It has been a year since part 1. Which you can find here:
That post got Freshly Pressed and due to that I met some awesome people and had over 400 comments with people sharing some of the things that shaped their lives. It was so much fun and so cool to see how many people connected with it.
And seeing as that I titled the first one Part 1, I figured (even though a year later) I should at some point follow that up with part 2.
So without further ado; here is Part 2.
Let me know more of what helped make you you in the comments!
10. Monty Python’s Flying Circus
Connecting instantly with me was the irreverent and wildly silly antics of Monty Python. The first time I was introduced to them was with ‘The Holy Grail’ and then by my mom’s records of their recorded sketches. I would listen to them over and over again laughing my tiny butt off as they discussed eating a man’s mother instead of burying her, burning her, or dumping her in the Thames. I practically died laughing about a certain cat detector van and the trials and tribulations of Miss Anne Elk. I appreciated that adults enjoyed being weird and that my sense of humor was not alone in the universe.
9. The Simpsons
With ‘Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire’ in 1989 was my first exposure to The Simpsons (I was 6 and this was their first full length episode). I still have it recorded on VHS somewhere in a box full of mostly unmarked VHS tapes that I refuse to give up for some reason. There isn’t much that I can say or add to the discussion as to why The Simpsons was so important for me. Those who grew up with it know how diverse, cutting, deliriously hilarious it can be. It remains my favorite show of all time and I wouldn’t have been the same without it.
8. Swimming in the Creek
I came alive on the banks of the Conodoguinet creek, a Native American name meaning ‘A Long Way with Many Bends’. Unbeknownst to me at the time, but this name was a metaphor for my life. In the summer I would splash around in its cool waters, sometimes catching crayfish, sometimes flattening my back and letting the current drift me down along the bends in the river, until I would get out and walk back home. I found a tree that had hollowed out, and I would hide my toys in there and climb to the top to look out at the world. Everything seemed gigantic and it was always changing, always bending.
7. Learning to Let Go with Baby Birds
A few times growing up I would find a baby bird that had fallen out of its nest. I felt responsible for the life of that bird and we would take it in, fill a shoe box with leaves and grass as a bedding, and feed the bird baby food through a dropper. I had one starling that once able to fly would do so throughout the house and would land on your shoulder when you called it. We could even take them outside and most times they would come back. But eventually they would get the urge to fly away, and though it always made me sad to let them go, I knew it was for the best. I could never hold them captive because I knew if I had the ability to fly free I would never want someone to hold me down because I couldn’t think of anything that could be more a symbol of true freedom than that. It helped me understand the importance of taking the good from what you have for as long as you have it and to carry that on once it is gone.
6. Long Summer Nights
Growing up in the country afforded me a lifestyle that was unrestrained from much outside force. Everything felt alive and free and summer nights were the epitome of that. Sitting on the porch and watching a storm roll through, or seeing a field glow with fireflies. I can remember the long nights where friends would spend the night and we would tent out in the backyard, loaded up with sugary drinks and youthful energy.
My favorite part of those nights would be staring up for hours into the night sky, which at the time was not polluted by man-made lights. I would gaze up at the millions of stars and wonder and dream.
5. Getting Lost
In the time before everything revolved around TV and the internet, the most important thing would be what adventure you could get into outside. Those journeys would sometimes get you into trouble when you would look around and nothing was familiar. It was then when you had to use your own ingenuity to find your way back. Even when panic would set in it was a way to learn yourself, how you dealt under pressure, and when you made it back you felt stronger because of it.
4. Everything’s Recorded on Cassette Tape
I had a tape recorder growing up. And the narcissism of youth allowed me to record many moments of that time. Some were just me making silly observations about what was going on, singing, recording thunder storms, or just being a big goofy dumbass with some friends. We would pretend like we were DJ’s on some radio station and I would play records and hold the tape player up to the stereo to record. It was silly but fun and every once and awhile I will pop one of those tapes in and listen to it like an audio time capsule that takes me back immediately to that place.
