Archive for 'Etc'
Posted on 09. Nov, 2011 by Brett.
Letter #10 – Enduring friends
From: Brett Trapp – Nov 9, 2011
To: Brett Trapp – Nov 9, 2001
I told you yesterday about the value in traveling with friends. Let’s talk about friends for a minute.
At the age of 29 (only ten days til 30), I’ve been able to see a bit farther here. And what I see is that lots of high school and college friends fall away–life happens and paths diverge. But that’s not so bad. It’s impossible to be close friends with everyone, so we have acquaintances as well. But it’s overly simplistic to classify people as either acquaintances or close friends.
There’s a middle category. I call them enduring friends.
These are the friends who you were close with during a previous season of life but not so much now due to busyness or geography. These are friends who bring out the old stories in you and make you smile. These are the friends that don’t get mad that you don’t call all the time. These are friends that make you say, “We pick right up where we left off.” Despite distance, these friendships endure.
Why am I telling you all this? Brett, I think I’ve figured out the way to create enduring friendships. Real conversations and vulnerability. So many college friendships are built on shallow things–fraternity, parties, girls, sports, fun. All great things, but friendships can’t take root in that soil alone. That’s shallow soil. They need the richness of real conversations about things that matter–God, family, beliefs, life at 60. And they need talk of the hidden things–insecurities, pain, weaknesses, fears. We’ve been taught brainwashed by a culture obsessed with strength. But there is beauty in weakness. There is relief in weakness. It gets exhausting to always be strong, and it becomes a race of one-up-manship. My friend Traylor talks a lot about how people should “connect at weakness.” This week, I heard another guy say, “We’re all clay pots. And our cracks are our beauty.” They’re right.
Speak of the things that the fear-digger inside of you wants to bury. There is healing there, and it pours the foundation for friendships that endure. When that foundation sets, it’s there for good.
P.S. – Coffee, onions, and NPR: Believe it or not, you’ll like all these one day.
Posted on 06. Nov, 2011 by Brett.
Letter #13 – Life of privilege
From: Brett Trapp – Nov 6, 2011
To: Brett Trapp – Nov 6, 2001
We lost. It was ugly. I don’t wanna talk about it.
Important topic today. This hasn’t dawned on you yet, so let me speed up the process of self-discovery: You were born into a life of incredible privilege.
You had two well-educated parents with good jobs who provided everything you could need. Mom cooked dinner most nights, and dad was always in the stands. Christmases were good. Your parents always upgraded video game systems and juice boxes were always within walking distance. Mom and dad disciplined you well and embedded a pretty solid moral compass inside your brain heart. You’ve lived in houses that would be considered castles to previous generations. You’ve been on dozens of vacations. You went to a private school for 8 of your 13 years of schooling. You got a car when you turned 16.
I know, I know. You weren’t really that wealthy by American standards, and yes, you’ve endured your fair share of pain. Yes, the houses you grew up in were very modest, and yes, the car was your dad’s 1991 Mitsubishi Galant. But you’ve got to put all that in context, Brett. Context.
I wrote earlier about having to earn stuff. But you didn’t earn any of this, Brett. It was all given to you. You were born into a life of incredible privilege. If you don’t get this, you’re never going to view the world right. See, that privilege built a framework and a foundation for your life. Not everyone got that, Brett. The more you expect the world to see life through your privileged eyes, the more frustrated you’re going to be.
Can I be honest for a sec? Can I give you one example?
You’re prejudiced against some who don’t share this privilege–the homeless, immigrants, and the uneducated–to name a few.
“Get a freakin’ job!”
“Get out of our country!”
“What an idiot!”
These may get a rise out of your buddies, but that doesn’t make it right.
You’re drowning in privilege, Brett. What should you do now?
Think about it.
P.S. Sitcoms are out and reality TV is in. And this girl named “Snooki.”
Posted on 05. Nov, 2011 by Brett.
Letter #14 – Friend of truth
From: Brett Trapp – Nov 5, 2011
To: Brett Trapp – Nov 5, 2001
In about 30 minutes I’m getting in a car and driving to Tuscaloosa, Alabama. There’s a really big football game there today. Bama’s playing LSU, and it’s a #1 v #2 matchup. I’ll let you know how it turns out.
