I tend not to think of myself as a fragile person, but I do have my limits

I tend not to think of myself as a fragile person, but I do have my limits. If I feel like the entire world is trying to tell me something, I am going to sit up and listen. I don’t believe in only doing things that please everyone or even most everyone you care about, but I also don’t believe that most everyone you care about is going to be completely incorrect when they seem to mutually assess something about you.

I came down here because I was certain that God wouldn’t leave me high and dry with my only life purpose being to pass on my DNA, or even leave me with no life purpose at all. I have been convinced from before I even left my undergrad years that I could find the perfect thing that I was supposed to be doing, a thing that fit me like a glove; and when I found it, I would give up a lot to go back to grad school in order to do it for the rest of my life.

I took the LSAT while still in school. I thought of continuing my English studies–of course, you get asked that: so you want to teach? question as if teaching were like scrubbing toilets with your tongue or something–surely you don’t want to JUST teach!? I got into computers. Of course, I loved the idea of going back and forcing myself to learn mathematics and computer stuff. I started down the road toward getting a master’s degree in international relations–because Bill Clinton did in My Life, if I remember right. There was the whole non-profit thing–and the political campaign, and going back to be an EMT, and my getting accepted to start school to get my BS in Math, and then this… why this? My dad was perplexed, so was my wife–my pastor seemed to be, too. You, really, a pastor? Are you sure?

Of course, the admissions people wanted me to come down here, that’s what they are paid to do. Then you get this “we don’t accept just anyone, no matter what their academic credentials are,” and you also hear “think of all of the people in your life who have been affirming your call…” um….yeah, crickets. Even my own mother was convinced that God told her my little brother was going to be a preacher and I would be somehow involved in government. Well, I did volunteer in politics for a summer. Maybe my little brother is preaching up in heaven. He’s been up there for a while.

What’s really strange, is that I actually have grown to love church the way I have at times loved Austin. But, like Austin, I don’t feel like it has especially loved me back. Church, at least in my denomination, is for lifelong members of the denomination and marginalized people. Why am I bothering with even wanting to be an X,Y,Z mainline Protestant–surely, I should be going for a nice, bland evangelical church with a rock band or a motivational speaker pastor, or getting mixed up in something like the Landmark Forum.

Am I just trying to design a fantasy based on a cobbling together of the best that childhood, books, movies and personal cooked-up expectations have to offer? Will every community inevitably disappoint in some fashion, every church fall short of expectations, and any given attempt to pursue further formal education result in this kind of directionless malaise? Probably, the answer is “yes” to both questions.

On the other hand, by giving up on a lot of preconceived notions and expectations of what being down here would be like, I have been able to move through my days more freely, and have started to have more interesting conversations (for me, probably not for the other person). Who really cares where I end up? As long as I don’t put my family in a situation that sees us out in the streets, I think things will work out to be okay. Who cares if I end up a Protestant, Catholic, Buddhist, or nothing/everything sort of spiritual person at the end of the day? Probably not even God.

What really matters is what is happening in the dynamic with me and others (especially my son) in the straight up here and now–not the “some day.”

Always on the outside

Always on the outside. Groups form, people find their kindred spirits. Again, you are on the outside looking in. You might be a latecomer outsider, or you might be an old-timer outsider–doesn’t matter. If there’s a way to make you naturally bubble up to the outside of the group, this universe will find it. Of course, it’s all your fault, too. You should change. No, you should be yourself. You should try harder, no you aren’t trying hard enough. You just don’t get it. Again, it’s the universe that wins in the end. In some other universe, you are always the insider and a perennial insider from this universe becomes the outsider.

Accept it. Embrace it. Learn to love that which is you, and move on. Learn to love in spite of things.

I dreamed last night that I was in this underground space where I was permitted to talk to the dead. They came in from a tunnel. I wanted to talk to my mom, but the powers that be couldn’t bring her forth. She wasn’t there, only some of her psychic energy remained, which they tried to conjure up for me. The people who did come in through the tunnel were a mixture of young and old, all very classically dead–ashen, ghostly faces and haunted, bewildered looks of being taken somewhere they had no say about where the place was they were going. The area I was standing in next to this particular tunnel wound its way in a different direction, and I asked if anyone had ever gone off in that direction. The answer was no. I found myself walking down a much better lit corridor than the tunnel of the dead, into an area where I could descend several more levels that were all under water. But, it didn’t seem to matter that they were underwater, it was just like going into someone’s home. A young boy was with me as I re-ascended. I couldn’t tell if it was my son or my little brother. This happens a lot in dreams. We were supposed to get out soon, because the owner of this water house was coming back. I had the feeling that I had witnessed something more like Sheol than Hades or Hell.

