Every Time You Find Humor In a Difficult Situation, You Win.

Sometimes it’s funny where life takes you and how you can’t quite seem to calculate how you ended up in your present location with your very present realities. Things happen and, at least for me, I very rarely seem able to predict or even backtrack why or how.

I was making my ever-common commute to Jax the other day.  Lately things have been hell. I made a terrible choice yet again in the dating world and it’s ended with a situation that will have a lifelong effect. I live in Waycross, Georgia. I haven’t found a church here and I feel further from my faith than I have since becoming a believer. I started a new job here which is now partnered up with a job in Jax as well and balancing both and some emotional stuff just isn’t as easy as I assumed it would be.

I was listening to spotify, although I can’t remember exactly what song. I was texting some people, although nobody special. I was headed to my parent’s house, which is much more of a downer than an upper for me. Usually- and I’m not afraid to admit it- my car rides have been mostly filled with really heavy thoughts and some tears. This one was different though. I had just finished up work, was heading to Jax to start more work, and was staying at my parents which was going to be filled with 500 other awkward conversations about things that I couldn’t change or prevent.

I was thinking and for the first time in a couple weeks I felt happy. Light. Secure. Like I was doing it right. Then I started thinking, why wouldn’t I be happy?! I had two amazing jobs! And I’m good at BOTH of them. I had the most amazing support system of friends in the entire world.. and it just doubled with a whole new group. The Waycross kids I’ve met here remind me of what real, genuine people are. They’re welcoming, honest, loyal, and fun. Their morals are similar to mine and it’s refreshing. There’s only like 2 bars here- drinking and partying are not the foundations of your friendships. It’s conversation, time, common interests, being active outdoors, and let me say it again- CONVERSATION. I’ve had more deep, sober talks with this group of 8 amazing people than I had the entire 9 years in Jax. I’ve known and worked with these people for about three weeks. They’ve never asked me to hide this from their families or to not mention that, they’re accepting and not judgmental. They grew up in a small town and work hard.  They are not entitled. Most of them here have never heard of tinder (amen) and laughed when the 2 girls [who left for college and moved back] as well as myself tried to explain it to them. “So it’s just girls and guys who can’t just ask people on dates in person?”.  I don’t know if its the naive, outdoorsy nature of all the people here or if it’s just nice to have a group who understands family dinners, movie nights, river trips, golfing, hunting camp outs, hiking, horseback riding and road trips that don’t include drinking or any additional substances that made me decide to give Waycross a real shot, but I’m glad that I did.

Things are going to be great, and they are far better now than how they were a month or two ago.  The past is funny. You can’t change things as much as you wish you could, you can’t make people different or to mean their words, and you can’t stop your heart from stinging or feeling fear when you move forward into very unknown territory.  But you know what you can do? Laugh at it: completely, openly, and wholeheartedly.

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Sweet Thursday

Doc thought, Let’s look at this.  Here is a man with work to do.  The girl-what is she? Let’s suppose every good thing should come of a relationship with her.  It would still be no good.  There is no possible way for this girl and me to be successful-no way under the sun.  Not only is she illiterate, but she has a violent temper.  She has all of the convictions of the uninformed.  She is sure of those things she has not investigated, not only sure for herself, but sure for everyone.  In two months she will become a prude.  Then where will freedom go?  Your thinking will be like golf against a bad player.  Let’s stop this nonsense! Forget it! You can’t have it and you don’t want it.

Middle mind hooted, “You can’t not have it too.  Whatever happens, you’ve got her.  Take a feel of your pulse, listen to your pounding heart.  Why?… You haven’t even thought what that means yet, but you’ve got a pain in your gut because of that.”

Low mind said, “Nothing’s bad.  It’s all part of one thing-the good and the bad.  Do you know any man and woman-no matter how close-who don’t have good and bad?  Let me out!  Or by God, I’ll set my claws in you and I’ll tear at you for all your life! Let me out, I say!

I just finished my first book since I decided to begin reading again.  Let me just say, reading is so much more “me” than netflix and apple tv and I really, really miss the years of living on my own when I didn’t own a television.  I used to finish like 5 books a month.  I think that’s better for me, and my brain, so I am going back to that practice.

I picked Steinbeck to start back up with because he’s always been my favorite.  His voice is strong, the scenes he describes are clear, and I’ve always been able to relate to his characters.  Sweet Thursday is the sequel to Cannery Row, one of my top 3 books by him.

The passages above are a monologue in a character’s head towards the end of the book.  He’s fighting with himself about a girl that he has been trying to convince himself he doesn’t love.  I like how Steinbeck portrays the 3 selves.

