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Monday, December 24, 2007

desecration & atonement

i can't stop thinking about how casually the entry mentions it. i mean, it seems to fit right in with doing the dishes and taking out the trash. it repulses me. (the football one too. the only reason that one sounds significant is because it was a surprise, or exciting, or something.)

it repulses me how disrespectful the person was. it repulses me how you let the person be that disrespectful. it repulses me, the way you thought of pi at the time. it angers me. and i'm frustrated that i seem to be carrying the weight of it, even though it's so far in the past and you're different now. we're different now.

but even when i was that age, experiencing some of those things, i always assigned it great significance. i never knew what that significance was, but i knew something important was happening. and i was committed-- naively, imperfectly, temporarily, genuinely, wholly committed. and i'm angry that i seem to have this stupid holier-than-thou perspective, as if i'm somehow better because of these things. i'm not!!

i'm angry, and disappointed, because it is so rare for me to think, "that is very unattractive." i don't know how to handle it.

relationships... i've thought of them as (and pursued / engaged in them as!) sacred, ever since the beginning of my relationship with God. i haven't been consistent or perfect-- in fact, i have my own sordid history of sacrilege-- but i began well and am ending well. and i helped others, many others, to do the same. am helping! and i know this doesn't make me a better person than anyone else, but then i have to wonder, "why am i not as repulsed by my own self as i am by these stories you tell me?"

i should be. i have been! ...but that doesn't solve the problem for me. i don't know why.

~ ~ ~

i even dreamt of it. i remember asking you questions about it, and waiting for you to ask me how i felt about it all. i remember starting to have a conversation about it with you, but then we arrived at your family's house for Christmas festivities. i said hi to your grandma (the one i like more) and then the dream ended. when i woke up, i was angry and disturbed and everything else i've described above. i so desperately wish the entry had ended with, "i wish i hadn't done any of it at all... i feel so cheap" instead of "it's a good thing i didn't take that last step... totally not worth it." i wish i could feel the same conviction you felt (at some point?) about all the cheap-ness. all the desecration.

maybe inaction isn't enough to feel the full weight of redemption. maybe we're being too mainstream evangelical, and not Catholic enough. maybe cleaning house isn't enough; maybe replacing all the old stuff with new stuff is what we need. maybe replacing the bad with good instead of empty is what i'm looking for. maybe penance is about ritual and somatic aesthetics, rather than soteriology.

i don't know. i'm just guessing at this point. i wish i had spent as much time and energy learning from Dogterom as i did from Rybarczyk.

things will change when we have our own home, our own life (and all that that implies). that ritual will be life-changing. heart-changing. metanoia. kairos. i pray it comes soon.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

uniquity

yes... building your power-vocab...

today was unique because, for the first time in several months (if not longer), i was neither tired nor sleepy all day long. i don't understand how this is possible. i don't remember the last time i had a day like this. i guess 13 hours of sleep the previous night/day helped, but that doesn't fully explain it, because sometimes that much sleep ruins me.

today was very unique, and in a good way. how strange for me.

and how much does that fit, that you and i switched places? aren't we always doing that? so strange.

thank you for more fortunes. they comfort and soothe me. my mind & heart gravitate to negatives, and de-emphasize positives. i need your positive-ness in my life. i need you in order to be healthier. please don't ever stop?

Friday, December 21, 2007

un-depress me

...in 3 complex steps.
  1. i don't want sympathy, or empathy... neither is helpful. i have nothing to be depressed about! and i can't be comforted without a reason, even though i'm depressed for unknown reasons. ask me questions that will yield long, thoughtful answers. example: why are you depressed? lol this one is so funny, because i never really know, but i'm always trying to figure it out, so it's almost a fool-proof question. i'll never be able to give you a quick answer, because a simple "i don't know" would be apathetic, which i'm not; but it's also true that even if the explanation is simple and thorough, i can't give that answer, because i never have it. so you'll inevitably get me to think carefully, which is probably what i need when i'm feeling recklessly.
  2. play me something acoustic. it's got to dance between major and minor. that limbo, or twilight, or sway?, is my ear's favorite place to hang. a few jazz chords usually help, too. poetic lyrics, but not too poetic... you know the kind, where you think you know what the song is about overall, but there are a few lines that completely throw you off.
  3. leave me alone. i mean this in a geographical sense, mostly. if you can think of a way to interact with me without demanding any energy from me for you, then you're probly good. i think perhaps this is due to my overdeveloped sense of responsibility, enhanced by my agape paradigm (1Cor13). i think being with people takes so much out of me, not only because of my introversion, but because i am subconsciously (very much so) assuming that i am giving to the other and not receiving anything in return. i have a hard time receiving anything from people, both by will and by nature.

my God-given addiction

i've always made a case for God as the source of beauty, by pointing out that even if beautiful things came about 'on their own,' it still took some doing for people (and only people) to first recognize and then appreciate that beauty. or if the ability to recognize and appreciate came first, then how and when and why did beauty evolve? and if the desire for beauty is man-made, then how come people from every culture have some appreciation for beauty (whatever its form)? and if beauty itself is man-made, then how are we able to create it on purpose, unless we were made with that desire? and why is it that no one is wholly set against beauty itself? that's a good question for you people who believe that evil and fallen-ness have a significant part to play in humanity's story.

anyway. tonight i'm wondering how my life would have been different if i'd been given no potential for musical expression at all. i've never met or heard of anyone who doesn't like music, any music... which is why this paragraph is the second of this post, and not the first. back on track though: when i'm depressed, music is the only thing that can fully soothe me.

but what if i were an unsophisticated, tone-deaf simpleton? then where would my peace come from? sleep and music are my escape from excess of emotion, and sleep does not come on demand. where would i be without this drug?

i think Music is the only person who consistently meets me where i'm at.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

goodbye

From: Isaiah Micu
Date: Dec 20, 2007 10:36 PM
Subject: Re:
To: anymouse

[name removed]~

whatever you've done, or haven't done, is forgiven. don't be sad for too long; friends come and go. i've been learning this the hard way. you know it already though... anyways, i'll always be your friend, even when our friendship is only memories.

you aren't missing too much with me gone... i know you'll keep growing, especially as you chase after & figure out & work for what's Good and Right. i know God will bless you & Eddie through all that..

if you see any mutual friends of ours, you can tell them to give you a hug for me. =)

write me anytime.

Love,
isaiah

Monday, December 17, 2007

old friends

preface: according to isjamic blog-mythology, the term 'anymouse' came about when sister Hannah Micu (now Hannah Scott, as of Dec. 15 '07) made a simple typo while commenting on one of isaiah's posts. what should have been 'anonymous' got mangled and subsequently immortalized. the only permutation known to have been used at the time of this writing is the plural form, 'anymice.'

moving on.

it was interesting to see so many old friends at the reception yesterday. an ex-girlfriend, that ex-girlfriend's now-husband who was once my best friend, my once-best-friend's once-best-friend who became my once-best-friend's best friend right about the time my then-girlfriend became my ex-girlfriend (to be my once-best-friend's girlfriend instead)...

craziness. it really was good to see [most of] them, though. and i said so. they did, too. i hope i see them again. i'd like to make up the movie i missed with them. the movie's not a big deal; but missing out on that particular circle of friends gathering together again for the first time in many, many months, really hurts.

fortunately i've learned over the years how to accept the coming and going of friends (and adversaries). sure, the Eschaton will be pretty suite, and i verimuch look forward to seeing all those people (including some family and good friends i've never met). but i'm okay with the wait. and i'm okay with absence, almost in the same way i'm okay with silence and darkness.

it's actually far more disconcerting to see someone i never expected to see again, than it is to say goodbye to someone i would never wish to leave.


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Isjami
Date: Jun 19, 2007 5:41 PM
Subject: it's a strange feeling
To: Michelle Diaz, Stephanie Uribe, Kejalo, Laura Stuckemeyer, Valerie A. Elwell

it's a strange feeling when someone just... leaves. relief that i don't have to wrestle with that person anymore... doubts about whether i made good decisions... i dunno.

