Monday, December 26, 2011

If Romantic Comedies are Unrealistic, Can You Be a Romantic Comedian?

This Christmas, Kyla and I have been watching many movies. It started off by me saying that at some point she should watch the Lord of the Rings trilogy. She had the idea that she would if I would agree to watch six movies of her choosing because the Lord of the Rings movies are the same length of two normal movies. I was initially all right with this arrangement until I remembered the Lord of the Rings are the same length of two normal movies. They are great movies, but they are one of those experiences that you only need to have once every twenty years because it is a trial of sorts to watch.

I then decided to change my side to six other movies of my own choosing. So throughout this three week visit together, we’ve been watching movies (along with smatterings of Community episodes when we don’t want to watch a two hour movie). My selections include: Mission:Impossible 3, Shawshank Redemption, Vantage Point, Away We Go and of course, my traditional Christmas movies, Die Hard 1 and 2.

Kyla, went the exact opposite of me and included: Letters from Juliet, Sydney White, The Last Song, Music and Lyrics, Mulan and Wedding Singer.

The only reason I included the actual titles because if it were me reading this post, I’d want to know, but it really has nothing to do with what I want to talk about. They don’t call me Rabbit Trail Jones for nothing. Or ever.

Watching her movies was exactly what I expected out of them, however I was struck as I watched Letters from Juliet. The movie itself was nothing special or unusual. It was the typical romantic comedy where the guy and girl don’t like each other at the start, but in the end (spoiler alert if you’ve never seen a romantic comedy before) she breaks up with her fiance and winds up with the guy she used to hate.

What struck me was the fiance who was the usual trope of a guy who is so into what he does that he completely neglects the girl and eventually it is what leads her to leave him. It is blindingly obvious to you as the audience to see how the guy is forgetting about the girl and it is easy to blur his actions as being a selfish jerk. Then when the girl goes to break up with him, he is flabbergasted to have this news come out of nowhere and you in the audience are incredulous with his stupidity and are so happy that she is leaving the jackass.

Except for me. I saw the thing I fear I may become and to me it’s not as black and white as it seems like these movies paint the situation.

The fiance was wrapped up in starting his new restaurant and was obsessed with finding the perfect ingredients and elements for his project he dearly loves. At the same time he has affection for the girl. You see it when he realizes her implication that she’s leaving him. He tells his kitchen full of people to stop what they’re doing and to clear out and then he tries to negotiate for the girl. However, it was too little, too late. He had neglected her.

In his podcast called “You Made It Weird”, Pete Holmes, one of my favourite comedians, recounted how his marriage of six years fell apart when he was twenty-eight. She left him not because he had cheated on her or treated her badly, but she described it as not being his first love. It wasn’t that he was always away. It was the other way around. He spent much time with her throughout the day, but the hard part was his mind was elsewhere. He was driven or as he says, he felt called. He was always thinking about comedy and his bits and his conversation was slanted by the perspective of a comedian.

I know for myself that I tend to get the same way with my projects. I tend to leave the world behind, including my own needs, let alone another person’s. I get wrapped up and want to delve right into making my projects as great as I can. It’s the thing that simultaneously created some great presentations on the Summer Ministry Team and caused me to sometimes alienate myself from the rest of the team and become reluctant to share the work.

A common conversation on the podcast is what kind of person is a suitable partner for a comedian. Do you want someone who is a fan? Someone who is indifferent or may not even like your stuff but supportive? Should they be witty themselves or should they not be? The conversation often leaves at an impasse.

Watching that movie with Kyla curled up next to me left me thinking about what Pete went through and I know myself to be the same. It seems like you have to choose one or the other or do both halfhearted and be good at neither. I’m not saying it’s impossible to walk the line of forming a strong relationship and being called, but it requires much wisdom, awareness and grace from both.

Unfortunately, it seems like culture, both inside and outside the church makes it seem like you’re the ridiculous one to pursue your calling because that’s not as important as your relationship. Instead, it seems like that if you just invest fully into your relationship then you don’t have to worry about your career or calling, it takes care of itself. People are magically supposed to be just awesome at what they do.

I just went through that flip-side with Kyla here. I knew that this was one of the few times that I would have with Kyla here and I spent much of the time with her while I had a show coming up and often I would spread myself out and decided to sacrifice sleep so that I could have my cake and eat it too. The show turned out fine, but it concerns me of future endeavors. Can I really keep up that pace?

Of course, I know no one (or people based in reality) really thinks that you can do anything automatically great and that it requires time, but I do think we have expectations that can be hard and perhaps impossible to live up to.

My thoughts bring me to how can I balance both? What does it look like? Like the fiance in the movie, I adore this girl in my life but will my all-consuming obsession with my projects lead me to neglect her, just like the fiance? Or will my relationship lead me to let myself neglect the refinement of my abilities and thus make anything I create a pointless venture?

Perhaps by me writing this, it’s a sign that I am aware of the challenge ahead and I will be better prepared to handle it. The other great thing is that Kyla has shown that she wants me to strive for my dreams and has shown her support for me. I hope that I can find my solution for Pete Holmes’ quandary, because I don’t want to become another example of the clueless, jackass boyfriend trope in some romantic comedy because I’ve come to discover that romantic comedy are a bit too predictable for my taste.

"Cause everywhere I seem to be
I am only passing through
I dream these days about the sea
Always wake up feeling blue
Wishing I could dream of you
So if I stumble
And if I fall
And if I slip now
And lose it all
And if I can't be all that I could be
Will you, will you wait for me?"
- "Wait" from Alexi Murdoch's album "Time Without Consequence"

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Three Monthiversary Gift

Kyla is going to be in Nelson in less than thirty two hours and I thought it is time for me to write in here again. Especially since I have not written many reflections on my relationship with her. This blog is supposed to be me reflecting on my life and a major part of the last few months has been concerned with her. I suppose I don't want to write too much about our relationship because I suppose that people would not like that. That's it's too easy or basic or maybe private for the sphere of a semi-public blog. However, this blog has a part intention to give people insight into my life so that maybe they will learn about me or perhaps even reflect on their own life. The reality is, if I'm going to be honest about my life, this has to come up.

I also want to be sensitive to her as well, because the subject of the post is literally her. I have never really written about a person or a relationship and I am reluctant to write because I don't want to come off as a silly teenager. Nonetheless, I hope that it is a good experience for everyone.

Last month, we had our three monthiversary which I understand is not a major thing to bulk of humanity. I realize that some people get somewhat over giddy about such landmarks and it makes me roll my eyes as well. Probably because three monthiversaries have occurred a billion times over the course of history, but it's apart of the territory.

In fact, this brings me to another of my renowned Arbitrary Rules of Thumb, which is in regards to the celebration of dating relationship landmarks:
1 month - You casually mention it in the conversation with your partner. No gift!
3 month - You go on a creative date but nothing super fancy and/or a small token of remembrance.
6 month - You go to a nicer dinner, consider having flowers or a poem or a song you've written or a piece of macaroni art. If you have not done so, you should reveal your nerdiest obsession you have. Don't hide that any longer.
1 year - You go on a special dinner, perhaps add dancing or stop an armed robbery, definitely have flowers, wear a tie (even if you're a girl) and throw in a surprise (like magic).
Then you celebrate every year after that until finally one of you breaks down and asks the other one to marry. I don't know why I made myself come up with all the things you need to do. All I had was timing. What I know for sure is that people who celebrate a ten monthiversary bother me because it's too arbitrary. It does not break down into the clean fractions of fourths and halves of years.

Anyway, I knew I wanted to note the three months with a small token and so I decided that I would handwrite a letter and send a couple of trinkets. I was down at the wedding in Mexico and figured that would be a good place to pick up something. I have never bought anybody anything on a vacation before, so I thought that'd be special in and of itself.

