Wednesday

Blah, Blah, Blog



The entire concept of blogging eludes me. I do it on my own time, but its more a cathartic, personal exercise in journal keeping than anything else. So it was confusing for me to suddenly have structure tacked onto my ritual of posting photos and lines from songs, poems, quotes, etc. My "Sarah in Real Life" blog is more of a collection of beautiful things than original thoughts or ideas.

But here we are, the end of another semester. And the end of this blog.

Part of me enjoyed writing for me again. I mentioned Robert Fulghum earlier and how he influenced my writing.  I think I can definitely detect shades of Bob in many of my posts. They are often in a sort of organized stream of consciousness format. I start with one random idea and one thing leads to another and BANG I'm talking about how chopsticks are symbolic of our roles in life or something like that.

It was difficult to keep this blog on track considering the audience of an English Class. Many days all I wanted to do was vent. I think on the whole it ended up being a mixture of both efforts.

A blog is essentially an invitation for the world to peek inside your head. Now given the state of the world today, this isn't really surprising. However, most of what comes up on a log is a lot of blah. Not always. But sometimes. Most of the time.

With that in mind, I'm tempted to say that in the end, it doesn't matter what I think, but what you as the reader liked. But that would be a lie. It matters very much what I think about my contributions to this. It is me in a handy technological archived package. On the whole I like it. So there.

(But I really hope you've liked it.)

I Feel Like I Should Apologize for this One....



So as I have contributed to this wonder of blogging awesomeness, I have often thought back to one of our earliest classes where we delved into the black hole of all conversations: Twilight. As my parting gift to all I have decided to post what I have been avoiding all semester in an effort to maintain an adult and serious tone here at Freedom and Fire. But really, this is just to good to keep to myself forever. What follows is my best friend's little brother's review of New Moon. It is the definition of epic. And awkward. And just the sort of thing a fifteen year old would come up with.
_________________


So today, my mother came up to me and said, "Hey, wanna go see New Moon today? Don't think of that as an offer as much as a command." So I looked up the movie times, and saw that The Blind Side was also playing. So I went, thinking that I could get away with a last minute change. So when we were about 10 minutes away from the theater, I mentioned that The Blind Side was playing. My mother, being the generous person she was, told me that I could go and see The Blind Side if I wished. Then, she pulled her deceitful tricks. At the movie theater, she asked me which movie I wanted to see. I told her "The Blind Side". She then told the worker, "Hi. I'd like 4 tickets for New Moon". She then told me, "You can go to whichever one you want, but the candy and popcorn go to New Moon." So, being deceived by my mother and popcorn, I walked into the Teenage Girl Abyss. Here's how the movie went (from what I saw).

First, I sat through trailers for various chick flicks that only girls and their reluctant boyfriends would ever see. Then, I went to the bathroom. When I came back, a girl was giving Cat Stevens a hug on screen. Then a bunch of awful writing/acting occurred before my eyes, before there was a fight scene between two members of a gay pride parade. The fighting was very Gay-Matrixy. The Gaytrix. I then went to the bathroom again. When I came back, the pale guy broke up with the chick with awful acting. She then walked around like she was a zombie (Without the gore :( ). She then started hanging out with Cat Stevens. I walked to the bathroom again. When I came back, Cat Stevens turned into an angsty David Archuleta. Then, he turned into an awfully animated wolf, and attacked Bob Marley, and some random chick with Rodman-Esqur hair started running around. Then suddenly, the chick realized that she sucked at acting so she jumped off a cliff, and the Rodman chick disappeared in the water. (I have a theory at this is a Cat Stevens trip.) Then, David Archuleta saved bad acting chick. Then, they all went to Rome to save vampire-Harvey Milk. Then, I went to the bathroom again. When I got back, they were all in with a bunch of gay French guys. After more Gaytrix fighting, they all walked out in the anticlimatic ending. Then, there was another 10 minutes of her debating whether she should be a vampire or not. Then, Harvey and David had a fight, to which the angsty David left angstily. Harvey then shocked the world and proved he was straight by asking the GIRL to marry him. At that point I couldn't help but scream, "Cedric Diggory!!".