[18:21] anymouse: i dont feel that this friendship can go any further or that we can learn anything more
[18:21] anymouse: i feel that it is time for goodbye
[18:21] Isjami19: that's your decision at this point
[18:21] anymouse: well i wasnt the only person that agrees with this
[18:21] Isjami19: i don't need to hear about that
[18:22] Isjami19: i don't need you to explain yourself, or validate your decision, or anything
[18:22] Isjami19: i decided beforehand that i would simply accept it
[18:22] anymouse: i didnt feel i needed to validate myself i wasnt going to
[18:22] Isjami19: then why did you tell me you weren't the only one who agreed
[18:22] anymouse: because i felt it needed to be said
[18:22] Isjami19: why
[18:23] anymouse: because thats how i feel
[18:23] Isjami19: why do you feel that way about that
[18:23] Isjami19: ?
[18:23] Isjami19: i don't know is a perfectly acceptable answer
[18:23] Isjami19: that's my answer alot of times
[18:24] anymouse: i felt that you should know that im being supported in my decision and [name removed] isnt one of them
[18:24] Isjami19: i'm wondering, why do you feel that way
[18:25] anymouse: because it makes me feel better knowing thaty ou know
[18:25] Isjami19: do you know why it makes you feel better knowing that you didn't decide on your own?
[18:25] anymouse: i did decide on my own
[18:25] anymouse: but i have other people who agree with my thinking
[18:26] Isjami19: do you know why it makes you feel better knowing that you have other people agreeing with you?
[18:26] Isjami19: knowing that i know that*
[18:26] anymouse: thats not why i feel better
[18:26] Isjami19: because it makes me feel better knowing thaty ou know
[18:26] Isjami19: is what you said
[18:26] Isjami19: why does it make you feel better
[18:26] anymouse: i would have made this decision whether people agreed with me or not
[18:26] Isjami19: ok
[18:26] Isjami19: why does it make you feel better knowing that i know
[18:26] Isjami19: that others agreed
[18:27] anymouse: because it means that there was something wrong with the relqtionship and the fact that i was right to end it and you were wrong makes me feel better
[18:27] anymouse: period of sentence
[18:27] anymouse: i need to go
[18:27] Isjami19: lol nice
[18:27] Isjami19: alright then
[18:27] Isjami19: goodbye
[18:27] Isjami19: thanks for being honest

that was [name removed]. the background is, she has ruined things to the point where we can't ever talk without fighting. she takes everything i say as a challenge or insult, no matter what it is or how i say it. she takes every opportunity to accuse me of doing or thinking or saying something wrong; she never takes any responsibility for any of her actions; she blames all of our conflicts on my supposed flaws; and she refuses to change her mind about anything.

finally i realized how terrible things were, and that nothing i could say or do on my own would make a difference.

then i thought, "i have to do something about this, or else the best that can happen is it will stay this bad." so i decided, "obviously we need help. the only road i see available to us is counseling-- someone to mediate and help us communicate, because right now, it's impossible." the truth is, she was making it impossible.

so i e-mailed the pastor of my church-away-from-church, near Vanguard. he knows [her] and they have trust between them. i said, "can you please help us with counseling, if [she] agrees to it?" i asked him that without telling [her] in advance, and i FWD'd the letter to her as well.

of course she just blew up at me for doing so, but i responded with, "we can talk about it and work it all out... if you agree to counseling. because obviously there's nothing else we can do for this friendship." she just accused me over and over again until finally i got her to answer the question. she said she would think about it.

well, she thought about it for a week, and apparently got "advice" from someone-- that is, she told them a warped version of the story to make them see her side of things, and then used their agreement to validate her feelings.

and then we had that conversation.

i always tell them (my girls): "the only way i will ever stop Loving you, is if you tell me to. nothing else, barring death or something extreme like that, life circumstances that force us apart, nothing can stop me. only you can. i can't Love anyone who doesn't allow me to do so; that would be forcing it, and that just doesn't make any sense."

that's why i'm letting her go. no amount of frustration would ever lead me to abandon anyone; commitment is commitment. yes, it was a relief to let her go, because all of my best efforts were just going to waste; she was taking what i gave and spitting it back in my face. she was ruining every attempt of mine to do something right, something good.

that was the end of it, and i am so relieved... i don't know if you know what a struggle it is for me. i am prepared to put myself through anything if it will serve the person i care about, and even if i am hating it, i will still do it because i Love them. but this time it was not serving her, and she asked me to stop. and that's that.

~ ~ ~

From: anymouse
Date: Dec 16, 2007 1:20 AM
Subject:
To: isjami@gmail.com

hey...

i miss you...

my mind is very unsettled right now but i know that when it does settle it will be on you. as i sit here in front of my new laptop (i got it for my birthday this year) i find that words are difficult to make up for lost time. i have realized with great difficulty and pain that our relationship failed because of me. i was a closed thinker and my inability to critically think was affected by, not only my lack of knowledge and experience, but also by my lack of proper medication. everything that you wanted me to be, everything that you pushed me to be, because you knew i could better is what i have become. but i still find myself lacking something since you have been absent from my life. i know that it is said that everyone leaves footsteps on your heart and memories on your mind, but i think you actually dug a hold and put a plaque with your name on it in the hole to make sure i remembered. i will never forget. i have as well become nocturnal with school and everything going on, i have doubts about my relationship and i wish for nothing more right now but to just be in your presence. you have taught me so much and i want to learn more. i miss you so much i cried myself to sleep last night. please......

i dont even know what to ask you for......forgiveness or friendship? both? i miss my best friend, isaiah.

PS. i passed all my classes and will be transferring to CSUF next fall for my bachelors in psychology/communication.

Monday, December 10, 2007

perhaps

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Rachel Micu
Date: Dec 10, 2007 6:47 AM
Subject: Re: youth ministry
To: Isaiah Micu

Hey Isaiah,

Thanks for forwarding that blogspot to me. What an awesome opportunity that was and what a great guy P. Frank must be. I was really impressed with the reply you gave him. It demonstrated an attitude of humility, gratitude, and putting others first instead of making it all about you.

What you may find interesting is that the very comments the kids gave about you that they saw as 'negative', are the very things I think make you a good leader for youth or adults. Your 'style', if you will, is much like Tom Cotter's Y.P. style. - Quiet, get the kids involved in leading each other so they can grow, and no hype, or what some people refer to as enthusiasm. I've seen many very impressive speakers who have such dynamic presentation. These guys get the Youth minister jobs as well as other pastoring positions. Everyone wants to be around them because they love the energy. But it is most often not truly representative of who they are all the time or what God's spirit is doing in their life. They also most often lack practical leadership and organizational skills. People who really get to know them and hang out with them find out that they are just regular guys who talk up a storm and are witty and fun, but are missing the deep sense of self-confidence that makes someone not need to impress anybody.

I loved most of the comments that I read and they made me proud. You went over there and just showed them You. You didn't try to WOW them with your rapier wit, or go out or your way to shmooze each and every youth in the group. You just showed them who you are and how you like to lead. That's awesome! And I don't know where God will lead you, but someday He will lead you to a place of employment that hires you based on those very same characteristics that kept you from landing the job with P. Frank's church.

I love you, Hon. See you this Thursday!
Mom

~ ~ ~

Posted by Choix Du Jour on Sunday, December 09, 2007 at 9:37 PM

Reading the comments about your intern interview left me smiling and, at the same time, frustrated at what is valued in leaders. 15 years ago in a youth ministry class my professor, Gary Zustiak, remarked that churches who have it in their head that the best youth ministers are the up-front & charismatic people are missing out. I was never the up front guy and this one remark got me thinking that maybe God could use me in youth ministry.


The up-front charismatic leader is part of a model which worked well in attractional churches for a while but is on the way out as culture continues to shift. I can see how God has gifted you for the kind of ministry you want to be involved in.

