There’s nothing like the little things to make your not-so-fun, have-to-clean, lonely-at-home night a little brighter: like finding there really was one more Oreo hiding in the pack.
A Confession: I Don’t. 11 August 2008
“Writing is a form of prayer.” Franz Kafka
I don’t believe in God. I wasn’t comfortable saying this until a few years ago, when I became friends with other nonbelievers (secular humanists, post-theologians, Freethinkers, atheists, etc.) who showed me that admitting such a thing isn’t taboo. For a long time, I would tell people I was agnostic, or searching, or still a little unsure, or even that I just didn’t like organized religion. But I was lying to them, and to myself. I’m not searching, or unsure, and while it is true that I don’t care for organized religion, the rest was just gloss. I don’t believe in an all-knowing, all-powerful being that created me and the earth in six days and has the power to control everything, all at once, all the time. I just don’t.
I remember a few years ago I attended an Interact function for Rotary International. I was in high school, fighting with my parents every week to get out of church on my one day a week to sleep in. In addition to being a service organization, Rotary is a Christian organization, so I wasn’t surprised when everyone bowed their heads to pray before dinnertime. As usual, I sat quietly and politely, my hands on my lap, my head held high and my eyes plainly open, waiting to eat. Though I usually try to maintain as much decorum as possible, this is one area I have never been able to enter. I will not pretend to pray. I noticed a few other open eyes around the table and we smiled at each other, silently agreeing that we were there for the community service, not for the sermon. After the “Amens” and the food had begun to pass, a boy piped up across the table about Heaven and Hell. I don’t think his discussion was directed at me, or any other non-prayers at the table, but he was hard to ignore. His opinion was simple: Christians were going to Heaven. Everyone else was going to Hell. I think this was the point where I decided, once and for all, that I was satisfied with my atheism. Yet I still waited a long time to “out” myself to my family.
A few weeks ago my grandmother outed me. “Why don’t you believe in God?” she asked. My grandmother is a very religious person, and her belief in God has gotten her through some very dark times. I don’t doubt that her faith has helped her in her life, even perhaps saved her life at times, and I never intend to try and demean her personal faith. But I had to come clean.
“I just never have,” I said. “It’s nothing anyone did or didn’t do. I’ve just never felt comfortable putting my life into the hands of something else that I can’t see and can’t feel.”
“So you don’t pray,” she said.
“No,” I answered. I thought back to a few mornings before, sitting in church next to her, head up and eyes open as she prayed with all her might. I went because it made her happy. Now she knew it meant nothing more than that.
“Who do you turn to when you’re at your very lowest?” She asked.
I thought about this for a moment, but the answer that came out wasn’t what I would have expected myself to say. “I write,” I said.
She was silent, and then said, “Your writing is very spiritual to you, isn’t it?”
“Not spiritual,” I said, “just therapeutic. It’s important. I gather strength from myself through my writing.”
This answer sated her for the time being, but I could already see my name on her church’s bulletin the next week: “Pray for Kate’s Soul.”
I thought about it more and realized that although I don’t believe in God, I believe in faith: faith in my own voice. And my writing strengthens my soul as much as a prayer strengthens my grandmother’s. I may not believe that my soul will live for eternity, but my writing can. My words will. And in the strength I pull from my writing, travel, new experiences, constant learning, I can make my own Heaven right now: one that I know I will get to, because I am already there. One that I know I will deserve because I have worked hard for it. And I am finally comfortable saying it, after all these years. I don’t believe in God. I believe in me.
“It’s the wonder of nature, baby!” 4 August 2008
Flashback to 1996.
I’m 14. The movie Twister has just come out. And more than anything else, I want to be a tornado chaser. I am that geeky girl who dreams of moving to Oklahoma, getting a Dodge Ram, and moping through the winter until it’s glorious tornado season once again.
I like to think this silly part of my life is well in the past, but I would just be kidding myself and everyone else. I was reminded that I still have a touch of Twister in me the other day, as dark clouds built outside the coffee shop where I was trying to finish my first Master’s submission. I left the computer screen and bolted outside, where I stood in rapt attention as the temperature dropped and wind picked up. I watched the lightning, smelled that impending storm smell, and closed my eyes to feel the breeze on my face. What was it that still fascinated me about this weather well after I’d given up my dream of that Dodge Ram pickup?
Maybe it’s the promise of watching something both dangerous and beautiful at the same time. Maybe it’s the chance of seeing something rare, something different. Most likely it’s the raw power of a thunderstorm as it barrels across the land, showing no mercy, that raises the hairs on my arms. Do I need to get out more? Perhaps. But sometimes (mostly when I should be doing other things), I am no happier than when I am leaning on a porch railing, camera in hand (just in case), feeling a damp wind on my face, and scanning the horizon for cracks of light and whirling wind.
And it is in these moments I realize that you can take the girl out of the rural, but you can’t take the rural out of the girl.
Nostalgia 3 August 2008
Some days, when I am tired, when life is too much, when problems seem unsolvable and words are not enough, I wish I was two years old again. And then I could throw a tantrum and no on would think it odd if, when desperation set in, I began to cry and scream in public.
For the Moment II 20 July 2008
Last year, about this time, I posted this blog. At the end, I questioned whether or not these “for the moment” good feelings could be carried into other seasons. As a year has passed, I’ve learned that it wasn’t just last summer that allowed us to bask in these moments. It was the promise of friendship, excitement and stability. It was knowing where everyone was and everyone was going to be. It was being with the ones we love and care about, doing the most exciting things we could within the surroundings we had.
I’ve gone back to read last year’s post several times, and tried to think about how I can re-instate such wonderful feelings. It’s been hard, with our best friends moving away, money being tight, and Tom working all the time. It’s also been hard as I have a very exciting September ahead. I’m finding that living for the moment has gotten harder, and I wonder where I lost it along the way. Am I not as happy as I was last summer? I’ve been to Cayman, to school, to Illinois to see my grandma and relax. I’ve enjoyed my job more, spent a lot of time at the coffee shop, attended a few more local events. I’m writing and reading for school, and keeping my mind active. And yet, I find myself either pining for last spring or looking forward to this fall more than anything.
Perhaps there will always be things we miss in our lives. But how do we get past that, just for the moment anyway, to be able to open our eyes as to not miss what might be right in front of us?
A Guest in My Own Home 10 July 2008
Today I told my therapist that sometimes I feel lonely at home by myself.
She asked me whether or not I treated myself like a guest in my own home. Do you go out of your way to make you feel welcome? She asked.
I thought about it and decided that I probably didn’t. She nodded. I made a mental note to sit myself down with a cup of tea and let myself indulge in a good movie more often. Or treat myself to some chocolate milk. Or ask myself, wouldn’t you just adore a dip in the pool? It doesn’t matter that no one’s here. I’m good company, aren’t I? Of course I am.
You People Amuse Me. 9 July 2008
To the woman I so graciously assisted at work last night:
I’m so glad I could spare fifteen minutes of my shift to help you look for the perfect book on codependency.
And then, it was so lovely to be accused of hiding the good books on trust issues. Even though your boyfriend held the one you wanted the whole time.
It’s customers like you that really make me feel appreciated and needed. Oh, and make me laugh my ass off for days afterwards.