And now for my review. Many of you are confused as to why I admire Edward and hate the movie. While Mr. Cullen is a good key for telling what the modern woman finds attractive, I do believe that he would do better in a different setting, IE not in a world that sets the bar so high for a guy such as me. I do not think that he should be in a film that the average man hates so much. So while I support Edwards attractivenessity, I do not support his actions. Also, Jacob is 10 years old and has a photo shopped body. So I will continue to admire and envy Edward Cullen, but I will not support his teenage lifestyle. 
__________________

Though this is undoubtedly less refined than many of us collegiate folk are used to, to me it is a wonderful example that books (or in this case book adaptations) mean something different to everyone. Some are Twilight indifferent. Some are consumed by it. But isn't all of life like that. "To each their own" they say. And it's so true. We all are distinct. We all have tastes specific to us and our lifestyle. We don't have to love it all. I don't have to enjoy what you do, nor do you have to light up at all of my interests. 

Thank heaven.

Mmm-good


A good book.

Is like Cake.

For the soul.

Sweet.

Irresistible.

And leaves you

wanting more.

Spring Forward



A Prayer in Spring

Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers to-day;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.

Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.

And make us happy in the darting bird
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill,
And off a blossom in mid air stands still.

For this is love and nothing else is love,
The which it is reserved for God above
To sanctify to what far ends He will,
But which it only needs that we fulfil. 

It was sunny today. I've come to realize since being in Utah that I am solar powered. I work really well with lots of sunshine, but when its cloudy and dark I only run on half energy. 

I don't enjoy it. 

I try to find beauty in snow and mountains and crisp air. But it's a lie. 

I love that feeling of walking out of an air conditioned building with flip flops on and feeling the warm breeze wrap around me like a blanket. 

I love seeing the sunlight of late after noon filtering through green leaves and watching sparrows dive in and out of branches. 

I love summer. 

But spring is nice too. 

Spring is green and lively and like a scene from a Disney cartoon. 

In California, spring is a more temperate summer. In Utah, spring can't seem to kick winter's trash. 

Man-up spring. 

You only have two weeks to show me what you've got before I go back to California.

Where it's warm.

Me and Billy Bob



For the sake of blogging about it, I recently sat down to finally jut down a William Shakespeare Pro/Con list. I hoped it would be a cathartic experience, that maybe I would be able to find some joy and enthusiasm in future attempts at Shakespearean anything. It didn't work.

Here's my Pro:
His work influenced and inspired countless authors who produced works that I love.


And that's it.

I have little patience with the man. His sonnets aren't too unbearable, but the plays! First of all, they were meant to be watched, not read. Honestly, how much time would be saved and how much would the participation increase if teachers showed the movie version of the play instead of everyone pretending they were actively reading it at home. Even then, though, the plots are so far fetched an ridiculous. I once had someone say to me that their favorite thing about Shakespeare is that every one dies in the end so there's no risk of a sequel. I'm on their team.

In my mind, Shakespeare was great for what he was, and I'm not questioning his genius, but rather doubting the relevance of his complex and largely unrealistic scenarios in today's world. I can appreciate the themes and morals that he incorporates, but why an;t we examine those in works that are more applicable to modern life.

You're The Top



Here's a sort of "TOP 5" List of books that have inspired me to read in my life to this point and things that I have been inspired to read from the Author Spotlights this semester. These are in no particular order.

Then....
  1. Silent to the Bone
  2. The Outsiders
  3. A Long Way From Chicago
  4. Peter Pan
  5. From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
All excellent children's books that I have read and re-read at various points in my life. I love them all, and plan to one day share them with my kids.

Now....

  1. North and South
  2. The Chronices of Narnia
  3. The Catcher in the Rye
  4. A Tell Tale Heart
  5. Pushkin Poetry
Thanks to everyone for your wonderful presentations and recommendations. This summer's reading list just keeps getting longer!

