Tag Archives: Emotions

Holy Week (Monday)

This week is Holy Week. Friday is Good Friday. Even though I know what comes after, I’m dreading it because of what happened on that day 2,000 years ago. This post is not about that, though. What I intend to do, Monday through Friday of this week, is to write precisely about what Good Friday tried to destroy. Life. What I mean is that Good Friday stood for Death. It stood for hopelessness.

Probably some, and possibly many will take my posts this week as political. I urge you not to. Some of the things I will post about are tied to political issues, but they are not political issues in themselves. All that being said, I’ll get started on my first topic.

What does it mean to be pro-life? What does it mean to live life to the fullest? These two questions are closely related. As many readers already know, I am pro-life. Yes, I do strongly oppose abortion and the death penalty, but that is not the extent of what it means to be pro-life. It means supporting discussion and if that fails, civil disobedience when it is necessary. It also means helping disadvantaged people in constructive ways that build relationships and boost confidence. It involves being creative. It requires time, effort and sacrifice. My dad used to use a cliche every so often: “If you give a man a fish, he’ll eat for a day. If you teach him how to fish, he will eat for a lifetime.” Do I always know how to “teach a man to fish?” Nope. Am I always capable of it? Nope. I do, however, think that there are people who are willing and able, and that this is the best solution to dealing with a multitude of social and economic problems. Again, this is getting borderline political, so I’ll leave it at that.

However, none of this addresses what it means to be pro-life on a spiritual level. One of the most commonly known things that Jesus said to his disciples was, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father but through me.” Jesus is our connection with God the Father. Another Christian cliche is that we’re meant to have a personal relationship with Jesus. Relationships are a two-way street. He can chase us forever, but if we’re not interested, he won’t force us to pay any attention to him. To be spiritually alive means to enjoy the relationship that Jesus is offering us. To be pro-life from a spiritual standpoint, then, is, I think, to simply encourage people to acknowledge the invitation, and if they choose to pursue things further, to help them along. People never have only one relationship. Everyone has to ask for advice or direction in many relationships. A relationship with God is no different. What strengthens a relationship with God is worship (both individual and communal), prayer, and reading. Even fiction can help. Let God enjoy life with you, whether it’s playing with your pet, or taking a walk, or eating too much ice cream.

This addresses my second question. What does it mean to live life to the fullest? To an extent, this is a matter of opinion and preference. However, it also depends on one’s personality in general, and one’s overall situation. Some are happy living with the bare necessities, while others strive for extravagance. However, when one cannot attain what they want or need, living life to the fullest means accepting what one has and what one can attain. It also means being able to adapt and go outside one’s comfort zone. This will mean something different for every person. Sometimes it will mean watching a movie in a genre you might not usually pick. Sometimes it will mean skydiving. Lastly, living life to the fullest means allowing one’s self to let loose, and let go of one’s ego. It means learning to laugh at yourself with genuine joy.

Of course living life to the fullest also has a spiritual dimension. To address this aspect of it, I think I need to ask another question. What constitutes a full or fulfilled life? Every person will have a different answer for this, but I think it is possible to find a partially objective answer. Every human requires and seeks a handful of things in life. These are reflected in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, with physiological/biological needs being the most basic, and self-transcendence being the highest. Self-transcendence refers to the need to give oneself to something outside of oneself. As an example, he specifically refers to spirituality. Maslow also describes his idea of self-transcendence as “ends rather than means” to oneself, significant others, and even the cosmos. In other words, oneself is something sought after by things outside oneself. God seeks us out. God is infinite and perfect. We are not. God has no actual need for us, but he has a desire for us. It seems that to respond to that desire positively is exactly what Maslow means by self-transcendence.

However, there is one aspect of this that I have not addressed. In both sections on our relation to God, I have primarily focused on what God gets out of it. What do we get out of it? I think the best way to close this off is to address that question personally. Strengthening my relationship with God has made me more creative, more outgoing, more honest, more altruistic, and more patient. It has raised my self-esteem, and given me immense comfort when things aren’t going quite right. It has made me more positive and less egotistical. That all has happened in the span of seven or eight years. I certainly won’t claim that my life is perfect, but it’s good.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

 

 

Breaking Up

I’ve seen a lot of break-ups lately. They haven’t all been very close to the heart, but they’re never easy to watch. I’ve seen siblings break ties. I’ve seen relationships fail. I’ve seen parents fail their kids, and I’ve seen people give up on their parents. Still, I’ve never really been directly involved in a break-up until today. I haven’t wanted to be.

