I had other plans for this post, what with it being the End Of The World today. However, something more important’s come up.
I had other plans for this post, what with it being the End Of The World today. However, something more important’s come up.
If you’re not actively searching for them, great things very near to you are easy to miss.
Last night while driving through a neighboring city, I was fortunate to catch the beginnings of the full moon rising; that yellow fingernail pushing past the purple mountains. Even shy as she was at first, I was awed by the sight of her. I had hoped to witness her coming out party before I arrived at my destination, but I did not.
Tonight she will be mine to encounter.
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Today I stray from Meaty Ave. and head down Dalliance Ln. Won’t you join me, please?
It’s been said that “Life is an adventure.” I would agree with this statement, but I think it’s important to keep in mind that the word “adventure” is not synonymous with the words party or celebration. I think many of us — myself included — associate adventure with “a good time.” We need look no further than “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” to know this is not always the case.
Off the top of my head I can name at least a dozen experiences I would consider adventures, though not pleasant ones; things I tried once, endured, and will never do again. That’s the idea, though: you can’t be sure you won’t enjoy something until you’ve tried it. I can say with full assurance that oysters, outdoor camping, stilletos (or any abnormally high-heels, for that matter), cities bearing extreme temperatures, prune juice, attending tourist attractions during peak-season, traveling long distances on small boats, that stuff you put on pizza to give it an extra “kick,” experimental skin-care regiments, and outdoor concerts where they permit smoking, are all things I will never do again.
To some degree, an adventure is an activity or process whereby you are not certain of the outcome. Either it will be positive or negative; seldom will you have an ambivalent adventure. That is, unless, you consider trying out a new wattage of lightbulb an adventure; which, in that case, I am not judging you . . . well, maybe I am a little.
Some adventures are not within our control, however; you’re along for the ride whether you want to be or not, so buckle up.
Many of you will know I’ve been away for some time. This is because the last month of my life has been, to date, the most portentous adventure I have ever had. (I should mention now that I am doing much, much better presently, and where the physical issues are concerned, I am finding tremendous relief.) Over the course of what has felt like eons, never have I felt more abandoned, terrified, frustrated, isolated, despondent, frail, and grief-stricken. Paradoxically, never have I felt more loved (Michael Olsen, my heart beats your name), more cared for (Friends, both internet and tangibly based, your prayers, texts, e-mails, and comments softened sickness’ axe), more reliant upon a strength not my own (Father, I am yours, wholly and entirely), and strong. Yes, strong.
Because I survived.
At 30 years of age, I can say with a hundred precent certainty that it is true: whatever does not kill you will in fact make you stronger. Had I been given the option to forgo this growing opportunity, I would have steadfastly declined. Martyrdom isn’t really my thing.
Though I saw many doctors, not one of them could tell me what was going on. Could be this, could be that, this might be related, or it might not, and on and on. One thing they did agree on: get some sleep and try to relax. Hmm, alrighty then. Lovely advice; however, do you know what does not help one suffering from anxiety related insomnia relax? Multiple physicians expressing, explicitly, that it is imperative that you relax. A little counterintuitive, if you ask me.
I gave it a shot, though.
I read — thank you, Diana Gabaldon; once more you saved me from resorting to terrible literature — and I drank lots and lots of Sleepytime tea, with honey. An addict of anything sweet, I began to look forward to that part with great alacrity. And, after a while, lavender candle undulating beside me, I would begin to relax. Once I thought myself drowsy enough to nod off, I would make my way over to the bed and . . . . . . .
And there I continued to wait for some time. Usually I saw dawn’s arms stretch through my window before my eyelids shut for any length of time. My mind can be a wondrous place to frolic and play, to invent and explore; it can also be a prison. Many a night I lie awake wondering if tonight would be the night the Lord would take me home; shaking and shuddering with such vigor my bones ached and I dare not cry for fear of disrupting the fitfully slumbering beast named anxiety. This was my fear: that I might die. It grabbed me by throat with three spindly fingers, and squeeeeezed.
After a few weeks of this I realized that the only thing more frightening than actually dying, is spending large quantities of time contemplating when it will happen and how. In my bathroom was a whole drawer full of bottles, offering a reprieve from these thoughts; things that would numb it, numb me. But there was only one cure.
Just look at that sun! He made that!
