Never A Mistake, Always A Lesson

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The long, windy canyon road that i climbed in my truck. The road that made me want to go grab the monster. It’s one of those roads that no matter what form of transportation you’re in, provides you with a serene place to think about whatever strikes your fancy. With a cigarette in my mouth, the new senses fail record screaming in my ears, my mind traveled afar. Somewhere I try not to travel because I know the power of its unsubtle way of making me question who I am, but hell it didn’t stop me. Through my short 24 years of life, I’ve learned so many things about who I am. Problem is learning and understanding are 2 different animals.

When you learn you examine a decision, look at the outcome, and determine the casual chain. It is incredibly useful, as well as simple and straightforward. Learning is about seeing things only for the results they provide. Understanding, however, necessitates examining the context of a decision and the basis for the process in the first place. Learning is forward thinking (do-this-get-that), understanding is backward looking (do-this-because-of-that).

Where does this leave me? Trying to figure out how what I’ve learned has made me understand who I am. I have such a old soul In a society that is full of, for lack of a better term, new souls. I wish I had a horrible childhood to tell you about that coerced my way of thinking, but I don’t. I was raised in the house I still live in. My parents, now divorced, have always been supportive in my endeavors, no matter how much they disagree with them. My grandparents are beautiful people, to whom I treasure. My sister is a huge dork , with the coolest set of idiosyncrasies I’ve ever seen. I wasn’t a typical child. I always felt school was unimportant. It didn’t involve engines or wheels, so I wasn’t interested. I received my fair share of bullying, due to the fact I was one of the bigger kids. But in our day and age for every pair of underwear you put on, there is new bully waiting to pull it through your crotch; at least I was big enough to scare them away. I was a homebody during school, due to the fact I went to a school nearing 10 miles from my house, making it a hassle to see my close friends. I wore glasses due to inheriting my mothers 20/20 vision, and spilling battery acid in my eyes when I was younger. Que the start of my learning curve.

I attended Los Alamitos High School, which at the time was one of the highest drug fairing schools in California. Yes the rainbow pills were flowing, along with weed, cigarettes, PCP you know all the good stuff. I was always one to shy away from things i wasn’t familiar with. I’m not to positive on why, i don’t really remember having the drug talk with my folks. Being a part of the football team automatically gave me a large group of friends i could hang around with. I saw them everyday, cried with them, bled with them so i figured they’d be good buddies. It’s funny when you’re in high school, how you are so certain that group of friends will be with you forever. Where’s my bullshit button? Oh there it is i found it. BULLSHIT! That group of friends, to whom I loved, made choices that i wasn’t fond of. Don’t get me wrong, I will still give them the shirt off my back to this day if they asked for it, but I no longer talk with them. Stupid shit happen, and I was forced to make a decision. Friends became acquaintances, acquaintances became people I’d hear from once a year, then down the chute they went. It’s hard loosing people to whom you’d think would be the best men at your wedding. I can’t be too angry at them, that group of people introduced me to the people i now trust my life with. It’s a funny thing how and when people enter your life. My life was in the shithole, I’d pretty much lost everyone i trusted, i was overweight and angry at myself. I honestly don’t know what my now best friend saw in me. It’s even bugged me enough to ask him, to which his response was a nimble laugh.

You begin to find yourself after you start noticing how you already found, already messed up, already learned, and already understood. Heres how i became myself: mistakes, embarrassment, harassment, addiction, pride, hate, love, death of people with whom I could not live, loss of pets that left my stomach in knots, horrible relationships, rejection, strong morals, great relationships, feeling like i did everything right even though it was wrong, dating a 18 year old when i was 23, dating a 29 year old when i was 24, loosing my mind, finding it again, determination, strength, helping people, betrayals but much greater loyalty, conversations about life with friends and family, stepping out on a limb, breaking said limb, being stupid while intoxicated, getting lost, being a doormat, using people.

The most important thing I’ve learned throughout my stint of life is you have to make mistakes to find out who you aren’t. You take the action, and the insight follows. You really can’t think your way into becoming yourself. Mistakes are the most justified part of my life. So I began the daunting task of figuring out what I will not do. Now understand that some of these idiosyncrasies and/or lessons have been discovered as early as yesterday, so bare with me. I will not change myself for somebody else. Now as i sit and think back i understand how much hard work I’ve put into myself, and how much effort it is learning myself and adjusting accordingly. I refuse to let that hard work falter, to anyone let alone myself. I will never judge anyone, ever. I will not bend over backward for someone who will not do the same for me. Call me selfish, but breaking your back for someone who will not return the favor is pointless. You are the only one who gets hurt in the end. I will not give up. No matter what odds i may be given. I will not be a doormat anymore; I’m still working on this one. It’s hard as hell, but I’m learning brutally that when you do that people will take advantage of it. It then becomes a hassle and stresses me out. I will not be stressed out by other people anymore. Somebody else’s emergency does not constitute a emergency on my part unless i make it that way. That’s the short list. When you decide what you won’t do, you also have to recognize what you will do. I will not list that out for you, if you want to find out you’ll have to accompany me in my journey, and be important enough to stay by my side.

