Wednesday, October 19, 2011

When you build bridges you can keep crossing them.

Did they tell you, you should grow up
when you wanted to dream?
Did they tell you, better shape up
if you want to succeed?
I don't know about you,
who are they talking to?
They aren't talking to me.
No noise but the clothes in the dryer. No movement but the dancing shadows from the lone candle's flame. No company, but the warmth of my coffee mug rapidly escaping as the drink is consumed. Lonely evenings can only mean one thing: ponderings about life and questions about who I am(in case you're unfamiliar with this routine).

How is it possible to miss something you've never had?

I can remember being 8 or 9 years old when my mother taught my brother how to do his laundry when he was 12. Her thinking was that if my sister could learn to do it when she was his age, it was time for him to learn. I felt left out and demanded that she show me how to do my own laundry too. I also remember having my own ideas, from a very early age, of what a home should be like if it were to be in order. I don't really ever remember a time, once my awareness exceeded myself, where I wasn't picking up after people, cleaning up after people, putting their things away, keeping things in shape, telling everyone what to do. It wasn't long before I was dubbed by my siblings, "Mama Bekah."

"Mama Bekah has spoken!" they would say. It was their own way of humoring me by making me think I really did have a say in how their attitudes and behaviors would manifest themselves in our home. In my family, you are loved if you are teased and picked on. Because love, to us, means a lot of things including not letting anyone "get the big head," as my brother would say. Sarcasm: it keeps you humble.

They would (and continue to) tease me about my homemaking skills (or lack thereof, I got the laundry and cleaning down, but the cooking and sewing need a bit of work). It wasn't that I was terribly bad at any of those things, but they knew this was not all I desired. They knew there was - and is - something inside of me that yearns for adventure, something different, out of the ordinary. My mom always told me that while I can be a predictable, simple-living, practical, safe individual, "there's something in you that longs for the exotic." They taunted me with these ideas of what a good little homemaker I would be, knowing the idea bothered me just a tad, somewhere in the back of my mind, in a room I hadn't found the way to yet.

I have many dreams. They have each found their paths to a home in my heart over the years in their own special ways. They accumulate one by one with each new experience I have and each new love I acquire. Some have stayed with me consistently, some have bloomed, withered, and died. But the one dream, that has had neither a beginning, nor an end, just a constant existence in my basic makeup as a person, was to be a mom. The teasing about how I always have to keep things together for stuck with me. Somewhere deep down, I knew that while it was completely ridiculous for me to think as a ten-year-old that I should be able to run the lives of my siblings, those inclinations and desires came from a place within me that simply wants to make everything better for others. This thing in me that wants to solve your problems and clean up after you and make sure you're safe and watch out for you so you don't hurt yourself. This thing in me that just wants everything to be okay for you. The mother instinct. Even now with kids not 5, 6, or 7 years younger than myself, I have this uncontrollable urge to take care of them. To bake bread for them and be there for them and drive them places and look out for them. I don't know why, but I just love them too much. I know with absolute certainty that I would do anything for any of them at any time of day. Because that's who I am and that's what I was meant to do. It's what I want to do.

The dilemma I make of it is whether or not I can do that along with all the other things I want to do. I feel an expectation that if I don't fulfill all these dreams because of this original desire, than I have not reached my potential as a woman. And I must admit, I do worry about that sometimes. But if I had to give up everything for this one dream, I would. I just don't believe God would ask me to. For what can I offer my children of myself if there is no self to give? If I have allowed my personal identity to be dissolved into the role of a mom, who will they have as a mom? I have no problem with the idea of sacrificing. I will gladly do that for the opportunity of motherhood. I just have a problem with losing myself completely.

I do long for the exotic. I do fear a life of never getting away. But after a time, I wouldn't mind it. As much as I want to do all the things I want to do, there's something appealing and endearing to the idea of sitting on a couch folding sheets and towels.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A statement of belief... about things.

An interesting discussion took place in the after-class chatty moments of walking out the door with my beloved professor (easily among the list of top ten women who inspire me) and another classmate. It began over a discussion of some uneducated comments someone made on someone else's Facebook status. It led me to thinking about how many times an opinion has been made known and responded to with absolute harshness and opposition before ever being fully understood or clarified.

Now, while I don't always support the sharing of feelings through a Facebook status update, I do realize that we are all different, and sometimes events and emotions swell up to the point that the venue in which a person expresses such welling up can't always be thought through. A time and a place, and all. I understand. One of the things my professor said after class was that it shocked her how easily people can get angry over someone who disagrees with him or her. And it is shocking, not just in the area of social networks, but in life in general. People cannot realize or accept the fact that the world is not full of humans who agree with each other and with themselves on every area and every angle in every perspective of every issue relating to every kind of human being in every culture of every standing and background. And thank God for that.

Another thing she said was that people who don't understand such opinions and statements of belief and respond in such passionate ignorance are uneducated because the only other people they talk to are ones who think and believe exactly the same way they do. And so they are merely reflecting and regurgitating each other. Iron cannot sharpen iron if they are not opposing each other. You will not grow if you are never opposed.

My requests for humankind (for today):
1: Please do not personally debate disagreements over religious and political issues through a social network of any kind (or texting, while we're at it). It is impersonal, cold, and somewhat cowardly.

2:Please know what you're talking about.

3:Please, please know what you're talking about.

4:If you insist on writing out your feelings, please spell your words completely. In other words, the second person pronoun needs all three of its letters. We are intelligent human beings, and the laziness of not adding two more characters to a word is unacceptable.

5:Please understand that the world is also not full of humans who are out to attempt with every action and word to destroy your belief system and tear down your values. Some, like myself, are curious, passionate ponderers who simply want to know more. We will never know more unless we understand those who are not of our school of thought. When we ask questions, when we challenge your statements, it is for the purpose of challenging ourselves in order to expand our understanding beyond what it is.

So stand up to your statements when challenged because I want to be smarter.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The basis of art is truth, both in matter and in mode. -Flannery

It has always been a dream of mine to work as a librarian. The idea of living and working every single day in a world consumed with books is one of the most thrilling vocations I can imagine. My picture of heaven includes a lot of things, but one in particular is an endless shelf full of books. Kind of like the library the Beast showed Belle. It makes me giddy inside.

I bought a Kindle. I'm not ashamed. I have a reason for it and I have justified it in my mind, so no worries. But I will never give up the feel of binding and paper between my hands. I will never give up the ink stains on my thumbs or the cramps in my finger joints from being strained in the same position of balancing an open book. I will never give up my library card. I don't care whether people read only from hard copies or only from digital formats. I care that they read.

Some people are not readers, and while I accept that, I just don't understand it. I feel like there is a laziness of sorts at the root of it. Literacy is a gift, a privilege. People don't realize that there still are classes and societies and cultures where the ability to read is not as prominent as the class, society and culture in which I find myself. The choice to not read, I believe, is to forfeit the chance to expand the horizons of one's mind, the perimeters of one's understanding. Knowledge is power in many senses, and reading is the basis of how knowledge is attained for oneself. The written word is a gift. Literature is an eternal conversation, in a way, and by reading and writing, we add to that conversation. We make our voices heard by writing as well as listening to the voices of others by reading.

Some people are avid readers, some people simply read books. It is not important what pace a person goes in reading or what amount a person reads. Some people like to go slow, some like to flit through the pages. All modes are for various reasons. And that doesn't even really matter. It matters to me (and to every reader and writer) that the word simply be read.

So. Read.