Friday, March 10, 2006

travis: two tales

I have a friend named Travis.

Travis has made a lot of bad decisions in his life. And he has a knack for saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. True story: at church there was a married couple who had been trying and failing to get pregnant for years. They finally did and the first time they brought their beautiful new-born baby to church…as everyone was hovering over the babyseat ooh-ing and ahh-ing and as the proud parents beamed with joy…Travis, in all sincerity, asked, “What if it dies?” The room immediately went silent and every head snapped around to glare at him with disgust and disapproval.

That is Travis.

But despite his apparent case of mild social retardation, every once in awhile Travis will floor you by saying something so deep and so profound that it reminds you just how good of a man he really is. Obviously, having been friends will him for over a decade, I have many examples. But I want to share just two with you now:

We were in high school and on a ski retreat with our youth group. There were 50 or so 9th-12th graders crammed into the lobby of one of the cabins, trying to sit in the closest thing we could make to a circle. The game: “Boundary Breakers”. I know that those of you who have spent any amount of time in or around any kind of Youth Ministry know what “Boundary Breakers” is. But in case anyone is unfamiliar with it, the premise is easy. A question is asked (“What is your favorite flavor of ice-cream?”; “What do you want your epitaph to say?”; “If you could meet any person from any place or any time in history, who would it be?”) and everyone has to answer. It is simple. And it is annoying.

The question was asked, “What is the color of love?” I think a girl came up with that one. Most people said something to the tune of, “Umm, red. Cause of like…hearts and stuff.” Some people said their favorite color. The depressed kid said, “Black”. The dorky upperclassman who always tries to be funny said, “Green. Cause I love money.” The overly spiritual girl said, “Red. Because that is the color of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ’s blood, of which the Holy Scriptures testify was shed on the cross at Calvary to save everyone of us from our sins and to give us the gift of eternal life. Amen.”

But Travis…oh Travis…when it came around to be his turn, he looked pensively into the distance, inhaled slowly, and said these words, “I don’t know…you know. I guess I think the color of love is that indescribable color of the sunset. You know that mixture of oranges and reds and purples and pinks. You can’t explain it, but you know it’s beautiful.”

Every girl in the room melted.

And every guy was kicking himself for not thinking up a better answer than “Red”.

Come on. This was a goofy 14 year old kid who biggest claims to fame were shrink-wrapping himself to stuff and a dead-on impersonation of a ticked-off bear. Where did that come from? And the most amazing thing is that he wasn’t trying to impress anybody or sound profound. He just meant it. For that 14 year old kid, in that moment, the color of love really was the indescribably beautiful color of the sunset.


But that is Travis.

I have recently been struggling with worrying that I am just one more guy who plays guitar and writes songs and thinks that qualifies him for superstardom. I have written about that here, so I won’t bore you all with anymore of my self-absorbed babble. Anyway, I had shared with Travis in an e-mail how I didn’t want to be “that guy”, but feared, in reality, that that was in fact the case. In his e-mail back he responded to me with these words:

Speaking of what your doing....I honestly don't think there's anything wrong with being "that guy". It's commendable. I'll never be "that guy". I don't think there really is a "that guy" except for the goobers. You are just a guy that writes songs that wants them to be heard. It just so happens that others want that too. And that's cool....more music out there. Anyway, that's my 1 cent. Some might disagree...but I think those are the ones that want to do it but are too scared.

I don’t know how all that sounded to you, but those words nearly knocked me out of my chair when I read them. It is short, but it is sweet. And it resounded as truth in my soul. I needed to hear that. And somewhere out of the depths of his heart (probably right next to his admiration of sunsets) he spoke wisdom into my life.

Travis is a good friend. He has known higher highs and lower lows in his life than most of us ever will. Because he is unafraid failure, unafraid of being wrong. He is missing the link that says, “Wait a minute…what will other people think if I say this?” He just says what he means. Sometimes that gets him into trouble…like when he audibly contemplates the life expectancy of a new-born baby. But at least he is real. Good or bad, the guy is real.

And I envy that about Travis.


Anonymous said...

I love Travis. Hey, what ever happened to that guerilla of his?

bill said...

that poor guerilla...i don't know. but it lived a very hard life.

Daynish said...

I have to say...I love Travis too. Remember our short lived accountability group, just the 3 of us? would not have been the same without that guy.