clouds

Here’s to continuing to write something every day in order to keep that fire going. Today’s poetry edition comes from some reflections I made while driving home through a thunderstorm from seeing a friend I hadn’t seen in a while. It’s not very long, and poetry has never really been my thing, but there’s a first time for everything, right?

clouds

Do you think the clouds feel heavy

When they carry seas in their bellies,

Waiting to unburden themselves in a downpour,

Or a slow drizzle when they can’t bear the weight

Of a thousand tears pulled down by gravity?

//

Do you think the clouds feel lost or lonely,

Drifting along the atmospheric tides,

As perpetual nomads with no rest,

Traveling by night and by day,

Not knowing where they’ll go or arrive?

//

Do you think the clouds would tell their stories

Of the endless journeys they’ve made,

All the lands and peoples they’ve seen,

And all the waters they’ve weathered and crossed,

If we only just asked them to?

//

Do you think we’d even believe their words

If they told us everywhere they’d been,

Places we humans can only dream of,

Untold, unseen, unexplored, and unimaginable?

Do you ever think about the clouds?

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middles

In a lot of ways, I think middles can be some of the hardest places to find yourself in. That’s not necessarily because they’re the most stressful or the most arduous places to be in, but perhaps more because of the perspective you’re afforded from the vantage point of middles. From the middle of most things, you can usually still see a shred of the beginning, where you started, and at the same time, you can probably start to see part of the end, where you’ll end. Regardless of whether the ends or beginnings are the points where things get better or worse, being able to see things from the middle can instantly conjure feelings of comparison and contrast between those two endpoints. If the beginning was good, it can be discouraging or difficult to see an end that doesn’t seem quite as shimmery, or even harder to see one that’s much worse before things start to get better. Similarly, if the beginning was trying, it can be easy to look at the end and all the good things, or perhaps even the minor improvements, that lie there and forget about all the work and all the trials you’ve overcome to reach the middleground where you’re standing now. Instead, having the perspective of the midway point can create feelings of longing for the end and bypassing the rest of the work you have to do to get there. Either way, middles can be just as difficult, if not more so sometimes, than the beginnings or ends of things.

 

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how I finally learned what love is

The air was cool for Minnesota summer, and a fire crackled and snapped over wet logs in the fire pit in front of me. I was about to tell a story I had only told once before, and I couldn’t shake the feeling that the words still felt almost fake as they churned inside of me, bringing a new sensation of reality to the term word vomit. It just didn’t feel right. In a way, it felt selfish, what I was about to do. At a cursory glance, everything about my life seemed to be just as it should, if not better, but I was about to confess that for the majority of my life I had felt like I had to earn love and wasn’t quite sure what it actually meant to be loved.

 

I mean, honestly, I’m 19 years old, have a college diploma hanging on my bedroom wall, my family is great to me and always has been, my friends are some of the best you could ask for, and I have everything I need, among other things, but I couldn’t escape the voice of God trying to convince me, for the umpteenth time in however many years, that there was no possible way for anyone to ever earn someone else’s love. But along with that, He also seemed to whisper that the reason was that you didn’t have to. His love, as well as anyone else’s authentic love, doesn’t need to be earned. That seems like such a simple, basic concept, but it’s one I’m honestly still processing and learning to be true.

 

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write like a kid

Every so often, I’ll find myself in a bit of a creative lull (like the one I’m in right now) and think back to when I was younger and the ideas flowed so much more freely, when writer’s block was essentially nonexistent and I actually wrote a substantial amount of material every single day. I wonder to myself where all of that went and why I can’t even manage to put out one 500-word blog post a week anymore, never mind the fact that I literally wrote two entire books in a single year when I was in 5th grade. Granted, both of those books were only about 100 double sided, handwritten pages long and the style needed some major work, but maybe the reason some writers give up or stop putting out work is because they’ve lost the ability to write like a kid.

 

When you’re writing as a kid, nothing else matters other than the story you’re putting down on the page. Literary tropes, archetypes, and rules are all still bland words in a textbook that you haven’t bothered to read. Your characters all talk the same way, and your plot lines are probably tangled and convoluted, with holes everywhere, but none of that even registers on your radar because the story is unfolding all on its own in your head. The clunky, awkward prose that gets carelessly slapped onto paper is hardly for a literary agent or editor’s eyes, but rather for your mind’s, serving as a map for the feature film that’s rolling inside. When you’re writing as a kid, you’re not writing for an agent, a publisher, a literary critic, or anyone else. When you’re writing as a kid, you’re writing solely for the purpose of preserving the story you’ve created and watching it play out in your own head, and maybe that’s why some of us lose the ability and joy of writing as we get older, because we’re constantly editing and critiquing our nascent stories to death before they even have the chance to take their first living breaths.

