Welcome!

Welcome to Laugh Cry Think. In this space I publish new blogs once a month about the moments and experiences in my life that drive me to live wholeheartedly: things I find funny, that move me, and drive me to live with increased passion and presence. I’m hoping the same for you. Thanks for reading!

A Heck of a Day

A Heck of a Day

Thumbnail photo by  Everton Vila  on  Unsplash

Thumbnail photo by Everton Vila on Unsplash

 

{3 min read}

The moment [Pam] returned to the office and kissed [Jim] I jumped out of my chair and involuntarily thrust my hands in the air, like my team had won the Super Bowl. Poehler clapped and cheered. Everyone in the room had a cathartic moment of pure joy. I remember thinking later that I wanted to write something someday that would make people feel that good.

-Mike Schur, writer, Parks and Recreation

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I’ve enjoyed writing for many years. In college, I kept Journals in Microsoft Word documents on my computer; it was my attempt to write something daily, however mundane or interesting. I chronicled my uber-stretching, but insanely exciting time in the play The Wednesday Wars, where I would rehearse for 6 hours every day then trudge a mile home in the snow because I didn’t have a car. I wrote with agony and hope as I awaited the results of job interviews. It was a really nice venue for me to write out prayers and express my budding faith amidst some difficult and exciting times.

When I moved to Hungary in 2014, though, something changed.

Finally, I was living a life that I wanted—needed—to write about. It started with the urge to want to keep family members up-to-date with what we were doing so far away, living near the border of Ukraine and do they even know where they are and WHY ARE THEY DOING THIS!? Quickly, though, it became a form of art for me, something I wanted to meticulously shape and get just right. We were learning about how Parisians sit facing the sidewalk judging passersby; we were getting drinks bought for us by friendly Brits in Prague and Barcelona; we were laying our eyes on the Mona Lisa and Big Ben and the Colosseum and for Pete’s sake, if I don’t write about this or Instagram it, did it really happen?

For the first time ever, I started writing with the idea that people would actually read what I wrote.

The crazy part? People read what I had to say. Not millions or even thousands of people. But for the first time ever, I felt like I was making art that was completely my own, something I was inherently good at. People would write comments or send a Facebook note that they enjoyed my work, laughed, or were moved, comments that would continually energize me throughout our time in Hungary. I was true to who I wanted to be as a writer, and I felt good about that. I got better as the two years went along and began calling my work “pieces,” like I was a hardcore journalist covering unfolding drama in the Middle East. I included memes and YouTube videos and jokes I had written years earlier and never had a place for. It became my playground. There, right in front of me, was a blank canvas that, every day, was ready to be filled with something new and beautiful and funny and heartbreaking and true. I had never been the traditional artist, someone who could paint or draw exceptionally well, but here was something that I enjoyed doing, something I could do anywhere or anytime I wanted, something that seemed to make people laugh and cry and think.

It wasn’t all roses and lullabies, though (that’s a thing people say, right?). I remember having long conversations with Kendahl about how I have been afraid to write for so long. It was an irrational fear that people would reject—or worse, ignore—what I had to say, that I wouldn’t be good enough, consistent enough, or interesting enough. I wrote a piece called On (The Fear Of) Writing, a piece that was perhaps my most honest to date.

Part of my fear of writing was that I was scared to be pulled in one direction while missing out on another. I grew up wanting to be an actor, then an athlete, then a businessman, then a youth pastor; I did ministry with high school students and performed onstage and led new student orientation and played sports and never felt like I found the one to jump into and make my real home. Even the ways I was entertained became conflicting for me: I would watch Kyle Mooney YouTube videos and stand-up specials and fall in love with the art form, then watch movies that reduced me to tears and write off comedy as a waste of time. I wanted to do both—while also challenging myself intellectually—and I didn’t know how that worked.

I wanted to make people laugh, cry, and think – all at once.

If you’ve ever watched ESPN—or been in a room where you’ve been forced to watch sports with a bunch of annoying, loud dudes drinking beer—you’ve probably seen those commercials featuring Jim Valvano’s 1993 ESPY speech. Jimmy V, an incredible college basketball coach, would pass away not long after from a fight with cancer, but not before he left us with some incredible words:

To me, there are three things we all should do every day… Number one is laugh… Number two is think… And number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears… If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that's a full day. That's a heck of a day.

Ultimately, simply, that is what I want this space to be. A chance for me to reflect and share, to work on joke material and challenge myself intellectually, an opportunity to get in touch with deeper emotions that are truly human. I hope you find some or all of that here, too.

So thanks, Jimmy V, for the inspiration. Let’s laugh, cry, and think together.

Restaurant by the Hospital

Restaurant by the Hospital