You know when your body tells you something and you can’t read it? Like, when you’re craving coffee does this mean ‘more’ or does this mean ‘rest’? It’s like walking along with your earphones in and snap your neck at the sound of a siren, forgetting for a moment that it’s part of the song. Like, when you roll out of bed with him and you wonder: is this lust or love? Do I hate the professor or do I hate the challenge? And then you decide that this is it, this is the reason. “I’m just on my period” and the room is silenced. She taps you on the shoulder and cocks her head. “Hey, why aren’t you outside with the rest of us?” She hands you a beer. “I don’t know, I just want to be alone for a bit”. And it’s the perfect answer for the chronically inadequate. It’s like going vegan because you believe the body should be meatless. Do you know what it’s like to eat plenty but still feel empty?
“I know now how little my strength and small virtue can achieve if You are not always granting me Your grace and helping me not to forsake You…”
“May You be blessed for ever since, although I have forsaken You, You have never so utterly forsaken me as not to raise me up again by continually giving me Your hand. “
“The LORD makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand”.
– Psalm 37:23-24
“How true it is that You suffer those who will not suffer You to be with them! What a good friend you are, Oh my Lord, to comfort and endure them, and wait for them to rise to Your condition, and yet in the meantime to be patient of the state they are in! You take into account, O Lord, the times they loved You, and for one moment of penitence forget all their offenses against You… I cannot see, O my Creator, why the whole world does not strive to draw near to You in this bond of friendship.”
“Time is subjective”. I think that’s what my mum once said to me in an attempt to explain the word ‘subjective’. I used to repeat the phrase because I thought it sounded intelligent. If I’m being honest, I still do this- plagiarise facts told by people I trust. Vegans need creatine supplements because it is only found in red meats? Okay, passionate-vegan-hating brother. I’ll tell my friends when the topic arises.
As with most lofty concepts, it takes time to construct a solid understanding, like plastering the walls of a mud-brick house. I accepted prima facie that time is more than the rhythm of the clock’s hand. It is an experience: the wait was long, the ride was short. But Spring Break operates on its own distinctive holiday time. I have all the time in the world, until the clock strikes nine and I have around three more hours until bedtime. I’m trying to train myself to wake up with the sun- it’ll be of use next quarter when I have my 8:00am classes. And I just like the idea of aligning myself with the natural cycle of the day. When I grow up, I want to be a morning person.
Anyhow, the day is extended, like a string of dough in my hands. With this freedom I am so present walking by the neighbourhood houses, detecting pine and sweet blossoms in the air. I think about where I might want to live and work, where I might want my children to grow up. I read my book, I read the newspaper someone’s left on the table in Starbucks and I enjoy every human encounter. Costco employee, Apple genius, the man with his granddaughter in his arms. She waves goodbye enthusiastically until they walk far enough to disappear from view. I see a father pushing the shopping cart with his two daughters sitting up front, flying across the parking lot. I see a tattooed gentleman pull his wife back for a kiss before they depart and enter into different stores. In the absence of real responsibilities, I let the space be filled with life. In the stillness, my mind wanders. I want to learn the history of everything. I need to know of the battles that occurred in Cyprus, the details of the Victorian era. I want to read the works of Plato and Emily Dickinson, learn to cook red Thai curry shrimp. I want to absorb Ella Fitzgerald’s music and channel her feeling, understand encryption and watch John Oliver. Give me more time so I can do it all.
My friend and I like to check up on each other’s days. What was the theme of your day, the week, the month? What were the highlights, things that inspired you, things that annoyed you?
It’s a kind of love when you’re interested to know the mundane details- except they’re no longer mundane. It’s envisioning another world. To love is to long to know a person’s mind and to delight in its contents. Everything that has shaped them becomes endearing, be it Sailor Moon or crushes on Joe Jonas.
Find people who help you find yourself. And be that person for them, too.
Oh WordPress how I’ve missed you! I miss the mindless scrolling through my feed, previewing thought-catalog posts, surveying the newest variations in stories of love and love lost. But I miss the catalogue of lives the most: passing thoughts, poetic one-liners, moments of self-discovery. I also enjoy ironic posts: the writer sets up for a journey that ends where you began. Round-about narratives are kind of sad and funny at the same time.
