Jeff Carl.
October 14, 2009
  the options

the reality: I am NOT happy to be in school right now. I constantly feel out of place and like I do not belong there, with longings of something deeper and more fulfilling at my fingertips, waiting for me to take the leap of faith.

the options:


Whether I like it or not (at present, it's NOT), I could stay in school full-time. Maybe at Liberty University, but who knows? Maybe I SHOULD transfer to Belmont. Either way, I'm in an extraordinary financial situation and would be a fool to give it up. But the definition of "cost" is skewed here. Maybe school is payed for, but truly at what cost? Not just $xxxxx per year. With the decision to stay in school, I am accepting unhappiness, indecision, lack of a specific vision, frustration, and lack of motivation, but at LEAST I get that piece of paper that constitutes better financial security down the road. Awesome. Is that what life's about? Sure, if a wife and kids are involved in the future, I would need and want to be able to support them. But that is also through the goggles of American standards of a "good" life. I don't think I am in tune completely with the American standard of living. Don't get me wrong; I like my belongings, yet I feel like if I had to, I could sell them all tomorrow and still be just as happy. I am not saying I am against the concept of college. I would just rather do it when I knew I was going for a very specific purpose. Right now, that does not exist. I am interested in a genre of life, not an exact career with the matching degree. The only kicker then is, should I just swallow hard and just do school now, since I have the financial security and not be passionate about it at all? Or should I do what I think is right and not accept the "safe" way that everybody takes at the sacrifice of personal convictions?


I could take a semester off. From there, who knows whether it would turn into another semester off (aka a complete "dropping out" of school until further notice) or returning back to full-time (or part-time) in Fall 2010. With this option, I'd have some time to really recharge and work on some things I've been wanting to work on more intimately for years now: writing more lyrics, writing more music (of numerous varieties), recording my music, visiting family more, reading a LOT more, exploring spirituality more, traveling both nationally and internationally, going camping, going bike riding, meeting new people, performing shows, visiting friends more, etc. I understand these are all in the "fun" category of life, but I guess I lucked out then with my choice of passions. You can call me idealistic, foolish, ignorant, or whatever else. That's fine, but I think people who give up on their dreams and goals for sake of financial security and the "safe" and "comfortable" route are the foolish ones. So sue me if I want to take some chances. And again, I'm not saying I never want to return to college. I'm just saying I need a break to hone in specifically on what direction I want to go. For my interests, there are about 15 different degrees I could utilize. Maybe more. The cons of this scenario? Pretty heavy unfortunately. By completely taking my foot out of a college institution's door, I'd literally have to go through the entire application process again, risking acceptance back into a program. I'd also "cross the threshold" legally of student to adult according to my parents, which would mean I truly would be on my own in EVERY aspect of life: personal health insurance, personal car insurance, personal cell-phone plan, rent, food, utilities, gas, auto-upkeep, etc... It would be 100% independence, and yes that's exciting, but it is a daunting reality for a 19 year old. What's crazy is that I think I'd be up for taking that step if I decided to go this route, as I could afford nearly all those realities with the job I have right now (minus health insurance...guess I'd have to rough it and tough it out until further notice). So this option is pretty gloom and doom logistically on the surface, however, I know I would be completely happy and satisfied with my then-present state.


