Friday, May 15, 2009

friday laugh...

I love blackjack.
But I'm not addicted to gambling.
I'm addicted to sitting in a semi circle.
-Mitch Hedberg

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

a contender for my favorite

"I cannot live without books." - Thomas Jefferson

On my birthday this year (which I share with my daddio), I got a simple gift. I went out to my car the morning of my birthday and my dad had laid a card on the rearview mirror. I opened it and a piece of paper fell out. It was a little receipt that had "donation" written in the memo section and a lady's signature. That was it.

I immmediately called my dad.
"Thanks dad! Happy Birthday to you too!
You definitely beat me in the birthday exchange.
Where did you donate?"
Dad's response:
"You're welcome. You'll have to figure it out."
"You're kidding me, right?"
"Nope. I will say it's something tangible you walk on. That's all I'll say. Good luck. You're a smart girl."

Vague and weirdo were the words I muttered back at him.
Every dad dreams to have a daughter like me,
always kind, never a name caller. bahaha.
So I sighed, grabbed my crackberry and googled the name that signed the receipt.

Then I called my friend Sarah and we brainstormed.
This is what we came up with.
"It's for a brick, it's gotta be for a brick."

So I called dad back:
"I figured out the riddle, it's for a brick, isn't it? Now tell me where."
So after me guessing WKU, Capitol Arts, Mountain Lake, ADPi, I gave up. And admittedly I forgot about the brick riddle. For over a month.
But dad did not.

On Mothers Day he called me and said "can I stop by your house? Do you have time to go for a drive?" So we drove til we got downtown and pulled into the public library parking lot. We walked over to the courtyard, which honestly I didn't know existed. It was a courtyard with bricks along the pathway, about 1/3 of the bricks having inscriptions. Some only names, some in memory of, some names of organizations.

And in the center was a metal chair, a piece of art I assume, with this inscription along the back of the chair:
So please, oh please, we beg, we pray!
Go throw your TV set away,
And in its place you can install
A lovely bookshelf on the wall.

I immediately exclaimed: "Dad, that's from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory dad! One of my favorite quotes in the world! Isn't that the coolest quote ever? Why do people watch so much tv?!"
Dad smiled and said "I'm glad you knew what book that was from. That was the final test to get the prize. I made a donation to the public library in your name. Now all you have to do is figure out where you want the brick."

When I asked "why? what made you decide to buy this for me?"
His reply: "Because I've always been so proud of your love of reading,
of your fascination with all books. And I wanted a lasting testament to that pride."

I don't know what about this act that was so moving. It was a 26 year old girl with her 66 year old dad standing in a simple library courtyard on a Sunday afternoon. It was the simplicity of the moment I guess.

I am quite sure that was one of the happiest days of my life.

"dear me, i love a library! Because we are in Rome, this library is a beautiful old thing, and within it there is a courtyard garden which you'd never have guessed existed if you'd only looked at the place from the street. The garden is a perfect square, dotted with orange tress, and in the center, a fountain. This fountain was going to be a contender for my favorite in Rome, I could tell immediately, though it was unlike any I'd seen so far. It was not carved of imperial marble, for starters. This was a small green, mossy, organic fountain. It was like a shaggy leaking bush of ferns. (It looked, actually, exactly like the wild foliage growing out of the heard of that praying figure which the old medicine man in Indonesia had drawn for me.) The water shot up out of the center of this flowering shrub, then rained back down on the leaves, making a melancholy, lovely sound throughout the whole courtyard.
I found a seat under an orange tree and opened one of the poetry books I'd purchased yesterday. Louise Gluck. I read the first poem in Italian, then in English, and stopped short at this line:
"Dal centro della mia vita venne una grande fontana..."
"From the center of my life, there came a great fountain..."
I set the book down in my lap, shaking with relief.
-Elizabeth Elliot, "Eat Pray Love"

Monday, May 11, 2009

the journey to the view.

Yesterday I went with two of my favorite guys to Climb Nashville. It's a gym where you can climb walls. I kept saying to one of them leading up to going "I don't think I'm going to like this. I don't understand the point? Why do you climb if you're not climbing outside for a beautiful view at the top?" He just kept saying "you'll like it, I promise you you'll like it." Being combative me, I went on to say "I just don't get it. I mean I get climbing to see a sunset, but climbing to see concrete on the floor of a building? Whatever floats your boat though. I mean I'll go, but don't expect me to like it."

So I climbed. And I didn't just like it. I loveloveLOVEDit! And this is what I discovered. You don't climb solely for the view. You climb for the journey to the top. It's the journey that counts.

How many of us have received some recognition, award, diploma and were flooded with memories the moment we received it? That's because everything that led up to that moment was just as important, if not more important than that moment. When I ran a marathon a year and a half ago, I didn't go on and on about what the finish line looked like. Of course to finish was the goal. But I talked about the journey. I talked about the people I ran with along the way, the pain I felt, the monuments I saw in DC, the pain I experienced, what ran through my mind, the pain that lingered, what people said to me as I ran by, have I mentioned the pain yet? :)

Now don't get me wrong, of course I was thrilled to finish. Finishing anything in life is a beautiful thing. Following through on commitments is so underrated. I'm learning that slowly but surely. You start anything with the anticipation of finishing. But what I'm saying is, it was the pictures I took along the way I treasured, not the medal I got at the end.

