Monday, 31 December 2007
January was the grand finale of a different life. Returning to high school without most of my friends and seniority privileges was exactly the motivation I needed to realize that I didn’t want to be there anymore. After my exams, I waved a cheery farewell to four and a half years of comfort zone, packed up my bags (and boxes and crates and backpacks) and moved on – half way down Muskoka Road 10, to MBC.
February and March were filled with a completely foreign and wonderful kind of education. I rejoined the world of wintery outdoor activity and sport – a world that I had neglected for far too long – by learning snowboarding, cross country skiing, ice climbing, dog sledding, winter camping, skating, snowshoeing, hiking and a wonderful variety of other ways to spend some quality time with the snow.
In April I repacked my life into a much smaller suitcase and flew with my team to Costa Rica. What an amazing time in my life! I learned so much in that place. I saw so much, did so much and was taught so much. From repelling a waterfall to painting a house, from hiking for miles and miles at a time, to sitting in stillness and silence for hours; these are the lessons that I took away from my trip. In what free time I could find, I picked up and developed many important skills including journaling, water conservation and euchre. When we flew home I brought back so much more than I went with, but not in material possessions. I left part of my heart in that country, but I was given so much love and insight and experience that I think it was a fair exchange.
May and June were spent blowing leaves, planting flowers and getting ready for the summer. I made more new friends, attempted (with no success) to learn yet another language, got very dirty on more than one occasion and frequently drove a truck. I learned a lot about me during this time and settled into a rhythm of life that was finally my own.
That rhythm was pretty short lived because as June ended, chaos began. It was a beautiful, exhilarating, noisy chaos: dozens of staff, hundreds of kids and thousands of opportunities to have a blast doing what I love to do. I supervised people but I witnessed lives. It’s the most amazing feeling, to participate in the life of another person and know that you have changed them in a positive way. Naturally there was drama and conflict, but the troubles that were introduced by the summertime sun are far outweighed by what has come of it; a million memories for the photo album of my mind.
August gave way to September and my life changed again. Frosh was certainly a shock to my system after six months of a completely different atmosphere, but I pushed through it and really got into life at University. Yes, I go to class (and learn much more than I thought I could), I cook my own meals (and have yet to poison myself), I keep my room “relatively clean” and I’ve even been to the bar (though it’s definitely not my style), but it’s my church that’s holding me together and keeping me strong while I’m at Nipissing. Friends and church and God... it’s a pretty good system... you should try it some time!
My life at school is so much better than I ever could have planned. I’m so at peace there, and it has quickly become a home to me... small-h-home, that is! So when it came time for a three week vacation to capitol-h-home, I was almost nervous to return. Life wasn’t at a standstill while I was at school... my family was still going, living and changing without me... but when I got here, I found out that this was still home too. Home: such a funny concept. Where you hang your hat, or where you keep your heart? Maybe it’s a balance of both.
So now, the year has come to a close. Only six hours remain until we welcome into our lives 2008 and all of the craziness that it is certain to bring. What will the next 12 months hold for me? Who will I be next New Year’s Eve? So much anticipation and excitement! If 2008 can even come close to the standards of 2007 in my life, next year is going to be an unbelievable ride. Twists, turns, loops and surprises of all kinds! I can hardly wait!
Six more hours.
Monday, 10 December 2007
Maybe the internet got the hiccoughs and you lost an hour of work in 18 seconds. Perhaps iTunes will only play heartache break-up country music songs, or you didn’t get that e-mail you weren’t expecting. Traditionally trivial events can suddenly mutate into uncontrollable monsters of ridiculous irrationality; however, strange and wonderful things happen at 2am, and in personal experience they are almost worth the trouble.
You see, in a strictly metaphorical (and slightly metaphysical) sense, the mind can be stretched and moulded like intellectual plasticine. At 2am the brain is uniquely malleable, having already been prepared for mental manipulation through natural exhaustion. There are thoughts and ideas locked within the mind that are completely inaccessible at any other time... unfortunately, they often take a great deal of translation and explanation before any real value can be associated with this raw material.This may be one of those unpolished excavations of my mind. Perhaps I am blinded to it's faults because it is mine, but I happen to believe that this particular piece of writing is brilliantly insightful... and now it's almost three!
