As the kids say these days, it hits different.
But sh#t. Everything about 2020 hits different.
At the time of writing this, I’m not quite 40 yet.
I still have a few more days to enjoy my 30’s.
I’m sitting here late at night (wondering why I’m up) feeling… all sorts of things, really. But truthfully, I feel relieved. Much to the dismay of many, the media has called the election. It’s really going to be a different year in 2021.
I don’t know what to make of this.
I don’t know how to process this.
I don’t know what any of this means.
I don’t know what’s next.
Am I closer to my death now than to my birth…?
The past few months have affirmed and confirmed how little control I have over… anything.
The start of Mosaic was has been postponed. And I’m struggling to find the “right” next step.
My path to ordination to priesthood has hit a few bumps here and there and there’s nothing I can do to make things happen faster.
Our house is at a disarray and we’re beholden to others to bring it into… array…? because I’m not (I can’t emphasize that enough… oh… remind me to write about the lawnmower incident[s]) good with my hands and have a knack to make things worse while trying to “fix” it.
Oh. And I keep getting older when I don’t want to.
Nothing is in my control.
While it’s sort of freeing to admit that… it’s scarier than not.
I just want to put my foot down and say, “ENOUGH! This is how it’s gonna be!”
But you know what that makes me feel like?
I can’t help but feel like I should’ve accomplished something by now.
Like, what do I have to my name? What do I have to show after 39 trips around the sun?
Then you start looking at your contemporaries and see what they have going for them. You start looking at people younger than you who seemed to have accomplished more at their young age than me at 40.
But that’s a slippery slope.
Nothing good ever comes out of comparing yourself to another. It steals your joy.
You either start feeling incompetent or you start being snobby.
No. One never finds contentment in comparing what essentially is apples to oranges. Everyone has their own journey. Everyone has their own purpose. Everyone their own timeline.
We must be patient with ourselves.
If I feel the absolute need to compare myself to someone… it’s best that I compare myself with my past self.
How much have I grown since _______?
What are the issues I’m still struggling with since ________?
I have this weird thing that I do.
I don’t name names in my personal journal.
I have this absolutely ridiculous delusion that one day someone’s gonna find my journals and they’re gonna study it or something.
I don’t want someone else to have the satisfaction of being remembered through me. It’s weird. It’s partly petty. And bare with me cuz I’m bearing my soul right now. I’ve never told anyone this. But thankfully, no one really reads this, so I still haven’t told many people of this.
However. I do name names when 1) they’re absolutely rotten people who I hope history remembers how much of a dick they were to me and 2) people who are saints in my life.
I have yet to name names for reason #1.
I looked back through all the journals I could find and see what names were mentioned. Here’s just a few… I know when naming names people might be offended that I’ve left off some names. This was just a breeze through my journal entries… as I didn’t want to linger on my old writings. Some of them are so cringeworthy. So don’t get too offended. And be nicer to me. Ha.
Of course, there’s Mom and Dad. My brother and his wife. Rahel and Nathanael. My in-laws.
There’s the Five-Ono-Boys. (Don’t ask. But if you must, it was the acapella group that I was in during my senior year of high school and early college years. There were five of us hence FIVE and we were all boys hence BOYS and we were ONO which is Hawaiian for “delicious.” Plus, all of us had Asian blood in us, some more than others *ahem* Jeremy ergo F.O.B. Oh. FOB also stands for fresh-off-boat designated for immigrants who recently have immigrated)…
Actually never mind. Let’s keep the names between myself and the pages of my journal. Until 100 years from now, when some archeology robot (or an alien species) finds my journal and gets a glimpse of what life was like from the 90’s to … whenever.
FOB gets a special mention here because I’ve been thinking about Hawaii a lot lately.
Ah. Look how baggy my pants are. And how small my shirt is. I think this shirt may have belonged to Spencer who I believe was Ono Boy #5 (we numbered ourselves according to height). Why do I look so friggin’ cartoonish in this picture? Small head with even smaller eyes; yet big ears; long arms and baggy pants.
I bring this up because I can’t get over a quote from Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me when he explains to his son, “I didn’t always have things, but I had people — I always had people.“
Because it’s so true in my life.
I don’t have much money (still discerning that televangelist route though… would you buy a vial of holy water from me for like $25? shipping not included…);
I don’t have many things;
I don’t have much to my name or accomplishments or accolades…
but I have people.
People who love me.
People who care for me.
People who’ll go to bat for me.
People who walk with me.
People who support me.
People who look out for me and want the best for me.
Even when I don’t deserve it…
While I may lack in… things… I. Am. Abundant. In. Love.
There exists within me the desire to be successful — defined in measurable, quantifiable terms.
But giving into that desire will cause more harm than good in the long run.
My call is not to be “successful” — at least in the quantifiable-saved-another-notch-on-my-belt way or asses-in-pews way.
I am called to serve. I am called to love.
I have to constantly fight the desire to prove myself worthy with numbers and statistics.
That’s the error of youthful thinking — that you’ve succeeded only when you can touch, see, and/or taste the fruit.
No. As a clergyman, I plant seeds. I may never see the fruits those seeds bear, but that does not mean I stop sowing.
So instead of trying to measure the fruit, I just need to ask myself in the morning:
How will I love today?
Who will I love today?
and in the evening:
How did I love today?
Who did I love today?
Maya Angelou wrote:
People will forget what you said
People will forget what you did
But people will never forget how you made them feel.
I want to be remembered as a person who loved.
So simple yet so frustratingly difficult.
I think the best way to be “successful” in God’s Kin(g)dom is to keep doing my part: love.
After all it is the love of God, the love from my family, and the love of friends that pushes me to be better.
So this is 40.
It’s going to be a good year.
Because if nothing else, I still have the love of my wife and son.
Because if nothing else, I am still loved.
And I’m not a greedy man.
That is enough.
Someone said, life begins at 40.
Well. Maybe they’re right.
Here’s to a new decade; to new adventures; to being loved and being love!
Thanks for reading through despite the grammatical errors.
I know I didn’t catch them all. I hope you were still able to make out what I was trying to say.
5 thoughts on “How Is It 40 O’Clock Already?”
Well I read the whole thing:). You are loved, you matter, you make me smile, you love God and it shows. Happy beginning Joseph, enjoy the journey.
Thank you Joseph! Happy 40th!
Thank you Debbie!!!!
I read it all and yes you are loved by both of us. Do not underestimate yourself and what you show others by your life. We miss you, Rahel and N. Love, Susie