Sunday, June 28, 2009

Just Let Go

For my summer job, I work with words, spending my time writing just to have someone come along and either scrap it or hack it to pieces. That’s how it goes.
Today, for instance, I wrote two articles for a project that my co-worker is compiling; finally it came time for her to look over my work. She scooted her chair over to me and started revving up the motor on her 'chainsaw'. We managed to cut a 550 word essay down to 300, and a 433 word essay down to 320.
Anyone who writes for leisure knows that writing is an extension of yourself; just like your nose, your ears, or fingers, it’s an appendage not a product. Or, in another analogy, writing is akin to smearing your heart on paper.
I like my writing in general; it’s like a child—I've labored to get it out and given it life. I was used to having my work scrutinized in college when I was a writing major and when I interned at a newspaper, so it's not that I don't think there isn't room for improvement; it's just that I don't want anyone mutilating it.
I won’t lie—it hurts sometimes to see the words fall away; it's like watching my hair drifting down to the floor after someone has cut it off. In general, I'm fairly easy to convince to hit the delete button, the backspace. But some of the words I insist remain—they are there for a purpose. Fitting the right words—I mean the right words, the ones that are the best of the millions we have in our language-- is sometimes not an easy task; yet when I find that right word, it falls into place like the thump of a tumbler. After all, a 'look' doesn’t connotate a 'glance or a stare.' Have you ever considered the different connotations of stomach, gut, tummy, abdomen, and belly? All carry a different feel or meaning. You wouldn't say that a pregnant woman has a swollen gut. Nor would you say that the obese man needs to lose weight off his tummy. There are just different words for different occassions.
So while my writing is and always will be a part of me, my new job has made me realize the importance of separating myself from my work, to remove offense, but not to remove my pride in my work. I’ve learned how to write for the business as a service, rather than latching so tightly to my writing as my child.
But a deeper lesson that I've learned, as I've watched the paper drop into the trashcan, or dragged the document into the trash bin, or watched my entire essay dissolve under the delete button, is that letting go is what life is all about. Parents raise a child only to let him go to college or to marriage. You make friends merely to let them go when life moves them on; you make money just to let it go to the restaurants and bills; and we have burdens that we're supposed to just let go to God.
I've never been good at letting go. Even small things are difficult for me to release; I’ve never been able to hula hoop, because I won’t let go of the ring.
But God knew that the first step of any great thing is letting go. He let go of His Son to come save us. Love is letting go.
I’ve always been intrigued by the quotation that my parents always told me: “If you love something let it go. If it comes back, it’s yours. If it doesn’t, it isn’t and never was.” (Or, as my dad modified it, “If it comes back it’s yours, if it doesn’t—hunt it down and kill it!”) I think this loving/letting go combination springs from the idea of imprisonment, from the idea of realizing the significance of freedom. When we cling to anything too tightly, it is bound to choke, to perish, fade, or in the least, despair.
Letting go—it seems so easy, but is so hard sometimes. You’ve got to love it before you can let it go, and you have to let it go if you love it.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Home Collage

Tell me, will you, what could possibly trump an afternoon of changing sheets, smooshing meatloaf into a pan with your bare hands, smelling the sweet aroma of squash boiling on the stove, and feeling a summer breeze blowing through the window? This is how I spent my afternoon today—-ideal for me, seeing that this is all I’ve ever wanted out of life: caring for a home, fixing meals, doing laundry, stirring up dust, and unclogging garbage disposals; chasing kids, practicing patience, and waiting to flirt with my husband when he comes in the door; counting to ten in frustration, stifling tears to masquerade for strength, and not choosing to stuff my feelings deep down whenever things go wrong; clipping recipes and coupons, saying "I Love You" 24 times a day, trying to stay awake during movies, trying to remember what it was like the day before meeting the love of my life and moving a little closer to him every time I remember; sneaking time to write in the evenings when the kids have gone to bed, and trying everyday to be a better wife and mom and woman. That, in a nutshell, was what I’ve always wanted out of life. Maybe one day I’ll have that, maybe one day I won’t. That’s beside the point. I’m single for now-- and I was making supper wasn’t I?
Well, I called my mom 3 times in the process of making my dinner—just to make sure. “No, eggs won’t expire that quickly." "Yes, it’s okay if the hamburger is just a little brown." "Just add a little more cornstarch to stiffen up the squash casserole.” These are her recipes, after all and, let’s face it, I can never quite get my food to taste like hers. But her recipes are just another way I’m patching together a home of my own with the pieces of others—my aunt’s bedroom furniture, my grandmother’s table, my mom’s recipes, my friend’s Crockpot.
Aren’t all homes only collages of the home of others’?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Listen to Your Self Talking

The other day I heard that some people live their entire life without knowing they only have one kidney. It freaked me out; but then it made me think.
Lately, I’ve been discovering myself—-literally myself. It amazes me how we live with ourselves yet know ourselves so little. We live with a mole behind our left ear and never see it until we’re thirty when it turns to cancer; every ache and pain is trying to tell us something, and we do nothing other than moan and blame our age. I’ve always been fascinated with the ‘water works’ gurgles in my stomach and the feeling of cold water sliding all the way down my esophagus to plunge into my stomach with a splash. I'm amazed at the freckles which until recently had been ‘hiding’ on my creamy complexioned shoulders but have suddenly appeared once exposed to sunlight. I revel in the knowledge that a pain in my head can be relieved by pressing on the tips of my thumbs; and I marvel that my body can manage to sort through hundreds of vitamins, proteins, calories, fats, and other nutrients, get rid of the bad, and put it all in the right place. Fearfully and wonderfully made, I am.
It’s hot where I live, so recently I’ve been amazed to learn my body’s language of dehydration—it screams at me through swollen fingers, shakiness, and, in a final ditch effort, aching legs which I had previously associated with low blood sugar or hunger. Tipping back a glass of H2O typically solves all of these symptoms.
Listen to what your body is trying to tell you-—the fast food and processed food industries try to shout louder, but ignore them. Drink water, eat veggies, take the smaller piece, don’t clean your plate for once, exercise, oh, and by all means—always brush your tongue! But that’s a puddle I’ll jump into another day!