Thursday, January 19, 2017

Open Letter to Hollywood

Dear Hollywood,

I love you!  I love you as the people you are.  I love your art.  I may not agree with every movie you put out, but I love the fact it is an art, and you are free to express that art any way you see fit.  That is a gift, you use it to the best of your ability, and I love you for that as well.  Despite my love for you and the arts, I've never looked to you for my moral compass, my voice of reason, or my understanding of reality.

Sure, some of your movies are based on a true story.  Based on, not really is.  That means you have used your artistic liberty to add, subtract, shorten, modify as you see fit to make the film.  These are some of the most touching films one can see.  Yes, they reach my heart strings.  No, I don't believe the events are complete reality, but I do believe the events are close to reality.

Even your purely fictional movies have a bit of reality in them.  Maybe based on something you have experienced yourself or something a friend or family member has gone through.  Maybe you saw something on the drive in to the studio that caught your eye and made you laugh.  You thought, "Now that would make a great movie!"  And you should incorporate your life, your thoughts and what you see into your art.  It is who you are.  It's formed you to be the person you are both on and off screen.  Okay, maybe not on screen, but at least behind the scenes while filming.

However, that is your reality, not mine.  Yes, you have a job that not many can do.  You act like a person you are not.  You memorize lines folks like me could never begin to memorize.  You put your life, and the life of your family, out in public eye for everyone to see.  That is not something I would be willing to do on such a constant basis.  Yes, you live a tough life, one that I'm not envious of.  But, you also live a privileged life.  Your job allows you to travel the world if you so choose.  You are able to have house keepers, trainers, chefs and more if you desire.  Some of you have nannies that take care of your kids 24/7 regardless of you being home or at work.  A lot of you are involved in charities you believe are worthy of your time and financial support.  Great!  All if it.  Great.  You have the means, and I support that.  Good on you.  You've worked hard to afford all of what you have.  Me, I can't say I would want that responsibility.

Don't get me wrong, I'd love to have a trainer that comes to my house, a chef, or a house keeper.  I'd love to travel the world.  But, I don't.  And I'm not sold on me not changing my habits if I were able to hire the people you hire.  I'm not sure I would like me if I had those people coming in and out of my house all the time.  My kids might be even more spoiled than they are now if I had a nanny for them and me providing everything for them.  Sure, the finances would be great!  I could support so many things I love, just as you support your chosen charity(ies).  But, I don't have the job you do that provides millions every time I finish the last day of work.

See, the Ben Affleck, Meryl Streep, DL Hughley and Whoopi Goldberg's are not my reality.  They are well respected actors/actresses, but they do not live in my world.  Just as I don't travel the world acting, they do not reside in Cheyenne, WY.  Sure, some of the Hollywood elites have worked in middle America at jobs that pay minimal income.  Some of them may have been raised on the streets of the inner city or suburban America.  But, because of what they do now, they have lost touch with me, my family, my friends and my peers.  Because they have, they presume many of us have as well, even if they work with charities supporting those that don't have.  How can I relate to someone who wears thousand dollar suits to events where tickets to attend cost hundreds of dollars?  How do I relate to someone who believes the only part of life is the arts?  I'm sure I may have something in common with Hollywood elites, but it won't be much.

Here's my plea.  My desire is simple.  Dear Hollywood Elite:  Come, join my family for a month.  I don't have much, but I have enough.  I don't expect anything from you.  Just come.  Eat with us.  Go to work with us.  Go to school with my kids.  Join me as I watch my daughter cheer at her High School Basketball games.  Or, come on out in the summer (it might be warmer, but no promises) and watch my son's baseball team.  Join me in the press box keeping score for his team.  Sit in the bleachers with his mom and grandparents.  Seriously!  Just come and visit for a month.  You'll get tired trying to keep up with all we do!  My wife volunteers at the County Fire District both in running calls and teaching classes, on top of her full time job.  Oh, she is also a part time student.  I own my own business on top of my full time job, volunteering for the Legion Baseball Team and a local concert promotion company.  You could even join us at our church on Sunday or either of my kids youth groups on Sunday and Wednesday.

