Thursday, 30 September 2010

Verges

There's a point in writing a book that your focus shifts from one to the next. I'm in the home stretch for the current novel; it'll wrap tonight around 5:00am. Already I've begun thinking about the next book. I've been planning it years; even written a good/bad 40,000 words in it. It's creeping into the sphere of vision ever closer; by the time I've finished WD,MS a week, it will be completely in control. That's how it always happens.

It's odd. I've written, start to finish, three novels, and three long novellas. This will be number four. On average, it's one per year since I was 14. Which is funny, since one book took me a year to write; the next was a full 9 weeks. And the last two will be in at just under a month.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Jamais de poisson

Roughly and badly translated, it means fish forever.

Well, today marks the sad end to one chapter in my life, begun a year and a half ago.

I got fish as a hobby, in a sense, because as a secondary school graduate, I needed something to do in my year (and now two years) off. They were wonderful. Today, the last of them is gone.

I removed the fish table and its tank, cleaned my room, and prepared everything for the next step, mostly dealing with the lack of fish in my life. It was time consuming at times, expensive to begin, but rewarding I think, and I now have the equipment should one of my siblings, or myself later in life, decide to begin the hobby again.

Friday, 24 September 2010

I sleep with two pillows. See, I have this idea that you get twice as much sleep per hour that way. Try it.

Every day I work, I pass a dealer in men's clothing with what is possibly the most awful name I've ever seen. Quillie III Haberdashery Hats Shirts Shoes Slacks. Revolting, actually.

It's my goal to take every single belief and presupposition that I, or others, have, and turn it upside down, shake it up, and look at it from another perspective. Don't get trapped in the rhetoric.

Most people hide behind their words. In fact, I think everyone does it, more than anyone would admit. Don't do it. What exactly do I mean by that? Well, we take rhetoric, whether it's spiritual rhetoric or glib talk in regards to other matters, and we talk, and we create this sphere of unreality that we go to in our heads. It will take a long time to explain.

Deep down, I'm in search of practical, real spirituality. Of course, I'm sure every good Christian will look at that and nod and say, "Oh, yes, that's good, so are we all." I disagree. I think most people hide behind their words. And for those who get their joys and happinesses out of spiritual things already, maybe it doesn't matter. But for the rest of us, for those wild, dark ones who are prone to other things, we don't want a bunch of words that aren't really a part of life.

Because, see, Christianity isn't a religion, it isn't even exactly just a faith. It is a life. And if you separate it as a different entity from life, then you wreck it in some form or another. I've recently started a youth group, well, begun attending the recently started YG at the church I'm at. It's not bad, but the leaders are more concerned with spiritual Christianity. Maybe you're getting all worried because you're jumping to conclusions at my rhetoric. But that's not a bad thing; I want to use rhetoric to make you think. I don't want you to slip into the rut of my words. You need to have to work to make a groove in the path, not use the one people have used and overused before you.

I'm not interested in terms like "personal holiness" right now. Yes, it's good; of course it's important. But there's nothing for personal holiness to grip onto if you don't have a grip on why Christianity is the only real life, and everything else is less than full. I'm going off to college, and I don't want to be told how often and how much to read my Bible and pray and seek God and do this that and the other, because that's not going to help. What I'd like to hear is a discussion of actual, real-life circumstances, questions, dilemmas, and see why Christianity is practical for answering everything. If I go to a friend who is a non-Christian, or a less-spiritual friend and ask for advice, I'll get practical advice most of the time. It may not be what I should do, or end up doing, but it's not going to be high-brow words about seeking God and just trusting. That's not practical. Don't separate Christ from life. God says we should be in the world and not of the world. There's plenty of talk in evangelical circles about not being of the world. I think we need to focus on really being in the world. It's our world, after all.

What am I ranting about? I think one of the large causes of rebellious church-going youth is due to us separating Christ from life, however sincerely we pursue him, and however well the spiritual people might be able to do that. I am not, as you all know, a deeply spiritual person in the sense that I don't like praying long prayers with the sort of words people who are "spiritual" use. It doesn't make the prayer better, and at least if you're around others, it distances you.

Christians should be different, not distant. That's very important.

Of course, don't get me wrong, there's a place for all that spiritual talk. I think it's on Sunday, during morning and evening worship. Sunday is a day set apart already, it's the day we're supposed to be distant, not doing the things of the world. During the rest of the week, we have to do the things of the world. Let's find out the answers that exist (assuming there are answers, which is one question people prone to rebelliousness, like me, ask when they aren't being given them).

The problem people have is that they hide behind their words, and they might sincerely believe the things they say and talk about and the way they talk about them, but for some people, that's not enough. Some of us need something deeper to hold on to. Doesn't make us better, doesn't make the rest worse.

