On “V”

It is the 5th of November, also known as Guy Fawkes Night because of the Gunpowder Plot in 1605.  “Remember, remember the 5th of November, the gunpowder treason and plot.  I can think of no reason why the gunpowder treason should ever be forgot.”  This is the opening of V for Vendetta, a superb movie that I highly enjoy.  Since I  am also a English major and language nerd, I utterly delight in the V monologue near the beginning of the film.  I hope you enjoy it too!

Voilà! In view, a humble vaudevillian veteran, cast vicariously as both victim and villian by the vicissitudes of Fate. This visage, no mere veneer of vanity, is a vestige of the vox populi, now vacant, vanished. However, this valorous visitation of a by-gone vexation, stands vivified and has vowed to vanquish these venal and virulent vermin vanguarding vice and vouchsafing the violently vicious and voracious violation of volition.  The only verdict is vengence; a vendetta, held as a votive, not in vain, for the value and veracity of such shall one day vindicate the vigilant and the virtuous.  Verily, this vichyssoise of verbiage veers most verbose, so let me simply add that it is my very good honor to meet you and you may call me V.” – V for Vendetta

P.S. I recommend http://m-w.com Also, these are great words to study for tests like the GRE… just saying 😉

Washington, D.C.

I am going to Washington, D.C.

Let me repeat that.  I am going to Washington, D.C.

Why the big deal?  I am going to How It Ends lobby days for Invisible Children.  I am going to be a political activist.

UmmmWOW.  At least for me.  My good friends John and Andrew (and I, of course) decided to go to How It Ends on Sunday night.  So we signed up.  Now we are going.  It is huge for all of us.  For the first time, we are putting our ideas into action.  We are doing something about what we say we care about and are passionate about.  It is scary.  I have never made a habit of acting on my dreams and passions.  I have never really pursued anything to the point of action.

What am I doing today to pursue my dreams and passions?  What steps am I taking?  These questions have really challenged me recently.  I have really actually begun to realize how scary it can be to pursue dreams.  What if I fail?  What if I can’t do what I want to do?  What I try to do?  What if I am supposed to pursue something else?  What if this?  What if that?  What if anything else?  What if???

As scary as pursuing my dreams and passions can be, it is worth facing my fears and doubts.  Why?  Because when I don’t, I feel very apathetic and worthless.  Because when I do, I am fully alive and passionate.  I am no longer just sitting around waiting for life to come find me.  Waiting for graduation when I will face the “real world”.  I am no longer passive.  I am no longer complacent.  I am alive.  I am putting my thoughts and dreams into action.  I am showing that I care.  I can change the world.  Because as my favourite quote states, “be the change you wish to see in the world.” (Ghandi).  If everyone waits for someone else to start, nothing will ever change.

So that is my challenge to you.  What are you doing now to pursue your dreams and passions?

The Plunge

I’m doing it.

I’m finally just doing it.

I have started to write my novel.

After having exhausted every possible excuse and procrastinating beyond what is even remotely reasonable, I have finally commenced the challenging journey of attempting to write my novel.  Simply starting is a feat in and of itself.  For me, the most difficult part of writing is just typing the first few words and sentences.  After that, my thoughts tend to flow.  Although I have never previously attempted to write a novel.  It is based on my personal life, so sharing that will be difficult.  I am not the most open person you will ever meet.  But it will be good for me.  Very healing.  And it will encourage me to be open and honest and vulnerable.  So often I long to be vulnerable, yet I fear rejection.  It is beyond ridiculous.  However, life is a process.  A journey.  And I am taking small steps.  Baby steps.  Just like Bob.  “Baby steps.  Baby steps.”  “I’m baby stepping.  I’m doing the work.”  (quotes from What About Bob).

Success is dangerous. Really.

“Failure’s hard, but success is far more dangerous.  If you’re successful at the wrong thing, the mix of praise and money and opportunity can lock you in forever.”

