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Friday, December 28, 2012

foolishnesses

one of the best uses i've found for this blog, is to identify foolishnesses. wow, that word isn't underlined in red... i think my blog is finally learning that i have the power to Create and Destroy language.

tonight's foolishness identification is about my search for fulfillment, and the tendency i have to place long-lasting importance on temporary pleasures. and the tendency i have to invest in an uncertain future. and the tendency i have to prepare for what will very likely change.

like the time i decided Cheetos were my favorite snack. i thought that would be true forever. foolishness.

or the time i bought a whole box of Oreos, only to realize later on that i really only wanted three or four cookies.

or the time i wanted to be a paleontologist, and for a year or two all of my birthday and Christmas wish lists (as a child) were filled with dinosaur paraphernalia. this was preceded by my locomotive engineer phase, and followed by my chemist phase.

or the time i poured an entire bottle of bubble solution into my bath, because i figured there can never be too much of a good thing.

or the time i opened a bottle of wine, simply because the same vintage tasted excellent last time... but now the bottle sits 2/3 full and i wish i had just poured myself some tea instead (because that's what my body really needed).

or the time i got married.

or the time i bought myself an ongoing gym membership.

or the time i thought my best friend (at that time) would never change. or the time i did that again with the best friend i had after that.



some foolishnesses are allowed and expected. maybe they are even unavoidable. others are very avoidable, and should be outlawed.

some foolishnesses, i am currently perpetrating. they must cease if i am to get through this without causing any more destruction or regret.

i will begin tonight.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

grey area

i am uncomfortable talking about my social strengths. i don't want to sound like i have a... delusion of grandeur, or... a superiority complex (not sure that's a real term, or the proper term, but since when has my blog cared about academic propriety in the realm of vocabulary??). i really hope that i don't actually have one. but there's no way to express what i'm thinking without taking that risk.

--end disclaimer--

i had a full page typed out, but i just deleted it because i realized that the conclusions to which my introspection had brought me were mostly too questionable to trust. so here goes attempt #2, and it will likely be much simpler and shorter than what i had originally planned. so be it.

in 9th grade i addressed God directly and genuinely for the first time. i had realized that all of the goals i wanted to accomplish in life, all of the things i held most dear (or wanted to hold most dear), hinged on what i decided to do with my faith, my spirituality. and so i told God that i would need His involvement. He responded positively to this request.

shortly after that, i realized that the two most important things in life (to me personally) were pleasing God and loving people. all of my research strongly indicated that loving people was an excellent way to please God, and perhaps my best shot at doing so. thus i decided to do that.

at this point things became somewhat dangerous. i have good friendships with guys, and have since i was young... but when it comes to the emotional aspect of friendships, i relate much more (and much more easily) with women.

"what's wrong with that, isaiah?"

here is what's wrong with that: the people most receptive to my goal in life (loving people) were women who had been 'unloved' in some significant way. i found myself showing patience, kindness, gentleness, commitment, and so on, to girls who were in particular need of these things. i even developed the ability to detect that need in girls, sometimes after only a few words exchanged, and sometimes **just by looking at them.** i also developed the ability to interact with these women in a personal and... effective way.

~ ~ ~

it's time for the FAQ.

"what effects did you have?"

i'll get to that.

"are you saying you emotionally manipulate women for their benefit?"

yes.

"...did you do that to me?"

if you call genuine kindness manipulation, then yes.

"are you my friend just because you think i need someone?"

no. i find you attractive in multiple ways and am very blessed to know you.

"if at some point i didn't need you at all, and the emotional connection faded out, would we still talk and stuff, or would you just peace out?"

that depends on two things: 1) what would you prefer? 2) what is the substance of our friendship apart from the kindness i show to you?

~ ~ ~

the way i describe it here, it sounds like i'm telling the story of how a super-villain acquired his mutation and set himself up for an attempt to rule / ruin the world. at least, that's how it sounds to me. but the truth is that i've used it for good. **always.** i know my sins. i know my failures and flaws. this-- my ability and intention to relate well with women for the purpose of making their lives a little bit more bearable-- is not one of my failures. i'm sure my flaws are mixed in, or perhaps this is a result of them, but i have both intended and accomplished good. i know this to be true and will defend it expertly if needed.

and it is needed, because i myself attack it regularly, and have done so ever since my second or third semester at VUSC.