You know, I'm pretty sure most of this won't make a lot of sense to a lot of you. I've never had the ability to make a statement that's different, put it out there, and have everyone come at it with the best possible understanding they could have. Don't close your minds. Not just towards me, towards anything. Never keep a closed mind. Don't hide behind your words. And don't separate the life out of Christianity. And don't tell me the spiritually mature in reformed circles today don't do that, because they do, and if you think they don't, perhaps you haven't read me the right way.

No, I'm not really upset with anyone in particular; just frustrated, because I can see what the problem is (because I'm almost part of it), and I can see that the solutions people come up with aren't going to cut it. Which is very sad.

That's why I sleep with two pillows, and why I need twice the sleep.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Pictureframes

Pictures and their frames
hold different things inside
But the frame is still the same
Whatever you decide
To show behind the dirty glass
A picture future, present, past
That tells a little of your who
That picture that's a little you.

We're all the frames, one way or another
What we put in isn't up to each other
It's not pressure from the mob
Do your own deciding for it then
Pick a picture you'll be happy with
And may it speak the truth.

Make a picture for your frame
Paint it, take it, make it plain
Don't hide behind the windowpane
It's time to show yourself.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Cup of Tea

An opportunity
Is rather like a cup of tea
It doesn't disappear
If you're not quick to act
But the sooner that you spring
The hotter it will be.

If you go too early,
And if you go too late
You'll end up burning
Mouth or tongue
Or tasting tea not great.

Books

Life is like a book,
Long and hard to read
Something out of Dickens
Or professors dressed in tweed

It can be hard to start,
But if we push on to the end
There's interesting parts
And lots of pleasant friends

But the thing about books
They're useless when they're closed
And if you never read them
Their knowledge is unknown.

What's written in the book
Still happens to us all
We just don't know about it
And it's harder when we fall

So open up your books,
And open up your eyes
There's new places to look
And more than one surprise

It won't change all that happens
But it might change your perspective
You'll yearn for more, and turn the page
It can give your life direction.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Cameras on a Shelf

Sometimes we're like cameras,
Lying on a shelf;
Useful for taking pictures
And dusty all by ourselves

I wish, every so often,
Someone would come in
And take his little soft rag
And wipe our little lens

Sometimes we need batt'ries
Sometimes we need cards
But most of all we need someone
Who is good at taking pictures

The only thing worse than a camera
Sitting on a shelf
Is the camera being used
To make and spread more filth

Monday, 20 September 2010

Renamin iret te Narminú

I don't want to overload my readers with words and things to delve through. And I don't enjoy caving. I consider this that I am about to do something of a bit of a caving, and an overload of words. Big deal.

I've been rather bombarded the past few weeks and days, and hours, with parental, familial, siblingal, and childrenal relationships and since it won't seem to stop until I do something about it, in this case doing becomes writing, then here's what I have to say.

I've a very reserved person when it comes to how much I talk about my opinion of people. In fact, I'm quite reserved about the opinions I have that really matter. Opinions on politics, liberal vs. conservative (me being liberal, of course), some religious quibblings, etc are all things that in the end don't really matter. It's not dangerous to talk about my opinions regarding those matters because no matter what people think about them and how much they disagree (which is often huge amounts), it's not important. It won't hurt me that you're all a bunch of conservatives and think I'm a wacko liberal. I kind of enjoy it, actually, though it's not really why I do it.

But with personal relationships, while some are harder to talk about than others, and it depends on a number of factors, I don't like to be completely open. It's vulnerable. It's dangerous. You can get hurt when you really share that much. Now, I've done so with a number of people. And, lo and behold, I often got hurt. That was okay, and I'm alive to talk about it, but it's an illustration of why I don't enjoy doing it.

On Sundays, though, pastor's begun a series on parents and past, present, and future teens, which manages to include just about all of us. Which got me thinking...again...about my own mum and dad.

So.

Do you ever notice that when someone is really quite good at something, they can make it seem quite natural and easy, and often it's years later that you try it yourself and realise, you know, he was on to something, and I can't get the hang of this at all. Certain talents show obvious strain and effort. But the characteristics of a godly person, when carried out with faith and belief, and when done so humbly and truthfully, can seem so effortless that every so often we look down on those traits. A man who can juggle multiple balls very quickly, if he is just good enough, makes a show of using no skill at all. A few of you, maybe even myself, might watch and say or be tempted to say, "Well, mate, he's not so good, is he? Anyone could do that, look how smooth it moves." What we consider easy is easy to contemn; godliness, when seeming so natural to life, as it becomes with greater sanctification, is never actually easy, never actually the work of a year or a decade, even, never actually a simple decision, nor is it based on existing character traits.

My parents do not display godliness with any effort. It does not come out in ways that causes me to notice or think about in any way other than, well, that's the way they are. And still, as I live longer and try my own hand at juggling, I come to understand, not only is it harder than it looked, it seems well-nigh impossible to achieve.

