Posts Tagged With: oklahoma

Day 2: How the Theme of My Trip Started

Despite the many stories I could tell you…I sat here in my chair tonight, in Beaufort N.C, not knowing what to say.

So much to say… and here I sit, feigning a really crappy version of writers block. It’s kind of like the feeling I had in college, when I had so incredibly much homework to do that I watched TV. It piled up, so I put it off altogether. You know the feeling.

I have a migraine and a million excuses I’m making to myself – why you won’t want to read my boring, predictable anecdotes. But Patrick, one of those amazing people I’ve met along the way (letting me crash at his place right now) reminded me to press on.

He said, “DAVID! I live with you now and I still want to see a new freakin blog post! Jeez, would you update it already?!!”  Made me laugh a bit. But he’s right. It’s time you knew the good and the bad. I’m sorry I haven’t been able to yet. It hasn’t been logistically possible, like I assumed. And I wouldn’t have had time to anyways. (chuckle) But now I can!

I’m overwhelmed with where to begin. There are so many things I want to share. But I doubt I have time for the majority of what I want to say on this blog. So I’ll pick and choose a few from each state which you may find relevant, without having to know my whole journey’s timeline.

So, for now, I’ll just approach it like I do on the road: One day at a time, one story at a time. Where it ends up, we’ll see.

Beaumont, Tx

Beaumont, Tx

Day 2.

I had coffee and one last good breakfast before leaving the old town, southern bliss- Beaumont. I walked out the door of that beautiful entry-way, with its embodiment of every warm and earthly comfort, and looked at Ben.

 He gave me a look that was full of excitement and slight jealousy, eyes gleaming like quarters, grinned, put his hands on my shoulders and said,
“Well.   This is it.”

I honestly don’t remember what he said after that, because it was so surreal. Just that line stuck with me. He was right. After all the talking and planning and writing and wishing I’d done, none of that could have compared to this sensation.I could hardly believe it was finally here. The rush had snuck up on me somehow, despite the fact I thought I was more than ready.

I had that feeling you get when you arrive at the airport with a tingly lump in your throat, itching to get through security….and the burning, numb feeling like after you take a shot of whiskey.
I knew I had a big adventure ahead. And it wouldn’t end anytime soon. There was no sentiment of, “Ya, but I’ll be back next week.”

The hugeness of it hit me. There was no going back.

I had already said goodbye to all my friends in Durant, Oklahoma and Dallas, Texas in December. Without notice and only one class left to graduate, I packed up my stuff overnight, put it in storage, and left. I said goodbye to the few close friends who knew I was leaving. I left a town and friends and everything I loved….knowing full well it would be a very long time before I ever came back. If I came back.

And now, I had one friend where I moved on the coast of South Texas. I saw him every couple weekends, as I worked a crap job. He lived about 30 minutes away.

He was the last person I dared to let into my life.
All the walls had gone up again, yet he managed to start prying a few bricks away in a few short visits.

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So here I was. It had all led up to this moment. And I knew it. I was cutting my very. last. safety-net.

Somehow, I found myself walking down the street, looking back at Ben as he closed the doorway.

I waved goodbye to to the last friend I had yet to leave. I knew it had to be done for me to move forward. You cannot live in two places at once. I knew it was for the best, but that didn’t make it any easier.

That was the only hard part.

I say this to relate to you just how sad I was to leave him standing there. I hadn’t expected to feel sad for someone I’d known for such a short period of time. Yet I was.
He had shown me what friendship and unconditional love really looked like, more than most had ever done in my life. And I had only really gotten to know him in the past 3 months. But for some people, all it takes is 3 hours, and our lives are changed. He doesn’t know this. And, once again, I find myself wishing I’d told the people in my life how much they mattered, when I had the chance. I didn’t realize it at the time, my head a thousand miles away (almost literally) though I was consciously grateful. It’s not an excuse, but it’s true.

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Longboarding with Ben on Day 1

So Ben, if you ever read this, I want you to see that you impacted my journey in a bigger way than you’ll ever know. Thank you. The people’s lives you’ve touched as a result cannot possibly be measured. You helped propel me into the next chapter of my life, with clear eyes and a full heart. It would have happened either way, but not with quite the same attitude. Because of that, people got to see a different David, who wasn’t just limping along, but leaping. I wasn’t leeching off other’s passion, I was overflowing with my own. Every person I’ve met now has been affected by you. Just like that, one person made a difference in so many people’s lives.

To list merely a few,

He made sure, every time we were together to show me a good time. We would just cut loose and de-stress. No worries after all the crap that happened through the week.

