Afterlife

Last night was one of those life changing moments, that you as an individual will cherish and ponder on for the rest of your life. It was the opportunity that I and some close friends came together to celebrate the life of a friend of ours named Eli Buxton

Eli lost his battle with cancer at the young age of 23. He was diagnosed a year and a half ago with testicular cancer, and had to go through multiple rounds of treatment to try and stop its aggressive growth. He won this fight the first time, but sadly when the cancer came back, it came back with a vengeance and he unfortunately unable to stop it. Through it all he kept a positive outlook and was diligent in completing his album and touching the lives of all he interacted with, including me.

His funeral was the best one I have been to in my entire life, and it was one of tears, laughter, pain and joy. He wanted it to be a celebration of his life, and I feel the time and care put towards it by his family was perfect. It exemplified Eli more than I had realized at first, and seeing all of the diverse people within the hundreds that attended brought a smile to my face. He was able to connect with so many and didn’t judge a person on their looks or lifestyle. He took the time to connect and reach out to everyone and it is a trait I hope to be able to copy in my own life.

I titled this post “Afterlife” for a reason. After I had heard the news on Facebook of Eli’s passing a song by one of my favorite bands, Arcade Fire, kept popping up in my music que. I’d hear it at work, and in the car as I have been going about my errands and day to day life. The music is orchestrated so beautifully, but more-so the lyrics have impacted me now more than they ever had before. I am not always so eloquent with my words, and don’t consider myself a playwright or poet so I’ll just let Win Butler take the microphone for a moment:

Afterlife Lyrics

Afterlife, oh my God, what an awful word

After all the breath and the dirt
And the fires that burn
And after all this time
And after all the ambulances go
And after all the hangers-on are done
Hanging on to the dead lights
Of the afterglow

I’ve gotta know

Can we work it out?
We scream and shout ’till we work it out
Can we just work it out?
Scream and shout ’till we work it out?

‘Till we work it out, ’till we work it out
‘Till we work it out, ’till we work it out

Afterlife, I think I saw what happens next
It was just a glimpse of you
Like looking through a window
Or a shallow sea
Could you see me?

And after all this time
It’s like nothing else we used to know
After all the hangers-on are done
Hanging on to the dead lights
Of the afterglow

I’ve gotta know

Can we work it out?
Let’s scream and shout ’till we work it out
Can we just work it out? If you scream and shout ’till we work it out?
But you say
Oh, when love is gone
Where does it go?
And you say
Oh, when love is gone
Where does it go?

And where do we go?
Where do we go?
Where do we go?
Where do we go?
Where do we go?
Where do we go?
Where do we go?
Where do we go?

And after this Can it last another night?
After all the bad advice
Had nothing at all to do with life

I’ve gotta know
Can we work it out?
Scream and shout ’till we work it out?
Can we just work it out?
Scream and shout ’till we work it out?
But you say
Oh, when love is gone
Where does it go?
And you say
Oh, when love is gone
Where does it go?
Oh, we know it’s gone
Where did it go?
Oh, we know it’s gone
Where did it go?
And where do we go?

Is this the afterlife?
It’s just an afterlife, with you
It’s just an afterlife
It’s just an afterlife, with you
It’s just an afterlife

[collapse]

When the first line starts the thoughts begin flooding into my mind.
“Afterlife, oh my god, what an awful word.”
So many of us wonder, “What happens after this life?” It has spawned countless Religions, Deities, Gods and belief systems. All dive into this question. We have yet to find the answer.
Will our actions now affect us after we have passed on. Is there some type of existence or dimension? Some part of that our consciousness, spirit, whatever you want to call it goes? Will we be held accountable for those small mistakes as much as the larger ones? Will none of it matter at all and we just cease to exist? Will I be able to spend it with those that I love, and be able to see those that have left before me again?

“Afterlife, oh my god, what an awful word.”

Eli I know had pondered the thought and question of life after this a lot. I felt it in the music and lyrics that he wrote, and in our conversations we talked about it all many times. But what I appreciated and saw even more last night was his love and concern for the now.

He would take the time to talk to anyone. To hear their story, to listen when someone needed it, and left no judgement or ill will towards you. He had true compassion and knew the importance of this life! So many of us get so caught up in the unknown and our own existence once we have gasped for our last breath that we forgot to pay attention to the now.

I remember growing up in church feeling so overly concerned about my own salvation. God’s perception of me consumed myself to the point of obsessive praying and constant anxieties about my behavior. I felt I was a disappointment to God & my religious leaders over and over again that I was fully convinced that I would be spending all of eternity in hell. The thoughts of the now didn’t even cross my mind, and as I have grown older I see that is a very common thing in those that I interact with who are very devout to their beliefs.

“Afterlife, oh my god, what an awful word!”