When I was in middle school I broke ties with a kid because he was being a turd to one of my friends. If you mess with my friends, you mess with me. He moved to our town when we were in seventh grade or so, and that’s a hard time even of itself. We were misfits, so we sort of “adopted” him. It took almost a year for me to completely “break up” with him. I didn’t want to. The truth is I always want to make someone better. I always want to make things right. By the end of eighth grade, though, we were done. I just couldn’t do it.

Today I broke ties with someone else. It was a different kind of break-up because I’ve tried to fix things. The issues weren’t between me and (?). The issues were between (?) and (!). Once before I was able to make things better, and I’ve never broken ties because (!) hasn’t wanted to, and hasn’t wanted me to. We’ve both wanted things to be better. It’s just gotten so bad that (!) decided to stop trying completely, and to cut (?) out of her life. She asked me to, as well, so I did. The hard thing is that (?) was never angry at me about anything, and even though she’s been really crappy to (!) through the years, I’ve never really been angry at her.

I’ve just wanted things to be right. I guess they simply can’t be. It’s not my fault, it’s not (!)’s fault, and I don’t think it’s (?)’s fault either. The truth is, though she’s never been diagnosed, she obviously has serious mental health problems. I think (!) will take this harder than I will. She’ll think about it. She might regret it. I’ll probably think about it from time to time, but there’s nothing I can do, so I won’t regret it. I’ll pray about it. It’s a complicated situation because there are other people involved, but I think the more we do, the more complicated it will get. It doesn’t feel wrong. The whole thing just feels weird.

I’ve been thinking about forgiveness today. I had to ask myself if I forgive (?) after the latest crap she’s pulled. It took me years to forgive the kids who were nasty to us in middle school, but I ultimately did. The truth is, I forgave (?) a long time ago. I just hope (!) can. I don’t really know how to go about the whole thing. I don’t think talking about it will help. I don’t want to talk about it anyway. It’s just weird because it’s like (?) doesn’t exist or something. I now have to live like a real person who was once part of my life was never even in the world.

Our families used to have a ton of fun together. I don’t know how things got weird. I won’t let the memories be tainted. They were good memories. I think that’s the trick. Relationships often don’t work out, but I think a lot more people could at least forgive each other if they just remember the good things. The people don’t have to stay “together,” but the good memories become ugly far too often because the present disfigures the past. Unfortunately, what’s worse is that sometimes the past can disfigure the present. I’ve seen this happen, too. Bad relationships end, and even when the future looks brilliantly bright, it’s hard to see it.

The one thing I do know is that love always wins. Ultimately, I think it’s better for all of us if the ties stay cut. That never has to mean that we don’t love (?) and her family. If trying only makes things worse, then not talking to them is the best way to love them, and that’s weird and kind of stinks, but it’s the best course of action. Love will win. I don’t know what that will mean in the end, but I do know it’s true.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

What I Know

It’s taken me a long time to write this post. I’ve been feeling for a long time that God wants me to tell people about him. I didn’t want to tell people what they’ve probably already heard a thousand times. This is simply what I know about God.

I know that God answers prayers.

Truthfully, he doesn’t always do this in the way I expect or the way I want. The cliche is true. God works in mysterious ways. Sometimes I have to wait, and sometimes I even forget about what I prayed for, and he answers anyway. I try very hard to be a peacemaker. Because of that, I haven’t got into too many fights. I’ve witnessed some pretty deep resentment among people I love, though. I’ve prayed about it, and the problems have been resolved. God always provides. I have epilepsy, and while my medication prevents me from having full seizures, I still have symptoms. Usually this is because I’m too hungry or I’ve spent too much time on the computer, so most of the time I can get rid of them just by changing my behavior. However, sometimes it’s out of my control. In these situations, I often pray, and the problem often goes away. Sometimes I just need something small. I need to make sure I wake up on time or I do something stupid and get my wheelchair stuck and need someone to rescue me. There are so many examples I simply can’t list them all. When I pray for small things, however, God often answers those prayers almost instantly. I have to mention however, that sometimes God’s answer to a prayer is “No” because it’s the best thing for you. It’s also important to remember that God works in real time. God can make difficult, complicated things happen, but because they are difficult and complicated, they will take time–sometimes years. One example I do want to mention, though is that when I was in middle school, my cousin had Cancer. It was treatable, but it definitely wasn’t easy. One night he told my aunt that he really felt like he was going to die. I desperately wanted him to live, so I prayed hard, and soon after, things changed drastically.

I know his love is intense.