The Incredible Fulghumowski



For my ninth Christmas, my mom  stuffed my stocking with a surprise. And by surprise, I mean one of those things that comes with the "Oh......Thanks....." reaction.

It was a book. A paperback book with no pictures on the cover. It looked like a "grown up" book. It looked boring. It hardly looked like anything that would change my life.  But it did.

Because of Robert Fulghum's It Was on Fire when I Laid Down on it, I am a better person. His philosphical, amusing essays examining the value in mundane, everyday experiences molded my mind to think the way it does, and inspired my hand to write the way it does.

I am in this class because I read that book. And every other book he ever published. When I am bored, on a trip, in the mood for something all at once light and inspiring I turn to Fulghum. He has been there for many years and as soon as this semester is over (two weeks!) I plan to settle down in the park with my dogs, a smoothie and Robert. Yes, please.

Tuesday

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When I was a little girl there was this show on the Disney channel called the Torkelsons. In one later episode the father yelled at his ditsy daughter when she failed a class," It's English! You speak it everyday!"

Don't I wish.

We speak to each other everyday. In a common language. Mostly. But sometimes its hard to find words to express what we really feel, what we really think.

I love to study art. I am not an artist, yet the history behind human expression fascinates me. To look at a painting or a sculpture and see the way that society, religion, war, and life in general effects...beauty.

The thing about art is that it can be beautiful in its rawest forms. So much can be said on a canvas of colors - colors without form or subject but broken down into their utter essence, a language without words.

Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer's Day?



It seems so long since last I saw you here.

Your lush green hues have faded back to brown.

Oh, summer when again will you be near,

Wafting the scent of flowers all around?

Barren winter’s grasp has taken hold,

In naked trees the birds rest silently.

The sun burns weak behind a cloud so bold,

Warm rays a distant memory for me.

And yet the pansies still held onto life.

Even when snow and slush with harshness fell,

Under an icy blanket did they fight

To once again with purple colors yell.

In four short months I’ll bask beneath your glow,

A time I yearn for more than you can know.

Bewitched


For the first time in my life, I met a girl who doesn't like Jane Austen. She says she just can't understand the appeal. That her dialogue is great, but the parts in between are so dry. The half of me that only got part of the way through Pride and Prejudice before renting the movie agrees with her. The part of me that has watched this scene a million times doesn't.

What is it with women and Jane Austen? For me it is that warm feeling that wraps around your heart and slips down into the pit of your stomach at the end of any movie with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. A happy ending. That is why we love her. Some may claim it is the complexity of the characters or the flourishing language, but when you get right down to the nitty-gritty of it, we love her because she writes about love. And who wouldn't love that?





And They All Fell Down



Sometimes all that's left to do is fall. 

Fall out of the nest, fall into love, fall down because you're laughing so hard you can't breathe or because it's become to hard to hold yourself up any longer in spite of the tears.  In the times where you fall, good or bad, you lose a piece of yourself to someplace, someone, or something. Which is unsettling for a moment until at last you realize that you've found a new piece to replace what you lost. Perhaps this is a fond memory or a hard lesson, but regardless it is stronger that the one before. 

"Come what may and love it," was Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin's delicate way of reminding us all to man up. These are my favorite words, but are ones all too quickly forgotten when comfort is fleeting. In life's darkest moments I turn my heart to Heavenly Father and in the quietest parts of my spirit whisper, "Cue the Sun." In other words, "Turn the lights back on please, it's gotten rather dark down here." 
 
Sure there are stars and sometimes a moon to light my path; flickers of guidance or happiness that quickly fade. Once they may have been enough, but not now. Now I am grown and have experienced the clarity that comes from the sunlight, from the light of Christ.  Why then do I forget this truth so quickly and ease along once again to a life of night or twilight at best? It's hard to say, but not really. Pride always goeth before the fall. I am proud. I am human. But what kind of excuse is that? Yes I am human! I am a daughter of God, the crowning glory of his many creations. So today I ask my Father to please, "Cue the Sun. For not even the mighty sky could fill the space you left behind." Or rather, the space I left behind. Because when the distance between us and our Father in Heaven grows, guess who moves?

