30 December 2012

Monuments Beneath the Arbor

 The first time they tell you that the world's turning you just can't quite believe it because everything looks like it's standing still. I can feel it. The turn of the Earth. The ground beneath our feet is spinning at a thousand miles an hour. And the entire planet is hurtling around the sun at sixty-seven thousand miles an hour and I can feel it. We're falling through space, you and me. Clinging to the skin of this tiny little world and if we let go...

If you haven't gathered by now, I'm rather fond of the Decemberists. Of course, by "rather fond" I actually mean ready and willing to bellow rough approximations of their wondrous melodies whenever and where ever possible. Shower, bus stop, trails, it makes no matter. There is always a Decemberists' song to fit the occasion. While I am especially fond of their album The Hazards of Love, their most recent album is mayhaps my second favorite. Or maybe it's actually Picaresque. Or what about The Crane Wife? Not being able to decide on my favorite album by one of my favorite groups is such a first world problem.

But anyways. The King is Dead. It came out in 2011, and while I've been listening to it year-round for almost two years now, I still somehow associate it with the change of summer to autumn. This is mostly the fault of "Don't Carry it All." You can go listen to it here while you finish reading. This song sounds golden and orange and brilliant blue and brown all at once. It hints at the death of a moment, the rebirth of something new, and our endless track around the sun.

Here we come to a turning of the seasons,
Witness to the arc toward the sun...

I have three days left in my corner of the world. Three days to go walking in the rain, to shiver when the lurking chill catches up to me, three days to soak in as much of my old life as I can. I say "old life" because, as I've mentioned before, January 1st, 2013, marks a monumental shift in the direction of my life. I have no idea what may await me. I don't know if I'll like what I find. And I know, for certain, without a hint of doubt, that I will miss you all.

We are all travelers, if not through space then at least through time. Right now, I am living in a state of apprehension. Everyone's path is different, and I don't want our paths to diverge, never to meet again. I'm apprehensive that my new traveling companions will not replace what I'm losing for six months. I'm apprehensive that my new traveling companions will replace what I'm losing. I don't like change - what was I thinking to get myself into this?

If I'm really honest with myself, though, I have been operating under a delusion. There is no "status quo." There is no comfortable state of being that will continue in stasis while I am away. There is no true "here" to return to. The past few months, I've been pulling the wool over my own eyes, avoiding bringing my friendships to cross-roads where changes could occur. And yet, last night (at what was essentially my  last public encounter) I realized that such tipping points have happened without my knowledge.

We all travel through time, and there is no stopping the clock. Much as I would like to freeze moments in time - walking through the waning summer day with friends, caroling in a sketchy area of town, sitting around a campfire listening to my beloved friends havering - those moments will never happen again except in my memory. And combined with those moments of warmth are the regrets. Things I've said or haven't, people I should have reached out to, opportunities that should have been seized. Memory is imperfect, memory is joyous and painful and bittersweet and it frightens me that, come July, I will have memories which you are not in.

We're falling through space, you and me. Clinging to the skin of this tiny little world and if we let go...

For [s]he did not know that beyond the lake [s]he called home lies a deeper darker ocean green, where waves are both wilder and more serene. 

 I'm facing an ocean whose far shore I cannot see. A great unknown, but unlike others that I've faced before, I have no companions to face the dark at my side.  Behind me are the lights and fires and warmth and comfort of home, familiarity and family and friends all keeping each other company on this cold night in the lonesome December.

You could say I've gotten my wish. I am climbing, higher, higher than I've ever dared before. And I cannot look down, I cannot look back. If stop now, I may never have the courage to continue. This is a one way rollercoaster that only goes up - but only so long as I don't look down.

Oh, my friends, I will miss you so! I will miss you like skin misses the warmth of sunshine. I have been so blessed to sojourn with you, and my biggest regret is that we have not the time. I am a creature made for eternity, and this accursed temporal nature is foreign, uncomfortable.

Winter is coming. The cold has well and truly caught me. I can feel it in my bones, in my core, in my soul. It is invigorating, lively, killing my apathy and forcing me higher. But the cold also chases away warmth. And I'm caught between the two, loving and despising them at the same time. If I remain in the warmth, I start my descent into the valley of maturity, apathy, and complacency. If I let the cold embrace me and run away across the deeper, darker ocean green, what I leave behind is more than just a handful of family and friends - I leave behind a sizeable chunk of myself. The trail winds ever higher, alluring and frigid and beckoning me come further up.

But at what cost? These currents are pulling me in toward shore, out to sea, but through it all, I can hear the cry of the gulls. Come on and wade out into the water, for you're drowning on dry land.

The water is tugging at my ankles, rising and hinting at uncertainties. As I looked back one last time last night, I committed to memory all that will be left behind, but not discarded.

So, friends, compatriots, co-conspirators, lovelies, raise your glasses with me.To days gone by, and to turnings of the season. To winter's fall, to summer's freckled knees, to deeper darker oceans and to letting go, to traveling gypsies and the mountain passes.

Kind friends and companions, come join me in rhyme
Come lift up your voices in chorus with mine
Let us drink and be merry, all grief to refrain
For we may and might never all meet here again


26 December 2012

A piece of unimportant news

Hello again. It's nice to see you all again. I apologize for the failure of posts in the past few weeks. What with the packing, the cooking, the planning of parties, the working, the trying to record a college audition, the losing of minds and the reconnecting with old friends, I haven't had the time nor interest to blog.

You see, it's awfully redundant to blog about something you've already talked about with someone in real life.

Well, my lovelies, I have six days left in the States. Six days. You read that correctly.

I'll be abroad for six months, and expect to have plenty of exciting adventures and challenges during my absence. However, I don't want to burden followers who read for my thoughts with the relatively inane "Today I tried [x] exotic food and thought [y]." For that reason, I'm popping over here to let you know - I am opening a second blog for my traveling experiences, while keeping this one full of pure and unpolluted Whimsyness.

Sounds like fun?

The blog can be found here: http://ridingthermals.blogspot.com/

I might update It's Raining this weekend. But then again, I might not. Who knows?  My next thoughtful post could very well be from Down Under.

02 December 2012

There's a Place

I know we come to,
There's a field somewhere,
There are many ways to take you,
I will meet you there.

Kind readers, you may recall that over this summer, I read a particular book three times in the course of two weeks. That book, The Fault in our Stars, makes quite a few good observations. However, the one that stands out to me today us about the nature of intimacy.

Throughout the book, Hazel Grace and her friend Augustus have many conversations on the phone. Not those awkward, I just called you and now have nothing to say conversations, but the sort that feel as if both conversants have somehow meet in a third location, separate from the two physical locations they occupy. The sort of conversation where they can say a single word that speaks volumes. The sort of conversation that cannot be forced or recreated by design.

