Monthly Archives: March 2014

Before Mountains Were Mountains

Mountains were mountains before we called them that. Then we claimed them and gave them names and the wonder was lost. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be the first person to see a mountain, then to climb it and say you did it? We named mountains and rivers after our heroes: Mount Washington; the Hudson River.

Can you imagine what it must have been like for the early humans to discover desert and jungle and tundra? As we gained in knowledge, as the maps filled in, we lost in amazement and in imagination. Fish were fish before we knew we could catch them and even keep them. Once upon a time we were the hunted. Now we are hunters.

What is left to explore? What is left to find? What is left to imagine and amaze and destroy? Can it destroy us?

We flew a spacecraft to the moon. Now that’s done and we’re on to Mars, the war god’s planet. Will we find any signs of life, or did they make our same mistakes years and years ago?

Have you ever tried to count the stars? I wouldn’t recommend it unless you have a lot of time and a long, long night. It’s like trying to count molecules or cells under a microscope; little signs of life. The universe pulses with breath and heart beat. We see it in our dreams. We hear it in melody. We sometimes fall asleep to the beat, beat, beating of waves.

What is it you believe? How did we get here? Why are trees so inherently tree-like? Why is it true that 1+1 = 2? Do oysters make a sound? The world is not just chaos. We didn’t start with maximum entropy. Do dogs bark because they should or because they evolved to? Could it be both? What is right and what is random? If there is an order to things, then someone must have ordered it. God made sunsets pink and said it was good. God gave man poetry and the Big Bang Theory and the invention of internal combustion engines.

We are borrowers of big ideas. We are discoverers of the unknowable, unclaimable, untamable and great. We choose what is given; we are given free choice. We see freedom and we will it to be.

Songs Of Good And Evil

Last night I played an open mic at the Gulu Gulu Cafe. It was great fun. There weren’t too many super great performers, but it didn’t matter. The hosts were horrible and hilarious as always and the audience was pretty into the music, which is always a plus. There was also one slam poet who performed a very personal poem about getting sober. Artistically, it was nothing special, but it definitely came from the heart, and that’s really what matters when it comes to poetry, in my opinion.

I finished writing a song yesterday. It still doesn’t have a title. I almost played it last night but ended up deciding not to for two reasons. Firstly, I didn’t feel like I had the lyrics quite memorized enough. Secondly, the feature performer played a song that he said was basically about the fact that there is evil in the world. While he was introducing the next song, my dad said, “You should play ‘Good In Things.'” It was sort of funny because “Good In Things” is basically the  polar opposite of his song. I don’t normally talk about God when I perform, even though I want to, partly because I’m chicken and I don’t want people to think I’m a dork. I’ll admit, I am self conscious when I’m on stage. Last night however, I got on stage and said, “I’ll make this quick since my first song is kind of long, but it’s called ‘Good In Things’ because yes, bad things happen, but it could always be worse. Furthermore, God has his hand in everything. Ergo, everything is awesome and there is good in things.” Then I proceeded to play a seven minute long, obnoxiously happy song.

On the way home, my dad told me something that really made me happy. He said, “When people are up there the audience is usually sort of doing their own thing: eating dinner or playing games or what have you, but when you’re up there, there’s usually a handful of people who are absolutely captivated. I think it’s because your lyrics are so positive. You may end up saving someone’s life. There was a woman in the audience tonight who had a look on her face like, ‘maybe the world is worth saving after all.'”

I tend not to watch the audience when I’m performing because I sort of go into my own little world, so I really didn’t know this. It was exactly the kind of thing I wanted to hear, though. It made me feel like even though I’m pretty much unknown on a large scale, my music is touching and maybe really helping people. That’s really what I want from it. I don’t care so much about being famous. I just want to be well known so that I can reach more people. I’m ready to start outwardly talking about the real meaning behind my lyrics when I perform. Before I got on stage last night, I asked God to bless my performance, and I think he did. There is evil in the world and evil in people, but we are created in the image of God, and this is his world. We just have to drown out the evil with love and joy, and we can totally do that.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

Hope Is Together

Today marks the beginning of Lent. I read the Pope’s sermon for today, which I thought was quite good, and I went to an Ash Wednesday service at my church earlier this evening. The overall theme of the day was, of course, self sacrifice and giving to the poor. Another part of Lent is trying to become closer to God through prayer and/or reading scripture. Of course, every year everyone is urged to give something up or do something new to try and help themselves or the larger community.

At first I thought I might give up video games, but I hardly play video games anymore anyway. Then I thought I’d try and commit myself more to my music project, but again, I’ve already started doing that. Then I decided that I would try and do something bigger. In one of my classes we’ve been talking about literature related to slavery in America. We’ve been talking mostly in the context of African American slavery in the Civil War era, but one of my classmates mentioned that a percentage of people in America are still enslaved today. I mean, I guess I already knew that– maybe I had heard about it somewhere a long time ago and it was floating around in the back of my mind, but for some reason it really got under my skin and downright pissed me off, quite frankly.