Another thought that hit me the other day was an interesting possibility. My parents said they'd be up for it, but I'm not sure if I am fully on-board with this proposition, even though I was the one who formulated it. Backing up, one of the many points my parents have brought up is that I have to take into account my surroundings. I'm currently living in a bubble of people that have either already graduated college, dropped out of college, or are finishing up college. Naturally, their lifestyle is attractive to me and no doubt influencing my way of thinking. I am not going to be so blind to deny this reality, but I don't know if I'd go so far to say it's THE deciding factor behind all of my current thoughts. I've had my dreams and aspirations way longer than I've been in Lynchburg. Nonetheless, as a remedy to that possible hinderance to my life or way of thinking right now, I could take a "breather" semester by removing myself from Lynchburg, moving back up to NY, taking just one course (a make-up one that I got a zero in over this past summer: purpose to not take my foot COMPLETELY out of the college door, preventing that "crossing of the threshold," not forsaking my educational financial set-up, and getting the zero off of my transcript), and interning again at FLM to experiment some more with multiple aspects of the music and creative world, though it'd be in a different light than maybe what I'm looking for. I'd get to study under Darren, my long-time mentor who I greatly appreciate any time spent with. I'd also get to live at home, which would be incredible, although it would be a love-hate thing. Obviously, I'd love to spend time with Mom, Dad, and Ryan!!!, but independence wise, I don't know how it'd be going from where I am now to back into a house with parents. haha. Anyway, I'd also be closer to certain Northern friends like Josh and Maggie, and I still wouldn't be unbearably far from Greg. The cons (seems like it'd be hard to find any, right?) would be a little different. Yes, I'd get a "break" from the downtown Lynchburg way of life which, yes, is a hindrance to one trying to be a student, but I'd also extremely miss Lynchburg, all the friends I've made here, the incredible apartment I'm living in right now, being close to my brother John, the local artistic and creative community, the independence, the weather, etc. I also don't know if by doing this option, I'd fill the gap that is causing the degree of emptiness and misdirection inside of me right now. hah. I know by saying that, it seems like spiritual depravity would be more-so the cause of that, and honestly, I'd say that's probably accurate. Either way, that aspect of life is one of the many that needs attention right now, and I think I'd rather just stay in Lynchburg and work on that here. I repeat yet again, however, that I'm not against college; I'm just not ready, yet, for it! I've had four very different semesters, presently working on the 5th, and nothing has worked 100% so far. On a completely different note, as far as this compromising option goes, I don't know if I'd even be ready for the "experience" I'd get with a semester at FLM. I am a WHOOOOLE lot of talk when it comes to things I want to work on, yet how often have I followed through. I need to actually DO what I'm talking about before I focus on other areas of training and execution of my "talents." I feel hypocritical doing something like that when I haven't even taken the personal time to work on these things, which I could hopefully achieve by not being in school right now.


Pretty much the root of all of the educational indecision is money, which is dumb. Again, the American measure of success and comfortable living is greatly different than what humans NEED to survive and be happy. Not saying having things is bad, but it doesn't HAVE to be the goal. I have a nice car, a huge tv, wonderful keyboard, sweet apartment, etc. Obviously, money buys some sweet stuff, but, as my mom often points out, it usually just causes more problems than it solves (like this WHOLE situation right now). There are people out there that search for different purposes in life like Peace Pilgrim or the moneyless man in Moab, Utah. I realize those are both extreme examples, but are their messages not inspiring? Food for thought.

And, whether it's a low blow in this argument or not, I have to do it:

Every day, I feel like following through with a different option. As of right now, though, I'm leaning more and more to option 2: The Alternative. I feel like that option is the most true to myself. And if loss of self is required to be "successful," something needs to be seriously reconsidered. One of my favorite quotes is from an essay written on the definition of success. There is controversy over the origins of the quote as it was mis-credited to Emerson in the early 1900's, but regardless, it goes something like this:

"To laugh often and much, to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children, to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends, to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded!" EMERSON

Also, a quote from Peace Pilgrim:

"Out of a feeling of deep seeking for a meaningful way of life, I began to walk one night through the woods with the feeling that I would continue to walk until I found what I was seeking, and after I had walked almost all night, I came out into a clearing where the moonlight was shining down, and I found myself saying, "If you can use me for anything, please use me," and I found myself feeling, "Here I am. Take all of me. Use me as you will. I withhold nothing." And then, of course, I felt I had found what I was seeking. I experienced complete willingness, without any reservations whatsoever to give my life to something beyond myself, but then I discovered that there is a big difference between the willingness to give and the actual giving. In my life, 50 years lay between." PEACE PILGRIM
October 13, 2009
  Something stirring. I am a prisoner. 
May 01, 2009
  Life the Life

I'll tell you what, as much as I love the concept of spontaneity and going with the flow, I definitely am relaxed by "plans" and lists. The reality is that if you're on a path like college, no matter how free-spirited you are, it is good to have a general game plan. I've been working so hard these last number of months trying to figure out what exactly my "plan" is. I've hit so many dead ends, twisty turns, and forks in the road, but I've finally settled in on my ideal plan.