A listener.
A vocal artist.
Someone who quite often thinks before they speak.
Compassion for the hurting.
Someone not afraid of the silence.
Generous with orthodoxy. :)

Ok, I'm stopping there. Clay poked my left eye and I think I'm blind now.
Tomas

Saturday, December 08, 2007

dancing

i really believe i'm not a pubescent penguin. i'm much more like a man who's never seen his own face before.

through the Farmer's Insurance interview yesterday morning, and through this youth internship interview process, i'm extremely thankful (to God and to others) for the opportunity to learn who i am.

i still don't understand why everyone thought i would be good at it. i have always known that few people really know me well enough to say whether i'll be good or bad at something, but this time, for some reason, i had this tiny bit of hope that maybe they were at least partially right about me.

but who knows both me and youth ministry well enough to divine something like that? no one, i suppose.

you could all be proud of me for not entitling this post "i told you so" ...except for the paragraph you're currently reading. =\

~ ~ ~

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Pastor Frank
Date: Dec 8, 2007 5:53 PM
Subject: Fwd: Youth survey info
To: Isaiah Micu

Isaiah,

I am very grateful for your bringing this past Wednesday's meeting to our youth department. I hope it was a good experience for you.

As promised, I am forwarding a summary of the evening's survey questionaire.

There were a number of positive comments. The students did see some real stengths in you. For those we are truly thankful.

As you read, there were also a few growing edges for you to work on, which I hope prove helpful.

For you, one great encouragement I would give you is to have more confidence in your gifting and that the Lord will go before you to speak or lead any audience. On Wednesday you had kids truly ready to engage with you. Yet, many left feeling that they didn't get to know or really see or engage you.

Depending on how you look at that...it can be an encouragement to know that this was something kids wanted from you.

At this point in time, the search team has further narrowed its search to another candidate.

In all things Isaiah, thank you for seeking the Lord in this an testing the waters of call.

I am so glad that you are my brother.

Frank

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Rachel L. Bracken
To: Pastor Frank, Edmund Rybarczyk, Clark & Dawn Sutherland
Date: Wed, 05 Dec 2007 23:40:05 -0800
Subject: Youth survey info

The schedule of the night was as follows:
Game (student-led) - 15 min.
Isaiah spoke about the importance of Bible stories - 5 minutes
Small groups - 30 min
Worship - 20 min

There were 51 surveys total (including 6 leaders).

The following are the questions and the average score out of ten (with ten being the highest rating):

7.24 - The candidate ran a well-organized meeting.
6.04 - The candidate was able to hold student's attention.
5.88 - The candidate helped me grow deeper in my knowledge of God.
6.36 - The candidate brought the Bible to life tonight.
6.59 - The candidate brought teaching that was practical and relevant.
6.45 - The candidate would get along well with our group.
6.32 - The candidate would make a good youth minister.

The comments provided are below:

It's hard to tell what I think of a man I barely saw. He had someone else
do the game and sent us to small groups almost as soon as he started talking. The time he did spend speaking I got the feeling there was so much more to his words that he wasn't sharing. I think he has a lot of knowledge to share and tonight he just didn't. He spoke in a way that was rather dull and uninteresting. I'm not sure Isaiah would be a good candidate. That fact that I know him only made this harder.

-Didn't seem to interact with students

-Didn't take control of the room
-Small group questions were not quality
-Didn't open the Bible

-Would not work well with group


I only rated so low because he spoke for hardly any time and left us with
our leaders. My leader did a fantastic job, but if Isaiah had shared his story and explained what it meant to him tonight would've meant more to me. I liked the singing portion, however, my rating aren't what I really think, it's just that I have incomplete ideas about him.

Kinda boring needs more personality and interaction with students. Seemed
to keep to himself.

Great job but needs to do more talking.


I liked how he sang worship instead of someone else we didn't know :)


He knows his stuff and knows God. But I think that enthusiasm would be
better. I also think that his lesson was good, but I think more explanation would've been better.

I feel like I didn't get a sense of who he was, he wasn't loud and
outgoing and he seemed like part of the high school group.

He is cool. I thought he was in high school and was a student. Lol!!


I like toast.


He didn't talk that much.


I think we need something between Isaiah and Jeremy.


I thought he was alright. He didn't hold my attention much…Boring….


Was too quiet.


Too quiet.


Kept to himself seemed almost too shy to belong in our group.


More Energy!


He's too quiet for our group.


He had a straight forward plan.


He's too quiet.


He is very knowledgeable.


He didn't really bring it o life, but he told us about parts of the bible
greatly.

He didn't really teach but he told us the relevance of the stories.


Too quiet.


He is smart, but I don't think he is right for the Y.G.


Too Quiet.

He didn't do anything except a little teaching and singing. Didn't hear another word, no talking to students.

Needs to do something with us.


Interact.


He has been in church for how long and still never did anything with the
Youth and now he wants to be a youth minister? Think about it.

He didn't teach anything he just has the students talk about the Bible. He
didn't try to talk with the students in free time, he just stayed in the back. He wasn't as prepared as he could have been. He would be an okay leader but not a pastor.

He did not do very well as an actual minister, but he is a nice guy.


I love Isaiah.


Well he would make an amazing pastor but he (Isaiah) needs to learn how to
be more energetic and outgoing talk and know the group. But yet the mood he brings is amazing.

QUIET


I think he could get along with us if he (k)new the group more.
He did though teach me many things. After tonight I have a different feeling!

He needs to sing louder and tell us a Bible story not what he thinks about
it.

I know that Isaiah is very knowledgeable, but a concern I have is how he
would make it understandable to our group. Another concern I have is how he would relate to us, and his ability to handle a group of our energy.

I know he is very good at one on one council advice, but it is harder and
much more challenging when it concerns a large group of people in different stages of life and with different experiences.

Too quiet; amazing singer.

~ ~ ~

i knew all these things about myself already... just not as experientially and certainly as i do now. youthful features: check. quiet: check. i enjoy singing: check. not a good youth-pastor: check. nobody else knew already, i guess, or they would've told me. right? you would've told me, right?

no... i shouldn't hold anyone responsible for teaching me who i am. not through a simple, "so who do you think i am?" so i won't. i could never do that (not at this age). this is life, messy and gradual and complicated and challenging and rewarding (sometimes in unexpected ways).

actually, i think this might be more about what i am than who.

~ ~ ~

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Isaiah Micu
Date: Dec 8, 2007 7:25 PM
Subject: youth ministry
To: Pastor Frank

Pastor Frank,

thank you so much for the opportunity you gave me. i benefited from it in many ways; i'm still processing all of them, still figuring out what they mean to me.

i'm impressed by the wisdom of the group. they know what their values (as evangelical youth ministry students) should be.

i'm grateful for a better understanding of who and what i am. my goal is to be employed, but my higher goal is to have a thorough and accurate knowledge of my purpose in life. i want to know what God wants to do with me, and this process was extremely helpful for that.

i'm disappointed that the students weren't able to take more from the night, but i understand why. i'm continuing to pray for the group and their future youth pastor, and for the search committee, and for you, and for your congregation here in SoCal.

thanks again, for everything: breakfast, conversation, opportunity, care. a pastor's ability to love so many people, corporately and individually (whether members of their congregation of not!) will always amaze me.

see you tomorrow morning!

-isaiah

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

do you enjoy keeping secrets from me?

i only enjoy keeping those secrets which i know will be revealed to you in full later on, and which are pleasant to think about. examples: birthday and Christmas gifts; good news about my job search; something fun that i don't have time to tell you about until later; anything fun that would be better shared in person.

i'm beginning to realize that there's more fueling my anger than what i've discovered (and shared) so far. i'm certainly not looking forward to the days when you'll have to keep secrets from me constantly.

God help me

myself

I want you to know I'm praying for the Lord's anointing, purpose, and blessing for you tomorrow night. Go and be yourself!