Awake

 
 
Some days are magical.
Some days are mundane.
But every day has a spark of beauty.
The lightning illuminating the vast sky.
The crackle spring's last snows beneath my feet.
A kiss on the forehead.
A sweet glance between friends.
In these moments, routine melts away and I really feel.
Contentment and longing, joy and melancholy.
It does not matter.
I feel alive.
My heart beats a story, a secret for the soul.
I feel the rush of the world fill my lungs with vibrance.
My eyes open to a twist in my story.
Who knows where it will lead?

Occupation:_______________________



Marcel Duchamp was a fixture in the world of fine art during the period before 1940.  
  
(He was the guy responsible for the urinal with a sharpie signature featured last week.)     

However, when one approached him with the familiar “What do you do?” question his answer, like his art, was an unorthodox one.

“I am a respirateur.”     

A breather.     

Duchamp figured that he spent more time breathing than anything else, and had gotten pretty darn good at it too.     

The world we live in thrives off labels, and what better way to figure out who a person is than by asking what they do.     

It’s a thinly veiled attempt to clarify social status. Stereotypically speaking, a doctor is affluent and well educated; a mechanic, not so much.     

In the business world, this question is answered with the exchange of a 3 ½” x 2” piece of     
card stock that contains information summarizing a person’s existence.     

Even the government is in on it. Forms for everything from the IRS to the DMV have a blank for  “Occupation.” In other words, tell us what you make money doing, so we can determine who you are, and better understand how to deal with you.     

For the majority of our young lives what we did was defined by the sports or instruments we played. In a broader sense we have been classified as “students.”     

Now though, as we grow closer to the real world and begin to get jobs of our own, perhaps it is a good time to reevaluate the question in the exact same way Marcel Duchamp did.     

What is it that you do?     

I know a gentleman who approached the question in a similar, if not as flippant manner as the    famed artist. His reply was simple. “I teach my children.”     

This method of thinking has inspired me to reconsider my role in the world. I am not only a student, or even a writer.     
I am a daughter, a napper, a     
chef.     
I am a missionary, a playmate,     
a friend.     
I am an instigator.     
I love my family.     
I dream.     
I am a citizen.     
I am a critic of food, art, music,     
movies, and books.     
I laugh. I cry.     
I teach. I learn.     

If I had a business card summarizing what I do, it would be say only this: SARAH. What I do is be the best Sarah I can be, in all my varied forms. 
 
Every decision I make is part of a constant effort to grow and improve the person I am. Whether it’s how I approach school, family, or church, the object is the same.     

Be better.     
Be more.     

In the end, the ways in which people make money won’t amount to anything more than stuff, and like the old adage promises, you can’t take it with you.     

Everything in life comes down to how you spend time doing the things you love with the people who mean the most.     

Happiness cannot be gauged by the number of zeros in a pay check.     

Because making a living and having a life are not the same thing.     

I Wish I Knew Now, What I Knew Then



I found this copy of a newspaper column I wrote for my high school paper a week before graduation. Oddly enough, what I wrote to my peers a year ago is exactly what I needed to be reminded of now. Funny how that works. This was from the perspective of "before", of someone who was excited and optimistic about college, freedom, adulthood. Now, reading it from the perspective of "after", all I can say is that I wish I knew now what I knew then.
_________________

Every little girl knows the story of Cinderella. A beautiful but ill fated girl grows up living a hard and mostly cruel life. She is oppressed by the lazy, worldly and spiteful. To this, we all can relate in some way or another. Life is full of trials and at some point we all ask, “why me?”

Still, though, everyone looks forward to the magic. That moment when we least expect it for our fairy god mother to pop up out of nowhere and offer us a free ticket out of our suffering. The glorious instant when our Prince Charming, our saving grace, steps up and presents us with the opportunity to experience three magic words: “Happily ever after.”

