- "I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather my spark burn out in a brilliant blaze than be stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be a meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy, permanent planet. The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time." ~Jack London
Sunday, August 31, 2008
I pulled into the driveway and he darted across the yard, his sleek and narrow body bounding through patches of missing grass as though they were stepping stones. How he managed to hold onto it with only his tiny squirrel mouth I'll never know, but there it was, this one perfect tomato just at the peak of its ripeness. It was the color of fiery sunsets drawn by children, bright reds and oranges and yellows bursting with the idea that the sun won't go down without a fight. And the squirrel clung to it as though it were the sun itself, as though it were the something to thank for all of existence, as though it were precious and powerful and at the very center of everything. He ran toward me like a dog playing fetch, that look of discovery and pride on his tiny face, but at the last moment turned and scurried up the tree. I was glad of this. It was his treasure, not mine.
As I sit on the porch this morning, the air has already changed. Fall wafts in with it's familiar comforting scent. Leaves have already started to change color and float softly down upon the inviting earth. Yes, I think, a new beginning.
I wonder how many are allotted in life. How many times can we wipe our slates clean? How many chances do we get to be forgiven for our mistakes? How many opportunities are there to start fresh, to start over, to take those first steps? How many days can I dub as the first of the rest of my life before such a declaration becomes meaningless?
I thought about this last night as I lay in bed waiting for sleep to come. What I'd like to believe is that new beginnings are limitless. Every day can be the first day because every day is different, something new, something precious. Even in the most monotonous stages of a life there are details waiting to be discovered and admired and cherished. There are ways of seeing the world as an invitation for happiness if one knows how to look at it right. There are ways of learning this skill that are as simple as opening your eyes, as slowing down, as listening to a single bird greet you into your day, as I did this morning. Open your senses and the soul will follow. It knows how to blossom in gladness. It knows how to begin again.
Tuesday is the first day of my new job and I'm excited for something new, for another round of beginnings, for new people and ideas and realizations. I'm ready for change. In fact, I've been craving it. Something I've learned about myself is that as much as I think that I want free time, I'm not very good at it. I need to be busy. I need to be out in the bustling world exploring and watching and discovering. I need to be having adventures, even if they're as small as watching a child learn something new, or finding a new perfect place to sit and write in my journal, or coming across a garden so filled with color and life that for a brief moment I am left literally breathless. What I need, more than anything, is to be inspired.
And so I think of the squirrel and of his treasure. I think of the delicate, simple loveliness of that scene. I think about how being inspired is sometimes as easy as letting go, as letting it happen, as letting the beauty of the universe consume you. I think about how even now, in the quiet stillness of this Sunday morning, the beginning of a new week, I am filled with joy and gratitude simply to be a witness to the grace of this world.
And I think about how I must seem in this moment, bounding through patches of doubt and uncertainty as though they were stepping stones, clinging to the fiery treasure of knowing how to love my life.
Friday, August 22, 2008
"Meditation is old and honorable, so why should I not sit, every morning of my life, on the hillside, looking into the shining world? Because, properly attended to, delight, as well as havoc, is suggestion. Can one be too passionate about the just, the ideal, the sublime, and the holy, and yet commit no labor in its cause? I don't think so.
All summations have a beginning, all effect has a story, all kindness begins with the sown seed. Thought buds toward radiance. The gospel of light is the crossroads of -- indolence, or action.
Be ignited, or be gone."
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Perhaps I simply needed to write it down. Or, more likely, perhaps I just needed to write. The act of typing seems to soothe me more than the actual words being set upon the page. It's strange to think of how quickly I seem to forget what comfort feels like. It's strange to think of how quickly I seem to forget that I am capable of saving myself, of pulling myself back from some dark and dreary place, of rediscovering the way light gently radiates from all of existence. It's strange to think of how quickly I can become blind to the things that once consumed my attention, those small and delicate details that make waking each day purposeful and perfect. It's strange to think that it's possible for me to ever feel joyless in a life that offers up so much joy.
Nothing happened necessarily. There were no epiphanies or revelations. There were no answers found. There were simply moments when sunlight poured through my bedroom window with such elegant poignancy that even the most cynical of souls would be forced to believe in beauty. Moments when the gentle grace of the universe hummed the sing song melody of life itself. Moments when I felt humbled by my existence, filled with gratitude for the continuation of my story. There were simply moments when whatever it was I've been searching for - a path, a destination, a direction - seemed insignificant in the grand scheme of things.
And of course, it isn't insignificant. It's something I need to figure out, for me, for the sake of my happiness, for my own peace of mind. It means something to me to have places I want to go, things I want to accomplish. It means something to me to have dreams to work toward, whether they're realistic or not. It means something to me to keep moving forward, into a future where I can become a better me, where I can become the best version of myself, where I can become the kind of person I can maybe learn to love.
I understand that it's a process. I understand that I won't wake up one morning to a perfect life, all of my ducks miraculously in a row. I understand that it takes work, that it involves facing fears and admitting things I'd rather not admit and discovering, somehow, a way to have the kind of faith in myself that I have in those I love. I understand that I am not the only one learning these lessons. I understand that feeling lost and afraid and doubtful are just as much a part of life as feeling euphorically happy and content. I understand it is a balancing act. I understand it is a journey. I understand. I do.
It's just difficult to ignore the places that feel empty inside. It's difficult to see the places already filled, the fundamental fullness of a life being lived, when there is also this insatiable ache for the unknown. It's easy to let the negative thoughts outweigh the positive. It's easier to fall down than to climb back up. That's just the way of things. And I understand that too.