I'm proud of you.

Ed

~ ~ ~


you'd think a guy with a PhD who had me in 7 classes would know me better.

i've been trying to justify his lack of understanding, and i think i've finally done it. the truth is, he and i have the same problem, except on opposite ends of the spectrum. he thinks too highly of me, to the point where he thinks can do well by 'being myself.'

and i think so lowly of myself that if i simpy be myself, i'm certain to fail.

then again... maybe that's why he mentioned the anointing.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

the book of isjami

i've got it.

after years of wishing and pouting and occasional muddled thinking, i know how to organize my 'book.' it won't really be a book... i guess it'll be an e-book? anyway, i always sort of wanted to, but i never knew how. i'm not a book-writer! i'm a blog-poster. we're two different animals. i thought i would simply give each post a theme, and have maybe 12 themes total, and people could click a theme and read random posts from each theme that way. but that's too messy and not very interesting or fun.

rather than organize the posts by their own themes, i'll organize my posts by the themes of my chapters in life.

"uh... isn't that the same thing??"

no!! doing the former means that the book would be organized by its own content. the latter means the book will be organized by the content of my life.

"aaaand that makes a difference because...???"

because rather than clicking on [my faith] and reading a post about church, you'll find yourself reading a post about my girlfriend.

"so what?"

so: by organizing them this way, i'll accomplish the following:

the reader will be invited not just to read and reflect, but to read, apply, and reflect. it's easy to see how church affected my faith. t isn't so obvious, even to me sometimes, how my girlfriend affected my faith. this will require me to reflect even further on my life and how its various (and sometimes disparate) parts affected each other, and it will require the interested reader (yes, i'm shooting for a single, solitary interested reader) to do the same... with the help of a little extra commentary by me.

some posts will have multiple labels. the train post (most, if not all two or three of you, have read that one) might list these labels: "faith, intimate relationships, songwriting, generosity." and the post just prior to the one you're reading now might list "perplexity, faith, responsibility."

that's another benefit of writing this thing... the most prominent themes of my life will rise to the top, and i'll be able to take off my glasses for a moment and examine them with the naked eye. you understand, right? i'll be able to take a look at the way i take a look at life!

i hope you realize how transcendentally cool that is.

i don't even know

i always knew, intuitively and now experientially, that embracing romance would wreak havoc on my mind. it's tearing my life apart, too, but that's different because my life needs to be torn down. i need room to build something new, something i can fully own.

dang tangents. as i was saying: romance wreaking havoc. i am verimuch not looking forward to rearranging my values. why should any man have to choose between reason and emotion? where's the potential for integration here? it's a both-and!!

another theme of this transition period, and, i'm sure, of the following chapter as well: "life is messy." and it only gets worse and worse the more you strive. more and more complexity, more and more responsibility; more and more work to do. more kinds of work to do, even. more important work to do.

and this is what i asked Him for, isn't it? "tell me what to do. give me something to do. this is how isaiah can best love You: by being obedient. amen." such an admirable, naive prayer. what have i gotten myself into. i don't even know.

i don't even know.

Monday, December 03, 2007

things you do that infuriate me

top three

#3. when you give up.

#2. when you don't care, and say so; or, when you do care, but think and say that you don't.

#1. when you decide or act or think or speak, without knowing why you're making that decision, performing that action, thinking that thought, or speaking those words.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

identity philosophy

"to do is to be" - Nietzsche

"to be is to do" - Kant

"do be do be do" - Sinatra

~ ~ ~

during my undergrad career, i was a student, and a Christian. for me, that meant that my primary purposes for living were 1) to grow as a theologian, and 2) to love people, particularly those who were in great need of sacrificial love.

now i feel released from both of those. i cannot simply love whoever needs to be loved, the way i used to. that would be inappropriate for a committed boyfriend (and unfair to Valerie). i would like to grow as a theologian, but because i have no tangible goal or purpose for such growth, i lack the motivation.

i ceased to be a songwriter when Andrew got married. i ceased to be a worship leader this past week when Cameron transferred those responsibilities to Danica and Glenda. i no longer lead Vizion, my laptop was stolen a few days ago, i haven't done any real web-work in months, and i have no job.

i'm just sitting here waiting. every once in awhile, i make a phone call or fill out an application or show up for a test or interview. i no longer know who i am because i was depending on my activities to define me.

well, now it's all up to me. no one's making decisions for me anymore. but it's circular, right? in order to decide who i am, i must make choices based on who i am. a non-person is incapable of making meaningful, right choices. a non-person may as well be a random number generator. but i'm not a non-person... it's just that i don't know what my personality is, or how to uncover it. if i am who i am, apart from whatever my uses or responsibilities or activities, then how can i discover the nature of that person? not by sitting around and enjoying myself. but what should i do instead? how can i know what to do unless i know who i am? but how can i know who i am unless i am doing something?

i feel disconnected from everything. i jump back and forth between homes; i can't put down roots. i'm welcomed wherever i go, which is great... but it sucks because if i belong everywhere, then there's nowhere i don't belong, and i have no boundaries anymore-- no way of defining myself.

i don't even know. i don't even know.

dear ghost-of-royalty

we're more acquaintances now than close friends. but i still feel i can ask you this question, because you knew who i was when i still did.

not really sure when i started losing me. maybe it was senior year of college, when i realized that 1) i wasn't being called to vocational ministry, and 2) i was coming to the end of a road i hadn't understood when i chose it. i've said it before, and i'll say it again: that i don't regret my choice. but it's so strange, this limbo. i finished the last chapter, and now i know what the next chapter holds (hopefully, anyway). but who am i in the meantime? if you had to wait until the afterlife to find out whether you were 'saved' or not, how would you feel, if you found yourself waiting in purgatory?

i'm not waiting for good or bad. i'm waiting for me. but i can't wait. me is partly who i decide to be. i used to know who i was and what i was here for. now i feel useless.

i don't know why i'm alive right now.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

back to normal

today was unnaturally happy and peaceful. current events / circumstances are mixed, as always, so that can't explain my amazing mood today. maybe it's a result of my emotional outburst last night. i haven't cried that hard in... forever? never.

but now it's back to the same old angsty me. "what is afflicting me, and how can i fix my life, and why can't i just see the future so i can make perfect decisions?" makes sleeping difficult. hence my title tonight.

my next post will hopefully include a long list of all the ways in which my life is strange right now. things have not turned out any of the ways i imagined they might. (confession: i think i am lost. a perpetual new moon... and in the absence of my guide, artificial lights cast lots for my loyalty. in foolish defiance, i follow none of them, and end up nowhere. eff.)

i need Wisdom, and patience. and courage. pray for these for me?

Monday, November 05, 2007

sun-bathing?!

this is a very odd time of day for me to be blogging.

this is a very time for me to be awake. dang time-changes and... i don't even know. it took me at least an hour to get to sleep last night, but i think i dozed off before 1am! and this morning i lay in bed for an extra hour after i woke up, and when i looked at the clock finally, it was 8:55a!

anxiety attacks, inexplicable urges to be outside, to stay away from my room, fear of the dark... what is that. who is that? last night i didn't even turn on my laptop before going to bed! and i felt better than i had the rest of the week. more at peace. it felt like peace was actually flowing into the room through my open window, maybe to make up for the emotional battles on nights preceding.

i've been feeling the changes in the story for months and months now. what i wasn't expecting was this: that i would become more dependent on people. this is backwards. i'm getting older. i'm supposed to be moving towards independence.

i keep telling myself i need a retreat, but i don't have the resources to take it. i do know that i've been enjoying the changes so far, except for this most recent. i think i'm losing my grip on something essential to my health, something at the core of my personality that's not supposed to change.

this is all wrong. i need to get out.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

this is worship

"because of all these things, friends, by God's mercy i urge you: give up your very bodies to be slain... and then reborn. recognize that you have been given a new, yet very ancient purpose; set yourselves apart and be once again declared good by God Himself. this is worship.

do not be like everyone else around you. instead: make new every habit, every thought pattern, your entire paradigm, and let that renewal change your whole life, completely. your goal in all of this is to know, intimately and with deep faith, what it is that God desires.

and what is it that He desires? know this: that there is nothing better."

