How do you measure a life?



Seventy-three years is all I’m expected to have in this life.

Today, I’m thirty-one years old. Am I wasting my time? Seventy-three doesn’t seem very long. Should I spend every waking second in a self-centered mad dash to experience all the things on my bucket list before my time runs out?

Does it matter how I leave the world I lived in for those still here and yet to come after I’m gone?

Does it matter how much success I experience or how many mountains I climb while I’m here?

Does it matter the other lives my life has affected in some way?

At age 28, I married my wife Lori. I promised to spend the rest of my life by her side, offering her an endless companionship of love, support, and understanding. One of the best decisions I’ve made in my 31 years so far.

Last year, at age 30, we created a new life together. Lori gave birth to a little boy. We named him Owen, which means “young warrior,” and “well-born.” He’s our little champion and it’s our current focus to provide the best life we can for our son.

Is that the meaning of life? To continue the cycle – to pass on our successes and experiences, the wisdom we gained, the lessons learned, and the love we shared, to the next generation so that life may continue?

Oh, how mighty the minutes are. In the wee hours of the morning our son cries for milk. He’s hungry and he’s helpless. Without one of his parents to come to his aid, he would exhaust himself, he’d suffer, and his life would be of poorer quality. His chances of survival would diminish. His potential for continued life would drop significantly.

Each of his cries carry this magnitude of importance for his parents. Their child aches and suffers but only momentarily until they come to the rescue. This is parenting. A million individual moments of reflex and reaction to your child’s needs, until the child has developed enough to operate for himself.

Each child requires this same type of attention and parenting, yet we take for granted that there will be a generation after us. Life moves on, we say. The cycle continues. People are born, and they die, and life goes on. But does it?

Does life go on if it weren’t for every single parent of the previous generation making momentary, insignificant, infinitesimal decisions to feed their children, to stop them from crying? Does life go on if people refuse to take steps forward? What would happen if you chose not to go to work? What would happen if you couldn’t afford to buy food? Who would go hungry then? Would life continue, as it always has? For you, and your family at least?

We take for granted the choices we make, assuming our individual actions and decisions have no baring on the continuation of life itself.

Perhaps I only have seventy-three years to live on this Earth. But imagine the ripples of the choices I’ve made my 31 years so far. Imagine the life my son will lead, and the decisions he will make, and the consequences of his future choices – none of which would come to pass if it weren’t for a simple choice my wife and I made not too long ago.

Because Owen lives, countless other lives may be changed. And that’s true for every human life on this planet.

That’s how significant our decisions are. That’s how important you are. Every day you live, every choice you make, will have unfathomable consequences on the people immediately around you, and around the world, now and for years to come.

Seventy-three years doesn’t seem like that long of a life. But, imagine what the world would be without the thirty-one I’ve lived so far.

Day-by-day: A Photo Journal Project

Have you heard of Jamie Livingston?


Well he was a photographer who took a Polaroid every day, until the day he died. I’ve been tremendously inspired by his idea and his dedication. His photographs, at least many of them, are on display on his website, here.

I fell in love with the nostalgia and story-telling of it all. I never knew James personally. But, by looking through his photographs one day at a time, I could say I know sosomething incredibly intimate about him. I’ve had a glimpse into his life, every day that he lived. Everywhere he went, I have gone too. I have seen his adventures, his heart breaks, his triumphs, his nothing days, and every day in between.

Now, I’m not a very open person to strangers. Though, I’d love to share my story. I grew up with the desire to change the world. I’m 29 years old, a struggling writer, a new husband, and a northern Virginia 9-to-5’er. My life isn’t all that exciting. I haven’t made tremendous discoveries, or changed the way the world works in any profound way.

But I like to think that I’ve lived a very unique and interesting life for the past 29 years. I’m passionate, creative, intuitive, and an all-around curious person. I pay attention to things every day at an intimate level. I’ve been called “emotional” and “sensitive,” an “over-thinker,” and “weird.” But I notice things not everyone else does, or at least I take the time to mentally recognize or dissect things that seem unimportant to others.

For these reasons, I became a writer and at times a photographer. While some people focus on their money, and their social relations, I focus on the emotional interactions between friends, and strangers. I watch people in public settings, at cafés, at coffee shops, at work, and in their cars going about their days.

I watch how the sun breaks through the trees, and how the clouds cover the sky before the rain. I see your body language. I see the paper on the sidewalk. I see the cracks in my lunch table, and the types of clothes or accessories passers-by choose to wear.

This may seem incredibly intrusive–or creepy–or perhaps strange, but honestly, I mean no invasion of privacy. I see beauty in all of these things. In a literary or photographically point of view all of these little insignificant things are just as beautiful as anything else in this world.

I believe God made this world, and everything in it incredibly appealing. We all just need to take the time, and make a conscious choice to notice it.

Maybe I won’t change the world on a large-scale. Maybe my life won’t outright inspire others to see beauty in their surroundings. But the least I can do is share the beauty I see with my readers and social-media followers.

So starting on May 3rd, I began taking a single photograph everyday and posting it to my Instagram and Facebook pages. I plan to continue this trend, like Jamie Livingston did, every day, until the day I can no longer take photographs.

