Category Archives: life

Write a Letter

To an old friend:

Remember how often we’d write to each other, pen-pal? Your letters stamped from exotic places, arriving in the mailbox on sunny mornings. I would trot down the driveway to check the mail, sometimes disappointed with impersonal printed business, sometimes cheered with a wrapped message that promised to be a delight to read.

Remember how easily the words came in those days, before there was such thing as a word count, a “good story”, structure, and grammar? Pooh. In those days there were books. In those days we told each other true stories, and wide-eyed we’d read them like the most gripping young-adult novel, except- these were real, written just for us, for our eyes only.

We wrote to each other. We wrote freely, as we were moved to. Unsupervised, unrequired writing, pure joy. Before I knew that “it’s” isn’t possessive, and before I knew what paragraphs are good for. It didn’t matter. I learned, and my letters were plenty readable.

For years I wrote to you. You wrote to me. Preferring paper and pen to face-to-face talk, I would wander the hillside like Frederick the mouse, gathering colors and sounds, images of plants in the sunshine. I would bring them back, in my mind, my camera, my words. Forest air in my lungs, forest dirt on my boots, blackberry scratches on my knees, sweat on my forehead. Alone, I would gather words for my next letter, and when pen met paper I would tell you stories of the places I’d been.

Write back soon!

Love,
Your Pen-Pal

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Missing

The smallest things can eat up your mind as soon as they go missing. A key, a book, a ring, a letter. All of a sudden we’ll forget everything else and go searching for that one offending item, turning the world upside down until the wayward object is found.

It’s not so easy when you lose a someone instead of a something. Someone you now know you’ve spoken your last words to and won’t be seeing again.

The missing things and missing pieces can eat us alive if we let them. Or we can realize the value of all we have left and the people we’re still surrounded by. It’s true you never know what you’ve got till it’s gone; absence makes the heart grow fonder because it rips a piece from your heart and promises to replace it later with stitches of love. The things and people that go missing remind us how fragile life is, and how quickly it can all change. It’s easy to live in fear, knowing this. Fear that sucks the joy and gratitude and every good thing from life.

“A coward dies a thousand times before his death, but the valiant taste of death but once.” -Shakespeare

We’re not made to fear. We’re made to live and love with courage, to thank God for what He’s given rather than fear what He can take away. Sometimes it takes a stab of sorrow to remind us that we can still feel, that we’re not numb and impenetrable as a medieval fortress. That life gets to us, and it matters.

There’s a verse in Switchfoot’s song Awakening: “I want to live like I know what I’m leaving.” To me this speaks about the goodness of life, the value of recognizing that goodness while we’ve got it, and the knowledge that one day we’ll be moving on.

These Walls

I don’t know how many stressed and caffeine-pumped college students have lived within these walls, on the third story overlooking the development and the river, but for these four months, they’re mine.

Encased in brick, howling when the winds weave themselves through the cracks and gaps and under the door. In through the windowpanes. Seeping into the vents. There’s no shortage of fresh air in this old apartment building. Surprisingly, the door to the balcony remains on its hinges and the screens are still in the windows.

The matted tan carpet speaks of ages of feet pounding down little tufts of once-soft raggedy yarn. A sloppy paint job tries to freshen up old drywall. Bugs keep me company. Stinkbugs. House centipedes. House flies, only a couple of those.

When the wind is still, the laundry machines aren’t shrieking in their nest down the hall (as they are now – with my laundry), the neighbors aren’t laughing or screaming or vacuuming, and no planes are roaring by in the sky… it’s silent here.

So I turn on the bathroom fan and listen to it whir in the background.

Through the night. And the day. Sometimes I play music to fill the silence. But eventually music loses its touch.

These walls held me when no one else could. They were the place I came home to. The place I wanted to be.

Unsatisfied

It sneaks up on you when you’re not looking.

Maybe it’s the end of the semester. Maybe it’s not.

Music used to fill the empty space inside your head.

Books and stories and spellbinding words would keep you transfixed for hours.

Food was relished.

Time with friends, fulfilling.

None of that now. Nothing satisfies until this job is done.

What then?

Be satisfied with your life, they’ll tell you. Sometimes it is good advice.

But only the unsatisfied make change. Those without an itch won’t try to scratch.

You know things could be better. You know you can be the change. Today is your fight for that future.

Quashed by Education

Remember starting a class or even a whole college career deeply excited about your area of interest? Some kids know where they want to go in life and what makes them tick before they even step into a post-secondary classroom. They’re ready to wrestle knowledge into submission and give their all to their chosen subject. Then, invariably, structured education gets in their way.

I started college knowing what I wanted to do. “Video and writing,” I told my advisor, every semester. I finished college with an increased appreciation for how much I disliked all the things I never got into because—surprise surprise—I really wasn’t interested in them. Undergraduate college is designed to give students a “broad educational foundation,” which it does. But by the time they begin college, a good number of students are mature enough to specialize.

“Education is about readiness for life, or to put it differently, education is about knowing what you need to know to live how you want to live.” – Joshua Spell

Real education is revelation. It’s uplifting, enchanting, fulfilling. It’s not a list of assignments, not motivated by a desire to please, not a burden. Real education is driven by curiosity. In the long term, self-driven education is the only kind there is.

educationsqueezelifeoutoflove

Something I found on Facebook.

Sand Through the Hourglass

There’s a habit people fall into when they’ve crammed too many activities into their lives, and that’s to keep their eyes on what’s right ahead of them and forget things as soon as they pass. This is what happens with my schoolwork—I focus on the six projects or so I have going at once and desperately try to remember everything (lock the door, catch the bus, do the homework, bring the homework, communicate with team, be there on time, don’t let them down, have time to help, X6, etc. etc.). I feel like the pinch point in an hourglass, trying to get everything to flow smoothly in the present by looking ahead to the near future and not having even a moment to contemplate the past.

Life’s too short for this.

Human beings aren’t made to be productive. There’s nothing we can do that God hasn’t done for us already. We’re made to celebrate being alive, to observe and rejoice and contemplate. Trying to squeeze as much into a life before the end because you’re afraid of wasting it really is a waste. Look back and see if anything’s there to remember. Maybe you were productive. Super-productive, even. Where does that get you?

It gets you a pile of inanimate projects to call your own, no sweet memories, little human connection, and always too rushed to answer a last-minute call for help.

God didn’t make us to work for him, a Divine Boss who pays us an hourly wage. He gave us more than we can ever earn. It’s not just ok to sit back and wonder, we’re made to sit back and wonder. To enjoy the small moments. To stop running, slow down, and be still.