Over the next few years, your love for Bama football is going to grow. When you graduate from college, you’re going to get very sentimental, and Bama football will remind you of dad. It will remind you of going to the games with him. It will remind you of Saturday’s as a kid, watching him jump around the living room and talking about how much he likes Jay Barker.
With your newfound love for Bama will come lots of time on Alabama football message boards. Not the ones that are open to anyone. I’m talking about the serious ones–the ones you have to pay for. The ones where grown men pontificate for hours over every tiny nuance of the program.
Now I could lecture you on how that’s a pretty big waste of time, but I’ll save that for my 40 year old self, ten years from now.
You’re going to learn a lot about human nature reading those forums. But there’s ONE secret about people that’s going to change everything. Here it is…
Human beings are severely biased and often incapable of seeing things objectively.
When a Bama player gets arrested it’s, “He’s a good kid. Just had a bad night. Hooray second chances!“. When an Auburn player gets arrested, it’s “Look at those Barners! I knew it! Team full of thugs!”
When a Bama player gets a personal foul it’s “part of the game.” When an Auburn player gets one, he “has no class.”
Tuscaloosa is one of “America’s great college towns.” But “Auburn is a dump.”
When a recruit picks Auburn over Bama, “We didn’t want him in the first place. Good riddance!”
But it’s not just a Bama fan thing. When I go to an Auburn site or a University of Kentucky site or a University of Texas site, it’s the same thing. Same attitude, just different logos.
So what? Sports fans are crazy and biased. Big deal.
But it’s not just in sports, Brett. It’s in everything–politics, religion, cultures, all kinds of stereotypes. Most people just believe what they want to believe, see what they want to see. What their parents taught them plays a big role in shaping those beliefs. Few people are really searching for truth, but everyone’s on a hunt for clues to confirm what they already believe. Like football message boards, they look for a place where they can find people who share their beliefs. And when those people get together and high-five and back-slap each other, they validate one another’s beliefs. Emotion takes the throne, and truth gets sent to the gallows. When you see oppression, prejudice, stupidity, and hate, this is usually where it began.
But Brett, I’m not really talking about other people here. I’m talking about you. Humans have this bent towards bias, and you’re a human. Truth’s a fight, Brett. You’ve must learn to suspend your bias, to see things as they truly are. Be a friend of truth…first.
Remember this, Brett.
P.S. Your friends rolling those trees in Auburn: Tell them to enjoy it.
Posted on 28. Oct, 2011 by Brett.
Letter #22 – Your 20s
From: Brett Trapp – Oct 28, 2011
To: Brett Trapp – Oct 28, 2001
Hey buddy. It’s me, your 29-year old self. I’m writing you from the future (don’t ask me how that’s possible). I turn 30 in a few weeks, and you turn 20 in a few weeks. Happy birthday.
We’ve learned a lot in the last ten years. This is my chance to help you out, to give you some pointers on life. I don’t know everything—far, far from it. But I know a few things, and I’ve tried to learn as much as possible. I’m going to write you 22 letters—one per day (unless work gets crazy). I know you’re busy with fraternity stuff but this is important, so listen up.
I hope you’re enjoying your sophomore year of college. Enjoy college. It’s awesome. Other than high school football, it might be the greatest season of life. It’s great, because it’s a social greenhouse. With one phone call or text message (fyi, “texting” will be big one day), your friends will drop what they’re doing and come hang out. Life won’t always be that way, because life gets busier and a touch more complicated.
You begin your 20s in a few weeks. This is big. Up until this point, life has been scripted for you. Parents and society have laid out a track for you to drive on. That’s all going to change in this decade of life. And your 20s are important. In fact it’s the most important decade of your life.
Think about it.
In your 20s, you build a platform, a foundation. Your 30s, 40s, 50s, and beyond, sit on the foundation you build in your 20s. Your career sits on that foundation. Your family sits on that foundation. Your health sits on that foundation. Your future sits on that foundation. Your life sits on that foundation.
“All your big decisions of life are made in your 20s.” That’s what Chris, your future boss, will tell you one day. He’s right.
