Wrestling with rest

Prologue

When you are concussed,
they say you should rest.

Sleep, yes —
but not just that.
Rest your brain,
so it can recover
from the impact
of collision
inside your skull.

Rest:
No watching TV
No computers
No bright lights
So, basically, no screens
No physical activity
No critical thinking
No reading

I stare intently,
but the computer screen
I shouldn’t be peering at
still shows the same words.

Well, what on earth am I
supposed to do then?

I know, I know.
Rest.

Chapter

After another day of work that entails staring at a bright computer screen all day, writing, reading, and thinking critically, I sit down and finish the last couple chapters of my book.

Now, I will rest.

I open my laptop and bring up a blank, bright white Word document on the screen. I try to think of what I want to write, what I have to say, but nothing comes to me.

I sit in silence, eyes closed. And then, a thought emerges: Peace, be still.

Background noises come to my mind’s forefront. I hear the rain splatter on the roof. The vehicles in the intersection hum, squeal, and clank. They are not the only travelers on the road. Water droplets have taken individual journeys and now collect together in puddles, filling the potholes and crevices in the road. They rest together for a moment, until they are disturbed and displaced by a set of rubber tires — another vehicle in a hurry to get somewhere other than there.

Epilogue

Distraction
Commotion
Chaos
Turmoil —
Our worlds are filled
to the brim with it all,
making it difficult
to extract yourself,
to withdraw,
to slow down,

to rest,
to simply be still.

Reason, Purpose, and a bit of March Madness

IMG_1553Man, the month of March has flown away in a mad flurry, taking with it my perfect March Madness bracket. But, like Coca-Cola keeps reassuring me, it’s not my fault the teams didn’t cooperate with me. That’s beside the point, however.

So, what is the point?

To put it clearly: The point of this post is to contemplate the point of reason, the point of purpose, the purpose of reason, and the reason for purpose.

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Not clear enough?

Throughout the month of March, the word “reason” resonated in my mind and I jotted down phrases using the word as they came to mind. For example:

               Give me one good reason why…

               Let me reason with you…

               Without rhyme or reason…

               I found a reason…

               I am here for a reason…

The definitions for “reason” all pertain to the mind, as they deal with explanation, thought and understanding. Essentially, they focus around rationale and logic.

As humans, we tend to look for a reason in everything. We want a good reason as to why we should buy a particular brand over another one. We give reasons for why people, banks or companies should invest in us. The reasons, explanations and justifications we give are based on a process of logic.

For instance, while some people might fill out their March Madness bracket willy-nilly and hope for the best, there are a multitude of others who use reason to create the most likely-to-win bracket.

You consider each team. How have they performed in the past? Do they have notable injuries? Are they experienced? What’s their offense like? What’s their 3-point shooting percentage? How’s their defense? You attempt to logically account for unexpected twists, justifying a #15 seed upset over a #2 seed because crazy upsets happen all the time. In a process of reason and logic — and a bit of guesswork — you attempt to create a perfect bracket.

Isn’t that similar to life, sometimes? We go through life, logically assessing what steps to take in order to get to a certain place, to achieve a certain goal. We plan everything out, submitting to the fact that an occasional upset might happen that disrupts the process.

But we’re almost never prepared for those upsets. Just like there’s no way for you to know that Arizona (#2) will lose to Xavier (#11) and screw up your bracket, there’s no way of knowing you’ll tear your ACL in a college intramural flag football game, forcing you to learn how to walk correctly again (speaking from experience here).

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When those upsets happen, we begin to question the reason behind it all.

It’s easy to wonder, “Why am I going through this?” We try to justify it, thinking there must be a logical reason for it. But it’s hard to understand why these things are happening to you. When that injury blindsides you, or a relationship falls apart, or you lose a job, or you feel alone, or…

There can’t be a logical reason for those upsets in life, right?

Maybe, reason needs to give way to purpose.

Purpose: The reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists.

What’s the purpose in a March Madness bracket? Some do it for fun; others do it for money; and some do it for the promise of eternal glory when you — yes, you! — achieve that elusive perfect bracket.

Until that perfect bracket is shattered and your somewhat depressed, befuddled brain remembers the purpose of the entire March Madness basketball tournament — one team’s quest to successfully hurdle all of those upsets in its attempt to achieve ultimate victory.

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Maybe, the reason we experience upsets in life is to realize, remember, or reinforce our purpose… in life, in relationships, in your abilities.

