Tag Archives: Family

Time Capsules

A moment in time. March 31, 2012.

There is one truth I am sure of as I grow older: some things you just can’t understand at a younger age.

It’s not that you are dumb or the things you feel are not true or real – there are just some things that take time to understand, and time is not something that you can manufacture, or learn from a textbook, or garner from YouTube videos. Some things only become clear after many years have passed and you look backwards, into the time capsules of life, and the events and experiences you see there get processed through all of that time – and ONLY then – do those events and experiences reveal their true nature and beauty.

So it’s ironic that for some, the moment this clarity arrives – so too, does death.  For some, it never arrives at all.

Another random moment. April 1, 2012

Somewhere In Between

My 30’s are winding down. This year I turned 36, which is neither old nor young, but somewhere in between. And somewhere in between (from my experience) is often the hardest place to be in. Hard because you are neither here nor there. You are neither looking ahead at the endless possibilities of the future, nor are you reflecting back on the entirety of your life. You are usually traipsing along,working your shifts, keeping kids alive, regretting your past, nervous about your future, and extremely unsure about your present.

I’m not sure I have anything good to say about these years. The first 10 years of parenting has been exhausting. Three daughters in (almost 11, 9 and 6) and I feel spent. The day to day is enjoyable most of the time, but I often feel like I am riding a short roller-coaster, knowing the end of the ride is just minutes away, trying to hold on to the exhilaration of the loops and turns without thinking too much that the ride will end before I have barely understood that it started. A lot of the time, I am just holding on and watching the world fly by, attempting to take it all in – but unsure I am doing a good job at whatever job it is I’m supposed to be doing while hurtling through space on this little giant blue pearl.

Two Sisters before the 3rd. April 20, 2012.

I often hear people lament, “where has the time gone?” and this sentiment is only truly understood after years and years have slipped through our fingers, time being one of the few things you can’t truly replace. Once it is gone, it is gone. Our memories (and photography) the only link to the past – the time capsules we go back to time and again. And I stare at these photos, and I remember the day. The wind. The smell of the flowering plant above them. The shadows on the ground. The anticipation of our third daughter coming within the next month. And looming over my oldest, just a month later, a seizure that would shape our lives for the next 6 years. These moments, the time capsules, nobody really cares – except me. Nobody really mourns the moment’s death – except those who experienced them.

We are told to live in the present – but living in the present means forgetting the past, and the past is when we were alive. I mean, sure, we are alive now – but to only focus on the present means we miss out on the clarity that is only gained when we look backwards, through the looking glass, into the shadows.

Just another day, buried in stuffies. May 1, 2012.

It’s not that I focus on the end. Really. I mean it. Day to day, I’m not thinking about death and the end of it all. But when I stop and consider where I am at and where I have come from, I can’t help but pause and consider… the end.

The quick slip into nothing. The frozen sleep which never ends. It’s inevitable, so they say.

I just want to live a full life. That’s always been my goal. A full and complete life, full of adventure and laughter. Full of friendships and selflessness. A life that is worth living. I gave up on the dream of being remembered long ago, but all I hope is that my fingerprints – the invisible effect of my life’s work – are on those around me whom I love and have served, and the qualities I have worked to attain over the years are passed down, or passed on to them.

Caution. Trail ends. May 3, 2012.
Ice forms on a backyard bench, a symbol of depression.

Ice Storms (A.K.A Depression)

There is a phenomenon that occurs at least once a year in Portland, Oregon: Freezing Rain. Basically: it snows, then warms up just enough to turn into slush and rain, then freezes overnight and sometimes for days at a time and everything gets layered with a thick coating of heavy ice.

Frozen hanging lights.

Ice Storms

Somewhere between the joy of light fluffy snow and the depression of endless rainy days, there are these strange ice storms which literally shut down the city. Schools close. Public Transit stops. Businesses shut down.  People stay inside. Because, in snow you can put on chains and drive, or walk to the park with your kids and your sleds and enjoy a snow day.

But Ice Storms.

Even with chains it is hard to get around. The streets are covered in ice, and it becomes very risky to try and go anywhere.  Tree branches get entombed in ice, like giant icicles creaking under the weight of frozen water and just waiting to come crashing down to the world below. The sidewalks glisten, like a freshly cleaned ice skating rink after the Zamboni has done it’s duty, awaiting the prideful who think they have what it takes to run on ice.

It is a strange phenomenon. It is cold, isolating and lonely.

Frozen Japanese Maple Tree

Frozen Movement

It is a little like getting sick. Your world shuts down and you are forced to stop normal routines and sit with yourself. Whatever fluid “self” you had been ignoring or disregarding or unaware of because of your busy life, now coagulates and rises to the surface and you are forced to acknowledge its existence. Like the ice outside, your life becomes frozen, like a photograph, and there is nothing to do but sit and stare at it.

This stillness is a good thing, for the most part, if only for a while. These ice storms are not that bad, unless they last for weeks, at which point one might go mad from the lack of movement and activity.  But in small doses they are essential for being able to slow down, stop, and focus on the person who dwells in your body. The voice which is used to congratulate, console, condemn, and conjure.  The facial expressions we have mastered but are completely unaware of (which our children read on a daily basis).  The body language as well; the sighing, the slouching, the sagging, the defeat.

Frozen plants.

The “D” Word

It has a name, you know? This invisible poison that only becomes visible when we stop and look for it. It’s name is: Depression.

I know, what a dirty word. What a downer!

“I am not depressed!”, I know YOU aren’t. But I think I am, and you know what? It’s okay. It happens.

