Friday, March 9, 2012

3 Letters to Me

"If you wrote 3 letters to yourself; the young you, the you right now, and an older you, what would they say? I did my best."

Dear younger me,

You were wrong. Not on everything but on many things. This is simply because you were young, idealistic, and chomping at the bit of independence. You couldn’t wait to see what “being an adult” was like and heaven forbid, you found out. Life is not easy. Success is not easy. Love is not easy. And opportunity does not plop down in your lap. Things that are worth having in your life take effort to obtain and more effort to preserve. It is in your wrongness on these things you were able to gain a strong life lesson wrapped in the sucker-punch of reality.

You were wrong to think that the clothes you wear, the things you have, the titles, the cars, and places you go make you who you are. It is your appreciation of these things that may begin to define you, but it is who you are in the absence or loss of these things that showcase your character. Your riches will be found in your relationships.

You were wrong in thinking that there will be an age where you are too old to do anything. You are never too old to learn, fall in love, enjoy new horizons, and to start anything all over again. The chronological age of your physical body cannot deter the youthfulness of your ever-expanding mind.

You were right however, in being optimistic–optimistic by remaining deaf to the little voices that wanted to tell you that you could not do something. The “damn the torpedoes’” attitude (that often backfired) propelled you into new experiences and situations that took you too both the high and the lows that now can be considered “learning experiences.” The distance between when they happened to you then and now make them a glorious lesson that shaped who you will become.

Youth is a lesson in wasted excesses. MTV taught us, “too much is never enough.” Having once lived by this I can say that too much can also knock you for a loop. Trying to be too thin, too rich, too drunk, to crazy, too cool, too anything–is often an attempt to seek approval from those who are not necessarily in a position to give it, nor have your best interest at heart. Realize that the greatest form of approval comes from within you.

When you think you will never be loved¬–you will be. When you think the pain will never stop–it will. When you think that your life is ruined–it will be restored. When you think you can never forgive–just try. And remember, it is okay to be mistaken, just learn from these mistakes and do not repeat them.

I love you; respect you, and thank you.


Me the older you


Dear me now,

I know it can be hard. I know it is hard for others to see a change or believe one is brewing as past evidence still gets in the way. But remember it is our time. I hope you have learned from the past that always seeking approval lends itself to disappointment in yourself. Others’ favor wanes and is fickle. To be truly satisfied, you must be able to feel it in your core. Check your motivation, check your intention, and check your navigation and unfurl the sails and go.

As you are experiencing, and may continue to experience, you come to the realization when old thoughts and behaviors no longer serve you. You enter the chrysalis and begin a transformation. However, be humble and wise to realize there is only room for one in each cocoon. Other may not, or care not, to make the journey and you must respect the choices of others as you wish to have yours respected. Trust me, we all end up where we are supposed to, just pray that those you care about or that should be in your life have the “red X” marked on the same spot on the same map. You can dance together later.

I want you to take a moment to congratulate yourself. You do not do that enough. Sometimes we get so busy looking at what we fear now that we forget to look back on all the times where what we feared did not keep us down. It did not hold us back, it taught us, and importantly it did not kill us. You should, by now, have evidence that you can do more than you ever thought you could with a lot less that you thought you needed. Also remember that what you fear or face now will someday be one of those stories you tell of how you overcame.

I hope you smile when you now realize that it took the desire for the toys, the titles, and all the stuff you thought you needed to be who you are–and then to lose or no longer have those things in your life to prove to you what you had all along. Your riches are in the people around you. I think you get that. I am proud of you for that. When you look at all the times you had the most difficulty, when you thought you were alone, when you thought you were not enough, when you thought you couldn’t go on–it was not your wallet, your car, or your trinkets that came up, hugged you, and said, “I love you, and this too shall pass.” It was people. Invest in them.

Enjoy this phase of your life. You would not like the alternative. I am here for you as I have always been, but I think our relationship is much better. I think we have a trust and a love, and most of all, an expanded awareness of our worth and potential. Whether you trip and stumble, or sprint through the tape, I will be here for you. I always have.

I love you; respect you, and thank you.


