Category Archives: Life

The Power of Art

I’m graduating college in a week, which means more blogging and more features. The hope is I churn a feature out each week. This should be one of many over the ensuing weeks.

Since fourth grade, I’ve played the euphonium. Participating in band was a way to connect with people, I was told. My father played trombone. It was a way for us to connect.

By junior high, I was committed and for a bit, considered if music was a profession worth pursuing for myself. I earned a seat in numerous honor bands, participated in one of the finest music programs in the state at North Hills and furthered my love and knowledge of music. During my senior high years, we put together some stunning performances. We were an ensemble of young teens who all had a committed vision of excellence and perseverance. We channeled our passions through it, our hope through it, our dreams through it. We were pressured day after day to do better and despite my doubts, we reached another echelon each and every time.

But despite all this, I was ready to move on after high school. By senior year, I had stopped practicing entirely, my attention and dedication pulled to other areas of my life. I thought it was time to let it go. Had it not been for a scholarship my school had offered for my musical talent, I’m not sure I would have stuck with it. Looking back, that was a foolish thing to think.

Now a senior in college, I’ve played for 13 years and I may have played my last concert two Saturday’s ago.

I put my horn back in its case and gazed at it a little longer than I usually do because I know I may not see it again for months if not years. As a journalism professional with a gradually expanding social circle and vastly expanding list of responsibilities, some of my hobbies have started falling to the wayside. Sadly, the euphonium has become one of them.

I do not say music because it hasn’t and never shall.

Since I’m a movie critic, you should expect a reference to a movie. Well, here it is. The Hope Is a Dangerous Thing scene from The Shawshank Redemption is one of my all-time favorite excerpts. Here, I could go on a ten-minute tangent discussing how criminal it is that The Shawshank Redemption didn’t win an Academy Award but that’s for another time. Instead, I’m going to talk about these snippets of dialogue:

“That’s the beauty of music. They can’t get that from you.”

“You need it so you don’t forget, forget that there are places in the world that aren’t made out of stone, that there’s something inside that they can’t get to, they can’t touch. It’s yours.”

“What are you talking about?”


At our most weathered and most tortured, at our most basic form, the arts still remain. A deaf man can still hear the music. A blind man can still see the art. A paralyzed man can still feel the dance. The arts inspire as much as they transform, as much as they remind us of what we once were and what we still can be. They are a universal language, a doorway to the soul.

They make you believe.

They make you feel.

They make you hope.

Sports has become a universal language. The arts, as well as sports, transcend linguistic barriers. Sports, as I explained in my We All feature, have the ability to overcome racial, social, economical, political and religious divides, unifying a diverse group to one aim. When Landon Donovan scored in the 2010 World Cup, the United States erupted. There were no detractors. There was no debating. There was a roar, a roar bellowing in the soul. It was a roar that roared, “Yes” and so much more than that. This raucous sound wasn’t a brick of sound. It was a tidal wave so large it’s immeasurable.

The same could be said when Manchester City scored two goals in four minutes to capture its first English Premier League title since 1968.

Sports, as well as the arts, convey the things that words sometimes can’t. In select moments, you will feel a chill on your back, an epiphany full of an aura that can only be described one way: heavenly. It is the most joyous of feelings, a feeling that will last only seconds but carries with it a mass of emotion. It reverberates inside of us. It is a feeling that replicates the vivacity of a child, unbound and free. It is a chant of ecstasy, a concussion of jubilation, a pulse-pounding ricochet contained in our hearts. It is the commanding presence of the brass, the force of the winds and strings and the crash of the percussion. It is genuine beauty, untouched and unsoiled, in its purest form. It is euphoric.

Most of all, it is an affirmation as much as a confirmation of what we already know, that we’re capable of anything and that no matter how many times we’re torn apart, you can’t separate the arts, the eternal flame, from the man.

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The Madden Experience

This is about a Madden franchise I created. I’m posting this as a memorial to some great times.Image result for madden 15 cover free use

My friend Kyle, who’s an Eagles fan, and I started a Madden franchise on Madden 15 on his Xbox 360. I sucked at the newer Madden games, especially in the passing game. I had played Madden 07 on the Gamecube for many years and on the earlier versions, you could fit the ball in tight windows and your quarterback could really gun it. You can’t do that in the newer versions. The older games were more offensive but the newer Maddens are more defensive. Quarterbacks can’t throw half as hard on these games as they used to be able to and their mobility is severely limited.

Kyle and I chose the Oakland Raiders as our franchise because they are a sad, sad team these days and created our own coach: Samuel L. Jackson. Yes, I’m a huge fan of the guy and I decided he had to be the coach.

We decided to start our team from scratch and do a fantasy draft.

We basically created one of the best teams ever.

We tried to target relatively young players so we could push for the future. With our first round pick, we took my boy, Steelers WR Antonio Brown and in the second round, Vikings RB Adrian Peterson. Unfortunately, I was unable to look at the original draft history of our team so I’m going mostly from memory from here on, but we focused on our offensive line and defensive front first. I believe Rams DT Aaron Donald was our third pick, followed by Ravens G Marshall Yanda. I am a firm believer that the linebackers are the heart of the defense so I wanted to get beastly linebackers. We grabbed Eagles LB Kiko Alonso and Cowboys G Zach Martin, with the intention of moving Yanda to right tackle like the Ravens did this past season.

Next I believe we took Dolphins SS Rashad Jones and Cardinals LG Mike Iupati, followed by Bengals RB Jeremy Hill. After the 8th pick, we looked at quarterbacks and I’m pretty sure we cried. Colt McCoy was our starting quarterback.

However, there was hope because we used our next pick on a quarterback also, Blake Bortles. It also wasn’t the end of the world if our quarterback wasn’t great. We boasted the best offensive line in the league, with three of our five lineman posting an overall of 90 or higher and the gridiron god AP in our backfield. Cornerbacks and D-line ended up being our last picks, but we still got some solid playmakers with Bears CB Kyle Fuller, Bengals CB Dre Kirkpatrick, Texans DL Louis Nix III and Redskins LE Ricky Jean Francois.