Summer 2009 is going to consist of a life in Lynchburg living with my brother in a dusty, ambient loft downtown with a rickety, rusted staircase entrance, creaky ceiling fans, brick walls, and old hardwood floors. The days will consist of new job experiences and beautiful weather, while the evenings will consist of new friends, old friends, dance parties, music creation (I'm going to be working on some new original stuff, fingers crossed), photography, art, and new experiences. Downtown will be flourishing with local musicians, farmer's markets, coffee shops, mystical sunsets, rooftops, and dark alley ways. Let the good times roll.

Fall 2009 will be the continuation of summer as far as living circumstances, but my academic path is hopefully changing. I've been thinking about my path musically, and of course, I'm never giving up on my music, but I've definitely opened my eyes to the overall situation. You see, songwriting is not just about the music. It's about the artist himself (or herself). You could be greatest musician in the world, but what do you have to say? And how do you say it? Long story short, I've decided to do a degree where you basically design your own program, and I will be combining three different areas of study to form what I believe will be an extremely productive degree: English, Philosophy, and Music. The fusion of those three areas will continue my journey of self-discovery, my perspective on life, and my view of the world around me.

Fall will hopefully be the precursor to an incredible Spring, a Spring consisting of Semester at Sea with my best friend in the world, Greg. Not only is the concept of going on a cruise around the world with my best friend awesome, but musically and personally, I think it will be one of the most enlightening journeys imaginable. To be able to engulf myself in the musical and cultural backgrounds of around ten different countries (U.S., Japan, China, Vietnam, India, Mauritius, South Africa, Brazil, and Puerto Rico) is a dream I would have never thought possible to become a reality. And what an eye-opener for my global perspective.

After that journey, my path will return to Lynchburg, Virginia at Liberty University where I will continue my degree in English, Philosophy, and Music. At that point, my life will be pretty stable during the academic parts of the year. Living accommodations may be different, however, in that I will most likely be in an apartment downtown solo, and I can not express how excited I am about that. Like I said. At this point, my academic journey is going to be pretty straight-foward as I finish my degree. For summers, though, I am looking for some more adventure, with prospective trips having to do with exploring Europe with no set plan and road tripping with my best friends across America.

So yea, I'm not the most adventurous, hippiest person out there in that I'm not completely spreading my wings and letting the wind take me, but I feel really good with where I am, and I don't think life could be much better, with the exception of Greg or Josh (or both) living where I live. Even so, they both are on equally as freeing journeys through their college years as well. Though it feels so cliché talking about the "college years," there really is something so magical about this time of life. I'm in a great place with great people and great ambitions and a plan. What more could I want?

Now, I can relax, sit back, and enjoy the ride. Viva la vida, everybody. 

March 20, 2009
  "It's About Time" by Barcelona

There’ve been to many times when I’ve drowned you with these perfect lines,
And you’ve heard me say that I can cure you.
This morning I woke up with this overwhelming fear of love,
And I’m not sure if I can resurrect you.

I’m walking up to you so slowly.
It’s about time, it’s about time to fly away, but wait.
I swear it’s different cause I’m lonely.
Fold your wings, you’ll need them more one day.

Check this song out. I like it.
(I added it to my playlist at the bottom of this page. It's the first song.) 

February 12, 2009
  To a beloved friend: There's a girl named Maggie Nicholson, a friend who has been etched into my life. Why do I think she's amazing? Because this is what she brings out in me:

I asked her how she was doing, and this is what I got...