I was born with Muscular Dystrophy. Because of this, I couldn’t run around and play on the playground with the other kids when I was little, so God gave me a playground in my head. I constantly made up stories and characters and drew pictures and made up better reasons for why snow fell instead of what science told me. This playground in my head is always getting bigger and bigger as I continue to write stories and learn about philosophy and contemplate my place in the world. Eventually, however, I realized that my imaginary playground wasn’t enough. I am asexual. In short, I find sex repulsive. This was very confusing for a lonely high school student who wanted love and didn’t understand it. I thought I needed a boyfriend. At the time I believed in a god, but not necessarily a God one could have a relationship with, so I prayed that I would find love. In retrospect, I realized that a part of me, though not necessarily a conscious part of me, knew that I needed God. I was confirmed as a Catholic in the first few months of my Junior year. Though I had not exactly intended to, I kept going back to church for no real discernible reason. It wasn’t until October of my Freshman year of college that I knew he loved me. I went to a very Christian school and as a requirement, went to chapel services three times a week. It was the first time I had heard contemporary worship music, and that made something click. Still, I was lonely, but one night I prayed and the part of me that needed God somehow became conscious and I said “I love you” basically by accident. As soon as I said it, I felt an overwhelming feeling of love and peace.

Over the next several years I learned many things, though how I learned some of them isn’t entirely clear. It took a while for it to sink in, but I learned that Jesus loved me and had me in mind when he took on the sins of the world. He took on my sins, too. I learned that it’s not enough to love God. You have to trust him, and I do. I learned that God loves us no matter what, and he always will. Jesus hung out with people that his contemporaries literally wouldn’t talk to and wouldn’t even touch. He said that he didn’t come to condemn the world, but to save it. That means a lot. I learned that the more time I spend with him, and the more I come to know him, the more I need him. I learned that his love is unfair in the most perfect way. Most importantly, I learned that God made a way for us to literally see and touch him in the Eucharist, and this will last for all time until he comes back.

I know that God has a sense of humor.

If you had told me in my Freshman year of high school that I would be considering being consecrated to God, I would have told you that you were crazy. If you had told me that I would start going to Church every day, I would have told you that you were crazy. I didn’t know God. I didn’t like the Church. It was lame and boring, and Catholics were all old and annoying and judgmental. If you had told me that I was going to go to a Christian college and major in English, I would have told you that you were crazy. Even if you had told me what kind of music I would be writing, I would have told you that you were crazy. I wanted to be in a punk rock band. If you had told me I was going to write a novel, I would have told you that you were crazy. I tried twice and gave up twice. Among my closest friends, I am the only practicing Catholic, and I was the first to graduate college. I find irony hilarious. You would be laughing too, if you knew just how much irony I’ve lived through.

I know God’s voice.

Some people at my school said that they felt a connection to Jesus from the age of five. It took me literally twenty years and then some. I know God is infinite, and I know God is love. Love is patient, and love is kind. God has infinite patience. His sense of time is not like ours, but he still had to watch me wander around without knowing him for what, to me, was a long time. God’s call is not like a voice in my head. It’s more like I feel him pulling on my soul. I can resist. I can ignore him, but I don’t want to. At the moment I’m feeling the pull, I can’t always put it into words, but I usually can eventually. After I was confirmed I felt the pull, and it was like he was saying, “Stay with me, okay?” The pull has become more and more obvious as I’ve come to know him better. It’s not the same for everyone. He relates to everyone in the way that makes the most sense to them.

I know that sometimes God gives us more than we can handle.

You read that right. It’s a matter of trust. The month before finals in the second semester of my sophomore year of college was a nightmare. I was overworked and got very little sleep. On top of that, the dosage of my medicine wasn’t right and I was dealing with some nasty epilepsy symptoms. During that time I had one prayer: “Get me through this.” That year Tenth Avenue North released their album “The Struggle.” Through the month of April I practically had their song “Worn” on repeat. That song made me feel like I wasn’t alone, even though it’s about a completely different kind of struggle than what I was going through. The point is that I knew I couldn’t make it through on my own. I trusted God. It was my turn to say “Stay with me, okay?” and he did. I passed all my classes, and after finals, went home and slept. On occasion God has asked me to do the impossible. He has asked me to do things that I am terrified of doing. I’ve found that I can’t do these things unless my answer is “I’ll do it, but I need your help because nothing else is gonna make it happen.” If I don’t do the impossible for him, I often can’t do the simpler things that I want to do. This may seem unfair, but God wants what’s best for us, and he wants us to be happy. If we want what God wants, and if we do what he wants, we will be happy. This doesn’t meant that we’re robots. God has an individualized plan for each of us. We are all unique, and God uses and relates to all of us differently. He understands our quirks and desires and fears and preferences and works with us in the way that will cause the most good and the most happiness for us and for the people around us.