The me beside you now


Dear older me,

I can’t wait to meet you. I am praying that you will have a wealth of wisdom, stories, and experiences waiting on me. I can only hope that you have continued to polish the soul that I see growing inside you now. Through this diligent practice, you will be surrounded by the treasures reaped by one who has invested wisely in their contribution to others.

I can’t wait to see who you are as an older man, but how you have done as a father. You planted good seeds and I am sure they will flourish. I hope that I was able to tend to my garden well now so that you can enjoy the fruits of my efforts. The children who bring you so much joy have also posed challenges, but through guidance and by example–hopefully they have come through the obstacle course with little scar tissue. I hope you have grandchildren. Maybe you do, maybe not. I know it is not up to you. Either way, you were lucky enough to get the ones you had, but I know you know that. That alone deserves a smile.

I hope you now are enjoying your wife as you did when you were first married. Anyone who stuck by you like she did deserves some attention. Maybe she doesn’t want it. I think she will. Either way, continue to be there for her. She stood by you in times when most others would not. I think you now realize you needed her as she held the strengths you could not fit into your own soul. She brought to the mix what you often boastfully thought you could do alone. Have you got it yet? You needed her and were lucky to have her. I think you offered something to her too. A pretty good match indeed. I think you realized the weight of a large ego is too much to carry for too long. The heart of another is much lighter and much more satisfying to lift.

Knowing you now, I assume you are in a space to be able to say, “Well done!” Maybe there are things that didn’t get checked off the list. I think you also know that given the time and interest, you could check them off. I also think you know that striving needs to take a back seat to enjoying, to cherishing, and to simply being. There does come a time when the glass has just enough. I think you realized that a while back didn’t you?

I hope at the end of this ride, the old me, the me right now, and the older me get a chance to merge into what was originally intended for us to become. We are not separate people. We are simply chapters in a brilliant, emotionally driven; divinely orchestrated ride nestled between the covers of our life’s story. I hope our story inspires others. If not, like a forgotten diary that archives the whims and magic of one man’s’ journey through time, I hope simply that the world was a little bit better of a place than when we arrived.

I love you; respect you, and thank you.


Me the younger you

Thursday, December 29, 2011

I hate resolutions.

I hate resolutions. I really do. I do not like that there is a time so shortly after my overindulgence in practically every one of my vices that I have to cease and desist simply because the calendar has reached its’ last page. I know–after testing the stretch-ability of the middle of my favorite sweaters it may be time to put down the cheesecake for a while, but to simply profess I will stop doing something for ever...for ever-ever is simply ludicrous. Nothing I ever “resolved” to do stuck. At least not because I tried on New Year’s Eve. It takes something more for me. It also has nothing to do with my calendar.

I remember many things that I humbly and most feebly tried to end with the beginning of a new year. Most of these ended shamefully by me resuming whatever habit, yet now accompanied by a heavy dose of guilt and shame. Neither are strong motivators for me personally. Most of the important things that needed to go sloughed off on their own time and through what I only feel is divine happenstance. It took a larger nudge than a ball dropping and Dick Clark for some of the other back-monkeys.

I tried to quit smoking in the past. A lot. Many times. To no avail. I took the loss of my grandfather to lung cancer. I never saw him with a cigarette. Ever. (Haven’t touched one since ’86.)

I tried to quit drugs and other self-destructive behaviors. I took a loving (but firm) intervention, a trip to “Camp Cleanupyouract” and the potential loss of all I held dear to set down that bagage. (Haven’t gone back to that either.)

I resolved to get financially stable. Lost it all.

I tried to diet. I got fatter.

I tried to get stronger. I got weaker.

I tried to succeed. I avoided the challenges necessary to get me there.

You win some, you lose some. I try to keep my batting average high.

I no longer “resolve” on New Year’s Eve, nor do I give a rat’s patoot about the obligatory professions of strength that are required to help me overcome what I should be tending to all year long. It is hard enough to mourn the loss of peanut brittle for another year without resisting everything else that brings me joy, harmful or not.

Nowadays, I simply try to find a blanketing “concept” or category (health, finances, spirituality, relationships, etc.) that will serve me to improve. I also give myself a year (ish) to complete it. I also forgive my shortcomings. I will look back at the end of the year and fish out the accomplishments to be met with a well-deserved “atta-boy”, and put the missed goals back on the laundry list.

