Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Don't just go through the motions

One of my favorite videos, as it speaks so well to the heart of what this blog is all about. Click on the title to hear it.

C. S. Lewis on the Danger of Love

C. S. Lewis on the Danger of Love

Love can be dangerous, but loneliness is far worse.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Author of our lives

My Life as a Book

Is it penned by many authors,
Each persuading, pushing, even playing on my emotions
To write what should be my story?

When I was born, I held the pen in my hand;
It was my book to write,
My name to go on the cover.
Oh, I had such ambitions as I grew older,
Ambitions for good, meaningful, praiseworthy accomplishments.

But over time, "they" told me that the life I was writing
For myself
Couldn't sell as well as the life they had in mind for me.
I wanted my life to matter--to be acceptable. Right?
So I loosened my grip on my book,
And let others write their words
Into my book.

Yes, it was still my book,
Maybe not so much inside anymore.
But if people were to pick it up
And look at the cover,
It would be my name they'd see.

Couldn't I just show those readers the pages,
Written by people who promised they were looking out for my best interests?
"Look, I didn't write those things
For my life.
They promised it would make my life better."

By now, you know that's not possible.
For in each of the books of our lives,
When the final chapter is written,
And our legacy is read by those who follow,
It will be my name, your name, on the covers of our own books;
Our names inextricably connected with who we were on this earth,
Imprinted on the hearts of our friends, loved ones, colleagues, even strangers.

Whether we have as partners in the authorship of our books
People who influenced our lives for better,
Or for worse,
The final editing is always our choice.

My book is still being written.
Many of the words I'd rather be erased are, nevertheless,
Indelibly etched into the pages.

But today, I start a new chapter,
And I welcome your input.
But please keep in mind,
Since it's my name on the cover--
My legacy after I leave this earth,
I will prayerfully decide,
Along with whatever God wills,
how the rest of the book turns out.

Also, may we all remember,
That our attempts to influence
The stories of other people's lives
Will be reflected in the pages of our own books.

Friday, January 27, 2012

My creative wife

I was reading a book on writing prompts, and one of the suggestions was to write about the most creative person I know. Being a writer, my first thought was toward a writer, painter, etc. But as I thought more and more, I realized that my wife, Kim, is creative in so many different ways. Here are some, in no particular order:

  • Teacher: My Kim teaches in a large classroom of 2-year olds in a local daycare, a job she's been doing for several years. And yet she always finds a way to entertain & love those in her charge. She sings songs she's heard, or songs she makes up out of the blue ("Sing a song about this chair, Ms. Kim"; and she'll throw together a song on the spot). Her children run to her when they see her, and even after they've left her classroom are so thrilled when they see her again.
  • Home decor: My wife was central in decorating our home when we moved to Texas several years back. The variety of knick-knacks in our home, the pictures of loved ones, the warm colors makes it a place I enjoy living in and coming home to.
  • Cooking: She doesn't have professional training, but somehow she knows how to take some ingredients and spices and, just because she can, put just the right combination of flavors together to make a delicious meal. Her repertoire of "best meals" is ever-growing. And she just recently became our resident expert turkey carver.
  • Scrap-booking: She hasn't done enough of this, in my humble opinion. The one she put together after our wedding made me think of her as a natural. It's so much more memorable than just pictures in an album. I'm not sure when she'll feel led to do something similar again, but I do look forward to it.
  • Helping me write personal letters: Though she doesn't think of herself as a writer, when it comes to writing to people, Kim has a knack for knowing just what to say and how to say it. I depend on her to help me write when the message might not be easy to read. And when the letter is finished, it's much more palatable than I could ever have made it.
  • Ideas for entertainment: She's so gifted at coming up with things to do, places to go, restaurants to dine at. She longs to live a vibrant life, and my life is so much richer as a result.
  • Dessert appearance: My Kim can't just plop ice cream into a bowl, or throw cookies or candies onto a plate. There has to be some kind of design; at the least, it needs to look like a work of art. I try to do likewise to give her a pleasant eating experience, but alas it just doesn't make the grade. Thank heavens we both love good food even if it doesn't always stand up to visual scrutiny.
  • Gift-wrapping: She certainly could get a job at a store during the holidays wrapping presents. Whether it's wrapping the gift or putting it into a gift bag, her efforts make each gift very visually enjoyable .
  • Holiday decorations: With a large array of decorations at hand, and a mind and heart that know how to arrange them, Kim makes our home feel so special each holiday. We'll (as in she decorates, I help bring boxes of decorations in & out of the garage) be decorating for Valentine's Day soon. With her lover's heart, no doubt she will help make our home ever more romantic.
  • Johnny: That's her son. He's a young man now, a very talented musician and chef, and a good-hearted person. Her love for him, shown in how excited she is to see him when he visits, and how often she reaches out to him across the country, makes me believe that she has been and is doing her part to help mold him into a man that will leave this world a better place.
Thank you, my love, for bringing so many new dimensions into my life. I look forward to each new day with you.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Greatest (says who?!)