I know that God is emotional.

Jump to any part of Scripture, and you will find that things people do please God or make him angry. In the Gospels we see Jesus having fun at a wedding celebration. Later on, he gets angry at the people who were buying and selling animals in the temple. The night before his death, he stays up and prays because he’s afraid. God feels what we feel, and what we do matters to the Father who knows us and loves us more than anyone else ever could. He loves us even though we’re broken. He loves us despite everything we’ve thought or done, and he forgives everything. He’s willing to go to extremes for us because he wants us to love him back. To many, the story of salvation sounds unbelievable; crazy. To me it often sounds unbelievable and crazy. I don’t understand all of it. It’s not possible to. That’s the whole point of faith. God is way smarter and way more loving than any human ever. He gave us stories and metaphors and teachings in his Word, but he also gave us the Church so we would never be alone in our faith, and he gave us souls that will lead us to him if we allow them.

Nothing Between Us

I’ve always had different feelings when it comes to my epilepsy. When I was a kid it scared that crap out of me. It was unnatural. Something evil was in my head. What was happening? Why me? When I got medicine, it was like I had died and gone to heaven. My life had been changed. For many years it didn’t bother me at all. I never had seizures, and never even had any symptoms. Then in my Sophomore year of college–three years ago–it came back. I would have actual seizures, though not terrible ones (whatever that means). I sometimes lost control of my body. I was tired and angry, particularly angry at God. For a while, until we got it mostly under control, I was just scared.

These days my feelings are different. I have symptoms rather often, so it doesn’t scare me anymore. Being angry doesn’t really do anything either. I’ve asked God to heal me and to make it go away, and he hasn’t. I remember reading that Paul asked God to get rid of a thorn in his side. God said “no,” because it reminded Paul that he needed God. I think of my epilepsy kind of like that. I can often tell when I’m going to have issues, so these days I just think: “Okay. Whatever. It’ll only last a bit.” While I’m having issues I just try to pray, about anything, and often, I’m able to sort of “muscle” my way through it. Sometimes, if it’s bad enough that I can’t process language, I just try to focus on God in some way and wait.

I had a few minutes where I just had to wait earlier today, and I realized, that those are the only times when I just sit still. I’m not playing music. I’m not writing. I’m not listening to anyone or anything. I’m not even thinking about anything. Oddly enough, it’s the only time where there is literally nothing on my mind. It’s the only time where there is nothing between me and God: no weird thoughts; no distractions; nothing I have to do; no words.

I am someone who will prove that someone with Muscular Dystrophy can do X, Y, or Z. I absolutely love it when people assume I can’t do something because I love proving them wrong. I’m also kind of an impatient person. I wonder if God allowed me to have epilepsy as a way of saying, “Woh… slow down, kiddo. Don’t forget that I’m the one who made all this possible. Don’t let your ego get ahead of you. Don’t forget about me.”

Admittedly, I spend a lot of time in my head. As a result, thoughts about God sometimes take a back seat. Sometimes thoughts about spiritual things get confusing or complicated, so I just think “screw it,” and move on to the next thing. Sometimes God doesn’t make a whole lot of noise. He lets me mess up like a parent lets their kid mess up so they’ll learn. Honestly, I don’t know if any of this really has anything to do with my epilepsy, but I have to make it make sense somehow. It annoys me when things don’t make sense.

God can’t physically show up and bang on my door and say “Hey! I need you to listen to me for a minute!” I have to take the initiative. I be responsible and slow down. I have to take the time to read and figure out what God is trying to say. Sometimes I think he just wants me to stop and spend a little time with him, even if he doesn’t have anything to say. It’s easy to forget that God is a person, and it’s easy to forget that sometimes he just wants to be with his peeps.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

Katie’s Can Of Worms

My bird is snuggling with me and chewing on my necklace, which is cute. I just beat my dad at our nightly racing tournament. I’ve been making a lot of spiritual progress in what feels like very short order. I’m being intentional about things. It feels like I’m doing everything right. It feels like I’m in control. At the same time, I feel weird, for lack of a better word.

