Monday, June 21, 2010

Turn to Him the Other Also

I have been thinking a lot about Compassion and how important a virtue it is. As a Christian, I try to live my life in a way that Jesus would. As least...that's what I try to do whenever I remember . Whether or not you believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ, I don't think anyone can dispute that he lived a remarkably compassionate life for a man. How selfish I can be! How self-absorbed! It's not that I go around pruposefully hurting people. But I sometimes put on blinders. I think, "It's not my problem," or that my point of view is the most valid.

Wrong. A thousand times, wrong.

Even if my point of view is more valid, I'm pretty sure the great work of this life is not to prove how right one is all the time.

There are probably lots of things that qualify as the "the great work" of our lives. But, Christian or agnostic or whatever it is you believe, achieving basic human kindness is a worthy goal. And not just kindness, compassion.

I'm discovering that compassion requires me to swallow a lot of pride. And I have a lot of pride to swallow, as evidenced (among other things) by my last post. I have a horrible tendency to assume the worst. For example, sometimes I feel unfairly judged when no judgment is being passed. When Paul talks about charity thinking no evil, he's talking to suspicious, defensive, vulnerable-feeling people like me, who tend to take life with waaaay too many grains of salt.

Compassion, on the other hand, tells me to swallow my injury--real or imagined--and see a situation through someone else's eyes. To not project my disapproval of someone's momentary rudeness onto their entire character. To not take an honest mistake personally, or carry insults away with me. Compassion tells me to defenestrate this whole notion of entitlement and "what's in it for me." (Defenestrate: the best new word you've learned all day)

Compassion says, "Wait a minute. That person is not out to get you. Stop, and try to understand before you react."

Why am I posting this? Because I'm thinking about it. Because I had an instance or two just in the past week that could have gone from ugly to worse, but didn't. Because...I don't know why. Because through the haze of my rage, or terrible impatience or what have you, I reached really deep down into myself and from somewhere (I don't know where)I found compassion. It was really, really hard, but somehow, I did it, and it turned my whole day around. It was totally empowering.

I felt like an adult... no, that's a bad way to put it because there are a lot of really. dumb. adults.

I felt whole.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Non-verbal Communication

I almost just posted an impassioned entry about how I’m tired of people’s reactions to Travis’s and my, hmm, public affection... But I’ll trade in eloquence for terseness and just say that I’m tired of feeling like it annoys people. I’m tired of people turning their heads away in embarrassment or disgust (I can’t tell which) even when I just lean in to touch my forehead to his or kiss his cheek.

Keeping in physical contact (not overly so, of course) is an important way for me to communicate with him even when I’m not talking directly to him—especially as I’ve been inducting the new entity of us into my HUGE and rather tight-knit groups of friends and family.

Is that so wrong? So inappropriate?


Monday, June 7, 2010


Before I started college, I lived in the same lovely house my entire life: a one-story, red brick, Cape Cod-style house in the old orchard neighborhoods of south Orem. I also recently learned that the Thomases where one of the first families in my old neighborhood, and that the land all of my neighbors' houses sit on was once the Thomas family orchard. Thomases were here before BYU, and urban sprawl, and consumerism run rampant.

I felt oddly proud.

Obviously, the land was sold, most of the trees cut down, and the only remnant of the Thomas orchard farmstead now is a little nondescript one-story brick home close to State Street, where my grandparents now live.

I have a very strong sense of what it means to be home. When I went on my mission to Brazil for 18 months, I struggled with feelings of dislplacement for a long time. I missed routine. I missed familiar smells. I missed the mountains and the sweet smell of rain on pavement and parched earth. I missed the seasons and the ways my family marked their passing. I found it difficult to face the possibility of moving every six weeks.

Of course I grew to love Brazil. I fell in love with new flavors, new hills and vantage points, and the spicy smell of tropical rain. I felt quite at home in the loud, wild, urban tangle of the city streets and power lines, and even the bad smells ceased to put me off. My sense of place adapted. It became less about physical location and more about people. And when I came home--Utah home--I discovered, paradoxically, that I had left home(s) again.

Two years later. Travis' and my home started with a sense of urgency. A need, really. We are getting married and we didn't know how long it would take to find a decent place. We semi-frantically stumbled upon a nice condo in a good neighborhood, for very reasonable rent, that looks out over the valley to the south. Now that the contract is signed and rent is paid, we've started cooking and eating meals there. Our sparse furnishings comprise a little Ikea implement that fits perfectly in our miniture kitchen and doubles our meager counter space, as well as a comfy chair for my school desk. We were also able to purchase a new bed at cost, and plans for a couch and other chair-like furnishings are in the works, including a giant, blue, Twinkie-shaped "slacker sack." But in the meantime, all we've got is a kitchen table and chairs (courtesy our landlord) and enough guitars and drums to start a small band.

Our first evening spent in our place was a surprise from Travis to me. He brought his projector, a movie I'd been wanting to see for a long time and some pillows and blankets to prop against the wall. We ate our lemon chicken--the first meal in the new place--then settled in on the floor of our mostly-empty apartment for a movie. I felt oddly proud.

My sense of home is adapting again. I find that it's less about people now and more about person. I've never really spent more than a couple hours at a time in the new apartment, but it's already more my home than where I live now. It's probably because wherever Travis is to talk with me, bump into me, or hold me, or just be with me...that's home now, and I'll add it to my collection of people and places I call home.
That's our place.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

On organization. Or juggling. Or whatever you wanna call it.

I want to be organized. I really do. I dream about it all the time. I dream about having my own space where I can put my stuff where i want it. Luckily for me, that eventuality is soon to become an actuality! In the meantime...sigh. I have so much crap, and so much to do, and therefore no time or motivation to organize said crap.

Here's a taste of my to do list:

-clean room.
-KEEP IT CLEAN (this is a continuous project that is only done sporadically at best.)
Okay, I need to comment about this. I am an inherently disorganized person who has forced herself to become organized enough to function in the adult world. This translates into my keeping up the appearance of orderliness. I keep public spaces clean. I put my dishes in the dishwasher right after I use them; I take my shoes to my room; I turn off lights; I lock doors. But for whatever reason, my room is a neglected space. Why? I don't know. Maybe, like Virginia Woolf, I just need "a room of my own" where my spontaneity and right-brainedness can live unfettered for a while until my superego tells me that the state of my room is no longer acceptable. the short of it is, sometimes it's really nice to just take off your clothes and LEAVE them on the floor and go to bed without some annoying little voice in the back of your head saying "pick it up. You'll regret it later if you dont." And I invariably do. Moving on...

-get a couch
-get a bed
-get a life! (some of my friends are beginning to believe I've died and they've missed the funeral.)
-pay rent.
-pay it again. (sell extraneous contract...ahem...)
-pay various parties back money I owe them
-work like crazy until June 26 to fill up 100 extra hours available to me at work
-get announcements out.
-etc. ("Et Cetera" happens to be a very important item.)

oops! and don't forget...
-get wedding band
-get an assortment of ribbons and frills i have to give to various event planners
-AND, get the ONLY thing we really need in the first place viz. the marriage license

I'm sorry for such a disappointingly short and (oh horrors!) disorganized blog post after such protracted silence. But thus is my life. Thus is the life I'm trying to turn into my new life.

I'll probably make a greater effort to blog over the next while. ("Probably" being the operative word.)