Tuesday, 27 November 2007
The gallery of my life is filled with fables and frames. Each great hall is painted with memory and the displays within them seem to dance, being constantly restored and revised to tastes of the master curator in my mind.
The welcoming foyer introduces my life in a colourful presentation of material art; a pocket sized camera sits on a table that is so flooded with printed pictures that they seem to have spilled over the edges and onto the floor. This collection of photographs allows any attentive observer to witness the world through my eyes, which is certainly a unique perspective. This camera has followed me everywhere, capturing the beauty of the common and mundane. From bus stop to snowfall, these simple images are the tangible evidence of an artistic soul.
The second exhibition continues the theme of creativity that is found in all aspects of my life. A bookshelf filled with dusty books stands dramatically against one wall. Many other people have inspired my life in a variety ways, but none more, perhaps, than the written words of friends and heroes. Sherlock and Shakespeare have both influenced my thoughts and my vocabulary; however, there is a different book that has been opened much more often than the others. Simply bound, it is a story of mystery, history, comedy, romance, adventure and action. It is the only book in my collection that contains my own scribbled thought or emphasis in ink because there is no sense in maintaining the physical purity of such a work; unlike the others, this narrative was not intended to be read, but to be lived. Here, in the museum of my life, it lies open to a page that is both underlined and highlighted in florescent pink: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Perhaps this is my fable… or perhaps this is truth…
The focus of the final room is lighter and louder in nature than any of the previous displays. This room, like my life, is filled with music. In a cycle of forty-nine genres and eighty-three hours, the soundtrack of my life entertains everyone I meet; and yet, the goal of my life is not to entertain, but to inspire, teach, inquire, reveal, explore… to make history, true history, and share it.
Monday, 12 November 2007
I feel restricted by my language; the limits of explanation have been explored by many before me, exhausting expression. And now, sitting here so still within my body and so unsettled in my mind, these words seem stale and insufficient. How can I even begin, when I am already frustrated, fighting for the words to articulate my thought? How can I speak with honesty when I am already so disappointed by my efforts? Perhaps it is my skill and not my language that is at fault.
Pero, en español, todas palabras explican más, simplemente porque cuando una persona escucha el idioma, hay un cambiar en el corazón y el alma, y no solo en su pensó. Hay comunicación de verdad. La persona a la persona, y palabras a palabras, tambien.
Why is it so impossible to relate to the world in my native tongue? Why do my words mean so much more to me when so few can understand what I am trying to say? There is no release from this kind of constriction. It’s like being tied in an artistic straightjacket. If only I could write with tone and action. If only you could read my emotions along with my words. Then I could tell you something. Then, perhaps, you could understand what I am thinking, and what I’m trying to say here. But it means nothing; all of these words mean nothing and have explained nothing, though I’ve said so much.
After reading through this, I bet you’re almost as frustrated and disappointed by my explanation as I am. But sometimes this is what words are... meaningless, disappointing, emotional blither.
Wednesday, 7 November 2007
But there is hope. We can make a difference. If we act now, we may be able to preserve what little simplistic joy is left in our world. The fight against the humbug of winter begins with you. The fate of fun rests in your mitted hands.
If you remain unconvinced of the severity of this cause, please, read on and carefully consider the following medical and scientific claims supporting snowplay and its many advantages. Each has been cleverly fabricated to initiate a radical movement outdoors, so if at any point while reading this you are overcome with an undeniable need to don a toque and pair of gloves, by all means conclude this article at another time and go throw a snowball at your friend. Literature can wait. The world cannot.
