Exploring where life and story meet!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Writing on writing

There can be nothing more exciting than someone writing on the topic of writing, well maybe a geometry theorem, but that depends how you feel about math.  My question is, why do certain people 'have to write' when the mood strikes them?  Does this apply to people who collect squirrel figurines, square dance enthusiasts, and people who enjoy memorizing pi?  I was born this way, it is something of an addiction, does this apply to other preoccupations and obsessions or solely to writers?  But then there are times I actually have the time and intention of writing but nothing to write about.  It is only when I 'have to write,' that I can't find the time or chance to do so, then I get all nervous and shaky like someone going cold turkey after getting hooked on some addictive substance.  Do they have treatment programs for people like me?

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Everything's okay, really!

We live in a world of superficial contradictions and metaphysical paradox.  Talk to anyone on the street or look at their social media sites and everything is great, fabulous, perfect, really!  Nobody else on the planet struggles with anything, ever, you are all alone and just plain weird.  Not so much.  Rather, we walk around pretending everything is great when we are barely hanging on, can hardly hold it together.  We want everyone else to think things are okay when we are secretly dying inside, anything to save face.  But it is okay to fall apart, to fail, to struggle, to ask 'why me?'  Why do we lie about our struggles and try to hide them, when it only increases our dismay and loneliness?  Because we don't want to appear weak, vulnerable, or uncool.  Our perception of how others perceive us is of far more value to us than our own well being: it is a selfish sort of martyrdom.

The good news is, we are not alone, everyone struggles with something, but few actually are bold enough to admit it, even to themselves.  We need not be ashamed, isolated, or despairing, for none are perfect nor have the perfect life, despite what they post on Facebook.  Struggle and sorrow are part of what it means to be human, at least in this current manifestation of reality; it is just part of life, so why not admit it and gain strength in the sharing?

But there is even more good news, nay great news!  Everyone struggles, sure, but how exactly does that help, besides to give you some modicum of comfort that you are not alone and it is normal?  It really doesn't, at least in a materialistic sense.  With that point of view, we might as well, 'eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die.'  Our sorrow means nothing.  Our grief is moot.  Our struggles vain. So why even bother?  Because there is some innate part of us that knows life is not as it should be; we were not made to live in an imperfect, fallen world.  We assume there must be a 'happy ever after' and are dismayed that we have not yet found it, yet still live on in hopes that it lies round the next bend.  How can we have hope in a world so devoid of meaning?  Either the materialists are wrong or our deepest yearnings are.

If there were no light would we have eyes?  If there was no sound would we have ears?  So why then do we hope and yearn if there is nothing beyond this vale of tears?  Why do we expect perfection in an imperfect world?  That innate yearning in every soul hints at a world, a future that will be fulfilled.  A time when 'happily ever after' comes true.  This is not a pointless story, there is a plot and an Author and a happy ending.  Your struggles, griefs, and fears are not in vain, they are the birth pangs of something better, something greater; they are the stumbling steps upon a path that leads to a world that is truly our home.

As the old christmas hymn puts it, "and ye beneath life's crushing load, whose forms are bending low, who toil along the climbing way, with painful steps and slow, look now!  For glad and golden hours come swiftly on the wing: oh, rest beside the weary road and hear the angels sing!"  And as another says, "the hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight."  It isn't just a story, it is The Story, it is your story.  Look a little deeper into 'the reason for the season,' and discover what life is all about; find your own happily ever after.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Tis the Season

It is that time of year again, no not the season of shopping and stress, that modern holiday is not one I care to celebrate, rather Advent is upon us once more.  It is the season set aside by the early church in anticipation of the coming King; it is a season of eager joy, personal reflection, repentance, and thankfulness, both looking back at Christ's birth and forward to the Second Coming.  And sadly it has been overlooked, forgotten, and pushed aside by the hecticness that is the modern observance of the holiday season between Thanksgiving and Christmas: namely stress, debt, and stuff, all the antithesis of the original meaning of the season.

I enjoy watching the movie, 'The Nativity Story,' this time of year, as they did a suburb job of capturing the gospel accounts of the events leading up to Christ's birth, if a little cheesy, but I love it for all of that.     They show a pregnant teenager's struggles in a society where such a condition outside of marriage is a capital offense.  We see Joseph, the usually overlooked fiancĂ©, heroically choosing to take Mary as his wife and this unborn child as his own, though it it is a scandal that will mark them the rest of their lives. We see a society in upheaval looking for a hero, a king, a conqueror, when it is a mere babe that has come to save the world from itself.  It is a tale full of beauty, joy, struggle, and hope and a reminder that often the thing least expected or wanted is actually the most important thing in the world, if only we had the ability to see it.

That is what advent is all about: seeing what the world otherwise cannot see.  We stop, we reflect, we are astonished anew, and hopefully come away refreshed and encouraged to go our way rejoicing, for the unthinkable has happened: God became flesh and dwelt among us!  That is the true meaning of the season and life itself, we will not find it rushing about madly to find 'the' gift or in a myriad of insipid parties, gatherings, and festivities.  This is a season of rejoicing and hope, there should be celebration and joy this time of year, but cramming our lives full of stuff and activities will not bring us joy.  Rather, it crept quietly into a stable two thousand years ago and merely waits for us to find it anew.

Of all the Christmas classics you might watch this year, 'The Nativity Story' is a beautiful reminder of what it is all about.  Charlie Brown tries valiantly but it ends as more an afterthought (that and I always find him a bit depressing for some reason).  'It's a Wonderful Life' is a charming story and well worth watching, but isn't quite the 'reason for the season.'  Rudolf isn't even close.  Frosty is cute, but again off course.  If you have the chance, sit down and watch it with your family and remember what the season is truly about.