Tuesday, June 29, 2010

an allegory of a weekend ahead

"Three more days,
Girl ya know I will be comin' home to ya Darlin'"
-Ray Lamontagne

In this story, we'll refer to her as "Sarah". We'll start when she grabbed my hand as we walked out of a movie theater. Summer was in full swing and I couldn't have been happier. My bank account was empty, my sweat glands were working overtime in the Texas heat, and somehow my heart was full. There wasn't much to say about the movie we had just seen, but I'm probably the worst person to ask. My attention was fully off the screen for the entire 90 minutes and fully on the girl next to me. She smelled like strawberries and her warmth of personality was slowly and gently encompassing me. This wasn't the first movie we had seen together. Far from it actually. We were approaching the four year mark of knowing each other. A four year process that has been leading me to this enraptured state. Every day with her was a smile. Every argument with her that resolved so easily was a poem. She was my muse. She was my home. So you can imagine my elation as the cup was flying from my hand to the trash can, her hand took its place. I looked at her with surprised happy eyes and her smile told me "This is where we've both been headed, and I'm glad we're finally here." That was the beginning of a journey that we're now on and it's been a good ride. It's sure to remain so.

[now imagine that that girl is Marfa, TX and you'll know my feelings about what this weekend will be for me as I'm unplugged from the city]

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

an attempt to shift the scales

i'm searching for inspiration when days like today happen. there's no denying that Life happens around us, but it's pretty easy to deny that it's happening in us. i got a note today from someone that sent me to places i haven't been in a long time in my head. but this is what's ultimately come of it, so as not to bore you with the ridiculous details of the situation:

for all the days i've been on this earth, i've yet to shift the balance on the scale of selfish vs. selfless. the selfish side has been closer to the ground for, well, all my life. but as i get older i'm attempting to throw some of the weight off of this side and get the selfless part of me fat. i see it in my father, in my mother, and in so many of the people i love, this selfless living towards me. and it pains me to think... well, let me explain...

i'm going through a book with some great people right now called The Return of the Prodigal Son - A Story of Homecoming by Henri Nouwen. we met last night about it and discussed which of the three main characters of the story we saw ourselves as. i confessed i felt like the younger son who left home to pursue pleasure and wealth and frivolity. but that i felt i was on my way back home. the other characters, the older son, who resented his younger brother for leaving, squandering his inheritance, and putting his family through torment, and the Father who welcomed his son home with no question, just a party. both the sons have their hurdles to get over. their issues to deal with. and surely the father was in anguish the entire time his son was gone. still, he threw him a party when he returned. this kind of selfless love i just cannot understand. the act seems so simple, but the toll it must take on your being to live in such a way seems very costly.

but its where i want to be.

this note today was a glimpse that i may have been on this side of things, the selfless side, for one of the first times in my life. possibly. i felt as though i was living like i was towards them, and then... well the inheritance was taken and they're gone. so now, on this side, i feel the pain of not being considered. too many times have i done that to others. TOO many. so many that i see when i'm doing it and make an effort to stop. hence the scale shifting goal. but from here, i feel the pain of rejection in spite of so many efforts to love well.

so i'm hoping that as i continue this journey towards becoming like the Father, that maybe the pain will subside a little. or least i'll be given the grace to withstand it.

i read a great quote today that i'll leave you with:

"In life, as in the dance, grace glides on blistered feet." -Alice Abrams

Monday, June 14, 2010

Sam Cooke, Julie Jones and Marfa

"i was born by the river
in a little tent
and just like the river i've been runnin'
ever since

it's been a long, a long time comin'
but i know a change gon' come

oh yes it will"
-Sam Cooke

and now to quote a question i asked my great friend just a few moments ago: have you ever felt like you wanted your life to be different? not that what it is now is bad, but just that you want it to change? well, in the midst of the conversation that question started, i think i realized a couple of things. and here they are for you reading pleasure.

i believe i have a good life. i'm blessed in so many ways that are too numerous to list here, but just know: i'm rich in all ways. but my ability to recognize that in the midst of the busyness i put myself in has become weak. if i could look at my life and my world with fresh eyes i think i could more easily recognize how amazing it is. this leads me to the next thought this conversation led to...

this 2 is 2 fold. part a: i need to say "no" more. the busyness that begins to feel routine and thus weigh me down is more in my social life than otherwise. the inability to say no mixed with a conviction to keep my word makes for a pretty unhealthy me after a while. but i still believe, and this is part b: that if i learn to better spread myself, socially and otherwise, i will still need moments to escape. thus my number 3...

tonight i will go to my parents house [which is not visited by me nearly enough] and relax. then in July, i will go to Marfa, TX with some of my best friends and just be. no cell phone. no internet. just Marfa and my friends. what better way to celebrate independence day than to be freed from my slavery to connection? i'll fill you in on that as it comes to pass. i'm sure i will have plenty to write about once i'm back.

i'm thankful for these things today: Julie, my parents living close, and my literacy.