Other times, he brainstormed with me when I did need to really think hard.

He reminded me that I’m not alone, and that there is hope yet ahead – that there are great things ahead for me.

He helped me plan my route out of town and the train I would catch, as well as other details. We stayed up late, drinking beer and going over the map.

He gave me advice that sticks with me to this day; he endured listening to my rants when I just needed someone to talk to.

Planning the next day's logistics

Planning the next day’s logistics

He didn’t judge me when I opened up to him about my brutally honest, blasphemous questions concerning community, our “great nation”, society’s expectations, disillusionment with the norm, fears, insecurities, goals, God’s existence, church, women, friendship, money, and mythical love.

He didn’t pressure me into his perspective. He never judged my own. He didn’t lecture me about safety; he instead equipped me as best he could, knowing that I’d leave either way.

He gave me his time, a jacket, a knife, food, and a place to sleep.

He never told me not to go, or that I was crazy for doing it.

He never told me how to go.

He was one of only 2 people who encouraged me to do it, knowing it was something I needed to do.

I honestly don’t know how he did it. Because almost every base reason for doing what I’m doing conflicted with his beliefs and lifestyle.
But he understood one simple thing not many other people did before (not after) I left. He got it:
You don’t have to agree with everything….or anything somebody does, to love them and just be their friend. To give.
I had nothing to give him in return. He expected nothing. He just gave and gave and gave, without even cashing in on the age old “well if you’re my friend, you now have to at least listen to my warnings” etc

Sometimes, it only takes one person. One unique person, bold enough to be different and unashamed of it. It doesn’t take hundreds for our heart to fathom that those kind of people still exist. It just takes one.

And that’s the first story of how one person impacted so many.
It set my journey’s theme for whole rest of the trip.

Unconditional kindness and love, in the midst of hard times, in unexpected places, and they expect nothing in return. I’m sorry I don’t have the words to better explain it. But there it is.

Those people do exist. They’re not the majority; they’re the minority. But hey- don’t play the numbers game. Not everyone can play a main character in your story. Only a few.

I can attest to the fact, it takes a while to find them -the one out of a thousand who will stop by on the road to pick up the hitchhiker. And that’s discouraging, of course.  Some days it outright pisses me off how many people and hours will pass before someone stops. Yes, it’s easy to focus on how shitty the rest are. But I’m not so sure that’s the focus.

Those few who do stop are the only ones who were worth riding with, all along. I know, it’s never ideal timing or the faces you’d expect it to be. It’s hardly ever the rich and famous, but they aren’t the ones who make a cliff note in your adventures and struggles. It’s not those kind of people you would’ve wanted to pick you up anyways.

Don’t take for granted the Ben Carpenters of this world.

You may be afraid to spend less time with the thousands of friends you have on Facebook, possibly offending somebody. But I promise, when you focus on those who actually want to be a helping part of your life and surround yourself with people who constantly love on you, it undoubtedly will inspire you to stop rambling about the rest of the those crazy characters who don’t matter and shouldn’t be taking up page space.

You’ll stop worrying about safety in numbers and start taking risks, maybe even taking risks as your own example to other strangers of unconditional love.

And just maybe, as we learn there are those few, it’ll make the world a hell of a lot less scary place.

 

Wasn’t at all where I planned to go with this post, but once again I have remitted control of the outcome. Perhaps I’m learning.

The end.
(for now)

Me and Ben went exploring at the beach on St. Patty's day, doing our best Boondock Saints impressions.

Me and Ben at the beach. Exploring on St. Patty’s day, doing our best Boondock Saints impressions.

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My Eskimo.

 

I feel like my whole life, there’s always been an Eskimo standing in my way.

Thinking about my last blog, We All Have Our Eskimos , and the longer portion of the journey I’m about to take, it’s made me gratefully reflect on how much of the road I’ve already traveled.

When you are discouraged, weary, or looking for the last bit of strength to keep going forward, take a moment to look back at how far you’ve come.

 

Why, David?

Why do I “have” to do this? Am I unstable? Am I “throwing it all away”?

Honestly I try not to laugh out loud when you ask those questions. I can hear the fear in your voice. You have so much, it seeps out and bleeds onto everyone else you “worry for”. In fact, you have so much fear in your life, that you have cast it on to me, expecting “the more the merrier” in your desperate club, seeking to convert more members.

No, this was a very deliberate and necessary decision.

Let me say this instead: it really isn’t anything new for me.  (hence the Boy Meets World article & quote)

I barely made it through high school without getting kicked out on the street, 2 or 3 times.

