Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Goal Setting for Dummies

I’m standing in the empty living room of our apartment in Toronto. I’m standing because there are no chairs but you’d probably have guessed that from the part where I said it was empty. If I followed my habits, I’d probably be playing Destiny or Titanfall or maybe Diablo 3 (although I haven’t been playing that as much lately) but I’m in an empty apartment with only a sketchy cellular connection for internet so no video games for me.

I had this moment of clarity the other day. I accompanied my supervising pastor on a pastoral visit a few weeks ago. While we were on this visit, I remembered something I read in a news article about older people having regrets about certain things later in life and how those regrets are usually based around not deciding the right things are important.  This led me to think about my own life and what I think is important. I make the note about what games I’m playing right now because to be honest, that’s most of what I do when I’m not working. I watch stuff with Amanda and hang out with her, I do chores, or I play whatever game I’m working on. I like playing games, don’t get me wrong, but I have a feeling that in my later years I’ll probably look back on my life and think “I wish I had played less games and done more of ____”.  But right now I don’t really have something to fill that blank with. When I thought about it, I wasn’t sure what I would have wanted to spend more time on. My future has been a series of rabbit trails recently and I no longer have clear goals about what I want to do. So I did what any white Canadian would do in the face of a lack of goals. I went to Lululemon’s website and downloaded their goal setting worksheet.  The experience has been interesting so far. I’ve learned that writing stories and writing is something that’s important to me, but I haven’t settled on a whole lot else. I don’t know what pastoring will look like in ten years (which is what they want you to imagine) and the world is looking more and more different every year so it’s really hard to say where I’m supposed to be in the future.
But I’ve got this writing thing, so that’s good. I’ll let you know when I get any more than that.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Better Man (But Maybe Not The Best)

My best friend got married this summer, and by best friend I mean my best guy friend. Amanda is my best friend but she's also my wife so I don't really call her my best friend very often. Jason is the person who is most commonly called my best friend. He's the one who got married. I was his best man. I don't think I was the best man but I'd say I was pretty good. Here is why.

A few days before his day of matrimony, Jason asked me to call him. I did and we went over a few of the last minute details of what was going on. There was a twitch of nervous excitement in his voice. You could tell that thinking about a hundred other things while he was talking to me. He's getting married so I guess its to be expected. We spoke for five minutes and forty three seconds. I thought to myself "that was not enough time. I am going to forget something". I then walked away and didn't think about the wedding again until Friday afternoon.

On our way to the rehearsal, I began to run through the checklist of things I needed to remember. Clothes, wedding gift, hotel room for the weekend. I was pretty sure I had everything. All I needed to do was write down something for my best man speech. Surely there would be time to do that over the course of the evening. We arrived at the rehearsal and the nervous energy present became immediately apparent. Jason was not nervous per se but you could definitely tell that he was anxious to get things going and make sure all was in order. When my wedding happened a few weeks later, I immediately recognized the feelings I saw in Jason.

After the rehearsal, we headed over to Jason's parents place for a barbecue. I told Jason we were going to check in to our hotel room on the way there because there would be no time later on. Amanda and I got in the car and drove to our hotel. We arrived and went to check in.

"What's the reservation under?" the gentleman at the counter asked
"Ben Gresik" I said.

He paused and looked at his computer for a minute before saying "There's a reservation here for you for next week."

I realized that I had booked the hotel room for the wrong weekend and now we were here with no hotel when there were few rooms available. We thanked the people at the counter and left to try one more hotel to see if we could get a room. How could I have been so stupid? Who books the hotel for the wrong weekend. Me apparently.

We got to the next hotel and were grateful to discover that they had rooms available both nights of our stay. We had to move rooms but they said they would move our luggage so it wasn't an issue. Crisis averted.

When we arrived at the barbecue, I was feeling foolish. Jason asked me to help barbecue. I fumbled through the routine feeling awkward and forced. Jason came over to chat.

"Are you ready for tomorrow?" he asked.
"Yep. Are you?" I replied.
"Yeah. Have you got your belt?" he asked jokingly.

When Jason had called me about the wedding earlier, I had asked him if he could pick me up a belt. I had not been able to find one for the Superman belt buckle he had purchased for the wedding. He said that was fine. He had told me later in the week that he had found a belt too. This was joke time. We were joking. I laughed.

"Have you got your vest?"

I didn't know how to respond. We were just having joke time. Was this still a joke? Because I didn't have a vest. I stammered.

