The flowers I pick
Die in my hand,
But flowers I can’t
Photo’s my own.
The flowers I pick
Die in my hand,
But flowers I can’t
Photo’s my own.
Have you ever watched the sea? I’ve only really watched it from the shore, and not that even that much.
It moves like breath. In, out. Like the back of a child, up, down, as it sleeps in its crib. A heavenly hand caresses it with cloudy touch. In, out.
Dreams sleep there. Water fairies and krakens and pirates and the sky. The sea holds our dread, and it holds shores.
What are those shores worth? I wonder. Shores of sand and coconuts and spears and trading companies and rifles and gallows. Shores of magic. The cloudy hands hold those too.
From the shore, the stormy sea seems not so stormy. But get out on it… Have you ever felt a strong undertow? That restless babe is but a drowning factory. A toilet. A grave, pulling on you like time, and you tromping and splashing to escape.
Or the calm. You don’t meet that on the shore. The shore is always breathing, trading its woody fares for foreign winds and unearthed sea bottoms. And death.
And what is land but death, anyways? Porous, petrified, stillborn Adam. And here we are to work it.
I have never seen a calm sea. I suspect it’s a lot like death. No breath, just space for the walking room of your thoughts. We were all made for that place—where the water stops breathing and the wind doesn’t wander.
But were we made for that place? Is the sea made for calm? Wet movement upon stone. Waves and waves and restless weight. Like my six year old.
And like the rain to the rivers—beading and dripping down, down, down—all our lives go to the sea. And don’t get all uppity. The sky is the sea too. We drip down to the sea, to the very edge of the shore, and we fall in.
I’m not sure if it’s time or fate or possibility or creation. It’s something, and it doesn’t seem to want me to define it. But I suppose that’s just like anything God makes. And as I try, it breathes, in and out, and it sleeps and angers and dies.
Life and death are like the sea. But what can I tell, really, from this Adam? Maybe someday, God will walk me down to the shore, draw me by the hand in, and take me down to its depths.
I was reminded this morning that life is all about relationships. I tend to get focused on knowledge and action, and I tend to try to dominate those things.
And it dawned on me that a more appropriate metaphor for my interaction with both knowledge and action is relationship, rather than domination. I don’t cow them into submission; I invite them to join me. 9/5/2017: Or, perhaps, I ask to join them.
It’s much the same as what I’ve been writing about. Magic, in my world, can be dominated or loved, and it’s the latter that’s better.
Esther Meeks has a book about knowledge that uses a similar metaphor, apparently.
And perhaps the best concrete example of relationship that I can use is my relationship with my wife. Think of spending time with her, having conversations with her, getting to know her, having fun with her, working with her… If I manhandle her in my attempt to do these things, and working together comes to mind the most, not only will she resist me, but I fail to love her. And excepting that she, in love, turns me around, our relationship will turn sour. It will die. And until it is again injected with life, it will remain dead.
Relationship takes time, forgiveness, learning (growth), flexibility, relaxation, fun… If it’s all work, and the only goal and guideline of the relationship is to get work done, the relationship breaks down. Relationship is all about love—loving each other, loving God, loving others together…
Yesterday I was having trouble writing. All I wanted to do was veg (I am in the middle of breaking my media addiction, so the cravings are intense sometimes, and my motivation for good things is often low, and I’m a grump). This is almost exactly like I have been with Mysti at times, especially when I was more into video games. I would want to play, and the time that I had to spend with her when I wanted to play was terrible. We couldn’t connect because I just wanted to be elsewhere. And yesterday a similar thing happened with writing. I made myself write instead of vegging. But I couldn’t connect with it. There was no chemistry. It wouldn’t come to me, and I kept averting from it. And the harder I tried to make it work, the more aloof I felt, and the less writing would respond to me (low quality stuff, writer’s block, language just not coming out). Because there was no desire for relating with writing, no warm connection, no real desire for connection other than for accomplishing my goal of 1) not vegging and 2) producing, the relationship was dead.
As soon as the warmth between you and whatever it is with which you are relating goes away, the relationship breaks down. And whatever you attempt to do with that thing will be as stifled as your feelings.
But I imagine it goes the other way more. If you only work on a relationship in order to make it of more utility, it seems… dead. But maybe that’s wrong. It’s like people with whom you work. It’s difficult to actually have a relationship if the only reason for doing so is the work or goal you share. The relationship really blossoms when you actually like each other, when you want to relate not only for the common goal but more for the relationship itself.
And I guess that’s what the goal of writing has been for me. The whole Bill Hendricks search for a vocation. I wanted to find something with which I would click. Something with which I would have chemistry. I feel like finding writing was like matchmaking. And if me and writing get on well, if we like each other, and the relationship continues to grow, it’ll work out long-term. I can commit to it with surety that things will work out.
This actually reminds me of my writing class. I thought of it the same back then—that learning to write was like starting a relationship. I guess I forgot about that.
But it’s not just writing. The more we healthily relate to anything, the more natural our common work with that thing will be. The more we try to dominate anything, the more it will break down—if not immediately then eventually. Domination only ends in death. It’s unlike God. It’s the difference between trying to control and feeling free enough not to have to.
So how to relate to writing from here; some ideas:
Is the fear of death, or the reaction against death, the impetus for all of our actions?
“‘The tale is not really about Power and Dominion: that only sets the wheels going; it is about Death and the desire for deathlessness,’ wrote J.R.R. Tolkien in a letter in 1957. He would often tell interviewers that The Lord of the Rings ‘is about death … and the search for deathlessness.'” (Not sure where I got this, but it’s not mine).
Surely Satan and Sauron seek power and dominion, and I had developed in my great antagonist a similar bent. I had concluded that their search was one of pride, one of seeking to surpass the Almighty, to become Almighty themselves, to be truly Independent. That is, they forget or disbelieve in their dependence on the One and step into faithlessness, into disobedience. Adam does this as well, having adopted the Serpent’s philosophy. Milton shows that Lucifer sought something higher than what he was given. He assumed independence, having become dissatisfied with God’s provision (without cause). Again we find lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, boastful pride of life.
But perhaps that’s not enough. For that’s probably how it starts (if I can even imagine what it’s like to have no sin nature and to make a sinful decision from a neutral state)—how it starts prior to one’s fall (or at its inception, rather, after which all things change). But after a fall, we all have death, the separation from the being from whom all life flows. And having death, do we not all seek to remedy ourselves, to recreate ourselves, to conquer the death that is in us and that we feel at all times, to conquer the death in the whole world? Does that not drive all of us into all that we do? If that’s the case, a being’s desire for true independence becomes one of self-preservation, which necessarily correlates with a separation from the Life Giver. No longer is Independence sufficient, or Independence for the sake of Supremacy or Mastery, but Independence to the end that we are safe and complete and whole, without requiring any other for any of our needs and/or desires (should they not match). But I suspect that our method of achieving this escape remains in the same vein to the fall, us having lost our connection to Life. We seek to recreate ourselves by means of the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life.
Of course, fear and false confidence are the two sides of pride. And to be sure, we feel both, sometimes even simultaneously. It is likely that it is not merely the flight from death that propels us but also the periodic belief that our swords and shields can defeat the dragon of death. Both drive us toward the same goal—to be independent. To be sufficient in and of ourselves.