I also realize that if a problem or issue crops up on July 17th, I do not have to wait until January to throw it on the docket for improvement.

Again, I win some, and I lose some. I just want to keep it in the black.

I guess for the upcoming year, I have a few things I would like to see change. Some renovations in my life. Hopefully, some good stuff coming down the pipe. I don’t know if I will start on them next week, or come spring. Maybe they will slip through my grasp. But still, I guess these things are about as close to a resolution I may get: (Don't hold me to them, okay - hold me to them.)

• After trying extensively to no avail, I resign myself to the fact that I am going to have to get a job that will require me to say, “Would you like fries with that?” (At least until I graduate.)

• I am also going to have to do what it takes to lower my cholesterol, stop making old man noises when I bend over, and not need a nap just because I took out the trash. Time to lose some weight and get in shape. Dimmer switches can also only do so much.

• I got a 4.0 on my first quarter of school. I am going to do it again. And again.

• I am going to try to become a husband that my wife is not only proud of, but will want to brag about. This may take the full year. (I know she's gonna want me to toss my "dad jeans.")

• I am calm, cool, and collected in the event of an emergency and the big stuff. I can be an asshole when there is a Lego missing from the project. I need to get a wrangle on that.

• I want to make more magic for people I encounter. I don’t know what that is. I just know that would be cool.

* I want to continue to help those who need someone to talk to. I want to clone and expand that as well.

• I am not sure what it is. I know I will find it. But I want this year to be the year that I can say, “Yep, that was the year my life took off.” (And whatever it is, has enough room for everyone.)

• I’ve got some home improvements I need to get done. Dollar willing.

• I want to cook more, and grow more of my own food. I love cooking for people.

• I also want to continue to grow as a father. I grow as they grow.

These may come quickly or slowly. I have been working on some for a while. It doesn’t take a new year to remind me that many of these needs tended to, nor are they forgotten down the road as my efforts wane or challenges increase somewhere around March. I hope if you yearn for health, money, love, happiness, or abundance you receive it. Maybe your desires fall on a more spiritual plane, and with that, I support you as well. I just found it best to keep on, keepin’ on year ‘round, and for me–my resolution is to make no resolutions.

If you don't mind sharing, do you have any resolutions for 2012?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Hope and Faith

You would think I may come back after a break with something less cliché than this. I mean really. The reason for my hiatus from writing–the passion for it was sucked out of me by learning “how to write.”

I had decided to go back to school and get a degree. It is in mental health and addiction studies. I find both fascinating to be honest. The downside is that with any degree there are certain areas of study that accompany the subjects that pertain to your chosen endeavor. Aside from Psychology (love it), I had to take Algebra (surprisingly, enjoyed it immensely), and English Composition (my current nemesis.)

I love to write. What I have found is I love to write for me. Then I love to quietly share a bit of my thoughts with people and the only grade I may get is a “like” or a brief comment on Facebook. I find I could give a rat’s patoot what the Modern Language Association feels I “should” have done. It’s like being corrected when you sing in the shower.

But I digress... (This line would be considered unacceptable in MLA, but screw ‘em, it’s my blog.)

I guess with my recent schooling endeavor, I have also had other things going on in my life, both personal, business, and through other random things I have a tendency to get myself into. Through all these I have had high hopes of what I deeply wish would transpire. Hope...I have had and lost a substantial amount of it in my life.

I often find myself trying to write the ending to a script for a movie in which I am only an actor. I hope things will turn out the way I planned. I hope the money comes through. I hope the grades are there. I hope everyone stays healthy. I hope, I hope, I hope.

Hope is locking focus on a desired outcome and securing it in your core that it will manifest. Hope is often tossed about like throwing corn to chickens when faced with adversity. Hope is a desire to see beyond the current trials and settling on recognition that this too shall pass.

However hope alone falls short. Hope in solo is shouldering a burden alone. Hope is often diminished by a sense of overwhelm when the obstacles step over the threshold of what we can grasp or handle.

To me hope is like prayer in some ways. It must start with internal reflection, but most importantly it must be released. This is where faith comes in.

Faith is belief without seeing. Faith is a comfort in feeling deeply that there is something beyond ourselves at work. Faith is a peace that comes from a belief that things are the way they are now because that is how they should be. Faith is accepting and faith is allowing.

