Living in the Future, Singing in the Darkness

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about perception, perspective, stagnation of both, and changes in each. One image my thoughts return to is this:

“The Olympus Mons mountain on Mars is so tall and yet so gently sloped that, were you suited and supplied correctly, ascending it would allow you to walk most of the way to space. Mars has a big, puffy atmosphere, taller than ours, but there’s barely anything to it at that level. 30 Pascals of pressure, which is what we get in an industrial vacuum furnace here on Earth. You may as well be in space. Imagine that. Imagine a world where you could quite literally walk to space.”

–Warren Ellis,
How To See the Future

Walk into space. The closest I can get to imagining this is the descriptions of “the Wall” in Robert Silverberg’s Kingdoms of the Wall (a fantasy/sci-fi I highly recommend). And even those wouldn’t come close to what I’m sure must be the awesome reality of Mars’s Olympus Mons.

Unfortunately, as Ellis goes on to say, “manufactured normalcy would suggest that, if we were the Martians, we would find this completely dull within ten years and bitch about not being able to simply fart our way into space.”

There’s a lot of cynicism and snarkiness floating around nowadays. I can’t tell if it’s more intense than it used to be, or if we’re just more aware of it because we can dip into the negativity of a fellow human on the other side of the planet within 5 seconds of their posting their vitriolic rant on their blog. Ah well, at least it’s not a GeoCities page.

But with pessimism and sarcasm just a mouseclick away, I feel as though the negativity is ubiquitous. And it’s addictive. Sunshine unicorns glitter rainbows kittens cotton candy might be just as readily available for consumption as doom and gloom, but we humans tend to down the doom long before we reach for the rainbows.

I’ve written about this before, delving in to the creepy origins of the word “sarcasm.” So I won’t repeat myself here, not about that. But I’m still thinking all of those same thoughts about negativity and cynicism, and I’m thinking specifically of how they affect our perspective on the incredible world we live in today with all its amazing advances and advantages.

Just yesterday, I was reading an article on how women and men all over the world are using the internet and social media to fight back against rape culture. It’s tempting to gnash one’s teeth over the fact that rape culture ever existed and still exists. But instead of gnashing over that, what if we rejoiced at the brilliant and powerful ways in which right-minded people are combating it? If we didn’t live in such fabulous times, all of those beautiful, ringing, truth-filled voices would be silent and silenced.

In his article, Ellis points out a dozen? dozens of? advances in science and technology that most of us tend to take for granted and find boring — even though these things were beyond imagination not many years ago. Not many years ago, these things would’ve been considered “magic.” Not many years ago, the “magic” of uniting voices worldwide for a single would’ve been impossible.

Let’s open our eyes, is what I’m getting at. Let’s open our eyes and our hearts to see all the beauty and the brilliance and the boldness that awaken hope. It’s there for the seeing, and it’s there for the claiming if we want it.

My daughter is almost 9 months old. Sometimes, when we’re out somewhere, I catch her examining her feet. Her eyes are huge, and her mouth is wide open, and she gives me this look as if to say, “Mama! These feet aren’t just at home. These feet are HERE, too! Aren’t they amazing?!”

Yes, my love, they are amazing. And I am amazed to see the world with fresh, unjaded, untainted eyes, through you.

Dream. Think. Do. Marvel like a child at the intricacy and the mind-blowing beauty of this place we live in. And let your heart sing through every darkness. Other hearts will answer.

soapbubble

yellow flower

BringItClose

Hey. Woman of immense worth. This one’s for you.

Honey, stop comparing yourself to her. Stop looking at her and thinking about everything that’s ‘right’ with her and everything that’s ‘wrong’ with you. You are of immense worth in and of yourself. You, just as you are, right now. Your beauty is beyond compare, so hold your head high and walk tall. Chances are pretty good that she’s comparing herself to you. And if she is, she needs to hear you tell her that she is enough, too.

Glances That Fall Like Sunshine

Considering that thing I posted yesterday about sarcasm and its morbid relationship to the gouging, ripping, and consuming of flesh, I thought it well that I continue my thoughts in a more uplifting manner today.

NOTE: In comments on yesterday’s post, I assured Josh that not every one of my Blog-Every-Day August posts will be of such a weighty nature. I do intend to indulge in my regular fluff and silliness; it’s just that these weightier things are on my mind right now. Welcome to my thoughts. ; )

But I, yet again, digress.

Delve Greedily and Deep

A few days ago, I came across the following poem excerpt, and it stuck with me:

It is difficult
to get the news
from poems
yet men die miserably every day
for lack
of what is found there.