- Romans 12:1-2 (IRV)

Monday, October 15, 2007

remember and return

-- March 23, 2003, 12:10 a.m. --

Love is patient. Love waits for you to act, and doesn't become restless
or annoyed when the waiting gets long and tiring.

Love is kind. It goes out of its way to do something nice for someone, especially when it is inconvenient, or especially helpful.

Love is never jealous or envious. It doesn't birth a negative attitude towards someone who possesses something it desires.

Love is never boastful or proud. It will not describe its abilities or accomplishments in order to raise its own value; it will not refuse to see or acknowledge the truth in order to preserve its ego.

Love is never haughty; it does not act superior to others. Love is not selfish; it does not try to work all things for its own benefit. Love is not rude; it will not insult, put down, or discourage others, and it will not be discourteous to anyone for any reason.

Love does not demand its own way. It will make room for others, and be trampled willingly.

Love is not touchy or irritable. It is not easily angered, frustrated, or upset, and it is not grouchy.

Love does not hold grudges, and will hardly even notice when others do
it wrong. It will forgive trespassers; it will not retaliate or take revenge.

Love is not glad about injustice; it rejoices when the truth wins. It is not glad about unfair suffering; it is made glad when truth is revealed and made active.

Love is loyal no matter the cost. It will not abandon anyone or anything to the wear and tear of time, distance, or other difficult situations.

Love endures all. It is not moved by foul weather; it does not yield to apathy, fear, doubt, despair, or disappointment.

Love believes in, expects the best from, and defends those to whom it is given. It always trusts in the best, hopes in the greater good, and stands unmoving when danger threatens.

There are three things that endure: faith, hope, and love. The greatest, the most precious, the most worthy investment, the highest form of service, and the purest relationship, is love: true love. God's love.

Amen and amen.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Credits: C. S. Lewis

i'm committed to an extreme for many reasons, some of which are known to me. one of the most obvious and powerful is probably my desire to be like God. i'll try to say and explain this without sounding arrogant, but i'll probably fail. just so you know.

the more i think about types and degrees of love, the more i realize how pathetic i am. we churchians say that God loves us more than (and in a better way than) we could ever love Him, and i agree with that... but why do we say it with smiles on our faces?! it's not a good thing!

what if your mom or dad told you one day, "as your parent, i want you to know that no matter how hard you try or how much you want to, you'll never love me as much as i love you. and it isn't just that you won't... it's that you're incapable. you just can't. ...oh yeah, and also: the kind of love i have for you will always be better than yours for me." or what if it were your spouse? what if you had already been married for ten years? what if it was your best friend? and what if they were right, and you knew it?

it's stupid. i'm so wretched. even as a person re-made to be perfect & complete in heaven, i won't be able to reciprocate God's love, either in quality or in quantity. and still He loves me. of course, i could pull a fast one and say that He wouldn't be God if all of this weren't true. but that doesn't make my life any easier to accept, and i'll tell you why:

i have this sense that any intimate, committed love should be reciprocal and equal. mutual, right? anyone feelin' me? okay. whether right or wrong, i have that sense. well, this may be possible for two humans... but does it bug anyone else that God will always outdo you? and since things are this way, how can the love be mutual? or perhaps i'm just frustrated that it can't be fair.

for God so loved the world, that He created them even though He knew that they could never love Him as much or as well as He would love them.... and that was BEFORE sin and the Fall.

i dunno. it just feels wrong... worshiping Him, seeking Him, obeying Him. compared to Jesus Christ, i am disgustingly selfish. i seek Him because i need Him; i obey Him so that my life can be right and good, and so that He can be pleased. that's not the same thing! i value the inherent Right-ness or Good-ness of something apart from what benefits i might gain from it, and i like to know that God is pleased with my life, but that's not the same as loving God. how can anyone say they love God? how is it possible? how can YOU say that, knowing how insignificant your love becomes when compared to His? i feel guilty saying it. i feel like a liar.

"if you love Me, obey My commandments." but since when did anyone obey Him just because they loved Him?

what's the worst feeling you've ever had in your life? seriously. think of it. anamnesis. REMEMBER what made you feel that way.

got it?

okay, now: if you felt that feeling every time you did something that pleased God, would you still live your life for Him?

what if God came to you right now and said, "listen: i'm going to give you a choice. you can either follow and love me, and live a life of suffering and unfulfilled dreams... or, you can forget about me and have a wonderfully fulfilling life."

He continues: "this is what happens in choice #1: your family grows to hate you, including your spouse and children; your church accuses you of a wrong you never committed and throws you out; you work hard for 19 years trying to achieve your career goals, but fail miserably and repeatedly; you become addicted to alcohol and marijuana, and spend the rest of your life fighting those addictions but never winning; you lose your temper one day and accidentally shoot your 8-year-old daughter in the eye, and she dies in your arms; you tirelessly study the Bible and do your best to bear the fruit of the Spirit and become Christ-like, but you never progress even one millimeter; ...and finally, at the end of your life, Jesus Christ approaches you and says, 'thank you for loving me in your heart, and for trying to love me with your life. you failed, but the love that you did have counts for something. well done.'"

...and then He says... "but this is what happens in choice #2: you raise wonderful, loving children, and your spouse remains faithful to you and passionately in love with you up until her death at 102 years old, which is also the day you die; you start your own church and bring hundreds to belief in and commitment to Christ; you conquer your bad habits and overcome your worst flaws; you understand the meaning of the Bible, and strive to do what it says, and many admire you (secretly) for your good works and virtuous character; every good dream you ever had, is realized in your life; your parents are proud of who you are and what you've done; ...and finally, when you're on your deathbed (next to your wife, just like in 'the Notebook'), you think back and realize, 'i did all of that for love of others, love of truth, love of right, love of good, love of myself even... and none of it out of genuine love for Jesus Christ.'"

think about those choices, and then pick one.

if you choose #1, and you know how you became the kind of person who could honestly, sincerely say that, then please contact me somehow and tell me how i can become that too.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

dear illuminating-anchor

it saddens me to think that if i didn't know what you were (a massive rock in orbit around our planet, reflecting light from the sun), i'd probably hate you.

i'd hate you because i wouldn't understand you. does that seem right to you?

children are curious, but they don't throw tantrums (tantra?) just because they don't know the answers. they just make up their own answers. like, maybe somewhere out there, a little girl thinks you really are a hole in the sky! or maybe i should mention the various people-groups throughout history who thought you were some sort of deity. they seemed to get by alright, despite being dead-wrong.

but i can't handle the idea of being wrong. it's actually a good thing i wasn't born before Galileo and all that lot, because i would've gone insane. but maybe i am anyways, so it doesn't matter.

been awhile since i've written, but you know how it goes. in fact, you've been around for alot of my life-changing moments, so you understand at least a little. that's good to know. that's a big reason why i keep writing you.

hopefully you'll hear from me again soon.

