ironical

Archive for the ‘fear’ Category

fleeting

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Bittersweet thoughts under these blue October skies:

Last week brought new braces for my sweet baby girl, who’s 10 and now looks 13. She will still play with her brothers, but I wonder each time – like these achingly gorgeous fall days that get shorter and shorter all the time – how much longer will it last?

Each new thing she learns is a birth, a coming to life in a new way. I love watching her grow to understand and care for the world around her in new ways. I love the way she gets things sometimes and glances at me across the room to say did you see that? That was funny. I love her soul, her wit, her kindness. The way she keeps part of herself all to herself.

But for every bit of spring I see there, I fear walking through the fall, seeing the dead-leaf castoffs of her childhood. A bit of innocence lost for each understanding gained, goofy games with her brothers left behind for time spent with friends, all the ways she can take care of herself saying that there’s one less way she needs me anymore…

I know, this time of year brings out the melancholy in me – but it’s hard not to hear the clock ticking right now. Maybe it’s the milestone of 10 this year, the feeling of the inevitable years right around the corner. Something inside me wants to yell stop!

But life doesn’t stop, and neither do fall days nor beautiful brown eyed girls. So I will bask in the sunshine, and look out into the endless blue, and hold onto her as tightly as I can.

elizabeth windblown

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Written by Sarabeth :: the dramatic

October 29, 2007 at 12:08 am

Posted in family, fear, life

unreasonable and indispensable

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She sat across the table from me not that long ago. We were talking about something that had just happened – she was talking, really – I was listening, trying to make sense of my thoughts.

She was frustrated. I was too, and tired. Tired of facing the questions that creep around inside, the ones that pop up and hit you when you’re least expecting it. The ones that twist and nag and say things like it doesn’t really matter, anyway and who do you think you are and just go home and go to bed.

Maybe that last one is just me. My thought process often presents this one as a reasonable and well-thought out alternative to living life in the real world…

So I sat and listened. The things she said were true, even though we don’t want them to be, wish that they weren’t. The world around us is a hard place. People don’t change easily, or often. I know all this. And I don’t think that answers are easy – at least they never have come easily for me – and so I don’t give them easily. I was not a lot of help in this conversation, I’m pretty sure.

I mostly watched. And while part of my brain spun with the enormity of the problems we all face, another part just looked. Listened. Tried to find the clue.

I think that day I found it. I don’t know why, when I miss it so many other times.

As I sat across from her, the silver necklace she wore winked in the sunlight. I glanced at it, knowing already what it was – she wears it every day. But I saw, again, the word inscribed there – so tiny that you can’t see it unless you are close enough to it already.

The word she wears, on a thin silver chain around her neck, is hope.

And I thought of how like that word her necklace is. How tiny. How dear. How much I need it to blink in the sun, how much I need to keep it close.

Written by Sarabeth :: the dramatic

October 9, 2007 at 9:24 am

taking myself too seriously

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I went to Chicago two weeks ago for a wonderful conference on art and faith. It’s always good – I get to take acting classes, hear from and be with other artists – but this year was especially thought provoking. There are so many things I’m carrying around with me, but here’s just one.

We got to watch a clip of Bono speaking with Bill Hybels – who is a pastor, a well-known religious leader. The point of their interview was the AIDS crisis in Africa – it’s a great interview. However, this was a clip that didn’t make it into the original video. In it, Bono is speaking about the necessity of being honest as an artist – and he says:

You have to be honest.
A lie can be as simple as who you want to be, rather than who you are.

Then he goes on to say that he found the religious life to be difficult to live honestly as an artist. Too difficult is what isn’t said, but implied. In other points in the interview, he talks about how he has given up on the church for much of his life, and is just now finding some places of connection.

Now, I’m not talking about his faith here. You don’t have to listen to him very long to know that his faith is deep and real, this man knows Jesus and loves him and is trying his hardest to figure out what it means to serve him – in the midst of his life as a rock star. No, what Bono finds difficult is the religious life, which is different from faith. And as much as I would like to say that I have faith alone, that I am not and will never be religious – the fact is that I spend my days working in a church that I love. Which puts me smack in the middle of some religious life.

Bono is a man I respect greatly, both for the art he has created and for what he has done with his life. And his statement made me think – where do I compromise on both ends? How many times have I not reflected the truth of the world I see around me through my art because it’s too messy, because I’m afraid, because I don’t want to push hard enough? And how many times have I backed off from the fullness of my life of faith – especially when I find myself among other artists, because I worry what they might think?

Ironically, those places of backing off, of trying to be safe, will turn me into the very thing I want most not to be: the safe church artist, parroting religiousness. I know it all would be stronger somehow, my faith and my art, if I could live at the farthest edges of both things – reckless in my faith, passionate in my art.

Here’s hoping…

Written by Sarabeth :: the dramatic

June 28, 2007 at 11:22 pm

Posted in art, church, fear, life

scarcity

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I have a friend who says the best things in life happen spontaneously, almost by accident. This is funny because she is a planner. She can take great joy in planning, having something to look forward to – she counts on that in many places of her life. However, in spite of all that, she firmly believes that most of the best times of her life – nights out, parties, trips – are those ones that happened on the spur of the moment.

