La soledad

El mundo tiene una dura critica de la soledad. El mundo dice que quita la alegría, que niega la verdadera felicidad. Dice que la soledad es una cárcel designada para solitarios, un lugar de destierro. Cree que la soledad es una enemiga de la mente, que es un peligro del alma. Es un lugar donde se van a morir los que no tienen familia, ni amor. Es una cautividad sin escape, un pozo sin fondo, un infierno sin fin. El mundo dice que la soledad es una señal de la depresión. Tiene miedo de lo que la soledad le hace pensar, creer, y hacer. Siente que la soledad es alguien a quien hay que temer, prevenir, y eliminar. El mundo intenta someter a la soledad a si misma.

Pero el mundo está equivocado. El mundo no conoce a la soledad como yo la conozco. Ella no nos quita la alegría, ni la felicidad. Al contrario, nos deja la oportunidad de encontrarlas. Nos obliga pensar en lo que nos agrada, en lo que nos llena. No es una cárcel sino un refugio. Tampoco es un destierro. Todo lo contrario, es la única amiga que no nos abandona cuando el mundo nos destierra. Sólo los que tienen la mente débil le temen. Sólo los que poseen el alma hueca le tienen miedo. A los que les falta la familia y amor, la soledad estará allí sin fallar, para que nadie viva ni muera solo. Ella no es una cautividad sino una claridad. No es un pozo sino un reposo. Y no es un infierno sino un paraíso. No hay para qué preocuparse de ella. No hay para qué temerle, ni prevenirla, ni eliminarla. Lo que se debe hacer es esperarla, aceptarla, y disfrutarla. Porque la soledad es la persona más honesta, más reveladora, y más confiable que existe. Así que no le temas. Abrázala.

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To Be Free

Of all the places that I have ever breathed

Not one of them is left with the slightest piece of me

And though I carry with me every sight I’ve ever seen

I am free…

Stunning the volcano all covered up with snow

Off away in Neverland like dreams born of the soul

But there is no obstacle for which I’ll ever slow

Now watch me go…

In the past I don’t think I even gave a try

Discouraged by the doubts that clouded up my mind

All the fears I had, they ate me up inside

But I’ve arrived…

All the broken hopes that dwindled down to none

Have been relit by everything that I have overcome

Darkness, and loneliness, and the Devil I have stunned

Here I come…

The rivers and the valleys that I have had to bear

Were the only company along the road I’d share

But not for a moment did I leave myself out there

I’m not theirs…

Of all the places that I have yet to breathe

Not one of them a single shard of my soul will receive

For only to freedom will I finally concede

All of me…

Al aire libre

De todos los lugares que allá conocí
Ninguno se quedó con una parte de mí
Llevo conmigo cada uno de los que vi
Pero libre soy…

Lindo cubierto con nieve es el volcán
Lejano como sueños que jamás llegarán
Pero los desafíos no me detendrán
Pa’ allá me voy…

En el pasado no lo podía alcanzar
Desanimado por las dudas del azar
Todos los miedos me solían abrumar
Pero llegó hoy…

Las esperanzas rotas que antes yo llevé
Se han arreglado por todo lo que conquisté
Las tinieblas, la soledad, al diablo derroté
Tan fuerte soy…

Los mares, los valles que yo atravesé
Eran los únicos alientos que necesité
Pero en ningún momento a ellos me entregué
Adelante voy…

De todos los lugares que aún conoceré
Tampoco a ellos me entregaré
Porque a la libertad, al aire libre
Yo me doy…

Lo que somos

Nunca había podido imaginarme

            esta vida que me vuelve a sorprender;

Aún cuando me giro a mirar atrás,

            encuentro momentos en los cuales no puedo creer.

 

Había momentos en que me caí inesperadamente,

            chocando con una profunda oscuridad,

Pero igual había momentos de revelación,

            en que me rodeaba una fuerte claridad.

 

Había días en que prefería tener la noche

            y noches en que anhelaba ver el día;

Había experiencias de todos los tipos,

            y ni una de ellas cambiaría.

 

Soy lo que soy por lo que he visto

            y veo lo que veo por quien soy;

No me arrepiento de ningún momento,

            porque sin mi pasado no tendría mi hoy.

 

Mi futuro seguirá sorprendiéndome,

            y con eso me quedo más que contento,

Porque no somos lo que hicimos ni lo que haremos,

            sino que somos lo que hacemos en el momento.

My Life’s Soundtrack

Music is quite the spectacular thing, if you think about it. We listen to music almost nonstop. It plays from our computers and iPods; it’s blasting in our cars and in every store we walk into. Music is literally everywhere, and it comes and all shapes and sizes. What we live through truly affects the music we listen to, and likewise the music we listen to affects us back. There are songs, albums, and playlists that we listen to for a while and then forget, but there are some creations that stick with us forever. They essentially make up the soundtrack to our life. We hear a certain song and it transports us to a very specific time and place. It’s quite amazing what music can do, actually. So I decided to break down ten albums that have had a huge impact on my life. With each one comes a story or two about life, and what I learned along the way. Hope you enjoy.

