Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Fly

A fly got into my room yesterday.  He was a sizable little creature, with large wings and red eyes.  When I first saw him whizzing around and buzzing loudly I of course was annoyed, like most people I am not a fan of the creepy little insect, and I started to wonder how I could best dispose of the pest.  I thought about the cat I once had who seemed to specialize in flying insects.  Give that cat a mouse and he would look at you like you were nuts, but get a moth in the room and that cat was instantly on the hunt.  But alas, Tyndale (for that was the cat's name) has long been dead, and I had to find some other way of dealing with my uninvited guest, the fly.

Not owning a fly swatter, and unable to think of any other way of removing the problem, I soon chose to ignore him, keeping my hallway door open in the hopes that he would find his way out into the hall and not return.

But he stayed, all afternoon I heard him buzzing against my windows.  And suddenly I found that my heart had begun to reach out to the helpless little creature.  You see, I have three floor length windows in my room and through those windows could be seen a sunny world filled with lush trees and grass.  The fly could see where he belonged, he could see it, but for some reason he could not reach it.  I heard his frustrated buzzing and the desperate way in which he threw himself against the panes of glass again and again.  Every once in a while he would take a break from his endeavors and fly around my head as if he was begging for my assistance.  I would get up and open the door that led out to the porch, but my movement would startle him and he would resume his fruitless attack against the window pane.

After the sun went down I found him buzzing around one of the small lamps in my room.  I took the lamp and held it outside the door leading into the hallway, he followed the light of course and once he was out I quickly closed the door behind him.  At that point I thought that was the end of it, that he would find his way out the front door and that would be the end of it.

But the next day, today, the fly returned to my room.  Again I heard him desperately trying to find a way to break through the invisible barrier that barred him from his world.  Only today his buzzing was less forceful, broken up with moments of silence.  I could tell he was getting tired, and I knew that if he didn't find a way out he would die in here.

At one point I saw the fly crawling around on my floor, I decided to try and capture the him.  So I got a glass and a piece of card, I thought i would trap him under the glass, slide the card under, and then I could free him into the wild.  But while the fly was obviously tired, he wasn't tired enough to let me get anywhere near him, and all my efforts seemed only to spur him on in trying to get out of my windows, which let light in but was not going to let anything out.  I tried opening the porch door for him and attempted to waft him outside, but I think all that only served to scare the poor, tired creature further.

I really felt sorry for the little guy by this time.  He had made his way into a world in which he didn't belong.  And by the time he realized his mistake it was too late.

We are not unlike this fly sometimes.  We wander away from where we need to be, and when we try to get back to where we belong we cannot seem to get there.  So often we can see where we need to be so clearly, but these invisible barriers get in our way.  And little do we know that doors have opened up behind us, little do we know that there are forces trying to help us out, if only we would stay still, if only we would stop and look around, face our fears.  Sometimes we have to fly into the darkness to truly make it back into the sunlight.

The buzzing has finally stopped completely.  I want to believe that at some point he finally followed me out the door and is buzzing around outside, free.  This is what I want to believe, but part of me knows that when I inspect my windowsills or look behind my dresser, I will find him, my little fly with large wings and red eyes, wasted away by his futile efforts.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The small-talk algorithm

I am excruciatingly bad at small-talk.  This is something that has plagued me my entire life.  If you put me down in the middle of a large crowd of people (really any group of 5 or more) I start to feel like a deer in headlights.  Now I will say that this has gotten better over time, but not by much.

I think the problem is that I don't know what people talk about in those situations.  Sure there are the questions you ask a person upon first meeting them: How was your day?  Did you do anything interesting? etc. but that only goes so far and honestly it is usually pretty boring stuff.  So what do people talk about?  I know guys (and some girls) like to talk about sports, and that is great, I get that.  While I may know nothing about most sporting events, it is something people are excited about, something they truly enjoy, I get that.
The thing is, I like listening to people talk about their passions, I get excited for them, but most of the chatter that I hear at social events are not about people's passions, at least I don't think so.

I force myself to go to these sorts of gatherings because I know I have much to learn from them.  And I often find myself sitting in the midst of these groups of people trying to figure it all out and usually failing.  There is no pattern that I can discern, it is just little conversations none of which consist of very much, but all together take up an evening.  But how do you have these little conversations, that is what i can't seem to figure out.

I am not saying that every conversation has to be profound, far from it.  I have conversations about nothing all the time, but they only seem to happen with certain people, and I enjoy them, I don't even understand the stuff I hear at these parties.

There are times at parties that I feel so alien to what is going on that I start to feel as if I am some sort of physicist or mathematician trying to solve some deep scientific mystery.

Monday, August 27, 2012

journal entry: I see an existential crisis coming on...

It doesn't take much to make a good day, a joyful day even, end on an empty note.  It doesn't take much at all really, just a moment, a single moment of forgetfulness, of letting your guard down or thinking that life could only get better and then, BAM, you are hit by all that anxiety and uncertainty as it comes rushing back in.

Of course the anxiety is always there, and the uncertainty can't be helped.  What really happens is that there are times when I forget, when I am distracted enough not to worry.

This is not something serious, in fact, I don't think what I experience is in any way unique.  We are far more similar than we give ourselves credit for, we're just all to afraid to express those fears to each other.  Thank goodness too, can you imagine a world where everyone always spoke open and honestly about their deep fears and anxieties?  It is not just out of personal protection that we don't discuss these sorts of things too often, we are politely refraining from burdening our neighbor with our problems.