Faith is also the creation of a relationship with the intangible. Faith allows us to connect with the things we feel as well as the things we see. Faith is a humble request to dance with the divine...

Faith is also a lesson in patience. The things we hope for must be faithfully placed in the proper hands of the capable, and then we must try to be patient as our answers are delivered. Sometimes the answer is no. Sometimes we are thrilled. We must still have faith and patience to realize somewhere down the line it will all make sense. It is what it is, and that’s okay.

Hope and faith in swirling unison. (Another MLA taboo sentence.)

I guess my return was prompted by seeing a relatively high amount of struggles recently in the lives of those I encounter. All of these in varying degree. Myself included in some ways. I guess my advice to myself and the others is to have a little hope, and have a little faith. (And not the stupid TV sitcom.)

As I have been reminded recently, I am a student of writing as well as a student of life. Both present challenges but the latter doesn’t offer a grade. I do believe we are held accountable for what we learn in “class” and how we apply it.

I do hope I get a good “grade”. I have faith I will be okay. MLA be damned.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

There's never nothing going on

Ever been on a break? Whether selected or imposed, I have been on a few. From events over the past year to ones recently I have found that perceptively things have been quiet–real quiet. In my life I find when I am inspired, I will take a moment to digest and reflect and then put pen to paper (or finger to plastic) and counsel myself with what I have gained. Not so much lately. It seemed like life took an intermission.

I would frequently log onto my blog page, wait for some inspiration, shake my head and say “nah”, and move on to other meaningless online diversions. It lies somewhere between boredom and having nothing worthwhile to say. Worse yet, that no one listens or no one cares.

It also became interesting–frightening at times that it seemed the messages stopped. I would find I would squint with furrowed brow trying to connect–it was like I had an old radio and was listening to the static waiting for a broken hello. Nothing.

Inspiration seemed to go “off the air”. Okay, maybe that is harsh–but at least like television in summer when all you had to watch were re-runs.

Don’t get me wrong. Just because the universe, nature, and God above don’t appear before me in a dog and pony show, I do not become ungrateful. Things just slowed down–like a long drive on cruise control.

Therein lies the lesson.

There is never nothing going on.

I find for me at times I must release the pedal and set my speed on cruise to get a reminder of the things that surround me continually. It is by slowing down that I get another chance to find the glory in the mundane.

By taking some of the same routes at different speeds–without the pressure of waiting for the “golden ah-ha’s”, I find that some of these lie within my own backyard. It is also these little awakenings that connect the big ones. The big ones simply remind us to remember the small ones.

I just returned from a bike ride at dusk with my son. We took a different route and ended up at the coffee shop where I secured a fresh pound of fresh ground. Nothing like the aroma of your favorite blend. I inhaled deeply and smiled.

The cool breeze from nature and gentle humming from my son accompanied me as we took the long way home. The long way via the counter of our favorite frozen custard shop. We passed my daughter’s friends on their bikes. Well-mannered hellos were exchanged. Dusk, crickets, and the breeze in the trees. Your neighborhood changes dramatically at various times of the day. Each more glorious than the next.

“Did you have fun buddy?” I asked as we pulled into the garage to park our bikes.

An enthusiastic, “Yeah!!” was the reply.

There’s never nothing going on. Maybe I just need to set my speed on cruise control–or maybe hop on my bike. Perhaps it’s all God’s way of saying slow down and smell the coffee.

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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

In Hindsight

I realize the effort to defend my ego is a lot bigger than the effort to simply keep quiet. I also find that in either case, I can be equally incorrect.

I have found that when in my younger years, if someone said, “Here, try this”–and it was not a yummy treat, it probably was not in my best interest.

Every challenge always pays off– Always. You just have to realize that in hindsight.

The things I thought made me feel cool then, often make me feel silly now.

I would have never gotten that perm if I could have seen my senior picture beforehand. (See previous.)

Some of your best friendships do not end–they go into hibernation.

Whatever people feel they need to take drugs for can be achieved without them.

The best title I have ever held is “Daddy.” (And that it took my wife to achieve this title–and still does.)

Upon reflection, when we say we were “born this way”– that should only pertain to the good stuff. The rest we learned.

Being a loser is someone else’s opinion that I do not have to agree with.

