You're Irrational

When I tell people what I'm afraid of, they generally tell me that it is an irrational fear.  This just simply isn't true.  Let me tell you some reasons why it isn't irrational:
  • I have nightmares about it
  • In those nightmares, I cry
  • That should be justification enough
  • Sometimes I wake up crying, and continue to cry until I realize it was a nightmare
  • This is actually happening to someone very close to me right now, and I tell her often how sad I am for her and her loss and I frequently mourn in her behalf
  • It is not uncommon that I fall asleep praying that this doesn't happen to me
  • If this did happen, I would cry for days, nay, weeks.  
  • Then I would attempt to embrace it
  • And then I would fail
  • The fear of this has been a catalyst to fearing the following things:
    • new foods
    • pregnancy
    • a bad grade
    • an important test
    • stress
    • anxiety 
    • breathing the wrong air
  • See why it's not irrational?  
If you can guess what it is I'll give you five dollars.  Seriously, I will.  Put it in the comments and I'll come find you.  

Hannah, the hipsters, and Jesus.

3 things have spurred these thoughts.  I've color coded them so that you might more easily make the distinction.

Please meet Hannah.
Hannah built a matrix.
A matrix of awesomeness out of clothing items.
With Hannah's matrix her originality won't run out for some 27 months, if I'm not mistaken.

From many a hipster I have learned that it is cool (but like one-of-a-kind, unique cool) to have, be, wear, or do what no one else has ever had, been, worn or done.

To my dearest hipster nation, hear you this: you are not the firsts and you most certainly are not the only-s.  Acceptance is step number one.

I decided at the ripe old age of 15 that I was going to get on and stay on the road that I believe not only leads to happiness but is also happy along the way.  Following Jesus and listening to God, that's what I chose.  

Hannah, the hipsters, and the embracing of the Gospel of Jesus Christ have spurred a schizophrenic conversation in my head and it's been going for quite some time.  It entails topics such as originality, individuality, and the ever-flowing body of water that we call mainstream, both within the realm of my religion and outside of it.

How much of what you think is original is the original? This started when I wondered who thought of parachute pants.  We are born imitators. Whether from the conscious or subconscious that is what we do. We imitate what we see and experience. How did we learn to walk, talk, and throw food? Imitation, baby. Despite what you just assumed, I'm not discounting creativity or saying that it doesn't exist, rather that it is often wrongly defined.  Creativity is bringing something about that doesn't naturally evolve or come about through natural processes.  It is not something built from nothing, because you didn't start with nothing. You always start with something: an idea, an object, something you learned previously that was gathering dust in the back of your mind whether you were aware of it's presence or not.

There are many facets to this topic and I can't attempt to voice my opinion about all of them, so this will be a more focused opinion on just one aspect of the whole ginormous thing. 

In this, as I said, is the battle of how to embrace that endeavor of becoming like that person that more than 2 billion people are trying to be like (Jesus, in case you didn't know).  In that effort where does individuality come in? How are you like Him but an individual at the same moment? In the rise and the fall of it I have learned much.  From many sources comes encouragement to be unique, to find a niche, and to be no one but yourself.  We are pushed to "find ourselves" and once that is found to be our "best self", but not to conform and become another lemming without any meaning in our march.  So how do I be like Jesus, but be myself?  This is where the awesomeness begins.  Brace yourself.  Are you seated?   In trying to be like Him, you grow out of bad and good things into this person that is loving, kind, and devoted but with traits that only you have. You love the way that only you can love.  You be kind in only a way that you can be kind.  And you give in a way that only you can give.
To become like Jesus is to be the best version of you that is possible.  He doesn't want you to be Him.  He wants you to be you but be like him.  Love, give, and care but in your own way.

Just Marathon It

I'm not quite sure what the word for it is yet, but it has to do with adaptation and change and growth.  After returning from Argentina, whenever I was invited to go somewhere or do something I just kept saying yes.  I wanted to say no but it was as if I had suddenly forgotten how to make what I was really thinking come out of my mouth.  This did however allow me to have a lot of material for when I entertain people.  For example when I went speed-dating what got me through it was knowing that I could tell a great story one day and make someone laugh so hard they might pee their pants.  It's possible that subconsciously that is why I kept saying yes to everything, but I doubt it.
While I was in my "saying yes" phase (yes, it ended up just being a phase, no need to worry) I committed to a few things I never thought I would do. One of those was to run a half marathon.  I know it's not as great as a full marathon, but it's still pretty great.  J asked me in February to run it with her in June.  I started "training" very slowly and once school was out I took it a little more seriously.  You know how annoying it is when you talk to a runner and they say things like "I can't live without it", "I'm addicted to running", "It helps me forget about my problems" and "It's such a release from all the pressures around me" and also "I like to wear bananas around my neck and put honey in my pants while I'm running"--you know? SO annoying. Well I became one of those people. I wore bananas and put honey in my pants.  Kill me.  I told very few people that I was running a marathon for exactly that reason.  Runners are annoying.  So when the day came, a total of 4 people knew I was running.  
We had to be at the "bus station" (there are way too many quotation marks in this post) at 3 a.m. in order to be to the start point on time.  I was feeling pretty adequate standing there in my runner get up. They have various amenities for runners at the starting line because we arrive in the wee hours of the morning. Here is a small list of what was provided:

fire in trash barrels
port a potty-in it's various shapes and sizes
logs for sitting   

I had a time to beat but J had injured herself and was planning on taking it a little slower so we agreed to split up.  I went to the starting line for the full "I'm in a race" feeling, put my ear buds in and turned on my jam.  Did you know they actually shoot a gun to start the race?  I like to say it's a real gun.  So, ready, set, gun, and go.