Looking at this picture led me to consider something: we, the human race, we only needed not to burn or freeze to death, you see? A device, a source, a functioning constituent capable of rendering our survival, that’s all. It didn’t need to be a healing power, curing jaundice and imparting vitamin D on its rays. It certainly didn’t need to be pretty; turn the sky into a living, breathing painting each morning and evening. It didn’t need to consort with the breeze either, where together their union soothes our bones pliable, drenches our skin in warmth, prickles our skin, all to send a rush of shivers down our back. Wherever your feelings may lie on the sun’s derivation, you can’t tell me that when you look at it, whether it’s peeking over a mountaintop or melting into the horizon, or even simply glowing radiantly behind a curtain of diaphanous clouds, you don’t feel something stir and saunter deep within you; a visceral reaction.
You may not agree with me, and that’s okay, but I believe a great deal of thought went on before the incipience of the sun. Much of what we take for granted on a daily basis, I don’t think it’s an accident it brings us joy.
This picture, this is me surrendering. It was taken last week while on a hike with my sweet husband. I wasn’t feeling wonderful, but I wasn’t feeling horrible either, and so we made the best of it. You see, I’ve decided that symptoms aside, if I can stand, walk, and talk, then I am going to do everything I normally do. I am going to exercise, I am going to go out to dinner, I am going to eat popcorn in bed. I may not be able to make myself unafraid, but I can choose how I will respond to that fear. I choose to live. So long as I am alive, I am going to live. And I do this by surrendering. I suspect I’ll have to do it quite a few more times. Millions, perhaps. The things that change who you are, good and bad — they don’t happen overnight. Where this road is leading me, I do not yet know, but therein lie the adventure, yes?
So, here I am. Surprise me.
Hoping you are well,
Tossing and turning isn’t so good unless you’re a pancake or a sunflower.
And even church is subject to a schedule. So with that
a change of plans was in order, because I wasn’t about to let time get away with another easy cantrip.
Foggy ears and ringing eyes, I would see twice as well, hear sounds amusing and unsung.
It took a moment or seventeen, but I first caught her tune on the whir of the washing machine.
Ah-rhum-rhum-rhum Ah-rhum-ahrum-ahrum Ah-rhum-rhum-rhum.
Vibrations danced on my bones, turning them a way I hadn’t thought of in a while but should have.
the highlights, but had forgotten the whole story, whittled it down to something gauzy and fair, and just a little smug.
A break in the motion brought my heart up fast: Lhul-Roo-Klunk.
A tremor, a tremble, a trombone — that’s where I felt her next: in the mustache
of the man playing brass crowns, and Little Walter’s sensational cup. Play, Walter, play
and take me on a journey of blues and jazz, and all that punchy pizazz. I could never be as cool as you, but my toes don’t know that, so we won’t tell ‘em.
I smiled at them; them like children who haven’t any idea their clothes are on inside out.
The telephone rang: R-rwaaring-R-rwaaring-R-rawaaring.
. . . . . and I really was surprised to find her there. She sang for a little while
until she finally tired of being ignored. Then she talked to that Voice, but I stopped listening after that because she had already hung up.
I couldn’t blame her.
Swish, swish, swish–plink! He stood over that club, determined as beets
to make air soar and grass stick. Air was in some mood today and rerouted his plans; to Tibet, I think.
He smiled about it.
And of all the sounds I heard, all of Sunday’s finest playing in my ear,
it was your smile, sweet dear, majestic man, that I longed most to hear.
If I looked up too quickly, I knew it would be over.
And so I closed my eyes, squeezed them till I saw stars — or maybe I really did.
Toes pointed inward, my feet moved in sloppy ovals,
Faster and faster to the music in my head.
On lavender’s pigment and nimbus’ laugh, I twirled, moving my arms up and down to see if I might fly.
Pink tulle tickled my thighs and bright blue boots slicked with rain carried me
upward and honest.
I liked honest; she smelled good.
Smiling until my cheeks throbbed for mercy, I spun.
I spun. I spun. I spin.
Try as you might, you could not stop me from spinning; for even the earth decided at that moment to go stagnant and still and stuffy,
I would remain in motion. My delicious ankles
like centrifuges, turning this body, lithe and nimble,
into sun’s gleam, into cat’s purr, into tree’s whisper.
And my boots so, so blue . . . can you see them? They almost tasted melancholy.
but not quite.
