A Life of Greater Adventure: Chapter 1, Discovering that you’re on an adventure

20 01 2018
Map

Credit: Kyle Zentmeyer

Interestingly enough, the hardest part of this writing adventure is going to be the starting;  Which Ironically, is what I’m planning on talking about right now.  It’s pretty easy to catch yourself in a rut.  Some days you just have to take one day at a time.  Finding your way into an adventure can seem like a bit of a trick.

Before we begin, I feel like now would be a good moment to mention a couple of things first.  I’m not a professional, and I’m just making up these ideas as they come to me.  Second, I am a Christian, and I believe certain things about our origins, our future and a certain set of moral standards.  That being said, this isn’t a sermon, and while I will draw some aspects from the Bible, these ideas herein are, as mentioned before, are just a series of ideas that I’ve had.  So here we go.

So… There you are, sitting reading (I’m sure you’re reading. you might be standing or laying down…).  So… There you are, in some position, reading (or listening via text to speech… whatever).  And I bet you’re thinking to yourself: I’m in a rut and would like to go on an adventure.  Well guess what? You’re already on your way.  There’s just a few things you have to check on first before you step across that threshold.  Do you have your grappling hook?  That’s okay, it’s optional.

Most importantly, you need to know where this adventure will ultimately lead to.  A map is going to come in handy, metaphorically speaking (and possibly literally).  Each point on the map represents a potential goal.  This can be anything from getting into better shape, to curing cancer, to being a better person.  Whether or not you think you can reach whatever goal you set, you should still set it; otherwise, you’ll get a whole lot of nowhere fast.  Have an idea in mind? No? Well… Keep reading; something might come to you.

Another important part is knowing how to get from here to there.  So where is here?  In the world of adventures you should consider yourself a level one character.  That is to say: you have no gear, no plan, a miniscule number of skills and in most cases are fairly squishy, so try not to get yourself killed just yet.  We have to prep accordingly.

Once we know where we’re going we need to know how we’re going to get there.  We need to plan for potential dangers as well as everyday necessities. We need to look at our map and think about everything we’ll need to pack.

Lastly, in games, movies and books our heros and adventures are governed by a set of rules. It’s just how life works.  Even if you choose to disagree, I find that the Bible is a core foundational set of rules that works very well.  And beside the fact that I hold everything in it to be true, I will be using as my rulebook to this adventure guide.

Next time, we’ll dig into more specifics on setting your goals.  I’ll be using my goals as the example: To be Christ’s warrior, a hero to those in need, and to be the king of my kingdom

Are you ready to start a grand adventure? I hope so, because you’re already on the path of one.  Adventures are rarely glamorous.  Much like our everyday lives, we’re given problems and choices.  What makes it a memorable adventure instead of a mundane daily task is your attitude towards it.

We have an opportunity here that I don’t want to miss out on.  There is an ever-present chance to engage ourselves in an active roll in our own lives.  It would be a shame if we laid down our gear and said “we’re close enough”.

This week’s challenge: every two (three) weeks I’ll issue a new challenge.  I simple idea that I myself will be shooting for. I encourage you to join in! This time, I challenge you, if you don’t already, to go out and get a rulebook (Bible) to follow along (Bible gateway has a free app… It’s painless to use and it’s informative at the very least… Do it… Try it… Go on an adventure).  If you need more direction, start with the book if Romans (it’s towards the back).

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The Techobell Epiphany

18 01 2017

I thoroughly enjoy people watching.  I do it pretty much wherever I go; School, Church, Stores, restaurants, and fast food places that are also sometimes called “restaurants” (in a loose sense).  Although the location doesn’t really matter for my story, I often find a certain diversity at a certain “restaurant” (“*cough cough* ‘look at the title’ *cough*”).

Sometime after I got in line but before an older lady asked me about where I got my bookbag/satchel/man-purse, I observed a family sitting at a nearby table.  There were two little girls who were peering through the little divider wall decorations (whatever they’re called… you know; the ones you looked through the little holes of when you were little).  I immediately had flashbacks to when I did it as a kid.  It struck me odd that nobody taught me to do it.  In fact: I was often scolded for it as it often meant bothering the table next to ours.  But here it was, two complete strangers, who’s childhood reflected my own.

