intjonathan: (Default)
During an intense discussion about the emotional intelligence of one of her exes, Tara suggested that I do "manhood counseling," and while I'm hardly qualified to teach other men the way through that wilderness when I'm barely learning the land myself, I thought she may be on to something. Most of my female friends express continual frustration with the difficulty of finding, much less keeping, a man that they like. Most of my guy friends are flailing through their twenties, single, directionless, and bored. (No offense to said guy friends - just calling it like you say it.) Look around you and count the men in your life that you'd want to have your back in a fight and I suspect you'll end up with a real short list.

I don't claim to have any secrets about this, in fact the ideas here are cribbed from a book by John Eldredge, Wild at Heart. If you have the time to read this essay more than once, you should stop right now and go get a copy of the book for yourself, because the best I can do in an introduction is summarize the enormous concepts in his book. I also don't claim to have all the answers; these ideas are not new, Eldredge just does a great job explaining them, and hopefully I can do them justice.

Read more... )

intjonathan: (air)
under parking lot lights and shadows,
we are all of us shadows,
shadows holding shadows in the viscous darkness

dark sails by niralisse on Treemo

I wish my life could have the obvious solutions I see in everyone else's. Of course, I usually see those 30 minutes after talking to them.

Maybe 30 minutes after I die everything will make sense, and I'll have to call myself back and say hey, it just came to me, the answer is this.
intjonathan: (girl)
It took a dream about wilderness to remind me that I'm in the middle of one. This song by Diana Krall about the death of her mother awakened me to the feeling of homesickness, a new experience for me. This stretch of wildness is different, as I will have nowhere to go when I leave it. I step into the road, and know not where it ends.

Diana Krall - "Departure Bay"

The fading scent of summertime
Arbutus trees and firs
The glistening of rain-soaked moss
Going to the Dairy Queen at dusk
Down narrow roads
In autumn light

The salt air and the sawmills
And the bars are full of songs and tears
To the passing of the tugboats
And people with their big ideas

I just get home and then I leave again
It's long ago and far away
Now we're skimming stones and exchanging rings
And scattering and sailing from Departure Bay

The house was bare of Christmas lights
It came down hard that year
Outside in our overcoats
Drinking down to the bitter end
Trying to make things right
Like my mother did

Last year we were laughing
We sang in church so beautifully
Now her perfume's on the bathroom counter
And I'm sitting in the back pew crying

I just get home and then I leave again
It's long ago and far away
Now we're skimming stones and exchanging rings
And scattering and sailing from Departure Bay

A song plays on the gramophone
And thoughts turn back to life
We took the long way to get back
Like driving over the Malahat
Now a seaplane drones and time has flown

I won't miss all the glamour
While my heart is beating and the lilacs bloom
But who knew when I started
That I'd find a love and bring him home

Just get me there and then we will stay
A long time off and far away
Now we're skimming stones and exchanging rings
We're scattering and diving in Departure Bay

intjonathan: (Default)
Part 1 is also available.

My father never taught me much about hard work. I think he was too busy working hard to talk much about it. In my memory, hard work was something I just did, and was praised for. Whether it was expected or not seemed to be beside the point.

But success always came easy to me, and accomplishing what would take hard work for others never felt very hard. If I could succeed at what others called hard, could I credit my success to that same hard work? Or was it something else? Things I came to call difficult often turned out to be unreasonable or unnecessary, and life went around it. Things I found very difficult were rarely made unavoidable. Over time, I learned how to avoid difficult things.

This talent came by way of two factors. First, my late entry into the schooling system made me older than most of the kids around me. A few months can make a big difference early in life. Second, my parents had little occasion to force me into things when I was doing so well.

But when college came, I found myself unprepared for the breathtaking difficulty of many classes. Not only were they hard, but nothing I could do would make them easier. I became content with lower and lower grades, until bottom-end Cs were cause for celebration. When graduation came, was again unprepared, this time for departure. The dark secret about graduation, the one no recent graduate will tell you, is that no matter how much you wish to be done with college, you will miss it. Leaving school is a harder class than any you will take there. You think to yourself, "if only I could get a real job, I'd be pulling in bank and go home and just chill." And sure, you can do that, but that doesn't make it easy. There's no "but I'm in college" excuse at that point.

This move has been, and is, very hard. I keep not buying food, not organizing, not acting like this is my favorite place in the world because it's easier. Easier to pretend it doesn't matter, because I just moved. But if I keep acting like I'm going to go home sometime soon, this will never be home. And I may not want it to be, but it must be.

But what kind of home do I want? What kind of life would I have if it wasn't defined by a routine that changes every 3 months? Will I still be getting up at 8:30 every morning next January? Next June?

