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Musings in Missoula

April 4, 2014

“I’m in love with Montana. For other states I have admiration, respect, recognition, even some affection. But with Montana it is love. And it’s difficult to analyze love when you’re in it.”
– John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley

Last weekend, I decided to take an impromptu trip to Missoula to visit the Zooks. I came out here to clear my head before I start my new job. Today’s Friday, and I leave tomorrow – my head is more clear than it’s been in awhile.

1) In another life, I would live in Missoula.

  • It’s where Portland, OR and Laramie, WY meet – the best of both worlds. It has a similar culture and weirdness of Portland, but small enough to maintain the community, college-town feel of Laramie. People don’t seem to be in a rush here. It’s got the open sky, the mountains, the plains, trees, bars, coffee shops, and all kinds of local businesses.
  • There are cowboys and hunters here that influence the culture just as much as the hipsters and coffee-buffs.
  • There are surfers here, not just the couch variety. ‘Nough said.

2) We all need more friends like Brandon and Bailey.

  • Any time I spend around the Zooks, I come away feeling uplifted and inspired.
  • You can be your true self around the Zooks. They’ll make fun of you for it, but let’s face it we all need to be made fun of.
  • The things I like to pretend I am, and sing about – they are. They’re truly humble. They go about their life, quietly staying true to their convictions. They’re always serving others and the world both near and far. You go on a hike with them, and they’ll come back with hands full of loose trash. They’ll go out of their way to improve your life, have an open conversation, or at the very least lend a smile and expect absolutely nothing in return.

3) Beer is good.

  • There are a lot of breweries here, and therefore good beer. And I like the taste of good beer.

4) It’s time to listen.

  • I haven’t been listening as of late, which is a big reason why I needed to come here and clear my head. I knew I could be still and listen here. Yesterday, I spent the afternoon outside in the sun looking at the river, the clouds, and reading. My attentions span three weeks ago wouldn’t have allowed for that – at least not with the same level of enjoyment.
  • Part of my dissonance as of late has been based in worry – worry in what I was saying, that I was saying too much, or wasn’t saying enough, or that what I was saying was bullshit. I forgot to listen to my surroundings. That’s when I am happiest and most at peace with myself – when I feel the freedom to say nothing and be. What I’ve realized about myself is that if I’m talking just to talk, I’m not in a healthy place. I’ve been doing that quite a bit lately.

5) Sure, I’m an asshole, but that’s beside the point.

  • I often find myself focusing too much on my faults, or on what I’m not, rather than embracing my gifts – my true self. I’m completely missing the point when my focus lies on my sins. It’s not healthy to be so hard on yourself. You have to accept grace in order to give grace.
  • I often feel like I have to swim upstream in order to follow my convictions, and so then I let myself grow weary. I find myself floating along the current. Maybe the ride is more enjoyable floating along the lazy river, but then I realize the destination is filled with emptiness.
    A life of ease is not the goal – that is a very boring goal.
    Salmon literally swim themselves to death in order to lay their eggs and keep their species going.
    Are you willing to swim yourself to death to maintain shalom? The only way to do it sanely is find a way to do so joyfully – and that’s different for everyone. Trust yourself and let go – swim with all your might.
  • I, I, I, I often feel very self-indulgent doing what I love. But, that’s mostly just a lie I tell myself. It’s just an excuse to hold myself back. You have to be a little self-indulgent to do what I want to do, and you have to be somewhat delusional.
    Does a great rock climber spend her time complaining about the the selfishness of her climb? No. She simply enjoys the challenge of the climb, knowing that they joy she receives carries the necessary weight. Just focus on lifting your own link of the chain, and have faith that it’s enough.
  • Rob Bell wrote, “In the New Testament, we are not identified first and foremost as sinners, but as saints. Saints who sin. This is important: Your primary identity, your true self, is found in who you are in Christ, not in the ways you have disrupted shalom.”

    A Missoulian Shalom.

    A Missoulian Shalom.

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