Friday, September 28, 2007

God, the Tao, and me

I just finished reading the Tao Te Ching in its entirety for the first time. I'm still not sure I understand the concept of the Tao (and perhaps its essence lies in its elusiveness?), but I think the poetry is beautifully revelatory. Chapter eleven especially resonated with me:

Thirty spokes share the wheel's hub;
It is the center hole that makes it useful.
Shape clay into a vessel;
It is the space within that makes it useful.
Cut doors and windows for a room;
It is the holes which make it useful.

Therefore profit comes from what is there;
Usefulness comes from what is not there.

How very true, even for my Western, Christian self. God uses me not in spite of, but because of my insufficiencies--my open spaces, my holes. For it is only when I acknowledge the extent of my inability, my "what is not there," that I can truly and fully invoke the power of the Holy Spirit, who can do all things. If I rely on "what is there"--on what I can do by myself--I may profit, but I will not be useful. The climax of my Graves' disease story was the moment of surrender--the "I can't." It was the beginning of the long healing process that brought me to this point, where I am able, again, to be a offering... used.

"...power is made perfect in weakness.... For when I am weak, then I am strong." (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

Thank you, Lord, for making me inadequate.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Monday, September 17, 2007

waiting for peace

nerves tingling
I wait impatiently
for peace

Sunday, September 16, 2007

one autumnal face

No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace
as I have seen in one autumnal face
(John Donne)

Autumnal is such a good word. And it's true--fall is in the air. I love it. In celebration, a few of my favortite fall photos:

Friday, September 14, 2007

to create

to create is to
be freely poured out
so that love rises up
and shines

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

insane and lovely

all I want is
one insane and lovely man

in repair

So... life. An outline seems like a good idea.

I. Weekend Life

A. Labor Day Weekend. It was unexpectedly good. On Saturday, Mom and I went to Mamaw's to visit with some Perry relatives who were in town, some of whom I hadn't seen in a long while. It was much better than my other recent interactions with visiting family members who seemed not to know what to say to me. My aunt Helen and I had a pretty long discussion about academia, her Ph.D. program, the grad school application process, etc. It was refreshing to be addressed as an intelligent, competent, ambitious individual. I also had a great deal of fun playing with my cousin Kibbey's two daughters, Emma and Cecilia as well as my other cousin Angela's daughter, Kate. We all colored, played with Play-Doh, and the like. It was really great. I don't get to spend time with kids very much, and I think my soul needed it. I was especially pleased that Emma (who is 8) greatly enjoyed the Mad Libs we brought along--and she was very well-versed in the parts of speech, so we bonded over our love of language. :) Kindred spirits we are. It is just occurring to me that that's something I really haven't written much about in here, strangely enough. So I'll do it now. :) I'm a bit obsessed with grammar (and punctuation and spelling) and delight in taking photos of errors. If my grammar love can be regarded as an obsession, this photo-taking is the corresponding compulsion, designed to reduce the anxiety that errors cause me. (How's that for being a grammar nerd and a psychology nerd all in the same sentence?! ;)) Here are a few of my favorites:

To see my whole collection, go to my album on Facebook.

My brother also came home for the weekend, and it was good to have him around as always. And he gave me my second stick-shift driving lesson, which was enjoyable. He's a good (and patient) teacher, so perhaps in the near future I'll be able to drive the Z3 we got this summer... I mean somewhere other than in a parking lot. ;)

B. Last Weekend. Also good. I went to Blacksburg for the concert for Virginia Tech with Alex (not my brother... my friend's brother-in-law, actually). It was really fun. Both John Mayer and Dave Matthews were utterly fantastic, and the evening was a blast. On my drive there, I listened to all four John Mayer cds in chronological order, and it was much like re-living the last 6 years of my life. "No Such Thing" came out my senior year of high school, when I did, in fact, desperately want to "run through the halls of my high school" and "scream at the top of my lungs." And now, having been through what I've been through in the last year and a half or so, I'm somewhere between a big screwed-up mess and a totally healthy and content person: "It’s taken so long / I could be wrong / I could be ready / Oh, but if I take my heart’s advice / I should assume it’s still unsteady / I am in repair." And in between, so much love, loss, faith, doubt, confusion, hope, fear, adventure. And all along, John Mayer was the soundtrack. I love music.

On my way from Blacksburg/Radford to Emory, I stopped for some quality Dallas time, which always makes my heart happy. I'm so proud of him on so many levels.

Then to Emory, my very favorite place in all the world. I was half-dreading this visit though, knowing it was going to be bittersweet, being my first Emory visit since Katie and Jenny (and some other people, obviously) graduated. It's very strange being so far removed from what's going on there, and that really didn't happen until this year. Last year, my best friends were still there, I was there a lot, I had an automatic place to stay where I could randomly show up (and did once, accidentally). I still felt very much a part of the community. But now I'm really gone. Saturday afternoon, I was sitting on the front porch of the house where I was staying, and I saw an unfamiliar person walking down the street. This struck me as odd, as if there was no possible way that there could be an Emory student I don't recognize. Then it occurred to me that half the students are people I don't know, who don't know me. This is obvious and natural, I realize, but it was a striking realization. And that probably makes me sound like a loser who really needs to move on with her life, but I really don't care. So much of my heart resides among those hills. So regardless of the weirdness (some expected, some not), it was good to be in that place. I got to see lots of beautiful Emory faces. So many people made me feel so welcome. And loved. I am so blessed.