See, dear Hollywood Elite person, the very one you think you speak for is more like my family and I than you and your peers.  Most of us work full time jobs, volunteer at our kids schools/sports teams/churches/etc, and somewhere in the full schedule we actually have a social life.  We spend our money to see the end result of your job.  Please, give us a the courtesy of treating us as equals to you instead of ignorantly thinking you know what we want and believe.  And if you could, Hollywood, please share this letter with your peers in the top 40 music industry as well.  Sadly, they've been fed the same line of thinking you have been.  Remember, it is us, the fans of your work, that have made you your millions, given you the recognition and a platform you can use.  It is up to you to use that platform, that money and recognition wisely.  Speaking for me is not using it wisely.

There you have it, Hollywood.  My open letter and invitation to you.  Which of you is up to the challenge of living in Cheyenne, Wyoming for a month.  Who is willing to run to and fro with my family?  The door is always open, the invitation has no expiration.  I will ask nothing of you except a friendship, a chance to shoot the breeze, maybe seek some knowledge, and a chance for you to see some of the most beautiful county in America.  If you do take me up on the offer, I'm easy to find, just drop me a line and we'll plan your visit.  Hope to see you soon!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The End Is A New Beginning

The end of every year brings most of us hope, joy, family and a whole lot more.  Many a child dreams of snow days and Santa bringing the perfect gift.  The older children dream of relaxing a little, sharing special moments with friends and family and most importantly, making someone else's day just a little brighter.  For most of us, the holidays do indeed provide all of the above and more.  More food, more laughs, more stuff and more moments to be cherished.  What a beautiful time of year.

This year, I found myself enjoying all of the aforementioned pleasures of the holiday season.  Yet, I also felt much more than joy and elation.  It was the realization that this year had a lot of endings, a lot of beginnings and a lot of continuations.  I reflected on more than I normally do...or have for quite a while.  And in all these reflections, I heard the words, "The End is the Beginning," as sung by Cloverton.  The main part of what I keep hearing is the simple reminder that, "Where death makes way for living, It's on you I'm depending, and it all begins in the end."

As the year closes, I've reflected on what was, and what is ahead.  The tears that accompanied the was are many.  Every where I've turned I see what was, both physically and mentally.  As the great Ron Burgundy once bellowed, "I'm in a glass case of emotion."  Yes, that is currently me as the was plays in my head.  Yet, as the what is ahead flashes, I'm encouraged.  I'm excited to see what God is doing, and yet I'm nervous about what indeed lies ahead.  Most importantly, I know I'm not alone in this glass case.

The was of 2016 saw friends having babies.  My wife has started school to pursue nursing.  My daughter is in the infancy of becoming a photographer thanks to school and her yearbook class.  My son is pursuing life in the music industry.  I saw friends buy houses and cars.  Heck, my wife has a new car too!  Yet, all this joy has also been surrounded by friends entangled in addictions.  Friends have separated from their spouse (some restored their marriage) and divorced.  Friends and family have dealt with various illnesses.  Most recently, friends that are family have been stung by death.  I can safely say 2016 has been a roller coaster.

Now, as 2017 greets me, I know there are things and events that will be life altering.  Moments that I already cherish knowing how unforgettable they will be.  I'll get to see my son graduate high school and participate in his final home game in baseball.  I'll be watching my daughter cheer at her first Wyoming State High School Cheer Competition.  My wife and I will be celebrating 20 years of marriage!  I'll be vacationing with friends and family during the baseball season, and as we visit a dear friend we have to see to help all of us heal.

Good bye 2016. It is your end that is the beginning of healing.  The beginning of renewed life.  New adventures lie ahead and 2017 is ready, willing and able to host these events.  Yes, there will be bumps, bruises, and certainly some losses, but through it all I know that indeed, "It all begins in the end."  Me, it is my pride, my ego, my hurt, my everything that will end, and it is that end which will begin my joy, contentment and peace in Christ.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

PB&J and Across the Miles

There are several things that just go together.  Peanut butter and jelly, biscuits and gravy, bacon and eggs, yin and yang all are examples.  Of course, there are more, but you get the point.  Today, I sit and look to see a few things and inspiration struck me again.

As I shared how I have felt over the last couple of days, I continue to be in awe of how God is moving.  Sadly, I'm still drained.  Emotionally, I have little left.  My daughter had to sit in class today and discuss this, all while probably crying through the whole class period.  My wife is ready to take her week off and head to Tennessee, simply because she feels helpless.  My son is in disbelief and can't imagine what Michael and Nick are going through.  Yet, emotion aside, I still have hope.

