those things that last. It creates a restlessness and weariness of all the ways people want to take short cuts and do what’s easy. It pushes me to stand up for what I believe, to be a grown-ass man.
I felt myself walking back from the sunset with a swagger. I’ve had my ass kicked over the last year, but I’m back up on my feet. I’m ready to build something, ready to inspire, ready to help bring something important. I’m ready to foster life. Not all of this was my plan. I wanted some of it different. I wanted some of it easier. I wanted fewer surprises. I didn’t want some stuff to get lost along the way. But, I’ve gotten back up and my legs are back under me. I hear the voices. I’m ready to whisper back that I know who I am, I know what we’re getting ready to make here. It’s about time to handle our business.