She was walking up the beach, carrying a chair, towels, and a few other things when I asked, “Can I help you carry that stuff?” She politely declined and also said, “You’re so chivalrous.” Even shot down, it felt like a win… once I found out what chivalrous meant. She must’ve been in her mid-20s which was a perfect match for me… a 5th grader. Trust me though, it was chivalry that motivated me, definitely not her beautiful tan-ness, cute face, or proving to my brother that I would talk to that cute girl on the beach.
Maybe it’s not something other people can see, and I suppose I’m grateful for that. Like I have a chance to see this about myself in the privacy of my own mind, my own heart. Like those markers that write invisible messages till you color over them and nobody but me has the colored markers. Or the Magic Eye images that reveal an image of a dolphin jumping if you look at it the right way.
If people knew me as well as I know myself, they’d come to this same conclusion: When it comes to being a great Wilder, an honorable Wilder man, I’ve got miles to go. In the months that have passed since my granddad Pop died, I have a certain sadness when I think of the great man he was, the great man his son (my dad) is, the great man his grandson (my brother) is, and how I’m just not there yet. It’s a deep emotion. I think back over my life and can’t remember a time I’ve felt something so deeply, something that I know without any doubt will be a landmark time in my life. Here’s Pop.
The video moves me like none I’ve seen in a long, long time. Since I was the one who made it, I’ve had extensive time with the photos. With the song. With these images that tell of a love story that started decades before I was born and continued decades after. It’s because of that love story that I was even born at all. That’s the sort of story I want, too. That one day somebody will know they exist because, like Brad Paisley sings, “Two people fell in love.”
But I’m not there yet. It’s not because I’m picky or because I’m afraid of commitment. It’s because I don’t deserve a wife. Or love. Or fill in the blank. I still act like a child at times. I’m selfish. I’m superficial. I’m a man that doesn’t deserve what good men deserve. And this being one of the most honest posts I’ve had—ever—I’m not against sharing with whoever reads that I’ve gone behind a friend’s back to date a girl he liked. I’ve also been the friend. I’ve dated girls I knew I wouldn’t marry. I’ve spent the night with a girl just for the companionship. I’ve kissed a married woman. I’m not proud of any of this. In fact, I feel a lot of shame about it so when people speculate as to why I’m still single at 36 years old, I don’t dare bring any of this up. Though inside I know it’s a consequence, on a spiritual level, of my actions. It has to be that way. And I’m not upset about it. It’s fair. God is being fair and I love that about Him. But sometimes when I pray, I ask Him to be unfair. That’s what love is. Unfair favor. I suppose one day maybe I’ll get to love someone that way, but I’m not there yet. Still working on being a man that lives up to his last name.
(part 2 of this post is here)
-out of the Wilderness