In our everyday lives we often try to impress people with our knowledge, our strength, or perhaps our humour, but what about our online selves? Yes, it would appear that in the 21st Century we now have to worry about multiple identities…wasn’t one enough? When we create profiles on social media websites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube, we are carefully selecting what we share and don’t share with the world. Now, social media isn’t all that bad, I’ll be the first to say I love being able to maintain relationships quite easily with friends and family around the world, but it isn’t just about maintaining a relationship…it’s about the maintaining the authenticity of that relationship.
I oftentimes think I am way funnier via text message or Twitter than I am in real life. Why? Because I spend 10 minutes or more crafting content I’m going to share so that it’s the perfect combination of wit, self-deprecation, and charm.
But that isn’t really me.
I’m Parker, a socially awkward, prematurely greying gay man from Oklahoma trying to sound Canadian. Doesn’t sound so cool, does it? But who cares? I’ve gotten to the point where I’ve learned the awkward moments are the ones I love most and that I could actually label 99.9% of the people I know as awkward at some point or another.
So, yes, we will probably keep taking 20-30 selfies before we get just the right pose or carefully craft a tweet for way too long, but that’s okay…as long as we know that there will always be a difference between our on- and off-line selves. Embrace your quirks, and don’t compare your offline self to the one you’ve spent way too long rehearsing. It isn’t genuine, and we like the real you more anyway.
I found this video to be incredibly relevant for me. I hope you enjoy it!
With the downturn in the Alberta economy, especially in the Oil Patch where I work as an Independent Geological Consultant, my income has been severely reduced the past two years. Consequently, my “true capacity to give” is somewhat limited these days. This past week I learned a couple of important lessons about giving, and how we old baby boomers can connect with Millennials.
My daughter Alicia had purchased a new couch and asked me to haul away her old one. At the suggestion of my mother, Ethel Hayden, instead of just tossing a very useable couch, I took it home and put it on Kijiji. I sold it for $100 to a nice woman who was buying it for her daughter who was moving out and needed a couch. Although my daughter didn’t expect to receive any money for it, I felt funny keeping the money for something that really didn’t take much effort to sell. Then I thought about the recent request from our church for donations for Haiti to help recover from the hurricane. I immediately went online and transferred the $100 to the church’s Abolish Poverty and End Suffering fund with a special designation for Haiti. When I called my daughter and told her what I did with “her”/our money, she was thrilled. Yesterday, two very cool, funky, young women came to pick up the couch that Mom had paid for, and as we loaded it in their truck I told them to let their Mom know that their $100 was on its way to Haiti to help with hurricane relief. I thought they were going to cry. They were clearly touched and moved by the small decision I made and told me that their mom would be very pleased as well.
The two lessons I learned in this situation were that we can always find innovative ways to give even when our income is limited, and also that when us old boomers are trying to find ways to connect and relate to Millennials, we need to remember that their generation is very passionate about social justice and being mindful of the vulnerable in the world. When we recognise and make efforts to support the vulnerable, perhaps Millennials will see us as more than just handy furniture movers and a place to crash for a free meal.
You wouldn’t guess this from me right away, but Tangled is my favourite movie. The friendship, the love, and the big dreaming all melt my frozen heart in ways that almost nothing else can. The first time I watched the scene while Rapunzel and Flynn sang “I See The Light” under a sky full of lanterns; I couldn’t stop crying at how beautiful it was. I also felt unbelievably jealous of these fictional characters for getting to experience something so full of hope in the make believe world of magic. I wanted so badly for that magic to be real. I wanted to stand under a sky full of lanterns and let go of all my fears, elevating the existence of hope in a destructive world full of ambiguity.
I found out about RiSE Festival by accident. It was as easy as scrolling through Instagram at the exact right time to see the perfect picture of the dream I had imagined for so many years: a sky full of lanterns, and a crowd inspired by hope. It was almost too perfect. The dates of the next RiSE Festival in the Mojave Desert landed on a long weekend, and I had just enough money in my Bucket List savings account to afford the trip from Calgary to Las Vegas where I would adventure out on my own to achieve this dream. After buying all my tickets for one, my mother decided only a few days later that she wanted to join me. And I am so grateful she did. Go alone if you need to, it’s an enchanting experience no matter what. But if someone wants to join you, please let them. That way someone will thoroughly understand the feeling when you describe how easily you forgot how to breathe as everyone let go of their lanterns in our first collective release.
We took a RiSE shuttle bus from the Paris Las Vegas hotel all the way to the Moapa Valley reserve in the Mojave Desert. A 15-minute walk from the parking lot to the festival location may have caused some impatient aches in a few, but I felt like I deserved to be there even more once I sweat my way across the Desert in the above 30 degree Celsius weather. Besides, it was snowing back home and I wanted to take advantage of that Desert as much as I possibly could.It’s easy to forget how beautiful something is when we see it everyday; which I try not to do with the Rocky Mountains that have lived outside my window for most of my life. I try not to forget that with the people in my life either. So I hoped that those nearby travellers could understand that – how wonderful it was to be on such sacred ground. How the sunset shone over the RiSE letters, how the sand dirtied our black shoes, how the wind gave us a chill once the sky went dark, and how the stilled sky waited patiently for us to send parts of our soul on fire into the universe.
As ten thousand lanterns lit the sky in our collective release to a slow instrumental melody, the circle of torches creating a chamber of sound, I started shaking because I had never felt so excited, happy, inspired and moved in my entire life. I jumped around in circles like a little kid seeing a unicorn for the first time in the land of limitless cupcakes. That night was the proof I needed to be reminded of magic from the imaginary world, and to recognize the existence of magic in my own.
I stood up on the sand and looked around at all the people: A young father holding his newborn baby, staring at his wife with pure love bursting out of him. A couple laying down on their mat, holding each other and kissing with no worries of who was watching because in that moment it was just them who were there. A group of friends helping each other as their lantern started blowing away in the wrong direction, supporting each other to make sure those dreams made it up with all the others. All those lanterns, with words of love, loss, hope, pain, dreams. I called my first one “Letting Go.” I filled it with song lyrics of how I held on to things for so long because I’ve been afraid of changing (extra points if you got the Fleetwood Mac reference). And I wrote the names of every single person who ever broken my heart, rejected me, or made me feel I was less than worthy. And then I released them. I let them go.
Although the hot wind caused holes in some of the lanterns making them unable to rise, and flames flew close to peoples’ heads as the premature lanterns fell to the ground; it was inspiring to watch as we all protected each other. Making sure we were all safe with the touch of danger that was required to light up the sky.
I’ve got a sneaky feeling that if you look for it, you’ll find that…
Calgary Spark is a collection of stories told by members and friends of the church alike. Each person's story is helping to shape our community in new ways.