#1. It’s good for your body – Hitting someone with a snowball is an excellent release of many kinds of stress, at a chemical level. (Being hit by a snowball increases your situational awareness and potentially primes your reflexes for a victorious reaction, which is something to keep in mind when ambushed.) As far as a cardiovascular workout is concerned, chasing and being chased are among the top motivational exercises, and the cold air works your lungs in a way that simply cannot be obtained on a treadmill.
#2. It’s good for your brain – Buildings are psychological prisons and seriously hinder the development of certain skills, such as creativity and mental flexibility. Deny your mind no longer! Sculpt, design, craft and build! Snow and ice are wonderful artistic mediums. Find the natural inspiration you’ve been lacking.
#3. It’s good for your love life – Romance is strongly correlated with the atmosphere created during a snowfall; therefore, spending time with someone outside in the snow will increase your seasonal attractiveness by up to 60%!
#4. It’s good for the environment – The ground is much more receptive to flowers in the spring if it has been moved around during the long winter months. Walking on (or digging in) the snow shifts the position of the grass and flower bearing land, softening it in a uniquely agricultural manner. When the snow melts, it is obvious which areas of a lawn or park have been played over and which have not.
#5. It’s good for the economy – When people spend time outside, hot chocolate sales skyrocket! Marshmallows and cookie mixes receive similar profit spikes; but without the recent demand created by outdoor activists, there is simply too much supply. Do your part to keep Christmas from becoming a confectionary Black Tuesday.
You’ve heard all of the evidence and you’ve seen the reports. Now, go. Give Jack Frost a hug and embrace the kid in you. For our culture, for the children, for fun: go and play.
Monday, 5 November 2007
Perhaps our generation is too far removed from World War One to genuinely appreciate the sacrifices made by those people, soldiers and families. Maybe we can’t understand Flanders Fields the way that we should. But we can remember – not Canada’s distant national history, but the heroes of our personal world. We remember what we can remember.
From the overseas terrorism in Iraq through the homicides of Toronto and even closer to home, we have modern enemies to fight and heroes to honour. Remembrance Day is no longer limited to the military because war is no longer bound to the battlefield. Ribbons and poppies have been transformed from a symbol of death to one of human unity. We are all affected by war of one kind or another. November 11th has become an opportunity to celebrate the victory and mourn the cost of all war, together, as a global nation. Yes, we still stand in silence and reverence at 11:00 every year. There are parades and ceremonies and trumpet solos and speeches. These things are important. But we have more to remember. This year these traditions are echoed by international prayers for protection and courage for the people around the world who continue this fight for freedom and peace today… and tomorrow.
The war to end all wars did not conclude every battle and conflict; however, the legacy of memorial celebration that began in 1918 has survived, blossoming into something much larger than the poppy.
Thursday, 25 October 2007
“I’m calling you aside.
I simply miss your company
And want you to confide.
We used to talk so much,” he said,
“But now your time’s too tight.
Why was I the one you chose
To ignore tonight?
You used to love so much,” he said
“You didn’t used to care
What other people thought of you.
This change just isn’t fair.
Open up your heart of lead,
Stop holding back on me.
I want to be the one to fill
Your life. Why can’t you see?
You’re already loved,” he said
“Can I not satisfy?
Don’t tell me you don’t need me, love
Please, don’t make me cry.
I want your love, my love,” he said
“And I will wait right here
Though broken by your broken heart
I will not disappear.
You are not alone,” he said
“I’ll never leave you out.
All heaven knows I miss you, love
I’m miserable without.”
Tuesday, 23 October 2007
But who is this man, who has captured my attention so completely? Many of you have already met him, in one way or another. Some have passed him by unknowingly, and for you I am genuinely disappointed, because you have missed out on an amazing soul. Some have had a reaction similar to the one I have described here, which is much more than a simple collection of words. To you I smile, because the connections to him and to each other give us a unique context for all other relationships. But who, you ask, is this man? This intriguer of hearts? His name is Jesus.