"it consists of living in the rainforest and listening to parrot calls and immense cricket orchestras at night. flowers the size of my fist in every color dangling from banana trees and tall green plants. waking up at 6 am every morning to do hard manual labor in the burning sun or pouring rain. discovering ancient lithic statues with their eyes closed and folded arms having been asleep for hundreds of years beneath the cobbles in the babbling riverbed. soon i will be back in new york. only a week here left! what does your life consist of? i miss you sincerely! ♥ "

So I filled her in on where I am, and this is what came out....

"That sounds fantastic. Your skill with language is second to none, and I'd be a fool to try to equal your vivid description. Simply put, I can say that I have been spiraling through this past year like none other, falling from the ladder that I've built myself my entire life. What's odd is that every time there is something to grasp onto to "save myself," I let it slip by, as there is something chilling and mysterious about living like this. Usually when one falls, their only goal is to get back up, but I've been mesmerized by the dust, blood, and broken boards on this floor that I've found. Even beyond that, I've met others like me, that have fallen already and some new people that have joined me along the way. Some get up, some stay down. I used to think there was a rush or a choice to be made, but I'm realizing it's not about who's figured what out. It's about this universal understanding that life is worth discovering. Let's look under every rock. Let's help one another out. Judge not. Fear not. We're all in this together. So let's drink to the view from the floor. Perhaps the day will come when each man and woman must face their ladder again. But until then, my blood will stain these broken boards beneath me.

As for Lynchburg, Virginia, where I presently reside, it's been a myriad of experiences. The blossom of friendships, the rise and fall of young emotions, new music, the collision of bodies on dance floors in dusty lofts in historical downtown, self-exploration, imperfections, and the digging for purpose and dreams.

The best part? I'm completely lost, which I'm finding is my favorite place to be, because any direction is forward.

Maggie Mae Nicholson, I miss you, and where is this place you speak of in your message? I have no idea where you are nowadays, but I know that I'd love for our paths to collide sometime soon."

Maggie, thank you for your magical ability to bring out my melody. It's been ages since I've thought like I did in my response to you. It's the kind of inspiration that I've been dreaming of, that I thought I had lost. 
February 08, 2009
  I've got soul, but I'm not a Soldier! Screw this damn world and it's rules. Life is about seeing the underside of every rock, living every moment to it's full potential. It's so easy to get caught up in the midst of every little detailed problem, but all that really matters is love, beauty, and peace. 
February 01, 2009
  It's Going to Take More than Dreams It's official people. I'm re-inspired. Not just in a musical way, but in a life-goal way. I don't know what all is going to happen yet, but I've just been honing in on how this all works. Regardless of what the future holds, it doesn't matter. What matters is that we all get off our lazy asses and do something about what we always talk about. I've been turning into that person I always loathe. That person that gives up on their passions and loses faith in believing that they can accomplish anything. Even beyond that, look around. Most people that have their dreams come true did not have them just handed to them. They worked unimaginably hard to make it to where they are. They dropped out of school, they spent all their money, they lost everything. Yet, they've followed their dreams. I guess I'm just sick of sitting back talking about it all. I'm done talking. I want to BE. I want to DO. I don't care what people tell me about my "skills." The reality is that I suck. I'm an amateur musician who has huge dreams, but it ends there. They're just dreams. I'm just realizing more than ever that it's not about dreams. Dreams are a distraction. They're good for hope, but horrible for execution. You can't focus on the future. You have to focus on the now, because until we get over ourselves and start trying, we're a whole bunch of nobody's with bullshit dreams.

I'm going to Belmont in the fall.
I'm going to better myself in my musical abilities.
I'm going to live life with eyes and ears wide open.
I'm going to expand my horizons.

I can't...No...I won' that guy on his deathbed thinking back on all the things that could have been. I'm going to give it my all. I'm going to not take no for an answer. I'm done talking about it. 'Cause I have no credentials to talk as if I have any sort of leverage when there are thousands of people that have gotten over themselves and are simply just doing instead of just wishing. I want to be one of them. I can't lose myself.

_Jeff Carl 

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