Tag Archives: ideas

Pressure

I was given a book over the course of my summer in Brasil. A very, very important book. A book that if you were to simply read the cover, it could change your entire philosophy about life. It was one of the best birthday presents that I have ever received.

Ostra Feliz não Faz Pérola. Happy Oysters don’t Make Pearls.

To the friend that gave me this book, I sincerely thank you. The title of this book alone changed the way that I look at my daily life, my mission field, my approach to my classes and my work, and the way I view human trial, suffering, and tribulation.

A comfort zone, a routine, a feeling of contentment. None of these things inspire change. None of them long for something more. They are utopian in the since that change is not seen as necessary. They are sickening and broken things in that they make you buy into that philosophy– that everything is as it should be.

Everything is not as it should be. Ever.

Pressure, suffering, trial, tribulation. These are the things that inspire revival, an awakening, a long for change, a need for something different, something better. All of these things are so misunderstood by so many people because they are seen as unnecessary. Why suffer? Why are we put through tests and trials and tribulations?

It’s because you shouldn’t be content with where you are. It’s because you shouldn’t be so set in your routine. It’s because you are trapped in your comfort zone with the idea that change is a bad thing.

The oyster. A simple, underwater, ocean-dweller. An animal that creates one of the most sought after products in the world. One of the most beautiful accessories that anyone can obtain; a pearl. The oyster gets ahold of one grain of sand and begins to crunch, crush, and painfully exercise that grain of sand until it becomes a beautiful, valuable pearl. All the while, the oyster is in pain. That oyster is not happy, is not content, is not free of pain until his work is complete, and what a wonderful, beautiful product results from that struggle.

It is not in times of comfort and ease that we as human beings create our most prized possessions. They are works of labor, tests of strength, endurance, and will. An artist slaves over his paintings for hours, days, weeks, months, sometimes even years, before he is happy with his final work. He becomes a slave to his work because he is pouring everything he has into that work. It is a labor of love. It is in these times, with these attitudes, that masterpieces are created.

It is only by pain and suffering that the oyster is able to create his pearl, his masterpiece. It is only under great pressure and with much time that a diamond can be formed in the earth.

Pressure, pain, and suffering inspire greatness. Comfort, routine, and contentment with one’s current position do not.

How will you react to your next test? Your next tribulation? The next time you are under pressure? The next time you suffer greatly for something you love?

Be the oyster. Go make a pearl. Next time you’re under pressure, be determined to come out on the other side with a diamond that you can be proud of. Be the change, aspire to greatness, and inspire others along the way.

Now go find some sand to crunch on.

 

Also, if you’re interested in reading the book that I mentioned, Ostra Feliz não Faz Pérola || Happy Oysters don’t Make Pearls, the author is Rubem Alves. He’s a Brasilian author and Presbyterian theologian. A truly brilliant man. To the best of my knowledge, the book is available in English. Go check it out!

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It’s Been a While, Folks

Good evening from College Town, USA! It’s feels like it’s been about 100 years since I’ve blogged and you all, my faithful readers, deserve better than that.

Last time I posted, I recounted how I ended up going to Panama City instead of the mountains on account of some awful weather.

Well, we did exactly that. My friend and I left at around 12:40 a.m. eastern time and arrived in bright and sunny Panama City Beach around 9 a.m. with no sleep, our camping equipment, some board shorts, and next to no food (No, seriously, we ate dried fruit and beef jerky for four days). We checked into our campground, the Raccoon River Campground at 1 p.m. after a short nap on the (ever-so-windy) beachfront and decided to set up camp. If you enjoy camping, a good time, and the beach, I strongly recommend camping at the Raccoon River Campground. It’s about a 3 minute walk to a pier/beachfront access and it is right across the street from the beach. Plus, it’s only $28.13 a night for primitive tent camping– my absolute favorite. Ya can’t beat that!

In short, we spent time at the beach, weathered two insane, flooding storms overnight in our tent, got really sunburnt, saw lots of crazy places, and met a lot of crazy people. Mainly Canadians. (Eh?)

The people you meet at campgrounds are always among the most entertaining of subjects to discuss after your trip is over. My friend and I discussed, almost the entire way home, the people we had met.

We camped next to a 55 year old man from Canada, We’ll call him Bill. Bill had recently been divorced. What did Bill decide to do? He sold his house and pretty much everything he owns, quit his job, bought a 27 foot long yacht, and decided to drive, yes, drive himself 27 hours from Canada to become a certified sailor/boat mechanic so him and his brother can sail all around the world. My friend and I had many a conversation with Bill, and we learned a lot from each other, I believe. Bill was the type of free spirit that this world needs more of.

We met spring breakers from Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, Tennessee, Alabama, and countless other places. We ran into college drop-outs traveling the country, a cross-country team from Iowa that was there to “train” (yeah… right), and all the left over Canadians from winter season.