We have another friend named Jim who you’ll meet in a few years. He calls the 20s the “gun barrel years.” He says that life is like a bullet, and the goal is to hit the right target. The goal is to do life right. Hitting the target doesn’t happen at the end of the bullet’s journey. It happens at the beginning. It happens when the gun barrel is pointed in precisely the right direction.
“If you get the gun barrel right, you’ll hit your target.”
This is the beginning, Brett. It starts right here. Get this part right, and you’ll hit the right target. It’s a big deal. Your life depends on it.
Talk to you tomorrow.
Posted on 22. Mar, 2010 by Brett.
TRAPPSTR.com has been updated! Several new features I think you’re going to love though most are pretty basic. Here they are:
- Home page layout – Instead of showing the full post, it now just shows “stubs” from recent posts
- Search feature (sidebar) – If there’s an old post you like, now you can find it
- Archives (sidebar) – grouped by month
- Recent comments (sidebar) – See the last 5 people who commented on a post
- Top commenters (sidebar) – We love comments here at TRAPPSTR! Now you can see a leaderboard of most frequent commenters. Great job Rachel :)
- New contact form – Click on the contact link at top and now you can message me directly from your browser so you don’t have to go to the hassle of drafting an email
- Star rating system – At the bottom of every post, you’ll see 10 stars. If you love a post, give it 10 stars. If it sucks, give it less. Pretty simple. But it’s important because otherwise, I have no idea how the post is received.
- As always – Retweet button, email the post button, and subscribe via email buttons have been moved a bit but still there
- COMING SOON – Working on a slider, fixed at the top of the homepage, that shows 10 featured posts. Designed for a first time reader as a way to highlight the most popular content without having to dig through archives.
SO….I need your help!
- What do you think of the new features? What else would you like to see?
- What are the most memorable/significant posts? I’m trying to narrow down that list of featured content and would love your thoughts!
As always, I’m honored that you’d spend a little time here. Please let me know how I can improve. Make it a great week!
Posted on 31. Dec, 2009 by Brett.
Here’s to wrestling matches on the floor
Here’s to football games in Tuscaloosa
Here’s to Braves games on the couch
Here’s to Wilson Dam little league
Here’s to cotton fields and arrowhead hunts
Here’s to Yoo-hoo, bottle only
Here’s to not wanting to be mentioned in your sermons
Here’s to that time you apologized for that thing you said
Here’s to integrity…
And your love
Here’s to elegance in death
Here’s to final hours
Here’s to tears of pain and tears of joy
9 years later
Here’s to you, dad.
Posted on 28. Dec, 2009 by Brett.
Took a big step in 2009 by running the Country Music Half Marathon which happened last April in Nashville, TN. Let me qualify this by saying that I am no super-athlete. I was an average basketball and football player in high school and a slightly less mediocre intramural athlete in college. After gaining 30 pounds post college and my japanese friend Hiro constantly pointing at my belly and saying “You have babies, Brett?”, I decided it was time to do something about it. So I signed up for a half marathon with a few other friends. Like most other people, I hated running, but I considered the benefits…
- Decrease the size of my “baby bump”
- Feel better
- More energy throughout the day
- Strengthened immune system (haven’t gotten sick this year)
- Strengthened heart (kind of a big deal)
- Get smarter by listening to podcasts during training
- Pray while running
- Fun race day atmosphere with 30,000 other runners and 1000’s of people cheering you on
- Huge sense of accomplishment
When I started running, I could not run a mile without walking. It was bad. I’m talking felt-like-a-Lego-Optimus-Prime-lodged-in-my-lungs bad. But I stuck it out, trained at my own (slow) pace, and finished the half marathon with a respectable time, just over 2 hours. Granted, I left the race in an ambulance, but that’s a story for a different day. :)
I’m challenging all the TRAPPSTR.com readers to do this half marathon with me on April 24, 2010. I don’t want your excuses! I know you hate running and I know you don’t have time. None of us has time. Your health matters (ask Urban Meyer) and you’ll be amazed at the motivation that will mystically appear when you’re training towards a fixed date on a calendar. There are tons of free online training resources, and of course I’ll offer my purely unprofessional advice along the way as well.
