Thursday, April 30, 2009

why you need an anchor.

We've got to find ways to anchor ourselves.

There are too few moments of clarity. There are too many distractions. And the world is Las Vegas at midnight. Everyone weary and tired from their travels but the lights and the drink and the skin and the $.99 lobster buffet are much too intoxicating.

Ideally, we'd all be able to go back to a simpler time. But we don't live in simple times and there is no way to get back. We must accept things as they are, try to understand, and make change from this spot.

If we forget what really matters, what is really going on, then we'll be lost in the sea of lights and sensuality.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

the steps I took...

These past couple days I have been blessed to witness the birth of change. I have seen a small group of dedicated students multiply into hundreds of passionate crusaders. I have seen those crusaders take to their message to the nation without remorse, without fear, without baggage. I have witnessed them simply go, bearing nothing but a message on their breath and their hearts on their sleeves. God has moved in this place. It's holy.

And I cannot help but be transformed by that. In fact, a life of advocacy seems to be the only life that makes sense to me now. It's all over the Bible and splayed across the walls of my heart. But there's something more going on here. This has lead me to this place like a shard of a pot leads an archaeologist to a dig site. That material culture may give way to something much more intriguing and telling, but you've got to dig to figure it out.

I have always been afraid of being discovered as a fraud. Looking at my history, I should have become someone else. It's as if I've implanted a reset button in my head, so as soon as I do anything I don't want to acknowledge as myself, I hit it and we're good to go. I do things, think things, want things that I don't want other people to know about. Truth is, though, all those skeletons I want to stay hidden away are still me, and I've got to deal with them.

But in dealing with them, I can't condemn myself. Because if I was truly condemned, I wouldn't be where I'm at right now. I have been delivered like Samson, Solomon, David, and Adam. They were flawed and messed up royally, but they still had a place. They were still made whole.

So the pendulum can swing between me ignoring that which I don't want to accept as myself and being a complete downer about how no one really knows how I really am because I hide it. Both mentalities get me nowhere and they are both false.

Truth is, I have done and still do things that I'm not proud of. But they are me. I'm not as innocent as I'd like to paint. I'm not as dark as I feel I should be. I am certainly not very good on my own, or else I wouldn't be in this pickle. But there is more truth about me hidden in that which I have ignored than there is in the me I've been trying to create since I met Lauren Stevens (aka Fish Lips, she was one of the major starting points of all of this).

So these steps I've taken have lead me here, and I have been redeemed by my Redeemer. But I need to accept myself and all that I've done. Let myself back in the house like the prodigal son, regardless of how I've dirtied myself. I've got to come home, all of me, and that's where I've got to begin laying the groundwork for my future. Not on top of my neglected self, because that past will always stir unless I put it to sleep, peacefully.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


There's a play I think you all should read. It is called The Night of the Iguana by Tennessee Williams. It's about this ex-minister named Shannon, who was defrocked for having an inappropriate relationship with a young Sunday school teacher, who becomes a tour guide. He is taking a women's choir from Texas on a tour when a seventeen-year-old girl begins to come on to him. Her latent lesbian chaperone becomes enraged and threatens to have him fired. In a panic, Shannon flees with the tour bus to an old hotel in Mexico run by his friend Fred and his wife Maxine. Upon arrival, he learns that Fred is dead and Maxine runs the hotel herself. In a panic, he succumbs to his desires for skin and alcohol. That is, until Hannah and her grandfather arrive. They are traveling artists, she a painter, he a poet. They have no money, but Shannon convinces Maxine to give them a room. All of these people use each other in the heat of one Mexico night to heal themselves and each other.

It's called the Night of the Iguana because Shannon feels like the pet iguana Maxine's pool boys have on a leash. The end of his rope.

The heat does that to people. Brings them to the end of their ropes. They are more rash, more volatile. Because, who can be comfortable in the heat? Good thing it isn't about comfort.

It's days like this that are wake up calls to who we really are. We may think we want to be nicer to people. Work out more. Eat less. Work harder. But turn up the global thermostat a bit, and we all succumb to our lesser (or sometimes greater) evils.

These days are wake up calls! Who you are today, for all the lofty schemes you've invented for yourself, is who you most likely will be tomorrow. Unless you intervene. But you've got to be aware.

The heat isn't so bad. Take off your shirt. Open your window. Turn on a fan.

It's gonna rain Saturday.

Monday, April 20, 2009

don't forget.

this heat makes you forget it's ever been cold. I look in my closet and I wonder why I have so many jackets, so many scarves and sweaters. it is so hot right now, I'm tempted to throw them all away, the thought of wearing them makes me even hotter. but it's supposed to rain on saturday, so that'd be silly.

the things we forget, even for a split second, will come back to hurt us.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

this house is open...for awesome.

Never before have we been more pioneer. More sojourner. The Great West is our home. Out past the dense and dangerous, that's where we belong. Further up and further in to Big Rock Candy Mountain! To El Dorado! To the end of the world, where the water washes off the earth like juice from a table.


