Rising Above the Oooh

I’ve always considered myself someone who likes to travel. I mean, it makes you sound so accomplished.

“What do you like to do?”
“I’m a writer, and a big reader. I also love to travel.”
“Really! Where have you been?”
“I’ve been to Europe,” *shrug*.
“Oooh.”

I live for the Admiring Oooh.

In all seriousness, I really do enjoy travel, not just for the Admiring Oooh. Visiting new places and seeing life done in different ways has always fascinated me. It’s wonderful to think that while you’re at home doing whatever you do, all these people are here, miles and miles away, doing what they do. It doesn’t stop and start when you arrive, it happens simultaneously with your own timeline. And for a moment, you get to step into a story not your own, and watch it, and sometimes even write some of it.

However, as I’ve gotten older (and this is really sad because I’m not even that old), I’ve found that I have to remind myself how much I love traveling, because more often than not it really stresses me out. New places are unfamiliar, full of a million unknowns, and I hate unknowns. Also I have a sensitive stomach that gets ill easily. Also I need to have enough sleep, and who knows if this will happen? Also I sunburn, literally, like hell. Also I am easily dehydrated. Where’s the closest water fountain? I pull away from my house, my place, with all my things in it, and see it looking so forlorn and abandoned, and I want to run back and cancel everything.

(And this is just going to visit my parents.)

I’ve learned that some things are worth hacking through a slew of fears for. I’ve done it before, and I regret it when I don’t. I want to cling to home, to peace, to the familiar, but not always for noble reasons. Often, very often, I cling to these things out of fear, thinking that without them I will no longer be myself. I forget that I am becoming evermore myself because of the times I travel, the times I encounter unknowns, the times I uproot myself now for better roots later. I would rather be that sort of person than to spare my house’s feelings.

I really do want to be the sort of person who travels, and not just for the Admiring Oooh.

 

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A Tourist

 

Yesterday the Russian and I were tourists.

We had breakfast at a random-but-delicious Greek diner in Nashville, then we went to the Parthenon. I’ve been there before, back when I lived in Tennessee for a few months. So for me, it felt less like touristing than it did being a local and showing a newbie the local sights. This, of course, in inaccurate, but it was nice to pretend.

The Russian isn’t really one for the arts, but he did marry a woman with an English degree, so he’s good at dipping his toes in. We milled around the art gallery under the Parthenon, looked at the collection of paintings based on Tennessee state symbols, and pondered how much of a hole buying two $7500 paintings would put us in. His favorite was a closeup of a ladybug on a leaf. Mine was a detail of juniper berries. Neither of us would compromise, so $15000 in debt it is.

It was a gorgeous warm, sunny day, the kind we probably won’t get in Pennsylvania until our annual February thaw. The place was full of people from everywhere, a mix of languages and dialects.

Hearing the Southern accent still makes me do a double take; I’m so unused to it, and I was even when I lived here. It reminds me that even though I consider Nashville an adopted city, even though I can get around without directions and show my husband the local sights, I still prefer a rugged Pittsburgh accent to a Southern one, a mess of damp hills to a dry plain of flatness, pierogis and sauerkraut to barbecue.

Despite everything, I’m still a tourist.

For the Love of Old Things

Have you ever recognized the insane number of little thoughts that flit through your head each day? The opinions you form, the emotions you feel, the jokes you tell yourself? Sometimes my mind is like a pinball machine, bouncing from subject to subject (or, more accurately, like a person walking through the living room in the dark, bumping from piece of furniture to piece of furniture. Not that this has ever happened).

My mind makes these frantic trips around the space that is my brain and creates its own culture, its own environment, inside my head. It sounds weird to say it this way, but I think it’s true for us all. We all have roads our minds travel over and over, sometimes deepening them into ruts. We all have trains our minds ride for a while before getting off to ride the next one. Sometimes we ride one train too long or too often and we have to exit quickly and never buy another ticket…

The truth is, there are thoughts we think that no one else will ever know about, not only because it would be annoying as hell for us to tell everything we think, but also because we ourselves aren’t always aware of what the mind entertains itself with. These thoughts are lost, sloughing off with each day, never preserved, never contained. Of course, they must be in the brain somewhere, and sometimes a remembered thought hits us suddenly years down the road.

But so much of our internal lives are never remembered by the world, and that’s terrifying to me.

