On August 28, 2017, I asked a question:
“Would you send me a video you’ve taken that acts as a reminder for why life is worth living?”
In the days that followed, hundreds of people submitted their memories. Their reasons. Bits and pieces of life that attest to its beauty, and each person’s answer in the form of cell phone footage as captured in the moments that were worth it.
I know some of these people, but most, I don’t. Most of whom don’t know one another. And yet, collected in a folder like an umbrella and pieced together in a film as though each clip were absolutely integral to the next:
Every snippet a fraction of the whole whose common denominator is life. I watched every piece of its abundance in the simplest reminders for why it has been worth living:
“Dog at home.”
“Friends talking at sunset.”
“Brother swims after 9-month battle with cancer.”
“You may kiss the bride.”
“Wife holding newborn son.”
I couldn’t hold the tears back.
What was it, I wonder, that was so special about that particular road trip? The one where you filmed the trees passing by through a window smudged with fingerprints and morning dew?
What captured your heart during that specific walk around the neighborhood?
What was going on in your mind that made your lunch in the park so peaceful that day?
What were you laughing about with your mom?
How good was that latte in Houston this week? Was the warmth a dichotomy that filled up your heart while the rainwater filled up your home?
Watching all of these videos—piecing them together—I realized that the humblest reasons made for the most beautiful of them. I thought that it is easy for us to get caught up in comparisons and jealousies, wishing for the grandiose, despairing when the life we’re living doesn’t seem to measure up against the photos that stack up like taunts in our Instagram feed…
But there are no filters on these memories. Just you and the cat crawling on your face, or the sloppiest wedding kiss, or the clumsiest fall into the stream, or the sourest face undone, or the messiest hair unmade.
These unkempt pieces, arguably mundane, that have somehow made their way into our hearts as moments worth remembering.
I wonder what clips you’ll capture tomorrow?
There will be more like them. This from a person who didn’t believe that himself six months ago, etching anxiety into his identity like it was all he could be. But I’ve filmed some videos since then, and no matter what the future holds, I think I’ll film some more.
So will you. That future’s worth staying for. It will be painful at times and it will be bliss at times and some mornings you’ll be drinking Mad Cap or Verve and other mornings you’ll gulp down shit scorching your throat but it’s all worth it. The morning I started writing this poem, my friend—over a godawful cup in a local diner charging specialty prices looked at me and said, “Brother, I’m not gonna lie, the coffee here is horrible.”
I’ve been laughing about it since.
Staying means enduring the burnt pages in these stories, too. They’re all a part of it.
An expensive cup of gourmet garbage.
The conversation overshadowing it, infused with confusion and fear.
The night she left.
The night he left.
The joy of cancer in remission, and the fear that it might come back.
The fight that started halfway through the honeymoon and never quite ended, hanging over the marriage like a storm cloud.
I can’t tell you why, but I can tell you that I’d love to sit with you through it all over a cup of coffee—no matter how it tastes—or over a damn lemon and ginger wellness shot if that’s your thing. The people who have done the same for me have been miracles and hands and feet like a savior knew what he was doing when he gave us one another.
I want to stay for
my mom and
the other Chad and
the dog videos he’s always retweeting and
every single face I’ve seen at every single show and
the tre-flip I’m still working on
and Aaron and
every name I’ll feel bad for forgetting the moment this goes live and
the Christmas Tour and
my cat and
maybe some children and
maybe some of their children and
I want to learn how to roast coffee and
mix a better Old Fashioned and
see Canyon and
Ethan grow up and
my friend’s and family’s marriages healed and
help my wife open a CrossFit gym and
see her dreams come true and
tell you that none of us has any fathomable idea about what’s coming next but it’s coming and
it’s worth it and
there are dark nights and
pitch black ones inside of our souls sometimes and
I don’t think they will last forever but even while they do
these people are flashlights and
they’ve helped me see and
that’s all I’ve been praying for for years now and
they’re answers and
I pray for answers as people as flashlights in the night with a warm mug in hand for you today.
My grandfather used to pray a prayer over me: “The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.”
To you, reader, I close with a thank you. I want to say thank you for being a means of blessing and grace and peace to me. Thank you for being such a necessary part of the reason that I want to stay and find what I was made for. I can’t do it without you. We can’t do it without one another. Each of these pieces feels integral to the next because they are.
Stay. Find what you were made for.
Watch “It’s All Worth Living For” by Levi the Poet here. Disclaimer: This video contains mature content, including images and verbal mentions of alcohol. Please use your discretion before viewing.