Friday, June 29, 2012

Beautiful Prose

As a senior in high school, I took AP English. It lasted two semesters and promised to be a challenging course (it did not disappoint).

As I was reading from the Diamond Sutra this morning, I came across a passage of commentary that was beautifully written. Translator Edward Conze wrote,

In the present period of history we find ourselves in one of the worst possible cosmic ages, with Buddhism in full decline, and the people everywhere singularly obtuse about matters spiritual, and incredibly dimwitted when confronted with the wisdom of the sages.

I read the paragraph, paused a moment, and read it again. I admired the particular choice of diction (it was the word "cosmic" used to describe the ages that sparked my interest first). The phrase "singularly obtuse about matters spiritual"...I've yet to be able to quite articulate what it is that I love so much about the writing, but here is why I recalled AP English.

I remember one day walking down the hall with my teacher. We were discussing, I believe it was James Joyce...perhaps Flannery O'Connor. We studied both in the same time frame. He was telling me about the beauty of the prose, and I asked him what he meant. I didn't quite understand how words, the same words used by everyone who speaks English, could be beautiful in one jumble and ordinary in another. I looked at his face as he seemed to search for an adequate explanation. He expounded a bit, but left me with the notion that it was something I'd have to experience for myself.

Now I know.

Now I know what beautiful prose reads like. What it feels like falling off your tongue. What it stirs up inside you as the words take form and create images in your mind and thoughts in your soul. And it's different for everyone, I believe. Granted, I think beautiful prose should be recognized by everyone, but the particular way in which it touches a person will vary. For instance, the paragraph I quoted above may not seems quite as beautiful to another reader. For me, it was like a small gift in the morning, delicately laced with the somber and distressed meaning of its words.

Now I know. And now I want others to know. But I can't exactly explain it to you.

Morning Time

In my recent endeavors, I have found that that which they claim not to be true has given me more happiness than the Truth. I have thought, then perhaps truth is subjective. But rather, I think it is happiness that is subjective. If it is the quest for truth that fulfills a person, then the object of their aim will make them satisfied, regardless of its validity or reality. Thus, as I have always said, perception is reality.

Early morning sunrise.

By the flower bed.

Where I think, read, write, and bake.

Early morning hot tea and banana bread. Nothing more peaceful.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Beach Evening

I set down my purple and blue woven cloth bag by a tree very near the sand. The grass was already full of colorful beach towels and sand buckets where families had come for a late-afternoon swim. The area was of fair size - plenty of parking, and the buoyed-off water reaching some 75 yards in width and perhaps 30 in length. There were little girls running around in one-piece bathing suits wearing small life jackets, little boys tromping through the sand in their swim trunks and bare chests, just like dad. Whoops and hollers could be heard constantly, coming from various corners of the beach and lake. Boats sped by now and then, sending torrent waves crashing into toddlers and carrying stones back out to sea (lake really, but it sounds poetic).

I walked the short distance to the sand and felt its blaze soak into the soles of my feet. I felt the sun set my chest on fire. Felt the wind whipping at my curls and let my hair down. The sky was perfectly blue. Cloudless, was a shame, yet attractive for its purity. And directly above the water front shone a white sun, too bright to stare at for more than a glimpse of the human eye. The sky around it was white, and faded softly into the blue that became the rest. The star's reflection played upon the dancing waves and glittered in my eye; created a path of light that led toward the horizon, though I knew I would never be able to reach it.

I walked peacefully and curiously into the water, paying close attention to how it lapped at my ankles- how I could feel the tiny currents of water there in the shallows as they whisked past my calves, my knees, thighs, submerge.

I let the water overtake me. I was at a loss of freedom, a loss of will in the water. One can move optionally, but her movements are always only permissible by the authority of the waves. We exist in a different medium when we subjugate ourselves to an overwhelming matter.

I dove beneath the orange buoy on the far left side and emerged in the open water. There was an overgrowth of green water grass not far from me and a large log caught in the mass that had run aground and now served as a sitting log of sorts. I waded far enough out into the murky blue expanse to just let my knees touch the lake floor and to let the leftover waves of ski jets and speeders caress my shoulders. I gazed out at the open field and felt unified with the earth. Then felt funny for being so incredibly dazed. I was unashamed still.

Alone with the greatest single expanse of matter on earth- water. I've decided that if I could choose my manner of death, I would go stoned, naked, and in the water. I simply cannot imagine anything more natural, anything more peaceful.

As the waves became more intense, I felt the sand at my feet for a large rock and eventually bumped into one. I wrapped my legs around it in a meditative sort of way and then floated with the currents and tides, being pulled out to sea, then thrust back toward land. I wrote this poem in my mind...

I came with the water
As each wave gently,
Then more forcibly,
Pushed me back and forth
Atop the rock beneath my body.

I penned the lyrics later, but my mind worked constantly in a novel-esque way. I saw four ducks swimming near the banks close by and, rather than simply noting their presence, found myself narrating the scene. "Their feathers sent beads of water rippling down their backs as they glided along the surface of the water. Green, brown, slight traces of blue, their feathers. They waddled up to the sand and shook their heads, crinkled their bodies, and returned the clear molecules to their mother." I couldn't stop writing my life.