My best friend teases me for liking “old things,” antiques and dried flowers and doilies. One time I asked her opinion of my vintage-style home decorating, and then… I never asked her opinion again. Moronically and hilariously, it’s one of our major disagreements (along with the role of fruit in dessert).

But I will forever like “old things” because they have what we often call “character.” You go in an old house and see the scratched wood floor and say “wow, this house has character.” It’s a way of recognizing that this place, this thing, has seen life. It’s been around for years of thoughts and conversations and emotions.

I think that’s why I love my old things so much: they are a way to grab hold of those million fleeting thoughts that bump around in our brains day after day. Someday we will be gone, and our thoughts with us, and all that’s left will be the coffee tables we stubbed our toes on and the picture frames we dusted and the dishes we ate off of. For a brief moment, each dusty thing in an antique store was once audience to the thoughts and feelings that no one else will ever know or remember. And now they are all that’s left.

Does this sound nihilistic? I don’t mean to be nihilistic. I’m just trying to defend my love of old things.

I also think this is what gives me even more conviction to be a good writer. The great moments in history, the wars and celebration and speeches, will always be remembered. But it’s the little things, the jokes around the dinner table, the shade of blue the sky was on a certain day, or the smell of your grandmother’s perfume when you hugged her, that won’t be.

That’s a shame, because all those little details are what life is. And that is even more noble and real than the great moments could ever hope to be. But out of sight, out of mind. We don’t realize how good our days are until they’ve passed and become the good old days.

This is why I’ll always love my old things and try to remember each stupid detail of each humdrum phase of life. This is why I have a shelf full of journals and random scraps of thoughts written on paper and phrases typed into my phone on the go so I don’t forget them. Because these little stories are life, and these little stories are what we end up caring about.

These little stories are what writers are here to tell.

Learning to Paddle

 

postit-scrabble-to-do

I often feel like I’m playing against myself at life, trying to beat myself and emerge the winner.

I’ve always had these grand aspirations of being a good writer. I’ve always taken it for granted that I’ll be able to do it. When I used to tell people I was going to college for writing, I could never understand their quizzical looks.

“What kind of job can you get with that?” they’d ask.

“Um, lots of stuff,” I’d say.

“Are you going to teach?”

“Heck no. I’m going to publish books.”

“So you’re going to write the Great American Novel.”

Um, duh? I’d think, rather uncharitably.

(My hubris knows no bounds.)

So now I’ve graduated, and I’ve started grad school, and I’m entering the part of my life where those grand aspirations won’t come true unless I start doing something. I haven’t necessarily been a slouch these past few years, but neither have I written the Great American Novel (it’s currently under construction).

And while I’m breaking into the freelancing world little by little (for which I’m immensely grateful), I’m learning that my own worst enemy isn’t time or writer’s block or other people.

It’s myself.

But not in the way you think. While poor time management is a very common method of self-sabotage, time management is not how I’m my worst enemy.

I’m my own worst enemy when I assume I will fail.

I’ve been agitated since graduating, upset with myself for not going farther in the three months since I received my degree. I should be putting myself out there! Writing dawn til dusk! Publishing left and right! Getting a real job! But when life takes me a different, more quiet and unassuming direction, I get frustrated, because something in me fears that if I don’t paddle frantically, I’ll drown.

Trouble is, I’ve never been very good at paddling frantically. I’m just not the Type A, go-getter type. I’m naturally more deliberate and more thoughtful. I think this makes me a better writer in many ways (I notice the little things) and a worse one in others (okay, yes, time management).

But something I’ve learned is that writing is an organic thing. It lives and it grows in the way I least expect it. Sometimes I have to wait for life to happen before my writing gets better, because life marinates my writing and then writing marinates my life and they both need time to mature correctly. And I have to trust that God made me me, and He also made me a writer, and I have to work with who He made me and the life He gave me in order for anything I do to be worth a thing.

Also, I’ve learned that Comparison is a bitch. (Sorry, Comparison.) Comparison muscles preconceived notions of grandeur into places they don’t belong. Comparison is what makes me sure I’ll fail before I even try.

Comparison makes me lament the unique person, the unique writer, God made me to be. It makes me chase after some other person’s life until I feel God pulling me back to the more deliberate and thoughtful path He wants me on. I often sense Him bemusedly berating me. No, you idiot. Back here. Get back here!

(God and I have a very sassy relationship.)