My mom read me a poem a long long long time ago about how people view life. The poem was about this person on a train ride, with a lot of stops before the final one. It was basically about how we are always anticipating the next stop, thinking that the next stop will surely bring us bliss, happiness, contentment. Examples of these stops are getting to college, starting a career, starting a family, becoming a grandparent. Instead of enjoying the scenery, we strain to get to the next phase in life, attain the next materialistic thing, or achieve level a higher level of social or professional status. Then we get to that, and we are disappointed. Yes, it's good for awhile, but then we start straining for the next stop. So the cycle starts all over again. The final stop is of course the point when life ends. Her point wasn't that I shouldn't look forward to things or want things, but not to be so consumed with those desires that I miss the ride entirely. As a child listening to her, I kind of furrowed my brow, nodded, and smiled when she read the poem to me. Now I get it. I get the poem. I want to enjoy the ride.

And can I add that I actually did have a view yesterday? My friends smiling up at me. Honestly that's the best view I can think of. Seeing your friends proud of you trumps all other views. Even a sunset.

"When you set out on your journey to Ithaca, pray that the road is long, full of adventure, full of knowledge." -Constantine Peter Cavafy

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

lesson on love

So I was in a house recently that was not my own. I didn't know the people. I was there with someone because they were looking to possibly buy the house.

When I was looking around the house, something caught my attention. A big framed family picture. It was a beautiful picture of the family, complete with a mom dad son daughter and dog. Not to be cliche, but they really did look like the all-American family. As I looked at the picture, something else caught my eye. It was a framed letter sitting next to the black and white family print. I hadn't even noticed it at first because it was downplayed by its size sitting next to the 8x10photo. A lot of people would have respected their privacy and not read it. But I rationalized that it was out in the open and they knew that people would be touring the house, so obviously they wouldn't mind.

It was a letter that a girl had written to her friend. It was dated 1997(the month and year i don't remember) , written at Notre Dame (maybe they were in college together). The woman had written down her thoughts when she suddenly realized one night that her friends (I'm assuming the people that lived in the house I was touring) were right for one another. She wrote her observations down about this couple, how she thought they completed one another, balanced each other out. It was so endearing because she was so honest about both of their personalities and stressed how thrilled she was that her best friend had found a guy that was meant for her. She didn't even know at that point that these two people would get married, so she said that she'd put the letter away for safe keeping and hope that maybe her senses were right about them. The couple must have received this letter around the time they got married (1999, I saw another picture with the date in the living room. Again, I know I'm nosy). I can imagine it really touched them to read someone's prediction that they would tie the knot. I don't blame them for framing it.

I'm getting to my point, slowly but surely. I'm writing this because one particular passage of the letter stuck out to me. It was just the most beautiful thing, besides some excerpts from the Bible of course, that I've ever read about love. I went so far as to type this much into my Blackberry. I hope you'll look past the fact that I kind of stole this. I usually don't take intellectual property without asking. Let this be the one exception.
"But it is more than temperament or personality that seems to forge this bond, it is one might venture: God, letting us know that love is alive and well in the world and God's circuitous ways and timing, while not our own, are more sure and and more steady than the moon's brilliance or the sun's path. When we stand in front of and near such love, such mystery, we do well to see Her there, acknowledge and most importantly rejoice that She has given both of you this gift of your commitment to one another. For what was framed before time began, needs only to be blessed by us and received in compete joy and hope."
So if this doesn't make you melt a little, I don't know what will. The world, reminding us constantly of the divorce and adultery rate, wants to lead us to believe that there's no hope for lasting commitment. But that's just not true. I know that things get bad sometimes. Marriages end. Relationships are lost. I know that the chance of failing is high. But after reading that letter I was convinced, more than ever before, that it's better to be an eternal optimist than to be the alternative. I don't think I'll stop being a hopeless romantic anytime soon. And I hope one day I'll have the nerve to send that couple that I don't know a letter thanking them for helping me believe in love. I'd like to thank them for the reminder that it's better to throw caution to the wind and take the risk. A character in the movie Meet Joe Black says it better than I ever could: "Run the risk, if you get hurt, you'll come back. Because, the truth is there is no sense living your life without this. To make the journey and not fall deeply in love - well, you haven't lived a life at all. You have to try. Because if you haven't tried, you haven't lived."

I guess what's I'm saying is this: at the end of the day, all I can do is keep hoping, keep praying, and keep holding on to the belief that if someone is accountable to God, and not the world, they can't really lose. The world says "why even try?" God says "stick with me kid, you might not be able to find a way. But I assure you, I know the way. Follow me. The view up here from heaven is much clearer than your tainted one there on earth." And hope that I end up loving someone who always prefers being under God's wings as well, letting Him and not the world, be our guide.