A dialogue, if you will.

I've been listening to a band called Brother a lot recently. You could say they are an independent band. You could say they embrace the ugly ducklings of music. You could call them Celtic, and none of these would be inaccurate. For those of you not in on the secret, Brother specializes in tribal fusion: didgeridoos and bagpipes have never sounded so good with electric guitar and a synthesizer.

Here's what you need to do right now: follow this finely crafted link to the Brother website, and when the automatic player pops up, click through until it plays A Thousand Ways. Listen to the song, then pass go and collect a thousand dollars for your good taste in music.
I'll wait for you, don't worry.



Back?  Congratulations, you are now officially a mongrel.
A Thousand Ways talks about a universal place existing outside of the purely physical realm that is open to all who wish to enter. Don't believe me? Go back and listen to it again. That'll do.
Now, it's entirely plausible they are speaking of something entirely different, with more to do about the continuance of the human species, but it is important to remember that in the realm of art, the meaning the listener ascribes to a piece is just as valid as the creator's intent, if not as accurate.
This song reminds me of the egalitarian nature of ideas. The great equalizer is not the government. It's not tolerance. It is found at the cross, but it can also be found in a discourse.

You may recall my post from a few weeks ago, covering a range of topics from community to conversations. Remember, dear friends, that I am a glutton for good conversation. In this particular post, I spoke briefly of the way the I feel after a good conversation. There is a sort of liveliness, energy, and exuberance that follows such a rousing discussion. Being the person I am, I have not rested until I've come up with a  good enough theory to explain this unusual phenomenon. And here's what I think.

In life, we face many inequalities. Inequality of money is the first that comes to mind, but there are others. While some in the public school system may say otherwise, there is a definite inequality in intelligence. This is not to be judgemental or eugenic in any way, but it certainly true that some people have the capacity for higher levels of thought than others. For instance, I could never replicate the sort of hypothetical thinking that led Einstein to formulate his theories of relativity.

There is inequality of beauty - some people can clearly be acknowledged as good-looking, while others are ... not. Inequality of personality or likeability, or how popular people can make themselves. Inequality of social skills, as demonstrated by the people who feel comfortable interacting with a variety of others.

And then there's inequality of confidence.  How confident am I in the person that I am? Now, make all the jokes you want about insecure female bloggers, but I definitely fall into that category. Not entirely, but there is definitely a part of me that is insecure. But then again, who in this planet isn't? The wonderful and mind-blowing GK Chesterton once observed that the only people who truly believe in themselves are the mad men.

But I digress.

We face inequality wherever we go, whether it's in fortune or favor or fascination or fate. Point being, there is always some reason to feel unworthy. There will always be someone more beautiful, more intelligent, more charismatic, more influential than you are. Where things get funny is that for some (literally) unearthly reason, humans rebel at the notion that we are not equal.

That's how you run into entitlement mentality, that the world somehow OWES you something because of how you look or where you were born or how much money is in your bank account. It's our attempt to validate our own experience. We want to be equal, even though in this broken planet, it's impossible.

Let me take you on a short trip into philosophy. In Ancient Greece, there was a smart guy called Plato. Now, Plato was a professional philosopher - funnily enough, philosophers earned a living in Greece by teaching the rich's children the arts of rhetoric and reason. So Plato wrote a lot of books on philosophy, and in one of them he brings up what we now call The Analogy Of the Cave. Note those capital letters.

A gross oversimplification of The Analogy Of the Cave goes like this. Say a man has lived his whole life chained facing the wall of a deep, dark, dank cave. Behind the man are objects that cast shapes onto the wall of the cave that the man constantly looks at. Now, the man in the cave would know only one reality: he certainly sees objects, and they appear to be the ultimate reality to him. However, what he sees are only the shadows of their real selves.

Say the man were to escape from his bonds. When he turns around, he would be startled to discover that the shadows on the wall were NOT ultimate reality as he formerly supposed, but actually rough representations of the true Ultimate Reality. That he's been living in a sort of Shadowland the entire time, but never knew it.

Sound familiar, anyone? Remember, Paul was a classically educated Roman citizen. For now we see through a screen darkly...

But back to the point. The point is this. Ideas exist outside of our physical lives the way the objects in the cave existed out of the man's personal experience. We are influenced by them, and may even think we've discovered them. Ultimately, though, we all are as new-comers in the realm of Platonic Ideals. No one can truly be said to have an edge when it comes to ideas. True, one may have discovered more of them for oneself, but that is meaningless when another discovers the same idea.

For example, a friend and I were talking recently when said friend started describing what was termed the "Universality of Ideas and Metaphors." On closer inspection, the friend had basically described the whole concept of Platonic Ideals without ever having heard of The Analogy Of the Cave before. This was an exciting conversation, because while I had already discovered what this friend was describing, the friend was still grasping onto its significance. And as my friend talked, I started thinking about Platonic Ideals in an entirely different reason.

I feel like I'm not explaining this well, so I'll try it in a different way.

Conversations make me feel warm and fuzzy and covered in Ewok hugs because they are truly equalizing: No one can be said to have a really important inequality in a conversation. True, someone may have more or less information than the other, a conversation is an exchange. It's a dialogue. A discussion. A give-and-take that flows like the tides and can never be duplicated. You can never lose in a conversation; you can grow and be challenged and forced to change. But you can never exit a discussion and say "Wow, I feel so bad about myself because I now know something I didn't know before."

There's a place I know we come to, because I've been there before.

There's a thousand ways to take you, and we will meet there under the stars glittering in the heavens and listen to the ululations of the didgeridoos as we clutch mugs of tea to ourselves and discourse until the dawn starts sweeping the eves of the sky.

20 November 2012

I Confide in Wolves at Night

Ever since posting about my recurring nightmare, a certain part of my brain has been working overtime, trying to figure out some form of damage control. After all, you can't just end a post with "Yes, I'm a sick person" and then expect to have any followers the next day. So here's my explanation for why I find this nightmare so intriguing.

Let me preface this by saying that I am not a brave person. I've read plenty of books about plucky young heroines, captured by the Supreme Evil Bad Guy, "enhanced-ly interrogated" for information, who somehow gather the nerve to say bitingly witty and hilariously sarcastic one-liners in face of ongoing pain. "Hey, I think you missed a spot. There's some room here in my leg." Or the lovely young sidekick who tracks across the whole of the Universe with an epic Gentleman Adventurer, getting into scrapes and out of them just fine - and not always with the help of the main character. Or the girl who gets an adrenaline makeover - frumpy and nerdy before the fight, but in moments of crisis, she suddenly reveals unknown powers of awesome and, as it turns out, an unexpected hotness upgrade.

