The Prayer

The mortal looked up at the Goddess, that holy creature. Divinity dripped from every pore.

“Of all the Gods, you were my favorite. You were the one I would’ve like to worship most.”

“I know.” Her voice rang loud. “That is why I have come for you. I was your favorite, yet you didn’t worship because you didn’t believe. Now Mortal, Do you believe?”

And the mortal shook his head, “Standing before you now, there is no such thing as faith. I have not the ability, nor the freedom, to believe. I only know.”

And the Goddess devoured the mortal whole, and the mortal accepted his fate. The mortal might have even liked it. For every mortal will perish, and he was able to go gloriously by the teeth of the only immortal he had ever wished was real.

The Happiness Machine isn’t Meaningful

A couple of years ago, when I first started this blog, I decided the purpose would be for posting about things that made me feel alive. I think for a long time, that meant posting about things that brought me joy. Life experience = Feeling Joy = Feeling Alive (or something like that). And that equation is true. Mostly. Feeling joy really does bring fulfillment and meaning for me. However, that equation has become more complex over time.

Life experiences that allow for feeling joy aren’t the only ones that lead to feeling alive. Big, harder to deal with emotions and experiences also make me feel alive.

Grief.

Passion.

Fear.

Anger.

A lot of different feelings are formed through important life experiences and each are part of life. However, two years ago I wasn’t ready to accept these emotions. It was terrifying to think that I will have to feel real grief in my life. It was terrifying to think that I might love someone so much that it might change the course of my life (MY LIFE! Wasn’t it mine to own?). It was terrifying to think that I might love someone so much it would actually hurt to lose them. Ultimately, I wasn’t allowing myself a lot of life experiences because I was afraid they might lead to my unhappiness.

There was an argument in one of my philosophy classes in college called the happiness machine. Basically, if happiness is the meaning of life then there shouldn’t be anything wrong with creating a happiness machine where people spend all of their time becoming happy and don’t do anything else with their life. They go into the happiness machine, they become happy, the end. (A more present day, realistic alternative would be to say that there is nothing wrong with a person using heroine everyday who happened to own an endless supply of money and a caretaker because it makes them happy and happiness is the meaning of life. Can life be truly be wasted on drugs if the person is happy because of the drugs?)

I knew at the time that there was something wrong with this idea but I couldn’t tell my professor what it was. The answer that I now think to be true is that happiness is not the meaning of life.

But don’t we do everything to be happy?

Happiness is a good feeling, of course, but our lives are not built around happiness and nor should they be. Isn’t constant happiness boring? Doesn’t feeling pleasant everyday also make pleasant feel mundane?

The more pleasant our lives become the more inconvenienced we become by insignificances. My nail polish is chipped and I’m too embarrassed to wear that flashy ring that will draw attention to my hands, and God, I really wanted to wear that ring tonight. And then I stop and think, do I really care about my nail polish or am I just looking to care about something?

Classic case of “first world problems”. I’m so grateful for the life I’ve been able to live. I’m grateful that the only problems I’ve had to deal with are insignificant ones. However, those problems really did matter to me. But maybe I would’ve cared less about insignificances if I’d found more significances to care about.

I believe that the purpose of life is to care about life. Having passion for a subject, an activity, and a person have all brought meaning to my life. So that’s what I’m setting out to do. I’m setting out to find a subject that I could ace the jeopardy round to, because I love learning about that subject. I’m setting out to find new hobbies that I love to do even if they are terrifying (skiing is literally falling down a mountain and I am obsessed). I’m setting out to allow myself to be vulnerable, because the risk is also the reward.

Flying

I was a little kid

the night before the first time

I was to board a plane.

I asked my mom

to describe what it felt like to fly.

 

Airports used to be safe spaces for me.

Maybe it was the extra-long security lines

and metal detectors

that gave me the sense

that no harm could come to me here.

Airports are the gateway to the world,

in a completely nonfigurative way.

Everywhere I could think of going

had an actual gateway

leading to a plane

that led to that place.

I loved taking one step on in LA

and getting to step off in Seattle.

(Lately, I haven’t thought of flying

as off to a new adventure

because I’m traveling more often out of need,

and if planes aren’t vehicles

bringing me to an exciting new adventure,

then airports are only well-gaurded buildings

serving overpriced coffee

and more overpriced beer.)