Mum and dad are rather quiet examples. Maybe that's personality, maybe it's because for all their human faults, godliness is real to and for them, and not something to be displayed flagrantly. Until I tried for myself their own patience, compassion, love, and humility, among other traits, I didn't know just how hard it is to juggle. I watched it my whole life; I watched it so long, I didn't even think of it as being anything unusual.

The trouble, of course, is that even though I've tried it for myself and found it rather difficult, there's the nagging sour-grape-related thought that, sure, it takes a little bit of practise, but once you've got it, you've got it. Which isn't quite true at all. Juggling takes an acquired skill, but when you're putting it into practise, even if you know it so well you know what to do, you can't stop keeping your mind's eye on what you're juggling, and especially when juggling a great many things, you can't break concentration or it all tumbles down. Along with the sour grapes is the idea that, sure, it might not be easy for me, but then, I'm not surprised at that; for some people, it just is.

Here's the thing. Godliness, in order to show in a real, life-altering, humble way, must be so much deeper than what is expressed day to day. Rather like the proverbial iceberg, for a little to show, there's got to be a lot more underneath. In order to be patient, compassionate, and loving to booger-headed wretches, we've got to seek God with huge portions of ourselves, all of ourselves, in fact, and you can't just start doing that. I don't know anyone who can surrender themselves in any way but gradually. Once that happens, you've got to work to stay under, to stay submerged in God's sea; once you're in Him, he starts coming out of you, and people can see. Your responses to negative or inflammatory statements become patient in a way that seems natural, but only because of the work that goes on underneath.

What am I trying to say here? Well, I have to be honest: my parents are godly people, and they make it seem so effortless, too effortless in fact, that sometimes I don't realise what it takes to be like that, or the struggles they contain and deal with that no one sees, or that were dealt with in the decades before I understood what I know now. It's humbling, sometimes discouraging—because it seems so far from reach—and quite goal-setting. Occasionally it's hard to look up to someone with a skill that doesn't seem to take any coordination, something that just happens. Especially something, like juggling, that doesn't make a lot of noise or draw a lot of crowds. But when that happens, you just have to remind yourself how hard it is to learn, and how much work it takes to maintain. Thanks, M&D. I stink at this sort of thing, writing an honest opinion, and being godly. But here's a start at an attempt toward both. Cheers.

The Rambling On of a Weary Mind

Some thoughts, in a tangled sort of verse. Try and figure it out.

So I'm writing a book. When I get into it, whether I realise it at first or not, I always draw in a little. I get grouchy, or apathetic; or worse. I tend to have a shorter fuse, I can even be rather rude (in public too, how shocking!). I don't like talking about the book, I don't like trying to explain it. In fact, I'd prefer never to have anything to do with the entire mess of a project.

Once it's finished, once I've said, "The End" for the sixth, seventh, or tenth time I'd like to put it out of mind, and move on toward the next one. But no, the job is worse than all that, and the hardest bit is what comes after, when you're talking, and telling person after person, what the whole blasted thing is about. It's not that I don't like the story, usually I do; if I detested it through and through, I'd not have written it. Yet still there's a nagging in my head, that says don't touch it, ever. I'd like to leave it under the bed, and shut it out from the world.

All the while I'd like to be famous, have people talk about it and me; but I'd rather leave that to my agent, and lock my door, draw the drapes, and sit down for hours to think. I'm rather solitary, which makes me hard to live with; but when I shut out the writing part, it distorts me. It's worse not to write, in the end; though it might be pleasanter at first. Occasionally I'm a social man, entertainer, conversationalist. But when I'm writing, I feel so weary, tired of the world, of talking to people, I just want to shut everything out.

Not because I don't care, don't get me wrong, but because there's something in front of me that I can't seem to ignore; it's bigger than all that, it's bigger than the people I know. It's not better, it's not more worthy...in fact, it might be worse, or unworthy at all. I'm never quite sure about that; it has consequences, you see. But then as an analogy, an elephant is bigger than people, and even if people are more fun to be around and to love and to have as friends, spouses, or family, it's a fact that the elephant is a lot harder to ignore on the horizon. A mouse might step in the way of two people, but you wouldn't see it unless you were looking down. If an elephant got in the way, you'd have to move the elephant first before you could see your friend again. And it's the same sort of thing, I think. The elephant, however an odd way to describe the muse, is rather unmovable unless you coax it out. You can't really use force on an elephant; you've got to use peanuts, and you've got to be careful. Because it's not an elephant that's used to people. It's a wild elephant, writing is. When I've finished the book, the elephant has moved, for a while. But of course, he'll be back. The elephant always comes back.