I have to remember that the life I have is a good one. The life I have is the one that belongs to me. And if I live it well, if I live it gratefully, I won’t fail. Maybe it won’t look like my grand aspirations. Maybe I won’t write the Great American Novel. Maybe I’ll write the Great American Flop instead (but hey, I’d still be famous).

Goals are important. Hard work is important. But writing is also organic, just as life is organic. Sometimes relaxing my expectations is as important as making expectations in the first place.

I find peace in 1 Corinthians 7:17, which says, “Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him.” If this is my goal, I don’t have to fear mediocrity or failure. If this is my goal, failure is impossible.

(And seriously, Hannah. It’s only been three months. Give yourself a break.)

 

 

Runner and Doorman

I’ve been reading a book about quelling anxiety. Not for myself, of course, because I don’t need it at all. Ha.

One thing I’ve learned is that the fear of anxiety is what makes anxiety something to fear. Anxiety in itself is nothing, just extra adrenaline. Becoming hyper-aware of it and then fearing its arrival is what makes anxiety so crippling.

The thing to do about this, the book says, is to dare anxiety to do its worst. When you start to notice the symptoms of an anxiety attack, you’re supposed to call them out. “Heart palpitations? Is that all you can do? I’ve gotten through that before. Try harder.”

This approach is based on the premise that running away from fear makes fear more frightful. It makes its steps sound louder, its voice more resonant, its whispers more chilling. You try not to look until you can’t bear to look.

But when you do end up forcing yourself to turn around and stare fear in the face, you find that it’s really small. It’s pitiful. It’s laughable. When you run toward it, daring it to do its worst, you find as you get closer how utterly small and insignificant it is. You find its claws dull and its voice nothing more than a squeak.

Wartbug Door Handle

One day a friend and I were talking about fear. We noticed how fear is often like a door that swings shut, and if you leave it alone, if you choose not to indulge it, it’ll stay shut. It’s not strong enough to open the door itself. But idiot humans that we are, we indulge a peek. We crack the door open, and then we stick our foot in, and then we keep it there, even though what we let out makes us miserable.

But running is tiring. And a heavy door on a small foot hurts. So why do we torment ourselves when the thing we’re running from and the thing we’re leaving the door open for is just a knee-high squeaky nebby jag* who’s only alive because we indulge it? To be honest, it doesn’t make sense. And it’s just plain impractical.

Running away from fear is one of my main hobbies. And every time I manage to outrun it, I double back, crack open the door, and stick my foot in to let the fear catch up to me. I’m both runner and doorman. It’s exhausting. It’s moronic. But it’s my nature.

Recently, during a super stressful week, I tried out the book’s strategy. I dared my fear to do its worst in the little knots of life that often turn into my biggest sources of anxiety.

The fridge is getting empty and I’m not sure when I’ll have extra money to go to the grocery store? Excellent. Let’s see how long I can round up what’s left in the kitchen and play Iron Chef.

The new month means a new round of bills more expensive than last month? Sweet. I can’t wait to see how much higher the heating bill is this month. I am actually very interested; the weather’s been cold and I live in an old drafty house. Let’s see how drafty, shall we?

I’m tired and emotional and need to take care of some similarly tired, emotional people? Awesome. I’ll see how long it’ll take before I quietly burst into tears. Maybe I’ll break my record and make it three days instead of two.

Of course, my snappy comebacks helped. I’m always one to laugh at my own jokes. But I realized that calling fear’s bluff helps immensely. Because fear can’t ever keep its own promises.

The book cautions me that I have to keep up with this approach until it’s second nature. It’s a process that won’t be overcome overnight. And sometimes I forget altogether. Sometimes going through the process of calling fear’s bluff is too exhausting. I’d much rather run away and get my foot stuck in the door instead.

But that’s okay, because I have another trick up my sleeve that neither fear nor the book are counting on: I happen to be a child of God. And when I’m tired of running or holding a door open or turning around and going through a set of bluff-calling questions, I can look up and pray one of my favorite prayers:

“I can’t wait to see how You’ll turn this into something I can worship You for.”

It’s a work in progress. But it gets me to stop running. And it helps me shut the door tight.

 

*Nebby Jag (n). A term of derision. A contracted form of the phrase “nebby jagoff”, taken from the Pittsburghese “nebby” meaning nosy and bothersome, and “jagoff” meaning an unintelligent person, a jerk.

