Thanks

November 27, 2009

Dear God,

Technically, Thanksgiving ended for the Midwest about three hours ago, but, I spent those three hours being harassed by vending machines, scraping ice off of a car, driving home, and cleaning up a hideous amount of canine waste products, and was therefore unable to reflect upon my thankfulness until now.  I did, however, manage to do a great deal of complaining–probably enough to merit its own holiday.  However, I would feel incomplete if I did not take such an opportunity, so I would like to do that now.

I’m not going to order this by priority, so first of all, I would like to thank you for cats.  Never before have I seen an animal be so deliberately obnoxious as Zoey, save perhaps for the squirrels that throw acorns at people from the safety of the treetops.  Thanks for them, too.  Thank you, also, for Don McLean’s “On the Amazon”, Colin Meloy’s “The Bandit Queen”, and for Kimya Dawson, in general, for teaching me that music does not always have to be serious.  On that note, thank you for Beret-wearing Existential man, and Randall Munroe for thinking him up.

I would also like to express my appreciation, amusement, and general slack-jawed awe-strickenness at your handywork in setting up the Earth’s orbit to be just the right balance of variables so that our water molecules would bounce constantly between states, which would, in turn, have them, not only forming a great deal of our ecosystems, but also floating around in the sky, then suddenly falling out of it.  Quite frankly, if this were a planet in a science fiction novel, The Water Cycle would surpass my willing suspension of disbelief.  On that note, we had some fog at school the other day, and I feel like it was just too darn thick to be realistic.  But thanks for making sure that reality stays unrealistic, just to keep us from getting too level-headed.

Thank you for 3/4 time.

I also appreciate the night time.  I would guess, rather astutely (just like anything else I think or say), that you put some sort of spell over it, or a perfume of sorts, that, when inhaled, causes us to become so silly that we laugh at all sorts of things, and finally let our guards down enough to open our hearts to one another.  Thank you for the majestic stillness of the nocturnal air, as well as its mystery and wonder.  I suppose that’s another thing I should be grateful for about cats: they don’t mind getting up and hanging out with me in the middle of the night.  It’s nice to have that kind of company.

Thank you for that paradox which we call Love; the bargain in which we gain through the gains of others, and they through ours.  Somehow you managed to code a blatant infinite-loop error into the Universe without causing it to crash–maybe that is why we are still going.

As much as sometimes I do not appreciate it, thank you, and this Love, for every time it viciously massacres its way through our bubble-wrap worlds and reminds us that so many of our loved ones are suffering horribly, that so many of our brothers and sisters had barely anything to eat today, while we feasted on all sorts of wonderful foods.  It’s painful contrast, God; I won’t lie to you, but I appreciate it ever so much, because that is Love and I could ask for nothing more.

Thank you also for the dream of your Kingdom, which takes these painful realizations and uses them to set us into motion, giving us the hope we need to survive such truth without being drowned in discouragement, because, with you, we can help bring the beauty of your Kingdom into Earth, and truly live out that Love.

I have a question.  Do plants ever get bored, not being able to move and all?  I sure hope not, but either way I appreciate them, especially seeing how much of my survival depends on them.  But I also think that they are quite lovely, like little cities built up all around us.  I used to watch the bugs fly around, like little spaceships in some crazy, science-fiction metropolis, taking off from the launch pad on one flower-building and soaring neatly onto another (or clumsily, in the case of june-bugs).

Thank you also for my ridiculously generous and loving family who not only understood (mostly) when I ditched them to visit a friend over Thanksgiving, but left me with a huge container full of my favorite food in all of my extremely limited frame of past experiences, Vegetarian Divine Runzas.

Thank you for limericks, God, for showing us that poetry doesn’t always have to be serious, either (though, really, limerick is a very rigid form of poetry).  The same goes for made-up words.

It may be materialistic of me, but thank you for dice, harmonicas, cards, writing utensils, and small pads of paper.  There are so many things that pack almost infinite entertainment value into a tiny object, and I appreciate them immensely.

And thank you so much for music.  Really, I don’t understand what is so appealing about creating patterns in sound vibrations, and layering the waves to fit together neatly (or just a bit off of neatly), but, for whatever reason, it seems to be the only way that I allow certain parts of my soul to escape their tangible anchors.

Finally, thank you for the all things I don’t understand.  It is wonderful to be so much smaller than the Universe.  Whenever Christmas comes around, I always find myself imagining what it would be like to be the size of an ornament, to get to climb around through the tree.  I would be surrounded by the giant green needles and outstretched bark branches.  I would visit the lights and find them to be giant, illuminating the entire area around me in red, yellow, blue, or green.  The tree would be my fortress, my city, my own little world of adventure.

