Blossoms and Autumn Leaves

Open a book that's yellowing around the edges and your first responsibility is to swoop your nose, be it button, Roman, or whatever variety you fortunately possess, directly into the spine and have a deep, olfactory drink from the fount where the beaded bubbles of blushful Hippocrene ever overflow.

I love books. Too much, in fact, to slip in a snarky comment about Kindles or Nooks. It would detract from the glory of mystery and that overwhelming reverence one has as the slightly tattered (or well-cared for) cover lifts off the first page and those first sentences sink in. What sort of characters are about to parade into your life, well, only continued perusal will tell, but they might just be the ones that change your life. It only takes a whisper, you know. Butterfly effect breath effortlessly taking flight from ink and old paper to alight in a rapturously attuned ear... Strange, how struggles not our own can inspire us to overcome real hurdles, how romance can carry off our fancy and yet also clear a foggy perspective.

Sometime I feel a little bit like I might be a failure. I know it's a little bit early to be passing such a sweeping judgment over what shall very likely only be but a small segment of a much longer life story. I was the kid who was homeschooled, so of course I was socially awkward and unconsciously intelligent. Meaning that I did not exactly measure up if my intention was to be friends with everyone and caring about what other people cared about. I did everything I wanted to coming out of high school. There was travel, two years studying what I wanted to study, work at a cafe, establish close friendships and future educational ties... All kinds of glorious shiftlessness. Even, for however brief a time, delightful possibilities. But here I am, trying to be adult and going to college now because otherwise I probably never would, and all of the fun seems like foolishness and frivolity. But as I read all that, I can't make myself feel like a failure. I don't have a job right now, and that's tough because it's not for lack of trying - I even wrote my first resume with no encouraging success to show for it. I'm going to community college instead of a 4 year, Great Books program on the other side of the country or at least a couple states away. But I can't measure my life in bullet points. Maybe life is more like a dart board, and sure, the target area might be small, but there's more than one spot that you can hit and still be in the bull's eye.

I'm incredibly optimistic right now because I've just read the first four chapters of G.K. Chesterton's biography and I feel like we have a few things in common. Namely, this particular period in life. I have no idea what I will do in the future in terms of real, concrete actions, but it's hardly fair for me to assume that because I feel like I'm doing everything backward, upside down, and inside out, I'm not still hurtling along with the right momentum in the right direction with the occasional navigational nudge from my Daddy.

I like biographies. I like to think that maybe someday mine will be worth reading by someone else and maybe that someone will get a little more hope than they had before.

Lives of great men all remind us,
We can make our lives sublime.
And, departing, leave behind us,
Footprints in the sands of time...


In the Rough

Pretend for a second that you have a child (or maybe you actually do, in which case, I advise against pretending as it might unleash a string of delusions which ultimately result in serious mental scarring for your poor, innocent baby). When that child comes in covered in mud or dirt, you don't value him less than when he is clean, do you? What's underneath that temporary external gunk is still the precious little character who brings you joy by the simple fact of his existence.

So why is it that in my head, I feel like I have to make apologies for where I'm at? For instance, going to community college does not exactly have the most glamorous reputation. Apparently it's where a certain personality of people go... You know the ones. But that's not fair. Based on my orientation group and the one girl I met that day who was not in my group, there are lots of reasons why people choose community college, and not just because they're slackers. Okay, so I may wish that I were going to a prestigious four year university, but the reality is, that I am not less of a person because I am not going to one.

The greater loss is that I can't seem to get a job at a coffee shop. Oh no. For over three years, I have prided myself (ha, surefire why to get yourself a new career - pride... thanks, Jesus) on being able to call myself a barista. I get to be a coffee snob because I can ... steam milk really well? Okay, yes, it is an artform. And the fact that I can't do it now (the lack of machine is a major factor) is kind of disappointing for more reasons than the removal of a title. But there was some part of me that derived more than just satisfaction from that designation. I was getting something of my identity from it too.

In Psalm 32:8, it says, "I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you." We're on this awesome journey together, and as a wise man recently said, the epitome of that journey is probably when you reach the realization that it's not about the journey, it's about being together. To reach that point of realization, however, requires a degree of humility. And so He's instructing me and teaching me to take a way that is not comfortable, but perhaps contains a far greater lesson in valuing self and valuing Him. I have a tattoo on my wrist that says, "Beloved"... I guess He's still helping me see what that really means.


Let's Start a Revolution

I've been listening (at last) to an audiobook that Basie passed on to me over a year ago that is called Emotional Intelligence by renowned psychologist Daniel Goleman. The thesis of his work centers around the idea that there is a second (or, if you're a subscriber to Gardiner's theory of multiple intelligences, a third/fourth/fifth/whatever) type of intelligence which may be a more significant predictor of success than IQ or standardized test scores. Since I have always been inclined to believe that there is more to intelligence than aptitude at a handful of acquired skills, I am not terribly surprised by his conclusions. They do set me at a slight disadvantage, since I would tend to place myself in the category of less socially and emotionally intelligent people, but we all have areas we need to grow in. It's called maturation, and everybody has to do it sometime.

What if we didn't hand out grades? What would that kind of a system look like? As I was filling out an application for a job today, I was asked to respond on a scale to a variety of statements. Among them were several regarding motivation through praise versus negative criticism. A grading scale is all about perspective and can kind of go either way, so it's not a terrible thing until it is placed in the hands of some poor child's parents. I'm pretty sure my mother and father had no feelings either way about what grades I would get - they would have liked me just fine if I had gotten straight Cs rather than straight As. But given the right slant, even an A can be short of the mark if it's not a 100. I know that's a rather indirect accusation, but let's just call it a vague dissatisfaction with the way things are and leave it at that.

I can feel myself preparing to ramble about the lack of personalization, the need for more teachers and smaller classes, whatever happened to community? and for that matter, let's just all go back to 1807 and be traditional families that homeschool and apprentice. Actually, apprenticeship is still a great idea. Anyway, suffice it to say that there is a flood waiting to burst forth. Why do I have to have so many opinions without the diligence to see them through?

In Defense of Gap Years

Ignore the title. This is just a resource list which, if you're bored, you may peruse.

Explanation and FAQ Re:Gap Years

Funny Clip:

IMPACT 360 Promo Video:

Promo for Summit

YWAM/Fire and Fragrance Harrisburg