Now, Kyla likes to collect keychains, so that was an easy buy. However, that alone seemed lame. I may be a cheap jerk, but I'm a little better than that. It was while I was down in Mexico that I was reflecting on who Kyla was to me and I tried to find something that expressed something deeper.

While I was down at the wedding, each member of the wedding party was given the same outfit, but with varying colours. The guys each wore the same white pants, white shirt, vest and fedora and then the tie and a bracelet of a certain colour that would match the bridesmaids' dresses. The colour assigned to me happened to be green. I don't care particularly for green, but I knew that it was Kyla's favourite.

As a part of an ongoing game at the wedding, we were to wear our bracelet the entire week for fear of losing points that I am not entirely sure at this point meant. But I wore it all week and never took it off.

Whenever I had a shower or go to bed and would have normally removed something like a bracelet, I just kept it on. Wearing jewellery is a foreign concept for me and I was noticing the bracelet all the time. Of course, after I'd notice it, I was also reminded how green is Kyla's colour. Then I would be thinking of her.

The week progressed and I found that I was enjoying myself and I was relieved. I thought that it was going to be a bad experience and that I would regret going. But I didn't. I had a good time and am thankful that I went. I was thinking about it as I played with the bracelet on my wrist and thought back to the summer when Kyla and I were spending time together. I remember being reluctant to go into a relationship, because I was thinking it was going to be terrible to deal with the distance and other concerns I had and I thought it would be a trial that was not worth it because I would screw it up or I would invest and be heartbroken. And here I find myself three months later, thinking about her when I was down in Mexico, taking time out to still Skype her, even if it meant doing it awkwardly in the middle of the courtyard of the inn. 

Then the wedding came around and I stood within feet of my friend, Erik exchange vows with Jen. As the rings came forward I was reminded of the jewellery on my own wrist and the green that took me back to thoughts of Kyla. I then knew what the other part of my gift would be.

It was fitting that Erik and Jen symbolized their devotion to their marriage with metal rings, something that doesn't just break easily. It's always said how the ring serves as a reminder of that unending bond. I thought it was fitting to send my bracelet made of green string and shells. I may not be ready to promise her marriage yet, at the same time I want to remind her that I am devoted to her until I am ready to give her something more permanent.

I continued to wear the bracelet after I got back to Nelson and only took it off to put it in the envelope with the keychain and a letter.

I don't know why I am telling random readers about something like this. I don't know what's to gain. Maybe there's nothing and I'm creating as a reminder to my future self. I suppose for me, I believe in the power of symbol and the importance of creating things that help you to remember. Maybe this post can be an encouragement to you to find those things that remind you of the ones in your life because it can be too easy to forget.

The sad tragedy of those who can afford the fanciest rings and flashiest weddings is that the glitz sometimes blinds you of what these things are supposed to do. They are not about making the couple feel like royalty for a day, it's about community and the ongoing model of declared devoted love. The ring is to remind you of the vows to unending love.

I don't know if this relationship will come to marriage. We're still young. We're still learning about each other. I am looking for wisdom and discernment but I know I will remember to not take something beautiful for granted.

Ky, I love you.

"But the strangest today
So far away and yet you feel so close
And I'm not gonna question any other way
There must be an open door
For you... to come back
And the days they linger on
And every night when I'm waiting for
The real possibility that I may meet you in my dreams
Sometimes you're there and you're talking back to me
Come the morning I can swear that you're next to me
And it's okay."
- "Come Back" from Pearl Jam's self-titled album

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Beer and Self-Loathing in Guayabitos

I write this as I fly home from a wedding celebration for my longtime friend, Erik and his now wife, Jen. I’m trying to reflect on this week being that it is something I have never really done before.
I suppose I’ll start with my reluctance to go on this trip. I’ll be honest, there were a few things that bothered me going into this. I was originally thinking this was at one of those resorts you see in the movies where it’s over-indulgent and supporting some big company at the detriment to the local community. I was not looking forward to spending my week with many people I didn’t know. I was even concerned with spending it with the people I did because I haven’t spent much significant time with any of them in a very long time. They were friends from high school and although we meet up every once in a while in the last few years, how will a week go with them. This trip was not cheap and I am in no shape to even attempt a trip like this on my own and now I’m going on this thing because a friend is supplying the money. Borrowing money never sits well with me due to my memories of family doing so and how it’s strained relationships.
Let me give you the spoiler right now that the trip was fantastically better than I thought it would be. The money thing still bugs me, but many of the other aspects of it surprised me.
It was not the opulent resort that would ratchet up the guilt for me, but rather a smaller, independent operation and as opposed to some faceless company, our group has really bonded with the family that runs the restaurant attached to the hotel. It was business how I’ve heard of in other places of the world, where a more personal approach is used for business relationships. There was one example of operator of one of the boating companies came and was upset that we did not go to him when we had our excursion because of a previous transaction with some of the folk in the group. 
I’ve never, as a Rogers employee, gone and guilt-tripped a customer for going to Blockbuster but that was what kind of happened. It was strange and interesting, but I digress.
It was good to see the world work a little different and definitely eased my mind about that aspect.
I was also relieved to have the time spent with the people there to be really good. It felt like I was building relationships and not just rehashing what was in the past. I also met new people and felt comfortable most of the time. I mean, there was still the difficulties of traveling with a group in that it always feels like you have to be spending time with others and I had relatively little personal time.
That all said, what stood out to me as a point of reflection were certain moments in the week. I’ve found that as I’ve gained more experiences I have started to see more and more parallels between my life and others’ or my life and even my previous experience. It’s simply that history tends to repeat itself. There are times when I go through experiences and I recall previous moments from my life or other’s stories and it strikes me. I begin to make connections and realize the bigger picture. In this case, I was thinking about my dad.
I remember him telling me a story of when he stopped drinking alcohol. I believe it was shortly before he started going to church in his forties’ and before he ever met my mom. The details are a little fuzzy, but he used to drink often. I don’t know if it was every night or every weekend and I don’t know if was always a great amount or a little. However, one night he drank so much that he blacked out in the bathroom and fell and hurt his ribs leaving them severely bruised. I don’t know if they were broken or what the extent of the damage, but he didn’t remember at all how it happened. It spooked him and it made him quit.
Flash forward forty years and I find myself suffering from a cold the last month and the coughing had gotten real bad before I left for Mexico. It was to the point that it felt like ribs on right side were pain and any cough, sneeze, and laugh would strike more pain. Laying down was uncomfortable and sleep was difficult. However before I left, I was taking some anti-biotics and I was feeling much better and the pain was subsiding and I didn’t notice it that much. That was until the stag party.
We were heading into Puerto Vallarta on a bus hitting every bump on the road and it was on one of the bumps that I coughed and it hit me hard. My ribs hurt and would hurt for the rest of the night. We headed out to a restaurant where I didn’t order very much because the prices were so high which would be my undoing. Later in the night, we went to some club where you buy a wristband and the drinks were free for the rest of the night.
It was the first time I’ve ever felt like I was some rich dude. They had two staff on stand by the entire night for our table. Anytime a glass was being emptied, another was there to replace it. If one of the guys knocked some ashes from their cigarettes into one of the trays, the staff would immediately grab it, clean it and replace the tray. We were treated like celebrities. As time went on with no concern with how much the drinks came, it eventually caught up with my one-hundred-fifty-five pound frame. I found myself sleepy and not feeling well and realizing I was going to be sick. I get to the bathroom and throw up and feel the pain in my ribs aching even through the deadening of my senses, I immediately flashed back to dad’s story. I saw the parallel in our stories that seems to echo many times through out my life but unfortunately I do not have the opportunity to really explore that with dad directly, but rather through half-remembered stories.
I think what was surprising about my trip to Mexico was the great reversal that happened. The concerns I had turned out to be nothing and the thing that I thought I had a handle on got out of control. It was not the scenario or the people that were the issue, but rather me.
I had underestimated how close to the surface the dark version of myself hides. I didn’t do anything that night that hurt anyone and no one was offended, but people definitely saw that in that moment that alcohol was my master. The issue here is not that someone gave me grief, because I was basically doing what some would expect at a stag, but that was the problem. I also didn't stand out as someone who reflected the higher ideals that I intellectually believe.

