Every library holds a universe within its walls.
The hopes and dreams, the children--worlds--of thinkers and lovers and historians are born as books.
In every field from philosophy to fencing success is measured in hardback copies printed sold and placed on shelves next to Hemingway, Rowling and Hawthorne. Books are the currency of the gaudy and great.
Yet every book, a masterpiece to its creator, will be lost in the unending cosmic sea of illuminated thinking. Each world between its bindings one day just another lifeless moon orbiting an insignificant star.
Every world once hailed for promise slowly rots away.
My soul crushing eighty-hour-a-week life is bearable only with Netflix, coffee, Jesus, German chocolate cake, and Arsenal Football Club.
Ah, sports. Ah, Arsenal. I dream of doing what the boys do. They are my true gods.
I could never pull an Ozil, assisting Giroud with a curling thirty yard free kick, but I can tell you all about it.
Itís easy and fun to care about. Itís hard and depressing to care about real life. Itís overwhelming to care about society.
Iíd rather watch grown men attempt to kick a ball into a net then attempt to help the world.
I have a bad attitude when it comes to participating in group activities. I always want them done well. Excellently, in truth.
And though things can be done well with everyone, great things cannot be done unless we admit that some people are simply not cut out for greatness.
I must balance this insight with the fact that I want to be liked. And respected. And powerful.
I must not alienate people. I must acknowledge effort while demanding greatness, with poise, assurance, and grace.
Really, I donít even know what I believe. I believe I could make a good politician.
Only in America do we buy more guns when children are shot.
Only in America do we deny climate change because thereís snow.
Only in America do we mistake continents for counties.
Only in America do we tax the poor and let the rich go free.
Only in America do we make it easier to buy a weapon than vote.
Only in America do we lock our citizens up for profit.
Only in America do we do it all in the name of God.
Only in America do we think we are the greatest nation on Earth.
Only in America.
I am a sentient being.
How grand! Iím now conscious of my consciousness!
Does this make me alive? Or was I already alive, before? Do I need to be conscience of my existence to be alive? Are all non-sentient things dead? Iíve made it up till this instant without being sentient and I was alive, at least I think...so...also, trees. Ok. Iíve always been alive.
This is great! Think of all the logic I can do now! All the books I can write! The places I can go†now that I know†I am truly alive!
Today was the one day a year I watch fake football.
And I watched a lot.
And a lot of adds.
I wonder why we like to watch men give one another concussions.
Maybe itís because we would like to give each other concussions as well.
In the end, football is only an excuse.
Many fake football players end up with brain damage.
Many fake football players have protested.
Nothing has changed.
I wonder why their white bosses donít want to hear about it.
In the end football is only an excuse.
A game is a game is a game.
I wonder what they will think
when they look back at us.
Heartless murderers or
Either way we are still in the wrong.
Ignorant feces throwers or
lazy oil adicts?
Racist confederates or
selfish frightened children?
I wonder what they will think.
They will think that we failed them.
And they will be right.
Someday in the not too distant future
everyone will look back at now and laugh.
The man buns, the graphic tees,
the phones we think are groundbreaking
will all be Ďso 2000sí and a new wave
of forgettable masterpieces will take their place.
we will look back at now and laugh.
The girls we chased, the classes we skipped,
the shows we think are golden
will all be Ďso the old meí and a new wave
of forgettable mistakes will take their place.
We spend our lives
Across the celestial blue swims a scientific sparrow. The wake behind whispers that ocean and sky ocean are kin. Brothers, in fact, separated by nothing but time and wind.
Somewhere deep inside I know that if I could only jump just right I too would be swimming in the ocean of the sky as our lonely metal sparrows do.
I dream of skimming through the clouds and splashing down in water, looking up to see humanity stretched below on grass and green.
For now I must do it from inside a metal bird. It is more than better than nothing.
Are we really better off? Are we really more content? Will phones and tablets planes and cars make us happy in the end?
Are our families now stronger? Are our neighborhoods now safe? Are our friendships growing deeper and our lives enriched by faith?
Do we treasure every moment? Do we find fire in our hearts? Are we really brought together or are we just torn apart?