It is a hard, unavoidable, and very necessary problem. A river crossing in winter.
September arrived on my doorstep today, a chill wind and a gray forecast. It was not welcome this year.
intjonathan: (air)
What a long, trying and stressful move. I spent most of the morning halfheartedly moving the already-boxed items out into the spare room, hoping it would help me feel more ready. It did little. Everyone was focused on moving Whitney out, as she was the morning move. By the afternoon it was my turn to get together a vanload, but it involved moving all the furniture from my room, which was hard. I have a remarkable talent for filling flat surfaces with crud. In many cases, the crud on the surfaces of my room had been there for over a decade. The reason it stayed on that surface was because there was no better place for it. Now, a better (or at least different) place must be found, and after 20 minutes of helpless panicking, I shoveled the whole thing into a box. Boxes of "stuff", and I hadn't even started loading the car. It was not a good start.

I took a load of furniture down later, and made an impromptu stop at Jared's, which is 10 blocks south. He greeted me with beer and quesadillas, a welcome respite. Him and Ryan and Josh also helped me unload the furniture, which went quickly. I tried to take 65th home and got lost. I was tired.

I am tired. Change is hard, moving is harder, pulling up such deep roots is hardest. Every new home carries a vision of the life you will lead there, the things you'll do and surround yourself with, the rhythm you will keep. Things that fit that vision stay, things that don't, go. Do this enough times and you'll have nothing from some of the old lives. But what happens when the old life is much stronger than the vision?

In my case, it meant mood swings. I'd try to pack stuff in my room and feel panic. I'd be unpacking into the new place and feel hope. I'd drive between them and sometime around 220th it would change like weather.

I only pulled one pair of underwear from my dresser before I moved it. I still need to shower tonight. Thankfully everyone else is in bed. I forgot to keep a good shirt here for church tomorrow. Tomorrow may be the last time I attend church in our current sanctuary, which has been there since the 60s. The fire damage from the port-a-potty arson was bad enough that the building is a total loss. Soon the insurance claim will go though, and the building will be condemned and demolished. The church I grew up in will be entirely gone.

Creation, destruction. Every new being comes out of the death of another. Snakes eat their old skin, like the tail of the ouroboros.

What will grow in the fertile soil of my boyhood's grave?
intjonathan: (Default)
I've felt all week that I should be doing something with my free time, as I've got more of it than I'll be getting for a long while hence. But what better to do with free time than nothing? Nothing needed my attention when I got back, I got my job back right away so that settled itself. Hopefully I'll find a place to live real soon, and then the rush starts all over again. I've got a lot of space this week to just be, and that's been wonderful. I was so dissatisfied when I left, I would get headaches, I slept poorly, had that annoying tic in my right eye whenever I worried. The tic started to come back when I was on my way home or when I thought about crap here when I was in Rome, but otherwise it's been very refreshing to be half-here, not worried about the mess in my room or the boxes of stuff piled downstairs that I can't remember what's in. I poured my life into this stuff, it was my life, everything that defined College Me. But I guess that's not me anymore, at least this stuff isn't. Now I can be Rich Me, Career Me, Traveler Me, (hopefully) Relaxed Me. If I come home at night from work and don't want to see another line of code or type another letter of anything, so what! I'll be another me for a while.

I do feel like I've spent a lot of time waiting around to sleep, but it could be worse. I could be a roofer.


Jul. 6th, 2006 09:59 pm
intjonathan: (girl)
Wasn't this supposed to start making sense one morning?
intjonathan: (bjork)
Enjoy the changes, because routine will set in before you know it.

I graduated on 10 June, 2006. I spent a week in Bellingham sorting things out and packing. On the 17th and 18th, I said goodbye to Bellingham and moved the last of my belongings into what is now my parents' house in Lynnwood. I spent a week moving what I could and preparing for a large LAN party on the 24th. The party went well, minus a few guests. On Sunday I dealt with the exhaustion, hot weather and excess sunlight... poorly. Yesterday I moved my waterbed out of my room and into the basement, along with alll the rest of the furniture that had been displaced by the party. Last night I slept in my childhood room on a different bed for the first time in over 10 years.

This morning I drove to Ballard for my new job at Hyperboy. The work environment is very similar to HITS, it's a small office with relaxed management. Typical startup. It'll be a fine 2 weeks.

