Referential Existence

Words are so remarkably frustrating. They never fully encapsulate what I am trying to convey… the swirl of thoughts and logical strands, the elegant images and buzz of emotions tingling in my veins… they never flow out of my mouth, instead they tumble and crash like the waves on a beach trying to reach the dunes but failing because their shoes have been tied together and so they fall on their face and are dragged back to the sea of confused meaninglessness by the moon, which doesn’t even make any sense because the moon is so far away so how can its influence reach us.  These things, these letters and words are so limiting so constraining so endless so infinite so definable so utterly incomprehensible…

I took a poetry class in my final year of college.  I sat in a desk,
watching our professor try to pull the strands
just enough to let the light come through the impressions painted with pens,
just enough to get a glimpse of the supple curves and delicate skin,
without shedding the fullness of the harsh light that would shatter the seduction.
Just enough to convince us that we are not alone in our aloneness,
that others, too, are thwarted in their attempted sharing of the solitary oneness of self,
looking to the tilted mirrors of those around them, disappointed.1
Yes, and2
That others, too, recognize words as an elegy to what they signify,3
wavering between being and loss, awash in an incommunicable sea of existing.
That others, too, have sensed the strangeness of holding an unusable, yet somehow beautiful, broken tile of memory 4 in hand with a gentle wondering of what to do
that others, too, feel themselves at the center of a powerful and baffled will,5
Yes, and that others, too, are desperately avoiding erasure6
Aware of oblivion’s inevitability7
And the feeling or fact that
what has been done will be done again
and that there is nothing new under the sun8
And that originality is a myth
And that why is ultimately unanswerable

And so,

Vladimir:             What do we do now?
Estragon:             Wait.
Vladimir:             Yes, but while waiting.9

 


1 Hass, Robert. “The Apple Trees at Olema.” The Apple Trees at Olema. Harper Collins, 2010.
2 Rankine, Claudia. Citizen: An American Lyric. Graywolf Press, 2014.
3 Hass, Robert. “Meditation at Lagunitas.” The Apple Trees at Olema. Harper Collins, 2010.
4 Hass, Robert. “Novella.” The Apple Trees at Olema. Harper Collins, 2010.
5 Hass, Robert. “Misery and Splendor.” The Apple Trees at Olema. Harper Collins, 2010.
6 See footnote 2.
7 Reference to John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars
8 Ecclesiastes 1:9
9 Beckett, Samuel. Waiting for Godot. Grove Press, 1954.

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Referential Existence

Systems Thinking // effects of effects

The innumerous nodes of the system shift infinitely, are shifting. In spite of their untangleable entanglement we, perhaps unconsciously, persevere in our belief, our obsession with one directional cause and effect. But the cause of the causes of effects were (a/e)ffected by other causes in the same way infinitely unless there was one first cause, which isn’t that the big mystery, so please no more reductions of the irreducible and solutions to the insolvable. We and me and you.
Let’s revel in the complexity, our understanding complete in its incompleteness.
But I preach

To her
Because she has an undying obsession with answers. Trust me, we know. We tried.
Dying that is. That year. that year is the one that haunts, that demands, that is eternally unentangled. Because him and him and her and them make too many trails to follow; they loop and swerve and intertwine like necklaces thrown in a bag and left for years because that was all an act and the curtain was drawn and the scene changed and now even if she wanted to separate them she couldn’t.
But she does want to separate those chains of days, to complete the autopsy, for what died was her hope and perhaps the black box of her heart could hint at the happenings causing the crash. She may not be able to reconstruct but perhaps she could aid someone else’s avoidance.

