I want vibrant. I want deep brown and red. I want photographs that are underdeveloped and grainy. I want to wear lacy underwear and I want to churn butter. I want to buy my produce at farmer’s markets and I want to walk to work. I want to be out in the sun at 1 o’ clock in the afternoons. I want to be outdoorsy and I want to sit by a sheep for the whole day. I want to kiss deeply and I want to dive into a freezing cold lake. I want an outdoor bathtub and I want sunshine. I want lots and lots of artwork on my walls. I want colour exploding out of every corner, nook, and baseboard. I want noise. I want rain on a tin roof. I want to have to shout over all the noise in my life. And then sometimes, I want to be afraid to even whisper. I want the kind of love that could tear you apart or hold you together. I want fabric covered buttons and red wine. I want to see my breath in the fall air. I want gigantic sunglasses. I want bright red lipstick some days and deep maroon on others. I want a blunt fringe. I want maps everywhere. I want balloons on my birthday and laughter, oh so much laughter. I want freckles. I want a wind that whips me around. I want it all.
Change comes slowly, but I swear it will come.
Its going to be beautiful, baby. Because I want it to be.
And I refuse to accept any other reality than this one I’ve dreamed up. This one I’ve written down. This one I’ve sung, breathed, painted, photographed. This one I’ve loved.
This one I’ve done everything but lived.
Its a dangerous business going out your door, but it might be more perilous to stay inside.
Adventure is out there. Step onto the road.
Listening to a BBC Africa report and reading the New York Times.
This section caught my eye: “People stay up late here,” Leriadis said. “We wake up late and always take naps. I don’t even open my office until 11 a.m. because no one comes before then.” He took a sip of his wine. “Have you noticed that no one wears a watch here? No clock is working correctly. When you invite someone to lunch, they might come at 10 a.m. or 6 p.m. We simply don’t care about the clock here.”
This article is talking about an island off the coast of Greece that is reported to have some of the healthiest, and oldest, residents in the world. Hard to document, but you can’t deny that our bodies start to fall apart under all the time-based stress we put them through.
Late nights, late mornings and a glass of wine without a watch. Sounds like a better life to me.
Let me post this video on every form of social media I have.
This is what I’m thinking about today.
I’ve felt the pressure to be this trope in my life. The Manic Pixie Dream Girl. Not that there is anything wrong with being quirky, childlike, or carefree, but there is a danger, as I’ve written about before, in reducing oneself or others to a single story. And there is a danger in being something for the wrong reasons. If you are sassy, classy, and a bit smart-assy for yourself, thats fine, but don’t exist to further the storyline of someone else.
Let yourself feel when you want to. Throw it all to the wind when you need to. Cry when crying seems important, and laugh when you’re tired of crying. Have your own interests, your own family, your own job, your own popcorn. Exist because you are brilliant. You’ll do more for the world that way.
I’ve denied critical parts of myself, critical emotions, because I felt they would get in the way of other people’s development. I’ve stifled in order to inspire. But I am not a muse. You are not a muse. We’re all people. Full, complicated, quirky individuals, with our own hopes and dreams and futures.
The manic pixie perpetuates the myth of women as caregivers at our very core. That we can go fix these lonely sad men so that they can go fix the world.
I am not required to play mother to the world. I am called to live fully in it. Not as a manic pixie dream girl, fixing the tragic heroes that come into my life, but as the tragic hero herself. Its my screenplay.
“The truth is the Christian life is marked by crosses, by thorns in the side, by sacrifice. There is a reason that historically, traditionally, our heroes are all martyrs, men and women famous not for taking up their winnings but laying down their lives.”
I came across this quote on Donald Miller’s blog this morning. The part that really catches my attention is not that our lives are a series of crosses to be taken up or thorns to be borne. Its hard to deny that reality of life, no matter how well or poorly we handle it. The part that caught my attention were the words not taking up their winnings but laying down their lives.