The starting lineup of Kyle and Tim’s 2015 Oakland Raiders:

Redskins QB Colt McCoy, Jaguars QB Blake Bortles, free agent QB Terrelle Pryor

Falcons LT Jake Matthews, Vikings LT Matt Kalil

Cardinals LG Mike Iupati, *

Bills C Eric Wood, Redskins C Kory Lichtensteiger

Cowboys RG Zach Martin

Ravens RT Marshall Yanda, Giants RT Justin Pugh

Redskins FB Darrel Young

Vikings RB Adrian Peterson, Bengals RB Jeremy Hill, Giants RB Andre Williams

Steelers WR Antonio Brown

Broncos WR Emmanuel Sanders

Saints WR Brandin Cooks, Raiders WR Kenbrell Thompkins, Eagles WR Josh Huff

Lions TE Joseph Fauria, Jets TE Jace Amaro

Steelers RE Stephon Tuitt, *

Rams DT Aaron Donald, Browns DT Armonty Bryant

Texans DT Louis Nix III, Giants DT Everett Dawkins

Redskins LE Ricky Jean Francois, Cowboys LE George Selvie

Eagles ROLB Kiko Alonso, Bengals ROLB Vincent Rey

Eagles MLB Mychal Kendricks, Vikings MLB Jasper Brinkley, *

Falcons LOLB Brooks Reed, *

Bears CB Kyle Fuller

Bengals CB Dre Kirkpatrick, Jets CB Buster Skrine

Bears CB Kelvin Hayden, 49ers CB Leon McFadden

Dolphins FS Chris Clemons, Jaguars FS Johnathan Cyprien, Buccaneers FS Major Wright

Dolphins SS Rashad Jones, Texans SS Danieal Manning

Rams K Greg Zuerlein

Chiefs P Dustin Colquitt


I’m missing some of the backups (*) but I honestly can’t remember.

Behind our commanding offensive line, Adrian Peterson beat the single-season rushing record by about 70 yards, but somehow finished in second place for the NFL MVP behind the Jets’ Roethlisberger. Colt McCoy was never reliable and after the 11th game, Kyle and I had decided we were benching McCoy and trading him at season’s end. It was time to develop Blake Bortles. A stronger arm from Bortles made it much easier to make the big throws when we needed to. We finished 11-5, good enough for the AFC’s 3-seed and the NFL’s number one defense. We named our front seven “Sack City”. We had around 60 sacks during the regular season, led by Donald and Jean Francois.

We defeated Roethlisberger’s Jets, struggled in our second round matchup but made it through and beat the Houston Texans who had a lineup very similar to our own: beastly lines and founded on the running game. In our first year, we had seven Pro-Bowlers, including AP, Iupati, Martin, Yanda, Jean Francois, Donald, who led the league in sacks and Colquitt.

In the Super Bowl against the Eagles (who remember Kyle is a fan of), led by Cam Newton, we destroyed. We won by at least three touchdowns. Adrian Peterson had over 220 yards and two touchdowns in the big game, yet they gave the MVP to Kiko Alonso for six tackles and a pick-six.

Our first draft was a big one. Despite my limited knowledge of college football, I’m more intrigued with the draft each year. That and we had a lot of holes to fill.

We traded McCoy as promised to the Saints for a 3rd-round pick and Hill for a third-rounder to the 49ers. We should have gotten more for Hill looking back, but it was what it was.

When you create a franchise with a fantasy draft, the game takes care of all the salaries and cap hits for you, meaning most of your key players, like Brown and AP, are signed to five-year contracts and you don’t have to worry about resigning major players until your third-year.

We basically sold house on our backup defensive line. Only Dawkins impressed and he wanted $2 mill a year for four years as a second string so we let him walk.

Our draft went flawless. RE Tahrick Harvey was our first pick and was an 81 overall. Fantastic block shedding and tackling ability, he was a steal with the 32nd pick. Our second round pick, LE Tahrick Maggitt (fantastic name) was also a power tool and demonstrated the same ability to throw off blocks as Harvey. He would serve as a great backup to Jean Francois. We let Leon McFadden go and used our third on a CB named Emilio Fleming, who had killer speed and decent coverage abilities. I can’t remember who we drafted with our second third-rounder (from Hill).

Something that teams today do not do enough, in my opinion, is trade down when they don’t see someone they want. Kyle and I did this a lot. We traded our current picks for higher future ones three times.

We searched through undrafted players and free agent lists for backup players. We let Pryor go and in his place signed Bears QB Jay Cutler and Jets QB Michael Vick for cheap, one-year deals. We found an undrafted running back named George Boenzi with some quickness and moved Andre Williams to the second slot behind AP. We signed an undrafted RE named Khalil Moody to help out Harvey and Tuitt and found TE Heath Miller on the free agent list, so we picked him up and placed him above Amaro on the depth chart.

With Bortles now starting at quarterback, the passing game was much better than it was in our first year. Brown ended the year 19th in receiving and considering how little we passed the ball, that was pretty good. That and Adrian Peterson suffered an MCL sprain during our week 7 match and missed six games. With the running game on the backs of Andre Williams and undrafted newcomer Boenzi, we managed to go 5-1 without our biggest weapon, quite an accomplishment. It also demonstrated our depth was solid. Adrian Peterson still managed to finish second in rushing and our defense (Sack City) remained the best in the league. We finished 14-2 and with the #1 seed in the AFC. We narrowly defeated the Miami Dolphins by one touchdown and then had a rematch of the 2015 AFC Championship with the Houston Texans, a team that had Matt Flynn at quarterback, who was actually pretty good by this point and WR Calvin Johnson. We crushed them again and proceeded to the Super Bowl to defend our title. We had 11 Pro-Bowlers, including our entire offensive line, backup LT Matt Kalil, C Kory Lichtensteiger and RT Justin Pugh, AP, DT Aaron Donald and our rookie first-round pick, Tahrick Harvey.

We faced the 49ers, led by QB Ryan Tannehill, WR Jordy Nelson and our former teammate, RB Jeremy Hill, who ended the year fifth in rushing. We won by two scores, AP had 220+ yards and 3 touchdowns and won Super Bowl MVP.