But time disperses all nodes which feels more like the continual ripping of stitches rather than the healing of wounds. And she awakes again from the dream of a memory of an idea, who was once flesh. But her reinvigorated desire to detangle is thwarted by the dispersion.
And so platitudes fill her, pumped by the society obsessed with succintness. Forgive and forget to keep calm and carry the dark days tucked away where nobody can see them because they’re over now, over your head, that is. Today is a new day, because we say so even though all the days are the same spinning spherical ballet connected only by the thin strand of memory and the untangleable web of effects of effects of effects of effects of effects…

 

Systems Thinking // effects of effects

Side Effects

The Cure for Curiosity
of the whys of the world is the
disease of distraction
bound by the blindfold of busyness;
and
The Cure for Curiosity
of the whys of the world is
healed by a hope in holiness,
the affliction of arrogance,
bound by the books of beliefs,
and crippled by caring;
and
The Cure for Curiosity
of the whys of the world is the
dispassionate data disorder (DDD),
the sickness of scientific certainty,
and the obsession of the observable;
and
please
don’t perceive these as Placebo,
or the illness as imaginary;
don’t desire the death of difference.
Just be aware
of the odor of obstinance,
the constipation of conversation,
and the
Elixir of Empathy.

Side Effects

(is it just me, or is it you too?): why I’d rather go to the opera than church

Phenomenal writer. I couldn’t agree more.

(Comments are closed here. Please visit her blog to tell her how awesome her post is!)

No Language But A Cry

Sometimes I think all living is the story of what we do with our wounds. When we ask each other, How are you? what we are really asking is, What are you doing with your wounds today? Maybe Jesus asks the same question, when it comes down to it.

The human narrative is the narrative of woundedness. How we felt the cut to be fatal; how we try to bandage it with technology and distraction, or else inflict the same injuries upon each other; how we do our best to escape it but also feel inexplicably that such woundedness is us, is us not just in our most honest but in our most beautiful, and all our attempts at sewing really just begs for surgery; how it all feels so very much like homesickness.

The Gospel narrative, as I understand it, is also the narrative of woundedness. It is the…

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(is it just me, or is it you too?): why I’d rather go to the opera than church

The Conversation Named Freedom

Today I had a really helpful conversation.  A conversation I desperately needed but didn’t fully realize.

Obviously some part of me knew I needed something, for I was the one who initiated the conversation.  But going into it I was thinking to myself: Why am I even doing this?  What kind of an answer am I looking for?  Am I just wasting his time, my time?  After walking in the front door, but before he knew I was there, I almost turned around and left.  I almost walked right out, thinking about the excuses I could send over text, how I would be able to avoid him for a couple weeks to let any awkwardness fade… See, but that would have been the easy way out; avoidance is almost always easier.  But something that’s been talked about a lot recently is courage.

Courage: the ability to do something that frightens one.

Not fearlessness, but doing despite fear.

So I stayed and poked my head into the room and faced this fear.  The fear of reaching out.  Of asking questions.  Of admitting doubt. Of being vulnerable.  The fear of risking being burdensome or being judged.

And the answer was No, it was not a waste of time.

For during that conversation I was reminded of truth.  The deeply counter-intuitive truth that I am actually free.  No matter how many times I tie my own hands up, lock myself in a box, despise my mixed motives, fail to be all I could be, imprison myself with thoughts of striving, thinking I need to earn my worth… no matter what I do or don’t do, think or don’t think, pray or don’t pray, eat or don’t eat…. no matter if I am the most loving, admirable, courageous person on the planet or a despicable, cowardly worm… I am free.

No height nor depth,¹ excitement nor depression, self-loathing nor prideful arrogance can separate me from my Father and my God.  Because of Christ’s death and resurrection I have this freedom.  Why did he work in me, softening my heart to believe in Him?  I don’t know.  What is the role of decision/free will/choice in this faith?  I’m not entirely sure.  Does this drive me absolutely crazy?  Some day, yes.  Yes it does.  Some days I sit creating scenarios where all of the pieces can fit together in my little finite mind…until I look to the side of my puzzle and realize I left out a few pieces… But nobody except me expects me to have all the answers, to “figure out” the things that scholars and theologians have discussed for centuries.  Does that diminish my desire to understand?  Nope, unfortunately it does not.  However, realizing that I really have been offered freedom, and being reminded that it really is for freedom that he set free² gives me a renewed desire to actually LIVE IN THAT FREEDOM.  Knowing that Christ bought me a seat at His table because he loves me, not because he wanted to guilt me into accepting the invitation (hey, look at what I spent on you to get this seat at the table with the King…do you not realize how much this cost me?  are you really going to waste my death?  those nails were not pain-free ya know.) Knowing that I can say to God, Hey I am struggling right now to actually believe you are good and not manipulative…What do I do with that? Sometimes I am even struggling to believe you exist… Can you help me see what is true? and knowing that this doesn’t disappoint him, this doesn’t cause him to look on my with less love, with frustration.  This is MIRACULOUS. His love for me is unchanging.