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Another integral part in finding yourself is the company you keep. The quote “your friends can either be a elevator or a cage” is so veracious. I lost my job, or I was left heartbroken, or I was in a funk, i know where I can go. My friends and there families will take me in with open arms to guide me, provide me with honest, insightful opinions, and make sure I’m taken care of. My friends will offer me there whole hearted support when I need it. I still remember with all the crap that was going on i approached my best friend in my nonchalant way. Funny thing is my best friend is nothing near nonchalant. He guided me in the correct direction but the funny thing was is the way he did so. From what I’ve learned about psychology is a psychologist will not tell you what to do, they will guide your wheels in a direction. You take your guided wheels, and figure out where to go. You need to figure out life on your own terms, in your own way. If people tell you what to do, you’ll never learn anything. You will never get the benefit of making mistakes, yes I said benefit. You must harness mistakes for your benefit. Mistakes can point you to something you don’t know, deepen your knowledge, show you what matters and what doesn’t, it can serve as a warning, point
out hidden faults, show us that we are like others, bring out relationship problems, show you your authentic self, show you when you are not listening. You must expect mistakes as a normal part of growth and development.

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So why this blog? My mistakes have bitten me in the ass as of late. They aren’t mistakes i literally made, but mistakes that arisen after a certain set of circumstances came to be. You know the funny thing? I’m more happier than I’ve ever been. I’m not in a rut, I’m making things happen and my life is progressively changing for the better. There’s a way of playing safe, there’s a way of using tricks, and theres the way I’m learning to play, which is dangerously, where you’re going to take a chance on making mistakes in order to create something you’ve never created before. I’d rather live my life making mistakes, learning, figuring out myself, understanding, than to take a seat and watch it roll on by.

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To go left, you must turn right

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A few blogs back i filled you in about some not so good things that happened to me. You know me bitching about losing my job, blah blah blah. Sitting in a Marriott parking lot as i escorted my grandmother to the car, I started the daunting task of putting all my motorcycle gear on. For some reason, on that day, i was second guessing myself and everything i was doing. I’m not going to lie, I felt like i was failing at my life, like something was missing. I had lost my job, to which I thought I wouldn’t have to worry about. My life was in turmoil. This is a place i don’t come to very often because I try to do my best to stay away from it. Life tends to throw situations at you testing that you can keep the garbage in the trash can and not get it stuck in your head. On the elevator ride down from my grandmothers hotel room, she was talking about something or someone getting hurt. Im sorry grandma, that i can’t remember the conversation we were having, but in a nonchalant funny way i mentioned “along with my pride” trying to initiate a conversation about the crap running through my head. Throughout my life I was accustomed to being babied when it came to things i didn’t want to hear; I now am tired of it because all it leads to is a sense of apocryphal hope. At the end of the day, for whatever reason, I know my grandmother will tell me how it is, whether I want to hear it or not. So here I am, asking the smartest, most beautiful, stubborn souled person i know about what to do with my life. I’d love to tell all of you that my grandma had some miracle advice that would fix all my problems, but unfortunately life doesn’t provide you with miracles, you have to make them happen.

I began to tell grandma about how I didn’t like the way things were going. I’d finally found something useful to suffice my non working status. But things weren’t as I expected, and making sense of it was troubling me. I still find my grandmas approach to the whole ordeal interesting. Her first question to me was, “what do you want to do with your life?” I sat there, motionless with nothing useful to say. I honestly had no idea. Its such a simple question, with such a simple answer. With a dumbfounded look in my eyes, grandma started picking. The place she went to took me off guard. “When you were a little kid what did you want to do?” Holy crap! That’s a question i could answer. Ready for my childish pipe dream?