I decided to stick it out, bite my tongue, and try to stay –because even at 16, I knew there was nothing more to that kind of freedom than a decade of uneducated minimum wage labor, living in a crappy apartment, with no true way out. A high school dropout, fighting to just survive.I’d essentially be stuck there too. And I didn’t want to just survive. I wanted to thrive. I wanted to live. So, I truly do understand how people get to that kind of hopeless place in life, where people look down on them and see them as lazy or not contributing to society. I was almost that story.

I have compassion for those people we think of as the bottom of the drip pan, holding out their tongue for the good graces of “trickle down theory” because of the unique perspective my I’ve been so graciously  “given” through my life’s challenges. I am always reminded of
the introduction of a book I first read around the same time: The Great Gatsby

“In my younger and more vulnerable years, my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since. ‘Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone, just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.”

Now this isn’t a plea for you to pity the downtrodden. I don’t know what your worldview is. And I get that most people don’t agree with me. In America, we believe that most anybody (clear of a life threatening debilitation) should be able to “make it” on their own, without help from anybody. It’s the Rockefeller story that we repeat over and over, saying “anybody could do that!”.

But, I ‘m not going to argue that point right now. I just want to make the distinction that the “pull yourself up by your bootstraps, boy!” mentality is a larger pill to swallow for some, because other people have it easy and this sounds like a simple solution. They never had to fight for anything. Everything was given to them.

That said, here’s the real simple distinction, a precursor to that statement: It’s just plain harder for some than others. Obviously, I believe in taking control of your life. That’s always been my view, which dictates most of history.

I was talking to my friend DJ the other day, who is trying out for the NFL, and he said, “You know man, it’s like this: most of these kids had it easy. They went to Ivy League or huge state schools with a paid tuition from their daddy or a scholarship. I went to a small town Oklahoma school and paid for it without getting any scholarships. They played on prime-time TV and didn’t have to worry about getting signed after college. I’m 25 and just now gettin my shot. So I feel you. Ya, it’s taken me longer, but you know what, I wouldn’t trade it for anything; it makes me try that much harder. It gives me my edge. It will be my story to tell. It’s made me fight for what I want. Someday, you’ll tell that story too, David. ”

But let me put it this way: How big are the boots? And how heavy are they? Are the straps frayed and prone to breaking, every damn time you think you’ve got a good grip?

 

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My Story

I was told I would never “make it,” living on my own. That I would never amount to anything.

I had worked a formal job since the day I turned 15, paying for my own stuff. So, after high school, with my earnings, I moved to Oklahoma, not knowing a single soul. I started over. I created a whole new life, building from nothing. I faced my fears head on, determined to prove everyone wrong.

I was determined to prove this impossible wrong. Failure was not an option on the table.

Looking back at all the friends and connections I have in that small Okie town, it’s hard to believe I had the stones to suddenly pack up and move there at 18, with no guarantees. But I did. And not only that, I thrived.

People told me I would never go to college or become anything in life. Well, as I prepare to graduate, I can hardly believe it myself.

My dad told me I wasn’t smart enough to go to school. So I tried that much harder. At first, to prove him wrong….but then because I really started to enjoy it. I found out……I wasn’t dumb. I actually loved learning…..and was a really good student. In addition to school work, I took flying classes through the school’s aviation department and soloed, gaining many hours afterwards– a very literal feeling of independence I still do not take for granted, though I haven’t flown a plane in 3 years. It taught me so many things about myself and what I was truly capable of. The sky is the limit.

I taught myself poetry. I taught myself writing. I taught myself photography.

I had to pay my way through college, with no idea how the hell this would happen. Well, I not only held down work and school, but started doing photography, in addition.

I bought my own equipment and my Sophomore year I quit a really good job I had in radio to open up my business, David Reagan Photography, officially. Full time.

Yeah, I was scared to death. Just when I was startin to build up all my “safety nets,” I began to tear them down again. In my head, I thought, “What are you doing??!!” But I knew it had to be done. You have no idea how scary it is to open a business and have only yourself to blame. If you fail and bills don’t get paid. There is no hourly wage guarantee to calculate your budget, whether you’ll make rent. This made me self-reliant and matured me in ways I can’t even tell you. Last year, I photographed Miss Teen Texas, a model, and was hired to go on a photo assignment to South Africa.

I not only overcame my vast distrust of people, but I learned to open up and let people love me– and love them back. I found communities that accepted me and told me I was vital to them. This was huge for me. I came from a place where I didn’t feel wanted, where I closed myself off and looked out for only myself, because I had quickly learned that was the only way to survive in the “real world”.