When you finally heal from that injury, you no longer take for granted the ability to walk, sit, or sleep without pain. When you start a new job and are overwhelmed with training, you remember what is was like when you were overwhelmed while searching for a job, thinking you would never find one. Or, when you recognize someone who is hurting, you are able to help them because you went through the same hurt.

Maybe, instead of looking for a reason behind everything, we should be looking at our purpose in everything.

What do the Dark Side, Open Shortest Path First and Psalm 119:105 all have in common?

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To put it bluntly, I have been almost pathologically pondering paths.

Well, perhaps my desire to use alliteration and the word “pathological” makes that sound more extreme than it actually was, but let me semi-prove my point. A brief glimpse into Jen’s mind: Path. Paths. Follow the path. “You’re going down a path I can’t follow.” We all have paths we follow. Open Shortest Path First.  

Suffice it to say, if I had followed that original thought process, I would now be discussing either Anakin’s path to the Dark Side or Open Shortest Path First internet routing protocol. But I’m not, so rest easy.

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Instead, my thoughts turned elsewhere: Path. Paths. Follow the path. We all have paths we follow… “Your word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”

Psalm 119:105 is one of those Bible verses that is so well-known, it becomes almost commonplace. I’ll be honest, I almost passed over it to focus on another thought. But then, I stopped.

Google, what is a path?

Google: A way or track laid down for walking or made by continual treading.

Continual treading. Those words intrigued me and prompted me to write the following words: A path indicates presence.

A path suggests that someone or something else has previously been in that same place.

Life snowflakes, we humans are unique. Our lives are unique. Yes, we can make similar choices and decisions, but our paths are all different. We have different experiences. You follow your path, and I follow my path.

“Your word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”

If no one else has journeyed on my life’s path, how then can it be considered an actual path — if we consider Google’s definition and continual treading? If only I can follow my life’s path, then who or what has been there before me to create that path?

Let me turn your attention to the subject of Psalm 119:105 — word. More specifically, God’s word. How can God’s word be present to shine on our path? To answer that, I refer you to John 1:1 — “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

God is the one who went before us, treading our paths. He prepared the paths that will lead us to the people we meet and the places we go. He even lights the way for us.

Will we choose to follow that path?

How writer’s block and an old poem resulted in thoughts on trust

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I’ll be honest here: I was having a brain fart. Or a writer’s block. Or something.

So, I put on my music and considered writing a poem instead. But when opening Word, I glimpsed a poem I wrote on December 20, 2016. I opened “The musical river” and read it. Reading that spawned another idea, which led me to my blog and prompted me to write the following words: “I’m still not quite sure how I want to get a point across. So for now, I have another exercise.”

Well, let me just take it from there, because my writer’s block went away.

If you would, go to iTunes or Spotify or YouTube and pick your favorite song to listen to. And I mean, a song that really, really gets you — every single time you listen to it. (If you’re at a loss for a song, here’s one from The Piano Guys.)

Now, lose yourself… in the music, the moment…

***

The musical river

One musical note
doesn’t seem like much —
as a single drop of water
doesn’t amount to much.

Perhaps this note is a B flat
or a C sharp —
and perhaps this drop of water
falls from the faucet
or drops from the sky.

On its own,
that one musical note
seems lonely and without context —
and the drop of water
seems small and insignificant.

But when that one tone
is followed by other individual tones —
and when that drop of water
is joined by more beads of water —

together they define a new creation.

The musical notes
support each other,
lead each other,
pushing forward with a sense
of purpose and perseverance —
as the drops of water
join together to become
a single entity
that flows with elegant determination,
until, at last,

the end of a new masterpiece.

***

I’ve been thinking a lot about trust recently. In fact, I’ve been thinking about trust for the past couple of months. And when I thought of trust, my thoughts turned to trust falls. I’m sure you all know what a trust fall is, but just in case:

Trust is scary. That moment you choose to let yourself fall is a moment when you place complete control into the hands of someone else. You trust that person to ignore surrounding distractions and catch you, support you.

So, these thoughts were lingering in my mind, when I turned on my music and read this poem again. That’s when the following thoughts passed through my mind: Each musical note does a trust fall into the next one. Without the next note to catch the one before it, the music ceases to be.

The musical notes in your favorite song rely on each other to create the final outcome. Without that trust, their existence and ultimate purpose would be undetermined and meaningless.