I registered today and would love for some of you guys to do this race with me. We can eat together the night before and hang out. And you know you don’t want to miss the first ever TRAPPSTR.com party ;). Shoot me an email if you’re interested and want more information (iamtrappstratgmaildotcom).
New Year’s resolutions are worthless. But accomplishing real, tangible goals with other people is the path to change.
Have you ever run a half or full marathon? What did you learn? Would you recommend it?
Posted on 21. Dec, 2009 by Brett.
My boss Chris has been counting down on Twitter his top moments from the last decade. I thought this was cool, so I’m sniping his idea. Keep in mind this isn’t a list of my best or most significant moments, just the ones that are still jumping around in my memory.
2000 – At 12:33 pm on December 31, 2000, my family gathered around my dad’s bed and he passed away after a 3 1/2 year struggle with Lou Gehrig’s disease. I remember there was snow on the ground outside. I remember holding his bony hand. I remember when the color left his face. I remember loud crying. I remember God’s love through it all.
2001 – As a sophomore in college, I met a guy named Olan Stubbs in 2001. Definitely a moment that shifted the tectonic plates of my theology. He committed to disciple me for the next three years. He invested in me. He challenged me. He taught me about the sovereignty of God. He questioned everything I thought about God. And it was good.
2002 – I spent the summer of ‘02 in Auckland, New Zealand. Our small mission team lived on the 2nd floor of a dingy downtown hotel on Queen Street. This was the New Zealand equivalent of living in Manhattan and was my first taste of urban living. One night, South Korea won a big game in the World Cup, and Auckland’s large Korean population poured into the streets celebrating, dancing, singing. They formed a makeshift parade and moved down Queen Street like a giant pulsating caterpillar. Our group morphed into the crowd and soaked up an unforgettable experience.
2003 – I was part of an incredible fraternity in college. Our fraternity wasn’t a “frat” like you see in movies. It was a remarkable group of leaders focused on being the best…at everything. At a national awards banquet in August of 2003, our group was selected as Alpha Tau Omega’s Top Chapter. The memory of that announcement at that banquet in downtown Indianapolis glows red in my mind to this day.
2004 – This was a weird year for me. It was my junior year of college and the video game, Halo, was coming on strong in college circles. Several of my fraternity brothers lived in an off campus house we dubbed “The BDA House,” and we played that game every stinkin’ night that spring. No moms around to tell us to stop, only the sunrise. We cussed. We yelled. We shot each other with pistols and sniper rifles and rocket launchers. We threatened bodily injury. This was the most carefree time of my life. I remember driving home as the sun was barely coming up as the grannies were filing into the YMCA for their early morning workouts.
2005 – In April, I did an in-the-field interview with a company called Booster. Got to dip my big toe into the waters of the “real world” that day. I worked at a school in Mount Laurel, Alabama, and loved it. That would become my real job for the next four years as I traveled around the south helping schools raise money and teaching kids about character. Still with the same company. Still love it.
2006 – I’ve written about this before, but 2006 was the year I got my first new car. You can read about it here. 3.5 years later and I’m still making that same car payment…dangit.
2007 – I moved from Birmingham to Nashville this year which was a lot tougher than I thought it was going to be. I was launching a new Booster team in a new market. And to be honest, I wasn’t very good at it. Being in a foreign city with few friends and feeling like a failure is a sucky place to be. But I learned more about myself that year than any other year this decade. And for that, I’m thankful.
2008 – I can’t really recall anything super-memorable from this year. Isn’t that sad? Countless chances to do something worth remembering, and I failed. 0 for 365.
2009 – In April of this year I ran my first half marathon. When I first started training in January, I could not run a mile without stopping. My lungs had the capacity of kazoo. But I trained consistently into the spring and finished the Country Music Half Marathon with a respectable time (I also tweeted 88 times during the race :)). The only problem was that I finished the race in a state of extreme dehydration and my body immediately went into shock. My breathing turned into uncontrollable wheezing, and my hands withered up like brittle tree branches. I began shouting for help in the crowd of thousands. I collapsed and within seconds a medical team was hovering over me. They carried me to a medical tent and told me they had called an ambulance.
“No! I’ll be fine!” I shouted.