3. Make Believe
Pretending is something we take for granted the older we get. But we forget how important it was. How we had the ability to create anything within our minds and picture it in front of us. We had the power to transform reality and to make it our own. To take ourselves to other lands or other worlds, to be whoever or whatever we wanted to. It was like a lucid dream that we controlled. Somewhere along the way we lose sight of it and we become grounded in this world, but we should never forget that we still have that power within us.
2. The Great Outdoors
I’m taking this from another post I wrote which you can read in full here
I think it captures what I want to say the best
Remember beauty. Most importantly remember that you are alive. You may or may not have one chance here so best to enjoy it while you have it. Look at the world around you and see it for the majestic beauty that it truly is. This construct of life, that is just as alive as you are, is always around us. We become so enveloped in the grand scale that we rarely stop to appreciate the intense beauty that is in the everyday around us.
As long as I have a means to walk, I will. I will retain the earth that lives inside of me.
1. My Parents
When you become a parent, you realize just how much of an effect your parents had on your own life. How important a job it is to be parent becomes clear. I feel lucky to have had the upbringing and parents that I had, to which has made me the man I am today.
The other day I was having a conversation with a friend at work on lunch. We were talking about life and what about the possibility that this life is only one of many and what if a new life starts off each time we die in a different universe and we have no recollection of that previous life. And what if we only lived one life where time was only one continuous motion never advancing but being experienced simultaneously and the only time we are aware of it is when we have déjà vu which signals that feeling that we’ve been there or done the same thing before. My friend and I like to ponder the infinite. To posit what exactly this all means. He and I share a great enjoyment for looking deeper because we only have so much time in which to think about these things.
That doesn’t sit well with others.
While talking about this, a few other people were around us and listening in to our conversation. You could feel a disconnection in the air. None of them interjected with their own thoughts or feelings. They stood quietly amongst us, looking anywhere but at us, and then left without a word. We would have welcomed another voice in the discussion but when it came down to it, no one else wanted to say anything. I think because it scares them.
I think ideas scare people. If our conversation had been about the current season of ‘Dancing with the Stars’ or what the weather would be like in the next few days, I think a group discussion would have begun. Or if someone wanted to talk about their personal life, which some of them do in GREAT detail, they would have listened or added to it. But our conversation was not about how our grandma made a blueberry pie this weekend, or how work sucks, or that it may or may not rain in the next few days.
This was a discussion about life in the grander scale. About what makes us human, and what our purpose is in life, and how that makes them terribly uncomfortable because it isn’t a banal regurgitation of some ego-centric information. We weren’t talking just so people would listen to something about ourselves in some attempt to make our experience feel more important than someone else’s.
I could not count how many conversations I’ve had in my lifetime that revolve around the weather. Either how it is too hot or too cold, how it may rain or snow or sleet or hail, how it was nice in the morning but it isn’t anymore. I don’t mind this conversation once and awhile. Sometimes that is all there is to talk about and I find weather interesting enough, but I also want more out of the human experience than just something I can understand by looking out a window. I like to discuss the unknowable and question reality because it is exciting to think, to use my mind, to conjure ideas up from the depths of my imagination. Not only because it makes for interesting conversation but it also helps to connect us together, because none of us truly know why we are here and what meaning it is.
I don’t think the people who don’t talk about this are below me. I don’t think I’m better or smarter than them. Mostly it just makes me feel sad for them that either they don’t think about anything besides what is normal everyday life, they don’t want to think about that, or they do and are too frightened to talk about it for fear of some sort of society induced stigma.
Because to talk about these matters sets you apart from others. It wants to label you as ‘weird’ or ‘odd’. If you don’t fall in line and only speak of inconsequential matters you are seen as different. People come in and out of our lives at such a speed that if we aren’t careful, we can miss any value from them that helps us both grow and understand more about this gigantic universe around us.
We should not be afraid to ask questions, to discuss, to inquire about things that are deeper than what is on the surface. There is no need to be singled out because of it. It is important to ask and talk with each other about things that matter more.
Ask away my friends.