The following things are, or would be, awesome:

On my TV sits Floxy. Floxy is a little sheep that came in my Easter basket. Floxy had a friend, a bobble-headed chick that looks like a duck. I have named him Eugene. They are both adorable.

If I went to Borders, I'd like to look for a book. While looking for this book, I'd like to notice that someone else was also looking for a book in the same vicinity. Once I found my book, I'd realize we were both looking for the same book, and there is only one. Cue Rom-Com music and the subsequent video montage of flirtation and sparks.

Giving tours for Open House is like swimming in cool water on a warm day with a bunch of people who really want to swim too.

Friends that are from home.

Friends that are not at home.

Esquire's "How to be a Man" .

Hebrews 11.

Crazy Love.

Warm showers with nothing to do.

Reading a good book with nothing to do.

Not thinking about making money.

My dad being on Twitter.

Thinking about being a gypsy over a summer with Nikol!

Aaron out.

Monday, April 13, 2009

sparrows, nukes for your mind, and out of body experiences, daily!

the sparrow knows its tune

the gypsies didn't wear name tags to the orientation so we couldn't figure out who they were.

and we were confused because they all looked the same, floating in and out of the woodwork,

skin tatted, clothes in tatters: they were sparrows. More feathers than hair. Less bone, more air.

i would have flown away with them but my wallet was too heavy with credit cards and ticket stubs.

i've had this dream of becoming kerouac. making the road my home. the night sky my father, the earth my mother.

i've thought, "maybe i could turn the soil, plant some seeds and" but money burrows into my pocket

and my pants turn to fire.

which shoulder can i listen to? is it heads or is it tails because those sparrows know who they are. their name is sparrow. they have feathers and bones and wings like paper. while i scrap for change to make a phone call

they turn to each other and speak softly.

the land provides if it's worked. society's trash can sustain. and while the polar bears sink and wall street weeps,

the sparrow still knows its tune. seems like it was made to sing. to flit. to be a joy. so i decided to empty my pockets

i may not take to the open road but i'll whistle the couple tunes i know. my mother taught them to me. my father listened. i improvised the second verse and smiled.


Sometimes, we just need to nuke our minds. Not a microwave, though. I'm talking a real, glorious (excuse the coming vulgarity) mind fuck. Because I know there is so much that's off in the way I perceive things everyday. Your beliefs should help you not cause you anxiety. Worldliness isn't as simple as enjoying indian tea or australian candy.

And saying you are radical isn't enough. If you really are radical, there is no concept of radicalism. you just are and everything is game.

Day in and day out, let's do something that pushes ourselves out of ourselves, yeah?

It's bitter work, but there's war in my blood!

Monday, April 6, 2009

on a similar darjeeling track...

I think I understand now what it means to be worldly. Not to just enjoy things and people from all over the world, but maybe it means to understand the ultimate differences that span across every reach of humanity. To see those differences, acknowledge them, and not merely tolerate them, but embrace them in the fullness of their meaning and provision of experience.

Reminds me, ever so slightly, of Dr. Humps and Henry David Thoreau. Out of nostalgia, here's the quote from Junior year. Please try to contain your joy, excitement, and wonderment (jk have at it ;)). Over and out!

"I went to the woods to because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary, I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience..." Henry David Thoreau

my trip on the darjeeling limited (interactive version)

Wes Anderson's The Darjeeling Limited received some flack its ending, in which the three brothers, portrayed by Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzman, and Adrien Brody, carrying their father's baggage (literally at this point) rush to catch a train already in motion. Realizing they won't make it if they keep up the way they're going, they drop the bags as time slows, running faster and jumping aboard the train just in time. Many critics thought it was much too obvious a metaphor for the talented auteur to employ, but I think that sometimes, the simplest, most obvious metaphors are the ones we need to delve the deepest into.

In ANTH 201 (Cultural Anthropology) we've tossed around the two-word term "cultural baggage" which essentially refers to the stuff we know about our culture, the rules, the norms and such. No one can escape culture, and it has been proven that as humans, we need some semblance of culture from birth in order to develop into a completely capable human being. Now obviously we can't choose where we're born or which culture we're born into, but even if we could choose, how would you make your choice? Think about that for a hot minute.

When I try to choose, I can't help but make my decision based upon what I know about our American culture and I'm sure the same happened for you. All that stuff that went into making that hypothetical decision is cultural baggage, and you can't shake it.

So if we can't shake it, can we shape it? As humans we can shape our culture as much as it shapes us, even though it's definitely more difficult to do. See any counter-cultural revolution going on these days. It takes a lot of persuasion to change the masses.

All cultural baggage aside, we all also have a lot of emotional baggage we bring with us everywhere we go, stemming back all the way to our childhood. All of this forms how we respond to the society around us and inevitably leads us to an age old question:

Who am I?

