Have you ever been at the store and passed someone you think you'd seen before? Or maybe you find yourself talking with someone and out of the randomness of the moment, you can feel as if a parent of yours is coming through you? Mannerisms and all? No one else would get it, but the conversation is already underway and you just gotta roll with it - but it's a distraction. I had one of those moments the other day. But this was similarly-different. In this case, someone had been following me around - for years actually. Shit! with as old as Tristan is, over a decade really. In today's case however, rather than let another moment pass again, I decided to stop passing by. It must have been about 4:47AM while on my walk. I like walking that early because everyone and their mom is sleeping - including the enemy. I was on my longer route walks, this one takes me about 45 minutes to complete. I was about a third into it where the route meanders into a private sidewalk so one can walk through the greenbelts rather than be stuck walking adjacent to the road. As you descend from the streetside into the greenbelt there's a park bench strategically placed right in front of a large pine tree all by its lonesome. side note..... I legit stopped what I was doing, got in my truck and went to capture a picture of this bench to share this with you.
Although I much prefer the look of a big ass palm tree, this kind of tree casts a broad shadow. One so large that you can sit in the silence of the morning. From there one can only hear the birds chirp as they folic through the freshly groomed green lawn. In solitude you can feel the early dawn turn into morning. The breeze of temperature change dances its way through the pine needles transplanting you somewhere other than the Arizona I know.
I saw him sitting on the park bench that morning and rather than pass, I said fuck it and sat right next to him. This took a lot of courage to do so. I'm the type of guy where if there is one dude pissing in a public urinal, it is my MO, to go to the furthest corner away from everyone to take a leak. That morning however I popped a squat right next to him.
There in solitude, is a guy about my same age lost in thought. His trance is fixed looking far out of range from the pink stucco boxes in front of him. The gaze extended further west where the White Tank Mountains are, into the unknown. As if owning the same exact shirt, I know that rooted look, it is seared into my own memories. When I was in sixth or seventh grade, I vividly recall being in elementary school lost in the same kind of thought. The restrooms I chose to use were outside. Timing the request to the teacher was key. During the morning, I'd go to a private location outside where the sun was still at my back as the day was coming alive. From this perspective, the school yard gave an unobstructed view west - a straight line to the White Tank Mountains. Although this memory was during the colder months of the year, the hypnotism was the same. I found myself standing there being oblivious to the present world, wondering how much more liberating it would be to be there while everyone else is still here. I would have vague visions of the unknown future, ones I cannot recall beyond the idea of just knowing I've been in the same trance before; focusing on what I could see, thinking about a place I should be, but wasn't there yet. Here before me, a peculiar stranger sits with the same look of wandering ponder I have seen before. Without breaking his westbound focus, he says,
"Well, it fuck'n took you long enough?!"
To my surprise I didn't expect such a good morning. Adjacent to me sits a man smaller than I. At first glance you'd think I was the older, bigger brother on the bench. On his feet, he must be about 5'11" or barely 6'0". He has a medium frame on him, but you can easily tell he takes care of himself. It's summertime and I'm in running shoes, a tank top and athletic shorts. Country boy to my left might as well be from somewhere else. He's in worn out blue jeans with a tucked in T-shirt, and has contractor boots on. They could be cowboy boots, but these are worn out and worked in with the flat tip cut at the toe. He's got a trucker hat that has seen better days, but there's no missing that it's his favorite hat.
"I'm really surprised it took you so long to say anything or shit, slow down enough to acknowledge me"
He spoke clearly, but you can hear an articulated southern drawl come out. The tone of which he carried himself in was one that I could swear I've heard before. He turns to his side and sticks his hand out and says
"Hi, I'm Jason Brady".
Cordially responding I stuck my hand out to shake as well. Once embraced, the shake felt odd. Odd like placing one's hands together with the fingers interlocked the way a small child would say a prayer at the dinner table. But do just that, but interlock your fingers the opposite way that feels instinctive. Try it! You can tell that it's a matched pair, but it feels similarly-foreign, making you want to change back to what feels normal. The handshake left me feeling as if I was shaking my own hand through a mirrored reflection; yet what I was engaging with, was not myself...
or was it?