Do I want to take that for granted?  (Good Christian answer: No, no of course not.) Honestly, ya, sometimes I do.  Sometimes I want to say, Well grace abounds, right?  Nothing I can do to lose my salvation, right? And so sometimes I spend a couple months not reading the Bible.  Sometimes I skip church.  Sometimes I am pretty rude to God in my prayers, or in my avoidance of him.  But the thing is… the thing that I keep realizing over and over and over again… is that while this separation in our relationship doesn’t diminish his love for me or my salvation it really does affect my well-being.  I lose my sense of meaning and purpose, connection with community, I get more anxious and depressed, I feel lonely and empty…. Should those things be the reasons why I want to be with Jesus?  Is he going to be upset that I am coming to him because I want joy and I know he promises joy?  Is he going to look at me and say “I only want you coming to me for ME, not for what I can give you.”?  NO WAY!  He WANTS me to come to him with those requests!  In doing that I am acknowledging my need for my Father.  I am acknowledging that He provides.

In another conversation with a friend this evening she mentioned a book that talks about this neediness as a form of love.  The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis.  I haven’t read it, but I think I want to.  I want today to be the start of me actually desiring the Lord again.  Will it actually be that?  Who knows.  Do I want that change partly because I miss the joy and meaning I felt those early years of college when Jesus and I were still in our honeymoon phase?  Yes.  And ya, I still feel guilty for that.  But one conversation isn’t going to change years and years of thinking and patterns.  I mean, I have been hearing about this grace and freedom since freshmen year of college but here I am still struggling to believe that is true and still struggling to live it out.  But if I had it perfect, well, I wouldn’t be human.

To be human is to be broken, flawed, finite, needy.
To be a believer, a follower of Christ, a child of God is to be broken, flawed, finite, needy.
Funny enough, none of those things change…

More processing to come…. as always. haha

Thanks for reading! :)

¹ Romans 8:38-39
² Galatians 5:1

The Conversation Named Freedom

the WHY

I am torn between writing some deep, rambling, insightful post about life and freedom and meaning and language and relativity and definitions…. and posting cute pictures of kiddos from this week…. Thoughts? Opinions? Comments?

[Too bad you can’t respond to my questions before I ask them…]

Well, I guess for starters I’ll update you on the day-to-day of my life and see where that takes me:

Summary:

+  gray and threatening  rain = playing in the children’s section of the library and risking a trip to the park where we met a new friend
+  mass chaos, wresting, practicing the art of sharing, indoor trampoline, watching Ezra cheer up Ivy, “oh, you do ballet?! I did too!”, thanking God for another set of adult hands…
+ FINALLY THE SUN IS OUT! another trip to the park, splashing in the river…the smile the garbage man gave us when he noticed it was a toddler sitting in the front seat pretending to drive the parked car :) the tantrum that followed after getting out of the car…
+  missing mommy, loving on the cat, missing mommy, eating a snack, missing mommy…
+ playing in two different sandboxes with two different kiddos  (also true of slides and bubbles)

In the time I wasn’t with kids I:

+  started a book called Wool by Hugh Howey that my parents bought for me after asking if I like dystopian literature, which I do.  Really interesting so far.  Definitely a page-turner.  As of now it is reminding me of a cross between The City of Ember, The Hunger Games, and The Circle.
+  hung out with two new friends :)  I even got to talk about art/design/making with them!!  Plus I got to hang out with some old friends too. It’s been a good couple of weeks in terms of my social life.  And it’s not often I feel like I can say that.  Being such an introverted homebody and all…
+  had one day of productively checking things off my TO DO list

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

And now here we are.  A Friday night…sitting on the couch…trying to put a finger on why I feel so off.