Cinderella caught a nice break. She had a rough start but an undeniably great finish. On the other hand, she was stuck waiting. Instead of stepping up and going out and getting her man she let herself be walked all over by jerks until all the forces of the universe miraculously came together to make her happy.

Reality would frown on this fairy tale, because sadly, life is not so perfect. It cannot be divided simply into segments of bad, good, better, and best.

Life is muddy. It is messy too. And no matter what we all wish for, no one is going to hand us a happy and easy life.

The past four years, seniors have lived in a way that could be compared to Cinderella’s (sans the talking mice and pumpkin cars).

We have worked hard through the ups and downs thrown at us by teachers, parents, and life in general. There were moments when everyone but us got everything we wanted, and at the point when we were about to give up, the lure of a happy ending was dangled tauntingly in front of us.

Graduation. We can almost taste it.

Unfortunately, our story doesn’t end the second that diploma hits our hot little hands.

Unlike Cinderella, we live on. The story of our lives doesn’t end, just the chapter. And the best part is, we get to write it. Fate will not control us; we are in charge of our happy ending.

Who knows where we will be in ten years? I don’t. I have hopes, of course, but there’s a lot of life to live between now and then.

Some of us are entering the real world with a plan, an outline of what’s next in our story; others are making it up as they go.

My advice to all is the same as Abraham Lincoln’s: “Whatever you are, be a good one.”

And don’t forget, no book is endless. Robert Fulghum said this: "I’ve never understood people’s attitude about life. Just once, when someone calls and says, ‘My doctor just told me I have a limited time to live,’ I’d like to say, ‘You didn’t know?’"

So make the most of every moment. Live fully. Not fast or fabulous, but completely.

As Ralph Waldo Emerson declared, “To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people, and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”

So, as you embark on a new chapter, aim to succeed! And when you walk next Thursday night remember Winston Churchill’s words, “This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

Monday

The Tickets are Diamonds



Homeless people are everywhere. No seriously, it’s like I can’t escape them. I keep seeing the man who wanders up and down University everyday with his shopping cart. That got the ball rolling. Since then, I have unintentionally had some sort of run in with homeless culture several times a week.

The book I’m reading described how the author got to know the beggars that lined his morning commute. I saw no fewer than seven straggly sign holders as I went about my day to day life. In church we discussed at length the best way we can help serve these individuals. I had a flash back to the movie The Soloist for an extended period while watching Sherlock Holmes at the dollar theater the other night.

Do you see what I’m getting at?

They. Are. Everywhere.

I think it’s an omen. Maybe it’s just me. Either way, I’m not sure what to do about these nameless neighbors.

Who knows where they come from, what their background is, and the kind of life they’ve lived? Are they are where they are because of some fault of their own or did life just…happen?
___________________

One of the many times that the course of my existence crossed with a reminder of theirs was subtle, just a song on the radio. But the lyrics were profound given my recent ponderings. They describe a cool night on a bridge. One man, perhaps someone like you or me, is considering jumping. The other, a homeless man, talks him down. He reminds him that in many ways, they are not so different.

“I’ve had my moments…/I was second to none/ Moments when I knew did what I thought I couldn’t do/…Looking at me now you might not know it, but I’ve had my moments.”

Like I said, I have no idea how to respond when I get stopped beside a person with their makeshift sign that describes the state of their current moment.

“Homeless.” “Will Work For Food.” “Vietnam Vet.” “Just a Little Bit Helps.” “Ninja’s Killed My Family…Need Tae Kwan Do Lessons.”

Behind every sign is a story. Maybe the person holding it is a scam artist or an addict. Or maybe not. Maybe my dollar will be spent on beer. Or maybe not. I don’t know. All I’m sure of is that I don’t want a starving person on my conscience. Especially when I think of the words of a friend, “I love bums. They’re so humble.”

Does this mean I always give something to the man outside my car window? No. In fact I hardly ever do. Doesn’t mean things can’t change. Perhaps I’ll keep some Mickey D’s gift cards in my wallet or something. Free food at its finest.
_____________________

On a happier note let me tell you the best of my newly acquired homeless stories.
In Seattle, there is park along a place called Elliot Bay. The shoreline is protected by large, rough, unattractive granite blocks.