"why have you done that, isaiah?"

because at least six of these females (in the overall group of maybe two dozen or so, so far) developed romantic feelings for me during the course of my friendship with them. (i say "at least" to imply that the rest may or may not have developed that type of feeling; i really don't know.)

four of them expressed a desire to marry me. they expressed this verbally and in other ways.

(quick partially-tangential flashback: when i was in JUNIOR HIGH, a really attractive high-school girl two grades ahead of me asked me to date her. i turned her down because i knew she wouldn't be satisfied with me, but still. is that normal? maybe it's normal. but if so, it should be normal only for social, charismatic, attractive guys. that's not JH home-schooled bowl-cut isaiah. i shouldn't have to convince anyone of that. okay moving on.)

"so you developed crushes on each other. so what? some girls crush easily."

no, hypothetical-person-who-graciously-serves-as-my-foil. the feelings weren't mutual. i loved them, in action and in my heart, but not romantically. basically i made a really intense and conscious decision to treat them really well. this decision was fueled by many of my strongest personality traits and self-chosen values, so it may have sort of... over-developed. and it turned out to be sort of dangerous. (another funny flashback story: all of this actually has its roots in like 5th grade, when i got angry at all the guys at church for treating all the girls like crap all the time. as a 5th-grader, i decided to be super-nice to all those girls in order to make up for the wrongs always being done to them. affirmative action?? something like that. it was dumb stuff: i opened doors for them, let them cut in line, gophered, etc. i didn't have selfish intentions... i really just thought the guys were stupid and the girls deserved better. this pseudo-chivalry evolved later on by attaching to my fundamental values in a symbiotic way. okay moving on again.)

here's the thing: had i not been a one-on-one kind of guy, or had i related with guys more easily, things would've been really different. a double-handful of interesting things all came together to create this mess that i really need to put a name to, but haven't yet. i should probly do that. maybe it'll work well as a post title (that field is blank at this time).

this is difficult for me to post publicly, because i don't want to make anyone feel less special or valued to me. each of you (most of "you" won't ever read this, but some will, and you are important to me, and i want to be sensitive) is *extremely* important to me. each of you occupies a unique place in my past and my present. each of you shaped / shapes / will shape me in unique ways. i hate lumping you all together into a category, but i must, for the sake of this writing. please understand.

but... look at what i'm saying! isn't it a little odd? doesn't it deserve further questioning? where does something like this fit into society? should i cease to love the people who respond the most to my 'ministry'?

i really don't have the answer to that question yet, though i've been asking it for years.

hold on tight. it gets worse.

~ ~ ~

i have this other problem where, even though i have been mostly a lone wolf by default all my life, college + church + marriage + other things have created in me a new dependency on people. i think it is a healthy kind, in and of itself, at its root; but the loneliness created by marriage ("you don't appreciate what you have until it's gone") is extremely problematic for me.

this is what i am right now, in this chapter of my story:
- socially / emotionally needy
- prone to romantic attachment
- dedicated to caring for the girls in my life who receive little care elsewhere (or those who are damaged by past or current mistreatment)
- likely to evoke emotional attachment (of substance; not just crushes)
- an all-or-nothing type of person, in endeavors/relationships of ANY kind
- in the process of a divorce

this is what's called an effed-up situation. i am unwilling or unable to change each of those ingredients in the effed-up soup, at least for the next 6-12 months, but likely much longer.

it's bothering me so much, i feel like i've written only half of what needs to be said. i'm not being dishonest with myself; i truly lack the wisdom to resolve it in my own mind. i've talked with multiple male role models about it, on several occasions, but i mostly just get "good job; be careful."

maybe it's just something i have to live with. maybe, because of my choices, it's my job to just deal with my own feelings in my usual way (with cold logic and a desperate will to do the right thing).

another reason i find this difficult to post publicly, is that it might change some of my existing relationships. you might respond negatively. you might withdraw, or be upset, or... whatever. i don't want that. but i have to do this. i have to be honest and open. i apologize for whatever mistakes i've made along the way that brought me (and you, sort of) here.

all of this deserves a great deal of additional analysis. in the meantime though, i think i've said all i can. what should i call all of it

how about...