I hate that there are always so many factors.

Is it just something biological?  Did I not get enough exercise today?  Poor food choices?  Is it an inner emotional turmoil?  Am I frustrated by the fact that I have time to do something creative but don’t feel up to it?  Do I feel unseen, unknown, unheard?  Is it my insecurity in relationships?  My insecurity in my artwork?  My worth? The typical feelings of meaninglessness?  …

Something I have come to realize about myself is I always want to know WHY.  I think that is something true of humans in general…but I also think that some people think about the whys more frequently than others.  And until recently I didn’t realize just how deeply the whys impact my thinking.

There are times when this is incredibly helpful.  When it helps me to see and perceive things beneath the surface, the motivations, the reasons, it helps me to empathize.  People have told me that I am good at asking the “right” questions… and for a while I was puzzled by this… I was just asking questions without thinking much of it.  What does it even mean to ask a right question?  But then, as is my nature, I started to think about why it may be that so many people have made this comment.  And I think it may have something to do with the fact that I subconsciously dig into the reasons for emotions, actions, reactions, etc. and simply ask questions based on this curiosity.  (my future career as a counselor perhaps?) However, there are also times when this tendency to ask why is incredibly dangerous and detrimental.  It has led me to doubt the motives of people who have no ill intentions – people who love and care about me.  (But why would he be offering to do the dishes?  He must want something….  But why would she buy me a gift randomly?  It must be because she must feel sorry for me…  But why…? It must be pity, annoyance, frustration, anger, deceit, personal gain…) It has caused fights in my marriage, barriers in friendships, misread body language/comments/facial expressions/gestures/questions… Because when I doubt the genuine, pure motive of someone, I insult them.
I unintentionally say: I don’t trust you.
I say: I know you and see right through you.

“Cynicism is the sickness of my culture
We undress each other with an evil eye”
Cynicism by Josh Garrels

Unfortunately, because there have been numerous times when I have called someone out on mixed motives and then these mixed motives have been confirmed (if not at first, then later after some thought) it is extremely difficult to have any desire to try and alter my cynicism.  And in doing this or saying this I am IN NO WAY SUGGESTING THAT I HAVE PURE MOTIVES.  That’s just it.  I see the selfishness, the greed, the envy IN ME.  I see the bitterness, the anger, the hurt, the loneliness, the desire to be seen, known, understood, important, heard, right, happy, comfortable IN ME.  Not all the time.  I’m sure I just see a tiny tip of the iceberg of those things in me.  But because they do exist in me I assume they exist in others as well.  And sometimes I am correct.  But sometimes I am so so wrong.  And that’s when the hurt comes in.

So what do I do?  (The question that is always asked at the end of these kind of realizations.)  Where to go from here?  Just because Love Always Hopes, does that mean I am supposed to ignore the reasoning for things?  Do our reasons and motives matter? Is my asking why actually a form of judging others?  Is it pure curiosity? A desire for empathy?  An innate attribute of my personality? DOES IT MATTER WHERE IT COMES FROM?

If I help out at a food shelter because it will look good on my resume, does that negate the fact that people who were hungry now have full stomachs? If I sing at church even though I don’t want to does that negate the fact that I am singing?  Does the why change the label: from selfless to selfish, from worship to deceit?  Should our aim be authenticity?  What does it mean to be authentic? Is it even possible to be truly, deeply, 100% authentic?  Would that be a good thing? (Yes, your butt does look fat in those pants.  And I am telling you this because it is true and also so you will give them to me. – harsh/rude/unfiltered truth? – authentic?)