So Natural

So Natural – Salvador

As I probably did with all of these albums, I remember listening to So Natural over and over again. It was the first Christian album that actually connected with me, and to this day I still know the songs. Salvador’s music was such an encouragement to me in one of the toughest times of life: high school. I had to make some difficult decisions, and the messages in their music helped me to stay focused on what’s truly important. They also helped me to learn a valuable life lesson, to live “For More Than Ourselves.” In my still-young journey of faith, I can look back and positively say that this album was a significant piece of the beginning.

Brushfire Fairytales

Brushfire Fairytales – Jack Johnson

This is simply a feel-good album. The rhythms are infectious and I remember being physically moved by them. Some of my fondest memories from high school hang-out days took place in the dark of the night, as we roamed all over town on longboards and rollerblades. The streets were usually empty but for our wide-breaking slalom turns down the biggest hills. Always with one headphone in, Jack Johnson played quite often. My old buddies and I did all sorts of typical teenage shenanigans, from “Mudfootball” to TPing. And though Brushfire Fairytales may be the things of dreams, some of them found their way into real life, and they were a blast.

Wide-Eyed

Wide-Eyed and Mystified – Downhere

Downhere was a group unbeknownst to me until I was introduced by my aunt. She gave me a couple of their albums and I was hooked. I regret not seeing them in concert when I had the chance, but I’m still blessed by their music. I was specifically hooked on this album, Wide-Eyed and Mystified, my freshman year of college, and there couldn’t be a more fitting title. I was certainly opened to a whole new world when I headed off to college, and this album helped keep me grounded. It also taught me a very important lesson that still resonates in my heart: “Little is Much” when God’s in it. We don’t always have a say in the hand we’re dealt, but we can make two life-changing decisions with that hand: make the best of what we’ve got, and give it all to God. This is a solid album by a stellar group of guys and it has served me in more ways than one.

Let Them Talk

Let Them Talk – Hugh Laurie

I think this was honestly the first time in my life that sat and listened to an entire album without doing anything else. Don’t get me wrong, I love listening to music, and I do it quite often, but I’m almost always doing something else at the same time. Whether it’s reading, writing, running, or driving in my car, music is always an accompaniment to another activity. But I remember sitting in the living room and just thoroughly breathing in this album. Its creativity and talent are astounding. It’s perfect music for a rainy day, or a long day, or any other day for that matter. Let Them Talk is Hugh Laurie’s pure genius, and I jump back to it fairly often. All of the tracks are engaging, but the title track is super clutch: “Let Them Talk,” because we are who we are, and that’s all we need to be.

Drunken Lullabies

Drunken Lullabies – Flogging Molly

This album takes me straight back to my apartment, senior year of college. Without a doubt, the guys I lived with are the best buds I’ll ever have. We weren’t just friends, we were brothers. I remember so many good nights, driving around town, hanging out in the apartment, playing Madden and Rock Band, having a good beer, and just enjoying life together. Drunken Lullabies was a hallmark of that year; it was always blasting in our apartment and in the car. It’s just fun music to listen to. It reminds me of what really were the good old times, or as Flogging Molly puts it, “The Rare Ould Times.”

Young Love

Young Love – Mat Kearney

Ever since this album, Mat Kearney has been one of the most played artists in my musical library. It also inspired me to rediscover and appreciate his older stuff. What this particular album reminds me of is running Azusa’s streets. When I started college I hated running in Azusa. It was all squares and rectangles with stoplights every four feet. But by the end of my college career, I loved running Azusa. I would go somewhere different every time, take whichever streets I wanted, and map my route when I got back. I would just put in my headphones and get lost. Young Love helped me to get lost plenty of times, and I loved every second of it. One song in particular blows my mind, and that’s “Count On Me.” Thankfully, I know I can always count on Mat to pump out quality music.

Good Old War

Good Old War – Good Old War

Here’s an album by an incredibly original, harmonic band. They’ve got super catchy tunes and impressive harmonies. I continue listening to their stuff today, but this album takes me back to my last semester of college. It was a time of celebrating and moving on at the same time, and it’s fitting that many of the lyrics from Good Old War are bittersweet. I’m reminded of a good relationship that was cut too short, driving with the music up and windows down, as well as amazing times student teaching. All in all, it was a spectacular window in my life, but I came to grips with the fact that it was time to move on. Hence the thought, “I Should Go.” Again, it’s bittersweet, but a classic album to remind me of good times.