Conversation evolved from there as we sat and commiserated for a while. Nothing he said about himself sounded unfamiliar, but it was refreshingly new at the same time. Jason was a good'ol boy born and raised in Oklahoma. His parents could pass as grandparents to other kids his age as they had him late in their lives. He was the youngest brother of two. He didn't get to know his older brother too well as he was much older and sadly was killed in combat. Jason's Dad owned and operated a farm passed down from his family. When Jason was about 14 his Dad unexpectedly passed away. This was super hard on the family. He's as close to his Mom as he can be, however she's had substance abuse problems for much of his life. It might be due to all the losses, he's not sure, but it is something he has to combat with. When his father died, Jason took it upon himself to take over the family business. To his benefit it was just he and his mom he needed to provide for. His Dad had shown him just enough, but life kicked Jason out of the nest much sooner than he was ready for. Beyond that, he was all on his own learning the how's and what's about business and life. He's always been good in a crowd with people. Jason is gregarious, tells it like it is, and thinks quickly on his feet. In a laughing matter he says he's an extrovert who's learned to slow down the sharpness of his tongue. This served him well as he figured out what he needed to do to keep the family business alive while "not knowing shit about fuck" as he puts it. It was his goal when meeting new people that he wanted to be the first one to introduce himself to them - just as he did me on that interesting morning. This helped his confidence in doing things he had never done before as this was one of the few outcomes he had control/influence over as he chartered the unknown. Jason was not allowed to sleep in as a kid. He had to get up and after it without question because that is the life on the farm. That became even more of a requirement when he took over the business. The athletic frame he has today was not easy for him. The want for exercise was always there, but the gains required took forever. Having his dad suddenly pass away makes Jason take his health seriously. That and along with his mothers substance abuse, he stays away from alcohol. All of which keeps him in a sober state of mind simply by proxy. He can find himself in the center of the party without needing to get ripped like others. He's structured in his personal life and has the discipline to follow through on things that he knows is going to suck. He tells me that he's that if he wants an easy and fulfilled life, he needs to do the things that suck and that are hard. That is one of the mementos his father instilled into him before he passed away. Eventually the sun tipped past the height of the pine tree behind us and it was starting to get hot. The day was alive and there were things that needed to be done. Jason and I winded down the conversation to part ways. There was a moment there at the end when he said,
"just so you know, I'm always around if you need anything... I've always been around. We first crossed paths some odd 15 years ago, but like I said, you've not slowed down enough to recognize what's really happening."
He said that if I look hard enough into my past of where I am today, there will be countless moments in my life where he's been there. Been there opening doors I've not seen were openable, but opened because Jason found his way there first. We shook hands and parted ways that morning. I still had about 30 minutes left of my walk. For the remainder of that time the conversation I had with Jason continued to fill my head. Both in the happenstance and the deep reflections of my past. It was strange and comforting. As I was walking up to my garage to end my walk that morning, I stopped and took a long gulp of my water bottle. While there, clanking away with the lid, that same strange feeling came over me as if I were feeling a parent come over me, but it was just me, all by myself... I was not talking to anyone. Shaking it off and going about my way, I adjusted my posture and happened to glance to my right. As if suddenly seeing an unexpected piece of food in my teeth, to my shameful startle, looking back at me through the tinted glass of my handyman truck, it was Jason.
"Hey dude!... I'm right here if you need anything"
Peering away due to embarrassment, I wanted to look at something to play off the strangeness of the eye contact... I mustered a little more courage to look again.
"Yup! Still here man"
What the fuck is going on, I struggled?!
"Hey, one more thing pal! Going forward, don't be such a stranger. There's a lot more life ahead for us... of which is filled with opportunities where we're going to need each other. ;) I'll be right here."
Man that was weird!! Saying nothing more than confused gestural acknowledgements to Jason, I was on my way inside to start my day. Cooling down, I slid out my laptop drawer to turn on the computer. I rest to gather my pregame plans on the day while everything loads up.
I'm going over the intentions and plans I laid out last night for my hopefully productive day. From there I look up to check out the computer warmup and like a girlfriend stalking you outside the window, there is Jason looking back at me.
"Hey! You need to look at the list again. I took the liberty and threw in some more shit to your day that you need to accomplish. Just a heads up though, it's going to be the kind of shit you really don't want to do, but you need to. But trust me, you'll thank me later."
"we got this!"
To my unexpected fortune growing up, my parents allowed me to become whoever I wanted to. There were no limitations on what was possible for my future. Although relationship changes happened after I left home, prior to that, growing up as a kid, things were great. During my earlier years there was SOOOO much time for me to emotionally and spiritually pack that boat full of courage. By the time it left the family dock on my own, I had all that I ever would need to become someone.