~William Carlos Williams
in “Asphodel, That Greeny Flower”
1955

Mayhap in the future, I’ll write a whole post about the value of reading poetry, the purpose of poetry, the craft of poetry, and cetera. Believe me, there’s an entire book, nay, an encyclopedia of blogposts one could write on the subject. (Don’t worry, I won’t subject you to that much nerdery. [Or will I? {The plot sickens.}]) But for now, I’ll simply say this:

When a poet utilizes her artistry — when he intentionally and intensively creates a work of beauty and craftsmanship — the resulting work will contain a deep meaning beyond most things that most of us encounter in daily life. These are not soundbytes, flippant remarks, or 140-character snippets. These are words, phrases, and images that must be probed and pondered before their true meaning comes to light.

Williams wrote these words between 1952 and 1955. I’m sure they were accurate then; they’re certainly accurate now. In a world where “the news” is equal to whatever spin a particular media wants us to believe, finding The Truth is next to impossible. And every day, we collectively die a little more on the inside because we can’t (READ: won’t) take the time to set the misery aside, breathe, and delve more deeply to find the true essence of our own reality.

Brighten the Corner Where You Are

As I think of seeking out and discovering The Truth via poetry, I think of two poems in particular. This first one is new to me. Its first stanza makes my heart soar and my spirit rejoice, because there’s so much hope and vibrance in it. The second stanza sobers me, because it’s a reminder of what I wrote yesterday: that I have a responsibility for the words I say.

We are all connected; I believe this without doubt; and since I believe it, I have a responsibility to act on it. One of the ways I must act on it is by “bringing the sunshine.”

But here, I’ll let George Eliot say it better than I can:

 

 

Count That Day Lost

If you sit down at set of sun
And count the acts that you have done,
And, counting, find
One self-denying deed, one word
That eased the heart of him who heard,
One glance most kind
That fell like sunshine where it went —
Then you may count that day well spent.

But if, through all the livelong day,
You’ve cheered no heart, by yea or nay —
If, through it all
You’ve nothing done that you can trace
That brought the sunshine to one face —
No act most small
That helped some soul and nothing cost —
Then count that day as worse than lost.

~ George Eliot

The second poem I’ve thought of is one of my ever-favorites:

What Is Success?

What is success?
To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people
and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics
and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty;
To find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better, whether by
a healthy child, a garden patch
or a redeemed social condition;
To know even one life has breathed
easier because you have lived;
This is to have succeeded.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

All of which I relate back to this:

“Brighten the corner where you are, and you will light the world.”
~ Dean Koontz

“You should be a light for other people. …Do to others what you would want them to do to you.”
~ Jesus of Nazareth

This Is Named “Rose,” Mr. Shakespeare

As many of you already know,
the husband and I recently moved into a cozy  
 

 
 

  

  

 
At the front of this  
  

  

  

 are several

 s.
 

  

  

  

 
And in one of these 
 

 s, to my utter delight and surprise,  

  

 
I have discovered a  

  

 

 It’s really nice to see such a beautiful little life flourishing in spite of the drought.

I am thankful. : )
 

  

  

 
P.S. Please forgive the iPhone photo washed-out-edness of the rose photo, as well as the unsightly purple in the house photo. We don’t really live in an encroaching purple fog; that was just my iPhone cover slipping inconveniently about. *sigh*

My Congress with a Fickle Woman

This post originally appeared yesterday on Unstressed Syllables. Maybe I’m a cheat to re-post it here — but I thought my Court Can subscribers might like a chance to read my latest adventure, too.

Near Chickasha, Oklahoma

In case you haven’t heard, we Oklahomans had some excitement this past Tuesday.

50 Humans, 5 Cats, 4 Dogs, and a Partridge in a Pear Tree*

Said excitement is how I ended up in the basement of the church building across the street, wondering if I’d still have a neighborhood when I emerged, much less an apartment.

It was stuffy; it was crowded. There were leggy preteen girls running up and down the basement corridor. The whole place was crawling with people I didn’t know. (And if you know me, you know that’s not my favorite type of social situation.)

When we arrived, a woman thrust a blanket-wrapped bundle into my friend Brian’s arms and said, “Will you hold him? I have to go to the bathroom, I’m so scared.” As she hurried away, we unwrapped the bundle. I thought it was going to be a baby. It was some kind of scrawny terrier with mournful eyes and long mustaches.

Ed, my husband, is an amateur radio operator (aka ham), so he glued his ear to his radio as we hunkered in the hallway. Brian retrieved a map of Oklahoma City, and we pored over it, looking for the county names coming in over the airwaves. Logan. Canadian. McClain. When I heard mention of the western part of Oklahoma County, I realized I was clenching my teeth.

We’re in Oklahoma County.

10 for 10 — But I Can’t Count on It

Since Ed and I moved here three-and-a-half years ago, we’ve had a tornado scare every spring. And without fail, every time there’s a tornado headed our way, it lifts somewhere west of us and passes us by.

