Tag Archives: friends

The Most Interesting Man I Know (Besides My Dad)

You never know who you might be sitting next to in an English class in High School.

I have a friend who tells stories. That’s not all he does, but his story telling is what has him on my mind this month. As you know, I have been writing and talking a LOT about telling the truth. Not just telling the truth about who left the apartment building door ajar, but telling YOUR truth. Your stories. Your experiences.

Matt Holdaway has always marched to the beat of his own drum. I can still see him loping down the halls of our high school in Rexburg, Idaho, dressed in black. He wore black before black was cool. He was a “New Waver” in a town of cowboys. He was cheerful in a school full of overly serious teens. His easy laugh, which borders on a giggle, was infectious.

Fast forward 20 years and it is Matt Holdaway who makes the greatest effort to keep all us misfit toys from Rexburg together. He flies through Salt Lake on his way to visit his dad and makes sure we all get together. I know he does the same once he reaches that Idaho burg of frozen windswept wasteland.

Matt holds a special place in my teenage heart. He took a picture of me playing the flute in Temple Square, 1990, which, to this day, I believe is the prettiest photo ever taken of me. It captures exactly who I was and how I felt — innocent and sad. He is also one of the few friends I have who ever got to meet my Grandmother Bates. I love her so much, for some reason its comforting he met her.

After high school, most of us misfits from Idaho relocated to the “big city,” AKA, Salt Lake City. Matt started a magazine. It was really more of a booklet of photocopies stapled together. He would print stories, artwork, songs and more that his friends had created. He printed a couple of my songs. The rags were called, “A Multitude of Voices.” As far as I know, he still produces them.

He would also organize huge events he called “A Night of Voices.” The lineup for the evenings would include everything from pantomime to poetry. Looking back, it was a hell of thing to pull off for a kid from Rexburg, newly transplanted in Salt Lake. He was my artistic conscience a lot of the time. I know I was more aware of being truthful in my songwriting when I knew he’d be listening.

Eventually Matt moved to the Bay Area. We haven’t been the kind of friends who check in on each other weekly, monthly or even yearly, but we are true friends. And here is why he is the Most Interesting Man I Know:

  1. Matt tells stories. He doesn’t simply relate an anecdote. He spins a good yarn. When Matt tells a story, everyone within earshot is caught up in it. He is HILARIOUS.
  2. Matt loves people. He loves to find interesting people and introduce them to each other. He has found the ultimate vehicle for this with his weekly radio show, “Radio Voices” which is broadcasted at 104.1 fm on Sundays from 2pm to 4pm in San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley. You can also tune in via the web.
  3. Matt lives and works in a digital world, but his brain is analog. To that end, his life is indexed and annotated manually. He has the most elaborate, yet simple, method of keeping track of his wild machinations. I fear revealing the specifics of his secret will leave him vulnerable to attack, though, so I will refrain.
  4. Matt is a super hero. (Hence my reticence to divulge his method of organization) He is Storm Shadow of the California Cobras. Watch closely, or you’ll miss him. That’s how ninja-like he is:
  5. Matt does all this AND holds down a real-life, actual, career-type, job-job.
  6. Matt has invented his own genre of music. It’s called “Story Rock.” And it rules. His band is called, Matt Holdaway’s Army. You can download some of his stuff through iTunes. You can find him on Rhapsody. And on ReverbNation. And seriously, how much does Matt kick ass?:

So, yeah, Matt’s pretty f***ing cool. But what do I REALLY love about Matt? What is the thing that makes him the Most Interesting Man I Know? He tells the truth. Always. To everyone. He’s not afraid of what the truth will do to anyone. And he does it with a pure heart. Maybe mischievous. Sometimes salacious. but never malicious.

I have been preoccupied, as of late, with what to do next. This 101 day project is coming to a close, for better or for worse, in just 13 days. (Look for big updates!) With all I’ve been ruminating on truth, excess, healthy habits and letting go, I’ve been at a loss as to which of my interests will bare the closest scrutiny. What “voice” of mine is the loudest?  As of today, I have finally decided.

At the end of this 101 day project I will close this site and leave it as a standalone reminder of a journey I took to remember who I really was. The blog I will begin, on the first day of spring, will be about The Truth. I will tell my truth. I will ask others to tell theirs. I will talk about what “truth” means. I hope to discuss with everyone the truth about control, habits, possessions and love. I hope this can be done largely through stories. I’m going to need help, but I’m excited.

So THANK YOU, Matt Holdaway, for being such a good friend, for always telling the truth and for helping me find the next step on my path. You rule. Gooooooooooooo, Bobcats!

Still want more? Subscribe to Matt’s YouTube Channel.