I'm not resigned to staying a grumpy fellow alone my whole life, though I find it just as likely as the alternative. Part of this is the fact that however long I shut the writing part out of my life, it pushes back in eventually. Two people might stand as close to each other as possible, but elephants' trunks are rather strong, and they can always push the people apart eventually. It doesn't stop me from caring about the world, it just stops me from being full of desire to do something about that care. Besides, writing is my friend too, and however a rude or persistent one, he's been there when others haven't. No slight against my readers, because you've not failed me, or if you have I don't mind it. The elephant is a strange mixture of my parent and my child; both your parents and your children can be quite persistent in getting your attention. But eventually, you have to look at them, however much you'd rather get on with what you were doing already. Your toddler might be pulling on your leg at church, and you can ignore him for ten, fifteen, twenty minutes while you finish a conversation, but if you ignore him forever, you'll go insane. Your father might knock on your door when you're on the phone, and you can ignore the first few times, but then you've got to open the door and see what he wants.

But you listen to your parents when they can be persistent and you listen to your children when they are persistent for two very different reasons. Rather like the elephant. The child, because it simply gets too exasperating to ignore. Your leg starts to feel a bit weird, too. And the parent, because you're rather afraid of the consequences of their authority. The writing elephant (and I'm almost sorry I chose elephant, as however lovely they are in their own right, when I think of writing I'd rather think of an eagle or a fox, but they're consistently easier to ignore) is persistent like a nagging child. It bugs you, and bugs you, and bugs you. And eventually you turn and say, "What do you want, you little booger?" (Or that's what I'd be tempted to say; happily for my children, I am not their father yet.) You're not really afraid of the consequences of not listening to your child, cause he can only pull on your leg. But you'd like to appease him, so you do. The other half of the elephant is talking to you, though, and if you keep ignoring him, you know there will be unpleasant results. You'll get punished in some way; and it's the same with real life situations as it is the writing elephant. If you ignore it, it gets blasted unpleasant and annoying; but it's also rather foolish and somewhat dangerous to do so past a point.

Am I completely crazy to talk about writing like this? Maybe, but I'm not convinced. I'm completely crazy, I'm just not sure this is why. See, I really could ignore it; I really could tell the person I loved not to worry about the writing bit of me, and try to be happy with a girl (or a friend, in a different way) who never fully accepted the writing part. But kind of like the other adult in the conversation at church where your toddler is banging on you, she might be tempted to say after a while, "Doesn't that kind of annoy you? Don't you want to find out what he wants so he'll go away?" But the trouble, of course, is that I know what he wants, it's always the same thing: Daddy come outside and play with me. Which means for a time I can't have a close conversation with anyone else. Similarly, she might be on the phone with me and hear my dad knocking and asking to come in, and say, if I ignore him long enough, "Don't you want to find out what your dad wants? He might not be happy with you." And of course, I know what he wants. He wants me to do my homework with him, so I can be ready for school the next day. Which means I won't be talking to anyone else until it's finished.

Perhaps I'm just blabbing on and not making any sense at all. But the fact is, living with me in any relationship will be difficult until you accept and understand that 1. if I ignore the elephant, it's going to be painful to experience from my point of view, and painful to watch from everyone else's; and 2. if I don't ignore the elephant, it's going to keep me occupied and distant until I'm finished.

It's not that I'm resigned to things and I give a sigh, shrug my shoulders and say, "Well, baby, it's just the way it is and I can't do anything about it." I can do my best to make things pleasant while I'm "away", and I can do my best to explain before, during, and after the reasons why I go through these phases. But if I do ignore it, eventually it will be permanently damaging and unhealthy and unhelpful; in which case, it would be permanently unpleasant and annoying to have to spend the rest of your life with me.

The moral of all this? Well, twofold. One-fold, so you can understand why sometimes I'm a little bit...off. The other-fold, so "she" will know (hypothetical she, that is) that she will have to be very special, very understanding, and very tough. Which means it's rather likely I'll not find anyone, at least for many years, who is interested in putting up with that. And if that's the way that God sets it up and I don't find anyone like that, then it's okay. Sometimes, you have to go with the flow, as cliche and unpleasant as it is and sounds. Occasionally, if you quit fighting the stream, you'll go under, and you might not be able to breathe, but you can see there's an awful lot of pretty fishes swimming around. Is the view worth the not-being-able-to-breathe bit? Sometimes.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Excerpts from Chapter VI

Fergus was snoring when she got back. She would have to tell him, but she didn’t want to wake him just yet. Tarn went to her bedroom and changed into a shirt and jeans. The day had been warmer than those previous, and she wanted to be comfortable.
It was the smell of food that woke the leprechaun. Tarn was not surprised. “Hey, friend,” she said, smiling as his head poked up over the edge of the couch, his nose sniffing wholeheartedly.

“Why, tis Miss Skirrow!” he exclaimed, grinning. “And how was yer day, then.”

“It was grand,” she said, imitating his voice and grinning back cheekily. “More or less. How was yours?”