Today, I had this overwhelming sense of there not being any grand, noble goals left for me to attempt to achieve in this life. I have been feeling thoroughly post-modern lately in the sense that I can’t wrest forth a kind of meta-narrative for myself that sees an ultimate, crowning achievement of righteousness for me–there is no one single telos, just a life to live. What does this mean in light of Jesus’ admonition to lose my life for his sake? I am not really certain.

I am certain, however, that my future must unfold more naturally, and look less like a perfect path toward the great way of being that was most unequivocally the way of being God always intended for me–especially in the sense of becoming a pastor by way of a true and concrete calling.

I don’t have a lot of faith in things that aren’t simply Jesus, God and Love in their most true forms. Further, I know that I am unable to conceive of them as such–I catch glimpses of the real Jesus filtered through a lot of heavy covering up that has taken place by my civilization. I don’t trust my dreams to be worth much of anything other than attempts to quiet or dispell something that was unstable in my psyche. I don’t necessarily feel like I have a good idea on what my future or the country’s future really look like.

I have experienced a lot of desire lately to be completely freed of this burden of needing to prove myself and become someone for good. I haven’t really made up my mind whether or not I am going to abandon this so-called calling altogether, or just have a conversation with a recruiter who recruits for the kind of work I used to do, and leave it at that.

I feel like I need a lot of rest of a certain kind of rest that I simply don’t get to have much of anymore. I need a refreshing week to mosey around trails in Austin, sit on a beach somewhere, browse the public library to my heart’s content, or just walk around another nearby town with no particular goals in mind.

Particular goals have become a burden for me. I don’t have time to watch a show or two on Netflix, I don’t have time to read a work of fiction, I don’t have time to even be sitting here doing this, except for the fact that I feel like I have to have an outlet somewhere or I will explode.

I’ve also had a lot of random memories popping up in my head as of late. They seem to be indiscriminate and might be from twenty, thirty or two years ago–there is no rhyme or reason to it other than to say that I probably am missing whatever once used to be my home. My self is in a desperate search for a home that I can be truly happy living in–and by home I mean the house and the larger community around me.

How can I explain this

How can I explain this–I am wholly uncertain of who I am supposed to be on this earth, and I am 40 years old. I fall in love with things that are manmade, and then I become guilty and want to completely seek out the divine, only the divine turns out to be mostly my own little idol of the moment.

How can I explain that when I go back and read my hastily-written notes about my last trip to NYC, I ache with a desire to be in NYC again at this very moment? It isn’t really a sexual desire, but it isn’t quite religious or spiritual or some other manifestation of the sensual appetite. It is a desire to be among culture–sophisticated culture and tourist culture and trashy, hipster culture. To be able to walk down the street and view cold, bloodless art, and then warm, classical masterpieces and totems from world cultures–and know that all these people walking around you like to at least occasionally go look at that art as well. To be among the very wealthy, though the thought of being very wealthy isn’t all that appealing.

How can I explain these moments when I realize that I’ve lived almost my entire life in places that don’t get me excited and make me happy? Austin makes me happier than Waco or Smalltown, MO, but this is relatively speaking. Most days, I don’t get excited about Austin. It’s not that Austin is bad–it’s that I don’t feel like it resonates with me. I feel like I make alterations to myself to fit its culture and attitudes, only to discover how little I care for myself when I do.

How can I explain that I will be a Christian for the rest of my life, but that I would just as soon prefer to spend my time meditating like a Buddhist on the emptiness of existence and the non-duality of my nature or reading the Hebrew Bible and knowing the God of the Old Testament better, or reading Greek mythology or Chinese literature, or what have you–than spend my time obsessing over the gospels? I confess that I know and love Jesus best when I cease to formulate my own preconceived notions about who he is and also cease to attempt to match my own expectations with the notions of others. I know and love Jesus best when I stop trying to assert that I know who he was or is, and simply love Jesus, love others, and want to live some place like NYC where there are a lot of others to love.

