Thursday, 22 April 2010

Sleep

It's only when what matters to us is taken away we understand its value. The value of a good night's sleep; of a meal without ill feelings afterwards; a walk outside without incident; these things that happen so naturally most of the time can sometimes be turned upside down. In those instances, we feel even more keenly the loss than something extraordinarily ill happening.

So I'll wish you a good night's sleep, and a day of peace. Because in the end, that's what much of life is about: finding peace.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Gigi

I'm doing something I've never really done in my life. Maybe I should have done it a long time ago. Sometimes, people grow up slow in certain areas. I'm a bit of a late bloomer here; better late than never, though.

It's a series of in-depth, positive writings about the important people in my life. Starting with family. Since it's easiest to begin at the youngest and move up, that's what I'll do.

Gigi is the nickname for my youngest brother. He is four years old as of 31 March. His actual name is Mattaniah. It was almost Mattimeo. (My choice.) I have known him all of his life, of course, but I don't have the time I'd like to know him. Getting ready for college and having to work full time, I realise soon I'll be gone and won't have much chance to see him grow up. Not that much of a happy thought, true; but there's plenty of good things to see so far.

Gigi is an English; that means he's intelligent, a smart-aleck, and can hold his own. Already he has good abilities that will serve him well in the future. I'm curious to what he'll be when he's grown. A lawyer? Politician? Businessman? Somehow, he seems the type that would dress in suit'n'ties and ride first class on an airplane—a banker, maybe? Then again, maybe I'm wrong. Too young to tell, though. As a four year old, he's interested in things like legos, dinosaurs, dragons, Franklin, Angelina Ballerina, Spot, Pooh, and all the rest of their friends. He'd rather watch movies than eat his supper, spends plenty of time outdoors—either with his siblings, or off on his own making up his own little worlds—and finds or makes mischief with extremely little difficulty.

I admit it; there are times I look at the large family I have and think, "You know, nine kids is a stinkin' lot." But when I glance individually at all of us, I know that really, it's a pretty small number. There's no two alike; there's none I could say, "You're just a smaller version of so and so." Each proves an addition to the family in ways large and small. Gigi is the same way. It's true, he is the baby of the family. His upbringing and maturation will be very different from what I and my older brother experienced. We didn't have brothers going off to college at age three, or brothers who were big enough to swing us over their heads. When he's nearly ready to leave home, I suspect the house will already feel a little lonely to him. Poor guy.

Maybe someday, you'll find out why he got the nickname Gigi. Like most of the odd nicknames that end up sticking in this family, there's a strange story that might just leave you more confused than you were before. In summation, though, Gigi has promise already, and I've no doubt he'll grow into another fine specimen of the English family. He's a world-shaker, no doubt about it.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Storybook Love

Come my love I'll tell you a tale
Of a boy and girl and their love story
And how he loved her oh so much
And all the charms she did possess

Now this did happen once upon a time
When things were not so complex
How he worshiped the ground she walked
And when he looked in her eyes he became obsessed.

My love is like a storybook story,
But it's as real as the feelings I feel
My love is like a storybook story
But it's as real as the feelings I feel
It's as real as the feelings I feel

This love was stronger than the powers so dark
A prince could have within his keeping
His spells to weave and steal a heart
Within her breast but only sleeping

My love is like a storybook story,
But it's as real as the feelings I feel
My love is like a storybook story
But it's as real as the feelings I feel
It's as real as the feelings I feel

He said, "Don't you know I love you oh so much
And lay my heart at the foot of your dress?"
She said, "Don't you know that storybook loves
Always have a happy ending?"
Then he swooped her up just like in the books
And on his stallion they rode away.

My love is like a storybook story,
But it's as real as the feelings I feel
My love is like a storybook story
But it's as real as the feelings I feel
It's as real as the feelings I feel


Then he swooped her up just like in the books
And on his stallion they rode away.

I'm going to do that some day. Just wait and see.

Friday, 16 April 2010

Seeing Differently

The title is, yes, a play on words. Double meanings, all that kind of thing. I got new glasses today. I rarely wear them, but have been having a little trouble and decided that my way outdated ones were due to replacement. Also discovered via visits to the eye doctor that my eyes have worsened. Now that I'm wearing the right prescription, things are clearer—and I see them differently. So, yeah...

