Thursday, August 29, 2013

Life Is Fragile .

I got an email from the Clemson servers today entitled: "OBITUARY: Rachel McBryde Kam-Johnson". Moments before I had gotten texts from some of my friends that said "RKJ is dead... What the fuck... I can't even..."

Rachel Kam-Johnson, a 21 year old at Clemson, died on August 28th, 2013 in a car accident.

My heart sank as I realized it was someone I knew. I had seen the obituary emails before. And quickly I began to feel like a terrible person, because I had always really discounted them pretty quickly. As with most of the email from Clemson, off it would go, into the trash bin, without a second thought. But this time was different. My eyes grew wide and a knot in my stomach began to form as I read the name. Boy does that obituary email hit home when the name is someone you know.

A year ago, I was a part of the Central Spirit organization on campus. I had been since freshman year, and after my first semester freshman year I took up a leadership position on the Board of Directors as the webpage guy. Rachel, affectionately known by myself and friends as RKJ, joined the organization either in my junior or senior year. To be honest I can't remember which. I never knew her super well, but I definitely knew who she was.

She was a regular, active member. She came to all the meetings, always wore a bright smile on her face, brought energy to the room and gave much of her time to the organization, whether it was helping out with balloons, coming to tailgates, or devoting her time to the First Friday float. Always with a positive attitude, Rachel brought something truly special to our organization. She exemplified the true qualities of what a member should be like in Central Spirit, and exemplified the true character of how a person should be in life.

I regret not spending more time to get to know her. I regret not treasuring her efforts and thanking her for all she did. No one will have that opportunity more. And lest I forget, as I sit here as a mild friend, her boyfriend and family lay in their beds tonight, distraught over losing the one they love most. Words cannot possibly explain how they must feel right now. I feel for them immensely, and will be praying for them and for Rachel.

Life is fragile. These three words are so easy to remember and yet we so often forget them. We wait until an abrupt event is suddenly staring us down, painting shock on our faces, and as the tears roll on, we wonder how we could forget about death, we wonder how we could possibly move forward, and we wonder how death could possibly take someone so young, and with so much left to live for.

Unfortunately, this scenario is all too familiar to Clemson, let alone the state, or the country. Accidents and shootings plague universities and the all too brutal fact of the matter is that shit happens. We can't stop it. Just try to learn from it, and to uphold and remember those who have already passed.

Death is not fair. It is not kind, it is not forgiving, and it strikes without warning. While those who pass on to whatever lies after this life, may we heed their passing as a reminder and a warning that our time on this Earth is limited. And whether you live to be 100 and die peacefully in your sleep, or fall victim to a terrible crime or accident, we never know when it's going to happen. Be prepared every waking moment. Don't hold grudges, instead offer forgiveness. Don't spew anger, be calm. Do not hold back your heart, allow yourself to love and be loved. And above all, live life abundantly.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Emotions and All That Shit .

Wrote this a couple of nights ago and wanted to share it here. Enjoy:

"There is something almost frightening about when you realize you have feelings for someone. Your heart beats faster, whether you see them or just hear their name. Though your mind constantly wanders, it always ends up centered back on that person's face. You find yourself trying to find ways to make them smile and laugh, and think up extravagant plans that would make them melt. Your palms may sweat when you're with them, and the littlest thing that they do, whether a cute sideways glance or something else, makes you become like jelly inside. You realize how beautiful they are, and it's all you can do to refrain from holding them until the day you die. A slight brush of your hands or a moment where you lock eyes can send butterflies permanently into your stomach and all the way up your throat. The worst part, though, is not knowing. Not knowing if it's all for real, not knowing how they feel, not knowing what "the answer" might be should you choose to ask them out.

But all of that -- all of that is worth it. No matter how many shirts you sweat through, no matter how many times you can't eat because your stomach is flip flopping, no matter how many times people get ticked at you that you're not listening and instead you're daydreaming about a girl, it's all worth it -- because in the end you have a shot at being with someone who makes you truly happy. Being with someone who loves you for you, supports you, encourages you, makes you laugh and smile, holds your hand, and kisses you with the softest lips. Having that is priceless. Having that in your life, makes life worth living. A person that gets you, a person that can dish the shit as well as they can take it, a person that shares your core values and understands who you are and what you're all about.

Nerves? Frightening. Dates? Terrifying. But love? Worth it."

Lucid Dreaming .