Don't roll your eyes or write me off just yet, because this is potentially the first time you have been introduced to him in this light. Jesus isn't always the quiet, meek man seen in paintings. In fact, he was, generally, much the opposite. Artists have been tragically misled in this way. He is a passionate leader; a king in the front lines, showing us exactly how to fight. He is a rebellious activist, exposing flaws in the government and arguing with religious figureheads, forcing them to look either foolish or weak. He performed miracles, not magic. He taught with the power of experience, far beyond his years. Who wouldn't be attracted to this guy? Or, perhaps it is easier to say, who wouldn't be threatened by him? That's why he died. Not because he was wrong, but because the people couldn't control him any other way. Their only solution was murder. The funny thing is that it didn’t work.
Wednesday, 10 October 2007
Vidvid was naturally attracted to Rae, like so many others in the kingdom. Though she was not rich, she was amazing in other ways, and widely considered an honorary princess, of great value to the whole country and kingdom. This makes sense to very few people, until they have met Rae in person and then it was obvious. After a person had met her, she was suddenly of great value to them too. Needless to say, Rae was treasured. She was also treasured by the prince.
But this prince had a secret. He was terribly weighted by this secret, even though it was really nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, some would have been proud. You see, part of this high class prince was not born a prince. Part of him was born a cowboy. He loved country music and loved to dance in lines with other cowboys. He even loved to wear a cowboy hat and pretend to know how to use a lasso. But he was still incredibly ashamed of this lifestyle and hid it from the public as a sort of guilty pleasure. No one from the kingdom knew. Not even Rae. Especially not Rae.
And yet, the prince could not get enough of the classic country guitar, so he commissioned a place where he could howdy his way to happiness. He built a ranch. Underground. He called it The RAE: The Ranch At Elderberry. It would have been a terrible acronym, if it did not also remind the fair prince about Rae. But it did, so the prince Vidvid spent all of his spare time at the ranch, which was whenever he was not running the country or hanging out with Rae... at a very respectable, polite distance.
One fate full day, Rae was leading a library and museum tour as part of her volunteer program within the kingdom. She lead the group of 23 children through the palace and the castle. As was her custom on days that she was running late, Rae took a shortcut to the down town museum, taking the opportunity to show off some of the castle’s ancient secret passageways along the way. But this day, Rae's mind was distracted by thought of an early morning breakfast rendezvous between Vidvid and herself. So, when she had always turned left at the end of the long underground hall, she turned right without realizing it at all. Suddenly a dead end snapped her back into reality. Rae was lost.
And so were 23 frightened, screaming children. Somehow, it did not occur to her to bring a flashlight to the tunnels and passageways because she knew her way so well that she could navigate not only in the dark, but with a blindfold on. This was the first time that she really felt lost of afraid. So, instead of turning back and trying to find her way, she did what anyone in her position would do. She joined the kids and started to scream.
The dead end whooshed aside and there, standing as a silhouette to an otherwise blinding lighted doorway, was the prince. The prince was standing in the otherwise blinding doorway, wearing a cowboy hat; and cowboy boots; and spurs. The twanging music came blasting through the door. Vidvid looked at Rae. Rae looked at Vidvid. The kids looked back and forth. Everyone just looked. Then the looking stopped and the laughing began.
The kids were laughing because they had never seen anyone ever wearing a cowboy hat that wasn't in a movie and they thought it looked quite hilarious. Rae was laughing because she had just been rescued in the depths of a dungeon by a handsome prince. The poetic irony was just about perfect for a story of some kind. Vidvid was laughing because he was so embarrassed about the whole thing that he was sure he would fall over or fall apart if he didn't do something, and bursting into tears didn't seem like something that a prince or a cowboy would do. So everybody laughed.
Finally, Vidvid let everyone into the Rae Ranch. Then he got the band to play a very special song. In fact, it was such a special song that it must remain unnamed to preserve the sacredness of it's meaning. The important thing is that the prince finally made his move, rodeo hat and all. After dancing and singing it out for over three hours, the prince was overcome with boldness. He marched his parade of children and his lovely princess up into the sunlight of the kingdom. The band followed, and suddenly country music was everywhere! Within a week the crown was replaced with the wide rimmed cap of the cowboy and everyone was line dancing up and down the streets of Elderberry and beyond! And as for Rae? Well, she's singing and dancing and lighting up the world to this day... Vidvid's world at least!