As for the other meaning...well, that's what all—or most—of life is about. Seeing things differently, gradually, better-ly. All about the eventual transformation we undergo.

The play must go on, they say, and thankfully ours is. Good practise this evening. Now it's time for supper—and I am famished, let me express that to you right now (intentional over-wordage for your comedic benefit)—and a film.

Tomorrow is supposed to cool down a bit from today, which was rather warm. Should be nice. Don't have plans laid out for the weekend that I know of, so I'll be trying to sleep, work, and doing lines, bagpipe, and writing. Guess that's about all. Very little of profundity on my mind. Mostly, I'm just hungry.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Thoughts?

No, I guess I don't really want to write all my thoughts down here right now. Mainly because it's been a long day and I haven't done much productive, so I should probably be doing something else right now.

It's always the little things that aren't really important and don't have a lot of purpose that I end up focussing on, though.

Ever get flustered at yourself for not being able to get the feeling into the words that you want to? You mean them, you feel them, but it doesn't show very well?

Me too.

Ever get tired of being a disappointment to the people you love most?

Me too.

I'm not trying to be melancholy; in fact, I don't feel melancholy at all right now. Been helping with supper—we're eating Anglesey Eggs, a Welsh dish, with Bakestone Cakes, another Welsh recipe. It's been overall a good day, however unproductive. I worked for 8 hours, slept for three, and talked to a princess for an hour, before getting supper together. Overall, it's been a great day—no stress, no worry, no tossing and turning on my bed too tired to sleep. I'm happy, I really am. But you probably can't feel it can you? Why is that? Not sure.

As for what I wrote above, about being a disappointment, well, I feel that way every time I disappoint. I don't really disappoint the people I don't know very well or care about; they don't have expectations and desires that I can fill. The people you do care about, well, they're the ones you can hurt most—even as they are the ones you can heal most. Being a disappointment, feeling like you're a failure, like you've let down the people you love with heart and soul—even worse is knowing you've disappointed God, but that's on another level, so I'll leave it be for the present—it's a heart-wrenching emotion. It hasn't depressed me or made me turn in on myself. But it sits there, like a scab, ugly and a cause of hurt to myself and others.

I could be more than I am; I will be more than I am. I wish I were already more than I am.

:)

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Red is Blue

Eye appointment today. Yep, they're worse again. -7.00 in each eye for contacts. Isn't that just awesome. C'est la vie.

Other than that, worked, slept, ate, and then watched Holiday, with Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn. Good film.

On the agenda for tomorrow is very little specifically. I wouldn't mind being able to sleep in a little, though.

Listening to music from Hoodwinked; just got the soundtrack today. The title of the post is the title of one of the songs on the album. If you've seen the movie, you'll know what an amazing song it really is. I love it.

Monday, 12 April 2010

Sheep


They say if you can't sleep, you should try counting sheep.

One.

What now?

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Nothing to Say?

Ever get the feeling that you really, really want to say something but when you think, you're mind doesn't provide the words or sentences or even subject that you just know you'd like to talk about?

Me too.

It's a little funny, in a wry sort of way; and I don't know if this happens to everyone, or just some of us. But when things are going smoothly, and life is happy, and I'm content—it's hard to imagine what it feels like to struggle or be under attack. As soon as things change—and they are apt, I've noticed, to do so at a moment's notice—then the struggle begins, the attack continues, and instantly even though I know things will improve and return to form, I still can't imagine or feel what it is like to be happy and content. Then it's back to being happy, and I forget what it is like to struggle; and back and forth. That's one of the difficult realisations that all Christians eventually come to understand for themselves: Though the roller coaster may not be as violent or as difficult at all times, there will never be a levelling off—struggles against sin and human weakness continue until we die.

If I left it at that, it would be a little depressing, don't you think? Yeah, we're here, we'll struggle all our lives against sin, which we can't in ourselves overcome, then we die—and...wow. What a life?

But there's more to it than that. Even though we will always struggle, there will still be times, even long periods of time, when life is easier. The battles rarely get less difficult, but as we go on, God helps us, and allows us, victory more than ever. We learn to live through the tough times, knowing they are trials not for our ill but our good.