It happens when, for 9 years you have been in constant movement; literally and figuratively. Having kids, moving states, changing careers, having more kids, moving states again, having another kid, moving states again, working alone, volunteering, working, working, working.

Movement. Constant, movement.

Have you ever lost yourself in activity? Music. Shows and Movies. Facebook. Roller coasters. Long drives. Painting. Puzzles. Video games. MOVEMENT.

Because, god only knows what will settle and appear when we stop and the dust clears.

Self portrait: documenting the wrinkles.

The Great Melt

Nobody does it on purpose.

Well, I didn’t. I just kept swimming. Which is good, for a while. Until the ice storms of our lives occur, these strange phenomenons, which unveil the soft underbelly of our constant moving selves, and we are pierced by the realization that we are sad, we are lonely, we are getting older and the reality of our irrelevance becomes paramount, and we weep or just stare into the void searching for meaning and significance. 

But eventually, as I have learned countless times in my life, the ice melts. Warmer weather (health) returns and we start moving again. And it is then that we have choices: Ignore the revelations and let the constant movement of day-to-day life cover any track of that dirty little “D”-word, or take a snapshot and carry it with us, in remembrance of what was revealed in the ice, who we really are under all the layers and the reality we carry with us beyond the facade of normalcy.

With this entry, I choose the latter.

The ice is almost melted… the movement is returning. Here’s to a new beginning.

The End of Summer

Do you remember the best summer of your life?

I’m trying hard to remember mine. When I was 16 or 17, I probably could have told you… but now that I’m double those years… it’s hard to even know which summer was which: they all blur together.

There were elementary school summers where I went over to my friends house (who lived around the corner) almost every day and played video games, ate red vines, drank coke and went swimming in his pool. We lived off Kraft macaroni and cheese and Top Ramon. I would get pissed off when I lost at Mortal Kombat or Baseball Stars and go home angry, only to call my friend twenty minutes later and return for a game of backyard basketball (I usually lost that too).

There were summers in middle school and early high school when I went to camp in the mountains. Those were “coming of age” summers, full of crushes, overcoming fears of nature and the great outdoors, finding my faith and finding my voice.

Then there were summers in late high school and early college where I traveled to South America on missions trips with my church group.  My eyes began to open to the vastness of human experience and how secluded I was in my little suburban Southern Californian town. I found my heart, my soul, and my acceptance of those different than me.

There was the summer after graduating high school, when I went to Hawaii with two of my best friends for a week of “being free” from school, my parents, relationships, everything. Just us, the ocean, the beaches, and as many resort hotel pools and spas as we could sneak in. I think we nearly died multiple times on that trip, but I made it home alive although super reluctant to start college (Jr. College).

There was the summer of 2002, after my first year of college, where I traveled to Chile (one of the most amazing trips I have ever been on), and came home to my Grandma dying, and shortly after that, my lung collapsed spontaneously, which left a scar deeper than just a physical scar. It would leave me counting my breath for years and years to come, always fearful of the possible collapse of my body. That summer burns bright in my memories.

Then there was the summer of 2004, when I worked at a summer camp with three amazing friends. I learned so much about myself that summer, about who I wanted to be, who I was becoming, and who I definitely did NOT want to be. I remember late nights of philosophy and theology over a bowl of Lucky Charms. I remember reading Siddhartha, and a New Kind of Christian – both of which really opened up my mind on religion and spirituality. I got engaged that summer, and forever tied myself to my wife. It was, looking back on it, a monumental summer.

The mid 2000’s were spent working as a Youth Pastor, planning trips, summer camps, and weekly activities and youth groups. In 2008, I led my first mission trip to Peru with a group of high schoolers. It would be my last and final summer as a Youth Pastor.

That same summer, the summer of 2008 – my wife and I moved to Portland, Oregon with our oldest (and then, only) daughter.  The old Southern Californian summers were gone now. Replaced by a completely new meaning of summer. A respite from the rain. A few short months filled with sunshine before the clouds and showers came again. In Portland, summer became a time of relaxing, traveling, refreshing… and sweating.

In 2009, we bought a home and welcomed our second daughter.

In 2010, I started my freelance web development business.

In 2011, we moved to Santa Cruz.

In 2013, we moved back to Portland.

2014, 2015, now 2016. In the books. Those three years, much of the same. The girls take a trip down to Santa Cruz to visit my wife’s parents. We do some weekend trips to the coast, we play outside, we go to the park, we try and stay cool, we play, play, play.

For my daughters, it’s their elementary school year summers… and we’re back again. Everyday they asked if they could see if they could play with our neighbor friends.

And now it comes to an end. Another summer, in the books.  They seem a little more uneventful these days (for me). That’s what happens when you work full-time. Summer just becomes months where it’s warm outside but you can’t go out and play because you are stuck inside working. It’s a little different for me, with kids and a teacher wife, so there is that end of school year / beginning of summer and then the close of summer and the start of school again. But they begin to blend into one another.

I’m looking forward to the cooler months. That’s become a thing. At the end of each summer, I welcome the cooler air, the leaves changing color, the rain settling in, and the start of a long, cold, wet Autumn/Winter.  But that coldness, that wetness is what I am used to – and what I love. It gets hard towards the end, but the summer is just the right shortness. Enough to refresh, but just long enough where you start to look forward to the changing season.

And here I am, at the end of this post. I really though it would be more reflective and deep. I guess I am losing my insightfulness to old age (and parenting). Perhaps I am deeply depressed, a combination of things that has made me lose feeling… lose perspective (save for moments here and there). Perhaps time has become a blur and it is hard to pinpoint moments of clarity and “life changing” moments. Does life change happen after you turn 30?