I was recently challenged by a friend to momentarily shift from simply re-posting previous entries to writing something “totally new, fresh, unanticipated”. And although I cannot verify the congenital “freshness” of the words that follow, I thought that I could at least give it an honest go.
So hear it is, void of any “best if used by” date, or color-changing freshness seal, my attempt.
(Dramatic cracking of the knuckles)
I don’t write nearly often enough. Granted, those of you who have read any of my previous posts may passionately disagree. You may even assert that, for the greater good of global humanity, I in fact already write too much as it is. I can certainly handle that; my ego is not nearly that fragile.
I know that I don’t write enough because the idea of doing so is always on my mind yet never on my paper. Thoughts of what I hope to one day craft into prose hover mockingly in my mind as a vapor, yet so often I seem unable or unwilling to make it a reality; a viewable reality, at least.
I’ve speculated for years as to why this is, and I think that I may now understand a fraction of the reason.
I sometimes have difficulty with the “in between”.
When I spent three months in India during the summer of 2006, I was parsimonious about every picture that I shot for the first two-thirds of that trip. Each snapshot had to be a masterpiece, and I would immediately delete it if it were not. The composition, the lighting, and the subject matter - each had to be flawless before I would even consider its request for residence among the other images in the gated community of my camera’s memory card.
It wasn’t until I was two-months deep into this journey that I realized my mistake. Every photograph I had taken was of some stunning moment during my time there, both grand and subtle in nature. Although powerful, important, and significant, these were only a small piece of the true adventure I was encountering. I had no shots of the breathtakingly simple landscapes around me, or the countless deceptively mundane rooms I had the privilege to sleep in. These details escaped my intrigue for the allure of other options. Not necessarily the temples and sunsets per se, but the arranged, the orchestrated, the images that captured “what I was going for”, if that makes sense.
And that is the difficulty I often have with writing. To simply share an unplanned snapshot with “the world” (which, at best is maybe four of the ten subscribers I have on this here blog) can sometimes be an absolutely terrifying notion for me.
When I finally realized the error of my photographic stinginess, I began taking as many pictures as I possibly could. I put my pride on hold, my desire to avoid looking like a tourist (as if the blue eyes and white skin wasn’t enough of a give away), and snapped pictures of anything and everything around me as I encountered it. Some of these images ended up being among my very favorites from the entire trip, probably because they captured an innocence and candidness that simply cannot be manufactured or premeditated.
For me, this struggle doesn’t end or even begin with writing. Personally, I am attempting to learn the extent to which we are actually called to live and, more often than not, that “way” makes little logical sense to me. It’s peculiar, uncomfortable, and leaves me with some snapshots that probably wouldn’t make it into my family photo album or slide show.
To be honest, it’s frustratingly easy to speak of such ideals from the safety of a blog screen or a journal. It’s even easy to speak of it over a cup of coffee or behind a microphone. It’s easy to truly and deeply believe these ideals with every ounce of my being, but to live it out is a different story entirely. This fact makes me wonder how deeply I ever truly believed it in the first place.
In The Divine Conspiracy, Dallas Willard says: “‘Jesus is Lord’ can mean little in practice for anyone who has to hesitate before saying ‘Jesus is smart’”. I’m realizing that it is not nearly enough to simply believe in the beauty of the blurry, messy, and unplanned moments of our lives. I cannot simply recognize the importance of struggle for the cause of love and justice, and obedience to the morals and codes of our faiths. There is physicality to those claims. There is a safety net to loose, and a journey to begin.
Taylor Mali once said “It’s not enough to simply question authority, you have to speak with it too”, but I would it one step further. We must also live with that authority. The authority that not only believes that the foolishness of love will overcome, but that it already has. The type of conduct that dispels the myths of redemptive violence, and lives as if the way Jesus spoke of was actually possible.
I often wonder if my inaction is to call the way of the cross unrealistic.
I invited someone this week to join me in a daily blog challenge, inspired by a previous challenge modeled by Mr. Dan Lugo. Simply put, the challenge is to write something new on our respective blogs every day. Whether it’s simply a sentence or two or a lengthy narrative, the charge is to consistently push ourselves toward creative expression, regardless of the presentability we feel each post may or may not have.
So this is day one, a small step towards opposing inactivity by ways of intentional creativity, deliberated vulnerability, and actively grabbing a hold of the beautiful chaos that surrounds us.