 

My mom wasn’t able to describe flying to me,

that night before my first flight.

She said, “I guess you’ll find out tomorrow.”

I suppose she couldn’t bring herself to tell me

that flying doesn’t feel like the magical feat it actually is.

Flying just feels like

any kind of man-made transportation

except, this time, there is no road

or railway

or attachment to Earth.

Wouldn’t it be surprising to find

that any fatal car accidents

happen when the vehicle is trying to park?

 

I never had a fear of flying.

Take-off nor turbulence have ever bothered me.

I still wouldn’t say I get scared.

Actually, I would choose flying

over any other kind of travel.

There’s the obvious advantage,

the convenience of not having to ride

on a boat for months

to maybe make it across the ocean,

and the fact that getting from LA to Seattle

only takes a couple of hours.

I would even go so far as to say

I love flying

for making the world feel accessible.

(I still don’t love overpriced airport beverages).

 

For some reason I can’t quite comprehend,

I’ve been noticing a new apprehension.

Just at the point where I should be thinking

“At last, we’ve finally made it”

It seems that instead I’ll find

 I’m always a little more afraid to land.

-EKJ

The World Isn’t That Hard to Navigate

It’s Scary. Doing things you’ve never done before. Talking to people you don’t know, who are asking questions you may not have prepared answers for.

We think that our parents must hold the life experience necessary to get things done. It always seemed like it was so much harder for me to make an appointment than my mom. Even when I did actually put in the effort, it seemed to take me two days longer to confirm something with school or the doctors. I thought that my mom might actually have some kind of superpower.

However, sometime in the last couple of years I realized that the person on the other end of the phone is literally paid to talk to you. And usually, the person on the other end of the phone knows enough about what they are doing, that you only have to get halfway to the point. After all, it is their job to help you.

I realized that my mom’s superpower was actually confidence she held in her ability to do it (whatever it happened to be). I realized that everyone has the ability. I realized that the reason it took me two days longer was because I was putting it off for two days. I realized once I started, the thing I was dreading isn’t really that hard at all.

Right now,  I’m in the process of moving across the country. I have talked to so many moving companies I can’t even remember what all of them were offering. But I did it. I found the lowest price for good quality service and my stuff is all going to be put into a moving truck next week and I did that.

Maybe we think the world is hard to navigate, that the doctors appointments are hard to make and the bank is going to be mean to us, because we didn’t have to deal with those things in the past. When you drove around in the back seat as a kid you didn’t know your way back home. I hope now that you’re in the driver’s seat, you realize the whole world is accessible.

Can We Still Have It All?

I wish I had stopped him from boarding that plane

even though I knew he had to leave either way

I hope when he landed he felt me waiting over here

holding the umbrella he left me last year

you see, I’d stopped writing and that wasn’t like me

but I found new words through these apologies

and so much love that seemed to be lost

it’s not run out like what I thought

leaving someone who isn’t meant to be

shouldn’t be this hard, it should be relief

of course I was lonely, he wasn’t here with me

of course I was scared, it was vulnerability

today I know that I’m all in

and I’m not changing my mind again

I  just need him to remember that big blue house

or the dog named Goose we talked about

because I might not love dogs

but I’d like our dog

I’d like our house and our friends and our city

our life together would be really happy

he needs some time to think it through?

I already know he’s the one I choose

I have the time available for taking

when he’s ready, I’ll be waiting

should I need to be more straightforward

I can chalk it all up to just a few words

Just one line will paraphrase:

I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry for the rain

-EKJ

Will I ever like mornings?

I woke up this morning the same way I’ve woken up the whole summer, snoozing my alarm until it’s ten minutes past the point of me being able to get ready in time to not be late for work and feeling like I’m in desperate need of some kind of change. Maybe if I cut off all my hair I would feel different. Maybe I just need to redecorate my apartment. Maybe what I really need is to quit my job, start working at a coffee shop, and spend all of my spare time writing poetry. The only certain thing in life is that it is always changing, and somehow, in this interim of almost being done with school and almost being done living in the city that currently claims me and almost starting a new part (I would say chapter but it feels slightly bigger than that), I feel like I walked through drying cement barefoot. Maybe this is my minds way of preparing me for the changes that are coming my way. Or maybe it really is past the time for me to make that appointment at the hair salon.

