Tag Archives: ambition

city legs and soundtracks

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She told me that it’s obvious to her who is from the city or lives in the city, and who is a tourist trying to pass as a local. I tried hard––quite hard I might say––to be a local. My fanny pack was left at home, I wasn’t looking up for the top of each building I walked past, and I pronounced the number nine like a good midwesterner rather than a good Tennesseean.

The giveaway, though, was that I didn’t have train legs.

She was in her seventies, groceries in tow, because that’s apparently what you do if you’re a local, and she was watching my knees buckle each time the L hit a bump, wiggle or stop in downtown Chicago. It was the ride back out from a weekend trip that was supposed to be with a friend who couldn’t come at the last minute, so I was a single dude spending a weekend in the city I thought of as home for two years in college.

My ride from Midway into town found me wearing my white earbuds plugged into my second generation iPod (you’re welcome) looking out the window of the Orange Line as we (me and all these strangers) made our way into the city. I don’t remember the song, and the fact that I remember the moment without the song makes it all the more important to me. Jostling into downtown, my legs apparently giving me away more than I realized, I found myself gazing out the window noticing that times like these are things of movies and soundtracks, people and lives and entire worlds passing by as the music plays to make sure that you know that every moment of what you are seeing is important for something that’s coming in the story, or for something that has just happened that you’re still chewing on.

It wasn’t until my trip out that I was informed that my legs gave me away as an outsider.

Now, in the small, rural West Tennessee town that holds my work and family and friends, I often forget that were I to add a soundtrack there is great importance to the transit, the one mile commute to work, the people standing on the side of the road, in front of me in line, in the waiting room at the office, on the other end of the phone. And my realizing that the soundtrack is––or at least should be playing––makes me more aware that I am using my non-city legs, perhaps my small, rural West Tennessee town legs, to navigate these waters in ways that hopefully do justice and love mercy and walk humbly in the town that is and has been home for quite some time.

It’s worth a soundtrack, I think. The people must be.
And we will spot your city legs. ha.

Pine Tree


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the threat of ambition, the need for obedience

while there’s nothing we’ve been taught to avoid like disobedience
there’s nothing we’ve been taught to value blindly like ambition.
and we assume that our ambitions result in our best
and that our best results in the best of those around us
but our ambitions are challenged by all the things which pull us away
from simple, longstanding obedient commitment
to be who we are and where we are and why we are in the world.

there are always shinier places
and loftier goals
and fancier titles
there are always more noble causes
and more remarkable feats
and more impressive benchmarks

but there is nothing like long and simple obedience
proving to be anything but simple
proving to require a holy trust and an unwavering commitment
even when the story is over but the people carry on.

so there is nothing like long and simple obedience
which challenges great ambitions like nothing else.
so there is nothing like long and simple obedience
to family
to vocation
to community
to justice
to beauty
to freedom
for others and therefore for ourselves
that drives a dagger through the lying heart of great ambitions
to show the selfish, insecure desires which so often create them.

Pine Tree Dr.

RELATED POSTS | crack our great ambitions | when there’s nothing else to do

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once upon every time

It’s as much of once upon every time as it is has ever been once upon a time.

Power and ambition kill. Others first, ourselves finally.
Humility and selflessness kill. Ourselves first, evil and injustice finally.

Having just returned from Snow White and the Huntsman, I found myself reeling throughout the whole thing, and even still.

The first words were, of course, voiced over in thick accent…

“Once upon a time…”

But it is once upon this time. And once upon a time a year ago today. And once upon every time.

The storytellers have tried to make it clear for ages upon ages and times upon times,

But we have to learn it again for ourselves once upon our times, and sometimes more than once.

All that is in us tells us to fight with might to protect our own.
But fighting with might to protect our own,

fighting with educations, investments, gates, codes, doctrines, prejudices, words, wars,
fighting with might to protect our own leads to a slow unraveling.

But fighting that actually protects is a byproduct of other pursuits.

a byproduct of seeking the good of others,
of giving up on great ambitions,
of investing for the sake of the lives of others rather that for the protection of ourselves against others, of opening gates, sharing codes, listening to the doctrines of others,
knowing before judging,
fighting with humility and selflessness, not with great ambitions of winning,
but simply because we can’t imagine not fighting for whatever things are


And then, in the end, of course, just as the story begins with once upon a time, it finishes with…

But alas, we have never been known, in life outside the tales spun by fairies, as patient enough to wait for the ever after.

As if we’ve ever had a choice.

Pine Tree

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