To begin our second offseason, C Eric Wood asked for a ridiculous deal, something like $35 million for three years. I offered something like $18 million for three. He declined and in doing so, lost more than $3 million because we franchise tagged him for $2.75 mill. Backup LT Matt Kalil wanted to be paid like a starter. I offered $3.75 a year for three years and he turned it down. I wasn’t happy but we weren’t willing to waste more cap space on a backup left tackle. It worked out for us. At the end of the offseason, no one had bid on Kalil. He was forced to sign an $800,000, one-year deal with us. We released MLB Jasper Brinkley and SS Danieal Manning and replaced them with free agent signings, Bears MLB Jon Bostic and former Falcons SS Zeke Motta. P Dustin Colquitt’s stats were dropping, so we cut him in favor of P Jordan Gay. We offered FB Darrel Young about a million more per year than he asked for and he still turned us down. That worked out okay though, because we signed FB Mike Tolbert. We then found undrafted FB Dominique Meyer, who was actually a better blocker than Tolbert, so we traded Tolbert for a 7th round pick.

After releasing CB Kelvin Hayden, we used our first round pick on CB Allan Frederick. His man coverage and zone were both in the high 80’s, he was quicker than anyone on our team and he was a solid tackler. He was an 84 overall. We put him third on the depth chart and had him work out of the slot his first year even though he had an overall a point higher than Fuller and Kirkpatrick. The guy we wanted in the second round wasn’t there, so we took a gamble on LOLB Will Vincent. His man coverage and block shedding were garbage but there was some hope. Vincent’s speed and acceleration were secondary-like so while he might not always make the tackle, he would be the first guy there and at least slow them down.

We drafted someone with our third, can’t remember, and traded our other third for a second the next year. We got some offensive line depth with right guard Brice Bostic in the fourth, an 81 overall. We were unable to trade our second fourth-rounder and saw no one we wanted so we took a chance on a runningback named Black. Black ended up a total bust. He was slow and he was weak, unable to truck through tacklers or juke them out. We couldn’t even move him to fullback because his blocking was desolate. We cut him after the third preseason game.

We made up for it in the 5th by taking LE Andrew Chaney. We were unsure why he was projected to go that low prior to the draft. His power moves and block shedding were similar to Maggitt’s. We drafted him and he had an overall of 79. In the fifth round we got this guy! We still had Maggitt in the second spot based off of experience and his on-field intelligence was higher. Still, that gave us three advanced LEs.

We cut WR Javelle Kelly prior to the draft. The guy was too slow, his hands were inconsistent and he carried the ball like a loaf of bread. We took WR Leron Boyce, who had a 69 overall but had the speed and the hands we were looking for. His on-field IQ was the only problem.

In the 6th round, we grabbed RE Javares Carey, who proved to be an improvement over Tuitt. I’m a fan of Tuitt in real life (he plays for the Steelers) but in the game, the guy was not developing. His overall had jumped only two points in two years. Carey was already a 73 and played much better than his overall indicated. It was a steal for a 6th rounder.

In the 7th round, we needed backup DL. For the last two years, Tuitt had been the primary backup, along with Vincent Rey. We took a big guy named Damarr Hawkins and a MLB named Chris Harrison.

After the draft, we signed C Doug Legursky so we had someone to develop on the off-chance we were unable to resign Wood the next season and LG Greg Van Roten. We found an undrafted receiver named Jamarcus Dobbs. Most of our receivers were around 5’11”. Dobbs was pushing 6’5″ and made some impressive catches during the preseason. We decided to keep him instead of signing a third quarterback. We had dropped declining Cutler and Vick and signed amicable Matt Moore earlier.

Our final year was our best year. Adrian Peterson broke the rushing record we had set in our first season by more than 100 yards and broke the single-season TD record set by LaDainian Tomlinson. Again, Sack City stepped up whenever our offense faltered. We went undefeated going into the playoffs. Peterson won MVP and Greg Zuerlein won kicker of the year for the third straight year. He never missed a kick all three years. Allan Frederick was runner-up for Defensive Rookie of the Year. After defeating the Aaron Rodgers-led Browns, we faced the Houston Texans for the third consecutive championship game. We were down at half, but came back and won by 10+.

The Super Bowl was a rematch, once again against the 49ers. We were up by 3 with a minute to go and the 9ers had a 4th & 5 or something on their own 45. During the playoffs, Kyle would be the playcaller for the first half and I did the second. I had called Cover 2 Sink to pack the middle because I was expecting slant routes. They ran slants out of the right but TE Martellus Bennett and WR Jordy Nelson both ran deep routes, Bennett curving underneath Nelson and lone FS Chris Clemons in between the two. For the last couple games, Kyle had been jawing me that Clemons was old, pushing 30+ and it was time for him to go. Clemons backed up on Nelson and once Tannehill unloaded for Bennett, Clemons came up and smashed the ball right out of Bennett’s hands, a huge play that sealed our third consecutive Super Bowl and the second undefeated season in NFL history. Adrian Peterson ran away with all the awards, beating the single-season rushing record and touchdown record and won league MVP, the Super Bowl and Super Bowl MVP.

We had 17 Pro-Bowlers. The whole offensive line, AP, Bortles, Harvey, Donald, Jean Francois, MLB Mychal Kendricks, who Kyle had been trying to get to the Pro Bowl during this entire experiment, and rookie CB Frederick.

I learned a lot from this Madden experience.

1) Send the blitz more than you think you need to. I used to be overly cautious, but my roommate Jon, who’s smart enough that he could be a defensive coordinator in real life, gave me a lot of pointers and that was one of them. Also, don’t be afraid to send corners and safeties on blitzes. I used to never send them but I discovered quickly that it’s very effective. Our final year, I sent Buster Skrine, our fourth DB, on regular corner blitzes. At year’s end, he had 14 sacks, good for 2nd-most in the league. Keep in mind Skrine is a corner.

2) Offensive and defensive lines are far more important than any football fan realizes. Adrian Peterson is a boss and probably would have shredded teams regardless of who was in front of him, but during our second year, when AP was injured and Andre Williams had to carry the rock, you could hardly notice the difference. Linebackers are still the heart of the defense in my opinion, but if you can’t get pressure with your defensive line, you’re going to struggle in coverage and you’re going to have to send blitzes even when you shouldn’t. It’s much easier to succeed with an excellent defensive line and an average secondary than it is to succeed with an average defensive line and excellent secondary.

3) Use the nickel as your main defensive package. Unless you’re getting trolled by the run game, more often than not the nickel corner will provide more value than a linebacker, depending on who your nickel corner is of course. Our nickel corner was Frederick, a large and quick corner that could take on a runningback one-on-one without getting trucked. More often than not, nickel is what you want.