I find myself thinking “I can do that,” as I read about being dedicated to God in one way or another. Normally details scare me. At the beginning of each semester in school, there was always one class that would scare the crap out of me as the professor explained the requirements for success, how much homework we would have and other details. It always freaked me out, and I always did just fine. I find myself thinking about this movement in my life like I thought about that class, except I find myself thinking “I can do that.” I’m going to have to learn stuff, and I’m going to have to change… but I can do that.

Today I got in touch with the “Delegate for Religious” (whatever that means), Sister Marian, for the archdiocese of Boston. I want to meet with her. She got back to me fast. She wants to meet in person. I guess I’m bugging out because on one hand, I hear God calling me–practically yelling “Hey! Hey, Katie! Tell people about me! Love them! Love me! You can do this!” On the other hand I find myself thinking, “I’m a sinner. I’m a scatterbrain. What the heck am I getting myself into?”

I almost didn’t send Sister Marian an email today. In fact I found her email address yesterday, thought about contacting her, and found stupid reasons not to. Today, as I was somewhere between sending and trashing my message, I thought, “What’s my problem?” Then I realized I was scared, and I remembered that Jesus said not to be scared, so I hit “Send.” My message to Sister Marian contained a question: am I jumping into this too fast? She said I’m not. In fact, I don’t think you can jump into this too fast. I think this is one of those things you have to jump into head-first. I’m taking a pretty freaking big leap of faith, and I don’t know what I’m going to find when I land. Then again, I still find myself thinking not only can I do this, but I want to do this. I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a situation quite this perplexing before.

Actually, I’m freaking out about this because I’m in control. I have free will. I can say “no.” Saying “no” would be way easier. There are so many possibilities that would open up if I said “no.” In fact, as I write this, I’m realizing that life could be absolutely amazing if I said “no.” I don’t want to say “no.” For at least the last week I’ve been constantly reading things and watching things about nuns and other religious people and thinking “Yes! That’s what I want! That’s perfect!” This is actually hilarious, because when I was a kid I was scared of nuns, and when I was a teenager, I thought religious people were all old and annoying and weird.

I need a third (fourth?) hand because there’s another reason I’m freaking out. I intend to meet with Sister Marian. What if I tell her my story, and she says I’m not meant for this? What if she says, for whatever reason that I can’t take a vow in the Church? What if I’m wrong? What if I’m hearing God’s call, but I’m interpreting it wrongly? I feel like I do before any kind of audition. I hate auditions. I’ve had three big ones in my life. I auditioned for the drama club in my Freshman year of high school, and didn’t get a part. I auditioned to get into Berklee College of Music, and didn’t get in. I auditioned to be a singer for my college’s worship team and didn’t get the gig. I know this probably shouldn’t feel like an audition. I know God loves me and has a plan for me no matter what. It’s the people involved in the process that I’m worried about.

The fact of the matter is that I know God is calling me. I know for sure that he’s calling me to love people and to love him. I think; I believe that he’s calling me to something else, too, and I think I might know what that something else is. I really hope I’m right. While this process is scary, a part of me kind of feels like the kid who doesn’t know what she’s getting for Christmas and still believes in Santa Claus. I’m excited.

Okay, I definitely needed to open that can of worms. The worms have been buried outside and the can has been discarded properly. Maybe I’ll find another one tomorrow, but that’s okay. Apparently this is an emotionally complicated situation. I am now going to bed.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

 

What I Learned When I Learned

Last year I learned what “hangry” meant. I hadn’t heard anyone use it before, but when I finally did I thought it was hilarious. I was writing a paper on slang and culture, and my argument was basically that everything is a word, regardless of if it’s in the dictionary as long as it is widely used in a general social context for a sufficient period of time so that various groups of people know what it means. I thought “hangry” was a hilarious concept because I realized that I get hangry, but I never had a word for it. I get grumpy when I’m hungry. It’s great that I did find the word because now I can better monitor my emotions: “Katie, there’s no reason to be pissy. You’re hungry. Eat some food.”

Earlier today I read an article about how to make God happy. I just wasn’t finding the clarity I needed on this particular issue while reading through the Old Testament prophets. The person who wrote the article said that one makes God happy by loving. We’re basically told to love everyone–love your God; love your enemies; love your neighbors; love yourself. I want to make God happy because he makes me happy. In the article, I came across the question I’ve been perpetually asking myself: What can you possibly do for the person who literally made and owns everything?

In Church this weekend, our priest talked about what we can do during Lent to become closer to God. I usually try and give something up for Lent. Last year I gave up Facebook, and I think it did me some good. I initially thought I would just do that again because I do think I spend a little too much time on there. However, lately I’ve been a lot more intentional with what I post. I try to be positive, and I often post things from scripture that I think will be helpful for people to hear, so I figured it wouldn’t necessarily be the most productive thing to give up. Then our priest mentioned that instead of giving something up like a bad habit or a thing we value a little too much, we could spend the time during Lent to simply be more intentional with the time we dedicate to spiritual things or with our emotions.