As the sun set and turned a certain hue of yellow, I swam back under the orange buoy and waded up to sit in the shallows of the water where I could stare into the path of light that shimmering orb cast onto the waves. Children and parents still played together in the marked off arena. Girls flirted with boys, boys tried to climb buoys to impress the girls. Mothers sat under trees reading books and reapplying sunscreen to the "forgetful" kids. Fathers tossed terrified children into the water and watched them come up laughing and screaming, smiles from ear to ear. I observed.

My evening was made perfect by the presence of life. Life I saw bursting from energetic kids, life in the trees, life at work in the atoms that comprise water molecules. I sat there absorbing the life, my soul gorging itself on nature's beauty. My eyes felt brighter from the sun, my body felt cleansed by the sand.

I stood up and wrung out my tank top and shorts. My hair was fairly dry from sitting in the shallows so long. I pulled it back into a bun and made my way to the shade tree where sat my bag and other items. Swig of water, flip flops, car keys. I felt swimming in the water that that moment would last an eternity. I was there for no more than an hour, but like Blake, my time was not dependent on linear movement. I felt eternity in an hour. And even as I have come home and left today in my memories, I still feel the eternity of that moment echoing in my thoughts and spirit. It healed much of me. Brought comfort and peace. It was one of those days that I'll never remember for its events, but will forever carry the beauty and love I received from the experience.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Fettered silence
Chained into this waste of a body
Loosed mind
Too loosed
Roaming through mountains and valleys
Peaks and lows
I cannot control
Imprisoned in solitude
Imprisoned in glory

Escaping only into mirrors
Tied to the death in cycles
Where gloom and hope
Hold hands

To wander I wonder
Where will I go
And kneel before the same faculties of mind
Fettered silence
Fettered silence
Fettered silence.

Peaceful Nights

My mother called me this afternoon as she was leaving her work in Nashville; she wanted to know if I thought steamed vegetables and rice sounded good for dinner. I replied with a warm "yeah, that sounds great" and we hung up and I returned to my house work.

When she walked through the kitchen door about an hour later after a stop at Publix (where she experienced for the first time and excitedly told me about the artificial thunder and lightning that occurs just before the produce is misted by the little sprinkler fixtures there), she laid on the kitchen counter a bag full of fresh vegetables- three squash, three heads of broccoli, one red bell pepper and one yellow, and a few good potatoes. I was a bit taken back since, in today's society, one typically thinks of steamed vegetables coming in a pre-packaged bag that you can pop in the microwave. I was pleasantly surprised to see the array of color. We weren't planning on eating right away, so I went to my room and submersed myself in one of the books I've been reading lately, The Dharma Bums, by Jack Kerouac.

After a while, she hollered for me to come help fix dinner, so I finished the chapter I was on and shuffled into the kitchen where she already had out a large cutting board and was slicing up the potatoes and placing them strategically into the steamer on the stove. I too got out a cutting board and positioned myself at the opposite counter where I neatly trimmed each squash into little yellow circles and threw them in the pot (much to my mother's dismay, for her strategy was to space out the vegetables for optimum steaming).

We talked a long while as we finished preparing all the food. Mostly about my Buddhist belief in observation and analysis, but we eventually dropped the subject. She began to tell me about a book on tape she'd been listening to on her way to and from work each day. It was about a little girl whose mother had secluded herself from life by reading books all day after her father had left them. The little girl, named Lilian, began to use food as a way to bring her mother out of her "funk". She said that she felt in food what others feel in words and written language. She related the smell of spices and the fragrance of coffees and teas to memories in her life and to certain emotions and human behaviors. She began to use cooking as a way to stir up life in her mother.

As my mother told me about the book, I said I wouldn't mind if she wanted to put it on, so she told me to bring it in from her car. I did, and we stood leaning against the counter tops listening while we waited for our own dinner to finish cooking. The style of writing reminded me much of James Joyce's in his short story The Dead. There wasn't much of a plot, as Lilian was mostly trying different recipes, but the writing itself seemed to woo your imagination. It was the attention to detail that brought the story to life.

The buzzer on our stove went off and we silently moved the pots over to our dinner table where the plates and forks were already set. We habitually took our seats, paying no notice to the actual movement of muscle, as both our minds were lost in the story being told to us by a female narrator we'd never met. We dished out the rice, poured on top the mixture of steamed squash, potatoes, peppers, and broccoli, and sat staring out the dining room window at the pale blue and pink sky.

It was when we finished our supper that I had a sudden recollection of my childhood. We both sat there, plates clean, glasses almost full, eyes glazed over, and I recalled nights long ago when my family would sit together at the dinner table and listen to late-night stories on the radio - often Adventures in Odyssey or some other family-oriented show. I maintained attention to Lilian's story, but thought also of those nights when we'd cook a big family dinner and then stay huddled round our dishes as the food in the pots got cold. Those days seem lost now.

We finished the chapters of the book on tape that dealt with Lilian's story (which ended happily as the mother began to take notice of her daughter and climb slowly out of her reclusive state). I put my dishes into the dishwasher and grabbed an apple, announcing that I was going outside for a bit.