Certainly we now live longer, have more leisure in our lives, but instead of farms to grow our food we feed on screens and vines.
I wonder what our world will become tomorrow.
It always strikes me as strange†the things I think are normal†are so foreign for my friends.
From my food to my weekends†my God to my time†the every day†in every way†is new†and strange†and frightening.
My worlds, in orbit,†never touch.
My home and my house†are rich German Mennonite.†My language my friends†are as whitebread as me.
At school Iím the hippy,†at church Iím the prep.†At home Iím the good boy,†watching my step.
My worlds never touch.
The spinning hurts my head sometimes.
Tomorrow is the day†we celebrate the things†we have, or had, or havenít had.
A day many canít wait for and a†day many canít wait to see past.
A reminder of the lovers lost:†to stupidity,†naivety,†the unrelenting pull of change.
A reminder of the lovers found†or yet to be:†by laughter,†joy,†the undefinable pull of fate.
Humans, animals, dirt, we come together two lost flowers†in an unending desert of strangers.†We grow together sharing†what little water we have†and we are stronger for the company,†basking in the love we show eachother.
This weekend we drove north. Then east, then west, then east again, then south. Our finish line our starting point, in the same place, but not the same. The classic case of journey, not destination, being the meat of life.
This is true in every way.
We start from dirt. We walk around a little, learn to laugh and cry but end up back in the ground, nourishing mushrooms for our brethren to eat.
I suppose our molecules are better off for the brief foray aboveground. It must be so, for I am better from a weekend to the north.
How we spend our days is how we spend our lives and I am spending mine drifting with routine and tradition my oars and rudders pushing and steering the same way they have since my ninth birthday when I blew out my candles and got an asthma attack and though I havenít had an asthma attack in years its kinda like when I called it off with her and it gave me six weeks of sadness and Coldplayís slow songs on repeat.
I just wish I could plan ahead a little better and avoid both asthma and intense self loathing.
We are nothing without land and we are nothing without family, we are nothing without homes and we are nothing without sky. We are nothing without trees and woods and lakes and streams and forests, we are nothing without fathers, without mothers in our lives.
They have taken all my brothers to their cold and filthy mines, they have stripped my land of timber, filled my lakes with blood and iron, the have ripped my mountains from me and my homeland left for dead, but still I have the Appalachian sky above my head, the Appalachian sky above my head.
I had three miles down and five to go when our paths crossed. It was still morning but the humidity from yesterdayís rains was already rising from puddled rest, assembling in the sky and waiting to fall again this afternoon. He was taller than me, the first person taller than me I had seen since I traded Holland for Papa New Guinea.
I called Ďhello!í A glance, a nod, and an ĎIím in a terrible hurry, sorryí were his only responses. His American businessman English stung my ears.
I carried on through the jungle, whistling and walking toward my people.
Walking to work, like every other day, solitude is my solace even in the city. I hurry past the mass of humanity that has forgotten the meaning of hard work: Drug addicts, dropouts and deadbeat dads asking for my hard earned cash? No way. No, they must earn their salvation.
I stray too close to them. A hand stretches out and grabs my wrist. Emaciated fingers, fungused nails, tattered sweater sleeve, sagging neck, and a beard full of scraps from week old meals...the stench.
The face of Jesus.
ďYou, son, are forgiven.Ē
ď...But I didnít earn it.Ē
Iíll feed the poor tomorrow. Today Iíll get seconds of this food I donít really like.
Iíll visit the prisoners tomorrow. Today Iíll joke about the fact that they probably deserve to be there.
Iíll clothe the naked tomorrow. Today Iíll buy another t-shirt that Iíll wear once or twice a month.
Iíll comfort the sorrowful tomorrow. Today Iíll sit back and watch as the system makes them that way.
Iíll bind up the wounded tomorrow. Today Iíll sit back and cheer while their country gets bombed.
Or maybe, maybe tomorrow Iíll just do what I did today.
The mark of summer isnít rising sun, nor breeze nor wind nor water. It is not begun or brought by rain or moon or stars or fate.
Summer comes from within. It is rejoicing souls released from bondage.