I suppose it could be obvious that children are exploratory in nature.  Their curiosity at that stage in life seems to have no social boundaries or expectations.  More importantly, I found it interesting that, these kids could take in a whole 360o view of their environment, but instead chose to looks through a small hole in a divider.  At first I wondered if that experience somehow correlated to this up-coming generations knowledge and fascination with tablets and phones.  As if they preferred looking through a box rather than the whole world because to them, that’s how they saw the world.

But then I considered that I did the same thing when I was little (before I really discovered computers, and before cell-phones and tablets were even common-place things).  So these kids in that unnamed taco place (ring any bells?), weren’t likely trying to view the world only from a boxed perspective, and were genuinely just exploring the world as kids do/should, than what was with kids’ fascination with limiting their exploration by narrowing their visual observation capacity?

It then occurred to me that maybe, just maybe, that this idea of visually focusing on a smaller area, is what makes learning easier.  Instead of being bombarded by all the information at once, children prefer to focus on one idea, study it, and then learn.  Taking this one step further, the trend of really little people… like three-year-old’s being able to navigate their parents’ phones (or heaven forbid: their own phones!) with ease, might be under the same concept of the “boxed perspective”.  The consequences of fast moving, interactive experiences on “toddler-tablets” still is up in the air, but it’s very clear that this young generation certainly knows how to use them.

Fast forward in my story about 20 minutes, as I’m eating my stuffed tube of flour patty.  In my defense, it’s not eves-dropping if your talking in public.  Anyway, there is a gentleman behind me trying to explain google search to another older gentleman who is likely in his 80’s.  I was fascinated at the cultural difference between this older gentleman and what I presume to be a completely tech-savvy kinder-culture.

First off, the learning process was completely different.  I hear all the time about children learning through discovery, or hands-on approaches.  But this older gentleman wasn’t grasping the concept of what the internet even was.  The other guy was trying to explain what you could do on the internet, and had to change tactics about half way through my lunch to: This is how you do this.  It was a methodical process.  This individual even stated “once you memorize how to do it, you’ll be good to go.”  It was shocking to me to suddenly realize that how we learn might not be entirely based on nature.  Rather, each generation’s education was built upon the nurture of whatever system was in play.  We’ve seen the old shows, where students sit in a class of even rows of desks, reciting times-tables verbatim.   Compare that today to a broadcast I heard about modern classrooms that often don’t even use desks.

I’m not advocating a specific system of learning, or that even one is more effective than the other, and certainly not how we measure the effectiveness of education (that’s another rant).  But whatever the case, however we learn in our youth seems to stick with us.  Whether it’s a process-based method, or an world exploration.  The saying: “You can’t teach old-dogs new tricks,” may only be logical if consider this: “You can’t un-teach old dogs old tricks.”oHow





Love, Poets, and a Sip of Tea

5 10 2016
20161005_112335

“A Literary Review”, 2016, EIC: Jordan Macklin, A Colorado Mesa University Publication

I was sitting around at school in a chair that’s just uncomfortable enough that it reminds me that I have somewhere else to be eventually.  The reds and yellows of the chairs and floor offset the plain white wall that reach up to the white ceiling.  I’m caught off guard by a brightly colored book.  It’s covered in neon paint splashes.  The top half: a pair of eyes stare out into the real world.  The bottom half: the words scrawled across, “The Literary Review”.  Okay, I’ve got a little time to stall before I get back to work.

I crack open this, what I assume to be freshly printed, book.  It’s published by my school and filled with students’ works.  It’s sorted by sections; Fiction, non-fiction, theater, poetry, etc..  A few photographs and drawings filled in between sections.  Poetry was the first section, and as I’m clearly the kind of guy that does things in an organized matter (that’s sarcasm for those who don’t know me), I started there.  I thumbed through the pages.  It was a small collection, but as I stopped and glanced from poem to poem, I saw the same themes in every single one.  Nearly each containing a regret, a lament, or even a loathing for the world they found themselves in.  I find it disheartening that my generation finds itself lost in uncertainty and imperfection.

“I was built to break.
Not to meticulously pick apart,
Not to solve
Scenes as fine-spun as her.”