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We Only Get To Do This One Time…

Take A Risk

Lately I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about every tiny move I make. It seems as if the effort to find focus and direction in life has left me a little keyed up. I have been second-guessing my instincts. I have been letting worry get the best of me. I have found myself afraid to ask for the things I want most.

Fear is not an emotion I have a lot of trouble with, usually. Okay, yeah, sure, I have that thing about the dark. But other than that, I usually make a decision, for better or for worse, and I don’t let fear stop me from going after it. Sometimes I have gone after the wrong things. Sometimes my lack of restraint has pushed the thing I wanted further away. But wisdom and restraint don’t seem to be the issues I’m grappling with today.

Today I have been feeling afraid.

When I was a little younger and someone asked me if I thought they should, or should not, try this or that, I would ask, “If you do this, is anyone going to starve to death?” That may be a simplistic litmus test, but you get the point. We often censor ourselves, or keep from taking risks because of how we think other people are going to react, or how we think our actions will affect those around us. But really, most things aren’t life or death. 99.9% of the time, everything works out just fine in the end. You’ll live. I’ll live. They’ll live.

This train of thought reminded me of an essay I read, many moons ago, that inspired me to take up the “no one’s going to starve to death” attitude…

If I had my life to live over, I’d dare to make more mistakes next time. I’d relax, I would limber up. I would be sillier than I have been this trip. I would take fewer things seriously. I would take more chances. I would climb more mountains and swim more rivers. I would eat more ice cream and less beans. I would perhaps have more actual troubles, but I’d have fewer imaginary ones.

You see, I’m one of those people who lived sensibly and sanely, hour after hour, day after day. Oh, I’ve had my moments, and if I had to do it over again, I’d have more of them. In fact, I’d try to have nothing else. Just moments, one after another, instead of living so many years ahead of each day. I’ve been one of those persons who never goes anywhere without a thermometer, a hot water bottle, a raincoat and a parachute. If I had to do it again, I would travel lighter than I have.

If I had my life to live over, I would start barefoot earlier in the spring and stay that way later in the fall. I would go to more dances. I would ride more merry-go-rounds. I would pick more daisies.

–Nadine Stair

I have no doubt that I will find the balance between planning and discipline and spontaneity and risk-taking. And when I find it, I promise to share.

For more wisdom from the elderly, Check out this blog.

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Handling Negative Nancys (and Nathans)

I was asked today in incredulous and almost mocking tones, “Why on Earth are you doing all this?”

I answered, “Because I want to.”

And in reply, “What you really need to be doing…”

I have been shocked at the gamut of reactions the people around me have had to my project. There are really five categories of reactions I’ve come face-to-face with: 1) Supportive; 2) Eeyore; 3) Unsolicited advice; 4) Bizarre personal attacks; 5) Personal attacks disguised as exaggerated relief; and 6) Don’t forget, but you also suck because…

1) Supportive
Most of my friends and family have been so great! I have friends who visit with me while I sort, friends who go with me to raw food restaurants, “buddies” to hold me accountable, and siblings to cheer me on. Thank you so much. I hope to return the favor someday.

2) Eeyore
This reaction sounds like, “There are only so many salads I can eat.” or, “No one would want any of my stuff.” and, “what if you gain weight again?” And so on. It’s funny because it’s so non-sequential. But it’s also not funny because the wet blanket approach often feels like passive aggression disguised as self deprecation. I take comfort in that Eeyore reactions have nothing to do with me.

3) Unsolicited Advice
“You just need to be more organized.” Or, “You just need to leave the (noun) in the same place…” Or, “You should never start running in winter.” Or, “Moderation in all things.” Or, “You shouldn’t get rid of your (nouns).” And no one can help themselves NOT to say, “If you just (cleaned out/picked up/made) the (garbage/the living room/the bed) every day, your (car/home/bedroom) would stay (trash free/so much cleaner/freshened up).”

Speaking for the scatter-brained-fried-from-external-input-barely-keeping-our-heads-above-water crowd, let me just say this: “We KNOW. We’ve tried implementing all that for years! We’re trying right now! Now help us find our keys!”

4) Bizarre Personal Attacks
Bizarre personal attacks are funny to me. Luckily, what the neighbors or casual acquaintances think of me is of little concern, and they are usually the go-to source if you’re shy on Bizarre Personal Attacks.  Mature and well thought-out attacks like, “You aren’t any fun anymore,” or “What good to me are you now?” rarely elicit the response from me I think the attacker was hoping for. In parenting we call the appropriate reaction to illogical behavior the “neutral face.” The neutral face works great on adults, too.