Well, God, I am smaller than ever, and the Universe is my Christmas tree.  Please don’t let me take it for anything less, because, really, it is so much more wonderful even than that.

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What it is like, to Love

November 15, 2009

I realized tonight that I don’t love all people as much as once I thought I did.  At least, I don’t love them nearly as much as I ought to, nearly as much as they deserve.  Honestly, I don’t think I could handle it, but I still believe there is a way, and I still believe that it is something for me to always strive toward.

I started learning about love from my church, and it was there that I came to believe that love, without restraint or requirement, is the force we need to heal the world.  I learned about another level to this love from my friends at college.  These friends are my family (my family still is, too, though my sister argues that I don’t come home enough), and even when I go crazy and try to push them away, they don’t let me.  I’m glad they don’t.  But I’ve been learning what it is like to really love people with these friends, and, quite frankly, I am pretty lousy at it.  But, if nothing else, I have been learning.

Tonight my friends are in The Pit.  At this point in the evening, most of them have been working in the theatre for 13 hours, and, according to one of their estimates, many of them have another four to five hours to go.  And tomorrow they start another ten hour shift at 9 a.m.–after 3-4 hours of sleep.  I’m not involved in the theatre, but I hate show week, because of what it does to my friends.  It is so hard for me to sit here, with only a few writing assignments to work on, while my family is working away for hours and hours, and I all I can do is pray.

This is why it occurs to me that I do not love all people, because my Family is always in The Pit somewhere.  For many of the members of my Family, these working conditions are a fact of life; many of the members of my Family are in worse conditions–starving, freezing, sick, forced into war or prostitution or slavery–but my heart does not ache endlessly for them, because I am so distanced from their struggles.

This is why this Love is so important, because without Love our hearts cannot span the distance, the thick bubble-wrap walls that keep us from knowing the pain that fuels our comfortable lives.  Without the Love, we are neglecting our Family, and we are incomplete.

So, as much as I hate to feel the way I do now for even a week, Lord, teach me to really love.

Characters

November 13, 2009

This has been a very psychologically trying semester for me, and I realized that this struggle has been bleeding into my writing.  I’m in Advanced Composition, which is an extremely open-ended writing class–though it is still my most challenging so far, perhaps for this very reason.  So far I have produced three different writings: a short story, which is, by itself the longest piece I have ever written, a short play, and a narrative poem.  The writings are completely separate in terms of plot and characters, but there are subtle ways in which they depend on each other and interconnect, so I am inclined to include them in the same collection.  I was imagining this collection to be heading toward some cumulative point, until Wednesday.  On Wednesday I realized what my writings really were.  They are partial psychological profiles of myself.

It just so happened that in Advanced Comp. on Wednesday we were asked to write a short piece that develops one of our characters.  Mine is probably a bit shorter than the requirement, but I don’t think I’m going to add much more to it, and I think I will use this as the introduction / preface to my collection.

Confessions and Regrets

~

It is through situations that we best see into the souls of characters; it is through characters that we best see into the souls of their authors.

~

Y’san in the Market

The marketplace stirred like the clouds of dust that follow the hooves of horses, but Y’san drifted about like an autumn leaf in slow descent.  Ahead of him, two children tossed a stone back and forth between one another.  When a failed toss left the stone at Y’san’s feet, the old man smiled at the children, picking up the stone, and returned it, nodding in respect to the child’s gratitude.

“Rolls today, Y’san?” hollered Pedro as the elder approached his bakery stand.

“Yes, please.  Six coppers, correct?” Y’san replied, once he had finished walking to the booth.

“Six coppers.  Here you are.” Pedro handed Y’san a basket of rolls.

“Thank you much, Pedro.  And your coppers.”

Pedro took the coins and crooked his head.  Just as Y’san was about to turn to leave, Pedro blurted, “Hey, we’re getting together for cards tonight—you should come join us!”

“No, no,” said Y’san, “I’m much too old for that.”

“Nonsense!  You know that some of the finest cardsmen are the elders!  And I’ve heard stories about when you used to play.  Join us!  It will be a good time.”

“Oh, no, no.”  Y’san smiled, shaking his head slowly, and walked away.  That night, the elder watched the wind blow through the ferns and imagined the jokes and stories that would be shared over that game of cards.