Does the why matter?
[What do you think?  Let’s talk. :) Comment below!]

the WHY

freedom to dream again

So I think this 5 day challenge may actually take me 10 days…

(one) …because who knew watching kids every day was going to leave me absolutely exhausted?! I’m not complaining though.  It’s a wonderful type of exhaustion.  The kind where you know you’ve been doing things, using your muscles, laughing, watching, enjoying, giving yourself.  Chasing neighbor dogs back to their side of the fence, lifting kiddos onto chairs, consoling, reading aloud, playing simon says (and while having the full attention of three little ones (basically impossible) finding out that Simon can’t think of many things to say! ah! where’s my creativity?!).

(two)…and because I am realizing there are a lot of internal barriers making it hard to even do parts of this challenge.  As I tried to do Day 2 I kept unknowingly hitting these walls that would curtail my dreaming.  Walls like:

stings

  • that’s selfish
  • that’s impossible in today’s society
  • what will people say if you do that?
  • that’s not a real job
  • you aren’t talented enough to do that
  • remember last time when that failed
  • someone else is already doing that better than you could
  • you’re lazy for wanting that
  • is that going to make you a “productive member of society”?

And from there I typically end up in a philosophical/existential internal debate questioning the goal of society, the definition of productive, the meaning of life…

I won’t get into all of those tangents now…as I have the rest of my life to explore those things…  However, what I keep finding is that one of the things I most desire is a sense of freedom…And isn’t that what we all want in some capacity?  Freedom to be who we are regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, age, economic status… freedom of religion, of speech.  Freedom from discrimination and hate. Freedom to pursue our dreams… freedom to HAVE dreams.

Freedom has been on my mind for a while now. I remember in elementary school, when we were sitting in the car outside of the Blockbuster (back when we went to actual stores to rent VHS tapes and DVDs…man, won’t that shock my future children) and I asked my dad a question I had been thinking about for quite a while… I said “Daddy, are we all just God’s puppets?”  And looking back, I think there was a lot more wrapped up in that question than anyone realized, even me.  For over the years that question of freedom kept coming back and it has continued to remain at the core of some of my deepest struggles…my search for meaning, purpose, hope…  It has led to many tearful conversations (with others and with God).  And it’s not just my question.  People have been asking this question for…well…seemingly forever.  The idea comes in numerous forms: fate, destiny, predestination, soul mates. Has this story already been written? Or are we writing it as we go?  The question of time: how past, present, and future interact and impact one another.  Do the characters influence the plot? Or was the script written long ago?  Are there eraser marks?  Can things change?  Or through the precise creation of the characters did the author predestine all that will come to pass?  Trust me, I know these are not new ideas.  And I tend to trip over my own feet when I start wading in them…Do they affect the day-to-day?  Maybe not. But I think they should!  What I believe matters for how I live my life, what I teach my future kids, what I believe, what I value, how I spend my time…doesn’t it??  See, even now I was supposed to be doing this seemingly simple task of answering some questions about my future and I end up on a philosophical/theological tangent…

I know you don’t have all day, so here we go:

Day 2: Clarify Your Vision.

Basically, in the email I received about my second task, I was asked to create a clear vision of what I would want my future to be like… What is there?  Who is there? What is my morning ritual like? What have I stopped doing? What do I do for a living? How much money do I make? How much am I giving away?  How are my core values being realized?

At first I couldn’t think of any answers to these questions besides knowing I want my husband by my side.  I sat staring at a blank piece of paper… I had been so stuck certain questions for so long (“What do you want to be when you grow up? Where are you working after college?  What’s your major?”) that it took me a bit to switch mindsets. However, once I got started I found that I do have things in mind when I think about my ideal future.  They don’t necessarily dictate a “career path” as I kind of hoped they would… but I do think they have helped me to see what I value.  Namely: creativity, learning, and people.  Here’s what days 1 and 2 look like in the scrapbook I created to keep track of this post-college journey:

1b2b6b

Thanks for reading!  and for joining me on this crazy journey called life! :)

Now, I want to hear from you!  What are you passionate about?  Do you have a vision for what you want your life to look like?  How do you balance living in the moment with goals for the future?  Comment or email me. :)  I would love to get to know more about you!

 

freedom to dream again