Now, my engrossed readers, this marathon was mostly downhill.  This allowed gravity to take effect in the times when I thought I might keel over.  The first 6 miles felt really good. Strong, powerful and well trained.  And then came the latter half of the half marathon.  For about 2 miles I felt pain in every particle of my body.  I tried to pump up my jam (you're welcome 80's babies) but it didn't help much.  

At this point I began to come to terms with the fact that I may not reach my goal.  I had settled in to taking a higher time and being semi-pleased with myself.  

I then realized that I was a lone runner on that course.  There were runners maybe a hundred feet ahead of and behind me but for a while there it was just me.  I realized that I didn't have any thing or person to push me.  I thought gravity would be my friend but let me tell you what I discovered: you can fight gravity's push pretty easily.  Reality smacked me on the butt at this time, making me realize that if I was going to finish this marathon it would be up to my own devices.  

Remember when I had settled for that higher time? That was me letting go and waiting for a push to come behind and shove.  From where you may ask; and I say I do not know.  Somehow I have become accustomed to slacking and then having someone or something push me over the finish line. Well lesson #1 in marathon running: NO ONE is there to push you.  You have to push yourself. 

I know you are hanging off that cliff I just built. This should relieve you.  
I finished. You can too. 

A Book I Read

I thought very little about how I would like to review books here on my blog. Therefore, the highlights of my reading will be shared, do with them what you will.

I watched the movie on an international flight and spent the other 18 hours wishing I hadn't watched it, because I wanted to read the book instead.

"Most of humanity, he said, have eyes that are so caked shut with the dust of deception they will never see the truth..." (155)

"Devotion is diligence without assurance. The decision to consent to any notion of divinity is a mighty jump from the rational over to the unknowable, and I don't care how diligently scholars of every religion will try to sit you down with their stacks of books and prove to you through scripture that their faith is indeed rational; it isn't. If faith were rational, it wouldn't be--by definition--faith. Faith is belief in what you cannot see or prove or touch. Faith is walking face-first and full-speed into the dark. If we truly knew all the answers in advance as to the meaning of life and the nature of God and the destiny of our souls, our belief would not be a leap of faith and it would not be a courageous act of humanity; it would just be...a prudent insurance policy." (175)

"It's not much use to send prayers out to the universe that are lazy...ultimately you're more likely to get more out of the experience if you can take some action on your end. Half the benefit of prayer is in the asking itself, in the offering of a clearly posed and well-considered intention." (176-177)
"This is what rituals are for. We do spiritual ceremonies as human beings in order to create a safe resting place for our most complicated feelings of joy or trauma, so that we don't have to haul those feelings around with us forever, weighing us down. We all need such places of ritual safekeeping. And I do believe that if your culture or tradition doesn't have the specific ritual you're craving, then you are absolutely permitted to make up a ceremony of your own devising, fixing your own broken-down emotional systems with all the do-it-yourself resourcefulness of a generous plumber/poet. If you bring the right earnestness to your homemade ceremony, God will provide the grace. And that is why we need God." (187)

"The hub of calmness--that's your heart. That's where God lives within you. So stop looking for answers in the world. Just keep coming back to that center and you'll always find peace." (207)

"Mario told me that he is only happy when he can maintain himself--mentally and spiritually--at the intersection between a vertical line and horizontal one, in a state of perfect balance. For this, he needs to know exactly where he is located at every moment, both in his relationship to the divine and to his family here on earth. If he loses that balance, he loses his power." (227)

"...people universally tend to think that happiness is a stroke of luck, something that will maybe descend upon you like fine weather if you're fortunate enough. But that's not how happiness works. Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it, you must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it. If you don't, you will leak away your innate contentment. It's easy enough to pray when you're in distress but continuing to pray even when your crisis has passed is like a sealing process, helping your soul hold tight to its good attainments." (260)

"The search for contentment is, therefore, not merely a self-preserving and self-benefiting act, but also a generous gift to the world. Clearing out all your misery gets you out of the way. You cease being an obstacle, not only to yourself but to anyone else. Only then are you free to serve and enjoy other people." (261)

"Am I centered enough now to be the center of somebody else's life?" (311)

"In the end, though, maybe we must all give up trying to pay back the people in this world who sustain our lives. In the end, maybe it's wiser to surrender before the miraculous scope of human generosity and to just keep saying thank you, forever and sincerely, for as long as we have voices." (334)
Here is a link to buy the book on Amazon.
The TED video in this post is her as well. Enjoy.