The same thing happened on Tuesday, May 24, 2011. We huddled in that basement for an hour, while the temperature rose, the humidity increased, and the dander of unfamiliar pets got my sinuses draining. (Yum.) A tornado touched down to the south (and I said a silent prayer for Moore and Norman). My heart ached as the radio told us of massive destruction in Piedmont to the north.

But the tornado coming up from Chickasha (and it might be the one in the picture above; I don’t know) never reached us. I don’t know if it blew itself out, or if it’s the one that touched down to the south. Either way, we got an “all-clear” of sorts. We gathered up our two terrified cats and went home. After the tornado sirens, the near-silence was a blaring siren all by itself.

Once again, nature’s devastation passed us by. There’s a lake less than a mile west of our area, so maybe the temperature change around the lake has something to do with it. I don’t know. I only know that so far, every time a tornado has headed straight for us, it has spared us.

But Mother Nature’s a capricious lady. I know I can’t trust her. She’s beautiful, always. Even in the midst of tornadic destruction, I recognize the raw beauty in that unimaginable power. But I’ll watch her from a distance, thank you. If she glances in my direction, I’m taking cover.

Don’t look at me, Mother Nature. I’m just a bug, I promise — never worthy of your closer attentions.

Moral of the Story

What does all of this have to do with writing? Nothing, really.

Oh, you can draw conclusions, if you like, about the application of fear and adventure to the writing process. “Remember these emotions,” I might tell myself. “Lean on them when your characters are in trouble.”

Or, I could advise us all to observe people during a crisis and use those observations for character development. Really, I gleaned something from Tueday’s adventure about every part of the writing process.

But today, I’m not thinking about any of that. I’m thinking about the families who lost loved ones. I’m thinking about the people in Piedmont whose homes now resemble piles of broken matchsticks. I’m thinking of the devastation in Joplin, Missouri (they got hit far worse on Sunday night).

I’m thinking about how control is an illusion. I’m thinking about how I’m not the one in charge, and I never will be.

______________________

*Some assembly required.

I Wrote This Because You Are Beautiful

Beauty and Wonder

I want to tell you something important.

Finding the right words won’t be easy. I always have trouble communicating what’s most important to me. But I’ll do my best.

I want to tell you that you’re amazing.

You’ve been through a lot. You’ve come through what the world would define as hell. And yet, you’re still here.

Not only are you still here, but you’ve gone beyond simple existence, and you’re living. You’re interweaving your life with others’. Do you realize how much courage that takes? It’s simple enough to do — but it would’ve been far simpler to retreat into mere existence and shun every opportunity of connection.

You have a tremendous amount of courage.

You also have a raw passion hidden somewhere deep inside you. Why have you hidden it? I can’t answer that. But the moment I asked the “why,” you felt at least the hint of an answer resonating in your spirit. I can’t answer your “why” — but you can.

You have this fiery energy built up inside of you, just waiting for you to release it. The prospect frightens you, because you already suspect just how much passionate energy is actually there. And you don’t know what it would do if you let it out.

But you, love, were created for passion. You were created with talent, imbued with skill, and gifted with every resource you need to channel and use that passionate energy. You were created to be something that no other person in this world is, has been, or ever will be.

You are talented. You are skilled. You are gifted.

You are beautiful.

You are valuable. You are worth every bit of talent, skill, and beauty that has been poured into you. You are worth taking risks for. You are worth sacrificing for.

You deserve not to stand in your own way.

You are worthy of eliminating the habits that are holding you back. I don’t know what those habits are — but when you read the phrase “habits that are holding you back,” something resonated in your spirit again. You know which of your habits are dampening your passion.

You deserve to ignore the people in your life who belittle you. You deserve to ignore the people in your life who refuse to encourage you. You deserve to ignore the people in your life who tell you — through their words, attitudes, or actions — that you can’t possibly achieve anything beyond the average. Or even the mediocre.

You deserve to treat yourself better than those people treat you. You deserve to treat yourself better than those people treat themselves.

You deserve to surround yourself with people who will not only support you, but also lift you up.

You deserve not to be subject to fear. And the wonderful news is that you aren’t subject to fear.

You do not have to let fear rule over you. You do not have to let fear rule you.

You don’t have to be afraid of what might happen if you released your pent-up passionate energy. You don’t have to be afraid of following the path upon which your natural talents lead you.

You don’t have to be afraid of saying no to the people who try to tear you down. You don’t have to be afraid of saying yes to the people who want to build you up.

You don’t have to be afraid.

Don’t be afraid.

You are beautiful, and you are possessed of tremendous courage.

You are beautiful, and you are possessed of tremendous courage.

You are beautiful, and you are possessed of tremendous courage.

You are worthy of honoring your gifts.

You are worthy of finding your purpose and following it with that pent-up, consuming passion.

You were created to pursue that passionate purpose with all the talents, gifts, and resources at your disposal.

You are meant for wonder.

Go out and do what only you were made to do.