 

 

 

In My Dreams

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I come from a family of dreamers. And no, that’s not a cute thing.

We’re literally dreamers. We have weird, psychologically deep, physically exhausting dreams.

My mom was the first one. She dreams in sagas. And they’re just true enough to be disturbing. When I was a teenager she dreamt someone had cut off one of our chickens’ heads and was running around the house with it in some pagan ritual dance. This was just around the time Grandpa had come over to butcher some roosters (a disturbing event in its own right) and so bloody, still-moving chickens were on all our minds. Add that to the Biblical idea that “we wrestle not against flesh and blood” and Mom was concerned. I was concerned. I’m sure her dream had some kind of sequel, because all her dreams do, but I don’t want to know what it was.

And then there’s my husband. My dear husband, who fights wars and monsters and once jumped out the window in his sleep. At least once a week I’ll greet him with a “good morning! Wanna know what you said to me in your sleep last night?” I used to worry he’d think I was an enemy and try to lop me off, but he recognizes me in his sleep. So while he’s screaming and cursing and thrashing and waving through the air trying to fight attackers, he’s doing it to protect me. And I think that’s sweet.

I have recurring dreams. They play like video games, in which I know what will happen because it did last time, and it’s just a matter of being prepared this time. Then the volcano erupts or the demon attacks before its supposed to, and I grow irate. “You weren’t supposed to do that for another five minutes!”

One recurring theme in my dreams is choosing between two people I love. For years now I’ve regularly dreamed that I have to choose between Alex and another suitor. And all throughout the dream I’m conflicted: they’re both so endearing. I made a commitment to Alex, yeah, but this other guy is so dreamy (pun) and so nice and has many of the qualities Alex has too. Then I wake up and realize: BOTH THE MEN WERE ALEX.

This week I had the same dream, but about someone else. I dreamt that I had to pick between my best friend and a new friend, and it was a rush against the clock because I knew if I didn’t choose which friend to keep, my best friend would choose, and I just knew she wouldn’t choose me. I’d be friendless. It was the silly, childish thing where you can only have one friend, and it was reject or be rejected. Then I woke up and realized: BOTH THE CHICKS WERE MY BEST FRIEND.

This interesting variation on the love triangle dream set me thinking. (I’m becoming my own dream psychiatrist.) In both the love triangle and the friend triangle I’m afraid. I’m trying to hedge my bets, trying to make sure I won’t be stuck with someone who won’t love me forever. I’ve felt this very same thing in real life, in both making friends and getting married. Putting people in your life and committing to them is a terrifying gamble. There are so many sides to a person, so many sides to yourself, and some days they’re more happy with you than others, and vice versa. And there is nothing keeping anyone in your life but sheer will. Nothing keeping anyone in your life but sheer love. I can’t think about it too often. It’s terrifying.

But apparently my brain thinks about it even when I don’t. It dreams about it. It stresses me out for hours a night, until I wake up and realize there never had to be a choice in the first place. Both the men were Alex and both the friends were my best friend. On both bad days and good days, it’s still the same Alex, and on bad days and good days, it’s still the same friend. And the choice is not which side of the person to love, but to love all sides equally. Just as I want to be loved for the many sides of myself.

I got Alex some dream dictionaries, mostly for laughs. “Now we can figure your brain out,” I told him. But since he hasn’t jumped out of any windows recently, perhaps he doesn’t need the books. Perhaps I should start reading them for myself.

 

Sing Anyway

It’s 2017! According to the people in my social media feeds, which is always a reliable source of information, the new year is a good thing because last year was apparently terrible.

My writing dropped off the face of the internet’s earth for a while, and that’s okay. Because the internet’s earth isn’t all of earth, and sometimes it’s good to keep secrets from it.

Last year around this time I made the “writelution” (geez, I already feel like I’ve matured in a year) to take joy. And I think I did it, or at least tried to. At the time, it was a life-giving goal, something which challenged me to scrounge for joy when I least felt it was there.

But this time I think I’m ready for something different. I’m tired of scrounging, of hunting. I want to choose, rather than just take, hope. It’s a different kind of action. It’s utilizing what’s already there instead of trying to find it.

One of my favorite thoughts I came across this year was this one:

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And this quote sums up my desire to be more active in the pursuit of joy. This past year, my soul has hummed and danced and sung on good days, but it’s had trouble doing all those things on the bad ones. I find that I build nests in sorrow because deep down I want to. It’s warm and comforting being cold and uncomfortable.