After a brief conversation with my dad, I became curious on how much of an impact Michael's story is making.  Yes, I assured him people know and are praying.  But until I saw it on paper (or blog) I couldn't believe myself.  God simply reminded me that he isn't about to break his promise of being with us as he stated in Matthew 18:20.  "Where 2 or 3 gather..."  I don't see anything about distance between, so maybe I'm taking this with a very broad stroke, but I say we have 2 or 3 (or more) gathered as we wait to hear more from Tennessee.  We wait to hear of a reunion.  But while we wait, lets rejoice in how well we go together, just like a good PB&J (or, despite how far apart we live).  Below is a list of cities that is rallying around the Reed family in prayer, and this is just what I know.

Gatlinbur, TN; Sevierville, TN; Pigeon Forge, TN; Knoxville, TN; Cosby, TN; Kodak, TN; Dickson, TN; Branson, MO; Cincinnati, OH; Phoenix, AZ, Yuma, AZ; Cheyenne, WY; North Myrtle Beach, SC; Stanwood, WA; Marysville, WA; Wonewoc, WI; Denver, CO; Eula, TX; Chancellorsville, VA; Fort Collins, CO; Arlington, WA; Harrington, KS; Glenrock, WY; Burns, WY; Kidjip, Western Highlands, Papua New Guinea; Yukon, OK; Abilene, TX; Jasper, AL; Seattle, WA; Oakman, AL; Boldo, AL; Fultondale, AL; Sumiton, AL; Hoover, AL; Thermopolis, WY; Rathdrum, ID; Chehalis, WA; Longmont, CO; Cody, WY; Salina, KS; Nashville, TN; Rapid City, SD; Wilmington, NC; El Dorado, KS; Wichita Falls, TX; Santa Fe Springs, CA; Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada; Taos, NM; St. Louis, MO; Oak Grove, MO; Spring Hill, TN; and this is just that I know.  Now, add in  all 466 K-LOVE radio station cities across the US, the millions of households that watched NBC Nightly News, and CNN, read the NY Times, or stream these outlets, this world becomes very small.  A world that has become family because of word of mouth, and one viral video.

So, we are gathered.  I feel God in our presence.  I feel God lifting our spirits, giving us hope, comforting our souls, and providing our weary bodies rest.

I can't say it enough, but I will one more time.  Thank you!  Your love and support has provided my family and the Reed family more than these two simple words could explain.  We love you.  Until later.

Lost and Hope

This might be the hardest blog I've ever had to write.  I'm torn, my stomach in knots, and my heart in pieces.  My eyes have cried tears off and on for well over 24 hours.  I'm actually visualizing my heart looking a lot like Humpty Dumpty right now.  Yeah, I see it fresh fallen off the wall, in thousands of pieces.  But, I'm also seeing it having been put back together, not by horses or men, but by the King, and by the hope he provides.

Back in 2011 I met a man that found me on Facebook.  He was a nice guy, managed a band, worked hard, loved his family, loved music, loved talking and most importantly, loved God.  Michael Reed and I quickly formed a bond that has endured some really rocky moments for each of us personally and professionally.  We encouraged each other through those rough times.  From my cancer battle to some hardships at work, or his loss of job to his wifes addictions and illnesses, we were there for each other, and still are.  My family has vacationed in Tennessee with his family.  All of us have laughed together in person and over the phone.  We've also cried together, and prayed together.  Yes, they are no longer friends, they are family.

Then, yesterday happened.  I heard fear in his voice.  I sobbed with him, uncontrollably.  I had no words of comfort.  I have no understanding.  I want to, but I can't.  All I had was an ear, and an ability to pray.  So, I gave him an ear for just a few minutes, and prayed with him for a couple more.  And then just like that, he had to go.

His life was being ripped out from underneath his feet like a young aspiring kid magician tying to pull out the table cloth from under the dishes on the dining room table.  I could hear the crashing of everything around Michael.  His heart was crying out, and me, I was right there with him despite the miles apart.  His wife and daughters missing.  His house, burning.  The woods surrounding the house, engulfed in the worst forest fire in 100+ years in Eastern Tennessee.  It was all crashing.  I was going numb, he certainly had to be numb.