Reflecting back on who I am today, fundamentally that kind of love and support was the best thing I could have asked for while charting this rampant river turned vast unknown ocean of life. I've never struggled with my inner voice shaming me. It's always, always been one of support.
Somewhere in my mid 20's, after Avin was born, after the start of my first water feature business, after the earlier fallouts of my relationships with my siblings and parents, somewhere, I decided to quit being a bitch about things.
Somewhere I decided that I wasn't going to be so judgmental and uptight. I decided to stretch out, become more outgoing, try new things, listen to different music, drink different beers, lean into this other side of me.
Those small steps lead me to a journey of self improvement and self discovery. Suddenly I was driving into work on a different route. I was parking in a different spot. I was reading, trying, and failing.
Then Tristan was born. We lost our home. My entire family moved out of state. We had no money. I had a brand new job. My new-rebuilt-solo water feature business had just started. I was on my own. (well, I had Chas of course)
My GP would pass in a few short years thereafter. I grieved alone. I had to fly out of the nest alone. No more confidant to help solve mechanical problems or share life perspective. I was alone. My buddy from high school, Chris Pike, would die a year later. His eulogy changed my life.. all while I was still alone.
All of this happened while I was still on my self discovery journey. The self talk continued. Ultimately it paved the way to see a different future, one that prepared me for self employment. It gave me the courage to go deeper into the unknown, all while being alone.
Early years of real estate really kicked my ass. I fought and fought the want to quit, but the self talk kept me going. The self talk helped me through the battlegrounds of my family turmoil, the reckoning of scorched earth. All simultaneously happening during the start of a GUD idea, compounded by the extreme, life altering losses we had to endure with the passing of Chas's mom, godmother, Sean, and bonus dad, John, and covid.
This journey of immense struggle brought the vast ocean of the unknown down to a river, to a choked creek, then a drought riddled stream leaving nothing more than a gaming trail up a terrifying mountain, yet, I still needed to bring the boat with me up this climb.
Jump ahead about 3.5 years, the boat is back into a small stream, and Mount Doom is in my rearview. I can now use paddles to jot around the moving current of the stream. Not too far ahead of me is the mouth to a river, I can see this clearly. Looking further west, there is an ocean of opportunity. Like looking beyond the pink stucco boxes, further west at the White Tank Mountains, I know they're there with an unobstructed view of where I'm headed... just got to get there.
Although Jason's been here the whole time, I can see and hear him now. This time the path forward will be less lonely. :)
Over the last 6 years I've been in my head a lot through gratefulman. Recently however, I've been digging a lot deeper into the person I know myself to be. Even with 40 years under my belt, I still don't have a full picture, but I'm getting an ass ton closer.
Somewhere along my quiet morning walks I saw who I currently am and for the first time, I have a roadmap of who I want to become.
Josh Brill is an amazing person. There is a lot I have to be thankful about where I've come from, what I've been through, and the opportunities I have created or found. I know this about myself.
For the first time in my entire life, I don't feel like a wandering specific anymore. There is no road map to where I'm going, I can just feel it like a dog hooked on the sent... it's not found on a road or path. It's crazy and unreasonable, but that is where the sent is leading me. In an effort to require more of me, to lean on something that feels less lonely, I created Jason Brady.
I know, I, Josh Brill, am the one with courage to do weird shit, shit that is so vulnerably overwhelming that it might appear risky, or, or, or. And I might do, or not do, or, or, or.
In the loneliness of the struggle, I created Jason Brady to have a buddy on the other side of the outcome. Jason is the one who helps me do the shit that I really don't want to. The one that has to work harder at the things that are natural to me, but I neglect because it's boring, lazy, more uncomfortable, whatever... the shit I don't want to do, that I know I need to do, that comes easy for Jason Brady.
On one of my walks though, true story, I heard someone talking about the person they want to become, and in an effort to help them find the nerve, as weird as it is, they created another side of themselves and gave it that side a name. We all have this "other side" and lord! man! where I'm at in my head today, the crap that I've required of myself to do, shit! no doubt! I needed a Jason Brady to carry me though.
The Josh of 15 years ago would not have gotten into a car with someone they've never met, ever, and spend hours, and hours in a car next to this person, and succeed in not making a brutally awkward outcome... but I did it, did it with a smile on my face. That kind of shit requires more than I'm naturally comfortable with.