Because blue is just blue even if love does not requite.
Press on and laugh.
There was never a foe to defeat laughter. She is cynosure;
an intoxicating fragrance given freely, without barter.
I make her mine. All mine.
Her and those boots, they belong to me. And if you could be brave,
your boots will know.
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Shoulders and calves. Oily scalp and big teeth. Sense of humor and charisma. Eloquence and fetching smile. Temper. Sweet tooth. Optimism and open mind. Intelligence and sophistication. Impatience and obstinacy. Cynosural wit.
My father gave these things to me. Some I didn’t want. Many I will always be grateful for. All of them make me his daughter.
She will start out small. Small hands. Small feet. Small smiles in the thick of sleep. She will not stay that way, however. She will grow. And you must grow with her.
I woke up with something loud on my heart.
Does that happen to you? For me, it’s quite normal. I imagine that on the slippery tunnel ride out, whatever dreams I might’ve been having leave their foggy imprint on my brain — like a carbon copy — staining my conscious mind.
I am not an expert on sleep, nor do I purport to understand how dreams effect the mind; but being someone who both dreams and sleeps with regular attendance, and then wakes up (Or at least I think I am awake; ever since seeing Inception, I’ve had to wonder if . . .) I can strongly argue a case wherein I hypothesize that, the manner in which one wakes will set a tone for that individual. Maybe not for the entire day, but for some time.
If I were an artist — the kind that uses color rather than colorful language — and I attempted to draw my mind in its unconscious state, I believe it would resemble something like this:
Or perhaps this:
Nonsensical. Incomprehensible. Bizarre. Erratic. Dysfunctional.
I dream loud. And if possible, I’m busier asleep than when I am awake. So, more often than not, the first minutes of my morning are not the quiet ascent into wakefulness, but weighted with the certainty that something unfavorably odd has slunk off into a cavern, where it will wait for me till nightfall.
On this particular morning, I lie in bed for a while trying to define the loudness, staring at the popcorn ceiling, and wondering what it might manifest into; or, if it would stay hidden from me. It does that, you know. There was a puppy to release from the confines of the bathroom, however, and coffee awaiting me in the kitchen, so I decided to leave it be for the time being, and begin my morning.
Today is my day off, and while I look forward to the day in which nothing is expected of me, this day is most often accompanied by wildly eminent expectations. Is there a bit of irony there? I don’t know. Irony is one of those abstruse trivialities I keep a constant wary eye on; I just don’t trust it. I don’t even get it, truthfully. So I turned my back on it, or I didn’t, and I read a magazine. I get magazines.
And as I sifted through the rubbery pages adorned with lovely pictures, Pandora’s finest providing soundtrack, I suddenly knew what it was.
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It began in October of 2002, with tender embraces and lingering caresses; the way we held each other during the incipient stage, is how the branches cleave to their blooms in the autumn.
Don’t let go, they seem to say. Hold on tighter. Just a few days more.
We couldn’t bear to be away from one another, and because of that, often spent countless hours — not to mention tanks of gas — commuting back and forth from Orange to Dana Point, roughly 35 miles separating us.
The nights Michael arrived on my doorstep, well after he should have gone on home to bed, and after a 10 hour shift at On The Border (a Mexican restaurant where he waited tables), were some of the most exhilarating nights of my life.
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This morning, my best friend is on my mind . . .
She leaves for Kenya in roughly a month and a half, and will be gone for a whole year. I am bursting at the seams with pride. This woman, this impassioned follower of Christ, is giving up every comfort she knows to lay down her will before His, and serve His people among a third-world country. I will also admit now that, selfishly, I don’t want her to leave. I will miss her greatly. While we do not see one another as often as I would like, Amanda is like the extra rich canister of cocoa you keep in the back of your pantry; you don’t drink it every day, but should you be in need of something satisfying and restorative, it’s there waiting for you. I am thrusting my selfish heart to the floor, zip-locking my sadness, and focusing on the Good and Light, both of which are Amanda and God’s call for her life.
Kenya, in itself, is a beautiful country; the people, the landscape, the culture — it’s brimming with life and vitality. There are pockets of this wild and unindustrialized land that are prospering and thriving. The people are healthy. The children are being educated. Lives are being changed for the better. These advancements have much to do with people, missionaires like Amanda, who generously and selflessly give of themselves . . . for free.