II. Week Life. Not as good. I still haven't started my job, which is frustrating. I keep calling and leaving various sorts of messages, and my cousin/future boss hasn't called me back. It's strange, because she acted as if she actually needed me to work, even though she is also doing this as a favor to me, I guess. I hope I'll hear something this week. I don't know of anywhere else I could get a job that would be at all relevant.

In terms of my health, my energy level is a bit better, I think, but otherwise, things are the same. I'm feeling fine. I very rarely get muscle cramps, and when I do, they go away really quickly. I'm not gaining weight anymore, but I'm not losing it, either. I'm still working out, but I'm getting bored with my ballet workout, so I think I need to find something else to do. My Granny keeps telling me I should start doing Weight Watchers. I'm not excited about that, but I probably should give it a shot. I really do need/want to lose 20 pounds.

I'm still playing the piano some every day, and enjoying it a lot. I've increased my repertoire quite a bit and am slightly less pathetic.

I think I've decided that I'm not going back to Radford. (I already said that once, I realize.) I think that if I went back, every assignment (in the classes I had last semester) would have to be a reminder of how sick/miserable I was last time I tried to do it. And couldn't. And how I made myself sicker/more miserable in the process. And while I know that now, I can do it, I don't want to have to be faced with such specific, tangible reminders of my past failures. I don't think I deserve that. One person in particular is trying with much (adorable) persistence to convince me to go back, and I really appreciate the sentiment and effort, but my mind is made up. I think. So I'm resuming my doctoral program search and preparing for the application process. I'm feeling a huge amount of overwhelmed dread, but with just the slightest twinge of hopeful excitement.

I've been uncharacteristically fickle lately--my feelings (yes, about one thing in particular) wavering, unsteady. I'm trying not to overanalyze, which, as you might imagine, is quite difficult for me. I need to stop thinking so much, chill out, take it one day at a time. Or maybe ten minutes at a time:

Will you share your life with me
For the next ten minutes?
For the next ten minutes
We can handle that
We could watch the waves
We could watch the sky
Or just sit and wait
As the time ticks by
And if we make it till then
Can I ask you again
For another ten?
-The Last Five Years

Monday, September 10, 2007

playing dress-up

Still pretending to be an artist. Update on my actual life later.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Call me Ishmael.

A few weeks ago, I started writing an entry about the (many) books I've read since I last posted anything book-related. I never finished it, and the list of books is only getting longer, so I decided to go ahead and post a few thoughts about book #1, Daniel Quinn's Ishmael (no, not Moby Dick.)

It was great. I had heard a lot about the book from various people who read it for school, so I expected a lot, but still wasn't disappointed. Being excessively introspective as I am, I too often get so wrapped up in all the things happening within me that I fail to think about the grand scheme of things--the big picture. This book served as a powerful antidote to my selfishness. One thing I'd never given much thought to:

"At present there are five and a half billion of you here, and, though millions of you are starving, you're producing enough food to feed six billion. And because you're producing enough food to feed six billion, it's a biological certainty that in three of four years there will be six billion of you. By that time, however, (even though millions of you will still be starving), you'll be producing enough food for six and a half billion--which means that in another three of four years there will be six and a half billion...In order to halt this process, you must face the fact that increasing food production doesn't feed your hungry, it only fuels your population explosion."

This flaw in logic reminded me of a thought I had when I visited the US Bureau of Engraving and Printing in DC when I was in sixth grade. I was quite fascinated with watching the way money is printed. Realizing that money is something that people literally make with paper and ink, I thought, why, then, don't they just make more of it so that everyone will have enough? I eyed a man who was standing (behind the glass) at the end of a conveyor belt and tried to telepathically send him a command to print off some extra dollar bills and go hand them to all the homeless people outside. I think I had a vague sense, even then, that this act wouldn't actually eliminate poverty, but I lacked the economic vocabulary (and probably still do, much to the chagrin of my economics-major friend, Bethany) to determine just why not. It seemed so simple. But, of course, it wasn't. And yet, we're using the same logic in our attempt to elimiate world hunger. Though very troubling, I found this parallel rather enlightening.

I was also very interested in the book's discussion of the creation of the world in Genesis, partly because it was consistent with my personal (seemingly unpopular) view that Adam and Eve do not dichotomously represent man and woman in the neat and orderly way that seems to be widely accepted. I have always thought it important that the Hebrew words for Adam and Eve do not mean "man" and "woman, but, rather, "human" and "life," respectively, and Quinn, using these definitions, brings to light an eerily sensible etiology not only of the human race, but of modern Western culture. It's brilliant. I could say much more about this book, but I'll stop before I start quoting entire chapters. Let me just say that if you haven't read it, you should: I promise you'll enjoy yourself and learn a little (or big) something.

Monday, September 3, 2007

wild stallion

moved by the mountains
I was thinking like a wild stallion
away from home

Sunday, September 2, 2007

hazy grey things

I have hazy grey things
wrapped in my shadow

I am not falling in love
and I wonder why