Originally Published January 27th, 2017
“You can have anything you want if you want it badly enough. You can be anything you want to be, do anything you set out to accomplish if you hold to that desire with singleness of purpose.” -Abraham Lincoln
A decade ago, I was 21 and desperately trying to find my purpose in the world. I was writing and recording music in a small spare bedroom at my parents’ house. An effort that would lead nowhere. Several years later I would start a business and at the peak of success, turn my back and slowly walk away. The formative years of twenty something are often clouded in a dubious haze. That’s where my brother Logan is finding himself, somewhere out in the fog.
On a raining gray Sunday, Logan and I took to the streets. The air was a muzzled frozen calm that covered us as we meandered through makeshift trails and broken bottle alleys. Hands buried in pockets and breath misting. We were just two ghosts falling down the sidewalks. On most days Logan carries an army satchel full of side grinning charisma. He learned to speak to the backstreets and barstools early in life. Rogue. The second born syndrome. For reasons I won’t address, he was wholly alone. Careening through life on someone else’s couch. Only moving back home as of recently to be with family. Now for the first time, we walked and talked together about life, love, philosophy and that itching question every young man has; what am I doing?
If you’re a lucky soul, your path is littered with folks who show you the way. I only being one generation removed from illiteracy, was forced to find my own path. A work in progress. However, I’ve learned to embrace the uncomfortable. In hindsight, I’m grateful for the obstacles I have overcome. Lincoln said, “Only the test of fire makes fine steel.” Compared to Logan’s trials, I’m a fine Lilly.
We haunted along rubbled buildings and deserted train tracks. Logan said to me,”you figured it out, you know what you’re doing with your life.” I quickly assured him I was just as confused. Still, I was able to offer a small bit of advice. I told him to find something, anything. Whatever it was, take small steps everyday to endeavor towards becoming better. Along the way, search out mentors and friends that will nurture your goals.
“You are the average of your five closest friends. Find friends that are just as enthusiastic about your dreams as you are. If they aren’t pushing you towards your goal, you’re fooling yourself.”
Then I said, “in the end, whatever comes from this, you’ll have stories, and friends to share them with. Maybe if you’re lucky, you’ll be able to help someone along the way.” Picasso said, “the meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” I love this quote but I take it a little further in saying, “the meaning of life is to find your gift and use it to help others.”
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” -Gandhi
We ended our journey under a desolate railroad bridge scarred by graffiti and ancient vines. Here Logan came to think, encountering ghostly drifters and stoney solitude. Here we attempted to decipher the language of 1000 nameless vandals. Here we talked about the raw, unpainted future. Here we stared down the tunnel as the light poured into the ambivalence.
Then we walked back home.
Camera Notes: All photos were shot with a Fujifilm X100T and natural light.