Thursday, January 30, 2014

I Want To Be Like Gollum

You know that shot of Gollum at the end of The Return of the King where he reaches for the Ring as he falls, slowly, eternally into the fires of Mount Doom? Even with his dying breath, it is what he desires more than life itself. The Ring encapsulates his heart's desire, and even death cannot distract him.

So here it is, thirty days into January, the Endless Month. The Month of Cold. The Month of Dark. The Month That Will Never End. Ever. February, like the Ring, stays just out of my reach. I reach for it, struggle for it, hope for it, watch it dance just beyond my fingertips for so long, and yet.

I have never been diagnosed with any specific depression disorders, but I do know that as January repeats itself every day for eternity, I lose hope of ever seeing spring again, of ever feeling warm again. Obviously, the calendar tells me a different story, but I'm talking about the feelings that accompany the long, dark days.

You know what? Amazingly, February always comes. And then March. And then April. That's just how it works.

I was thinking today about the Israelites, years ago, waiting for so long for their Messiah, getting heartsick as years and decades and centuries passed. And now today, as we wait for His second coming. Do seeds of doubt ever blossom in our mind? Does it ever feel like year after year after century passes, and still, and still, and still? 

But what kind of Christian doubts? Honestly? *sheepishly raises hand* 

I admit to flashes of uncertainty. What if? What if it's all just a big cosmic joke? What if I've placed my trust and my hope in a grand illusion? I doubt very much I'd win any awards in heaven for my implicit trust. Because I've certainly tarnished my crown with a few too many seeds of doubt.

But one thing always calls me back. No matter how dark the days, no matter how massive the cloud of doubt that hovers over my head, the concept of God's faithfulness won't let me lose hope entirely. Even when I lose sight of Him, He never loses sight of me. When I question His very existence, He stands patiently by and coaches me through it. When I just can't see the next step ahead, He picks me up and carries me through the murk of gloom and doom.

I love that old hymn, Great Is Thy Faithfulness, oh God, my Father. Morning by morning, new mercies I see.

If I only know where to look.

I want to be like Gollum. Not really the words you'd typically expect to hear; most people who have read the books or seen the movie would shudder to say those words in that order. But seriously, I do. I want to have such implicit longing, such undeterred devotion to the One Person that really matters, that even in the throes of doubt, despair or death, I still strain to reach the object of my heart's desire.

Monday, January 20, 2014

You Really Want to be a Writer? (Re-blog from Harry Kraus)

First, I haven't blogged for awhile. I've been so caught up in vomiting story material into my first draft of my current work in progress, that I haven't given myself pause for at least three weeks.

Second, if I was going to blog, it would be about this, because this hits home. So, so much.

Third, since my friend and fellow author wrote it first and put it much more eloquently than I could, I will post his link here, and tell all of you, especially you fellow writers, to go read it. Do it. It's really good.

Harry Kraus: 3 Men Walk Into A Blog

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Stage Manager

I'm an alto. I'm probably a second alto. My voice breaks when it moves from an A above middle C to a B above middle C. After that, it's all in my head voice. For you non-musical folks who are reading this, that means that my singing range is only a little higher than someone like James Earl Jones (Darth Vader from Star Wars) or Benedict Cumberbatch (Smaug from the recent Hobbit, Desolation).

I grew up in a perpetual state of mild jealousy of the sopranos around me. I wanted to be a leading soprano. Why? Because leading sopranos could get actual speaking parts in school musicals. Since school musicals obviously are such an important aspect of the average middle and high schooler's life, I let myself get depressed every time I was passed over by much higher-ranged voices for the parts I wanted.

I remember the first time I really tried to listen to an alto line. I was singing Trust and Obey with my mother in church, and since she is a second alto, I honed in on the line she was singing. It was one note through most of the song. I leaned over and whispered, "Alto's really boring, isn't it?" She leaned back and said, "No, it's what makes the soprano pretty."

Today, I was thinking about personalities. I've heard it said that almost all personalities will fit one of the characters in Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne. Some people are energetic, vivacious, exciting, go-get-'em. Kind of like Tigger. They live their lives in a crazy circle of activity and social whirl. 

There are the wet blankets. The Eeyores. They have a perpetual half empty glass sitting on their desk, and more often than not, find themselves comfortable in their gloominess.

Kangas are the caretakers. Piglets are the shy ones shrinking behind their curtains, afraid that anyone will notice them. The Owls of the world are erudite, studious, oozing gray matter like there's no tomorrow. Rabbits remind me of a shrew, nitpicking the thread of life until it comes unwoven and picked apart.

And the Poohs bumble their way through life, not really making much fuss and bother, not really letting themselves get upset by anything. They take life as it comes, ebbing and flowing with the tides around them.

It takes all kind of people to make a world. If we had only the sopranos, wouldn't the music we make as we go through life be kind of flat? One-dimensional? Even a little boring? If we add an alto note or two, or a tenor, or a bass, or all of the above, voila, suddenly we have depth, beauty, mystery, undertones.

I see some of Tigger in me, and some of Piglet, and some of Pooh, and a little of Kanga. Owl, well, no. Eeyore, only if I haven't had any chocolate for a week.

Over time, I've come to appreciate the depth that makes life interesting. I will always admire the leaders: the Type A's that take charge and get things done. I'll always admire the lead singers in the musicals who can belt out Climb Every Mountain or Angel of Music without much seeming effort. 

But there will always be someone in the back behind that curtain that makes sure the actor is on stage at the proper time with the necessary props and the make-up in place and the lights on and the music cued up.

What would life be like if there were no stage managers among us?