Even the night air reminded me of when I was child and I would walk outside to see my father working on the old Buick or repairing a lawn mower. He was always outside. And something about cool, clear evenings reminds me of him. I walked into the back yard and squatted beside the maple tree. Took a bite out of my apple and savored the crisp crunch. My little lion man snuck up beside me and wrapped his tail around my leg and I scratched his head and rubbed his neck. The moon hung lonely in the clear blue sky right above our field, one half perfectly visible, like the stones that shimmer in the bottom of a clean clear creek in the summer, and the other half was hidden, like a ghost in the daylight. I looked up at it and thought of what a perfect night it had been. I wasn't sure if I should call it nostalgic or promising. Either way, I was thankful for the peace I felt. That was a change, and I felt that a lot more would be changing in my near future.

I live in a false reality. I live in a world of dreams, and I have created them all. I am too afraid of normality, and yet I have wasted my dreams on rocks that crumble. I am sea fisherman stuck in a puddle. I can find beauty in the sunshine and happiness in a fleeting moment of love for some passion of mine, but everything I am passionate about is too far out of reach. Do I reach anyway and die trying? I've launched a cycle in my life, and yet I base even that cycle on two experiences. That's like calling a line two points that connect. Sure, it's a line, but as soon as another point is added that skews away from the pattern, what line do you have then?

Is it better to live in a world of dreams and creations, deceiving myself but living with passion, or is it better to accept a dull reality in which I am just another face on this fucking planet?

Monday, June 25, 2012

Like the Ground

The ground is used. It is used by everyone. They walk upon it, pave roads over top of it, build cities upon it. The ground is called ugly and unclean, yet from it springs life - vegetation that humans actually need to survive. The ground also produces beautiful flowers, with more diversity of color and size and shape than ever was seen in humans. The beauty of the ground has been trampled on. How can anything feel needed and lovely when it is goes so unnoticed?

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Coffee and New Acquaintances

I was sitting outside of Starbucks tonight at one of the patio tables they have set up along some railing and landscape bushes. The night air felt warm, and I was more comfortable in the solitude of the night than in the colder and more crowded atmosphere inside. I'd come to write, but after purchasing my coffee and getting settled into my seat, I only felt like thinking.

As I sat hunched in my chair, one hand lightly gripped around my cup, the other propping my head up on the arm rest, I looked at the half-full moon reflecting the sun's light and reflected upon my own life. Who have I become? Who will I become? What difference am I making, or am I making a difference at all? When can I hit the open road and travel the world?

As I sat there, likely looking sad and dejected, though really just perplexed, two young men walked past me at the back and settled at a table not far from me. They each had a cigarette hanging loosely from their lips and would now and then take it away to blow a thick puff of smoke from their lungs. I was intrigued with their presence, as they had not gone inside for coffee or cakes, but rather sat talking. I could easily and without intention hear a good bit of their conversation, which I eventually perceived to consist of numerous recreational activities. After five or ten minutes I looked over and made some eye contact, removed myself from the lonely chair I was in, and cheerfully introduced myself. In no time, I'd pulled up a chair and we were all talking and sharing stories, laughing and getting to know one another.

I love meeting new people, and even more, I love to hear their stories. I love to hear about others' lives and where they've been and what they go through; what they enjoy and what they dream about doing. Between the millions and billions of people on this earth, each person has a unique story, and I want to hear them all! I want to explore everything and learn everything! I hope more than anything to travel the country, visiting each state and major city, and eventually to travel the world, touring countries like Switzerland, Australia, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Israel, China...and as I go, as I meet new people and collect stories and experiences, I want to write about them. That's my dream.

I spent about twenty minutes with my two new acquaintances, after which we swapped numbers and social media info. I was glad for the new company, and glad to feel connected with some people who were not average guys. I didn't get a lot of journal writing done, but I did get some inspiration for my future travels. I can't imagine the kind of people I'll meet as I travel even further outside of my home. I say, Let the journey begin!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Star Talk (without Neal deGrasee Tyson) (unfortunately)

I'm in such a fit of passion right now I feel that I could pass out if I don't scribble my thoughts out here! No time for explanations! I'll do that later! I just have one question. (That's a lie, I have ten million.)

If God accepts those who have faith in Him, and if faith is, by definition, a belief in something for which one has no physical proof, then are those who passionately seek proof of God and question the universe cursed by God for not believing blindly in His existence?

Are we really subject to a higher order over which we have no control? Are we cursed for thinking? Are we cursed for questioning? Surely faith is a beautiful thing. It's often the central drive of a person's soul. But why?

Jesus said that the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to "such as these", the children who wanted to see Jesus but whom the disciples tried to hold back in the crowd. He said another time that if one had the faith of a mustard seed, he could move mountains. I'm not exactly quoting verbatim here, but bear with me.

If faith is so simple, so easily attained by anyone, then in what category does God place those who not only have faith, but who have questions?

I feel like I'm being so incredibly redundant! Language is such an inhibitor!

If I could just show you...If I could capture on camera the stars tonight...That's what prompted my thoughts. I was lying on an old towel out under the stars in our driveway. We live out in the country on seven acres and the street lights and house lights near us fortunately are not bright enough to dim the stars. I see thousands of them...thousands of burning, luminary objects. I was driving home tonight with a friend of mine whose car has a sunroof. We opened it, and I stared up at those gods who so carefully protect each wish cast upon them. They're tangible. That's what gets me. I could really touch those stars...I'm just too far away.

It was the glory of the stars that led my thoughts to God. So beautiful.

The stars, I believe, are one of the few things that leave men expressionless. Not a dull lack of expression, but an inability to adequately express the feeling of sanctification they bestow upon a person. When I look at the stars, I feel needed. I feel unified and with purpose. I feel beautiful.