The first paragraph is earthly, human Doc.  He’s a character that is tightly woven into the community of Monterey and they all care about him deeply.  He also holds a lot of responsibility.  A lot of people offer him opinions about how he shouldn’t get involved with the girl he is clearly in love with.  All their assumptive opinions come from thoughts of his well-being, so his first earthly argument is pretty much Doc arguing with the opinions of his peers that he has convinced himself are correct and that he believes.  He knows that the minor differences that they possess are not all that major; even her most undesirable traits he has to repeatedly re-rationalize as negative in his own mind.  This is because he loves her.

The next argument comes from Doc’s “middle mind”.  I think this is supposed to represent the more logical side of himself, his brain.  I read a few articles about some really cool hidden, ignored subconscious thoughts that turned into different sicknesses until the mind had acknowledged the feelings and consciously healed them.  In the story, Doc had been worried about his health.  They finally suggest in this chapter that it might be because he’s trying to shut down and ignore his love for her.

The next argument comes from Doc’s “low mind” which is clearly his heart.  Seems to be more positive and reassuring that everyone is good and bad, not just one or the other.  If you decide to acknowledge that nobody is all good or all bad and accept your person’s highs with their lows, then you can allow real love to happen.  If not, you can quit, and wonder “what if” all your life-and it’ll probably drive you insane.  Eventually, you’ll realize that everybody has a great side to go with that bad side, that everybody has a few irrational moments of passion to pair with their well-thought articulated moments of logic, and that there is not a single way to appreciate all the flowers in your garden without consistently pulling out the weeds.  When you do realize this, hopefully you didn’t give up on the girl because of what everyone else said; hopefully you realized what you thought, how you felt, and the truths you knew were enough to stand up for the love that you were internally arguing with passing by.

The book never tells you what Doc decided.  That’s why I like Steinbeck.

I also had this whole other thing worked out about how Steinbeck was really using this as a metaphor for Jesus, The Holy Spirit, and God.  He was super religious and all, but I went with this twist to stay true to theme and… just the overwhelming relevance of page 194 in a book, I started a few days ago, and my life.  Coincidences are rationalizations for people ignorant to the fact that they are not steering their own life, but insist on thinking that they are.  When I read things that have such strong parallels with my current situation, I try to be humble enough to acknowledge and understand I’m apparently right on track with my life path and getting a well-deserved sign that I’m heading where I should be. The reassurance that it isn’t just my plan always seems to make things much easier anyways. Especially when I’m often left wanting things that clearly are just not supposed to be for me right now.

Netflix

My roommate and I typically binge on certain television series of Netflix. Maybe it’s because we live in Georgia and don’t really know too many people.  Since we’re both out of college and the service industry, and our town has about 3 bars which seem to be mostly flooded with 21 year olds, the whole friend making process has been slightly slow. Or maybe we binge watch Netflix series because we’re like the rest of America.

We’ll get so into a show that we’ll have our whole after-work night routines planned out for weeks and weeks, season after season of the series.  He’ll get home from work around 6:30-ish, walk into the house, and we’ll discuss what we’re cooking for dinner.  I’m teaching him how to cook, so after we decide, he’ll jump in the shower and I’ll do the basic prep work: pre-heat the oven, pull out the cutting boards, gather all the ingredients and seasonings, and put on Spotify.

Then we’ll cook whatever amazing gourmet meal we have decided on; and I’m not even joking here, I’m actually a really great cook and I’m so happy that I am. Then we turn on our show on whichever episode we left off on, set the table, and settle in for the rest of the evening.  We’ll get so obsessed with a series and we’ll talk about how we’re going to watch all six seasons. We’ll complete this routine day after day and put a serious dent into whichever show we have dedicated our extra time towards.

The series becomes our favorite.  We know all the characters and their quirks, we know the plot line, we recognize the foreshadowing, and the reappearance of characters in season 3 who briefly were introduced in the first episode of season 1.  We know the in’s and out’s of it.  It becomes a part of our daily lives.  We love it so much, we force ourselves to stay awake just to fit in one or two more episodes when we’d normally pass out hours earlier.  We’re committed to finishing it all the way until the season finale.  Judging from the time spent and from the outside looking in, a lot of people would bet for us and the success of our Netflix series.

But something always happens.

It’s like we’ll be going strong and then something comes up that will throw us off course, off our routine, and then it’s like we’ve forgotten about our commitment.  The series that we were so familiar with and that was made a part of our daily lives, just stops.  Unfinished. Slowly forgotten. Time spent becomes time wasted.  The details and remembrance of those details becomes a waste of memory.  Knowing this character’s voice, their habits, their sense of humor, and all their other traits becomes pointless.  Learning all of that stuff from the beginning becomes unimportant and insignificant.  All it does is remind you of future characters in future series of future shows that you’ll make the same commitment to finishing, start off strong, and slowly forget about after something throws you off course and breaks your routine and excitement towards that main character, his jokes, and his traits.

Does anybody ever finish a Netflix series these days?… I highly doubt it.

I guess maybe it’s time to go back to books.  I always was able to finish those.