17 August 2006

yesterday morning, i sat on my bed listening to NPR, and opened my new moleskine notebook. legend has it that moleskine notebooks were used by artists and poets and writers all through the 20th century, carried in pockets of van gogh and hemingway and picasso, traveling around the globe as the avant-garde found inspiration for their imaginings. probably the manufacturer of this incarnation of the moleskine has simply tapped into a beautiful marketing scheme, but these artists did in fact use pocket-sized notebooks. repositories for flashes of insight and skeletons of future works of genius.

there's something magical about a blank notebook or journal. empty pages, waiting to be filled. even when all that's inscribed there is ordinary, mundane bits of information, they tell a story of a life. and, in amongst the mundanities, there are bits and pieces of wisdom and brilliance and passion. sometimes insights of my own. sometimes those of others far more gifted than i, culled from the world around me as i wander museums and bookstores and the mall. yes. the mall. it's amazing where inspiration appears unbidden.

just as i finished unwrapping my black, grid-lined notebook with a pocket at the back to hold treasures, my mama walked into my room holding something in her hand, saying "i think i'll send these to madelyn." when she got closer, i saw that she was holding three or four old notebooks of mine--relics of my childhood interest in hello kitty. but also the ancestors of my continuing love of a blank book, ready to be filled with thoughts and ideas.

16 August 2006

more simple (potentially frivolous) things that make me happy:
  • the way a newborn baby's stomach rises and falls as he breathes
  • british accents, especially glottal stops and crisp t's
  • periwinkle blue moths fluttering
  • unexpected color combinations
  • ice cream sandwiches from diddy riese followed by a burrito from tito's tacos
  • cardigan sweaters with big buttons
  • brie's black look
to be continued...

14 August 2006

it has been a dark few months. dark with flashes of light. because god is good and because no matter how dark things get—and they have gotten rather dark at moments—i can’t help seeing some of the beauties and graces god gives me regularly. but i have been turning away from those moments, back into a landscape of despair and discouragement and self-disgust. i have struggled to do anything worth while. i have woken almost every morning wondering what it is i live for, what reason i have to do what i have to do. if i didn’t have unavoidable obligations, i don’t honestly know where i would be right now. the impulse to run, to hide, to avoid everything, to just go away has been strong. and i have done so in some ways. i have turned my back on so many things that i treasure. on myself and the gifts i have always loved. on my friends and family on occasion. on my education and my goals. on my understanding of the gospel and my relationship with god. faced by the pain that i had come to associate with these things, i simply turned away.

last week i broke. after saying the same things over and over for months, after having lambasted myself as lazy for not changing when i knew what i needed to change, after having felt anger and hatred for myself for not having the strength to take the simple actions i needed to take in order to help myself, i finally realized that i could not do this. this wasn’t a new realization. i’ve been realizing exactly that for a long time. but i have always rejected it. i’ve always adamantly insisted that if only i would get up earlier or work harder or eat better or some combination of the three or any number of other practical solutions, then i would feel better and i would be able to move on. but last week i came face to face with the realization that i. can. not. help. myself.

it was a strange moment. full of grief. and full of grace. it left me weeping at my own inadequacy—past and present. but it also left me turning to god. so bereft of any hope that i could save myself that i was forced to turn to him and put myself into his hands. i had been so full of despair and afraid of life that day that i didn’t even trust myself to do that little—to actually say to god, “i trust thee. please help.” so i sought help in taking even that small step by going to talk to an ecclesiastical leader who is also an old friend.

as we talked and as we turned to the scriptures for insight and guidance, a beautiful thing happened. he kept turning to passages that spoke to me. that summoned up some principle or truth that has long been dear to me, that i have studied. and i felt the threads of my life twine and knit together. abstract lines of thought and study became urgently real in my moment of need. i left that night trusting god as i never have before. since then, my soul has known peace.

i know that things will not be simple. i know that i will still struggle, that i will still have some of the same problems i have had for the last two or three years. but i also know that i now have hope. that life looks beautiful again. that i see opportunities. that i recognize gifts. that i love myself again. and with that knowledge and that outlook—with god’s assurance and care—i can face the struggle.