I was thinking about the word universe tonight. The word universe begins with the prefix uni. I'm no etymologist, but uni typically means one, or to be unified in some way. We think of the universe as being separate from us, because our world is so present in our lives - the ground we walk, the creatures we encounter, the atmosphere we breathe - and we look up at night and see the stars and we think that they're foreign. But what are we to the stars?? We are just as foreign! So where then is the basis for normality among the planets and stars and rock dust in outer space? Where is the platform by which we measure normality if everything is equally different or equally the same? Why is it outer space, just because we don't have ready access to explore it in person? Why do we separate ourselves from the cosmos when we make up the cosmos?

If I am cursed, so be it. I see God in the stars, and I have faith. I see God in the stars, and I have questions. I cannot see God himself, and I doubt Him, but I do not doubt the stars...and yet I cannot touch the stars, and have never held a star in my hands...I have a horrible belief system.

I'm through. To hell with neat conclusions. I'm going back out to look at the stars.

The Pursuit of Happiness

I'll get back to you when I figure it out.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Last Night in the Boro

I am in the smoky mountains. I have never been in the smoky mountains, but I am here tonight. Smoke-filled mountains. They are lovely.

Sea fishes swim through the most turbulent ice waters and shiver in their scales at the quiver of so many water molecules.

I am alive in the truest sense. Truth is the perception of reality among each culture, each country, each city, and every person. In all, I am alive.

I think of the dust on the moon and wonder how he and I can both have dust.

Frostbitten pebbles in rivers of light produce darkness in the middle and surface gold to the knight.

I crumble and fall in glory.

Do you hear the sounds of color and visible electrodes in my body?

Repetition of phrases and words cannot lengthen my vocabulary or imagination.

If I shut my eyes I see hexagon shapes of grey moving in gentle formation above my dark horizon.

In the middle of the woods my skills and senses are heightened to a degree beyond human comprehension.

The stars birth us.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Wild Nights in the Boro - Preface

I left home Thursday afternoon bound for the Boro with a friend of mine. She'd come to Portland that morning with her father and we were determined to make some lasting memories together in the few hours we had before her return to Murfreesboro. (If you'd like to read more on that, check out my blog post entitled "Heaven at Paradise.") When the time came for her to go, we, instead of saying our goodbyes, concocted a plan for me to join her for a night while she house sat for her brother. We pulled a few strings, put on our puppy faces, and got the "OK." We then embarked on the greatest adventure we've probably ever had together.

There's your intro.

I am about to, over the course of the next few days most likely, put down on screen all of the adventures and stories I have to tell from our excursion to the Boro. I'm opting to chop up our weekend into short stories because there are so many, and I'm currently about to sign off and go have some ice cream upstairs with the family gang and then hit the town again. Or do anything else that pops into our young adventurous minds. But I didn't want to go any longer without an explanation for my lack of posting lately. I was supposed to only stay Thursday night. Then only Friday night. Then only Saturday night. And now I'm staying another night yet again. (Between you and me...and the world wide web...I only packed for one night. So yes, this has been the adventure of a dirty barefoot hippie.)

Sayonara for now.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Let the Quest Begin

I'm ready. I've put my mind to it, and I am beginning the most definitive and scrupulous quest for the truth that I've ever thus far engaged in. Is it Jesus? Is it God? Is it Buddha? Is it my own humanity? Is it the belief of the ancient Greeks? What the hell, I'm going all in. I'm about to begin college, which will provide an even broader range of cultures and beliefs to examine and consider.

I've begun reading The Case for Christ, a book written by Lee Strobel - a Yale Law School graduate, editor of the Chicago Tribune, and an atheist. When his wife came home one day and announced she was a born-again Christian, Strobel says that he was worried the fun, carefree, risk-taking Leslie would disappear, replaced by some stiff, all-night prayer vigil freak. When, instead, he noticed subtle changes in her behavior for the better - she had more personal confidence and greater integrity - he decided to use his investigative skills as a reporter to research Christianity.

What I'm enjoying most about the book is that the questions posed to the great Biblical scholars whom he interviews are asked with skepticism as he tries to trip them up. That's kind of where I am in my faith - uncertain, a bit skeptical of the divinity of the Bible and whether it was God-inspired. After all, it was a group of men who compiled our cannon, which we claim as being Holy and inerrant. But then Catholics have additional books in their cannon, and certain other religions have entirely separate holy books.

So I'm appreciative of the objective standpoint he's taking.

We'll see how my journey goes. I'm well aware that the journey is a lifelong one, but the way I see it is that I'm eighteen and haven't really begun. I was spoon-fed Southern Baptist philosophies my whole life and finally questioned them over the past year. Then I began writing, smoking marijuana, and experiencing a new kind of life (which I think is good to experience, though perhaps not a good thing to persist in; as we grow we change - physically, emotionally, spiritually - and so I think everyone should go through a questioning stage).

It's time to move on though. Not necessarily today; boom, I'm a different person! But I want to begin studying world beliefs. So here goes. Wish me luck. I'll most likely blog about it sometimes. But I certainly won't put that down in stone. We saw how well my "blog direction" went last time.

Heaven at Paradise

My best friend came in from out of town today. She lives on the East side of the state, and I live in the Middle, so we're no longer able to see each other as much as we'd like.