4) View kick returns as offensive plays. Avoid touchbacks at all costs. Brandin Cooks was a beastly returner (he had 14+ returns for TDs in our three seasons) but you don’t have to have a playmaker to have good returns. You just have to have the vision and a speedster at your disposal. For example, the Steelers drafted RB Dri Archer in the 3rd round of the 2014 draft. In real life, Archer is terrible. He’s insanely quick, but has no vision and so is unable to take advantage of his speed. On Madden 15, Archer is the perfect returner and as long as you, the hands at the joysticks, have the vision, you can have some solid returns. On average, Kyle and I were able to get it to the 30 on most returns, even when we were at the back of our own end zone. That’s an extra ten yards we didn’t have to travel. In a separate game unrelated to this franchise that I played with my friend Alex, we picked two of the worst teams in the league, the Titans and the Jaguars. My returner for the Titans was Leon Washington. Washington is not even an adequate player in real life. Not a playmaker or a big name. I returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown, then Alex returned his, and then I returned another one. We had kick return touchdowns to start a game, back-to-back-to-back. That was the first time I’d ever seen that happen. My offense was garbage the entire game and I think I only managed one offensive touchdown. If my memory serves me right, I won 21-14. More than half of the points scored in the game were on those kickoffs. Both of mine were at the very back of the end zone and I could easily have let them go by, but I viewed it as a chance to score and I did just that. Kick returns are still in play so teams have the chance to return the ball. Return it. Take the chance.

5) Know when to punt. Prior to this experience, I had refused to punt the ball in any Madden game I ever played. I punted it once against my dad in overtime from my own five-yard line. The punt traveled 15 yards and Dad kicked the winning field goal on the next play. I vowed to never punt again. However, as much as we all hate punting the ball, it’s an important aspect of the game. Sometimes, you need to trust your defense and play the battle of field position. If you’re playing for fun, do what you want, but if you’re going for realism, punt when you should.

I had a lot of fun with this and I hope you all had fun reading if you’ve gotten this far. Have you ever made a franchise in Madden? Tell me about it in the comments. I’d love to hear about it.

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Life is full of it. No matter what you do, you’ll have it.

It will track you down like a lion tracks a gazelle, grass brushing against its fur, paws clumping in the mud right before the pounce.

In the blink of an eye, you’re down. You don’t even know what happened.

Where did it all go wrong? How did it come to this?

It’ll tear into you, it’ll cut you and you’ll bleed.

You’ll bleed a lot.

You won’t remember the last time you were in this much pain and anguish.

You’ll get angry. The fires of rage will encompass your soul as you curse the person, people or the decision that has done this to you.

For days you’ll rage, smash your whole being against the cage you find yourself entrapped in.

You will pound on those bars until your skin is raw and the blood has dried, until your bones are numb and your muscles tense.

You will tighten yourself, hide who you are, how you feel, what you did.

You will cloud yourself with hate. You will silently curse the person you once cared for, ask for their damnation.

You have no remorse, no solace to retreat to and no love in you.

For days you have lost part of yourself and are half if not less of your former self.

Part of you has entered a coma and your other half hates that half for ever opening up, for ever considering making the decision you made.

It loathes that half. It detests it. It condemns it.

It never wants to be whole again. Neither do you.

After these crucial days, you begin to realize what they did to you and what you did to yourself.

That’s when it first hits.

That’s when you realize the hammer came down.

That’s when you know you didn’t do enough or you did nothing at all.

Opportunity walked up to you and smirked and briskly walked away before you could even notice.

It came right under your nose and you didn’t do a damn thing about it.

You remained frozen like a philosopher, overflowing with “what ifs” instead of opening your eyes.

You allowed Doubt and Fear to handle the joystick.

You didn’t even put up a fight to stop them.

Or perhaps you have regret for something you did. Or for someone.

You should have never said those things you said.

You should have never devoted yourself to someone who not once devoted themselves to you.

Someone who not once reached out first, who not once showed they cared.

You remain isolated like a lost soldier in the snow.

Don’t know what to stand for, what to fight for, what to live for.

You learn from your mistakes but continue wondering how you ever made them.

Continue to ponder if you’ll ever get a chance to start over.

The burden of not knowing if you’ll get the chance weighs down on you like a monsoon.

Drenched, weathered and cold.

Your will is tattered and your soul is battered, but you got to keep going.

You got to push yourself. You got to believe.

Your compass can waiver but it must not fail.

You must give your family and friends an ideal to strive towards.

You must set the example. You must set the bar.

Not just for others but for yourself.

Push the limits. Demonstrate resolve.

Be better. Try harder.

Strive to be a better you each day.

Regret will always persist. It will never leave. The only choice we have is what we do now.

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The Breaking Point

I claimed the floodgates of WordsofWisTIM were opening. Instead they stalled and I apologize. I also can’t say that they’re likely to open anytime soon either because internship searching, resume writing and school work pervade. Just know that I miss writing movie reviews and other content on here and I will return…eventually.

This post is about the breaking point, the point that defines when we finally look at life and say, “I quit.” I’m not talking about suicide. I’m talking about when you look at what’s around you and you’re trying to win all the battles by yourself and you’re overwhelmed so much that you just break down.

I reached my breaking point Saturday…almost.

Looking for internships and building a resume is one of the most stressful experiences I’ve had to go through and continue to go through today. It is also extremely demotivating because unless you have family all over the surrounding area, your internship radius is extremely limited. For example, I can’t take an internship in Kentucky. I need to be able to commute because as you should well know, most internships don’t pay. Looking for people willing to give you a chance is stressful enough. When you only have a select few you can look at, it’s even worse.

Add to that upcoming deadlines on assignments and a college newspaper (not my own) that won’t answer my calls for material on an assignment that’s due Tuesday and you feel like you’re trying to climb Mount Kilimanjaro with one arm.

To summarize, I’m stressed and sadly my stress and workload has gotten in the way of this blog. Again, my apologizes and I will do my best to try to get content out in the coming weeks.

So I’m writing an article about homelessness for one of my classes. I had lots of trouble finding someone to talk to, far more trouble than I expected. On a Saturday night, I go to my local shelter for what is perhaps my last chance to get a good source before I returned to school. I was very nervous and anxious. My confidence in others far exceeds the confidence I have in myself.

As a youngster, I used to read the stories in Exodus, the stories of the Israelites turning away from God right after they were saved from the Egyptians. Despite the many miracles he provided them, they still found a way to turn away. Reading those at a younger age, I always found myself asking why God bothered helping them when they couldn’t believe in him for an extended period of time.

