Tucson Reflection #4

A little travel trivia for you based on an article by Livability (2016):

  • The average American has visited 12 states.
  • The top five visited states are Florida, California, Georgia, New York, and Nevada.
  • California, Florida, and New York residents have visited fewer states than the typical American.
  • 10% of Americans have never been to a state other than the one they live in.
  • Americans take more than four leisure trips per year.

My Thanksgiving trip of 11 days, counting airports, took me to five states. Looking at these trivia points, it would be foolish of me not to see my life as privileged.

At some point on this trip, maybe on a plane or driving around Tucson, a thought occurred to me. The more I travel to new places the smaller I get. I’m pretty sure it was while I was in Tucson. I’m guessing because Tucson was unlike any other city I’ve visited.

Sure, it is American. Sure, it is modern. Sure, it is multicultural. Sure, it is a University town. Sure, it is picturesque. Sure, it is probably just about anything you’d want a city to be where you live or visit.

Something about Tucson, though, expanded my world and reminded me that the world is quite big. Therefore, I am quite small.

Now, someone might read that and the takeaway would be, “That sounds depressing.” Thankfully, with the worldview I have, my response is the opposite. I’m grateful for the reminder.

Too often my world revolves around me. I’m “bigger” than I really am. Is that because I’m American? Single? Male? White? Privileged? Floridian? Alabama fan? Probably. But it’s also because I’m human, in the lineage of Adam. I fall prey to wanting to be like God.

The smaller we children of Adam see ourselves in comparison to God the better our lives are. We allow the fullness of His presence; we give him more space to reveal he’s bigger. Bigger than us. Bigger than our stuff. Bigger than our circumstances. Bigger than our doubts. Bigger than our fears. Bigger.

On behalf of all the children of Adam, thank you, Tucson! You remind us God is Big!

Photo by REVOLT on Unsplash

Tucson Reflection #3

Running in the Holualoa Tucson Half Marathon had more than one first in store for me.

Yes, it was my first, and most likely only, race in Arizona.

One first I didn’t know was going to happen was sitting on a shuttle bus for over an hour to stay warm before waiting another 30 minutes before the start. It would be nice if that didn’t happen again.

The other first that I did know about beforehand was this…the course was mostly downhill. See below:

Sounds easy. Maybe looks easy. Here’s the deal: it messed with my head. I didn’t make an amateur move and start out too fast. It actually felt like I managed my pace pretty well. But it was deceiving. Although it felt okay, turned out my first, and most likely only, largely downhill race may have messed with my head in a totally new way.

You know the boiling frog syndrome metaphor?

Failing to act in a situation increasing in severity until reaching catastrophic proportions.

Well, it didn’t get catastrophic. No paramedics were involved. Nothing like that.

What happened was I thought I was fine and was going to be able to keep the pace I started, but my body didn’t agree with my head. The subtle impact of the course won. It gave me a reminder. Being comfortable, being fine, going downhill has its own challenges. Adjust. Keep learning. The course, the journey always has something to teach you.

On behalf of all us frogs, thank you, Tucson! May we never stop learning!

Tucson Reflection #2

Getting to Tucson was no joke. The trip started by a 5AM EST (3AM in Tucson) alarm in St. Augustine followed by a three-hour stop in Orlando before boarding flight #1 in Tampa. After a four-hour layover in Denver, the final leg of the trip landed me in Tucson; after a short ride to the AirBnB, I got in bed at 12AM. If you’re counting, that’s a 21-hour day. Not necessarily the smartest start to a weekend for running a half marathon.

When you arrive in the middle of the night to a place you’ve never been, you pretty much have no idea, nor do you really care, what that city has to offer. I apologize to you, Tucson, but I had no idea what you had in store for me when I walked out the door to go to lunch a few hours later. You slapped me in the face with this view:

I didn’t mind the surprise. In fact, I couldn’t get enough. For the next 48 hours, I kept shaking my head and saying to myself, and I guess to God, “What? This is spectacular.”

Maybe it’s because I’ve been in Florida most of my life. Maybe it’s because different is intoxicating. Or maybe it’s because most surprises just aren’t this good.

Regardless of the maybes, here’s what I do know. I will never get over that the Creator of things that slap me in the face also humbled himself to see me, to know me, to rescue me, to offer me hope, to say, “Just wait ’til you see what I’m making for you.”

On behalf of all who visit you, Tucson, thank you! You remind us there’s a matchless surprise to come!

Tucson Reflection #1

I’m 53.   That means I’m in the generation between the Boomers and the Millennials.  I find that space an important one.

Each generation plays an important role in passing along knowledge, values, beliefs, worldviews, etc.  In a best case scenario, that happens in homes and offices.  If you’re a Boomer, born between 1946-1964, chances are this happened fairly seamlessly for you.  That means your parents and bosses did their job.

As a Gen-X, born in 1968, I’ve noticed a breakdown.  Whether it happened in Boomer land or my land, the seamless passing along of life’s need-to-knows is no longer a given.  Why do I say this?  Because we’re all saying it.

One way I hear and observe this is the rejection of Millennials (born between 1981-1996) by Boomers and vice versa.  Why? Bunch of reasons. Tom Gimbel wrote this explanation:

Many baby boomers see millennials as impatient, unprofessional, and lazy, while millennials may see baby boomers as unapproachable or old-school. 

https://fortune.com/2017/04/01/leadership-career-advice-millennials-conflict-feud-mentorship/

These insights are barriers-barriers that can be overcome. One overcoming suggestion Gimbel mentions is the importance of setting success expectations. On this suggestion, I’d like to point something out to the Boomers. Root for the Millennials in your world. They may not do things like you, and that’s actually a pretty good reason to cheer them on.

While in Tucson for three nights recently, I watched one Millennial virtually and one in person doing some incredible work. And I thought to myself, I wonder how they are being treated by the Boomers in their world.

The first one was Tommee Profitt. A friend posted a video on Facebook from Profitt’s 2020 Christmas album. I hadn’t listened to the entire album, so I took the time one evening to listen on YouTube. Wow! What an inspiration. I hadn’t really paid attention to Profitt before this hearing, so I did the Google thing. As I read comments about his work, mostly moving and affirming, an occasional statement surfaced stating “he’s not for everyone.” I see that. But what gifts he is giving to the world. Those gifts are “thanksworthy,” from all generations.

That was Saturday night. The next morning I accepted a new acquaintance’s invitation to his church, Saint Philip’s in the Hills. Pleasantly, although the majority of attenders were older than me, there was a youthful presence on the stage. Most speakers in the service appeared to be younger than me. But the one who grabbed my attention was the Rector, Reverend Hendrickson. His reflection was memorable, relatable, engaging, and thought provoking. And the spirit in the room was supportive, celebrative, communal, unified, and worshipful. It appeared the Boomers in this church knew how to root for the Millennials.

On behalf of all generations, thank you, Tucson! You are living proof generations can thrive together!