Tuesday, February 19, 2013

wrong place, right place.

Direction. What is life, and where am I going? Occasionally we find ourselves stripped of the very things we use to stabilize our purpose. Our hopes are pinned on nothing less than our inability to see the future. There are too many decisions to make. At the end of the day, I wonder what I'm doing here.

I've never volunteered at a soup kitchen, though I've wanted to. Not that soup kitchens hold the key to the world, but there in the outstretched hands, grateful mouths, pots-a-stirring for all the right reasons, we find something obvious: a purpose for being. I am here because I am helping. I am here because I am needed. I am here because I am good at this something I've been tasked to do. Maybe my heart returns to the practicality of soup in an effort to quantify my existence: if I did that, helped like that, served like that, I could tell myself the reasons. I could tell myself the results.

For many of us, and certainly for me, meaning is more elusive than that. Why do I work in this office, why do I commute, why do I file these papers, plan these events, sign these documents? "For the paycheque," comes my immediate response. This answer leaves me feeling cheated, though I need the paycheque. "Because you like the job," comes the secondary reply. This feels insufficient, though I like my job.

Perhaps the meaning in my work comes not from the work itself, but how I handle myself while learning it. Maybe I am here to be gracious, hard working, and patient. Maybe I am here to learn how to stay, or steady the boat, or set up boundaries against those who'll never like me. Maybe I'm here to let those boundaries come crashing down.

Whatever the reason, I am here. It is the right place because I am in it, can choose how to be in the midst of it, can learn to love when the unforgiving gossip hits. I can learn to be better than I am, here. My soup may not be served in bowls, but in pleasant conversations, absolute bends toward restoration, and hope. I can find my reason there, in that last sentence.

Friday, February 8, 2013


In highschool, right at the end, I became obsessed with a very cheesy pop song. We've all been there, I'm sure; our old favorites are just slightly embarrassing (another song I found on the old burnt CD is Freaky Girl by Shaggy, case in point...).

The song I loved was California, by the ever-cool duo, Wave. If you're curious as to how many people liked the song: the official music video on youtube has a whopping 4,161 views (well... 4,162. I just watched it). I should point out, my visions of California were much cooler than the ones in the video. Also, please pay no attention to the subject matter of the lyrics of both those songs. Tequila? Players? No no. Youth group and Bible Study. I digress.

I listened to California and talked so much about it that a friend of mine, in our parting goodbyes at grad, wished me good luck on my trip to California. Having spent my life tied to a reputation I wasn't sure how to get rid of, something about the idea of leaving appealed to me. I wanted to drive somewhere and be anonymous, all the while learning self-sufficiency, social skills, and the ever elusive art of being flirtatious. As life would have it, my California never arrived. I went to college, worked summer jobs, accumulated student loans, and didn't leave the country.

And yet, I am happier for staying. My California dreams were fulfilled by things unexpected: Saskatchewan winters, dingy basement suites and rusted cars. I traded a bikini body I'd never have for experience in the arts, I let go of beach side parties for quiet nights at home. My social skills developed slowly, and I still can't flirt for the life of me (though thankfully, my boyfriend thinks I'm cute), but in the end and through it all, I learned who I was. In hindsight, California, or the idea I had of it, would not have been for me. Oh what grace is it that I didn't get what I wanted.

This is the tricky part of dreaming: it is vital, but we must remain open handed in the dream's revelation. How can we let go of our imagination's forming, and still progress? Good question. While I haven't totally figured out the balance, I do know one thing. What causes us to dream will be satisfied, if only with time, work, and patience. What I wanted out of my imagined life, I got, but not by living the life I imagined.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

better for it

amazing grace, that fence around
the edge of every imperfection
found inside my heart.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

there is nothing cute about poison

the Gossip sits aloft and falsely mighty,
jeering through narrowed eyes,
freshly wetted lips, pleasure wrung hands.
the Life sits unaware, battered without prior knowledge,
learning the difference all too painfully
(if they ever learn of it) between Truth and belief.
that sick slick sickening sound you hear
is the communal voice of those who celebrate
only when others have fallen; those who strive
not to know, but to know first. Weakness
is anything shown to the wrong person;
Justified is the twisting of anything found.
even love can be ruined here, if seen
through the narrow hole of a windbag,
if echoed off the walls of empty caverns we once knew as people.

found on pinterest. origin unknown.

Monday, February 4, 2013

the bright side

source: pinterest

There's hope yet. I got more done on my book yesterday with a near-5 year old in my midst than I've done all year. Something about having to squeeze the minutes makes you do so. Productivity becomes the sweet nectar of time well spent, instead of the excessive laze of time well wasted. Between play time, dinner time, snack time, game time, and bed time, I wrote 4 pages of details, revisions, and ideas.

My editor, by way of her noted comments, ran around my brain and switched on lightbulbs, gleefully and sweetly showing me the glaring holes in my manuscript. All the while, for that entire half hour of effort, the near-5 entertained herself, and I sat stunned; my muse, or my heart, showed up. I wrote.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

all over the place

I'm worried.

What if this job - this linear, logic based, puzzle solving rationale requiring awesome job - what if it's the death of me? Not me. My creativity. After he'd finished lovingly installing a wicked stereo and sound system into my wee-one-room apartment, Boyfriend was treated to one of the best things in life: the sound of my voice. Sarcasm aside, I did play him a song I wrote and recorded a couple years ago. I'd been hesitating to show him, and now seemed like the time. My shaky singing was heard with remarkable clarity on such brilliant sounding speakers, and his response was as follows: Ashley, you are in the wrong job, you need to be creating.

In a way, or many ways, it's true. I daydream about staying home all day not so I can stay home all day but so I can finally map out, analyze, and extensively scribble onto paper all the ideas in my head. Character building takes time and silence and a few good years of solitude. Doesn't it?

The thoughts are always tumbling. The books in my head are being formed, albeit slowly, albeit intangibly, and the writing swirls in my brain all day. What's missing is the pen to paper, the long-thought-out written word, the spontaneously crafted sentences and the unmistakeable sound of clicking keys. They're all missing because I forget them, because I don't bother, because I am too busy sorting out the boxes and start times, or because I am at home, organizing (for the hundredth time) that pile of clothes.

Perhaps this is what Steven Pressfield was addressing in his book, "The War of Art." Resistance, that sneaky overshadow, is distracting me with housework, bill payments and overtime. My Muse, patiently intriguing, has forgiven the dust on her skirt hems (how long since I last swept my kitchen?) and only waits for me to sit down and take note of all she wants to give me. Plot lines and story arcs, forwards and chapter endings, edits and ideas. I bring her tea and she sips it, and I run around like a person who's never wanted to write.

I'm worried my intentions are all I've got.