When she got to my house, we ate some breakfast and decided that we needed to do something grand! I remembered our vow to one day break into an old abandoned prison in Nashville and explore it, but we thought that might be an adventure to be planned further in advance.

We knew it was hot outside, so I suggested swimming. Where? Paradise, baby! It's a modest sized place off of a back road just outside of town where you can fix camp fires and haul in coolers and tables up on the flat top of the cliff. Then, if you climb down to the edge of the cliff you can jump off and make a twelve-foot drop into the creek where it's about fifteen feet deep.

We put on our bathing suits and took off in her convertible. Top down. Music turned up. Sunshine on our skin.

We found the hidden little dirt parking area at the entrance to Paradise and hiked down the dirt trail to the open area where the cliff was. We couldn't wait to jump in, but wanted to relax a bit first. We lit a fire made from whatever twigs and plants we could find, and got to feeling pretty good.

We soon found Heaven. Climb down the left side of the boulder, hold onto the tree there and swing around, jump down to the rock platform underneath, and look behind you.

There is a rock wall. It's covered in slick green moss, with some scattered wild mushrooms jutting directly out from the side. That was our village. We lived there. We knew its caves and its crevices. It was home. We stood there like slaves, hands against the wall, backs exposed. I looked above where I was standing and saw another great rock wall, but it was more like the Great Wall of China, or the walls around Jerusalem. Then we looked up above the city and saw God's Temple. It was the underside of a huge oak tree, where the root system was exposed above the rock. So many little vines, almost like the veins that run throughout our human bodies. Spider webs, ant angels that floated about doing God's work; so many living creatures, beautiful. And the sun shone down through the tree leaves and penetrated our black pupils so that we saw the Light of Heaven as we looked upon it.

After a long conversation and ample observation of our surroundings, we climbed back up the cliff and sat on its edge, looking into the water. It was murky, but we could just make out some of the small fish that swam just below the surface. There was a large black ant crawling near me so I flicked him into the water. We looked over the edge and just as we did a little trout fish jumped up and snatched him. We were both astonished and thoroughly impressed.

Heaven's boat soon drifted our way. We looked down, like two emperors scouting out their next kingdom. We didn't want to be taken away on the boat. It was a ferry for the souls who have gone before us, we concluded. So instead, my friend said, "Let's bomb it!" We hunted for small stones and launched them into the water. I hit it once, she didn't. We took it to mean I was going to Hell for hitting Heaven's boat, and she would be punished for instigating the attack.

It was a good day. She and I always make great memories together. We left Paradise that day having found Heaven in a root system, and having never jumped into the water. So much for swimming.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Learning to Hate

Michael and Tom each sat on a couch. I sat cross-legged on the wooden floor, so that the three of us made a triangle. The guys had been watching UFC fights on the television while I stared off into space, which happened to exist midway up the corner of the living room wall, just underneath a shelf.

After we'd sat in silence for a while, I asked if Michael had anything in his house that I could read. I didn't care what, I just wanted to read something and stimulate my mind. He had Mein Kampf. I wagered I could read all of it in two hours, despite their laughs and skepticism, and opened the book.

While I sat reading, Michael began talking to Tom about one of his recent relationships. A girl he'd been dating had cheated on him, and I think he was talking about how he was just trying to move on. I didn't know him very well yet, but when he finished speaking, he made one statement that moved me and left me silent and pensive for the longest time. It was bold and spoken from the heart. He said,

"When you love someone, you have to find something about that person that you absolutely hate. Because if you find that one thing that you hate about them and you can still love them through it, then you know it's true love and that nothing can ever come between you. And, if you can't find anything about them that you hate, then you know they're not being true to you, because no one's perfect."

It wasn't a great author, a great poet who spoke those words. It was no philosopher or marriage counselor. It was a middle-aged man who works in a factory. That's what I love about how he said those words. They were the words of a common man who knew what it took to love someone. It took learning to hate.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Heaviness lingers in the air like smoke
An intangible weight hovering against my chest
Throbbing, shaking

I wandered through the night
Homeless and unfed
But more than independence
I wanted a place to rest my head
I've never been so scared
I've never felt so dead
But if this is my story
I'll write it
Before I resolve myself to sit alone in silence.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Being Open-Minded

Breathe in, breathe out
Time rolls by
I am a hawk perched on the ground
I fly high into the clear atmosphere
Then I soar down to the Earth
I am in the King's court
It doesn't matter where I am
A whole new sensation
It doesn't matter why I began
New friends and new adventures
We're invincible to the end
Ready and aware, I stand

breathe in, breathe out
time rolls by
i just sit
then i stand
then i sit again
and i am on wooden floors
but i don't know where i am
and for the first time
i can't remember why i began
and i don't know these people
and for the first time
i'm scared

Thursday, June 7, 2012

A Grand Father-Daughter Date

This afternoon I had a lunch date with my 82-year-old grandfather. He called last night to ask if I had any plans for today and I told him I hadn't any. He asked if I'd like to go out to eat, just the two of us, and said I could pick any place I wanted to go. I said I'd love to.

He picked me up at 11:33. I got in the truck and he said, "I'm three minutes late!" I told him I just didn't know what to do with him.

We decided to go to Nashville. I love the Spaghetti Factory there. I could diet on pasta and bread...I would never need any more carbohydrates, though.