When I first moved back here I felt very displaced. I still miss Bellingham, especially on sunny days like today, when having 3 lakes within a short drive was invaluable, and driving to Ballard in traffic with no A/C is awfully tedious. I've been walking around the neighborhood a lot, trying to get a feel for the place again, and striving to connect with the decades of memory that live here. I visited my 5th grade classroom for the first time in years, very haunting. Walking through all the housing where there used to be forest, telling myself the stories about the mink farms, abandoned country clubs, and wildness that marked the edges of my childhood, has been theraputic. I don't know how much longer I will recognize my home. As I was vacuuming the basement after the party, I realized that this was the same basement I would build blanket forts in, the same bar I built enormous Lego creations on, the same fireplace that has kept me hauling firewood in winters as long as I can remember. That TV stand was my grandmother's, we got it when she died. She had it in a tiny apartment on Broadway in Everett, along with my fold-out desk and stereo cabinet. They looked different there.

I've lived here since I was small enough to stand on the ledges in the basement. Returning to it has been strange. Were the circumstances different, I'm not sure I would've chosen to.

But it's true that I would've had to move out sometime, and my room can't stay a time capsule forever. If I take the time to live here again, maybe when this stops being my home we can part peacefully.

It has been a lonely two days. I have been thinking a lot about my future. On 17 July I will board a plane to London (from which my parents have just returned), and shortly thereafter Venice. I haven't been thinking a lot about this trip yet, as there will be time for that soon enough. I'm very preoccupied with the years that stretch out afterwards, where I must reconcile with the life I abandoned 3 years ago. It hasn't exactly been waiting for me, and I intend to find what's left of it and see what still matters.
intjonathan: (Default)
will I squander my perfection?
or will it squander me?

the couple by the boardwalk doesn't answer.
their dog scrambles for purchase in loose gravel
a leash on his neck like god's grip on his scruff

suddenly, I am enlightened.
intjonathan: (bjork)
I've been reading The Sacred Romance by Brent Curtis and John Eldredge and it's been distracting me from homework all day. I'm increasingly okay with that. Chemistry is just a grade, my well-being is everything. It's much harder to study when you feel it's all pointless anyway.

What we are doing in this costume ball of life is looking to avoid exposure while at the same time trying to offer something that will bring us glory.

Much of the book tries to lean on your sense of identity and fear, and is a kind of spiritual counterpart to Hendrix's excellent Getting the Love you Want. While Hendrix approaches this problem within the framework of healing a marriage, Curtis and Eldredge approach it at an individual level. Where Hendrix uses a doctor's specificity, Curtis and Eldredge must be more broad. They are speaking of life itself, and quote shamelessly from dozens of sources to convey the wide reach of their concepts.

As long as we do not admit that the deep things of our heart are there - the rejection and hurt, the shame and sorrow, the anger and rage - these rooms of our heart become darkened and the enemy sets up shop there to accuse us.

What both books stress is the concept of a false or functional self, the identity we weave from our experience in the world. Identity is a slippery thing, defined very early in our lives by the people most important to us. By the time we realize it's failed us, we've lost the ability to start over.

Each book takes a different approach to the starting over problem. Hendrix has nearly 100 pages of tests and exercises for a couple to work out - a sensible approach for a problem involving so much communication. Curtis and Eldredge try to convey that identity is something we must seek as part of our relationship with God. All of us attach our human experiences to our image of God, and 100% of the time they're wrong. Awakening us to the utterly wild, daring, and vulnerable nature at the very heart of God can rouse us to awaken ourselves to the larger story around us. But we must face the dark and weary night of our own souls first.

Every woman is in some way searching for or running from her beauty and every man is looking for or avoiding his strength.

Aside: If you read this far I challenge you to watch for something in daily life: listen to people of each gender describe their self-image in terms of beauty and strength. You are likely to be surprised, as I was, at how strong a theme it is in everyday speech - especially when the speaker doesn't realize it.

Unlike Eldredge's later Wild at Heart, which was aimed specifically at men, Romance covers both angles but only in general terms. The concept of seeking beauty and strength is part of this book but only when giving specifics. Wild gets into much more detail about what each sex needs, and I would definitely reccommend reading both books if you read one. Where one book says what a soul needs, often the other says how to obtain it.

I felt the concept of beauty/strength could use more discussion in Romance, as it's a key dividing line in how men and women will read the book. Much time is spent on the concept of God as a lover seeking the passion of his people, but each sex wants different things from their lover. Men want to be heros, and God as challenging and wild will resonate with them. Women want to be desired, and long for a God who will seek them for their own beautiful heart. Throwing away your decades-old identity is made simpler by encountering a God who wants to give you one that is infinitely better, and "better" is very different for each sex.

That said, the book is generally excellent and I'd recommend it to those curious about the nature of the Christian God. He is very different than anyone understands, and church culture has generally missed the mark regarding God as a lover. An ever stronger recommendation goes to Christians feeling lost or tired of life. A life following God is many things, but one thing it should never be is boring. Difficult but not hopeless, patient but not bored, wandering but not lost.


intjonathan: (Default)

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