I used to sing regularly. I used to sing every week at church, together with a big well-oiled machine of a worship band. People said I was good, and that I blessed them. And in a lot of ways, I was blessed too. There were fleeting moments when the songs filled my heart and veins and bones and exploded into the big bright sanctuary and up to God.

But after a few years, singing felt stale, not worshipful at all. It became a routine, a scheduled rehearsal and playacted performance. But I kept singing because I was expected to, and I kept singing because there was no good reason not to, and I kept singing because people were blessed by it.

But after a while, I didn’t want to sing anymore.

At least, not in front of people. I wanted to sing the songs of my soul. I wanted my heart and veins and bones to fill up and explode to God, just to God, not to anyone else. And then various church and family crap happened, and it felt like all the literal and figurative singing was such a sham, like I had been exploited into blessing people who wouldn’t bless me back.

I realize this isn’t necessarily accurate, but it’s how I felt. And I spent most of 2016 feeling that to walk into a church and sing in any capacity was a lie. The words of every song were stale and sneering. I assumed that every well-oiled worship band machines were scheduled rehearsals and performances like I had once been. And I got angry, because I really wanted to sing and fill up and explode together with my brothers and sisters. I didn’t want to sing by myself anymore.

“I want to be in church, God.” I prayed. “And I want to sing and I want it to be real, and I want to feel like I belong and have a community. But I just can’t.”

So for a while I stumbled along and went to church with my best friend and my husband and I tried to sing. Some days I sang on the outside, some days I only sang on the inside, and some days I didn’t sing at all. And every so often there would be a moment when the song would fill my heart and veins and bones and explode, and I’d nearly cry. The moment never lasted very long but I was thankful for it. And then the moments started getting closer and closer together, until I could sing, really sing, for a whole service.

Obviously it’s still not cut and dried. Obviously there are other ways I need to learn to sing, inwardly if not outwardly. But I’m learning, and I’m thankful for that, and I’m content with that. This past year I’ve been confused, I’ve felt lost and I’ve been brokenhearted. And God has met me in each of those moments, I think, to remind me to sing anyway. And I want to. I want to sing even if there isn’t a song playing. So that’s my intention or resolution or whatever it is.

sing-anyway

Sing Anyway.

 

Finding Balance, Losing Balance

Do you remember running to the playground as a kid and beholding a line of colorful wood or metal seesaws? You’d pair up with a friend and take turns pushing each other off the earth and weighing each other back down.

vintage see saw
(from vintage everyday)

But no one, child or adult, is ever satisfied with the monotony of passively bounding up and down, up and down. A seesaw gets boring. So at some point you’d get off your side and onto the center of the seesaw, trying to stand balanced between each end, strong and solid, impartial to the tug of either side.

That was always a lot more exciting, because it was really hard. You’d wobble, doing some kind of wild calisthenics as you try to find equilibrium. Some of you triumphed, and others (I hope it’s not just me) are still working on it.

I feel like I’ve spent most of my life on a seesaw. Mentally. Ideologically. Spiritually. I’m all or nothing, liberal or conservative, left or right. I become fixated on one extreme, unwilling to budge out of fear. I’m afraid that if I do leave my comfortable, well-worn side of the seesaw, I’ll tumble toward the other end, the other extreme, hurtling back to earth with a resounding bang that rattles my bones.

What I don’t realize, of course, is that this hurtling has already happened, because I’ve stayed on one end of the seesaw the whole time. That’s the nature of a seesaw, you know; that’s the whole point. I’ve bounded up, but I always come back down. Neither end, neither extreme, is impervious to damage. You fly up in the euphoria of a false righteousness, only to fall when your own perfect expectations are impossible.

I thought I was secure. I thought I was solid and strong. But in reality I’ve been foolishly flailing in the air, so self-assured while I fly untethered and fall with rattled bones. In my pride, I did not see the damage. I was oblivious to the fine cracks that this kind of strain causes.

The more I learn about God, the more I realize that He does not call us to extremes. He calls us to “be fully convinced in our own minds”, promising that He “is able to make us stand” (Romans 14, verses 5 and 4). This means following the call of the Holy Spirit, Who shows each of us what the center of the seesaw is in our time and place.