... Yeah, that's not me. I find the prospect of physical pain frightening - I would be talking before they knew the questions. While my persona may be of a self-controlled young lady, I know the truth. I am much more breakable than I would care to be. I am weak.

The reason that I find my nightmare fascinating is because it traps me between the person I am and the person I want to be. 

Like most recurring dreams, it comes with multiple iterations. I've already told you about the most common- in the warehouse, by myself, trapped into a predetermined outcome that I am too frightened to fight. The scary aspects are easy enough to identify: being hunted, the intense pain that comes before the end, the alien nature of the Wolf Pack, and the most of all, the Mist. But "scary" doesn't make a dream a nightmare. A nightmare is truly terrifying - the intense, sociopathic, true-born son of fear.

Fear is watching "The Thing" late at night in the winter. Terror is waking up to find the Thing physically in your room. Fear is imagining what Gollum looks like. Terror is discovering Goll -- I mean my brother -- crawling over the foot of your bed muttering about twisting neckses. Fear can occasionally be entertaining; Terror is the clammy feeling of millions of wet spiders dancing on your spinal cord.

What is truly terrifying in my nightmare is how I effectively become a passive observer in my own dream.

One of the most pivotal moments of the dream are the events surrounding the finding of the Vivacious Friend. The one that the Fog ate. The one in physical suffering who is no longer a person. This friend is technically vital, but not truly alive. This moment is perhaps the most terrifying in the entire nightmare, because this is the point I become powerless in the dream. Effectively, I become two persons in the dream - what I'll refer to as Dream-Me and Lucid-Me. Dream-Me is the one moving, running, acting. Lucid-Me is the voice in Dream-Me's head screaming that this is the wrong move, the wrong way to run, the wrong action.

As I said, this moment is terrifying because as Dream-Me stumbles upon the Vivacious Friend, Lucid-Me knows exactly what will happen, and has already started screaming. Dream-Me, in an attempt to relieve the Vivacious Friend's suffering and stop the Friend's eyes from haunting Dream-Me's thoughts, attempts to kill the Vivacious Friend. Lucid-Me, the part that knows this is wrong, has absolutely no power to stop it. In my dream, I can only watch myself. I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream.

Occasionally, Dream-Me leaves the Vivacious Friend alone, but then the Wolf Pack catches up to my trail and finds the Friend. You know what happens next.

In a dream, time is more open to interpretation, though not negotiation. It loops back on itself or jumps erratically between events. Whichever poor decision I make with the Friend, dream-time replays it over and over again, subtly changing the scene everytime into worse and worse outcomes. 

This iteration is horrifying because of my complete, utter helplessness. I have the will to save my loved ones, but ultimately, posses not the means to save even myself. I wake up feeling like Ralph at the end of the Lord of the Flies, only there is no navy captain to save us. 

I mentioned there are other iterations. The other ones again twist and distort my empathy into a terrible weapon instead of what it is supposed to be. Sometimes, instead of entering the warehouse by myself, I have a companion. This companion is usually another distorted version of a dear friend. They invariably are both stronger and weaker than I am. For instance, they may be able to kill the Wolf Pack but cannot walk. Or are immune to the Mist but blind and deaf. And it is no longer my goal to save myself and as many of my friends as I can. When I have that other person with me, it is my duty to save everyone before even thinking of saving myself. 

I am always presented with the perfect opportunity to buy the entire set of loved ones a few precious minutes by distracting the Wolf Pack, but I never do because I decide I can't bear to part from them sooner than absolutely necessary. The focus has changed, but I fail just as miserably as ever.

Ultimately, the Wolves at Night play off of my frustrations and fear of inadequacy. Not inadequacy at life, but at Living.

We are caught in the in-between
Of who we already are and who we're meant to be.
We're looking for love, but finding we're still in need.
It's only what we've lost will we be allowed to keep.     

In my daily life, I am not the person I wish I were. I want to be so much more - more compassionate, more Christ-like, more understanding. I want to be the sort of person anyone could call at 3 am because they needed someone to listen. I want to be the person you can trust. I want to be safe, merciful, humble, willing, generous. But I am not that person, not when push comes to shove. I'm still selfish. I become angry. I am scared. I'm self-centered, not God-centered.

I've been having this nightmare ever since I was called on a long-ish term mission a year-and-a-half ago. It throws that incompleteness in my face. The two people I become in the dream are both perverted versions of myself. They are both afraid of the future, of the unknown, of making the wrong decision. They both try to do things on their own. They both try to save their friends, their loved ones but they fail.

I am looking to save love, but finding I'm still in need. I'm afraid that by literally dying to myself to save those I love, I will not be able to keep them with me.

There is a  tension we have to live with - that we are not who we will be. The knowledge that I can never save myself, that I will never help others on my own steam, these are all elements within my nightmare. Above all else, I am a control freak, and it's not easy to turn over control to the One who has already saved me from the warehouse.

Because while I may like to think the warehouse exists only in my dreams,  I live in it every moment of every day. 


17 November 2012

Wolves at Night

I was intending on writing a different post this morning. I really was. It was about turquoise and silver. It would have been fascinating. However, when I logged in to start writing, I stopped to catch up on my blog list. And then I read this little gem.

Argentum is talking about The Wolf, a nightmarish creature who has a propensity for following him on dark nights. It's deliciously creepy, more than a tad bit frightening, and definitely not something I want to think about while closing up the shop at nights. After reading this post, I was reminded of a recurring dream on my part. Because almost nothing I do is original, I figured I may as well abandon originality entirely and share a memory.

When I was little, I had exactly one nightmare. I would be flying through a gigantic, never-ending canyon in a little red hover pod, and the construction equipment mounted on the sides of the canyon would try to destroy my little ship. This dream has long since stopped terrifying me, and for years I had no recurring nightmares. The scary dreams I had would almost always turn into lucid dreams where I ended up choosing my own ending and parachuting off a cliff away from the danger or something similar.

That time of relatively non-scary dreams ended about a year-and-a-half ago, when I fell asleep one night and found myself in an infinite warehouse. It has no walls or freezer section, and has fallen into disrepair. The electricity doesn't work. It is icy cold. Rows and rows and rows of rusting metal struts rise into the gloom. Fog drifts across the floor, sluggish and spotty, and you know that if you walk into the fog, you may never return.