Sometimes I agree.

Not too long ago, I had a night with that friend and her husband, and my husband too. We ate, and laughed, and the evening seemed to flow like water in a clear stream, like a glass of good wine. Several small things happened that surprised us, but they only seemed to serve to make the evening better, funnier, more enjoyable.

We ended up at one point walking down the street to see another couple as the evening light faded, glasses in hand, the air shining with spring around us, our kids running back and forth. They were lost in their own world, one of those wonderful moments where they are so into their own play that they really don’t want the parents to interfere.

There are such evenings, where the snappy comeback is always on your lips. Or somebody else’s. And you’re somehow not worried about what you have on. You wouldn’t mind dancing in front of other people, if it came to that. There is enough for everyone, enough room around the table for whoever shows up, enough room in your soul to take in and give back – your heart is open to the world.

And what does it mean? I want to say.

Why do such things seem few and far between? Why do I spend so much of my life…grasping?

I’m not in any way going to say that everywhere, all the time, there is enough. One has only to look around the corner, much less across the world, to know that. I also would never say there is not terrific pain, heartache, and loss to be lived through and dealt with as we walk through this life.

But if you could look inside my head – listen to the voices and many arguments that take place there, you would come away with the impression that I am much more left out, put upon…unloved than I really am.

Anne Lamott says it wonderfully – that in her head she knows that there is enough pie for everyone to have a piece, that there is no need to stab someone else with her fork. That she is mature enough to lay down her fork and smile at everyone else at the table. This she knows.

But she will go to her grave grasping her fork…

Me, too, sister! Back off from that pie!

And I don’t know, why, completely. I only know that some of it has to do with the way that I look at it, the lens I use to see. And that my summer self, loving this late May, on the cusp of summer June, finds it easier to see the abundance. Finds it hard to remember or even understand the wintered soul that sees only scarcity.

Maybe if I write it I will remember…

Written by Sarabeth :: the dramatic

May 20, 2007 at 10:53 pm

green, green grass

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The blog distresses me.

Perhaps I should say, the prospect of this blog, all the things I could write, all the people I could possibly offend, all the things I could regret revealing…all the infinite numbers of potentialities and ramifications that could…maybe…happen. These things distress me.

My husband’s mother and stepfather were here from Texas this weekend, and every time we are all together, we end up retelling great stories together, the ones that really make us laugh. It feels like dropping the needle on an old record player into the well worn groove of a favorite track. So this trip, one afternoon as we were sitting around our kitchen table, my kids remembered an especially funny incident involving Bryan’s oldest sister, Julie. Back in the days before seat belts (and this is fascinating to my children, they can’t imagine such a world), my mother in law was driving with Julie and went around a corner, when, much to their surprise, the car door flew open and out Julie went. Luckily, the car was going fairly slowly, and they were next to a nice green lawn – so all Julie hit was some grass.

Bryan’s mom says that Julie, true to form, was standing up, hands on hips, before she was even able to stop the car and get out. Completely indignant, she yelled, “Why did you do that to me!?” And, of course, she’s never let her mother forget about it…

This is one of those stories that is funnier every time you hear it – especially with Bryan’s family adding new punchlines every time. So we were laughing, the kids think that story is hilarious, and so do I. Then, out of the blue, Bryan says, “If that had happened to Sarabeth, she would have rolled on to the grass and then wanted to know, ‘What did I do?’ ”

I haven’t shaken off that comment yet.

He didn’t mean anything by it – it was just one of those moments when someone sums up…I don’t know, your personality, your very own warped world view, your particular woundedness…? Whatever – it’s that moment when someone else hits that place in you that you really thought nobody ever saw with such accuracy, such deadly aim, that it takes your breath away.

Because that is who I am. I assume guilt.

But even that is putting it a bit too nobly – what it is really is an attempt to control what other people think of me, to make them like me even if it means being willing to stifle or apologize just to keep them near. It’s what keeps me from doing something as small as posting to a blog.

So maybe it’s not the blog that distresses me after all…

Written by Sarabeth :: the dramatic

April 9, 2007 at 9:09 pm

fear of the first post

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So, I’ve been setting up this blog for like, a week now, and I still haven’t posted. Why? Because, as I go through my day, I think, “I could write about this” and immediately following comes the thought, “but do I want that to be my first post?” I have a hang up (I know you’re surprised) about being profound or inspiring or extraordinary on my very first post. Actually, I may have that problem with every post. Self-involved? Yes, I know. So, I’ve decided to just go ahead with it.

My favorite, Annie Lamott, says at some point you have to quit listening to all the voices in your head and just write. Here’s to that, and to my first post – it’s not extraordinary, but it’s out there. And maybe it will be easier to get out there again soon.

Written by Sarabeth :: the dramatic

March 30, 2007 at 9:15 am

Posted in anne lamott, fear, writing