The very end.
Saturday, 6 October 2007
This is who you are in conflict. This is what happens when your ideas are too different. When the swords meet and you’ve been stripped of your armor there is no defense. It doesn’t take long for their blade to find your heart when it’s on paper. Everyone knows that paper cuts hurt. Some don’t know how deep they are.
Thursday, 27 September 2007
Jealousy is a very strange thing. There is no other feeling that compares to the bitterness that leaches onto a jealous heart. The emptiness refuses to fill with any kind of supplement, stubbornly demanding whatever you can’t have.
Envy can attack from anywhere and by anyone, and though some of its forms are abstract and vague, there are a handful of sources that become blatantly obvious as time passes us by. My heart and my ego were afflicted this afternoon by a revelation of a terrible kind. I am jealous of my best friend’s boyfriend.
For some, this climax is perhaps slightly disappointing, because I am not jealous of him, per se, but of the time he gets to spend with her. It sucks. With no eloquence of speech, that is exactly how I feel. I cannot explain why I feel and think as I do, I can only describe how. How doesn’t help my problem; but neither would any answered question about it. I just miss her, clear and simple.
If I had the decision, I probably would not have placed us 330 kilometres apart for so long. Unfortunately, I am unable to reorganize the globe, for all of the times I’ve tried. I know in my mind that it is a good thing – an important, necessary, growth full thing – to be away. My heart doesn’t seem to care about what my head says.
So, to the ‘him’ in all of this, know that you’ve got unique and coveted access to something that is so valuable, beautiful, lovely, fabulous and so many other adjectives that you will discover as time goes on. Know that she’s in high demand in many contexts, and loved by SO many hearts. Be careful and care full. You’re an envied man.
Tuesday, 25 September 2007
The excavation of the mind is founded upon a bittersweet philosophy, in the sense that some of our histories have buried and suppressed with good reason. If the world discovered Pandora’s Box, it would be best to leave it alone and avoid a present day re-enactment of this legendary disaster; however, everyone has a box like this. It is our hiding place of terrible confessions and actions that at some point diseased and tormented our personal world. Leave these destructive memories to rest under their stones. Pain is not the aim of this dig.
Our purpose here is to uncover the neglected, not the rejected. The idea is to dust off what has been shelved for too long; to remember the glories of the past, for surely everyone has something worth reliving. A happy thought, however distant, is found in even the greenest of Grinches.
There is an obvious place to begin, or perhaps it is only obvious to a heart that has been somewhat void of such an attention. I have no embers or ashes of a love that is my own, in one sense and context. In another, my life has been so blessed and so full that my shelf of love seems to be many layers deep in many places. It was the spark of one of these smaller loves that began this exploration of my memory only an hour ago. A relatively short acquaintanceship in the grand scheme of time, though it has had a lasting impression on me. This memory is a beautiful, musical, colourful blur and blend of conversation and local adventure. There are others woven in to this memory, whom I will never forget, or something more true, whom I will continue to remember. It was a time in my life of leisure and laughter and love, of a kind. Is there anyone else who can claim this memory? Yes. Smile that kind of smile when you think of me and I’ll be blessed for a lifetime.
This is a single frame in the film of my mind, and each picture has a story worth sharing, for another time and place.
What does your memory say about you? At what point do you pause first when you search your mind? What piece of the past is on your heart in a heartbeat? Memory expresses what is inside of the soul. Sometimes what you find yourself looking at is a shelved trove of treasures. Sometimes it’s a box of secrets. Maybe it’s time for you to do some digging and rediscover the world under the dust.
Thursday, 20 September 2007
Outweighs any human design
From the hand of an artist divine.
If you sat beside me and gazed through this pane,
You could not see the same as I do
For the way that I see
Just to me
And mine is an intimate view.