When I arrive, I am by myself in the middle of a break in the shelves. I have a flashlight whose batteries are almost dead. The fog begins glowing a vibrant, glorious orange. My flashlight dies, and in the gloom, I can see the fog crawling across the floor, and I know that I must not let it touch me. I turn to run, when I hear it. In the indeterminate distance, a wolf howls. As the echoes die away in the distance, I hear something worse: Footsteps.

At this point, I am running madly through the night, avoiding the light that gives away the fog's presence. And there - something moves behind a strut. I spin toward it. There is a knife in my hand, and I grip it tightly. My best friend steps out from behind me. She's a bloody mess. As I turn toward her, another movement flashes in the corner of my eye - another close friend. I am surrounded by the people I care most about, and none of them in good condition. No one talks. As I tense, ready to defend myself, a growl comes from off-screen. We turn as one, and a monstrous shape looms out of the approaching fog. You can't see much - just enough to know that whatever it is, it's not good.

We split and run, individually, through the warehouse. We begin disappearing. As we run into each other occasionally in the gloom, we try to figure out who's left. We can't. It's confusion. As the dream progresses, it becomes increasingly clear that if the wolves don't get you, the fog will. The wolves aren't too bad. They just destroy the body, leaving bloody paw prints and scraps of tissue behind. The fog, though. The fog destroys you. I find a friend who was caught by the fog. He is impaled on a strut - but still alive in the most basic sense. There is no expression - no pain, no intelligence, no response. Just mute suffering. I kill him because I cannot stand to see the vacant expression of a once-so-expressive friend.

I wander the warehouse for twelve hours, finding more and more bodies - or at least their blood. I find what is left of my best friend - the fog got to her and she's drawing pictures with someone's blood on the floor. I'm trying to help her in whatever way I can, when I hear the steps. Wolves encircle me, back-lit by the glowing fog. It's going to be a close one - which way will I go?  As I reconcile myself to the inevitable, a raven flies overhead. I look up to follow the flight of the bird, and a flash of the most intense pain blinds me. Everything goes black. Maybe it was the wolves; maybe the fog - I wake up without knowing what got me in the end.

Ultimately, the warehouse scares me not because my outcome is predetermined, but because I am so frightened myself that I cannot help my friends. We are hunted through a limitless trap, and if I had just a little more presence of mind, I wouldn't be closing the eyelids on so many of my friends.

But at the same time, a part of me enjoys this dream. It's becoming more lucid - I have more control over my actions rather than passively watching. But I've never escaped the warehouse alive. I've never known why the raven shows up. I never know if I die bodily or spiritually. There's a mad adrenaline in the fear of that greatest unknown. Some of the best interactions I've ever had with people have been when they've entered the warehouse with me.

Yes, I'm a sick person.

12 November 2012

A Crack in the Ice

There is something terribly evocative about 2 am on a cold, autumnal night. It's a time most sane folk would be abed, snuggled up in mounds of blankets to keep the chill out of their dreams. It's quiet, unnaturally so, and beautiful, oh so beautiful. The apple tree outside is just barely visible through the gloom. And here I sit, trying to explain an idea that's been going around for some time.

Have you ever had a thought that keeps haunting you for a significant amount of time, but when you try to remember what it is, you can't? That's what has happened with this one. I touched on it briefly in conversations with two different friends, and then promptly forgot it when I tried to write it down. But I think I may have grasped the elusive thought this morning.

I am an incredibly judgmental person. Now, before you go on to say that I'm not or some other such false nicety, you are entitled to know the truth. While what comes out of my mouth may not sound bad, I am entirely capable of scathing criticisms within the privacy of my own mind. This comes, in part, from the fact that I am incredibly opinionated - no more so than on the issues of the Arts and Christians witnessing in a secular culture. Those two issues will, without a doubt, cause some internal diatribe if I hear someone disagreeing with me.

But more on that later.

I also know what I like. I've been accused of collecting people the way some people collect stamps. Rather than having "true friends" I tend to surround myself with interesting people to observe and interact with. While this is a gross-overstatement, it is true to a smaller extent. I like my friends to be thought-provoking, and the best people to provoke thoughts are the ones who are not like me. This goes back to my addiction to conversations.

See, I like to hear other people talk, because I learn a lot about them. "Them" is interesting, so I want them to share their opinions and thoughts and dreams and, basically, their essence. Every good conversation divulges a little about the participants, and I love that slow unfolding of a personality. This desire for genuineness extends into my taste in blogs.

Now, before I go any further, I'd like to ask you to postpone your judgment on how much of a jerk I am until you've read the entire post. Your cooperation is appreciated.

There are a lot of blogs out there written by Christian young women that are essentially daily/biweekly/weekly/monthly devotional sites. The are polished and precise like the brain behind a gun should be, but I'm living in some kind of ecstasy and rational and often read very much like CS Lewis and there is nothing so theologically wrong with them that I have any reasonable reason for disliking them as much as I do. In fact, they are great displays of the strength of belief that the author(ess) possesses. More power to them for posting it online.

However, I cannot bring myself to read these sorts of blogs, because when I do, I feel as if I'm reading an exhibit intended to show off the authoress's spiritual prowess. Like the blog is more about giving a mighty fine showing of Christianity. The constant spiritual content overwhelms me and off-puts me, because rather than seeing a person writing their thoughts down in an almost permanent medium, I see someone showing off. I seldom post about my convictions, but when I do, it's always heart-felt. When I read these devotional blogs, part of my realizes that I would never be able to continuously upload that content without delving into fake reserves of spirituality and sanctification. Thus, I deem the posts fake and ostentatious and not something I'd like to read in the morning before heading to work.

But if I'm being perfectly honest with myself, I feel like a really bad person as well. If it's true that the mouth speaks out of the fullness of the heart, then what does that say about the contrast between a devotional blog author and me? What if these posts are genuinely meant and the devote, polite, well-spoken and reasonably well-educated author is actually like that in real life? Not only do I become the biggest jerk on the planet, but that would also imply that my daily testimony is insufficient and lacking. After all, I'm not a good enough Christian to be able to post multiple devotional blogs every month. I don't even manage one per month, as it is. So the fullness of the heart influences the mouth -  Polished Anonymous Christian Bloggers: + 1,000,000,000,000,000, Me: -0.

Not just that, but operating on the assumption that these blogs are the genuine article, why do I not enjoy them? You'd think that any true Christian would want to read spiritually uplifting content in the morning before going to work at a job where the boss is constantly ragging on Christians. Why do I not enjoy writing these blog posts myself? Do I not have a firm grip on the joy of the Lord?

These thoughts have been swirling around and around in my head, and here's the best conclusion I've been able to come to.