How often am I waiting to take up my winnings? How often do I feel like life owes me something and I’m just waiting to get to the payoff? That I suffer, not for the sake of understanding grace or out of love for others, but in anticipation of some sort of payout, some kind of recognition or medal or maybe as a test to prove I’m worth the good things that will come after. And in that, I lose something. I lose opportunity. I live in the perpetual fear of not earning the reward, of not getting to the better place, of not reaching the winner’s podium.
I don’t die to myself so I never really live.
But those that lay down their lives, has anyone else ever been so alive? You’ve given up your need to cling to the world, to the flesh and sinew and plans and schemes that hold you together. You let go of tomorrow, of what you will eat, drink, or wear or who will love you. You let go of the plans that force you to perform, to dance to someone else’s rhythm. You die, and you are given back life. You are given back yourself. You no longer forced to meet some expectation, to measure up, to win. You can’t be denied a medal when you refuse to play by their rules. If you don’t want their winnings, you don’t have to win. You don’t have to practice, study, perfect your ability to live like the world lives. And then look at how the horizon opens to you. You suddenly have the time to love your neighbor, to love yourself. You have the freedom to feel whatever you want, think whatever you want, love whatever you want. Because, if you’ve died, there is nothing else anyone can do to you. You lose the chains. You become free.
I’ve wondered what it looks like to be spent on behalf of reckless, all-consuming love. What it means to give up the world’s expectations, to even give up my own. To stop the race. To be a healer rather than a fighter. What does it truly mean to live in grace?
I think it means death. And I think it means freedom.
Yesterday was frustrating. Class was beyond frustrating.
But today? Today is good. And today makes days like yesterday bearable. I’ve gotten a lot of good news today. And I’m thinking about what I want and how to get it. And I’m sure I’ll write more on all that soon. But for now, I’m holding tight to this feeling. And sitting down and watching the storm clouds roll in. And I know I’ve got forever at my fingertips.
There is one thing that could make this day better. But even that can’t slow me down.
Last night…this morning…all of the above? I talked with Kipp for over two hours, about our days, about NFL Blitz (heeeyyy N64), about old videos he’d watched of his life in Sioux City and old green jackets and how love seems to spread you around and live different pieces of you in places you never expected. And you can’t always go get them back. Sometimes you have to recreate, move on, love the new shape of you that has been molded and sculpted by love, pain, and loss.
And then, like what seems to happen a lot these days, our conversation devolved (or maybe evolved) into me crying, into us analyzing my insecurities and struggles with trust. To him reminding me that I’m the only one who matters here. There is no standard to which I am being measured and there is no other opinion (even his) that holds any weight. Fuck the world, and fuck the people or the circumstances that would tell you otherwise. Sometimes I feel like I lose sight of the way the world is going and I get lost in this feeling like maybe everything is going to fall apart, maybe life won’t turn out the way it should.
But maybe it will. Maybe it won’t be perfect, but maybe it shouldn’t be. Maybe it just is and nothing can really go wrong. But then again, things can go horribly wrong and they do every day, but maybe we’re not supposed to get caught up in that. We’re not supposed to take the weight of the world onto our shoulders. We’re just supposed to know ourselves and to love as fucking deeply as we can.
And maybe its time to trust in the world that has hurt you. Maybe its time to let people love you. Maybe its time to believe God reaches out to us in the bread and wine. Maybe its time to let go of the walls and the barriers and the protection. Maybe I can let someone else in. Maybe I can let myself out. Maybe its time to dance naked in the leaves on a freaking unseasonably warm fall day. Who knows.
But I am loved and I can trust. And today is the day. And tomorrow will be too. And there is no room for apology.
I am really feeling blessed tonight to have such understanding, compassionate, and like-minded roommates. It has been really meaningful to me to have people I can talk with and share my life with in the midst of very day-to-day things.