Not seeking to be dramatic here; but there's a sense in which, all our lives, as Christians, are very dramatic. We're part of a global war—the war to end all wars. When you think about it that way, it gives us a bit of pressure to win, and when we win, there's the realisation that we're part of what God's doing, part of his war, and part of his winning. Which is a far less depressing thought to end on.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Talk

Sometimes, we're reduced in the space of a word to talk. Just plain talk. We make changes, we do things to improve our lives, to become better, less self-centered. But a single instance which cuts to our core and all thoughts, like a shield in the arm of an experienced soldier, turns our world back toward ourselves. It's relatively easy to be unselfish when you're happy and nothing is hurting you. No sooner is a harmful word spoken, however, but we are in the thick of the struggle, either giving up or desperately seeking God's help to overcome the waves upon waves of selfish desires rising on every side.

God help us all.

500 Miles

And if I haver, well you know I'm gonna be, I'm gonna be the man who's haverin' to you


Spent the morning working, then went to a surprise birthday party for a friend and played surprise bagpipes. It was good to get them out and play again; haven't played them regularly enough since before the end of last year. Little things like that make me a little sad—knowing that even if I didn't procrastinate like I do, I still wouldn't have time like I need to focus anymore. I'm not complaining about my work; sure, there's very little fun in it, but at least it's work (actually I don't mean that; what I mean is, at least it pays)—and beyond that, it's where I am in life, so I've got to be satisfied with it. Still, there's a large part of me wouldn't mind going back to the days of late high school, when I worked twice a week, did some schoolwork, but focussed more on writing and bagpipe and things that are useful and profitable and fun...instead of spending all my time working or sleeping or doing nothing, just to earn money for university. It's an odd world. If I wasn't working and earning money, I would be in college right now. I wouldn't have taken a year off last year, I would have jumped right into it. I wouldn't have liked that either. I don't know if I was more content previously or not. And it's not even so much that I'm not generally content now; but I miss having the time to devote to my interests.

Working this job is not an interest. It's necessary. I travel too much not to have to work to earn money in between. I spend a couple thousand dollars in Great Britain in 2008; then a few hundred more in 2009; I go to Québec; I fly to Maine; I drive to Pennsylvania. Travelling is wonderful. I can't sit in one place for very long anymore. I just can't. But have you ever noticed that in this world, the only way you can facilitate doing the things you really enjoy is by hard, annoying, or downright bad things? To be what I want to be—which I'm not entirely sure anymore what that is...but be that as it may—I'm going to have to have some sort of job, and at least at first, it won't be what I'm most interested in, I'm sure of it. Save for a miracle, I'll be working a lot of jobs that aren't in my line of interests. If I want to travel, I have to work when I'm home; if I want to write, I have to earn the time to do it. If I want to be happy, I have to work at it. I'm not trying to paint a picture that life is all about me. But even when helping others, even despite the fact that it is ever so much more fulfilling and enjoyable—it still requires effort, and work.

No, no, this isn't anything new to any of you. I'm just casually observing a few things and lamenting the fact that I don't have the ideal job, the ideal life, and the ideal this that or the other—all on a lazy Saturday afternoon. See, the afternoon may be lazy...but I don't have the chance. ;)

-J. William English

Thursday, 8 April 2010

How Much

A man once told me the only change we can make to ourselves is spiritual. If we are seeking to alter ourselves for the sake of another in ways outside sanctification, we may need to rethink what we are doing. Thankfully, for myself, this is not a problem. But for the sake of discussion, I will spend a few minutes on what he meant.

We start out small. Everything we do at first is based on what we find others around us doing. The words we say, the movements we make—though we have our individual (and sinful) natures from the very beginning, it's all imitation. As we learn to imitate bigger things, we soon learn to express ourselves in small ways. Time goes on, and we change from infants to children. The older we get, the more we branch out. It is often very early on that we see things which will become important later in all our lives: a two-year-old shows the character of his eighteen-year-old self. But the college years are different. This is when the mould begins to harden. By the time we graduate, we're adults on our own and sometimes those who come out are barely recognisable as those who went in. In this there can be great change. Good, bad, or neutral.