I'm a city boy at heart, but I long for the roots of a small town country boy. There's something about saying that you're from the South that brings a bit of charm. It's likely old fashioned work ethic, a place where a handshake, holism struggles, but rooted family and neighborly values originated from. Is one of the profound reasons I have "Oklahoma State University" all over my truck.
Although I'm the oldest child, grandchild, nephew in my family, shit, it even trickles into Chas's family, I feel like I'm also the oldest of everyone. I have always wanted an older sibling to look up to. It might relieve the stresses of being the unspoken leader at the top, not sure. But being younger than someone you admire takes a bit of the edge off. I don't know what that feels like. But Jason does.
Jason lost his older brother and didn't know him very well, yet he has tremendous respect for him. Just like myself with my buddy Chris Pike. I knew Chris, I was older than Chris, and shit! boy did I make better decisions as a kid than he... BUT! He went off and become someone better than himself. Someone that I did not know when he passed, but who he became afterwards, left a wake of pride and tremendous admiration.
I've grown up in a family with young parents and closely aged siblings. That aside however, I'm an old soul. One that is dramatically different that where I came from. I was raised by my parents, but I feel like I was developed from my grandparents. My GP died sooner than I was ready for. I really, deeply wanted and needed him for what I had to chart along with on my own.. but damnit it would have been easier with him.
I feel super close to my Gramma in the absence of my GP. AND!!! I need to make clear! lol! my Gramma does NOT have a substance abuse problem. hahah! When I want to drink, I drink hard! Like hard! It made it a relatable story as to why Jason does not drink. Nor did my GP pass due to controllable health issues. I needed to find motivation in an origin story to leverage what I'm not good at and need to be.
I'm a big dude who's naturally passive, one that I know has gifted genetics, yet, I squander them because I'd rather be dicking off, or doing something creative. Jason had to work hard for what he has physically because it did not come easy. I need to respect that gift.
To this day and when I was a kid, I've always been called Jason on accident. Over this time I have conditioned myself to respond to it as much as I do Josh. Plus, a lot of the Jason's in my life were good people. So it fit perfectly.
And Brady.... Well, that's two fold.
The simplest and most family loving part of my life was the first 20 years when I was a kid. I was a confident Josh Brill. Now, tack on another 20 years of life trying to become an adult from that namesake. ooffta.
I know with absolution, my parents instilled vulnerable confidence within me. If there was one thing that I feel unquestionably grateful for, from my parents, it's that trait. The unexpected shittyness was having to use that vulnerable courage against the very ones who gave it to you and those you grew up with...
damn. It's been some of the hardest things I've ever had to do.
The aftermath of all of that sapped the confident namesake when saying Josh Brill. I do not feel like a Brill - at all... But that is where I came from, that is the name my parents gave me, and that's what the world knows of me. So rather than rename myself - which I've thought long and hard about - there's no power in that.
Redefining that name is powerful... It just takes patience and time... and a lot of vulnerable courage... of which I'm just expelling myself out here to you about! hahah!
For me, I find an overwhelming amount of needed joy in naming Jason through Brady... which comes from Tom Brady. Yup! as fucking weird as that is, a gown ass man like myself even has athletic hero's/remodels... even if that person is but 4.5 years older than myself!
As my adult heart and mind process the overwhelming commitment of one fighting against everyone's shit opinion of you, it's Tom Brady. For what I know of him, he's super close to his parents and siblings. He's been seen breaking down into tears advocating his appreciation and love for his father... how can I not look past that. In addition to that, he's been told he's overrated, not good enough, wrong build, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong... and yet, in a cool, confidently quiet manner, he proves everyone wrong time and time again. All without being an asshole about it.
As totally silly as it is, I could go on about him... but like I said, a grown ass man is allowed to have superstars they look up to. And for me, Brady was a no brainer. :)
Plus, the initials I have tattooed in my back are JB... :)
Jason Brady is that reflection in the mirror looking back at me. In my moments of weakness he holds me to a higher standard while at the same time, goes through the vulnerable struggles I need help with.
And!! when I shake his hand it's as comfortably-foreign as interlocking my hands the non-instinctive way... it's a strange and familiar feeling. :)
Thank you for giving the time to read about someone so imaginatively real to me, with you.
Do you have someone imaginatively real your life?
Have a grateful weekend friend! :)