There are times where I can be rather negative. I don’t mean to be, but when I butt heads with someone or spend a lot of time with someone I disagree with, I can think downright mean things, sometimes even for no real reason. Sometimes I’m impatient, particularly when my technology isn’t behaving, even though it’s usually an easily fixable problem. Sometimes I’ll read through posts on Facebook and think: I don’t care, NEXT; that’s stupid, NEXT; that’s wrong, NEXT; what a giant waste of time, NEXT; why is everything so negative, NEXT. There are periods where a lot of posts are negative for whatever reason, but it doesn’t help when I get annoyed at posts about football, even though I just don’t care about football. I invariably get these negative impulses and feelings when I’m hangry. I noticed myself doing this a few minutes ago, so I’ve decided that, for Lent, I’m going to make sure to monitor and, to the best of my ability, shut down unwarranted negative feelings and impulses. I’ve already started, and it’s darn hard. I keep a lot of it in my head, so I never really face any repercussions for it other than I eventually realize what I’m doing and then feel bad. I don’t want to do it anymore because it’s not loving, and I want to love better.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

What I Want To Tell You

What I want to tell you is not what you will want to hear. I want to tell you that you should forgive him. I want to tell you that you should let it go; move on; live and let live. I want to tell you that Jesus loves you. I want to tell you that Jesus loves him, despite the things he’s done–despite the things they’ve all done.

I know you won’t want to hear that. I know you won’t believe it. It’s hard for me to believe it, too. But I do believe it. I may not like it, and I may not understand it, but I think it’s true.

I want to tell you that forgiving someone and allowing them to continue what they’re doing–what they’ve done is not the same. Forgiving means letting go of your anger, seeing someone as nothing more than a broken person, and moving on. Forgiving doesn’t mean going back. Forgiving doesn’t mean that what they did is okay. It means being free. It means no longer being defined by what happened to you. It means finally being able to love.

You don’t have to forget. In fact, you shouldn’t forget because what happened was important, and you can learn from it. Others can learn from it. Remembering makes you a better person because you won’t make the same mistakes.

I love you, and I want you to be happy. I want you to forgive and let it go, but I’m afraid to tell you. I’m afraid you’ll get mad. I’m afraid you won’t understand. I want to let you know that I’m praying for you, but I don’t know if that would mean anything to you, so I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

Why Should We Care?

Something we talk about a lot at school is 1) what is beautiful and 2), why do we/should we care? I’ve recently decided, as mentioned in a few previous posts, that there is good in everything. Something good can be found in every event, situation, person, place and object in this world. Of course, goodness and beauty aren’t exactly the same thing, but I do think that beauty is inherently good. I would also like to clarify that horrible disasters, for example, are not good in themselves. They do, however, tend to bring out the good in people. Sometimes, it’s impossible to see good in things, but it is there. God has a plan, and his plan is insanely complicated and confusing and indiscernible, but it is inherently good.

There is a line in “You Do All Things Well” by Tenth Avenue North that says, “You work in beauty, even out of ugly things.” God uses people and things in completely unexpected ways to change the world and do miracles. It is partly the unexpectedness of these miracles that is beautiful. Whenever we see something that is beautiful, we can identify it as being so. However, there are things that one might not immediately label as beautiful, but some people still call them that.

I do not think however, that Beauty is so subjective. I do believe in absolutes. I have trouble identifying them, but they do exist, and it is best to adhere to them if possible. When I Googled “beauty in the Bible,” I found a whole slew of verses talking about how we should worship the Lord for his greatness and beauty, but that earthly beauty is dubious at best. There are so many commercials on TV featuring women with fake foreign accents flopping around, acting “sexy,” with bright lipstick and shiny hair. The word “sexy” triggers alarms in my head. For me, “sexy” is synonymous with “superficial,” and “superfluous.” These women, to me, are not beautiful.

Something that really freaks me out is when women who are 50 try to look 30. It’s just not “natural” to me. I get that some women do it because of insecurity issues or what have you, but it’s still kind of freaky. I suppose it’s a little judgmental of me to think this way, but I’ve always thought that one should look their age, as well as act their age. I’m not trying to bash women who are into looking pretty, and if it honestly makes them feel good about themselves, awesome. Good for them.