The Bible talks about various spiritual gifts and callings. It's clear that some people are called to be pastors or apostles or evangelists, the list goes on. Even today, some Christians feel called to wave signs and march on the State Capital and hold banners above crowded freeways. That approach has always rubbed me the wrong way - While it is true that laws "legislate morality" by enforcing certain standards of conduct, it is impossible to write a law that dictates what morality people subscribe to in their hearts. It's safe to say that I do not feel that calling at all, and have not the inclination to wave banners for the cause.

Yet, when I see a man panhandling on the side of the road, or walk past a very clearly mentally-ill person in the city, my heart breaks. I want to cry, I want to act, I want to scream at all the fortunate people going on with their daily lives while ignoring the oppressed because ignobility makes us uncomfortable. And then I shove a couple of ones toward the pan handler and wish I could do something more. What's more, it really, really ticks me off that some Christians do not feel that level of commitment to the poor and the outcasts of the world. In all likelihood, this is the same frustration the politically active feel towards me when I decline to wave signs or join their march on Olympia.

As near as I can tell, God created every personality uniquely. Everyone's essence is separate, describing them and them alone. God wants to use us to work His will, but not to the destruction of the person He created us to be - if He wanted His will without that uniquely human element, He could avoid all the troubles of humanity and just use angels. They're more reliable. ;) So persons are unique, and God purposes our persons to specific tasks. To some, He gives the desire to encourage other Christians. To some, He gives the desire to reach out to non-Christians. Regardless, God uses imperfect, eminently personable people to work His will in different areas.

That style of blogging doesn't do anything for me -- it clearly works wonders for others. My care for today's "widows and orphans" doesn't reach everyone I meet -- but it doesn't have to. It only has to motivate the one meant to hear.

So should I guilt myself into enjoying devotional blogs? Probably not, but knowing me, I'll continue to do it anyway. Should I continue passing out harsh judgment on them? No, and I'll have to struggle to be more open and understanding.

Ultimately, it comes down to this analogy my dad is fond of using. Heaven, he says, is going to be like the greatest jazz jam session ever - full of improvisations and personal touches on the same celestial theme. The instruments will all reflect that Melody through their work, but each one will approach it from a different standpoint.

I'll take a longer-term comfort from that, but in the meantime, I'm going to need all the grace I can get. :)

03 November 2012

A Significant Gesture

I have just realized this post directly relates to the importance of Rumpelstiltskin. Hah. Funny how my mind works.

Gesture: Noun; A movement of part of the body, esp. a hand or the head, to express an idea or meaning: "so much is conveyed by gesture."

In the field of music, the smallest unit of musical significance is the gesture. Larger than a single note, smaller than a phrase, the gesture is a series of moving tones which impact the melody and mood of a piece. Granted, this is my poor, short - hand attempt to describe a much more complicated piece of theory, but I imagine most of my dear readers have neither the time nor inclination to learn all the nuances of gestures in music. For instance, the first four notes of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony can be considered as a gesture forming the first part of his opening phrase.

In communication, a gesture is a physical movement that conveys significance to the accompanying words. "May the LORD do so to me," means little without the gesture illustrating what "doing so " looks like. Above all, a gesture is subtle. It is not the text, it can be context. Or subtext. Or the just an illustration. It is meaningful, but only when combined to form a phrase.

When I perform a piece of music, my attention is split between shaping phrases and creating meaningful gestures. However, if I do my job correctly, the listeners do not hear short little snippets of melody strung together like a four - year- old's bead necklace: rather, they hear long, fluid phrases flowing together to form a unified whole.

To a certain degree, gestures meaningful only when hidden. Like a secret, the gesture put on display loses it's original meaning and shifts the power more into the audience's hands -is the subtlety worth our attention? Should it live on as a meme or GIF or die on the authority of public opinion? It is worthwhile to note here that a gesture may be intended for a receiver without becoming a display - when I ask my father to help me treat my mother, I do it for her sake (a gesture), rather than for his (a display).

Because the meaning of a gesture is implicit rather than explicit, I hesitate to use this next example to illustrate. The gesture in question occurred on my birthday, and I could have quite easily crowed about it on Facebook that night and turned it into a big display. I am worried that by sharing the event I will lose its personal meaning and turn it into just another Big Fish story. But here goes.

My family went hiking in the Cascade Mountains for my birthday. The Cascades are, in part, named for their abundance of streams and creeks flowing off the snow line. So there we are, hiking alongside of a creek bed. Thursday and I hiked down off the trail (following Leave No Trace principles, yes) and into the rocky creek. Walking upstream, we had fun jumping on and off of rocks and over fallen trees, just for the heck of it. However, we soon reached a point where the trail was on top of a cliff, and the stream on the bottom. Not wanting to backtrack, I found a fallen tree that ran from the bottom of the stream to the top of the cliff, and exited my 18th year by crawling on a tree of questionable structural integrity about twenty feet above a rocky, stream filled ravine.

Yes, I got a crazy adrenaline rush. Yes, some other hikers stopped and took pictures.  Someone filmed it. But I wasn't doing it to give my mom a heart attack or get online. The gesture was for my benefit alone. I was facing my fear of heights and fear if the mundane.

In short, a gesture's significance comes more from intentions. It is, like a secret, internally defined and externally descriptive of the person making the gesture. Eavesdropping or accidentally observing one can tell you a lot about a person - which is why I enjoy people watching. Ultimately, it is the person one is when alone that is the real "person." It is the things one does with private meaning that has the most significance, and it is the actions one takes for the sake of one other that truly are a window into the soul.

01 November 2012

Rumpeltstiltskin, I Name Thee!

Become more than a man and devote yourself to an ideal...

Do you remember the story of Rumpelstiltskin from when you were a kiddo? It goes something like this.

A jerk of a father needs to ask his king for a favor. In hopes of making him more favorably inclined to his request, the dad tells the king that his daughter can spin straw into gold. The king is suitably impressed and orders the girl brought to him. Turns out, the king's a loser too: He locks the girl in a room filled with hay and tells her to work her magic before morning on pain of death. The girl, impressed both by that knowledge and the fact that she has no freaking idea how to spin gold, starts crying.

Enter Magic Man, stage left. He agrees to spin the gold in exchange for a piece of her jewelry. The next morning, the king decides to do it again, this time with a bigger room. Free gold, right? The daughter cries some more, the Magic Man reappears, and spins again for her last piece of jewelry. The king is elated, so this time he locks her in an even bigger room, and swears to marry her. If I were her, the promise of marrying that jerk would quite possibly be more terrifying than death.  The girl cries again, but when the Magic Man shows up, she has nothing left to give him. They strike a bargain - the room of gold for her firstborn, and she's all set to marry the king. When the girl gives birth, the wee lil Magic Man appears and demands his payment in full. The daughter only escapes by guessing his name. THE END.

