Sunday, December 9, 2012

It's Midnight; No Time for a Title

I can’t believe how inconsistent life is. There are weeks, months even, I don’t have anything to say, not really. And then BAM—a book walks into my life, a TED talk, a thought, a moment and suddenly there are eighty thousand blog posts and essays I’d like to write. But during the doldrums weeks of nothing new I fashioned a life that made time for 500 words a day and nothing more. That just doesn’t cut it sometimes.

In four days, I’ll be across the globe in Chicago and then, hours later, in Arizona. In five days, I’ll have watched The Hobbit. In six days, my roommate will be married. A day later I’ll be back home, partying (re: napping) with my parents, seeing family and friends, and two weeks after that I’ll be in Australia and New Zealand for heaven only knows how long.

There’s packing to be done, presents to buy, an apartment to clean, goodbyes to give, grades and all sorts of school-related lose ends, but something else is niggling. It’s sort of like I’m drifting down a river, letting the current take me and I suddenly realize there’s a shark swimming next to me who has been trying to get my attention for the past three miles.

Or something like that.

But I’ve only just noticed the dorsal fin (or is that dolphins? There’s a shark in my imaginary river; marine biology is not my strong suit), and below the surface of the water lies 90% of both of us. Maybe more. I’m not really up-to-date on my shark to iceberg comparisons. Maybe I can make a better comparison within my own field of expertise. It’s like the first time you notice a long line of foreshadowing. You start rifling through the past pages to find the patterns, to understand it deeper, but your mind is already hungering for the next pages. You ache to know the realization to the fullest, to connect the dots and draw conclusions.

I like the shark analogy better because what’s unseen—the dots to connect, the pattern from which you can realize—is ginormous. Like so many subjects that draw me in, I’d have to read for days straight before I was even sure it was a dolphin under the water and not a shark. Meanwhile I have to keep swimming because there’s school stuff to take care of, an apartment to clean, and a plane to catch.

So, in shorthand, here’s the shark/dolphin/foreshadowing:

First, a TED talk about how to live a joyful, wholehearted life. The secret? Vulnerability.

“The willingness to say ‘I love you” first. The willingness to do something where there are no guarantees. The willingness to breathe through waiting for the doctor to call after your mammogram. The willingness to invest in a relationship that may or may not work out.”

The next surprise was a novel I found in Busan’s English Library (a godsend if there ever was one). “A spare and haunting, wise and beautiful novel about the endurance of the human spirit and the subtle ways individuals reclaim their humanity in a city ravaged by war.”

A devotional-type book going through Psalms 121-134 that offers a beautiful look at the joy, pain, and endurance of a life of faith. It is, for me, a comforting read, a reminder that I’m not in control of this mad-packed life.

Perhaps the most surprising is this rather dated scholarly book called Silencing the Self: Women and Depression. It was written in the early nineties, so there’s quite a bit of data about inequality in marriage and relationships that seems quite dated. But in many ways that old news feel is made exponentially more alarming by the turns of recent perspectives on gender expectations. Super interesting stuff (I can see you rolling your eyes, Libby, Hilary, Mom. That’s enough).

And finally, for the past three months I’ve stopped reading and studying the Bible. Instead I’ve been memorizing it, alternating between a chapter in the Old Testament with a chapter in the New. Honestly I think it’s the best thing that’s happened to my faith in many, many years. I can’t recommend it enough. So far I’ve got the first three chapters in James, Romans 12, Psalms 4, 5, 13, and Job 38. Tomorrow begins James 4 and then a refresher course in Psalm 8.

I don’t know what all that meant. Maybe it was mind-vomit, and the Lord bless you, keep you, and make you meet a benevolent shark/dolphin in the next twenty-four hours if you read all the way through it. You are beautiful people.

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