"Seriously?" Jason said, with thinly veiled frustration in his voice. I was hoping he didn't yell at me. I know he wouldn't but for a moment I was worried.

Luckily I did indeed have a vest, just not with me. I told him that I could just drive back to Westport early the next morning and pick it up. Everything would be ok. Everything except the fact that I felt really stupid. Driving to Westport also meant that there would be less time to work on my speech. If I messed that up, then I'd probably get kicked off the head table.

The speech hung over my head for the remainder of the wedding preparations. I thought about it all the way to Westport at two AM. I thought about it while I slept for four hours at my parents house,  and I thought about it all through the ceremony. Cait, another wedding party member on Jason's side had sent me her speech to read over weeks ago. Why hadn't I done the same?

Finally, after pictures but before dinner was scheduled to start, Amanda and I walked back to the car and picked up our wedding gifts for Jason and Victoria. While we were there, I scrawled out some notes for my speech. When I was happy with the outline, we walked over to dinner. The rest of the evening went blissfully by.

I blame wedding stupor for the fact that Jason didn't depose me from my position. I'm glad for it though. In my speech I got to tell everyone how Jason is a really great guy and has been a great friend to me through some difficult times. If I was booted from my position, there would have been no chance for that and that would have been sad.

One more thing. If you're ever the best man at your best friends wedding, do yourself a favour and plan things ahead of time. You'll be doing both yourself and your groom a favour. And then you'll truly be the best man.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Florida (Part 2)

Once we get out of the Orlando airport, we hop on "Disney's Magical Express" which is a fancy name for their airport shuttle service. Every bus is coach-style with TVs everywhere and video entertainment playing during your entire trip. The bus is freezing cold (something I will discover is apparently normal at Disney) but we are on our way. Amanda is so excited to get to Disney. I am still taking all of the Florida-ness of the experience in. With things playing on the television and the darkness outside, I have no idea what the landscape looks like. I can only guess from the swamps and the shapes of the freeways. I lay back and decide to go along for the ride.

Three days later I awake and realize that I haven't had a moment to be bored since we have arrived. There has always been something to do and this if the first moment where I've sat down and had a free thought that wasn't about something Disney related. This is the most notable thing from the trip. Let me back up a bit an explain some of the things we did.

After arriving, checking into our hotel room, and getting some dinner we make plans to go to Magic Kingdom the next day. Amanda is excited. I am curious but not too sure about the whole thing. Once we arrive and start doing things though I feel better already. There's so much to see and do. We are sitting in an attraction that simulates a breakout of Stitch from "Lilo and Stitch" and there are animatronic puppets and stereo sound and smells coming out of it. The puppets are what get me. I thought they would be lame, but they are actually really cool (especially the newer ones). The look good enough to be impressive but not so good that they become creepy. We enjoy many animatronic rides on this day, run around the park and generally have a good time. We eat dinner at 9 pm in an Italian place based on the Italian restaurant from Lady and the Tramp. We return to bed exhausted. This will become a regular occurrence for me.

The next day we go to Hollywood Studios and I discover that there is some nostalgia for Disney films buried within me. We watch a musical presentation of Beauty and The Beast and I can feel my face start to twitch as I am about to cry.

Let me back up for a second and recount to you a conversation I had with friends Gimli, Jessie, and Patrick before leaving for the honeymoon. We were talking about crying and my first input was

"The last time I cried was in the movie 50/50 which was three years ago and the last time before that was 4 years earlier". Someone says "that can't be healthy". I explain that I'm not trying to hold it in, I just seem to experience emotions differently than other people. I couldn't imagine crying over something sentimental like a Disney movie.

So we're sitting here and watching this mini-musicale and "Something There" is being performed and I can feel my cheeks twitch. What is happening? Disney has nearly found my emotional switch and its only the second day! What is going on? This experience will happen to me several other times on the trip, usually with a connection to music. It seems that all I needed to remember how much I liked Disney music and stories is to spend a week immersed in them over and over again.

On Thursday I decided I wanted to watch "The Little Mermaid" again so Amanda and I sat down and watched it after calling it a day at the park early. A week ago I would have told you that this was a stupid idea. Now it seems like a wonderful plan.

I really enjoyed our vacation at Disney World. It was a different experience for me and made me feel a bit like a kid again. It also completely messed with my emotions in the best way possible. Though I'm not sure I'd want to go back, I'm glad Amanda took me.

But I'm also glad to be back in Ontario.