Yet here I was, wondering where that plan that God has for me was yet again, all because events were not transpiring at the rate that I wanted them to. That night I had two great interviews and was reminded everything will be okay.

Today, that paper finally got back to me, a mere 24 hours before my assignment is due.

Based off these two events, I think I’ve come to learn the importance of believing during the times you struggle the most yet again. It’s a recurring theme with me, yet one that I need to be reminded of on an almost continual basis.

So remember when you’re about to break down, shut off and just cry, remember to take a second to pray to the guy behind the controls. That’s the guy you should be talking to, not to everyone else.

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My Top Ten Favorite Video Games

My favorite video games are going to include some that are ancient by video game terms. I still have a Nintendo Gamecube and Playstation 2. I’ve never had a Xbox-360 or a PS3. With that being said, here are my favorite games up to this point of my life. Also, check out my brother’s list here. Note: These are my favorite games, not the ones I think are the best.

10. Killzone

Easily one of my favorite games on the PS2, Killzone had a solid campaign and story line that kept me engaged and wanted me to keep going with it. Among the few things I remember most about this game, the sniper interface was insanely difficult to get adjusted to compared to the other first-person shooters I’ve played. It’s not a difficult game to master by any means, but putting the AI’s on the hardest difficulty and putting on the maximum amount is still a difficult task on domination on most maps when it’s just you and a friend versus, elongating the game’s playability.



9. Conflict: Desert Storm and Conflict: Desert Storm II: Back to Baghdad

These are third-person shooters on the Nintendo Gamecube and probably ones few will know of, but I always got a kick out of Desert Storm for its two-player campaigns. It was one of the few games my brother and I could play the campaign together and that feature alone makes these some of my favorite games. The graphics are mediocre compared to the Call of Duty games on the system, but the versatility of the game and the unique control platform make this game a fun play that manages to stump you occasionally.



8. Mercenaries

Another third-person shooter, this time for the PS2, Mercenaries is easily one of the more difficult games I’ve played. There isn’t any multiplayer for it, but the campaign is so long and addictive that there’s really nothing to complain about there. You have to capture 52 different bad guys scattered all over Korea in a free-roam style play format. You can do whatever you want and missions will be waiting for you when you’ve decided you’ve done enough fooling around. With all that said, I found this game to be very difficult and it’s one of the few games I have that I haven’t beaten yet. After about 30 tries on the last mission, I just gave up. My brother eventually beat it, which was a thrill to watch, but I do think this game’s difficulty toward the end battered my resolve.

7. NHL 06

This game’s graphics are shoddy but I always found the gameplay to be pretty responsive and enjoyable on a continual basis. Upping up the difficulty did present its challenges but I eventually adjusted. I’ve pretty much mastered this game but I still play it on Gamecube on a regular basis from time to time. I love the newer NHL games though. The new controls are more elaborate and provide a more competitive and adrenaline-filled experience.




6. Madden 07

This game on Gamecube was made the year the Steelers won Super Bowl XL, giving this game some special significance to me. The lineups are solidified in my mind and the gameplay was the way I liked it before it became all about the graphics in the new one and your quarterback throws like a girl. The newer games are definitely more defensive-minded while this game was all about racking up the points. It never got to an arena football-type scoring match, but it was an up-tempo experience, something I miss with the latest renditions.



5. Super Smash Bros. Melee

One of the more popular games from Nintendo, the Super Smash Bros. on Gamecube holds the classic status over the newer remakes because of how big a deal it was at the time. Then, Nintendo was still a profitable company that had some solid games aside from Pokemon and Mario. Super Smash Bros.’ variety of characters and the combos you can do with each provides for a cartoon chess match for players. Everyone’s played it and if you’re a poor college kid such as myself, pulling out this game is one you can have a blast with.


4. Star Wars: Battlefront II

PS2’s third-person shooter is a top-five for me for a couple of reason. First, Star Wars. Who doesn’t love that? The class loadouts are diverse but not overly complicated and the maps are pretty good. I’ve never played this online but the multiplayer conquest is a lot of fun if you can play with a friend.





3. Guitar Hero Series

Guitar Hero has had a bigger impact on me as a person than any other game. My music tastes were brewed by these games. Before Guitar Hero, it was all 80’s pop rock. Guitar Hero showed me there was more than that and now I listen to a lot of rock, alternative rock, hard rock and even a little metal. Some set lists are more challenging than others but I like most of the songs they put on these games. It was the first concept of playing a guitar as a video game that I know of and the reaction time to when you hit the keys was very accurate, which could have easily been these games downfall. Every time I hear a guitar hero song on the radio, I know which Guitar Hero it’s from because I’ve played them so much. Truly an addictive experience to engage in.

2. COD: MW3

My favorite Call of Duty, Modern Warfare 3’s maps are better than any of the other COD’s I’ve played. The loadouts allow for hundreds of weapon and perk combinations so there’s always something you haven’t tried playing with before. The shot accuracy is usually pretty good and the graphics are visually-satisfying enough to immerse yourself with the gameplay.


1. COD:BOP2 Zombies

I love zombies. That’s all there is to it. I’ve played zombies for hours at a time. Most of the new maps are pretty good and the visual caliber is pretty detailed. Playing online is a blast considering all the people you meet in the different lobbies and achieving teamwork with your buds is always a must. Keep calm and Shoot Zombies.


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We All

While on vacation in Florida three weeks ago, I had a chance to see something awesome.

After returning from the beach, my family and I went to a restaurant called Harry’s Sports Bar and Grill. Do you know that place you always wanted to have as a kid, a joint that sold steaks and burgers and was covered with TVs and sports memorabilia? That was this place. There were  TVs in every booth, on every wall and even two in the floor. You read that right: In the floor.

The day we happened to go, the U.S. men’s soccer team was playing Belgium in their round of 16 match-up. The place was full to the brim so my parents asked me to go in and call them when a table was available. While the rest of my family didn’t get to participate in the events that followed, I did and they were some of the best from our vacation.