There are countless folk tales concerning the magic of names. By knowing someone's true name, they testify, you have intrinsic power over that person.

The funny thing about names is they act as both a way of identifying and describing someone or something - a sort of label. In a way, labels are humanity's attempt to describe something's essence. A "chair" is something we sit upon above the ground. A "squirrel" is a type of animal known for its inclination to mischief. A label brings to mind a certain archetype - however, the specifics of that "essence" differ from person to person. Case in point: The difference between my mother and my conception of a "hipster." Here's a hint - my mother thinks it's an affectionate endearment.

But let's get back to names and their function as a label. Let's talk about my imaginary friends. I have four of them, so let's talk about my imaginary friend Joe. Well, as it turns out, I have two imaginary friends named Joe. I'm specifically referring to Joe Black. He's pretty cool - I like hanging out with him as opposed to Joe White, who's a self-righteous little fella. Those two little words - "Joe Black" - bring to mind a very specific personality I have made up for a fictional character. They also make me crave peanut butter. But that's beside the point. The name of my imaginary friend identifies him among my many imaginary friend, and to a certain extent, describes him. He is NOT Joe White, and has [x], [y], and [z] characteristics. Get it? A label is an identifer (Which Joe are you talking about?) and a description (What sort of person is he?). You've heard of people saying "I'm just not a Bill," right? That's what I'm talking about.

Think about going into the canned soup area of a grocery store. You've got Campbell's, Annie's, Souper Meals ... all sorts of different brands. But then you also have types of soup: Chicken Noodle, Stroganoff, Minestrone, Tomato, Spaghetti-Os. If you send a friend out to buy you some "good soup," who knows what they may bring back? But if you tell them you want "Campbell's Chicken Noodle" they can identify the soup and have a general idea of what's on the inside. 

Now, I really like my name. I think it suits me admirably. In fact, I've had friends make comments testifying to the fact that I just "did a really Whimsy thing." That's cool by me. It means I'm being myself, that my label, or my name, has become inseparable from my personality, who I am as an individual.

But have you ever noticed how humans have this tendency to try and "find themselves?" I would relabel (ha!) this as humans trying to be the essence of themself - what makes Whimsy tick? What songs does she like? What food does she enjoy? Who are her friends and why?

Here's the rub. The most useless piece of advice ever given to mankind is To Be Yourself. A person not given to introspection will ignore it and continue just as ever. An introspective person will devote considerable time to angsting over who they are as opposed to someone else, and end up never truly finding themselves from too much navel-gazing. The process of discovering who Lady Whimsy is will take my lifetime, because who knows what person God intends me to be? I certainly don't.

So back to labels and names and essences. We've got these public names that people use on a regular basis. Cassandra, Matthew, Hannah, Grace. We know the people to whom those names refer. We use those designations to address them and refer to them. They're public knowledge - how you and I are known in our communities.

However, I would argue that everyone has a secret, "true" name. Not some mystical name given to you in a dream by a Technicolor rabbit the night before you turn 13, but labels that are self-applied and self-descriptive. Not how I describe myself to other people - "musician," "hopeless romantic," "dark romantic," "day dreamer" - but how I describe myself to myself.

And what other way to define ourselves than by the secrets we keep? Secrets are the "true names" of people. They are hidden, mystical, tied up in the very essence of the holder (why else keep it a secret?) which no one knows. The hidden actions, the clandestine thoughts, the beliefs and ideas and ideals so closely tied to the person's identity and security that they are shared with no one. Secrets are pieces of information that clarify and describe the person keeping them.

"Three can keep a secret, if two of them are dead."

Just like Rumpelstiltskin, releasing the knowledge of one's secret identity gives them the intrinsic power of the name. Once shared, the information can grow, mutate, or be used against you. Like it or not, the relief of sharing a secret creates a new, funky dynamic in any friendship or relationship. Once shared, the true name can never really be forgotten. It's a determined little thing, clinging desperately even when it's usefulness has passed. And of course, the awkward, messy dynamic it brings is both wonderful and despicable. It all depends on your standpoint.

Bottom line is, we all have a choice. We can "become an ideal" and save our real names from the control of another, or diminish and go into the West with what is left of our folk and share that privilege with others. By sharing, you give up something precious for the sake of something more desirable. By saving, you destine yourself for a lifetime of secret keeping. Personally, I choose to travel the path with my real name easily accessible [ Note: not readily accessible or displayed. Simply easy to access when I choose]. Why? Because I value that gritty, honest, this-is-who-I-am truth and openness with my friends.

But it is a choice. An adventure. A daring step into the open, giving power over to someone who may not have your best interests at heart.

Rumpelstiltskins of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your Name!

And if that's not an exhilarating thought, I don't know what is.


31 October 2012

The Song of the Happy Shepherd

This poem has been haunting my thoughts recently. Read it aloud - it deserves it.

by: William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)
THE woods of Arcady are dead,
And over is their antique joy;
Of old the world on dreaming fed;
Grey Truth is now her painted toy;
Yet still she turns her restless head:
But O, sick children of the world,
Of all the many changing things
In dreary dancing past us whirled,
To the cracked tune that Chronos sings,
Words alone are certain good.

Where are now the warring kings,
Word be-mockers? -- By the Rood,
Where are now the warring kings?
An idle word is now their glory,
By the stammering schoolboy said,
Reading some entangled story:
The kings of the old time are dead;
The wandering earth herself may be
Only a sudden flaming word,
In clanging space a moment heard,
Troubling the endless reverie. 

Then nowise worship dusty deeds,
Nor seek, for this is also sooth,
To hunger fiercely after truth,
Lest all thy toiling only breeds
New dreams, new dreams; there is no truth
Saving in thine own heart. Seek, then,
No learning from the starry men,
Who follow with the optic glass
The whirling ways of stars that pass--
Seek, then, for this is also sooth,
No word of theirs--the cold star-bane
Has cloven and rent their hearts in twain,
And dead is all their human truth.

Go gather by the humming sea
Some twisted, echo-harbouring shell,
And to its lips thy story tell,
And they thy comforters will be,
Rewording in melodious guile
Thy fretful words a little while,
Till they shall singing fade in ruth
And die a pearly brotherhood;
For words alone are certain good:
Sing, then, for this is also sooth. 