I can understand and be compassionate to something without agreeing with it.

Kids and golf can be the most fun you will ever have being pissed off.

God would never forsake me, I would forsake God. (God waited for my return.)

It is okay to love someone and they not love you back–just don’t do it on their property after dark.

I should have listened more to what I didn’t want to listen to.

I also should have kept my mouth shut a lot more.

Most of the worst stuff I feared I created. (Often it would never arrive.)

I see that most of the stuff that I spent most of my time trying to get; I no longer have, and no longer need.

I also see that most of what I ever needed was always there, I was too busy looking in the wrong places.

Wounds heal.

Love returns. (Not that it ever really goes away.)

You can’t be totally present always looking back in hindsight.

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Sunday, July 24, 2011

In the blink of an eye

She was only having fun–or so she thought. That is what young people are supposed to do. The fun turned to an obsession beckoning her to feed the hunger that grew within her. Once social and now insatiable she found herself succumbing to its continual call. With promiscuity and sacrifice of morals and self-esteem she found that she now looked at the self she once knew–diminishing in size as she peered upon herself in the rear-view. She can’t be pregnant, she thought. The little plastic stick told her otherwise. She opted not to be a mother. The guilt and the grief changed her–transformed her. She would have been alone anyhow. She is now alone–and hates herself as she grieves the death of the promise she once held as well as her unborn child. It happened in the blink of an eye.


He loved her. She loved him. They started a family. Then their family grew. He dedicated himself to the vision. Her vision shifted into a wandering eye. He was told over breakfast. Feeling like the old car left behind on the lot watching the once proud owner in a new model, he sat in shock. It was not just the idea of going from an “us” to a “me”, it was that it seemed easy for her. He wondered what he must have become to make her who she had become. He became angry. He felt guilty. He felt lonely. No one is supposed to change the script while you sit and watch the movie. It just isn’t fair. From playing in the yard with the kids to sitting in the yard waiting for their arrival for your turn for a paltry couple of hours, it all seemed like a cruel joke, and he was the punch line. It happened in the blink of an eye.


She held his hand through it all–the illness both acquired and self-imposed. She was the rock. Once we get through this, everything will be the way it was supposed to be. We will try again for another child. Maybe the first time was God’s way of saying, “not now.” He had trouble finding himself, but ironically his erratic behavior was a constant reminder he was always right there–a challenge to himself, and more so a challenge of her love. But she did love him. The vow I took said “for better or worse, and sickness and in health.” This was the worse, and this was the sickness. She went to the appointments. She held his hand. She nurtures him on the mend. Then one day he left her. He took his pain, and left enough behind for her. He just didn’t leave an answer to the question, “why?” It happened in the blink of an eye.

He had it all. Good pay, promise of a future, all the perks of one who entered into the family business. That is how he met his wife. Yet another perk. He saw the world. He appeared before the masses to small levels of acclaim. He desired more. He mistook the demon of narcissism as its friendly counterpart competition. The demon invited entitlement. The demon invited apathy. The demon invited fear. And they invited addiction. Gone was the career. Gone were the perks. Gone was the business. Gone was the sense of self-worth. Some of the family also went by the way of the perks and the business. It seems a long way from the top to the bottom. However you can indeed find the trip from summit to the valley below can happen in the blink of an eye.
In the blink of an eye.

It is these “blinks”, both the good and the bad that are like the flickering frames in a movie. These individual moments that string together to provide us with the script that becomes our life. I have found that these types of episodes are the catalysts for transformation. As the eye closes to bring an end to one image, so must it open to start a new one. The process will repeat.

The injustice appears in the form of someone or something changing or stopping the story we were so enjoying. After loss or in grieving we reflect on the way things should have been, could have been, or would have been. How dare someone or something change the channel in the middle of our favorite movie? But this is also where our recovery will begin.

As the negative story can shift in the blink of an eye, so can our healing. The previous is tangible proof that all things can change rapidly. Our insurmountable odds become manageable as fast as they eroded beneath our feet. It is through our ability to “allow” these things to occur where the transformation shifts from our loss to the blessings of what we had when we had them. We also now have space in our empty hearts and empty hands for what is yet to come. Patience is all one needs.