Friday, June 11, 2010

old is the new new

this was one of the first string of words i put together in my head this morning after i woke up. i know you know what i mean. you wake up in a stupor and stumble with atrophied legs towards your bathroom. at this point you only have instincts. language isn't dictating your actions or even thoughts. for a brief moment after leaving sleep we are thoughtless zombies. walking dead.

or maybe that's just me...

regardless, this morning as i was coming out of my zombie me, the first words i had were "old is the new new." my life (and yours if you pay attention) has been infiltrated by phrases and sayings like a paper wall in a hurricane. par exemple:

"its a [place band name here] kinda day."
"white is the new black."

(just to name a couple. i could go into my thoughts about that first one, but i've already vented my peeves so i'll withhold those thoughts and move right along.)

phrases come in and they go out. how many times did you say "eat my shorts" after Bart did the first time? and now? you don't even think about that phrase do you? how about "tickled pink"? maybe ask your mom about that one.

all these phrases that are here then gone, it got me thinking about how fluid words can be. i think there is a lot of stigma placed on certain words. some people don't like to hear them, be it for their meaning (original or slang), or just the sound of it scratches its nails on their minds chalkboard. still other words are so easily tossed around that we never consider them threatening or at the least, important.

who decides how powerful, hurtful, helpful, or gruesome a word is?

we do.

i can hear words like shit and hear a funny word, a strong word, or a bad word, depending on the situation. my grandmother can hear the same word and always hear a bad word, no matter the situation. some of us decide to put the stigma on the words themselves rather than their usage. and personally, i don't want to do that. i'll let you decide for yourself what you want to do, but for me, words are just letters that we have decided represent sounds that our mouths can make which reflect our world around us. words are not evil. words are not Satan. Adam and Eve surely must've been able to communicate with each other, and in what language i don't know. i imagine it being a beautiful language that God actually spoke audibly as He walked in the garden with them. but then sin entered the garden and started a ripple effect of destruction and death. one of the results of the sin was our ability to believe we can become our own gods. that we don't need the One who created us. that was seen easily in the story of Babel. in a stroke of grace and genius, God "confused" the world by creating different languages. you may see this act as cruel and greedy. God says Himself in the story that if man, with a single language, can build a tower to heaven, nothing would be impossible for them. but if God is God, then we can't be. and maybe he saw us believing we could be and stopped it for our own sake. now, i don't know enough about the theology of this story to get too deep into its meaning and consequences, but something that sticks out to me is the birth of multiple languages.

[pause and reset]

[now breathe]

we are all confused. look at us: there's war. there's hunger. there's death. we're trying to stop all these things, which is noble, but a mission that will likely not come to fruition in our lifetime. we should keep going, but also realize where we are. how does this apply to our words?

glad you asked.

we're all in the same sinking boat together. we're throwing buckets of water overboard every minute. we're attempting to survive. why in the hell would we stop to argue about the fact that i just said "why in the hell"? if you have a problem with certain words, and i don't already know about it, tell me. i don't say "shit" in front of my parents because i know they don't like the word. the word itself coming out of my mouth speaks nothing to my state of faith or ability to love well. but it scratches its nails on my parents minds chalkboards, so i don't say it, in hopes of maintaining my ability to love well.

words can be powerful or hurtful, helpful or gruesome, so figure out where words are those things and chose wisely which ones you use.

Monday, June 7, 2010


Our lives are seduced daily into becoming outsiders looking in. Always that and never insiders living and dying. Just observers. Watchers. Lifeless decor.

Think about your favorite TV show or your favorite movie. You can look onto the story with a knowledge that the characters don't have. Or at least don't have all of. They each only have their inside vantage point from which to view the story. It seems limited and perhaps scary.

[but why wouldn't we rather be in the story]