I must be gone: there is a grave
Where daffodil and lily wave,
And I would please the hapless faun,
Buried under the sleepy ground,With mirthful songs before the dawn.
His shouting days with mirth were crowned;
And still I dream he treads the lawn,
Walking ghostly in the dew,
Pierced by my glad singing through,
My songs of old earth's dreamy youth:
But ah! she dreams not now; dream thou!
For fair are poppies on the brow:
Dream, dream, for this is also sooth.

~ It is better to suffer an injustice than to do injustice ~


29 October 2012

Mercurial Theatre on the Air

The shop I work at in the evening uses a wireless speaker network to broadcast music throughout the store. At night, I turn out the lights, turn off the music, lock myself in, and proceed to return clothes to their rightful area. The clothing racks and strollers loom out of the gloom like primordial terro- I mean, tripping hazards. Also, we have mannequins and a long, narrow hallway through which I must pass.

Only problem: The speakers transmit random bursts of static when they don't play music, I'm afraid of the dark, and there's a windstorm currently ravaging the area.

Have you ever heard of SlenderMan? I'm pretty sure he shops at my store.

22 October 2012

Community ; or Why Whimsy's an Idiot; Incidentally, Words are Important but Deceptive

 I should take the time to point out that I'm not writing this post for sympathy points or any other fishing-for-compliments reason. I feel like I owe a few of my closest friends an explanation, and that it would be helpful to give that explanation to everyone while I'm at it. Word economy, don't you know?

In this particular season of my life, I am frequently reminded of just why God said that it's not good for man to be alone. I'm going to take some literary license and assume He was also thinking that women have the same need for companionship. I hope you don't find that too much of a stretch.

Feeling alright? Good.

So the reason I say that I am reminded of the very first "Not Good" in the Bible is because, to speak frankly, I am feeling remarkably lonely.

Lonely?! Whimsy? How could Whimsy possibly be lonely?! She's working two incredible jobs for fifty hours a week, all hours of which she is directly interacting with any and all customers which appear in the store? Impossible!

But you see, my friends, that is exactly the point. Just as a thin person can be in love with cheesecake; just as someone can wake up on a rainy Monday morning with a grin on their face and a giggle hiding in the corner of their mouth; just as you can remember someone you've never met; so, too, can I be lonely while working with a crowd of people.

You sort of get the idea that I love being a walking contradiction, don't you? :D

Community. It all comes down to community. The messy, awkward, groovy, and oft-maligned group of humanity with which we all dwell. The people who know us too well, or not well enough. The ones who share gossip through prayer requests, but genuinely mean all their prayers. The people who aggravate, anticipate, and intimidate but who all, somehow, manage to form that close bond inside the community. This is not your town. It is not your school. It is not found at your job or hiding under your bed, waiting to grab your ankles as you take that running leap guaranteed to save you from the alligators.

Instead, it is found in the people who have the power to change your life and your outlook whether you like it or not. I miss my community of awesome friends and awkward friends. I miss the feeling if companionship in the midst of silence. One of my favorite memories from this summer was this one moment in August, walking home from an outing to the Asian mall with a couple of friends. This moment is cemented in my mind, because the warm gold light of a late summer afternoon was sluggishly casting shadows through the trees lining the road on which we walked in silence. Conversation had lapsed for a moment, and we three were left to the meander in our own thoughts. The warm air enveloped us in a sort if timeless state:  Why worry about speaking when, for that brief, glowing moment, you could savor the simple feeling of belonging somewhere. Shoes scraped softly on the ground, and we ambled on.

Or that other time, arriving late at the Welcome Home party of a few travelers. I sat awkwardly in the dim glow of the once-giant bonfire, listening to the people who make up my community joking and gaming in the gloom. As the fire subsided into ashes and I realized I had nothing intelligent or amusing to add to the gathering, a feeling of contentment spread across me. Sometimes it's good not to be the largest personality in a group. This is a good realization to come to, what with the number of larger-than-life people I associate with.

Now let's get to why I'm a bloody idiot. Admit it - the reason you've put up with this ramble so far is because of a morbid fascination with my countless means of self-deprecation. Mhmm. I know you too well.

Here goes.

In my circle, there is a definite preoccupation with the art and science of falling in love. According to the Bible, this is the right and good order of things, so please realize that I am not dismissing it. However, this preoccupation makes life a little difficult for the resident Man-Intimidator. Oh, you guessed that was me? How clever of you. Now, I have mixed feelings about my reputation. When most of the male friends in your life make a constant effort to remind you of - that one time you punched me when I tried to hug you- or - Geez, I was so frightened of you for the first few years I knew you - or - I would never upset you, you'd kill me - it's hard not to feel a little ... defective.

Incidentally, in my defense, physical touch is how I express affection for people, and the punch in question happened when a young man I had known a total of three months suddenly rushed in for a bear hug when I least expected it. It was sort of like having your bearded Aunt Matilda lean in for a kiss when you're three: Extremely traumatic and will definitely provoking a knee-jerk reaction.

But back to the mixed feelings. It's not that I'm pining for a delicious love affair - although I wouldn't say no to a likely prospect - it's that once in a while, it would be nice to feel ... lovable. To clarify: getting into a relationship really isn't a priority, and isn't even in the play book - but I like to feel as if it were an actual possibility. Yes, I do have ego issues.

I get this feeling of of likeability most often when I have a really, really good conversation. You know the type I'm talking about. The ones you can't stop thinking about, or that contain a joke that keeps making you smile. The sort of conversation that can give you the warm fuzzies for days. It's safe to say that, when around members of my community, my ears are open for one of these gems. Once a conversation shows its potential, I try to extend it for as long as possible - again, not just because I like my brain to be stimulated, but because it makes me feel sophisticated and suave and polished and not like the supremely awkward 19-year-old I am.

Unfortunately, in pursuit of these good conversations, I've made it a habit of coming across the wrong way to members of the opposite sex. Which, in turn, tends to contribute to my reputation of being "The Scary Lady June." Whee. The downward spiral continues. See, in my enthusiasm for great conversation and thoughtful analysis, I usually forget that my peers operate under a different paradigm, one where social flirting is actually romantic flirting; one where friendly interest is never just friendly interest; one where words no longer mean what the user intends.

The thing about words is that they are intended to mean something specific.  When we twist our language to the point where subtext is more important than context, bad things happen. Because the subtext that one person perceives is not necessarily the subtext presented by the author. Subtext is important, but doubly so is the context the actual text is presented in. The supertext, as it were.


And now it's time to bring this ramble full circle. Because of my particular brand of idiocy (egocentricity + different paradigm - brains [ does that make me a zombie?]), I am feeling a little scared of actually engaging with my community when I see them. QED: I don't live in community enough, and when I do, I'm still not living in community with them. And it's not good for us to live alone. The wheels on the bus go round and round...