Fecundity, Shannon Kay Spoon, The Literary Review, 2016

Poetry and stories have always been a form of self-expression;  whether the intent of the the author is to be as such.  I’ve written some depressing stuff before too, and so I get it.  I get that sometimes the only outlet is to write.  However; there is a pattern here that seems impossible to ignore.  Each presumably submitted as their best works, their showcase, the art that they want to be remembered.  Do we prefer to revel in the darkness and din of our own wandering?  have we forgotten the beauty of life and love?20151006_184804

Yesterday, my mother asked me: “How do you know you love her?” I’d prepared for this answer for months with almost certainty that someone would eventually ask.  With skill and precision and with near perfect recital, having been as prepared as I was (once again… sarcasm), I said: “you know, I can’t really explain it.”  My mom has a cherish-able habit of asking me deep personal questions when I’m strapped down into a seat and unable to escape… perhaps I deserve that fate.   But anyway, there I was, unable to give an explainable answer.  I couldn’t describe it.  I know with absolute certainty that it’s true, and will forever remain so; but I couldn’t explain it.

It seems easier for people to explain feelings of angst and uncertainty than it is to explain beauty or joy.  We’ve become accustomed to analyzing suffering and despair.  People have made livings on telling what’s wrong with the picture.  With answers ‘they’re depressed’, ‘they were mentally unstable’, ‘their environment wasn’t allowing them to succeed’ we seem to have been indoctrinated that in order to be happy we must understand why people are not.  We look at our worldly pains and study them, we adapt to them, and in a sick and twisted way, we’ve melded to them.  The idea of ‘expressing ourselves’ often comes out as “this is why I/the world sucks.”

*pauses… sips tea… resets perspective.

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The Irony in my message today is the bleak outlook I may have painted of the matter.  This is anything but true!  I take issue with this, not because “you’re poems suck, and you’re a terrible person,” but because I know that the world we live in is full of good things.  The words we speak or write need not be tainted with negativity, as our ‘outlet’ to feel, but they should rather fill us with hope and longing to improve our condition.

Take joy my friends.  Dance among the stars! Yes, a moment of grief and solitude may be needed, but don’t forget that it is not a life worth living by itself.  Singers: Sing of the summer rain and the flowers of spring.  Dancers: dance with the heart of a warrior, and the grace of an angel.  Painters: imprint on us the bold colors of life.

Poets and writers, a special creed I offer to you: Loose your shackles of bitterness and regret.  Oh scribes of our souls, heed not the warnings of fear and despair.  Adventure forth into the world, peering into the corners of our furthest hopes.  Grow not weary or disheartened.  Seek through mire of hopelessness.  For all can already see what is clearly in front of us.  Seek deeper, wander farther, share with the world what it does not know.  May your works bring wonder and awe to all who see.  Do not find peace in serenity of hopelessness.  Find it instead in the words of the kind, the brave, the virtuous, and the wise.  Be those words.





Why I will always list Hawk Nelson among my favorite bands.

9 03 2016

I was thinking the other day how we can influence people without even meaning to.  Whether for better or for worse, our actions can effect anyone even in the littlest ways.  I’ve had many role models in my life that have changed my life in so many ways.  But I had an encounter once, where a few people I believe (in retrospect) changed my life in a simple way.

I was a young, unsure middle-school/home school-er.  In the “big city” of the Western Slope, Grand Junction, there was a concert… the “big concert”.  Hawk Nelson, Audio Adrenaline, Skillet (which at the time I wasn’t ‘cool’ enough to like), and Toby Mac were all playing.  Three of my (now four) favorite groups, all for something like $25.

It was windy, it was cold and in Western Colorado… we didn’t have “big concerts”.  The reason being of course was that the rodeo grounds (yes, that’s where it was at), were pretty much empty.   There were maybe a hundred to a hundred-fifty people there.  To make matters worse: about 2/3 of the way through the show, it got so windy that they had to cancel the rest due to safety concerns on stage.

That was OK with me because I had their CD’s anyway (especially my favorite still to this day: HN’s “Letters to the President”)… which needed some autographs.  Under the stadium seating (indoors) the autograph lines made it feel more like there were a thousand people, especially for a surprisingly small middle-school kid whose (awesome) dad took him and despite having friends who were there, he didn’t hang out with because mosh pits full of big, scary high-school’ers is… well, scary.

After being hustled through the autograph lines for AA, and Toby Mac (that’s the short version), I tried to find the “best band of all”… Hawk Nelson.  Down a hall and outside through an obscure side-door, four pink-colored sweater-vest wearing artists, were casually “hanging out” with the other 16 or so fans in line.  They took their time to talk with each of them briefly as they signed all the stuff we pushed at them.  Granted their smaller fan-base allowed them to take their time.