~ just a singer

Monday, September 24, 2007

decoding Christianese

is tough, because i grew up in the culture. how does a fish explain what water is? chances are it's never not been in water. it probly doesn't even know water exists. awkward.

but thanks to my analytical, over-critical mind, and thanks also to a high-quality theological education at VUSC, and thanks lastly to my fallen anti-Christlike nature, i am now capable of looking at my faith from the outside.

this post's term to decode is spoken a little differently by each person, in each situation, but the core of it could be expressed like this: "rely on God's strength, not your own."

to this admonition the young, naive, devout Christian will probably respond, "ahh yes... what profound spiritual wisdom. i will do my best. Father, please help me to do this." but a more skeptical, questioning, annoying Christian will respond, "what the heck is that supposed to mean?" and if there is some combination of devout and critical, the response will probly be something like "teach me how, and i will."

fortunately (for all types of Christians), this phrase has biblical roots. i'll let you find them yourself, since you need to be studying anyway. try Proverbs, to start. anyway, its lofty origin makes it a trustworthy statement, as long as we decode it in some useful, practical way. here's how i did it:

i am in a constant war against myself. sometimes i win, sometimes i lose. recently i've been losing some critical battles, and it came to the point where my country was about to be completely overrun by barbarian hordes. first i tried just letting them loot, hoping they would leave. they didn't. then i tried fighting for the cause of freedom (for my country's inhabitants). that didn't work either. i tried giving my allegiance to a greater nation, one that could bolster my own forces. failed again. i even tried building huge walls... that one was probably the funniest attempt, since i ended up building gates in them. without locks.

a few days ago i thought to myself, "there has to be some solution. i can't keep living like this, letting the barbarians ravage my land, as well as the land of my neighboring countries. i need to protect myself and my loved ones. but i feel i've tried everything!"

the solution turned out to be a pretty simple one. i thought back to the first time i ever knowingly, willingly gave my allegiance to anyone/anything else. i was a freshman in highhomeschool, sitting alone one night, when i suddenly realized, "i can't do this alone. i need God." that's the first time i prayed to Him and actually knew Who i was addressing. and i said to Him, "i need You, and i will always need You, and right now, i promise to seek and serve You."

my oldest contract, and my strongest. it strengthened and weakened, back and forth over the years... but over time, as i grew more knowledgeable and more independent, i came to rely completely on myself. the old allegiance was completely forgotten, still binding, but out of sight and out of mind.

back to the present: i pulled it out the other day, and read the last line of the contract. it says, "Jesus Christ is LORD."

the oldest confession of the Christian church, spoken at a time when Caesar was considered Lord. and not just king, or ruler, but God Himself. when i think of the title "Lord," i think of the one who owns it all. i think of the one who always gets his way. i think of someone who is to be obeyed unquestioningly.

the first time i related to God, the first way in which i related to God, is wrapped up in that confession. Jesus Christ is LORD. He owns me. even if i completely reject Him, or forget Him, or ignore Him... in the end, He still owns me. in the end, i still bow.

that night as a 9th grader, i knew for certain that i needed to give Him my total allegiance. i knew i would lead a worthless, useless, pointless, foolish life, unless i became subservient to Him. i had never been more sure of anything in my entire life. i look back on it now and see that i was convicted of the truth; i didn't just realize it. it was branded on me, at the core of my being.

over the years i forgot. kind of like Israel. i'm... i don't have a strong enough word. i would tear my clothes and put ashes on my head if that were my culture. i'm distraught, or horrified, or dejected, or ashamed, or intensely sorry... all those things. i feel so bad that it took this much ruin for me to finally choose redemption, to finally return to that initial promise i made, but i'm glad that it happened, and so far i've found that it's the only claim on me that beats everything else. it's the trump card; it's my M.O. i've tried everything else, and failed every time. Jesus' LORDship is the only allegiance i care about, enough to continually deny myself.

so every time the barbarians attack, i say, out loud: "Jesus Christ is LORD."

sometimes the barbarians retreat, and i feel a sense of peace. sometimes i feel nothing. sometimes they continue beating at the walls. sometimes they scream obscenities and hurl corpses over the walls, reminding me of all their victories, blaming me for the deaths of my subjects and my friends. sometimes, instead of fighting, they send forth their diplomats and public speakers to make persuasive arguments; they tell me they've already won, or that they have a right to enter my domain, or that the simple act of acknowledging their presence has already compromised my kingdom's safety. sometimes they tell me that if i just send all my kingdom's treasures out through the gate, they'll depart quietly and never tell anyone of my defeat.

regardless of whatever else happens... every time so far, my spoken allegiance to the only rightful ruler has kept me from failing. please understand this: my love for Valerie has proven insufficient. my stubborn strong will (no one is more stubborn than me) has proven insufficient. my fear of consequences has proven insufficient. my desire for a virtuous character; my friends' support and encouragement; my parents' constant prayers for me; my lofty goals in life... all insufficient.

~ ~ ~

for me, right now, to rely on God's strength is to know without a doubt that He is LORD over me. i have to add those last two words to the ancient Christian confession because if He is simply LORD, then i can still defy/disobey Him and not care. for some reason, that initial promise i made has survived brutal raids and countless defeats. i am His, and no one else's... not even my own. He tells me what to do. if there is anyone to give allegiance to, it's God: the One Who will never force you to give it, the One Who deserves it most, the only One Who can be trusted with it.

again, but put differently: to rely on God's strength is to be obedient to Him, regardless of your feelings, thoughts, situations, or any other convictions or loyalties. when i say it out loud, i realize (even or especially when i don't want to realize!) that no matter who i think i am, or what i think i can do or get away with, He is simply, unquestionably, eternally, independently, uncompromisingly LORD.

hear me clearly: as a Christian, you cannot give your allegiance to your family. you can serve them, but serve Christ first, and then your family. neither can you serve yourself, unless you are foolish enough to think yourself an autokrator. you cannot be His subject on some days, but not others; obviously you can disobey Him, but if you're a Christian, you disobey Him as His subject. there's no trial period, no 2-year-plan option, no free night minutes. if you give yourself to Him, you are His. period. no qualifications, no provisos, no fine print.


how did this become a sermon? crap...


well. just pretend i'm preaching it to myself. because really, that's exactly what i'm doing.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

unbelievable

i know what comes next.

they say there's that rut in the road immediately following graduation, which some people use as a springboard to the rest of their lives, while others get stuck in the mud and spin their wheels for awhile. i'm one of the latter. i probably earned it for myself by way of laziness and other character flaws-- i've spent enough blogtime on those already-- but, strangely, i no longer feel the need to dwell on those. i guess i have more important things to think about.

"what things?"

oh, you know... plans... for the future...

"what plans? i thought you had no clue."

well, see, that was true for a long time, and i called that long time a 'transition phase'... which is not only strange but comical as well, since a transition phase only comes before some 'next phase,' and since i didn't know what that 'next phase' was, i had no right to assume such a thing even existed. =D

but now that i've discovered / decided my future, i do have that right, and i intend to take full advantage of it.

~ ~ ~

Valerie~

part of the tension i feel about deciding how much time to spend in so-Cal this next trip, comes from the feeling that i owe myself to this phase. i have responsibilities at church, relationships with family members, friendships with people here-- friendships i've waited 3 years (@ VUSC) to return to.

but now i see how i've set myself up. i so looked forward to coming home that i never looked past it. there were other reasons for my short-sightedness as well, of course, but this one is particularly significant now. i had subconsciously resigned myself to the idea of being 'in-between' in life, and my over-developed sense of responsibility (to many people, ideals, etc.) guilt-tripped me for staying put. but i had nowhere else to go! volunteering at church was a mistake, in that regard, because i may have taken that opportunity not just to serve others, but to avoid an uncertain future.

my personality is such that i refuse to move forward until i know where i am going. but, just as in our relationship, i needed to take a few steps forward before discovering my destination. that first one-on-one conversation with your dad was my chance to wake up and realize where my life had gone. i hadn't even realized it until he asked me. i know what my destination is.

of course, i couldn't have known until after you cast your spell on me. enchanté, indeed... i should have defined it more fully for you, on the phone last night.