Fast forward to this morning, still weary from minimal sleep, I immediately checked for any update from Michael.  Nothing.  My heart still in pieces.  But, there was a new report featuring Michael and his story.  Knoxville news was interviewing him.  He shared pictures, begged for help, and again, shared his grief at the loss of his family.  They were still missing, 12 hours after he last talked to his wife.  All day long, I continued to check with limited information.  I wasn't alone in checking.  My phone was giving me notifications all day long with people seeking any information.  My family grew exponentially today, all anticipating a miracle.

Now, 24+ hours later, and the Reed family is still separated.  Michael has heard nothing from his wife, and has no idea where they may be.  His son is being a rock (Michael's words).  The story has become viral (2 Knoxville news stations,NBC Nightly News, CNN and others I don't know of) and thousands of people are now aware this family is separated.

Here in Cheyenne, my family is devastated.  My daughter is a mess, and cried throughout the day.  My wife has done the same.  Every post on Facebook receives immediate responses.  Our friends have adopted the Reed family as their own.  Our parents have done the same.  There is continual prayer.  In this midst of resigned helplessness, the words of encouragement and hope abound.  Words, they are making this easier, if that even makes sense.  Easier, because I see hope.  I see faith.  I see family.

Hope, it's how my Humpty shattered heart has been put back together.  Job 6:11 shows Job asking what strength he has to hope.  The book of Psalm is ripe with messages of hope.  But, it is in Ecclesiastes 9:4 that shows us, "Anyone living has hope..."  God is giving Michael hope, because he is alive.  There is a hope that his family will be reunited.  For me, hope is all I have, and yes, all I need.

Thank you, for your love, and your support.  On behalf of Michael, he thanks you as well.  God's family is amazing.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Painted Skies

Wyoming, land of wide open spaces.  Skies that are filled with stars  you can see for miles.  Hills and mountains that are inhabited by humans and creatures alike.  A land that you can be in the mountains and almost an hour later be in the high plains of this great country.  Some days you see the same thing over and over, but other days you see something new.  One thing I never get tired of though; the painted skies of the Eastern sunrise and the Western sunset.

Every night when I leave my office, I take in a breath of fresh air and look at the skies.  Every night is different.  Some nights I can barely see due to darkness.  Other nights are clear allowing me to see for miles.  Sure, those miles can be obscured by buildings, but in breaks of rooftops I can see forever.  Some of my favorite nights are the ones that lightning is dancing across the horizon, illuminating a silhouette of clouds.  I love these nights!  I might be the oddball person loving the electrical storm despite the damage it can cause, but I find them refreshing.

Tonight, I was greeted by a panoramic view of skies painted red in the northwest, grey dreary clouds to the north, storm clouds with streaks of rain to the southeast, a rainbow to the southwest and the eastern sky charged with more electricity than a baby with fine blonde hair freshly rubbed with a balloon.  It was a scene I stood and took in for an extra moment as I began to feel rain drops.

As I drove home, the east was filled with lightning.  I could sense the energy it provided with each strike.  And with each strike, I was overcome with inadequacy.  I knew I had to share the beauty I was seeing.  I had to share the awe inspiring scene God was painting by the second.  And yet, I also knew I couldn't put words to the scene in front of my eyes.  I then wondered if John felt inadequate to share all he saw while on Patmos.  How could he find the words to describe the Throne in Heaven with the one sitting in the throne, surrounded by more thrones and elders in those thrones which God was showing him?  Or how he should describe the large red dragon.  What were his thoughts as he saw everything being shown to him?  Certainly he wasn't just overwhelmed with all he saw and the weight of knowing he was charged with writing these things.  I'm pretty sure he felt inadequate.

Tonight, I felt a little like John.  Hopefully, my little description of the panorama I took in showed you a glimpse of why I love Wyoming.  I get to see the master artist paint a new picture every single night.  Words trying to do play by play of the scene he is painting will fail.  For that, I'm sorry, but for attempting to provide a small picture, I am honored.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Love Harder

Over and over I state how close music is to my heart.  It isn't just a casual thing I listen to at random times.  It is more than just something to put me to sleep or wake me up.  No, it is more.  Music is my life.  It can be a drug, a calming sound, a job, a remedy or at times a cure.  No matter the time or situation, music will fit into one of these categories.  It is how my brain functions and how I relate to the reality around me - both physical and spiritual.