When we got to downtown Nashville, we both realized the same thing- the CMA Fest was going on. This meant that trying to find a parking spot would be about as simple as stealing a great historic document from D.C. - unless you're Nicolas Cage. In both circumstances, probably.

So, we're circling the blocks in the area, detours are set up everywhere, and frequently masses of people are crossing through traffic. But here's one thing I adore about my grandfather. For every police officer we came to that told us we couldn't go the way we needed to go, every road block that stopped us from moving forward, every wrong road we turned down, my grandfather would just laugh and say, "Well, I guess we'll go this way!" with a big grin on his face and his shoulders relaxed. I would laugh too, and we'd just keep going on.

Eventually I said it would be fine if he wanted to go somewhere else, where we could find parking. He said he didn't care, that we could do whatever I wanted. So I suggested we go elsewhere, and he thought that was good.

He asked if I'd ever been to the Gerst Haus, a German style restaurant on the East side of Nashville. I hadn't, but told him it sounded fantastic! He and my grandmother have both been to Germany on several occasions and they love the cuisine. He talked on and on about their oysters -- the oyster rolls, the fried oysters, oysters on crackers -- and then couldn't believe me when I said I'd never eaten oysters. Needless to say, we ordered some oysters as an appetizer.

I'm now a fan.

The restaurant was a darling little place, with stone walls and a great big, heavy wooden door like those you imagine when reading Robin Hood. We stayed there for quite some time. He asked me about my future plans for college, life after that, told me stories about him and his friends in Germany and the way life goes on there. We had a wonderful time together.

As we got in the truck, we were both getting settled in and he said, "Susan. You know your grandfather loves you with a passion?" I smiled warmly. He paused, then continued. "I want you to know that you can always come to me with any questions, if you ever need anything or just want to talk. You can call me, e-mail me, shoot, you can even text me!" We both laughed. "Now, I won't do you any good talking about subjects, I might hurt you there," and I knew he meant mathematics, English composition, etc., and I grinned. "But if you ever want to talk about life, I can help you with that."

I have the greatest grandfather. He has the sweetest heart and the strongest passions. He also wears cardigans and flat caps, which says it all.

We drove home on Vietnam Vets. We were about halfway home when he turned to me and said,
"Well, what do you think? Did we solve all the world problems today?"
I laughed, "Definitely! I think we covered it for sure."
"I think you're right. We'll have to do this again some time and solve all the world problems that'll happen between now and then."
"You are so right. What will anyone do when we're gone??"
He laughed. "They'll just have to make do without us."

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The way birds cock their head in curiosity
The way leaves on a tree hang furiously onto their limb in a storm
The way a mother kisses her newborn child
The way rain droplets make ripples in a pond
The way little kids giggle
The way clouds drift
The way a field of grass dances
The way the back of a man's neck feels
The way the stars shine in the country
The way hot tea smells
The way flowers make me feel beautiful
The way that fire demands your attention
The way a father smiles on his daughter's wedding day
The way my cat thinks he owns me
The way an amped up bass resonates inside your chest cavity
The way a book makes you feel like you've lived its story
The way a stranger smiles awkwardly
The way worms bury into even the most solid ground
The way winter makes you want to bundle under your covers at night
The way breakfast smells at 7:30 in the morning on Saturday
The way the hue of sunlight changes throughout the course of a day
The way the perforated cardboard on top of a kleenex box peels off
The way an old man looks smoking a pipe
The way ice cycles hang
The way the wind feels against my neck when my hair is pulled up in a mess

Get on my level.
Parsley flakes.

To Cook Pasta...

I'm writing this sitting in the middle of my kitchen floor, waiting for my pasta noodles to boil. I thought, Hey, people need to know how to cook pasta. It's the universal thing-of-smiles. So here's a seven-step process for those in need of knowledge:

1. Check your pantry for pasta noodles. If you have none, you can stop at this step.
2. Check your fridge for pasta sauce. If you have none, you can stop at this step.
3. Dig through your cabinets and find a usable pan that looks relatively clean.
4. Boil some agua. Watch out for exploding pockets of air.
5. Break your noodles and throw those bitches in the pot!
6. Let it cook for about 12 minutes. Use the down time to broaden your horizons and do something productive. Or blog.
7. Drain the noodles, drench your bitches in pasta sauce, and go to town! No forks necessary.

I could defs write a Dr. Phil-esque How To Cook Pasta guide. My water is currently boiling over though, and it would not be optimal for water to spill onto my laptop.

Sayonara, fellow Cookers of Noodles.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

I was going to go to bed, but is it alright if I converse with you for a moment?

Call it the plague of writers. Call it craziness. I need to write now, but I've no particular thoughts you'd be fond of. I can tell you this won't be promising. But I need to write.

Have you looked at the moon?

I absorb every note of sound. I do. I thought about it long ago and concluded that sound waves bombard the body and sink into the pores and openings and resound within our bone cage. Our turbulent tummies and inner organs all make sounds. Not very pleasant, but a miracle no less than music. How do you even define music? The moment you define anything you limit its capabilities. That thought has bothered me lately. Just by naming something we do it an injustice. And yet we take such care to name our children. Is that, too, an injustice? I would initially think it wouldn't have an effect simply because the child grows up to be whatever destiny planned for it. But to think that would change the rules of naming and would be a double standard, as we certainly limit what a tree is by calling it a tree. We certainly have ruined it. Who am I if not Susan Elizabeth Willis? How have I been unjustly named? I don't feel at a loss. But then, I'm not a tree.