~ ~ ~

EDIT: i forgot to list the positive effects i've had. it would feel super arrogant to quote everyone here, but basically these girls/ladies have expressed intense gratitude. some of them did so at the end of our FIRST conversation. most of them cried at some point (the healthy kind of tears). many of them reciprocated my care, sometimes in situations where i really needed that.

so, addendum to the FAQ:

"so these were mostly one-sided relationships?"

well, only sometimes, and only partially. i benefited at least by feeling like i was fulfilling my purpose, and sometimes also by being encouraged or supported in specific ways.

"are you sure you did the right thing?"

i am not the kind of person to think well of myself by default. i mostly minimize my successes (if i notice them), and magnify my faults and failures. but over a dozen years of intense gratitude and long conversations have convinced me that yes, i did SOMEthing right, and succeeded. the evidence is somewhat overwhelming. this is fortunate, because memories of doing wrong things weigh me down quite a bit. they poison me. but this is also unfortunate, because i cannot simply say, "i was wrong," and abandon my self-appointed post.

Monday, December 24, 2012

and oh, the rain, the dark, the ocean winds

technically, i slept in this morning. but i woke up at 5:15a, 6:20a, 7:45a, and then once more a little while-ish after that. i realize in retrospect that it would've been much easier to ask Gmail to forward certain notifications to my phone, rather than wake up four times in one morning. but it's not like i planned that. in fact i should probably drug myself tonight to make sure it doesn't happen a third time in a row tomorrow morning.

it's a really gorgeous morning. last night's nearly-non-stop rain thoroughly cleared the air. the radiance and the cold wind are a nice mountain-y pairing. and most of everything is still wet and shiny. unfortunately my hands are starting to freeze; i may have to reposition. i just don't want to be in view of the baristas whilst enjoying this Padron Maduro-- which, by the way, is interacting very strangely with my triple-shot latte. (but i'm not complaining.)

i think the 6 old men drinking from thermoses and smoking cigarettes are two tads jelly-poo.

dang it... i was about to offer to bring some drinks back for my siblings, but i just realized i've got my bike instead of my car. i found the battery dead again this morning; i probably hit the fog light switch by accident. :(

this post is abnormal in its casual-ness. i came here for i-time, intending to blog, but not knowing what i would write about. normally that results in either a few trashed post-attempts, or a feeble, sickly post that is supposed to remind me of where i was (when i come back to read this months or years later) but of course i almost never do remember. for some reason concepts and theories and abstracts serve as better temporal anchors than tangible details and circumstances do. i'm wired weirdly.

this morning's concepts have to do with my response to life's ups and downs.

a few years ago i would've analyzed my outward responses. i would've asked questions like, "did i do the right thing?" and "what can i do better in the future?" but lately this strange derivative has been emerging-- i think i've mentioned it before, here-- and it's a little disorienting. but at the same time, it promises some kind of improved perspective, if i can master it.

it's like this: there are two ways in which i need to start processing my life differently than i normally do.

1) i need to zoom out. there's just too much that goes wrong when i obsess over each and every decision. i think i might have spent my life judging my whole self via each PARTicular mistake. this is foolish. "why, isaiah?" because then i judge myself a complete failure. (please note, future-me-who-reads-this, that i said each 'mistake,' not each 'decision. that's because i am mostly blind to most of my good decisions.)

but: if i look at my life by paragraph, or by chapter, or by arc (i can't insert links from my mobile; google "story arc"), then i begin to see grace at work-- not only through forgiveness but through redemption and re-construction as well. this isn't just a matter of allowing myself some encouragement now and then. it's a matter of understanding my own story, so that i can fulfill it.

zooming out is necessary, for my health and for my purpose.

