Dear Groomsman Candidate

This is the email I used to ask some friends and relatives to be in my wedding party. Oh, did I forget to mention that I’m about to get married? (Okay, I actually used their name instead of “Groomsman Candidate”.)

Dear Groomsman Candidate,

You are invited to go through this nightmare/wedding-planning-time with me. I am offering you the role of groomsman. I believe you either have experience playing this role or have seen other people fail at trying to do so. I have done pretty much everything at a wedding except be the groom, so I’m going to be the groom this time. We are wearing suits and ties, also shoes. No, you cannot use the goods or services that I owe you as leverage to become the groom instead. Thank you for understanding.

P.S. – You may also have to sign a form stating that you are not liable for lying when the officiator asks if anyone has anything to speak now or hold their peace about.

P.P.S. – I promise we will have a party, or at least go to a restaurant and watch other people partying.

Let me know if I need to rent a cardboard cutout of Jabba the Hutt instead.

I mean this in a very serious way.

-Trent

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A Museum Called LIFE

“My sisters told me I was Elvis’ lovechild.”

We chatted outside of the pro-life meeting we had just left. She looked, sounded, and had an unnaturally skinny husband like a smoker. He wore a Kansas City Royals ball cap with the plastic tag still sticking out like a miniature feather. He stood off to the side leaning towards the way home. He looked unperturbed by this admission of questionable lineage. I was afraid a breeze would come and do more than rustle his long sandy hair.

The woman wasn’t entirely sure. Her mother had gone dancing with Elvis. Elvis liked her. Her father was deployed in the Navy. The timing of her birth didn’t really put any suspicions to rest. Who would ever know?

As I write this, 2 of my 13 siblings are laying on the floor, their shirts pulled up, watching lady bugs crawl up their bellies. “They can sleep in your bellybutton!” cries the girl to her brother.

These scenes remind me of a quote by Charles Jennings, the father of Peter Jennings – formerly of ABC News and this world. “Everyone has a story if you will listen to them,” is my paraphrase.

Or as Ray Bradbury put it,

“Stuff your eyes with wonder, he said, live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories.”

Maybe you are listening to other people admit the most fantastic details of their life, like the long-haired smoker. Or maybe you are like me and you are nodding and asking questions and giving the tale-teller your undivided attention. Or maybe you are the museum guide, explaining your life, making the details come to life in interactive displays. If all the world can be a stage, it can also be a museum with living, changing displays. And if it’s a museum, how will you curate your exhibit? How will you arrange the displays of the persons who interact with you and leave their displays in your life/exhibit? These are questions that inspire excitement within me. This museum might not be free, but it will be full of wonder.

[By the way, did you know a synonym for the noun form of “exhibit” is “show”? I might write about that next…]

Thankful for Dreamers

I’m thankful for counsel and wisdom. I don’t like advice much, but I take it. I’ve discovered that free advice is about as good as advice you have to pay for, so I’m thankful for the free kind when it’s offered to me.

I’m thankful for reality checks. They aren’t real checks, otherwise I might actually have some money, but they do give perspective.

But most of all, I’m thankful for wild dreams and the people who dream them. Counsel is good; reality checks are annoying; wisdom is best; but wild dreamers are the people who can see the Rubik’s cube completed. They’re the ones, who if they accept wisdom, true wisdom and not that collection of cliche’d claptrap everyone mindlessly transmits in order to move their conversations along to more shiny subjects, can fit the counsel with reality into its place and see the big dream come true.

Yes, I’m thankful for dreamers who are realists. That’s a rare combination. But I’ve found these dreaming realists, and they are the folks I am most thankful for this Thanksgiving, because they remind me that I am not alone. I only hope I will remind them that they are not alone either. We’re in this crazy world with our dreams, and our realistic brains, and best of all, God, and we’re in it together.

Memorabilia

“I’m one of the AFP conference participants who is having an issue with an incorrect reservation. David Huber just spoke with you, he was the other guy experiencing difficulties. His issue was cleared up and he’s getting into his room. Are you planning to come to the Hyatt Regency lobby?”

I just discovered this draft of an unsent text message from when I went to a conference in Dallas earlier this year. It’s funny how a few words bring the whole experience back. I can feel all the panic  about my hotel reservation getting botched, and all the relief when I figured out a solution to that problem, and the annoyance I felt because the person who had made the reservation and had the power to fix my problem was taking forever to arrive and now didn’t need to come because I had solved the problem myself and people were waiting on me to meet with this problem solver/creator so that I could take then to Walmart and…

As boring as it seems, the text is a fragment of a very interesting story. It’s a story with a good ending, as it turns out, because the last day of the conference was fantastic.

Time to Live

Recently, someone asked me if I believed in dancing. I actually get this question surprisingly often. When I say my church is Baptist, people ask me this. They ask it in funny ways too. “You aren’t one of those Baptists who doesn’t drink or dance are you?” That’s literally how people ask me that question. This always astonishes me. Of all the things you could be a proponent of, drinking and dancing? I thought something intrinsically valuable would be something people would stand up for, something like life, or penguins, but no, drinking and dancing.

The last time I got asked about dancing I sorta lied. I said I didn’t believe in dancing. But I do. I do! I went dancing just the other day. I danced on Interstate 35. And I don’t know if you’ve ever seen a 15 passenger van grind, but that day mine did – ground at 85 miles an hour. I know the sign said 65, but it was the kind of grinding that required 85. 85 mile-an-hour grinding has more octane, more passion, more, more.

My van shimmied and swayed. And I nearly twirled around the corners. The choreography was beautiful: 18-wheelers changing lanes in sync with vans and sedans, partner exchanging partner, and on the line dance went, the weaving, the spinning, the noise, the lights.

And my van shuddered, shuddered I think for the love of just being there among the teeming loud, oh so beautifully loud, hurrying people, hurrying, yes, but dancing, maybe subconsciously, but dancing, really dancing.

In a film about soccer, a player said that soccer is dancing. But I think dancing is so much more than a sport. Dancing is an expression of life. To dance is to say, “I am purposefully living,” because you can’t really dance on accident. You can jump, you can skip, you can lose and find your balance on accident, but you can only dance purposefully, because dancing is unnatural. When you dance you take your gangly legs and make them follow your feet in a frenzy of fast motions. (Well, that’s the way I dance.) It’s weird and bizarre. And you only do it for one reason: to feel alive. You feel the wind your limbs make as they flap about. Your blood flows faster; you breathe faster; your heart beats wilder, and you live.

Pollyanna heard her schedule of chores and studying and exclaimed: “But when do I have time to live?” And this is my question to you: when do you take time to live, really live?

Reminders

I’m reminded when I drink coffee, I’m reminded at Chick-fil-A,

And every time I see the date of a special-magic day.

There’s the word mega, and there’s a certain hat,

Reading email at 4 a.m., and little things like that.

There’s a certain name that I see everywhere,

There’s a certain Bible study with it’s occasional despair,

A test, a time of day, a promise made with care,

These remind me of a friend, and an accompanying prayer.

 

That green light in Gmail, that I sometimes get to see,

Chocolate, coupons, and yes, bologna,

A song I’m not sure about, and a familiar route,

These remind me of a friend I never will forget about.

Plans…

Once again, I write on time and plans. And once again, I write in the car…

Actually, never mind, just watch the movie Bella. Or better yet, just watch this trailer: http://youtu.be/9gkLt-Tjgz4

(With a smidgen of imagination, you can deduce the necessary plot elements, especially if you know that it’s a pro-life film. The plot isn’t really the point anyway. My reason for sharing is really a subplot of the film, which is explained in the last scene of the trailer.)