You might think that I dislike people because I am an introvert, but the truth is, I like people the more that I am around large numbers of very diverse ones. The more races, religions, cultures, languages, skin colors, shapes, sizes, faces that I see, the happier I am–suddenly, being human makes sense to me again. When I was in Waco, and got used to spending most of my time around white, Christian evangelicals who loved guns, football and Murica, I started to really think that I disliked the human race. It wasn’t because these people were bad, it was because they were not fully representative of the full spectrum of humans that God wants humanity to be.

You might think that I dislike myself–that isn’t true, either. What I dislike about myself is when I start to create a rigid, impermeable self that is a shadow or idol of the real me–a one or perhaps two-dimensional self that looks more like a box than a human being. I gladly embrace making such a caricature at first, because I somehow think that this makes me seem like more of an adult: I’ve ceased playing with existence and now I am ready to be serious about it. Only, such efforts to be the perfect adult like the kind of men I remembered from my childhood are futile. I am not my father and I am not other men like my deceased uncle J who had such crisp and insanely rigid expectations of how one should conduct one’s self as an adult human being. Believe me, I can’t stand people who intentionally try to be buddies with their teenage children and forcibly keep themselves immature. I can’t stand the thought of living out a life of endless codependent relationships and addictions and bad jobs and bad choices. I want to be a grown up, but I don’t want to be a puppet or a cartoon of a grown up.

Outside my window, men are busy building new housing for seminary students

Outside my window, men are busy building new housing for seminary students. Meanwhile, I am laying around trying to mentally clear my head and ready myself for the Spring semester. My thoughts turned to the early days of living in Austin, and a trip made down to the Guadalupe where CB from MCE’s parents had a house on the river. This would have been inside the first year of living here. I don’t know why I haven’t been down to that area more, or other places like Fredericksburg and Enchanted Rock. The reasons vary. Mostly, I get too caught up in my tiny little life in a small part of Austin and forget about the world that’s just beyond this one. Then, I get upset about being stuck in Austin, stuck in Texas, and I want to take a vacation out of the state.

The next time I went down there was with some friends of R’s from MCE, along with L and whatever guy she was with that week. That was the awful summer, the start of my descent into the dark days. Then, I went down to that area for a political campaign event. After that, it was with A and her parents, and finally recently as part of a new student orientation. It seems like I’m on the verge of big life changes when I take the time to go down there, but then life settles in and doesn’t seem so big after all. What would constitute a big life change, anyway? More deaths in the family? Winning the lottery? Getting hired to work abroad? Of course, all of those things and then some. But, there is a part of me that is clearly resistant and not open to big changes. Of course, the negative ones like deaths in the family are never to be welcomed, but the fear of just about anything coming along to rock the boat always sets in after a few months have followed a medium-sized life change.

I don’t know why I thought about that trip so much, or the early days of Austin. Perhaps it’s just because I’m coming up on it being twenty years since I moved down here, and I’ve been slowly making my way through all of these journal entries that will lead me back to the late nineties. It could be that I am mostly astonished at how little I’ve changed on the inside. Any time I try to assess my inner landscape and derive some sense of having grown as a person, I fall short. I feel no different than I did when I was in my early twenties if I’m just sitting here, looking down at myself without paying too much attention to the gray hairs starting to appear on my arms. Of course, if I look in the mirror, the changes become a little more clear, but I could fool myself with this as well, by dyeing my hair and smoothing out a few of the rough spots on my face, and not scowling too much. Forty seems remarkably old to a person in their early twenties, and I suppose a lot of forty year olds have lived more than I have, but I don’t feel any exceptional clues or indicators that shout at me: sir, you have become decidedly wiser and more knowledgeable about all manner of things in these past twenty years.

There is, to be for sure, some degree of immaturity in my writing that comes forth. There is a marked departure from a lot of hopeful BS and wishful thinking after about the age of thirty, and some ironing out of whininess and edging over of griping about unfair treatment that takes place throughout my thirties. Eventually, by the time you see me writing over the past year, I tend to be as whiny and gripy as I probably will be until I die at 60, 80 or 100. At times I realize I come across a lot more pissed off and serious than I remember I was intending to be–I was trying to be ironic or poke fun at my own character flaws by magnifying them. Or, I was simply trying to state as plainly and clearly how I felt at that exact moment, and it was by no means how I felt all the time during that part of my life.