I love music, and I'm especially interested in watching videos of or listening to tracks of great musicians (e.g. vocals, bass, drums, guitar). What also interests me is the discussions about who is the greatest in a certain element. Take drums for example. Some people look primarily for speed, some for finesse, some for raw power, some for changes in rhythm, & some for any combination of the above--or more (placing different levels of importance on each). As I'm sure you'd guess, there are often heated (and, sadly, insulting) debates that ensue because each person comes in to the discussion insisting that their criteria are the ones to go by.

As one writer among a sea of writers with varying levels of skill and experience, I no doubt would be assessed by 100 different readers with almost as many differing opinions as to the quality of my work, and whether it's entertaining, significant, and so on. I always get encouraged when I read of now legendary authors who were once told they should pursue another profession. I would imagine that some now legendary musicians were told the same thing at some point. But these artists found their niche, and the world is richer for that.

I'm certainly not waiting for legendary status to be bestowed upon me, but I hope that any of you in the creative arts, who have been told by some critic to pursue another vocation or avocation, will not give up on your dream too easily--if you are truly led to keep writing or singing or whatever. This list by Rolling Stone of the 100 greatest singers includes some people that, if considered purely technically, don't have the greatest voices. But they bring something that people love. Maybe your writing (or singing, etc) or mine wouldn't always make Messrs. Strunk or White happy, but don't let that alone stop you. If even a few readers get something out of it, that's enough. And, who knows, maybe more will follow.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

First impressions of Josh, Bruce, et al.

Ever have somebody tell you of a wonder experience they had, but when you tried it you were left feeling flat?

Josh Groban is a remarkable singer. I know that now. But one of the first times I heard him was when I saw him on a TV special. I had heard his amazing voice on the radio once or twice, and as I watched the special I eagerly awaited his powerful and soaring vocals.

It was not to be. Josh didn't "have it" that night. I started to wonder if maybe he really wasn't so great, that maybe what I heard on the radio was "souped up." I wondered if the next time he came on the radio, would I listen? Well, I gave Josh another chance (as though he really needed me to!), and I received assurance he's every bit as good as they say.

Bruce Lee? How could anybody not know of his legendary skills? What I'm reminded of is a fictional moment in one of his films (at least I think it was him; somebody please correct me if I'm wrong). Bruce is incognito as a repairman--kind of a dorky repairman, that is. Of course, as he's being ridiculed, us viewers know his true identity. We eagerly wait for those who mock him to get their "comeuppance."

I used to judge people on first appearances. I don't anymore. Who knows but that some lanky, dorky "twerp" might beat the living daylights out of me, or somebody who had a bad moment of singing comes back to show their true stuff.

I just hope that I'm given another chance if what you read the first time isn't so promising (not that I'll ever approach the greatness of other writers, like Bruce & Josh have stood out in their respective fields). I guess I'm speaking for others out there as well--writers, actors, singers, and so on, who do the best they can, but don't always hit the mark. I realize with so many "artists" out there, sometimes it's true that you may not get a second chance to make a first impression. But oh, how wonderful when the second--or third?--chance is a breakthrough moment.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Potentially Great

As he reclined in his easy chair, he reveled in the great accomplishments he would certainly one day achieve. He was so good at starting everything that he'd no doubt finish something real soon. His future was limitless; so what that where he was now was no better than where he'd been for a while. "Soon; just wait," he kept insisting. He thanked God for the joy that could be his--as soon as his circumstances were agreeable, that is. He boasted of God's might--whenever the challenges he faced weren't larger than he could handle. He was ready to sacrifice all for a bigger purpose--so long as his comfort wasn't diminished in the process

He had yet to realize that the legacy he was waiting to leave to the world was, each moment of his life, already being left to the world.