I should underline that it's not like I did something that was inherently evil, but rather it did not show the life of discipleship that is one that is challenging and reflects what I believe to be true through action.
It was too bad, because the week also had such fantastic moments where the heroic version of myself shone through. The one that attempts to emulate Christ. I had great, late night conversations about the nature of my faith that reminded me of Jesus and Nicodemus. I had a conversation that encouraged another in a sad time in their family history. I did well as the emcee at the wedding and doing a speech that was entertaining yet poignant. My hope is that those who were there do not remember the failures of me but rather the goodness of God.
As I come to a close on my overall review of the trip, I still had a great time and I was happy I went. I had a moment on the last day where I climbed up to where a cross overlooked the town and the staircase there were thirteen stations from the story of the crucifixion. I was up there and read a psalm and read from The Call by Os Guinness. I feel refreshed and hope that I will push hard to fulfill my calling despite my shortcomings and trust that it is never over due of the grace of God.

"Warm sun feed me up
And I'm leery loaded up
Loathing for a change
And I slip some, boil it away
Swallowed, followed
Heavy about everything but my love
Swallowed, sorrowed
I'm with everyone and yet not"
- "Swallowed" from the Bush album "Razorblade Suitcase"

Thursday, November 03, 2011

My Poor Brain

I've been reading Os Guinness' book named "The Call" which delves into what God's call on our lives may be. This is not the general call to being good, moral people in right relationship with Him, but rather the specific call of our talents and skills. It draws examples from all over human history to reflect on all the various aspects of God's call. It has got me thinking about what where I am heading in life.

This has been a very appropriate book as the idea of where I am going is something I've been thinking about recently. Last year, I did not consider much of the future as I saw what I was doing in Nelson as something that I was doing. I was very present with my task. My wandering was my place in life and I liked it and was comfortable with it. It was simple. After my time in Nelson was done, whenever that would be, then I would move to a new place and do something different.

I was getting used to the single life and was especially looking forward to really embracing it and finding adventure. I still kept the dating aspect an option, but even there I was realizing that perhaps it would be best to live life with embracing the One Thing. I was considering the next place I go to would be a larger city centre and actually try to move towards pursuing a comedy career. Even if it was a side thing and I would support it through another job, I would try to hone my skill and try to get into the field.

Then Kyla came along.

Now, I am thinking more of the future and what should my plan be. That was not a big deal with me last year and it even seemed like other people were more interested in what my plan would be than I was.

I have been thinking of how big of a challenge it would be to bring Kyla into this life. I've been thinking about being responsible and what does that look like? I should point out that she is not wanting me to abandon comedy but rather it is me.

In the last little while, I've been listening to Pete Holmes' podcast called "You Made It Weird". He is a stand-up comedian who I've found to be very funny and have been following the last while. In his podcast he brings on other comedians and they talk about stand-up comedy and how they approach it. It's been fascinating to take a peak behind the curtain and hear these guys talk about it. I've also been surprised by Pete's questions. Each of his conversations has involved a discussion of God.

Aside from that, you also find out that he was married at the age of 22 and was divorced by 28. He references the religious Christian upbringing that got him to marry so young. He looks back on the time as being a child. What was interesting was the divorce itself. As he describes it, it was not because they were not spending time together. She would be home by four, they'd be together until he went to the comedy club at 9, do his set and be done an hour later. They spent much time together.

When it turns out that she cheated on him, she told him it was like he was already in love with comedy. It consumed his life. It's what drove him. It was his calling and it became a barrier in the marriage. Obviously it is much more complicated than that. However, it did make me wonder about what do I want to have as my priorities.

I know I've been very distracted as of late and it feels like I'm in a bit of a fog. I've been sick recently, so perhaps that has an impact on it. However, I feel stuck as I'm trying to write scripts. I'm thinking about money. I've been thinking about obligations. I've been thinking about things that were not concerns a year ago, but they are now because I have another person in my consideration.

Do I have the ability to pursue comedy well? Is it my call? Do I have the discipline? Will I be able to balance it with a relationship and not neglect either? These are the questions that weigh heavy on my poor brain.

"Real life is so hard
We hide in the stars
That's where our heads are
My head and your heart
This is a black out
Don't let it go to waste
This is a black out
I want to detonate
When you are so far
I'm falling apart
Lose all my sonar
You jam my radar"
- "My Poor Brain" from the Foo Fighter album "The Color and the Shape"

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Why I Don't Like Country Music

This post is meant to be good natured. I put this warning up so that country fans don't get mad. (Normally, I don't worry about stuff like that, but country fans have guns. Big ones.)

Kyla likes country music and dating her has forced me to confront the thing in my life that I've avoided the most. I should point out that she also likes Disney music and Glee, but that seems like it comes with the territory of dating a girl. I have my own beef with Disney and musical theatre (as seen here), but I realized that if I dated a girl there is a good eighty percent chance (as stated by Phoney Baloney Stats Monthly) that she would like Disney and Glee and so I was prepared for that. I suppose it arguable that I should have realized that country music comes with dating a girl from small town Alberta, but to be fair, I didn't expect to fall for one.

Since music is a matter of choice, I've never subjected myself to country music and I don't feel bad for not listening to it. Unlike how I feel bad for not reading books. It seems like if you're literate, you're obligated to read. Like it's your duty. I definitely have never have had that sense with country music. No one says, "oh, you listen to a lot of country music. Wow, you must be so cultured." And I now know why.

Before this week, I knew the cliches of country. That it's all about "my truck is broke and my dog ran away" and "she gone done stepped on my heart". Which is not true (mostly). I knew the cliche of the country twang in the singing (which is definitely true and I would submit might be what defines the genre). Both of these points did not appeal to me and thus my aversion.

However, I discovered something else that bothers me about the music after listening to it, which makes me sigh even more. It seems like there is a good amount of the songs that are sung not to the audience, but rather seemingly to one individual and that the rest of us are getting in the way. It's like the songs are not about something but to someone. Let me say that many songs are like that, but country takes it a stepped further and it seems like the lyrics are just a record of someone's conversation and then the writer was like, "Oh, say that again and I will write it down verbatim and then put music to it and add an obnoxious country twang to it."

Now, I realize that there is simply a cultural difference and that the music is sincere and from the heart and because it speaks directly to a person, it makes it more engaging, but come on!

I suppose that I should not be one to speak due to the fact that I can't write any songs and that all my comedy is based on tearing other things apart due to my own insecurity and I fear my own creativity will be rejected and thus I do not create myself and when I do it has a propensity to borrow heavily from others and lacks a certain originality and I don't even have a dog and I wish that I had done gone had a gun and that I'd wander the countryside on my horse and that I had a guitar and could sing around the campfire, eating a can of beans and sleep under the stars.

Man, I think I could write a country song. Maybe I just did. 

And that's why country music is a joke.

I'M SORRY, SWEETHEART! (But not really... Girls can't read stuff in brackets, can they?)

PS. By the way, I think that country music is still better than the bulk of modern pop music, in particular the stuff that comes out now due to pop's lack of metaphor and unrelenting focus on sex and aversion to anything deeper. 