However, that is not the change I, nor the man mentioned above, meant. That kind of change is not effected by what we can control; instead, it is by the events and circumstances over which we have no power. Therefore, it is developmental change that every person goes through, and not change we effect in ourselves.

The power we have over ourselves to change is limited. As Christians, we can change spiritually, as long as we seek God's help. Spiritual changes have far-reaching affect. Spiritual problems often evince themselves in emotional or mental ways that can be altered with some hard sanctification. But the makeup of our bodies and souls, that which determines how outgoing or introvertial we are, that which makes us shy or loud, good with our hands or awkward with our feet—these are changes that we can improve incrementally, things we can alter but not change.

Maybe I've muddled the issue. Maybe not. In any case, it's good to examine how much you're trying to change for any reason, and how possible that really is. People will do stupid things for very good reasons. We all know what that's like. But it could end up hurting everyone involved if we aren't careful.

This isn't to cause doubt or worry to those facing alterations and changes to be made. The largest problems people face in getting along are spiritual. The sole (and I mean SOLE) destroyer of relationships is selfishness. There is nothing else that can break people apart. If both parties involved are selfless and committed to the other's needs, there will never be any conflict or difficulty with each other or in life that can get past this. Being selfless is nearly impossible, at least consistently. But it is one change we can begin to effect, and certainly a valuable one. Perhaps the most valuable one in any part of life.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

The Perfect Space

I'm just going to write the lyrics here to a song I've been listening to. Once you've read them, try looking the song up so you can listen to it yourself. I'm not really sure what the writer is trying to say here, but it's certainly interestingly put.

I wanna have friends that I can trust
That love me for the man I've become not the man that I was
I wanna have friends that'll let me be
All alone when being alone is all that I need

I wanna fit in to the perfect space
Feel natural and safe in a volatile space
And I wanna grow old without the pain
Give my body back to the earth and not complain

Will you understand when I am too old of a man?
And will you forget when we have paid our debts
Who did we borrow from? Who did we borrow from?

Okay part two now clear the house.
The party's over take the shouting and the people, get out!
I have some business and a promise that I have to hold to
I do not care what you assume or what the people tell you.

Will you understand when I am too old of a man?
And will you forget when we have paid our debts,
Who did we borrow from? Who did we borrow from?

I wanna have pride like my mother has,
And not like the kind in the Bible that turns you bad.
And I wanna have friends that I can trust,
that love me for the man I've become not the man that I was.

So...what is he saying? Like most Avett Brothers songs, there's snatches that we understand, but in my own experience at least, the ultimate meaning of the song is clouded at best. Is he asking for more room? Is it a cry for something different, something more than what he has? Is this desperation and loneliness that prompts his words, or rationally understanding that he really does want to be alone? I've no idea. Interesting song, though. Interesting song.

Monday, 5 April 2010

Moving Distractions

As the days wear on, and visits come and go with extended family members, friends, others (don't ask who fits in that category...haha), I think often about my own leaving. It seems I will miss my family more than I at first thought; it's as if things are already breaking down, getting ready for my departure, which is only months away. Now less than half a year ahead, I have things to write, money to earn, and trips to go on...all the while watching time dwindle away. The advantage my older brother has to going to a college just six hours from our house is that, for Easter weekend, he can come by even for just a couple days, and things seem right-side-up again. I'll not be able to pop in for a weekend; sure, there will be summers, and Christmas, and Easter breaks—but what about in between? The ache is worst at parting, and things swing back quickly to where they are. The more goodbyes I take part in (and we all accumulate them quickly as we grow into adulthood), the more I realise that as much as things affect us, life is utterly, unashamedly relentless in its pursuit of the next step. I don't have time to mourn the parting of family right now, despite how awful it feels; right now I have three different assignments to finish, bagpipe to practise, supper to eat, bills to pay, and sleeping to be had—before work starts again tomorrow. I'll say this, 90° weather isn't the best for doing anything, either. Can't walk, can hardly sit at my computer—the heat pouring off it as it is. I sit in my room feeling listless, desiring some distraction, and finding none. For a very brief time, the moments after saying goodbye pass in agonising slow-motion. Then we go on and the feeling begins to pass until the next one.