This quote is from Po Bronson.  I found it on the side of one of my many Starbucks cups one day.  It struck me, but I didn’t really think about it.  I saw it over and over again.  Countless times.  I must have memorized it because while thinking about my life recently, I remembered it.  It made me stop and think.  The first part is obvious.  Failure is hard.  No one enjoys failing.  At anything.  Failure usually brings feelings of worthlessness and the sting of not being good enough.  Everyone longs to succeed.  To be needed.  For if you are successful at something, people will seek you out to accomplish or perform it.  Yet, succeeding is dangerous.  Why?  Because you could be succeeding at the wrong thing.  Just because you are good at something does not mean that you should pursue only that thing.  You could be missing the opportunity to pursue other dreams and be successful at something you may really love and enjoy and be passionate about.

Take my life, for example.  I came to college as a piano performance major.  I was good.  Really good.  I was a state finalist in competitions throughout high school.  I won awards.  I gave a solo senior recital.  I was one of the top pianists in my freshman class at BG.  I was told I had limitless potential.  However, it was the wrong thing for my life.  I am not supposed to be a concert pianist.  Yet, I found myself trapped in it.  Piano became my life.  Until I permanently injured my right wrist.  Suddenly, it was all over.  The pain of losing it still hurts.  I cry because I miss piano sometimes.  However, when I was forced to pursue something else with my life, I found freedom.  I was no longer tied to piano.  I could explore an endless variety of opportunities.  Naturally, I once again steered clear of anything that I knew I would fail at doing.  While searching, I became really involved with my campus church.  I decided to pursue vocational ministry and go on staff once I graduated.  However, this too is not the right thing for my life.  I’m good at it.  But it is not what I am supposed to do.  I’m still unsure as to where I am going with my life.  What I’ll be doing.  I am dreaming though.  I want to write.  I want to love people.  I am interested in protecting human rights.  I’ve thought a lot about editing.  Who knows what I’ll do.  I certainly don’t.  All I know is that I can be successful at a lot of things, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that any of them is right for me.  I’m just going to continue to pursue my dreams and desires.  I’ll find what I am supposed to do along the way.  Maybe I’ll do a variety of things. . . I am a wanderer after all. . .

Fear

“. . . the only thing we have to fear is fear itself – namless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.” – FDR

This quote has been on my mind a lot in the past few days.  Why?  Because I am afraid.  Terrified.  I live in fear.  And it is paralyzing me.  Hindering my ability to be open and express my feelings.  Blocking me from processing the details and circumstances of my life.  Preventing me from fully living.  It needs to end.  Immediately.  Yes, I’ll still be afraid.  But I really must not let fear dictate my actions.  I will recognize it and attempt to be vulnerable despite my fear.  After all, that is what love is.  Being willing to sacrifice.  I am willing to sacrifice control and comfort to be vulnerable.  The time is now.  C’est la vie.

Baby, it’s cold outside. . .

and in!  I’m sitting in Grounds for Thought, enjoying an afternoon of quiet contemplation and writing.  The only complaint I could possibly have about my afternoon so far is that it seems to be about as cold inside as it is outside.  At least the temperature is a relative heatwave compared to the sub-zero temperatures and windchills of the past few days.

This week has been exceedingly interesting.  I have somehow managed to be behind in my homework since before I even attended all of my classes for the first time.  Thankfully, the vast majority of my homework is reading, which I love to do.  Classes are cancelled Monday due to Martin Luther King, Jr. day, so I will hopefully catch up and possibly work ahead a little then.  Speaking of Martin Luther King, Jr., I was watching some show on TV with my roommate earlier this afternoon, and there was a commercial about some kind of celebration or ceremony in his honor on Monday.  While briefly highlighting his life, the commercial said this, “He had the strength to fight and the courage to love.”  Think about that.  It is fairly profound, at least to me in this particular of junction of life at which I find myself.