"There might be a little dust on the bottle
But don't let it fool ya about what's inside
There might be a little dust on the bottle
It's one of those things that gets sweeter with time"
- "Dust on the Bottle" from David Lee Murphy's album "Out With a Bang"

Monday, October 03, 2011

The Power of Love

Rack it up to the fact that I have been dating a girl that I have been thinking about the idea of love recently. It is one of the most common topics in music next to "I'm going to sex you good." We have the belief that once you find true love then you are set and nothing will stand in your way. That nothing in life is better than love.

There is a bunch of tension of when do you say it to your significant other without saying the magic phrase, "I love you". Say it too early and you'll scare the person and if you don't say it at all then the relationship has not reached a certain level.

However, billions of people have used the words "I love you" and yet you still have numerous divorces and broken relationships. Isn't the power of love suppose to save your life? The usual excuses are that the fire isn't there anymore or that there is someone else that I am attached to more. It was once said to me in a moment of passion, but when the rubber met the road, it turned out that her love led her away. Did she not mean it?

The power of love is supposed to keep you home at night, no?

I suppose it's possible that love is a limited supply and then after that the relationship better become more exciting otherwise the fire will go out and that just means that clearly the reserves of love are all gone. Break it all off. Burn the bridges. Pack it up and go home. Turn on the Smashing Pumpkins and paint on the black make-up.

It's enough to make a romantic second guess putting his heart on the line.

I have been reflecting on what does it mean to say "I love you" because I know it's significant but do we know why? Where is the power in this emotion if it doesn't seem to keep anything together.

Enough of the elusive Rob Bell rhetorical questions and start telling you what I've been thinking. I feel free to do that because why else are you reading this blog?

I think that the emotion is not capable of overcoming all obstacles. I don't believe that this emotion can keep a relationship together. I think this emotion is weak and has been fooling people for thousands of years and is perhaps the biggest farce in the human existence. This emotion will not conquer all and is doomed to fail in all cases.

I realize that many of you may be thinking that I'm a pessimist and probably don't deserve to have such a lovely girl like me. But hold on.

I believe that love is not an emotion. It never has been.

Many of our problems stem from the fact that many people believe that love is a feeling. We think it's that feeling when you see that special someone. It's that feeling when you kiss them. It's the feeling when you receive a hug from a family member. It's the feeling when you do good for the homeless man. We believe that love is an emotion like happiness, anger or sadness.

The problem is how we associate love. When we are with our special someone that we adore, we have a good feeling and thus love must be that good feeling and thus we do loving things for them. I propose that you adore the special someone and that good feeling is affection and the doing loving things is actually loving.

Love is a choice and it's an action. It's not that mushy feeling you get. That mushy feeling is happiness or affection. If you can learn the difference between love the action and love the feeling (which is not love at all) then you might find that why difficulties in relationships creep in because this drastically affects your perspective and approach.

Suddenly ideas like unconditional love make sense. Unconditional love is not that you feel mushy inside for the homeless man or for the starving orphans in Africa, but rather the fact that you love (do something for) them despite the fact you do not have mushy feelings for them. If you think that having a mushy feeling is what God means by loving the least of your brothers, you are missing it. It brings me once again to James 2 where it talks about how it is not sufficient to say "be well-fed and clothed" and then walk away. It seems that it would be better for you to help a brother in need and feel nothing than to feel all the sympathy in the world for them and do nothing.

Suddenly, it should be a call to those in abusive relationships that love does not involve beating them. Love does not involve oppressive acts. Love is not empty words said in a really sincere way. Love is all about the acts that comfort, support, and encourage.

On the flip side, love is not about about what you want. It's not heading for the door when you get bored with the person who is not that exciting mystery anymore. It's not leaving to go be with that new found person who makes you feel mushy inside. Divorce shouldn't just be the answer just because the mushy feelings are no more.

Suddenly passages like that of 1 Corinthians 13 takes on a whole different meaning.
"Love never gives up
Love cares more for others than for self
Love doesn't want what it doesn't have
Love doesn't strut,
Doesn't have a swelled head,
Doesn't force itself on others,
Isn't always "me first,"
Doesn't fly off the handle,
Doesn't keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn't revel when other grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end." (The Message)
If these things are based out of the idea that love is a choice, it means that we are actively contemplating our interactions instead of trying to fill our hearts with mushy feelings so that way we attain those attributes.

Love is active, not a descriptor of how you feel.

So what is the point of feeling sympathy or feeling attracted to individuals? I think these things can push us to act more loving because it is easier to love someone when you are sympathetic to them. This is why it is good to learn the stories of others. This is why it is good to understand others and spend time with them. It makes our defensive human spirits and softens them so we are more willing to show love to them.

If love is a mushy feeling, then what does "I love you" mean? It means you have a mushy feeling towards me. Great. Thank you. I hope you feel better.

If love is a choice and action, then you shouldn't even need to say the words because they one you love would already know. In essence, the three word sentence "I love you" does not make sense. I suppose the one way it does is if it is a promise saying, "I will care for you". It just doesn't sound as poetic. So, "I love you" will do. It also adds a new dimension of saying that you choose them. That they are dear to you and that if times when you are angry with them, you will still love them. That if you are disappointed in them, you will still love them. It is more than mushy feelings. It is a vow.

The idea of true love is a farce the way it is traditionally understood. You will not have those mushy feelings forever and if you expect to for the rest of your life, you will be disappointed and disillusioned. Those mushy feelings are good for the reason that it allows you to attach yourself to the person. That it helps you give grace to the one you are attracted to because you are willing to overlook their mistakes and you may work through problems together. It allows you the time it takes to learn how to live with another. 

Now, marriage takes on a different significance. It's not just a gamble on how long will the mushy feelings last, but rather the official announcement that you are going to live your lives together and choose to love the person everyday regardless of the mushiness of your heart. It is honourable. It is forged. It is strong. THAT is the power of love.

"Saying 'I love you'
Is not the words I want to hear from you
It's not that I want you
Not to say, but if you only knew how easy
It would be to show me how you feel
More than words
Is all you have to do to make it real
Then you wouldn't have to say that you love me
'Cause I'd already know."
"More Than Words" from Extreme's album "Extreme II: Pornograffiti"

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Language of the Soul

Music has been on my mind quite a bit recently. Both in the grander culture and even on a personal level. First and foremost, it was recently the twentieth anniversary of two significant albums, those being Nirvana's era-defining "Nevermind" and my favourite Pearl Jam album "Ten" (I recognize that good friends, Jason and Rob, would look down their nose at me for choosing the popular record as my favourite as opposed to "Vs." or "Vitalogy", but it's the truth). I've taken my iTunes library off random and have been listening to the two albums on repeat.

I was also intrigued by a special interview by Jon Stewart with the surviving members of Nirvana, Kris Novaselic and Dave Grohl, alongside the famous producer Butch Vig. The discussion of what is was like behind the scenes of the band as well as what goes into creating an album to be compelling.

This comes in the wake of the recent breakup of R.E.M., a band, while not my favourite, still had a significant impact on my library.

I also wound up missing the Pearl Jam concert that took place in Vancouver this past weekend due to a scheduling conflict with, in my opinion, a significant youth retreat. I don't regret not going, but at the same time I wonder how much longer the band will tour, especially since you could read the lyrics in their last album seeming to indicate that they are perhaps preparing to wind down.

In addition, at the retreat itself, there was a session at which there was a discussion on the content of music and it's message and the influence it may have on an individual which added to this contemplation of one of my favourite art forms to partake of.

It was not always been the case. As I have briefly mentioned in a blog post before, I have always had a difficult time with Christian music. It was what I had grown up with and was all I was exposed to in terms of music (with the exception of the songs from Disney cartoons which did not help my relationship with music). All the songs were about the same things and were always happy and were always God is awesome. Although I may have, in my limited understanding, agreed with the sentiments, at the same time it felt hollow.