As when we find ourselves in the middle of a movie, and our favorite character is killed, or turns evil, or the plot twists away from our comfort levels, often we do not find that we simply curse, stand, and leave the theatre. We may curse perhaps, but we remain. We stay fixed on what is unfolding, and allow it to continue. This is not to say we endorse it or subscribe to it–but we allow it none-the less. This is because we have faith that the reasons will be revealed. We will find out in time, the lesson behind the chaos. The payoff eventually comes.

Life is a lot like this. Plot twists abound. Our favorite components are removed, replaced, or transmuted into something we do not understand. By not shouldering the burden of retribution and justice seeking, I am able to realize that often there are forces more qualified than myself at work, and justice is indeed served, and the payoff presented to the worthy. I have found also that everything, and I do mean everything, does eventually provide for me the payoff of justice, wisdom, patience, or the ability to spare others a similar pain.

As personal challenges can truly occur in the blink of an eye, so can healing. Sometimes through this interruption of our movie–allowance and patience is simply God’s way of saying, “sit down, shut up, and eat your popcorn.”

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(These scenarios are to prove a point and do not reflect anyone's personal story. Well maybe one.)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

It is during the "right now's"...

It is during the “right now’s” that I find my greatest gifts. Upon this realization, I lament at the many, many “right now’s” I have let slip through my fingertips. These “right now’s” are moments of gratitude–moments where I realize I am blessed beyond my current deserving–fleeting moments to be cherished.

I find the benevolent, vivid, and enduring gifts available to me when I release yesterday and stop reaching for tomorrow. It is in this state of presence my breath is taken away from me. I am also grateful to realize that it is simply my receptiveness and continual desire for awareness of these “right now’s” that will change my life from having them solely punctuate my life, to harmoniously string them together like notes in one continual glorious song.

It was during a “right now” that I was able to glance to my right. My convertible top was down and the sun was shining. I watched my beautiful daughter fumble to place the Shasta daisy I picked for her behind her ear as the wind tousled her hair with a lively dance. It was “right now” I realized she was no longer my baby. It was “right now” I realized she will always be my baby. Her silhouette is still as angelic as when I held her as an infant.

It was during a “right now” I released my urgency to be anywhere in particular. I decided to stroll into one of those shops–you know the ones you always pass by and wonder what the heck they sell and how they stay in business. It was in this store that had thousands of my life’s artifacts. Not mine personally, but antique and old objects from a time I have long since left in my rear-view mirror. I saw the cup I drank out of when I was a child. The cup that held jelly in our fridge before it was housed in our cupboard. I saw the tacky clock from above our couch. I stood in my childhood kitchen again. For a moment I stood in my childhood again.

It was during a “right now” I remembered what it was like to feel grass under a blanket. It was during a “right now” I realized a picnic with a loved one takes only minutes to plan, and even less time to get somewhere suitable. Something about sitting next to your food on a blanket and trying to keep ants out of it rivals the finest dining. A mosaic of dancing sunbeams that struggle to find you through the branches is the only ambience one needs. You are never too old to wipe watermelon juice off your chin.

It was during a “right now” that I realized that there is something divine about a group of close friends breaking bread together. I find for myself that there is something simply wonderful about sharing a meal. I also enjoy noticing that my wife still laughs at my jokes. I appreciate it is often the dynamic of the group setting that lifts the veil of the mundane and adds spark and levity to the conversation. I also enjoy confirming how much we are all really alike in many ways. We still love each other despite our differences.

It was during a “right now” that I was joined by a friend on my backyard swing. It was my friend who called my attention to the cicada’s song which seems an essential part of summer. She also shared her love of the sound of lawn sprinklers. I listened. I agree. There is nothing like a swing and a friend to unfurl the sail of a “right now” moment.

It was during a “right now” that I shared the moon with my daughter. She shared a star with me. Then she shared another. I found that I am still awestruck by the glory of the canopy of the heaven that is above me. I am still awestruck by the “right now’s” available to me.

The “right now’s” I shared are simply my yesterday–a regular, yet extraordinary day. Placed in the context of an unappreciative eye and hollow heart, these moments could have slipped by unnoticed. It is my strong conviction that the quality of our life is weighted heavily by the emphasis on the attention we give to our “right now’s.”

Right now I leave you and I to go explore our own “right now’s.”

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