Over the last couple of weeks the scene unfolding across America is heart breaking.  Words have often failed to provide any sort of explanation.  My understanding is limited, at best.  My brain wants my eyes and ears to be deceiving me, yet daily there is a continual stream of tragedy at every glace at my phone, a TV or a computer.  I find myself wondering why, how, for what and if I'm living a nightmare.  Sadly this isn't a nightmare, it isn't a dream, and there is no need to be pinched.  It is all real.  So very real.

I have seen and heard responses from the masses.  The responses are mixed and yet they all have said the same thing.  Yes, it is heart breaking.  Yes, it is senseless.  Sure, change needs to be made.  Some blame one thing while others blame another thing.  Through all of these responses the one thing I keep hearing isn't what is being said.  Rather, it is the silence from words missing in the speeches.  It is the words not said by our leaders (choose your leader as they are many), our friends, our media, our families or even ourselves.  What is missing are simple words.  Words that are taken for granted, but spoke with intent.  Yet, they may be the hardest words one could ever speak.  What I find missing in our rush to blame, to cry for change and in sensationalizing each tragedy are the words of love.

I hear you yelling at me now, "Come on, Aaron.  It's not that easy.  Plus, you're not listening to the right people."  I'll agree with you in saying it isn't that easy.  Then I'll ask who the right people are to listen to.  But for now, let's stick with missing words of love.

Love is never an easy thing to do.  It is a choice, directed towards something or someone.  Don't believe me?  Ask any married person and they'll tell you love is a choice.  It isn't easy to love people when they've angered you.  It isn't easy to love someone when they steal from you.  Try loving someone when they lie to you.  Or, try loving them when they don't like you because you don't agree with their thoughts on a subject both of you are passionate about.  No, it's not easy.  But, the words of love are still missing.

Listen to Fox News, CNN, CBS, DailyKos, Alternet, Breibart or any other media and you'll see finger pointing.  You'll hear debate after debate from your coworkers/friends/family about how wrong one side is, all the while another side will do the same when you talk to them.  But do you hear resolve?  Is anyone actually talking action as opposed to reaction?  How much love do you hear from anyone?  Better yet, do you read any Twitter or Facebook posts offering legitimate change?

Of all the words, Dallas Police Chief David Brown spoke, he can't stress enough about love.  I applaud him for those words.  Above the promise to love, he offered a solution to join the police force and he would help you resolve your grievances.  These are words of love, of action, of compassion and of someone who is seeking resolve.  So yes, I've heard them, but not many.

In words of love, there is another part that is missing.  That is the action of listening, understanding, of gaining a greater appreciation for the "other side," no matter what that is.  One never has to agree, but a better understanding will make love a lot easier.  Hearing provides an opportunity to begin the process of change.  Hearing allows others to know you care.  Hearing allows you an opportunity to learn about the other.  Hearing, in short, is an opportunity to show it is more than your words, thoughts and actions you care about.  It is the other person you love enough to hear them out.

Now tell me, how many of you hear more than one side from your source of news?  How many times do your favorite media sources have more than one voice explaining what is going on?  Live feeds from local stations not withstanding, it is pretty safe to say that the voices provided are typically one sided representations of the views of said media source.  I believe there has to be more.

Okay, there is more.  There are people sharing love.  There are people trying to change the scene of all that is going on.  People like YouTube and Facebook sensations from the Free Hugs Project.  The people of Atlanta and Dallas that are forming lines to hug police officers outside courthouses and near rallies.  Heck, even the people of Cheyenne have talked about a rally in support of law enforcement.  So yes, there is good going on.  Sadly, the mass media isn't sharing these acts of love as often as they should.

As I wrote this, I couldn't help but think of a few things that spoke of love.  Let's start with Christ and his words in the book of Matthew.  In discussing the greatest commandment in the law of Moses, he only gave two.  The first was to love God.  The second, to love your neighbor as yourself.  Then in Galatians 5:13-15, Paul affirmed the words of Christ to love your neighbor, but also warned of destroying one another.  But, the words of love aren't just found in Christ's words, or the words of his disciples.  Solomon had many words of wisdom regarding love, however, it is Proverbs 10:12 that I find the most poignant:  "Hatred stirs up quarrels, but love makes up for all offenses."

Then, as I listen to my musical medicine, I can't deny that there are several songs about love and how to change our world through love.  But, let me highlight just two of them.  The 1st is from Five For Fighting entitled "What If" and asks us to put ourselves in the other persons shoes.  The second is from one of the most influential bands and the 1991 album.  Yes, Bono and the Boys that make up U2 knew back then that love is a powerful thing.  "One love, one life, when it's one need in the night."

