Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Life Upside Down

The other day I did something that I haven't done in years! I laid on the couch with my legs in the air and let my head hang over the edge so that when I looked around, everything seemed upside down. The dining room chandelier poked from the ground and Waldo played with his kong on the ceiling. After a while, Waldo just started looking at me while I was watching him sit on the ceiling. Then I looked out the window at the upside down tree & laughed. Quite a silly thing to do.

Sometimes life seems a little like that when you think about it. I notice it a lot now that I'm going to be graduating soon. People ask me what I'm  going to do after school & where I'm going to work. We have a tendancy to talk about ourselves in reference to our work. To me it seems like such an obsurd idea. We talk about work like it's one of the central things that define us, meanwhile I've never heard of anyone on thier deathbed saying, "You know, I spent too much time with my family, I wish I would have worked more." 

What does work lead to? It leads to money which generally leads to stuff, which eventually wears out & breaks. (Side note: I'm not in anyway denying the fact that money can be used to help people, I'm just making a general statement.) So if we define ourselves by our work, then in an extension we can define ourselves by our stuff. Look in the media, especially advertizing. The emphasis is mostly on stuff, specifically getting bigger and/or better stuff. 

When stuff breaks, it eventually ends up in a landfill. Sometimes society does that to broken people too. Society can just push them away & I think it's sad. Material things eventually break down & lose their meaning, but it doesn't have to be that way with people. In a way, people are simple to fix. When it boils down to it, when you show someone love or kindness they regain a bit of what was lost. I'm not saying it's that quick, it happens over time. But what if we all shifted our focus from work & stuff to caring for people? What a world that would be...

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Practice Makes Perfect

I have a ten and a half month old kitten. His name is Waldo. Half the time I call him Booger, because he always has sleep in his eyes. He is a long haired tuxedo cat with a black nose with black dots on either side which makes him look like he has a mustache. He also has a puffy squirrel tail, which he proudly holds strait up in the air as he walks. He claims anything he can get his paws on & carries his trophies to the upstairs bathroom where he generally chews them to death. He can be incredibly sweet & funny, but he is also Mr. Mischief. He is also a great teacher. Every day Waldo helps me learn how to love.

Forget all the feel-good moments & all the weddings you've heard this passage read & really take a look at it.

 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
 8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.- 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (NIV)
 Love is not some gushy, warm fuzzy feeling. Love is an action, a choice. Look at the words & the concepts here. Patience, kindness, being humble, forgiveness, selflessness, endurance. Sacrifice. Love is sacrifice. These are not things that appear out of thin air, nor are they things that can be passively learned. These are all skills that must be practiced. Having Waldo in my life is practice for other things. Waldo is the thing in my life that I sacrifice for every day. I'm single, I don't have children or a family of my own or aging parents to care for that rely on me day to day. Yes, I'm there for my friends when they need me. Yes, I love my family & help out in any way I can. However, for the most part I have no one who I am accountable to or responsible for on a day to day basis. If I want to, I can do what I want whenever I want & my money is mine to do with what I please. But this is not what I want.

I want to practice selflessness because one day I will have people who I will be directly responsible for & I want to practice loving now so I can love them better. Because of this I choose to love Waldo. I choose to spend my money giving him good food, a safe home, & excellent veterinary care instead of buying the new pair of heels that I most desperately want. I choose to love him when he kills my favorite bikini & chews my gold hoops into an unrecognizable crinkled mess. But I also have rewards. He greets me every day when I come home & makes me laugh when we play catch. Waldo teaches me that even though love has sacrifice it also has rewards. One day I will have children. I will wake up in the middle of the night to tend to them & they will probably accidentally brake some object that means the world to me. I will sacrifice my time, money, & in some cases my treasures for them but I will receive the joy of being in their lives. They will teach me to laugh in a new way & smile bigger than ever before. And when these things come to pass I will thank God that he used a mischievous little kitten to help my practice the skills involved in love to pave the way.

Waldo getting into something he shouldn't
Relaxing on his favorite spot on the couch

Thursday, January 6, 2011

I think I have a book crush on Antoine...

There was a flaw in my logic when I started out today. I have a dentist appointment today & instead of driving across town twice, I decided to eat lunch at Green Bean & read for a few hours before my appointment.  It makes sense, except I'm reading "Wind, Sand, and Stars" by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. It's one of those books that you can't just sit down & read for the afternoon. Saint-Exupery has this magical way of writing where he tells one story and makes this unexpected point or observation about humanity in such a way that it's almost blinding every time. You can't just read such a book continuously, it must be taken in chunks. Every time I read a bit of his works, I have to think on it. It's the most amazing sensation, reading something by him, because it fills you with such awe and all these thoughts and you get stuck on them to the point of stillness. Yes, I am swimming in all these thoughts and yet I feel perfectly still.

 If I had a magical time machine & could speak french, I would jump back in time in a heart beat to speak to Antoine de Saint-Exupery. I would gladly sit in a cafe in France with him and talk about anything. I have a feeling that to just talk about the weather with him would turn into an extraordinary conversation. That's the thing I love about books, they're like a crystallized moment in time. Even though I cannot have coffee with my favorite author, I can read his books and have a small look into his world. You can get to know some authors through their works and feel like they are old friends. Sometimes, in some strange way, I feel that those who would understand me the most are these authors who have left this world long ago. There are days where I walk around this life feeling just slightly out of place, however I have never seen this as a bad thing. I prefer to live in my world of wonder, where ideas are my play things & everything is lit with imagination.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Value vs Worth

I think it's really funny the way we put value & worth on things. The greater the monetary value of something is, the greater it's worth. To me, the idea that things have worth based on money is so backwards. I think that monetary value isn't necessarily congruent with worth. In fact, I'd argue that monetary value has nothing to do with worth.

