April 4, 2009 @ 12:28 am by sean
P-P.S (Pre-post script) No discussion that involves beauty would be complete without listening to The Build Up by the Kings of Convenience and Feist. And no post would be complete without a link. I’ve listened to this song on repeat for half the writing of this post. I can’t listen to this song just once. Twice, at least, always. Sometimes more. Like 20 times over.
Most stories are made of struggle, I don’t think that’s a secret, and I don’t think I’m getting that wrong. I’ve been seeing that struggle as beauty lately. Or perhaps the beauty in the struggle. I’m not sure there is a difference. If there is, I’m not sure which I’ve been seeing. Our current state is not lacking in struggle, and more people are struggling than probably thought ever would be.
Seeing someone driving a crappy car, making due with it, and getting to work in it or at least wherever it is they need to be, and persevering. Seeing people underemployed or working where they need to work to get by, even if they don’t want that job and desired or did something once meaningful in itself, not just because it paid the bills. Seeing people unemployed and not being ashamed to take unemployment benefits and food stamps. People alone, just getting by, just keeping on keeping on.
I see these people and see beauty in it. I see the potential. I see the end when it’s all worth it. I see the treasure in heaven in the absence of the treasures on earth. I see God with them. The grass of the field He clothes, and is thrown into the fire; how much more He clothes these people. They are of more value than the birds of the air that neither sow nor reap, nor store up into barns, yet He feeds them; how much more He feeds these people.
I see myself in it, and am depressed. Not in the contemporary medical term perhaps, but I see nothing in it of what I see in others. I am disappointed. I want more than this. I want a car in better condition. I don’t want to be hungry. I do not want to consider taking government money to support myself. I want a job that matters, not only to me but to the rest of the world, to the kingdom of God. I want friends around. I want to be involved.
I want an easy life.
I know better than that. I know easy lives, if they exist, probably are boring. When my life was easy it was boring because I never made the most of it. Sometimes it was great. Much better than this.
Even before I realized I loved her (or may have) just her existence alone reassured me that love was possible, that the marriage kind of love between me and a woman could happen. There was joy in that. That faded. As I’ve considered my move back to Detroit, I’ve considered how to give her back her paintings that hang in our house. I could give them to Rachel to give her. I could send them wrapped with excruciating care. With a note that says no more than “Thanks.” I could ask to see her one more time, to reassure me once again, before I venture to a new life, that yes, love is possible.
I woke up Wednesday morning with that reassurance. She clung to me because I was her love. My room was a mess because my life was a mess, but she didn’t notice. That didn’t matter to her. We sat in the theatre and she held close to my arm because she didn’t want to be away from me. But the lights were on, and there he was, staring at me, just as I had caught his glance a few times two weeks ago at the senior graphic design show. I did not catch hers that night, nor did I want to. This time, though, his stare was intense, and it took me a while to realize they were still together, and he was not happy with this circumstance. She then noticed this too. She protested, got up presumably to go explain. She never came back, I woke up before anything more could happen.
The whole situation was not unusual. I had just been in that hall Tuesday evening to watch some of the Imago Film Festival, and I think that is what was happening in the dream. I realized, not to long ago, my apparent need for the touch of a female. Not sexual, necessarily, just the closeness. And single or not matters not. If her boyfriend is not around or doesn’t care, I’m just like one of the girls or a little brother and get as close as I want, obviously only with those who I know reciprocate. So that she was with him but I was close wasn’t unusual. And she found me interesting once, why not again?
Because she’s married now, that’s why. And we haven’t spoken in 9 months.
On my way to work that same Wednesday morning a few days ago I listened to the Kings of Convenience instead of NPR. It was refreshing. I enjoy NPR, but feel an obligation or else I am not informed. I didn’t miss it that day. Work was great, I was late, but was creative finally. Riverwoods was a joy, not much stress. CS4 design premium came in the mail. I recorded another track. A new joy in my life. Joy is from the Holy Spirit. Nothing else changed. I’m still poor. Comparatively alone. About to run out of money. Working a meaningless job. Car could fall apart at any mile.
I was what I saw in others.