You see, I am at a place in life where I am beginning to realize the battle that I am in and my place in that battle.  I am finding that I do have the struength to fight, but only through God (and consequently, only by believing truth).  I am also beginning to fully realize what it means to truly love someone.  Let me tell you, it does take courage.  Loving someone requires sacrifice – of yourself, your time, your comfort, and your security.  You must be willing to pour yourself into that person.  To be there for them.  To be willing to listen to them.  And to be willing to be extremely vulnerable with them.  Typically, when I think of vulnerability, I think about being completely open and transparent about the deep issues in my life.  And that is part of vulnerability.  And that part can be extremely difficult.  Opening up and sharing about deep issues and situations and how they affect you – letting someone see you hurt and needing love – is not easy.  I used to think that that was all that vulnerability was.  However, I realized the other day that there is more to vulnerability than simply letting someone hear about all of your problems.  Once you have done that, the next step is to continue to tell that person all of the random, pointless, unimportant, trivial, mundane details about your life – the person who randomly smiled at  you, the friend you ran into, the jokes your professor attempted to tell in class, etc.  At least in my friendships, once I open up about my issues, and we are there for each other, we cease telling each other about the everyday and the mundane.  In  a way, we close off part of our lives to each other.  True, transparent vulnerability demands sharing all aspects of life together, not just the mundane, but also not just the deep.

And so, not only am I fighting to believe truth, I am also fighting to love.  To trust God enough to have the courage to be transparently vulnerable.  Thankfully, I have friends who do love me, are patient with me, and are willing to call me out on not being transparent.  Strangely, as difficult and excruciating as it can be to trust and be vulnerable, it is more rewarding than I could ever have imagined.  My friendship with the person that I am currently most vulnerable with is beyond amazing.  It is very free and open.  I know that he cares; he knows that I care.  We can share all aspects of life.  And we also know that no matter what happens in any aspect of life, we will be there for each other.  I do not have to be afraid of his opinion or reaction because he already sees me for who I am . . . I’m not shutting him out of some side of my life that would surprise him.  It is good, delightful, and amazing.  Loving him is teaching me what it means to love.  How can I possibly love the people of the world if I can’t love my friends?

What am I looking for?

Pride looks to receive. Fear looks to what can be lost. Love looks to give.

A friend shared this insight with me this summer.  I turned the thought over in my mind, exploring the many implications it had for my life at the time.  Now, six months or so later, the changes in my life have brought an entirely new perspective to the statement.

I am really struggling to deal with my life right now for a smattering of reasons.  Without delving into that complexity, suffice it to say that I am almost paralyzed by fear because I do not trust.  While six months ago, I was struck by the insight on pride, I am currently exploring the multiplicity of ways that fear plays into my life.  I am so afraid.  Terrified to lose.  To lose my relationship with a friend who came into my life unexpectedly and quite possibly understands me better than I understand myself.  To lose my freedom and independence and become constrained and repressed.  To lose the very desires and opportunites that I so desperately long for at times.  To lose the semblance of control that I attempt to maintain in my life.  I am so overwhelmed by these fears that I am slowly becoming paralyzed – incapable of dealing with life.  I am overwhelmed.  I over-analyze each and every situation.  I worry about life so ridiculously far in the future.  Ironically, as I make plans for five and six years from now, I do not know where I will be in nine months.  I could be where I am now.  I could be in Staffordshire, England.  I simply don’t know yet.  While that freaks me out just a little, it is not nearly causing me as much concern as looking at graduate schools.  Or thinking about what career I might want to pursue.  Or if I will ever be in a relationship.  Will I ever see myself for who I really am?  What am I doing with my life?  Am I pursuing God?  Am I listening to Him?   What will the legacy of my life be?  Will I have touched people?  Shown them that I care?  Loved them?  What will the trace of my existence be?

A thousand thoughts fly through my mind at any given moment.  Some vanish; some bear further introspection.  While pondering such musings, I should remember to focus my perspective.  If I am looking to love, what am I willing to give?  Am I willing to be vulnerable?  To give of myself?  To pour myself into my relationships?  To be the best friend that I can be?  To be there for people?  To sacrifice?  Am I willing to love?  After all, isn’t it better to have love and lost, than to not have loved at all?