When Dad and I got back from church earlier tonight I looked up modern slavery in America. I stared at the Google results, and looked at a couple websites, and then I realized something. I haven’t done anything about big, overwhelming problems like this in the past partly because big, overwhelming problems like this scare me. I feel absolutely helpless when I look at problems like the conflicts in the Middle East, or AIDS in Africa, or human trafficking in America, India or anywhere else. I feel so hopeless when I read about people who suffer from depression or know someone who has committed suicide or hear that my best friend is in the hospital again because she had another relapse. In short, the suffering of other people really affects me.

The speaker at our chapel service at school today was a pastor at an Evangelical church nearby. He was one of those guys who get really passionate when talking about Christ and tend to yell. Admittedly, it’s a little much for me, especially since I made the mistake of sitting in the front row today. Something he said, however, seemed very right, or true to me, for lack of a better word. He said that hope is communal. It is stronger when people are hoping for something together. I think that’s true of prayer as well. It feels more powerful and authentic when people pray together. I’ve experienced this with my friend at the recording studio. We’ve adopted the practice of praying before sessions, and man does it work.

I told myself a long time ago that I was going to devote myself to prayer because it seems to be the way in which I can be most helpful to the world right now. Well, I didn’t really do that as well as I would have liked, so I think I’m going to do that over Lent, and hopefully continue to do it in the future. I just need to make sure I spend a certain amount of time every day focusing on nothing but prayer and devotion. I think really good things will come of it. Despite everything that goes on in this messy world, I am still very hopeful, and I hope you guys are too.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

Slipping

Today in chapel, the speaker talked about living for something worth dying for: giving everything are and everything you have to Jesus, and using all your resources to make the world a better place. It kind of made me feel bad to be honest. It sounds easy in a way; praise the Lord, pray for the world and be nice to people. On another level it’s really hard. I don’t know what it means to give all I have, partly because I feel like I don’t have much to give. I’m broke, so I can’t donate anything, and I’m disabled, so I can’t go anywhere and offer service to anyone.

I know that dedicating my musical ambitions to God is a good thing, and I know praying is a good thing. I do both of those. I pray every night, and I’m still trying to maintain that kicked-in-the-pants drive when it comes to music. I go to the studio once a week, which I’ve been doing for a while, and I’ve been practicing and writing more than usual lately. I’ve also been doing research when I have time, on top of school. I just feel like my mood is slipping. I think I know why, and I think it suffices to say that it probably has something to do with lady issues.

I’m on Spring Break as of Thursday, and I’ll be busy enough, which will be good. I’m playing at an open mic on Wednesday, March 12, and I have a recording session the following night. I’ve also been in touch with a woman who is very interested in becoming a songwriting/performing duo. She was the only person who replied to the craigslist ad I sent out last week, and she’s several years older than I am, but she seems very nice, and we seem to have the same idea of where we want our music to go. She’s also Christian and is committed to using music to glorify God, which is the whole point of this craziness. I’ll be meeting up with her either at the open mic or some other time next week. It should be super cool.

I guess I have to keep things in perspective. I prayed earlier today that God would give me patience and courage. I think great things can come of my project, but it’s going to take time. I’m just too expectant for results now. I’m hoping my new potential band mate (Sam) can give me some pointers, because I think she has a little more performing experience than I do.

I’ll leave you guys with some song lyrics

I will sing Hallelujah
‘Cause there is good in things and I believe it
I can see that it’s true
And it’s beautiful

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

Fight Fire With Crazy, Fight Fire With Love

I had a discussion with my friend last night: the one who I have philosophical debates with, and as we occasionally do, we ended up talking about people who ruin everything. Just to set things straight, my friend is of the opinion that the general populous tends to be awful and occasionally does nice things, whereas I feel that the general populous tends to be fairly nice overall and occasionally does awful things. On an individual level, I do feel that most people have some good in them.

We also ended up talking about what we feel is the best way to counter people who do terrible things. Since they piss both of us off to an extreme degree, we used the Westboro Baptist Church as an example. My friend’s thought is that when it comes to people like that, it’s best to fight fire with CRAZY. Her idea, and this is admittedly hilarious, is that when it comes to people like that, the best thing to do is “join” them and then outcrazy them by holding up signs that say things like “Repent! The Banana Army Wants Your Toothbrush!”

On the other hand, I think a better way to deal with people like that is to drown them out. My high school did a production of the Laramie Project, and five of those nasty people came to protest it. I distinctly remember them having a sign that says “You eat your babies.” Don’t even get me started on how stupid and nonsensical that is. A place was designated on the other side of the road for a counter protest. There were about 50 of us, and we had a guitar.

This is the whole point of my musical endeavors. I just want to drown the haters out. You can’t beat ’em; that would only perpetuate the hate, and you certainly can’t join ’em, so the only thing to do is to make love bigger and stronger and louder than them. My friend’s idea does prove a point, but it still ends up pitting people against each other in the end. Our talk last night got me all fired up, and now I want to do something, but I don’t know what that is yet. For now I’m going to keep working on making the music thing work.

When I was a freshman in high school I had this crazy idea in my head that I could save the world, and while I know now that it isn’t going to happen, I can do nice things, and at least make people listen.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!