Summer starts on Saturdays when all the children poor out from inside their adulthood disguises and dance in the grass, frisbees tossed and books absorbed and holy mischief at play as all the winter worries melt and God smiles through the sun and promises harvests of plenty.
The smell of life is sweat soaking through deodorant and grass crushed under callused toes.
If youíve seen August Rush, you know that music isnít in concert halls or practice rooms or conservatories, itís in the lives of musicians and everyone and on the streets and in our hearts.
If you havenít seen August Rush, look it up.
If youíve heard Shane Claiborne, you know that the church isnít in cathedrals or chapels or monasteries, itís in the lives of Christians and everyone and on the streets no one is missing a piece of God in their hearts.
If you havenít heard of Shane Claiborne, look him up.
Or look up Jesus. Heís cool too.
Even in the breakneck day to day and constant contact of college, I find myself alone.
My friends and their respective soulmates stare lovingly into eachothers eyes. I laugh and pretend that itís not hard to hang out with them (largely because itís not), but deep down I know that if I wasnít who I was
I would be the one with a friend, the one with someone who wanted to listen to the vibrations of my heart.
I miss that connection. I long for it.
So does everyone.
Why canít it be more simple to be content amongst friends?
In my weakest moments, when the lights are dim and the dayís weight is resting easy on my shoulders, when the music plays and my friends laugh and my hand comfortably holds my cup, in these moments I am happy.
But sometimes in the reverie of everyday a lightning bolt strikes.
Who are we to create, destroy, enjoy? We are primates in all black suits searching for meaning and truth, burying our fear beneath art and inescapable tradition. We are gods enslaved to the gods of our fathers.
Ever so slowly the cogs of society turn
circling and circling
Time is what it is.
We think we know, we think we get it, we think we understand the flow and pull of constant ticking. We run the clocks, we set their rhythm to the stars, we run the clocks
but in the end the clocks run us, not the other way around
dependent on our watches phones and wall mounted trophies to tell us when to eat and sleep and live and die and love and learn and everything between.
Before the age of constant ticking I may have been on time, but now Iím always tardy.
He wasnít born this way. He was taught to kill,
taught that killing solves problems
but all it does is break.
He broke our hearts and safety nets
once again our hearts are broken.
Senseless violence wasnít senseless to him,
He must have had a reason to give up his two children
to the unknown
and to drag others over the edge with him and his bullets.
Where were Godís people when he needed them most?
As mothers mourn their dead children
we mourn the mourning mothers.
The sky is still blue when thereís blood on the ground.
The news spread like wildfire, out of control and colorful.
Ď...two, three shooters, four scenes...
...Newton medical on lockdown...
...more ambulances continue to arriveÖí
But a day later there is nothing really changed. Some glass to be picked up, some emotional calls to be made, some lives to be put back together.
Some tables that will always have an empty chair.
It was beautiful, today. The sun was out, the wind was low--for Kansas, at least--and the mellow consistency of hospitality and naivety returned to our Kansas town.
We are going back to sleep. What a way to be woken.
I feel my legs beneath me, so tired, so sore, so forced and
used and run down. They protest my every move, my midnight shifts for comfort,
my morning walks to class. And all caused by recreation, ha!
I can stand to run a little more. My fathers had to run,
too, run much farther, much harder, much quicker than I. Great grandpa, he
escaped his masterís house, the south, with only his legs and his brains. Those
legs then fought for the north. Free legs.
My muscles may ache, but they will keep going. They will
push onward. Free.
In a roundabout way I am reassured by the need for leap days.
Deep down we know donít understand the universe, and the fact that once every four years we need February to take one for the team is simply a reminder that though we may science our way out of a lot of crap we canít even make a calendar that works right without hating on the second month of the year.
Tomorrow some people my age will turn four.
The universe is full of wonder. A day that comes just once every four years, that is certainly wonderful.
A wise man once said to me that a wise man once said to him something along the lines of that
architecture is like frozen music: structural and beautiful, an art, graceful, meaningful, protecting and physical.
If this is the case, then, I wonder what type of song my house is. Late fifties construction, so what? Elvis?
My house is a hymn. The walls and floors the base, the tenors the plates and tables and beds and carpets, the alto the lights, the paint, the things that make it home, and the soprano the real people living within.