 

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exhausted

That word basically sums up the essence of the past couple weeks and also serves as my de facto explanation for why the blog has been so quiet as of late. After the last post, I wanted to write something, anything. I really did, but at the same time, I just couldn’t muster up the strength to open up my computer and actually string together a coherent sequence of words that I felt would be worth reading. I’m only millimeters past that point today (the dreary weather not helping in the slightest), but I was reminded at Bible study a week or two ago that sometimes you just have to keep the fire going, even if it feels like that little contribution isn’t really going to be doing much. In that context, we were talking about faith and how you have to keep coming back to God day in and day out even when you don’t feel like it, but I think that’s applicable to almost everything else that we want to believe in and are passionate about too. And essentially, that’s why I’m writing this post today, because I’ve decided that if you’re going to call yourself a writer, you have to keep writing even if you feel like your creative reserves and literary energies are completely dry. Even if it feels like that fire inside you is slowly dying, you have to keep writing because the act of writing in and of itself will stoke the embers and coax that tiny flame back to life so that it can start to grow again.

 

Because the reality is that neglect kills. Neglect always kills, maybe not the most efficiently, or the most quickly, but anything that you neglect will eventually die, whether that’s a human being, a succulent, your faith, your writing, or anything else you might love. Neglect is a killer, and the terrible part is how it always creeps in whenever things get shaken up even a little bit.

 

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the lie of nonexistent intimate friendships (part two)

This is the fifth entry in a series of posts on friendship. To find the others once they’ve been published, find the menu button in the upper right corner of the blog and see “Summer Friendship Series.”

 

Something that I’ve noticed about American relational culture recently, and perhaps especially so with Christian American relational culture, is that we really like to have lines clearly drawn. I see this as the reason why we have phenomena in Christian colleges like DTRs (defining the relationship). There seems to be an increasing neediness to always know what the status of your relationship with another person, and it doesn’t necessarily come from within ourselves. More often than not, it comes as an external question, when we may or may not have been thinking about it.

 

I think most of us have probably found ourselves in a situation, or at least observed a situation in which two people have begun spending significant amounts of time with each other, prompting some or all of their friends to probe them on whether they’re “just friends” or something more than friends. This can be an incredibly awkward or frustrating experience for everyone involved, regardless of whether the two people actually might have feelings for each other and are trying to navigate that or whether they are close friends who enjoy spending a lot of time together.

 

Either way, I think this fascination with needing to define relationships has begun hurting our conceptions of friendship, because along with a desire to know exactly what status a relationship has, there also exists an assumption that the relationship will also fit neatly within the preconceived assumptions of what “just friends” or something more than friends might look like. (That being said, I’ve really grown to hate the term “just friends” as I’ve been learning more about friendship and working through this series, because I’ve come to realize it’s a rather derogatory way to refer to a relationship as beautiful as friendship.) If we really think about it, friendships already tend to exist in the middle ground of a Venn diagram, but our attitudes toward them skew towards trying to keep them cleanly isolated to only their safe extremes on a gradient spectrum and this severely limits our ability to understand and have healthy friendships in my opinion.

 

I’ve really grown to hate the term “just friends,” because I’ve come to realize it’s such a derogatory way to refer to a relationship as beautiful as friendship.

Continue reading “the lie of nonexistent intimate friendships (part two)”

when our words kill friendship (part one)

This is the fourth entry in a series of posts on friendship. To find the others once they’ve been published, find the menu button in the upper right corner of the blog and see “Summer Friendship Series.”

 

As a writer, you could say that I think about words a lot. Part of both the joy and frustration of writing is being able to find just the right word to express exactly the sort of sentiment you want to convey. For the most part, the English language usually does a pretty good job of supplying words that have the proper nuance, but something that I’ve been thinking about recently is how sometimes we don’t have enough words to capture the depth of some things that we consider to be so basic. Friendship is one of those things.

 

In English, our single word ‘friend’ encompasses such a wide range of meanings that other languages might divide into different words in order to convey the proper amount of nuance behind them. I mean, I think it’s a little strange that we use the same word to describe people that we’re connected to on Facebook, many of whom we might not even talk to or interact with on a regular basis, as well as people that we share our souls with and can call late at night to cry with. It seems almost disrespectful to use the same word for both of those kinds of relationships. After all, many people call their spouses or their siblings their best friends, and yet we’ll still use the same word to talk about that person we might’ve shared a class with freshman year of college or high school and haven’t talked to since.

 

That’s one of the things I loved most about being a linguistics major. By at least rudimentarily studying several other languages, you gain a broader understanding of how other people express different ideas across different languages, and the subtle nuances that those untranslatable words and phrases carry tell you quite a bit about how that language or culture thinks about and treats various aspects of life. With friendship, I think the contrast between English and other languages is quite striking. Continue reading “when our words kill friendship (part one)”