EMCEE: If you could change one thing about everybody in the world, what would it be?
MARK: If I could change one thing about everybody in the world, I would ask that passivity be removed from their lives.
EMCEE: Beautiful answer. Tell us why…
MARK: I think that passivity holds so many people back from really experiencing the life they want to have. People wait around for life to be handed to them, and when it doesn’t, they just end up sitting on the couch watching television. The best way to have the life you desire is to create it, with love, grace and sensitivity as your watchwords. You can do most anything you want. (applause) Except when it comes to relationships. (audience gasps) It seems like if you try to make something happen in personal relationships you just push people away. And if you sit around waiting for someone to reach out to you, they never do. I can only imagine a world with balance where people just, you know, like each other, they hang out, and have a good time playing, taking breaks for snacks that your mom makes. There are a ton of people who I feel like I’m constantly the one pushing the relationship, as if it’s a car that just quit in the middle of the street. It’s a nice car, and we’re having a great time, laughing the whole while, but you’re still sitting inside listening to your favorite radio station, and I’m out here pushing. Yes, we’re getting somewhere, but we are going about it in entirely different ways. My thinking tells me that it’d be awesome to have you back here…pushing the car right beside me.
AMOS LEE/Amos Lee
BLUE MERLE/Burning In the Sun
DAVID CROWDER BAND/A Collision Or (3 4=7)
GWEN STEFANI/Love. Angel. Music. Baby
HOWIE DAY/Stop All The World Now
JAMIE CULLUM/Catching Tales
JARS OF CLAY/Redemption Songs
KATHY TROCCOLI/Draw Me Close
MADONNA/Confessions on the Dance Floor
MICHAEL TOLCHER/I Am
ROB THOMAS/Something To Be
TEITUR/Poetry & Aeroplanes
U2/How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb
If you read my “What I Learned In Prison This Morning” blog, this will make more sense. This poem was written by one of my buddies that I’ve gotten to know over the years while going out there. He’s an amazing man, incredibly brilliant and insightful. It’s been an honor to be a part of his journey. Here are his thoughts, which he says were inspired by our discussions.
LAKE OF FIRE
by Lucas Larson
Your Hell is designed through an absence of Graces
A lack of God’s love filling vacuous spaces
Your Hell’s at a distance, a nebulous thought
A place circumvented through battles well fought
My Hell is right now and it’s painfully near
It’s concrete and wire, and loss drenched with fear
It’s what I can’t touch
And what I can’t see
It’s what I can’t smell
And what I can’t be
Restrained and disdained by a state-sanctioned hate
The cared for and careless disjoined at the gate
For ceaseless torment, it’s a perfect prescription
Mix proximate hopes with a hopeless affliction
It’s the essence of love that’s excluded by fences
It’s an absence of living, deprived of the senses
Your Hell is designed through an absence of Grace
My Hell is defined by this God-awful place
I really thought he was going to hit her. I was standing there minding my own business, just people watching. Heck, it was the drunken-hour on the train out of town, so you know there was some good stuff that just happened, or was about to happen. I held on to the poles on either side of me, because sitting down I just might miss something.
There was a bright blue plastic tarp covering something that was moving underneath in the handicapped seat just to my right. Every once in a while, the lady would readjust her tarp and I could see her face. She looked sleepy.
The train would stop for about five seconds at each station, so you had to be on your toes if you were getting on or off. At the next station, a young Hispanic boy (about 18) got on and stood next to me by the doors. He was smoking a cigarello. You know, the stinky, cheap, cigar substitute? Well, turns out there’s no smoking on the train. I found this out because a elderly deaf mute woman seated to my left got up to tell him to put it out.
Ok. So this was the first time I’ve ever seen a deaf mute elderly woman get aggressive toward a young Hispanic man for any reason. She kept mouthing words that I couldn’t understand, making scary faces and very determined gestures with her hands all the while. The young boy kept smoking and saying things like “This is Chicago…just chill out.” She obviously didn’t understand and continued with her rant.
Lesson No. 1: Don’t speak aggressively to anyone after 11pm at night. They will only be aggressive back and you really don’t want that.
I thought for sure the boy was going to hit the old woman to get her to leave him alone. All for a smoke. It was more of the point behind it: “Let me do whatever I want, regardless of the rules, because that way I’m in charge of my life, and not just living according to whatever someone else thinks I should do.”
The lady finally left the train at the next stop, but not before “yelling” at another man who had his leg sitting too far out into the aisle, or perhaps it was because he was talking on his cell phone. I’m not sure what her point was. She sure was agitated. I wonder what happened to her throughout her life (or maybe just that day) that made her that way?
When she was gone, the boy put out the cigarello against the wall of the train and stood waiting beside me. I decided to break the ice and start a conversation with the young man. “Boy, that was a bit crazy, huh?” He looked relieved to have someone break some of the tension, like he was maybe feeling a bit embarrassed for trying to make his point with the old lady.
We chatted for a couple more stops. He was a good kid underneath it all, just flexing his muscles and will-power a bit, to hopefully find the line to move toward where he can kick, someone will notice, and then perhaps even kick back.
It got a lot quieter after the young man got off the train. I looked around at the remaining few passengers. One man smiled at me, as if he just wanted to connect with someone who had also just seen what happened. I smiled back and rolled my eyes. The blue tarp rustled and I asked God to protect and bless the lady underneath. What a trip.
Lesson No. 2: Sometimes we kick just to see if someone will kick back.