Just You

honest

messy

raw

the intricacies of who you are

and who you want to be

the things you try to hide

are the things that draw me in

i will take you as you are, my friend

cracked

sloppy

bruised

there is beauty in each un-intentioned bend

Advertisements

The Art of Togetherness

Recently, I drove to Atlanta for the wedding of one of my dearest friends. We met in college, and had an almost immediate, unshakeable bond. Have you ever had that happen to you? You meet someone and feel as though something in them has always been a partof your life? Those are the friendships that matter most to me. Deep rooted, honest, sincere. Have you ever thought about how rare they are? And how inexplicably important it is to have those people in your life? The past few years have been such a huge learning experience for me, and if there is one lesson that stands out above the rest it is the importance of a solid community. While sitting at Chipotle a few months ago, I happened to read this short essay by Barbara Kingsolver on my cup* about community. It mattered to me on a very deep level. This is what she said:

TWO-MINUTE CHEER FOR THE HOME TEAM
by BARBARA KINGSOLVER

The ancient human social construct that once was common in this land was called community. We lived among our villagers, depending on them for what we needed. If we had a problem, we did not discuss it over the phone with someone in Mumbai. We went to a neighbor. We acquired food from farmers. We listened to music in groups, in churches or on front porches. We danced. We participated. Even when there was no money in it. Community is our native state. You play hardest for a hometown crowd. You become your best self. You know joy. This is not a guess, there is evidence. The scholars who study social well-being can put it on charts and graphs.

The happiest people are the ones with the most community.

In the last 30 years our material wealth has increased in this country, but our self-described happiness has steadily declined. Elsewhere, the people who consider themselves very happy are not in the very poorest nations, as you might guess, nor in the very richest. The winners are Mexico, Ireland, Puerto Rico, the kinds of places we identify with extended family, noisy villages, a lot of dancing. The happiest people are the ones with the most community.

—-

The problem I have encountered over the past few years, however, is that there are people who view the occasional smile, chat, or text as all that is necessary to form said communities. Affection rarely dips beneath that surface-level. Why do we do this? Is it perhaps a product–as many would say–of the digital age? We can easily hide and connect behind a computer screen, but throw us face to face with another human being and we lack the ability to truly connect? Is that it? I know that many would say this–particularly those apt to blame my generation for whining and refusing to take ownership for our actions. And it can be said that, yes for some that might be the case. I don’t have an answer. What I can say, however, is that some of the friends that I connected with at the wedding were people that I have not physically seen in years. We have neither text messaged nor facebooked and yet the moment we were near one another we fell immediately into the paces of yesteryear. Truly enjoying the presence of the other. As I drove home that Sunday afternoon my heart was light, but the closer I drew to the town I’d called home for the past few years I felt an ever growing sadness. A bit like Eeyore’s rain cloud, really. This feeling was something I had only fleetingly witnessed here. I was a part of what many would call a community, but it was never that for me. To me it was a place where one went through the motions, but never actually felt anything. These friends I’d left behind me were people who saw my heart in every circumstance. They allowed me to be wholly myself–never judged and fully loved. They may be were scattered like the wind, but can I tell you how immediately the flew together when a friend of ours tragically died in the fall? I was amazed. I am still amazed. Driving away from them left me with a pang of emptiness that will not be re-filled until we are together again. They are my family. My community. My home. I am not trying to down play the many wonderful people that I have met in the past few years. I have found a few incredible friends that I know will be a part of my heart always. I think what I am trying to say here is that if you are reading this and you cannot relate–if you cannot understand what it feels like to find your heart in a solid group of individuals, please seek them out? Find your own community. You’ll know it when you meet it–and do not let them go. Write them letters. Send them cards. Call them when you can. Your community, like mine, might be scattered like the wind, but it is ever a part of you and it matters so very much. Being around people who know, love, and care for you is part of what makes life so beautiful.

If you haven’t found it already, I am here hoping that you find it soon.

Look Closely: The Art of Silence

“Silence is sometimes the best answer.” -Dalai Lama XIV

The world is loud.

We run around proclaiming this or that–desperate to be heard.

We want our voices to matter-and they do, but we are missing something terribly important. There is a time for us to be loud–to proclaim passionately what we believe. A time to stand up against what is wrong, to declare what is beautiful. A time to offer words of love, of support, of encouragement, but twice as often as we speak we should be silent. We should listen. How can we ever understand if we never pause to listen? How can we ever see if we never take a moment to observe? How will we ever learn if we do not take the time to silently be taught? In a time filled with the loud voices–of facebook posts, tweets, and youtube channels, I wonder how much we actually hear? Are we simply waiting for our turn to speak or are we listening, truly listening to all that is happening around us.

I want to learn the art of silence. To be a listening ear rather than a condemning mouth and to speak only when it is truly necessary. Do you ever notice how easy it is for people to yell behind a mask? We will spout founts of “knowledge” hidden behind anonymous tags and clever guises, but the moment we are asked to shed the mask and speak face to face with another human being we crumble. We are silent out of fear, but are we really listening? How often are we left speechless by the beauty in the world and the absolute sorrow as well? What do we say to the people in war torn countries grieving the loss of loved ones or the people of Nepal completely devastated by a horrific earthquake?  

Our words are not enough.

All we can do is sit in stunned appreciation of the beauty of nature or sit in broken silence with those who are grieving and whose hearts are shattered and broken. I hope that in time I can move beyond this desire to always have a voice. I hope that as I grow I will be passionate and loud about the things that matter: kindness, chivalry, love and in the darker places of my heart I will learn to be silent and seek understanding before speaking because there is so much to be heard in the silence of one’s heart

Sometimes silence is the best answer.

Sometimes words just are not enough.

Stay?

I fear the loneliness
seeping deeply into my heart
I want to run from it
it follows every time
I cry out
To silence
My eyes beg you not to go
my pleas fall on deaf ears
They always leave

I hope against hope
For the one who will stay.

There

a heavy mind
Balancing precariously between the truth
And the lies I feed myself

Forgotten, but not alone
Rejected, but not unworthy
labels with a rounded edge
Words.
Piercing my heart
Flooding my mind
Inflicting me with false hope
————
I think I’ll leave you there
In that moment before the clock strikes 12
I’ll leave you there in the fading dark as the world begins anew.

This life is just too beautiful to hold on
To something that won’t hold onto you

Choice

Why do we shy from brokenness?
Why do we cover our tears?
Why do we cower from darkness?
An amalgam of all of our fears.
Why do we laugh and pretend
that all as is as it is not?
Why do we feign being found
When inside we know we are lost?
Why do we feel it is easiest
to pretend that we are whole and fine
True strength is best shown in the crackings
of our own faulty designs.

Reader

Read me like your favorite book
Turn me gently in your hands
Study my every line
Laugh
Scream
Cry
But do not skip ahead
Love me in this moment
take me as I am
Do not create the ending
Before you’ve read every
deliberate word of my being
Read me like your favorite book
But remember this story is still mine.

Return?

stomach lurching
heart yearning
eyes heavy with unfallen tears
she awoke feeling sinkingly alone

when the other girls leave
they say
I will always return

return?
always?

is that all she would ever be?
a place holder
a constant bookmark?
she thought this story was hers
is she even in the book?

haunting
hurting
this morning she awoke
and for a moment the whole world felt
oppressively alone