Saturday, December 26, 2009


In contrast to the wonderful time I've had with friends and family over break so far, I started thinking about anticipation (we did not used to be friends). For a while I've wanted to get some of these thoughts down as a manner of coming to terms with myself and closing a chapter of my life.

What comes to my mind most when I think about anticipation is all of the negative experiences I had as a child. My most vivid memory of anticipation was for a trip I took with the "Travel" class in sixth grade. It was an exploratory course that looked into how and why we traveled. The most enjoyable part of the class was to be a trip we would take at the end. It was very short and simple because of the non-existent budget the class had: a train ride on the Amtrak from Grand Rapids to Holland. Perhaps one of the safest ways to travel. However the night beforehand was one of the worst nights of my life. I was up for most of it, my insides churning and my mind despairing of any of the painful deaths to which I could imagine myself succumbing (thinking about it now though, there are really only two, derailing and collision, both extremely unlikely, oh well). For me, as a child, the new and unknown were the worst thing I could be put through. They were to be feared (think swimming lessons) and shunned because they represented uncertainty. It was hard to grapple with the notion that not everything I would experience was something I had done before or could handle with ease. This is a very constricting way to live, which is probably why I spent my time reading about people who did the things I was afraid to do. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed my childhood, and the time I spent going to other galaxies and doing crazy things through reading, but it was really more of a defense mechanism than anything else.

What caused me to consider all of this is my upcoming trip to China. Having never flown before, I immediately considered thoughts of being lost in any number of places and having everything stolen. Reverting to the instinctual fear. But the funny thing about new things is that because you don't know everything beforehand, there is incredible opportunity. That is the flip side of the coin I have never seen. Considering that, I rethought it a bit: I'm fortunate enough to have the opportunity to fly halfway around the world to visit a country I've only heard of, to see things I've only seen in pictures and to experience a culture like I never have before. I may never have a chance to do his again. Wow, that's kind of entirely different. Could I get lost, dismembered, fed to pigs and forgotten in doing so? Perhaps, but at very least it will be a new experience and I'll probably be surprised enough that having my body rent asunder won't bother me much.

But seriously, I think it's time to embrace the new. Look the unknown in the face, wish it a good day and inquire when tea will be served. We'll see how this goes. (Even more seriously, if you hear about any mass dismembering in China, please let me know.)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

True-ish to form

It seems like after each semester is done, I will inevitably dream about failing at least one of my classes. Let's be clear, that didn't happen this year. I'll keep this short in the interest of not boring you.

I was driving with Joel O. in a desert. He was using the wheel, I was working the pedals and we were both sitting in the drivers seat, which is impossible considering that neither of us is the least bit small. I ran a stop-sign for some reason and became angry at Joel when I got the ticket, even though there was nothing he could have possibly done about it.

Considering the amount of dreams we have, compared to the amount of dreams we actually remember, I think I'm getting jipped here. The next time I dream, I demand to recall cross-country skiing with polar bears through the streets of Hudsonville while pulling tricks in the air from jumping off of houses. The polar bears will be equipped with lasers and be playing acoustic guitars real mellow-like (I'm thinking Valley Winter Song by Fountains of Wayne). None of this getting a ticket or failing of classes nonsense.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

More than your last retreat

Here is a recipe that will lead to success every time:

Get a cup of coffee + hot chocolate,

wear a warm hoody,

listen to "More Than a Memory" or "Rocking Chair" by P.W. Gopal,

look at a picture of the Straits of Mackinac covered in ice,

imagine you are kayaking beneath the bridge in the summertime.

(a liberal portion of sappiness should also be applied)

That is apologies or excuses.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Feeling Blessed

I thank God that I can live with great friends.

That I can use the intellect that I have been given, no matter how modest.

That my housing situation has been solved and that the worry of having to move has been taken care of (by a move, which went smoothly).

That I can be happily single, and recognize that what happens will happen.

That I have the opportunities to travel abroad extensively in the near future.

That I can worship without fear.

That I can listen to wonderful music.

That I can be transparent and not worry about being judged.

I've been listening to P.W. Gopal, the man who was the music leader at Castaway a few summers back when I was privileged to go there with some awesome guys. These are his lyrics:

You were sent to remind me of faithful things
That there are mountains beneath the sea that I'll never see
That were put in place with gentle hands
Knowing you and I will climb - we'll climb and stand
And let all His grace, let all His grace remind me
--Remind Me

Also, based on the size of his arms, I'm guessing he can lift and perhaps toss about many, many heavy things.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Cold falls

It sprinkles down in little pieces,
resting on my head and shoulders, a blanket.
Nestled in the crevices it fills the folds,
and spills over, falling away in patches.

Dampness begins almost immediately,
where my flesh is left to the air;
tiny crystals melting into a trickle,
a river of molten ice running down my back.

How exhilarating to feel life coursing so,
to feel alive and free and real and right.
The directions to this happy place are simple:
embrace the earth and make your angels of snow.