Wednesday, January 12, 2011

TOMS Shoes, Hipsters and Smoke Detectors

I'm sure you've heard of TOMS shoes. You know, the shoes that look like canvas and a pair is given away to a child in need whenever you buy one? (Although I'm wondering how a small child in Ethiopia is managing wearing the same pair of wedges I bought for my wife, but that's beside the point).

I'm a big fan of that company if for nothing else than it became popular for being a charitable organization by supporting and supplying children in need with pairs of shoes. We take for granted the 12-80 pairs of shoes in our closet.

I own a pair and my wife owns a few pairs and I suppose we'll purchase more in the future because they go to a good cause.

Don't worry, this isn't another righteous thinking blog. I'm going to make fun of hipsters, just be patient.

Anyway, last night, in my drunken stupor of sleep (not actually drunk, just using adjectives), somewhere between 10-15 minutes before my blaring smoke detector woke me up, I had this thought: Hipsters and the beneficiaries from TOMS shoes aren't so group is just trying to be ironic.

Think about it. The children in need who receive these shoes are pretty similar to the super modern, hyper-cool, anti-whatever-you-say, stick-it-to-modern-thinking, mac-book-pro, consumer whores I call hipsters.

First, and most obvious, both groups wear TOMS shoes. Sure the kids wear the generic gray flats to match their school uniforms while we wear something called a "Vegan Wrap", which I always thought was a sandwich and not something you put your toes in. Then again, there's no telling what vegan will put their feet in. I know, I'm related to two of them.

They both wear jeans or pants that are two to four sizes too small. Some on purpose because they don't like the thought of being able to have children, others because its the one pair of jeans their family owns.

They both wear shirts that should have never been made. Some wear "2004 Carolina Panther's Super Bowl Champions" shirts because they're ironic, others because they received a box of them from some good natured Americans, and, hey, who ever doubted that Jake Delhomme could win a Super Bowl?

Often both groups will use a strand of rope or old twine as a belt, and fashion other useful items out of duct tape. One group because they don't have any money and struggle to afford basic hygiene, and the other group because they live in a third world country and are being oppressed.

To cap off any outfit, both grab whatever garbage is laying around and hang it from their neck or stick it through their ears or on a hat and call it "accessorizing". I'm no fashion guru, but I know enough to say that a'int right.

So it appears we're not so different after all. Think of that the next time you want to wear a Hawaiian shirt and sport coat to a club to stand out. There are poor children all over the world wearing the same thing and pretending to be 1985 Super Bowl winner Dan Marino.

Or when you want to wear a fedora and a cardigan while taking artsy worm's-eye view photos of people's feet. Keep in mind, there are tiny grandpa's all over the world doing the same thing.

They say history repeats itself, I say artsy hipster's are the bane of the existence of the modern-era man.

But what do I know?  I'm the guy who wakes up to a smoke detector instead of a regular alarm. So can you really trust me?

Friday, January 7, 2011


I am an eternal optimist. I am. I can't help but think that everything that happens to us is eventually going to work out for the best in our lives. Perhaps it's my faith that leads me to this conclusion, or it could just be the way I learned to approach the world.

Or, perhaps its because, looking back at my life, I realize that all my struggles have shaped me into the man that I am today. And the things I struggle with now only give me opportunities to improve myself for the future. Deepening relationships, overcoming fears, confronting embarrassment.

But this isn't about me. Which is odd, because its usually about me.

We are consumed, driven, motivated by impressing others. We post Facebook statuses that are clever and funny to see how many people will "Like" it. We share with the world we just got a great job or a promotion, or post pictures of the cute outfit we wore to the incredible club/party/gala event we just went to. We do all we can to subtly shout to the world that we are succeeding at life. That we have it all together. That we are as good, or better, than you are.

And we forget to take a look at ourselves, or at our friends, in a deep and meaningful way. We forget that underneath the high-paying job, or H&M sweater, or over-sized sunglasses there is a person who is dealing with something in their life that they wish they weren't.

That they struggle to be accepted, to be who they really are, to tell that world that they need help.

You're not supposed to ask for help, you know. It's a sign of weakness. Like crying. Don't cry. You wouldn't want to show us your emotions.

Sometimes I laugh so hard I cry. It ranks top 10 of things I want to happen that rarely ever do. Right above finding a $20 bill in my pocket, but underneath being allowed to smack to some talent into Katy Perry.

If you are consumed, as most are and I often am, with proving to people that you are somebody, that you have a voice and you should be heard. That you have your life together. That you have goals, plans, a future. Take a step back today and examine yourself. Honestly.

Don't worry, no one has to know. Pretend that you're a Nickleback one is listening.

I assume you haven't stopped reading to think about yourself. And I won't belabor the point. Just do it. Promise? Then you can continue reading.

You know all that messed up stuff you just found out about yourself? That thing you keep hidden from everybody else?

Remember that everyone is hiding at least one of those things in their life.

This isn't a call to action. It's not a condemnation of you for trying to fit in. It's not even a sermon about why you might need Jesus in your life.

I just want to make you aware. To remind you that everyone you talk to today, and everyone you creep on via Facebook, is dealing with something. Their life isn't normal. They don't have it all together.

Everyone is dealing with problems in their life. Yet only a few of us are working towards making it better. Towards fixing it. Towards being a better person.

Remember that.

But don't worry. It'll all work out for the best in your life.

Trust me. I'm an optimist.

And if that doesn't work? Then, in the words of my pastor, "You don't think you have anything to be thankful for? Did you wake up today?! Are you breathing?!" Let's start there.