Please, start speaking love, start showing love, and most importantly, be the love.  Christians and nonbelievers alike, stop speaking the hate thinking your doing something positive.  You're not!  You're only stirring the pot causing a greater divide between you and others.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

March Madness

Spring is here!  Well, almost here...for most of the country.  Here in Wyoming that means we have at least 2 more snow storms to survive by the time summer rolls July.  But the other thing Spring brings for the sports lover is a little bit of everything.  A little baseball, a little playoff push in hockey and NBA basket ball, a little NFL free agency, mix in some NCAA spring practices, then add in a lot of NCAA basketball.  Take your pick, it is the buffet of sports.  Something for everyone.  A plate of your favorite dish followed by a small dish of your favorite dessert.  It's like walking in to Golden Corral where you can get the hot buffet or the salad buffet.  No matter the decision you have to get the dessert buffet to accompany anything you get.  Pot Roast, beef brisket, potato soup, some green beans and the always healthy garden salad fill you up quickly.  But that can always be topped with a bowl of ice cream with hot fudge, nuts,sprinkles and a cherry on top of a chocolate chip cookie.  That is what a sports fan faces the entire month of March.

Spring Training may have started in February, but the games started this month.  Any pure baseball lover will try to convince you that watching these games are just as good as anything, especially when they haven't watched any baseball since October.  Yeah, these people are kinda nuts, maybe a little strange, but it is their sport and for them, something is better than nothing.

For the NFL fan, they have the combine - an annual collection of draft hopefuls attempting to show off their skills to scouts to improve their chance of getting drafted.  Then they have free agency, a hope that their team improves its chances of winning the Super Bowl, or a hope to not have to endure more players leaving their team and increasing the likelihood of another year of sucking.  March also provides a month or so of preparing for their draft parties.  Fans can only dream of their team picking that one guy who will put the franchise on their shoulders and lead the team to the promise of winning the Lombardi Trophy.  Yes, these types of fans redefine the word fanatic.

Next you have the NBA and NHL seasons in full swing. Their All-Star games long past, trade deadlines with all the trades made are over, and now fans and teams look towards the playoffs.  With teams firmly locked into the playoffs, a lot of the focus goes to those teams fighting to get into the post season fun. Teams residing at the bottom of each league can only hope of a better year next year. But, until the playoffs start, most casual fans wait until April to pay attention to much of what's going on. Yes, there are exceptions, but reality for me says nothing is important until the playoffs.
But, March brings out a certain Madness in nearly every fan. Even the most casual fan takes an interest in college basketball. From friendly wagers to office pools with large sums of money up for grabs, nearly everyone is focused on College Basketball.  So much attention is paid to this time of year, even urologists have noticed an increase in vasectomy procedures done the Monday - Wednesday of the first weekend of the tournament (guys, you get it, gals, just use your imagination).  I even know moms that tell their kids to leave them alone until April.  This is indeed the apex of College Basketball.

The highs, the lows and all the in between of watching March Madness.  Fans and casual observers pick 63 games before the first teams hit the hardwood.  There is hope in selecting the winners of these games and being perfect in those selections.  Then, once the first game starts, and that first upset happens, everyone (or nearly everyone) sees the error of their ways in selecting "that team they didn't trust to begin with."  It was these emotions that not only did I experience this year (and every year) that it hit me.  

How can I expect...or even hope to pick 63 games perfectly?!?!?  C'mon man!  Think about it!  What are the odds that someone picks every game correctly.  In all my years, I've only known of 1 person being perfect in their picks.  Aside from that one example, when has anyone ever been perfect in anything?  Again, I've only known one person that can claim perfection.  His name is Christ.  And until I can claim being Christ, I will never pick a perfect bracket for the Big Dance.  Will someone else pick the bracket perfectly during my lifetime?  Maybe, but I don't expect so.  Another reality with the imperfection of picking the perfect bracket - I'll never win an office pool, an ESPN or Yahoo challenge nor the million dollars that come along with any of these wins.

I'm okay with not winning, I'm okay with not being perfect, and I'm thankful I don't have to live up to the expectations of that perfection.  I'm thankful I know the only one person who has been perfect.  

Oh, and yes, my bracket this year was toast after the first round of play in the tournament.