The lead nurse pushed me back down onto the gurney and said something about “cardiac arrest.” Suddenly, the ambulance option became a lot more attractive. That’s the only time in my life where I thought I might die. But I guess it wasn’t my day.
I think it’s good to look back, ponder, reflect. That gives great perspective moving forward. At the end of this next decade, I’ll be–gulp–38.
That’s ancient. What memories will be made? What kind of change will I have sparked? What will my integrity look like?
Better start planning now…
What are the top moments of your last decade? What will the next decade look like for you?
Posted on 19. Dec, 2009 by Brett.
(No spoiler alert needed here. If you haven’t seen the movie, it’s okay. Read on.)
Ok, let me get my critiques out of the way first.
- The storyline is a little cliche. High tech brutes overrunning indigenous natives isn’t exactly a new concept.
- One scene of bad dialogue at the beginning as project leader explains Unobtanium.
- Liberal themes run thick like pudding–environmentalism, New Ageism, and demonizing of the military. The story is powerful enough to soften the most hardened conservative. I imagine this movie will have a strong polarizing effect on the super-left, and protester numbers may triple at next year’s G8 Summit (haha). Let me tell you: If you can’t get past these themes, you will not enjoy this film because they are unveiled and in-your-face.
Now, with that behind me, let me say this: Avatar is the one of the greatest, most epic movies of our generation. The film was much ballyhooed for it’s ground-breaking use of 3D technology. And if you can see it in 3D, do it (I had the privilege of seeing it in Imax 3D). It took my eyes a few minutes to adjust, and I actually felt a little nauseous during the first ten minutes of the movie (of course, the pungent smell of vodka vomit from the guy who upchucked in front of me might have had something to do with it). But during one of the opening scenes when character Jake Sully walks through a lush, luminescent forest, I realized that I was watching something truly special. One of those milestone moments in movie-making that I’ll tell my grandkids about. The only thing I had to compare it to was the first time I saw Jurassic Park and that famous scene of the grazing brachiosaurs. Hello, Computer-Generated Imagery (aka CGI).
This is the first movie that I felt I was inside of. Literally. Dirt flies in your face. Campfire ashes flutter about. Tropical canopies tower overhead. There were times when the action is so intense, the colors so vivid, and the 3 dimensional effects so jaw-dropping that I felt like I was a character inside of Cameron’s alien world. This film will push movie-making into a realm where the human imagination is increasingly irrelevant in entertainment experiences. Where our grandparents huddled around the AM radio listening to dramatic readings of big tales, we are now transported to full-dimensional worlds more real than our own. Several times I thought, “Man, Earth seems so boring now!”
By far the most spectacular element of the graphics are the CGI characters. In other block-buster CGI flicks like Lord of the Rings, there is a clear distinction between characters played by actual humans and characters created by computers (ie. Frodo vs. Gollum). Avatar makes it impossible to tell the difference. My jaw dropped in the opening scene in the Pandoran bush when Jake Sully’s avatar first interacts with the angry Neytiri. The authenticity of the facial expressions were unbelievable.
However, if Avatar was just a gussied-up tech flick with a video game plot (paging Resident Evil…paging Resident Evil), it would be an epic failure. Thankfully it’s not. It is a rich story with exquisite character development. Australian actor Sam Worthington does a flawless job portraying the role of a blue-collar, no frills Marine. The love story that is present in all epics is there, but it’s not overdone. Producer James Cameron does a great job of letting that relationship simmer and evolve at just the right pace. Epic themes run throughout and of course the messianic theme that we find in all great films emerges strong at the end.
Can you tell I liked this movie? Haha…inner sci-fi geek exposed.
Go see this movie. Let go of yourself. Immerse yourself in a story fantastic enough to vault the Avatar franchise into a category all of its own and sure to be mimicked for generations to come.
Posted on 01. Dec, 2009 by Brett.
The other day I tweeted, “Agree or Disagree? ‘Drops of Jupiter’ by Train is one of the top 10 songs of the last decade.“ I might as well have asked “Would you like the Taliban to babysit your child?” The responses weren’t exactly positive. All of ZERO people agreed with me. Haha…
But I’m a sucker for punishment, so here are my top 10 songs of the last decade. I’m not sure if any of these songs will be remembered 50 years from now. Heck, they may be forgotten 10 years from now.