I in recent years have really started to put more focus on the now, on this life, and where true happiness lies. In looking for those experiences that make THIS life worth being a part of.The unknown of what happens after this life can consume you completely like it did me, and you will realize when the end of your life does finally come, you might have lost the chance to really embrace life now. Stopped sweating the small stuff that if you believe in God more than likely doesn’t care about.

Thank you Elijah for teaching me how to love people, and for letting me be a part of your life even if it was just for a short amount of time. I will miss you, and am glad you don’t have to fight anymore.

“When love is gone, where does it go? Where do we go?”

Does it really matter as much as we make it out to be? No, I don’t think so. It’s more important to look at the now. And like Win says at the end:

“It’s just an afterlife…..”

Inside Out, thoughts from my control center

Inside Out Movie Poster

Tonight I went and saw Inside Out.

My best friend told me that she was going and so being the jealous person that I can be with my friends at times I wanted to go too. So I found the Fathom event and there were still tickets available. It was 20 bucks, which I assumed was the cost because of the exclusive “Pre-release” screening that it was, and I was ok with it since I’m a movie geek. I got to the theater and was given a lanyard with a cool badge along with a small poster to commemorate the event. I was pleasantly surprised by that and thought it was way cool! I grabbed some snacks and headed into the theater.

Now some of my all time favorite movies are from Pixar. Yes I have my scary movies, Lord of the Rings, and Star Wars up there, but Pixar has always been there to help keep the kid inside of me alive. I didn’t realize until after the Q&A, which followed the screening, that Pete Docter helped create Toy Story, Monsters Inc, and Wall-E which are 3 of my all time favorite films that created experiences that really influenced my life.  Now I can say with an afirmative yes that Inside Out can be added to that list and I hope I can explain why without giving any spoilers. I just want to try and do what any writer does. Express my feelings and emotions in words. I have felt recently that I actually do enjoy writing, and wouldn’t mind doing it more often. I hope to with this blog and other potential ideas that I have brewing.  Anyway let’s get back to the movie.

I don’t want to ramble on about the plot and premise. I never want to ruin an experience of a film to anyone by giving things away and will do my best in this instance.

Inside Out is the story of emotions. We all have them, and what story isn’t about emotion? But this is literally about the major emotions we all have inside of us.  They control the way that we feel and mold our personality as we grow and develop.  Pixar chose the time that is frustrating, and confusing for all of us which I greatly appreciate.

Riley (Kaitlyn Dias) is our main character who is 11 years old and has recently made a big transition in her life. She’s moved across the country to a new city away from her friends and all the comforts of home. It’s hard, it’s confusing, and Joy (played by Amy Poehler) has to try and help Riley through it all with a smile on her face while balancing all her other emotions, and value the memories she has of her past.

Most everything about the story as it develops from this premise is perfect. It’s spot on, and I could feel myself relating to it throughout. Adolescence was so hard, it was for me and I am sure it was for you. Jordan companies  The sudden bouts of anger, sadness, and so many other emotions pile up and make us just want to scream! How that was written into the story, with these 5 different emotions influencing Riley’s reactions to every day life felt natural, it felt real, and I appreciated that a lot!

Joy of Inside Out

I have a young friend who is about the same age as Riley, and as I watched I kept thinking about her and the frustration and struggle she is currently going through. Hormones and emotions set in and seem to control everything. You don’t feel yourself, do things you never thought you would, and don’t fully know who you are.  How Pete and all the writers expressed this in this film was again perfect.  It made me want to have my young friend sitting next to me watching along. Give her that comfort that what she is experiencing is normal, and it’s ok.

Which brings us to a climactic element of the story that I want to be careful treading on and not spoil it for anyone. There’s a conflict of interests between Joy and Sadness all through this film and it a great teaching tool and story plot for Inside Out.  It brought tears to my eyes. I wanted to give Pixar a standing ovation and big thank you in some way for how they masterfully took this complicated and frustrating thing and made it simpler for children and young adults fighting their own battles to understand.

They also bring in sacrifice. It brought back the moment in Toy Story 3 when the toys were almost at an end, and it felt like a loss of childhood would be gone forever.  Inside Out hits you just like that, almost just as strong in once scene that is ingrained in my memory and will be for awhile.  We all grow and change pieces of ourselves that at one time was a major talent,  a hobby, or a trait that defined who we were. Those things fade and die in a way but may still be there inside of us without us even realizing it. I spent some time in my car before going home reflecting on those past pieces of me and didn’t realize I had forgotten that they were still there.

Riley of Inside Out

I has missed them. Once I started thinking about the interests I had and some of the cherished memories of my childhood I remembered how they molded me into who I am now. I wanted to go back in time and relive them again so they wouldn’t become a sacrifice like what had happened in Inside Out.  But, I can’t save it all. There are things that I have lost which were once precious to me as a child that I never will get back. It hurts, but that is ok.