In my youth, my relationship with Christian music was really like my relationship with Christianity in general. As I grew up and I was attempting to understand what it means to have faith, I was also attempting to really get into worship music and mean it. After a while, it was like I was straining to become an ardent Christian and trying to get that closer relationship to God which I thought would reveal itself as some miraculous communication with Him or some life-shaking encounter. However, it would never come. If I had just paid attention to the fact I thought Christian music was almost all terrible, I think I may have tuned into my gut that said the way I understood this faith was proving to be hollow.

Christian music simply was not connecting to any sense of a deep relationship with God. They were all essentially sappy love songs and nothing else.

The first album that actually made me say, "hey, I identify with this" was Green Day's "Dookie" that was thrown at my head. I know in reflection of it now, it is a juvenile record, but at the time I was juvenile. They talked about the world in a different light. By this time in my life, I rarely had any significant conversations with another person with a different world view and it was eye opening to hear Billie Joe sing about growing up, expressing anger, heartbreak. No Christian album talked about that. None of the worship songs ever talked about that.

Over time, I would buy more and more albums. I remember buying Collective Soul, Limp Bizkit, Our Lady Peace and Live. By the way, I recognize that I did not have the greatest taste in music when I was younger, but that's aside from the point. There was something about each of those albums that I would connect with or that I would learn from. I began to understand how others could see the world. Sometimes I would agree with it, other times not, but it engaged me.

I think at the core of it is that secular music admitted something that Christian music would not and that is: humans are human. It was something that it seemed like Christianity in general missed often. Christianity would admit that humans are trash or that we would find joy in the Lord but I found for me that both the religion and it's music struggled with the other strong emotions of sadness and anger. When I was sad or angry, the answer was you shouldn't be unless it was about how sinful you are.

Rock music said, "You should be". It strived to make you feel something. A part of the essence of living was to deal with your emotions, not hide it up with some happy song.

Now, it may seem like this story is leading me away from my faith, but it is not that obvious. I went to Bible school, I went to Bible studies and continued to learn and at the same time I continued to add to my music collection such bands as those mentioned at the top of this post along with Dave Matthews, Matthew Good, Smashing Pumpkins, Alice in Chains and Foo Fighters and I found something interesting.

It seemed to be all pointing the same direction.

I discovered that the Psalms were not all happy go lucky sing songs. Jonah was a man who struggled with the idea his enemies were invited to change. Ecclesiastes paints how meaningless life when pleasing oneself is the focus of your life and it's what led me to say that Ecclesiastes is the Nevermind of the Bible. Many of the Old Testament prophets would fit in with the likes of Bob Dylan and Neil Young.

At the same time, a common thread in many of my favourite bands show a yearning for peace and restoration. The Foo Fighters frequently toy with the idea of ascension and sanctification. Eddie Vedder's lyrics over the course of the band's career seem to move from frustration to taking up a cause to looking for what's important in life.

In some regards, I have followed suit as I struggled to reconcile hope of the Christian has in redemption and the reality of the world and human nature.

Secular music may have challenged me and drew me to understand the world only to lead me back to the idea that humanity finds itself in need of something greater than itself and I believe that is found in the Christ.

I used and continue to use music to engage my mind and explore my humanity. That is why I As Ludwig van Beethoven said, "Music is the mediator between the spiritual and the sensual life." I don't mean to say that secular music has some special key to our understanding to God and that all secular music is somehow all good. I am merely saying that our higher purpose often comes bleeding through because I believe it bleeds through all of us.

"He's the one
Who like all the pretty songs
And he likes to sing along
And he likes to shoot his gun
But he knows not what it means
Knows not what it means"
- "In Bloom" from the Nirvana album "Nevermind"

Monday, September 19, 2011

In Loving Memory

"If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters--yes, even his own life--he cannot be my disciple." - Luke 14:26

This was one of the passages Arden used in his sermon today and it stood out for me more than usual. I suppose it always stood out for me, but I had a tendency to downplay it because I believed I had a good handle on the meaning of it. It had always been taught that you love Jesus more than their family, then you are not giving yourself fully to God. That in comparison, your love of Jesus should be so much so that your love for your family would look like hatred. Kind of like a strong form of hyperbole.

Today, it stood out different for me. Perhaps it is my skittishness surrounding fundamentalism and the violence it has spawned and continues to spawn to this day in some cases that makes me uncomfortable with the statement. It's a statement like this that some would take as: "If I'm to hate my family, then I am justified in actually harming others who are not my family."

Although, I don't believe that's why it bothers me. Reality is, people have taken and will continue to take scripture and completely miss the point and go the wrong with it. We shouldn't just throw out words that Jesus says just because crazy, hateful people don't care about understanding and will abuse it.

No, I think the statement bothers me on a wider scope that you see in the breadth of Christianity and that is the idea of "loving Jesus". It was one of those ideas that has kind of sat there kind of awkwardly in the middle of the room of my theological construct that I didn't really know what to do with. It's a constant reminder to love Jesus because after all He loves you. It was confusing for two reasons.

One reason it was confusing was: In what way do I love Jesus? How is it different than loving a parent? How is it different than loving a woman? If I'm supposed to love Jesus more than anyone, then it needs a deeper dimension than the one that you share with the person closest to you? And how do you love someone who is not physically there?

The second reason it was confusing was how emotionally wrapped up people get when it comes to loving Jesus. Like they are "in love" with Jesus. It was weird to see girls fall in love with Jesus like he was the Beatles (or Justin Bieber for those who wish for a modern example) and would go wild for Him. I draw that comparison very specifically because there is almost a hysteria that surrounds all these individuals. In some regards, these girls wished that they would be able to marry these guys because they fit their ideal. I never really could relate to being so emotionally wrapped in Jesus, because I'm just not into dudes.

Obviously, that last paragraph is a touch facetious because that can't be the relationship we have with God unless you belong to a sex cult of some sort. That said, isn't it strange that many of our modern worship songs sound so much like romantic songs?

Arden's sermon was structured around the premise that our passions need to be geared toward God. It is the things that we are passionate about that fuel us to go forward and live. The question is: who are we striving for?

The easy comparison is looking to other things that motivate us. Maybe it is to impress a girl or our parents or maybe it's wealth or any number of things. The most admirable one in almost any culture is for the love of another and I think this is why it is easy for us to want to say that loving Jesus is what should motivate us.

Unfortunately, it leaves us to think that loving Jesus is similar to loving other people in our lives. Saying nice things about Him, declaring our unending devotion to Him, giving Him things. I'll be honest, I don't think that's what Jesus ever wanted.

Jesus seemed to be much more interested in obedience and us becoming more like Him than all these silly love gestures that may be nice, but ultimately mean nothing especially when the person isn't physically here with us. It seems like the word love seems to really confuse us and what we're supposed to be like and do.

When someone dies, I believe that we show love to them is to remember them. Here's the thing, we don't know what it really looks like to remember. Often it is painful and we just wish they were with us. I think we serve their memory better and truly show love to the person who has passed is learning from them. Learn from their triumphs and their character. Learn from their defeats and failures. We carry on the memory of them and honour them by letting them impact us. It is quite beautiful to me to think that the people who have left us actually have marked our lives by their lives. It shows your true relationship with them.

We have the advantage of having the life of Jesus passed down to us and we have the ability to learn from His character and triumphs and ultimately the path that guides us to true life. We carry on His memory and have His life mark ours. That seems to be more loving to Him than nice words.

Maybe that scripture from the start of this post is really getting at the fact there is something more important to life than our families and even our own life. It's not about loving Jesus in some strange romantic way, but rather becoming like Him. Really, if you are going to become like Him, we will face suffering because if you are going to love wastefully and fight injustice, then suffering will be in your horizon. It also means that we wish for those around us to become like Him, too.