For me these anxieties  are in large part school related.  This is my last year of Seminary and for the life of me I cannot remember where I let those other two years get off to.  And here it is the final act of a play that has been remarkably similar to so many other plays I have been in, it is uncanny really.  Only difference now is that I know how this story goes, but I am still looking for that plot twist, that surprise ending.

Damn, I am maudlin tonight.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

What I thought about in the car today

I remember saying to you, “You never hear the one with your name on it.”  And later I saw you carving your name into a bullet, storing it safely in your breast pocket.  I laughed at you then, but at night as you slept soundly I woke with dark dreams in my head. 

I smile politely when people tell me about their assurance, whatever it may be, but inside I am scornful.  “Ha,” I say to myself, “To be so certain is to ignore the complexity of the world,” and I feel like a superior species as I sit there knowing that the veil cannot be lifted, that nothing can be known for sure.
But as I lay there in the dark, with shadowy dreams of war swiftly slipping from my memory, I prayed.  I prayed that I would be shown what was underneath it all.  I prayed that I could see with all certainty the end of the road.  The answer came in the form of sleep and dreams that could not be remembered.  

Saturday, July 14, 2012

I'm a really good goalie playing against myself

Unfortunately I am unable to do the next two prompts because I am not at home and don’t have access to my photos or a dictionary where I can pick out words randomly.  So tonight I will write something else.
I am only three weeks away from being done with CPE.  I can actually see the light at the end of the tunnel as far as that is concerned.  But I have to admit I don’t feel all that great about how my summer has gone.  Sure, I have been busy with CPE, and that has been incredibly stressful, but I had high hopes that I would be able to do something else with my summer other than chaplaincy.  I wanted to work on losing some weight for instance.  This is hard enough for me without all the stress, so I don’t know what I was thinking setting a goal like that, still, I feel I have let myself down.  Honestly, I am really terrible at meeting goals that I set for myself, there are certainly things I want to do, but I have spent so much of my life wandering around inside my own head, I actually find it difficult to do much without outside pressure. 
Anyway, I will keep setting goals for myself and I will keep looking for ways to make myself turn these goals into habits.  I know I am not the only one in the world who has problems like this, but I often feel that I have it particularly bad, that I am particularly weak-willed.  It shows a distinct lack of character on my part.  Is it possible to build character without outside assistance?  Is there really such a thing as ‘self-help’? 
I just got interrupted by a very long call.  I suppose I can continue to talk about my self-discipline issues but I no longer care, I guess.  Nothing happened in the call to make me less concerned with myself, I am just really tired now, and writing about myself is just as draining as talking about myself can be.  

Friday, July 13, 2012

Prompt #1: My little orange Hamlet

Prompt #1: Close your eyes briefly.  Think of one object that is in the room and focus on it.  Without opening your eyes, recall as much detail as you can about it.  After 3 minutes or so, open your eyes and write about that object without looking at it.  -

Next to my bed is a small bookshelf with two shelves.  It acts as my night stand.  On top are the normal things one would find on a night stand: a lamp, a coaster with a glass of water on it, a remote control for the TV, that sort of thing, but on the shelves are books.  The upper shelf has an assortment of old hardcover books one of which is an a copy of ‘Hamlet’.  It is a slim volume with an orange cloth binding.  The edges are all worn and the pages are dark with age.  The book was probably new in the fifties or sixties, it doesn’t have any fancy commentary or definitions inside, it is just the text.  I imagine this book is the sort of thing used by actors in their local community theater.  I wonder who used this particular copy?  I imagine it was some aging Hamlet, a man in his forties, pudgy and balding, but thrilled to finally be given a chance to perform such a seminal role.  He must have poured over the pages of his little book, and even though he didn’t understand everything that he was saying, he memorized each and every line perfectly.  He had heard once that it was disrespectful to the writer to make changes to the text, and the last thing he wanted to do was disrespect Shakespeare by getting the words wrong. 
His performance was probably wooden, unremarkable, and yet delivered with such love, such devotion not just to Shakespeare, but to the theatre.  Playing Hamlet would be a source of pride in an otherwise unremarkable life.  Shakespeare has that effect on people, to be able to say his words to an audience is to be given life.  When our aged Hamlet opens his little dog-eared play book he leaves behind the tragic mediocrity of his own life and he takes on a princely tragedy.  He probably never made the connection between his own desires for personal meaning and the desires of his beloved Hamlet, and that would be the truest tragedy of all…

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Start again...again

Deep breath.

Okay, so I failed again.

I tried, over and over again I sat down to write, but a mixture of stress and other psychological factors kept getting in the way, and writing for even 20 minutes was just too much.  I have been a dry well lately; more than usual that is, and as much as I would like to deny it, I need help.  One of the reasons I want to do this 'project' (I guess it can be called a project) is because I do find it difficult to articulate myself, particularly in writing.  Also, I think it will be useful to exercise my writing skills for the sake of sermons, and of course just general creative stretching is good for the soul.  But what is a girl to do when she can barely form a single sentence while staring at a blank screen?  The dreaded prompts.  I so very much did not want to tie myself to a predetermined set of prompts, but I suppose some of us just need training wheels at first.  I am no stranger to God cutting back my pride, it happens all the time.  So if prompts are what I need - then prompts are what I need.  So I looked, and honestly the internet has little to offer and the writing prompt books in the bookstore were not much better.

But after a while I did find this:   They are okay, and they will do.

So I will start at the beginning and use these.  Hopefully writing will come more easily long before I get through all of these prompts.