I feel that is what everyone who worked on Inside Out wants the audience to feel. All of these emotions stack up on top of each other and we don’t know what to do about it. But knowing that feeling angry, feeling sad, even feeling disgusted is ok.  It all is ok. We don’t need to suppress these feelings but accept them.  It’s what I hope to be able to teach my kids someday, and help teach my little friend right now as much as I can.

So with a resounding “GO!” I highly encourage you to go see Inside Out.  You’ll be laughing in one moment and crying in the next in a story that relates to all of us, and helps us to realize that all in all things are ok.

It Doesn’t Really Feel Like Christmas At All

I have never been one to be a Scrooge for Christmas, or have an attitude that was against the true meaning of the season.  It was always a time of year for me of excitement and spending time with family.  After Christmas was over, I would look forward to my Birthday and the opportunity to get a 2nd batch of presents from my loved ones.  All within 2 weeks! What kid wouldn’t be happy? And I always was.

But for the past two years, things have not been the same.  In March of 2010 my grandfather John Carl Hendrix, known to me as Papa, passed away from kidney failure in his home in Pleasant Grove, Utah.
John Carl Hendrix, PapaEven in this picture as you look into his eyes you can see the kindness of his heart.  He was more than a grandfather to me, he was a 2nd father, and someone that taught me how to love, laugh, and serve those around me.  It was him who made the season of Christmas so special to me.

I still have a distant memory of when I was around 4 years old. It was a time in my life where I was being treated for Rabdomyo Sarcoma, which is a soft tissue cancer that I had on the left side of my neck.  It was not an easy time for my family, and I don’t remember a lot of the trials, and struggles that my family was going through, but I know they wanted to make my Christmas something to remember.

We were living in Provo at an apartment complex where i shared a bunk bed with my younger brother Christian.  We had just come back from Papa’s house where each year we would go to have a Christmas Eve party with all of our family, and at the end we would open presents that Papa had gotten us.  We would all be sitting around the tree that was so full of presents it would fill half of the living room to have all of these gifts for us grandkids.  It was magical and something I looked forward to every year.

Like I had said we had just gotten home, and were very riled up and couldn’t wait for Santa to come and give us his gifts, as we had been good boys and wanted the next day to come.  As we were shifting and rolling in our beds we heard some bells jingling outside of our window.  We suddenly went quiet and didn’t move a muscle as the noise got louder and louder.  Suddenly there was a knock on our window and a voice that said “Ho Ho Ho! Is Jordan, Christian, and Ryan asleep!?” We were flabbergasted! Santa had come to our house and knew our names! It wasn’t until years later when I was around 16 that I found out that it was Papa who had taken the extra time to come to our apartment and make that year that much more special.

As the years progressed I started to care less and less about the presents I got each year and just appreciated more and more the time I got to spend with Papa. He let me travel with him to Alabama when I was in 5th Grade to go learn more about our family history, and to be able to learn more from him.
Papa and MeYes, we drove in this Ryder truck from Utah all the way to Alabama.  Along the way he took the extra time to show me some of places that he felt were important for me to see, and to really learn more about our country.  We went to St. Louis, Nauvoo, Independence Missouri, Hannibal Missouri, and more.  It was at these places I learned to appreciate my pioneer heritage, Tom Sawyer and the author that created him, and also the respect and knowledge of our ancestors. We took this Ryder truck because there were headstones in the back that Papa had made for some of our ancestors in Colorado, Kansas, and Alabama that didn’t have a proper headstone to mark their grave site.  I got to explore graveyards and learn more about how markers are made, and why we have them there.

I always will be forever grateful for that priceless time that I got to spend with him on those trips.  There were a few times we flew out, but when we drove I appreciated them more, as I got to see the country and spend more time with my Papa.  It was after these trips as I grew older that he started calling me one of his sons. I was more than just a grandson.

As each Christmas came as I went through my teen years, I couldn’t wait to see what Papa had planned for us for our annual Christmas Eve party.  We had our normal traditions of a White Elephant gift exchange, a Pinata, and a dinner, and he would always ask for me and my brothers to come over and help set up.  It taught me to appreciate the time and effort it took to get a party together, and what was needed inorder for it to be successful.  He enjoyed the work, he always enjoyed the work, and then watching the rewards of his work by giving to others.  There was no other man that I knew that gave so much.  I always remember him sitting in a chair just enjoying the moments of us getting strange white elephant gifts of spam or a back scratcher, and then seeing who would break the pinata, and then the finale of us opening the gifts we had asked for from him that year.

