Friday, July 27, 2012

love in the aisles


The baby was as cute as a cliche; blue eyes, red cheeks, blonde curly-cues, and alligator tears. Her mom was frazzled but peaceful, trying to soothe the little one as the toddler played in the front of the cart. Her groceries were piling high on the conveyer belt and the line behind her was growing. Everywhere you looked, there were women giving her smiles of condolence or one line encouragements; the mom only saw how much time she was taking; her 'mom guilt' was rising fast. The friendly Eastern lady in front of me instructed two of her three statuesque daughters to help the young woman load her groceries in the cart; she has four kids of her own, she told me, she knows how hard it can be at the store. The young mom stood there holding baby, fumbling for a soother, kissing the tiny forehead, thanking the daughters. The teller turned around every 9 seconds or so to smile at them. With her groceries finally loaded, and her new milk in there too (the first one was broken and leaking), she readied herself to push the piling cart outside; cereal and children balanced precariously. A female staff member, ready in her vest, rushed over all smiles, to push the cart for the mom we all wanted to care for.

There is something so remarkable about the goodness in humanity, because it plays out so simplistically. Grand gestures amaze, but small acts of kindness heal the soul. To see so much happy grace play out at once brought tears to my eyes; I've been hoping to see more of the good. Somehow I'd forgotten where to look: in the everyday.


artist unknown



Tuesday, July 24, 2012

talking horse heads and early morning coffee



My sleep this week has been restless, disjointed, and full of dreams. Lucid dreams, at that. Because I've been waking up so much in the night, sporadically and half-way, my dreams have mixed with reality to the point where I can't always tell what's a vision and what's not. It's all been fine until the wee hours of this morning, when I got back from the bathroom (I think I had just gotten up, hadn't I?) and passed a masked man in my room. The kicker, ironically legless, was the laughing horse head.

Sigh.

You may now commit me.
I would rock a straight jacket.

Boyfriend's early morning texts, and the ability to say "my dreams were terrible" out loud, calmed me. So did the hot coffee he brought to my door 20 minutes later. Anita says, "Keep him". You know what, Anita? I think I will.

I've been thinking a lot this week of goals and their purpose, and purpose in and of itself. Am I fulfilling mine? I've begun to wonder. The edit on my book is underway, and I'm writing more now than I have been in recent months. I've been thinking seriously about things like soup kitchens, hiking, and travel. My finances are actually in order, for the most part. But what if I die tomorrow? Will my purpose have been met? Does purpose extend posthumously?

I suppose I want my life to mean something, and I want to die when I'm old. I want more time to conquer the nights and revel in early morning coffees; I want more time to know what I am for.



Sophie Blackall; Bedtime.


.

Friday, July 20, 2012

no escape from reality


My keyboard is dusty. I've spent the past few minutes subconsciously counting flecks, finding thought.

This morning's too-early rise and subsequent too-early arrival at the office was hard on my body. I ache, my eyes hurt, and thank you Lord for coffee. I stayed out past my bedtime last night. Way out. Boyfriend and I decided against seeing a movie (is everything shown in vomit-inducing 3D these days!? It appears so); we stayed up late in a conversation instead. Up Late conversations are my favorite.

This morning's news has added a heavy feel to the day. Moviegoers shot.

Rain outside. Seems fitting; like the clouds read the news before I did. The office conversations have all centered here: on the irony, on the sadness, on the questions. I scroll down the page and see stories from across the globe much like this one; no movie theatres, just streets and parking lots. Bombs and ammunition, and hate; so much hate. So much more disassociation.


I miss them, sometimes, those days of innocence. Remember when we were children? There were good things to look for, growth and joy to be found. Now, I know these things are still here, and will stay so long as we choose them. But I look at this shooter, I look at the bombs in desert sand, and the government leaders and the armies of men who fear difference and I wonder when good will win.

It might be easy, in a way, to gather these stories like armour, stack them up like brick walls on a house and stay nestled tight inside. But I'd rather take those stories, stones that they are, and throw them one by one into the ocean. So they disappear; so they push the water up so high it floods the land, healing many.

Naive though it may be.


Simple decisions change our world and the course of the days of many. What we choose, and when, and how we get there: these things matter. I am no longer innocent, but I am optimistic. What I do with my time here is up to me. Lord, may I use it well.


Fun Bathing by Tan Choon Wee of Singapore
Digital Camera Photographer of the Year, 2009.


Saturday, July 14, 2012

three cheers for crappy firsts



Well folks, Boyfriend kicked my proverbial pants kicked into gear and I've actually completed (or, am within 5 pages of completing) the second round of edits on my book. You should see all the pen marks, scratched out sentences, re-written dialogue and whole paragraphs, arrows, circles, notes and new ideas; you almost can't see the original text. It's amazing, really. I'm almost at the "re-type" stage. THIS IS A BIG DEAL.

Boyfriends can be useful!

Here's what happened: I was whining. My recent declaration, where I stated I have overcome the need to be perfect, was short lived. Admittedly, I floundered, reverting quickly to wholehearted self-loathitude."What a terrible first book," I said; "what an embarrassment as a writer. This is such an awful attempt at a first book. I'd like to have another first book instead. I should start one of my other ones and call that one my first book."

Then a very simple sentence climbed through the phone, over my earlobes and into my brain, "Ashley, it's your first book whether you like it or not. You may as well finish it."

Huh.

Boyfriend, must you always be the logical one?



CLOUDY PHOTOGRAPHY OF LISSY ELLE