2) i need to acknowledge the good i've done. this, i have blogged already, but i was unsure of it at the time. i am now convinced, having tried it out and chewed on it more. i did it grudgingly, and it was tough (the way jerky is tough when consumed post-expiration-date); but it was healthy for me.

those who know me should be having their gasts flabbered at these words... pleasantly, though. at least i hope so. trust me, my gast is no less flabbered. but i must acknowledge the necessity. in the same way that this heavenly vitamin-d treatment is bringing me to life (with the help of Padron, Klipsch, Zagg, Apple, Starbux, totes perf weather, Google [via Blogger], JetLine, and Gary Fischer, and you, my undeserved reader), the recognition of the positive things i have done (and the positive things that i AM) will keep at bay the mind-fog that has mostly dominated my life since late high-school.

marriage was particularly mind-fogging. not marriage itself, of course, but marriage to Valerie. you could say i was fogged up. :D oh the joy of bitter humor.

but seriously: i am blogging again! that in itself is a sign of health.

anyway... bottom line: acknowledge the good in me. despite my religious upbringing (mine in particular; not religion itself), despite my Puddleglum personality, despite my cruel conscience, i must do this. i have decided to do it. i am doing it. and so one of my deepest darkest shadows is chased away. farewell, jerk. you claimed to know me well, but it was a deception of the subtlest and most dangerous kind.


being aware of what i need is an intense joy. one moment i was rocking myself gently to wakefulness, the next i was subconsciously absorbing the wafting scent of fresh coffee all the way from the kitchen to the far west bedroom, and thinking to myself, "i want coffee and sunshine. and my blog. and Jono. and passion/black tea." i feel alive.

i feel alive, even though my mistakes still weigh on me. i feel able to carry them. i feel able to meet what comes next. i feel confident, determined... i feel like myself.

except for my freezing fingers. this concludes this experiment in freezing my fingers off. thank you for reading. i mean that very sincerely.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

sleep deprivation is underrated

i have not been this pleased with the results of (and reasons for) sleep deprivation since VUSC. that is a big deal for me.

i have posted before about how i value my own writings. it isn't narcissism... i'm embarrassed to varying degrees by most posts. there are a few i like well enough to Share and take pride in. but the reason i value them is because they remind me of who i am, and who i am trying to be.

this is encouraging because i fail a lot. like today and recently. and sometimes i need someone whose mind i understand and trust to say, "hey. your failure hasn't changed your core, nor should it alter your goals. in fact, here: let me help you understand something that you've forgotten."

my past self is a teacher well-suited to my present self. i feel this way about old conversations, as well, especially with those who communicate well, and double-especially with those whose hearts and minds were laid bare to me (whether at my invitation or by their instinctive response to me baring my own, via my posts).

so what is it saying to me today?


you forget too much. 

and it isn't because you don't sleep enough.

truthfully, you've been asleep too long.

wake up.

~      ~      ~



Tuesday, December 18, 2012

and goodnight

tonight Pastor Cameron encouraged me, and then i came home double exhausted. but i couldn't stay away from my newly beloved MXL.

https://soundcloud.com/isaiah-james-micu/acappullaby

Sunday, December 16, 2012

"trophies;" or, "to be constantly arriving"

a thought has been recurring to me the past year or so, something subtle but intense.

i focus so much on the events, the content, of life itself. i agonize over this or that decision, reflect on or run from the memory of each & every experience, and even reflection on concepts comes as a result of my need to understand and improve my life. and i look ahead to the future, wondering whether i can succeed, overcome, endure, grow, and do the right things; make the right choices.

but part of me has been quietly insisting that i should not be rowing so hard, if my destinations will always be ahead of me. part of me has been quietly insisting that i am constantly arriving.

every time i make a choice that is right, i am relieved; but rarely do i celebrate. in fact i rarely dwell upon the victories i achieve, even when the goal i meet is one that i set for myself. it is good to decide for oneself what one's goals are, rather than simply trying to please others or respond to the external all the time. so, why do i not take more satisfaction in my personal achievements?

and why do i reflect far more intensely and frequently on my failures and shortcomings? why am i so strongly predisposed to focus on what i lack, on where i am not yet, on the things left undone? is it right to be this way? is it wise? is it beneficial? see, even these questions arise from a driving need to become better!