I still feel ashamed that one year I had been ungrateful because he had gotten some megablocks to my brothers and hadn’t gotten them for me because I hadn’t asked for them.  But I had wanted them (this was back when i was 8).  I was angry and didn’t have a happy face or acted that good for the rest of the night.  I didn’t even tell Papa thank you for the gifts he had given me.  I finally had apologized to him a few months later when I had the guts to tell him, but to this day I feel ashamed that I wasn’t as appreciative as I should have been.

Papa worked hard and he always gave to others before himself.  Whenever there was a need for help he was first to volunteer.  He showed me that giving was so much more meaningful and rewarding than receiving.  Others needs were a lot of the time more important than his. And I wanted to be like that.

After Papa had retired from the Forest Service after working there since he was 18 years old, his health started to drop dramatically.  He had had heart problems, and some back problems in the past, but now it was focused more on his kidneys.  He lost a lot of weight, had no energy, and started to become so frail and weak it was hard to see.  He still kept his spirits up though, and continued the tradition of having Christmas Eve at his house.  He worked so hard for all of us, and I know it wasn’t easy for him at all.  It brings tears to my eyes to remember the pain he suffered through to make Christmas still magical for all of us, and to understand what it meant. I know it wasn’t easy and I remember wishing I could take that pain away.  That was all I wanted for Christmas that year.  That was in 2009.

I had recently come home from my mission, and while i was there Papa had kept his promise of writing me every week, and always helped me with my investigators, and understanding of the gospel as I continued to learn myself. He also kept me posted on his health and how things were always up or down.  It was hard when I had to come home early from my mission because of medical things I was facing myself, but I know there was a reason that I did.  It was so I could be there to spend time with Papa before his final days on this earth.

Near the end he had decided to stop dialysis and to stop the pain, and it was then that we all started to say our goodbyes.  He was in and out of consciousness through these last few days, and there was a time that I had was able to stay my final goodbye to him.  I told him that I loved him, and that I always wanted to be like him.  That he taught me to be the man that I am, and I would never forget his laugh, his smile, or his attitude of giving to others.  I was holding his frail hand as I spoke to him and I had told him I needed to go. His eyes were closed and I didn’t know at all if he had heard me and as I got up his grip on my hand got stronger, and his kind eyes opened and he said “no” to me, as he didn’t want me to leave yet.  He looked at me, with the look of longing, that he didn’t want to leave me, and asked me to stay.  I did, and it was in the next day or so that he ultimately left this earth and was no longer in pain.

I didn’t cry then, or cry as his body was taken by the mortuary, or when I had dressed him for burial, or spent time at his viewing.  It wasn’t until I started to speak at his funeral, after we sang Smokey the Bear’s song that the tears started to flow.  The realization that my Papa was gone, and had left to the other side actually hit home.

No more Christmas Eve’s at his house, no more Brithday dinners with just me and him to spend time together, to laugh, talk about anything I wanted to talk about, and him giving me the love and attention that only he could give.  I got through my talk, and we took him to his final resting place and it all was over. For the rest of the year it didn’t seem real, it just felt like Papa was gone on a wildfire, like he was most every summer.  That he was busy with work, his scouting, or working on his yard that he took so much pride in.  It was that year at Christmas Eve, when the thoughts and memories of the traditions I had grew up with started to help me look forward to the chance of going to Papa’s house that it really hit home.  It wasn’t ever going to be the same.  That spirit had left me, because Papa wasn’t there. The man who when I was 4 played Santa to some excited little boys in their small Apartment in Provo had left us. My hero, who showed me what the true meaning of Christmas was, and how giving really made you feel special was on to the next life.  I missed him more than words could express, and it was hard to keep that spirit of Christmas alive in my heart.

It still is hard after 3 Christmas’ of him being gone.  I know it is vain of me to shout “Ba humbug!” at this time of year, but it is a process that is going to take a few years for me to finally find that magic again.  I still miss you Papa, I keep trying to be the man that you were. I hope that someday I can live up to your legacy.  I promise to bring the traditions that you had instilled in me to my family one day.  Christmas wasn’t the same this year and I wish with all my heart I could see you again, and huge you and hear your laugh.  Merry Christmas Papa, and I love you.

– Jordie

Pyromania

So this is a video that is of the local flavor for me.  The man who produced and also directed, and whatever else you can think of is in this music video. His name is Stephen Groo and considers himself to be one of the greatest directors of all time.  He has invested the majority of his life trying to make films and as you can see in this video……you will see how well his efforts have been.

Great right?

Well I have been following this guy for a number of years and his videos seem to get more and more interesting as time progresses.  This may be in the same vein as the other video I shared earlier where it just gets awkward and you wonder what he was thinking of doing to put his time and effort into this kind of venture.  I’ll leave it at that and let you all process this clip. Let me know your thoughts and opinions below on if you think this is really that great of a music video or not.