One of my most prized possessions is my copy of The Little Prince. According to Amazon, my prized possession is worth $9.90. One of the most important things I own has very little monetary value, and yet if my house were on fire & I had the opportunity to grab a handful of things before running out the door, this would be one of the first things I went for. Why? Because it's the story behind the book that makes it so important to me. My brother, who I'm very close to, gave it to me for my 18th birthday because it was a book that he loved. That's where the value comes from, that's why it's so important to me. All the things that I own that are of great worth to me have a story behind them, and in the center of the stories are the people that I love.

In the end all real worth circles back to people. Relationships with those around us are what makes us human, what makes the world beautiful. If you take people out of the equation, the world loses its' colour. Without the fact that my brother gave me The Little Prince, it's just another good book. If you look at things based on their price tag, then things are cold. However, if you look at objects & see those you love, they light up & take on a life of their own.

"Happiness! It is useless to seek it elsewhere than in this warmth of human relations." -Antoine de Saint Exupéry

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Theology of Superheros

Anyone who knows me knows that I love superheros. Comics, movies, television. While all the other little girls were watching Care Bears, I was watching Batman: The Animated Series & X-Men. Obviously I'm not alone. For all these larger than life characters to exist, there has to be a market for them. There has to be a craving for these larger than life characters with complex back stories that swoop in & save the day. The question is, why? Why are we so fascinated with these characters with these super human abilities & a deeply instilled sense of justice? Is it a desire for adventurous fiction or is it a deep craving of the human soul?

I think we all wish to be saved. We all wish for some mysterious person to swoop in & save the day. We want someone to care even though they don't have to. And all these properties aren't enough, they have to have a human quality to them. It's not enough that Superman is almost invincible or for Batman to go into the dark places of Gotham to save its' citizens from the slime of the city. All these superheros have a human aspect in them. Clark Kent struggled with developing an identity & sense of self in his adopted home planet, Bruce Wayne struggles with the horror of losing his parents at a young age. Clearly it's not enough that we have a saviour, that saviour has someone who has faced the hardships of life that we can identify with.

The thing that some people don't recognize though is that we've already been saved. Jesus was fully God & fully human & that sounds pretty superhero-esque to me. Take a look at the gospels, they read like a comic book except they're not fiction! Jesus is born to a virgin, lived through the struggles of life (with no sin), was betrayed by someone close to him, murdered, & rose from the dead. He did it all to save us because God couldn't stand the thought of us being dragged down by sin, helpless to get out by ourselves. That sounds like a superhero to me, except this wasn't written by Stan Lee! It's actual history! And this whole saving thing isn't a one time deal. Jesus still works though those who follow him, the members of the church & promised to come back again.

And now some of you probably think I live in a comic book. Well, my faith is my reality. I see the difference God has made in my life & in the lives of others I know. Maybe not everyone agrees with me, but can you explain why I have such joy & happiness in my life? One of my friends calls me "Little Miss Sunshine on uppers." This joy isn't natural, it's a mark on my life left by the devine.

Monday, November 15, 2010

What to do when your life is a barf bag

So what exactly is the protocol when life uses you as its' own personal barf bag? See, I was minding my own business, walking along in my life, singing "tra-la-la-la-la" & then life just decided to up chuck on me. Now I'm covered in yucky vomit chunks & reek of that oh-so-unpleasant aroma of bile. Wonderful, isn't it? So what do you do when life throws up on you & you're stuck without a change of clothes? To be honest, I'm not really all that sure. What I can tell you is that right now I'm living in Psalm 23. I'm simply trusting that God will get me through this dark valley of death & I'm looking forward to those green meadows. I'm profusely blessed with many people who are incredibly supportive & I'm extremely thankful for them.

I also take my joy where I can. Last night I fell asleep with Waldo (my 8 month old kitten) right by my head & this morning we had some time to ourselves. I think Waldo is an example of God providing me my needs before I know I need them. In this time of strain where I've been transported to this strange land where my life doesn't make sense anymore, I have Waldo to make me smile. In a way he helps remind me who I am, that I am a person who can find joy & laughter in strange places.

So that is my story & where I am at. If you are reading this, then I hope that life hasn't thrown up on you too, because it's not the most pleasant experience. I think I'd rather be anywhere but where I am now. But if you are in the midst of an experience that makes you feel like you too are a barf bag, then find comfort that you are not alone. Life is wonderful & beautiful, but sometimes we just get barfed on & there is always hope to get through it!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

On the Great Walk of Life

"What saves a man is to take a step. Then another step. It is always the same step, but you have to take it."-Antoine De Saint-Exupery, from "Wind, Sand, and Stars"
 I absolutely love that quote & the story behind it. See, Antione was a pilot & one of his friends crashed in the mountains. So, for the sake of his family, he got up out the wreck of his plane & began to walk. He walked so that should he die, they'd be able to find his body & his wife wouldn't have to wait 5 years to get the insurance money. If he had stopped he would have frozen to death. By a miracle he was found & brought back to the base. When Antione talked to him, his friend told him how he had to push himself forward because he knew if he stopped he'd freeze to death.

I find that's all I can do sometimes, is walk. When things are rough & it's hard to find the joy in my life I just continue walking because it's what has to be done. There are days that my life is hard & I propel myself forward because if I stopped to sit, I'd let my stress/anxiety/sadness/etc freeze part of my soul. I know in those times that eventually I will look & see how many steps I've taken & how far I've come. So those days where it is hard to walk I celebrate every step, even though I may be stuck in a blizzard & can't see where I'm going. And in those times I am incredibly thankful for those who walk beside me.