I’m always nervous when I talk to cool people, but when they complemented me on my bright, hunters orange jacket I’m pretty sure I lost my mind.  The next 30 seconds involved them talking and me likely babbling nervously (it was all kind-of a blur after that).  But when our interactions were done, I remember thinking to myself: “Wow… that was cool.  If I ‘m ever famous, I want to act like these guys.”

A decade and a half-ish later, I’m clearly still not famous, but that one moment is still burned into my mind.  I’ve since learned though that you don’t have to be famous to be kind to others.  We all go about in our busy lives and we have just as many opportunities to either check people off of our list or stop and take 30 seconds to make a difference.





Words We Live By

9 09 2015

Dead Poets Society (1989)

“So avoid using the word very, because it’s lazy. A man is not very tired, he is exhausted. Don’t use very sad, use morose. Language was invented for one reason boys – to woo women – and, in that endeavour, laziness will not do.” ~ Robin Williams, Dead Poets Society (1989)

All joking aside, Robin Williams wasn’t too far from the point.  I, would argue to say that wooing women is certainly not the only reason.  Words and how we use them are a crucial factor in how we relate to people.  It’s said that actions speak louder than words; however, I’d wager that the words we speak, are more potent than we can imagine.

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Late Summer Update

6 08 2015
Forgetting To Swim

Forgetting To Swim – Kyle Zentmeyer, Photoshop

“Whoa! I have a blog,” I say, every time I feel like updating something that isn’t my Facebook or Instagram.  So here’s the short update: my summer at Camp Pine Ridge in Michigan is wrapping up quickly and school is speeding towards me at break-neck velocities.  Money things are stupid as always, and I’m stressed about finding a job this fall that will cover basic living expenses during school.  But I’ve made it this far, so I guess there’s no going back now.

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Memory

1 04 2015

Memory

By: Kyle Zentmeyer

Moon Blossom, By: Kyle Zentmeyer

Moon Blossom, By: Kyle Zentmeyer


             The earie blue light of the moon flooded in my bedroom window.  The beams of feint light only broken into fragments by the large oak tree outside that I used to climb as a kid.  I rolled over in my bed again, cracking open a single eye only to wince at the glaring red printout on my bed-stand reminding me that time doesn’t stop.  Three-thirty-three AM.

I decided to let my mind wander freely.  I had hoped that by freeing it from its chains of reality that it would quickly find itself safely asleep.  But then the most curious thing happened.  It left.  My minds exit was so abrupt that it managed to rip a whole clean through my reality.  It teared through the room looking for a way out… or maybe it was looking for something to latch on to.  Either way, my mind was now free.

So there I was: Sitting straight up in my bed; startled by the shock of what had just happened.  My thoughts, my memories, my emotions bounced out into my room in every color and shape imaginable.  The light quickly faded as the ideas and dreams of my life settled gently to the floor.  I thought this was it.  This is all that there was to my existence.  Every thought and action that I made now lay in front of me as they quickly faded out of time.  Was this what was to become of me? Everything that I have committed to memory simple faded away, with no one but myself to watch?

I blinked once or twice, hoping that the dream would be over, but there was more… so much more.  The euphoric sense of wonder subsided and I now was in my room again.  But wait, there’s still some memories glowing steadily like embers in a dying fire, flitting through the air quietly.  I could almost see through each one, each time my eye followed one images flashed through the room.  A birthday party, vacation at grandma’s house, walking along the old dirt road with my dad, taking my mom to dinner, playing games with my family, going on hikes with my friends.  Each image cast out onto the walls in plain view.  “These must be the strong ones” I told myself.

The room grew darker, and even the strongest memories grew dim.  And that’s when I felt it.  There were more memories in the room.  They was scratching at the closet door, begging to be released.  But how could I do it? I was the one that put them there.  Locking them away hoping that no one would see.  These memories, the bad mistakes, the missed opportunities, the things that can never be undone that I did, all lying in wait, likely to pounce upon me all at once should I open the door.  I battled there in the corner of the room.  Pulling and tugging at my mind, trying to bring it back in… but it was too late.  The door had been opened.