And so I try my best to be inspired by books and people and moments. I try my best to know that most of what I decide is insignificant in the grand scheme of things, even if it feels like everything at the time. I try my best to have faith that this too shall pass. I try my best to concentrate on those small and delicate details. I try my best to feel forever joyful in a world that offers up so much joy. I try my best to feel full in the most desolate of places, those times in my life made up of nothingness, those empty spaces inside my heart that never cease to ache. I try my best to believe there is more for me to do, and see, and love, and be. I try my best to see the beauty in such hope.
I try my best to type my way out of sadness, and sometimes, like now, it works.
Monday, August 11, 2008
I quit my job six weeks ago and have had nothing but wonderful, terrible, endless amounts of time. As expected, the first few weeks were fabulous; sleeping in past five, checking items of my to-do lists, reading entire days away. But equally expected came that turning point, that moment creeping up ever so slightly, quiet and undetected, until it was right beside me, nagging me urgently with the demanding awareness and unrelenting cruelty of time.
I wonder where it comes from, this need to be doing, this fear of wasting moments, this feeling of uselessness. I wonder why so much of my identity is dependent on what I do, and not, essentially who I am. I wonder if I can even define who I am, put a name to it, without the convenient blanketed idea of an occupation. It's more difficult than one would think.
While in Prague last December, I visited a preschool where a friend of mine was working, and the director very kindly took the time to show me around and talk with me about education. She was a lovely woman, interesting, well-traveled, passionate about her career and life in general. I love these spirited characters. I love that they give me something to look forward to, to aim for. I could be like that, someday, if I tried hard enough. I could be fiery and strong and in love with my life. I could be more than a weak, timid girl standing on the edge of her life, fearing the unknown before her, fearing - more than anything else - that what lies ahead is not the unknown, but rather just the continuation of a predictable, indifferent life. I am so tired of feeling half asleep in a world so awake with wonder.
This woman asked me to tell her about myself, and so I told her about teaching. She smiled politely. "No" she said, "tell me about YOU." Eight months later, I still have no idea how to answer this question. I looked at her anxiously trying to think of something to say, something that would express who I am, something that would define me. She sensed my unease. "R. tells me you've been spending your days sitting in cafes and writing." I laughed a little and nodded. Maybe that summed it up entirely.
I think about this moment quite a bit, especially at stages in my life like this, when I have nothing but time. My inability to answer that question both frightens and saddens me. I used to have such a lust for life. I used to have things that truly interested me, that I was passionate about, that defined me. I used to have goals and dreams and an idea of who I was and who I was working to become. And now, I'm just not sure. I've been unwilling to write simply out of the fear of having to admit my uncertainty. I've been avoiding the question. I've been avoiding my life.
When I discuss these types of issues with adults, they remind me that they were much older than I am before they figured out what they wanted, who they were, how to love and accept themselves. I know that they mean it to be comforting. I know that what they are trying to offer me is this idea of time, that I have more of it than I think, that it will help me to heal, that it is in fact a gift, and not cruelty at all. But what I hear is that I'll have to wait ten years before I'm happy. What I hear is that I'm too young to understand any of this. What I hear is 'wait it out. Float through. Be lost so that you can be found." What I hear is that there is no way out other than time. And I hate that. And I wish that I could simply jump ahead.
I wish that I knew how to tell you who I am. I wish that I knew myself.
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
I considered sending you a thank you card, but it wouldn’t encompass my gratitude. I considered an email, but every time I sat down to write, it started to sound like all of the others I’ve sent you over the years, generic, inadequate. I considered a letter, but that too, fell short. There aren’t enough words to express what I feel for you.
When I think of you, I do not think about the boy I became friends with ten years ago. I do not think of the way I didn’t know then how strongly I would come to adore you. I do not think of you connecting christmas lights in my tinkerbell costume, or the sly, knowing looks we’d exchange when I would turn around to look at you at the piano, or the nights in Adrian’s basement, or driving around aimlessly in the passenger seat of your car, or standing beside you at concerts, or the nightly IM conversations that lasted for hours. I do not think about sitting beside you on your front stoop that morning, or on my porch that afternoon, or a week ago in Starbucks.
I do not think of the way you create music where once there was nothing. I do not think of your brilliance or your kindness or your innate goodness. I do not think of our inside jokes, our shared laughter, our kindredness. I do not think of our talks individually, but rather, as one long conversation, the kind that begins with a ‘hello’ and lasts an entire lifetime. When I think of you, I think about the longevity of friendship. When I think of you, I am certain of the truth of that old familiar adage that sometimes family is what we create for ourselves. When I think of you, I am home.
As a housewarming gift, he made me this book. This wonderful, generous, amazing book of my blog. He went through and picked out his favorite entries. He arranged them beside his beautiful photographs. He compiled it all together (humbly, he claims) and made the most priceless and precious gift I have ever received. From anyone. EVER.
And you can see why ‘thank you’ simply doesn’t cut it. Because it is more than just a book. It is feeling supported and cherished by someone who means the world to me, someone I spend each day feeling undeserving of, someone who has made my life exponentially better simply by being a part of it. It is this tangible thing I can look at on my dresser, I can hold between my hands, and be reminded a hundred times a day of the feeling of knowing you. It is this material manifestation of the power of love and friendship. It is this physical entity I can point to and think Sam. It is the perfect housewarming gift because it makes me feel home.
And even though ‘thank you’ is far too small, I thank you, Simon Lane Rogers, from the bottom of my heart for all that you are and have been and will be. I thank you for everything you’ve done for me, given me, shared with me. I thank you for your intellect and wisdom and warmheartedness. I thank you for your creativity and wit and compassion. I thank you for seeing in me things that I cannot see for myself, for believing in me, for loving me. I thank you for letting me love you. And I thank you for being in my life. I am so much better for knowing you.
I considered sending you a thank you card, but it wouldn’t encompass my gratitude. I considered saying ‘I love you’ -- arguably the most powerful words in all of existence -- but it's simply not enough.