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A sprint car is an “open wheeled” (no fenders), “open cockpit” (no roof, no doors) vehicle measuring roughly 12 feet bumper to bumper and 7 feet side to side. The chassis is constructed of a minimal tube frame with a short 84-inch wheelbase. The suspension, deliberately crude by modern standards, consists of a live axle in the rear and a dead axle up front, and torsion bars for springs. A V8 engine, fueled by methanol, is connected to the quick-change rear axle by a coupler called an “in-out box”. There’s no starter motor, and the battery is only large enough to power the ignition system for the evening. Sprint Cars use very large right rear tires, in fact an average right rear tire is around 21 inches wide, has a circumference of 105 inches and a 33.2 inch diameter on a 15 inch diameter wheel to couple the irresistible force to the soft clay below. The driver sits atop the rear axle, “upright”– much like sitting in Grandma’s antique chairs for Thanksgiving dinner with his legs straddling the driveshaft.The body, what there is of one, is made from either sheet aluminum or fiberglass. The standard powerplant of professional sprint car racing today displaces 410 cubic inches, and is based on aluminum blocks from Donovan or Rodeck, and aluminum heads from Brodix. The basic dimensions (bore center spacing, deck height, etc.) are still those of a Chevy V8, but you won’t find a single GM part in the engine. Roller tappets and rocker arms actuate the titanium valves. Tall injector stacks top it off, feeding a potent mix of methanol and air to the cylinders. More fuel is injected through “down nozzles” in the side of the heads . Oiling is handled by a dry sump system, with the oil tank often located just ahead of the driver on his left. These engines routinely top 8000 RPM, producing in excess of 1000 horsepower. The cars can weigh between 1300 lbs. and 1700 lbs. with the driver. With a power-to-weight ratio comparable to a Formula 1 racer’s, and a short, tippy frame, a sprint car spends most of its time scrabbling for traction, broadsliding around the corners, wheelstanding on the straights, and throwing clay into the stands, while the driver wrestles frantically with the steering wheel. The car holds one occupant, the driver, who sits centered in the car behind the motor but in front of the rear wheels. Sprinters can be raced both with and without wings. “Wingless” is the traditional form of competition, however “winged” sprints became a common form in the early 1980s.They are known to be one of the most dangerous forms of racing in the world. They see in access of over 140 miles per hour. The interesting thing about sprint cars is the way they turn, or the way they don’t turn. A famous quote about sprint cars is that ” to go left you must turn right, and to go right you must turn left” Turning a sprint car involves pitching it into a corner, and keeping the car in control with the throttle. The first race i ever attended was a sprint car race, And god was i hooked.

Awesome pipe dream isn’t it? I wanted to drive a race car. It’s funny how in such a small amount of time, my grandma turned my dumbfounded, saddened look, into a huge smile. Yes I want to strap myself into a 1000lb, 1000 hp, adrenaline machine and take it around a clay oval, sideways doing 140 miles per hour. Come to realize its not a pipe dream, It’s what makes me happy. Isn’t that what life is about, making yourself happy? Yes, that’s exactly what it’s about. Although this being my childish pipe dream my other dreams can’t be set aside. Now let’s get one thing straight, driving a sprint car is a dream that is not happening anytime in the near future, there are so many important things than driving a race car. I want my own house. Something I can call my own, and be thoroughly proud of. I want a family. I truly feel that I have something special in me to offer my kids, and would feel empty if i had to live my life without them. I was born to be a father. I forget this from time to time, because hell I’ve never been in the situation where the opportunity has been available. People in my life have reminded me of this, whether it was something i wanted to hear at the time or not. I appreciate all who have, and appreciate you having my best interests always in mind, even if it means reminding me in a way that doesn’t make me happy,

I got follow your bliss tattooed on my arm so i would never forget to do what makes me happy, but for some reason i still do. The same tattoo is printed across the chest of Buddy Nielsen, the lead singer for my favorite band Senses Fail. The reason this quote was so important to me is in the context in to which I first heard it.
In the Senses Fail song Can’t Be Saved the song begins as such,
Follow your bliss , it reads on my chest
I knew I got it tattooed for a reason
Why can’t I just hold it true.

From the context of the song, buddy feels he can’t be saved because he hasn’t “followed his bliss”. When i heard it for the first time, my utter love of quotes took over and i started researching what it meant. The short definition is to follow your heart. On the contrary, Follow your bliss is a sacred call to action for your soul to pursue what makes it happy, and what makes it light up. To find the thing in your life that makes it seem like three minutes has gone by when it’s really been hours. Now the unfortunate side to this, is that some people will never find this. It will bother some, and to others it wont really matter. I’m lucky that in my life, I’ve found it, and in more than one thing.

