Saturday, December 27, 2014

In Defense of the Firsts

I've been wanting to make this post for a little over two years now, and I finally have enough words to make it salient. This would be one of the “Things I wish I could tell myself five years ago” bits.

My recent job with UPS gave me a large amount of firsts, which I have no small shame in admitting I am late to experiencing. I was a Driver Helper, which meant that I would be the legs of the individual package delivery car, whilst my driver was the wheels and brains. I had my first physical overexertion, my first dependence on my own making of meals, my first experience with “customers”, my first avoiding mauling my a dog, my first understanding of a global enterprise, my first appreciation of my strength and the strength of machinery, and my first reliance on set breakfast consumption.

I list all of these firsts to show a maturation. A few years ago, I noticed a large barrier to my success was trusting myself to carry out the task. I was a millennial Da Vinci: I never finished anything because I didn't have faith in my own abilities. Even now, I can count on both hands the initiatives I started in the last five years and never carried to completion. These shames can cripple one's want to step out once again onto the shaky limb of initiative. The brain remembers all guilts and embarrassments, and it is good that it does. These can become lessons, but often they become tombstones. Let me give an example.

One instance occurred in the Summer between my Senior or Junior year of high school. We were at a beach retreat and I heard a calling from God during the session inside. I ran out onto the beach, onto my knees and looked up. I saw all seven sisters of Pleiades – cementing my understanding that I was being contacted by the Holy. God commanded me to do X. I subconsciously inflated that to 2X, without realizing it, and said “you want 2X? I'll give you 20X!” Since you never saw me in the news, you can rest assured that I failed that calling.

Since that failure, I have had a deep-seated insecurity with my own word. My promise was very rarely given, and every initiative I started was met quickly with the cynic in my mind, callously declaring my failure at every turn. I started dialogues with this cynic, and we are good friends.

I recently assumed a pragmatic mannerism about this, though: if I am to excel in this world, or even survive, I must confront this insecurity. How can my words be made trusted by he who speaks them? How can the porn addict, who says “I am free!” one day, and the next night, “I am in shackles!”, ever begin the harsh journey to holiness? How is he to hear the calm voice of hope call through the morass of cynicism which has such a bed in his heart?

You see, when one cannot trust one's mind to honor one's word, one becomes mistrusting of oneself. Much like you would become untrusting of your right leg if it were to be constantly going numb on you. The leper knows not if his or her arms will do as he or she says, and is thus fearful to trust them.

Looking at the alternatives of suicide or breakthrough, it took a short inquiry to understand that the latter was the amicable choice; I am not ill, merely confused. So, I needed a ledger of things I followed through on, that I succeeded in. A ledger stacked against the perceived failures, to outweigh and topple them. My cynic needed evidence of my promise. And so, I sought out these firsts. Many of which I have yet to complete, but every small first puts me closer to overpowering these shames. If not the quality of the firsts, then the quantity thereof will be my sandbags against this storm.

Never stop seeking firsts, friends. Failures are also firsts. Every thing that you do is a first in some way, and gives you further reason to further contribute, and to further discover more firsts. It is either this or the morass of hopelessness – a pool from which I drink from time to time, just to ponder its vacuousness. We as humans are too important to waste too much time, however, on the pondering of the hopeless. God gave us too much potential. We must merely convince our hearts of that truth, which is likely among humanity's greatest struggles.

I could probably add more to this, and I likely will. I find my best writing comes in my sleeplessness, and tonight's is thanks to the dryer which neglected to dry my sheet.  

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