“Let’s go on an adventure”

A dried creek in early Spring – Salado 2019

I’ve spent some time looking back at past relationships this week, and I figured it was a good idea to ruminate on the life lessons and concepts I’ve gained from them. As such, this article is dedicated to the memory of a friend I had before, during, and after a major turning point in my life, Ronnie Mattison.

I was looking around on the common meme pages and stumbled across a wholesome gem that sparked the old memories this past week. I can’t find the tweet now, but I wanted to give props to the person who wrote it. The message was clear as day: “Life is not a soul crushing ride that goes on until we die. Every day is an adventure to be shared and enjoyed. Do not let any moment pass you by.” It was this simple tweet and some spiritual guidance from books and friends that all held the same message.

19. Nearly half my life ago. I had a devil may care attitude and something to prove. I was defiant, as most young men I knew. Nothing was serious and those who took things seriously didn’t know how to have fun. To be honest, a lot of those days are a blur as at that time things just meshed. The next day didn’t start until I woke up, and the routine of each day with work and spending time with friends or watching television was just that, routine. I can’t remember the exact reason we met, who we met through, what led to that chance situation, but I do remember the effect it had.

At first we hung out every few days, drinking coffee at the local shop or at a mutual friend’s house to play video games or just chill out. We started to hang out more until it was almost guaranteed that where you found one of us, you found the other. We worked on car stereos, wrote crappy techno music, made stupid comedy home videos (well before YouTube, thank God), shot pool, sang karaoke, and saw local punk bands.

I remember one day in particular, nothing major was happening, and we were bored. Ronnie sat up from the sofa in my crappy little apartment and said, “Let’s go on an adventure”. Little did I know that this phrase would be the code we lived by. Everything we did had no rhyme or reason other than that we just had the opportunity and we damned any consequence. So what did we do that day? We went to Taco Bell. We went to WalMart. We went to the coffee shop. Nothing was different from any other day other than how we looked at it. This became an every day occurrence. Were the chips down? Let’s go on an adventure. Was the sun shining and everything seemed to fall into place? Let’s go on an adventure. Everything was an adventure.

For years, it was like this. Through good times and bad, hardships, family issues, we had adventures. We were like a D&D party, surrounded by the massive foe of life, trying to defeat it with laughter at every moment. We joked about our displacement after a massive hurricane, we tried to bring the same liveliness to Texas until it all passed, then we parted ways. Ronnie moved back home and I stayed. We both started to establish a life for ourselves in our own ways and lost contact for a period of time. Every now and again we would check in and discuss current goings on, reliving the past moments and trying to create new adventures, but it wasn’t the same. It was around this time that I started to turn my life around and see some of the mess I had created and trying to clean it up. I let Ronnie know that I felt we were going in different directions in life and I hoped he would find his way.

The next years were eventful, to say the least, and life changed. I started to take things to heart and really look at how I lived and what I was doing. New situations arose and I could face them with a different outlook rather than as a constant joke. I finally established myself in corporate America and started fixing my credit. Then, in 2011, I got a phone call. Ronnie had cleaned up his act as well and wanted to get together and talk. It just so happened that I was going to be in town, so we met up. It felt like old times. We joked, we laughed, we had fun at the expense of everything. Little did I know this would be the last time we would speak.

We attended a spiritual gathering together and reminisced of the good old days. Things turned slightly serious as we got caught up on everything, and then there was silence. Ronnie broke it by telling me that he wished he had someone local that could be there to help guide him spiritually. I had to chew on that for a minute. I had always looked up to him as he always had something comedic to say and was the life of the party, and now the tables had turned. It was in that moment that I realized we could never go back to how we used to live, and that we were too close to be of any guidance to the other. So I told him that as a friend, I couldn’t be a guide for him, but I could be his main cheering section. I wished him well in life and told him he was free to reach out any time he wanted. And with a last handshake, we parted for the last time.

It wasn’t until 2015 that I got the news that Ronnie had died unexpectedly. It was heartbreaking and I lost much of the joy I felt life had. I took things more seriously at this point, focusing more on my career and family. Trying hard to squeeze every last bit of joy out of life through hard work and force. I lost sight of what I had all along.

I won’t say I squandered the time after his death as I’ve made many milestones since then and encountered new situations that were exciting and joyful. It’s just that my perception of where that daily joy was had been lost, until this past week. I have several mantras that I use, the most common being “what have you done for someone else today, sir?” that keep me going. But it is time to add a new one for each day: “Let’s go on an adventure.”

As in Skyrim, I can adventure alone or bring a friend and find something new. Joy can be found everywhere and in every situation as long as I seek it. I’ve written on feeling good by doing things for others, but knowing that my actions have a result even when no one else is around and which I need to be accountable for can help me better gauge between that unbridled happiness and being an insufferable ass. The only foes in this adventure of life are misery, malcontent, restlessness, or irritability. I have to temper this though, I can’t overcompensate by going through each day trying to choke fun from every situation. I can be happy and slow down to savor the experience of life if I only choose to do so.

Let’s go on an adventure.

-James

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