Often, when our family hurts, we want to circumvent their problems because we love them and don't want them hurt. Our kid is picked on at school, so we talk to their principal or we pull them out of school. Our sibling hurts and the answer is for us to go beat up someone. We want to bubble wrap those we love so they don't have to face the reality of life and ironically we make them less able to handle it. We actually prevent them from maturing. Truly, if we love them, we have to challenge them to become Christ-like themselves. They have to face the trials that will make them stronger people and be there for them and not live their life for them.

This makes it look like we hate them. But really we're calling them to their true life, too. That passage says nothing about loving Jesus. It talks about being His disciple.

So what fuels our passion? Is it the love of Jesus and that feel good warm fuzzy of having a divine boyfriend? Or is the life of discipleship that Jesus has desired for all? Perhaps the best way to love him is to actually honour His life and become like Him.

"Love that will not betray you, dismay or enslave you,
It will set you free
Be more like the man you were made to be.
There is a design,
An alignment to cry,
At my heart you see,
The beauty of love as it was made to be"
- Title Track from the Mumford and Sons' album "Sigh No More"

Friday, September 09, 2011

I'm Not a Sexually Liberated Woman

I browsed a copy of Geez recently and saw an article about the Slutwalks that took place all over the place earlier this year in the wake of a Toronto police officer flippantly saying that women should not dress like "sluts" so as to avoid being raped.

Thanks to the officer's comment, two separate ideas have met in the middle for one of the worst examples of two groups missing the point entirely and now both look like idiots and neither realize it. 

Here are the two ideas that he threw in a wrestling ring:
A) Rape is bad and needs to stop
B) What does feminism look like?

It was like you made global warming try to fight nuclear weapon proliferation as if they were opponents. Or for a even pop culture-like reference, having ninjas fight pirates. That's the real sad part of this whole thing.

Clearly the officer was not right in making a woman take part responsibility for being raped because of the way she dresses. However, the stupidest way to respond to that allegation is dressing up like sluts as a defiant measure. It misses the point.

The person at fault when it comes to rape is only in the court of the rapist. It doesn't matter if the girl is naked or in a burka, the rapist is solely to blame. Really a rapist is looking for an opportunity. The rapist looks for any justification. Whether it's as visceral as "I want sex" or "that girl is asking for it". That is all in the head of the rapist. Even if the girl was not "asking for it", they are numerous other reasons. For instance, some have raped women wearing burkas because they figured the women needed to find sexual liberation. That's a justification of the rapist and the rapists will take any reason to satisfy it's vile desire. The opportunity is what the rapist is really looking for. Not the dress of the victim.

If the officer wanted to safeguard women against rape, it would be advice on avoiding giving opportunity. Stay with others. Avoid isolating yourself. Etcetera, etcetera. Even if the woman has given opportunity to the rapist, it's still not her fault.

Unfortunately, he said what he said.

It then leaves women on the other side to respond. And in common human response, they choose the stupidest but the most splashy way to protest and in this case it was the "Slutwalk". It's the live version of the "change your profile picture to a childhood cartoon to take a stand against pedophilia" or "don't change your profile picture to a childhood cartoon because it's somehow a trap set up by pedophiles" or "post the colour of your bra to raise awareness of breast cancer" or "post a number of weeks and a favourite food to trick people into thinking you're pregnant in order to raise awareness about something that I'm not entirely sure of because your stupid game actually is hurting you raise awareness about the topic you wanted to raise awareness about". Sweet mother, I am so frustrated by people raising awareness. I could punch the internet for several hours it bothers me so much. You know what. I need others to hear this pertinent message. I should change my Facebook status to really impact culture. Hold on... changed my status so now the world will probably sort itself out.

The problem with many "raising awareness" campaigns is that they frequently miss the point. This is no different. Really, was the problem that women should be allowed to wear whatever or was the point to stop rape? To me, a "Please Don't Rape Walk" would be a lot more pertinent to the situation. However, it's not very splashy like "Slutwalk" and I also just noticed that people might be confused as to what rapewalking is.  Nonetheless, the "Slutwalk" has probably wounded the feminist and women equality more than helped by alienating people with their parades.

I find the hard thing about some elements in the equality movement is that women are trying to attain absolute freedom and it may be ironically working against what they want. Whereas before, men enforced the image of women being eye candy and are not to be treated as equals, women are now dressing as "sexually liberated" women and now are being eye candy and allow themselves to be treated as less than equals and believe it that they are acting like a free woman. No, all they have done is fallen for the old con of making it their idea and not the man's idea to be slutty. Men are still getting what they want and women believe that they have what they want.

Unfortunately, gender equality has taken on the form of sleeping with whoever you like just like men have as though that was the ideal. Sure, before men could essentially sleep with whoever they wanted consequence free and women were either treated like property or were stuck with consequences of the act of sex but that doesn't make men in the right and that women should become like that. Now women could act like men with women's rights becoming more of a reality and with the ease of contraception and prevalence of abortion options but that still doesn't mean women should become more like men in sleeping around freely. That's the terrible thing about men. Have sex with no consequences. Treating one of the most beautiful things in the world as though it were a dime a dozen from the Wal-mart.

I don't think sexual liberation should be have as much sex as you can, but rather, it should not be used violently or used oppressively. It should be you can choose who to have that intimate bond with and not forced to by others. It's still a precious thing and we should choose how to use it and that's something women never had the luxury of before.

Rape is not the fault of the woman. Never.

However, the ideal of the woman should not be promiscuous. It should not be the ideal of men. That's not gender equality. That's not sexual liberation. That is being reckless with one of the most beautiful things you can share with another.

In conclusion to these two different topics:
1) No rape ever.
2) Rapist is to blame for rape.
3) Women and men need to share sexual liberation
4) Sexual liberation is being the master of your sexual self, not being the slave of your sexual self.

[Author's Note: There's a couple of naughty words in here.

"Plus when you give it up so easy you ain't even fooling him
If you did it then, they you probably fuck again
Talking out your neck saying' you're a Christian
A Muslim sleeping with the gin
Now that was the sin that did Jezebel in
Who you gonna tell when the repercussions spin
Showing off your ass 'cause you're thinking it's a trend
Girlfriend, let me break it down for you again
You know I only say it 'cause I'm truly genuine
Don't be a hard rock when you're really a gem
Babygirl, respect is just a minimum"
- "Doo Wop (That Thing)" from Lauryn Hill's album "The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill"

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Time, My Precious

I am sitting alone in a coffee shop on my last night here in Winnipeg before I head back to Nelson. I'm okay with that. It would be great to be hanging out with someone, but at the same time. I have appreciated the quiet time to sit and reflect.

I know that as I head back to Nelson, my time is going to disappear. I am looking to take on a lot of ambitious projects. I hope to craft a Christmas show that steps away from the Christmas pageant and towards something that is entertaining for the whole family. You know, something less dependent on cuteness and horrible writing but is still fun and engaging. I want to perhaps do another Early Night Show. I am tasked with a Grade 5 & 6 weekly program. I will be helping with youth and young adults. A lot of stuff and it is quite intimidating.

On top of this, I still want to make relationships the cornerstone of everything I do. Spending time with God, friends, youth, all of which takes time to invest. I want to still find time to spend with Kyla and invest with.

I don't know if I really have enough time.

I come back to the story of when Jesus was in Capernaum and the town loves him so much and he could decide to stay and try to do it all. But he doesn't. He leaves it all to continue onto Jerusalem. He was supposed to do something specific and nothing would stop him. He was not able to say "yes" to everything, even if it was good.

I know I have to choose but I really don't want to. It is all good. I want to be wiped at the end of my day. I want to know that I did everything I could.

My friend, Greg, was telling me about a book he was reading and offered some fantastic insight. God is not found in a physical space like church or even in the midst of creation (which will fly in the face of some who would immediately object, but follow me for a minute). Rather He is found in time. He is found when we reflect, when we take time to listen to Him. When we take time to care of people. I think that's why many find God in nature. Not because He is especially found in nature, but rather you are spending time seeing God.