In the bushes sleeps a young man in a small tent. Half Mexican, half black, he refuses to be photographed. Says he’s in the witness protection program, or is afraid one of his wives will recognize him. He is proof that aliens landed and made a few mistakes. He even claimed to be the lovechild of Condoleezza Rice and the president of Mexico.

Out of these rocks he builds art. Started doing it out of boredom, but it caught on and now it’s how he makes a living. He builds something and knocks it down at the end of the day after reciting a poem to it or something.

He has something I don’t have, can’t have: The memory of his moment, when he looked at a pile of ruble and saw…art.
__________________

This story makes you wonder: what is art? We have asked why we read, and we have also asked about what we read.

Sister Steadman called out one of my favorite movies, You've Got Mail, a few weeks ago saying that it was a bad example because Meg Ryan and Greg Kinnear lived together. (To which I'd like to point out that they practically lived together...he just kept all his typewriters on her kitchen table.)

Yet most of what we revere as classical literature is oozing with lesser morals than those. For Heaven's sakes, every Shakespearean character needs some serious one on one time with Dr. Laura. Or their bishop. Maybe both. And don't even get me started with Oscar Wilde.
___________________

Here's my two cents on the subject:
Marcel Duchamp is a famous Pre-WWI artist who you may recognize as the man who brought the world the piece shown above. Yummy.

To be honest, he probably wasn't a huge fan of the work either. But it forced the art world to confront the theory that ruled his work: The only power in art is if the artist creates something, presents it to the world as art and the world chooses to accept it. 

You may well look at an upside down urinal and say, "Well, whatever it is, it sure as heck ain't art." That was the point. To choose an object that was so "off" that it would be rejected immediately by all. In fact, the most liberal gallery, that had a no turn away rule, would only display Duchamp's Fountain behind a Japanese screen. It was lewd, vulgar, completely unacceptable and revolting to its viewer. 

With this in mind, lets recap the difference between what is moral in movies versus what is moral in books. You there? You remember? Good.

Now allow me to make this suggestion: The only power in morality is if an individual or group presents something as moral (or immoral) and society chooses to accept it. 

Duchamp's reaction to his critics was to ask what is the difference between a urinal in a gallery (where the visitors are elite selective) than in a plumbing store window where the world walks by daily?

My reaction to our discussion is the same. What is the difference between immorality in literature (where readers are elite and selective) and movies where the world sits and watches daily?


Tuesday

To Stuggle Towards the Light


When written in Chinese, the word “crisis” is made up of two characters: danger and opportunity. 

It’s no secret that life is hard. War, poverty, and starvation have plagued man since the beginning of time. Sometimes even the most trivial of things can seem incredibly large, and that’s ok, the key is how we react in the face of adversity. 

When we are presented with a problem, we are presented with a choice. As Robert Frost sagely acknowledged in his poem The Road Less Traveled, “Two roads diverged in the woods, and I – I took the one less traveled by. And that has made all the difference.” 

If we choose to view trials as things that can only end in pain they almost certainly will. Conversely, if they are approached as chances for growth, we will benefit infinitely more because we are actively seeking good things. Either way, the attitude we take will make all the difference. 

More often than not, human beings under estimate their ability to overcome adversity; we forget how strong we are. 

A small child would consider a scratched hand a matter of considerable concern. “Look at my boo boo,” they would cry. As we grow older though, our injuries turn inward and our struggles become solitary, leaving different kinds of scars. 

Twenty percent of teenagers will suffer from depression by the time they reach adulthood. Thirty percent of that number will develop substance abuse problems. Suicide is a probable outcome.
Sadly, nearly 80 percent of those who suffer from teen depression can be successfully treated. Most choose not to because they think they are too far gone to matter. 

Just like the scars from a bike crash when we were ten, emotional scars, the ones no one else can see, are a testament to our ability to endure. 