For many of us, dreaming is one of those things that is entirely out of our control and that we can't really change. You dream what you dream, and it's all up in the air whether you remember it or not. But apparently, there is something called lucid dreaming. It's when you actually trick your body into falling asleep, but your mind is not actually in the same state, and you can basically control your dreams. It's a pretty wild concept.

Naturally, I just had to try it out. After reading up on it a bit, I learned a bit about the process of going to sleep. Your body wants to get comfortable. This is why in bed you often need to change positions, roll over, shake something out, or twitch. This is the mind's way of testing the body to see if it's ready to go to sleep. When all is said and done, your body eventually decides, yes, you are ready to sleep, and the lights go out. However, the trick to this lucid dreaming deal is to stay completely and totally still. (This is the part where my knowledge is a bit faded, so if someone knows, please fill me in) I gathered from my reading that at this point, your body sort of thinks it is already asleep -- and therefore rushes right into REM, the point of the sleep cycle where we have dreams. The mind follows suit, sort of, but stays awake enough for us to be aware of what's going on, and, believe or not, have a "say" in what happens in the dream.

My dreams are usually pretty bizarre. They contain events and people that, on their own, would make sense, but the combination of everything makes it unrealistic and almost a bit crazy. Dreams to me always feel "fuzzy" when I'm in them. As if I'm moving through water and I can't see clearly. Maybe even like how a person who wears glasses feels when they first wake up (groggy and perhaps a little bit on the blind side). Regardless of the clarity though, I never feel like I can take control of what's going on. I am always restrained, handicapped of my will.

I decided this lucid dreaming deal might be really cool to play around with, and started trying it out. Literally, though, you have to basically drop dead once you're in bed. No movements whatsoever. I think, that to some degree, I've gotten it to work, sort of. But I have never woken up saying "wow, I was totally in control of that dream!". I think it really takes time and practice, a training session of the mind basically. Some nights, I don't really bother. I just let my body do what it wants to when I get in bed. But the nights I feel adventurous, I actually try it. Even if you don't have complete control over your dreams - I still seem to remember my dreams a lot better this way. I'm talking lots of details!

If you're feeling bold tonight as you're going to bed, why not give it a try?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Unwavering Faith .

My friend Brandon is one of the strongest people that I know. I'm not talking physically... I'm talking spiritually. When I first met him, I saw the things that most people probably see -- the athleticism, the goofy jokes, the Air Force uniform. What I didn't realize is the depth and profundity of his relationship with Jesus. Since I realized that Brandon had this other deep side to him, I have been inspired, motivated, and eager to maintain a solid spiritual relationship.

I think that there is a part of me that is struggling with that. That struggles to connect, that struggles to talk... But there is also a part of me that yearns for connection, and I think that Brandon was really brought into my life to reinforce that side.

I haven't been to church in a few weeks. To the extreme Catholic, maybe this is blasphemous. But years ago I adopted a philosophy that if you weren't getting anything out of church, then you shouldn't go. Granted, sometimes you can be missing out on an opportunity to spark interest or thought. But in this case, I just needed a break. This doesn't mean that I want to stop praying, or give up Catholicism. It's actually the exact opposite. I think distancing myself a little bit will give me a chance to "miss" the things that I like about church. More importantly though, there is something about my church in Jersey that is just so blasé. It's not my cup of tea. And so I'm hoping I can find something a bit better in Oregon.

Brandon has some of the strongest faith in anyone I know. He is trusting, knowing that God will point him in the right direction, even if that sometimes means suffering a bit. He knows that someone is always looking out for him. And in almost every conversation we have, he reminds me that, above all else, God is good. It's great to be able to talk to someone about anything. It's great to share my religion with someone who feels so strongly about it.

But you know what the best part is? He's humble about it. He doesn't rub anything in your face. I didn't even know he was religious at all until I really got to know him. I think, at the end of the day, Brandon exemplifies the qualities that are meant to be present in a truly good person. What about you guys? Got any friends that truly inspire and time and again blow your mind away?

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Dreams .

If there is one thing that rings true with me to tonight it is to never give up on what you truly want in life. The trials may be long and the frustrations many but you can't lose hope. There are too many forgone opportunities because we just aren't willing to try enough. I once read a quote that said that brains is not about inherent or learned intelligence, but rather the depth of perseverance before giving up. This couldn't be more true. You want something, go get it. You have a dream, chase it. No matter what. Because if we don't hold on to those opportunities we will completely lose the chance for something amazing. Mind blowing. Incredible. So when chance knocks on your door answer it. But don't leave your fate to chance. 
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