Posted in Writing

The Coffee Shop

Soft jazz unwinds overhead in meandering strides, evoking images of the final hours of a wedding reception—discarded bouffant cake on plates and final drunken revelers stumbling about a hotel ballroom. But this is not that place.

It is instead a brightly lit coffee shop with sober patrons about their business. A college boy in basketball shorts, a t-shirt and sandals, lightly perches at a table with printed handouts and unopened textbooks. He highlights judiciously, with his car keys a mere inch from his fingers.

Next to him, a businesswoman does the same. highlighting her own pages, with much more care and and discretion. Her manicured fingers pop in an out of a coach briefcase where her notes are all neatly arranged in folders and files, and a clunky sterling bracelet jungles with every movement.

Behind the counter, the baristas bustle, talking on headsets, clanging ice, and a blender whirrs, and then a shaker.  Then someone tells a joke, and the comic relief lasts for but a second, before they are moving again…forever to make a buck.

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted in Life

What is Standing in Your Way Right Now?

I’ve been decorating my new apartment over the last two weeks. I think it’s been the outlet for my all of my extra creative energy, as of late, because I haven’t been able to find any writing inspiration after the day’s work has had its way with me.

I’ve found that the going trend in home fashion are these inspiration wall hangings. They say, things like, “Happiness is a journey, not a destination” or “Dream,” or “Inspire,” or the cliché “Keep calm and carry on.” (I HATE that phrase. It has no wit, depth, cleverness to it. Where did it come from, and why do we keep dignifying it?!).

I think these are nice things to put in your living room, and set the tone for your family life. I would think a home full of these things would be beautiful and positive. But, I ran across a magnet, a simple question, that has rocked my world this weekend. It said simply, “What is standing in your way right now?” I didn’t buy the magnet, but I should have. I loved the way it was worded, with “right now,” adding immediacy. I thought and thought about this question.

What is standing in my way at this moment? What is keeping me from being who I am supposed to be? Now, if I said “nothing,” that would be dishonest, because if nothing were standing in my way, I’d be a fully fulfilled completely perfect person that has done everything God created me to do, and have no room for growth. And, if that were the case, why would God still have me on the earth? It would seem if there is nowhere for me to grow, and expand, then I would no longer be a fallible human, subject to my sin nature and confined to pull of a fallen world. I would, in fact, be ready to graduate from the earth. But, the very fact that I am still here, shows that God is not done with me yet. That’s good, because I’m still a pretty screwed up human desperately in need of God’s grace.

So, having called my own bluff at my “nothing,” answer, I thought some more. I thought about who I know I am supposed to be, and who I am, and the gap between. What is in that “space between?” (Yes, I heard Dave Matthews in my head too).

I think my biggest obstacle is that I procrastinate. I can be a ridiculously productive person, when I get to it, but under pressure, I will do anything but what I am supposed to do. If I’m a deadline, I will feel this queasy feeling in my stomach. Then, I will clean the house. Use the bathroom. Make a snack. Shop on Amazon. Give myself permission to take 5 minute break. Turn on music supposedly to get me going. Realize it’s distracting and turn it off…the list goes on and on. Then, about 45 minutes before deadline, I break into a cold sweat and type like a crazy person, and then produce a fairly decent piece.

I’ve been thinking about procrastination. At the root of procrastination, I’ve realized it’s fear. Fear of failure. I worry that if I take on a monumental task, I will get overwhelmed and fail at it. So, I procrastinate until I have no choice. But, if I were to not procrastinate, I’d be ridiculously more productive and way more successful.

So, it would seem what’s standing in my way right now, is fear. I’m so scared of not being successful, that I don’t properly give myself the chance to be successful. That’s crazy.

A life without fear. Scientology is a crazy bunch of crap, but that’s part of their teaching—living a life completely devoid of fear. I would love to be that. Devoid of fear. Sort of that like that Fearless Girl statue on Wall Street.

It’s time to obliterate the fear. What is standing in your way right now?

 

Posted in Life

Where is this going this time?

I moved last weekend. I signed a fifteen-month lease on a beautiful new apartment. It’s in the center of town, literally walking distance from…well, everything. Including, being directly across the street from Starbucks. That in itself should be enough. I mean, what else could a writer possibly want? There’s also a Target next door, located about fifty feet outside the complex’s main entrance. In the last week, I have spent way too much money there.