I tell lose one thing and it's gone forever.

But that's not always bad.

I wonder if sound mimics life. Or rather, if it was meant to mimic life...I don't believe the scientists! Who are they to say that sound emits waves of a circular pattern that expand into larger circles? No. I think sound is a damn good con artist. What if sound is actually five dimensional? Emitting waves in the shape of mountains. What if each wave was a different color...every single sound wave that ever existed. Or no no no, what if sounds of the same frequency were the same color, and sounds of another frequency were another color, etc.? Mmm...listing to music would be so beautiful then...

Have you ever scientifically examined your body? It's positively incredible. Arms, legs, hands, elbows, eyes, tongues, go down the list! I love to stare at my hands and think about the bones inside and all the ligaments moving in perfect sync with my brain to contract my fingers or open my hand. The veins in them. The finger nails that protrude from your flesh. Really, we're all just weird. But we're beautifully weird.

I think I'm satisfied. Of course, selfishly so. I only desired to relieve my mind. I needed to write.

Have a good night, reader.


"I Was Not Magnificent"

Experimenting with the mind I don't think is difficult. But it can be dangerous. To play inside of an area to which your brain has restricted all access. But you can do it. Others can do it for you. I don't think our mind exists in the state where we believe ourselves to exist. Our mind exists in every corner and highway where our body had traveled. We have memories because we're connected to our mind.

I'm just talking late-night shit.

But what if it were true? How can we pinpoint the mind? I think it must float with us through life, like a dolphin might swim beside a fishing boat in the sea. There. Sometimes beneath us. Sometimes right at our eye level. Sometimes it leaves and comes back. Playful. Beautiful. Unable to quite be contained.

Now I really am talking late-night shit. And it's not very poetic or clean. But thoughts aren't always poetic and clean. Nothing is ever poetic and clean! Poetry. The mind.

And the silence of ten thousand angels fell to Heaven's floor
It beat the earth's atmosphere
It pounded on our door
But we cannot hear silence.

Monday, June 4, 2012

What a Kid Wants (What Adults Often Fear)

Have you ever had the insatiable desire to run? I don't mean that feeling of "Oh God, I've eaten too many chips and chocolate bars this week. I need to hit the gym, now!" I mean those spurts of energy your body gives you where you feel the need to sprint as fast as you can for as long as you can!

I love watching little kids race. It seems like they're always wanting to just run somewhere, and get there as fast as possible. A little boy might turn to his friend on the playground and spontaneously shout, "Race you to the fence post!" The two would take off like tornadoes through the grass with complete disregard for any opposition the parents might display about such "dangerous" behavior.

But I say, You go for it, kids!

I ran cross country in high school my Sophomore, Junior, and Senior year. I was never very competitive, but I enjoyed running and staying in shape. We'd run three to five miles on an average day, sometimes between seven or eight miles. I always loved running. I loved the steady rhythm my body would get into as my feet brushed the pavement. But when race day came, there was only part of the race that was fun- the finish. Why? Because that's when you would sprint with every ounce of energy in your tired body to beat the girl beside you and cross that finish line one standing place higher if you could make the cut. That's what was fun.

I'm thinking about this right now because I experienced that feeling tonight for the first time in a long time. I was working out early in the evening and had taken a break for dinner. Once my food got settled, I went outside to relax a bit in the evening air. The sunset was looking beautiful and the weather was refreshing. I was still wearing my running shorts, tennis shoes, and workout jacket when the feeling hit. All of the sudden, I was energized. Electrified. I needed to run, and I needed to see how fast I could run. I made a loop around the property, cutting close to the field, running out by the blackberry fence row, around the back side of my grandmother's barn, across the driveway, down the back stretch! I saw the field again and increased my speed, pushed my limits, and hollered for my cat to come join me (as he sat apathetically beside the swings licking his nose and staring at me). I blew past him and began slowing down, catching my breath, and then walked back to the maple tree.

It was fun.

I hadn't experienced the sensation of running for fun in years. My running has always been motivated by a desire to stay in shape or to relieve stress. And it works well for both! But I'm glad that I got that feeling tonight. Perhaps the enthusiasm I felt can't quite be conveyed here, but if you've never experienced that, reader, then I leave you with this:

If you ever get that spurt of energy, that absolutely insatiable necessity to feel the wind blow past you while you sprint, don't suppress it. I don't care if you're in a shopping mall! Security might hassle you a bit, but to hell with them. You're just exercising your right to exercise ;)

Running for the fun of it is often the activity of small children who haven't any back problems, knee issues, or bone deterioration. BUT. There's something about those little spurts of adrenaline that I think everyone wants or has at least experienced once in life. It's one of the small pleasures, of course. One of the little things that makes people happy. I wouldn't call it a good day if my car broke down, my insurance dropped me, and then, oh, I had a spurt of of energy so I ran a hundred yards. But you get the idea.

Run for fun. It's fun for one. Once and you're done. Go be happy.
You guys, I'm laughing right now. I don't know why I ever posted a "blog direction", lol. Lord knows I'm just going to keep posting whatever comes to mind.