After my smiling, gitty ten-year old self calmed down, grandma took charge. The essence of what grandma was saying is best described by a quote by my father. “There are 3 types of people in this world, people who watch things happen people who make things happen and people who sit around and wonder what the hell happened”. It’s a quote i refer back to a lot, but its meaning keeps being redefined over and over again. She told me that the only thing left to do was to get up and go do it. If you want to follow your dreams, you need to just go do it. It’s hard to change your life, I’ve been through it before so i understand it. But when it involves bettering yourself or doing what truly makes you happy there is nothing to lose. You have to realize what is important, set goals for yourself, achieve those goals, and never stop setting and achieving. So where did this wonderful conversation with my grandma lead me?

There is more than one correct answer to the question, it lit a fire under my ass. A fire that has always been there but never really had a very flammable fuel source. It made me think about what I truly want in life. Take a second and think back to what you wanted to be when you were a little kid. Is it something like being an astronaut, or a movie star, or maybe even the president. If its something that still puts a smile on your face, go do it. When you’re a kid, the only thing you care about are your dreams. You don’t have to worry about bills, or the mortgage, or having gas in your car, all you have to worry about is having fun, and being happy. Its something we adults tend to forget when we grow up. The simple pleasures in life, that put smiles on our faces. Whether it involves collecting stamps, or running marathons. Go do it. Ill end my blog with a beautiful quote from Hamilton Wright Mabie. The question for each man to settle is not what he would do if he had means, time, influence and educational advantages; the question is what he will do with the things he has. The moment a young man ceases to dream or to bemoan his lack of opportunities and resolutely looks his conditions in the face, and resolves to change them, he lays the corner-stone of a solid and honorable success.

Letter To My Younger Self

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Dear Pre High School Compton,

You’ll learn through life that your first name doesn’t mean a damn thing when your last name is Compton. That guy up there is telling to you to step out of your cage, to experience the good parts and bad parts of life. Take risks and do things you’ve never done. That group of friends you had that you thought you were going to have around forever? Yea they’re gone, and almost put you in jail. That girl in high school you thought you couldn’t live without, you can, but keep her around she’s a wonderful person and will always have a place in your heart. Being proud of the color of your skin is the stupidest thing you’ll ever let someone try to talk you into doing. Don’t let anyone talk you into anything, do what you want to and what you think is right. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being a Virgin, don’t ever think there is. Drugs are stupid and illegal, as far as alcohol, there’s a time and a place. Your mother is a beautiful person and just wants what’s best for you. The only person that can judge you is yourself. Don’t ever be with a girl because she’s the only thing presently around at that time, there are plenty of women out there. Get a degree, it may not seem like college is worth your time, but trust me it is. Go to more sprint car races, its the happiest you will ever be at any point in time. Learn how to budget your money, it won’t be important for a while but if you don’t do it now you’ll be forced to do it later. And all that money won’t make you happy. Read the last sentence again. You’re a sexy monster, ask Siri, you’ll meet her in a few years. Your father is the smartest technical person you will ever meet, when he tries to teach you something listen, don’t be stubborn he won’t be around forever. You’ll have your heart shattered more than once, but its a part of life, learn something from it and move on. No shirt, no flirt! Don’t worry about finding the right friends, they will present themselves when you least expect it. Don’t sell your first car, it was a grandpa mobile but it was awesome. Your blind, get used to it. Listen to your grandparents! Your grandma, although you won’t understand it right now, is one of those people who’s soul is true, she will make it her obligation to point you in the right direction, if you ask her. She’s going to tell you how it is, and you may not be accustomed to it now, but learn to be, it’s the best way to be. If you get offered a cigarette say no. Follow your bliss. Don’t ever forget that quote. Get a job, and be proud, having a job somewhere is better than not having one. If a girl likes you for anything other than who you are as a person, tell her to keep walking. When you’re in a relationship and you want to leave, leave but don’t expect to not break someones heart. If you’re with a girl, and she thinks there is something better out there, don’t beg her to stay, bid her farewell and wish her good luck. If she comes back, you’ll need to figure out what to do. When you’re in high school you’ll meet a guy with a fast white car, don’t ever forget him. Keep making people laugh, you’re good at it. Don’t be lazy, hard work is good for the body and the mind. You’ll want a tattoo, pretty badly. You’ll have two choices in your head, i beg of you to go with number 2. Don’t think you need to change there is nothing wrong with you. Be confident in yourself. Read books. Love people for who they are not what you think they can be. You’re a amazing person you just need to be fine tuned. And for god sakes when you get on a bicycle with a engine, wear a helmet; they may look dorky but staples suck.

Love Older Compton