In real life, I’m terrible at balancing on the top of a seesaw. I look more like a frantic surfer than anything. I fall to the ground, injure myself, look stupid. And of course, spiritually I’m not much better. But that’s okay. It’s a process. And I’d rather go through this process than spend my life stuck on one end, forever bounding up and down and thus damaging myself.

God promises that He is able to make me stand, and day by day, with His grace, I get better at standing with a foot on each side of the seesaw. This way of living is a little terrifying, especially if, like me, you have terrible balance.

In the very loosely-borrowed words of C.S. Lewis: it’s not a tame life, but it sure as hell is a good one.

 

A Confession of Feelings

I’ve spent most of the past few months being really angry.

It started with some family crap, and finished with some church crap, and neither crap really needs to be explored here. All the crap is more or less being resolved. God has a way of making crap beautiful. Kudos to Him; it’s hard work working with crap.

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And although I’ve been more of a close observer than a direct victim of it all, the result of everything has been a lot of personal growth and also a lot of personal anger.

I’ve been angry at others for guiding me too much or not guiding me enough, angry at myself for being too strong or not strong enough. Angry at all the foolishness we humans are so gifted at performing.

Thankfully, I haven’t found myself angry at God. Plaintive, yes. Incredulous, frustrated, and feisty, uh-huh. But not angry. I just can’t logically be angry with God when it’s the perversion of His law, not His law itself, that causes so much crap. It’s not you; it’s me.

pennsylvania love

I came across the tail end of 2 Peter 3 the other day. One verse stuck out like one of those horrible jumping cactus needles that lies in wait like a bandit and leaps from the sand to lodge itself into the sole of your foot. In this chapter, Peter encourages his loved ones to watch out for false teachers who twist the Scripture out of ignorance and instability.

And then he says this: “You, therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability” (vs. 17).

This cactus needle stuck out because it is the crux of my anger. While I’ve had the gift of being surrounded with Godly people my whole life, I’ve shirked the responsibility of my own stability. Godliness, for most of my life, has meant following this teaching or soaking in that Bible study or laying out a spiritual cookie cutter and lopping off God-given parts of myself so I can fit into the mold of “Christian living”.

I’m angry, because I didn’t recognize the bullshit.

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I thought never standing my ground was being flexible and “led by the Spirit.” I thought never voicing my needs and desires was being “Christlike.” I thought feeling at peace in my walk with the Lord meant I was stagnant. I thought being uncomfortable meant I was listening to His still small voice.

And sometimes, yes sometimes, that is absolutely the case. But when you find yourself guilty for feeling feelings, when you can’t make a decision because you’re striving to discern whether your emotions are fleshly or spiritual when you’ve never known the difference, you might have a stability problem.

I think it’s telling of our Christian subculture that we perpetuate these unstable ideas as Godly. I think we coil ourselves up in shame and confusion so tightly that we go numb and we can no longer recognize the bullshit. And I think we’re wrong, because Jesus Himself said that his yoke is easy and his burden is light (Matt. 11:30). What right do we have to add weight we were never supposed to bear? To do so is terribly blasphemous.

A relationship with God is harder than fitting into a spiritual cookie cutter, but it’s much more simple. It’s constant, it’s daily, and it’s beautiful. It’s living out the kind of childlike faith we were always meant to have. It’s cutting your own spirit-led path in the woods instead of deepening a rut that hundreds of well-meaning souls have followed.

When you learn to do that, you’re just not angry anymore.

 

 

 

 

Forest Paths

bliss

Forest Paths

Every day
I cut my path through the forest.
Some days
I cut miles and miles of new terrain,
and others
I barely make it a foot.
But I have a good compass,
and I’ll come to whatever glades and hills,
rocks and water,
highlands and lowlands
that my path is meant to cross.

There are others
who’ve cut great highways,
deep muddy ruts
scarring the once-green earth,
traveled by pilgrims
who were meant to cut their own paths,
but didn’t,
meant to follow their own compasses,
but didn’t.
They were fearful.
They were pious.

Sometimes
the great rut-makers
and rut-walkers
scorn my simple path
because it is not safe,
not logical,
and definitely not well-traveled.
They cannot see
that their own road
is wider and deeper and more twisting
than it was ever meant to be.

They have forgotten their compasses,
in favor of what was once a good direction
for one
or a few.
And now they think
it is the only good way.
They cannot understand
the thrill of the wilderness,
the beauty of pain,
and the joy of the small voice
when you’ve got a good compass.