“Sure, twas grand as well, lass, grand enough; I cleaned yer house, made yer supper—but then I ate it, alas—smoked meself a pipe, and washed it down with a drop of good ould brandy to keep the life in me bones.” Tarn glanced around. There was little evidence of his housecleaning, and he was right, the supper was gone; as to the smoking and drinking, she had little trouble believing him.

After Tarn had eaten, they were in the living room, talking like lifelong friends. She lay on the couch, he sprawled in the chair.

“Fergie,” she said sleepily, contemplating his large, blue eyes, wild shoots of red hair, and gargantuan house of the olfactory senses, “tell me where you’re from, eh?”

He pulled at an imaginary pipe and grinned. He had a gold tooth, she saw from her angle; it was in the back. Maybe that was significant. “Sure, m’girl, twas just luck I’m here, so twas. I’m yer fairy godfather, so I am. Isn’t t’at a good enough an answer?”

She yawned and blinked slowly. “No, no it’s not. Tell me about yourself, Fergie—truly. What’s your last name?”

“McGriffin,” he said.

“Where were you born?”

“A barrel in Wicklow, sure as me name’s McGriffin.” He grinned brashly and set his imaginary pipe down.

“What do you think we’re doing here? Do you think life is a fairy tale or a horror story, Fergus?”

“Well, Tarn, me beauty, let life be what it is, then, and I’ll worry about it when it suits me.”

Tarn yawned again. “What do you do with yourself?”

“A little of this, a little of that, y’know. I was a sailor, sure enough, and then a soldier; but mostly, an Irishman.”

“Where do you live?” she said, now very sleepy.

“Sure, Miss Skirrow, roight here, with you!”

She smiled, strangely happy with the knowledge there was someone who was near her that actually wanted to be nearby.

“There’s something I have to tell you,” she said, and sat up. “I’m moving on Friday. Not too far, into an old house. I’ll have a housekeeper, and her son, to live with me too.”

The leprechaun’s face fell. “Sure’n why didn’t ye say so?” he asked dejectedly.

Tarn smiled. “I just did say so, silly! Anyway, it’s not my decision really, it’s Russell’s. But I was—”

“Oi’d like to wring that b******’s neck, so I would!” he cried in anger. “Sure and he’s runnin’ yer whole life, missie, can’t ye see that?”

“Calm down, little man!” she yelled at him, laughing. “I’m moving—and like I said it’s not far, and I was wondering, if you don’t have any plans, if you’d like to come with me and stay on, as a butler or something.”

Immediately Fergus’ eyes lit up and his hair seemed to stick out even further. “Sure’n why didn’t ye say so?” he cried, in an entirely new way from before.

Tarn dove for him, her fingers tickling every available body part, the Irishman defenseless under the onslaught. “I did say so, you cheeky blighter—or I would’ve said it sooner except someone was jumping all over the conclusions and I couldn’t get a word in bloody edgewise!”

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Well Done, Miss Skirrow

“That is much of my story, my dear. What of you?”

Tarn shook her head. “It’s no good, mine isn’t very happy at all.”

“And did you think mine was, love?”

She drank some tea. “You have yourself, and you have your son; he has you. I have no one.”

The woman sighed. Tarn sat up slowly, feeling like she was being ripped out of a dream or comfortable, deep sleep. “It might help you, my dear,” she said. “And besides, this isn’t the end of you, it’s only the middle. It’s just about to get exciting.”

Tarn managed a slight smile. “Mrs. Zoric, you make it sound like it’s a good thing what’s happened.”

“Please, Nevenka will do—and my dear, it is. It’s your life—it’s always the best thing that ever happened.”

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Continuing a Long Discussion

Describe to yourself what the emotion love feels like. Go ahead, do it. Tell me how it feels to love your family. Tell me how it feels to love someone romantically.

We know how sadness and gladness and madness feel. I can explain it without an effort. But if I try to put love into the category of an emotion, it suddenly becomes impossible to do more than touch on it.

(For the sake of simplicity, unless otherwise specified, be it know I am dealing from now on mostly with the subcategory of romantic love as opposed to the overall range.)

Love is not an emotion. Love brings feelings with it, while it's easy and fun, and it makes us feel good. Emotions cannot produce other emotions. Sadness does not produce anger. The root of the sadness may lead to anger; the root of worry may lead to fear. Love creates emotions. It makes us happy, right? It makes us worry, right? Worry about the person we love, worry for his or her safety. When I hear people talk about how they love someone, how it feels, what it means, they often say that that person makes them happy. Happiness is not love, but it is an emotion that can come from love.

When I say that love is a fact and go on to explain what I mean by that, let me say that by saying it is a fact does not in any way restrict it to a cold, dispassionate set of legalistic actions and characteristics. It's not a bad thing for it to be a fact, guys. It's a good thing.