This weekend, Elisabeth and I went to a pumpkin patch and got lost in a corn maze. It was my first corn maze ever. We were really confused about why they handed us a map at the beginning. Its a maze. You’re supposed to get lost and wander. Thats the whole point, right? No. About halfway into the maze, I started to feel like I would never get out and I was going to be stuck in this field of corn that I was pretty sure was the size of 1/2 of Illinois forever. The map made it a lot easier.
Then we went and picked pumpkins from the patch. I overestimated my ability to lift pumpkin weight and got a really big one. I was soon grateful to the couple who offered to let us put our pumpkins in their wagon for the walk back to the front. Elisabeth carved her pumpkin into a happy face and I made mine scary. Which basically means I made a happy pumpkin face, but I added eyebrows and a wart on the nose. I think its one of my best pumpkins yet. Then her family came over and we had a special dinner and watched Sleepy Hollow by candlelight. It felt very homey and I felt special to be a part of their bonding time. It was a perfect combination of fall things.
Then this morning, we went to the UCC church in town. Tonight, Diana came by from her work in Chicago and they both helped me work on a paper that I am nervous about. The dishwasher may be broken, the sink may leak, and the front screen door doesn’t quite close all the way, but its nice to be home.
“And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.”
Timshel, thou mayest.
“When you’re a child, you’re the center of everything. Everything happens for you. Other people? They’re only ghosts furnished for you to talk to. But when you grow up you take your place and you’re at your own size and shape. Things go out of you to others and come in from other people. It’s worse, but its much better too.”
“In uncertainty I am certain that underneath their topmost layers of frailty men want to be good and want to be loved. Indeed, most of their vices are attempted short cuts to love.”
“Before you hate those men you must know this. My father always told it at the last: No child ever had such care as I. The whole camp became my mother. It is a beauty–a dreadful kind of beauty. And now goodnight. I can’t talk any more.”
“The trouble with you…is that you don’t have devils to explain things with.”
“A few are women from the moment they are born. Abra has the loveliness of woman, and the courage–and the strength–and the wisdom. She knows things and she accepts them. I would have bet she couldn’t be small or mean or even vain except when it’s pretty to be vain.”
“I don’t think I’ve ever known what you people call happiness. We think of contentment as the desirable thing, and maybe that’s negative.”
“Thou mayest, thou mayest! What glory! It is true that we are weak and sick and quarrelsome, but if that is all we ever were, we would, millenniums ago, have disappeared from the face of the earth. A few remnants of fossilized jawbone, some broken teeth in strata of limestone, would be the only mark man would have left of his existence in the world.”
It has been a while since I have lost myself in the end of a good story. A new story. Well, an old story, but new to me. The words leap of the page and the end weaves together in such a complex, but perfect manner. In a way that leaves you feeling like you could have never expected it, but it couldn’t have been anything else. I followed John Steinbeck tonight. I followed him east of Eden and found that we can choose our paradise.
We can choose our paradise in a way that blinds us to the world. We can create angels out of monsters, ignore the realities. But ultimately, that fairy tale will come crashing down, and you’ll be left with a bullet in your shoulder and darkness behind your eyes. We can choose a paradise that secludes us from the world. We can create a safe, pure, perfect land where nothing can touch us, a story where all the characters glisten and perform. But we will find we are alone in that world. And Eden will feel empty. Or we can create a paradise of reality. An Eden that accepts our faults, our flaws, and our failures. A paradise that is painted with our individualities, our mistakes, our spilled paints. We can look inside ourselves and choose to be. We don’t have to be perfect, and we can choose to conquer darkness. We don’t have to deny reality, and in allowing that, we give ourselves the power to change it.
We don’t have to search for Eden anymore. We can create it. Exactly where we are.
PhD or work? Des Moines or travel? Love and commitment or freedom? Policy or practical? One or many? Vegan or vegetarian? Casual or fancy? Outdoors or in? Summer or winter?
How many unanswered questions can one girl have? And how does she go about answering them?
I need to make some decisions.