1 : to influence by or as if by charms and incantation : BEWITCH
2 : to attract and move deeply : rouse to ecstatic admiration <"enchanted her to the point of tears" -- Elinor Wylie>

so now i have been moved, and now i can move forward of my own volition. and i have decided to move towards... well. you know. ;)

but getting back to the point of this blog: the realization that inspired me to write, has very simply to do with the fact that i'm almost done transitioning. the inner struggles, and even the relational struggles, that characterize my life right now make even more sense, when i think of it this way. i shouldn't be surprised; life has always made more sense to me when i've thought of it as a story.

the tension is this: i feel a responsibility to my life here, especially after waiting so long to return to it. but now, with you, and because of you, and for you, i feel other motivations and goals pulling me away again, and that sort of tension gives me pause when i pull up my calendar and weigh all of my options. don't get me wrong, i want to move on! i want... my future. ours. it's just that i have only just finished settling into this rut, and it will take some time and some contemplation on my part before i'm fully ready to leave again, despite the fact that i never wanted to be in a rut in the first place, and despite the fact that i've been suffering a very sullen, pitiful state of discontent with regard to my uncertainty concerning the future. aside from those negative conditions, i sort of like it here, being provided for by my parents, and being with friends and family, and having plenty of time for dark brooding, and being justified in that brooding... or so i mistakenly thought.

but as i said: i'm being pushed & pulled forward. i can't stay here. i don't even
want to stay here. not when it comes down to decisions. i want to keep moving.

you came to me at just the right time, too. right when i needed you most. i should probably add that fortune to your magic box. you don't mind having 122, do you?

it's difficult to be my usual depressed self, right now... i guess i now look forward to you in a much fuller, even a much brighter way. but perhaps the best adjective would be 'unhindered.' so when you say, 'i look forward to...', i can respond not by criticizing your optimism, but by sharing in it. unhindered.

talk to you tonight.

Love
isaiah

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

ten'oio'mellon'amin

Kejalo~

i hope you're still subscribed... i suppose i could check, couldn't i? i am still deciding whether i would be hurt, if i found that you had decided to stop caring about me and my life. i think i would be more disappointed than anything else, not that i expect you to care about me, but i do very much expect you to care about other people. (of course, when i say i expect it, i say that as someone who knows you, not as a parent or even as a peer.) i suspect that aspect of your personality will never change, but will only be strengthened and sharpened as life goes on.

your recent dream, significantly more pleasant than you would've expected (at least at first glance), has caught me by surprise: firstly because it breaks the pattern we've conversed about before, and secondly because this brightening of the situation didn't encourage you at all. can you find nothing positive about the fact that your heart is healing? or at least that your memory has seemingly realized the danger of poisoning itself repeatedly.

i've been living with a paradox lately (surprise surprise). i seem to be learning how to be depressed, and through that, learning how
not to be. it makes sense because i understand that certain things can only be conquered by being embraced and accepted, rather than fought; but at the same time, i have to wonder how it's possible. and now i'm hoping that it's possible for others besides myself.

i may have made the mistake of thinking that i could help you become yourself. if i was mistaken, i wasn't entirely mistaken; all of our life experiences can be our good and wise teachers, if we wisely reflect on them. the mistake may have been trying to teach someone who learns best on lor own. maybe i am more of a rest-stop than a GPS device.

i have a request. it is not advice, although i hope you take it to heart. it is not a correction or a judgment of your character, of your choices, or of your personality; if anything, it's an admission of my own. i don't expect you to grant it, and i'm not the hopeful or optimistic type, but i would lack integrity if i didn't make the request at all.

please don't hold a grudge against me for any of my failures with regard to our friendship, whether they were mistakes or shortcomings on my part. i am not entirely sure what to ask forgiveness for, but every time i think of you, i wonder if you have any hatred left for the 1,000 miles between us.

genuinely,
isjami

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

dear supernatural night-light

i've just finished saying goodnight to you, face-to-face, but you peek in through my window... just like a good stalker should. you're my role-model in more ways than one, i suppose. i admire you because you're content with solitude and silence. when it isn't your turn to shine, you vanish, unless someone's looking very carefully for you, in which case you don't mind showing just a little of yourself. and, i love how you are too restless to ever be still, yet so at peace that you never deviate from the paths and patterns chosen for you by your maker. i like that you don't show your dark side to people, even though i can't live that way anymore.

speaking of me (this is my journal, after all)... right now i'm reflecting on one of the best advantages of being a child. the cool thing about being a child, is that it's perfectly okay, and even expected, for you to live a self-centered life. i mean, you have to share with peers and obey parents and stuff, but when it comes down to the things you are responsible for, the things you worry about, the things that motivate you to live, to simply be alive-- it's all about yourself!

as long as your needs are met (which is not only your own primary concern, but the concern of those around you as well, which is nice), you are free to simply enjoy the world. the big questions that have to deal with daily are, "what game should i play? who would be the most fun to play with? how do caterpillars turn into butterflies? i wonder if there are any frosted cherry pop-tarts left... when's Mom coming home so we can watch Toy Story together?" i mean, seriously! that's the life! that's probly why kids are so amazingly creative. they don't have to worry about stuff, so their brains are free to wander in between reality and surreality.

but when you grow up, that gets crowded out by the analytical. it gets crowded out by the demands placed upon you by society, family, friends, a boss, a teacher, a lover. maybe your own ideals make demands of you, so that you are your own creativity's own worst enemy.

on the other hand, you still have a need to be set free once in awhile. for the sake of your own health (upon which most other things in your life depend), you still need time to simply enjoy life, enjoy yourself, focus on just yourself. we're designed that way, right? so now it's this tension between genuine, perfectly valid cares concerning the real world around you... between that, and your own imagination / freedom. and it can't be integration, because how can you dream and worry at the same time? no; sorry, Rybarczyk. it has to be balance this time. they
are pitted against one another, worries and imagination.

~ ~ ~

imagination was my life once. as a kid, i had the internal freedom i needed to enjoy school, enjoy daydreaming, enjoy whatever. now my concerns rule me, and in their self-righteousness they will not be diminished by some carnal, selfish need, even if it is the need to just dream. my world demands my attention; to ignore it, even for a moment, would be irresponsible. i cannot, even for a few seconds, leave my own castle. and everywhere within it, court officials and needy petitioners follow me like shadows. noisy shadows. suffocating shadows.

i enjoy sleep and singing so much, because they are my only escape. even my greatest joy, my most intense, intimate relationship, is not free of worry; if anything, it is the issue most in need of my attention. it creates new concerns, new worries, new pressures and demands and stressors. concern crowds out joy, limits freedom, stifles imagination, keeps my soul from breathing deeply. except when i'm asleep or singing, i'm running at a grueling pace... or i'm thinking about the fact that i should be, which is just as tiring.

someday i'll relax, perhaps. but only when my world no longer needs me to rule.

i would gladly throw my crown at the feet of some worthier ruler.

Friday, August 03, 2007

ruin

i've killed more than you know. 'maimed' is a good word; i'm glad you thought of it. but really, it still isn't strong enough. what's in between 'maimed' and 'murdered' on the bodily damage scale?

i am not just making new plans, because of you. i'm giving up plans. i'm changing plans. i'm actually sacrificing a huge chunk of my life, a very profound part of who i am, for you. or maybe i'm just redirecting and focusing it in to a more exclusive area. i'm neither boasting nor asking for recognition or appreciation; i just need to blog this. i need to speak it into existence, so it's more real to me.

i'm giving up potential friendships, and the good that could come of them. in my life these past several years, what have i valued more? what have i invested more in?

the post's name is 'ruin' rather than 'sacrifice' because the sacrifice doesn't bother me nearly as much. the ruin: that's my own, and none of your doing. i alone am the reason certain people will never get to enjoy me or benefit from me as much as they might have.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

paradox of values

in my experience, the word 'dependence' or 'dependent' almost always has negative connotations. we want to be independent. we want to be powerful enough, wise enough, to go it alone. we want to be self-sufficient, and we spend our entire lives working towards that goal. we want to be financially independent, and socially independent (from our parents, at least).

i want to break down that stigma and reveal one of society's lies. independence may be inherently good, in many cases, but dependence is not inherently bad.

children are dependent. so are employees. how about animals? some creatures depend on other creatures which are entirely different from them. most living creatures depend on air, water, food, protection of some kind...

