December 31, 2016
The sound of the kettle disrupted early morning thoughts of 2017 and what it had in store for me. As I begin to get up from my seat at the kitchen table, my mother entered the kitchen to remove the kettle from the stove and greeted me with a "Good morning Aaron."
There's something about home that’s soothing. It felt good to be back in Cleveland in the home I grew up in, my grounding place. The last time I was home was February 14th and somehow 2016 with all its personal trials, triumphs, and tribulations would be coming to an end at midnight. She asked me "Would you like a cup tea?"
I politely declined with a "No, thank you." This led her to turn around, tea bag in hand and as soon as we made eye contact she said, “So tell me what's going on with you?"
At that very moment I realized she wasn't here last time I was home and we were overdue for a kitchen counter conversation. See…I like to hold things very close to my chest and make sure I'm aware of what I'm dealing with before sharing. I knew I was ready to talk and it had been so long since I had a face to face convo with someone I could trust. A conversation where I knew body language, facial expressions, and eyes couldn’t lie.
"So tell me what's going on with you?" is such a loaded question! In my mind I thought...everything is going on with me. I have a show tonight at midnight and my band is in the other room. I have to host them and make sure they're good. I'm beyond exhausted emotionally, physically, and mentally. I don't want to sing tonight, but I have to find a way to get through it. I've had an incredible October, November, and December of 2016 and I feel ashamed that I haven't truly enjoyed the success of an album I put blood sweat and tears into because I've been moving nonstop since December of 2015. The first night on the European tour in December was the first time that I was forced to sit with myself and in that time my entire personal life from the whole year broke the levy of my busyness that kept it at bay and it came flooding into my heart and I couldn't deny the sorrow I felt.
I answer "I've been depressed for the last few months and it took several lonely nights in Europe for me to discover that I've been questioning what love looks like for me and the life I'm living. I've been questioning what the hell I've been doing for the last 15 years when it comes to my love life."
She looked at me and asked if she could speak freely?
Now If I say yes... I know this means that she's bringing the knives out and the truth may cut deep.
I said, of course you can speak freely and she began...
I want you to understand something, love and its principles won't ever change. At its core love has been the same since it was introduced to human beings and the only thing that has changed is the different generations of people and the times they lived in. Your father and I raised you with an old school principle of love that you're trying to apply to a new age world. We are an action oriented people. We not big on talk, we're big on results. In everything you do from business, to friendship, to love I know you're a giver. You don't ask for much BUT you're observant and always looking to see what people are going to do.
I'm sure that can be confusing in a generation where to me it looks like people are quick to tell someone they just met what they're looking for in a relationship and it allows that person to play the role until they've convinced them that they’re something that they’re not. So you can look back at the last 15 years of your love life and ask what the hell have you been doing, but when you do make sure you put it in this perspective.
Marriage is about doing life with someone. It's not about a wedding, engagement photos, what kind of ring he bought you, how big the house is, and all the material things people decide to share with the public. It's about how you collectively deal with winning and losing together. How you deal with disagreements, disappointment, misunderstandings, flexibility, sharing, giving, celebrating each other, letting go of the petty things, forgiveness, unexpected losses and gains, death, careers, dreams, goals, setbacks, and so many other things that you will deal with over and over again. The joy is doing it with someone you love being around for all the right reasons!
Please know that the wedding, engagement photos, ring, house and all these things are nice and I'm not saying that you shouldn't have them, what I am saying is, the wedding is the starting line to doing life with someone! Before you get to the starting line, it's important to discover someone’s true inner-self, character, and spirit. Know that they've willingly shown you what they possess will enhance the life that you're living. At the same time, you have to willingly show them that what you possess will enhance the life that they're living as well! Both parties have to know that they're better doing life together than they'll ever be doing life apart. It's a two way street, not a one way!
You're name means "Enlightened One" and your calling is big. What you do for a living isn't average and I don't understand it all the time, but I know God is doing something big with you. He's going to provide for you. I believe He's going to bring whomever He has for you to your attention in His perfect time and she's going to be a blessing to you and the life you lead. She’ll willingly give to you, but you have to be prepared. Please be able to recognize who wants to do life with you and who doesn't want to do life with you. We all get the sneak preview and what you see on this side is what you get on the other side. You have no control over how people choose to treat you but you have the ability to observe and accept that for whatever reason, this is what they're willing to give you.
I looked at her, smiled, and slowly nodded my head.
Then she got up and asked if I wanted her to make pancakes, bacon, and eggs for the band...
January 31, 2017
And nothing was the same again after that conversation...
A new outlook was formed inside of me. I remember laying in my bed at home in Cleveland early on Jan. 1, 2017...and saying aloud, "this year I'm starting my journey to be everything that I'm looking for in someone I want to do life with." It's not about the past or anyone else. It's about me and it's always been about me. There are so many things that come with that goal, but I'm up for the challenge.
This morning I peeled myself out the bed at 5:30 A.M. to go to the gym because one of the many things on my journey is to get my body in shape. It's something about the quietness and stillness of the early morning that I appreciate. My thoughts are clear and concise. This morning in the car I realized that for the last 31 days, this journey has been about pursuing me. The motive can still be to be everything I'm looking for in someone I want to do life with but at the center of it all, I understand that I'm on an everlasting journey to become the man that God wants me to be in mind, heart, spirit, and body and that journey will never end whether I'm married or not.
If this month has taught me anything, it's that you have to be willing to go the extra mile for yourself before you're able to go the extra mile for anyone else. You have to be determined to love yourself through discipline and practice. You have to willing show up for yourself every day. You have to be willing to live and not let anyone including yourself, pass guilt, shame, uncertainty, or pain get in your way of pursuing your best self.
These last 31 days have challenged me in my day to day and I've analyzed how I've dealt with setbacks, disappointment, disagreements, pettiness, joy, and pain because all of my reactions to what life throws at me speaks to my character. I'm sure the next 28 days will be challenging as well but every challenge will be an opportunity to be more loving, understanding, open, peaceful, gentle, practice self-control, and be good to myself and others. These are the things that I want to be faithful to.
The pursuit of our best lives start within us. Whatever motivation you need to start on that journey, I pray you find it and it's so clear that nothing will be the same again in your life as well.