We often talk about certain people being "emotional" people. They have frequent emotional swings, portray emotions in intense ways, and speak of strong feelings with conviction. I know that because I'm one of those people. But when I go from feeling intense depression to feeling intense happiness, that doesn't change the way I "feel" about the person I love. I may not get a warm feeling in my chest when I think of the person I'm in love with, but I still love them, and therefore I feel loving toward them. Just because I don't have an intense emotional happiness when I do what I deeply believe is best for that person or what will make her happy doesn't mean I don't care for her. It just means the emotions aren't there.

Because of certain disabilities, certain people, due to an abnormality of the brain, cannot feel emotions the way other people feel them. But those people can, and do, love with an intensity as great or greater as the rest of us. We don't need to feel happy around someone, we don't need some accompanying emotion for love to be true. Often, I can become very introspective, depressed in a way, but no matter what kind of emotions are running around inside, that doesn't mean I love any differently. You'd better be happy love isn't an emotion, folks, because if it were, you and I would be in big trouble. People can lose their emotions at the drop of a hat. If it's real love, a thousand hats dropping wouldn't change it.

But what exactly does it mean that love is a fact? How is that different from a decision, an emotion, or a conjoining of the two? Well, it's very simple. Not really.

Love is not a separate entity. It is not this physical thing that a man and a woman hook up to in order to feel something for each other. But what does a "fact" mean? A fact is something that is true and objective. My bed is standing against the wall. I sleep in my bed. My lamp exists. I love you. Feelings are not facts; they are subjective to circumstance. My lamp needs power to turn on. If you unplug it, it will no longer be on, but it will not change the fact that it exists.

I can hear you objecting, "But what about saying, 'I am happy'? Isn't that a fact?" Let's take this slowly. You are happy. What you mean is, you feel happy. There's this positive emotion inside you for the moment. It is technically a fact that you "are" happy. But "I love you" is not subjective, it is not dependent on a belief, or a circumstance. My bed is against the wall. How I feel doesn't change the fact that my bed is still against the wall. I might be very angry that my bed is against the wall; it may upset me to no end. My bed will not move because of it.

When I say that love is a fact, I'm not taking away anything from what we all know love is, practically. We know what love looks like; we know how we feel because of love. But the important distinction between love being something far different from an emotion or a decision is that if love exists in that pocket, where you are and what you're doing doesn't change that. Love doesn't go away like happiness or sadness when we remove the cause of it. Like the electricity to power lamps, the electricity only helps the lamp perform its function; it doesn't make the lamp disappear without it.

So tell me, you say, why this even matters?

I suppose in one way, it doesn't. In one way, very few things in life matter. In a sense, most things don't have any purpose or reason. I won't get into the vanity of life because that's not what this is about. But here's what I think is the most important reason I'm postulating this point of view:

If you view love as an emotion, then if some day you wake up and don't feel that happy emotion, don't get that feeling inside that is one of the possible offshoots of love (I say possible because it's not necessary for love to exist), then you might be tempted to think you no longer love your person. If you view love as a decision, as if you can decide to be or act a certain way in order for love to be, or think that you can decide to feel a certain way, then you can reduce love to legalism, or lose patience with yourself when the feelings don't come.

Love doesn't depend on how we feel or decide to make ourselves feel. Once we let love get a root in our hearts, it won't just go away. True, like a plant, love must be watered and given sun and shade to live. And like a plant, with enough watering that love will produce, during the spring and summer months, fruit, those feelings we love, that passion of excitement. But that feeling, that passion, that is not love. If you reduce love to something you feel at any time, or something you decide and can create on a moment by moment basis, it will damage both your understanding and ability to delve deeper into love. Love has all the things we think it has: passion, excitement, happiness, joy, self-sacrifice-inducing capabilities, and much, much more. But those are things that love has. Those are not what love IS. Happiness and sadness come and go. If we let it, if we let love grow, love will be. Love will exist.

Don't jump all over me for this last bit crying, "Liberal! You think there's good in everyone and we just have to stop suppressing it!" because that's not what I'm saying. I'm the first to say that love is destroyed by the human race, and that we're the sorriest creatures on the face of the earth when it comes to being consistent in our words, actions, and desires. But the things we let grow in our lives, those weeds that kill our love plant, like bitterness, selfishness, these cancers are what kill the flowerings of love that we get when we meet someone who, for some inexplicable reason strikes our fancy. WIth God's grace, we have something more powerful than weed-killer; with Jesus' help, we can destroy the enemies of love in our lives, and whether it is through common grace or a spiritual renewal by the indwelling spirit of God, by killing the weeds that destroy the existence of love, this fact, this plant can live in our hearts, and by giving it the water and sunlight and shade of selflessness and thoughtfulness for others, it can transcend everything else we have ever seen and ever experienced. More than emotion; above a decision—if you let it, Love Is.