The question that comes up time and again as I work to put everything I’ve written into one WordPress instance is: will I be able to look back on all of it and see something akin to a great building–a work that I can be proud of–or will I just see the result of someone with too much free time on their hands and a propensity for graphomania? Will my culture in 100 years see my WP blog of journal entries that hopefully include all of my journal entries back to the age of ten and place it alongside a million other people who have done the exact same thing?

I’ve been sitting and laying around a lot the past few days

I’ve been sitting and laying around a lot the past few days, picking away at a paper that’s due next Tuesday, and trying to put something together in my mind that resembles a clear sense of purpose for moving forward. I’m afraid I lost that pristine sense of a call some months ago when it became abundantly clear that no one outside of my own head was really convinced that I was called to be a pastor, especially within my particular denomination. They are looking for women, people of color, LGBTQ people, and perhaps a handful of young men who have been with the denomination their entire lives. I thought perhaps the more rural churches were eagerly awaiting someone like myself but I suppose I could have been wrong about that as well. My conversation with the current pastor of my church sent me into a tailspin, and the way I’ve been passed around like a hot potato from one church to another and mostly ignored by the committee one level above the church has all contributed to me feeling mostly like I don’t really belong here.

After so many conversations with people in my classes, this became all the more clear to me–my voice, experience, and eagerness to dive in and help where I might be needed are not enough–I am simply not what this denomination wants or needs right now. I get the impression that many folks who have “gotten theirs” and now have voices that matter, are of a mind that the older, rural churches of a more traditional demographic should all either die out or schism off and become part of a more conservative version of the denomination. Those who are to be a part of the ministry moving forward are the young (millennials and younger), women, people of color and LGBTQ people. For someone who is too old to be a millennial and too young to be a baby boomer, there just isn’t much of anything here for me.

As far as the broader sense of calling and purpose goes–that too has become difficult to ascertain and revive as being something crystal clear and clearly from God. What is God’s purpose for me in the next several decades, as a husband and father who is trying to raise a young son and perhaps another young child–when our country is about to be beset with so many difficult challenges that will likely bring about conflict like we haven’t seen since the Civil War? Why would God allow someone like Donald Trump to win, and allow so many so-called Christian conservatives to be blinded by the kind of man that Trump is? Am I just completely duped by a mainstream, liberal media bubble, and we are on the verge of seeing a deeply flawed man in the tradition of a Churchill do great things for this country? God, I really hope that I am wrong about Trump, and he turns out to be okay–but, none of me is feeling that great about it.

And, what of it? If I am right about Trump, then it changes everything about what the future means for me and my family. If I am wrong about Trump, then it means I probably haven’t been nearly as close to God as I’d hoped, and all of my so-called sense of having a calling to ministry has simply been my own misguided pride. I would much rather be wrong about Trump, and he turn out to be an okay president, no better or worse than the last few we’ve had.

Except, what that ends up meaning for me is that there is no special calling, no purpose, no mission, no vision. I would have done just as well to have stayed at C/B after they merged, and kept my head down and worked from home as long as I could, and then gone back to Austin or gone to Charleston to work, if they determined I needed to be in an office working for them. It means that I was full of so much ego and pride over how much more I could do for a company or an organization, when really, my fullest and true capabilities were just in the area of putting my head down, doing what I was told, and socking away money into a 401K.

There are two visions: helping others and helping myself. They can seem to be like oil and water, and yet each of them depends on the other. I can’t help others until I’ve removed the beam from my own eye. Once I become immersed in trying to do so many things to make myself better physically, intellectually and spiritually, I become more compelled to give of myself and help others benefit from the good things that I’ve obtained.

However, there is the simple fact that a life must be lived with an emphasis on one or the other. As much as you might like to be a perfected being in some classical sense of the word–all full of culture and smarts about a lot of things and really healthy as well–and also be the consummate philanthropist and community volunteer, you really have to reach a point in your assessment of self where you allow yourself to obtain a realistic picture of your talents. I may simply not be capable of being the kind of man I’d like to become. On my death bed, I probably won’t have an entire community gathered around me weeping.

Right now, I am just trying to remember how to pray. I think that I was walking on water for a little bit, and then suddenly remembered that I couldn’t–and I had also forgotten about my faith. I have to keep my faith or the darkness is too much. I may not be able to do a whole lot right now, but I can certainly cry out to God in prayer–prayer for peace in this land and illumination for myself. I need some light to put my next foot in front of me.