The Lumineers

The Lumineers – The Lumineers

This is an album that’s become overly popular in recent months, but I was plugged into it while away in the Colorado Rockies. A few summers ago I went to visit a best bud out in Colorado. I had a lot of alone time during the trip, but it didn’t matter one bit. I had the absolutely stunning Rocky Mountains and The Lumineers to keep me company. Another folksy album, these guys really draw me in with their originality. A bit quirky, but all they’re all the more enjoyable because of it. Their songs are mostly upbeat but one in particular is quick to remind me: “Slow It Down.” This album takes me back to the still beauty of Colorado, and that’s not a bad place to be transported to.

Love War Sea In Between

Love & War & The Sea In Between – Josh Garrels

I’m just going to say it outright: this is my favorite album of all time. Without a doubt, it has had the biggest impact on my life of any album I’ve ever listened to. This is music that speaks directly to my soul. Josh sings in the most convicting way you’ll ever hear anyone sing. Love & War & The Sea In Between is exactly as it sounds. There’s such a span of style and content from one track to the next, but Josh’s artistry flows seamlessly throughout. His music is beautiful, sometimes hauntingly so, and his lyrics are a thoughtful, literary master class. The way he weaves his pieces together is beyond me. But that’s perfectly okay. I’m still able to take it all in, and revel in every minute of it. And that’s exactly the message he gives in my favorite song of his. He talks about how confusing life can be. It’s so far over our heads that we can’t fathom half of what’s out there. But we can take peace in the God who’s watching over us, because “Farther Along” we’ll be ushered into His glory, and all will be revealed. So sit back, enjoy the ride, and make some good music along the way.

Christmas Sessions

The Christmas Sessions – MercyMe

Last but not least, I’ve got a Christmas album on here. MercyMe’s music is Christian go-to. And while I am a fan of quite a few of their songs, I can’t say that I’m in love with any one of their albums. The Christmas Sessions, however, are perhaps my favorite Christmas album of all time. I love every song on there. I’ll listen to this album even when it’s not Christmas. They’ve found the perfect balance of over-the-top, yuletide joy and the true meaning of Christmas. Their typical style is always apparent but never overshadowing, and their heart bursts through in every song. Ultimately, this album takes me home, to my family. It reminds me of life and love, and every good thing I’ve been blessed with, including music. Along with this album, I will be singing “Gloria” for a long, long time.

The Universal Journey

Sometimes we set out on the world, bent on finding adventure. We pack what we feel we’ll need for the journey, whether it’s a backpack full of gear or simply a free spirit. Some choose to bid farewell to loved ones while others opt for the open road. Some are running away from fears while others are running directly towards them. But what each wanderer possesses within is a vagabond soul, an insatiable appetite for seeing the unseen, for trekking the untrekked.  

We circle globes, we cross oceans, we traverse deserts, we bridge canyons, all in search of some uncharted place. We imagine a cavern that’s never been entered, a lagoon that’s never been swum in, or a vast expanse of field that’s never been stomped on. What we seek is liberation: to be released from what before held so tightly onto us. What we seek is exhilaration: to breathe in a way so deep and profound that what enters our lungs is not air but pure peace. And what we seek is revelation: a genuine, honest-to-God encounter with a truth not even slightly marred by the rest of the world. 

This liberation is felt in the mind, when we reach that place where nothing is holding us back, where neither past nor future infringe on the moment in front of us. This exhilaration is felt in the spirit, when we see something in an entirely new light, regardless of whether we’ve stared it in the face thousands of times before. And this revelation is felt in the soul, when the peace of the moment intertwines ever so delicately with everything we’ve ever known, when past wounds are healed up and future doubts are unclouded, when we’ve come face to face with some mountain, or some river, or some other human being, and we realize that what we’ve been seeking all along, what we left home to look for, was right within us the entire time.

We only needed someone, or something, or some experience, to point us in the right direction: not out in the world, but inward. 

It’s there that we discover this inherent, desperate, undeniable need to share, whether with a dear friend or a complete stranger, because all souls in this world have a common chord running through them. In each body it manifests itself differently. In each life it finds its way to the surface at different times and through different means. Some are eager to let it flow forth while others tend to bury it somewhere deep. But in each soul it’s crafted just the same.  

Some of us find this truth peering over an immense gorge, filled with colors and sounds beyond description. Some of us find this truth surrounded by a dancing village, singing in an unfamiliar language. Some of us find this truth staring ourselves in the mirror, until that calloused case over our eyes breaks down and reveals what’s always been tenderly tucked behind it.

This truth, depicted simultaneously in hauntingly beautiful vistas, vibrantly joyous celebrations, and eerily authentic loneliness, is captured in no more than one word, and that is this: love. 

We all have this desire, rooted within us, to be loved. From the earliest years of life to the last few, it’s clearly seen. But what many of us set out on the globe to look for is the other half of that desire: not just to be loved, but to love. 

To love is to find all at once liberation, exhilaration, and revelation. To love wholly and completely is to experience all at once what we each set out to find: freedom, and joy, and truth.