Since I’ve been gone, I’ve found two silver strands sprouting from my head. I’m twenty and ageing fast. Don’t ask me how I am, because that’s boring and unoriginal. Atop of that, I’m burdened with the responsibility of being selective in my answer, honest, creative even. That’s a loaded question. It’s the opener to the brief conversation in line for coffee, or when I see a friend I’ve been meaning to text but haven’t gotten round to. If you really want to know, let’s do it seriously and let’s do it well.
I’ve been all sorts of good, fine, okay. Each day has it’s peaks and troughs. Some days, I see beauty everywhere: the golden glow of the five-o-clock sun (my favourite time of day here), people laying out on the grass, crooning mothers, reflective windows, Professor Lee’s patience. Other days I waste away feeling like a shell of a person. Perhaps I was coasting before I bumped into you. Perhaps the gym and shower have taken their turns to ruin and revive me. Perhaps today I have no strong feelings about anything to report, which I think is sad.I still don’t have a plan for my next few years in college… or the rest of my life and sometimes I’m okay with that. Maybe you’ve caught me on days when I’m not. Worst of all, I probably haven’t thought about how I generally feel; there are too many things to consider.
I almost don’t remember how the year began; every month marks a transition, every season its own personality. Stories within stories within stories. It’s worse that the school year is misaligned with the calendar year. But let’s not rehash the details right now. I’m more excited about what’s to come: Beats by Dr. Dre. I’m motivated to make music again! I’m going to write again! I’m going to read during the Spring Break and I’m going to spend time doing the things that make me excited to be alive- things that make me want to learn and seek out the world.
I must not stray so far from God that I might believe that I must find hobbies and interests to live a worthy life. Or that I must not ever get a grade below a B because that says something significant about my intelligence. I don’t live for a list of accomplishments or see my sole purpose of existence in finding one true passion. I don’t live for the approval of people, for boys and a skinny frame. And I will not live from the belief that I am undeserving of love, wallowing in self-loathing for my failures and inability to do the things I wish I could. I will not make such a grave mistake, for I am so dearly loved. This is my identity, this is what defines me. Even though I will never be perfect, His love is a net that I am enmeshed in. And what more, there are not enough languages to learn, books to read, not enough charity to give, children to feed, money to make, wars to stop, to earn me His grace. There is no way to redeem myself; the Lord is my redeemer! I am inherently invaluable to Him and He has already done the work for me. If God were simply just, surely I would be unlovable! But how thankful I am to live in a universe where God is both entirely just and completely loving! I do not strive to be the best but to do my best with all that He has given me. And from this place of love, I can have full confidence that I will be okay, no matter where I end up. What I gain from learning and achieving is not self-worth and value but joy in glorifying God for what He can achieve through me. And in the process of reaching my goals I am building my character, developing fruits of the spirit: self-control, patience, and perseverance. How can I ever despair when I can never truly fail because He loves me so.
That amazing feeling of turning a corner and feeling the cool of the shade, pine tree shadows skimming over my skin. They don’t look real either: they’re running in front of me, in sync. Moving figures, two dimensional. Watch as they faint away into the set.
These days I’m a fan of brevity. Cut to the chase before I throw my heart where it’s not enough.
I see myself stepping off the ledge, aiming for the spot between the two buildings. I imagine the drop, the windows flying above my head and then disappearing. I wouldn’t do it out of despair, no. I’m just no longer afraid.
I put my feet up on the chairs, not out of blatant disrespect.
If I were an infant, would you be more forgiving?
I retreat into my sheets, just thinking about the marathon of a day.
The list of things I’ve failed to do grows like my laundry pile.
Maybe I just won’t do anything; I’ll never leave this bed.
I shrug off ugly feelings when boys don’t approach me.
I can’t seem to focus today; my thoughts are vortexes.
I must propel myself above the storm-
like rising from a pool using just my arms.
If I were depressed, would you expect me to?
Met a boy and got kissed by the sun instead. Lived at my best friends’ houses, lazed about with dogs and glasses of Pinot Noir. Noticed that mum always brings home those satay skewers I like and that dad takes notes during my dentist appointments. I told my sister secrets and hugged her before bed. Read on the couch and watched people on the train, with the patience of a grandmother peering out the window for signs that her grandchildren have come home. Home is where loving comes easy.