Monday, 13 September 2010

The Beginnings of a Long Discussion

More than likely, I'll never articulate this argument fully here, because there's little time for it. But from the things I've seen, learned, experienced, and felt over the past several years of my life, here are a few (hopefully) coherent thoughts, and arguments, that explain my position on Love. It is, what I like to call, "Mankind's Biggest Emotional Fraud: Love"

There are several camps on this issue. There is the first one, which says love is purely an emotion. The second argues it is both an emotion and something else. The third would cry that love is merely a decision. And then there's me, and a somewhat small minority, who call love a fact. Whatever other camps exist, I'm unaware of them. Feel free to educate me if I've left a large idea out.

I come from the camp, a camp of my own making though others may have reached the same conclusion separately, that states Love is a Fact. I want to point something out to you that I found intensely interesting, though I do not use it as an argument for my belief but merely complimentary. Think about what people consider emotions. Sad, glad, mad, angry, frustrated, worried, resentful, happy, emotional and the rest. These are adjectives, or verbs; "Don't be sad, be glad. Don't be mad or angry at me!" "I am frustrated. I am worried. I am resentful." I am love? Don't be love? Be love? Love is a noun. Subliminally, the language recognises it's not the same.

But once again, not an argument. I'll begin with some obvious things. While most will concede love is an emotion that far exceeds the others, few will separate it entirely from being an emotion as I do. We all might say, well, buddy, what am I feeling then, this being in love? And my response is quite rudimentary: a feeling and an emotion are not the same things. Quibbling? No, I don't think so. While most of our emotions bring feelings with them, emotions are far from the only feelings we get. We feel physical pain, we feel emotional pain; sometimes certain emotions bring physical feelings as well as emotional feelings. The feeling is a result of the emotion, not the actual emotion.

Now that we've established that feelings are not always the same things as emotions, we can get a little deeper. One of my biggest arguments is that of reason. When you are feeling sad or angry or happy and I happen to ask you why, whether it is immediately obvious to you (and it usually is) or whether it is something you must search briefly for, the end result is the same: I'm sad because my father passed away; I'm angry because someone pulled out in front of me in traffic; I'm happy because it's my birthday. Well. "I'm in love." "Why?" What are you going to say? Think about either the person you are in love with, or any person you love. Now tell me the exact reason for that love.

A man might say, "Well, my wife is an excellent cook." Or perhaps, "She's sexy in a nightgown," or, "She makes me laugh, she makes me cry, she makes me feel myself." Those are reasons to be attracted to someone. They are not reasons for love. I'll ask you this. What if your wife loses the ability of her hands in a car accident? What are you going to do, search and see if you can come up with another reason for love and if you can't you'll file for divorce, or perhaps even worse, not file for divorce but continue in a marital relationship in which you have absolutely not love for her? What if she, heaven forbid, gets a little more plump than perhaps you'd like, or gets old, or loses in some other way her "ability" to look sexy in a nightgown? To get extreme, and perhaps somewhat frighteningly so to some of you, what happens if your husband or wife or family member suffers a serious brain injury that alters his personality?

As humans, we somehow think it's more noble to love a character trait or a personality posture over physical attractiveness and talent. Is this actually true? When it comes down to it, you're still loving for a reason, and the most fundamental thing about love is that it never, ever, ever needs a reason. Being attracted to someone brings you in close proximity with them in which you begin to love. It does not provide the reason.

Maybe you don't agree with me that people don't just love without a reason. Well, a lot of time it's for carnal desires or prideful reasons that love is given; that's not actually love. Being sexually attracted to someone isn't loving them, because it's not being attracted to them for their own good. Loving someone because he or she is a movie star and has great talent and fame isn't a reason for love; it's a reason to get famous and be associated with talented people without doing anything. Selfish to the core. Think, oppositely, about family. How many of you were born into a family you didn't choose? How many of you have relatives that you didn't go out and pick? Well that's the thing. Obviously you didn't pick. God picked.

Consider, briefly, love for family. My immediate and extended family is very large. I love each and every member of them. Most of them are amazing, great people; they are all that way in some aspects. But not all of them have personalities that are compatible with mine, and unless we were family, we would neither associate with each other or even get along at all. But we do, often seamlessly. Because we're family and...wait for it...you love your family. The only true reason for love that I will accept as valid is love for someone or something for simply and only what it is, whatever it is. The last three words are very important. If I ever get married, I may love her for who she is; but if she is in an accident that alters her completely, or takes away her talents and abilities, my love isn't going to go away if I actually love her.

I will add to this that loving someone makes things they are or do attractive. It's wonderful to love your wife because she's a good cook; but you have to understand that if she weren't your wife and you didn't love her, you might not actually enjoy her cooking. Why do you? Love makes people lovely.