The point is to talk about what is beautiful. I believe that we are given examples of beauty on Earth so that we can understand God’s beauty, to a small degree. We mostly find beauty in visual art (paintings, sculpture, etc), music, and stories. Many times we call emotional sentiments beautiful. Beauty, therefore, seems to be understood primarily as an emotional response to stimuli of a certain kind. Some people, scientists in particular, call things like mathematics “beautiful,” perhaps because it gives them an understanding of something they would not have known before. In a sense, art does the same thing in a different way. We often understand love, for example, in terms of metaphors. Without these metaphors, we would only understand it as an abstract, and somewhat removed emotion.

If beauty is an emotional response, then is it an important one, or is it superfluous? Is it generally harmful or helpful to individuals or society as a whole? Why should we care about art or bother to nurture our sense of beauty? I tend to think that beauty is an important emotion to nurture. If we think about jealousy for example, we find that it can often be a motivator for positive action. I am jealous of the way my friend sings, so I strive to be a better singer. Although rather indefinable, beauty is also a positive motivator. If we can’t find it, we create it. It also seems to be a catalyst for other, stronger emotions and actions such as love, joy, or empathy.

My brother has been assigned “Hamlet” for the second time in high school, and he is thoroughly displeased. I love “Hamlet” because of the beautiful language and deeper issues within the play. Sam hates the idea of looking for deeper meanings, artistic devices, or analyzing the emotional states of characters and relating them to real life; English class type stuff. He argues that it is pointless and unproductive and says that the United States should sacrifice a generation of Children and only teach math and science in schools because our country would be so much farther along in terms of solving problems.

It’s true. We would be much farther along in those fields if a generation was sacrificed. However, would this generation understand love? would they even be able to relate to one another? Would they be able to work together to solve problems? It’s possible to a degree if part of the curriculum involved classes on cooperation, but the whole idea just sounds very stark and lonely. What would our culture be like? What would people do in their free time? If everyone was working in scientific innovation, there would be no one writing books or making movies or composing music. These are the things that people talk about and enjoy together. This scenario sounds extreme, but entertainment media is a huge part of our culture, and in terms of curing diseases or figuring out how the Big Bang happened, it is pointless.

We learn about literature and art in schools so that those of us who enjoy it can create more, quality art. At least that’s my take on it. What about religion? Would religion be banned from this society of math and science? Perhaps not if the purpose of excluding art is to solve problems more efficiently, since religious groups are often concerned with helping others and solving problems. Then again, religion and science sometimes tend to be in contention, so it might be a precarious friendship. Lastly, art and beauty often bridge gaps between cultures and create empathy between people who may not otherwise be prepared to accept each other.

Obviously, I’m very biased, but I just can’t imagine a world without art and beauty since my life revolves around it. One last question I would like to pose is, does it really matter what happened before the Big Bang? As interesting as they may be, I feel that some scientific “innovations” are just as unhelpful as our favorite movies. It’s all relative, and we all like to have our fun.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

His Time To Go

Last night my dad got a call from my grandmother. When he hung up he said that his dad probably wasn’t going to make it through the night, so he got in the truck and headed to Maine around midnight. Well, Papa made it through the night, but my dad sent a text to my mom a couple of hours ago saying that he had a fever of 105 and was having trouble breathing. We haven’t had any news since.

I cried when I went to bed last night, but the weird thing is, I haven’t felt all that sad today. Other than my dad not coming home for dinner it’s been a pretty normal day; I got up, finished my homework, played some Minecraft, went to class, went shopping with my mom and my brother, had dinner, and now I’m procrastinating working on a philosophy paper.

The only thing I really am bummed out about at the moment is that this had to happen right before Thanksgiving. A friend of mine is coming home tomorrow night and the new Hunger Games movie just came out on Friday. It was going to be like any other fun holiday weekend. Now we’re all just sitting around, waiting for something to happen. We had made plans to go out to eat in Portland for thanksgiving, and we had invited a bunch of my mom’s cousins and her two sisters. We were going to have a big party and stay in a hotel for the night. On Friday a bunch of us were going to go cut down our Christmas trees. Mom said we could still do all that if Papa goes, but I’m not sure I’ll want to. I know the best way to deal with sad things is to keep busy, so maybe I will anyway. It just seems like it would be too soon to be trying to have fun.