where are my victory celebrations? where are my personal trophies, my moments of deep gratification based on achievements not worldly but wholly personal?

when i was young, sometime in junior high i think, i looked at my shelf full of judo trophies and medals, and asked myself, "why am i wasting space with these? they are ugly anyway, and dusty, and mostly plastic." so i threw them all into the garbage.

i don't regret that action. judo was fun, but not a foundational value.

but perhaps i have made a mistake. perhaps, in keeping with my self-deprecating, self-effacing ways, i have thrown away other awards, other moments of needed recognition that should have been kept.

or worse: perhaps i have placed on my inner walls tangible reminders of my failures. perhaps there are gargoyles, the likenesses of demons, flanking the walkway to my front door. and perhaps they are not entirely lifeless.

perhaps i carry objects of penance on my back every day. perhaps i lock myself in the stocks every night, and wait for ghosts of my past to throw stones and rotted things.

perhaps i need to learn how to stop punishing myself. perhaps i have some dark trophies to throw out, some chains (which i myself forged) to break.

i must think on it more.

to be aware of every small victory, every step toward the finish line-- to recognize the value of forward motion itself, and not just the arrival-- perhaps that is something i need. to be constantly arriving, and to be aware of the value of this.

Friday, December 14, 2012

without me

i feel i am myself again. something about being in a sour lonely irritable mood due to sleep deprivation and lack of 1-on-1 close friend time really brings me back to the old days, when every day smelled like a musty journal and every train of thought brought me to a new realization about myself.

being surrounded by so many interesting strangers close to my age is contributing aswell. feels like the caf at VU. feels like i'm about to bring the meal back to my room to avoid the people who think they know me. feels like backtracking through the mess of furniture to clear a path for the attractive girl who would've otherwise had to step aside for me (=unacceptable by james kelling's standards).

i wish i could be more social, only for the sake of my siblings and cousins who sit nearby. but even now, after a long and difficult journey from fledgling introvert loner to enthusiastically socialized member of several tightly-knit communities, i do not choose my social mood. (perhaps no one does, but others seem to have better fortune than i do.)

this all feels too familiar for me to complain about it. like when your comfiest clothes are the ones with holes and rips in them: less functional, less appealing aesthetically, but still preferable because they make you feel more like yourself.

i am content with neither my past self nor my present, but returning to familiarity does help me to move forward somehow. maybe because it's a needed break from the push to progress.

i'm okay with this.

Monday, December 03, 2012

let it be so

a long time ago, in a ministry far away, i asked the slightly-younger-than-me teens around me to close their eyes. i asked them to imagine a coffee table, upon which lay a book entitled "my life." i asked them to imagine their own names (respectively) adorning their respective imaginary books, identifying the author[s].

i asked questions like these:
  • is it well worn, or hardly touched?
  • are there bookmarks? dog-ears?
  • look at the table of contents. how many chapters? what are their titles?
  • turn to the current chapter. what is it about?
  • what comes in the next chapter?
  • how will it end? 
  • how would you like it to end?
normally this memory prompts me to do exactly what i asked those teens to do. so i look at my blog, at how many posts per year, and because i've strolled this lane many times already, i have a pretty good idea of what my blog tells me about my life so far.

the posts i haven't reviewed nearly as much are, of course, the most recent: those of this and last year(s). and so i find there is still some reflectionary meat on those bones. and as i chew on those bones, i am inspired to blog. hmm... this post would have been much shorter if not for the need to explain itself. 

it has two purposes: 1) to identify the theme of this transitionary chapter, and 2) to reveal the co-Author's level of involvement.

the theme of this chapter, according to my own posts written before i even wondered what the theme was, is deconstruction in preparation for reconstruction of something better.

the co-Author's level of involvement, if my completely naive and yet astonishingly intuitive / borderline pre-cognitive prayer requests and expressed desires are any indication, is 100%.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

samishii iii

funny quote from 2006: "i think there is no chapter of my life that would be better suited by the title." - me