Saturday, November 28, 2009


It's dark outside
and in -
I'm out of words.
The most ironic, bizarre, unexpected thing
that could possibly happen to
Words, the factor that has
(until this moment)
seemed the sum total of value in my life,
have in fact expired.
I love them still of course.
Words like bother, annunciate, superlative, clash.
I love the sound they make
in my head
on the page
and when I speak them aloud.
Words that settle inside me like a sigh
like the soft sensation of relief
that comes with crisp bed sheets.
They make the muscles in my chest relax
when I hear them
speak them
mouth them
imagine them.
But I am out of words.
I'm out of narratives.
I am no longer so intrigued by the pattern of my own thoughts
that I long to write them all down
before they can disappear behind me.
And I'm not sure how to tell people.
Should I announce it at a public event? On a website?
Or perhaps keep to myself for as long as possible
that this hobby I have talked endlessly about for the last decade
has worn itself out.
I have no more words to say
narratives to create
people to listen.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

True Beauty

"If you feel your value lies in being merely decorative, I fear you might someday find yourselves believing that's all you really are. But time erodes all such beauty. What it cannot diminish are the wonderful workings of your mind - your humour, your kindness, and your moral courage. These are the things I cherish so in you.
"I so wish I could give [you] a more just world. But I know you'll make it a better place."
Little Women

Yesterday I got told by a colleague (and friend) that I am not a beauty - quite the reverse. I could "use some work" she said. Exactly what she meant she didn't elucidate, (perhaps plastic surgery). But the point is this. After my initial hurt and sadness faded, I started wondering about our modern definitions of beauty. This is a topic certainly not lacking in commentators, I know. Hollywood's depiction of the 'average' woman leaves much to be desired - something bemoaned by mothers, teachers, and feminists alike. And truthfully, by anyone with half a brain.
But I suppose I mean that I became thoughtful about my own, personal, definition of beauty. Affected as I am by media and common opinion, I do wish that I could look just a little more like Charlize Theron, Jessica Alba or Audrey Hepburn. Which may be why my colleague's comment upset me. It IS important to me to be found attractive, and I've tricked myself into thinking that I look okay - not all the time, but a fair portion of the time. And occasionally, that I might even look a little bit beautiful.
I'm not really that deluded about myself. I know the flaws - the slight doubling of my chin, the red patchy quality of my skin, the wideness of my thighs. But I hope that I have learnt effective ways of concealing these so that eyes are drawn more to my soft lips, expensive haircut, polished (albeit chipping) nails, slim wrists.
How is it that I've come to this - daily critiquing my appearance in front of the mirror hoping the world will not shun me for that which they do not see.
What did they do in the days before mirrors? Before expensive hairdressers, makeup, nail polish, prints? How was their beauty judged when women had no equipment with which to adorn themselves?
What if I was forced to endure such suffering - how would I cope?
As is always the case when something I think I need is taken away from me - I would at first rebel. I would rant and rave. But after a day or two, maybe a week, I think I would feel relief so fierce it would be like remembering how to breathe again.
And then, perhaps, I would remember the true measure of beauty. Not the appearance of perfection. But selfless thoughtfulness, generosity, love. Moral courage.
And maybe, just maybe, if I pursued these things in my own life, I could make the world a better place.

Monday, November 2, 2009


Lately, I've been trying to find time to be silent. And I don't mean just no speaking. I mean no speaking, hearing, listening, technological stimuli, nothing. Silence. And believe it or not, it is really hard. To someone who has a life filled constantly with people and entertainment, silence is dull. But more than that, it scares me.
Silence is as unforgiving as nakedness. Nothing concealed. When I exist in silence, I cannot withold information from myself the way I wish to.
I argue with myself in the silence. Constant, interminable, exhausting arguments about things that do not make me proud. About ways, for example, to show off my skills in order to obtain the admiration of those around me. And then I argue with myself about how I should not be concerned with self-gratifying goals but with actually helping people.
It makes me wish. And whoever thought I would come to this. But it makes me wish I wasn't good with words, good at speaking, or at least that I didn't THINK myself to be good at these things.
How do I separate them from myself? I am so exhausted with the onslaught of guilt that comes from my prideful moments, wishing that I could help other people instead of myself - painfully aware that every time I aim to bolster myself, I probably fail to help a person who needs it. And then the moment passes and it's too late.
Paul said 'when I am weak, then I am strong', because he knew that God used him most in his moments of weakness. But it feels as though the opposite is true of me - when I am strong, then I am weak. Because I focus so intently on my own strengths that God is unable to use me.
I stray from the central subject. Isaiah 30.15 says :
In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength,
but you would have none of it.
Maybe silence is something that becomes easier with time. Like exercise does (or so I've heard). If I persevere, perhaps I will be made stronger for recognising the depth of my own weaknesses.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

New Beginnings

As a sequel to my last blog, Writing Space, I thought it appropriate to stick with the theme. Because I like the idea that this blog is where I come to have space. Space to think and write and consider how I feel about God and life. It's my personal digital equivalent to an empty beach.
And it's a new beginning. Because these days I don't often make time for my thoughts to engulf me. I'm more likely to switch the thinking part of my brain off, and the tv on. Because being thoughtful makes life complex and difficult, rather than easy. I feel the struggles more, I distinguish shades of gray all over, I challenge myself. And to be faced with these difficult, confronting thoughts is not often a pleasant experience.
But there's no escaping the fact that I am a thoughtful person. As good as I am at avoidance (that is, very good indeed), my thoughts always catch up with me. And if I don't make time for them, they do it when it is most incovenient (for example, 3 am). So I'm re-opening the space for my thoughts to sit with me. A new beginning.
I love new beginnings. Crisp sheets of white paper, newly sharpened pencils, unread books. They hold the promise of possibilities yet unrealised. They thrill me because I don't know what I'm going to uncover, what opportunities may arise.
I love also, the sense of letting go of the past. Of the crumpled and blotchy sheets of paper, of half read books, of missed opportunities. I love feeling empowered to let go of all past mistakes, to no longer define myself by the cringe-memories, the time wasted, the self-indulgences. I so value the opportunity a new beginning provides to set the resolution to be unhampered by the self-perceptions that have arisen from all those failures.
It's exciting, I think. Like beginning a new (fabulous) job, or starting a new book by a favourite author. Who knows what I may uncover in the space that I have given myself?