I realize that I am not the one who is creating the future. What’s more, I recognize that my idea of what I think would make for a perfect future isn’t necessarily God’s. However, I am with some hope that God is still with me, in spite of how many times I have taken the opportunity to wander off and do my own thing and assert my voice in such a way as to drown out God’s. I also hope that God is still with my country, in spite of how terrible things look from where I sit. The potential terror that could come with a madman declaring martial law for some petty reason is almost unthinkable but still very much within the bounds of being a probable outcome over the next 4-8 years.

When your mind starts creating these scenarios of how bad the world could get to the point where you are envisioning yourself in a post-apocalyptic world, you become reminded again that you are not really in charge of as many things as you’d like to be. You are not in charge of when you die. People get cancer all the time at any given age, and so could you. You could have an undetected heart problem, or some deadly hibernating virus hanging out in your gut. A car could come out of nowhere tomorrow when you are crossing the street. Or, anything else you want to think of. The point is that comfort and satisfaction need to reside in something bigger, or you will walk through this life always skating over a chasm of terror. If you are capable of having great peace of mind about what happens when you die without needing a higher power, then you obviously draw on resources I can’t.

I have to return again and again to the resource of a higher power, and I have to have some hope in the fact that even though I haven’t done everything Jesus asked me to do, I did believe in him in a more fundamental way than merely believing in his existence. I realize that I have been for the most part a self-centered, selfish individual and that I have mostly myself to blame for this. I could blame my culture or the way I was brought up, or others who acted as influences during my formative years, but at the age of 40, I can’t really blame them for more than a fraction of a percentage of my present actions.

It is simply more comfortable to return to a state of adding more to myself–more knowledge, wisdom, food, drink, experiences, etc.–instead of being in a state of giving of myself. It is my default mode, my comfort zone. I have to make myself quite uncomfortable to go out and give of myself to others. Much of my anti-social tendencies and introversion comes from simple selfishness. I feel better about doing something that adds to myself instead of gives of myself, in the short term. Of course, when I get out of my comfort zone and give of myself, and devote blocks of time to doing this, it feels awkward and not quite right in the short term, but makes me feel much better in the long term.

I realize that as a father and a husband I can’t just sell all of my possessions and give the money to the poor and then go live a life of being a mendicant preacher. I must fulfill my obligations as a householder, and find ways within this construct to give of myself. At the end of the day, my family is doing for me what I never seemed to be capable of doing for myself–they make me give of myself all the time. Though, I do recognize that this probably isn’t enough in Jesus’ eyes. Jesus expects me to give of myself to the ones I love as a matter of course–he has asked me to love enemies and neighbors and strangers and pray for those who mistreat me.

And, maybe that’s all I can do right now–pray for those who seem to see the state of things in such a radically different way than I do. They may not necessarily be my enemies, but they are certainly opposed to me in many ways politically and intellectually, whether they know it or not. All I can do is pray for them–not to pray that they come to think like I do, but pray that they receive vision, guidance and clarity from God as much as I hope to. And in the end, we will hopefully come around to having a clearer picture of the world to come that we can agree upon and look forward to together in a peaceful way. This may be asking for a lot, but I still do believe that with God, all things are possible.

It’s hard for me to separate the old reasons for being healthy

It’s hard for me to separate the old reasons for being healthy with the new ones that are still developing. The old reasons were shallow one–I was actually convinced at times that if I ran enough and did enough bicep curls, I could then go bake out in the sun until I was a fierce maroon color (since I can’t tan), and I would look enough like some bald actor like Vin Diesel or Bruce Willis, and a lot of women would find me appealing. Generally speaking, I would end up hurting my back from not lifting the dumbbells properly. If I put on any bulk at all, it usually would just make me look a little pudgier rather than ripped or stacked (there has never been much of a visual difference between the fatter me and the more muscley me). I might run enough to where I could survive a half marathon at 8.5 min miles. If I spent enough time out in the sun, my skin would get pretty damaged and I would start to look ten-fifteen years older than I really was. For some reason, none of this ever deterred me from trying to do it again and again each year. I may have had a little body dysmorphia or whatever they call it, where I would convince myself from looking in the mirror that I was starting to look like something I was not. Digital photos would usually wake me up to the fact that I was never going to look like a muscle-bound superhero.