With all this knowledge about baggage and culture, how are we ever to discover who we actually are? Would we be the same if we were raised in a pagan African tribe? Would you still believe what you believe if you were born in Bolivia? Sudan? Berlin?

Chances are you wouldn't and if you think you do, you'll find it impossible to make that judgement objectively.

So what does that make us? If different cultures teach us to value different things, how can we know what we ourselves truly value? I don't believe we are simply awash in a see of forces without a chance to swim. I believe that as humans we innately have some agency, the problem arises in trying to find where it is.

On a personal level, I've been seeing a life coach named Roland at the behest of my parents (they want to show me that it's normal and not something to be ashamed of, which it's not :)) . We've been doing a lot of good work and I feel as if I've come along way from when I first started meeting with him. But I've been reaching snags these past couple weeks, and I believe I've finally reached the end of the thread.

My response to the things around me isn't one that's getting me where I want to go. So Roland has asked me to dig deeper, to excavate and take my thinking to a lower place to figure out what's really going on. I see now that for all my progress, I've not been able to rid myself of all the perceptions that led me to feel stuck and hopeless about a lot of things in my life.

The question I've been asking myself is who am I and what do I value, hoping that will lead me down the right path. While asking myself what I believe is entirely valid and necessary, it isn't the question I need to be asking myself in order to get unstuck. My beliefs should aid me, not hinder me. What I should be asking is:

Why do I see things the way I do?

And, how does how I see things affect my way of being?

Truth be told, that is a much more fruitful question to be asking and a much more useful vein to be exploring. I can't shake my culture, nor do I really want to. But there are many ways to respond to culture and society, just so happen the way I have been responding isn't in line with what I believe.

My past doesn't really haunt me. If anything, I'm just incredibly interested in figuring out how I was before I experienced all that has caused me to behave and respond the way I do today. I feel like a lot of answers are there.

So you see, I'm chasing my own Darjeeling Limited. Weighed down with baggage, hoping I'll catch my train in time. Doesn't seem like such a silly, obvious metaphor to me. While I know what it means, I'm still wondering, what does it really mean?

And the answers don't come easy, but I believe that I'll get there eventually. It starts today. I can start fleshing myself out right now because now is all I have. As far as I can see it right now, that's where my agency is. Here and now.

So let's do what little we can as much as we can. We humans were made for it.

I've talked a lot about myself here, but I'm curious, what do you think? Does any of this resonate with you? I'd love to hear about it and encourage you on your journey, we weren't meant to take it alone. So let 'er rip, I'm all ears!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

adventures in consumerism

As I walked to the main hall to compose this lovely little note, my mind flitted over the purchases I made at UO today. My mom gave me some money this weekend and told me I should be able to go out and have fun, not worrying about money, so "go forth and shop!" she said...essentially. I didn't go too crazy, just a couple t-shirts, a vest, and a blue button up. About $108 overall.

I always have little anxiety attacks when I go shopping. I'm never sure if I'll need what I'm buying. I err on the side of thinking I can survive without it. Then I think I of the people who don't get to worry about what to add to their closet. I figure I should count my blessings.

So I buy, and wear, and reevaluate once I get home. And by reevaluate, I mean scouring through my closet looking for things to get rid of in order to prevent it from overflowing and my mind from dying of guilt. I usually come up with a couple things to ditch, but the whole process is very tiring.

So if you remember, I was thinking all this on my way down to the main. There's this little slope I was stepping down, and amidst the previous thoughts, I thought it'd be very bad if I fell. Sure enough, down I go, ripping a hole in my $44.50 chinos and scuffing my $94 boots.

I love cosmic irony.

My conclusion? It's perfectly natural to want to look your best, but sometimes the clothes you have are enough to make that happen. Wearing things in a different way can be just as good as buying new clothes. But when you do decide to buy new clothes, don't buy it unless you're okay with it being beaten up in some way. Clothes shouldn't be delicate anyway. While we may think we should hoard up our material treasures to ensure they are always looking their best, none of it has anything to do with who we really are. So wear the clothes, don't let them wear you.

Now if you'll excuse me, I believe my leg is bleeding profusely. Time for some new pants :)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

humanity is alright with me.

I like being human because no matter what happens, there is always redemption. Grace rarely trails far behind any one endeavor, thought it may be hard to find. Granted, redemption may come at a high price, like say, walking in righteousness or losing an eye, it is always there if you want it bad enough.

It's all about perceptions, really. The old "glass-half-full-or-half-empty" saying really is true. If it's half empty, there is lament and regret. If it's half full, there is joy and preparation. In the end, we're only worth as much as we believe we are, regardless of our actual price.

So give me sympathy. Give all of us some sympathy, because there is no time to stop and ruminate verbosely. We need life. We need action. And we'll only get it if we own our lives and think it's worth something in the open market.

Most days, I live like I am a flickering flame about to go out. I'm no flame, though. I am an ocean, torrential and expansive.

We all are really. Humanity is funny like that.

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