5) Personal attacks disguised as exaggerated relief
“I am sooooooooooo glad to hear that! Your (fill in the blank) has always been terrible!” Personal attacks disguised as exaggerated relief make me want to never discuss anything personal again. I obviously wouldn’t be making changes unless I KNEW my (fill in the blank) was terrible. Finding out that someone else has shared the disdain and has made a note of my undesirable state triggers my retreat response and an old script of mine which demands I withhold all inner thoughts. This is the trickiest response for me to rise above. In this case, the “attacker” usually means no offense. They might even be trying to be validating. Sometimes I think response 5 and 6 both come from the same thinking error.

6) Don’t forget, you also suck because…
It’s a strange and common thinking error to infer that because a person is taking a hard look at their lifetime of choices that their entire life is now fair game to pick apart. When faced with those who want to “help” me remember ALL the things on which I “should” be working on, I want to shout, “You get the lighter fluid! I’ll get the matches! Let’s just burn this bitch to the ground!”

Instead, I hate to say it, but I’ve caught myself shouting at the well meaning, “Stop pointing out ways I fall short!”

In the end, I know that just as my overall motivations have very little to do with most people, I also know that the reactions people give back to me have very little to do with me. It is a human frailty that we personalize what other people say and do, when in reality, we all have scripts with subroutines that overwrite our clarity and objectivity every day.

I can never actually know another’s motivation or intent.  And I further suggest that I can never truly know my own.

SO! As of today, I resolve to let both those who I barely know AND those who I hold dear, react to what I’m trying to do in any way they want, without it affecting me. I know that their reality is their’s alone, as is mine. I will not use their reactions as evidence that I should pull away. Nor will I let any of their negativity infect me.

And as to the question I was asked today, that brought ALL of these feelings to the surface, I have an answer for you, dear friend. You asked me why on earth I was doing all of this?

This is why:

O Me! O life!… of the questions of these recurring; 
Of the endless trains of the faithless—of cities fill’d with the foolish; 
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)
 Of eyes that vainly crave the light—of the objects mean—of the struggle ever renew’d;
 Of the poor results of all—of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me;
 Of the empty and useless years of the rest—with the rest me intertwined; 
The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?

Answer.

That you are here—that life exists, and identity; 
That the powerful play goes on, and you will contribute a verse.

–Walt Whitman

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I would like to change that I forget important things…

Everyone, I imagine, would like to change the fact that they forget important things. I think if a casual poll were taken that most people would agree it is difficult to remember everything we are supposed to do, be, think, say and recall.

But I don’t just blank on a tests, or forget to pick up the (almond) milk. I forget important commitments to other people. It feels like I have a black hole in my internal calendar. I used to think this was because I committed to too much. That is not the case anymore. I am very careful about making any commitments, large or small. I do an internal check for overload and only agree to something when I know I won’t resent committing to it.

And yet, it seems I forget something I promised someone almost every day. I often think I should have a sign made up that I have to wear that says, “Do not depend on me for anything immediate, pressing or detailed!” I feel so guilty and dark when I let people down that I immediately go into retreat mode. In relationships, I almost always default to the flight part of “fight or flight.” My predisposition for becoming a hermit is alarming.

I WANT to be a person who can be depended on. I strive to be someone who always lives up to their promises. So what is the deal?? It’s not like a commitment runs through my mind and I dismiss it, it’s that it gets deleted. And people get mad. THEY SHOULD! Forgetting to do the things we promise we’ll do makes people feel like they don’t matter. I make people feel like I don’t care about them. I am committing to changing that.

I’ve done some research today on using memory cues, iPhone apps and checklists to help me to do better. So far, I’ve come up with a 25-person checklist. This list includes my immediate family members, my “buddies” and my closest friends. I will cultivate the habit of thinking of each person I make commitments to, instead of the commitments themselves.

As of now, I think about commitments like a jumbled mess of demands in my head. Even commitments that I LOVE to be a part of wind up in that mess alongside homework, housework and stuff I dread doing. Dread has a way of infecting the good stuff and pretty soon ALL my commitments present in my consciousness as too much stuff to process.

I believe that through personalizing my feelings each time I am reminded by an iPhone app about a commitment, that I will be less likely to blank-out on them. When I see I’ve promised someone they can borrow my car, for instance, for a very important errand, I will think of the person and hopefully imbed that commitment more firmly. When I put a thought like “lend car” in this head, it obviously does not carry the gravitas needed for it to stick. I will focus less about the commitment itself and more on the people behind each commitment.

My to do lists may end up looking more like lists of greeting card platitudes, but I have a lot of hope it will help me to be better.

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Filed under 101 Day Project, Honing my Habits