However, I do have every intention of keeping with the set posting times. I hope to be writing every day to every two or three days. I'm working on a post right now, actually.

I'll just keep writing. Yall just keep stumbling upon my blog =)


Sunday, June 3, 2012

Alright. I have been trying to restrain myself, people. I have been. But I just can't contain this any longer. I've already posted on Facebook about it....I've tweeted about it a thousand times. I just think that if we're going to be honest, you should all know who I'm in love with...

Elton John is my man.

(And trust me. I am exhibiting restraint even now, because there are about 50 other pictures of this man that I want to include in this post. Just FYI, people.)

A Clerical (Comical) Error

I just realized that my very first post following my "blog direction" had absolutely nothing to do with any of the three focuses I ascribed to the blog...Sorry folks. You'll have to work with me!

Can We Really Imagine?

In our back yard sits a simple but sturdy wooden swing set. My father built it for us kids when we were little. Two swings, a pull-up bar (for him and the boys), and a shooting stand (also for him and the boys). My sister and I used to spend every day of our summers out on those swings, pretending that we were on a great ship at sea, thrashing about and attempting to switch places with one another without touching the ground and in the torrent of two wildly ferocious swings...

The set is old now. It's sunk some into the ground, the wood splinters easily, and the chains supporting the swings have thoroughly rusted over. But I, being the last one at home, still love that swing set and frequently sit out there for hours. Of course, we've raised the seats to accommodate my height. It faces the field behind our house and the woods just beyond the field, creating a very serene atmosphere in the early morning and in the evening. There is a maple tree growing to the left of the set that has been there since I was born, and has grown well above the height of our house. It's a wonderful place to sit and think.

And that's just what I was doing today.

As I sat in the evening rays of the sun, I began to think about creation. Not just the creation of our world and universe, but how a person creates. What do they use to conjure a "created" image or a "created" idea. Any new creation is deemed the result of imagination. But how do we imagine? Where is our imagination coming from? While I've learned not to trust binaries, I did come up with one: either we have the power to create new and original things not seen on this earth, or we have absolutely no power to create anything whatsoever.

Seems drastic.

But think about it for a moment...when a child draws some terrifying monster to scare away a girl in his second grade class, what does he "create"? A big dragon with five heads and wings that leave a trail of purple fire wherever he flies. He might even have scary orange stripes and a single horn on his head that he uses to spear little second grade girls, as the boy might tell his classmate.

In itself, that picture might seem like a creation indeed. There are, of course, no flying five-headed dragons in the area. But if you deconstruct the creature, you find ordinary body parts- a head, like humans have; wings, like a bird has; fire, like excited cave men have; stripes, like a zebra has. The only thing the boy's mind did was combine things that already existed in his mind due to some experience and then twisted it around some. So I present the question: can we really create anything at all? Or is everything the recycled twist of what we've seen with our own eyes?

Let's Talk Logistics For a Minute


Alright, blog readers. Here's the deal. I'm back on for good. I hope to be posting every day to every two or three days, only longer if I'm on vacation or have an unexpected crisis.

I appreciate all of your views, as my numbers have been going up steadily and quickly since I began this blog sometime last month. It feels good to know that people enjoy reading my work...or that they at least get redirected here by Google...or even if it's one person reviewing the page a million times. Shout out though to my readers in Russia and Qatar! Had some in Germany as well and in the United Kingdom! I'm excited that the blog is beginning to attract some international viewers. Even, as I said a moment ago, if it's only by accident ;)


I really am just a hippie at heart who loves people and likes to think. When I began writing, I was mostly pouring out whatever thoughts I had, including original poetry. But I've noticed that most of my writing focuses on two subjects -- the stars/universe, and matters of religion and faith. (There is also the occasional call to arms piece when I feel like we need to question something that's currently not being questioned.)

I've decided to hone in on these two topics as a blog focus, as well as incorporate a third- politics. I know hippies usually avoid politics and carry signs promoting love, not government. But like I said, I am a hippie at heart. I can't quite be confined to one persona or stereotype. I have recently become nearly obsessed with politics. The obsession stemmed from a desire to know what's going on in the country and to be able to speak knowledgeably about current issues and events. I found myself recently pouring over our the White House website ( and reading the downloadable documents on foreign policy...and I found it interesting. Now, rest assured I shan't be quoting foreign policy to you here on my blog. Rather, what I would like to do is to write engaging pieces on current government affairs. We'll see how it goes. I may find that I prefer reading about politics to writing about it. Feedback would be very helpful as well, and you can leave comments at the bottom of any blog post.

Thanks again to all my readers!


False Piety

My experience in church this morning was interesting. I'm not sure whether to think it comical, disheartening, or frustrating. A bit of all three perhaps. But I won't scrutinize, nor bother with the details. I observed something in Bible Study - an atmosphere, an unspoken awkwardness - that I've always known but never thoroughly analyzed until today. It's the lingering pressure in the room for members of the class to exhibit their piety and righteousness, accompanied by a studious nature and a ready answer from the Holy Word of God. Why is it pressure? Why is it uncomfortable? If we're discussing matters of faith and everyone there is a good devout Christian, then shouldn't we be sitting up straight with our Bibles laid open and our eyes fixed on the teacher?

I think there's a reason we don't. I think there's a very good reason. I think it's right in front of us and no one is questioning it.