Unlike the good memories, that floated about in a dazzling display that warmed the heart, these that now lumbered about my room, aimlessly trying to find something to devour, were not light at all.  They were neither black nor white nor any shade in between.  They just were.  Big ugly skeletons, each one with their own disfigured, mangled appearance.  I tried not to make eye contact.  Each glance burned horrible images into my eyes, aching me to my very bones.  I closed my eyes to them and turned away.  What harm were they to bring down upon me? What retribution did they seek? I couldn’t stand the idea of not knowing, so I opened my eyes and looked back.  It still hurt.

These skeletons seemed at first to by mindlessly searching the room.  But then I realized, that they were gathering.  Some of them at the door to the outside, and some at the window, that the moonlight had long since disappeared from.  Curious, I very gingerly crept out from the safety of my bed’s comforter, and tip-toed first to the window.  The beasts that had gathered there seemed to be looking out, completely ignoring my own presence.  I peeked over the shoulder of one exceptionally grotesque one.  I could hear the cries of my little brother as I pushed him to the ground in my childhood emanating from the bones of the thing next to me… I had to turn away.  The one I peered over was different.  Different than the others.  It was less dark, and darker and… well… was less of anything.  It felt… alone.  At first it didn’t make any sound. But as the room grew quieter, this monster now inches from myself, grew almost louder without making a single sound itself.

I looked away again and the things in the room continued about their business, still seemingly unaware that I was watching.  I squinted my eyes as I looked out the window.  And that’s when I saw, that I was not alone.  Thousands — maybe millions of skeletons roamed through the world.  At first I saw them down in my lawn and down on the street, but then I saw across the world, each skeleton wandering around seemingly aimless as my own.  Then one of them, close but not too particularly close looked up.

It stared right past all the monsters of my own, and looked at me.  It was not close, nor particularly far.  It was at my window staring down at me with its big blank eyes.  I couldn’t see it, but unlike my own, there was nothing to be felt.  I didn’t understand it but I felt like it was calling out to me.  Was it another skeleton I was about to add to my disheveled collection of my own? I felt as though I wanted to reach out to it.  I put my hand up to the icy window pane, nearly against my own will.  A chill went down my back.  Then I felt something else move again.

From behind me, a creature I knew all too well… slowly reached out over me.  The darkest of them all.  A memory so deep that it’s become an emotion of its own.  I tried to scream in terror, fearing that this was the end.  As it reached the skeleton on the other side of the glass also reached out, mirroring the shadow behind me.  They touched together, where my hand had now been frozen in place with fear.  I gritted my teeth and shut my eyes hard.  If only I hadn’t reached out.

I opened my eyes again.  All the monsters at my window had gone… or… at least they didn’t seem to matter now.  There, on the other side, where a looming shadow once stood, was another person.  Not a whole lot like me, but somehow, I knew this person.  I knew a little of what it was like to be them.  Not all of them.  But I understood part of what ran deep through them… and through me.  I smiled, and they smiled back.  Their smile exploded into a glorious array of light.  Not terrifying, but intense.  It filled my room with memories that I have not yet known.  Each one more brilliant than the next.  Most of them were good, and burned bright and strong.  But it wasn’t over.

I heard a bump behind me.  I turned with a start to see that the rest of my skeletons, still cutting through me like a knife when I looked, leaning against the door.  On the other side I heard shouting, and crying, and could smell the death of the world trying to break through.  More mistakes, more heartache, lurched at its seams.  My skeletons still hideous and unbearable in their own right were pushing back now.  They held strong at the gate to what was now my fortress.  All of my past sins were now pushing back the tide of more trying to enter in.  They had barricaded my soul up to any more out.  These were the skeletons that I had locked away.

The skeletons faded.  The battle had been won for now.  I crawled back into my bed, as the light from my memory filled the room, and colors of every sort danced about me.  “What was to become of these memories?” I wondered.  And as I wondered this a figure glided through my room.  From out of nowhere, the same person that I had met through the window was now pacing about.  And then more figures, all of whom I recognized came in, each going about looking at each of my memories.  The person from my window looked fondly at one that only moments earlier they had created.  They reached out and plucked it from the air, took half of it, and placed it in their pocket.  The other half floated back into the room, unusually brighter than before.  As each character in the room partook in my memory, each light grew brighter and brighter, until there wasn’t a thing to be seen but a blinding light, so beautiful and warm, it made everything else in the room insignificant.  The guitar, the computer, the bed, the walls themselves, all seemed to fade away at the corners of the ever growing light.

My eyes opened once again.  Three-thirty-three AM.  The earie blue light of the moon flooded in my bedroom window.


Thank you for reading.