After marriage, I have made many attempts to run for healthy reasons, or to go running just to prove to myself that I could still get in good enough shape to run another half marathon. But, most of these attempts have lasted no more than three-six weeks. During many periods of marriage, I find myself not really motivated to care about my health at all. When I moved back to Austin and started going to grad school, I kind of had an impetus to get back in shape that was more along the lines of the superficial motivations from when I was single–I hated the thought of being the old guy on campus who wasn’t a professor or dad of a student. My white hair, which began to appear when I was sixteen, now makes me look about sixty sometimes. I really do feel pretty old sometimes when I sit in the same classroom with people who were born the year I graduated from high school.

But, I would also like to think that I am starting to have a more healthy reason for wanting to stay healthy–I like how I feel and am generally less depressed when I run and work out. You would think that I would never abandon an exercise regimen because of this, but it isn’t quite the same feel-good as drinking beer and eating ice cream, unfortunately (or the entire world would be in excellent shape, of course). I think there is also a sense of accomplishment that comes with doing some type of physical activity as well. I can write all day long, and I can study and pass classes for the next few years, but I am not quite accomplishing something like I am when I can see my daily activity and know that I’ve done more than just cerebral things plus a little volunteering and spiritual activity now and then.

I wish that I could say I want to be around for a long time for the sake of my son, but I don’t think that is quite enough of a motivating factor. With my genes, I will either die at 61 or die at 91, depending on whether I inherited my mom and grandmother’s cancer gene–all of this is with exercise aside. I suppose if I really pigged out on sweets and never moved my body at all I could kill myself off a lot quicker, but the point is that I am in all likelihood going to be alive to see my son get married and have his first child (or get his PhD or first professional job that makes him independent, etc. if he decides not to marry and have children). My goal is to outlive my Dad so that he doesn’t have to see any more of his sons die, but not to outlive my son, as I don’t think I could handle seeing him go before me after watching how my parents coped with losing two of their sons and seeing a third one pretty much disown them.

All of that to say, that the longevity motivators that are in place for some people my age haven’t kicked in yet. I am still more inclined to want to be healthy and get in shape because it pleases me to look in the mirror at a healthier, younger-looking man than to look at a fat old, weary soul.

It is deceptively simple

It is deceptively simple: if you continue to do what you’ve been doing, you get the same results. If you want to see change in your life, you must change something about yourself. It is deceptively simple to the point of being a cliche.

When I think back to the various types of individuals I was hoping to become, it seems absurd that I would have ever thought I could be any single one of these individuals without being purely committed to sacrificing myself every waking hour for the sake of re-molding me into that person.

There are a million moments I can now look back upon in hindsight and declare what I could have done differently to get a different outcome. There are only a handful of moments I can say with some certainty that I knew what to say when the moment was taking place, and chose not to out of fear–mostly fear of becoming someone who was alien or foreign to myself.

And yet, life has certainly transformed me in spite of me being dragged kicking and screaming along. I am not the same person I was standing inside my candidate’s house when she invited me to stay and network and meet people who would have helped me have a career in politics. I am the kind of person now who would have fearlessly stayed if that’s what I wanted, or never even had gotten into all of that in the first place, because I would have known it wasn’t for me. Those moments where months or even years of preparation brought me to a place where the opportunity was now before my eyes and it was simply up to me to say “yes, I am ready to walk through that door and become someone new,” are much fewer and far between. I do live with some regret over how much I allowed sheer fear to overwhelm me.

Do I still live ruled by fear today? Of course. I make easier and safer decisions all the time. I could have gone the extra mile to see what seminaries I could get into in other parts of the country, like in NYC or Princeton, but I didn’t. Why didn’t I? Because I knew that this one would ultimately accept me, and it required only a minimal amount of stretching and sacrifice. It was more work than if we’d stayed in Waco, and I’d gone for free to Baylor’s seminary, and switched denominations, but it wasn’t that much of a struggle, since I have family in the area, and Austin is such an easy place to come back to.

But, at the end of the day, it isn’t that different from any other number of times where I played the safe choice. My excuse now may revolve more around what is best for my son, but I should be clearer with myself when I am really just using him as an excuse to do or not do something out of fear and laziness.