It would honestly be a blessing for Papa to go. He’s been in a nursing home for two years. He could barely talk, and what he did say hardly ever made any sense. I suspect the stuff he did say that made some sense was by chance. After the first year I started avoiding going to the nursing home. I never really knew Papa as a normal, healthy person. The only distinct thing I remember about him is that when I was really little, maybe even before my brother was born, dad and I would go to Grammie and Papa’s house and Papa would make me Ovaltine chocolate milk. I do feel bad about avoiding the nursing home now that he’s going to be gone for good. From what I know, I believe that he was a good person before he got sick, and I believe that he’s going to heaven. I just hope he forgives me when he gets there.

I’m not sure what things are going to be like for Grammie once he’s gone. She’s been going to the nursing home every single day since he’s been there, and my dad has gone up to Maine every other weekend, alternating with my aunt Betsy. It would be good if Grammie decided to move down here to Massachusetts, but I don’t think she will.

Honestly, it feels weird talking about this with my mom. I think she thinks that I’m not emotionally attached to Papa, but I am. I mean he is my grandfather. He’s not just some old man, even though I hardly know him. My mom tends to think that it’s not good to be sad for very long and that people should get over things as soon as possible. I guess I sort of agree with that, but getting over it does take time. I think things are going to be weird for a little while even when we’re done being sad. Life is going to be different anyway.

Well, I should get back to my paper.

The guinea pigs will always be flying.

The Hipster Strikes Again!

I am a self proclaimed hipster. I refuse to wear brand name clothes purely for the fact that they are brand name– that and they’re pointlessly expensive. I avoid shopping like the plague– unless it happens to be guitar shopping. I listen to music no one has ever heard of and only old people and fellow hipsters recognize the songs I cover. The only jewelry I wear is a little cross that my parents got me for my confirmation a few years ago and a pin that I bought from a friend (it’s currently on my favorite hat). I don’t wear nail polish. I collect odd but stylish hats. I suck at using technology– I’m always at least one or two generations behind the current “thing.” I kept my little purple iPod up until my parents got me an iPhone 5, even though I had a smart phone already. For the longest time I refused to use the internet with my smart phone.

I mention all of this because I’ve never cared a whole lot about what people thought of me– at least not the way I look. I still have arguments with my mother about shaving my legs. I think I’ve basically lost though because I think she’s probably right about image being a significant part of performance. I can honestly say that I almost never notice what bands or artists are wearing, but I’m not particularly observant sometimes– a lot of times, actually. I do care deeply about what people think of me personality wise though. I want people to know that I’m caring and sensitive and even naive. I really am still a kid in a lot of ways.

The truth is that I can be selfish and judgmental, and I hate that about myself. I try very hard not to be, but it’s like it was just put into my head without me knowing and it seeps through sometimes. I think a lot of things have made me skeptical and cynical over the years. I think it was a combination of the crap my friends and I dealt with in high school and all the terrible things I see on TV. Sometimes the things that make me laugh simultaneously make me feel guilty. I know I think too much, and that’s part of it. As I’ve said many times before, it has helped me a lot to be able to say “I don’t know,” when it comes to big, scary questions. When a “yes” or “no” answer could create waves or just freak me out, I satisfy myself and try to satisfy others with not knowing.

I am afraid of over simplifying or over complicating things. Neither usually has good results. I’m especially afraid of doing this when it comes to my faith. There are things that I vehemently believe, and I will defend my beliefs, but there are questions I just don’t know the answers to– most people don’t, and sometimes I think taking a stand one way or another can cause more harm than good. There are things that I think humans just can’t know. If we could know everything I think it would make God seem less significant. I want to need God. It seems weird to want to rely on someone because I’m a very independent person in a lot of ways. I don’t know how to explain it. I guess needing him keeps me humble. Knowing he’s with me all the time makes me want to be a better person. I honestly do think that a lot of bad things happen because people don’t love and don’t fear God. I don’t want to sound preachy, but it logically just makes sense. If people believe that there is an ultimate judge watching over them, they will try to be the best people they can be. Of course this is what would ideally happen since people have always and probably always will twist scripture and put God into a mold that suits them best.

I read a blog post last night talking about how people will always pick and choose what they like from scripture. It’s impossible not to. I think it is possible to objectively look at it and pick out the big, overarching message. Most of scripture can be boiled down to “God is awesome,” “Do the right thing” and “Don’t be a jerk.” Most religions and philosophies have a moral code that can be broken down into these three things. Christians often call other Christians brothers and sisters, but the family extends beyond just believers in Christ. Everyone is included: Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, gay, straight, crazies, nerds, hippies, actors, artists; everyone from the dudes who pick up our trash to the CEOs of huge international companies. We are all equal in the eyes of our Father and we should all love each other as family.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!