I don’t consider myself a diehard soccer fan. I grew up playing like every other kid and then switched to another sport just like every other kid, but I’ve been getting back into it, watching the 2010 World Cup and covering the Waynesburg University men’s soccer team for the paper and broadcasting the sport for the county’s sports radio station. It has a faster pace in college and the scoring is more prominent, making it more of a hockey contest on grass minus the sticks rather than a boring afternoon on fine-cut grass like another sport we all know. It’s grown on me a bit and I followed the World Cup and my favorite team, Germany, as best I could around my work schedule. Germany, if you didn’t know, won it all for their fourth World Cup title in their World Cup-record eighth finals appearance and I would hope you’ve heard of the team’s thrashing of favorite Brazil 7-1 in the semifinals, which has already been called one of the biggest upsets and greatest matches in World Cup history.

I missed the first half of the U.S. game because we were at the beach but came into Harry’s Sports Bar and Grill at around the 70th minute. The whole place was in an uproar, a crazed crowd limited only by their body’s ability to digest alcohol and the laws of gravity. All were at the edge of their seat with the mounting trepidation rising inside each of them, goalkeeper Tim Howard continuing to impersonate a Secret Service agent as he stopped shot after shot from reaching the holy twine on his way to one of the best goalkeeper performances in World Cup history. The oohs and ahhs echoed through the place, broadening the bounds of the acoustics.

My family does not understand the religion of soccer. They do not understand how soccer can transcend past the field of play into such a commitment. They are not the only ones. I’ve met plenty of people who feel the same way. America is a country that soccer has failed to ensnare despite the prophets who visit the land such as Landon Donovan, Mia Hamm, David Beckham, Abby Wambach and Clint Dempsey. Legends like Michael Jordan and Kareem, Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux, Babe Ruth and Willie Mays, and Joe Montana and Barry Sanders are praised throughout all 50 states and continue to live as enduring legacies in the hearts of both young and old as the names of soccer stars disappear from our memories like the last blockbuster that didn’t bust anything but the producers’ wallets. All of these stars will leave this world one day but will never be forgotten, for their names are already engraved in the American books of history. A soccer player has yet to accomplish this feat. Aside from Pele, the greatest futbol player of all time to the sport’s most loyal subjects, many Americans cannot name you another competitor in the sport. Whether that will ever change or not is to be determined.

What is factual is the religion of soccer is gaining new followers every day here, especially come every fourth summer. To grasp the full gravity of it, you cannot view it. You must be a part of it. Like more established and more worthy religions, watching church on TV and going to it are two entirely different experiences and to try to compare the two is not only unorthodox but unfair. Observing a sporting event on TV avoids commitment, especially when you are viewing it by yourself, but watching with a crowd of people offers the fan experience and atmospheric tinge we all look for.

That day I got to be a part of that in a way I’d never been a part of a sporting event before. Everyone is huddled together, eyes glued to the screen. All employee obligations are void and any plans you may have made for the afternoon and evening are postponed. Everyone shouts at the screen, yelling the number of the open player, some his name. They frantically point at him as if their finger’s direction affects the whereabouts of the ball. Any uneventful passing is met by fan analysis of the last couple minutes, all negotiating with each other what needs to be done to tip the scales in the United States’ favor, only to have someone point at the screen again and yell something inaudible that draws the attention of the fans and reenergizes the mass. This is what the religion of soccer does. Strangers are now friends and sports commentary compatriots.

The people in Harry’s Sports Bar and Grill that day turned into a people, the persons into a person. White became black, black became white. Republicans and democrats, rich and poor, convicts and priests, We All watched that game. What the game of soccer did was bring a group of people of various backgrounds, races and social statuses and united them as one people with one goal: to win. Nothing else mattered. Nothing else affected that goal.

In a country where our politicians constantly squabble and fail to compromise in favor of the greater good, where our social order continues to weigh more partial to one side, where racism and non-acceptance continues to hamper a country that goes by the mantra  “land of the free”, we were for once, as our founding fathers put it, We the People.

In that raucous abode, We All felt that game.

We All watched that game.

We All bore the sting of that first goal against us.

We All bit the bitterness of the second.

We All thought we tasted redemption after the first of our own.

We All shook our heads in defeat and disbelief.

We All only lasted a few hours that day because after the game’s conclusion, the crowd dispersed, becoming individuals and returning to their lives rather than remaining a camaraderie. There I remained, not only because it was time to eat, but because I still wanted We All. I think we all want that unity with our friends, with our family, with our people, with the people, but some of the things that make us us, like the stack in our wallets, the church we go to or the party we affiliate ourselves with get in the way of that. To become We All you don’t have to be less of yourself, you only have to be more of us. Don’t brag how much you make and don’t judge others for not believing what you believe. We All is a belief and an ideal that can be known and popularized by many things but for now it is popularized by one thing. That one thing involves a ball and two teams of 11 people on a pitch. That one thing is soccer and if you take the time to look at it with others, you’ll see just how much it’s capable of.

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Year One of WordsofWisTIM

On May 13, 2013, I started WordsofWisTIM to further my journalistic talent and to share my knowledge, wisTIM and opinions with others. 2,845 views, 69 followers, 149 posts and 1,267 tags later, WordsofWisTIM lives on and continues to prosper, thrive and grow in so many ways just as I feel I’ve grown in this last year. I read through my posts, all 149 of them, when I was making my Tim’s Favs page and I could really see the difference between how I was writing then and how I’m writing now. It’s been a blast and I’m happy that I gave it a go.

Most Views

In a day: 64, May 5, 2014

In a week: 203, week of May 5, 2014

In a month: 434, April 2014


Then again, WordsofWisTIM wouldn’t mean anything if it weren’t for my readers

Because a writer’s thoughts, words and aspirations are quite meager

If no one’s taking them in on the other side.

My words are like a tide.

There are a lot of waves out there. I know, I’ve been.

I have to hope the extra punch, extra heart and extra feeling that I put in

Knocks the air outta your lungs, makes an impact

Makes a difference and paints an abstract

Because that’s what I want to be.

I want to be “something that concentrates itself in the essential qualities

Of anything more extensive or more general, or of several things.”

I need to hope my writings ring.

I have a goal in mind.

It’s a goal that I did find.

“Existing in thought or as an idea but not having a physical or concrete existence.”

That doesn’t mean I’m looking for magnificence.

It means that when my time here is done

I want to be able to say that I did more than have fun.

I want to be able to say I made my mark

That I had a profound, significant and stark

Effect on somebody

And not nobody

That my presence here

Meant something dear

And that I won’t fade

Like a masquerade.