Going back to Bill, I started to think about the idea of our comfort zone… the idea of safety. Our society (That being, American society), has become obsessed with the idea of safety. Our society encourages comfort in your belongings, safety in what you own. Bill had completely removed himself from his comfort zone, sold his belongings in which he used to find comfort, giving up what he had to fulfill what is, as he told us, a dream he has had since he was a boy.

Living in comfort can be a wonderful thing, the borderline worship of safety, however, is not. Greatness is not born out of, cannot be born out of, a safe place. Safety is the place where there is an absence of risk-taking. When you are safe, there is no need to be great, no need to exceed your capabilities and become a better person, no need to take risks for your personal benefit, and it’s all because you are comfortable where you are.

That’s a dangerous mentality.

I lived in Brazil last summer. Specifically, São Paulo. I visited Rio de Janeiro (Minha Cidade Maravilhosa) and Belo Horizonte as well. Not a day went by without at least two handfuls of awkward situations, misunderstandings, or getting lost. I loved every second of it. I was out of my comfort zone each and every day. What did that teach me to do? It taught me to rely completely on God. Each day I woke up and gave even the smallest things to Him and I enjoyed every second I had while I was there. Some days I was so tired it was hard to put my left foot in front of my right, and vice versa. Every day, God was  showing me something new about myself, teaching me my limits, then teaching me to push past them. What an amazing feeling that was. And it’s all because I was outside of my comfort zone.

Now, that is not to say that I felt unsafe while I was there. The entire time I was there I had no problems (I was, however, smart and careful, which is absolutely necessary when traveling anywhere in the world). As many people complain about the issue of crime in Brazil and violence (Yes, it is there), I had no problems with such things. Brazil is a beautiful country (Read: The most beautiful country in the world) with incredible people, beautiful geography, and phenomenal potential. It is truly a blessed place. God has put a special place in my heart (Read: my whole heart) for Brazil– It is my passion.

If I had made the decision not to give every day over to God while I was there, I would not have enjoyed it nearly as much.

Bill found his Brazil, and shared his stories with us, just as we shared ours with him. That was by far my favorite part of the trip. I learned a lot about myself through discussions with people we met there, namely with Bill.

Now, that’s all I’ve got for tonight. However, if you have any questions about traveling in Brazil or about my trip, travel tips, things like that, feel free to contact me! Also– be looking for an update to the Cars//Minicars section here soon (Tonight… maybe?). The post was long, I know, but hopefully it made for good reading– hopefully it inspired you to get out of your comfort zone.

Cheers!

The Week So Far

So, this past Sunday, some friends and I decided to go to a local park to celebrate the spring weather. We played soccer, threw some frisbee, laid around in ENO hammocks (which everyone should get), and I also tried slacklining for the first time. If you don’t know what slacklining is, go check it out! A simple Google search will suffice.

I have to admit, I was really bad at it, I’m still really bad it. But I loved it, it was a great experience, and really opened my mind to new athletic possibilities. I enjoy challenging myself. Whether that be physically, mentally, or spiritually. If you don’t challenge yourself, how can you make yourself better? If you settle for what you can already do, you are settling for mediocrity. 

I don’t accept mediocrity. You shouldn’t either. Realize that stepping up to a challenge, no matter how big or small, is already a strong display of your character. I refuse to let myself stop growing, and stepping onto that slackline for the first time in front of a bunch of people was humiliating because I immediately fell off. Right onto my face. 

Learn to laugh at yourself. If you wait to do something until you’re perfect at it, you will never be perfect at it. 

I’ve been trying something since I got back from Brazil. Try this:

Challenge yourself to give in to pure insanity and reckless courage for 30 seconds to 1 minute a day. That’s it. It’s so simple. Give it a good “Who cares” and just do what it is you want to do, say what you want to say, be who you want to be.

In Brazil, I gave in to this “insanity” for about 15 seconds, and it ended up getting me a trip to Rio for 4 days with 4 incredible Colombians who are now great friends of mine. Stop caring about what other people think, stop thinking about what will happen if things don’t go as planned, screw the plan, just do it. (Not original, I know, deal with it).

The very worst that can happen is things don’t go according to plan, and you learn from it and learn to laugh at it. Am I telling you to drive your car off a bridge to see if it floats? No. Don’t go do anything irrational, just do something that you normally wouldn’t. It’s quite simple. And the payoff is an incredible feeling.

Go find your slackline. Today, tomorrow, the day after, and every day for the rest of your life. I promise you’re going to enjoy it.

Oh, and also take note here in the next few days– I will be heading out to the mountains to backpack and fly fish for a couple of days. So be looking for updates to the Fly Fishing section for photos, stories (Read: lies), and findings from our trip into the Smokies!