To witness the art of an artist
Is to jump right inside of a soul;
Thought and emotion
Small pieces defining the whole.
This is the view from my window.
Art from the heart of my God;
He is untameable
Beautiful, unique and unflawed.
Wednesday, 19 September 2007
Authors write to express, to cause someone to stop and think, or sigh in relation, or evoke something of conviction -- not to be grammatically criticized and critiqued. Art loses it's beauty when it is simplified or summarized the same way that a joke ceases to be funny if explained, or a magic trick loses its impressiveness when the illusion is revealed. If mystery is lost, only knowledge remains. Knowledge is not beautiful -- it is only functional.
Shakespeare's art was one of subtlety. It is filled with imagery and laced with depth, but the balance is delicate, and meant for those with ears to hear it. He wrote in levels so that people of any intellectual standing could appreciate it. Common or king, there's something for everyone, but not everything to any.
I believe that we are doing Shakespeare an injustice by exposing his craft with such a matter-of-fact method. If we are to continue to breakdown every thought and symbol, is there nothing we can do to protect or at least acknowledge the original mystery? Can we not leave anything to individual interpretation? Let imagination fill in what eludes the mind.
Saturday, 8 September 2007
I just got my iPod.
Ah ha, you think, she is going to brag or rave or ooze all over us, talking about just how amazing this little device is, and how terribly unlucky or unworthy I am to not have one.
I met my iPod this evening with mixed feelings. I was, of course, both expecting and anticipating its arrival, as I had, only days before, ordered it online. With space for 7000+ songs, it is a classy iPod in black, and it literally has my name on it. I fell in love at once. Or perhaps, I fell in lust.You see, I have always wanted an iPod. Always wanted, never needed. Until about two weeks ago, I had never thought of actually purchasing such a thing, and even when my sister’s red Nano was delivered, I suppressed my envy and eventually forgot all about it. Suddenly, in the rush and thrill of leaving for school, a passing conversation caught my subconscious consumer off guard.
“Do you want an iPod?”
I didn’t know that was an option! My response was immediate. In fact, my mind had nothing to do with what my mouth said. Reason and thought were abandoned at the verbalized opportunity to own, for myself, such a prestigious possession. “Yes!” I replied.
Thus my present situation. Only moments ago, a Kleenex-sized box sat on my bed. I also sat on my bed. I took a deep breath, and about 20 seconds later the packaging had found a new home on my floor (next to a few socks and an earring) and I was caught in the deadlock stare of this mysterious machine. Silence overcame both of us, and just as I thought I was going to defeat the threatening gaze of my iPod, something tapped. Something tapped, aggressively, violently, at the back of my mind. “Why do you have this,” it demanded. “You don’t need it and you know it. It’s a little bit ridiculous that you bought it anyway. What now, girl?”
I recognized this voice. It was my white shoulder angel. You know the kind. You may call it something else, but we all have them. Mine is white and cartoon and usually disappointed or peeved. “It’s like this,” I explain. My thoughts are a little bit shaky at this point; cartoon projections so close to your face are even more intimidating than the exceptionally clever iPod. Somehow I find my voice. “An iPod is a very useful thing. It memorizes music better than I do, and I can record myself whenever I have a completely brilliant idea. Therefore, my iPod is an educational aid, not a westernized cultural fad”. I winked at my shoulder angel. He didn’t seem convinced.
So we cut a deal. I told him I would write out the whole drama (while still claiming my sanity), and leave it to my mind for a while. I do like my iPod. We’ve made friends and are going out for a stroll in the morning after I fix it up with a tune or two. I like that I bought it for myself and that it bears my full name and an important personal reminder. The flustration will pass. And yet, something remains subtly unsettled in my mind. Perhaps it is the fact that I am completely under the spell of the media, or the realization of such a fact. Whatever it might be, whatever your mind is concluding from this tale, the story’s been told. I leave you with one last thing and it is simply this: enjoy being spoiled.