God is love. He is not in love, He is not "an enjoyer of love" (though he may be those things to some extent), He IS love. Love is a fact. You can decide to make that fact happen; you can even get some good feelings to go along with it depending on the person you love. You can sometimes make the decision without knowing it because it's so easy. But let me tell you this, when the going gets rough, if you don't make that decision every moment, you'll stop loving not because the emotion died, but because you weren't dedicated enough to keep it alive.

The only reason couples, married or not, break up, or even friends for that matter, is that one or the other is unwilling to make a commitment to love. It's only unwillingness that keeps people apart. Is this wrong? Well, no, of course not. Many people are unsuited to each other; this doesn't mean they couldn't be happy in life for decades. It does mean they may want to find someone whose dreams follow theirs a little more.

Have I made a convincing argument for love being a fact? Probably not for most of you. But I have to go eat supper, so I'll leave this dreadfully long post here and wonder if anyone ever reads it. Maybe soon I'll get to the rest of my arguments.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Peace

Staying awake to watch the sunrise,
Seeing things you would not believe
If you'd never opened up your eyes
And taken the time to watch God breathe.

Watching all the little flowers open to the sun,
Hearing the first early birds come out to catch the worms
See the earth, how gently glistening, wrapped in golden dawn
Touch the dew, and feel it tingling: peace, in God's terms.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Sleeping on the Moon

I'm so up high, I can't say why
But I'm longing to return
I'm just sitting here, my toes in the air
And I'm sleeping on the moon
Ohh, can you see that sunrise,
From the level of the sun?
Can you watch the clouds fly
From where you're the only one
Who can get a grip on reality
Cause everything big is as big as a pea
And the blue and green ball that's down below
Is just a ball that's turning real slow
Don't you get what I'm trying to say?
And yet still, I wouldn't have it any other waaaayyyy

Take a nap on the moon, make a wish on a star
And everything's close, and everything's far—away
It's big and it's empty, and there's room to breathe
But I'm getting kind of lonely, and the air isn't safe
Sometimes I wish that I'd never come
To the place where I'm here sleeping all alone
On the moon—on the moon—on the moo-oon

Ohh can't you see that far horizon?
Don't you long for the little place?
It's kind of big on this ball of cheese
With no one to share it with little me
And I thought at first that it'd be okay
But I've realised that it's more than that
Because, you see, it's really kind of free
To live in a place that's slavery
And no, I don't understand
How the problem and solution is man

Cause it's the crowds and the air and unpleasantness that makes our world home;
It's the streets and the noise and the city fairs that make it right for us
And if we're trying to leave, trying not to fit in
Eventually we'll all be shut-ins
And the world we thought would kill us
Is the one place we can go to save our
Sanity and humility, our desperate need for humanity
So come along, get off your moon
It's time to go home, back to green-and-blue
I think I've finally learned
Even love can sometimes burn
But it's the scars that make us whole
And the lies that we've all told
Are the need to be free from reality
When deep down inside, we all really know
That it's the very thing we need
So come along with meeeee-ee

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Things To Be Done

Lord Willing in a year I'll have:

1. Done Rosetta Stone Irish. Again.

2. Read twenty great novels.

3. Earned $40,000 in scholarships

4. Toured the East Coast selling November

5. Finished Well Done, Miss Skirrow

6. Written Bard's War I & II.

7. Canoed down a large river for a week, Huck Finning it.

8. Travelled to Maine twice, gone to Georgia three or four times, Virginia three or four, and attended two out of state conferences.

9. Taken my first (and maybe only) seminary class.

10. Read the assigned books for University.

11. Collected at least twenty or thirty new old books.

12. Gone to my first Celtic Thunder concert.

13. Turned 19.

14. An hour's worth of bagpipe music memorised.

15. Seen twenty good films at the cinema.

16. Performed in As You Like It

17. Joined a bagpipe band and competed in several competitions

18. Wrapped up my affairs in the US

19. and stayed happy and content with my situation, while longing for the good to come.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Driftwood in the Sand

Steps like petals tip-toeing on ice
Heading toward a distant place
There's a wind somewhere, toward the sea
I can hear it cursing, screaming at me
Footsteps walking along the strand,
Watching for the driftwood, buried in Sand.

Worn by time, used by age
In their little world, the sand's a stage
To work their little wonderments
The wind-carved driftwood tournaments
There's nothing so wondrous on or off land
As searching for driftwood, buried in Sand.

It's a world cruel for the victims
Of the land, sky, and sea
Howling, gnashing oceans
Torn, tattered, and free
It's a long life kept from the hand
Of the searcher of driftwood buried in Sand.

God is like the searcher,
Seeking our pieces out
He finds us, ocean, lake, or river
Our edges smooth and stout
He makes the driftwood, his is the Hand
We are the pieces of driftwood buried in Sand.

Now know that the father, the searcher on the strand
Is also the ocean, who carries in his hand
Our lives, our edges, our broken tips
From branches, planks, or sunken ships
Turning us all with his angelic band
Into the little driftwoods, stuck in the Sand.