Time is our most precious resource. We have been given only a certain amount in our lives and it is an ever dwindling supply. If we were offered to trade in our things for more time, I think we would. I don't know of too many people who would trade in time for more things or space. If I met someone who would, I have a sneaking suspicion I wouldn't like them too much.

Living in time means that we only have one chance to live each moment. It means we are only given a certain amount of time with each person. The use of our time truly determines what your priorities are. What you value.

Where you put money does not determine what you value despite what many may believe. You could spend money to buy your family gifts. Maybe all you do is work to earn more money so that way your family lives well but at the end of the day, you are no closer to them.

It is your time that determines what you value. It's easy to spend money on people we'd rather not spend time with. No one truly values money but many love how money is a simple solution to fix many problems that require time, the true valuable. Think about this, you know those people we'd rather avoid? Wouldn't you rather give them a gift than give them time? Drop off the gift and go? Isn't that what we do when we give the panhandler money? To make them go away?

If we give God our time, that's when we are able to prioritize. That's why we are called to Sabbath. Not because God requires it, but really we do. We can't do everything and if we think we can then really we are really saying that we know better than God. That we can't let go of our pride. We don't want to reflect. We don't want to realize that much of what we do is a chasing after the wind. This thinking we know better than God is the precise thing that will separate us from God. Not spending time with God is separation from God.

I think I have found that one of the cores of my sinful nature is pride. It comes from a good place, mind you. I want to see change in the world, but I have a horrible tendency to think that it is all up to me. I won't rest. I won't relax. I have a tendency to use all of my time doing or planning or fidgeting. The difference between me and the workaholic rich guy who never spends time with his kids who secretly despise him is that I don't have kids and I don't have money. I am exactly that guy. My time is often spent on my empire.

I face a dilemma. How do I find the balance between time doing the practical task at hand and time with those I do it for? How do I spend my time, the most precious resource we have been given?

"Confusion never stops
Closing walls and ticking clocks
Gonna come back and take you home
I could not stop that you now know singing
Come out upon my seas
Cursed missed opportunities
Am I a part of the cure?
Or am I part of the disease?"
- "Clocks" from the Coldplay album "A Rush of Blood to the Head"

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Her Telling of the Tale...

[For the first time ever and most likely only time, this is a blog post written by someone who is not me. This was written by Kyla for those interested in hearing her side of things.]
So a request was made for my side of the tale, so here is my version of how it all went down...

I never went to camp looking for a relationship...that was the last thing on my mind...My mind set was one of, in a few weeks, I’m off to Edmonton, heading to school and starting the next chapter of my life...the last thing that I need right now is a guy to get in the way of my future plans.

So camp started, I was in charge of all planning aspects of the summer, and I receive the list of all the staff members and see that a guy that I met a couple years ago was going to be out for most of the summer. My memory of this guy was that we had a good talk one day and that he was a really neat guy, so I was excited for the thought that we could hang out a little more this summer, but in the back on my mind, I was still in the frame of mind that school is starting, and I am not here for a relationship.

He arrived, and didn’t remember me, no big deal, I’m not one who stands out in a crowd...I’m a little on the silent side, and I don’t feel that I am all that rememberable. It didn’t take me long to realize that I still had feelings for him from the summer when we met, but I initially dismissed them as just a crush, no point trying to start anything there, at the end of summer, we’ll go back into our own worlds and the summer wont even matter. Besides, I felt that the idea of him would be better than the reality...he was a funny guy, and that was the only personality of his that I ever saw...funny is good, but in a relationship, don’t you also need the serious aspect of things as well?

I also found it impossible to believe that he would fall for me. I am quiet, he is outgoing. I am a few years younger than him, and although his age didn’t bother me, I didn’t know how he felt about my age in relation to I figured, it was just going to be a crush. I’d get over point making the end of summer harder by falling for a guy who would never return the feelings for me.

Summer progressed, and he started to initiate subtle touches...resting his hand on my shoulder for a second, touching my back, things like that...I didn’t know how to react to these touches, but just dismissed them as “good job” pats and tried not to read into them more than what he intended them to mean, as I have a tendency to read too much into things, which tends to hurt me in the I tried to keep my mind clear that these taps meant anything other than “good job.”

He continued to rest his hand on me periodically, and every time he did, I had a bitter-sweet feeling happening in my head...I liked the touches because I liked him, but at the same time, all I could thing was, “what are you doing? I like you, and this is so not helping...” this was because it always made me think, “Hey...maybe he does actually like me.”...but then I remember...not happening...not in a million and one years...wouldn’t happen...wouldn’t work...right? It can’t work...I’m going to school soon, he lives somewhere can’t work, won’t work...why even try anything...

Eventually, I started having deeper feelings than just a little crush...but in the back of my mind, it still seemed impossible...this guy would never fall for me...I was just setting myself up for a heartbreak by falling for him, just like I had many times in the just wouldn’t work, and I shouldn’t let myself fall.

Then he invited me to join him during his morning devotional a half hour before staff meeting. My first thought was that maybe this is a way for him to hint that he likes me, but I immediately dismissed that; there’s no way that he likes me, he is just trying to be nice. In spite of these thoughts, my crush still outweighed my reservations, and I agreed to meet him in the mornings.

It was because of these morning devotional meetings that I realized this had turned into more than just a crush for me. This guy seemed so was his faith that really caused me to notice that there was something more there...he wasn’t just the funny guy who made me and those around him laugh...he also had this serious side of was witnessing this side of him, his faith side and spiritual side, that caused my change in crush status...suddenly, he wasn’t just a crush, but someone that I actually liked and wanted to spend as much time with as possible. I didn’t know how the end of camp would play out, but I didn’t care, I just wanted to hang out with him, and learn more about him and his life.

Finally, he questioned me on my motives for meeting him the mornings. My first thought; “Shoot.” You know what the problem is with revealing that you like a guy? It’s that you are revealing that you like a guy...and when you do that, all the power shifts to him, and he has the power to either say, “I like you too,” or to say that he does not and therefore break your heart. It is never a good spot to be in, but I could no longer deny that I liked him, and so forced myself to reveal the truth to him, that I did have feelings for him. The conversation ended with him telling me he that he liked me too, but that he didn’t want to do long distance.

Then we had a larger break in between a couple of our camps and we were able to spend some time together. We hung out a lot, and then I realized that not continuing something between us after camp was not going to work with me. I had fallen too hard for this guy, and I couldn’t allow us to just dismiss this as a “summer fling;” that wasn’t going to work for me. It wasn’t an option...the only option in my mind was to try the long distance thing, even though we both hated the idea of it.

The days off changed things drastically for me...but camp was over in a week, and he was going to be moving on with his life, and I was heading to Edmonton soon...but I didn’t want to have to say good- bye, especially not right after camp, so I invited him to stay at my place for a few extra days, because I didn’t want to have to say good-bye, not yet...I wanted to push it back. To my surprise, he agreed to come.

Then that last night came, and as he said, we were sitting and talking after all the kids had gone to bed. He was telling me that it wasn’t going to work...and all I can think was how can you say it wont work? Were you not there with me during the break? Did you not feel what I was feeling? How can you say that we cannot try to keep this thing going?

I had been wanting to say that not continuing something wasn’t going to work for me for a while, but I kept hoping that he would see it on his own, then he said this, and I realized that I had to say it now, or I would be saying good-bye to him, and that wasn’t going to be okay with me. So I told him what I was thinking...and apparently, that changed it for him.

He came to my place the next day, and we talked about us. He finally realized how I felt about him, and we came to the decision to date.

Now here we are. I am happy I stood up for us, because I cannot imagine ending this summer any other way.