Facing Fears

Though I still have many fears to conquer (re-conquer).

Okay, honesty time. Here’s a few:

Fear of hardship.  I crave my bed after little sleep, a long, stressful 9 hour day of work and physical exhaustion at the gym. And I absolutely love hot showers. But I’ll have neither of those luxuries on my trip.

Fear of vulnerability.  I have a fear of women, putting myself out there to love and be loved again. (This is one I need to re-learn) But it’s hard to be vulnerable when you’ve been cheated on. I feel as if, in some ways, I’m back where I was graduating high school. BUT this time, I’m facing it with an awareness it’s there.

Fear of logistics.  unknown places if you will. Mostly because I’m horrible at navigation and reading maps. This kind of will have to change. haha

Fear of dying.  My friend asked me this weekend if I was prepared to die . Gotta face that. Damn.

Fear of hunger. I keep having nightmares (thanks to all of you constantly telling me!) I might find myself stranded in between cities without food. (also water)

Fear of nature’s ugly sister. Snakes and all the things that go bump in the night….when you’re camping by yourself!

Fear of public image.  People will think I’m crazy. Like literally insane. I worry about what people think wayy too much, even to this day.

Fear of loneliness. Undoubtedly this one will be faced, with so much time on my hands. It’s unique because most of society keeps themselves so busybusybusy they never have to listen to their own thoughts. Often, we’re scared of that part raw, smothered part of ourselves and attempt to fill all our free time and head space with white noise.

Fear of failure?

 

Why It’s not “easy,” even for me

For clarification,

I’m not writing this from the position of “having nothing to lose” and just want to take a fun little trip. No. That’s all wrong. It scares the hell out of me. I had the most to lose. I still do. I was the least likely person to ever embrace this. I had the ideal set up, with a town, friends, a self-employed job, connections, and money. But giving it all up….is what drove me– facing every fear and “impossibility”.

In fact, just a couple weeks ago, a friend and I were talking about the different “safety nets” we create and tell ourselves we need. I told him about the trip. He responded, “Ya, that’s easy for you, but you have nothing to lose. I could never do that.”

I stopped. “Wait, what do you mean?”

“Well….don’t take this the wrong way David, but I think you’re at a great point in your life where you have no obligations. It’s prime- You’re staying at your grandparent’s, about to graduate, working at a crappy grocery store, and see yourself as having nothing to lose, as you leave for this adventure. Am I right?”

I looked him square in the eye.  “No. Ben, you’ve got it all wrong. You really don’t know why I’m here, do you? Understand, I’m here, talking to you right now…because I’ve already lost everything. Actually, everything is at stake. The journey began months ago when I moved away from everything I’ve ever known. This is simply the first stop. That’s why I’m in South Texas. “

I’m at a crossroads in my life. And standing still, not choosing any path, will get me run over. It’s not the trip I fear, but the idea of never chancing to take it. That’s what kills me.

 

Summary of the past 2 month’s blogs

I relate to you. The aimless, the apathetic, the burnt out, the poor, the smart and the uneducated,  the proud, the distinguished, the lost, the weary-eyed tech gazers, the displaced 21st gen. who do not resemble the hobos after the 20’s depression any longer.

They look more like the post-graduates of the show “workaholics,” toiling under a job they hate, under massive loans, under a boss they hate, doing meaningless entry-level work….because they see no other way out. [This is the aimless generation of America. But in the disguise of prosperous times and modern safety-net systems. No child left behind, right? Eh?]

I see our generation wandering in a different way than the Jack Kerouac’s of the 30’s, who literally struck out on the road, searching for purpose. I see our generation as those who treat career jobs like shitty minimum wage jobs, because we have only been taught to show up and log in the hours. We have been taught that was admirable, expected, and the only choice. We were not told, however, to put forth meaningful work, to chase after our passions and enjoy what we do.

Where do you picture yourself 10 years from now? What do you want to be able to tell your friends (or kids) you’ve done? Yes, these are allowed to be intangible achievements too. All the better. Write a bucket list. I promise you won’t regret it. Hell, there might even be an app for that these days. I don’t know. At your 50th year reunion, what do you want to tell those bald, wrinkly, beer-bellied jocks you did? (Pssst. I’m going to venture out and take a guess that your priorities will be completely different from high school. Just sayin. Make it good, not cop-out stuff like “shag Mary-jo”)

The point is, if you’re putting off your dreams right now, because something is in the way, “for the moment,” you’ll still be waiting when you’re 70. Because something will always be standing in your way. There will always be an Eskimo, resting atop the billboard scrawled with your passions, taunting your dreams which seem oh-so-close, blocking your way. There will always be an excuse. There will always be “something to finish up,” or a job, or a friend, or a critic, or a place….which you can’t seem to leave yet, due to “responsibilities” or what you “should” do.