I want my words to be sublime

Make you think, this guy’s worth my time

That I’m able to elevate myself above the rest

Not to say I’m better or that I’m the best

But to say I’m worth listening to, worth reading, worth understanding and worth knowing.

I’m young and still growing

But I know what I want.

Many are still on the hunt.

Some want fame or riches. Mine is to be missed.

My want is purpose.

It’s simple and complex

Because purpose perplexes.

It’s both solid and flexible

And yet at times it feels unattainable

But if you keep trying

Keep striving

Keep walking

Keep talking

Keep feeling

And keep believing

I think you’re bound to find it some day.

You can’t just take your insecurities and doubts and throw them away.

It’s a game of hide-and-seek and you’re on the seek.

Don’t let the frustration and seemingly hopeless situation get your hopes bleak.

Just keep looking for what you want most

Because just when you’re about to give up the most

You’ll fall upon it after all your miserable strife

And that will be the happiest and most reassuring moment of your life.


In conclusion, thanks for sticking with me and reading. It matters.

So far, I’ve written 93 movie reviews. Below are the movies strong enough to climb to the top ten and the garbage that splattered onto the worst of the worst list up to this point.

Here’s to another great year!

The Top Ten

1. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King: 98

2. Miracle: 97

3. Spider-Man 2: 96

4. The Green Mile: 96

5. Prisoners: 96

6. 42: 96

7. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers: 95

8. Mission Impossible III: 95

9. Spider-Man: 95

10. Iron Man 3: 95


The Worst of the Worst

10. A Haunted House: 40

9. The Contract: 37

8. Redemption: 35

7. Pride and Prejudice: 34

6. Thor: The Dark World: 29

5. The Sum of All Fears: 22

4. Midnight Cowboy15

3. Dark Fury13

2. Open Grave: 10

1. Alien 3: 5

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Looking for Nothing

If you’ve been following my blog for more than three weeks, you probably read my life post about the future.

In that post, I said:

“I’m going to be the man I wanna be.

And I’m going to be that man with those special to me

And all the strangers that walk by

On the off-chance that I make a difference in them aside from a sigh.”

Did I mean what I said? Yes. However, I admit that sometimes I’m not always at my best. I try to be, but sometimes I don’t. Some days aren’t so great and I just don’t feel like talking to people or the effort to do so seems like an additional thing that I’m not obligated to do.

Yesterday, at 1:30 am, I was bored, but not tired in the least bit. I’m usually in bed by then but I’ve been filled with energy the last few days and have been going to bed especially late while waking up just as early. My brother showed me a YouTuber about a month ago named dangmattsmith. He does comedy over chat roulette with random strangers. It looked like it could be fun although I admit I was a little uneasy about doing so. I’m a guarded individual who doesn’t jump out of his comfort zone to get to know people. Yesterday was the exception.

So I went to, the chat roulette site that dangmattsmith uses and gave it a shot. I mean, what else am I going to do at half past one?

The Omegle experiment went nowhere for the first half hour. Just a waste of time, people constantly skipping me and not interested in doing anything. I turned my camera towards my can pyramid that I have at school (what else is a poor college student going to build stuff with?), because I find it interesting and thought perhaps someone else would too.  

Apparently that was not the case. However, I was still bored and video games, television and reading have no allure to me at 2 in the morning so I just kept going on the off-chance that I ran into someone worth talking toSnapshot_20140422_1. Eventually I ran into two girls that looked about 16 or so. They didn’t hit next right away, which gave me the chance to say hey and soon a conversation had begun.

I was looking at two teenage girls while they were looking at a pyramid of cans. Small talk continued until they asked to see me. I’m not the most attractive guy and don’t impress the ladies with my appearance so I hesitated to do so out of fear that I’d be skipped Snapshot_20140422immediately and I was beginning to feel
inadequate after being skipped more times than I can count. I apprehensively moved the camera towards myself and got a positive reaction. To not be judged by your cover is nice. The conversation continued until the one girl went to bed and the other posed a question to me: “So, what’s your story?” I was taken back by this. I don’t share such things with strangers or better yet, people who I meet randomly online at two in the morning. Instead, we shared three true stories and one false and the other had to guess the false one, ala two truths and a lie slightly revamped. My stories were convincing and my lie unspoiled. Hers were not so lucky as I am a clever thinker and reader.

“Now what?” I asked myself. I was enjoying the conversation and would like it to continue as my pillow was still not calling my name. Rather than tell our true stories, my young friend thought of another creative idea: we guess each others. It was a fascinating premise and so I went along with it. My “personality dissection” of her was scarily accurate, down to some of the closest details, so close to the reality that I admit I impressed myself with all that I had learned about this person in a meager hour and a half. I was just amazed.

More thought-provoking conversation was had. We talked until five. That’s right, that’s not a typo. 5 in the morning. It was a conversation that I had never had before with someone I had not known a mere three and a half hours prior. She was smart far beyond her years, including using the word “usurped” in a sentence correctly, a word I thought she had misspelled when she had meant to say surprised (shows how much I know). She knew the world and how life worked incredibly well for her age at only 14 (younger than I had thought).

I was impressed but most of all I was thankful, thankful that I had randomly went onto Omegle expecting to waste a couple hours of my life and instead found someone who made those hours not just worthwhile, but life-altering.

In my opinion, there are few things more worthy of being treasured and cherished then when you went somewhere looking for nothing and ending up unveiling something incredible, like finding a pure pearl in a cracked oyster along the shore when you were just walking along the beach to waste time before you had to go to work. It shows that for once, someone or something was looking for you and further more, to them, you were a diamond that was worth digging for.

The feeling of being searched for, of being especially useful in someone else’s life, can be matched by few things. It lifts you up when you weren’t looking for a trampoline but a dry highway, and the air that rushed around you during that time you spent up in the air was a cool rush to a heated and stressed individual so that when you hit the ground, you’re running. You’re running fast. You’re searching for something again, with a whole new resolve and determination that you haven’t felt in a while. You’re smiling, more than usual and you don’t know why, but you just have this stupid grin on your face. You have this feeling in your stomach. It’s not love or the want of love. It’s not anger, fear, jealousy, or hatred. It’s happiness. Pure and unsoiled happiness. You don’t know how long that feeling is going to lie there, but I know I wish I could take it out of my stomach and look at it, admire it, draw a picture of it even though I’m artistically challenged and pin that scribble on my wall, so I can have a visual and physical model of what that feeling is.