And in tradition of lyrics after his posts, here is a song for you:

“But it's not the same without you
Because it takes two to whisper quietly 
The silence isn't so bad
'Til I look at my hands and feel sad 

'Cause the spaces between my fingers 
Are right where yours fit perfectly”
~ “Vanilla Twilight” from the Owl City album Ocean Eyes

Monday, August 29, 2011

So, This is What Happened

I will admit that I tried to resist. Really, I did.

I have said in the past that I would never do the long distance thing. It is irrational to attempt to conduct a relationship when you are so far apart let alone a really hard experience where I was burned on it before. It is hard to delve into a relationship when I can't see their expression.

I had begun to adjust of living the single life to the full. Doing my thing in Nelson, doing the Summer Ministry Team, looking at other places to move. My temperament and skill set works well as one that moves around.

I've realized that a girl who wants to be with me has to be one who can do without a lot of things that our culture says is important.

I've realized that although I may be admired by some, that it is a different story when it comes to joining with me in a relationship.

I'm aware that my faith is not as orthodox as some would like it to be and I didn't want it to be a shock and somehow upset everything.

I could tell that she liked me. I can't really explain how. She smiled a little too much, eyes twinkled a little. It was either she liked me or was planning to con me of my inheritance. But I figured it was a little crush and I wasn't about to get distracted from what I was at the camp to do and that is to be with the kids and work on projects. At the time, I liked her too, but it was one of those scenarios where maybe if things were different it would work.

On some days off, I spent time with her and I knew she was a great girl, but I looked at the situation and my past and I really didn't consider the relationship to be viable.

She invited me to her parent's place for a few days after camp and at the back of my mind, I was unsure of what to do. She was falling for me and I believed it to be a lost cause and I was going to be the villain when I would break her heart. I tried to warn her and let her know the summer was not going to end the way she wished it to end.

I agreed to go nonetheless, because I liked spending time with her. She was sincere and I didn't have the heart to be cruel despite in the end I knew I would be far more cruel in leading her on.

On one of the last nights of camp, when the kids had gone to bed, she and I talked about the weekend. We were talking about what our relationship would look like after camp. I was saying that it was not going to work. Not right now. I'm going back to Nelson and she's off to school in Edmonton and neither of us should change our plans because of this. I said, if it were a different time and place and perhaps in the future it would work to pursue something.

What happened next is what changed it for me.

She told me that not trying would not cut it for her. She opened up and I saw that it was more than some crush. She not only liked me, but liked me enough to push against me. I had told her for a while that it would not work and that at the end of the summer I wasn't going to pursue anything. Despite the odds of me not going along with it, she thought I was worth it enough to defy my pessimism. If you knew her, you'd realize that she is normally a passive and quiet girl. One who accommodates for others. I did not expect her to say anything like what she said because it was out of character for her and because no girl has stood up and told me how she felt about me.

Suddenly, I saw her different. Not only has this girl encouraged me and supported me, but she actually felt passionately for me.

I tried to resist. Really, I did.

However, now the long distance thing was an annoyance, but then I remembered they have Skype, planes, trains and automobiles.

Now, my wanderlust is not a detriment to a relationship, but perhaps I can wander near her next.

Now, maybe this girl cares more about the guy I am than the things I have.

Now, maybe this girl actually admires me and believes in me.

Now, maybe our faiths can grow together.

I some times assume my story is supposed to be one where things don't go my way. That it's my lot in life.

Every once in a while, it's nice to be wrong.

"Hey, you've got to hide your love away
Hey, you've got to hide your love away

How can I even try
I can never win
Hearing them, seeing them
In the state I'm in

How could she say to me
'Love will find a way'
Gather 'round all you clowns
Let me hear you say,

'Hey, you've got to hide your love away
Hey, you've got to hide your love away.'"
- "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away" from the Beatles' album "Help!"

Sunday, August 07, 2011

I Guess That's Why They Call Me the Working Man

[Note from David: It was brought to my attention that this post was miscommunicated to people who read it. While I was trying to communicate my difficulty in knowing how to get people to help, it could have been read that others were incapable of helping me which is a mistake on my part and not my intention. I have edited it to try and communicate better what I intended. I apologize to those who believed that I thought less of them.]

We have now finished our first full week at Covenant Bay and it has been a busy week. It was probably too much. One of the nights involved me staying up until 5am editing videos that would be shown the next day because I was not able to find enough time to do it before. I should point out that I did have a hand in making myself busier than I could handle. I suggested that we play a couple of games that I have designed such as my semi-infamous "Monster" game and my elaborate game of the summer called "The Legend of Zelda". (Side note: If you are a fan of the Zelda, know that it was awesome and if you know "Ocarina of Time", you would have appreciated it. And our Princess Zelda was played by Hanne Johnson who looks exactly like her. Except for the whole "she's a real person" thing.) Because we played those games and I worked to expand the Zelda game because we had more staff that we could incorporate, it added to a week of planning and filming four videos and helping with worship leading. Yes, you read that right. I was involved with the worship leading despite my lack of musical ability. I was kind of an advisor and was supposed to help plan the sessions.

However, I really didn't know how to approach it and it left me not able to do the thing I really love which is coming up with sketches to perform. Really, the role I am gifted at. I tried to do the best I could with it, but in regards to planning a whole session, it's hard. It takes a lot of time and a lot of meeting with people and it involves leaving the things I am best at.

I was barely keeping ahead of what was coming next and even then, my suggested order for the sessions were essentially abandoned making most of my effort a vain pursuit. However, that is a side point. Really, I could have handled it if I did not have all the other stuff that I am passionate about and excel at also on my plate. I love constructing elaborate fun games that kids get excited about. I love making sketches. I love making movies. I do all of those very well.

The problem is that I make all of those things complex and it is in my brain and I don't how to simply and concisely convey my ideas. In the end, I have these games that are fun and different but since they are more intricate, it's hard to boil everything down to have them better understood. I want to perform sketches, but I only like my own because it's what I'm comfortable with. I am the one who knows editing and I want quality so I will pile hours into making the best video I can. It's either that I don't want someone else doing the work because I am afraid that someone might ruin it and I have a terrible sense of pride. Even if I did let someone help, I would feel the need to essentially hold the hand of someone because I am afraid that I would forget a detail in the initial explanation.

This leaves me in a predicament. I love doing these big projects, but I have a hard time knowing how to get people to help me. What winds up happening is that I am the one who must do it if it is to be done well enough. I feel really bad, because I don't know how to incorporate the girls from the Summer Ministry Team into my projects because their passions lie in the people side of ministry. They want to help. They see that I am clearly overworking myself to do way more than what one can do, but I am unsure of how to fix it.

At the end of this week, I was brought around to the realization that what I missed most was the human connection and really that is what I've been wanting. Something of substance. It goes from the campers that I didn't hang out with a whole lot this week, to the girls on the team that I've had a hard time finding the opportunities to grow close to, to the wider scenario of people in general because of the skills I possess and the roles I take on. I don't know how to get the help I would like because I know noone who operates on the same level.

The thing is, I don't think the help I'm really needing or wanting is one of helping me do these big projects. I don't mind doing that kind of work or even using the amount of time that I do to craft them. In the end, I want someone who recognizes the work I do and gives me an even-handed critique. I am looking for someone to look out for me and make sure that I'm alright because I don't do that well. The challenge is how do I find a person or people like that when I isolate myself behind the projects I am involved with? How do I not alienate myself from others with how much I push myself in these projects?

"I get up at seven, yeah,
And I go to work at nine.
I got no time for living, yes,
I'm working all the time.
It seems to me I could live my life a lot better than I think I am.
I guess that's why they call me,
They call me the working man.
They call me the working man,
I guess that's what I am."
- "Working Man" from Rush's self-titled album