I will share, organize, and portfolio these photos here on the blog as well. Someday,  I think it will be a very nice looking collection of pretty pictures, personal memories, and stories to share with strangers.

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Again, thanks for reading.

Your friend, and admirer of little things..

Matt Parr

Welcome to My Journal!

The idea of writing a blog first came to me way back in 2009. I was a twenty-one-year-old part-time college student, part-time Blockbuster employee. I would like to spend my free time at a Barnes & Noble café, people-watching mostly, just killing time—and I liked the atmosphere. I’d read my Bible, do some school work, listen to music, and foster my new-found love for coffee and cream soda. Eventually—the more time I spent there, the more I thought about writing, not only for Bible studies, or for schoolwork, but for pleasure.

I had some friends who wrote for the joy of writing. They inspired me to try my hand at the whole thing—see if I had a skill for it or not. I loved it. I began bringing one of those spiral-bound college-ruled notebooks and couple mechanical pencils with me every day. I loved the feeling of writing by hand. Throughout the course of what might have only been two or three months, I’d written over fifty pieces, from short stories, to poetry, to multiple page-long monologues. I fell in love with the process of writing, to write and rewrite, edit and proofread, to arrive with a beautiful collage of words, only to chop out complete sentences and paragraphs—which felt like self-inflicted amputations.

I wanted to share my writing with people. I wanted approval… reassurance… validation that what I was doing wasn’t a waste of time. After all—why write if no one’s going to read it? I could sit there and pat myself on the back all day, tell myself I’m a good writer, and then put the words back in my bag and they’d never see the light of day. So, I shared a few select pieces with a couple of friends. They really seemed to enjoy it. In fact—I heard compliments I wasn’t expecting to hear. This, of course, added fuel to my fire to keep writing. That’s when the idea for a blog came to mind. A public, online place, for my writings to receive readers.

But therein lied a major problem. I was, and still am, incredibly critical of myself, deathly shy, instinctively introverted, and all around afraid of what others think. I put my heart into my writing. The words on the page were as carefully chosen as the stroke of a painter’s brush. What if I shared these vulnerabilities and passions with the world—with strangers—better yet, with people I KNEW!? The thought paralyzed me.

At the time, I didn’t have the guts or the confidence in myself to share anything in any public fashion—hell even my Facebook post would be very carefully constructed; I was worried about how I was perceived, about everyone’s opinion of me. It was crippling handicap, and it prevented me from making any real progress in both, my writing, and my social life.

Nonetheless, I kept writing. I was able to eventually put myself in situations that would teach me how to become a better writer. I wrote a monthly column for Roanoke, VA local Christian magazine. Read by thousands. My girlfriend at the time (now wife), pushed me to continue my education. I got my bachelor’s in English—Business/Tech writing and minor in Communication. The thought behind that was—“Hey, I loved writing, why not do it for businesses, magazines, or any companies that would pay me to do it in some form or fashion.” My education also taught me how to edit, proofread, market, and use my critical and over-active mind as fine-tuned weapon for analysis and tool for observation. These things only made my writing better. My thoughts became for focused. My words—more careful. And the impact they could have on readers and listeners—more powerful.

Fast-forward eight or so years to today—March 30th, 2017. I am now married to the most amazing woman in the world. She’s a public elementary school teacher, and she’s a total bad ass. I work full-time for an office in Alexandria, VA where I answer emails all day and fix technical issues for people with a lot of money, and knack for making even more money.

I’ve “found myself” I guess you could say. I’m not so much worried as I used to be for the opinions of others. I know I have talents. I know I have a unique and peculiar mind. I know that I have a skill that not many others possess. I can transcribe opinions, experiences, and ideas for others to comprehend, understand, and relate to. I know how to communicate now. I’ve learned how to take something as abstract and as formless as human emotion and thought, and put it on paper for the absorption of others.

That’s mainly what this entire blog will be—my posts are going to be far-reaching and wide-ranging. But at the core of Matthew’s Journal, it’s just a public environment for my thoughts and opinions. And a place to share my faith (and struggles with faith) in Jesus, through my daily life as a twenty-something husband and writer.

I’m going to be posting journal entries about my past, my present, and things I might be going through at the time. Writing helps me process my own thoughts. I’m also going to be doing regular Bible-studies. But not your typical Sunday sermon, meet with a group of like-minded individuals type thing. It’ll be something more along the lines of Bible verses/scripture readings that are having an impact on me and the lesson that I learned; then I’ll take the verse/lesson and write it out for everyone to read—if they’re interested. Very similar to my old “Karis Magazine” monthly articles, if you’re familiar.

This blog will also house all of the old Barnes & Noble creative writings I did back in the day that I’d like to share, and any future creative pieces I whip up. In addition, I may throw in a few critic/review/analysis writings about pop-culture—movies—music, current goings-on, that sort of thing.

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That’s it for today. My first blog post complete! I hope you enjoyed the read—I know it was a long one. But, if you liked this post, have a comment, criticism, or just want to let me know you read it, please click “like” on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter—share Matthew’s Journal on your own social media, and don’t forget to comment below!

I truly appreciate all feedback, and look forward to reading your comments. If you read this far and don’t even know who I am—just click on over to the “About Matthew” page. You may also find links to my personal social media sites through the “Contact Me” page.

Thanks for reading!