I rip out a piece of paper and grab a pen, with no clue as to what I’m going to draw. I don’t stop to think. I just start drawing, scribbling all sorts of lines and shapes and thicks and thins. I shade in different depths of darkness and do my best to accent what I’m feeling into a picture. It only takes ten minutes so it’s not a masterpiece by any means. I look at what I’ve drawn for the first time and I’m shocked. The image that I’ve drawn, the symbol, the visual representation that I’ve drawn: is me.

I throw the picture down and run to the mirror. I look at myself, with the same shocked look on my face. I lift my hand up and close my jaw manually because the muscles don’t seem to be functioning. I look at every aspect of my being for one…two…three…four…five…six…seven…eight…nine…ten seconds and then… something begins to change. My upper lip begins to lift and then the corners. I can’t control it. It’s as natural and automatic as my heartbeat. The change is complete and I study myself again. I’ve never seen this look before, not like this.

It’s that stupid grin again. It’s bright and voluminous and my teeth start popping out. My eyes start welling up a little with tears of joy. I’m just so happy, oh so happy.

We all wish we could be as happy as I am now all the time. I no longer wish that because I know if we felt like this all the time it wouldn’t be as special, heartfelt, inspirational or as liberating as it is.

So the next time you’re bored and looking for something to do, go on Omegle, or for a walk. Do something that gets you moving (a.k.a. not watching television or playing video games). You’ll be looking at the ground and pacing and you just, you just might, run into something special or have something special thrown upon you.

So…what’s your story?


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Why Sports Are More Than Just a Game

I take sports very seriously. It might be my competitive edge, my love of competition, did I mention competition? It’s just fun. I gotta win, you know?

My friends and family ask me to calm down, tell me getting upset over it isn’t worth it. I know they mean well, that they’re only looking out for my well-being, but sometimes, that’s simply not the case, because sports are more than just a game.

Sports can break barriers before society fully embraces them, like the Brooklyn Dodgers and Jackie Robinson did with the color barrier long before the Civil Rights Movement, the same way sports are accepting gay athletes before gay rights are cemented as more than a concept.

They establish and develop community, helping cities with diverse populations come together on common ground.

When tragedies occur, people look for guidance, for hope, and for change. Sometimes it occurs in political action, relief efforts and public service. Other times, sports rise to the occasion.

On a day that will never be forgotten, September 11, 2001, the World Trade Center Towers were destroyed and over 3,000 Americans lost their lives. The following January, the New England Patriots won the Super Bowl. Is it a play on words? Yes, yes it is, but the effect was their, because we all could believe.

After the New England area was tortured by the Sandy Hook Massacre and Boston Marathon bombings, the Boston Red Sox went on to win the World Series after many expected them to be the cellar dwellers in the AL East.

Surely we can’t forget about the Japanese women’s soccer team that won the 2011 World Cup over the U.S. after a magnitude 9 earthquake and a tsunami tore through Japan, taking the lives of more than 18,000 and displacing hundreds of thousands from their homes.

Finally, and in my opinion, without question, the most momentous sporting event to ever occur in the history of sports, the Miracle on Ice lifted a nation. The economy in shambles and the U.S.S.R dominating the world in every facet, all hope in the future seemed lost and irrational for many American families.  That fateful 1980 Olympics showed the world and the U.S. that there is always hope. If you haven’t watched the film Miracle, you really should. I’ve posted a link to my review here. The final monologue of the film, given by Kurt Russell as Herb Brooks, reads: “…Young men willing to sacrifice so much of themselves, all for an unknown. A few years later, the U.S. began using professional athletes at the Games- ‘Dream Teams’. I always found that term ironic because now that we have Dream Teams, we seldom ever get to dream. But on one weekend, as America and the world watched, a group of remarkable young men gave the nation what it needed most- a chance, for one night, not only to dream, but a chance, once again, to believe.”

It’s a moment I wish I could go back and see, but I suppose a recording of the game will have to do.

Keep this in mind the next time you watch a sporting event. Some athletes only play for the paychecks, but many play for something greater, something bigger than they could ever be. And that, my friends, is worth watching.

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The Future

We all worry about what the future has in store for us. A Bible verse that I’ve memorized that helps me some days is Jeremiah 29:11:

“For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

While that instills confidence in me

It’s not the answer I’d like it to be.

The future doesn’t complete the question that determines my behavior.

It doesn’t say if I’ll be a success or a failure.

It doesn’t tell me the paths to take

Friends to make

Decisions to choose

Or lives to lose.

It gives me doubts.

Gets me into bouts

Of depression and I feel unready.

I feel blind and unsteady.

The tunnel I’m in is narrow and long.

It’s seems unfair, wrong.

It’s so long I can’t see the light at the end.

There’s no way to tell how far I’ve gotten. There are no bends.

My internal compass is misguided

and I’m not at all delighted.

I’m panicked and scared,

Feel insecure and unprepared.

However, I take solace in the fact

That there are breaks in the tunnel that’s so compact.

Those breaks are filled with times with friends

And family, times I wish I could suspend

And hold on to a little while longer,

But I can’t and it makes me somber.

I’d like to be in control

And not feel like such a fool,

But I know the trials and tribulations

Are worth living the “life simulation.”

In a way, it’s nice not knowing how it’s going to turn out

Because that means your future isn’t sold out.

It’s not predetermined

And I’ve still got time for learning.

Learning how to live life the right way

And how to do it all day.

I’ve still got time to see the wonders of the world,

The seven seen and the ones yet unfurled

The ones close to home

And others closer to Rome.

You only live once

And I know I’m not going to look like a dunce

Doing it.

I’m going to look like a master at it.

I’m going to be the man I wanna be,

And I’m going to be that man with those special to me

And all the strangers that walk by

On the off-chance that I make a difference in them aside from a sigh.

I might not have the control I want over my life

Over the toils and strife

But I’ve still got some control of it

And you can bet your last paycheck I’m going to take advantage of every bit.

The ability to choose and to live is so underrated.

People don’t realize what a gift that is and how unappreciated

It is by some

And how dumb

that is. Live in the now.

Don’t ask how.

Moments are driving.

Get doing, get living, get loving and high-fiving.

Live with no regrets

Because if you can do that

Then it doesn’t matter what your future holds

Because you already know you lived your life to the fullest

And you wouldn’t have done it any other way.

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