18 October 2012

A >>Mind-Blowing<< Thought

As you've probably gathered, I am a musician. While I cannot claim any place among the very good, I can at least claim to sing on key. Most of the time. (Scary fact: Most musicians never advance beyond intermediate mastery of their instrument.)

Often, people separate the emotional reaction to music from the emotional performance when creating it. This makes sense - a musician engaging in the act is active in their experience; the listener has a more passive role in receiving the creation. For this reason, many musicians I've talked to don't often feel the emotions they simulate while playing. When performing a piece, consistency is highly valued - being able to deliver a performance fairly similar to a previous performance indicates mastery of the piece.

But for whatever reason, my emotions are more involved when I play than when I simply listen. The marriage of the analytical - am I playing this note correctly? - and the emotional - should this section be more sorrowful? - serves to heighten the pleasure. Sort of like how sea salt is the perfect addition to caramel. The two taste good enough by themselves, but combine them, and WOW. Magic happens.

Regardless of if I'm creating or experiencing it, I can very quickly become swept into the emotion of a piece. Tchaikovsky's 4th Symphony, for instance, never fails to send shivers up my spine at the prospect of a future I cannot influence (the 4th, after all, dealing almost entirety with fate and humanity's futile efforts to overcome destiny and shape their own paths). Now We Are Free, from the film Gladiator, is two parts joyous to one part melancholic, and I cry every time I hear it. Point proven: Music has a very heavy influence over my emotions. This effect is so extensive that I have created playlists themed around certain moods, designing them to gradually change my feelings to a different. I have melancholic to transition in and out of feeling sad; Choleric, to make myself excited; Sanguine, to brighten my mood to the euphoric; and Phlegmatic, to motivate myself.

Too often, I get swept away into the music without a second thought. But today, while listening to the radio's disgusting, treacly, overly auto-tuned songs at work, I overheard a customer talking about "how much [she] [was] moved by Blown Away" - a recent trending song from Carrie Underwood. Now, Blown Away is probably the only song that station plays that I would consider better than bad (yes, I'm a music snob. So sue me). But I would not say that it "touches me" to the extent this song was talking about. Likewise, the person in question probably would not be moved to tears by Leave It Alone by the ever amazing Manchester Orchestra.

And this realization got me thinking. A dange -- Yes, yes, we've heard that joke a million times. Stuff it. -- ow. 

Isn't it amazing that music even has the capacity to affect out emotions?

What is it about a series of notes and chords that can so strongly affect emotions? Of course, this started me on a long line of wiki-walking. Apparently, a group of researchers played famous pieces of Western music to an African tribe that had never heard music from our civilization. The people were able to correctly identify the emotions being expressed by Bach and Mozart and Beethoven -- and they had never been exposed to this style so different from their own style of music. Additionally, when the researchers altered the harmonies to be dissonant or the drum rhythms to come off-beat, the group correctly pointed out that the music sounded wrong.

Which means that music's effects are basically universal. Different societies may express those emotions differently, but the emotions can translate from culture to culture.

There are some theories about why music affects our feelings so strongly. One hypothesizes that our emotions react to that as a sort of evolutionary strength training - our emotions need to function correctly to ensure that ape-men continue to sit by the fire ( a pleasant emotion) and hunt in groups (because loneliness is unpleasant) so that the Great and Magnificent Human Gene Sequence may continue to perpetuate. Music allows our emotions to stretch and remain active even when the body is not going through an emotional event.

That feels wrong on so many levels. Not just because it doesn't make sense, but because that would rule out any possibility of non-functionality. There are pieces of art out there that are simply beautiful without causing emotions. For instance, this picture of a pepper. It's lovely, but there is no functionality. If this theory were true, it would imply only things that provide the function of exercising the emotions would be pretty.

Also, I reject this theory because I am egotistical and do not think that my only purpose on earth is to further my DNA.

Another theory says that music stirs our feelings because it is the auditory version of motion. I find this one a little more plausible - that most things that cause emotional reactions involve motion (or lack thereof) on our parts. The joy a woman might feel at seeing a SUPERAMAZINGLYCUTEADORABLEWIDDLE BABY!!! or sorrow felt seeing the body of my uncle in his coffin at the funeral home - those both elicit reactions, and both are connected to physical movement. In fact, this theory states, we can see the link. A Symphony is broken into Movements; a Partita is a series of short pieces inspired by dance; a Fugue has an inarguable sense of motion throughout.

This may hit on part of the truth. But it leaves out the main thing: if the Heavens declare the glory of the Lord, it must be because we have the capacity to hear them. Personally, I'm a little torn between whether our capacity to be moved to tears by a piece of music is because God decided to give humanity a little present - something special just because He loves us - or because it comes innately with the imago dei. After all, the first thing God does after creating is to call it "good." He appreciates His creation, and when He gave us Creativity - another divine attribute - He also gave us His ability to appreciate it.

Most likely it's a little bit of both. But regardless of the answer, I remain in awe of the whole bundle. God *could* have created us without an ounce of artistic endeavor, but He didn't. And if that isn't Grace, I don't know what is.



16 October 2012


Oh my goodness gracious yes!!


Ladies and gentlemen, another film has been added to my list of All - Time - Favorite movies. Already on the list are L'Herison, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,  the Illusionist; the Batman Trilogy,  and now : Memoirs of a Geisha.

Put aside that it's a Spielberg;
Put aside that John Williams *asked* to write the score ;
Put aside that Itzhak "I'm a bloody genius " Perelman and Yo - Yo " you've got to be kidding " Ma play duets;


Yes, the plot may not captivate a shorter attention span; yes, it does depict some immorality in (very beautiful)  detail ; yes, it deals with mature subjects.

But the beautiful details are just so exquisitely heartbreaking!! The texture!  The cinematography!  The close shots of entrancing, mysterious women!  The layers of silk upon silk upon skin! The elegant curve of the slightly exposed nape of the neck and the subtly seductive turn of the wrist! And the colors - don't get me started.

Memoirs of a Geisha is filled with many aesthetic highs. I felt like I had used all my senses by the end. From the sweet young girl running joyfully through a long corridor of orange and black pillars to the hypnotic curl of smoke from Mother's pipe to that final, passionate kiss in the middle of a reflecting pond, this movie was simply exquisite.

If nothing else,  watch it for your five senses. You will be surprised by the little motions, the tilt of the head and the curl of a Finger that stands out. It reminds me once again that it truly is the little moments that are the most profound. The most life changing. The most inspiring. And if that isn't worth reminding yourself, I don't know what is