what gets me is that i seem to be emotionally dependent on things/people. if i had three wishes, i'd use one of them to become emotionally independent. then i might even be able to choose what i'm feeling whenever i want! i could still let myself be affected by things, but i'd have final say in those experiences.

children, employees, animals... these are good examples of dependence. but here's the one i first thought of, and it's probably the strongest: spouses. any husband or wife with a healthy marriage relationship is very dependent on lor spouse, and only becomes more so as time carries the relationship onward! the stronger their relationship is, the more they depend on each other.

that baffles me. as messed up as the world is, i don't think anyone would say "marriage is inherently bad/evil." and yet marriage is the epitome of dependence, and the world definitely seems to be advocating independence!

we do it in dating relationships as well. in fact, some people get into those relationships because they are already dependent people! we would all frown upon this (stigma), and yet we acknowledge the fact that healthy romantic intimate committed exclusive relationships constantly foster dependence between the two lovers!

my parents just recently celebrated their 25th anniversary. imagine if my mother died tomorrow. due to their strong, enduring marriage, Dad would have an emotional breakdown.

i know marriage has many inherent risks and dangers, but that's just wild. here's a translation of what people are really saying when they make their vows at the altar:

"i now pledge to you my whole life, such that if you die, so do i."

now, friends, don't get all fussy; i'm only slightly exaggerating. some of you know the deep, excruciatingly painful void of losing a loved one. imagine being married to that someone who dies.

last night i was lamenting my emotional dependence. i experienced a deep depression, not new to me, and finally identified the source (with some help from C. S. Lewis' the Four Loves). this morning i was considering writing it off as a heart palpitation (basically a mild electrical malfunction). but now, i have to admit that, considering my circumstances and recent life-adventures, that depression was very understandable.

on the one hand, that sucks, because it means i have to accept them instead of fight them. (i know i'll have more in the future.) on the other hand, it's great, because it means i don't have to fight them. (i know i'd almost always lose.)

~ ~ ~

the trick, then, is not to find a balance between solitude and socializing, but rather to find a balance between dependence and independence. they're similar, but not exactly the same. oh; forgive me, i should rephrase. i need to find a way to integrate my independent aspects with my dependent aspects, so that i can live life as one whole person, rather than as many different parts of a person.

EDIT: didn't C. S. Lewis say something about becoming invulnerable to pain by refusing to ever love or be loved?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

complete selflessness is suicide

a long while ago, i reflected on the fact that i need to be needed. some friends and commenters agreed with me, saying that one of their greatest needs in life was to be needed by others.

recently i've been developing a more frequent habit of preparing myself for loss. i do this by asking myself this question: "self, are you mentally and emotionally prepared to lose this?" in other words, am i ready to accept the disappointment of losing what i value so much? am i ready to fail? am i ready for defeat? am i ready to be let down?

i've found that being prepared for the worst is a very great en-courage-ment for me. as long as i remain afraid of the future, i will approach it timidly and carefully, or i'll not approach it at all (which is worse, in many cases). but if i imagine myself there at the end of a thing, with nothing to show for my efforts except wasted energy and wasted hopes, then i can embrace that future and move forward confidently.

tonight i realized that i fear something other than failure. for a few years now i've had only that one fear, as far as i knew... but honestly, there's something else that scares me. here it is, in question form: what if, one day, i am no longer needed or wanted, by anything or anyone?

that scares me because i'm selfless. selflessness, it turns out, can be very selfish, because what if you're only being selfless for your own sake? what if you value others over yourself, only for the sense of fulfillment you gain from loving for them?

so now i have to ask myself, "are you prepared to be alone and forgotten?" am i ready to live a life that is never missed?

my initial answer, of course, is absolutely not. i want intimacy. as anti-social and solitary as i can be sometimes, i cannot deny my need for relationship. apparently, i also have a need to be needed. this bothers me alot, because it makes me dependent on others for my social well-being.

'well, duh, ij... how can you be socially well without others?'

i'm not really sure. i've always been a very independent person, and i've always liked that about me. but now i find out how dependent i actually am, and it bothers me. alot. i need other people to want me around, in order for me to be happy.

isn't that sucky? doesn't that mean i'm emotionally unstable, if i depend on other people for my own happiness? put another way, this means that whether i'm depressed or not depends on whether anyone cares that i am. and whether or not they express that to me.

let's make things more complicated: even though i want others to want me around, i tend not to believe anyone when they say they miss me. why should anyone miss me? they have plenty of other friends. they have hobbies. they have lives! by contrast: today i did nothing but eat, sleep, take Benadryl, check my e-mail, and wander aimlessly around the house.

at this point, some might say to me, 'well no wonder you feel depressed!' and then i would have to point out that i've just spent two weeks with close friends and lots to do. one would think i'd appreciate some rest and plenty of nothing to do... but nooo. as soon as i'm alone and without any responsibilities, my mood plummets. WHAT THE HECK.

i don't understand myself anymore. i feel like one of those in-between species, one of those missing links that supposedly died out, due to their unfit-ness for survival. i used to be a contented loner, but then i started evolving into a socialite, but i never quite finished the transformation, so now i'm stuck in transition with the worst of both worlds!!

i say i love to be alone, but i'm miserable without others.
i say i'm miserable without others, but i don't want to be with anyone.
i say i don't want to be with anyone, but i want everyone else to want to be with me.
i say i want everyone else to want to be with me, but i'm annoyed when they interrupt my solitude.
i say i'm annoyed when they interrupt my solitude, but i'm sad when nobody does.

something is very, very wrong with me.

back on topic, though. here's the reason why selflessness is suicide: if you only care about others, then you will end up only caring about yourself when other people do. if you enjoy satisfying others, then really you're just satisfying yourself. if you end up not caring about yourself, you won't want to satisfy yourself, in which case you won't care about others anymore, either.

finally, you'll discover that you are the only one you cared about to begin with, but since there's no satisfaction in that, you'll stop caring about yourself. and then you'll be completely apathetic. apathy leads to stasis, and stasis in this world is beset by entropy.

then you'll die.

EDIT: a year ago, i wrote a blog post about loneliness. here's a quote from it: "during those times when no one needs me, i feel that that's when i need others the most."

Saturday, June 30, 2007

orthopathy

that's fascinating. it apparently has two very different meanings. lost in translation? or perhaps found. i think i like that better.

i have this theory: if i never reflected on my feelings-- that is, if i never made an effort to be aware of and identify my emotions-- then they would have complete control over me. but because i am aware of them, i have many battles to fight. so i have this choice: to surrender and save myself the effort of a battle i must repeat daily, a battle i must often lose; or to fight it and hopefully learn something of the art of war.

a pretty simple, and actually, a pretty easy choice for me. but it seems i'm not learning very much. someone send me (or write me! you know who you are) a book on understanding the human heart.

i wonder if some cranky people are simply surrendered people. maybe they're cranky because they feel bad for an unknown reason. i know that'd make me cranky... even if i didn't know that i didn't know i was feeling something i didn't understand, i would still be affected by it. emotions are right there next to our consciousness, and sometimes hiding behind it.

so many of the interpersonal conflicts in my life could have been quickly resolved, or even prevented entirely, if both parties involved had started out with a clear understanding of what they were feeling, and why, and how it was affecting them. so many of my own conflicts in general, could be solved or prevented that way. i could live a much healthier life than i am living now.

sleep is important; i know that. music and especially singing are important. moon-bathing, which probably has to do with some kind of need for beauty, or perhaps a need for something transcendent. being with people is important, and being by myself is important. being awake at night is important, for some reason; i haven't quite figured that one out yet, beyond what i've already said about beauty and being alone. love is important, but it complicates everything, so instead of two armies facing off and taking turns firing, they're using guerrilla warfare and high-tech weaponry and all kinds of crazy Sun-Tzu tactics. i've learned prayer is important, even if i don't believe it will change anything externally.

maybe i have learned some things after all.

but it isn't enough. i need to understand it more. i need to, in order to live life better.