When the Japanese mend broken objects, they exaggerate the damage by filling the cracks with gold.  They believe that when something’s suffered damage and has a history it becomes more beautiful. 

Struggles make us who we are. They shape us, mold us, and have the capability to improve us.
Still though, it is in our nature to look around and ask, “Why is this happening to me? Why does my life seem to be falling apart when the rest of the world stands firm?” 

Perhaps the answer can be found in nature. 

When a small, insignificant and lowly caterpillar is shut off from the world, wrapped tightly in its cocoon all alone, it struggles with all its might to break out and be free. 

Surely the caterpillar must think, “Why do I have to fight so hard. The birds don’t have to go through all this trouble. How come I can’t just magically become a butterfly?” 

The struggle to escape its personal prison is what eventually gives the caterpillar the strength to emerge from the darkness as something beautiful, even extraordinary. 

While before it was creepy and had to stumble over twigs and branches, the caterpillar is now a lovely butterfly capable of soaring over the world. 

Life is hard. That’s the point. If there were no pain there could be no joy. But thankfully, whatever else the world seems to rob us of, we always have the ability to choose how we will react. What road will we choose? Is the crisis of the moment the source of danger or opportunity? 

However you approach it, sometimes things are right no matter how much you have to work at them. 

Life can be inexpressibly worth living.

Thursday

Hope Floats

 
Henry David Thoreau is arguably the world’s most infamous recluse. You know the guy. He spent long hours alone by a pond in Connecticut contemplating the universe and the warring habits of ants.

Knowing this, it is not a surprise that he was the one to observe, “The man who goes each day to the village to hear the latest news has not heard from himself in a long time.”

Good point, and in a thoroughly Thoreau way, profound. He implies that solitude is something rare and often avoided. He would not be alone in this declaration. Many, especially those of other nationalities, have commented on the American need to constantly be surrounded by distractions. I would argue the epidemic is worldwide.

In the old days, a distraction would have been other people, perhaps those gossiping down at the local watering hole. Today, a never ending barrage of technology offers an endless escape from the world. Cell phones, texting, MySpace, Facebook, AIM, television, radio iPods, etc, etc. Really, I could go on for ever.

The question then, is why do we choose to immerse, even drown ourselves, in a sea of microchips?

The answer: silence is painful. Silence forces us to listen. It does not allow for a retreat behind a shield of superficiality. We are left alone to our minds, our thoughts and our emotions in an utterly unadulterated fashion. Silence makes us vulnerable, and in a world that exalts the powerful, most are not comfortable with being vulnerable.

Often I feel as though a town council meeting is in session in my head. Different characters, with different personalities struggle for dominance in various situations tugging at a very small version of me in the direction of their choosing. The trouble is, all of the characters are pieces of me, representative of my hopes, logic, and desires. They are each powerful personalities and in my most vulnerable, raw moments I wonder, “Who’s in charge in there?”

I hear from myself plenty, thank you very much. In fact, every second my mind is buzzing as I shuffle through life.

If solitude is how often we hear from ourselves, then solitude is my norm. I bet it’s yours too. The escape, then, is not hiding in a corner, but seeking the company we long for in community.
Historians have proven that Thoreau walk the two miles from Walden Pond to Concord every day and often welcomed visitors to his sanctuary. Even Thoreau was lonely, which is why he eventually moved back to town.

Over 100 years after this, a duo of free thinkers presented their own ideas on solitude.

“And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never share
And no one dared disturb the sound of silence.
‘Fools’, said I, ‘you do not know,
Silence like a cancer grows.
Hear my words that I might teach you
Take my arms that I might reach you.’”

Simon and Garfunkel were onto something.

Solitude is not the same as loneliness. It is a boat floating in a sea of other possible companions. No man is an island and that’s why Thoreau wrote “Walden” down. He transcended solitude, existing alone, but was not lonely. He reached out to the world through his words.

And that’s why I write my words to you.
I am floating the boat of my life within speaking distance of yours.

