Wednesday, February 20, 2013

On Who You Really Are

{I wrote this a few weeks ago. It seems important that I put it here now.}

Lately I’ve been feeling the toss and panic that happens every now and again when I realize I’m staring right into a huge nothing. It’s the same feeling I get when I fear losing something I love, when I can’t let go of something I ought to, when I won’t bury the hatchet.

But there have been times of peace, times when, in the middle of the waves of uncertainty and potentially cosmic loss, I’ve felt quiet and secure. How is that possible? How can you summon up that pacific calm when I have so many things to worry about, so many failures looming, so much heartbreak just WAITING to take a piece out of me.

But I've learned this lesson before: Peace comes from remembering: who I am, what I was built for, what I have yet to do in this little life before all is said and done.

I have been around much longer than this moment, much longer than I remember. What great things have I done before? And what will I yet do?

I focus on things that bring me deep joy--moments when I have created something larger than myself. For some people, that might be studying a language, or designing a robot, or learning how to wakeboard, or writing a novel, or becoming the world’s leading expert on jazz music or digital photography or “This American Life.” For me, maybe it's playing the guitar in the evening, or typing poems on a typewriter, or painting places I hope to someday go and listening to music I hope to someday play. These are not frivolous endeavors.

What I'm saying is this: sometimes you have to fly in the face of your current job, your current living situation, your current dating life and remember who you really are, what you were really built for, what tenacities of spirit you have native to you. Don’t believe what your circumstances would have you believe about yourself. You are bigger than those things. You are longer-lasting than those things. You are eternal.

You weren’t meant to pray heartless prayers and you weren’t meant to dream colorless visions. Who you are is a place in your heart you’ve built from years of seeing goodness unfolding inside of you, of developing your mind and your heart and your willpower, and in moments of fear, believing that all those will be enough to win the day.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

IS IT LOVE? // part three

And the final quiz...

(part three)

Now that you are engaged to such an amiable character, it is important to continue to weigh your decision to eternally tie yourself to this person.  If the need should arise to break off the engagement, it would be more kind and just to your lover and to yourself to do so now and suffer a small period of embarrassment and heartbreak than to forfeit an infinite happiness.

Mentally note all statements that are true of yourself.

As the marriage date draws near, I feel…
  • An increase of sadness.
  • An indefinite apprehension that the pleasures of life are at an end.
  • A determination (requiring often renewal) to do my duty to my fiancĂ© in going through with your promise to marry him.
  • That my fiancĂ© distances him/herself from me, such that I cannot open my whole heart to him/her, and visa versa.
  • That if there were some other woman/man as amiable or more than I, with whom he/she could be equally happy, I would feel pleasure in him/her cultivating acquaintance with that person rather than with me.
If you noted affirmative beside any of the above statements, it really is best to terminate the engagement now, rather than bind yourself to misery for eternity.

If you are one of those fortunate enough to be bound to a man/woman of such superior character, and to feel such natural and pure inclinations towards him of love, and to be betrothed to such, you may be assured that your home will become one of the brightest spots in the world.

And there you have it folks! Marriage according to the Victorians! Now go out and find yourself some love.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

IS IT LOVE? // part two

Continuing from where we left off yesterday...

(part two)

Make a mental note of the statements that are true of your feelings.
  • Are you in love with the ideal of your beloved, rather than with the actual man or woman before you, with all of his or her imperfections?
  • Are you more amiable towards him/her now than you expect to be as his/her spouse?
  • Is there any other man or woman in the world of whom it would give you pain to hear was to be married?
  • Do you weary of your beloved’s presence and feel relieved when he/she goes away?
  • Do his/her faults annoy and irritate you more than others’ faults do?
  • Do you exercise more charity towards others than you do towards him/her?
  • Do you ever feel ashamed of him/her, especially when you see him/her with your friends of high esteem?
  • In this great change of becoming married, are you seeking an escape from duty to enjoyment?  Restraint to indulgence?  Wholesome discipline to perfect ease?
  • Are you younger than age 22?  (22-24 is the ideal time to marry, according to the Victorians)
  • Are you uneducated in economics?
  • Are you weak and dependent spiritually?
  • Do you harbor secret feelings or wishes in an attempt to be agreeable?
  • Do you expect to always be flattered, indulged, or admired?

If you checked affirmative beside any of the above statements regarding yourself, it is suggested that while there is yet time, you eschew your beloved's acquaintance, and allow it gently to drop.  It is best not to pursue a course of marriage.

If you are one of those fortunate enough to have found yourself in a situation of such pure love (in which none of the above are true of you),  you may feel assured in betrothing yourself to your beloved, should the occasion present itself. Return tomorrow for the third and final installment...


Saturday, February 9, 2013

IS IT LOVE? // part one

While studying for my thesis defense today, I came across a project I did for a Victorian Lit class a few years back, in which I read through marriage manuals from the 1800s. If you're ever in the library and want some titillating reading, Victorian era marriage books is where it's at. And by "it" I mean the true gems of our Western literary tradition. For this particular project, I'd compiled the love advice from the manuals--what to look for in a companion, how to know if it's "real love," when to confess your know, the things that only every person who's ever lived wants to know. Seeing as it isss the month of love and all that, I figured this might be just the kind of thing the world is in dire need of. So, in three parts, I present:

(part one)

Make a mental note of the statements that are true of your beloved.

My beloved...
  • occasionally speaks slightingly of the opposite sex
  • is ill-prepared to honour the virtues of the opposite sex and defend its weaknesses
  • comes to visit at irregular hours
  • exhibits a vague or wandering attention
  • gives proofs of a want of punctuality
  • shows disrespect for age
  • sneers at things sacred
  • absents him/herself from regular attendance at divine service
  • evinces an inclination to expensive pleasures beyond his/her means
  • evinces an inclination to low and vulgar amusements
  • is foppish
  • is eccentric
  • is very slovenly in dress
  • displays a frivolity of mind
  • exhibits an absence of well-directed energy in his/her worldly pursuits
  • exhibits symptoms of insanity and nervous derangement, often sinking under the morbidity of imaginary burdens
  • exhibits frailty of health, such that his/her ability to support/nurture a family may be incapacitated.
If you noted "affirmative" to any of the above statements regarding your beloved, it is best that you let dissolve any intimations of affection that you had begun to nurture within yourself.

If you are one of those fortunate enough to have found a beloved who is not in the least described by any of the above inquiries, return tomorrow for part two...