I’ll let you ruminate on that thought for a bit.

I will trust and not be afraid

img_4026-newIn my previous post, I left you at a ledge with a decision to make: Would you stay content in the darkness or would you move toward the light?

That ledge is daunting. You have no idea how far the drop is or what you might find below — if you survive the fall. To jump would mean losing control. It would be a leap of faith — belief without logical proof that there is more than the darkness you’ve been in, that purpose can be found.

You jump.

Your heart pounds violently, and your stomach flops as you fall. You’re terrified and utterly helpless. You have no idea what will happen to you.

You continue to fall, until, suddenly, you’re submerged in cold water. Water rushes into your lungs and you try to keep your head above water. You tread water, but the water is deep and you quickly get tired. You try to swim, but you don’t know which direction to go. You yell out for help.

Then, you hear a voice say, “Here, take my hand.” You reach your arm out to grasp the outstretched hand. The person is in a small boat that has a lantern attached to the helm. The lantern’s light emits a warm glow that contrasts with the icy water engulfing you. The person hoists you into the boat and wraps a warm, dry blanket around you.

You don’t know who the person is. You don’t know where the person is going. But the person has helped you.

The person turns to look at you and asks you a question…

… and before you answer, I want you to remember that Princess Jasmine wouldn’t have discovered a whole new world if she hadn’t first decided to answer the same question:do-you-trust-me

Do you trust me?

An exercise in faith

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Imagine this:

You’re in a space with no light, immersed in complete darkness.

You stretch your arms out in front of you, seeking something — anything — for your fingers to touch and recognize. You move one foot cautiously forward, making sure there is solid ground underneath for you to step on.

With this carefulness, you walk around blindly, relying on your senses to perceive what is safe and what is not.

As your fingers and feet are exploring, you catch your breath. Your front foot has nowhere to go. The ground has disappeared in front of you. Realizing you are at a ledge, you take a step backward and return to the ground you know is safe.

You sit there. You lose all sense of direction. There is nothing but you and the stifling darkness. You begin to think you’ll never escape.

Suddenly, your eyes are jolted by a flicker of light.

It is small and distant, yet it radiates energy and purpose in the still darkness.

The ledge looms between you and the faraway light.

Now what do you do?

Do you stay in the darkness?

Or do you walk toward the light?

Star Wars, a novel idea and anagrams

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I’m pretty excited, people. Not just because Christmas is coming, or because the new Star Wars movie releases in a matter of weeks (although that is, of course, extremely exciting… there are so many theories about who Rey is related to, and some think Jyn from Rogue One could be her mom… hmmm… maybe we’ll find out… sorry, geekiness over… for now).

Back to the original reason for my excitement. I have an idea for a novel that I actually really love. I mean, I’ve dabbled in various plot ideas before, yet have never really committed to one particular story. But now? I’ve been consistently writing, researching and pondering about my plot and the characters. I want to know more about the characters I’m meeting, where they’re going and what they’re doing… but I’m the one who’s creating them. The suspense is killing me. (Does that make me the orchestrator of my own demise?)

Interestingly enough, the idea stemmed from my actual job. I cover a specific area of technology, constantly reading, writing, editing and researching technological content. I find it interesting… and apparently so did my subconscious. One day, my protagonist just showed up, running for her life. Let me tell you, that was intriguing.

I have more plot than that, don’t worry. But I don’t really want to reveal too much yet. Partly because I still don’t know where exactly the story is going, and partly because I would be way too intimidated. But I’m excited about it. Things keep popping up, and I think, “Wow, that would work so well with the plot.” Or, “So that’s how this could happen.” 

Also, the plot sometimes takes a turn into the world of SciFi. I’ve never envisioned myself writing SciFi. I don’t have anything against it — you need only look at the first paragraph of this post to recognize that. But I never thought it would emerge in my writing. And while what I have so far is not full-fledged SciFi or anything, it does have a sprinkling of it.

But that’s all I’m saying about it at this point. Maybe I’ll eventually post snippets of it here… we’ll see. But for now, I’ll give you another tidbit of my writing. I was reading poetry by Anne Bradstreet yesterday, in which she created some anagrams — where you rearrange letters in words to create different words. This is what her work inspired:

 Finer hens jingle.

I know, I know. Riveting. I bet you can’t wait for a story about fine hens jingling, right?