Reverence

 
"Earth's crammed with heaven, 
And every common bush afire with God:
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes."
Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Flutter

"I almost wish we were butterflies and lived but three summer days. Three such days with you I could fill with more delight than fifty common years could ever contain." 
John Keats
 
kristybee

Dancing With Myself

And then my heart with pleasure fills, 
And dances with the daffodils.
There is a long road that runs along the middle of my part of town. I drive along this stretch nearly everyday when I am home. For three years it took me to school, last summer it took me to work, and it has taken me to church every Sunday since I was ten. If you look closely there are small brown signs that run along the side declaring it as a historic highway. In December, I was riding home from church gazing longingly at the warm, sunny skies above this road and the trees next to it - trees that never seems to let go of their warm green lace even in the dead of winter. California. I dreaded leaving early the next morning, back to the slush and brown barren landscape of Utah. The smell of the warm wind wafted in through my open window and I was taken back to the countless summer days spent traveling back and forth along this road. Tilting my head back against the head rest, I spoke these thoughts aloud to no one in particular. After a moment, my dad half laughed, "Sarah, you love to live in the past."
I have been called many things, and could definitely add one or two adjectives of my own to the list. Nostalgic would be one of them. Today never seems to live up to yesterday. Most of the time, it is a curse that keeps me from simply enjoying whatever moment of life I am living. But then there are the days when I need nothing more than to be somewhere else with no way of getting there. J.M. Barrie said that God gave us memories so that we could have roses in the Decembers of our lives. I think he and Wordsworth would have gotten along.
Poetry may seem like an awfully convoluted way to express a thought, but it is sentiments like those in I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud, that reach beyond intellectual perplexity and touch our hearts. Lines like these whisper to our souls, "You understand this one. You've been here before." 
I gazed - and gazed - but little thought
what wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.
Oscar Wilde shared a thought I often use as a checkpoint for how I'm doing. "To live," he said, "is the rarest thing in the world. Most people only exist." Each day passes us by full of moments that seem so insignificant, and yet will be the ones we treasure and long for later on. These moments are golden because they are a window into a more magical time than it seems we are currently in. Nostalgia indeed distracts from enjoying such moments when they stand before us, and although we might not appreciate what we have until it's gone, in a blissful moment of solitude, we are still able to dance.

Wednesday

An Affair to Remember





"Of course 

it's happening 

inside your head, 

but why on earth 

should that mean 

that it is not 

real?"

 Albus Dumbledore 


It all started with a boy.

Third grade. At the time I was the tallest girl in my class. Freckles, long strawberry blond hair that  ran all the way down my back, and to top the look off was a gap tooth smile that made my life until 15 just an extra bit of awkward.

He was older, a mature eleven to my scrawny eight. And though the age difference painted him as a giant to me, in truth he was nothing more than a skinny, average boy in too-big trousers. His bright green eyes hid behind a set of clumsily taped together glasses and a mop of messy black hair partially covered a thin lighting bolt scar on his forehead.

Third grade. That's when I fell in love with Harry Potter.

I can honestly say that to some degree, the reason I am a student at BYU is because of him. His world became my world. For the first time I was consumed entirely in a universe that wasn't my own. In it, I could be whoever I wanted. I was the ruler of my own nation. Imagination. Suddenly, I  enjoyed reading. I enjoyed learning. And while there are dozens of other more significant factors that shaped the person I am today, Harry helped.

What does this matter? I don't know.  Maybe everything.  Maybe nothing. But for over a decade, I have found my life enriched by the freedom and the fire reading gave to my life.

I have lived in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I have ridden an elephant in Tibet and wandered down grocery store aisles in Pocatello, Idaho. I have witnessed the injustice of a southern courtroom, gotten kicked out of prep school, and toured the shores of Neverland. I have felt joy, sorrow, desperation, and exuberance. I have seen death. I have seen life. I have fallen in love.

Why do we read? We read to become. Become something bigger than we ever could have on our own. They say real life is better than fiction. That's probably true.

But while your waiting for your train to come, relax.

Read.
Let go.
Burn.
Become.