 

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Visual Design: Intentionally Invoking the Senses

So, my communication teacher wants to know why I picked the layout colors of my blog.

Let me address this in the most possibly meandering way I can.

I don’t usually think about it consciously — why I like the certain aesthetic properties I do.

I know, I know – we’re a visual culture… and it’s kind of my job. I kick myself, “Shouldn’t I already know this?” I really should start paying more attention.

so here goes.

Well, for starters, I was given some pretty awesome tips from my South Africa director, Justin Zoradi, about the art of simplicity.  [ http://justinzoradi.com/ — he’s also a really great, recognized writer! Check him out!]Justin Zoradi

I’ve been thinking about making a website for my photography.

One of my graphic designer friends, Tiffany, said she imagined my website would be something which would look…..clean. (hence the plain wood & tan/grey background). Ya, I like that. Keep It Simple Stupid, right? But seriously, simplicity and ease of access is what we aim for in our culture, right?

By the way, Justin’s blog is a perfect example of this kind of professional layout, better than mine.  He really “gets it,” as we like to say.

Well, aside from the “graphic design bifocals” I have to admit I often see through as a communication major,…. I just really dig the look of the wood paneled background.

The house I live in right now was built in the 1930’s. It’s really old. In fact, it had push tube electricity when we moved inIf you don’t know what that is….there’s a good reason. It’s not allowed anymore. Something about houses catching on fire because of the thin, exposed wiring….

but anyways, it’s a beautiful, rustic 7 bedroom house, completely wood flooring. It’s got that awesome distressed quality to it. It’s the kind of stuff you just can’t fake. Only the years gone by produce that smell and feel.

I guess, it kind of takes me back to another time period when I enter the front door. It’s like a portal to another world. We tried to keep the majority of the house (minus kitchen appliances) the same when we restored it.

and the photoshop edited banner “Wordplay Revolution”?….well that’s my creative techie/ graphic art side coming out. I used to have a blog called “The revolution” or something. Can’t remember.

The picture on the banner?

Oh, wait this is a good story. (remember, behind every picture is a story)

I took that picture on a road trip with my dear friend and mentor, Andrew.

It was a snowy day. The first fall of the winter actually. Well, half sleet, depending where you were in Oklahoma. It was Thanksgiving. I didn’t have a family to spend it with, so he invited me up to Oklahoma City to eat with his family. We took the back roads – the whole way. He said I could take as long as I wanted and we could stop every time I wanted a picture. There was no rules. No schedule. No time deadlines. We could take as long as we wanted and do whatever we wanted along the way. My reaction was like a little kid high on a multiple bags of skittles.  This creative junkie was about to get 150 miles of endless fixes.

UM HELLO! Have you met me?! haha I’m not sure if you’ve ever ridden in the car with me….but I hope you don’t plan on getting there anytime soon.

Needless to say, Andrew is a good friend.

            

I guess, that banner picture means a lot to me because it brings with it that familial sense of longing. It automatically takes me back to the bitter frost of that oddly half-sunny Oklahoma day, his red truck, abruptly shaken from my depressed weekend I had planned to spend by myself, to Andrew’s phone call, pulling me from the couch and promising we’d stop to get syrupy french toast somewhere along the way

I can remember… standing in the middle of the lonely highway for a good photo as he watched for oncoming cars, mother nature’s science experiment of orange leaves still trapped under the flash freeze, the smell of coffee and cigarettes with every stop, 40’s bop raging on the radio in between long conversations, warming my numb hands in front of the heater, his mom’s home cooking and family albums, watching the sunset and backyard bird-feeders — feeling completely content after an awesome day. Feeling….safe. Happy. Relieved and removed from all the complicated mess of my life…..even if just for a day.

It was a simple day really. By any standard. Just a road trip. Nothing fancy. Nothing elaborate that would strike most people as particularly “memorable”. Just…simple.

But sometimes I have to remind myself…..I need simple.

We all do.

It’s a welcome relief for our eyes and heart, from all the stressful, twisted mess of our complicated lives.

As a general rule, good design is simple and easy.

   

But I’m a very “visual” person, and this is my blog, so I’m biased.

So all ask your opinion– does it have that calming effect on you? Even if for a completely different reason.

What does the layout make you think of?

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