Occasionally, I look at the resiliency of humans, myself included, and wish things had longer-lasting effect. It doesn't seem right to move on from goodbyes, either temporary or forever; yet though some losses are forever, others heal and scar and are visited occasionally, sometimes even with tears, but the greater part of the time lie buried in our minds. There is a quote, from either the Bible, a book, or maybe both. It may be at first related to Jesu's own words recorded in more than one of the Gospels, in which he said (and I paraphrase), "My business is with the living, not the dead." In the same way, our own business lies with what is living and active in front of us, not with regrets and past experiences and goodbyes. Did God create us this way? Did we gain this resiliency and urge and necessity within us to move past pain as a curse or blessing after the Fall? I honestly don't know. I think it's both blessing and curse, all rolled into one.

If I've seemed melancholy, forgive me; I am exhausted from very little sleep the past week, emotionally worn from watching my cousins and brother take their departure this afternoon, and feeling sick probably due much in part to this heat. Plus, there's always other things crowding around in my head, waiting their turn to be thought and dwelt on. I must say honestly, in closing, that distractions are sometimes the human's only means of survival from an emotional disaster. Without pushing the pain to the back, it would sit and fester. So thank God for distractions. They are a lifesaver.

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Change in the Winds

1. I can see a lot of green from where I'm sitting. It's starting to creep into the trees, and will soon begin blocking the highway from view, surrounding the whole world from here in growing life. It goes on. The sky is white, the weather humid—but not as hot as yesterday. Already, the first of summer's coming can be felt, a sticky breath, like the residue left from touching a candy-covered metal railing. Outside my window, a curious beetle flies hovering in the air, as if contemplating a violent charge into my screen. The stink bugs are gone, for which I'm thankful; now we're come into other things.

2. How dramatic a change can we ever expect in our lives from any upset in the wind or circumstance we come across? Is it exaggerating to say or think that life can throw something up in our path so startling and revealing that we make staggering changes to who we are or were spiritually? (If that sentence didn't confuse you at first reading...then I don't know what will.)

3. Consistency is a fundamental part of the most important components of any relationship. Friendship, familial, romantic, business, and any in between; because, you see, it is consistency that provides and proves trust, and without trust, all relationships fall apart. Change in any person can only be accepted over time, never immediately. And time means patience, and patience is the hardest of all virtues, of this I am sure. Of hardest duties, it is that of he who must change, and has changed, that patience required to continue consistently with the change, waiting until the time is right and trust is established, or re-established. Accidental or purposeful breaking of trust is more damaging than we often realise, unless it is we who have been hurt. It is a long, narrow path on thin ice to reach firm ground from there, and many fall through. As we know, but must be reminded of consistently, it's only by the grace of a Firmer Hand we ever reach safety.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Surprises

Life is full of them. Sometimes, we make our own to share with others. When they're a good thing, they are fun and memorable. I hope my latest escapade will be one memory I take with me the rest of my life.

There's something many people spend their whole lives looking for, and die without finding it. Others are given it at a young age. Most of the time, it's found in the most unlikely of ways—in the most likely, in fact the only, place. Peace. God's the only holder and giver of peace in our world, but it can take us the very longest time to give up whatever we're already holding in our hands and take the rest he offers. We are all little monkeys, our hands stuck in the jar because we're holding too many cookies—but we can't bear the thought of giving up a single one. It can take a bite, pinch, or burn of our hands to force us to let go and take our hand out of the jar. But when we do, we realise there's better things to be found all around, without the restriction of the jar. In this analogy, the jar represents the things of our world, small and confinable. God's world, when we look at it from His eyes, is infinite: the possibilities go on for eternity.

In every one of us, we find a double standard. Though certain things we trust God for completely, we don't seem to feel he's capable of handling all our problems. Some things, you see, are just too important to let anyone else take care of. But God doesn't like to see his people stuck with their hands in the jar—and he'll do whatever it takes to get that hand out, no matter how much it hurts.

I've spent a long week in three different states of our USA, and more than that of mind. I feel different inside. It's a good change, though. More to come later.