The last film of the festival on Tuesday, which ended up winning best of show, was about a Ukrainian couple illegally living in Germany, their six year old son not in school because that would get them deported. They struggled, stressed, pressure was intense, worked long, laborious hours at meaningless jobs, and still couldn’t afford false papers to get their son into school. They had to send money home to his father in the hospital. Nothing they did made a difference. Eventually he pleaded, and the school accepted him. Perhaps like a beautiful photograph of decay, the short film was full of beauty. And I was almost envious. My struggle feels meaningless. Half in secret because other friends are doing just fine as they look to buy houses, go on vacations to other countries, fill their house with whatever they care to. Or if are not doing fine, are some how still amused. I have my parents as a fall back. I can dress above my situation. I still have a college degree. I have a massive computer now with CS4 Design Premium (courtesty of dad and mom, same goes for the computer). I’m full of knowledge of what would make a good life. From the outside it looks like I’m set.
I’m miserable. And when I’m not, I’m unconvinced it isn’t apathy, just ignoring. Not living, just being not miserable.
I see someone driving a nice car and think, I want a 1999 Subaru Impreza 2.5 RS, or no, a 1987 VW GTI, or no, a 2009 John Cooper Works Mini Cooper, or no, a Lotus Elise, or even better, an Ariel Atom or Caterham 7 Superlight. And I think about how unhappy I am with my car. I think the person with a nice car has friends, and a fun life. So then I see someone driving a 15 year old car with some rust, in an obvious state not it’s prime, and I want that! The pinnacle of suffering. Everyone knows it. A struggle materialized, but joy prevails regardless. And then I wonder why I don’t feel that way driving a 15 year old car with some rust, in an obvious state not it’s prime and I get frustrated. And then I consider the ravens and the lilies.
I see someone dressed well, and think, I want to dress well. I think that person who dresses well has friends, and a fun life. So I study the Sartorialist. But those people could have shallow lives. And I don’t actually want to dress how they do, because they just have expensive, ugly, mall clothes, they wouldn’t even have their picture taken by the Sartorialist. And then I see people with style but obviously not paid for, style by making due. I have those clothes but instead dress like I make more than I do, living off clothes that I have from when I made more than I do. And I’m frustrated with my wardrobe not having the clothes in it I want. And then I consider the ravens and the lilies.
I see someone eating well. I lust over the recipes in Gourmet magazine. I would make that food if I could buy the ingredients. I do make that food when I can afford the ingredients. Well, some of it. But then I see motion pictures (because this is a part of someone’s life not usually seen by others) in their ugly, unappointed kitchen, making insipid food, hardly filling their stomach, drinking water instead of something with flavor, and I see the purpose and meaning in their perserverance. And I want that. But than I skip meals because I don’t have food to make, and what I can generally tastes the same as what I made last time because it is what I made last time. And then I’m frustrated and hungry. And then I consider the ravens and the lilies.
And so on. And on again. With this. And with that. And every aspect of life.
I consider the ravens and the lilies, but only sometimes. Usually I’m just unhappy or apathetic, or unnecessarily satisfied with less. I see me how I assume other people see me. But I don’t see me how I see others. But I do see me how I do see others which is how I assume how they see me.
I never see me how God sees me.
So I reckon I’ll move to Detroit. Struggle is obvious there. And unavoidable. Why do I think I’ll enjoy the struggle any more there? 22% unemployment in the city, why do I think I’ll even get a job? I have a part time job here, why not stay? Make do, work to support myself, even if it is a job I don’t like what I’m design, because there is honor in that. This job is supposed to go full time anyway. I’ll probably go alone, no one has the dream I do to make it in Detroit, so why would I be any less lonely? If I stay where people are, no one here has the dream I do to make it in Detroit, so I dream alone and get discouraged and live satisfied with less.
No matter what I think, I think three opposite things at once; what I want, what I want to want, and God. I know I know true joy comes in Him. Rejoice in the Lord always, brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance, and let endurance have its full effect, that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing, so do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own, today’s trouble is enough for today, therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear, is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them, are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And if you can not even do so small a thing as that, why do you worry about the rest? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these, but if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you – you of little faith? Therefore, do not worry, saying “What will we eat?” or “What will we drink?” or “What will we wear?” for it is the Gentiles who strive after these things, and indeed, your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things, so do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom, therefore, sell your possessions and give alms, make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys, for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also, because the works of the flesh are obvious, by contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen, so ask, and it will be given you, search, and you will find, knock, and the door will be opened for you, for everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened, is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone? Or if the child asks for a fish, will give a snake? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him! Strive first for the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all the things will be added unto you.