The apartment is gorgeous. All white and beige inside, with pristine carpet, and sparkling appliances, new cabinetry and countertops, track-lighting in the kitchen and dining areas, and a French door leading to a third floor patio with a poolside view. There’s even a built-in desk, complete with shelving—an instant home office neatly niched into an out-of-the-way cranny. Could this be more perfect for a writer?

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If that’s not enough, the complex has a 24 hour fitness center. I have become a regular there, hitting the treadmill twice a day. I have spent the last week, wandering around in shock that this is my home. And, then my next question is…now what?

There’s no furniture in our living room. My roommate and I have to buy couches. But among the things we have to buy for the apartment, couches are near the bottom of the list. So, we just don’t use our living room. It’s still as empty as the moment we moved in. I somehow feel like that’s a metaphor for my life right now. Big, beautiful, possibilities, yet unfulfilled.

My question these last few days, has been…now what? Where is all this going? I’m in something of a new town. My writing is enough to pay the bills, but, it needs new life, fresh energy. So, here I am in the big, beautiful place, and now what?  That’s what I have been asking God. It’s like that Scripture about “enlarging your tent.” My tent has definitely been enlarged. But, comparatively, it’s empty. I don’t even know how to fill it.

I don’t know where this is going. I don’t know what’s going to happen with me over the next year. It’s an odd feeling. What is this all about?

There’s a feeling of elation, freefalling into the next season of my life. I don’t know what’s about to happen, I’m just hanging on for the ride. Then there’s something of a feeling of fear…will I be enough? Can I handle this next part? Will I recognize the steps I need to take? Or will I fizzle? And then in another way, there’s a feeling of gratefulness. I can’t believe I have this place, and I can’t believe that I’m in a place where my writing can pay for it. Then, there’s a feeling of anxiety, dread. It’s as if any moment, the proverbial “other shoe” is going to drop.

Where is this going? And the answer God keeps reminding me is…Trust.

Posted in Life

Apologies

Why is receiving an apology so satisfying, so diffusing, so necessary?

It’s like an admission that we are human, and fallible, and we screw up sometimes. How can we fault a person that genuinely admits that? After all, we know that we screw up sometimes ourselves. We know, more than anyone, how fallible and human we are. So putting out “screw up karma” is in our best interests at some level.

There’s something that identifies with the shame, the smallness, and the indignity that a person must take on to apologize. That’s why it’s so hard to do. But, when we have been wronged, somehow we are not satisfied until we can ascertain that the other person feels that shame. It’s a bit twisted when you think about it that way—but since the Gospel centers around forgiveness, I guess any fault I may find with it has to do with my own understanding. To err is human, to forgive divine.

But, when no apology is offered for a wrong, it eats at you like a worm inside. The hurt. The anger. The sense of injustice. It gnaws at you, getting bigger and bigger. And then, you have to do one of the hardest things—forgive anyway. Forgiveness with no apology is an inner healing thing—at least when it goes that deep. They say people forgive their rapists, or their abusive parents, or kidnappers this way.

I’ve never had any of those things, so in comparison the one-sided forgiveness I’ve had to give is very small. They say it’s for you. So, that it doesn’t eat at you anymore. So that you don’t become a bitter, dried up rotting fruit inside, with maggots swarming about your soul. I don’t want to be a dried up, rotting fruit. But, I don’t understand forgiving with no apology. It’s like saying, “It’s okay that you treated me this way.” But it’s not. Maybe I don’t know the difference between forgiving and forgetting. Can you truly forgive and hold on to the wisdom gained by the offense?

What’s brought this up, is a very small example, but it’s had me pretty upset today. All this week, I had been considering a very expensive purchase. It had a long-term commitment with it, and I spent a good deal of time carefully considering the deal. In the end, I decided to walk away from the table. The merchant, presumably vindictive, had my checking account, and decided to charge me without my knowledge or consent. It was a trumped up charge that I never understood, and they didn’t feel the need to explain. It was mainly just a $300 fee for wasting their time. I spent the rest of the day causing havoc, sending e-mails and voicemails to everyone but Santa Claus trying to get my money back.

Finally, I was told I would be sent a refund check for the full amount. I should be happy. But I’m not. I’m still mad. Very mad. I’ve been trying to figure out why. I think it’s because the entire ordeal is lacking an apology. An admission of wrongdoing. A resolution. The carefully worded e-mails I have from the merchant are conspicuously devoid of an apology or anything of the sort.

And, I know I will never get it. I don’t expect it. But, without it, it still doesn’t feel like the wrong’s been made right. I guess I’ll just have to settle for a check.