My background is in literature, not music. So in this list, lyrical content will trump musicianship. But it’s my list, so I get to choose, right? :) My working definition of a good song here is a tune that contains “Well-crafted lyrics that elicit a rich emotional or meaningful response.”
Caveat: If you’re in the “All Christian music sucks” camp then you really aren’t going to like this list. I happen to believe religious beliefs don’t destroy the music-making abilities of one’s brain.
I’m considering songs from 2000 to present. Links to video included. Here we go. Pow!
10. Numb (Linkin Park/2003)
Linkin Park has to be one of the most innovative acts of the decade mixing elements of electronica, hip hop, and rock. I think “Numb” is the best. And the Jay-Z remix is amazing as well.
9. When Love Takes you In (Steven Curtis Chapman/2001)
Steven Curtis Chapman is authentic, enduring, and just all around awesome. He is also a huge fan of adoption, having adopted several kiddos of his own. That’s what this piano-driven ballad is about. Adoption and the Gospel are inseparable and this song hits a grand slam here.
8. Life Means so Much (Chris Rice/2004)
I think Chris Rice is one of the best Christian songwriters of my lifetime. His song “Deep Enough to Dream” would have been number 1 on this list had it not been released in 1997. But this song is nearly as good. It scores a 10.0 on the songs-that-make-you-stop-and-think-about-life richter scale.
7. Love Remembers (Craig Morgan/2009)
I didn’t start listening to country music until 2005 when I first moved away from home and got all sentimental. All of a sudden, country music made sense and the cynical anti-country veil was lifted. This is one of the best country songs of the decade. It’s a breakup song sans twang and booze…well, sans twang. I love songs that speak to universal,timeless human experiences.
6. 100 Years (Five for Fighting/2004)
I’m a huge sucker for songs that make you stop and ponder life. John Ondrasik is a masterful songwriter and this is further proof. He tackles the brevity of life issue without brow-beating. Kudos to you, John.
5. Drops of Jupiter (Train/2001)
I’m convinced the writer of this song ripped off the story of the prodigal son, changed the main character to a female, and gave the tale a space-y backdrop. I was genuinely shocked that none of my Twitter friends shared my love for this song! Then again, I love metaphors, and all the space references make this one big metaphor sandwich. “She listens like spring and she talks like June.” Good grief, that’s a fantastic lyric!
4. Crazy (Gnarls Barkley/2006)
This song has an unfair advantage with me because it was the hottest song on the radio in June, 2006, when I bought my Tahoe. As soon as I hear this song, I’m immediately taken back to those days of cruising around sweltering Alabama highways with the windows down singing, “Who do you…who do you, who do you, who do you think you ah-awr?“. As a side note, this song has one of the sickest videos I’ve ever seen.
3. Beautiful Day (U2/2000)
2. Daughters (John Mayer/2003)
Most modern songwriters just smash together words that make sense and then put them to music. However, great songwriters know that songwriting is craft. A master craftsman antagonizes over every word, ever phrasing, every pause. He uses those carefully chosen words to paint a picture in your mind. This song is a great example of that and is about a man desperately trying to understand his woman. Masterful lyric: “I’ve done all I can to stand on the steps with my heart in my hand.” Oh yeah, and it also talks about fatherhood which is awesome.
1. A New Law (Derek Webb/2005)
Seriously, has there been a more controversial Christian artist in the last decade? No way. And that’s why I love Derek Webb. His songwriting is bold and frank. This song speaks so clearly to the issues that have plagued the church in the last decade. Sadly, this song won’t make sense to most people (to understand it better…read the book of Galatians.) But it drips with the Gospel. And that’s why I love it.
HONORABLE MENTIONS: A Page is Turned (Bebo Norman), Yeah (Usher), Lose Yourself (Eminem), Space Between (DMB), The Riddle (Five for Fighting), Viva La Vida (Coldplay), Fix You (Coldplay), Scientist (Coldplay), Names that Fell (Zach Williams), Back to You (John Mayer), Kids (MGMT), Meant to Live (Switchfoot)