It can still be your song

You both like the song. It’s a good song. Right now, you think that song is ‘our’ song. It’s one of the things you share. When you are no longer with him it cannot be shared. Couples who are no longer together don’t share things. That’s why ex-husbands and ex-wives get lawyers. They can’t agree on who gets what. But that restaurant that you used to go to together? It’s not one of the things the lawyers talk about. Neither is this song. This song could continue to be his. He could define those lyrics and that melody. You used to sing and dance along but now you will have to turn down the volume or change the station or, most tragically, take if off your favorites playlist. The better choice? You keep the song. That song can be yours. It should be yours. After all, you both liked the song because it was a good one. So listen to it. While you’re listening to it think about the exact thing you’re doing right then. Be in the moment.If you’re driving, pay attention to the scenery. What does the sky look like? Think about how damn capable you are, driving yourself to the grocery store. If you’re running, smile and feel how strong your legs are. Run and breathe to a rhythm in time with the song. And next time you hear it?This can be the memory you think of. Redefine that song by reliving listening to that song. It can still be yours. It can still be good.

-EKJ

I saw graffiti on a park bench and wondered why someone would want his/her neighborhood looking bad

When you were little and you were asked what you wanted to be when you grew up, did you imagine all of the possible lives you could have lived?

Doctor. Author. Lawyer. Hairstylist. Scientist. Accountant. Clothing Designer. Architect.

I always felt that I was expected to choose. That I would eventually commit myself to one sole profession and that is how I would identify myself. I would be a doctor OR I would be a clothing designer.

This weekend Benjamin Franklin reminded me that having a title doesn’t restrict me to that small area of work, because people are capable of taking on more than one title. Once again, I began thinking of all the things that I might be capable of doing.

Of course, I haven’t jumped into any exciting new projects or written any ideas that might change the world. Instead, I spent last night pondering over the selfish thought that the world is mine to change.

Your World: A philosophical thought experiment.  

You are your neighbor, your teacher and your student, your doctor and your patient, your president and your advisors. You are society. You are the whole world.

If you were living in a world filled with only ‘you’ what kind of world would that be?

Would it be a kind world? Empathetic and understanding? Supportive? Cold and unforgiving?

What about a productive world? Would all of YOU have enough to eat? Would all of YOU survive the next winter? Would you be inventing new ways to make all of YOUR lives better? Would the roads be maintained? Would the buildings keep rising?

I can’t say what my world would look like, but I can tell you that I’m tired of complaining about what it doesn’t look like.

I complain about inconveniences and expect other people to come up with solutions. I complain about having nothing to do, when there is much much more than to be done than what I could ever be capable of doing. I complain about society, but I am part of that society.  This world is mind. This community is mine. This life is mine. It’s time I take ownership.

 

 

Living in the Not Quite Yet

“Wasn’t that enough?”

He was pleading with me

He had told me his secrets

He had let me in his house

I was standing beyond that threshold of a door

in the entry hall

but after one quick glance

I felt ready

(not to stay for dinner)

to take over the kitchen and cook

to see and accept all those spider webs in the attic

to look through the closets

and to lay in his bed

“No”

I was relentless

God, if only I hadn’t said it so seriously

But it wasn’t enough

And now

faced with this question

I wasn’t sure if anything

save everything he had to give

was ever going to be enough

I still wish I could go back

and change my answer

Give myself the chance to appreciate what I was given

Allow him the feeling of having given at all

“For Now”

I would say

-EKJ

 

Sarah

You say you’re cold all the time,

but I think the reason you need the extra sweater

is because you run warm.

The warmer you are,

the colder everyone else must feel.

I know how people surrounding you

are always trying to find a way

to bask in your warmth.

I know, because I’m one of them.

It happens to you

when music touches your skin

and we can see it flow right through you.

It’s light and free

and people might question

whether your movements

are good dancing,

or bad dancing.

All we know for sure

is that we’d like to join you.

We’d like to get taken to that space you occupy,

where the fireflies look like fairies.

The kind of place where you don’t just see emotion,

you are able to feel it quite deeply.

We want to taste sweet sangria

and laugh so loud it’s shocking

(we forgot we were capable of laughing that hard).

We want to thaw in the shelter

of that feeling you give off,

because that feeling,

it’s sunshine.

Sarah,

we want to dance with you.

-EKJ

 

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